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Cluster F**k

According to a wise old Dorset saying, "Crap comes not in single turds but in battalions" and, as we prepare to leave Lockdown #58 only hours before entering Lockdown #59 [aka Universally-applicable Extreme Tier Restrictions], it is well to remember the warning implicit in this homespun yet proven sore. When the sh*t hits the fan, it is, after all, only God's way of telling you the ceiling will need wiping down as well as the walls and floors*. And there we have yet another empirical [and experiential] constant. How often did grannie tell you that bad things come in threes - Los Trios Paraguayos and the Beverley Sisters not excluded!

* recommends Cut'the'crap Premier Grade Sh*te Remover, the industrial cleaner every professional prefers from Threadbone Heavy Chemicals Ltd - available at all good DIY stores.

Happily good things can also appear in packages of three and we were delighted to have yet another tranche of John Bull Magazine covers "drop" on the virtual doormat yesterday - doubtless in response to the previous two features. Equally, as grannie also knew - multiple instances of luck [good and bad] do not always take exactly the same form and in this case we have had a freely-shared resource, what might possibly be interpreted as a complaint and now a rare rediscovery.

Magazine cover expert, Ayfur Fowldes writes:

John Bull Magazine's in- house cover artist Bill Beezneez at work in 1965

On Holiday with Professor Thrupiece is yet another example of John Bull Magazine's obsession with the distinguished culinary bio-ethicist in the 1950s and 60s. Catnip for its female readers, a role model for male adults and an inspiration to children, the publishers simply could get enough of a man whose image sold copy and whose exploits enthralled every generation. The September 10th 1965 Edition was in fact a reworking of a theme that had proven popular many times before - wealthy older man keen on golf and a snifter at the 19th hole drops off bored wife, step-daughter and unplanned twins at the beach. Well aware of the controversial nature of the image [who is she cosying up to whilst he's teeing off, are the twins his, is she only after his big wadge and is she hoping a long drive at the 16th will do for his dodgy ticker? etc etc] the image is, in effect, legitimised by the reassuring presence of Professor Thrupiece in the rear of the car. Though some have been inclined to interpret the scene maliciously - is Professor Thrupiece the real father of the twins, born out of some unseemly menage a trois? - most accept that he is carefully placed by the artist to reassure us that Dorset and England can rest at ease: nothing untoward is going to happen "on his watch"*.

* see Tag Heuer: "On the face of it: Professor Thrupiece and his watches", Dorset Journal of Horology, July 1976.

Disturbing or reassuring? From the day of publication onwards, "On holiday with Professor Thrupiece" has divided a reading nation's opinion.

That said, I believe that the picture still raises a number of dark and potentially disquieting questions. For example, is the woman staring longingly at the pier in anticipation of an assignation or is she avoiding eye-contact with her increasingly estranged husband because she can no longer stand the sight of the near-centre-parted whisky-soaked rué? Why has she brought so much luggage to the beach and why is he willingly complicit in helping her offload it? Why has her daughter packed so hurriedly whilst, in stark contrast, the unwanted twins carry only the remnants of a fishing expedition in the form of a dead serpent? [The serpent was both an ancient and a Renaissance symbol of the devil and by extension of sin - a dead one of deadly sin. Makes you think! [Ed].] And most puzzling of all: why pink trousers and why so many mashies and so few niblicks? The questions simply go on**.

**Might it be that a perfectly happy family has had a perfectly good week at the seaside and is now packing up to go home. All are experiencing a sense of anti-climax and so each, in his or her own way, gazes longingly at what they are about to leave behind? Only the strong father figure is able to mask his tearfulness as he applies himself in a properly practical and masculine way to the task at hand [Picture Ed]. Don't be facetious [Ed].

Whatever the truth of the matter, On Holiday with Professor Thrupiece is a classic of the genre and, in the unlikely event that a decent copy ever comes on the market, worth close to a fiver of anyone's money.

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