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The Psycho Path

June 1, 2010



Dennis Hopper, Star of Super Mario Bros, Dead at 74

Hey, man, you don’t talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean, sometimes he’ll, uh, well, you’ll say “Hello” to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you, and he won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say “Do you know that ‘if’ is the middle word in life? ‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you’…” – I mean, I’m no, I can’t – I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s, he’s a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas – I mean –…

–Dennis Hopper as the photo-journalist in Apocalypse Now

Don’t be a good neighbour anymore to her. I’ll have to send you a love letter! Straight from my heart, fucker! You know what a love letter is? It’s a bullet from a fucking gun, fucker! You receive a love letter from me, and you’re fucked forever! You understand, fuck? I’ll send you straight to hell, fucker!… In dreams… I walk with you. In dreams… I talk to you. In dreams, you’re mine… all the time. Forever. –Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth in Blue Velvet

I was 14 years old when I first became aware of Dennis Hopper. I suppose I must have seen him earlier than that, in other films including his first, Rebel Without A Cause, but I guess he hadn’t made much of an impression.

In the summer of 1969, a group of us went to see Easy Rider in downtown Boston, Mass. Beforehand, we smoked a few joints to get ourselves into the right counter-culture mood (we were precocious yoofs and, with the intense self-absorption of 14 year-olds, considered ourselves dangerous rebels).

In high spirits, we sat through the Coming Attractions stuff, chattering happily. A hippy sitting behind us leaned forward and said Be cool, man.

We all turned around and looked him over. Long, carefully tended hair? Check. Little, John Lennon-style granny-glasses? Check. Pancho Villa-moustache? Check. Reeking of patchouli oil? Check. We cracked up laughing.

Be cool, man, we admonished one another. Be cool, man…we must have repeated the phrase with varying degrees of scorn and sarcasm 50 times. I’ll bet he wished he’d kept his lentil-sucking mouth shut.

I loved the film. Loved the music, loved Jack Nicholson but I especially liked Hopper’s character, Billy. He was seedier, rougher, more ‘authentic’ than Peter Fonda’s character–and he had a better bike.

Fonda, playing Wyatt, was entirely too image conscious, too concerned with looking the part, too well-groomed, well-designed, well-shod and well-coiffed. And his bike was an absolute joke. To ride that heap of shit on anything other than a long, flat, straight road would be a nightmare.

So Hopper it was. After that, I kept an eye out for him. He appeared in an awful lot of crap but the high points were very high indeed.

He was especially good in roles that called for the character to be tormented, driven, demon-haunted or just flat-out fucking bat-shit crazy. And he was a terrific villain. Any idiot can be the hero, the ‘good guy’; but it takes a certain kind of actor to be convincing as the ‘bad guy’. Hopper was convincing.

In an industry that’s increasingly populated by surgically-enhanced, glossy-haired, impeccably-toothed clones who are perfectly capable (in Dorothy Parker’s unimprovable phrase) of running the gamut of emotions from A to B, Hopper will be missed.

Thanks for all the moments, Dennis. I expect you and the Devil will get along just fine.

  1. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    June 1, 2010 11:41 AM

    i’m down the roxy friday night
    see easy rider – outtasight.
    a tale of big hogs on the road
    with hippie bikers à la mode.

    we’ve caught a toke, a brew or two.
    i’m copacetic – big bambu.
    the trailers start. these flat-top whelps
    in front are barking, i try to help.

    i tap a shoulder, “be cool, man.”
    it’s like i’m rowan et martin.
    the dipsticks piss themselves throughout
    the ads, leaving me real bummed out.

    end credits roll, the curtain’s down
    fixing to leak; and in the john
    i see a pup, hand on his tail.
    i spin him around. he gives a wail.

    my strides go dark. i give a “damn!”
    i’m growling. he goes: “be cool, man.”
    i told him straight, with my boot leather
    that piss and love don’t go together.

  2. mishari permalink*
    June 1, 2010 11:58 AM

    So it was you, you hippy bastard. I might have known…

  3. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 1, 2010 2:38 PM

    I’ve never been a motorcycle man,
    for lengthy trips I like a caravan
    in general it’s a more civilised spot
    for sexual intercourse or smoking pot
    than an ad hoc bivvy in a forest,
    a prey to mosquitos and other pests.

    And the security of a mobile home
    would save you from the redneck mobs who roam
    American woodlands with their wrecking bars
    hopoing to make some hippy heads see stars.

    No disrespect, of course, to Mr Hopper,
    and none to your love for Dennis’ chopper.

  4. June 1, 2010 3:56 PM

    When Hopper hit form the cinema was blitzed
    It’s for those parts that he will be mitzed.
    Not the other parts though
    They were a very poor show

  5. mishari permalink*
    June 1, 2010 5:46 PM

    When Hopper snarled or barked or bit
    Or just gave off an air of menace
    He never looked a total twit
    Despite the fact his name was ‘Dennis’.

  6. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 1, 2010 10:54 PM

    He wasn’t too keen on Dennis,
    so when he came round to my place
    for beer and a game of tennis
    he was usually known as ‘Space’.

  7. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 2, 2010 12:08 AM

    He had an accident one day
    tripped over a garden lopper
    lost some toes I’m sorry to say
    that’s why they call him Hopper.

  8. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 2, 2010 12:14 AM

    I’m struggling to think of a film he was good in, apart from Blue Velvet. I remember my sister-in-law telling me BV was the most repulsive film she had ever seen (she had nightmares about it for a while), so naturally I made a mental note to see it asap. I must say it had the same effect on me- great film, amazing performance from Hopper, but I never want to see it again.

  9. obooki permalink
    June 2, 2010 1:10 AM

    The Trip?

    Talking of bad films, I’ve just been watching National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the most ridiculous pro-American nonsense. (This has none of your namby-pamby Arab terrorists. The bad guys in this include: the English and the Confederates). – The thing I enjoyed about it the most was its appropriation of Mexican culture. They find a lost city of gold – indeed, an Olmec lost city of gold. And where is this city? Is it in the gulf of Mexico? Perhaps around the area of Veracruz? – No, it’s 2000 miles away, in the US, in the black hills of Dakota. – After all, we all know there’s nothing worthwhile in Mexico.

  10. mishari permalink*
    June 2, 2010 8:05 AM

    I saw the first National Treasure film, which was OK-ish in a Sunday-afternoon-sprawled-on-the-couch-with-a-hangover sort of way. Ridiculous twaddle, of course. What were you expecting? Historical accuracy? What a dreamer you are…

    MM, you don’t rate Hopper in Apocalypse Now? Or as Tom Ripley in The American Friend (Wim Wender’s very loose adaption of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game)? As Clifford in True Romance? As the drunken ex-basketball star in Hoosiers? As the bad guy in Speed? As Moon in True Grit? As small-time crook Red Diamond in Boiling Point?

  11. June 2, 2010 8:48 AM

    Blue Velvet is the one for me – it’s like a bad dream. I also liked the clash between teenage innocence and a sordid adult world.

    When I was 16 I used to spend weekends in Bath ( then a hub of alternative kulchur such as it was ). There were a lot of older blokes who used to prey on the naivete of the young.

    But True Romance? Not for me. I thought it came across as a slick Hollywood attempt to do a Lynch.

  12. mishari permalink*
    June 2, 2010 8:53 AM

    Ed, True Romance wasn’t Tarantino at the top of his form (reached, in my opinion, in Reservoir Dogs) but Hopper’s 10 minute death scene with Christopher Walken was a tour de force

  13. cellaroseus permalink
    June 2, 2010 8:55 AM

    Be cool man… a whelp replies

    What became of Dennis Hopper
    Coke fiend and wild pill popper?

    I ‘m told he took up the game of art
    and sissy stuff like that
    the tart.

    Apparently a young DH persuaded Marcel Duchamp to sign a hotel sign thereby creating his very own, and no doubt valuable ready-made.

    My fave Hopper film was “Out of the Blue”. Far tighter and less self-indulgent than “Easy Rider” imho. As an acting performance though Killer Frank takes some beating.

  14. mishari permalink*
    June 2, 2010 9:16 AM

    Good call, cella. I’d forgotten Out Of The Blue. Fine and unfairly under-rated film.

    Liked this, from Patrick Cockburn in today’s Indy:

    An old Israeli saying describing various less-than-esteemed military leaders says: “He was so stupid that even the other generals noticed.” The same derisive remark could be applied almost without exception to the present generation of Israeli politicians.

  15. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 2, 2010 11:23 AM

    Perhaps I should have said films he was more than competent in. I haven’t seen about half of those mentioned, but in, say, Speed, I can’t see that he brought anything to the role that a hundred other actors couldn’t. The same goes for Apocalypse Now. I couldn’t even remember him in True Romance, which suggests that he didn’t make much of an impression or my memory is worse than I thought. Yes, all right.

    I seem to find David Lynch particularly unnnerving. I think I mentioned that seeing Eraserhead gave me the creeps. Mental note: AVOID.

  16. obooki permalink
    June 2, 2010 12:23 PM

    What I expect is some level of plausibility and coherence; – some point when, during the “script-writing”, someone paused for a moment and declared, this plot doesn’t make any sense from beginning to end; there’s not a scene in this work on which any of us seems to have expended any thought. – Also, yes, historical accuracy, why not? – Isn’t that usually the one virtue people cling to when things are badly written and plotted?

  17. mishari permalink*
    June 2, 2010 12:47 PM

    In Hollywood? In a Disney film? Oh, very droll…you had me going there for a minute.

  18. June 2, 2010 5:00 PM

    obooki I think Hollywood has decided that films are fairground thrill rides these days so as long as the chases/ explosions/ CGI fx keep coming the audience will be distracted away from the plausibility of what’s happening. Series like Lost or 24 seem to be based on that assumption.

    But there’s always one who won’t play ball isn’t there?

    True Romance was a Tarantino script but it was directed by the vile Tony Scott. I don’t care for Tarantino but we’ve done that debate already I think.

  19. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 2, 2010 5:21 PM

    What’s the problem with Tony Scott?

  20. June 2, 2010 5:27 PM

    Man on Fire with Denzel Washington which is a justification for torture. Plus Top Gun and True Romance. I can’t believe any of his films are, beyond the explosions and flash, actually any good.

    er that’s it.

  21. mishari permalink*
    June 2, 2010 6:18 PM

    I agree with you. Scott’s just another product of the advertising industry, like his older brother Ridley, only far less talented. Ridley often disappoints but the talent’s there. Tony? Pfffttt…

  22. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 3, 2010 12:06 AM

    Oh, I see. Well, I certainly didn’t enjoy Top Gun. Man on Fire I haven’t seen. Actually, I barely remember any of True Romance except a vague image of breaking glass. It occurred to me after writing the above on Lynch that I recently watched Twin Peaks: Fire walk with me and liked it a lot. Perhaps I’ll have to rethink my position.

  23. mishari permalink*
    June 4, 2010 9:00 AM

    Poor old Mowbray…everyone’s piling in to give you a kicking over on the Hay poster poems…and Lo! Phil Ben Marlowe’s name led the rest…

  24. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    June 4, 2010 10:16 AM

    phil&fran united
    challenge mowbray’s literacy
    and his mojo unrequited.
    is this down to jealousy?

