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On The Absence Of Shadows

February 24, 2009

paris-tunnel


Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light.
John Ruskin

In the last few months I’ve bought music by Conlon Nancarrow, La Monte Young, Milton Babbit, Edgard Varèse, Federico Mompou, Bootsy Collins, Dexter Gordon, The Replacements, Pere Ubu, The Gun Club and George Crumb.

Books by Blaise Cendrars, Boris Vian, Kenneth Fearing, Djuna Barnes and Jim Thompson.

DVDs of Vigo’s L’Atalante, Cocteau’s Le Testament d’Orphee, Renoir’s Boudou Sauvé des Eaux, Abel Gance’s Napoleon and Murnau’s Nosferatu.

This is a reduced list but the point is, 25 years ago all of these films, books and LPs were difficult if not impossible to come by. I remember my delight in finding a copy of Bootsy Collins’ album Ahh…The Name Is Bootsy, Baby, an LP I’d owned in the late 70’s but by the mid-80’s no longer in print and hard to find.

I remember the pleasure of finding an old copy of Boris Vian’s J’irai Cracher Sur Vos Tombes (I’ll Spit On Your Grave), a long neglected work by a then forgotten writer.

I remember the feeling of occasion when I went to see Abel Gance’s Napoleon in 1982 in NYC. The film had not been seen in over 50 years and had been thought lost. A special 3-part screen was constructed and a score was composed by Carmine Coppola (father of Francis Ford Coppola), who conducted a live orchestra at the screening I went to.

I remember how difficult it used to be to find recorded works by La Monte Young, Conlon Nancarrow and Federico Mompou, books by A.J.Liebling and Jim Thompson and as for owning copies of films by Vigo and Cocteau and Renoir…well, that was just a pleasant fantasy.

And now? All of the aforementioned works are just a few clicks of a mouse away. Which leads me to wonder: has my pleasure in these films and books and LPs been somehow diminished, in quality or in quantity? Has the ease of acquisition brought with it a sort of deadening of the brain’s pleasure centres?

On the one hand, I’m delighted that so much work that was once obscure and hard to find is now readily available. On the other hand…I don’t know. I can’t help feeling that the old delight in a serendipitous find–the book long sought-for discovered in a junk-shop cardboard box, the LP only heard of but never actually heard discovered in a charity shop, the rare showing of an old and obscure film–the unexpected pleasure that these things gave, the feeling of good news suddenly received, is now lost. And foolishly or not, I feel poorer for it. Maybe it’s just me.

132 Comments
  1. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 9:31 AM

    I’ve been having the same conversation, recently. The other day I joined Spotify and thought, “fantastic – now I can check out all the ‘classic’ albums I’ve never heard, decide if they are classic or not and then proceed accordingly (i.e. buy or acquire them some way)”. I couldn’t get through an album; two songs in and I’d be thinking about the next one. There was no sense of investment, of wanting to inhabit the music, my mind was already on the next thing. It was an eerie feeling. The commodity invested seems to be switching from money to time; at least for the consumer (and Nokia customers).

  2. February 24, 2009 10:21 AM

    It’s the thrill of the chase innit? I’ve spent 30 years tracking down the work of Raymond Queneau and have enjoyed the pursuit. However the only novel of his ” Hard Winter” that is not in print only came to light thanks to the internet.

    There are a few books of his poetry still not translated so my twilight years could be profitably spent harrassing publishers to do the job – a restraining order on me by John Calder could be my next goal.

  3. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 11:21 AM

    When I was a teenager I used to love tracking down old Michael Moorcock paperbacks from the 70s with these great, colourful, trashy psychedelic covers. I’d trawl the second hand bookshops and compare the different covers before picking the one I liked best (Moorcock editions never seemed to stay in print for long). I never see them much, anymore. Guess the collectors grabbed them all up (or no one cares anymore). Guess this crosses over with the McRum thread.

  4. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 11:26 AM

    McCrum. Although McRum makes him sound like a Pictish Pirate.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 24, 2009 11:51 AM

      I used to collect trashy pulp fiction, mainly judged on the cover art (invariably lurid as hell) and the chest-beating titles (ably parodied by Tim Cahill in his collection Jaguars Ripped My Flesh). That was 25 years ago. You never, ever see them anymore.

      As you say, collectors have snapped them all up and now charge silly money for them. But buying them from a specialist dealer is no pleasure, so I don’t bother.

  5. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 12:02 PM

    ‘buying them from a specialist dealer is no pleasure’

    I agree. it’s all about the finding, or the ‘chase’, as Al says. There was an extraordinary second-hand bookshop in Norwich called – I think – the Scientific Anglian. Run by this gnomish (and gnomic?) old man. The books were wedged in damp piles between the floor and ceiling as tight as sedimentary rock. You had to negotiate around pillars of paperbacks just to get from one aisle to the next. The whole place reeked of mildew. He sat at the back, half-lost amidst the accumulation. He was shut down as a fire hazard eventually. Apparently the fire services popped around for a look and this arrangement of heaping paperbacks was repeated throughout the entire three (?) storey building. I think the collective force of damp and spores would have seen off any incipient conflagration.

    I picked up a nice – tatty and as such cheap – first ed of Pale Fire a couple of years back on the King’s Road. And a paperback of Despair with a surprisingly lurid cover. Not that the content is hard to find elsewhere, but I do get a buzz from paying £4 for a nice old hardback when Penguin are asking £9 or so for the paperback.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 24, 2009 12:10 PM

      Exactly, Baron. I have a large-ish collection of modern firsts. Every single one of them found at a charity shop or boot sale or church bazaar or a second-hand bookshop that hadn’t twigged. I’ve never bought a modern first from a specialist dealer, though God knows they abound. But where’s the pleasure in that?

      Would Schliemann have been quite so delighted if a local had said to him:

      “Troy? Just take a left then second right and it’s right behind Mustapha’s kebab shop. You can’t miss it…”

      I think not.

  6. February 24, 2009 12:46 PM

    I’m in two minds over this. On one hand I love that feeling that the book you’re after could be on that shelf or in that pile but on the other hand the person who said it’s the journey that counts not the destination had clearly never travelled to Australia in economy class.

    You can over-romanticise that ( real ) sense of frustration that, once again that book you’ve been seeking has remained elusive but if everything is too much at hand what then? I suspect my feelings arise because I feel I’ve paid my dues hunting out the obscure and now want to actually read the thing not read another account of how good it is.

  7. parallax permalink
    February 24, 2009 1:08 PM

    I think I’m with Alarming’s train of thought on this – not that I’m dismissing the thrill of the hunt and the capture of an elusive item. There’s two different things at play here: the desire to own an object for it’s rarity, artist value, tactile allure – and then the desire to experience the art released by the object – novel, film, music.

    I’m not a collector of things in the sense that I want to *own* valuable stuff, but I do understand wanting to experience wonderful stuff – all power to free access to a treasure house by clicking icons on a web page.

    And any way everthing’s simulacrum now isn’t it?

  8. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 1:23 PM

    It’s not so much the thrill of the hunt as the pleasure of serendipity. But I also feel that the cornucopia of stuff that’s available at the click of a mouse has somehow…I dunno…not exactly de-valued the thing but perhaps made it less…again, I dunno…I’m expressing myself badly.

    I’m not a collector, though. I don’t lust to own a complete set of this or that or an obscure LP by so-and-so…unless I actually want to read the books or hear the music. I don’t collect, I accumulate books and music and films for the pleasure the work gives me. Even all those wretchedly badly written pulp novels gave me pleasure.

    To use as clumsy analogy, would smoked salmon or caviar or some edible treat taste quite so good if one ate it every day? Would love be the mind-bending, psyche-warping experience it is if one fell in love with everyone one met? (Jesus did and look where it got him).

  9. parallax permalink
    February 24, 2009 1:35 PM

    No mish – as always – you express yourself very well – in that, I think, we all trying to come to terms with this new abundance and what to make of it. I don’t have an entrenched position on this – just a gut sense that it’s a freedom of art for all …. but I also get the unease about a surfeit of everything… and what does that mean.

    On the previous thread there was talk of crap movies and in-your-face metaphors, but sometimes the pulp in movies and novels are grappling with the times we live in. Remember Castaway with Tom Hanks? At the end when he’s rescued and they have a party for him with plates of lobster – a treat for all but the returned Crusoe? And his amazement that he could turn the light on at a flick a switch? In its crass way the movie was about a reconsideration of basics in a world of plenty.

  10. parallax permalink
    February 24, 2009 1:42 PM

    If I could own something it would be a robotic editorial assistant than screened all my posts for typos

  11. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 1:42 PM

    I enjoyed that film, para…I especially liked the fact that for most of it, there was no extraneous dialogue. The seafood treats at the end was a rather neat touch. As you say, I’m grappling with the problem of super-abundance. On the other hand, I absolutely love the fact that so much stuff that used to be impossible to find is now just a click away…

    I just can’t help wondering if my appreciation of things gained so easily has in some way blunted my pleasure in them. Of course, the trouble is, I don’t have any real means of measuring same. It’s just a small thing that nags at me.

  12. parallax permalink
    February 24, 2009 1:57 PM

    ah yes *gained so easily* – really interesting point that I hadn’t thought of. So maybe we’re re-negotiating guilt, or perhaps wariness. Suddenly, it seems, we have assess to so much for, what amounts to, nothing. Haven’t we been taught that the way society works is that you can’t have something for nothing. Unless of course you’re born into wealth. I sense this is more than a technological revolution – other social barriers are collapsing.

  13. February 24, 2009 2:01 PM

    I can’t say I’m much of a scourer of book shops, I never have anything I want to find that desperately as I’ve always got a pile of stuff waiting to read. My Dad chases books around the country obsessively though, I think that’s partly what put me off, the realisation that our holiday destinations were dictated purely by the presence of second-hand bookshops, which used to lead to bizarre tours of the country.

    A friend of mine was recently trying to work out what to do with 500 copies of her mother’s book, which her father had kindly paid to self-publish. A book dealer friend said she should burn 499 of them and then he’d have something worth selling. You could try the buy and burn approach, but it could be costly and might impact the environment somewhat…

  14. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 2:04 PM

    I think it’s both. the time when information was trapped within a single (if mass-produced) object is gone. That is amazing for demacratisation and access but there is also, sadness, as there always is when something passes. It does feel that the value of things is somehow diminished by their availability; but that’s also the hidden agenda behind the Catholic church fighting to keep the Bible in Latin all those years ago. There is always nostalgia for lost mystery, even as the New is celebrated.

    Re your lobster analogy, Mishari: I’ve seen it in action. My beloved went to visit a friend in Singapore a few years back. Everyone she met was in finance and banking. They ate lobster every night and talked about the lobster they’d eaten the previous night but seemed quite numb to the ritual. They only ate it because they could. A friend recently expressed to me that, since her income had risen to a level where she could eat out when and wherever she chose, there was also a loss involved (not that she wanted anyone to feel sorry for her!) in that a posh meal would never have the same buzz of specialness and rarity again.

  15. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 2:18 PM

    The thing is, it’s like the so-called ‘phantom limb’ phenomenon that amputees apparently experience. I suspect I feel something that’s not actually there. I don’t think it’s de-mysification I object to. On the contrary, as a rule I’m all for de-mystification and open access for all.

    Nowadays, when I listen to a piece of music or read a book that used to be impossible to find, I just can’t help wondering if the pleasure I take in it possesses the same qualities that it did back when finding a rarity was an event. But as I say, I’m just not sure. It’s a suspicion, no more.

    Mind you, it would be churlish to complain of the easily available, though a para points out, most people are raised to believe that the things worth having entail some kind of struggle. Perhaps it’s just guilt at not having to struggle anymore.

    In the past, perhaps I felt that the struggle to find an artist’s work in some way reflected and paid tribute to that artist. That tribute is no longer being paid. Hence my guilt…maybe…

  16. freep permalink
    February 24, 2009 2:21 PM

    Not everything is available at a click. I keep an eye on Project Gutenberg
    http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/
    as I am poor and live out in the sticks, and when I need an obscure and ancient tome, I can’t be scooting off to the nearest University Library. I need to be reading William Derham’s Physico-theology (1713) for a poetry course I’m teaching, but it hasn’t been put on Gutenberg yet. But I daresay it will be before long, along with all the other foolish C17 and C18 sermons which I bury my maggoty head in from time to time. So how will it be when we can all participate in the Universal Brain and can access anything ever recorded at a mouseclick?
    And we can also publish whatever we like when we like? It’s part of the reason I find Billy Mills poetry blog interesting; I suspect he and his contributors has more on-line readers than 95% of readers of any single contemporary book of poetry …. and I realise I don’t know what this means.
    Baron’s point about the Bible and the Church seems pertinent; sadness goes beyond lost mystery and the availability of mechanical texts to the sheer promiscuous availability of ideas. Anyone can have or borrow any idea they want and relay it wherever they wish. Who will decide what is a big idea and what is a small one? Optimism says that at least value is not to be decided by where the money is.

    • Adrian permalink
      May 24, 2010 2:03 PM

      Hello,

      If you’re still looking for Derham’s book, I’ve discovered it today on Google Books at http://tinyurl.com/34xcvj3 .

      Adrian Janes
      Havering Libraries

  17. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 2:25 PM

    Yes, that’s a really good point, freep…the web makes money far less of a yardstick in attributing quality to work. That’s got to be a good thing. Like you, I’m a huge admirer of the Gutenberg Project. I should have linked this blog to it, something I’ll remedy.

  18. February 24, 2009 2:35 PM

    Isn’t a denial of pleasure or a prolonging of anticipation at the heart of some of this? With the easing up of the availability of things has also come the discovery of artists, voices, forms of music blah blah that previously we could only get hold of if a publisher ( or whoever ) decided to publish them.

    The accepted history of art/literature/music is being chiselled away at and we’re beginning to see that the familiar names are ( largely ) still great artists but they were in a rich context of unknowns, some of whom are extremely good and rewarding as well.

  19. parallax permalink
    February 24, 2009 2:43 PM

    Freep: ‘Who will decide what is a big idea and what is a small one’ – absolutely. I often wonder about the myriad directions philosophy could have taken at junctions in, what we now accept as, its formation if there was the chance of a lone voice allowed, not only to utter but be heard saying, ‘yeh, but …’

  20. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 2:47 PM

    Oh, I completely agree, Al. The link I’ve posted on this blog to avant garde music is a case in point. 25 years ago, unless you were actively involved in the world of avant garde music and were prepared to hunt down rare labels or exchange recordings with other afficianados, you’d never hear any of this stuff or of any of the composers.

    I’m not complaining and your point about the rich context now being provided is very true. I’m just thinking aloud, so to speak…wondering if something’s been lost. Maybe it has but it’s probably well worth it…

    (BTW, Baron, love the track you attached to the email. Sorry about belated acknowledgment but it’s a disposable email address that I rarely check unless I’m expecting something. Thanks for that.)

  21. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 2:50 PM

    Too right, para…that’s one of the great joys of the web. Now we can all say, “Yeah, but…”

  22. February 24, 2009 3:53 PM

    Isn’t it a case of turning from hunter-gatherer into defender of the sacred realm? Same spears, different struggle. We’ve gone from 3/4/5 channels (stop me at whichever number you considered to be the optimum) to hundreds (thousands perhaps), leaving the televisual experience all the poorer because it’s been overloaded, saturated to the point where there is so much rubbish to fight through to find something worth watching. It’s the same level of struggle perhaps but in reverse? Doesn’t that apply to fiction and music too – people able to publish their own work online just makes it harder to find anything of true worth. You’re just travelling through virtual bookshops/music shops, which are probably too vast to complemplate existing in real life. That’s the problem if you’re starting out on a literary journey of discovery (which I am at the moment) – trying to work out what on earth to read amongst it all. It’s like a brick wall.

    Oh yes and whilst we’re on they don’t make Wagon Wheels nearly as big as they used to… I feel cheated.

  23. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:07 PM

    I think you have a point, Tink, perhaps a similar point to the one I was trying to make when refering to Spotify. There was some bunkish theory going around a couple of years back about the ‘paralysis of choice’, that too much choice can be as much an impediment to discovery as restricted choice. Now, whilst that sounds like the usual Guardian-style non-problem (like how to get the aphids out of your hemp flip-flops or the horrors of ramekin spoilage), I think you’re right.

    Nothing will replace the feeling of value inherent in tracking down old vinyl, hard-to-find books, etc. But also the financial and time investment in these things. We watched three movies on Saturday; each cost around £3 at Fopp. I remember the first time I saw a video cassette for sale: it was Return of the Jedi and I think it cost £35 – a lot of money 1986/7. It was like the Holy Grail.

    I downloaded (from eMusic) an Amon Duul II LP the other day. It would have cost £15 on CD, more on second-hand vinyl. I don’t doubt that, much as I love the content, I somehow – and i think this is the wispy, dewy feeling Mish is evoking – value it less than if I’d stumped up the cash for an object. Makes no sense.

    @Mishari

    Glad you liked the track. It’s from one of Yazoo’s wondrous Secret Museum of Mankind collections. Let me know if you want more info (or music).

  24. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:11 PM

    Oh, and Tink,

    An old work colleague receives, each Easter, a Cadbury Creme Egg from his mother. She serves it in the same egg-cup he’s had since a child. He claims that, when he was little, the eggbalanced in the top of the cup – like a real egg. Now it just falls to the bottom. I guess egg-cup giantism should be added to the troubles listed above.

    My friend is 28.

  25. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 4:20 PM

    Ah, the old ‘Cadbury’s Creme Egg Measure of Social Decline’…

    It’s true, Tink…which is probably why it’s become a cliche…so much choice, so little worth choosing. I dunno, I think perhaps it just forces us to keep the cutting edge of our crap-detector well-honed.

    In some ways, it might be a good thing. In the sense that instead of having a canon handed down to us that we’re expected to accept without question, the sheer volume of stuff forces us to actually seek out quality and then make comparisons we might not have formerly made.

    Thanks for the info, Baron. I’ll seek it out…

  26. February 24, 2009 4:26 PM

    Hmm… do egg cups often grow in size? I think not. It’s smoke and mirrors… introduce miniature sized versions of stuff and then decrease the size of the originals whilst no-one’s paying attention.

    Sorry if I ended up remaking your point again, Baron, I must have been replying to a point I’d read further up I think. It’s very likely that I’ll end up either repeating other people’s stuff in duller terms or saying something completely nonsensical anyway – the pink fairy is flighty at the best of times…

  27. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:33 PM

    ‘Sorry if I ended up remaking your point again’

    That’s not what i meant; rather that you better expressed a thought I was fumbling with.

    And it was definitely the egg-cup growing. Otherwise i can’t trust Cadbury.

  28. freep permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:35 PM

    Nice post, Tinkerbell, on your literary journey of discovery. I suspect I’m much older than you (495) (He doesn’t look a day over 300–Ed.) but it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, the more that authorities of the past are undermined and the more you realise that there are few areas of cultural life in which deference is of any consequence, the more you have to forget much of what you knew.

    So I agree with mish that sheer availability should make us seek out quality and draw strange comparisons, but knowing where to start and how to narrow your search ain’t easy. For my part, I decided that I would give up on novels some years ago (with a few exceptions).

    The Wagon Wheels make for an interesting analogy. Whether they are bigger, smaller or more delicious than in the past is not the point; we now have to think (terrifyingly) – what if we can design our own Wagon Wheels? We could make them grow or shrink with us, or freeze the wrapper design in time, or use 70% chocolate or lace them with vodka … but resistance is high, just like those ‘Contribute to a Collective Novel Online’ projects don’t work. We will always long for something Authentic, with the Benjaminesque aura. Won’t we?

  29. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:36 PM

    The ‘Cadbury’s Creme Egg Measure of Social Decline’ is certainly less erratic than the Melton Mowbray Curmudgeonary Index.

  30. February 24, 2009 4:49 PM

    Wagon wheels laced with vodka – brilliant – I must say most things in life would be better laced with vodka. That’s it, you’ve lost me to serious debate now, unless there is vodka-lacing involved…

  31. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 4:54 PM

    Wagon Wheels laced with magic mushrooms…that way, they’ll look however big you want them to look…maybe it’s our eyes that’ve got bigger?

  32. February 24, 2009 4:55 PM

    By the way Mish, do you notice this new lay-out gives you nice pink font for your links? I like it of course, but I didn’t think I’d see you volunteering for pinkness… are you on the turn?

  33. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 4:57 PM

    I actually configured the link colour myself using hex numbers…

    useful guide here:

    http://www.blythe.org/webwork/numbercolor.html

    It’s not pink, dammit..it’s kind of a restrained vermillion. In the best possible taste…

  34. February 24, 2009 5:02 PM

    Guys? …come on back me up, it’s pink.

  35. freep permalink
    February 24, 2009 5:05 PM

    Colour blind from birth, tink. But the blogmeister is a suspicious character; the colour may be designed to be toxic to posters of whom he disapproves. I think he may have done away with Melton Mo ….. I have to go outside for ai …

  36. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 5:07 PM

    Shit…rumbled by a snuffler of old manuscripts and facilitator of convicts.
    Back to the drawing board…

  37. February 24, 2009 5:15 PM

    No keep it I like it.

    Baron, now I’ve got Yazoo’s “Only You” stuck in my head, not altogether a bad thing I suppose…

  38. freep permalink
    February 24, 2009 5:31 PM

    Prospero-like, he banishes time, and he frames colours that will desiccate an octopus

    So much one Man can do
    That does both act and know…
    … The same Arts that did gain
    A Pow’r it must maintain.

    Can you freeze sound, liquefy motion; can you render pain extinct? O Mishari, we fear your powers …
    ….and I don’t mind the colour, and the typeface is a pleasure.

  39. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 5:40 PM

    Relax, daddy-o…I’m a magnanimous, easy come-easy go sorta Übermensch…(although my wrath is very terrible and has been known to halt Spring in its tracks and stupefy visiting dignitaries)

    BTW, HERE is a very important message: (you must be 18 years old or over to view this–Ed)

  40. 3p4 permalink
    February 24, 2009 8:51 PM

    thanks for the Youtube link,,it was irrelevant (To what?–Ed.) but that page revealed the BadgerBadger song to me,,a very fertile bed of lunacy,, a visual equivalent to the wombat days of doggerelblog

  41. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 9:03 PM

    I know, I know…once you start looking at the sidebar and clicking on related videos, you can be there for hours…a great time-waster…

    For a real giggle, check out R. Crumb & his Cheap Suit Serenaders

  42. February 24, 2009 10:28 PM

    “halt Spring in its tracks” Mishari I thought you were going to go all Mohammed Ali on us ” I’m so bad I make medicine sick”.

    Carol Rumens ought to put one of his poems up on PotW. The poem would be delightful and the comments would be interesting to say the least. The current thread is very noisy.

  43. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 10:42 PM

    Sadly, Al, I dance like a bee and sting like a butterfly…

    Noisy POTW? I’ll have to have a look…you know, just to shake my head and mourn the good old days of free-flowing civilized good-humoured conversations…unharrassed by mods and nutcases…

    Ahh…I see what you mean. Des, whose flarf persona lasted about 2 weeks is busily getting himself banned again (actually, he appears to have managed to get himself banned twice already…on the same thread. You have to kind of admire that.) and atf…never mind. Pity. It used to be a lot of fun…

  44. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 24, 2009 11:06 PM

    It’s Bedlam on that POTW. No wonder SMPugh’s gone home.

  45. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 11:08 PM

    It’s no place for a gentleman, that’s for sure…

    Today’s search terms that brought people here: “kill bady”, “sheep eye soup”, “gun and fist”…(sigh)

  46. Captain Ned permalink
    February 24, 2009 11:19 PM

    The Badgers song has been a favourite for years, 3p4. There are a few of versions of it, including a Lord of the Rings-themed one. The same guy behind it has some other gems on his website: see http://www.weebls-stuff.com. Particularly splendid are a song about Patrick Moore and his xylophone, and one about a cow-fancying magician called Magical Trevor. Also not to missed on youtube are the Moon Bears; the one featuring Stephen Hawking is a hoot.

    Atf and Des are being characteristically pugnacious on PotW. Entertaining, at least, though I can only look by peeping between my fingers.

  47. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 24, 2009 11:32 PM

    Yes, you won’t catch me on there. Debating with one’s social inferiors is not my cup of tea. Shelley seems just the kind of arrogant little tosser whose arse required frequent kicking. Indeed, the organised campaign against him suggests that he was quite hard to like.

  48. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 11:38 PM

    Fucking poets..,.nasty, insanitary little blighters…take Eleanor Farjeon…please. They all need a good leathering.

  49. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 24, 2009 11:39 PM

    gun and fist? There was an item on the news about the Barrymore killing, in or on which a possibly forensic pathologist was talking about the doorknob which had gone missing from the scene of crime. According to him such items are often made use of in male on male sexual assaults. The mind boggles, the sphincter tightens.

  50. mishari permalink*
    February 24, 2009 11:42 PM

    You know, that comes pretty high up on my list of Things I Could Do Without Knowing…time for a stiff brandy, I think.

  51. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 25, 2009 12:00 AM

    The doorknob in my sitting-room is 3 inches wide. Makes you think.

  52. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 12:02 AM

    It makes you think, pal. It makes me shudder…

  53. seanmurray permalink
    February 25, 2009 2:43 AM

    The sense you describe here matters, Mishari, as it encapsulates in almost tangible form the wider Western malaise. It just cannot be stated too often how obscenely spoiled we in the West are. The ingratitude and petty whining, the Violet Elizabeth-grade spoilt-brattiness on display at the average middle class dinner party, for instance (perhaps climaxing in a champagne-tipsy millionaire denouncing asylum seekers, surely the pinnacle of modern fannydom) — all this is high comedy indeed, of course, but actually of a very black and toxic strain. This mindset above all, I think, has created the wasteland portrayed by the likes of Houellebecq. Ingratitude (cause and effect: solipsism) is the psychic plague of our times.

    And just to add to everyone’s difficulties:

    http://www.archive.org/index.php

  54. February 25, 2009 8:39 AM

    Des seems to have turned into Pete Townsend in his “Don’t do drugs kids, I did them and….oh no I’m doing them again” period. Tells us all about how he screwed up on GU getting into pointless arguments and not to follow his path and knockmedowwnwithafeather if he hasn’t forgotten to follow his own advice. You do have to admire the lack of short term memory.

  55. Captain Ned permalink
    February 25, 2009 9:03 AM

    Between 8:00 am and 10:00 am

    Returning to the subject in hand, I grew up in small town in West Wales where the nearest cinema was 45-minute bus ride away. There wasn’t even a bookshop until I was about 15. I experienced films largely through television, and this was before digitalisation, so the choice was somewhat limited. Books had to be acquired in bulks of around 5 or 6 whenever I went on a buying spree; otherwise, there was the town library, but the range wasn’t inspiring. It was just as I was finishing school that the explosion of availability you describe came into its own, or at least that’s when I became aware of it. When I went to university, the convenience of being able to walk to a cinema or bookshop made for a considerable change, and that’s not to mention all the academic libraries at my disposal. Since moving to London, the extent and variety of what’s on offer has multiplied still more, but I can’t say that I feel surfeited by it, because even if I wanted to gorge myself on books, art, theatre, film and music, I just don’t have the money. The great profusion feels slightly beyond my reach, something I can access only intermittently. I’m aware of it when, for example, I browse in a bookshop or film shop among the vast array of enticing titles (with little or no intention of buying anything), knowing that many of them would have been unavailable not so long ago, but I just have to tell myself: In a few years, in a few years.

    Two years ago, however, I did manage to experience something of this new phenomenon. Naruse Mikio, a director revered in Japan but until recently little known in the West. 2007 proved to be a watershed as far as his international reputation went: there was a big retrospective at the NFT (some of which I caught), and six films were released on DVD (all of which I rented). His work is addictive; after watching one, I immediately wanted to get my hands on another. But for that I’ll have to wait until more becomes available.

    The film historian David Thomson wrote an article in The Guardian last year on similar lines to the one above, only he was less equivocal in his nostalgia for the days before the advent of the DVD, before VHS even. Thomson was pretty clear: too much ease of access has killed off an aura about the cinema that can never be recaptured. I had a look at his entry for Naruse in his Biographical Dictionary of Film. He started off by saying that he’d never seen any of his works, only read about them, and that that was enough; he wanted the films, which sounded so extraordinary, to live in his imagination alone, untouched by actually having viewed them. There was a pleasure in the thought of marvels that would forever remain unexperienced. For me, who had experienced these marvels, and who wanted to experience more of them, this was a crazy notion. Then, at the end of his brief entry, he admitted that he had actually seen a couple of Naruse films; the word he used in relation to them was ‘ineffable’. I came away somewhat annoyed and frustrated, as I often do after reading Thomson.

  56. February 25, 2009 9:48 AM

    Between 8:00 am and 10:00 am

    Captain Ned architects have paper architecture – projects that will never be realised. I have a folder full of unrealised and unrealisable ideas which sometimes mutate into smaller do-able things but more often lie there waiting for the Routledge book about my company which will never arrive.

    This world of the imagined, the yearned for is fascinating. As conceptual art now has its place I wonder if these ideas about things we’v never seen are now more “real” than they used to be. Blimey.

  57. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 10:32 AM

    Jesus, Sean…85 billion pages and counting. The mind reels.

    It’s odd. Part of me is grateful for the abundance but another part of me resents it. I have the sneaking feeling that the abundance and ease of acquiring stuff has deprived me of something. I can’t decide whether I’m being foolishly romantic or not.

    Today’s search term is ‘uneducated sheep’; as opposed to…? what in God’s name are these people looking for?

    BTW, freep, I just got a nice email from wordpress regretfully informing me that this theme doesn’t support the time-stamping of comments. I’m going to stick with it, however. They do suggest that it’ll be remedied and I like the look of this theme. It satisfies me in that it’s austere but with just enough variety to make it a bit more pleasing to the eye than plain white. Sorry about your temporal disorientation…

    As consolation, check out one of the best cartoons Warner Bros ever made, Bugs in What’s Opera, Doc?

  58. freep permalink
    February 25, 2009 11:53 AM

    About 11:30 am

    mish, few things can compensate for the abolition of time, but Bugs Bunny as Brunnhilde is certainly one of them.
    And thank you Sean for the internet archive, where I both found what I was looking for and experienced a new level of terror at the stampeding approach of the Universal Brain. But then, Plato said all knowledge was but remembrancing, so as we are engulfed, it may be comforting to know it was there already as we drown in our own grey matter.

  59. parallax permalink
    February 25, 2009 12:39 PM

    Cap’n Ned: great post.* Ned, you said: ‘killed off an aura about the cinema’ which is a double-take – given that some of walter benjamin’s musings were all about the lost aura of the real. In a sense that what we *experience/see* is removed – so that it’s never experienced first hand – but through the eyes of others (director, cinematographer etc). Ok I’ll say it again – simulacra – a world removed from the aura of experience.

    * if only I could time-stamp it Ned, but Mish’s desire for eau-de-nile and white truffle design outweighs freep’s, and my, concern wrt disorientation – I’m particularly freaked out about not knowing where I stand in time-land with another hemisphere

  60. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 12:49 PM

    12:48 pm

    Sorry, para…henceforward, I’ll time stamp my posts and others as best I can..

  61. seanmurray permalink
    February 25, 2009 12:53 PM

    Always happy to terrorise, freep. And please forgive the 2 AM foamings above. Perhaps Mishari could set up a separate section for posts written on too many Red Bulls after truly appalling dinner parties. Or maybe I could just get the above off my chest at said parties.

  62. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 12:56 PM

    12:56 am

    Nah…every digital cake needs leavening. Rage is good.

  63. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 25, 2009 1:17 PM

    You mean icing. Cakes aren’t leavened, unless they’re German, in which case they’re bread.

  64. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 1:25 PM

    1:35 pm

    The Shorter OED defines leaven as:

    fig. Permeate with a transforming influence; imbue or mingle with some tempering or modifying element. Formerly also (rare), debase or corrupt by admixture.

    Isn’t baking soda leavening, then? Stay out of the kitchen, MM. Stick to the shed at the bottom of the garden where you…but no, your sordid secrets are safe with me.

    Someone linked to an old POTW on Sam’s Rochester article so I went and had a look;

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2008/jun/30/poemoftheweek45

    A reminder of how much more light-hearted it used to be. Serious but never po-faced…

  65. parallax permalink
    February 25, 2009 1:45 PM

    meant to say – love the blog picture – all light and sub way shadows.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 25, 2009 1:54 PM

      1:55 pm

      Good, innit? I wish I could claim credit for it but it’s an objet trouvé

  66. parallax permalink
    February 25, 2009 1:59 PM

    what time is it Mr. Mish?

    2:09 pm

    (…and speaking of objet trouvé, I’ve added a link to a gallery of that name specializing in Outsider Art. A large roster of interesting artists.

    Funnily enough, it’s located on the rue de Charenton in Paris…Charenton (which is not in Paris), of course, was the best known psychiatric hospital in France, De Sade being probably its most notorious inmate…–Ed.)

  67. parallax permalink
    February 25, 2009 2:09 PM

    anyways – as we say – have to depart for a while – catch youse all later in a few weeks. Take care.

  68. parallax permalink
    February 25, 2009 2:13 PM

    ah, I posted before your reply mish – I’ll check out the link thanks. Early morning departure for me, so I’ll take my leave – catch you all later, cheers.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 25, 2009 2:19 PM

      Have a safe journey, compadre…

  69. February 25, 2009 2:21 PM

    OK – I’m only halfway through what I’ve missed here. You guys do like talking…

    I’m going back up to Captain Ned’s reference to the weebls site. I lost track following the adventures of Bob, but I have to say that although the “Chutney Song” is not the funniest thing I ever saw in my entire life, it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever clicked on whilst at work and I think they’d actually called an ambulance for me by the time I’d finished watching it, I’d gone past laughing, through crying, red, purple and blue, to asphyxiation.

    Suffice to say it’s now the top entertainment during those bored moments on a Friday afternoon for people to bring to me the funniest thing ever to finally kill me off – aka the Monty Python killer joke… anyone ever find out what that was?

    I’m new to POTW (like I am to everything around here) but I recommended MM’s entry about misreading the L as an N, possibly a big problem for George Walker Bush too I’d imagine…

  70. 3p4 permalink
    February 25, 2009 4:59 PM

    Has the ease of acquisition brought with it a sort of deadening of the brain’s pleasure centres?

    i tried to post thoughts about that sentence last night but after much
    reflection between bent mirrors gave up ,,

    today thanks to sam,,and tammow,,and the link mishari has repeated above i know what i was looking for last night

    oh i got plenty o’ nothing,,and nothin’s plenty for me

  71. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 25, 2009 7:58 PM

    Kind of you to recommend my humble words, Tinkerbell, though I think you have Poster Poems in mind rather than Poem of the Week. Poem of the Week features the Battle of the Autodidacts: Poster Poems the last stand of traditional rhyme and metre craftsmanship against the gigantic blancmange wielded by the braindead pensuckers of the free verse tendency. Now the Prince has deserted the cause the final cataclysm is in sight.

    Soon
    every poem
    will be written
    like this
    and the tossers
    can convince themselves
    they are
    doing something
    significant.

  72. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 8:36 PM

    For anyone who wants to use bold, italic or blockquote, the code is:

    For bold = (strong)text here(/strong)

    For blockquote = (blockquote)text here(/blockquote)

    For italics = (em)text here(/em)

    However, instead of using normal parenthesese, you have to use right-angled brackets.

  73. freep permalink
    February 25, 2009 10:44 PM

    Yes, MM, I think you say aright. The free versers are in the ascendant, and they don’t even know it because they haven’t thought about it and they have thick tongues.
    . I like a bit of free verse meself, in the right place and with the right subject; rhyming couplets are not too clever if you want to say something miserable about concentration camps. However, the evidence is that (barring rigorous rhyming formalists like your self) there are folk posting things that do not have much in the way of:
    rhyme, form, imagination, originality, rhythm, linguistic felicity or even quiddity.
    You can get away with having just one or two of these things, but if there are none detectable, then it is permissible to raise the standard and say that The Blancmange is present, it is inedible, and it must depart or be attacked.
    The best weapon against Blancmange is, of course, doggerel. (Or The Righteous Spoon of Fury–Ed.)

  74. freep permalink
    February 25, 2009 10:45 PM

    That was put up at 10.44 pm on February the something 2009 AD.

  75. February 25, 2009 10:56 PM

    Freep and MM you’ve got me in one! However no harm in trying.

  76. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 11:08 PM

    11:08 pm

    No, no…Al. I’ve noted your adherence to structural and metric disciplines.

  77. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 11:19 PM

    11:20 pm

    I see we’re all having fun winding up Sam Jordison who I actually like…ah, well, he did ask for it.

  78. freep permalink
    February 25, 2009 11:21 PM

    Moreover, Al, there was an elegant conceit in the shoelace one …

  79. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 11:23 PM

    11:23 pm

    BTW, freep, I quoted a post of yours in defense of Rochester. I hope you don’t mind…

  80. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 25, 2009 11:24 PM

    I wasn’t thinking of you, Alarming. Literacy is an accomplishment for a Somerset boy. Besides, your train poems were exceptionally good.

  81. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 11:26 PM

    I’m intrigued, MM…is Zomerzet a very backward place?

  82. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 25, 2009 11:47 PM

    Civilisation has barely penetrated that dark county. Reports speak of shaggy-haired men in braces and neckerchiefs singing of their god Zy Dur. David Attenborough’s encounter with a family group (Mr&Mrs Silverback and their offspring) near Radstock is probably available on YouTube.

  83. mishari permalink*
    February 25, 2009 11:50 PM

    I remember that episode…Attenborough crouching in the shrubbery..whispering…” this is a deeply moving experience. To be so close to Man’s closest relatives…these magnificent zyder drinking primates…”

  84. February 26, 2009 1:54 AM

    Hey, so I’m going to return to the blog post in hand, because I don’t know what you’re on about…

    I have never experienced the race to find the rare book, although I have searched for the rare item for my errant Father a few times, as mentioned. However I think the malady referred to is not just about the availability of literature. I apologise profusely if I repeat what anyone has said, but I’m rather short on time at the moment and might have missed something in the swelling threads here…

    Basically it’s a general malady of society. It might just be me approaching middle age, where I lose some mysticism and take on the cynical cloak, but I don’t think it’s all down to that. Things seem to generally be undervalued. We have countless TV sets in our house, courtesy of the husband who wants the next big gadget. I don’t care as long as I can see the screen and follow the plot. It’s like films are more about the visual than the substance, and I hate that. I’d rather watch a decent black and white film with bad effects than a mediocre film with great effects (apologies for spelling mistakes – I’ve been in the pub) and everything else seems to be going the same way. Thousands of channels of shite. More so it seems like the media are more in the game of manipulating us for ratings and air/reader space than concerned about telling the truth and everyone is out for what they can get. Community seems like a non-existent thing, although online communities are maybe the way things are going? Particularly it seems that people don’t have the pleasure of working for things any more. They expect things instantly. I remember hand-me-downs, I had dolls who’s heads were stuck on with plasters, I had lovingly hand-made toys and appreciated every single “new” thing I was ever presented with and saved up for months to buy things myself. I am shocked by the way that people just buy new things instead of trying to make do and I feel like I’m swimming against the tide by wanting to stand back and not buy the next great thing.

    Anyway, I had a point, but I’m frunk and need to lie down… (Frunkeness is very unattractive in a woman–Ed.)

  85. February 26, 2009 8:39 AM

    MM Where I grew up there were lot of rural pubs – actually front rooms of people who’d bought a few barrels of beer and flagons of an opaque, green, impenetrable fluid called scrumpy to sell to the farm-workers. These were always inhabited by an old bloke rendered permanently insensible by the local brew, or more likely, fermentation and only noticeable because a huge red nose, the landlord and his wife. You sat on the sofa in silence, drunk as much as possible and went out to fall over in a cornfield.

    We were all convinced the people in Wiltshire were the thick ones.

  86. Captain Ned permalink
    February 26, 2009 9:12 AM

    My godfather stopped by in a Somerset pub once and requested a pint of the local cider. ‘Are you frum round ere?’ the landlord asked. ‘Cuz if you ain’t, you’re only avin arf.’

  87. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 26, 2009 10:55 AM

    I wonder if Somerset has the same issues as Norfolk. Whenever I go back there I’m glad that so many things are more easily accessible than they once were, but there’s also a sense that something is lost when the achievement becomes less fraught. I mean, there’s now a non-ordeal based criminal justice system but getting the all clear from a jury can hardly give the same sense of satisfaction as knowing you gripped that red-hot iron until the magpie circled the ash thrice. And metal currency’s fine but I remember the thrill of buying my monthly supplies and knowing there’d be no more cash until I gathered some more from Waxham beach. And as for literacy; the contents of a book used to have a special value: approximately whatever you had to bribe the parson to read it to you. What better way to learn of the Almighty’s wrath?

