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El Sid

July 18, 2010


With the 30th anniversary of the death of S.J. Perelman recently passed, it’s time to remind people why he remains one of my favourite comic writers:

There is nowhere that Sid Perelman would rather have had his centenary commemorated than in The Times. In that bizarre anachronistic anglophilia of his, he would have relished the fantasy of antique retainers ironing this paper in their butler’s pantries before hobbling up the Grinling Gibbons staircases to lay it beside the master’s kedgeree; or the thought of crumpled copies lying around the Athenaeum and the Reform, on cracked leather arms and Regency side-tables, one or two, perhaps, covering the faces of wizened bishops with curious names; or the vision of this sheet or that blowing through Burlington Arcade and fetching up against the premises of a swordstick factor, a cobbler of rustic brogues, an importer of hand-rolled Burmese stogies.

Throughout the 1970s, we used to meet for tea, Sid and I, at Brown’s Hotel, during his years of exile in a London that could never come up to his impossible Edwardian expectations, and eat cucumber sandwiches the size of Cape Triangulars. Neither of us liked them much, but ritual has nothing to do with personal fancies, or communion wafers would come with raisins in: Sid enjoyed sitting in a hermetically enclosed cell of Old Mayfair, watching frail dowagers from the shires fluttering to and fro. That he could watch the toing and the froing at the same time, at least apparently, had much to do with the fact that his eyes pointed different ways; one could never be quite certain just how much of his attention one was commanding. He wrote regularly about his appearance, hating the way he looked; he once murmured to me — everything was murmured; I used to walk beside him with a permanent list towards the moving mouth beneath — in Sulka’s, whither we had repaired (his words) to buy six pairs of dress socks: “I never get over the shock of being Rex Harrison inside and then catching sight of myself in one of these damned mirrors.”

We looked at him, then, in the glass, and I had the impression of a tiny military man, the martinet-in-chief of some courageous, smart, but very short regiment. He had clipped his moustache, and it turned up slightly at the ends; he wore thornproof tweeds and a checked shirt and a collegiately striped tie: a foot taller, and he could have been a retired Grenadier colonel, perhaps even an Uhlan — those fine mad words of his floated into my head, from one of his Cloudland Revisited extravaganzas in which he confessed that, for some time after seeing Erich von Stroheim in Foolish Wives, “I exhibited a maddening tendency to click my heels and murmur ‘Bitte?’ along with a twitch as though a monocle were screwed into my eye. The mannerism finally abated, but not until the dean of Brown University had taken me aside and confided that if I wanted to transfer to Heidelberg, the faculty would not stand in my way.”

That wild incongruity between the ego-ideal of the English country gentleman and the reality of the Brooklyn-born son of pogrom-fleeing immigrants was, of course, something of which Sid was constantly aware, and constantly on the qui vive to ridicule. We were once strolling down Constitution Hill, on an especially English spring morning, engaged in a slightly pretentious discussion anent, as I dimly remember, some claret he intended buying for no better reason than the pleasure he took in visiting St James’s wine-merchants, when, from the direction of Buckingham Palace behind us, came the clatter of the Household Cavalry in the process of changing themselves. Whereupon Sid clutched my arm, and, in a rare shout, cried: “Cossacks! Run for your life!”

It informed his miraculous prose, all this. Critics prepared to take the crazy risk of analysing humour have generally banged on about Perelman’s acid wit, his immaculate ear, his bottomless vocabulary, his visionary extravagance and so forth, and true enough it all is; but, for me, what sets him apart from the other comic masters (and mistress) of The New Yorker’s lost heyday is demotic shock: swept along by the extraordinary deft elegance of his line and rhythm, walking on the air of those precision-balanced periods packed with arcane literary reference, you suddenly fetch up at the corner where Henry James collides with Groucho Marx — when the dandy with the James Lock fedora, the John Lobb brogues, and the James Smith cane looks in the mirror and sees, aghast, the kid from Washington Heights.

I can remember not only discovering Perelman, but also the first paragraph of his I ever read; and also what it did to me. While better hacks than I may have pubescently pledged themselves to the lifelong nib after coming across The Waste Land or Finnegan’s Wake and falling into anaphylactic literary shock, my course was undeviatingly set when, in 1950, a New Yorker found its unlikely way into the school library, and I read: “I guess I’m just an old mad scientist at bottom. Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom smashers, and a beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not who writes the nation’s laws.”

And that was more or less that. For several months thereafter, I not only read all the Perelman I could lay hands on, but also imitated enough of it to fill a medium-sized incinerator. He wasn’t an easy man to find: suburban librarians had never heard of him; bookshops curtly sent me away to look up the name again and come back when I had it right; and newsagents carried only spasmodic issues of The New Yorker, many of which I forked out good dinner-money for, only to find they contained no Perelman whatever, being lined instead with leaden romans faux about growing up in either Maine or Alabama.

And then, in 1951, Crazy Like A Fox was published, in Penguin. It lies before me as I write: it cost something called two shillings, and I have to open it with great care, because it has been opened a thousand times before, and the yellowed pages drop, now, from the gumless spine, and form new conjunctions on the floor: fine for the rambling drivel of William Burroughs, maybe, but no fate for the impeccable precision of Sid.

A dozen years later, having read all his books, I shoved my own boat out, but it took a long time for me to chart a course that lay off Perelman’s trade routes; and I wasn’t alone, because there is a lot of Perelman in a lot of humorists — how could there not be? — and even if they succeed in finding their own voices, there is invariably a slight inflection in them whose provenance is unmistakable. And inescapable: in the autumn of 1979 — I tell this bit with awkwardness and much embarrassment, but I want to tell it for a particular commemorative reason, and there’s only one way of getting into it — The New York Times wrote a flattering review of a book of mine, which contained the unnerving phrase: “He is the natural heir to S. J. Perelman.”

The next day I received a cable from Sid. “I SEE SOME CAD HAS LET SLIP YOUR MOTHERS DARK SECRET STOP DONT THINK THIS ENTITLES YOU TO A LIEN ON MY ESTATE STOP MY LAWYERS ARE IN THE MAIL.” It may have been the last thing he wrote: a week later, he died. And the estate? Despite its spendthrift heirs, it remains intact. Solid gold, every word. -Alan Coren

Basically, that was a long-winded way of leading up to saying: it’s comic verse time again, campers…

  1. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2010 7:01 AM

    Some of the old lags might remember this one (written as @artpepper) from Poster Poems a couple of years ago:

    This dance has no name. It is a hungry dance.
    We dance it out to the tip of Monsieur’s sword,
    Reading the lordly language of the inscription,
    Which is like zithers and tambourines combined:

    – from Dance of the Macabre Mice by Wallace Stevens

    This Dance Has No Name

    When gliding down a staircase, I seem to float on air;
    Amazed, short-sighted people say, “My God, it’s Fred Astaire.”
    Alas, it’s not; poor Fred is dead but it’s the closest thing;
    The magic feet, the killing grace, except that I don’t sing.

    In white tie, tails and top hat, I look the perfect swell
    (It’s not my usual costume, but by God, I wear it well),
    And people cry, “Where’s Ginger? The perfect female foil?”
    But frankly, she was vulgar and why mix champagne with oil?

    I samba in the twilight, I foxtrot in the gloom,
    My soulful, doleful tango has been known to clear a room,
    My classic bossa nova caused a popular revolt,
    My bump and grind can stun the mind,
    My waltz made horses bolt.

    They cried out for my presence in Chile and Peru,
    Despondency had taken hold and nothing else would do,
    And so I packed my tap-shoes and hastened to their aid
    They welcomed me with joyous cries amidst a street parade.

    I cha-cha’d, hopped, merengued and frugged; I did the Lambeth Walk;
    I hully-gullied, jigged and jived; I limbo’d, mambo’d, stalked.
    I danced a gay mazurka, a pasa doble too;
    The economy recovered and the population grew.

    The troubled Hugo Chavez cried out in sore distress,
    “Send up the Pepper Signal for the folk demand no less;
    His Quadrille of Recovery, his Rumba of Reform,
    Are what we need if we’re to be a nation that’s re-born.”

    I landed in Caracas, to cries of wild acclaim;
    I waved and smiled, I shaped and styled and polka’d off the plane
    ” The saints preserve you, Pepper; God save your supple limbs.
    Without your swift and graceful moves, our future hopes are dim.”

    I shimmed, I shammed, I shuffled; I skanked and slip jigged, too;
    The skies that had been leaden grey, now turned a brilliant blue;
    The men grew tall and handsome, the women sleek and svelte
    And people cried, “I think we’ve died; it’s paradise we’ve smelt.”

    Now back in grim, grey London, I stepped a stately measure;
    Dignified and thoughtful, a thing of sober pleasure;
    A Dance for Economic Boom I’d learned in Gujerat;
    My wife said, “Watch your feet, you fool, you just trod on the cat.”

  2. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 18, 2010 8:48 AM

    The Word Wurlitzer

    With thrust, quip and parry, and the odd tortuous pun,
    His wordplay, a swordfish based on mispronunciation,
    Was never a jukebox packed with naff catchy caff tunes
    But an organ to liven up wet seaside afternoons

  3. stinkroom permalink
    July 18, 2010 10:13 AM

    Wrinlkled Nosies

    Comic verse is often cheesy,
    has this stink, that makes some queasy,
    wrinkled nose, “No not for me-sy,
    a proper, published poet.

    And if I rhyme, I do it subtle.
    I simply will not make-it-upple,
    nor crass cross-rhyme, or clumsy couple,
    for I’m a published poet.

    My best bon mots I’ll tastefully dribble,
    or plop into pairs, if folks do quibble
    if they want a banquet, I’ll serve a nibble,
    the art of the published poet.

    Yes I dole it out slow
    and thin
    and runny
    and refuse to ever
    make it funny.”

  4. Reine permalink
    July 18, 2010 10:51 AM

    Editorial Meeting

    We need a printed oracle
    Of national repute
    To treat of things historical
    “Would you pass me that cheroot?”

    I disagree completely
    We need a raunchy mag
    For guys who need a pick me up
    “I’m dying for a fag”

    And don’t forget the ladies
    We have needs too you know
    Not just recipes and patterns
    “Has anyone some blow?”

    “Jesus, lads, make up your minds
    We go to print on Monday
    Give me a title by lunch time
    or I’m closing down on Sunday”

    “History Today meets Playboy
    With a touch of Woman’s Own
    with recipes for cocaine cakes
    How about Mind Blown?”

  5. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2010 11:10 AM

    …and speaking of comedy, here’s an account of NRK (the Norwegian state broadcasting organisation) comedian Kristopher Schau’s activities at an ‘entertainment show’ in Kristiansand in 2003:

    ‘On Wednesday, Schau attached an outboard motor to a dead pig and used it as a boat. On Thursday, he set light to the pig, and inflated rats and hamsters with helium to make “organic balloons”, which ruptured above the audience. On Friday, he invited a young couple on stage, where they had full intercourse, while Schau unfurled a banner informing the audience that they were having sex to save the rain forest.’

    It’s the way he tells them…

  6. Reine permalink
    July 18, 2010 12:22 PM

    That brings to mind a film I saw last year set in Sweden –

    I thought it was hilarious.

  7. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 18, 2010 9:10 PM


    You’re really very nice-looking,
    you’re white and brown and pink,
    that skin of yours is so healthy
    you hardly ever stink.

    Oh, you have a few lines, it’s true,
    they just add to your charm,
    creased or wrinkled or otherwise
    you ornament my arm.

    You’re dextrous and you’re flexible,
    dressed with a golden band,
    a little bit dry to the touch,
    you’re a supreme left, sorry, right hand.

  8. Not Given permalink
    July 19, 2010 9:15 AM

    that’s immensely difficult to imagine – you drinking tea with cucumber sandwiches in the 1970s.. your demeanour quite a different sort of reality for those of us in the know..

  9. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2010 9:27 AM

    It was Alan Coren drinking tea and eating cucumber sandwiches in the 70’s (as the article makes clear). I spent the 70s in a narcotic-fueled delirium…

    • Not Given permalink
      July 19, 2010 9:29 AM

      as we know all too well..

  10. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2010 9:41 AM

    Do you actually have a point or is it just a slow day in Abu Dhabi?

    • Not Given permalink
      July 19, 2010 4:01 PM

      Wouldn’t know if it was a slow day in Abu Dhabi. No point to be made, either; just an observation based on things that have no place here. Carry on. You seem to be doing well these days. [Alright, Dubai then, according to your IP address. Never mind: conversations don’t get any duller than this-Ed.]

  11. July 19, 2010 9:46 AM

    off piste alert:

    mish, melton, alarming and others from the class of 2006-2008…

    “Yesterday I got some traffic via a Guardian Unlimited Blogicle that was posted on Feb 7, 2008. The Blogicle was on the subject of the Willesden Herald International Short Story competition and the kerfuffle which ensued when the competition’s chief judge, the famously hot-housed flower, Zadie Smith, announced: “We could not find the greatness we’d hoped for,” and, “It’s for this reason that we have decided not to give out the prize this year.” Fair enough and who gives a shit, more than two years later?

    “What caught my eye is the fact that the Guardian seems to have deleted the second half of the comment thread. I traced the incoming link, back to the original post and thread, with a sense of nostalgia, not least because one of the commenters, well-known to that vintage of the community of Guardian readers, Cynical Steve, has since (unbelievably) died. It was a lively thread, which also happened to offer insight into the psycho-mechanics of a Literary Prize, because one of Zadie’s key accomplices in the Willesden competition (who appeared in the thread under the virtuanym “Zozimus“) jumped in and started swinging. Which certainly had a salutary and demystifying effect. But the demystifying bits are now gone.”

    Anyway, I’ve made a pdf of the original thread (which I had cleverly preserved)… everyone (except Zadie’s rep) is in fine form; substantial entries from Cynical Steve…


  12. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2010 9:52 AM

    Actually, Steven, all of the old threads are cut off at the 50-comment point, something we were discussing on the last thread and something MM has been in communication with Richard Lea about.

    Very frustrating when you want to retrieve a remembered post. The usual Grauniad tech-geek fuck-up, I think, as opposed to malevolence…However, RL has promised to get it sorted…I could be wrong (re: the Smith debacle) but I suspect that’s what it is.

  13. July 19, 2010 9:54 AM

    Aha! That’s pretty convenient, then. Anyway: there’s the original artifact for you. Seems like 20-years back.

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:28 AM

    A Zummerzet Romance

    Down in the water meadows, where the Frome flows long and lazy,
    That’s where erstwhile pigman Taylor met his young sweetheart, Daisy.
    Her eyes were dark and humid, her gait a lovely sway,
    And Edward’s untested yokel heart was simply blown away.
    His chest it swelled with love and lust, like the mangelwurzels grow,
    And he plighted his troth to her at the Agricultural Show.

    Shortly they stood at the altar, to have their union sealed
    (for fairly obvious reasons, it was set up in a field),
    Parson asks young Edward the question, and Edward cries ‘I do!’
    And then he puts the same to Daisy, and Daisy answers moo.

  15. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:31 AM

    Ah, Zadie Smith… I’ve often wondered what happened to her.

  16. July 19, 2010 10:49 AM

    It’ my goal to bring her back to the headlines and I think I’ve done so with this pdf.

  17. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 19, 2010 11:47 AM

    Some cracking stuff there.

    obooki was such a talent in those long-lost days. How did it all go wrong?

  18. July 19, 2010 1:30 PM

    It always struck me how many commenters on those threads were actually experts in the relevant fields and often much more knowledgeable than the above-the-liners (even when said ABLs were “celebrities”); the best example I can think of being the Jane Holland holocaust. Publishing a compilation of Poster Pomes is one thing but I can imagine a fairly gravid book’s-worth of Poster Essays material accumulated in all those threads, over all those years. These aren’t just the vapid hat-room time-killers you’d find on a Cat Blog: there’s real quality up in that attic… thousands of Intellectual (Wo)man Hours. Wasted…

  19. July 19, 2010 1:34 PM

    “hat room”? What’s wrong with my keyboard? Time for the tri-annual battery change…

  20. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2010 2:32 PM

    Reading your relic of the Golden Age, Steven, I’m reminded (not that any reminding was required) of all the gas-bags who come onto threads and fora, loudly asserting their ‘commitment’ to debate and discussion, only to turn ugly and petulant when the love-in they expected doesn’t materialise. Poor lambs…I don’t think they’re cut out for the rough and tumble of free-speech…

  21. July 19, 2010 3:51 PM

    “I don’t think they’re cut out for the rough and tumble of free-speech…”

    Well, they’re afraid, you know, that a pedophile will shout “fire” in a crowded nursery… or something…

    I have a strictly no-delete policy on my threads… a policy that was put to the test when one pesky poster kept lobbing Liza Frigging Minelli vids at me. My finger did hover over that button. In the end, I insulted her so relentlessly that she finally fucked off. Vids still there, sadly.

  22. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 19, 2010 5:11 PM

    I believe Prince Mishari is a friend of Ms Minnelli’s… or was it her mother?

  23. July 19, 2010 5:16 PM

    (tip toes off)

  24. Reine permalink
    July 19, 2010 5:42 PM

    Liza, Liza
    I didn’t recognise ya
    You’re wider in the thighs, yeah
    Than when I saw you last

    Liza, Liza
    Is your husband in disguise ah
    or are they really his own eyes, yeah?
    They’ve seen better days

    Liza, Liza
    Wrapped in garlands of lies, Ma
    just thinks of you and cries, ah
    She was a lovely girl

    But I said you’re sitting pretty
    In the new Sex and the City
    Singing Beyonce’s ditty
    Hope you find someone to put a ring on it.

  25. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2010 7:16 PM

    Liza fucking Minelli vids? Bizarre…all I have to contend with is nit-wits posting anonymously from the Gulf, hinting that they ‘knew’ me 35 years ago as if that gave them some sort of ‘insight’. I think I prefer Liza Minelli vids (although not by much…)

  26. July 19, 2010 7:46 PM

    Wait… isn’t Liza in Dubai on a ski trip…? (It’s my half-brother who’s in Abu Dhabi; srsly)

  27. obooki permalink
    July 19, 2010 8:00 PM

    Are you sure there wasn’t another thread about that Willesden Herald thing – I remember it being more involved than that? – There was something about a mug being sold for £190.

    I admit I remain very suspicious of the whole affair: – the fact that the “prize” wasn’t awarded in the precise year it jumped from “just a mug” to “£5000”. – I notice, looking on their site now, the prize has dropped to £300 and there’s now an entry-fee of £3 (previously free). – I think the whole thing was a scam concocted by Zadie Smith because she’d run out of ideas.

  28. Reine permalink
    July 19, 2010 8:16 PM

    I hate to break it to ye that Zadie Smith’s real name is really Sadie Zmith and the whole writing books and judging competitions lark was just a ruse for an experiment she was carrying out.

    My name is really Reine, I have never been to Abu Dhabi and I like M&M(s). I like to bite the hard shell off him, sorry them…

  29. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2010 8:19 PM

    I remember another thread, McCrum I think, on the subject of La Smeet, that turned into a bit of a bloodbath. She ran out of ideas? That would suggest she’d had any to begin with.

    I’m no authority, having found White Teeth compulsively put-downable, but is anyone seriously suggesting that La Smeet would have got the attention she did if she’d been less physically prepossessing? I doubt we would have heard much about her if she’d looked like Mowbray’s old paramour, Anne Widdicombe…

  30. July 19, 2010 8:23 PM

    Yes, I think you’re right… that mug-riff rings a bell… it could be I saved the thread as it was *near* the end but forgot to come back to top it up… maybe a few entries are missing. I’ll have to count the comments (erm, as soon as I get to it). They should number 111.

    I’ve always believed Zadie’s “shame on you, Oscar and Steven!”, in that subsequent McCrum thread, was revenge for the Willesden party. We were called “small and pathetic men” by Zadiephiles… or was that the AM Homes thread? Or, no, the Jonathan Safran-Foers thread… ?

  31. freep permalink
    July 19, 2010 8:37 PM

    Mrs Freep is just trying to begin ‘On Beauty’. As you may know, I never read anything published after 1628, but out of curiosity I peeped into it. And put it down quickly. There was no product placement evident in it, which might have helped. No pictures, either.

  32. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2010 9:28 PM

    Could be worse, freep. Mrs. freep could be a Facebook user:

    How Using Facebook Could Raise Your Risk of CancerDaily Mail headline

  33. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 19, 2010 9:35 PM

    Steady on, old chap. Widdy’s unusual beauty may not be to your MOR taste, but to the discerning man she is a goddess. Mrs M and Ms M have both read White Teeth, but neither of them can remember anything about it. I read the first three pages.

    Nice work there, Reine. Liza singing Knowles could replace the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

  34. freep permalink
    July 19, 2010 9:41 PM

    But reading Zadie Psmith may cause prostate problems. Or exacerbate them. But this is putting off the comick poem. Must get down to it.
    Liked your Coren on Perelman piece, mish, wonderful image of the tiny fellow wandering round St James. I imagine him squatting on a board in one of those high-class barbers in Jermyn St, soaking up the atmosphere for elegant and surreal regurgitation.

  35. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2010 9:53 PM

    I’m going to transcribe one of Perelman’s wonderful Cloudland Revisited pieces and post it here, just so those unfamiliar with him can see what I rave about.

    I think I might go with Vintage Swine, his Eric Von Stroheim piece, one of my favourites. I wish I could just copy and paste the damn thing from the web…curse these copyright laws.

    I take your point, MM: Widdy is for the sophisticated palate, like triple creme St. André or well-hung game.

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:50 PM


    When I think about my life
    I’m usually lying in bed
    and what I see is a knife
    hanging over my head.

    Some time that knife will drop
    and tumble through the night
    I suppose my head will cop
    its sharp stiletto bite.

    That would be a sad event
    if we’re talking flesh and blood,
    and one that I’d lament.
    Thank God it’s made of wood.

  37. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:53 PM

    I was thinking more of Arctic Roll, considered to be haute cuisine in the Gloucestershire of the 1960s. You know, like Vienetta is now.

  38. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:57 PM

    Or Viennetta, perhaps, before the Queen of Spelling drops by.

  39. Reine permalink
    July 19, 2010 11:21 PM

    Thanks MM; She’d certainly give the four horsemen a run for their money.

    Will you be skipping the light fandango in spirit with Ms W come September?

  40. Reine permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:00 AM

    In the Soup

    The restaurant critic
    Was very specific
    He didn’t want cream in his soup
    But the chef said, “Dear man
    This soup comes from a can,
    I don’t serve up any old gloop”

    “A can, you are joking!”
    said the critic near-choking
    What of fresh herbs and stock, even ghee?”
    “Well it’s up to yourself
    What you keep on your shelf
    But a few tins of Baxters does me”

    “I don’t think ghee has a place
    In a good bouillabaisse
    Which, though fishy, should smell of the sea
    And a good Cullen Skink
    Defrosts in a blink
    While the kettle is boiling for tea”

    “What the fuck is this place?”
    Asked the Telegraph ace
    Confounded beyond all compare
    “It’s a soup kitchen man,
    Like it says on the van,
    Above the Michelin logo down there”

  41. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:03 AM

    Sadly W and I don’t speak any more. When she insisted on checking all the waiters’ papers (again!) before dining at the local Indian restaurant I made my irritation clear. A man can only stand a limited number of cold entrees. In retrospect I shouldn’t have criticised her decision to go blonde, though I don’t think it justified that assault with the lemon squeezer. Dr Clegg says my nose will never be the same again. Anyway, I am in a new relationship. I can’t say too much, but when I shriek ‘Rejoice!’ in a slavering, blood-curdling voice I think you’ll know what I mean.

  42. hic8ubique permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:10 AM

    Mowbray, I believe you missed me. If I’m to be Queen of anything, I’d like it to be something better than spelling…

    Tonight I’ll shuck forty raw oysters
    in redress of all trouble and strife.
    It calls for a powerful torque in the wrist
    and a curvy but stout little knife.

    I take a death-grip with my left hand
    prise open the tops with my right
    and slip its tip under each belly
    whilst keeping the liquor upright.

    The Hunter-Gatherer will home in
    to this ritual, lemon in hand,
    though he’d like me to squeeze the juice for him
    and keep up supply with demand.

    He’ll take cold ale straight from the bottle
    a mantle of calm will descend
    as he slurps every one and reflects when he’s done
    it was wise not to share with a friend.

    But I meant to be speaking of iPhone4s
    (which don’t really cost all that much
    if you buckle and sign on the Hancock line
    to relinquish your first-born and such)

    and the problem of wrapping antennae
    which preclude a firm oyster-shuck grip
    and demand to be held as to sip from a shell
    opposed lightly atop fingertips.

    Alternatively there’s the mudra
    of holding an egg in the air
    turned away you are poised for flamenco,
    inward turned puts the phone to your ear…

    … brings me back to the long-suffering spouse
    who does Not want to look like a queen,
    so he’s buffered his phone with a silicon foam
    satisfied now he’s fit to be seen.

    Now, Apple is not a bad apple,
    but they took a good word and they ruined it.
    I’ll never forgive them their marketing spivs for
    despoiling the sense of ‘intuitive’.

    It’s too boring to say that it’s logical:
    a well-planned-out phone that makes sense
    so the technically stupid can learn how to use it.
    With bells on you’ve had my two pence,

    But now it’s come time to shuck oysters
    and I’m hunting about for that knife
    I shall take them in hand and keep up with demand
    because dammit, I’m that sort of wife.

  43. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:24 AM

    A very regal poem, Your Majesty.

  44. mishari permalink*
    July 20, 2010 12:51 AM

    Everything’s a joke to you people. Can’t you ever be serious?

  45. hic8ubique permalink
    July 20, 2010 3:51 AM

    I’m earnestly hoping, Vicar, in death-grip seriousness, that having found your cutting heart able to pardon the Pretender, that I too will somewise evoke forgiveness for my TINY prostration joke. My sophisticated palate finds your proffered obeisance distastefully sardonic.
    Who, you?
    [Pray, Mantis, may I spell somehting awry.]

  46. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 20, 2010 7:38 AM

    So does the iPhone offer an oyster-shucking simulator application, or am I being obese?

  47. freep permalink
    July 20, 2010 9:09 AM

    I see, hic, a worrying tendency to rhyme wife with knife (as does MM) and strife. But the pome made me laugh (nervously). It seems irresistible for some to equate restaurants, eating and mealtimes with unexpected violence, above.

  48. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 20, 2010 11:57 AM

    Book etc arrived today. Thanks! Also Parks’ book, which I’ve glanced at. Ouch. In his Blackpool childhood his GP was a Dr Piggott. Ring any bells, HLM?

  49. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 20, 2010 1:05 PM

    No real bells, MM, but a very vague recollection that my sister went to school with a doctor’s daughter called Piggott. Probably since struck off for tax evasion.

  50. mishari permalink*
    July 20, 2010 1:38 PM

    Remember the old joke, current around the time of Lester Piggot’s imprisonment?

    Who weighs 250 lbs and rode a Derby winner?

    Lester Piggot’s cell-mate.

  51. hic8ubique permalink
    July 20, 2010 2:14 PM

    It’s true freep, the violence was precipitous. The oysters expected me to rhyme:
    a pleasant walk
    a pleasant talk
    but it always ends badly for them.
    Don’t be nervous for Mowbray’s sake; he was using a stunt knife for his poem. It was made of wood.

    ‘Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,
    Tod und Verzweiflung flammet um mich her!’

    ~Die Königin der Nacht

    The shucking simulator app, HLM, is a convenient alternative to hard labour, and you won’t become obese however so much you employ it.

  52. hic8ubique permalink
    July 20, 2010 2:45 PM

    Ed. please quick before Mowbray sees it!
    that should be ‘Königin’.

  53. hic8ubique permalink
    July 20, 2010 3:23 PM

    I’ll have nearly 3 hours all to my lone at the Gardner this aft.

  54. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 20, 2010 7:08 PM

    Thanks for highlighting that grammatical flaw, hic. I did consider trying to sort it out, but in the fine tradition of English craftsmanship: cba.

    Hellishly hot here on the coast, shirtless caulkheads fighting like dogs in the streets, birds falling out of the sky, dogs fighting oh done that one. God knows what it’s like in the Wen. Good luck to you chaps! Freezing in Northumberland, I suppose. Looks like I may be bound in that direction again since Abroad has been covered this year. Any good suggestions?

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 20, 2010 11:56 PM

    Small World

    As a top TV producer, my role
    is to find the stories which show the soul
    of a people, culture, or a nation
    with taste and tact and without sensation.
    And so it was that I flew to Kuwait,
    where nearly everyone is overweight,
    intending to make some classy TV,
    titled pro tem The World’s Fattest Country.

    No problem at all in sourcing the fat,
    and for several days we did just that,
    filming the flab in restaurant and mall,
    barely shifting the cameras at all.
    and then one day as we sat in McD’s
    a fatty appeared and flopped down with a wheeze.

    ‘So, I hear that extremes is what you do,’
    says he, ‘I’ve got something to interest you.’
    ‘Fuck off,’ says I, ‘I’m a docu maker,
    not some kind of Virgin TV faker.’
    But we’d got enough stuff to make the show,
    so I thought we’d give the fat lad a go,
    he took his payment in the form of scoff,
    50 burgers later and we were off.

    We seemed to drive for a very long way,
    and it was near the closing of the day
    when the motor stopped and fatso jumped out.
    He scouted around and gave me a shout,
    ‘There it is! There it is! Am I a liar?’
    I got out of the car, my arse on fire,
    to find him indicating a hillock.
    ‘So what am I looking at, you pillock?’
    says I, ‘It’s just a titchy stone and crap.’
    He drew himself up. An impressive chap.
    ‘In classical Arabic, its name
    is the Universe’s Smallest Mountain,’
    says he. Well, I wasn’t sure what to think,
    but then I noticed the scent of camel-stink,
    and some local blokes sniggering away,
    which seemed a little odd. ‘OK,’ I says,
    ‘what do these chaps call this miniature rock?’
    ‘Them? Oh, they call it Prince Mishari’s cock.’

    So we took a few shots while it was light,
    and headed back to the city that night.
    We’ll use the pictures if they’re not too rough,
    and, of course, if we can enlarge them enough.
    Anyway, if you’re fancying a sneer,
    the programme’s on Channel Five next year.

  56. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 20, 2010 11:59 PM

    Well, I’m avoiding Rothbury.

  57. mishari permalink*
    July 21, 2010 12:04 AM

    What’s a ‘Rothbury’?

  58. July 21, 2010 8:54 AM

    Aren’t Rothbury cigarettes that definitely kill you.

  59. freep permalink
    July 21, 2010 10:02 AM

    Rothbury was surrounded because of a moat. Sorry.

    MM, the best thing about Northumberland is the North Sea, except that it occasionally contains the decaying remnants of a drowned Geordie. But I have mentioned the Cement Menagerie at Branxton on here before; it does not appear in any tourist guides, but an article from a few years ago in the Telegraph is Googleable. It is the essential destination for those interested in life-size primitive cement models of pandas, giraffes, camels, Winston Churchill and Robert Burns. A mile from the Scots border and Flodden Field, where the Earl of Surrey did the usual brutish English business.
    If you intend to be in the area , let me know when and so forth.

  60. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 21, 2010 12:28 PM

    I thought of mentioning the Moat Memorial Tour, but on further consideration I think it would be tasteless. So far I have Prudhoe Castle (which I missed last time), Brinkburn Priory (shut) and Bamburgh (not EH, but I suppose I can afford it). I’m tempted to revisit Lindisfarne, which I went to in homage to Polanski in the 70s (won’t be thinking about him if I go again). I went to Warkworth back then as well, though I gather the place is now overrun by savage doggs and ululating poets. We’ll probably go to Brodsworth (lovely place) and the other Yorkshire stuff while at the ma-in-law’s. Freep, I wouldn’t dream of inflicting myself upon you. I’ve made a note of the cement menagerie.

