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July 28, 2009

Vacation Hell

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Politely Homicidal is going to be mostly off-line until September. All that means is that I won’t be around. The blog will still be live, though and everyone’s welcome to use it as a sort of graffiti wall…until then, I have a wife to placate, children to terrorise, a sun to worship and fish to catch.

165 Comments
  1. July 28, 2009 9:54 AM

    Have a good holiday then, I’d say “summer holiday” but we both know I’d be lying!

  2. July 28, 2009 11:23 AM

    Have a splendid summer, Mishari. I dipped into Road to Oxiana for the first time yesterday. Quite spellbinding; clipped yet poetic, dry yet full of wonder.

    (I still want to know what you thought of my story, good or bad, but I can wait…)

  3. freep permalink
    July 28, 2009 1:08 PM

    We expect a surfeit of sardines on your return, O splendid one.

  4. freep permalink
    July 28, 2009 1:38 PM

    There was an old Poet of Alnwick
    Whose efforts at verse were titalnwick
    He could imitate Herrick
    In the dialect of Berwick
    And his pastiche of Milton was malnwick.

  5. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 28, 2009 2:08 PM

    not a sole is left…
    leaving me kicking my heels
    disconsolately

  6. July 28, 2009 5:16 PM

    Have I missed anything?

  7. July 28, 2009 7:19 PM

    Yes, Al. And it was amazing.

    Sorry I didn’t make it to any of the N’land shows. Ended up crashed out in a Nepalese/Gaudi/le Corbusier/hunting lodge/Moroccan/wellness-disco/Bedouin-themed sauna complex here in den Bosch.

  8. July 28, 2009 7:19 PM

    Don’t know what happened to the formatting there…

  9. July 28, 2009 8:52 PM

    XB you did well to miss the Zwarte Cross festival. Remarkably similar to teenage life in Somerset only with 75,000 extremely drunk young men in one field instead of several towns and cities. Very amiable one and all ( unlike Somerset ) but a drunk is a drunk in any country especially when it comes to communication. Now off to Stockton in the NE , a bit lower down the country from where a few of our fellow PH correspondents seem to be.

  10. July 28, 2009 10:00 PM

    Ah I spotted you were taking the tour to Stockton, Al, sorry I missed the chance to see the show at Waterfoot, but I was busy being ill. Just how many feet of water were you under in the end? I don’t think it’s stopped raining here for weeks!

  11. July 28, 2009 10:40 PM

    Boiling hot in Holland Polly – with the odd quick 10 minute shower in the morning. God bless those big European land-masses.

  12. July 29, 2009 9:48 AM

    Has the pig been declared as part of the landscape then?

  13. July 29, 2009 12:52 PM

    More a boil/carbuncle than a landmark.

  14. July 29, 2009 7:48 PM

    A monstrous pig then…

  15. July 30, 2009 4:43 PM

    Bum poster poems closed again just in the middle of an interesting conversation. Having these posts only open for such a short time is extremely frustrating!

  16. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 13, 2009 5:49 AM

  17. August 13, 2009 1:45 PM

    Excellent clips HLM – truly poetry in motion. On my computer screen they hardly look to be in the same world as the rest of the surroundings.

  18. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 13, 2009 3:24 PM

    Some Impressions of Northumberland

    1.

    The hotel restaurant was a gloomy place, its décor a distilling of the most rebarbative aspects of Vicwardiana: dark red paper, dark blinds and dark wood panelling which was all clearly new(ish). Mrs M had remarked on the celebrity photos which lined the walls but I was too hungry to pay them much attention. It wasn’t until I had finished the garlicked prawns and was halfway through my Risotto Pollo (con pollo, surely?) that I looked up to find the squashed face of Sting scowling down at me. The previously succulent gobbets of chicken dried instantly to polystyrene in my mouth. Next morning, in the equally gloomy breakfast room, the muzak was provided by Cat Stevens’ Greatest Hits. Inexpressibly awful though this stuff is, it has a certain adherent property, like your hair being shampooed with honey and placed in a bag of feathers to dry. I spent the rest of my time in Northumberland trying to comb it out of my mental coiffure.

    Baby I’m grieving

  19. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 13, 2009 5:06 PM

    2.

    Cragside is a remarkable spot, an extraordinary house and wonderful gardens, which costs a remarkable sum to visit. We’re not hard-up, so we were happy to pay, but I imagine there are less fortunate people who would find it a struggle, which makes ‘National Trust’ a bit of a misnomer. I recommend ‘The Sort Of National Trust’. Anyway, a surprising number did seem to be able to afford it and we moved towards the house among a host of man-toddlers in their shorts and amusing t-shirts (‘Oral Sex-It’s A Tough Job But Someone’s Got To Do It!’ How we laughed), accompanied by their obese angry English or thin depressed Filipino wives. I was particularly taken by the attention devoted to the downstairs existence in the house, which, after all, is where most of us would have been spending our time in the long-ago. Above stairs the accent was on the luxe, especially the wildly bombastic fireplace constructed for the visit of Edward VII. One can imagine the sniggers of Tum-Tum and his wife when they reached their suite that night.

    ‘OMG. Did you see that fireplace?’
    ‘Too too utterly nouveau, my dear.’
    ‘K. Just going to boff a chambermaid. Don’t wait up.’

    There were some unbelievably poor pictures in the otherwise impressive gallery, once Armstrong’s lab but later converted into living space. Mrs M was about to remark unkindly on a gruesomely sentimental rendering of a group of kittens when some Geordie ladies began to coo over it, ‘Oooah, cooom oavah heah, pett, an’ luuke at thuss gorjass pickchah!’. Accelerating away from these bosomy proletarian felinophiles, I began to formulate some glib theories about enormous wealth and absence of taste. Mrs M sensibly read the guidebook and interrupted my lecture to point out that the best pictures had been sold by the 2nd Lord Armstrong after he had nearly bankrupted the estate, within ten years of his father’s death. A man after my own heart.

    But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there

  20. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 14, 2009 12:22 AM

    3.

    I’d had a disturbed night, and resorted to a large dose of codeine to get some sleep. I felt a little distrait that morning. The walk to Dunstanburgh Castle began in a car park where some kids were playing football. I considered telling them to pack it in on the grounds that they might damage my new Japanese car, but then reflected that they might beat me to a pulp. I compromised by making an anonymous call to Crimestoppers. It was gratifying to hear the squeal of a siren as we walked down the road, though, as on the Isle of Wight, it might just signify that the Bill is on its way back to the station for a cup of tea. Turning the corner we proceeded in a northerly direction through the village of Craster, ignoring the frequent invitations to sample a kipper in a bun (god almighty!). The Castle is in view immediately, a near-ideal ruin standing prominently on an eminence overlooking the sea. We wended our way through fields of sheep and for once I managed to swallow my pathological fear of the bovine when a herd of the legendary black Northumberland attack cows appeared on the horizon. The weather had been balmy and pleasant, but as we closed on the castle’s glacis thunderous dark clouds began to rise from the north and a chilly breeze swept in from the sea. As one enters the magnificent gatehouse the wind is caught and tunnelled through the narrow space and you are propelled into the bailey like a ball from a cannon. This was a relatively calm day: when the wind is really blowing it must be quite an experience.
    The interior of the castle is mainly grass, but the real prize is the Lilburne Tower, which stands on the northern curtain wall. It’s thought that this large structure was erected in this position by the Duke of Lancaster in order to taunt Edward II, whose Bamburgh Castle is visible to the north. A vanity project, then, a mark on the road to Lancaster’s execution after he was complicit in the murder of the gay king’s boyfriend Piers Gaveston, and a subsequent revolt. It began to drizzle as we contemplated the cliffs which protect the castle’s seaward approaches, so we struggled through the castle’s gateway (the wind now against us) and trudged back to Craster. We took tea at a kipper stall, doing our best to ignore that lingering smokiness left by the bloatered lips of previous drinkers, and returned to the car park. The football game had ended. There were unmistakable signs of police violence, blood, helmets, scattered shields.

    You know I’ve seen a lot of what the world can do
    And it’s breaking my heart in two

  21. dickensdesk permalink
    August 14, 2009 9:28 AM

    Enjoying these posts Mowbray… reminding me of a childhood spent being dragged to these god–forsaken places where we were generally abandoned to die of hypothermia with naught but a banda’d worksheet, clip-board and a thirst for history to sustain us whilst the teachers f-ed off to the pub/tea-shoppe/rut in the dunes for all we knew. Dunstanburgh notably arse-freezing but I suggest Warkworth Castle for a more clement spot and Alnwick will be familiar if you’ve seen any of the Harry Potter films. All these castles should remind you that Northumberland has been/remains a frontline wilderness for most of past 2000 years. Some excellent, if lengthy, ballads to be recited at sites of various war-crimes on both sides if so inclined but wear your thermals. Lindisfarne and the Roman Wall also excellent places to acquire a serious chest condition, even in August.

    Your obsevations on Cragside an the locals were very droll. Interesting to note it was all amassed on the backs of arms-manufacture in 19th c, The Armstrong gun wreaked havoc upon both sides in the American civil War and the course of history was decisively altered when Armstrong tooled-up the Jap navy with top-notch battleships that defeated the Bear in 1905 leading to the revolution etc. But for the lust for profit that built that house Cossack nobility might still be knoutting serfs for fun in feudal Russia, the Japanese quietly reflecting upon lotus flowers and the world might still be painted largely in the pink of the Brit Empire… or not. Makes you think.

    If furthers thrills and spills are required I suggest purchasing a red and white football shirt and standing in the middle of the Bigg Market in Newcastle town centre at around 11.00 tonight or tomorrow and start chanting “you went down with the smoggies” to the tune of Guantererrrraa… you know, that old Trini Lopez song. The famously warm-heated locals might buy you pint or two for your trouble … or not.

    Like Sting himself (and others like Ant, Dec, Nail, Robson Green etc) I prefer the Home Counties these days.

  22. freep permalink
    August 14, 2009 10:46 AM

    Thanks for the leaves from your Northumberland album, MM. You obviously managed to escape the fangs of my dogg, since no reports of savagery have reached me, and the anti-tetanus supplies have not been called for. You were lucky with the black attack cattle, which rarely desist from goring visitors who either have fashionable rainwear, or whose mouths emit unfamiliar vowel sounds.

    Only an hour ago, the dogg and I were musing upon the distant jagged outline of Dunstanburgh castle, and concluding as we usually do that it is the noblest of all the ruins that litter our surroundings, here on the lip of the German Ocean. The dogg then found a dead seal on which to roll. It is good that you found the best ruin to visit. I happen to live yards from the same Warkworth Castle that dd mentions, a building which has merit as a castle designed for habitation rather than just for fuming at one’s enemies in; but Dunstanburgh takes the biscuit.

    This is feudal country. You may have noticed the habit of Northumbrians to erect columns as a way of making permanent the tugging of the forelock. Alnwick has a large column with a lion on top, erected by the Duke’s grateful tenantry for ‘keeping their rents low’, and in Newcastle the city is dominated by the Grey monument, in tribute to earl Grey for abolishing a few rotten boroughs in 1832. The Grey descendants are still at Howick, just two miles from the Craster kipper stall. Just a few miles away the owner of Persimmon Homes, Duncan Davidson, self-made man mark III, has been accumulating vast acres of the county, but I am pleased to report has been forced to start flogging forests because of the recession.

    The people are grateful to Wm Armstrong for employing them in the West End to construct the greatest arsenal in the world to blow up the proles of all nations, as dd says. It was one way to turn a penny, and on the proceeds, Armstrong was able to found what became Newcastle University and the RVI, the City’s main hospital, and give away Jesmond Dene to the city. All this from a man who got the willing folk of the Toon to build warships from start to finish.

    The taste of such a man is of interest. Like you say, his heir and nephew managed to gamble most of the cash away, and so instead of the Turners and Constables he had, what you now see is a heap of post-Pre-Raphaelite rubbish by people like Evelyn de Morgan and Strudwick. But Cragside itself I always find disappointing. Despite the best efforts of a decent architect, Norman Shaw (whose Old Scotland Yard I always liked), it looks and feels suburban. It belongs in Chislehurst. It’s surrounded by colossal pine trees, and should be grandiose. If his counterparts the Krupps had done it, and with his resources, you’d have seen a fantastical palace to rival the ambitions of mad King Ludwig. In the end, it’s a tame affair. The fireplace with the legend ‘East, West, Hame’s best’ sums up the Geordie, I’m afraid.

    I know most of the eateries in the area (not difficult), but can’t place the gloomy room with the image of Sting. I would like to avoid it, so a precise identification would be useful.

    What moved me most in your account was the tale of the man-toddlers. They are everywhere in their accursed shorts. The last shreds of dignity have left this benighted world.

  23. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 14, 2009 11:37 PM

    4.

    We spent a couple of days on Hadrian’s Wall, or Adrian’s Wall as it’s known to the sportive Southern youths who were playing bulldog on the hypocausts of Housesteads. It’s shaming to admit that in more than fifty years I had never set eye or foot on the Wall until last week. Our technique was to find a hotel nearby, then, starting at the Carlisle end, drive along the Wall’s course, stopping whenever the opportunity offered to get a glimpse or make an approach. My favourite spots were those places where the Wall gradually dissolved into the grass, and then reappeared a hundred metres on: areas where the stones had been robbed for building, or removed to make larger fields. That appearance and disappearance gave it a near-organic aspect. Of course the major forts were top of the list. Birdoswald mainly impressed because of its situation, a great view over the river, and the stretch of wall leading to the milecastle. Scrabble, gin rummy, Totopoly, Connect 4, Lemmings, Mrs M flukily topped me once again by finding the phallic symbol incised into the Wall’s stonework, something which she managed to repeat on several more occasions. We were at Housesteads one warm afternoon when it was very busy, but once the coach parties and barbarian youth had departed we were able to sit looking out over the wilderness and imagine (on my part at least) the Picts (who I visualise as squat hairy semi-primates, rather like modern Welshmen) lurking in the heather and gazing with fascination at the Wall, which must have seemed an extraordinary apparition to them. God knows what the Romans made of the Picts.
    The fort I most enjoyed was Chesters, a lovely spot in itself but with the added interest of a Roman river crossing. The museum there was the best I saw on HW: I was under the impression that women were of no importance in the Roman social system, yet there were several elaborate tombstones soldiers had dedicated to their deceased wives. Quite touching. The phallic symbol Mrs M found there was of literally fabulous size (I hope). Those Italians, eh?
    Next day we headed home, to the visionary South.

    Baby baby it’s a wild world

  24. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 15, 2009 12:05 AM

    Thanks for remarks, DD, freep. We visited various other places but I won’t bore you with my thoughts on them: Belsay was pretty impressive. We decided to stay out of cities, DD, and gave Alnwick a miss because it was so busy. The hotel was The Coquetvale Hotel in Rothbury, freep, which has an Italian restaurant. Don’t let me put you off – the food wasn’t bad at all. The best by a distance was The Barrasford Arms (in Barrasford, funnily enough) where Mrs M had the best soup she has ever tasted and I found myself looking forward to eating in a way I haven’t done for a while. On reflection (and checking the pic in the guidebook) I think you’re right about Cragside – it’s the setting which really makes the house look something special.

    Perhaps you both could help with some local knowledge. Mrs M was an RAF kid, and her father was stationed at RAF Acklington for two/three years in the early 60s. We drove around for a while looking for it without any luck. We did notice signs to a prison. Has that replaced it?

  25. dickensdesk permalink
    August 15, 2009 12:57 AM

    It is indeed now (was) a prison; the most northerly in Britain but not the stone-breaking hell-hole you might imagine. My dear old mum worked there for a while teaching pottery of all things and quite enjoyed it I think but I left Northumberland in 1980 so my “local knowledge” is all a bit historic… I shouldn’t imagine the castles/walls have changed much but, from what I can gather, there has been a general polarisation/coarsening since I left… I believe patches are very des res now whilst much of the rest has gone to Hell completely. Strangely enough this transformation corresponds almost magically/demonically to the rise of Sting from cut-price bearded jazzer to lord of the manor/tantric prince. Spooky or what?

  26. freep permalink
    August 15, 2009 2:36 PM

    Not replaced, MM; it’s the same place. The reason I live where I do is because of Acklington prison, where Mrs Freep got a job eight or nine years ago. The prison still has the aircraft hangar in the middle, where instead of repairing hurricanes, the convicts make shirts. There are still one or two old timers on the estates staff who worked at the RAF camp and got jobs in the prison when it opened in the early 70s. And I worked a bit there for a few years until last autumn.
    Bog standard category c prison, but split between a sex offenders bit and a bit for the usual thugs, dealers and inadequates from newcastle and Middlesbrough. I used to teach old perverts how to write poetry. Not an exciting place. Quite a few RAF camps got converted to gaols – Haverigg near Barrow is another.
    Thanks for your comments about the hotel, and glad you liked Belsay, which is different. The first major Greek revival house in the North, very mausoleum-like, with splendid quarry gardens.
    DD, you are partly right about the fall of the north-east into the inferno, but since your departure, some things have improved. Blyth went down into being a drug-infested anthill, but is now almost habitable. The good thing is that the whole county, as MM probably observed, is empty of people. We could do with a few more mosques.

  27. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 15, 2009 5:22 PM

    Thanks for the information. Funny that you should both have connections with the place. Quite right about the underpopulation: on our search we went from Amble to Acklington and Broomhill (where Mrs M went to primary school) to Red Row (where she remembered going shopping)without seeing a single human being.

    Sting’s photo did have a Satanic aspect. Perhaps he draws psychic energy from the populace of Northumberland, thereby enfeebling their reproductive capacity. It would explain how he manages those marathon sex sessions with his ghastly wife.

  28. dickensdesk permalink
    August 15, 2009 8:59 PM

    yes mm… Sting leeched my mojo (I think it was the Zenyatta Mondatta … da doo doo doo period) to the extent that I had to leave to seldom return.

    But enough of the joys of Northumberland… what kind of sidekick are you when the first three or four of the latest Posters Poems should go unremarked? Actually I’m quite quite an admirer of atf… pluck to die for but I would pay good money to be a fly on the wall when our host returns to read the first three.

