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The Day of The Sun

May 25, 2010

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The day of the sun is like the day of a king. It is a promenade in the morning, a sitting on the throne at noon, a pageant in the evening.

Wallace Stevens, Journal entry (20 April 1920)

For the last few days, London has basked in glorious cloudless weather. My tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and chilis have responded vigourously and my skin has turned a dark brown (causing people to ask me where I’ve been on holiday).

I love this city passionately but my main gripe has always been the weather. It would be fine if we had proper, assertive weather: long spells of monsoon-like rain, violent thunder-storms that rattle the windows and cleave the sky with blinding bolts of light, raging winds that fill the streets with little old ladies cartwheeling past like tumbleweed, blizzards that bury the city chest-high in snowdrifts and last but not least, long spells of searing sunlight and heat.

But we don’t. What we have, for the most part, is what I think of as ‘beige’ weather–weather that’s neither one thing nor the other: bland, dull, temperate weather. Mildly annoying weather. Weather the colour of institutional food: limp, pallid and lacking in savour.

It’s easy to see why ancient peoples deified the sun and I imagine Christianity must have been a hard sell back in the days when the majority of people lived lives intimately connected to the earth’s natural cycles.

“So, let me get his straight: you want us to reject Helios, the sun god who makes the grapes ripen on the vine, the olives ripen on the tree and the wheat to grow tall and heavy in the field; the sun that bakes the ache out of our old bones, turns the skin a pleasing shade of brown and bleaches our linen a startling white; the sun that dries our meats and fish, that drives the water off and gives us salt and makes the birds to sing in the dawn.

In his place, you want us to worship an invisible god who sexually molests virgins, burns us in hell if we eat meat on Fridays and had his only son nailed to a wooden cross? Have I got that right? Erm…we’ll get back to you…”

You can see why Julian the Apostate decided to give it a miss.

Time to slap on the Ban de Soleil, adjust those Persol classics, slice another orange into the sangria and write a poem about the sun. Rise and shine…

79 Comments
  1. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 25, 2010 11:42 PM

    Not a self-portrait, I take it. The sombrero would be twice as big.

  2. mishari permalink*
    May 25, 2010 11:48 PM

    For your information, my peach-like bottom is the cynosure of all eyes. A small, Tyrolean hat, perhaps…or even a yamulke, but a sombrero? I think not…

  3. obooki permalink
    May 26, 2010 12:53 AM

    The Semites who worshipped the sun
    Had an age-old mystical rite;
    They’d nail someone to a cross
    And stand him up in its light.

    The sun would draw life out of him
    And shine for the whole summer long;
    But later it seemed their equating
    Of killing with sunshine was wrong.

  4. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2010 9:39 AM

    “I’m a complete aristocrat. Love that, don’t you? I love it. It’s tremendously fabulous.” —Sarah Ferguson, quoted in The News of The World

    How very true. As the 37th Marquess of Whitechapel, I can assure you that it is ‘tremendously fabulous’ being me.

    However, I do wish the Duchess wouldn’t go on about it. The next thing you know, everyone will want to be a ‘complete aristocrat’ and the brand will become diluted.

    We need the plebs. Who else will beat my grouse moors, breed hummingbirds for my table and polish my collection of Hispano-Suizas?

  5. May 26, 2010 10:33 AM

    Beat my grouse moors? Is this cockney rhyming slang?

  6. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2010 10:43 AM

    I can see, Ed, that you’re not a ‘complete aristocrat’. How tremendously unfabulous.

  7. May 26, 2010 1:12 PM

    Sorry my liege will carry on buffing your Smith & Wesson. I know my place.

  8. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2010 1:38 PM

    Sunspotters

    The Sun seldom visits these shores,
    in theory we know it’s there,
    but a slurry of cloud ensures
    that actual sightings are rare.

    But when a glimmering is seen
    then our heliologists rush
    frantically to make the scene,
    indifferent to the sweating crush,

    only to find themselves engage
    in equal parts both rage and pain:
    they usually see the plumage
    of its much duller cousin, Rain.

    Or sometimes even Hail or Sleet,
    which, ignoring human reason,
    can fly in with a chilly treat
    whether in or out of season.

    Then our disconsolate twitchers
    retire to Norwich or Swindon
    and gaze at their brochure pictures
    of a distant, much hotter Sun,

    suspended in a harsh blue sky,
    unlike our mild and milky fraud,
    a Sun without apology
    in its natural habitat abroad.

  9. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2010 1:46 PM

    Blimey, beat HLM and ET to it. Not fucking obooki, though. Sounds like a translation from Martial to me.

  10. hic8ubique permalink
    May 26, 2010 3:34 PM

    Condolences from a Commoner
    (in her broad-brimmed Ecuadoran hat)

    I’m sorry for the Duchess
    who’s suffered for her cause,
    compelled to bask on beamy yachts
    and dally out-of-doors.

    To pay homage to Amon Ra
    as a courtieress must do,
    and vamp on Nevis beaches
    when donors were too few.

    Now, a princess may forswear the sun
    to perch on her veranda
    and let abundance seek her out
    among the oleander,

    but Sarah, just to earn her keep,
    does as a duchess must,
    braving lumps of carcinoma
    and a decollete of crust.

    So, I’m sorry for her fallen Grace
    who suffers for her sin
    with a wrinkly shrivelled apple face
    and lizard-leather skin.

  11. May 26, 2010 4:13 PM

    My Sun the fanatic

    A barley lemon draped in shrouds
    A bitter lemon squeezed by rain clouds

    An orange globe when you’re skinny-dipping
    An orange tractor when you’re acid-tripping

    A midday nuisance if you need to work
    A midday excuse if you’re inclined to shirk

    A barometer of fashion’s arses
    In socks and sandals, huge sunglasses,
    Mankinis, thongs, Bermuda shorts
    Always worn by the wrong sorts
    Like beached whales lying by the pool
    Imagining they pass for what is cool

    That said my work here is done.

    Written by someone too long in the sun.

  12. hic8ubique permalink
    May 26, 2010 4:31 PM

    Just one more fit of procrastination from
    the land of ‘proper, assertive weather’…

    Cynosure (for Mishari)

    When you’re coasting down in the drops
    and the motorists honk and cheer,
    you think that they’re happy for you
    after miles up in granny gear

    until you strip off for a shower
    and the dreaded lycra-rot
    reveals that their raucous glee
    was because your old shorts are shot.

  13. cellaroseus permalink
    May 26, 2010 9:42 PM

    Sunfall

    Standing in the outfield in this splash of shade
    I squint towards the square where our leggy
    trundles in and hope, somewhat afraid,
    that their bat doesn’t chip this one up to me.

    My calves and ankles ache; tendonitis made
    my decision to play, based on the sunny,
    forget-me-not sky that morning had displayed,
    touch and go. Dot ball. Take in what I see.

    The still strong sun dips behind the Elms’ tips,
    the rooftops and the clubhouse shine dry, dark
    edges towards me. The compost heap bank – black.

    Next ball, dabbed down between gully and slips
    to the sightscreen at the edge of the park
    where it rests
    before fast winging back.

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2010 11:29 PM

    Resurrected

    The sun is hot today
    the sweat rolls down my back
    my temper starts to fray.

    The kids are out to play,
    they need a bloody smack!
    The sun is hot today,

    and shirtless men display
    a flabby pimpled rack
    my temper starts to fray,

    I’ll hack those moobs away
    and stuff them in a sack!
    The sun is hot today,

    my brain’s in disarray
    sweat puddles in my crack
    my temper starts to fray,

    meltdown is on its way
    I think I’ll blow my stack!
    The sun is hot today,
    my temper starts to fray.

  15. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2010 11:35 PM

    Someone asked me if the alleged transcript of the Paul Merton/Jimmy Saville ding-dong was kosher or not. Well, how the… etc. Anyone better informed than me?

  16. May 27, 2010 12:32 AM

    Almost certainly a hoax, MM. Suspicion has fallen on Chris Morris and/or Victor Lewis-Smith as the possible perpetrators.

    Wasn’t there some very fierce legal stuff going on, ISPs being forced to suspend sites that reproduced the ‘transcript’?

    Nice pomes, folks.

  17. mishari permalink*
    May 27, 2010 12:44 AM

    I had no idea what you were on about, MM, and had to google it. For the equally baffled, here’s the transcript (allegedly):

    Out-take 3:09’36
    During the headline round:
    DEAYTON: You used to be a wrestler didn’t you?
    SAVILLE: I still am.
    DEAYTON: Are you?
    SAVILLE: I’m feared in every girls’ school in the country.
    (Audience laugh)
    DEAYTON: Yeah, I’ve heard about that.
    SAVILLE: What have you heard?
    DEAYTON: I’ve…
    MERTON: Something about a cunt with a rancid, pus-filled cock.
    (Huge audience laugh; Awkward pause)
    SAVILLE: I advise you to wash your mouth out, my friend…
    MERTON: That’s what she had to do! (Audience laughs)
    HISLOP: Weren’t you leaving money in phone boxes or something?
    (Saville glares at him) Or have I got completely the wrong end of the…
    SAVILLE: (To Deayton, heavily) The question you asked was about wrestling.
    DEAYTON: Yes. And then you mentioned girls’ schools. I don’t know whe…
    SAVILLE: Well I understood this was a comedy programme. I realise now how wrong I was. (Audience laugh)
    DEAYTON: So were you a professional wrestler?
    SAVILLE: Yes I was.
    DEAYTON: (To audience) Glad we got that cleared up.(Pulls face; audience giggles)
    HISLOP: Feared by every girls’ school in the country…
    SAVILLE: That’s right.
    MERTON: Due to having a rancid, pus-filled cock.(Huge audience laugh)
    DEAYTON: Erm…
    HISLOP: You’re on top form tonight, Paul…
    SAVILLE: (Strangely) I’m…this is not what I…
    FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV) OK, do you…(inaudible section)…shall we, for pick-ups…
    MERTON: I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what came over me.
    SAVILLE: A pus-filled cock, I imagine. (Shocked audience laugh)
    MERTON: Oh, it’s nice to see you joining in. We’d been waiting for you, you sad senile old shitter. (Audience appears to do double-take)
    DEAYTON: I think we…d-d-you you want to apologise to our guest, Paul?
    MERTON: Sorry, I do apologise. Sir senile old shitter, is what I meant to say.
    (Audience laugh; pause) Sir senile old shitter…who fucks minors.
    (Audience unrest)
    HISLOP: Sorry, I’m just looking at our lawyer again. (Waves) Hello!
    (Audience laughs)
    DEAYTON: Shall we get back on course with this, or sha…
    SAVILLE: I do fuck miners, that’s quite correct. I have always done so. They can do the most wonderful things with cigars. The coal…
    MERTON: What, they stick them up your senile, pus-filled arse?
    (Audience laughs)
    FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV): Come on…I’m getting an ear-bashing here. It’s…
    MERTON: Oh they want to continue. Sorry, I’ll contain myself. Carry on…
    DEAYTON: Right (Pause) You used to be a professional wrestler didn’t you?
    (Huge audience laugh)
    SAVILLE: (Calmly) I did.
    DEAYTON: You didn’t have a nickname or anything?
    SAVILLE: Yes – ‘Loser’. (Audience laughs)
    ___________________________________
    Out-take 4: 21’20
    Following a discussion about caravans:
    DEAYTON: Last month, Roger Moore sold his luxury caravan in Malta. Asked by the…
    MERTON: I visited your caravan the other week, Jimmy.
    SAVILLE: Did you really?
    MERTON: Oh yes. Interesting what you can find, if you have a bit of a poke.
    (Audience laugh)
    HISLOP: He just told you, it was twelve years ago…
    SAVILLE: No, I lived in it for twelve years.
    MERTON: And fucked twelve year olds. (Audience laugh)
    DEAYTON: Here we go again…I’ll be backstage if anyone wants me.
    MERTON: (Indicating Saville) That’s what you said to the kids on your show, wasn’t it?
    (Audience laugh)
    SAVILLE: No, they never did want me.
    HISLOP: Not even Sarah Cornley?
    SAVILLE: She was an exception.
    DEAYTON: Who’s Sarah Cornley?
    SAVILLE: Sarah Cornley is…
    HISLOP: About fifteen grand in damages, wasn’t she?
    (Uncertain audience laugh)
    SAVILLE: That’s right.
    HISLOP: So if I was going to mention that you threatened to break her arm if she said anything…
    SAVILLE: You’d be very wrong. (Pause) I said I’d break both her arms.
    (Audience unease)
    MERTON: Fucking hell. I mean, you’re just sitting there, all shell suit and cigar wearing those fucking…I don’t know what they are.
    SAVILLE: Chrome-plated SC-700 sun-visors, these are. Sent to me by…
    MERTON: We don’t give a shit. Ladies and gentlemen, Sir James Saville OBE. Jim has fixed it for me to have my arms broken. Meet this depressing old fucked up cunt of a fucker on television who’s riddled with cancer and fucking pubic lice.
    HISLOP: (To lawyer again) Hello! (Audience laughs)
    MERTON: Christ, I mean ha ha, big fucking joke – the fucking lawyers are involved, tee hee. It doesn’t change anything.
    DEAYTON: (Visibly out of character) Do you wanna stop, or…?
    MERTON: No I don’t fucking want to stop. It’s all shit! You’ll expect a comedy walkout in a minute, won’t you? I mean, big bloody joke – I’m going to quote Shakespeare in a minute, how fucking out of character. And Ian knows about football – oh my fucking sides.
    SAVILLE: You’ve never fucked anyone in your life, boy.
    MERTON: Oh fuck off…
    FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV) …About five minutes, just to…(Phil Davey enters)
    PHIL DAVEY: OK, well top that as they say. You’re looking troubled by that, aren’t you mate? I tell you, I came back from Amsterdam recently…
    RECORDING PLACED ON STAND-BY; CUTS BACK TO CLOSE-UP OF DEAYTON
    AWAITING HIS CUE
    DEAYTON: OK. Second time lucky. (Pause) Last month, Roger Moore sold his luxury caravan in Malta. Asked by the New York Times about his relaxed acting style…

  18. obooki permalink
    May 27, 2010 1:11 AM

    I suppose we should be expecting this site to be shut down then tomorrow.

    There’s one thing that strikes me as wrong with this transcript (apart from Paul Merton seeming quite out of character at times): the other guest that week was Diane Abbott, and yet she doesn’t say a word.

    Also, why does “Phil Davey” suddenly appear at the end? – Investigations show he is some sort of stand-up comic.

    I’m not sure the transcript is of recent origin though: I discovered this interesting webpage:

    http://www.ciao.co.uk/BBC2_Have_I_Got_News_For_You__Review_60185

  19. mishari permalink*
    May 27, 2010 1:26 AM

    I’m sure you’re right, obooki. It just doesn’t ring completely true. The gang over at David Icke’s webpage (yes, that David Icke) think it might be true so that pretty much clinches it–it must be bogus…

  20. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 27, 2010 8:27 AM

    The Sun smiles down upon our land
    Pampers its flock, and on demand
    Provides the cream to wipe our bum
    A rash-inducing / healing balm

    Though skimpy as chip packaging
    The rag, sleazily managing
    To stain the unwashed with its ink,
    Will always find U-boats to sink

    Reflecting our consumer taste
    It’s solar radiactive waste
    A guide to BIRDS! The price of BEER!
    What is the Sun if not a mirror?

  21. May 27, 2010 9:26 AM

    Merton does seem out of character but I’ve seen him live with the Comedy Store Players many times and he can get flatly abusive with the audience.

    The first out-take could be plausible but the second one doesn’t ring true at all.

  22. Zeph permalink
    May 27, 2010 1:53 PM

    It’s been around for ages, I think it was one of those ‘let’s put this out on the net and see if we can fool the mainstream media’ things. I didn’t think it was nearly funny enough to be genuine, and the fact that no tabloid followed up the allegations about ‘Sarah Cornley’ suggests that they weren’t, in fact, fooled.

    But as it’s either b) fake and defamatory or b) genuine and a breach of copyright, there are some lawyers out there looking to make money – no doubt your crack troops of desert mongeese can keep them off, Prince.

  23. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 27, 2010 1:56 PM

    Sorry, I didn’t realise it could get you proscribed. I’ve no idea if it’s genuine or not. Only seen P Merton once, when he was quite inoffensive, and not all that funny.

    I wouldn’t mind a look at the transcript of the CIA’s Osama gay sex tape.

    ‘When me and Mahmoud met in the showers something clicked immediately. He washed my back and I rinsed out his enormous beard. We went into the sauna together. Talk about the twin towers…’

  24. Zeph permalink
    May 27, 2010 2:28 PM

    * That would be ‘a) fake and defamatory’ – sigh, can’t even remember the beginning of the alphabet now. I’ve always had trouble with the bit after Q anyway.

    Do we think Osama is dead? I read something the other day that said with great authority that he was, but of course I can’t remember where. Actually I think they said either dead or in Dubai, which may not be so different though more expensive. Perhaps it was some comments on President Ahmedinnerjacket’s delightful assertion that ObL was living in Washington (which would probably be better for cruising if that’s his thing).

  25. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 27, 2010 3:28 PM

    Sending the Marines into Washington might be as dangerous as Helmand. Osama would probably decamp to Stoke, if he hasn’t already.

    The gay Saddam tape must have been a stronger candidate. That moustache of his would have added a bit of circumstantial corroboration.

  26. May 27, 2010 4:07 PM

    The gay Saddam tape? Isn’t that South Park the Movie?

    There were rumours that Bin Laden had a dodgy kidney and couldn’t find a decent hospital in the wilds of Afghanistan.

    So still alive in all probability. Does it actually matter or do we believe that with him being dead anti-US/us feeling will die out?

    Seeing that Al Qaeda is just a movement run by a James Bond style super baddie.

    Maybe it is. Will I stop arguing with myself? I dunno.

  27. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 27, 2010 4:11 PM

    Stoke? I meant San Francisco. I’m not suited to multi-tasking. Or unitasking, come to that.

  28. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2010 10:00 AM

    I’m pretty sure I saw Osama riding down Whitechapel High St. on an old sit-up-and-beg lady’s bicycle. Probably on his way to sort out his unemployment benefits. One can imagine the interview:

    DWP official: So, Mr. Bin Laden, what kind of work have you been looking for?

    OBL: Oh, you know…destroying the Great Satan, crashing airliners into skyscrapers, telephone sales…

  29. Captain Ned permalink
    May 28, 2010 11:30 AM

    I have been in considerable pain since yesterday afternoon after having two wisdom teeth removed, but the after-effects of the operation, discomforting though they are, as as nothing compared to the ordeal of having to endure The Jeremy Kyle Show in the waiting room beforehand. I’d never seen the guy in action before, only read about him; I’m not sure if there’s a viler TV presenter currently at work in this country.

    Highlight: ‘Shut it! Look at that sign. What does it say? The JEREMY KYLE Show. I’m talking, so BE QUIET!’

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Morris had a hand in that fake HIGNFY; I know he’s disparaged the show in the past.

  30. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2010 11:54 AM

    Dead Ringers used to do a very accurate parody of Kyle, who appears to be from the same stable of shouty, boorish, ignorant solipsists as John Gaunt. From what mercifully little I’ve seen of the bastard, he’s every bit as vile as you say, Ned.

    Sorry to hear about your dental travails…

  31. May 28, 2010 11:55 AM

    There’s a small ad wanting Destroyers of the Great Satan in the Bury Times today. Only a part-time job though.

    Wisdom teeth? Big commiserations Cap’n

  32. May 28, 2010 12:23 PM

    What’s the part-time rate? I’m looking for work and, quite frankly, an entry-level opportunity in battling the Hellish Lord of Lies and Filth Whose Name is Legion sounds about as appealing as some of the positions I’m having to consider.

    Sorry to hear about your teeth, Ned. I think the tv thing is something they do on purpose to put the forthcoming pain into perspective. I was in the dentist’s recently and was forced to watch an episode of Wife Swap between two US evangelical families. Who would have thought that Christian’s could find so much to disagree about?

  33. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 28, 2010 12:37 PM

    You should have requested the hospital option, Captain. A greater chance of dying on the table, but a lot less painful. I recommend a quantity of whisky, taken orally. Or 10mg of heroin, taken however you wish.

    I didn’t have much time for John Gaunt. That stone set in a silver sea stuff was well over the top.

  34. May 28, 2010 1:04 PM

    Last time I was at the docs a nice film of a blue-tit feeding her young in the nest was turned over so those waiting could watch Come Dine With Me.

    Jesus what a collection of vile, bitchy people , which I suppose ( old fuddy-duddy that I am ) is the point of the programme. Day-time programmes seem more violent than the evening ones.

  35. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2010 1:06 PM

    That wasn’t so bad, MM but then the bugger went and got a radio talk show. All that:

    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
    This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
    Fear’d by their breed and famous by their birth
    Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
    For Christian service and true chivalry

    …malarkey was never going to wow Radio 5 Live drive-time listeners.

    Happily, Ed, daytime TV is terra incognita to me. Watching it is an admission of defeat.

