Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

“Barcelona Plates” by Alexei Sayle from Barcelona

;Barnaby’s girlfriend wanted to tape a play off the radio—which was a two-hour monologue concerning the travails of a girl who was a sexually abused sickle cell anaemia sufferer—to discuss with her class at a later date. So she’d dragged out their old Sony portable stereo, plugged it in, tuned the radio to Radio 4, found a C 120 tape, started it when the play started and turned it over fastidiously after sixty minutes. But instead of pressing the button that would have taped the play she pressed the button that activated the built-in microphone and recorded a hundred and twenty minutes of hers and Barnaby’s home life, which aurally consisted of; ‘Want a cup of tea?’ ‘No thanks.’ And a muffled fart while she was out of the room. That was it. That was all. They thought they were happy but the tape told a different story, the tape proved them wrong. No one who lived through a hundred and twenty minutes of such torpidity could be happy. Theirs was a life of grinding tedium. Two weeks later, Barnaby’s girlfriend began an affair with a fireman who specialised in dangerous chemical spills.

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Grant Barrett