A few weeks ago, I blogged about the dos and don’ts of writing. This week we have a new way of making sure our words don’t run away with us – The Parklife Test, aka The Brand Check.
Russell Brand’s extravagant language has always divided people. Now he’s reinvented himself as a revolutionary, it’s still not so much what he says as how he says it that’s attracting comments. @danbarker tweeted that “Russell Brand’s writing feels like somebody is about to shout PARKLIFE! at the end of every sentence.”
If this makes no sense to you, cast your minds back to 1994. Blur’s single Parklife featured actor Phil Daniels reciting long-worded lines, followed by singer Damon chirruping “Parklife!” There is great entertainment to be had by reading a long-winded sentence and warbling “Parklife!” at the end; and this tweet had me giggling away to myself with its pin-point perfect accuracy.
Russell Brand’s language can be seen as rather crowded and exhausting. However, I admit that I’m enjoying seeing the injection of a new lexicon into politics. It’s all got rather depressing and doomy recently, as more and more politicians adopt the language of the apocalypse (we’re “swamped” and “plagued” most days apparently, by something or other). Any way of refreshing that is welcome.
But as ever, the criticism Russell Brand has received is a reminder to all of us to keep it simple. I know I’ve banged on about this before, but if people can’t understand what you’re saying (or can’t be bothered trying to decipher it), what’s the point? I am much too old to remember most of the red-penned comments I received in my school essays, but the line “You seem to have swallowed a thesaurus” has stayed with me. OK, so I didn’t have much to say about the role of Enobarbus in Antony and Cleopatra – but padding it out with an insane amount of adjectives was clearly not the way forward. Lesson learned.
So, thank you Dan Barker – we now have a new useful check for verbosity. If I ever worry that a sentence feels a bit overblown, I’ll shout Parklife! at myself, and see if it fits. If it does, the sentence goes.