Thursday, 5 November 2009

Fantasy nailers

I think we all enjoy a good, well-deserved nailing. It's one of the joys of the blogiverse. A favourite nailer (but so much else, too) is Bunny Smedley: try this one. A thorough nailing judiciously tapped out by a masterful wordsmith (her art criticism is generally a wonder).

Whereas Bunny is an exponent of the forensic and elegant long-form nailing, Mr Eugenides does something quicker and dirtier. He specialises in the nailing as drive-by-shooting: pithy, judiciously expletive, and with a consistently accurate aim (today's incidental nailing of Roy Jenkins provides a fine example).

However, whilst we are surely blessed in having such as these to write for us, and having bemoaned our sad lack of an Auberon Waugh blog earlier today, I began to play fantasy nailers. That is, nailers who are no longer with us but who would have been brilliantly entertaining in the blog format. Kingsley Amis leapt to mind. Here are a couple of paragraphs from a favourite Kingers nailing:
[Tony] Benn I have run into only once, early in his career, when by a misunderstanding he arrived on my doorstep expected but not heralded by any name. The door was one of those with a glass panel affording a preview of the caller. At the first sight of the present arrival the thought flashed into my mind, 'Who is this English cunt?' The distinguishing adjective is important. There are Scottish cunts, there are even Welsh cunts, and God knows there are American cunts, but the one in question could have come from nowhere else but this green and pleasant land. Something about the set of the lips.
Other guests arrived at the same time and my silent question went unanswered for the moment. I offered drinks. Someone asked for a gin and tonic. I turned to the cunt. 'Same for you?' He reacted much as if I had said, 'Glass of baby's blood? It 's extra good today,' and somehow in that moment I knew him, recognised him from television. He settled for bitter lemon, 'with plenty of ice, ' he added firmly. (I once heard him say unequivocally, also on television, that his sole interest in life was and had always been politics, which to my mind should debar anybody from standing for Parliament. Even Ted Heath has his yacht and his choirs).

Amis was also that rare and admirable Englishman: a liker of the Welsh. No slave to convention, he.

Being on the receiving end of a nailing, however, can't be much fun. The sort of people whose pursuits make them a regular target for nailing must develop the toughest of hides. I wonder whether I can look forward to ever receiving a nailing? Would I bear up? Like many Welshes, primarily, and despite the injury, I would probably feel flattered just to have been noticed.

12 comments:

Brit said...

Dr Johnson is of course the greatest fantasy blogger.

Btw I had a crack at nailing Benn meself a while ago, though with considerably less Anglo-Saxon pithiness than Kingsley.

Gaw said...

Yes, pretty unassailable, Dr J. Pepys would be in the the top whatever. Given his love of newspapers, phone-in shows and staying at home, how about Peter Cook? The man might have met his medium.

Very clever re bobble-hat Benny. Amis also nails Enoch Powell in the same chapter with similar results. From the Memoirs, and very well worth a read.

Sophie King said...

Funny about Benn. John Biffen once told me that of all the people he sat with in the House of Commons, Benn was the only one he could imagine going on holiday with. Biffen was an extremely interesting and cultivated man so I'm more inclined to believe this version of him than the one presented by Amis who, let's face it, was a vituperative, drunken old fart.

Gaw said...

I met Biffen once at a wedding and he seemed to me to be an amiable cove, despite (because of?) how hated he was by parts of the left. But if you enjoy a bit of a booze up on hols I can't believe Benn would be much fun. I also can't see him relaxing into la dolce vita somehow. Isn't he essentially a puritan?

If you don't mind me saying so, Sophie, that was quite a nice bit of nailing you did at the end there.

Sophie King said...

Thank you, Gaw. From time to time I like to release my inner Waugh.

Bunny Smedley said...

Thanks, Gareth! That ranks as pretty high praise, coming as it does from someone who's made me laugh more than once today, contemplating the prospect of Andrew Marr trying to evoke Edward Carson in the voice of Gerry Adams, Terry Wogan or Graham Norton. You see, it's possible to spend quite a long time trying to decide which of these would be the worst. That's the sort of bunker-bomb grade, slow-acting nailing to which some of us can only aspire.

Fantasy nailer nomination: the Goncourt brothers or, more recently, the earlier James Lees-Milne, before his diaries become too full of the funerals of duchesses.

And finally, is it just me, or is Sophie's concept of 'releasing one's inner Waugh' downright inspiring? I'm off to do that right now ...

Gadjo Dilo said...

Peter Cook as blogger gets my vote. And Kinglsey Amis as writer of the Great 20th Century Welsh Novel (The Old Devils) surely had that nation nailed.

Brit said...

The Old Devils is indeed a corker - his finest, if you ask me. That and The King's English.

Nige said...

If Amis liked the Welsh, he had a funny way of showing it - see, e.g. That Uncertain Feeling passim...

Gaw said...

His Memoirs and the Leader bio support his having a soft spot. And the Old Devils is affectionately rude.

malty said...

Drinking in your tavern is becoming one of life's more interesting avenues Gaw the good Bunny's removal of the dentists disasters goolies, for no woman is Porter, is sublime. I wonder, could she impale AAGill in her spare time? not art related, I know, but one who has all of the necessary credentials.
Waugh was one of those characters that you either love or hate, one of my old partners would become apoplectic just at the mention of his name, when I suggested to her that was exactly his intention she became incandescent, when someone else suggested to her that this was exactly my intention she dug out the articles of incorporation.

The finest one line impaling was Clive James take on Albert Speer "Speer was a man who knew how many beans make five but was unsure how many made two"

Gaw said...

Thanks Malty, the pleasure is all mine. My wife doesn't seem to get AWaugh - I'm quite glad really as I think he'd only make her angry if she delved any deeper. CJames is simply a wonder.