Dabbler Diary – Sleepglue

As will have been obvious from recent diaries I was very much on the pro side of the Dabbler divide re the Olympics, but even I cannot defend everything about London 2012. On Thursday I mooched idly into the official Olympic souvenir shop at Paddington station, thinking it would be nice to pick up some piece of memorabilia or upmarket tat for my children to keep for posterity. But dear God, those Mandeville and Wenlock mascot things! And that logo! What the hell were they thinking? Even the golden afterglow of the Games cannot prettify those monstrosities. I left empty-handed. No wonder everyone assumed it would be a disaster. I seem to recall our handover bit on the Beijing Closing Ceremony was a bit dodgy too. But then Britain does have a reputation for falling at every hurdle except the last.


What’s your favourite thing about the Julian Assange fiasco? I like the way it has enabled us to distinguish the common-or-garden anti-American leftists from the out-and-out conspiracy theorist nutjobs like Oliver Stone and Michael Moore, whose argument can be summarised thus: “Julian Assange should not have to face due legal process in Sweden because America is bad.”

The case of the great mirror-licker is bit of a perfect storm for the left-wing commentariat. To take their natural position they’d have to both embrace misogyny and diss Sweden, which is of course where good leftists go when they die. This is too much for most and they’ve wisely ditched Assange. Others have simply been driven mad: try making sense of this clanging series of non-sequiturs by Seamus Milne, for example, which seems to be arguing that his crimes are probably not serious, but actually they are, and that only right-wingers want to see him extradited, but also that he should be extradited, but only on currently illegal terms.

Seamus Milne, incidentally, was the Guardian online comment editor at the time of 9/11, which is why that website was the principle British mouthpiece for the view that the people who died in the World Trade Center had it coming to them.

He is also one of Britain’s most privileged (son of a former BBC Director-General, educated at Balliol and Birkbeck) Marxists and Soviet-nostalgics. This from 2006:

For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment, captured even by critical films and books of the post-Stalin era such as Wajda’s Man of Marble and Rybakov’s Children of the Arbat. Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to western global domination.

…which copied and pasted chunks of a 2002 article in which he talks about the mass murders of communism in the same way that, say, Nick Griffin might talk about the Nazi Holocaust:

the number of victims of Stalin’s terror has been progressively inflated over recent years to the point where, in the wildest guesstimates, a third of the entire Soviet population is assumed to have been killed in the years leading up to the country’s victory over Nazi Germany. The numbers remain a focus of huge academic controversy, partly because most of them are famine deaths which can only be extrapolated from unreliable demographic data. But the fact is that the opening of formerly secret Soviet archives has led many historians – such as the Americans J Arch Getty and Robert Thurston – to scale down sharply earlier cold war estimates of executions and gulag populations under Stalin…. Despite the cruelties of the Stalin terror, there was no Soviet Treblinka, no extermination camps built to murder people in their millions.

But then here in the wicked west we have freedom of expression, and people are allowed not only to write stuff like that, twice, but can even get paid for it.


Since we Dabblers are currently banging on about eyes, I can bring up one of my favourite words. Sleepglue, being the sticky green stuff that sometimes accumulates in your eyelashes overnight and means, at its worst, that you have to force your peepers open by hand. It’s a neologism from A Clockwork Orange, as in “my glazzies were stuck together real horrorshow with sleepglue”. I’m not sure if much of Anthony Burgess’ Nadsat lingo has passed into common usage, but it should. Perhaps Mr Slang can tell us more.


Another resident expert, Susan, might be able to help with this one, which has been puzzling me for a while. What, precisely, are the differences between suave, debonair and dapper? My instinct tells me that Cary Grant is suave, Sir Roger Moore is debonair, and cricket commentator Henry Blofeld (panama, dickie-bow) is dapper. With our own Nige being at the ideal mid-point of the three. But again, one of you may know better.


NANDO’S UPDATE! The one on Southampton Place, opposite Holborn tube station, Central London. I give it 4 stars (out of a possible 5). Light and airy, food up to scratch but loses the extra mark for not having the handbaisin next to the cutlery. And alas the Fanta was off, so I couldn’t make any spezi.


Dabbler Diary is brought to you by Glengoyne single malt whisky – the Dabbler’s choice.
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17 thoughts on “Dabbler Diary – Sleepglue

  1. finalcurtain@gmail.com'
    August 28, 2012 at 08:10

    I’m sure ‘our Susan’ has an opinion, and will favour us with it – but for my money, I would remove Roger Moore entirely, and move Blowers into his slot, as he has the bearing and Etonian background to carry debonair perfectly. To be dapper, you need to be small, and from the lower orders – but anxious to elevate yourself to a point where the local golf club would welcome you, and your new-found wealth, with open arms. Perhaps I could refer you to Nige’s recent post on the much lamented Dickie (not Richard) Henderson, who seems to me to be the word dapper, distilled into human form. And if you care to scroll down to the comments, you will discover that perhaps while I was away scrumping, he probably got the leg-over with my (single) mum.

  2. becandben@gmail.com'
    August 28, 2012 at 09:29

    Debonair is dapper plus ulterior motives.

    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      August 28, 2012 at 19:51

      Of course! Thus Roger Moore.

  3. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    August 28, 2012 at 09:54

    Dan was dapper, Christine Lagarde is definitely suave and who could out-debonair Jimmy Nail.
    Poor Julian, an inferiority complex looking for someone to blame, adrift in a sea of pro-rapists. Someone, apparently, is offering a prize, for the first person to set off the Ecuadorian embassies smoke alarm.

    For those who suffer from a malady of the mince pies….visit O… E…, gloop-free peepers will ensue, the world of small print will once again bless your countenance, no more squinting, wiping or peering. Monthly contacts mate, that’s the way to do it, all is, and will be, revealed with them in, no more irate iris, lackadaisical lash or curmudgeonly cataracts, the lids will be lifted. All for the paltry sum of fifteen quid per month.

  4. jgslang@gmail.com'
    August 28, 2012 at 10:41

    Sleep-glue: The OED has, inter alia, sleep-stour, spade, gound (orig. pus), eye-streams and eye-brine. Had I my Dictionary of American Regional English at hand I might be able to improve, but slang can only offer eye booger, booger being a piece of snot. But watch this space for more eye info soon.

    For my take on Burgess & Nadsat, I have the text of a recent talk on it posted at http://jonathongreen.co.uk/

    As for the O-word and its memorabilia, the doubtless grossly overpaid ‘creators’ of these abominations justified them by the claim that ‘the kiddies’ loved them. But there are many things ‘the kiddies’ love and in most cases they grow out of them and should not be permitted to foist them on adults. We are forced, as is so often the case, to recall Phineas T Barnum’s admirable dictum as regards the impossibility of losing money so long as one recognises the bottomless depths of public taste.

    And as for America and opinions thereupon from whatever angle, might I recommend a close persual of the works of the Sage of Baltimore, the imperishable H.L. Mencken.

    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      August 28, 2012 at 19:49

      Thanks JG, fascinating Burgess lecture.

  5. markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
    August 28, 2012 at 11:17

    Thank you so much for letting me start the week having to contemplate Mr Milne. What a perfect way to call down the end of summer.

    As to his marks of priviledge, you forgo to mention that he is also a Wykehamist; the very vanguard of the working class.

  6. Gaw
    August 28, 2012 at 15:04

    How does urbane fit in? I understand that it’s construed as insulting in some quarters.

