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A Glorious Court

April 20, 2010


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That place that does contain
My books, the best companions, is to me
A glorious court, where hourly I converse
With the old sages and philosophers;
And sometimes, for variety, I confer
With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels;
Calling their victories, if unjustly got,
Unto a strict account, and, in my fancy,
Deface their ill-placed statues.

— Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher
from The Elder Brother (act I, sc. 2) 1625

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I’m fairly sanguine that my children will grow into the kind of adults who, like me, consider that ‘decorating’ a living-space consists mainly in adding bookshelves. They’ve been raised to believe, as their parents were, that books contain nearly all that makes us human. They’ve also, like their parents, come to love books as tactile objects–as pleasing artefacts in and of themselves.

I was reminded of the tactile pleasures of a well-made book yesterday when I bought a new copy of an old favourite (and the work I consider his masterpiece), Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy. It’s the Everyman’s Library Edition and it is, to me, a thing of restrained and elegant beauty.

Since childhood, I’ve enacted the same ritual whenever a book comes into my hands. I inspect the book, back and front; then the fly-leaves, copyright and publication details, printing details and typeface (I’m a bit of a font-geek) and foreword and preface if they exist. Then I riffle the pages, feeling the quality and weight of the paper and I inspect the binding. Lastly and by no means least, I smell the book.

Why? I don’t know. I just know that different books have their own particular smell, never quite the same. I suppose it depends on things like the chemical composition of the ink, paper, binding etc., but whatever it is, the smell almost invariably pleases me. The sense of smell is, of course, plugged directly into the limbic system, our profoundest and oldest (in evolutionary terms) pleasure centre. Only after these rituals have been accomplished am I ready to read a book.

The Everyman’s Waugh is a special delight. Printed (on creamy, substantial-feeling, acid-free paper) and bound (properly bound, not glued) in Germany; tastefully laid-out and set in an old favourite, Baskerville, with a 24-page introduction by Frank Kermode and a 14-page chronology of Waugh’s life and the times he lived in; red-cloth boards and spine with title and author’s name in gilt-on-black. There is even an old-fashioned ribbon bookmark, properly sewn into the binding, a little touch I find utterly charming.

This is a thoughtfully designed and beautifully made book that’s a pleasure to hold and to contemplate. No electronic reader can, in my opinion, ever replace it. I’m no Luddite and I revel in the fact that I can and do carry a vast library of books, music and film on my laptop. The convenience and ease of access and use are a miracle of sorts. But no E-Book will ever replace, for me, the pleasures of a well-made, physical book.

Which brings us to your poetic task, a suitably broad subject, I think: books. Any aspect of books and in any form. Here’s an old favourite to inspire you:
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A Study Of Reading Habits

When getting my nose in a book
Cured most things short of school,
It was worth ruining my eyes
To know I could still keep cool,
And deal out the old right hook
To dirty dogs twice my size.

Later, with inch-thick specs,
Evil was just my lark:
Me and my coat and fangs
Had ripping times in the dark.
The women I clubbed with sex!
I broke them up like meringues.

Don’t read much now: the dude
Who lets the girl down before
The hero arrives, the chap
Who’s yellow and keeps the store
Seem far too familiar. Get stewed:
Books are a load of crap.

–Philip Larkin

162 Comments
  1. April 20, 2010 10:22 PM

    Recently my books
    Have given me some dirty looks;
    Perhaps because they won’t get read
    Until I’ve taken them to bed.

  2. mishari permalink*
    April 20, 2010 10:55 PM

    Only once in bed he’s tucked
    Do obooki’s books get fucked.

    Sorry.

  3. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 20, 2010 11:02 PM

    Kermode! Burn it.

  4. mishari permalink*
    April 20, 2010 11:10 PM

    I haven’t read it (the introduction) yet and Kermode’s just a name to me. Why the distaste?

  5. mishari permalink*
    April 21, 2010 12:01 AM

    From the delightfully astringent Marina Hyde:

    Onwards and upwards, though, as Cameron declared that we Brits have an electoral system “that really works”, not one minute after hammering his “Vote Clegg, get Brown” drum again.

    How anyone with even pretensions to intellectual adequacy can continue to hold both positions is a mystery, but if 7 May finds a third-place-finishing Labour forming a government, one trusts Cameron will continue to sing the system’s praises at every opportunity. —Grauniad, today

  6. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:14 AM

    Proselytiser for poncy French literary theory. Poor Evelyn must be revolving.

  7. mishari permalink*
    April 21, 2010 12:34 AM

    His introduction seems perfectly straight-forward and free of any of that nonsense. By the way, were you aware of a new Furst called The Spies of Warsaw? I found it quite by chance in my local library. According to the IOW’s library website, they have a few copies on order (whatever that actually means)…

  8. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:52 AM

    I think I’ve heard of it. I’m going down the library this week, so I’ll have a look. The online catalogue often seems to bear a limited resemblance to what’s actually on the shelves.

    This amaro stuff gives me the most appalling heartburn. I should stop drinking it. Only an inch to go.

  9. hic8ubique permalink
    April 21, 2010 4:04 AM

    And for a cheerful Good Morning! to mid-week sozzlers, et al. (yes, that’s you EdwT)
    The following is by Ray Bentley.

    Know Your Type

    I like to read
    the NOTE ON THE TYPE
    placed at the end of books
    by snob publishers.

    Only one or two people in the world
    really care about typefaces
    but Alfred Knopf began enlightening us
    with his little endnotes

    about the slants and swoops, bumps and grinds
    of bits of ink, and other publishers followed.
    The type in this book, by the way,
    Coloratura, was designed in Vancouver in 1902

    by Quimby Bash and is characterized
    by the negative capability of the periods,
    soft spiral of commas–
    the dash’s insouciant sweep.

    Bash was influenced by the Florentine master
    Carmine Crostini whose types graced Medici bankbooks.
    Some say Bash was the first to introduce
    decorative dingbats. Others say Bash
    was a dingbat himself who signed
    his personal letters with his inked footprint,
    later called footnotes.

  10. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:27 AM

    Although we’ve not been formally introduced
    My testamentary intentions provide
    For an undertaker to cover me with
    Delightfully astringent Marina Hyde

  11. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:17 AM

    a builder, called upon to make some piles
    of books read, to be read, and read again,
    would treat the texts like varying-sized tiles –
    drawing upon his mastery arcane –

    and use the weighty tomes to form a base
    from which a tower block could rise uncheck’d.
    my low-rise tenements litter the place
    like rubble: too dog-eared to stand erect.

  12. April 21, 2010 1:21 PM

    In certain countries it’s cost me fines
    Licking leather covers and leather spines.
    Stroking smooth paper improves with age
    No matter what the paper’s gauge.
    But rough, smooth, imperfections and blips
    Send shivers through my fingertips.
    The romance of notes from a previous owner
    The literary equivalent of a boner.
    The saying that I violently abhor
    “Stop your reading, you should get out more”.

    But no book gives me such exquisite sensations
    As one with appropriate illustrations.
    At the moment I can tell you that where it’s at
    Is tucked up in bed with the collected Krazy Kat.

  13. pinkroom permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:11 PM

    Dream Library

    As I look down my case, past the Gutenberg Bible,
    near Will’s first Folio, some scripts, Leonarndo’s,
    my eye latches onto some rare text by Poe,
    picked up in Hob’s Junkshop, now vast years ago.

    I thumb through the pages, ’til I find unknown tale,
    “The Cursed Antiquarian” whose quests never fail;
    when searching for books of exceptional worth
    they’re all drawn to his eye, to the sinner’s great mirth,

    and struck down to one half, of the pittance once asked.
    How clever, how sharp is my eye for this task!
    He passes ‘cross silver to pay for each find
    and takes it back home to the shelves of his mind.

    Yes. Every discovery made by this sly roamer
    was made deep inside a skull in a coma.

    “Ha! That Tale’s fine, but I’d slip such a curse…”

    I dream as the drip is changed ’round
    by the nurse.

  14. mishari permalink*
    April 21, 2010 9:01 PM

    In the meantime, Osborne seemed content to travel in Clarke’s slipstream, declaring: “I’m sitting next to someone who speaks with enormous knowledge and experience on these issues.” This had the effect of draping Ken in an invisible “I’m with stupid” T-shirt. —The Grauniad, today

    I love Marina Hyde.

    For a wonderfully savage defacing of Gordo

  15. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2010 11:04 PM

    Ode to Stieg Larsson

    My eyes ache, and a certain numbness reigns
    in the region of my posterior,
    as though I had been jacked with forty grains
    of dental procaine in my pelvic floor.
    It’s not white lady which has hit the spot,
    but a novel of Swedish journalism,
    a three-volume slab of their processed trees
    whose more than adequate plot
    has generated this dualist schism,
    and caused my gluteal muscle to seize.

    Gripping tale! Only now, at 4am,
    suddenly returned to my silent home,
    am I conscious of my unconscious bum,
    and briskly pound it with the weighty tome.
    Naturally I have some objections,
    the style might be described as workmanlike,
    one or two elements do not make sense,
    some cutting could have been done,
    and I would like to see the author strike
    a tittle of the sexual violence.

    Minor quibbles! For the last week or so
    I’ve been living in a parallel world,
    absorbed in the narrative’s fated flow,
    its efficient pace and its sudden swirl,
    and just as much the country pictured there;
    very largely social-democratic,
    tolerant, multicultural, cold and clean.
    As I struggle up the stair
    I’m already a little nostalgic
    for the Sweden I’ve never even seen.

  16. hic8ubique permalink
    April 21, 2010 11:53 PM

    I prescribe a plunge into a frigid lake, followed by a steamy sauna, and Swedish massage paying particular attention to those arrested glutes. Astringency is not, after all, the highest sublimation.

  17. mishari permalink*
    April 21, 2010 11:58 PM

    Sterling work, Hic, HLM, ET, PR & MM. Tomorrow, I shall sit in the sun while my concubines fan me with peacock feathers and I will dictate a poem about books to my scribe. One of my flunkies will then engrave it here on the interwebs.

  18. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 22, 2010 12:01 AM

    Thanks, doc. I think I’ll stick with the heroin and chips.

  19. April 22, 2010 10:06 AM

    What exquisite bliss
    That an item as modest as this
    Should contain the tools
    To change unthinking fools.