  36. May 28, 2010 1:18 PM

    Me too Mishari – in the day-time TV world everything is a different colour too.

  37. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 28, 2010 1:29 PM

    I enjoyed several episodes of Come Dine With Me (it’s on in the evening as well), but my taste for it has passed. Along with some unbelievably horrible people there were some wonderful moments, like the hostess going to bed after the hors d’oeuvres, which you might never see in a lifetime’s dining. The one on the IW was pretty good too. Knowing a couple of the diners gave it an added piquancy.

    The Mowbrays really cba to go to dinner parties any more, but I suppose there was a time when it was a frequent event. Really boring too, since Mrs M placed an embargo on me cracking any jokes (which, to be fair, were often met with puzzled looks or outright hostility). I can’t remember much of interest happening except for a wife telling her husband to ‘fuckingshutupforGod’ssake’, which created a frisson, and a host getting so pissed he collapsed in the kitchen. Most amusing.

  38. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 28, 2010 1:35 PM

    I forgot the woman who served a mousse made of After Eight mints. We felt sick for days: still makes my guts churn when I think about it.

  39. hic8ubique permalink
    May 28, 2010 1:59 PM

    That was probably product placement for that particular sort of hors d’oeuvres, MM. (Thanks for spelling that for me.)

    Captain, if you have a buff…
    http://www.buff.es/de/index.php?p=DEU
    (and everyone should have at least one)
    you can use it to hold a pair of gel ice-packs one on either side.
    You put it under your chin and over the crown of your head, and it works beautifully leaving your hands free.
    You’ll look a bit like Jacob Marley with mumps in this arrangement.
    If you keep up with icing, 10 min. on/10 min. off, you’ll feel better. So sorry! I hope you are quite young, because it is an increasingly dreadful procedure as you get older.

  40. hic8ubique permalink
    May 28, 2010 2:15 PM

    Or, if you have no buff, you could probably improvise with a length of nylon stocking- about a foot long.
    ok, finished mothering.
    x

  41. Captain Ned permalink
    May 28, 2010 2:17 PM

    Thanks for the sympathy. What I’m dreading is that I still have one left, which at the moment is only just starting to peek out. The dentist assured me that there’s enough room for it, and I can only hope he’s right. The pain I’ve got now is considerably worse than anything I experienced before the bastards were removed.

    After Eight mousse? Is there no end to human depravity?

  42. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 28, 2010 3:48 PM

    I’m afraid not, Captain. My daughter, who must be about your age (early 20s, I surmise) is due to have the full set out when she gets back from the US. She chose the hospital option. I hope she’s able to speak by the time she starts work.

    Do stockings still exist? You might need a vintage clothes store, Captain.

  43. May 28, 2010 3:56 PM

    Cap’n I noticed a Mars bar muffin at my local sandwich shop.

    If it’s reached Bury then London must have fallen months ago.

    I’d imagine the IoW remains defiant but who can tell.

  44. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2010 4:21 PM

    Alternatively, Ned, you could just start piling into that After Eights mousse and those Mars Bars muffins. In a few years time, you’ll have no dentition to trouble you…

  45. May 28, 2010 5:20 PM

    I ate a Mars Bar muffin the other day. But I was in Chelsea, so it was sophistocated.

    Also, has anyone read the Prophet by Kahil Gibran?

    I picked it up the other day because it was a nice, small edition. I’ve not finished it yet but I’m assuming the whole preaching truth and wisdom thing culminates in the smug bastard being strung up il Duce-style by the crowd he’s been patronising for the previous 80 pages.

  46. hic8ubique permalink
    May 28, 2010 5:26 PM

    Of course stockings still exist, MM. Nice ones.
    I just happen to hate the p.h. word so I say ‘tights’ or ‘stockings’, depending…
    Then there’s ‘don’t run upstairs in stocking feet!’ which is different,
    but fondly remembered from a naughty childhood.

    My son had 4 impacted wisdom teeth out last summer when he was 19.
    He looks the sort of person you would hope to hire if you needed a bodyguard,
    and tolerates pain far better than ministrations to alleviate it,
    but he was suffering for a good week,
    and even with narcotics he was grateful for frequent ice.
    Buy your daughter the original buff in advance. I promise you will be her hero.
    (This advice brought to you by Mothers without Borders)

  47. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2010 6:10 PM

    Gibran was the Paulo Coelho of his day and like Coelho, his reputation is a complete mystery to me. I remember reading The Prophet in my teens, after listening to hell’s own amount of gush from various people.

    I thought it was insipid tosh, vaguely spiritual blather for simpletons. The New Yorker critic Joan Acocella, writing of The Prophet a few years ago, put it well:

    Freedom is slavery; waking is dreaming; belief is doubt; joy is pain; death is life. So, whatever you’re doing, you needn’t worry, because you’re also doing the opposite. Such paradoxes…now became his favorite literary device. They appeal not only by their seeming correction of conventional wisdom but also by their hypnotic power, their negation of rational processes.

    Also, the book sounds religious, which it is, in a way. Gibran was familiar with Buddhist and Muslim holy books, and above all with the Bible, in both its Arabic and King James translations. (Those paradoxes of his come partly from the Sermon on the Mount.)

    In “The Prophet” he Osterized all these into a warm, smooth, interconfessional soup that was perfect for twentieth-century readers, many of whom longed for the comforts of religion but did not wish to pledge allegiance to any church, let alone to any deity who might have left a record of how he wanted them to behave.

    It is no surprise that when those two trends—anti-authoritarianism and a nostalgia for sanctity—came together and produced the sixties, “The Prophet” ’s sales climaxed. Nor is the spirit of the sixties gone from our world. It survives in the New Age movement…

  48. May 28, 2010 6:29 PM

    Sounds about right.

    Most of the ‘wisdom’ it contains is of the kind that can be deflected with the phrase ‘no it isn’t’.

    ‘Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour’.

    No it isn’t.

    ‘If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.’

    No it wasn’t.

    ‘And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.’

    No it doesn’t.

    ‘When you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart: ‘your seeds shall live in my body , and the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart.’

    No they won’t.

    You get the idea. Actually, I might try saying that next time I eat an apple and see what happens.

  49. May 28, 2010 6:37 PM

    XB Does the Prophet have such a satisfying ending as the Bible? No it doesn’t.

    Talking of which I remember Anne Atkins on Thought for the Day telling us that the most plausible interpretation of the Easter story was that Jesus died and then came back to life.

    I would have loved to have heard the least plausible interpretation.

  50. May 28, 2010 6:55 PM

    Just finished it. They just let him leave. After all that, they let him walk away.

    The end of the Bible is much, much better. Like listening to Black Sabbath and Slayer at the same time whilst being tattooed to death by Richard Dadd and Louis Wain. In a good way.

  51. May 28, 2010 11:08 PM

    “a warm, smooth, interconfessional soup” – that’s great!

    Bloody Khalil Gibran, for years I couldn’t go to a wedding without having to listen to some pink-faced bridesmaid stumblingly reading an extract from The Prophet. Not only did he write sententious tosh, he had the cheek to admit it and pretend it was a deliberate ploy to open your mind:
    “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you”. Yeah, right.

  52. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 28, 2010 11:32 PM

    Thanks for the tip about the buff, hic. Glad to hear your son is not a whiner like so many young people today. I’m prepared to take your word for it that stockings still exist, but finding them for people with legs a foot long can’t be easy.

    I heard that the Easter story was an insurance scam. Having pulled in the shekels with the shaman thing, Jesus and his backers (thought to be some Roman grifters) went for a final big score. They insured him for a few million sesterces with the Prudentius, induced the Sadducees to denounce him and bunged Pilate to wash his hands. The crucifixion team was duly bent, and after a few lucrative post-death appearances Jesus was spirited out of the country. He spent the rest of his life as a financial adviser in Pompeii, where he authored a book of tax advice, Jesus Can Save You – A Fortune! and a pamphlet, Eruption – Pull The Other One! He died in 79AD.

    I like your description of the Book of Revelation, Exit.

  53. obooki permalink
    May 29, 2010 12:46 AM

    You expect any insurance company would have paid out when there were witnesses who were prepared to testify they’d seen him living after he was supposed to be dead.

    The truth is, Jesus made a fortune going short on loaves and fishes, not to mention wine – and the market mysteriously collapsed through oversupply. He faked his own death, and rumours are moved to Glastonbury.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 29, 2010 12:17 PM

      I must say I’m shocked by your grounds for dismissing that tidy theory, obooki. Surely a scholar of Roman history such as yourself would have no problem estimating the relative value, in official terms, of an Imperial issue Certificatus Mortem against the fantastical gossiping of a bevy of scruffy Jews. Argumentum ab auctoritate fortissimum est in lege!

      Flicking through ‘The Quest For The Historical Jesus’ I find no reference to your stock market hypothesis. However, Schweitzer does mention the conjecture that Jesus was in fact a woman. So anxious was Mary for a boy, the reasoning goes, that she dressed and treated the infant as a boy in her youth, leading to Jesus maintaining the imposture through his adult life. A portly woman, when hung bare-chested on the Cross her breasts were mistaken for moobs. Only when she was removed from the Cross and stripped ready for washing was it discovered that she was missing, as Schweitzer delicately puts it, her ‘emblem of male identity’. Subsequently the body was disposed of and a ringer, possibly one of Jesus’ brothers (or sisters) took her place in the tomb.

  54. hic8ubique permalink
    May 29, 2010 2:01 AM

    That ubiquitous wedding quotation is my bleak association, Zephirine, and yes, sententious was the word that came to my mind as well.
    I suppose The Prophet may be safely stricken from the long list of books I ought to have read by now.

    Exit, I’ve gathered along the way that your name is not meant to suggest Nadine at closing time, but I keep thinking it: Exit Bar, Nadine.

    Speaking of ‘be my friend’, I find I’ve not been able to love Facebook. I’ve tried, but something about the joinery of it puts me off. Musicians and photographers are doing well with it, maybe you too EdwardT? And our friend Jack Brae Curtingstall, under that name, has been posting a succession of his minims there. I’ve been enjoying them occasionally when I remember to look at Fbook…

    ‘effortless sweep / of the swan’s wings / the field moves backwards’
    ~~~

    ‘night owns the path home / a puddle my sudden shoe’
    ~~~

    ‘dredging the morning haze / craneflies’

    I just chose those three for no particular reason, since they all seem to me to have a lovely meditative quality.Anyone missing Jack will be rewarded by a visit.

  55. May 29, 2010 9:16 AM

    hic I avoid Facebook, Twitter like the plague.

