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Nasty Little Words, Nasty Long Words

September 20, 2010


From the oldest surviving epic poem, The Story of Gilgamesh (3000 BCE) to the, erm…poetry of Michael Jackson, the world’s first stone-washed human being–(Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections, it’s full of lyrical rhinestones like:

I looked for you in hill and dale
I sought for you beyond the pale
I searched for you in every nook and cranny
My probing was at times uncanny

and was published by Doubleday in 1993)–the debate (if debate it is) never ends: what is poetry? Is it, as Coleridge stated “…the best words in their best order.”? This definition is widely accepted–as much, I suspect, in exhaustion and resignation as in any belief in its adequacy as a definition.

Is poetry Marianne Moore’s ‘…imaginary gardens with real toads in them?” I’ve always liked this definition; it’s pithy and memorable–but universal? Hardly.

Is it, as The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has it:

The art or work of a poet; composition in verse or metrical language, or in some equivalent patterned arrangement of language; the product of this as a form of literature, poems collectively; the expression or embodiment of beautiful or elevated thought, imagination, or feeling, in language and a form adapted to stir the imagination and emotions.

Well, yes…and no.

Is it Shelley’s “…a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.”?

Again, yes…and no.

Do we agree with Plato that “…Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.”?

Was Mallarmé right to say “It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.”?

Or does poetry have to have a job at all? Can it not merely ‘be’, without responsibilities or obligations or reasons?

Is a poet one of Shelley’s “…unacknowledged legislators of the world.”?

Or is a poet Kierkegaard’s “…unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music…”?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, so I reckon the only sensible thing to do is ask for poems about poetry and poets; keeping in mind, of course, Macaulay’s assertion that “…perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.”

I also want to alert you to a new collection, At the Fair, from our friend Tom Clark.

Iain Sinclair writes of it:

Doors swing open on this shock of light. Here you will experience scripts and mind-telegrams, shapely in nerve and essence, moving always, and moving on. A circus at the settlement’s edge: with memory-movies, new songs, and travellers’ tales. We are reminded of frontier days when poetry was the better politics, proud inside itself. As Tom Clark’s fresh voice echoes, and re-echoes, so beautifully, in the head. Across oceans and continents from Mediterranean California. And back. Mind kites in marine haze. Streaks. Showers.

Read more and buy the book HERE or at Amazon HERE.


In the meantime, I’ll leave the last word to Basil Bunting:

What The Chairman Told Tom

Poetry? It’s a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It’s not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that’s opera; or repertory –
The Desert Song.
Nancy was in the chorus.

But to ask for twelve pounds a week –
married, aren’t you? –
you’ve got a nerve.

How could I look a bus conductor
in the face
if I paid you twelve pounds?

Who says it’s poetry, anyhow?
My ten year old
can do it and rhyme.

I get three thousand and expenses,
a car, vouchers,
but I’m an accountant.

They do what I tell them,
my company.
What do you do?

Nasty little words, nasty long words,
it’s unhealthy.
I want to wash when I meet a poet.

They’re Reds, addicts,
all delinquents.
What you write is rot.

Mr Hines says so, and he’s a schoolteacher,
he ought to know.
Go and find work.

from First Book of Odes by Basil Bunting (1950)

  1. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:51 PM

    “You will be haunted,” resumed the Ghost, “by Three Poets.”


    Our fav’rite poet lives in the past
    Hand-crafts his verse upon a last
    Painstakingly stitching with boar-hair
    Probing his lines for wear and tear

    His lyric outpourings seem odd
    His subjects sober and slip-shod
    Shoe-horning sagas of Venusian Treens
    Into jerky Tolkienesque quatrains

    Exploring vast classical themes
    Like redemption and genes and memes
    Ending each tale with Yuletide gobblers
    And Tiny Tim: “What a load of cobblers.”


    Fag-packet pizza-box
    caravan carpet, broadband
    connection, itsgoodtotalk-generation
    counterculture minesahalf howl to all
    hell diss christmasmorning
    establishment as a matter of
    fact of course carping, harping on
    the carpetbaggers rock-band feel
    Fall, fell, climbers of bold, moss-covered
    metaphors of post-laureate tree-shakers
    shooing metre, marjoram and thyme
    meet her and rhyme away
    still hoping to be


    art is wot app Ns 2 U N me
    ain got no time 4 poetry
    an long word like himagaination
    tel santa 2 pss off innit


  2. mishari permalink*
    September 20, 2010 1:07 PM

    Great stuff, Hank. Your eye is not dimmed nor your natural force abated…to coin a phrase.

    Here is a fit subject for poetry. Who wouldn’t wish to be:

    “…I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;”?

  3. Reine permalink
    September 20, 2010 2:32 PM

    It’s not easy being me…

    Up hill and down dale
    All of nature inhale
    Then ink up the quill
    And let my thoughts swill

    Around in my head
    ’til I’ve plenty of lead
    In my pencil, as ‘t were
    Write them down, then demur

    It’s not as I thought
    All that was set at nought
    Valleys green, swains and maids
    Wildflower parades

    My point it is lost
    And my chin is embossed
    with a feathery trail
    I look tired and pale

    No matter, tomorrow
    A fresh well of sorrow
    Will doubtless unfold
    And great words I will mould

    I will make grown men weep
    While their mistresses sleep
    And make mistresses, trussed
    In their bodices, lust

    The ink it has hardened
    But let me be pardoned
    My opus will issue
    No more of this tissue

    Of febrile rhetoric
    And feeble allegoric
    I’ll be hailed as a great
    My words worth their weight

    in daffodils

  4. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 20, 2010 4:39 PM

    The Thought-Socks

    Lying in bed looking for a subject,
    the wheels turn, but I’m not going at all,
    every idea I have to reject:
    the lorry of poetry has hit a wall.

    It’s after midnight when I smell a smell
    rich enough to make the atmosphere glow,
    but it’s not the chicken sandwich which fell
    down the side of the bed a week ago:

    I think the dog had it as an entree.
    So, is it my unwashed body? Could be,
    but doing the armpit test there’s no way
    it pongs to an unacceptable degree.

    I think I changed the sheets around Xmas,
    and it’s only Easter, so it’s not that:
    maybe the dog gave the chicken a pass
    and I’m giving sanctuary to a rat.

    It looks like I’ll have to investigate,
    and after several olfactory shocks
    under the bed I finally locate
    the source: a cache of decaying socks.

    Christ, the bloody things smell like something dead,
    as though a corpse had played football in them:
    then suddenly a thought steps into my head,
    and I cobble it into a poem.

    • Reine permalink
      September 20, 2010 10:41 PM

      Chiselling and cobbling, you’re a busy fella these days.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 20, 2010 10:49 PM

      You wouldn’t want to be in my shoes. Unless you have very unusual feet.

    • Reine permalink
      September 20, 2010 10:52 PM

      My feet are probably the most pedestrian part of me. I certainly wouldn’t want to wear your socks.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 20, 2010 11:07 PM

      Too late. I parcelled them up and sent them to Nicky Clegg.

  5. Reine permalink
    September 20, 2010 5:05 PM

    In pursuit of poetry…

    You lost your muse, you say, sir
    Can you describe it for me?
    When did you have it last sir?
    Today at half past three

    Where was that then sir?
    Down beside the river?
    Sure you weren’t drinking sir?
    Might you need to rest your liver?

    No, no, then sir, I take it back
    Didn’t mean to cause offence
    I’m sure you keenly feel the lack
    And that your loss is quite intense

    We’ll put out an APB sir
    And keep you up to date on line
    And if we find the thief sir
    We’ll levy a small fine

    Very well, good day to you sir
    that takes care of that
    I hope we’ll find it soon sir
    Poetry? What a load of twat

  6. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 20, 2010 7:08 PM


    Poetry is the squashed frogs two summers ago
    all over the road with their spawn blown out

    Poetry can be many things but is most likely
    and most certainly not the thing you say it is

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  7. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 20, 2010 7:12 PM

    Good to see a new collection from Tom.

    Next year is his seventieth birthday and I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed.

  8. September 20, 2010 10:46 PM

    For unsoundness of mind, check out the poetry of S.W. at

    • InvisibleJack permalink
      September 20, 2010 11:10 PM

      Shaking Willy was undoubtedly one of the greatest surrealists of his time. Nothing backward about that boy in the least.

  9. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:51 PM

    The Poet

    The Poet is a striking chap
    with flashing eyes and floating hair
    nice until he opens his trap
    then please beware.

    Whatever your concerns might be
    in general it’s all about him
    when he starts his soliloquy
    it can be grim.

    His whining and moaning’s extreme,
    a monody of black despair
    and it’s all on a single theme:
    it’s so unfair!

    He’s disloyal, he has no shame
    he borrows and steals and he drinks,
    but women love him just the same.
    Or so he thinks.

  10. Reine permalink
    September 21, 2010 12:02 AM

    Poetry in Motion

    I knew a poet once
    Corduroyed and placid
    His words were sharply honed
    But his pen was often flaccid

    He blamed it on the drugs
    He took to stay awake
    Smoked a lot of grass
    Made him pale and made him shake

    I fancied that to be a muse
    I should dance to his attention
    So I cooked for him and washed his hair
    Filled the forms in for his pension

    And then one night his son called round
    To invite us to a gig
    He was a jazz musician
    Whose band was very big

    I watched him play the double bass
    In the club that night
    Longed for those fingers to caress
    me late into the night

    My poet saw that I was torn
    and wrote a painful ode
    … she hopped upon his steed of wood
    And off with him she rode

  11. hic8ubique permalink
    September 21, 2010 3:54 AM

    MM, I have the tiniest suggestion of a modification here:
    ‘I think the dog had it as an entree.’
    would you consider :
    I think the dog had ‘that’ as an entree.
    …wee bit better?
    Now I’m curious about your feet…?

    Reine~ Moon has now upped the ante in tribute poems to include pastiche. You retain the title ‘Milady of the Tribute’, but…
    [Thanks for the ghost stories, Henry. I’ll warmly accept that ‘x’, if I may be so bold.]

    and further:
    Who is this Dr Samuels, and what colour is his camera?

  12. mishari permalink*
    September 21, 2010 10:12 AM

    Here’s an ancient one, posted on POTW over 3 years ago:

    Ars Longa Vita Brevis

    My garden’s infested with poets
    All wandering lonely as clouds
    When the bastards aren’t trampling the roses
    They’re reciting, declaiming out loud

    I’ve set traps and laid out
    Poison bait for them
    But they’re all refusing to bite
    They’re driving us mad
    There’s no sleep to be had
    With them spouting half of the night

    I’m getting myself a machine-gun
    A language that they’ll understand
    And though it seems hard
    To slaughter a bard
    There’s only so much I can stand.

