Friday, 30 December 2011

In The Bath With Bob Dylan

When you have a busy family you have to grab your reading where you can. The early morning bath, before the rest of the household awakes, is a good place. Of course, it plays havoc with the pages – so it’s not the place for rare first editions published by the Folio Society. Fortunately, most of my reading comes in the form of cheap paperbacks.

Having finished Nostromo I have now moved on to another great swashbuckling yarn – Song And Dance Man III, The Art of Bob Dylan. It’s the most scholarly work I’ve read since graduating. Comprising of over a 1000 pages I soon discovered that Bob isn’t a good companion in the bath. After two pages my arms started to ache – a pain comparable with that suffered two weeks ago when I lost my jack-hammer virginity digging a trench for a wastepipe. Before the pain forced me to evict Bob from the bath I became re-acquainted with the idea that Chaucer did much to centralise and standardise the English language.

The process would continue for another 500 years. John Bunyan, the argument ran, along with Dylan after him, appropriated the language of the outlaws and used the peoples’ language for the people. At least, I think, this was the general theme I was reading until I gave it up, got dried and headed downstairs for a restorative jug of coffee.

Whilst making coffee, my wife’s mobile made a strange nibbling sound to signify that someone had sent her a text. Out of sheer nosiness, I read the following message:

it shld b ok I’ll shut the dogs in the conservatory and draw the curtains. They might bark. Please bring nibicles

The message was a response to an invitation to a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. My wife wondered if we could bring our daughter – who is seriously dog phobic.

Without thinking I snapped back the reply:

hope the curtains don’t bark too much. what nibicles should we bring?

This is what happens when otherwise literate and intelligent people get involved in hasty texting. Grammar goes out the window along with proof-reading. But future academics might argue, if they got hold of these texts, that Bunyan and Dylan sent language spinning back full circle to the pre-standardisation days.

Note: nibicles should, of course, read nibbles.

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