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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Evidence that Fran's attempt at an Irish accent doesn't always impress

I'm teaching the great Irish writer Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' to sixth formers. A telling line in the play is when one character, Estragon, says, 'There's no lack of void.' After reading this line on Monday, we discussed how the characters in the play (and people in general) 'avoid the void' with useless, repetitive activities to distract themselves from how meaningless their lives seem. Estragon and Vladimir play silly games, swap hats, insult each other, sing nonsense songs and engage in faux-intellectual conversations, just to pass the time while they wait for Godot. (Spoiler alert: he doesn't arrive, folks.)

I guess if Beckett wrote it today, he'd have Vladimir and Estragon playing Angry Birds on their phones, joining in with #ruinasongtitlebytakingawayoneletter on Twitter, and checking Facebook to see if anyone had a ham sandwich for lunch.

I told the class I thought my title for the day's lesson 'Avoid the void' was crying out for someone to write a poem.  It is? their faces said.  No one leapt forward and yelled, 'Let me, let me!'

So I did it myself.

I read it to them today and they were singularly unimpressed. I did my best Irish accent, too, in honour of Beckett and that didn't impress them either ... *sulks*  They did applaud, but only once I'd bowed in an exaggerated fashion and said, 'Thank you, thank you' so they really had no choice.

In the light of their lack of enthusiasm, I thought I'd inflict bless you with it instead.


Avoiding the void

It’s toime for us two to decoide
how we can avoid the void
because I really can’t aboide
the way it makes me feel insoide.

There’s lots of different tings we’ve troid
attemptin’  to avoid the void.
In troot, O’im getting’ well annoyed.
Oi wish dat Godot had arroived.

It takes away a feller’s proide
to feel that he has been begoiled
I'd t'ought Godot was on our soide
He said he’d come.
I tink he loid.


When you're doing your A-levels, Mummy had told him, you might get to do Waiting for Godot with Fran.





32 comments:

  1. Brilliant! I can just hear you saying that as well. Can;t believe they were unimpressed - you're exaggerating aren't you?

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    1. Not exaggerating in the least, I'm sad to say. To be fair, I think they'd rather I just got on with the teaching and played the madwoman act in my own time.

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  2. You're obviously wasted on them, Fran.

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    1. You are too kind. To be honest, they're a nice bunch. Maybe they need more warning next time before I launch into any more nonsense poems in bad accents.

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  3. They might not have been impressed, but I was.

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    1. Thanks, Stephen. Come and join my class any time.

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    2. Can I come with Stephen?

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    3. I think I have my dream class here.

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  4. It's difficult to impress kids. I don't think they understand that Estragon has to do with women and menopause and all that stuff. Oh, wait. Willy Dunne Wooters says it's "estrogen." My bad. Never mind.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I just love your comments. This made me laugh (then I had to rush to the loo).

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  5. Ah to be sher, it's the way yoo tell'em.

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    1. If only you'd been passing, you could have popped in and done the accent for me.

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  6. Well, you get applause from me, even without a bow!

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    1. Thank you, thank you. Do come again. Next time I shall be performing some Burns poetry in my best nothing-at-all-like-Scots accent.

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  7. What do you mean, that ruinasongtitlebytakingawayoneletter is a meaningless activity? Surelynot.

    I love your poem, and the picture too.

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    1. Meaningless, perhaps, but I didn't say it wasn't enormous fun .......... In fact, this blog is full of exactly the same type of shallow tomfoolery (look under 'Me adapting famous stories for some of it')! Thanks for the comment, Iota.

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  8. I've spent the morning attempting to avoid the void and I fear I have been swallowed whole. I even refreshed Facebook repeatedly at one point to see if anyone had posted anything new that I needed to know about. They hadn't. Also watched clips of Blackadder...I hadn't found ruinasongtitlebytakingawayoneletter though. Made a note of that.

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  9. 'I fear I have been swallowed whole.' That made me laugh! I think the concept of 'avoiding the void' is one that describes the writer's life most accurately ... Thanks for reading, even if it was just procrastination!

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  10. Reading your first paragraph (as usual, with great pleasure), I suddenly realised why I blog.

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    1. No, no, blogging isn't meaningless. Don't say that, otherwise I'll have to give it up and go and clean the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush dipped in bleach, and I've been avoiding that for years.

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  11. Yes.... just be careful what you do with Scots accents and Burns. You are being watched. Hahahahahaha.......

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    1. I thought of you as soon as I wrote that! I did actually read the whole of 'To a Mouse' to a class once in a Scots accent because we were doing Of Mice and Men and that's where Steinbeck got the title from. But this was a long time ago and I get less and less brave. Or, is it, more and more wise?...

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    2. I frequently used read out English, Welsh or Irish poets' poems in a Scottish accent, which probably sounded wrong too. Maybe not quite SO wrong, though... ? Or maybe your Ayrshire accent is splendid.

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    3. Come to that, did you read out bits of "OM and Men" in an American accent? Or a variety of them? No, me neither...

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    4. Actually, I do read Of Mice and Men in a Southern drawl. Once I get going on it, it's good enough to impress the kids. And last year I did quite a lot of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha in a passable Dublinese. I do like to have a go, and with forgiving classes, it goes down okay. As long as I don't lose my nerve ...

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  12. Replies
    1. I googled this to find out its precise meaning and have today learned the term 'minced oath', for which I thank you!

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  13. That baby looks chilly, his skin is all mottled, get some clothes on the poor boy!
    Coincidentally and totally beside the point, I had a ham sandwich for lunch, but didn't feel the need to share it with the world via facebook or any where else.
    never read Waiting for Godot. Probably never will.

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    1. There's still time ... (to read 'Godot', not share with the world about your ham sandwiches). Actually, don't read it - go and see it if you get a chance. I saw a production with Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart and it was like stand-up comedy. Brilliant.

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  14. You have reminded me of an Irish boyfriend I once had. He filled a void in my life for a while but ended up being someone to avoid !

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    1. Ha ha! It is often thus!

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