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The Sniffer - Issue No. Ten

The Sniffer - Issue No. Ten

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Published by The Sniffer
Issue Number Ten of The Sniffer, the biweekly newsletter that accompanies The Ballad of Cocky the Fox.
Issue Number Ten of The Sniffer, the biweekly newsletter that accompanies The Ballad of Cocky the Fox.

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Published by: The Sniffer on Sep 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Fit the Tenth is the filmic fit. Even before we start reading it, our recollections prime us. Frodo the Fox and his good-natured Gollum have crossed into Mordor. They trudge on in search of something. A ring? Not literally, no. But perhaps metaphorically and metaphysically. A dazzle of realization; a platonic ideal; a circularity that resurrects the faded Nietzschean folly of eternal recurrence.
And the cinematic brush dapples the canvas itself. Right up front we are told to treat Cocky and his sidekick as actors. Champion doesn’t just copy Cocky’s battle blabber; he steals his “lines”. A little later, vulpine Hardy dresses down leporine Laurel: “Another fine mess, and so on.” And then we cut away to a combine harvester; we see it on the screen, or imagine we see it, symbolically separating wheat from chaff; it turns a corner and then the scene is done. We were on to something and now that something is confirmed. “AND... SCENE!” barks a voice from the ethereal director’s

chair. We are not reading a novel; we are watching a film that has been rendered as a novel. Randall and Corvin swoop down and strut about on set like feathered Coens or Wachowskis. They started their career as actors too. Gary and Martin Kemp in raven drag as Krays. Keeping the Borough neat and tidy; swording spivs in snooker halls; drinking tea with Mum. They ran the show in front of camera but now they’ve stepped behind. So we’re meant to see the Du Noirs as directors. But I bring my exegetic ragbag of experience to the text and I end up with a different view. The biopic of the brutal East End brothers that starred those Spandau Ballet ponces was produced by another beastly pair. Not brothers, these two. Old pals who grew up in pre-gentrified Islington. An Islington of beered-up terrace threats at Highbury. Of fathers, sons and grandsons gulping pints together in corner pubs. Of sharp tacks taking some gullible cunt for a ride. And our two producers were those sharp tacks.


Stories of them abound. They once took Chris Rea’s money and let him make his shitty Ferrari film; they laughed and counted as it flopped. I worked for them twice when I wanted to prove that I was a sharp tack and not a gullible cunt. I made Rolf Harris cups of tea on the set of his forgotten no-budget video. I pretended to be an assistant director for a reality show that would never actually be made, all to get a house kitted out for free. I cackled and drank with them afterwards and listened as they told me how they’d "look after me”. But then I woke up and smelled the lager; it was stale. I haven’t seen them since.

[The publican walks over and throws them out of the deserted pub. It’s 1am on a Tuesday.] T HE I NFOXICATOR

The Infoxicator is a tribute to Cocky's occasional tendency to get off his tits on aftershave and glue. In this installment, you will read a prejudiced attack on a white wine called Fox Run.
Pop it open, pour and hold your glass up to the light. You will see a dull wash of colour that fuses the faded yellow of an armpit sweat patch with the dirty white of a toothpaste stain. Now have a sniff. You feel a flourish of olfactory notes: an old sock, tooth decay, a rotten apple, shower mildew, enuresis. And, finally, a sip. The bitterness of an accidentally chewed ibuprofen tablet; the dirty saltiness of an upper lip licked after a marathon on a hot day; the almost-fizzy sweetness of a glass of orange juice left out overnight; the tartness of unwashed genitalia.

