The peerless Clive James, in the Times Literary Supplement, writes excellently about the BBC's recent "Summer of British Film". I particularly relished this passage:
Daisy Goodwin, whose memoir of her difficult upbringing has been well received (see the TLS, September 7), might also know something about poetry, a subject she had previously been deputed to make approachable for audiences who presumably knew nothing about poetry at all. But speaking about British film, she deployed an even less analytical vocabulary. About the famous scene in Tom Jones when Albert Finney and his next female target eat themselves into bed, Daisy had this to say: “It’s all very kind of, you know, phwoar!”. I don’t remember her speaking the same way about John Donne. To remind us that she was not just a hot number but a highbrow as well, Daisy managed to squeeze the word “quintessentially” into her lightning discussion of Far From the Madding Crowd. In the language of the higher journalism gone wrong, “quintessentially” is the only way to say “essentially”, just as “implode” is the only way to say “explode”. Ever more grandiose and less accurate, this detestable meta-language is always in the process of – to use one of its favourite words – “reinvention”, as in “reinvention very much the name of the game”.
Very much characteristic of a self-generating patois like this is its levelling effect, by which nobody can think but everybody can have an opinion. Speaking of The Long Good Friday, someone billed as a broadcaster said that “Thatcherism, the IRA and the Mafia” gave the film its edge. He might at least have considered that Thatcherism gave the film some of its finance.