Monday, July 28, 2008

G-G-G-G-G-Granville! (#1)


As I nonchalantly remarked in my last post, I used to have a most appalling stammer, and I wondered if by relating my stammering story to you I might finally purge myself of these demons. Arkwright in Open All Hours had a stammer, didn’t he. Repeating the first consonant - about 6 times, in perfect drama-school iambs - of a few words carefully chosen for their comic potential. My, how we laughed! But those in the stammering community laughed longest and loudest, a hollow laugh, knowing as we did that this was no representation of the daily tonsil-twisting, gargoyling horror of our lives. Poor old Arkwright, eh? But, as Mrs Boyo has so considerately pointed out, there is a cure! In fact there are many cures!! All you have to do is subject yourself to the one that your local clinic is currently experimenting with.

Somebody once told me that Pacific Islanders take a homeopathic approach, and stammerers’ brains are made into a palliative which is fed to other stammerers. Somebody else told me that in Africa they make you stand on your head so that your visual world accords with your topsy-turvy verbal one, thus bringing inner harmony. In the light of such advanced science we should not belittle Mrs Boyo’s own remedy, or indeed the esteemed Lada 1500 car battery. The ancient Romans, it is believed, threw the stammerer into a pit full of poisonous snakes, the shock of which ensured that the person never spoke again, let alone stammered. I had this done on the NHS. It was the 1970s, and a return to natural remedies was being embraced by all sectors of an increasingly under-funded and drunken medical profession. Only, being the NHS, they couldn’t afford the snakes. It was basically just a council refuse skip with a few earthworms with stripes painted on their backs. It was rubbish. I wasn’t scared at all. I ate a few of them with some Jacob’s Cream Crackers that my mum had given me in my packed lunch and then went to sleep in the corner.

Now, I’m going to tell you in a future post - and out of especial respect to Mrs No Good Boyo - how stammering made a linguist amātor of me. But now I’m going to tell you how it made me a MAN. Due to my total inability to express myself verbally, I seized at the one way in which I could give vent to the emotions that were clamouring within my eager breast. Dancing! Yes, I hear a few of the sniggers starting up again. Dancing? Do what?….like that Wayne Sleep?…. Quentin Crisp? - he’s definitely thought about it! Dancing. Well, let me put it to you, which lady wouldn’t like to have a Gene Kelly or a Fred Astaire take her in their arms? Yes, not to beat about the bush, there’s always skirt around when you’re a dancer. And so, many classes with Mrs Twigginbottom-Booth and broken hearts later, I’d forged triumph from the dross of despair. Still not convinced? Well, where’d a lady rather be at a party: sitting in a puddle of beer with the fatties in the Motorhead t-shirts talking about vomit, or being glided expertly around the fag-butt-strewn floor by the quiet one with the intriguing sexuality? Go on, ask them!

13 comments:

No Good Boyo said...

Moving, Gadjo. I'm glad you practiced proper dance like the Austrians do, not self-expressive nonsense.

An interest in modern dance is the hallmark of the buffoon. Billy Elliot corrupted the youth of our nation, and not in a good way.

There's a lady rabbi on the South Coast who claims to interpret Torah through dance. She is an American. I'm a deeply reactionary person, and this sort of thing doesn't help make me fit for liberal society at all.

I lisped as a child, but managed to control it by not using sibilants - at least not for speaking purposes. Welsh tends not to bother with them anyway, which helped.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Dance went west when we were told that Gene Kelly was the better dancer than Fred Astaire (utter drivel: he may have been technically better but Astaire was infintely more graceful and aesthetically pleasing).

I used to have an interest in modern dance. Which is to say, I used to get dragged out to a lot of modern dance and still have the bruises. The way I see it, if a girl drags a bloke out to watch some athletic young women getting sweaty in a thin leotard she's got no cause for complaint if he starts paying too much attention to the dancer.

Oh, and sympathies with the stammer. I really did pick mine up from work.

Kevin Musgrove said...

MY mind's wandering (understandably). The women didn't all share the one leotard.

Not an unpleasing thought, though.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ah, Boyo, I've misled you a little in the cause of self-glorification. I never actually did ballroom dancing and could never achieve the perfection of Mr Astaire if I lived to be 1000. Actually, for a while I was probably more like your rabbi friend....or Kate Bush. Though it may ameliorate your sensibilities to hear that I learnt expressionist dance from a 85 year-old walking-stick-wielding Austrian lady. Lisping always sounds attractively Elizabethan to me; I hope you managed to derive some kudos from it, with or without sibilants.