  88. February 26, 2009 11:13 AM

    Baron I’ve not been back to where I grew up for decades. Back then ( late 60’s early 70’s )Frome in Somerset was a mix of 1st generation skinheads, binge drinking on a professional scale,the highhest level of teenage pregnancy in the country and the first wave of LSD. Saturday nights were extremely violent. If you wore jeans you really were a target for the skinhead militia.

    Now I understand that it’s gone twee, has craft centres and an influx of “bohemian” types – most likely the children of the original Bath alternative set who can’t afford to buy houses there.

    So much lost for the opportunity to sell crochetted toilet-paper cosies and the chance to drink from a selection of herbally infused teas.

  89. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 26, 2009 11:24 AM

    ‘a selection of herbally infused teas’

    I see you still have to boil the water, then.

    I have a lot of family and, more recently, a lot of friends in the west country. It certainly seems to attract the more left-wing, socially and environmentally-conscious people. Two people I know there work in environmental sciences (one for the Met Office). In my social group, when a friend has had enough of the city and decides to head to cleaner air and start a family we call it ‘going west’. At least there’s an identity. Much of Norfolk is second-homes or commuter belt, now. The fishermen who lived in the coastal ‘fishermen’s cottages’ couldn’t even afford to rent them for a summer break, let alone live in them. I go out to stay there and write sometimes and at night half the houses are lightless – the owners being in the city.

  90. February 26, 2009 11:37 AM

    Bath was a big centre of alternative culture ( drugs, community art and bands really ) in the early 70’s and attracted a lot of people there. Rather like Hebden Bridge up my way. Hebden now is half media- folk living in overpriced houses in the town , half new-age wizards living in a mystic world ( AKA their parent’s house ) and half hippies in the hills running their domestic power from guinea-pig powered treadmills.

    3 halfs? Must be a hangover from my Somerset education.

  91. freep permalink
    February 26, 2009 1:04 PM

    12.59. Quoting me in defence of Rochester was fine, even flattering, mishari. Never quite sure whether making the usual points about historical imagination and the instability of morals is being self-evident or not. But some of the buggers who post on GU get their knickers in a twist about behaviour and punishment and judgement very easily. Hypocrisy oozes from their unsightly pores. You’d think Rochester (or Shelley) had been pinching their parking space or breaking their promise to feed the cat.
    Liked your story about Somerset pubs, Cap’n Ned. Reminds me of the Bluebell pub in Gateshead, a ruffianly place where low-grade heroin, geese, Slovakian women and white vans were traded, and where my daughter worked in the bar. A fellow with a non-local accent came in by mistake, and asked for a Perrier water. ‘Ye’re barred, fuck off!’ said mine host.

  92. freep permalink
    February 26, 2009 1:11 PM

    Forgot to mention to MM if he’s reading that the idea of an ode to a footspa was wonderful, and the execution perfect. It must be saleable.

  93. mishari permalink*
    February 26, 2009 1:30 PM

    Well, Frome can’t be all bad. The great Pee Wee Ellis lives there….

    I like the sound of that pub, freep. My kind of dive…

    Baron, I’m with you if you want to start a campaign to return to Trial By Ordeal. We can start with Fred fucking Goodwin…

  94. BaronCharlus permalink
    February 26, 2009 2:14 PM

    Mishari,

    Who’s Fred, who’s Goodwin, and would it be an ordeal?

    rim shot

    *ithangyoo*

  95. February 26, 2009 2:17 PM

    Pee Wee Ellis? Back in my day it was Druggie Dave the dustman who used to carry a copy of the MIMS catalogue so he could quickly evaluate the chemicals in any pills left in the thrown away aspirin bottles in the bins he emptied. Once found mooing in the middle of the girl’s hockey pitch one afternoon.

  96. mishari permalink*
    February 26, 2009 2:17 PM

    …Baron, don’t quit the day job.

    BTW, I’m listening to The Isley Bros do Fight The Power, turned up to 11, natch…it makes me want to go out and smash something…this fucking government of scumbags, mainly..

  97. mishari permalink*
    February 26, 2009 2:24 PM

    Al, many years ago, I spent a couple of summers working as a demolition man. A lot of the jobs consisted of gutting buildings, mainly homes, that had burned. The medicine cabinet was always my first port of call. Bathrooms don’t burn very well…combination of tiles, metal and water, I suppose. One frequently found treasure…Dilaudid, Demerol, Percodan, etc. (this was in the US)

    My workmates used to wonder how I managed to remain so goddamn cheerful in the midst of dirty, back-breaking work…

  98. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 26, 2009 4:11 PM

    Too kind, freep. Using Blake’s rhymes took most of the hard work out of it.

    Some fine bar-room anecdotes there. I believe I’ve discoursed before on the near-hallucinogenic properties of Coates’ Festival Vat (Somerset Cider De Luxe was its rather odd sub-heading. Adge Cutler once worked at the plant in Nailsea), known as ‘the queer stuff’ in my part of the world. My first experience of the powerful brew was at a cider house near Bristle around 1973, the progress of the evening only recalled in a series of dim vignettes: being kissed and groped by a middle-aged woman, a political discussion with a bevy of squaddies, flying fists, being chased by police officers through a wood, then across an interminable stretch of pasture by a herd of cows. I woke up at 5am in the middle of a ploughed field, probably because I’d just pissed myself, evident enough on my maroon Loons that I couldn’t hitch a lift and had to walk back to the city. Golden memories! (Mowbray the bon viveur–Ed.)

  99. mishari permalink*
    February 26, 2009 4:59 PM

    5:00 pm

    Somerset cider deluxe? Wow. Is that like East End Jellied Eels Deluxe?

    I still treasure my copy of The East End Advertiser (our local paper) that carried the front page headline East London Faces Jellied Eel Crisis.

    Apparently, eels were in short supply, prices had gone up, etc etc…still, as crisese (is that the right plural?) (No. It’s ‘crises’.–Ed.) go, it beat the fuck out of the banking crisis…

  100. Captain Ned permalink
    February 26, 2009 6:50 PM

    I think the front page of the local rag in Hackney at the moment is something like ‘TV Presenter Scares Children Claim’.

  101. February 26, 2009 7:21 PM

    The Bury Times has “Councillor slammed over “Gorilla Picture”

  102. mishari permalink*
    February 26, 2009 7:28 PM

    I’m almost afraid to ask…

  103. February 27, 2009 11:02 AM

    Sorry about the rant above, which you all skipped past adeptly.

    Alarming you must be local to me too. I lived in Hebden Bridge for a couple of years, but found that the mung-bean hippy brigade had overpriced the damn place and now we live in the HB overspill, Todmorden. Actually that’s not true, Tod has a character of its own and is a very pleasant place to live, despite good-meaning chef types buzzing around the place commandeering the flower beds.

