Okay, it’s a bit late. That’s what happens when you try to squash a dog walk in and your dog gets overexcited when he sees some swallows. I’m working to a tight schedule here! Anyway, the Wednesday Whoo was then a Thursday Phew and is now a Friday Yippee! with U2 and their cover of the Robert Knight soul classic Everlasting Love.
I can’t tell you how much I love this song. And the U2 version is my favourite. It was released in 1998 and it’s got so many memories for me. My copy of the song was on a copied disc of ‘The Best of 1980-1990’ that Andy did for me – and he’d written out all of the tracks by hand. I’d listened to it over and over as the B side to All I Want is You which came out in 1989. That little 7″ single of mine got listened to over and over – and I’m surprised there are any grooves left on the B side. It still makes me ache to hear it.
Let’s face it: Bono turned out to be a bit of a smarmy, holier-than-thou, shiny-faced do-gooder after “Achtung, Baby!” and he got a bit unbearably smug. But back in the 80s, he was still filled with all this raw emotion from time to time – I still love Sunday Bloody Sunday – nothing like a bit of a protest song from time to time. Does anyone make protest songs any more? It’s no wonder I grew up so angry.
So what else is warming the cockles of my heart this week?
Teaching Italian – ages since I did (I used to teach a GCSE Italian class about 15 years ago!) although I realised that my mouth was used to French and mangiare took a bit of getting used to. Might look similar to manger (the French for the same thing) but Italian is such a straightforward language compared to French. At least most times you can tell if something is masculine or feminine, just from the word. French – well, that’s a whole lot more intricate. But I love the feel of Italian and once you get back into speaking it, after a minute or two, it feels so smiley and lovely in your mouth. Likewise Portuguese. I love the feel of that one in my mouth. A friend of mine said it’s like speaking with a mouthful of cake. It kind of is.
But much love for being an English speaker. That’s lucky. English has fewer verb endings, fewer irregular verbs and fewer tenses than many other languages, though we often have more words. There is not a massive gap between written English and spoken English, and any formality or plural for you has long since evaporated. Talking to a French-speaking boy who has lived all his life in England and has returned for a term to live in France, he says the ‘tu’ and ‘vous’ thing is a nightmare for him and he’s always using tu instead of vous. I had a student once, an old guy who had decided to learn French and had decided, against my advice, to learn French from an English person, and he spoke always in the ‘tu’ form. It made me feel really uncomfortable when he spoke to me. I thought ‘I don’t know you… it’s like you’re invading my pronoun space!’. We don’t have those linguistic bothers in English. In fact, Italian is much more straightforward over this as well. The French are much more formal than the Italians or the Spanish. Nobody uses the polite form with me in those languages. That’s at least one reason to celebrate speaking English.
So enjoy the words you speak today. Savour flibbertigibbet and flabbergasted and funky, moist and marvellous and gusset. Run rampant with regionalisms, quirks and oddities. Life is always much nicer when we have joyous words to roll around our mouths!