I used a picture of Professor Frink in my last post. Simpsons fans will remember the episode in which, as an anti-crime measure, he designs a robot house that sprouts legs when anyone tries to burgle it and runs away.
A little-known fact about Professor Frink is a project he undertook for Evelyn Waugh as part of the novelist’s plans for getting into the British retail sector. Waugh was so impressed by the robot house idea, he thought what the market needed next was a chain of robot chemists that would move around and pay home visits to their customers. The shops would come with a PA system that roared his name out, just so everyone knew he was behind this brilliant scheme. Everything was going according to plan until that pesky civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr decided to get all nimbyish about it. His orchard was the pride and joy of his life, but wasn’t just any old orchard. It was devoted exclusively to a much-maligned tree, one that’s poisonous to cattle and is normally confined to graveyards. It was also, for reasons no one quite understood, arranged in a doughnut shape around the largest branch of Evelyn Waugh’ shop. No robot with a stupid megaphone shouting a fogeyish old novelist’s name was going to trample his beloved orchard underfoot. Anyway, the planning permission hearing went ahead, and as the novelist and the inventor made their way in they found the reverend trying to organise one of his trademark peaceful protests outside, complete with Pete Seeger, Bono and lots of other annoying old numpties holding hands and singing protest songs. Professor Frink’s patience snapped. He could stand it no more. Confronting his nemesis, he screamed: ‘These Boots were made for Waugh, King, and they’re going to Waugh-call over yew.’