The twenty-seventh of September, 2011: it is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays

There’s been a predictably pleased response to the first episode of Stephen Fry‘s latest TV programme for the BBC, Planet Word. If it’s okay with linguistic lord of the Internet Stan Carey, it’s okay with me.

The only things that unsettled me were (in increasing order of severity):

1. The number of corduroy blazers Fry seems to possess. I counted four (one sporting ill-advisedly garish elbow patches). And this was just the first episode!

2.  Fry’s increasing vocal resemblance to Professor Lord Robert Winston in avuncular Ruby-is-now-one-year-old-and-she-can-make-rudimentary-sounds mode. You may well have seen Fry and Winston in the same room together – but have you ever heard them in the same room together?

3. The comic sans. Stephen! What’s with the comic sans?

A fourth thing didn’t irritate me, but did make me think: here is an opportunity to share some trivia with the world, or at least with that small portion of the world that reads Clutterbuck.

The programme didn’t specify – and so many viewers may have wondered – where the spoofy Little Red Riding Hood story performed by the Little Theatre for the Deaf came from. It had an odd ring to it, with its anachronistic quips about Calvin Coolidge and the Metro-Goldwyn lion.

Well, I’LL TELL YOU. It’s by James Thurber, and it’s from The Thurber Carnival.

I can’t find my copy of The Thurber Carnival. And so ends another disappointing Clutterbuck.

No, wait! Luckily, someone splendid has scanned the story out of the book, so I don’t have to! Here it is:

Yeah. It’s not hilariously funny, is it? Ah, well. So ends another disappointing Clutterbuck.


3 responses to “The twenty-seventh of September, 2011: it is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays

  1. I think I repressed all memory of the Comic Sans while I was scribbling my few thoughts. It was very surprising. In some ways Fry is fine because he draws a big crowd and he’s very enthusiastic, but his lack of linguistic learning shows too keenly at times. If I keep watching the show, I might try to write more on this point. (Speaking as a non-linguist.)

    Very well spotted with the Thurber. I didn’t notice; my Thurber-awareness is clearly deficient, despite my noticing only yesterday that I have two copies of the Carnival here! Oh, and “linguistic lord of the Internet”? If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that was sarcasm. My linguistic ignorance is vast and deep. 🙂

  2. Yeah, I take your point – and you’re certainly right about there being too little Pinker et al.

    You have two copies of the Carnival, you say? And I suddenly find that mine is missing? Hmmm. I would find this very suspicious, were it not for the fact that we live on different land-masses.

  3. I’d certainly like to have seen some of the expert interviews extended; Pinker’s, though, not so much.

    While I can’t prove categorically that neither of my Thurbers was never yours, I can assure you there were no shenanigans on my part!

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