Thursday, 6 December 2007


I think I can assert without fear of contradiction that, to speak in the vernacular, the name “Dudley” has had its day. That said nomenclature has an aspect of more than merely faded glory, is an atavism, a relic. Unpopular perhaps even reviled.

It is, for instance, an easily verifiable statistical FACT that since 1953 no children born in what we may now, more justifiably than ever, given the rectitude of this situation, call the Civilized World, have been so named.

Naturally YOU will not believe me or value my extensive research, imagining you have found a hint of prejudice rather than either prudence or preference in my prior proposals. Oh Yes! I know the modern mind, its desire to undermine TRUTH and FACT and its suicidal willingness to unpick, finger by finger, our grip upon these ideas, upon this, if you’ll pardon my conceit, philosophic ledge from which we hang suspended, the inky black and bottomless pit of relativism gaping sickeningly beneath us.

Break the world down! Deconstruct! Seek perspectives that contradict the already weak and half-hearted apologetically perspectival assertion that some palsied coward has allowed himself, full though he is of guilty trembling, to make. Tunnel through higher or lower strata of assessment in an attempt to supersede or undermine the issue! Grub about endlessly in the murky netherworld of your own subconscious or plummet, a pale and directionless speck, through a groundless, abstract Universe!

Anything but believe and assert, act or affirm.

JUST ONE DUDLEY IN THE PUB DOWN THE ROAD! ONE FRIEND OF A FRIEND WHO CORRESPONDS WITH A 17 YEAR OLD DUDLEY IN HANOVER WHOSE HOBBIES ARE SKATING AND PHILATELY! Just one such discovery and you may rub your doubter’s hands in glee as the whole edifice comes crashing down.

Search away. I’m telling you, its-a-fucking-FACT!

But I digress.

What is it about the name Dudley that makes the flesh creep so, as if the very hand of death were resting a gentle, admonitory finger upon our tender napes, when we are scarcely likely to meet a Dudley nor consequently form from experience some truly accurate notion of what such a name signifies? Perhaps the name conjures horror because of its very lack of contemporaneity. It catapults us back to some time when the enlightenments of our present technological age were in their infancy. It draws us back to, not an age of barbarism, but an age without Video and Multiplexes and Malls, without drugs or coolness or youth. A brilliantined, ration-booked world of adults, austerity and work.

Ahhh! How we feel the tragedy and poignancy of a past that suffered pitiably on without the improvements and accoutrements that make our lives so profoundly the better and more NOW. We pity the past but are disgusted by it. We
pity the past like we pity a tramp or a cripple.

But I digress.

In essence it, Dudley, is unfashionable and there can be nothing that offends us more. I use the term unfashionable in its commonly understood sense though in this context the word must be imbued with an additional gravity. We must say that it is deeply, nay, subterraneously unfashionable. If what is transcendental about, indeed the very essence of, contemporary fashion is instantaneous irrelevance coupled with a capacity at any given time to be reclaimed and lionised then perhaps even ‘deeply’ unfashionable does not adequately describe the status that ”Dudley” holds.

It is perhaps either sub or supra fashionable. I assure you that as the hand of kitsch picks its way through Late Capitalism’s various rummage bins it will never flick its winsome fingers over Dudley and pause with a smirk to consider how amusing it may be to salvage this grubby antiquity. Oh no! Even Horace or Douglas may again have their day, but Dudley? Never!

Dudley Moore cannot, of course, escape our scrutiny though doubtless both he and I wish it were otherwise. To scrutinise Dudley More is to gaze into The Pit. The ruin of
his face, the charnel fetor of his breath. A cocoon of shredded flesh congealed around the eggy, flatulent wisp he calls his soul. His dearth of talent. Truly man and name live in horrid symbiosis, the spiritual and physical ugliness of one reflected in the telling appropriateness of
the other. I have never met him but can well imagine the sibilant hiss of his laboured breathing, the weak and rheumy apologies for eyes. This last, solitary Dudley, name-bearer of a long chain of the outcast and despised.

What infernal impulse could have prompted his parents to so hobble their child with this name and send him wincing and flinching through life subjected to the righteous and proper anger of more wholesome men?

But then the eternal quandary looms vis-à-vis CHICKEN/EGG. Did they choose the name or did some unclean spirit, some nefarious other agency recognize one of its own and move through them? Did the name choose the boy? Hovering hawk-like, waiting to swoop upon its victim?

Who can speak with authority about such things?

They may, I fear, forever be mysteries.

Imagine how his flightless, insectile heart must scuttle after the possibility that there is another so named out there somewhere whom the scrupulous recording and collating efforts of the Draconian bureaucracy that sustains our Free World has missed. How he must hanker after one who has suffered as he has, a shoulder to cry on, a living mirror in whom he can see his own scars and bruises reproduced.

An impossible dream, for as I have made absolutely plain, THERE ARE AND SHALL BE NO MORE! As likely to find a Tasmanian serving behind your local Bar or a Dodo roosting in the shade of that apple tree of fond boyhood memory which, on every visit to your ailing parent’s home brings back tingling memories of Uncle Bert’s rough hands, the calloused palm, the thick, intrusive fingers.

But I digress.

Can it be any accident that the shortened version of Dudley is Dud and that this word has come to mean and I quote from the Dictionary here.......

DUD(informal) ~n 1) A person or thing that proves ineffectual or a failure.

He’s a dud, its a dud etc. May I suggest that we convert the noun into an adjective and, rather as love begat lovely, dud shall beget dudley!

If a lamp is useless or fails pathetically to conform to those standards by which a proper lamp is assessed may we not say it is dudley?

A late summer sunset sequestered in the grape arbour savouring the piquancy of young boyhood’s musky vitality as it rolls off the five strong youths sweating in their horseplay just feet away from your furtive, quivering nostrils is a delight. A pile of dogshit is dudley.

Staying at a friends house and sleeping in the warm, redolent bed of the teenage son who is away for the weekend produces a healthy, vigorous pleasure. Pushing your hand, on the first night, under his one thin pillow only to discover a soiled and viscid tissue is now adhering to ones fingers is, however, dudley.

Pain is dudley. Death is dudley. Dudley is, of course, dudley.

But not for long!

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