Thursday, 3 June 2004

Loud noises at a wedding

One of the reasons why my academic achievements are unimpressive (though not altogether without distinction - how many people have failed the same degree twice?) is that my school library contained bound volumes of Punch, going back to its beginnings in 1841 (it was that sort of library).

In the later part of our schooldays we had what were officially Private Study Periods but which we all called free periods, and for three years I spent mine mostly not studying what I was supposed to, but working through these tomes.

The early years of Thackeray and Tenniel didn’t excite me much, nor did the heavy Edwardian humour, but after about 1920 almost every page had something to make me laugh. Much later, of course, the magazine sadly declined, and it is good to know that Mohammed Al Fayed’s period of ownership (1992-6) cost him £16 million.

It always kept the subtitle The London Charivari, which it acquired at the beginning because there was a popular Paris magazine called Le Charivari. I assumed the word just meant "miscellany", and was going to include it in the note describing this blog, but in fact it has a more precise meaning: A serenade of rough music, made with kettles, pans, tea-trays, etc., used in France in derision of incongruous marriages.

No comments: