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The Empire of 'Nice'

March 19, 2010


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Slums may well be breeding grounds of crime, but middle-class suburbs are incubators of apathy and delirium.

Cyril Connolly

Suburbia has been enduring similar insults for as long as it has existed. ‘A suburb,’ The Builder magazine remarked in 1848, ‘is the most melancholy thing in existence.’

I must confess honestly,’ Dorothy Peel wrote in The New Home, a book of domestic advice published in 1898, ‘that the suburbs of any large town appear to me detestable.’

Nastier still was Le Corbusier, who in 1933 persuaded the International Congress on Modern Architecture to approve the following declaration: ‘The suburb…is a kind of scum churning against the walls of the city… lt constitutes one of the greatest evils of the century.’ (This at a time when Hitler had already come to power, and when the more obvious evils of the First World War were still fresh in the memory.)

Urban tower blocks were the preferred alternative of Le Corbusier and his modernist disciples. After the war, many of them were duly built – and equally duly demolished. But even though Mon Repos and Dunroamin had proved rather more successful as ‘machines for living‘ than any of Le Corbusier’s schemes, the sneering at suburbia continued regardless. Remember Manfred Mann’s ‘Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James‘, which reached number two in the hit parade in 1966? Or, come to that, the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Suburbia’ (‘Lost in the high street, where the dogs run/Roaming suburban boys/Stood by the bus stop with a felt pen in this suburban hell’)?

Only last month, on Channel 4, the architectural writer Jonathan Glancey unleashed a torrent of abuse against Bromley’s neighbouring suburb, Chislehurst. ‘Here, in not-quite-London, not-quite-Kent‘ he complained, ‘it is as if the neutron bomb has dropped: the people have been vaporized, but the houses and their coordinated fabrics and furniture remain standing.’ A couple of days later, one Elizabeth Brooke (described as a ‘white witch‘) told a newspaper: ‘I grew up in the suburbs and had a long-standing fantasy of detonating Bromley High Street

It is easy to mock suburbia, and even easier to be bored there. But why should it provoke such violent rage? The answer, I suspect, is political. To quote one of the few sympathetic studies of this subject, Dunroamin: The Suburban Semi and its Enemies (1981): ‘At the root of the attack on suburban living there is the strong pre-supposition that a collective expression of housing (for example a Georgian terrace, or apartments by Le Corbusier) is somehow preferable to the individualistic expression of a single house.’

For although critics often accuse suburbia of being monotonous, what they really object to is that it is just the opposite – a cacophony of discordant individuality. Suburbanites are forever embellishing their houses with little differentiating touches: carriage lamps, new porches, wrought-iron gates, leaded lights – something, anything, to prove that their home is indeed their castle, and that within the privet-hedged boundaries they can do with it whatever they jolly well like. It is a Thatcherite dream, the living proof of Lady T’s claim that ‘there is no such thing as society; there are individual men and women and there are families‘.

No wonder it irritates metropolitan leftists, who are convinced that anyone moving to the suburbs will immediately fall into a trance of atomized, self-contained, Pooterish contentment. And, of course, they aren’t entirely wrong. Here is ‘Our Suburb’, a turn-of-the-century poem by Ernest Radford:

He leaned upon the narrow wall
That set the limit to his ground,
And marvelled, thinking of it all,
That he such happiness had found.
He had no word for it but bliss,
He smoked his pipe, he thanked his stars…

But there is more to suburbia than that. Look again at those garden gnomes or those ridiculous suburban house names, or those hedges topiarized into the shape of battleships. Are they merely expressions of terminal tastelessness – or might they be gestures of subversive nonconformity?

After all, the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin lived at 6 Crescent Road, Bromley, for some years, and suburban submersion certainly didn’t turn him into a complacent Tory, he returned to Moscow in 1917 bursting with revolutionary ardour. True, he later became disillusioned; but that was the fault of Bolshevism, not Bromley.

Suburbia has outlived Soviet communism, just as it outlived the modern movement. Jeer and scoff as we may, the garden gnomes will always have the last laugh.

Francis Wheen in The Observer, 1994

The heroic, the glorious, love and folly, war and peace–all grand themes for the balladeer to sink his or her teeth into. Rather more challenging, I think, are ballads on the mundane, the banal, the hopelessly trite.

Let’s have ballads on suburbia…

229 Comments
  1. pinkroom permalink
    March 19, 2010 9:52 PM

    Great topic Mishari. Gasworks Green caught between city, hills and the surburbia that nearly caught me

    Seaforth Gardens

    And for a while I saw myself
    adrift in Seaforth Gardens
    a street that slashed from Worcester Park
    to the Surrey/London margins.

    Happily aboard my raft,
    I’d gaze from top floor window
    out toward the Epsom Downs
    where winds through distant trees blow

    and year by year, I’d add more nails
    into my fetish juju
    a birdbox, new shelf, toilet seat
    bold curtains, slightly frou frou

    and in the garden, a tree of fruit
    with lichened trunk and strong of root
    pruned to fit a space too small

    No. Not my lfe. Not at all.

  2. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2010 10:25 PM

    Fine poem, PR. I’m happy that you find it as interesting a subject as I do. Obviously, I can only speculate but I’m guessing that most of us have, at some period in our lives, lived in suburbia. I know I have.

    Perhaps suburbanites should take the Drive-By Trucker’s advice:

  3. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 20, 2010 12:28 AM

    When Mrs Smith across the road
    takes a shower at night
    she never draws the curtains,
    but switches on the light.

    She undresses rather slowly
    until she’s fairly nude,
    and with a bar of Knight’s Castile
    does something rather rude.

    While her husband watches football
    downstairs on the sofa,
    Mrs Smith makes crossfield passes
    with a soapy loofah.

    Mrs Smith is by no means young,
    she’s on the homely side,
    and if she’s not exactly fat,
    her diet is mainly fried.

    So on Acacia Avenue,
    when the yellow streetlamp glows,
    and the Smiths’ bathroom light goes on,
    all the curtains close.

  4. pinkroom permalink
    March 20, 2010 2:03 AM

    Good work mm, but I have an inkling that your curtains wouldn’t be “fully” closed now would they? Curtains seem to be the key motif here.

    …or so I’ve heard.

    The curtains of late winter,
    various, not telling,
    of all that’s masked behind them
    neither wholesome or sweet-smelling.

    Those pencil pleats on Congreve Street
    that look so straight and narrow?
    Scenes are taking place behind
    to chill you to the marrow.

    The full-ruched swags
    down Jonson way?
    All fussy, ornamental.
    What would the “next-doors” ever say
    ’bout their Oriental rental?

    Roman blinds at number nine?
    Unbridled Bacchanalia.
    Whilst drapes on pole,
    up Sheridan Knoll?
    Nazi-loop regalia.

    Behind these smart bay windows,
    with their cracks and chinks of light,
    lie desperation, fun-times,
    of a cold
    suburban night.

  5. March 20, 2010 9:45 AM

    Having worked several times in Bromley, the residents of Chislehurst have a good shout for right of reply. The cliche of a population being anaethesised by prescription drugs never seemed so apt as on Bromley High Street. Unfair I know but it was like being in a herd of sleep-walkers.

    It’s not just metropolitan leftists though – being bought up in the countryside I find suburbia gives me the shudders as well. I’ve lived in outer regions of cities but wouldn’t have called Turnpike Lane in London or Whalley Range in Manchester examples of classic suburbia.

    I liked that Talking Heads tune with the lyric ” I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to”.Of course fate being what it is I’ll end up in Cheadle Hulme with a fake wooden garden well on the lawn, choking on my own snootiness.

  6. mishari permalink*
    March 20, 2010 1:05 PM

    Semi-Detached

    As they led him past in handcuffs from the charred and smoking ruin,
    the neighbours shook their heads and drew their breath.
    The tidy two-floored, red-tiled small mock-Tudor house would soon
    be called ‘The Pinner Horror House of Death’.

    Welcome to suburbia, where we breed new diseases,
    a riot of twee colours, pastel-style;
    where every lawn is barbered green
    and every prospect pleases;
    where sound is hushed and only man is vile.

    He’d come home from the City on the early evening train,
    as meek and bland and faceless as before.
    Behind his dull, flat eyes were sparks that shorted out his brain:
    even drones can take so much and then no more.

    Welcome to the hinterlands of quiet desperation,
    like drowning in blamange but not as pink;
    where every hedge is clipped to death
    and every railway station:
    a portal that leads men right to the brink.

    They’re not quite sure who he shot first: the wife, the kid, the dog;
    he killed them then he set the house alight.
    There’d been no kind of warning sign:
    no note, no tape, no blog;
    just hot suburban flames wild in the night.

    Welcome to the twilight zone, where ciphers walk and jog,
    where outward health disguises inward rot.
    Where people heard the news
    about the family who’d been shot
    and phoned to ask about the bloody dog.

  7. March 20, 2010 1:37 PM

    Is this the way we end our lives?
    Like the ending of the Stepford Wives
    A car, some kids, a nice wife and house
    To think I worried about the pointlessness
    Of a mouse.

    In the front room like a restless big cat
    Is this really where it’s all at?
    Anywhere’ll do even mobile homes
    Just somewhere not neighbourhood watched
    By garden gnomes.

    The dog in the front room, a ceramic fake
    Wallpaper patterns that can’t keep you awake
    Central heating that invents diseases
    With symptoms more sinister, more virulent
    Than household sneezes.

    Morning highlight the arrival of a letter
    Informing you insurance makes life better
    Have you considered installing a panic room?
    Just outside of this estate lies pestilence
    Famine and doom.

    I must admit though my countenance is snappy
    The people outside look perfectly happy.
    Why do I find all this a chore and a grind
    Is there a worse form of suburbia lodged
    Inside my mind?

  8. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 20, 2010 11:41 PM

    Fiesta, Escort, Sierra,
    I remember them all,
    gleaming outside our Barratt home
    where shafts of sunlight fall.

    Every Sunday I used to wash
    those beautiful machines,
    while Inez used to sit inside
    and read her magazines.

    For our weekly trip to Waitrose
    their boots were heaven-sent,
    for longer trips the leg-room
    was most convenient.

    Like rungs on the social ladder
    we climbed Ford Motors’ range,
    but as we priced a Granada,
    fear gripped the Stock Exchange.

    Now we do our monthly shopping
    at the local Asda,
    and bring the value bacon home
    in a pre-owned Skoda.

    We generally go at midnight
    so neighbours cannot see
    the shiny tin-can evidence
    of auto-poverty,

    but however we lie or cheat,
    or cry or scream or rage,
    it’s always there, our stain, our shame,
    hidden in the garage.

  9. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 21, 2010 12:01 AM

    Lovely stuff from PR, Al and the Prince. First off I thought of a time twenty years ago when we lived in a house with a garden overlooked by the backs of a terrace. I was chatting to the old biddy who lived next door when she jerked her head at the window of one of the houses opposite. ‘Ooh it’s just like the Folies Bergeres, ain’t it?’ she said. I turned to see a stark naked woman standing at the window vigorously soaping her pubis. I was lost for words. How she imagined the net curtain in front of her protected her privacy I have no idea. ‘Me and Charlie (her husband) often has a laugh about it’, the old woman went on. I must say, during the further couple of years we lived there, that it was sometimes difficult to keep your mind on the weeding, or, playing games with the kids, your eye on the ball. The mental battle between respect for privacy and prurience was so exhausting I was glad when we moved.

