A Bit of a Dandy
Tainy of Abydos
Lord Harley of Mislingford
Entered the Purple Wood 2016
A similar version of the following conversation did actually take place in around 1965.
I changed our names to avoid embarrassing either Simon or myself.
Simon, for some reason, liked to roll in stuff. On our first meeting, aged 5, he invited me to roll in a pile of wet grass cuttings, which I declined. He seemed hugely disappointed and I remember feeling inadequate. Unworthy of his friendship. More disturbingly, he was then keen to put builders sand down his pants. I later found out that this was more of a habit than an experimental expansion into the world of 'stuff''. To this day, I cannot imagine why I agreed to try it as an alternative to rolling in wet grass cuttings.
If anyone out there is now thinking "that sounds worth a try", I advise you to spend a lot less time on the internet. But Simon did teach me the word "cunt" for which I am eternally grateful.
Should you happen to be married to someone called Simon, aged around 56 or 57, who still likes to stick bits of grass into the eye of his penis, give him my regards.
This is a short extract from the book...
‘Hello little jumpy hoppy thing. Do you want to come and roll in stuff with me?’ were the first words that Dandy had said to him. Dandy had seen other rabbits before but they seem terrified of him and he had given up chasing them around. This one seemed very different in his little blue and white striped shorts. Dandy continued to stare and sniff at him from two inches in front of his face.
‘Can you stop sniffing me for a start, I’m not a dog.’ Basil was now beginning to recover his composure. ‘And no, I don’t want to roll in stuff. Especially not in these shorts.’
‘What shall we do then Jumpy Hoppy Thing?’
‘I’m not doing anything. And I’m Basil by the way.
And I’m hungry. Got any food?’
‘Only carrots. That any good?’
‘Carrots!’ exclaimed Dandy. ‘Bang on. Let’s have some then!’
‘Well you could at least tell me your name first. And the word please wouldn’t go amiss.’
‘Ok then, give me a carrot and I’ll take you somewhere interesting.’
‘That’s not please either.’
‘No, it’s a deal. You don’t need to say “please” in a deal apparently.’
‘What does “apparently” actually mean?’
‘I don’t actually know.’
‘What’s your name?’
‘Don’t you know?’
‘Well obviously not, or I wouldn’t have asked.’
‘I thought everyone knew my name. I’m A Bit of a Dandy.’
‘A bit of a knobhead more like.’
‘What’s a knobhead?’
‘I don’t know but you’re probably one. I heard Dr Ingoldsby shout it at the postman when he threw the letters over the gate during one of their usual arguments last week. He said he was a rude and ignorant little knobhead whose mother stank of Oakridge cat piss.’
‘Oh dear, what did they argue about this time?’
‘Same old stuff really. Miley, Miley and Miley.’
‘Yes, Miley had a go at me once.’
‘Yeah, me too. What did you do?’
‘I didn’t do anything. Mum just kicked her in the face. Not really hard, but enough so that she had to have stitches. She doesn’t do anything to me now. How about you?’
‘Carney had a word with her. She didn’t do anything to hurt me but she’s just so scary when she chases you about. I don’t think she realises what a beast she is. Anyway, she’s fine now.’
‘Well at least that makes us on the same side Baz.’
‘Yes, I guess it does Bit.’
‘Yeah, it’s short for “A Bit of a Dandy”.’
‘Why can’t you just call me Dandy like everyone else?’
‘Well it sounds a bit poncey in a gang.’
‘A gang? Am I in a gang?’
‘You are now.’
‘Who’s in the gang?’
‘So far, you and me. Bit and Baz.’
‘The Bit and Baz gang? I’m not being called Bit.’
‘You have to now. That’s the name you’ve been given.’
‘You’re not the boss.’
‘Yes I am, it’s my gang.’
‘How is it your gang? There wasn’t a gang until a minute ago. I should be in charge as I’m the biggest.’
‘Yes, but I’m the oldest. You can’t have a boss who’s the youngest in the gang can you?’
‘No, I suppose not. If we get some younger ones in, can we take it in turns?’
‘Yeah, of course we can.’
‘Okay, but I’m not being called Bit. It sounds, well, small. I want to be called Dirk.’
‘Dirk?! That sounds worse than Dandy’ said Basil, now laughing at the thought of a horse called Dirk.
‘Well Baz sounds a bit like a spaz and that can’t be good.’
‘What’s a spaz?’
‘I don’t know but Dr Ingoldsby was shouting “you fucking spaz” at someone through the hedge and he was really angry. The other person shouted back “I’m gonna ram this walking stick up your fat arse, you public school cunt”. So it can’t be a good thing can it?’
‘No, I don’t like any of that. Why don’t we just stick with Dandy and Basil for now?’
Good idea Baz. Sorry, Basil. Come on, let me show you this interesting place.’
Okay Dandy, I’ll grab some carrots for the journey. Is it far? I don’t like going too far away from the garden. Can we make a den there?’
‘What’s a den?’
‘A secret hideout. Somewhere only we know about. The gang headquarters.’
‘Yes, definitely. There’s loads of places to hide in the Copse.’
‘Right let’s get going then.’ And they stuffed Basil’s shorts with as many carrots as they could hold. They laughed out loud as Basil waddled across the paddocks behind Dandy.
‘By the way Basil, what’s a cunt?’
‘No idea mate, but if it came from Dr Ingoldsby it definitely won’t be a good thing.’
And so began the meeting that over time developed into a special friendship and bond that would come to be tested in adversity even if Dandy felt rather disappointed in Basil’s lack of enthusiasm to roll in stuff.