  29. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 15, 2009 11:47 PM

    The views of His Highness on Abrams are well-known, and I cleave to them not just out of shameless toadying but through real conviction. That exquisite moment when Carol Rumens innocently remarked that English wasn’t Abrams’ first language demonstrates that keener judges than me find her style rather… bizarre. Abrams’ outraged response shows that self-criticism isn’t her forte either.

    A fairly grey selection so far, I think, apart from HLM’s brilliant offering. I do miss the faintly lunatic energy of TheBookOfSand. And cynicalsteve, of course. A year gone already.

  30. dickensdesk permalink
    August 16, 2009 12:08 AM

    Yes that HLM one was both funny and well-crafted.

    Sunrise is a tricky one though. I’m giving myself until Thursday to locate an arresting angle. Too much sex and religion going on; lends itself to all those new dawn cliches.

  31. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 16, 2009 12:28 AM

    freep’s suddenly upped the ante: flaming genius.

  32. mishari permalink*
    August 16, 2009 4:46 AM

    Got access to an interweb connection for a day or so. Everyone well, I trust? Bit drunk myself. Should be in bed. Will be shortly. Posted a horribly cliched and sentimental (sorry DD) Petrarchan sonnet on PP but made up for it (I hope) by following it with a Harry Graham-ish Ruthless rhyme. Alcohol is a terrible thing.

    I’ll say one thing for SA’s verse: it’s preferable to her wretched prose for the simple reason that there’s less of it. That constitutes A Very Good Thing.

    So, the divine freep was teaching old perverts to write poetry? Suddenly, Mowbray’s skill is explained. Hasta luego, chicos…

  33. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 16, 2009 8:05 AM

    Woke up to read some freep magic on PP – lapsed into an hour’s tortured reminiscence of crimes I may or may not have committed on Croxted Road. Took me longer to decide whether or not to brake AND whether or not to drive on and leave the old dear slumped at the roadside than it did to identify ‘ozymandibles’. A macabre chef-d’oeuvre and an extremely touching verse. Don’t underestimate the power of clichés, however sentimental.

    Must rush off. Desmond is quoting lines from ozymandibles. Clash of the X-Men…

  34. pinkroom permalink
    August 16, 2009 10:22 AM

    Hi HLM,

    Good poem btw. Yes… what is Des up to? Not sure if it is a tribute or a piss-take or just noodlings that are best done in the privacy of ones own cell?

    Read something on the David Peace riot recently that he copies out any piece of writing he likes several times to internalise it or whatever which perhaps explains both the strength, and weaknesses, of his work, Do other people do this???

  35. mishari permalink*
    August 16, 2009 10:48 AM

    Jesus, that oruja (Catalan version of marc or grappa)..up late with my host and some local lads. Tastes like some local wildlife has defecated in my mouth. Between that, the 6-inch nail that someone’s driven into my frontal lobes and my off-spring badgering me to get at this slow internet connection…

    My host, an old and understanding pal, has just come in with some powerful opiate pain-killers and a decent brandy. I’ll probably survive.

    Re: Des’s cannibalising verse…I dunno…he used to do it when we on friendly terms as well. I think it’s just one of his Funny Little Ways.

    I’m forced to give up the computer to my brutish progeny, whose lack of concern for an old man’s suffering speaks of the callousness of youth. We’re off into the trout-haunted wilds again in the morning but I’ll pop back a bit later.

  36. parallax permalink
    August 16, 2009 2:12 PM

    Hey MM – thanks, I really enjoyed your postcards from Northumberland – I’ve never been there – Whitby’s probably my closest gothic haunt, it’s north and east … but not north enough. Then again I was only tempted to visit that part of the coast by Bram Stoker. Great Ruined Abbey. But if you reckon further up there is worth checking out, and if freep lives there, and if DD has absconded – then there’s a lot going for it.

    I’ll pencil it it in for next time.

  37. mishari permalink*
    August 16, 2009 11:45 PM

    Right, I’m off again in the morning. See you all in a couple of weeks, when I shall regale you with tales of trout the size of dolphins and my ineffable skill at catching them. Until then, be well…via con dios, compadres.

  38. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 17, 2009 12:02 AM

    Well worth a visit, para. For a man of the Left there are relics of the Labour movement as well. The mining museum at Ashington was recommended to me (though I didn’t make it there), and the waterfront in Newcastle is, or used to be, very evocative.

  39. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 17, 2009 12:09 AM

    Good luck with the trout, Monseigneur. Are you using Spanish flies?

  40. August 17, 2009 1:50 PM

    There’s a particularly grisly Italian restaurant in Alnwick which is worth avoiding. It’s upstairs on the high street and is one of those establishments where the patron sings the Greatest hits of Italian opera to you very loudly.

    If you fail to be charmed by his behaviour his fake bonhommie is very quickly revealed for what it is. I don’t know what the Italian for getting a quick cold shoulder is but we certainly got it.

    I have nothing against people singing to me but this bloke is a phoney and the food is poor as well – olives and tuna straight out of the tin.

  41. freep permalink
    August 17, 2009 2:53 PM

    I know it, al, and you are correct. Bad food, crap service etc. But a hundred yards away, opposite the Playhouse, there is that rare thing in these parts, a sound, cheap and unpretentious Italian cafe. A Northumbrian oasis, and a suitable place for mishari to send some of the sardines he is going to catch.
    parallax, you would be welcome in these parts.
    If you like gardens, the best place to visit in Northumberland is Howick Hall Gardens, (the home of earl Grey tea) which has an elegant tearoom with good high-calorie cakes. Ignore Alnwick Garden, which is not a garden but a theme park; I think our esteemed Duke is making a similar hash of his London residence Syon House. Death by Visitor Attraction.

  42. August 17, 2009 7:15 PM

    Hello, to all you Tarantino fans out there the new one is worth seeing. “Inglourious Basterds” (two things about the name – it is how they spell it and is not a spelling mistake by either myself or the cinema, and you probably want to ask for your ticket in the quietest voice you have because people look at you funny)… anyway it’s very good. I always find it difficult finding a way of describing the genre he’s opted for, saying “It’s classic Tarantino” is quite enough most of the time. Just from the first scene where the music is an ingenous mix of Fur Elise leading into mexican standoff style music I knew it was going to be good. Brutal violence but not quite as bad as Kill Bill. I’m pants as a film critic so I won’t carry on – just go and see it and see what you think…

  43. August 18, 2009 12:10 AM

    ingenous – lacking knees?

  44. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 18, 2009 10:26 AM

    I see Northumbria police have used their tasers on 704 occasions since 2004, 703 times on an unnamed dogg in the Alnwick area, once on its owner. Thank God we didn’t stop there!

  45. freep permalink
    August 18, 2009 2:39 PM

    Note: IoW incidences of rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour 1791 cases. Category not recognised in Northumbria.

  46. Daisy permalink
    August 18, 2009 7:13 PM

    Found this blog by accident. I’ve been busting a gut laughing. You guys are terrific! Why can’t more blogs be like this?

    Love, Daisy

  47. freep permalink
    August 18, 2009 8:09 PM

    Come again, Daisy. The proprietor will be back with provisions shortly, and maybe a sore head. We’re just defacing his buildings and pretending to use his Hoover. Entry fee to this delightful island is usually a poem.

  48. Daisy permalink
    August 18, 2009 8:41 PM

    Thank you, freep. Your welcome is much appreciated. I have to say, I’m a tad reluctant to submit poems that will be read by so many incredibly gifted poets. I’m sure you guys will be polite but y’all set such a high standard. I loved your sheep poem, incidentally and reading through these posts and comments has sent me to The Guardian’s poetry blogs (Poster Poems). Seriously, you guys are outstanding. Your work especially had me shaking my head in amazement. I’m guessing that you’re actually a well-known poet under your real name. No amateur could write such beautiful poetry.
    To submit anything I wrote would feel like entering a donkey in the Kentucky Derby next to the thouroughbreds like you and MeltonMowbfray and Zepherine and HenryLloydMoon and BaronCharlus and Mishari and so many others. I’m up to about the third month of Poster Poems and I cant’ get over the quality of the work. It would take a huge amount of courage to submit anything of mine to be read by people as alented as you guys. But I’ll be very, very happy just to talk to you guys and maybe ask a few questions, if you guys don’t mind. I’m guessing you won’t. I’ve been reading through the posts and comments here for the last couple of days and I get the really strong impression that you’re a really cool, easy going bunch of people.

    Love and respect, Daisy M.

  49. August 18, 2009 10:46 PM

    Daisy, Daisy
    Don’t worry, they let me post here and my poems are average at best (I’m Pinkerbell on poster poems and elsewhere so see for yourself). I’ve always had a warm welcome here and the worst that’ll happen is people will talk around you if you say something daft…

  50. Daisy permalink
    August 18, 2009 11:29 PM

    Thank you for reassuring me, Polly. I felt a little awkward about commenting at first but after reading through the comments and posts, I just got the impression of a really friendly, good-humored blog and not at all cliqueish and unwelcoming. I’m still working my way through the posts and comments and honestly, these guys are are riot. Just this great mix of wild humor and teasing and incredible depth of knowledge about, well, all kinds of really cool stuff. To be honest, I’m getting a schoolgirl crush on all these guys. I’m working up the nerve to post a poem on The Guardian. Obviously it won’t be up to these guys standards but I don’t think it will be too much worse than some of the stuff on there and I guess I have to start someplace. Anyway thanks for the welcome, sweetie.

