Tureen Saggyvest is probably best known these days for his attempt at the world record for holding a spoon in Chichester. A record first set back in 1873 by Germoline Pantechnicon, when she held a spoon for seven days without once dropping it or even using it to stir her tea. Of course, back in those stricter and more moralistic days in did cause a bit of a shock and some over-agitated stirring when Pantechnicon revealed her world record attempt. For, in those days, people in the upper middle and upper classes employed a spoon maid to hold their spoon in readiness for when they were needed. As well as also doing any stirring with that spoon, if and when necessary. However, according to the strict etiquette of the time any actual measuring out with spoons was only ever undertaken by the family’s butler.
Hence, the shock and outrage only a few decades later when T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock measures out his own life with coffee spoons. Shockingly, with Prufrock doing it himself instead of delegating the task to the domestic servants, which was, up until then, the case. Of course, as a leading exponent of the modernism movement Eliot was predisposed to such quiet revolutionary acts. Consequently, the use of spoons – even symbolically – in poetry, if not all art, was never the same again.
Of course, as anyone with even the slightest interest in history will know the spoon in past ages has not been without controversy. Everyone has heard of the great spoon strike of 1923, when the spoon operators at several restaurants, cafes, and work canteens went on strike for a fair day’s pay for a fair days stirring. There was also, back in the colonial era, the famous Battle of the Spoons when the Wednesbury Light Infantry held off a massed Zulu attack using spoons when their ammunition ran out. The regiment had to resort to the spoons when the regiment’s quartermaster discovered there had been a cock-up in the logistic supply to the regimental column. What was labelled on the boxes turned out not to be the bayonets they expected, but several hundred spoons of various sizes. Fortunately, the supply crates did include several boxes of the new automatic battlefield soup ladles.
As was well-known at the time, the Zulus had an irrational fear of the soup ladle. A fear initially caused by some overzealous Methodist ministers who had attempted a mass baptism of a tribe of Zulu in a crocodile and hippopotamus infested river using their hastily-blessed soup ladles as baptismal devices. When a hippo and then a crocodile attacked one of the baptisers as he went about his holy work, he smote both attack animals on their respective snouts in fury. Thus driving both of them away, while claiming they were the beasts of the devil. Since that moment, the Zulus regarded the soup ladle as a fearsome magical weapon and would flee whenever one was produced. So when the Zulus attacked, and the Wednesburys revealed their ladles, the Zulu ran from the battlefield. Consequently, victory went once again to a vastly outnumbered British force.
This noble and proud tradition of the spoon in history is why such world record attempts by Saggyvest and his ilk still receive so much worldwide media attention and interest from the general public. That too is why Saggyvest’s record attempt – this very afternoon in Chichester – will be witnessed by a crowd numbering in almost double figures, as well as the media from around the local area. If nothing else interesting is happening elsewhere, apart from this interminable bloody election, then the rest of the world’s media may turn up for a look too.