A Taste of Cambridge

One of the best language learners I ever knew was a Swede who learnt her flawlessly idiomatic English in six months watching any old rubbish on daytime TV. She was wholly uncritical, absorbing and storing and regurgitating whatever happened to pass upon the screen.

It takes a certain sort of mind and temperament, perhaps, to funnel soaps and chat and cartoons and, well, the entire wit and substance of daytime TV into a functional whole. Half an hour is as much as most people can take. But in a way its vacuity makes it a vehicle of language not unlike many or even most language course books – pan-directional content, an even spattering of supposedly universal topics (personality, the environment, cultural difference, work-life balance and so on ad infinitum), stagey dialogue, tenuous but insistent relevance and the sort of neutered inoffensiveness than can only be born of stringent and multi-layered editorial oversight.

All this is by of apology for posting the following link, to a programme of daytime TV called A Taste of Britain, hosted by Janet Street Porter and a man. It is about food, and local culture, and local food culture, and is only of interest because it happens to focus on Cambridge and Cambridgeshire. Janet Street Porter in a punt is a classic of the genre (stagey, inoffensive, obvious etc.)

A Cambridgeshire cuisine does not come readily to mind, so one for the curious, really. Sit, absorb, and regurgitate.



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