  51. freep permalink
    August 19, 2009 5:46 AM

    Daisy
    ‘The moth and the night are soon dead’
    You’re good at this.
    Some of those who visit here get vexed at too much free verse, so that a good shape and rhythms and rhyme (as in yours to Nathaniel just posted in GU) never go amiss.
    If an effort turns out to be doggerel, so much the better. The Higher Doggerel is much appreciated in this playground.

  52. August 19, 2009 11:08 AM

    Daisy,

    I’ve just looked in on your PP poem and it’s really very good. You have made a glittering debut and you’ve got some positive comments from the others there to show you that it was a good idea. How do you feel about it now?

    I started off there just posting my poem before reading the others because I knew I’d be too imtimidated, so I know exactly how you feel.

    Your poem had a wonderful rhythm about it and you’d managed to make it personal whilst also keeping to a good structure. I’ve not quite worked out how to do both yet, so I’m impressed. There have been several (heated) discussions here and elsewhere about whether the form or meaning of poems are more important, but there is no agreement on the subject, so I don’t think you need to worry about it. Just write what you feel and keep on sharing it because you’ve got a talent girl!

    (p.s. is “pink pocket” rude?)

  53. Daisy permalink
    August 19, 2009 1:32 PM

    Hi, Polly. No, I don’t think Pink Pocket is rude at all. Thank you for your kind words. You’re braver than me, girl. You just jumped into Poster Poems. I did a lot of scouting first and studied the styles of the poets who posted over the last year. The poster called OhGodNotHimAgain (great name!) made some very interesting suggestions and I was touched that he went to the trouble of a lengthy analysis. I could kick myself for not thinking of ‘pulse’, as he (he?) suggested instead of ‘beat’. But, seriously, I was as nervous as I ever was going out on a first date. I wanted very much to if not shine, then at least not fall flat on my face. I didn’t have to worry. Everyone (including freep and yourself) have been so very kind and encouraging. So confidence builds!

  54. pinkroom permalink
    August 19, 2009 1:46 PM

    Agree with all the above Daisy… great stuff… keep writing/keep posting and don’t take either imposter (praise or ridicule) too seriously. PP such a great platform for honing your craft… as oppossed to bedroom noodlings both it gives you a relatively large audience and the opprtunity to read/learn from real/living people… albeit often masked, writing right here and now. As has already been shown you have a way with words.

    Don’t be put off by Ogodits… Has a tendency first to tell you where you’ re going wrong… then he’ll re-write your poem for you in,much the way Ernie Wise used to “improve” Shakespeare until finally he’ll start copying big chunks of your verse into his own…er…experimental ramblings. It’s a sort of virtual care in the blogging community project, but he’s doing well, all things considered.

    Agree with freep about the higher doggerel but what’s wrong with the lower? Anything |well-made” will find appreciation. Perhaps he means poorly crafted dogginess, but isn’t that the very best sort too? What a conundrum.

  55. Daisy permalink
    August 19, 2009 2:37 PM

    Hi, pinkroom. You’re one of the many poets over at Poster Poets who intimidated me. I know that’s not your intention but you guys and girls are all so fluent that I got the impression that you turn out beauifully crafted poems with one hand while stirring the chilli with the other hand and watching the ball game on TV at the same time. I was grateful for OhGod’s remarks which I’m certain were kindly meant. He seems unusual. Some of his posts are hilarious and some are impenetrable and some are very informative. Some are all three. And deadgod seems frighteningly knowledgable. Reading his (and your and many others) posts makes me realize how ignorant I am. It’s lovely to find a poetry blog where people are kind, even if they don’t think your work is very good, nobody kicks your butt over it. Some of the poetry blogs and sites I’ve looked at were more like gladiator schools. Real snake pits. I’m really happy I found all you guys! Thanyou for being so encouraging and supportive. You’re a doll.

  56. pinkroom permalink
    August 19, 2009 6:31 PM

    Should hate to intimidate anybody… intentionally or otherwise. I think the spirit of pp is just have a go.

    I was only joking about OGo… he jokes frequently at my expense but sine e, as the gaels say. I actually think he has lots of important things to say and I’m 1000% behind his quixotic tilts at the establishment but you need to filter his (genuinely prodigious) output because `it’s the same old song so often, all roads leading (often hilariously/bathetically) back to “my struggle” as a misfit genius in a Lancashire shoebox.

    Dg is not everybody’s cup of tea, but he really does know his stuff and I have learned loads of poetry stuff from him… he can be cranky but also a very patient/diligent teacher. Keeps his 3d identity well guarded… I have all sorts of theories that include him as a sort of Bird Man of Alcatraz given broadband and a 2 foot shelf of Eng Lit for good behaviour. Top man imho.

    If I think somebody’s pp poetry is no good, who am I to comment…? Unless they go out of their way to be particularly provocative/destructive I tend to just scroll down to something better. Carol’s Poem of the Week is slightly different in that it is all about criticism and if Joe Schmo gives his/her permission to be so scrutinised I’ll be fair and honest.

    Welcome to the fun.

  57. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 19, 2009 7:07 PM

    Swords is a fucking idiot.

  58. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 19, 2009 7:36 PM

    circumlocution:
    lip service to concision
    sans circumcision

  59. August 19, 2009 8:39 PM

    freep I have worked at Alnwick Gardens several times. There used to be a woman in the Education dept. who encouraged a different approach to what they put on but she was ousted last year when it was discovered she wasn’t bringing in enough of the corporate party/garden-themed wedding events.

    A strange place – I could imagine it being lovely in about 500 years when everything has grown and settled in but right now it looks like a rather outre gardening wing of a large B&Q, complemented by the usual National Trust tat on sale in the shop.

  60. freep permalink
    August 19, 2009 8:56 PM

    I have nothing to say about Swords. He has a lot to say.

  61. freep permalink
    August 19, 2009 10:29 PM

    PS.
    The Lower is preferable to the Higher Doggerel
    For singing a psalm when it’s Synagogal;
    But for performances in Wells Cathedral
    Only Higher has status that’s legal.
    For an opinion on the value of the Lower,
    You could ask any passing protozoa.
    My favourite exponent of the Higher
    Is that daft bugger Ben Zephaniah.

  62. pinkroom permalink
    August 19, 2009 11:10 PM

    That daft bugger Zephiniah
    dogs too damn quick for the status “higher”.
    Might I suggest some mellower weed
    to slow right down the fellow’s speed.
    For true blue doggin’, of oxo status,
    Motion has the apparatus
    but top of them all?
    The hound in chief?

    Seamus Heaney’s my belief.

  63. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 20, 2009 12:16 AM

    My thinking on the doggerel question
    Often takes its lead from my digestion:
    After a light meal, say an omelette,
    Then the Higher will be the better bet:
    The stomach is quietly satisfied,
    The mind to finer things can be applied.
    After a roast, a wedge of Spotted Dick,
    A bellyfull of custard and a quick
    Trundle down the pub for post-lunch drinks,
    Then the intellectual index sinks,
    Specimens of the Lower Doggerel
    Sourced from the very bottom of the well,
    Are spilling from the bucket raw and crude,
    Reflecting a potent visceral mood.

  64. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 20, 2009 12:30 AM

    Ever considered the IoW, Al? English Heritage used to hire travelling theatre groups to put on plays on the lawns at Osborne House. My kids (who have no cultural interests) used to love them.

    On second thoughts, don’t consider the IoW. The caulkheads would probably burn the Pig. Or elect it to the council.

    • August 20, 2009 9:34 AM

      Depends on whether the pig likes to speak Welsh doesn’t it Mowbray? Oh hang on… was that Jersey?

  65. August 20, 2009 8:38 AM

    MM We are at the mercy of festivals and events and interested promoters with money – whether IoW fits this category I have no idea. Can’t be any worse than Bromsgrove where I worked yesterday – a prime example of how not to organise an event. Still shuddering.

    Given that many rats and pigs are already in local councils on the mainland your final thoughts are not impossible should the pig run for election.

  66. August 20, 2009 8:47 AM

    I remember seeing Benjamin Zephaniah before he hit the poetry equivalent of the big time in a small community centre in Tottenham. He was fantastic – went to see him some years later when his name could fill a hall and it wasn’t the same.

    Plus he committed, for me, the unpardonable crime of gratuitously dragging in the word Earl solely in order to rhyme with girl. I retreated back to Marianne Moore soon afterwards and grumbled into my Lapsang Souchong, promising to pedanticly ( pedantically? – what a word not to to be able to spell ) nit-pick about trifles for the rest of my days.

  67. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 20, 2009 9:21 AM

    Dey say I made The Times Top Fifty
    Becoz my riming is nifty
    But nifty’s a collonial word
    Use by comentaters and Dickie Bird
    Now I don approve of eatin fowl
    An meat of all kind is not allow
    Daswhy my Aston Villa football team
    Play like a vegetarians dream
    Soon dey will ware red, gold an green
    An make great head way, innit, seen
    Down to de seccon division

  68. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 20, 2009 9:31 AM

    PS Loved your villa nell, MM.

