Thursday, April 16, 2009


Yesterday evening I was reading a newspaper feature that likened young children to sponges, in that they’re supposed to passively soak up information and influences from around them. So, for example, if you leave a toddler in a room full of Frenchmen, at the end of the day, he’ll come out speaking a certain amount of French. Or if left alone with a bunch of astrophysicists, he’ll emerge with a passable (if incomplete) theory for the formation of the Universe.

Anyhow, I decided to test this. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a child to hand. I did, however, have a sponge. (Which, according to The Daily Telegraph, amounts to much the same thing.) I therefore read it the opening chapter of “The English Patient.” The results were amazing.

When I’d finished, I squeezed the sponge. Out came: “She stands up in the garden where she has been working and looks into the distance.” And so on, unto the end of the chapter - all word perfect. But there was more. I gave it another squeeze. “Personally, I find this a very trite, overrated book,” said the sponge. “Why Ondaatje couldn’t have just gone for a standard linear narrative I do not know. You’ve really got to be one of those Guardian-reading ponces who lives in Islington to divine any artistic merit whatsoever from crap like this.”

Next, I played the sponge the CD of Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” from beginning to end. Then I squeezed it. Out came the opera, virtually note-perfect. It wasn’t in stereo, admittedly, but for a monaural sponge, the sound quality was pretty good, nonetheless.

But then disaster struck.

I played the DVD of “Reservoir Dogs”, forgetting that the sponge was still in the room. The next thing I knew, it had teamed up with a couple of J-Cloths and a scourer, escaped from the house, and attempted to rob the HSBC Bank on Fore Street. In the ensuing mêlée, the impressionable sponge and its colleagues were all shot dead by Police marksmen.

Given all this, therefore, it behoves us to take extreme care with the sort of material to which we expose the nation’s youngsters.


Anonymous said...

Your sponge was right fucking thick.Why didnt it say "The character of Hanna is far removed from Juliet Binoches interpretation?"

Joe Slavko said...

It actually did. And it went on to add, "That Juliet Binoche is a right dog, anyway. Looks like Kieron McEgan in drag."