Keeping the Borough neat and tidy; swording spivs in snooker halls; drinking tea with Mum.
The Du Noirs survey the Cocky set from up above. But I see them not as directorial dyad or creative brotherhood. I see them as those nasty, funny, money-grabbing bastards who trod on toes and laughed. O VER A P INT The author of The Ballad of Cocky the Fox and the editor of The Sniffer are known to enjoy a chinwag over a pint. In each edition, The Sniffer eavesdrops on their beery blathering and presents a randomly chosen chunk of it to the readership. The Editor: Zzzzzzz. The Author: Zzzzzzzzzzzz. The Editor: Nnng. Wosserblargennnntimenn? Nnnnnng. The Author: Zzzzzzzzzzzz. The Editor: Oi! Wossernntimennn? The Author: Nnng. Nnnndunno. The Editor: Zzzzzzzzzzz. The Author: Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Nothing in the previous paragraph is based on fact. I didn’t even open the bottle. I ended up taking it to a party, dumping it at the back of the fridge and helping myself to a six-pack of Bass instead. I hate white wine


and you’ll rarely catch me drinking it. And, in these rare cases, it will never be Riesling out of principle. Riesling isn’t a grape; it’s a make of power tool. I can’t, then, make any recommendation about Fox Run. Unless you hate white wine like I do. Then I would advise you to avoid it. F OX F ACT Furries who have chosen foxes as their “fursonas” use a simple language called Foxish. The language consists of words that express the fox’s emotional state, ranging from very positive (“yiff”) to very negative (“growlf”). In between, in increasing order of negativity, are: yip, yerf, yaff, yarf, growf, growlf. In addition, “murph” means sexual contentment and “yipp” is a sexual proposition. It is no coincidence that all eight words sound like farts, hiccups or burps. T HE C OCKY C OMPANION Each edition of The Sniffer features an extract from The Cocky Companion, a Rosetta Stone for decoding the less obvious elements of Cocky's London vernacular. This extract covers the argot of Fit the Tenth. As usual, there is swearing, violence and transatlantic misunderstanding. N ICK To anybody not versed in the ways of London slangsters and gangsters, Nick might be a Nicholas who wants to amputate the last two syllabic legs of his formal-sounding name. Or a nick might be what a bleary-eyed, bestubbled, hungover bloke might give to the skin on his face when hamfistedly scraping his razor therealong. But suppose you do hang around in horrible musty boozers in the East End. What then? Imagine that you’re at the bar and sitting next to a burly chap who has

babies’ heads for fists and a swallow tattooed on his neck. You might hear him regaling his companion with a tale from his recent past: “When I was in the nick, I fucking ran the show. If I told one of my lads to do over a nonce, it would happen just like that.” All kinds of things can land you in the nick. Nicking, for example. Run up to that car that’s stopped at the traffic lights. Open the driver door, pull the driver out onto the road, get in and drive off. You’ve just nicked a car. Well done!

S CUM Carlin protests to Banks, the “daddy” of the jail, who is about to stove his head in with fist: “Leave off, will ya? I don’t give a fuck who the daddy is. I don't want trouble, so just piss off and let me get on with me time, all right?” Later, Carlin corners Banks in the bogs, beats the crap out of him and delivers his delayed riposte: “Right Banks, you bastard. I'm the daddy now. Next time, I'll fucking kill ya.” This is Scum, the grim and brutal 1979 tale of British borstal life, and this is Carlin, the youthful Ray Winstone’s first dabble in the art of playing London hard nuts. The violent vignette just depicted offers no


interpretative value to anyone keen on understanding how the word “scum” is used colloquially. But, for many Brits, mention of the word “scum” will send them veering irreversibly off on this cinematic tangent. You won’t get any useful information out of them after that.

B ENDER Yanks and Limeys who like to go out for a night on the sauce are not baffled when they hear themselves being described as “going out on a bender”. Nor are English foxes and rabbits who sit around scoffing ‘shrooms and filling their bonces full of silly sounds and pictures. But Yanks should exercise caution. In British English, “bender” also happens to be a derogatory term for a gentleman who enjoys having sexual relations with other gentlemen. Let’s say you are a moderate drinker having a moderate drink with your hedonistic friend in a London bar. He tries to pressure you, for the third time, into drinking heavily for the whole night ahead. You reply loudly and angrily: “Look! I don’t like benders, OK?” Don’t be surprised if, after this outburst, you get castigated and fustigated by your fellow customers for being a homophobe.