    Most musicians I know use MySpace which seems to function well as advertising for both gigs and music clips. But they say, as with any advertising it’s a pain to maintain and keep up to date or find the comment section full of questions like “Wot r u doin?” from people you’ve never met.

  56. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2010 10:06 AM

    I signed up for facebook with a bogus name, just for snooping purposes and discovered that a couple of my namesakes (first and second cousins) had ‘friends’ that they couldn’t possibly know–who were, in fact, friends of mine. They’d assumed there would only be one person with my name and become ‘friends’ with total strangers.

    So I opened an account in my proper name and birthdate, thinking that old friends I’d lost touch with could find me, only to be inundated with messages and ‘invitations’ from people I’d devoutly hoped never to see or hear from again. So I deleted my account. So much for my brief facebook experience.

    As for Twitter, I’d rather poke my eyes out with meat-skewers.

    Did you hear Gerry Robinson on Today, Ed? He was actually quite sensible about the proposed 3% cuts to Arts Council budgets. Said they were being unfairly penalised for managing their budget well.

    I just watched a terrific Chilean film called ‘Tony Manero’. Read a review HERE. I think you’d like it.

  57. May 29, 2010 11:06 AM

    I think it’s a 4% cut Mishari, more than any other dept. – easy to do and an acknowledgement that no-one really gives a toss. This lot seem intent on shifting the blame onto public spending rather than the mismanagement of banks.

    and in many ways why should the public give a toss? When belts are tightened art probably is a luxury compared to education. The current lot at the Arts Council are bank managers rather than those with knowledge and expertise so they can’t make good arguments. However with a 20% cut expected in the Autumn and the real damage being done in local government cuts it all looks a bit bleak.

    Great to see the government has their first big scandal and from the man who’s been instrumental in cutting and slashing. A new kind of government? Same old shit and I think even Blair had a longer honeymoon.

  58. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2010 11:15 AM

    And speaking of deranged/hilarious politicians, check out this clown:

  59. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2010 11:26 AM

    …and this one, which had me almost weeping with laughter. British politics seem somehow a bit drab compared to the lunacy of the US:

  60. May 29, 2010 11:41 AM

    I thought the Dale Peterson clip was an out-take from Breaking Bad.

    The editing makes him look like Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout.

  61. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2010 11:54 AM

    Speaking of Breaking Bad, season 3 ends in a fortnight, so I’ll send you (and XB) a copy, and Tony Manero, which I recommend highly…

  62. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 29, 2010 12:43 PM

    I just can’t get excited about the World Cup. Normally by now I would have my wall-chart up and be laying in the stocks of alcohol and crisps. The TV broke down a couple of days ago and I’m not even harassing the repair git. What’s wrong with me? (rhetorical question).

    Maybe it’s South Africa. All those years of despising the place make it difficult to take seriously as a country. Or it could be the thought of seeing England lose again. After forty years perhaps my optimism is finally exhausted.

  63. May 29, 2010 1:02 PM

    Mishari – why thank you. There’s a Chilean street theatre show where a character fantasises about being Travolta during the ups and downs of its recent past which came out at the same time as Tony Manero.

    Lawyers looked into it apparently and found it to be remarkable coincidence – you wait for one Chilean show about Travolta and two come along at the same time. I’ll look forward to it.

    MM The one thing you can be sure of is that all the players featured in the preview ads on TV will be crocked by the time it comes to playing. They’re showing Torres a lot but it’s not entirely certain he’ll play

  64. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2010 1:15 PM

    With a joint salary of about £280,000 they (Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper) can easily afford the nanny, but Balls sympathises with those who struggle to meet the huge costs of childcare.–The Times, April 27

    That Ed Balls…he’s all heart.

    Starr was arrested last week at home amid scenes described by prosecutors in court that sounded straight from a crime movie (my italics). When federal agents arrived at his door, Passage told them her husband was not at home. But as they started to trawl through the apartment, Starr was found hiding in a walk-in closet after agents spotted his shoes sticking out from under clothing.–The Grauniad, today

    A crime movie? Really? Which one? Scarface Meets Jimmy Choo? Mind you, hiding in a closet is never a good idea: ask David Laws…

  65. May 29, 2010 9:04 PM

    Department of unintentional irony: during the election, having seen David Laws being interviewed on TV and actually speaking clear and reasonably unequivocal English, I posted a comment somewhere on CiF to the effect that ‘he seemed to have integrity and if he could keep his hands clean in the coalition he might do very well for the LibDems in the future’.

    Well, I guess he does have some integrity since he’s just resigned. Clean hands, maybe not so much.

  66. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 29, 2010 11:19 PM

    As several people have pointed out, if Laws wanted to keep his relationship quiet the way to do it was not to make any claim at all. Since (we’re told) he’s a millionaire he didn’t need the money. Barmy.

    Rather a touching article by Yvette on why she’s not standing for Leader. I sympathise with her. Who would want Mr Balls looking after their children?

  67. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2010 11:52 PM

    It beggars belief, dunnit? Here’s a man, a millionaire, being paid £65 grand a year plus endless perks and expenses and he still feels the need to claim some piddling sum (£80 a week, I think the figure is). I sometimes wonder if these people are quite sane. Jacqui Smith and her 80p bath-plug, Hogg with his moat, McShane with his 5 laptops a year…

    Pinhead Yvette is too dim to grasp that she and her ilk are the reason Labour are so widely detested…the reason she’s not standing is the same reason that I won’t be entering this year’s Rachmaninoff competition…

  68. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 30, 2010 11:44 PM

    Laws isn’t much of a looker, I must say. He must have a GSOH, or other assets which aren’t visible.

