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Tuning The Curious Harp

July 10, 2010



This variable composition of man’s body hath made it as an instrument easy to distemper; and, therefore, the poets did well to conjoin music and medicine in Apollo, because the office of medicine is but to tune this curious harp of man’s body and to reduce it to harmony. So, then, the subject being so variable hath made the art by consequent more conjectural; and the art being conjectural hath made so much the more place to be left for imposture.

Francis Bacon, from Of the Proficience and Aduancement of Learning, Divine and Humane. To the King. At London. Printed for Henrie Tomes, and are to be sould at his shop at Graies Inne Gate in Holborne. Anno Domini 1605

I went in for my annual tune-up last week ( a ritual Inez instituted, doubtless keen to know how much longer she’ll have to put up with me: left to my own devices, I avoid doctors like the plague). My GP, a well-padded Edinburgh native of my own age, with well-developed tastes in cigars, single-malt whisky and willowy young men [Not that there’s anything wrong with that-Ed.], went through the same charade he’s been going through for over a decade.

Looking through my file, holding up x-rays to the light, examining blood test results, liver function tests and the rest of it, all the while making tutting, clucking noises, as though he didn’t like what he saw. Finally, he put the file down, gazed at me sorrowfully and said: “I’m afraid you’re going to die…”

I know my part well enough by now and don’t mind playing it–I’m fond of the old bastard: “When?”

“Weelll…I’d say about 30 or 40 years from now…” Cue: roars of laughter. After assuring me that I was as healthy as a plough-horse, pouring me a single-malt with some unpronounceable name–Glen Milla an Haez’ochstraa or some such haggis-basher’s name–lighting our cigars and settling back in our seats, I asked him if he tried that little joke on other patients. “Are ye daft, man? No, no, no…I know you’ve a taste for gallows humour, but if I tried that on most of my patients, I think they’d have a coronary infarction on the spot.”

Curious, I asked him how often he really had to deliver the worst news of all.

“Not very, thank the Lord. I don’t mind telling you, I usually take the cowards’s way out, if I can; you know, give them the ‘well, these results are ambiguous but I have some concerns and I’d like you to see a specialist’ and so on and so forth. It’s not very creditable, is it?… but the few times I’ve had to, when I couldn’t, in all conscience palm them off…well, it took me weeks to recover. One feels so useless and guilty…”, he held both hands out, palm up and shrugged in the universal gesture of helplessness.

“Anyway, what about you? Need anything? Pain-killers? Tranquilisers?” I took both because I like to have them in the house, just in case. As I was leaving, I asked after his most recent young companion. He looked a bit forlorn and said: “Gone, I’m afraid. He’s off to pastures new. Nobody loves an old quack…”.

I love you,” I said and kissed his bearded cheek [In an ironic and totally butch fashion…no, really-Ed.]). “Well, that’s no bloody use to me, is it?”, “Because I’m married?” [And totally not gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that-Ed.]. He shook his head and looked me up and down in mock-astonishment: “Because you’re too fucking old, laddie…too fucking old”. I left him chuckling wheezily and telling me to ring him so we could go for a drink. Cheeky bastard called me ‘Pops’…

Contrast him with another doctor I attended as a patient about 20 years ago. I’d helped a friend move a baby grand piano and had done something to my back. My friend urged me to see a doctor. I told him I didn’t have a doctor, not having needed one for years. “Go and see mine. He’s only around the corner.”

So I did. My back was killing me and I anticipated getting some industrial-strength analgesics from the quack. At his office, his receptionist had me fill in a form and bade me wait. Eventually, I was ushered into the doctors examination room, told to remove my shirt and lie down on the table where I was subjected to a regimen of questions, pulling, poking, prodding and pinching; then I was told to put my shirt back on.

“Well, Mr. Al-Adwani, I can’t find anything to cause alarm. I’d say you’re in excellent shape. Probably a twisted ligament; clear up by itself.”

“But the pain is quite excruciating. Can I have some pain-killers?”

Instead of answering, he buried his nose in my file (all one sheet of it) and said, “I see that you’re currently unemployed”, “Self-employed,” I said. He obviously thought the two were synonymous. “Yes, yes…you’re clearly a fit man, a graduate, I see…I suggest that you join the Metropolitan Police Force…”. “Couldn’t I just have some pain-killers instead?”, I bleated. “Not required. Your pain isn’t serious and I don’t believe in prescribing unnecessarily…”

Don’t you love these bastards who find other people’s pain easy to bear and have the courage to admit it? I should have punched him in the mouth and when he complained, told him his pain ‘wasn’t serious…that it would clear up by itself ‘. See how he liked it. But I just turned on my heel, called him a useless wanker and left his office.

Later, I told my pal that his doctor was not only a useless bastard but had the most unorthodox palliative for back-pain that I’d ever come across.

“What if I’d broken my leg? I expect he’d recommend I join the Parachute Regiment.” It turned out the quack had been a police surgeon for 20 years before being turfed out for conduct unbecoming a quack or something. Apparently, he prescribed the Metropolitan Police Force for a variety of ailments. Could have been worse, though.

I could have had Harold Shipman, whose prescription for back-pain was probably the same as his prescription for everything else: a 6 ft hole in the ground. Or Dr. Fagon, who, in the 17th century, wiped out almost the entire French royal family in a fortnight while treating them for measles. The lone survivor of Fagon’s brutal regime of bleeding, emetics and violent purges was the infant Louis XV, whose nurse hid him away.

Or Dr. Rolando Sanchez of Tampa, Florida, who amputated the healthy right foot of one William King, instead of the gangrenous left foot (Universal Community Hospital later revealed that it had implemented a ‘new system’ to ensure no repeat: in future, the word ‘no’ would be written in indelible marker on all the limbs that were not to be amputated).

Or ‘Dr’ Mohammed Saeed of Bradford, whose bogus Pakistani degree was accepted by the NHS, which then allowed him to practice unsupervised. His laughable ineptitude–prescribing shampoo to be taken internally, dispensing creosote for toothache, sleeping pills to be taken 3 times a day and cough mixture to be rubbed into the skin–went unremarked for over 30 years. Or Dr. Crippen. Or Dr. Moriarty. Or Dr. Hannibal Lechter.

All in all, my doctor is a good egg. However, I’d be surprised if any of you had no disagreeable (or agreeable, for that matter) memories of medical practitioners to draw on for this week’s task: poems about doctors or related themes.

Now, take a deep breath and cough…no, no..come back…I said ‘cough’, not ‘off’..yes, I’m sure it hurts…that’s a very sensitive part of the body…let’s get you an ice-pack…

  1. Reine permalink
    July 10, 2010 1:46 AM

    At Your Cervix

    Take your panties off please love
    And lie up on my table
    Press your bottom down firmly
    and relax if you’re able

    A speculum glinting at me
    My dignity in tatters
    Sole to sole with bended knees
    I think of other matters

    A sterile jar, a swanky swab
    A sudden intervention
    I marvel at the doctor’s poise
    While I am wracked with tension

    “Lovely” she says “all over”
    “Everything looks right as rain”
    I feebly grin and close my legs
    Re-cover my terrain

    I write a cheque, make idle chat
    About the humid weather
    And vow from hereon I will keep
    My legs firmly together

  2. mishari permalink*
    July 10, 2010 2:47 AM

    Great work, Reine. The indignities women have to suffer at the hands of medicos…I mean, Jesus, that foot-harness thing alone makes me shudder…

  3. Reine permalink
    July 10, 2010 3:06 AM

    Thank you. And for your editorial amendment. You’d never guess I work as an editor.

    Yes, the word “stirrups” makes me tremble and not in a good way.

  4. mishari permalink*
    July 10, 2010 3:23 AM

    Foot-harness thing? Jesus…you’d think I’d just learned to spika da Hinglich. Stirrups, of course.

    One of the most unsettling films I think I ever saw was David Cronenberg’s film about the twin brother doctors, my mind’s a blank, can’t remember the name of it or the actor…but the one (who I think was a gynecologist) goes mad and creates these instruments that are genuinely horrifying. Even more so to a woman, I imagine…

  5. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 10, 2010 11:16 AM

    on a jaunt up to the attic
    to resolve a leak climatic
    my trip down was acrobatic
    and net-free

    such an impact was traumatic
    for a borderline rheumatic
    and congenital asthmatic
    such as me

    i’m no hospital fanatic
    but the solution pragmatic
    was an x-ray photographic
    of my knee

    i approached reception; static,
    she noted my problematic
    with precision mathematic
    and a pen;

    for the system informatic
    was, she said, at best erratic
    even idiosyncratic
    now and then

    she bid me sit down, emphatic
    with a rigour quite dogmatic
    so i did, hardly ecstatic,
    as she said

    i sat with an asiatic
    and a homeless aromatic
    with a twitching symptomatic
    of a dead

    or dying psychosomatic
    with a taste for the dramatic
    but his tenor operatic
    did my head

    in. i rose, aristocratic,
    eschewing the democratic
    demanding, undiplomatic,
    to be seen

    spouting oaths unhippocratic
    to the stonewall bureaucratic
    i, with semiautomatic,
    vent my spleen.

  6. July 10, 2010 12:35 PM

    The clap-clinic is a place that distresses
    It’s not only for those with STD messes.
    A cotton-bud is shoved without any lube
    Without warning up your piss-carrying tube.
    The pain is intense and doesn’t go away
    It’s worse the first piss the following day.

    When it’s died down to your general contentment
    The day comes around for the follow-up appointment.
    “Sorry that it caused you such unremitting pain
    But just to make sure we need to do it again”.

  7. Reine permalink
    July 10, 2010 1:47 PM

    Dead Ringers it was starring Jeremy Irons – ghastly.

    Love your suffixed stream Hal and will see cotton buds in a whole new light Ed.

  8. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 10, 2010 9:38 PM


    It’s hardly a fashion accessory,
    but carrying this dark yellow handbag
    has uses beyond the ordinary:
    frequent micturition can be a drag

    after drinking ten pints of orange squash.
    But its acquisition comes at a price,
    not in the sense of laying out the cash,
    but in being shafted, contrariwise.

    The apprehension of the junior doc,
    charged with the fitting of a giant key
    into an ever-diminishing lock,
    is visible in the sweat I can see

    shining on her forehead. Nevertheless,
    her tongue between her teeth, like the schoolgirl
    which I’m sure she very recently was,
    she grips the shrinking bud and gives it a whirl.


  9. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 10, 2010 9:42 PM

    Sorry, the title was supposed to be Catheter (just so you know what it’s about). Can you change it, Ed? [Done-Ed.]

