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Time Out Of Joint

June 30, 2010




Let us go in together,
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let’s go together.

Hamlet, Act 1, scene 5, 186–190

Politicians like to panic, they need activity. It is their substitute for achievement —Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes, Minister

Despite the proposed budget-slashing havoc threatened by the Tories and their (I’m sorry to say) lap-dogs, the Liberal Democrats, I wonder how much damage these transient occupants of the halls of power will really be allowed to do? The civil service and its deeply entrenched under-secretaries and mandarins never take kindly to interference from politicians, something that the Tories are only too aware of.

But it’s a dangerous game that the Tories propose to play. Without a compliant (or at least co-operative) civil service, all their plans must come to naught. After all, politicians don’t really know how things run, making it virtually impossible for them to make them run differently. The proposals the Tories are making for reform of Whitehall have already alienated the very people that they must depend on to see their nasty agenda realised. It’s one thing to announce policies, programs and reforms and to pass legislation in the House; it’s a very different thing to actually get things done. Inertia is our friend. Here’s hoping.

In the meantime, as unpromising a subject as it must appear, let’s have poems on civil servants (mine’s a re-tread from about 3 years ago on Carol’s POTW thread):


From Memphis To Whitehall

The great trunks of stone lack tone, almost flaccid;
no sneer of command, hard faces placid:
devoid of surmise.

They solemnly wait for the river to rise;
all’s mystery to them; the real power lies
just off-stage, feline and wise,
the cat-footed servants, languid and thoughtful,
shift the scenery and paint the skies
and know they’re immortal.

(from a ‘hideous Pope’ to a hideous civil servant: sorry, hic…)

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

    Broadwalks House, 1977

    Outside, a big mock-Gothic entrance, lines
    of nailed-down sash windows, a colour scheme
    in royal blue and shades of flaking dirt,
    a long drive, concreted now: tired old trees.
    Someone’s home, once, a Victorian dream
    of cosy fifteen-bedroom family life
    as stodgy as the food they used to eat.
    Still, one idea of how things ought to be.

    Inside, ash-streaked orange carpet, curtains
    brown with nicotine, rows of plastic chairs
    and grey metal benches chained to the floor.
    At the other end, the cubicles. White,
    shabby, chained stools: a small window with bars
    like a bank. The point of being here’s the same-
    money-but in banks they like you since they’re sure
    you’ve got some. Here they don’t and aren’t. The tight,

    perm-topped faces ask different questions too,
    in different sharp-edged voices. Do you
    fuck someone on a regular basis?
    Avoid work? Cheat your kids? Usually lie?
    Steal (much)? Is anything you’re saying true?
    And those returning from their interviews
    look embarrassed and ashamed. Well, is this
    any idea of how things ought to be?

    Hardly. Perhaps the object of this place
    is to show you that being unemployed
    means bad, naughty, sinful, everything else
    that Dad loaded you with. And when you’ve had
    your turn, and you hurry through the patient crowd
    of bored, blank, distracted, frightened faces,
    through the stunned quiescent hopelessness,
    you can’t help thinking that a point’s been made.

  2. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 1, 2010 12:01 AM

    From the MeltonMowbray Archive (a cardboard box in my mother’s loft) dated 1978. God, I was a talentless fucker even then.

  3. mishari permalink*
    July 1, 2010 3:13 AM

    Yes, I fear you were a very unlovely youth, what with your being all hopped-up on that SLD and having ‘trips’ on pep-pills and smoking cannibals (or ‘tea’ as I believe you ‘hep cats’ call it). Hanging around on street corners selling ‘stuff’, in your zoot-suit and Hush Puppies, with your ‘beat’ music like that Cliff Richard and other delinquents. Bring back National Service and the birch, I say…

  4. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 1, 2010 8:20 AM

    The din of Polish workers
    Is messing with my muse
    The loud, beer-willing shirkers
    Are upsetting my metre and rhyme

    The burden of translation
    Is harder now to bear
    My small occupied nation
    Wishes they’d fuck off back to Lodz
    Or Krakow or wherever

  5. July 1, 2010 9:49 AM

    On hearing that the private sector will in fact create 2m new jobs.

    Keep saying it
    Til your face is blue.

    Keep saying it
    It will come true.

    The last resort
    Of those who have no clue

  6. cellaroseus permalink
    July 1, 2010 12:01 PM

    This de-brief never happened

    Took the examination,
    Civil Service “high flyer”
    and did, “…rather well,
    could have scored no higher

    but our files here tell us,
    room, somewhat rosy,
    that in matters
    things aint quite so cosy.

    Enemy of state?

    Thank you,
    no thanks.
    I think we’ll file under –

  7. July 1, 2010 2:31 PM


    I’m working Saturday and Sunday so won’t be able to catch your show in Greenwich. But if I made it by 7ish would you still be around for a respectful handshake?

  8. mishari permalink*
    July 1, 2010 2:46 PM

    Hey, XB…glad you’re still around. Listen…I’m passing along series 3 of Breaking Bad and I was wondering if you’d be interested in any or all of the following: Cocksucker Blues; Stones In Exile (a docu released to coincide with the release of the re-mastered LP, it’s pretty good; a Doors docu called When You’re Strange that I haven’t watched yet; a docu called Zizek! that I found highly entertaining and Zizek’s The Perverts Guide To Cinema, which I missed when it was shown on Ch4 in 2006 but is shaping up to be really interesting). All? Some? None?

    Same question, MM re: the ones I hadn’t mentioned before. I really enjoyed Zizek!, BTW. He sometimes talks some awful bollocks (well, he is a Lacanite or Lacanian or whatever the buggers are called) but he also makes some fascinating points. Brain food.

  9. July 1, 2010 3:13 PM

    XB that’s a pity – by 7.00 on Sunday we should still be loading the van if you are passing.

    Ignore any request to “Hold this for a second” and come and say hello.

    But by 7.20/7.30 we should be straight outta Greenwich and homeward bound ( more accurately traffic jam bound ).

  10. July 1, 2010 4:53 PM

    Hi Mishari,

    I’m still around and checking in daily. Have had a low time recently, no job and my dad was diagnosed with cancer, so I’ve not felt I could contribute much in the way of non-maudlin verse or cheerful comment. However, my recent experiences with the job centre may well fuel a civil-service-related diatribe.

    Coincidentally, I pieced together Cocksucker Blues on YouTube recently. It could be one of my favourite horror films. I wrote a short story based on it, which I intend to put up on my neglected website soon. All the films you mention would be very welcome indeed, thanks as ever. There was an article in the Observer this weekend about Zizek; I’d never heard of him but he sounds an interesting character.


    ‘hold this for a minute’ is pretty much how I got involved in theatre in the first place way back when. It slowly turned into ‘direct this for a minute’.

  11. July 1, 2010 5:14 PM

    XB sorry to hear your bad news.

    I agree with you on “Cocksucker Blues” a scary portrait of some emotionally numb people – Jagger in particular.

    The Stones have a great lurching rough sound to them but I’ve always really detested Jagger’s voice.

  12. mishari permalink*
    July 1, 2010 6:19 PM

    Sorry to hear about your father, XB. I seem to remember reading that 1 in 3 of us now die of cancer, a disease that was virtually unheard of pre-1900. When you plot a graph of the increase in the consumption of processed foods, sugar and animal fats and compare it to a graph of % of deaths from heart disease and cancer, the connection becomes obvious. Mind you, some people just die of bad luck.

    I’m not much fucking cop at this consolation lark, am I? Sorry.

    The films are winging their way to you. Zizek is a ‘philosopher’, i.e. public ‘thinker’. But he’s very entertaining and very perceptive. The problem I have with him (and it’s not a major problem) is his scattergun approach: the bastard is all over the place. But great value and his thoughts on film are never less than engaging…

  13. hic8ubique permalink
    July 1, 2010 11:30 PM

    ExitB ~ Best of luck circulating your CV, and I hope you won’t despair. Unless your Dad has an advanced stage of cancer or an aggressive tumour, he may have many vital years after treatment.
    I’ve known ancient long-term survivors of a variety of cancers, including melanoma, although the treatments are still sometimes torturous. Keep us posted. (I haven’t noticed a cheerfulness proviso here– only look at MM.)

    The early diagnostics are so good now, everyone should make a point of getting them.
    That, plus minimising the toxic exposures within ones control like formaldehyde, dioxins, herbicides, insecticides, perchlorate dry-cleaning fumes emanating from bedroom closets! &c…all known carcinogens that Monsanto types foist on the unwary, as well as the dietary factors Mishari mentions.

    My Dad has taken to enjoying a cigar in the garden every day now with his crossword, though for years he limited himself to one at Christmas. That tells me that, at 82, he’s shifted to a focus on quality of life rather than duration. He’s earned it.

    Mishari~ your poem ‘From Memphis to Whitehall’ is a stunner. I somehow love ‘devoid of surmise’, but the entire thing really (especially helpful when I realised second time through: it’s the ancient Memphis! :)

    And solicitude is always most welcome, but I like your civil servant with his conniving fingers. He reminds me of the Noble Alcock from the ’80s Delderfield series, back when I still enjoyed a bit of television (not exciting to you adrenaline junkies, I know). He was the sort one loves to hate.

  14. mishari permalink*
    July 1, 2010 11:48 PM

    Thanks, hic. We know that ancient Egypt had a large civil service and I suspect that for all we hear about Pharaoh this and Pharaoh that, they actually ran things.

    There’s a wonderful bust in the British Museum, circa. 2500 B.C. labeled ‘Sumerian Official’. Seeing it a couple of years ago, one of my sons said “He looks just like that man from the council (I’d had an official from our local Planning Dept around to inspect a planned extension)”. And he was right, the bust really did look like the man from the Planning Dept.

    If that Sumerian had come to life, he could have donned a suit and tie and walked straight into an office job without anyone turning a hair.

  15. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 2, 2010 12:22 AM

    Sorry to hear about your father, ExitB.

    This civil service poetry is a bloody tough nut to crack.

  16. hic8ubique permalink
    July 2, 2010 12:51 AM

    Well, I liked your early one as well, Mowbray.
    There’s a bit of Larkin’s coastal shelf feeling in it, I’d say.
    I do remember orange carpet! Frightful.

  17. hic8ubique permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:22 AM

    Back again…meant to say, M.
    there’s a whiff of the History prof. about you sometimes. I’m not asking, just noticing. It’s a certain tone comes over you that takes me back…
    Thought I had nothing to say about civil servants, but then this happened:

    Civil to a Servant of the Law

    As I stride onto the empty beach
    with my handsome Alsatian
    at heel, a cop smiles at us
    content in his cruiser,
    imbibing twilight on water.

    As we reach the far shoal,
    a factotum exerts toward us:
    ‘Do you live in Gloucester?’*
    (another lost one)
    Yes, can I help you?
    ‘You know there’s a law:
    No dogs allowed.’
    Yes, but I’ve had a word
    with the dog warden.
    It’s after hours, and I have a bag…
    ‘No dogs on the beach!’
    (head wagging)
    Thank you very much.

    ‘So don’t bring him back!’
    … Are you assaulting me, sir?
    ‘No… I’m just telling you the Law.’
    Are you with Animal Control?
    ‘No. I’m just a person who
    cares about the Rules.’
    Well, do take the (officious homunculus)
    exam; there may be a real job for you.

    We’ll be back on our beach
    tomorrow evening.
    What a good boy.

