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A few words in defence of our country … from fanfiction errors. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
A few words in defence of our country … from fanfiction errors.
Yes, that is a Randy Newman reference. You’ll see why. Wait for it. (The man really is the American Noel Coward, isn’t he.)
It’s that time of year. Fests abound. So many, that even those who can commonly be arsed to do so haven’t time, perhaps, to look out the many, many Britpicking resources available to them.
I am therefore, tiresomely, I know, once again making note of a few recurring errors that – recurrently – I see all too often marring otherwise excellent work.
Our politicians do not run for office. They stand. They are elected from constituencies, not districts.
Our PMs and first ministers do not run or stand for that post. The leader of the party with the majority or plurality plus working majority (e.g., with coalition support) becomes PM. Assuming, of course, he is returned (elected) for his seat, his constituency,
Yanks play rounders baseball and consider it the National Pastime. Randy (wait for it) Newman wrote a soundtrack (I told you there was a reason for mentioning him). There are many baseball songs and comedy turns (‘Who’s on first?’). It is part of the vision of America, and deeply embedded in metaphor and language. Nevertheless, lip service notwithstanding, American ‘football’ – and indeed basketball – actually absorb more dedicated attention from American supporters. (In America, each of these is referred to, and they are collectively referred to, as ‘sports’ – or so I understand.)
We play cricket. It runs through our poetry and inspired a concept album by a ‘supergroup’ created for the purpose: The Duckworth-Lewis Method. To Mr Newman’s theme for The Natural, we have opposed ‘Mason on the Boundary’ and the other brilliant work by Messrs Hannon and Walsh. Cricket is a symbol of England (not of Britain as a whole) and is very deeply embedded in our metaphor and language. Nevertheless, lip service notwithstanding, supporters of footer dominate. What Americans call soccer, we call football; what Americans call ‘sports’ we call sport.
In less urbanised areas of the South of England, cricket is supported seriously, particularly at the county level; it is perhaps just behind footer in some parts of the Midlands; county cricket is to Lancs and Yorks a chance to replay the War of the Roses, rather as US university football rivalries between state universities recapitulate old quarrels there.
Nevertheless, football is dominant, particularly in urban, in industrial, and in Northern areas, and – in some way, because – it is seen as the sport of the masses (which really isn’t fair to cricket: Boycs, Len Hutton, and Fred Trueman, as examples, weren’t posh: but appearance is not infrequently its own reality, and it’s true that footer has not been played at a first-class level by nawabs, maharajahs, and, for a few centuries, peers and hons).
Much of what is refracted through the lens of race in America is refracted through that of class in Britain.
Premier League football clubs do have supporters well outside their ‘home’ areas – particularly when they are winning. It is however possible to overestimate this. In many places, local and regional loyalties are all-important. In London, it’s a war of borough against borough. On the other hand, other factors also contribute. My own true love is cricket; regionally, I am a dismayed supporter of the hapless and relegated Pompey FC. Affectionally, I am a rabid Spurs supporter. This requires that I look down upon those showboating, diabolic bandwaggoners of Man Utd, despise the Chelsea Rent Boys and the Hammers, and hate with an unholy and overmastering passion those wankers the Gunners.
There are complex reasons why a man who can be dragged up to Town only by main force, and then only when required at his club [I’m not telling you], his tailor’s, or his barber’s, adopts a London football club to support (there is no real football support as such in the City and Westminster, which are, really, my London), but part of it, certainly, has to do with my extended family: specifically, that subset of my cousins who are Jews. (I have never thought any good should come of the attempt by Gentile and Jewish Spurs supporters alike to ‘reclaim’ the term ‘Yid’ that is used for Spurs supporters, and I seem to have been prescient.)
Similarly, although sentimentally I do look out what Hearts and the Pars and the Bairns and Caley Thistle are about, Scottish Premier League football is, alas, dominated by the Old Firm – Rangers and Celtic – and the vile sectarianism and public disorder bred by their rivalry (or by their supporters’ rivalry). You might bear these oddly tribal points in mind.
Tribal or not, footer is by far Bigger Business than is cricket. As a result, and arguably for other reasons as well, footballers often act, with their WAGs, like post-MTV-era basketballers.
The counties of England do, tribal affiliations notwithstanding, remain in some sense foci of loyalties, shire by shire, not least in first-class county cricket. As administrative divisions, these should be regarded by Americans as being equivalent to states, not counties, in the American sense. Overseas writers may perhaps be intelligible in speaking of ‘the outskirts’ or ‘suburbs’ ‘of London’ – meaning the metropolis of which Boris is mayor, and which is not at all the same as the square mile of the City of London, which Greater London includes as it does the City of Westminster; I really do suggest one not write of a place as being ‘on the outskirts of Essex’ or the ‘suburbs of Hampshire’ unless you think it not odd to write of the suburbs of Iowa or the outskirts of Texas.
By and large, there is no table service in pubs. Go up to the bar and get your round like a gentleman.
Simply because some place is described as a manor house, it isn’t Chatsworth, you know. In fact, to the contrary.
And the Britpickery community is always there to aid you. Do use it in Fest Season, won’t you?

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4 comments or Leave a comment
melusinahp From: melusinahp Date: October 22nd, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
"By and large, there is no table service in pubs. Go up to the bar and get your round like a gentleman."

Although there is in the Leaky Cauldron, oddly enough.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 23rd, 2011 06:53 am (UTC) (Link)

It is odd.

I realise, w pain, that many pubs have ruined themselves in seeking the 'family' trade, but the Cauldron - and still more down the Broomsticks - it rather seems as if they're overrun with sprogs as well, and are by way of being a tuck shop w a saloon bar attached.
blueboyfey From: blueboyfey Date: October 22nd, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is great. While not Britisher, and I'd probably make mistakes while writing, these are mistakes that do throw me out of the narrative when I read. (And things I do catch when I beta on the rare occasion). While there are a lot of resources for using the correct terms and spellings, I think "how things work" is generally less addressed.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 23rd, 2011 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)

I'm obliged to you for saying so, so kindly.

That is precisely why I created the Britpickery community, and it really is, isn't it, a matter of avoiding things that cause the reader to leave off suspending disbelief.
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