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Blog : Posts tagged with 'rudeness'

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Folk

In which we review Rachel Unthank and the Winterset


This weekend’s gig: Rachel Unthank and The Winterset, at the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Theatre. “People ask us if ‘Unthank’ is our stage name,” said Rachel. “Who’d choose a name like ‘Unthank’?” Personally, it reminds me of Scotland;* but the Unthank family are Northumbrian. Rachel and her sister Becky share the major vocal parts, with a piano and another musician behind them.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of folk; but then, I don’t really agree with the concept of genre to start with. And, to start with, it was a little avant-garde: slow, not really rhythmic at all, but relying on the beauty of the sisters’ voices, the pianist darting from one end of the keyboard to the other and occasionally reaching inside the piano’s innards to pluck its strings directly. We were a little distracted by a woman just in front of us in the audience, who had decided that the quiet opening was the ideal time to take a loud phone call. “Don’t you shush me!” she said, harshly, to anybody who complained, as she pushed her way out of the row. “MY SON is more important than YOUR HEARING”. I was sorely tempted to mutter “Oh no he isn’t” sotto voce, but the rude bint would probably have tried to lamp me one. Fortunately, she was soon gone.

The gig continued, with songs getting a little more up-tempo, but always with the slight flexibility implied by the lack of percussion. If the band needed percussion, they provided it with their feet; but its lack gave them the freedom to explore, to work in free time without any constricting structures. They seemed to be able to soar at will with their voices; and Rachel stood with her hands spread and moving across her lap, as if she was consciously grasping the music with them and guiding herself.

I must have been enjoying it, because I even joined in with the audience participation sections, something I’m normally loath to do, and despite barely being able to carry a tune. Not that it matters when you’re in the middle of an audience; but still. After a rousing and catchy midwinter song** about the Allendale new year fire ceremony, they finished up with all four of the band, together a capella, singing a Shetland song with lyrics in Norn.*** I couldn’t make out the words from the sound, but the sound was beautiful enough to not need anything more.

* One of my favourite novels is Alasdair Gray’s classic Lanark, largely set in a city called Unthank.

** So catchy the chorus is still stuck in my head three days later.

*** The strand of the Nordic languages spoken in Shetland until the 19th century, similar to Faroese and some dialects of Norwegian

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Under The Clock

In which we spot a lack of self-awareness


My most recent visit to London, and I was waiting to meet someone at Waterloo Station. Looking around nervously, scanning across everyone who walked past.

A bunch of football supporters walked past, shouting and chanting on the way to a match. Closer to me passed a couple, looking at them too. As they passed, one said: “I hate people.”

My friend Vee has a phrase she uses a lot: “PAC”.* Often, I have to agree with her. But they don’t always do it deliberately. They do it by accident, out of ignorance and rudeness. People are bad just because they don’t notice other people. They don’t think about other people, and they don’t think about the consequences of their actions. They don’t think about what other people are feeling.

Not all people, of course. I like to think I don’t do it, at least, not as much as average. I like to think I pay attention. Most of the rudeness in the world isn’t deliberate; it’s caused just by not noticing the people around you. Like the football supporters in Waterloo Station, striding across the concourse chanting and not noticing everyone else backing away.

* it starts “People Are…”

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Star quality

In which we ask what the point of obscurity is


What makes a word a rude word?

I’m asking because of something I noticed yesterday. Scanning through the telly listings, I noticed that our local paper* won’t print the name of BBC3 show Tittybangbang. Instead, it was rendered “T***ybangbang”.

Now, I know this isn’t as hypocritical as The Sun, which similarly refuses to print the word “tits” despite featuring photos of topless models in almost every issue. It still strikes me as rather silly and pointless, though. It’s hardly likely to offend anyone, particularly as the paper’s digital telly listings are in tiny, almost unreadable print. It’s lip service to an old-fashioned “morality” in which respectable appearances are more important than anything underneath. Even for ruder rude words, it’s not as if asterisks really do hide anything – you all know what this f***ing sentence says.**

* the fearless Grimsby Telegraph

** it was “this flowing sentence”, of course. No, really. Honest. Would I lie to you?

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