Skip to content

The Twangling Instrument

September 15, 2010



Now, blessings light on him that first invented sleep! It covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot. —Miguel de Cervantes

How do people go to sleep? I’m afraid I’ve lost the knack. —Dorothy Parker

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

The Tempest — 3.2.150-156

Vincent Van Gogh, Napoleon, Groucho Marx, Benjamin Franklin, Cary Grant, Catherine The Great, Charles Dickens, Thomas Edison, Marcel Proust, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka and Alexandre Dumas all share something with me: insomnia.

(I’m guessing Don of Don & Seymour has the same problem. Listen: nobody makes an album with a sock-puppet unless their judgement has been impaired by serious sleep-deprivation…)

For years, I blamed my inability to sleep on various other causes. Throughout my late teens, 20s and 30s, I simply assumed that is was amphetamines, cocaine, alcohol and satyriasis that were keeping me awake. Now, I know better.

The real problem isn’t the lack of sleep per se. For years, sleep researchers, having deprived subjects of sleep for extended periods, would observe the onset of psychosis-like symptoms in their subjects.

Then they began to look more closely at the phenomenon. What they discovered was that sleep mattered less than dreaming. They allowed subjects to fall asleep but woke them as soon as they began to exhibit Rapid Eye Movement (an indicator of the dreaming state). They kept this up, allowing the subjects to sleep but preventing them from dreaming.

The subjects who were allowed some sleep but were prevented from dreaming soon began to exhibit the same psychosis-like symptoms of subjects who had been completely deprived of sleep.

The researchers soon realised that what really mattered was dreaming. Subjects who were allowed to dream but prevented from sleeping for any length of time exhibited none of the psychosis-like symptoms of those who’d been completely sleep or dream deprived.

So let’s have poems on sleep, dreams or even, if you prefer, nightmares…

Here’s one of mine from an old Poster Poems:

Singin’ In The Dream Rain

Tangled in damp sheets,
I dreamt I was awake
And hunting rainy streets
As if my heart would break.

In the shadows lurked
Desires unenacted,
Oaths and burdens shirked
And solemn words retracted.

Before me moved a crowd
That glided, slipped and shifted,
That called and laughed aloud
And purposefully drifted.

I had no choice;
I joined the throng
As in one voice
It turned to song.

A song of light, a song of air,
A song of time unwrought;
A song to counter black despair
And unlearn what’s been taught.

I woke with a start to leaden rain
My pounding heart said ‘sing again’.

But the song is gone
Beyond recall;
Could I but remember,
The song would mend all.

  1. hic8ubique permalink
    September 15, 2010 3:12 PM

    Excellent post, Mishari.
    Here’s a re-run of mine from the Butterfly Poster Poems:

    Sphenoid 4:30 a.m.

    Hollow bone
    home of indwelling ajna,
    hovering luna moth
    with chiasmic antennae

    behind panes of eyes,
    motion measured in microns
    but canvassing continents,

    dipping dream-giver
    drives vomer
    rostrum diving
    turkish saddle riding;
    illumines ethmoid fairy-castle
    its crista galli crowing
    as the falx cerebri rises;
    basilar thrust
    draws temporal
    petrous portions under,
    papillon-pinning partners.

    Pterion and twelve
    neurocraniae touching
    take wing
    give throat
    have sight!
    blind night ending.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ in Japanese, sphenoid is known as
    Cho Kay Hotsu : ‘the butterfly bone’

  2. hic8ubique permalink
    September 15, 2010 3:14 PM

    and to sweeten the deal… more from our friend Tom:

  3. September 15, 2010 3:47 PM

    I used to suffer really bad insomnia but the onset of diabetes at the age of 40 cured that one.

    I’ve always been aware that I dream but can never remember my dreams the minute I awake. In fact I worry that if I could remember my dreams it would impact badly on my creative ( sic ) work which relies on the loosening of the imagination.

    A ridiculous superstition of mine but there you go I said it.

  4. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 15, 2010 3:52 PM

    i’ve never been troubled by insomn

  5. hic8ubique permalink
    September 15, 2010 4:13 PM

    Beautiful Hands

    This is the kind of friend
    you are~
    without making me realize
    my soul’s anguished history,
    you slip into my house at night,
    and while I am sleeping,
    you silently carry off
    all my suffering and sordid past
    in your beautiful


    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 15, 2010 4:59 PM

      someone…? may have a better translation of this.

  6. mishari permalink*
    September 15, 2010 5:13 PM

    Here’s another re-tread:

    Silly Cnut

    On the shore, I had a dream
    Of King Cnut and his court,
    “Turn back, O waves, the King commands!”
    The waves made no retort
    Except to keep on rolling in,
    Remorseless and as black as sin.

    I, like Cnut, have often tried
    To hold it back, that dreaming tide,
    But it just keeps on rolling in,
    Despite the drugs, despite the gin.

  7. mishari permalink*
    September 15, 2010 5:32 PM

    …and here’s an insomnia song

  8. mishari permalink*
    September 15, 2010 5:39 PM

    …and I used the Salvador Dali-designed ‘dream sequence’ from Hitchcock’s Spellbound for this:

  9. Reine permalink
    September 15, 2010 6:13 PM

    Sleep Slag

    I am a dream adulterer
    It’s not my fault I swear
    When finally sleep comes my way
    It’s a passionate affair

    I dream of famous actors
    and some broadcasters of note
    One night I had Paxman
    Nibbling at my throat

    I am a dream adulterer
    It’s not my fault I swear
    In my dreams my flaws are minor
    I’ve perfect teeth and Cheryl’s hair

    I dream of tv chefs
    Gordon likes it rough and ready
    But I much prefer the French ones
    Who take it slow and steady

    I am a dream adulterer
    It’s not my fault I swear
    I tried to dream of politics
    Had to stop when I shagged Blair

    I never dream of colleagues
    Well, I married one of those
    But I often dream of footballers
    Ripping off my clothes

    I am a dream adulterer
    It’s not my fault I swear
    Sometimes I’m overtired
    And that’s a real nightmare

    Lately I find I’m dreaming
    – don’t laugh, this is quite true –
    Yes, lately, I find in REM
    I only dream of you

  10. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 15, 2010 6:52 PM

  11. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 15, 2010 7:57 PM

    Top quality, Reine.

  12. mishari permalink*
    September 15, 2010 8:20 PM

    I’ve always loved this song, sappy as it is:

  13. mishari permalink*
    September 15, 2010 9:23 PM

    More dream music (second MM, BTW):

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 15, 2010 9:26 PM

    I heart this one

  15. Reine permalink
    September 15, 2010 9:39 PM

    Thanks boys, always glad to please you.

    And here’s one, with an Irish connection, to which I am partial… could be my theme song.

  16. Reine permalink
    September 15, 2010 9:42 PM

    Song title didn’t come up “I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls”

  17. mishari permalink*
    September 15, 2010 9:50 PM

    Trust Mowbray to lower the tone…

  18. September 15, 2010 10:04 PM

    Here’s a great piece of animation by a great animator.

  19. September 15, 2010 10:11 PM

    round 2

  20. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:25 PM

    I dreamed that our English shores
    were invaded by a band
    of liars and thieves and bores
    with designs upon our land.

    Squads of investment bankers
    and city boys on the make
    MPs and other wankers-
    oh, fucking hell-I’m awake!

  21. Reine permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:30 PM

    Love the second one Ed. Nearly as good as this:

  22. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:31 PM

    Wodgermean, lowering the tone? That’s a decent song, not their best of course. I didn’t realise it had those fucking kids in it. Sorry about that.

  23. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 16, 2010 12:14 AM

    A Song While Dreaming

    I was wearing a coat of rain and feathers
    that I’d bought from the clouds before money was dry;
    my pockets were full of almonds and birdsong
    and my name was the answer I don’t know why;
    the lane that I walked was a ribbon of moonlight
    and my shadow was blue as a summer’s sky.

    My mind was not heavy or burdened with worry
    I carried no troubles to make one cry;
    my heart was full of rivers and laughter
    and my name was the answer I don’t know why;
    the lane that I walked was a ribbon of moonlight
    deep as the ocean when the ocean is high.

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  24. hic8ubique permalink
    September 16, 2010 12:34 AM

    May it ever be so with you, Jack.

  25. hic8ubique permalink
    September 16, 2010 1:57 AM

  26. Reine permalink
    September 16, 2010 9:15 AM

    Christmas Foreseen

    Last night I dreamed of you lot
    We had a Christmas party
    Nigella did the finger food
    Saatchi said we all looked arty

    Mishari made a speech
    Thanked himself for hosting
    the party and the blog
    Not that he was boasting

    He looked pretty impressive
    in his crimson smoking jacket
    And his super steel capped loafers
    tapped out a steady racket

    Henry sang Joyeux Noel
    MM read Robert Frost
    Jack got a standing ovation
    For “Jesus, born on moss”

    Hic and I did a duet
    Ed played the tambourine
    Simon helped Nigella
    To whip some brandy cream

    Zeph was the Christmas angel
    Captain Ned was Christy Kringle
    I sat upon his knee
    And felt his bells a jingle

    Freep sang “It was Christmas Eve babe…”
    And everyone joined in
    Hic put up some mistletoe
    And we all drank berry gin

    The mistletoe claimed victims fast
    I started with MM
    And Hic and Zeph kissed Simon
    And I’d a go at HLM

    It all got very messy
    I won’t divulge much more
    But by the early morning
    There were poets on the floor

    Non-poets too lay comatose
    Mad haired and legs akimbo
    En route to the fires of hell
    We stopped for a drink in limbo

  27. Reine permalink
    September 16, 2010 10:20 AM

    You’re a super efficient editor. Thanks. x

  28. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:38 AM

    Robert Frost? I must have been drunk.

    Got the stuff today, thanks. Looking forward to reading and watching.

