Tuesday, 25 November 2008

John Nettles. Yum

So one of the librarians here had a confession to make regarding her level of English. After the usual profuse apologies for such a “poor” standard of English - a standard, I might add, that many native speakers on both sides of the Atlantic often fail to meet - a story regarding her particular didactic incentive was revealed. Throughout the 1980s (and even now at lunchtime in the first decade of the 21st C) Croatian television was saturated with American television shows. Magnum P.I., Dallas, the ‘A’ team and the Bold and the Beautiful were some of the staples as well as exposure to the early days of MTV and other such ambassadors of American popular culture. Our lovely librarian however, was not impressed. She refused outright to learn a tongue whose vibrancy, phenomenal literary heritage and beauty had been so readily corrupted by half-hour sessions relaying the tedious goings on of wealthy Texans and / or Tom Selleck in a pair of khaki shorts.

Even when her teenage daughters were capable of American English conversation far beyond the wit of, say, a certain wealthy president of the USA hailing from Texas, our librarian was still resolute in her determination not to succumb to the perceived nasal qualities of this particular manifestation of American cultural imperialism.

But soon after the war in this neck of the woods, a wonderful, nay, marvellous thing happened. Well, in fact it was the 1997 combination of two marvellous things that converted our librarian to the delights of the English language.
The potent marriage of a certain John Nettles and a fictional county in England with what must be the highest murder rate in the entire world; glorious Midsomer. Particular emphasis, for our librarian, is upon the former rather than the latter although after five years of daily bombardment, men folk going off to war and civilians suffering such shocking privations, the politeness and understatement of Midsomer Murder’s adulterous dalliances in the compost heap, or murder at the village jumble sale through the medium of a poisoned digestive biscuit, was a refreshing change. And over seeing all this gentrified chaos was the dashing DCI Tom Barnaby, aka John Nettles; strong, handsome, softly-spoken and terribly, terribly charming. *sigh*.

Thus our librarian started learning English along with other female peers, equally enamoured of the DCI. And so it is all thanks to John Nettles, unwitting ambassador of the English language, that I am able to communicate my more complex bibliographic demands from our lovely librarian. John Nettles, the bookish ladies of Croatia salute you! You are truly the thinking, Balkan woman’s crumpet!

The question must be asked though; what if Det. Serg. Jim Bergerac had been available to 1980s Croatia? An even jammier John Nettles? Younger, sleeker and sporting a leather jacket? To be honest, I don’t think internecine conflict in the Balkans would even have been on the cards; the womenfolk would have demanded all military efforts be focused on the invasion of Jersey and the capture of John Nettles instead.

No comments: