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Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

January 15, 2010


.

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Slander is worse than cannibalism – St. John Chrysostom

Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. – Herman Melville

There is no cannibalism in the British navy, absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount. – Graham Chapman in a Monty Python sketch

Unable to sleep in the small hours of this morning, I got out of bed and watched the recently released film of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. As a great admirer of McCarthy’s work since first reading Blood Meridian some twenty years ago, I was interested to see if the film-makers had stayed faithful to the book.

I expect the basic storyline is tolerably familiar to most people by now, given the reviews and publicity the film has had. A father and son travel through a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape. It rains incessantly and everything is broken, shattered and decayed. The sky is a turmoil of ugly chemical colours and giant fires dot the horizon.

It’s 10 years after some unspecified cataclysmic event that has destroyed America (and by implication, the world). All the structures and norms of society have crumbled and gangs of cannibals roam the landscape in search of prey. It’s a bit like Gaza, really, except for the cannibals.

You can tell it’s an American vision of a post-apocalyptic world because everyone has very bad teeth.

So, yes: the film-makers adhered faithfully to the book and it makes for a very grim 110-odd minutes.

But it got me thinking about cannibalism: under what circumstances would I (or any of us) consume human flesh? My instinctive reaction is never: I’d rather starve to death. But would I? Really?

After all, it’s just meat and God knows, I have no objection to being eaten myself once I’m dead: worms or people–eaten is eaten. Clearly, murdering people for food is very wrong but is eating people inherently wrong? Or is it just cultural baggage like our objection to eating insects (considered a delicacy in some cultures)?

Sharpen your teeth, set that missionary-sized pot on the fire and let’s have poems on cannibalism.

75 Comments
  1. January 15, 2010 12:23 PM

    I’m seeing this film before the day’s end
    And if there’s no popcorn, I’ll just eat my friend

    • Polly permalink
      January 19, 2010 6:54 PM

      Ha ha. Simple but effective Ex B!

  2. mishari permalink*
    January 15, 2010 12:31 PM

    You won’t need butter or stuff like that
    As long as your friend is sufficiently fat.

  3. January 15, 2010 12:42 PM

    We only had between us twenty-two pee
    The smallest bag’o’chips were thirty-three
    The corner shop was unexpectedly closed
    So our basest urges were cruelly exposed.
    A toss of the coin when all else fails
    The loser looks to heav’n and his fate bewails.
    His last words to me as his body I did maim
    “If it were the other way round I’d do the same”.

  4. pinkroom permalink
    January 15, 2010 4:24 PM

    At the shipwreck of SS Bush,
    I crawled upon the raft
    “Don’t let that limey on here dude,
    what are we? Fucking daft.”

    His bleat ignored, they hauled me on
    but I marked that fatboy’s card,
    when boot was on the other foot
    I’d pay him back, and hard.

    The next few weeks were Hell on sea
    I need not call your tears
    but proper eating, sad to say
    was worse than all your fears.

    Not long before the dead was ate
    and after that the dying,
    and if I said I made no taste,
    you’d have to say, “You’re lying.”

    For supper-time became my treat
    above the daily nightmare,
    a salty mouthful, much like Pork
    succored me, like no fare.

    But I took on sights, I took on dreams;
    not mine, they drove me mad
    and time came soon, when no more meat
    was to be easy had.

    And so I had him in my sights,
    the Yank who’d rather drowned me;
    I stole upon him in the night
    and stuck the flesh beneath me.

    Fat and bleeding, how he squealed,
    in T shirt and short pants,
    a double chin, behind his neck,
    he yelped and bucked and danced.

    ***

    Now as the rescue skiff arrives
    I gulp the last of kidney,
    “We’ll, he’d have let me drown,”
    says I.
    “He had his choices,
    didn’t he?”

  5. January 15, 2010 8:05 PM

    “Just think”, laughed Buffy Fearnley-Whittingstall,
    “a hundred years ago my grandpa wrote,
    and talked on early forms of picturewall
    about the joys of eating hen and goat.

    Now we all know (how things have changed since then!)
    that long-pig is the most delicious meat.
    Good Dawkins! I wouldn’t eat a dirty hen!
    Welsh baby, now, that is a proper treat –

    something about the water, or the air,
    I’ve never found a Scot to be as tasty –
    or Hampshire toddler à la meunière
    or Cornish urchin in a shortcrust pasty.

    People adapted quickly once they tried,
    accepted what the answer had to be –
    cut down the population or we’re fried –
    the perfect food was walking round for free!

    My grandpa’s rustic pals weren’t keen on change,
    he’d be amazed how their descendants thrive,
    farming still, but he’d find the stock quite strange –
    ah, progress! Makes you glad to be alive!”

  6. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 15, 2010 8:15 PM

    Everyday Cannibalism

    she’s swallowing
    those tadpole-

    selves
    of himself

    himillions
    of soft versions

    frogments
    of light

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  7. freep permalink
    January 15, 2010 9:58 PM

    Excellent stuff; enjoyed yours in particular, zeph, made me want to rush out and buy a rind of well basted and crunchy Welsh pensioner, but the chippies in these parts are unadventurous.
    Mish, I saw The Road last week and was disappointed; after the pretty riveting book, it seemed predictable; I resented the product placement (Jack Daniels, Coke as usual) in such an austere piece, and the boy’s frequent questions about who were good guys and bad guys felt like Disneyfication… just seen Up in the Air, however, a lightweight vehicle for George Clooney, but a film well made, with snappy dialogue and some subtle satire ….
    Cannibalism to follow

  8. mishari permalink*
    January 15, 2010 10:13 PM

    Yeah, I’m in two minds about The Road myself, freep…it also struck a false note (for me) when they stumble across the survival shelter packed with food, medicines, etc but no firearms.

    There are few countries in the world as in love with firearms as the US and the first thing that any survivalist would consider is weaponry. The product placement jarred, too.

    Mind you, it could have been far, far worse…a love interest, car chases, speeches about the sanctity of ‘liberty’, all the usual crap. Apparently, McCarthy himself was pleased with the result, for what it’s worth.

    Up In The Air was lightweight but I was engaged and entertained.

    Tasty stuff, PR, Zeph and Jack…

  9. mishari permalink*
    January 16, 2010 12:24 AM

    No Strangers: Only People I Haven’t Eaten

    Take a fat Italian and make a nice ragu
    A Chinaman goes very well with noodles
    An Irishman will make an especially fine stew
    The French are best when roasted with their poodles.

    An Indian’s delicious with some fine Basmati rice
    An Arab is for frying when well-oiled
    A Finn that’s steamed and stuffed is particularly nice
    Germans are quite rich and should be boiled.

    A Scotsman is a treat when he’s cooked with native oats
    A Belgian’s not worth much except for stock
    Russians are quite tasty when they’re cooked inside their coats
    No Welshman’s fit for food (except the cock).

    Broaden your horizons and seek out new cuisine
    There’s people/food most everywhere you look
    That all that meat should go to waste in graves is just obscene
    Eat people, boys, and then go write a book.

  10. hic8ubique permalink
    January 16, 2010 2:56 AM

    Every day, Jack?
    I confess. I’m impressed.

  11. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    January 16, 2010 8:29 AM

    Guess who’s coming soon to the West End…

    From the wilds of Colorado
    Comes a tale of great bravado
    To strike fear into a lardo
    Such as me

    It tells of a desperado
    Who set out for El Dorado
    His gold fever overshadowed
    By his tea

    This here ‘guide’ named Alferd Packer
    Ordinarily a slacker
    Masqueraded as a tracker
    For a fee

    Those gold miners and their backer
    Lived in fear of a bushwacker
    So they’d hire the odd shelf-stacker
    Who could ski

    With the new Nelly Furtado
    Blaring from their Silverado
    So Corrado and Delgado
    Took a pee

    Packer killed them. Then, tostado,
    With a side of avocado,
    Ate them. Incommunicado
    He would be

    When he started splashing acker
    Folk began to suspect Packer
    And his tale of an attacker
    Didn’t gel

    Now his cellmate ex-linebacker
    A hacker and a safe cracker
    Are co-writing ‘Alferd Packer:
    Musical’

  12. January 16, 2010 10:26 AM

    Come now Jack, needs must
    Park yourself in that pie crust
    Your legs are too long I’ll get a knife
    Don’t you worry I’ll phone your wife.
    She will think you’re coming home late
    I’ll have to tell her that you’ve been ate.
    So stay still while I baste your body
    If you wriggle my efforts will look shoddy.
    It’s done, now to put you in the oven
    What a feast for our satanic coven.

  13. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 16, 2010 3:02 PM

    To eat me whole inside a pie,
    and thus decide when I’m to die,
    would be a meal I’ll beg to miss
    and thus I send you merely this:

    My flesh, indeed, is mainly gristle,
    best to chew upon a thistle;
    please take my word, it’s no excuse,
    for pies or puddings I’d be no use.

    Your culinary friend
    Jack Brae

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 16, 2010 7:30 PM

    La Condition Humaine

    7, Pont Street
    Open 7-10pm Mon-Sat

    It’s a very dull dining-room,
    hide seats, bone china, dense brocades,
    and glowing in the gothic gloom,
    some rather unusual lamp-shades.

    First up a nice amuse-bouche
    of very spicy curried thumbs,
    the nails we tear off to crush
    and chew until our starter comes,

    which is a terrine des yeux,
    bleus et bruns. The gelatine
    is made from the vitreous humour,
    a lovely touch. Very fine.

    For main course I have the jambon
    Michael Caine, a superb ham , while
    my friend has the vulve au Caen
    farci de membre virile.

    I had been keen to give a try
    to their specialty, Arab brain;
    sadly, we were told with a sigh,
    they’re very rare and hard to obtain.

    I nibbled on my friend’s penis,
    which I found disagreeably hard,
    and though the vulva was delicious
    the jus of ejaculate jarred.

    We finished with candied eyelids,
    earwax and head cheese on crackers
    with a glass of body fluids.
    Final bill: just sixty smackers.

    A very reasonable sum,
    so the verdict I’m giving you
    is a ( very ) cautious thumbs-up
    ( I don’t want mine on the menu ).

  15. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 16, 2010 7:31 PM

    Mish

    At the risk of my first effort suggesting something somewhat auto-erotic (God forbid!!!!) could you please get the Ed to change the first line to:

    she’s swallowing [Done-Ed.]

    Best
    Jack Brae

  16. freep permalink
    January 17, 2010 1:12 PM

    Hannibal Hubbard’s Complaint to his Mother

    ‘Mother, you’ve left all the teeth in this pie
    And a kneecap all covered in jelly;
    You always give father the ear and the eye,
    And leave us the groin vermicelli.’

    ‘Son, I’ve cooked prime cockney wench for this day
    Who fell from a building on high;
    Her innards were tangled a little, I’d say
    So I’ve called it Confused Woman Pye.’

    ‘Last week we had boring old Yorkshireman braised,
    Before that, tired Bosnian bake;
    I wish that your cookery skills could be raised
    To serve up a clean Spaniard’s steak.’

    ‘Rumps are saved for your corpsewinner father, my sweet;
    You know how he likes them so rare;
    While your brothers delight in the hands and the feet,
    The parts that your sisters can’t bear.’

    ‘So, what’s left in the freezer for dinner next week,
    Dear Ma? I know there’s Welsh lung;
    Pole’s fungus, Sikh temples, boiled Greek;
    Did you say the French colon was hung?’

    ‘Your granddad’s just found us a fresh little Scot
    Who tripped o’er the edge of a cliff;
    She’s tender, she’s juicy, believe it or not,
    And I’m longing to slice her midriff.’

    ‘O great! A fresh Pict! Will you save me the brain?
    In syrup, for pudding, o please…?’
    ‘Grandpa says the brain’s missing;
    But I’ll candy her elbows and knees….’

  17. Captain Ned permalink
    January 17, 2010 1:20 PM

    What a sumptuous feast we have here! Here’s my contribution:

    HESTON
    after ‘Horace’ by Monty Python

    Much to his viewers’ drooling glee,
    Heston ate himself on TV.
    The cameras caught his final meal
    Initial bite to dying squeal.
    A fricassee of shins and feet
    Is followed by a tasty treat:
    A tempting tray of tiny pies
    Containing tendons, knees and thighs.
    He boils his bumcheeks, zits and all,
    Then braises each big Blumenball.
    His cock, he curries and consumes;
    A sated belch the air perfumes.
    He sits contented, belly filled;
    Concerned execs look less than thrilled.
    Is this a loss of appetite?
    Has Superman met kryptonite?
    But after a commercial break
    He springs to life, his greed awake.
    His fingers, dipped in armagnac,
    Are found to be a scrumptious snack.
    His hands are sliced for Melba toast;
    His severed arms form Sunday roast.
    His manboobs, fried, are magnifique –
    Much acclaimed as cuisine classique.
    His liver? A paté (but of course!);
    Now for kidneys in black bile sauce.
    His offal must not go to waste,
    So it’s ground to a piquant paste
    As garnish for his sautéd brains
    (It adds to flavour, chef explains).
    His massive head is baked entire –
    A dish to make Carême expire.
    And so he eats, and eats, and eats,
    Enraptured by these juicy meats,
    Until a stomach’s all that’s left.
    But this survivor’s not bereft,
    Only hungry still, bawling ‘More!’
    It’s the latest star on E4.

  18. mishari permalink*
    January 17, 2010 3:16 PM

    Politely Homicidal: The Go-To Blog For Superlative Cannibal Verse. You’ll Come For The Poetry, You’ll Stay For The Food.

  19. freep permalink
    January 17, 2010 6:13 PM

    Bugger the poetry mate, I’m only here for the earwax chutney.

  20. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 17, 2010 11:48 PM

    Some very tasty red meat here. A special shout for the Captain – I laughed loud enough to draw disapproving stares from the Wallander-watchers around me. I’ll never be able to watch HB without seeing his massive head baked entire.

  21. January 18, 2010 12:03 PM

    Cosy,warm and dark in here
    A delicious recipe of comfort and fear.
    Womb or tomb? I must say I
    Like to be encased within this pie.
    Chilly out there I’m better off inside
    Dodging responsibility, where better to hide?

    Short-term thinking, short crust pastry
    My lifelong desire – to end up tasty.

  22. mishari permalink*
    January 18, 2010 12:21 PM

    Life is crap, an utter hole
    I need to serve some higher purpose
    Chop me up inside a roll
    And serve to punters at Al’s circus.

  23. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 18, 2010 4:32 PM

    If I bit into my lunchtime snack
    and found the Prince or Alarming
    I’d find the chef and break his back
    after I’d puked my ring.

  24. January 18, 2010 4:37 PM

    Melton Mowbray pork pies.

    Need I say more?

  25. January 18, 2010 5:01 PM

    I’ve been sitting here all day
    Trying to write this sodding play
    No time to eat but hunger lingers
    I started eating my own

  26. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    January 18, 2010 7:28 PM

    Try a brace of Gregg Wallace eggs
    In a sauce of Michel Roux
    Or a banger of the frog’s legs
    In the hole of John Torode

  27. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    January 18, 2010 7:31 PM

    Mish, could you swap sauce for pastry. Trying too hard for a balnced diet…

  28. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 18, 2010 9:24 PM

    Left alone to chew my fingers
    I curse you all, you well-fed mingers.
    You went away and made some pies
    from Mowbray’s brains and Mowbray’s eyes
    and left me off the invite list.
    Believe me, I’m completely pissed.
    (Not from beer or wine or vodka,
    but from dismissal. Well, sod ya!)

    Jack Brae

  29. January 19, 2010 1:59 PM

    Jack now don’t get all vexed and edgy
    We thought you was a bleedin’ veggie
    Feasting on braised pulses and quorn
    Stuff that makes decent people yawn
    Now we know you’re one of us
    Come dine on creme brulee a la pus.

  30. January 19, 2010 2:47 PM

    Only just got to catch up with things here, actually by catch up I just mean snatch two minutes to come and bother you guys, without actually reading what you’ve written…

    Misha, the film sounds interesting. Caught about two minutes of some film called Doomsday last night where Sean Pertwee was being cooked alive and then eaten by some Scottish punks who needed a good wash. I thought they’d cooked him a bit too much personally, very burnt round the edges and no sauce or seasoning.

    It of course taps into my worst fear, or being burnt. Not something I enjoy watching really, so I decided against finding out what happened next.

    The question of when you’d eat someone is very interesting and one which we’d all answer fairly coyly when we aren’t faced with the issue, but you never know until you’re in a terrible situation. I asked a friend, in the midst of the latest snow blitz, that if she was snowed in and had run out of food, would she eat the cat food. After considering it she said, no, she would eat the cat. I was rather taken aback at this sudden lack of “pet”ernal instinct, but then she said it made sense then she could eat its food as well.

    I still think it was a bit extreme. The snow melts and you’re still making broth from poor tiddles with a cupboard full of Sheba.

  31. January 19, 2010 2:50 PM

    OH yes, Mowbray I’ve been recording Survivors on your recommendation. Although I didn’t see series 1, so I’m not sure how much sense it will make. Anything I really need to know, apart from apocalyptic stuff happened causing the survivors to run out of water and food and supplies, people turning on each other? That sort of thing.

    Anyway it’s on my sky planner along with World Strongest Man, to watch tonight. I must buy some popcorn.

    Saw Avatar yesterday. Very good. 3D effects were not to make you feel sick when they poked things out of the screen, but instead designed to make you feel part of the film, and it worked. A nice story, well done I thought.

  32. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 19, 2010 3:16 PM

    It was the 70s series I rated Poll, not this one. Once I realised this was series 2 I couldn’t see much point in watching it. I suggest you scrap it and install Glee, which is quite funny. You can singalong to it as well.

    City or United tonight, Al? It’s about time the sheikhs saw a return on their investment.

  33. January 19, 2010 3:21 PM

    I’ve seen Glee advertised. How much have I missed? I hate missing the beginning of things.

    Al, are you United or City? Presumably technically living in Manchester you should support City, yes?

  34. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 19, 2010 3:32 PM

    The first 2 episodes are probably on 4 OD. I would hope that Al is a Bristol Rovers fan at heart.