    I’d like to say was astonished by Clegg’s latest pronouncement, but I’m only mildly surprised. He’s a Tory. Why doesn’t he just come out and say so? What really hits a nerve is all this pious bollocks coming from people who less than a year ago were exposed as freeloading on the public purse to an extent unimaginable to your average benefit swindler. It’s hypocrisy on a cosmic scale.

  29. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:39 AM

    I’d like to say I was astonished, that is.

  30. hic8ubique permalink
    September 16, 2010 1:52 PM

    That’s a restart for my day, Reine. Thanks. I’m glad to hear Limbo has been recycled into a pub, what it probably always was, but now officially.
    Nigella and Saatchi aren’t ringing any sleigh-bells though. Did I miss something…? Caterers? I’m sure you’ve mentioned Nigella before.

    Were I to amend it (in my world) I’d put ‘not that he was boasting in these:
    [Not that he was boasting] to represent that familiar auto-editorial device. There must be a name for it…
    For me, it’s one of the convivial hallmarks of PH.

    Sleep Slag was perfect. Do you really?
    I found ‘Ode to Hic’ yesterday from our Aubades episode.
    You are milady of the tribute poem.
    I’m fairly sure nobody else has ever written a song or poem in my honour.
    Now, I’ve just realised that’s not quite true. My Dad composed a tune he used to play for me as a child.

    • Reine permalink
      September 16, 2010 6:39 PM

      Nigella Lawson (daughter of former Chancellor of the Exchequer in UK and famous sexpot celebrity chef/food writer) married to Charles Saatchi, squillionaire gallery owner.

      I do really. Not all the time, seems to be a lunar thing. Never about footballers though, that bit was fictitious.

      I forgot Exitb and Obooki and doubtless others, will have to have another party.

      Thanks, I was pleased with SS. Had forgotten your tribute poem, I had not known you long then but I knew you were a good sort x

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      September 16, 2010 7:44 PM

      As long as it’s just a lunar thing.

      I’ll bring the sausage rolls.

    • Reine permalink
      September 16, 2010 10:54 PM

      Puff or flakey?

  31. mishari permalink*
    September 16, 2010 2:27 PM

    MM, what can one expect from pious frauds like Clegg? The man has had what you or I would call a ‘proper’ job just once in his miserable, turncoat life and that was for the FT and lasted a year before he jumped ship.

    He’s had his nasty, puckered little mouth firmly clamped to the state titty ever since, first in Brussels, then in Westminster.

    In 16 years of free-loading on the taxpayer, the whining little toad has probably pocketed enough to build a medium-sized hospital.

    I can’t believe I encouraged people to vote for this shower of shits.

    Mind you, I voted for Galloway. He might be a bit of a humbug and a carpetbagger but even on his worst day he stands head and shoulders above any of these amoral scum…

  32. September 16, 2010 3:13 PM

    Last night I dreamed I was the Pope
    And wondered how on earth I’d cope
    with heaven, cos it’s very far
    from condom use in Africa
    or buggered boys on Boston’s shore,
    crusades in Languedoc, and more
    But then I thought: I am the Pope,
    the heir to Peter, mustn’t mope
    To keep alive, that’s my mission,
    bulls of worn-out superstition
    If only there were more like me:
    (from Hitler Youth to Holy See
    is not a great conceptual leap)
    To England! And its hungry sheep!

  33. September 16, 2010 3:48 PM

    The dimbulb views of Cardinal Kaspar
    Are enough to exasper
    Ate my breakfast when I heard of ‘im
    Shouldn’t wonder if some want to murder ‘im.
    A diplomat is that a fact?
    Rarely heard someone so tact
    Less of a diplomat more of mandarin
    Brain elsewhere while his tongue goes wanderin’

  34. mishari permalink*
    September 16, 2010 4:20 PM

    The Sweet Cheat Gone

    I dreamed I was a banker
    So portly, sleek and rich;
    A monumental wanker,
    A gold-plate son-of-a-bitch.

    I raked in people’s money,
    I gave them fuck-all back,
    I lived on milk and honey,
    Until I got the sack.

    But I’m still sitting pretty,
    Here in my stately pile,
    Clamped to the public titty,
    Re-paying them with bile.

    Your taxes keep me portly,
    It’s what you plebs are for,
    And I expect quite shortly,
    I’ll soak you clucks for more.

    So here’s to Smith and Keynes and Marx
    Thank God, you blanked them too
    And guaranteed
    That crooks like me
    Can live off mugs like you.

  35. mishari permalink*
    September 16, 2010 5:09 PM

    Astonishing. And people call the Mafia crooks…

    The Aisle Is Full Of Noses

    I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls
    But woke up in the park;
    This dreaming stuff is utter balls:
    Well, fuck that for a lark.

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 16, 2010 5:24 PM

    Mrs M heard on the radio that soldiers are going to be made redundant while on Herrick. That’s nice.

    Officer: That’s a nasty wound you’ve got there, Corporal. Jolly good job you did, saving that chap’s life.
    Corp: Thank you, sir.
    Officer: Oh, by the way, you’re fired.

    The excellent selection here is making me feel guilty about my threadbare contribution. It should be a fruitful subject, but my branches are bare.

    I’ve been meaning to salute ExitBarnardine, who I haven’t seen posting for a while. My best wishes to you, sir, and I hope all is going well.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 16, 2010 5:31 PM

      Seconded, ExitB. I was missing you at the Christmas fete, just this a.m.

  37. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 16, 2010 5:33 PM

    Santé to Chuck Swann’s friend, le baron Charlus….

  38. hic8ubique permalink
    September 16, 2010 5:37 PM

    “Man has three things that are no good at sea:
    Rudder, oars, and the fear of going down.”

    ~ Octavio Paz

    Travel Dream

    First seeing a black-violet
    electrical storm approaching from the open west
    arched windows, I ushered young families, out
    on broad front steps, in to a secure room
    at the back. An old man, crouched sleeping
    behind a pillar footing, could not be helped in
    time; he might survive.

    As my house rose
    to ride the storm, I made way down
    the centre corridor to Eastward
    where my matriarchs joined me
    in keeping watch. We were making
    better time than the steam locomotive
    racing below, though only just
    clearing tree-tops.

    Arriving on the Continent,
    I found work-men were buried, only heads
    above ground: a billiard landscape. Fortunately,
    probes had been placed in the soil to monitor
    brain-comfortable temperature.
    I was relieved.

  39. mishari permalink*
    September 16, 2010 5:58 PM

    Yes, I’ve been wondering about ExB. I hope all’s well with him. Just do what I’ve been doing, MM: plunder the archives…

    Cretaceous Dream or Don’t Ask Me, I’m Extinct

    I dreamed a torrid, rampant life,
    And utter green confusions;
    A world where savagery was rife,
    Of rending toothed conclusions.

    At my side stalked Pongo Cat,
    A large and fearless feline
    Point Pongo at a brazen rat,
    That rat’s an ex-rat: bigtime.

    We glided though the undergrowth,
    Avoiding bulky reptiles:
    The Mastodon, the Giant Sloth
    And hippies in dud hairstyles.

    Suddenly we heard a sound;
    A bore was in full flow,
    We tried avoidance,
    (Well, one would),
    Avoidance was no-go.

    “Sit here”, a fang-rich voice announced;
    The voice went on to say:
    “Assemble, brood, convene, endure,
    Meet or perch or pose.
    Relax, remain or roost or stay,
    Settle, squat, repose.”

    I looked at Pongo,
    He looked at me;
    The lizards had done for us,
    For we were in the power, you see,
    Of Roget’s Tyrannosaurus.

  40. Captain Ned permalink
    September 16, 2010 6:07 PM

    ExitB, I believe, has been wrapped up in his new job.

    That Svankmajer is terrific.

  41. Reine permalink
    September 16, 2010 6:40 PM

    MM, your earlier contribution may have been short but was perfectly formed.

  42. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 16, 2010 7:42 PM

    Thank you, Reine. I feel like I’m cheating, but I’ll resurrect this one from the PP archive, which features one of the top dreamers of the Eng Lit canon.

    The immortal dreamer

    Bedford Gaol 1660-1672

    The twelve apostles were the years inside
    the gospel writers were those four stone walls
    this is where he saw the holy spirit glide
    there, where the mobile square of sunlight falls.

    This sequestered place is where it happened.
    Should the load of years give rise to doubt
    then day by month by year his god would send
    that square, that single eye to find it out.

    The trinity of table, chair and bed
    the bread and water on which his life depends
    the sack of straw on which he lay his head
    is where the journey started: and where it ends.

  43. Reine permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:14 PM

    Now that is a poem.

    We had a power cut here for past two hours, amazing how much we have come to rely on our gadgetry. Something very soothing about candles and music (until laptop charge ran out) and huddling for warmth. Rang my mother who sang a verse of a hymn (for a joke but better than poor Susan Boyle’s effort for Il Papa earlier) down the phone and the lights came back… Noo noo noo noo

  44. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:18 PM

    Don’t tell me you missed:

  45. Reine permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:21 PM

    Oh sweet Jesus, that bit with the fox is very upsetting. True Blood is not on my hit list, should it be?

  46. Reine permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:45 PM


    She sang lullabies out of tune
    Her deep eyelids shaded blue
    The kindest smile was our last view
    As we slipped under

    She wore hotpants and heels
    Until October
    Our Mary, Mary full of grace
    Laughed her head off all day long
    Brightened up the darkest place

    She grew old and we grew up
    She sleeps now, we hope in peace
    She left us early, most unsmiling
    Now we must dream to see her face

  47. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:55 PM

    Oh, definitely. Series 2 is just starting here. Series 1 was excellent, not exactly terrifying but very funny. The occasional sentimental patches are always undercut by a bracing sense of irony. Doubtless a totally inaccurate portrayal of the southern States, but fun nevertheless.

    Anyone catch our dear Queen’s conversational gambit with Pope Ratzo? He was so nonplussed he had to have it repeated.

    Queen: The car you arrived in was very small.
    Pope: Yes.

    Looked like a top of the range Jag to me.

  48. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:58 PM

    Excellent poem there, MM.

    I think I’d better start working on “Jesus, born on moss”, otherwise I’ll never be let into that party.

  49. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:03 AM

    Yeah, I hear people talking about it but it didn’t “speak to me”. I’m so excited Mad Men is back but I may need to branch out. Love it beyond all reason. Roger not Dan, for me. Do you watch it MM? Major debate at work between the guys in the Joan or Betty camps with one odd ball favouring Peggy.

  50. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:05 AM

    Jack, it’ll be red carpet all the way for you and a special pass to the VIP lounge for cocktails with Mishari. It was an excellent poem but regrettably, I didn’t transcribe it at the time. I know you can do it; come on – you have three months.

  51. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:08 AM

    Thanks, Jack.

    Can I ask who Christy Kringle is? Google isn’t specific.

  52. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:08 AM

    Did he say “arrive again?” when he missed her comment the first time.

  53. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:11 AM

    As my father would say, he is one of the Kringles of Louisburgh, nice fella. Excitable but generous. Very particular about his beard and red suit.

  54. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:15 AM

    I’m very keen on MadMen, though I found the last episode a little soporific. Not enough intrigue perhaps. I must say I don’t really find the women attractive. They remind me too much of my parents’ generation: the clothes and gestures (those smoking poses!) are too eerily familiar.

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:18 AM

    Oh, I see. Him. I’ve never heard that expression before. You are an education, Reine.

  56. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:19 AM

    The main problem with watching it for me is that by the end of it I am dying for a cigarette (and a pointy bra).

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 17, 2010 12:24 AM

      Make sure you light the right one.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 17, 2010 2:43 AM

      Definitely light the pointy bra. Light all of them.

  57. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:22 AM

    The new Lynn Barber me MM, want to co-star in the remake as my older, dashing lover? Ha. The Christy bit was purely for scanning purposes, Kris was too short.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 17, 2010 12:28 AM

      Dashing? Hobbling would be more like it. I could probably get away with playing your great-grandfather.

      God, I should have been asleep half an hour ago. Ciao!

    • Reine permalink
      September 17, 2010 12:29 AM

      Night Pops. x

  58. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:25 AM

    Yes, indeed, the left one is a little singed but I blew it out in time.

  59. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 1:57 AM

    “The car you arrived in was very small, a very tight squeeze, but you’ve got your own Popemobile?”

    The Pope smiled, perhaps wondering what was coming next, and replied: “Yes.” Prince Philip, on his best behaviour, asked: “Do you go to Glasgow in it?” The Queen then gestured towards Holyrood Park, at the back of the palace, telling the Pope: “We have a lovely park here.” —The Torygraph, today

    The old bugger probably thought she was trying to sell him the place. Still, all grist to the mill…

    And Did Those Feet In Greenwich Mean Time…?

    I dreamt I’d arrived in a very small car
    Singing hi-ho for Jesus, St. Peter and Rome
    No TV, no sauna, no stocked mini-bar
    Christ on the cross, I should have stayed home.

    Meeted and greeted some frumpy old tart
    Singing hi-ho for Jesus, St. Peter and Rome
    I smiled and looked Papal and held back a fart
    Christ on the cross, I should have stayed home.

    The bag in the hat tried to sell me the place
    Singing hi-ho for Jesus, St. Peter and Rome
    I’d rather be shot into deep outer space
    Christ on the cross, I should have stayed home.

    Her boney old man gave my bottom a tweak
    Singing hi-ho for Jesus, St. Peter and Rome
    What can one do? The old bugger’s a Greek.
    Christ on the cross, I should have stayed home.

    The streets were seething with fat, drunken Scots
    Singing hi-ho for Jesus, St. Peter and Rome
    It’s a third world country with wall-to-wall sots
    Christ on the cross, I should have stayed home.

    Christ, get me back to old Vatican City
    Singing hi-ho for Jesus, St. Peter and Rome
    The boys are all plump and the nuns are all pretty
    Christ on the cross, I should have stayed home.

    I know Our Lord Jesus died for our sins
    Singing hi-ho for Jesus, St. Peter and Rome
    I’m damned if I’m going to emulate Him.
    Christ on the cross, won’t you please take me home.

  60. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 2:29 AM

    It would be perverse not to have a few of John Berryman’s glorious Dream Songs:

    Dream Song 119

    Fresh-shaven, past months & a picture in New York
    of Beard Two, I did have Three took off. Well. .
    Shadow & act, shadow & act,
    Better get white or you’ get whacked,
    or keep so-called black
    & raise new hell.

    I’ve had enough of this dying.
    You’ve done me a dozen goodnesses; get well.
    Fight again for our own.
    Henry felt baffled, in the middle of the thing.
    He spent his whole time in Ireland on the Book of Kells,
    the jackass, made of bone.

    No tremor, no perspire: Heaven is here
    now, in Minneapolis.
    It’s easier to vomit than it was,
    There’s always the cruelty of scholarship.
    I once was a slip.

    Dream Song 122

    He published his girl’s bottom in staid pages
    of an old weekly. Where will next his rages
    ridiculous Henry land?
    Tranquil & chaste, de-hammocked, he descended—
    upon which note the fable should have ended—
    towards the ground, and

    while fable wound itself upon him thick
    and coats upon his tongue formed, white, terrific:
    he stretched out still.
    Assembled bands to do obsequious music
    at hopeless noon. He bayed before he obeyed,
    doing at last their will.

    This seemed perhaps one of the best of dogs
    during his barking. Many thronged & lapped
    at his delicious stone.
    Cats to a distance kept—one of their own—
    having in mind that down he lay & napped
    in the realm of whiskers & fogs.

    Dream Song 14

    Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
    After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
    we ourselves flash and yearn,
    and moreover my mother told me as a boy
    (repeatedly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
    means you have no

    Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
    inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
    Peoples bore me,
    literature bores me, especially great literature,
    Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
    as bad as achilles,

    Who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
    And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
    and somehow a dog
    has taken itself & its tail considerably away
    into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
    behind: me, wag.

  61. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 2:30 AM

    So, Re, I was close with my caterers guess, sort of.
    I don’t really,except rarely in special circumstances, much too busy in my sleep, it seems. ( I didn’t miss your perfectly-formed ref, by the way.)

    Just in from a frabjous early dinner with a blanc de noir I’d forgotten about, a duck confit with braised fennel and pear and the most amazing little mustard greens. They were better than water cress, sort of like crisper nasturiums.
    It’s a wonderful place, using freshest local produce, and half portions offered, so possible to sample more courses than usual…
    Lots to catch up on here I see :)

  62. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 3:19 AM

    I just made myself a superb sandwich: smoked chicken breast, sliced thin, topped with rocket, watercress and fine-sliced red-onion on a crusty baguette with aïoli I made with oil from our trees. Followed by vanilla ice-cream, chocolate-chip cookies (made them myself) and cherries (from our trees) marinated in ruby port. Insomnia has its compensations….

  63. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 3:34 AM

    Most impressive for dining in, but not soporific I think. I’ve just been surveying Jussi’s versions deciding which to post.
    A good night for it, perhaps:

  64. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 3:52 AM

    That was a special late-night repast designed to accompany sneering at a deluded old fart who blathers on about ‘trusting in God’s will’ but rides around in bullet-proof cars.

  65. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 4:06 AM

    Well, the vengeful have wills as well, sort of like the 13th fairy (Carabas?) , ‘Gods will’ doesn’t have the whole story wrapped up.
    That’s not a soporific activity either.
    What’s that saying? “…read something luminous at night.”
    I had a schoolmate who excelled because she actually needed only 3 hrs sleep each night…lots of time to study.

  66. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 4:32 AM


    “Still later, I read how another friend found in Edmund {Wilson}’s ‘Night Thoughts’ these words that seem to be issuing, cheerfully, from the grave:

    So these the precepts are, my friends,
    the aging Wilson recommends:

    Beware of dogmas backed by faith;
    Steer clear of conflicts to the death;

    Keep going; never stoop; sit tight;
    Read something luminous at night.

    And if no ready means you find
    To cultivate this state of mind,

    Why, you must come to see me here,
    — If not next year, another year.

  67. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 4:47 AM

    Mowbray~ this is what my Dad said in response to your Twain piece on Fenimore-Cooper, which I forwarded him some time ago:

    ‘I always knew that there was one writer for whom Twain had no respect whatever.
    Now I know who and why.’

    I thought of it because MT wrote a hilarious description of insomnia: ‘A Night in Heilbrunn’, but I can’t find it on line.
    Do you know it?

  68. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 9:02 AM

    Mishari, your pope poem made me choke on my coffee in mirth.

  69. September 17, 2010 10:14 AM

    Would I could remember my dreams that are erotic
    The dreams where symbolism signals I’m neurotic
    The dreams behind a stage curtain where I’m nude
    The dreams about a sausage which are obviously rude
    The dreams about hamsters which I don’t understand
    The dreams my subconscious have successfully banned
    The dreams where I’m awake although I know I’m asleep
    The dreams that seem shallow but are in fact deep
    The dreams where I’m chased but I want to be caught
    The dreams about battles that demand to be fought
    The dreams which start sexy but end up frustrating
    The dreams whose imagery demands XX rating
    The dreams where I win and am on top of the tree
    The dreams that are just about me, me, me, me
    The dreams where I understand just why they are wet
    The dreams from which I awake in a sweat
    The dreams where my passions are indulged to the hilt
    The dreams which exploit my feelings of guilt
    The dreams where the ending is never in sight
    The dreams I sprout wings and take off in flight
    The dreams of a tall building from which I’m falling
    The dreams of an intruder to whom I’m calling
    The dreams where the meaning is not what I thought
    The dreams that are too short
    The dreams that repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat
    The dreams that repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat

  70. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:16 AM

    In my Dreams

    In my dreams you are a thoroughbred
    Sleek and dark and broody
    But really you’re just an old nag
    Full of shit and moody

  71. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:18 AM

    Enjoyed that Ed.

