Christopher Martin-Jenkins have been full of accounts of the poor man's titanic struggles with modern technology. Here was a chap who was fully capable of mistaking his TV remote control for a mobile phone and trying to make calls on it. And he could never make head or tail of a computer, frequently mistaking the Delete and Send buttons, with catastrophic results. But, whatever the provocation offered by the high-tech world, CMJ was never heard to swear, making use instead of home-made oaths such as 'Fotherington-Thomas!'.
Yes, Fotherington-Thomas - literary offspring of Gussy Fink-Nottle and Madeleine Bassett - the 'gurl', 'wet' and 'utter weed' who skips his way through the pages of Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle's chronicles of prep-school life at St Custard's. The perfect foil to the self-consciously 'tuough' (but actually tender-hearted) Nigel Molesworth, Fotherington-Thomas is blithely unconcerned by the hostility of his fellows, and is in fact Molesworth's secret friend when the eyes of the tougher boys are off him. The two of them while away the time agreeably enough in and around the goal mouth during football matches, Fotherington-Thomas being the perpetual goalkeeper and Molesworth an idle full back. Oddly, for all his weedy wetness and 'Hullo clouds, hullo sky' catchphrase, Fotherington-Thomas was a fiend on the tennis court. Sadly, however, he did not distinguish himself on the cricket field... Anyway, it is good that the noble name of Fotherington-Thomas is yet alive, and as an inventive substitute for the F-word it has much to commend it.