In praise of stock phrases; LETTERS.
BRUCE MILLINGTON, while celebrating their work, certainly had something to get off his chest regarding commentators (May 4).
I think his analysis was a little off-beam in questioning the use of so-called stock phrases. What's wrong with them? It's a commentator's identity stamp. Terry 'Scraping the plastic' Spargo, Stewart 'Flared nostrils' Machin, Mark 'Much the best' Johnson, Malcolm 'Absolutely blasting home' Tomlinson.
Such phrases are an integral part of an entertaining, flowing commentary and add to the enjoyment of the listener or viewer.
Given the amount of races these guys get through it's unavoidable they are going to adopt familiar phrases. They're not computers, they are individuals.
Bruce names his top four and I would not argue. Richard Hoiles is so fluent and always seems to find the right words with faultless delivery. John Hunt has such presence and keeps it simple. Simon Holt winds it up brilliantly. Mark Johnson has the delivery and voice for the big occasion.
But no mention of Stewart Machin? His delivery is O'Sullevan-like, with the perfect voice to match the unfolding action, and he has an uncanny knack to find the right words and phrases to enhance any stirring finish. Top class.
Gareth Topham has to be the best young caller, very fluent and easy to listen to. The one with the widest vocabulary, stock-phrase-free, is Martin Harris, who commentates in a steady rhythm in such a precise professional way.
Bruce wants fewer ready phrases and more information, but doesn't too much information spoil the flow of a commentary? David Fitzgerald, who seems highly regarded and is obviously sharp as a tack, tries to cram too much in. Too many irrelevant jockey mentions, full names at that, and other non-retainable information thrown out during a race, which in my opinion makes him difficult to listen to.
Hence the surnames, Bruce, especially at the sharp end, helping to maintain the flow. In the shadows of the post, please continue with the much-loved phrases guys, but go easy on the information.
Cliff Oliver Newark, Nottinghamshire