Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Staggering through the rye

I am obliged to my friends at BBC News who inform me that alcohol kills 1 in 20 Scots. This is very good news indeed, as I infer that 95% of my caber-tossing cousins, my porridge-devouring pals, as it were, are immune to the effects of intoxicating libations, and can indulge with even less consideration than they had shown. Good for you, McTavish!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Papal nasal hair

There are many reasons not to go into the teaching profession, children being among the more numerous of those reasons. But for those with a strange desire to spend their working lives in the arcane and underground world that is the educational system, one of the prerequisites should be that one’s name be devoid of any aspect that could be construed as silly or rude. Should, for example, your surname be Pelvicthrust, or your name Mr P. Nightly, then a career in accountancy, where nothing ever amuses anyone, is what is required.
I was at college with one young lady who had a name that is guaranteed to make anyone from the age of 3 to 93 turn purple with mirth. She went on to become a teacher. I expect that she got married and took her husband’s name before she dared introduce herself to her students. I recall only one incident involving this lady that had little to do with her name. I was paying an all too rare visit to my college, and sitting in the canteen with six or seven other young men. The lady in question entered the canteen, and commenced to hand cards to everyone at my table, except me. She had been to visit an establishment of a discreet nature in a local town, and had been advised to invite certain of her closer friends to pay a similar visit. I had very mixed emotions; delighted not to have to make that trip, but concerned as to why I had not been in the group dealt the invitations. I shall not, because I am a caring person, tell you her name, but will say that I believe it is Lancastrian in origin.
My first chemistry teacher had an even more inappropriate name. I can think of very few situations in which the name would not cause embarrassment. At the time, however, the implication in the name was not in common usage, and I was not aware of anyone who drew sexual connotations from it. It would certainly not be the case today. I very much doubt whether she lived up to her name, and I am fairly certain that I would not want to find out. My memories of her are very vague, but I do recall a dislike of her that went beyond intensity and bordered on pathological loathing. She should not have been a teacher even if she had an unamusing name, because she was crap. Note how kind I am in not identifying her.
At my junior school there was Mr Horne. Today he would have to change his name before he considered passing through the school gates. At that time, again as far as I recall, and certainly in my school, there was no rumour that the gentleman was in a state of constant arousal.
It is Mr Horne that I want to tell you about, because he was a damned good chap. He didn’t teach me, but was the teacher given the job of coaching the football team. This is because he was male, 84 years younger than Mr Stevens and 17 stone lighter than Mr Nixon. Our school football team was top rate, and one of the best in the city. I used to go to the practice and training sessions that were held one evening a week after school. I was crap. Utterly, totally, useless. There was, however, never any suggestion made that I should not attend. There were a few of us who knew we would never make the first or second team, and would rarely get a game in the practice sessions, but we loved playing and were not just tolerated but encouraged. In my last year at primary school, the football team won every game in the league (not the top division) and got to the cup final where they narrowly lost. This meant that virtually every Saturday morning in winter, Mr Horne would leave the comforts of his hearth to accompany a group of raucous pre-pubescent thugs and their supporters to wherever the game was to be played. It would probably have been less fun if the team were losing, but it still showed a fair degree of commitment.
What, however, made Mr Horne so outstanding was that, in addition to all of this, he arranged a game for those of us who were regular attendees at training, but would never be picked on merit. The team consisted, if I recall accurately, about six or seven of us donkeys, and four or five good players. I loved it, even though no-one thought to pass the ball to me, I probably got half a dozen kicks of the ball in the game, some of which may have connected, but I was really happy and proud to be in a team which bore the school’s name.
This treatment is in complete contrast to the games teachers I encountered later - a bunch of ignorant, callous fascists who only had contempt for those with little ability. I would gladly frogmarch them all out of their piss soaked retirement homes, make them dress in vest and shorts and set the bastards on a ten mile cross country run.

So, thank you Mr Horne. I hope that you are happy and fulfilled.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Palmed off with relish

I was pleased to discover a message in my Thunderbird folder this morning from a dear old friend (a Mr Trellis of North Epsom). He informs me, among many such interesting items, that his daughter is studying English at university and is partially financing this by working in a hairdressing establishment. (Keats and Cuts? Byron’s Bouffants? Our Mutual Fringe?)

Of course, this combination is nothing new, I always enjoy a debate about English prose or verse when I wend my way to the barber’s shop to have my coiffure attended to.

The last few visits have been entirely been taken up with the works of John Donne. We discussed the combination of religious and secular themes in his work, his use of metaphor, how he compared with, say, Ben Jonson, (pause for inevitable athletics joke). Indeed, on one occasion we spent such a long time discussing in what way the sun could be described as a “saucy pedantic wretch” that I had to wear a wig for two weeks afterwards. In the end we concluded that Donne was just a twat.

What do you discuss with your hair technician (no cruel quips about Dave having to have very short conversations (e.g. Great Norfolk Intellectuals) because he’s never in there for very long)?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Death wish

I wonder if any of you can assist me with a little project. Do you have a current email address for Denis Healey? I have composed a little missive to him (below) and don’t really want to put it in the post, as the secret service is still notoriously Tory, and is likely to intercept it. Fortunately, they haven’t yet got to grips with the electric internet and therefore we are free to communicate unencumbered by the prospect of a dawn raid by a bunch of spooks.

Dave – are you in contact? I believe he was a contemporary of yours at school. Perhaps you still exchange advice about antirrhinums or discuss your pergola?

Donn – is the old boy on your blog followers list? I hear that he takes a keen interest in matters Winnipegonian.

Pam – have you been stalked by a senior politician famous for his facial hair?

Anyway, let me know. I lost touch with Denis because of a minor tiff about his support for the nuclear deterrent, and his failure to back me in my campaign against the Radio Times subscription department.

Anyway, the message is as follows.

Den! You old goat!

Well done!

I was quietly perusing the news sites on the electric internet this morning, when what should I find but an article about your appearing on Desert Island Discs. I’m afraid I don’t listen to it any longer, as I hate to be taken by surprise. Much as I would like to know more about the musical tastes of Delia Smith and Nobby Stiles, for example, I tend to eschew broadcasts on which some prize chump such as Brandreth might turn up, and I owe it to my readership not to get overstressed.

Anyway, the article mentioned that you have softened your stance against the Thatch, and recently gave her a hug. Blow me if two pages further on there was not an article about her being admitted to hospital with a broken arm! You crafty sod!

Do you have any plans do continue your career as a nonagenarian ninja, or was this a one off? Are you doing this as a public service, or do you take contracts?

Do you have a price list?

I have spent my life as an ardent campaigner against violence, and would therefore be less than comfortable with your swinging on a rope through the chamber of the commons and raking the opposition front bench with machine gun fire, nor would I sanction mowing down the Bottomleys in an armoured car in Farnham High Street, but my pals in the North East Hampshire Maoist Trotskyist Alliance may be able to rustle up a few quid to finance some of the following projects.

  • Dunking Tebbit head first down the bogs in the Lords canteen.
  • Giving Leon Brittan a Chinese burn.
  • “Accidentally” urinating down Cecil Parkinson’s leg when occupying the next urinal stall at a palace garden party.
  • Kneeing Cameron in the groin. Quite hard.
  • A deft karate chop to Michael Howard’s teeth. Or anything else that will result in his shutting up for a time.
  • Pushing Blair down the stairs. Extra if he goes arse over tit down 15 stairs or more.

You get the idea. I would do these things myself, but think that you can probably get away with it more easily, and can always blame your prostate medication if you get caught.

Let me know what you think.

I will continue to follow with keen interest your campaign to put democracy in to action.

All the best