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The Ho At Pooh Corner

June 22, 2009

de chirico-melancholy and mystery of a street
I’d like you all to subvert a children’s classic. Like this:

Eyore was looking gloomier than usual. Owl was looking thoughtful. Piglet was chain-smoking and seemed nervous. Tigger was bouncing up and down. “That motherfucker Tigger’s been sampling the product again,” said Piglet.

“Never mind that,” said Eyore, “we’ve got bigger problems. We promised Christopher Robin we’d deliver five keys. We’ve got nobody available to run it up to London.”

“We need some fucking moron,” said Owl. As they contemplated the problem, the gang became aware of approaching singing. “The more I pom-tiddle-i-iddle-i-pom, the more I dum-diddly-diddly-ti-tum…” A rare smile spread slowly across Eyore’s features. He looked at Owl. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”


On reaching Charing Cross Station, Pooh had exited the concourse, turned right down Villiers Street and walked to the river. The river was very big and not at all suitable for Pooh Sticks, he thought. How kind of Eyore and the others to send him on this exciting trip! And how strange London was! Pooh considered the word ‘fark’. The word was new to him but he had heard it many times already. A large man on the train had told him to ‘fark off’. Another man had asked him if he was ‘having a farkin’ larf’, another had told him to ‘get to fark’.

An odd kind of word, thought Pooh. Not very hummy.

“Get a taxi-cab,” Owl had said, “tell the driver to take you to the corner of Railton Road and Cold Harbour Lane in Brixton. Walk up Railton Road until you get to King Tubby’s I-tal Bakery. That’s where you must deliver the bag of icing sugar.”

A bakery, thought Pooh. Perhaps they’ll have something with honey. Pooh began to sing “perhaps they’ll have some honey, yummy-scrummy honey…”; a dishevelled man told him to ‘shut the fark up.’
That odd word again. Perhaps Christopher Robin will know what it means, thought Pooh.


Pooh walked up Railton Road. What a lot of new words he was learning! The taxi driver had called him a ‘kant’. A man he’d asked directions from had called him a ‘bomba clart’. A child had offered him some ‘skonk’ and called him a ‘batty bwoy’ when he’d looked puzzled. This was quite an adventure, thought Pooh.

A white van screeched to a halt beside him. Pooh was knocked to the ground by large men with guns and the sports bag was torn from his paws. He was dragged to his feet. “Where you going, sunshine?”, he was asked by a burly, unshaven man. “King Tubby’s I-tal Bakery,” said Pooh, “I’m delivering some icing sugar.”

The men burst into raucous laughter.


“Well, what’ve we got?” said the Detective Inspector. “Fuck all, guv,” replied the sergeant, “the bugger keeps talking about donkeys and owls and piglets.”

“Think we’ll get anything out of him?” asked the DI. The sergeant shook his head. “Doubt it, guv. He’s a pro. You know what they’re like.” The men gazed at the small, brown figure in the interrogation room. The DI nodded. “Hard as nails,” he said.

…your turn.

  1. June 22, 2009 1:15 PM

    You monster!!! What are you asking us to do?

    Retreats into memories and consoles distraught childhood favourites that he most certainly won’t be indulging in this sort of desecration, once again failing to realise that they don’t actually exist off the page.

    Strangely enough the evil Queen of the “Heliotrope Bonbon” exites him in a way she never did when he was young. Her complete lack of self-consciousness over calling Africans gollywogs and darkies coupled with her lack of scruples about killing people proves strangely enticing to his early 21st century laced-up soul. These feelings are instantly repressed and are likely to surface years later as the explanation behind a rash of serial killings.

  2. June 22, 2009 1:36 PM

    Tintin failed to get a job as a boy reporter because of employment regulations mainly. Therefore he stayed at school, went to business college and worked at the sort of job which didn’t offer opportunities to travel abroad or extended holiday breaks. He thus missed out on the sort of exciting adventures that would look good in comic strip form.

    Deprived of Tintin’s influence and friendship Captain Haddock descended into complete alcoholism and quickly ended his days in Tangiers dying of liver failure. He might have met William Burroughs but frankly who knows.

    The Thompson Twins became a rather grim 80’s pop group.

  3. Meltonian permalink
    June 22, 2009 1:47 PM

    ‘I don’t expect you to talk, Mr Bond, I expect you to enjoy this green tea prepared by Mr Oddjob.’
    ‘Why, thank you, Goldfinger. Mmmm, that’s very good.’
    ‘When you’ve finished your tea I propose to send you back to London in my personal jet, Mr Bond.’
    ‘You are too kind, Goldfinger.’
    ‘Not at all. Ah, here is my pilot, Miss Pussy Galore.’
    ‘How do you do, Miss Galore?’
    ‘I am very well, Mr Bond. And thank you for not inferring by word or gesture that my given name is merely an excuse for sexual innuendo.’
    ‘It never crossed my mind, Miss Galore. May I call you Pussy?’
    ‘Of course. Shall we go?’
    ‘Just a moment, Miss Galore. Mr Bond, I think I should apologise to you for painting your lady friend gold. I had no idea that it would lead to her extinction.’
    ‘Oh, don’t let it concern you, Goldfinger. She was a lousy fuck anyway.’

  4. Meltonian permalink
    June 22, 2009 1:48 PM

    Oh, children’s. Sorry.

  5. mishari permalink*
    June 22, 2009 1:57 PM

    Oh, I dunno, MM…I’ve always considered the Bond books if not children’s novels then definitely aimed at adolescents of all ages. I loved them as a boy. It’s always struck me as rather a pity that the films were such a pastiche…

  6. Meltonian permalink
    June 22, 2009 4:52 PM


  7. Meltonian permalink
    June 22, 2009 5:00 PM

    Sorry about the T. My enormous sausage fingers slipped. I was going to say that the Bond books formed my entire reading for one summer in my youth.

    ‘Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep and is unable to locate them, apparently.’
    ‘That’s interesting. She could be entitled to a set-aside grant. Have you got her number?’
    ‘Can’t find a number, but she has got a website,’
    ‘Let’s have a look…… bloody Explorer…… oh, fuck! Have you seen this?’
    ‘Ugh! That’s horrible!’
    ‘Call the RSPCA!’

  8. Meltonian permalink
    June 22, 2009 5:02 PM

    Christ, is that a real website? I just made it up.

  9. mishari permalink*
    June 22, 2009 5:30 PM

    Harry Wharton regained consciousness slowly. He attempted to move, only to discover that he was bound hand and foot. Where was he? The last thing he remembered was sitting in his study with the other fellows, toasting crumpets when Bunter had come in to offer them some cake…

    Wharton looked around him. He appeared to be in some sort of cellar. Music was playing. He didn’t recognize it. “Mozart,” said a voice, “exquisite, is it not?” The light grew brighter and Wharton saw a figure standing over a table. Stretched out on the table was…oh, Lord…it was Inky, his classmate..son of a maharaja…and standing over Inky…”Bunter!”

    “Yes, Bunter,” said the corpulent figure. “I’ve decided to invite you chaps round for dinner. I’ve always liked Indian food,” and so saying Hannibal Bunter sank his teeth into the neck of the Asian boy…

  10. Meltonian permalink
    June 22, 2009 11:03 PM

    Jennings and Darbishire Go Postal

    ‘Suffocating sniperscopes, Darbi’, said Jennings, ‘What have you got there?’
    ‘It’s a Mannlicher-Schwarzkopf machine pistol’, Darbishire said proudly, ‘My father brought it back from the war.’
    ‘I thought he was a chaplain,’ Jennings said, looking enviously at the gun.
    ‘Yes, but in the commandos. He always said grace before garrotting a German. What have you got?’
    Jennings showed him his Thompson submachine gun, conscious that it seemed a little dull beside the Mannlicher.
    ‘I’ve got this Luger as well’, he said, waving it rather dangerously in the air, ‘I found it in my uncle’s attic, along with a box of ammo.’
    ‘Spifflicating shotguns!’ enthused Darbishire, ‘My father says-‘
    ‘Let’s get going’, said Jennings.

    Despite his supersonic earsight, Mr Carter was unaware of the presence of Jennings and Darbishire until a .45 slug passed through his shoulder, quickly followed by another through his head. Venables and Atkinson ran over from the tennis courts.
    ‘Fossilised fish-hooks, Jennings,’ Venables said, ‘You’ve blown away Mr Carter. They’ll make you miss tea.’
    ‘It’s shepherd’s pie as well’, Atkinson put in.
    Darbishire dispatched them with a couple of bursts, then raked the school drive, cutting down Temple as he emerged from the shrubbery.
    ‘Watch out, Darbi,’ said Jennings, alarmed, ‘You nearly got me then.’
    ‘Sorry, Jen, bit of a bish. My glasses misted up.’
    They moved methodically through Linbury Court, killing everyone they found, ending with Bromwich Major, who they discovered cowering in the boiler room. On their way out of the school a loud voice hailed them.
    ‘You boys! Put those guns down at once!’
    Old Wilkie stood steaming with fury, glaring down at the two heavily-armed boys. Jennings kneecapped him with a burst from the Thompson.
    ‘Did you hear what I said, Jennings? Put down those weapons! I… I… corwumph!’ Jennings finished him off with the Luger.
    ‘Well, that’s the lot, Darbi.’
    ‘What shall we do now, Jen? Kill each other or commit suicide?’
    ‘Don’t be a clodpoll. We’ll chuck the guns in the lake and go down to the village for some cream buns and lemonade.’

  11. June 23, 2009 7:51 AM

    A couple remembered from my misspent youth

    Mary had a little lamb
    She kept it in a bucket
    And every time the lamb got out
    The dog he tried to put it back in again.

    Mary had a little lamb
    Her father shot the shepherd.

  12. June 23, 2009 8:22 AM

    MM, I posted a small versicle in response to you on Poster Poems, BTW.

  13. June 23, 2009 8:35 AM

    Meltonian Says:
    June 22, 2009 at 4:52 PM | Reply


    “Don’t Ask Why”

    Mary had a little tree
    She kept it in a planter
    Melton had a capital T
    He planted it in a Commenter

  14. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    June 23, 2009 10:02 AM

    Harry leaned on the wall, panting furiously. Hermione tossed her head back, her eyes flashing with indignation.
    “I told you not to use the invisibility cloak! Now my shins are bruised and my toes have been reduced to fruit compote!”
    “It’d be bloody lovely to lick some bloody yoghurt off of ’em,” sighed Ron.
    Harry rallied his senses.
    “Come on, you two. If we don’t get there early we’ll have to queue.”

    He looked up and down the corridor, then set off at a trot towards the far bedroom. As he peered round the door he was dismayed to see half a dozen others waiting in line by the wardrobe.
    “Shit!” said Harry. Then, “Who’s working today?”
    “There’s a half-a-dozen nymphs just a-ready and waiting!” said the bear nearest the wardrobe door. “Ain’t that right, Boo-boo?”
    His small companion raised a doleful smile, pre-lubing assiduously as he spoke:
    “Sure, Yogi. And three fawns!”
    At this news, Anne gave a gasp of delight.
    “Three, George! How super, isn’t it, darling Timmy?”
    “Woof,” said Timmy, as George gripped her strap-on more firmly, a determined glint in here eye.

  15. June 23, 2009 10:55 AM

    Billy it appears I also misspent my youth

    Mary had a little lamb
    She also had a duck
    She put them on a mantelpiece
    To see if they………..

    I blame the availability of Natural Dry Cider for 12 year olds for these “poems”.

    I trust your excuse is as water-tight as mine.

  16. June 23, 2009 11:11 AM

    Well, tight anyway.

  17. Meltonian permalink
    June 23, 2009 12:22 PM

    Thanks for the versicle, BM. I would inscribe it in my copy of Lares/Manes, but the links on the Shearsman site don’t seem to work. Do they allow pre-ordering?

  18. Meltonian permalink
    June 23, 2009 12:23 PM

    I mean pre-publication ordering, of course.

  19. June 23, 2009 2:48 PM

    I should hope they do. I don’t think it’s in the online shop yet, but this will get them: editorATshearsmanDOTcom. And thanks. A lot, actually.

  20. June 23, 2009 4:30 PM

    “Harry Wharton regained consciousness slowly. He attempted to move, only to discover that he was bound hand and foot. Where was he? The last thing he remembered was sitting in his study with the other fellows, toasting crumpets when Bunter had come in to offer them some cake…”

    Sounds like a script from this noble series:

  21. mishari permalink*
    June 23, 2009 5:22 PM

    That 70s overdose forces me to post some proper music:

  22. June 23, 2009 6:07 PM

    But that’s almost the definition of an effective parody… that if it weren’t a parody, it’d be depressing. Masterful…. even down to the low-rent neon and the cantilevered hairgear

  23. mishari permalink*
    June 23, 2009 6:20 PM

    …oh, I don’t disagree. It’s just that the only thing that made the 70s tolerable were drugs and sex. Actually, come to think of it…

  24. June 23, 2009 8:05 PM

    It certainly wasn’t brown nylon underpants with a white trim that made the 70’s tolerable.

    Actually I rather liked the 70’s – the 80’s were the decade that never should have existed.

  25. June 23, 2009 10:26 PM

    Billy, Al, Mish,

    I’ll go you one better lads: a misspent youth in the FIFTIES… that is it’s mis-spending one’s youth in the FIFTIES to be caught

    Not Wearing Mouse Ears

  26. mishari permalink*
    June 23, 2009 10:39 PM

    I think I would have liked to have misspent my youth in the 20’s. Knocking around with Ezra and F.Scott and Zelda…

    I bought a new copier/printer/scanner today. I was amused to find a warning at the back of the Users Manual informing me that it may be unlawful in some jurisdictions to print my own money, stock certificates, passports etc.

    What I want to know is which jurisdictions isn’t it unlawful in…

  27. Meltonian permalink
    June 23, 2009 10:44 PM

    Malnutrition At Malory Towers

    Bunty couldn’t understand why Angela was so thin. As they scampered about the hockey field Angela beat her to every ball, and by a good margin. Yet Bunty knew that Angela ate like a pregnant pony. She decided to tackle her about it that evening.
    She found Angela in the dorm, removing excess body hair with an old razor blade.
    ‘I say, Angela,’ she said. Angela jumped and squealed. After the blood had been staunched they sat on the bed and Bunty asked how she managed to remain so slim. Angela seemed surprised.
    ‘I use the finger, of course.’
    ‘How do you mean?’
    ‘Well, after eating brekker, or lunch, or supper, I go into the lavatory and make myself sick. Everyone does it. Don’t you?’
    ‘Oh, yes, of course’, said Bunty. Gosh, what an absolute imbecile she had been.

    In the lavatory after supper Bunty thrust her finger down her throat and waggled it without success. Sighing, she turned away and found Miss Lash the PE teacher standing foursquare in the doorway.
    ‘What are you doing, Bunty?’ she demanded.
    ‘I… I… ‘ the hot tears rolled down Bunty’s cheeks. ‘I was trying to make myself sick so I could lose weight, Miss Lash, but I couldn’t do it.’
    ‘You silly girl. Why didn’t you come to me?’
    Bunty dried her tears and smiled wanly. ‘I- ‘ She gasped as Miss Lash’s iron fist smashed into her solar plexus. Then she doubled up over the toilet and vomited copiously into the bowl.
    Miss Lash patted her bottom. ‘We’ll soon have that lard off you, old girl. Same time tomorrow, yah?’

  28. mishari permalink*
    June 23, 2009 11:13 PM

    Toad slipped behind the wheel of his sparkling new Fettuccine Alfredo. He pressed the starter button and the engine’s 32 cylinders fired. The buxom blonde in the passenger seat proffered a small mirror with a fat line of white powder on it. Toad lowered his face to the mirror and inhaled. His heart roared and he blipped the throttle. The car screamed like a hundred angry tigers.

    “Toady, honey…can I ask you a personal question?”

    Toad retrieved his eyeballs from his lap and nodded.

    “No offence but you’re a frog, right?”

    “A toad,” replied Toad irritably.

    “Whatever. Thing is, how’d a toad get so rich?”

    “I won the lottery. Look, do you want to go shopping or what?”

    The blonde squealed, “Yeah. I loooove shopping…”

    The Italian sports car took off like a rocket-sled.

    A prominent local landowner, Mr. Toad of Toad Hall was killed in an car accident yesterday. Mr. Toad’s companion, Miss Chicken Licken, was also killed. A police spokesman said that details are sketchy at present but Mr. Toad “appeared to have lost control of his sports car and hit a tree.”–from The Borsetshire Evening Post

  29. pinkroom permalink
    June 23, 2009 11:13 PM

    Were those pants all-white to start with? ,

    Once upon a time, back in the 1970s, a foolish father, bragged before the First Comrade of some East European Republic that he had a beautiful daughter so full of Socialist Pride for her Motherland that she could spin 100 per cent industrial grade nylon into gold to advance the struggle in Africa, Indo-China, the en-suite love dungeons of the First Comrade’s Palace or wherever it was most needed.

    Consequently the poor maid was dragged by goons into the scraps warehouse of a collectivised nylon village, provided with a crude spinning device and told, by a hatchet-faced Sister of the Political Commisariat, to get making gold quick… Were she to succeed, against all the iron laws of materialism, she would be joining the First Comrade’s elite cadre of …er, secretarial assistants but were she to fail? A headfirst trip to the great hogswill grinder of the Heroes of the Five Year Plan Farm no 6 was perhaps the best she might hope for.

    Weeping alone, bitterly, a strange little, wizened man approached in a worker’s overalls.
    “What might your troubles be?”
    She told him all, and by morning he had transformed the many tons of badly cut, blue-sparking, man-made fabric were transformed into neat little bars of pure gold.

    At the close of the shift the Commisar, and the First Comrade himself, were impressed; particularly at the zealous way she denounced the dog’s head traitor who had assisted her, naming him as one Wrinkledforeskin… a decadent writer of ribald ballads and part-time mystic, upon whom the full-force of Revolutionary Justice must be swiftly hammered.

    And it was.

    The pigs of the Heroes of… no 6 slept fully contented that night whilst the Foolish Man’s daughter was rewarded with a Party Card, a pretty new hair-cut, and lived happily ever after.

  30. June 23, 2009 11:33 PM


    Perhaps “jurisdictions” was a misprint for “dimensions”?

  31. Meltonian permalink
    June 23, 2009 11:36 PM

    Ah, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. What a great series. They don’t make them like that any more.

  32. June 24, 2009 8:36 AM

    All is well on Animal Farm. Communism works. The end.

  33. Meltonian permalink
    June 24, 2009 9:55 AM

    Alarming was obviously an intellectual child.

  34. Meltonian permalink
    June 24, 2009 9:56 AM

    Which begs the question…

  35. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 10:04 AM

    One potato, two potato
    Now we go to score
    3 potato, four potato
    Ask the man for more
    5 potato, six potato
    Smoke a lot of crack
    7 potato, 8 potato
    Overdose on smack.

  36. June 24, 2009 10:27 AM

    MM correctly observed. Origin of the Species at 5, Animal Farm at 8, Tintin at 32, Where the Wild Things Are at 45, Little Foo Foo Rabbit at 52 – you get the picture.

