Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bring Out Your Dead

The tumbrils are ready in SW17, the charnel houses of South London are preparing for an influx of customers.
Like virgins to the altar (oops sorry; this is not a Solstice piece) like lambs to the ritual slaughter Britain's young tennis hopefuls will be taken through the streets the place of execution, The All England Club where they will kneel before axepersons with names like Federer, Roddick, Williams and Clijsters. The axe usually falls mercifully quickly to cut off careers that had promised so much.
Every year at this time sports pundits ask why can Britain not produce a contender. And ghostly eminences of Andrew Castle, Chris Bailey and Annabel Croft rattle their chains and cry "I cudda been a contender." But seriously, could they? The dichotomy (Ian shows off his Guardian reader vocabulary there,) of British sport is that while we want our champions to win we do not want them to be winners. Thus is the British hope condemned forever to be the jolly nice chap or chapess who is nearly great. This is why Tiger Tim never quite made it of course, (apart from being saddled with a nickname taken from an under-5s comic character) he is just to well brought up. You can imagine him, when his opponent slams a second serve into the net to go three match points down, saying "oh jolly hard luck old chap," instead of suggesting that the opponent will soon eat excrement. British players might say an umpire's decision is rather harsh but would never suggest the official has an unnatural relationship with his mother.
English Tennis is about strawberries and cream, cucumber sandwiches and being a good loser.
Now who could imagine John MacEnroe eating cucumber sandwiches? YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! Johnny Mac was who he was because he ate steaks, raw steaks still attached to the carcass of a bull that had not yet been slaughtered. Do you hear what I am saying?
Winners are red in tooth and claw and if we ever want the annual slaughter of our innocents to cease we must find or make winners. Here is my five point plan.
(1) Identify promising youngsters at junior school level.
(2) Take them away from their parents in Surrey or Hampshire and send them to live with the Gallaghers from Shameless on a sink estate in Manchester until they are sixteen.
(3) If they survive to sixteen give them jobs as trainees in a Gordon Ramsey kitchen.
(4) After two years of that introduce them to the world of professional sport by appointing Mike Tyson as their personal fitness instructor.
(5) Once they are fit, find the school bully who made their young life hell, put him / her in an enclosed tennis court, equip the future champion with a tennis racquet and immunity from prosecution. If the bully is dead within five minutes or alternatively survives more than two hours of extreme pain and humiliation, hire the best tennis coach in the world and commence lessons.

Tim Henman
John McEnroe
Andrew Castle, presenter on TVAM and Former Future Wimbledon Champion
Annabel Croft, Celebrity Wrestling victor and Former Future Wimbledon Champion
Annabel's wrestling career
Shameless - Channel 4 comedy drama

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Some American academics are concerned about the number of British slang words and colloquialisms that are finding their way into the pure and beautiful American language after being picked up from TV shows and films. One particular individual who shall be nameless because he is probably the type of small minded, humourless bastard who would sue, is getting his knickers in a right old twist and throwing hissy fits about it every chance he gets. And what are these colloquialisms he finds so irritatingly un-American? Well his favourites are "gone missing" and "at the end of the day."

When I read this I was like "No Way! That is just so not true. British street slang, gone missing? As if? And it isn't like we are not hearing Americanisms 24/7 is it.

The good professor feels that "gone missing" is a typical example of sloppy British grammar and should never be used instead of that Fine, upright, stars-and-stripes-waving, silver-ring-thinging Americanism "gone astray."
It is a generalisation and very unfair to say that Americans do not get irony, but there is a certain class of American of whom that is true. The "aspirational middle class" not only do not do irony, they do not do humour at all. And so the effect of "gone missing" is lost on them. When something has gone missing it implies an act of will was involved. Things go astray in the mail, people go missing with the funds from the social club. Other than that, gone astray is no more American than Apple Pie (which is actually German, it was brought to Britain by the Saxons.) "Gone astray" is perfectly standard English grammar and to use it where "gone missing" is more appropriate it to condemn us all to that sterile and colourless version of English spoken by corporate managers, the style immortalised in that early Microsoft Grammar checker that would have had us change references to Dick Van Dyke into Penis van Lesbian.