  10. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 10, 2010 9:54 PM

    You’d be better off asking Mish. Ed’s still up the GUM clinic…

  11. mishari permalink*
    July 10, 2010 10:56 PM

    Fine clinical stuff, chaps. Take 2 aspirin and do not call me in the morning…

    I begin to fear for hic’s safety: she lives in a country filled with crazy people. Move to Canada, hic, I implore you…

  12. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 10, 2010 11:57 PM

    This doctor I saw last week was musing about a course he was thinking of giving me. He stared at me for a few seconds then said, ‘You’re not going to be worrying about the effects of long-term steroid use in twenty years, are you?’ No, I replied, desperate to get out of his stifling boiling hot windowless tiny room.

    When I got outside and was walking home I suddenly thought, hang on, wait a fucking minute…

  13. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 12:18 AM

    I’d think long and hard before steroid use, MM. Actually, that’s not true, I wouldn’t need any time at all: unless it’s to treat something life-threatening or so dire as to render quality-of-life unacceptable or it’s for very short-term use, I’d give it a miss.

    Doctors are entirely too cavalier about prescribing powerful drugs. I’ve lost count of the times a friend or a family member has been prescribed a powerful antibiotic for a viral infection (worse than pointless: viral agents are immune to anti-biotics and the patient builds a resistance to anti-biotics).

    A classic return to ‘bang-bang-junkie-music-gave-me-heart-convulsions’ form for atf HERE, followed by an equally classic effort from my favourite exponent of the Faulty Estonian Translation Software School of writing…it’s heartening to see that some standards are being maintained.

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 12:37 AM

    I’d better say it’s nothing that serious. I’ve done a few courses before – the buzz is very good on the higher doses. When I think back to the stuff I used to shovel down (sometimes not even knowing what it was) I’m fairly relaxed about drug use. Anyway, now I know I’m officially time-limited. I’ll never see 2031.

  15. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 12:53 AM

    atf’s stuff (like Rock for her) just gives me a headache, but, if I may digress a little, the other lady’s works are locally although always beautifully produced and the writing wears an accompanying landscape like a second skin. In short, in a vivid sense, it is a desired location for fiction.

  16. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 12:56 AM

    Fucking m escaped. I can’t spell and do italics at the same time.[Sorted-Ed.]

  17. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 1:12 AM

    Bollocks. As the old George Jones song has it:

    Well, a lot of good doctors keep telling me,
    “George, you better start slowing it down.”
    but there’s more old drunks than there are
    old doctors, so I guess we better have another round.

  18. hic8ubique permalink
    July 11, 2010 5:27 AM

    The boss speaks truth; it’s a slippery slope, Mowbray. You’ve had several doses before, and they gave you more? Presumably not in the same tissue? I hope you’re looking into the long term options, cos if it’s the same injection site, it’s time for a new plan. (If you’re taking it systemically, well, your mind is shot anyway and it’s time for palliative care.)
    Needless to say, old warrior, if you need Babson, I’ll be your point person.

    Mishari, I appreciate your solicitude. Passports are kept in the front hallway secretary in case of sudden need. The urge to bolt is stronger when I see footage such as that, but those holy rollers are probably as far from me as Armenia is from you.

    Jeremy Irons can’t help but be ghastly in any circumstance.

  19. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 11, 2010 6:38 AM

    No, I never could stand Jeremy Irons. I didn’t want to come right out and admit it in case it crushed others’ secret desires. And I apply steroids locally but have never had an injection. This lad I know had them weekly on his ankle twenty years back. Used to limp. He still limps, mind, but he’s very rich now. I had this earache last week…

    Hang on, where are you going? Where’s she off to? The bar? Get us a couple of packets of crisps while you’re there, love!

  20. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 7:30 AM

    Ah, Jeremy ‘Any Old’ Irons…

    As the ever delightful Marina Hyde put it in a typically entertaining piece:

    A few years ago, he was explaining that, “I believe in coincidence: if you’re destined to become rich, you will – if not, too bad for you.”

    Still, this new direction is hardly unexpected from a performer who could never be accused of not taking himself seriously enough. There are actors such as Michael Caine who occasionally do the most frightful crap, but are charming enough to be funny about it. “I have never seen it,” explained Sir Michael of his outing in Jaws IV: the Revenge. “However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.” So as I say, there are those actors. And then there are the likes of Jeremy, who once pronounced, “Once in a while, you have to risk a bit.”

    The role of which he was speaking was that of an evil wizard in Dungeons & Dragons, a hilariously bad movie based on the role-playing game. Or as he put it: “Like Alec Guinness in Star Wars, I had to give the project some gravitas.” Mm.

    Mm, indeed…but let’s have a look at Jeremy’s finest moment:

  21. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:05 AM

    Alcohol abuse led me to scramble the doc’s words. ‘The long-term effects of steroid use’ was what he said. The stuff comes in titchy white pills.

    St Marina Hyde gets on my tits. Someone who dallied with Piers Morgan shouldn’t be taking the moral high ground in regard to anyone.

  22. Reine permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:07 AM


    Dancing my way into the shower now, minus my saxophone … the ducky just watches…

    Jeremy did look dandy.

  23. Reine permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:09 AM

    Thing is if one is constantly a bitch about everyone and everything, it rather dilutes the power of one’s so-called commentary/criticism. I like to mix it up a little – bitch one day, saintly the next.

  24. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 11:18 AM

    Weren’t you the one who told us you enjoyed Moron’s book (can’t remember which one, if, indeed, he wrote more than one)? The ways of the heart (it’s an organ in your chest; ask your doctor to point it out) are unfathomable. Have you never had a relationship you regretted?

    And she’s not so much taking the moral high ground as pointing out the lack of self-awareness of absurd, posturing luvvies like Trudy Styler and Irons, who do.

    Anyway, if we start judging people unfit to mock based on unfortunate choices made in the past, we might as well all close-up shop. I mean, doesn’t your interlude with Anne Widdecombe make you cringe a bit?

  25. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 11:46 AM

    You work in an office, don’t you Reine? This one’s for you:

  26. Reine permalink
    July 11, 2010 12:09 PM

    Thanks, Mishari, I think. I work in the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) where I have my own office and am sometimes driven to poking paper clips in my eyes. Beaker was always a favourite of mine.

    As a six year old with a burgeoning interest in romance, flawless skin, long black hair and patent shoes, I packed my little red suitcase and told my mother I was going to live in Sesame Street and marry Bob (the Neil Sedaka lookalike). She said it was in a far country and they would miss me too much so I was prevailed upon to stay put. She asked me again at 13 if I would like to reconsider…

  27. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 12:17 PM

    As I’ve said before, I was just helping Widdy through a difficult time in her life.

    Yes, I rather enjoyed the agreeably tart The Insider, but I would draw the line at shagging the author. I mean, have you seen the bloke?

    Actually, I hardly ever read Hyde’s column, but as Lindsay Lohan was on my mind I did look at that one, and was repelled by her Daily Mail-style moralising. My daughter is about the same age as LL, and I spent some time wondering what kind of person she might have become had she been exploited from birth by her parents, a succession of Hollywood sharks and the ever-present media.

    ‘Not that vocal sympathy for Lindsay’s troubles has been in short supply, which is as it should be, just as we should pity anyone who has had a dysfunctional childhood (presumably most of Lohan’s soon-to-be fellow inmates), or who is pursued night and day by the paparazzi. Yet it would be irresponsible of us not to temper that sympathy with the facts.

    Who’s us? Lord Chief Justice Hyde, I suppose, and her team of dittos. Since when did journalists set the moral agenda?

  28. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 12:41 PM

    I didn’t read the Lohan piece. It does sound disagreeably po-faced and sanctimonious and Moron looks like a man who was poured into his suit and forgot to say ‘when’. Ah, well…Hyde makes me laugh sometimes, which is more than I can say for any other Graun scribbler…

    I love Beaker, myself, Reine. Here he is at his cringing best, poor sod:

  29. hic8ubique permalink
    July 11, 2010 4:18 PM

    When dealing with tack, the foot-harness-thingies are actually called ‘irons’. Speculate on being asked to put your feet in irons at the ob-gyn.
    ‘You’d look neat, talk about a treat….’

    Hyde does spit venom with such practised technique, I find myself appreciating how she did it rather more than her opinion. She might take a page from your book, Re and ‘mix it up a bit’.
    I can appreciate the football in that way. I care nothing for the competition, but happily watch the players’ motor coordination.

    It seems I’m just a brute, Moon, blithely scorning Irons regardless of crushing anyones fantasies. Necrophilia just doesn’t occur to me, I suppose.
    (Juicy cantaloo, by the way.)

    Surprising to see that lugubrious ghoul cut a caper, M.
    He sticks in my memory in that scene when Dershowitz nasalises: ‘Youw are a very strange me-an.’
    and Irons half shadowed replies: ‘You have no idea.’

    On the other hand, isn’t Pete Seeger a beautiful expression of pure joy.

  30. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 5:07 PM

    Sorry, got the wrong thread.

    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!

  31. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 11, 2010 6:27 PM

    I’ve been invited to watch The Final with assembled others who live down our street. I confess to being apprehensive, mainly because the intricate patterns of Spanish passing bore me to the point where narcolepsy is triggered and before you know it I’m slumped and slavering next to the pâté. Anyway, to crimp their Latin style (the French, after their own failure and in accordance with tradition, hurried to lend their support to Brazil. Then Argentina. Then Ghana. Then Uruguay. Then Spain) I shall be supporting the Cloggies, who will win by four goals to two – I NO IT!
    (It’s Not Orange It’s Tangerine!)

  32. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 7:16 PM

    Yes, the cheeseheads for me, edammit. A decent game would be nice. The Dons can be over-complicated, but David ‘Roman’ Villa is pleasingly direct.

  33. hic8ubique permalink
    July 11, 2010 7:53 PM

    Bit of a Mood on your festal day. Sorry, have a gouda time.


    do no harm.

    Stereotaxic fix
    fuckup mitigators
    manipulate slipping teflon
    aneurysm patchwork
    Leeches trepan scoping
    lower rupture pressure
    We’re gutted choking up
    Cellular necrosis spreads
    gangrenous sepsis leaches
    backwash leaks
    Bullshit orifices extrude
    pinguid assurances and
    take stock of personal sponging
    Myopic shallow cloudy
    relations bloviate quibbling
    crude postures embarrassed
    point toxic fingers fuming
    vie contesting estates
    dispersant response
    lie ability
    bloated over

    Asphyxia: puce cast over
    cyan overall we
    bleed out from belly up
    waves flatten
    We’re so sorry
    we did everything
    we could.

  34. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 8:16 PM

    I have a long-term sentimental, emotional and aesthetic investment in España, plus I hate the colour orange. This is no reflection on the shpliff-suckers, whom I’ve always had a soft spot for, but it would make my many dago friends very happy if they won their first Cup, especially as things are increasingly brutal (economically) in Spain…

    Wow, hic…channeling Bukowski, Burroughs and Baudelaire all at once. Very impressive…

  35. hic8ubique permalink
    July 11, 2010 8:34 PM

    Really? now I’ll have to look them all up.