  7. john.hh43@googlemail.com'
    John Halliwell
    August 28, 2012 at 16:51

    Debonair; suave; dapper? This is David Niven to a T. I had an English teacher who must have been related to the actor: tall, slim, dressed by Savile Row, pencil thin moustache, cut-glass vowels, degrees from the University of London (What the hell was he doing in our school?) and, according to the girls, the randiest bugger in the teaching profession, with a brilliant sleight of hand that was able to twang a girl’s bra strap while leaning over her to ensure her written work demonstrated she had thoroughly grasped the grammatical construction – the split infinitive. Neither will I forget the day a robust farmer’s son discharged the loudest fart heard in the history of schoolboy flatulence and our sophisticated educator, ignoring the strangulated titterings of thirty kids, asked in a flash:
    ‘You, boy, where have you come from?’
    ‘High Legh, Sir.’
    jJet-propelled, I presume!’

    • jgslang@gmail.com'
      August 28, 2012 at 17:15

      No, JH. This is a bounder

      • john.hh43@googlemail.com'
        John Halliwell
        August 28, 2012 at 18:13

        He is indeed, Jonathon. My wife who followed me a few years later confirms your assessment. She said, with a knowing smile: ‘He was a bloody nightmare, but a very good teacher.’ I wouldn’t know about the validity of this observation; I was too busy gazing out over the school cricket field and wondering if the day would ever come when I would clear the old oak tree on the boundary edge. It never happened; is it any wonder the split infinitive remains outside my grasp?

  8. info@shopcurious.com'
    August 28, 2012 at 17:22

    I’d say Melvyn Bragg is suave, Michael Heseltine is debonair and Oswald Boateng is dapper. And there’s a new term, according to the urban dictionary: ‘Suave in da boner’ is used to describe a male who is full of himself and overly cocky when he has little or no reason to be. Who would that be then?

    By the way Brit, I’ve never had sleepglue or green slime (yuk!) sticking my eyelids together whilst asleep – though in the distant past, I’ve occasionally woken up with ‘sleepy dust’ in my eyes. Magicked up by fairies in the night, of course.

    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      August 28, 2012 at 19:41

      Sleepy dust: the sleepglue of the debonair.

  9. Worm
    August 28, 2012 at 19:28

    Whilst I agree entirely on the horrid Mandevolle and Wenlock mascots, I did think that the colour schemes used at the Olympic venues was good, with a memorable overall design (can you remember what the Sydney or Athens venues looked like inside? Me neither)

    Regarding the mysterious Spezi, here’s a Wikipedia link to prove i didnt just make it up!

  10. andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
    August 28, 2012 at 19:57

    Perhaps the difference is that dapperness can be taught, whereas suavery one has to be born with, and debonairhood accumulates imperceptibly with age.

  11. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    August 28, 2012 at 20:43

    The ultimate suave male was George Saunders, even as an exploding teacher in Children of the Village of the Damned. Suave males are frequently cads, bounders that is, not Pro Engineer or Autocad. A close runner-up would be Moriarty, the Goon Show version, talked Seagoon into drinking Loch Ness dry, now that’s suaveness.
    Susan, not sure about Hezza, more Ryanair than debonair.

    • jgslang@gmail.com'
      August 29, 2012 at 09:30

      For purists, there is a difference between a cad and a bounder. Cad, (similar to the originally Cantabridgian snob in its early use when, having meant a bootmaker, it became generic for townie/tradesman rather than an undergraduate; such tradesmen supposedly toadied to ‘collegers’ so as to profit from them, or at least their fathers), came out of Eton and Oxford jargon cad, a townsman, the implication being that such a figure could not – being in trade – be ‘a gentleman’. (In fact it was sub-trade, having first meant a coachman’s assistant and thence a bus-conductor). Thus, strictly, it always refers to a member of the lower classes. A bounder was of one’s own class but nonetheless seen as socially unacceptable or ill-mannered: lacking restraint, he ‘bounded about’ too enthusiastically. Thus 1889–90 Barrère & Leland Dict. of Slang, Jargon and Cant: Bounder (university), a student whose manners are despised by the soi-disant élite, or who is beyond the boundary of good fellowship […] (society), a swell, a stylish fellow, but of a very vulgar type.

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