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The Man Who Wasn’t There

October 26, 2010


Life is inherently mysterious. Ultimately, we know nothing. In J.B.S. Haldane‘s formulation “…the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

Mysteries abound. According to Proverbs 30:18, “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.”

Mind you, the way of a man with a maid is, strictly speaking, only a mystery to celibate God-botherers; you know, the ones who will insist on giving the rest of us advice on sexual matters.

But there are deeper mysteries: like the career of Steven Seagal. How this fat-faced, pony-tailed cluck–so wooden that he’s one of the few actors to be consistently out-acted by the furniture–got into movies must forever remain an impenetrable conundrum, like the fate of Amelia Earhart or the meaning of the Pyramids.

And then there’s the life and career of B. Traven. I first came across Traven when I was about 17 and found a tatty paperback copy of The Treasure of The Sierra Madre in a second-hand book-shop. I already loved the film (watch the wonderfully craptastic original trailer HERE) and it was news to me that it was based on a novel.

I loved the book and sought out other works by Traven. I also tried to find out something about him. In the first case, the only book I could find was The Death Ship, which was a revelation: dark, cynical, angry, minutely observed, stirring and unforgettable. In the second case, I hit a brick wall (I can see younger readers looking baffled and wondering why I didn’t just google it–bless their pointy, little heads). Traven was a mystery then…and he still is (the photo that heads this post might or might not be Traven: we don’t know).

The many hypotheses regarding Traven’s identity include:

Traven was German; however, he did not come from Schwiebus but from northern Germany, the region between Hamburg and Lübeck. It is possible to conclude this on the basis of a preserved cassette, recorded by his stepdaughter Malú Montes de Oca (Rosa Luján’s daughter), on which he sings two songs in Low German, a dialect of the German language, with some language features which are typical of this region. Torsvan is a relatively common name in this area, through which also the River Trave runs. In the neighbourhood there are also such places as Traventhal, Travenhorst and Travemünde (Lübeck’s borough) – big ferry harbour on the Baltic Sea.

Traven was an illegitimate son the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Such a hypothesis was presented by Gerd Heidemann, a reporter from Stern magazine, who claimed that he had obtained this information from Rosa Luján, Hal Croves’ wife. Later, however, the journalist distanced himself from this hypothesis. Heidemann himself compromised himself through his complicity in the falsification of Hitler’s diaries in the 1980s.

Traven was, in fact, the American writer Jack London, who only faked his suicide and then moved to Mexico and continued writing his books (my personal favourite).

Traven was the pseudonym of the American writer Ambrose Bierce, who went to Mexico in 1913 to take part in the Mexican Revolution and disappeared there without a trace.

Traven was the pseudonym of Adolfo López Mateos, the President of Mexico in the years 1958-1964. The source of this rumour was probably the fact that Esperanza López Mateos, Adolfo’s sister, was Traven’s representative in his contacts with publishers and a translator of his books into Spanish. Some even claimed that the books published under the pen name B. Traven were written by Esperanza herself.

The pseudonym B. Traven was used by August Bibelje, a former customs officer from Hamburg, gold prospector and adventurer. This hypothesis was also presented – and rejected – by the journalist Gerd Heidemann. According to Heidemann, Ret Marut met Bibelje after his arrival in Mexico and used his experiences in such novels as The Cotton Pickers, The Death Ship and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. However, Bibelje himself returned to Europe later and died during the Spanish Civil War in 1937.

However, all that remains is the work…and the mystery (which is detailed in full HERE). One notes that every statement made about Traven is followed by a question mark. There is, I find, something immensely satisfying about all this. As Traven himself wrote, “The creative person should have no other biography than his works.” Well, exactly.

Let’s have poems about mystery, mysteries and the mysterious.

  1. mishari permalink*
    October 26, 2010 7:57 PM

    Russian bears have grown so desperate after a scorching summer they have started digging up and eating corpses in municipal cemetries, alarmed officials said today. Bears’ traditional food – mushrooms, berries and the odd frog – has disappeared, they added.

    “You have to remember that bears are natural scavengers. In the US and Canada you can’t leave any food in tents in national parks,” said Masha Vorontsova of WWF Russia.

    According to Vorontsova, the omnivorous bears had “plenty to eat” this autumn, with foods such as fish and ants at normal levels. The bears raided graveyards because they offered a supply of easy food, she said, a bit like a giant refrigerator. “The story is horrible. Nobody wants to think about having a much loved member of their family eaten by a bear.”–The Grauniad, today

    That’s all very well. I mean, obviously, it’s very distressing if a bear eats a much loved member of the family…but what about unloved members of the family?

    What if a bear eats your Uncle Mowbray, who used to make all his young female relatives sit on his lap, where he’d bounce them up and down and get really red-faced and start panting?

    Hell, the bears can eat the son-of-a-bitch while he’s alive, for all I care…just saying, like. Nature is very mysterious.

  2. Habitation à loyer modéré permalink
    October 26, 2010 8:17 PM

    look, friar boo-boo
    a goodly bunch having lunch
    down the hatch but natch

  3. hic8ubique permalink
    October 26, 2010 9:32 PM

    Can’t Get There

    Ever the future
    and this one
    and this
    dissolves as we greet it:
    a vanishing kiss

  4. Reine permalink
    October 26, 2010 10:03 PM

    The mystery is this Hallowe’en
    That what has been was not foreseen
    Ghosts of our past are ever present
    Foreshadowed by a lunar crescent
    We hope, we wish, we much surmise
    About from whence the spirits rise

  5. Reine permalink
    October 26, 2010 10:38 PM

    The man who wasn’t there
    Was the one I loved the most
    Invisible perfection
    Is my lover’s hard-proved boast

    Some say he is a figment
    Of my wild imagination
    But when he comes to life
    It’s a wonderful sensation

    I create and am created
    In his absence is his presence
    And he’s utterly divine
    I revel in his malfeasance

  6. hic8ubique permalink
    October 27, 2010 3:07 AM

    Mind Your Vagaries

    Though your latest flame seems fascinated,
    though his arch curiosity chafes to be sated,
    though he asks about gents who came before,
    whose nosegays and bonbons assayed your door
    from Fertile Crescent to Straits of Formosa;
    all your former engagement was strictly sub rosa.
    This advice, Dear, will disport you well:
    Share your experience, but never tell.

  7. obooki permalink
    October 27, 2010 11:10 PM

    Goldgathers’ comment’s a mystery:
    That’s to say, why it doesn’t appear.
    It’s up on the sidebar for all to see,
    But not down below: how very queer!

  8. goldgathers permalink
    October 27, 2010 11:15 PM

    It all depends on what you consider mysterious:

    these trees
    this grove
    this garden

    in morning

    the very edge
    of day

    an order
    sun imposes

    these shrubs
    these beds
    this pathway

    stand & wonder
    why these walls
    these trees
    that very foxglove

    wait now
    spring will
    come again

  9. mishari permalink*
    October 27, 2010 11:16 PM

    Slight hiccup. Sorted now.

  10. Reine permalink
    October 27, 2010 11:35 PM

    Nice one GG, I was home at the weekend and Dad commented as we sat at the table looking out the window “I think the leaves are late leaving the trees this year”; I found it amusing and at once simple and profound. Tickled to think of the leaves hanging on for one last gasp, perhaps aware that Daddy will miss them.

  11. mishari permalink*
    October 27, 2010 11:45 PM

    Do Irish leaves fly south for the winter? Very sensible. English leaves just fall in the gutter and make a nuisance of themselves…

  12. Reine permalink
    October 27, 2010 11:53 PM

    Daddy’s leaves are probably swept up and filed neatly in the garage under “A” for autumn unless Mam gets to them first with the hoover. An old draper’s shop closed down last year in town and Dad, as its most devoted customer, acquired a floor to ceiling compartmentalised shirt shelf which is now home to his various DIY acoutrements. The fact he is totally useless at DIY does not diminish the pride he takes in the storage of his pristine tools.

  13. mishari permalink*
    October 28, 2010 12:01 AM

    I know the feeling. Not long ago, I spent a week organising my books. When I was done, I took a great deal of satisfaction in gazing on my handiwork…I think it was the transitory illusion that I could, given some effort, arrange anything that’s disordered or untidy that bothers me: like life, for instance. Mind you, disorder and untidiness rarely bother me…I’m not a carefully-fold-my-clothes-over-a-chair-before-bed kind of fellow; more a drop-them-where-I-stand type.

  14. Reine permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:03 AM

    You surprise me; I thought your valet would disrobe you and arrange everything in the armoire.

  15. mishari permalink*
    October 28, 2010 12:06 AM

    When he’s not hoovering the cat, he’s polishing my collection of Hispano-Suizas. I like to undress myself (or have concubine No.1 do it); I guess I’m just a rebel at heart….

  16. Reine permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:09 AM

    In between leaf watching, he too was tidying his office and rearranging his bookshelves. He spent a lot of time wheeling unwanted stuff on his trolley (his workman’s aide du jour) around the house bouncing along on his MBTs – which he only ever wears on Sundays – to the garage prompting Mother to remark cattily “your father’s doing another one of his big jobs”.

  17. mishari permalink*
    October 28, 2010 12:11 AM

    I had to google ‘MBTs’. Your Dad has sybaritic taste in footware, the devil…

    • Reine permalink
      October 28, 2010 12:21 AM

      A bit like delftware but more hardwearing.

  18. Reine permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:11 AM

    It’s big of you really to give her such immense pleasure – thousands would pay to touch the hem of your seersucker.

  19. mishari permalink*
    October 28, 2010 12:15 AM

    My essentially savage nature is leavened by outbursts of Gandhian benevolence…

  20. Reine permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:16 AM

    Just another of his fads. He is a salesperson’s dream. I trawled Dublin for “a plain black pair that would go with my casual trousers, nothing flashy and don’t go to any bother. I read that they are good for fallen arches”. Although largely retired, he wears a suit or similar six days a week and dresses down on Sundays and bank holidays to do his hard labour. He cracks me up.

  21. hic8ubique permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:20 AM

    Following along here…M is undressing and Re is talking chores…surprising.
    MBT’s have rather poor traction, but great cushion.

  22. mishari permalink*
    October 28, 2010 12:20 AM

    He sounds like a sweetheart; give his cheek a little pinch for me. I’m off to bed…g’night, Reine.

  23. Reine permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:24 AM

    I think so anyway. ‘night Mishari, sleep well. Nice talking to you. Give the concubine my regards and tell her it is a far far better thing she does…

  24. Reine permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:26 AM

    MBTs and I have much in common…

    Goodnight Hicster, hope all well. Thanks for email. x

  25. hic8ubique permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:31 AM

    Sleep tight *sigh* just as I was getting all excited about shoe talk…x

  26. October 28, 2010 8:10 AM

    London is also a candidate for writing “Ragnar Redbeard’s” Might is Right…

    An old mystery:


    It was the war for our democracy
    they’ll tell you, and the just side just came through.
    It was the old crusade ‘gainst heresy:
    the dialectic sect of Marx, the Jew.
    For all of you who know the history
    of Hussites, Lollards, Albigensians,
    readily understand the mystery:
    unholy war, and savage beyond sense.
    It succeeded, the fine faith’s gone amiss,
    with few now left to tell; it should be told –
    it was das Kapitals apotheosis:
    even untermenschen melted and sold.
    Shadowed cowls, in Trieste, in Tripoli,
    upheld vows, helped Teutonic knights to flee.

    NB: ‘gainst – /genst/.

  27. October 28, 2010 9:44 PM
    Along the nailed plank causeway
                           sand-rooted pine
         the horseshoe bay
                     rusting froth of brine
                                   razor shells
    Arrayed                   free
                            tidal lives
    Apocalypse of sea
          scarf the edge
             risk                     sound
              wetted lips
            breach the wave-creased
                 and let you walk
    Your silhouette
    Your sway               your midnight
             veiled nudity
            drum, the wavelets
           phosphorescent snail
                          uncurled sail
  28. Reine permalink
    October 28, 2010 11:16 PM

    Awlus a Mystery

    What a mystery than ten years ago
    We would not have known each other
    And now, parasocially
    We are as sister, brother

    The people we would never know
    Live beside our cushion covers
    And in the Internet abyss
    We find new friends, soul mates, lovers

    The exotic is immediate
    The far off very near
    A click, we click quite instantly
    Though some still instill fear

    And those who start off enemies
    Quite often mediate
    Their differences, cross chasms
    And stay up very late

    Swapping intellectual stirrings
    Forging friendships that will last
    How strange, how quite mysterious
    How near and still how vast

    The distance

  29. InvisibleJack permalink
    October 29, 2010 11:32 AM

    Hi everyone,

    Jack’s been away of late, had two wisdom teeth pulled and am still feeling a bit blistered about the gums.

    Good to see B Traven dusted off on this blog. A few of his books got re-issued about thirty odd years ago (I think by Allison and Busby) and that’s when I discovered him. I have a personal fondness for mysterious authors with multiple personalities.

    Good stuff here. Liked ExB’s stroll on the beach very much.

    Mish, I did a version of Giuseppe Giusti’s “La guigliottina a vapore” some weeks ago, but held off sending it to Perp Walk because I’d taken a few necessary departures, expecially in the final verse. It’s still true to the original in many ways, but purists might balk. Anyways, I’ve decided to post it below. If you don’t disapprove too much of the license I’ve taken with it, maybe you’ll consider it for the translation blog.

    Jack Brae

    [Jack’s poem, La guigliottina a vapore (The Steam-Driven Guillotine), is up on perpwalk HERE. —Ed.]

  30. InvisibleJack permalink
    October 29, 2010 11:54 AM

    Bill, I liked the piece above, good to see you posting here again. Is it from your sequence “imaginary gardens”? I got the latest Stony Thursday Book in the post yesterday and was delighted to see a piece by you there as well.