The other phrase singled out for attention is "at the end of the day." Now I can't understand how this was noticed as BBC America does not screen Football Focus, nor even Soccer Focus. "At the end of the day" does not strike me as particularly British, in fact it has the idiom of those American management buzz words and phrases that began to creep into the language in the 1970s. You know, the ones that use ten words when one would do, "at this moment in time" instead of "now", "we have an ongoing situation" instead of "we're clueless," etc.

We are told however that it is mightily offensive to use "at the end of the day" instead of that modest and unpretentious phrase "in the end." Now when have you ever heard an American say "in the end" rather than "in the final analysis." American English loves wordiness, police officers say "I need for you to stand up" instead of just "stand up please," salesmen say "I have to meet with" rather than "I have to meet," blind to the sheer impossibility of meeting yourself.

Americans also have this tendency to overqualify, where we would go horse riding, an American goes horseback riding. What other part of a horse would you ride FFS (Guys who are into bestiality need not answer). optical aids, a British person would simply say, my vision is not what it used to be, I need to get some glasses, but an American would call them eyeglasses? What other kind of glasses would you get to help you read a book, a pair of shot glasses? Champagne glasses? Real estate? Who would buy fake estate?

At the end of the day of course, these are trivial matters but annoying because it is another example of America's habit of claiming everything as its own, for example, splitting the atom, inventing the computer, Catherine Zeta Jones, apple pie and now the English language.

With respect to our American friends here at Boggart Blog we think it is time we fought back. We should recruit bloggers around the world, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Pakistan and we should overwhelm American academic institutions with slang, patois, lingua franca and parliari.

American my khyber! They'll soon be on their twos and threes begging for mercy if we start to throw rhyming slang at them. After a few days the guy who started this bollocks will be as sick as a parrot if he comes near this gaff. This is a place where we celebrate English like what it is spoke.

I will start tomorrow if I can find a window in my diary.

Parliari (Polari) the underground slang - aka parliari - was orignially used by travellers and circus folk. Later it evolved into Polari, the slang of showbusiness people, prostitutes, drug users and homosexuals, people who might not want morally uptight individuals knowing what they were talking about.

If you are as irreverent as I am here is the Bible in polari
Online slang dictionary
Cockney Rhyming Slang
more rhyming slang
The dictionary of britspeak
The Greenteeth Labyrinth


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Thursday, June 09, 2005

God's Little Careers Consultants

In a week that has witnessed controversy in the UK after an advertisment for The Church Of England, showing somebody reciting The Lord's Prayer was banned from being shown in theatres where the new star Wars film is being shown by the movie's distributors, which prompted us to ask how would Christians feel if Jedi Knights invaded a church service and used The Force to make bibles and hymn books float around and gargoyles sing bawdy songs, it is perhaps time to revive this post:

Yoda Gets Christianity (Image source)

New guidelines issued by the Greek Orthodox Church bar former gynaecologists, lawyers, actors and magicians from ordination as priests. The detailed list sets out acceptable jobs for candidate clerics, including former carpenters, teachers, nurses, politicians and former officers in the police and military. Other considered unacceptable include tavern owners, money lenders and astrologers. Alas we could not discover whether nail technicians are excluded or not.

Now I can see the logic in wanting former carpenters after all there is a connection, but there seem to be a few anomolies here. Why politicians and not actors, surely there is little difference in the two trades. Actors spend all their time pretending to be someone they are not and politicians spend theirs pretending to be something they are not. Neither can I see why teachers will be accepted but not tavern owners. Most of us learn far more in the pub than we ever did at school. And why are astrologers not welcome, to go from astrologer (or Jedi Knight) to priest simply involves swapping one kind of unreality for another.

Magicians too seem to be very well qualified. "I want to to put this biscuit in your mouth and then take a little sip of wine as I say Abracadabra, and it will turn into the flesh and blood of the Messiah. Just like that. Lawyers too are ideal.

"I put it to you that on the third of May Mrs Papadopoulos and yourself went to the Corinthian motel and indulged in various lewd acts. Do not deny it Mr. Leandros, there are witnesses. You were seen by the hotel receptionist, the chambermaid and God.

