Saturday, April 10, 2010

In me didst thou exist

People stop me in the street, press their webbed fingers to my breast and whisper "Please, don't". I nod, for they have understood my blog.

I'm often embarrassed by these unspoken comparisons with the giants of Internet comment - Sullivan, Geras, Blair, Daniels. I smile ruefully and explain, as my interlocutors step back and sometimes weep in awe, that I cannot claim to graze in that hallowed paddock, for my meadow is free of trolls.

A web blog worthy of the cut'n'shunt name has a least a pair of flecked buffoons staggering in and out of its comment section like a Barmouth Community Police Officer:

  • Oliver Kamm hosts clammy gatherings of Tojo apologists and the odd shires solicitor who thinks Herbert Asquith wrote Shakespeare's plays;
  • Harry's Place makes room for Odinists, Communists and, until recently, the magnificently Pooterish Benji; and
  • Cymru Rouge cadre Francis Sedgemore has to put up with a bloke from Crawley who doesn't like Lord Rothschild and, I suspect, wears elaborate undergarments fashioned for the female form.

The worst I've had to endure is:

  • being ejected from some mumsy blog ring for listing reasons why the real America is better than the Latin one;
  • a brief barracking by a Solva Stalinist for revealing the aristocratic origins and Situationist stance of Shakin' Stevens; and
  • a Popish ultra from County Durham once accused me of being a "New Labour posh Trot", but that was on another blog and so counts as spray-paint invective rather than trolling.

I drove these underarm objections into the long grass with the oiled willow of my dialectic, and therein lies the dilemma. So straight is my bat that even Trotsky would retire to the pavilion in a hail of bails, fearful that my Maoist cut and thrust might turn literal.

In addition I share the lady blogger's curse of being courted by my comment clones. Once glance at my photo and women want me, while men and the higher primates want to beat me, so all abstain from aggro for fear of forfeiting my favour.

Does this indulgence frustrate me? No, because I know my nemesis comes. For one day I shall troll myself.

I first became aware of my Doppelgänger as a student in Swansea, the Heidelberg of the Gower Peninsula hinterland. I'd entered the Inter-Collegial Eisteddfod translation competition in an attempt to impress a woman, any woman.

My rendering of Chekhov's "After The Theatre" into Welsh bore all the hallmarks of having been knocked together at the last minute, which made it a searingly honest piece of work. It came in third in a field of three, a decision that scotches the accusation that the Welsh are lacking in charity.

I trudged into the weekly self-criticism session of the college GymGym (Y Gymdeithas Gymraeg) Welsh Society, which began after apologies to the members of the Gay & Lesbian Group's Love Muscle faction who had once again been misled by the acronym.

To my surprise I was not Oswestrised for my failure. Panda-eyed Portalbot peris and Capel Seion sign painters alike rushed to laud my apparent triumph. Eisteddfod entrants compete under noms d'ardoise - flinty bardic pseudonyms - but the final bulletin also publishes their real names. I glanced at it. The winner's monicker was the same as mine.

I decided to be generous and share the credit for the other Boyo's work. Chips were bought. Harps were plucked. The English Department was daubed green in my honour. Life was good, but soon doubts crowded out the carols of crwth and cryman.

My double studied at the same small college, spoke Welsh and Russian and bore my name, yet we hadn't met. Others had, though:

  • I was cut at the Pesda première of "Cynan the Barbarian" over rumours that I scorned the Red Book of Hergest;
  • Someone said it was my grandfather who had split Flint in half; and
  • I could see their point in Monmouthshire, apparently.

It was only a matter of time before a Labour poster was stuck on my door to show the Merched Y Wawr (Provisionals) hit squad where to find me. I had to get to the bottom of this or risk being "sent to Shrewsbury", as the queasy euphemism had it.

Some enquiries in the queue for cawl uncovered several sightings of Boyo II. He looked "like a Welsh", which could mean anyone under 5'6" in love-bites and stone-washed jeans, "sang like a cormorant" and had to pluck his own cheeks.

He was nonetheless distinct enough for at least one bouncer at Cinderella's night club in Mumbles to give me the S-bend shampoo ("It's fucking tasselled fucking loafers by 'ere you Car-fucking-marthen fucking cowboy!") only ten minutes after shaking my double's hand and pointing out the cockles and custard slice free buffet.

A portfolio of like provocations persuaded my peers that this persecutor was real, at which point he vanished - taking with him my stolen moment of Chekhovian glory. Inept renderings of belle epoque ballroom terms from my translation still make it onto the "funnies" page of the Welsh baccalaureate syllabus.

My shade parted the drapes a couple of times while I was studying in London, where his priapic pursuit of inversion scuppered my coracle of love on the skerries of slander. I heard of him a couple of times in later years, when new acquaintances along the Caspian shore cited friends who had met this degenerate djinn they called Boyo.