    Mind you this from a man who offered up James Bond as a childhood favourite.

  37. June 24, 2009 11:12 AM

    The children stood at the foot of the stone steps that led to the throne room of Caer Parival. Lucy had removed her royal robe, for it was a warm summer’s day, and was intently reading a thick, well-thumbed book. Peter, the oldest and most confident, looked out across the glintingly, majestically beautiful spires and domes of the city. There was a look in his eye of certainty. He stared meaningfully. Edmund stood a few steps down, irritatedly scuffing his boots against the marble step. He muttered grumpily under his breath, though not loud enough for Peter to hear. For he was afraid of Peter.

    Then a sound came from the entrance to the throne room and Susan stepped out into the sunlight. Her brothers and sister turned expectantly at the sound. She frowningly approached.
    ‘Well, Susan?’ asked Lucy. “What did Aslan want? What did he say to you?” Lucy held her hands together hopefully beneath her chin.
    ‘Yes, come on, ‘sis, what’s the big secret,’ Peter asked, tryingly to make light of the mood that remained, persistingly. Edmund scowled from where he stood. Susan frowned again.
    ‘Gosh. Well, I’m not sure,” she confusedly said. ‘I went into the throne room and Aslan was standing there, behind a table. Mr Tumnus was with him and there was this frightfully big contraption, like Father’wireless, I suppose, but with a bigger dial. And then Aslan told me to sit down and started asking me questions. He called it a Stress Test.”
    “A what?” cried Lucy. Peter smiled enigmatically and looked away. Susan suddenly seemed close to tears.
    “A stress test,” she repeated, repeatingly. “He said that I have so many engrams that my status is Preclear. I haven’t the foggiest what that means but it sounds frightful.” Peter smiled.
    “Don’t worry, sis,” he said, although his voice was rather distant, “Tumnus is a splendid Auditor. Listen to him and he’ll have you remembering your Thetan past in no time. I do. It’s not your fault. It’s Xenu’s.”
    “Who on Earth is Xenu?” Susan wailed and began to cry. Peter stepped back.
    “I can see you’re upset, Susan,” he snapped, snappingly, “but could you irradiate someone else’s personal space with your reactive mind…”
    “It’s bunk,” Edmund suddenly shouted. “They whole lot of it is bunk.”
    “Oh do pipe down,” said Peter snarlingly, “Just because your personality is so antisocial you broke the E-Meter.”
    “I do wish I could be a Thetan like you, Peter,” Lucy trilled. Peter shrugged. “I bet you get all sorts of wonderful benefits.” Peter smiled.
    “Well,” said he, “I shouldn’t tell you this but it is such a marvellous privilege…” the two girls leaned in to hear him whisper, “Since I’m a Thetan now, next week, Aslan has allowed me to mend Kirstie Allie’s guttering.” Susan gasped. Lucy ran up the steps. Edmund smiled and skulked off for a secret meeting with the White Queen. She was the real clever one and was teaching him everything about Joseph Smith.

  38. Meltonian permalink
    June 24, 2009 11:56 AM

    Great stuff, ExitB, but watch your back. The Cruiser is now on your case.

    My infancy lasted until I was about 35, Al. I was an adult for about two hours in my mid-forties. Now I’m heading back to childhood.

  39. June 24, 2009 1:17 PM

    Thanks, Melt. To be honest, my entire long-term strategy here at PH is to bring the full wrath of Xenu down on Mishari’s head. Together we can do it.

  40. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 1:24 PM

    I’m quite prepared to stand up to Xenu’s hordes. Crushing half-wits is a an addictive pleasure, like pistachio nuts or crack…

    Yoo-hoo, Tom…coo-ee…over here…bring it on, Mr. Neon Teeth.

  41. Meltonian permalink
    June 24, 2009 5:23 PM

    Opus Dei has him in their sights as well, of course.

    Man Found Hung Under Millenium Bridge
    From Our Reporter
    Ann Accurate

    The body of well-known bloggeur and cyclist M. Al-Adwani was found suspended under a London bridge yesterday. Police are saying nothing about the circumstances surrounding the case. There have been reports that Mr Al-Adwani had been depressed by the unavailability of decent courgettes in the Whitechapel area, but this has not been confirmed. He has made a full recovery from his ordeal, and is currently looking for trousers with longer legs owing to limb-stretching.
    Police say they are looking for a faux-Irishman with a knob head and an exceptionally silly woman in connection with the case.

  42. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 7:20 PM

    I’ve just listened to a General Jack Keane (described by Jon Snow as ‘architect of the Iraq surge’) explain why things weren’t going so well in Afghanistan.

    The Iraqis, explained Gen. Keane, had a ‘high tolerance for combat related activities in urban areas. The Afghans have no tolerance for those activies at all’.

    In plain, tax-payers English, the Gen. is saying that the Iraqis didn’t mind having the shit bombed out of them by US forces. The Afghans, on the other hand, aren’t at all keen on it.

    And this clown was a senior General. Dear God….

  43. June 24, 2009 7:39 PM

    The discovery of Transformer robots in the shops meant that it was easy for Christopher Robin to forget his previous toys and “move on”.

    Discarded at the back of the cupboard Pooh and his friends were eventually given to various charity shops thus dispersing them forever.

    Impossible to sell even for a few pence they now reside in various landfill sites around the Saffron Walden area awaiting nature to act upon their little stuffed bodies – like it always does.

    The Transformer robots suffered the same fate as the next fad hove into view but being made of plastic they were resistant to decomposition and are likely to hang around for a long time.

  44. June 24, 2009 8:22 PM

    Untrue, Al. I still have all my Transformers.

  45. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 8:42 PM

    I’m watching The Book Quiz Poetry Special. The ignorance of the contestants is quite depressing.

    The questions and quotes have all been from or about very well-known work: Bunting’s What The Chairman Told Tom, Shelley’s The Mask of Anarchy, Southey’s After Blenheim–stuff like that and yet aside from Andrew Motion, the panellists spend most of their time looking baffled. And these are supposed to be the ‘literati’? Bah…

  46. June 24, 2009 8:44 PM

    Exit B I bet you’ve got a Pooh somewhere in the back of your cupboard ( interpret this how you wish! )

  47. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 8:47 PM

    I suspect XB is part of the post-Pooh generation. My own children make gagging noises at the mention of AA Milne’s saccharine creation. I’m proud of them. I always hated Pooh.

  48. June 24, 2009 9:07 PM

    I loved Winnie the Pooh – a better children’s book about having to leave things behind I cannot think of. Saccharine? Never.

  49. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 9:17 PM

    No, I just can’t see it. I loved the Narnia books, Tolkein, Richmal Crompton’s William, John Buchan, H. Rider Haggard, The Wind in the Willows, Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard. But Pooh, like Heidi and Noddy and most of Edward Lear’s nonsense poems left me cold, even as a small boy…

  50. June 24, 2009 10:07 PM

    Heidi?????? You had to read Heidi when you were young? My deepest sympathies although I never read it , it was a gurl’s book and I had 3 older brothers so it was unimaginable it would even be in our house.

    There are cliniics you know.

  51. Meltonian permalink
    June 24, 2009 10:12 PM

    Couldn’t bear the Pooh Bear. Noddy and Rupert Bear scared the crap out of me. Those Rupert stories are weird.

  52. June 24, 2009 10:14 PM

    MM In the Daily Mail too. If they weren’t initially the product of suburban opium smoking I’d be most surprised. I liked them too but the “poetry” was appalling, even back then I winced at it

  53. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 10:19 PM

    I was (and am) an omnivore, Al. Not only did I read Heidi but also Pippi Longstocking, Little Women, Anne of the Green Gables, Black Beauty and more besides. Some gurly books were better than others.

    Rupert was extremely weird, with his yellow-check trousers and his pals, the Pekinese and the badger. I never got him at all, although I enjoyed Oz magazine’s version, which had Rupert shagging Crumb’s Gypsy Grannie…

  54. June 24, 2009 10:27 PM

    Heidi? Rupert? Pooh? Bah! This is what with-it little Czech boys and girls were growing up on when the rest of us were slaves to Disneyoid pap (go right to 4:09; yes, that’s a wig-wearing rabbit’s dilating c___ )…

  55. June 24, 2009 10:34 PM

    Good lord. Was in Amsterdam last Xmas watching a Czech 3-D kids animation series with a friend’s child which was made by the guy who does a lot of Svankmajer’s clay animations. Superior stuff and by the same studio as the anatomically accurate cartoon rabbit.

  56. June 24, 2009 10:39 PM

    “… with a friend’s child which was made by the guy who does a lot of Svankmajer’s clay animations…”

    Nah; too obvious.

  57. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 10:41 PM

    Pooh would have had a fucking coronary at the sight of that rabbit birth. Here’s a cracker–a rabbit goes super-nova:

  58. June 24, 2009 10:42 PM

    I have the copies of AA Milne that my grandmother owned when she was little. They have her scribbles in them. I grew up with those stories (the heffalump had me in fits). Also Wind in the Willows, Moomins (that’s some dark stuff), Beatrix Potter, a 1910 Struwelpeter… Taking other factors into consideration, I basically grew up between the wars.

  59. Meltonian permalink
    June 24, 2009 10:44 PM

    I’d forgotten about the Rupert ‘poetry’. I was thinking about those bizarrely clothed animals wandering around the Home Counties. The Express was the paper of choice chez Mowbray, so I read Jeff Hawke, James Bond, Flook and The Gambols (the last two with zero comprehension). I loved Fishing With Mr Crabtree, but I think that came in a book.

  60. June 24, 2009 10:52 PM

    ExitB bookies are taking odds on how old you actually are. I’m torn between 93 and 35. Any hints for the gambling community?

    MM perhaps our host can be persuaded to write a “Fishing with Mr.Al Adwani” strip. I’ll do the drawings if necessary. I should add that I don’t “do” strict realism.

    SA – not obvious enough to start with but when a shoe emerged from the child’s mouth I got the joke.

  61. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 10:55 PM

    I just couldn’t resist posting these brilliant Polish animations from the 60’s:

    …fishing with Mr.A? I actually do fish. I’ll give it some thought.

    Hmmm…I wonder why those youtube links haven’t embedded? Oh, well. Check them out. They really are rather wonderful.

  62. June 24, 2009 11:03 PM


    My first thought: great! A new cartoon for my 3-year-old…


    Struwwelpeter… the original Tim Burton. Let’s see: one kid spontaneously combusts, another has his thumb chopped off, another pays the awful price for daring to use an umbrella: a German classic. Nicely racist, too, thanks.

    Ahem (it reads a little nicer in English):

    *The Story of the Inky Boys*

    As he had often done before,
    The woolly-headed Black-a-moor
    One nice fine summer’s day went out
    To see the shops, and walk about;
    And, as he found it hot, poor fellow,
    He took with him his green umbrella,
    Then Edward, little noisy wag,
    Ran out and laughed, and waved his flag;
    And William came in jacket trim,
    And brought his wooden hoop with him;
    And Arthur, too, snatched up his toys
    And joined the other naughty boys.
    So, one and all set up a roar,
    And laughed and hooted more and more,
    And kept on singing,—only think!—
    “Oh, Blacky, you’re as black as ink!”

    Now tall Agrippa lived close by—
    So tall, he almost touched the sky;
    He had a mighty inkstand, too,
    In which a great goose-feather grew;
    He called out in an angry tone
    “Boys, leave the Black-a-moor alone!
    For, if he tries with all his might,
    He cannot change from black to white.”
    But, ah! they did not mind a bit
    What great Agrippa said of it;
    But went on laughing, as before,
    And hooting at the Black-a-moor.

    Then great Agrippa foams with rage—
    Look at him on this very page!
    He seizes Arthur, seizes Ned,
    Takes William by his little head;
    And they may scream and kick and call,
    Into the ink he dips them all;
    Into the inkstand, one, two, three,
    Till they are black as black can be;
    Turn over now, and you shall see.
    See, there they are, and there they run!
    The Black-a-moor enjoys the fun.
    They have been made as black as crows,
    Quite black all over, eyes and nose,
    And legs, and arms, and heads, and toes,
    And trousers, pinafores, and toys—
    The silly little inky boys!
    Because they set up such a roar,
    And teased the harmless Black-a-moor.

  63. Meltonian permalink
    June 24, 2009 11:09 PM

    Fishing… now that is a subject for the true obsessive. The amount of time and money I spent on catching a few lousy trout is beyond belief. That was river fishing, of course. Sea fishing is just too easy. Drop a hook with a tasty ragworm on it in the water round here and the fish are fighting to get caught.

  64. mishari permalink*
    June 24, 2009 11:16 PM

    Ah, MM…fishing a good trout stream in the Pyrenees is a glorious way of wasting time. Shock-Headed Peter…that brings back some memories. In the mean time, let Mel Brooks take you back to a time that taste forgot:

  65. June 25, 2009 8:41 AM

    I caught a fish once. It was in 1943 when, of course, all fish were sequestered by the War Office. So I wrapped it in brown paper and popped it into the pneumatic tube built for the purpose; there was one at every riverbank. I later read in the new-realating-paper that Sir Stafford Cripps, then Lord Privy Seal, had breakfasted on stickleback before departing for India. In times of distress I have often comforted myself that it was my catch he ate.


    Hint: My age doesn’t fall between 35 and 93. My first is in kettle but never in henge etc…


    Struwelpeter, for an adult, is quite terrifying. I seem to remember accepting it without much question, along with all the talking animals, hobbits, the Giles Grandma, Jan Pienkowski etc. There was a fantastic stage show of some of the stories a few years back. Al, maybe you saw it?

  66. June 25, 2009 8:42 AM

    SA .Tintin in the Congo was another casually racist classic. It was withdrawn but apparently continuing sales of old stock in Zaire caused it to be re-printed to cash in. Now either there’s a huge population of white supremacists in Zaire or there’s some serious post-modern hall of mirrors stuff going on there.

  67. June 25, 2009 8:48 AM

    ExitB Ah yes Shock-headed Peter – I know the designer Julian Crouch from way back. Nice theatre but the Tiger Lilies music ( relentless falsetto ) set my teeth on edge. They did do a re-run with the bloke from Pere Ubu ( David Thomas?) doing music but it didn’t work out for some reason.

  68. mishari permalink*
    June 25, 2009 9:14 AM

    It’s funny, as XB says, how unshocked children are by Struwwelpeter. Looking at it now, I find it quite disturbing. Mind you, I read The Grimm Brothers as an adult, not the Bowlderised version I’d read as a child and they were infinitely darker than the popular idea of ‘fairy tales’. Actually, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, which I read to my children years ago, was a horrible story.

    Ah, Tin-Tin the alleged ‘boy reporter’. With his very peculiar ‘friends’. Who lives alone with his special ‘friend’, an alcoholic sea captain. There was something very fishy going on there…

  69. June 25, 2009 9:59 AM

    I remember parents in Manchester trying to get Dahl’s The Witches banned from Manchester libraries. Dahl seems to be loved by kids and loathed by adults.

    It’s the same with Punch & Judy puppet shows. Too often they are done by retired school-teachers or worn-out cynical performers and are crap but when done properly they are a real release valve for kids, offering a dissenting view of authority.

  70. mishari permalink*
    June 25, 2009 10:29 AM

    I love a good Punch & Judy show. Done properly, they’re deeply subversive and an incitement to anarchy. Sadly, as you say, they tend to be put on by people who don’t get it at all…but done right? Ay, caramba…an absolute joy.

    I think I’m right in saying that Punch descends, at least in part, from Punchinello, a popular character in the Commedia dell’arte. He was another incarnation of the ‘trickster’, wild man character who appears in almost all mythologies, from Enkidu in Gilgamesh to Loki in Norse mythology to Mr. Punch–wife-beater and killer, cop-killer, thief and liar. Pooh Bear, he ain’t.

    Another Lord of Chaos and Misrule. Hurrah!

  71. mishari permalink*
    June 25, 2009 10:38 AM

    Actually, wiki tells me that:

    In 1828, the critic John Payne Collier published a Punch and Judy script under the title The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy. The script was illustrated by the well-known caricaturist George Cruikshank.

    Collier said his script was based on the version performed by the “professor” Giovanni Piccini in the early 19th century, and Piccini himself had begun performing in the streets of London in the late 18th century.

    The Collier/Cruickshank Punch has been republished in facsimile several times and is now available on the web in PDF form (HERE). Collier’s later career as a literary forger has cast some doubt on the authenticity of the script, which is rather literary in style and may well have been tidied up from the rough-and-tumble street-theatre original.

    Punch is primarily an oral tradition, adapted by a succession of exponents from live performances rather than authentic scripts, and in constant evolution. A transcript of a typical Punch and Judy show in London of the 1840s can be found in Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor.–wiki

    I just downloaded it but haven’t looked at it yet. I’ve always admired Cruikshank, though, who along with Gillray and Rowlandson drew some of the most savage cartoons ever put to paper.

  72. Meltonian permalink
    June 25, 2009 10:38 AM

    The Tracks of the Tough

    After machining the 47,000 sprocket pins for the rush job overnight, Alf Tupper grabbed his dilapidated spikes and hitched a lift on a coal lorry to the athletics meeting. Luckily there was a cold fish supper in the pocket of his jacket, so he scoffed it while bouncing around on the piles of anthracite in the back of the lorry.
    At the venue Alf jumped off the lorry and gave a cheery thumbs-up to the driver. Crowds of Coxford University students stood languidly around, polishing their monocles and haw-hawing.
    ‘I say, Hugo, who is that filthy oik?’
    ‘What in God’s name is he wearing? Coal deliveries at the back, my good man.’
    Alf shouldered his way roughly through the mob. ‘I’m in the race’, he said.
    ‘Not the human race, surely?’
    ‘Oh, that’s jolly good, Sebastian. Haw-haw.’
    Alf threw off his jacket and lined up with the other runners, mostly students in bright clean singlets and brand new spikes. The gun went and they were off.
    Three minutes and fifty-seven seconds later Alf broke the tape. It was a new world record! Alf retrieved his jacket from the rubbish bin where one of the gilded youths had tossed it and marched to the podium. Some stuffed shirts from the athletics club waited as he climbed the steps. The chairman looked at him frostily.
    ‘Here is your trophy, Tupper. I am obliged to say well done.’
    ‘Ta’, said Alf, reaching for the silver cup, his jacket sleeve riding up as he did so.
    ‘Wait a minute’, said the chairman ‘What are those marks on your forearm?’
    ‘Marks? Oh, that’s where me Aunt Meg gives me me medicine.’
    ‘Yes, some stuff she gets from some old Jerry chemist who lives down our street. She gives us a jab every morning.’
    ‘Well, I’m sorry, Tupper, under these circumstances I can’t give you the trophy. Drug-taking is strictly forbidden by the AAA.’
    ‘Drugs! It’s just a pick-me-up. Aunt Meg said so!’
    ‘I don’t care, Tupper. You are disqualified. The trophy goes to the next placed runner, Tarquin Ormsby-Jones.’
    A lissom young man bounded on to the dais.
    ‘Gosh, thanks, Pater!’
    The crowd cheered while Alf goggled speechlessly at the scene. At last he found his voice.
    ‘But I ran ‘em!’

