Friday, 30 April 2010

Toadies and Other Political Animals

After an another afternoon in Albania, I came home to the Icelandic Study (how very European of me) and began to research the word toady. This led me to lickspittle and from there I found a list of synonyms which trundled along at quite a  - well - poetic lick.

Crawler, Fawning,
Flunkey, Groveller
Hanger-on, Kowtowing
Sucking-up Toady
Yes-man, yes-man

The rhythm needs attention and perhaps the AlphBetiCal orDEr could be juggled a little, but I believe I've got the first draft of a poem to commemorate (commiserate?) the probable next Chancellor of the Exchequer. (I'd better compose one for darling Badger, too, on the remote off-chance.)

The prospect of finding Found Poetry has cheered me immensely today. I was, to be honest, being a miserable old boot. I wept during an item on cyclamens whilst listening to Gardener's Question Time on the wireless. Something in Audrey Hawthorne-Hedge's voice set me off. (Did you know, it takes five years to grow a cyclamen from seed? Five long, politically austere years ...) Anyhow, if Hart Seeley can find lyricism in the words of one Donald Rumsfeld, then I am sure the next five years will bring T.S. Eliot & Forward Prize-winning opportunities.

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

(A poem by D. Rumsfeld aged  78 and three-quarters.)

So, toady. A multi-tasking verb and noun, both short and slimy.

It is an abbreviation of toad-eater. A toad-eater was the sidekick of a Snake Oil Salesman (Ivor Brown calls them medical mountebanks). Toads were commonly believed to be poisonous - touch one and be plagued by warts - and so the toad-eater would ostentatiously eat the toad, or something squished that looked like a toad. (A bit like Ozzy Osbourne - no relation - and his rubber pippistrelles.) The toad-eater would roll about on the ground for a bit, moaning, groaning, clutching his guts, staggering from one onlooker to another, weeping for his wasted life. Then the toad-eater would be miraculously cured by his master prescribing a dose of sugared water and tah-dah! fortunes would be made. A charlatan and a stooge.

In the eighteenth century a politician's hanger-on was called his toad-eater but we must remember that a toady is not the man who resembles a toad but the poor wretch who used to swallow it.

For legal purposes, I am required to state that there is no suggestion whatsoever that Mr. Geo. Osborne has ever swallowed.


  1. I like 'toad-in-the-hole' (sausages in a batter pudding for the uninitiated). My mum used to call it 'frog-in-the-bog', which made it sound funny, but unappetising.

  2. Matin - G R O A N (but v. clever all the same).

    Fran - Aha! Your ma played THAT game, did she? A thing sounds unappetising, then there's all the more for her.

    Grandma Wales (I also had a Grandma Scotland) did the same. Sunday dinner, roast pork all the trimmings. Granny spies the crisp, golden crackling. "Right, children, did I ever tell you about pig killing day in Pontlottyn? O, how the little piggy screamed when his throat was cut. We washed his bladder out and used it as a football ..." and so on.

    Ma: "Now who wants crackling?"

    Children: "Just potatoes, please, nothing else."

  3. Personally, I think D Rumsfeld wins this round of slightly less than political correctness...

  4. I WAS going to do a take-off on Donald's poetry but wouldn't be able to be nearly as funny. You know, Moptop, I think that I come here for laughs, but end up finding out stuff I don't know but that you know and ..( Hold it right there, Deborah!! )
    Found poetry, for one. What an amazingly ridiculous idea! I'm off to see William Shatner do Sarah Palin. Er...

  5. Is it me or is there something unwholesome and not quite human about this man, these men? It's no coincidence they've remade 'V' - they'll be peeling their faces off come Friday. *spooky music*

    WV - antichrist... ok, I made that one up