Philomena Cunk is a character played by Diane Morgan. The character first appeared in Charlie Booker’s Weekly Wipe. Cunk would appear as a sort of “expert” who would examine various facets of the world or British society, mostly done in the “Moments of Wonder” segment of the show. I have never experienced a more hilarious combination of misunderstanding and genuine insight than with the people who write this character.
Morgan is brilliant herself as well. The deadpan deliveries she’s capable of, as well as to be able to improvise with just the most ridiculous follow up questions maker her a laugh riot. Eventually Philomena got her own show, sort of. There was a special on Shakespeare as well as the five-part mockumentary series “Cunk on Britain”. Both are brilliant and lead to this book “Cunk on Everything”.
The book is as funny as everything else Philomena Cunk. There are some stuff that is recycled from the show, and a few segments feel like “breadcrumbs” or “leftovers” from the show cutting floor. The book takes you through the alphabet, and explains the most important words each letter has. Its is sort of like a Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary, but funny.
Here are some of my favorite bits from the book:
▪ Z is sort of the iPhone X of the alphabet.
▪ Caterpillars are like insects, except they’re more like a haunted sleeping bag.
▪ Moths are like the BBC4 version of butterflies – a bit more boring, and mainly on at night.
▪ In the wild, tigers tend to eat more meat and less Frosties.
▪ It’s important to feed your tiger enough Frosties to stop him biting your head off, a lesson that either Siegfried or Freud learned tragically too late.
▪ Archaeology is the science of finding things that people in the past hid in the ground.
▪ Before architecture, there was caves. You didn’t build a cave, you just found it. And sometimes it was full of bears, which made it hard to put up wallpaper.
▪ Britain needed rebuilding, like a dropped Lego set
▪ People don’t like liars, which is why most artists earn no money and eventually starve to death.
▪ The first artist to work out how to do bums properly was Michael Angelo.
▪ Andy Warhole changed the world of art by painting with soup.
▪ Atoms are like little balls and sticks, like a sort of shit Lego they had in the war that your granddad might bang on about.
▪ Psychopathic drugs made Them Beatles stop singing simple songs about love and cars, and start writing about things that went a lot deeper, like submarines.
▪ Some people think it’s hard to imagine nothing, but I find it very easy. Imagine an orange. Now imagine it’s not there. Now do that with everything.
▪ The Big Bang was where everything started. And to be honest, it’s nice to have something to blame.
▪ The Black Death was a plague. Not a metaphorical plague like a metaphorical plague, but an actual plague – made of plague. The symptoms were disgusting: discoloured buboes grew in the groin and armpits, making even a light workout next to impossible. And it cut through the population like a deranged hairdresser.
▪ The Black Death really took the shine off the appeal of rats and fleas and shit, and arguably put people off them for ever.
▪ Nothing can escape from a black hole, not even David Blaine, which is why they’re interesting
▪ If you tried to eat a black hole, you might break a tooth, which would be disastrous but an interesting story to put on Facebook.
▪ A really big bestseller may be read by as many people as watch a ten-minute YouTube video about a teenager unboxing mascara brushes, so books are still a very important part of our culture.
▪ In May 2016, there was this election called a referendum, but it wasn’t like normal elections because what you voted for was actually going to happened
▪ Kids’ TV (or ‘Children’s Television’, to give it its medical term) is usually shorter, more colourful and shitloads better than everything else on TV. Plus, it’s a hotbed of radical politics and progressive issues, shaping the minds of tomorrow with animal antics and stuff that looks like it belongs in one of them wonky dreams you have when you’ve got flu.
▪ FIREMAN SAM
A show about how accident-prone the Welsh are.
▪ PEPPA PIG
A family of giggling pigs live on a hill in a parallel universe where NO ONE EVER MENTIONS SAUSAGES. They snort like pigs but talk like humans except they NEVER MENTION SAUSAGES. The show is banned in China, so it must be sending out secret messages. Though, obviously, NOT ONES ABOUT SAUSAGES.
▪ Coals is a fossil fuel, which is basically setting fire to dinosaurs
▪ When society decides that something is wrong, like stealing or murder, and you disagree with society, you get put in prison, with a load of people who agree with you. So everybody’s happy.
▪ Democracy means that it doesn’t matter who you are, your vote matters exactly the same: not very much.
▪ Dinosaurs ruled for ages and ages, very much like our own queen, until they were replaced by shy, less interesting mouse-like creatures who spent most of their time hiding amongst plants, like our own Prince Charles.
▪ Predicting the end of the world is tricky, and you’re best leaving it to the experts. Probably the biggest experts are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have predicted the end of the world in 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994 and 1997, so are getting really good at it
▪ Like the film Seven, The Bible ends with a sort of mass killing based on the number seven.
▪ The first people on Earth were animals that lived in the sea, until one of them – we don’t know his name – invented legs.
The many different languages make it much easier for humans not to understand each other, which is a great help to both arms manufacturers and racists
▪ This was known as the Age of Shivery, because it gets dead cold if you’re only wearing tins.
▪ Chaucer was the raciest writer of his day. His stories, like parks at night, are full of sex and poo.
▪ Books weren’t pointless like they are today.
▪ If I kept a monkey long enough, would it evolve into a boyfriend?
▪ Newspapers are a sort of paper version of Twitter for your nan.
▪ It’s the sort of idea that tells you more about Freud than anybody else, but what can you expect from a man who wanted to hump his mum?
▪ A niche hobby, basically extreme people-watching, that used to be restricted to the top shelf of the newsagent, but which has really caught on and now forms about 110 per cent of the internet.
▪ The Romans were so advanced they came with Latin pre-installed, like doctors or Boris Johnson. But unlike Boris Johnson they could speak in public, and use combs.
▪ Lenin led a revolution in 1917 that changed Russia from a corrupt country where a few people had uncontrolled power and riches into the country it is today.
▪ Where modern day us is interested in shoes and NutriBullets and tennis, Stones Age man was mainly interested in stones.
On Stone Age Weapons
▪ They’re boring and shit by today’s standards, but back then they were cutting edge, because they had a cutting edge.
▪ The phone used to be a thing for communicating with people. Now it’s for looking at and ignoring people
▪ Relativism has nothing to do with having your family over at Christmas
▪ The United States of Americans is a great big country on the other side of the world (or ‘the pond’, as they sometimes call it) where there’s Hollywood and hot dogs and huge cars and guns everywhere and cowboys and cactuses and skyscrapers and superheroes and stars and stripes.
But there’s more to the USA than that. Although, to be fair, not much more. That’s quite a lot already.
▪ The American constitution is like the most important thing for Americans, because it goes back so far into history. It was written down in 1787, making America nearly as old as Addis, the company that makes pedal bins and washing up bowls.
▪ They came from Denmark, like Lego, and like Lego, if you stood on a Viking in bare feet, it would really hurt.
▪ Virtual reality is a way of experiencing total freedom by trapping yourself in a tight electric helmet.
▪ Xylophones are not used much in music, at least not compared to the guitar or the laser harp. They are mainly used in alphabet books and posters for children, to teach them about the sound ‘x’. They do this by beginning with the sound ‘z’, which doesn’t help.