  31. hic8ubique permalink
    October 29, 2010 1:50 PM

    Here’s a mystery that amuses me. Posted by christophermarlowe on the lamentable Art Blog:

    Recalling the Nat Gal showing this large pastel on paper with five other works in selection made by Hockney.
    Was striking, above all, in my view, by the opaque and irrefrangible blue near portrait’s – and what is the nature of portraiture here – centre: at her heart, as it were, the axis or keyhole of this blue which in turning diverts the apprehension of the nude as such, just as our gaze need never be averted.
    A composite portrait, perhaps, in this exercise surprised by looking at her up close; an obverse self portrait of what the viewer brings, caught without the nude’s own gaze neither from the picture plane hilt nor from motif of a mirror. A composite in the shared sensation of Degas’ making, and ours, never so much less in its parts, the affront of this ‘almost nude’ blue reminding the voyeur of how he and she sees.

    I think he’s saying…well, I don’t know, but I get that her back is turned and there’s some blue in the picture, and then I come over all opaque and irrefrangible.

  32. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 29, 2010 9:31 PM

    The Watchers

    Mysterious lady in sombre green,
    though your serious face is turned away,
    your beauty is open to survey.
    Bookless, you watch the dark onrushing scene

    limned by the carriage window’s silver rim.
    What thoughts flow through your lovely head?
    Troy in flames and iron Achilles dead,
    troughs of smoking blood filling to the brim?

    It’s your stop, and you elegantly rise
    a swirl of hair and blouse and twitching skirt,
    and covertly I watch as you approach
    swaying gently down the narrow coach,

    a strange lustre glittering in your eyes
    swinging that heavy handbag. Ooh. That hurt.

    • Reine permalink
      October 30, 2010 12:32 AM

      That’s just gorgeous MM.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      October 30, 2010 12:42 AM

      Seconded, Re.
      You need dark glasses for such scrutiny, MM.

  33. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 29, 2010 11:36 PM

    I literally don’t know how to post on your blog, Simon. There are six options on the ‘Comment As’ tab, none of which I seem to fit. Any idea?

    I got my Poster Poems book. Two of my efforts have been credited to other people, which is disappointing, more for them than me, no doubt. I must admit there was a certain pleasure in satisfying one’s vulgar curiosity about other posters. I had a friend called Wyman, nicknamed Wink. Not the same person, of course (unless ofile is about 70). Captain Ned was born in the same year as my son, but is far more cultured. No mention of Mr Al-Adwani’s passion for musicals and interior decorating, I see. A serious omission.

    Some fine work up there.

  34. hic8ubique permalink
    October 30, 2010 12:33 AM

    Pleased to see you, Mowbray. I was just now reflecting on your prolonged absence, and pining a wee bit, and here you are!
    I went the vulgar curiosity route straightaway, and found that my eldest was born the same yr as the precocious Capt. Ned as well. (NB how I make use of your italicisation tutelage.)
    I can vouchsafe that your Wink is not ofile.
    Which of your poems are mis-credited? or should we make a game of it… with prizes?
    How odd that I should have received my copies over a week ago, way out here in the faraway climes.

    What did you think of the format? (Apart from the absence of a title page, queried by Zephirine).
    I felt the attributions were rather glaring, assaulting one from the outset in bold, but decent stock and an inoffensive though rather stark font.
    (I should be more appreciative, I suppose, but can’t help myself among friends.)

    • rarareen permalink
      October 30, 2010 1:00 AM

      Hic, I think they were coming from the US which might explain your prompt delivery.

  35. Reine permalink
    October 30, 2010 12:42 AM

    What age is Captain Ned? I took him to be a sage, elderly fellow. Apologies Ned. You are obviously much accomplished and wise beyond your ears (sic).

    I came home (just now via pub post work) to find a slip saying a delivery awaits me in the post office so will have my copy of the book on Monday.

  36. hic8ubique permalink
    October 30, 2010 1:08 AM

    1983, the whippersnapper.

    …”(s)he must be seven-and-twenty now–
    a sweet age, when youth has lost its self-consciousness
    and become a little sobered by experience.”

    ~~Dr Watson in ‘The Sign of Four’

  37. InvisibleJack permalink
    October 30, 2010 1:20 AM

    Haven’t got my copy yet. That’s a bit disgraceful, MM, that your poems have been attributed to someone else. I wouldn’t be taking it as well as you if it had happened to me!

    Thanks by the way, Mish, for the lovely pic accompanying the guillotine. I approve very much.

    Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the uncanny similarity between B Traven and Simon? They even have similar tastes in headgear. I think we should be told the truth.

  38. hic8ubique permalink
    October 30, 2010 1:36 AM

    Managed to log in, by some mystery…

    Nay, Jackanapes. Truth be told, Traven is more of an emaciated Tom Waits, hat aside.

  39. Captain Ned permalink
    October 30, 2010 8:59 AM

    Last year I was reading a bit about Mexican cinema, and was rather intrigued by a director called Roberto Gavaldon, who made some films based on works by Traven. I haven’t seen any of them, but they sound fairly interesting. Here’s some more about him:

    Reine, I am actually a not wholly unsprightly 74. 1983 is merely the year when I awoke from my coma and found the lord Jesus. My ears are irredeemably foolish.

  40. mishari permalink*
    October 30, 2010 11:33 AM

    I remember it as if it were yesterday, when young Ned first turned up at my poetry factory looking for work.

    “Gee whizz, Mr. A” he said, his eyes shining above his adenoids and beardless cheeks, “I want to learn to be a top-notch professional versificator like yourself and Baron Charlus and avoid the horrific pitfalls and miseries of Mowbrayism…”.

    His simple appeal touched my heart and I set him to work on our basic line of greeting cards: birthdays, anniversaries, etc. He was a natural. I remember one of his early efforts:

    Congratulations! You’re 21!
    I do hope that you’ll find
    Your enormous, flabby, spotty bum
    Has grown less than your mind.

    ….and now he’s grown to a man’s estate, published in Guardian anthologies…I’m so proud (takes onion from pocket)..I think I’m going to cry…

  41. Reine permalink
    October 30, 2010 11:48 AM

    To be damned with faint praise
    Is not usually good
    But to be damned by the master
    Well, I’d like it, I would

  42. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 30, 2010 12:32 PM

    Thank you, ladies. Of course either of you would be the cynosure of all eyes in any carriage you chose to enter.

    ‘Untitled’, top of page 23 (‘At Tintern Abbey…’) is mine (actually I wouldn’t mind losing that one), as is top of page 25, ‘Dove Cottage’. I don’t think G Andreachi, who is a professional writer, would want to be lumbered with my clumsy blather, and I daresay para, who I think may be an academic, is pretty hot on misattribution. I can’t get very worked up about it. If I was a professional, like Jack, I would probably have steam coming out of my ears.

    I think the format’s OK, but as you say, hic, the authors’ names are on the bold side. Do I detect a missing word in the first line of artpepper’s ‘Sleeping in the Black Mountains’? And who is Kim Gichrist? It’s clearly a Gaurdian anthology.

  43. October 30, 2010 1:13 PM

    You have a WordPress account to post here, MM; that account should work on my blog too: http://user Having said that I think I’ll change the settings so that anyone can post. If I get flooded with spam posts for penis enlargements and hot tottie I’ll just change it back.

  44. Zeph permalink
    October 30, 2010 6:51 PM

    I thought the selection of poems in the anthology betrayed a hitherto unexpected and perhaps unhealthy group obession with Wordsworth, did anyone else notice that?.

    I mentioned the non-title page on GU because I genuinely wondered if it was a mistake. I do think it’s a bit odd, but no one has responded about it so I expect they think it’s fine. The misattributions are rather serious though, MM, should you not drop S Crown an email?

    I’ve done one of these POD books – Grace A has done several and hers look beautiful, she was very kind and gave me advice, but even so it was hellish fiddly and took ages, so I’m not surprised if there are errors. You can certainly re-do things and correct mistakes because it’s all held on a digital file, but again it takes time.

    • Zeph permalink
      October 30, 2010 6:52 PM


      obession is probably something to do with voodoo.

  45. Reine permalink
    October 30, 2010 10:18 PM

    Joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious
    Completion of the quartet can make some feel victorious
    Five decades and their add-ons a mantra to uphold
    The main events in Jesus’ life
    To ensure the story’s told
    At intervals quite regular
    In homes throughout the land
    Kneel down, arse in air, for a mystery never stand
    If you find you outgrow praying
    And your beads are confiscated
    Take it on the chin
    When you’ve been well berated
    And when you get your beads back
    Just wear them to the disco
    With your fishnet tights and ankle boots
    Lips burning with tabasco

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      October 31, 2010 12:10 AM

      What’s the quartet?

    • Reine permalink
      October 31, 2010 12:14 AM

      The four mysteries of the rosary MM.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      October 31, 2010 12:57 AM

      Oh, I see. My education was strictly Protestant. I think Mrs M has her father’s rosary beads stashed away somewhere.

    • Reine permalink
      October 31, 2010 12:16 AM

      Only Catholics of a certain vintage might appreciate my pen picture. Granny sometimes tried to instill a love of communal prayer in us but it mostly resulted in damage to her cushions from us burying our heads in them and crying with laughter. Poor Granny – I was one of her great failures on the prayer front.

    • Reine permalink
      October 31, 2010 12:21 AM

      Tabasco gives its name to a lipstick shade (discontinued I see – perhaps people were putting in on their oysters) and is a very tenuous rhyme with disco.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      October 31, 2010 1:32 AM

      I had a vague idea it was something about the four gospels set to music.
      ‘Tabasco’ is good with ‘disco’, but scary as lippenstift.
      ‘Coral’ is a trend that will not be happening either.

  46. mishari permalink*
    October 30, 2010 10:54 PM

    I think Richard Lea is the person to talk to, MM. He seems to be the person who was actually dealing with the publication of the anthology. I’m still awaiting my copy, though I’m a bit disappointed that I’m missing a word in a poem as an absent word can ruin the whole sense of it, as well as the scansion. Oh, well…I didn’t much care for that poem anyway and would have much rather seen This Dance Has No Name published:

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

    – from Dance of the Macabre Mice by Wallace Stevens

    This Dance Has No Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Simon, nobody needs an account to post here; my settings only require an email address (and I believe that can be bogus). Obviously, I have a wordpress account (as do Zeph and XB) but sadly, Mowbray didn’t get past their stringent entrance requirements–I think it was the pig-shit on his rubber-boots and his habit of spitting great jets of tobacco-juice into an empty tin of baked beans that did for him.

  47. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 30, 2010 11:50 PM

    Sloane Story

    I can’t believe it was only two hours ago,
    it feels like a couple of hundred years have passed
    and despite the inquisition it seems we know
    quite a lot less than what we thought we knew at first.

    According to Toby he was in the kitchen,
    Kate says she was in the drawing-room texting home,
    which is odd, because I saw her in the garden,
    or I think I did. I was quite drunk at the time.

    Sophie refuses to say anything at all,
    while Sally just giggles and sucks up to Marcus,
    who maintains that as he was feeling rather ill
    he lay on the sofa until he had to piss,

    which I can confirm, since he happened to come in
    while I was being sick in the lavatory.
    Eve claims that she hurried out into the garden
    because of a wasp, a ridiculous story

    which I find extremely difficult to credit.
    Charles hangs around with that silly grin on his face.
    It seems that none of them are prepared to admit
    to what is a totally appalling disgrace.

    Someone peed on mummy’s rug. It’s a mystery,
    a file which will probably have to stay open:
    Toby, Eve, Kate, Marcus, Sally, Charles, Sophie,
    I shall never speak to any of them again.

  48. pinkroom permalink
    October 31, 2010 12:39 AM

    Dancing is indeed, at its best, a very mysterious thing. Of all the arts it can be the most “other-worldly”…ironic as it is the one that has the potential to hurt you “this worldly” most.

    What is it draws us to a beat?

    Bone and muscle, foot and shin,
    twisting left and right begin
    to pick up something
    deep within,
    the drummer’s tensioned
    tom tom skin

    and up from there, the knee parts flex
    as to a cymbal
    stick connects,
    a clash that speaks to
    twitching thigh
    where scattering sounds

    What is it draws us to a beat

    thumped hard home to shaking meat;
    where we submit all thought
    to pack or herd –
    to brute instinct?

    The answer is so plain to see

    and yet still
    a mystery.

    Found this extraordinary recreation of Nijinsky.

  49. hic8ubique permalink
    October 31, 2010 1:11 AM

    Reminded of this seasonal seasoning:

    Musically, I like this version:

    MM~ forgot to say… your bio was the funniest, though a bit of a shock arriving the day after had I posted that horrible website of the couple posing against the backdrop of the elephant they were pleased to have murdered.

  50. October 31, 2010 10:27 AM

    Have been reviewing my mother’s copy of the anthology (or ESOTWII for short). It’s lovely to re-read everyone’s poems and discover the bios – but there are some real howlers, the mis-spelling of MY surname being, of course, the most egregious.

    I’ve spotted some others but the crown must go the the blurb on the back cover: ‘a collection selected by the people who made this possible – the the members of the Guardian books blog.’

    Having met the analogue Ned on several occasions I can divulge that, like some Proteus writhing to escape Time’s leathern bonds, he can appear as both a withered, mumbling senex and a golden youth, laughing and cruel.

  51. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 31, 2010 10:46 AM

    Bachelor of Lurve

    It’s an exhausting and arduous course
    of intense chats which don’t involve football
    and mean drilling down to an untapped source:
    stuff you’re not comfortable with at all.

    There are meetings where no progress is made
    when your chance of success becomes unclear,
    times when any effort is retrograde
    and your course tutor may well disappear.

    Then, sometimes, when you’re closing on defeat,
    and your resolution’s almost dispersed,
    through sheer boredom or a natural heat
    you find you’ve graduated with a first,

    and the hidden mysteries are revealed.
    Was it worth it? Yes. Oh yes. Indeed.

    • Reine permalink
      October 31, 2010 11:37 AM

      You’re on a roll this week MM. Come over all romantic. (a description rather than an injunction)

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      October 31, 2010 3:38 PM

      A Swiss roll. Dull and a bit stodgy.