    Thank you, Mishari. At least I now trust that’s all to the positive. When you first (months ago) said I was ‘clever’ I wasn’t entirely sure.
    You saw my last Boston update? about the Gardner museum &c.

  36. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 8:54 PM

    Oh, it’s definitely meant positively: I’m a great admirer of all the aforementioned.

    The Gardner Museum is lovely, with (if I remember rightly) that central quadrangle, lush with plants. The Fogg Museum in Cambridge was another favourite, as was the Busch-Reisenger (sp?) Museum…

    I wish Spain would stop fucking about…

  37. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 9:22 PM

    30 more minutes of this dull pain? Christ, it’s like watching a tooth-ache…

  38. Reine permalink
    July 11, 2010 9:25 PM

    I fell asleep and was woken by a loud lament of “Good fucking Jesus”. “Match going badly love?” And my wine is now tepid… the great martyrs never suffered like this.

  39. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 9:43 PM

    The Spaniards should have won it by now. I really hope it doesn’t go to fucking penalties…

  40. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 9:56 PM

    Finally, thank Christ…

  41. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 10:05 PM

    The Dutch are pissing and moaning…after all their dirty play, they’ve got some fucking nerve. Viva España.

  42. Reine permalink
    July 11, 2010 10:09 PM

    As my dear old Granny would have said “you’ll never have any luck for kicking someone in the chest” or words to that effect.


  43. July 11, 2010 10:47 PM

    Missed it all save for Alan Shearer’s final summing up. Which neatly summed up the entire World Cup for me – dull except for Diego Forlan, Paul the octopus and Paul the other one.

    Off to the Basque country tomorrow for work. Am wondering whether they’ll be as enamoured of Spain winning as the rest of the country

  44. hic8ubique permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:04 PM

    Moon and Mowbray eat Manchego.
    Have some figs, lads. [I expect they’re hitting the genever-Ed.]

  45. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 11:15 PM

    Knock back a bottle or two of chilled txakoli and a large portion of Merluza en Salsa Verde for me, Ed…

    I don’t know if any of you have heard the ever-delightful Mel Gibson’s latest rant. HERE it is and it’s heart-warming evidence of how being a devout Christian nutcase opens your heart…

  46. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:18 PM

    dagos 1 day-glos 0

    a greek tragedy

    loved your pome, hic

  47. Reine permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:25 PM

    Between Boston and Basque country, I am beginning to feel very pedestrian! Safe travelling Mr. Ed.

    Very good poem Hic, it would take an exceedingly dim person to think you are anything other than clever (and funny and witty and kind with it). x R

  48. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:30 PM

    A dull game to end a pretty dull tourney. Let’s hope the next five are an improvement, or I might as well die now.

    See you later, ET. As far as I could tell only Ramos was singing the anthem. I think most of them are Catalans, aren’t they? Xabi Alonso is a Basque, and I imagine Xavi is too.

    That is a magnificent poem, hic.

  49. mishari permalink*
    July 11, 2010 11:44 PM

    It was a dull match, MM, with only the last 30 minutes catching fire a bit. At least it didn’t go to penalties, which I’ve always thought of as grossly unjust. They should always just play on in ‘sudden death’ 15-minute increments. It’s the only fair way.

    That Iniesta goal was a beauty, though and thoroughly deserved. I think the better team won.

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:56 PM

    Yes, I think the Dons deserved it overall. I should think Robben will be feeling terrible, since he could have won the game twice over. They should send him to the eponymous island (sorry, Zeph).

    I self-censored a horrible poem I started about a sigmoidoscopy. Reading hic’s I wonder if I’m being too squeamish.

  51. hic8ubique permalink
    July 12, 2010 12:00 AM

    Thank you everyone. I’m going all soppy now.
    I had wondered whether it was finished, but I suppose I’ll leave it alone.

    Mad Mel the rotter… There were some good bits in the Zeffirelli Hamlet, though, such as Stephen Dillane saying:
    ‘Goodnight sweet Prince, and angels sing thee to thy rest.’
    I liked Gallipoli too.

  52. hic8ubique permalink
    July 12, 2010 12:03 AM

    The Dons! Drake is rolling over in agony.
    Sigmoidoscopy will never do MM, you must go for the whole banana.

  53. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 3:19 AM

    Emergency Services

    The Bishop called the doctor on the telephone
    one day, saying “something of grave concern arose … if you could come my way”

    So the doctor packed his bag and pulled up outside the palace, knocked three times on the front door presently opened by Alice

    In the oratory, kneeling, he found the Bishop weeping
    With the task in hand apparent beneath the bible he was keeping

    open on Leviticus, preparing for his homily
    And therein had arisen the current strange anomaly

    Feeling a stirring in his bishopric, the poor man had unleashed
    what he’d not examined closely since he became a priest

    “I don’t really know what happened Dr.
    I was just having a look and then I found it’d lodged itself in this recessed wooden nook”

    “The pain is rather pleasant if I’m honest with you doc
    But I can’t stay here forever with a book covering my cock”

    So applying some anointed oil to the embedded member
    The doctor tried distraction saying it was mild out for December

    Following some further chat about the weather and Chris Evans
    The bible fell, the doctor smiled and said “well now, thank heavens”

    He prescribed a mild emollient and a large snifter of brandy
    And told the bishop if ever again he felt a little randy

    To stay in open spaces, devoid of orifice
    And maybe to begin by trying out a kiss.

  54. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 3:32 AM

    Line 9, “arisen” please Ed. [Done-Ed.]

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 12, 2010 11:12 AM

    Wood on wood, eh? As my woodwork teacher used to say, ‘tapping’ his pupils on the head with a bloody great mallet.

    I can’t seem to plug the sigmoidoscope back in. I suppose I’ll have to try another orifice.

  56. mishari permalink*
    July 12, 2010 11:32 AM

    Ministers will set out a new results-driven framework for the NHS today, which they claim could save thousands of lives a year.

    Andrew Lansley will say that Labour’s top-down targets prevented health professionals in the UK reaching the levels of success of their European counterparts.
    Related articles

    While investment has been brought into line with Europe under the previous government, the number of lives saved has not, the Health Secretary says.

    Launching a health White Paper, he will claim that 20,000 deaths from cancer and strokes could be avoided each year by making the NHS more accountable against “outcomes” such as survival rates. – The Indy, today

    Perhaps someone with a firmer grasp of the English language’s subtleties can explain the difference between ‘targets’ (of evil memory) and the bright, new dawn of ‘results’ and ‘outcomes’. Sounds like the same old horse-shit to me…

    Pity, MM…I feel that one can never have too many sigmoidoscope poems…

  57. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 12:30 PM

    Well, going forward Mishari, it is essential that the top down targets of the past be recognised as largely aspirational and unachievable. We now propose to map the bottom up results and outcomes in all their glorious tangibility and develop a retroactive policy to replace the status quo ante with a “status quo plus” in which fatal casualties of the system can be newly filed as attrition targets successfully met to improve efficiencies in the health services and testify to proof that limited resources are being deployed with great discernment across the demographic.

    A sigmoidoscopic cleansing might do them all some good.

  58. mishari permalink*
    July 12, 2010 12:38 PM

    Reine, your fluency in politico/think-tank/consultancy gibberish suggests that your time in the Irish Parliament has not been wasted…A sigmoidoscopic cleansing is a pitiful half-measure. Impalement on wooden-stakes alongside public highways sounds about right…

  59. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 12:52 PM

    I’m not proud Mishari that I have a facility to say much without saying anything! My sister tells everyone I have a PhD in bullshit. That’s why I need to keep my mind active in other ways.

    Don’t know how to do links but if you paste this, you’ll get a glimpse of my nearly first husband, Bob. I thought he was addressing me directly.

    Anyway, “hi friends, how are ye friends?”

  60. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 12:53 PM

    Magic! It appeared automatically. What a marvellous, targetless outcome.

  61. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 12, 2010 5:07 PM

    A spot of Hyde-style moralising:


    I think my insides are starting to rot,
    Who let this knobber in again?
    oh, doctor, doctor, how long have I got?

    If you weren’t a pathetic drunken sot
    you’d have less call to complain.

    I think my insides are starting to rot.

    And so would mine if I’d had just a jot
    of your cargo of grape and grain.

    Oh, doctor, doctor, how long have I got?

    If it was ethical to have you shot
    the time it takes till slug meets brain.

    I think my insides are starting to rot,

    ooh my stomach is hurting such a lot,
    I’ve never been in so much pain,
    oh, doctor, doctor, how long have I got?

    Well, now you’re putting me right on the spot.
    I can tell you that, in the main,
    whether or not your gut is going to rot
    is up to you, and so is how long you’ve got.

    Why do I have to keep re-entering my name etc every time I comment now? I keep losing my posts because I forget to check. No great loss, of course…

  62. mishari permalink*
    July 12, 2010 6:47 PM

    I dunno, M. It does it to me, too. It’s nothing I’ve done or re-set or anything. WordPress just goes a bit funny sometimes. Normal service is usually quickly resumed…great rhyming couplets from Reine and boozanelle from you, by the way.

  63. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 9:57 PM

    To be sure, to be sure, block/highlight your text and “control c” it before you submit MM – lost a couple of posts last week. At least if you copy the text first, it will be on standby to make a reappearance. It is incredibly difficult to recall a poem one wrote two minutes previously – but lucky for ye I did. Ha ha!

  64. mishari permalink*
    July 12, 2010 10:32 PM

    Bad Air

    The on-set is hard
    and hard to mistake:
    fever then chills
    and then you shake
    like a man seized
    by an angry electric God.

    Then more fever and aches
    more nausea and pain
    then blessed delirium:
    oblivion again.

    Then sweat that
    pours off you,
    a hot, salt cascade,
    and your fever breaks:
    you’re done for the day.

    These are the cycles
    that repeat
    when necessary
    until you’re limp meat,
    gaunt and half-dead.

    Never let it be said
    (are there any so blind?)
    that travel doesn’t
    broaden the mind.

  65. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 12, 2010 11:08 PM

    Good advice, Reine, but if I remembered to highlight the text I would have remembered to re-enter my name. I suppose I should do everything in Word, paste it and delete it, but usually I cba. If I do I usually end up automatically saving it, and since I never get round to deleting anything I end up with hundreds of documents called ‘It3’ or ‘The7’.

    That exciting glimpse into the World Of Filing was brought to you by MeltonMowbray ProductionsTM.

    So, malaria? Are you a sufferer, Your Grace? I’m amazed that the mozzies had the impertinence to puncture the noble hide.

  66. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 11:27 PM

    A Doctor in the House

    So you’ll keep your Hippocratic oath,
    The doctor’s husband goaded,
    And forget the one you made to me
    Leave me for someone loaded?

    So what’s the big attraction,
    Aside from his account,
    Will he dazzle you with diamonds
    When he attempts to mount

    a defence for infidelity?
    ’cause as sure as eggs is eggs
    He’ll tire of your old stethoscope
    And go in search of legs

    That are firmer, longer, leaner
    Beneath a pert young ass
    Oh yes, my darling, believe you me
    ‘t will come to such a pass

    I thought you said you loved me
    I know my work is patchy
    But my guacamole’s legendary
    And you love my mariachi

    And when you cry out “Andale”
    Will he know it means you’re keen
    For him to bring things to a close
    So you can run and clean

    your teeth, your face, your other bits
    before you take your pill?
    Devoid of any romance
    Killing any fleeting thrill

    Well he’s welcome to you, off you go
    Don’t forget to leave your key
    And when he drones on about his prostate
    Don’t come back crying to me

  67. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 11:30 PM

    Or else MM, hire an amanuensis!

  68. mishari permalink*
    July 12, 2010 11:31 PM

    I’ve had a few bouts, yes. It’s an ‘interesting’ experience, the delirium, especially, because you remember it all so vividly.

    Whole hallucinatory dramatic extravaganzas play out before your eyes and later, when your fever breaks, you really can’t tell what was real and what wasn’t…

    Mosquitoes are no respecters of persons…the bastards.

  69. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 12, 2010 11:49 PM

    I like that, Reine. What does ‘Andale’ mean?

    Malaria sounds rather like life itself, crammed into a shorter space of time.

  70. Reine permalink
    July 12, 2010 11:53 PM

    Thanks MM if it’s the poem to which you refer. It means “hurry up, get a move on” – but I am basing this on a cartoon mouse so am open to correction.

    Mishari and Cheryl Cole – is it only the very beautiful people who are thus afflicted?

  71. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 13, 2010 12:11 AM

    Sorry, yes, I meant the poem.

    Perhaps it’s the people who have hair extensions who are afflicted.

  72. Reine permalink
    July 13, 2010 12:20 AM

    You’re such a bitch Marina Mowbray!

  73. cellaroseus permalink
    July 13, 2010 1:13 AM

    A general practitioner discovers another chronic case upon their list.

    Trust me, trust me,
    I’m a doctor,
    please step in my helicopter;
    we need to fly you out for
    so please, no more of these
    Just hurry-up,
    your cell is waiting
    and we must soon start

    Trust me, trust me,
    the jacket’s good
    it fits you just like
    couture should.
    Now just bite
    – here
    upon the bit
    (I knew that muzzle
    was the right fit.)

    Quick, haul her on boys,
    the chopper
    next to the ocean,
    where we’ll

  74. hic8ubique permalink
    July 13, 2010 1:24 AM

    Re~ I’ve looked up this Cheryl Cole person, and I’m sad to conclude your taste in women is indeed sorely under- developed, but I understand…
    Your poem is fun though.

    ‘a hot, salt cascade’
    I like it.

  75. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 13, 2010 12:29 PM

    Tweedy Redivivus

    Cheryl, you were badly bitten
    by the bug of love, and rashly
    allowed your soul to be smitten
    by that rancid microbe Cashley.

    Tossing and turning on your bed,
    suffering in the darkest pit,
    you slowly raised your lovely head
    with a smile. Because you’re worth it.

    Now that sickening fever’s gone
    you need the healing of the crowd
    for God’s sake get your knickers on
    and go on tour with Girls Aloud!

  76. mishari permalink*
    July 13, 2010 12:57 PM

    I want to point people to Adam Curtis’ (whose The Power of Nightmares is essential viewing) BBC blog on Afghanistan, containing, as it does, a wealth of fascinating material; from the involvement, in Kabul, of Italian conceptual artist Alighiero e Boetti (whose ancestor Giovanni Battista Boetti turned up in Chechnya in the 18th century as a Muslim prophet named Mansur) to wonderfully, unintentionally comical footage of Sir Fitzroy Maclean, adventurer and intelligence officer (and supposedly one of the models for James Bond) musing on the ‘teddy boy’ phenomenon in Georgia.

    There’s a great deal more; essentially, a history of the West’s involvement in Afghanistan. Absorbing stuff.

  77. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 13, 2010 1:22 PM

    Did you ever read Hopkirk’s ‘The Great Game’? It’s a long time since I read it, so the research may be out of date, but it was a good read.

  78. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 13, 2010 1:22 PM

    Three ‘reads’? I need a style makeover.

  79. mishari permalink*
    July 13, 2010 1:30 PM

    I did and enjoyed it hugely. Here’s Curtis on the Communist coup in Kabul:

    Prime Minister Daoud knew nothing of all this and thought the marxists were under arrest. All the military commanders in Kabul were told to order their troops to sing and dance to celebrate the arrest of the “kafirs” – the communists.

    But the next morning Daoud woke up to discover the coup underway. His Minister of Defence rang the local base commander and ordered him to move his troops to protect the Presidential Palace. The Commander replied:

    “How can I? They’re all out singing and dancing as you ordered – and have been for hours”

    Then he rang the 8th Rocket Division. The Commanding Officer said he would send the rockets, but instead he told his troops to keep dancing. He was waiting to see which side won.

  80. hic8ubique permalink
    July 13, 2010 2:09 PM

    St John’s Ambulance
    qualified John Wildman
    who worked for the Railway
    for the task at hand
    whenever another
    passed caring mother of
    yet another Seriosha
    remaining on King’s Cross
    tracks rent flesh
    spirit lifting exhausted
    on steam.

    On a good day, Prince Edward
    who regularly needed
    help to
    descend the
    Flying Scotsman,
    bestowed a fine ring
    when Wildman carried him
    off reeling
    per usual
    out of season.

    The ring was stolen.
    John died like his father,
    lungs grief baptised flooded
    asthma swollen, but older.
    I sometimes flannel polish
    sharing service
    his daughter’s red wedding
    shoe shiny sixpence 1880
    Victoria’s argent profile,

    and his sterling medallion
    hallmarked on my fingertips:
    The St. John Ambulance Association 
    eight-point Maltese cross
    reverse: No. 44161

    imagining still
    warm blood pressed
    against his breast.

  81. mishari permalink*
    July 13, 2010 2:19 PM

    You’re on a roll, hic. Wonderful.

    In 1960 there was no pop music in Afghanistan. There was a loose group of westerners who played what was called “cocktail lounge music”. They were led by Manfried Wertz who was the son of a world-famous German geologist, and Jan Vanderpant who was described as “a swinging British Dentist.”

    If Jan Vanderpant, the Swinging British Dentist ever recorded an album, I’ll find it or die trying…

  82. hic8ubique permalink
    July 13, 2010 2:52 PM

    …even if you Swing for it?

    Thanks, Mishari gratified you approve. I just squeeked it in under your ‘related themes’, an early para-medic.

  83. Reine permalink
    July 13, 2010 5:07 PM

    Cheryl would be touched MM… bravo

    Dear Mr. Mowbray, Esquire
    Your soothing words make me desire
    To “sing” once again
    To the women and men
    Who tell me my sex is on fire

    “Hot as a fever, rattling bones”
    How could the Kings of Leon have known
    I would be laid low
    By malaria’s blow
    With no husband, just here on my own?

    Still, the hospital staff have been super
    Though I’m sure I have seemed quite the looper
    Cursing and sweating
    (They tried some bloodletting)
    And the doc tells me I’m an old trouper

    In fact when I’m feeling more lively
    He is bringing me out to the Ivy
    For a low GI lunch
    And some fruity Pimms punch
    Looking forward to that with dear Clive, MD

    I’m currently darning my thong
    And practising my new single/song
    So I’ll be fully primed
    When its release is timed
    To Wembley with crooning crowds throng

    PS. Who is this Hic8ubique?
    With a turn of phrase to me oblique
    She seems very clever
    But we can be friends never
    Does she not know my beauty’s unique? ;)

  84. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 13, 2010 11:32 PM

    My pleasure, Cheryl.

    I must admit I do find your excessively kittenish mug quite difficult to look at. There’s a point beyond which a face becomes a parody of a face, and I’m sorry to say that yours has gone some way beyond it. A couple of wrinkles or a spot would help.

    It’s your bad luck that the Geordie accent, once rather charming to the Southern ear, has been made unacceptable by the continuity announcers on Channel 4. Hearing that Chahnill Fowah Nuwza wuth Jawn Snooah an Krushhnaaan Guruh-Murfaah is coming up has spoiled many an evening by the fireside chez Mowbray.

    In short, my advice to you is to get older, spottier, more wrinkled and start talking more correctly. Take Prince Mishari as your guide (but don’t take it to that extreme, of course).

  85. obooki permalink
    July 14, 2010 12:17 AM

    Have any of you tried the government’s new let-the-people-decide-how-to-solve-the-economic-crisis website? I don’t think they’ve really thought it through.

    The 8th most commented suggestion is:

    “Force cats to spend 1 hour per day on electrical treadmills”

    just below:

    “Let’s get a moderator on this website” (put forward by someone called websitefullofhate)

    and just above:

    “Shut down this site”

    To be honest, I don’t find it that much different to CiF.

    ps. Don’t bother going on it during peak-hours: they don’t have the servers to cope with the traffic.

  86. Reine permalink
    July 14, 2010 9:04 AM

    “How can I start talking proper-like when I have earned my millions being the girl next door, albeit (like that do ya Mr. Mowbray?) without the acne, limp hair and muffin-top? I wish I could be more like the women here – witty and pretty. If I married Mishari, would that make me a princess? When me and Noel were talking about ordering the universe, that was next on my list but I thought I would have to overthrow that Camilla person first. Maybe there’s a via media (get me).” C

    (who I think has just turned into a character from Brookside)

  87. mishari permalink*
    July 14, 2010 12:55 PM

    You know, I was digging around under a drift of papers on my desk in search of a missing document or the Fountain of Youth or the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, I forget which–and I came across 3 envelopes addressed to MM, Ed and XB: stuff I’d meant to post to you fellows last week.

    Let no-one accuse me of undue haste or of acting without mature consideration. Anyway, they’ll go in the post to-morrow morning…sorry about that.

    BTW, have I mentioned that America is full of crazy people?

  88. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 14, 2010 4:28 PM

    Cheryl Al-Adwani. No. Mishari Tweedy sounds better.

    I was aware that many Americans don’t know anything about the rest of the world, but on that evidence they don’t know much about their own country. That czars thing… bizarre is not a strong enough word. I can’t understand why they don’t want a decent health system: I mean, they seem like just the sort of people who would benefit from such an arrangement. What’s wrong with them?

  89. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 14, 2010 4:31 PM

    Mind you, checking out obooki’s link our loonies aren’t much better.

    Invading Switzerland seems like an interesting idea, however.

  90. hic8ubique permalink
    July 14, 2010 4:36 PM

    Is all refuge to be denied me?

  91. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 14, 2010 4:57 PM

    Blackpool is rarely threatened by invasion. Take a woolly.

  92. hic8ubique permalink
    July 14, 2010 5:09 PM

    No fear.
    Lovely Blackpool is equatorial compared to what I have in mind today.

