Saturday, October 29, 2005

Fry's English Delight

Stephen Fry is one of my favourite famous people. I've just edited out the word hero as this seems slightly too grandiose a term. defines the word hero as: '...a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favoured by the gods. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.' And in the light of that, despite the fact that I revere this man as a god, try not to miss anything he says or writes or does (though a glance through his oeuvre on the IMDB is surprising and illuminating, and I've much catching up to do it seems) perhaps 'favourite famous person(s)' describes it best.

But then again, to hell with it, Stephen Fry is my hero. And he wouldn't mind me using that term. Not because he would rejoice in being deified - he'd probably fold his arms and chuckle modestly whilst leaning his neck forward as if to hide his facial ensemble of bendy nose and tombstone teeth, and tuck it all into a recently acquired quadrupled chin. He'd be happy for me to use that term because that's how I feel, and language as he so eloquently described on Tonight With Jonathan Ross, should be about the articulation of feelings rather than something overly prescriptive and obsessed with the rules of usage.

I wish I had a transcript of his 'seat of his pants' monologue that he rattled off to JR - who listened, as I did, open-mouthed and in awe of this funny, charming, gangly, insecure, polymath - why the English language is so rich and varied and how we should, as he has, learn to except it in all its varieties and rejoice in its shaping and development as a living, growing entity. It was good stuff.

But then again, Stephen Fry reading from the telephone directory would be entertaining. And I would happily go to bed with a to-do list as my night time reading if it had been written or recorded by him. Though this may not be necessary as his new book: The Ode Less Travelled, which has just been published, will be on my shopping list. The book is subtitled: 'Unlocking the Poet Within', which, he says provides a kind of everyman's guide to the mechanics of poetry which is "a primal impulse within us all of us." And going by what he was saying, if we could all read it and write it and relax more about language, we'd be happier. Though he didn't actually say that, and I'm glad because he'd have been straying too much into Alain de Botton,(another hero) territory if he had. But I think that's what he was getting at.

Interestingly (to me anyway) defines a 'heroine' as, amongst other things: 'A woman noted for special achievement in a particular field.' Which is a bit more closely related to my insistent use of the word 'hero' to describe someone I respect because I'm hugely impressed with them even though words like valour and courageous wouldn't feature.

mr fry is a marvel as is mr de botton

i am all humility for someone can move me to even consider reading 'a la recherche...'
Absolutely uc. Both would appear at my fantasy dinner party.
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