Monday, 3 August 2009

An Open Letter to Dave Barry

I was browsing my regular haunts yesterday when I came across this post on the blog belonging to Dave Barry, the American wit and all-round sharp needle.

Although I rarely leave comments on his site (rather too many Americans to make me feel at home), I found the contents of the post so utterly irresponsible that I fired off an immediate reply, which I am now following up by extending it to a letter, expressing my disappointment on behalf of all my fellow Dicks.

Dear Dave Barry,

As a proud Dick, I would like to express my disgust and outrage at the cheap joke made at the expense of Mr. Dick Pole, the pitching coach of the Chicago Reds. Although I’m English and don’t understand a thing about ‘pitching’ (it means something else here in North London and I could never see the need to coach teach what comes so naturally to young boys of a certain age), I’m certain that Dick Pole is good at his job and doesn’t deserve such ridicule. I am also sure that his friends and family would stand firmly beside Mr. Pole to show the world a united front against such cheap Dick shots.

How would you feel if we mocked your name? Here in London, it’s the highest insult to call somebody a ‘Dav’, but would I call you ‘Dav Barry’? No, of course I wouldn’t! It would only cause undue hurt to an American. Yet I wish people were equally sensitive to Dicks. People laugh at Dicks all the time and I can cite the example of Mr. Dick Spring, the former Irish politician, who had to suffer years of sniggering at his name. I also fondly remember Dr. Dick Shaft, a director of British Petroleum, and my good friend, Mr. Dick Drop, head of regional programming at BBC Radio Carlisle.

Are we really living in such unenlightened times that men called ‘Richard’ can’t have a familiar abbreviation? All Dicks face an unenviable choice. Do we bear the stigma of the shortened form of our name or do we append an ‘ie’ to become a ‘Dickie’? Though I respect Dickie Davies, Dickie Bird, and Dickie Attenborough, I’ve always believed that ‘Dickie’ is the coward’s way out. It’s fine if you want to be patronised as some doddering national treasure but I want to be taken seriously as a modern vigorous Dick.

So, in speaking out on behalf of all Dicks who have been mocked because of our name, I would ask you to think again should you feel tempted to smirk at the next Dick you spot. To be honest, I didn’t expect it of your normally excellent blog as I would have expected somebody in such a high profile position to stand up against the rampant scoffing of Dicks.


Dick Madeley (Uncle)


Meanie the Blue, frequent commenter at Dave Barry's blog said...

Dear Uncle Dick Madeley,

While it seems that you are unaware of this, almost alone among we Yanks (har!), Dave (note the "e") Barry has maintained a strict and unwavering policy at his blog of not making fun of names that are known to provoke childish sniggering among the more juvenile of our ranks. Dave has gone far out of his way to set an example for us all by devoting precious time and energy to creating blog posts that warn against the dangers of making fun of names. A man of lesser integrity, and with a lesser sense of public service, would not have alerted us against the base temptation to engage in easy mockery, but would instead have simply ignored the existence of names like famed race car driver Dick Trickle, or the baseball player Bartolo Colon, or the biologist Peter Smallwood. Rather, Dave stood up and exhibited the kind of leadership that is so lacking in members (har!) of today's media culture.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Dear Meanie the Blue (frequent commentator at Dave Barry’s blog),

I’m sure that I speak for all Dicks when I say that we fully appreciate what you’re saying and regret this unfortunate incident that has put a little distance between our two great nations. I say this as one of Dave’s biggest UK fans (I did notice the ‘e’ but had hoped that by mocking his name I would teach him a sobering lesson) but it appears that I have misunderstood the thrust of his Dick post about Dick Pole -- (didn't Dick Post do them music to 'Hill Street Blues'?).

If what you are saying is true (and I have no reason to doubt you other than your American citizenship – some of us still remember 1783), then Dave is already aware of the dangers of innuendo, either cheap or hard won. My response was merely my attempt to remind him that, as well know names, we have a pubic responsibility to set a good example by using treating all Dicks with respect.

If I have missed the moral dimension to Dave’s Dick piece, then I apologise. I also thank you for mentioned Dick Trickle, who had slipped my mind. Yet his name is legendary in these parts and barely a day passes when I don’t think of a Dick Trickle incident, which always puts a smile on these lips and a damp patch on my trousers.

NotSherly said...

Dear Mr. Dick,
I have read with amusement your open letter to Mr. Barry. Unfortunately, without hearing your tone, I am unable to tell if you are amused, or if "we are not amused." I love British humor and I choose to assume that you are exhibiting that wonderful wry wit in your frequent use of the word 'Dick' to the point of beating it to death.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Dear NotSherly,

I would never want to be accused of beating ‘Dick’ to death. Nor would I like to be accused of beating Dave into submission with my ‘Dick’ piece. All things are now settled. I see that he appreciates all Dicks, as I am sure that all Dicks love Dave. I know that I do, from the top of his head, right down to the end of his... Well, let's not start that again.

Siouxie said...

I will also defend Dave's blog and his strict policy of not making fun of names. We don't hold (heh) anything against you, just because you're (not your) a Dick.


Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Dear Siouxie,

I'm beginning to regret that Mr. Barry's blog has such a strict zero-innuendo policy. Indeed, it is stiffening my resolve to abandon the rules I have in place about them here.

NotSherly said...

Dear Mr. Madeley,
Increasingly it appears that you are a person with insight and perspective who could make valuable contributions as a commenter on the DB blog, on a regular basis, were you so inclined.

Meanie the Blue said...

Dear Uncle Dick Madeley,

Though it is not my role to accept it, I appreciate your apology, as I was sure that there had to be a misunderstanding involved.

Historical aside: Did King Richard ever have this problem? We know a great deal about his heart, and yet ......

BoscoH said...

Don't forget US Congressman Dick Sweat.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

NotSherly, that's very kind of you to say so. I have left comments in the past but being British (or, even English), I find a lot of the material passes above this old Dick's head. However, I will try harder in the future (no pun intended) in the spirit of this new pan-Atlantic alliance.

Dear Meanie the Blue (frequent commentator at Dave Barry’s blog): I delighted that we're all friends again and we can put this misunderstanding behind us. I don't know about King Richard, though his name is now a common euphamism; as is, of course, Richard the Third, often heard in Cockney rhyming slang.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Dear BoscoH, I have never heard of Dick Sweat but, had I lived in his state, I would certainly have voted for him as a mark of comradeship in these difficult days. I imagine 'Sweat' became more of a problem during the long hard run for office.

nursecindy said...

In reading your letter I quickly recognized the British sense of humor, or humour, since I've suffered through it all my life with my family. The blog, however, does have a strict policy against making fun of people's names. In fact this policy is strictly enforced about every other day. We bloggettes also have a strict policy of issuing *SMACKS* to those who dare to make fun of other blog members, women in general, or Mr. Barry. Consider yourself *SMACKED* but I would like to extend my best wishes. May you continue to be a Dick for many years to come.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...


I'm delighted by your comment and your subsequent slap on my buttock. However, here in England it's only known as a 'smack' when it's applied to children. What you're referring to is a 'spank' and I will consider myself suitably spanked.

However, with you being medically trained and no doubt in nurse's uniform, this comment is going into territory that will lead to the blog being reclassified as being for adults only. In fact, I'm already blushing.

Layzeeboy said...

In preparation for confrontation between our two blogs, I performed an extensive background check on you which basically consisted of reading the "About Richard" section of your homepage. I was pleased to read that you are not fond of squirrels, a fundamental qualification for Dave's blog. If we can capitalize on this common ground perhaps we can avoid any further escalation. (I am somewhat troubled, however, about your fondness of "water sports").

Rattling On said...

Many years ago a good friend, not a Dick, offered this sage advice...'If you have a good innuendo, never be afraid to stick it in'.
I am impressed, however, that you have managed to avoid this cheap tactic in favour of good old-fashioned debate. Dick, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

My dear Layzeeboy,
I like your spirit! It’s that kind of honest, open-minded attitude that makes me such an admirer all things the American, and question originating in Canada or France. My only dislike is of the North American grey squirrel which is currently killing all our domestic reds. I thought for a while I would grow to love the greys but since they have come to live in our eaves I’m after hardware (preferably with a .44 caliber) to rid myself of them. Sadly, because of the laws prohibiting the ownership of anti-squirrel hunting hardware, I’m currently using harsh words shouted towards the bedroom ceiling just after dawn.

As to my love of water-sports: I’m talking about good old fashioned women’s water polo in tanks with submerged viewing galleries. Nothing strange or odd there… I’m sure you understand. Nothing to lead to an escalation in tensions between our two great blogs/nations.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Rattling On,

Of course, I’m delighted that you spotted how not allowed this blog to descend to the level of innuendo. I’ve always wanted my Appreciation Society to uphold the highest values I’ve represented during my many years in broadcasting. I see myself as a fount of wisdom, a strong back for heavy burdens, a soft shoulder to cry on. You might say ‘saint’ and I would agree with you.

BoscoH said...

And don't forget former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Since leaving the House, he has gone on to create the website, where he gives Dicks and non-Dicks a venue for venting their renting rage.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

BoscoH, I have no idea who he is but, as I've just told him when I signed his petition, we need to stick together on this thing. If he's going to raise a Dick army, then I'm all with him on that.

Annie said...

Dear Dick, voting for a Dick simply because he's a Dick is, here in the civilized world, considered being a Dickist. We do not tolerate Dickism any more than we tolerate anti-Dickism. Sometimes it's hard not to vote for a Dick, since they're everywhere in our political system, but we simply don't vote pro-Dick or anti-Dick.
Your site appears to promote Dickism, which is hurtful and prejudice against non-Dicks. Please reconsider your Dickensian propensities. After all, we would never mock your lack of dental hygiene, but if you must know, it's the reason we first moved 3,000 miles upwind.

P.S. - get out of Ireland already.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Dear Anne,

This comes as a shock. I never realised how far my Dickism had spread. I see that it was wrong of me to put my name to some random internet petition because I liked the man’s name. Yet I seem to be stuck between to stools. Or even two Dicks. But don’t you see that I find it hard to be even handed with Dicks? Even Dick Cheney has been known to make me dewy eyed and sentimental. What that man has achieved with that name is nothing short of miraculous! I can only equate it to the achievements of Dick Nixon, surely another of the great Dicks.

Dental hygiene? You’re falling for the cruel stereotypes from The Simpsons. British teeth are no worse than American, though we don’t tend to go for that bleached grin that does away with the need for headlights. Do you know of Esther Rantzen in America? Well, you should. Not only is she our Oprah but she has the finest set of teeth on the planet or my name’s not Dick!

PS. I’m not in Ireland but an undisclosed part of North London.