    Weirdly, I’m quite looking forward to getting off the high dose of this stuff. The euphoria’s ok, but the feelings of energy and enthusiasm are playing havoc with my ingrained patterns of idleness and melancholy. I think my teeth are suffering too. As a keen consumer of dexedrine and sulphate in my youth I remember hours of teeth-gritting and grimacing. This isn’t dissimilar.

  61. mishari permalink*
    July 21, 2010 1:47 PM

    Energy and enthusiasm are all very well in the young and in those incapable or unwilling to properly appreciate the human condition.

    In a civilised man of mature years, they’re unseemly. Idleness and melancholy (with an occasional bout of mania or psychosis) are the only appropriate response to this Vale of Tears…

    BTW, MM, ever come across this lot (circa 1970)? On my turntable a lot back then:

  62. July 21, 2010 3:49 PM

    MM I don’t know whether you are a sea-side fan but the Northumbrian /north of Newcastle coast is extremely pleasant but also without too much of the commercialism that ruins places. I liked Alnmouth when we visited as a break from work in Alnwick ( which I don’t much like ).

    There were a lot of benches which had extremely touching dedications on them. I realise that’s not much of an incentive to visit a place but sponsoring a bench that overlooks a beautiful piece of coast-line in tribute to a friend seems the very height of civilised behaviour to me.

  63. hic8ubique permalink
    July 21, 2010 5:08 PM

    It’s a controversial though popular practice around here, ET. I can see the touching aspect as you describe, but taken to extremes it has angered the defenders of open access to the waterfront. One bench on a headland can be charming, but when many people are commemorated in this way, sometimes with bold personal engraving, the seascape begins to take on a funerary atmosphere. Who and how many get a dedication at the most coveted beauty spots?

    One bizarre example that comes to mind is of an overwrought woman writing to the local paper that her departed father’s bench had been neglected by the City and become shamefully overgrown. Someone had even chipped a corner off by skateboarding on it! She was deeply wounded and wrote of her grief being compounded by this outrage.
    It can be something of a planning problem when people are permitted to take ‘ownership’ of public spaces.

    There’s an open boulevard along Gloucester harbour where several memorials are placed, including the famous Fisherman at the Wheel. Now there’s a row when some ‘new’ war wants to be commemorated there. (The WWII vets didn’t want to be pushed off to second tier real estate.) Every season an infestation of American flags goes up along the railing, for about a mile every 2 metres there’s another flapping obstruction of the water view. Anyone who objects is angrily denounced by righteous jingos, as you can imagine. Vandalism to the rash of flags has provoked highest dudgeon, and they just put up more. (no, it wasn’t me)
    …this in addition to the gigantic American flag dominating the centrepoint.
    All by way of explaining why, though I don’t object to a well-placed bench, I prefer they remain undedicated on public property.
    I suppose my idea of highest civilisation is donating conservation land and naming it after something other than yourself.

  64. July 21, 2010 5:27 PM

    hic these benches aren’t nationalistic and to be honest I can’t get worked up about a few benches ( that’s all we are talking about ) that are put there so that others can sit and enjoy what, presumably the dedicatee enjoyed when they were alive.

    If benches cluttered up the place,were of a size that obscured the view and if the plaques were enormous with ostentatious design then I would take issue but it seems a rather generous thing to do.

  65. July 21, 2010 5:32 PM

    Plus (!!!!) isn’t dedicating something to someone else vastly different to naming something after yourself????

  66. hic8ubique permalink
    July 21, 2010 7:03 PM

    Oh Al, I am sorry.
    I wish I’d said welcome back and regrets that you were working hard in the heat with unscrupulous people.
    So, all that.
    Of course, you are right; it is relatively nobler to dedicate a fine structure to someone else than to ones self, and I didn’t mean to impugn the charm of your particularly admired benches. I realise they weren’t nationalistic, but they
    c o u l d be if some commission isn’t approving them in accordance with a plan in the public interest.
    eg: On my daily walking route, I see enormous black block lettering of a man’s name in a spot that has been and will be enjoyed by many others equally entitled to it. I’m just saying the practice can get out of hand in various ways, and people resort to exclamatory agita because it’s sensitive once a pet faction, cause, or relation is involved.

    I only take exception to your ‘height of civilisation’ idea.
    For me, an example of a true ‘height’ at this point in history would be to donate a piece of coastline for public access/wildlife conservation leaving it unimproved in perpetuity.
    But I’m sorry to have been brusque in expanding on your premise, and I wonder how your parents are faring…

  67. freep permalink
    July 21, 2010 7:35 PM

    The Waist Band (extract)

    I. The Delivery of the Bread

    August is the ugliest month, bringing
    Bagels out of the bread van, mixing
    Aubergine and burger, furring
    Arteries and dull brains.
    Waitrose fed us well, currying
    Eggs in banana sauce*, feeding
    The querulous twins with french fries.
    Sainsburys surprised us, cutting prices on Peroni,
    With two for one on port; we shopped at Morrisons
    And went on to Tesco’s, into the Brotgarten,
    And wolfed muffins, and ate for some hours
    (I wished we could have let those poor Russians have some).
    And since we’ve had children, summers at Center Parcs,
    With dawn to dusk grazing, we grow out of our pants
    And balloon frighteningly. I say, Molly,
    Molly, we’ve all got too tight (And burst we did).
    Over at Asda, there’s ready meals for free.
    I eat, most of the night, and abuse every sphincter.

    (*Pliny, Hist. Nat xiv)

  68. hic8ubique permalink
    July 21, 2010 8:49 PM

    freep~ The Waist Band rewards reading in parallel, well, in tandem was all I could arrange…
    The footnote is a special touch good for several bursts of hilarity here. May I be the first to crown you with a braided coffee ring?

  69. Zeph permalink
    July 21, 2010 9:44 PM

    Very fine, freep!

  70. Zeph permalink
    July 21, 2010 9:45 PM

    And the Cement Menagerie looks delightful. Like those mad topiary gardens where people obviously started and just couldn’t stop.

  71. freep permalink
    July 21, 2010 10:02 PM

    A braided coffee ring is most useful, hic, thanks. Is that the sort of ring that disfigures highly polished drawing room tables? I enjoyed parodying Eliot, that vile old stinker with the memorable lines.
    My favourite benches are along Princes Street in Edinburgh; the little brass plates taken together make up a sort of mad novel of remembrance and commemoration. East Lothian Boy Scouts, Fourth Regiment the Coldstream Guards, Bridie Macleod Who Loved This View, Professor N.Q. Gompert etc etc. Benches with plaques are good; they don’t last for ever, and even if some of them are inappropriate – I’ve seen a few – they’re preferable to some horrid statues.
    But I have a weakness for generals on horseback – I can put up with a large person in uniform on a bronze horse anywhere. After all, we have to put up with plenty of vile shopfronts. We need more benches and equestrian statues (rocking horses are fine), and fewer Tesco Expresses. I would have a man on a horse and a clutch of benches on every street corner. That would foster community spirit in Donald Cameroon’s Bigg Society.

  72. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 21, 2010 10:41 PM

    To His Uncoy Mistress

    If we were very short of time
    Your urge, Lady, would be sublime,
    But as our next few years are free
    Let me relax and watch TV.
    It’s not as though I’ve had my fill
    Of your luscious self, but The Bill
    Asks of its fans a loyalty
    Which must be hard for you to see,
    You send my heartbeat off the chart,
    But it excites a different part,
    And though I love your sex technique,
    The Bill is only once a week.
    And then there’s football later on,
    So that will be the evening gone,
    But there are many more to come,
    So sit and rest your gorgeous bum
    And watch the coppers of Sun Hill
    Demonstrate their forensic skill.
    No aspersion on your beauty,
    It’s not you, Lady, it’s TV.

  73. freep permalink
    July 21, 2010 10:41 PM

    a woman on a horse would be even better
    with a hat on and some uniform, even if scanty
    the horse should be modest
    especially the rocking horse

  74. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 21, 2010 10:58 PM

    I’ve never heard of Trapeze, I’m sorry to say. I was going to say that your access to the latest music in the US must have been infinitely better than WH Smiths in Cheltenham, but then I looked them up and saw they were English.

    I’ve visited that coast on several occasions, ET, notably when Mrs M was teaching at Peterlee late 70s, when we used to take the bus to the wind-scoured beach somewhere round Easington. Mrs M strolled T-shirted along the sands while I crouched among the dunes in my parka and scarf. This was July, of course.

    Any public benches placed on Ryde Esplanade, memorial or not, are reduced to matchwood within 2 days.

  75. Reine permalink
    July 21, 2010 11:46 PM

    Easy Rider

    His apparatus flew up and down
    And moved from side to side
    He filled a tent where e’er he went
    And sometimes played the clown

    He practised hard both night and day
    He tried out new positions
    And he carried on regardless
    of the climactic conditions

    He was known to sing a bawdy song
    As he got high with ease
    On his bum, he wore a sequinned thong
    The man who rode trapeze

  76. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 22, 2010 12:08 AM

    Dennis Hopper or Peter Fonda? Hopper in a thong is a shuddersome image. I suppose it might have been a distraction from his embarrassing hammery.

  77. Reine permalink
    July 22, 2010 12:14 AM

    It’d have to be Fonda. An altogether better bum if a curious line in eyewear.

  78. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2010 12:31 AM

    To quote one of the world’s most respected critics on the Fonda/Hopper debate:

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

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

    So Hopper it was.

  79. hic8ubique permalink
    July 22, 2010 12:54 AM

    Re! You always make me spill things.

    There’s Joan of Arc upon her steed
    rising patinated in the stirrup irons,
    but I subscribe to the first freepoland creed,
    favouring man-on-horse in my environs:

    A spirited horse, bronze, rearing up
    to signify a battle death,
    a dishy face, a wavy mane,
    a pace to knock me out of breath.

    A centaur better yet, I’d say,
    a primal creature so untamed
    that quailing jockeys crouch in dread
    their thoroughbreds in contrast lamed.

    To ride beyond all fear of fall
    would be the grace of such a prize
    where even death must lose its pall
    and time become a specious guise.

  80. Reine permalink
    July 22, 2010 1:33 AM

    Hic, I am gratified by the spillage. Your horse poem making me whinny with delight.

    Mishari – Fonda singled out for thong-wearing only. Personally, I would have given the role to Helen Mirren; anything to make Melton’s viewing experience more pleasant!

    I am currently fashioning a bench in the garage from some driftwood and intend to carve all your names into it over what remains of the summer…

  81. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2010 2:02 AM

    Don’t talk to me about sodding benches. About 2 years ago, I had a small plaque made to commemorate a friend, with a view to having it affixed to a bench in the grounds of Hawksmoor’s great church of St. Anne’s, Limehouse, where I like to stop for a smoke when I’m out on my bike and a spot I think my late friend would have liked.

    I made a contribution to church funds and was assured that as soon as a bench became available, my plaque would go up.

    Some months later, having seen no movement, I had a word with the churchwarden, who told me that I’d have to wait until the Parish Church Council decided to add another bench to the already existing quota.

    I offered to buy a bench myself and have it installed and got the kind of look reserved for people who suggest the font would make an ideal urinal. “We don’t do things that way” I was icily informed.

    Inez suggested it’s because they think in centuries and don’t grasp the concept of ‘soon’.

    My theory is that they’re waiting for some kind of divine intervention–a burning bush or God speaking to the Vicar out of a whirlwind. God save me from His followers…

    (I guess, to be fair to them, it should be said that they have a long waiting-list of bench-dedicatees)

  82. hic8ubique permalink
    July 22, 2010 5:01 AM

    Thanks Re, I’ve sloshed a bit more g&t in your approximate direction.
    Avoiding mention of [elongated sitting perches], to my mind, the memorial idea is perfectly suited to private or proprietary installations. Here on PH might be a fitting place to commemorate your friend, Mishari, just for the time being?

  83. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 22, 2010 8:36 AM

    In our platoon, when names are strewn
    On statuary or benches
    I’m Henry Moon (the ‘Lloyd’ balloons
    My statutory six inches)

  84. July 22, 2010 10:34 AM

    We are kept in the dark
    About what was going on in the head
    Of Joan of Arc.
    Back and forwards goes the blame
    Of why exactly
    She was put to the flame.

    Revered by the French
    She makes other’s teeth clench
    Especially when her name
    Is inscribed upon a bench.

    But Joan and bench haters if you would
    Reflect that her name will burn just as good
    As a bench is made out of wood.

  85. freep permalink
    July 22, 2010 10:58 AM

    Nice one, Ed. Reads like an extended clerihew.

  86. July 22, 2010 1:16 PM

    Thanks freep. I wish I could say that was my intention but alas it wasn’t.

  87. Reine permalink
    July 22, 2010 1:18 PM

    On the bench, there sat a wench
    Eating a Caesar salad
    When along there came a man in trench*
    Who began to sing a ballad

    I’ll sing for you my minstrel song
    Of a fellow called Ed Taylor
    A wandering theatric
    And occasionally a sailor

    Ed Taylor was a handsome lad
    Who had a massive pig
    He made his money from its teats
    So much, he danced a jig

    And said I must get me a settle
    On which to write her name
    Inflate her in perpetuity
    The pig who brought me fame

    And so it is that passersby
    Who stroll along this prom
    Can sit upon Matitza’s plaque
    “A pig of great aplomb”

    *When he flashed her, it is alleged his underpants bore the insignia SuperMM”

  88. hic8ubique permalink
    July 22, 2010 2:42 PM

    Occurs to me perhaps I should
    explain these benches are not wood:
    lintelled as was once Stonehenge
    concreted, graven to avenge
    the honoured one’s mortality
    in granite perpetuity.
    Here, rest on JOE’s sarcophagus
    while you await the tourist bus.

  89. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2010 3:32 PM

    The Life Cycle Of Benches

    The human frame is flesh and bone;
    The bench is made of seasoned wood;
    The flesh burns slowly to atone;
    The bench burns quickly, as it should.

  90. July 22, 2010 3:38 PM

    To leave this earth will be a bit of a wrench
    I will not be commemorated by a bench.
    I will not be carved in wood or stone
    I’ll only be missed by my own.
    But with no children to bear my name
    The memory of me will snuff out like a flame.
    My verse will be quietly put to rest
    By moderators at the Guardian who know best
    Than to let my attempts lose posthumous face
    By hanging round eternally in cyberspace.
    My other artistic efforts will be forgotten or lost
    But I’ll come back again as useful compost.

  91. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 22, 2010 3:55 PM

    On His Sexiness
    By Mr John Melton

    That thick white mane sets off my face so well,
    and the brutal cheekbones with which I’m blessed
    speak to the powerful muscles which swell
    beneath that dark blue Marks And Spencer vest.

    Those shapely but masculine legs encased
    in cream chinos by Giscard at Tesco,
    end in classic boat shoes, of course unlaced,
    allowing a half-inch of flesh to show.

    God, this faultless charmer in the mirror
    must be every ardent woman’s dream,
    and every complacent husband’s terror.

    How lovely this shimmering image seems,
    it’s the near-epitome of sex,
    for once I’m glad that I’ve mislaid my specs.

  92. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2010 4:14 PM

    I was thinking of savaging your poem, John…but who breaks a butterball upon a wheel? -Yours, Alex

  93. hic8ubique permalink
    July 22, 2010 4:58 PM

    I’d like to go up in a flash
    as Vikings have before me.
    A longboat sacrifices cash
    so lay my body in a dory

    then push it out with little splash
    ignite a flaming tress
    and speak a verse of Ogden Nash
    to ozymandiness.

  94. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 22, 2010 6:04 PM

    You insignificant Twickernham flea,
    Your feeble carping does not bother me,
    For in the restaurant of English Lit,
    The finest table is where I sit,
    And you, pathetic, whining, prating bore,
    Have the ad hoc seating by the toilet door.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      July 22, 2010 11:10 PM

      Twickenham, that is.

  95. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2010 6:21 PM

    Was it Wilde who wrote that: “There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.” A bit harsh, I thought. He got off some good lines…

    BTW, MM, ever come across The Replacements? This is from about 1981-2:

  96. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2010 8:23 PM

    Check out David Cameron telling the truth (one of the funniest vids I’ve seen in a long time):

  97. Reine permalink
    July 22, 2010 9:26 PM

    John, really??

