Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, on bogus jobs stats, abortion and Cameron's gaffe.

1. The Express is wrong: Half of all new jobs have gone to UK citizens

At Left Foot Forward, Nicola Smith and Richard Exell rebut the claim by the Express (based on data from the Spectator) that 98 per cent of new jobs since 1997 have gone to migrant workers. Data shows that UK nationals have taken 50 per cent.

2. Why abortion will be a campaign issue in 2010

With David Cameron's pledge to reduce the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20 or 22, this issue will be more prominent during the campaign than in any recent election, says Sunder Katwala.

3. Leading Tory gay activist to vote Labour

Over at the Guardian, Simon Jeffery reports that the founder of the LGBTory group plans to vote for Labour in anger at Cameron's refusal to condemn Chris Grayling for his suggestion that B&B owners should "have the right" to turn away gay couples.

4. Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms

Liberal Conspiracy's Don Paskini explains why the Tories' "efficiency savings" would destroy their "Swedish schools" plans.

5. David Cameron is right

In a campaign gaffe, the Tory leader rather foolishly told BBC Radio Derby that he preferred Nottingham to Derby. But, argues Hopi Sen, he was right.

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Why do the words “soup, swoop, loop de loop” come to mind every time I lift a spoon to my lips?

It’s all thanks to Barry and Anita.

A while ago I was lending a friend the keys to our house. We keep spare keys in a ceramic pot I was given years ago by someone who made it while on an art-school pottery course. “That’s er . . . quite challenging,” the friend said of the pot.

“Is it?” I replied. “I’d stopped noticing how ugly it is.”

“Then it’s a grunty,” she said.

“A what?” I asked.

“A grunty. It’s something you have in your house that’s hideous and useless but you’ve stopped noticing it completely, so it’s effectively invisible.”

I was much taken with this idea and realised that as well as “grunties” there are also “gruntyisms”: things you say or do, though the reason why you say or do them has long since been forgotten. For example, every time we drink soup my wife and I say the same thing, uttered in a strange monotone: we say, “Soup, swoop, loop de loop.” How we came to say “soup, swoop, loop de loop” came about like this.

For a married couple, the years between your mid-thirties and your late forties might be seen as the decade of the bad dinner party. You’re no longer looking for a partner, so the hormonal urge to visit crowded bars has receded, but you are still full of energy so you don’t want to stay in at night, either. Instead, you go to dinner parties attended by other couples you don’t necessarily like that much.

One such couple were called Barry and Anita. Every time we ate at their house Barry would make soup, and when serving it he would invariably say, “There we are: soup, swoop, loop de loop.” After the dinner party, as soon as we were in the minicab going home, me and Linda would start drunkenly talking about what an arse Barry was, saying to each other, in a high-pitched, mocking imitation of his voice: “Please do have some more of this delicious soup, swoop, loop de loop.” Then we’d collapse against each other laughing, convincing the Algerian or Bengali taxi driver once again of the impenetrability and corruption of Western society.

Pretty soon whenever we had soup at home, Linda and I would say to each other, “Soup, swoop, loop de loop,” at first still ridiculing Barry, but eventually we forgot why we were saying it and it became part of the private language every couple develop, employed long after we’d gratefully ceased having soupy dinners with Barry and Anita.

In the early Nineties we had an exchange student staying with us for a year, a Maori girl from the Cook Islands in the southern Pacific. When she returned home she took the expression “soup, swoop, loop de loop” with her and spread it among her extended family, until finally the phrase appeared in an anthropological dissertation: “ ‘Soup swoop, loop de loop.’ Shamanistic Incantations in Rarotongan Food Preparation Rituals” – University of Topeka, 2001. 

This article first appeared in the 21 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The English Revolt