Sorry, You’re Not My Stereotype

I now have an author site on Amazon UK and US (Canada doesn’t seem to have been offered them), and it has surprised me by turning up this book (which I think must be a US large print edition).

At first I thought it might be a Dadaist artifact by Marcel Duchamp, then I decided it was a guide to deer skeletons, but I couldn’t work out why there was a balloon hanging from the antlers. Then I realised it was a bowler hat (not that I’ve ever seen anyone wearing one, except in old movies) in which case, if the whole thing is to scale, the teeny tiny Union Jack must be the pocket handkerchief of the giant who wears the hat. But that doesn’t explain what the silhouette bottom right is – someone’s underwear hanging in a tree, perhaps?

Being a designer for very short-sighted people is the kind of job you wouldn’t want to brag about. It’d be a bit like being a composer for the deaf. I mean, my eyesight’s not bad but I couldn’t work out what it was. Perhaps just putting the title in 45pt bright red type would have been better?

I’m sure it was well-intended, but if you showed a bowler hat around my neighbourhood, most people would tell you that they died out in the late 1930s, along with spats and arrow-collar shirts. How long does it take for stereotypes to die out? We don’t think Americans wander about in ten gallon hats, or that the French wear stripey jumpers.

The English are consistently characterised as being Hollywood villains, drugged up rock-gods, foxy but cruel women, posh Victorians or stupid cockneys.

Admittedly, the English character is an unusually complex one, and something even we tend to forget is that it is a nation of two halves. Now, a new book called ‘The Wit And Wisdom Of The North’ reminds me why I love Northern comic novel writers like Keith Waterhouse, Peter Tinniswood and the like.

Their fatalist attitude is typified by Morrissey. When asked ‘When and where were you happiest?’ he promptly replied ’21 May, 1959′ (the day before he was born). Sting once said that Newcastle was a great place to bring up your food. But a favourite quote in the book is from interviewer Nancy Banks-Smith who said ‘Nigel Havers is surprisingly testy for a man with tassels on his cushions.’
And here’s a good example of Northern humour from Kitty.


7 comments on “Sorry, You’re Not My Stereotype”

  1. Part of the silhouette looks like a JCB digger… or, if you meant a finer detail than that, I’m very short-sighted too. (I suspect you may have and I might be. JCB diggers and underwear really aren’t the two most confusible things in the world.)

  2. I.A.M. says:

    I agree it’s a digger machine. Why said digger is on top of a building and is gouging out what must be the airspace 15 feet above the road in front of St. Pancras International Station is not clear, however. I’ll be in the area Tuesday afternoon, so I’ll have a look to see what it’s doing.

  3. Mike Cane says:

    >>>I’m sure it was well-intended, but if you showed a bowler hat around my neighbourhood, most people would tell you that they died out in the late 1930s…

    Eh? Wot? So what was that thing on top of Steed’s head in The Avengers that I watched in the 1960s?

    Oi! Mind out of the gutter!

  4. Oi! I went to England in the early to mid-seventies, and I actually saw real live breathing people wearing bowler hats and carrying rolled-up umbrellas! Lots of them every day. Both in London and Bristol. Have I been taken in by some localized space-time phenomenon which allowed me to glimpse the thirties? 0____o’

    As for French people not wearing striped jerseys, you’d be hard-pressed to convince the Americans. Or that they don’t sport berets and short moustaches. And carry rings of garlic… And of course attend Jerry Lewis movie marathons…

  5. Steve says:

    What about umbrellas and bicycles? They’re assumed by people who have never been there to be ubiquitous as well. Actually umbrellas make sense if you’re living in London; I always carry a small fold-up type when I’m there. The stereotype type (?) is full size. The whole business men in “The Magic Christian” pulling money out of the sewers while sporting a stiff upper lip, bowler hat – the works. That’s how many Americans still see Brits. Me? My iphone ringtone is the theme from “Midsomer Murders”.

  6. Jackon says:

    Just what exactly do you believe is the best blog application to make use of for someone with a rather restricted experience of technology?

  7. hey people… thanks, but why the hell does this underwear seem to be red??

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