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Archive for July, 2011

Total Eclipse of the Muffled Fart

Earlier today, someone arrived at this blog after googling for the phrase ‘muffled fart’. This made me laugh so hard that I had to stare at a stern-looking picture of Mr Baxter from Grange Hill for ten minutes just to compose myself, and even then I found my mind wandering to similarly juvenile pursuits. And so, for your delectation and delight, please find below…


1. Fanny By Gaslight
Michael Sadleir’s original 1940 novel is a searing depiction of the exploitation of women in Victorian London, and the BBC’s four-part adaptation was a highlight of the 1981 Autumn TV schedules.  A highlight, that is, providing you were a nine-year-old boy reduced to hysterical laughter, rolling around the front room floor with a cushion clutched to your stomach every time a trailer popped up after the closing credits to Hi-De-Hi. ‘Fanny!!! Ha – ha – ha! By… Gaslight…! Titter! Guffaw! Oh god, stop it…!’ (I’d still be silently chortling and accidentally breaking wind during Points of View)

2. Le Coq Sportif

When Spurs completed a brace of FA Cup Final victories in 1981 and 1982, was it the silky skills of Richard Villa and Osvaldo Ardiles that captured the imagination of a generation of schoolboys? No. It was the side-splitting nature of their French shirt manufacturer, providing endless ammunition with which to goad the weak-willed school saps that had sided with these cheeky Cockernee knees-up merchants, despite never having travelled further south than Northallerton in their short, pitiful little lives. ‘You know that Ricky Villa? Eh? He IS le coq sportif. Geddit? He’s a cock who does sport…’

3. ‘In Case Of Fire, Strike Knob Hard’

The standard instruction on the side of EVERY publicly-housed fire extinguisher during the 1970s and 80s, including those at the front of buses… leading to much hilarity during school excursions, as Phil ‘Slackie’ Slack would inevitably shout ‘FIRE! FIRE! Quick, follow the instructions…’ and Stephen Mason would dutifully respond with a swift punch to Christopher Herbert’s knackers. Before, naturally, sniffing his fingers and attempting to insert the resultant whiffy digits into Herbert’s own permanently dilated nostrils.

4. ‘DICK’.
With a theme tune that still sounds like one of those cheery Ringo Starr songs from a latter-day Beatles album, ITV’s late 1970s adaptation of The Famous Five provided a generation of well-reared kiddies with a regular dose of wholesome pre-war rural adventure… smugglers coves, mysterious moors, fearsome pirates and lashings and lashings and lashings of ginger beer. But it was those opening titles that provided a classic pre-pubescant chortle as one of our heroes slipped and fell into a sparkling lagoon, only to be freeze-framed in mid-plunge and have his name super-imposed over his startled face… ‘DICK’. NB For added schoolboy snigger value, the show also played host to Aunt Fanny and Billycock Farm.

5. ‘I Was Cold, I Was Naked, Were You There?’
Poor Mrs Mulhern must have had the patience of a saint. Given that she was charged with educating a hundred or so eight-year-old idiots who would collapse into lung-bursting hysterics at the merest mention of ‘Fanny By Gaslight’ or ‘Le Coq Sportif’, selecting hymns to enrich our spiritual lives during morning assembly must have been a lyrical minefield. Suffice to say, the inspirational ‘When I Needed A Neighbour’ slipped through the barbed wire fences, and – at EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE of the line transcribed above being sung – a wave of hilarity would spread like an atomic shockwave through the male contingent of Levendale Primary School. If – as frequently happened – the massed, stifled giggles were accompanied by a well-timed Stephen Mason fart, then the resulting fall-out could be explosive enough to require Christopher Herbert’s knob being struck hard yet again. And again. And again.

6. ‘Round Yon Virgin’
See above, but with added Christmassy chortles. I have a sneaky feeling this particular line was eventually dropped from Levendale Primary School’s official rendition of ‘Silent Night’, after Mrs Mulhern’s eyesight was seriously threatened by the repeated, despairing rolling of the eyes she went through every single sodding December.

7.  Einar Aas
Experienced Norwegian international Einar Aas was doubtless treated with solemn respect by football fans in his native Scandinavia, but a 1981 transfer to Nottingham Forest cemented his legendary status amongst a legion of giggling, eight-year-old pillocks who would crease up with tear-stained cheeks every time his immortal Panini Sticker rose to the top of the playground pile. ‘Got… got… got… need… need… oh… ah-ha ha… ha ha ha… yak yak yak yak ha ha ha yak snigger snigger snigger snigger chortle… HA HA HA HA HA…’  Thanks, Cloughie. NB If I was eight years old in 2011, the prospect of Andrei Arshavin playing for Arsenal might actually make me physically explode.

8. Chilly Willy
On TV, he was a cartoon penguin in a woolly hat and mittens. In our filthy, fevered imaginations, he… wasn’t.

9. Sexagesima Sunday
Almost every child of the 1980s received a WH Smiths Desk Diary for Christmas at least once during the decade, although obviously only the most chronically anally retentive of us actually managed to write in the damn thing for 365 days running (see every blog entry for 2009). A select handful made it to early February though, at which point they’d inevitably be confronted by the prospect of ‘Sexagesima Sunday’, neatly inscribed in italics beneath the date itself. Apparently it’s an important Roman Catholic holiday, and not – as Gareth ‘Gazzie’ Jones once solemnly informed me – ‘the day on which you have to have sex with a geezer’.

10. Frank Bough
I’m  reliably informed by my London-raised friends (some of whom even defiantly wore Le Coq Sportif football kits as Spurs-loving children) that the verb ‘to boff’ was rigidly defined in their Middle Band Playground Dictionary as an act of sexual congress performed by two consenting adults, either of whom may even be cold, naked or – indeed – ’round yon virgin’ at the time. Such decadent behaviour had yet to reach Teesside by 1982, though. As far as we were concerned, to ‘boff’ was to release a trump, a trouser cough; to pump, to let one drop. In short, any appearance of Nationwide’s genial Frank Bough on TV was the cue for raucous, raspberry-blowing hilarity, usually accompanied by a raised pre-pubescent buttock.

In fact, thinking about it, a ‘Frank Bough’ is pretty much just the opposite end of the flatulence spectrum to the muffled fart, which brings us nicely full circle. Found that funny, did you? Well maybe it’s time you took a long hard look at yourself. Or perhaps you’d like to explain the joke to Mr Baxter…