Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Christina Lamb at war: watch and be inspired

Ever wondered what it is really like to be a war correspondent? This short film, Bringing the World to Britain, leaves you in no doubt. Sunday Times foreign correspondent Christina Lamb talks vividly of her experiences in the war zones of the Middle East - why she does it, what she takes with her and her most harrowing moments. I love the quote 'There is nowhere I haven't got into. No is a starting point for me'. She also tells of the most frightening experience of her life, trapped in a ditch in Afghanistan with the Taliban throwing mortars at her and bullets flying over her head alongside soldiers who all thought they were going to be killed. "I really, really didn't want to die in a muddy field in Helmand," she says.  Watch it ... and be inspired. 

The film is part of the excellent Sunday Times Unquiet Film Series. All of them are worth watching, especially those on Times New Roman and on Photojournalism

Weird Al's Word Crimes - flawed but very funny

Eleven years ago Lynne Truss's book Eats Shoots and Leaves encouraged people to talk about grammar again. It even became a popular Christmas stocking filler. I remember being asked to arbitrate in a tipsy Boxing Day dispute between two women, both having received the book, who had opposing views on the possessive apostrophe when used with names ending in s. You must be joking I said, sneaking off to watch the football.
Now the video Word Crimes by Weird Al Yankovic has pushed grammar back to the fore - this time with the kids and the online community. The parody of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines has clocked up almost 13 million YouTube views and been requested in clubs instead of the politically incorrect original. It has also had linguists taking to their blogs, some in support and some pointing out that Weird Al hasn't got all his grammar rules in order.
My only view is everyone should watch it. It isn't the definitive guide on grammar. It's just a good song, a clever video ... and it's very funny. And if it gets people talking about contractions, pronouns, homophones, dangling participles, syntax and less v fewer, that can only be a bonus.

Herald video puts the fun back in newspapers

Hats off to the Pembrokeshire Herald for this video to celebrate its first anniversary. Local newspapers can sometimes be too po-faced ... so nice to see the editor and staff raising a smile. Really nicely done too.