what, no tea?
what, no tea?
The British don't do tea anymore. We seem to have developed a fear of putting the tongue to the teeth.
Whereas once a word like "subtle" would have a nice sharp crisp "t" in between the syllables, now they
are separated by a nondescript guttural sound hanging somewhere near the epiglottis like an inconvenient
piece of phlegm. It was a futile exercise trying to raise standards so as part of our desire to appear more
egalitarian we've chosen to lower ourselves. It's no longer smart to be smart.
Where did this affectation come from, this home grown copy of Hollywood Cockney? It first came to my notice
when our erstwhile esteemed leader made me cringe with embarrassment using it as part of a shallow popularist
attempt to widen his dwindling appeal. Unfortunately it only served to highlight his insincerity. But it must have
been around for a while before that for him to consider it's use to be of political value. "Education, education,
education" - how ironic that such a privileged man should then choose to emulate the illiterate?
So perhaps this refusal to speak the words as written is a defiant show of working class heroics? A rejection
of our privilege and fortune for the camaraderie of inverted snobbery. We are all in the gutter so we must be
stars, or at least reflections of them. In deference to those who climbed out of the mire to reveal brilliance
we pretend to share their disadvantage, maybe in the hope that we will be similarly blessed. An indicator
to all concerned that we too are playing on the bass clef of the social stave with an appropriate aversion
to the dizzy heights. The salt of the earth are we, revelling in our beauty as burnished turds.
Or do we think we're making English more accessible, glossing over the inaccuracies different tongues might
be prone to through their own particular linguistic heritage? Are we turning a deaf ear in a patronising attempt
to seem more inclusive? And yet if this were so why would so many Scots, Irish, Germans, French, Dutch,
Italians and the rest have a cleaner grasp of it than us? Why have we chosen to be the grunting pigs of Europe?
As always, the British seem determined to lose at their own game.
I don't wish to seem hypocritical, my diction is far from perfect, but when English is spoken properly it fills me
with delight. When I hear words pronounced with sufficient subtlety to reveal their grammatical construction and
history I aspire to do the same. I'm not being pompous or sniffy. I just wonder why at a time when the rest of the
world is making such an effort to speak our language properly, we have given up trying. "Oh dear", I hear them say,
"you appear to have dropped your tea!"