  13. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 21, 2010 10:19 AM

    All modifications welcome. I meant shoes that I’d made.

  14. September 21, 2010 12:10 PM

    And thank you very much for the mention, Mish.

    And Jack:
    “Next year is his seventieth birthday and I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

    It will probably not go unnoticed by me because I will be greatly surprised that it has happened; then again, if indeed I am surprisingly still here, I would be surprised to still be able to sort one date from the next, by that point.

    An inveterate watcher of the skies,
    when a squashed frog swims into view
    may be tolerably surprised,
    but that in itself would not represent anything new.

  15. September 21, 2010 12:20 PM

    The poet, splendid in his wrath phenomenal,
    with flashing eyes and floating hair.

    He’s dropped his toupee in the canal,
    has someone fished it out of there?

  16. mishari permalink*
    September 21, 2010 12:31 PM

    Not me.

    I look forward to your new collection, Tom (which I’ve ordered). I wonder if you’ve ever considered (and I know this may be anathema to you) reading some of your own work to camera and posting it on youtube?

    I know I (and certainly many others) who’ve not had the pleasure of hearing you read your own work would appreciate it.

  17. September 21, 2010 12:38 PM

    I’d second that sentiment.

    There’s a bloke near Dunfermline
    Who I get my ideas from, since you ask
    I’ve asked him for some poetic ones
    Let’s hope he’s up to the task.

  18. September 21, 2010 1:09 PM

    A lovely and flattering suggestion, Mish.

    “Those days are over, for you,” quoth my bandaged Muse.

    I hadn’t known they’d ever begun.

    Ed, you have put me in mind of Sir Patrick Spens. Nothing like an old ballad to put a bit of rust in the iron… or was it steel in the soul?

    All that was ever recovered
    of the last lot of poetic chaps
    to set out for Dunfermline
    were the floating hats

  19. mishari permalink*
    September 21, 2010 1:30 PM

    Although I understand perfectly being camera-shy (I am myself), perhaps you’d consider recording some of your poems and letting me make videos of them (most likely using appropriate experimental film footage) and then (subject to your approval, of course) posting them? Just a thought and I’d love to do it…

  20. hic8ubique permalink
    September 21, 2010 1:34 PM

    Hi Tom ~
    Congratulations on your recent attainment and on your anticipated one.
    You may be interested in this celebration of Charles Olson’s centenary :

    Dear Mishari~
    “I wonder if you’ve ever considered (and I know this may be anathema to you) reading some of your own work to camera and posting it on youtube?

    I know I (and certainly many others) who’ve not had the pleasure of hearing you read your own work would appreciate it.”
    I believe I’ve wanted to ask you that very question for quite some time.
    Thanks for phrasing it so charmingly that I only need hold up a mirror ;)

    I hope you’ve emerged al dente.
    Please, weave a circle round me thrice…

  21. September 21, 2010 1:51 PM

    If as I understand it hic is extending an invitation to Mishari to stand in for me in this privileged position before the camera, let me gracefully, or shall I say gratefully concede the honor to il miglior fabbro, as we used to call him around the back lot.

    I have never owned or operated a video device of any kind, but something tells me Mish has all the proper apparati, so there we go.

    He is moreover certainly 100x more camera worthy, I reckon without ever having laid eyes on him, nor his image. (To my own loss admittedly, but still.)

    The bandaged Oracle puts me in mind of the time when Andy Warhol, inconvenienced by the mere thought of actually going out and doing a series of lectures he had been commissioned to do, instead sent one of his Factory “assistants”, the aptly-named Billy Name, who had his hair cut and frosted silver just like Andy’s, donned a pair of dark shades just like the ones Andy wore, did all the prescribed talks in the patented blasé Andy style, and no one even blinked.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 21, 2010 2:04 PM

      No, no, Tom.
      I spoke out of order in my enthusiasm. All you need is a golden mic and Mishari is offering to do the rest. You need not appear in fuller form than your vocal rendition alone.

      You read selected poems of yours to mic; and I’m hoping to encourage M to read his.
      Let me extricate my fox paw, please.
      I don’t mess around with Slim.
      [tiptoes away]

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      September 21, 2010 2:41 PM

      a golden mic
      that we all lic
      rights here upon the blog
      am i addic
      or dyslexic
      eye spel like a guy dogg

    • mishari permalink*
      September 21, 2010 2:51 PM

      I have Guy Dogg’s first LP ‘Paws For Refreshment’. It’s a classic…

  22. mishari permalink*
    September 21, 2010 2:20 PM

    Although I must reluctantly admit to having a voice of almost supernatural loveliness (the late Maria Callas, on hearing my a capella rendition of ‘Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine’ declared me “Caruso reborn…”), the last thing a troubled world needs is me reading my doggerel.

    Tom is entirely a different matter. Perhaps we can get his better half to bully him into reading into a can…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 21, 2010 3:30 PM

      Quite right. Bad enough having to read your stuff, let alone listen to it.

    • mishari permalink*
      September 21, 2010 3:35 PM

      Ahhh…my public. Where would I be without them?

  23. hic8ubique permalink
    September 21, 2010 3:00 PM

    It’s a grand offer, Tom. You’re in Berkeley, I think?
    You may be able to record for free at the University.

    If not, you could spend what 4 hrs with a sound engineer would cost to fly East, enjoy private accommodation and concierge services chez moi, attend the Olson festivities, and record with my resident tech guru.
    Wouldn’t that be ‘gas’?
    (I’m not giving up on your voice, M, just conceding this round.)

  24. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 21, 2010 3:07 PM

    Alerte rouge

    Tomorrow I must borrow the Métro.
    To greet a rising starlet in Pigalle?
    Or beat a sweaty gridlock at Courcelles?
    In extremis, for jazz at Porte Maillot?


    Squash on line thirteen – Imaginot
    The fortress has been breached at La Chapelle! –
    Will poppy pyros herd the hounds of hell
    Away from trenches where I chance to go?


    Passing through the bowels of Saint-Lazare,
    I feel a pressing knead to see the sun –
    From Zazie to Zazou – the eighty-four
    Is beckoning from Place Saint-Augustin
    All hail; I flag and board; I’ll think before
    I venture down a Métro mouth again

  25. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 21, 2010 3:18 PM

    in france hotblooded lovers cross
    a blazing row that sparks a loss
    of control freaking out a tame
    amant reversing down two lanes

    roland is garrulous, resigned
    to losing this match, uninclined
    to fire his silent miss indigne
    une-main revers entre les lignes

    though jumbled, wombled, incomplete
    your crossword lanes and alleys meet
    at junctions I have rarely seen
    a man traverse athwart the lines

    as england beetle ‘cross the sward
    stoned fans arise – a song, a word
    a rosette to supporters keen
    a mantra verse: a shirt, three lions

  26. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 21, 2010 8:10 PM

    Another Night On The Blog

    A thistle rotted in its spot,
    a dog’s turd white;
    condoms clogged with reeking clot,
    a moonlit night.

    The poets gather in the yard
    of Mish the Prince;
    their flesh as pale as rancid lard
    would make one wince.

    “We’ve come about the job,” they say,
    “to write you verse;
    our skin may be like clods of clay,
    but we’ve been worse.”

    “Dear, what’s that clatter from the porch?”
    asks Mrs Mish.
    “Oh, just some poets in the lurch
    and mostly pissed.”

    Then doggs come out and howl like hell
    and make things worse.
    And neighbours scream with throats that swell
    in better verse.

    “Fuck off you fuckers, go to bed;
    we need to sleep.
    Your horrid verses wake the dead
    and make us weep!”

  27. Reine permalink
    September 21, 2010 10:48 PM

    Hic, the lovely lordly Henry is welcome to my crown any day. I will fashion a backup tiara from some tinfoil. You were very quick to appropriate that kiss. I am only sorry I hadn’t seen it first.

    Congrats to Mr. Clark, pleased to meet you kind sir. What a wonderful cover on your book, most appealing. Hope it sells in great numbers.

    I would certainly pay good money to see or hear Mishari reciting. Anything.

    And I am delighted to see “gas” gaining currency.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 21, 2010 11:56 PM

      Well, just that I was the one who asked about his ghost, so I thought it might be for me, but I don’t mind sharing.

    • Reine permalink
      September 22, 2010 12:05 AM

      Oh, of course it was rightfully yours. I wouldn’t dream of asking you to share. xx

  28. Reine permalink
    September 21, 2010 11:34 PM

    We learned our poetry by rote
    but took in very little
    The teacher read it in grave tones
    And covered us in spittle

    “Poethra girls” he pronounced
    “Will be your friend for life”
    We didn’t doubt that it was his
    For we had seen his wife

    We wrote essays of deep fervour
    Analysing Clarke and Boland
    Much later we would come to know
    The famous Song of Roland

    None of us became a poet
    But we do read Seamus Heaney
    For pleasure not to pass exams
    You were right, dear Mr. Feeney

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 21, 2010 11:56 PM

      That’s a nice one. Was he really called Feeney?

    • Reine permalink
      September 22, 2010 12:04 AM

      Thank you M squared and No. The surname of my first boyfriend – people thought it was highly amusing to chant “Reine Feeney” as we walked down town on school lunch breaks. Poets in their own small way.

  29. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 21, 2010 11:54 PM

    The Reading

    They’re all here, the three old ladies,
    the gawky twitching teenager,
    Mystery Man in shades and leather,
    a sprinkling of middle-aged types.

    Mr Booker leads in the Poet,
    a balding chap in nice clean jeans
    who stands to read his opaque poems
    in a loud voice which makes them jump.

    Nobody has any questions,
    so Mr Booker asks about rhyme.
    Mrs Booker gets out the quiche,
    tea, and Tesco Chocolate Roulade.

    Everyone ignores the Poet,
    who doesn’t seem to mind at all,
    till he’s shown a work-in-progress,
    when he recalls an appointment.

    The old ladies are rather tired,
    and it seems to be time to leave.
    When Mrs Booker has cleared the table
    Mr Booker turns out the light.

    Darkness falls on the library,
    on Art, on Fiction, on Hobbies,
    on all the books that stand unlent.
    Poetry makes nothing happen.

    • Reine permalink
      September 22, 2010 12:10 AM

      Were you shades and leather man or am I just fantasising again? Wonderful pen picture, as ever.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 22, 2010 4:16 PM

      Thanks. One of the middle-aged types, unfortunately, if I actually made it in time.

  30. hic8ubique permalink
    September 21, 2010 11:54 PM

    It probably should have been a tiara for you to begin with, Re, (I’ll have my man check the vault and see whether there’s a spare; foil won’t do.) though I wasn’t deposing you, just noticing Moon upping the ante for next time.

    Now, we must connive and contrive: how are we to induce/seduce our host to grant us a boon? (I’m sure the offer of remuneration is too gauche in this circumstance; only collect yourself, my dear!) After all, we’re not asking a benison for the troubled world, just for our self-indulgent selves.
    There’s no prospect of bullying or badgering; he must be enticed, but with utmost decorum, mind (go lightly with the glittery decollete)…

    I believe there are youtube functions/controls for private circulation only, such as one might share in all modesty with a privileged few of his nearest and dearest co-conspirators…?
    (excepting you of course, Mowbray)

    Think of the children, Mishari. If not for us, do it for posterity.

  31. Reine permalink
    September 22, 2010 12:00 AM

    I think the money will work; as paper never refused ink, Mishari never refused fivers. I have a voice in my head for him, velvet smooth, which I should like to verify. Never mind posterity, do it for prosperity.

  32. mishari permalink*
    September 22, 2010 12:02 AM

    Posterity will have to rub along with Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Waits, Enrico Caruso and Bing Crosby (yeah…Bing. I know he recorded a lot of really cornball stuff but he was a great singer–creamy smooth voice, immaculate phrasing).

    As for the children, I suspect they feel they hear altogether too much of my voice as is…what’s that old gag? ‘His conversation had many periods of silence that made him a delight to listen to…’

  33. hic8ubique permalink
    September 22, 2010 12:14 AM

    For me, his poems have a ‘chest voice’ with a bit of a burr to it, not loud (except if exclamatory in an outburst) and with an unhurried but rhythmical loping cadence. A pragmatic but somewhat pedagogical delivery. That’s my guess.

    Oh, and I just had a flash of Alistair Cooke, sort of genially indulgent.

    • Reine permalink
      September 22, 2010 12:36 AM

      I hear a Nick Cave timbre. You could be right about Cooke though.

      MM’s voice I hear as quiter, dry, sardonic (…and then someone tickles him and he laughs high pitched hysterically).

  34. mishari permalink*
    September 22, 2010 12:18 AM

    Re: Bing–

    “I used to tell (Sinatra) over and over,” said Tommy Dorsey, “there’s only one singer you ought to listen to and his name is Crosby. All that matters to him is the words, and that’s the only thing that ought to for you, too.”

    The greatest trick of Crosby’s virtuosity was covering it up. It is often said that Crosby made his singing and acting “look easy,” or as if it were no work at all: he simply was the character he portrayed, and his singing, being a direct extension of conversation, came just as naturally to him as talking, or even breathing.

    Crosby is usually considered to be among the most talented singers of his time. Crosby could, as musicologist J.T.H. Mize asserts, “melt a tone away, scoop it flat and sliding up to the eventual pitch as a glissando, sometimes sting a note right on the button, and take diphthongs for long musical rides. -from Wikipedia

    I’m listening to the great Coleman Hawkins do ‘Until The Real Thing Comes Along’; it’s an instrumental, of course, but I’m singing along in my rusty baritone, much to Inez’ amusement:

    I’d cry for you, I’d lie for you
    I’d tear the stars down from the sky for you
    If that isn’t love, it’ll have to do
    Until the real thing comes along.

    I’d work for you, I’d slave for you
    I’d be a beggar and a knave for you
    If that isn’t love, it’ll have to do
    Until the real thing comes along.

    They don’t write ’em like that anymore…

  35. mishari permalink*
    September 22, 2010 12:39 AM

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 22, 2010 10:42 AM

    Heard on the news this morning about the sonic attack on East London in the early hours. Several people taken to hospital with bleeding from the ears and shattered glass everywhere. ‘Cor blimey, it was like the bleedin’ Blitz, guv’nor’, said Olive Cockles (83).

    I hope you survived.

  37. September 22, 2010 10:57 AM

    There were tremors up here too MM.

  38. mishari permalink*
    September 22, 2010 11:17 AM

    Pongo bit me. Everyone’s a fucking critic.

  39. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 22, 2010 1:18 PM

    Just by coincidence, during my book clearout, I kept back a series of four to re-read: the Matthew Shardlake novels (by C.J. Sansom). The phrase “Lupus est homo homini” came up in the second of these, Dark Fire. All of them good miss-your-stop reads…

  40. hic8ubique permalink
    September 22, 2010 2:17 PM

    Has anyone not yet heard David Sedaris? I used to find him impossible to listen to, but he gradually won me over.
    Sorry this is out of synch, just listen without looking.
    (The story line makes no sense because it’s been segmented to include his Billie Holiday jingles.)

  41. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 22, 2010 2:40 PM

    I have no sound on this particular computer in this backward outpost of the world (my mobile shut down in sympathy as I entered the building) but that only draws attention to David’s rather special (Swedish) dress sense.

  42. hic8ubique permalink
    September 22, 2010 3:17 PM

    I imagine it’s gay dress sense, and your electronics may be considered a benign protective force in this instance, Moon.
    What do you perceive as Swedish, I wonder?

    I’m impressed you’re able to read in transit without being nauseated (I feel a bit woozy and oxygen starved just thinking of it) … still so pleased to find you chatting more, I must say, you were to me a startling guerrilla poet for too long a time.

    Remember your steam rising from the mare poem? That’s when I first met you.

  43. September 22, 2010 3:26 PM

    Can’t think of anything to write; it’s one of those reading/listening periods, so some music instead via Seán McGrady:

    If anyone has a copy of the film Sacco and Vanzetti or knows where I get get it (preferably not dubbed) I’d love to see it again.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 22, 2010 8:16 PM

      Hi Simon~ I wish I had a copy just for the satisfaction of sending it to you, but sadly, I haven’t.

    • mishari permalink*
      September 22, 2010 8:21 PM

      Simon, if you mean the 1971 Giuliano Montaldo film, you can download it HERE. It comes with subtitle files (with the suffix .srt)–just delete them. The film is in the original Italian.

    • September 23, 2010 12:44 PM

      That’s the one, Mish, thanks very much. I am restricted to university computers and for some unfathomable reason they take of dim view of such downloads… However, my friend who has never seen it is not so restricted and will be very grateful.

    • Reine permalink
      September 22, 2010 9:51 PM

      Always liked a bit of Joan, had forgotten about her momentarily. Thanks for the reminder Si.

  44. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 22, 2010 3:53 PM

    No, I was referencing your “special – as they say in Swedish” from the other day. I understood that to mean “peculiar”.

    I like the guerrilla poet image. It is true that most of my poems take around twenty minutes to write. An hour at most. That’s why mistakes creep in. Last night I went to bed saying “DISinclined, NOT Uninclined” to myself. After I’d cleaned my teeth, I administered two slaps to the face. Then picked up a bundle of twigs and gave my back a sound thrashing.

    That’s more what I perceive as Swedish.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 22, 2010 4:06 PM

      Of course, I get it now :)
      I believe it’s quite possible to wreck a poem by ‘worrying it’.
      Probably that felt sense of done-ness is a long-acquired art.

      So you belong to the Self-Flagellation School?
      Is that Brutalist?
      probably more on the Norwegian side…

  45. hic8ubique permalink
    September 22, 2010 3:59 PM

    I’m afraid this makes it plain that I’m casting my vote with the Macaulay characterisation today…

    Left Alone

    Poet prowling for pencil
    at 4am is left
    when nothing else
    will have me
    ripping envelopes
    for paper white insides
    when a smooth leather
    heel has ground
    “Why do you need
    to read in to
    every thing?”
    crushing down
    my warrior love.

    You! friend Poet, with
    your swan-dive and tuck in
    flips to a dry gunite pool,
    your bow bolts sticking
    ridiculous out of my heart
    not even quivering make it
    how to lie down in my body?

    When none else are left
    who recognise
    this native tongue,
    when safe alone having
    cracked open the breathless tomb
    at dusk peered in hailing
    phosphor eyes squinting back;
    there may come then
    another poet head in
    out a toroid flow
    form to more sides
    of alone.

    Even then may be he knows
    my voice when nothing
    else left will do sheltering
    wraps around me
    a comfort mantle of species
    shares his flask.

    When it is balm to know some
    in creature skin have been
    like me before so still
    unquiet heart bolts pinning
    us up our wakeful state
    at some ungodly point
    on Mother’s curving
    night side altered;
    then is poetry.

  46. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 22, 2010 4:28 PM

    Culkin’s views on poetry are worth as much as his films.

    Interesting poem.

  47. hic8ubique permalink
    September 22, 2010 6:37 PM

    Thanks, Vicar. I actually get your joke, since the boy you refer to made a film here on Cape Ann, but I’ve never seen anything he’s done. I suppose he’s an adult now…
    We’ve had many Hollywood film-makers/shooting stars here,
    Cher, George Clooney, Tom Selleck, Sandra Bullock recently, but I never have gone to see them working.
    I went to a David Mamet film made here as well, but didn’t like it. I realised when Reine was swooning over various screen actors that they generally don’t appeal to me much; only musicians and, evidently, poets.
    Another probably strange thing about me:
    In the broadest possible terms, I seem to prefer the appearance of women, but the company of men.

  48. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 22, 2010 7:25 PM

    I’m doing him an injustice, actually. His study of social isolation among Greek epic poets was rather good (Homer Alone, Trebleday, 1998).

    What, not even Johnny Depp?

  49. mishari permalink*
    September 22, 2010 7:33 PM

    Moon, did I hear you say you were thinking of leaving Paris for the blighted shores of Blighty. Think again, mon loup:

    The UK and Ireland have been named as the worst places to live in Europe for quality of life, according to research published today.

    The UK has the 4th highest age – 63.1 – at which people choose or can afford to take retirement, and one of the lowest holiday entitlements. Net household income in the UK is just £2,314 above the European average, compared with £10,000 above average last year, falling behind Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.

    UK workers enjoy a week less holiday than the European average and three weeks less than the Spanish, while the UK’s spend (as a percentage of GDP) on health and education is below the European average and UK food and diesel prices are the highest in Europe. Unleaded petrol, electricity, alcohol and cigarettes all cost more than the average across the continent.

    Ireland has the lowest numbers of hours of sunshine, the second lowest government spend on health as a proportion of GDP and the second highest retirement age of 64.1.

    If that’s not bad enough, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Sweden and Italy all enjoy a longer life expectancy than the UK, according to’s latest Quality of Life Index.

    The study examined 16 factors to understand where the UK sits in relation to nine other major European countries. Variables such as net income, VAT and the cost of essential goods, such as fuel, food and energy bills, were examined along with lifestyle factors, such as hours of sunshine, holiday entitlement, working hours and life expectancy.

    France took the top spot for the second year running, despite families earning an annual net income of only £32,766 – £4,406 below that of the UK. —The Grauniad, today

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 22, 2010 7:44 PM

    Yes, but

  51. hic8ubique permalink
    September 22, 2010 7:46 PM

    The last time I saw Johnny Depp, I had the most strenuous urge to bathe him, and to employ a stiff brush in the process.
    I much preferred his nemesis, the cephalopod Davy Jones (probably the only Scot ever to possess that name?!
    Go Hollywood.) who must have smelt better. He was a sexy squid.
    I don’t mean to say that Johnny Depp’s fine person is displeasing to me, just that I can’t get into a lather at the sight of him, though I’m sure I could willingly lather him up in person.

  52. Reine permalink
    September 22, 2010 9:49 PM

    Can I just say in defence of my swooning predilection that Johnny Depp does not remotely appeal to me? Vanessa will be relieved to hear it I am sure. I generally like to swoon over an older man, actor or otherwise and am not usually attracted to conventionally good looking men. Funny, clever men with nice hands are top of my list.

    Henry, lots of trouble at mill over your way – hope the reinforced code red is not officially upgraded to scarlet. In any event, go safely amid the noise and haste.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 22, 2010 10:24 PM

      Please, no defence needed on my account, Re. It’s a grand tradition.
      I’m with you 100% on hands, but I’m deficient in my swooning capacity. I need lessons from you, in order to overcome being such a fucking critic…

    • Reine permalink
      September 22, 2010 11:05 PM

      Arrah, swooning is overrated, you’ll get by fine without it. I don’t swoon that much in real life truth be told. You’re not so super critical are you, never strike me as such?

      That leopard would make a lovely neckpiece. It is gorgeous.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 23, 2010 1:23 AM

      You’re another remorseless carnivore, but I know what you mean; the spots on white are indeed the essence of chic.
      I’m not ‘super critical’ in a negative sense, but when someone catches my interest, I become exactingly
      scrutinous and surmising, and too inquisitive, you must have noticed. If Sam Eagle tried to tell me the football news, I’d be apt to interrupt with an enquiry as to how long he’s had difficulty turning his neck to the left…
      That sort of approach tends to get in the way of potential swooning.

    • Reine permalink
      September 23, 2010 8:47 AM

      Yes, I know what you mean, you are a curious George in that sense. I often offer unsolicited advice to Sam about his eyebrows.

  53. mishari permalink*
    September 22, 2010 10:54 PM

    Check out the baby Snow Leopard…all together, now: aaawwwwww….

  54. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 22, 2010 11:14 PM

    I got Mrs M to have a look at HLM’s first stanza (she’s a natural solver)

    In France hotblooded lovers cross
    a blazing row that spurns a loss
    of control freaking out a tame
    amant reversing down two lanes.

    but she couldn’t come up with anything. I considered Lorraine for line one, but it doesn’t really fit. A fascinating poem, I thought.

    In another category I have this from a long-ago parodies blog:


    The wind is sharp and cold across the fields,
    my father bends, combing the hard-packed earth
    with the tines of his fork until it yields
    the loamy crumb which forms the finest tilth.

    His hard brown hands peck gently at the seed,
    spreading it carefully amongst the grit
    until he straightens wincing and sees me.
    Thanks a lot for the help, you lazy git.

    Seated in my warm study, I gather
    from the customary corn-fed source
    my harvest of rhetoric and blather,
    husk, grind, and bake it into poetry
    like my father in the field, sort of:
    petunias for him, the Nobel for me.

  55. mishari permalink*
    September 22, 2010 11:25 PM

    You lost me, MM. What were you hoping the mem sahib would solve?

  56. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 22, 2010 11:43 PM

    They’re crossword clues (I think). Though later on in the poem he goes on to suggest that the clues are ‘jumbled, wombled, incomplete’ I had it in mind that the initial stanza might contain some sort of key.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 23, 2010 1:53 AM

      ‘sparks’ a loss… The patterning is dense and fascinating, I agree, but maybe just puzzling itself?
      Come now, Moon, elucidate for us.

  57. mishari permalink*
    September 22, 2010 11:45 PM

    What a tricky swab that Moon is. He belongs in France. In the meantime, take Randy Newman’s advice:

  58. hic8ubique permalink
    September 23, 2010 1:35 AM

    I apologise, Mishari. I fear I’ve horrified the reserved Tom into retreat from our company, no doubt through my unseemly enthusiasm.
    Henceforth I’ll endeavour to cultivate a cooler elan.

  59. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 23, 2010 3:43 AM

    Sorry to confound. It all made a certain sense when it came out.

    The Blighty project looks even more on the cards; father-in-law had a stroke last night and was taken to H. I’m about to deposit Mrs HLM on the milk train.

    Ah to be back in Carrickfergus…

    • Reine permalink
      September 23, 2010 8:51 AM

      Poor Mrs HLM, hope her Dad will be ok.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 23, 2010 12:57 PM

      Yes, sorry to hear that, HLM.

    • InvisibleJack permalink
      September 23, 2010 4:12 PM

      Sorry to hear that HLM, hope all works out for the family. My own father had a stroke last year at the age 80 (while, as fantastic as it may sound, doing his morning press-ups on the kitchen floor – yes, at eighty!) but thankfully came back to fairly good health. But he wasn’t unaffected by it and the stress to us all was at times fairly hard.

  60. hic8ubique permalink
    September 23, 2010 3:57 AM

    Sorry to hear it , Moon, My f-i-l had one, but carried on very well and recovered. I hope it was caught early.
    As my grandmother said about everything:
    ‘It’s only temporary…life is temporary.’
    According to the news, you’ll either be richer in England, or sunnier in France.

    “Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance…”

  61. mishari permalink*
    September 23, 2010 4:49 AM

    I see they’ve discovered an unknown Milton poem (maybe) in the Bodleian archives:

    Have you not in a Chimney seen
    A Faggot which is moist and green
    How coyly it receives the Heat
    And at both ends do’s weep and sweat?
    So fares it with a tender Maid
    When first upon her Back she’s laid
    But like dry Wood th’ experienced Dame
    Cracks and rejoices in the Flame.

    I suppose they could call it Paradise Foretold

    …and Isaac Babel’s widow has just died at 101. Red Cavalry is a great book and she was an interesting woman.

  62. Reine permalink
    September 23, 2010 8:41 AM

    …or Maidenhead No More

  63. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 23, 2010 1:23 PM

    Coincidentally, another poem thought to be by Milton (or possibly Melton, the signature is hard to read) has been found in the archives of Ventnor library.

    On His Horninesse

    When I consider how my time is spent,
    Gazing unhappily across the wide
    Expanse of my desk, trying hard to hide
    This rank sexual ferment, when my true bent
    Is to rip off my breeches and present
    My Protestant ardour, makes me chide
    The social constructions which have denied
    Release, and my natural desires prevent.
    And yet I know that soon my aching need
    Shall be satisfied by the very best,
    This osseous, this adamantine state
    Will be assuaged at nigh-on lightning speed,
    When I shall launch again without a rest:
    I’m seeing greasy Joan tonight, can’t wait.

  64. Reine permalink
    September 23, 2010 1:30 PM

    Oh Milton never made me laugh this much.

  65. September 23, 2010 2:25 PM

    Here’s another Milton gem found in the basement of Ramsbottom Central Library.

    I tell you what really pains and hurts
    Getting fined for looking up maiden’s skirts
    I was caught standing underneath a ladder
    Eyeing pantaloons of a hue Rose Madder.
    Though not as Rose Madder as my face
    When caught appreciating silk and lace.

    Still I get to commit to rhyme
    What is to me an innocent crime,
    Thanks to my poetic skill, justification
    Of this activity can aid self-gratification.

    “Hold still!” I hear “You’ve got a nerve,
    You’re nothing but a flaming perv!
    Droning on about a lost paradise.
    Well paradise is better without your vice”.

  66. September 23, 2010 3:37 PM

    A wonderful find, MM! It sheds important new light on the discovery of this Wordworth 1st draft (found underneath a stack of Mills and Boons at Reading library).

    Milton! thou shouldst be swiving at this hour.
    The greasy Joan hath needs: she is a wench
    Of desperate wants: dildo, sheath and then
    Fireside and cockles; loins with staying power,
    The scrubber sot doth stink of whisky sour
    And gin. She’s bent and clucking like a hen;
    Oh! raise it up, and get in there again;
    And give her what she wants with freedom, power.
    Thy pole is heav’nly strong, and when she farts
    Thou dost not blink: although thou need’st to pee
    Steaming out of the window: the relief!
    So didst thou fuck all night and half the day,
    Exhausted now,’no more’ But yes! The tart
    Will use her wiles to get another lay.

  67. hic8ubique permalink
    September 23, 2010 5:40 PM

    I imagine you’ve all seen this suppressed version, but just in case:

    Let go of dreams
    For if dreams thrive
    Days are a broken-winged bird
    That’s half alive.
    Let go of dreams
    For if dreams rule
    Life is a playing field
    And I’m a Fool.

  68. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 23, 2010 5:52 PM

    Excellent discoveries from ET and Simon. There’s more to Milton than meets the eye.

    According to the G you’re on the way to double-dip, Reine. See you down there October 20th.

  69. Reine permalink
    September 23, 2010 7:09 PM

    You can sing it MM. This recession is having a very detrimental effect on my lifestyle or “wrecking me buzz man” as the real Dubs might say. Will you bring the flask of boiled water, if you can still afford th’electric, and I’ll bring the sand sandwiches?

  70. Reine permalink
    September 23, 2010 7:32 PM


    ‘E came in earlier, leering at me breasts
    and nuzzling ‘is face in and I not near
    finished clearing the mistress’s tea

    “Joan” says ‘e “you are as a faggot”
    “Am I indeed?” says I back making a show of grave offence,
    ‘aving confused faggot with maggot
    and knowing that was no good thing to be likened to

    “No, no, my pretty” ‘e says, unzipping himself with great urgency, and holding it towards me like some sad looking piece a sweetmeat
    “you misunderstand me, you play all coy with me, pretending not to like it but…”

    “What’s to like?” says I with a sidelong glance, trying not to smile at ‘is blind little mouse poking about as I fanned the embers in the grate

    And then ‘e reaches up under me petticoats and ‘e’s in like Flynn before I can say “Lock the door” and ‘is log cracks and spits in me fire and ‘e’s saying poems or summit in me ear,
    “Do I make you moan, Joan?” or some such
    “I’ve been thinking about you all day”

    And I lie there, on the cold floor, and think “‘e’s not ‘alf bad for a poet”

  71. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 23, 2010 11:35 PM

    Lovely keeling, Joan.

    I also have this Duffy parody, of her sonnet Prayer.


    Some days, though we swore to refrain, a curse
    breaks through the dam we built to keep it in,
    like when that fucking bastard tyre went and burst
    on the sodding A1(M) outside Darlington.

    Some nights, recalling the spare in the boot
    had been looking like it was going down,
    we turned over in bed with a grunt,
    thinking we’d do something about it soon.