He's faded in recent years, but I have no doubt that a comment will one day appear on my site condemning me for some motion or act between which that familiar shadow has fallen. And then I can call this a Blog.


Francis Sedgemore said...

I see that the Dear Leader has demoted me from commissar to cadre. I guess I should be thankful for correctly-placed commas.

Gorilla Bananas said...

It sounds like that episode of South Park where a good Cartman from a parallel universe comes to town and starts giving the bad Cartmsn a good name. Perhaps you should tell Mrs Boyo not to let you in the house unless she hears a password.

No Good Boyo said...

The counter-revolutionary is in the punctuation detail, Francis.

As for your cadre status, during general elections all members of the Cymru Rouge Prif Sasiwn are suspended pending investigation into their campaigning. If they are found to have done any they will receive a fair trial prior to execution.

I don't know that South Park episode, GB, but it strikes a chord. Mrs Boyo has pointed out that Boyo II might be the real deal and I'm his milksop copy, the Athena poster in the attic as it were.

She doesn't let me into the house unless something needs unblocking anyway, and summons me by switching off the pump in the shed.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I have no comment as I don't understand most of what you say. I just wanted to appear in the same comments box as Francis Sedgemore. (No offence, GB) (and NGB).

Gareth Williams said...

I've asked you this before but you ignored my question, for reasons that may be obvious.

Did you (or your Doppelgänger) spend any time in Oxford's St Antony's College Late Bar in about 1993, whilst there occasionally threatening to batter anyone who had a good word to say about the culturally suicidal Welsh gentry of the Tudor period? If it wasn't you (or him) it must have been someone who was uncannily like you (or him).

Francis: nice photo.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I suppose being called "Boyo" in Wales does have its downside, like being called Jock, Paddy, Kiwi etc in a British WWII film - at the drop of a hat one is expected to fulfil all the cultural stereotypes for which one's nation is famed, in your case using literature as a means to get laid.

No Good Boyo said...

Daphne, it is a true honour to seek proximity to our quondam commissar for the abolition of non-agricultural education and denial of bourgeois science. Especially now that he's in his Donald Sutherland phase, judging by the photo.

Gaw, I apologise for not replying before as I must have missed the question. The answer is Yes, that must have been me. I used to hang out at St Antony's with a fast crowd of slow East Europeanists while working at Oxford Analytica. I'm still down on Tudors, but prefer streetwise dissing to drunken brawling.

And that, Gadjo, is why I was expelled from Wales.

Francis Sedgemore said...

Gosh. Do you think (the photo) will get me laid?

Gareth Williams said...

Francis, it would probably get you a part on Dr Who as a member of that council of Time Lords. Timothy Dalton's a member too and he used to be James Bond. So it might mean you're in there.

Francis Sedgemore said...

I have no desire to shag Timothy Dalton.

Brit said...

And that's why he was the worst Bond (and Roger Moore was the best).

No Good Boyo said...

I'm glad to say Dalton's not Welsh, despite claims to the contrary. It's a shame he's used up Wales's go at doing a Bond, as Shaky looks the part.

Moore was my favourite too. Guaranteed to piss off earnest 007niks, that.

You need to find Julie Christie's number fast, Francis.

Ian Plenderleith said...

This post is a condensed version of Philip Roth's Operation Shylock. (All women who have also read that book and are impressed by my comment, please form an orderly queue.)

No Good Boyo said...

I've only read one Roth, like most shallow types of my age, so thanks for pointing out the startling similarity.

The ladies who were impressed by the subtle references in my post to both my and Roth's ur-text, Poe's "William Wilson", may care to remain here.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

"I cannot claim to graze in that hallowed paddock"

Yeah, but at least we, microbloggers, graze on grass not poisoned by high altitude eagle guano bombing.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

"And that's why he was the worst Bond (and Roger Moore was the best)."

Finally I can die peacefully knowing that I am not alone on this planet. Hallelujah.

No Good Boyo said...

Mind you, Snoop, you were invaded by that Hamas-lovin' American woman and her friends a while back. But then you did provoke her, what with being Israeli and still alive and that.

It's not too late to bring back Roger. Daniel Craig has rehabilitated blondes. The K-Man is reading Moore's autobiography, and says it's "nae dreek".

Ms Scarlet said...

I was reminded of The Man Who Haunted Himself... bizarrely, Roger Moore featured...

Kevin Musgrove said...

You need always to carry a silver-backed mirror, just so that you can prove who you are.

No Good Boyo said...

Funny you should mention it, Scarlett. I often recall a joke one of the hero's kids tell him near the start of that film - "What lies at the bottom of the ocean and shakes?" "A nervous wreck".

Mirrors are banned from the House of Boyo, Kevin. Mrs Boyo's relatives just don't like them.

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