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"Because That's Where The Money Is…"

April 6, 2009


So replied the great American bank robber Willie Sutton when asked by a judge why he’d robbed so many banks.

The venality of politicians, the crookedness of bankers and the financial markets, the daily robbery of the populace by industry and business–all have got me thinking about crime.

My own former career need not detain us. I’m a reformed character. Someone, Montaigne perhaps, wrote that Laws are the crystallization of the prejudices of the community. Hard to argue.

Bank robbery, however, seems to be a special case.

The savage penalties demanded in law are less the wish of the community–who more often than not regard bank robbers as heroes–than the wish of bankers. Given the swinish greed and 3 Stooges level of incompetence exhibited by bankers lately, I’m wondering if now wouldn’t be a good time to either return to the trade or, if a novice, give it a try. I wonder if a jury would actually convict, as long as no-one was hurt?

So let’s have poems on bank robbery, no particular form this time. Just pull the stocking mask over your face, rack the slide to put one in the chamber and let’s go to work…

Step On It, Jack: We’re Pistol Hot

I never planned to be a bank robber;
It wasn’t a dream with a long gestation;
Just sort of happened; when you clobber
A boy with years of expensive education,
You give him an impenetrable rind:
A boy with a bellyfull of classics
Is the sworn enemy of mankind.

At first, I was a bit diffident, even polite:
“Be so good as to lie down on the floor;
Forgive me, but I wonder if I might
Trouble you for that money?”
I’d even wave as I went out the door,
Like a Bishop taking leave of the poor.

That all changed the first time I got shot;
A clown wants to save the insurance man
The trouble of paying out; Christ, it’s not
His money; Alarm raised; Not in the plan;
I said, Step on it, Jack, we’re pistol hot:
And ever since, I’ve been on the lam.

  1. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 3, 2009 11:40 PM

    I have the same problem with tinned salmon, btw.

  2. April 4, 2009 9:34 AM

    Can’t you just get the ones with the ring pulls? Or stick to corned beef? It comes with it’s own little key and everything!

  3. April 4, 2009 9:35 AM

    What happened to the earlier hirsute poll? Are you only allowed one?

  4. April 4, 2009 9:42 AM

    Is this a Zen question?

    We’ve been getting some of those over at BTP also, in particular on the comment thread here:

    Case 38 may offer some Enlightenment regarding the ring-pulls cited by the Canonized One.

  5. mishari permalink*
    April 4, 2009 9:58 AM

    Yes, St.Polly, you can get ring pulls and no, I’m not just allowed one poll. I only just discovered this poll function so it’s sort of a new toy. But I think one is enough at any time, given that they’re not serious.

    MM, I suspect you have the same problem with pilchards, mackerel, crabmeat etc. Let’s just call it Tinned Seafood Trauma…don’t give up hope. We’ll find a cure.

  6. April 4, 2009 12:19 PM

    Some kind of explosives perhaps? (TNT for TFT)…

  7. April 4, 2009 12:19 PM

    oops – TST…

  8. pinkroom permalink
    April 4, 2009 7:27 PM

    Tinned tuna has long been the staff of life in Gasworks Green. Cheap protein; easily stored/served. Caused quite a furore in early 70s when there was mercury and other heavy metals discovered within. We kept eating it. So did the cats… aside from a little local trouble at airport gateways I sense no long term side effects.

  9. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 5, 2009 12:00 AM

    If I’m taking the explosives option I would prefer Semtex to TNT as it’s unsalted.

  10. mishari permalink*
    April 5, 2009 12:02 AM

    …after all, you’ve got your blood-pressure to consider.

  11. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 5, 2009 12:22 AM

    True. The balance of flavours and correct seasoning is more important, however. Those of us whose lips are unsullied by the potato crisp and its salt-laden cousins understand the restrained use of our saline friend.

  12. freep permalink
    April 5, 2009 8:43 PM

    I cannot vote in this matter with a pure heart. Such a question suggests democracy is a greater force for good than I have found to be the case. And I do not like the idea of tuna fish coming anywhere. To cogitate thus, if one is not a certificated zoologist, is to risk being labelled a prevert of a bad kind. Near where I live, a man violated a dolphin some years ago.

  13. April 5, 2009 9:45 PM

    I like sardines, anchovies and mackerel in tins with ring-pulls.

    But Tuna must be in a can which you can only open with a tin-opener.

    Am I
    a.) Anal?
    b.) A hypocrite?
    c.) Imaginary?
    d.) Lacking in basic human decency?
    e.) Conditiooned from birth by a faceless bureaucracy?
    f.) Normal?

    Vote now!

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 5, 2009 10:11 PM

    A to E: Yes.
    F: Definitely not.

    As J Seinfeld once said, the concept of lunch is based on tuna.

  15. April 5, 2009 10:23 PM

    Actually thinking about it I don’t particularly like tinned tuna either. So add

    g.) Talking out my arse?

    and tick it.

  16. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 5, 2009 10:45 PM

    I don’t mind it, though its relationship with fish seems remote, despite the piscine tang which seems to hang around for hours after the repast. Not as bad as kedgeree, which was a banned dish for several years chez Mowbray, only restored after the purchase of those candles which are guaranteed to mask cooking odours. Pilchards and anchovies shouldn’t form any part of the human diet.

    I hope things went well at the secret location.