    Call the RAC. Wait a minute. Then,
    Sorry, your membership expired yesterday.
    The car is suddenly short of oxygen,
    and there’s the sound of screaming far away.

    Traffic outside. Inside, the radio’s curse:
    Chris Moyles. Chris Evans. Jesus Christ.

  72. mishari permalink*
    September 23, 2010 11:43 PM

    I was stung by a bee today. Standing at the till in Waitrose earlier, I felt something tickling the back of my neck. As I reached back to brush at it, a woman behind me said: “There’s a bee on your neck”.

    Simultaneously, possibly alarmed by my movement, the bee stung me. I gave a muted yelp, more in surprise than pain, and brushed the dying bee to the floor.

    The reaction of the check-out girl, who had observed all this, was to hail the manager, who promptly tied himself into knots of concern and contrition. I expect visions of lawsuits or me writhing on the ground in anaphylaxic shock and croaking shimmered in his mind.

    When he suggested calling an ambulance, I laughed in his face and told him not to be so silly and could I please just get on with paying for my shopping?

    I just felt sorry to have been responsible for the bee’s death. I like bees.

    One of the things I liked about Napoleon was that he chose the honey-bee as his insignia. Not one of the pompous, heraldic beasts–the double-headed eagle, the gryphon, the dragon, the lion, the unicorn–so beloved of the in-bred half-witted ‘royalty’ of Europe, but the humble and admirable bee, that useful and constructive creature and the model of co-operative effort and humility.

    One of these days, I’m going to take up bee-keeping. I even have the books (Bee-Keeping For Dummies was clearly written with me in mind).

  73. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 23, 2010 11:53 PM

    Water? You’re joking of course. I’ve no doubt that whoever owns Southern Water this week is planning another juicy price rise. In these straitened times I have taken to making my own. You are welcome to try it, though some find its distinctive scent and taste rather disagreeable. Indeed, after he had left I noticed Canon Rogers, who came round for tea at the weekend, had vomited into the toilet with such force that the porcelain was cracked. Twyfords will be receiving a very stern letter from me. And a bottle of my home-made lemonade.

    • Reine permalink
      September 24, 2010 12:08 AM

      Canon Rogers, well I’ll be. As long as it’s not Mrs HLM.

  74. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 23, 2010 11:57 PM

    My last was directed at Reine, if there’s any confusion.

    So, Mr Bumble reached his target. Well done, my faithful servant. You will be rewarded in the Hive Of Heaven.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 24, 2010 12:04 AM

      For my part, there was a great deal of confusion.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 24, 2010 12:18 AM

      Is it Lady Bracknell?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 24, 2010 12:22 AM

      If you provide hives, perhaps when the neighbours bees swarm, they’ll come to you?
      What is the unlikely beekeeper’s answer to the mite, can you tell us?
      It seems a shame, with your meadows, not to encourage bees.

      I do adore bees, I wrote about my bee-keeper dream, did I? I’m sure I did…
      When the charming bumbles stumble into the house, I’m very careful in ushering them back out to their wisteria.

  75. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 12:00 AM

    I decided to ensure the purity of my Vital Bodily Fluids (©General Jack D. Ripper) by having an iceberg towed from the antarctic to the Thames and using it as our water-supply.

    I commissioned the tugboat MV The Unsinkable Gordon Brown to do the job. The vessel is long overdue. I wonder if I should start worrying?

  76. September 24, 2010 12:03 AM

    Good luck with getting the bees, Mish. I’m told there’s a waiting list for the nucleii of bees you’ll need because the varroa mite has wiped so many of them out. My great-aunt kept bees briefly, until her precious youngest got stung. How we all laughed, but the bees had to go.

  77. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 12:09 AM

    Mish, I’m sure he died a happy death. Think of the other necks he could have perished on.

  78. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 12:12 AM

    The varroa mite is a worry, Simon, but I recently read about a beekeeper in the most unlikely of places (Luton? Swindon?) who thinks he may have come up with the answer. My neighbours in the Sierra de Gata keep bees and I’ve always been fascinated by them (the bees, that is; although my neighbours are interesting, too).

    Actually, I’ve always been fascinated by the so-called ‘social insects’. A book I can’t recommend highly enough is Edward O. Wilson’s The Ants, an immense volume and the fruit of a lifetime’s study. What a world…slaver ants, farmer ants, herdsmen ants, raider ants, architect ants—the variations seem endless…

    • September 24, 2010 8:55 AM

      I’m told by friends who keep bees that city’s are some of the safest places to keep them. I guess it depends on the proximity of gardens.

  79. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 12:16 AM

    Why, thank you, Reine….although I must be pitilessly honest and confess that mine is a lovely neck: a column of pure and flawless alabaster rising gracefully from broad shoulders. Pity about the head on top of it…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 24, 2010 12:23 AM

      He’s tormenting us again, Re.
      Though alabaster makes for a stiff neck.

    • Reine permalink
      September 24, 2010 12:50 AM

      He’s fishing for compliments. We can all see it is a fine head indeed housing a brain beyond compare. All hail Mishari…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 24, 2010 12:27 AM

      My comment has gone bunburying up into the wrong countryside.
      More confusion…

  80. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 24, 2010 12:20 AM

    … and the body underneath it.

  81. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 12:31 AM

    Nothing wrong with the body beneath it, a model of ant-like efficiency–and indeed ant-like construction, with six spindly legs and…wait…why am I telling you this? You humans will never accept Antman. Back to my burrow. See you at your next picnic, you bastards…

  82. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 12:33 AM

    Who knows where this will land, but…
    I was 15 yrs of age when I read The Once and Future King, but I’m sure I recall that part of Merlin’s education of …? Wart? …Arthur
    was the social doings of ants.

  83. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 12:38 AM

    Never read it, hic. Somerset Maugham wrote a very amusing story called (I think) The Ant and The Grasshopper (after LaFontaine’s fable). His sympathies were entirely with the grasshopper, who sang all summer, as opposed to the industrious (and self-righteous) ant.

  84. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 12:48 AM

    My sister and I were in France about ten years ago and due to an ill-working factor 60 or something got severely burnt after less than an hour at the beach. We didn’t realise the extent of our injury until she woke up shouting that she had gone blind (her eyes had swelled horribly) and I had searing pain in my legs. After two days indoors lathering yoghurt on our once pale and interesting selves and swallowing aspirin by the bucketload we ventured outdoors in the cool of the evening. I could hardly walk so we didn’t get very far but we came upon an ant colony going about their business and spent a happy hour marvelling and laughing hysterically at them. It seemed a very inequitable set up, the bigger ants just ran around showing off while the more feeble ones lugged heavy cargo thither and yon. Maybe you had to be there suffering from sunstroke-induced dementia but it was the high point of an otherwise calamitous holiday.

  85. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 12:58 AM

    The big ants are soldiers, dear. Watch a threat materialise and see who’s busy…(Antman allows no aspersions to be cast on his kin).

  86. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 1:00 AM

    Sorry Ant man. Please don’t bite me.

  87. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 1:03 AM

    Fuck my old boots…there was an Antman. Check him out HERE.

  88. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 1:08 AM

    How often can we expect to hear “Stop him my pets! Obey your Leader!! The Ant-Man commands you!”?

  89. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 1:19 AM

    Come around the next time the bastards are towing my car…you’ll hear it.

  90. September 24, 2010 1:29 AM

    Shalyapin / Chaliapin 1927. I thought this was the Song of the Volga Boatmen, but the Russians think it’s a barge haulers’ song and who am I to argue:

  91. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 1:36 AM

    I was at the Cirque du Soleil show called ‘Ovo’ recently, and there were ant performers in it. Their behaviours were strongly evocative of the pointiness of real ants.

    I had the story of John J Plenty and Fiddler Dan (the grasshopper) as a child…

    ‘Ten years ago or maybe twenty,
    there lived an ant called John J Plenty…’

    I would really like to know about the mite solution, but my question arose in the wrong place.
    1000 flowers honey to you, if you tell…

  92. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 2:02 AM

    hic, the bee story is HERE. I hope it works out.

    Simon, I suspect ‘barge-haulers’ is correct. It sounds like that kind of work-song and I’m sure you’re familiar with Ilya Repin’s famous painting of same HERE.

  93. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:05 AM

    A Publishing biz friend of mine was just this week extolling the bio of Somerset Maugham ( recently out, I think) by Selina Hastings.
    He was so excited about it, he’s reading Waugh to prepare for reading her bio of him next.

    Here we are… by John Ciardi

    Ten years ago, or maybe twenty,
    There lived an ant named John J. Plenty.
    And every day, come rain, come shine,
    John J. would take his place in line
    With all the other ants. All day
    He hunted seeds to haul away,
    Or beetle eggs, or bits of bread.
    These he would carry on his head
    Back to his house. And John J., he
    Was happy as an ant can be
    When he was carrying a load
    Big as a barn along the road.

    The work was hard, but all John J. —
    Or any other ant–would say
    Was “More! Get more! No time to play!
    Winter is coming!”…

  94. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 2:12 AM

    Maugham was not, by all accounts, a very nice man; not that that’s here nor there, really–he was a terrific short-story writer.

    I read the 4-volume Penguin Collected Short Stories many times when I was about 14. Does anyone read Maugham anymore? Have you read him?

    His novels haven’t aged very well (although The Moon and Sixpence, which I re-read a couple of years ago, has stood up pretty well) but the short-stories are still a delight.

  95. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:27 AM

    No, haven’t, but I have here in the bedside stack
    ‘Cakes and Ale’ which looks a quick read, though not a short story per se.
    Many half-read books in process… The web has made me terribly non-committal.

  96. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 2:43 AM

    Snap. I have (I just counted them) 19 just-started, half-read and unread books by my bedside, including the five I bought today (Brassai’s Henry Miller, Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited, Peter Carey’s My Life As A Fake, Iain Sinclair’s Dining On Stones and a biography of Tom Waits called Lowside of The Road)…and that’s just at my bedside.

  97. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:50 AM

    Just like the bee that lands, hovers, lands, samples, circles, returns…
    I can’t bear to say what I have waiting here for me.
    Worthy, chastising, recriminating…

  98. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 3:06 AM

    Now, I’m going to read a book. G’night, hic…

  99. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 3:12 AM

    Lovely. x

  100. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 10:06 AM

    My dreams included a cast of thousands of bees and ants; I’m exhausted after fending them off. No sign of Ant-Man.

  101. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 10:15 AM

    If it all becomes too much, Reine, remember: you can always summon Antman to your aid. Antman is a friend to humans (nibbles on breadcrumb). Antman likes humans (well…most humans, except for Mowbray yclept ‘Antfoe, Scourge of The Hives’: he must die)…witness the awesome power of the ants, Mowbray and tremble:

  102. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 10:22 AM

    I’ll bear it in mind, there are times I could do with Antman’s undemanding nibbling. I’ll make sure to hide Antfoe in the wardrobe before I call him.

