Monday, 22 October 2007

Favourite words

People always laugh at me when I say that one of my favourite words in the whole wide world is rhododendron. Go on, say it out-loud now (no one’s looking) ‘rhod-dod-den-dron’. Isn’t it just lovely to say? It might in fact be my very favourite word, with ‘shimmy’ a close second, were it not for the racing drivers of Formula One.

Okay, they might be ‘names’ rather than ‘words’ as such, but in my book they still count as marvellous words to say out-loud. Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Räikkönen. These names are gorgeous, they simply roll off the tongue, and they are glorious to say aloud! Never mind who drives what and who has just won what, I love them to bits (the names, that is), and welcome any opportunity to repeat them, at length, sometimes even in context.

The Grand Prix yesterday gave me many happy Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Räikkönen opportunities, as well as reaffirming my belief that Formula One racing drivers destiny is set the moment they are christened. I mean they all sound like racing drivers for a start; you just wouldn’t get a Jenson Button working in a call centre, or a Rubens Barrichello at the desk next to you balancing paper clips.

Formula One, and its lullaby of names, is for me the equivalent of Radio Four’s shipping forecast, or the old Saturday afternoon football results, all famous for their hypnotic qualities.

The shipping forecast is much loved by many that don’t have ships for example. The waters around Britain are split into different areas, and all have a strange poetic appeal – Viking, Hebrides, Fair Isle, FitzRoy, Biscay… It becomes almost hypnotic as you listen to broadcasts such as:

Viking, Fair Isle, southeast veering southwest 4 or 5. Rockall, Shannon, southwest gale 8 to storm 10, veering west, severe gale 9 to violent storm 11. Rain, then squally showers.

Especially when you don’t know what any of it means, but what you do know is that you are safe tucked up in bed and not out there in ‘Shannon’ battling a squally shower.

As for Grandstand’s Saturday afternoon football results, Final Score I think it was. This may be a thing of the past now, but I remember well my dad and brother watching to see if Spurs had won, while I was counting down the minutes to The A Team. But I was soon lulled in by the warmth of announcer Len Martin’s voice, as you could try and guess from his tone who had won. The results would be read like this, with little pauses for the other team’s score, and occasional rising tones suggesting a mild surprise that Nottingham Forest got 3 goals, for example.

Tottenham Hotspur 3, Middlesbrough… 1
West Bromwich Albion 2, Nottingham Forest… 3
Aston Villa 1, Crystal Palace… 1

And onwards he would read, giving all the Divisions results and placements so those at home that did the Football Pools would know if they were millionaires (or whatever it was in the early 80’s). Apparently Len Martin said that his worst result to read out was: Forfar 5, East Fife 4. I love that.


musicobsessive said... results. You can always tell, can't you?
(rising)Torquay 3 (falling)Aldershot 0
Or (rising)Stockport County 2 (still rising) Brentford 2

I've got a book called 'British Greats' which is a compendium of short essays by well known people on peculiarly British things, like queuing and fish 'n chips. In it Michael Palin talks about listening with his dad to the football results, broadcast on radio during the 1950s. It's classic stuff - a religeous experience to be absorbed in total reverence after the tea things have been put away. A glimpse at strange place names in a world less travelled than today. Football eh? Bloody hell! as Sir Alex Ferguson once described it.

Jayne Ferst said...

'A glimpse at strange place names...' - exactly! Especially when I was younger, all the football teams sounded magnificient. Did Crystal Palace play in a palace made of crystal? Was Nottingham Forest in a forest? What on earth was a 'hotspur'? It was all glorious sounding stuff, regardless of the actual football.

I think I'd quite like that book of yours, I'll have to look out for it!

musicobsessive said...

If you're interested, try sticking ISBN 1841881376 into Amazon and you'll see that they don't sell it but you can pick it up for £1.95 through Amazon market sellers! A bargain I'd say.

idil o. calvero said...

hmm... jayne ferst... sounds like a novelist :)

it was a huge dissapointment for me when i learned that there was no sea in the city which can be translated as sth like "city with the sea"... i was 6.