  17. freep permalink
    April 5, 2009 10:53 PM

    ‘….those candles which are guaranteed to mask cooking odours….’ Name your price. Do they also mask the odours of cremation?

  18. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 5, 2009 11:59 PM

    For crematorium-based odours I recommend Glade’s Pungent Orchid, from the Hades range. The price is your immortal soul, though discounts (ie one to four limbs, depending on quantity) are available for bulk purchases.

  19. April 6, 2009 11:37 AM

    For us veggies, I need frozen Quorn tuna-style chunks. In a bag.

  20. April 6, 2009 3:21 PM

    Pilchards always seem like eating a school meal ( especially if they are in a tinned tomato sauce ) or some dish cooked by a strange uncle of mine. But the concept of Salade Nicoise is surely based on anchovies.

  21. April 6, 2009 3:56 PM

    MM re; secret location. Things went very well thank you. I can reveal the secret location was on a farm near Stokesley in the NE. We’ve been commissioned to create a new show by a local festival and working up there was part of the deal.

    We were almost in freepcountry but I didn’t see any brown roadside signs celebrating the fact. A bit further up there are signs welcoming you to Catherine Cookson country so there’s some lobbying work to English Heritage still to be done

  22. freep permalink
    April 6, 2009 4:28 PM

    Al: Wiki reveals that Freddie Wannitin, percussionist of alternative death metal band Timothy and the Golishias is currently in residence in Stokesley. I have informed English Heritage and requested that either the blue plaque polcy be amended, or that a death squad targets said drummer to enable a plaque to be posted without contravening regulation 43 (b).

  23. April 6, 2009 4:43 PM

    Freep harsh but pragmatic.

  24. freep permalink
    April 6, 2009 5:10 PM

    Note for Billy to attend Alarming’s Stokesley festival event:
    Stokesley is the home of Quorn.
    Press Release:
    ‘Quorn is the leading brand of mycoprotein food product. Quorn, sold as a meat analogue or imitation meat, produced by Marlow Foods, is the subject of the post-taste poetic amalgam known as Poetry Anodynia, an anthology of which may be published by a leading Limerick house. The facility for the ‘food’ to be presented as if it were eatable is felt to have an analogy with the word’s promiscuous rhyming facility: born, torn, lorn, corn, morn, Norn, porn, Vaughan, gorn, fawn, horn and so orn.’

  25. mishari permalink*
    April 6, 2009 10:32 PM

    I realize that dumping the Tuna Poll renders some of your comments baffling. People are going to think you’re a bunch of fucking weirdos. Hahahahahahaha….

  26. April 6, 2009 10:43 PM

    Mish I’m very confused…

  27. mishari permalink*
    April 6, 2009 10:48 PM

    Why? Those poll things are just filler. Basically, I deleted the poll but left the comments.

    Welcome to Politely Homicidal–a world of distorting mirrors and maniacal laughter…

  28. April 6, 2009 11:09 PM

    Oh I see, but isn’t this wanton comments shuffling akin to the much-maligned mod behaviour? Well in normal circumstances anyway, although on this blog you could probably run a shockingly difficult competition to guess the topic of the original post from the comments!

    I would feel that a canned fish orientated poem would be appropriate but that’s already been done very skillfully on the previous post.

  29. mishari permalink*
    April 6, 2009 11:21 PM

    Polly, Polly, Polly…the mods never ‘shuffled’ comments. They deleted or disappeared them, a very different thing indeed. I just removed what was, in effect, a placeholder.

    Compare me to the Grauniad mods again and I’ll come to Todmorden and pour tuna-salad all over your keyboard…

  30. April 6, 2009 11:26 PM

    I get lunch on it on a regular basis anyway! Oh Mishari I’m only teasing…

  31. mishari permalink*
    April 6, 2009 11:28 PM

    So was I. I wouldn’t really come and pour tuna-salad over your keyboard…probably.

  32. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 7, 2009 12:26 AM

    Quorn. It’s an abomination.
    Where was this neologism born?
    I suspect the explanation
    is the word was untimely torn
    still madly screaming from the bourn
    of a copywriter’s flaccid teat,
    as grains of sand to grains of corn:
    pathetic substitute for meat.

    Tedious as a comic’s pun,
    dead as the language of the Norn,
    fit for purpose as a chocolate gun,
    wonky as the knee of Michael Vaughan,
    to sexual love it would be porn.
    Fungiform fraud and carnal cheat
    not stool or cep or hoof or horn
    pathetic substitute for meat.

    Squidgy as an overcooked neat,
    coloured a filthy shade of fawn,
    like the stuff the nostrils secrete
    or a glistening slice of brawn,
    the worm-casts on the autumn lawn
    would certainly taste as sweet
    as any dish it might adorn:
    pathetic substitute for meat.

    Not flesh nor fungus, get you gorn
    and get yourself gorn tout suite,
    feel this gastronomic scorn,
    pathetic substitute for meat.

  33. mishari permalink*
    April 7, 2009 12:33 AM

    It is revolting stuff, MM, as you’ve so admirably outlined above. I’ve never understood the point of it…or tofu. I mean, why bother with that slimey utterly tasteless crap? Just used mashed broad beans or chickpeas or something. Baffling. I’m not by any means a vegetarian, but my diet does consist, in the main, of vegetables and fruit.

    I just really like things (olive oil, lentils, chick peas, spinach, broccoli, fish, etc) that turn out to be really good for you. Probably explains why a lifetime of hard drinking, smoking and drug abuse haven’t inflicted nearly the damage one would have expected. But fucking Quorn? Or Linda McCartney food-like substance? Faugh…I think not.

  34. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 7, 2009 12:42 AM

    I had many arguments with my daughter over this during the 7 or so years she was a vegetarian. Eat vegetables by all means, I used to say, but why eat something which is pretending to be meat? Stupid.

  35. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 7, 2009 12:47 AM

    I didn’t realise you’d moved on to blagging, btw. I got interrupted midstream with the above and only just finished nailing it together.

  36. mishari permalink*
    April 7, 2009 12:53 AM

    It makes as much sense as a fake apple made of quorn or a fake plum…what the hell is the point? Eat meat or don’t eat meat. Just make up your goddamn mind. Years ago in Brixton, a vegetarian friend fed me this bacon substitute crap, God knows what it was made of, wood chips by the taste of it.

    Baffling…like sugar-substitutes. I gave up using sugar in my tea and coffee over 20 years ago. Now I can’t imagine why I’d pollute the taste of tea or coffee with milk or sugar. Like the counter staff in old-style NYC diners used to say:

    If you wanted milk and sugar, why’d you ask for coffee?

  37. seanmurray permalink
    April 7, 2009 1:03 AM

    ‘I realize that dumping the Tuna Poll renders some of your comments baffling. People are going to think you’re a bunch of fucking weirdos. Hahahahahahaha….’

    Not half, chief. And my mind was already half-deranged from seeing The Boat That Rocked, which is every bit as appalling as they’re saying.

    As a connoisseur of truly rank cinema, you have to see this one, mishari. Doubt I’ve ever seen so many cinemagoers actually hyperventilate before, or involuntary Blanche DuBois hand-to-heart/trembling lip motions.

    With Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi also out, we have the intriguing possibility that the UK’s all-time worst novel and film have been released in the same week. Perhaps some old Romo outfit could release their comeback album and give us the hat-trick.

  38. mishari permalink*
    April 7, 2009 1:12 AM

    What little I’ve seen of the advance puffery for The Boat That Rocked convinced me that my time would more constructively spent clipping my toenails than viewing this smug rose-tinted-shite-spectacle. But thanks for the warning.

    Never read a Dyer novel, but I’ve read some of his reportage/journalism, call it what you will. Wasn’t impressed…

  39. parallax permalink
    April 7, 2009 4:10 AM

    In Leichhardt – Sydney’s little Italy suburb – there’s a cafe called Bar Italia which has a hand-written sign next to the coffee machine, something along the lines of: “We make coffee, do not ask for de-caf, soya, or skim milk, we make coffee.”

    Fair enough – I’ll have a coffee then, thanks.

  40. April 7, 2009 8:25 AM

    Mishari dumping the Tuna poll now makes all my related comments read like the crumbs of wisdom they weren’t previously.

  41. April 7, 2009 8:28 AM

    Sean what on earth enticed you in to see the film in the first place? Do you learn nothing from history? Are you at a low ebb? Anything we can do to help? Apart from drumming in the useful mantra ” Don’t touch Richard Curtis films with a bargepole ever again”.

  42. April 7, 2009 8:52 AM

    Bank Robbery Haiku

    open an account
    your money’s safe as houses:
    it pays my bonus

    Look ma, no tuna.

  43. April 7, 2009 9:26 AM

    I like tofu. Marinade it in soy sauce and a little sugar, fry until crispy. Very nice on a salad with some pine nuts and anchovies or covered in satay sauce.

  44. April 7, 2009 10:14 AM

    I also like tofu, and Quorn is handy when you need to add protein to a pasta dinner in a hurry. I prefer chickpeas, but they take a lot of cooking, so they won’t do every day.

    I also like tuna. Swimming. In the ocean. Ditto salmon, pilchards and herring, though a river will do for the salmon, at the right time of year. Richard Curtis in a tin is another thing.

  45. mishari permalink*
    April 7, 2009 11:32 AM

    But tofu doesn’t actually taste of anything except what you add to it. You could marinade a pair of underpants in soy sauce and a little sugar and fry until crispy and achieve the same taste and probably a similiar nutritional value.

    Don’t get me wrong. A vegetarian diet can be every bit as varied and interesting and delicious as a omnivorous one. Many years ago, I lived with a vegetarian girlfriend and she was a terrific cook. Now, I enjoyed cooking and still do but I was working and she wasn’t so she did all the cooking. I became a vegetarian by proxy and it didn’t bother me a bit.

    Occasionally, I’d crave meat and I’d buy a steak and cook it but otherwise, it was fine.

    Of course, too many people remember student or hippy vegetarians, whose idea of cooking was to fuck everything into a large pot and cook until a beige sludge was produced that smelt like dirty laundry.

    The trick, Billy, is to cook your chickpeas in large batches (after soaking overnight in water with a couple of tablespoons of bicarb of soda in it). Then mash them up and season to taste, make patties and shallow fry then freeze them. Delicious chopped into a salad with a tahini dressing.

    I must say, though, the alarming drop in world tuna populations makes me feel a bit guilty about eating tuna. However, I could face the prospect of Richard Curtis’ extinction with equanimity.

  46. April 7, 2009 11:48 AM

    I find that chickpeas freeze very weel cooked and popped into a plactic bak, whole. Sadly, my life as a globetrotting poetry head-hunter leaves little time for this most soothing of activities.

    On a different note, my favourite unintended self-awareness quote of the week must be “nearly the finished article, but not quite”. Go Google.

  47. April 7, 2009 11:49 AM

    A plastic bag will do just as well, BTW.

  48. April 7, 2009 12:40 PM

    MM – I very much appreciate your poetry invective against Quorn.

    We had to keep on using it when a very particular friend who was a vegetarian but hates most vegetables (a highly preposterous position to be in) came round for dinner. The most confusing thing was quorn recipes with mushrooms in, why not just add more mushrooms and leave out the filthy quorn completely?

    Oh dear, I quite like the sentimental clap-trap aka RC, such as “Love Actually”, but then I am a female, which is some kind of get-out clause in itself isn’t it?

  49. April 7, 2009 12:42 PM

    Mish – you’ve changed it all again, there is no handy little list of who’s said what or any links to other sites, unless it’s just my work computer trying to spoil my fun again…

  50. mishari permalink*
    April 7, 2009 12:51 PM

    There is, Polly, but only on the main page (i.e. the page with all the posts on it. Click on the Politely Homicidal header. Everything’s as it was)…

  51. April 7, 2009 2:15 PM

    It’s all hiding at the very bottom of the page on mine. I found it all… anyone would think that conversation was not spicy enough that you have to keep on faffing around with your layout!

    By the way, feel free to come round and spread your lunch on my keyboard, I need a new one anyway, I’m now missing half the letters, which makes typing interesting.

    (Erm. “Spread your lunch” sounds a bit like a euphemism for vomitting doesn’t it?)

  52. mishari permalink*
    April 7, 2009 4:10 PM

    …or oral sex.

  53. April 7, 2009 6:22 PM

    Still trying to get my head round your last comment Mish though I accept that it’s a failure of my imagination not yours.

    I’m agnostic about Tofu. When working in Taiwan it was absolutely fantastic in a meal – especially the silky version which required extreme balancing skills to get it to stay on your chopsticks. But over here tofu seems a bit too knitted and dry.

    Don’t quite understand the anti-Quornery going on here. My partner is a veggie ( I’m not ) so we often eat it and it doesn’t seem any worse than half the meat-stuff you find in pies or pasties.

  54. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 7, 2009 7:50 PM

    How They Brought The Loot From
    Brent To Bethnal Green

    We sprang for the Escort, young Jazza and me,
    chucked the money in the back and turned the key,
    It’s the filth! shouts Jazza, as the engine fires
    and we burn away with a squeal of tyres
    manoeuvring fast through the afternoon traffic
    flooring the pedal and giving it some stick.

    We don’t talk to each other, we stare ahead
    one lousy decision and we’ll end up dead,
    we reach Whitechapel and moving fast
    we dump an old cyclist on his fat arse
    and cut up some slag in a silver Shogun.
    Jazza says he wouldn’t mind giving her one,

    I’ll drop you, I say, and we have a right laugh.
    The fucking car is hotter than a sauna bath,
    we take off our masks and wrap them round the Glocks
    and Jazz slings them out the window in the docks.
    Just a mile till we pick up the GTI,
    then the arsehole Old Bill can kiss it goodbye.

    Then the sodding engine starts to stutter
    and something in my guts begins to flutter.
    For fuck’s sake! What’s the fucking problem? shouts Jazz
    and I change the gears and pump the bloody gas
    then start to pummel the fucking steering wheel.
    In the near distance we hear the sirens squeal.

    They’re on us in a minute and all around.
    Get out of the car and lay your weapons down!
    We know SO19 have got us in their sights
    we don’t put up a struggle, we’re bang to rights,
    as I lay there with my face pressed in the tar,
    I swear I’ll never use another British car.

  55. April 7, 2009 9:25 PM

    Mish that type of behaviour is not appropriate for an open-plan office, although saying that I am working at home tomorrow…

  56. April 7, 2009 10:11 PM

    Less is more they say
    In banking that’s not the way.
    They’ve more money
    Than you can pick up
    Let’s get it all
    With a stick up.

    Striped top, tan tights
    A powerful rifle fitted with sights
    Cudgels and clubs
    For their bonces
    Hit them hard
    Don’t act like ponces.

    Don’t forget the getaway car
    Filled up so we’ll go far
    Its round the corner
    Just out of sight
    Ready to move
    If there’s a fight.

    We all know what rhymes with banker
    But it’s their money for which we hanker.
    Twenty for me,
    Twenty for for you
    Only got fifties?
    That’ll do too.

    Now that there’s a credit crunch
    Robbery is the act that will bring us lunch.

  57. April 7, 2009 11:05 PM

    “A vegetarian diet can be every bit as varied and interesting and delicious as a omnivorous one.”

    I do a falafel-hummus lunch at least three times a week and feel marvelous after every. I cheat by having shawarma mixed in, often, but it’s not a heavy sort of meat (it’s usually chicken). Three places in Berlin do this fare justice… the others are pedestrian or emetic. I’ve never managed to craft falafel in a fine way, myself (though I know a touch of cinnamon is one of the secrets) but if I (or my Beloved) could, I’d never need meat (or leave the ranch) again. I love a good steak, too, now and then, but I can *feel* the infernal things killing me as I chew…

  58. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 7, 2009 11:34 PM

    A tasty snack there from Alarming.

    The only vegetable I eat is the potato, sometimes garnished with onion (fried). Otherwise my diet is wholly carnal, apart from Rice Crispies, chocolate (in various forms), trifle, steamed puddings, syrup tart, tarte tatin, gateau, bread pudding etc etc. Highly recommended if you’re not too concerned with mobility.

  59. seanmurray permalink
    April 8, 2009 12:34 AM

    Alarming —

    I had The Boat That Rocked recommended to me by someone who knows my fondness for films beyond so-bad-it’s-good. She’s gone a little too far this time, however, and I fear that friendship’s over.

    There must have been worse Brit flicks, though I can recall none that provoked so many quiet gasps of ‘Oh no,’ or that left its audience looking so psychically… bereft. Bill Nighy does something right at the film’s climax that is just…

    Sorry, Al. I can’t go on with this, man.

    I’d be glad to hear from anyone else who’s seen TBTR and is interested in forming a recovery group.

  60. April 8, 2009 8:22 AM

    Sean crying is okay. Crying is good. I was on a long haul flight years ago in the days when you couldn’t avoid the film – none of that individual screen with individual choice malarkey.

    The film was Stepmom with Susan Sarandon. Ye Gods. Apart from the fact that….. I can’t go on either. It’s over, I don’t have to suffer aymore. Peace out.

  61. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 9:13 AM

    I dunno, Sean. I find it hard to believe that TBTR is actually more nauseating than Notting Hill, a film I consider to be the most effective emetic I’ve ever encountered…

  62. April 8, 2009 9:17 AM

    MM, I too have a fondness for puddings of all shapes and sizes and would happily replace my entire diet with such, but unfortunately I’m rather too concerned with mobility – more’s the pity. I’ve also tried to argue that a potato is a vegetable and that chips count as one of my five a day, but no-one will believe me.

    A good poem there Al, like the rhyme of “nonces” and “ponces”, which made me chuckle.

    You don’t get any bonus points for noticing that “credit crunch” rhymes with “lunch” though. All the pubs/restaurants and cafes, even sodding burger vans, have worked that one out… it also handily rhymes with “brunch” and “munch”, in fact I’m now suspecting that it was someone in the catering trade who coined the phrase to help sell supposedly-cheap meals.

  63. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 9:43 AM

    Mums! It’s the tasty new breakfast cereal for our times! It’s cheap! It’s filling! And MMM-MMM..the kids say it’s goodylicious! Yes, it’s Credit Crunchies! Made from processed and sterilized banknotes and high in fiber! Only 2 cowrie shells a box!

  64. freep permalink
    April 8, 2009 10:18 AM

    A Quaker Vegetarian suffers a Psychotic Episode, Induced by Five Decades of Imprudent Ingestion of Tofu, which Occasions her Violent Misappropriation of Funds from Barclays Bank, Catford.

    She entered, pious, unadorned, austere,
    And gazed, gray-eyed, at the pale cashier.

    ‘It is not my wish to cause you pain,
    Nor do I approve unlawful gain.
    But banks and I must now part company;
    I abhor your leaders’ squalid gluttony.

    Please keep your hands off those panic buttons
    And I will defer turning you all to mutton.
    Just lock that front door and pull down the blind.
    Much obliged. We are of one friendly mind.’

    She shot out the lens of the CCTV,
    And imagined a vivid new life, in Torquay.

    ‘A moment’s peace, for apt reflection.
    There. Now, I prefer to avoid detection,
    And so wear this Fair Isle woollen hat
    Rather large, the size of a well-fed cat.

    This in my hand is a brand new Luger.
    With ammo. Tea would be nice. Camomile, no sugar.
    Please fill up this handwoven fairtrade bag
    With cash from your tills; we’ll call it my swag.’

    She pondered on lentils, on tofu and quorn,
    And suddenly wished that she was reborn.

    ‘Peace was my aim, but peace is too tame.
    I’ve decided to enter the bank-robbing game.
    Be quicker, young Tracy, just fill up the sack
    I’ve a mind to shell out a little on crack.

    Now all on the floor, while I take out the manager,
    And anoint his fat corpse with this essence of lavender.
    If anyone moves just a hint of a limb,
    They’ll be closely in touch with the blithe seraphim.’

    With cash in her hand, she left in high mood,
    Went home to Sydenham and sat, squatly nude
    On her old leather chaise, that Friendly old lady,
    Sat dipping some drumsticks in rich faggot gravy,
    Filled her beaker with green absinthe topped up with Schnapps,
    And waited some time for the world to collapse.

  65. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 10:28 AM

    Bravo, freep. A tour de force: bank robbery as envisaged by Edward Arlington Robinson, Elmore Leonard and The Soil Association. A triumph.

  66. freep permalink
    April 8, 2009 10:30 AM

    MM: many thanks for your curse upon quorn. I don’t see how anyone can be other than vituperative about that false food. I am reminded that there is a famous Hunt in Leicestershire called the Quorn hunt, and now that one is forbidden to pursue Reynard with malicious intent, I expect they send luckless whippets adorned with Quorn cubes around the hedgerows.
    It is the same with snails. Snails taste of nothing but the garlic butter and parsley in which they are cooked. But they are easier to catch than foxes. Which need little seasoning if you can catch them. There are far too many foxes around these days, and I would quite like to taste one.

