The Nether Regions

The blog that slips an affectionate hand between the thighs of the regional media

The Cult of Alfred H Lister (Part I)

with 2 comments

The Cult of Alfred H Lister was founded in 2007 when I discovered the most baffling newspaper letter ever penned while reading the Evening Gazette in the bath.

Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  8 August 2007:

Cleverness of laughing clown

IT TAKES a clever person to hold a serious job and now and again act the fool.

Like when Socialist Denis Healey, on the campaign trail here in Guisborough, was beckoned by myself and asked perfunctorily about his health. He replied thus: “I am full of beans.” He then took my wife’s hand and patted his tummy with it.

For those of you who did not know that Denis Healey got a double first degree (Hons) at Oxford, you do now. Oh, and I wondered whether or not Denis Healey had heard about the law of raspberry jam, that is the farther you spread it the thinner it gets. Not unlike culture.

ALFRED H LISTER, Guisborough

This is a letter possessing the rare quality of being increasingly nonsensical and mind-boggling with repeated reading. Unique in tone, wonderfully crafted and brimming with abstract observations, its discovery was an epiphany. I simply had to know more about Alfred H Lister. Following some routine research it was quickly established that he was a serial letter correspondent in local newspapers across the north-east. It was inevitable really: anyone who insists upon using the initial of their middle name is usually a serial something-or-other.

Much like falling in love with a band for the first time, I’ve followed his work ever since and enthusiastically delved into the back catalogue  (I’ve also asked him to sign my breast, naturally). It is now an overwhelming pleasure to be able to spread the word (farther and thinner, like raspberry jam) about the incredible Alfred H Lister over several blog instalments, as tradition dictates.

The Northern Echo, 15 April 2008:


I SMILED when cleric-columnist Peter Mullen’s butcher in London’s Smithfield Market cracked the one about him spending the collection money on meat (Echo, Apr 11). I wonder just how many butchers joke with vicars, and vice versa.

One also wonders just what this butcher would make of Peter Mullen’s column in The Northern Echo. Actually, I don’t suppose the butcher knows about Peter Mullen being a columnist in the Echo, itself a Northern newspaper.

Well aside from having a good sense of humour, Peter Mullen occasionally creates quite a bit of controversy, he being no friend of the Government and saying so with vigour. In short, Peter Mullen is my favourite columnist in the Echo.

Alfred H Lister, Guisborough.

I’m really pleased he didn’t just write the ‘in short’ version.

As we’ll learn while this series progresses, Alfred H Lister has publicly mused upon every possible topic of relevance to the human psyche. Here’s what he thinks about the human soul:

Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 17 December 2007:

THE pro-soul case would run thus (Our Faith Tested, 30.11.07): good conduct is respect which you owe to yourself in some mysterious way, and people are manageable in proportion to their possession of this self respect.

Yes there is a mysterious something in us called the soul, which deliberate wickedness kills, and without which no material gain can make life bearable.

Good conduct is not dictated by reason but by a divine instinct that is beyond reason.

Reason only discovers the shortest way there, it does not discover the destination.

My own views regarding the soul, an invisible entity within the body, are that rather like the existence of somebody called God, the both of them need to be seen, that is by a few credible witnesses, before they can be believed.

ALFRED H LISTER, Guisborough

My view about letters like these is that they also need to be seen, that is by a few credible witnesses, before they can be believed.


Written by Paddy

March 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Guisborough has a new local hero.

    Michael Laverick

    April 6, 2010 at 7:17 pm

  2. A ‘new’ one? How about one…?


    April 6, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: