Monday, May 22, 2006

War correspondents vs tipsters

Some newspaper-bashing for balance. This is a soldier's cogent explanation of why horse racing ceased during the First World War. Unfortunately, because of C.E. Montague's way with non-RP dialogue, it appears to be spoken by Dick Van Dyke:

The pipers done it. Want to get aht o' pyin' a fair wige to a taht for 'angin' abaht Noomawket 'Eath. It tikes a man o' skill to watch a maw'nin gallop. Not like war correspondin'. Naow use feedin' backers a bag of emowshnal bilge abaht 'eroes an' cheery wounded an' any old muck. A taht must know 'is job. An' wiges accordin'...

-- from "The First Blood Sweep", in Montague's short story collection Fiery Particles.

[Fiery Particles, by C.E. Montague, London, 1923. Scarcely better than the Montague Cockney is the Montague Irishman, distinguished by his fondness for apostrophes and anti-semitism. This collection gives you him at war and at peace. It still manages some penetrating writing, though. The best story is probably "Honours Easy", in which two privileged officers far from the front compete to collect medals. One hunts blue ribbons, the other red. Montague despises them both, but he would never go so far as to transcribe their accents phonetically.]

1 comment:

petersen said...

Check out 1960s US sports journalism some time for amazing stuff like this. When Roberto Clemente became the first Latin American baseball superstar, the sportswriters didn't exactly distinguish themselves. When he was being quoted, ol' Roberto never "hit" a ball. He only ever "heet" it.