  67. April 8, 2009 10:39 AM

    Freep – brilliant!

    OK, it’s so far off topic, it’s out of the skylight, but I thought this guy was impressive, takes one-man-band to another level…

  68. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 10:42 AM

    I can’t remember where I read it, but I did come across an account of the cooking and consumption of a fox. Apparently, it tasted (and smelled) absolutely foul.

    You’re right about snails. One might achieve the same culinary effect by cutting up a bicycle tyre and serving the bits in snail shells, garnished with butter, garlic and parsley. Who’d know?

    Although I’m broadly in favour, I don’t think hunting snails on horseback will catch on–unless the horses are drugged to the eyeballs with thorazine, causing them to move as though very, very old and deep underwater.

  69. freep permalink
    April 8, 2009 10:44 AM

    OK, mate, maybe I’ll pass on the fox pie. My dog’s fatter.

  70. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 10:54 AM

    I should have mentioned, slick jobs and smooth getaways from MM and Al…

    As you know, freep, dog is highly esteemed in Korea. Years ago there was a great cartoon in Private Eye of a Korean couple sitting at a restaurant table. As the husband empties a ketchup bottle over his plate, the wife says “You spoil that dog.”

    Well, it made me laugh.

  71. seanmurray permalink
    April 8, 2009 12:03 PM

    Ah but imagine if Notting Hill had been aiming for a sort of 40 Year Old Virgin/Knocked Up semi-*improv* vibe… with all of the cast very, very uncomfortable at the idea… which they try to cover up with contemptuous rock’n’roll sneers and I-don’t-give-a-fuck-me Sky newsreader-type randomly draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn out vooooooowels and EMphaSES and singing their lines falsetto for no reason whatsoever… and resulting in supposedly mid-60s dudes pumping out anachronisms like Chandler-Bing-style ‘I am SO not going to…’ and ‘yeah, WHATEVAH’… and that the improv we’re treated to (improv off a Curtis script, mind) IS THE IMPROV THAT WAS NOT EDITED OUT. The DVD is a must.

    Picture too the 90% effete RP-speaking cast attempting Byronic rock’n’roll magnetism’/transcendence and prancing effetely around to some of the greatest music ever recorded. Picture something so intensely bad that you can feel space-time warp or melt around you as you watch (hence the anachronisms?). I now know how black holes form.

    I will remember The Boat That Rocked on my deathbed, I swear, and even then it may not quite be done with me.

  72. April 8, 2009 12:11 PM

    You’re only making me want to watch this film now.

  73. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 12:17 PM

    OK, Sean…your inspired verbal pyrotechnics of disgust and amazement have convinced me.

    It’s obviously a ‘must see’. I can’t resist a genuinely, incontestably, beyond redemption so-fucking-awful-your-eyeballs-will-leave-your-head-and-emigrate-to-Australia kind of film…

  74. seanmurray permalink
    April 8, 2009 12:33 PM

    Thank you, thank you.

    (throws a comforting arm around your shoulders in advance)

  75. April 8, 2009 12:45 PM

    Sean, have you seen Honest?

  76. seanmurray permalink
    April 8, 2009 1:33 PM

    No I haven’t, EB. Please don’t tell me there’s an entire genre of this stuff. Hmm…

    Okay, if you’ll promise to put yourself through TBTR I’ll track down Honest. It certainly looks promising. Does it make you feel like you’ve had a week’s food poisoning, drained and tearful but strangely manic too? Is it not just aesthetically and spiritually rank but contemptuously so?

  77. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 1:33 PM

    Actually, Sean, I enjoyed your brief review so much I’d very much like to read a lengthier version. Why not write a full-length review of the film in the same delightfully excoriating vein? I’ll post it properly with a suitable image…if you’ve the inclination and the time, of course.

  78. seanmurray permalink
    April 8, 2009 1:55 PM

    Cheers for the offer, Mishari. How about we group-blog The Boat That Rocks? The bum notes come so thick and fast and loud that no one reviewer can really do them justice. It could be a sort of film club-cum-recovery group.

    I will be writing a long evisceration of Geoff Dyer’s Jeff [with a J] in Venice, Death in Varanasi, which is actually a worse work of art than TBTR but nevertheless looks likely to challenge for the Booker.

    I’m still reeling from exposure to these two in the same week. What’s going on?

  79. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 2:15 PM

    I think you’re the only one of us that’s seen the bugger so far. Give my proposal some thought. Venting spleen is good. It helps the healing process. You do want to heal, don’t you?

    Is your Dyer review going to be on The Adorata? If not, keep us posted…I’d be more than happy to put it up here.

  80. sean murray permalink
    April 8, 2009 2:52 PM

    The Dyer review will be on a new site coming soonish. We’ll be doing far more personal, Lester Bangs-style lit reviews.

    Do see TBTR. I knew I was witnessing something very special when I saw a twenty-stone farmer make that hand-to-heart motion, Blanche DuBois-style.

  81. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 3:17 PM

    “Lester Bangs-style lit reviews”? Great. I always enjoyed the man’s style, even when I didn’t always share his enthusiasms. So what? He was passionate, he was engaged, he was funny as hell and he fucking cared. Music was really important to him. It wasn’t just some style accessory. Like I said, keep us posted..