  104. mishari permalink*
    February 27, 2009 11:08 AM

    What do chefs do with flower beds? Turn them into appetizing salads?

  105. Tinkerbell permalink
    February 27, 2009 12:38 PM

    Something called Incredible Edible Todmorden – using all the free land around the town to grow veg and herbs etc and anyone can pick it and use it. Good idea in principle – sooooo many reasons why it wouldn’t work out, frunken people being the first problem I can see, possibly the rise of commuting vegetable thieves…

  106. mishari permalink*
    February 27, 2009 12:52 PM

    Might be worth getting a season ticket to Todmorden, wherever the hell that is…sounds deadly.. I mean, the name…tod+morden…Tod=death in German and mordern sounds like mort, morbid, mortuary…

  107. February 27, 2009 2:42 PM

    Forgot to mention it’s Hugh Furry Twittingstall – might explain a few things. If you do venture here just be careful not to ask if it’s Yorkshire or Lancashire … the war of the roses still rages here!

  108. February 27, 2009 2:47 PM

    ha yes the place is somewhat bleak – overshadowed by the landscape which features in Wuthering Heights – dark, imposing hills, but beautiful scenery.

  109. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 27, 2009 3:24 PM

    I think Hebden Bridge is the Paraguay of Thatcher criminal Bernhard Ingham. I apologise if you are married to the vicious old swine, Tinkerbell.

  110. mishari permalink*
    February 27, 2009 3:28 PM

    Oh, Christ…that chippy oaf…say it ain’t so, Tink…

  111. Tinkerbell permalink
    February 27, 2009 11:02 PM

    Jesus he’s about three times older than me with inexplicable eyebrows! Eurgh… !

  112. mishari permalink*
    February 27, 2009 11:35 PM

    Nothing to be ashamed of, Tink…as long as you’re happy together. Love will find a way. What first attracted you to our Bernard? Was it his sagging, jowly mug or the butch, assertive eyebrows?

  113. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 28, 2009 12:00 AM

    Age should not be a factor in human relationships, Tinkerbell. Even scrofulous old toads such as Mishari can find love. Hirsute eyebrows can easily be remedied with the application of a white-hot poker. This also works well for nose hair, while more intimate areas respond to the Edward the Second treatment.

  114. mishari permalink*
    February 28, 2009 12:05 AM

    Well, I was a toad until I got kissed by Miss Right and promptly turned back into a prince. From prince to emperor was but a small step…

  115. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 28, 2009 12:18 AM

    Nice segue there. Though it has an excellent complement of ruined abbeys and other picturesque sights I rather dislike Yorkshire, mainly because of the innate Inghamness of the population. At the height of the Yorkshire Ripper case many Yorks folk complained about the designation of the killer, saying he should be known simply as ‘the Ripper’. Auberon Waugh’s suggestion was that he should be known as ‘The Yorkshire’.

  116. mishari permalink*
    February 28, 2009 12:25 AM

    I used to be utterly indifferent to professional hypocrite and Labour toady Polly Toynbee until Auberon Waugh died and she penned an absolutely poisonous article on his passing. Mainly, I suspect, to repay all the well-aimed barbs he shot in her direction. Ghastly harridan…

  117. February 28, 2009 11:25 AM

    Yes I realise a big age gap doesn’t matter but it’s a good excuse – truth being that if I got romantically involved with a member of Thatcher’s government I think it would indicate some considerable loss of brain function!

  118. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 28, 2009 1:33 PM

    Oh, I don’t know, Cecil Parkinson had a kind of silvery beauty which worked well for him. Portillo’s liver-like lips had a meaty charm, and who could resist Willie Whitelaw’s imploring eyes? From a male perspective you would be sectioned if you fell for Widdy (though life has taught me that anything’s possible). Gillian Shepherd had a certain girlish je ne sais quoi, though Edwina Currie is strictly for the submissive man.

  119. February 28, 2009 3:42 PM

    MM are you sober? (The last time MM was sober was in 1969 and that was an accident–Ed.)

  120. February 28, 2009 7:23 PM

    You forgot all about the boyish charms of the volatile Mr Heseltine! I’m sure I don’t really want to know but what’s the Edward the Second treatment?

  121. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 28, 2009 11:18 PM

    I wasn’t frunk earlier, though things have changed since England’s loss to Ireland, largely due to a referee wearing green knickers. Even with two opponents sinbinned the Hibernians could only win by a point.
    The erotic potential of Conservative ministers is too little discussed.

    After a coup Edward II (who had the reputation of being gay) was said to have been dispatched by a white-hot rod or tube inserted into his anus and thrust into his gut. That has got to hurt.

  122. mishari permalink*
    February 28, 2009 11:46 PM

    You’ll doubtless remember Tory MP Stephen Milligan:

    The discovery of his corpse in what was presumed to be a state of auto-erotic asphyxiation, combined with self-bondage and cross-dressing, led to a greater public awareness of auto-erotic asphyxiation and self-bondage and their risks.

    A bizarre detail of his death, which was the subject of much comment and speculation at the time, was that he was found to have had an orange segment in his mouth at the time of his death.

    At the time of his death he was engaged to Julie Kirkbride, now Conservative MP for Bromsgrove.–wiki

  123. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 1, 2009 10:00 AM

    Yes, I’ve been much more careful in my auto-erotic asphyxiation activities since that event. In fact I suspended them for some time. I thought the orange segment was connected to the use of some kind of drug.

    Milligan wasn’t a minister, but I think he was near the inner circle. He was a close friend of Gyles Brandreth, whose diaries of his time in the Major government, Breaking The Code, are very funny. Yes, I know, but they are really funny, and cruelly bitchy at times.

  124. mishari permalink*
    March 1, 2009 10:19 AM

    Gyles BrandX? Am I right in thinking that he’s the hideous pullover specialist?

  125. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 1, 2009 10:27 AM

    You are quite correct. Looking beyond the sweaters is an effort, but pays dividends.

  126. March 1, 2009 11:10 AM

    He has a teddy bear museum somewhere and putting aside the fact that he’s a Thatcher-era Tory there is something off-putting about his breathless manner. I unwittingly saw a photo of him dressed for a Rocky Horror Show night and it was way too much information. Like those other 2 ex-politician showbiz horrors the Hamiltons.

  127. mishari permalink*
    March 1, 2009 11:20 AM

    I quite agree, Al. On the thankfully rare occasions I’ve been exposed to the man, I found him nauseating…twee, arch, giddy, saccharine…the kind of fellow it’d be pleasure to punch.

    Amusing squib in Private Eye this week:

    Q: Who is the odd man out from the following list?

    Lord Stevenson, former chairman, HBOS, Andy Hornby, former CEO, HBOS, Sir Fred Goodwin, former CEO, RBS, Sir Tom McKillop, former chairman, RBS, John McFall MP, chair of the Treasury select committee, Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Terry Wogan, presenter of Radio 2 breakfast show.

    A: Sir Terry Wogan. He’s the only one with a banking qualification.

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