  25. mishari permalink*
    June 4, 2010 10:49 AM

    Not at all. Just a heart-felt cry for justice. The anti-Mowbray movement is gathering momentum. His boarding of the Ryde ferry and making abusive remarks to a group of holidaying Tyneside grannies has turned the tide of world opinion…

  26. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    June 4, 2010 10:53 AM

    I am at this very moment raising an army of pensioners in Milford-on-Sea, ready to rendez-vous with Mowbray’s forces at a café in Lymington High Street, whence to march on Hay. Now, if I could just get this old Nissan started…

  27. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 4, 2010 1:45 PM

    I’m going to be late. My hangover is killing me.

  28. hic8ubique permalink
    June 4, 2010 6:06 PM

    If photos really were the test, there would be no competition whatsoever!
    but what is ‘slap’?

  29. mishari permalink*
    June 4, 2010 10:59 PM

    hic, ‘slap’ is make-up.

    …his landlady was, in fact, prepared for a certain amount of unsociable disturbance when she took him (Shane McGowan) on as a tenant. The blood, however, alarmed her, along with the fact that in one hand he had been holding a half-eaten Beach Boys record, their Greatest Hits, Volume Three.

    When I arrived, in my capacity as the girlfriend, to sort things out, Shane calmed down enough to explain to me that he had taken 15 or 20 tabs of acid earlier in the evening, and had become convinced that the third world war was taking place and that he, as the leader of the Irish republic, was holding a summit meeting in his kitchen between the heads of state of the world superpowers, Russia, China, America and Ireland. In order to demonstrate the cultural inferiority of the United States, he was eating a Beach Boys album.

    That’ll do it…

  30. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 4, 2010 11:57 PM

    I quite like a BreakAway myself.

    I didn’t want to let The Gaza Diet pass without saying what a good poem it is. It should have a more prominent spot.

  31. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 5, 2010 12:01 AM

    I wonder where freep’s disappeared to. He must have finished that fence by now. Unless he’s making a double ring to protect himself from faux-Irish poetasters.

  32. mishari permalink*
    June 5, 2010 12:06 AM

    Are we sure that freep didn’t go on a shotgun rampage? That seems to be the thing around his way.

    Thanks. I wrote that in a fury at parisa’s knee-jerk support for Israel. BTW, I’ve just finished a fantastic book about Haiti, written at the end of the 80s, called Bonjour Blanc: A Journey Through Haiti by Ian Thomson. Fascinating stuff, alternately hilarious, melancholy and downright frightening. I’ll pass it along if you fancy it…

    I had the following message on the PH youtube channel a day or two ago:

    I composed this song.
    Piero Amadeo Infante,
    Original Vocalist and founder of Los Mocosos

    I replied:

    I hope you don’t mind what I did with your great song, which I love.

    To which he answered:

    no! it was great!!!? I really appreciate it! thanks!

    I love it when this happens….this is the track I mean, a sort of nuevo salsa track I posted ages ago:

  33. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 5, 2010 12:43 AM

    Sounds interesting. Thanks. I’ve been trying to get through Mary Beard’s Pompeii, but it’s not exactly a page-turner at the moment.

    How do these musos come across PH Music Channel? Is it just by googling themselves, or do youtube give them a nudge?

    My head’s still bursting. Must go to bed.

  34. mishari permalink*
    June 5, 2010 12:53 AM

    Search me. I’m guessing they search youtube periodically to see if anyone’s posted anything of theirs. Bit hungover, are you? Tsk-tsk…I must send you one of my improving tracts. The one on self-denial and the wages of sin, I think…

    Just came across this gem:

    During the female weightlifting competition at the 2000 Olympics (the first time women were allowed to compete in weightlifting I think, I may be wrong), a burly Bulgarian weightlifter walks on to the platform. As she is preparing to lift, the commentator, regarding her chances, says:

    “I saw her snatch in training this morning, and I have to say it was magnificent”

    Later in the same broadcast:

    ‘now, let’s see the jerk. Remember, she already has a record breaking snatch under her belt…..’

  35. hic8ubique permalink
    June 5, 2010 4:46 AM

    I feel my grasp of slang being tested more than once~ Thanks for the translation, your RH.
    Sorry I was rude, Vicar, (on the HayPP) but you said your wife was ‘dowdy’ somewhere (here?), so I had it in for you.
    ‘Bad form, Father M!’

    Somehow, I must have missed this PH Music Channel feature in my earlier run-through, so though I thought the Werner Kerns were done in for the evening, I had them out again and gave it a go. (Salsa is addictive in the best possible way.)
    I’ll order the book, Mishari, on your say-so. My beautiful salsa teacher, Hedwige, is a political refugee from Haiti.
    Also wondering about the noble freep… and ready to dream of chocolate… a poignant poem indeed, your H.

  36. mishari permalink*
    June 5, 2010 5:19 AM

    It really is a splendid book, hic. I recommend it enthusiastically. I knew very little about Haiti, aside from the usual stuff that most people know (first black republic, voodoo, Papa Doc etc) so the book was an eye-opener.

    The author, Ian Thomson just won the Ondaatje Prize for The Dead Yard, a book about Jamaica:

    I think I’m right in saying that the Ondaatje Prize is the gift of Christoper Ondaatje, whose brother Michael wrote The English Patient amongst other things…

    I also recommend another book I just started called Mirrors Of The Unseen: Journeys In Iran by Jason Elliot. His last book, An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan (1999) was superb and this one’s shaping up to be just as good.

  37. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 5, 2010 9:57 AM

    I had ‘The Black Jacobins’, by CLR James, pressed on me a few years ago. It’s an excellent account of Toussaint L’Ouverture’s rebellion. The material about slavery is truly horrifying. You should read it (if you haven’t already).

    That poem wasn’t autobiographical, hic. I’m not an English nationalist either. I am quite scruffy, though.

  38. mishari permalink*
    June 5, 2010 10:08 AM

    I’ve not only read it but spent a memorable afternoon in CLR James’ company when I first moved to Brixton. An exceptionally charming man, and knowing something of his life, I longed to question him in depth but he was easily tired (and in fact died some six months later) so I forebore and confined myself to fetching him cups of lemon tea and letting the conversation drift at his will.

    I came across this wonderful bit of memoir from Claud Cockburn (whose autobiography I, Claud I can’t recommend highly enough) that I simply have to share:

    Early in the Spanish Civil War I was what, if one were inclined to pomposity, might be called a section leader of the counterespionage department of the Spanish Republican Government dealing with Anglo-Saxon personalities. My job was principally to vet applications by British and Americans for visas to enter Republican Spain.

    It was, as I realized rather late, a “no win” situation for me. Either I allowed in some supposed friend of the Republic who turned out to be a secret enemy, in which case I could very well be shot as a saboteur. Or, overcautiously avoiding this risk, I might exclude some character suspect to me who would later turn out to be a loyal friend of the Republic and a potentially powerful propagandist in its cause. Saboteur again.

    It was under these circumstances that I had to consider the application for a visa for Basil Murray, son of Professor Gilbert Murray, whose family and connections were luminaries of the British liberal academic and political world. I was astonished, and more than a little suspicious, when Basil, in making his application, explained that having hitherto lived the life of a roustabout at Oxford and layabout in London, he had suddenly seen the light and wished to dedicate himself to the cause of the Republic. Specifically, he wanted to give radio talks from Valencia, where the government was now established.

    Knowing and liking Basil, but still not quite convinced of the strength of his new resolutions, I discussed his application with the Foreign Minister, who thought that I was mad even to consider rejecting the son of so distinguished a figure in Britain who was as well the cousin of the British Foreign Secretary. (This last was untrue, a detail invented by Basil to help in obtaining his visa.)

    Basil came to Valencia, and with much sweat and dedication produced several excellent broadcasts. Then he suddenly fell in love with a girl of whom one may say that had she had the words I am a Nazi spy printed on her hat, that could hardly have made her position clearer than it was. I reasoned with Basil, but found him besotted with love and convinced that, in some bigoted way, I was deliberately thinking ill of this splendid creature.

    Just as my arguments ran finally into a blind alley, the girl herself suddenly quit the Republic for Berlin in the company of a high-ranking officer of the International Brigade who proved also to be an agent of the enemy. Although I was naturally careful not to belabor Basil with I-told-you-sos, he fell into a deep melancholy both at the loss of the loved one and the disclosure of her political vileness.

    Soon after, wandering bitterly disconsolate along the quays of Valencia’s harbor, he saw a tiny street menagerie of the kind that in those days was a common form of popular entertainment in Spain. The little group included an ape. And this ape, Basil said, was the first living creature that–since the defection of the Nazi agent–had looked at him with friendly sympathy. He bought the ape and took it with him to the Victoria Hotel, which was the hotel housing all visiting VIPs.

    The next I knew, I received a call from the management of the Victoria, who said furiously that they had already strained themselves to the limit by putting up all the foreign visitors I had recommended, and that now, by God, my latest protege was demanding a room for an ape.

    After I had pointed out that there were apes enough already living in the hotel, so that one more would hardly be noticed, it was agreed that Basil be moved to a room with a large bathroom, in which the ape might be accommodated.

    This arrangement worked well enough for a matter of forty-eight hours. Then Basil, still disconsolate despite the friendly eyes of the ape, drank heavily and fell asleep naked on his bed in the fierce humid heat of a Valencia afternoon.

    He had locked the ape in the bathroom, but the ingenious and friendly animal became bored with this isolation and longed for the company of its new master. Somehow it picked the lock of the bathroom door and came into the bedroom looking for a game or frolic.

    Finding the new master disappointingly unresponsive, the ape made vigorous efforts to rouse him, biting him over and over again and finally in frustration biting through his jugular vein.

    Apart from my personal regret at the loss of my old acquaintance, I was compelled to see that the situation would be politically damaging. One could surmise at once what a hostile British press would make of the news that a brilliant young Englishman of distinguished family had sought to work for the Red Republic, and had, within a very short time, been bitten to death by an ape. It was possible quickly to announce that Basil had died of pneumonia as a result of the treacherous Valencia climate.

    It was also arranged that the British Government should send a light cruiser or frigate from its Mediterranean fleet for the purpose of carrying Basil back to Britain. A small cortege of suitable officials from the Republican Foreign Office accompanied the remains to the quayside. It was only when the remains were being moved to the cutter for transfer onto the frigate that a member of the cortege noticed that they had been joined by the ape. It sprang into the stern sheets of the cutter.

    Faithfully, it followed Basil up the companionway. It appeared on the spotless deck and there, in a gesture suitable for solemn occasions (learned, no doubt, from the owner of the menagerie), it raised its fist in the Red Front salute.

    A British warrant officer–having doubtless been warned of the dangerous and even bestial character of the Reds and of the necessity for vigilance while the ship was in a Red harbor–reacted swiftly, drew a pistol and shot the ape dead. Its body fell overboard and disappeared into the Mediterranean. Basil, I believe, had a fine funeral in England, and the episode was closed.