    It didn’t happen for me
    In the grand ruins of Thermopolae
    And, if I may be so bold,
    The Mona Lisa just left me cold.

    Shakespeare’s plays in the round
    Failed to stir an appreciative sound.
    The Ring Cycle not worth a second look
    The revelations I find are in a book.

    This verse may sound beyond the limit
    You don’t believe the sentiments for a minute.
    So you’re either credulous or full of ire
    But fiction is the work of a liar.

  20. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 22, 2010 8:52 PM

    Secondhand

    In the bookseller’s and browsing around
    I’m impressed by the Victorian stuff,
    most volumes uncut and beautifully bound,
    quite likely untouched, not a stain or scuff.

    While I’m admiring a lovely binding
    I recall Mayhew’s words about the Pure,
    and the poor sods whose job was collecting
    the dogshit used in the calf-leather cure.

    I put that one down pretty bloody quick,
    but to tell the truth that rank smell of hide
    always made me feel very slightly sick
    before I knew the turds had been applied.

    Now this one here is near-exemplary,
    rich, glistening light brown full-calf leather:
    Poetical Works Of Prince Mishari.
    This is a book to judge by its cover.

  21. mishari permalink*
    April 22, 2010 9:06 PM

    Is there no end to your impudence, dog? Aren’t you listening to the ‘debate’? (I say ‘listening’ because I can’t bear to look at the fuckers so I’m catching it on Radio 4).

  22. April 22, 2010 10:41 PM

    What’s the PH line on debate no. 2 ?

    I missed it. Everyone on CiF seems to have gone LibDem. Mind you after the headlines in the papers today I’m not surprised. Did you hear about Murdoch’s son and Rebekah Wade visiting the Independent’s editor and trying to rough him up over an anti-Murdoch press headline? Extraordinary.

    Labour seem to have given up the ghost and the Tories don’t know what to do … about anything.

  23. mishari permalink*
    April 22, 2010 10:59 PM

    That Murdoch/Independent story was bizarre. Clegg aced the first debate and I think he took the second one by a head. Brown was improved but still desperately unappealing. I popped into the sitting-room occasionally (where Inez had it on) and I noted that no-one’s told Brown to lose the frozen rictus/smile. Ghastly, truly ghastly.

    Cameron was absolutely fucking awful. I wouldn’t send him to collect my dry-cleaning, never mind run the country. With any luck, the last debate will put the final nail in the Tory coffin.

  24. April 22, 2010 11:07 PM

    Do people really think the Lib Dems might actually win? – I don’t follow politics enough and have no idea what is going on; I only saw the headline in The Evening Standard was an attempt to smear Clegg about something, so I imagine he’s becoming a threat.

    On the other hand, the Lib Dems were 12-1 last week, and now they’re 16-1. The Bookies can’t be wrong, can they?

  25. mishari permalink*
    April 22, 2010 11:20 PM

    I think the bookies are well out, obookie. A value bet, in my opinion, though a long shot. I’d like to see them win and at that price, I think I’ll have a £100 on it but more likely is a hung parliament.

    Mind you, from my own unscientific eavesdropping, casual conversations etc. I don’t think the commentators or the bookies realise just how fucking fed up people are with the old Labour/Tory Push-Me-Pull-You bollocks and how very much they want to deliver a good slap to both. This promises to be interesting.

  26. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 22, 2010 11:29 PM

    10p for me-I can’t believe they’ve got a chance. Cameron must have disappointed his party with his performance so far. I thought he would run rings round GB, but it’s not happening. Maybe the size of the target he’s got to aim at is putting him off.

  27. April 22, 2010 11:34 PM

    Actually, there were 2 reasons I didn’t have a bet last week.

    1. In my years of gambling, I’ve learned that it’s always quite sensible to know something about the matter you’re gambling on.

    2. I didn’t understand the terms being offered. It says “To Win Outright”, but what does that mean? – They are only 3 options: there is no “Hung Parliament” option. It isn’t overall majority – there are separate odds for that. – So I’m guessing it’s actually highest number of seats.

    Now that I hear a BNP spokesman saying we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan, I shan’t be voting for them. What kind of nationalist party doesn’t want to invade other countries?

  28. mishari permalink*
    April 22, 2010 11:37 PM

    I think the concerted trashing of Clegg by the right-wing rags says a lot, MM. They clearly think the Lib Dems are poised to do some serious damage. How serious remains to be seen but I think we’re all still thinking of the Lib Dems as that party of sandal-wearing lentil-fondlers who’ve never had a hope. But I think the electoral landscape has really shifted.

    People have taken a look at Clegg and he doesn’t frighten them or freak them out. He’s not the smarmy, patently insincere ex-PR creep that Cameron is, nor the weirdo/psychopath that Brown is. They like Vince Cable and by God, the last few years–illegal wars, torture, endless erosion of our civil liberties, Afghanistan never-ending, the crash of the banks–have left people hungry for a change.

    The Lib Dems might surprise you.

  29. mishari permalink*
    April 22, 2010 11:40 PM

    Not sure if they mean ‘highest number of seats’ or ‘asked to form the next government’ which is ‘winning’, I guess, but not the same thing. I’ll have a look at betfair in a minute and see what’s what.

  30. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 22, 2010 11:41 PM

    I think the BNP would prefer to invade Poland.

  31. mishari permalink*
    April 22, 2010 11:44 PM

    I wish they would. The Poles would kick the living shit out of Fatty Griffin and his mouth-breathers.

  32. freep permalink
    April 22, 2010 11:54 PM

    That’s right, guv. Free Poland. Vote Goatsucker / BNP

  33. April 22, 2010 11:56 PM

    It was 27/1 for Lib Dem most seats on Betfair. I bet £10. Now I’m going to find some other fools to bet against on other sports.

  34. mishari permalink*
    April 23, 2010 12:04 AM

    Reminding me, freep, irresistibly of Dick Shawn as Hitler in Mel Brooks’ The Producers:

    Hitler: Oh, man…why can’t people dig where I’m at? All I want is peace! Peace! Peace! (sings)

    A little piece of Poland, a little piece of France
    A little piece of Czechoslovakia perchance…etc.

    I’ve been reading a rather wonderful book called The Waning Of The Middle Ages (1919) by a Dutch historian, Johan Huizinga and came across this:

    The contrast between silence and sound, darkness and light, like that between summer and winter, was more strongly marked than it is in our lives. The modern town hardly knows silence and darkness in their purity, nor the effect of a solitary light or a single distant cry.

  35. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 23, 2010 12:07 AM

    Kiss goodbye to your tenner. I’d give better odds on Griffin becoming gauleiter of Warsaw.

  36. mishari permalink*
    April 23, 2010 12:09 AM

    MM’s what the Blessed St. Tony of Basra used to call ‘a wrecker’. Pay no heed. When the Lib Dems take over, we’ll sort out Mowbray…or should I say, Enemy of The People Mowbray, Prisoner No. 1998768967?

  37. freep permalink
    April 23, 2010 12:38 AM

    Historical Note from the Cretaceous Period.

    I was delivering election leaflets for the Labour party in a hopeless South London constituency in the late 50s and early 1960s. My mum told me to. The Labour candidate was a lawyer with a social conscience and a double-barrelled name – John Lloyd-Eley QC (and a big aesthetically pleasing house and a wife who did good works and had many offspring and was a breast feeding counsellor)- and he was a wanker. Which I only realised gradually because I was were just a kid. So it took me from the ages of 14 to 19 to realise that only Nietzsche had the real answer, that Nietzsche didn’t approve of Hugh Gaitskell, and neither Bakunin nor Kropotkin were sensible candidates to put up in Beckenham. The Tory Philip Goodhart won as usual with a 24,000 majority

    However, for pragmatic reasons I carried on supporting Socialism because there were two sisters in the Young Socialists who had delectable and well-shapen breasts. Lee and Jay Brunt, they were called, and if only I could meet them now and tell them what they meant to me with their impenetrable roundednesses.
    From my point of view there’s nothing wrong with the Labour party historically that an enema, a vasectomy and a pledge against #@*$£X# wouldn’t cure ………….. but the Lib Dem party looks much more like the kind of thing I could commit to if I were 19 again – not because they represent any purity of intent or philosophy, but because I know a thing from attendance at certain obscure events:
    Lib Dems Bake the Best Cakes.
    There is nothing more to be said. A Party is a corporate entity which has some coherence derived from shared views about either sex or cake.
    Whether Clegg comprehends this is uncertain. He seems slightly too high-minded. Let him eat cake.

  38. mishari permalink*
    April 23, 2010 12:48 AM

    Lib Dems Bake the Best Cakes. Now there’s a winning slogan. Return to your kitchens and prepare for government.

    I’m persuaded that a party that bakes good cakes would never have invaded Iraq nor would they propose to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow. Nor would they have banned smoking in pubs, (for fuck’s sake)…

    As I walked out one cake-baking morning
    To view the fields and voters so fair…

  39. freep permalink
    April 23, 2010 1:35 AM

    You are right about smoaking, mish. The party that comes out straight and says Health is a Red Herring, we are going to die fairly soon, and there are too many people in the world, so eat cake and die, smoke and have fun, gets my vote.
    The third Great Debate depends upon the candidates having courage to say let us die quickly, chaps, and if you vote for me I will give you 20 Capstan Full Strength for life, which will be pleasantly short. And if volcanoes come and spread magma all over you, it is not my fault. But if you eat greens and hope to live long, you are bad.
    These are the great issues of our time: Cake versus greens.

  40. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 23, 2010 6:11 AM

    i posted bill
    and gave a damn
    in forest hill
    and beckenham

    ’twas not my fate
    to bore the brunts
    and now i hate
    the tory bakers (This doesn’t rhymeEd.)

  41. April 23, 2010 10:34 AM

    I suppose it’s kind of logical for the BNP who don’t want “our” people to mix with “them” to be against invading foreign countries.

    Apparently the BNP used the Marmite logo in their on-line party political broadcast. As if being endorsed by a love-it-hate-it comestible adds weight to the nonsense they are spouting. Understandably Marmite are unhappy about this.

  42. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 23, 2010 11:50 AM

    Hitler was very fond of marmite. Or was it thermite?

