Last night I went to see ‘Beat Girl’ at the Sanctum Film Club and I think I was one of the few characters there that were actually alive then! The film was banned for many years and there was one strip scene that was beautifully graphic and the best strip I ever saw (I am no expert) had been restored. Also Adam Faith as a disaffected youth threatened to slap a woman back which was probably not acceptable to the British public then. In fact Adam Faith looked good and sang like he always did, I had friends who adored him, a shrewd cockney guy not to my taste. I liked Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williams and of course Elvis! But an entire tranche of young guys styled themselves on Adam.
What was extraordinary about the film was the BBC accents. All the ‘kids’ had upper class accents, clipped vowels and tight arsed ice pick consonants. They said ‘the words’ of the hipsters with a singularly British intonation. This had the audience roaring with laughter as did every scene with Ollie Reid cavorting with rolling eyes like some crazy horse. I think I remember those times and I was one of the women who called my girlfriends ‘man’ a victim of over Kerouac perchance, but the way I remember it we all had faux black yank accents. (Cultural imperialism?) Perhaps I was in the wrong gang?
So back to the age thing again and the way each generation makes the language their own and how the accepted language has changed. BBC English or received pronunciation was the way that actors were taught to speak and cockney or northern ‘accents’ were rare indeed on radio. It is good that things have changed and that now we have a variety of voices and accents though the old guard upper crust still ring out with confidence so do estuary English and Brummy speak, West Indian and African voices. Indian sub continent and Somali along with Irish, Scottish, Tai and more new voices that bring along an infinite variety to our sound scape. It is fascinating to compare now with then when upper ruled (NOT) OK. We have moved on linguistically as well as culturally since then and should celebrate the fact.
I went to the London Book Fair yesterday and heard that a Japanese guy has translated ‘The Brothers Kararamazov’ into text speak and my first instinct was ‘sacrilege’ but it did apparently sell millions. So I guess that’s good. I do wonder what Dostoevsky would have to say about that –‘ gimme the royalties’ perhaps??