Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Edward Wheatley of Norfolk

Edward Wheatley of Norfolk, wherever you are, I salute you for your hilarious parody of antiquated and anachronistic attitudes in your letter to the Sunday Times of 9th July, 2006! It perfectly captures the sort of thing you might have expected a Daily Mail reader to have written twenty years ago. Ha! Oh, hold on a minute. You weren't being serious, were you?

"The problem with Saxondale (BBC2) is that it is simply not funny. But, of course, it's not meant to be. Like so much comedy, its purpose is not to amuse a mass audience but to impress the writers' friends, demonstrate their "right-on" credentials to students and win prizes from gullible judges. How much better it would be had these writers and their target audience done national service rather than gone to university."
- Edward Wheatley, Norfolk

Yes, because national service clearly did you the world of good, didn't it? Quite honestly, I think that anybody who can possibly suggest that the best strategy for sorting out the world's ills is to put guns in the hands of the younger generation and train them to think like sheep and shoot Johnny Foreigner is clearly pathological and should be locked up for everybody's sake.

That said, I often think of the inverted "Assylum" in So Long And Thanks For All The Fish. The number of toothpick-like triggers out there is accumulating exponentially on a daily basis (if this last part means nothing to you then your life is impoverished but you can fix it immediately: go out and read the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy collection - now).


  1. So help me out a bit here. Of course I've read Adams but the toothpicks are drawing a blank from the exhaustive collection of blanks in my memory and i have no time to reread him this morning.

  2. Come to think of it, "Edward Wheatley" strikes one as the perfect name for the author of this brand of generic white bread crankishness. I think from now on when I feel the urge to write something curmudgeonly old fashioned and stupid I'll sign it Edward Wheatly. Sort of the Alan Smithee of the letters page.

  3. Lol... Yes, he does have the perfect name, although I half-expected it to be signed off "Major, Mrs" at the end, too, as in a famous Monty Python sketch where Terry Jones (I think) is writing to the BBC to complain about their disgusting programmes.

    As for the toothpicks: in So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Arthur Dent and Fenchurch come across a man who calls himself Wonko the Sane. He has an inside-out house, if I recall correctly, which he explains as being because the inside of his house is actually "outside" the assylum, which is the rest of the world. He decided to relegate the rest of the world to an assylum after coming across a pack of toothpicks with instructions on it; a planet in which people needed instructions on how to use toothpicks was just the last straw for him.

    It doesn't seem as though many packaging manufacturers ever read the book, though. I am always reminded of it when I come across a packet of peanuts labelled, "Warning: may contain nut products", coffee labelled, "Warning: hot drink", or butter labelled, "Warning: contains dairy products"...

  4. I remember seeing a pot of Peanut Butter in the US - I forget the brand - that was labelled "may contain nuts" and wondering if this was because the contents were some glop concocted by the flavouring industry or because someone actually knew that peanuts are not in fact nuts. Either way the stuff was inedible.

    Thanks for the toothpick explanation - I'm actually pleased that it doesn't ring even the tiniest bell in me because that means it's time to reread hitchhiker. Joy.

    And BTW I'm excited by Scrivener's direction: you seem to be on the path that I have been hoping for years that apps like DTPro would follow.

    Keep up the good work.


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