  98. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 22, 2010 11:34 PM

    No, not John. Am I a Christian sales executive with a Jesus fish on his Vauxhall Corsa and his suit coat on a hanger on the doorpost who regularly expounds his views on capital punishment (in favour) to anyone unfortunate enough to meet him?

    That Cameron thing’s good. I don’t know the Replacements.
    This came from Songs To Remember, one of me and Mrs Ms favourite albums of that time. It’s the only track I can find off it.

  99. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2010 11:51 PM

    I liked Scritti Politti, too, although the only LP I really knew was Cupid & Psyche 85. I was still living in the US when it came out and Perfect Way got a lot of air-time on MTV …

  100. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:27 AM

    Songs To Remember actually lived up to its title. A lot of people I knew were very sniffy about it, and Green in particular. It was a bit fancy, I suppose, and all the Marxist stuff was a joke. I liked this, too:

  101. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:32 AM

    Rowland had a great voice, evocative.

  102. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:34 AM

    Kev asked a friend of mine who worked at NME to manage Dexys just before Too-Rye-Aye. He turned it down on job security grounds. Got sacked a few months later.

  103. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 12:40 AM

    I can never disassociate Dexy’s Midnight Runners from Come On Eileen, a song that I absolutely loathed…sorry, Reine.

  104. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:42 AM

    Yes, he was very good. Funny how quickly he disappeared-I mean, his talent didn’t seem to be of the disposable sort. I have a feeling that he might have pissed off some of the important band members, who then left, like Beefheart and the Magic Band.

  105. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:45 AM

    His voice was special Mish, though I understand why Come on Eileen might grate. I have fond memories of it from early disco experiences (although I fail to obliterate the memories of my very sad hairdos and outfits!) Reine was not always the glamorous creature she is today. Ha!

  106. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:49 AM

    Come On Eileen was a crime against humanity, agreed, as was Because Of You.

  107. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:52 AM

    My mother used to send me out looking like somebody heading for an interview for a PA position – all tan tea tights, home perms and flowing skirts. I blame Princess Di.

  108. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:52 AM

    Sorry, Reine, no disrespect to your fond memories intended, and I’m sure your glamour has never been less than perfect.

  109. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 1:12 AM

    Not wishing to disinter painful memories, Reine, but what are ‘tan tea tights’? tan/tea coloured, you mean?
    I know KR had a fine voice and DMRs did some things I liked, it was just that frigging song, partly, I suppose because of its ubiquity…

  110. hic8ubique permalink
    July 23, 2010 1:15 AM

    In those days, 1980 or so, I was awfully keen on this sort of thing, and ignored disco, which I loathed:

  111. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 1:24 AM

    Dear God…clearly just back from their recent tour of The Shire, Mordor and Rivendell. Who knew hobbit-rock was so loud?

  112. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 1:27 AM

    Yes, tan(slash)tea coloured, Mish. Desperate things. Come on Eileen was still being belted out well into 1984 – I only remember because I danced my first slow set to Careless Whisper and was still reeling from the frisson of it all when the place went mad because CoE came on. I can only surmise that its popularity in Ireland was due to a large cohort of Eileens.

    And I did feel so unsure when he took my hand and led me to the dancefloor! My outfit looked a bit like the guy’s on the extreme left of Hic’s video. Jesus wept.

  113. hic8ubique permalink
    July 23, 2010 1:29 AM

    Yes, elvish and runemal played a part in the late 70s, this genre was a bit later.
    I just had a listen to a few bars of Come on Eileen and feel so distressed I need to go out for air.

  114. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 1:43 AM

    Jesus, that’s not a skirt, Reine, it’s a wig-wam. If Geronimo had hid under that, the army never would have found him.

  115. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 2:18 AM

    I was a vestal virgin in those days Mish – if they couldn’t find Geronimo, they sure as hell weren’t going to find anything else. Method in my mother’s madness.

  116. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 7:50 AM

    I can’t believe what I’m hearing on the Today program: some vapid twerp from the Scottish Labour Party insisting that Kenny McCaskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, should appear before a US Senate committee to answer questions on the Megrahi affair.

    Set aside the sheer effrontery of a Labour prick taking the moral high-ground in this (after all, Labour connived at getting rid of Megrahi and they desperately wanted him gone: they knew that Megrahi’s appeal would have been successful which would have meant deeply embarrassing questions for the government).

    Since when are British ministers answerable to the US government for their decisions? Can you imagine if the British Parliament insisted that, say, Donald Rumsfeld or Condaleeza Rice appear before a House Committee to answer questions on how they launched an illegal war in Iraq? The screams of outrage from the US would be deafening.

    I cannot believe that they haven’t just told the US (diplomatically, of course) to ‘fuck right off’. Unbelievable.

  117. July 23, 2010 8:31 AM

    Who knew that they played hoovers in medieval times?

    Kevin Rowland was another who took too much cocaine and ended up in women’s clothing wasn’t he?

  118. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 9:32 AM

    I hope you’ve watched that Cameron clip, Ed. It’s a must-see…

  119. July 23, 2010 9:36 AM

    Unfortunately the speakers on my computer are up shit creek so all the vid-clips are soundless at the moment.

  120. July 23, 2010 9:39 AM

    Most of the adults I knew c1981-2 dressed like Dexy’s in the video to Come On, Eileen. Denim dungarees and lots of badges – ‘Nuclear power? No thanks,’ with a smiley sun face was very popular.

    Kevin Rowland had a breakdown and annihilated any chances his comeback album of pleasant cover versions had of selling a few copies by insisting on putting himself in a dress on the cover. Not that that can’t work – David Bowie and others have done it. But it was THIS PHOTO.

  121. July 23, 2010 9:42 AM

    Hmm. No photo. I tried an HTML experiement that didn’t work. Just do a google image search for Kevin Rowland – My Beauty, and you’ll see what I mean. [Link sorted. Incredible-Ed.]

    Package arrived, Mishari, many thanks. We’re almost through re-watching the Wire so will be in need of some new distractions.

  122. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 9:45 AM

    Hey, XB. Alright? You still at the same address, because I posted you a couple of things the other day so I hope so…by the way, your link was ’empty’, i.e. nothing between the angle-thingies…post the link and I’ll sort it.

    Get your speakers sorted, Ed. Have you no headphones? You really have to listen to that clip. You’ll love it…

  123. July 23, 2010 9:46 AM

    That Cameron film is fantastic. Chris Morris did the same thing with a Bush speech back in the day. Is he behind this one, too?

  124. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 9:49 AM

    I don’t know but his name isn’t mentioned and there’s no link to him. I think it’s just some youtube wag. It’s a cracker, though. Oh, and your link is sorted. Hard to believe that the LP didn’t sell with a photo like that…

  125. July 23, 2010 9:57 AM

    As noted above, I just received the package. Many thanks, as ever. Looking forward to Cocksucker Blues without the 10-minute YouTube segmentation and b&w grimy resolution. It’s in HD, right?

    I remember when posters of My Beauty started turning up across South East London. It was released on Creation, so Alan McGee allowed Rowland complete creative control. But he begged him to reconsider the cover. Full points to McGee for letting it go ahead. Kev also performed wearing the same dress at Glastonbury. My Beauty sold less than 500 copies. Which is better than Naomi Campbell’s Swan, which sold 100.

  126. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 23, 2010 10:17 AM

    There are no television series worthy of following The Wire.

    Are there?

    Loved the Our Leader clip. Still musing on how it took Chanel so long to get around to contacting Ian Beale…

  127. July 23, 2010 10:24 AM

    Headphones??? what is this Satanic trickery you’re trying to get me to do? You forget I’m from Somerset where plugs are considered to be portals to a parallel universe.

    Ye Gods I’ve not seen that photo of Kevin Rowlands before and I wish I hadn’t seen it now. I have seen the one of him in a white dress and white stockings with his foot up on a stage monitor which is enough to give even a paid-up member of the transvestite community unshiftable nightmares.

  128. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 10:37 AM

    Sorry, XB…our posts crossed. In HD? Hohoho…you wag. I’m astonished that McGee, who always struck me as something of a bully, actually allowed KR to release that cover. Christ on a bike….

    HLM, Breaking Bad is a worthy successor to The Wire. It’s very different in design and intent (I always thought that The Wire was more polemic/historical analysis/elegy for America than drama) but just as gripping, I find. If you like, I’ll send you the complete 3 series set, just say the word…

    Ed, you can just get 2 empty tins of Heinz Baked Beans (57 Varieties) and some string and fashion Zummerzet headphones…

  129. July 23, 2010 11:03 AM

    Re-watching the Wire is a humbling experience. I knew that the Baltimore insitiutions took the place of the Greek gods in David Simon’s cosmology but…it’s so blatant. From constant references to the ‘Gods’ right up to Clay Davis waving a copy of Aeschylus on the courthouse steps. And the Shakespearian parallels – Landsman’s epic tone, grunt cops moaning about ‘princelings’ and Marlovian over-reacher, uh, Marlo, and his obsession with getting the ‘crown’. The Barsksdale wars and Marlo’s rise mirror the Henry VI plays brilliantly.

    In Norfolk, headphones are a piglet stuck to each ear with beet-glue. We likes their pretty song.

  130. July 23, 2010 11:09 AM

    Heinz Baked Beans? Get thee behind me agent of Beelzebub.

    Just visited the latest PotW – the equivalent of trying to find a station on long-wave radio.

  131. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 23, 2010 11:18 AM

    Having just read the synopsis, I’d be thrilled, Mishari. The plot idea is one I’ve often thought about, though instead of providing for my family’s welfare, my lofty ideals would set me on a trail of seemingly random but carefully planned assassinations. The world would be a better place if we could drive the lizards back under their rocks.

    Sur ce, my address is

    But I guess you knew that.


  132. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 11:39 AM

    Hank, I need your postal address. I’m not sending you 15 GigaBytes as a bloody email attachment. Send it to me at:

    Incidentally, XB has written a very interesting review of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, which I don’t think I’ve even read, much less seen. Read it here:

  133. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 11:46 AM

    This is to get you into the mood, Hank:

  134. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:31 PM

    A quick look at the vinyl store in the loft disclosed Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson (Pompey lad, but I let it go), Tom Waits, Patti Smiff (Mrs M’s choice), John Martyn (ditto), Police (wtf?).

    hic’s Hobbit band reminded me that another great Viking group had their roots in the folk movement.

  135. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 12:42 PM

    Oh, please…ABBA?

    Have a quick look at POTW before @atf’s latest is deleted (as mine will be). I thought she was improving but evidently, it was the calm before the hurricane of insanity. Seriously, she is fucking deranged. And that creepy Phil Hall is back, reminding everyone of his moral and aesthetic superiority in his usual winning way. Christ, what a toxic wanker…

    And for a further example of the Guardian Media Group’s mind-melting hypocrisy, check out this link (that the 13th Duke of Wybourne put me onto):

  136. PatheticLittleSidekick permalink
    July 23, 2010 1:24 PM

    Looks a right shambles.

    I like Abba. Admittedly I first made the statement, in the long-ago, for its shock value, cue horrified progrockers shrinking away from the apostate in their midst. But I quickly came to appreciate their genius, that song marking the breakthrough for me. I’m not that keen on the Dancing Queen/Fernando aspect to their oeuvre, but the (lyrically) more sophisticated stuff like The Winner Takes It All and Knowing Me KY is pretty good.

    I remember my quiet satisfaction on hearing that Bjorn and Agnetha were splitting up. That rat-faced cadaver isn’t good enough for her, I thought, no wonder she’s dumped him. As it turned out, he dumped her. We live and learn.

  137. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 1:39 PM

    Speaking of ABBA, I’m going to pass along a book that I’m in the middle of that I think you’ll enjoy. Nul Points by Tim Moore, it’s a book about the 14 Eurovision contestants who got nul points and what’s become of them.

    It’s a highly entertaining read. One of the nul pointers was the protégé of Benny from ABBA. Moore’s other books are very enjoyable. Do you know any of them? I think my favourite is his Tour de France book, French Revolutions, which I think I have and will also shoot down if you fancy it…

    Goddamnit…I knew I should have copied and saved that spittle-flecked @atf rant. It was quite something and I don’t mean in a good way. More of a horrifying/compelling glimpse into the abyss…

  138. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 2:07 PM

    I can’t believe I missed that madness – a flurry of activity while I stepped away. “Deep breasts” and have a brown paper bag on standby Mish.

  139. July 23, 2010 2:22 PM

    rat-faced cadaver? I’ve always seen Bjorn as more the ground squirrel/gopher/prairie-dog type standing by his burrow and sounding the alarm everytime Sir Tim Rice hoves into view.

    Reine if you get a big enough brown paper bag you can put it over the whole computer and miss the entire spectacle.

  140. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 3:37 PM

    Amongst other things, Reine, the ever level-headed @atf accused Carol of running POTW exclusively for my benefit (ah, you must have noticed, sure) and urged Carol to move over to this blog, where she belonged and leave POTW week to, erm…well, @atf basically.

    There was a lot more. I wish to Christ I’d saved it because it was rare stuff, even for her. Accused us of being an ‘elite’ (you, me, MM…all of us plus Carol, of course) who had ruined POTW, which used to be a ‘democracy’ but now…well, it was was a fascist tyranny and….Carol was leading a ‘conspiracy’, against whom, I don’t recall but I expect against @atf….

    Jesus, it makes me tired even thinking about it. I think the spur was my mocking doggerel. @atf being a paranoid psychotic imagined it was aimed at her (in fact, gasbaguette is Parisa)…aaaanyway…

    Poor Carol. I swear, she has the patience of Job although it came close to snapping. Over the years, she’s put up with untold amounts of abuse from @atf…I mean really nasty stuff. Me, I would have shit-canned @atf ages ago but Carol’s too sweet and this is her repayment.

  141. Zeph permalink
    July 23, 2010 5:03 PM

    I don’t go near POTW, and that sort of thing is why. Can’t be doing with it.

    When I looked at my PP longlist again, there were a lot of good poems by atf, she can write really well at times.

  142. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 5:25 PM

    If only she’d stick to verse, zeph. I don’t suppose you saw her last blast against Carol et al (the mods being quick off the mark) but it was truly poisonous. Frankly, I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t get her banned.

    I very rarely comment on Poem of The Week anymore but I only responded because first Des made the usual snide remarks and then that creep Phil Hall (or ARS NOTORIA, notorious arse) chimed in. I hadn’t addressed either of them but I’m nobody’s punching bag and then….but you can sense Carol’s utter exasperation, poor thing.

    BW, take a look at that Cameron Vid up page a bit. It really is good. Trust me.

  143. hic8ubique permalink
    July 23, 2010 5:51 PM

    I’m sorry to be missing out, and wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m above a good fray,
    but (in between actual gainful employment) I’m helping to accommodate an influx of festival artists today.
    They are all terribly famous, so I’m sure you’ll recognise many of their names…

    Arriving any minute is ‘I need a van-load of supplies and a lift from the airport’.
    ‘You can keep all these lights in your garage’ has already left and won’t be joining us.

    Tonight we’re expecting :
    ‘Keep your dogs off me’,
    ‘I’m deathly allergic to cats’,
    ‘Will play for food’ and ‘We’ll need more beer than that’,
    and ‘Just set up a tent for me’, who makes up for ‘I’ll need extra towels and my own lavatory’.
    ‘Can’t climb stairs’ is with ‘I’m vegan what will you do about it?’ and ‘Oh, my boyfriend is coming too’.

    Fortunately we also have ‘The music is free, I get paid for the hassle’ who’ll be fun, as will ‘Helloooo!’ [with arms aloft].

    I’m looking forward to introducing ‘Must corner you and talk’ to ‘I need to phone every day and process every detail’ [envision fright-wig here].
    ‘I’m so upset! build us a dance floor’ is all set, but only half her dancers can come.

    Sadly, ‘I cost more than a Rolex’ is staying unremunerated in Colorado and had to be replaced by ‘I express God through my flute’.

    Why am I assisting these people? one might ask.
    Because ‘Was that the last oyster, Love?’ is producing the whole catastrophe (thus badly needs a massage)
    so I am as ever ‘Gracious and smiling what may I get for you?’

