Friday, 1 October 2010

Damp squids: a retrospective

On the table in front of me is a DVD - the most recent season of The IT Crowd.  Inside the sleeve is a personalised note to me from the show's creator, Graham Linehan.  To explain how this got here I need to go back a bit

Born at an early age in a woodcutter's cottage, I faced massive difficulties during my formative years as a result of my aversion to pineapple.

Hang on, that's probably going a little too far back.

I've been a fan of Graham Linehan since he co-wrote Father Ted with Arthur Mathews in the 90s.  He also had a hand in the first series of Black Books, another favourite of mine.  The IT Crowd carries on with the theme of extraordinary things happening in relatively normal situations, and has been well-received, according to the rigorous survey I carried out on myself just now.

I've followed Linehan on Twitter for some time, because it's useful to know about new things he's got coming up.  And so should you, once you've gone and seen the aforementioned comedy series, available in all good stores and probably quite a few crappy ones too.

Back in April he asked his followers to give him examples of misunderstood sayings.  I remembered an old work colleague who referred to things failing as being 'a bit of a damp squid'.  We'd tried to correct her - the saying is 'damp squib', squib being a type of firework.  Dampness being a Very Bad Thing Indeed for all things incendiary, this is a good analogy for failure.  She countered, using the infinite confidence of the crushingly misguided, and said that as squid were indeed marine creatures, they were meant to be damp.  QED.  Or something.

"Yes, but," we'd replied.  Then, realising we were doing the equivalent of explaining quantum physics to a domestic cat, we left it there.

I relayed this on Twitter to Graham, in 140 characters, leaving out the domestic cat reference, and thought nothing more of it.

Three months later and the final episode of The IT Crowd is airing.  Hark at me with my industry language.  There's a scene where one of the main characters, Roy, innocently uses the phrase 'a bit of a damp squid'.  Cue hilarity from other characters, including Jen, who Roy had corrected earlier in the episode for her use of 'pedal stool' instead of 'pedestal'.

The following morning I tweeted Graham about the line, not really expecting a reply.  Within an hour I got this:

Graham Linehan Glinner
@fatboyfat was that you? If I'm in time, you'll get a credit on the DVD. If not, you'll get a DVD!
I think I may have had a moment.  Not only had one of my favourite TV writers actually replied to me, but something I'd contributed had led to a line on a proper telly show.  OK, it was six words, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Time passed.  We all got distracted by a woman putting a cat into a wheelie-bin and Charmin toilet paper changing its name.  Again.

Then this morning I received a padded envelope from Talkback Thames, containing a copy of season 4.  And inside the sleeve was this handwritten note:
"Hey Phil, hope this is as good as a credit!  Best, Graham Linehan"
Now that's classy.  I am officially tickled bandy.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some TV to watch.

2 comments:

Tom said...

Ok, another silly Yankee question. WTH is "tickled bandy"?!
Oh, and brilliant job on getting a line in a show!

fatboyfat said...

I love the fact that there's a bit of America where words like 'pillock' are gaining traction.

Tickled bandy = really, really pleased.

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