Sunday, November 26, 2006


Recently I've been listening to National Radio, from the Radio New Zealand website. I've also been downloading their podcasts and listening to them on my commutes.

Saturday mornings with Kim Hill is one of my favourites. I didn't used to like her so much, but she has grown on me. She does great interviews. Just when you're thinking, Oh, go on Kim, ask about - ! I want to know! she does. It's SO satisfying.

There is just one thing that really bugs me: why does she pronounce film as filim? At one point I wondered if she meant something else, and looked it up. Here is what I learned.

I learned that I should not look for rental accommodation in Filim, Oman. There are no rentals available. However, the weather is lovely.

I may be spelling it wrongly, however. Maybe she really means:


Noun 1. filum - a threadlike anatomical structure or chainlike series of cells

That doesn't really fit, though, and I am fairly sure she means neither of these things. She means film, in which case it all makes sense except for the way she pronounces it. That remains a mystery.

I listened to a Mary Wilson podcast on my way to work on Friday, and heard her interviewing Don Brash on his sudden resignation. I got the impression that you were getting impatient with him, Mary. You snapped at him like an outraged piranha, and I think you might have drawn blood. I can't say I blamed you, but I am not used to hearing that sort of thing at 6.30am on my way to work.

Brash deserved it, of course. This is the man who said he went easy on Helen Clark in debate because she is a woman, HA HA HA, and then he associated with (and accepted money from) those unpleasant, sneaky people and lied about it. He was contradicting himself again in your interview, and I do not blame you for getting snappy. But it did surprise me, so that I snorted, and embarrassed myself. It was your fault. You made me snort suddenly on my morning commute and thus confirm all my fellow commuters' preconceived ideas about weird gaijin.

But you're good at embarrassing me, or at least at making me embarrass myself, aren't you, Mary? You've done it before, HAVEN'T YOU? It may have been more than ten years ago that you visited, but I still haven't quite got over my brother calling to tell me he'd heard me on the radio.

"Eh?" I said. "Oh, that's right. I'd forgotten, and anyway I didn't think she'd use it. What did I say?"

"Something about being sex mad," he said.


And that's when I realized you'd only PRETENDED to turn it off.

After I'd shouted for a while my brother said, mildly,

"Well, it was something like that, anyway. It was pretty funny."

"I DID NOT SAY THAT," I said, and tried to remember exactly what I'd said. "What else did I say?"

"I can't remember," he said.

I couldn't remember either. It had been a couple of months since that impromptu interview, and I was very tired when I did it, which is the only reason I let myself be pressured into it. I had no energy to protest. I couldn't remember what I'd said five minutes after it finished.

"Anyway, you never listen to National Radio," I accused my brother. "How come you listened this time? I didn't think anybody I knew would ever hear it, so didn't worry about it. And she said she'd only use a couple of minutes of the interview."

"Oh, it was more like fifteen or twenty minutes," he said. "You went on and on and on."


He paused to see if I'd finished shouting, and carried on.

"Auntie Dorothy called and told me about it. "She just happened to hear it. And after that Euan, you remember him, our old neighbour from back home, he called, and, um, a few other people who'd heard from Auntie Dorothy. She called everyone she knew. I was hearing from people I hadn't heard from for years. She told us to call everybody we knew to tell them when the repeat was on."

(Auntie Dorothy was a terrible old gossip. Now that she is no longer with us I can safely say that this is why I never used to tell her anything I didn't want the entire population of New Zealand to know. I think she used to call people at random from the phone book if there was nobody else available to pass gossip on to. Thank goodness she never discovered the Internet.)

Mary, I am fairly sure you're not reading this, but if by chance you are (vanity Googling, caught you!), I'm pretty sure you'll have figured out who I am. The last time you caused me to embarrass myself publicly you bought me a drink the next time we met. You didn't quite call it an apology but it was good enough for me. (In any case, by then I'd decided to be flattered rather than appalled. It was too late anyway.)

Well, it's been a long time since we last met, but this is just to let you know you owe me another drink.


Anonymous said...

I'm now very curious about your interview! Mary's always like that, I'm sure you're one of very, very many people she's embarrassed.

And I think Kim is proud of her idiosyncratic pronunciation of film. It's a very bright "l" indeed.

Anonymous said...

The "filum" pronunciation is quite common, and not just in New Zealand. The fact that you do find it in NZ is meant to be something to do with our Scottish heritage, I think.

It irritates me too, though. It's like people who say "nuculear"

kay said...

The Irish see nothing irritating in their usual pronunciation "filim"--believe it's a bit British, too....

kay said...

Kim Hill was born and raised in Shropshire, the English county bordering Wales, but her father was actually Irish and her mother was Scots.

Prolly why she says "filim".....