Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Surprising Face of Benny Hill

I am trying to type this at the kitchen table. 
It's not easy.
As the three terriers sleep after their early morning walk,Mabel is trying to employ every trick in her large repertoire to gain my attention. She has done everything from bulldog "Jazz hands" to balancing a milk bottle on her nose (in my imagination), in an effort to court favour and I am determined not to be beaten by her multi pronged approach......its hard.....but the girl needs to be trained
Now what crap will I be writing today, over my first cup of coffee?
More daring do on the field?
another saga about Auntie Glads scones
No...today children, we are going to talk about innapropriate and sexist behavoiurs
Benny Hill,  it would seem is alive a well and living in North Wales

Dinosaurs exist

On Saturday Chris took me to dinner with several of his work colleagues. The venue was lovely, the food rather fine and the conversations, varied and interesting... it was a night for grown ups.....(not quite what I am used to)
Our table was situated next to the maitre d's station.  The maitre d  is quite a delightful woman, and is the perfect host for any successful restaurant as she is crisp, efficient, hard working and funny to boot! We have gotten to know her rather well over the years, and every time she greets us with a hearty "hello chaps" we beam at her like schoolboys......anyhow I digress...

Towards the end of the meal, as I was chatting away in what I thought was an urbane and witty manner, I suddenly noticed my fellow diners looking over my shoulder at the maitre d station with a mixture of concern, and disgust and I turned to see a male customer gazing somewhat theatrically down the cleavage of the maitre d.
Now this was no subtle and sneaky peep I am talking about here........it was a full on public Mr Magoo type leer that would have put the likes of Berlusconi to shame......and it's1970s brazenness not only shocked us but it deeply upset the Maitre d, who couldn't quite believe what she was seeing!

For one awful second, I had the impression  that the guy was going to go further, but thank goodness he didn't and the embarrassing situation soon passed....but the whole scene left a rather nasty taste in the mouth, especially as the woman involved had been unfairly "slapped" by the encounter.

I can't remember witnessing such stupidity before....am I just being naive?


  1. Where has this man been living for the past forty years?
    France, perhaps, where Benny Hill is a great favourite and sexist behaviour is explained away as 'appreciation'.

  2. Sounds like the sort of thing I would do after a few bevvies at a high-class party.

  3. what would have really tipped the scales is where he slips a £20 note in the cleavage and winks and clicks ! ..."thats for you sweetheart...." now we're talking the Sweeney !!......"pop your knickers on sweetheart and going make me a cup of tea !!"

  4. A quiet word in his shell-like might have been appropriate.

  5. Sadly, that kind of behaviour is normal in the City of London - I would go so far as to say expected. One of the major investment banks - UBS - had a limousine from Spearmint Rhino parked outside its premises every night - in full view of any commuter travelling through Liverpool Street.

  6. It’s interesting to consider what is thought as ‘disgusting’, and what is ‘not’. In your example I consider the context, which you style as a “night for grown ups…urbane and witty”, something I find intriguing yet, at the same time, also slightly uncomfortable.

    Of course, knowing you, I do recognise your (mischievous) irony here. But it does make me consider how this behaviour ‘polluted’ the ‘nice’ context. To be playfully contentious, I have no idea what, for instance, a “night for grown ups” actually means, nor for whom. But that’s another conversation, I guess.

    What this also makes me think about is ‘who’ can be a legitimate ‘victim’, and who is ‘not’. Whilst not condoning the ‘breast stare’ you describe, I am increasingly aware of the casual insults made about men (in advertising, particularly, but also in everyday life) that are somehow ‘acceptable’.

    That ‘men can’t multitask’, that men ‘are poor communicators’, that ‘men cannot empathise’ and (more darkly) that ‘there’s something weird about men who want to work with kids’ reflects a cultural turn, a toxic and intolerant sensibility, of a similar kind to the talk/behaviour you style as being ‘sexist’.

    But, of course, this is another discussion…


  7. I'm echoing Blue Shed Thinking; whilst not ignoring Nigel I'm on the other side of the gender divide.
    With Spearmint Rhinos and no end of lap-dancing clubs perfectly acceptable as corporate entertainment or lads' night out, should we really be surprised? Benny has not quite left us yet...

  8. yes nige... the witty and adult were ironic comments!

  9. also..I think I was more taken back by the "power" the guy exerted with the behaviour he casually ( or perhaps not sooo casually) exhibited

  10. @John >yes nige... the witty and adult were ironic comments!