  52. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 31, 2010 10:56 AM

    Count yourself lucky, Exit. It could have been Dim Gitchrist. I’m glad I didn’t use my given name, which I’ve spent my entire life spelling out to people (who then get it wrong). Christ knows what the Gruadain would have made of it.

    Well, must get down to preparing the man-traps and loading the shotgun ready for tonight’s entertainment. I usually aim for the parents nowadays. Those kids are too nippy for my ancient peepers to focus on.

  53. October 31, 2010 1:48 PM

    I’m sure I went through some incredible rigmarole setting up a wordpress account in order to post here; now you tell me it was all unnecessary! I’ll never get those 10 minutes back you know.

    Reine will be glad to know I found many sloes yesterday, and seven large parasol mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera), two of which I had for breakfast; after the black truffles of Umbria the most delicious fungi I have tasted. Still looking for wild Atropa belladonna, but no luck so far this year.

  54. Reine permalink
    October 31, 2010 2:03 PM

    Nothing could make me happier Simon. Sounds a damn sight nicer than the overcooked tuna I had for my girlie lunch. We should have gone to Chez Hunter. Would you have recited while we ate?

    There are mushrooms growing all over the lawn at home but Dad keeps going out and scooping them up in a plastic bag in case they poison someone. He distrusts any fungi that don’t come wrapped in sellofane.

    They are large white ones with a deep egg shaped cup. The mushrooms.

  55. Reine permalink
    October 31, 2010 2:20 PM

    Inkcaps I think, following some brief research.

  56. October 31, 2010 2:52 PM

    Inkcaps would be little use to you, Reine, as they cannot under any circumstances be eaten with alcohol, but they are not white.

  57. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 31, 2010 3:31 PM

    Shaggy ink caps are OK. I ate a wide variety of fungi in the long-ago, and not for culinary reasons. Some very bad gut-rot and truly horrific psychedelic experiences resulted, usually at the same time.

  58. October 31, 2010 4:22 PM

    Ah yes, the old fungi bowel flow… Sorry to hear your psychedelic experiences were horrific; I am told and can imagine that a ‘bad trip’ is utterly terrifying.

  59. hic8ubique permalink
    October 31, 2010 4:46 PM

    I particularly like Sleeping in the Black Mountains, though
    This Dance Has No Name is classic Mishari.
    I have no other version at hand, so I wonder what’s missing…

    Ofile’s bio cites ‘infulences’, which is the sort of thing he’d say intentionally, so that’s my nomination for the crowning erratum.

    Melton Roulade~ I’m the proud bearer of no fewer than three names that nobody can say or spell.
    Kirsten is the simplest of them. I say Kirsten, the person I’m meeting looks me in the eye and says ‘Kristen’. We repeat this exercise a few times until the person shorts out, or I give up and answer to anything.The written variant of this interaction is the helpful person who assumes I’ve spelt my name wrong and corrects it for me.

    • Reine permalink
      October 31, 2010 5:04 PM

      Remy? No, Reine – re-knee… Rena? Triona? Renee? Irene? Renie? No, no, no, no…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      October 31, 2010 11:06 PM

      Kirsty is a good alternative, and everyone knows how to pronounce it. There must have been 50 of them at my kids’ school.

    • Reine permalink
      October 31, 2010 11:48 PM

      You ran a school for kids MM? How philanthropic.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      October 31, 2010 11:58 PM

      When I say ‘school’ I mean ‘sweatshop’. Excellent needlewomen, those Kristies. Sorry, Kirsties.

  60. October 31, 2010 4:57 PM

    I always wanted to take the psychedelic bus but for various reasons never did. It sounded enormous fun and a lot of the music I was digging seemed to demand it.

    We passed close by Melton Constable this afternoon. A more law-abiding Norfolk cousin, MM?

    We were visiting the coast, where a trip to the local tea room demonstrated to me – through decoding the assembled facial hair – how in this day and age we can still end up with a Tory government.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      October 31, 2010 11:02 PM

      He’s a so PC it’s not true.

  61. mishari permalink*
    October 31, 2010 8:57 PM

    It’s funny that mushrooms should come up as that poem (Asleep In The Black Mountains) was actually a memory of a mushroom-hunting trip in the Black Mountains in Wales some 20 years ago.

    We were camped above the bibliophile paradise of Hay-on-Wye, just below an eminence known locally as Lord Hereford’s Knob. We’d collected a lot of wood from the lowlands (informed by past experience of freezing nights in the Black Mountains; mushroom season is, of course, late autumn) and spent our nights by a roaring fire, drinking rum and mushroom tea.

    I remember a near-mystical experience after falling asleep by the fire and awakening, the fire down to embers, and gazing at the star-strewn blackness above and listening to the soughing wind and understanding my own utter insignificance in the face of a beautiful but downright hostile universe. Very liberating.

    I also go hunting less, erm…potent fungi. It never ceases to amaze me that the British seem to be oblivious to the myriad of delicious fungi available to them in wood and meadow. I’ve collected at least half-a-dozen different varieties of edible fungi in Tower Hamlets Cemetery alone. Goodbye Sainsburys, hello Chicken-of-the Woods, Penny Buns and Beefsteak mushrooms…

  62. Zeph permalink
    October 31, 2010 9:01 PM

    So, are pinkroom and dickensdesk the same person? Or rather, are they both constructs constructed by the same blogging powerhouse?

    Unlike some of you honourable blogging confederates here, I don’t want to know what anybody looks like, but I really want to know who is which name. Just different aspects of trying to give shape to the cybersplurge, I guess.

  63. hic8ubique permalink
    October 31, 2010 9:40 PM

    Maybe it’s the title that’s erroneous, Mishari. The print version is ‘Sleeping in the Black Mountains’. It reads to me as mystical experience, but I’m intrigued by your perception of hostility.
    Maybe it’s relative? in that the ego may apprehend indifference to it as hostile.
    It is the penultimate poem in the book.

    Slavic women are the most passionate mushroom gatherers I’ve ever met. It’s an annual ritual pilgrimage to the woods that seems to dominate their consciousness and conversation until the task has been fulfilled.
    That seems possible that pr and dd are one, Zeph, though I’ve never thought to associate them. I don’t imagine we’ll find out for sure, since pinkroom is diligent in preserving total anonymity. It makes sense though that that would be an attractive (non)identity for someone in an academic position, as dd appears to be, who couldn’t otherwise speak as freely as a creative person might wish. I’ve long imagined pinkroom as a gay male academic, though that may all be my projection.

  64. mishari permalink*
    October 31, 2010 9:56 PM

    My mistake, hic…the title is ‘Sleeping’ not ‘Asleep’. I think ‘hostile’ is probably the wrong word, hostility being active, even focused. I should have said ‘inimical’, which better reflects the universe’s lethal indifference.

  65. pinkroom permalink
    October 31, 2010 10:12 PM

    pinkroom knows dickensdesk.

    Were anybody to need to contact me privately e.g. with a big fat advance, an interesting commission or whatever, I can be contacted through him. I have no doubt his in-box will also soon, if not already, be filled with a lot of green ink’d abuse.

    I think only one other blogger knows my real identity and would hope they keep it to themselves, so I may continue to speak ‘freely’.

  66. Zeph permalink
    October 31, 2010 10:41 PM

    Somehow many of us Brits have become mushroom cowards, Mishari. I distinctly remember picking mushrooms in fields as a small child, in the confidence that if it was a big flat mushroom growing in a horse field it was OK to eat. Now, if it doesn’t come from a shop I don’t dare.

    Maybe seeing those girls feeding poisonous mushrooms to Clint Eastwood in The Beguiled had something to do with it. I was at an impressionable age.

  67. Zeph permalink
    October 31, 2010 10:46 PM

    Thanks, pinkroom. Just being nosy. But as I said, the ‘real’ (or analogue, I like that) identity doesn’t bother me, I’m all for anonymity. I’m just curious to know which online personae have several heads, Zaphod Beeblebrox-like.

  68. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 31, 2010 10:59 PM

    Nice clean chemicals like LSD were no problem, Simon. It was the organic stuff like mushrooms and peyote (alleged) which did the real damage. Doing what used to be called a Bristol Triple while suffering raging hallucinations was no joke, especially in a crowded pub.

    The first line of ‘Sleeping in the Black Mountains’ in the anthology runs:

    Sleeping under a field stars

    I think it should go:

    Sleeping under a field of stars.

    I decided to email S Crown. She replied this evening with an apology for the error, said she is off work sick and will pass it on to R Lea and M Pickard, who are dealing with it. She’s not sure they can do much about it. So there it is.

  69. mishari permalink*
    October 31, 2010 11:17 PM

    You’re right, MM: there’s an ‘of’ missing…but it’s actually my own fault. If I’d properly read the proofs Richard Lea sent me (which I just, belatedly, did), I’d have caught the mistake. Basically, I’m an idiot and the Grauniad’s not to blame. Your mis-attributions, however…

    Zeph, there are only a few fungi that can actually kill you in the UK and only two of them, the Destroying Angel and the Death Cap, are at all common. But a good field guide, some experience and the absolutely hard-and-fast rule–if you have any doubts at all, don’t pick it–should see you alright.

    I am prepared to reveal pinkroom’s identity for a large cash consideration. Let the bidding start…

  70. MeltonMowbray permalink
    October 31, 2010 11:25 PM

    1 zloty

  71. hic8ubique permalink
    October 31, 2010 11:36 PM

    Speaking of speculation, would someone please reveal (at no charge) explicitly which poems are mis-attributed. I’m not familiar with some of the contributors, and I’m reading everyone with an eye for Mowbrayisms. Just now, I was suspecting ‘Invulnerable Children’, which may be too darkly funny for Grace.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      October 31, 2010 11:50 PM

      As far as I know mine are the only victims. It’s a plot.

  72. pinkroom permalink
    October 31, 2010 11:38 PM

    You rat Mishari.

    You promised that last drop was a once and for all time payment.

  73. Reine permalink
    October 31, 2010 11:44 PM

    Pink, as a fellow Mayo-lover, your secret’s safe with me. Very safe, given I don’t know it in the first place.

  74. hic8ubique permalink
    October 31, 2010 11:56 PM

    So, ‘good to the last drop’,
    thenceforth, a rat.

    …but which titles, MM? I see three in your name.

  75. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 1, 2010 12:04 AM

    hic, I refer you to my post of 30 Oct, 1232pm:

    ‘Untitled’, top of page 23 (‘At Tintern Abbey…’) is mine (actually I wouldn’t mind losing that one), as is top of page 25, ‘Dove Cottage’. I don’t think G Andreachi, who is a professional writer, would want to be lumbered with my clumsy blather, and I daresay para, who I think may be an academic, is pretty hot on misattribution. I can’t get very worked up about it. If I was a professional, like Jack, I would probably have steam coming out of my ears.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 1, 2010 12:11 AM

      Beg your pardon. Daft of me.
      I’d have put the author’s name following each poem and

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      November 1, 2010 12:24 AM

      Same here.

  76. Zeph permalink
    November 1, 2010 12:07 AM

    Not sure how it works with Blurb, but with, which I used, you can certainly make changes to the book any time. You just need to set quite a bit of time aside to do it, which is no doubt the problem for the Guardians.

  77. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 1:53 AM

    Earl Zea, 34, talks about how he cut off his penis to deter an unwanted gay admirer, Ronnie. He was “sick to God-darn death of being stalked”. So, he froze his genitals, cut his penis off with garden shears and flushed it down the toilet. —a memorable episode of The Jerry Springer Show, from an article about the show’s 20th annniversary, The Indy, today

    Call me naïve, but couldn’t he have just, I dunno… got an unlisted phone-number or something?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 1, 2010 2:16 AM

      So, his ‘rationale’ was presumably that dismemberment would be security against stalker rape?

  78. pinkroom permalink
    November 1, 2010 7:47 AM

    That “sick to God-darn death feeling” is the worst though isn’t it?

    Reen may have read in the Mayo News the strange and sad case of Francis “I spy yer” Toolis who – despite periods of imprisonment and hospitalisation, spent years stalking the public lavatories of Castlebar in search of admirable penises. Once he spotted a “pretty one” he would dog the owner of said to distraction.

    And then one day he just disappeared.

  79. Reine permalink
    November 1, 2010 8:18 AM

    Very good Pink; being dogged to distraction can be painful. I well remember the story being the subject of hot debate over dinner causing my sister to marvel that he had found a “pretty one”, that they all looked a bit odd to her. “All?” exclaimed Dad as he choked on his chop…

  80. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 9:58 AM

    Reading the following, you could be forgiven for imagining it the latest spittle-flecked lunacy from the latest Tea Bag cretin:

    With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he (Obama) can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs.

    This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve. —David Broder, The Washington Post, yesterday

    In fact, Broder is a highly-respected, albeit conservative, columnist; formerly a long-time stalwart at the New York Times. America’s peculiar madness has infected everyone, top to bottom. The once reasonably sane Broder goes on:

    …nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century…

    The man is a dangerous lunatic. Seriously, hic…I implore you: move to a country with fewer crazy people–it appears to be contagious.

  81. Zeph permalink
    November 1, 2010 10:11 AM

    No doubt ‘Eye-ran’ is a threat because it wants to be a ‘nucular’ power. Nothing to do with oil, oh no.

    What fun Professor Freud would have had with Mr Zea flushing his detached penis down the toilet.

  82. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 10:50 AM

    Happily, not all Americans have gone insane quite yet:

    I haven’t read such an ill informed and morally bankrupt piece of “analysis” in quite some time (which is saying something). For starters, on what basis does Broder believe that “Iran is the greatest threat to the world?” The United States spends over $700 billion on defense each year; Iran spends a mere $10 billion. That amount is less than Greece, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, or Taiwan.

    As I’ve noted previously, Iran has no meaningful power-projection capabilities, and its main “weapon” is the ability to pass modest amounts of money and arms to groups like Hezbollah. This behavior is clearly a problem, but Iran is not an existential threat to anyone. And if Iran were to get a few nuclear weapons at some point in the future — which is by no means a certainty — it could neither use them nor give them to terrorists without inviting devastating U.S. or Israeli retaliation.

    Second, Broder thinks that a military confrontation with Iran would boost the U.S. economy, the same way that defense spending did during World War II. Never mind that the U.S. economy is in a very different place today, or that an attack on Iran would not require an increase in defense outlays sufficient to generate a significant Keynesian stimulus.

    The real problem is that a war in the Persian Gulf would almost certainly trigger a spike in energy prices, thereby adding a burden that our fragile recovery doesn’t need.

    Third, Broder never considers whether it might be possible to head off Iran’s nuclear ambitions through more creative and intelligent diplomacy. Like most of official Washington, he’s convinced that the only way to stop Iran from getting the bomb is to keep ratcheting up sanctions, keep the threat of force “on the table,” and if that doesn’t work, to launch a preventive war.

    But has he noticed that we’ve been trying this approach for over a decade now, and without success? The failure of this approach was hardly surprising, because when a powerful state threatens a far weaker country with military force and/or regime change, it merely reinforces the weaker state’s desire for some sort of deterrent.

    The only way to defuse Iran’s nuclear ambitions is to take the threat of force off the table, and to try to convince Iran that the costs of developing an actual nuclear weapon (which include the possibility of a regional arms race) outweigh any likely benefits. Unfortunately, this approach has never been tried.

    Finally, the sheer callousness of Broder’s prescription is mind-boggling. Although he says he’s “not suggesting… that the president incite a war to get reelected,” he’s actually doing precisely that. Has he forgotten that wars are violent and unpredictable affairs, and that human beings — including innocent civilians — die in them?

    And rest assured that if the U.S. military were ever ordered to attack Iran, it wouldn’t conduct a limited “surgical strike.” If past practice were any indication, the U.S. military would be very thorough, which means several weeks of air strikes against a broad array of targets. And that means even if we are careful, there will be significant civilian casualties.

    But hey, what are a few hundred (or thousand) foreign lives if it will get the economy moving again? The idea that the United States would once again be launching an unprovoked attack that is likely to kill a large number of Muslims doesn’t trouble Broder; in fact, he never even mentions it.

    So if you ever wonder why the United States is so unpopular in some parts of the world, it is because we pay little or no attention to the effects of our actions on others.

    And we’re not dealing with some xenophobic Tea Partier or rabid Islamophobe here; in this case we have the acknowledged “dean” of Washington’s punditocracy telling the president that war with Iran is a good way to put Americans back to work and to keep his own job. —Stephen Walt @

  83. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 1, 2010 12:21 PM

    Dionysian Mysteries

    Hello, Chloe! How lovely to see you!
    Oh, hullo, Hagne. Sorry, I’ve got to –
    Ooh, do I spy a Pramnian bottle?
    Is it from Aesop & Aristotle?
    No, I go to Sophus & Socrates –
    I’m sure that dirty old man gave me fleas,
    are you going by the Acropolis?
    No, I’m – I need some fabric like this
    for a tunic I’m wearing to Delphi,
    still, if you’re too busy I’ll go myself.
    Anyway, how’s your husband getting on?
    Yes, he’s doing all right. And Ariston?
    Well, politics is not an easy life
    but with the support of his lady wife
    I think he ought to manage to survive!
    Umm… I haven’t seen his chariot in the drive.
    No, he’s been out the last couple of nights,
    attending those Dionysian rites.
    Oh yes… so didn’t you go along as well?
    No, he says they’re unbelievably dull,
    speeches, political chat, networking,
    all that extremely boring kind of thing…
    oh dear, that’s a nasty cough you’ve got there.
    Ahem. Yes, it must be something in the air,
    Athens is so unhealthy in the… spring,
    anyway, must get on with my shopping!

    Oh… goodbye.

  84. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 1, 2010 12:25 PM

    War with Iran. That sounds like a really good idea. We should build on our successes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Is ET away?

  85. November 1, 2010 2:06 PM

    Perhaps I should get a job in Iran…

  86. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 3:01 PM

    You could do a lot worse, Simon. Stunningly beautiful country (vast and containing landscapes ranging from the high central plateau to the tiger-haunted rain forests of the Caspian littoral to deserts to snow-capped mountain ranges), breathtaking architecture, one of the loveliest of all languages and a populace compromising some of the kindest, most hospitable, friendliest people on earth.

    The Persians had raised good manners to an art-form when the Romans were a small tribe of goat-herders battling the Etruscans for dominance. Forget all the bullshit about the mullahs and I’madinnerjacket; that’s like judging the UK on Nick Griffin, Nadine Dories and Simon Cowell…have you ever read The Road To Oxiana, BTW?

  87. November 1, 2010 3:03 PM

    Re: Broder’s paid advertisement for The End Times: I see The-Not-So-Great-Satan is at it again!

    They did produce this, though… way back when only 80% of the Ruling Elite were sociopaths and the marginally-sane JFK still walked the Earth:

  88. November 1, 2010 3:06 PM

    No, but I’ll look out for it.
    Hmm, you’re beginning to convince me. Some more research needed I think.

  89. November 1, 2010 3:06 PM

    “The Persians had raised good manners to an art-form when the Romans were a small tribe of goat-herders battling the Etruscans for dominance.”

    Which is one of the things I found fetching about my long-ago GF: the exquisite (sometimes passive-aggressively-so) manners of every member of her nucular family. That and the fantastic old Art books all over the flat…

  90. November 1, 2010 3:12 PM

    “The man is a dangerous lunatic. Seriously, hic…I implore you: move to a country with fewer crazy people–it appears to be contagious.”

    Our first mistake was in not taking Sterling “Jack. D. Ripper” Hayden’s warnings about fluoride seriously…

  91. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 3:43 PM

    Too late…our Precious Bodily Fluids have been compromised.

  92. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 3:47 PM

    Simon, I’d also highly recommend Jason Elliot’s Mirrors of The Unseen: Journeys In Iran. A wonderful follow-up to his superb book on Afghanistan, An Unexpected Light.

    HERE is a 2006 review in the Grauniad of Mirrors of The Unseen. the review is by Sarah Wheeler, whose Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica is the best book on Antarctica that I’ve ever read (and I’ve read quite a few).

  93. hic8ubique permalink
    November 1, 2010 5:10 PM

    Thanks for posting Stephen Walt’s voice of sanity to follow, Mishari.
    I have long had a hair-trigger flight impulse, and what relieves it seems to be getting about as much as is feasible. (Talking with you lot helps in no small measure to collapse time and space, as I’m sure I mention often in moments of gratitude.)
    How can one truly escape such venal intent as the conservatives’? I’m sure even Antarctica isn’t safe from their malignancy.
    (I met a man who was drilling out giant ice-cores there to make sound columns, which seems to me as sane a measure to take in this world as any.)

    I’ve gradually come to accept that there is presently no geographical location that can afford me peace of mind.
    Although I have strong preferences, it’s a seductive illusion. At least by holding my ground for now, I can be of some service, avoid inflicting pain on others, and practise the sense of ‘belonging’ as an internal state.
    Maybe that’s a serious answer to a jocular admonition, but I really do wrestle with a sort of ‘be here now’ resolve most of the time.

  94. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 5:33 PM

    I was being facetious, hic. At a time when people are even considering electing a vicious loon like Sharon Angle, a certifiable moron like O’Donnell and a thuggish, mendacious creep like Joe Miller to the Senate, America needs its sane citizens more than ever…

    Considering that former weapons inspector Scott Ritter was right in every single one of his predictions vis a vis Iraq, his words here have special force:

  95. hic8ubique permalink
    November 1, 2010 6:05 PM

    That’s right, and when I can look out my window any day and see someone unapologetically wearing a garment like this:
    someone has to uphold sartorial standards hereabouts.

    • Reine permalink
      November 1, 2010 7:09 PM

      Only fit for target practice, if the TP-ites took it on as a uniform, they could practise on each other. But where would they get the guns??

  96. pinkroom permalink
    November 1, 2010 6:17 PM

    I can understand Reen’s sister’s astonishment. The combined effects of overtight nylon underpants and a too enthusiastic approach to sheep dip means there is scarcely a “pretty mickey” to be found between Louisberg and Knock however “Showusyer” Toolis was nothing if not a trier.

    The late Dun na nGall Tweed told me, in one of his more lucid moments that young Francis very much lived by the maxim, you have to kiss plenty of frogs before you find your prince.

    He can be seen in this clip here from 1961 ogling Prince Ranier of Monaco when all other eyes were upon Grace Kelly on her famous trip “home” to Westport.

    He was like a dog with a bone, and anybody who has the slightest aquaintance with Mayo dogs will know that being pursued by one makes the “Earl Zea”option understandable.

    • Reine permalink
      November 1, 2010 7:06 PM

      I have neither seen a Louisburgh nor a Knock one Pink but the inbetweeners were exactly that.

      My Dad is in that crowd somewhere, taking a report for the local rag… I am from Westport, did I mention, we are a right regal lot. I’m still kissing frogs…

  97. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 6:42 PM

    I had a VW Camper Van about 35 years ago that had upholstery just like that, hic. Eye-watering.

    There’s something very odd about this latest ‘bomb plot’:

    British and US security and intelligence agencies emphasise how sophisticated the bombs were, hidden in printer toner cartridges, in packets addressed to synagogues in Chicago yet timed to blow planes in mid air, somewhere.–The Grauniad, today

    Toner cartridges addressed to Chicago synagogues? (apparently, copier supplies are unavailable in Chicago), posted from the Gulf?…and this didn’t set any alarm bells ringing? They only discovered these things thanks to ‘information received‘? Something about all this stinks to high heaven…

  98. pinkroom permalink
    November 1, 2010 7:21 PM

    I believe GK’s grandad was from somewhere near Newport. What I love in that clip is the total contrast… it is like she is from another planet, bigger, brighter… a star. Nowadays they seem to look just like us, only smaller and skinnier.

    As to the cartridge thing I too smell a big, fat rat. As soon as I heard Cameron had called a Cobra meeting I thought, here we go…

  99. hic8ubique permalink
    November 1, 2010 7:25 PM

    mm hmm… not quite that long ago, but nearly, I was being warned in vague but grave terms about keeping clear of the ones who drove about in VW vans.

  100. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 7:33 PM

    Quite right, too, hic…I won’t make you blush with details but that VW Van was Sodom and Gomorrah, with a touch of Altamont and a smidgen of The Hellfire Club all rolled into one.

    @pr, even more fishy, we’re being told that the bombs were ‘primed to explode in midair…’. So why draw attention by addressing them to synagogues? Any package from the Gulf addressed to a synagogue is going to set off alarms (or should do; might as well label it ‘BOMB’)…it only makes sense as the usual half-arsed, incompetence of a CIA (NSA or some dipshit acronym) ‘false-flag op’.

    Hey…gotta keep the peeps scared, dude. Otherwise, they might start asking questions. Terror works. ‘COBRA’…Christ, but these insecure assholes love their butch acronyms, don’t they?

    Meanwhile, this just in:

    In a speech to Chatham House in London, Duncan (international development minister, Alan Duncan) said the cargo plane bomb plot demonstrated the need to tackle Yemen’s problems on an international level. Calling for the international community to step up its support for development in the failing Arab state, he said the next few months could prove pivotal to its future.

    A gathering in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in February could be “the last chance” to turn things around in Yemen, Duncan said. He warned that the country was at risk of sliding into a state of chaos, which would allow al-Qaida to flourish and present a security threat to the rest of the world.

    “The lesson from other countries is that if we sit around and analyse a country on the edge of collapse for too long, by the time we decide to do anything about it, it’s already too late.”–The Grauniad, today

    Uh-oh…Weapons of Mass Destruction in Yemen, anyone?

  101. November 1, 2010 8:11 PM

    “Uh-oh…Weapons of Mass Destruction in Yemen, anyone?”

    You’ll have to wait for the next Wiki”leaks” broadcast for that one…

  102. obooki permalink
    November 1, 2010 10:46 PM

    I know I read the news pretty selectively, but I’d just assumed the whole story went back to these comments a few days before:

  103. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 10:55 PM

    That’s the thing, though. Nobody believes the official line. Something happened–we don’t know what exactly and we don’t know why exactly and we don’t know who exactly: we just know that we don’t believe The Pom-Pom Girls Of Terror (©2010 Politely Homicidal).

    Meanwhile, it’s Politely Homicidal’s exciting new Spot The Difference competition!:

    We are beginning to turn the corner in Afghanistan–UK armed forces commander Gen Sir David Richards on the BBC’s Today program, this morning

    In Khogeyani, a volatile area southwest of the capital, the entire police force on duty Monday morning appears to have defected to the Taliban side. A spokesman for the Taliban said the movement’s fighters made contact with the Khogeyani’s police force, cut a deal, and then sacked and burned the station. As many as 19 officers vanished, as did their guns, trucks, uniforms and food.–The New York Times, today

    Can you spot the difference? Answers on a postcard to: David Clameregg, 10 Downing St., London, W1

  104. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 1, 2010 11:01 PM

    Yes, that’ll teach them.

    Brillo’s programme on the Tea Partiers was interesting. It was difficult not to bawl ‘It’s rampant capitalism that’s beggaring you, not bloody socialism!’ at the TV. Nice to see Brillo casually demolish one or two of their ideologues with a couple of pointed questions.

  105. November 1, 2010 11:05 PM

    I like the vegetarian terrorists who planted yoghurts on planes which were primed to go off if their demands – tofu for all – were not met.

  106. mishari permalink*
    November 1, 2010 11:18 PM

    Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry takes his teddy bear and childhood hero, Alan Measles, across Bavaria on a highly decorated Kenilworth AM1 motorcycle.

    Grayson spent a troubled childhood in suburban Essex creating a fantasy life where he fought off the brutish invading Germans, under the command of his teddy bear Alan Measles, a plucky wartime Resistance leader who became his hero, a sort of personal God and the embodiment of everything that was good about masculinity.–BBC program guide

    I suppose that explains why the bastard dresses like a girl in a 1950s Enid Blyton book. The bike, HERE, is worth a look, if only for its startlingly emetic quality.

    I thought you were in Germany, Ed, building Potemkin villages for Perry to ride through as you and your munchkins cheered him on before racing ahead of him to populate the next ersatz town. No?

  107. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 1, 2010 11:21 PM

    Speak of the devil and he pops up his horns.

  108. mishari permalink*
    November 2, 2010 12:05 AM

    John Crace has done an entertaining ‘digested’ La Bohème (HERE). The music of opera is frequently lovely, as are the voices. If only one couldn’t understand the vapid, witless, turgid lyrics. Sadly, all too often, I can and Crace may think he’s writing parody but it isn’t, much…

  109. hic8ubique permalink
    November 2, 2010 1:27 AM

    Still it was a good laugh, as was the High Def vaccination scar on Mimi’s deltoid last time I watched La Boheme.

    Now, wasn’t that bike more Noddy and Big Ears than Enid Blyton? There is a difference.

    Good to see you obooki. I didn’t understand that article, as I’ve never been through domestic US security without every passenger removing shoes and hauling out laptops for scrutiny.
    The only variable seems to be the plastic pouch of small liquid items –under 100 ml. It’s not consistently required to reveal that, but I had to pull out an orange once…in case it was a Popeye bomb. Wasn’t it Popeye who had those orange-shaped
    bombs? maybe the Road-runner. Popeye was more hands-on.
    Am I having a regressive evening?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 2, 2010 1:31 AM

      No, no, I’m an idiot!
      There is no difference.
      I was thinking of Molly Brett.
      Enid Blyton is Noddy and Big Ears.

  110. mishari permalink*
    November 2, 2010 8:11 AM

    Indian police have busted what they say is a transnational elephant-smuggling ring – highlighting a new threat to one of the country’s most iconic animals.–The Independent, today

    Now that’s what I call ambitious. “Did you pack this suitcase–this very, very large suitcase–yourself, sir?

    We’ll need to re-write Kipling:

    If you wake at midnight,
    and hear a horse’s feet,
    Don’t go drawing back the blind,
    or looking in the street.
    Them that ask no questions
    isn’t told a lie.
    Watch the wall, my darling,
    while the Gentlemen go by!
    Five and twenty ponies,
    Trotting through the dark –
    Brandy for the Parson,
    ‘Baccy for the Clerk;
    Elephants for Mowbray,
    letters for a spy,
    And watch the wall, my darling,
    while the Gentlemen go by!

    Kipling, A Smuggler’s Song

  111. November 2, 2010 8:59 AM

    I’ve been at the Bologna Book Festival MM now situated in Derry and a town just outside Dublin. Michael Rosen was conspicuous by his absence but Jedward are soon to appear in panto. You’ll be delighted to hear.

    Driving from Dublin to Derry it was fascinating to see how the name changes on the road signs – Derry in the south of course, Londonderry in the North with London painted out in many cases and the whole name gone in some cases. Not helpful when you’re trying to navigate at 9.00 on a dark evening.

    I wish Grayson Perry would just stick to doing his art as I like his drawings ( the pots less so ) – they remind me of those lovely illustrations the Radio Times used to have in the early 60’s. But he obviously can’t resist the opportunity to sound off – a pity.

    Had to sack the munchkins Mishari – it’s the new age of austerity after all. They’ve all applied to be volunteer brain surgeons or whatever idiotic idea Cameron has come up with whilst I’ve been away.

  112. goldgathers permalink
    November 2, 2010 11:50 AM

    Apologies to one and all for any editing erros in Everyone’s … : not my direct responsibility but I still feel bad about it.

  113. Reine permalink
    November 2, 2010 12:02 PM

    Give me editing eros any day.

  114. November 2, 2010 12:28 PM

    One year ( 2004 – 05 ) I did a lot of international work which involved flying to places. I had a green travelling bag which passed for hand luggage thus saving the rigmarole of baggage collection. The only drawback was that its size lessened the possibilities of elephant smuggling but whatevs.

    Anyway after a few months of going hither and thither I could feel the bottom of the bag getting clogged up with coins and stuff so decided to do a clear out. I discovered a packet of 10 stanley knife blades plus a few loose blades floating around with the odd socks, disposable razors, Euros, zlotys and centimes.

    I had no idea they were there but in fairness neither did the staff who checked the luggage in the 10 or so airports that I passed through that year.

  115. November 2, 2010 5:16 PM

    A flicker out the corner
    Of Your eye
    Blink less quicker
    You might espy
    The man who wasn’t there.

    Both heavy as lead
    Plus lighter than air
    Is the the man who wasn’t there
    Is he alive or dead?

    A shadow passing
    Across a wall
    A contact number
    You can’t call
    Is the man who wasn’t there.

    In hinterlands he can thrive
    Can’t see him if you stare
    Oh the man who wasn’t there
    Is he dead or alive?

  116. obooki permalink
    November 2, 2010 5:57 PM

    I seem to remember when I was once in the States you could take a handgun on a US domestic flight. Admittedly, you had to remove the bullets – not, as it happens, because you might be inclined to hijack the plane with it, but out of fear that decompression would cause it to go off by itself.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 2, 2010 10:12 PM

      A likely story, eh? Remember the days of service and hospitality in the air, before the sheep-ranching paradigm took off? It would have been bad form to suggest that an esteemed guest of airline luxury might be inclined to hijack a flight, so some ‘for your own protection’ ruse was needed.
      That’s my theory, based on zero expertise in how a decompressed gun might or might not behave.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      November 3, 2010 1:49 PM

      I don’t think Mitchelmore would track you as far as the US.

  117. mishari permalink*
    November 2, 2010 9:13 PM

    California–leading the way in interesting politics:

  118. Captain Ned permalink
    November 2, 2010 10:53 PM

    Song of Dennis, and His Doctor

    My name is Dennis, Man of Mystery.
    My brow is damp, my fingers blistery.1
    You’ll be amazed by my secret history,
    For it’s no made-up take-the-piss-story.2

    I reside in Harwich, den of vices.
    I trade in fruit and exotic spices.
    Mrs. Hughes says I charge swingeing prices;
    I hope she dies of folliculitis.3

    I’ve had my troubles with the local plod;
    PC Evans says I’m a vicious sod
    And even dumber than a gastropod,4
    But I’ve had his daughter, the stupid clod.

    I dumped my girlfriend when she got cancer.5
    She called me bastard; I didn’t answer.
    I’m still the town’s most adept romancer;
    My latest squeeze is a Morris dancer.6

    I must be unpleasant; my parents fled,
    And people round here regard me with dread.
    The therapist thinks I’m mentally dead;7
    He doesn’t know what goes on in my head.

    I may seem quite normal8, but that’s a sham;
    I once threw a kitten under a tram.
    See, nobody knows who I truly am,
    And I don’t suppose they could give a damn.9

    Doctor’s Notes:

    1 Patient’s internet time to be reduced.
    2 Patient to give sample.
    3 This is not medically possible.
    4 Further tests required.
    5 Patient is mistaken; it was folliculitis.
    6 Patient is again mistaken; he means the maypole.
    7 See note 3 Or perhaps 4.
    8 Patient is deluded.
    9 Patient shows signs of recovery from delusions.

  119. November 3, 2010 8:39 AM

    Mystery – blistery – take the piss-tory.

    Tremendous Cap’n Ned. Have you ever been to Frome? If not you’ve captured the local psychology very well.

    Though I have heard since I was there in the first wave of skinheads and LSD in the 70’s that Frome is now quite chi-chi.

  120. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 3, 2010 1:46 PM

    So that’s where you were hiding, ET. Not long after Bloody Sunday an Irish friend persuaded me to go for a drink in the Bogside Inn with him. As we walked across the wasteland which used to surround it I was fairly apprehensive, and once inside I was the focus of all eyes. Apart from an oldster referring to me as a fucking English bastard it went well (I think my friend had connections). What stayed with me was the destitution of the area – it was like a scene out of Dickens. Familiar to your brother, I suppose.

    I daresay Reine already has her ticket for Jedward.

  121. hic8ubique permalink
    November 3, 2010 3:26 PM

    I’ve looked up Jedward at last, Altamont , I get an education here… of sorts.
    I’ve heard of Gimme Shelter, but never seen it. It was made by the Maysles who did that fascinating documentary ‘Grey Gardens’. If you’ve not seen that, Reine, you must.

    I may be the last who hadn’t seen these two, but thanks to the piano tuner who visited yesterday:

  122. November 3, 2010 3:59 PM

    Wasteland, Altamont, it’s all beginning to come together.

    My wife (who comes from a better place) innocently toted our then infant daughter across the waste land to sit on a blanket among a hundred thousand wasted human bodies while MJ ponce’d about unheard on a wee stage surrounded by his selected crew of “guardians” — bikers, that is, who kept busy during the “show” by beating some helpless drugged moron to death with pool cues.

    That’s entertainment, comme il dit.

    There’s seemingly no end to the good fun hereabouts…

  123. Captain Ned permalink
    November 3, 2010 9:03 PM

    I’ve not been there in person, Ed, but I feel I hardly need to. Frome, for me, is not so much a place as a state of mind.

  124. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 3, 2010 10:56 PM


    I’m a very good-looking man,
    I’m nearly six foot three,
    I have a rich all-over tan
    and yet she doesn’t like me.

    I took her to the Savoy Grill
    and showed I’m sexist-free,
    suggesting we should halve the bill:
    really, she should like me.

    I barely remarked on her specs,
    though they’re pretty chunky,
    I hope she’d take them off for sex
    if she started to like me.

    I’ve showed her my stuffed animals,
    my fifty bonsai trees
    my shelves full of love manuals
    and still she doesn’t like me.

    I’ve done everything I can
    to find that hidden key
    I know that I’m an attractive man.
    It’s a total mystery.

  125. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 3, 2010 11:13 PM

    I was playing rugby in a muddy field in the middle of nowhere while Altamont took place. There were similar scenes of violence, but no one died.

    I forgot to mention the PP book to my daughter until yesterday. I told her I would send her one and had an email back saying ‘Thanks. I’ll have to tell (flatmate) Freepoland’s my dad.’

    Anyone would think he has more talent than me.

  126. Reine permalink
    November 3, 2010 11:20 PM

    Jedward? I ask you. tcchh. I’m a good 25 years too old for that gig. I am just home from a much more high brow experience. I was in the National Concert Hall at an event in the Kevin Barry room at which our esteemed friend and elsewhere blog leader, Billy Mills, was reading. He read his Ballad of Breath and Sleeping, part of which had been set to music and sung, and some new work, a garden series (part of which is published up yonder) and which it was a joy to hear. He also read his work Liffey . His poetry really comes to life in the reading and he appears a most gentle gentleman. He kindly signed my copy of Poster Poems which I had in my handbag. If he reads this, congrats again on a wonderful performance and please reassure Catherine, whom it was also a pleasure to meet, that I am not a crazed stalker.

    You may or may not be interested to know he has a most marvellous moustache.

  127. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 3, 2010 11:40 PM

    Does he have a good voice? It was quite indistinct in the YouTube clip I saw – quite a bit of background noise from (I assume) the bar.

  128. Reine permalink
    November 3, 2010 11:42 PM

    He does, softly spoken but clear and moving. But as Brucie would say “you are still my favourite”.

  129. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 3, 2010 11:50 PM

    You haven’t heard my raucous cawing. I suppose it was the first time he’s seen the book, which must have been gratifying. Well, I hope it was.

  130. Reine permalink
    November 3, 2010 11:53 PM

    Hope so too but he didn’t have a chance to peruse it in detail before I fled blushing into the night.

  131. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 4, 2010 12:06 AM

    I’m sure it was a privilege for him as well as you. I think he’s a Dubliner, isn’t he?

  132. Reine permalink
    November 4, 2010 12:15 AM

    Privileged might be overstating it, bemused maybe.

    He is, yes. A city boy as far as I know but now living in Limerick.

    Night MM. Sleepwelletcha as we say down west.

  133. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 4, 2010 12:18 AM


  134. November 4, 2010 8:23 AM

    Are you a Daniel O’Donnell woman Reine?

  135. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 4, 2010 9:56 AM

    I hear his sister Christine is now available for parties, bar mitzvahs etc.

  136. November 4, 2010 10:01 AM

    Cultivating mystery

    It’s important that people can’t see
    What you’re growing in a field of mystery.
    That field should be surrounded by metres- tall hedges
    What you’re growing denuded of distinctive edges.
    Crouch over low when watering your crop,
    Outside never let your defences drop.

    It’s important that people comprehend
    The messages you say you will but actually you don’t send.
    Those messages misted up by metres-long descriptions
    Your writing says it will but it doesn’t offer prescriptions
    Stand back, light blue touch-paper and retire
    Mystery spreads like a wild bush-fire.

  137. November 4, 2010 10:07 AM

    MM Christine has been quite busy over Halloween I hear.

  138. Reine permalink
    November 4, 2010 10:09 AM

    More Daniel O’Connell than O’Donnell Ed.

  139. November 4, 2010 10:32 AM

    When Daniel O’D appeared in Manchester last year the third member of our pig touring team had a 30 ft high billboard of him reclining in tight jeans right outside her front door for the months leading up to that momentous event.

    I doubt Daniel O’C had the same sort of PR.

  140. Reine permalink
    November 4, 2010 11:54 AM

    God help her, that must have been traumatic.

    No, poor Dan relied on the power of prayer.

  141. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 4, 2010 12:37 PM

    If you’re looking for effective PR you can’t do much better than Father Son & Holy Spirit Associates. Daniel’s Emancipation was a huge hit, though many see his Repeal as the real mould-breaker.

    I think it was Christine’s sub-Mitford identification of herself which damaged her in the proverbially classless society of the US. How galling for the legions of bluecollars to be taunted by this former supernaturalist with her high society connections! I’m U -an error of positively Brownian proportions.

  142. November 4, 2010 3:11 PM

    Christine will be back in a few months rather like Sarah Palin who suffered in the 2008 election largely through having TV comedian Tina Fey quote her own words back at her.

    These people are indestructable. Perhaps they aren’t really people.

