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Sunday 24th November 2013


I had some afternoon fun on Twitter with my Lord Sugar football score retweeting service. It literally never gets old. Or the more it gets old the funnier it somehow becomes. Spurs were losing badly and Lord Sugar was giving the team he was once chairman of short shrift. I enjoyed it when he asked, "Is there a Spurs historian out there to advise what is worst loss they have had ?  9-0.  10-0 ?"

I liked the idea of someone working as a Spurs historian and wondered at the likelihood of that person being on Twitter and reading Lord Sugar's tweets (unless he or she is an historian who, like me, relies on Sugar for the scores). But also wondered why Lord Sugar seems so in the dark about how the internet works. If it was not bad enough that he feels the need to update scores for all those people on the internet with no access to the information, he doesn't realise that it's pretty easy to use a search engine to find out the info. I did if for Lord Sugar within a minute, tweeting,  "I am not  a Spurs historian, but I can use google. It's 0-8 to Koln in 1995" - something that Lord Sugar should really recall as I am told he was the chairman at that time.

I filled him in with more info "they lost 7-0 to Liverpool in 1978 and lost 8-2 to Derby in 76. Have never let in 9 goals. Until today? Only you can decide."

There was no reply or note of thanks, but Lord Sugar is a busy man and may not have realised that Twitter has a reply function and was expecting to get the news by letter or by Amstrad emailer (if the Spurs historian was in no rush to get the info to him). So I tweeted, "if you're curious about other records and have no access to a Spurs Historian check out the internet -"

Sugar didn't acknowledge my hard work on his behalf, instead choosing to tweet, "Arsenal and Man U players are told to fight like tigers and never give up. Spurs pansies are worried they might crack their toenail varnish." This was remarkable for two reasons. Firstly and most astonishingly Sugar had failed to use the mention of toenails to plug Inventor Tom's Stylfile or baby toe clippers, which he seems to do at every other opportunity, but secondly it was the first use of the word "pansies" (to mean something other than the flowers" that I had seen for at least a quarter of a century.

It used to be a word that was bandied around on TV and even children's comics to indicate a man of effeminate or homosexual tendancies, but thanks to political correctness gone correct this word has disappeared from the public lexicon (though it's apparently still in Lord Sugar's dictionary). It jarred to see it again, but also made me realise how much things can change in the course of a couple of decades. It's not the most hateful of words, but it is possibly the most pathetic and speaks of a different time and a different attitude. And by different I mean worse. This is the world that UKIP and other reactionaries hark back to. But a world where "unmanliness" was so childishly dismissed and male sensitivity was seen as a terrible thing, is not a good world.

@Firegal_01 tweeted, "Curious about the etymology of pansy to denote weakness given it's the only flower I know that survives cold winters."

Then Paul Harfleet, the man behind something called, The Pansy Project (he plants a pansy at sites where homophobic abuse has occurred) tweeted, "It comes from the French "Pensee" meaning thought = associated with thoughtfulness & effeminate men"... "It was thought to have a 'face' bowing as if in deep thought! Interesting isn't it...?"

This is why Twitter is still a fantastic medium, despite all the shit that goes on. That is a fascinating fact and again shows the dark and ignorant place where an insult like this can come from. That thoughtfulness could be equated with being effeminate is pretty much insulting to everyone, not least the people using the insult. That thinking about stuff could be seen as a negative. Better to not consider or feel anything and be the kind of ridiculous manchild who thinks that calling someone a pansy is a worthwhile thing to do. In this case I am very happy to be a pansy. I am glad to be thoughtful (most of the time) and I don't even have a problem with displaying attributes that are supposedly the province of women (if caring and feeling and having empathy are unmasculine then I'd rather be a feminine). Can you even imagine those bone-headed idiots who created this idea. "Look at him, thinking about stuff like a woman would. Bloody pansy!" You might as well punch yourself in the face as create that as an insult. Or shout, "I don't think or care about anything!" Which I suppose is still the attitude of people who wonder why we no longer use words like "pansy".

But kudos to Paul Harfleet for what he's doing and for that excellent fact about the etymology (what a pansyish word to use). There seem a lot of good reasons to reclaim the word pansy, though, but maybe it's one that should be used for anyone, male or female, straight or gay who considers and cares about stuff.

I don't even mind people still using it in a derogatory sense now that I know they are in essence being proud of their own ignorance and lack of consideration. So thanks to Lord Sugar for both reminding me of how we once were and leading me to find out a fact. It's food for thought. Food for pansies.

The RHLSTP video with Stephen Merchant is now available to download from

Or buy all eight videos for just £15. It's the perfect Christmas gift. Just send your chosen person the log in details and they get about ten hours of comedy chat from eight of the top comedians in the country: Merchant, Pegg, Noble, O Briain, Jupp, Hart, Hound and Khorsandi. I am in it too (though not so much in the Ross Noble one).

Eleven years of blogging now completed. But we'll celebrate in the anniversary issue and my 12th entry for the 25th November.

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