  73. June 25, 2009 10:38 AM

    Leave Pooh out of this or we’ll have to stand behind some stripey material and beat each other with sticks. I’ll bring the swozzles.

    We were at Segovia Puppet festival last year – my favourite image was of Rod Burnett ( a great performer of Punch ) after the show with 2 little Spanish girls kissing and hugging the Mr. Punch puppet. 10 minutes earlier the same puppet had been feeding a baby into a sausage-making machine with some attendant graphic images.

  74. Meltonian permalink
    June 25, 2009 10:50 AM

    There was a script for Punch and Judy when I did it. In my last year at school you could get out of the cadet force if you agreed to do ‘community service’, ie drinking tea with oldsters while they blathered about ‘them blacks’ or ‘teaching’ vile little kids. The only decent activity was going round village fetes doing P&J. I still use one of the phrases on occasion: ‘speak of the devil and he pops up his horns’. Very useful.

  75. mishari permalink*
    June 25, 2009 10:56 AM

    Ginger could barely contain his exitement. The new guns for the old kite had arrived. “Let’s see Fritz laugh this one off,” he said aloud and chuckled. But where was Biggles?

    Just on the off-chance, he decided to check the old supply shed. He slipped in quietly then stood stock still. There was a strange glow coming from a far corner and he could hear Biggles talking but…good grief…it wasn’t possible…was that German? He moved towards the sound. Biggles would explain.

    He found his chum crouched over what looked like a radio apparatus.

    “I say, Biggles….,”. He got no further. His friend turned on him and snarled “That’s Baron Strabismus von Hochgeborren-Donnerweter und Biggleschmidt to you, Englischer schweinhund…” and so saying, drew a Walther-PPK from inside his tunic and shot Ginger in the face.

    from Biggles and The Ubermensch by Capt. W.E. Johns

  76. June 25, 2009 11:00 AM

    MM Is the inference here that doing cadet service was not “Community service”?

    I grew up near Frome and on Friday nights the squaddies from the barracks near Warminster used to literally hit town. Extreme bar-room brawls were a regular entertainment for some. I’m imagining the cadet force you were keen to avoid was a similar rite of passage but I’m also amused that the fact it had no real value was officially emphasised by the alternative community service option.

  77. Meltonian permalink
    June 25, 2009 11:23 AM

    Scouts or cadets was the option from age 12, Al. There were no other options. The shooting angle and camps where ultraviolent ‘horseplay’ took place seemed attractive at 12: less so at 17. The opportunity to take the piss out of the various ex-regular soldiers the school employed was quite fun. The image of the squat prehensile Glaswegian RSM foaming at the mouth after being tormented by a group of 15 year old knowalls still brings a smile to the lips.

  78. mishari permalink*
    June 25, 2009 11:27 AM

    I see the Grauniad’s risible obsession with Twitter continues apace. How aptly named it is. Twitter is what small, essentially brainless birds do–you know, the ones who’ve no talent for song.

  79. June 25, 2009 11:49 AM

    Presumably the idea is wear everyone down until they believe it’s not something else to drain the money out their wallets but instead offers exciting new artistic possibilities. I’m all for exploiting technology but when the offer comes from the makers rather than from below the decks I’m instantly wary. Someone will do something interesting with it but they won’t be from the Guardian.

  80. June 25, 2009 12:02 PM

    Mish, surprised to see you ingored a chance to comment on the Plath/Hughes come dancing pairing. Two of the greatest poets of the 20th century? Only if you have a list of 2000 greats.

  81. Pollyanna permalink
    June 25, 2009 1:22 PM

    Seeing as I’m in Mytholmroyd/Hebden Bridge pretty much five days a week it’s exactly the sort of post I should be reading and commenting on… I’ll try to catch it later. I find that the landscape in the Calder valley screams Wuthering Heights to me more than anything else, but then I live on the Shady side.

  82. mishari permalink*
    June 25, 2009 2:08 PM

    I have now, Bill…only to tweak Ben Myer’s nose. At least he’s lost the silly hat.

  83. June 25, 2009 4:34 PM

    Got some way through the Grimms last year, for gothicky inspiration. A new Vintage edition. Need to read more.

    Haven’t seen a Punch & Judy for years, but as has been said, looking back, the sight of a red-faced hunchback smashing a baby’s head against the ground should have elicited a response other than delighted laughter. Bet the Bash Street Kids don’t get whacked with that six-bottom-long cane anymore. Bah!


    This is a genuine question. I’ve always been open regarding my ignorance of poetry and poetry critical theory. But one of the only books of poetry that I’ve read more than once and get a lot from is Ted Hughes’s Tales From Ovid. What’s the argument against him?


    The chap who made Shock Headed Peter (forget the company’s name) was taught by the father of a friend of mine, whom he credits as being a major inspiration. I know him quite well (the father) and apparently he was a great, anarchic and innovative drama teacher.

  84. June 25, 2009 5:26 PM

    EXitB who is the father? It’s not Keith Johnstone is it?

    The company is Improbable Theatre and you’re either talking Julian Crouch, Phelim McDermott or Lee Simpson ( the latter 2 seen often with Paul Merton in the Comedy Store players )

  85. freep permalink
    June 25, 2009 5:37 PM

    Mrs Tiggy-Winkle looked out of the window at the dark clouds. ‘Oh my,’ she muttered, ‘it’s coming on to rain!’. No sooner had she scuttered through to the scullery than a great noise of heavy rain drops brought her out in a squeal. She rushed to the front door and unpicked the sheets and the shirts from the thornbushes in the garden; they were already wet through.’Oh pies and parsley,’ she muttered to herself. She took one bundle after another into the kitchen, and by the time she made her last trip she was panting and quite steamy.

    Just as she was about to close the door for the last time, she saw a huddled figure in the garden bower. She wrinkled up her nose. ‘That’s you, Mr Jackson, isn’t it?’ she called. Mr Jackson the toad grinned from the greenery, a grin that seemed to go right round the back of his head. ‘Tiddly-widdly, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, tiddly-widdly-widdly!’
    ‘Now Mr Jackson, you’re wet from top to bottom! Come right in here out of the rain!’ The toad obeyed and presented himself in the porch. ‘Tiddly-widdly, Mrs Winkle, nothing better than a little summer rain!’
    ‘Nonsense, Mr Jackson,’ said the little hedgehog, ‘you must come in at once and get dry!’ She pushed him into the parlour. Oof! He smelt badly of drains and fenny places, but she would look after him; he was a well-made toad and a neighbour.
    Mrs Tiggy-Winkle looked at his long feet with a frown. ‘You stand and drip on that mat,’ she ordered. ‘And now get all those wet clothes off.’ And off they came: chemise, weskit, breeches, cravat, and some rather stretchy undergarments. ‘Now then, Mr wet jackson, you go and make yourself comfortable in front of the range while I get these muddy clothes clean and dry.’ She looked at his toad’s torso, knobbly on top, smooth as satin underneath. He was a well made toad indeed. ‘Tiddly-widdly, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, tiddly widdly-widdly,’ he went on, and Mr Jackson trembled as he said it, still grinning wildly. She couldn’t tell whether he shook from the cold and wet, or if it was just the silly way he laughed; but it was a good manly tremble.

    ‘Now, Mr Jackson, sit yourself down by the fire and pile a bit more peat on. And fill yourself a pipe of rabbit-tobacco. And I think there’s something good on Sky 911. There’s usually some little newts on about this time.’ And she squeezed out into the passage with the pile of washing. Soon she popped back in with a big warm glass of bilberry liqueur. Mr Jackson was already comfortable. He was leaning right back in the easy chair, nearly horizontal, puffing away in a cloud of rabbit-tobacco. ‘Tiddly-widdly-widdly, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle,’he chortled. On the screen, a pair of unclothed newts were practising a little affectionate dance. They did look rather young to be on public display, thought Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. But Mr Jackson looked more than happy. So off she went to work away at the poss-tub, rolling her little sleeves up.

    Half an hour later, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle was done, and poured herself a large dandelion toddy. She took off her pinny, loosened her gussets and unbuttoned her kirtle a little. She waddled into the parlour. Mr Jackson was snoring loudly. The newts had given way to a very expressive slow-worm, who was moving up and down with a steady rhythm on a couch of rabbit-fur, while a reedy pipe played a slow, gratifying melody. Mrs Tiggy-Winkle was transfixed, and drank more of her toddy. She turned to look at the sleeping toad. He was more relaxed than anyone she had ever seen; except in one part, where he seemed more manly and swollen than she had thought possible. More toddy. And her kirtle fell to the ground. Moments like this were not to be lost, and she deftly wound some dried stoats’ tails around Mr Jackson’s ankles and wrists, just to keep him steady in case he awoke.

    Then, grinning as widely as any toad, she climbed up and took her reward for the washing. And when she couldn’t keep herself quiet any longer, Mr Jackson woke up, felt the prickles and a new source of dampness, and shouted out ‘Tiddly-widdly-widdly-widdly-widdly!’

  86. Meltonian permalink
    June 25, 2009 8:03 PM

    Some tasty bestiality from freep there. Of a considerably lower literary standard, here’s my:

    Roy Race Gets A Couple.

