Saturday, December 11, 2004

Things I've Learned This Week.......

............all animals have the same lifespan if measured by the number of heartbeats rather than years - approximately one and a half billion heartbeats.
In case you can't be bothered to work it out, it's because the hearts of small animals with a short life in years beat at a much faster rate than those of large animals.
Quick, pass my beta-blockers.

............if readers of my age wonder why the name Wally Stott is familiar, here's a clue:
a tuba going Da da da da, da da....have you got it yet...........followed by a breathless H..h..h..h...
Yes, he wrote one of the most famous signature tunes in radio and TV history, for Hancock's Half Hour.
I discovered this week that the composer formerly known as Wally Stott is now Angela Morley and she is living happily in Arizona.
Tony Hancock dreamed of being the world's greatest comedy actor and, believing this had eluded him, committed suicide. Wally Stott's dream was, one might think, even more unrealisable, especially in the 1950s, yet eventually came true.

.............the playwright Terence Rattigan employed highly eccentric and sometimes rather camp butlers and other domestic servants.
Grande dames of the English theatre like Margaret Leighton and Edith Evans invited to dinner would find a volley of brussels sprouts and potatoes being hurled over their shoulders in the general direction of their plates followed by the comment "Munch it up, dear, you're all skin and bone."
Talking of butlers, one of the few I've encountered was the one who opened the door at the house of Robert Stigwood, the impressario. "Will you be staying, Sir?" he said to me. I didn't know this was butler-speak for 'Do you want to leave your coat?' and I replied "Only if I get lucky." Not even Jeeves himself could have given me a more withering and icy look.



Yesterday we printed a correction about calling Harry Nilsson 'Neilson', the name of the serial killer. We are now advised that the serial killer's surname is in fact 'Nilson'. Wish you'd told us before, Rex, because the original 'joke' would have worked much better. Once again we had made the stupid mistake of checking the name on Google, forgetting that there are always 10,000 websites that spell people's names incorrectly.
Rex also warns me that Dennis Nilson is very litigious. It's bad enough that I occasionally went in the pub where he selected his victims but the thought that he might be reading my blog is rather chilling. But I can't quite understand how one of the biggest mass murderers in British history could sue me for confusing his name with that of another less ambitious killer called Donald Neilson. I'll put my legal team on standby just in case.

With Lee earning money again he decided to take Carlo to a nightclub or discothèque, or whatever thay call those places, in the neighbouring town. I wasn't very happy about this. One hears so much about binge drinking, drugs and street fights these days. More importantly, Carlo was so busy choosing the right shirt and jeans that he only had time to cook me a hastily prepared Haddock Monte Carlo, the egg over-poached and rubbery.
Lee arrived at 8pm, saying that if they went before 9.30 with the flyers he had obtained they would get free admission, thus having enough money left to get totally rat-arsed. This infelicitous phrase reminded me of something in the paper this week about humans and rats sharing 88% of their genes. Looking at Lee, this wasn't difficult to believe.
Lee then made some sarcastic remarks about Carlo having ironed his jeans to within an inch of their life and called him a big girl's blouse. Before I could point out that Lee's jeans had clearly never been within spitting distance of a steam iron and seemed to be several sizes too big, his mobile phone rang. "Shit, not again!" we heard him saying.
Lee told us his younger brother had set fire to the Pupil Referral Unit and the police needed a 'responsible adult' to come and collect him.
"That lets you out then" I said.
Unfortunately it didn't. Lee said Carlo would have to make his own way to town and meet him in the club, throwing a multi-coloured flyer on to the table.
"Hang on, this is a flyer for the garage", I said.
"Nice one, bruv!", Lee replied "it's Garage night at the club on kill me, man.....catch you later."
I was left to ruminate on the strange idea that the nightclub held a social evening for local car mechanics but perhaps old Arthur and his wife Sheila would be there and could keep an eye on Carlo. I resolved to drive Carlo to town myself. I might even stop for a quick Dry Martini before returning home for Newsnight.

Coming up: I am humiliated by Bruno the Bouncer


At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the risk of choking to death on my own pedantry, you’re still not quite on target: the name’s Nilsen, not Nilson.

My warning about his litigious tendencies was meant as a joke, though I think he does dislike being lumped together with other serial killers (he’s been rather disparaging about the Yorkshire Ripper, for example) and reportedly he did bring a successful action against the Prison Service, claiming that their refusal to allow him access to hardcore gay pornography was a breach of his human rights. And I’ve always suspected he was the convict who called in the lawyers and got Lord Longford’s prison diaries withdrawn from sale. Also (though one never trusts the press, etc.) wasn’t there an episode a few years back when he tried to appeal against his conviction on the basis that his confessions were untrue (leaving aside the little matter of the extensive physical evidence)? Hardly less reasonable than suing Central Southern England’s most venerated blogger for misspelling his name, I’d have thought.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Oh good. Now I can run the corrections column again. Don't apologise for pedantry but be careful when using the word or your house will be fire-bombed by News of The World readers.
If venerated is the same as venerable does that put me on a par with the Venerable Bede? He was also in his fifties when he wrote his famous historical blog although he was more scrupulous about checking his facts.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger peter said...

When checking name-spelling, go for the Google with the most references. Google is so important it quite overrules old media such as birth certificates, aged mothers' memories, etc.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

The problem, Peter, with Mr Nilsen is that even seemingly authoritative sites on Google mis-spell his name. So I think the best thing with people who have had a biography written is to look on Amazon and assume that their biographer would get their name right.

At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I understand it, these days the Venerable Bede spends all his time flat on his back in Durham Cathedral. Whether you are on a par with him, who can say?

One point about Nilsen’s biographer, Brian Masters, which I have never heard properly spelt out as it deserves to be, is that he has been a close friend of the two most famous homosexual ex-policemen in British history, Nilsen and Gilbert Harding. This may not seem very important, but it is more than some of us can boast.

Apologies for the delay in submitting this comment. I’ve been having an out-of-body experience, or an off-of-face experience, or something of that kind.


At 6:04 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Hope you are reunited with your body and face. Always good to have your erudite comments.
I do spend a lot of time on my back - in silent homage to the Venerable Bede.
I knew both the Masters facts but had never made the connection. I believe one of Gilbert Harding's simple pleasures was to watch the young Masters taking a bath. Something similar happened in Dirk Bogarde's early life - not with Gilbert but with the father of the family he was evacuated to.


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