  69. Daisy permalink
    August 20, 2009 11:22 AM

    Doggerel Day Afternoon

    When the slings and arrows come fast and thick
    A sonnet just won’t do
    You need some verse and need it quick
    Let doggerel see you through
    Though elegance may be lacking
    And subtlety’s out the door
    You’ll get no City backing
    (most doggerelists are poor)
    Who cares? Just grab your coat and door keys
    And take your doggerel out for walkies.

    I’ve been reading a lot of artpepper and MeltonMowbray. Does it show?

  70. August 20, 2009 12:22 PM

    Benjamin Zeph
    Aniah
    Mentions Hildegaard Neff
    To the ire
    Of pedants like Alarming
    Whose penchant for rhyming
    Isn’t apparent
    Heeyah.

  71. freep permalink
    August 20, 2009 1:40 PM

    It is, of course, possible for free doggerel to exist.
    What it requires is extremely deep thought, the influence of E.J.Thribb (aged 13 and three quarters), disgraceful metaphors, the fettering of unlike notions into an undigested mole, alcohol, idiotic repetition, pretensions, lines, casual apocalypticism and a lack of dignity. In the universal doomed struggle to make noises that truly say what lies within the soul, even self-destructive strategies have a place.
    It’s a good job the proprietor is piscatorially engaged, for he would fulminate.

    So. Alarming, Melton Mowb, Daisy and Henry who rhymes:
    You consider poetry a calling higher than the dogg star.
    And yet. And yet.
    It is my oracular contention that
    Poetry will die yes it will surely pass away far away
    just as Mrs Crackenthorpe’s yellow
    Cat died last week of an unsuspected aneurism.
    And because And because
    sentences are portentous that begin with And. Or so.
    And I have proved myself a master of the andbeginning line;
    I take upon me the invisible mantle of the quilpent seer.
    And prophesy the death of that form,
    that self-charming soliloquising inner conversation
    which
    Lends spurious potency to the thesaurus browser
    And her beads that jangle forever over the keyboard.
    Neither to mention the poetaster with his
    Ignipotent thumbnails and his cheap black hat that shrouds
    His malicious intentions from the innocent World.
    For list, yes list!
    To the breath of the lambent wind that
    Dries my purpling towel on the gravelled green:
    ‘Ye bards! Tie up your wordful bales and store them,
    treasure them
    Hide them in the stifling barns of your souls
    For ere long will come the advent of that She,
    She who unleashes the plague of tumbleweed,
    Who will scatter into oblivion
    the straws
    and
    chaff
    of all our loosened imaginings.’

  72. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 20, 2009 1:45 PM

    I must say I’m unaware
    Of this Zephaniah chap
    Does his work have any flair,
    Or is it basically crap?

    The lovely Hildegaard Neff
    As a singer was the top
    A total diva, en bref,
    But her cookers weren’t much cop.

    Yes, it seems like knavery
    That the stuck-up belted Earl
    Not only gets the gravy
    But also gets the girl.

    Beware of brain-rot, Daisy. Easily contracted, especially from the Prince’s garbage.

  73. August 20, 2009 2:16 PM

    freep so sorry to hear about Mrs. Crackenthorpe’s yellow cat.

    Splendid free doggerelising btw add a flugelhorn murmuring in the background and the new wave of doggerel movement starts here …. or do I mean heeyah?

  74. August 20, 2009 2:22 PM

    RE: The Earl/girl rhyme it wasn’t so much the rhyme as the fact that the use of the word Earl bore no relation to anything else in the poem. Indeed it was a visitor from another planet or a cymbal crash amplified through Led Zeppelin’s PA system.

    But reading the following comments especially freep’s masterful summary of the attributes necessary for doggerel I withdraw my objections, throw away the Marianne Moore and eat whatever’s necessary to further stimulate the brainrot that is already there.

  75. pinkroom permalink
    August 20, 2009 7:06 PM

    I once had the pleasure
    of hearing Ben Zee,
    at a Centre named for
    one Marcus Garvey.

    He dogg’d at great speed
    ’bout some chappy named Scarman
    but the audience watchin’
    were far less
    than charmin’,

    most of them hopin’
    t’be shot of th’sod;
    merely warming the mike
    for the mighty
    Aswad.

  76. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 20, 2009 11:25 PM

    Bestival would be a good spot for you, Al. Transport to the Island is ridiculously expensive, however. £70 for a day trip on the car ferry at the moment, and that’s with an Island resident’s discount. No wonder the caulkheads never leave the place.

    Deadline day for dickensdesk, I think. I’m looking forward to a treat. No pressure.

  77. August 21, 2009 12:51 PM

    If Daisy turns out to be WN7, I’ll do a jig.

  78. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 21, 2009 1:38 PM

    Daisy’s not you, then?

    I considered the possibility of a jest by the Prince, but as his pathetic little sidekick I’m well-attuned to his psychic emanations and had to reject it. Not gushing enough for WN7, in my judgement, and none of that twee baby-talk which turns the mind to murder.

  79. Daisy permalink
    August 21, 2009 1:40 PM

    I’m sorry to disappoint you, StevenA. Having read all the posts and comments on this blog, I know that WN7 is one our host’s bêtes noire but I assure you I’m not her (him? They?). Just Daisy Moskowitz
    née Miller (actually Milstein but my great-grandfather decided to ‘Americanize’ it in the 30’s. Strictly speaking, I guess he should have changed it to a Sioux or Kiowa name. Daisy Red Cloud. I could live with that).

    So you can put your dancing shoes away.

  80. August 21, 2009 2:26 PM

    I always jig barefoot. And Moskowitz is a grand name!

  81. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 21, 2009 2:27 PM

    Daisy Miller? Referencing a very boring 19thC novelist every day of your life must have been difficult. freep, I believe, carries the name of a shrewish sister. I have to be content with my name, which is German slang for penis. Quite disconcerting for my son’s German girlfriend.

  82. August 21, 2009 2:39 PM

    Wasn’t there a Daisy Moskowitz in Dorothy Parker’s close circle of friends? If not she should have been.

    Sadly my name, Edward Taylor is shared by a series of right wing loons.

  83. Daisy permalink
    August 21, 2009 2:49 PM

    My father was, inexplicably, a great admirer of Henry James. I’m not.
    Your name’s not Putz, is it, Melton? I know that’s Yiddish slang for penis but Yiddish is closely related to German.

  84. August 21, 2009 2:58 PM

    Life is too short to read paragraphs by Henry James let alone books.

  85. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 21, 2009 4:20 PM

    My daughter’s name is Daisy Goodwin.

    Commiserations, MM. “Schwanz” is an unwieldy monicker to heft to heft on a daily basis.

  86. August 21, 2009 4:46 PM

    You’ve outed them all Daisy, you’ve only been here five minutes… well done!

    I share a first name with a TV quack and a surname with a very famous romantic poet who has been rubbished in one of these threads (but that probably doesn’t narrow it down)… you can all have your guesses (or not).

    But Steven’s not allowed to play.

  87. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 21, 2009 4:55 PM

    Peter Putz at your service. No, it’s not that, nor is it Schwanz, more of a sub-meaning of a respectable word. We first became aware of it when a German colleague of my wife told her how surprised he was when people referred to her as Mrs Penis. Das glied, in short.

  88. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 21, 2009 4:57 PM

    Shouldn’t have mentioned Signor Bianca. Sorry about that.

  89. freep permalink
    August 21, 2009 5:56 PM

    True enough, but not Goneril; that might sit awkwardly alongside slang terms for a penis. I wish I had a surname like Red Cloud.

  90. August 21, 2009 6:34 PM

    Polly so going on your clues your name is Orville Wordsworth is it?

  91. August 21, 2009 6:47 PM

    Polly sorry Orville, due to a computer glitch I actually outed myself a year or so ago. Anytimefrances ( obviously asleep at the time ) failed to notice and then outed me as well to the subsequent surprise of no-one.

    I actually thought Melton Mowbray was your real name Peter and put the similarity with a part of Leicestershire down to a coincidence.

  92. August 21, 2009 8:36 PM

    I was wondering whether German peni resembled pork pies in some way, but now I understand. Probably.

    Al, it’s good but it’s not right…

  93. Zephirine permalink
    August 21, 2009 9:23 PM

    Pink: Dougie Howser Byron is quite a name for a girl, I can see why you’d prefer Polly:)

    H Moon: as in Daisy Goodwin, TV producer and poetry evangelist?

    Apologies to Daisy Moskowitz if it is her real name, it did immediately sound like a (for some reason slightly familiar) pseudo to me.. but then identity guessing-games are an all-too-familiar element of the GU Books Blog. I’ve been wondering if hic8ubique is somebody I’ve met before, and where unsinkmolly went, and if the two are connected.

  94. freep permalink
    August 21, 2009 9:29 PM

    al / Tory Edward, I realise we are kindred spirits. I don’t much like reading books either, meaning novels. There are a few exceptions. RL Stevenson, Melville, Gogol, Dickens .. …To blame for my disaffection may be included Henry James, DH Lawrence, anyone alive, AS Byatt … Not sure why I haunt the books blog, but Poetry is different. The only books in my house when I was in short trousers were Butlers Lives of the Saints, the Childrens Encyclopaedia and the AA Motorists handbook 1953. They still rank among my favourites.
    Polly, you are Rebecca Oliphant Leveson-Gower Shelley, and I claim my nine shillings.

