Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

December 11, 2011

perfect minutes

as noted below I was asked to pick some "perfect" minutes.

Here are some of my favourites - I'd love to read about yours!

No list could not start without a selection from the greatest of them all, Kenneth Williams...

On "emperors"

Many names spring to mind! I would mention Hadrian and Marcus Araelius, perhaps Allogabilus is an interesting example. He arrived in Rome, you know, on a dray, and had a lot of makeup on. The Senators are reputed to have made representations and indignant noises about this. But he held full sway and filled every post far and wide, Gall, Britain, Manorca, Majorca, all with posts with his favourite in charge. And I don't blame him because I mean if you've got a bit of authority, you might as well splash it about and say well, have a good time, I'm only here for a short while. Might as well enjoy it while we can. And I think when I look back on my own life, ah yes, Acton's dictum, all power corrupts, that is true...

On "the Omar Khiam"

Most of what England knows of Omar Khiam is of course the Rubiat, which comes by courtesy to us through the good work of Fitzgerald. How often these words reverberated through my mind! Myself when young did eagerly frequent and with askance foot steps, cards gathered on the grass, in my joyous errand reach the spot where I may once turn down and empty last. Oh moon of my delight that knows no way. Oh even to hear those again sends me into an ecstatic realm, and I think Omar Khiam, ah you old Persian nit, you were good when it came to writing the verse. Because in life he was completely misguided. And laid up for himself the most dreadful debts and was continually being asked...

on "parson's nose"

I have never actually eaten this part of the bird. But I understand it belongs to an unmentionable area. And though delectable, I am assured by those who have savoured of it, I remain in total ignorance. I realise of course that Parsons' nose could well be a reference to the patrician appendage on our chairman's face. And that feature which has earned him so much admiration from the ladies, and not to mention several actors I've seen hanging about and followed him all the way from Glasgow when he was as you know an apprentice shipwright. And never has lost his affection for Caledonia and all the traditions of that country which do not include...

on "the chair"

Well at all the council meetings I attend, you must defer to the chair. And at an AGM I am not likely to forget, there was a challenge by Dulcie Grey who rose and said "Mister Chairman, there is no paper in the ladies lavatory!" Then a cry went up "this is holding up the motion!" And on the other hand that the chair that I most adore is to be found in the home of Samuel Johnson in Market Square, Lichfield. I almost sat in it and an usher appeared, not allowed, I was told. So I had to stand back and simply admire, because the stability of that piece of furniture actually suggested the grandeur of...

on "Robert Houdin"

Yes well of course he means (spelled as he pronounces it) Robeer Houdarn. And ninety-old. I know little about that period anyway, shall we say. 1805 he was born and became an internationally famous prestigateur. Probably the only man of his ilk to be ordered by the Government of his country which was France, naturally as you'll have gathered by my pronounciation, to go and outdo the Maribouts which as you know were allegedly working soem sort of miracle. And saying "hey presto!" and up came a load of spectres or whatever you like to call on them, depending on your proclivities. I don't much approve of him. And when Orson Welles was forced to give an afternoon performance he remarked at the curtain "I would like..."


NP: What did he remark at the curtain?

KW: Well Orson said at the curtain call, as it was an afternoon performance and he hated giving them, he said at the curtain call "I would just like to mention Robert Houdin who in the 14th century invented the vanishing bird cage trick and the theatre matinee, may he rot and perish!"

On "genius"

Of course it's something that I am tremendously sympatico with, and always respond with enormous enthusiasm to whenever I encounter it, either in life itself or in history, literature, the plastic arts, painting. I mean these are things in which genius continuously manifests itself. And ennobles us, lifts us all in the process! Even as we gaze upon the incredible Michelangelo David statue we think "ooh how marvellous!" I mean he makes an ordinary person seem incredibly God like! And in those limbs we see the....

on "George Peabody"

He was the most probably famous in Baltimore philanthropist ever born and was of considerable benefit to this city when he arrived here in the 19th century. And of course by municipal housing did a considerable amount to improve the lot of residents of that kind of property. He interested himself in Keynes' expedition to the Antarctic and forked out to the tune of one and a half million which isn't bad when you come to think of it. And know that money would be worth far more then than it is now! He also loved this city which we're all living in now. And he chose never to return to North America or the city in that...

on "hauntings"

Haunting times, haunting tunes, haunting pictures, haunting ectoplasms. Oh yes what manifestations are there here? And I once saw a person manifesting themselves on the bacon counter. And I took aside the manager and said "have you seen that?" And he said "yes it only occurs at Ash Wednesdays usually, because you see, it's rumoured that the previous incumbent used to have a yen for streaky." And I said "what do you mean..." and then I repeated the word. I can't do it now, you know what I mean. And he said "well it took his fancy" and then did this terrible sort of slow wink. And it was a sort of walleye look, you know? I thought "well that's odd. I'm not coming back here because I don't want to feel that people around here with these strange proclivities..."

and a few others...

here's Sheila Hancock on "what I fancy"

It would take me much longer than 60 seconds to describe what I fancy actaully and anyway it wouldn’t be allowed. But instead of that I will say I would like to be by a river in my bathing costume with a bottle of champagne and a few sandwiches. Then I would like to plunge into the same water, swim around for a bit, find Kenneth Williams who I also fancy, sitting in his little bathing costume on the edge of the bank dabbling his tiny feet amongst the tadpoles, fishing with a little net. And then I would go off down the road and there would be Peter who I fancy and Derek whom I also fancy waiting to take me out to dinner because the aforesaid bread and jam hadn’t exactly filled me up. So we would then go to my favourite...

