Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Remember 1995?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

I don’t often see the Daily Star. But Charlie came round with a copy of it the other day, and pointed out an excellent feature they have called TEXT MANIACS, where readers text in their opinions of the day. It’s a very good way of airing the views of those for whom an actual piece of paper and a pen might prove too much of an obstacle. For example:

“to arther pint why o why do left wing loonies blame thatcher its this new labour old nazi goverment thats to blame get them out. TORY BABE.”

It also allows us to see how the language lives, breathes, changes and develops, in texts such as

“so ryanair want 2 charge 2 p.ok. if evy1 was 2 p on the floor, the troly doly’s wud soon get p’d off wjadin thru pish. Ok sounds claty but bet it works. RANGERS MAN.”

  I looked at that one for quite a while, slightly baffled. Then I realized that it is in fact an original, opinionated take on Ryanair’s new “charge for the toilet” policy; with the aid of a good sub, Rangers Man could be up there with Will Hutton and David Aaronovitch.

  But the next one is my favourite. The fact that this fellow has sent a text to the Daily Star, waited for it to be printed in the paper, and is now presumably waiting for replies, takes us right back to those forgotten days before the internet; an evocative reminder of the world that once was, from someone who has patently never heard of Google.

  “My son is trying to remember the names of all the wombles, can anyone help? STEVE THE CABBIE.”




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the chimney sweep at 4:28 pm on March 4th, 2009

tobermory, uncle bulgaria, er…the french maid and wasn’t there one called flute or something? yes i know you didn’t ask for all the wombles’ names, but you knew this would happen!

Colin at 4:33 pm on March 4th, 2009

Funny but even before I got to the end of the text by Rangers Man, not only did I know it was a Glaswegian but I also knew the team he supported!

Steve at 5:13 pm on March 4th, 2009

‘uncl blgria, Tobmry, o’noco, Bngo, tmsk, wllngtn, mdm chlt. ’ Wil, no doubt, be winging it’s way as a response to Stv da Cbe.

Only replying to give my support to any organisation or charity or self-help group that is formed subsequent to your comments on this. gt rid ov txt spk 2dy imo

Andy W at 5:30 pm on March 4th, 2009

Although life without the Internet now seems akin to retreating into caves and banging rocks together to make man’s red fire, I miss the days when knowing all the names of the cars and drivers in Wacky Races didn’t just mean you had an internet connection, it meant ... errr ... well maybe things are better now yes.


Ralph Tritt at 10:16 pm on March 4th, 2009

On the subject of language du nos jours (as we say in certain parts of Shepherd’s Bush) are you aware of the current number one single by Kelly Clarkson, My Life Sucks Without You? Isn’t that a lovely sentiment…

Carter Magna Blog Bloke at 10:33 pm on March 4th, 2009

Steve da Cabbie. No probs bruv, dey were dopey, sneezer, snow white, shy, doc an’ geeza.

David R at 12:26 am on March 5th, 2009

So after the editing process, Rangers Man could read something like:

“I understand that Ryanair are looking to charge their customers for toilet facilities. Now, if everyone flying by Ryanair were to, for example, urinate on the plane’s carpeted flooring, I am quite sure the flight attendants would soon tire of having to wade through passengers’ urine and excrement. I do appreciate that what I am suggesting sounds rather slovenly and dirty, but I would wager that such a course of action would soon lead to a rethink by management of such a preposterous potential arrangement.”

John at 6:56 pm on March 5th, 2009

Bring Text Spelling onto ‘Countdown’; we need to give Jeff even more things to smile about.  TV grinning… damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Kenn at 4:49 pm on March 6th, 2009

I can see that now John, i’ll have a vowel, another vowel, another vowel, a consonant, one from the middle, one from the top, a consonant and a final consonant. ok thirty second on the clock, go!
what did you get Jeeves? ne1 for 5
Sharon? nomin8 for 10
Poor Carol Vordman replacement won’t know what hit her

LC at 8:28 pm on March 6th, 2009

“to arther pint why o why do left wing loonies blame thatcher its this new labour old nazi goverment thats to blame get them out. TORY BABE.”

Wowzers. Clearly that extra “n” in government was just one letter too many for those pesky restrictive limits on texts.

A Cuban In London at 9:55 pm on March 7th, 2009

An Observer colunmnist dipping into the torrid waters of The Daily Star? Surely this country’s going to the dogs!

On a serious note I just heard that the next Queen’s speech will be drafted up in textspeak. Has anyone else got any more updates on this?

Many thanks for your fine Sunday column.

Greetings from London.

Victoria Coren

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