    I will treat you to a cup of tea and a teacake in a greasy spoon when I visit (when you send dates, hint). But I will ensure that our conversation is "urbane" :-o


    @US readers: I'll leave John to explain "teacake" and "greasy spoon". Even folk in Yorkshire disagree what the former means.

  11. I think when you mention the exerting of 'power' you have hit the nail on the head John. This isn't about 'appreciation' as Fly in the Web states the French like to hide behind, this is about one person's (and in this case a man's) demonstration of domination over another. This behaviour goes on in a myriad of examples every day.

    I read this, this morning...
    "Whatever you have to say it with love. And whatever you have to hear, hear it with love."

    It takes baby steps to make this a perfect world.

  12. I once worked with a woman who was well blessed in the bosom department and she used to complain about one bloke whose conversation was always directed at her chest

    I wasn't that bloke, but confess that 'they' did have quite a hypnotic effect and it took a conscious effort of will to look her in the eye!

    Love the Benny Hill caption by the way - dinosaurs exist or dinosaur sexist?!

  13. I think as a Maitre D for so long, she is more then equipped to deal with disgusting leers.

  14. Anonymous12:35 pm

    Yes he was a jerk...however, having said that, if you don't like being examined at close range, cover up; especially if your job is with the public. Probably an out of date and old fashioned opinion but there it is.

  15. This one has sparked a lively debate hasn't it? Is it only wrong if you get caught? I'm not sure where the line should be drawn these days...but if the woman was upset/offended/embarrassed then it has certainly been crossed

  16. It is a power thing, and sometimes even a strong and confident woman is unsure of how to handle such a thing without creating a scene, aggression or having the perp twist the story and state she's ugly or something similar.

    There was a horrible Leering man from Texas at a resort my family was staying at, there to work on his marriage. Each night he got more and more inappropriate with several of our group of young women in our party. In the end a few of our young men took him aside and told him to lay off. Security was made aware of him as I was worried that there may be a fight if he laid a hand on, or gestured towards our girls again. In the end, the girls were talking about what a perv he was at the pool the next day and were unbenownst to them sitting by his wife. He never showed at the pub or nightclub again that week.

  17. He was a complete twerp, who probably thought he was being really funny or clever. He's the sort of person who will engage a woman in inappropriate conversation on the bus or in the supermarket queue, ignoring the normal signs to shut up or push off. Then if the target of his unwanted attention is rude to him she is labelled as touchy, prudish or suchlike.
    Probably a harmless plonker but it makes the rest of us cringe.

  18. When i was in banking, where mybabyJohn/Delores, we had a strict dress code, we always saw a few men who ogled in a creepy way. I was working on the teller line, and one day i snapped when one of the creepiest stared disgustingly yet again (he got paid weekly, so this had been going on for some time).

    "Looking at them won't make then grow, and they're not going to dance for you," i said. My voice tends to be rather sharp and carries without much effort, but this time, i did project a bit, so everyone in the bank heard.

    He turned scarlet, and few other men looked somewhat uncomfortably at their shoes.

    He did all he could not to stand at my window again. Stupid git.


  19. megan
    spoken like a true warrior!

  20. Maybe it's just my opinion, but are they not on show a tiddly bit more nowadays ?
    I guess it's OK to look not to ogle ...

  21. That would be derring do, not daring do...

  22. Unfortunately that sort of lecherous male seems to be getting more common rather than less. He deserved a good slap himself, either from the maitre d' or from one of the other males. But he no doubt relies on the fact that everyone's too shocked to make an effective response.

  23. If he was so rude any intervention would have been wasted on him - obviously he believes he has the right to behave in such a shouse manner!

  24. Anonymous3:59 am

    My mom used to tell a story about a military ball she attended with my father where one of the officers in attendance was a horrible lecher. He kept ogling all the women, making offensive comments, staring at their breasts, and sidling up too close and breathing on them. He did that is, until a tall and statuesque wife of another officer got tired of it and walked up to him, cupped his groin with her hand for a second, then stepped back and told him, "You're not very well hung for a man your size, are you?" Evidently, he slunk away and left all the women alone for the rest of the night.
    Military wives can be formidable adversaries when it's called for. I love them.
    D :)

  25. That man was a pig. Wait, no, I don't mean to insult the pigs ...

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