    My son has his debs ball tonight, so off to collect tuxedo, corsage and all the other paraphernalia. He blithely told me not to expect him back before ten in the morning. Keep your buzzer charged Antman.

  103. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 24, 2010 12:55 PM

    What’s the big deal? I could eat a gecko quicker than that.

    I also read Moon and Sixpence recentlyish. It’s stood the test of time quite well. Cakes and Ale was another good one, with a nice evocation of provincial childhood. The prefaces are as good as the books, if I remember correctly. I think the one in Cakes and Ale describes SM’s meeting with Thos. Hardy. Of Human Bondage and The Razor’s Edge contained a good deal of potted philosophy which came in very useful for the pretentious adolescent who was too lazy to read the philosophers himself.

    What’s a debs ball?

  104. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 1:04 PM

    Your son’s a debutante, Reine? I dunno…maybe it means something different in Ireland.

  105. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:01 PM

    Could be the debauchees ball.

  106. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 2:06 PM

    …or the debtors ball.

  107. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:27 PM

    My son (a mere 3 yrs older than yours, Re) had an fortnight affair with a 35yrs-old woman at the summer’s end.
    [“You’ll love her, Mum.”]

    It ended when she went off to Hawaii for two months.We didn’t see much of him during that time.
    [“She got real clingy real fast.”]

    I hope this anecdote offers some perspective on the comparative innocence of Deb-orah the bee-balm ball.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 24, 2010 3:40 PM

      So did you like her?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 24, 2010 5:27 PM

      The relationship never emerged into a meet-the-parents phase.
      I liked her photo well enough…
      Gave him a little motherly word about the ‘biological clock’;
      I feel it’s better to get those cautionary remarks in before actually meeting the subject of interest, makes it less likely to be taken as a personal criticism.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 24, 2010 7:15 PM

      Do you think you would have reacted differently if it had been daughter/older chap?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 24, 2010 7:38 PM

      Absolutely. I’d have left out the biological clock bit.
      Why, MM, what would you say in that situation?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 24, 2010 10:40 PM

      I wouldn’t say anything.

  108. September 24, 2010 3:18 PM

    I wasn’t familiar with the Repin, thanks. I think you’d need to sing if you had to do that all day.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 24, 2010 5:32 PM

      They all look far gone beyond singing or even standing up, but then, so do some members of the Yale Russian Alumni Chorus.

  109. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 7:00 PM

    That gecko devouring video gives me the

  110. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 8:38 PM

    The deb(utante)s ball is the end of secondary school knees up but debauchees is nearer the mark. Like a mini wedding in these parts – the girl and her people called here earlier for drinks and nibbles, then they all congregate in the shopping centre car park and head off in bus loads to the hotel. Lots of photos and oohing and aahing. The mothers get dressed up and get their hair done but I bucked the trend and steered clear of the hair straighteners. He looked very well in his tux I must say; he is a gorgeous young man in every way (said the clucking mother).

    It was a fraught early part of the day; him indoors broke the fridge having decided, today of all days, it needed to be rebalanced; he punctured some vital component – not ideal when it was full of champagne and wine. A fridge purchase was not in the budget for this week. Now a sleepless night awaits, so I am steadying my nerves with luke warm bubbly.

  111. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 8:41 PM

    Hic, if he told me he was going out with a 35 year old, I’d lock him in his room. Mind you, I went out with one myself at the tender age of 19. But I didn’t tell my mother!

  112. Reine permalink
    September 24, 2010 10:29 PM

    Alan Rickman is in Dublin for the Dublin Theatre Festival. Guess who is going to be hanging around the rehearsal room with her autograph book?

  113. hic8ubique permalink
    September 24, 2010 11:56 PM

    I thought the simulcast of Phedra was tonight, but it was last night. I’m vinyasa-ed into bliss, so I can’t be upset, but now I’m on the email list, so I won’t miss anything else.
    Glory, I worked hard today; earned this g&t.
    I suppose it’ll be a swooning Rickman event for you, Re.
    You can chat to me if you’re sleepless. I think we’re going to watch My Beautiful Laundrette as Plan B, and then I’ll check on you.
    Must say, I’ve never locked this boy in anything, never would have occurred to me. Mind you, he probably could have taken a door down at the age of 7.
    The desirable aspect of not having hysterical reactions is that he confides a great deal, which is priceless to me.
    (I’m just warming you up for the big letting-go.)

    We had a slowly dying fridge, gasket problem etc…it’s just better to replace them when they start to go, so don’t be too hard on HI. I’m quite pleased with the new one, vast improvement.

    Mowbray, wouldn’t you even say ‘Have fun’?
    Nothing at all? No acerbic quip?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 25, 2010 11:21 AM

      I think a neutral stance is best, and anything in a humorous vein runs the risk of misinterpretation. ‘I didn’t know you were interested in antiques’ in a similar situation (though not with a relative) got me into a shedload of trouble.

      I was just curious. I’ve seen several different reactions in the past, from enthusiastic endorsement to insane interdiction.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 25, 2010 3:16 PM

      ‘Shedload’ is well-said, I think; subtly evocative of manure.

      I agree with your neutrality in principle, but with this particular child in this circumstance, I fell into the ‘mild approval, short of inviting her to dinner’ area of your response spectrum.
      I do appreciate you sharing your perspective, Reine’s as well, but 3 yrs is, in truth, an enormous difference between 17 and 20.

  114. mishari permalink*
    September 24, 2010 11:59 PM

    I remember how appalled my parents were when I, as a 17 year-old, had an affair with a Lebanese ‘starlet’. Personally, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, even if she did give me my first dose of the clap. She was stunning, though…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 25, 2010 11:23 AM

      God, another trailer. Will we ever get the full story?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 25, 2010 3:23 PM

      Trailers often seem to be the whole story.
      This is more of a tease, eh?
      but I’m not making my habitual request for audio-visual aids; I’m sparing myself the frustration of being denied.
      What a small smug consolation that is.

  115. Reine permalink
    September 25, 2010 12:18 AM

    I have the good fortune Hic of having a very good and open relationship with him. He has great freedom really but I still don’t think I’d cope with a 35 year old girlfriend. He is as stubborn as both his parents so no amount of protestation would work in any event. Thanks for the babysitting offer – I will try to sleep but I’ll drop in if not. Good flick that, enjoy it and your tipple.

    I learned a lot of good tricks from my 35 year old. He cooked me scallops for my dinner one night; I thought it very exotic … and he read English newspapers. Far out back in the day.

    In a curious twist, his third child by his latest girlfriend was christened on the same day as my son. She came tottering up the aisle as he finished a fag outside. They had turned up on the wrong day but we agreed to have a double ceremony. Dad wondered how all the man’s sisters seemed to know me … Long story Dad, I said, tell you again some time. “It was nice of you anyway Reine”, he said, “to be so acccommodating; the poor man seemed a bit shook.”

    Please dear God let Daddy never find me here; is it too late to change my sign in name?

  116. mishari permalink*
    September 25, 2010 12:24 AM

    No. You can sign is as…oh, I don’t know…’scarletwoman’ or something…

  117. Reine permalink
    September 25, 2010 12:26 AM

    I might go for something less subtle.

  118. mishari permalink*
    September 25, 2010 12:30 AM

    What, like ‘supertramp’ with your phone number? Good thinking…

  119. Reine permalink
    September 25, 2010 12:38 AM

    Oh how you wound.

  120. mishari permalink*
    September 25, 2010 12:40 AM

    My apologies…it was only meant to make you laugh.

  121. Reine permalink
    September 25, 2010 12:41 AM

    It did, very loudly. You know me too well.

  122. mishari permalink*
    September 25, 2010 12:53 AM

    I see HERE another ‘anti-gay’ clergyman has been found to have solicited sex from young men.

    I always assume that ‘anti-gay’ ranters are closet gays. Why else would they be so exercised about what is, essentially, a private matter? Even in my teens, I was deeply suspicious of men who foamed at the mouth over ‘homos’, ‘poofs’ etc etc.

    It now appears to be axiomatic: the more vociferously ‘anti-gay’ some bozo is, the more likely he is to be caught in a motel room with an under-age rent-boy.

    Still, always good for a contemptuous laugh when one of the more egregious hypocrites gets found out.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 25, 2010 1:03 AM

      I like the choice of photo, the nuzzle with Bush, the presentation of microphone, most evocative.

  123. hic8ubique permalink
    September 25, 2010 12:55 AM

    I still love your Blues Skies vid, Mishari. I woke up hearing it today, and it’s still with me. What a great song; I’ve been crooning all day.

    They’ve all been older, Re, but not by quite that much…
    Boyo said he and Miss Hawaii weren’t aware of the age difference until it didn’t matter.

    No film yet, the infant phenomenon is rehearsing with her Papa downstairs.

  124. Strumpetina permalink
    September 25, 2010 1:07 AM

    Goodnight my sweets.

  125. hic8ubique permalink
    September 25, 2010 1:13 AM

    Goodnight daahling. Pleasant dreams.

    Moon, are you with us?
    I’ve been thinking of you often.
    Is there a ‘pro-gnosis’ for fil yet?

  126. Reine permalink
    September 25, 2010 11:22 AM

    Child home safely, great night had by all. I’m escaping west later – enjoy the weekend. x R (too late for a disguise at this stage)

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 25, 2010 6:32 PM

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 25, 2010 7:25 PM

      The keyboard displacement lends a surreal verity to your early a.m. flight, Moon…
      It really does sound a nightmare. Do try to take care of yourself in the midst of so much to manage. ~Kx

  127. HLM permalink
    September 25, 2010 5:34 PM

    Thanks for asking, hic. Had to find diggs for the dogg and bundle the kids into the car at 4am yesterday. Thirteen hour journey and the price of the crossing exceeded the value of my car. F-I-L is in a bad way but confounding doctors and managing to talk under his oxygen mask. I’m shuttling back and forth from Milford on Sea to Bournemouth Hospital on a diet of Melton Mowbray pies and Gauloises hand-rolled. Looks like Mrs HLM is staying here for the duration, giving me much to do in the coming months, like leqrn to type on qn English keyboqrd.

    In other news, Blqckpool, Spurs, Qrsenal and Dqvid :illibqnd qll lost>>>

  128. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 25, 2010 6:27 PM

    So you actually are in Milford, HLM? I assumed you were joking. Best wishes to the patient from over the water.

  129. hic8ubique permalink
    September 25, 2010 7:27 PM

    hmm, more surreal displacement from me as well. dreamer.

  130. September 25, 2010 8:33 PM

    sorry to hear of your bad news HLM. I’ve known a few people who’ve had strokes, been told that’s it for them and a few years later whilst not being as right as rain, they are at least not acting as if they’d had a debilitating stroke. So best wishes too.