  82. April 8, 2009 4:12 PM


    Honest is death-defying. If you love Dave Stewart doing what he’s ‘best’ at at, i.e. writing songs for Eurythmics, then you’ll love him doing something he knows nothing about: directing movies. His first thought, ‘why cast actresses when there are three perfectly good members of All Saints sitting around doing nothing, waiting for the talented one to write some more songs?’ was a master-stroke. The second; ‘I wonder why Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais have never written a a female-led 60s crime caper,’ seals the deal.

    Actually, the sheer ineptness of the whole thing makes it rather lovable. Jonathan Cake, as the villainous editor of an Oz-style mag, overacts so recklessly one can only believe he’s trying to get himself fired. No chance, when Dave keeps the camera rolling on Blatt & the Appletons (isn’t that a better name than All Saints?), one of whom is restricted to shrieking and punching like she’s just been dragged in from Ibiza Uncovered and wants her Bacardi Breezer back. Nicole Appleton pushes herself hard in the lead role, working those vestigial acting chops but, as Emily Dickinson once said, ‘drowning is not so pitiful as the attempt to rise’.

    A convoluted story about cross-dressing crime sprees to save their poor dad from generic post-Tarantino quirky gangster Corin Redgrave ‘resolves’ in a cross-country escape from a South American drug-lord whom I can only describe as the Wolverhampton Nick Cave. Add a regulation trip scene and some entirely integral-to-the-plot topless shots where you just know Dave kept having to re-shoot because he ‘forgot to take the lens cap off’ and you’ve got a film that, if there was any justice, would already have its own drinking game.

  83. sean murray permalink
    April 8, 2009 4:46 PM

    ‘drowning is not so pitiful as the attempt to rise’.


    Honest and TBTR: surely a future double-bill.

    While we’re down here in the depths, then, here’s an old GU post of mine about an immortal artwork that’s still the very worst I know of:

    Re Sam’s suggestion about the worst passages we’ve ever read, I’m pretty sure all 5 of mine would be in Frederic Beigbeder’s 6.99.

    My experience with that sacred text went something like this:

    — around p.15 I knew this was the worst thing I’d ever read.
    — around p.30 I knew it was the worst thing I ever *would* read.
    — around p.70 I realised it was the worst human artifact of any kind I’d ever encounter. A veritable thunderstorm of bum notes. The ne plus ultra of gick. The…
    — anyway, then around p.100 I couldn’t stop shaking. I had a constant lump in my throat and the world was drained of all colour.
    — but then… but then at some point after this the book suddenly became *very* bad.

    Yes. I can’t remember the precise page but our advertising exec hero Octave finds himself floating at sea and staring up at the sky and… well, just philosophising and stuff. Shooting the breeze. This sequence is certainly the worst thing I’ve ever read.

    Though not — most assuredly not — my least favourite.

  84. April 8, 2009 6:27 PM

    Essex Boys would make a good late nighter after the double bill. Another gangster/geezer film and mainly an excuse to speak in cocker-knee, show naked women and indulge in excessive violence. It’s actually not as good as I’ve made it sound and makes Guy Ritchie’s oeuvre look sophisticated and cinematic.

    Friends tell me Rancid Aluminium and Love Honour and Obey are ones to look out for in this popular genre of the mid/late 90’s. Although he made a decent Peter Cook film I usually find anything with Rhys Ifans in it worth missing.

    ExitB A friend of mine who worked in advertising did several ads with Dave Stewart. Completely incomprehensible apparently and liable to think so far out of the box that it entered into another box, ate the budget before it got started and ended up being an expensive idea done on the cheap.

  85. April 8, 2009 6:39 PM

    This thread features some of the funniest puppy crushings I’ve ever read! There’s a *must-have* Arts and Entertainment mag in here somewhere… “Bloodcrit” might work as a name.

  86. sean murray permalink
    April 8, 2009 6:51 PM

    Can’t imagine I’d survive that double bill, Al, but if I do I’ll hang around for your sadistic late nighter, ya sicko.

  87. April 8, 2009 7:35 PM

    When I was 15 the local flea-pit used to show a double bill of Brit soft-core films on a Sunday night. Perfect fodder for excitable teen males.

    Best of which was a film that was edited so that not only did they cut out the sex scenes but also the scenes leading up to the sex scenes.

    Basically the film was a series of scenes of a man furtively knocking on a door, CUT! shot of man leaving the house followed by a scene in home/restaurant where they talk. Someone leaves the scene, we follow him to a house CUT! he leaves the house . And so on for 80 minutes

    Immensely frustrating for a 15 year old lured by the possibility of seeing naked women but when I was older the deconstruction of narrative in books, European films and theatre held no fear for me.

  88. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2009 8:14 PM

    Although you’re right, Al, in describing Essex Boys as witless dross, I don’t think it’s really in the running when put up against contenders like Guy “Faux Cokkernys ‘R Us” Ritchie’s ritual disembowelment of Wertmuller’s Swept Away, featuring his ex, Madonna “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Malawi” Ciccone.

    A film so rancid, so hauntingly, wretchedly vile in every respect that I came away from it emitting a repetitive high-pitched whimpering, peeping noise, like a Brain Fever Bird.

    Actually, any film with Ms. Ciccone in it is a contender for The Golden Excrement award.

  89. sean murray permalink
    April 8, 2009 8:54 PM

    ‘I came away from it emitting a repetitive high-pitched whimpering, peeping noise, like a Brain Fever Bird.’