    I’ll need to escape for brief quiet respites, but for the most part, I’ll be missing one fray for the sake of another.
    Have a lovely weekend…

  144. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 6:10 PM

    You know ‘We’ll need more beer than that’? I know them well. Small world…have a minimally stressful weekend, kiddo…and tell ‘I’m vegan what will you do about it?’, “The grazing’s that-a-way…” and point to the lawn.

  145. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 23, 2010 7:25 PM

    What is it, Woodstock 2? Looking forward to the film.

    You could be right on Bjorn, ET. I couldn’t find the mot juste and went for rat-faced in lieu of anything better. Mrs M also found it off target. There’s got to be some rodent in there somewhere.

    I like the sound of Nul Points. Thanks. Looks like hic was right on the prostate, according to the Parks book. His Harley St urologist says to him,

    ‘You must climax every day, Mr Parks. If not with your wife,’ he coughed, ‘then alone… to avoid congestion in the prostatic ducts.’

    I don’t think I’ve got the energy. Or the imagination.

  146. hic8ubique permalink
    July 23, 2010 7:25 PM

    The lawn? I’m sure I can spare her some day-lilies and
    organic rosa rugosa, but we’ll see how ravenous she proves to be.
    Doubtless ‘We’ll need more beer than that’ has an international reputation, as does ‘The world is my ashtray’ who somehow slipped my mind.
    Thanks, Mishari, I’m highly skilled in finding the lee side of chaos, so I’ll be fine.

  147. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 7:46 PM

    I’m part of an elite now, am I? Wish I had known and I would have bought a new frock and had a blow dry.

    Is there anything lunar(tic) or planetary happening today that might account for her madness (and my husband’s)? It seems everyone is gone a bit mad and my eyes are red from the strain of it all… The baguette reference was as obvious as the nose on my face Mish.

    Poor Hic, sounds nightmarish. You are a good wife to be so stoic. It’s weekends like that that drive me to the surreptitious purchase of 20 Silk Cut and to drink wine by the neck. I suspect I may be having one…


  148. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 8:20 PM

    I would have thought so, Reine (baguette? Paris? Nudge-nudge?) but when you desperately seek offense, you’re bound to find it. I’ll make a nice, soothing music video for Carol. Maybe some Debussy or some Chopin or some Throbbing Gristle…yeah, a nice bit of industrial/art/noise/terror to go with that thread…

    Re: @atf’s derangement, ex @atf nunquam aliquid novi (I think that’s right). Long ago, Christmas 2007/8, Carol announced a poetry competition for the holiday. We were each to vote for a poem by a fellow poster.

    Mills won it with (I think) 3 votes. @atf promptly did her nut, accusing Billy, Carol and Sarah Crown of conspiring to rob her of this, ahem…non-glittering prize. It would have been comical had it not been so pitiful.

    The more the rest of us tried to reason with her, the more certain she became that we were all in on the plot. MM will remember this. That was when I first realised that @atf really was non compos mentis. She hasn’t got any better.

    This latest, by the way, was provoked by Carol addressing a remark to me. Now you know how infrequently I post on Poem of The Week. To read anything into a brief pleasantry from Carol to a long-time poster and turn it into The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion but even crazier is quite something…

  149. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 8:31 PM

    I find the whole (imagined) Paddy bashing perception very annoying. Thought we had matured as a people beyond that. To be correct, you would have had to refer to the gassodabreadmemotherusedtomakebegorrah!

  150. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 9:10 PM

    gasbaconanbutherronyerone’shomemadeloaffairplaybegob an’ de gas man, dat quair fella…

    What’s genuinely puzzling is that the only so-called Irish posters who see ‘bigotry’ everywhere are yer man Swords, who’s from Lancashire and is a blow-in, an’ yer one who lives in bleedin’ Derby, fer focks sake.

    All the other Irish posters–Jack, yourself, Bill, Sean Murray etc have never felt the need to detect anti-Irish sentiment under every remark. @atf once got the right hump when I used the word ‘shtick’, thinking I was making fun of a ‘culchie’ accent. It had to be gently explained to her that the word was Yiddish and meant ‘act, routine…’. Christ, it’s exhausting dealing with paranoiacs.

  151. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 23, 2010 9:45 PM

    Just scouring the web for Bjorn Ulvaeus-lookalike chipmunks and came across this:

    Well, that’s my excuse anyway. Mrs HLM is away for seven weeks and already I’m starting to get indigestion from the prosthetic ducks…

  152. mishari permalink*
    July 23, 2010 10:08 PM

    “Me and my best friend Rachel McDowell, who was in Mamma Mia! with me, have matching tattoos, which say ‘Minge’,” she said. “I’ve never really been a fan of tattoos, but I wanted to see what it felt like. Rachel has a lot of them. Anyway, Colin Firth used to say that word on the set and Rachel had to explain to me what it meant. So it’s on my foot. It’s to make me laugh, and every time I look at it, I do.”

    Your taste for sophisticated women is unswerving, I see…

    I’m sending a team of my most devoted minions (nihilists to a man) over on the Eurostar. I’ve instructed them to pop a bag over your head and tattoo the word ‘Johnson’ on your ankle. Every time you look at it, you’ll wonder who the hell ‘Johnson’ is. Eventually, you’ll laugh…eventually.

  153. freep permalink
    July 23, 2010 10:28 PM

    That was a useful (if impracticable) piece of medical advice, MM. I was only today being scanned to determine the size of my prostate enlargement, but the Northumberland quacks are obviously too English and coy to advise me to have a daily climax. As you say, the imagination is probably the piece of equipment that is least able to cope with such a suggestion. Especially since the objects which most excite me these days are larch trees and Dawn Redwoods. (the trees, not the little known exotic dancer)

    I missed most of the books blog excitement, but picked up that the old Irish victim card was being played. I had a very funny experience last year. A friend who was born and brought up in Wolverhampton, but had one Irish grandparent, (I have 2 myself) always cultivated a romantic attachment to the IRA, to the point where he unwisely toasted the killers of Mountbatten in a South London pub, and had to endure a little police questioning. Which ended when they decided a shouty supply teacher with a drink problem was not worth pursuing. For the next twenty years, he proclaimed himself a victim of the British police state, and on retirement, and coming into a little legacy, decided he would return to his true roots, and buy a place in Donegal. He had, I think, visited Ireland twice in his life previously. With precious little research, he bought a house in a village south of Letterkenny – which turned out to be the most Protestant township in the Republic. In fact, his house is opposite a hall where an Orange Lodge meets for musical whatever they do. When I asked him if he minded being in a village where a rosary had never been seen for generations, he blanked me completely.
    He doggedly goes to Mass across the border in Derry, and still gets off on his (rather good) impressions of Ian Paisley.
    Queer business.

    Your recollection of the poetry prize business, Mishari, seems pretty accurate. Which determined me at the time to always scroll on by, even if a rare week or so goes by when there seems to be rationality from that quarter.

  154. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 23, 2010 10:28 PM

    Strolling around the L.A. backwaters of Sierra Madre one Hallowe’en, we came across “another Englishman” who had moved there. It turned out I went to school with the guy. I guiltily remembered taking particular pleasure in ordering him about when I outranked him in the cadet corps. He explained he had to leave England because of his name, which he saw as a permanent handicap. Mrs HLM (who’s getting to be a regular here) didn’t know his name, so she asked.
    “Does that go down better here?”
    “Yes. Well, anyway, I changed it.”
    “What to?”
    “It’s my mother’s maiden name.”

  155. obooki permalink
    July 23, 2010 10:52 PM

    I think you’ll find it’s “nunquam”.

    I’ve long since blanked out atf’s posts. My eye passes them by without seeing them. Even if I happen to read one at random without noticing its provenance, a few sentences will have me looking back to see who the writer of such lunacy is.

    It’s strange how perceptions differ. I’ve long felt that POTW is not really worth reading because it had long since been hijacked by the lunatic fringe headed by the likes of atf. (Also, dissecting poems isn’t really my thing.)

  156. Reine permalink
    July 23, 2010 11:19 PM

    Póg mo Thóin (but not yet…)

    I sometimes whinge
    About my minge
    When it gets overgrown
    But a swift wax
    And I relax
    The whole thing overblown

    In Irish we say “gruaig thóin”
    But the beautician can’t compute
    So we have the craic
    As I lie back
    And let a painful moan

    A minge is not unlike a cut
    Swingeing after a fashion
    But we’re getting used to “haircuts”
    And Emergency-like, we ration

    Prioritise our grooming needs
    Though attend to them less often
    But, by Jesus, don’t let me go
    Hirsute into the coffin

    * gruaig (hair) tóin (arse) mo (my) póg (kiss)
    ** “póg mo thóin” is not a term of endearment

    Dedicated to absent friends.

  157. freep permalink
    July 23, 2010 11:57 PM

    You are a wonderfully scrupulous person, Reine.

  158. mishari permalink*
    July 24, 2010 12:09 AM

    Ah, I knew Obookie would set me straight. I just inserted the Spanish word.

    Reine, how do you pronounce those words? Is Poge MoHone correct or am I thinking of something else (The Pogues, probably)…

  159. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:15 AM

    Hair extensions would seem to be otiose.

  160. Reine permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:26 AM

    pogue (yes) muh hone/howne …. now, don’t you go provoking atf with that Mish – I already stand accused of favouring you on potw!

    Not sure in what sense you mean scrupulous Freep but I do try to keep my scruples and sunglasses to hand at all times.

    They would certainly be superflous MM. I have a thick, dark mane of mine own (on my head) not to have to resort to them.

  161. Reine permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:31 AM

    a “sufficiently” thick….

  162. Zeph permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:32 AM

    That’s where The Pogues’ name comes from, I believe?

    (btw yes, the Cameron vid is excellent, I love the headlines running along the bottom)

  163. mishari permalink*
    July 24, 2010 12:42 AM

    Re; hair extensions of that kind, wasn’t that called a ‘merkin’? I could be wrong…

  164. Reine permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:46 AM

    You’re not wrong but then amn’t I always affirming you; it was and is called a merkin. I have poeticised about that very thing in my baser moments. Itchy though.

  165. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:46 AM

    But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

    Always sounds a bit humdrum to me. ‘Head getting wet? Suffering from a chilly scalp? Try this practical new product: hair.’

  166. Reine permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:50 AM

    Let me issue a pre-emptive strike here … my baser moments (of which there are many)… qed…

    Regrettably, not my bod.

  167. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:52 AM

    I should hope not. That’s a bloke.

  168. Reine permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:53 AM

    In my defence, I have drunk a whole bottle of wine!

  169. Reine permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:57 AM

    I think this is me. Ha!

  170. July 24, 2010 10:55 AM

    I think atf’s problems with the police in the 70’s have obviously had a big effect ( my brother got beaten up by them too over that period and it affected him badly ).

    But the problem with loudly proclaiming victimhood at the drop of a hat is that it starts to put thoughts into other’s mind that they didn’t have to begin with.

    I had a friend who constantly complained that everyone was calling her a fat lesbian. to the degree that whenever you met her the words “fat lesbian, fat lesbian” echoed round your head whether you liked it or not.

    speaking as a member of the viciously-bullied-at-school community sadly the solution has to come from you and how you deal with things not from some edict issued on high.

    Unless it is not allowed to use Irish expressions I must say I’ve never noticed any “Paddy bashing” on these shores.

  171. Zeph permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:56 PM

    Just as when you walk along a street in the evening it seems that everyone’s lives are so bright and happy inside their lighted windows, you can fall into the habit of belief that everybody else is having an easier time than you… this may be encouraged on the net where people usually take quite a chirpy tone even if, like for instance cynicalsteve, they’re seriously ill in real life.

    I think atf may genuinely believe that other posters are all smug bastards leading privileged lives. Though if she’d read some of other people’s poems on PP properly, she’d know that that isn’t the case at all.

    But it does seem to be an insoluble problem that on public websites, the needy, the power-hungry and the just plain barking are always the most prolific and dedicated posters. There used to be a guy on the GU sports threads who was consumed with hatred of David Beckham and would seize any opportunity to post repeated and lengthy streams of invective about him. Is this a good use of a life? one has to ask.

  172. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 1:43 PM

    The only time I’ve noticed anything like it was after the Birmingham pub bombings in ’74. I was living on Kilburn High Road at the time and there was a certain amount of tension in the air, though I didn’t witness much beyond a few heated exchanges (though I think things were worse in Birmingham). It was obvious that the Irish community was as shocked as the English. Otherwise I don’t think I noticed any anti-Irishism in the several years I spent visiting the boozers of North London, mostly in the company of Irish people.

    Of course 99% of English people have some Irish connection anyway. My father’s parents didn’t like my mother, but it wasn’t because she was Irish. It was because she wasn’t ‘local’. In the same way, people don’t dislike travellers because they’re Irish, they don’t like them because they’re travellers. A few years ago a mob of Islanders burned a couple of coaches belonging to some travellers who had been parked in a layby near Shanklin for several months. They were all English.

  173. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 1:47 PM

    You’ve got me to a T, Zeph.

  174. Zeph permalink
    July 24, 2010 1:55 PM

    The first paragraph or the third, MM?

  175. mishari permalink*
    July 24, 2010 1:55 PM

    Even more latterly, some of Griffin’s views might have found a sympathetic ear (it was often said that after a screening of Schindler’s List, Princess Margaret turned to her companion with the stage- whispered critical verdict: “Oh those fucking Jews … always moaning.”)

    – Marina Hyde on Fatty Griffin’s dis-invitation from a Buckingham Palace garden party

    Ah, those zany, fun-loving Royals, Gawd bless ’em. Well worth every penny of the millions they get from the tax-payer, no?


    I wish to Christ Britain would grow up and give these ‘low octane duds in jodhpurs’ the elbow. I remember how shocked people were when the late Queen Mother was revealed to be a vicious racist and anti-semite.

    Why the fuck was anyone surprised? The gin-soaked old rat-bag simply adored that nice Herr Hitler and that charming Signor Mussolini and after all, it was well-known that Jews were trouble-makers, always getting in the way of peaceful pogroms and causing trouble by getting beaten to death. She detested Winston Churchill for wanting to ‘drag Britain’ into war with her cousins in Germany and used all the influence she had to try and prevent it.

    I’d like to see the whole unappetising gaggle of them, from Chuck on downwards, set to work mending roads or painting the Firth Bridge. The Queen’s obviously past being employable so we could just sell her to Fox News in the US. She could co-host a chat show with Sarah Palin:

    Have You Come Far? With Liz Windsor and Sarah Palin

    On today’s show Liz discusses the G-Spot…is it a myth? Meanwhile, Sarah whips up her recipe for moose rissoles.

    Today’s guests are Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and society surgeon Dr. Josef Mengele, who’ll be advising women on ‘Getting The Aryan Look’…we’ll be right back after these important messages:

    Say goodbye to the heartbreak of visible panty-line etc etc…

  176. July 24, 2010 1:56 PM

    1) I can’t get the words “fat lesbian, fat lesbian” to stop echoing ’round my head

    2) Tipped hat to Herr Mowbray for his contrib to that pathetic Shelley thread over at the GUblog. Speaking as an aficionado: Fucking concise. I’d like to hear John Gielgud read it to heighten the comic effect. Well, it does have some competition from this:

    “Somebody must know where the poem is. Perhaps the government should use its investigatory powers to find out where it is…”

    But Melton’s was *intentionally* hysterical.

    And, as ever, the po-faced thickshits simply ignore it.

  177. mishari permalink*
    July 24, 2010 2:05 PM

    I’m sending some fellas over to your house, Steven, to sniff out any manuscripts that you’ve inadvertently or intentionally failed to scan and post online. Do Not Resist! It Is Futile! The Webs Are Hungry! Feed Me, Feed Me…etc etc

  178. July 24, 2010 2:43 PM

    (Starts flushing the fan fic with trembling hands…)

  179. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 4:17 PM

    I’m calling for the appointment of a Shelley Tsar.

  180. Reine permalink
    July 24, 2010 4:19 PM

    There’s a Shelley von Strunckel does horoscopes over at the Sunday Times… would she do??