Gynaecologists however is understandable. Who could know better that what most men think is heaven can look pretty unattractive in some circumstances.

Greek Orthodox Church
More info
Jonathan Cainer - astrologer
Pub Quiz website

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Children From Hell

Children are like farts, your own aren't so bad but anyone else's are horrible." How many times has that been said by people in my age group I wonder.

The Bash Street Kids (image source)

Having reached the brink of old-githood I can now look forward to being able to say "I love children, but only if they are served with Hollandaise sauce." A quip from comedian W.C. Fields of course, the comedian who claimed he had developed a look that could kill a child at 50 paces. Some readers may still be looking forward to spawning your own sprogs and playing happy families for a decade or so. Be warned, the sentimentalisation of children is just a cynical plot devised by the ruling elite to make us all abandon our carefree early adult years and conform. Trust me on this, the time between the two year old deciding that Mr. Ploppy likes to sit in the sugar bowl and the adolescent falling victim to hormone fuelled mood swings is of only a few days duration. Or so it seems for children eat time as they eat everything they can get their hands on (including Mr. Ploppy if they are young enough.)

The ruling elite easily dismiss fears about parenthood. Well they would, being able to afford nannies they need not see their disgusting offspring from immediately after the christening or naming ceremony to the insufferably trendy, until its is time to say "goodbye darling, we have enrolled you in an excellent school." Being able to delegate parental responsibility to the hired help until well after that awkward period when hair starts to sprout in funny places and body piercings start to sprout in the funny places where hair does not grow masks most of the horrors and actually lends parents a certain social cachet.

The incurably sentimental will by now be thinking "how can he be so heartless, children are a gift from God." Can people not see, children are from Hell.

I have always felt that somewhere along the line religion got it horribly wrong. If we accept the standard definition of God then He gave us mortality, guilt, war, disease, religion, the missionary position, Britney effing Spears, piles and children. On the other hand the Devil's works include recreational sex, recreational drugs, recreation, sex, Pamela Anderson, over indulgence and contraceptives. It’s a no brainer isn't it? Just as the world's most religious country keeps electing the wrong President the people who invented religion elected the wrong God. If the other guy had got in women would have deposited a tiny egg in a flower, cocooned it in silk and got on with their lives. Twenty one years later a fully formed adult would have emerged and taken its place in society without ever once having demanded Turkey Twizzlers, an iPod, a hoodie, expensive trainers or vast sums of money.

My anti - child stance can be traced back to the time when old fashioned bringing - up - kids, a process of trial and error that most of us seemed to negotiate without having to resort to nailing the little brats feet to the floor, suddenly morphed into parenting, a skill that had to be learned at great expense from people with degrees in childcare or worse still from self - help books written by Californian fuckwits or worthy but boring British ladies who take themselves far too seriously. Nowadays the parenting industry has grown to such an extent there are even TV shows dedicated to making struggling parents feel inadequate. In these shows Professional Nannies who bear a more than passing resemblance to Bette Davis, Rebecca de Mornay or Glenn Close knock into shape both children and parents by acting like a drill sergeant in the Paratroop regiment. The message is of course you will fail unless you SPEND SPEND SPEND.

So far neither of my offspring have shown the least inclination to make us Grandparents which is good as neither of us fancies smelling of urine, breaking out in hairy warts all over our faces or wearing cardigans. As people live longer and retain youthful attitudes into their seventies cloning starts to seem like a good option.

Copyright © 2005, Ian Thorpe

TV show Nanny 911-In the UK
and in the USA
Bette Davis in The Nanny
Review of the film


Accept Everything, Question Nothing
A chilling poll published in the US has revealed that 40% of those born in the 21st century – the so-called ‘Millennials’ – believe government should be able to limit speech regarded as offensive to minorities. The older the generation, the more opposed to outlawing aspects of free speech. The 35-50 ‘Gen X’ group approval of such a move was 27%; for the Baby Boomers (51-69), approval dropped to 24%, whilst the oldest age group asked (70-80) registered just 12% approval.

Childhood drinking puts us on a slippery slope

Children and the government

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