  43. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 23, 2010 3:06 PM

    I must say I have some sympathy
    for freep and his story of Jay and Lee,
    the feigning of political interests
    in pursuit of a fine quartet of breasts.

    Now, I know this may be hard to forgive,
    but I once fell for a Young Conservative.
    Standing in line at the polling station
    I had a sense of personal dilation

    glimpsing the chest of Geraldine Draper,
    and almost spoiled my ballot paper.
    I managed to ignore her blue rosette
    and somehow kept my features straight and set

    while she ranted about immigration,
    taxes, Europe, the state of the nation,
    and immigration, but it seemed that fate
    was out to dump me as a candidate,

    which was a great pity, since my desire
    to be her member was like a three-bar fire,
    and if I’d managed to get selection
    I would have hoped for daily elections.

    But I’m sad (but also glad) to report
    this political romance was very short
    and there was no happy end to the story:
    I just couldn’t pretend to be a Tory.

  44. freep permalink
    April 23, 2010 4:25 PM

    ‘Twill not be too long till the General Erection,
    When the Rapture determines the final Selection
    Of who’s to be turfed out and who’s to be chosen,
    Of who can be warmed up and who must be frozen;
    Whose member is grasped in a fine firm embrace,
    And who’ll be denied at the end of the race.

    My hunch is that liberal spoutings of sperm
    Will spring from the members whose vote is most firm,
    But that flaccid the end for those in hard labour,
    And those who have failed to pick up the stout caber,
    Which signals the limpness of nationalists’ hold,
    Of Scots Welsh and Manxmen and Vectians bold.

    (As to those who are followers of laddies from Eton,
    They never can spurt till their bottoms are beaten.)
    So vote as you know that you can and you must,
    To follow the whims and the dictates of lust.
    When the climax is near, put your X in the box
    By the name of the candidate wearing her frock
    With abandon and languor and bosoms so high
    That you feel your old manhood stretch up to the sky.

  45. Pollyanna permalink
    April 23, 2010 4:36 PM

    I’m no doubt interrupting something far more high brow with this, but when something’s funny it just needs sharing…

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001AUDUPG/b3ta-21

    Read the comments. I love this comment:

    “my wife would go damp on being presented with purse-size shot of Pol Pot”

  46. freep permalink
    April 23, 2010 4:40 PM

    PS. This is the most shockingly male election in thirty years. I hate suits and ties.
    And no candidate has offered a sensible solution to the problems of crime, over-extended troops, and the costs of an ageing population, when it is staring them in the face. Buy up all the Afghan-sourced heroin at a decent price (Fairtrade gear could be a suitable slogan) and offer large consignments gratis to all matrons of care homes and drugs clinics. Solves illegal trafficking, reduces social services and NHS bills by 20% at a stroke. It gets good stuff to addicts without the need for nasty bottles of methadone, who then don’t need to go nicking laptops. And it buys off the poppy growers. Brings a logical end to the Shipman project. The only losers would be the proprietors of care homes.

  47. April 23, 2010 5:21 PM

    We once performed in front of Harold Shipman’s surgery in Hyde whilst he was still practising there. In retrospect I wondered why so many went in and so few came out. But I put my inability to twig what was going on down to my lack of a maths O or A level.

    • Pollyanna permalink
      April 24, 2010 5:54 PM

      Oh HA – I’ve just realised that I came over to post that link to the Hitler picture because it was funny and needed sharing, thinking I’d likely be interrupting something else, seeing as I didn’t have time to catch up with the conversation… and lo and behold, Hitler was mentioned three comments above me. I really should pay attention!!

      There was some mathematical formula some scientific spod came up with as evidence of the fact that in every conversation the likelihood that it would get round to Hitler grew at a certain rate until it became a certainty. YOu could probably say that about anything though…

      Ed/Al, Shipman is still a hot pub topic in Todmorden, as he practised here before he went to Hyde I think, hasn’t stopped his potted beef being a big seller in Morrisons though – must be that fascination factor.

  48. mishari permalink*
    April 23, 2010 6:32 PM

    That and your lack of a suitable medical prop: stethoscope, thermometer, wooden thingy, glass thingy, bedside manner, degree from the Mowbray School of Medicine and Muffler Repair…

    Basically, you’re a lightweight, Ed…

  49. Captain Ned permalink
    April 23, 2010 10:13 PM

    A quick word to those of you based in or around London: if you haven’t seen it already, you really ought to make every effort to see the Arshile Gorky exhibition at the Tate Modern before it closes a week on Monday. A marvellous artist.

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 23, 2010 11:23 PM

    Got the DVDs today, thanks. I went to the library and secured a copy of The Spies of Warsaw, which is looking good. Thanks for the tip.

    Credit to freep for his solution to the country’s problems, but the street tree issue has escaped his notice. And he’s not alone-watching a rerun of the debate not one of the potential PMs gave it a mention. That is pretty poor. Thanks to my careful attention the tree outside my house looks like it will survive now, though it is a bit skew-whiff thanks to the lazy sods who reset it after several complaints (from me) that its stake was rotten. Its shortage of lower limbs was a puzzle until I noticed students from the local high school jumping up and tearing them off on their way home. The lowest ones are now too high for the squat inbred little bastards to reach. Mother Nature always finds a solution.

  51. April 24, 2010 9:41 AM

    Captain Ned. Being of a certain age I saw the last Gorky show in London at the Serpentine in the mid 70’s. Sadly I missed this one. I heartily concur – a marvellous artist. Those London-based PH-ers are well advised by the Captain.

    MM Last time I lived on a street which was blessed with rows of trees we came back one day to find that they were all being severely pollarded. Apparently one person in the street was fed up with having sap drip onto his brand new car so wrote a petition, faked up our signatures on it and presented it to the council dept. in charge of these things. We managed to save about 3 trees but the pollarders were only too happy not to have to do it.

  52. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 24, 2010 7:00 PM

    I’m sorry to hear that non-Londoners are excluded from the Gorky exhibition. It’s true that we are unsophisticated and find Art difficult to comprehend, but surely having more opportunities to view it is the way to improve appreciation and understanding. Unfortunately I have to hoe the mangels and castrate the bullocks this week. Otherwise I would be on the first postchaise to the capital.

    Going on old photos (Vic/Edw) this street used to be lined with large chestnut trees, ET. They are inclined to split and lose branches (I hear) so they were probably removed post-war. A mixture of cherry and hawthorn replaces them, most looking a bit sickly. The hawthorn outside our house died a few years ago, so we harassed the council into planting something new (otherwise they just tarmac the spot over), which turned out to be a whitebeam, the most boring of municipal trees. No matter how aesthetically unpleasing the thing is I’m determined to keep it alive just to spite Mr Paul Arsehole of the Highways Dept (Roads And Pavements). God, I’m so petty bourgeois it’s not true.

    That’s Shippams, isn’t it, Poll?

    • mishari permalink*
      April 24, 2010 7:14 PM

      No, Shippams is made from beef and such-like; Shipmans is made from human flesh.

    • Pollyanna permalink
      April 24, 2010 7:32 PM

      Hm. That explains a few things…

  53. mishari permalink*
    April 24, 2010 7:15 PM

    Watch/Listen to Clueless Cameron and William Shatner woo Common People. Eye-watering stuff…

  54. mishari permalink*
    April 24, 2010 11:12 PM

    Great Sporting Excuses of Our Time

    When Zambian tennis player Lighton Ndefwayl lost to his compatriot Musumba Bwayla in a local tournament, he had a considered and lengthy excuse for his defeat: “Bwayla is a stupid man and a hopeless player. He has a huge nose and is cross-eyed. Girls hate him. He beat me because my jockstrap was too tight and because when he serves he farts, and that made me lose my concentration, for which I am famous throughout Zambia.” — The Indy, today

  55. DanMaskell permalink
    April 25, 2010 7:49 AM

    Peach of an excuse. Glad to see we’re back on topic.

  56. April 25, 2010 11:55 AM

    The Cameron poster with Fuck Off back to Eton painted on it was pretty good to.

  57. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 25, 2010 12:23 PM

    Would ‘Fuck off back to Haileybury’ on an Attlee poster have the same impact?

  58. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 25, 2010 12:48 PM

    I’ve never seen the difference
    between Shippam’s and Shipman’s paste,
    similar in terms of expense,
    and near-identical in taste.

    If I remember correctly
    one had fragments of hair and nail:
    hair wasn’t a problem for me
    if the provenance wasn’t male:

    I’ve consumed plenty of female hair
    (a gentlemen always swallows)
    but I’m much less inclined to share
    the produce of a fellow’s toes.

    Call me picky, but my gut quails
    at eating something that homegrown
    if I’ve got to chew some nails
    then I would rather chew my own.

  59. April 25, 2010 12:52 PM

    As Attlee isn’t running for office and is dead it might confuse the public.

  60. April 25, 2010 4:55 PM

    People are obsessed with their tasty treats
    They never notice the origins of their meats
    At Shipman’s we’ve found it’s a better spread
    When the recipe contains pensioner’s head.
    This verse may be offensive to polite good taste
    Just try a sandwich with our special meat paste
    No need for mustard or such condiments
    Just ignore the list of our ingredients.

  61. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 25, 2010 7:38 PM

    For potted meat (before paté)
    a slate grey shot with brown
    or brown suffused with slate grey
    I never knew which way round

    We’d go to’t shop on Chiselhurst
    corner of St Anne’s Road
    I rather think their bubble burst
    when rationing was outlawed

    The first mouthful would trigger off
    a churning in the gut
    it wasn’t done to retch or cough
    or slip it to the mutt

    but, spread as thin as Marmite, not
    an ounce would go to waste
    it like as not came from the pot
    that held their salmon paste

  62. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 25, 2010 8:20 PM

    You might consider it in bad taste
    that I turned those pensioners into paste,
    but I thought those who’d used the National Health
    should make a contribution to the national wealth.

    Burned, the wrinkled baggy old carcass
    produces quantities of greenhouse gas,
    if buried in a dedicated place
    the sadsack just takes up valuable space.

    It’s the best approach to managing death,
    call me hard but you’re wasting your breath,
    now, you mark my words, it won’t be long
    before the Tories are singing my song.

  63. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:32 PM

    Christ, everything’s changed again and gone tiny.

