Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Good Dog!

This week, I'm on The Unbelievable Truth again, which is one of my favourite shows to do, and indeed to listen to. You can hear it here, via the iPlayer for the next six days or so.  

In the show, you give a short lecture on a subject, almost all of which must be lies, but with five 'unbelievable truths' hidden somewhere. Here is what I had to say about dogs, together with some extra nonsense which didn't make the edit. But to find out four of the five unbelievable truths hidden therein, you will have to listen to the show... 

My dog can fly.

Dogs and humans have been together since the beginning of time. The Ancient Greeks used spaniels to catch fish and tell the future. Old English sheepdogs were used in old England to herd pigeons and children. Aristocrats used miniature poodles as hand-warmers, whilst starving peasants would allow Yorkshire Terriers to swim in a cauldron of warm water for ten minutes, and then drink the result, known as 'Dog Soup'. And of course today, dogs work for us as everything from wine tasters to air traffic controllers.

The actor John Wayne claimed he had won Lassie the dog in a poker game. However, Lassie the dog claimed she had won the actor John Wayne in a poker game. It was a classic stand-off. John Wayne called Lassie the dog a dirty liar. Lassie said the hell she was a liar, one-eyed jacks were wild, and John Wayne damn well knew it. John Wayne said all dogs cheated at cards anyway, did Lassie think he’d never seen that painting?  In the resulting shootout, Lassie lost an ear, and John Wayne was killed. But not wanting to upset the children, Columbia Studios bought another cowboy that looked just like John Wayne, and never told anybody. Similarly, we’re already on our fifth Justin Bieber.

Dog, spelt backwards, is of course 'good'; a fact that has led many people to worship them as Gods. The Toltec civilisation believed their Gods watched them through the eyes of chihuahuas. The Egyptian God Atem had the head of a dog and the body of a squirrel, and was forever chasing himself around heaven. And of course St Christopher is often portrayed with the head of a dog, owing to an unfortunate confusion between 'from Canaan' and 'Canine'

David will like this - the Siberian Husky is not technically a dog at all. It is in fact... six cats in a costume. Two on the front legs, two on the back, one in the head, and one in the middle working the tongue and the tail. You might ask, how could one cat inside a husky reach both the tongue and the tail? To which I would reply... Is that really the part of this that's bothering you?

The inventor Alexander Graham Bell claimed he had taught his dog to talk. However, it was noticeable he would only claim this whilst using his new invention, the telephone. 'Oh, by the by’ he would say ‘I’ve taught the dog to talk. Shall I put him on? "Herro! I'm Ruffles! Rri can talk now! Sausages!" There. That was him. Aren't I a good inventor?'

As a boy, King William II rode out to hunt on a mastiff instead of a horse. Henry III would often wear a basket of Bichon Frises round his neck  in a confused attempt to get girls to look at him. And of course the Queen has six corgis, named Tesco, Shiny George, Little Sir Woofsalot, Bernard Bresslaw, Argax the Destroyer, and Unnamed Dog.

Only sixteen dalmations were used in the live action remake of 101 Dalmations. They were then multiplied with CGI, but only after special dog make-up artists changed the pattern of their spots. The film did, however, use two Glenn Closes, as the original got rabies during filming, and the studio just pulled the old John Wayne trick.

My dog can't fly. But he can ride a horse.

The fifth unbelievable truth I am going to tell you now, because it's my new favourite truth I have ever tried to smuggle on the show (beating the previous title-holder, which was that Prince Waldemar of Prussia once played a trick on his grandmother, Queen Victoria, by letting a crocodile loose in her study.) 

It is that in the Eastern Orthodox Church, St Christopher was often shown in icons as having the head of a dog, because of a mix-up between the Latin for 'from Canaan' and… 'Canine'. Yes, that is actually true. I know, but it is. No, it is. Trust me, it is. 

I can tell you still don't believe me. 


St Stephen trying to dry St Christopher's paws before he comes into the house. 

St Christopher performing the miracle of the Untaken Biscuit.

'Shake, St Christopher! Good boy!' 


Anonymous said...

♪My dog doesn't know he can't fly♫

riflet said...

The Unbelievable Truth has become the funniest panel game on radio, in large part thanks to you. I admit I like Henning Wehn's intrusions, too.

With appreciation to Richard Cole, I found a Saint who amazes me:

Blessed Christina of Stommeln. Born in the 13th C in Germany she married Jesus in an ecstasy when she was ten. She received the stigmata in 1268 and was beset by demons, one of which pelted her with ordure from a pail. When she died her friends cut her head off and her skull was found to bear the marks of the crown of thorns. It survived an Allied air raid in 1944. Here is the skull of Blessed Christina of Stommeln (after refurbishment).

Also, Mr. Finnemore, did you know you were namechecked on Only Connect on Monday?

Graham, daringly avoiding sycophancy, said...

