OK, here we go. Last week we promised you E-EDITOR’s poetic riposte to that stylishly slanderous piece of doggerel “You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God, the British journalist...”
The verse was written in 1930 for Punch, the satirical magazine that was part of the backbone of British culture and traditionally littered the waiting rooms of the nation’s dentists.
Punch attracted many of the best writers and cartoonists in Britain throughout its extraordinarily long life, from 1841 to 2002.
But Humbert Wolfe, poet, civil servant and author of this one memorable anti-journo squib, was by no means the greatest of them. Though he published 40 books of prose and verse and was once the bookies’ favourite to become Poet Laureate, history has not been kind to the man his biographer called “Harlequin in Whitehall”.
In practice, these four lines constitute his entire claim to immortality. You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist.
But seeing what the man will do unbribed
There’s no occasion to.
To which E-EDITOR indignantly, and not a moment too soon, responds:A greater calumny, I think
Words never yet expressed in ink.
And when I find the bum who wrote ’em,
I’ll have them tattooed on his scrotum.
There's nothing more depressing than happening upon a neglected blog, the online equivalent of the Marie Celeste. Drifting abandoned and unloved, crew's breakfast on the table, no-one on deck and no obvious explanation... You know the scenario.
But even a break in transmission of nearly two months doesn't mean we've gone off the air for good.
Despite the distractions of running a new series of training sessions on writing for the Web and taking on some major new commitments that cannot yet be discussed in public, we are still determined to keep E-EDITOR alive and pernicketing.
Curiously enough, this period of quiescence has seen a sudden surge in the number of hits on both the main Web site and the weblog. We've had a flurry of interest from English and Welsh universities, an unexplained barrage of hits from readers in Italy and a large number of visits to the blog via a glowing recommendation in Amy Gahran's excellent Contentious blog for North American writers and editors.
We've also been invited to contribute to The Editorial Eye, a respected US newsletter that has been around for nearly 20 years.
All of which makes it rather frustrating that we have not been able to devote the necessary time to keeping the blog itself moving along.
However — and we admit you might think you had heard such promises before — we are now really back on track.
We have guaranteed postings lined up for the next few weeks, starting later this week with E-EDITOR's trenchant poetic riposte to the old Humbert Wolfe slander that begins "You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God, the British journalist..."
This little snatch of elegant doggerel has been the bane of the journalising classes since 1930 and has annoyed us for many years, so we've finally come up with what we feel is a suitably robust reply. Bet you can't wait.