Friday, September 03, 2004

ballads and reading

So Pete Doherty avoided prison...

Libertine Doherty remains at liberty:

"Doherty, a gangling, charismatic frontman, arrived at Thames magistrates court in east London in characteristic style: wearing a pork-pie hat, leaning precariously out of the sunroof of a battered Rover, flashing a victory sign, and strumming an expensive Gibson acoustic guitar. "

Over on Andrew's excellent Bedsit Bomber blog, between posts on inheritance tax, the Microsoft Music Store, burburry clothing and the illiberal Democrats ("I know, let's abolish the NHS"), he's found time to compile a list of the 2o funniest britons, after the fairless hopeless effort by the Reader's Digest earlier in the month.

Leaving aside the fact that, billed as a list of the funniest brits, it is confined exclusively to comedians (thus ensuring that PG Wodehouse, Kingsley Amis, Malcolm Bradbury, Will Self and Gordon Strachan - all funnier than most of the people on the list - are excluded), it's notable not for the fact that he has somehow found space for Les Dawson (?) and Jasper Carrot (???) but because he (arguably rightly) puts Tony Hancock up at the top. He was left off the BBC list!

The Original Tony Hancock Website

Now, having come under fire from Libertines fans for criticising them previously, I seem to do a lot of writing about them for someone who isn't a fan. Which almost makes me wonder if I'm not falling under the spell of Pete Doherty myself (how about all these people who get interviewed in the music press keen to present him as their idol; how strange to be so happy to be identified in such a way, he's just a pop-star; though that's probably where we'd disagree). The article in the Guardian from which I cribbed the above quote plays on his popularity, too. And he does come accross well, I thought, reading it and admiring the picture (he looks great).

"Asked how he felt, he replied "innocent" before waving his arms and adding: "What about Magna Carta? Did she die in vain?""

That's good, you see, I thought. But then I remembered, that's a line of Hancock's...

"I shall not go through the facts of this case again, save to suggest to you there is some element of doubt in this boy's guilt. As Shakespeare said in 'The Merchant Of Vienna', when Portion accused Shylock Holmes of pinching a pound of meat: "The quality of mercy is not strain'd, it droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven, upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd, twice bless'd, the sign of good - no - it blesseth him that gives, and him that takes."

Take the case of Doubting Thomas, who was sent to Coventry for looking through a keyhole at Lady Godiva. Can anybody prove he was looking at her? Can anybody prove it was he who shouted out: "get your hair cut"? Of course not, this is sheer supposition! Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain? Brave Hungarian peasant girl who forced King John to sign the pledge at Runnymede and close the boozers at half past ten! Is all this to be forgotton? My friends, it is not John Harrison Peabody who is on trial here today but the fair name of British justice, and I ask you to send that poor boy back to the loving arms of his poor white-haired old mother a free man! I thank you!"

Looking around for the quote, I note from the always entertaining No Rock and Roll Fun that the Guardian kindly sub-edited Doherty's quote; he said 'What about the Magna Carta?', which doesn't work quite so well.

Still, at Assistant Blog we like our pop stars Hancock-literate.

1 comment:

BB said...

I'm feeling a bit bad about keeping Jasper Carrott on there, you know.

I should really have added a note, as you have, about the list only containing comedians, rather than writers. At the time I'd been thinking about PGW and, erm, Noel Coward, but you make a good point. Honestly, Tommy Cooper. Did you ever see him on TV when you were a kid? I didn't.

Lovely bit of Hancock in your post. They had "The Rebel" on recently, which I like a lot even though it's way below par for him.