The Null Device
After undergoing brain surgery for life-threatening meningitis, a 10-year-old boy from York awoke with an upper-class English accent:
"We went on a family holiday to Northumberland and he was playing on the beach and he said, 'Look, I've made a sand castle' but really stretched the vowels, which made him sound really posh," Mrs McCartney-Moore said.
"We all just stared back at him - we couldn't believe what we had heard, because he had a Yorkshire accent before his illness.
"He had no idea why we were staring at him - he just thought he was speaking normally."If young William's new posh accent is the result of incidental neurological damage to the speech centres of his brain, does it follow that people who naturally speak like that are neurologically defective? The jokes pretty much write themselves.
Today in heritage rock news: the Sex Pistols are reuniting, yet again, to play a show marking the thirtieth anniversary of their album Never Mind The Bollocks. The show, their first since 2003, will be at the NME Carling Academy in Brixton and tickets will cost £37.50 plus fees. Meanwhile, joining in the punk spirit, EMI are rereleasing four of their singles on vinyl, and underground music magazine NME is running a campaign to get God Save The Queen to number one in the UK.
The Sex Pistols were, of course, known for being the band that Sid Vicious, a violent hooligan, nihilist and drug addict, was in. Recently, comparisons have been drawn between Vicious and a contemporary artist of similar repute, Pete Doherty. Whilst these comparisons may arise, in my opinion, Doherty is no Vicious, and Vicious was the more artistically significant figure. For one, Vicious was not an artist by any definition; he didn't write songs, sing (by any definition of the word) or play any instruments. As such, his appointment as a member of Britain's most mediagenic punk rock group was (on the part of either John Lydon or Malcolm McLaren, depending on whom you believe) itself a work of conceptual art, on a par with Marcel Duchamp framing a porcelain urinal as art and placing it in a gallery. A urinal is not art, but presenting it as art is art — once. The second time someone does it, it is not art but mere copying. (Though the act of copying can be art if it itself is the point; for example Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard's recreation of a Cramps gig in a mental hospital, or Banksy's "Tesco Value" riff on Warhol's Campbell's soup cans; that is, if the act makes a new statement on the original, rather than simply reiterating it.) Pete Doherty, however, is worse than not an artist: he's a passably mediocre artist, a middling songwriter and scribbler, who has somehow come to present himself as the Baudelaire of Indie, the great romantic nihilist poet of our age. Sid Vicious, however, had no such pretentions (and, indeed, probably couldn't spell "pretentions"); he was just a violent cretin and made no bones about being anything more. Sid Vicious' career in the Sex Pistols was Dadaist art; Pete Doherty's career is youth-oriented advertising agency copy.