    Gove gets Niall Ferguson to rewrite the History curriculum. I suppose they’re lining up David Irving to do the Nazis.

  69. InvisibleJack permalink
    May 31, 2010 3:38 PM

    Hi Mish and friends

    It’s been an absolute honour to have been a guest in this fine place all these months, but I find myself so stretched with commitments and personal projects that I’m leaving the longer blog-poetry aside for awhile, so I’ll beg my leave of you into the near future if I may.

    I’ll keep my eyes on you from time to time though, and some day maybe I’ll return with a poem or two. I hope you’ll have me back.

    As Hic points out further upthread, you’ll find me on facebook if you care to call. I don’t do chat or any of that bollocks, so don’t fear. As always, only poetry can move me. For the time being though, as Hic (again) has already spotted, I’m a mimimalist poet, so I won’t keep you all day if you do pop your heads my way.

    Keep the faith my friends.
    It’s been an honour;
    your comrade in verse
    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  70. May 31, 2010 6:43 PM

    Having had Gerald Kauman as an MP who was always very good on a local level I was shocked to find he’d been dipping his hand in the till as well.

    Obviously many of them are greedy little twisters but I wonder if they are getting bad advice about these expenses from somewhere. A tax advisor will tell anyone to claim for as much as possible so I wonder if MP’s are following suit, the blunder being that they haven’t considered how it plays with the public.

    Good luck with your ventures Jack.

  71. mishari permalink*
    May 31, 2010 7:16 PM

    Sorry, Ed but that won’t wash. What kind of MP charges the taxpayer for a £5000 flat-screen TV while the govt he supports foams at the mouth about ‘dole scroungers’ on £65 a week? He needs ‘advice’ on that? Just how stupid and entitled is the son of a bitch?

    I suppose we must be grateful Kaufmann didn’t have a bloody moat or the damn thing would have been filled with pink champagne at our expense.

    Happy trails, Jack. Do drop in now and then…

    I see Israel is busily making friends again. The stupidity and cruelty of successive Israeli govts never fails to astonish me. They can’t see troubled water without pouring more troubled water on it. They make Ahmedinnerjacket look like a decent and humane man and that takes some doing…

  72. May 31, 2010 7:53 PM

    Mishari I’m not defending it but ordinary businesses have an amazing ammount and variety of things they can claim for.

    If you’re a foreign diplomat the Per Diem expenses are eye-openingly phenomenal – 10 years ago we worked for the British Council in Oman for 8 days. I tried my best but I could only spend one and a half day’s worth of per diems in 8 days. Their per diem expenses totted up over a year were about twice what I was earning and the diplomats on this earn a 5 figure wage as well.

    The MP’s problems were that they were completely divorced from reality.

  73. mishari permalink*
    May 31, 2010 8:29 PM

    Fair enough, Ed. The problem is that while diplomats are sent abroad to ‘lie for their country’ (in, I think, Disraeli’s words) and the expenses of business-men is between them and their shareholders, MPs not only legislate, telling people what they may in good conscience claim as a tax write-off etc, but MPs are directly employed by and paid by the citizenry, whom they never tire of lecturing about their profligate ways.

    When the bastards say ‘we must tighten our belts’, the ‘we’ never includes them.

    It’s the goddamn mind-boggling hypocrisy of these seedy fuckers that amazes and infuriates…

  74. May 31, 2010 8:31 PM

    Once you decide that the business model is the only measure of efficiency, and start pretending that every public service organisation is a business, then people towards the top of those organisations start seeing themelves as Directors and CEOs and expecting pay and perks accordingly. It’s happened all over – GPs getting over a hundred grand a year for fewer hours, because their practice is a little business now; and don’t get me started on the BBC.

    MPs need to stop seeing themselves a senior managers of UKplc and rediscover a vision of the public good, but there’s fat chance of that with CallMeDave and Little Georgie Osborne at the helm.

  75. May 31, 2010 9:45 PM

    I agree Zeph the tragedy of the Thatcher/Major/Blair and Brown years ( and probably the Cameron/Milliband ones too) is that theyy’ve turned everything into a customer/shop-keeper dynamic.

  76. mishari permalink*
    June 1, 2010 8:43 AM

    Al-Qaeda’s number three leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, has been killed, reports say.

    Mr Yazid, also known as Sheikh Said al-Masri, died along with his wife and three children.

    US officials say they believe he was killed recently in the tribal areas of Pakistan in an American drone attack. –bbc.co.uk

    I wish someone would explain to me how killing a man’s wife and three children differs from ‘terrorism’…

  77. June 1, 2010 11:22 AM

    I think you’d need to go to Israeli foreign diplomats to get that explained.

    They’re doing a pretty thorough job trying to legitamise the latest bit of “self-defence”.

  78. mishari permalink*
    June 1, 2010 11:29 AM

    Charlatan physicians have performed at least 100 bogus penis-enlargement operations in Thailand. The operations involve injections of a mixture of olive oil, chalk, and various other substances. A Chiang Mai hospital official said that he had even see victims’ penises containing portions of the Bangkok telephone directory–The Bangkok Post, Oct. 1993

    There used to be a phone company ad campaign, (here or in the US, I can’t recall) that ended with the tag-line “Reach out and touch someone”. Now I know what they meant…

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