  143. mishari permalink*
    November 4, 2010 3:34 PM

    You’re fortunate to have seen Mills perform, Reine. I had the good luck to see him when he was at Raymond’s Revue Bar, reading Pound’s Cantos. Luckily, I had a video camera so the occasion is preserved for posterity. It’s a hell of a performance, I think you’ll agree:

    • Reine permalink
      November 5, 2010 12:05 AM

      Yes, it looked very much like that. I did the warm up gratis. It was only fair.

  144. November 4, 2010 3:47 PM

    You’re right, ET. The legions of the Undead and the serried ranks of the Republicans have much in common.

  145. hic8ubique permalink
    November 4, 2010 6:38 PM

    A delightful reading, and the perhaps serendipitous placement amongst Bill Collins vids is the perfect touch.
    I’m curious whether apostatesaint will be posting any of his own readings on the new channel. Wouldn’t that be gas.

  146. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 4, 2010 8:17 PM

    That arse is round my ankles now.

    Very true, ET, and we have our own specimens here. Cameron seemed quite unabashed when Miliband Jr launched into him regarding his personal cameraman. They have no shame. What kind of person requires a personal photographer anyway (I except Prince Mishari, whose photog, chef, valet, nail technician, body hair plucker, prostate massage specialist and posterior hygienist are essential to his wellness matrix)?

  147. mishari permalink*
    November 4, 2010 8:32 PM

    What you call my ‘wellness matrix’, I call ‘the basics’…

  148. November 4, 2010 8:38 PM

    It won’t be long before we see advertised the position of Assistant Groom of the Stool to No. 10. Good job for a hard-working lad: plenty of opportunity for career advancement and the chance to see what REALLY goes on behind the scenes.

  149. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 4, 2010 10:43 PM

    Behind the behind, surely. I imagine Cameron’s bum contains all the wrinkles and scrofulous patches which properly belong to his face. Some Etonian sorcery has switched the two. It’s significant, I think, that he rarely, if ever, exposes his buttocks in public. What has he got to hide?

  150. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 4, 2010 11:57 PM

    New channel? What’s that about?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 5, 2010 12:18 AM

      If you watch that preserved for posteriority video on
      You Tube, MM, you’ll see that it’s presented by apostatesaint on his new channel. On further exploration, I see that said saint is from Tanzania, is 30 yrs of age, and that some enthusiastic subscriber has already signed on, just on the strength of the one video, and no doubt the international reputation of the saint himself.
      I never get any subscriber notices from YT, but it seems a convivial gesture anyway.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      November 5, 2010 10:19 AM

      Oh, I see. Glancing at the YT version I notice that the lady is wearing an additional (semi-transparent) brassiere, so her uplift is sustained not, as I at first supposed, through a nice balance of muscle and tissue, but through cosmetic engineering. Another illusion shattered. But at least decorum has been maintained.

  151. mishari permalink*
    November 5, 2010 2:36 AM

    For a taste of life chez Al-Adwani, I thought I’d post a little home video. I’ve shaved the moustache since this was made and I tend to use the Mandom less lavishly:

  152. Reine permalink
    November 5, 2010 8:33 AM

    Jesus, I’m surprised he didn’t drown in the stuff. A family friend named Mary had a massive crush on Charles Bronson back in the day and called her labrador-cross after him. Bronson, the dog, was a vicious fellow. Frightened the shit out of us as kids.

    Thanks for the laugh Mishari, I could so easily imagine it being you.

  153. November 5, 2010 8:52 AM

    I kept expecting Bronson to shoot the pianist.

  154. mishari permalink*
    November 5, 2010 10:12 AM

    Guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins older brother and bandmate of William “Bootsy” Collins; 1944-2010. RIP.

  155. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2010 10:38 AM

    Oddly enough the young Melton was often compared to taciturn muggerkiller Bronson (appearancewise). Black hair, slitty eyes, Mexican moustache were all present. Heroic torso, not. Also Bjorn Borg, taciturn nordic balltwiddler, which, considering hair colour, eye colour and wildly differing degree of success with the opposite sex I found hard to understand. When I put the question to Mrs M some years later she explained that Bjorn and me have eyes which are set unusually close together. I wished I hadn’t asked.

  156. November 5, 2010 11:07 AM

    MM did you used to say ” He sure was a tough opponent” at the end of every sentence?

    A cross between Borg and Bronson is quite unnerving. I say this as someone recently described as a kidney bean with the forehead of a sperm whale or, less recently as the runner-up in the 1998 regional heats John Malkovich look-alike competition. I lost, oddly enough, to John Malkovich himself.

  157. November 5, 2010 11:46 AM

    “These people are indestructable. Perhaps they aren’t really people.”

    You’re on to something there, Ed.

    The tone here is very George Romero at the moment.

    • mishari permalink*
      November 5, 2010 1:01 PM

      What never ceases to amaze me as I watch US politics become increasingly farcical is how working-class to middle-class Americans keep voting against their own interests. Time and again, they vote for bought-and-paid-for corporate shills and rich men’s poodles who promptly screw them.

      I suspect it’s down to two things. 1.) the almost completely homogenised, corporate-owned media (most papers, radio and TV stations in the US are owned by Clear Channel, Gannet, Hearst and News International) promoting their owner’s agenda and 2.) the collapse in quality of American publicly-funded education. The US used to have a genuinely first-class public school system.

      Try this experiment: make a list of the hundred 20th century American writers, poets, artists, film-makers, musicians etc., that you most admire. Then check their bios on wiki. I guarantee you that the vast majority of them will be products of the public school system.

      But ever since the Age of Reagan (himself a product of publicly-funded education), the tax-funded school-system has been starved of funds and treated with contempt.

      The results have been predictable. In a recent survey of High School seniors, some 60% were unable to find Washington DC on a map; were unable to tell the difference between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and could not name the three branches of government.

      In the 1960s, Americans were able to put a man on the moon; now they can’t save one of their own drowning cities.

      A healthy democracy requires an educated electorate but, of course, corporate America understands this: the last thing those bastards want is a healthy democracy. They want a democracy that they own. And they’ve got it.

  158. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2010 12:11 PM

    My converstional style was more Bronson than Borg. ‘Hm?’, ‘uhn’, ‘nnh’, or more expansively, ‘uh-nnh’.

    You’re not going to like this, ET, but George Weber (tacheless) has been mentioned. I see a likeness to Elvis Costello myself, though of course you’re better looking. And more talented, obviously.

  159. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2010 12:12 PM

    That’s ‘conversatoinal’.

  160. November 5, 2010 12:32 PM

    MM If I knew who you were then a cheque would be in the post. It sounds like the PP book ( which due to a number of things cropping up I have yet to order ) won’t enlighten me any further.

    I am assuming that addressing the envelope to the Bronson/Borg look-alike on the Isle of Wight won’t ensure it gets to you.

    George Weber though ? I’d imagine my earnest pronoucements on things helps cement that comparison. Am now off to boil my head in the hope that changes things.

  161. November 5, 2010 1:11 PM

    “What never ceases to amaze me as I watch US politics become increasingly farcical is how working-class to middle-class Americans keep voting against their own interests. Time and again, they vote for bought-and-paid-for corporate shills and rich men’s poodles who promptly screw them.”

    The stupid are easily brainwashed, no match for “media techniques” multiplied by trillions in secret money. The run-up days and nights were solid with paid-for negative-messaging. Think Manchurian Candidate.

    The really chilling aspect of this horror movie is the glaring fact that God has His nose under the tent. Now we’re in real trouble if an orator ever develops out of the demagogue candidate ranks.

    (What am I saying — an orator!!??)

    (It was of course only Hitler’s eloquence, married to his political opportunism, that got him to… “the top”.)

  162. November 5, 2010 1:39 PM

    Given that Osborne is handing as much as he can over to private hands I wouldn’t be surprised to see this US trend develop even further in the UK.

    God knows the public sector can be cumbersome, punitive and incompetent but what evidence do we have that things run on a purely commercial footing are for the common good?

    A commenter on a Cif thread about this creeping and not so creeping privatisation put it well a few months ago.

    She worked for HMRC and as a result of the changes the Tories were making had been outsourced to a private company doing the same job. The money used to run this new business was the same as before but as a business needs a profit-margin to run less of the money was actually going into the running of it in order to give them that profit.

    So what she did could not be more efficient as less money was going into running it so it was inevitable the service would suffer as a result.

    Of course I’m hardly going to be sympathetic to a tax collector but I think her point was well-made ( even if I’ve rendered it a bit chewy ).

  163. November 5, 2010 2:17 PM

    By the by, Mish, for some light relief… I had you (and your erstwhile avatar) in mind with this.

  164. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2010 2:51 PM

    I had to think a bit myself. Oh yes, judicial. I’m not sure that a survey 40 years ago would have been much different. When you consider that in this country only 20% were expected to take GCEs it puts that 60% in context.

    My evidence is only anecdotal (ie worthless), but an American teacher who works at my wife’s school was astonished by what he saw as the insolence and indiscipline of the students. A colleague of hers who went to teach in North Carolina (he’s still there) was similarly astonished by the discipline and industry of the students there. According to my wife, in general the attainment of the kids has remained much the same over thirty years, and I would be surprised if the same wasn’t true of the US. Some children (and adults, of course) just aren’t that interested.

    Anyway, the educated electorate of the past didn’t stop them electing Eisenhower or Nixon. As for God, I remember getting a bit concerned about the Moral Majority back in the 80s. Whatever happened to them? The apocalypse all left-thinking people expected never happened. The wheel turned, and I suppose it will turn again in time.

  165. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2010 3:05 PM

    That just reminded me of an incident a few years ago when I was talking to some pals, him a teacher, her an MA in Lit. There had just been a newspaper survey asking people whether the Earth orbited the sun or vice-versa. As I discoursed scornfully on the idiots who didn’t know this simple fact I noticed a certain coolness in the atmosphere. Trying to control a smirk, my chum remarked that his wife had been unaware of the movement of the spheres. Flushing, she screeched ‘It’s not something I’ve ever needed to know!’ and stormed off.

  166. November 5, 2010 5:00 PM

    Re: the Copernicus Follies

    I went to a very expensive private college and a rich girl I (ahem) “knew” there gave me a… 1) uncomprehending, then 2) shocked… stare when I made a sarcastic “sun going around the earth” remark about something. Also: she had a Singer sewing machine in her dorm room, I remember (busy making those Karen-Carpenter-style pantsuits); there was a short in the power chord, so if you stepped on the chord on your way into the room, sewing would cease… which she ascribed to the obvious fact that the weight of one’s foot was pinching off the juice like water in a garden hose. She went on to get her degree and has had a responsible job as a University administrator for 25 years.

    The thing about an Ignorant Electorate is not so much that they’ll vote for a Bush or a Nixon (because, face it: there are only ever two choices at a time, and the choices are always vetted by the Aristocrats who need the President to be an efficiently blackmailable flunky), but that they won’t be much trouble when the funkiest shit goes down. That’s the beauty of a Funkshunning Duhmbockracy!

    Compare LBJ’s and Nixon’s troubles with the proportionately easy ride GWB got (and even Clinton only got in “trouble” over that sloppy, stain-generating pud-munch when, in fact, he could’ve been nailed for a slew of rapes and War Crimes); Wild Bill and GWB were the beneficiaries of three decades of people being told that their FEELINGS trumped any FACTS and that the INTELLECT is a creepy, heartless, unmanly organ. Cue: Clinton looking heart-warmingly contrite or Dubya looking boyishly naughty: all is forgiven and problem solved.

    The message I saw getting pounded into all around me, as I was coming up, was that the TRUTH is whatever makes you feel GOOD… so any unfortunate factual data about governmental/corporate malfeasance can be spun, cleverly, as “negativity”. Well, there’s even more to it than that (but the comment box is only so big)…. but my point, in essence, is that Mod America is a monumental and very frightening experiment in Mind Control and Social Engineering (eg: Q: whatever happened to the Noble Image of the Civil Rights Movement? A: Lil Wayne!).

    Everything we think we know isn’t merely wrong… it serves a purpose.

  167. November 5, 2010 5:06 PM

    Or, you know… “cord”….

  168. hic8ubique permalink
    November 5, 2010 6:26 PM

    MM, are you Nicholas Lyndhurst?

    Close-set eyes are often a characteristic of villains.
    I’ve often suspected people of showering in scent, but had never seen it done before. My throat starts to close up at the thought of it. Too bad about the torso, but maybe that discourages silly shirt-flinging.

    Here’s Rob Shetterly’s site:
    He goes into schools and talks about these people whose portraits he presents in large format.
    I’m just posting it as a hopeful gesture, since all the horrid things you have all said are true as well.
    He’s a lovely man, lives in Maine.

    Another hopeful sign is my 14-yr-old.
    Yesterday after drama class, she went to speak privately to the teacher, and told her that her group of three had been uncomfortable with the way the teacher had drawn attention to the physical limitation of one of the girls. ‘Ms Crone’ had said they should change an element because ‘Jennie’ had a short spine and therefor couldn’t do it properly. My daughter was afraid of being ‘pink-slipped’ by this narcissistic teacher, but spoke up nevertheless. The result was an apology to Jennie. Good girl.

  169. Reine permalink
    November 5, 2010 6:52 PM

    Bravo to baby Hic, very commendable. Takes a lot of courage for a younger person to deliver “improvement feedback”* to an older one. An upright citizen like her Mama.

    I have bitten my tongue elsewhere when I felt very much like speaking up, but it would only have opened the same old can of worms and fallen into the obvious trap. You will know to what I refer Hic; as always you are the voice of calm reason who sees the full picture as opposed to the torn, decontextualised fragment.

    On the eye question MM, my friend’s father once commented that my eyes were very far from the side of my head which made me paranoid for quite a while. He tried to tell me it was a sign of intelligence but it had the scent of a backpedal about it.

    I’m off out to a friend’s album launch/50th birthday. Hope y’all have a good evening.

    *this is the performance management “in” phrase for delivering negative commentary but it’s much more economical to say “you fucked up”. Not always advisable though.

