Daily Archives: February 8, 2005

Dame Ellen

Now I’m sure that a record-breaking solo non-stop round-the-world voyage is a great achievement, etc etc. But the coverage is way over the top. Correspondents here there and everywhere, constantly vomiting forth their just-inhaled sailing knowledge, blurting out fantastics and courageouses to fill the copious airtime allocated to them.

In truth, we know the routine: lead story, special programmes, honours (I’m betting she’ll be Damed), then the media circus will move on, and finally of course there’ll be an attempt to drag out some scandal in the Sunday newspapers.

Radio coverage has produced two highlights for me:

  • “The Queen and the Prime Minister have both sent their crongratulations”. My inner geek thinks that “crongratulations” is precisely the appropriate word: it has the sense of automated, scheduled, emotionless, fill-in-the-blanks, congratulation-by-rote that sums up these affairs. You are hereby authorised to use this word wherever you see fit.
  • Q: “Please could you put into context Ellen’s achievements.” A: “I didn’t hear the question”. That’s the spirit! This was asked of a Frenchman on, I guess, a dodgy link to Falmouth, so I’m sure he wasn’t being cheeky, but he was right: where was the question? The expected answer just rehashes the crongratulations. But if you actually want the context, the answer would be: She and her mates and sponsors spent a lot of money and have better technology than the others. She went round the world, but mostly just circled the Antarctic judging by the maps. She’ll probably have a book out soon. Meanwhile, more important things happened on the planet…

Oh dear, this has turned out a lot more cynical than I originally intended…


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