The Angry Corrie 14: Aug-Sep 1993
Way back in TAC6 we questioned why men called Hamish are so prevalent in hillclimbing circles. Time having moved on, much of the current debate over the practices and landhandling skills of the National Trust for Scotland includes reference to one Percy Unna (see below). What is surprising about this is the small amount of research needed to uncover the extraordinary fact that Percys (or should it be Percies?) are almost as thick on the high ground as Hamishes. OK, so Muriel Gray isn't married to one, but read on and you'll see what we mean...
1. Percy Unna
Fabled philanthropist - or should that be philanderer? - whose charitable leanings were said to be manifestations of an inferiority complex arising from his having won the 'Most Stupidest Name in Britain' contest seven years on the trot (current holder: Barrington Pheloung). Later inspired seminal Pink Floyd tribute album Unnagunna. Went out in fine style, dropping dead on the slopes of Beinn Eunaich having had a sudden Brahan-Seer-type vision of the NTS visitor centre in neighbouring Glen Coe. Last words said to be 'The horror! The horror!'
2. Percy Donald
Shadowy old-time hillclimber known only for having compiled an eponymous sub-Munro list of 2000' peaks south of the West Highland Line. Separate hills differentiated from tops by means of a complex algorithm involving 17 'units', where a unit comprises 1/12 of a mile or 50 feet. From this obsession with units we may infer he was a bit of a drinker - a theory also supported by his retirement to Australia, where a 452m peak above Cootamundra, NSW was named Sgurr Donald Bradman in his honour.
3. Percy Sugden
Cornerstone Coronation Street character: ex-Cookery Corps corporal, long-time lodger with Emily Bishop, current object of Phyllis' affections - and arguably the basis for Harry Enfield's "You don't wanna do that..." pisstake. Part of a long sequence of Street residents cleverly given middleground north-of-England names such as Ogden, Tyldesley and Barlow, rather than out-and-out cloth-cap- and-clogs ones like Cedric Shufflebottom or Horace Postlethwaite. This probably explains why "comic actress" Mollie Sugden never held down a regular Street role: she had that kind of name in real life. Percy No.3 has no obvious hillgoing connections - although there's doubtless a fell tucked away somewhere in The Ponds called Pike o' Sugden.
4. Henry Percy
Otherwise known as 'Hotspur', due to being one of the earliest managers at White Hart Lane until sacked by Lord Alain de Sucre. As Earl of Northumberland, was able to retire north and take up Donaldbagging career (see Percy No.2 above), interrupted only by occasional need to go and give battle in vain against various parts of King Henry IV. His memoirs later formed basis of script for My own private Idaho.
5. Pointing Percy at the Porcelain
One of large family, male members of which also included Toby, John Thomas and several bishops.
6. Percy the Small Engine
A bit-part character (along with another Toby) in the fertile imagination of the Rev Awdry Hepburn, this bepanniered and well-meaning choochoo featured in politically-incorrect Thomas the Tank Engine stories. Hence shared with Percy No.5 the distinction of having siblings named euphemistically. Sample dialogue - Percy: Shouldn't The Fat Controller really be entitled The Facilitator Possessed of an Alternative Body Image? Thomas: Shut up ya greetin-faced green-gauge afore ye get us a' privatised!
7. Percy Fender
Resplendently moustachioed Albion cricket captain from way back when. Famous for several things. Scored what for many years was the fastest ever first-class century - in 35 minutes. Was then denied his country's captaincy for the 1932-33 tour of Australia in favour of Douglas Jardine. This of course transpired to be the infamous 'Bodyline' tour, when highspeed missiles were hurled at feckless Antipodean batsmen by brawny Nottinghamshire miners. The Aussies called such deliveries 'bumpers' rather than 'bouncers', and it was the erroneous reporting of this by an American Reuters agent (who, like all his fellow countrymen and women, knew nothing of cricket), which led to the Yanks adopting the eponym 'fender' for what we traditionally call a 'bumper' on a car. Further confusion eventually led to this particular Percy lending his name to various types of electric guitar, most notably the Stratocaster and the Telecaster, but we won't go into that here.
8. Percy Thrower
Ever noticed how if you surgically removed all gardening, cookery and holiday programmes from TV, there would be virtually nothing left? Every channel has at least two of each at any given moment, as decreed by the Sunday Post Charter. Connects with Percy No.7 cricketingly via allegations that Voce and Larwood sent down their bodyline bouncers with crooked arm actions, ie they threw. Also see under: Chucker Khan, Imran Khan, Majid Johnson.
9. Sir Percival (or Parsifal)
Possibly the first Percy of them all - although when he climbed aboard his noble charger, raised aloft his jousting weapon and teamed up with Sir Lancelot, easily mistaken for...
10. Lance Percival
Definitely the worst Percy of them all.
11. Perce Ona non Grata
Celebrated pre-Pavarotti Italian tenor, who accompanied mezzo Kiri Te Kanawa and alto Tanita Tikaram at the joint royal wedding/Everest conquering celebrations of 1953.
12. Percy Sledge
One of the few Percies to have a genuine mountaineering connection, his name having been given to a patented teatray used for sliding downhill fast. Became embroiled in long legal wrangle over this nomenclature with one Toby Oggan, a Welshman claiming a similar invention. Once the funds finally rolled in, Percy set up his own recording company, producing the classic 'We are family' along with his sister. A bit-part in the movie Citizen Kane led to his earning the nom de celluloid 'Rosebud'. Also, like Nos. 2, 7 and 8 above, has willow-on-leather connections, being founding father to the unseemly modern practice of 'sledging', ie leaning toward the batsman from silly mid-off and muttering 'See you Gatt, you're a fat bastard and your wife's a dog'.
Greek goddess to whom a statue stands beneath Bennachie in Aberdeenshire. Daughter of Demeter (previously Deyard) and Zeus. After abduction by Hades, became Queen of the Underworld - a kind of early Violet Kray - then engaged in the Phoney Wars before getting hitched to a cop and settling down under the married name Persepolis. Later invented the telephone.
Another Greek punter. Few hillwalking connections save for once having had a fight at Gorgon Bothy. Also settled down and married a lassie called Anne from Joppa.
15. The Perseids
Spectacular meteor shower causing numerous ham astronomers to bump into each while gazing upward wandering darkened fields. Long thought to comprise debris from a passing 1862 comet, but given that the shower peaks annually on or around the Glorious Twelth, more likely to be fall-out from impatient lairds' floodlit bird-shooting sessions.
See also Persia (p3)...