Tuesday, 6 January 2009

214: Private Eye and Pooves

from “Private Eye” 2 November 1962

from “Private Eye” 10 January 1964

In its earliest years, “Private Eye” was very fond of throwing the word “poove” around as an all-purpose comic word. Partly, it’s a residue of school-boy humour. Partly, it’s because the daring liberality of the new satire afforded humorists easy access to such comic dynamite as “knickers”, “bum” and “potty” - as Frankie Howerd said at the time, “That’s not filth, that’s satire”. Finally, the decline of Macmillan’s years as Prime Minister was accompanied by a series of scandals in which homosexuality or rumours of it played an ever more important part. So “poove” almost became a catchphrase for the magazine - a word they would use which most magazines couldn’t or wouldn’t. I think you could even buy an “I am a Poove” T-shirt at one point in the mid-60s. In most instances there’s not much thought given to its use. They even go through spates of accusing one another on the editorial masthead of being “pooves”. These two examples are a bit more rigorous. In neither of these two pieces in much done with homosexuality. The idea of a national “poove”-inspired crisis is hilarious in itself (and can even belittle the panic surrounding the Bay of Pigs). It’s enough just to take a news story and replace a recurring key word with “poove”.

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