Saturday, 21 October 2006

Talk, grunt and say Hello!

More talk all talk

One programme I always pause to watch is the HardTalk series on BBCWorld where guests are interviewed having to address tough questions by seemingly fearless hosts. However, there are the lighter versions which are HardTalk Extra for famous people not involved in politics and ExtraTime for sports personalities.

In the last week, I had the opportunity to see one with Martina Navratilova and another with Leslie Phillips, people I do admire in some sort of way.

Blunt the grunt

In the case of Martina (unfavourably referred to as Navrati-leave her alone by some unfriendly characters), I finally understood what she meant when her complained in the 90s that Monica Seles was squealing like a stuffed pig, referring to her grunting.

That created something of a muffled laugh, but I thought it was a disgruntled comment, fair as it was.

However, when you also hear the American with a Russian background – Maria Sharapova grunt as she anticipates hitting the ball you begin to wonder, does it really require that much effort, barely do you see the men produce that much noise and they definitely hit harder.

So Martina explained that, the grunts muffled the sound of the tennis ball hitting the opponent’s racquet and sometimes the sound of it hitting the floor of the court or the net cord, this means one can only anticipate the ball by sight through flight rather than the added benefit of sound.

Sight, depth and perception

I remember I was never good at tennis, I just could not hit the ball, but it was not till later in life that I understood the reason. This was not much to do with my hearing, though that only really improved in my teens; it was because I had astigmatism in the left eye which meant I would not judge distance and speed.

It affects me so much that I never cross roads with fast moving vehicles except when traffic lights give me right-of-way or the driver acknowledges my intentions. Only a few days ago, people calmly crossed a dual-carriageway and when I followed, I became quite anxious as a car approached at speed, it was probably safe, but my brain could not use the information it was getting about the proximity of the vehicle.

It could be frustrating, but I am a patient man when it comes to crossing roads, my legs are not insured, and neither do I want to put them through the stress test of breakability.

As for the grunting in tennis, a decibel meter with warnings and points deductions might just help curtail those Neanderthal tendencies and make the game more fun, I also want to hear the ball being hit when watching on television.

Hellooo and bless

The interview with Leslie Philips was quite light hearted, known for playing seemingly gentlemanly roles with a lecherous affectation, he has been acting for about 70 years and does look really well at 82.

His trademark Hello! Or DingDong! Just have that sense of double entendre that was clean and so tongue-in-cheek about the Ealing Comedies, the Carry On series and Doctor.

Only Leslie Phillips can make Hello mean, what are you doing tonight, darling? A chat-up line, that can almost never be read as sexual harassment.

It would appear, his depiction of doctors might have lead to some people taking on that career on the premise that it would get them to meet sexy nurses besides doing the jobs of catering to people’s health – probably, the reason the NHS is what it has become.

However, for me, the line that stands out most was at the end of the film Saving Grace where having played the vicar and knowingly observed the growing of marijuana in first the churchyard and then with one of the parishioners, his reply to the question from the press – Bless! [Eyes rolled up looking up to heaven] – For me, that was a classic.

References

Navratilova wants ban on grunting

TIME.com: Stop That Grunt! -- Jul 13, 1992

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