  170. Reine permalink
    November 5, 2010 6:56 PM

    I don’t picture MM as a smiley sort like NL in that photo – too busy pondering and sucking twirls for that sort of frivolity.

    My husband has a monobrow and so looks constantly frowning even when full of mirth. I tried to tweeze them once and he screamed like a girl.

  171. HLM permalink
    November 5, 2010 8:35 PM

    Good girl, little hic.

  172. hic8ubique permalink
    November 5, 2010 10:58 PM

    Oh, Reine, Moon ~ Thank you, Loves.

    Knowing how to keep my mouth shut would be equally valuable in the balance, Re, especially when it’s flogging the victim-hobby-horse time.

    But, I am proud of this girl today. On the other hand, alas, my son has just taken delivery of a ‘free’ boat (no trailer, no motor), which otherwise would have been the toxic-waste disposal nightmare of the previous owner.
    ‘clear title/ ideal winter project!’

    I hope the party turns out to be of the fun sort. I say this having been cornered by a tipsy tennis team of plastic women at a post-book-launch party two evenings ago…

    “The wedding-planner quoted 50 grand for the band alone. My daughter wants only the best, but I know they upped the price when they saw the length of our driveway.”

    (I’d like to introduce this one to atf, who’s no doubt lurking :)
    I’d escaped before Teflon Spouse registered that I’d been in my coat and hat for 15 minutes already:
    “Oh, we seem to be leaving.”
    I’m forgoing a Salsa Birthday-do tomorrow to pursue something more sedate with the same Well-intentioned-but-Vertiginous Spouse.

    So, are things evolving in your world of transition, Moon?

  173. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2010 11:08 PM

    Call me Ash. We hauled our anchors
    and sailed north from Martha’s Vineyard
    under gallants and spankers:
    Starbuck worked us long and hard.

    Ten days out we saw it wallow
    where the broken pack-ice gleams,
    and Ahab set the boats to follow
    the trail of multiplying seems.

    We peered in the water’s swirling,
    I have it! Tashtego cried.
    we speared and roped the rolling thing,
    and drew it to the Pequod’s side.

    Then Captain Ahab, tense and pale,
    Tottered down the deck and said,
    Fools! That is not the great white whale!
    It’s Edward Taylor’s head.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 6, 2010 1:22 AM

      Beluga Brow Taylor: a Tragedy.
      Have you read The Whaleship Essex, by Nat Philbrick, MM? It made a splash hereabouts.

  174. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2010 11:31 PM

    Lyndhurst? Christ, no. They’re not that close together. He’s virtually a cyclops. Your eyes look quite normal to me, Reine. In your previous picture, btw, I noticed a novel by Ian McEwan behind you. I suppose that’s why you took it down.

    Good point on the Presidency, Mr Augustine, though I’m still not sure why people wouldn’t vote for McGovern. Really, I’m embarrassing myself talking about America since I know nothing about the place. I meant to say that I thought the Prince’s point about the media was a good one. Perhaps it will affect the population in unforeseeable ways.

  175. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 5, 2010 11:42 PM

    Jebus, a POTW party. What a nightmarish concept. A nice idea for a Dim Gitchrist script, though. I’m tempted to pen a few lines myself, but I fear I may be opening a can of worms.

  176. mishari permalink*
    November 5, 2010 11:43 PM

    I see that the Irish government are to hand out vast quantities of cheese (courtesy of the EU ‘cheese mountain’, which I imagine resembles Woody Guthrie’s ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ only smellier). Good thinking. Stuff the population with artery-clogging animal fats and watch them all drop dead in a few months. Big savings on benefit payments, major employment boost (mainly grave-digging and coffin-making), housing shortage vanishes…mind you, if they’re going to do this thing properly, they need to hand out a gallon of vodka and forty Benson & Hedges with every kilo of cheeses.

  177. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2010 12:20 AM

    It’s a double Gloucester dip.

  178. hic8ubique permalink
    November 6, 2010 1:03 AM

    …how to play a song with one chord?
    …which coat of chain-mail would MM wear to a potw party the better to fend off adoring supplicants?
    and other mysteries, such as:

  179. Reine permalink
    November 6, 2010 2:48 AM

    The cheese revelation, announced on radio this a.m., has been the subject of unremitting merriment in Grimsville. If they provide wine and seedless grapes with it, I’m all for it but I think I am above the requisite income level and will have to continue to buy my own.

    Double Cheese Strings dip more than likely.

    Nothing wrong with your eyes at all then MM, eagle they are. I am over my McEwan phase.

    “Normal”? How you wound.

    The acoustics were shocking at the party but the vodka was fine. I got an eyelash stuck in my eye and everyone thought I was coming over all emotional. I was just weeping at all the bloody talk about football.

    Enjoy your sedation Hic.

  180. rarareen permalink
    November 6, 2010 2:57 AM

    Oh, yes, and there is a hurricane on the way apparently. It’s all go here.

  181. hic8ubique permalink
    November 6, 2010 3:01 AM

    Your eyes are the lovliest, Re. Your friend’s father had to make something up in haste, since you caught him out staring.
    Anyway, ‘cyclops’ typical classicist remark. Tch.

    Ah, Obliging Spouse shaved, gotta go…
    we just had an elocution discussion over whether the look I had given him prior to this tonsorial inspiration was offered ‘hotly’ or ‘haughtily’.
    I wasn’t aware of giving a look at all, but, all to the good…

  182. rarareen permalink
    November 6, 2010 3:03 AM

    Thanks Hic for leaping on that fishing rod.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 6, 2010 3:22 PM

      I’m a font of reassurance. Anytime.
      How’s your hurricane? a tumultuous privacy of storm?
      It may be same on that just cleared out here yesterday, big swells, surfers in wet-suits.

  183. November 6, 2010 9:51 AM

    Wait! What’s that knocking in the middle of the night?
    A spectre of sorts from the Isle of Wight
    As frights go he’s upped the ante
    A tennis-playing, gun-toting vigilante.

    Oh Bronson-Borg-Mowbray from whence have you sprung?
    The combination seems absurdly far- flung.

    You beat McEnroe for the fortieth time
    Then rush off in search of criminal slime
    Glock in one hand, Slazenger in the other
    You confront the murderer of your kid’s mother.

    A bullet knocks them down where they stand
    You finish them off with a perfect back hand.
    Before you feed the remains to your dog
    You post a comment about it on Mishari’s blog.

    Oh Bronson-Borg-Mowbray scourge of criminal folly
    Possessor of the finest forehand volley.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      November 6, 2010 5:02 PM

      Triffic! Particularly like the Slazenger/Glock combo. Return that!

    • November 6, 2010 7:55 PM

      Thank you.

      Mainly for resembling Borg and Bronson.

      A combination of Timothy West and Bryan Robson would have been a far more difficult poetic task.

  184. November 6, 2010 1:45 PM


    “Good point on the Presidency, Mr Augustine, though I’m still not sure why people wouldn’t vote for McGovern.”

    Let’s hear from George himself on that one:

    Barron: Can we talk a little about the 1972 campaign – Pat Buchanan told me about the way they went through all the documents on you, your public statements and voting record and pulled out one or two things they could use against you – what are your recollections of having what’s described as a “dirty tricks campaign” being waged against you?

    McGovern: It was devastating, I didn’t realise at the time how effective they were. They picked out three things and they just pounded those day and night on these little 30 second spots, sometimes up to 60 seconds on television, on radio, in direct mail, pounding away “George McGovern would take away our national defense”- they found were I had offered amendments to reduce the military budget, which I was proud of because I thought there were certain areas where it was excessive – but they had a hand on the television spots showing me wiping away half the navy, the next day half the army, the day after the Marine Corps. “WEAK ON DEFENSE, WEAK ON DEFENSE”. They had me advocating a plan to help poor people into a plan where practically everybody in the United States should be put on welfare – I said in the campaign that everyone should have at least a thousand dollar income base for every American, and it was very similar to a proposal President Nixon made then pulled away from. So they had a worker on the top floor of a building looking down – everybody else is loafing, they’re all on George McGovern’s welfare system.

    Thomas EagletonThen I had to replace my Vice Presidential nominee (Senator Tom Eagleton) in the election because it turned out he’d had a history of mental depression treated with electric-shock therapy and so on… and they had me changing my mind – they had a coin spinning; “Senator McGovern is for Senator Eagleton one day, the next he’s asking his to step down – against defense, everybody’s on welfare, can’t make up his mind” – and they pounded that every day. I thought it was kind of superficial tomfoolery – in a sense it was a cheap shot, but you forget that a lot of people don’t study the issue and don’t study the character of the candidates and their history – they see that ad on television when they come home from work, they see it before they leave for work in the morning, they see it Sunday afternoon, Saturday night on those three issues.

    Then they got three highly emotional issues; he’s for drugs, he’s for abortion-on-demand, he’s for amnesty (for draft-evading) soldiers. They called me the “Triple-A candidate” – acid, amnesty, abortion – pounded that night and day and they circulated this by word-of-mouth, by pamphlets, and again I didn’t think that people… here I am, a father, my father was a Methodist minister, I was a combat bomber pilot in world war two decorated with the distinguished flying cross – I didn’t think people would believe that thing – that was a miscalculation on my part.

  185. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2010 2:15 PM

    Re: Steven’s comment, see also John Kerry, the Swift Boating of.

    This just in:

    It used to be easy for moguls to flaunt their power. All they had to do was renovate the chalet in St. Moritz, buy the latest Gulfstream (GD) jet, lay off 5,000 employees, or marry a much younger Asian woman. By now, though, they’ve used up all the easy ways to distinguish themselves from the rest of us—which may be why a growing number of America’s most powerful bosses have become vegan.

    Steve Wynn, Mort Zuckerman, Russell Simmons, and Bill Clinton are now using tempeh to assert their superiority. As are Ford Executive Chairman of the Board Bill Ford (F), Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, venture capitalist Joi Ito, Whole Foods Market (WFMI) Chief Executive Officer John Mackey, and Mike Tyson.

    Yes, Mike Tyson, a man who once chewed on human ear, is now vegan. His dietary habit isn’t nearly as impressive as that of Alec Baldwin, though, who has found a way to be both vegan and fat at the same time. —Joel Stein

    …ouch. Poor Alec Baldwin.

  186. November 6, 2010 2:25 PM

    “His dietary habit isn’t nearly as impressive as that of Alec Baldwin, though, who has found a way to be both vegan and fat at the same time…”

    Let’s not forget the influence that non-carnivorous fare such as M&Ms, butterscotch milkshakes and Twinkie-melts can exert…

    (No such thing as a “Twinkie-melt”, yet, as far as I know, but it sounds plausible)

  187. November 6, 2010 2:35 PM

    After Morgan Spurlock ( an anagram if there ever was one ) did his documentary “Supersize me” MacDonalds introduced healthier food into their menu in order to counteract the bad publicity.

    Research uncovered that their salads contained roughly the same amount of fat as the burgers.

  188. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2010 3:12 PM

    A Twinkie Melt? Mmmmm…that comes with cheese and bacon, right?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 6, 2010 3:30 PM

      I’m reminded of the existence of this real American ‘food’:

      the deep-fried twinkie

  189. hic8ubique permalink
    November 6, 2010 3:15 PM

    …but their milk-shakes probably are vegan, since there’s no dairy ingredient whatsoever.

    I’ve made another mystery poem, but I can only print the title and first word of each line:

    Couldn’t Resistery




  190. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2010 3:24 PM

    Well, that’s mysterious, alright, hic. Perhaps I should do a crossword poem, consisting of clues…

    Finally, the Brown campaign trundled the Whitman campaign off to the graveyard with the two best campaign ads I’ve seen in decades, probably since the anti-Goldwater H-bomb/daisy ad in 1964. The first was the brilliant matching, word for word, of Whitman’s and Schwarzenegger’s campaign pledges; the other was one featuring Whitman’s glowing evocation of the golden California she first encountered when she moved to the state thirty years ago, with the laconic caption that this was when Brown was governing the state. —Alexander Cockburn


  191. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2010 3:25 PM


  192. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2010 3:49 PM

    I was making chilli for lunch,
    minced beef, onions, tinned tomatoes,
    salt and pepper, a hefty bunch
    of the parsley Mr Tesco grows.

    The stuff was perfumed like a dream
    a ragout of the highest class,
    I cracked a tin of kidney beans,
    and there I found a surging mass

    of glistening Edward Taylors.
    Flinching from their sorrowful gaze
    I gave the pot a pensive stir
    and thought I’d switch to bolognese.

  193. November 6, 2010 3:50 PM

    “Really, I’m embarrassing myself talking about America since I know nothing about the place.”

    Well, Maubry old chap, in that, at least you’ve got company.

    (Including more than a few of the soi-disant citoyens.)

    Plastic, is that the stuff that adheres to Teflon?

    Or was that Velcro?

  194. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2010 4:03 PM

    Thanks, Mr Augustine. My sources of information at the time were limited to the Daily Mail and the BBC, neither of them particularly informative. McGovern seemed so superior to Nixon in every way it was hard to believe he could lose.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 6, 2010 4:30 PM

      Horrifying and hilarious poem, MM.
      It’s the clearly superior candidates and bills that galvanise the most aggressive opposition, yes? That’s the pattern I’ve long observed, yet with astonishment each time.

      Someone asked about the Moral Majority. I recall this:

      “The Moral Majority is neither.”
      ~Rev. Wm Sloane Coffin Jr.

  195. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2010 4:14 PM

    I’m forswearing any further comment on the USA, Tom. There’s plenty of other stuff I know nothing about I can pontificate on.

    Why does anyone shave at night? It’s not like you’re going anywhere, is it? Baffling.

  196. November 6, 2010 4:27 PM


    At least George McGovern has the consolation that he was up against it before the days that a “dirty tricks” campaign was to pull a Paul Wellstone/ Mel Carnahan/ JFK Jr on you (Ie: catastrophic bad luck on a private plane)… while being not quite important enough to have a JFK/ MLK/RFK ordered. Happens in Banana Republics all the time, of course; the USA: a Banana Milkshake Republic?