    So, did Ms Moon get to school on Monday? I see there are still Britons trapped in airports all over the world. Only four days to go and my fingers are crossed that no more natural disasters are going to take place. In God we trust.

  64. mishari permalink*
    April 26, 2010 4:20 PM

    Yeah, sorry about that but a nagging flaw with the last theme was that if I needed to edit a comment, I had to go through hell’s own amount of steps: click on ‘dashboard’, click on ‘comments’, find comment, click on ‘edit’, edit, save, return to page. Fuck that.

    This has an ‘edit’ option on every post and every comment. If it’s too tiny for your ancient and drug-addled eyes, you can always enlarge the font using your browser ‘options’.

    If more Britons were trapped in airports (or prisons) in far-flung corners of the world, this would be a better country…4 more days till what, MM? Is this about getting rid of your daughter (obviously, I use the word ‘rid’ in a completely neutral and non-judgmental way)?

  65. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:02 PM

    Ms Moon is currently upstairs, cobbling together an essay on the injustice of Paris Dustbinmen Inc. recruiting 15% of Baccalauréat holders and not giving people uniquely suited to manual work a fair crack of the whip, hollering down for inspiration and annoying the neighbours. After five days waiting for a flight, she buggered off to Normandy with the rest of the family. I’m beginning to wish she was in Casablanca…

  66. pinkpaste permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:22 PM

    For me the smell of Shippams is very much that of summer childhood. I seem to be unwittingly raised on the stuff… bread, butter… smear of paste. Orange squash, rich tea biscuit…kiddies sorted. The only thing fresh as such, was a bottle of milk kept in a bowl of water.

    Until the early noughties they made it… somewhat surprisingly, in the middle of uber-twee Chichester, very, very close to where Keats wrote St. Agnes Eve. Mashing the two together therefore…

    Ode to Shippams

    The clock remains,
    wishbone displayed,
    where once the paste
    that Shippham’s made

    its meat from bone
    was cut by blade
    and rendered down
    to paste to trade

    in little pots of glass
    and sealed
    with a little lid of tin
    you peeled

    to free a little
    meaty pong
    then back to larder,
    shelf-life strong

    not quite the stuff of
    myth or fable
    but a pre-fridge staple
    of
    the post-war table.

  67. pinkpaste permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:27 PM

    How did that apostrophe appear at the start of verse 2??? (FixedQuickFit Ed.)

    Must be still exhausted by my extra five day, five star “holiday hell” in the Algarve.

  68. April 26, 2010 8:27 PM

    Shippams may make you put on your nostalgic head
    But it’s nothing compared to Heinz Sandwich spread.
    Which looks like something passed
    By someone not very well
    The snack accompaniment
    To Dante’s vision of hell.
    My parents tried to make us eat it without a fuss
    Pickled unidentifiable veg marinaded in pus.
    The very thought makes me go pallid
    So let’s forget Heinz tinned potato salad.

  69. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 26, 2010 8:42 PM

    I’m glad to hear that schoolwork has been resumed, HLM. As Ferry tells us, education is an important key. Yes, four days until she departs for the US, barring plagues of locusts, asteroid strikes or the reappearance of Atlantis. which I expect hourly.
    Commiserations, PR. Several of Mrs M’s colleagues have returned to school cursing that extra week’s holiday.

  70. pinkroom permalink
    April 26, 2010 8:59 PM

    Affectionately known as “dog sick”?

    That stuff was unspeakably vile, on every level… a sort of slopped on, anaemic/sour/spiceless picallili.
    The joy of Shippams was that it was only served in smears, its strong taste a delicate seasoning upon the otherwise vast, tasteless void of wonderloaf.

    In a pickle

    Grandfather forbidden
    vinegar base’d condiment.
    To this day I still wonder,
    what on earth
    this proscription meant.

  71. mishari permalink*
    April 26, 2010 9:16 PM

    OK…I think that’s better. Do for a while, anyway….

  72. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 26, 2010 10:07 PM

    Greetings Misharites,

    I’ve been off-planet for a bit so I’ve lost track of what you’ve all been doing. I’ll probably be missing again until the end of May, but I’ll pop my head in from time to time. No time to write anything on the subject of books, but perhaps the following might suffice (a thing done some months ago in response to some Grauniad thread or other)…

    Jack Brae

  73. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 26, 2010 10:09 PM

    Janet and John on the Moon
    (An Unexpurgated Adventure)

    Here is Janet. Here is John. John opens
    a butterfly’s wings. See the yellow dust.
    Janet steps through the butterfly’s heart, sings:
    “a house of guts, a house of blood and rust.”
    John laughs and follows. But the door chuffs shut.
    Hear it shut. Can you hear it? “Where are we?”
    says John. “This looks like the moon,” says Janet.
    John turns blue. Janet says: “just copy me.”
    Look at John turning blue. John is stone dead.
    “John, chew your nails to the quick,” Janet wails.
    John turns to dust. “Dust makes the moon’s white head,
    but to make oxygen just chew your nails.”
    Look at the moon. It’s made of dust and death;
    and that’s where John breathed his very last breath.

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  74. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 26, 2010 11:23 PM

    Ah, I can read this with my 1.5s. My eyesight’s been a bit hazy since Saturday, when I dug out an old euphorbia plant. I’m sure some of the sap went into my eyes. You should wear goggles and gloves when handling them, so of course I wasn’t. I suppose the flesh on my hands will regrow.

    I like that one, Jack.

  75. pinkroom permalink
    April 27, 2010 12:30 AM

    Great work Jack.
    Here’s one from another reading scheme…

    Peter and Jane Get Stuck in Faro

    Here is Peter, here is Jane. Peter sighs,
    “How much longer must we wait here Mummy?
    Jane falls across suitcase, she rub her eyes,
    “My legs hurt, there’s a pain in my tummy.”
    Peter spells out that their plane is, “D.e.l.a.y.e.d.”
    Is that better than cancelled?” Up he chirps.
    “That was the last big word displayed.”
    His sister turns shades of green and burps.
    The airport is empty, just one queue left.
    They wait and they hope . Jane sucks on a mint.
    Peter plays his ipod, glum and bereft.
    No treats for a while, his parents are skint.
    “Says cancelled now.” The final deflater.
    Mum and Dad grin,
    “How we’ll all laugh later!”

  76. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 27, 2010 10:51 PM

    Ex Libris

    Gathering dust on the mental bookcase
    are my tomes from the library of love
    the grander passions have an honoured place,
    the casual stuff is jumbled up above.

    It’s hardly an extensive collection,
    and some of the volumes are pretty lean,
    but I’m fairly pleased with my selection
    though I would have preferred more sexual scenes.

    Now, this one I’ve had out for thirty years,
    always interesting, a lovely cover-
    it still has the original design-
    there are laughs, some serious stuff, a few tears:
    I wouldn’t want to change it for another
    despite the penalties and range of fines.

  77. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 27, 2010 11:09 PM

    Is this the most boring election ever? Granted this is the backest of backwaters, but no-one I know has even mentioned it. Apart from the farmers (urban types may be unaware that they festoon their fences with (literally) miles of Tory billboards) the only posters on houses I’ve seen (3) have been for the Labour candidate, who stands no chance.

  78. mishari permalink*
    April 28, 2010 1:25 AM

    Perhaps in that bucolic, hay-seed Hell that men call The Isle of Wight. Up here in civilisation, it’s pretty exciting (or as exciting as a bunch of slimy career-scumbags in terror of losing their jobs can ever be). Very amusing piece by Matthew Norman in the Indy HERE.

    If he (Ed Balls) wished to demonstrate why his leadership would kill Labour as an electoral force for 15 years, if not for ever, there he unquestionably succeeded.

    Cocky, fake, slimy, inelegant, ineloquent, charmless, witless, weird, sinister, glacially cold and luminescently remote, he may be the most chillingly repulsive politician of even this golden generation.

    And here’s a surprisingly forthright stained-glass window…

  79. April 28, 2010 9:29 AM

    The election is not so much boring as pointless only this time more people are feeling the pointlessness of it than usual. The latest pronouncement about what will have to be cut and by how much by some fiscal thinktank emphasises that.

    Apparently Cameron was campaigning not 5 minutes from our workshop yesterday. We were busy testing out LED lighting for a show when we could have been pelting him with Bury’s world-famous black puddings or ( not to waste a good black pudding ) eggs. Story of my life.

  80. mishari permalink*
    April 28, 2010 9:34 AM

    I’m all for throwing things at Cameron, although I was thinking more along the lines of fragmentation grenades, lump-hammers and bricks. I wouldn’t want him to think we were ambivalent or anything…

  81. April 28, 2010 10:34 AM

    Unfortunately the stall on Bury Market that sells cluster bombs and manure soaked barbed wire missiles is closed on a Tuesday so the choice would have been loaded towards foodstuffs.

    Having participated in the Ramsbottom Black Pudding throwing World Championship last year I can tell you they pack quite a punch if they hit the right target.

  82. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 28, 2010 10:57 AM

    Well, of course everything is more exciting in Swinging London. I quite like the Taylor theorem; everyone expecting the axe to fall, and not much caring who wields it. Those non-stop references to the 1976 IMF ‘crisis’ are bloody annoying. Denis Healey has made it clear many times that the whole thing was unnecessary, sparked by some inaccurate analyses prepared by the geniuses at the Treasury. I’m inclined to put the Institute for Fiscal Bollocks report in the same dustbin. In the world of economics, it seems to me, even more so than in the world of Hollywood, nobody knows anything.

  83. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 28, 2010 11:01 AM

    Oh yes, I had some black pudding from the Bury Black Pudding Company last week. I suggested boiling it ET style, but Mrs M wouldn’t countenance it. It was very good, anyway.

  84. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 28, 2010 11:15 AM

    I remember ET in the kitchen with the potato salad and the beer… Maybe boiling the black pudding was in the Director’s Cut.

  85. mishari permalink*
    April 28, 2010 11:17 AM

    I must say, I’m with Madam MM there. Boiling black puddings just doesn’t sound right…sorry, Ed.

    You’ll note that the latest ‘crisis’ to engulf (or near-engulf) us is the collapse of the Greek economy. However…Greek bonds have been downgraded to ‘junk’ by? Ta-da: Standard & Poor, the very same blockheads who rated (and rated highly) all the toxic crap that brought down so many banks.

