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February 2008 - What a Lovely Dodo

Well, my dear viewers, after the totally underwhelming reaction to my somewhat unprepared ramblings for the month of January, it seems only appropriate that I try to repeat that amazing level of success with an equally disjointed dissertation for February.

Here I am, madam, dreadfully early at putting the old fingers to keyboard for a change, but endeavouring to emulate the level of disgusting disorganisation necessary to make this month's epistle at least as popular as the last.

So, let me bid a very warm welcome, to to the second Nick Harvey's Comment of the year, to all by-pass repairers, to all pub landlords, but most of all to any slightly dead people who may be viewing this time round.

That wide range of welcomes will probably act as a warning to all my faithful and regular devotees that there is a little administration to be done before we get into the main subject for in-depth analysis under the Nick Harvey, Acme microscope in this edition.

Firstly, there is a little administration of the faithful and regular devotees themselves.  You may have noticed that I have decided to add a bit of faithfulness to your regular description this month.

Being such a lover of words and language, I was carrying on a conversation with another individual of similar bent quite recently.  They observed that my regular use of the words regular devotee in these masterpieces was giving a technically incorrect description of those of you who return each month to read more of my wonderful words of wisdom.

It was put to me that you, dear viewers, are my faithful devotees and that neither I nor the rest of the world ought to be the slightest bit interested in your toilet habits.

It is for that reason that I shall address you as faithful and regular this month, as something of a transition towards your rebranding; but next month and thereafter you shall simply be described as faithful, with the word regular being flushed down the pan.

So, that appears to have dealt with administrative point number one.  Number two is a brief, but promised, update on the northern by-pass situation from last October and November's editions.

Lovers of people power will be ecstatic to know that the council seem to have given up on trying to keep our lovely by-pass down to a single lane.  I drove along there again yesterday and the sides are still beautifully flattened; and there is still room for two cars, side by side, over most of its length.

Road works and temporary traffic lights on the main road into town from the north, originally promised for just two weeks but now extended to four, have made the use of the by-pass even more essential for the well being of the town and its trade.

I'm sure there must be one or two pub landlords who are quite pleased that the northern by-pass is taking away the traffic that didn't ever want to come into the town in the first place, leaving plenty of space for their faithful customers to safely approach their hostelries.

Which, quite neatly, takes us from administrative point number two to number three.  It was last July, if my list of ancient Comments on the wall is to be believed, that I was last talking about signs outside public houses.

Incidentally, what a poorly constructed sentence that last one was!  The landlord of The Bell By The Green would have to have serious words with me if he was to see it.  It should be clearly understood that it is the list which is on the wall and not the Comments.

It was last July that I was foolishly generalising about everyone in the public house trade being pretty poor at spelling, grammar and, most particularly, apostrophic positioning.

Well, dear viewers, I can now reveal that I have, at last, discovered the glorious exception to that rule at The Bell By The Green.

You will, immediately, understand this gentleman's attention to detail in such things if I tell you that the place used to be known as The Bell On The Green, but because it's actually, by the green and not on it, he has insisted on the use of the revised description.

He was proudly showing a group of us a selection of his signs the other night.  Every single one got ten out of ten from the Nick Harvey proof reading team, for grammar, for spelling and for the location of all the apostrophes.

And, it has to be said, that he has a fine cellar as well, but that's a slightly different story, which I might well come back to in a few months time.  He does do a nice drop of the old red wine, though, so we're all going back again on Monday on the pretext of reading some more signs.  Well, that's what I'm telling 'er indoors, anyway.

Okay then folks, that must be about the end of all the administration for this month.  Is it about time to properly start this month's edition now?  I suppose so.

Something has been getting right up Nick Harvey's nose of late and, I'm afraid, it's just about to rumble to the surface again and be exposed to the wide, wide world.  It's all right, madam, I don't mean literally.  Unpleasant as I may be on the odd occasion, I have absolutely no intention of sneezing all down the front of your twin set.

No, it is Derek the deceased dodo of whom I was about to drone on at some considerable length.  And I use the past tense of the verb advisedly in this case.  I had been intending to spend quite some time with dear old Derek under the Acme microscope, to discover exactly how nice he had been while he was alive, you see.

However, various recent occurrences have pre-empted much of the in-depth investigation which was planned for somewhere around this paragraph of this month's epic, so I wont wear down the tips of my typing fingers to any greater degree than is absolutely necessary.

You see, dear old Derek and the rest of his flock must have been the most wonderful birdies in the whole, wide world if the official manual of obituary writing is to be believed.

Have you noticed that the moment somebody shuffles off this mortal coil and into their box, they always get portrayed, after the event, as having been the most wonderful person in the world, ever?

It happens for everybody to one extent or another, but for some strange reason, it seems to be much worse in the case of schoolchildren and show business people.

Poor little Johnny passes away and the media will immediately wheel out his headmaster to tell everybody how wonderful and studious he was, how he was a greatly valued member of the school and how he'll be sadly missed.

I bet little Billy, the kid that Johnny beat up behind the bike shed last Tuesday lunchtime, didn't value him very much and won't miss him in the slightest.  But Billy doesn't get a say in writing the obituary, does he?

What is it about this lovely deceased dodo syndrome, as I've decided to call it, I wonder?  Perhaps the dodo bought all its fellows a cheap batch of those rose tinted glasses before he went?

If Bert, the famous comedian, suddenly decides to join the Norwegian Blue in the bottom of the cage, his agent will be straight out there telling us all about the charity work he always did on Wednesday afternoons.  There's never allowed to be any mention of Fridays, Saturday and Sundays when he was always drunk as a skunk and knocking his missus about, is there?

We all know that practically all show business people are pretty fantastic while the curtains are open, while the cameras are rolling or while the microphone is on; but why aren't their obituaries allowed include some mention of their demeanour the moment the curtain closes, the camera stops or the microphone goes off?

The obituary writers will remind us that this, that or the other personality was very popular, if nothing else, during their lifetime; but we really ought to also be told how many lesser mortals they firmly stepped upon during their lives to ensure that popularity with the public.

When I eventually become "recently slabbed", a description I first heard the other evening and found hilarious in the extreme, for goodness sake, will somebody get out there and tell both sides of the story.  Ugly looking, cantankerous old codger; could never get a glass of wine out of his hand; was always stealing other people's funny phrases; used to sneeze all over people's twin sets; mildly humorous, but only ever on the first day of the month.

And, talking of months, I note that you've only got a short one in which to read this particular edition, even though February has got a whole twenty-nine days this year, so I'd better not drone on about Derek any further, I suppose.

There'll be more of this nonsense, in any case, on the first of March, so it's best that you pop back then and stake your claim as a founder member of the faithful devotee's club.  I'd better go now; I need to write the rest of my epitaph.  Right, I'm off, where's me stuffed dodo?

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