    Some details:

    “Most people are not aware of how two strange deaths dramatically changed the balance of power in US government for two recent years. Democratic Senate candidate Mel Carnahan died in a private plane crash on Oct. 16, 2000, just three weeks before the 2000 elections. Mr. Carnahan went on to win the race as a dead man against his rival John Ashcroft (who went on to become appointed the U.S. Attorney General!).

    Carnahan’s wife was appointed to fill his position, but as she was appointed rather than elected, her Senate term was limited to two years rather than the normal six. She lost her 2002 race to her Republican opponent.

    On Oct. 24, 2002, just two weeks before the 2002 elections, Democratic Senate candidate Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. His wife died with him. Wellstone had been projected to win the election.

    His Republican rival went on to take the Senate seat.,2933,69286,00.html

  197. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2010 4:55 PM

    The Nation link doesn’t work, but I see the point. Supposing these deaths are suspicious, I wonder who would be behind them. It beggars belief that senior politicos are in any way involved. Or so I thought until I reflected that Gordon Liddy was just one step removed from the President. Anything’s possible.

  198. Reine permalink
    November 6, 2010 5:16 PM

    The calm before the storm
    Conflicts so horrid badly
    With the storm within my head
    I’m quite hungover, sadly
    I’d love a bowl of chilli
    Piquant with salt and spices
    And I’d swallow mini Eds
    Without any conscience crises

  199. November 6, 2010 6:10 PM


    Come now, mon vieux, let us never consider not knowing what we’re talking about a barrier to talking about it.

    That was obviously this fellow’s position, and he was right on the mark in his analysis of the Subversive Mickey Mouse.

  200. Solwing permalink
    November 6, 2010 8:23 PM

  201. reine permalink
    November 6, 2010 9:29 PM

    So he asked for everything but cheese. I think I know him. Pretty atrocious Irish accents Sol; I might offer my services for a voiceover.

  202. reine permalink
    November 6, 2010 9:32 PM

  203. rarareen permalink
    November 6, 2010 9:49 PM

    MM, I’ll send you a block of cheese if you can discern any of the other book titles!

  204. rarareen permalink
    November 6, 2010 9:59 PM

    My name it is an anagram of stuff that goes in cheese
    Well give or take a letter but pardon if you please
    I’m not as tasty as a block of orangey red Leicester
    Which, if I’m not mistaken, is made not far from Chester
    But I too go well with wine and a tasty wheaten biscuit
    and I melt at certain temperatures, if you’d be bent to risk it

  205. rarareen permalink
    November 6, 2010 10:04 PM

    Mish, you were there a minute ago amid my ramblings, where have you gone?

  206. mishari permalink*
    November 6, 2010 10:07 PM

    Sorry, I was trying to embed a very interesting video, explaining how Obama the Wall St stooge and the US financial services industry have fucked America and are now intent on doing the same to everyone else (again) and how the world has woken up to the fact and is refusing to bend over (excepting the UK and the Saudis, of course). I’ll just post a link to it:

    Well worth watching.

  207. rarareen permalink
    November 6, 2010 10:11 PM

    I haven’t gone completely mad then, that’s a relief!

  208. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2010 11:18 PM

    Couldn’t Resistery


    Sampan dweller, I wonder if you know
    whether Mr Wun Hung Lo will be back
    in his restaurant today? I saw him go
    in his motor earlier on. That black
    lapel said funeral. So, will he be

    nipping in at all? God, those wonderful
    boot-black duck eggs make me very weary
    of my usual fare. You can name your price
    if you can tell me what I want to know.
    Havana? Oh, banana. Sorry, no dice,

    all I have is my pen, watch and billfold,
    attribute of – oh, so you want my pen,
    well, good choice, Mont Blanc, silver barrel, gold
    nib. So, when’s he back? He’s gone where? Yemen!

  209. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 6, 2010 11:31 PM

    My 3x Tesco specs have gone missing, so I’m part-guessing here. The red-top looks vaguely familiar. Garret Fitzgerald’s Comprehensive Guide to Irish Railway Timetables? The yellow one must be A Cheese Connoisseur’s Handbook.

    Is that Saturday? I’m crossing myself.

  210. rarareen permalink
    November 7, 2010 12:26 AM

    Yes, it is Saturday. One Laughing Cow triangle for you.

    As I’m not in my office now, I can’t be sure what they are. The lying down red top is Brokeback Mountain which I’d loaned to a colleague. Garret FitzGerald (cap G to set himself apart from the common or garden Fitzgeralds) is more a bus man as far as I know. x

  211. November 7, 2010 12:54 AM

    Excellent post, M (despite the fact that I’m wary of Amy Goodman as a Liberal Gatekeeper only slightly better than pseudo-Lefty Arianna Huffington).

    The new evil comedy development of the moment is, of course, GWB’s sudden astonishing ability to show his face again, after the elections, which provides a false duality for all those idiotic Tea Baggers (I prefer the original term) who think Obama and GWB represent clashing worldviews (GWB the misunderstood good guy, Obama the slick foreign Negro with the evil rhetorical genius of a preacher/pimp)… when, in fact, they are clearly batting for the same team (or, in a better analogy, have the various digits of the same puppet master up their puppet-holes).

    The only truly “safe” currency of the future will be, of course, tinned tuna. Lots of it. And can openers. Worth their weight in Krugerrands. Vintage copies of Playboy might be worth something…

  212. Solwing permalink
    November 7, 2010 7:01 AM

  213. November 7, 2010 8:34 AM

    “I haven’t gone completely mad then, that’s a relief!”

    One important thing to remember about going completely mad is that one often doesn’t know it’s happened, when it has.

  214. November 7, 2010 9:12 AM

    Reine was the photo of you taken by your goldfish?

  215. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 7, 2010 11:25 AM

    I don’t know about the buses, Reine, but I had a friend (deceased now, sadly) who knew one of G. FitzGerald’s children. When he stayed with the family it soon became clear that GF shared my friend’s passion for railways. ‘He’s the only person I’ve met who knows as much about timetables as I do!’ he told me, while I dozed. Their time together was spent swapping questions about arcane railway facts.

    GF: Supposing you were travelling by train from Dublin to Galway in the autumn of 1952, which route would you choose?

    My chum: That old chestnut. The southern route, of course, since the track on the northerly route was up for repairs.

    GF: Good answer! That’s 25 – 24, correct?

    Must have been a great weekend.

  216. reine permalink
    November 7, 2010 12:59 PM

    Ed, the only goldfish I ever owned died a lonely death over the Christmas holidays once and never mastered the art of photography – that was taken by a colleague for an inhouse publication but came to nought (unsurprisingly).

    That’s interesting about GFG MM; the man is wildly intelligent, ironically he was probably too intelligent for politics.

    Tom, I take your point… I am refurbishing the attic and will live there from now on.

  217. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 7, 2010 1:42 PM

    My mistake, Reine. Checked with MrsM and GF’s major interest was/is buses. Railways were a secondary interest.
    The Mowbray memory is going the same way as his eyesight.

    • reine permalink
      November 7, 2010 1:53 PM

      Either way and notwithstanding his intelligence I wouldn’t want to get stuck in a lift with him. He was a most devoted husband to his late wife, Joan which I think endeared him to many at a time when public figures didn’t really give any glimpse of their private lives. I suspect Mrs M would testify to an equal if not greater devotion on your part.

  218. reine permalink
    November 7, 2010 1:48 PM

    Apropos of nothing but have just listened to this on the radio, suiting my mellow mood today. Dedicated to all those of you whose eyes are less than ideally spaced. Poor Sarah seems to be having a hot flush in this one.

  219. November 7, 2010 2:58 PM

    “Identifying common characteristics is the first step in the creation of a positive social group.”

    Being blind, batty and less than ideally spaced — shall we take these, then, as the ties that bind?

  220. hic8ubique permalink
    November 7, 2010 3:43 PM

    Myopic, spacey, ever at a loss for straight answers, will that do, Tom?

    Mowbray, I’m delighted to find your immensely skilled ‘Answers’ version. Was it an irresistible challenge?
    and why not get proper glasses? cheap plastic lenses go foggy.
    (Disclaimer: That last remark was not intended as economic supremacy nor intended to disenfranchise anybody.)

    Mishari~ That Democracy Now video helped resolve my confusion over the QE talk in both US and UK, (others may refer to this depraved alliance as USUK) but was helpful well beyond that. I intend to circulate it. Thank you.

    Glad you’re back in form, Re.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      November 7, 2010 11:34 PM

      Couldn’t resistery, hic. Pointless unnecessary task, I’m on it. Urgent important assignment, cba. I can afford proper glasses, but I lose or break them so quickly I’d be down the optician’s every other day.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 8, 2010 1:07 AM

      Mowbray, I just want to say one word to you.
      One word.
      Are you listening?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      November 8, 2010 12:48 PM

      There’s no need to be offensive.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 8, 2010 2:37 PM

      Yes, Yes, clearly I do need to be offensive. I need to offend those who, unlike yourself, cannot afford proper glasses, as well as those who know that the planet is being poisoned in the pursuit of ever lighter yet irrefrangible bicycles, and that’s just before breakfast. I’ll work up to further insensitivity after partaking of provisions I should be feeding to worthier folk.
      Would anyone like this orange?

  221. mishari permalink*
    November 7, 2010 5:55 PM

    Glad you found it informative, hic. And now, it’s lunacy time, featuring (typically) a Frenchman. The commentary is rubbish but still:

  222. hic8ubique permalink
    November 7, 2010 6:20 PM

    ” I broke my fork and then ate a volcano.”
    That’s the ultimate face-plant. I’m surprised it didn’t rip a hole in his aorta, which can happen on impact at 70 mph in a ‘normal’ person, or so I’ve read.

  223. reine permalink
    November 7, 2010 8:45 PM

    Window Watcher

    Prickly creature, slow whirling dervish
    Your vulnerability’s making me nervous
    What if a fox should a sudden accost you?
    I know we’re not close but I’d be sad if we lost you
    Don’t know if you’d welcome a pat on the bum
    Then again I don’t know if you even have one
    But I’d like to direct you towards a safer haven
    Away from the beak of that low flying raven
    Run little hedge dweller, get out of the way
    I don’t want your spines mashed in soil underlay

  224. reine permalink
    November 7, 2010 9:03 PM

    The Ties that Bind

    We are connected
    On our own grid
    By forces unknown
    And unnamed, in a bid
    To meet other minds
    To touch other hearts
    To entwine our antennae
    To foster what starts
    As a mere interjection
    Or blithe speculation
    And then join the dots
    in our imagination
    Avatars, gravatars, names
    Biog snatches
    It’s a mystery what binds us
    What force it is thatches
    our myriad bits together
    and matches
    What elsewhere might seem
    So diverse in despatches
    Long may they continue
    Can we call ourselves friends?
    Well, that’s a big question
    I guess it depends…

  225. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 7, 2010 11:40 PM

    I saw a cat jump on a hedgehog once. I think it got the point.

    I had a text from my daughter tonight, who was attending the fireworks at Victoria Park. The theme, curiously, was The Blitz. Rather like having a 9/11 themed air show.

    • reine permalink
      November 8, 2010 12:15 AM

      Very good MM, poor cat.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      November 8, 2010 12:38 AM

      I lifted it from Dr No. Or was it Thunderball? I should have said that Victoria Park is in the East End of London, hence… must go to bed. Laters.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      November 8, 2010 12:51 PM

      Apparently they started with the music from ‘London’s Burning’. Tasteless or what.

  226. hic8ubique permalink
    November 7, 2010 11:43 PM

    The Strands that Sing
    like shimmers of lark-song
    say (((((( yes ))))))
    what means Friend?
    if not this we slake
    with simultaneously
    partaken beverages
    skoaling apart together

  227. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 8, 2010 12:15 AM

    Missed your deleted comment on POTW, hic. Anything good?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 8, 2010 1:02 AM

      Wow. Thanks for asking MM, or I’d not have realised til I’d refreshed the page. Sort of scary that they wasted no time at all. It was a rather benign and fanciful salvo to Des, who had offered some interesting posts, actually on topic. The mods seem to be on a tear. We must be under their keenest lens. It was just as follows:

      some excellent
      on Emerson
      seem to have been s u b l i m .a . t . e . d
      or wind ~ ~ ~ ~ ~driven~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ awa~y
      from our midst,,,
      though they were most
      {Welcome}. pinkroom
      may have been too

  228. November 8, 2010 12:27 AM

    Someone just minted the t-shirt of the year over at the Guardian…. copyright this and make a fortune:


    7 November 2010 10:37PM

    I was into the Chilean miners when they were still underground, but now they’re too mainstream.”

  229. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 8, 2010 12:46 AM

    There was a selection of tweets on them in the G mag on Saturday,

    ‘If I wasn’t trapped down this mine I’d probably be at work, down this mine.’

    The bloke tweeting as Cheryl Cole was good,

    ‘Wei’s the govamint gerrin rid a quangeaus? Leik Ah really enjoy a bag just as a snack noo an then. Specialee cheeze flava.’

  230. Solwing permalink
    November 8, 2010 3:04 AM

  231. goldgathers permalink
    November 8, 2010 10:54 AM

    Hi reine: thanks for coming along on Wednesday: glad you enjoyed the reading.

  232. goldgathers permalink
    November 8, 2010 10:57 AM

    They did say of Daniel O’C that if you threw your hat over the wall of any orphanage in Ireland, it would land on one of his offspring.

    • Reine permalink
      November 8, 2010 12:00 PM

      My pleasure, Billy.

      So he emancipated his wild oats as well. Good old Dan.

  233. hic8ubique permalink
    November 8, 2010 7:28 PM


    Starlings seething for yew berries,
    the flocks flights skeins and pairs
    retreating South are suspended
    already on their way are returning.
    Already my children are ancient
    even as I am yet with infancy.

    The more I’m here, hands gently in
    your crooked shoulder, my heart
    surrounding our tensegrity,
    the more I am with you folding
    lives before and since and during
    this dream-waking all spanned
    spun in this berry moment
    the seed inside it laughing.

Comments are closed.