from “Auberon Waugh’s Diary”
by Auberon Waugh
illustration by Willy Rushton
in “Private Eye” February 1985
“Three cheers because Biggles is back,” trills lovely, broad-bottomed Glenda Lee Potter. “Squadron Leader James Bigglesworth DSO DFC is being reincarnated on our screens to enchant small boys,” she shrieks.
Poor Glenda is possibly not au fait with the latest research in the English Literature Department of Strathclyde University. It seems to prove that Biggles was not only an alcoholic but also a raving pooftah.
A few years ago one might not have objected to the idea of this drunken Nancy boy being put on television to tempt small boys. If they wanted to be buggered, that was their own affair. It was still a free country.
But since the arrival of the disease called AIDS, which destroys the body’s natural immunities, it seems rather irresponsible to encourage small boys to take up a hobby of this sort. They might infect the rest of us by bleeding over our toes or peeing on our mosquito bites.
Both Waugh’s diary entry and Rushton’s cartoon are each offensive by various criteria, but by God they made me laugh when I first saw them.
There’s a certain talent to Waugh's managing to make almost every line harbour some objectionable content. And Rushton, following Waugh’s argument, manages a nice line in RAF paedophile banter. If Biggles and co really did have designs on little boys this is just how they’d express themselves.
Waugh’s repetition of “little boys” reminds me of similar gay=paedophile insinuations in Monty Python’s Carl French sketch. The idea of homosexuality being a choice is nicely played off with the idea that boys will emulate Biggles’s homosexuality. Waugh’s suave fantasy then swerving into disdainful confusion about the transmission of AIDS also raises an inappropriate laugh.
If I find this all more amusing than similar attempts by the likes of Ricky Gervaise, I suspect it’s probably a matter of contained and modulated tone. Ah me, a traitor to the cause and an aspirant snob to boot.