  131. mishari permalink*
    September 25, 2010 8:53 PM

    At the risk of sounding a more dour note, my father died of a massive stroke. He was reading the paper, looked up at my mother and said “It’s very hot, don’t you think?” and dropped dead. It was like turning off a light. He never knew what hit him. Later, my mother said that all things considered, it was no bad way to go.

    I agree. My personal nightmare would be to have a stroke that left me aware but totally paralyzed. I find it hard to imagine a grimmer scenario. Better a fast final curtain than that indignity…

    On a lighter note, give thanks for Tea Party dingbat Christine O’Donnell, the comedy gift that keeps giving:

  132. hic8ubique permalink
    September 25, 2010 9:19 PM

    Oh, don’t watch the Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Mishari; you won’t enjoy it. That must have been a devastating shock to you as well, to lose your Dad so suddenly.

    I was interested to read Jill Bolte Taylor’s account of her own
    stroke (the hemorrhagic sort) and recovery, from her perspective as a physician. Her book is called My Stroke of Insight, but there’s also a video of her speaking, maybe on TED, it takes a while to acclimate to her voice, but I’m just off to a festival for the evening…

    Oh, MM, I forgot to say, funny you should post that song today (tho’ I had to watch a different version, my silly proxy thing) I found out today, my trip out West for a training is a go for the first week of December. This is a bright spot of news, bringing a delightful frisson to my day. I’ll send you each a 12″ Giant Sequoia ;)

  133. hic8ubique permalink
    September 26, 2010 5:12 AM

    Here it is, a fascinating experiential account; worth bearing with it:

  134. September 26, 2010 9:04 AM

    Jill’s talk is indeed wrenching.

    There is a “history” (personal, familial) here, in this department.

    The video was brought to my attention fourteen months ago, prompted by the last four lines in Paradiso Terrestre.

    The paradisal experience Jill describes does not accord with events I have experienced, I am afraid.

    Lovely that she has recovered so well. But she was only 37, and quite capable physically, at the time of her event; it resulted from a rare cerebral vascular malformation, not a debilitating illness; and in the aftermath, of course, she had expert care.

    In all the above respects her stroke experience was atypical.

    It has made a sort of superstar of her; at the cost, of course, of all that pain.

    Would that things would turn out so well (?) for all stroke survivors.

    I have known people who have “recovered” almost completely, as well as others who have recovered incompletely, or, sadly, not at all, from strokes.

    I’m probably in the middle category… for the present.

    A Buddhist acquaintance — a Cambodian man who was born in a Khmer Rouge “holding camp” — remarked earlier this evening, apropos events in his own background, that in his system of belief, there are two paramount truths: (1) life is suffering; and (2) one must know when and how to let go.

    Any stroke survivor will henceforth have no trouble endorsing the first tenet.

    The second is, as they say, “the rub”.

    (By the by, I found The Diving Bell and the Butterfly infinitely annoying; that a neuroscientist might get a global bestseller out of surviving a massive stroke seems at least approximately within the bounds of plausibility, but the latter is stretched beyond limit by the idea of a paralyzed stroke victim being constantly attended upon by incredibly beautiful, concerned and attentive women; one found oneself murmuring wordlessly to the screen, “Give us a break, please”.)

    • hic8ubique permalink
      September 26, 2010 3:57 PM

      I hope you’re receiving excellent physiotherapy, Tom. My very best wishes to you in your recovery.
      The video came to me from a colleague at just about that same time you saw it. I believe it spread like California wildfire. I then forwarded it to my internist friend, who wrote back immediately that she’d just seen it herself, and Jill had been her patient at the time of her stroke!
      I just love the right-brain dominant experience being explained by a neuroscientist.

      You remind me of another synchronous experience…
      12 yrs ago, my husband was found to have the type of angioma you mention (in a CT scan during suspected meningitis) and when we determined the best person to consult, I said: ‘Isn’t that the name of your cellist?’ (she was working with him on a recording at that time)
      He phoned her up, and she got him in the next day; the top vascular neurosurgeon at Mass General was her husband. He did the surgery.

      My father-in-law had a long slow recovery such as yours from ischemic stroke in his 70s, more an adaptation really, but he regained all functions except for somewhat slurred speech.
      My great-aunt, however died instantly like Mishari’s father.
      I suppose the good news is that people are learning to take action at the signs of TIAs, and getting preventive treatment earlier.

      I do feel for you very much when you express that first Buddhist tenet. I must say though, that if life were suffering only, then the second tenet would not be such a rub, would it?

  135. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 26, 2010 10:50 AM

    So, it’s Ed Milivanilliband. Despite resembling that slightly girly-looking boy you used to flick with a wet towel in the changing-room, he has the advantage of not being his brother. I can’t say his advent fills me with hope for the future, but who knows? His speaking style seems earnest and a bit dull. I can’t imagine him flaying Cameron over the dispatch box at PMQs.

  136. September 26, 2010 11:18 AM

    It may mean that Labour swerves a little further to the left which it certainly would not have done if his brother had won.

    A show of ours outside the Sage in Gateshead was once delayed whilst David M did a press conference about 10 yards away. An extraordinarily groomed young man, to the point of not looking human.

    Afterwards he and his entourage entered into a mass mega blitz of mobile phoning and I had to ask them to push off as they were affecting the running order of an event.

    Obviously I didn’t say “Push off”, although it was the subtext. And they did push off. Which made me think that’s not the sort of spineless attitude I want from a party leader. Ed Balls would have told me to fuck off but I wouldn’t want him as a party leader no matter how he had reacted.

  137. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 26, 2010 12:10 PM

    That hair of DMs is quite extraordinary. I know this is heresy, but out of the choice available I would have preferred Bollocks. Sometimes aggression is an advantage, and the difference in outlook between him and EdM (in fact between all four of the chaps) is minuscule. From what I’ve seen of EdM he’s far too polite and civilised.

  138. September 26, 2010 12:42 PM

    Balls is too obviously connected to Gordon Brown isn’t he? Too easy to attack. Though I see already the Tories are going for the Unions-backed tactic. Depends what the country thinks of Trade Unions I suppose.

    After the loss of a lot of jobs, the TU’s might be seen in a fairer light.

  139. September 26, 2010 3:07 PM

    Then again, Michael Owen yet breathes.

  140. September 26, 2010 4:50 PM


    I’ve considered that last point. Which is definitely worth considering. My only answer would be that there seems to exist a great gluttony for punishment. Never enough.

  141. September 26, 2010 5:09 PM

    Tom Ive mentioned this before but my Dad is currently on his way out due to cancer. He’s in an old folk’s home where, to use the jargon they are managing his decline.

    I don’t see him a lot but at the beginning of May he was in his room just ( as he put it ) waiting to die. He was fed up with the doctors keeping him alive for a life which had lost its future. I found it impossible to imagine a life like that even though I understood his reasoning.

    However it only took a visit by a local sixth form to listen to him talk about his experiences in WW2 to suddenly give him a new lease of life.

    He’s a depressive so I can imagine a lapse into melancholy and nihilism is not an impossibility but his change of view following the slightest change of circumstances makes me understand that ( as you put it ) gluttony for punishment.

    Again based on a paradox probably – dying being a worse option than not dying and coping with whatever your body throws up to make life difficult.

  142. hic8ubique permalink
    September 26, 2010 6:35 PM

    I’m no one to gainsay your experience, Tom. I would though be surprised if gluttony for punishment were the whole story.
    I can’t help but suspect there is a wee slip of hope at the bottom of your box.

    Even EdT’s Dad, melancholic as he is, seems to hold out some resilience of hope for connection and meaning, pleasure even, in what remains for him.

    For me, the paradox lies there; connectivity/expanded consciousness resides in the right brain’s perception, yet in order to function we must identify with our left brains’ egoic perception, hence our fear of annihilation. Reconciling the two hemispheres might well keep me busy for life.

  143. hic8ubique permalink
    September 26, 2010 6:38 PM

    This was my song of the morning:

  144. mishari permalink*
    September 26, 2010 6:49 PM

    It’s an interesting question, Ed: is life better than death? Our instinctive answer is ‘yes’ but isn’t that a bit like saying the ‘known’ is ‘better’ than the ‘unknown’? I mean, for all I know, death will consist of riding around in a 1936 Bentley Sedanca De Ville drophead coupe with a young Gloria Swanson feeding me fois gras while Miles Davis plays the trumpet.

    I know what you’re going to say: ‘…but, surely, that’s what your life is like already?’ and you’re not wrong, but maybe in death, the car never runs out of petrol, Gloria Swanson never runs out of fois gras and Miles Davis never runs out of puff.

    I had an interesting conversation over dinner with an artist acquaintance the other day. He stated that it was his belief that we all, after a certain point, yearn for death. That point, he said, is usually reached in one’s 20s, as soon as it’s borne in on one how absolutely futile, random and pointless life is.

    He reckoned that we refuse to admit or entertain this yearning, this ‘lust for death’ as he called it, because of conditioning. Our background of various religious teachings, the sense that we should be ‘grateful’, the almost unshakable idea that we’re ‘lucky’ to be alive….all these conspire to render us mute and ineffectual in the face of the obvious: life is shit and then you die anyway.

    To be prepared to consume an endless succession of dog-shit sandwiches on the basis that once in a while, you may get a chocolate biscuit, is no way for a rational being to conduct him or herself.

    I haven’t read it in 25 years or more but wasn’t this what Camus was on about in The Myth of Sysiphus?

    If I remember correctly, Camus wondered why, given what we know about life’s essential futility, our natural reaction isn’t suicide? If I remember rightly, Camus said that our reaction was revolt. I can’t remember whether he thought this was a good thing or not.

    • September 27, 2010 8:36 AM

      I certainly think death is as natural as life but I’m probably in the Woody Allen phase of life at the moment. ” I can accept dying but I don’t want to be there when it happens”.

      Isn’t life fantastic and shit at the same time?

    • mishari permalink*
      September 27, 2010 9:12 AM

      The other Allen quote I like is his “I don’t want to be immortal by being remembered, I want to be immortal by not dying…”

      I agree with you–life is both fantastic and shit. I was quoting my acquaintance’s view…

  145. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 26, 2010 7:00 PM

    This was my afternoon music:

  146. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 26, 2010 7:12 PM

    Michael Owen is a Conservative.

    I thought Camus’ position was that killing yourself is as absurd as going on living.