  95. dickensdesk permalink
    August 21, 2009 9:43 PM

    Kildare Blake!!! By God Daisy, that’s an impressive name… straight out of Buchan or Rider Haggard: butch as a bastard in stiff tweed pants and no y-fronts I’d say. Pipe-smoker.

    Just dropping to let Mowbray know I’ve finally posted my aubade. Sweated more than inspired I’m afraid. Have been impressed by some of the later offerings though, including Melton’s dribbly dreamings of dirty Dawn…worthy of something less constrained than a humble 14 liner?

  96. dickensdesk permalink
    August 21, 2009 9:55 PM

    I mean Polly… hard to keep up. Or rather,

    …Findlay Keats? (I’ll bet he does?)
    …Ross Tennyson? (lantern jawed US TV anchor?)
    … Quincey Hunt? (much bullied at school?)

    Good game this. My first is a 19th novellist and my second is an item of furniture)

  97. August 21, 2009 10:07 PM

    Miriam Strong? Donald Duck Shelley?

  98. Daisy permalink
    August 21, 2009 10:14 PM

    Ben Dickinson? Ruth Keats? Marcus Hopkins? Quincy McGonagall? Who Swineburne?

  99. pinkroom permalink
    August 21, 2009 10:21 PM

    Miriam Strong sounds like an academic sociologist, one could imagine her being cited in papers about sexual deviance in the former county of Rutland, the Isle of Wight and other out of the way places.

    Donald “Duck” Shelley is a much decorated US Army colonel who was famed for using both live and inflatable pigs for mortar practice. A recent scandal involving the other use he made of the aforementioned has recently put paid to a promising political career.

  100. Zephirine permalink
    August 21, 2009 10:28 PM

    pinkroom, very good! Quincy McGonagall is a Canadian feminist folk singer with a line in post-modern ballads, the best known being about the man she picked up at a truck stop who turned out to be a werewolf.

    Marcus Hopkins writes articles for CiF, his latest was on the cultural importance of balloon animals, I think.

  101. August 21, 2009 11:23 PM

    Btw, over at Other Stuff we have a little challenge to write poems about eggs. Poached, hard-boiled, it’s up to you.

  102. pinkroom permalink
    August 22, 2009 12:00 AM

    Yes Zeph, I believe I am familiar with Marcus’s oeuvre… long on wind, nobody listening… lethal combination of failing to live-up to his parents’ talent/expectations and his vague, residual Welshness.

    Ben Dickinson is a prominent trade unionist who also works hard on behalf of an altogether different kind of membership around the bath-houses near Congress House. His broad circle of admirers simply know him as “Big Ben”… they think he might be a copper.

    Who Swineburne? Is the blogging name of an otherwise mild-mannered English teacher from Pinner, who rampages trollishly about various literary sites seeking to provoke/upset established writers/critics with his shouty rants and vile anti-poetry.

    I feel a novel coming on.

  103. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 22, 2009 1:07 AM

    Good work there, DD. You certainly avoided the cliched response: it’s not an angle which had crossed my mind. And I speak as a walking cliche.

  104. August 22, 2009 2:50 AM

    Donald Duck Shelley – brilliant! I’m going to change my name as that’s far better than the real thing! DD is nearest so far…

  105. mishari permalink*
    August 22, 2009 10:41 AM

    Greetings from Ripoll of ancient foundation, where Guifré el Pilós (Wilfred The Hairy) founded the Catalan nation and where the trout are so obliging, they walk up to you in the street, shake you by the hand and offer to come home with you.

    A priest who was the spitting image of the late Dom Deluise assured me, over this morning’s coffee, that the lair of the dragon slain by Sant Jordi (Saint George, patron saint of Catalunya) can still be seen in the mountains above the town.

    I was tempted to tell him that according to Gibbon, the original St. George was a corrupt pork-butcher in Roman Alexandria who was lynched by an enraged Alexandrine mob, incensed by his practice of selling rotten meat and short weight (being a corrupt pork-butcher made him the perfect patron saint for England, of course)…but he was such a friendly, jolly chap that I bit my tongue.

    Welcome, Daisy. Do not let the villanelle intimidate you. Mowbray, despite his brutish indifference to beauty, writes perfectly competent villanelles and he only learned to read and write last year…and now, to write some egg-verse for Zeph.

  106. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 22, 2009 11:14 AM

    I had some trout from Tesco yesterday. Rather bland, and strangely fatty.

  107. August 22, 2009 11:55 AM

    Is Wilfred the Hairy Polly’s real name? Itt’s a shot in the dark I realise but worth a try.

  108. August 22, 2009 12:24 PM

    DD I reckon you’re Oscar Armoire. Or maybe Thomas Tall-Boy… Charles Chaise-Longue? Wilde Wardrobe?

    Any name ending in “the Hairy” is probably fairly apt, Al, yes.

  109. mishari permalink*
    August 22, 2009 12:25 PM

    MM, I’m pretty sure that what Tesco sells is farmed trout. Horrible stuff. An unnatural diet and lack of excercise produces fatty odd-tasting fish. Wild trout are lean and have a lovely delicate flavour. You’re better off buying fresh sardines–cheaper, tastier and less mucked about with…

  110. August 22, 2009 12:57 PM

    I remember being deeply disappointed by trout eaten in Scotland till I realised they were all farmed (quite possibly not even in Scotland). I wasn’t there long enough to hunt down any wild ones.

    Good eggs so far, many thanks! More welcome.

  111. August 22, 2009 1:50 PM

    Came across some trout farms whilst working in Slovenia a few year’s back – basically a piece of chicken wire fence across one end of a stretch of river, the trout so packed in that they can’t turn round and a piece of chicken wire fence at the other end should the stragglers put 2 and 2 together and figure out an exit strategy. Quite grisly.

    My dad was a keen trout fisherman – photo after photo after photo after photo of him posing beside his catch. His quest was the salmon but after his only success he didn’t have a camera to hand, brought it back home, put it in the deep freeze to be photographed later, went away for 3 weeks. During which time the electricity went and the salmon rotted along with everything else. Tragic.

  112. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 22, 2009 7:33 PM

    A story which perfectly illustrates the existential despair of the freshwater fisherman, Al. I put away the rods in the end, recognising the inequality in the struggle of man vs fish.

    I used to assume that those fatty deposits in salmon/trout were due to farming, but a few years ago I cooked a salmon straight from the sea in Ireland which was the fattiest I’ve seen. Could have been an escapee from a farm, I suppose. The best must be that wild Atlantic salmon, which has a unique flavour and not a trace of fat.

  113. August 23, 2009 2:19 PM

    Finished and none too soon: the holidays, says César Vallejo.

    Vallejo: Dolor

    A bit late in on Zeph’s great egg race, and slightly wobbly:

    Wrong from the Start

  114. August 24, 2009 8:32 AM

    “I have to be content with my name, which is German slang for penis.

    Melton: no. I will not larf. Reminds me of my Persian ex telling me how the newcasters in Iran were having a tough time mentioning then-Presidential candidate Bob *Dole* (ie, Bob Cock)…

  115. August 24, 2009 8:47 AM

    MM Didn’t George W Bush inexplicably assert that man and fish can co-exist peacefully? Yet another thing he got wrong.

  116. August 24, 2009 11:47 AM

    GW Bush can never be misunderestimated.

  117. August 24, 2009 12:28 PM

    Especially to his fellow astronauts

  118. August 24, 2009 10:43 PM

    I was working on Trafalgar Square yesterday and witnessed the Gormley work of art where people get one hour to stand on the empty plinth. I’ve liked a few of his earlier pieces but this is one of the most dim-witted pieces of work I’ve seen.

    Doesn’t work as visual art – everything is too small – if they are holding a poster to protest about something you can’t read the text.

    Doesn’t work as performance – the participants run out of ideas after about 10 minutes. If they are talking/shouting you can’t hear what the people are saying, The public that are on the square aren’t that interested and why would they be interested in someone checking his emails on a lap-top?

    All it served to highlight was how much thought visual and performance artists ( even the crap ones ) put into their work and how we are nothing without a mobile phone. No doubt an academic is spinning a victory out of this monument to the lack of imagination in a ground-breaking thesis.

    Luckily there were some freelance nutters wandering around the square to show those on the plinth how it should be done. One who’d been carrying drumsticks around all day was delighted when the first England cricket supporters came to celebrate winning the ashes at the bottom of Nelson’s Column. Within seconds his trousers were off treating us to a ring-side view of his “Bob Dole”.

    If anyone here is a full-time resident of London can I commission some form of missile attack on the plinth?

  119. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 24, 2009 11:14 PM

    Thank you for not laughing, Mr Augustine. Doubtless some of the more immature visitors to this place will have had a little smirk. Shame on them.

    It’s hard to believe, Al, that the tiny brain of the fish can out-think the massive (by contrast) capacity of the human equipment, but it happens on a daily basis. How many times have I stood fuming beside a stream and watched the quarry fastidiously ignore the fly, brandling, maggot, piece of bread, shiny button (desperate measures) so carefully presented to it? That chuckling brook beloved of the poets might well be the sardonic laughter of fish. There used to be stories of people who put electrodes into rivers and killed large quantities of our piscine friends. They were alleged to be gangsters who netted the corpses for sale. Anglers driven to psychotic fury by disappointment is my theory.

