On a Personal Note: The 2006 Golden Bossom Awards.

The Golden Bossom Awards are an attempt to do something sensible with my name. It’s a strange name, and, as Winston Churchill once observed, “It’s neither one thing nor the other.” In that spirit, I have decided to award the Golden Bossom Award to anyone or anything which can be described as “neither one thing nor the other”.

Credit for the original idea must go to a journalist called Mary Jackson, who wrote an article in the New English Review. With her gracious permission, I have taken her idea on board, and here is the result.

Image of the Golden Bossom Award: a golden duck-billed platypus on a wooden plinth (10.8kB)

The coveted Golden Bossom trophy is a beautiful golden duck-billed platypus which, as you may know, is not exactly a reptile but not quite a mammal — it thus epitomises the spirit of the Golden Bossoms. And so, without further ado, I present the 2006 Golden Bossom awards. Here are the top five Things That Are Neither One Thing Nor The Other, presented, in time-honoured fashion, in reverse order:

Runner-up: Sleet

Of all the things the heavens can throw at us, sleet has to be the worst. It’s a mixture of rain and snow, but cleverly manages to be neither. I actually quite like the warm, gentle rain of summer (the sort we sing about at harvest time), and a nice good thunderstorm to clear the air is pretty awesome when viewed from inside the house. Snow — at least, fresh snow — is beautiful and fun and gives you an excuse to call into work and say you can’t make it because the roads are all blocked (there are advantages to living in the back of beyond).

But sleet is a different matter altogether. It’s cold and yucky; it gets in your hair and your eyes, makes everything wet and drab, and if you’ve forgotten your gloves, your hands soon become cold, wet and raw. Sleet is distinctly unpleasant, and it is unpleasant because it isn’t really snow and it isn’t really rain.

Runner-up: Strongbow cider

Now, I grew up in the English Westcountry, and I know what cider should be like. It is a fairly potent alcoholic drink made with apples, and a pint of the stuff should be enough to make you have difficulty finding the arm of your jacket when you try to put it back on. An empty pint glass should coincide with a pleasantly light-headed sensation.

Some time ago, when I was in an Irish Pub in Frankfurt, I unwisely got myself a pint of cider. It turned out to be Strongbow. I’d never had it before, but memories of an aggressive advertising campaign in Britain should have alerted me to the fact that this was not going to be the most satisfying experience of my life.

It’s certainly not proper cider, that’s for sure. I had a pint and, disappointingly, remained stone-cold sober. Not only did I have no trouble putting my jacket back on, but the music sounded just as terrible as when I came in — a sure sign that there was so little alcohol in my drink that it had got lost on its way to my brain.

Neither can it truthfully be said that it was apple juice. It didn’t taste of apples at all; it tasted like some cheap generic brand of apple juice left to stand on a window-sill for a week, and then chilled to remove any remaining traces of flavour. It looked (and smelled) like slightly-used dishwater into which someone had accidentally spilled a thimbleful of vodka.

Strongbow: It’s not apple juice, and it’s not cider.

3rd prize: British political parties

20 years ago, British politics had guts and heart and passion. If you were in favour of encouraging small businesses, a robust foreign policy and the market economy, you voted Conservative; if you were in favour of workers’ rights, equal opportunities and the Socialist ideal, you voted Labour; and if you couldn’t quite decide on way or the other, you voted Liberal Democrat or, perhaps, Monster Raving Loony.

Those were the days when you could really have a blazing argument about policies. In the blue corner: Margaret Thatcher; in the red corner: Arthur Scargill.

So what happened? Labour moved to the right, Conservative moved to the left, and now we have a sort of mishmash of vaguely centrist policies to choose from which, depending on the colour the party manifesto has on its front cover, is either called “Compassionate Conservativsm” or “New Labour”. Voters from both sides of the political divide feel disenfranchised and disillusioned; no wonder we can’t entice them into the polling booths.

2nd prize: Chihuahuas

What are those things? They look like strange alien cats, but with the annoying bounciness and “yapyapyap” of a puppy. Any self-respecting domestic dog grows up to be the size of a small wolf and defends its master and property with a manly “Woof!” and perhaps a show of teeth. Chihuahuas sort of bounce around, say “Yip!” and look as if their legs would snap off if you dropped the creature onto a hard floor.

So they’re not dogs. Neither are they cats, because cats can look after themselves and will look at you disdainfully from time to time just to keep you on your toes. Cats are graceful and cuddly; chihuahuas are hyperactive. I’ve never really seen the point of a chihuahua.

About the only thing a chihuahua might be useful for would be if you ever had to spend half an hour in a pub with Paris Hilton. You stand a better chance of having an intelligent conversation with Tinkerbell.

And the winner is: Michael Jackson

I know, he’s an easy target, but have you ever seen anyone — or anything — that better represented the art of being neither one thing nor the other? The self-styled King of Pop can’t even decide whether he wants to be black or white: way back in his Jackson Five days he was a cute little black kid from Gary, Indiana; now, he looks like something created in a bizarre accident in the transporter room of the Starship Enterprise.

Comparison of Michael Jackson with a Cyberman (19.8kB)

Michael Jackson: Black or white? Disturbed adult or child in state of arrested development? Human or alien? Male or female? Is there any way of knowing?

And so, the winner of the 2006 Golden Bossom Awards is Michael Jackson. Congratulations, sir or madam; you can pick up a picture of your trophy from this site, and your bust will be placed in the Golden Bossom Hall of Fame, placed between two stools.

Extra copyright notice

The photograph of Michael Jackson is from the Associated Press and was taken from the BBC website. The photograph of the Cyberman is from a publicity photo of the BBC television series Doctor Who. These images are used for the purposes of satire, which is believed to qualify as fair use. Since I do not own the copyright on them, I cannot give permission for them to be used elsewhere.

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