Charles Nevin: These are a few of my favourite short things

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. And as tomorrow is the shortest day of the year I thought we would pay tribute to shortness and brevity. Actually, make that just shortness. Here, then, are my favourite short things: 1. Shortbread. 2. Winning jockeys. 3. Shakespeare's Sonnets. 4. Whisky. 5. Just a Minute. 6. Babies' toes. 7. Oliver Hardy's temper. 8. My wife's memory. 9. Tweets. 10. A comic's pause. 11. The silences in Gregorian chants. 12. Gordon Brown's small talk. 13. Nick Clegg's promises. 14. Ed Miliband's first name. 15. Shrift. 16. Ernie Wise. 17. Cuts. 18. Grumpy. 19. The English summer. 20. 19 is enough.

BOO! HISS! John Thomson, actor, has complained about the audience in Canterbury, where he is giving his Sheriff of Nottingham in pantomime. Sorry? All right, then: oh yes he has! He's lucky he's not at an Empire: at the Liverpool one, when Cilla Black inquired, "Now then, children, how are we going to kill the big bad giant?", they shouted back, "Sing to him, Cilla!" In Sunderland, the young Frankie Howerd had a ship's rivet hurled at him. And in Glasgow Morecambe and Wise (see 16 above), having been jeered for a week, left the stage on the last night in silence, to be told by a stage hand, "They're starting to warm to you."

MIND YOU, they are robust in these matters, the Scots. Clergy at Perth crematorium are complaining about officials flashing a red light to warn them their eulogies are over-running. And, if the perorating pastors take no notice, "hand signals" ensue. I shall leave you to ponder for whom this might make a fitting finale while I recall the splendid Dave Allen sketch of the actor's cremation, where the coffin comes back for a curtain call.

NUH! "Whatever" has been voted the most irritating word for the second year in a US poll, followed by "like". These two, I have to say, are vital tools for moving information further up the pathway. "Like" displays an earnest eagerness to engage that I find lacking in "Er". "Whatever" has a spare simplicity conveying a mannerly ennui which, call me old-fashioned, I find lacking in "Suit yourself, you boring old tosser". And now I will leave you ahead of your addressing issues around impacting proactive paradigms. I am unlikely to revert.