  93. Reine permalink
    July 14, 2010 5:58 PM

    Hic, one does not associate you with the headbanging, short-wearing herd. God above, they are beyond mad.

  94. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 14, 2010 6:06 PM

    My girls are in Blackpool today. They left the dogg in the New Forest, but still comprise a formidably offensive unit in the blue Kangoo.

  95. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 14, 2010 6:32 PM

    I hope the animal doesn’t have Solent-swimming capability. Extreme measures are in force against sea doggs. I see a squadron of spaniels was blown out of the water off Totland yesterday.

  96. hic8ubique permalink
    July 14, 2010 8:29 PM

    Thanks Re~ Shorts have their place, but I saw nothing in that video I would wear in public or private. Sad to say, in order to go mad they would need minds to begin with.
    I meant that I was taking refuge here at PH, Mowbray.
    Is no place sacred?
    I’m going to take a hike, with doggs, in woods (wearing something short) lest I succumb to head-banging.
    It’s actually a powerful political act. When I emerge after 2 hours or so, the world will have become a better more tolerable place.

  97. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 14, 2010 11:10 PM

    Sorry, hic. What, no XXL

    I am a
    Natural Born Citizen
    The Citizenry has a ‘Duty’
    To perform a Citizens’ Arrest

    t-shirt? Such a snappy line.

    I was in the pharmacy getting a prescription today. I’d just dug my credit card out when the assistant said:

    ‘Oh, you don’t have to pay when you’re over 60.’
    ‘I’m not over 60.’
    ‘Are you sure? Sorry, I mean… oh, I’ve added your age up wrong. Sorry!’
    ‘That’s OK.’
    ‘I was just thinking what a young-looking 60 year-old you are.’

    I suppose you have to take your compliments where you find them.

  98. Reine permalink
    July 14, 2010 11:28 PM

    Well, MM, what a coincidence … I, too, was in the chemist today getting a prescription filled. Feeling absolutely shit, hope you are more favourably disposed. R

    R went to the doctor
    Whose name was Chi Chi Lee
    Which, for no apparent reason,
    Filled R with sudden glee

    It was a walk-in surgery
    Conveniently near
    And Dr. Lee was kind and sure
    I had nothing to fear

    But for an inflamed throat
    And a clammy kind of touch
    A bulging sinus, watery eye
    Not well, but nothing much

    awry, so here I sit
    With whiskey and tablets on the side
    Thinking this is punishment
    For dissing Marina Hyde

  99. mishari permalink*
    July 14, 2010 11:43 PM

    I suspect your prescription for ampoules of botox and extract of goat-testicles probably added to the chemist’s confusion.

    For those of us who consider Rupert Murdoch to be Australia’s least appetising export since Peter Andre, HERE’S some good news…

  100. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 15, 2010 12:36 AM

    Steam inhalation is the key to the inflamed sinus, Reine. Bowl, boiling water, towel over head. Don’t fall asleep or you may suffer serious noseburn. I speak from experience.

    Nice to know Murdoch is failing. That mention of David Mitchell brought to mind a TV programme about P Cook and D Moore on Sunday which MrsM pointed out to me. Hosted by Jonathan ROSS, featuring Ade EDMUNDSEN, Angus DEAYTON, Hugh DENNIS, David MITCHELL and STEPHEN FRY. It should have been called the Axis of Evil.

    I’m sorry, obooki, but your old chum’s ubiquity has damned him for the forseeable in my eyes. Take a break, Dave.

  101. hic8ubique permalink
    July 15, 2010 3:44 PM

    I’m touched to see Big Pharma Mowbray reveal his
    Tender Melton heart, offering home-remedy ministrations.
    Fancy that.
    I’d only add: a fistful of sea-salt in the pot, Re as well as my own ‘feel better soon’ wishes~~ Kx

  102. Reine permalink
    July 15, 2010 3:52 PM

    Thank you MM and Hic. I read MM’s message when I woke in the middle of the night from fitful sleep – made me laugh anyway! I think MM would be a most attentive nurse, administering cold presses to feverish brows, making cups of herbal tea and fluffing pillows… perhaps I am still feverish. xx

  103. hic8ubique permalink
    July 15, 2010 4:21 PM

    I have no doubt of it. He’d do all those things, and at the same time ask you whether you’d like him to get the pistol.

  104. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:07 PM

    The gun was my second option, but I held it back because I am a Good Person.

    After a struggle with my sceptical self I decided to buy Tim Parks’ ‘Teach Us To Sit Still’, his latest book, in which he describes how he managed to alleviate a mysterious (and crippling) problem with his groin through the use of something called Vipassana meditation. I can’t say I’m that interested in the therapeutic aspect, but it sounds like there’s plenty of other interesting stuff, in the manner of his Italian books. And can a ’54 man be less than fascinating? If it’s any good I can send it on to you, Altesse. Pehaps it might help with your boils.

    Curious how Vince Cable seems to be morphing into a Conservative before our very eyes.

  105. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:09 PM

    God, two interestings now. I’m ill.

  106. hic8ubique permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:48 PM

    Good Choice.
    Not that interested in the therapeutic aspect?
    How many courses of prednisone did you say?

    Just by the by, when you looked at kapotasana, and thought it would cause hernias? you were probably looking at advanced examples. There are beginning variants… just in case you still have hip joint problems?

  107. obooki permalink
    July 16, 2010 12:14 AM

    I’m no defender of Mitchell. Perhaps I use him more as a yard-stick, in much the same way as my mother does, as in, “That David Mitchell’s doing all right, isn’t he? Wasn’t he in your class at school?”

    This week, Michael Gove has been taking money away from voluntary nurseries and a youth centre we were going to build. – I never liked him on Newsnight Review.

  108. hic8ubique permalink
    July 16, 2010 12:46 AM

    Shall I admit this?
    I had that same yardsticky feeling about Princess Diana, obooki. Nothing particular in common except for being born the same year, first abysmal child marriages within a month of each other, first babies within months, even divorced the same year. I was aware of her as my contemporary, and, fortunately for me, the parallel events ended in time for me to survive her.

    Is this a daft comment?
    Maybe one more parallel…

  109. Reine permalink
    July 16, 2010 12:51 AM

    Last night, MM, I would have happily let you shoot me but tonight I am feeling more perky – you couldn’t have brought yourself to do it anyway looking into my big brown doe eyes. And I would have disarmed you with some synonyms for “interesting”.

  110. Reine permalink
    July 16, 2010 12:59 AM

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph Hic, you are no more Lady Di (perhaps a little coquettish when Mishari is around – who could blame you? (entre nous MM has the same effect on me)) than you are Tea Party material, fear not girlfriend.

    I was a child bride myself first time around much to my parents’ dismay. A stubborn hippy chick caught up in a college romance. They felt very sorry for him!

  111. obooki permalink
    July 16, 2010 1:34 AM

    The good thing about using Mitchell as a yardstick is that, apart from his superficial televisual success, it’s quite obvious that he’s a complete failure as a human-being. (Yes, the parallels are disturbing). – I suppose though with Lady Di, you must feel a bit better about just being still alive.

  112. hic8ubique permalink
    July 16, 2010 4:32 AM

    Re~ How do I break this gently? the entire northern hemisphere and beyond are well aware of the effect MM has on you.
    Furthermore, I flirt with everyone who has a prefrontal cortex and a pulse, including you, as you must recall…just my incendiary nature. I did have one Irish great-grandmother after all.
    I was an unabashed bottlerocket fan long before the current (admittedly becalming) photo confirmed my perspicacity. I lamented his loss publicly for months when he seemed to disappear, even when he might have been insufferably whiskered or a closet Bartok enthusiast.
    Didn’t you and I both miss the hippie period, or were you a holdover? Glad to hear you are better and live to glitter another day.

    obooki~ It is indeed my privilege as survivor to forgive all.

    I haven’t noticed a doctor poem from our estimable freep…?
    Rereading Mishari’s intro, I’m reminded of another prominent Boston fixture:
    ‘Death-wish Piano Movers’

  113. Reine permalink
    July 16, 2010 8:50 AM

    Hic, well I am astounded. Who knew I wore my heart so clearly on my sleeve? Everyone apparently – ha! I do recall Bottlerocket stomping off after a row with BM (am I right?)but thankfully he was never far away.

    I did miss the hippie period but retained its spirit for a while.

    I quite like Mitchell but he does get around; difficult sometimes to know whether he is in character or just being his awkward self. Still not everyone can be as perfect as my …

  114. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:48 AM

    I got married in ’81 too. The bunting was still up in the streets from Charles and Di’s ill-starred union, so for a moment Mrs M and me were able to indulge in a royal wedding fantasy. The rusty Morris Ital which took us to the reception soon punctured that illusion.

    I’ve only read reviews of the Parks book, but I can see how meditation might have improved his mental, though not his physical, health. I do find it hard to believe that viruses (for instance) respond to being thought about, positively or not.

    No problems with the hic, hip. It’s coughing which has troubled me for a few years now, variously ascribed to lung cancer, tuberculosis, COPD, emphysema, bronchiestasis and virtually every lung condition known to medicine, none of which turned out to apply. Some form of aspergillosis is the current guess.

    Gove seems to be struggling already, and he’s another who’s hard to look at. Sometimes I’m inclined to forgive Mitchell because of Peep Show: then I look into his sharklike black eyes and think, no, I can’t.

  115. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2010 12:11 PM

    Aside from Gove’s unseemly ‘keenness’ (he absolutely fucking babbles when attempting to put across his ideological convictions), it’s those large, pink, rubbery lips, always moving and perpetually glistening with spittle, that I can’t bear to look at. But as Orwell pointed out years ago, politicians are uniformly hideous to look at…

  116. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 16, 2010 12:15 PM

    Apart from Widdy, that is.

  117. freep permalink
    July 16, 2010 12:58 PM

    I have been at the European Symposium for the Promotion of Estimability, hic. The concluding address urged us all that to be happy is the chief goal of existence, in order that our deaths can console the living. The delegates thereupon stoned the keynote speaker with coloured marbles, and he expired with a beatific look upon his odious mug.
    A doctor poem will follow. I am thinking gout.
    I have bought the dogg a bone and some ox liver for his tenth birthday on Sunday.
    Sorry to hear about your respiration, MM. Maybe it is a ’54 thing. For myself, as a ’46 person, it seems as if the prostate is the theme. I find myself locked in tiled compartments more than I would like.

  118. hic8ubique permalink
    July 16, 2010 7:27 PM

    Aspergillosis? You have a distressing mallardy, MM. That calls for quack medicine…sorry.
    I do hope you are receiving more than ‘guessing’ for diagnosis. Now I understand your dry voice.
    Let us know how you like the book. I think Vipassana would be great for you. Even if only for relaxation, that confers an immune benefit.

    I’m looking forward to your gout, freep. Perhaps you’ll work in some cherry juice.

