there's one phrase that's indelibly associated with Stanley
Unwin, it's 'deep joy'. It sort of encapsulates the whole ethos
of Unwinese - seemingly unrelated twists on the language that
inevitably convey a wider, somehow more satisfying meaning.
oddly, Stanley wasn't the first to coin it.
He was working at
Plessey's and he was having trouble with a
prototype oscilloscope when his boss Douglas Jones, a
Welshman resplendent in Harris Tweed Plus Fours and a 'Tiger Tim'
lapel badge, came by to see whether he'd got it sorted. "Any joy?" he'd ask. "No joy,"
Stanley finally did manage to fix it, up came Douglas again:
joy!" his boss replied.
so a defining phrase was born and Stanley gratefully took it on
board. But how did he develop the
rest of his strange but strangely comprehensible lexicon?
himself put it down to the moment his mother tripped over while
walking home from her job as a cook at Bow Road Police Section
House. She told Stanley that she'd 'falolloped' in front of a
tram and grazed her 'kneeclappers'.
happened at a time when Stanley was learning German and French -
and brushing up on his English - at Regent Street Polytechnic in
the late Twenties.
He'd always had a love of languages and was a fan of
James Joyce, Charles Dickens and great speakers like Isaiah
term 'Unwinese' itself was actually first applied by Gerald
Nethercot who at the time (1950-ish) was the Publicity Officer
for the BBC Midlands Region. It quickly fell into common usage
to describe Stan's 'gobbledegook' (itself a word that is a
frequently handy but altogether lazy and inaccurate description)
and remains the accepted shorthand for the man's talk to this
before he branched into entertainment, Unwinese served Stanley
well on a number of occasions. During his time with BBC
Midlands, he was dispatched to the British Industries Trade Fair
in Birmingham to catch an interview with a VIP who was being
flown in by helicopter to a nearby airfield. Unfortunately,
Stanley's progress was halted by an over zealous jobsworth who
wouldn't let him in, even when the magic words 'BBC' were
uttered. Not one to miss a story, Stanley stood firm: "All
responsible Commissionaires realise the VIP Repeal and this
whole situation depends on a world tradey. Especially in
should have said so the first time," the guard said as he
opened the gate.
was developed further to quench the Unwin children's thirst for
fairy tales, which invariably started with "Once a polly
tighto..." and carried on in the 'twisty and corruptit of
the basic English twenty-fido' until one of them told him to
'tell it properly'.
the mantle of Unwinese continues to be taken up by comedians
like Jim Davidson, Peter Goodright and (especially) Freddie
Starr, all of whom can do it more or less off the cuff.
Sometimes it doesn't quite work, as anyone who ever caught Michael
Barrymore's 'hilarious' attempt when Stanley appeared on his
chat show will remember (Barrymore seemed to think it was
sufficient to add 'bold' onto the back of every third word.
finally, a special mention to one person who's making damned sure it still does
work and that's John Percival who can
do it at the drop of a hat and remains a worthy torch bearer
for all things Unwinesian.