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A Chant Royal By Zéphirine

September 30, 2009

Matisse, Nude, 1941

My call for Chants Royal inspired our friend Zéphirine to gift us with this witty, charming, cunningly wrought gem. The lightly mocking, conversational tone is hard enough to inject into so structured a poetic form. To maintain that tone over five long rhyming stanzas demands extraordinary finesse. Happily for us, Zéphirine has that finesse in abundance.


A recently published study has revealed that women have 237 reasons for having sex.

Gentlemen, who have pondered on the cause
Of women’s passions, and what lies behind
Those sudden freezes and less frequent thaws,
Why Friday’s vamp is Monday’s disinclined;
If you were thinking that you’d maybe missed
Some hidden motives – reasons must exist
Could you but find them – ones that would pertain
To why we sometimes do, sometimes abstain,
Experts have now an answer to supply:
It’s quite precise – there are, so they maintain
Two hundred and thirty seven reasons why.

It seems we women long to get our claws
On one of two types. Only two now, mind!
Ah, but we must pay heed, not look for flaws,
The Experts have us females well defined.
Their theories must not lightly be dismissed
For they are Experts and should not be dissed.
Type Number One may often be quite plain
But it’s his income which we ascertain
Is bound to put a twinkle in our eye.
Remember there are (although it sounds inane)
Two hundred and thirty seven reasons why.

We drool at sight of a pre-nuptial clause
As Mr Ugly keeps us wined and dined.
And Mister Rich could look a bit like Jaws
He’d still find girls willing, though unrefined.
It seems we ladies simply can’t resist
Someone who brings some diamonds to a tryst.
A resource benefit, the term mundane
Describes the man and not his private plane,
The Experts say we really won’t be shy –
Platinum cards remind us yet again:
Two hundred and thirty seven reasons why.

The other type we like as paramours
Won’t surprise anyone who isn’t blind:
Young Master Gorgeous makes us drop our drawers.
(No mention’s made of Handsome and Rich combined,
The Experts perhaps unable to enlist
Respondents who were willing to assist –
Speechless that they had managed to attain
Both cute companion and financial gain,
These lucky girls could only smirk and sigh).
In scientific detail, lists contain
Two hundred and thirty seven reasons why.

They cite some motives which draw no applause,
Revenge and spite, betrayal most unkind,
And some which make you think they clutched at straws:
To get the lawn mown, have they lost their mind?
Of course, there’s always being Brahms and Liszt,
Believing that you’ve got to, now you’ve kissed,
The sort of thinking which can leave a jane
Pushing a pram containing Baby Wayne.
Enough! These foolish rules I must decry!
These Experts have a shortage in the brain:
“Two hundred and thirty seven reasons why.”


So, gentlemen, this speculation’s vain –
To save you from an ill-advised campaign
Here is a simple method to apply:
Just say you love us, then, with care, explain
Two hundred and thirty seven reasons why.

  1. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:12 PM

    WTG, Zeph. Brilliant.

    Now, bring on the pigs…

  2. September 30, 2009 4:14 PM

    Hear, hear. Extraordinary work.

    Okay then, me next…hmm…anyone know a rhyme for sparse?

  3. September 30, 2009 4:24 PM

    Top notch work Zeph.

  4. mishari permalink*
    September 30, 2009 4:38 PM

    Sparse? Hmmmmmm…bit of a poser. Hang on! What’s that thing at the back of your lap called? Oh….gluteus maximus? Really? Never mind…

  5. September 30, 2009 4:43 PM


  6. mishari permalink*
    September 30, 2009 4:48 PM

    Check out Al’s and The Whalley Range All-Stars’ new show:

  7. September 30, 2009 5:07 PM

    Thank you for adding the acute accent, Mishari! Mostly I don’t bother, but I feel that when one is Featured…

  8. mishari permalink*
    September 30, 2009 5:32 PM

    Well, exactly…if one’s doing it, one might as well get it right. I wish you’d mentioned my mispelling of your blogroll link. I just never noticed.

    But you’ll see that I’ve corrected the spelling and added the acute accent…I only wish I’d noticed before.

    It’s been sitting there, mis-spelled for the last 9 months. I feel like an idiot.

  9. September 30, 2009 6:30 PM

    Well, that was only the once and in very small print, I didn’t feel inclined to be picky. Life being, after all, quite short.

  10. September 30, 2009 7:13 PM

    Zeph this poem is totally brilliant! I’m in awe of you all.

  11. Captain Ned permalink
    September 30, 2009 8:16 PM

    Another addition to the chorus of praise here; it seems so effortless, yet the skill is daunting.

  12. September 30, 2009 8:43 PM

    It didn’t feel effortless at 2.00 this morning when I was trying to find another rhyme ending in -ain! It’s all a plot by Mishari to get the rest of us to share his insomniac lifestyle.
    Thanks for the praise, folks, it’s appreciated.

  13. mishari permalink*
    September 30, 2009 8:53 PM

    Mwahahahahahaha…at the sound of my voice, you are getting, erm…unsleepy…(cough)…your eyelids are getting lighter, you can hardly keep your eyes closed…when I snap my fingers, you will write a sestina about pigs…

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:37 PM

    Fabulous poem, Zeph. I still have your ‘Falling Rain’ poem saved. I’ll have to add this one to it. If you don’t mind, of course.

  15. September 30, 2009 10:10 PM

    Feel free, MM. I hope they’ll sustain you in hours of need:))

  16. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:53 PM

    I don’t have any other sorts of hours.

    Somehow I miscounted the number of rhymes I would need to complete the Chant, so I’ve had to start again. I’m looking at next Tuesday for delivery.

  17. mishari permalink*
    September 30, 2009 11:13 PM

    I don’t have any other sorts of hours.

