Rest In Nidd, Humph

He’s been introduced on stage with the words ‘Yes, he’s still alive…it’s Humphrey Lyttelton!’ for so long, it seems impossible that he now isn’t.

Forget cups of tea, kings and queens, fish and chips (or endless rain, endemic alcoholism, and teenage pregnancy): I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue is the true symbol of Britishness. When Gordon Brown suggested we needed a motto to rival France’s ‘liberte, egalite, fraternite’ he should have looked no further than the 30+ years of Radio 4’s antidote to panel games. Brains, Filth, Silliness: that’s Blighty. (I’d settle for ‘Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!’, though.)

I remember my glee when I first looked at a Tube map, and discovered Mornington Crescent actually exists. I can’t hear the word ‘punt’ without recalling Barry Cryer reducing a theatre to mirthful mush, without ever needing to reach the punchline. Thanks to Willie Rushton, in my mind Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’ will forever be sung to the tune of ‘A you’re Adorable’. And Humph’s own contributions – wearily deriding the panel, the audience, the games themselves – pricked the possible balloon of smuggery, on the comedy programme of fate.

I just hope that Samantha can cope all right without him. In her honour, some greatest hits: Girlfriend in a Coma to the tune of Tiptoe through the Tulips, and some of the gent himself from 2006.

book_mini Red: the Next Generation of American Writers, edited by Amy Goldwasser (hardback: essays). This is a peach of a dip-into book: a collection of essays on everything from terminal illness to fangirling Johnny Depp, from ‘a generation, perhaps the first, of writers’. It’s grand proof that all the blogging, social networking, texting and gossiping teenagers do instead of their homework has inherent value. They’re not just giving an insight into the familiar petty distractions of teenage angst (although they do that spectacularly); these are writers, showing off how much they already know about structure, pace, how to use wit or shock to manipulate the reader. And some of them are only 13. We old fart fictioneers had better watch our backs. (Incidentally, I don’t know of anything similar that exists in the UK. Anyone else? It’s quite a tempting idea, if not…)

pencil_mini I’m in the keyboard-hammering stage with Biscuits & Lies: one day it’s going swimmingly, the next I dream of throwing it all out of the window and starting again. A first draft needs to exist before I can edit it into something less humiliatingly terrible, but it’s still frustrating to know how much of my still-puny word count is delete-worthy guff. (Today is a ‘throw it out of the window’ day: can you tell?) I’ve finally pegged the key difference between the main characters in Big Woo and B&L, though: Big Woo‘s serafina is fixated on how messed up she is; B&L‘s heroine has absolutely no idea. Now, if only I could find a way to respond to the note I’ve got pinned up above the laptop: NEEDS MORE JOKES.

rocrastination_mini Breaking myself horribly through yoga; becoming obsessed with The Apprentice, even though the last three firings have made no sense whatsoever (Lucinda FTW!); watching Atonement (good enough to distract from La Knightley and her Amazing Performing Back, even: remarkable); watching There Will Be Blood (possibly good in theory: could not stand it); avoiding chocolate, with great sadness.

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12 thoughts on “Rest In Nidd, Humph

  1. Woe. In fact, Big Woe. (Sorry). Some part of my brain didn’t think he could possibly die, but would just go on forever.

    I had to look up ftw, only to discover it makes no sense when spelled out either, but is supposed to be something positive. Am now confused. Was Lucinda sackable? (Why am I asking – I have no idea who Lucinda is, but I’m curious as to what ftw means. Or was it a typo?)

  2. Big Woe indeed. I was listening to some on the iPod about twenty minutes before I found out, and feeling excited about new episodes. Life without Humph is just too rubbish to think about.

    FTW = for the win! As in ‘good and full of yay’. The cup of tea I just had was FTW. Though I was cheating and using it a bit more literally in Lucinda’s case (and also confusingly, apparently: oh sentence structure, how you fuddle me). Any woman who can wear a big pink-trimmed tam o’shanter with a straight face must be formidable in a business environment. Also, that cow Claire really hates her.

  3. I have absolutely no idea about the apprentice, nor indeed FTW, but I’m with you on mourning for Humph. Didn’t know he wasn’t alive till I read this. 😦 I love that programme. Clement Freud is my favourite on there. Also Who’s Line is it Anyway? was he on that sometimes?

    NEEDS MORE JOKES sounds like a good working title for my next book, lol. Actually, your post-it note should probably read NEEDS MORE CHOCOLATE? Or maybe NEEDS A WEEKEND WITH THE TALENTS! So why are you avoiding chocolate, what did the Mayans ever do to offend you? And are we really, actually, finally settled on a date for our shinding at Caro’s? If so, wh-hoo! For the win indeed. And here’s to Sarah’s latest nomination, FTW.

  4. Oh Josie, you horrify me! Clement Freud appears on ‘Just A Minute’, the far inferior Radio 4 show – which means you’re confusing Humph with Nicholas Parsons. Nil points to you.

    NEEDS MORE BRAINS is probably as appropriate. And NEEDS MORE TIME AAAARGH. (The choc-avoiding is down to DO NOT NEED MORE TUMMY.) But yes, looks like we have a date, yay!

    And Sarah FTW indeed.

  5. yes I was thinking of Just a Minute *grovels* but I had also heard of Humph and wouldn’t mix up Nicholas Parsons. Needs more time all the time. So will the choc-avoiding continue into the celebrations or will you take time off for us?

  6. I shall just about forgive you. 😛

    I wouldn’t dream of choc-avoiding for a Talents weekend. Or curry-ducking, wine-dodging or fry-up-disdain. See what fabulous traditions we’ve established!

  7. Hi Susie, I have custard creams btw…

    I can’t imagine ISIHGAC without Humph …like JAM without Nicolas Parsons. But somehow a replacement MUST be found. National Treasures like this must not be allowed to die out.

    I watched Atonement on the ludicrously deluxe ThompsonFly flight to Natal. It was on-demand on seat-back videos, I think I watched it 2.5 times. First part of the film very very good, second half a bit ponderous. And Atonement? I think not, Briony. Writing a nice ending to a made-up story doesn’t get you any points in my book…for what that bitch-child did to Ikea Knightley and lovely, lovely Cute Bloke whose name I forget.

  8. It’s possible Barry Cryer might move into the presenter’s chair – but then what of Hamish and Dougal?

    Ikea Knightley: hee! I liked the later half a lot, actually, and thought the ending worked brilliantly. (I don’t think it needs to work as ‘atoning’: the fact that it doesn’t is kind of what makes it work, that some things are too enormous to make up for, maybe? That was my take. We’ve ruined it for everyone now, oops.) The Handsome Man is James McAvoy, who is indeed lickable: Last King of Scotland, first series of Shameless, etc.

  9. I could definitely go for Kiera Knightly, with a bit more meat on her or I’d be afraid that my attentions would snap her in half. But then I don’t suppose that bothers her in the great scheme of things. Being thin is much more important than being acceptable to me! Went to Ikea the other day for a computer desk. ho hum.

    Looking forward to our weekend of fun. Have you seen the front page of the BBA http://www.branfordboaseaward.org.uk/home.html? Yay for Sarah and Beverley FTW!!

  10. I have Keira Knightley issues. Mainly involving that thing she does with her mouth.

    Yay Sarah! Am so thrilled for her: that’s a cracking shortlist and I have everything crossed for her. It’s making typing a right cow…

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