    The actor Ronald Lacey has that same sort of pink slug-lipped repulsiveness as Gove. I think he played the hookah-smoking taxidermist in Our Mutual Friend (?) in the ’80s.

    You’re right, indeed, Re. It was BM. He still won’t speak to me I notice, but he has so little to say anyway, I find I don’t mind.
    All the fun people talk to me.

  119. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2010 9:33 PM

    Was Ronald Lacey the one who played the Gestapo officer in the first Raiders of The Lost Ark film?

    Evidently, Zac Goldsmith is every bit as shifty and sinister/buffoonish as his father was. Watch THIS car-crash interview with Jon Snow. Hilarious. Goldsmith is patently outraged at being questioned by plebs. He’s going to regret this interview, the shmuck…

    What truly astonishes me is the cheese-paring…all this wriggling and fiddling over a few grand from a man who’s worth an estimated £200 million. I can’t fathom it at all…[My mistake. It’s actually about him spending more than he’s entitled to under electoral rules -Hair-Trigger Ed.]

  120. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 16, 2010 10:15 PM

    In the darkness of Melton’s chest
    we’re growing larger, slow but sure,
    one day we’ll burst out through his breast,
    like that chappie in the picture.

    He topped our ancestors in troops,
    and how many times did he scoff
    their corpses creamed or chopped in soups,
    in omelettes and Stroganoff?

    So now we grow and plan his fate,
    which fungamentally is grim,
    at last we have him on a plate,
    he stuffed us, now we’re stuffing him.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      July 16, 2010 11:47 PM

      I noticed that I doubled up on chest in verse 1. The second ‘chest’ should have been ‘breast’ (snigger). Could you change it, Ed? [Done-Ed.]

  121. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 16, 2010 10:35 PM

    Zac really made a fool of himself. I should think Cameron’s doing his nut. Everyone present at Mowbray House was whistling and looking at their footwear, so embarrassing was it. Those threats at the end! Truly his father’s son.

    Sorry to hear about the prostate, freep. I’m not looking forward to that one.

    What a piece of work is a man!

    Parks, it seems, was encouraged to massage his prostate, using his anus as an entry point. I think he declined.

  122. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2010 10:45 PM

    I regret to say that my recent medical included a check of the prostate. Knowing what it involved, I tried to decline but my Dr. insisted. “You’re at the dangerous age…better safe than sorry, etc etc.

    Not a happy memory, although I suppose I’m being needlessly dainty. Women have to put up with that sort of impersonal invasion of intimate parts from quite early on. Then again, women are generally tougher than men, whatever macho bluster to the contrary.

    Yes, Goldsmith was cringe-making alright. I guess Eton trains some of its sons better than others. I imagine ‘Call Me Dave’ is incandescent.

  123. hic8ubique permalink
    July 16, 2010 10:59 PM

    I submit to having my supine checked regularly.

  124. hic8ubique permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:13 PM

    Sounds like you need diaspora-tion of the colony, MM.

    Parks (?) must have been well-informed that the best insurance for a healthy well-massaged prostate is a gruelling regimen of frequent ejaculation… by whatever means available.
    Sorry to break this news, dears.

  125. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:17 PM

    I see we have a spelling Tsarina.

    So Invisible Jack was really an Irish poet masquerading as Jack Brae. Seems a bit pointless, really. I wouldn’t have known who he was had he used his real name. I suppose BM might. Was that the point?

  126. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2010 11:20 PM

    I seem to remember that apes were ‘milked’ for purposes of artificial insemination by having an electrode inserted into their rear-end until it touched the prostate, whereupon a small electric shock was administered, leading to automatic ejaculation.

    So, there you go, MM. Modify an old electric-toothbrush, stick it up your arse, push the button and you’ll be a veritable Trevi Fountain..

    I missed that. What are you referring to, MM? I always assumed Jack Brae was his real name. Why wouldn’t I?

  127. hic8ubique permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:23 PM

    That’s Tsarevna!
    No, just playing, c’mon. It took me three tries to spell it myself.

    Jack explained his intent to keep his blog postings separate from his published work. I asked him about it, so I’ll see if I can find his response.
    godfathers, I’ll really have to mind my spelling now…

  128. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2010 11:27 PM

    Prostate, prostrate: let’s call the whole thing off. I guess it’s one of those words that I actually write so infrequently that I automatically give it the supine spelling. But I’m not taking this lying down: the fightback starts here…

  129. hic8ubique permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:30 PM

    I thought it was to do with the gay doc.

  130. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:33 PM

    Des Swords (in Laurel and Hardy mode) has a link to an Irish poetry site on the current POTW, in which this chap John Sexton explains how he infiltrated Poster Poems (and other blogs, including this one, I assume). Why, I’m not quite sure.

  131. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2010 11:39 PM

    Oh, I see…or, rather, I don’t see. You mean he managed to evade the dogs, searchlights, minefields, identity checks and DNA-fingerprinting that I subject every poster to? I’m going to have to speak to Col. Basilisk, my head of security. Clearly, he’s been lax, the Bulgarian lead-swinger…

  132. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:43 PM

    He fooled us all. Curses!

  133. hic8ubique permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:51 PM

    Found it.
    I haven’t yet looked at what John Sexton has to say, but I asked JBC on File’s blog last November whether he would tell us his ‘in print’ identity, and this was his response…

    ‘The nom de plumes have an established profile, as it were, so to associate them with myself at this stage is, I feel, a weak-kneed way of giving my blog-poetry some form of credence – it’d be like saying “look, I’ve done this as well”! Whereas, I think the blog poetry should be able to stand on its own two feet and establish itself on the strength of its own qualities. It would bt like another poet saying something like “my poetry must ne good because, look, I’m a qualified doctor”, or “look, my day-job is head of the Tate so my poetry is obviously brilliant and I obviously know what I’m doing!” The botton line for me is that I want the poetry to stand or fall on its own, doing its own thing. I have absolute faith in it and I want readers to read it for itself, and not for any other reason. But then, I can’t really help myself in that regard, as I’m a stubborn Irishman.

    I get very annoyed at poetry readers and poets who have this snobby attitude that “if it appears on the internet then it can’t be much good because it’s just some sort of amateurish playground”. Sadly, too many people hold that belief and I strongly disagree with it. At some point I want the blog poems to form a collection, but I want that collection to be accepted or rejected on its own merits, and not on the strength of work I’ve done elsewhere. I hope this makes sense.’

    Jack Brae

  134. mishari permalink*
    July 17, 2010 12:00 AM

    You’ll be pleased to know that Mad Men is starting Season 4 next week. I’ll pass them along when the series is done.

    Christ, that fucking idiot Parisa infuriates me. I posted an outraged reply to her assertion that Palestinian bombs were as deadly as Israeli bombs (an assertion flatly contradicted by the mortality figures): it was deleted very quickly. And yet she continues to be allowed to insert little bits of Zionist cheer-leading into her posts. I wish she’d read Zionism In The Age of Dictators by Lenni Brenner (available online HERE). But that might reveal an unpleasant toad at the bottom of her happy settler garden…bah.

  135. hic8ubique permalink
    July 17, 2010 12:09 AM

    Parisa’s little bit’s are buffered by plenty of meandering stuffing.
    Your ‘mayfly’ post was up long enough to be appreciated by the regulars.

  136. mishari permalink*
    July 17, 2010 12:12 AM

    Oh, OK…I’m glad someone saw it. I just assumed it got the chop instantly. Having read Jack’s article, he makes no claim to have ‘infiltrated’ anything. He was just conducting an experiment in poetic identity, which is fair enough…

  137. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 17, 2010 12:15 AM

    Oh, I see. I couldn’t understand what the point of his cloaking was from the bit on POTW. Well, I suppose at this point I should reveal that I am in fact Andrew Motion. Or Carol Ann Duffy. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

    Looking forward to Mad Men. Thanks.

    Parisa is always RIGHT, hadn’t you noticed? Her and atf are made for each other.

  138. hic8ubique permalink
    July 17, 2010 12:23 AM

    It was up the morning I saw it and then a slate of I/P posts were chopped out later that night (including Parisa’s) so longer than many.

    I never felt Jack was pulling a fast one, but he fooled me with Juan Bitumen, his comic persona. I had a number of entertaining exchanges with Juan. Sorry he’s moved on.
    I agree, fair enough.

  139. Reine permalink
    July 17, 2010 12:26 AM

    It’s all very well to say so in retrospect but I always thought there was a preachy patronising tone to JB’s stuff. He didn’t like me either, bloody amateur pain in the ass that I was! Well, good for him and his multiple identities – exploration of poetic identity being his ostensible theme – hope they will be very happy together.

    Mishari, they left that post up much longer than you anticipated it would be and you have the cold comfort of knowing that several people recommended it. I can’t fathom P myself – she doesn’t seem a bad person although desperately naive in some ways. A mystery to me where she finds the time for the constant posting.

    Hic, that is interesting about BM – hadn’t noticed him ignoring you. How very dare he.

    Mad Men is one of the very few programmes my husband and I can watch together – me for Roger, he for Betty although Joanie is to my eyes by far the more stunning. Brilliant in every way.

    Anyway, goodnight all, may you sleep peacefully prostrate with little interruption from coughing and peeing and gout stricken limbs.

  140. hic8ubique permalink
    July 17, 2010 12:43 AM

    Parisa certainly means well. She doesn’t quite present herself as being always right, MM. To be fair, she will make allowances for others views.
    I think her most astonishing feature is a sort of obsessive/compulsive drive to run down and exhaust every last niggle. She just can’t let anything go by, like a starveling getting each grain of rice.
    File wrote a hilarious spoof of everyone’s idiosyncrasies. I wish I could get him to post it.

  141. InvisibleJack permalink
    July 17, 2010 1:16 AM

    Evening Mish and all,

    Mmmm, I wasn’t infiltrating anyplace. My photo has been up there on Poster Poems for quite some time, and at least two of my personas on Facebook make no secret that they are two personas emanating from the same body. Multiple bodies in literature is a common practice. Melton makes the most valid point, that he wouldn’t have known me as me anyway. And that’s actually the point really. All writers are anonymous in some way. As for Jack Brae being anonymous, it’s actually my name, on my mother’s side: Jack Brae Curtin (from Brosna, in Sliabh Luachra).

    Reine, I’m sorry if you think I don’t like you. I actually have no idea who you are. Were you Reine on Poster Poems? Or were you using another name? We’re all using funny names, and if my use of one is pointless, as Melton asserts, then what are we all up to then? What I’m up to is poetry. I’ve been up-front about that from the start. (And I’ve always tried to pay my fare here with poems, in fairness.)

    I took a break into minimalism recently because I was, quite frankly, getting a bit burnt-out from all the poems (I write quite a lot, having, as I do, to keep up with several different faces – being a literary hydra isn’t always easy). I was simply taking a rest. I wasn’t running off anywhere and I hope I’ll still be welcome here. As for being anonymous, actually, I’m less anonymous to you than most of you are to me. (Not only have I openly posted my recent experiment, but I invited you all onto my Facebook page some time ago, where my identities are quite transparent. Well, some of them, anyway.)

