Did I promise “More on Snopes”?

OK. Here we go.

I briefly made it into

Now, before I say anything, I do like Snopes a great deal. That and the alt.folklore.legends page are must-reads for anybody, before they forward another bogus (and they mostly all are) “you’ll never believe this really happened” message to, like, every member of their friends and family in their e-mail address book.

Apparently, a line I used last in last Thursday’s post has become semi-viral:

To quote an old Londoner who lived through the blitz and got caught up in the Canary Wharf explosion: “I’ve been blown up by a better class of bastard than this!”

I also put it on, as a graphic linking to the British Red Cross, hoping that might help (on any given week, Gamespy tells me the Dork Tower site can get tens of thousands of unique visitors).

Now, here’s where the fun begins…it seems as if the giant London Quotes LiveJournal page, Daily Kos, and more took it from there (or from each other – they used the phrasing from my blog verbatim). Then it seems to have semi-exploded (Go ahead and Google “I’ve been blown up by a better class of bastard than this!” and you’ll see what I mean)…up to the point where felt compelled to weigh in on it, and others.

I wish I’d saved a copy of the original Snopes entry, words to the effect of “The earliest source we have for this quote was in John Kovalic’s journal. In his blog, Kovalic, a former Wisconsin State Journal reporter, says he left London for Madison, WI, July 1. So though this does not disprove that he overheard such a quote from an “old Londoner,” that, along with the unnamed second-hand quote, and the fact that it was posted by an American, raises doubts. That fink-faced rat-bastard.”

Or something like that.

I’d forgotten where I’d stumbled across the line. I had a vague recollection of hearing something like that 10 years ago, following Canary Wharf. (It puts me in mind of Spike Milligan’s “Hitler – My Part in his Downfall” line: “I hope you bloody well crash!”). But I knew I’d seen it that morning on another LiveJournal.

A less-than-quick search of the ol’ Firefox history cache for Thursday pointed me back to a comment made by one Quintus on one s0b’s journal. (There’s actually a weird circular twist, here, but it’s a bit confusing, so I won’t go into that now).

Somewhat odd that Snopes’d identify me as former ex-Wisconsin State Journal, though.


Perhaps…perhaps…still, how’d they find that out, but missed that I’m a dual-national? And it’s not like I’m hard to get ahold of. They could have dropped me a line. They never write…never call…nuttin’…sniff, sniff.

Anyhoo, I wrote back to them, letting them know (a) I was a dual national (as they didn’t seem to realize), (b) that I’d not heard it first-hand (as they seemed to believe) , and (c) that I originally saw Thursday morning posted by Quints (who seems a very decent bloke, by the way).

So, as of this morning, the new entry in Snopes for the incident is:

To quote an old Londoner who lived through the blitz and got caught up in the Canary Wharf explosion: “I’ve been blown up by a better class of bastard than this!”

The above is a mutation of a post made by quintus to the LiveJournal kept by s0b: “I recall a quote from an old Londoner who lived through the blitz and got caught up in the Canary wharf explosion: ‘I’ve been blown up by a better class of b@stard than this!'”

quintus (who gives his location as in “Britain, rather rural and extremely scenic”) further explains its origins in his own LiveJournal:

There is a quote I like to use in these circumstances. About 10 years ago, there was an IRA attack in London and one of those slightly hurt was an old man who had lived through the German bombing of London.

He said this:

“I’ve been bombed by a better class of b@stard than this!”

quintus does not now remember where he picked up that bon mot, only that it was common currency among his circle of friends at the time of the 1996 failed IRA attempt to bomb Canary Wharf and the bombing a month later in South Quay. He thinks there may have been an interview with a survivor of the attack, with the quote coming from there.

(A special thank you to John Kovalic, a former reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal who now runs the web site, for helping us unravel the origins of the ‘better class of bastard’ quote.)

And that, my friends, is one way to lose four hours out of an already buggered-up workday: obsessively tracking down and verifying a quote (at least when I was a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal, I’d get paid for something like that).

I may not be the center of the story anymore. But I do have the “special thanks” from a site I admire.

So. What shall we go semi-viral on, next?



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