    Melchester Rovers had beaten Inter Roma 5-0, and Roy Race had scored his habitual hat-trick. As usual his manner was modest at the press conference, and he gave all the credit to his team-mates.
    ‘Yeah, I thort the boys done great tonight, I really do, yeah?’ He ran a tanned hand through his expensive haircut, and adjusted his slub silk Versace shirt. ‘We was on our game from the start tonight, yeah, our movement was good, we was closing them down, they had nowhere to go, yeah?’
    When the journos had their quotes Roy got up and went into the hospitality room where his wife Alberta was waiting. The skin on her face, already tight, was threatening to burst.
    ‘What was that about?’ she demanded.
    ‘You what?’
    ‘You heard. You went on and on and on about the stupid game, yeah, blah blah blah, and you never mentioned me once.’
    ‘Oh, sorry, babes, but it was all sposed to be about the game, yeah?’
    ‘Yeah, all about the game, yeah? All about you, that’s what you mean. What about my new fragrance? What about my new record?’
    ‘I’m really sorry, babes, yeah?’
    ‘It’s a missed marketing opportunity, thass what it is, yeah?’
    ‘Sorry babes.’
    As Alberta tottered off, Roy thought longingly of his children’s nanny, a quiet, submissive girl he had grown to like.

    Next day Roy Race was on the phone to his agent.
    ‘I want her gone, Barry, I’ve had enough, yeah?’
    ‘It’s gunner cost yer.’
    ‘I don’t care. I just want her out of my face.’
    ‘All right. I’ll deal wiv it.’

    Roy relaxed with a Diet Coke served in a solid gold medieval chalice by his manservant Taylor. It had cost him several million, but Alberta was in the past. With a smile he heard his now ex-nanny singing quietly in the bath. After a few minutes he went in and sat on the side of the tub.
    ‘You’ve got a nice voice, babes,’ he said.
    ‘Do you think? You know, I was wondering….. no, it’s silly.’
    ‘What is it?’
    ‘I was wondering… if you could arrange for me to have a recording session. Just for a laugh…’
    Later that night Roy went out to the car and got on the phone.
    ‘Barry, you’ve got a problem…’

  87. June 25, 2009 11:34 PM

    Well, old Jacko’s finally bitten it, M. Surely a fancy verse epitaph is in order…?

  88. Captain Ned permalink
    June 25, 2009 11:52 PM

    This is for you, Melton…

  89. Captain Ned permalink
    June 25, 2009 11:54 PM

    As for Jacko, if true, that’ll push Charlie’s Angel from the front pages. Here’s something suitably sombre:

  90. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 1:24 AM

    Poor man. I prefer to forget the freak-show his life became and remember the sweet-faced kid who delighted me with stuff like this:

  91. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 1:25 AM

    …caustic and unfeeling verse to follow, natch.

  92. June 26, 2009 2:23 AM

    “Poor man. I prefer to forget the freak-show his life became and remember the sweet-faced kid who delighted me with stuff like this…”

    I’m going to break with tradition and admit to being moved by the terrible truth of that comment, M. The Elephant in the Room is glaringly unremarked-upon in all the reports/tributes/hasty obituaries.

  93. June 26, 2009 2:25 AM

    But… erm… who the fuck are those people in the video’s thumbnail?

  94. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 2:39 AM

    Search me, man. I’ll tell you what, though. I’m already sick to fucking death of the wall-to-wall coverage. I keep flicking between CNN, BBC, Sky, etc and it’s non-stop. I’ve just listened to that charlatan par excellence Urine Jello explaining that Jacko’s death is ‘surreal’. Huh?

    Oh, shit…some twit who’s the head of the UK MJ Fan Club just said the same thing: ‘it’s surreal’. It’s becoming a meme. Arrrggghhhh…

  95. June 26, 2009 8:19 AM


    Think it’s Lee Simpson. The Teacher’s name is Bob Hewitt.

    @Ned & Mishari,

    Road to Oxiana and Under the Glacier arrived yesterday. Looking forward to both.

  96. June 26, 2009 8:29 AM

    It was truly depressing to see the irrepressable singer of the Jackson 5 and “Off the Wall” morph into the latterday weirdo. Even though we later discovered that the early years were as weird as the later ones.

    I read somewhere ( so it must be true ) that in the later days of the J5 they all still shared a room when on tour and that his brothers used to sneak girls back to the room. So the sounds of sex going on in the same room was a normal experience for him. All said by way of explaining his rather disturbing attitudes to sharing beds with young boys in his ranch. A mix of innocence and depravity.

    It certainly put me off becoming famous, that and no discernable musical talent or ability to dance that is.

    Now I suppose we’ll have to tune in to traffic news so as to know where to avoid the inevitable floral tribute mountains that will bring city centres to a stand-still.

  97. June 26, 2009 8:52 AM

    “no discernable musical talent or ability to dance”

    The thing is, you see, Al, the lad did have a bit of it, from the age of, oh, about six–the source of all his troubles, certainly.

  98. Meltonian permalink
    June 26, 2009 9:12 AM

    I wonder if some parts of him are still alive?

  99. June 26, 2009 9:16 AM

    I suppose that would depend on what you mean by “parts”… mechanical?

  100. June 26, 2009 9:38 AM

    btp The lack of ability remark was about me. Pur-leeze!

  101. Pollyanna permalink
    June 26, 2009 9:43 AM

    I caught the news last night when it was at the stage that he was in a coma and one news provider was reporting him dead. I guess we’ll never know if he’s really dead, but I’d like to go with the majority. I was rather interested in finding out more of what had happened, but I was put off the coverage by the fact that they wheeled in people to “tell us more” who basically didn’t know anything more at all and were just there to say the same thing about how horrifying it was.

    I thought he was an amazing singer and he’s done a lot of great music, I grew up on hits like Thriller and I will always remember him that way, like Mish says. I think I’ve pretty much blanked out any sight I’ve seen of him recently and I still remember him when he was only on his second nose I think.

    I have never known whether to believe the rumours about little boys or not, but I do think there is some truth in the theory that he was stuck in his childhood and that these things were fairly innocent, or at least based in innocence, translated into adult life.

  102. June 26, 2009 9:50 AM

    “btp The lack of ability remark was about me. Pur-leeze!”


    Don’t hear me wrong, I understood you and share your ability quotient in these areas.

    What I meant was that the infant had gifts of an Orphic character, and in some versions of the folklore, the personal fate these gifts ultimately brought upon Orpheus were not kind.

    Anybody can be creepy but few have genius, how would we know what it’s like.

  103. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 9:54 AM

    The irony of Jacko singing “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white” while busily attempting to become white himself is almost too bitter.

    The poor fellow obviously had ‘issues’. I always felt rather sorry for him. He was certainly ‘odd’ but I never gave much credence to the ‘paedophile’ accusations. He always struck me as asexual. One notes that the family of the boy who made the accusations settled out of court for $20 million. Doubtless that helped slake their thirst for ‘justice’.

    Al, don’t try to tell me you can’t ‘moonwalk’. I refuse to believe it.

  104. June 26, 2009 10:03 AM

    Speaking of moonwalk, you have not yet remarked upon MJ’s notorious fondness for stuffed bears.

  105. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 10:05 AM

    Thanks for reminding me of Ned’s recommendation, XB. I just ordered Under The Glacier. Here’s a review of the book:

    If there were any justice in the literary world — and of course there isn’t — this amazing little volume would inspire a cult following. In her introduction (by coincidence, her final published work) Susan Sontag observes that it’s every kind of novel at once: science fiction, allegory, philosophical novel, dream novel, erotic novel, etc. But none of that sounds very funny, and “Under the Glacier” is hilarious, in a deadpan, northern-edge-of-the-world sort of way. If Flann O’Brien and Nabokov were laconic Icelandic fishermen, equally dedicated to pulling one another’s legs and debating the nature of God — and then if their brooding cousin Dostoevski came to visit — this would be the halibut-stained manuscript they’d produce.

    The only book I’ve ever read that strikes me as similar is Stanislaw Lem’s science fiction masterpiece “Solaris,” the basis for the Andrei Tarkovsky film. Like Lem’s book, “Under the Glacier” is both a modern novel and a luminous tale of timeless mythic profundity. Its author, the Icelandic Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, wrote many other novels in his long career, including “The Fish Can Sing,” “Iceland’s Bell” and “Independent People”; he died in 1998 at age 95.

    “Under the Glacier” is set in the remote rural west of Laxness’ treeless island nation, where certain women can raise the dead — and indeed are known to arise naked from their biers after their own deaths, to bake bread for the pallbearers — and people are sometimes turned into great salmon. It’s also the story of an Australian millionaire who has built an intrusive McMansion right behind the crumbling Lutheran church, and whose acolytes include a trio of unwashed Hatha Yoga practitioners from Ojai, Calif.

    The entire text of the novel purports to be the report of an unnamed young theology student commissioned by the bishop of Iceland to investigate the strange goings-on around Snaefellsjökull, the glaciated mountain at Iceland’s far western tip. (If that sounds slightly familiar, it’s meant to: It’s the extinct volcano through which the explorer Dr. Otto Lidenbrock descends in Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”) The bishop is concerned with the question of “Christianity at Glacier,” which is in fact the novel’s title in Icelandic: Why has the local pastor boarded up the church, refused his salary and become a blacksmith and handyman? Where is his long-missing wife? What about the reports of an illegal funeral in which a casket was carried up onto the glacier?

    –Andrew O’ Hehir,

    …sounds irresistable.

  106. June 26, 2009 10:27 AM

    Mish My moonwalk has been compared to a deep sea diver wrestling with a giant squid. Whether this was complementary or not I am unable to divine.

    btp sorry for my inability to read. Have spent the last week or so being attacked on-line so am obviously still not over it. Will probably moonwalk later this morning to realign myself.

  107. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 10:36 AM

    Don’t rest on your laurels just yet, Al. I understand Mowbray has perfected the ‘earthwalk’. This outstanding achievement is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that 6 billion homo sapiens beat him to it….but props to MM for persevering.

    • Meltonian permalink
      June 26, 2009 10:58 PM

      If I only had one leg, no problem. As I have two… it’s a work in progress.

