image removed on request
Reading this post from the other day put me in mind of Mornington Crescent, one of the silly games people play on ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.’ I like ‘Clue’, as it’s generally known, as well as the next person, but lately it’s been somewhat spoiled for me by the utter mania of the audience. Where do they find these people, and what are they on? How can they summon up such whooping enthusiasm for Hamish and Dougal having had their tea yet again??? How can one song to the tune of another bring on such incontinent ecstasy? I enjoy these games too and I like Jack Dee’s deadpan put-downs as much as the next person, but the manic audience strips the programme of all subtlety.
I digress. My favourite game in this welter of silliness is Mornington Crescent, a test of ingenuity and knowledge of the London Underground where the goal is to reach Mornington Crescent station before the other players. It sounds complex and intricate: in fact it’s a hoax; there are no rules and the fun is to make it sound as though there are by seeming to think very hard about your next move and by bringing in certain technical-sounding phrases (‘ah, I see you’re using the Kings’ Cross switchback there,’ and so on.) But, as OH has so shrewdly pointed out, there are in fact meta-rules because the game wouldn’t work if the first player simply said ‘Mornington Crescent’ straight away. You have to leave it long enough to be plausible, yet not too long as to become boring; plus you have to bring in unusual stations which seem to be connected to ones already mentioned. And it has to be funny.
Are the British alone in finding our place names amusing? Americans don’t seem to do this at all; they pronounce the most bizarre of names with nary a smirk, but we Brits chortle at the mere mention of Bognor or Chipping Sodbury. Douglas Adams took this tendency and went global with his Meaning of Liff, taking place names around the world and inventing definitions to go with them: our favourites are Grimbister, a group of cars all travelling at the same speed because one of them is a police car, and Berepper, a subtle but audible fart. And it seems to me that a similar amusement is at work in MC because there are certain combinations of names which are inherently funnier than others. Like Mordern, say, or East Cheam or – well, Mornington Crescent.
Yay! I win!
Clue must be due back on air for its 731st series soon… and in case you can’t find it, Mornington Crescent is on the Northern Line (the black one) just North of Euston.
I’ve enjoyed I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue for years and listen whenever it comes around, as it inevitably does; but lately I can’t help feeling that it’s succumbing to a bit of an ‘old fart’ tendency. Not only that, the audience seem so hyped-up that at intervals they actually shout ‘hurray!’ like a bunch of over-enthusiastic Enid Blyton characters, and practically have an orgasm whenever Mornington Crescent is announced. It’s a shame, because on the whole I like the programme: it has some great ideas, Jack Dee with his deadpan humour has taken over well from Humphrey Lyttleton’s ‘slightly bewildered ringmaster’ act, and it’s just silly, pointless fun. But I’m getting rather tired of the inevitable Hamish and Dougall who’ll always have had their tea: frankly, it could do with some new blood and a fresh twist of lemon in that cup of tea. Not to mention a new audience. What do they give them?
Last night Daniel and I watched an extra, ‘reunion’ episode of Red Dwarf. These things are rarely a good idea (exceptions include Blackadder and The Vicar of Dibley) and although this had its moments, it definitely jumped the shark when they teleported through a television screen and out into – guess what? – the early twenty-first century.
Oh, no. We switched off.
The memoir is almost finished. I know I’ve been saying that for a while now, but it really is. I’m determined it will be finished by early next week and then October will be preparing for NaNoWriMo.
I’m glad it starts on November 1st otherwise I’d end up awarding myself an endless holiday, like Richard Branson’s employees. What do you think of that idea? Interesting, huh?
PS I am going on holiday. I may be some time…
Yes, it’s finally arrived! There is now an app for Mornington Crescent on Facebook. I’ve checked it out and it conforms to all the major rules although sadly the Kensington Protocol is not acknowledged. The Kensington Protocol is only favoured by a few people as you have to double-back from West Kensington and avoid Earl’s Court but I think it’s well worth it for the interest the manoeuvre gives to the game. Unlike…
Northampton rules for cribbage which are just plain daft. With Northampton rules you only get three cards and they don’t even do one for his knob!!! That is just plain evil.
We were taught cribbage by our grandfather who used to call it ‘one for his eels’ – or possibly ‘ills’. Whether it was short for ‘heels’ or something else, we never found out. Our grandfather was a true character who had a number of sayings and snatches of song which formed his daily conversation – I’ve actually written a piece of flash fiction about him called ‘The Garden of my Grandfather’. He would look out of the window and shout ‘Hiya, Mr Ford!’ at a long-dead neighbour. Their house was magical when we were kids and very dull when we were teenagers; it was small but they had a sunlounge – I really like sunlounges; and a garden which looked out onto a field with cows. Sadly, inevitably, this was subsequently built on. They bought the house for 3oo quid in 1963 and it was sold after his death (he always refused to move out and live in a home, for which I admired him) for 90,000.
The house we went to for Pinggk poetry had a wonderful garden – two ponds, loads of trees and a winding path. I think as a child I would have loved it.
Had an email from Mary – they are doing well with the boat although it is very hot – 35 degrees every day. They are socialising in the evening. Apparently the boat is coming on fine.
OK that’s it. Winding down now – only two more posts before I take a break. Mark’s birthday tomorrow.
There’s a kind of sub-theme emerging here. Out of the novel came the idea of biscuits with words on being like books and writing a kind of biscuit bible. Also, my postcard story which was not chosen to appear in the window of Waterstone’s, was about biscuits and literature. Here it is:
Can’t find it. It was called “A Nice Cup of Tea with Dickens” and was about someone writing a thesis on the incidence of biscuits in the novels of Dickens. I thought it was quite amusing. But it’s vanished.
In this context I must mention the seminal work “A Nice Cup of Tea and A Sit Down” written by Nicey and Wifey.
Sounds twee. Isn’t. Very comforting. There’s something very English, not only about the theme of tea and biscuits, but about the idea of appearing to take totally seriously such a banal theme. It’s a kind of Mornington Crescent-ish undercutting of our tendency to at times take life too seriously.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mornington_Crescent_(game) – 36k
Are you a “foreigner”? Are you baffled by the English? Don’t be. We do it on purpose. Refuse to be. Alternatively, drink six pints of Adnams beer and all will become clear.