  35. January 19, 2010 3:47 PM

    I support neither and now live outside of Manchester. But I have a softer spot for City as I know and have worked with so many of their supporters who’ve followed them through thick and thin. I have been to see both and found the United supporters to be really quiet and dull in comparison with the City fans whio’ve had far less to shout about.

    Have had antipathy for United ever since I was at school when it was obvious they were basking in past glories. They are obviously more successful now but it’s still enjoyable to have the odd bit of antipathy.

    Glee is very slick, it has good singing and the occasional good off-colour joke but they chew through plot-lines at a rate of knots. It’s as if the script writers have shorter attention spans than their public. The tyro director story could have been extended far more than it was. Obviously using the surplus crystal meth from the Breaking Bad set next door.

  36. January 19, 2010 3:49 PM

    MM Frome Town Rovers if you don’t mind.

  37. mishari permalink*
    January 19, 2010 4:13 PM

    Frome Town Lurchers, surely?

  38. January 19, 2010 4:30 PM

    some of them were actual dogs. The left back position was always difficult to fill due to the potency of the local scrumpy.

  39. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    January 19, 2010 6:50 PM

    Jack and Parson Russell would put Gary and Phil Neville to shame. Not to mention Rafael and Fabio Da Silva…

  40. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 19, 2010 7:43 PM

    Oh, I don’t know. I hear Gary is a very good ratter.

    Fair criticism, Al. Episode 3 seemed a bit chaotic to me. Part of its appeal is hearing that strange argot which American high school students speak, which I thought reached its pinnacle in Clueless. I’ve no idea how authentic it is. I know the Prince attended college in the US: perhaps he attended high school there as well.

  41. mishari permalink*
    January 19, 2010 8:24 PM

    I did, MM..at least, partly: Bigelow Jr. High and Shaw Prep. ..but that was a very long time ago and US teen-speak mutates and changes even as you watch it so unless this series you’re on about was set in the late 60s, I’d be no help, I’m afraid.

  42. Polly permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:24 PM

    Good poems here. I’ve just been working through them. It amazes me how much good quality poetry you lot can write, about subjects which people wouldn’t consider poetic!

    Some more than a little reminiscent of The Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite, which is one step beyond American Psycho and apparently puts me firmly into the sick column because I have a copy of it on my desk at work. I feel it gives me a bit of a dark edge…

  43. mishari permalink*
    January 19, 2010 8:33 PM

    Well, they’re trying especially hard, Pol. They know that the annual PH Poetry Prize (£1 million and a lifetime’s pass to Raymond’s Revue Bar) is coming up soon.

    Nothing spurs a poet on like money and naked dancing women (of course, an alternative secondary prize will be arranged for poets whose tastes run in other directions but the principle’s the same).

  44. Polly permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:39 PM

    I could probably cope with the naked women too. I’m not fussy…

  45. mishari permalink*
    January 19, 2010 9:44 PM

    Speaking of unusual foodstuffs:

    The baker of Hovis bread was fined £750 after a woman in Northern Ireland found part of an oven glove baked into a slice, it was revealed today.

    The victim toasted the white bread and had begun to eat it when she noticed the material.

    The packet turned out to be full of shreds of the hessian-type cloth.

    A spokesman for Premier Foods said: “We go to great lengths to assure the quality of our great British brands but on this isolated occasion we have fallen short of our usual high standards and apologise for any distress caused to the customer.” – The Indy, today

    I love that ‘…we have fallen short of our usual high standards..’. Baking a fucking oven glove into a loaf comes under the heading of ‘falling short‘? Jesus…

  46. January 19, 2010 10:27 PM

    When I was a student I found a black bin bag inside a Mother’s Pride Loaf – each slice had a big black spot in the middle of it. Tasted delicious and saved me having to think what to spread on the bread. Toasting it caused a strange toxic cloud in the kitchen but it was but one toxic cloud amongst many in a student house…….so no big deal.

  47. mishari permalink*
    January 19, 2010 10:39 PM

    Having bought a bottle of Jameson’s on-board a cross-channel ferry and being careless of niceties, I uncapped the bottle when I got back on deck and took a long swig…and gagged on something.

    It turned out to be a sprouted head of grain; barley, perhaps? Anyway, I kept it and when I got home, I wrapped it in a sheet of paper and wrote to John Jameson’s in Dublin, enclosing the offending item and including the various ID numbers on the bottle, date and place of purchase, etc.

    I enclosed a cordial letter, explaining that I’d enjoyed their product for all of my adult life and would remain a happy customer but just thought they’d like to know.