    But not really. For weeks afterwards I was pestered by the menagerie owner demanding compensation and heart-balm for his grief at the demise of the ape. He said that when he had sold it to Basil he had not at all envisaged the possibility that the creature would be brutally murdered by the forces of British imperialism, shooting down that helpless animal as ruthlessly as they had shot down innumerable people throughout the Empire.

    In addition, the British diplomatic mission to Republican Spain immediately spread the story that we, the Republicans, meaning in this case me, had murdered Basil-poison in the wine, one of them said. Anarchists and others suspicious of the coalition government somehow spread a story that through the government’s carelessness or connivance, a British agent had been introduced, and then killed when on the verge of damaging exposure.

    Enemies of the Murray family, and those disgusted that Basil should have worked for the Republic, spread in England the story that Basil had had improper relations with the ape. They even, I found later, substituted a bear.

    As late as the 1950s a close and loving relative of Basil’s was delighted to hear from me the true story, which confirmed the genuineness of Basil’s determination to do something constructive with his life-however grotesque the actual outcome.

  39. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 5, 2010 5:04 PM

    It must have been an honour to meet the chap. The book is superb, and was pressed on me by one of the few (at that time) black residents of the IW, to whom it had been an inspiration.

    Great chimp story. On the Seinfeld DVD one of the writers talks about visiting the zoo as a kid with his parents. As they approach the apes’ enclosure they see some men throwing stones at the chimps. A couple of zookeepers appear and start remonstrating with the men, who say, ‘They started it!’

  40. hic8ubique permalink
    June 5, 2010 5:51 PM

    I was telling off your aged impotent alter ego, MM, but even then I suffer remorse, though scruffiness is a serious infraction.

    And no, I never took either you or him for an English nationalist.

    That undercover Guardian video was a hideous nightmare. I’d had little idea.

    Speaking of simian behaviour, I have a childhood memory of an angry male gorilla in a cement enclosure throwing worse than rocks at the crowd.

    The Thomson is out of print, but I can get one. (quite a damning review on Amazon btw) [Ignore those idiots-Ed.]

    The word I’ve had on Haiti is that donations of goods from overseas are being taxed and confiscated to sell, but on the positive side, Boston doctors are going in on rotation and will be doing so long term. A close friend of mine has signed on to go.

    I have ‘Handwriting’, poems by Michael Ondaatje. Probably haven’t had it off the shelf in ten years. They give a feeling of something delightful but just beyond my reach. I’m savouring them while the quiet lasts…

    I’ve never congratulated you on professional recognition of your youtube compositions, Mishari. So, ‘Well done!’ My reactions to them are all over the map, which is entertaining in itself. I left a delighted comment on your Satie, but (obtusely) wasn’t logged in as hic, so that was from me.

    Here’s the dedication from ‘Handwriting’:

    “For the long nights you lay awake
    And watched for my unworthy sake:
    For your most comfortable hand
    That led me through the uneven land…”

  41. June 6, 2010 10:45 AM

    Tend to subscribe to MM’s views on Lynching (though the wordless first five minutes of Straight Story… classic).

    Has somebody erased that dowdy missuz bit? My ancient glittering not-gay eyes can’t seem to locate it.

    Can it be Freep has discovered that cultivating the mystery of your disappearance may provide the launching platform to veritable oceans of slap?

    At least absence does not make the heart grow impotent… or perhaps…?

  42. hic8ubique permalink
    June 6, 2010 5:42 PM

    Glittering (but not gay) eyes… ‘Slap’ evokes drag queen rites! or Albert Finney in The Dresser.
    I do find ‘maquillage’ a lovely artistically sensuous word to say, as is ‘chiarascuro’.
    Perhaps we’ll let ‘dowdy’ slip into an IoW mist
    (also dowagers with dropsy) but not endowments.

    Naturally, I had overlooked the harsh review, ed., having had the benefit of yours. I ordered a second-hand copy.

    Freep stormed off the EBBrowning PotW last week, Tom. I tried to charm him back, but…
    Sometimes a cat will go off on a toot for days when the hunting is good, and then turn up on the patio as if nothing was amiss.

  43. June 6, 2010 6:06 PM

    Relieved to hear Freep has driven off in a Huff, low fuel consumption with those I understand. A cat on a toot, hic, will often return with a mouse bounty. What with all this hubbub, do you suppose we may expect as much from Monsieur Freep?

    (BTW that old drag queen Yeats ought to have secured his maquillage in chiaroscuro, I reckon, the better to avoid — or is it solicit? — slap from certain misty dowagers…)

  44. obooki permalink
    June 6, 2010 10:07 PM

    I see The Guardian got some university linguistics professor to review McCrum’s opus, and she ended up making the same points about it as all the amateur commenters before her:

  45. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 6, 2010 11:26 PM

    Hic was referring to a rather feeble squib I posted on the Ancestors thing on GU, Tom (which seems to have closed prematurely again).

    The word ‘slap’ evolved into ‘slapper’, hic, meaning a heavily made-up woman with overtones of heavy drinking and loose morals, or its male equivalent, mascara-ed and rouged, like Prince Mishari but classier.

    My son left behind Piers Morgan’s latest after his last visit (just establishing that I didn’t buy it). It’s often amusing (if revoltingly self-adoring), and I was moved by his verdict on Cherie:

    ‘A rude, grasping, self-deluded Scouse banshee prone to relentless hypocrisy, shocking manners and High Office greed on a scale rarely seen since Imelda Marcos went shoe-shopping.’

    A bit mild, perhaps, but getting there.

  46. hic8ubique permalink
    June 7, 2010 2:43 AM

    Tom, I cautiously anticipate a healthily oxygenated canary, or a green singing finch.
    (A more experienced singing finch might put dear freep out of pocket.)

    MM, the documentary film ‘Pageant’ follows a gay Miss America contest (an astonishing collision of determination and futility) and I recall at least one ‘slapper flapper’.

  47. mishari permalink*
    June 7, 2010 10:02 AM

    While checking the archives of drunkenness (just confirming that Mowbray’s reputation as Britain’s premier sot is safe) I came across this:

    The Yorkshire and England slow left-arm bowler Bobby Peel (1857-1941) was regularly inebriated during matches. He often drank himself into a state tactfully referred to in Wisden as ‘unwell’.

    During one county game the Yorkshire captain Lord Hawke was forced to suspend Peel from the side for “running the wrong way” and “bowling at the pavilion in the belief that it was the batsman”. Peel was eventually sacked from the Yorkshire team after his performance against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in May, 1896. During an unbeaten partnership of 367 with Lord Hawke, Peel urinated on the pitch.

    I love that “bowling at the pavilion in the mistaken belief that it was the batsman”.
    Cricket was much more interesting before they started wearing pastel-coloured infant’s pyjamas…

  48. June 7, 2010 4:13 PM

    A more experienced singing finch, ah.

    And while on Slapper

    Quick to blow its top, perhaps, but classier than Prince Mishari? Humbug!!

    Nor, likely, as volatilious. (Is that a term?)

    Was it not Shelley who said, “I fall on the thorns of life, I bleed”?

    Was he saying life is nowt but a bed ofroses?

  49. June 7, 2010 4:57 PM

    Just back from the Bologna Book Festival or was it ? Whatevs.

    Not quite up to speed with everything here but interested to discover you met CLR James Mishari.

    My dad, a real true blue loved CLR James mainly for his cricket writing but also because of his support for the underdogs ( as my dad would call them.)

    I could never fathom out why he liked James given ( from what I’ve read ) the socialist sympathies.

    He also really admired Yasser Arafat too. These old school Tories are difficult men to pin down sometimes.

  50. freep permalink
    June 7, 2010 5:10 PM

    Well, I have been absent, you see, that’s the reason behind my absence, and I am most grateful for concerns expressed. As you say, Tom, cultivating a mystery of disappearance can do worlds for your popularity. Look at Buddy Holly.

    Anyway, I have missed posting both here and on the old GU thing. The POTW has caused me to huff because certain people treat it as their personal facebook page, but huffability is not a productive business.

    Mainly I have (1) been in the open air, and (2) been in a library, reading old rubbish about the Picturesque and C18 travellers. I may teach a course on something ornamental, but God knows it is a hateful matter for a person to point things out as deserving their attention.

    It is good as the leaves emerge to consider which tree most resembles broccoli, and I conclude it is the sycamore. I do a bit of guiding around an arboretum, and it is helpful to have analogies which help tourists to identify flora. The swamp cypress looks dead until June, then becomes a weak green sparkler. However, I tend to get the comparison process mixed up, and instead of wondering what a lime tree might be compared with, Polonius-like, I end up looking for trees that seem camel-backed, or like a dogg with its legs capering in the air.

    Missed contributing to the Sun thread, so here is a pessimist’s hymn.

    Hymn to Sol

    Thou useful burly Sphere, refulgent Orb,
    Pompous and gaudy General of the Dawn,
    Whose genial Beams th’inexpert Artist daubs
    In garish orange ‘gainst the gray of Morn:

    Concoct on Earth, thou giant God of Light,
    A life that will confound the Scientist’s Brain,
    Deny the solemn Funeral of the Night,
    Refresh this World, remove all Blood and Pain.

    Paint us a Sound as graceful as the Larch
    Whose Needles dance in parley with the Dunes;
    Carve us a Hall beyond the ruin’d Arch,
    Where mists of Lime imbibe the Planets’ Tunes.

    Unscroll this Earth, erase its States and Nations,
    Make still our Minds, imprint their seeds with Ferns;
    Scour out the futile Habit of Narration,
    And sweep our worthless Ashes into Urns.

  51. hic8ubique permalink
    June 7, 2010 7:04 PM

    EdT, Has your Dad passed into passed tense?

    If ever I offend in that way on PotW, freep, I hope you will cast a stern and reproving glance in my direction.
    Lime trees sometimes look to me like chia pets.
    I love the ‘unscroll’ part especially. Perhaps your poem may not be so pessimistic as you say;
    ferns might be quite content in our alkaline ashes?
    I know I’ve mentioned Archie to you before. I wish I could send you his ‘agnostic hymn’ Before Eternity, but for now, here’s one of his songs I can recommend…

  52. hic8ubique permalink
    June 7, 2010 7:06 PM


  53. June 7, 2010 7:18 PM

    hic, No he’s still with us – the tense was unfortunate. As a WW2 veteran he used to visit schools to talk to the kids. 2 weeks ago a teacher brought a bunch of kids to his old-folk’s home to hear him. It was over-subscribed too so has given him a real boost.

    On the plane back from Delft ( for it was there ) I was unutterably depressed to read in the on-plane paper the Express that a right-wing think tank claims that the running of super-markets is the way to bring communities together. They build confidence, create aspiration ( ??? me neither ), social cohesion etc. etc. Culture was a word that was noticeably absent from this research. Cynic that I am the only cohesion I could think of was the clubbing together of the local criminal fraternity ( a phrase best said in a South London police accent ) to rob them.

    So not only will all the public services get privatised but it looks like supermarkets will take on some commerce-driven role in shaping society. Are we fucked? it feels like we’re about to be.

  54. obooki permalink
    June 7, 2010 8:18 PM

    Perhaps it was a misprint and should have said “the ruining of super-markets”.

    Or is this part of Cameron’s new strategy for the greater localisation of power? – Not merely are local communities going to take over state-run entities like schools and hospitals, but they’re going to be able to take over their local Tesco’s as well.

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 7, 2010 9:03 PM

    Nice to see you here, freep, ET (I assumed you were working). In the local Tesco a large three lions shield has been attached to the floor with the legend Tesco-Official Supermarket Of The England Team. I suppose you often see Wayne and Collette buying their Sugar Puffs in the Manchester branch.

    obooki, shouldn’t that be

    …to take over their local Tesco as well.

  56. obooki permalink
    June 7, 2010 9:26 PM

    It seems you’re right, MM. I’d always been suspicious about the reclusiveness of this Mr Tesco.

  57. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 7, 2010 11:08 PM

    Oddly enough I used to know a Mr Tesco. Originally from Spain, he lived a few doors away from us when we first moved here. When Tesco (the store) came to town his life became very difficult. The comedians asking him for discount and shouting ‘Every Little Helps!’ at him in the street sometimes left him in tears. Anyway, he decided to change his name and took the first letters of his Christian name (Alberto), his country of birth, his son Darren’s name and the alphabet (he wasn’t a very imaginative chap) put them together and arranged for a deed poll. He committed suicide a couple of years later. A sad story.

  58. mishari permalink*
    June 7, 2010 11:12 PM

    Glad to hear you’re well, freep. Not that I was worried. I know you’re a Man of Mystery.

    I see that the foxes are taking matters into their own, erm…paws…whatever. They probably figure that the Tories are going to bring back fox-hunting so they’ve decided to take up human-hunting. What the hell, they’ve already got the red coats…and it’s not just the foxes. According to today’s Indy: Bird aimed gun at unarmed officers. Hard not to sympathise…

    We (I mean the Gramsci-wing of the People’s Hegemonic Cultural Front of Whitechapel) have already taken over our local Tesco. Our first revolutionary act was to make cat-food free and institute a buy-one-get-ten-free deal for vodka. Mowbray would be proud…

  59. freep permalink
    June 7, 2010 11:19 PM

    Thanks, hic, and Archie Fisher seems an interesting cove. Music I had in mind was more like Skeeter Davis’ End of the World.

    Somewhere up there mishari thought I might have been out with a shotgun, being oop North and so on. Only catapulting pigeons, I’m afraid. But I do know the neck of woods where the bad Cumbrian gunman came from pretty well, and anyone who knows his town (street) of Rowrah would not think running amok was altogether unexpected. It’s an empty, meagre place, but with lordly mountains as a backdrop. The National Park boundary runs a mile or two to the south. Historically, the toffs live inside the National Park, and the tossers live outside in the crap towns like Frizington. Property prices in the National Park are hugely more than in the mean mining towns just outside it. Not that it explains anything at all about shooting, but there are peculiar class divisions in Cumbria that are not like class divisions in, say, Northumberland or the Dales.

    I will be supporting North Korea in the football. They should beat Brazil on June 15th because they are manly. They have good darts players in Pyongyang.

  60. mishari permalink*
    June 7, 2010 11:22 PM

    The N. Koreans? Short (or ‘compact’, if you prefer), good at synchronised stuff, nuclear-armed, insanely aggressive…yep, they sound like a prospect…

  61. hic8ubique permalink
    June 8, 2010 12:00 AM

    I prefer to call that condition ‘duck’s disease’.
    I gave Skeeter a go, at the ‘ind of the wurruld’ and made it as far as her retchitative.
    Maybe you had to be there?
    My first and striking impression of this weeks PotW seems to be a 120 degree axial rotation to the right, but I fear that might be too FBooki to mention there.

  62. cellaroseus permalink
    June 8, 2010 12:27 AM

    The North Koreans will always play with revolutionary hero spirit but still remain in need of a helmsman to galvanise their youthful elan.

    Any thoughts which visionary might be ringed in to fill their number 6 shirt?

    Here they are in a nearly empty smogside in ’66,

  63. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 12:31 AM

    I still laugh at the old terrace chant:

    He shoots,
    he scores,
    he eats Labradors
    Ji-Sung Park,
    Ji-Sung Park.

  64. cellaroseus permalink
    June 8, 2010 12:37 AM

    I hear freep eats whippet sandwiches… a Northumbrian delicacy apparently.

  65. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 1:05 AM

    Of course, you have to catch the whippet first, which is why freep is so lean and fit…

  66. June 8, 2010 8:35 AM

    The day after the election someone on CiF gave it 3 weeks before Cameron would come out and say ” The economy is far worse than we thought”. Well I never.

    Given they’ve had the figures for months one wonders if this is an over-exaggeration designed in order to facilitate the Tory’s aim to deliver us all into the arms of Tesco’s CEO.

  67. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 9:42 AM

    Don’t get me wrong, Ed. The whole Cameron slash-and-burn program gives me the horrors but to be fair, in opposition, he and his gang never got to see the books and Brown could scarcely open his mouth without lying (this is confirmed by Alistair Campbell, if one can believe a word that prick says). I’ve long been convinced that the UKs finances are indeed in a much more parlous state than anyone was letting on…

    Why Tesco, for Christ sake? If you’re going to turn things over to a competent company, go with John Lewis. Great quality, great service, great prices…and they’re a co-operative (well, a partnership–close enough).

    I think this comes under the heading of Taking Your Job Too Seriously:

    In 1994 Peter Weiller, a German film-goer, was beaten to death by ushers because he had brought his own popcorn.

  68. freep permalink
    June 8, 2010 10:49 AM

    In 1953 I smuggled a choc ice into the Granada Forest Hill. Didn’t realise what a narrow escape I had.

  69. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 10:52 AM

    We’ve all been there, freep, living life on the dangerous edge. In my case, it was wine-gums…

  70. June 8, 2010 11:23 AM

    Yes the UK’s finances are in a terrible state. But is it the bank’s fault or the head of a council’s fault?

    Reading the Sun in the local cafe this morning it appears to be the Council who are to blame rather than the shoddy dealings of the banks and the Labour government not taking control of them and seeing what their reckless attitude will let loose.

    I can’t see anything that Cameron is going to do that will bring the banks to heel – it’s council services and much more that will shoulder the hit and the blame.

    Which is why I think the case is over-exaggerated to get that message into the population’s heads and by proxy make the LibDems look like villains if they try to make objections.

    I’m just left wondering whether there is a buffer-zone to this latest wave of rampant Tory-ism or whether we are going to be shunted into a more corporate American way of life.

  71. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:30 AM

    England! Jewel of football’s diadem,
    remember Mafeking and Spion Kop,
    these foreign chappies don’t like it up ‘em,
    we’ll shew the bayonet to Frog and Wop.

    Remember how we placed our sterling stamp
    on the unlovely Johnny Boer?
    Make Rustenburg our concentrating camp
    and see our challenge is a goer.

    Will Capello be our Redvers Buller,
    or will he be our Frederick Roberts?
    No way of knowing that horse’s colour,
    but can I say to those in England shirts,

    when we’ve won the Cup and slaughtered Jerry,
    please can someone bayonet John Terry?

  72. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 12:48 PM

    Inger-land! Fabled island rhinestone!
    We know that you will come unstuck!
    In far Afric or here at home
    You lack the brains, the skill, the pluck.

    A man’s plan to propose to his girlfriend on a mountain in the US ended in tragedy when the pair were struck by lightning, it was reported today.

    Richard Butler and his girlfriend, Bethany Lott, both from Knoxville, Tennessee, were hit as they hiked in the North Carolina mountains. Lott was killed, while Butler suffered third degree burns.

    Butler, 30, had driven Lott, his partner of a year, to Max Patch Bald, near Asheville, saying they would be going for a stroll.

    He had planned to present her with an engagement ring at the top of the mountain.–The Grauniad, today

    Romance is dangerous stuff.

    I’ve just read that Wm. McGonagall carried a visiting card that read:

    W. M. McGonagall
    Lyric Inditer and Reciter
    Poetry Promptly Executed

    I devoutly hope this is true. I suspect freep’ll know…

  73. obooki permalink
    June 8, 2010 3:30 PM

    Here’s my current view of the UK economy, based on my fair knowledge of accounts and the little I’ve looked at the government accounts. (I’ll try and figure them out some more at some point):

    The essential problems is not the banks (though it may indeed have been caused by the banks.)

    The banks which have been taken into public ownership (Bradford & Bingley, and Northern Rock) have added £141bn to the debt, though this has now been reduced to about £110bn. (This is the banks paying off this debt). This is against a total debt of £800bn. By this, you can see that the banks only constitute a small part of the debt.(Most of it was there before anyway).

    Are we paying interest on this £141bn? – I’m not sure. The government owns the banks, but they are sort of held as a separate companies in their accounts and I think it’s likely that in effect the banks are covering this interest themselves. And ultimately these banks will end up paying all the interest on their debt, plus interest on the government loans to support them (I think). – It was cashflow problems that brought them down, not their overall viability as banks (well, not necessarily; it remains to be seen how the banking crisis plays out).

    And ultimately, the government will sell these banks back into the private sector (debt and all), thus a) removing the debts; and b) generating a vast amount of income via the sale.

    (It’s worth noting, the government has screwed the shareholders of the banks which were nationalised: it paid them next to nothing to nationalise them; and will sell them back to the private sector at a vast profit).

    As for the banks which weren’t privatised but whose shares the government largely owns (RBS and Lloyds): a) any loans the government has made to these banks are at punitive rates of interest, which the banks will ultimately end up paying out of profits (at least, if they stay in business); and b) the money the government has given them through purchase of shares at above market rates should ultimately be recouped (perhaps again at vast profit) when the economy re-stabilises and the share price goes up.

    Which makes one wonder why Labour were so insistent on the bank debt being a problem. – Perhaps, indeed, it was to deflect away from the real cause of the problem, which was Labour’s running of the economy.

    On the other hand, as I mentioned above, the banks have caused the other problems, since indirectly their actions have led to a recession in the economy.

    This recession has led to increased unemployment: therefore an increase in benefits paid out, and a reduction of income tax coming in. It is this balance of government income against spend which is the real problem. Last year, removing the nationalised banks from the equation, the deficit increased by £150bn. At least £80bn of this was caused by the deficit between tax and spending. (I haven’t managed to figure out the other £70bn yet). This is a legacy of Labour spend relying on the continued expansion of the economy.

    There are 3 obvious things that can be done about this:

    1. Reduce benefits.
    2. Reduce other public spending.
    3. Increase tax.

    At the moment, the Conservatives are concentrating on number 2 (the least political option). There are real problems with this however (as Darling is pointing out). If you reduce public spending significantly, you will inevitably cause large unemployment in the public sector, leading to the same situation as above: increase in benefits, loss of tax revenue – so it’s a question whether it will actually have a useful effect on the government’s deficit. (The traditional way to get out of recession – as per FDR in the 30s – is by massively increasing public spending, thus reducing unemployment (though to be fair they didn’t have many benefits back then), but more importantly inducing growth in the economy).

    This situation has largely resulted from Labour’s massive public spending during the good times.

    I don’t have any answers to all this by the way. I can’t even decide if there’s no way out; or if we could just do nothing and it would all be all right.

    By the way, the UK accounts are available to anyone who wants to look at them. Though there are some off-balance sheet items (like PFIs), it’s generally acknowledged how much these are likely to be. So I don’t buy the Conservatives claiming that they didn’t know how bad it was. Don’t they employ anyone who understands accounts? – They will make capital out of the PFIs however, I have no doubt. (ha!ha! – a silly accountancy joke!).

  74. obooki permalink
    June 8, 2010 4:05 PM

    Or a different subject, I put a whole raft of bets on for the world cup the other day (all on Betfair; and sorry, all in decimal odds):

    To win outright:

    Holland – 11.5

    Top Goalscorer:

    David Villa – 9.4
    Luis Fabiano – 14
    Robin Van Persie – 16.5
    Nicholas Anelka – 65
    Antonio di Natale – 65

    Group Winners:

    France – 2.26
    Holland – 1.57
    Italy – 1.6

    Office Sweepstake:


    So I’ll be cheering for a complex array of outcomes.

    (I’ll probably lose the lot. But just David Villa, top scorer, would win back all my stakes).

  75. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 4:12 PM

    A fair analysis, obookie. The banks are a bunch of amoral, inept scumsucking dogs but they aren’t the real problem. Bailing them out wasn’t the problem, either. In fact, it looks like a very good deal for the taxpayer, in terms of return on investment.

    The real problems are 1. Expenditure exceeding income. However, 1. wouldn’t be an insurmountable problem if UK govt debt (in the form of bonds etc) were highly rated, i.e. if the money markets were happy to lend to the UK government because they felt sure the principal and the interest would be paid.

    Which leads to problem 2. The money markets and bond traders are not nearly as confident of lending to the UK government. This means that they want a better return on investment. This, in turn, has a knock on effect which we need not go into, but it isn’t good.

    The only real solution to the problem of confidence that the UK is now in the throes of, is to persuade the lenders that the UK is to exercise fiscal prudence and that means cuts.

    Where the cuts will fall, now that’s the thing. Brown’s grotesque incompetence and dishonesty are coming home to roost: PFI, PPP (both Tory schemes that Brown adopted because it allowed him to keep borrowing off the books) will return to govt accounts, all the pig-ignorant sell-offs by Brown and Mandelson to their cronies will return to taunt as they generate huge incomes now lost to the Treasury (QinetiQ, anyone?).

    The leitmotif of the catastrophe that was New Labour must be the sell-off of the Inland Revenue’s office buildings to a tax-dodging off-shore company. That’s New Labour in a nut-shell..

  76. June 8, 2010 4:23 PM

    I’d say reducing public spending is also a political option – which is why the Tories have gone for it.

    It renders a whole potential area of dissent toothless and it carries on the Thatcher/Major/Blair/Brown policy of turning everything into the shop-keeper/customer dynamic.

  77. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 4:30 PM

    No argument there, Ed, but the country has opted for Capitalism, red in tooth and claw (theoretically, anyway) and the seller/buyer dynamic is the basis for the whole rotten edifice.

    If Cameron really wants to be daring he should announce his immediate conversion to Anarcho-Syndicalism (my favoured option). That would set the cat amongst the pigeons.

  78. obooki permalink
    June 8, 2010 5:13 PM

    It’s true enough the public spending option is political, but it seems the easiest politically (i.e. will cost the fewest votes: – those public sector folk probably vote Labour anyway).

    I’ve thought some of Cameron’s localist communities-should-run-their-own-hospitals rantings have had a strangely Anarcho-Syndicalist flavour. Pretty soon I expect to hear him advocating terrorism as a means to political action.

  79. June 8, 2010 5:39 PM

    Indeed it sounds like Cameron wants to turn the UK into a hippy commune. But then you hear that the “free schools” will have to be monitored to ensure they meet a general set of standards and then you think well who’s going to do that?

    Most likely either a government official or some corporate body like the ones who couldn’t mark the exam papers properly. So beyond the language and the removal of troublesome TU types there’s no real change in how things are done.

    Giving out money is too political to leave it to the likes of the population. To be honest I’m not particularly against that concept. I don’t want to spend my time deciding how to fund things, I just wish we had some decent politicians. But that’s never going to happen.

  80. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 8, 2010 9:09 PM

    Do nothing and don’t cut anything is my preferred option, since whatever they do is likely to make things worse for no benefit at all. Once upon a time that would have been a Conservative position. Now it sounds almost radical.

    Villa looks a good bet. Klose must be worth a punt. Uruguay? Forgetaboutit.

  81. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 9:29 PM

    To be fair, Uruguay have won the Cup twice as many times as England…

    Treasury consultation vows ‘complete re-evaluation of government’s role in providing public services’ —The Graun, today

    Oh, dear…that doesn’t bode well. “It’s not just a hip-replacement…it’s a Marks and Spencer hip-replacement”. Of course, the poor will have to settle for the Kwik-Save option…

  82. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 8, 2010 10:26 PM

    England – forgetaboutit.

    I’ve been feeling a bit more interested in the football recently, so I called the TV repair berk. Guess what? He was just about to call me to let me know it was ready. What a coincidence. Got my wallchart up and have a multipack of crisps, a 64-pack of Valhalla Lager-Type Economy Beer and a litre of gin to make it palatable. I’m all set for the feast of athleticism to come.

  83. mishari permalink*
    June 8, 2010 11:07 PM

    Have a care, mon vieux…don’t go leaping into full-throttle footie mode. In a chap of your advanced decrepitude, such precipitous folly can be fatal. You need to train, build muscle lest you do yourself a mischief.

    I suggest the following regime: a small Buckfast Abbey Tonic Wine in the morning, perhaps a BabyCham with lunch and a small Olde Patel’s Sherry-Style Cooking Beverage before retiring. No more than 3-4 packets of Scampi & Cheese Flavoured Wheat Puffs a day. That should prepare you for the rigours to come…

  84. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:17 PM

    I’d never heard of decimal odds. I just spent 20 minutes trying to understand the Wiki article on it, without success. I’ll have to get Mrs M to explain it.

  85. obooki permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:25 PM

    Decimal odds are simple: just multiply your stake by the decimal figure and that’s the amount of money you get back (i.e. winnings plus stake) if you win.

    So for Holland to win at 11.5 – if I bet £10, I get back £115.

    When you end up gambling a lot, it tends to be easier – though I do have a phenomenal ability now to convert odds-like fractions into decimals (4/11ths = 0.36; 4/9ths = 0.44).

    I was going to lay a bet on England (i.e. take other people’s bets, and win money if they lose) – I thought lay £100, with a possible £800 payout if they win the World Cup. Sounds like a safe bet to me.

  86. cellaroseus permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:39 PM

    On that regime MM will soon need a double hip replacement… but I’m sure the NHS (poundstretcher option) will be able to fix him up with a nice pair of “leftovers” from a whippet sandwich (there are buckets of them behind the Ashington Greggs)

    The op. will leave the old fellow fleet of foot, but absolutely fucked once the Koreans sniff him out.

  87. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:41 PM

    Oh, I see. That’s a bit simpler. Thanks for the explanation. It’s hard to imagine anyone betting on England, but I suppose you could reason that someone’s got to win. Greece winning Euro2004 was even more unlikely, after all.

  88. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:54 PM

    The Prince’s suggestion would be a Cameron-style cut in my current consumption, cellaroseus. I can’t enter World Cup world with DTs. That is reserved for the day after England crash out, once I’ve torn down the wallchart, jumped on the crisps, drunk the rest of the alcohol and hurled the cans at the TV. That could be as early as St George’s Day.

  89. June 9, 2010 12:10 AM

    I can recommend the cornershop hip replacement. No anaesthetic used as the cut-price clear cider is more powerful. Clear cider? Isn’t that meths mixed with a bit of apple juice?

  90. mishari permalink*
    June 9, 2010 12:23 AM

    Apple juice? Hahahaha…what a dreamer you are, Ed. Meths + apple-flavouring. Costs about 2p a gallon to make…

  91. hic8ubique permalink
    June 9, 2010 3:18 AM

    I can recommend daily kapotasana to avert the need for any brand of hip replacement (not however holding my breath that anyone will heed this sage advice, unless already knock-kneed with pain).
    Here is some cautionary footie footage from last week:

  92. June 9, 2010 9:32 AM

    Obviously I bow to your experience with the stuff Mishari.

    I don’t drink anymore but after my teenage years in Frome quaffing the stuff a sip of normal cider in my adult years was enough to turn me into a bona fide village idiot.

    Christ knows what affect the clear stuff would have.

    Lovely to hear the moral panic about foxes in Hackney. Presumably the London Pit bull dog population are soft southerners and nothing to worry about in comparison to a few scratty city foxes. When we lived in Manchester our cat used to regularly give the local fox population something to worry about.

  93. mishari permalink*
    June 9, 2010 9:47 AM

    I’ll always cherish the memory of looking up from my reading one sunny afternoon to see Pongo chasing a fox in circles around the garden. Clearly, neither of them were serious about it as Pongo wasn’t trying very hard and the fox was running with that lolloping motion that canines adopt in play.

    Finally, Pongo stopped chasing, the fox trotted over and nudged him, Pongo gave him a gentle bat on the muzzle and the fox trotted off.

    Still, the sight of that buffoon Boris jumping on the anti-fox bandwagon afforded some grim amusement, confirming (if confirmation were needed) that he’s an opportunist as well as an idiot.

  94. June 9, 2010 10:33 AM

    Well it’s now obviously A Very Serious Situation which Has Got Out Of Hand.

    A Hackney resident on the news this morning was talking about foxes as if they were dole scroungers. “They come out and sunbathe, yes sunbathe on the opposite roof.Can you believe it?”

    Yes I can.

  95. mishari permalink*
    June 9, 2010 10:48 AM

    When the buggers aren’t sunbathing, they’re indoors watching their flat-screen TVs and laughing…laughing, I tell you…at decent, hard-working families. Something Must Be Done. Tough On Foxes, Tough On The Causes Of Foxes…

  96. June 9, 2010 10:53 AM


    A relief to hear you are alive and well and have had your nose into nothing more nefarious than the Humphry Reptons.

    He shoots,
    he scores,
    he’s “compact” early doors,
    Ji-Sung Park,
    Ji-Sung Park.

  97. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 9, 2010 10:58 AM

    How long before we have a fox tsar? 1.1 on next week.

    Kapotasana looks like it would give me a double hernia to go with my double hip replacement. My feeling is that the benefits of total immobility are underrated. No wear and tear on the bones, no stressful movements to damage the ligaments etc and a soul-healing absence of social interaction.

  98. June 9, 2010 11:00 AM

    He’s big
    He’s red
    His feet stick out the bed

    Peter Crouch
    Peter Crouch ( when a Liverpool player )

    Tom at the risk of sounding like a High Court judge I’m struggling to understand the third line of the Ji-Sung Park chant. I think it’s because early doors is a common term round my way for drinking after work.

    Or it could be that I’m just a div.

  99. June 9, 2010 11:20 AM

    Apple’s App Store recently rejected the app for a comic adaptation of Ulysses on the basis that it contains nudity. Even pixelated nudity was unacceptable. This for a masterpiece that won an obscenity trial around 80 years ago. Bear in mind that App Store contains around 400 different fart simulation apps.

    Are Apple protecting us from filth? On the evidence, I think they are:

  100. mishari permalink*
    June 9, 2010 11:26 AM

    Well thank God for Steve Jobs’ high moral standards, I say, lest we be inundated by a tsunami of Joycean stream-of-consciousness filth. Fart apps are just good, clean Rabelasian-type ribald fun for the kiddies…

    Speaking of Liverpool chants, Ed, I always liked:

    He’s fat
    He’s Scouse
    He’s probably robbed your house
    Wayne Rooney, Wayne Rooney

  101. June 9, 2010 11:43 AM


    The curious language (some have called it Ronglish) spoken by Ron Atkinson was of some interest here before RA’s fall from grace separated us outsiders from it. Early doors, applied to temporality in footie, was (is?) Big Ron’s trademark. And he was thought to have invented it. But they used to say that (in Russia) about the Russians and television. This just in: Ron was in fact too late for early doors.

  102. June 9, 2010 11:48 AM

    BTW Ed, And I’m sure my fellow archivists of the Prince will find this redundant, the “compact” bit in my chant was a direct borrowing from the Wisdom of the Master:

    on June 7, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Reply mishari

    The N. Koreans? Short (or ‘compact’, if you prefer), good at synchronised stuff, nuclear-armed, insanely aggressive…yep, they sound like a prospect…

    Though of course Ji-Sung hails from the South, where due to superior nutrition the wingers come perhaps a trifle less “compact”.

  103. June 9, 2010 11:51 AM

    Ronglish in so many ways.

    My WBA supporting friends were gob-smacked when he came out with his famous “racially sensitive” comments given that he gave the West Midlands that fabulous trio of Cunningham, Batson and Regis back in the 70’s.

    Obviously his attitudes to race were based on the early doors theory too.

  104. June 9, 2010 3:17 PM

    My word that Ulysses comic is bad isn’t it? So much time spent on condensing the text that there wasn’t any time left to do a decent drawing.

    Am off working for 2 weeks. When I return no doubt England will be out of the World Cup and we will all be happy as Larry in our new Big Society living off the blood, sweat and tears of urban foxes turfed out of their easy city lifestyles and forced to work the land.

  105. freep permalink
    June 9, 2010 3:19 PM

    He’s a tragedian
    He’s a poet
    And his temperate, unwavering and precise Dundonian sense of rhythm and decorum show it,
    McGonagall, McGonagall.

    I have been unable to confirm, mish, that Sir William Topaz McGonagall’s visiting card did advertise him as an executioner of poetry. My source is the three-volume edition of Poetic Gems, More Poetic Gems and Last Poetic Gems. Which are full of exciting anecdotes and explanations for the great man’s skill, besides containing a cornucopia of …things.
    But I can confirm from Vol 3 (edited by the Corporation of Dundee) that the great man did suffer a childhood embarrassment which coloured his later development. W. McG. was at school in South Ronaldsay to a very Strict Dominie named Mr James Forbes, who kept a live tortoise in his garden. The boy McGonagall’s curiosity was excited by the reptile …

    …..’and he stooped down and lifted the Tortoise with both hands, thereon admiring the varied beautiful colours of its shell, when, behold, it dunged upon both hands of William the Poet, which was rather aggravating to William, no doubt, and he dash’d the Tortoise on the ground, which almost killed it. … the Domine chanc’d to see him … layd hold of him, and began to beat him unmercifully about the body and face, untill his face was blackened in many places, with his hard Taws, and persisted in it untill some of the elder Scholars cried, Stop! beating William …’ [etc]

    I know of no other great poet whose early life was marred by punishment relating to the accidental dropping of a tortoise.

    The Three Volumes are execrably edited, and McG awaits a scholar worthy of him. The late masterpiece: ‘The Funeral of the Late Prince Henry of Battenberg’ requires an editor to explain the historical context with care. We also need an interpretation of why McG preferred autumnal topics and events. I find it hard to credit that it is because months ending in ‘-ember’ enabled him to begin so many of his works with the polished formula we see in this opening:

    “‘Twas in the year of 1894, and on the 5th of September,
    Which for a long time I will remember …..”

    [‘Lines in Praise of the Lyric Club Banquet, which was held in the Queen’s Hotel, Perth, on the Evening of the 5th of September 1894.’]

    McG was a supporter of Empire, of the celebration of disasters, and of the Temperance movement. He would have supported any team in the World Cup that upheld these principles. North Korea again.

  106. hic8ubique permalink
    June 9, 2010 4:08 PM

    Even rarer, freep, an exponential event?…
    the accidental dropping of a tortoise dropping tortoise droppings.

    Funny Mowbray, the ideal state you describe is known as ‘corpse pose’.

    Fair and prosperous travels to you, EdT.
    Should the American system ensue, may privatisation bring
    (tax-deductible) philanthropic benefaction upon your endeavours.

  107. cellaroseus permalink
    June 9, 2010 9:25 PM

    My McGonagall, to whom my Dun na nGall is greatly indebted, is excellent aside from an absolutely horrific picture of Billy Connolly splashed all over the front for no apparent reason aside from his being “a fan” .

    Had I the skills I would be tempted to do an Orton/Halliwell “improvement” (any suggestions?) because the thing makes me sick to look at… a whippet’s giblets would more pleasing to the eye.

  108. mishari permalink*
    June 9, 2010 9:37 PM

    You could do worse than the noble head of freep on a whippet’s torso. Christ, anything’s an improvement on the ubiquitous Connolly…

  109. freep permalink
    June 9, 2010 10:04 PM

    I too have the selection of The Dundee Tragedian’s work which is defaced by Connolly’ image, cellaroseus. It is mighty offensive. I know of no connection, but I prefer to think of Chic Murray as the kind of Scots comedian who might appreciate McGonagall properly. You can find Chic Murray jokes at
    and what I like is that the jokes are under the protection of the Vale of Leven Bowling Club est 1867, and headed: ‘Chic Murray and His Jokes (Scottish Humour)’

    They include:
    I was out walking the other evening. This fellow accosted me, and asked if that was the moon up there in the sky. I replied that I had no idea as I was a stranger there myself.

    My wife went to a beauty parlour and got a mud pack. For two days she looked nice, then the mud fell off. She’s a classy girl though, at least all her tattoos are spelt right.

  110. mishari permalink*
    June 9, 2010 10:17 PM

    Thanks for the link, freep. Chic’s a bit of a find. Loved this one:

    When staying at a Rothesay hotel, there were the usual toast and marmalade (in little round pots) on the breakfast table in the morning. When the landlady came into the room, Chic lifted a tiny pot of honey and said “I see you keep a bee!”

  111. cellaroseus permalink
    June 9, 2010 10:47 PM

    Liking the whippet, although I think they have a noble mein already. Head of said dogg and body of…

    It is actually very difficult to think of visual images that do WTmcG justice so scattergun is his expression. Take his most famous poem…

    Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
    Alas, I am very sorry to say
    That ninety lives have been taken away
    On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
    Which will be remeber’d for a very long time.

    Your mind’s eye is wrenched without ceremony from bridge to the river, to the poet himself, to ninety souls (at once) to a Scottish Sabbath, to a particular year, to the bathetic realisation that, yes this day will be remembered… sort of. Add to that the ever changing er…metre, and random rhyming… Swordsian doesn’t begin to cover it.

  112. mishari permalink*
    June 9, 2010 10:57 PM

    Never mind about the Tay Bridge. What about Fred. Marsden?

    The Death of Fred Marsden, the American Playwright

    A pathetic tragedy I will relate,
    Concerning poor Fred. Marsden’s fate,
    Who suffocated himself by the fumes of gas,
    On the 18th of May, and in the year of 1888, alas!

    Fred. Marsden was a playwright, the theatrical world knows,
    And was highly esteemed by the people, and had very few foes;
    And in New York, in his bedroom, he took his life away,
    And was found by his servant William in his bedroom where he lay.

    The manner in which he took his life : first he locked the door,
    Then closed down the window, and a sheet to shreds he tore
    And then stopped the keyholes and chinks through which air might come,
    Then turned on the single gas-burner, and soon the deed was done.

    About seven o’clock in the evening he bade his wife good-night,
    And she left him, smoking, in his room, thinking all was right,
    But when morning came his daughter said she smelled gas,
    Then William, his servant, called loudly on him, but no answer, alas!

    Then suspicion flashed across William’s brain, and he broke open the door,
    Then soon the family were in a state of uproar,
    For the room was full of gas, and Mr Marsden quite dead,
    And a more kind-hearted father never ate of the world’s bread.

    And by his kindness he spoiled his only child,
    His pretty daughter Blanche, which made him wild;
    For some time he thought her an angel, she was so very civil,
    But she dishonoured herself, and proved herself a devil.

    Her father idolised her, and on her spared no expense,
    And the kind-hearted father gave her too much indulgence,
    Because evening parties and receptions were got up for her sake,
    Besides, he bought her a steam yacht to sail on Schroon Lake.

    His means he lavished upon his home and his wife,
    And he loved his wife and daughter as dear as his life;
    But Miss Blanche turned to folly, and wrecked their home through strife,
    And through Miss Marsden’s folly her father took his life.

    She wanted to ride, and her father bought her a horse,
    And by giving her such indulgences, in morals she grew worse;
    And by her immoral actions she broke her father’s heart;
    And, in my opinion, she has acted a very ungrateful part.

    At last she fled from her father’s house, which made him mourn,
    Then the crazy father went after her and begged her to return,
    But she tore her father’s beard, and about the face beat him,
    Then fled to her companions in evil, and thought it no sin.

    Then her father sent her one hundred dollars, and found her again,
    And he requested her to come home, but it was all in vain;
    For his cruel daughter swore at him without any dread,
    And, alas! next morning, he was found dead in his bed.

    And soon theatrical circles were shocked to learn,
    Of the sudden death of genial Fred Marsden,
    Whose house had been famous for its hospitality,
    To artists, litterateurs, and critics of high and low degree.

    And now dear Mrs Marsden is left alone to mourn
    The loss of her loving husband, whom to her will ne’er return;
    But I hope God will be kind to her in her bereavement,
    And open her daughter’s eyes, and make her repent

    For being the cause of her father’s death, the generous Fred,
    Who oft poor artists and mendicants has fed;
    But, alas! his bounties they will never receive more,
    Therefore poor artists and mendicants will his loss deplore.

    Therefore, all ye kind parents of high and low degree,
    I pray ye all, be advised by me,
    And never pamper your children in any way,
    Nor idolise them, for they are apt to go astray,

    And treat ye, like pretty Blanche Marsden,
    Who by her folly has been the death of one of the finest men;
    So all kind parents, be warned by me,
    And remember always this sad Tragedy!

  113. freep permalink
    June 9, 2010 11:08 PM

    Aye, the bee joke never fails.