  108. June 26, 2009 11:13 AM

    There’s an earthwalk?????? Ye Gods. Sits back and oils the spokes of his bathchair which he has no real need for.

  109. June 26, 2009 2:12 PM

    “The irony of Jacko singing “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white” while busily attempting to become white himself is almost too bitter.”

    I always admired the surreality of his couplet (from Bad) “And the whole world knows/ I’m black and I’m proud”.

    Even “better” are the fans (some of whom I suddenly find myself tangling with on *academic* blogs, I’ll have you know) who claim Jackoo suffered from vitiligo, and that he got the nose job because it had been broken! I’ve written some ridiculously mendacious press-releases in my time (Pop, like Politics, is *predicated* on Lies), but none so bold as that.

  110. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 2:39 PM

    Don’t put your young son on the stage, Mrs. Jackson, no,
    Don’t put your young son on the stage;
    Though the boys over at Motown
    Waved a lot of dollar bills
    And hoped that he would stay brown
    And not OD on pills
    Or act like he was Peter fucking Pan
    Or hang with Urine Geller, there’s a man
    Who never saw it coming
    (so much for psychic power)
    Mrs. Jackson, just start running,
    No ifs or buts,
    Mrs. Jackson
    That boy’s nuts,
    Mrs. Jackson,
    Don’t put your young son on the stage.

    –to the tune of Noel Coward’s Don’t Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs. Worthington

  111. June 26, 2009 3:15 PM

    The fans. What a terrifying bunch. I often wonder if that level of blind devotion is a modern fame/celebrity phenomena but of course it isn’t . It just attached itself to religious figures back in the day or the sort of person who’d have you killed if you didn’t swear blind allegiance.

    There are some classic photos of people who really should know better ( i.e they are not teenagers or younger ) sitting on the pavement utterly crestfallen at this news. How will they react when someone they really know dies?

  112. June 26, 2009 4:08 PM

    My favorite comment-flame of all time? Possibly:

    “You clearly know nothing about vitiligo, judging from your question about whether it caused the bridge of his nose to narrow. Of course not, vitiligo affects pigmentation.”

    The Moonwalking Elephant in the Room

  113. June 26, 2009 4:10 PM

    “I sometimes wonder if the extinction of the human race wouldn’t be for the best, all things considered…”

    Surely this is a fait accompli…?

  114. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 4:23 PM

    I would have thought that the point that Jacko was a victim of a racist aesthetic and intellectual landscape was so glaringly obvious as to be hardly worth making.

    Jacko bought the same line of bullshit that ordinary Ghanaians and Nigerians who buy ‘skin-lightening cream’ buy into. He just had the money to take it to another level and the apologists eager to pretend it wasn’t what it so blatantly was.

    However, I see from the thread you link to Steven, that clearly, this still needs to be explained to some people…

  115. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 3:25 PM

    The eye-watering witlessness of the blather I listened to on various news channels last night would have made a cretin weep, stuff like:
    “will this be bigger than Diana?…where do the fans go from here?…will there ever be another Michael Jackson?”

    The Grauniad is as bad as the rest. Hadley Freeman’s article should ensure that her place in the Moron’s Hall of Fame is secure…

    I sometimes wonder if the extinction of the human race wouldn’t be for the best, all things considered…

    This is for freep. Never mind fetching sticks. That’s what I call a well-trained dog…

  116. June 26, 2009 4:56 PM

    Steven A strange level of denial going on there. I detect in part that middle class American politeness to strangers/ don’t rock the boat stance ( the lot on CiF over here are going at each other like the clappers ), odd in itself given the country’s propensity to bomb others, provide a breeding ground for serial killers and swamp the globe with their culture.

  117. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 5:10 PM

    Funny thing is, Al, even a so-called ‘black radical’ is ignoring the obvious:

    The Reverend Al Sharpton, a leading US civil rights campaigner and friend of Jackson for 35 years, said the star was a “trailblazer” and a “historic figure”.

    “Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of colour way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama…–The Grauniad

    I also can’t help noting that aside from Oprah, the people Sharpton name-checks are very light-skinned, in fact, half-white and Oprah herself with her straightened hair is no Sonny Liston…

  118. June 26, 2009 5:31 PM

    There are clearly two planets happening here; one is logic-based, the other prevalent.

    Why not weigh in on that thread where knuckle-dragging “Liberals” are hurling shit-dipped spears at me for seeing race everywhere? I’m lonely for mammalian company over there.

    Come on, it’ll be fun!

  119. June 26, 2009 5:42 PM

    Speaking of which, I’ve wasted my “I wonder how many centuries in the future the Afro will come back in fashion?” quip on more than one thread discussing the latest Star Trek epic: nary a STFU in response.

  120. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 5:54 PM

    The fact that lighter skin=higher status is openly acknowledged in many countries. India is a prime example.

    A quick scan through the matrimonial ads at the back of The Times of India reveals a majority of would-be grooms and brides are seeking partners who are ‘wheat-coloured’, i.e. much lighter-skinned than the majority of Indians.

    In India, the fact of skin colour having a major impact on status, job prospects etc. is openly acknowledged. The same system operates in the US but it’s a dirty little secret (sic)…

  121. June 26, 2009 5:55 PM

    Can I quote you on that, M?

  122. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 5:59 PM

    Feel free, you sarcastic bastard…

  123. June 26, 2009 6:00 PM

    No: quite serious! I mean on that thread, you know.

  124. June 26, 2009 6:01 PM

    Be even better if you dropped in yourself, of course…

  125. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 6:04 PM

    Of course. I thought it was common knowledge. The big business of skin lightening/hair-nose straightening (and it is big business) is premised on this very basic idea–white=better. Makes me want to spit (although I personally believe olive-skinned is better, aesthetically speaking)…

  126. June 26, 2009 6:12 PM

    It amazes me that Abbas Raza, the chief editor on 3QD, and the guy who posted the intial MJ eulogy the thread flows from, doesn’t admit the connection…

  127. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 6:20 PM

    Puzzling. Surely, anyone with a working knowledge of American popular culture must see that for most of the 20th century, the only black Americans who ‘crossed over’ and were big with white audiences were very light-skinned. Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, Andrew Young, Arthur Ashe, etc. etc.

    These people are in some kind of weird ‘denial’, to use the fashionable cant…

  128. June 26, 2009 6:23 PM

    Christ, M… please do post over there!

  129. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 6:30 PM

    Nah…thanks for the invite but going looking for knuckleheads to engage with doesn’t strike me as a sensible use of my time. I doubt anything anyone says will persuade them to see sense. There are none so blind, etc. etc…

  130. Captain Ned permalink
    June 26, 2009 6:31 PM

    I haven’t even looked at The Guardian since I saw the news, nor at any paper or TV channel. Is it worse than when Diana died?

    ‘Under the Glacier’ is a book I cannot recommend highly enough. On a whim, I decided to take a little sample of 20thC Scandinavian literature, and so picked a book each from Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Norway. Laxness was easily the best of the bunch, though Tarjei Vesaas’ ‘The Birds’ (Norway) is also extremely impressive, though I’m not quite sure what I think of the ending. Martin Hansen’s ‘The Liar’ (Denmark) is somewhat irritating to begin with, and I did contemplate abandoning it after the first two chapters, but I’m glad I perservered, because it’s rather beguiling once you get into it. I would also recommend Per Olov Enquist’s ‘Downfall’ (Sweden), if only because it’s so jaw-droppingly awful that it’s an excellent lesson in how not to write – to such an extent that its problems can’t be ones of mere translation difficulties. It would be unbearable if it weren’t so short.

  131. Meltonian permalink
    June 26, 2009 6:32 PM

    Can you do the illustrations for this, Al?

    Rupert, Algy and Bill one day,
    All went down to the fields to play.

    As they ran and gambolled about,
    The Squire came by and gave a shout.

    ‘Gosh, how funny that we should meet,
    Would any of you like a sweet?’

    About the Squire they clustered round,
    Eating chocolates by the pound.

    He suggests sitting on the grass
    And then he squeezes Rupert’s arse.

    ‘What’s your fucking game?’ says Rupert,
    ‘What are you, some kind of pervert?’

    ‘I’m sorry, that was very wrong,’
    Said the Squire, ‘Now I must get along.’

    ‘Not so fast’, said Rupert, ‘You vile
    Old arse-grabber, you ursophile,

    Come on you lads! Let’s get stuck in!’
    They kicked his head, they ripped his skin,

    They punched his face and cracked his neck,
    They left the Squire a bloody wreck.

    When Rupert got home Mrs Bear said,
    ‘Look at your trousers! They’re all red!

    That yellow cloth is hard to clean,
    You can’t put it in the machine!’

    When she heard he’d duffed up the Squire,
    Her voice acquired a certain ire.

    ‘Oh, Rupert! You deserve a whack,
    Just wait till Mr Bear gets back!’

    Rupert’s step was quite unsteady,
    Going in his father’s study.

    His iron resolve almost wavered,
    But ‘I’m sorry, Pa,’ he quavered.

    Mr Bear laughed. ‘Don’t be a sap.
    I’m glad you gave that a queer a slap,

    I wish you’d killed the dirty prick,
    Those nancy boys just make me sick.

    You’ve got your head screwed on there, kid,
    Now where’s my wallet? Here’s a quid.’

  132. June 26, 2009 6:32 PM

    True, true.

  133. mishari permalink*
    June 26, 2009 8:29 PM

    Aside from the more obviously distasteful and just plain zany aspects of all this, this…I dunno…what to call it? Unearned grief?…what bugs me the most about this ecstasy of faux mourning, I think, is the simple stupidity of it.

