The correct way to pronounce Marvel, as in Captain Marvel, is with all the emphasis front-loaded on to the first syllable, like the verb. I have been pronouncing it all this time like the poet Marvell, and this hasn’t interrupted my life in any way; I’ve never, for instance, gone to the cinema and ended up in the wrong film, or embarked on a debate about the feminist subtext of Captain Marvel and landed, mystified, in a conversation about country house poetry. Yet it is still a tremendous problem, since it makes me the most irritating person alive. Thank God, some years ago, I took the precaution of producing young, since I would never otherwise have found out how incredibly grating I am.
Other ways in which I am maddening, just in the comic universe space: being unable to distinguish between Marvel and DC; failing to say “Catwoman” fast enough, so that it sounds like I’m listing two separate entities.
Well, this is easy – I just have to avoid talking about comics, and any cultural spin-off. Except, not so fast: there are other subjects on which I am also incredibly annoying, and that, for brevity, is all of them. Politics, food, friendship, the time I went on a snowmobile. I irked the living hell out of my son the other day, just by revealing that I was at Reading festival in 1992, when Nirvana were headlining, just because it should have been him. I wasn’t really listening, I said, trying to be emollient, but apparently that made it worse. I was also there the year before, when a much more obscure Kurt Cobain was on the bill, and I do not plan to admit this for at least another 10 years.
I can see the biological imperative here: the outside world is fraught with risk, and who would plunge into it, if the alternative – a house, with a loving parent in it, who doesn’t say Catwoman fast enough – weren’t worse? Nevertheless, I now have a mumbled mantra that I might get as a tattoo: I don’t think I’m actually that bad.