I was chatting a few days ago to a friend who reads this blog occasionally. He observed how many lousy speakers there were around. I managed to resist pointing out that if this opinion was based on my blog he didn’t know the half of it. I discard far more than I cover, and you may take it that I do not do so on the basis of their being too good. For every speech I critique here I watch perhaps five that don’t warrant the effort because they don’t have a facet that I find interesting, because they are boring or because they are just bad.
On a foray in search of something interesting I happened upon a series of speeches in the British House of Commons. It was the debate in October 2011, triggered by an online petition for the UK to hold a referendum on membership of the European Union. I’ve seen many examples of John Redwood speaking, and have tended to pigeon-hole him as staid, safe and unexciting. Here though he was a different beastie!
No script: no notes: just passion.
In answer to those who claim that without a script the quality of your syntax is in danger of fading, I say just take a look at the following list…
- 0:08 Anadiplosis on the word ‘democracy’
- 0:17 Anaphora – “it has been humbled”
- 0:28 Anaphora – “they not only…”
Not bad for half a minute!
- 1.30 Anaphora – “Go to …”
- 2:35 Anaphora – “I cannot …”
- 2:58 Anaphora – “This house was great …”
- 3:28 Anaphora – “We need to …”
The whole speech lasted less than four minutes, was beautifully structured, clear, powerful, and far from syntax-lite.
So where was the staid, safe and unexciting speaking that I have seen before? Whence came that passion? The subject matter might have something to do with it, but also it has been said often enough that the House of Commons is like a club. Redwood has been a member for more than a quarter of a century and evidently he feels in his element here, far more perhaps than out in the rest of the world. He may feel that in the rest of the world he has to be more circumspect. Who knows?
Whatever the reason, that’s the way to do it.