    As an aspiring teen-age guitar fondler, I idolized Hendrix. His death saddened me, as did the death of another idol, Miles Davis, as have the deaths of many, many writers, musicians, artists and filmakers whom I’ve revered.

    Thing is, though…none of them are really dead for me. Oh, to be sure, their bodies are worm-food, but I was never interested in their bodies–I was interested in their work and the work never died. Hendrix, Miles Davis and Erik Satie are as alive for me in their music as they were when I first fell in love with them.

    Ditto Django Reinhardt, John Cassavetes, A.J. Liebling, Wallace Stevens, Francis Picabia, Sonny Boy Williamson, Luis Bunuel, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Djuna Barnes, Elizabeth Bishop and the rest of the gang that populate my personal pantheon.

    People are only really dead when you don’t love them anymore.

  134. June 26, 2009 11:51 PM

    “People are only really dead when you don’t love them anymore.”

    And when they can no longer taste coffee, I’d add.

  135. June 27, 2009 12:28 AM

    Here’s my Michael Jackson tribute (inspired by CiF):

    He was the king of pop
    She was the queen of hearts.
    Their lives came to a stop
    Tragically twelve years apart.

  136. June 27, 2009 12:34 AM

    This whole event has been somewhat of an eye-opener for me: people I once over-estimated revealing themselves as silly fucks and so forth. I keep popping into blogs I sometimes pop in on only to come across these hideous *Jacko tributes*. From adults! Comparing him to John Fucking Lennon! Has Jacko ever made any statement that would have felt out of place in a casino?

  137. June 27, 2009 1:06 AM

    Ah well, you shouldn’t over-estimate people; they’ll always fail to live up to it!

    And to think I haven’t got a TV any longer!!! – I’m finding it hard to know what I should feel – or even to think about Michael Jackson at all.

  138. mishari permalink*
    June 27, 2009 1:16 AM

    The news, obooki, has been nothing but Jacko. I can’t bear to watch any more. One more fucking ‘tribute’, one more citation of the ‘King of Pop’ (makes him sound like a softdrink manufacturer–oh, if only) and I’ll do something I’ll regret…

    Has everyone’s IQ dropped by about 60 points or something?

  139. June 27, 2009 8:46 AM


    To draw Rupert would be prestigious
    But his lawyers are very litigious

    Even drawn “straight” there would be trouble
    They’d be on my case at the double

    They have hit men who can be bought
    To “settle” the case out of court

    So even though my finances are lean
    Your Rupert verse is too obscene

    I don’t wish to cause you aggravation
    But I’ll settle for self-regulation

    But the teletubbies, that’s a different matter
    I see drawings with gore and splatter.

  140. June 27, 2009 8:58 AM

    SA what I find so odd is that on that site ( 3 Quarks ) which I’m guessing is a liberal arts one, why do some of your fellow combatants find it impossible to say “yes you have a point but I’d also add…..” ?

    Their urge to disagree obviously comes above saying anything sensible.

    I’d add the current mania for cosmetic surgery which Jacko was a pioneer of in his way, to the racist angle . There was a recent radio programme about 14 year old girls in the East End who are all profoundly at odds with their natural body-shapes and seek to alter them through surgery and implants. Whose approval are they seeking ? do they realise how phoney they will look as they age? what is causing this extreme dissatisfaction?

    They seem to believe that acceptance by some teenage boy idiot who has no doubt got his ideas of what women “should” look like from on-line porn is where it’s at.

    The only conclusion you can reach for them is that the power of advertising imagery has just become too powerful

  141. June 27, 2009 10:53 AM


    I’m even more interested in the racism (which always comes blurting out as “everything can’t be blamed on racism” even when it’s not) which American “Liberals” smuggle into these debates. One thing that none of the “white” ones can abide is being told *anything* by a darkie (unless the topic is of zero importance: a report on the niceties of the latest secret handshake from the ghetto is okay, I’m guessing). White American Liberals especially don’t like announcing the End of Racism and having some darkie snicker.

  142. June 27, 2009 12:11 PM

    SA I would have thought any decent liberal would be pleased that others agree re: the need to keep awake over these things.

    Reminds me when I was an art student in France ( for 3 months ) in the 70’s and met all these soixante-huitards who were the smuggest bunch I’ve ever encountered. They seemed more impressed with what they’d done rather than nursing any idea that there might be more to do.

  143. June 27, 2009 6:25 PM

    Al/Steven, a woman is never satisfied with her body, and I’m sure some men feel the same, because we seem to be unable to go a single day without some woman who is paid for being beautiful telling us we need to be more beautiful. Acceptance comes with age and wisdom. The problem in my mind is the easy access to plastic surgery. If people can, they will.

    (Let THIS be a warning to anyone who’s considering plastic surgery–Ed.)

  144. mishari permalink*
    June 27, 2009 6:35 PM

    True enough, Polly. But the Jacko business isn’t really about plastic surgery per se. It’s about a society and system that causes a black man to feel the need to become white, a much more troubling issue (for me, anyway) than mere vanity.

  145. June 28, 2009 12:51 PM

    Oh yes I see what you are saying, I was just thinking about the question of plastic surgery becoming more popular, rather than specifically about MJ. It always struck me that he looked most like his sister Latoya after changing himself. I don’t know whether he was looking for acceptance in a wider sense or whether it was some kind of family dynamic, perhaps he wanted to associate more with the ones who weren’t in Jackson 5…

  146. June 28, 2009 10:20 PM

    “It always struck me that he looked most like his sister Latoya after changing himself.”

    Funnily enough, LaToya began life on this earth rather “blacker” herself. Same surgeons?

  147. mishari permalink*
    June 28, 2009 10:37 PM

    I was thinking about the whole Jacko business when I remembered the phrase that black Americans use for someone like Jacko: that he was ‘trying to pass’.

    The phrase says it all really. To be accepted as white or part-white in America was to ‘pass’. Of course, in this context, the opposite of ‘pass’ is ‘fail’. To not be white is to somehow be a failure. This idea is as deeply implanted in the minds of black Americans as white, to the detriment of both.

  148. June 29, 2009 1:04 PM

    This is a whole new world to me. I suppose because it really doesn’t matter to me what colour people are, that I wouldn’t say I don’t notice it, but I would say that it doesn’t feature at all in the opinion I form of them or the way I treat them.

    I know it’s happened historically, that the whiter people were the more privileged there were considered as that meant that they didn’t work out in the fields, but I really did think that was more of application to causacians, eg like the Elizabethans with their artificially white faces – was it iron they used? (Something poisonous anyway) However I hadn’t really considered that people would still change themselves so radically to fit in. The fact that MJ changed was a bit of a mystery to me, but I presumed it was more driven by his own particular views of himself, rather than something which a lot of people do to themselves.

    Is the situation comparable to the view that lots of white people have that a suntan makes them look better? Some people to the extremes where they age their skin prematurely and end up with skin cancer. Surely these two groups of people meet somewhere in the middle when they cross over?

    The real winners here of course are the cosmetic companies, who would hate for people to realise how futile it all is and stop trying to change their complexion as they would lose out on a small fortune.

  149. June 29, 2009 2:40 PM

    Carying on from that – it surely is the cosmetic companies and the magazines which get so much revenue from them advertising which are the real problem here. What if everyone said, actually I’m happy with my appearance and I’ll just use soap and maybe a bit of moisturiser. I don’t care if my eyes sag or if I shimmer or that I have a “healthy” glow, I don’t want to be lighter or darker etc etc etc. See how much money would be saved the world over. We could all put it into curing world debt or buying allotments…

  150. Meltonian permalink
    June 29, 2009 9:30 PM

    I could do with some cosmesis myself-nose blanched and veinous knobby end reduced, wrinkles ironed out and cheek-beard electrolysised. In fact a whole-body makeover would be welcome, including new lungs and increased brain capacity. Boosterspice would do the trick, but Roche just stick to the boring old tranks. Dull Swiss sods.

  151. freep permalink
    June 29, 2009 10:54 PM

    Among my kids’ white friends around Newcastle, many affirm they would prefer to be black because it is a great deal cooler than being white. Most of them are well besmirched with tattoos. And then there are all those orange looking women who spend their allowances on suntan studios. I am at a loss. Like you MM, I would like some significant changes of organs, starting from the bottom up (I have given up on the brain), but I have no special desire to change race. I would like my dogg changed from a terrier to a greyhound, however. I have started watering him with heavy duty plant food …

  152. June 29, 2009 11:23 PM

    Melton, Freep,

    Dwelling a bit on this appealing idea of the Total Makeover, personally I’d go for a radical species shift, preferably to something that might light up the lower depths just a bit–say, a

    Bioluminescent Marine Organism

  153. Meltonian permalink
    June 29, 2009 11:58 PM

    Some beautiful pictures, BTP, but those floaters are too ego-free for my taste. I like the idea of the species shift, however. My choice would fall on the elephant, I think, no predators, a nomadic lifestyle, a community of equals but with the chance of solitude if required, mud-baths, nine-foot penis etc.

  154. June 30, 2009 2:08 AM


    ‘Tis an idyllic picture you paint. But for the “never forgetting” aspect, a pachydermatous state might seem enviable indeed.

    What was that we were talking about?

    (And by the way, might it not be overly idealistic to impute to those phosphorescent swimming-soapbubbles a total freedom from ego? Were I lit up like one of them, I’m sure I’d be bursting my… er, bubble.)

  155. Adrian Appley. permalink
    December 9, 2009 9:13 AM

    Hello Folks,
    I am trying to replace my small half moon shaped swozzle that I bought from a street trader several years ago but cannot locate any more. Can you help please ?
    Yours in desperation,
    Adrian Appley.

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