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Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground

November 5, 2009

Winter Bikes
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The ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness‘ is upon us and already there’s a sharpness and snap to the weather. It’s especially noticeable if, like me, you’re a keen cyclist. I have to wear gloves now, lest my hands solidify into lumpish, claw-like appendages.

I’ve always detested hats and caps and refused to wear them, despite being assured by innumerable people that ‘…you lose 50% (60%, 70%, 80%…) of your body heat through your head‘. I always viewed this assertion with suspicion and it’s now been comprehensively debunked.

The main hazard of winter riding, aside from the hordes of atrocious drivers who no more belong behind the wheel of a car than in the cockpit of an F-16, is ice. Especially treacherous to riders like me, whose bikes roll on performance slicks. But as Aunt Dahlia’s excitable French chef Anatole was wont to remark, ‘…I can take a few smooths with a rough.’ I take a tumble now and again but I just pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.

Say…that’s kind of catchy. I could make a song out of that. And speaking of songs, it’s time for you lot to get your mukluks on, slather your face with seal-blubber, hitch up the dog-team and deliver a Sonnet on winter…mush, you Huskies.

162 Comments
  1. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    November 5, 2009 1:57 PM

    Herr Doktor Winter called me from Berlin
    Mit Befürchtungen: La Française des Jeux
    Results for Monday’s Loto had come in
    And all he lacked was frankincense and myrrh.
    Gold had he in great store – ten million feds! –
    But Willy Wonka’s ticket was at risk
    From teenage gangs and psychopath skinheads
    And bright pink elephants. Lufthansa whisked
    Me to his right-hand side to guard his hench
    And escort stub and winner back to France.
    Yet, waylaid by the press of Russian, French
    And German revellers in Wall-flower dance,
    We lost our lederhosen und our stub
    To charming slumdog extras in some pub

  2. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2009 8:56 PM

    When even hard men wear a vest,
    and Nick the cop stays in his car,
    and toms turn tricks while fully dressed,
    and pub or club just seems too far,
    when mucus runs and coughs are foul,
    when friends and family start to grate,
    when TV’s full of Simon Cowell,
    it must be time to hibernate.

    Pull the curtains and bolt the door,
    make sure the phone and bell are dead,
    get out the stuff from the drugstore,
    strip yourself and roll into bed.

    Take the first hit and float away,
    set the alarm for the middle of May.

  3. mishari permalink*
    November 5, 2009 10:58 PM

    Who or what are ‘the blue and red ink brigade’? Whatever they or it is, apparently PH is a hotbed. As it’s the reliably deranged atf (who seems to have turned being a chippy auto-didact into a career) I imagine it’s safe to assume it’s nothing complimentary.

    I’m fucked if I can be bothered reading through all the posts on what’s become a weekly gowk hunt, seeking answers. Perhaps one of you can enlighten me?

  4. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2009 11:13 PM

    It must have been my comment about the green ink brigade which sparked that deathless shaft. I only read about one word in fifty, but I caught that. Not exactly cutting.

  5. freep permalink
    November 5, 2009 11:26 PM

    I expect it means we have to use pens because we’ve got no lead in our pencils. But the colour coding is too enigmatick for me.

  6. mishari permalink*
    November 5, 2009 11:41 PM

    Ah…I think I can help there, freep. The blue symbolises our aristocratic views and the red, our censorious disapproval of the clamour and blather of the lower orders…quite right, too.

  7. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2009 11:52 PM

    I was going to ask what gowk meant. Blue surely refers to the horrifyingly unchaste comments sometimes to be found here. Red has me stumped.

  8. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2009 12:02 AM

    Perhaps red is for the innocent blood of the Worker Heroes slaughtered by Capitalist Exploiters. Personally, nothing puts an edge on my appetite quite like mowing down hordes of plebs in my scythe-wheeled chariot. After that, even such mundane, everyday fare as larks tongues in aspic tastes simply marvelous, my dear…

    Here’s the original Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground:

  9. November 6, 2009 12:15 AM

    Possessing two pens of different colours is a sure sign of self-satisfied bourgeois affluence – something which won’t be allowed under the dictatorship of the proletariat, where we will be only write in dark grey 12 point Ariel.

  10. pinkroom permalink
    November 6, 2009 12:20 AM

    I think atf misunderstood MM’s “green ink” jibe. I assume it was meant in the sense of the “green ink file”… a euphemism for the waste paper basket where letter ed.s automatically dep osited the regular letters from the usual er…suspects. (Named thus because of the habit mad folk have of writing in green ink,. For myself I use a pink or green crayon… it gets the recepient more worried.)

    Clearly atf misread this as a national slur upon ,his/herself and Billy who despite being variously Brit born/based all proclaim their Hibernian heritage. This mix-up is understandable as ‘Green Ink” has often also been shorthand for Irish Lit. The Red and Blue ink riposte is presumably meant to indicate the true Brit nature of PH which is strange because I believe Mishari to be Kuwaiti (unless he/she is undertaking some very strange long-running gag I am unaware of which I find unlikely.)

    To be quite honest this is more off-beam than usual as, aside from the proprietor, the regs on this blog would seem to include a yank, exiles in Germany/Europe, a couple of rustics from Sommerset and the odd Northumbrian/Irishman. My own flag is the deepest pink of the International, adorned with bold trimmings of Gasworks Green… hardly the Billy Britain brigade but as is so often the case you’re best not to engage.

    I generally enjoy atf’s posts… sometimes, amidst the thrashings, she absolutely hits a nail right on he head. Tend to agree with S. Augustine that we need bold/wild voices like hers and Des on the web… better that than we all slide towards a @lovely@ it’s all good, mwwwaaah, omg/lol :D pc mush.

    Well, that’s what I think. I’ll work on a Wintry Sonnet domani.

  11. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2009 12:34 AM

    He/she? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Is my gender ambiguous? Allow me to clarify: I have a penis, a wife and children (fathered by aforementioned penis). I believe that places me firmly in the ‘he’ camp…

    As for atf and xS-words, the leavening bit is fine and I agree with Steven (and you)…but it’s the constant dismissal of anyone who disagrees as being either ignorant, stupid or dishonest that makes the pair so irritating…and fatuous.

  12. pinkroom permalink
    November 6, 2009 7:34 AM

    … simply making point that so much can be hidden/pretended… I think we may be entering a historical moment for the imagination and atf and xs (love that btw) may simply be early adapters. It is quite literally impossible to argue rationally with either of them because in the blink of an eye they can become somebody else with a whole different set of beliefs/baggage. My tip don’t bother… it’s what they enjoy/they’re good at it.

    My view is that it’s how you use these possiblities that matters. With both of them (and myself to some extent… I can understand where they’re coming from) the motive/driving force seems to be revenge. Both clearly have talent/things to say but, for whatever reason (the loop always seems to return sooner or later to class, useless schooling and bullying… as if the tender soul/genius of an Oscar Wilde fell upon the stony ground of Burscough/GG or wherever)they have failed in the 3d world. This is a first/second chance to be heard and they… all of us… are running like fury with it.

    Great. But try to use it to say something interesting/constructive/beautiful/funny rather than the same old… write a poem.

  13. freep permalink
    November 6, 2009 10:08 AM

    Nice one, pinkroom.
    I’ll listen to anyone, but a mixture of bully and victim at the same time can be toxic. I agree that among the fatuous (nice word, mish) torrents of atf xs words is often something not at all boring; but I can’t always be bothered to wade through it all.
    The Irish victim posture is particularly vexatious. As my own genes are more Irish than anything else: probably 25% Co Westmeath, 12% Dublin, 25% Tuscany, 25% Northumberland and 13% mongrel Arab / London – I could easily play at Celtic moaning . But I was brought up surrounded by IRA sympathisers, priests, nuns and people straight out of Joyce’s Dubliners, and some of them pissed me off proper when they beefed about their imagined oppression.. It is one of the great values of London (where I was lucky enough to be born) that all that stuff can be put into a sane perspective. This is the 21st century and you can choose where you think your roots are – it isn’t imposed on you.
    Bloody cold here on the border, but I picked up a good log on the beach this morning …

    This sonnet isn’t coming. Need to start with a rhythm, and it hasn’t surfaced yet. Must be suffering from lack of an iambic vitamin.

  14. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2009 10:39 AM

    Am I alone in finding the ‘shock, horror, etc…’ of Americans reacting to this latest shooting spree a bit ironic? I mean, it took place at an army base..you know, where they train and equip people to kill, in a state that fetishises firearms, in a country that worships firearms.

    If it had taken place in a Zen monastery or a Cistercian abbey, shock would be the appropriate reaction, but on an army base? In Texas? In the US? Christ, you take your life in your hands when you enter a classroom or a McDonalds in the US…

  15. freep permalink
    November 6, 2009 11:29 AM

    From what have seen on the televisor, Americans may have foolish views about guns, but they have excellent teeth.

  16. parallax permalink
    November 6, 2009 11:55 AM

    ummm connected – sort of – but also non sequitur

    yes – I like atf, deadgod, parisa and des on another board – I wouldn’t not want them for quits (get your head around that antipodean syntax) but it’s all about them innit?

    Anyway mish, since you’ve unearthed your penis I’ve no doubt atf is ferreting in his pants to find and then deny its existence

  17. parallax permalink
    November 6, 2009 12:33 PM

    and on the skunk thingo:

    last Friday (after I’d dragged the dining table into the courtyard so we could enjoy en plein air nosh ) a pre-rolled spliff sat on the table soaking up alcohol dregs – I said ‘no worries, I’ll microwave it’ – which I did despite ‘I’m not sure if that’s a good idea parallax, it might ignite/change it’s DNA’ – anyway 30 secs later a dry, smokable joint but … skunkified by the microwave.

    So, what we learn from this is, by experiment, that the microwave is a powerful machine – you can put a crap glass of red wine in for 15 seconds and when you drink it it tastes like Grange Hermitage so that’s a saving of $12k a bottle – bargain

  18. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2009 1:02 PM

    I try not to use the microwave. I find it interferes with the secret radio signals I receive from my controllers in the Andromeda galaxy. You are DOOOOMED, puny earthlings, DOOOOOOMMMEDDD…what’s that, nurse? A nap? But I just had a nap…

  19. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2009 1:03 PM

    That Penfolds wine is truly exceptional. I had a bottle from Tesco a few years ago which still lives in the memory.

    Surprised to see the Prince’s penis on the agenda for discussion. Shouldn’t be a long one.

  20. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2009 1:09 PM

    It is not (and I can’t emphasise this enough), not on the agenda for discussion…or anything else.
    Jeeesus…although I should point out, in the interests of accuracy, that I’ve had to have a flashing red light surgically implanted in my organ to warn low-flying aircraft…(…and no, MM…I didn’t have one implanted in my piano as well)…

  21. parallax permalink
    November 6, 2009 1:36 PM

    ok – but you brought it up mish – your penis that is

  22. parallax permalink
    November 6, 2009 2:14 PM

    I should get to work on a winter sonnet I suppose – (in my best Capt’n Oates voice): I am just going outside and may be some time

  23. pinkroom permalink
    November 6, 2009 7:53 PM

    A Better Life

    Snow on my hand, on the sand, on the sand;
    grass standing, higher back in furs of white;
    a thank you sea, hoops navy from the strand
    a pale sky, grey, pearls newly from the night.

    New morning on the beach, we’re first awake,
    with every piece of clothing layered fast;
    gathered here, for the science of the break
    of dawn beneath the frosted centre’s mast.

    We young, disturbed from beds, or just “disturbed”,
    the labels change but seaside winters don’t,
    far away to grow here, all badness curbed,
    to do no good, well somehow… we just won’t.

    And standing here, upon this still snowed beach,
    I’m tricked to feel a better life’s in reach.

  24. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2009 8:56 PM

    Lovely,PR…I also neglected to thank HLM and MM for their splendid contributions.

    Rather odd story in the news in France. A security guard drove off in an armoured car with about £10 million in cash while his partners were inside a bank making a collection. So far, so banal.

    What I found really strange was that when police went to the missing guard’s flat, they discovered that he’d packed and taken all his clothes and all his sheets and pillow-cases.

    So the guy said to himself… right, I’m going to steal millions in cash…every cop in Europe is going to be looking for me…I’m going to need to travel light and fast…what should I pack?…OK, I’ll need sheets and pillow-cases…

    I don’t think he’s really thought this through…

  25. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2009 11:23 PM

    Sounds a bit obsessive. He probably stopped at the launderette to give them a wash – you just don’t know if you’ll get another chance when you’re on the run, do you? It does remind you how dim criminals usually are. The trouble is the cops are even dimmer.

    Nice poem, pr. The beach is bloody freezing at the moment, and coated with the residue of bonfires and fireworks, discarded underclothing, Smirnoff Ice bottles and dead bodies. Our janitor Mr Sea will come and take it all away tonight.

  26. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 6, 2009 11:34 PM

    A Station Along the Recurring Nightmare

    A lopsided moon, like a silver fish,
    whitens the firs at Haglington Cutting;
    the train clatters, it’ll be on-time-ish,
    the snowflakes fall like a moth’s soft clumping.

    Winter is good when you’re not quite in it,
    (just looking at snow on a Christmas card),
    but here on the platform, cold and moonlit,
    your breath and your spittle are freezing hard.

    Your breath might shatter as it falls through air,
    thus breaking the vases shaped from your lungs,
    as you step towards the treacherous stair,
    (it’s a mouth layered with slippery tongues).

    An owl’s mind darkens with thickening schemes
    as Haglington’s firs are whispering their dreams.

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  27. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 6, 2009 11:38 PM

    Hi everyone

    I’ve been off-planet most of the week. (Martian stuff).

    Thanks File and Freep for the encouraging comments concerning yesterday’s poem in PP. Much appreciated…

    Jack Brae

  28. November 7, 2009 6:06 PM

    “What I found really strange was that when police went to the missing guard’s flat, they discovered that he’d packed and taken all his clothes and all his sheets and pillow-cases.”

    I’m baffled only by the fact that this isn’t a German story.

  29. mishari permalink*
    November 7, 2009 6:32 PM

    Nah…if he’d been German, he’d have taken his washing-machine and Hoover as well.

    Good poem, Jack.

  30. November 7, 2009 7:08 PM

    Do you know, M, if they have any of these fellers on the frugal thief’s trail… ?

    http://worldsuperheroregistry.com/world_superhero_registry_gallery.htm

  31. mishari permalink*
    November 7, 2009 8:46 PM

    Love those super-dudes. However, illogical as I know it is, I find it difficult to have much faith in superheroes with e-mail addresses.

    I mean, would Superman have seemed quite so super (setting aside his inherent absurdity) if he’d been reachable via superman@fortressofsolitude.com?

    Spent the afternoon reading some Gore Vidal essays that I hadn’t read before, including one, Rabbit’s Own Burrow, that articulates, with Vidal’s usual waspish elegance, just why I’ve never understood what people see in Updike.

    Despite having read a fair amount of the man’s fiction, non-fiction and poetry, despite all the assurances from people whose judgment I generally respect–I just don’t get him at all. Vidal’s essay is also very amusing. It’s available to read HERE. Highly recommended.

  32. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 7, 2009 9:50 PM

    I quite admire Gore Vidal, but let’s face it, he just loves being a bitch.

    Although I’ve read the novels down through the years (and at times very much enjoyed some of them), Updike never really scored very highly with me. He’s okay. However, sometime in the mid 70’s I bought a penguin edition of “Seventy Poems” and I often return to its pages. Not all of the poems succeed, granted, but I think this is mainly because he wasn’t a poet at heart, simply a writer who wrote poetry. But there’s nothing wrong with that if you can turn out a decent poem once in a while. I’ve always quite liked his poem “Caligula’s Dream”.

    Jack Brae

  33. mishari permalink*
    November 7, 2009 11:01 PM

    Although Vidal’s given to a rather old-fashioned sort of feline malice, his judgments on Updike are backed up by a wealth of analysis and myriad examples; I think he’s spot on but read the essay (billed as a book review but actually an essay on Updike’s whole body of work) and see what you think.

    I recognised a long time ago that Updike was, at times, a good craftsman, but I need more from an artist than craftsmanship, desirable as I think craftsmanship is.

    The pre-Raphaelites are a good example. Undoubtedly highly competent craftsmen, but their work makes me slightly nauseous.

    I don’t know Caligula’s Dream but I’ll check it out. However, the poetry of his that I have read leaves me cold. As I said, a lot of friends whose opinions I respect like him, so maybe it’s just me (and Vidal).

  34. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 8, 2009 1:02 AM

    I re-read the Gore essay, Mishari, and I do find myself largely agreeing with him; (actually, even when he’s being a bitch, Vidal’s opinions are fairly irresistible, and, as you rightly mention, usually backed up with clear reasoning).

    Yes, agreed on your other point. I think that’s always been my problem with Updike as well. The craftsmanship is undeniable and even admirable, but for me at least anyway, there’s been some lacking of passion (or something)in the writing. Actually, I think that’s it in a nutshell, a lack of passion. It’s very discernible with the poems actually: even when he’s very good there’s a clinicality to the theme and execution – accuracy without too much emotion.

    So I suppose we’re actually of the same opinion regarding Updike at the end of the day.

    Jack Brae

  35. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 9, 2009 12:40 AM

    Another year, another goose on order,
    another of those miniature windows
    on my personal advent calendar
    open on a bleached wilderness of snow,
    and there I am, trudging to the horizon,
    a lubberly Captain Scott whose lack
    of gumption, ambition or direction
    can’t stop those marching boots. There’s no way back.

    Under the tree the presents are waiting,
    loss of memory, liver spots, nose hair,
    and standing out from the rest the big one,
    in its feature all-black packaging,
    which, despite the others being so poor,
    is the one I really don’t want to open.

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 9, 2009 12:44 AM

    Thank God I finished that. My cold has come back for a rerun.

    Provocative fucker, Vidal. Totally wrong, too.

  37. mishari permalink*
    November 9, 2009 10:33 AM

    Do you mean wrong about Updike or wrong about everything (in which case, perhaps you’ll enjoy watching the reptilian William F Buckley calling Vidal a ‘queer’ and threatening to punch him):

  38. November 9, 2009 9:29 PM

    Maybe this isn’t visible to those of you outside a certain chunk of Europe, but the woman onstage with the super-famous lady baked me muffins yesterday:

    http://www.mtv.de/videos/20689701.html

  39. mishari permalink*
    November 9, 2009 10:10 PM

    Sadly, I get Leider können wir dieses Video aufgrund der aktuellen Rechtslage nicht zeigen. Bastards. They’ve never forgiven the English for winning the war. Can’t you post it on YouTube?

  40. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 9, 2009 11:09 PM

    Wrong about Updike, right about some other things. It seems that Updike had the temerity not to be Vidal, in the sense that he was born a provincial nonentity rather than an American aristocrat. I don’t know why it matters, but it appears to matter a lot to Vidal, given the amount of space he devotes to Updike’s humble origins without squeezing much of interest out of it. That he sticks closely to the world he knows best doesn’t seem a weakness to me, and in my opinion he produced something pretty good when he did leave his area of familiarity: The Coup stands as testament to that. Updike’s conservatism and support for the Vietnam war are as important to me as E Waugh’s medieval Catholicism and snobbishness (and didn’t Nabokov support the war? that makes at least two ‘serious’ American writers), that is, not at all.

    His criticism of Updike’s style is reasonable, but there isn’t a reader in the world who doesn’t think U goes over the top sometimes. It’s a consequence of ambition: what Vidal seems to think U lacked.

  41. mishari permalink*
    November 9, 2009 11:26 PM

    I think he dwells on Updike’s ‘humble’ origins because Updike seems to make a big deal out of it himself, pointedly scorning the effete, lefty, liberal pointy-head sorts who lacked Updike’s salt-of-the-earth ‘authenticity’ with its corollary, old-fashioned common sense. Fucking pansy liberal weenies, always second-guessing Presidents..the nerve.

    Like you, I couldn’t give a toss about his support for the Vietnam War (although his reasoning strikes me as a rather distasteful combination of cravenness and ignorance) any more than I judge Ernst Jünger’s writing on the basis that he was a German officer in service of the Nazis.

    BTW, I’m shooting the latest 4 Madmen, 3 SOA & proper copies of Terminator Salvation and Zombieland down tomorrow.

    It’s strange but I can’t access that fucking German MTV site even through a proxy. The goddamn Hun: at your feet or at your throat.

  42. November 9, 2009 11:40 PM

    Christ, I knew the U.S. couldn’t view the material, but Germany’s *cousin*, Great Britain, too? Shameful. No, the version I was chuffed about was the re-cut version of the video, which Be—cé ordered herself, featuring my sylph-like muffin-baker/harpist for 20 solid seconds of the beginning of the performance. This second version is jealously guarded by the EmpTeeVee site featuring it and thoroughly undownloadable. The version that’s being deleted from YouTube as I write this is the boring version, featuring mere glimpses of my neo-classically-attired sylph. In the interest of keeping those muffins (and other, even better things) flowing, I will refrain, this once, from commenting on Cultural Imperialism and how awareness-bludgeoning shockin-awww tactics deform even the effing entertai…. I mean. Yeah! Bongo Pox was on the premises too, you’ll be glad to know.

  43. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 9, 2009 11:40 PM

    You could be right. I found I knew almost nothing about Updike’s biography (a near-ideal condition) when I read the Vidal essay, and had to do a fair bit of scratching about. Probably know too much now.

    Thanks for the DVD. I tried out Terminator (just in case) but got nothing beyond the opening title. Up to date with Mad Men now, so that will be most welcome. SOA is quite compelling (I’m thinking Hamlet, of course), though I’m still on series 1 thanks to time issues and Mrs M refusing to watch anything with motorbikes in it.

  44. mishari permalink*
    November 9, 2009 11:42 PM

    Yeah, I watched a few of the YouTube uploads before they were deleted for offending Viacom (apparently), eyes peeled for a harpist but all I saw was Beyonce rising out of what appeared to be a red velvet-lined chocolate box (or coffin) and shaking her booty with some ladies and chaps in suits. Very frustrating.

  45. November 9, 2009 11:47 PM

    (pfew! Tanks mon)

    Here are a few pix from the event:

    http://harfenengel.wordpress.com/

  46. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 12:12 AM

    Am I alone in finding the story about the 3 American ‘hikers’ arrested in Iran a bit odd? Apparently, they hiked from the Turkish side of the border into Iraqi Kurdistan and then wandered ‘inadvertently’ into Iran.

    For starters, the Turkish army has been at war with various Kurdish pesh marga guerillas, Marxist, Socialist, etc for decades. The border on the Turkish side is a battleground and a lethal place to be fucking around in.

    Kurdistan is essentially lawless and heaving with heavily-armed men, much given to kidnapping and internecine feuding. And Iran…well, what can one say? Of all the world’s attractive hiking areas, they chose the Turkish/Kurdish/Irani borders for a ‘fun hike’? Are you fucking kidding me?

    Imagine the US’s reaction if a trio of young Iranians were found to have ‘accidentally’ strayed across the Mexican border into the Sangre De Cristo mountains of New Mexico.

    US INS Official: So, what the fuck are are you doing here, Ali Baba?

    Irani Hiker: Erm…just, y’know…hiking, dude. For fun.

    US INS Official: Ship these assholes to Guantanamo.

  47. November 10, 2009 7:04 AM

    “The charges were condemned by Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, who renewed calls for their release. ‘We believe strongly that there is no evidence to support any charge whatsoever,’ she told reporters in Berlin.”

    Strangely ambiguous way for Hill to put it, eh? Almost tongue-in-cheek. Note also how photogenic these accidentally-border-crossing American people tend to be:

    http://hubpages.com/hub/Detained-In-North-Korea—Reporters-Laura-Ling-and-Euna-Lee

  48. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 11:16 AM

    Hmmmm…you’re right. Odd. Two explanations spring to mind:

    Dim-bulb Bush/Cheney-like machination–intentional provocation to racket up tension and provide a cassus belli

    Smarter (i.e. average 12 year-old) machination: Gives the Iranians (or Koreans) a chance to appear magnanimous, the US to appear grateful, talks get kick-started in an atmosphere of spurious goodwill.

    ***

    Brown: I feel Jacqui Janes’s grief–Graunaid, today

    Jesus…straight out of the Clinton playbook.

    An amusing cartoon appeared in, I think, the New Yorker at the time of Clinton’s departure from Mt. Olympus.

    It showed a couple slumped in front of a TV watching Clinton wave goodbye and the husband is saying to the wife: I guess we’ll have to feel our own pain from now on.

  49. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 10, 2009 11:45 AM

    What appalling handwriting Gordon has. I wonder why he uses a massive felt-tip to write his letters – eye problems, or is he just trying to make a short message look longer?

  50. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 11:57 AM

    As much as I detest Brown (and let’s face it, the mothers of these troops should be more enraged that Brown sends them off to die in a senseless Murdoch-supported war than by his fucking handwriting), to be fair to the man, he’s not only blind in one eye but apparently, the vision in the remaining one isn’t up to much either. Apparently, he does all his writing in large felt-tip.

    This is just a distraction from the real issue. If Mrs. Janes was thinking clearly, she’d be burning Murdoch in effigy, alongside Brown, Blair, Bush, Cameron et al.

  51. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 12:04 PM

    Even more sickening was the Grauniad’s fawning over the grotesque Kim Howells. Seeing the ship sinking, Howells suddenly comes to his senses mid-desertion.

    I pointed out that the loathsome Howells was the creep who, in between licking the Saudi King’s arse, spoke of our (and the Saudi’s) ‘shared values’. My post was, of course, deleted by the Graun’s Labour lick-spittles…bah.

    The older I get, the more I begin to think that shooting politicians is just a combination of common sense and self-preservation…

  52. freep permalink
    November 10, 2009 1:46 PM

    Met Howells once. Turd.

  53. November 10, 2009 2:33 PM

    “The older I get, the more I begin to think that shooting politicians is just a combination of common sense and self-preservation…”

    (Scratches chin nervously) Erm… couldn’t we just replace them all with monkeys and children instead?

  54. November 10, 2009 2:36 PM

    (Something’s wrong with this stupid Firefox; I’ve been double-posting for days. Nothing undermines an arched-eyebrow-comment… or a laugh line… like a fekking double post)

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 10, 2009 3:04 PM

    Howells did seem to move from left to right with amazing speed. It’s a characteristic of the turd.

  56. November 10, 2009 3:13 PM

    “Couldn’t we replace them with monkeys and children instead?” isn’t that what the Americans did with GWBush?

    Oh you mean real monkeys.

    Just back from 2 days driving up from Valencia – now I know what a sock feels like in a spin dryer.

  57. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 3:28 PM

    Howells, like Clarke, Blunkett, Brown and the rest of them posed as Leftists when A.) it was fashionable and risk-free and B.) when they thought it might lead to power. The minute the pose became inconvenient or impractical, it was abandoned faster than a used Kleenex.

    What I never cease to marvel at is the utter shamelessness of these people. When confronted with their past statements and ‘convictions’, instead of saying “…well, I was wrong”, they carry on as though they were right then and they’re right now.

    They are, of course, too dim to understand that they can’t have it both ways, e.g. either nuclear weapons must be disposed of or we must have them, either the rich should be taxed until they flee to some insupportable shit-hole like Dubai or they must be idolised, etc etc.

    The sooner we start shooting the fuckers on sight, the better off we’ll be.

    Hello, Al. Wondered where you’d got to.

  58. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 3:37 PM

    This expresses my feelings better than I can:

  59. November 10, 2009 4:00 PM

    Just catching up with the Motion PotW strand. If Freep is reading this can I say that his comments on theory/lit-crit were the sanest I’ve read in a while on that thread and beautifully and concisely put too.

  60. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 4:23 PM

    That freep…he’s a rock, isn’t he? If I am made King (unlikely, given the degraded sensibilities of the British) I shall make him a Duke and seek his counsel in all things…

  61. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 4:40 PM

    BTW, you might enjoy this MM:

  62. November 10, 2009 6:01 PM

    Have been working in Ontinyent near Valencia. Someone there said that the recession round there (and in Spain in general of course) has hit so bad that they’ve had to close the local McDonalds.

    So there are benefits to this credit crunch

  63. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 10, 2009 6:16 PM

    Enjoyed the Mad Men. Smoking indoors!

    Expect to hear your thoughts on the West Country accent on POTW, Al.

  64. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 6:18 PM

    An additional happy result of the recession is Rupert Murdoch (frustrated by his loss-making publications) is going to make them invisible to Google. Priceless.

    “Lissen, mate…I’m gonna stop all you bludgers from finding anything of mine (News Corp–market value $15 billion) online. I’m also gonna shoot myself in both feet. Then you’ll be sorry…”

    Google (market value $175 billion) naturally shrugged (and doubtless laughed themselves sick) and said he must please himself. So, farewell, then The Sun, The News of the World, Fox News etc…come back when you can’t stay as long…

  65. November 10, 2009 9:55 PM

    Normally I avoid Lit crit/art theory comme la peste but am reading a very good book about Neolithic cave art called ” The Mind in the Cave” by David Lewis-Williams.

    It takes all the theories ( including Levi-Strauss’ ) about why these were created and tries to add to them – I’ve not finished it yet so I don’t know whodunnit but it’s extremely good. As relevant to art today as back then in some ways.

    When in Northern Spain in late September we had a few days off between gigs and did a little tour of the caves in Cantabria. Some were a bit too touristy even if the art is beautiful but others are fantastic experiences led by guides who are not just rattling through their lines. Do you know the Chufin caves Mishari? Worth a trip next time you are in Spain.

    Anyone see the Bower Birds on Attenborough’s “Life” programme a few night’s ago. Birds with individual artistic tastes – now there’s something to add to the whole “what is art?” debate. I particularly liked the bird who collected ladybirds with a metallic shellcasing and then spent its time trying to keep them from wandering off.

  66. freep permalink
    November 10, 2009 10:32 PM

    mish: the Dukedom I seek is not of this world, but if I am to be ennobled, be sure I will pour my resources into the building of follies. Thanks for the kind comments, Al. Hope the old paedagogue didn’t creep in too much.
    I really hated teaching literary theory, most of which I did at the worst time, round about 1989 – 92, when you couldn’t avoid it in universities. It was feeding crap to students, and put plenty of them off reading. It’s still around. As I understand it, most 1st year syllabuses in Eng Lit contain some module that invites the kids to ‘challenge the canon’ or some such nonsense. How can you challenge things you haven’t read? My bag is literary history, and I suppose I’m unreconstructed. A mate of mine gave me good advice when I was 17; ‘never buy a book of literary criticism’, he said. He was right.
    Just saw the Keats film, Bright Star, dir. Jane Campion. Same pace as The Piano, bit ponderous, theatrical lighting, acting 7/10, nicely elegiac. Take hankies for the woman or yourself. Piano was better because of Harvey Keitel.
    Still owing a winter sonnet. would you accept a limerick on the toothache, mish? Or an Ode on Imminent Death, by a Mouse in My Attic?

  67. Captain Ned permalink
    November 10, 2009 10:44 PM

    My grandfather once taught Kim Howells at Hornsey Art College, and was involved alongside him with the student protest there. Howells was famous on campus for once pronouncing ‘I shit on your bourgeois art object’. How things change.

    alarming – I read elsewhere recently that all of the MacDonalds in Iceland are going to close, so fingers crossed that this is the start of a trend. I was watching a McD advert the other day, aware that the guy doing the voiceover sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him. It was about a second and a half after it ended that I realised (with about 87% certainty) that it was none other than well-known left-wing actor David Morrissey. Do these people need the money THAT badly? I think of all the thesps who do line up to do Tesco ads (such as famous socialist Prunella Scales), and I sink into profoundest gloom.

  68. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2009 10:49 PM

    I did see that program, Al and the aesthetic sense of the bower birds was absolutely fascinating, especially given the diversity of ‘tastes’: one preferred muted charcoal and grey-ish colours, the other, orange and reds, etc etc. Intriguing stuff…

    It’s become my ambition to become a spatula-tailed hummingbird. Obviously, it’s going to require a radical diet and some cosmetic surgery but what the hell…

    I haven’t visited Chufin but thanks to the good graces of a Cantabrian big shot cousin of a friend, I managed to by-pass the 2-3 year waiting list and visit Altamira 10 or so years ago.

    I found it a deeply moving experience. Not even quite sure why. We don’t know what the purpose of the paintings was but the fact that they tend to be in the most inaccessible places that are in perpetual darkness suggests some kind of ‘magic’ or ritual. But the grace and beauty of the images and the human touches (the outlines of the painter’s hands) make it an unforgetable experience.

    I have a book of high-quality photos of Altamira, Lascaux etc that I frequently mull over. I guess because we can never know any more than ‘here they are, make of them what you will’, the images allow any amount of speculation.

    People who could create such expressive and subtle renderings of the world around them can not have been much different from us.

    Mind you, there was probably some bore in a beaver-skin posing pouch standing by and carping about ‘heirarchies’, ‘simulacra’ and ‘texts’…

  69. November 11, 2009 8:25 AM

    Mishari – not unsurprisingly the Bower Bird who created an installation with lumps of dung failed to get a mate. As with humans as with birds.

  70. mishari permalink*
    November 11, 2009 8:52 AM

    Personally , I thought the Downtown SoHo Loft BauHaus Bower Bird had excellent taste–all those muted shades of grey and black-ish. But the female preferred the Andy Warhol Pop Art Day-Glo Bower Bird. Women…

  71. November 11, 2009 9:55 AM

    I wonder if there’s a Bower Bird into conceptual art? The females are invited to look at a glass of water that could be a bower and which demonstrates that the meanings of individual words enslave our perceptions.

    Personally I liked the BohoBowerBoid too – espeially when his collection of dung started sprouting fungus. He hadn’t see that coming.

  72. mishari permalink*
    November 11, 2009 10:05 AM

    I had to laugh at that and felt slightly ashamed of myself for laughing. Poor bugger…collecting all those matching grey deer turds, only to have white mushrooms start growing out of them….too, too vexing, my dear…all that vulgar white…so common.

    Interesting review of the Lewis-Williams book HERE. Sounds fascinating. I’ve ordered myself a copy from Mammalzone.

  73. November 11, 2009 10:59 AM

    I bought it about 8 year’s ago and due to a variety of reasons ( unintelligence, touring, work on new projects ) abandoned it. But after the Spanish cave experiences and now having a BIT more downtime available I picked it up again and although my unintelligence remains and progress is slow it is fascinating.

    Especially when it makes you realise that far from being superstitious primitives or apart from not having their own page on Facebook those in the caves weren’t SO very different from us

  74. mishari permalink*
    November 11, 2009 11:24 AM

    Exactly, Al. Across an immense (in human terms) chasm of time, they speak to us with an intimacy and directness that other works from antiquity and pre-history don’t.

    Stonehenge, the Pyramids etc are hugely impressive but I don’t feel a real kinship, for want of a better word, with the builders. I think that’s why I find myself so affected and moved by the work of the cave painters. The sense that, give or take a few minor cerebral wrinkles and the odd spot of (alleged) cannibalism, there’s not much separating us…

  75. mishari permalink*
    November 11, 2009 12:19 PM

    The Labour government forced through a significant attempt to cover up miscarriages of justice this week. The measure, buried in the Coroners and Justice Bill, passed by a majority of just eight MPs.

    It gives the Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, absolute discretion to order a secret inquiry in place of a public inquest.

    This would bar bereaved families and the public from attending hearings into controversial deaths.

    Labour wants to hold investigations into deaths in private if they use information such as phone tapping and files from the police and the intelligence.

    Inquests that might expose the negligence of the government or the police will be hidden from view–The Socialist Worker, today

    All the hallmarks of this disgusting government–secrecy, mendacity and authoritarianism. New Labour means ‘odious scum’ the way Beanz Meanz Heinz.

    Of course, New Labour’s spineless house organ, The Grauniad, hasn’t even seen fit to mention this latest New Labour dismantling of the concept of accountable government.

    Just when I think my contempt for the Guardian has peaked, they out-do themselves in behaving contemptibly…

  76. November 24, 2009 2:49 PM

    I’ve done it, at last, here’s my flaming sonnet!!

    Well actually it’s my first ever flaming sonnet, so comments (constructive or otherwise) very welcome. I took note of the section in the instructions on iambic pentameter, which explained the fact that you could reverse the emphasis in the iambic foot, and decided that this meant all I had to do was to make sure I had 10 syllables in each line, but I realise it didn’t exactly mean that. Never mind, it’s done now…

    Winter’s fall:

    The day has scarcely blossomed, when its glow
    Is obscured from us, lost, as wilting bloom,
    Midst curves of hillsides, draped in drifting snow,
    Leaving only an opalescent gloom,
    Bleeding through the line between land and sky,
    No longer day, but not yet fully night.
    Mute snowflakes faintly glisten as they fly,
    Reflecting the last of this sinking light.
    Enchanting ribbons squalling through the grey
    Should herald for us a silent warning,
    That a dark hunger soon will swallow day,
    Leaving us with a long path to morning.
    Instead we are mesmerised by the scene,
    Of the winter’s fall, silent and serene.

    • November 24, 2009 2:53 PM

      Actually the punctuation was a bit off. It might look better like this (but then again I’m hopeless at punctuation… said the editor)

      Winter’s fall:

      The day has scarcely blossomed, when its glow
      Is obscured from us, lost, as wilting bloom,
      Midst curves of hillsides, draped in drifting snow,
      Leaving only an opalescent gloom
      Bleeding through the line between land and sky,
      No longer day, but not yet fully night.
      Mute snowflakes faintly glisten as they fly,
      Reflecting the last of this sinking light,
      Enchanting ribbons squalling through the grey
      Should herald for us a silent warning
      That a dark hunger soon will swallow day,
      Leaving us with a long path to morning.
      Instead we are mesmerised by the scene
      Of the winter’s fall, silent and serene.

  77. freep permalink
    November 24, 2009 4:47 PM

    Nice and sombre, Pollyanna, and has a certain Victorian gloom about it. Just one thought: if you changed it to the past tense, as if it were an episode in a story (which would make it sound very like Charles Tennyson Turner), would that make it better or worse? Worth a try …
    The day had scarcely blossomed, when its glow
    Was obscured from us ….

  78. November 24, 2009 5:12 PM

    Hey Freep,

    Interesting point. I wondered if the present tense worked all the way through. I’ve probably also done it wrong somewhere…

    I think I started in the present tense to make it seem like it was unfolding right there and then. Or it could have been because present tense verbs have one less syllable. eg. the line “Mute snowflakes faintly glisten as they fly” would be a syllable longer as “glistened”. Mind you I could miss out the “mute”.

    I’ll have a think…

  79. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 24, 2009 10:42 PM

    Enjoyed the poem, Polly. A pleasure to read.

  80. mishari permalink*
    November 25, 2009 2:19 AM

    Christ, this must be the slowest internet connection I’ve had since my old circa 1996 26 Kbps modem. Oh, well…

    Good work, Polly.

    Re: the past tense. I think it would work as well but it’s fine as is. Well done.

    Don’t mind freep. If he had his way, we’d all be writing on parchment, with a goose-quill, by the light of beef-tallow candles (as he does). He doesn’t get the new whizzo, streamlined, nuclear-powered Flash Gordon pomes that we advocate. Poor fellow…wandering the moors in his full-bottomed wig, his buckled shoes squeaking in the breeze, his inkwell leaking into the pocket of his weskit, his dogg saying ” ye woofe, ye woofe”…

  81. November 25, 2009 8:46 AM

    Misha, you need to find more hamsters.

    Thanks all of you for the encouragement. I don’t mind freep. It was a point which I’d been wondering about myself, except I’m even less talented at wielding ye olde English than the modern kind.

    Flash Gordon – jeezus Mish – that’s ancient stuff – isn’t he Flash 9.0 Gordon by now?

  82. freep permalink
    November 25, 2009 9:31 AM

    Pollyanna, people who come here know that I am never content with a poem until the dying dog makes its tragical appearance, and causes the tear ducts to oscillate. I find sonnets pretty hard, mainly because I can’t find things to say in 14 lines; 10 or 20 are somehow easier. I haven’t got much to say anyway, except that, as mish says, I like lying here in the heather, luxuriating in the past, peering forwards to the C19 through my lorgnettes and burning the lice off my dogg with ash from my meerschaum.
    … At the back of my mind is the question, who decided 14 lines was a good number for a poem? Why isn’t there a tradition of a fifteen-liner in three stanzas, each rhyming abcba??

    Mishari is obviously out exploring somewhere, looking for a peat bed to fuel his steam Amstrad. I expect he is in Patagonia.

  83. November 25, 2009 10:30 AM

    No sooner do you ask such a question and no doubt some poems will appear here to meet your challenge freep! (not from me of course, that’s my monthly poetic effort)

  84. alarming permalink
    November 25, 2009 12:20 PM

    Dog dies before poem is written
    Hard and many times bitten postmen
    Throw the mail-bags in the air and rejoice
    In the North East there is a dissenting voice.
    Poetic conventions will get worse
    Unless this situation is in reverse.

  85. mishari permalink*
    November 25, 2009 12:37 PM

    “God is dead”,
    Said cross-eyed Fred;
    A mistake of the laity:
    A dogg’s not a deity.

  86. freep permalink
    November 25, 2009 1:33 PM

    My dogg’s not mistaken;
    There is abundant free bacon
    Up at old Whalley Range
    Where, though it seem strange,
    A gigantic old porker
    Has been cut into quarters
    And sliced into pounds
    For deserving old hounds.
    O there’s nought that is merrier
    Than an overfed terrier.

  87. alarming permalink
    November 25, 2009 1:37 PM

    Freep’s Dogg 1 Alarming’s pig 0

    freep’s dogg goes through to the quarter finals where it will meet ( and perhaps eat ) Mishari’s performing family circus.

  88. freep permalink
    November 25, 2009 1:44 PM

    No contest, Al. Mish has the dark superhero catt Worldpongo. The terrier has already slunk into the coalhole at the thought of it. Dogs are, as you know, cowardly in the extreme. Is the pig battered, by the way?

  89. alarming permalink
    November 25, 2009 2:22 PM

    After 50+ days of all weather, all audience touring in Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Ireland and GB the pig is extremely battered freep. As am I.

  90. freep permalink
    November 25, 2009 2:37 PM

    O, I see, and you deserve a rest, al. It’s just that my dogg was curious about what kind of batter the pig was in. Lard?

  91. November 25, 2009 3:04 PM

    My own family circus has been to town.

    I am now left with a microwaveable cat.

    I need a bigger microwave though…

  92. alarming permalink
    November 25, 2009 3:33 PM

    freep the pig’s batter is pink silk-screen ink – a lot of it.

    Don’t know what taste your dogg has – the rats in our old workshop used to eat the skin on the old cans of emulsion paint. Didn’t seem to do them any harm though it’s difficult to tell whether the rat you saw one day was the same rat you saw the next. Even possible tell-tale signs like emulsion round the mouth had been licked away.

  93. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 25, 2009 7:26 PM

    An ESSAY, in Mr FREE POLAND’s New Poetickal Form, viz., the DOGGONNET.

    Faithful Fido lies on the mat,
    Bloody froth around his muzzle,
    A lesson to our canine friends,
    Sniff a bit before you guzzle
    Carpaccio of feral rat.

    Meals on the move are attractive,
    Hunting, catching and tucking in,
    But there’s an ugly dividend
    In a farci of Warfarin:
    Stick with Winalot and live.

    Now let’s gather round our Fido,
    And watch his doggy soul take wing,
    A better place he now attends,
    Where Jesu leads him round the ring,
    And G-d will make him Best In Show.

  94. November 25, 2009 9:26 PM

    That’s very good, MM. I’ve sometimes wondered, when a cat triumphantly appears with a dead rat in its mouth, whether said rat had already died of poison. Fortunately my cats have all been much too fussy to eat dead rodents, they usually just leave them under the sofa.

    I see that while the cat’s away (and Mishari too) you guys have been writing a novel here and all sorts…most impressive.. apologies for not joining in, but I’ve been moving house and also trying to do some work, only just keeping my own blog going at the moment. Hope to make more of a contribution soon.

  95. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 25, 2009 9:29 PM

    A Doggonnet for a Cat

    Asleep the pallug cat
    dozes hissing cat-dreams:
    fish-pie men in tuna coats
    that she’ll eat with double creams
    from heel of shoe to hat.

    For afters: curried dog
    and owner laced with jam.
    But for now, in hunger’s doze,
    it’s the lenten dreams that cram
    her gut like gut of hog.

    Though cat she’s also dogg
    of poet layabouts,
    who, for Muse, prefer a cat,
    or something thereabouts,
    but certainly a mog.

  96. freep permalink
    November 25, 2009 10:40 PM

    omg!! Jack & MM, you gone and done a doggone new mode of ode !!
    After my next refreshing sleep, will have to join the phun.

  97. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 25, 2009 11:49 PM

    Thanks, Zeph… Otherstuff is an oasis in the virtual desert. Long may it continue.

    Some remarkable stuff in that novel. Whatever Jack’s on, I wish I had some of it.

  98. mishari permalink*
    November 26, 2009 11:39 PM

    Hope your move wasn’t too traumatic, Zeph. You haven’t abandoned the East End and gone whoring after strange gods*, I hope?

    *…and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them…–Deuteronomy 31:16, KJV

  99. November 27, 2009 11:58 AM

    No, Mishari, I’ve only moved a few streets away, which should have made it easier but didn’t. Another bloody rental (don’t talk to me about managing agents, spit, grrr) and I’ve probably only got it for a year, but it’s got a garden and a cat-flap so some residents are happy.

    Glad you like the oasis, MM:)

  100. parallax permalink
    November 29, 2009 1:20 PM

    Guys (and mine host mish in particular), I have to fuck off for a while. To misquote Sontag: I’m busy regarding the grief of others – and when that’s done – a while perhaps – I’ll probably take off and travel for a bit to zap it all into perspective.

    Cheers, parallax

  101. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 29, 2009 1:40 PM

    See you later, para. Good luck.

    Am I the only person who never goes anywhere? My exposure to the outside world yesterday was limited to a trip to the dustbin.

  102. mishari permalink*
    November 29, 2009 1:59 PM

    Afternoon, chaps. For some reason, the internet connection I was using recently flatly refused to show me any wordpress blogs. Whether that had anything to do with the fact that the connection belonged to the local police chief (long story) and Moroccan state security doesn’t like wordpress, I don’t know. Maybe wordpress fell foul of the Moroccan law that makes it a criminal offence to criticise the king.

    Travel safely, para. Whatever you’re dealing with, I hope it all comes right. Keep us posted.

    Never mind, MM. Thoreau said that there’s no need to go to count all the cats in Zanzibar. I expect he meant you could just count the ones hanging around your dustbin.

    And rather than interpose on the novel thread and interrupt the flow, I just want to say how much I’m enjoying it. Great stuff, guys. I will chip in myself, soon.

    I see in the Indy that Todmorden is the UK’s ‘greenest’ town. Isn’t Polly from those parts?

  103. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 29, 2009 3:56 PM

    Morocco, eh? Thought you must be on the Hajj.

  104. November 30, 2009 9:09 AM

    MM Rembrandt said Don’t travel anywhere not even Italy so you’re in good company.

    Mishari was in Commercial Street working in Toynbee studios over the weekend. Whitechapel never changes does it? A lot of areas in London have purged them but down-and-outs/homeless still gravitate to that area.

    I like the Whitechapel Art gallery a lot but the contrast between the posh frock/smart fashion brigade in there and life on the streets just outside is even more marked than it was when I first used to go there 30 odd years ago.

  105. mishari permalink*
    November 30, 2009 12:49 PM

    Sadly, Al, Whitechapel (or more properly, the borough of Tower Hamlets) comes at the bottom of every table of ‘social indicators’–adequate housing, educational qualifications gained, youth employment, etc.

    As for the dossers, psycho-geographers like Iain Sinclair believe there are good occult reasons that Whitechapel attracts and has always attracted society’s outcasts and exiles.

    The radical social commentator Jack the Ripper, despite his erm..unorthodox methods, drew Victorian London’s attention to the shame of Whitechapel’s degradation and things did improve for a while. Perhaps we need another naughty Jack?

  106. November 30, 2009 3:00 PM

    Isn’t it about psychic energy generated by a triumverate of Hawksmoor churches or summat?

  107. November 30, 2009 3:50 PM

    Todmorden is the UK’s ‘greenest’ town – WHAT????

    Yes, Polly is from those parts (in fact that precise place) and will be wonderfully happy to be able to crow to the Hebden Bridge brigade if we really are the greenest town…

  108. November 30, 2009 3:56 PM

    Aha – I’ve found it, it’s that “Incredible Edible Todmorden” thing again. I have to admit to having been roped into planting herbs about the place, but generally I think it’s a load of hippy smoke-blowing.

    Fair play to them though, they are increasing my house price nicely…

  109. November 30, 2009 8:07 PM

    Polly They’ve been planting “herbs” in Tod and Hebden since the 60’s haven’t they? Is it now ecological to grow your own?

    If that’s the case judging by the size of the skunk crop that was grown on the floor below my old workshop I’d say Manchester has greater claims to being green than Tod and HB put together

  110. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 30, 2009 11:21 PM

    I’ve never been to Manchester. Or Todmorden or Hebden Bridge.

    Today I went to Tesco.

  111. November 30, 2009 11:39 PM

    Ah well if I was more of a proper townsfolk then I’d be able to tell you precisely what the hell the whole thing is about, but I just know that the premise is that there are communal planting areas about the town and anyone can plant and anyone supposedly can use the crop of herbs and vegetables. Like I’ve said before you take your chances that a drunk or a dog hasn’t urinated all over it all, or vomitted on it, but maybe that adds to the flavour? Also there is something about local produce and local meat, but a lot of places can boast local produce. I think it’s just been very well advertised and marketed and actually has hippy types running it who do something active rather than just meditate about the possibility of doing something active.

    I did want to call it “notable smokable todmorden” as quite frankly I think that certain herbs are definitely more grown than others, but they’d already printed all the flyers…

  112. November 30, 2009 11:40 PM

    Oh well Mowbray, you did one step better than me. Today Tesco came to me.

  113. mishari permalink*
    December 1, 2009 12:07 AM

    Yesterday-the dustbin, today-Tesco. Dr. Mowbray, I presume?
    At this rate, by the time this decade has ended, you’ll have reached the end of Ryde Pier.

  114. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 1, 2009 12:10 AM

    That’s my project for 2015.

  115. December 1, 2009 1:04 PM

    Would that be Ryde Pier on Mars MM after we’ve relocated the earth in 2012?

    What’s the chances the Mayans could have been right?

    And if they were so clever how did they not spot whatever it was that killed them off? I’m afraid this 2012 thing is going to become Polly’s favourite obsession until approximately December 22, 2012

  116. alarming permalink
    December 1, 2009 1:21 PM

    Polly I’ll never forgive the Mayans for not predicting that last year I would send in my company tax returns 2 day’s late and thus incur a hefty fine. They also never predicted that the tax office would stop sending reminder letters about this like they used to do and neglect to tell anyone that this was the ccase.

    Have we got the time? There are dozens of things I could complain about re: those bloody Mayans.

  117. December 1, 2009 2:00 PM

    Well you clearly didn’t sacrifice enough goats. Didn’t HMRC advise you about the dead goat levy?

  118. December 1, 2009 2:02 PM

    To prevent world disaster in 2012 you might have to sacrifice the pig.

  119. alarming permalink
    December 1, 2009 3:29 PM

    If you’re sacrificing goats I think you’ll get nowhere Polly. Humans sacrificed whilst on peyote is the Mayan way I believe.

  120. December 1, 2009 5:00 PM

    Oh right. I thought maybe with the advent of the Human Rights Act you’d have trouble these days, and human sacrifice would be a bugger to get cleared by health and safety.

  121. Captain Ned permalink
    December 1, 2009 6:13 PM

    We could sacrifice Richard Littlejohn. What a wonderful retort that would be to his Elfnsafety schtick.

  122. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 1, 2009 6:56 PM

    You’d need a bloody big knife.

    Nothing from you on the englynion front, Captain? I’ve been looking forward to reading something really authentic on there.

  123. December 1, 2009 7:35 PM

    MM Thanks for your ode to me but I was wondering if everyone else on that blog who doesn’t visit these shores would have a clue what you were on about.

    They probably immediately looked my name up on Wikipedia and thought you were penning a poem to a Tory minister who’s into Bob Marley.

    Would ping back a response but although the rhymes are not aproblem I can’t seem to count syllables at the moment. Perhaps I have lapsed back into broad Summerset where the “a” can be pronounced using at least 3 slightly varying syllables.

  124. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 1, 2009 10:48 PM

    You underestimate your celebrity, Al. The ode wasn’t much cop, but it’s difficult (for me at least) to make those engelyns sound natural. Taylor does have some decent rhymes, though. I hope you’ll give me credit for avoiding ‘sailor’, ‘Shayler’, ‘failure’ or ‘staler’ (oh, sorry).

  125. mishari permalink*
    December 1, 2009 11:02 PM

    Yeah, I agree, MM…they do seem to appear a bit forced. I wonder why? Is it because one’s paying close attention to the count and the rhyme scheme (to the detriment of the verse)?

    Personally, I find them a bit too inflexible. Whenever I think of an amusing conceit (inevitably involving MM and his ‘funny’ little ways) I’m brought up short by the realisation that the lines won’t fit.

    Pity Ned hasn’t chipped in with the real McCoy (or should that be ‘Jones the Real’?).

  126. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 1, 2009 11:29 PM

    I thought your Fat Cats, Thin Times was pretty good – the lines ran smoothly without the static which seems to occur in most of them. It can’t just be the metre, which is fairly common in hymns and whatnot. Those awkwardly placed rhymes tend to trip me up. HLMs were fab, but he seems to have stayed with the simpler form. I suppose we should remember that this is a type of verse produced by a primitive people to express thoughts which we would find incomprehensible or repulsive.

  127. mishari permalink*
    December 1, 2009 11:49 PM

    I’m usually comfortable with a strict form, so it’s not that, I think it’s that this particular form doesn’t allow enough room to develop a theme or an idea or not to my satisfaction, at any rate (although I note that you did pretty well with it).

    A villanelle is pretty restrictive, I guess, but you don’t have that strict syllable count. At the risk of sounding simplistic, I find myself counting the beats rather than sounding out the words.

    HLM’s another one like freep: I don’t think he could write rubbish verse if he tried.

  128. December 2, 2009 9:45 AM

    Though Shayler would fit in with the idea of expressing thoughts we find incomprehensible or repulsive.

    What a curious chap he is. A cross-dressing, conspiracy theorising, self-proclaimed Messiah who supports Middlesborough.

    More circles to square there than I’ve had hot dinners.

  129. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 2, 2009 12:24 PM

    He’s so typical of our world-class Secret Intelligence Service, isn’t he? I never took Auberon Waugh’s stuff about SIS being full of psychotic sexualists seriously back in the 70s, but as time goes on you realise how right he was.

  130. alarming permalink
    December 2, 2009 12:50 PM

    They seem only to employ people who can be caught in easily laid honey-traps and who have more skeletons in their closets than a serial killer. How do they get past the personality-profilers?

    Maybe it’s the tedium of the real job that starts the mind wandering in weird directions. I remember watching the Alec Guinness George Smiley TV show and thinking at the time how painfully dull it all aoppeared. Le Carre probably got it down pat.

  131. pinkroom permalink
    December 2, 2009 6:07 PM

    Shayler was a monkey hanger?

  132. December 2, 2009 8:16 PM

    Don’t know his origins PR but I couldn’t imagine choosing to support Middlesborough if you weren’t born there.

  133. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 2, 2009 8:42 PM

    The monkey was Hartlepool, wasn’t it?

    The selection of those SIS characters is the key point. Just imagine the nutters they have doing the interviewing. How did an obvious flake like Michael Bettany get through selection?

    Seeing them in the flesh doesn’t inspire much confidence. There was a series a while back in which ex-Special Branch coppers reminisced about their days infiltrating organisations like the WRP and the Rev Com Party. They spoke with pride of how they stemmed the Red Menace which threatened to subvert British society. I knew quite a few members of both groups (used to score dope off some blokes who had a flat above the WRP HQ in Forest Gate) and a more incompetent, bumbling set of nerks I never met. A ten-year-old child could have put the skids under them.

  134. Pollyanna permalink
    December 2, 2009 8:58 PM

    Yep the monkey hangers are from Hartlepool. Some legend that they thought a monkey who survived a shipwreck was a French spy and hung it. I don’t know if it’s true.

    Folks from Middlesbrough are called smoggies.

  135. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 2, 2009 11:35 PM

    Yes, it’s true. I think it was around Easter last year.

  136. pinkroom permalink
    December 3, 2009 12:09 AM

    Yes Easter Monday… coroner reported a joint venture/collective hysteria inspired by chocolate and chemical poisoning: smoggies/Hartlepoolians seem to have a thing about hunting down spies.

  137. December 3, 2009 10:38 AM

    I’m not sure that there is much else to do around there…

  138. mishari permalink*
    December 3, 2009 8:40 PM

    Evening all. Back in London for the weekend. Jesus, what awful fucking weather. Still, at least I can log on to wordpress without any trouble (something I was having trouble with elsewhere).

    I must say, I did take a great deal of pleasure in logging on to Grauniad Towers and posting rubbish on CiF while whizzing through the Spanish/Franco landscape on a train. What a fucking techno-weenie I am.

    Morrissey is teaming up with Stella McCartney to produce a range of vegan footwear. –Grauniad, today

    Zowie…I can barely contain my excitement at this epochal news. I hope they’re made of spinach. I like spinach…or mangoes…or even mango chutney (hard to polish but fabulously comfortable). Whatever. I’m fucking psyched, d00d!

  139. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    December 3, 2009 8:55 PM

    macca and mozza
    have you got a light macro
    biotic slipper

  140. December 3, 2009 10:39 PM

    If you’re at a loose end in London, Mishari, I can recommend the new Medieval rooms at the V&A. They opened yesterday, in honour of my return to these shores.

  141. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 3, 2009 11:33 PM

    Not recommended for the ass, so I’m told.

    Welcome back to sunny England, Exit, Mishari. Tomorrow I drive the three miles to Havenstreet, where I pick up a Roman blind. It’s the closest I’ll come to Italy this year.

    Self-pity. Christmas was made for it.

  142. mishari permalink*
    December 4, 2009 2:08 AM

    I planned to check out the new Medieval Rooms, XB. They sound fantastic. I just have a horrible feeling they’ll be so crowded with noisy, ignorant gawkers and their fat, sticky off-spring that I’ll be unable to enjoy it. We’ll see.

    What do you need a Roman for, MM? Has your Etruscan broken down again? Shoddy foreign workmanship…that’ll teach you to buy British. When you say you’ll be picking one up ‘blind’, do you mean along the lines of one of those blind tastings?

    Poke, pinch, squeeze, sniff, taste…’he’ll do’?

    BTW I’m shooting the final 4 episodes of SOA Season 2 down to you this weekend…and splendid ‘hostage crisis’ englyn on PP.

  143. December 4, 2009 9:11 AM

    Do visit, Mishari, although maybe not on a weekend…

    It’s really a new museum they’ve opened; I recognised various objects from other parts of the V&A, often the remotest, dingy corners, revitalised by a bit of decent lighting and surrounding context. The focus given to medieval wooden statues, which I’ve loved from several Dutch museums and the Bodesmuseum in Berlin, is wonderful. That and the Bealtles Remaster box-set arriving at my door yesterday have certainly cushioned the blow of returning home. A trip to the West End this afternoon should either kill that with crowds or enhance the festiveness.

  144. mishari permalink*
    December 4, 2009 12:32 PM

    Two years ago I discovered my husband was masturbating to porn videos up to 20 hours a day.

    Letter to Pamela Stephenson Connolly, Grauniad Agony Aunt, Dec 4, 2009

    Try to avoid blame and instead pay attention to some serious issues that must be addressed immediately.

    from Pamela’s answer

    Gee, Pam…you think? There’s a man you can, without hesitation, call a wanker. The only thing I’ve ever done for 20 hours a day is breathe.

  145. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 4, 2009 2:24 PM

    You must be pretty good at holding your breath. [after years of practice, I’m up to 4 hours-Ed.]

    Thanks for the SOA, which is quite engrossing. Have you tried Breaking Bad yet? It’s very good – nameescapesme [Bryan Cranston-Ed.] was fab in Malcolm In The Middle, and Tim Whatley in Seinfeld was a class bit of acting.

    I think you’ve misunderstood the Roman pick-up. They are Roman Catholics, not Latin-speaking proto-Italians. We use them for fuel round here.

  146. mishari permalink*
    December 4, 2009 3:25 PM

    I’ve now watched all of Breaking Bad (there is apparently a 3rd series on the way). I think it’s excellent. Terrific performances all around, great script, compelling off-beat story, all shot in that bleak, empty New Mexico landscape. Great stuff.

    The season 2 finale of SOA is pretty gripping too. Some terrific, unexpected plot twists that leave one eager to see season 3.

  147. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 5, 2009 10:15 AM

    Bryan Cranston.

    I see Gordon is attacking climate change deniers. Global warming must be bollocks then.

  148. December 5, 2009 10:25 PM

    20 hours a day? That’s some stamina. She ought to plug the national grid into him.

  149. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 6, 2009 12:10 AM

    You would think it would be worn to a stump after a couple of days.

    Finally finished my englynion in honour of Wales and discovered they’ve closed the thread. Fucking typical.

  150. mishari permalink*
    December 6, 2009 12:27 AM

    Just post it here, MM.

  151. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 6, 2009 12:44 AM

    Right ho.

    Glwad, glwad

    On the mountain and the plain
    there are several types of rain
    which fall on the land of Wales
    So why do the Welsh remain?

    There’s the monsoon from the west,
    with its keen Atlantic zest
    whose hygroscopic heft
    all and every cleft infests,

    there’s the horizontal blast
    which soaks from keel to mast,
    the raindrops hitting the floor
    bouncing up to hit your arse,

    the gentle April shower
    whose unexpected power
    hits you like a rolling pin
    and gives your skin a scour,

    or falls from the sky like lead
    as something heavy and dead
    whose individual drops
    flatten the top of your head,

    but if there is one grizzle
    which makes the grockles sizzle
    and think the place infernal
    it’s that eternal drizzle.

    On their mountains and their plains
    there are tonnes and tonnes of rain
    so why don’t the Welsh get out?
    The rain has rotted their brains.

  152. December 6, 2009 12:47 AM

    20 hours! Is that one long wank? Tantric wanking…Maybe this woman is married to Sting?

  153. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 6, 2009 12:48 AM

    Pretty ramshackle, but should embellish my rep for unthinking racism. I’ll stick it on PP if it makes it back.

    Something on the vulva was very tempting on POTW but I manfully resisted. Perhaps I’m growing up at last.

  154. mishari permalink*
    December 6, 2009 12:51 AM

    Welsh weather is no laughing matter. Prepare for the wrath of Ned of Wales to descend on your benighted head.

    BTW, I’ve stuck a couple of new films on the SOA disk–Herzog’s re-make of The Bad Lieutenant and Law Abiding Citizen. Haven’t watched either of them myself so I make no recommendations.

  155. mishari permalink*
    December 6, 2009 12:53 AM

    Why would something on a Swedish make of car be appropriate for POTW?

  156. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 6, 2009 1:04 AM

    Sounds interesting. I couldn’t find Terminator Salvation on the Nov 10th DVD, btw. This Is Not A Complaint. I was thinking of sending you a bottle of the sloe gin I’ve been curating for the last couple of months. Should I wait for your return in the New Year? You may need access to emergency facilities.

  157. mishari permalink*
    December 6, 2009 1:54 AM

    Really? That’s odd. I could’ve sworn I burned it on. Oh, well…I’ll just burn it onto this one. Sorry about that.

    Thanks for the kind offer but sloe gin is one of those drinks (blended scotch and cherry brandy are a couple of others) with which I had very unhappy experiences many years ago. The very thought of them makes feel queasy…just drink to the health of my little tribe of Frenchwomen (well, woman), impudent dwarves and animals.

  158. December 6, 2009 10:52 AM

    re: Mrs. Sting. How on earth could the husband keep 20 hours of porn-watching and its attendant activity secret from his wife unless their marriage was already up shit creek?

    Did the fact that he was at home all day, never did any household chores and seemingly never came to bed either not alert her to the fact something was amiss? Not to mention the complete lack of energy, moral fibre which Mountbatten in his book ( which isn’t called Scouting For Boys but should be ) tells us are THE symptoms of beastliness.

  159. Pollyanna permalink
    December 6, 2009 1:25 PM

    Well I wasn’t going to get in to all those questions Al, seeing as we are, as far as I know, not running an agony aunt column here, but that did all strike me too. If your husband can do anything secret for 20 hours a day without you noticing you’ve got to be in the most pointless marriage in the entire world, surely?

    There being some serious issues which she needs to address is the biggest understatement I’ve heard in a long time!

    MM if you’re bothering to get round to watching Terminator Salvation then just fast-forward any bits with Christian Bale in and I think you’ll get a half-decent film.

  160. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 6, 2009 4:45 PM

    I’ll bear that in mind, Poll, as soon as I figure out who Christian Bale is. I wonder if he is related to Al? The Straw-Bales are very numerous in his part of the world.

    Unfortunately my single malt, or ‘Islandlay’ as I call it, won’t be ready for a couple of months, Sir. I only put the turnips in to steep yesterday, and the mangels need a frost on them before they go in. Does everyone have a cherry brandy experience? The adolescent party where the drink runs out leaving just the family Xmas bottles seems to be an important source. That cocktail of ouzo, avocaat, tia maria and cherry brandy lives in the gut-memory for ever.

  161. mishari permalink*
    December 6, 2009 5:37 PM

    …avocaat, a drink made from lawyers (as the late Alan Coren once claimed).

Comments are closed.