It has just come to my attention that the Scots don’t like hedgehogs. Of all creatures, great and small, why hedgehogs? So I decided to do some research. I telephoned Professor MacPuke of the University of Glasgow, and the conversation went something like this:
‘Professor MacPuke, is it true the Scots don’t like hedgehogs?’
‘Dinnae like ‘em?’ he exclaimed, outraged. ‘Moore like cannae stand th’ wee buggers!’
Why?’ he spluttered. ‘Cause they dinnae share, that’s why!’
Well, at least now I know the reason. That’s what they call research, by the way. Not peer-reviewed, but research nevertheless.
Further south, in London, an interview was conducted with a man who’d cleaned the underground toilets at Piccadilly Circus for fifty years. Did you get that? Fifty years? Amazing!
‘Well, Mr Poopong, you must have seen quite a few changes in your time here.’
He sniffs disdainfully. ‘Bloody right, I ‘ave!’
‘And what would those changes be?’
He peers suspiciously at the reporter. Then he nods, and says, ‘Y’know, when I star’ed in this job, there was real gennulmen useta come dahn ‘ere an’ do their business an’ leave a tip, but then it star’ed ge’ing slowly worse, till all you ‘ad wus druggies comin’ dahn ’ere t’ inject ‘emselves, and poofs comin’ t’ meet other poofs an’ play wiv each uvver.’ Shakes his head in disgust. ‘It’s become so bloody awful, tha’ when someone comes dahn ‘ere fer an honest t’ goodness sh!t, it’s like a breath a fresh air!’
Names have been changes to protect the identities of those involved in this unsavoury story.
In Italy, far back in the Renaissance, Prince Giuseppe calls his chamberlain and says to him, ‘Gino, look at this a city: whaddayou think?’
‘It’s extremely beautiful, your grace.’
‘Who’s a builda this a city?’
‘You did, your grace.’
Prince Giuseppe nods mournfully. ‘But a you think a they call a me “Giuseppe the Builder?”’
Gino shakes his head.
‘I’m a send ships all over the world to find places no-one is a ever find: do a they call a me “Giuseppe the Navigator?”’
Gino shakes his head again.
‘I’m a give it a money to artists and a sculptors to make it a beautiful paintings and a statues, but you think they call a me “Giuseppe the Artist”’?
Again Gino shakes his head.
Even more mournfully than before, Prince Giuseppe intones, ‘But a you shag a one sheep…’
So Winston Churchill was wrong and Eric De La Vega de Castro was right: history is not written by the victors, but by the skelms.
And at the very far south of Africa; that place where oceans are said to collide in the most spectacular fashion, I was fortunate enough to catch an interview with the Chairman of the Kaapse Klopse, Masemoer Blerrierubbis.
‘Mr Blerrierubbis, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.’
‘Nei ou pung, djoo cen mos call me Masemoer. We’s mos not formal in dis place.’
‘Thank you, Masemoer. Your parade went off really well this year, as it always seems to do. How much practice do you put in?’
‘Prectice? Hmmm!’ Masemoer closes one eye and squints up at the sky. ‘Nei, we mos prectice all da djear reoun’.
‘All year round, you say? That’s very impressive!’ Reporter smiles encouragingly and says, ‘I believe you were offered the singular honour of leading your troupe for the opening of Parliament and the swearing in of Jacob Zuma for his second term as President?’
‘Honour?! Honour se meit se merrem se moer! Det is norra honour, det is kak! Djoo t’ink we practice alla berrie time to make dat doos look good?’
The reporter is visibly taken aback. ‘But surely it’s an honour to be seen by the whole world on such an auspicious occasion?’
‘Suspisus? Dja, is blerrie suspisus dat he was elected again. People up inna urrer provinces are med in deir heads! Dey cen see dey got no schoolbooks en no water en no blerrie toilets, but dey still vote forra blerrie ANC!’ Shakes his head and spits. ‘Dey must take dis blerrie Parliament to Pretoria en s’ove it up deir blerrie gatte, des what dey mus’ do!’
The reporter tries to mollify him. ‘Not suspicious, auspicious. Grand! And he was elected fairly and by the majority of people in this country.’
‘Dja, cause dey is med in deir blerrie heads. I! I, will klap dem det de snot poep!’
‘I beg your pardon?’ says the reporter, suddenly feeling like Alice.
‘Dja, hulle koppe ga’ lek, das what I say. Dey is kak, en dey purra kak all over da blerrie place cause dey is kak! Djoo t’ink I’s going to take my Klopse to det blerrie fet frog? Nei, ou pel, det will never happen.’ He looks off morosely into the distance. ‘Djoo know, de Nats was kak, burra whole worl’ knowed it. Dis blerrie ANC is kak, burra whole worl’ t’inks dey's wunnerful, when dey’s even more kak danna Nats. De Culuds is even more worse neow den before, an’ dat blerrie Jimmy Manyi say dere’s too many blerrie Culuds inna Cape? Sy ma se meit se merrem se moer!’
The reporter looks horrified. ‘Do all the Cape Coloureds feel this way?’
‘Nei, cause some of dem is dooses what believe de blerrie guvmint, en dey wanna be riets cause dey’s inna ANC, but dey is kak, djus’ like de urrer dooses.’ He walks off morosely, the reporter looking around in confusion.
‘Nei, ou pung, forgerrabourit. I’s not talking no more.’
‘Well…this is Arty Farter signing off for Independent News.’
Ain’t history wonderful?