What’s the point of a blog? To share things you know and love, right?
Right. I’m starting with Englishmen. Some of my best friends (and a good percentage of my lust objects) are Englishmen. I don’t think they get the press they deserve. Maybe because we don’t take the time to think about them rigorously enough. So I’m going to try.
1) The Frivol (homo hilaris urbanus)
An entirely British species, generally found south of the Tyne, with a pronounced chattering call, playful, very sociable. Fond of word games.
Henry Blofeld – cricket commentator extraordinaire, who cheered me up no end today by confessing one of his worst on-air mistakes. ‘You get into terrible trouble with Spoonerisms,’ he said darkly. Then he described being in the commentators’ box when Graham Gooch scored 333 against India at Lords. As the hero left the field, Blofeld told the radio audience, ‘Let the crowd do the talking’ and paused for 10 seconds, presumably to allow the listeners to throw their gardening hats in the air in time with the applause at the cricket ground. Resuming, as he says himself, in full Churchillian mode, he announced to a grateful world, ‘Never before in the history of this great ground of ours has a cloud crapped like this one.’
Dr Spooner – a Victorian Dean of New College, Oxford, who gave his name to the transposition of consonants to change meaning. Probably most, possibly all of the examples quoted are apocryphal. The one most loved in my family was ‘Let’s raise a glass to the queer old Dean’ – otherwise the dear old Queen. Though my own favourite is ‘the Lord is a shoving leopard’. Yeah. I’ve lived with cats like that.
The Voice from the Back – Someone out there knows who this particular VFTB is; sadly I don’t. On my first day in the Overseas Department of the Bank of England three people told me about him. Whoever he is, I take my hat off to him. For, back in the early 70s, when the world came off the gold standard and the IMF was trying to devise an international unit of currency, the relevant committee was chaired by Mr (later Sir) Jeremy Morse – who went on to become Chairman of Lloyds Bank and inspire the Inspector of that Ilk. Eventually they came up with SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) in the IMF. Not a name to conjure with. What might they call them instead? Sequins? Doubloons? Said the Voice from the Back, ‘You could always call them Morsels.’
Thank God for the Frivols.
Gentlemen, I salute you.