  72. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 17, 2010 11:49 AM

    I’m glad I could help him out, hic. I don’t know the Twain you refer to, sorry.

    Fucking hell, ET, you’ve cornered the market in dream subjects. Nifty bit of trading, though.

    Prince Phil was amazingly restrained, I thought, when you consider what he might have said. ‘Ah, nice to meet you, Holy Father, or should that be Holy Fuhrer. Ha ha! Only joking!’

    Better not to commit your thoughts on Prince Mishari to print, Reine. He’s a sensitive chap. Nag, however, is probably the mot juste.

  73. September 17, 2010 12:22 PM

    My dad had a book called “The wit and wisdom of Prince Phillip”. It was by a Daily Express publishing affiliate so the title was mildly ironic from a respectful point of view.

    From the evidence on those pages it’s been one long round of tactless remarks. The difference being that back then the public were guaranteed to be more deferential than they are now so the old tosser could get away with it.

    Right I’m off to Bologna Book Fair. Back on Monday with tells to tell of parties with Michael Rosen, Richard Neville, Deputy Dawg and the Aga Khan.

  74. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 17, 2010 1:56 PM

    Good luck, ET, and give Mike a big hi from me.

  75. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 5:46 PM

    I’m still enjoying the idea of Roget’s Tyrannosaurus…

    and, quite tickled to report, by examining an actual dusty book to discover what I was trying to reference, I was able to find the insomnia chapter from Twain’s ‘A Tramp Abroad’:

    Bon Voyage, EdT

  76. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 5:58 PM

    Melton Mowbray, are you trying to get me barred? As if I would ever question the prince’s lineage. He grows his own cherries and makes aioli from oil from his own trees … the man is pure renaissance.

  77. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 6:02 PM

    …you forgot the chocolate-chip cookies I baked…Da Vinci’s got nothing on me.

  78. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 6:06 PM

    Oh, Hic, thanks for that Twain piece. Highly entertaining.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 17, 2010 6:16 PM

      Delighted, Re. These themes work on me in the back of my mind, making me chase down and retrieve odd bits…
      a weird but compelling amusement.

  79. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 6:12 PM

    but did you use Guittard? and I thought you didn’t care for sweets.
    In any case the prospective menu for our party is looking appetising.

  80. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 6:15 PM

    As a rule, I don’t. Now and then. But my children are fond of them and I’d rather they had properly made sweets with good ingredients than some store-bought crap. Anyway, I like the smell of baking…Guittard’s American isn’t it? I use Valrhona French chocolate for chefs…very dark and bitter-sweet…wonderful stuff.

  81. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 6:19 PM

    I’m not a fan of the chocolate chip, which is probably why I overlooked them. Had a nice lunch out today myself – a prawn, papaya and avocado salad with an unusual Indian style dressing, followed by an excellent baked cheesecake. The small restaurant is in a conservatory attached to a converted schoolhouse. I caused a bit of a scene by leaping from my seat when a wasp landed on my wine glass. A man at an adjoining table looked askance at me but five minutes later he was stung himself. I tried not to gloat.

    On a cultural note, I went to see a film called Certified Copy earlier in the week by Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami. Anyone familiar with his work? Strange film, essentially a two hander starring Juliet Binoche and opera singer William Shimell as her very detached husband. Interesting. Shimell reminded me a little of you looks-wise Mish, the bit of you I can see.

  82. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 6:23 PM

    I agree. Children’s tastes are set rather early.(McDonalds knows this, of course, and exploits it) Excellent chocolate instead of the horrible waxy stuff, and sweet butter in moderation are much better than the boxes of chem cakes people stock up on.

  83. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 6:30 PM

    Guittard is from the French tradition, Valrhona also first-rate, and I love Callebaut milk choc.
    I’m very careful with dark, because it can be a migraine trigger for me.

    Don’t recognise ‘two-hander’, Re, but I watched that trailer.
    ( Nothing like Mishari!)
    I want to see Coco and Igor and La Danse.

  84. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 6:33 PM

    I’m happy to say my children are disgusted by fast-food. Have I, to some extent, indoctrinated them? You’re goddamn right I have. I’ve impressed on them early on the intimate connection between what you eat and health.

    I’m always utterly baffled by people who say things like: “I’m not fussy about what I eat” or “I’m not really interested in food.” Christ, you might just as well say you’re not fussy about who you sleep with.

    How can you not be interested in something as intimate as what you put into your mouth and which, in effect, becomes you?

    And people wonder why obesity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions.

  85. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 6:35 PM

    Two-hander – just two main characters Hic.

    I missed Coco and Igor.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 17, 2010 6:40 PM

      It’s just coming out here. Do you look at the trailers on the GU?
      (Alas,I was expecting something ruder for two-hander.)

    • Reine permalink
      September 17, 2010 6:46 PM

      I knew you were, I’m not always smut stirring! Don’t really watch GU trailers. Just go by the trailers I see in the cinema or the GU/Observer reviews.

  86. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 6:39 PM

    So, agreeing of course, and not wishing to be offensive at all, but how do you reconcile such a strong position with the toxic contents of commercial tobacco products, or is it possible you have found a refinement of that intimate consumption as well?

  87. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 7:08 PM

    This is where we went last night:
    It’s the best place in Gloucester, though for a small city we are fortunate to have several excellent options.
    Duckworth’s has opened a small market, which I love
    (hate the big fluorescent markets) for cheese and pate ~ took their panini to my son at his new flat with two friends at uni yesterday.
    We had a small feast on their tiny balcony, then I duly admired his exciting new decor of pub mirrors, sofas gleaned from the roadside, and the bar they are building.
    They’ve varnished the top and next plan to tile the front of it.
    He introduced me to the invention of the ‘kegerator’

    Does everyone but me know about this item?
    They are making it by drilling a hole in an old fridge, which somehow allows them to produce draught beer on tap.
    They invite everyone to parties, charge $5 a pint and net some cash for new accoutrements, such as their enormous high-def screen. He couldn’t have been more chuffed.
    You have these wonders to look forward to soon, Re.
    In between all the male-nesting excitement, we had a few words about his studies…

    • Reine permalink
      September 17, 2010 8:45 PM

      We’ll definitely go to Duckworth’s when I come on my hols (!) Hic. I laughed when I saw they offer a “ubiquitous” salad.

      Never heard of a kegerator but your son sounds like a real entrepreneur. What is he studying?

      All this talk of cigarettes is giving me terrible yens. Am trying to steer clear after a summer where all my sneaky “ones” ran into each other. I haven’t smoked full time for about ten years but I love them. Not a good weakness in my case.

  88. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 7:13 PM

    If smoking were making me short of breath, causing me to cough incessantly or affecting my circulation etc. I’d quit: but I’m as healthy as a horse. My grandmother smoked 60 cigarettes a day and died peacefully, of old age, in her sleep at 86…I intend to do the same. Anyway, I mostly smoke cigars, now. Don’t smoke nearly as much or inhale as often.

    Basically, my position is that if something (bad diet, lack of exercise, smoking, drugs, alcohol) is affecting your health, then you should change your habits.

    It’s also interesting to look at a graph charting the increase in cancer and heart disease over the 20th century and a graph charting the increasing consumption of meat, sugar and over-refined, over-processed, fatty foods over the same period.

    The rise in one almost exactly matches the rise in the other.

    People have smoked for 500 years but cancer and heart disease, until the advent of the ‘modern’ diet in the early 20th century, were relatively rare.

    I suspect the combination of smoking, drinking and bad diet is what’ll do you in, but bad diet most of all.

    I’m not going to get my undies in an uproar about what might happen to me in the future unless I see evidence of it happening to me now.

    Life’s a tough proposition and nobody gets out alive…

  89. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 7:28 PM

    I appreciate your account, as that was a sincere enquiry.
    500 yrs is perhaps a conservative number, I suppose it’s based on tobacco cultivation, but other sorts of smoking must go much farther back. Also very much agree about the combination of factors leading to disease, and would throw in the genetic influence as well, even if only at 10-20%.

    but 60 cigarettes/day? that’s dedication.
    Is you mother still living?

  90. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 7:39 PM

    She is but she has never smoked, oddly enough. The rest of my family–grandparents, father, uncles, brothers, sisters etc are all smokers…

  91. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 8:00 PM

    So, please forgive my insatiable curiosity, but where are you amongst all those sibs?

  92. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 8:56 PM

    The oldest (sigh)…

  93. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 9:03 PM

    Me too. And Hic as well if I’m not mistaken.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 17, 2010 9:13 PM

      Indeed. Always wanted an older brother, but in truth I’m classic a birth-order tyrant.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 17, 2010 9:16 PM

      ‘a classic’
      …classic keyboard diskinesia; how’s anyone to recognise deliberate jokes when my typing is such a mess?

    • Reine permalink
      September 17, 2010 9:18 PM

      No brothers and a very shy and private father can lead to insatiable “curtiosity”. I had to rely on other means of information acquisition.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 17, 2010 9:27 PM

      Yes, well, you didn’t really want that information from your father anyway.
      You were right about the end of sandal season (should’ve listened) but I’ve seen fur boots with open toes!
      Won’t be sporting those myself.

    • Reine permalink
      September 17, 2010 10:23 PM

      Oh God no but even a chance sighting would have given me an idea what to expect. Then again, no two are the same (or so I’m told).

      I’m in my long leather boots today, chilly here and I was strolling pre-lunch.

      Just made a lemon and blueberry cake – it’s in the oven, on tenterhooks awaiting outcome.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 17, 2010 11:28 PM

      Hold the throat slitting; there was some good news…

  94. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 9:11 PM

    ‘satiable curtiosity’ … from The Elephant’s Child.
    Hasn’t killed the cat yet.

  95. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:18 PM

    I was the oldest and youngest in my family.

  96. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 10:47 PM

    Poor America. The latest rising political star, Christine O’Donnell is a beauty:

    Today new details emerged of an interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly in November 2007 in which she made the claim, without any foundation, that: “American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.” —The Grauniad, today

    …and I’ll bet they were Socialist, atheist mice, too.

