Friday, 6 April 2012
On today's (Good Friday April 6) BBCR4 Today programme, Alan Little did one of those 'look back in angst' pieces about covering the Bosnian conflict, in his inimitable (I hope) doleful voice. He recorded his feelings of guilt at the death of a young cameraman from Zagreb who was working alongside him when killed, who Little said they nicknamed "after Chaucer" 'Mr-Valiant-For-Truth'. Well, Alan, to quote another BBC programme, I have news for you. Mr-Valiant-For -Truth is a character in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, written oh a mere 250 years after Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. So easy to get one pilgrim thingy mixed up with another eh? It is not so much that Little mis-attributed M-V-F-T that irks me as the knowledge that not one of the four, five, six - however many editors, sub-editors and other beady-eyed politically correct individuals involved in recording Little's piece and slotting it into the programme, not to mention the presenter, Evan Davies, spotted the ludicrous error. But was it ludicrous? or do I belong to the last generation of generalists who might be expected to know my Chaucer from my Bunyan? I do remember being faintly shocked when one of my daughters explained in the 1980's that her geography class was calculating how long it would take a fictitious African villager to collect water from a notional well a mile distant from her imaginary village, rather than where Africa was.