    Musing on my psychotic hatred of Sting, I suddenly remembered something rather good he said many years ago. When the Police were at the height of their fame, someone asked if he thought they were the new Beatles. ‘Well, maybe the new Hollies’, he said. Not bad.

  120. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 24, 2009 11:50 PM

    I meant to say, Al, that I saw the Angel of the North for the first (in Real Life, that is) time on the journey north this summer. I’ve admired it on TV many times, but found it a little disappointing from the road. I had imagined it would stand majestically dominating the scene, but instead it seemed to rise rather apologetically from its surroundings. Perhaps it’s better heading south, but we took a different route back.

    Those metal chaps standing on the beaches look fantastic. Wish there was a few round the island.

  121. Captain Ned permalink
    August 25, 2009 8:23 AM

    Missile attacks on the plinth? Perhaps the local pigeons are your best bet, Al.

  122. August 25, 2009 8:39 AM

    MM I like the Angel and the one with thousands of tiny clay figures in a big room is extremely strong but the plinth piece is pathetic on all counts.

    As populism it doesn’t attract much interest from passers-by, he seems to have sold the participants short by not giving them the “benefit” of his experience in public artwork – they are left to get on with it and their lack of knowing what to do to strengthen their ideas for the situation are cruelly exposed.

    As a deeper form of art it seems more akin to those Hollywood high-concept movies where a resume of less than 10 words sells the idea.

    Being unphased by most manifestations of modern art I must say I am surprised by how much I dislike this. Perhaps I should focus my ire on something more important.

    Cap’n Ned these days Trafalgear Square has a resident hawk to see off the pigeons. Anyway thank God for the nutters – far more entertaining and “profound”.

  123. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 25, 2009 11:03 AM

    My comically Yorkshireish ma-in-law was scathing about the Angel. ‘Ooooh, it’s so rusty. Why don’t they give it a coat of paint?’

    I can’t see the point of the Trafalgar Square event. Everyone knows people are bloody boring. Why memorialise it?

    It was Ryde Carnival this week, now infiltrated by pro carnival types from Brazil and Notting Hill. Depressingly corporate. In the old days the floats were so horrifically poor you had to like them, and they were all home-made. The hired bands from the mainland really stood out. The Spiderman band were terrific. 30 spidermen marching in formation through the rain playing ‘When the Saints’. An amazing sight.

  124. August 25, 2009 11:26 AM

    Did they play brass instruments? In which case wouldn’t having to lift up the Spiderman mask to get trumpet/trombone/sax mouthpiece onto lips risk exposing their secret identities? If they have solved this dilemma they could be even more amazing than they already sound.

  125. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 25, 2009 12:35 PM

    Check it out. A few years later they appeared as the Batman band. They seem quite a bit fatter now. Too many flies, I suppose.

  126. August 25, 2009 1:21 PM

    Flies bred on fly farms no doubt which means they’ll be fattier than your usual free-range flies.

  127. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 25, 2009 2:56 PM

    You would think that, but in Ireland a few years ago I had a freshly-swatted fly which was much fattier than any farmed fly. Those fly farms, or McDonald’s as I think they are known technically, can produce a very lean insect. I think problems arise when they begin to feed on the burger jockeys, whose sweat is notoriously adipose, consequently upping the fat content of the fly. It’s easy enough to strain out the fly fat during cooking – I recommend sauteeing them in a little oil until the fat runs, straining, and then frying in butter. They go very well with loin of rat, or a rotting badger if you can find one.

  128. August 25, 2009 3:18 PM

    The farmers round my way do a good rotting badger. First illegally shoot or poison them then dump by side of road in order to simulate death by traffic. Then whine to Countryside Alliance or anyone who will listen/take seriously about how townfolk don’t understand the mystical ways of the countryside and its “guardians”.

  129. August 25, 2009 4:59 PM

    Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do.

    1) Daisy, be careful. The abyss gazes also…….

    2) MM, your name is Melton Manlicker

    3) Poem for Zeph: gegs

    4) I only eat trout spawned in Cranach’s Spring of Life. To each fry I whisper a mantra gifted to me by noted Buddhist Ted Nugent.

    5) Polly, your name is Duckula Le Bon (I presume you meant New Romantic).

    6) The plinth nonsense would perhaps have been interesting about ten years ago, before YouTube enabled every inarticulate dope to beam their witterings to millions. Next up, Gormley asks lucky ‘ordinary members of the public’ to express their thoughts in 140 characters or less in a Book of Importance dangling from the Millennium bridge.

    7) Al, we cycled over the German border yesterday and saw a man with dog and hunting gun cocked over his arm. The sort of image that appeared on tins in my grandmother’s pantry. I’m sure he was looking for badgers.

    8) I can’t find any inspiration for PP anymore. The goodbyes and closing poems when Billy shut it down a few months ago seemed to seal the lid on and I can’t get it off again. If someone makes me angry that might help. It always used to.

  130. August 25, 2009 5:37 PM

    Ah well I hope you all liked guessing at my name. The question now is whether I would ever tell you it anyway.

    I’m wondering whether “19th novelist” is a bit like the 13th warrior so I’m thinking DD might be Antonio Kissing Chair… it sounds romantic (I’d have Banderas in a kissing chair any day!).

    I too was surprised the first time I happened upon the Angel of the North, it suddenly appears along the side of the motorway. I’m shocked that it doesn’t result in a massive pile-up every so often though as I actually think it is pretty imposing peering down on all the motorists and I didn’t feel like I had long enough to look at it. One group of scamps managed to put a Shearer shirt on it (Shearer being the other angel of the north) which was pretty impressive.

    The Gormley statues in the sea – are they near Morecambe somewhere? I was disappointed not to find them there, they looked quite wonderful in the pictures that I’ve seen.

    Come on then. If you were on a plinth for a week (is it all day every day in a David Blaine kind of way?) what would you do?

    ExB the poems they come and go – I’ve found that. Mine are gone at the moment (not that they were particularly notable when they were around)

  131. Captain Ned permalink
    August 25, 2009 5:56 PM

    On the subject of PP, I’ve tried to come up with something for each of the topics since its revival, but I’ve not been able to get anywhere. Oh well. There seem to be a lot of new names there, which is good.

    Al, MM – the eating of mature flies, farmed or wild, is frowned upon in gourmet circles. It’s the larvae that are the true delicacy. Pan-fry them with red onions, garlic and a pinch of dried chilli, then serve with rocket, watercress and a dash of mayonnaise. When I asked the head waiter at The Fat Duck if I could have this as a starter, I was shown the door – only for Heston Blumenthal to come running out after me to demand the recipe. I believe it’s on the menu now, at £18 a pop.

  132. freep permalink
    August 25, 2009 6:10 PM

    exitb: I agree about inspiration for PP. Maybe it’s the summer, maybe it is my brain, which has shrunk to walnut size and now rattles. I’ll try again, but somehow the weekly stint made for spontaneity. I like to link odd things together in a poem – seaweed and Triang toys and Polish anarchists and beetles and washing machines and the Duke of Albany and platform 4 at Victoria and pesto sauce. I don’t seem to have had the opportunities to make the connections lately.

    On the Angel: I used to take my son to a guitar teacher in Low Fell whose window overlooked the Angel, and I was present when it was erected. The wings were bolted on, and i have photographs of it with only one wing. It looked rusty then; I fancied it should have been painted in sort of Laura Ashley patterns.

    But as a local, I have to agree with MM – it isn’t in quite the right place. It is good for being seen from the main east coast railway and the A1, but it stands at the edge of a very dull housing estate, looks out over the Team Valley trading estate, and is on a mere grass patch. It should rise from the debris of a scrap metal yard, perhaps. There would have been better places – like on the Town Moor in Newcastle.

    My enthusiasm for it comes and goes as a structure, but it is horribly overused as an emblem of ‘The North’, and appears on every sodding bit of tourist publicity, which makes me loathe it. The Development Corporation’s imagination only extends to pictures of the Angel and the bridges on the Tyne, and the extremely tired slogan ‘Passionate about ….(Gateshead sawmills, Thompson’s Widgets, you name it). When they stick that giant horse up at Ebbsfleet, it will probably be even worse – I feel for the people of Kent. A statue is a statue is a statue; my preference is for generals on horses in city squares, which can be shat upon by pigeons and seagulls and forgotten for 364 days a year.

    Duckula is a decent name. Not very Christian though; I can’t recall a Saint Duckula.

  133. August 25, 2009 6:51 PM

    Duckula ( but you will always be Orville to me ) the Gormley statues are near New Brighton up the coast from Liverpool before Southport.

    For me they are okay, there’s some good barnacling on them but they don’t have the drama of the same figures placed on the London skyline a few year’s back. It’s a nice morning/afternoon/evening out though walking along that beach.

    The rust is the the thing I like best about the Angel – beautiful colour when the sun is shining on it.

  134. August 25, 2009 6:57 PM

    @Ned, Freep

    Glad I’m not alone in feeling the absence of the PP muse.

    @PollyDuckula

    If i was on the plinth for a week I would take a ‘grimrobe’, guitar and stack of amps and play the riff to Black Sabbath’s Supernaut. Not the song. Just the riff. Or I’d do what these guys do:

    I was at this gig. It was an hour and a half, one ‘song’. Audience like dress-down day at Isengard. Earplugs obligitory. Their new album, Monoliths & Dimensions, is good.