    As H.L. Mencken once wrote:

    “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

  97. Reine permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:51 PM

    Ah, we were only talking about Christine yesterday at work. She’s some tulip.

  98. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 11:30 PM

    Oh [Ed.], my throat slitting comment cropped up in the blueberry cake.
    I’m having a day of it…

  99. mishari permalink*
    September 17, 2010 11:40 PM

    I’ve seen Ms. Warren on Jon Stewart a couple of times and she was very impressive. I can see why the Republicans and their paymasters on Wall St are scared shitless of her. If only Obama had been as focused and less in thrall to the banksters…

  100. hic8ubique permalink
    September 17, 2010 11:53 PM

    Still, a good indication not to fall on our swords yet, M.

    We’ll go here too, Reine://

    and this is a great local place:

    then we’ll head to Cambridge for Dali, which is the best:

    It’s not that I don’t care about good food, but the communal palate among my family-still-in-res. is , sorry to say, bland and tentative.
    My Beloved and his daughter (yes, mine too, but not in this regard), the ‘Wee Twist’, are iceberg lettuce enthusiasts.
    A ‘salad’ is comprised of palest lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, maybe an avocado. That’s all that is permitted. An olive? they wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole, never mind aioli, frightening substance. No capers, nothing pickled, no no no nothing beyond the most pedestrian.

    Despite this, you will adore the Spouse, Re. He’s much more gregarious than me, and I’m not one of those clingy territorial women who hover nervously; couldn’t live that way.
    Do you have wild blueberries in Ireland?

  101. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 12:05 AM

    Good morning cake fans!

    Put down the rosary beads… the cakes (one for a new house visit tomorrow, one to keep) turned out marvellously.

    I have never seen wild blueberries Hic which is not say they do not exist. Jack would be a better source on this.

    Well, it’s a date Hic. We’ll paint the town when I’m out of the red.

    Capers would send the two men here into a frenzy; rocket and spinach are the leaves of choice and olives and anchovies are spurned at all costs except when they don’t know I’ve added them (anchovies) to a stew or casserole.

    I am always nun-like around the spouses of friends Hic. Would be delighted to meet him I’m sure but if he whispers “where did you find her?” I will devastated.

  102. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 12:10 AM

    MM, you’re a terrible titillator, dropping in like that, raising one’s hopes and leaving one high and dry. I won’t ask if we are boring you; the answer might offend.

  103. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 12:31 AM

    Phil Collins is on Jools, where has he been all these years … and would he consider going back there?

  104. hic8ubique permalink
    September 18, 2010 1:12 AM

    On the dog watch:
    Imogen Tutu and I are walking earlier now that dogs are officially allowed on the beach again for the off-season
    (equipped with bag, MM). This evening looked like a convocation of the Scottie&Westie Club, with a handful of Golden Retrievers thrown in, sopping wet Labs always in evidence.
    He would never say that, Re. He once took a friend of mine on his knee and sang some ‘Peggy’ song to her, she thinks he looks like Paul Newman. Well, how PN did look. He plays a marvellous ‘Lament for Limerick’… you know, a charmer.

    I never worry about how cakes will turn out. Do you have a dicky oven? (Don’t answer that) I don’t bake more than once a week or so. We’ve recently been having recurrent boxes of sweets from ‘Mike’s Pastry’ in the North End of Boston. I mostly ignore them, but there’s a marzipan macaroon…

    The singular singleton did make a very brief showing.
    Too much girl chat, MM?

  105. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 18, 2010 5:19 AM

    No, carry on girls.

    The cake thing has my mouth watering. So much so that I’m sending accusatory frowns up the stairs to Mrs HLM for not baking one. Mind you, it is rather early in the morning for all that. I awoke at four after a very vivid dream in which I had murdered Neil Young (which should please MM. It also, strangely, coincides with this weekend’s NYAS convention in South London, which I am obviously not attending). It’s never the murder that upsets me, just the getting found out. Does that say something about my twisted psyche?

    This popped up while I was searching for an Elvis Costello video, BION. It features the Lucky Star Amusements, and other places I worked in the past. I even stayed at the Flamingo…

  106. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 9:52 AM

    I only worried about the cake Hic because I made up the recipe (well, I really only added to a basic madeira mix – lemon curd, zest and juice if Mrs. Henry would like to try it and lots of blueberries scattered on top – not added to the mixture in the bowl because they would completely disintegrate and turn the mix purple. Shake a thin layer of sugar over the blueberries before putting the cake in the oven). Nice old fashioned kind of cake to accompany tea in china cups. I bake a good cake if I say so myself but don’t really hold with recipes, I go by eye and feel in this as in other areas. Like gardening…

    Paul Newman-Hic&ubique sounds too good to be true – if you ever come here, you are liable only to be bored to death by tales of marvellous sporting feats, an episode by episode analysis of The Wire or tales of obscure bands; a lot of nodding is required. Moreover, he has a heavy accent which, after all these years, not even I can make out sometimes. But he did tell me I looked “savagely beautiful” the other day so he has his moments. This is more a reflection of his devotion to me than any measure of objectivity, I might add.

    I’m off shortly to bear cake to far flung places… Enjoy the day.

  107. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 9:54 AM

    oh, and politics, we talk a lot of politics in this house, often heatedly.

  108. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 18, 2010 10:58 AM

    A bit knaquered last night, so I went to bed. I see my historically accurate comment that Hitler was a Catholic has been deleted while atf’s rant has been allowed to stand. TANJ!

    Living as you do in the world capital of patisserie my sympathy for you is nil, HLM. When your choice is limited to Tesco Iced Buns or McVitie’s Jamaica Ginger Cake I’ll get my handkerchief out.

    Today I replace a rotted fence post. I have a possibly unique technique (which I’m sure will interest freep): dig out a hole to expose one side of the concrete lump the post sits in, then chisel away enough of the concrete to be able to extract the old post, like a rotten tooth. Then you have a ready-made socket to slot the new post in to. Simply concrete in the stuff you’ve chiselled out and the job’s done. All right, chiselling costs a couple of hours, but you save the labour of digging out the whole chunk, a lot of extra concrete (green bonus) and you don’t need to wait so long for the stuff to go off. I recommend the method to you all.

  109. mishari permalink*
    September 18, 2010 11:30 AM

    Jesus…cake baking, fence posts…this place has turned into a combination of The Women’s Institute and The Farmer’s Union.

    I saw that deletion, MM. They also deleted a post from Phil Hole (who’s turned being a charmless boor into an art form) informing Carol that her name, with him, was ‘mud’. Carol must be gutted…

  110. hic8ubique permalink
    September 18, 2010 2:03 PM

    Thanks for waving us through, Moon. You have an interest in music and neuroscience? Say more about that, please.
    I can just imagine soon watching real time brain-scans during different pieces of music, even full-body piezoelectric field scans…

    ‘Savagely beautiful’! You never mentioned he’s a poet, Re.
    That’s worth a lot of cake. I do approve; lemon and blueberry is an excellent combination. (If you can get the small ones, they don’t fall apart.) The trifle fete will happen here today at last.

    MM, if you say the word, I’m fairly certain the finest cakes will begin to arrive…
    Wouldn’t it be simpler to leave the concrete intact and root out the punky old wood, leaving a ready socket?

    Farmers’ Union. Indeed, ‘From Our Own Trees’.
    I managed to muster up a political comment yesterday.
    Do I get cake?

  111. hic8ubique permalink
    September 18, 2010 2:28 PM

    I thought William Shimell was getting my mustelidae classification for the week, but now that David Tennant is in the running, it’ll have to go to him.
    For Quiz, I’d have to consider crustaceans.

  112. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 18, 2010 3:13 PM

    I was just preparing something for Hole when he suddenly pissed off. It’ll keep.

    Tried that, hic. Leverage, chisel, petrol, sulphuric acid… nothing works. The post stump swells once it’s in place, making it impossible to remove without some wiggle room.

    This came on the mp3 while I was chiselling. A contribution to the great Ratzo debate:

  113. hic8ubique permalink
    September 18, 2010 3:44 PM

    Even so, I would want to drill into the plug with a large drill-bit, or other boring tool, to weaken it sufficiently to dig out the rest, before resorting to chiselling concrete.

    Just theoretically of course, for the sake of the problem-solving argument, not that I really want to do this.
    Admittedly, my experience in such troubles comes from the realm of uncooperative wine-corks.

  114. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 18, 2010 5:15 PM

    Wine corks are comparatively simple. Use a no.2 chisel (tungsten tipped for preference), club hammer and safety spex. Strike the neck above the level of the wine and when the top comes off simply batter the piece with the cork in it until it comes free. Pour the wine away (it will probably have glass in it), place the cork on your dining table and admire. Cheers!

  115. hic8ubique permalink
    September 18, 2010 6:47 PM

    Is there anyplace people still use that construction:
    “don’t let’s”?

  116. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 18, 2010 7:27 PM

    Don’t let’s get into that.

  117. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 8:07 PM

    You started it with your chocolate chip cookies Fanny!

    When I set up the mail order business, I will take orders for your favourite confections. First delivery gratis.

    Something with raspberries for Hic, a Twirl roulade or black forest gateau for MM, maybe a tarte aux poires for HLM, apricots in armagnac for Mishari…

    Fencing? I’m stumped.

  118. hic8ubique permalink
    September 18, 2010 8:25 PM

    oo, getting paunchy just reading this…I should learn to make pear-almond tart. I love it, and it would probably be popular enough I wouldn’t end up eating most of it myself.
    I might try to pinch a few of M’s armagnac apricots…

  119. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 18, 2010 9:18 PM

    unerring arrowroot to my heart
    uncorrupted custard and gooseberry crumble
    unfettered by pear and almond tart
    uriah is heavy, maria is humble

  120. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 9:35 PM

    Henry, it will be a pleasure to dispatch to you.

