Historical Reviews of Contemporaneous Interest
Retrieved from the SpecGram Archives by Tish O’Clair and Colin Fait
Our archives overflow with testimonials and reviews of SpecGram—good, bad, and indifferent—from ages past up to the present. Most of the
crackpots valued readers who write to us to tell us what they think of us are inconsequential nobodies just normal people, but occasionally we have gotten praise or scorn from those who turn out to be historically important figures. As such, we have decided to share some of their thoughts with you crackpots valued readers who are, like us, inconsequential nobodies just normal people.
The following reviews of SpecGram are, to the best of our knowledge, genuine.
As monarchs of England and Great Britain go, the general consensus is that I have been mediocre at best. Errors of judgement both early and late in my interminable reign include my facile credulity as to the alleged pregnancy of Lady Flora Hastings, nuzzling up too close to Lord Melbourne, persistent opposition to the fledging Women’s Rights movement, and refusal to do my job after dear old Bertie died. I’ll level with you guys: I haven’t been very good! Frankly, I’d have been better in a mid-ranking secretarial or retail supervisory position instead of Empress of India! Anyway, other than my faith in God and my darling children, the one thing that has kept me going (and going!) was my SpecGram subscription. There’s not a lot to do on the Isle of Wight in the late 19th century, but when my copy of SpecGram comes through, I’m taken up and off into a magical land of linguistic satiricism far away from the dowdy reality of palaces and manicured gardens. Packed with jokes and japes of all kinds, I can spend up to an hour-and-a-half enjoying the zany left-field commentary and working out the obscurantist humour before returning to some knitting or sitting for another portrait. So, if you’re out of your depth in a hereditary, head-of-state role that you didn’t ask for and can’t do, plug into SpecGram: it kept me going for 6 decades! Good luck!
The Lady with the Lamp they’ve called me, serenely floating hither and thither along the gloomy corridors of Crimean medical facilities, ever ready to minister a touch of nursing sympathy to the brave lads of the British army. But what history fails to record is what I was reading to those poor young men. It won’t surprise you to know that on Sundays it was the Bible: in my opinion, there’s very little else of importance in revitalising health than the nourishment that the Lord’s Word provides (other than hygienic operating conditions, lots of bandages and bedsheets and a logistically watertight supply chain for essential medicines). But on Monday to Saturday, I experimented with various other kinds of reading matter to help inspire my brave boys on my nightly rounds. And what seemed, unsurprisingly on reflection, to have the most beneficial effect was of course SpecGram. Its light hearted lingua-humour, replete with obscure references to esoteric concepts and theories, hit just the right note with the barely literate 17-year-olds from Newcastle and Swansea that the British government had shipped over to Crimea. What’s more, when the Kindle version came out, I was able to dispense with the Lamp which had become my epithet—but by then the war was almost over and ‘Lady with the Lamp’ with its elegant alliteration was how I would become immortalised. Anyway, top nursing tips: check their temperature, fluff up the pillows—but most important of all, read them SpecGram, even if you only have a candle.
Nurse Flo (Miss).
Henry V of England
By George, have I got a few famous lines of English ascribed to me! ‘Once more down to the beach, dear friends, once more!’; ‘... that caught the bus upon Craig Bespin’s day’; ‘Small swings are steady, if we climb them slow’. (Some are so good even Churchill nicked ’em, the chain-smoking old duffer!) And that’s the heart ’n’ soul of kingship, readers: stir ’em up with a touch of royal rhetoric and a couple of hundred archers’ll take down wave on wave of charging Valois cavalry. Trust me! But where’d I get this rhetorical excellence from, you ask! Well, it certainly wasn’t traipsing around Wales chasing that scamp Owain Glyndŵr in the 14-noughties. No indeed! Instead my training came from my monthly delivery of SpecGram. The intricacy of thought, the range of topics, the elegantly engineered argument, all wrapped up in my favorite subject (after war, drinking, fighting, whoring, power-broking, marching, punishing traitors and Salic Law)—linguistics; it taught me all I needed to know to get a rough-and-tumble horde of dysentery-ridden English-, Welsh- and Irishmen across half of northern France in the rain. Comes in useful if you’re hittin’ on a French Princess, too: Cath was giggling her head off when I rattled off a few Ockhamian limericks. So: ‘Cry ‘havoc’, and let slip the dogs of war!’? Yeah, OK. But only after we’ve checked in on this month’s SpecGram editorial and had a good ol’ chuckle at University News. Top stuff!
More to come...