  135. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 25, 2009 11:50 PM

    Close but no cigar, ExitB. Clive Cock at your service.

    £18 for a fly amuse-bouche seems very reasonable. I believe Heston sources his flies solely from the corpses of deceased food critics, so their provenance is unquestionable. I hear he has several hanging in his garage.

    Morning’s bringing more than a yawn
    Now it’s troubling my mental health:
    If I have to read another Dawn
    I think I’m going to top myself.

  136. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 26, 2009 12:00 AM

    A chap I knew in Porlock told me he knew a writer who got his inspiration from opium. Got very ratty when disturbed, apparently – threw a bottle at my acquaintance when he knocked at his door to ask for a cup of sugar. Might be worth a try if you’re stuck for a verse or two.

  137. Captain Ned permalink
    August 26, 2009 8:35 AM

    Reminiscences of drug experiences past might make for a good PP subject. It would get anytimefrances’ juices going, at any rate…

    Junkie slaughterers burn in hell!
    What has this country come to I ask?
    Drumming on Gardener’s World hip hop
    Trainspotting urban youth of today
    sicko comic book monster fans
    let loose on impressionable young minds
    Derby Council the worst of the lot
    the psycho scumbags
    they never reply to my letters
    and the BBC no better
    bashed my TV to bits in disgust
    what would IA Richards say?
    etc…

  138. August 26, 2009 9:49 AM

    Mighty satire, Ned. And a good idea for a PP.

  139. August 26, 2009 11:24 AM

    Alarming – New Brighton heh, I’ll look out for them. At least they used the word “new”, I live very close to Portsmouth, but not a coastline or beach in sight, just a dodgy chinese and some ne’er-do-wells.

    CapNed, I misread your post there for a minute, thought you said “last night” instead of “past might” … puts a different complexion on it.

    MM I can see how you could get sick of the dawning now, seems quite a close subject really for the PP this time. I blame that for my lack of inspiration, although I usually manage to finish a poem for it about an hour after the comments section closes, so I could just post the first half and leave people to make the rest up, which brings me to my plinth idea. I think I’d have a basket on a string or a very very long roll of paper and get some kind of poetry game of consequences going on, where passers by could write a line and then I’d write a line etc. and then I could sell the result for lots of profit, even though I only wrote half of it.

  140. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 26, 2009 2:15 PM

    Alarming’s First Drug Experience

    We was in Bristle one Saturday night,
    chap comes up to we and asks for a light,
    here, I knows what you lads is looking for,
    says he, you’m on the town wanting to score.
    Nay, we bain’t be off to football, says we,
    Rovers be away and we hates City.
    No, says he, I ‘spect you be wanting some pot,
    I’m your man, because I’m carrying a lot,
    stronger than Scotch, stronger than the strongest brew,
    better than shagging your favourite ewe.
    What, better than cider, we asked in surprise,
    better than Coates’, says he, I tell you no lies.
    So we buys some off him for fifty quid,
    he gives us the gear and off he slid.
    We decide we’ll put the stuff away
    and save it for the party Saturday.

    Now Eddie’s round his parents’ house one night,
    and goes in the kitchen to get a bite,
    where his mum is crumbling pot in the gravy.
    What you doing, Mother, been’t you crazy,
    that stuff do cost’m fifty quid a go!
    Oh, Edward, don’t be daft, it’s only Oxo!

  141. August 26, 2009 3:21 PM

    Melton Mowbray thinks he’s a pie
    That’s because he’s permanently high
    To stop his thoughts he’ll need a cork
    He thinks his body is made of pork.
    In the rain he’s not really fussed
    He thinks his hair is really a crust.
    To comment further would be obscene
    Especially on the part made of gelatine.

    I realise I’m being unfair
    Using verse inspired by Rupert Bear.
    I’ll stop I’ll jack it all in
    Time to inject my insulin.

  142. August 26, 2009 3:53 PM

    Melton, I’ve added another poem with the word “dawn” – what will be your weapon of choice??

  143. pinkroom permalink
    August 26, 2009 8:10 PM

    …in a nutshell

    Morning dawning,
    sunlight in shards.
    “T’rah me darlin'”.
    “Same old…” charades.

  144. August 26, 2009 10:00 PM

    Morning dawning
    Realisation hits hard
    To make the poem rhyme
    I need the word shard

  145. August 26, 2009 10:02 PM

    I think freep’s right about PP – it was the weekliness that did it. You knew that a) you only had a few days so better get something written, b) everybody only had a few days (unless they cheated and posted a prepared-earlier one) so no need to agonise too much, but c) those other clever bastards were bound to put something good up so you had to give it a bash.

    It set up a sort of rhythm which I found really useful – one or two poems a week, no messing. Now it seems to fade out of view and then one has to make an effort to get into it again. Still, there are some new bods there who seem to be loving it (and some familiar ones doing what they do best).

    I think Billy should have let it lie. But maybe he missed it. Addictive, this interwebbing.

  146. August 26, 2009 10:24 PM

    What happened to the PP anthology? Is it out or has it been mothballed?

  147. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 26, 2009 10:28 PM

    Get out your fork
    Savour this lard
    Taste that pork
    My gelatine shard

  148. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 26, 2009 10:28 PM

    Read your poem with interest, Orville, and I’m still alive. For the moment.

  149. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 26, 2009 11:41 PM

    PP is scaring me now. I’m being propositioned by loose women and a hedgehog. It took me four tries to type that word. Looking forward to the master returning, sardines spilling out of his poacher’s pockets.

    I think the anthology will be (i) arrogantly cancelled out of hand; (ii) postponed with platitudes; (iii) transferred to Man City.

    MM is scaring me now. When my handle was Pork Tornado I would sing a similar ditty to the one above. Though I confess mine was a little more Lemmy and a little less Tim Rice.

  150. August 27, 2009 12:43 AM

    Thank god Melton, for some reason I thought you weren’t talking to me. But those are my sensibilites I’m sure…
    glad to hear you didn’t carry out your threat :-)

  151. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2009 10:50 AM

    You are a cuddly fucker, HLM, it has to be said, but an embrace from sub – Romantic flanneller Martianisms is something to avoid.

    Changed my mind in the early hours. I speak from beyond the grave. It’s bloody hot here.

  152. August 27, 2009 12:26 PM

    It’s raining here – I wonder which version of hell is preferrable? (Yorkshire or hell itself)

  153. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2009 2:56 PM

    I know which one I prefer… trying to talk to Wacko is difficult since half a sentence is lost when the spit revolves and turns him to the charcoal. Anyway, I get the feeling he’s not enjoying it. Still, I think he’s better off than Teddy Kennedy… that has got to hurt. After my fingernails had been torn out (a bit harsh, I thought – the bloke did owe me the money, and he survived even if he did have a bit of a limp) I had the opportunity to wander round and came across a large and elaborate torture chamber under construction. On enquiry I learned that it is intended for Bono and ‘Sir’ Bob Geldof. Beelzebub is not a fan, and nor, it’s whispered, is Jehovah. It seems that He suspects that the gruesome pair are working on a hostile takeover.

  154. InvisibleJack permalink
    August 27, 2009 3:22 PM

    Dearest MeltdownMotown,

    Your designation of me as a “sub-Romantic flanneller” gave me the heartiest laugh all week. I think you could even be right, you’re a very wise man, so you are. Your advice to Henry is also possibly correct as well.

    Anyways, greetings to you all. A nice blog. I like the wallpaper. I trust, Mishari, that you’re enjoying your holiday.

    All my best
    Jack Brae

  155. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2009 3:39 PM

    God, another Washable! Is there no respect for privacy nowadays?

  156. InvisibleJack permalink
    August 27, 2009 3:49 PM

    Privacy? On the internet? On a blog? I was merely following the invitation below: “submit comment”.

    Anyways, best
    and I’ll be gone
    Jack Brae

  157. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 27, 2009 3:58 PM

    …we live in the back
    of the brigitte bardot home
    for stray washables

  158. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2009 4:03 PM

    It’s a joke, Jack. Why don’t you stick around? As his pathetic little sidekick I know the Prince welcomes new contributors. You might enjoy the verse challenges since you have a taste for rhyme.

  159. InvisibleJack permalink
    August 27, 2009 4:25 PM

    Okay Melt, I knew it was a joke, I was merely trying to induce guilt! Seriously, though, I’m going insane on Poster Poems for lack of poetic prodding. I only get it when you stray washables post something, or if DesInTheDress posts one of his irritating hallucinogenic wikipediamosms. Yes, even that lunatic is an occasional distraction. (The poor crathur, he does try so hard.)

    Anyways, I kind of like it here so I hope you’ll keep the hedgehog door open betimes.

    Jack Brae

  160. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2009 5:23 PM

    You’re welcome, Jack. Don’t mind MM. His fierce Malemute territoriality is simply what happens to a chap when his reason is capsized by an unhinged ardour for Portsmouth FC.

  161. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 27, 2009 5:32 PM

  162. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2009 5:37 PM

    Very droll, HLM. What a wag you are…

  163. August 28, 2009 9:19 AM

    Yorkshire or Hell are far more preferable than Bromsgrove, truly evidence of the triumph of the middlebrow – shudders return more violently than before.

Comments are closed.