    About 6-8 weeks later, I’d forgotten all about the incident when a PO van turned up with a delivery for me.

    It was 6 litre bottles of Jameson’s with a friendly letter, disclaiming all knowledge of the offending head of grain but extending the hand of goodwill, as it were. This, mind you, was years ago, when I was perpetually broke so it was a bit of a result.

  48. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 20, 2010 12:32 AM

    Nice to see Ferguson with that boiled look again.

    I was speaking historically there, sire. The slang when I was at school seemed to have originated in the Dark Ages and remained unchanged since. Perhaps the mutation you remark on illustrates the gulf between the arthritic old world and the thrusting new. I expect you regret not partaking of the British education system. Cold showers, sodomy and frequent beatings make a man of you, sugar.

  49. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 20, 2010 12:36 AM

    6 litres of whiskey! Not bad. I got £7.50 from Cadbury’s when I found a blob of dark stuff on a bit of choc. I ate round it and sent it in. Turned out to be the veg oil they lubricate the machines with.

  50. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2010 1:11 AM

    I used to know a woman, years ago in the US, who’d turned the whole thing into a racket. She’d write and complain about defective this and unsatisfactory that and the companies, fanatically averse to bad publicity or even (God forbid) legal action, would shower her with free cases of stuff, which she would mostly sell on. Quite funny, really.

    There’s an old story, possibly apocryphal but I think it’s true, about a fellow who was driving a RR from the UK to India, sometime in the 1940s.

    Somewhere in eastern Turkey, the car broke down: the engine threw a rod or something. Chap got in touch with RR HQ in Derby, who flew a couple of engineers out there with the needful parts. They repaired the car and off the fellow went to India.

    When he returned to the UK, he got in touch with RR to thank them for their prompt attention and to see if he owed them anything. They denied all knowledge of the incident. “Our cars do not break down, sir”. And that was that.

  51. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2010 1:14 AM

    BTW, MM…because I had to use an additional disc for those flicks, rather than waste the space, I added:

    High Life, a crime and drugs comedy/drama with Timothy Oliphant (Sheriff Bullock in Deadwood); Paranormal Activity; The new Sherlock Holmes; How To Lose Friends and Alienate People and 44-inch Chest (East End gangster/geezers Mamet-like chamber piece with John Hurt, Ray Winstone and Iain McShane).

  52. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:50 AM

    Ah Mish

    What an error you made! No wonder that the distillers of Jameson’s claimed no knowledge of that sprouted grain. I’m sure they made good use of it and laughed at your naivety. It’s my sad duty to inform you that what you found in that bottle was a gift of the Whiskey Goddess. If you’d planted it in your garden it would have grown, undoubtedly overnight, into a Whiskey Tree. No wonder they sent you six bottles of the stuff, a sparse harvest indeed from their already vast orchard of Whiskey Trees.

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  53. January 20, 2010 9:48 AM

    When I lived in London we had an alias – Miles Standing: bus conductor – who used to send items back in an attempt to get replacements. The faulty goods would be accompanied by a rambling letter of complaint from Miles. All inspired by Joe Orton’s letter writing nuisance Edna Welthorpe who used to confuse newspaper editors and local vicars with her letters of “requests” and criticisms.

    Cadbury’s obliged us with a few chocolate bars but Persil refused to play the game. I have boycotted their produce ever since.

  54. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 20, 2010 11:57 AM

    Thanks for the extras. I was surprised to see in Hoggart’s column that Ray Winstone hails from Cirencester. I was quite excited ( loved him in Sexy Beast, and the scene in the car with McShane was unimprovable ) but on checking Wiki I see he was born in Hackney, though his parents come from Ciren. Bloody journalists.

    Cadbury’s seem pretty generous. I suppose that will all change soon. You’ll just get a couple of cheese slices for the rat’s head in your creme egg. What can you complain to Persil about? Cockroaches in the washing powder?

  55. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2010 12:26 PM

    That your clothes didn’t come out ‘whiter than white’ and smelling ‘April fresh’, perhaps? Tough one to prove, though.

  56. January 20, 2010 12:26 PM

    MM Exactly. A whole colony of the little buggers. Quite a lot of the powder had gone as well so it must have sustained them over the packet’s shelf-life.

    Quaker Oats used to be a hotbed of silverfish to the extent that a bowl of porridge was never complete without a silver corpse being fished out.

  57. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2010 12:38 PM

    Was it you, Al, who spoke very highly of the new Coen Bros A Serious Man? I watched it the other night and loved it. A terrific film–beautifully observed, painfully funny and touchingly sad.

  58. January 20, 2010 12:46 PM

    Mishari Yes it was me. I liked the way they put it together using scenes that were both highly significant and random at the same time.

