THIS ISLAND LIFE EVERY now and then, a combination of television, politics and rank stupidity produces a moment so divine it makes you want to hug the set and kiss the screen in slobbering gratitude.
It happened last week with a clip of Tony Abbott, the Liberal candidate for the Australian premiership, addressing his own party, in which he uttered the immortal words: 'No-one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom.’
I’m delighted to report he was immediately assailed by cyber messages emphasising how important it was for politicians to know their enema.
As examples of television bliss go, it reminded me of an equally glorious moment on 3-2-1 about 30 years back, which almost managed to put my record-breaking appearance on The Chase to shame.
I was writing a column of TV criticism at the time and blessings such as this were gratefully received.
The show’s host, Ted Rogers, was required to ask two husband-and-wife teams to identify a well-known figure from the past.
He said: 'This is a composer, German by birth, English by adoption, best known for an oratorio published in 1741. It was called The Messiah.’
One of the women buzzed in immediately: "Oh God", she said, her face a mask of agonising but frustrated enlightenment. "I know this. We did it at school. He wrote Handel’s Water Music as well."
At this point, beads of perspiration began to form on Mr Rogers’s heavily-plastered forehead and his eyes flickered from side to side as he produced one of those vacuous, bladder-busting, panic-stricken grins which tend to form on the faces of a Ken Dodd audience about four-and-a-half hours in.
'So who’s the composer?’
he asked, and began nodding frantically, like a toy dog in the
back window of a Ford Escort travelling along the cart-track commonly known as Shanklin High Street.
'Chopin?’ said the woman.
By now the sweat droplets had begun to cascade down his face as he turned in desperation to the other couple: "I can offer it to you."
The male half nibbled his bottom lip and pondered his response as Rogers’s sweat began to make splashing noises on the studio floor.
"Beethoven?" came the memorable reply.
Island radio has always been a fertile hunting ground for gaffes and, some years ago, I recall a well-known resident (whose name I shall not reveal to spare his blushes) being asked if he supported vivisection.
"Well," he replied, "I wouldn’t have it done myself because you never know when you are going to want more children."
Malapropisms and other mangled examples of the mother tongue tend to abound at local authority meetings and the old IW Rural District Council was a particularly fruitful source during my days as a local reporter.
One member accused county council officials of leaving them "suspendering" over a planning decision, which the assembled hacks deduced was either a neat hybrid of "wondering" and "in suspense," or a Freudian reference to some odd goings-on in the bedroom department.
Another once announced himself "undisgruntled" with the outcome of a spending decision, to which a helpful colleague (a retired teacher, of course) slyly replied: "I think you’ll find that’s a double negative. You must, therefore, mean you are gruntled."
'Thoroughly!’ came the snorting response, as the council clerk bowed his head and sighed heavily.
Nowadays, the Oxford English Dictionary has given up the battle to counter ignorance and decided to accommodate it instead.
It does so by including previously non-existent words such as "flammable", on the grounds of public safety.
Apparently, so many people thought the actual word for combustible — inflammable — meant precisely the opposite, they were genuinely fearful of half the people in the country setting fire to themselves by mistake.
But this is a slippery path because, in the street slang of today, kids use words such as "wicked" and "sick" as a compliment.
At this rate it won’t be long before the contents of the revered OED become an increasingly ambiguous mish-mash.
Mystery match between IW and Germans
The poster of a football match between a team from Saunders Roe and a German side.
WHEN you see the factional, boorish state into which football at all levels has descended in recent years, it is difficult to believe the sport was once used as a force for hope and reconciliation.
On Christmas Day, 1914, for example, German and British troops clambered out of their trenches and ventured into no-man’s land to play football against each other as part of a unique seasonal truce, before normal hostilities were resumed the following day.
I have recently been sent this poster, which suggests something similar may have happened soon after the end of the last war.
It is thought to refer to a match between a German side and a team from Saunders-Roe, which was then based at East Cowes.
Little else is known about this fixture and I’d be delighted to hear from anyone able to shed more light on this intriguing encounter.