Friday, December 10, 2004

That's Not A Gun In My Pocket

Behind all the populist ranting about giving people more power to tackle burglars, there is almost complete agreement that the present law does allow people to use reasonable force to defend themselves. But, say Blair and others, people don't seem to understand this so we may need to change the law.
It seems an extraordinary principle that you have to start changing the law simply because people don't understand the existing one. People probably have only a superficial understanding of most of the laws in this country, except the most simple and straightforward ones. Surely it would be easier, in the case of burglary, to broadcast a few public information films or send each household a leaflet - a lot more useful than that silly booklet we had about stocking up with baked beans in case of a terrorist attack.
Few things were more depressing than the millions of people who thought Tony Martin was right to shoot in the back and kill a 16 year old boy who was escaping through a window. Must be that good old British decency I was writing about yesterday.
We're being told that in America, where everyone sleeps with a gun under their pillow, burglary is unknown. I find that rather hard to believe, given the general levels of criminality in America. But apparently it's quite common in America for family members to be shot because they've returned home late and forgotten their keys. 'Shoot first and ask questions later' is never a good policy unless your life is under direct threat.
I can speak from experience on this subject. Some years ago a man came to my house not in order to burgle but, as he plainly told me, in order to kill me. I had no reason to doubt him and had to work on the assumption he was armed. If I'd had a gun, I would have had a prima facie case for shooting him and most people would have thought that reasonable. Many people afterwards told me they would definitely have shot him, which surprised me because I didn't realise I knew so many people who owned guns - but actually I don't think they wanted to let the small detail of not owning a weapon to get in the way of their fantasy of themselves as Clint Eastwood.
But it turned out that this young man was not armed, had no real intention of harming me, had a severe psychiatric disorder and was out of his skull on drugs at the time. If I had shot him I would have had to live with the knowledge that I had killed someone whose only crime was to be mentally ill and who had possibly been let down by the various health and social service support structures in this country.



In an item on 8th December we referred to Mary and Joseph in school nativity plays wearing tea towels on their heads. It has been brought to our attention that it is only members of the supporting cast - shepherds, stableboys and Mother Theresa impersonators - who wear such headgear and not Mary and Joseph. We were misled by what we took to be a blue tea towel on Mrs Beckham's head in the Tussaud's tableau. We now accept that this is probably a designer-label pashmina which would have been the fashion accessory of choice for pregnant virgins in Bethlehem.

In an episode of The Adventures of Carlo on 5th December, we mis-spelt the name of the singer Harry Nilsson as Neilson. The Harry Nilsson Appreciation Society (Tooting Branch) complained to OFBLOG that this suggested a connection between the singer and the mass murderer Dennis Neilson.
The blog editor claimed that:
a) the context was a joke about a misunderstanding between the two names
b) Harry Nilsson released an album called 'A Little Touch Of Schmillson' so had a relaxed approach to interference with his name
c) Neilson and Nilsson are both silly foreign names and probably have a common etymology
OFBLOG has rejected the complaint on the grounds that no reasonable person would infer a familial connection between the two men although both are notorious for their criminal records. OFBLOG noted that the weakness of the joke was more offensive than the subject of the complaint but that this was outside its terms of reference.
OFBLOG has also considered a complaint about the levels of product placement in this blog. OFBLOG is satisfied that the blog owner has received no monetary payment nor any payment in kind, or as his submission stated "not so much as a fucking pot noodle". Because of the absence of payment, no guidelines have been breached and the current level of product placement is likely to be reduced.
You can obtain a full copy of these adjudications by emailing a stamped addressed envelope to

I received an email from Sandy Mannington-Preen. He replied to my query about Carlo's breakfast outburst with a silly crossword clue in Latin, which I won't bore you with, but the phrase meant 'son of a bitch', which is pretty mild as Tagalog cursing goes.
I'd also asked him about sumibak ka na lang ng kalabasa which Carlo used to shout at Ant and Dec. Sandy said it meant 'Go fuck a pumpkin' and reminded him of an incident at the Embassy Halloween party this year. He said it was recorded in his blog - 'Manila Vanilla' - on the 1st November.
Indeed it was. I hope MI6 never crack the password to Sandy's blog. I'm not easily shocked but the pumpkin story was a case of 'too much information', to use the expression de nos jours. If the FO johnnies were to read it the least he could expect is a transfer to Baghdad.

But the most surprising news from Sandy is that he is taking some leave before Christmas and intends to spend a few days with us at Lupin Towers. How typical of a Harrow boy not to ask if we would be happy to accommodate him but to simply announce the fact and expect us to start Dysoning the red carpet.
(Is Dyson a verb yet? The word 'Hoover', whether as noun or verb, never passed my late mother's lips; she continued to call it a 'carpet sweeper' until her dying day).
Carlo is, of course, very excited and already making preparations for the 'Boss Man's' visit. Funny that. He never calls me 'Boss Man'. 'Son of a bitch' and occasionally 'fucking bastard', but then I suppose I don't have Sandy's Victorian belief that he was born to rule most of the planet. And I never allowed Carlo to continue his feats of rhubarb growing that so delighted the crumble-loving Sandy in Manila.
Carlo is planning a feast of Filipino cuisine to make Sandy feel at home. But, as Sandy said in his email, what he's really looking forward to is some toad-in-the-hole and a couple of drinks in the Rod and Mullet. Just a couple of drinks would certainly be a first for Sandy. Just as well we have a new landlord at the pub. After Sandy's last visit the previous landlord told me: "No disrespect, Mr Lupin, but if that pompous prick hadn't been a friend of yours he'd have been out on his arse."
My father had said something remarkably similar about Sandy after my birthday party in 1959.

When we come back: Carlo and Lee go clubbing


At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Afraid you’re not out of the woods yet, Willie – you’re misspelling Dennis Nilsen’s name, thereby (it could be said) encouraging your readers to confuse him with another serial killer, Donald ‘The Black Panther’ Neilson. You should tread with care, as Dennis is a litigious soul…


At 9:51 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

I did check the spelling but unfortunately half the sites on Google spell it Neilson. But as his biographer spells it Nilson, you must be right. I knew a corrections column was a bad idea.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely it should be 'vacuuming', as a 'carpet sweeper' would have been a mechanical, rather than electric sweeper (e.g. a 'Ewbank').

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Yes, 'vacuuming' is certainly the unbranded verb though used less frequently than 'hoovering' I think. I wonder if people used to say 'ewbanking'.


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