H EADBUTT In Britain, the humble headbutt is as common as a handshake. Custom and etiquette dictate that any pub fight occurring suddenly and organically should begin with a headbutt. Nowadays, though, tradition and good manners have fallen by the wayside somewhat, and a pub fight is just as likely to be inaugurated with a head-clunk from a pint glass or a cheek-stab with a broken bottle. Nonetheless, the headbutt is still a popular mode of expressing disagreement. In fact, so endeared are Glaswegians with the short, sharp intensity of this neck-locomoted attack, that it is has come to be known as the “Glasgow kiss”. If a resident of this chequered Scottish city offers to kiss you, pay attention to the expression on their face and the tension in their neck muscles. If you’re not careful, you could end up with a pair of eyes purple with the stain of drunken violence instead of a pair of cheeks rosy with the bloom of inchoate romance.

G ET F OXED In the last Get Foxed, you were asked to hunt through a square of jumbled letters for the following Cocky-related words: BADGER BOB BOROUGH CHAMPION COCKINATOR CORVIN FOX GUMMA KNACKERED MAURICE MUSHROOMS NORA NORTHSIDE OTTO PAUL QUAVERS SQUIRREL VIXEN VULPINE WEASEL


Here they are:

sensitive snout, he will only sit somewhere to the right of the cat. Given all these grievances and penchants, can you come up with a seating configuration that will keep all the playgoing animals happy

And now a new instance of foxedness for you to wrap your cunning around. It's theatre night and six British mammalian acquaintances are off to watch a performance of Wind In The Willows put on by the Borough's amateur dramatic society. You are their concierge. You have bought the tickets for them and now you have to handle the seating arrangements. All the seats are in the same row but who sits where? It's complicated. Because of rivalries and grudges, the fox and the badger won't sit next to each other; nor will the cat and the squirrel; nor will the weasel and the rabbit. The cat is superstitious and will only sit in the third position (counted from the left). The rabbit is best friends with the fox and wants to sit next to him. But the rabbit happens to have a very small bladder; he'll need to get out easily to use the toilet and so he ought to sit at one end of the row or the other. The squirrel is good friends with the badger and the weasel; he would like to sit next to both of them. The cat has been rolling in sewage and he stinks. The air-conditioning is blowing his smell from right to left across the theatre. Because the weasel has a highly

E LEGY F OR G IBBY T HE N ORTHSIDER , W HOM I K ILLED Gibby, by my hand deceased, from warm fox to worm-feast, weren’t you once like me, with the surge in your breast, and the feeling you got when you looked to the West? Perhaps not. Perhaps unsaluted I should let you rot. A waste, a wanker, a dope, a dud... But still I wonder, you see – Who gave you this shitty role in the epic of Me? This bit part that left you glug-glugging on your life's blood?

—James Parker


T O T HE S NOUT Sir, What does Cocky eat, out there in the countryside? We learn that he "almost" went vegetarian — so is he eating smaller animals? Yours faithfully, Noah Jungles

*** Dear Mr. Jungles, You are right to wonder about Cocky’s diet now that he has rusticated with his rabbity chum. The British rus ruris is a culinary vacuum for the vulpine urbanite; there isn’t a bagel or a packet of Quavers in sight. So how’s a famished fox meant to soothe the gastric gurgles? Cocky isn’t the sort to go beating on fieldmice, pheasants or other defenseless denizens of meadow and hedgerow. No, our dignified hero looks elsewhere for nutritional succour. Where before he might have been found crouched in a baker’s bin scoffing a bagel, now he is likely to be seen with his snout prodding a pat of cow crud or with his whiskers poking a brain of horse manure. The countryside has turned him into a scatophagus. That is to say, Cocky eats shit. Yours sincerely, The Editor
*** If there are questions you would like to ask or remarks you would like to make, you can do so by emailing the editor of The Sniffer (sniffer@hilobrow.com).


& WRITER Patrick Cates

P UBLISHERS Matthew Battles & Joshua Glenn of HiLobrow.com I LLUSTRATION Kristin Parker W ITH THANKS TO Generous backers of Cocky the Fox & Kickstarter.com please direct all enquiries to sniffer@ hilobrow.com


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