Every Order Tells a Story

Uncle Mort and Carter Brandon

Uncle Mort and Carter Brandon

One of the scary things about the information is just how poor the information can be, or at least what the retailers think they know about our wishes, wants and tastes.

I was looking at Trevor’s comment on my little rantlet about the watered down definition of ‘literally’ and it made me think of A Plum in Your Mouth by Andrew Taylor which is an interesting romp through the changes in the English language.

It is more to do with pronunciation than the written word, but is worth a look nonetheless as a reminder that we should get too prissy about what we perceive to be correct usage.

Anyway, my point is that I only have it as an audio book that I picked up for 40p in a charity shop. And very good it is too, read by Stephen Thorne who among other things played the wonderful Uncle Mort in the BBC Radio 4 series.

It was reminder to get hold of the book itself so off I popped to Amazon and picked up a hardback copy for 1p plus £2.80 which is a bargain in anyone’s book if you’ll pardon the pun.

Edith SitwellBut the page also demonstrated what it is that Amazon’s algorithm thinks might tickle my fancy. This eclectic lucky bag included The Spoken Word by Edith Sitwell, A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars, Burning the Suit: Fighting Back Against the Aftershock of Redundancy and The World of Gerard Mercator: The Mapmaker Who Revolutionised Geography.

I might just be persuaded to flick through the pages of one or two of the titles, but what made them think I would be interested in The Politics of Yorkshire Miners? Unless they knew in advance that I was going to mention Uncle Mort half an hour later and this was the nearest they could get to that Yorkist literary genius.

The conclusion is that Amazon’s algorithm is either very, very clever or very, very random, but whatever it is I’d like to tell Amazon that I have never bought anything from their Recommendations for You.

However, it has at least made me think of the splendid language in Peter Tinniswood’s Uncle Mort’s North Country that you can find on YouTube. And below is a clip from the 1975 tv series I Didn’t Know You Cared in which Uncle Mort finds his ideal woman.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Miss P 19th August 2013

    Any chance you have time to put that audio book on your computer and send it to me?
    Also, did you watch the link to the Mental Floss channel on YouTube? They also have 50 common mispronunciations which I think you’d find entertaining. It also comes with a reminder not to get too prissy about what we perceive to be the correct usage!

    Reply
    • Family Counsellor Pudding 19th August 2013

      I see Miss P is not actually talking to Daddy P any more – just communicating with blog comments. Perhaps Ian – if you were more generous with your lump sum dosh – Miss P would talk to you again. I can provide a family mediation service at a knockdown rate for you.

      Reply
      • Mr Parrot 19th August 2013

        We communicate through a mix of email and Skype or Face Time, although via Shooting Parrots is a first!

        Reply
        • Family Counsellor Pudding 19th August 2013

          I don’t know if you are aware but this new-fangled method of communicating with loved ones has been developed. It is called conversation. I know this may sound weird but it does not involve technology of any kind! No tablets, no i-phones, nothing. You just sit with the person concerned and speak to them. They listen (with their ears) and then may choose to reply. Thoughts, ideas, memories bounce between you like table tennis balls. Give it a try some time. I am sure you will enjoy it.

          Reply
    • Mr Parrot 19th August 2013

      I downloaded Uncle Mort’s North and South Country from Audible and will be putting it on CD, all five hours of it!

      I did indeed try your links and will be writing about them tomorrow.

      Reply
  • rhymeswithplague 19th August 2013

    Never ‘eard of Uncle Mort, sorry, but I did feel downright erudite when I recognized Edith Sitwell from her photograph without reading the microprint and before I encountered her name in your paragraph.

    Reply
    • Mr Parrot 19th August 2013

      If I’m truthful I know full well why Amazon recommended Edith Sitwell – it’s because I recently bought her book on English eccentrics.

      Reply
  • Trevor Rowley 20th August 2013

    Do you really mean “we should get too prissy, Mr P?” Or, do you mean, “we shouldn’t get too prissy?” In asking the question in the first place, am I being too prissy (or not prissy enough)?

    Reply

(will not be published)

Scroll Up

Thanks for taking time to send this report

The following text will be sent to me: