7 comments on “Melvyn Bragg questions we can answer

  1. If I hadn’t listened to the pretentious git on too many long drives to client sites, it would have been a significant revelation that he – or the journo or the sub – correlates “cleverness” and “culture”.

    It is a peculiar conceit of the not-very-clever-but-over-educated middle class, particularly its metropolitan lower fringe, that giving a shit about ballet, “two high-powered dance collaborations” or literary festivals has anything to do with either intelligence or even the sort of art that will last past the next neologistic fad.

    You see the same sort of sneering from Paxman on University Challenge when a bunch of serious scientists, medics or whatever manage to confuse Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov (not that I could tell them apart.)

  2. You see the same sort of sneering from Paxman on University Challenge when a bunch of serious scientists, medics or whatever manage to confuse Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov (not that I could tell them apart.)

    Quite. It is acceptable in British society to be utterly ignorant of the basics of maths and science, and shrug off the ignorance with “Well, how can I be expected to know that, titter!”. But anyone versed in the hard sciences is derided if they are out of touch with what is perceived to be elite culture.

  3. Reminds me of the cartoon in Mikes’s How to be an alien where an intelligent looking foreigner is introduced at a party, disparagingly, as “This is Prof blah, he’s terribly clever”.

    Richard Burton (the explorer) came second when he entered the Indian Army competition for fluency in the greatest number of languages. He could only manage a dozen or so.

    It’s a matter of expectations and also of something akin to the snobbery against ‘trade’.

  4. SE:

    Don’t see how anyone could possibly not be able to differentiate between Tchaikovsky and Rachmanionov. Other than both being somewhat long and Russki-sounding, they’re not spelled or even pronounced similarly.

    Anything else I could, maybe, help you with?

  5. Answer
    Because we haven’t been successfully invaded (except for 1688 and a couple of times in the Wars of the Roses each of which was an inside job) for over 900 years. The brutal elimination of the not-so-bright has not hit us. Why do you think the Jews are so over-represented in the academic and cultural elite? It’s because very few who weren’t bright or talented escaped the pogroms.
    FYI I prefer to have a few stupid Brits around if the alternative is to weed them out through pogroms.

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