    What does the panel think of John Ashberry’s poems? I stumbled across his “Hotel Lautreamont” the other day and was rather knocked out by it. Is he worth an investment or two?

  59. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2010 12:59 PM

    Doesn’t delight me quite as much as Berryman but still very good. This one’s an old favourite (I think I’ve posted it before but what the hell):

    My Philosophy of Life

    Just when I thought there wasn’t room enough
    for another thought in my head, I had this great idea–
    call it a philosophy of life, if you will.Briefly,
    it involved living the way philosophers live,
    according to a set of principles. OK, but which ones?

    That was the hardest part, I admit, but I had a
    kind of dark foreknowledge of what it would be like.
    Everything, from eating watermelon or going to the bathroom
    or just standing on a subway platform, lost in thought
    for a few minutes, or worrying about rain forests,
    would be affected, or more precisely, inflected
    by my new attitude.I wouldn’t be preachy,
    or worry about children and old people, except
    in the general way prescribed by our clockwork universe.
    Instead I’d sort of let things be what they are
    while injecting them with the serum of the new moral climate
    I thought I’d stumbled into, as a stranger
    accidentally presses against a panel and a bookcase slides back,
    revealing a winding staircase with greenish light
    somewhere down below, and he automatically steps inside
    and the bookcase slides shut, as is customary on such occasions.
    At once a fragrance overwhelms him–not saffron, not lavender,
    but something in between.He thinks of cushions, like the one
    his uncle’s Boston bull terrier used to lie on watching him
    quizzically, pointed ear-tips folded over. And then the great rush
    is on.Not a single idea emerges from it.It’s enough
    to disgust you with thought.But then you remember something
    William James
    wrote in some book of his you never read–it was fine, it had the
    fineness,
    the powder of life dusted over it, by chance, of course, yet
    still looking
    for evidence of fingerprints. Someone had handled it
    even before he formulated it, though the thought was his and
    his alone.

    It’s fine, in summer, to visit the seashore.
    There are lots of little trips to be made.
    A grove of fledgling aspens welcomes the traveler.Nearby
    are the public toilets where weary pilgrims have carved
    their names and addresses, and perhaps messages as well,
    messages to the world, as they sat
    and thought about what they’d do after using the toilet
    and washing their hands at the sink, prior to stepping out
    into the open again.Had they been coaxed in by principles,
    and were their words philosophy, of however crude a sort?
    I confess I can move no farther along this train of thought–
    something’s blocking it.Something I’m
    not big enough to see over.Or maybe I’m frankly scared.
    What was the matter with how I acted before?
    But maybe I can come up with a compromise–I’ll let
    things be what they are, sort of.In the autumn I’ll put up jellies
    and preserves, against the winter cold and futility,
    and that will be a human thing, and intelligent as well.
    I won’t be embarrassed by my friends’ dumb remarks,
    or even my own, though admittedly that’s the hardest part,
    as when you are in a crowded theater and something you say
    riles the spectator in front of you, who doesn’t even like the idea
    of two people near him talking together. Well he’s
    got to be flushed out so the hunters can have a crack at him–
    this thing works both ways, you know. You can’t always
    be worrying about others and keeping track of yourself
    at the same time.That would be abusive, and about as much fun
    as attending the wedding of two people you don’t know.
    Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the gaps between ideas.
    That’s what they’re made for!Now I want you to go out there
    and enjoy yourself, and yes, enjoy your philosophy of life, too.
    They don’t come along every day. Look out!There’s a big one…

  60. January 20, 2010 1:19 PM

    Very nice thanks for that. Am currently re-reading Lolita. What a great writer Nabokov is. Some writers encourage to zoom through what they write but with Nabokov you just want to savout the sentences. Plus the fact that he’s putting you right in the mindset of an old pervert complicates your responses to what he’s writing

  61. January 20, 2010 3:32 PM

    Lolita is one of my favourite books. Funny, harrowing, and the closest I think I’ve read to something approaching Shakespeare’s facility for and moral indifference to language. Also read Despair and Pale Fire but, compared to Lolita, felt he was just playing games.

    The Cadbury buyout doesn’t bode well. There was a Rowntree & Macintosh factory in the centre of Norwich when I was young. Some days the whole town would smell of chocolate. My father worked there briefly. Then Nestle bought Rowntree and shortly after closed the place down. The workers requested the last Rolo off the production line. Nestle refused.

  62. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2010 3:52 PM

    I believe, XB, that’s what’s called ‘capitalism with a human face’. All the more reason to try capitalism with a dog’s face, I reckon…

    Agree about Lolita. A beautifully written novel (Pale Fire, ditto). I can see why Martin Amis (who I don’t have a lot of time for, although I thought his autobiography was excellent) is obsessed by Nabokov.

