Pebblehead Versus Pebblehead

“The annotation has been carried out on a scale which is necessarily extensive but which seeks at the same time to be as economical as possible in face of the twin challenges of Browning’s wide range of curious information and his immense and flexible vocabulary. Without the prior labours of A K Cook to draw upon, preparation of the body of notes would have been an even more formidable task than it in fact was. Despite all that has been transported to the present site from Cook’s Commentary, a great deal of ore remains in that capacious mine.”

So wrote Richard D Altick in his introduction to the Penguin English Poets edition of Robert Browning’s The Ring And The Book, which appeared in 1971. Curiously, in the very same year, exactly the same words were used – with “Dobson” instead of “Browning”, and “Pebblehead” in place of “Cook” – in the first edition of the mighty Complete Annotated Dobson edited by Ted Cack. The title was a misnomer, of course, because at that time Dobson still had a few years left, during which he penned some of his most awe-inspiring pamphlets. In fact recent Dobsonian scholarship has shown that, if anything, Cack’s tome might better have been called the Thoroughly Incomplete Annotated Dobson. That is not to cast aspersions on what remains a truly engaging work, and the first serious attempt to annotate Dobson in a systematic way.

The Pebblehead Cack refers to, the author of the “capacious mine” of Commentary wherein lies a great deal of ore yet to be recovered, was the father of Pebblehead the writer of all those bestselling paperbacks you find at airport bookstalls. It is regrettable in some ways that the achievements of Pebblehead père have been roundly eclipsed by the fame of Pebblehead fils, to the point where, today, the old man’s majestic Commentary on Dobson is forgotten by all but a few, and those few all in their dotage, dribbling and drooling, brains wizened and minds twitching and shattered. Ted Cack’s work, too, which as he acknowledges draws so heavily upon the elder Pebblehead, seems destined for the scrapheap, not least because the younger Pebblehead, king of the paperback potboiler, seems bent on obliterating all printed traces of his pa. He uses the considerable wealth he has accrued from the transient guff he peddles to buy up and burn on bonfires not just his pa’s own work, but any books, periodicals, journals, chapbooks, pamphlets, videocassettes and DVDs which so much as mention his name.

It is not for me to propose a psychological explanation for this preposterous campaign of Pebblehead’s, which smacks of atavistic impulse and ancient myth. Plenty of amateurs have tried their hands at doing so, with laughable results. Only last week there was some codswallop in the Daily Unhingement, claiming that an incident from the younger Pebblehead’s infancy, involving a sewing kit, a swarm of Africanised killer bees, and a newspaper report of the Munich Air Disaster, was at the root of the matter. As usual, there was no proof, no evidence, merely the blithering of a witless hack trying to jump-start their career.

As a corrective to such drivel, I have decided to set up a fighting fund to rescue the work of Pebblehead père from oblivion, while simultaneously urging a boycott of Pebblehead fils’ bestselling paperbacks. Among those already signed up are Carlos Santana, Lembit Opik, Dale Winton, Dustin Hoffman, and some of the top names in football, including Tord Grip, Pantsil, Crouch and Kaka. I hope you will join them.

One thought on “Pebblehead Versus Pebblehead

  1. Apart from the important reference material on the Hooting Yard website, which would you say IS the definitive book of Dobsonian reference? My copy of “Concordance Dobsonia” has been on back order for longer that it takes a child to learn how to walk and speak, and Readers Digest deny all knowledge of their publishing of the “Complete Index of Dobsonian Aphorisms”.

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