  114. June 10, 2010 12:04 AM

    “I know of no other great poet whose early life was marred by punishment relating to the accidental dropping of a tortoise.”

    Indeed, freep, though Aeschylus’s later life was reportedly brought to an end by the accidental dropping of a tortoise on his head.

  115. cellaroseus permalink
    June 10, 2010 7:35 AM

    Toitoises can grow to a fairly decent size… they’d give a musk-ox a run for their money. I have therefore decided the chimera tha will bless the front of my McG “gems”… shall have the body of a tortoise, the head of a whippet and the horns of a musk ox… I may crayon on a beard in tribute to Melton… a sort of dirty grey I should imagine?

  116. mishari permalink*
    June 10, 2010 9:07 AM

    Of course, Magonagiggle does have some competition. Alfred Austin, who, when someone pointed out that his verses were full of basic grammatical errors, replied: “I dare not alter these things. They come to me from above“, (a line I plan to start using myself).

    Joseph Gwyer, “The Magonagall of Penge”, whose two great passions were poetry and potato-growing, often combined to great effect as in his 1875 volume Sketches Of The Life of Joseph Gwyer (Potato Salesman) With His Poems (Commended By Royalty). It should be pointed out that at no point was his work commended by anyone let alone royalty. In his Love and Matrimony, he claims that the most important quality in a prospective wife is an ability to cook and roast POTATOES (Gwyer always underlined or capitalised ‘potatoes’).

    According to a Gwyer website:

    Over a period of 20 years he bombarded members of the royal family with his accounts of their doings which elicited curt and frosty letters of acknowledgement from their private secretaries.

    Undeterred by this coolness, Gwyer produced in 1875 a volume of his work entitled Poems (Commended by royalty), in which he included all of these frosty letters by way of recommendation. On the title page he further announced that he could also send, on a sale-or-return basis, sacks of potatoes and, indeed, gilt-framed photographs of himself and his cart-horse.

    Julia A. Moore, who I know freep is familiar with, AKA The Sweet Singer of Michigan. Mark Twain said she kept him in stitches for 20 years and The Oxford Book of American Light Verse said: ” A writer so transcendentally, surpassingly, superlatively bad that she belongs in a special genre in which normal rules and habits of judgment were magically suspended.” Her Grand Rapids Cricket Club is a fair example of her work:

    In Grand Rapids is a handsome club,
    Of men that cricket play,
    As fine a set of skillful men
    That can their skill display.
    They are the champions of the West,
    They think they are quite fine,
    They’ve won a hundred honors well;
    It is their most cunning design.

    Henry James Pye, Poet Laureate to George III. His fondness for agricultural themes gave us lines like:

    Of Pig-economy exalt the praise
    Oh flatter Sheep and Bullocks in thy lays

    His treatise The Effect of Music On Animals is a classic of its kind as is his Verses Sent To The Corps Of Wantage Volunteer Cavalry On Their Offering Their Services In Any Part Of The Kingdom During The Alarm Of An Invasion

    When loud Invasion with infuriate roar,
    With boastful threatening shakes Britannia’s shore;
    Should Alfred turn his sainted eyes to earth,
    And view the hallow’d seats that gave him birth,
    How would he praise the patriot worth that calls
    Her manly sons from Vinitagia’s walls!

  117. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    June 10, 2010 9:46 AM

    when the CHIPS were down,
    Joe Gwyer could always count
    on his grandma’S PUDS

  118. freep permalink
    June 10, 2010 9:53 AM

    Thanks for Gwyer, mish. I must research him further. There can never be enough poems on topics such as dental hygiene, omelettes, fire extinguishers and gerbil cages.

  119. mishari permalink*
    June 10, 2010 10:15 AM

    Gwyer’s a wonderful find. When reviewing his collected works, the New York Tribune said that:

    “young people wavering between Mr Gwyer’s poetry and his potatoes should unhesitatingly choose the latter.”

  120. June 10, 2010 1:02 PM

    I rather like that Pye, a bit of Georgian bombast always pleases, especially words like ‘infuriate’.
    ‘Vinitigia’ for Wantage is fab, what would Whitechapel be in a Georgian ode, Albacapella?

    Prince! that hath long in Albacapel’s shade
    Lurked and disported through the bosky nights
    to view th’Olympian monster lately made
    arise! on Eastern Arcus set thy sights.

    (trans: You wanna get out of Whitechapel and get your minces on that Olympic rubbish along in Bow, guv)

  121. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 10, 2010 11:39 PM

    I think the description you’re looking for is ‘salt and pepper’, cellaroseus, not ‘dirty grey’. Really.

    A excellent verse, Zeph, but expect a call from obooki.

  122. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 10, 2010 11:40 PM

    I mean ‘An’.

  123. hic8ubique permalink
    June 11, 2010 12:53 AM

    How about ‘grizzled’ , MM?

    You aren’t speaking of the ‘Orbit’, are you Zephirine?
    another locale?
    I’m expecting to host(ess) masses of refugees from Greater Londinium when the time comes.
    I see that my April Fool’s response is no longer viewable on the GU comments, (excised??) so I’ll venture to reiterate it here…

    A Folly of Olympian Proportion:

    Wobbly Orbit

    Red Eye

    Bloody Tower

    Ego Sty.

  124. zeph permalink
    June 11, 2010 1:04 AM

    No, hic, the Orbit hasn’t been built yet and I’m hoping it’ll fall prey to a budget shortfall at a later stage. If not, the local youth will probably dismantle it and their Dads will sell it off for scrap.
    But the main stadium is up and a lot of other buildings that I don’t know what they are. None of it is beautiful, but then what was there before wasn’t either.

  125. hic8ubique permalink
    June 11, 2010 3:15 AM

    Then let’s hope the individual who is funding it has a personal budget shortfall sufficient to reorder his priorities.

    I’d like to enter the Freepoland School of Incongruous Assemblages of Nouns.
    I’ve tried on my own…
    macadam, halogen lamp …um, no.
    macadam, mackintosh, arrh!
    macadam, cockatoo, turkish delight, newel post. There!

    boll weevil, passementerie, no the weevil would eat the fabric…
    boll weevil, bamboo, …still too herbaceous…
    boll weevil, watch fob, sasquatch … no, auditory assoc.
    boll weevil, watch fob, edelweiss, …no too Swiss.
    See how difficult it is?

    I find it’s much more difficult to collect incongruities than associations.
    One more try:
    boll weevil, watch fob, metronome, carob bean gum.
    But there’s nothing delightful there, just a jumble.
    It’s a special freep faculty, and I’d like to be mentored.
    and even the metronome is ticking like the watch! I despair.

  126. freep permalink
    June 11, 2010 6:38 AM

    hic, it was charitable of you to tell me I have an aptitude for assembling incongruous collections of nouns. It pleases and flatters me far more than if you said
    (1) I had a bottom neater than Charlton Heston’s in Ben Hur.
    Or (2) that my ear wax has the consistency of melted pollen.
    Both of these manifest incongruity. (1) has some merit, (2) doesn’t. (1) came to me very spontaneous like, but I strained for (2) like a fellow trying to expel a concreted stool.
    But I cannot mentor you. I abandoned education a while ago, just as I abandoned enthusiasm, erections and tolerance. I could have added Whitsun or Lambrettas in there, but you can see how pathetically self-conscious and mannered that would be.

  127. mishari permalink*
    June 11, 2010 6:43 AM

    There’s a deeply affecting story in today’s news:

    It was, by any measure, a most unusual rally. Many of the placard-waving protesters gathered in a Perth park wore suits and ties, and impassioned speeches were delivered from the back of a flat-bed truck by two billionaires, including Australia’s richest woman.

    Gina Rinehart’s pearls glistened in the sunlight as she bellowed through a megaphone: “Axe the tax!” Ms Rinehart has a personal fortune of $4.8bn (£2.7bn). Andrew Forrest, in monogrammed worker’s overalls, told the well-mannered crowd that Australia was “turning Communist”. Mr Forrest is the country’s fourth richest person, worth an estimated $4.2bn.

    Both Mr Forrest and Ms Rinehart have amassed their wealth from digging up iron ore in the remote Pilbara region. Like other mining magnates, they have grown fabulously rich during a resources boom based largely on China’s insatiable demand for the coal, iron, nickel and other minerals that lie in abundance beneath Australia’s rust-red soil. —The Independent, today

    I daresay that your heart, like mine, bleeds for Australia’s oppressed billionaires. I urge you to follow my example and put together a care-package–tasty viands, decent wines, cigars and cashmere pullovers–to help tide them over this difficult time.

    I will be writing to the Prime Minister, urging him to sell the UK’s poor people to our hard-pressed Aussie friends (at a discount price, of course). They can put them to work in their mines or eat them.

  128. cellaroseus permalink
    June 11, 2010 7:51 AM

    Salt and pepper it is… gives the skinny dogg a certain patrician gravitas.

  129. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 11, 2010 12:27 PM

    Thank you. More salt than pepper, now I examine the thing closely. It also seems to be creeping further and further up my face. Should I survive another ten years I’ll resemble an elderly Ewok. I meant to remove it over twenty years ago, but a friend of mine told me that when he’d shaved his off his (young) children were frightened of him for some time afterwards. Of course, idleness set in after a time. God, the thought of shaving every day! No problem for metrosexuals such as the Prince, who probably spends all day shaving armpits, chest etc, but simply too bloody tedious for me.

  130. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    June 11, 2010 12:44 PM

    i have a goat, me
    i shave around the sides, me
    it makes me look sly

  131. mishari permalink*
    June 11, 2010 1:21 PM

    Sly, HLM? Diabolical, I should say.

    Quite right, MM. I have my monthly all-over body wax that leaves me looking like Michaelangelo’s David, only much better hung…

  132. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    June 11, 2010 1:38 PM

    Not like this, I trust…

  133. hic8ubique permalink
    June 11, 2010 1:38 PM

    Mishari’s nightmare:

  134. hic8ubique permalink
    June 11, 2010 1:39 PM

    amazing sex , HLM.

  135. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 11, 2010 1:49 PM

    Talk about synchronicity. Maybe Sting is due a revaluation… whirr… no, still crap.

    So next time you’re in Paris, Prince, and you sight a goatee-sporting smoker in a Blackpool shirt you can claim your £5.

  136. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 11, 2010 1:52 PM

    I don’t seem to have a euro sign on my keyboard. Must be one of those Israeli ones.

  137. mishari permalink*
    June 11, 2010 2:32 PM

    No, not like that…cheeky fuckers…

    I do hate to be the bearer of ill-tidings but according to the NYT:

    Crispian St. Peters, a British pop singer of the ’60s best known for his buoyant hit “Pied Piper” and his soulful version of “You Were on My Mind,” died on Tuesday at his home in Swanley, Kent, England. He was 71.

    I have never heard of him in my life. Doubtless Mowbray has all of his LPs…

  138. hic8ubique permalink
    June 11, 2010 6:06 PM

    Well! Safe to say I’ve never been called that before. Such a charmer.
    With hands like the David you really might play Rachmaninoff.
    Rach 3? I could picture that.