  63. January 20, 2010 4:24 PM

    Mishari I’m in two minds about his novels but I think Amis’s essays are very good.

    However much like Herzog’s ” documentaries” I wouldn’t go to them for objective facts.

    Is Steven.org a fan of Nabokov? I detect a similar delight in the fine-tuning of a phrase and the determined desire to hang around in the unsavoury-thoughts district of our brain.

  64. 3p4 permalink
    January 20, 2010 4:27 PM

    paging Baron C,,sent email about two weeks ago,,(comic book movie heads up) no reply ness,,

    the poems at the start of this thread are an amazing body of food for thought,,mostly thinking “jeez these guys are good at poetry”

  65. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2010 4:43 PM

    Hello, 3p4..all well with you, I hope?

    Al, I’d be surprised if Señor Augustine wasn’t an admirer of Nabokov’s, ditto Sean and obooki (I name the most impressively bookish of our friends)…then again, one can never tell vis-à-vis people’s tastes…

  66. January 20, 2010 11:31 PM

    3p4…

    Lovely to hear from you! I’m ashamed to admit it, but I can’t remember the email address that I think you’re mailing to (I can remember the password, which should give a clue as to how my mind works). Email me at exitbarnadine – at – live.co.uk. Or just remind me of the old email address. Sorry to use your blog as a slate for my amnesia, Mishari!

  67. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 21, 2010 12:24 AM

    You should model your forthcoming autobiography on VN’s Speak, Memory, monseigneur. It’s a pity that there was no Kuwaiti revolution to sunder you from home and fortune, but needs must.

    I think VN was a millionaire at 18, when his uncle died ( leaving VN everything ), and destitute at 19, when he left Russia. What’s always puzzled me is that his uncle mostly lived abroad ( I think he was gay ),owned a large house there and presumably had foreign bank accounts. You would think that VN would still have had extensive funds.

  68. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 21, 2010 12:14 PM

    Hi Al,

    Sorry for responding so late to your question concerning John Ashbery, but I actually missed it with all the to-ing and fro-ing. I certainly would cast a few bob in Ashbery’s direction. At times he can be quite surreal and occasionaly even impenetrable, but I’m quite fond of his range. He’s a poet that, through a long career, has always offered surprises and discovers new strengths in his own poetic powers. (Although, I’d agree very much with Mish that Berryman is better, but then, very few poets can match Berryman anyway.)

    Jack Brae

  69. January 21, 2010 11:20 PM

    Looks like it’s Ashberry and Berryman then. Thanks for the insider tips.

  70. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 21, 2010 11:46 PM

    I can never remember which is which.

    I can’t believe PH Music Channel doesn’t feature Don’t Stop Believin’. An extraordinary lacuna. Tonight I downloaded Everlasting Love by Love Affair. I got into a fight at school after incautiously remarking that I liked it. Basically a girl’s song I suppose, but I think it shows I have a sensitive side.

    • mishari permalink*
      January 22, 2010 10:59 AM

      Your fondness for leaden tosh-meisters like Journey and sissy music like Everlasting Gag Reflex are worrying, MM. I’ve asked an old drinking buddy, whose butch credentials are impeccable, to have a word:

      “Mowbghrray…Aaarnuld here. Zat’s ghrright…zer Guffornador. Vot’s mit ziz terrghible moosik, men? Faw Gott’s sek, ghrrow a pair off testicools…no more sissy stuff…dun be a girly-men, Mowbghrray…look at me. I dint bekomm Guffnor off Kellyforniah by beink a girly-men. Hasta la vista…”

      Yeah: what Arnie said. Get a grip, MM, before it’s too late and you start buying Cat Stevens albums…

  71. January 22, 2010 10:19 AM

    MM I hope you noted that Frome has honoured Jenson Button with the naming of a footbridge yet to be built. The detail that the bridge was going to be built anyway rather diminishes the “tribute” I feel but I suppose the economic downturn means that they don’t have the money to guild a McClaren racing car and site it in the market place.

  72. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 22, 2010 12:24 PM

    A footbridge seems a bit pedestrian. A stretch of dual carriageway would be more like it. Can we look forward to the Edward Taylor stepping-stones?

    Meditating on my taste for Everlasting Love, I can see it’s that torrent of rhyming couplets which attracts my interest. Really quite hypnotic.

    Interesting new format. Spring-clean?

  73. January 22, 2010 12:30 PM

    ‘A footbridge seems a bit pedestrian’

    Very droll.

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