    [* not the ancient one]

  18. cellaroseus permalink
    July 2, 2010 8:09 AM

    Enjoyed that little guess at mm’s day job hic. Perfect cover for the intelligent but idle curmudgeon I should guess.

    His Civil Service

    Melton Mowbray, hist’ry prof.
    prone to dry and sceptical scoff,
    was appointed to a quango post,
    about which perch he liked to boast
    that he was now, “The great and good,
    his years of service, understood.”

    But the first meet
    went somewhat badly,
    his suit of tweed
    stank somewhat sadly.
    And that pint of port?
    A bad mistake.
    Served to make the old gout ache.

    His smell and grumbling
    much offended;

    a single meeting,

    career ended.

  19. mishari permalink*
    July 2, 2010 8:23 AM

    Actually, cella, I think she was guessing at my day job, not MM’s. I guess it’s the irritatingly didactic tone of the born pedant and arch-bore that I sometimes adopt.

    I must stop reading Suetonius at bed-time and sprinkling methamphetamine on my cornflakes….but, no: I’m not a historian, although MM is a historical artefact…

    Good poems, anyway, though….

  20. July 2, 2010 9:08 AM

    Mishari we all know you are a freelance potentate with no portfolio.

    Of the civil service people tend to think
    Of scribes at desks,
    Fingers stained with ink.
    Sitting in rows like anonymous drones
    The men meek mice,
    The women shrill crones.
    Gazing at the clock’s slowlyy passing hour
    Which emphasises
    Their lack of power.
    Their career path – a ladder with no rungs
    Their epitaphs
    Of lives unsung.

    Have to rush to the Bologna Book Festival ( sigh – again! ) so no time to resolve this. Back on Monday.

  21. mishari permalink*
    July 2, 2010 9:26 AM

    I’m sorry I’ll miss you, Ed, as I understand you’ll be down my way this weekend. But it’s off to Paris and the in-laws this evening. Still, have a good show…break a leg or perhaps if XB comes around, you could break his leg instead…that’ll cheer him up.

  22. cellaroseus permalink
    July 2, 2010 10:45 AM

    single m of course but rather confirmed my notions of mm as a sort of long de-frocked (de-tweeded?) academic… one might have great fun speculating upon the precise details.

    Your good self I have viewed as having the Corinthian spirit of the much-leisured polymath to whom the narrow, if well-renumerated, duties quangocracy would simply not appeal.

  23. mishari permalink*
    July 2, 2010 11:11 AM

    Corinthian…that’s me alright, with a wide streak of the Spartan that has me endlessly worrying that I’m going ‘soft’.

    Life, eh? A hopeless proposition, terrible prognosis, lousy alternative but we’re stuck with it. Never mind: the cure comes soon enough…

  24. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 2, 2010 11:33 AM

    Scotch Studies 105

    Professor M. Al-Adwani is the leader of this course, which is a hands-on research-based investigation into the effects of alcohol on the human body. Fieldwork is essential, and students will be expected to provide the course leader with substantial samples of materials acquired at alcohol supply points.

    Prof Al-Adwani is an authority on alcohol abuse, and his three works on the subject, Mine’s A Scotch, Who You Looking At? and You’re My Best Mate, You Are are regarded as seminal.

    from the prospectus of Nagshead University, Bromley.

  25. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 2, 2010 11:36 AM

    Bloody civil service poem. [Stop yer whining and get a move on, you idle sodEd.]

  26. mishari permalink*
    July 2, 2010 11:56 AM

    Pity you didn’t name-check some of my earlier works such as: Whoops, Sorry About Your Shoes, Darling; Vomit Is Good For Carpets; What Do You Mean ‘I Think You’ve Had Enough’, You Bastard’? and perhaps my most influential work: ‘I’m Not Sure, Doctor–I Must Have Slipped’...

  27. freep permalink
    July 2, 2010 12:51 PM

    Abbe Al-Adwani is also Visiting Professor of Ossianic Lore here at the Tweedside College of Braided Technology; his advisory work on the 400-mile long Sir Walter Scott tapestry has been much appreciated (‘Bin the fucking lot!’), but we are still waiting for him to attend one of our many award ceremonies, to collect his complimentary Al-Adwani tartan.

    MM, heat struck and torn between composing and turning the compost heap. May have to resort to McGonagalll again for the civil service…..

  28. July 2, 2010 2:05 PM

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

    ET, not sure I’ll make it by 20 past 7 but we’ll see. It’s a great place to be performing. I saw London Bubble do Pericles there, eight years ago.

  29. Pollyanna permalink
    July 2, 2010 5:34 PM

    Interesting questions Misha as to how much can really be changed. I fear that the spending cuts will occur in the places where only the little people matter, not in Whitehall or in the government offices, but that it will come in cuts to services. I’ve just been reading about a case which decided that it was not in breach of the rights of the elderly to remove them to cheaper care homes, even where this could endanger their health, so an official green light might end up with them all being shipped off to live in sheds. Also I noticed the scrapping of the NHS waiting list targets, and no doubt there will be lots of other cuts in the health service. Dead people can’t vote right?

    Misha, have you turned into John Mills or some other such classic actor?

  30. hic8ubique permalink
    July 2, 2010 5:50 PM

    So, cella, you too enjoy a bit of speculation.
    You may have hit on it:
    MM’s reticence today is due to his long and sour civil service career? He’s shorted out!
    You have the polymath dead to rights. It’s a wonder some people find anyone to talk to.

    Mishari~ whence this fatalism? a woefully dry bedtime ritual? dwelling on fallen civilisations?

    It’s a particular impression I’ve noticed among men in their 50s, the athletes especially: they imagine they’re ‘going soft’, when in truth their myofasciae are gradually desiccating to concrete. Tsk.

    Good to see you, Pollyannabelle.

    • Polly permalink
      July 4, 2010 8:07 PM

      Nice to be able to pop in, I am a bit all over the place at the moment, in many ways…

  31. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 2, 2010 11:54 PM

    Not fit for purpose

    When Alaric and his Visigoth mob
    stood in the wreck of Imperial Rome,
    they thought they’d done a pretty good job
    until they received that letter from home,

    asking why 120 shields
    had disappeared from the inventory,
    and requesting detail on the plunder yields:
    somehow it took the shine off victory.

    Same with Napoleon after Austerlitz,
    that harping on men and materiel lost,
    it really got on the Emperor’s tits,
    he would have preferred to forget the cost.

    When Lenin found he had to get a grip,
    he dropped the dogma for whatever worked:
    the proletariat’s dictatorship
    was administered by the Tsarist clerks.

    When the monarchs and the tyrants fall,
    and the empires and republics are gone,
    when the governments have gone to the wall
    the penpushers’ army goes scribbling on.

    When Armageddon has ruined this nation,
    there’ll be a clerk in a protective pod,
    working out the costs of restoration
    and sending off the estimates to God.

  32. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 3, 2010 12:16 AM

    Thank God that’s over. Actually, I did once apply for a job in the Civil Service sometime in the late 70s. I got into an argument with one of the interviewers which became quite heated. I didn’t get it.

    Wotcher, Poll. Haven’t seen you about for a bit.

  33. mishari permalink*
    July 3, 2010 12:42 PM

    Hello, Poll…long time no see. The elderly do very well in sheds. I have half a dozen Cuban septuagenarians living in a shed in my garden, rolling my cigars and making my rum. Except for sporadic fainting and coughing negligible amounts of blood, they’re as fit as fiddles…

    John Mills? Why John Mills? Isn’t he dead? And even when he wasn’t (dead, I mean), he looked like hell. Is that what you’re saying: that I look like hell? Cheek…

    Great stuff, MM.

    hic, it’s not so much the physical softness that I worry about as moral, intellectual and aesthetic ‘softness’. I fear I’m being corrupted by easy living. Between the ages of 25 and 40, I was more or less perpetually broke: it kept me on my toes; now I worry that I’m becoming a:

    lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side…

    like Mowbray…

    • Polly permalink
      July 4, 2010 8:16 PM

      Erm. Oops. Didn’t mean to offend, I’m totally hopeless at recognising famous people. People actually avoid picking me for quiiz teams, but I notice you’ve changed your little profile picture thingy on here and thought it was some classic actor or other. Apologies for causing offence. I’m sure you look very much alive and healthy, although you could be typing from beyond the grave somehow… surely ghosts keep up with the times the same as everyone else?

      I now have room for a couple of elderly residents in my shed, after a major clear-out, if they don’t mind spiders, I didn’t find John Mills though, nor even a spider that resembled him.

      MM – if Germany beat Argentina 4-0 and we lost to Germany 1 (2) – 4, then surely we have effectively beaten Argentina by 1(2) by default?

      I’ve been absent and I think I shall remain so on and off for a bit, just very busy and a bit out of sorts really, so best to keep it to myself.

      Hope you’re all ok.

  34. hic8ubique permalink
    July 3, 2010 4:19 PM

    It is a thespianesque head-shot. Maybe Polly’s remembering Robert Mitchum?

    Sorry, Mishari! Comparisons are inevitably insulting. I hate being told I remind people of Renee Fleming (ugh), but Princess Grace? I find I can tolerate that.

    To live more at ease may allow a soft-heartedness as well, that had less grace in keener times…

    ‘Give me my hand,’ saith he, ‘why dost thou feel it?’
    ‘Give me my heart,’ saith she, ‘and thou shalt have it;
    O! give it me, lest thy hard heart do steel it,
    And being steel’d, soft sighs can never grave it:
    Then love’s deep groans I never shall regard,
    Because Adonis’ heart hath made mine hard.’

  35. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 4, 2010 11:10 AM

    A fully costed proposal.

    You’ve stapled my heart, Ms Golightly,
    your slightly pudgy but lovely white hands
    have stolen my thoughts and wrapped them tightly
    in government issue elastic bands.

    It was while we worked on benefit fraud,
    on chilly stakeouts in freezing weather,
    you made the step-change to my adored:
    I realised we belong together.

    Sitting in the car sharing black coffee,
    doing the cryptic crossword in the Sun;
    when you took down that double amputee
    I knew our hearts were beating as one.

    Having very carefully thought this through,
    and considered its impact on my life,
    I offer the post of girlfriend, with a view
    to cohabitation as man and wife.

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 4, 2010 11:20 AM

    Fuck off Argentina! The sadness on Diego’s face almost made me feel sorry for the cheating bastard. Almost.

    I sympathise, hic. Those people who come up to me in Tesco saying ooh Mr Depp can I have your autograph get short shrift, I can tell you. Those old biddies who say I remind them of a young Errol Flynn get a smile and a chuck under the chin.

  37. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 5, 2010 12:12 AM

    Poll, the Prince’s avatar is clearly Dickie Attenborough. It’s a tribute to his work on A Chorus Line, one of His Highness’ favourite films.

    u r gay v. Holland. You couldn’t make it up.

  38. July 5, 2010 9:31 AM

    Just back from Bologna where I met the real Cap’n Ned and EXB. I had assumed they, like everyone else on this blog were at least 2 decades older than me and vastly less attractive.

    This isn’t the case however.

    Am currently still anylising available data and numvber-crunching but I am a hair’s breadth away from proving that MM is in fact a tree surgeon who was born in Frome.

  39. mishari permalink*
    July 5, 2010 9:32 AM

    Dickie fucking Attenborough? How too, too obtuse of you, darling…mwah, mwah…fuck off.

    So, who to support? The stolid, shpliff-wielding cheese-heads or the oily dago chancers?

    The real Cap’n Ned and XB, Ed? You mean, as opposed to all those annoying Cap’n Ned and XB impersonators that one keeps running into?

  40. July 5, 2010 10:52 AM

    Yes as it happens.

    Have heard tell that there is a gated community of Melton Mowbrays living near Oldham.

  41. mishari permalink*
    July 5, 2010 11:04 AM

    Watch-towers, barbed-wire, mine-fields and armed guards…it’s ‘gated’, alright.

  42. hic8ubique permalink
    July 5, 2010 4:02 PM

    Tesco certainly looms large in your world, M. Depp. Your ‘proposal’ is inspired. Sorry this doesn’t suit your inclination for rhymes.
    It may not even count as CS, but yesterday was a weird day,
    so I chopped up some prose…

    Independence Day 2010

    Tariq is sweating. In between
    expressions of Thanks for changing
    tables, he speaks into his cuff,
    elbow cocked, a coil
    disappearing into his black suit.
    No, the party do need two tables,
    but not together, for privacy.
    Mine will be the buffer.

    Following suits’ dark bulk
    mind sight-lines, Tariq’s coils
    directing them in stern undertones.
    Do they mean to keep a low profile?
    asks first-mate Dennis.
    Ratio one to one, the six protected
    step demurely as tame roe-deer
    into a clearing (please do not approach)
    except the impassive boy, grave
    at the leather-bound rail,
    like Mother who listens void
    into her mobile. Pretty girls’ sweet
    smiles unveiled happy to be out
    on the harbour, deep eyes
    served only Coke, anything else?
    by eager young waiters.

    104F and the SS men swelter
    taking nothing, fasting.
    Behind my shades I note
    the youngest daughter
    in shifting gladiator sandals
    begins to laugh once
    surprised when our narrator sings
    the Holmes poem USS Constitution.
    Only six, her hair and skin
    may receive the slight breeze on
    a breathless day for boat horns
    water spouts and cannon blanks.

    The distracted mother smiles nods
    when we prepare to disembark.
    Tariq, eyes scanning, grills
    a limo-driver early at the gangway.
    *Everyone please remain seated away
    from the aft deck* No, never mind;
    The Family will go down with
    everyone else, wishing to be
    like normal people.

  43. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:32 PM

    The Sound of Bureaucracy

    Filing and flip charts and paper in packets,
    Shrink wrap and scissors and books in dustjackets,
    Boxes of biros of various sorts,
    These are a few of my obsessive thoughts.

    Gel pens and markers and boxes of pins,
    Post-its and pencils and wastepaper bins,
    All the stuff that the stationers brought,
    These are a few of my obsessive thoughts.

    Rulers and markers and vouchers for lunches,
    Labels and faxes and document punches,
    All that’s important for office support,
    These are a few of my obsessive thoughts.

    When my hand shakes,
    When my brain shorts,
    When I’m feeling bad,
    Then I remember my obsessive thoughts,
    And I go totally mad.

  44. mishari permalink*
    July 5, 2010 8:54 PM

    You know, I think I actually wrote some verse about offices or something of that sort for Bill’s Poster Poems a couple of years ago. Must check. I expect you did, too, MM. Although perhaps your Sound Of Musak re-working is from that era?

    So you had a pleasant boat trip for July 4th, hic? Let me guess: Long Island Sound?

  45. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:54 PM

    I’ve tried singing it, and it seems to work. I am tone-deaf though.

    Despite the lack of rhyme I like that, hic. Terrific ending.

  46. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 5, 2010 9:14 PM

    Can’t remember the PP on offices. I was looking for one of freep’s there a few weeks ago and most of the PP archive seemed to be corrupted. I meant to contact Guardian IT but cba.

  47. July 5, 2010 9:41 PM

    I will not rest, I cannot rest
    Til I’m sitting in that front middle desk
    My stationary designed to turn eyes green
    My calendar picture tastefully obscene.
    My coffee mug with an amusing caption
    My desk toy: an amusing contraption.
    Ten year’s hard work here I’ll get my wish
    An aquarium stocked full of tropical fish.
    My rise to the top will involve some squealing
    Something I find not particularly appealing
    But who needs those who are clock watchers?
    Whose computer skills mark them out as botchers.
    Whose time in the office deserves a look
    To stop them wasting time on Face-book.

    But at the moment it’s best to keep my thoughts to myself.
    My time is coming. Watch out for your health.

  48. mishari permalink*
    July 5, 2010 9:46 PM

    You’re right, though. The archive is corrupted. The most it’ll show on any given thread is the first fifty posts, which in the case of Poster Poems means sometimes as many as 200 more are lost.

    Christ, you’d think The Guardian, for all it’s drooling over Apple and technology, could manage to get their website right. They’ve had over 10 years, for fuck’s sake…

    I distinctly remember poems about offices. I wonder if it was one of those curious off-topic branches that we all tended to wander off down. I’m pretty sure I remember Bill (I’m pretty sure it was him) giving us a bunch of words like: stapler, sellotape, file…stuff like that..and challenging us to come up with a poem. Ring any bells?

    Very good, Miss Taylor…take a letter…you know, you’re quite beautiful without your glasses?

  49. freep permalink
    July 5, 2010 10:07 PM

    Whitehall, 1530

    Men labour so sore in fruitlesse vanitie
    To maken sense fro thir masters’ insanitie;
    Tho rules they have packen in boxes so redd,
    Rules for wrapping up hogsmeat in malten bred.

    ‘Fie get me tho numbres of migrants so swart,
    And maken them swell beyont what men once thought’
    Says the ministre bold, with soupe on he vest
    And whiskres that bristle like straws in a nest.

    ‘Next, makken me a speach so loftie and hye
    That all men will deme me a Godd, by and bye.’
    And stampen his fote till the ground it do shake
    And his pauvre feeble sarvaunts their heads they do ake.

    ‘Look sharp, all ye dolts, and know I am in charge,
    A man of puissance, and knowledge so large!’
    He leaves for his dinner of lobstre so rare,
    Whiles clerkes meeke and beadles do scribe in despaire.

    And forge him false figures, and write a base speach,
    And fetch him stale women to flounce on his beach,
    And gossip like potmen behind his fat arse
    But ne’er rock his stool, nor dare poyson his glasse.

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 5, 2010 10:57 PM

    Eat your heart out, Hilary Mantel. Nice one, freep.

    I remember that office thing. Was it on a POTW? I’m pretty sure freep was involved as well.

  51. hic8ubique permalink
    July 5, 2010 10:58 PM

    I’m pleased, Mowbray, knowing the careful attention you give to endings yourself. That one was literally what my intense new friend Tariq said in the moment.

    No, Mishari, ‘Old Ironsides’ is in Boston (y’know the other cradle of civ) and is towed out for her turnaround every year to weather alternating sides and maintain her …’active duty status’, you betcha.
    But hmm memories of Sag Harbour, Montauk…why there?

    Wanted to mention, I’ve had that experience with the GU archives cut to 50 comments, but found a poem I wanted in my own comment history, which was still extant.

  52. mishari permalink*
    July 5, 2010 11:12 PM

    Of course, the USS Constitution (which is, like HMS Victory, still in ‘active’ commission). I don’t know how I missed that…for some reason, I had the impression that you lived in Connecticut, hence the Long Island Sound.

    Great stuff, freep–sort of Jacobean Office Revenge Tragedy…

    Not a bad idea, hic (searching one’s own comment archive) but no use to someone like me who’s had about 50 different user-names…

  53. hic8ubique permalink
    July 5, 2010 11:38 PM

    Oh, freep, I think it’s the newly uncovered ‘Politician’s Tale’.

    50 different user-names coming back to haunt.
    I really am in Gloucester(not the ancient one)MA.

  54. mishari permalink*
    July 6, 2010 12:01 AM

    Oh, right…Marblehead By The Sea, Gloucester By The Smell, if I remember correctly…or was it the other way around?

  55. hic8ubique permalink
    July 6, 2010 1:07 AM

    Oh, yes, that was when the fish ‘gurry’ (offal)went directly into the harbour. You couldn’t have open windows in East Gloucester it was so rank, so they say, but I wasn’t in res then.We’re much more presentable these days with new regs and a failing fishery. Still, the community is fairly diverse with the newer waves coming from Mexico and Brasil joining the Sicilian and Portuguese immigrant families.These are the
    suprastrata added to the Wasp bedrock.
    I think every town claimed the ‘by the sea’ tag at Gloucester’s expense.
    Impressive memory, you, for a remote chapter.

  56. freep permalink
    July 6, 2010 7:04 AM

    That was an unusual and compelling security man, hic, I liked the cut of Tariq’s cuffs.
    There definitely was an office thread. I can remember lots of poems about staplers. I will look later, because on another computer there are some word docs with dates on. I think I had Thirteen Ways of looking at an office.
    But I cannot get at that computer because it is in a room occupied by a loud and ugly relative who is staying with me, and who I wish to avoid for the rest of time. Only yesterday I spent 50 minutes tying up a single tomato plant to avoid her.

  57. July 6, 2010 9:41 AM

    Anyone seen the film “Il Posto” by Ermano Olmi ?

    That’s a lovely film made in the 60’s about the deadening effects of office life on a young man.

  58. mishari permalink*
    July 6, 2010 10:02 AM

    I remember it well, Ed. Olmi went on to make a film based on a great favourite of mine Joseph Roth’s The Legend of The Holy Drinker. Very good it was, too.

    That’s it, freep. I don’t think it was a set subject or anything but evolved from a discussion of what could be done with seemingly unpromising poetic material, e.g. office supplies…

    I remember the North Shore quite well, hic. I had a few friends (Boston Irish, mostly) whose families had done well and moved up and out, with a sprinkling of Brahmin-types, Saltonstalls and such-like…do they still have an amusement park at Revere Beach?

  59. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 6, 2010 11:31 AM

    I remember those ululations over the telephone from freep’s tremendous Thirteen Ways.

    I meant to ask if you caught that thing on Kuwaiti football on CIF. Recalling some remarks you made a while ago I imagined a team of fatties waddling around in desperate pursuit of the ball before giving up and taking to the car as in the current TV ads. Was it the ’82 World Cup when a Prince descended from the stands to take the Kuwait team off the pitch in protest at a refereeing decision? Not you, I trust.

    I see there is an imputation above that I was born in Frome. You will be hearing from my lawyers (and Frome’s, quite possibly).

  60. hic8ubique permalink
    July 6, 2010 1:43 PM

    I thought not, but sounds as though it was just your sort of place, Mishari.
    Wiki says:
    ‘The Beach began to deteriorate in the 1950s. By the early 1970s it had become a strip of honky tonk bars and abandoned buildings. The Great Blizzard of ’78 proved to be the final death knell for the “old” Revere Beach, as many of the remaining businesses, amusements, pavilions, sidewalks, and much of the seawall were destroyed.’

    Another formerly malodorous site that’s been cleaned up.

    The latter day Brahmin presence is subdued, but still very much part of the North Shore. Different to the RCs in their menu of neuroses though. Yes, that’s diversity alright.

    I can’t quite imagine you of all people having a loud and ugly relative, freep.
    If you do a little genealogical research, I’ll wager you’ll find she belongs to someone else, giving you an excuse to fob her off forthwith. (Failing that, you could have hair from her brush DNA tested)
    My sympathy.

