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Beeb-Brained On:2008-09-10 17:31:29

I've got to stop reading the Beeb site---you know the enormous site that the BBC has on the web. You see I have been checking it every single day now for absolute years, just to see if that old patriotic song There'll Always be an England has remained true for a given value of "Always" including, but not limited to, today. Anyway I really must stop, not so much because I've finally accepted England's eternity, nor because I've finally decided that I don't care, but rather because the buggers at the Beeb are really messing with my mind.

The other day, for example, they had the temerity to have an article under the heading Distinctively Odd about the Diagram Prize which, for the the last thirty years has been awarded by the Bookseller magazine to the oddest book title they could find and, this being the anniversary, the Beeb just had to put some fluff about it on their site, including a list of the winners.

Now, this Beeb's list ranges from the hardly odd, for example The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling doesn't seem even slightly odd to me at all, being just the sort of title you'd expect from Metallurgists--the only odd thing about it being that it was translated from the Russian. Then again (and one they were themselves so taken with that a newly published compendium of the titles takes it as its title) How to Avoid Huge Ships which seems a perfectly reasonable thing to A: want to do and B: once you have figured out how to do it, to want to tell others how to do it too. Then there are those that are genuinely odd, even to me, like The Joy of Chickens or People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It.

Now, some of these odd titles, while acceptable in the staid respectable world of Aunty Beeb, are a bit too rich for the American palette. For example there's the one that I'll euphemise (if not down-right Euphuizing the thing) as How to Emulate Bears in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art (of course were I to Euphuize it I would say something like 'How a man may emulate the savage silvan Ursus horribilis' but who wants to be that silly1?).
Then after they had given their list, the crafty buggers had to go and add:
"We want to give listeners a chance to construct their own stories, inspired by the titles which have won every year. Send us your opening paragraphs...."

After which of course you can consider my mind thoroughly messed with.
So how could I refrain from sending in a couple of entries?
diagram prizeMy first choice was the winner for 2003: The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories .
My opening paragraph began:
Few people realise how many horses there are on the Greek Islands, nor how extensive is the literature devoted to them. For the next seven hundred and forty three pages2 we will enumerate them, concentrating particularly on the Island of Lesbos where horse stories (some that even involve mare on mare action3) proliferate.
Then, from 2004, there was the delightfully titled: Bombproof Your Horse . For which I contributed
"Hi-yo! Silver aw..." [BOOOOOOMB!!!!! Neigh!] ... The sad, sudden demise of the Lone Ranger leading, as it did ... [clang!] as it did, directly to the Tonto/Trigger Act of 2009 and to the introduction of metal detectors and other stringent security measures at all stables and mounting posts, resulted in forever changing the way we ride. From that time on, spurs had to be made of plastic or paper, and six-shooters, while allowed, had always to be carried in firmly closed one quart Zip-lock bags.
Oh! My poor messed with mind, my Beebed brain---I'm going to have to go for a lie down now, so...
Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton


1  With apologies to the lovely Lyly and his beautiful bookes 'Euphues: The Anatomy of Wyt' (1578) and 'Euphues and his England' (1580)

2  What part of 'Big' didn't you understand?

3 Racing, of course. What else could I mean?

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