    As an encapsulisation of modern man’s fate–anomie, weltschmerz, alienation, isolation–and a deafening cri de coeur, it brought a tear to my eye…or it would have, but for my anomie, weltschmerz, etc. etc.

    Perhaps a quick trip to the beach will lift your spirits. A brief and ultimately futile gesture…but in the face of an indifferent universe, you must torpidly shake your flaccid fist now and again…

  18. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:35 PM

    I was down the beach yesterday. After wading through the piles of plastic bottles, bits of tarry rope, condoms, chunks of polystyrene etc I looked across Spithead, spotted here and there with islands of green froth, at the gigantic container ships heading for Southampton Water. Then I realised I was standing on, or in, a dead dogfish. Thalatta, thalatta.

  19. mishari permalink*
    October 1, 2009 12:18 AM

    BTW, MM, I also included the remake of The Taking Of Pelham 123, with Denzil Washington again and Travolta as the Robert Shaw character.

    I haven’t watched it yet myself. but I think it’s Ridley’s younger sibling Tony directing. His hyper-kinetic style quite suits action/thrillers…

    How Cameron cosied up to Murdoch & Son

    Andy McSmith: The Sun’s decision to turn against Labour was the reward for years of shrewd politicking and social networking by the Tory leader and his team. –Indy, today

    Either Andy McSmith is an imbecile or he thinks his readers are imbeciles. In ’97, Murdoch read the entrails and saw a Labour Govt. looming…presto-change-o..The Sun Supports Labour.

    Murdoch has now consulted Mystic Meg and foreseen a Tory Govt…abracadabra…Sun gives Labour the elbow.

    If you took this idiot McSmith seriously, you’d come away with the preposterous notion that the Sun and Murdoch act on principle. Listening to New Labour’s accusations of ‘disloyalty’ and ‘betrayal’ tell you all you need to know about these clowns’ grasp of reality.

    Loyalty to a transitory political party from Murdoch…? A man who became an American for business reasons? Didn’t the intellectual titan (®P. Toynbee) Gordon Brown or his alleged ‘Machiavelli’ Mandelson see this coming? Are they even stupider than I thought? Answers on a ballot paper please…

  20. October 1, 2009 9:34 AM

    The original Pelham film has Jerry Stiller in it, better known as George Costanza’s dad in Seinfeld. It’s a good, tense film but for me it is now impossible to watch him in it without thinking of Festivus and the bra for men he invented with Kramer.

  21. October 1, 2009 9:43 AM


    Fair Circe cast her pearls before the swine.
    Th’enchanted wondered: Diabolical? Divine?

    — Ronsard

    • parallax permalink
      October 1, 2009 4:28 PM

      Wasn’t Ronsard deaf as a post?

      I paraphrase: ‘The Romantic revival adopted Ronsard as a kind of battle-cry, and for the moment exaggerated his merits somewhat’

      ‘and for the moment’ – what does that mean? Are we talking degrees of coolness? Is he already the-new-last-season’s black?

      TC? – you have the answers – you set up the question.

  22. mishari permalink*
    October 1, 2009 9:49 AM

    That’s right. Mind you, Stiller’s one of those actors who was always working; likewise the actor who played Jerry’s dad (too lazy to google him). They’re always popping up in stuff.

    The original film was an excellent thriller, taut and fast-paced. Shaw was a suitably amoral bad guy and Matthau was great as the rumpled, world-weary, dogged cop. I haven’t watched the remake yet but I doubt it’s as good.
    BTW, If you see mention of anything you’d fancy a copy of, Al, don’t hesitate to say so…

    Did you ever see a Mike Nichols film called (I think) A New Leaf? It stars Matthau as a millionaire playboy who suddenly loses all his money and decides to bag a rich wife (and murder her). The rich wife was played by the wonderful Elaine May. A very entertaining film.

  23. October 1, 2009 10:31 AM

    Elaine May is also really good in Woody Allen’s Small Time Crooks – the last film of his I’ve seen that had a vestige of comic energy. Since then of the ones I’ve seen the story outlines have been perfectly promising but also lacked any inspired comic detail in them.

  24. mishari permalink*
    October 1, 2009 11:14 AM

    I enjoyed Small Time Crooks, despite the presence of The Floppy Hair With An Agent. Elaine May used to do these great routines with Mike Nichols (as Nichols & May). I think they were actually married. She did a lot of the writing, too. A very talented woman.

    I can’t help thinking that Woody Allen has milked his schtick (the down-trodden nebbish) dry and I got bored with his parochialism. He evidently thinks that because his parish is NYC, anything that concerns or interests or baffles him must be, a priori, ‘sophisticated’. I mean, geez…it’s Manhattan, the physical expression of the very concept of ‘urbane’.

    But, really, he’s every bit as provincial and insular as William Faulkner or Philip Larkin. Mind you, he has gone ‘Euro’ on us lately. Dunno if this is a good thing…

  25. October 1, 2009 11:18 AM

    Tom, I hope you’re not referring to the fine denizens of this site as swine?! I shall be hoping to write a pearl about swine at some point in the near future.

    Alarming, I find your head in a shed a wee bit scary. Is it just me? Or do small children in the audience break out into sudden howls?

    I saw A New Leaf a long time ago and remember that I really liked it but can remember almost nothing else about it.

  26. October 1, 2009 11:24 AM

    Zeph most of the kids who see it are fascinated often to the point of not wanting to leave at the end when it’s over but we do get the odd howler-out-louder. I would say though that the general reaction is how sweet and dream-like the show is! I’m happy with the dream-like bit but am undecided about the sweetness of it so it’s good to know it gives you a frisson. That’s intentional. It’s 25 minutes long so the YouTube clip is a segment.

    Mish if the Euro-Allen ones I’ve seen are anything to go by he’s better off in NY.

  27. mishari permalink*
    October 1, 2009 11:33 AM

    Yeah, I wondered at that. I assumed (rightly or wrongly) that Tom was getting in a dig (he does it quite a lot) at what he perceives to be our hopelessly pedestrian conversations about films, music, TV; the gossip and crude jokes; that we are unworthy of your poem, vulgarians that we are.

    Maybe he’s right. PH is what it is. I keep telling him that it isn’t ever going to be the online reflection of Plato’s Symposium but what the hell does he think The Mermaid Tavern was like? Or the Algonquin Round Table? Or Villon’s local boozer?

    Reading the Ezra Pound/ee cummings letters not long ago, I was struck by how much of their conversation was simple gossip, back-biting and scurrilous innuendo.

    Sadly, PH is never going to be a haven of pure nobility of intellect and nothing but ‘big’ ideas and concerns. I hope you don’t feel soiled, Zeph…and I will be wanting a porcine themed poem from you in the very near future as I intend to make our giant inflatable pig the subject of poetic sinew-straining…

  28. October 1, 2009 12:16 PM

    Only a minor dig, I thought, Mishari, from one sleep-deprived soul to another perhaps.

  29. mishari permalink*
    October 1, 2009 12:31 PM

    Oh, I know…but the effect is cumulative (not that it’s a big deal; I’m very fond of the miserable bastard). Of course, having been Poetry Editor of The Paris Review for 10 years has, I think, made Tom a little less tolerant of the ‘Coming-In-On-A-Wing-And-A-Prayer’ school of editorship that I subscribe to. Plenty of cheap seats at the back of the plane and may as well crack open those duty-free bottles now kind of trip. Smoke? Hell, yes you can smoke

    Being an optimistic sort, I expect he’ll eventually just accept that PH is what it is and is probably shaped more by the people who post here than it is by me and that’s the way I like it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    In the mean time, keep swinish thoughts to the front of your mind (in the nicest possible way, of course)…

  30. October 1, 2009 2:31 PM

    Right I’m going to have a damn go at a chant royal (one for the lower end of the market though I warn and it’ll take me weeks), am I right in thinking that there is no set number of syllables in each line?

  31. freep permalink
    October 1, 2009 3:25 PM

    I think at least one syllable per line; unwise to attempt more than 18.

  32. mishari permalink*
    October 1, 2009 5:02 PM

    One syllable per line? I’m intrigued by the thought. I wonder if it can be done? And make some kind of sense, I mean. Interesting challenge…

    But, yeah, Poll…give it a bash. Even if it doesn’t entirely please you (and speaking for myself, I’ve never in my life written anything that did)…well, so what? It’s good excercise. Plus, of course, you can use it to bludgeon your artistically-inclined friends:

    Arty Friend: “Hey, Polly. Long time, no see. What’ve you been up to?”

    Polly: “Oh, I’ve been working on my chant royal cyle. It’s a history of Hereward the Wake. I’m up to poem 57 but the sources become very unclear at that point. Ely Cathedral have been most helpful but…”

    Arty Friend: “………(Awed silence. Touches hem of Polly’s garment.)”

    See? What’s not to like?

  33. October 1, 2009 5:15 PM

    Hee hee hee… I can’t answer for laughing…

  34. October 1, 2009 10:41 PM

    From an initial attempt I can report that getting the form of a sestina right is not as hard as making it into an interesting poem, which seems very hard indeed indeed. Potential for boredom is high. I love Provence, I thought the folk of the Midi were supposed to be laidback and carefree, what were they doing creating all these nightmare verse forms?

  35. mishari permalink*
    October 1, 2009 10:46 PM

    Abundant nature, sunshine, too much goddamn free time on their hands. You’re right about the sestina, though (my take, anyway)…

    The difficulty is not the form itself, which I think is relatively easy to master…no, the real difficulty is, given the constraints imposed by the form, writing a poem that’s worth reading…

  36. October 1, 2009 10:54 PM

    Polly I’ve dined out for years on the fact that I even know what a chant royal is.

    Luckily all those who I’ve impressed with my…. ahem…… knowledge of poetic forms have never read any of my efforts – my chant royal was more like a whinge from next door.

    Zeph re: the folk from Provence. The mass no-show in the afternoons is obviously more to do with staying in working on poems with tricky constructions than avoiding the heat of the afternoon sun.

  37. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 1, 2009 10:54 PM

    Yes, finding the material to fill the poem is a challenge in itself. Paradise Lost would have been about a page and a half if I’d written it.

  38. October 1, 2009 11:02 PM

    Yes I’m finding it difficult thinking of anything worth reading… mind you it’s never troubled me before!

  39. mishari permalink*
    October 1, 2009 11:09 PM

    When facing paper that’s accusingly blank,
    Your muse needs a bloody good shove;
    Here’s a hot tip you can take to the bank:
    Just write some old shite about ‘love’.

  40. October 1, 2009 11:39 PM

    It worked the trick for moi
    I put some lerv in my Envoi

    Hm, yes, a whole new perspective on Jean de Florette “Aha, Papet, we ‘av to drive zis nasty ‘unchback townie from the village, ‘e is better than us at ze recurring rhyme-schemes.” “Exactement, Hugolin, I passed by his farm zis afternoon and he was writing a double sestina! C’est trop!”

  41. October 2, 2009 8:41 AM

    Perhaps many those accused of collaborating with the Nazi’s and not fighting with the Maquis were merely staying at home polishing their villanelles and searching for a suitable rhyme for gonflable.


    There are many words I’d put in the dock
    One of those would be spatchcock
    Fruity, over cutie-cutie
    It never performs a decent duty.

    There are many words I’d denounce from the bar
    One of those ISN’T feldspar.
    Of preciousness there isn’t a hint
    It’s sharp as a blade, as hard as flint.

    About many words I don’t give a toss
    If they fell out the dictionary t’would be no loss.
    Beige (I think you mean ‘paramour’–Ed.), frightfully, fob and amplest
    Do we still use them? I hadn’t noticed.

  42. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 2, 2009 10:13 AM

    Thanks for the Pelham 123, sir.

    Recent posts, Al, recent posts. Pretty Fly For A Beige Guy, what? A word often used by the younger element to describe the decor of the Mowbray residence.

  43. October 2, 2009 10:34 AM

    MM You read the blog posts before rushing to comment???? How terribly April 2008 of you.

    Plus since I haven’t yet got round to bugging your residence it is hardly surprising I wouldn’t have noticed the disdain levelled at your interior furnishings from your progeny expressed in the word beige. Damn! I just used it too you are correct. Put paramour in the line instead.

  44. October 2, 2009 11:33 AM

    Agree about spatchcock. ‘Squashed’ would be perfectly adequate in a chicken context.

    I’d like to abolish the word ‘eponymous’. Infuriatingly over-used and almost invariably redundant.

  45. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 2, 2009 11:51 AM

    You know how passionate I am about the language, Al. Just picking up a couple of publications I have to hand I find:

    Tracy, 29, has some of the amplest assets this side of Pinner…

    Switch off that amp lest you electrocute yourself, said Kevin Ayers, leader of the eponymous band…

    It’s frightfully easy to find other examples.

  46. October 2, 2009 12:05 PM

    MM for passionate about the language I assume you really mean nothing much to do of a Friday lunchtime – I know I do.

  47. mishari permalink*
    October 2, 2009 12:24 PM

    Spatchcock is not a word I’ve ever used for anything in any context but eponymous can be useful. Like Abba or Tony Blair, it’s only tolerable in miniscule amounts (i.e. none).

    I see Bambi the War Criminal is jockeying to become the first Euro President, infamous sack of shit that he is. Never happen, of course. The Euro-Weenies hate Blair almost as much as I do…but just in case, can we not train our Giant EuroPig to eat him?

  48. October 2, 2009 3:28 PM

    Training a Pig to eat a ham, wouldn’t that be cannibalism?

  49. mishari permalink*
    October 2, 2009 10:38 PM

    Well… now that ExitB’s instant classic has arrived (leaving me damn near speechless with admiration), I think that about does it. Everyone I expected to produce a chant royal has done so…and what a crop.

    I think it’s fair to say you’ve all outdone yourselves. I don’t think Al is going to bother but, hey…that’s frosty, dude…

    He is, after all, the hereditary Keeper of The Euro Pig, a position that imbues him with great power, both temporal and spiritual. He has loftier things on his mind than verse exercises.

    The fabric of Space/Time means no more to Al than a marzipan sword means to Conan The Barbarian; no more than the Oxford English Dictionary means to John Prescott; no more than…(yeah, yeah, yeah…we get it, already..time to move on–Ed.) ; Al and The Giant Inflatable Pig of Destiny may save us all yet.

    Para won’t produce one because he regards it as a dog and pony show: alright if you’re a dog or pony, not alright if you’re a lone art raptor, the Australian Lyrical Bald Fish Eagle, Aquila fasciata g’day mate.

    The ALBFE sails above the landscape of the mundane, changing course with a flick of its 4 metre wings; seeking a rising thermal to carry it higher than Everest, from which eminence it scans the world below, seeking aught of interest.

    Something’s moving! He swoops! There’s a loud ‘BANG!’. He drops like a stone.

    After the Chinese poachers have gutted and plucked him, he’ll be turned into various traditional remedies, mostly with a view to stiffening the flaccid peckers of Peking.

    Now who’s sorry he didn’t write a chant royal?

    The quality of these chants royal is so high, indeed, that I believe each one merits its own post with a suitable image selected by me; as always, the final say about your work goes to you. If you’d like a revision or addition or subtraction-whatever: say the word. Don’t care for the image I’ve chosen? Ditto: choose your own or have me chose another.

    I’ll be posting them all seperately over at Art Pepper’s Poetry Hell in the next couple of days unless anyone objects (HLM’s is already up. I do hope he doesn’t object)…

    BTW, I received THIS heart-warming link from our old friend @Iamnothere. I defy you to view it and not go, ‘…aaawwwwwww’.

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 2, 2009 11:13 PM

    Highly talented persons such as Ofile and Daisy might yet check in, and we’re promised Polly’s in a few weeks.

    What a wonderful show Mad Men is. I keep expecting Cary Grant to pop up calling his mother.

  51. October 2, 2009 11:22 PM

    Such is the quality of the poems and so little is the time I have between bouts of touring that this time I really have had to hold my hand up and admit the task is beyond me. Our “summer” tour finishes in November – unusually long summer this year especially as in the UK we barely seemed to have had a summer at all. Perhaps this what you mean by the fabric of time meaning so little to me.

    As I type this I can hear them droning on about the Booker short-list on the Late Review – must load the 12 bore and go and fire a few shots at them all.

  52. mishari permalink*
    October 2, 2009 11:29 PM

    Very true and doubtless their contributions will be of the same high standard as we’ve already had. They too shall be translated to glory, i.e. posted in all their pomp over @Poetry Hell. Have you had a look? I’m rather pleased with the picture I found for HLM’s poem (Jacques Louis David’s Mars being disarmed by Venus and the Graces)

    Yes, Mad Men is a rare treat, witty and stylish. Eps. 6&7 are on their way. Because there was still a fair bit of room, I burned The Best of Albert King, a personal selection of Nu Bossa (aural sunshine) and a set of more obscure works by Ravel, Poulenc and Debussy (a 6 CD set). Hope you find something to your taste in those.

  53. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 2, 2009 11:43 PM

    HLM’s picture is quite spectacular. I suppose you have a Mapplethorpe picked out for me. Thanks for the DVDs. When I saw the initial premise for Mad Men I couldn’t have been less interested- advertising, Madison Avenue, 50s/60s- blurgh. How wrong I was.

    Reading your account of tolls across Europe a while ago, Al, I was thinking that you must cover more of Europe in a year than most people do in a lifetime. Can we expect a memoir one day?

  54. mishari permalink*
    October 2, 2009 11:47 PM

    ‘Here lies one whose name was writ in motorway coffee…’

    Ever read DeLillo’s White Noise? I’m re-reading it for the first time in 20-odd years. I’d forgotten how funny it is…

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 3, 2009 12:00 AM

    The one with Lee Harvey Oswald (can’t remember the name) is the limit of my exposure to him. It clearly didn’t make much impression.

  56. mishari permalink*
    October 3, 2009 12:25 AM

    That would be Libra. I won’t proseletyze. Suffice it to say, I think he’s definitely more rewarding than Dan Brown or Zadie Smith or even, dare I say it without the Wrath of Rosen descending on my head, Jordan…

  57. pinkroom permalink
    October 3, 2009 1:20 AM

    Would be honoured to have my chant assigned a pic in such stellar company… anything you feel appropriate.

    Only changes a random full stop got stuck fat fingered into and on verse 1 line 11 and in verse 5 I repeated the word “man” as a rhyme (fucketty fuck… it really is a bastard form). Might it be replaced with the proper noun “Dan” giving the persona a name and also anticipating/playing with the idea of the dansette… a one time staple in the art of seduction… Songs for Young Lovers/Swing Easy ready to spin.

    On a vaguely related note I have lately become strangely/heavily addicted to the later @Reprise@ era Sinatra I once strongly disliked. Am I alone in this or do I need help??? Where once I only found bum notes and bombast I’m now finding almost operatic drama and sonic range… real heart at the very moment he started endorsing Goldwater/Reagan etc. Is it just me getting older and more twisted, or is there genuine merit in these songs?

    Can any one help me? (Worried of Gaswork’s Green)

  58. mishari permalink*
    October 3, 2009 1:33 AM

    OK PR, I’m going to fix those issues you raised, then go hunting for a suitable image. I suggest you check Poetry Hell a bit later and if there are still any problems just leave me a comment with your instructions.

    It might be worth mentioning that you can, if you like, keep changing words, lines, whole verses from now until the death of the internet, so don’t feel pressured. You can tinker as much as you like, for as long as you like, until you’re happy with it (although, personally, I’d be happy with it as is).

    Just briefly, I like the later Reprise recordings. Like all great singers, whatever Sinatra lost in range and strength as he aged, he more than made up for with the increased subtlety of phrasing, masterly timing, etc etc…

  59. pinkroom permalink
    October 3, 2009 1:51 AM

    thanks for that… I look forward to my descent to Hell, where no doubt Frank is currently crooning away to Larry, Richard, Ron Nancy etc… in a crimson hair-piece no doubt. Strange thing about those later recordings is that he’s often actually singing rather crooning… tonsils lubricated by Chivas RegalI expect.

  60. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    October 3, 2009 7:36 AM

    Many thanks for the showcase and the pic, which eerily captures my life, permanently surrounded by women as I am. The Mars figure looks more like Kevin Keegan/Pete Townshend than me, but the codpiece-swallowing, pecker-pecking seagull makes me wince, so true to life is the scene.

    Heavy few days in prospect, with more cop shows and a comedy film to knock out for Tuesday, and my ever-lovin’s 50th to celebrate at Longchamps tomorrow. I had to step between the dead bodies in the small room we inhabit on my way to the cellar. Chances of a freeform pig paean in the maeantime, therefore, are slim.

    Listening to Watertown. Suits the fairly bleak Madmen-colored world today.

  61. October 3, 2009 9:31 AM

    I couldn’t get on with Mad Men. I know it’s good, the art direction and costumes are spot on but it was one classy US series too many for me. Have reverted back to chortling at the Simpsons and gawping at Match of the Day for my TV pleasures.

    MM Touring memoir? “I know why the ping pong ball pings” – a reflection on bad and ruinously expensive UK motorway food, feeling like a spoilt child at European festivals and the continuing incompetence of staff at Premier Inns. No names to drop, it starts off briskly but then gets bogged down in a solipsistic debate on whether Google maps are better than the town centre maps that promoters used to send you ( no they are not is the answer to that so you can skip that passage ) before ending at a gallop. For some reason the author gets emotional everytime Portugal is mentioned. Word of mouth is that the public like the pig-shaped format of the book itself.

  62. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 3, 2009 11:32 AM

    I had a sexed-up Good Companions in mind, Al, with a Euro-dimension. Taylor’s Travels? Travels With My Pig?

  63. October 3, 2009 11:38 AM

    Perhaps you could ghost-write it for me MM ??? Seems to be the current trend for “novelists” these days – have you seen the Martine McCutcheon threads on the Lost in Showbiz blogs? Hilarious. Martine’s writing style makes Katie Price’s efforts ( or the person who writes Katie Price’s efforts ) look good …..almost.

  64. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 3, 2009 12:11 PM

    Sorry, I’m fully committed to Sting – My Life And Campaigns.

    As Trudi and I sat on our mahogany thrones before a fire of blazing teak logs, watching our servants tearing down and burning the temporary wooden palace I had erected for our anniversary party, I reflected again on the irresponsible destruction of the rainforests by governments across the world…

  65. October 3, 2009 12:22 PM

    Alarming, I’m glad it’s not just me, I didn’t get Mad Men either. I’m not trying to be contrarian, being after all one of those sad people who sometimes blog about The Wire I am, like, well zeitgeisty and quite happy on a bandwagon. It just didn’t draw me in.

  66. mishari permalink*
    October 3, 2009 1:32 PM

    I love them both, although I’ve said many times (and still maintain) that The Wire is the greatest TV drama ever made. I considered that maybe it’s an age thing–MM and I are of an age–but I think Al is about the same age as us.

    Mind you, MM loves The Bill, which has me reaching for the remote. I suppose living on the IOW, where Ealing Studios sent its screen coppers to retire (“Mornin’, Mr. Mowbray. Just come to warn you…some boys have been scrumpin’ apples round this way..”), MM finds the tribulations and psychodramas of big city cops impossibly glamorous. To me, they’re just uniformed thugs who drive too fast and are a bit too handy with their truncheons.

    Two of today’s irritants:

    1.) Why does the creepy Andy Burnham (I’m listening to Question Time) keep saying ‘…I genuinely believe…” (my emphasis)? Is it a subtle way of aknowledging that he doesn’t believe all the other drivel he spouts?

    2.) In yesterdays Standard, which I scanned today, a story began ‘…Tony Blair is on course to become EU president within weeks, senior government sources signalled today…’.

    Aside from the patent absurdity of this claim (Blair’s only support will come from Berlusconi, a crook and a buffoon and Sarkozy, a man who wears lifts in his shoes), what made me spit was the phrase ‘…senior govt sources signalled..’. Signalled? Signalled how? Semaphore? Aldiss Lamps. Flaming beacons? Bah…

  67. October 3, 2009 2:20 PM

    I think with these boxed set style series you have to make a commitment to watch them and I can’t find the time at the moment, plus Mad Men is just a tad too undramatic for me – though I’m sure regular viewers find it absorbing and finely nuanced.

    Not having a satellite dish I remained impervious and unknowing as to the charms of the Wire and probably would have remained so had not a friend given me series 1 as an Xmas present.

    Politically in Cameron I think we will get the first government in power about whom no-one apart from die-hard true-blues really cares for. I think the country shares your visceral dislike of Labour Mishari but as news comes in the Tories seem far worse day by day. As seen in the incredible intellectual gymnastics they are attempting in trying to give their new friends in the EC credibility. As seen in the “insurance” scheme for new home owners ( how will sufficient interest be paid on the £8,000 initial sum if the interest rate is as it currently is? ). They’ve got away with it because Labour has been so duff on a national level and they haven’t had any policies to display.

  68. mishari permalink*
    October 3, 2009 2:38 PM

    The thing is, Al, what are natural Labour voters like me to do when the party has long ago abandonded us? Labour stands for nothing except the perpetuation of their own power. Policy is now made by an unelected toady aboard the yachts of seedy Russian oligarchs and in the holiday homes of Rothschilds.

    Labour have proven to be enthusiastic war-mongers, slavish hand-maidens to bankers, willing conspirators in the corporate security plan to criminalise all of us, shifty pocket-liners and hypocrites…the list is seemingly endless.

    The only way they’ll ever reform and return again to some semblance of a ‘Labour’ party is a long spell out of power and a complete purge of all these odious New Labour scum. The longer they remain in power, the worse they get.

    The Tories will be a disaster, of course, but will serve as a useful reminder to people of what they’re really like. There is no other way, Al. Best we can hope for is a hung Tory/LibDem house. Whatever. Labour must not be allowed anywhere near the levers of power for a long time.

  69. October 3, 2009 2:39 PM

    “The fact of the matter is”
    “To be quite honest”
    “I genuinely believe”
    “I can honestly say”
    why would you need to say any of these if you were actually being honest?

    I am amused at the little game that’s been going on lately between politicians of all stripes and Paxman, where they say “No, but just let me finish my point” before he’s interrupted them. I think Mandelson did it first but now they’ve all picked it up.

  70. InvisibleJack permalink
    October 3, 2009 2:40 PM

    Hi Mish and friends

    Just back from a few days of hell. Just been reading quickly through the posts in order to catch up. Do you want us to write a sestina about pigs and post it here or are you going to open a new thread? I suspect that you intend to start a new thread so I’ll wait ahile and see what transpires. Anyways, at present there’s not a single idea or a single pig in my head.

    Jack Brae

  71. mishari permalink*
    October 3, 2009 2:49 PM

    Yeah, I noticed that, too, Zeph. It’s quite amusing seeing the look of incredulity on Paxo’s face as he attempts to process this new wrinkle but I reckon he’ll soon become exasperated with the tactic and start caning the bastards when they try it.

    Nah, Jack. Asking for a sestina hot on the heels of a chant royal would be trying peoples tolerance, I think.
    Not that I doubt you lot could do it. It’ll just be pig-themed verses and it’ll be a new thread. I hope you approve of the picture I chose to accompany your chant royal?

  72. InvisibleJack permalink
    October 3, 2009 2:55 PM

    Hi Mish

    What a lovely surprise! I’ve just been over to Art Pepper’s Poetry Hell and I very much approve indeed. Think the choices of illustration all round are just wonderful. I love the fact that all the Chant Royals are there together, they look very well all in a row like soldiers in the poet’s army. Gladdened the heart of this poor poet.

    Jack Brae

  73. pinkroom permalink
    October 3, 2009 3:03 PM

    Seconds Jack… liking my image… like something kept in a wallet for 40 years

  74. mishari permalink*
    October 3, 2009 3:08 PM

    The image was a bit straight-forward, PR, so I manipulated it a bit to give it that worn/dreamy look…glad you both approve.

  75. October 3, 2009 3:35 PM

    Mishari Your logic is correct but aren’t we just replacing something worn out and rotten with something more rotten?

    On a national level Labour has been a disgrace but on a local level I don’t think they have been that bad. Of course any kind of politics is not without corruption but I think once in power the Tories are going to re-draw the boundaries, banish the Scots behind the border and that will be that for Labour in Westminster.

  76. mishari permalink*
    October 3, 2009 4:00 PM

    Perhaps that’s as it should be, Al. If a party no longer serves any useful purpose then it deserves oblivion. If Labour are effective at the local level, then doubtless voters at the local level will keep electing them. As a national party, Labour are utterly pointless. Worse, actually: they’re a fucking menace..

    Trident, ID cards and increased govt spying on us are enough reason to send them to the knackers. Something else will rise from the ashes–perhaps a genuine socialist party. Make a nice change.

  77. October 3, 2009 4:26 PM

    Well locally isn’t it more the case that people use their vote to register complaint against the national party and so people who are worthily chiselling away at particular problems get dumped because of this? That’s what’s happened round my neck of the woods and it always seems a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face.By all means dump your MP if h/she isn’t doing a good job but this seems perverse. And the ones who have been crap like Hazel Blears carry on. Nothing has been achieved except a dilution of voting patterns and the slow creeping up of really nasty politics.

  78. mishari permalink*
    October 3, 2009 4:40 PM

    Not around here, Al. The Labour MP (Blairite toady and war-monger Oona King) got the boot, exactly as we told her she would if she disregarded our (her employer’s) wishes. The local council, however, were returned with a Labour majority.

    I have a dream and in the dream, I can write like this.

  79. October 3, 2009 4:56 PM

    Going back a few posts:

    While some are making hay,
    With homely Doris Day;
    I’ll be making barley,
    With Claudia Cardinale.

  80. October 3, 2009 5:00 PM

    That is the problem exactly, I want labour as my local authority, but it pains me that this is also a vote for Gordon Brown. I think the focus has to be on what’s best locally, this is where things can change quickly. A new party has to settle into central government and work through the existing policies before they can start bringing in fresh ones of their own. I think this was the problem with labour, they promised all sorts of change and then couldn’t deliver because of the legacy of the tories and the fact that it’s never as easy as you imagined it would be from the outside to put ideals in to practice. All the parties strike their flags in particular places along the political line, but when it comes to actually running the country I think they all find the groove down the centre’s been hollowed out and looks nice and safe.

    I shall base my vote on local policies and hope they also have some decent central policies and pretty much ignore whatever slippery creature is telling lies on the telly – they all the same anyway.

    Melton – I think a revised estimate on the Chant is about a month!!

  81. October 3, 2009 5:22 PM

    When Diana Dors ruled the earth
    We thought we knew what MP’s were worth
    We rushed to vote without interruption
    Untroubled by thoughts of corruption.

    We need a new throw of the dice
    Diana was decapitated it’s now Katie Price
    Her values as cheap as her chest is plastic
    A sign that the situation has turned drastic.

    We’re without a decent figurehead
    The Tories are foul, Labour is dead
    Any way you turn you meet dead ends
    So vote for your childhood imaginary friends.

  82. October 3, 2009 7:47 PM

    When do you all produce these screeds of chat. I sit clicking ‘refresh’ all day with nary an update, then go away for a few hours and it all appears. I feel out of sync. Do you all have pagers?

    Thanks for the Poetry Hell props, Mishari. Wonderful to be included. Could you possibly, if you can be bothered, change ‘proffer up your glass’ to ‘proffer up your cup’. I think it’s better (i.e. ruder).


    ‘A touch of Marvell?’

    I was going to bluff this with a joke about Spider Man but the truth is I’ve no idea who Marvell is. Should I investigate?

  83. Captain Ned permalink
    October 3, 2009 7:48 PM

    Yes! Superb poet. Not many better in English, that’s for sure.

  84. October 3, 2009 8:38 PM

    Mishari, you neglected to mention that the featherweight Oona King – she used to sign her open letters to constituents “love, Oona” but was ousted before she could add the smiley faces – was replaced by George Galloway, hardly an improvement.

    My fear for the next parliament is that as a result of voter cynicism/apathy/protest there will be about 10 BNP members, several UKIP and some very loony independents, all of whom will put pressure on Cameron (probably in with a small majority) to move to the far right.

    I’m haunted by the memory that when George W was ‘elected’ for the first time, I thought “Oh well, he can’t do much harm in four years.”

  85. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 4, 2009 12:04 AM

    Marvell is well worth investigating, Exit, as the Captain says. He used gardens and flowers as theme and metaphor quite a lot. The Mower Against Grass is a good one, and Thoughts In A Garden is in most of the anthologies. That sinuous metaphysical style works well in your poem (as in the Cap’s).

    I’ve voted for the Lib Dem councillor for the last few years (He lives at the end of my garden, so I can keep an eye on him and his moat) since he actually got something done about a couple of things which had been bugging me for years. The Tory git before him came round to my house after I wrote to the local paper pointing out some contradictions between his freely expressed views and lifestyle. My son, who was about 12 at the time, answered the door. When I got home I asked what he’d said. ‘He was on about what you wrote in the paper. Oh yeah, he said he’s going to punch you on the nose next time he sees you.’ He came round a couple of days later and we had a major stand-up row. Without violence, thank God. I was crapping myself.

  86. mishari permalink*
    October 4, 2009 1:45 AM

    How I yearn for, long for, pray for the day when a politician turns up at my front door and offers me violence.
    Like Christmas and a birthday rolled into one…

  87. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 4, 2009 10:25 AM

    He was bigger than me. I would expect to take a disabled person or a (well, some of them) woman. I’m not talking firearms here, of course. Any of those suckers could make my day if Mr Magnum was in the house.

