Diction

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs

Gerry Marsden sang the Anthem that Liverpool FC use, but I first heard it on a LP recording.

Diction

 

Bill Brassington was my English master. The teachers at my secondary school were called ‘masters’ and wore gowns, which made Hogwarts morning assemblies to be a sort of carbon copy of ours… not that I imagine JKR would have ever visited The Straven Academy for Young Gentlemen. Seriously, that was the quilloquial name we students used for our secondary school and I suppose compared to secondary schools of today, it was a rather strict place. Respect, honour and honesty were among the desired attributes the school wanted its students to aspire to and a useful encouragement tool towards that outcome was the cane. When he first introduced himself to us, Crew Campbell, another of my masters, with a flourish withdrew a cane from the lining of his gown and wacked it, whump on the lectern… but in the three years he taught me he never used it. Perhaps we all remembered his warning. Of course the school wanted good academic outcomes too and while the cane is no longer a tool, my generation of old boys have contributed well to society. Of course good ones are the outcomes we all heard about, but there’s always the other end of the scale too.

Old Brasso would’ve made a good character for JKR. He wore round, metal-rimmed spectacles, he had only a few wisps of white hair on his round, bald head, he had the wrinkles of age, yet the sparkiest of eyes. He was slightly stooped and his gown gave him an air of experience and wisdom. He was keen on essays and I’m sure, he’d use his red pencil on my overuse of the apostrophe and my inclination to ramble, but he was motivational and I remember him as a mentor. During a discussion before an essay assignment, Old Brasso told us that he didn’t like Elvis, or in fact any of the current songs because their diction wasn’t up to scratch. The year was 1957, and he picked on Tommy Steele’s rendition of Singing the Blues as an example. He set a challenge for us, to write an essay about diction. I thought I’d better look up the meaning and referred to the Pocket Oxford Dictionary  I kept in my bag, and found the first meaning, is the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing. I suppose now, that’s what an English teacher would have been more interested in. But I chose to write about the other meaning, the style of enunciation when speaking or singing. After all Tommy Steele had a broad English accent. I thought I could convince Old Brasso that our era of songs was better than his. He wasn’t convinced but I received a pass mark with plenty of red-pencil comments.

The recent death of Gerry Marsden brought back those memories. Even Mr. Brassington would have given Gerry a tick for his performance of, You’ll Never Walk Alone. I’m but a casual football follower, and hardly know a Liverpool supporter from a Watford supporter, except I have a Watford cap which is yellow. Anyway, it has to be acknowledged that the crowd at Anfield singing their anthem has an emotional ring. My mother bought the long playing record of the soundtrack from Richards and Hammerstein’s movie adaption of Carousel, and because my father’s name was Bill, we teased him with the soliloquy, My Boy Bill! So when the movie eventually came to the Vogue, the flash new theatre in our suburb, our whole family rushed to go along. It was a special memory for me because it was the first and last time our father came to the movies with us, but dear oh dear, he sang or hummed most of the songs, which embarrassed us no end, and he took no notice of our shushes! Of course You’ll Never Walk Alone, came from that show.

This Christmas time, our television network showed the 2019 and 2020 Royal Variety Concerts. They’ve always been good Christmas entertainment, but this time, I became aware that I couldn’t hear the words of a lot of the songs. Now admittedly, I don’t wear my hearing aids… there’s a reason, my wife accepted a cold call from a hearing clinic and booked me in. As soon as I told them I’d worked fifty years in the forestry industry, the dollar signs clanged on their eyelids, and it turned out I was entitled to a set of hearing aids. But they muck up the focus on my specs, which is why I’ve abandoned them. I asked my wife if she could hear the words, and she couldn’t hear them either. Learnedly, I put it down to poor diction.

Still wondering about my hearing, I did a little test, I looked up the top fifty 1957 Billboard songs, the very songs Mr. Brassington had discussed with us. There were artists like Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Tab Hunter, Debbie Reynolds, Patti Page, Fats Domino, Nat King Cole and lots more. All of them had good diction, or at least I could hear the words easily. I also watched videos of modern popular singers, Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. I hardly picked up a word! I put it down to poor diction too. On the other hand, I’ve sat through movies like Moana, Frozen and Tangled with my grandkids, and because they needed to convey a message, I could hear the songs clear as a bell. Their diction is spot on! Just saying.

I’m grinning because I’ll bet my old master would’ve marked this essay with his red pen, saying that I’ve rambled on a bit, and so I have. I make no apology for throwing in a little bit of history, even if it isn’t relevant history. The Vogue theatre is no more, it’s been replaced by the Barrington Street Mall, and I’d be surprised if anyone associates Alteora Peto with The Straven Academy for Young Gentlemen. Gerry Marsden will be long remembered for his performance, and rightly so, but Claramae Turner, who was the probable catalyst, is all but forgotten, mores the pity. Nevertheless, her performance is noteworthy, maybe you should take a look.

 

 

 

 


Submitted: January 08, 2021

© Copyright 2021 moa rider. All rights reserved.

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Comments

hullabaloo22

I didn't find it at all rambling, Moa. You made this a very interesting essay to read, and I enjoyed it very much.

Sun, January 10th, 2021 7:50pm

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Reply

Well thank you Mama Hullabaloo. But I know what old Brasso would have written. I'm pleased you enjoyed it though. Usianguke.

Sun, January 10th, 2021 12:12pm

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