    Hope we won’t fall out.
    And Reine, whoever you are, I might have disagreed with you (and may well do again) but I certainly don’t dislike you.

    Jack Brae

  142. Zeph permalink
    July 17, 2010 1:55 AM

    I’ve assumed that Reine is reeinimus, but I have no idea if I’m right.

    I found out a while ago from Jack’s Facebook page what his other identity was (or one of them) but as Mowbray says, not being an expert on Irish poetry I was none the wiser. But surely he can call himself what he likes online? The Prince after all has a whole wardrobe full of personae and generally the poetry bloggers seem to enjoy appearing in various masks… Some of the disguises are very good, of course, the fact that Swords is actually Carol Ann Duffy (with a hired front man to give bad poetry readings) is known only to very few.

  143. Reine permalink
    July 17, 2010 2:02 AM

    Well Invisible Jack -if indeed this is you- I’m sorry if I appeared churlish. I did think you were a bit high handed/minded at times but perhaps my mind is merely too low! We don’t all have to like each other or, perhaps more appropriately the impression we get of each other, that’s a matter of choice. From what I read of the real you, you are certainly prolific and I’m not surprised you needed a rest.

    I post/ed as Reenimus – silly name conferred on me by someone else – but have come clean.

    My mother always said one should never write something without giving due consideration to consequence. I did, you caught me rotten and I’m sorry if I have caused offence. Look forward to reading some of your work. (backpedalling only slightly!) R

  144. InvisibleJack permalink
    July 17, 2010 2:50 AM

    Hi Reen,

    I had no idea that was you. I’m sorry if I have appeared high-minded towards you personally, it certainly wasn’t intentional. I will admit, however, that I have been high-handed with some when I felt a high hand was needed (and sometimes, indeed, I was proved very wrong in my assumptions and was always quick to apologise – except to Des, although he’s not too bad really, the poor old crathur).

    Jack Brae

  145. mishari permalink*
    July 17, 2010 2:58 AM

    You’re always welcome here, Jack. I found your article interesting and thoughtful and understand perfectly well what you were trying (are trying) to do. I have no idea where your Facebook page is, by the way: will you give us a link, ya bollocks ya?

  146. Reine permalink
    July 17, 2010 8:58 AM

    Thanks Jack. I quite like Des, my guilty secret, well one of them… R

  147. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 17, 2010 2:25 PM


    I see him seated in his leather chair,
    in Jermyn Street or Saville Row attire,
    the lamplight gleaming on his well-cut hair
    and Pedro dozing by the study fire.

    Of course he is a master of disguise,
    he has no trouble sloughing off the posh
    and spraying on the scent of sweat and fries
    humming on the bodies of the great unwashed.

    He moves among them as a superspy,
    in jeans and trainers and Adidas top,
    he shops at Lidl, takes the local bus

    and when he’s sucked the experience dry
    he calls the Roller to pick him up
    and carry him home to Mount Parnassus.

  148. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 17, 2010 2:27 PM

    Only joking.

  149. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 17, 2010 2:27 PM

    Or am I?

  150. Zeph permalink
    July 17, 2010 2:36 PM

    Yes, an interesting article, Jack, and you’re by no means alone – I can think of several established writers who blog or have blogged under another name, usually as a way of writing in a new area and being able to be a beginner without anyone noticing, but sometimes just in order to mingle freely with the assorted internet crew.

    Btw, re your remark that poems published online were ‘wasted’, one useful thing that came out of the leeeeengthy saga of the PP anthology was a firm statement that we retain copyright in our poems, so you should be able to publish yours elsewhere if you want to (unless poetry publishers are remarkably sniffy about work which has appeared elsewhere and will only accept the newly-minted?).

  151. hic8ubique permalink
    July 17, 2010 2:47 PM

    In the Holmesian tradition, MM, but I’m missing the Blake ref.

    You need some sort of user name and password, Mishari. It needn’t be anything more identifying than that, but it’s how you get onto the network.
    Then in the search box enter ‘Jack Brae Curtingstall’, and you’ll get his ‘Info’ page.
    Click the ‘Wall’ tab, and everything Jack posts is there.

  152. hic8ubique permalink
    July 17, 2010 2:56 PM

    Hi Zeph~
    re. sniffy:
    I think it was Carol on a recent PotW who said that is the case, may have been someone else, but still I suppose one might wish to self-publish. That may be a natural next extension of blog poetry.

  153. mishari permalink*
    July 17, 2010 3:12 PM

    My favourite ‘literary anonymity’ story is the one about Grim Grin entering a New Statesman Grim Grin competition and coming 3rd…

    hic, Blake/Songs of Experience, Sexton Blake/radio precursor of James Bond…

  154. Zeph permalink
    July 17, 2010 3:31 PM

    My favourite is the one about the Hollywood script hacks who sent in a film treatment which was Casablanca with the names changed, and had it turned down as lacking in audience appeal.

    Given that the income from a book of poems must be about £47.50, I’d have thought self-publishing was the way forward, but I expect it’s all about getting the stuff reviewed by the right critics etc etc.

  155. freep permalink
    July 17, 2010 3:39 PM

    Private Practice

    Sir Patient, your symptoms leave no room for doubt;
    Your pain, grief and anguish all tell me: it’s gout.
    The cause it is certain, you’ve certainly brought
    This doom on yourself with your surfeit of port.

    You didn’t expect it? My message severe?
    Come, relax on the sofa. Be thou of good cheer.
    Now, gout is a killer. It tortures the feet.
    But worse. There’s no cure. You must welcome defeat.

    This health thing, old boy – it’s been much over-rated.
    I’ve been here for years; I pretend that I hated
    Disease, pain and cripples,
    Bad diet, sore throats, mange and inverted nipples.

    But I don’t. I love them. They’re my meat and drink.
    There’s nothing that’s better than men on the brink
    Of pain and despair, their stertorous breath –
    I love them, those signals of imminent death.

    You agree? Good! Let’s open this bottle of Dow’s –
    ’92, a good vintage. And let us carouse
    With these skulls as our beakers;
    Let’s drink to the frailty of all human creatures.

    Old Father Shipman – he knew his profession.
    We all of us know why he made no confession.
    D’you recall the War Office? A good honest name.
    Let soldiers go killing without any shame.

    And then? They abandoned good taste and good sense;
    Pah! Mealy mouths called it the Ministry of Defence.
    Just so with us. ‘The Department of Health’.
    Fine name for securing the old doctors’ wealth!

    Tell you what; if you don’t think me over-precipitate,
    I’ll scribble out now this official certificate.
    ‘Gout; brought on after years of depression.’
    And just to make sure, I’ll administer an injection.

    Cheers then! A pleasure to be your physician!
    Let’s hasten your end and your decomposition.

  156. mishari permalink*
    July 17, 2010 4:01 PM

    Wonderful, freep. We clearly share a doctor….

    Zeph, I’m sure I remember reading about an enormously successful author sending in (anonymously) the manuscript of an already hugely popular published novel of his or her own and having it rejected by every single publisher. As scrptwriter William Goldman famously put it in Adventures In The Screen Trade: nobody knows anything.

    BTW, I’m reading a hugely entertaining Hollywood memoir called You’ll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again by Julia Phillips (who produced The Sting, Taxi Driver, Close Encounters etc). Highly recommended…

  157. hic8ubique permalink
    July 17, 2010 7:16 PM

    You don’t disappoint, freep. I was considering sharing your poem with my father who’s just recovered from a lengthy spell of gout in both feet, but now I hesitate. The reception could go either way…

    As for ‘wasted’, Zeph, I took that as part of Jack’s ‘subversive’ theme. That rather than truly waste his poems, he means to offer some of them as a sort of free currency, keeping them out of the realm of traditional formalised presentation, in the sense that sunsets are wasted, or sand-castles on a beach rather than marble sculpture in a hallway .
    The open context affects the way a reader apprehends the art, as I understand him?

    The surprising part, to me, is that artists have always the struggle for recognition of value in their work, and Jack seems to be turning that upside down in order to declare the value is there even without endorsement from any establishment. He being an insider, that must amount to something.
    I think he might really mean quite the opposite of ‘waste’.

  158. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 17, 2010 7:17 PM

    Ah, the skull cup. Frequently referenced on PH. Great stuff, freep.

    Sexton Blake was a near-contemporary of Holmes, hic. He had a dogg called Pedro.

    I had this from Richard Lea on the archive debacle:

    This turns out to be a “known problem”, which is reassuring. It is apparently possible for our technical team to fix individual urls one by one, in a time-consuming, manual fashion. They’ve fixed two. To fix it all currently would require three or four days of poor performance from the entire site – but I’m assurred that the problem will be fixed (hopefully without breaking the site) in mid-August.
    Let’s see if we can make that stick.
    Many apologies again.
    Thanks for hanging in with us.

  159. Zeph permalink
    July 17, 2010 8:45 PM

    Hic, yes, and ‘offering them as free currency’ is very much the original spirit of the internet, of course. Personally I’m all for anything that subverts the ossified and mercenary book publishing system. On the other hand I also believe in artists being able to eat, which they won’t if they give all their wares away for free in cyberspace….

    MM, thanks for doing something about the PP archive problem. If they get the pages back I’m downloading them though! Seems they could disappear again at any time.

  160. freep permalink
    July 17, 2010 11:23 PM

    Thanks chaps / chappes. A little doggerel goes a long way.

    Interesting stuff, following Jack’s reappearance, in his Rolls Royce. I agree with you, Zeph, about publishers… but I have always thought that as poetry is the least lucrative of all publishing enterprises, it is most likely to flourish in the free zone of the blogs – and how many poets are there who would really feel the financial pinch if their royalties vanished? I suspect quite a bright future for netverse. The free online novel, by contrast, is not going anywhere.

    I see artfarmer cropped up in the print Review pages of the Guardian today. Gets about, don’t he?

  161. InvisibleJack permalink
    July 17, 2010 11:39 PM

    Wonderful piece Freep. I’m feeling very mortal these days, with bits of teeth crumbling at the back of my mouth and a strange rhythmic morse emanating from my solar plexus, so I find laughter far more preferable to weeping. (Although weeping is actually easier to manage most of the time.)

    Hic and Zeph: I meant the term “waste” on several levels. Generally speaking, there is a snobbery amongst many poets (aspirant as well as published) with posting new work to blogs because once posted no journal will be interested in subsequent publication. Said poems are also disqualified from entry into subsequent poetry competitions, etc etc. And book publishers, in general, (even the small poetry presses), will look down at blogs as some form of mongrel. I object to this view and so my reaction was to put my money where my mouth is and to post new work to the blogs. As to offering those poems to a publisher, well, actually, that’ll be the next stage. I have every intention of seeing if a small press is interested in these poems. And why not? Incidentally, the manuscript is ready to go, and many of the blogs, including Zeph’s and File’s and this one, will be getting a mention as first publication. I’m a poet who believes in the legitimacy of the internet, but I’m also a poet who likes books that one can hold in one’s hand. I want people to hold mine. (It would also be nice if they actually read them, rather than beat me about the head with them.)