"What is point comment on blog? What is point?"That full script is fantastic. Thank you for posting it. (They edited quite a bit of the life out of it for broadcast, didn't they?I'd be cross, if I were you. But if you are cross you hide it well!)As a bit of an evangelist for radio comedy, I have to say that, clever and hilarious as 'The Unbelievable Truth' is, in my estimation even cleverererier and hilariouserier, and far and away the best thing on radio at the moment, is 'Down The Line' (Radio 4 at 1830 on Tuesdays, repeated on Radio 4-extra at 0730 & 2200 the following Tuesday).It's the way the jokes gradually accumulate, surrealistically but at the same time entirely plausibly.Last night's Michael Gambon episode just might be the funniest thing I have ever heard in my life.

Jessamyn Leigh said...

Saint Christopher was really painted as a dog, but was Saint Mary actually depicted surrounded by otters giving her ottery kisses and gifts of haddock?

I will have to give The Unbelievable Truth a listen!

Anonymous said...

I like how humans will glue on just any animal's head on a human's body. Or the other way around.

Air traffic controlers, I see what you did there.

Oh no! They cut the impression of Ruffles the hound!

Anonymous said...

This makes me want to read all the lectures in full. Especially the crocodile one.

Alina Krüger said...

Dear Mr Finnemore,

I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being such a great, kind and funny person and for sharing your crazy ideas with the world.

When I get overwhelmed by university it just needs 28 minutes of CP, JFSP or the Unbelievable Truth to cheer me up. And I definitely (thanks to you I know how to spell that bloody word :D ) need that! Yeah, you help me to improve my English as well :))

Your lecture on dogs was - as alsways - brilliant!

Cheers from Germany

Unknown said...

Jack Dee's sick bag thing would have made a wonderful game for the Cabin Pressure crew...

Shappeybunny said...

I am old enough to remember the original dog that said "SAUSAGES!" on That's Life. That joke never tires. In fact, I don't think anyone has done a talking dog impersonation since that moment that doesn't involve the dog saying "SAUSAGES!"

Simon said...

googling on Monday night (wonder why) found this, which offers an alternative, possibly compatible view:

right, I'm off to write a blog post about sainted greyhounds...

Wiebke said...

DOGGGSSSSS! YES!!! only NO at the moment as I am in South Africa and cannot listen to the show. Listened to the Souvenir Programme today while identifying insects. Thank you for making some daunting work so much more enjoyable by providing awesome audio entertainment! Very much appreciated!

Ross Bennett said...

I say, Finnemore. I have this notion—a notion which is mine, tough it has nothing to do with formerly-so-called Brontosauruses—that you, Mr. Finnemore, have always known that the plural of octopus (octopodes) has four syllables and does not rhyme with "abodes" at all, and that you were too polite to say otherwise. I believe this because that's just the sort of thing a Finnemore would know, as well as the sort of thing a Finnemore would be.

Is this what the young people today call "headcanon?" Or is it merely true?

Moony said...

Brilliant! (As always). Should I really be surprised?

It happens accidently. Honestly. A bit like flying dogs.

Though to be serious, that just says your humour is the ground zero of smiles.

Though this, especially, is like sprinkles on a cake, because the laughter exercise is followed by rigourous brain work as I pin down the neat true facts.

Ever the best!

Unknown said...

yeah i like this is something cool, what about some top female dog names

June Clarence said...

I just spent two days reading your entire blog from start to finish. Yes, that's right, all of it. And I am STLL laughing about the Chihoodlehoodle. Thank you very much indeed for that one. Also, I feel I should inform you of two very important facts:

1. Your drawing of a dull opera house inspired me to write a story about the people working in that opera house (though in all likelihood it won't ever be published). I just thought you should know that.
2. One unbelievable truth for you: US-President Lyndon B. Johnson had an amphibious car and used it to drive his unsuspecting guests into his lake, screaming about brake failure.

I figured that would be right up your alley.
Also, thank you for Cabin Pressure. It never fails to make me smile (or laugh out loud, to stay closer to the truth).

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Anonymous said...

oddly, while waiting for the pascal service to start in a russian orthodox church, a discussion on iconography lead to a tidbit about a dog saint. and then i see your blog…

what were you doing in my church really late last saturday night??!

Stephanie said...

I was having an upsetting kind of day but reading this made me smile and laugh and I actually feel less stressed now. Thank you! :D
My cat, on the other hand, appears to have become agitated. She was looking at the screen when I was looking at the photos and she made a sort of disapproving sniffly noise and walked away. I guess she doesn't approve of me looking at dog related posts.

clanca1234 said...

Good work on The Now Show this evening, John. You can't ever trust bat scorpions!!

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Neat post, the pictures are really cool. We have a junk yard and were going to build and animal for the entrance and we now you gave me a great idea on what to give my junk car artist. Hopefully we have enough junk car parts to make it come true.

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