Cheer up, squirrels seem
happy enough, don't they. The more effective the police state, the happier
the deluded public...
Just now, the
London summer, bluebells in every ragged corner, the air still free and unmetered, thick with the scent of pink hawthorns, has brought out all
the lovely young mums. Milk-fresh
and almost naked in deadly accurate frocks or sweet Edwardian in patchwork
dresses ankle-length, they gather like butterflies in the supermarket.
"Don't go away, Dickie lamb. Did I tell you what he did yesterday with Sooty, bless him?
I want to reach that top jar. Tell me if I'm alright at the back. Have you
tried these? They're ever so expensive. I hide them. Well, he
smokes! Anyway, bless him, and you should have seen his little face, it
was a scream - where is he? Dickie lamb!
You bugger! Get your dirty thieving hands out of that you
monster! Take that! That! That! Now look where he's fallen! Serves
you right! You stay there and freeze to death! Just like his father. I
told the doctor when I first clapped eyes on him.
His eyes are too close. Yes, so Sooty had fallen down, you see..."
That sinister trapped relationship known as the Christian Family will have
benefited last week from the seminar and addresses from the enlightened at
Steiner Hall, NW1: "Child, his origins, rights and needs". In the chair,
mother's friend, Viscount Barrington. Meanwhile Dickie lamb paws through Rupert Brooke for a bouquet for next Mother's day.
"With snuffle and sniff and handkerchief,
The folk who loved you not,
Will bury you and go wondering
Back home. And you will
Another reason for reading the New Statesman, besides those hilarious
classified ads, is its clear bold print. You can sit in Pizzaland without
your reading glasses, looking knowledgeable and not dropping to bits yet.
if you're a writer people assume you know nothing about real life; I mean
even if you write about it. Nice then to find a waitress at the
Bell and Crown whose daughter wants to be an engineer. What luck,
I'm an engineer. Not
every girl at St Albans High is going to know that the phon is the unit of
sound, not the decibel. Me talking.
"Though Sandra's going to be an artist," said Joyce.
Never mind artists. Let's stick to the stuff that thrilled us at
Marconi's. Decibels are a convenient visual relative-ratio against a
pre-determined reference zero; such as, for instance, the normal
threshold of hearing.
"Will you excuse me? I've got Eric Morecambe
in the next room..."
Pity about that; I had serious complaints about name dropping in this column.
Now I'm getting about again, being brave about old Maggie bistros, I'm bound to bump into people. Still, Wheathampstead,
heart of the country, you'd think you were safe. Nick's cooking is good
but it's not the Inn On The Town. My only previous meeting with Eric and
his wife was in a dressing room at the Ed Sullivan theatre on Broadway in
"Got you, don't tell
me, you were the taxi driver," he said, when I'd forced
myself on them to impress
Ellie. "You shouldn't have come all this way. Let me freshen up that IOU."
Do a job abroad and it's not taxable, said one of the Sundays last week.
Come back and write a report about it and it's taxable. Now hang on to
that a minute. Write two film scripts abroad, finish them, get paid, spend
the money and come back - check? That seven and a half thousand pound writ
is an invention based on that untaxable golden year.
"Try a more light-hearted approach," Virginia advised.
Great Scott! It makes all the difference.
"To whom are you
singing?" asked Robert, bringing his bicycle through the hall at the wrong
moment. "You bet it's a girl," said Niloufer.
Who would suppose those scribbled initials on all those rotten letters
from Inveresk House belonged to a warm, friendly, attractive (almost
certainly) young lady, part French and interested in freedom songs. We got rid of the prison bit quite quickly (she doesn't
know if I've got to go or not) and then she suggested I write a song about
not being able to park your car anywhere. I still don't know what they are
going to do but I feel better already. If this column
goes to prison it'll be far more satisfying - as a writer and social
agitator - to know it's illegal.
As a kid in the thirties we played an asthmatic, infectiously funny record
called The Laughing Policeman. I've only just worked out what he was laughing at. It's us,
stupid. For instance, who wants salmon
at £2 a pound when you can get cod at the price trout was last year? Huh?
Stop thinking, Lefty, and read your morning comic. What we do is send in
the gunboats to rob the Icelanders and give the profits to the big fish -
not you, Lefty, you can't afford fish, sit down.
In "Little Dog's Day" I made Iceland happy valley (which it is, according
to friends and relatives in
The British freelings have some difficulty in escaping there because our
Government, with National Health free-issue drugs, has put them on all fours. Now read on:
Now, looking back down the hill, T H Mapplehampton-White
saw others in the same predicament; people were running on all fours like
animals. Bundles and babies were being strewn about for it was difficult
to hold anything. The Major called Ralph now organised something else
according to his instructions. He was again speaking to Jimmy - they had
come through their training together.
"Round up a good virile pair," he said. "That chap with the trumpet would
be splendid. And some really sexy girl. We've got to get a picture of them
coupling like dogs. Its for the Min of Inf - foreign consumption I expect. Well, you know, the public has to see that they've
reverted and foreigners want reminding sometimes."
"Okay, sir - Ralph."
"Nothing orgiastic, eh?"
"Good lor, no."
"Nobody else in shot.
make it a rather intimate animal study - I mean try to give it some
They saluted and both went trotting in opposite directions, elbows tucked
in. This was their war; it had taken the place of international wars.
Biological threats between powers were projected in the way those powers'
freelings were subjugated. Step out of line and this could happen to you.
It was world peace maintained by the threat of home-grown horrors. In the
United States, for instance, the freelings were all pink, though the
significance of this was now largely lost and forgotten. In the expensive,
big-scale experiment going on this
morning it was hoped to produce a race of freelings who could not
hold weapons, type, use a pen, drive or give salutes of allegiance. Could
not in fact do anything
much more than squirrels do...
Cheer up, squirrels seem happy enough, don't they? The
more effective the police
state, the happier the deluded public. Hugo Young in the Sunday Times last
week warned that Orwell's slave society of "1984" will be with us on April
1, 1974 with the activating of the Local Government Act integrating with
the Water Bill and the National Health Reorganisation Bill, now slipping
unobtrusively through Parliament. After that kids who get the vote at
eighteen may as well forget it - such centralised government is
insensitive to public will - and start hoarding their nuts.
"You're terribly funny, Jack," Virginia said (she is my oldest
communicating reader), "but don't you ever want to write something, well, you know,
Good lor, no. I feel I'm really cut out for this Saturday
little light relief stuff. Now, altogether, a big, phlegmy, Norman Wisdom, Laughing Policeman inhale, and:
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, hee hee hee hee hee, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, hee hee
hee hee hee, Oh, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha and hee hee hee hee hee...
(The Guardian, Saturday 26 May, 1973)