Saturday, 25 December 2010
The Idiotic Christmas Address
[Drum roll; dingy opening chords of National Anthem; sound effect of screeching gramophone needle]
No, please, sit down, sit down! Sorry about that. Yet another scratch on the National Anthem disk. One day, someone is going to play that thing at the proper speed, and realise that's it's actually a bit of a thrash.
Record playing speeds are a thing of the past, of course. I remember an amusing letter to the editor of the Guardian early in 1978, which went something like this: "I was born in '45, and am now 33 in '78. Is this a record?" Well, OK, you had to be there. It used to be a way of passing a wet afternoon, playing Elvis Presley 78s at 45 rpm. It was also not a bad way of learning the guitar riffs, of course.
By the same token, you have to wonder why that screeching noise is still universally understood as "a recording halted prematurely, perhaps terminally". I wonder how many people under 50 have ever heard that sound in real life? In fact, I wonder how many people over 50 have ever heard it in real life? I'm not sure that I have. Maybe it doesn't really sound like that at all -- perhaps it's just a sound effect that everyone uses, because it sounds like a record getting good and scratched ought to sound.
I can feel a metaphor building here, something about real life and the way its representations and shortcuts increasingly lose touch with reality over time. "Three sheets to the wind" would be an appropriate example, right now, I suspect. But, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it's Christmas Day, it's after lunch and I've got a literal goose to cook -- I'll let it go.
I hope it's been a good year for you, your families, and your friends. Above all, I hope you've found some fulfilment through photography, writing or some other expressive activity (cooking, or even some clever swearing counts, but shopping definitely doesn't).
May I wish you the very best of everything in the coming year. I have some rather fine bottles of single malt whisky nearby (proper Scottish whisky, that is --The Macallan Fine Oak, Laphroaig and a Jura) and will be toasting you all later this evening for your comments and encouragement over the past year:
(Gaelic for "Great health" or, allegedly for Jacobites, "health to Marion" i.e. the king over the water. Pronounced: slanj-uh vorr)