Somebody said that Kelly was a better dancer than Astaire, Kevin?? I can watch both of them, but I'd ask the person who said this to step outside and give me satisfaction - Queensberry rules, of course. Sorry to hear about your work-related stammer: this can happen, the secret is to play it up and soon everybody will realise that they'll get quicker service by asking one of the other librarians. Regarding young women in sweaty leotards, mmmm, after my comment above I realise now that it probably was Kate Bush who started everything off for me.

Gyppo Byard said...

Astaire was the man. Or at least the gay bloke...

My favourite dance-related memories involve hours sat on the edge of the dance faculty pavilion at the Indonesian Arts Institute watching young ladies practice Javanese and Balinese classical dance. All in the service of my knowledge of the culture, of course.

As for lisping, I always had a sneaking suspicion that self-obsessed whingeing colonial scribbler Sylvia Plath was born Sylvia Plass, but owing to a lisp introduced herself to everyone as Thylvia Plath.

No Good Boyo said...

Which brings me back neatly to the subject of ballerinas, about which I've promised to write. I'll get on with it as soon as I've got assorted images of Kate Bush out of my head

The Dotterel said...

Can somebody explain why people with a stammer can still sing fluently? (And dance too, for all that!)

Gadjo Dilo said...

You could be right, Gyppo. I could never enjoy her work much. It's a shame she didn't have the whimsy to write it as she spoke it, she might still be with us:

"But they pulled me out of the thack,
And they thtuck me together with glue.
...
And a love of the rack and the thcrew.
And I thed I do, I do.

They did they did, it's twoo!!*
"

Let those images stay there Boyo, we'll see her like again.

Mr Dotterel, it's for the same reason that deaf people have a hightened sense of hearing and big-boned women buy lots of shoes. Stammerers can also often talk fluently to animals - strange!

* Err, I (or rather Morwenna Banks) added this last line.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Which brings me neatly to my ongoing, and rather boring, quest to find out what happened to the stammering singer Christopher Rainbow? It eats away at me, really it does. You see, he was enormously popular in about 1974, due mainly to the patronage of Kenny Everett who,at the time, had a show on Capital Radio, and blasted off every morning with Solid State Brain (Rainbow's biggest hit). I didn't like Christopher R, but that song (and I can't remember a single note of it; and believe me, I've nagged everyone and they can't remember, either), yes, that song would bring that sacred year and those blessed times tumbling back to me. Can anyone help? He is not even on iTunes (I have teenage children; they help me with these things). Is he dead?
Dancing is big news in the Pouncer household. Apart from the obvious (Pouncer and I leading the Eightsome Reels at hunt balls; Pouncer and I fishtailing in the middle of a quickstep; Pouncer ill-advisedly doing the twist with his secretary at a Goldman Sachs do; my rhumba retaliation with a humble clerk etc etc) our elder daughter is one of the few to have a degree in choreography, and sits on the board of a highly esteemed commission. She is the hand - the foot, too - behind many of the extravaganzas that you see heralding municipal, and even international, brouhahas and blahblahblah blah. Sorry. I try to boast, but then I bore myself. Let us just say that my thighs would not be what they are today without the plies of my youth, and leave it at that. What are all those gaps in your post, Gadjette? Are they supposed to illustrate stammering?
(PS for Kevin - do you remember Julian & Sandy's choreographer friend - Reynard La Spoon?)

Gadjo Dilo said...

He's on Wikipedia, Mrs Pouncer. I'd never heard of him. Do you get those gaps too? They're references to other blog posts, and if you click on them you should be referred; though I can't seem seem to make the text I've written there show up. This also happens on old references that I created. Any ideas anybody?

I'm going write an top-ten of stammering songs for you, Mrs P. And I also remember Reynard La Spoon!

Mrs Pouncer said...

Merci, Gadji. I am a novice at Wikipedia, but shall use it forthwith and fearlessly.
Incidentally, does A List of Liszt's Lists mean anything to you? It just came into my head.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Liszt was a Hungarian gentleman, and here is a list of the lists that I suspect he would have made:

1: Restaurants where they serve great goulash
2: Uniforms that make you look dashing on horseback
3: Ways of killing yourself to maintain the famously high Hungarian suicide rate
4: European regions you can rule without ever being the majority ethnic group

Ooerr..... bocsánat!

No Good Boyo said...

I remember the interwar story of the Budapest papa who buys his little daughter a globe. She return it in tears, screaming "but I want one with just Hungary on it!"

A Hungarian can enter a revolving door behind you, and still emerge ahead of you.