  121. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 9:47 PM

    Moving on from culinary concerns, did I mention my as yet unfulfilled ambition to be a tambourine-playing backing singer for … well, for anyone?

    I like this from Elvis C.

  122. hic8ubique permalink
    September 18, 2010 10:43 PM

    I would’ve thought zills for you, Re, but I’m learning.

    My Harvard lawyer/mediator friend once said to me, oddly enough:
    ‘You never regret not becoming an investment banker, do you?’
    and I said:
    ‘No, I don’t regret, certainly not that, except I might have enjoyed being a cellist in a symphony orchestra.”

    but, even that’s not true; that would have to be in another lifetime, when I’m more cooperative.

  123. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 10:57 PM

    Hic, funny you mention zills, I had a brief flirtation with belly dancing last year but it fizzled out. A lot more to it than a bit of hip shaking.

    I’d like to have been an actress.

  124. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 18, 2010 11:13 PM

    Political Dreams

    Listening to the Milibands,
    those two pretty straight guys,
    I feel my subconscious demands
    that I should close my eyes.

    When I hear young Andy Burnham,
    that pasty little drip,
    suddenly I don’t give a damn:
    I think I need a kip.

    Considering Diane Abbott
    and Mr Edward Balls,
    for her I think I’ll need a cot
    for him, my bedtime calls.

    When David strikes a leader’s pose
    on the conference stage
    I find that I’m inclined to doze
    in oily verbiage.

    But when I see that Nicky Clegg
    then I’m awake at last
    now’s the time I show a leg
    and kick his rotten arse.

  125. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 18, 2010 11:27 PM

    So how did the cake go down?

    • Reine permalink
      September 18, 2010 11:30 PM

      My gay best friend whose house we visited was thrilled with it. He adores cake, women and men in that order.

    • Reine permalink
      September 18, 2010 11:32 PM

      Are you exhausted post-fence fixing?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 18, 2010 11:34 PM

      My arm is still vibrating from chiselling.

    • Reine permalink
      September 18, 2010 11:36 PM

      You’ll have to chisel something with the other arm to even out the tremors so that you don’t fall over.

  126. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 11:28 PM

    MM’s comment to Henry brought back happy memories of a rainy day in Paris some years ago. It was pouring down and en route back to the hotel, sodden and cold, we picked up some divine pastries in Ladurée, ordered tea to the room, opened the windows and revelled in pleasure. I think I had a Religieuse…

  127. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 18, 2010 11:32 PM

    All right, what’s a religieuse?

  128. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 11:34 PM

    A breast-shaped iced, custard-filled, choux pastry. Divine.

  129. Reine permalink
    September 18, 2010 11:41 PM
  130. hic8ubique permalink
    September 18, 2010 11:42 PM

    Suddenly, every male PH reader is gettin’ religion.

  131. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:00 AM

    Bite me…

    Here’s a nice bun.

  132. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:01 AM

    I never had a Religieuse, but I do remember the Parisian tarts. BennyHillTM.

    I don’t think a breast-shaped cake would be paticularly erotic. I suppose it depends on the quality of the pastry. A pale brown might be a reasonable simulacrum of some types of human skin, but the leathery stuff on the eclairs in the local rat bakery (as it’s universally known) resembles that on a mummy.

  133. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:06 AM

    Boom, boom MM.

    I have finally mastered the link thing, hurrah.

  134. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:12 AM

    That nipple looks like it could do your teeth some serious damage.

  135. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:14 AM

    Would ya risk it?

  136. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:23 AM

    Christ, no. I haven’t got that many teeth left.

    Anyway, must take my vibrating arm to bed. A bientot!

  137. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:25 AM

    Wise man. Better keep that arm out over the covers. Sleep well.

  138. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:36 AM

    A dream song. Goodnight all.

  139. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:53 AM

    Few pleasures beat whacking concrete with a cold chisel and nurturing a dead arm into the night. But some pleasures, really, should be left alone.

    I see that the mods have been exterminating posts again. Mind you, Quizarse was just bloody unreadable. Strange how the past weeks have been over on POTW: one lunatic leaves and another rushes in to fill the void. It’s all very odd.

    Speaking of sweet things, I always liked to say blancmange but could never bear to eat it.

    Jack Brae

  140. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:55 AM

    While I think of it, just posted a dream song, of sorts, over on PP.

  141. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 1:10 AM

    That first verse is really powerful Jack. Won’t you perp it?

  142. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 19, 2010 6:05 AM

    I have something in common with Reine’s gay best friend. This week I are been mostly eating a religeuse (nun-shaped) and an eclair (penis-shaped).

  143. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:08 AM

    So what’s your technique, HLM? Nibbler or licker?

  144. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:12 AM

    When in suitable company, I like to lick

  145. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:13 AM

    Dirty boy.

  146. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:18 AM

    Wow. Am I giving too much away? I could swear your breath was bated, R.

  147. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:20 AM

    Just lying on the couch trying to regain my composure. Tempted to use Hic’s “say more about that please” but it’s Sunday so I’ll hold back.

  148. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:33 AM

    Were Hic a history teacher, she would probably scrawl “Develop!” in red ink in the margin. That’s something I miss on the web: handwritten annotations. I had a bookworm neighbour (until recently) who kept me supplied with books of all sorts. Rarely was a chapter unadorned.

    Not the sort of thing you normally think of on a Sunday with a tricky fixtiure at Stamford Bridge to contemplate, but we’re busy trying to unclutter the house prior to putting it on the market. Mrs HLM is upstairs, in charge of clothes. I’m in the basement with hundreds of books. There are entire collections of Conrad and Donleavy that I’m never likely to look at again. The hard ones to ditch are mystery novels. There’ll come a time when they can all be recycled to a fading memory. As it stands, I can’t remember sixty percent of them.

    Must go, something fell downstairs…

  149. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:42 AM

    God, I feel your pain. Good luck with the decluttering – hope some wealthy buyers come nibbling.

  150. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:47 AM

    If they don’t, I’m licked.

  151. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:49 AM

    You’d probably enjoy that.

  152. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:52 AM

    Are you a pensioner or a tangerine?

  153. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:14 PM

    As you all seem to have cakes and sweet-things on the brains I suppose I had best answer Hic’s question way up the thread (which I’d totally forgotten about): re wild blueberries in Ireland.

    If by these you mean the common bilberry, also known as the whortleberry (known hereabouts in Kerry as “hurtz”) or the blaeberry, then the answer is yes. There’s also the small and very black crowberry, but that one is very much an acquired taste. (Although I’ve eat that one too, in the past – haven’t seen any in a long long while. I kind of eat anything really – found some wonderfully appley haws the other day, growing out of a hedge.)

    Jack Brae

  154. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 19, 2010 12:20 PM

    And to continue the fruit theme, I’m a tangerine. A sandgrown’un, as they say up Blackpool way.

  155. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 3:42 PM

    H, you did give rather a big hint upstream which I stupidly failed to take in; too busy ogling David Morrisey.

  156. hic8ubique permalink
    September 19, 2010 4:11 PM

    So, same genus as the N.American blueberry, but different species…seeing into this, I found that our celebrated lingon is called ‘cowberry’ in English.
    I’m not so keen on jutron, the golden cloudberry; as you say, an acquired taste, or they say in Sweden, a ‘special’ taste.
    Thanks, JBC, don’t you be tasting yew berries now.
    I like a nip of juniper, myself, and leaves of the wintergreen.

    David Morrissey has a bit of Liam Neeson about him, I’d say.
    Sorry the belly-dancing fizzelled, Re. I’d think it a perfect fit for you. Everything new feels awkward at first.
    Here are some true quotations from Salsa class partners of mine:
    (Guess who I love best)

    Jay: ‘Why are you laughing?’

    Al: ‘I’m not afraid of you.’

    Claud: ‘I won’t let you fall.’

  157. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 4:16 PM

    I would go for Al personally but perhaps Claud was the more reassuring?

    A lot of very intense, slightly unhinged-seeming women did the belly dance class – I liked the dance bit but the company less so. Might try salsa.

  158. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 4:21 PM

    D.M. is MUCH sexier than L.N. in my opinion but not quite as sexy as Philip Glenister.

  159. hic8ubique permalink
    September 19, 2010 4:23 PM

    HLM~ I so appreciate you margin scrawling. I scribble up my books without hesitation, and in a new colour each reading.
    This is also the best aspect of book-sharing for me, to see what parts a friend has marked.

    Are you leaving France?
    What is downstairs from your basement?
    and not least
    What is the secret meaning of pensioner vs tangerine?

    curious and foxing

  160. hic8ubique permalink
    September 19, 2010 4:50 PM

    Then you’d like Trevor Eve as well, I imagine, Re.

    Al is the better dancer, calls himself my ‘second-favourite partner’ (after our teacher), but Claud is an absolute darling, tall, Haitian, and all heart.
    (I suspect if he needs to say he’s not afraid of you, he’s secretly/wishfully screwing up his courage.)

    I think I recall the belly-dancing sort you mean…lots of patchouli oil?
    Try Salsa~ a healthy addiction, fun shoes;
    though you might like Flamenco even better for its ‘actress’ qualities, but talk about intense… try both.

  161. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 5:09 PM

    Yes, a bit of that Hic and a preponderance of “we don’t need men to enjoy ourselves” kind of vibe. Which, of course, we don’t … not all the time… but I felt I had stumbled into an ultra feminist branch of the belly dancing union. There was one pan pipes type who laughed hysterically all the time even if you just said hello to her, another girl who never smiled and wore a big woolly jumper throughout the class and a French woman who leapt around the small changing room naked for an unnecessarily long time. Quite the motley crew.

    Trevor Eve is ok, I had a big thing for Alan Rickman for a while; bumped into him – literally – in Dublin one day and went into a right old swoon.

  162. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 19, 2010 6:59 PM

    Chelsea (pensioners) 4 Blackpool (tangerines) 0

    I live in a small workers cottage in a gated street of seventy-six such houses just outside the Paris périphérique in Clichy. Three floors, a basement (with ghost) and a very small garden. The ‘downstairs’ (above) was not relative to me. Which explains that one quite neatly.

    And are we leaving France? Burning question. Not before next summer, anyway. Never, in an ideal world. But the pull of Hampshire is increasing with every supplementary tuition bill. Thankfully Mrs HLM works at the school, so we pay a percentage of fees, but when the full-price non-discounted bill arrives every August, I have to take days off work and eat nothing but rice and kaolin.

    On a more positive note, we”ve been here for twenty-five years and I for one would welcome living somewhere where I can walk the dog in the open air, as opposed to a built-up area. Basement living has turned me into somebody who moves over short distances like Private Godfrey. I would slot quite nicely into the Blackpool midfield…

  163. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 19, 2010 9:03 PM

    Your boys took a hell of a beating, HLM. If you move to Hants stay west of Southampton water.

    You’re a risk-taker, Jack. Ever tried a snowberry? A ‘friend’ convinced me they were harmless (I was 9). I was puking for hours, much to his amusement. I haven’t eaten a non-kosher berry since.

  164. Reine permalink
    September 19, 2010 10:42 PM

    Sleep Spite

    Your snoring is the Casio keyboard
    that accompanies my sleepless strife
    Your competing rhythms synthesise
    As I battle to close my eyes

    How I envy your off button and wish you had one
    “‘night babe”, turn over and gone
    Out like the proverbial light
    As I face another sleepless night

    If you dream, it is of Liverpool winning
    Or maybe your lost calling as a socialist
    How contrary we are my sleeping prince
    You the prickly pear to my soft quince

    Even in your sleep you frown
    inactively by virtue of your monobrow
    Like Sam the eagle from the Muppet Show
    Alarming in a moonlight glow

    I can’t be happy for your nightly peace
    Begrudge you your comfortable ease
    Oscillate between the urge to kill
    And kiss, then take a sleeping pill

    By morning, I will love you again

  165. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 19, 2010 11:21 PM

    MM, I’m highly impressed that you survived your snowberry. It’s a sure sign that you’re a poet, although at this stage no sign is really needed, but your single snowberry meal was your initiation into the Mysteries. No need to eat another one, though.

    Hic, Yew berries, if the red outer sleeve is pressed extremely gently between the forefinger and thumb, will exude a sugary mess which can be taken on the tip of the tongue. If the first dollop doesn’t kill you, then a second berry can be tried by the adventurous. But never exceed two berries under any circumstances whatsoever. Personally, I would not recommend this rare treat unless you have a very good reason for doing so. (Like a death wish.) If the berry is not squeezed with the greatest of care then the glop will most probably be polluted by the highly poisonous toxins contained in the blackish-brown central core and you will most likely die.

    MM, do not try the above. You’ve been initiated enough already.

    Jack Brae

  166. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:37 AM

    I was going to ask earlier if Him Indoors was a Man Utd fan. I’m glad I didn’t.

    The rosehip had another use beside making that repulsive syrup. Broken up, the stuff inside could be forcibly shoved down the back of other chaps’ shirt collars, making them itch for some time. If the matron left the laundry room door open it was possible to sneak in and apply it to the underwear of your enemies (and your friends, of course). What fun!

  167. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:56 AM

    Never knew of that usage for rosehips. We just used the hairy innards of the good old itchyball, fruit of the Horse Chestnut. We were obviously common boys.

    I’ve heard that the Hungarians make a thin jam from rose petals, but I’ve never tried or even seen it. Anyone here had that one on toast? (Or on anything?)

  168. hic8ubique permalink
    September 20, 2010 3:32 AM

    Re~ I especially like the prickly pear/soft quince and the kill/kiss juxtapositions. You must realise Him Indoors now looks exactly like Sam Eagle in my mind’s eye. Oh dear.

    I well remember the fascinating saliva-like mucilage of the yew berry, but never tasted the potions we concocted from them as children.
    I’ve only heard of rose-hip jelly, never tried it, rose petal jam sounds good, but speaking of Mysteries, I do know a musician who has been to Peru for the purpose of participating in ayahuasca rituals.

    Moon~ no wonder Mrs Moon isn’t baking for you just now. I hope you’ll find a place where you can walk the dog and air your soul, and have a desk where the sun comes in.
    That sounds a Very Good Idea, and more important than political boundaries, to my mind anyway.Twenty-five years is probably long enough for any endeavour, especially in a basement, but… do say more about your ghost.

    Mishari must be crafting something for us.

  169. Reine permalink
    September 20, 2010 8:44 AM

    MM, I was in the kitchen yesterday making coffee and his friend phoned – after a mere “hello”, HI who was watching the Liverpool game launched into a detailed commentary on the match for about ten minutes, who was playing where, the progress to date, who he would have had playing, who was running where and passing to whom … and then abruptly hung up. I inquired if he was doing some voluntary work with visually impaired football fans (very witty of me I thought) and he replied drily “No, that was Paul, he’s driving”. This bond of sport among men never ceases to amaze me. He would make a very good commentator actually but there would be a lot of bleeping.

    Hic, he does look like Sam except he’s not blue. Thanks, I liked the pear and quince thing, the rest was just dross really but I felt like a poem at bedtime.

  170. September 20, 2010 10:33 AM

    Sadly the Bologna Book Fair was, at the last minute, re-located to Great Yarmouth.

    It was a good festival but instead of hob-nobbing with Lady Antonia Frazer, Simone de Beauvoir, the Brutalists and Nelson Muntz I ended up talking to a lorry driver who turned out to be a racist.

    One of our team went to the late night festival party. He was chatting to a security man who said ” No point getting friendly with me, it’ll give me time to recognise your face and make sure you won’t be allowed in here again”.

  171. September 20, 2010 2:26 PM


    That lorry driver *is* a Brutalist. Haven’t read the work of Kevin “Kevin” Forehead? “Lorry”? The novel? Opens with, “I am driving the lorry again. Tonight I will have three pints and a plate of something at the paki’s but now I am driving the lorry.”

    Erm, what is Simone working on these days…?

  172. September 20, 2010 3:02 PM

    Steven Ah I see. He did keep asking me whether I was “on the lorry” or “off it”. I thought he was merely mental but now I realise he was slyly referencing Ken Kesey via Tom Wolfe.

    I don’t know what Simone is up to these days but she is definitely not “on the lorry”.

  173. hic8ubique permalink
    September 20, 2010 5:45 PM

    A pleasure to see you again Steven. I was looking at one of your threads recently, the one about Gates, to which Mishari has linked, and found it helpful with regard to the ‘racist milieu’. I had a conversation inspired by it with my son, just this past week.

  174. September 20, 2010 5:55 PM


    what still “blows my mind” on that Gates event (and I am no fan of Gates, btw) is the near-unanimity of opinion in the *Liberalish*, college-educated wing of the Bloggoblob that Gates was “foolish” to talk-back to a cop. Now, that’s a well-trained populace!

  175. mishari permalink*
    September 20, 2010 6:07 PM

    If it had happened to that scumbag Dershowitz, you may be certain he would have screamed blue murder about the ‘…new fascism that stalks our land, its attack-dog, antisemitism, at its jack-booted heels etc etc…’.

    However, an American black male (who has already beaten the odds by not being incarcerated or shot dead) should learn to be more polite to police officers who are allowing him to exercise his constitutional freedoms.

    As Steven says, the ‘Liberal’ concensus seemed to be that Gates was ‘an uppity nigra’ who asked for it.

    Astonishing…and depressing.

  176. hic8ubique permalink
    September 20, 2010 6:36 PM

    Liberalish ivy educated individuals have recently irritated me with what seem crude and facile expostulations in response to a painfully complex problem.
    I don’t recall much about Gates, but your thread was thought provoking for me as someone who prefers to select in favour of racial diversity (which is a sort of ‘racism’ , I think, or perhaps inverse racism?) but, feeling that, personally gives little more consideration to social context.
    Maybe it’s always foolish for anyone to talk back to a cop.(I have a friend who is still coping with injuries incurred in doing so.) But our failure to look beyond that loses the entirety of the picture.
    One evening last week at dusk, I was crossing a long narrow footbridge when the only other person present was a younger Black man in black bulky clothes with long dreads, slumped posture, and a scowl, and looking me directly in the eye. I did what I usually do in such an encounter and smiled as we approached each other.
    Half his face immediately lit up in a brilliant white smile, and I realised that what we so readily read as aggression/danger is a defensive posture in anticipation that the ‘white lady’ is gonna have a bad reaction to the encounter at his expense.

    That’s not an unusual experience for me; 90% of encounters with strangers I get a positive response, but usually I must be the one to express welcome first, especially with black men, and women as well.
    Something about ‘racist milieu’ made me understand how this is. That it’s not enough to be personally complacently ok, but because of context I have a responsibility to be the one to break the ice.
    People will say ‘I have Black friends’, or ‘I have Gay friends’, but it’s not a matter of relationship with friends, is it?
    It’s about how we receive ‘the Stranger’.
    I’m not saying I perfectly get this, but I’m getting better at getting this.

  177. September 20, 2010 7:52 PM

    hic, Mish:

    I think quite a bit of social engineering has gone into all this; I think we take for granted the sense that different groups will fear/resent/demonize one another *naturally*, when it’s always been my experience that, in the absence of unnatural (and sinister) external pressure, natural curiosity usually drives groups to interact in a friendly way… and that’s not to mention the mongrelizing, bio-hygienic force of exogamy.

    Groups only naturally become hostile and exclusive when they’re being forced to compete for food/shelter/sexual partners. In Lands of Plenty (ie the “developed world”), this factor should pose no threat. White college students and Black college students and Asian college students, in other words, should be getting on like a house on fire (ignoring the fact that they shouldn’t be so segregated, in the first place, after all these generations, as to leave so much to be curious about). There should, with so much food and shelter available to most of the population, be mind-boggling amounts of mingling.

    But then the Television/Radio/Newspaper/Internet hydra and its fear-mongering demagogues (of the rightwing and bien pensant persuasion, both) make sure to fix that because, after all, the last thing you want, if you’re trying to play Kaiser, is to have all the Serfs unite and re-direct hostile eyes towards the Kaiser-class, instead.

    (That last clause in the last sentence isn’t any less true for being the hoariest cliche in the Dissident Handbook, btw! laugh)

  178. September 20, 2010 7:55 PM

    (ooops, I see a variability in the handling of initial noun-letters, addressing Hic and mish, in my comment above, that was never intended to imply hierarchy! laugh)

  179. hic8ubique permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:31 PM

    I wouldn’t discount the motivation of the hydra, but given the abundance you refer to SA, I’d ask: why is there yet a perceived competition? I wonder why fear wins out against curiosity? In the way that we will continue to pursue excess in the midst of sufficiency, we will compete in the midst of plenty.
    I fault your controlling hydra and its abuse of power, but I also wonder what resides in the lower brain of the individual. Does our encoding for clan recognition underlie our behaviour so deeply that we require neo-cortical desensitisation (training/experience) in order to expand our definitions of clan/tribe to become increasingly inclusive?
    I don’t know, but I can’t readily think of cases where natural curiosity wins, except perhaps among young well-nurtured children…

    I was fascinated, and thrilled really, to read of the Israeli women smuggling Palestinian women to the Sea for a visit. It seems to me this sort of concerted exertion to over-ride the false security of clannishness is the most hopeful course for raising the octave, so to speak, and all in despite of the hydra.

    Anyway, I do appreciate those of you who wrestle with the broad sociological/political flashpoints and speak up, though my own orientation is very much on the one-to-one level, I get an earful and a shake-up that challenges my comfortable illusions and informs my perceptions.
    Now, must go walk that footbridge ~ laugh!~

    “We live in a time when there dawns upon us a realisation that the people living on the other side of the mountain are not made up exclusively of red-headed devils responsible for all the evil on this side of the mountain.”
    ~~ C.G. Jung, Meeting the Shadow

  180. September 20, 2010 11:42 PM

    “Does our encoding for clan recognition underlie our behaviour so deeply that we require neo-cortical desensitisation (training/experience) in order to expand our definitions of clan/tribe to become increasingly inclusive?”

    Hmm, well, Hic, suppose we take a given clan and sequester it on a desert island (almost wrote “dessert island” and immediately wondered about the absence of a chain of restaurants in that name, but we digress) with limited resources. Let’s make it worse by giving the ratio of men-to-women as 2-to-1 (well, “worse” for the men). At that point, I’m quite sure that all sense of a “clan” vanishes and reveals the concept to be highly circumstantial/ provisional.

    So, “training” isn’t necessary… Life does it all the time and quite effortlessly, I would think. But my argument may be weakened by the fact that I’m such a melange of genes (“races”) that I wouldn’t recognize the clan I belong to if it had its own hit TV show.

    Further: I think it’s an example of *social engineering* that we’ve been hammered with this “hard-wiring” apologia for all kinds of Xenophobic behaviors when it’s obvious that nurture is by-far the stronger force.

    Otherwise, how to explain the hypothetical “clannishness” of, say, three fiercely-patriotic, rightwing American males of Danish. Polish and Greek descent, resp., living in one particular neighborhood, attending the same Church, all huge fans of Rush Limbaugh? I’m pretty sure the genes would have little say in the matter if each of our three patriots was to deal with a Gay Hippie Communist from his respective gene pool…

    (“Reductio ad absurdum” does not, I beg you remember, mean “ridiculous argument”… laugh again)

    So, just as our three fantasy-patriots can be made to bond in violation of their genetic ID’s, so could it any other disparate group-members. Why can’t all the “middle class” (I mean: the poor with houses) be helped to bond as fiercely? Because it’s not wanted; because there are programs (literally: on TV) *against* that.

    Think of these very popular shows of a previous generation or two… Wonder Years, My Two Dads, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, Thirty-Something, Rosanne, Lou Grant, Mary Tyler Moore, MASH. What do you notice about them (give you five seconds to guess)? The Cosby Show was an exception so explicit that it could *only be viewed as an exception* (and Star Trek Next had the alibi that it was set centuries in the future). These fantasy shows were more segregated than real life (unless you live in deepest Appalachia or Switzerland) and they only served to reinforce the very unnaturalness of the idea of “Multi-Culti” in any sense more meaningful than a White Bohemian Male having an Asian girlfriend.

    It’s “programming” (what a word) like this, which people take so seriously that they actually *weep* when the shows are canceled (!) or when characters “die” (!), that have the greatest effect. And remember: these shows were aimed at Liberals!

  181. mishari permalink*
    September 20, 2010 11:50 PM

    When I see a hit sitcom in the US that features a cast wherein the black actors all play educated, articulate, high-earning, high-achievers and all the white characters play pig-ignorant, barely literate fuck-knuckles, whose functions are A.) to provide menial labour and B.) to provide comic relief…then I’ll take all this ‘integration’ horseshit a bit more seriously.

    I won’t hold my breath, though…

  182. September 21, 2010 12:08 AM

    If Britney played the sassy maid…!

  183. September 21, 2010 12:11 AM

    erratum (in comment before Mish’s latest): “so could it any other disparate group-members.”

    what I meant by this I’ll never know but the “it” needs to go at the very least…

  184. September 21, 2010 12:24 AM

    Actually, Mish, you’ve just written the treatment for a Sitcom Pilot called… THERE GOES MY NEIGHBORHOOD… in which a successful LA entertainment lawyer (Black) lets his college buddy (White) move into a make-shift apartment in the basement of his mansion. College buddy is of poor White origins (and, in fact, dropped out owing to drug issues)… eventually cajoles benefactor into letting his just-widowed mother (Betty White) move in with him. Soon enough, both grandmothers (feuders), a sister (slutty: Britney) and a cousin (precocious-but-criminally-inclined tween-boy) move in, too… hilarity ensues!

    It’s a hit!

  185. mishari permalink*
    September 21, 2010 12:27 AM

    I’ve seen your future, Steven…it’s wall-to-wall Emmys.

  186. hic8ubique permalink
    September 21, 2010 3:07 AM

    “Further: I think it’s an example of *social engineering* that we’ve been hammered with this “hard-wiring” apologia for all kinds of Xenophobic behaviors when it’s obvious that nurture is by-far the stronger force.”

    I’ll bear this in mind, and keep an interested eye out for it. I agree nurture is the stronger force, and include it in my sense of ‘training/experience’.
    The sitcom thing loses me, not just because I haven’t seen any since MTM and MASH, but because again it seems your orientation is the cultural ethos while mine is individual perception, including the idea of ‘clan’ as an affinity/identity not necessarily genetic.
    For what it may be worth, it’s still quite possible, and true in my experience, to be obviously in a racial majority, yet have the same feeling of ethnic mongrelisation and clan displacement.
    Also, I remember especially enjoying the exceptional work of Andre Braugher, though not on sitcoms.

  187. September 21, 2010 8:58 AM

    David Quantick and Jane Bussman ( writers for Chris Morris ) pitched a sitcom idea to the BBC about a well-adjusted junkie family. Their rationale was to give a positive look to the issues of addiction. It was not taken up.

    Irrelevant I know but when have I ever said anything that was relevant.

  188. September 21, 2010 9:05 AM

    Was thinking of a show that reverses the themes of The Wire but in fact a few years ago there was a documentary about 2 white heroin dealers in Rochdale. They were lard-arses and thought that heroin dealing would be an easy way of making quick money.

    In fact ( and obviously ) they ended up working longer more stressfull hours than they would have done if they ran an all-night corner shop.

    If you could ignore the death-threats from rivals, the mounting hysteria as they realised these threats were serious and the fact they were recklessly watering down the purity of what they sold with God knows what it was pretty funny stuff.

  189. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 21, 2010 10:13 AM

    No-one saw the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then? Almost exclusively black cast, mostly wealthy high-achieving types,
    white people generally treated with derision and sometimes contempt. It did go off a bit, but the earlier series were very funny. Extremely popular too, as far as I know: my kids and their friends (99% white) used to watch it avidly.

  190. mishari permalink*
    September 21, 2010 10:16 AM

    Sounds like a winner, Ed. I’m sorry I missed it. I imagine a lot of people are conned into imagining that drug-dealing is easy and glamorous by all the daft films they see.

    It’s only easy for the hands-off wholesale dealers in places like Colombia and Pakistan who deal in metric tons.

  191. mishari permalink*
    September 21, 2010 10:18 AM

    I never really watched it, MM, but it was an exception. Wasn’t that where Will Smith got his start?

  192. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 21, 2010 10:24 AM

    That’s right, he was definitely the Star, and became more so as the series went on, rather to its detriment I thought. There were some good actors who got more or less sidelined.

  193. September 21, 2010 10:27 AM

    Mishari if you had added a laughter track it wasn’t that far removed from some of those “edgy” comedies that are popular these days.

  194. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 21, 2010 10:55 AM

    Like Ideal, you mean? That must be one of the lowest points of UK TV. The point of Johnny Vegas simply passes me by. Maybe it’s because I’m a terroni.

    Got to go to the dentist now. Fuck.

  195. September 21, 2010 11:25 AM

    You’re a sort of pasta?

  196. mishari permalink*
    September 21, 2010 11:30 AM

    Ed, he means ‘terrone’ (terroni is plural); colloquial Italian: peasant, farmer, rube, rustic, hayseed…although I could be wrong and he is, in fact, a pasta…

  197. September 21, 2010 2:08 PM

    I spent some energetic years with a terrona, which is also a derogatory name that some Italians (i.e. Bossi and other fuckwits) give to Southerners.

  198. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 21, 2010 3:40 PM

    Southerner was what I was trying to convey with that incorrectly spelled word (picked it up from Parks), to demonstrate that I may not be on the same wavelength as Johnny. I’m also a fuckwit, of course.

Comments are closed.