  61. freep permalink
    July 6, 2010 10:50 PM

    Relatives by marriage, hic, not blood. Like mishari, I only have blood relat ives of surpassing beauty and intelligence, and thank you for your confidence. There may be cannibals among my ancestors, but I am sure they were cannibal of discernment and taste. They would never eat a woman from Frome.
    As I write, the police are gathering around a crazed gunman believed to be hiding a few miles from my house, dominating the news. I am taking the dogg out to see if we can give him refuge, or offer him a glass of malt.

  62. mishari permalink*
    July 6, 2010 11:02 PM

    For God’s sake, freep, slip him some chloral hydrate and claim the reward. Doubtless, the local authority will strike a commemorative medal to honour you, half-profile, looking noble as hell.

    Re: Kuwaiti football, MM, when we beat Iran and South Korea to win the 1980 Asian Cup, the population of Kuwait was about 1.5 million, of whom less than 40% were Kuwaitis: call it a population of 400,000 native Kuwaitis to select from. Iran, by contrast, had a population of 39 million in 1980 while South Korea had 38 million. I think that’s pretty impressive.

    However, that was a different generation of footballers, my generation. Kuwaitis who had grown up with a semblance of fealty to the old ways of asceticism, austerity and pride in an ability to endure hardship. We were raised in that tradition and although we no longer faced the kind of hardships our forefathers faced, we were encouraged to admire and emulate feats of physical endurance and fortitude.

    It was highly unusual, when I was young, to encounter a fat Kuwaiti and on the rare occasions you did, it was almost always someone in late middle-age. Desert nomads, whether Arab, Australian or American, tend to be lean.

    Now, 81.3% of all Kuwaitis are obese and 30% of the population have Type 2 diabetes. These are horrifying figures and hardly conducive to athletic excellence. Kuwait needs a new puritanism to take hold. I’m not talking about religion: we were never a devout people; but a return to some of the old ways and ideas would be welcome.

    With the vast increase of wealth that followed the discovery of oil, Kuwait too readily abandoned the old ways, only to replace them with…what? Fuck all, really, except Western-style consumerism and instant gratification. We were always taught to respect and admire our desert cousins; this new generation view them with contempt as ‘backward’ and hopelessly ‘uncool’. The results are depressingly evident.

  63. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 6, 2010 11:51 PM

    Those figures for Kuwait are astounding. The streets must be an extraordinary sight. If anyone walks, that is. I see 20% of people in the UK are obese, which sounds a lot, but compared to 80%…
    I thought Kuwait had a decent team in the 1982 World Cup. A good England side only scraped past them 1 – 0.

    I hear Raoul Moat (crazy name etc) was in Rothbury, described as a village by Channel 4 news in their interminable report. It seemed more like a small town when I was there. Of course, I see things in Island scale.

  64. cellaroseus permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:29 AM

    There is an absolutely hilarious facebook page about Raoul Moat (11,000 plus followers and rising) well worth checking out, upon which various Geordies bicker. colourfully and at length, they are divided between those who are up for mass lynching and others who seem to regard the chap as a bit of a Robin Hood scamp with a genuine grievance.

    The spelling alone makes the effort worthwhile. Rothbury is a small place but as one of the f***bookers put it, the Northumbrian police couldn’t catch AIDS in an African brothel.

  65. mishari permalink*
    July 7, 2010 12:32 AM

    Walk? Are you kidding? I predict that within a decade or two, Kuwaitis will lose the use of their legs and possibly their arms: they’ll become immobile blob-like torsos, fed and watered by an army of servants. Unable to procreate, they’ll become extinct. Nature is efficient and merciless.

    The mystery Democratic senate candidate from South Carolina, Alvin Greene, is a card:

    At one point, he lurches off on his big idea for how to create jobs in South Carolina.

    “Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit. They can make toys of me and my vehicle, especially for the holidays and Christmas for the kids. That’s something that would create jobs. So you see I think out of the box like that. It’s not something a typical person would bring up. That’s something that could happen, that makes sense. It’s not a joke.”–The Grauniad, today

    Mind you, I suppose it’s no more goofy than Boy George Osborne’s scheme to create a million jobs by sacking a million people…

  66. cellaroseus permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:35 AM

    Apropos of nothing, if memory serves, the chipper he robbed last night in Seaton Delaval is absolutely top notch. Should freep ever be passing that way, have a medium cod and chips for me.

  67. mishari permalink*
    July 7, 2010 12:37 AM

    I urge you, freep, not to emulate Señor Moat’s methods. Pay cash. You’re not cut out for armed robbery…

  68. July 7, 2010 9:09 AM

    Isn’t Osborne claiming that they may be sacking a million people but the private sector will create 2 million jobs?

    Almost as “funny” as the Big Society idea, Gove’s plans for education and, in particular Ian Duncan smith talking about the poor.

    This feels like Thatcherism mark 2. Only this time the Labour party has so little credibility that there’s nothing to stop them. Clegg certainly hasn’t stood up for his “beliefs”.

  69. hic8ubique permalink
    July 7, 2010 2:42 PM

    Send us a life-sign ,freep! I’m beginning to be anxious.

    Cod-fish is a chewy wormy substance for cats.
    Spicy plaice with greens and radicchio for me, I think.
    Not that sort of place?
    What will happen when there are no more newspapers to sop up the lard?

  70. freep permalink
    July 7, 2010 3:18 PM

    I was in Alnwick this morning, and a train of slow moving police cars were headed west in the direction of Rothbury, ten miles away. All the police officers seemed well furnished with sandwiches. For myself, I will not be disappointed if Mr Moat is captured, for two reasons.
    1. There can never be an excuse for robbing a fish and chip shop, as cellaroseus saith. More good comes of haddock than of democracy.
    2. Raoul Moat is not a name that belongs to a Geordie bouncer. It is the name of a minor artist, perhaps, spending time with gouache and pencils on the Dorset coast, or a researcher into memory in molluscs. Geordie bouncers are called names like Lardy Teasdale or Mad Wally.

    The vile relatives have left. By gox they were an ugly pair.

    I could not find much left on the Grauniad website of old poems. Certainly the office pieces have vanished. Not only can they not bring out the alleged printable version of Billy’s poetry circus, but they delete good works by one and all – zeph, hlm, cap’n Ned, Baron Charlus, the Bard of Wight, pinkroom etc etc. They are pillocks, and unfit to be custodians of great art.

    I find the story of the rotundity of Kuwaiti citizens very unsettling, mishari. Esp since I remember you said your father had a lot to do with setting up the Kuwaiti health service. Could it have been foreseen? Is it just rampant consumerism? Do you ever go back there?

  71. July 7, 2010 4:07 PM

    The fate of the Kuwaiti’s has also struck Pacific islands like Samoa and Hawaii. Some people think it’s the fault of US food culture with its heavy use of corn syrup which has ballooned people up.

    The body can only produce so much insulin and when bodyweight gets too much the pancreas can’t cope and gives up the ghost. By comparison with others I have to inject very little insulin to cope but my pancreas will inevitably wear out completely and I’ll be pumping the stuff in.

    I can’t think ( and don’t know tbh ) if the US has a hold on what is eaten in Kuwait but can we blame them anyway?

  72. Zeph permalink
    July 7, 2010 6:13 PM

    Ever since I read a book called Not On the Label I have been suspicious of a number of foods. It was written by an earnest female Guardianista type whose name I forget, but she certainly did her research. Bread! What we eat now in the UK isn’t bread at all, it’s got something called hydrogenated fat in it, which is almost certainly killing us all. That and whatever they put in crisps. I expect there’s something that modern Kuwaitis eat which is spectacularly bad for them… in the future people will look back and wonder, like we do about the Elizabethans using white lead for make-up.

    Freep, do be careful. I would hate any harm to come to your dogg.

    If I’d known the Guardian would lose Poster Poems, I’d have copied the thread each week. Though we’re constantly told that anything put on the net is there forever, so it must all be in cyberspace somewhere…

    I have a file with the beginnings of my longlist selection for the (huh!) anthology, it’s about 90 pages and then I ran out of steam. It only goes up to about Christmas 2008 but there’s some good stuff. If anyone would like a copy, email me at and I’ll send it to you. I also have copies of all my PP pomes because I’m vain like that.

  73. mishari permalink*
    July 7, 2010 6:29 PM

    You’re right, Zeph. I’d foolishly supposed that all our stuff was there forever (or until the death of the interwebz). I’m sure it’s to do with the Pluck system they’re now using, which was the most catastrophic error they ever made.

    Evidently, they’ve never heard the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It’s thanks to Pluck that you can no longer google posts, or not post-Pluck posts. Did they really think that making themselves invisible to google was a good idea? Morons.

    I never saved any of my stuff. Probably sheer laziness rather than a deep-seated humility. I should have archived every Poster Poems thread: I could kick myself, now.

    Yes, Ed, the advent of US-style fast-food is partly to blame. Equally at fault is a culture of over-indulgence and sheer physical idleness. The alarm bells started ringing for me in the 90s, when every Kuwaiti male I met had soft hands. It was actually a girlfriend of the time who pointed it out: “All your Kuwaiti friends/relatives have very soft hands”. She didn’t mean it as a compliment.

    The older generation of Kuwaitis were more like this:

  74. July 7, 2010 7:13 PM

    Ah Max Schreck. Wasn’t there a rumour that during the making of Nosferatu he was off eating people between breaks in filming?

    If not can I officially start that rumour? It might be nearly 100 years too late but may play well in Somerset where the film still enjoying its first-time run in the cinemas

  75. mishari permalink*
    July 7, 2010 7:38 PM

    I’m pretty sure I saw a film based on that premise, Ed. In it, the cast and crew of Nosferatu begin to suspect that their star is responsible for a spate of deaths in the village where they’re shooting the film. I wish I could recall it more clearly…if it’s not true, it should be.

  76. cellaroseus permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:23 PM

    I seem to remember a satirical film called “Eating Raoul”. Were some of the more gung ho vigillantes to catch him I could well see him being served up in a Bigg market kebab estab.

    By the look of him, enough for many hundred meat donners.

  77. Reine permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:50 PM

    From the desk of one…

    Here I sit
    High in my concrete block
    With a hole in the door
    Where the lock should be
    Like a glory hole or so I’m told

    Shoring up the machinery of State
    Reading through pronouncement after pronouncement
    Griping, grovelling, garrulous, grasping at hope
    “Grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre” but not unprecedented

    Discarded coffee cups impede my ergonomics
    Someone has given me a tray of blueberries
    Which are decomposing before my eyes
    Like my career

    I surround myself with books and pictures
    And a photo of my folks
    Who, 16 years on, still cannot grasp my atypical hours
    I wish I could grasp them

    Cinderella-like but lacking her lustre
    I will limp away after midnight
    Mascara long rubbed from my eyes
    Rev up the Megane and marvel
    That it takes one third of the time to get home at 1 a.m.

    And then I will do it all again tomorrow…

  78. hic8ubique permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:16 PM

    No, Re, not you!? not really?
    I thought the speaker would turn out to be a soft-handed Kuwaiti chap.
    We had a glory-hole under a landing of the stairs in the house I grew up in.
    I thought everyone had one, but not so.
    As a child, I somehow equated the glory-hole with the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’.

    Jake Thackray delivers that song with an amazing and deceptive skill; an inspired film pairing, I must say Mishari.
    (I found myself absolutely lost at sea with the one with the dry ice and triangle, but I’ll try again.

