Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Beautifully Tender & Budda

When I was at primary school, aged about 10 there was a kid in my class who was a bit….strange. No more than I was mind you, and he was also quite cool in his own strange way.

His name was James and he had a few strange habits. One of the strange habits was to make a pool of “sinking mud” in his back garden and then drop worms in it to drown. This didn’t seem that strange at the time as we’d all seen Diamonds Are Forever where Sean Connery had pushed Blofeld head first into a pit of boiling mud (while smiling and making jokes about it…harsh or WHAT!!!)

Another habit he had was to find big slugs and put flaming match sticks into their breath holes. I thankfully never witnessed this as it was icky even by my standards of gore and extreme comic book violence.

James lived in a house with a river at the bottom of the garden. One day we were manoeuvring along the riverbank, giggling a lot and thinking it was all a big adventure. James reached a big branch jutting out of the side of the bank and said, “This bit is hard to get round so you need to do a James Bond swing like THIS!” He grabbed the branch, swung out over the water to get round the other side and it broke with a loud crack. He fell feet first into the river and began wailing, “Help. I’m sinking! I’m going to drown!”
Just then a grumpy man’s face appeared over the fence next to me and snapped, “You lads know you’re on my property? You’ve got two minutes to get lost!”

(Not James)

James wasn’t a bully (except to slugs or worms) and was a pleasant chap…who just had a penchant for gory movies and being a bit…strange.

He used to make words up all the time to describe how he felt. 33 years later and I can only remember one which was “grootchk”. This apparently meant someone was ok in James’s opinion but had a bit of work to do and was, by James’s standards…a bit strange.

His biggest legacy came with the invention of an expression that even today makes me giggle and totally summed up both James and the movies, comic books, novels and playground games we were into.

Whenever something uber violent or painful happened, either in real life or in a movie, James would grit his teeth, clench his fist and gleefully exclaim “BEAUTIFULLY TENDER!!!”

Christ alone knows where he got this expression from (maybe a Bernard Matthews turkey advert?) but it fitted the mood.

Imagine watching World of Sport where a skier wiped out on a downhill slalom and crashes to the bottom of the slope in a bone cracking flurry of flailing limbs and skis?


Remember that bit in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the nasty German boxer gets his head splattered by a propeller after scrapping with Indiana Jones?


And you surely can’t forget the underwater fight between frogmen armed with harpoon guns and knives in James Bond’s “Thunderball”?


James also applied this expression (which some of us also adopted) whenever there was a foul in football and a 10 year old went flying over onto the field at the back of Class 5. James learnt to run very fast if he “beautifully tendered” anyone in that situation though, as not many people like someone taking the piss when they are embarrassed and/ or in pain.

As I entered secondary school (without James who was in my year but in a different class) I envied his way of being able to articulate his aggressive feelings with just gibberish.

I was a big fan of 2000AD comic and particularly of Judge Dredd. I had a fucked up childhood and withdrew at an early age into a world of cartoons, violent films and comic heroes. Dredd was a badass future cop/ judge who could sentence criminals on the spot for whatever he deemed them guilty of. This could be 28 days in prison or a bullet in the head. The early stories were VERY violent and gory (a guy caught for attempted burglary, chained to a holding post, is eaten alive by a dinosaur. This was bad enough but for two panels you saw the poor bastard screaming for help and struggling to get free as the monster bore down on him).

It also had the delights of The Angel Gang who were a family of male, inbred rednecks who were “just plum fond of killing.” One brother was nicknamed Mean Machine and had a steel head with a dial on it, going from 1 to 4. This was the ferocity with which he would headbutt someone. His clarion call was “LEMME GO OR I’LL GO UP TO 4 ON YA!!!” and woe betide anyone who was around when his dial got stuck on 4.5.

But I digress.

Dredd’s motorcycle was called a Lawmaster and had guns mounted either side called the Bike Cannon. When he fired it the sound effect on the page was drawn as “BUDDA! BUDDA! BUDDA!”

I had found my “BEAUTIFULLY TENDER”.

Whenever something violent happened in a movie (a bad guy going up in flames, an explosion in a car, a villain being pushed into a pool of acid) I would shout “BUDDA!”

There were some rules to “Budda” though. It was an adjective or a verb, never a noun. It didn’t apply to scenes of prolonged torture (so crucifixion wasn’t “Budda” but Drax getting blow out of an airlock in Moonraker by James Bond definitely was). It didn’t apply to scenes where the helpless got hurt (unless it was something like a tsunami or an earthquake). It certainly didn’t apply to scenes of helpless animals getting killed (so news footage of a sealion cub being culled was awful, but the shark exploding in Jaws was utterly BUDDA!)

At secondary school I had a mate called Dave. Dave picked up on Budda along with me and we had a great time describing certain things as Budda! Such as the movie Class of 1984 or that bit in Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader throws the Emperor into an abyss.

I thought I had an apprentice Buddara until one day I realised that Dave didn’t quite get it, and that it was hard to articulate something that only means anything to one person and even then it’s only inside their head.

I walked into class at lesson change time to find that Dave had banged his head on a locker door and was holding his face, clearly in a LOT of pain.


He dropped his hands from his face and snarled, “Don’t call me Budda Manley!” and proceeded to kick me a couple of times and took a swing with his fist.

I stood there (while a group of kids from the year above, who’d just done a cooking…sorry Home Economics class gathered round laughing, along with kids from my own year) and went, “Come on then Dave!!!”

He then ran at me growling and throwing his fists in windmills and I bolted for the door, to laughter from the assembled audience.

A few months later I met one of the older kids who’d been watching. He was a mate of a mate and said, “I remember you. You were being chased by some kid around Miss Hemming’s class. He was shouting, “You called me Buddha! You called me Buddha!”

I sighed. Dave didn’t get it. Neither did the other kid.

I wasn’t calling Dave “Budda!” I was saying that his sore head was “Budda!” I also wasn’t calling Dave a 6th century BCE prophet.

I realised I would have to retire “Budda!” and articulate my feelings with words approved by the Oxford English dictionary.

Years later I saw Liam Neeson in the movie Taken.

That bit when he banged two rusty 9 inch nails into Marco Hoxha’s thighs and casually asked, “Are you focussed yet?” over the agonised screams.


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