    These are the details that matter. I’m also seeing head down, full-body shudders (obviously), kicking at stones but missing due to tear-blurred eyes. What am I missing?

    • mishari permalink*
      April 8, 2009 9:37 PM

      …aside from the nausea, bleeding from the eyes and the sensation that insects were burrowing under my skin? Not much.

  90. April 8, 2009 9:56 PM

    Let’s hear it for bad films
    The ones we secretly enjoy
    We don’t just merely like them
    We’ve got a more devious ploy.

    Schadenfreude, so bad it’s good
    Call it what you will
    To take pleasure in the rubbish
    So it’s not a bitter pill.

    No turn is left unstoned
    No crap is left unseen
    The hours spent watching dross
    Borders on the obscene.

    The only major drawback
    The lorn in the forlorn
    Are the comments you see above
    From the likes of Mish and Sean.

    • mishari permalink*
      April 8, 2009 10:26 PM

      There’s no awful filmic trash
      That ever daunts Alarming
      What gives Sean and me a rash
      Alarming finds quite charming.

  91. freep permalink
    April 8, 2009 11:39 PM

    al: I liked your story of the 15-year old’s experience of porn movies. I recall something similar, which I think was a good part of my education. At the age of 15, about 1961, I and a friend crept into Tooting Vogue cinema to see the double bill of ‘Round the World with Nothing On’ and ‘Paris Vice Squad.’ The first was the standard jaunty doc of nudist camps, tactically positioned privet hedges, tennis racquets masking nipples and so on. It had no plot, no character, very irritating music and voice over, and nothing of interest at all, except the possible chance of seeing part of a female breast. And after 90 minutes of waiting, even a bra strap failed to appear. The other was similarly plotless, characterless and dull; whether it was a drama or a documentary I forget, but I think the male audience was supposed to be excited at the idea that illicit sex was available somewhere in the world.

    From this I deduced two things: first, that porn was a waste of time, and nothing in the last half century has persuaded me otherwise. So I may have missed opportunities to masturbate, but I have spared myself a large amount of aesthetic embarrassment. The other is that you should trust your judgement about film on the basis of experience. I don’t trust too many reviews, and am fully prepared to walk out after ten minutes. Films which I have walked out from recently include Mike Leigh’s Happy go Lucky, which had no redeeming features whatever. More usually I manage to stay to the end, because there is often something in it which is of equal value to the bus stop outside; a pair of shoes or the lines on the face of an old actor.
    But there are bad films (like When Worlds Collide, or Tremors) that are amusing to watch, and bad bad bad films (of the Notting Hill variety, or containing Bjork) which are an offence to humanity, and can never be ‘so bad they’re good’. Three bads and you’re out.

  92. April 9, 2009 8:24 AM

    Freep Tremors – a classic of our times whereas in Dancer in the Dark ( or whatever it was called ) with Bjork I was wishing they had hung her about an hour before they did. Afterwards I hated the film even more for making me think that.

  93. April 9, 2009 9:19 AM

    ‘there is often something in it which is of equal value to the bus stop outside’

    That’s some cold evaluatin’ Freep.

  94. April 9, 2009 11:48 AM

    Dancer in the Dark
    Had me on the ledge
    If I see it again
    I’ll jump off the edge

    It’s not as bad
    As Staying Alive
    If I see that again
    I won’t stay alive.

  95. mishari permalink*
    April 9, 2009 11:56 AM

    Dancer In The Dark
    Had me begging for beer
    And I puked in the car park
    (although let’s be clear:
    I would rather have garked
    over Lars Von Trier.)

  96. April 15, 2009 12:44 PM

    So here I am weeks late.. you’ve all moved on, but here’s my bloody poem about bloody bank robbing…

    When Robin Banks were nought but a small boy,
    In short-leg trousers and public school cap,
    They pondered what source of gainful employ
    There could be for such a talentless chap.
    Assiduously able to destroy
    Any project on which his hand did clap,
    His genius often would they deploy
    To chores they’d not mind when he caused mishap.

    He tried his hand at countless professions
    But somehow he lacked the requisite nous
    To make any kind of good impressions,
    Successive bosses their ardour he’d douse
    Through incompetence and indiscretions.
    He chopped the wrong trees and milked the wrong cows,
    He’d clear the wrong house in repossessions –
    He seemed clearly destined for the workhouse.

    One day a gent in sharp suit and cravate
    Rode into town on a shiny black steed,
    Burst in the saloon and took off his hat
    And with his stashed cash “Free bar!” he decreed.
    He worked round the punters, charming with chat.
    When Robin he met his long face queried,
    “I’m Robin Banks,” Rob said, “All I’m good at…”
    “What luck!” the gent exclaimed, “Just what I need.”

    Rob listened with awe as the gent relayed
    Tales which were surely pure fabrication,
    Of adventure and crime, handsomely paid,
    which he soon was to find weren’t invention.
    Reckless natured, a good gangster he made,
    So hungry to get retaliation,
    The town’s folk who’d scorned him were now afraid.
    He’d finally found his true vocation.

  97. mishari permalink*
    April 15, 2009 5:16 PM

    A fine cautionary tale; be nice to incompetents or they might discover their metier and come back to duff you up.

  98. April 15, 2009 5:42 PM

    I like that theory… now who should I duff up first!

Comments are closed.