The Welsh Stripper writes another of his increasingly haphazard posts today and amazingly stumbles across an interesting question which I find myself in rather the unique position of being able to answer. He asks if pitbulls can be forced to open their jaws with a finger/pencil inserted into the hole beneath their tails. An interesting question, though one I believe he has unwittingly stolen from Jasper Carrot who used to talk about the same thing in one of his acts. I happen to remember this tip so well because I have used it on more than one occasion.
You’d be surprised by the number of pitbull terriers that attacked me during my days as a reporter. I’d often go looking to interview some member of criminal classes and found myself staring down the business end of a Doberman. That’s where I honed the skills to render this threat neutral, finding that a good quality HB pencil slots into the hole quite nicely, making it the perfect instrument for dealing with dangerous dogs.
Since I’ve moved into celebrity interviews, I find I don’t need to use the pencil as much as used to, though I always carry one around in my pocket just in case.
It was lucky I did when we interviewed Russell Crowe just after his success on Gladiator back in 2004. He turned up at the studio looking to pick a fight with somebody and I obliged him by getting him confused with TV impressionist Jon Culshaw. It was hardly my fault. I only saw him across the set so I waved and said ‘how you doing Jon?’
Russell was on me in a second and sank his teeth deep into my left thigh. Judy did what Judy does best. She fainted on the spot but I had didn’t have chance to help her. I was too busy reaching for my pencil.
After a few minutes calm was restored and we even managed to film a two minute interview with Russell. When it was all done, we got him to film a few lines to camera to advertise his interview and then we said our goodbyes. Russell was charm personified, signing autographs for everybody in the studio. And then I removed the pencil and he was back to his snarling ways. But it just goes to prove what the Welsh Stripper was asking: yes, the pencil trick does work.
If that fact wasn’t good enough for you, I’ve got some other useful tricks you can use a pencil for. Did you know that if you push it into a shark’s eye socket, you can disarm them? A pencil can be a lethal weapon in the hands of a master. The Japanese martial art of Hapika teaches its devotees to protect themselves with nothing but a pencil. It’s the rarest of the martial arts and doesn’t have coloured belts, having ranks based on a pencil’s hardness. Finally, did you know that the modern pencil was invented in Iceland and remains that country’s major contribution to civilisation?