"Tooking for a Lowel" - remembering Patrick Campbell

Patrick Campbell, BBC TV, 1970
Lying awake to the cacophonous accompaniment of nightlong rubble clearance from the demolition site below my balcony, my sleep deprived mind came briefly, if randomly, to rest on a reminiscence of an old-style Irish columnist, raconteur and 'personality' (we had these in the days before celebrities) called Patrick Campbell. 
It occurred to me that if he were alive today he'd have made a perfect blogger, with his unfailing ability to weave something from nothing. For example, long before Douglas Adams wrote Hitch Hiker's Guide, Patrick Campbell had penned a short story called Tooking for a Lowel, possibly the first literary exploration of the effects of separation from one's bath towel. Did Adams plagiarise it? Almost certainly not, but it's not important.
The reason for Campbell's night visitation was another of his stories in which he describes, in excruciating detail, trying to write his column while a road gang were giving it big licks with pneumatic drills just outside his window. As he observed, it's not the drill noise itself that destroys the nerves. The brain can shut out almost any constant noise. It's the sudden silences punctated by the gasping compressor, the sudden restart of the next salvo. It's the anticipation that murders sleep. The dread. 
Campbell had his drills. I have my JCB. Pity the poor souls in Libya whose current 'irritation' is heavy ordnance.


  1. You and Patrick Campbell are kindred spirits it seems. Hopefully your demolition crew will bash themselves out of work soon and your nights can return to normal.

  2. theguff - I'm hoping they'll have finished by the time I get back from work today. If not, it's another night in the pub...


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