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Lessons That I Learnt from Being a Bean Soup Editor by Justin Thomson Glover

I have been asked to write an introduction to the Saffer, Geoff Morrell (yes that one!), Karl See, and Justin T-G years of Bean Soup, which range between – according to my slightly hazy memory –  1987 through to – in various fits and starts – to the early/mid 90s.

 As I have a fair amount of trouble remembering events such as: the previous week, why I went into the kitchen, or what I may or may not have done to upset my wife and children – it is with some trepidation that I cast my mind back 25 years ago to a small community about 4000 miles away from where I am currently sitting (Spreyton, Devon, England).  But to kick start some thoughts, I thought a list of lessons that I learnt from being a Bean Soup editor is as good as place to start, since the experience of writing, speaking, and listening to the journals of the Pemi community was a fairly influential part of my existence – up til now.  Or at least that’s what my therapist says.

Anyway a list of jumbled and ill-thought-out comments follow below, which already does much to remind me of the mind-set that I experienced as an editor all those years ago.

Pemi Editor List:

  1. Giving yourself time to write an article is generally a good thing but a situation that never seemed to occur due to enormous amounts of “faffing” (an English word – not sure if it exists across the pond?!),  idleness, and constant belief that the whole thing might go away if you waited long enough;
  2. Giving yourself no time at all is stressful, scary, and not necessarily a good thing but remains my ongoing professional and social modus operandi.
  3. Not being funny is generally a bad thing and can lead to mental scarring;
  4. Tom Reed Jr’s standard of article writing means that at least one part of Bean Soup can compete with the best writing in the world. I’m currently working with a couple of vaguely famous screenwriters and I bet they couldn’t have written the epic oeuvre “One Armed Brake-person”;
  5. Sitting on a precariously balanced metal chair 4 feet up on a rickety table over a group of bemused looking 8-year-olds is not advisable;
  6. Having a co-editor who can write very funny articles at a drop of hat is a bad thing, and the noise of a highly appreciative audience’s laughter at his very funny article is a terrible thing to hear when you realize that the article you are about to read parodying an event involving a canoe, a camper, and a cake might not work as well as you initially hoped;
  7. Any article that contains a list is probably a good thing as there is an expectation from the audience that at least one item must be funny.  Even if none of the items do succeed in hitting the spot, the audience do at least appreciate that you can count.  It also allows you to include the word “pagoda,” which never fails to amuse, unless you try and use it in front of a room full of accountants as part of a detailed business presentation or as a way to break the ice with a potential girlfriend;
  8. Reading an article, finishing, and then being able to hear a pin drop is character forming;
  9. Being in the Lodge hearing 200 people laugh at an article and feeling the electricity of a unique camp community buzz all around you and realizing that you are part of one of the great communities in the world is a good thing;
  10. Parodying a Pemi song is life-affirming:

A Song that could be parodied:

Bloomer Girl

In the style of Rakim, KRS – One, Snoop Dogg, and Dr Dre:  Very much unaccompanied with a fair amount of blowing and self-inflicted drum beats with a slight look of wariness and humbleness combined with a pinch of macho pride.

****: ****; *****:  ! ! !
Bloomer Bloomer Girl;
*******; ******:
********; *****,
Bloomer Girl.


A new song called “Pagoda” – in the style of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

I would hope that if we could get the Junior camp to memorise the words it might go viral very quickly.

Caught in a bad smell

Caught in a bad smell

Ooh what a bad smell

That’s quite a bad smell.

Were you at Pemi during the 1980’s?  If you are interested in receiving one issue or more from 1980-1989, please let me know. I will be happy to send you any given issue or issues in PDF form.  You may contact me at alumni. Stay tuned for future releases.  ~Nikki Wilkinson Tropeano

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