Monday, March 09, 2009

consonant, consonant, vowel, another vowel....i've got a seven.

I stumbled upon a grand British row quite by accident today. During my years living in England I learned to love three things: AA Gill, Jeremy Paxman, and University Challenge (and Jamie Oliver; Cilla Black; Nevermind the Buzzcocks [Mark Lamarr verision]; Ready, Steady, Cook; People Like Us; Top of the Pops; Charlie Dimmock, and Carol Vorderman. I forgot about those.) If you don’t know much about any of these then you might want to switch off, but if you do then you’ll enjoy the initial piece by Gill from the 1 March 2009 Sunday Times; here’re the pertinent paragraphs:

“How pleased were you that Gail Trimble, the classics postgrad, led Corpus Christi to victory in University Challenge’s final? Incredibly clever girls are just really hot. I know that’s not an admirable or worthy admission from a middle-aged man, but it’s true. Spectacled academics with split ends and logarithmically come-hither expressions who might whisper the periodic table in your ear are deeply sexy. In place of “GSOH” attached to lonely hearts ads, very soon we’ll be getting “KAT2” — Knows a Thing or Two.

I’m torn by University Challenge. Having given Paxman a kicking last week, I should say he is exceptionally good at keeping this very simple quiz show exciting and vaguely human. Never having personally troubled academia, and being a chippy autodidact who will never use a short word when three etiolated, logorrheically otiose ones are available, I naturally and cravenly find it winning, as I also found the contestants marvellously risible. It’s that delicious mixture of self-conscious youth trying to look cool while simultaneously showing off, and my own shaming surge of smugness when I get a starter for 10 ahead of the wonky egghead.”

Classic. Absolutely, classic Gill. As I was searching about to find a picture of the incredibly clever Gail, I learned that Corpus Christi College was stripped of the UC championship due to an ineligible student – what I wouldn’t give for an evening around a pub debating the merits and chivalry of British pub quizzes. Based on the amount of press coverage that Ms. Trimble received in the built-up to the final, I’m sure the country was all atwitter at the title-stripping from our Gail (sorry, channeling Cilla).

If you want further reading on the set to, you can read more here and here.


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