  79. Reine permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:44 PM

    I’m led to believe it means something else entirely in a different context Hic. Ref your earlier accusation about my obsession! Cinders xx

    Take a memo Mary
    If you wouldn’t mind
    And pass me my ham sandwich
    If you’d be so kind

    It’s there beneath the Indo
    beside my polyester jacket
    Oh for God’s sake Mary
    Stop making such a racket

    I’m trying to think of something
    To tell salaries section
    About my overpayment
    Since the general election

    I’ll kill those blasted poll cors
    And their FOI requests
    Nothing else they could be doing
    But wringing out my dirty vests

    Ah, Jesus Mary, not there
    They’re in the Tesco bag
    Look, I’ll be back in twenty
    I’m going for a fag

  80. obooki permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:52 PM

    You can get to the earliest Poster Poems here:

    though they seem to have reformatted them all so that they don’t look like poems.

    Google should reveal the rest here:

    Here’s the office one:

    (I can’t believe a presenter on the BBC just said: “Rourke’s Drift, made famous of course by the film Zulu…”)

  81. mishari permalink*
    July 7, 2010 9:57 PM

    I can’t believe that either: everyone knows Rourke’s Drift was made famous by Michael Caine…

    Thanks for the links, BTW. I’ll check them now…

    Nope, no dice. Same problem I mentioned, obooki: you only get the first 50 posts (out of 196 posts, in the case of the office thread). The rest are lost in the ether.

    Great stuff, rein…sorry if the dry-ice video baffles you, hic. I just thought using footage of the sea would be too obvious and I found that one suitably enigmatic and interesting to look at.

  82. Zeph permalink
    July 7, 2010 10:20 PM

    Some very fine civil servant poems, btw. The subject seems to bring out the best in Mowbray.

  83. obooki permalink
    July 7, 2010 10:46 PM

    Oh, I see – first 50 comments eh? Hmm!

  84. obooki permalink
    July 7, 2010 11:24 PM

    Here’s the best piece of subbing in the history of the BooksBlog, taken down after about a minute:

  85. hic8ubique permalink
    July 7, 2010 11:29 PM

    Yes, enigmatic and interesting to look at. I wasn’t complaining.
    Don’t mind getting lost at all at all. I always find myself somewhere.
    So, that Dave van Ronk ‘Stealin’ was on his Ragtime Jug Stompers, which isn’t on disc. Do you know it?

  86. hic8ubique permalink
    July 7, 2010 11:38 PM

    [oh-bookie] ?
    [o-boo-ki] ?

    I’d have taken that page down myself!
    Rochester never pushed her!!
    She was quite mad and jumped.

  87. mishari permalink*
    July 7, 2010 11:50 PM

    That’s a cracker, obooki. Mind you, how many times have I seen the subs give some piece a strapline that implies the complete opposite of the article that follows. Maybe they’ve farmed out all their subbing to China. Still, that one has the mind reeling. What the fuck were they thinking?

    I actually have the Dave van Ronk and his Rag Time Jug Stompers LP you speak of, hic. Just for you, I’ll make a vid of Stealin’ and post it on the PH music channel within the next couple of hours. Politely Homicidal–Where Your Wish Is My Command…

  88. obooki permalink
    July 8, 2010 12:04 AM

    I like a challenge. Here’s a few:

    This is the website, but you have to know exactly what you’re looking for (i.e. pretty much the entire url):

  89. obooki permalink
    July 8, 2010 12:09 AM

    Sorry, didn’t mean to post the same one twice:

  90. mishari permalink*
    July 8, 2010 12:45 AM

    I should have worked that out myself, obooki. I’ve only got a link to the bloody site on my blogroll (waybackmachine) but thanks for reminding me…

    Here you go, hic:

  91. obooki permalink
    July 8, 2010 12:52 AM

    Well, you can get all the poems up to about early Sep 08, but after that I can’t bring them back. I believe the cut-off point is here:

  92. hic8ubique permalink
    July 8, 2010 3:14 AM

    Priceless. Truly! My wish gratified.
    Great knees for a gaffer, and the ‘bulky black suit’ arriving is perfect (my motif for the week thanks to Tariq).
    You see, I don’t have impeccable taste after all, but I do have the one, well, one of the few redeeming attributes of an allegedly high-maintenance woman: I appreciate and acknowledge excellent service. That was impressive, and your dedication, charming.
    It’s long years since my Dad picked me up and danced me around the room, but I’m right there.
    Some great songs on that album.
    Thanks, Mishari. x

  93. Reine permalink
    July 8, 2010 8:35 AM

    Well I have to say a bit of ragtime early in the morning is just the ticket. Hilarious. And I am beside myself with envy, Hic, that you got a bespoke dedication!

  94. July 8, 2010 10:21 AM

    Thank you for calling 02079261000
    This number is no longer in use
    Please call 02076499311
    Please wait while we redirect you to

    Your frustration and impotent pleas
    Will be recorded
    For training purposes

    Be advised
    Your application for:
    Roof-over-head assistance
    Has been declined
    Due to a mis-read comma
    Somewhere back in April

    If you would like your comma to be
    As a full stop
    Please action
    A comma-to-full-stop-reappraisal-appeal

    Be advised
    Your application for:
    Basic-food-group-access assistance
    Has been declined
    Due to insufficient documents supplied

    Due to unforeseen clerical derangement
    Your bank statements, passport
    Saving account, tenancy agreement, invoices for May
    Invoices for April, statement of accounts 2008-2009
    Fingerprints, blood sample, stool sample, character references
    Facebook password, WordPress password, PIN
    Laptop hard-drive, PC hard drive
    Photo albums 1977-93 and 2004-10
    Birth certificate, shoes, resin statue of Ganesh, adrenal gland
    Memories and
    All dormancy-generated assets (dreams)
    Have been misplaced.

    Please resubmit copies within ten working minutes
    Or call

  95. mishari permalink*
    July 8, 2010 10:26 AM

    Excellent, XB and with the tang of authenticity. I’m guessing that you’re dealing with the hellish minions of the DWP and HB…

    If there’s an obscure or long unheard piece of music you fancy, Reine, name it and you too could have a personally dedicated youtube video..

  96. July 8, 2010 10:42 AM

    XB you’re lucky you got through! Earlier thius year I had to ring the Tax Office to get forms so we didn’t end up paying tax twice for work in Spain. I rang the number every hour for a week with no success. Finally I lost patience and wrote a letter – got the forms 2 days letter with a grovelling letter of apology and now have the real number to ring when you want something.

    Incidentally thanks for coming down to see us last Sunday – good to meet you albeit briefly.

  97. July 8, 2010 10:44 AM

    Excuse the spelling in that last post. I temporarily went incoherent.

  98. July 8, 2010 11:01 AM

    Thanks. The part about the comma/full-stop is true and, I think, caused my initial application to be rejected. Two months on, the re-application still hasn’t been processed.

    Great to meet you, ET. There’s a strange, disorientating moment – which I also experienced when meeting the Captain – when the internal image I’ve had of someone morphs into the actual person standing there. I’m sure there’s a neuropsychology doctorate in there somewhere, if someone has seven years and a lab.

  99. Reine permalink
    July 8, 2010 11:29 AM

    Mishari, you are a pure angel. I’ll tell you what has been floating around my head all week (prompted by Carol’s POTW), a song which I think is called Roaming in the Gloaming, snatches of which my Dad used to go around singing in a Thomas Hampson-esque voice, completely out of tune and tempo. Haven’t heard it in a while. He never knows the words to songs so he belts out the few he does and then does a kind of “dooby dooby doo” filler irrespective of the song type. At Christmas time he does a Jingle Bells variation which runs like this (again in a T.H. voice) “Jingle-ella-bella, jingle-ella-bella, dooby dooby doo” (not particularly complex as you’ll note). It’s the official start of festivities when we hear it echoing down the hall.

    Hello ExitB, love your poem.

    Happy Thursday all and sundry. R

  100. freep permalink
    July 8, 2010 11:47 AM

    Brilliant, exitb, loved that one.

  101. freep permalink
    July 8, 2010 11:54 AM

    Loved the Dave van Ronk + clip, too, mish, better than most films I’ve seen this year. Station entertainment at its highest. I’m sure hic is worth it.

    XB, by the way, we want to know: is Ed Taylor really Alarming?

  102. mishari permalink*
    July 8, 2010 12:08 PM

    Thanks, freep. I think it’s fair to say, it’s entertainment like Mother used to make…

    Reine, please accept my apologies but I can’t bring myself to make a video of Harry Lauder singing Roamin’ In The Gloamin’. The song actually causes me physical pain. Pick another song, please:

  103. July 8, 2010 12:20 PM

    Thanks Reine, thanks Freep,

    Is ET Alarming? I was surprised. I had assumed that the man pictured attending to the giant, terrifying Brain Wave head on the WRA website was ET. Turns out it’s the other way around.

    The shed around ET’s head is there to protect audiences from violent psychic shock. The rest of his body is buried anew at each location causing untold damage to tree roots, water pipes, subway systems and Morlocks.

    The man in the photo (a cowering minion called, I think, Splee) warned me to approach the head as I would an over-stimulated Austro-Hungarian child-emperor. I was forced to call it Excelsior and load the van.

  104. Reine permalink
    July 8, 2010 12:29 PM

    Ok then M, thought that might be a bridge too far! Find me Marlene Dietrich singing any song of your choosing please. R

  105. mishari permalink*
    July 8, 2010 12:38 PM

    You got it.

  106. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 8, 2010 12:50 PM

    That was Roy Orbison

  107. mishari permalink*
    July 8, 2010 1:25 PM

    …and this is Marlene Dietrich:

  108. mishari permalink*
    July 8, 2010 1:53 PM

    According to The Indy:

    One-tenth of all the country’s armed police officers were joining the hunt for fugitive gunman Raoul Moat last night as a £10,000 reward was offered for information leading to the former bouncer’s arrest.

    So, to recap: armed police from seven English forces using armoured cars and snipers and with the help of the SAS have failed to catch a fat nightclub bouncer running amok in an English county.

    And they keep telling us Afghanistan is ‘winnable’. Yeah…and Mowbray’s going to win Pop Idol…

  109. Reine permalink
    July 8, 2010 2:24 PM

    Am at work Mishari until late tonight and webwasher isn’t allowing me to access the link – that’s the Civil Service for ya – but thank you. Look forward to seeing it much later. R

  110. mishari permalink*
    July 8, 2010 3:43 PM

    ‘Gorgeous’ George Galloway, until recently, my MP, has announced to readers of his blog (according to The Grauniad–I am not a reader of his blog) that he’s writing a musical about Dusty Springfield:

    The star who shines brighter than all the rest on this trip down memory lane is Dusty Springfield – as fresh today as a spring field should be. And, as it happens, one of the many projects on which I’m working – with Scots writer Ron McKay – is a stage musical, eponymously entitled Dusty

    …and the comedy keeps on writing itself…

  111. July 8, 2010 4:07 PM

    No doubt John Prescott is penning a biopic of Kathy Kirby even as I write this.

    Actually given her emotional instability ( a friend of mine was present at a particularly disastrous “come-back” gig she did for a Tottenham community centre in the early 80’s ) and Prescott’s habit of punching the public when things go awry it’s a marriage made in heaven.