  88. mishari permalink*
    October 4, 2009 12:26 PM

    Listening to Private Passions on R3, when the guest (whose name escapes me) said, “…on the wireless last week I heard Murray Perahia describe Bach as…”.

    The wireless? I was actually rather charmed. He (the guest) was obviously of advanced years and what would have otherwise irritated me as an affectation struck me as a rather attractive anachronism. I do hope the BBC provides him with a hansom cab to take him home.

  89. InvisibleJack permalink
    October 4, 2009 12:30 PM


    What an absolute shit that politician was to express his anger, in your absence, to a child of twelve. I would have written another letter to the paper saying how he terrorised children. (Or did you?)

    (I would also have kicked his spine up through his head, but I’m Irish and have a tendency to spontaneous reactions.)

    Jack Brae

  90. mishari permalink*
    October 4, 2009 1:34 PM

    Very true, Jack but typical of a politician. I suspect MM’s boy (if he’s anything like mine) was vastly amused.

    My boys, after laughing themselves sick, would have asked for a firm time so that they could ensure I’d be home when he came to punch my nose.

    It wouldn’t be something they’d want to miss…they have a worrying taste for mayhem (God knows where they get it..their mother, I expect)

  91. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 4, 2009 2:22 PM

    Yes, I was going to mention how calmly he seemed to take the threat of violence to his father, but I was chivvied out of the house for a walk before I could formulate the thought. The father/son relation is a complex one: homicidal feelings in both directions from time to time, I think.

  92. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 4, 2009 2:50 PM

    I meant to say that I watched District 9 last night: it was very good. I’ll never look at a prawn the same way again.

  93. October 4, 2009 7:50 PM

    Mishari – I think politicians in Mexico would take you on – when they are not busy beating the crap out of each other in parliament that is:

  94. mishari permalink*
    October 4, 2009 8:04 PM

    Yeah. These fellows look quite handy, an undisciplined sort of way:

  95. freep permalink
    October 4, 2009 10:09 PM

    Mishari, thank you for the frumious Nightmare, and for all the other illustrations. They make a excellent good collection of chants royals et proletarians. The metaphysicals of exitb and the Cap’n were classy.
    It is probably the most extensive set of chants royal to have been published in the Western hemisphere in the last decade. You are an editor people like to submit to; is that too oddly ambiguous? I am suffering from disorientation and some sort of vertigo, as I spend yesterday in Whitehaven and was unsure why, so am having to scour out my tubes with red wine in industrial quantit. Whitehaven is not like anywhere else in the Kingdom. The dogg liked it because it found an elderly pizza on the harbour.
    [I prefer Mad Men to the Wire, but mainly because there is not so much of it. So far. All culture has to be weighed, and if more than three stone, needs prune / discard of itself and to be dislargened and minified. The half hour teleplay is sufficient for everything to be said in the worldlet. The best of all programme is the shout in the lane, with picture of a woman in a seducing apron holding a dream object. ]

  96. October 4, 2009 10:12 PM

    Ah Melton you liked District 9 then? I thought it was very well done. Some of the documentary-style films fall flat and just seem clever without substance, but this one managed to do it successfully, much like Cloverfield. I suppose seeing as it was based in South Africa there could be parallels drawn with apartheid, but maybe that’s a bit obvious.

  97. mishari permalink*
    October 4, 2009 10:40 PM

    Whitehaven was the last place in Britain to be attacked by American naval forces. On 23rd April 1778 during the American War of Independence, John Paul Jones arrived in Britain with the intention of setting the whole merchant fleet on fire. The alarm was raised, and he retreated forthwith. Another American link is that Mildred Warner Gale, the grandmother of the American president George Washington, came from Whitehaven.

    I suspect it’s this American connection that’s the cause of your vertigo, freep. Glad you approve of the Fuseli.

    I thought District 9 was a very impressive debut. Far superior to most SF (if that’s what it is). I liked it a lot.

  98. October 4, 2009 11:10 PM

    freep interesting theory as regards lengths of things – I suspect there will be a lot more of Mad Men to come so does this mean you’ll like it less the longer it gets? I certainly went off the Sopranos after about 3 series feeling they were repeating storylines but giving those storylines to other characters in the hope you wouldn’t notice.

    Contrarily enough I didn’t find that with the Wire though might have done if they’d made a 6th series exposing the corruption and inherent flaws of Baltimore’s Health & Safety executive.

  99. freep permalink
    October 5, 2009 8:27 AM

    Yes, al. I wouldn’t dignify it with the name of theory. But things that are big and long I find they are too much. The Vatican, Coronation Street, Manchester United, Dumbarton Road in Glasgow, The Archers, Daniel Maclise’s murals in Whitehall, Die Meistersinger, my son’s feet, Great Danes, The Godfather, top hats, the Amazon and the Nile.
    Yes, I do not want any more Mad Men, just as three episodes of The Wire was quite enough for me; I didn’t think it made much of an advance on Homicide, Life on the Streets. Dominic West’s daughter was an excellent tragic and ghostly ten year old in the Darwin pic, Creation, which had some good things in it, but turned out a pig’s ear.

  100. October 5, 2009 9:56 AM

    How long are your son’s feet? If I may ask? I’m intrigued.

  101. freep permalink
    October 5, 2009 8:35 PM

    Al. They are not vast; 12 extra broad. You would not risk sailing down the Yangtse in one of his shoes. But they are five sizes bigger than my feet, he is not otherwise large, and in checking back the Mr and Mrs freep ancestors, no other family member has been so swellfooted since 1876. It is a matter of concern.
    Must turn my attention to praising your pig, which wd be more constructive than vexing family matters.

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