Paul Merton on "loans"

Whenever I'm short of money, I go into the sea and borrow some off a loan shark. These peculiar creatures carry great big wads of cash around with them. They are in fact known as the er money lenders of the sea. And when I'm down in this particular briney piece of water I see them swimming past with fivers sticking out of their spoutholes. But they don't have those of course, because I'm thinking of whales. It's something else entirely and everybody's going to carry on and let me talking now, so I'll just talk gibberish for the next minute and a half. Pears are my favourite fruit er because without a doubt there is something about a pear that I absolutely love. And if I haven't got enough money to buy a pear I will go down to the bank and I say "excuse me, can you give me a loan because I simply must have more of this particular fruit?" And they say "of course and here's a thousand pounds". And so I go down to the greengrocer and I say "look, I've got a thousand pounds" and he'll say "yeah it's a thousand pounds actually." And I say "how many pears have you got?" And he said "for that amount of money, you did say a thousand?" And I said "I did yeah". He said "I can give you, I can give you about 8000 pears for that because they are about um eight pounds each." I said "well that's not right, is it? Because I mean if they were eight pears a pound, they would be 8000." He said "all right," he said, "but I didn't do algebra at school and um, I'm very pleased that you've come here now to my shop because with this money I can have a holiday..."

Paul Merton on "flying saucers"

Well a flying saucer landed in my back garden about 19 years ago, and I got on it and went to the planet Venus. And it's true because I've got photographs here of me standing on that particular planet. And anybody who says that this is false can come outside and I'll give them a damn good fight! Because I was trapped on that particular orb in space for years! I tried, benee, speaking to the Venusians and said "look it's not my fault I'm here, I was kidnapped by one of your people." They said "it's got nothing to do with us, it could have been anybody they picked up. We had Winston Churchill about 30 years ago. And before that Sir Stanley Matthews, the wizard of the wing, spent a fortnight on this very surface." I thought well, I'm very proud to be in such august company. And they said "so you should be and all! What do you want for your dinner?" I said "well what have you got?" They said "well, we can offer you fish cakes if that's not too fantastic for you." I thought it's quite an extraordinary concept, the idea of eating that particular meal out here this far away from the Earth where I originally came from. They said "look do you want it or not?" I said "well fine". So at that point they produced a doner kebab which to my, to all intents and purposes was completely cold. I said "why is this not served up hot?" They said "we got it from a shop in Highgate and it's a long way away to bring it all the way from that particular part of North London to where we're standing now." I said "okay, I'll go along with that, what have you got to drink?" They said "well we've got Whatney's Red Barrel." I said "oh that is just too fantastic because nobody outside of the..."

Graham Norton on "the writing on the wall"

The writing on the wall is a very long way of saying graffiti. and I remember as a boy looking up and seeing scrawled on a flat surface along the side of a house "Kilroy was here". Oh sweet mystery of life, what did that mean? And how depressing it is to turn on the television and realise the orange thing is still with us! No past tense at all! His great arms like animated garden hoses flap about his head as he runs up and down steps forcing grown women to cry! It must be stopped! I feel that... The subject is the writing on the wall? And so it is said joined up can be difficult if there's a lot of stonework or masonry...

and finally the great man, Sir Clement Freud on "the best putdown I ever heard"

The best putdown I ever heard was exceedingly short, as are all good putdowns. And in a game in which you have to waffle for 60 seconds, and best being not a word that one can conditionalise in any way, I will have to give you the build-up to this putdown, in order that the short sentence with which I will end my speech may not be outside the rules of Just A Minute. It was a summer evening in Aberdeen. It was raining slightly and the mist was coming down from the hills. And at the banqueting hall in the Royal Station Hotel, the head waiter nudged the main speaker and said "functions are about to begin, it is up to you to open your mouth". And Mister Gladstone, who was there on this occasion, was introduced at such very great length by so boring a man that when he was finally told "and now we come to the Prime Minister to give his address", the aforementioned gentleman said "Ten Downing Street".


Blogger antster1983 said...

Sue Perkins on "apple pie"...

"It's made with sweet short crust pastry, which should be baked blind. By which I mean put a teacloth over your eyes and shove it in the oven. Beware the flame however because when your ocular bits have been covered, you'll find it somewhat distressing as the visuals will be blurred or forever masked. Eventually after some time has passed, remove said platter from the heating device and you will see there a perfect crust that has formed. Add to this some semi-sweated Granny apples, English are the finest but you won't find them in a supermarket. Perhaps wander around Devon, and you might come across a couple there, all based in their own natural juices. This is time to add custard, the best and most perfect ingredient of all. Some people shove in raisins, I say tosh! Never put an apple with a raisin, it is disgusting. It is against nature, God and Gordon Ramsey! This quintessential dish must be allowed to breathe freely, just the presence of the fine English orchard, the water, the baked fine stuff, all there waiting to be served to a happy family..."


NP: Oh! Well a tremendous round of applause because Sue started with the subject and finished with it, in spite of a little bit of indulgence from the panel. They let it go because you were going such full flood! And so magnificently! I also let it go and you went for 68 seconds! And it was only because you were going rather purple in the face that I stopped it then!

2:39 am  

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