  147. mishari permalink*
    September 26, 2010 7:26 PM

    I think that’s right, MM. I mean, he asked why we don’t top ourselves and concluded that it was as absurd as living. I’ll have to read it again but I think he concluded that rebellion against the seemingly inevitable was the way to go (although I can’t remember his reasoning, assuming I remember rightly). Today’s song for me:

  148. hic8ubique permalink
    September 26, 2010 7:32 PM

    I like that MM, and the revolt idea is circular as well? Revolt against futility due to conditioning?
    Revolt against conditioning due to futility? …

    Revolt against futility due to conditioning against which one revolts due to futility?
    Utterly revolting, what’s to nibble?

  149. hic8ubique permalink
    September 26, 2010 7:44 PM

    Gloria Swanson looks nightmarishly like my mother-in-law.

  150. mishari permalink*
    September 26, 2010 7:48 PM

    hic, you’re m-i-l looks like THIS? Wow…meanwhile, on Main St:

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 26, 2010 8:20 PM

      It’s the parallelogram-your-heart bra.

  151. hic8ubique permalink
    September 26, 2010 7:57 PM

    She did. She was a ballerina.The look I’m accustomed to is more like these:

  152. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 26, 2010 8:38 PM

    It’s a long time ago now, but the age when the pointlessness of life was fully borne in on you (as a provincial teenager, anyway) was when you were 16 or 17, stoked by reading La Nausee and L’Etranger in Mme Rice’s French Lit class. Callow and superficial, perhaps, but it was a painful time. Let no-one say I was young and I was happy, as the Chinese chap said.

  153. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 26, 2010 11:48 PM

    And this has been my evening listening:

  154. Reine permalink
    September 27, 2010 12:34 AM

    Greetings from the west of Ireland where, glad tidings, a new laptop and modem have been purchased. It no longer takes a day to warm up the Internet. Trying to interest mother in some blogs but she retorted with “but Reine I don’t even like talking to people I know, why would I want to talk to those I’ve never met?” She does like talking really but is judicious about how and upon whom she lavishes her vocabulary. She and Dad are going away for a few days – weather forecast being scrutinised closely and worriedly. Rain due, qu’elle surprise. But, said father dearest, “we’ll have sunshine in our hearts little woman”. Cue groans all around from those secretly envious of their still-growing devotion.

  155. hic8ubique permalink
    September 27, 2010 1:26 AM

    I suppose a bit of sunshine in ones heart can compensate for the most Victorian appellation.
    I wonder whether devotion grows with futility…?
    Having a little time away, Re?
    Speaking of that… the IP is packing off to an Appalachian
    [apple-atch-Ian] Mountain Club hut for three days with her schoolmates.
    We’re discovering, at the last possible moment, what essential bits and pieces are lost or missing…the zipper carriage on her rain-shell &c.

    Visiting my parents today, I noticed again my father carrying on his not-quite-under-his-breath sardonic commentary on Mother’s thinking aloud. I heard myself say: ‘Oh stop it.’
    You’d probably appreciate him, Mowbray.
    By the way Mishari, I took him a copy of Liebling’s ‘The Sweet Science’ on the strength of your recommendation.
    ‘Ah, Liebling’ he said, ‘the best writer on sports’. Very pleased, he hadn’t read it… so thanks for that.

  156. mishari permalink*
    September 27, 2010 9:09 AM

    I’d also recommend Between Meals, hic (actually, there’s nothing by Liebling that I wouldn’t recommend).

    You can get Between Meals from Amazon HERE for 72 cents plus postage. It’s a lovely evocation of Liebling’s young manhood in Paris and a glorious hymn to good food and wine. I passed along a copy to MM and I believe he enjoyed it (in his own brutish way)…

  157. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 27, 2010 1:33 PM

    I ate it.

  158. hic8ubique permalink
    September 27, 2010 2:01 PM

    That reminds me, MM, of an old copy of Eliz. Marshall Thomas’ book ‘The Hidden Life of Dogs’. Half its cover had been chewed off by one of the four-leggeds.

    I’ve just now ordered a fresh copy of Between Meals (sadly the house in Avenue Foch has been sold, so for now I must content myself with second-hand accounts in new books) as well as Tom’s ‘At the Fair’ and some Neruda.
    Most obliging with the links, my Liege.

    Strong approval from me of the childrens’ hair-colour on the cover, Tom. They say it will go extinct within 50 yrs, but I have done all I can to stave off the trend.

  159. September 27, 2010 9:11 PM

    If you can’t find the energy
    For work-out or pilates
    You’re maybe just a little down
    Relax, give in, eat smarties

    And if you cannot bring yourself
    To join friends’ celebrations
    Don’t worry, you’re just feeling down
    Hide home, burn invitations

    If you can’t pray for lack of faith
    Sit back, be calm, grow stubble
    But if you’re too blue to write a poem
    Then, baby, you’re in trouble

    If your ennui’s set in so deep
    You can’t lift your toothbrush
    The gloom will pass and soon
    Fresh vim will fill you in a rush

    And if you’ve quite forgotten
    How to put your trousers on
    Because despair’s trepanned you
    Well, those grumps will soon be gone

    If you can’t smell or fornicate
    You’ll get well on the double
    But if you’re too blue to write a poem
    Then, baby, you’re in trouble

  160. Zeph permalink
    September 27, 2010 10:17 PM

    Some very fine pomes here!

    One from the archive from me. I hasten to say that the last two lines are aimed at Ms Kilmer and not at any blogging fellow potes.

    ‘I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree’
    -Joyce Kilmer

    I doubt if I have ever found
    A poem faithful as a hound
    Nor one, if it should come to that,
    Which catches mice quite like a cat
    I wouldn’t think you’d ever get
    A poem useful as a vet

    I think that I shall never read
    A pome tenacious as a weed
    I’m sure that I would seek in vain
    A pome that soaks you like the rain
    It seems that there is quite a dearth
    Of poems global as the Earth

    Not many folks around can make
    A pome nutritious as a steak
    I could not borrow, steal or beg
    A pome that scrambles like an egg
    Sadly, I often seem to meet
    A poem sickly as a sweet

  161. mishari permalink*
    September 27, 2010 10:31 PM

    Welcome back, XB…we were beginning to worry a little, although Ned said you were deeply absorbed in a new job. All going well I hope?

    Hope you and Holly have settled in alright, Zeph.

    Great stuff from you both.

    I’ve been thinking of hiring a caïque on the Bosphorus for the winter but someone said they’re hard to heat. That’s to be expected: you can’t have your caïque and heat it…

  162. Reine permalink
    September 27, 2010 10:38 PM

    Just a long weekend Hic. Back in the big smoke now. I, too, am fighting the good fight to keep the gene alive. My David is a redhead although his Dad and I are both dark. Skipped a generation. Nobody ever believes I am his mother. One even asked in a whispered voice what age he was when we adopted him.

    As to whether devotion grows with futility, a grim and one would expect, rhetorical, question. In my parents’ case, they are among the lucky ones who seem to be even more in love with the passing years. On the Victorian appelation, it is simpy an accurate description. She is very petite though the mother of three strapping girls. Mind you, I know a woman who, in some kind of Stockholm syndrome fashion, has become utterly and (insanely) devoted to a man who has made her life absolute hell so maybe it can happen.

    Hope IP has a blast.

    Interesting philosophical discussion on life and death. Echo the shit/fantastic sentiment. L’Étranger was the first book I read in French, brings me back to UCG library circa 1987 armed with dictionary and highlighters, escaping for regular trips to the canteen for a cigarette break to watch the cool guy who smoked Gauloise and held aloft his Kurt Vonnegut. Turns out he was right pillock, God knows the signs were clear to see.

  163. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 27, 2010 11:17 PM

    Nice to read you, Exit, Zeph, and very fine poems.

    I really struggled with my natural fastidiousness over this piece. But not for long.

    Our Red Friends

    It’s true they used to worry me a bit,
    they seemed designed to remind you of hell,
    a waxy candle the devil had lit.
    They had really filthy tempers as well.

    But now that the years are slipping away,
    those irrational thoughts shouldn’t linger,
    as time is turning all of us grey
    we can (almost) forget they were ginger.

  164. September 27, 2010 11:25 PM

    Thanks, Mishari. And thanks to MM et al for the shout-outs (or is that shouts out?) a while back. I’m touched. And what’s this about a Christmas fete? I do have a new job, finally, and I’m looking forward to spending more time above ground from now on.

    Will go back and review some of the repartee I’ve missed over the last weeks but for now here’s something from the PP archive for one of your recent topics. I anticipate scorn but am prepared with hexes…

    I once worked in a new age shop
    Near Seven Dials’ lode
    Where since the time of wigs and plague
    Astrology’s been know’d

    I learned of aspect, house and yod,
    Of sextile, node and trine
    Of element and retrograde
    The planets and the signs

    To customers I gave advice:
    “Whilst Uranus and Venus
    Are in conjunction you must not,
    Be reckless with your investments.”

    And in between the tourists I
    Met wizards, psychics, loons
    The reincarnate Poe and Dee
    And two Tutankhamoons.

    One day I started having doubts.
    I’d asked for lacking proof
    In tarot, reiki, all the Gods
    How could I stay aloof?

    But I had costs; rent, butter beans,
    The tax on fags was rising
    I’d also have to backtrack on
    My astro-sermonising

    A lapsed astrolger’s no catch
    For your average employer
    “We need a transit forecast now
    More than we need a lawyer”.

    But I was left with clarity
    Of thought, faith in what’s known;
    Mistrust of cant and flummery
    I’m typically Virgoan

  165. hic8ubique permalink
    September 28, 2010 1:10 AM

    I’m experimenting with this post, to see whether I’m as clever as I think I’ve been…Am I smiling at all of you yet?

    I’ll never be grey, MM, I’m blonder by the day, and will eventually be shocking white; furthermore, I’m the very soul of patience, though that wasn’t always so. If I remind you of Hell, I hope it’s in the best way ;)

    We’re a skipped generation recessive example as well, Reine, my sister and I, at least two generations in fact.

    Delighted to see you back, ExitB, and that you dragged in the cat(-lady) with you. If there’s to be a PH ‘Christmas’ party, I hope it will be in February, so I may have a chance to come to it~ Our toast-master might say: ‘Let them heat caique!’

    Zeph~ I hope you didn’t miss Mishari’s recently posted snow-leopard vid?

  166. hic8ubique permalink
    September 28, 2010 1:21 AM

    Yes, there I am, but too low res.
    I’ll crop it and try again for sunshine in the heart…

  167. Reine permalink
    September 28, 2010 9:11 AM

    ‘ morning Hic, nice to see that lovely photo here however you managed it. x

  168. hic8ubique permalink
    September 28, 2010 4:11 PM

    ‘afternoon, Re~ you click on the wordpress link at the bottom of this p. and make a profile (no need to make a blog) the site prompts you to make a gravitron/gravitar?… a graven image which then will appear with each of your wordpress comments anywhere.
    Let me know if you need help… x

    I see we have a new thread, so I’ll pop over and catch up.

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