    The only way to prove that we believe in blog poetry is to post poetry to blogs, so that’s what I’m at. One other thing though. I’ve got a few poetry books out there, that’s no secret now, but the only people who have actually read any of them, who actually own any of them, are those who have bought them of me at poetry readings. That’s how most poetry books sell. Most poets actually sell the books directly in that way for the publisher. And the sales are small. It might takes years and years to sell just two hundred books. Sometimes you never sell them. I sell mine because I get off my arse and do the rounds. It’s no different, actually, than going on tour with a giant inflatable pig. Or going on tour with a rock band. Or driving from town to town with a van full of sausages. Or…

    Oh yeah, and if this book ever gets taken up, there’ll be a few free complimetary copies to all my original blog publishers. (Who, I hope, will not want to beat me over the head either.)

    Jack Brae

  162. mishari permalink*
    July 17, 2010 11:54 PM

    You fascinate me strangely, freep, with your wild and groovy hipster-type chat and voluminous bell-bottom trousers…in what context did the reprehensible artfarmer appear, tell?

  163. hic8ubique permalink
    July 18, 2010 12:14 AM

    Slender volumes.
    It’s similar for independent musicians; low-budget gigs are subsidised by CD sales.
    I expect most of us who enjoy poems also enjoy the aesthetic of the well-bound hand-held artefact.
    (That is my less salacious response to Jack’s proposition, Reine.)
    I could imagine saying to a potential publisher:
    Look, I’ve done all this promotional leg-work in advance on international blogs and people are asking where to get a print copy…

    artfarmer in what context? the quaint and historical print Review. Please cite for us virtual followers, freep, that we might roundly reprehend the culprit.

  164. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2010 12:32 AM

    Thanks to the ever-restrained and measured @atf, I learn that Jack is a member of ‘the Irish poetry Gestapo’. I hope to Christ I never said anything to offend him…hang on, there’s a knock at the door…I wonder who it can be at his hour?

    Argh…no!…help!…I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again….mercy!

    It will not be easy. For Obama and the Democrats are caught in an unusual dilemma. Despite the grand pronouncements about Obama’s many reforms they are in fact not as sweeping as they seem. The stimulus package – once touted as a “Second New Deal” – was in fact trimmed down on its passage into law. Many of its measures will take time to have an impact. As a result, unemployment is stubbornly high at 9%, above White House predictions. The only truly booming sector of the still sickly economy is, amazingly, Wall Street where banks are reaping huge profits and paying out big bonuses. -The Grauniad, today

    Yeah, wow…what a surprise. Check out Naomi Klein giving a 90 minute talk on her book, The Shock Doctrine. As I’ve said before, if governments are in hock to bond markets, then they really have little choice but to make cuts if they want to borrow money at ‘preferential’ rates. Therein lies the real problem, the one nobody really wants to talk about–why are governments in thrall to bond markets?

    The short answer is: the endemic, systemic rotteness of late stage capitalism. Rosa Luxemburg and others believed that at around this point, society will face a fork in the road: one way lies socialism, the other way lies barbarism. I know which I think is more likely, God help us…

  165. Reine permalink
    July 18, 2010 1:09 AM

    Not wishing to steal (fabulous poem) Freep’s revelatory thunder but it was in the “From the Books Blog”, Claire Armistead on travel writing…

    artfarmer: Thomson’s Bonjour Blanc is the best book on modern Haiti I’ve ever read etc. (Will let you quote in full Mishari if you are of a mind).

    I, myself, had a limerick published in the Irish “paper of record” this week! Soon to be found flogging stapled sheets of A4 round Merrion Park and Stephen’s Green for 10 cent a sheaf.

    A suitably demure response to the proposition Hic – with Jack, you’d never be quite sure whose you were holding, as ‘t were!

    I am coughing like a maniac now, it’s exhausting. And my visiting sister is forcing me to drink Carageen Moss preparations (seaweed boiled and strained, full of antioxidants, smells atrocious and of a very offputting viscous composition) which she swears by. Just putting it out there for anyone who may wish to give it a whirl.

    In spite of my clear indisposition, she dragged me off for a session of air rifle shooting and archery in the p.m. I would never have made a merry man it turns out but at least I can say I have made some men merry.

  166. Reine permalink
    July 18, 2010 1:12 AM

    Armitstead, begging your pardon – I omitted the first “t”

  167. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2010 1:13 AM

    Oh, OK…thanks, Reine. Did she quote the whole comment? Which is HERE, by the way…

  168. Reine permalink
    July 18, 2010 1:22 AM

    Here it is Mish, don’t know how much was lost in the ellipsis

    …I’ve ever read. He emphatically is not one of those travel writers who merely observe from the outside, returning to the air-conditioned comfort of a hotel once he feels he’s “absorbed” sufficient local colour. He dives in, in a way that JG Ballard (who wrote the introduction to my edition) called “superb and pulse-stopping” … I’ve yet to read The Dead Yard, but Thomson is a painstaking observer and a gifted writer, who talks at length to anyone and everyone. His patois is fluent, he’s hardy and he puts up with conditions that an armchair traveller bleating about an imagined lack of focus would probably die of.

  169. Reine permalink
    July 18, 2010 1:23 AM

    Only saw your link to the full comment now, still glad of the typing practice! Honoured to Moneypenny for you…

  170. hic8ubique permalink
    July 18, 2010 1:24 AM

    Yes, do give us the full monty,
    …demurely…so to speak.

    I’m off to walk the dogg and put my head in water…
    but Congrats!
    How about a reprise of your limerick
    from Limerick while we’re at it?

  171. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2010 2:03 AM

    Thanks for that, Reine. Your sister’s boiled seaweed concoctions sound absolutely vile. I suppose it’s the logic of ‘if it hurts (tastes foul; smells appalling etc), it must be doing you good’. Get yourself some Gee’s linctus and sup hot whisky with lemon and honey, instead…

    Second, hic. Let’s have the limerick…

  172. hic8ubique permalink
    July 18, 2010 3:29 AM

    The seaweed sounds positively vibrant, Re. That and Sambucol would be my bet, and hot lemon water with cognac at bedtime.
    What a thoughtful sister you have, apart from the whole shooting match.
    You Scotch drinkers, I don’t know. I never could enjoy kissing a man with breath like my father’s… just wrong. Bourbon similarly excluded, as I’ve discovered.
    Now Gee’s linctus sounds interesting except for the risk of hallucinating and feeling nauseated.

    sat a gee… strategy…

    ‘In short, when I’ve a smattering of elemental strategy
    You’ll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee…’

    about that limerick…?

    Jack boots, Mishari. Should’ve known.

  173. freep permalink
    July 18, 2010 8:41 AM

    was asleep.
    Print versions are made of selected comments made in the books blog (you were there a week or two ago, MM, and I have been, some while ago) in the paper Review, every saturday.
    Perhaps in a year or so the Saturday Guardian – With Twelve Sections Including a Witty Remarks Comic and Adverts for Special Beds and Oxfam, Price £1.90 – will be an obscure little antique paper publication, which once a year gets a mention on an all conquering blog – Feetbook or some such.
    How writers will be paid is clear, Jack. Capitalism is on the point of collapse, and money will disappear in November. Ye shall all have your shares of pignuts, blancmange and liquorice. Call by the second allotment shed on the left, the one which had to be newly creosoted after it was graffititied (?) by offensive rhyming words writ by destitute merchant bankers.

  174. Reine permalink
    July 18, 2010 9:26 AM

    Ah, the limerick thing is just some summer competition lark The Irish Times is running until mid-September (slow news months) – the criterion that the first line must include an Irish placename. The one they published was not the best of my submissions but I am determined to bombard in an effort to win the European citybreak prize!

    It ran thus:

    A young woman from Ballydehob
    Who obsessed about corn on the cob
    Was oft heard to mutter
    “It’s best served with butter
    But too much of it makes my heart throb”

    Here is one I hope they publish …

    There was a young man from Mooncoin
    Who was bent on the priesthood to join
    But while praising Our Lady
    Fell for young Maisie Brady
    And swapped love of the Lord for the loin

    “Gee’s linctus”, Mish, would cause Irish people of a certain immature disposition to roll in the aisles. Thank you and Hic for prescriptive advice – the whiskey is not working, onto the cognac and then a week in The Priory drying out!

  175. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2010 11:15 AM

    Reine, I had friend, a Dublin girl, who worked for Emirates as an air-hostess. She usually worked the London-Bombay route. As most of the passengers were Indian, Emirates provided clarified butter with all the meals. Maeve had a very hard time keeping a straight face when asking passengers if they’d ‘…care for some more ghee…’

    (for the baffled, ‘gee’ is Dublin slang for a ladies private parts)

  176. Reine permalink
    July 18, 2010 1:54 PM

    One pretty much cannot say “gee” anywhere in Ireland without occasioning smirks and sniggers. And then there are the poor fellas of the McGee clan whose oblivious parents christened them Ulick.

  177. hic8ubique permalink
    July 18, 2010 3:19 PM

    Prophetic freep.
    A friend visiting yesterday has been reading ‘Eaarth’. One of the climate changes it discusses has been strangely noticeable here. We used to have what I call English rain, the sort that gently carries on over a day (or days). Now we have ripping storms that cause flash floods in unprecedented places, while neighbouring areas remain bone dry.

    Prolific Re, keep us up to date with the project.
    I have a friend here who visits Ballydahob. He loves it, says there are no tourists.

    I wouldn’t have known the Irish ‘gee’, but it seems one pronounces it the same as ghee and McGee, which I would not have known either.

    I’m baffled and baffling in turns.
    But, now I see we are called to trip the light fantastic…

  178. July 20, 2010 11:31 PM

    Just back from Vitoria-Gasteiz. The promoter of the festival was a bit of a cunt ( we had a blazing row in French in front of the pig as he didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish ) but the splendid public made up for it.

    Our obligatory Pamplona bull-run tragedy joke made its annual appearance ( too many Basques in one exit ) and the sun was blisteringly hot. And on arriving home the DVD man has been. Thanks very much. Am up to my neck in touring, repairs, new projects and touring admin but these will be a welcome respite.

  179. mishari permalink*
    July 20, 2010 11:41 PM

    Welcome home, Ed. Glad you got the DVDs. I must say, I rather like your Pamplona joke, which I’ve not heard before…

  180. July 20, 2010 11:51 PM

    It’s a John Cooper Clarke joke as far as I know but we use it every time we go near.

  181. mishari permalink*
    July 21, 2010 12:03 AM

    You’re on the wrong thread, Ed. Get with the program…

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