Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Using NHS as a football will be a Tory own goal (Times)

Downing Street’s determination to drop its consensual line on health service failures could backfire with voters, says Rachel Sylvester.

2. UK benefits cap is great politics but cynical policy (Financial Times)

It is a mistake to think the limit is anything other than a symbol, writes John McDermott.

3. The coalition failed to act on my concerns about the NHS (Daily Telegraph)

Ministers' determination to pin responsibility for any problems revealed by the Keogh report on the last government is cynical politicking, says Andy Burnham.

4. Cigarette packaging: the corporate smokescreen (Guardian)

Noble sentiments about individual liberty are being used to bend democracy to the will of the tobacco industry, writes George Monbiot.

5. Britain should rise above Russian might (Financial Times)

By blocking a public inquiry into Litvinenko, the UK plays to the most cynical Putin-esque instincts, says Gideon Rachman.

6. Race is a constant in US life - as elsewhere (Independent)

The death of Trayvon Martin has proved that race is still a factor in national life – but name one country on earth which has a significant racial minority where it is not, writes Rupert Cornwell.

7. You can't nurture families as the government is uprooting them (Guardian)

A report advocating a reprise of the Sure Start vision is heart-warming but seems unreal as the coalition cuts and cuts, says Polly Toynbee.

8. We must answer the 100,000-euro question (Daily Telegraph)

Britain cannot debate leaving the EU properly without a good idea of what it would mean, writes Gisela Stuart.

9. Let’s not rest until we’ve stubbed out smoking (Times)

Having a cigarette is not a human right, says Oliver Kamm. 

10. If Samantha Cameron's 'grounded', I'm the next Tory PM (Guardian)

Fawning over the prime minister's unelected, aristocratic wife fits the pattern of a party that still doesn't take women seriously, says Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett.

Getty
Show Hide image

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