  181. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 5:07 PM

    This appointment is open to all applicants regardless of race, gender, disability or sexual orientation. But if you are currently a Murdoch employee, get lost.

  182. Zeph permalink
    July 24, 2010 6:41 PM

    smpugh has no understanding of the basic principles of copyright, somewhat alarming in a professional writer…

    oh dear, I’m turning into that ‘someone is wrong’ cartoon, or perhaps this rather nice variant:

  183. hic8ubique permalink
    July 24, 2010 8:38 PM

    Thanks for the laugh, Zeph.
    I’m cooling off on my quiet veranda, already having enraged the President of the Board of the festival venue, who actually asked me whether I ‘thought I owned the place'(!)
    But, I did save a giant mural-in-progress from pitching to the ground by securing its wretched plastic saw-horses with lead ballast from a boat shed, with the help of a by-standing Merchant Marine who turned out to be handy with line.

    It was my haste in obtaining line that set off Pres. Bollardman. This is clearly one of those organisations in which everyone tells you to ask someone else ( in this case, ask the mentally defective Director) instead of shifting his baboon arse and actually helping.
    He’d already watched as I rolled up a side of the tent to let the breeze in, while the ‘Director’ wittered about ‘someone finding a step-ladder’.

    Unbelievable. Performers can expire in the heat while a Committee goes into executive session to discuss whether to discuss the matter and when.
    No doubt this is why I’m self-employed; it makes me wild.

    Well! I’m already back to ‘stress-free’. Thanks for the rant-therapy space, Mishari. In fairness to the purple bollard, we hadn’t been introduced. I was just some lady in a hat swanning off with his ballast bullion.
    I suppose I can add to the cast of characters:
    ‘Aubergine propped-up being Important’

  184. July 24, 2010 11:36 PM

    MM With the introduction of the “Big Society” there’s nothing stopping you becoming the Shelley Tsar yourself. There’s no money in it so you’ll be in the same boat as the rest of us.

    Was it obooki several metres further upstream from here who pointed out the uncanny similarity between Cameron’s Big Society and Mao Tse-Tung’s social ideas? Armies of volunteers doing things for an imagined common good.

  185. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 11:39 PM

    Heat Wave

    The heat of the day has begun to wane,
    and leaves are stirring with the evening breeze
    the trumpet lilies spread their heavy scent
    across the lawn and through the poplar trees,
    and relieve the fever pressing on my brain.
    At this time, in this moment, I’m content.

    And now the neighbours light their barbecue,
    and now the reek of meat is in the air,
    Dad, these burgers are totally minging,
    Mum, Savannah won’t let me have my share,
    soon the adults have choked down quite a few
    and Dave begins the communal singing.

    And now I get up from the ground and go,
    and I push my way through the garden gate,
    Dad gets the barbie fork stuck in his gut,
    Dave’s eviscerated by a broken plate,
    Mum gets acquainted with the charcoal’s glow,
    and the kids go into the water-butt.

    I wash and dry my hands and take a chair
    and eat a bag of cheese and onion crisps,
    followed by a small box of fondant creams.
    I watch the smudgy smoke rising in wisps
    from Mum’s now permanently damaged hair.
    In the distance I hear a siren’s screams.

  186. Zeph permalink
    July 24, 2010 11:44 PM

    Excellent, MM. The fantasy of every right-thinking person when assailed by the stench of a neighbouring ‘BBQ’.

  187. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 11:51 PM

    Remind me to avoid disputes with Zeph LLB.

    In reality, Shelley’s too big a job for one Tsar, ET. The Cenci alone requires at least a Grand Duke, if not a Prince of the Blood. And think of all those incredibly long turgid poems and millions of lyrics. I think we’re looking at a SuperTsar here.

    I’m flattered that you think of me in connection with the job. But I’m afraid that my commitment to doing fuck all comes first.

  188. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 24, 2010 11:54 PM

    Crossed there, Zeph. Thanks. Can’t hang any washing out over the weekend any more without smelling like a McDonald’s when you put your clean clothes on.

  189. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2010 12:26 AM

    Mark my words, Ed: the bastards will have us out in the fields catching pigeons and flies. Our daily tally will dictate our food-ration, although large full-colour lithographs of Clameronegg will be distributed for free on a daily basis and prominently displayed in all hovels under penalty of re-education by Michael ‘Juicy Lips’ Gove…bliss it was to be dead in that dawn…

  190. Zeph permalink
    July 25, 2010 1:07 AM

    Once upon a time people were happy to just go and sit in the park, or maybe take a picnic, now they have to bring those instant barbecue tray thingies and scorch the grass, send clouds of smoke wafting across plus aforesaid McDonaldesque smells, rant rant grumble grumble grouch mumble moan….

    Still, I suppose the scorched bits will be easier to deal with when the Dear Leaders have us cutting the grass with nail-scissors while we sing along to the strains of ‘All Hail to the Brokeback Coalition.’

    David Davis eh? A man who knows an FT journalist when he sees one, if you ask me,

  191. Reine permalink
    July 25, 2010 1:31 AM

    Excellent M squared. We live beside an Indian family who have loads of people over every weekend. Bold and balti not a good combo although their chapati is to die for.

    Mish, my 17 year old son, pride and joy of his lowly mother, is sending the Cameron vid to all his homeys. LOL.

  192. Reine permalink
    July 25, 2010 1:33 AM

    Zeph, the cats vamoosed so I was spared the conscience-creaking of wrenching kits from cat. Hope they are happy wherever they are. R

  193. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2010 1:40 AM

    Shamefaced admission time: I love Bar-B-Q. Things cooked over charcoal taste wonderful–meat, chicken, vegetables. Mind you, I don’t inflict it on people in the park and all my neighbours seem as keen on it as I am, so…

    There’s a restaurant on Commercial Rd. called Lahore that cooks everything over proper charcoal fires (actually, there are 3 Lahores, all owned by the same family and all on Commercial Rd., one by Watney Mkt., one closer to the junction of New Rd. and one closer to Aldgate. Great places–excellent quality meat and chicken, very reasonable prices and Bring Your Own Booze. Hurrah!)

    You’re just an elitist, Zeph, with yer ‘sandwiches’ an’ yer knife and fork and yer toothpicks and yer soap…

    Glad your boy enjoyed it, Reine. I think it’s terrific myself. I was put on to it by the 13th Duke of Wynbourne, a fellow Grauniad refugee who posts over at The Untrusted, where I drop in sometimes. They’re not bad sorts…

  194. July 25, 2010 10:33 AM

    If there have to be factions here I’d line up on the side of the responsible B-B-Q user.

    We’ve been at quite a few French festivals where the organisers supply the means in a town square and the population barbecue whatever they’ve brought with them. Makes for a very pleasant atmosphere.

    Mind you I think the French talent for gadget one-upmanship comes into play in the camp-site which increasingly resemble housing estates rather than somewhere to stop over for a night or two.

  195. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2010 11:44 AM

    I remember someone, perhaps it was you, saying that they’d been woken up in their tent on one French campsite by the sound of hoovering…

  196. July 25, 2010 12:27 PM

    yes hoovering, the sound of cable TV spluttering into life and a torrid game of ping-pong taking place.

    I must confess as an enthusiast myself I applaud the ability to be able to pack a table-tennis table in with the camping stuff but find myself wondering what this kind of activity marks a break from.

  197. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2010 12:45 PM

    I do a fair bit of camping, Ed, in Spain mostly and usually for fishing. We invariably hire a mule because myself and 4 children (Inez rolls her eyes at the prospect of camping, the baggage) require all kinds of supplies.

    But it’s all stuff that you really have to have. Ping-pong tables (I’m a lifelong devotee myself), hoovers and TVs? You have to be fucking kidding…

    It’s rather like these ‘yachtsmen’ who pootle off in huge gin-palaces that are like going to sea in the London Hilton. I don’t get that at all…

  198. July 25, 2010 1:01 PM

    I used to know this woman who spent a lot of time working with juvenile offenders. She came to the conclusion that one of the best ways of curing their troubles might be to teach them to fish, where patience, solitude and particular knowledge of best times/best places to fish come into play.

    Of course, as she said, it could never be sanctioned because of what the press would stir up but it struck me as an interesting idea.

    She had success with young car theieves in S. London teaching them to be mechanics and getting them to do up cars rather than do them in.

  199. hic8ubique permalink
    July 25, 2010 5:13 PM

    I’m feeling someone ought to elucidate the difference between ‘Barbecue’ and ‘Grilling’. I’m not the best one to do it, because barbecue seems to be a particularly archetypal masculine art closely akin to turning a whole boar on a spit after the hunt.
    It happens slowly with enclosed wood-smoke and frequent basting of heavy sweet sauce, and ends in a sucking/tearing of meat off of large bones without aid of utensils. If a fork is employed it takes the form of a backhoe and is used for accompanying dishes. Exclamatory grunts are customary.
    [See anthropological monograph: Barbecue in the American South, attached.]
    ‘Grilling’ on the other hand, is quick and dirty over high heat with light marinade, and is the tastiest way to prepare fresh seafood. Before anyone accuses me of that scourge Elitism, I’ll just get it over with; I do like a knife and fork.

    But good poem, MM, though violent. I’ve contacted your neighbours, btw, on the ins and outs of enacting snob-zoning, so you won’t be allowed to leave your washing out all weekend, and they’ll be spared the sight of your family’s unmentionables and billowing neggledigees, which will now smell better. Everyone wins.

  200. July 25, 2010 5:24 PM

    Germans grill, gourmets barbecue. My Beloved bought an aluminum contraption and made me assemble it and stick it in the backyard and I kept saying, with an increasingly desperate (or was it “irritated”) tone, “But where’s the *lid*?” The German view of food as fuel eliminates the need for a lid, you see, while the grill itself satisfies the Teutonic need to see 90-centimeter flames. My Beloved is only half-German, btw.

  201. July 25, 2010 5:25 PM

    Not that I’m claiming that all grilling is primitive; just when the _______ do it.

  202. July 25, 2010 5:33 PM

    Which brings me to: living in Berlin, there’s a whole new meaning to “the n-word”…

  203. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 25, 2010 5:43 PM


  204. July 25, 2010 5:45 PM

    Steven not wishing to lapse into caricature but I’m just about to. Does this grill with 90 centimetre flames play something like Wagner when all this is happening?

    If so give us the name of the company who manufactures them.

    The farmer who we rent the bungalow off has totally decimated our garden ( why I have no idea. the hedge was due a trim, not cutting back to a few sticks much less than 90 cm above ground ) and I need something to scare him off.

  205. July 25, 2010 5:50 PM

    No Wagner, Ed, but the smell is… uh. No. Better not.

  206. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 25, 2010 5:52 PM

    I haven’t got anything against the barbie in itself (when I type barbie in Word it automatically corrects it to Barbie. That’s sweet), in fact I was a keen aficionado (kebab, since you ask) at one time. What put me off was a neighbour who barbecued literally every night throughout a long summer, even when it was raining. It coincided with the arrival of his wife’s sister, husband and two kids to stay for an extended period (they were having a house built for them nearby (which never materialised)). So eight of them sat out on the patio scoffing every night. Eventually I cracked and went round to complain. The chap was apologetic, but explained that it was the only time he could get away from his in-laws, whom he despised. I could only wish him well. They separated in the autumn and moved out.

    We’re the only people round here who hang washing out. Old technology, but it works. Sort of.

  207. hic8ubique permalink
    July 25, 2010 5:52 PM

    Doesn’t sound a proper Teutonic bonfire to me, Steven.
    Walpurgis Natt requires something visible from a great distance.

  208. July 25, 2010 5:54 PM


  209. July 25, 2010 5:58 PM


    It’s visible from a great distance when everyone is doing it at precisely the same hour wearing exactly the same costume

  210. hic8ubique permalink
    July 25, 2010 6:05 PM

    Götterdämmerung is what you want EdT.
    Just turn your speakers to face out the window

    A strategically positioned bit of pelt for summer, Steven?

  211. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 25, 2010 6:08 PM

    How did the festival go? No bad acid, I trust?

  212. July 25, 2010 6:10 PM

    More of a tailored thing with smartish epaulettes and piping

  213. hic8ubique permalink
    July 25, 2010 6:15 PM

    It’s still going. No bad acid. Great people performing. Horrid incompetent host venue generally. The same fool who asked whether I ‘thought I owned the place’ told our world-class batik Master, a guest who had travelled from south Carolina (and had engaged thirty people at a time on a group-project all day long) that he was sick of ‘her sort of people’! I had ignored him, but she calmly told him he was the rudest person she’d ever met.

    but before I begin to rant again…

    Must don my reindeer-skin salsa dress and ride off on my Fjord pony…

  214. July 25, 2010 6:18 PM


    At the Love Parade, are you…?

  215. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2010 6:36 PM

    That batik master sounds like a good egg, hic. I know this is going to sound like a completely imbecilic question but a ‘batik master’ is someone who’s mastered the crafting of batiks? Or is it something so impossibly recondite that I’ve yet to hear of it?

    I made a soothingly melancholy music vid for Carol by way of apology for any part, no matter how incidental, that I might have played in the POTW thread descending into bad craziness. However, I’m reluctant to post the link on the thread lest it kick off another round of swivel-eyed recriminations from the usual suspects. Maybe on Monday’s new thread:

  216. July 25, 2010 6:46 PM

    Gotterdammerung might not be enough on its own hic. Given their total inability at simple land management and their loss of control when given a gardening implement to do something with these young farmers needs something primal and visual to put fear in their souls.

    I may stand at the gate in an apron ( “is he man or woman? He’s messing with our minds” ) and feed some fruit into a blender ( ” he’s turning the bounty of nature into pulp with that infernal machine” ) accompanied by a CD of the Ray Conniff orchestra ( “what fresh hell is this?” ).

    It may not have the force of the Teutonic barbecue but I bet your blood has run a little cold on the thought of this image.

  217. July 25, 2010 7:38 PM

    ATF could feel victimised at a meeting of the Keep-Derby-Hip-Hop-Free and Psychological Poetry Analysis Society’s Irish-only chapter on International Whispering Day.

  218. Zeph permalink
    July 25, 2010 8:48 PM

    Nicely phrased, XB!

    Blimey, I just read through that POTW thread. What a waste of vowels and consonants. One of the more bizarre things was the spate of quoting from comments on this blog, as if more than a handful of people could possibly know or care what Politely Homicidal is anyway (no insult intended Mishari, but you know what I mean). But then, it’s all about a handful of people, isn’t it?

    Remind me not to go there again.

  219. July 25, 2010 9:20 PM

    Zeph and it’s not as if it’s a light the blue touchpaper and retire poem either.

    You might predict some heat from say, a Palestinian poem about how shit Israel is but the Mansfield one is, as someone sensible noted not that much different from “Tie a Yellow Ribbon round the old oak tree”

  220. Zeph permalink
    July 25, 2010 9:28 PM

    It is a dinky pome, I didn’t like it too much tbh.

    Actually K Mansfield was what is known as a difficult woman, gifted of course, but controlling and manipulative, and her relationship with DH Lawrence and Frieda would have fitted right in on the Books Blog. Lawrence ended up writing to her: “You are a horrible reptile and I hope you die.”

  221. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2010 9:46 PM

    Full marks to Lawrence for candour, but wow…

    I do know exactly what you mean Zeph, although not having been back to look since my last comment addressed to Phil Hall, I didn’t realise they’d taken to quoting PH. Jesus wept…poor Carol. What a cluster-fuck.

  222. Zeph permalink
    July 25, 2010 10:05 PM

    Well, I suppose as far as the Grandiau’s concerned, 370+ comments is a good job done, lots of nice clicks for the advertising department, quality of the content is irrelevant.

  223. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2010 10:28 PM

    It also explains the extraordinary influx of people over the last 2 days who got here through googling ‘politely homicidal’. I was wondering about that…

    The buggers probably expected a dark, satanic, rumour mill where sinister and arcane feuds end in a deluge of blood-letting.

    Poor fuckers…what a disappointment for them: just a bunch of people chatting, writing verse and linking to funny photos and music.

  224. July 25, 2010 10:44 PM

    if they analysed the comments they are all probably only from about 6 – 10 people.

  225. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2010 10:57 PM

    I remember freep doing just that some time ago. Of the 200 odd comments on POTW, over 50 were from Parisa; better than 1 in 4. She’s not a poster, she’s an industry…Phil Hole’s another one with a bad case of poster incontinence…

  226. Reine permalink
    July 25, 2010 10:58 PM

    Beautifully chosen piece of music Mish. Could have done with it round lunch time yesterday! Sleep well all before the onset of a new dawn, a new fray.

  227. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 25, 2010 11:55 PM

    What a lovely chap Lawrence was.

    I expect wn7 was behind it all.

  228. freep permalink
    July 26, 2010 8:18 AM

    I see that a royal charter to create a new private university has been rushed through by our esteemed Minister for Children, Qualifications, Coalmines and Famine: BPP, the little known outfit that runs accountancy exams, can now award its own degrees for as little as fourteen shillings and ninepence. BPP’s website has yet to announce the fact, so I expect they are as surprised as anyone.

    It was therefore good to learn that PolitelyHomicidal has now been granted degree-awarding powers, and I am grateful that the Chancellor, Ed’s Inflatable Pig, has appointed me as Professor of Grotesque Illocution, with a budget of 34m dirhams.
    The press statement by the Vice-Chancellor, Baron Mishari O’Shuttleworth of Heckmondwike is awaited eagerly. The world’s first private on-line, distance teaching university devoted entirely to the production of indifferent poetry, and focussed relentlessly on quality, will admit its first undergraduates today, and the first degrees will be awarded on Wednesday. The postgraduate car wash facility is already up and running, and there are two vacancies for operatives to wield chamois leathers.

  229. Reine permalink
    July 26, 2010 8:41 AM

    I would like to apply for the underpants monogramming course; I have my own thimble and my passport is up to date.

  230. July 26, 2010 9:00 AM

    Mishari I wouldn’t underestimate people’s abilities to read the most sinister intentions into the most ordinary of things. Remember Parallax View’sLoony Toon “analysis” of what really drives your love of Kipling or how the people on this blog are lazily condoning my white supremacist agenda.

    thanks for the heads up on the degrees freep. I’m afraid if it all goes the way I think it’s going to go it’s check out number 6 at the Rochdale Lidl store for me. I’m already mastering the speed in which I can pack groceries into a polythene bag in order to give me an advantage over the 16 year olds with whom I’ll be competing.

    Incidentally saw the saddest thing in Fareham en route to Spain 2 weeks ago. A 50 + year old Domino Pizza employee forced into wearing the company uniform of baseball cap, nylon shirt and trousers. Completely divested of any dignity he might have had and he looked as miserable as bloody sin as well as being at least 30 years older than his co-workers.

  231. freep permalink
    July 26, 2010 9:24 AM

    Sorry, Reine, the underpants course is already full. You might wish to consider the joint Honours course in 3D dogg tattooing and Taliban conversation.

  232. Reine permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:02 PM

    Bummer. No can do, am allergic to 3D doggs.

  233. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2010 12:24 PM

    Taliban Conversational English Course: Lesson 1

    Instructor: OK, class…let’s get started. I’m going to sing the verses of a popular song of The Great Satan. You will provide the correct response. Let’s start:

    I like to be in America!
    O.K. by me in America!
    Ev’rything free in America
    For a small fee in America!

    Instructor: OK, Mustafa: what is the correct response to this?

    Mustafa: Death To Amerika!!!

    Instructor: Excellent! That is correct. Let us continue:

    Automobile in America,
    Chromium steel in America,
    Wire-spoke wheel in America,
    Very big deal in America!

    : Ali, what is the appropriate response to this?

    Ali: The Great Satan Amerika Must Be Destroyed!!!

    Instructor: Good, Ali! That is correct.Now this:

    I like the shores of America!
    Comfort is yours in America!
    Knobs on the doors in America,
    Wall-to-wall floors in America!

    Instructor: Osama, what is the proper response to this?

    Osama: God, I love Stephen Sondheim. I mean, the lyrics are just fab! And the music! That Lenny Bernstein was a genius! I think…

    Instructor: Osama, see me after class.

  234. Zeph permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:50 PM

    Strangely convincing, Mishari… Osama in a cave in Bora Bora with A Little Night Music on the headphones….

    Is it me or is Carol Rumens a very clever woman? Try reading the final stanza of Two in the Campagna in isolation. It was the reference to a ‘thread’ that caught my eye – is it a comment on recent experiences? (I would have put this in a comment on POTW itself but I’ve taken a vow of abstention).

  235. Zeph permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:56 PM

    Here it is:


    Just when I seemed about to learn!

    Where is the thread now? Off again!

    The old trick! Only I discern –

    Infinite passion, and the pain

    Of finite hearts that yearn.

    …..Enough of this (exits to get a life).

  236. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2010 12:57 PM

    I hadn’t caught that, Zeph, although I think it’s a given that Carol’s a very clever woman…it’s highly unlikely, I think, that she would have missed that. I mean, she’s a poet: words are her business.

  237. freep permalink
    July 26, 2010 1:20 PM

    Zeph, Carol’s a very shrewd woman: look also at stanza 2:
    ………..(Like turns of thread the spiders throw
    Mocking across our path)

  238. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2010 1:48 PM

    A Tory MP who suggested some of his constituents held up their trousers with bits of string has apologised.

    Rory Stewart was quoted as saying: “Some areas around here are pretty primitive, people holding up their trousers with bits of twine…”.

    He does not dispute the quote in the Scottish Sun.

    He is challenging a Sunday Mirror headline which says he called his Penrith and the Border constituents “primitives”.

    A spokesman for the MP said he was highlighting the rural poverty in his area, not commenting on the individuals who live there.

    On Sunday he wrote on his blog: “I meant that there are areas in Cumbria where people lack things, taken for granted in cities, and that these areas need more investment and more public services.

    “It was never a judgement on people.” –, today

    I was under the impression that everyone outside London holds their trousers up with pieces of string. And why not? It’s hell trying to get the coal out of the bath when your trousers keep falling down…

  239. July 26, 2010 2:02 PM

    I’m working in Penrith on Sunday so will report on the string situation. When I was there last year it had all gone a bit chi-chi . Bungees holding the trousers up rather than string.

    The “lost” verse of the Browning poem ( which I think as a tutor Carol would have read ) is also rather apposite.

    As I hold you for days and nights

    will this wretched storm e’er abate?

    But! ’tis not a storm ’tis far worse fright!

    The sound that rattles tree and roof slate

    The unceasing sound of restless gobshites!

  240. freep permalink
    July 26, 2010 2:15 PM

    ‘String Theory Halts Pegswood Wedding’
    screams Northumberland Gazette headline.
    ‘ Geordie Teasdale (81) and his fiancee Ophelia (‘Cheesychips’) Dobson (16) have had to postpone their wedding feast (at Amble’s Harbour Fish Bar) because they believe the mass cancellations from male guests are the result of high string prices. Best man Titus Moat (17) says he can no longer afford to keep his trousers up, and the bride’s brother, Tweddle (Tortoise) Delaval (14), has not been able to leave his house for a week. ‘Them haytwists from Jocky Niblett’s farm jest falls apart in the rain,’ a red-faced Tweddle told our reporter from his bedroom window. ‘Boot ah’ve hord there’s plenty on it doon Lunnon. Folks say they’ve got shoes an socks doon theor, too, an watter an that there yoghurt. Ah blame that wazzock Gordon Cameron.’ A pokesman from the Department of Ligatures, Wire, and String says there is no cause for palnwick, as string stocks are at a record level, and available across the country, except for a small area (40,000 sq miles) north of St Albans.

  241. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2010 2:24 PM

    I was deeply moved by our Northumberland correspondent freep’s report on the string drought round his way.

    I’m going to start a charity:

    String For Oop North, Like.

    Courage, O ye of the flat caps, racing pigeons and giant leeks! London feels your pain; we shall not fail you!

  242. July 26, 2010 2:33 PM

    dear God you’re not going to bring out a charity single are you?

    freep palnwick did make me LOL.

  243. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2010 2:43 PM

    No need, Ed. I’ll get Huge Lorry to do it:

    Actor Hugh Laurie is swapping House for blues – after signing a record deal at the age of 51, it was announced today.

    British star Laurie will team up with a range of guest musicians for the New Orleans blues album which he will record this summer. -The Indy, today

    It’s what the world’s been waiting for. I can see Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton and Buddy Guy are going to have to look to their lauries…erm, I mean ‘laurels’.

    As one of the music industry’s certifiable [The word you want is ‘certified’, you idiot-Ed.] big shots, Politely Homicidal has been allowed a preview of this paradigm-shifting LP:

    I woke up this morning
    My fag put on my shoes
    I say, Lord: have mercy!
    Got them old Eton blues.

    Went down to the tuck-shop
    To buy a piece of cake
    I didn’t get into Pop
    How much can a poor chap take?

    My fag toasted a crumpet
    Why must he take so long?
    I blew into my trumpet;
    Played the Eton Boating Song.

    etc etc

    -from Old Etonian Blues by Hugh Laurie

  244. July 26, 2010 2:59 PM

    A shame the Laurie family wasn’t aboard the Titalnwick.

    Is that my coat?

  245. hic8ubique permalink
    July 26, 2010 3:13 PM

    I haven’t looked at the new PotW yet, and lost track of last weeks row, but if you haven’t posted your video, Mishari, I hope you will. I have great appreciation for Carol and feel sure she’ll enjoy it as well as your gesture.
    I’ve mailed you a link to my batik friend’s work, so have a look in your spam bin if it doesn’t show up.

    You’re in fine fettle, freep. Good to see you.

  246. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2010 3:32 PM

    I did post the video link for Carol, hic. Predictably, it’s already drawn the baleful eye of @atf and provoked the insipid ire of Phil Hall, who appears to have become even more nasty and embittered than he was when I booted him off this blog last year…

    I got your batik link, thanks. Some quite astonishing work…

  247. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 26, 2010 3:50 PM

    What is it, Swedish cricket?

  248. hic8ubique permalink
    July 26, 2010 4:08 PM

    Take that trip to Bali, MM. It’s better for the chest than going North.

    ‘Wax resist dyeing technique in fabric is an ancient art form.’

  249. MeltonMowbray permalink
    July 26, 2010 4:10 PM

    No, it isn’t. Well, I’m off to the North Island for a week or two. Laters.

  250. hic8ubique permalink
    July 26, 2010 4:16 PM

    That’s certitude. Safe journey,Vicar.
    I didn’t realise departure was so imminent.

    I see atf consistently says ‘artframer’. Her malapropisms do give me a laugh, and I like that one very well.

  251. freep permalink
    July 26, 2010 4:19 PM

    If yer coom oop ere, MM, yer can bring yer own bloody string.

  252. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2010 5:37 PM

    ‘artframer’ is good, hic…and nobody beats our prices…

    Avoid the string problem MM. Don’t wear trousers…

  253. hic8ubique permalink
    July 26, 2010 6:01 PM

    A batik sarong should be all he needs for modesty if the weather is fine.

    Before I’m told off for persecuting hiberno-malapropists, I’ll just add here that at first I myself took artfarmer to read: ‘antfarmer’.

  254. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2010 10:42 PM

    After a visit from David MilliVanilliBand, Gillian Duffy, well-known Labour kingmaker and bigot (allegedly), has decided that Boy Dave is the best choice for new Labour leader. She told the Mirror:

    “I felt David really listened to my points of view and shared my concerns on the issues that matter to working people. I’m looking forward to using my Unite trade union ballot to vote for David to be leader of the Labour party.”

    Oh, really? That’s what she said? I think they mean, that’s what Boy Dave’s press spokesbots said. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t really sound like a working-class pensioner from Rochdale speaking.

    I daresay freep or Ed will set me straight on the speech-patterns of working-class grannies in Rochdale…

    The Mirror’s on-line poll underneath the article is quite interesting. In answer to the question:

    “Who should be the next leader of the Labour party?”

    Mirror readers answered:

    David Miliband 42.0%
    Ed Miliband 20.0%
    Diane Abbott 18.0%
    Andy Burnham 12.0%
    Ed Balls 8.0%

    Speaking of Afghanistan, White House spokescluck Robert Gibbs said: “I will tell you that we have made progress in moving forward.” I suppose it beats making progress moving sideways. Perhaps someone should explain to him that ‘making progress’ means ‘moving forward’…

    I picked up another one of those beautiful Everyman’s editions that I wrote about recently. This time, it’s Patricia Highsmith’s first three Ripley books in a single volume (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground and Ripley’s Game).

    She actually wrote 2 more, but they were just pot-boilers, really. For anyone who’s not read the first three, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Wonderfully gripping suspense thrillers but so much more than that; the portrait of charming psychopath Tom Ripley is actually quite disturbing and Highsmith has a remarkable gift for creating this compelling, nighmare atmosphere.Terrific stuff.

  255. July 26, 2010 11:13 PM

    Patricia Highsmith is one of the most amoral writers I’ve ever read. There’s something extremely sinister about her thought patterns. I found a strange photo of her as a kid dressed in a cat outfit. She looks sinister at a young age as well.

    Not terribly keen on the film versions but that’s mainly because I like the books.

    Perhaps the Whitehouse follows that old dictum “Forwards in all directions”.

  256. mishari permalink*
    July 27, 2010 9:19 AM

    I’m not sure, Ed, but I think her ability to ‘mimic’ or get into the mind of ‘outsiders’, including sociopaths like Ripley, might have had something to do with being a lesbian in America in the 30s and 40s. Homosexuality was still a criminal offence back then and ‘criminals’ develop certain habits of thought, a certain paranoia and a certain contempt for the hypocrisy of conventional ‘morality’. Possibly.

  257. July 27, 2010 10:21 AM

    I think there’s truth in that Mishari. I knew someone who worked at the Ringling Brothers circus in the US in the 50’s. Along with the acts it had a whole retinue of homosexuals and outsiders who liked the non-judgemental ambience that the circus offered them. Whenever a crime was committed locally the circus would be the first place the police dropped in on.

  258. July 27, 2010 12:11 PM

    Was sad to read that Harry Beckett the Barbadian jazz trumpet-player died.

    As well as being a terrific and individual player, he played with Charlie Mingus, Stan Tracey and Dudu Pukwana. He was also my only real claim to credibility as he played on the soundtrack composed for one of our shows. A real honour. I have a CD of the out-takes where he really stretches out.

    He was the epitome of a real gentleman.

  259. hic8ubique permalink
    July 27, 2010 6:04 PM

    Here’s an interesting thing in the pipeline, EdT…

  260. July 27, 2010 7:08 PM

    is there nothing a tattoo can’t cure?

    I’m currently working on a pierced nipple cure for lumbago. Watch this space for further news.

  261. mishari permalink*
    July 27, 2010 8:19 PM

    When he hit European television screens in 1977, pogoing across music stages with a glint in his eye and a flower in his buttonhole, Plastic Bertrand gave no reason for anyone to doubt him when he yelled into the audience “Ça plane pour moi” (All’s cool with me). Thirty-three years later, however, the erstwhile hero of Brussels’ music scene could be forgiven for ruing his youthful chutzpah.

    If evidence given to a Belgian court this week is to be believed, the man recognised as the voice behind Euro-punk’s anthem had built his acclaim on shaky ground: he did not actually sing the song.

    According to a linguistician commissioned by a Belgian judge to examine the original recording of Ça Plane Pour Moi and compare it with a version released in 2006 by Bertrand’s former producer, the singer of the 1977 track spoke with a distinctive twang that would not have come naturally to the Brussels-born front-man. “With the endings of sentences on the tapes the voice can only belong to a Ch’ti or a Picard,” read the judgment, implying the true singer must have originated from north-eastern France, an area which produced both the Picard dialect and the affectionately mocked Ch’ti patois.

    It is also the area that produced Lou Deprijck, the track’s composer and producer, who believes he has been vindicated in his claim to be the true performer of the big-selling single. “My Ch’ti patois has proved me right. I am relieved,” he was quoted as saying in Le Parisien newspaper. “I hope I will finally get my rights.” Deprijck, who for the past decade has been pursuing his music career in Thailand, has insisted for years that he was the real singer on Ça Plane Pour Moi, the hit that made it to No. 8 in the UK single’s charts despite being performed in largely unintelligible French.

    “It has been set up because Ça Plane Pour Moi has been taken up by advertising campaigns and Deprijck wants to get all the rights,” Jouret said, vowing to sue his rival for defamation. “He’s making me out to be a crook, but I am an artist, not a crook. -The Grauniad, today

    There are a number of interesting, (well, interesting-ish) things about this story. Obviously, this will as come as a terrible blow to Plastic Bertrand’s many devoted fans (whoever and wherever they may be, the mugs).

    It appears Monsieur Plastic did a Milli Vanilli avant la lettre, but interestingly, was tripped up by not ensuring that he cultivated the obscure patois of Picardy, Ch’ti. What intrigued me was the news that Lou Deprijk, composer and actual singer of the song in question, is now ‘pursuing his career in Thailand’.

    Why Thailand (aside from the obvious reasons: pretty women, cheap smack, low cost of living)? Are the Thai language and Ch’ti mutually intelligible? But perhaps most bizarre is Monsieur Plastic’s claim to be an ‘artist’. Quoi?

  262. hic8ubique permalink
    July 27, 2010 11:47 PM

    This must be for Reine…

    DePrijck at last tired of the mock-
    ing of Anglo girls who had a shock
    at the sound of his name,
    so he covered his shame
    with a bright new career in Bangkok.

    He said to himself said DePrijck:
    A new line might do just the trick
    of revenging detractors
    in Thai manufacture:
    the Artistic Plastic Palakik.

    Maybe M. Plastic was a pogo artiste and the music was meant to be secondary?

  263. Reine permalink
    July 27, 2010 11:54 PM

    There was a young lady called Hic
    Who wrote about Mr. DePrijck
    Dedicated to Reine
    Who drank a bellini
    And was verily cut to the quick

    Thanks Hic. x A DePrijck poem at bedtime is an ideal tonic.

  264. hic8ubique permalink
    July 28, 2010 3:57 AM

    So… do you say ‘Reine’ as
    Bellini, Irene, Blue Meanie?
    La Reine, Wren, Doyenne?

    I’m worried you haven’t been sitting properly in my ear, Dear.
    Textual textural vestibular vextual…

  265. Reine permalink
    July 28, 2010 8:36 AM

    Yes, Hic, Re Knee rhyming with bellini. Named after my great aunt Reine whose eldest brother, a priest, was based in France when she, the youngest of 13 (aargh!) was born. Showing off, he telegrammed home “Comment va la petite reine?” and so she was named. Her surname was King so I think the little Queen/King joke appealed to them! It gives me no end of spelling/pronunciation/what’s it short for trouble? but I like it very well. R

  266. hic8ubique permalink
    July 28, 2010 2:42 PM

    I like it too, and am retraining myself: ‘Re Knee’.

    I just spell my name for people, to avoid the inevitable false starts and confusion.

    Outside of Sweden, my grandfather Sverker, was called ‘Packey’. No hope there.

  267. Reine permalink
    July 28, 2010 7:09 PM

    I’m glad Grandad had a good old Irish name – popular abbreviation of Patrick back in the day, less common now. Packey, not Sverker!

    Our tic-tacking is creating a pretty tile pattern.

  268. hic8ubique permalink
    July 28, 2010 8:32 PM

    Uh oh, it’s becoming a quilting blog. freep will be distraught.

    I never met Sverker. The nickname had to do with Packey MacFarland during WWI, I think…pilots, boxers?
    I have a quintessentially raffish photo of him. Brilliant smile.

    All that paddy business was too bizarre. My friend Patrick is happily nicknamed Paddy, and he’s in his 60s! When may we get over it?

  269. Reine permalink
    July 28, 2010 8:35 PM

    Most of us are.

    To whom shall we dedicate our quilt? Make haste Freep, add a panel.

  270. freep permalink
    July 28, 2010 11:33 PM

    O I love quilts. A friend has spent 20 years making a Peace Quilt, and I expect it is so called because it has kept her quiet for a long time. But then, there hasn’t been a war where she lives, near Newcastle General Hospital, so maybe it works.

    I would like to tell you a brief story about a quilted tea cosy and the retired Governor General of Ireland, Domhnall Ua Buachalla or Donal Buckley.
    When I was a tiny boy and living in my granny’s house near Penge East station, we had a telephone. SYDenham 2733. My granny, Molly, was very mad, medically. She was from Kilcock in the middes of all Ireland, and an Olympic champion at the rosary. She could do the Joyful Mysteries in twenty seconds flat. The Sorrowful Mysteries took a little longer, for the drama.
    Well, she had a regular visitor in the shape of a cousin from Maynooth called Sadhbh Buckley, and I think she was the sister of the former Governor General, who had been a most reluctant Governor General anyway, and at this time – say 1954 – he was very old, but much respected in the family. A Gaelic scholar and a grocer of repute.
    He knew his Irish words, and he knew his cheese and bacon. Sadhbh (pronounced to rhyme with ‘alive’) was deeply old herself, and a woman who did not know how, nor wish to stop talking. It was her profession. She was also bilingual Gaelic / English .
    She came once to the house at the point when my granny was about to be admitted to Cane Hill Asylum for throwing utensils at my unfortunate grandfather. Sadhbh wanted to take control of the situation, and save Molly from the asylum, and phoned her ancient gubernatorial relative, to speak to him in Gaelic for an interminable period. It may have been a week. Anyhow, the phone bill was larger than the national debt of Eritrea, and my father, who had become responsible for meeting the telephone company’s requests for payment, following the joint incapacities of my grandparents, tried to ban Aunt Sadhbh from the house.

    But Sadhbh tried to wheedle or bludgeon her way back in. Domhnall, she said, was a very important personage and she had to speak to him on our phone, for advice about the mad Molly. She shouted through the letterbox to see if there was ever anyone in, while we all cowered in the white tiled pantry. Who could know what vengeance could be wrought at the whim of a retired Governor-General? Eventually, my father said we had to let her in, but he placed the tea cosy over the telephone, surrounded it with distracting objects, and somehow disguised the electronical flex. He told her the phone had been taken away for repair by the General Post Office. Despite Sadhbh’s liking for tea, she never thought to look under the tea cosy, which I recall was paisley pattern, and lightly quilted.
    I recall now that she went away disgruntled, and, denied the phone, never came back again. She was last heard of going to see Flanagan and Allen at the New Victoria Theatre with cousin Gretchen from Pinner.
    My sister still has the quilted tea cosy; it is the family’s finest heirloom.

  271. Reine permalink
    July 28, 2010 11:41 PM

    Well, that is an excellent tale Freep.

  272. hic8ubique permalink
    July 29, 2010 4:13 AM

    I love that sort of story, freep; it’s exactly the sort I grew up with, usually prompted by an artefact such as your tea-cosy.

    (The design of cosy I make solves the problem of flipping over the pot when you take it off, because it elasticates around the bottom with the handle and spout sticking out, so you lift the whole arrangement to pour out. Mine’s mostly unemployed since I discovered espresso.)

    The pronunciation guide is helpful when we tack into the Gaels. I’ll think of it as your Aunt Saliva story.
    Your war-obviating-quilt account, however, shows the sort of logic that causes CiF salivators to choke. First they choke and then self-immolate in a fury. Knowing that only augments my appreciation.
    You like a quiet woman who provides baked goods prepared with fowler, I divine.

    A woman drowned off the beach this evening. Walking alongside the breakers, I came upon the crew who were trying to resuscitate her, but she was quite blue. We had 90F and she wasn’t fit to be out in such heat. Sombre walk home. It happens several times most seasons.Usually due to

  273. hic8ubique permalink
    July 29, 2010 4:19 AM

    Oh, speaking of self-immolation, I do like that arcing brain motif that recurs at the opening of select videos, Mishari.
    It’s a nice touch.
    I got ‘not in your country’ notice for the Firecracker one, by the way, as if to illustrate your recent comments on defence of copyright…

  274. mishari permalink*
    July 29, 2010 1:26 PM

    Yeah, sorry about that, hic. Apparently, it’s available everywhere except the US and Canada (i.e. where Frazey Ford is actually from). But if you’re web-adept, just use a proxy server (google it). Better yet, just use Firefox and add the ‘proxy switcher’ function, Basically, it fools youtube into thinking you’re not in the US. You should have no problem. It’s a good song…

  275. freep permalink
    July 29, 2010 2:32 PM

    Thanks for the appreciation, hic, Reine. I think the tea cosy is pretty defunct these days. It speaks of a time when gratification was rarely instant, usually deferred.
    Coming across a person dying on the beach is disconcerting, hic. But if it’s 90F such things will occur. Maybe it was a good place to snuff it, though, overlooking the Atlantic… You are in Mass., looking east, I think? Last time I came across a person suddenly dying in front of me, it was at a suburban bus stop, far less rewarding when you never catch the no. 18 you were hoping for.

  276. mishari permalink*
    July 29, 2010 4:50 PM

    But surely, catching the Celestial No. 18, express to the Pearly Gates is reward enough?

    The last tea-cosy I saw was in an elderly neighbour’s front room. I’d climbed a tree to rescue her cat (although I don’t know why I bloody bothered: as someone once said, you never see a cat’s skeleton in a tree) and she insisted I come in for a cuppa and a home-baked biscuit. Good biscuit, though…

  277. Captain Ned permalink
    July 29, 2010 6:03 PM

    ‘She was last heard of going to see Flanagan and Allen at the New Victoria Theatre with cousin Gretchen from Pinner.’

    This made me laugh. Many of us here would welcome a collection of your poetry, Freep; I also think an anthology of your prose pieces would make a fine book – a volume to set aside Perelman. Though I hope no-one would ever see fit to chuck it in a skip, which is where I came across my battered copy of ‘Bite on the Bullet’, together with a collection of interviews with Stravinsky and some essays by Lionel Trilling. It’s amazing what some people throw away.

  278. hic8ubique permalink
    July 29, 2010 6:14 PM

    I’d certainly second your suggestion, Iorwerth. How shall it be done?

    Tea-cosies can be important where winters are long and frigid, especially when tea drinking goes on all day and late into the evening.
    It seems not so long ago that arriving home meant the kettle went on, but we’re now in the new era of disposable-cup holders, and everyone walks and drives with beverages.

    I am here on the outermost bit of rock projecting into the Atlantic, freep. If I incline any farther East, I’ll be wet.
    The deceased was underlooking rather than overlooking the ocean. I agree, not at all a bad way to exit, but quite a shock to her family on the beach.

    I’m still working on that proxy switch, which seems a good idea~ certainly not web-savvy enough to have ever heard of it.

    Mishari enjoying a biscuit. There’s an incongruous image.

  279. Reine permalink
    July 29, 2010 8:35 PM

    Is “biscuit” a metaphor Mish, those grateful housewives…

    The last time I saw a tea cosy, my father was wearing it. It was some knitted offering from an elderly woman for whom he had done a favour (not a metaphor). He mistook it for a hat, much to our great mirth.

    A sophisticated man, Daddy, in his own way but unintentionally hilarious and much adored. Much to my mother’s chagrin he has taken to carrying a miniature salt cellar around in his sports jacket breast pocket because he can’t be doing with all that “sea salt rubbish” in restaurants. We all look the other way as if he is doing a line of coke. (Poor Daddy, to him a line of coke is ten bottles of coca cola in a row).

    Hic, that was sombre indeed. Poor lady, RIP. I once tried to give a man CPR; he came around no thanks to me or maybe out of sheer terror. My friend Orla advised “Reine, you’re supposed to be trying to resuscitate him not get off with him”. My first aid career went downhill fast after that.

  280. hic8ubique permalink
    July 29, 2010 9:19 PM

    So you’ve actually revived a man, Re! I’m duly impressed. The troubling thing about CPR is that once begun, one’s obliged to continue with it til relief arrives. That could be a good long while in the wilderness.

    Your Dad has the same sort of indignation as my grandfather (Charles, not Sverker) had.
    His favourite chippy offered only plastic ware, so, after nearly swallowing a bit of fork, he required a setting brought from home. I can just see him in his wild cravat and goatee oblivious to the odd spectacle he presented.
    Sometimes a small triumph yields disproportionate satisfaction…
    So funny to reject sea-salt though. It’s metabolically alkalysing and much better for him.
    I wonder whether he’d notice if someone put sea-salt in his shaker?

  281. Reine permalink
    July 29, 2010 9:30 PM


    Of course, he should not be having salt of any kind. We have tried all sorts of subterfuge but he’s like a boar truffling. Sniffs out a wrong ‘un with uncanny ease.

    The poor man came around before the ambulance arrived (luckily the hospital was only around the corner) but I doubt it had much to do with me. I used the whole traumatic episode as an excuse to go to the pub for the night. At the end of which my then 19 year old self could have done with revival.

    Orla had the only double bed in our student house and anxious to keep an eye on me (what a friend) insisted I sleep with her on the fondly named “Onedin Line”. I made it through the night and our friendship survived!

  282. hic8ubique permalink
    July 30, 2010 4:13 AM

    So, you’ve slept with a woman after all ;)

  283. mishari permalink*
    July 30, 2010 8:46 AM

    ‘Biscuit’ is not a metaphor, you impudent creature. Sorry if I’ve been remiss in my blog duties but I’ve been a bit busy preparing for the annual exodus to more civilised climes. However, I’m going to type out and post a Perelman piece to leave you with. It should, please God, be up by this evening.

  284. hic8ubique permalink
    July 30, 2010 5:03 PM

    Most indulgent of hosts, you deserve at the very least a holiday from us.
    I’ve tried to find for you the Reuben Gaines story ‘To Outfit a Bear’. It seems not to be online, but I won’t be done yet.

    In the meantime, I do have a little fish tale for everyone…

    When my son, a dedicated sport fisherman, was about 10, he met me saying goodbye to a client with this news:
    ‘I’ve caught a fish.’
    Informed it was hanging in the breezeway, I said I’d be right there.
    I imagined a little pollock, but was aghast to find a striped-bass easily as long as my arm gaping back at me.
    He’d carried it the half-mile up the hill with nothing but the line he caught it on, and was beaming.
    ‘We need to clean it’, he informed me.
    ‘You want to eat it?’
    ‘Of course, I want to eat my first keeper!’
    (I should mention here that bass shorter than 28” must be thrown back.)

    So, horrified but galvanised by love, I phoned every fisherman I knew, desperate to solicit advice.
    There was no way out of this sacred task; I couldn’t just hand the sharpest carving-knife in the house to my child.
    Finally reaching a cardiologist friend, a person entrusted with delicate arterial catheterisations, he suggested:
    ‘Just cut it into steaks.’
    So, in a remote corner of the garden, we assembled: hose, plank on crates, steele and knife &c…
    The scales had to come off first. I was an adept student, and we did that part together. Scales it turned out don’t offer much resistance.
    Then I went astray in trying to gut the monster before decapitating it. That’s a mistake to make only once. Suffice to say; it doesn’t work.
    Even dissections are less repulsive, I suppose because they aren’t bloody, and aren’t regarded as something one will eventually eat.
    The steaks were a bit ragged, but we marinated that striper and grilled it. I managed to eat some, despite prior intimacies.
    It was one of those moments of no escape from a dread task, but the pride of my son as he ate his first keeper is still with me.

    Aloha, Mishari~~
    I wish you all a deeply nurturing and restorative respite from the seductions of city-life.

  285. July 31, 2010 9:02 AM

    Captain Ned on the subject of skips a friend of mine found a stuffed manatee in a skip outside the Natural History Museum about 30 years ago. He was on a bike so couldn’t take it away but managed to phone a friend who had a car with a roof-rack.

    The sight of a car with an adult manatee on its roof driving from Kensington to Crouch End miust have been quite something.

  286. Captain Ned permalink
    August 3, 2010 7:27 PM

    Quite something indeed. Perhaps when the definitive critical study of the Whalley Range All-Stars comes to be written, this incident will be identified as a moment of inspiration which led to all sorts of delightful craziness.

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