    Also worth noting is that the US (and S&P is a US company) have every reason to want to see the Euro flop, especially since Iran has started demanding oil payments in Euros and others might follow. Until now, the US has been in the unique position of being immune from having its govt. paper downgraded because the dollar is the world’s reserve currency. The Euro is a threat to that. And so….

    Meanwhile…

    The question was not whether Labour would lose the election on May 6, but how thoroughly…none of this seemed to penetrate the eerily positive parallel universe that is Brown-world.

    There was some issue over photographs. A photographer had been instructed by Mr. Brown’s aides not to photograph him next to the “Emergency Exit” sign…

    The New York Times, yesterday

    And…

    He (Cameron) posed for photographs on mobile phones for schoolchildren, bought a black pudding for £1.67 and pressed the flesh with shoppers. He also kissed the first baby of the campaign, Sienna Rose Quinn, aged four months. She was wearing a knitted cardigan with a hood. “Hug a hoody,” said Mr Cameron…

    The Indy, today

  86. April 28, 2010 12:26 PM

    Frying them just adds more grease. Delicious but as they are jam-packed with fat already I find the boiling option works just as well.

  87. April 28, 2010 12:42 PM

    Heston Blumenthal fried leeches that had gorged on goose blood last night for one of his Huysman’esque meals. I’ve got a cast-iron stomach but there’s something about leeches that causes even me to feel a bit queasy.

    I didn’t catch all of the programme but it’s a shame the wit and imagination he has aren’t reflected in the dullards that get to eat one of his meals. I ate an ice cream he made for the Manchester Festival a few year’s ago. Vanilla ice cream, essence of leather, strawberry coulis, tapenade and space-dust ( that 70’s stuff that popped in your mouth ). It sounds absolutely vile ( especially now writing the ingredients out ) but in fact was fantastic. Horribly expensive though – 3 of us clubbed together to buy one cone. You won’t be seeing it at your local seaside emporium.

  88. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 28, 2010 12:53 PM

    Cooking black puddings the standard way: take a skillet, put it on the heat for a while, toss in the black pudding slices… The fat escapes from the shell and cooks the BP thoroughly, resulting in a loss of total fat content. I’d ask Mish for his recipe, but I doubt it’s popular in Q8.

  89. mishari permalink*
    April 28, 2010 12:56 PM

    I’ve always enjoyed Blumenthal’s science-geek-meets-Escoffier shtick. I must make the trip to his restaurant one of these days. Where is it? Bray, somewhere like that?

    Having said that, leeches engorged on goose-blood are out–I mean, right out…(I tried the idea on Inez. She looked intrigued. The French, eh? They’re almost as bad as the Chinese)

    No, HLM, blood-products aren’t eaten in Arabia. I think that blood is actually a proscribed food (It isEd.), like pork or the meat of an animal that’s died a natural death. I believe the Jews have the same proscription. The Catalans have a wonderful array of black puddings, varying from town to town and I cook them the way you outlined.

    BTW, Ed, were the leeches attached to living geese? I have a vague notion that leeches don’t feed on dead animals, though I could be wrong…

  90. April 28, 2010 2:46 PM

    They were given a skin filled with blood. In the interests of not making the viewers faint I imagine. It was from a Romanian recipe so the French are blameless….. for once.

  91. mishari permalink*
    April 28, 2010 3:10 PM

    I daresay you’ve seen this story, Ed. I bring it up because I remember you mentioning Tintin In The Congo a while back. What really caught my eye in the story (most of which I think is pretty well-trodden ground) was this:

    Hergé redrew the book for a colour edition in the 1940s and made many changes, including excising a scene where Tintin killed an elephant by blowing it up with dynamite.

    He did fucking what? Jesus…that is just so wrong in so many ways. The Belgian twerp.

  92. hiQ8ubique permalink
    April 28, 2010 3:25 PM

    {Tvi!}
    I had been feeling some chagrin at my unwittingly partisan flag-waving due to enjoyment of lentil soup, and to my extremely pleasing array of sandals. Yes, that’s all the ‘essence of leather’ for me, thank-you-v-m. My cakes are in high demand, freep, and I’m not sorry for any of it. I also enjoy vegetables. Leeches?! {Huv-va-va-va} This thread has plummeted from it’s early promise of exquisite olfaction. Revolting, vagal even.
    Furthermore, I wish to protest that the formerly impressive Mishari has wasted away to a fraction of his former self. He clearly wants building up with savoury soups and enticing cakes.

  93. hiQ8ubique permalink
    April 28, 2010 3:29 PM

    not Tintin?! That’s even worse than the nameless but forever damned hunter who shot Babar’s mother.

  94. mishari permalink*
    April 28, 2010 3:42 PM

    Although it’s true that my avatar is a shadow of its former self, I need no encouragement in eating lentils, a legume that I’m very partial to. Hard to think of any legumes I’m not partial to…lima beans are a bit blah but aside from them, I eat beans a lot.

    In stews and soups, in salads, mashed fava beans and chickpeas fashioned into patties and fried (falafel), mashed chickpeas with tahini (houmous), black beans stewed with a smoked ham joint, beans on toast . And I eat vegetables every day (proper veg, not chips–broccoli, spinach, cabbage, runner beans, etc.

    Cake is nice now and then but I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I’ll always choose the savoury over the sweet.

    Sandals are good , too, unless you wear them with socks, like Mowbray. Socks with sandals is an unforgivable faux pas unless you’re the Dalai Llama which Mowbray is most emphatically not.

  95. hiQ8ubique permalink
    April 28, 2010 4:27 PM

    I’m reassured that harmony reigns among (or at least between) us.
    gustatory, sartorial, thence political…
    The socks with sandals idea brings to mind the ‘Englishman Abroad ‘ image
    of Bermuda shorts, black socks, bald sunburnt pate, my late uncle Paul. Poor MM.
    Somehow I can’t envision the DL’s feet just now.
    I’m having a lovely omelette with gouda and arugula, coriander and avocado.
    Feeling much better.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 28, 2010 11:45 PM

      I’m having some Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and a glass of French BrandyTM. I’ll see how I feel in the morning.

  96. April 28, 2010 5:07 PM

    As a white supremacist obviously I have a copy of Tintin in the Congo. No elephant being blown up but the boy reporter does drill a hole in a rhino’s hide, insert a stick of dynamite in it and blow the poor creature to bits. But given what Tom and Jerry, Itchy and Scratchy or Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner do to each other it seems par for the course.

    Believe me when I say that this is one of the less troublesome parts of the story.

    This was the edition re-drawn in the 60’s, Herge had ashamedly taken it off the shelves but allegedly the story became popular in the French colonised parts of Africa so it was re-done. I hope it was popular as an example of how idiotic the Belgian’s attitude to Africa was. In real life their behaviour in the Congo was not merely idiotic either.

  97. pinkroom permalink
    April 28, 2010 6:41 PM

    Not just the Belgians… I remember reading some of the old, beloved Rupert the Bear annuals (40s vintage) and their representation of the Coons of Coon Island were also “well out” as the young people say. I googled to check my memory was not playing tricks and discovered a whole murky world where such atefacts are actually treasured/celebrated. A reminder that bigotry still needs to be taken on face to face.

    On the subject of which…to me Gordo’s big mistake was waiting until he was in the car… then looked a flip-flopper all over again by apologising! Malcolm Tucker needs to have a word. Grow a spine… have the woman arrested.

  98. mishari permalink*
    April 28, 2010 8:27 PM

    I recommend King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild, a history of the Belgian crimes in the Congo. An absolutely horrifying story and one that was mainly brought to the world’s attention through the efforts of a British diplomat of Irish origin who went on to achieve notoriety himself, Sir Roger Casement.

    PR, Brown should have done a Prescott and punched her. He would have got roughly the same amount of bad press but a lot of people would have secretly thought ‘Yeah, fuck it, she asked for it…’.

    (This should not be seen as a PH endorsement of striking women–on the contrary, Noel Coward was very wrong to suggest that some women ‘should be struck regularly, like gongs’).

    I’m just saying, as bad press goes, it would have been better than this, which just makes Brown look like a slippery bastard without the courage of his convictions (assuming he has any).

  99. pinkroom permalink
    April 28, 2010 9:50 PM

    Absolutely.

    I’d have certainly had her arrested for..something…

    and had the DG of the BBC sent to the Tower of London for a racking for good measure. I mean, spying on the Queen’s first minister has to be treason of some sort.

    Flip, flop, wet fish or what?

  100. freep permalink
    April 28, 2010 10:20 PM

    Dead right PR. I would have her deported to Crawley or Peterlee. A woman like her, so disrespectful to a Leader, doesn’t deserve to live in the World Heritage Site that is Rochdale. But Duffy’s an Irish name – she is undoubtedly herself an immigrant and she might soon find men in uniforms roughly forcing her on to the bus to Letterkenny.

    I’m afraid I can’t cope with this democracy business (or ‘vote-buying’, as my granddad called it) at all. The gulf between the pledges to Get Things Done and the executing of policy is now so vast that I regard all manifestoes as fantasy. One example. I managed to get through to HM Revenue and Customs today after a thirty minute wait on the phone. I asked when I might get a reply to my letter sent three weeks ago about a simple change to my tax code. It was in a pile awaiting action, I was told, and would be dealt with on or around 10 June. Now with that level of inefficiency, how can the Chancellor’s assurances about anything be taken seriously?
    During Thatcher’s time, the Civil Service was completely emasculated, and has been a demoralised force throughout the Blair / Brown years. Forty years ago, the Civil Service could easily run the country without the need for an elected government. Now there is so much petty legislation and micromanagement that no executive could possibly deliver any legislative programme, from whatever party.

    I guarantee it, we shall be in the same plight as Greece six months from now. (Greece being the home of that dangerous delusion, democracy). Thank God we still have a monarch, who I hope will resume the reins of power and reverse all the mistakes that date back to 1688. If she does not, we shall find one of the Stuarts to clamber back over the wall into Windsor.

  101. obooki permalink
    April 28, 2010 10:45 PM

    I managed to get through to HM Revenue and Customs today after a thirty minute wait on the phone. I asked when I might get a reply to my letter sent three weeks ago about a simple change to my tax code

    Three weeks ago, eh? What, about 7th April? Hmm, I wonder why you’re not getting a response. Perhaps they’re all on holiday.

  102. hiQ8ubique permalink
    April 28, 2010 10:58 PM

    I wouldn’t like to dash your hopes, freep, but we might call HM a grecophile or hellenophile or some such thing, though that was nothing to do with democracy.

  103. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 28, 2010 11:37 PM

    Argyle socks, please, to match my cardy.

    Is Ms Duffy by any chance related to the Poet Laureate? Her large puffy face seemed to me highly reminiscent of the Scotch bard’s.

  104. freep permalink
    April 28, 2010 11:56 PM

    Well, there we are hic, time to deport Phil to Greece and Liz to Hanover. There are actually only 73 people qualified to live in the United Kingdom by reasons of racial and dynastic purity, domiciliary legitimacy, and heritable rights 0f manorial boscage, estovers and turbary. Melton Mowbray and I are two of them.

    When all the foreigners have been banished, I intend to rule Suffolk, with a velvet fist. The county population will be 3, so I propose to institute a form of limited democracy. I will of course, keep Long Melford as a pocket borough, and get the single elector (me) drunk for a fortnight before polling day.
    My manifesto will pledge to abolish schools and all forms of transport; income tax will be, as now, voluntary under the Pay As You Burn system. My election slogan will be ‘Treat people like idiots and they will behave like idiots.’

  105. pinkroom permalink
    April 29, 2010 12:40 AM

    I was wondering about any Carol Ann link too… doesn’t she too hale from Shameless territory?

    As a pure bred mongrel I will, under the new order, need to be variously repatriated to various points between south China to the Emerald Isle, but a small but serviceable chunk should be happily left stealing cattle somewhere around the borders. Gasworks Green however will be left utterly empty… freep and mm will no doubt happily hunt some boar here with the re-restored Stuart king (Bonny Prince Cameron???) once it reverts to a royal park.

    Tally ho!

  106. hiQ8ubique permalink
    April 29, 2010 3:12 AM

    ‘Weel ye no’ come back again?’

    oh freep, I fear you have failed to take into account the appalling influx of expats and their offspring obliged to repopulate your demesne under this scheme. I know these people. They will drive about in Hummers, install automatic dishwashers, and expect to fill full-sized bath-tubs with all the water in the tap plus their super-sized MichaelMooreishMore-ish bodies. Even that is as nothing to what they will perpetrate against your mother tongue.
    Beware making the ‘right of abode’ into ‘abode oblige’!

  107. mishari permalink*
    April 29, 2010 8:37 AM

    As you know, I’ve been advocating a break with Old Politics, a rejection of the tired old orthodoxies and an embrace of the New: Welcome to The Al-Adwani Imperium.

    As your Emperor, I will be savage but fair, callous but sensitive, short yet tall, fat but thin and focused yet vague: in short, I will be all things to all people. A chicken in every pot! A cow in every byre! A hand in every pocket!

    Here’s what the new Imperial Pax Al-Adwani will look like:

  108. April 29, 2010 9:42 AM

    Can we call you Ming Al-Adwani ?

    re: the look. Beware it’s only a nose-piercing away from looking like the drummer of a Californian metal band.

    Am re-building my byre so look forward to your policies being in place come May 7th.

  109. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 29, 2010 10:55 AM

    Minging Al-Adwani is surely more accurate.

  110. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 29, 2010 10:57 AM

    Autobiography

    It’s not a very interesting story,
    lacking a bit in the excitement stakes,
    there’s no progression to fame or glory:
    it’s a trail of small and smaller mistakes.

    It would be hard to argue that it’s sad,
    the tone’s ironic rather than bitter;
    in style, indifferent rather than bad.
    A couple of scenes might raise a titter.

    Moments of illumination are few,
    and, since the tale couldn’t be much slighter,
    the absence of padding one must commend:

    so briskly is the story rattled through
    it’s unclear whether reader or writer
    has a stronger desire to reach The End.

  111. April 29, 2010 1:34 PM

    Biography

    I wrote this book
    About someone I don’t know
    So don’t blame me
    If the content’s dull and slow

    The subject of the book was
    Very rarely funny
    I only really did it
    ‘Cos I needed the money

  112. April 29, 2010 1:45 PM

    oops 3rd verse fell off somehow

    My literary reputation
    Has gone swiftly down the hole
    It’s what happens when you play Boswell
    To Cheryl flaming Cole

  113. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 29, 2010 3:18 PM

    Ah! Cheryl Flaming-Cole!
    She was one of my first loves,
    But it was inadvisable to touch her
    Without asbestos gloves.

  114. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 29, 2010 5:04 PM

    Cheryl Fleming-Cola is now sold
    At all leading drug and liquor stores
    Combines the great taste of cherry mold
    And fresh parasitic fungal spores

  115. April 29, 2010 5:22 PM

    Drinking Cheryl Fleming Cola
    Clogged up my sinuses
    My doctor says I’m lucky
    It wasn’t cholera or ebola viruses.

  116. mishari permalink*
    April 29, 2010 5:48 PM

    You lot are very fecund of late. Ah well…spring and the saps are rising, I suppose…

  117. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 29, 2010 10:55 PM

    Cheryl Phlegming-Cola’s the best,
    when you’re feeling a trifle rough,
    for rubbing on the snotbound chest,
    just don’t try to drink the stuff.

  118. mishari permalink*
    April 30, 2010 12:03 AM

    The BNP would offer non-white British people £50,000 to leave “overcrowded” Britain and return to the land of their ancestors, the party’s leader Nick Griffin said today. —The Grauniad, today

    I suspect Mowbray’s working on his tan even as we speak…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 30, 2010 12:09 AM

      Getting the aerosol into the crevices is a challenge. I’ve asked for assistance, but suddenly everyone is busy.

  119. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 30, 2010 12:04 AM

    My voting paper has arrived so I’ll have to make a decision soon. I’ve added my vote to the other 78 people who went for the Socialist Party in the last two elections, but they don’t appear to have a candidate this time. So, will it be Ian Malcom Dunsire, of The English Democrats – Putting England First! ? No. Paul Martin, of the Middle England Party? No. Anything with ‘England’ in it is automatically ruled out. The BNP chap has a profoundly unmusical name- Geof Clynch, while Paul David Randle-Jolliffe is far too long. Edward Corby- too short. I quite like Bob Keats, of the Greens, but it’s only because I like the earlier Keats. In the absence of a freep-style candidate I think I will have to spoil my paper. My special ballot-spoiling pen stands ready for use.

  120. freep permalink
    April 30, 2010 7:46 AM

    MM, just ask each candidate if they support the return of the legitimate monarch to this country. Not Prince Al-Adwani the Bad, whom I regard as a frivolous monarch, even tho I know I risk my personal safety in venturing such a rash view. No, they must pledge allegiance to Prince Joseph Wenzel of Lichtenstein, heir to the Jacobite succession; a promising lad of just 14, born in London, and with the true martyr’s blood within him.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Joseph_Wenzel_of_Liechtenstein

  121. mishari permalink*
    April 30, 2010 8:04 AM

    I may be Bad but at least I’m not a Kraut with haggis-sucking aspirations. Vote Al-Adwani for bread and circuses…

    In a puff piece about Coco Sumner (daughter of Stink and Trudy “Put My Hairdresser On A Learjet This Instant” Styler), the Independent writes:

    Preferring to sleep on friends’ sofas – although she owns a house in Victoria and has just bought a cottage in Wiltshire – she has refreshingly dirty nails and is fiercely independent, despite Sting’s estimated wealth of £180m.

    At 19, she owns 2 properties but is “…fiercely independent”? Jesus…I wonder which part of your brain they remove when you go into journalism?

  122. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 30, 2010 9:09 AM

    Funny, I posted exactly that quote – without comment – on the Indy’s bloggy thingy. It refused it, saying there was something wrong with my post.

    I am eternally disenfranchised, it would seem.

  123. April 30, 2010 9:56 AM

    Ah but the decision when to clean your fingernails is the only true test of independence. The rest is mere frippery.

  124. mishari permalink*
    April 30, 2010 11:09 AM

    What to make of this weird foto of Clegg and Brown doing the hokey-cokey while Cameron whistles?

    A car crashed into a bus shelter today as Gordon Brown was launching a new Labour Party poster nearby.

    The Volkswagen Golf smashed into the shelter on a traffic island in Hockley, Birmingham, yards from the car park where the launch was taking place. —The Indy, today

    No comment necessary, I think…

  125. hiQ8ubique permalink
    April 30, 2010 1:38 PM

    That foto suggests to me varied perceptions of physical reality:
    Brown and Clegg each think they have found a tree, while Cameron knows it’s a urinal.
    No, just kidding, really it must be St Vitus’ dance.

  126. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 30, 2010 4:00 PM

    I see where you’re coming from, freep, but I think your analysis is fundamentally flawed. No disrespect to our host (well, a bit, maybe) but I think ‘Put not your trust in Princes’ is still a maxim worth considering. Anyway, is German really the best way to go? Decent cars, washing machines, vacuum cleaners etc, but royalty has not been one of their most successful exports. Semi-human suet puddings for the most part, like our own dear Queen, all too likely, as Hic points out, to fall for unsavoury Greek chancers who poison the gene pool for ever.

    No, I favour a complete break with tradition and the installation of a completely fresh face as head of state. Dom Joly teased my fancy for a time, King Dom being a neat construction, but he’s too boisterous for my taste. I toyed with rhymers for a while- King Sting is nice, but the man is clearly unsuitable. Anyway, I’ve decided to go with the proprietor of Ryde’s premier Chinese restaurant, Than Kyu. It’s only a courtesy title.

  127. April 30, 2010 5:44 PM

    MM how about Burger King?

  128. mishari permalink*
    April 30, 2010 7:46 PM

    Whoa…the Grauniad’s just come out for the LibDems. Better late than never, I suppose. Not that I’ve got any time for Clegg, who appears almost as vacuous as Cameron but at least the LibDems are absolutely committed to electoral reform and that alone makes them worth voting for…

    MM, that would be Than Kyu and his lovely wife, Du Kum Agyn?

    Rather a good joke on CiF:

    I came across a traffic jam today, and asked a policeman what was happening.

    “It’s Gordon Brown” he said. “He is saying that everyone hates him so much, and he is threatening to pour petrol over himself, and set himself alight, so I’m taking up a collection for him.”

    “That’s very good of you” I replied. “How much are people giving for him?”

    “On average, about a gallon”.

  129. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 30, 2010 11:07 PM

    The Windsors are probably interested in a spot of product placement, if the price is right. Look forward to BurgerKing Charles III and DairyQueen Camilla. My old friend Than Kyu’s second wife is an improvement on his first. U Fu Kof was a most unwelcoming hostess.

    In the end, seeing some encouraging voxpops in the local paper, I decided to give the LibDems my vote. Tories with a human face they may be, but they seem to be the only force here capable of shifting A. Turner, our MP. He’ll win anyway, but I have made the gesture.

  130. April 30, 2010 11:39 PM

    Our letterbox such that it is has been bombarded by leaflets from at least 3 different Tory candidates.

    So either they are incompetent or we live in a node between 3 different constituencies and can vote 3 times. The LibDems are weak up here so am not sure what to do.

    no Tory will get my vote but after this last week I’ve a horrible feeling Cameron will walk it. I’m only glad a bit of work will take me out of the country for a few days on the 7th.

  131. May 1, 2010 11:43 AM

    In quite a startling gambit Nick Clegg has written about Samuel Beckett being his hero.

    The detached, unable to be certain about anything, literate intellectual vote must be larger than I thought. But more than anything else I can’t think of a current politician who’d admit to such good taste. Aren’t they usually trying to appear populist?

    If Vince Cable’s favourite book is “The Bark Tree” by Queneau then I’m sold.

  132. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 1, 2010 1:40 PM

    I was deeply impressed as a youth by Harold Wilson taking Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason to the Scillies as holiday reading. So hogtied are they by party dogma and their image-makers, it’s easy to forget that lots of politicians are certified two-brainers. Cameron claims to watch a lot of TV; he’s probably translating Latin poetry into Greek and then into English, which I think was one of Gladstone’s hobbies. Gordon Brown is probably watching TV; he might as well.

  133. mishari permalink*
    May 1, 2010 2:08 PM

    You poor deluded sap. The last genuine ‘intellectual’ in Labour politics was Healey. Now, there was a man with a hinterland. After him, came poodle-fakers, pseuds and eejits like Hattersly, Kinnock and Prescott. The best the Tories can manage is David ‘Two-Brains’ Willets who may very well have a double-first but is a certifiable dunce about virtually everything except whatever he graduated in.

    The idea of Cameron pursuing anything more intellectually demanding than a game of Nintendo would make a cat laugh.

    Dude…please get a grip.

  134. May 1, 2010 2:40 PM

    Cameron is closely studying a DVD of “Poses and facial expressions to adopt when awkward members of the public cross your path.” Put together for him by his election campaign team.

    Labour’s campaign was summed up by that car crash when they were unveiling the latest poster series.. I wonder if it was stage managed – it couldn’t have come at a better?worse time.

    One can only hope that the press will lay into Cameron as ruthlessly as they laid into Brown. Marina Hyde has written the best stuff over this campaign. Her sarcastic resignation captures the mood very well I think.

  135. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 1, 2010 4:33 PM

    I’m not saying that they are intellectual giants, just that in general they are much brighter than the image and their public pronouncements might suggest. As ET says, familiarity with hard words in long books isn’t encouraged by the party machines. Cameron seems to have a first, which suggests some degree of intelligence: he doesn’t cope that well with putting the Tory case, but that’s because there are so many conflicting elements that any thinker in history would struggle to make a coherent synthesis. From what I’ve seen, he’s pretty good at talking to people on the street, fluent, looks like he actually enjoys it and has a decent line in repartee.

    It’s difficult to tell what intellectual interests current Labour politicians might have, since they try to stick to football and the X-factor (and let’s not forget Healey’s appearances on Morecambe and Wise and the Mike Yarwood Show). All there is to go on is their usually impressive academic record. Ed Balls, I see, was once a Kennedy Scholar. When he’s finished ruining the education system for the day does he sit down with a piece of cake and watch The Bill? I doubt it.

  136. May 1, 2010 5:15 PM

    Every aspect of Cameron seems to be to be so micro-managed that I have no idea if he has a personality any longer. A gift to any post grad writing their thesis on semiotics and politics. Blair was the same but Cameron has taken it a step further to the degree that he totally floundered on TV when Clegg didn’t play the role the Tory team had presumably assigned to him.

    The more uncomfortable Brown looks under the media gaze the more I actually warmed to him as a person rather than a political automaton. I could imagine him reading some weighty 19th century tome. He’ll soon have time to read them all.

  137. mishari permalink*
    May 1, 2010 6:50 PM

    I take your point, MM, but the behavior of the likes of Balls contradicts his CV. I suspect he’s a high-functioning moron, a brilliant idiot, a very clever but deeply unintelligent man. Academic records alone, without corroborating evidence, should be viewed with the gravest suspicion. Let’s face it, the number of imbeciles turned loose by our great institutions of learning should give any thoughtful man pause.

    Let’s not forget that George W. Bush graduated from Yale and the Harvard Business school (both touted as being academically very rigorous). I believe that idiot Keith Joseph had an impressive academic record, as well…pffftt.

    As for Cameron, he cut his teeth as a PR man and he is after all, an Old Etonian: if that doesn’t give you a degree of polish and self-assurance, then there’s little point in spending £30,000 p.a. sending your boys there…

  138. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 1, 2010 11:10 PM

    Yes, the Eton manner isn’t exactly a hindrance, but Cameron does seem ready to tackle difficult encounters without flinching, as in the case of the chap with the disabled son. In my mind’s eye I see Blair fidgeting and grimacing as he tried to get away from various awkward people. That doesn’t make him a good PM, of course.

    Fair point on GW Bush, whose mysterious academic record I had forgotten about.

  139. pinkblossom permalink
    May 1, 2010 11:45 PM

    At the close of a thoroughly enjoyable May day, I think its time for a pagan strong man;
    Christopher Lee in a roll neck sweater… that sort of thing.

  140. May 2, 2010 10:19 AM

    MM Blair stood his ground and didn’t know what to do, his grin like Brown’s just emphasises the torture – I may be a cynic but in the case of that man with his disabled son Cameron’s entire body language looked like he had been schooled in these matters.

    The story of a marine back from the Gulf who Cameron gave his card to “if he ever needed any help” and who rang the office over 30 times to no affect gives, I think, a truer picture. It’s acute self-awareness mixed with good PR ( not Pink Room! )

  141. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2010 1:10 PM

    Jesus…even the reliably deranged Peter Hitchens (eyes popping with righteous indignation as always) is warning Mail readers not to vote for Cameron:

    But I beg and plead with you not to fall for the shimmering, greasy, cynical fraud which is the Cameron project. You will hate yourself for it in time if you do.

    The Daily Hate Mail, today

    Perhaps predictably, it’s because loony Hitchens thinks Cameron is too ‘liberal’ but still…

  142. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 2, 2010 2:09 PM

    Blimey, looks like I’m the only person in the UK who has been taken in by the Cameron Project. Perhaps they are targeting fiftysomething bearded scruffs who live on islands. Watch out, Branson!

  143. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2010 3:25 PM

    This highly amusing profile of Rees-Smug (son of Mystic Mogg) appeared in The Times a couple of weeks ago:

    He’s very posh and very rich. No wonder the Tories want to keep Jacob Rees-Mogg out of sight

    There’s always one, every election. The barmy candidate: the shouty, bright, novelty vote, the loopy kazoo-tooter, the yogic flyer, the Kilroy-Silk or Screaming Lord Sutch.

    This time, the token rosette-toting joker is Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory parliamentary candidate for Somerset North East and David Cameron’s worst nightmare. Educated at Eton and Oxford, the cane-stroking hedge fund manager is an immaculately besuited Lurch lookalike who has always refused to tone down his act, or as he puts it, “drop my aitches”.

    He is well known for his unique way of electioneering: in 1997, he waged a memorable campaign in Central Fife, crawling the dank, staunchly Labour streets in a Bentley and distributing leaflets with the help of his nanny, Veronica Crook. “I do wish you wouldn’t keep going on about the nanny,” he said afterwards. “If I’d had a valet, you’d think it was perfectly normal.”

    He lost Fife because “whatever I happened to be speaking about, the number of voters in my favour dropped as soon as I opened my mouth”, he says. He stands a much better chance in genteel Somerset, in a former Tory stronghold, now an ultra-marginal. Rees-Mogg, 40, needs only a few votes to swing it. Even he couldn’t goof it up.

    Or could he? Weirdly, the man who once referred to people who hadn’t been to Oxbridge as “potted plants” and who shares the use of an “exclusive” loo at Claridge’s with the King of Spain, is on something of a tight leash this campaign, so tight, in fact, that he’s probably the only prospective MP in campaigning history whose main object seems to hide until polling day.

    He politely declines my request for an interview, so I decide to catch up with him on the trail instead. His campaign HQ is in Keynsham, just outside Bath, a typically poky drag of pound shops and pet stores.

    Although Rees-Mogg has lived in Somerset all his life, I don’t expect he hangs round here much, a whole 100 miles from the Ritz, sitting on benches with girls like Paige, a giggly 18-year-old hairdresser kicking her Primark Uggs opposite his offices. I show her his picture: has she seen him? “No,” she says. Rees-Mogg is notoriously partial to top hats, so I stick one on the picture. Anything now? “No,” she says.

    A man sitting nearby, who identifies himself as a “lorry driver waiting for sausages”, shouts: “He’s a prat! They’re all prats. It’s not a class thing; they’re in it for power.”

    Has he seen Rees-Mogg at all? He looks at the picture. “Jason Rees-Mogg. He’s a Cameron clone, isn’t he. Why’s he got such a stupid hat on?”

    Next stop is Rees-Mogg’s offices, where his campaign manager Margaret, a flinty rural matron, is masterminding — well, what? Nothing, apparently. She says she doesn’t have a schedule for him, or a mobile number, doesn’t know where he is, where he’ll be, or even when he might be back.

    “He’s out in the local community now, door-knocking,” she says. Can she be a bit more specific perhaps? “No, I really couldn’t, sorry.” Behind her head I notice a massive chart with all the places he is visiting this week, so I make a note.

    Before we leave Keynsham, we pop by the local bar (latest promotion: “Buff Hosts”, a girls’ cocktail party featuring nearly nude waiters) where the landlady tells us that Rees-Mogg sometimes comes in “for a latte or business meetings”. Has she seen him at all? Turns out she has: “Yesterday,” she says. “Outside. Lurking … sorry, canvassing. A tall, willowy man and he had someone with him.” A valet? “Could have been.”

    She can’t help otherwise, so we drive to some of the places on the secret list, including Radstock, a town whose high street seems to be a ring road, and Clandown, a ghostly council estate where a man in sweat-pants stands puffing on a cigarette by a car on bricks. He hasn’t met Rees-Mogg, no.

    We call Margaret a few times, but she’s still masterminding her pen-top. We call Conservative Central Office to see if he can be coaxed: nope. We even try to contact his sister Annunziata, who, in a slightly creepy bit of his’n’hers political interfacing, is fighting Somerton and Frome, the seat next door. A former business writer, Annunziata was once memorably asked by David Cameron to plebify her name to Nancy Mogg.

    At least she’s has been out and about: a pair of butchers in the market in Frome say they saw her “earlier on”, but “shouted her out of the market,” chuckles one, holding up a cut of meat. “This steak’s not blue, it’s red.”

    Although I do find chasing the Rees-Moggs across the countryside momentarily amusing, I don’t think I’d like to employ someone capable of being this slippery. I don’t expect them to feel bound to give me an interview, but I am surprised that neither of them can apparently handle an encounter out on the campaign trail, apart from a few questions from, say, a work experience at Heart FM Bath.

    A local newspaper reporter tells me she and her colleagues have had similar problems.

    I certainly can’t see someone like Michael Ancram, also known as the 13th Marquess of Lothian, behaving like this in the nearby seat of Devizes. And anyway does anyone think the Rees-Moggs are going to be more answerable after they are elected?

    Meanwhile, we trawl the villages, talking to passers-by, shopkeepers. I look in a church; the photographer asks me: “Did you check the crypt?” After 36 hours, I have begun to wonder if Rees-Mogg is canvassing at all. Is it all a massive conspiracy? Perhaps he’s just at home, settling down to eggs and soldiers? I head over to West Harptree, a pretty village where Rees-Mogg lives with his wife, the heiress Helena de Chair, two children — another’s expected in May — and nanny.

    The place is quiet and manicured and the gates are open when we arrive so I gingerly walk up the drive and ring the doorbell. The door is answered by a housekeeper who tells me she doesn’t know where he is and or when he’ll be back. Obviously, she’s been speaking to Margaret, a suspicion that is confirmed when, barely reaching the bottom of the drive, my mobile phone rings.

    It’s the editor’s office: they have had a complaint that I’ve been “trespassing on Jacob Rees-Mogg’s land, causing a disturbance and making a general nuisance of myself”, which is probably the most elaborate description of knocking on doors that I’ve ever encountered. How does Jacob do it himself? Stand at gates and throw leaflets? I decide to go back to Keynsham and confront Margaret.

    “We’ve been trying to track down Jacob for the last 36 hours and you’re not helping,” I say, bursting in through the doors. “Well, Jacob’s out there, knocking on doors, talking to people, doing the campaigning,” she says.

    Can you tell us where he is now? Call him on the mobile perhaps?

    “No, I don’t think so.”

    Why not?

    “Because he wants to get on with his local campaigning.”

    He’s avoiding us?

    “He wants to get on with his local campaigning.”

    Well, nobody’s seen him.

    “You can go down a road and not find him,” Margaret says. Don’t I know it. She continues: “As a matter of fact I’ve just sent someone to find him . . .”

    Oh, so you do know where he is. She nods. So if you won’t help me, I say, what about this chart? Is that where he is? I point, defiantly, to “Ubley”.

    “Could be,” Margaret says. “Could you please leave now?”

    Obviously, Rees-Mogg is not in Ubley, and he’s not at home either, and we stay outside his home for quite some time, and by “quite some time” I mean I don’t think I have ever stood outside a mini-stately at 6 o’clock in the morning without it being totally fun-related.

    Eventually I begin to wonder if he might be somewhere else altogether — a bow-tie factory? The King of Spain’s loo? — so in a last-ditch attempt to find him we head over to Mells, where the family home is.

    Jacob’s mother, Lady Rees-Mogg, a calm, sweet type, opens the door. She glances at a twig in my hair and gives me a look as if to say, “What’s all this silliness?”, but, of course, what she actually says, is: “Jacob’s not here.” Where is he? She sighs. “I don’t know, sorry. He could be anywhere. He has been at home, but as far as I know, he’s out campaigning.”

    How’s it going? Do people like him? “Well, he’s got quite a weird reputation,” she says. “He’s outspoken and … unusual. But he and Annunziata like sticking their heads above the parapet.” She sighs. “Can you imagine if they both got in?”

    No, I fucking can’t.

    I went looking for a very entertaining Ali G interview with Mogg Minor. No dice but found this:

  144. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 2, 2010 3:43 PM

    They sound just right for Zummerzet: the natives probably think they’re boringly normal.

  145. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 2, 2010 3:47 PM

    What about Phillipa Stroud, the nutter who founded the church to cure homosexualists? Should be an interesting 5 years.

  146. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2010 7:02 PM

    It’s not a done deal yet, MM. Cameron’s already saying that the cuts he’s outlined won’t be enough–and we all know where Tory cuts fall. Not on fees to their ‘consultant’ chums or their banking chums or their lawyer pals, etc. The majority of people know this in their water.

    However bad Labour are (and they were atrocious enough to have lost my vote for the foreseeable future), this lot will be worse. I wasn’t convinced of it before but having listened to the likes of that psychotic Gove and that wet-brain Osborne, I know it now.

    The Tories will always be the party of the ‘haves’, firm believers in the preposterous idea that being poor is some kind of ‘moral’ failing and deserving of punishment. Again, most people know that as well. Only the very young will have forgotten the private affluence, public squalor of the last Tory regime and this lot are even worse.

    It’s alright for people like me–I can take my family and fuck off anytime I like. A nightmare for those who can’t, though.

  147. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 2, 2010 7:50 PM

    After blithely writing ‘an interesting 5 years’ it suddenly occurred to me that 5 years represents a large portion of the rest of my life, assuming I don’t actually fall off the perch in that period of time. A little unnerving.

    I envy you the ability to move anywhere and live anywhere, but I suppose I managed to cruise through 18 years of Thatcher/Major, dismasted, shot-torn but still making headway. It’s 13 years of NewLab which have holed me beneath the waterline.

  148. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2010 9:28 PM

    A large portion of the rest of your life? Nonsense. You’re my age, practically a spring-chicken, for fuck’s sake.

    Here’s what I wrote about Brown almost exactly a year ago to the day:

    ‘Lessons have been learned. It’s time to move on.’

    The hapless fucker’s begun plagiarizing Blair. If Brown were even the slightest bit likable, the arc of his time at the top would make an affecting tragedy. However, because he’s a dishonest, power-obsessed, emotionally and socially maladroit creep, it’s high-farce and low-slapstick with Nemesis waiting in the wings with the hook.

    My crystal ball was functioning beautifully…

  149. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 2, 2010 11:17 PM

    Yes, the sods are already rattling on Gordon’s coffin. Still, the dreams he had at Kirkcaldy Grammar School did come true in the end, which is more than can be said for most of us. That winning goal at Wembley, try at Twickenham, century at Lords somehow eluded my grasp, though I did manage to tolerate spinach, like crosswords and love gin.

  150. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 3, 2010 4:16 PM

    Facetiously I attempted
    Using needles and Bostik, to
    Knit a poem, a pre-empted
    Enigmatic acrostic, so
    Many perverse and pregnant words
    All limpid and lascivious
    Lumpen great poster poem turds
    Left totally oblivious

  151. hiQ8ubique permalink
    May 3, 2010 6:20 PM

    Meltonian Mowbray, Most Ancient of Days,
    went on a health-seeking vegetable craze,
    learnt of Mishari’s fresh high-fibre diet
    and got in supplies, determined to try it,
    but found that the only veg he could endure
    was the humble cucumber, so that was his cure.

    Read, for his method, this simple appendix:
    He took only it’s essence through hog’s-heads of Hendrick’s.

  152. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 3, 2010 8:37 PM

    I’m sorry to say I missed the acrostic, HLM. Jerry Garcia was certainly very attractive, as far as human mops go.

    Trying the Prince’s vile diet
    of filthy foreign muck
    made my tender intestines riot;
    I nearly had to chuck.

    That poisonous garbage was junked
    in a lead-lined dustbin
    and now my cucumbers are dunked
    in Tesco’s London Gin.

    Before the light of reason fails
    my reeling consciousness mulls
    hic8ubique sipping cocktails
    from a collection of skulls.

  153. mishari permalink*
    May 3, 2010 9:31 PM

    Mowbray lingers long at Lidl
    After the LardBurger launch
    No head, no feet: he’s mostly middle;
    A breathing, farting, bearded paunch.

  154. hiQ8ubique permalink
    May 3, 2010 10:11 PM

    The skulls in my collection presently
    number only two.
    The one that’s never been trepanned
    will simply have to do

    for sipping, with its lips intacto,
    sparkling ton&gin,
    since Ginger’s pierced calvarium
    lets it dribble down my chin.

  155. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 3, 2010 11:50 PM

    I’m sorry to hear that sad news,
    but I’m told by a doctor chum
    that for skull-holes the surgeons use
    a piece of Wrigley’s chewing-gum.

    But don’t be too despairing,
    I’m sure it will work out fine,
    for you it’s just a one-off thing,
    the Prince dribbles all the time.

  156. hiQ8ubique permalink
    May 4, 2010 2:48 AM

    I bunged her up with chewing gum
    the better for to sup,
    and sipped a chipper tipple
    from that bony loving-cup,
    and said a little blessing
    for the sad and sorry blighters
    who suffer from the dribbles
    of that horrid prostatitis.

  157. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 4, 2010 2:31 PM

    It was the Prince’s drooling palate
    I was attempting to disparage
    I really don’t want to contemplate
    His leaky undercarriage.

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