I had a chaplin at school more memorable for his beard than his name. He was a Russian Orthodox priest, and was always on the lookout for blasphemy and Satanism among our posters and music. One particular bugbear was the playing of records backwards to find hidden (and therefore morally corrupt) words. It dawns on me only now, 14 years later, that his fears were almost certainly motivated by his guilty knowlege that Jesus is “sausage” in reverse.
Archive for November, 2004
Ming the Mercantilist
Prior to growing his beard to a point and investing in a chest-revealing wardrobe, Ming was a single-minded advocate of a system of political economy based on accumulating bullion, establishing colonies and developing industry to attain a favorable balance of trade. However, he soon came to regard these as the follies of youth and adopted a fiscal policy based on the destruction of planets other than his own.
Conan the Veterinarian
Despite five years study and two years in the field, Conan abandoned his interest in animal husbandry after catching his tiara in a cow’s vulva during a complicated breach birth. With a calf’s death imprinted on his conscience and a hoof-shaped indent imprinted on his ankle, he felt he had no choice but to hang up his stethoscope and take up the sword.
Vlad the Wholesaler
Before training for his better-known career of plunging stakes through Hungarians, Vlad had a plunging stake in a badly managed timber wholesaler.
Ivan the Constable
Ivan was poorly suited to life as a village bobby and he was soon kicked off the Force for insisting on both summary justice and capital punishment for traffic offences. His sacking proved fortuitous, however, since he arrived at the Job Centre just as an advertisment for Tsar of Russia was being put on display.
Mack the Midwife
Before his association with cutlery and multiple marriage certificates, Mack was more familiar (if not a dab hand) with a pair of episiotomy scissors and a sphygnomanometer. It was only when he began to get regular orders for afterbirth omlettes, a dish he was prone to overcooking, that he began to diversify into larceny and murder.
For too long the potato has been allowed to exercise its hegemony over the humble cress. If you believe that solanum tuberosum and its cronies at the British Potato Council should have its jacket torn off and its eyes poked, join with me in song. This ditty, like the Band Aid single, will show the world that we will not tolerate cress’s plight.
(To the tune of Dedication, the theme to the children’s television programme Record Breakers.)
Mastication, that’s how you eat
If you wanna eat your cress
Under your own speed or duress
Ooh-ooh mastication’s what you need;
If you wanna be a salivator, ooo-oooh.
1. HKLP (Holds Knife Like Pen) is a habit so derided that it has a commonly recognised abbreviation, but that doesn’t stop diners (including people I count as friends) ineffectually sawing at their food as if dissecting a hitherto undiscovered species of hummingbird. There isn’t a watertight argument as to why HKLP is unbearably naff, but it is a dainty affectation comparable to embroidered bogroll covers, raising your little finger when drinking and putting circles instead of dots above the letter ‘i’.
2. Lavatory attendants, and more specifically, their little metal dishes for the placement of coins, drive me to the sort of anger you associate with Wolf from Gladiators. The idea that I would tip a man whose job is to make sure I don’t snort coke from the bogroll dispenser or invite my dining companion for a quickie against the cistern is nothing short of preposterous.
3. Apologising to waiters is unforgivable unless you’ve done something extremely gauche (holding your knife like a pen, for example). If you have inconvenienced a waiter you should leave him a bigger tip, but never imagine you will be friends. Like proctologists and tramps, you want waiters to be friendly, not matey.
4. Deliberating over whether to see the pudding menu is a needless wrinkle to a social occasion. I never refuse even when uncomfortably distended because I can’t bear the awkward eyebrow semaphore required, when a waiter is present, to find out whether your dining partner secretly wants a plum duff but is concerned not to appear greedy.
5. Short of “Is that a meal?” when you ask for a burger without chips in a fast food chain (correct answer: “Not in any meaningful sense of the word”) the most irritating question in a restaurant is: “How is your meal?” It is a wrong-headed attempt at improving service in the most disingenous and cosmetic way. Normatively, the kitchen should be so confident in its output that the question is unncecessary, and a good waiter would have anticipated any subsequent requests when he brought the food to the table. Positively, a chef that doesn’t make sure his dishes are satisfactory when they leave the kitchen won’t give a stuffed fig about their condition when they are half-eaten.
What was Gil Scott-Heron thinking when he declared, in his most famous song, that the revolution would not be televised?
The phrase doesn’t work either literally (revolutions of any significance since the song was written in 1975 have all been televised) or as part of a more detailed argument. viz
(a) The revolution will not be televised because there will be no demand for coverage. Clearly untrue. Even if every last protester was out on the streets, including the elderly and infirm, there would still be a television audience among those under siege from the revolutionaries. Besides, when you got home from the riots, you would want to sit back and watch the highlights.
(b) The revolution will not be televised because there won’t be a revolution, since would-be revolutionaries are too busy watching television. A circular argument if ever there was one. It assumes that there must be potential revolutionaries to justify the existence of a revolution. What is a potential revolutionary, anyway? It’s like a non-practising prostitute.
(c) The revolution will not be televised because counterrevolutionaries control the media and will suppress it. Television companies might be owned by a group of unsympathetic tycoons, but it would still be in their interests to cover the revolution. It might not be televised objectively, but it would certainly have screen time.
(d) The revolution will not be televised because there will be a power shortage. Scott-Heron may have believed that the revolution would be started during an electrical workers’ strike similar to the British experience in December 1970, when the Electrical Trades Union slowdown did indeed cause programmes to be stopped mid-broadcast. However, neither this strike nor any subsequent ones amounted to a revolution.
(e) The revolution will not be televised because it will be slow and organic, and thus unsuitable for television coverage. In that case, it’s not a revolution at all, but an evolution.
(f) The revolution will not be televised because by the time it happens a new form of broadcasting will have usurped television’s role. It has been 30 years since the song was written and television is still the dominant medium. Scott-Heron didn’t give a time frame, but three decades is a bit of a stretch for a political commentary, wouldn’t you say?
But I don’t want to be a stick in the mud. Lots of people like The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, so why not just tweak the lyrics a little? To finish off, here are some ideas for alternative titles. Other suggestions welcome…
The resolution will not be televised. A problem I myself had recently when trying to connect my PC to my television set.
The devolution will not be televised. John Prescott’s failure to get enough votes for a North East regional assembly spells curtains for the sale of broadcast rights.
The restitution will not be televised. Let’s face it, the Elgin Marbles are never going to go back to Greece.
The absolution will not be televised. Not unless the Catholic Church has a radical rethink about the nature of confession and strikes a deal with a reality television company.
The red solution will not be televised. Adding oxalic acid to ammonium thiocyantate and iron(III) chloride hexahydrate is unlikely to make good television, even on Tomorrow’s World.
ps: this is not serious. If you are a race warrior who believes that violence is the only solution to inequality, go and harass someone with a less-developed sense of irony.