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Aural Delights Nov 2008

The A Bertram Chandler Story UFO is now available as an audio podcast from Starship Sofa Aural Delights No 48

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - Feb 1949
(Cover Lawrence)

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - Feb 1949


"George Whitley" Replies

Unfortunately I did not receive the February copy of Famous Fantastic Mysteries until a short while ago. It is therefore somewhat late in the day for me to rush to my own defence. I am referring as you may have guessed, to the letter headed "Australia Protests" from Mr Stirling Macoboy of Sydney, criticising the dialect used by the supposed narrator in my story, "Boomerang".

Doubtless many of your readers, like myself, peruse an occasional sea story when there is nothing better to hand. Doubtless they are familiar with the excellent stories from the pen of Mr. Guy Gilpatrick. But, unlike myself, they will not be pained by the mutilation of the King’s English by Captain Ball, Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Levy. Were I either a Scot or a marine engineer - or both - I should be even more pained by Mr. Glencannon’s conversation and conduct.

At one time I used to be frightfully miffed by the Glencannon stories and used to regard them as libel on the British Merchant Navy. Then common sense asserted itself. Much as I hate to have to admit it - some officers do talk like that. Not in the big ships, not in the employ of the companies that try, at times to be more naval than the Royal Navy, but in the humble but essential tramp steamers. Lest I be accused of libelling the tramp fraternity as well as Antipodeans I will assure you that your chances of boarding such vessels and finding them manned, or officered by Gilpatrick characters, would be very slim. But the possibility is there.

Well - as Mr. Macoboy admits - a few Australians do talk like the narrator of "Boomerang." And in the event of a book-burning, which would almost certainly a certain slaughter of the educated as well, it is reasonable to suppose that anything smacking of culture would become - unfashionable. The standard of language would deteriorate - and fast.

I admit that I may have caricatured, to a slight extent, the kind of language that one hears spoken on the Sydney waterfront. And is not the kind of language I should expect to hear in Mr. Macaboy’s drawing room - any more than he would expect to hear Cockney - and I live in Greater London - spoken in mine. But I shouldn’t mind betting that if he cares to drop in for a friendly cup of tea twenty years or so after the rockets have come he will find the survivors - if any - won’t be using the kind of English made standard by the announcers of the various Broadcasting Companies and Corporations. Even now, in spite of universal education and the influence of the radio and the better films, the English spoken in all English speaking countries is deplorable. What will it be like once the schools, the broadcasting stations and the cinemas have been destroyed?

A. Bertram Chandler,
(George Whitley),
Troop 2nd Officer.