  112. freep permalink
    July 8, 2010 4:10 PM

    Well, mish, the SAS don’t get much target practice these days, and I feel the need for a hero coming on, dead or alive. That it is happening a few miles from my house is amusing. Ice cream sales are up, and obesity among tourists seems to be increasing – not to mention inelegant dress and impulchritudinousness. Moat, Britain hath need of thee at this hour; your total wickedness is much appreciated.

  113. hic8ubique permalink
    July 8, 2010 5:06 PM

    I thank you in turn for your confidence in me.
    You too could make a wish of Mishari, I’m sure, but don’t squander it!

    I imagine you’re doing your best to redress those deficiencies in your environs, with your personal Mallory-style sartorial flair…

    Much enjoyed your poem. Ganesh is a lovely touch.
    The loss of him must have caused all the trouble to begin with.

  114. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 8, 2010 7:01 PM

    Premium poem there, Exit.

    Engaging in Techchat with a McAfee rep a couple of days ago (security question), Samdya M’s opening gambit was:

    We will leverage all our resources to resolve this issue because your concern is our concern.

    I was dumbfounded, but you have to reply or they won’t go on. The range of responses was so enormous that I floundered for a time, eventually settling on:


    I wonder what Raoul’s moativation is?

  115. Reine permalink
    July 8, 2010 7:28 PM

    V droll MM

    While English police are chasing Raoul, gardaí are busy ppppppppicking up penguins…. I think they’re wrong, it is a little bit amusing!

    From The Irish Times:

    A penguin was found on the street in Dublin today after being stolen from the zoo in a suspected prank.

    The female penguin was kidnapped by a gang of men at about 8am from the Phoenix Park and discovered several hours later a few miles away in the north inner city.

    It is believe the men broke in to the zoo before carrying her out and making off in a taxi.

    The penguin at the centre of the kidnap ordeal was a 10-year-old female called Kelli. She is a Humboldt, a small breed native to parts of South America, mainly Chile. It is understood the penguin was tracked through a microchip, fitted to all animals in the zoo.

    Gardaí were alerted to the theft this morning.

    In a statement, Dublin Zoo described the theft as an annoyance and “not amusing”.

    “Dublin Zoo confirms that a penguin which had been missing has been returned,” a zoo official said.

    “The penguin went missing this morning at 8am but due to the security measures that are in place at Dublin Zoo and the rapid response of gardaí, the penguin was soon recovered and returned.

    “Dublin Zoo was naturally relieved that the animal was returned safe and unharmed and back at the zoo. We wish to underline our annoyance at this incident.

    “The welfare and health of all animals is our primary concern and this kind of incident is not frivolous and certainly not something amusing.”

    Zoo staff thanked the gardaí for their help in tracing the stolen animal and said she was none the worse for her outing after being safely returned to her enclosure.

    There were no reports of any damage to zoo property.

  116. mishari permalink*
    July 8, 2010 10:55 PM

    A few years ago, some students stole an Emperor Penguin from Regents Park Zoo. Apparently, they kept it in the bath. All a bit awkward, given that Emperor Penguins are about 4 feet tall. They were shopped by a neighbour after taking the penguin into the back garden and throwing it fish to catch.

    Seeing the neighbour looking on curiously, one of the bird-nappers assured her that it was a rare breed of cat. “But I’d seen The March of The Penguins”, the neighbour was quoted as saying.

    Presumably, had she not seen the film, she may well have bought the cat story…

  117. July 8, 2010 11:23 PM

    Hic, thanks for your concern regarding Ganesh. But I exaggerated that bit for tragical effect. He’s gazing down on me as i type. Not that he’s been much use, lately. Probably needs more milk.

    MM, I’m surprised the company value evangelist’s action didn’t incetivize you to de-criticate yourself from what was a clear example of positive brand interaction.

    The penguin in the bath reminds me of Death and the Penguin. Because in that novel there is a penguin and it’s in a bath. A rather good, if gloomy, novel.

  118. Reine permalink
    July 8, 2010 11:59 PM

    Glorious Mishari, thank you a thousand, but what is Hic doing in “my” video? Roamin’ in the gloamin’ is headwrecking.

    A lovely homecoming.

  119. mishari permalink*
    July 9, 2010 12:07 AM

    Glad you approve. That cat (hic’s avatar come to life) is something, though. A full-grown cougar as a house-pet. I showed Pongo the footage: “See? That’s what I call a cat, you flea-bitten poser”. He’s been skulking around, casting resentful side-long glances ever since. I’m going to start him on a diet of steroids and protein-shakes…

  120. Reine permalink
    July 9, 2010 12:13 AM

    I am not a cat lover but a family has taken up residence in the garden and I can’t resist the pleading stares of the kittens. Poor critters. The mother hisses – I am never sure what the protocol is, should I pet her, initiate some polite conversation – ask her maybe if she has any penguin cousins? Thanks again for your sourcing efforts. Good choice too, love that song. Something of a theme in my life!

  121. Reine permalink
    July 9, 2010 1:03 AM

    A Prayer

    Parliament takes 12 weeks off
    Opposition leaders scoff
    Exhausted servants of the State
    Thank God not to be working late

    Time to reacquaint with kin
    Live outside the drumming din
    See the twilight at first hand
    Oh merry civil servant band

    Zombie-like they readjust
    Look forward to the cut and thrust
    Of balmy evenings in the sun
    Summer frolics, sex, beer, fun

    Thank you Lord, I have a job
    Handy for the regular bob
    And now I work from nine to five
    To stay awake no longer strive

    But dear Jesus help me now
    To keep my every-recess vow
    To win the blasted lottery
    The service can do without me

  122. hic8ubique permalink
    July 9, 2010 3:22 AM

    Exit! That is good news. But I don’t know about the Rite of Milk…?Must it be from a sacred cow? They don’t fare well around here.
    My several Ganesh figures are small and bronze. One sits on a conch,(I think he might be Thai) and another reclines rather suggestively.
    I have a little brass one tucked in my dash-board.

    Plaintive poem Re. I do hope you will get your ocean time.
    Feral cat protocol, according to me, is thus:
    If the mother is swearing at you, do not put your hand down. (A clawing can give you a systemic infection.)
    The kittens should be trapped and adopted, but probably Mum will always be an outdoor cat.
    She’ll find a cat person who’s happy to put out some ‘cat’s-meat’ every day.
    So, just notify your local spca that there’s a litter in your garden.

    That reminds me; I’ve come as far as your Pongo post in the PH archives, Mishari, and meant to tell you there is a
    good book by Rupert Sheldrake called Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home (cats included).
    I found the appendices on morphogenetic fields to be particularly fascinating, and have since bought his next book on the subject
    (which *sigh* is stacked on my bedside table). Have a look. It will answer your question.

    Today my internal soundtrack has been looping happily in a lemniscate between Blue Skies and Stealin’.
    Must say, on the feral front: your puma, Re, is only la petite cousine of my avatar; wrong genus.
    Couldn’t her fur could do with a good brushing!
    I do have a wonderful painting titled The Puma Family by Harold Schmidt (? must check that)
    in that NAmerican landscape style from the 30’s. It came from my grandmother Ingrid’s sitting room,
    so when I missed it and asked my parents what had become of it and they said it had gone to an auction house,
    I was horrified and summoned it back. Now it hangs in my sitting room.

    I seem to be rambling on tonight…
    One more vagrant cat thought from the Bestiary of Flanders and Swann…

    ‘Jaguar, Jaguar,
    you are shining from afar
    like a star, yes you are, Jaguar.
    From your jaw to the claw on your little paddy-paw
    evermore I adore, Jaguar.
    Though I cast a roving eye on
    an attractive lady lion
    and a tiger and a leopard and a lynx,
    though my name be linked in rumour
    with a panther and a puma,
    nothing could be sweeter
    than to make you Mrs Cheetah.
    Jaguar, Jaguar, you are furrier by far
    Oh you are, yes you are,
    Jag u aaar’

    …awfully fun to sing.

  123. mishari permalink*
    July 9, 2010 4:40 AM

    Thanks for the tip, hic. That Sheldrake book sounds interesting. I’ll check Amazon for it. Just out of curiosity, are you reading the comments as well as my posts? They’re much more entertaining (and better informed) than my low-octane blathering…

    Now I must get back to my civil servant verse, which I’m setting to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan’s I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General…

  124. Reine permalink
    July 9, 2010 9:08 AM

    Oh God I would never touch a cat matron!

    Someone else gave me that SPCA advice but I couldn’t bring myself to take the babies from the mother. Thanks Hic.

    And I will get plenty of (Atlantic) ocean time. Crashing waves and lashing seas essential for my mental health – channelling the French Lieutenant’s woman (or maybe I am confusing her with the cloaked woman from the Scottish widows ad…)

  125. July 9, 2010 10:11 AM

    hic I think there was a siting by many people ( presumably in a religious ecstasy ) of a statue of Ganesh lactating on the wall of a North London temple.

    It might of been one of the other many Hindu gods of course but a public enquiry ensued and in the end both sides of the religious divide believed what they thought in the first place.

  126. Zeph permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:33 AM

    Reine, once the kittens are old enough to fend for themselves (3 months old or more, not 8 weeks which is when the pet shop owners and dealers take them away) the mother will start to be less involved with them, and then is the time to summon your friendly local SPCA person. You could leave her one kitten for company. But obviously, if you don’t like cats, don’t feed or you’ll never get rid of her.

    Wasn’t the Scottish Widow woman a copy of the French Lieutenant’s one anyway? The French Lieutenant’s Scottish Wife, I feel a remake coming on, starring Tilda Swinton perhaps.

  127. mishari permalink*
    July 9, 2010 12:25 PM

    No thoughts on the pet cougar, cat-lady Zeph? Didn’t you think, “Jesus, now there’s a cat to set on your landlord”?

  128. Zeph permalink
    July 9, 2010 12:36 PM

    Right now I could use a cat to set on the landlady, Mishari, another move is on the cards… I thought the cougar was truly fab, though I’d prefer a caracal myself.

  129. Reine permalink
    July 9, 2010 12:38 PM

    Zeph, if they do refashion the film, I think I am ripe for a change of career. I already have a cloak, a theatrical disposition and a moody look about me… Tilda is too skinny, the cloak wouldn’t fall properly!

    Thank you for the cat info.

  130. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 9, 2010 12:48 PM

    Nice cat, Prince. I thought you had the whole mute adoration thing down pretty well, too.

    I can see you as a Scottish Widow, Reine. I even forsee an enigmatic cameo role in the next Doctor Who storyline, wafting about in distant clouds of dry ice. And before you tell me there’s no advertising on the Beeb, I know for a fact that underthetable envelopes are traded for subliminal sponsorship. I have noted a sharp peak in the household consumption of Andrex following every Lineker/Hansen appearance.

  131. Reine permalink
    July 9, 2010 12:59 PM

    Henry, will you take the role of Charles (if Mowbray is unavailable – still waiting for his agent to get back to me?)

    Mute admiration writ large!

  132. hic8ubique permalink
    July 9, 2010 2:11 PM

    Of course. I don’t know the practises in your locale, Re, and I’m sorry to disagree with Zeph, but I’d get care for that cat family straight away.
    The mother would be kept with them as long as they’re nursing and she’ll probably be spayed, otherwise she’ll have another litter in the Autumn!
    The kittens will have far less chance of socialising to humans and domestic life if 3 mos. go by. That’s my opinion. My Cameo was rescued from a colony at several months and she was considered ‘unadoptable’ She’s 9 now and people visit here over the course of years and never see her. (The Manx, however, lolls in the doorway greeting everyone.)
    If you’re worried about it the spca people will explain how they manage such situations.
    I’m also against the amputations called ‘declawing’ sometimes inflicted to make pets of the Great Cats, horribly inhumane.

    EdT~ I imagine Ganesh dancing sort of like Tevyeh in Fiddler in the Roof–very male, lower chakras. Lactation is a disturbing hermaphroditic addition to the image.

    I enjoy the whole gestalt of the blog, Mishari, so I’m reading most of the comments as well, but your blather most particularly. Not skimming over any current chums.(One reason I’m only up to Pongo.)

    ‘Sighing softy to the river comes a loving breeze,
    setting nature all a-quivver rustling through the trees.
    (Through the trees)[…?]
    Ah! the doing and undoing that the rogue could tell,
    when the breeze is out a-wooing, who can woo so well?
    (Shocking tales the rogue could tell. Nobody can woo so well.)…’

    ~the MMG’s other delightful though much less celebrated turn.
    I hope you’re serious about your song, M. That will take some application.
    Speaking of blather, I seem to be doing more than my share!

  133. hic8ubique permalink
    July 9, 2010 2:12 PM

    (The practices wot are practised ;)

  134. Reine permalink
    July 9, 2010 2:38 PM

    Could I just shoot them??

    Joking, joking – no Sarah Palin, me and I don’t have a licence, that is not say I am not licensed!

    I will contact the DSPCA forthwith. Thanks all.

  135. mishari permalink*
    July 9, 2010 2:51 PM

    De-clawing cats (something I only saw in the US) should be a criminal offence. I know that ‘docking’ a dog’s tail is against the law in the UK, but depriving a cat of its main means of defence and rendering the poor creature incapable of climbing, constitutes cruelty, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, Jesus wept… what kind of low-life scumbag maims a living creature to save wear on the fucking furniture? I’m sure you (and everyone else) agrees, hic. Preaching to the choir, I know.

    As for the ideal age at which to separate a kitten from its mother…well, Pongo was no more than 4 weeks old when I found him and I’ve rescued kittens that hadn’t even been weaned (I used to feed them by means of a cotton-ball soaked in baby formula/milk and wake in the morning with miniscule love-bites around my neck where the kit had suckled while I was asleep. I guess, in the dark, I resemble a mother cat).

    After 3-4 months, the mother tends to lose interest and will even, as I’ve seen, get very aggressive with off-spring that won’t get the message…

    BTW, if anyone feels the need of a purge–the full monty: projectile vomiting etc–read Martin Kettle’s love letter to Cameron in the Grauniad. I guess now that Kattle has managed to prise his tongue out of Blair’s arsehole, he felt exposed and vulnerable with it just hanging there in his gob, doing nothing. Fuck knows, he’s got bugger all to say that you couldn’t hear at a bus-stop on any day of the week But fear not…the Kattle tongue has found a new haven, like the sycophantic homing device it is. Call Me Dave’s mannerly bung-hole parped its siren-song and Kattle responded like the lap-dog he is. I wrote the Grauniad’s obituary 2 years ago: I wish they’d have the decency to bury it…

  136. July 9, 2010 3:39 PM

    Miniscule love-bites??????? Are you sure these were cats you rescued? sounds more like our old chum Max Schreck in his nocturnal state.

    Our cat survived to 19 and a half years and destroyed at least 2 sofas and several armchairs by clawing them. Luckily this furniture didn’t belong to us. But as with Mishari de-clawing would have rendered her usesless for everything.

  137. Reine permalink
    July 9, 2010 3:58 PM

    Feline Groovy

    Mishari took some cats to bed
    Who curled up sleeping ’round his head
    When certain that their hero slept
    They gently down his body crept

    The kitty cats, this playful pair
    Discovered quite a lot of hair
    And something else they couldn’t tell
    When licked, it seemed to slightly swell

    It seemed a little like a mouse
    Softish and warm, but they lacked nous
    To know it was a fiercesome beast
    That on a cat was wont to feast

    The little kits were saved in time
    When M’s alarm began to chime
    And so they emerged none the wiser
    And went without their appetiser

    [Bestiality porn? This is a fucking family blog, lady -Ed. pp/Mary Whitehouse]

    • mishari permalink*
      July 10, 2010 2:15 AM

      Actually, many’s the time I’ve sat bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night, only keeping from screaming by exercising my iron will (available in Sm. or Lg. Family sizes). Over the years, kittens have found my groin a warm and cozy resting place but have a nasty habit of yawning and stretching and extending their needle-like claws and sinking them into the nearest solid matter, in this case the Al-Adwani family jewels.

      The pain is quite, quite exquisite, my dear…

  138. July 9, 2010 3:59 PM

    That Kettle article really is a model of sycophancy isn’t it? Is it my imagination or are the CiF below the lines comments crawling with more Tory supporters than ever before?

    I wonder if it’s because the GU site is free?

  139. hic8ubique permalink
    July 9, 2010 5:31 PM

    M’s indictment is so scathing, I’m almost tempted to read the Kettle piece out of scatalogical curiosity, but don’t need a purge quite that much or in that fashion.

    I’m afraid exotic cats as pets is deeply troubling to me. My understanding is that they are indeed given total distal phalangectomies as well as grinding down of their teeth. (There’s always some creepy vet who’ll do anything for cash.) Jugular severing love nips? Beyond the maiming, a cat that would normally range over hundreds of miles or more can’t hunt, can’t climb, can’t even balance properly, and may be lucky to have an outdoor enclosure or a walk on a leash. It makes me wild to think of it. Though I of all people would never argue against the abstract aesthetic of lithe furry leonine affection.

    I feel badly keeping our cats indoors because it so curtails their enjoyment of their full vital catitude, but having been devastated to lose my sweet ‘Rus’ to a coyote, I’m resigned to it. I still miss him years later.
    Abyssinians, Bengals, Ocis and Maine-Coons each have some wild characteristics, but are truly domesticated.
    (The Maine-Coons are huge and some even have exquisite lynx-points.)
    I imagine if our house-cats were naturally the size of that smallish female puma, we’d think it adorable to breed miniature versions the size of what we have now!

  140. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 9, 2010 10:20 PM

    Cutting their legs off is a good alternative to declawing. They make excellent draught excluders.

    I emailed Richard Lea about the archive business. He’s looking into it.

  141. freep permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:08 PM

    Martin Kettle’s dad Arnold was a decent enough left-wing literary critic who worked at the Open University until he died about 25 years ago- fiercely left wing I would say.
    What would he make of a son who was a personal friend of Blair, and who then went on to describe Cameron as a jolly fine chap because he knew not to drink his liqueurs with a spoon, and who had oodles of Etonian charm? Sufficient charm to carry on the work of Thatcher in depriving a few more hundred thousand of the means of earning a living?

  142. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:27 PM

    I should think Mr Kettle would be boiling with rage.

  143. Zeph permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:39 PM

    Declawing is illegal in the UK, I’m glad to say. While I was looking for caracal pictures for the OtherStuff blog, I found an internet forum for people who keep wild cats. Most of them were in the States and had servals or other small leopards or crossbreeds. Some dumb jerk was saying he was thinking about getting a caracal and what were they like as pets, naturally he’d be having it declawed. Bastard. If he got one I hope it bit him severely.

    Hic, I have two Maine Coons, they’re wonderful. Here’s one of them:
    That was before she was fully grown. Part of their wild heritage is that they really prefer to drink running water, so you have to leave taps dripping or have one of those little fountain thingies.

    Cameron may know not to drink his liqueur with a spoon, but has he stopped doing cocaine, that’s what I want to know.

  144. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:47 PM

    Hoping to score? Georgie might be a safer bet.

  145. Zeph permalink
    July 10, 2010 12:15 AM

    Au contraire, MM, I’ve worked with too many people who favoured the Columbian marching powder and found every one of them sociopathic and extremely boring, so I’m very anti the stuff. Agree that Georgie is very likely.

  146. mishari permalink*
    July 10, 2010 12:42 AM

    You have Maine Coon Cats, Zeph? Lovely. Beautiful animals; big, too. Pongo’s size makes me wonder if he didn’t have a Maine CC in his background.

    Cocaine is the most boring drug ever discovered. What’s worse is it’s so compulsive. I have (long ago) sat up for 24-hours smoking thousands of quids worth of rocks and wondering what the hell I was doing. Nobody laughed. Nobody smiled. It was like some terrible forced task, in the company of people I didn’t like and for reasons I couldn’t fathom.

    And yet, as soon as a rock was gone, I was cutting up more rock to sprinkle on the steel-wool in the pipe and sucking in the harsh, acrid smoke as though my life depended on it.

    Baffling…and horrible. And of course, it turns people into world-class bores. Everyone talks, nobody listens…because, of course, it’s all about ‘me’. It’s a drug for narcissists and morons.

    I remember being puzzled by all the Japanese restaurants that sprang up on every corner in NYC in the late 70s/early 80s.; A friend said: ” Think about it…it’s the perfect cocaine food–small portions, bland, pretty on the plate, expensive and easy to ignore.” He was right.

    At the time, coke usage was ridiculously wide-spread.; My dentist in Boston (Dr. Z___, the rock ‘n roll dentist: he did Aerosmith’s teeth among others) would chop-out lines when I went for an appointment.

    I once paid a mechanic in coke for replacing a muffler and even the cobbler near where I lived in Brookline, Mass. chopped up and offered me a line when I went to collect some boots he’d re-soled, purely because he fancied an ex-girlfriend of mine and wanted to grill me about her.

    The champagne of drugs, my arse. Heroin is the champagne of drugs and like champagne, should only be an occasional treat. A gram of coke will last you about 30 minutes, tops; a gram of smack will, if you’re not an addict, last you for 4 or 5 days.

  147. hic8ubique permalink
    July 10, 2010 1:41 AM

    Nice MM, ‘draught excluders’. Whenever I become excessively earnest, just show up with your special brand of antidote to snap me out.
    We had a Maine Coon lined up for my younger daughter’s 10th Birthday, Zeph. He was red like yours (the best colour!) and she named him Bamboo, but he had a congenital defect and failed to thrive. That’s when the Manx came through.
    Declawed cats are indeed more apt to inflict severe bites.
    Good for them!

    Mishari you lived in Brookline!? I visit the old Sargent estate every week.
    I once went to a dentist in Kenmore Square who had an office like a 19th C. apothecary, and such a slow drill it must have had a treadle.

  148. mishari permalink*
    July 10, 2010 2:24 AM

    I lived in a few places in Brookline, hic. Around the corner from the Coolidge Corner Cinema (is that still there?); down the street from John F. Kennedy’s birhplace just off Brookline Ave (there was a great kosher bakery on the corner for Sunday bagels and lox/cream cheese to go with the Sunday Globe); up by BC just before Chestnut Hill;…also in Back Bay (Comm Ave near Newbury St), Beacon Hill (the wrong, i.e. Mass General side), lived in Charlestown, Allston, Newton, Medford, the bottom of Chinatown just before the turnpike, Brighton and Dorchester. Those are the ones I can remember off-hand…and Bar Harbor, but that’s Maine. Oh, and I lived right on Craigville Beach in Hyannis (my first wife was a Cape Cod/Hyannis native), on Martha’s Vineyard for a summer (Oak Bluffs)…oh, yeah, and Watertown for a bit…

  149. Reine permalink
    July 10, 2010 2:41 AM

    Mishari, I’ll bet it is. I have a curious image now of a cat hanging off each of your testicles. I see we have multiple marriages in common if not a love of cats.

  150. mishari permalink*
    July 10, 2010 2:51 AM

    I guess so. I’m on my last and 4th time lucky. I am, too–lucky, I mean. Met her by walking into a lamp-post and breaking my nose (again). Best thing that ever happened to me. The thought of missing that meeting can still make me break out in a cold sweat…

  151. Reine permalink
    July 10, 2010 3:02 AM

    You’re a romantic soul really, aren’t you? I’m guessing she feels it a fortuitous meeting too.

  152. hic8ubique permalink
    July 10, 2010 4:41 AM

    I won’t try to figure out which Kennedy you were married to, M; there are just too many possibilities, but I can’t help wondering whether you knew James Carroll (of Beacon Hill, Boston Globe and Constantine’s Sword interest) esp. since you had Boston Irish friends. He’s probably several years your senior. You must have been at university here to move about so much?
    Coolidge Corner is still the important independent film house.
    I was on an early date with my second husband on the way to see The Secret of Roan Inish there, with his first wife in hot pursuit (they were separated… not my fault… mostly not, truly) my only car chase experience, well no there was one other. She has since settled with her fifth husband (5!) Now that’s what I call a ‘Romantic’.

    Reine~ as PH enthusiasts,when Mishari says he has a wife ‘he doesn’t deserve’,
    we must take it that he means this in the most positive sense.

  153. mishari permalink*
    July 10, 2010 6:12 AM

    Oh, I emphatically mean I don’t deserve her in the sense of a man who’s won some unimaginably wonderful prize but can’t, for the life of him, work out how he did it. Just pure, dumb luck. I’m lying in bed as I type this, Pongo curled up on one side, Inez on the other, one leg thrown over mine.

    On some nights, when melancholy has claimed me for her own, I look at her and think “What if she wakes up, looks at me and thinks ‘what am I doing with this idiot–how did this happen?'”. But contrary to expectation, what always happens is that she wakes briefly, smiles at me, gives Pongo a stroke and me a kiss and goes back to sleep…or not, as the case may be. It never fails to impress me as a miracle of sorts…

    Ah, the Coolidge…how many blissful hours did I spend in there watching themed double and triple features: gangster night, screwball comedy night, film noir night, or a specific director night. It was on a Billy Wilder night that I first saw Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot and Double Indemnity the way they were meant to be seen: on the silver screen, larger than life. Bliss it was to be alive in that electric dawn…

    The Brattle St Theatre was another favourite. Is The Sevens still at the foot of Beacon Hill? How about The Plough & Stars? Still going (just down from Central Sq. wasn’t it?). How about Filene’s Basement? Locke-Obers? The Rat in Kenmore Sq?

    Do you ever get out to the harbour islands? There’s one that has a magnificent Civil War fort on it. Swimming out at Walden Pond?

    A little folk/jazz club in Harvard Sq, behind the Coop, called Passims, where I saw Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, Taj Mahal, Leo Kottke, Loudon Wainwright and so many others.

    Jonathon Swifts jazz club in Harvard Sq? Is that still there? I saw Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Stan Getz and many others here. Lulu Whites in the South End? Great jazz club that used to specialise in N’Awlins Creole cuisine. Saw too many greats there to name.

    I used to love the Leather Bar in The Copley Plaza (I think its proper name was something else but it was filled with old-fashioned buttoned-leather furniture. What a glorious space that was with all the elaborate 19th century decor and great murals. Many happy nights there but one period was unequaled.

    Pianist Teddy Wilson, who had backed Billie Holliday all through the 30s 40s and 50s did a 3-month residency. Just him at the piano, which customers could sit at with their drink, complete with ashtray on the piano top. I got to gab with Teddie Wilson and request songs, ask him about Billie Holliday–that was something.

    And Eubie Blake, who was 90-something then and almost a historical monument, did a long residency just before he died, severing the connection between me, alive in the late 70s/80s and all the guys who created jazz, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton.

    I used to love the North End , where I stayed for a while. All the old Italian boys refused to believe I wasn’t Italian. In the barber-shop, the groceries, the cafes…they thought I was denying my Italian-ness because I was on the lam or something and the fact that my girlfriend was Italian (well, her folks had come over from Napoli in their 30s and her Ma still barely spoke English and Anna was perfectly bi-lingual and a great cook besides, as was her Mom) merely hardened their conviction.

    They were awfully sweet to me, always some extra salami thrown in, always a couple of extra sausages (you know, those great Italian sausages? Fat and rich and aromatic with fennel and garlic and dried chili and…), always an extra scoop of olives from the enameled white buckets with the blue rims, always an extra expresso on the house or a shot of grappa…

    New England boiled dinners..buckets of steamers with drawn butter…quahogs…lobster…Bay oysters…Fenway franks and watching the Sox led by Jim Rice, a fine hitter, get creamed as usual (this was back when they always disappointed..the great Jewish kosher delis of Brookline and Newton (you can’t get a proper pastrami sandwich here in London, y’know)…oh, for a pastrami sandwich as thick as Gone With The Wind (in paperback, natch) on an onion roll or poppy-seed rye, mustard, a kosher dill on the side…or borscht with a dollop of sour cream and an onion biyali on the side..can you get in London? You should live so long… (all the deli guys assumed I was Jewish…they weren’t far off…Arab/Jewish, same thing really)…

    The old Boston Garden to catch the Celtics led by Larry Bird mop the floor with the Knicks or the Sixers…whoever…the Celtics owned that court…or a Bruins/Islanders face-off, where, as the old joke had it ‘a hockey game broke out at the fights last night…

    Lying in bed on a Sunday morning, hungover and watching Star Of The Day, Boston’s regional talent show (or more usually, no talent show). I loved that show and sang along like I meant it, complete with sweeping hand gestures and the extended arm/pointing finger at ‘Its up to YOU‘:

    Star of the day
    Who will it be?
    Your vote holds the key
    It’s up to you
    To tell us who
    Will be star of the day.

    Jesus, I can’t believe I remember that.

    Like I said, hic, sorry to bore you but I have a lot of happy memories of Boston…

  154. July 10, 2010 9:46 AM

    So cocaine for from doing you harm has actually given you a picture perfect memory.

    Have only done it the once and found the experience akin to going to the dentist. Mouth went a bit numb and you’re a few quid shorter in the pocket ( thiss was the early 70’s ) when it’s over.

    Back in the early 80’s I did some tech-ing and crew-ing for a children’s theatre company. Backstage as the show was in full flow the actors were all busy snorting coke before going back onstage.

    I’m not given to moralising but I think that was one of the most sordid things I’ve ever witnessed.

    Thelonious Monk was given STP ( a powerful hallucinogen for those not in the know ) and 5 days of tripping later allegedly went back to the person who gave it to him and asked ” Have you got anything stronger?”

  155. hic8ubique permalink
    July 10, 2010 2:16 PM

    I was, of course, teasing you, M. It is delightfully apparent that you mean it only in the most positive sense.
    Not boring at all, on the contrary, it’s a treat to get the picture of such a vivid chapter of your life. Your Boston experience runs much deeper than mine, and I’m more familiar now with the Cambridge side, but I can probably give you a few updates. Lets see…

    Yes, it was off Castle Island I sat with that pod of Saudi royalty last weekend. The waterfront has been made beautifully accessible with contiguous walkways, and the old SE expressway has been buried and a ‘greenway’ of parks developed in its place (named for Rose Kennedy);you must have heard of the Big Dig.The North End has become a chic address like Charlestown, but still strongly Italian and still the destination for Italian dining.Tosi’s music is gone.
    Brattle St Theatre is still open as is Filene’s Basement.
    Copley Plaza has been all redone, but the Park Plaza still has one on those cigar/cognac/leather/brass gent’s club old bars, I believe. Jacob Wirth’s is still open in the theatre district.

    Never been to Walden Pond, though I’ve promised to take File there. (We have sweet-water quarry swimming on Cape Ann as well as the beaches so inland pond swimming comes low on the list for me, more an autumnal destination perhaps.) Up to our little-necks in sea-food, of course.

    I was at Passim’s, in the same old hole, about a month ago to hear friends, and deeply love Taj. Alistair Fraser appears there too. He’s brilliant. It’s all about 45 minutes from my house, so a commitment to venture forth, especially in Summer.

    I’m apt to stand forever at the back of a crowd in those Italian groceries while they hand things over to the regulars
    and perceived brothers such as yourself. Bad service. *snarl*
    In other words, I don’t habitually darken their doors, not being a salami fancier myself.
    However, if I can get it past the customs dogs, I’d be delighted to post you anything you’d like.
    No kidding, just ask.

    The Garden was rebuilt and called something else, but has now reverted to the old name to appease local sentiment.
    I think Johnathan Swifts is shut, but there’s the Regatta Bar for Jazz in the Charles hotel, without the old guard of course.
    Ryles is always a scene and Salsa night is Tuesday.

    Rayburn’s music is still open near Symphony Hall. Sonny Rollins has his sax serviced there, according to Emilio.[My son has a low no. Selmer MarkVI for sale by the way…if you know anyone looking.]

    I have rather a lot of Swedish blue and white enamel about because I try to minimise the ubiquity of plastic.

    This is quite a hotch-potch, so apologies to everyone else!

  156. mishari permalink*
    July 10, 2010 11:29 PM

    Thanks for your generous offer, kiddo, but I doubt a pastrami on poppy-seed rye travels well…I’m delighted to hear that Passim is still going strong. The first time I went in there was when I was about 13 or 14, with my mother, who loved the place and stopped there for coffee and pastry whenever she shopped around Harvard Sq. It used to be light and airy, all highly-sanded floorboards and lots of plants.

    Funny you should mention Sonny Rollins because I saw him at Lulu White’s…

    The North End has become chic? Pity, as that invariably means a loss of atmosphere and a rise in prices…I did hear about the Big Dig, scandals and cost-over-runs, mostly…

    Good to hear that they’ve made the waterfront more pedestrian-friendly..

    Thanks for the update…

  157. hic8ubique permalink
    July 11, 2010 4:21 AM

    My pleasure. I may have given the wrong impression in saying chic. Yuppies and Starbucks moved in, but walking through the streets of the N.End on a summer day you would still see the old characters sitting in garden chairs out on ‘their’ bit of sidewalk, saint’s day processions with dollar bills thrown from windows and pinned on ribbons, and butcher shops with whole animals hanging in the windows.

    Club Passim would no longer please Mother, sorry to say, irredeemably down at heel. These days, she would be happier if you were to take her to the little garden cafe at the back of the Isabella Stewart Gardner.

    So do you have grown kids as well? (Just ignore that if I’m a nosey parker.) My eldest is 26, born when I was 22! It shocks me sometimes how much history has accrued.

    I was thinking more of lobsters on ice, par avion, not made-up sandwiches, you crack-pot.
    …and a sea-wall to eat them on and throw the shells over, naturally.

  158. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 5:05 PM

    So who do we fancy tonight? The stolid, shpliff-wielding cheese-heads or the oily dago chancers?, as the Prince inimitably puts it. Counter-intuitively I found myself willing Germany on last night, and the lads pulled it off.

    As I only have a maximum of five World Cups left I should try to wring as much from each one as I can. How I envy you careless types, free to live your gay, pleasure-filled lives without that awful sword hanging over your heads!

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