Simon Mayo, Radio 5 Live
Oi, don't workshop my language, mate
Sunday 27 January 2008
Forgive me if this column seems rather wobbly. I have come over all faint. I am, basically, still in shock after hearing a man use the word "workshop" as a verb. Moreover, he was talking about "workshopping with children", which doesn't even sound legal. (Remember when someone – I have a hunch it was Kingsley Amis – said that everything that had gone wrong in the 1970s could be summed up by the word "workshop"? Not even he imagined such a horror as its verbalisation.)
The guilty man was one Mark Johnson-Brown, who is head of an arts project called Music for Change. He was on Simon Mayo's Radio 5 afternoon show on Tuesday, explaining how and why his company's Arts Council grant had gone up from £27,000 to £80,000. I listened again to this bit three times and have still not quite got it. I could type out verbatim what he said, but you wouldn't get it either. All I can tell you, apart from the fact that there is a Zimbabwean artist involved who workshops with children, is that no music seems to be involved. Or occurred in his explanation. As we were quietly left to suspect, this was why he got the extra money. He can speak Bureaucrat.
Simon Mayo is rather good. One has to admire, if that is quite the word, the way the BBC places its performers. It would be a black day for Radio 4 if Simon Mayo was given a show on it. But it would also, and by exactly the same token, be a black day for Radio 5 Live if he leaves. It's uncomfortably like the class system.
Anyway, he gave a good account of himself against some stooge from the Arts Council (or Arts Council England as we must now call it) – one Andrew Whyte, whose job title is too unwieldy to fit in this space. ACE, to fill you in, has got more money this year and has celebrated by proposing cutting its grants to 194 arts groups. (Everyone assumes this means theatre, but they forget that many small and worthy publishers are suffering too.) In doing so ACE has breached its own guidelines and has set itself up to be sued.
Mayo did not seem unduly hostile but by the end of the segment Andrew Whyte was stammering badly, and to the point of total incoherence, a condition he had not suffered from at the beginning of his interview. If they'd wired him up to a lie detector they could have got him for everything from 9/11 to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.
It is always nice when this kind of thing happens: someone who assumes that the dead jargon of government will inspire and impress the populace comes badly unstuck when faced with real people talking real language. Radio 5's remit, I presume.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Three-year-old boy shoots pregnant mother and father in New Mexico
- 2 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 3 Jewish community urged to boycott Cornwall village after residents vote for 'Hitlers Walk' sign to be reinstated
- 4 Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
- 5 Benedict Cumberbatch's Alan Turing gay-rights campaign snubbed by Prince William and Kate Middleton
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign