Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Highest (Or: Why "The Towering Inferno" is a stupid title)

Good morning! I am now in France, where my parents have lived for nine years, and where my mum goes to Church, which is what we all did last night even though she's the only extant Christian. There was no room for an organist, so we sang carols to the backing of some karaoke machine, which meant we couldn't cut out any of the verses and had to perform "O Come All Ye Faithful" in its entirety, something that has quite possibly never happened before in the carol's history outside of Christmas, because it has something like thirty-two practically identical verses. Rendered thus light-headed, we heard the sermon.

"Black people are probably objectively more attractive than white people, once you get over the initial shock." Sorry, Togo Igawa!

The sermon was in English and a corker. The vicar had a lovely turn of phrase. He described the opening, baffling words of The Gospel According to John thus: "That's John showing you the picture on the cover of the jigsaw box". He also compared them to Procul Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale". These opening words are:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
The same was in the beginning with God. 
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 
Which makes two of us." 

 "Mention Iraq to most people, and they'll probably think of those Indiana Jones-type fellas on the news." Stewart Scudamore's work here as the actor given nothing to do, by the way, is blisteringly good.

It goes on:
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Sorry, whose name was John.
Not me. 
Another John.
That's how you can tell I'm not making this up.
Why would I have two guys called John if I was making it up?
Sorry - If I was making it up."

So the sermon was all about words... and I began to think about how the word Inferno, as in Dante's Inferno, had the same root as the word inferior. And I wondered why, by that same logic, Dante hadn't called the book about Heaven "Superno". It is after all, famously, "the highest". And I realised that the French for Hell - Infer - has nothing to do with fire, even though it does sound a bit like "fire", nor has the word Inferno, it just means "Down below". So "The Towering Inferno" literally means "The Towering Lowness". You idiot, Irwin Allen. Also Dante's Hell was cold.

"And a lot of the work here is of course still carried out by hand."
Three of my favourite lines.

A particularly religious bent to today's post then, but it's the reason for the season. Of course it's not the real reason for the season, the real reason is that it's dark and cold but getting lighter, but I went to church as a child, so that's the other reason. If I believed in God I'd definitely be a vicar or equivalent, all those people pretending to eat human flesh and crying out for grace and mercy and then having tea. Dad, as is also traditional, didn't say any of the joining-in bits. "What have I done wrong?" he reasoned. Then we drove home and had a great spaghetti bolognese, and he talked about the scene in Die Hard where Hans Gruber steals Mr. Takagi's watch. That never happened. He got that wrong.
Right. I hear rustling. Time to get up and pretend to be a child again, however that can best be managed. Can't put this off any longer. Good luck to us all.
Merry Christmas, readers!

No comments:

Post a Comment