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Tell the mayor to stop messing about and now wash his hands.

Byline: By Steve Groves

There used to be a horse called Infamy on which I once won a modest number of pennies with a group of tired hacks with nothing better to do one sunny afternoon. We backed it because the night before Carry on Cleo had been on telly and all day we'd been shouting, 'Infamy, infamy. They've all got it in for me.'

The office bookie had noticed Infamy was running in the 3.30 at Plumpton or somewhere so we had a collection and put our cash on the line.

Now that great line, uttered by Kenneth Williams, has won the title of the best one-liner in film comedy. As Williams himself often said, 'Stop messing about.'

It is a terrific joke, of course, but few will cavil when I say that the Carry On team's greatest moment actually came when the foothills of Snowdonia stood in for the Khyber Pass, as the Burpas clashed with the Third Foot and Mouth.

It was Carry on Up The Khyber, of course, in which Williams took the part of the Khasi of Khalabar. The Khasi are an Indian people, but I don't think we need to go all anthropological to realise that the writers of the film did not have them in mind when they gave the character the title.

This was classic Carry On toilet humour which reached its bottom line in 1971 when they released Carry On at Your Convenience on a hardly unsuspecting audience. Williams played WC Boggs in this one, so you're beginning to get the picture.

I can't help thinking that the world of the Carry Onners would have been completed by the exciting news which has reached me from the North-East of England, where a urinal has been saved for the nation.

It's a convenience so well-loved that it had its own name - the Westoe Netty, netty being a north-eastern term for a lavatory. It was captured on canvas by artist Bob Olley and features the backs of six men and a boy using the facility to its full. Prints of the work sell well.

Ten years ago Bob and chums took down the netty brick by brick, stall by stall, after the planners decided it had to go. Now it's being re-erected at the Beamish Industrial Museum in County Durham. It'll only be for show. Don't try using it.

It was built in 1890 at a time when there was huge civic pride in engineering installations which reflected the modernity of a borough. So the opening of a public convenience would attract the mayor to cut the ribbon.

Look no further than the underground facility in The Hayes in Cardiff. The gents has a plaque which records the names of those present when it was officially opened.

I imagine a simple ceremony before they got out sharpish and repaired to the Mansion House for a finger buffet. I also like to imagine that's where the phrase 'now wash your hands' originated. But then I like to imagine all sorts of things. Is that Williams shouting, 'Stop messing about'?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 9, 2007
Words:516
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