Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Embarassments, Spatial and Linguistic



Yesterday I watched Dennis Potter's Stand Up, Nigel Barton for the first time. There isn't much that I can add to the k-punk take, except for a particular point about the acute linguistic embarassment of that utterly agonising final scene in front of the television, where the protagonist talks of his belonging neither here (Oxford) nor there (the WMC). In Lynsey Hanley's Estates (a book which I mention perhaps more often than is really necessary, probably because it's a book I wanted to write, although not in quite the same way) there's a rather incongrous moment, for such a soft left tract, where she cites the Situationists and the derive, and claims that you couldn't derive through an council estate - you'd look like a wally. This isn't actually a spatial question, but one of getting ideas above your station - looking silly, breaking the obligatory screen of bluff, aggression and disinterest. So when Nigel talks about 'walking a tightrope' between his family and Oxford, the point is almost lost in the seeming floridness of the image - his father knows that they'll take the piss at the pub over that one, at how embarassingly metaphorical his language has become. The impregnable, empiricist exterior has to be maintained at all times.

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