In praise of Divers Englishmen

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.

Typical specimens:

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. 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.

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10 Comments

  1. August 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Lovely post, Jenny. I tend to ramble and use it as a sort of intermittent diary. I’m pretty sure mine isn’t the marketing tool Accent Press hoped it would be!

    Lesley x

  2. August 20, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Good post – original too. Most of us witter on about our gardens or trips to Spain.

  3. Anita Burgh said,

    August 20, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Jenny, loved every ‘morsal’ of it. I know this species well.
    It’s different, original. Good blog.
    Where’s your stats counter – they are fascinating widgets.
    Annie.

  4. Jenny Haddon said,

    August 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Lesley, Susie, Annie, thank you for your encouragement. I can see that I’m at the bottom of a very steep learning curve. Steep? Huh. Vertical, more like.
    Jenny

  5. Jane Henry said,

    August 20, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Hello Jenny, this is Jules btw using my blogging pseudonym. Welcome to blogging. I don’t think you should stress too much about what you say, as Susie says lots of us blog about all sorts of random stuff. People seem to read my witterings so I’m sure they’ll read your far more erudite ones! Loved this post. Was it Blofeld who came out with the classic: The batsman’s Holding, the bowler’s Willey? or was that Brian Johnson? Another Frivol methinks…

  6. Susan Alison said,

    August 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Great Morsel, Jenny! I shall favorite you (yeah – another one of ‘those’ verbs) and maybe we could do the link thing.

    Susan

  7. Jenny Haddon said,

    August 20, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Jules, thanks for the advice. Definitely think that Jonners was the Frivol of Frivols. A Great Man.

    Susan, thank you, v. happy to try the link thing – but it’s quite a way further up the mountain yet, I think. Am still utterly befogged by tags. Still, man is a problem solving animal . . .

  8. Jan Jones said,

    August 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Fabulous first post, Jenny! I shall link to you forthwith (or something)

  9. Bex said,

    August 28, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Love it, Jenny. Keep it up. I’m not a blogger, but I could become addicted.

    All love

    Bex

  10. August 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    You made my morning, Jenny! Long may you blog!


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