  10. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    March 21, 2010 12:40 PM

    Munchkinland

    Come out, come out, wherever you are
    And meet our young Stella who fell from a star
    She fell for a star in some Southsea bar
    And Ryan she says is the name of the star
    (Orion she says is the name of the star)

    She brings us bad news.
    Or haven’t you heard?
    In Brian’s Ford Fiesta
    A miracle occurred
    It really was no miracle
    The blue line wasn’t blurred…

    What happened next was rich
    Curtains began to twitch
    And everyone saw Stella
    As a promiscuous witch

    To book a June wedding
    Took no second bidding
    The banns they were soon published
    And were on their third reading

    The invitations flew
    For you and you and you
    For any friends and family
    With a purse we could pursue

    For Melton and Inez
    For Malcolm and Deirdre
    For Micah, Gordon, Lucy
    For Nick and Kate from Airdrie

    For Bodie and Darleen
    For Laetitia and Sven
    For getting one girl off our hands
    It all seemed worth it, when…

    Stay home, stay home, the wedding is off
    We’ve cancelled the choir, the security staff
    And horse and miscarriage on Stella’s behalf
    Shame, as young Byron seemed game for a laugh
    (He’s known as Brian by all the riff-raff)

  11. Captain Ned permalink
    March 21, 2010 9:12 PM

    SUBURBAN LOVE AFFAIR

    Mrs. Maginn throws sticks at the moon
    And smiles at her garden of axes.
    Each of her sons will perish by noon
    And lessen the burden of taxes.

    Mr. Dumont does tricks with a spoon
    And samples his medley of waxes.
    Each of his dentures comes as a boon
    For shredding his criminal faxes.

    Mrs. Maginn and Mr. Dumont!
    Your affair makes the neighbourhood swoon!
    Mr. Dumont and Mrs. Maginn!
    Embers of love are fading too soon!

  12. pinkroom permalink
    March 21, 2010 10:24 PM

    Yes, as well as the curtains it’s cars that now define suburbia. It used to be little flocks of kids, but they seem to have vanished with the sparrows. The two may of course be related.

    Where are the children?

    We would play
    by the low walls, plain
    in that little close
    by Cherry Tree Lane.

    ‘Such, such were the joys
    When we all, girls and boys,
    In our youth-time were seen
    On the echoing green.’

    Occasional cars,
    Honeysuckle would see;
    spaces a-plenty
    where ball games would be.

    ‘Such, such were the joys…’
    William Blake said.
    To a flat turning circle
    these few cars were led.

    A Ford Zodiac,
    some Hillman or other;
    it taxes my mind
    to think of another,

    whilst we played
    on the Green
    upon daisies and clover;
    some excitement,
    a house-call
    a doctor’s new Rover.

    *

    Forty years later,
    brief visit was paid;
    cars double-parked
    where as children we played.

    The Green where we sported
    now ruts of dry clay
    now over-flow parking

    kids inside
    today.

  13. mishari permalink*
    March 21, 2010 10:52 PM

    ‘…it’s cars that now define suburbia…’. Isn’t that true of the whole country, PR? One of the most agreeable aspects of living in Barcelona’s Barrio Gotic (the oldest part of the city) is the banning of cars from most of it.

    Personally, I’d ban all vehicular traffic (except for emergency, delivery and public transport) from the centre of cities.

    Fine work from everyone, by the way.

  14. March 22, 2010 11:36 AM

    Was amused/horrified/nauseated in that order to see the photos of the latest Tory MP hopefuls in the Guardian colour mag this weekend.

    I wondered if by appealing to their ( collossal it seems ) vanity the Guardian was being uber-subversive and trying to undermine them by reminding the readers that there won’t be much of channge if or when they get into power. Back to the days of Cool Britannia/Blair’s Babes again I think. I think they are also rounding up a herd of dimbulb Tory celebs to add sheen to their illusion of newness.

  15. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 22, 2010 2:49 PM

    Someone said to me that what they all seem to have in common is an antipathy to the state, which doesn’t bode well. I thought Tony Judt made a good case for government in the Review. Trying to privatise health and education is likely to be as disastrous as the Railtrack fiasco. Some things are so complex that only a national (non-profit) organisation can handle them.

    I wonder if they’ll be as ready to toe the line as the Blair newbies in ’97. Rory Stewart could be a problem for Cameron, and quite a few of the others don’t seem to have much experience of Tory politics. Meeting some of the old guard might be a shock for them.

  16. Captain Ned permalink
    March 22, 2010 5:31 PM

    Dear Prince Jim Al-Fixit,

    Could you please fix it for me that I can leave grimy Clapton for lovely Finchley or Shepperton? On the basis of the poems here, the suburbs give rise to some good poetry. Could you also fix it for me that in my own poem, you change ‘bypass’ to ‘lessen’? [DoneEd.]
    Yours gratefully,

    Sea Cadet Ned (9 and a half)

  17. Captain Ned permalink
    March 22, 2010 7:05 PM

    Thanks, Mishari.

    Here’s two silly stories in one easy-to-digest pill:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/mar/22/tony-blair-film-awards-daniel-radcliffe

    Seriously, why on earth would any self-respecting film-maker want to receive a prize from Tony fucking Blair? I suppose if you’ve just directed something really, really crap, it might be a bit of a consolation to know that a loathsome, deceitful warmonger thinks it’s, you know, worthy and sensitive and respectful enough to win you a bit of blood-tainted dosh, plus maybe a pukka afterlife/reincarnation/quota of bright-and-holy superpowers. That the world can contain a body entitled the Tony Blair Faith Foundation is a strong mark against it, I think.

  18. mishari permalink*
    March 22, 2010 7:46 PM

    I think it’s an affront to decency that the fucker isn’t ‘…breaking rocks in a hot sun…’. Mind you, when you observe the behavior of his acolytes (Hoon, Byers, Hewitt et al), it’s no surprise.

    I swear to God, I’d put a rope around all of their necks and kick the chair out from under them and sleep like a baby afterwards…

    BTW, my comment on this Byers et al shit has received 1073 recommends. Is this a record?

  19. March 22, 2010 10:00 PM

    Now Mishari, much as you might think you are, you are not Bogart.

    Voting the bastards out will feel good for about ten minutes, I’m sure. Then you’ll notice who you’ve voted in.

  20. mishari permalink*
    March 22, 2010 10:42 PM

    Actually, I’m hoping for a hung parliament, followed by serious electoral reform, something we won’t get if either of the usual suspects gets in.

    But the thought of Labour getting back in actually makes me physically nauseous and I’ve been a Labour voter all my life (until the criminal stupidity of Iraq). I’d eat the cat before I’d vote Tory but this shower of scumbags has to go.

  21. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 23, 2010 12:32 AM

    A Farewell To Peter Kropotkin

    I hear that Russian chap’s moved out,
    you know, the one at number six,
    took the light bulbs with him, no doubt:
    he’s left the landlord in a fix.

    I’m not sorry to see him go,
    that beard of his just wasn’t nice,
    the vile thing seemed to grow and grow,
    it could have harboured fleas, or mice.

    What a filthy temper he had!
    he frightened old Mrs Whitty
    half to death when she only said
    the Tsarina’s hat was pretty.

    He had no idea how to dress,
    his hair had never seen a comb,
    the house, they say, was in a mess,
    anarchism must start at home.

    He’s on his way to Petrograd,
    so the Daily Mail alleges,
    unless the Reds are wholly mad
    he won’t be clipping their hedges.

  22. March 23, 2010 3:12 PM

    Her house is as sweet as her curtains are lacey
    But spare a thought for poor Mrs. Gacey
    Her brow is furrowed, her face set in a frown
    It appears John Wayne has been acting the clown.
    He made his parents look a pair of fools
    They never noticed the disappearance of their power tools.
    His freshly dug garden sprouted weed after weed
    Did they never wonder on what fertilizer these weeds feed?
    From a distance the mattress looked covered in mud
    But CSI forensics confirmed that it’s blood.
    His Xmas card list got shorter and shorter
    Was it mass emigration or wholesale mass slaughter?

    Oh it’s easy to crit those whose son broke the laws
    With unspeakable acts behind suburban doors.
    Oh it’s easy to crit those whose son broke the laws

  23. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 23, 2010 4:27 PM

    Neat as a suburban semi, Al. I agonised for a while (well, two minutes) over the questionability of inventing a name (Whitty) to provide a rhyme (pretty). Thanks for validating my decision.

  24. March 23, 2010 4:48 PM

    John Wayne Gacey is a serial killer from Illinois. If it helps I agonised over the word lacey ( two minutes tops ).

    However Mrs. Whitty is fine as the Tsarina line is a worthwhile pay off.

  25. mishari permalink*
    March 23, 2010 5:21 PM

    I was living in the US at the time and remember the case well, Al.

    Between 1972 and 1978, the year he was arrested, Gacy raped and murdered at least 33 young men and boys. Although some of his victims’ bodies were found in the Des Plaines River, he buried 26 of them in the small crawl space underneath the basement of his home and three more elsewhere on his property. He became known as “Killer Clown” because of the popular block parties he would throw for his friends and neighbors, entertaining children in a clown suit and makeup as “Pogo the Clown”. -wiki

    Notoriously, Gacey had his photo taken with the First Lady:

    ‘…Carter posed for pictures with Gacy and autographed the photo “To John Gacy. Best Wishes. Rosalynn Carter”. In the picture, Gacy is wearing an “S” pin, indicating a person who has received special clearance by the United States Secret Service. During the search of Gacy’s house after his arrest, this photo caused a major embarrassment to the Secret Service.’ -wiki

    Needless to say, his ‘career’ led to a quality biopic:

  26. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 23, 2010 6:45 PM

    Please accept my apologies, Al. Ignorance is no excuse for my impugning your verse-making skills.

  27. March 23, 2010 7:54 PM

    MM No offence taken in the slightest.

    Watched Tropic Thunder a few night’s back. Ben Stiller’s comedy about Hollywood making a Vietnam film. Not nearly as funny as it should be but Tom Cruise is very good in it. His OTT Brian Glazer look-alike movie producer is a genuinely bizarre creation.

  28. March 23, 2010 8:29 PM

    Mishari the comments accompanying that trailer are classy too – especially the almost existential discourse about hanging.

  29. pinkroom permalink
    March 23, 2010 8:31 PM

    Let’s all sing-up for suburban killers
    who keep down the numbers and entertain
    with baroque m.o.’s and motives mundane
    headline grabbers and paragraph fillers

    in the mid-market tabloid breakfast news
    “…and finally he ate his head, by God!
    Did you hear that darling? My word how odd,
    I have a cousin who lives in that Mews.

    It says here they had been neighbours for five years…
    but that was when Colin moved in with Anne.
    Says they fell out when a visiting man
    parked across his drive, and loudly ground gears

    reversing out, waking his sick mother.
    You don’t think? I still had the blue Peugeot,
    a man made a fuss when I had to go…
    says here, he took some gear teeth or other

    and splines from an old dog-clutch to
    mangle victims’ genitalia before
    his tied-up wife, whilst nailed down to the floor…
    then sprayed his carcass a metallic blue.

    I think I’d better give Colin a call.
    Nothing to worry about I am sure
    but I don’t think I can read any more
    or allow more marmalade to fall.

  30. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2010 12:56 AM

    Been off-planet, some Suburbia to follow…

    Jack Brae

  31. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2010 12:58 AM

    The Suburb of Mousetown-Mold

    In Mousetown-Mold our dreams grow fur,
    our lives go dull and grey;
    the houses whisper in the ear
    of every night and day.

    The sky comes loose and disappears,
    the lawns shed husks of hope;
    a neighbour spends his last few tears
    then hangs himself with rope.

    The shadows of the children chase
    the children down the street,
    and then the children change the race
    and with their shadows meet.

    So all is right and all is wrong:
    the world remains the same;
    and wrong is right and right is wrong
    and no one is to blame.

    In Mousetown-Mold our dreams grow fur,
    our lives go dull and grey;
    the houses whisper in the ear
    of every night and day.

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  32. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2010 9:25 AM

    Mish, I’ve re-titled my dreary bleary ballad as: “The Suburb of Mousetown-Mold”, if you don’t mind making the change. Thanks…

    Jack Brae

  33. hic8ubique permalink
    March 24, 2010 12:59 PM

    Glad of your safe landing, Jack. Good to have you back!

  34. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 25, 2010 3:58 PM

    God what a bloody awful cold I’ve got. Stupid kid coughed over me in the bank on Monday and now my head is a mucus fiesta.

    What a fantastic book A Season With Verona is. I can’t remember enjoying a football book more. Thanks again.

  35. March 25, 2010 6:52 PM

    MM my Google page had the headline” Mowbray under Fire for substandard results”. Was wondering what confessions we could expect before the penny dropped.

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 25, 2010 11:39 PM

    I thought those tests were confidential.

  37. March 26, 2010 9:14 AM

    I listened to Geof Hoon on Radio 4 actually saying pretty much the same kind of thing ” I thought these conversations were confidential” as if armed with that knowledge the listener would ignore and forgive the sheer idiocy and greed of his overall remarks.

    He at least came on air to face the music but can he really “move on”? Any prospective employer will have heared him and thought there’s an easily duped, easily flattered blabbermouth.

    Not much use for delicate business manoeuvres I would have thought and I know nothing about delicate business manoeuvres..

  38. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 26, 2010 2:23 PM

    Yes, their lack of circumspection was extraordinary. Byers really made himself look a fool. It reminded me of the ill-favoured school swot trying to ingratiate himself with one of the fifth-form girls. As for Hoon, hasn’t he got enough money? Cabinet minister’s salary for several years, MPs salary, allowances-he can’t be hard up.

  39. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    March 26, 2010 5:04 PM

    Fame at last…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/mar/26/the-fiver

  40. mishari permalink*
    March 26, 2010 5:15 PM

    ‘…Brylcreemed motivational genius in claret crushed velvet…’? Sounds about right–except for the genius bit.

  41. March 27, 2010 11:56 AM

    And now The Bill is to be axed.

    with the above as well it’s been a bad week for a brace of Mowbrays.

  42. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 27, 2010 11:56 AM

    I’ve been hoping for: Mowbray Takes Pompey Down.

  43. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 28, 2010 4:36 PM

    I wasn’t having a pop at you on the Hughes thing, Al, just turning SA’s words further up the thread round. The rest of it did sound discourteous, quite unintentionally. Sorry.

    This chest infection seems to be affecting my brain, so I think I’d better stop posting until I recover. If I die I probably won’t be back. Au revoir!

  44. mishari permalink*
    March 28, 2010 6:24 PM

    If you die, can I have your Hawkwind albums?

  45. March 28, 2010 7:37 PM

    Mishari if you die can I have his Hawkwind albums?

  46. parallax permalink
    March 30, 2010 12:48 PM

    I know I’m not allowed to post mish – but can I ask if MM is ok?

    [Until you fucking apologise for calling us ‘racists, white supremacists, BNP members…’ etc ad nauseum, you’re not welcome. Either grow a pair and acknowledge your stupidity and fundamental wrongness or fuck right off. Did you really think I’d let that slide? -Ed.]

  47. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 30, 2010 1:02 PM

    Actually, I’m slightly more concerned about Freep. (Sorry MM, but you’re always sick!) Freep seems to have disappeared lately, hope he’s okay. (Maybe he’s just sick of us.)

    Jack Brae

  48. freep permalink
    March 30, 2010 1:49 PM

    , no, they are very nice mans and womans on this site, and I will presume postlings in the very dear future, or maybe in the past. But I have been in gardens much, and just this morning some of us brought a big infirm beech tree to ground and we are burning its bits, and as we were performing we put tapes around the area saying Danger Forest Operations, which is a sign I like a good deal.
    But I know mine host Mishari is averse to gardens.
    Suburbia is a topic that is good, and I will turn my mind away from axes and bonfires as it is pissing down, and the River Coquet seems like to burst its banks, so there is no excuse to avoid bardic doggerelisation.
    Thank you for your concern Jack. Death has not yet claimed me, despite the malignant growth on my shoulders called a head.

  49. mishari permalink*
    March 30, 2010 5:56 PM

    I’m not averse to gardens qua gardens, freep. I don’t, however, much care for the sort of garden you maintain at Glen Freep. I understand that you have a position to maintain as the Laird of Muckle Freep of That Ilk, head of the Clan McFreep, and Capability Mowbray did you proud. The scheme of alternate cabbages and Leyllandi, with fountains gushing Buckfast Abbey Tonic Wine (18% by volume) would gladden the heart of the most flinty of your bottle-nosed kinsmen.

    However, I prefer a rather less orderly garden. Think Eden…naked women, fruits, snakes…that’s my sort.

  50. freep permalink
    March 30, 2010 6:42 PM

    Beg pardon, yr worship. I think I remember once that you expressed a distaste for gardenING rather than gardens themselves. Probably back in the days of Steve’s blogs when he would learnedly discourse upon a shrub or an exotic bamboo and a certain banter ensued about the labour involved.
    There is probably nobody who actively dislikes gardens, given their usefulness for seduction, fornication, libidinousness, adulterousness – for all sorts besides hoverflies. Capability Mowbray’s elegant arrangement of Leylandii and parsnips are most priapistic.
    Maybe I am wrong, and you will tell me you are a connoisseur of trowels, secateurs and loppers.
    You would be very welcome to visit the garden and its follies at Glen Freep; the speciality for this summer will be that the Dryad Fountain will run freely with Sanatogen, and there will be a Guest Cynic resident each sabbath in the Gothick Hermitage. Naked women can be provided for visitors with such inclinations, but I have to point out that the only women available in these parts, delectable and winsome though they be, are all equipped with free bus passes.

  51. March 30, 2010 7:01 PM

    Freep can people apply for the post of cynic-in-residence?

    Being only mildly cynical I won’t be applying but I know a couple of freelance cynics who might be interested ( might is the best we can expect from them I’m afraid ) in longer-term paid cynicism.

  52. March 30, 2010 7:04 PM

    sorry have been on two other word press sites using my civilian name. Back to using my real name in case you’re wondering who that over-familiar interloper is.

    Looks like bad weather over freepland – keep those tree-bits aflame.

  53. freep permalink
    March 30, 2010 11:35 PM

    Yes indeed Al / Ed, I have just completed the seven mile drive from Alnwick in an hour and a half because of floods. But we have galoshes and yellow overcloaks here, and infinite patience with the weather. Old Venereal Bede lives up the road, and he’s been stuck at the bus stop in Seahouses waiting for the 518 for 1400 years.
    #The person spec for the Cynic in Residence is under construction, but it will be expected that the post holder will hold any emoluments in contempt, will be able to spit with accuracy over 20 yards into the wind, will hold that poetry, music and art are effete and degenerate undertakings, will take little heed of personal hygiene, but will be very good at spelling. I expect to place advertisements in Yorkshire by way of headhunting.

  54. March 30, 2010 11:54 PM

    No, no, no. Ignore that. Try again:

  55. SmugFucker permalink
    March 31, 2010 1:54 PM

    I think I’m still alive, thanks for your concern, and thanks to ampicillin.

    I’ve got an orgone accumulator
    It makes me feel greater
    I’ll see you sometime later
    When I’m through with my accumulator.

  56. March 31, 2010 3:03 PM

    I suppose this means the Hawkwind albums are staying put. Perfect accompaniment to an orgone accumulator if you’ve not tried it.

  57. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 31, 2010 4:57 PM

    Glad you’re feeling better, MM.

    Personally, I’d put your continued ill-health down to your collection of Hawkwind albums. We have a few of them down in the basement of the Metaphysical Club HQ, where they can no longer be a danger to Mankind. Whenever I’m feeling unseasonably healthy I always put one to play on the turntable and it never fails to bring back my usual deathly pallor.

    An orgone accumulator? Using one of those things can lead to blindness.

    Jack Brae

  58. pinkroom permalink
    April 1, 2010 7:27 AM

    My memories of when Hawkwind came to town is that their …er fans were the living antithesis of suburbia, emerging from cellar squats in the city where they rarely saw daylight or cowsheds in the bleaker corners of the countryside with only their drugs to keep them warm.

    Definitely the harder end of the hippy culture… I seem to recall the forked beard, with or without bells woven in, featuring. Round GG it was much more the mod to skin to glam to punk tradition so these characters seemed very strange, and not a little scary to us. Is Mowbray like that?

    I have it on reasonable authority that their large-breasted “dancer” was a very sweet girl though.

  59. April 1, 2010 9:40 AM

    This is well worth a look at if only to coonfirm the fact that you’re getting on and don’t understand modern life any more.

    Bugsy Malone was obviously not hard hitting enough for these kids.

    When I saw Hawkwind in a hotel room in Bath it was 2 hours plus of large breasts wobbling around in strobe lighting. Now those were the days.

  60. April 1, 2010 9:45 AM

    sorry for these constant switches of identity btw my partner is setting up a word-press site where my usual alarming identity is not helpful and once it’s changed it doesn’t automatically switch back.

    I may have to remain as ET ( as I keep forgetting to switch, Dr. Jekyll ) but you can call me Al.

  61. mishari permalink*
    April 1, 2010 10:25 AM

    You’ll always be Al, The Giant Inflatable Pig Man to me.

    BTW, who else hates the Graun’s new front page? It’s so frantically fucking busy, it gives me a blinding headache. Rusbridger’s down wit da yoof…the putz.

  62. April 1, 2010 11:48 AM

    Must admit, Mishari, your complaint about the Graun’s front page reminds me of that old joke: ‘the food was terrible, and such small portions!’

  63. mishari permalink*
    April 1, 2010 12:41 PM

    Oh, it’s alright for you skinny-jeaned kids, XB, with your iProds and your interwebs and your exciting new bands with interesting haircuts; but I belong to a more reflective, more austere generation.

    Normally (and following the example of Abbot Freep of the Order of The Leery Brothers of the Poor and Mortgaged To The Hilt), I have The Grauniad written out in longhand on vellum by my personal scribes, who can spend months illuminating the manuscript. Hardly seems worth it for a picture of Simon Jenkins but either you hold to the old ways or you don’t.

    You wouldn’t understand, with your instant noodles and your 2 minute pop songs.

  64. freep permalink
    April 1, 2010 3:41 PM

    Yes, Fra Mishari, I’ve heard of this new fangled vellum, and I think it might just catch on. You might like to try heron’s blood on it, using curlew quills, which worked very well for Bede in his recent History of the Jutic Incursion. Bleached wolf’s hide has been the preferred writing surface until now. We are already up to 3 copies here in the scriptorium, and expect to have a score of signed and numbered copies available by the end of the Dark Ages. The spinoffs for the tattoo parlour on Iona are being investigated.

  65. April 1, 2010 4:18 PM

    You’ll never beat letters individually carved in stone and arranged on the horizon so as to form headlines backlit by the sun. Well magic as I beleve the younger generation would say.

  66. freep permalink
    April 1, 2010 11:26 PM

    I’m not getting there … work in progress. Rhythm buggered

    Fragment of an epic
    The 5.21 from Platform 3

    I always felt euphoria
    Each time I left Victoria
    And a cry of joy would break forth from my mouth
    Whenever I took the Orpington line by way of Bromley South

    O! my home in greenest Bickley
    Where camellias grow so thickly!
    It caused the hairs to rise in pleasure from my scalp –
    Yet the obstacle of Sydenham Hill seemed mightier than an alp

    For I remembered
    A tragic December
    When the tunnel filled with demonic wildebeest
    And mayhem and blood and funerals descended on Penge East

    And for each alarmed commuter
    The tension grew acuter
    As the train in darkest silence stood
    And clerks asked if there ever was a station called Petts Wood

    Or if there was any life
    Unmarked by strife
    Even in a town so blithe and comely
    As that exquisitely Tudor-beamed utopia known as Bromley

    A woman sudden spoke:
    ‘You look the kind of bloke
    To rely on in the event of major ructions;
    D’you reckon you could walk me down the line to Beckenham Junction?’

    Down to Penge I carried her
    Dreaming I had married her
    Till we blinked in

  67. Captain Ned permalink
    April 2, 2010 2:46 AM

    ‘that exquisitely Tudor-beamed utopia known as Bromley’

    Is it possible to sue for libel for describing something in terms too flattering to bear any relation to the truth? As seductive a picture as Freep paints, I must point out that I’ve been to Bromley on a number of occasions, and it’s quite shit. Protestations of sarcasm are no defence when you make these kinds of dangerously misleading statements. Don’t you know the sort of people who are reading this stuff?

    I do like Jack’s mousy suburb. As for the Guardian, I’ve renounced my former hatred. Get with it, Mishari! If you’re not going down with epileptic seizures after the first mere glancing thought of a news-based web-page, then the message obviously hasn’t been conveyed. Skinny jeans may well have been the sartorial future five years ago (in Hoxton), but as far as the distressingly prevalent haricutted brigade goes today, they’re the eternal present, and long may they remain so. The world has an endless store of imbeciles, after all.

  68. Captain Ned permalink
    April 2, 2010 11:32 AM

    Bromley, however, is still better than Bromley-by-Bow, which the worst place I’ve ever been to.

  69. April 2, 2010 11:21 PM

    Bromley-by-Bow isn’t a place, it’s some ill-assorted buildings being assaulted by a huge and hideous road. Sometimes they knock down an old building and put supposedly bright new flats instead, but the road just beats them into submission.

    Curiously, though, it’s the home of one of the best London bloggers, diamondgeezer. (www.diamondgeezer.blogspot.com)

  70. pinkroom permalink
    April 3, 2010 7:58 AM

    Makings of a really great poem there freep.

    Petts Wood sounds an interesting place… a subject waiting for an object so to speak, or is it the other way around? Isn’t “Badger’s Mount” also in those regions? Strong theme… I might takea liberty myself.

    I used to occasionally frequent the Three Tuns in Bromley in the early 80s which, having been the cradle of David Bowie’s work attracted all manner of characters in gold,sparkly lipstick. Very few Hawkwind fans though…

    on the subjcct of which, sick or not, MM has hit a rich vein of form on posters, his last two have been absolute belters.

  71. pinkroom permalink
    April 3, 2010 8:33 AM

    The names on boards at Charing Cross,
    Victoria and London Bridge
    Knots in strings, all threading out
    to suburbs round old village.

    Who once camped on Gipsy Hill?
    Who hid in the Nor’wood?
    Morden this or more dan that?
    Where was the “old” Malden?

    Portia lived in Belmont,
    on the way to Epsom Downs.
    What kind of folks named Purley Oaks,
    these Hamlets grown to towns?

    To know them is to spoil each place
    with their Lidls and Matalans.
    I prefer them as once Shakespeare knew,
    strange names
    in wooded lands.

  72. April 3, 2010 10:27 AM

    Like a prize-winning suburb that is now failing
    Mowbray’s lungs are sick and ailing,
    Avenues of alveoli clogged up with phlegm
    Bronchioles in denial, “it’s not us it’s them”.
    Lung tissue, like lace curtains once fluttered in breezes
    But now’s at the mercy of hoarse, hacking wheezes.
    These 2 cul-de-sacs which fill you with air
    Aren’t doing their jobs, the air’s not there.

    A spoonful of sugar may help the medecine go down
    But forget it Melton ……. it’s lung-town.

  73. Inspecteur Clouseau permalink
    April 3, 2010 10:41 AM

    PR, your praise of MM is deserving. But your own recent form should see you qualify for the Champions League comfortably…

  74. pinkroom permalink
    April 3, 2010 11:22 AM

    Too kind Inspecteur (regards to all my friends at the Surete… I can still feel the bruises) but I feel MM’s coupling of good Easter with Imperial leather was unusually sublime. It also left us with the teasing, and not a little stomach-churning, enigma of how the coating was actually applied.

  75. SmugFucker permalink
    April 3, 2010 2:48 PM

    Why, thank you, my cabbalistic friend. You’re not doing too badly yourself. Thanks to all for good wishes. Now on oral steroids which do have the benefit of imparting an agreeable buzz to the user. I’m going on holiday tomorrow which means sharing quarters with Mrs M for the first time in weeks. Look out for Hotel Slaying: Wife Says Husband’s Coughing Drove Her Insane.

  76. hic8ubique permalink
    April 3, 2010 8:16 PM

    I wish you a deeply restorative holiday, MM, with the sun baking your torso in its healing rays. That’s surely the finest thing for lingering chest ailments.
    It’s difficult to send chicken soup to blog friends…

  77. SmugFucker permalink
    April 4, 2010 12:00 AM

    Yes, I find the barley gets stuck in the routers. Thank you for your kind thought, though I rarely expose my torso, even in solitude. Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

  78. hic8ubique permalink
    April 4, 2010 1:12 AM

    I shudder to think what you protect us from, but wear a shirt by all means, just don’t be a troglodyte! bask fully attired if you must.

  79. April 4, 2010 1:19 PM

    I enojoyed Piers Morgan’s self-delusional profile in the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/apr/04/piers-morgan-this-much-i-know

    The statement

    I never get any abuse from the public. It’s only from the media.

    seems to show a fine lack of understanding of the world around him, and perhaps explains his bewilderment in the statement further on

    Things just happen to me. I was at Naomi Campbell’s fashion show for Haiti and Kate Moss kicked me as hard as she could and ran off.

  80. April 4, 2010 2:21 PM

    Piers also imagines he can save Gordon Brown.

    Now if Brown is to be saved it surely won’t be because the public think ” Piers Morgan likes him so must we”.

  81. freep permalink
    April 4, 2010 10:19 PM

    Nice suburbanisms there, pinkroom, and yes, Badgers Mount (a statement of mammalian rampancy) is not too far from Petts Wood (Petts wood if they could?). The whole of mid-south London feels weird to one like me who was brought up there (Penge, I regret to say) but who has not lived there for getting on for forty years. When I return there now, it all seems very small and huddled, and congested. As Cap’n Ned says, Bromley appears to be shit, but I have been so long out of the place that I am not sure if some transformations may have helped it become high-grade shit. When I was sixteen, the first chinese restaurant opened there, and brought cosmopolitan splendour to the London Road. It was called Fu Do, and the marketing went: Try our exotic oriental meals: Fu (few) Do.
    But do not forget: Hanif Kureishi is from Bromley, and Napoleon III lived in Chislehurst. And Kate Moss is from slightly west, Fornton Eaf or Saf Norwood, I forget which. I shall be back there in a fortnight, but without enthusiasm.
    Let us all send virtual linctus and embrocation to MM, for whom pain and suffereing seem to improve his bardic performance.

  82. mishari permalink*
    April 5, 2010 7:04 PM

    This is why Bob Geldof is my hero.

  83. April 7, 2010 9:19 PM

    Suburbia

    Like a Hollywood film that never ends,
    Like a deep-sea diver suffering from the bends,
    Like a cunning old lag who re-offends,
    Like a cheating spouse who won’t make amends,
    Like a bar-room bore with no real friends,
    Like a lending library that never lends,
    Like a blighted crop a farmer forlornly tends,
    Like an “it’s not you it’s me” letter an ex-lover sends,
    Like instant coffee in a cupboard of exotic blends,
    Like an ends-rhyme poem that inexplicably finishes.

  84. April 7, 2010 10:34 PM

    Editor Line 3 can you change what I’ve written to Like a cunning old lag who re-offends,

    Thanks [Done-Ed.]

  85. April 8, 2010 1:38 PM

    Hello… hello…

    Sorry for recent absences, just been very busy and somewhat up in the air, but just visiting to see if anyone has any reactions to the Digital Economy Bill being passed. Shockingly short time for debate, passed during “wash-up” when they should only be passing minor legislation about shellfish and roads, debated by only a handful of MPs whilst the others are off pimping themselves for the election, and the second reading, committee stage and third reading all in the last few days – quietly slipped through whilst no-one was paying attention. Apparently now we’re all responsible for whatever happens using our IP address, well actually an IP address which will be assigned to us by the people bringing the claim. That’s fair.

    I’ve just written to my local MP. I’ve never done this before, I suspect it’s not quite as exciting or revolutionary as I imagine.

    I’m worried about what it will means for our blogs?

    Anyway, it’s answered my doubts about who to vote for. Allowing this parliamentary process for a labour-proposed Bill has put the nail in their coffin for me. Unfortunately the man who speaks most sense is John Redwood…

  86. April 8, 2010 2:34 PM

    Polly who did oppose it? The Tories certainly didn’t. What’s worse is that you could see it coming a few months ago. Let’s hope it’s an especially HUNG parliament this time round.

  87. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2010 3:07 PM

    Yeah…with ropes and scaffolds and everything. But Pol, how can you take this dolt seriously?

  88. April 8, 2010 3:36 PM

    Al – is that you?

    I can’t watch Youtube at work, soon maybe we won’t be able to watch it at all??

    Well I have this rule that I only listen to what people actually say and I recorded his speech during the second reading on Tuesday and watched it last night (admittedly after coming back from the pub) and he said he thought it was idiotic that they hadn’t had enough time to scrutinise this bill properly, which I agreed with, in fact he said a lot of sensible things, which rather disturbed me as I’m not a tory girl.

    He was possibly only using it as a convenient way to get at Labour though as I believe he wasn’t in the house to vote today, seems odd he made such a noise about it and then didn’t vote.

    I’m in danger of getting hett up about this and no one can tell where that will lead…

  89. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2010 3:42 PM

    …back to the pub, if you’re anything like me.

  90. April 8, 2010 4:00 PM

    No tonight I’m going pole dancing apparently…

  91. April 8, 2010 4:14 PM

    Polly yes Al is now Edward due to ……. reading a John Le Carre novel might be simpler than explaining why but I answer to both names.

    Someone I know who is a staunch old – Labourite once confessed to me that she had a thing about John Redwood.

    Yes quite.

    If that doesn’t send you screaming down to the pub nothing else will. I’m still self-medicating

  92. April 8, 2010 4:19 PM

    It’s love across the barricades, Al.

    What gets me is that MPs are constantly point-scoring off each other and in the meantime it’s the common people who suffer as they pass ludicrous laws.

    Vote independent. In fact, vote for a lawnmower or something, at least it has some use.

  93. April 8, 2010 5:12 PM

    Polly wondered what you’d been up to so visited your blog. So sorry to hear of your bad news. If there’s anything we can do to distract you then just say the word.

  94. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2010 5:49 PM

    Likewise, Pol. I had no idea…

    Given that (Michael) Caine recently threatened to become a tax exile again, his coming out for a Tory policy wasn’t the most enormous shock. “I’m here because I’m a representative of all those youngsters that have been forgotten in this country,” he explained. – The Grauniad, today

    76 year-old Caine is the voice of disenfranchised yoof? Who knew? Mind you, I expect he’s fed-up with paying taxes. After all, they just go to keep Wayne and Waynetta Slob in flat-screen tellys and fags.

    Not a lot of people know that.

  95. April 8, 2010 6:56 PM

    On the news he said that he didn’t much enjoy his National Service stint. But that doesn’t stop him recommending that others do something similar.

    No surprise he’s a Tory – shit film after shit film done just for the money.

  96. mishari permalink*
    April 8, 2010 8:40 PM

    Very true, Ed.

    The Grauniad’s slide into mediocrity continues unimpeded, I see. On the front page at the moment is:

    Duchess of Cornwall suffers twisted fracture after slipping while walking in Scotland.

    Gripping stuff…

  97. Pollyanna permalink
    April 8, 2010 8:59 PM

    “Pollyanna suffers strange growth of purple third ankle bone in pole-dancing shocker”. That was hard work and I’m covered in bruises already. Apparently they use tattoo concealer in the clubs to cover the bruises. Nice. The things we women go through!

    Thanks Al and Misha for the concern. I’m afraid my blog looks rather bleak, I’ve got over that particular upset a bit now, but haven’t got round to writing anything else on there yet. Looking forward to the future instead of dwelling on the could-have-beens seems the best way now. Just needed a bit of time and space to pick myself up again. Still laying off the poetry for a bit longer though.

    Our local green candidate had the misfortune to decide to be canvassing out and about today, she’s had her ear bashed about digital rights.

    I never really understood the allure of Michael Caine, although the Italian Job was good.

  98. hic8ubique permalink
    April 9, 2010 5:24 PM

    I am aware that real men make rhymes for PH.
    SORRY. Just a little thought-form…
    Maybe it’ll pass with MM away.

    Had we not chosen bipedalism,
    suburbia would be slung
    with enough rope to hang from,
    Camilla might not have twisted
    her fracture, (fractures are best left be)
    and Polly would not have evolved
    the purple ‘tripula’, the third ankle bone.
    No, we’d all be brachiating safely
    as the Australopithecine dawn-man did.
    Osteoporosis and chronic lumbar pain
    would be unknown, our habitats designed
    to offer always something to cling to.
    Children know this instinctively;
    they make tree-forts, climb jungle-gyms
    and swing from monkey-bars.
    Why did we stop when
    we might have invented tool-belts
    along with tools?
    Remember the sharp smell of wet green
    under cherry bark,
    the testing for a safe branch
    with your bare toes,
    while gripping a limb above
    with calloused palms?

  99. Captain Ned permalink
    April 10, 2010 8:31 AM

    This gem from today’s Guardian:

    The experience the church has gained in battling abuse in its ranks “could be useful to other institutions and society as a whole,” he [Father Federico Lombardi] added. “It seems that the media has not considered this aspect sufficiently.”

    What dolts we’ve all been! Surely, as the man says, society should be grateful for the golden opportunity to learn from past mistakes. That damnable ‘media’, with its focus on ‘cover-ups’, ‘lies’, ‘scandal’ and the rest of it – what a contrast between it and the eternal sagacity of the holy church, whose eyes are forever fixed on the main issues.

  100. April 10, 2010 8:53 AM

    So that’s what the abuse was about. Training for priests to be able to deal with the fall-out of abuse.

    You’ve got to admire the ability to twist in the wind.

    On the other hand about 40 years ago an acquaintance of mine was accused of child abuse which he was subsequently proved to be innocent of and the press carried on dragging his name deep into the mud to a destructive conclusion.

    Obviously not the case here but they don’t help themselves by how they behave either.

  101. mishari permalink*
    April 10, 2010 10:06 AM

    Personally, I regard all men in dresses with names that sound like food with the deepest suspicion.

    I mean…Monsignor Adolf Tagliatelli al Fresco–I ask you.
    An obvious wrong ‘un. Still, who could have predicted that an ex-Hitler Youth Pope and former Vatican enforcer would fail to grasp the erm, complexities?

    You have to admire their brass neck, though (Ned’s quote).
    We could have film footage of The Pope with his penis firmly inserted in a 12 year-old boy and the bastards would tell us that ‘…’is ‘Oliness, ‘e, ‘ow you say? e’ check boy’s temperature. ‘E looking poorly and Il Papa is very kind man…’ Amen and pass the magic meat biscuits.

  102. mishari permalink*
    April 12, 2010 6:27 PM

    Vatican forgives Beatles for ‘Satanic’ messagesThe Grauniad, today

    You have to give the Church credit. When it comes to tackling today’s hot-button issues head-on, they don’t flinch…

  103. April 12, 2010 9:08 PM

    I suppose they thought this contemporary down with the kids message of forgiveness would distract us from the fact that their priests have also been getting down with the kids.

  104. April 13, 2010 10:34 AM

    Does this mean John Lennon can start progressing through Purgatory, or does he stay in Hell? I’m never sure how it works.

    I’m also thrilled to learn from a new billboard campaign that the elction’s leadship debates with be broadcast on Sky in HD. Now the vote can be decided on the real issues: eyebrow twitches and nose-hair.

  105. April 13, 2010 11:02 AM

    On reflection XB I think the Pope is talking about Ringo Starr’s voiceovers on Thomas the Tank Engine.

  106. April 13, 2010 12:27 PM

    a fair point, but nonetheless a moral reprimand from the Vatican is currently the moral equivalent of being scolded for swearing by an arms dealer. Or being told off for singing pop songs by an international gang of paedophiles and their protectors. Oh, hang on…

  107. mishari permalink*
    April 13, 2010 12:45 PM

    Consider yourself excommunicated.

  108. April 13, 2010 1:25 PM

    The Catholic Church’s behaviour and justification for such behaviour appears to prove that not only do 2 wrongs make a right but that over 100 wrongs also make a right.

  109. mishari permalink*
    April 13, 2010 1:33 PM

    …and 2000 years of wrongs makes a doctrine.

  110. April 13, 2010 1:38 PM

    Some cardinal has blamed the scandal on homosexuality, rather than abstinence. Rather like finding a bitten-in-two body washed up on a Florida beach and blaming it on pandas.

  111. mishari permalink*
    April 13, 2010 1:45 PM

    Is that the same Cardinal that blamed it all on the Jews?
    For a faith that drones on about sin and repentance at quite extraordinary length, they seem to be remarkably nimble at avoiding accepting either.

    They’ll be blaming the Masons, the Illuminati and the Tri-lateral Commission next.

    Why can’t they blame that twit Bono…just for a laugh, like?

  112. April 13, 2010 1:59 PM

    I blame Dan Brown. He’s always had it in for the catholics.

    And is it me, or is it a little bit silly, this idea Richard Dawkins has of trying to arrest Il Papa when he visit the UK? As when veterna down-nose-gazer George Monbiot tried the same thing wiht John Bolton to universal indifference. Although I’d love to see Dawkins try. In HD, obviously.

  113. April 13, 2010 2:02 PM

    sp: veteran; with.

    And I’ve just applied for copy-editing training.

  114. mishari permalink*
    April 13, 2010 2:18 PM

    “A man in a dress and a tall hat is helping police with their enquiries…”

  115. April 13, 2010 2:40 PM

    Sounds like the Catholics don’t play the blame game. Should Richard Dawkins try and arrest Deepak Chopra instead?

    I admired Peter Tatchell for trying to arrest Robert Mugabe so let’s hope Dawkins does have a go at the pope. Obviously it will be better in HD but boring old 3-D wouldn’t be too bad either.

  116. freep permalink
    April 13, 2010 2:46 PM

    I think the bugger should be made to earn his keep. There’s plenty of work for him to do when he gets here. I want to see some nice headlines in the Northumberland Gazette:
    ….Pontiff to open Newbiggin ASDA ……….
    …Benedict comforts Chloe (7) after loss of much-loved spaniel …
    …Pope drops in to Morpeth School to help class IX boys with GCSE German … (no, forget the last one, God knows what he might do with his crozier)

  117. April 13, 2010 3:08 PM

    freep are you sure he can be trusted with your second option?

  118. freep permalink
    April 13, 2010 3:11 PM

    OK then. Pontiff to circumcise baby llamas at Jewish wildlife park, as ecumenical gesture. That should be safe enough.

  119. April 13, 2010 3:35 PM

    I’d be happier if the pope was kept away from penises full stop. Be they human or animal.

  120. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 13, 2010 3:44 PM

    It seems inevitable, and hopeful, given recent events, that the Catholic Church is heading for major brain-death and body-shutdown. It won’t be a day too soon. (It also won’t be a day to soon if they ever manage to shut down the current Easter thread over on Poster Poems.)

    On our national tv station here the other night (RTE 1) they aired a documentary on that horrendous paedophile prelate “Father” Marcel Marciel, who was let off the hook by the Vatican as recently as four years ago (on the grounds of age and ill-heath) and for whome the current Pope further converted his crime into a “sin” and sent him off to live the remainder of his days in “penance” and “relective consideration”. If that worthless bastard (now deceased) hadn’t been found out he’d be currently up for canonisation, and there are still those in the Church who insist on his “saintliness”.

    And there are bishops and cardinals here in Ireland who are still holding onto office because they refuse to resign over their inaction (and in many cases obfuscation and obstruction) during past paedophile scandals despite the outcry. The Catholic Church is incapable of learning from this and the sooner it dies and rots into non-existence the better.

    Jack Brae

  121. April 13, 2010 4:39 PM

    Good. I knew I could be guaranteed a laugh if I came over here to see who you’d been insulting since I’ve been away. My company is having some supremely bad “reorganisation” ideas which I seem to have to implement even though they are stupid, which is upsetting me more than it should do I’m sure. Oh well. Suddenly the chumps running my company seem a lot better compared to the Catholic church.

    What’s up with the poster poems, Jack? Turned into a love-in again has it? As I’m going through a poetry-free phase I’ve not been there recently.
    I’m aware I still owe some poems from last year here…

  122. mishari permalink*
    April 13, 2010 5:26 PM

    Apropos of nothing, I think this one turned out quite well:

  123. Captain Ned permalink
    April 13, 2010 11:11 PM

    Ah, The Only Ones… brings back memories of my college jukebox. This was one of the few decent tracks to be found amidst all the Queen, Britney Spears and the whole dismal plethora of NOWs. ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’; ‘Blue Monday’; ‘Boys Don’t Cry’… I must have spent a small fortune playing these songs and a few others in a futile effort to keep the aural environment of the bar unpolluted.

    When I read about the current tribulations of the Papacy, my immediate reaction is one of relief that my own childhood was healthily secular. It’s curious and heartening that Wales, for years a conservative society dominated by rigid Non-conformism, is now a remarkably irreligious place; the ‘Chapel Welsh’ are a dwindling breed. The English used to look on Wales with a shudder as an earnest, pious land of dreary hymns and stone-faced preachers, but my impression is that Wales is now a much less religious place than England, less affected by Evangelicanism. Old-fashioned Anglicanism’s dying grip on the public sphere may be slipping inexorably, but the claws are going to be dug in for a while yet.

    I have a few Irish Catholic friends, scientists by education, who, though not overtly religious and hostile towards Church hierarchy, still won’t or can’t shake off entirely the faith of their upbringing. I don’t think any of them are churchgoers (not while they’re in England, anyway), their social views aren’t exactly in line with those of His Holiness, and in my few (admittedly somewhat drunken) attempts at questioning them about their spiritual convictions, they’ve seemed unsure themselves as to whether they’re truly Christian believers. There’s some sort of stubborn residual belief there, but what it is, exactly, I don’t think they know. In the face of unbelief, they shrug their shoulders awkwardly, and say ‘Yes, but… just because, alright.’ Perhaps the continuing drip-drip of revelations will be enough to dislodge the burden (and I think, deep down, they do think of it as a burden). It’s a burden that, at its most crushing, has kept people down for far too long now, and turned them into deferential cringers in bowing thrall to the priesthood; this is why I find the Pope’s recent suggestion that a lack of faith in contemporary Irish society is partly to blame for the abuse that children have suffered so offensive. An even greater lack of faith would have saved them the ordeal, you nit. ‘Major brain-death and body-shutdown’ is perfectly put, Jack; it can’t come soon enough.

    It’s funny once in a while to check out the Telegraph blogs: Gerald Warner, Christina Odone and Damian Thompson with their laughable inistence that Ratzinger is part of the solution, not the problem. The tangled knots into which these fools tie themselves, to the approval of the even dimmer below-the-line commenters (often more fanatical in their inability to allow any criticism of their beloved Benedict), can be quite hilarious in a grim kind of way. The real villains are all those damned liberal modernists, don’t you know? The rot started with Vatican II. What such blinkered apologists can’t understand is that it doesn’t matter how tough Benedict now gets with offenders as the scandals come to light, because the policy of covering things up is still effectively in place. The wheels grind into public motion only when action can no longer be put off; reaction is localised, so that it’s conceded, that yes, there have been problems in the US, in Ireland, in Germany, but for now, at least, we’re saying that that’s it. And when the next wave of stories breaks out in a new country, I expect we’ll see the same panicky, furious denials and stonewalling right until the strategy is exhausted. If Benedict were really serious about tackling this problem, he’d order a thorough international initiative of full co-operation with the police and openness about the past (plus a greater willingness to compensate teh victims). But he’s not doing that; the honour and prestige of the Church come first, as always. His palace is burning down, and he’s desperately trying to put fires in individual rooms; only when it’s obvious that a room is beyond saving does he call in the fire brigade, and only then so that they sprinkle the flames in that particular room while he denies that there’s so much as an unusual warmness anywhere else in the building.

    Or, to put it another way…

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/pope-vows-to-get-church-pedophilia-down-to-accepta,17201/

  124. mishari permalink*
    April 13, 2010 11:21 PM

    ‘The Welsh,’ said the Doctor, ‘are the only nation in the world that has produced no graphic or plastic art, no architecture, no drama. They just sing, ‘ he said with disgust, ‘sing and blow down wind instruments of plated silver…’ – Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall

    Sorry, Ned…I couldn’t resist. Mind you, Waugh was an equal opportunity hater. He loathed everyone except Old Etonian Dukes;(poor man: so clever and yet so silly).

    The Church, eh? Still, I guess if you’re prepared to believe in virgin births, resurrections, angels on high, water to wine and cream crackers to flesh, you’ll believe absolutely fucking anything…

    …and here’s a fellow after Pope Adolf’s own heart:

    A 66-year-old man pleaded guilty today to having sex with a horse and a donkey.

    Joseph Squires appeared at Leicester Crown Court charged with buggery of a donkey between February 2 and February 5, 1999, and buggery of a horse between March 15 and 18, 2004.

    He also faced charges of damaging property – relating to the two animals on the same dates.

    Squires, whose address was previously given as Overpark Avenue, Leicester, was due to stand trial but pleaded guilty to all four counts at Leicester Crown Court today.

    Defence counsel Amar Mehta told the court Squires had no previous convictions and was of previous good character.

    Requesting he be released on bail, he said: “The defendant does not have a stable address… – The Indy, today

    A stable address, eh? The subs at the Indy are clearly working over-time…

  125. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 14, 2010 11:37 AM

    I wonder if Mr Squires is by any chance a Somerset man?

  126. April 14, 2010 12:10 PM

    A horse and a donkey suggests someone with social pretentions MM. Unheard of in Somerset – could be an in-comer of course.

    And if that hasn’t set up a punchline I’ll sell my shares in mangelwurzels.

  127. Captain Ned permalink
    April 14, 2010 1:02 PM

    Ah, but Mishari, we Welsh can boast of humanity’s supreme cultural endeavour: the Eisteddfod, a preposterous pseudo-medieval pageant, dreamt up by an eccentric Romantic hoaxer and enthusiastically adopted by pious Victorians. Not only does it have singing and plated wind instruments, it has silly costumes as well.

  128. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 15, 2010 10:34 AM

    Riding with Mr Squires

    I’ve nothing against women, on the whole,
    but there’s always that predetermined course
    which must be followed to the final goal;
    generally speaking, I prefer the horse.

    You don’t require an elaborate courtship:
    a handful of oats and feed molasses,
    perhaps a whisper of the riding whip
    and then you’re jingling the harness brasses.

    Cinch the Somerset strap and off you go,
    the only technique is just to stay on,
    and when you’re done a carrot or Polo,
    a slap on the rump and you’re gone.

    For me the thoroughbred is my first love,
    though I’ve had good times with Shire and Shetland;
    sometimes, sadly, as in the case above,
    one has to settle for the dull best friend.

  129. April 15, 2010 6:54 PM

    There’s a preponderance of hay
    The horse has gone “Neigh”
    Another tryst with Melton Mowbray.

    The earlier tryst with the donkey
    Made the donkey’s legs wonky
    And the rhyming scheme clonky

  130. April 15, 2010 10:01 PM

    I got proofs for the famed, long-awaited Poster Poems publication today.

    Anyone else – aside from Mishari, who will just rant about the taking part in the first place?

  131. April 15, 2010 10:15 PM

    Nothing Poster-poem-related has arrived in my in-box.

  132. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 15, 2010 10:55 PM

    I’ve got one, in which I’m named as MeltonMobray. The Grauniad tradition lives on.

    The poems are depressingly poor. Perhaps I expected them to improve with age, like vintage wine. Unfortunately they are corked.

  133. mishari permalink*
    April 15, 2010 11:33 PM

    Yup…just checked my in-box and found a few .pdf files from Richard Lea. I haven’t looked at them yet, just downloaded them to my machine. I can’t even remember which poems were selected.

    Like MM, I’ll be surprised if they’ve aged well. After all, they were more or less written to order and on the fly–hardly a recipe for artistic quality…Christ, it’s taken the fuckers long enough, though. At this rate, the volume will be ready just in time to be read at my funeral.

  134. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 15, 2010 11:46 PM

    It’s hard to imagine the funeral at which my efforts might be read. A swingers’ interment, perhaps.

  135. April 15, 2010 11:59 PM

    The poems are depressingly poor.

    That’s the problem with their policy of letting any fucker write them.

    I think my author’s bio is actually better than the poem.

  136. Pollyanna permalink
    April 16, 2010 12:05 AM

    I didn’t get an email about the PP book, but then hopefully they’ve found something better to put in instead of my effort, as it was pretty shit and I do believe falls under the category of written by “any fucker”.

  137. mishari permalink*
    April 16, 2010 12:06 AM

    I think my author’s bio is actually better than the poem.

    Probably because you took longer over it.

  138. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 16, 2010 12:43 AM

    I was referring to my own oeuvre, you understand, rather than that of sterling contributors such as Obooki, Poll and the Prince, whose lips have plainly suckled at the teat of Erato.

  139. April 16, 2010 1:12 AM

    I’ve not received anything. Have I been Trotsky’d?

  140. mishari permalink*
    April 16, 2010 9:50 AM

    Yes, XB. I got in touch with The Graun and insisted that you be expunged (preferably physically). I pointed out that it would be unseemly for a man of your well-known moral turpitude to appear in a volume beside such exemplars of high moral tone as myself, the Very Rev. Freep. and Bishop Mowbray of Threshers.

    I’ve been re-reading Ackroyd’s wonderful London: A Biography. Early in, Ackroyd expounds on London’s wall and gates and how hermits and anchorites were the self-appointed guardians of same. But there were flies in the ointment, apparently.

    …it is clear that many of them were hermits by device rather than by profession…in 1412, for example, William Blakeney was convicted at Guildhall for going about ‘barefooted and with long hair, under the guise of sanctity’.

  141. April 16, 2010 9:54 AM

    I’m officially furious and will be issuing a press release to say so.

    The press release will be better than my poems. As Sir Alex Ferguson would say no question about that.

  142. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 16, 2010 10:19 AM

    From the tractor of Edward Taylor

    Dear Sarah Crown,

    Where be my email be?
    Where be my email be?
    ‘Ee be nowhere I can see,
    And I be after ‘ee.

  143. April 16, 2010 10:39 AM

    MM AS Richard Lea has been sending the emails you missed a rhyming high five there.

    Incidentally welcome back, last time you returned we were treated to Mr. Mpowbray’s Travelogue. Antything in the pipeline?

    I missed the “debate” but caught the “”””””highlights””””””” on BBC2. Cameron reminds me of Gil the Arthur Miller-esque salesman in the Simpsons. Desperate to sell you something but also aware that a wrong word can scupper the whole enterprise.

    Thought they were all boring beyond belief even in edited form but Cameron was the slimiest.

  144. Captain Ned permalink
    April 16, 2010 10:39 AM

    One of the pdfs I received contained Mowbray’s Tintern Abbey pome and something by UnpublishedWriter; nothing to do with me, alas. I should be disappointed if there aren’t similar fuck-ups with everyone’s email.

    I can see Edward Tayor charging about on his tractor in furious pursuit of his poems, MM, but would there be any point in him going after Sarah Crown? Richard Lea sent the emails; I suspect Crown’s given up on the project in despair after we all kept badgering her about it.

  145. April 16, 2010 10:40 AM

    Mr. Mpowbray – a relative of yours I believe.

  146. mishari permalink*
    April 16, 2010 10:48 AM

    The Mpowbrays are the Russian branch…

  147. April 16, 2010 11:24 AM

    I suspected as much, Mishari. I understand you’ve assisted the Guardian in filling the gap left by my work with a five-page epic of your own. I guess someone had to step up.

    Ackroyd’s book is wonderful, probably went a long way to shaping how I see the city. I have two copies of his Thames book (everyone knows what to get me for Christmas). But it hasn’t got to the top of the pile, yet.

    I’m reading Anna Karenina at the moment, and wishing with every page that some idion at the Guardian hadn’t given away the ending in an article I read several years ago.

  148. April 16, 2010 11:31 AM

    Now my posts aren’t appearing. Are they sitting in your queue, Mishari? I’m getting paranoid.

  149. April 16, 2010 11:32 AM

    Well, that worked. Here’s what I was trying to say:

    Mishari, I understand you’ve assisted the Guardian in filling the gap left by my work with a five-page epic of your own. I guess someone had to step up.

    Ackroyd’s book is wonderful, probably went a long way to shaping how I see the city. I have two copies of his Thames book (everyone knows what to get me for Christmas). But it hasn’t got to the top of the pile, yet.

    I’m reading Anna Karenina at the moment, and wishing with every page that some idion at the Guardian hadn’t given away the ending in an article I read several years ago.

  150. zephirine permalink
    April 16, 2010 11:39 AM

    Agree about the ‘depressingly poor’… I looked at one of mine and thought, “God, that’s shit.” Not helped by the fact that the pdfs came out in VERY LARGE TYPE which is kind of pitiless….it’s at times like this that one is grateful for pseudonyms. But then, let another year go by and I might quite like the stuff again.

    At least the book’s finally happening and will be bought by, ooh, 25 people. And I’m all for anything that circumvents the deadly stranglehold of Proper Publishers.

  151. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 16, 2010 11:40 AM

    Oh yes, Richard Lea. I must have assumed they came from SC. The poor bloke always seems to get the crap jobs.

    I thought there was supposed to be more than the ones I received, though I couldn’t remember which they were. I would be very happy to have the Captain’s poems attributed to me, and he’s welcome to mine.

    I think I bunged in my travelogue while the Prince was at his summer palace in Morocco last year. Maybe there’ll be an opening when he’s at his place in Juan Les Pins, or the villa in Tuscany, or the beach house in Barbados, or the dacha in St Petersburg. But as I’ve said before, I think an account of the Whalley Range All Stars summer progress across Europe would be fascinating.

  152. April 16, 2010 11:52 AM

    I get it…

    You’ve received PDFs of your own poems, not the entire book?

    To be honest, regardless of the poems’ quality, when the book was announced last year it came just after I’d had another novel shot down and I was glad for any good news. Also, the few months I spent on PP were great fun and I’d like to have a physical memento of that to read in my dotage by the light of burning servers, monitors and iPads in the coming era, known only to future historians as ‘Offline’.

  153. April 16, 2010 12:04 PM

    Trotsky so THERE you are!

    Sickert always advised that after doing a drawing you should stick it in a drawer for a year, then take it out to see if it’s any good.

    I can’t even remember what efforts of mine they selected but as they’ve forgotten about me anyway no harm done.

  154. April 16, 2010 12:23 PM

    Trotsky and the Ice Picks is a great name for a rockabilly group.

  155. mishari permalink*
    April 16, 2010 12:27 PM

    Found your posts in the spam bin, XB…no idea why. The Thames book is excellent and a wonderful companion to his London book.

    Steven Seagal Made Me Cry: Jenny McCarthy Huff Post, today

    I have no idea who the pneumatic Ms. McCarthy is but I do know how she feels…

  156. April 16, 2010 12:42 PM

    “Don’t Go to Mexico” would be their best known tune.

    Incidentally Mr. Lea sent me the proofs – on one page a poem by Baron Charlus appears above one of mine.

    Otherwise I stand by one of my atttempts but otherwise I’m cringing. Never mind putting something in a drawer for a year – four of my five ( FIVE!!!!) should be sealed in a safe, towed out to sea, weighed down with lead and sunk.

  157. April 16, 2010 1:02 PM

    Just got mine, also. Was glad to see myself on the same page as your ‘I’m sorry’, Al.

  158. mishari permalink*
    April 16, 2010 1:20 PM

    BTW, XB, I meant to thank you for sending me that link to the Cope book…so, thanks.

    “Don’t Go to Mexico” would be their best known tune.

    That was the flip-side of ‘Need This Like A Hole In The Head’, wasn’t it?

  159. April 16, 2010 1:36 PM

    You can find it on the Stallin’ Stalin EP – Eisenstein is on drums.

  160. April 16, 2010 1:38 PM

    No problem!

    Mishari, if I may use PH as a platform for a moment:

    I’m currently setting up an informal Clapham-based monthly meeting for writers, filmakers, artists, poets etc. I have no particular agenda in mind, just a place to encounter like-minded souls for the exchange of enthusiasm and ideas.

    Also, two friends of mine are founding an open-mic night – poems, songs, stand-up etc – also in Clapham. I will be performing, in some capacity, on the inaugural night.

    At the risk of breaking the internet’s magical fourth wall, I wanted permission from anyone who may be interested in hearing more to add their email addresses to my mailing list (I’m not a compulsive mailer and I’ll assume you’re fine for viagra). Mishari, Ned and Zeph, you’re London based, I think. Let me know either way. I won’t be offended if you’d rather demur and retain your mystique.

  161. mishari permalink*
    April 16, 2010 2:19 PM

    No problem, XB. You know my email address.

  162. April 16, 2010 4:36 PM

    OH MY GOD. I just got the proof through for the PP poster poems. I wasn’t that bothered about it, but now I’ve seen who I’m sharing a page with I’m most enthusiastic to be in it because it will REALLY REALLY wind her up!

    My poem still looks shit though…

  163. Captain Ned permalink
    April 16, 2010 5:00 PM

    OK by me, EB, although Clapton to Clapham is a bitch of a journey.

    Polly, if the person to whom you’re referring is the same person who sprung to my mind when I read your post, then I share your amusement. You’d better be prepared to receive a lot of irate letters in green ink, though. Perhaps the severed heads of a few drummers, drug fiends and Derby councillors, as well.

  164. Pollyanna permalink
    April 16, 2010 10:33 PM

    I’m not sure Jack, there are a few likely candidates I think, but perhaps some people on here might know who.

    If I wasn’t bothered about my little offering before, I certainly am now.

  165. Pollyanna permalink
    April 16, 2010 10:44 PM

    Erm – not sure about this biographical note. Feel tempted to make something up completely… what have the rest of you done?

  166. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 16, 2010 11:00 PM

    Dear Fellow Misharites,

    I am so heartened to hear that not only have you all received your proofs for the new Poster Poems Anthology, but that you all think that your poems are absolute shite. This will decrease my feelings of jealously for not being in the book when it finally arrives on the shelves.

    One suggestion: reconfigure your biographical notes as poems, and that way you might stand a chance of retrieving your reputations.

    Ah well, I just hope that there’s a “Poster Poems Anthology Two: Bastard Sibling of Anthology One”. I could probably get into that one.

    Jack Brae

  167. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2010 12:36 AM

    Biographical note.

    My pseudonym is MeltonMowbray
    I am the author of this verse
    If you think it’s total crap
    Prince Mishari’s stuff is worse.

  168. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 17, 2010 1:54 AM

    Biographical Note

    My name is Jack Brae Curtingstall
    and I’m not in this book at all.
    My Muse was summoned far too late
    to grace me with the Godlike Great
    that fill these pages with their spleen,
    with verses purple and tangerine.
    That last line might not make much sense
    but there’s comfort in the recompense
    that although the book is Jack Brae light
    at least it’s full of other’s Shite.

  169. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 17, 2010 2:00 AM

    Correction to Biographical Note

    Oh Editor, Sir, Prince Mishari,
    my spelling had abandoned me;
    so could you please amend line three
    and put two o’s behind that t.

  170. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 17, 2010 2:10 AM

    An Enquiry of the Editor

    Should other’s not be others’
    this poet does enquire,
    lest the singular for plural
    proves his grammar was a liar.

    [Not positive but I think it takes the apostrophe, Jack. cf. other people’s poems. I’m open to correction, howeverUnomniscient Ed.]

  171. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 17, 2010 2:16 AM

    His grammar was a liar,
    his grandad was a horse;
    Jack Brae is going off to bed
    before his verse gets worse.

  172. freep permalink
    April 17, 2010 2:40 AM

    Well,I have had a communication inviting me to look at my poems again in the mythological grondiaun omphology, which I do not believe in, and they are not shite, but merely well rotted compost . But i am in a bad frame of mind to consider the merits of my own pomes or anyone else’s, as I have done an 800 mile round trip to visit an old peoples home where the smells were bad and people were alive who should have died many years ago. Luckily there was a fine specimen of a Wellingtonia in the grounds, and a brief but sturdy avenue of dawn redwoods, which make everything else worthwhile.
    Richard Lea looks like he might be the Guardian Person Who Gets Things Done. But don’t hold your breath.
    A tree is better than a poem.
    Clapham is worth going to for speaking business and uttering fine words and parsnips, but too far for me.

  173. Pollyanna permalink
    April 17, 2010 8:07 AM

    Jack – you need a whole book, never mind a page on an anthology!

    I think it’s a good idea, the anthology, it’s nice to see these things in print, but I suppose we’d all think we’ve written something better before or since. It’s a good demonstration of how people can collaborate and produce something off the cuff though.

    A poetic biog? This is my early morning effort…

    Drunken boasts of poetic skill
    Once sober felt bound to fulfil.
    Wrote some verse, thought “What the hell”,
    and posted it as Pinkerbell.

  174. mishari permalink*
    April 17, 2010 8:35 AM

    I thought my verse was awful duff
    So dull and bland and trite
    But then I read dread Mowbray’s stuff
    Now, there’s some proper shite.

  175. April 17, 2010 8:53 AM

    Reading my verse made me cringe
    A hangover as if from a drinking binge
    A tin-ear for rhythm,I’ll find it hard to look
    At the bloody things “immortalised” in a book.

    Still with dirges like these which in an O level would fail
    Now printed up will make me impossible to blackmail.

  176. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2010 10:38 AM

    The poems may be out of the bag,
    but don’t get too confident, Taylor,
    there’s the tape and the perfumed letter,
    and I’ve still got the photos, sailor.

  177. April 17, 2010 10:58 AM

    If you publish the photos you just might
    Find yourself in the worser light
    I was just clicking the shutter
    Twas you entwined with a certified nutter.

    The tapes I’d be prepared to bet
    Are either your old Showaddywaddy cassette
    Or the reading of the poems abusing your pet
    A labrador as once was, according to the vet.

  178. mishari permalink*
    April 17, 2010 11:20 AM

    Showaddywaddy? I had to google them and this, to my horror, is what I found:

    • Polly permalink
      April 17, 2010 4:10 PM

      It says something that this song isn’t wheeled out every year on Christmas compilations, that really is a sign of how shite it is! Those kids are not a patch on St Winifred’s either.

  179. April 17, 2010 11:47 AM

    I guess you must have been in the States or deep in a bunker when horrors like Showaddywaddy were bestriding the UK pop world and dominating juke-boxes in pubs. Shudders at the thought..

  180. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2010 12:37 PM

    I think they played here not long ago (it’s ‘Dinosaur Island’). They were pretty awful, though not as bad as Alvin Stardust. I must admit to a mild penchant for Mud in the earlyish 70s.

  181. hic8ubique permalink
    April 17, 2010 2:44 PM

    roundabout the annular rings of giant trees
    sings the verse of the weathered bluff man.
    freep is within there scrawled and splay-bowed
    in quick pith, his fine sense bound to the living masts.
    in cross-section it disappears, peel away and it spoils,
    so how to learn his florilegium?
    only drink the clear tap-running on a cold Spring night
    and awash be drawn in through the roots.

  182. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 17, 2010 3:40 PM

    Pollyanna, as soon as you mentioned the idea I could visualize it immediately: The Guardian Book Of Jack Brae Curtingstall.

    A much needed tome if English-language literature has any hope of survival. I earnestly advise you all to petition the Guardian immediately.

    Jack Brae

  183. Polly permalink
    April 17, 2010 4:13 PM

    Yes, I shall design my placards this evening Jack!

  184. freep permalink
    April 17, 2010 6:25 PM

    Thank you very much, hic, that was a beautiful meditation.
    ‘bound to the living masts’ calls to mind the legends about Turner being strapped to various masts so that he could incise into his memory the true sensations of storms at sea. Even if they were half true, he was a dab hand at storms and shipwrecks and the glow of darkness, as in Milton’s Darkness Visible.
    There are lots of good stories about people who are in love with trees. Beethoven arrived at some inn in Germany or Austria and said to the landlord ‘How is this? Where are your trees?’ We have none, sir,’ came the reply. ‘The the place won’t do for me,’ said the world’s greatest composer;’ I love a tree more than a man.’

    If anyone is pondering whether, why or how to vote in a couple of weeks, ask not about policy, which is always complete nonsense. Anyone can say they are in favour of social justice, being kind to the poor, or protecting the people against wicked foreigners. I am not interested in those things in the slightest, because I don’t particularly believe in the reality of those concepts such as health, security or education.
    Ask your candidate, rather, about real, present and practical matters. What are his or her views about Dogg Licences? and will they make sure that Mr Fenwick at No 17 is prosecuted if his border terrier befouls the grass verge one more time? And ask their views about trees too, and how many do they intend to have planted in your county / borough in 2010/11? And what of poultry keepers and precautions against rats making their lairs under their hen coops?
    Look after the trees and the doggs, and Afghanistan will look after itself. And there is no deficit that can’t be sorted by a little shuffling of pieces of paper, before checking out whether there is likely to be any more scaly leg mite among the Marans this year.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 18, 2010 4:14 AM

      Turner, a dab hand indeed!
      Pleasing to me that you approve, freep.
      Meditation is a good word for it, and only a slight reflection
      of the pleasure I always have at reading your perspective on things.

  185. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2010 11:18 PM

    This morning I emailed my local councillor to ask him to remove the ivy which is smothering the hawthorn tree at the end of my garden. He lives in the house over the fence, where I think the ivy originates. I suppose I could just stick my head over the fence, but he is a Liberal Democrat and you never quite know what they may be doing in private. Jeremy Thorpe and Mark Oaten are awful warnings.

    Should any of the candidates come to my door, which has never happened in 30 years (the IoW is the largest constituency in the UK), I will be complaining about doggs on the beach, vicious mutilation of street trees by psychopathic contractors, non-replacement of street trees when removed for various pointless tasks and failure to maintain stakes of young street trees. Any more than two points and the attention span of the candidate is exhausted.

  186. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2010 11:21 PM

    That’s four points, isn’t it? They would be next door already.

  187. mishari permalink*
    April 17, 2010 11:48 PM

    With every successive point you make, you should slash the bastard’s torso with your rapier (available from any good rapier supplier); inscribe him with an ‘M’ (X4) and inform him that should he fail you, his testicles will be the guests of honour at the next Mowbray barbeque.

    It’s what I do (even down to the ‘M’) and I find it concentrates their minds wonderfully…you can hardly see the houses for the trees flourishing on my street.

  188. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 18, 2010 12:20 AM

    That sounds quite satisfactory, except that the Lib Dem candidate is a woman. I know slashing women is traditional in Whitechapel, but it’s frowned on in respectable areas of Ryde. Instead I favour emphasising each point with blows from a lump hammer, possibly to the knees and elbows. As the candidates crawl away through the icing of dog crap and crisp packets which covers the crumbling asphalt of the pavement they will have time to reflect on my keen arguments and irrefutable logic.

  189. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2010 2:02 AM

    Very entertaining vid of Pie-Face Cameron desperately attempting to synchronise his brain and his mouth (and failing abjectly). As Lib Dem blogger Stephen Tall put it:

    The Tory blogger Iain Dale loyally attempted to gloss over Mr Cameron’s dire performance, desperately claiming “I think the inherent problem with the interview was that Cameron didn’t know if he was giving a print interview or a film interview”.

    Sure thing, Iain – I can see exactly how the confusion arose. After all which senior politician hasn’t wondered, when being interviewed two metres away from a three-person camera crew, “Is this being filmed?”

  190. April 18, 2010 9:17 AM

    That Cameron video should be re-titled “Death of a Salesman”

  191. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 18, 2010 10:24 AM

    Reminds me of certain interviews with the constabulary undertaken in my youth.

  192. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 18, 2010 11:26 AM

    So, do you rate Abdo Khal?

  193. freep permalink
    April 18, 2010 1:05 PM

    Mish, you can call Cameron a pie-face, but remember that many pies have a dignity and presence, and a browned crust that signifies character. Perhaps you meant jelly-head. I do not like pies to be impugned. There is Melton Mowbray to think of too, with feelings.

  194. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2010 1:45 PM

    Perhaps ‘moon-faced’ would be more accurate, freep. My apologies. This from the BBC website:

    An Australian publisher has had to pulp and reprint a cook-book after one recipe listed “salt and freshly ground black people” instead of black pepper.

    Penguin Group Australia had to reprint 7,000 copies of Pasta Bible last week, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

    The recipe was for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto.

    A must-have for the bookshelves of white supremacists like Al and beige supremacists like myself. I expect parallax is busy having violent spasms of right-on outrage and swearing to boycott something–pasta? sardines? Penguin Australia?

  195. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2010 1:48 PM

    Sorry, MM…I meant to say: never heard of the man until that Grauniad piece.

  196. April 18, 2010 2:41 PM

    twat-faced would be less insulting to orbiting planets.

    When I left Somerset to go North I was surprised to hear that twat was considered a rude word – slightly milder than cunt but in the same not-in-front-of-the-children-if-you-don’t-mind bracket. We said it as kids and were never admonished for it. So Cameron is twat-faced in the Somerset meaning of the word rather than the rest of the country meaning of the word.

    Doesn’t beige supremacists lead us rather neatly back to the topic of this blog-page? Or are they chintz supremacists?

  197. Polly permalink
    April 18, 2010 5:28 PM

    Yeah, Al, that’s a very naughty word up the north of England, but go up to Scotland and I think it’s a term of endearment. Think you’d better avoid it in case you accidentally either offend or show support without realising it.

    That video is excellent fodder for the other parties. What an idiot Cameron is, I think his only selling point might be that he’s a nice idiot… typical Tim-Nice-But-Dim.

  198. April 18, 2010 6:43 PM

    Polly the Northern interpretation perfectly summed up in that John Cooper Clarke poem “Twat”.

  199. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 18, 2010 7:05 PM

    two-faced bare-faced bold-faced brass-faced
    pie-faced po-faced straight-faced straight-laced
    moon-faced twat-faced three-horse-race-faced

  200. April 19, 2010 12:24 PM

    I like that HLM… Where’s the “recommend” button on this thing??

    Someone’s recommended my comment on the PP which I posted to see if it was closed yet, I wonder if I can take this as a commission?

  201. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:22 PM

    Nuking fucking Iceland is a suggestion I will be making to the IoW parliamentary candidates. My daughter is supposed to be flying to the US tomorrow. A vista of non-stop moaning and complaining opens before me, with no apparent end in sight.

  202. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:51 PM

    Oh yes, I’ll also turn in my neighbour, who puts his enormous pile of bin bags (how do 2 people create so much rubbish?) out at 7pm the evening before collection, giving the rats/cats a leisurely 15 hours to examine every tin and packet and spread them all over the pavement.

    For my next post: noisy youths.

  203. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 19, 2010 2:03 PM

    Ta, Polly!

    In other news, my 16-year-old daughter has been attempting to go to Marrakesh since last Friday. She’s had the good sense to hunker down at a friend’s house while I forward her daily revised travel arrangements. I point out that, even if she can take a Tuesday flight, the chances of her returning next Sunday for school on Monday are somewhat reduced and the likelihood of her being stuck in Casablance in transit without money or cards similarly increased. She laughs it off. I’m ready to let her learn the hard way; my wife (still in England) isn’t so sure…

  204. April 19, 2010 2:29 PM

    Bloody volcanoes – incredibly antisocial things! My husband returned home last night infested from spending two days finding his way home from Denmark over land and sea. I’m impressed with the dedication, but he needed a good hose down!

  205. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2010 3:53 PM

    It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca. And the Germans have outlawed miracles.

  206. freep permalink
    April 19, 2010 4:38 PM

    Eyjafjallajoekull.
    In this part of Iceland, we have a very special ways to have attitude to pronunciation. It is a very rural part of the country, and every person has her own way of writing and speaking. But in my family, who have farmed with Lantern goat and make seaweed and lime liniment for three centuries, we speak the letters j as always silent, as are those letters l and u. So, realising that some English speakers have little problem know how to speak of the delinquent volcano, I think I should tell you to say it a little like this:
    Eeeyoufockker.
    So you can say that thing when you want to blame our sacred hill, with the tongues of inner detriment that surge forth into your skies. Thanking you.

  207. April 19, 2010 7:08 PM

    I met a few people in Denmark who really hated their own language because it was so elaborate to pronounce and learn. Most peculiar.

  208. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2010 8:00 PM

    These customer reviews of the Box Canvas Print of PAUL ROSS from MirrorPrintStore at Amazon are hugely entertaining.

  209. hic8ubique permalink
    April 19, 2010 8:10 PM

    While I sympathise very much with your Icelandic saga, MM, I hardly think nuking the country will improve the composition of your beach, or your daughter’s ill-humour.
    Do people not pick up after their dogs on the IoW?!
    Walking after hours on the beach with ones dogs is an illegal pleasure here on a summer evening. This is when the undesirables come out: dog-walkers, surf-casters, skim-boarders, and surfers, all the best people, don’t you know. It’s the pleasantest part of the day when sun-bathing lizards have packed it in, except for the rubbish they leave scattered.

    I’ve never known HLM to be so chatty!

  210. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2010 8:36 PM

    It’s the drugs, hic…

  211. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 19, 2010 8:45 PM

    To be perfectly honest, it’s the lack of them.

    That and I’m sick of talking to Ralph (dogg). I’m so desperate, I shall shortly drive to the Gare du Nord to pick up family members bearing tins of Farrow & Ball and stories of rude fellow travellers. But it’s okay, they’re all off again tomorrow. Then I’ll talk to The Man…

  212. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2010 10:25 PM

    I’m waiting. On Lexington 125.

    I’m not concerned about her ill-humour, Hic, it’s the threat to my sanity which is worrying me.

    Portions of the beaches here are dogg-free, and there is a movement to extend that to all beaches. The pro-dogg lobby is strong, however. It’s not so much the animals as their keepers-I used to spend a lot of time on the beach in the past, when the regs were non-existent, and finding canine donations hidden in the sand by their owners was a regular event. Not a desirable addition to your sandcastle.

    Surfers and fishermen stick to the south of the island. They’re welcome to it.

  213. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2010 10:44 PM

    Mowbray: taking provincialism to new heights (or is it depths?). “Ooo-aarrr, oi doan much take to them Ventnor folk…”

  214. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2010 11:05 PM

    Portly middle-aged persons dancing round naked in ‘Occult’ ceremonies, spouse-swapping, sexual abuse of fish and Rings are just some of the delights the Back of the Wight has to offer. For your religious needs a visit to the Ventnor Spiritualist Church is a must, as is the Smugglers’ Museum (closed Easter Monday to Good Friday).

  215. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2010 11:15 PM

    Jesus…you make Ventnor sound a damn sight more interesting than I remember it.

    BTW, I’m passing along the first 2 episodes of David Simon’s new series ‘Treme’. I haven’t watched them yet but the NYT rates it highly and Bunk from The Wire stars, so…

  216. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 19, 2010 11:20 PM

    And Lester Freamon. Voice of the year, any year…

  217. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2010 11:27 PM

    Oh, is Lester in it as well? Lovely. He was a favourite.

  218. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2010 11:31 PM

    Thanks. I haven’t received the Olyphant as yet. Should I be worried?

  219. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2010 11:36 PM

    No, no…I thought I’d wait until the latest episodes of Breaking Bad, Justified and Southlands came out before burning the lot. I’ll pop the lot in the post on Wed.

  220. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2010 11:43 PM

    K. Just checking, since we have a new postman whose reliability is yet to be assessed. Tall, well-covered, completely and shinily bald, wears shorts (as most of them do now). A touch chummy in manner, which always arouses my suspicions.

  221. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2010 11:47 PM

    Yeah, he sounds like he wants watching. I’d keep some pepper-spray by the door. If he ever gives you a dusty answer, give him a face-full and claim that he had been frothing at the mouth and talking about the glories of the new Caliphate…tough on Muslim postman, tough on the causes of Muslim postmen.

  222. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 20, 2010 12:35 AM

    Looks more like a BNP man to me. Anyway, there are no Muslims on the IoW, apart from the owners of the Ta Mahal (unrepaired damage from a long-ago storm). This is a C of E hegemony, with an escape valve in the shape of the Methodists. There is a Kingdom Hall behind McDonald’s, if you like a Watchtower with your fries.

  223. mishari permalink*
    April 20, 2010 8:32 AM

    Iranian cleric says women behaving promiscuously cause earth to move… – The Grauniad, today

    This is a phenomenon I first noticed in my teens.

  224. April 20, 2010 9:32 AM

    The Ta Mahal eh? When at college there was a local restaurant called the French uck. Amusing no matter which way you looked at it.

    When in London last year I encountered the C unty Hotel in Bloomsbury. Virginia and Lionel would be spinning in their graves at this one so close to their spiritual home.

  225. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 20, 2010 11:34 AM

    There used to be an antiques warehouse in Newport called the Indoor Market, which lost an r at some point without my noticing. One day I heard my kids blathering and accused them of slavish imitation of Estuary English, and where is this bloody Hindu market anyway? It transpired that they were referring to the Indoo Market.

  226. hic8ubique permalink
    April 20, 2010 1:27 PM

    I love the Indoo Market story! I hope you continued to call it that.
    I’m reassured we can count on continued planetary motion.

Comments are closed.