Wednesday, October 10, 2007

“In Short, He’s a Really Good Bloke”

On the occasion of Colin Dexter’s 77th birthday (which was actually September 29), British critic, author, and columnist Mike Ripley delivers in Shots a fulsome tribute to the creator of Detective Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse. Writes Ripley:
… Colin was not only good company in private, over a pint of ale. In public he was (and still is) a wonderfully warm, self-effacing speaker who charms an audience with his natural wit and erudition, dealing politely with even the most inane questions from an audience or interviewer (and inane questions he has been asked many, many times previously).

He has a fund of anecdotes and stories which gave the unwary listener the impression that he was just a simple man of simple pleasures (doing the crossword, visiting the Garden Centre at week-ends, listening to The Archers) for whom this whole ‘bestselling author’ thing [had] all been a bit of a surprise.

Listening to him speak, an unwitting audience could be forgiven for not realising that this was the same man who generates 1,230,000 hits when his name is Googled (as opposed to 970,000 hits for “Inspector Morse”), and though he may have absolutely no idea of what being Googled involves, this is a man who uses words like boustrophedon in a modern detective story (along with an estimated 11,500 other words in a vocabulary roughly 38 times bigger than that of a tabloid newspaper); who claims his favourite writer is Tacitus (he approves of the short, precise sentences), and who has pioneered the use of “the Oxford comma” in modern grammar.
The entirety of Ripley’s encomium can be found here.

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