Somewhere, in a parallel universe Stephen Fry and Sir David Attenborough are cage fighting – at stake the King Of The Documentary Heavyweight Belt (probably sponsored by Orange). Both respected in their fields. Both with velvety tones that could aid the digestion of a hefty Sunday roast. It’s a tight match.
At the same time in our universe they are still battling, this time for ratings. Fry’s latest offering “Posh Voice-Overs About Words” has just finished, and Attenborough’s “Pretty Animals In The Cold” is about to air. As much as even the hardest heart could not be moved by the incredible camera work of Attenborough’s team (the man is 100, he could never withstand the temperature), my vote is going to Fry.
It wasn’t a walk over though- the floppy haired toff does have his faults, one such being the scene where he congratulated the young child of the Turkana tribe, labelling him a ‘miracle’ for his use of language. Patronise much Stephen? My main issue with the series is that a huge areas of language have been excluded. Perhaps future series can cast a glance on dickie (Oxford English Dictionary approval pending) use of words, like those used every day in big business throughout the globe.
Having recently started a new job in this area, I have found the way words are flung about willy nilly to be staggering. While children throughout the world starve, and wonderful, cultured, guardian reading protesters clutter up St Paul’s cathedral, innocent workers are being abused every day and their voices need to be heard. There are men and women in offices near you being made to participate in….wait for it….seminars. In one I was coerced into participating recently, a group of non-like-minded individuals were being made to shout out words and then write them down with special pens. At one point I felt a strange spirit enter me, and I wanted to scream ‘innovent’ with a side order of jazz hands (maybe in a bit of late 1980’s video kind of way). Sesshhh, and some people are concerned about the likes of Billy Graham (other massively wealthy and popular evangelists are available). This is the same crowd who invented a word – ‘busyness’ – to describe how busy they are. I have news for you people, that word already exists, and it is ‘busy’.
This is not however my worst experience of corporate-speak overload. Sadly that happened in Leeds. A week-long session on the title ‘Swedish-ness’. This is not a joke. What I gleaned from this criminal waste of time and money is that the Swedes work very hard, are as tight as a (insert your own stereotype here), and that no amount of coloured paper and interactive exercises can raise the spirits of a manager whose soul is already dead.
If Mr. Fry asks me to contribute to this next work-orientated language odyssey, I do have a word for him. Or maybe two, and they are jog on.