  139. mishari permalink*
    June 11, 2010 9:29 PM

    No offense, hic. I didn’t mean to suggest that you’re a habitual fornicator or The Whore of Babylon or anything…although if you are, I’m sure it’s in the best possible taste…

  140. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 11, 2010 10:51 PM

    hic has clearly led a sheltered life. It’s the currency of daily life on the IW.

    Police Officer: Please could you move your car, sir, you stupid fucker.

    Doctor: So which leg is it that hurts? Is it this fucker?

    Priest: Eat this fucker in remembrance of me.

    Strangely enough, I rouse myself at the name of Crispian. Old men forget, but he was a decent singer on his day.

  141. mishari permalink*
    June 11, 2010 11:18 PM

    You mean you’ve actually heard of the bugger? Hmmm…

    I take it your local priest is Father Jack? Feck…arse…drink…women. Sounds about right.

    Earlier this evening I was listening to Debussy’s orchestral piece Iberia when my youngest daughter began to spontaneously dance around the room to the music. So gracefully lovely and unselfconscious was she that my eyes flooded. Is that age or the booze?

  142. hic8ubique permalink
    June 12, 2010 12:58 AM

    I go about on such a high horse that I can’t hear what those tiny people down there are saying.
    Offence? On the contrary, Mishari, I took your epithet as an endearment reserved for friends.
    ‘Habitual fornicator’ and ‘Whore of Babylon’ I couldn’t countenance, were anyone to call me by those, because they’re ugly as well as false, although I was once affectionately (and memorably) called Jezebel ~ only once!
    I appreciate beauty in its many forms, but my tastes are far too eclectic and eccentric to be considered ‘the best’, except by my own self.
    In my 3D persona, I’m the very image of ethics and responsibility, so a bit of blog scandal indulges the shadow side of my moon.

    Cheekiness aside, I will (perhaps awkwardly) say that I’ve been privileged to find you here having your say, my old bottlerocket. Most days, you give me a good laugh, and always I’m enriched by your perceptions. I should have commented more often on the excellent pieces you write for us, because they are, though often more sardonic than my own views, at the same time illuminating and somehow humble (?!).
    I came across your remarks on the Theodora thread, which inspired this overdue compliment. I honestly find your writing lucid, exactingly learned, and serendipitously exceptional. I hope this isn’t too effusive for us to face each other in the morning, because I’d like to continue reading whatever you have to say in whatever format you should choose to present your thoughts. My first project is to make my way through the archives of this blog.

    Go ahead and laugh, MM. I love you too, but he is brilliant and we know it.

    ‘Is that age or the booze?’
    It’s your soul, my dear.

  143. Captain Ned permalink
    June 12, 2010 3:00 AM

    Booze… soul… it’s the same thing, really. Can one exist without the other?

    Anytimefrances has of late been displaying encouraging signs of geniality. I am dancing a jig at the thought.

    Meanwhile, I cannot commend too highly – this – (familiar to many of you already, I’m sure, but a revelation to young ‘uns such as myself)

  144. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    June 12, 2010 9:02 AM

    Thanks for your post, hic. Still can’t quite get over seeing “amazing sex” and “HLM” in the same sentence; it’s now my screensaver.

    But all the other lovey-dovey crap is just a way to lower our guard. Today we affront the Foe, the Cheneys and the Halliburtons. We must be ice-cool and free of emotion. True predators.

  145. mishari permalink*
    June 12, 2010 9:48 AM

    You’re too kind, hic, and I’m delighted that I sometimes amuse and occasionally inform. But you’re perfectly correct in assuming that epithets are meant affectionately. Friendly abuse is for people one’s fond of. The rest get frigid courtesy at best, bristling hostility at worst.

    You’re right, Ned. I’ve noticed a distinct mellowing in @atf, which is to be encouraged. She’s not such a bad sort.

    Too true, HLM. You could do worse than emulate me. I, in turn, base my behavior on the Great Hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), which are known to eat:

    …a large range of things, including fish, other sharks, squid, octopus, crustaceans, politicians, pop-singers, TV chefs, evangelists, journalists and people who use the word ‘so’ as a superfluous intensifier/qualifier/modifier, as The Grauniad’s Sarah Crown does, revealing her to be a bubble-head. They are also known to eat their own young.

  146. June 12, 2010 10:19 AM


    To take exception with a benign sovereign speaking informally in the basking of his bath of adoration would never do, but I must insist that your claim to be modeling your conduct on that of the Great Hammerhead seems a bit hard.

    On the Great Hammerhead, I mean.

    All joking aisde, I have always assumed you were and are entirely Serious.

    As well as Great.

    (Céline in his ravings around 1944/45 insisted it was the end of The Civilization of the Whites, whatever that may have meant… the fellow was clearly delirious…)

  147. mishari permalink*
    June 12, 2010 11:10 AM

    Reading Céline’s more crazed diatribes and even certain passages in his novels, I often get the impression of a wounded animal, lashing out blindly at unseen and unknown tormentors…poor man.

    Those Great Whites are truly frightening. All that power and grace fronted by a mouthful of daggers and those terrible, merciless flat black eyes. This footage from Attenborough’s Planet Earth will put the fear of God into anyone contemplating a dip in the ocean:

  148. zeph permalink
    June 12, 2010 11:40 AM

    “You were on my mind” is an excellent song, and here it is:

    (the video or singagram or whatever it was called then is out of sync, but it was early days)

    Praise for the Prince? His every arrival should be greeted with fanfares and general obeisance, as I believe is indeed the custom when he proceeds through Spitalfields.

    re ATF, being short of time and inspiration lately and also very bored by Swords, I’ve mostly taken a break from PP, but I did notice on a recent brief visit that she had stopped ranting and was writing good stuff.

  149. cellaroseus permalink
    June 12, 2010 12:22 PM

    Ah yes, Crispian, from that golden two year period of the pop “45” before The Beatles ruined everything with Sgt. Pepper…

    I saw Ringo fairly recently as it happens, driving a very dinky blue lotus… I would have had it out with him about this very issue but I hear he is not keen on “fans” approaching him, even less so those who blame him and what’s left of his old pals, personally for killing pure pop I should imagine.

    Not to be confused with Chalfont St. Giles. That’s more of an er… condition.

  150. hic8ubique permalink
    June 12, 2010 3:06 PM

    It seems the end of the ancient Civilisation of the [Great] Whites is at hand since they and many other shark species are now on the endangered list. We see small sand-sharks and dog-fish around here, but they don’t typically bite swimmers.

    I’m just like SO [This is unacceptable-Ed.] honoured to have inspired your screen saver, Henry-Wenry, and I’m SO NOT [And this is even more unacceptable. Control yourself-Ed.] going to spill lovey-doveyness all over the thread. I am the soul of discretion; post simultaneously with me anytime, sweet Moonums.

  151. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 12, 2010 4:31 PM

    yes, he’s SOOOOO [This is quite acceptable-Ed.] brilliant

    brilliant as the stars that shine
    and twinkle on the Milky Way
    the stars in never-ending line
    which are twinkling at midday.

  152. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 12, 2010 4:38 PM

    Maradona’s beard isn’t very ambitious. I would have expected more sculpting, HLM-style.

  153. June 12, 2010 7:25 PM

    Oddly even Maradona now comes off as strangely modest, almost saintlike, as does everything else that is being put through the harrowing of the horns.

  154. June 12, 2010 7:25 PM

    Then again, one may also consider it evenly odd.

  155. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 12, 2010 11:16 PM

    England. A pathetic excuse for a team. I hope they all get foot rot.

    Maradona does seem very calm and more at peace with himself than I’ve ever seen, the lying cheating bastard. I hope he gets beard rot.

  156. mishari permalink*
    June 12, 2010 11:38 PM

    A bunch of over-paid prima donnas. For Christ’s sake, the septics don’t even take ‘soccer’ seriously. Their best athletes go into baseball, basketball, football, tennis, hockey, volleyball, ping-pong–almost anything but ‘soccer’. Ingerland should stick to sports it’s actually good at like, erm…talking about the weather, getting attacked by urban foxes and losing at tennis.

  157. MeltonMowbray permalink
    June 13, 2010 12:09 AM

    Accidentally catching a slice of the IW Festival on TV I had the experience of seeing Sting’s daughter performing. Weirdly, the chap singer’s voice was exactly the same as her dad’s. I wonder if he has tantrically inserted his horrible whine into this young man’s vocal chords?

  158. cellaroseus permalink
    June 13, 2010 9:58 AM

    I am liking Diego Maradonna’s new look very much… like a fat, sleek spaghetti western/Dirty Harry “Mr. Beeeeeagggg” villain one could imagine Clint icing in the final scene, bloodied belly protruding from the $1000 suit as he lies beached on the axminster.

    The luxuriant beard and ‘tache combo particularly impressive. Is that what MM meant by salt and pepper?

  159. June 14, 2010 9:44 AM

    I watched a football match on Saturday. I tried my best to integrate with the football knowing people in the room but blew my cover when I observed that Robert Green was the name of the poet/playwright that first referenced Shakespeare in print. Apparently that isn’t suitable football banter.

    The doomed Green (the alive one), apparently, went to the same school in Norwich as I did. Having possibly been taught by the same Pe teacher as me, the mystery of his physical confusion and lack of coordination is solved.

  160. freep permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:17 AM

    I was at a wedding in Kent on Saturday, in one of those hotels that does functions, and efficiently processes matrimony and cash, while persuading you that duck in hoi sin sauce in a wrap, washed down with prosecco, is bliss.

    At 7.30 prompt, two uncomfortable wedding parties ceased all activities celebrating hymen, to sit facing large screens and complain about Crouch and Rooney. All except the exquisite trembling bride and sundry children in filmy glitter, who carried on jumping about to interminable Slade and Quo music.

    I was reduced to examining the growth of a misplaced eucalyptus tree among holly and field maples in a deep dark hedge, where stray hop plants twined about and lent it all a beery smell. Robert Green is a fine old-sounding name, redolent of Robin Hood and country matters, far too good for a footballer. But goalkeepers are solitary and thoughtful people. I am sure he will recover.

  161. mishari permalink*
    June 14, 2010 10:19 AM

    Albert Camus
    Said all he knew
    From heart to soul
    He learned in goal.

  162. June 14, 2010 6:36 PM


    I did enjoy his line about the goalkeeper gaining direct access to the cemetery.

    Re. the Green errour, same sort of goalkeeper gaffe undid Algeria yesterday, by the by, something that would have probably pained Camus deeply, even as it confirmed his sense of the Absurd.

    (Where were your loyalties there I wonder?)

    Unfortunate for England to be humiliated by having points taken from them by the, what was your apt phrase, septics?

    One felt sorrier for Algeria though, what with the relative lack of WAGS & c. in their train to relieve the sorrows.

    While on Camus, Zidane (glimpsed enduring Algeria and the vuvuzelas yesterday from the VIP box in stoic silence) and other obscure footballers from the lower depths, I’ve also been having, these past few days, having been following your thread, and out of sympathy for the rabid, an unexpected attack of something resembling nostalgia for Maradona.

    At least he is less insufferable than those unceasing horns and some other things. All is relative.

  163. June 14, 2010 6:43 PM

    Er, perdoname: Maradona.

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