Miss Prints and Tutu Passé enjoy the beluga and the blue stilton in the belvedere at Belvoir, so much froth and bubbles - always missing the point

June, July 89
Oils on canvas on board
53cm (21") x 40cm (15")

Pronounce Belvoir as Bellvwaar

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A note on pronunciation:-

Blue Stilton is a fine cheese (although I'd tend to give it a miss for the Wensleydale). From the town of Stilton on the old A1, to the Rocking Goose (not seen for the trees), and on by Much Blather and Great Wittering, by way of Laxton, Exton, Collyweston, Sewstern, Sproxton, Croxton and Yowell, by Belton, Foston, Orston, Alverton and Barking-in-the-Vale to Belvoir pronounced Beever, in the Vale of Belvoir pronounced Beever.

I have yet to see any definitive statistics regarding the comparative levels of consumption of caviar and scampi or Blue Stilton and Wensleydale in Wensleydale, Stilton, the Vale of Belvoir, the Vale of Catmose, Ripon, Thirsk, Richmond or Reeth; and I can't tell you why the deliberate mispronunciation of Belvoir as Bellvwaar should be intrinsically funny - but it is.

The subtleties and distinctions of accent, dialect and pronunciation and their relationship to class and pretension (both social and intellectual) in the British Isles could, and in all probability already have filled several large volumes, none of which I wish or intend to read. †

(As an aside; I have long had a desire to write a novel - a large volume, opening with 'A dark flatulence of art critics covened near the drinks table.' the denouement of which would be the unlikely but much wished for occurrence of the massed ranks of pea-brained arty-farties simultaneously disappearing up their own hyperbolic fundaments with such rapidity that the resulting vortex causes an immense black hole to form, annihilating all sentient life in its fearsomely rapacious and destructive grasp. It has however been pointed out to me that a novel is meant to be a work of fiction, whereas I have done no more, so they tell me, than describe the modern/contemporary art Establishment as it is.)

(Apologies; a second aside (but bear with me, this one at least is back on to the subject of pronunciation); another book I'd like to write, in the style of E. L. Wisty perhaps is about what happens when the loud extroverts of the world are suddenly given the 'gift' of self-awareness and in one dazzling moment of realisation all the Cockneys, the Brummies and the Scousers spontaneously cease to exist out of a sense of undiluted embarrassment at inflicting on an undeserving world three of the most dreadful accents created outside of secure military research establishments. To this list could be added the denizens of Middlesbrough, Edinburgh Morningside and Hinton Charterhouse, whose offence may be less, but who will none the less not be missed.)

Asides aside then, here, instead of explanation is an example (which, sadly, will give no added insight to those who understand what this is all about anyway, while at the same time offering no help at all to those who haven't a clue what this is all about, anyway. Anyway; forget pointlessness and futility, here goes):

At the time of writing I live in the working class town of Dagenham pronounced Dagn'm, in the county of Essex - for which latter fact I offer sincere apologies, but ask you to note that I have no direct responsibility for this happenstance.

By the simple, and uniquely British process of 'repronouncing' Dagn'm as Dagennhum the town is immediately transformed into a pleasantly leafy middle class suburb in the non-Essex Home Counties.

A further refinement as D'genh'm (the h'm a shortened hum) sees the town moved to Surrey with Weybridge and Esher turfed out to Tower Hamlets and Brixton to make way.

Perhaps the most fanciful pronunciation of Dagenham I have heard is Dayzhn'm which would place the town sweatily cheek by jowl with the oleaginous trendies and wealthy braying inbreds of Kensington and Chelsea; and I still can't tell you why the deliberate mispronunciation of Belvoir as Bellvwaar should be intrinsically funny - but it is.

( † Robert Burchfield (one-time Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary) in his book The English Language appears to contradict this contention. Read what he wrote about this issue here.)