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.
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.)
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.