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A Huge and Birdless Silence

December 15, 2010



We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multi-coloured, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals…

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, “The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism” (1909)

…and I believe we did…sort of.

Well…another year ends and we’re still here. It’ll be 2 years in January, which is the equivalent of 2 centuries in interwebz-time. We’re all a bit older, possibly a bit wiser [Nah-Ed.], but not, I think, any closer to running out of things to talk about. So, thanks for the lulz (as today’s exciting yoofs might say), the insights and the absorbing conversations.

I wish you all an enjoyable shopping and gorging season [He means Christmas-Ed.] and a happy new year and I’ll leave you with this seasonal pick-me-up from that madcap scamp, Philip Larkin:



Next, Please

Always too eager for the future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
Something is always approaching; every day
‘Till then’ we say,

Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.
How slow they are! And how much time they waste,
Refusing to make haste!

Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks
Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks
Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked,
Each rope distinct,

Flagged, and the figurehead with golden tits
Arching our way, it never anchors; it’s
No sooner present than it turns to past.
Right to the last

We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long.
But we are wrong:

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.

Philip Larkin (1951)

Seasonal poems, would, of course, be welcome.

  1. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 15, 2010 11:36 AM

    My thanks to you for maintaining a consistently interesting and entertaining stream of blogposts.

    Are you going somewhere warmer? It looks like I shall be becoming further acquaintated with the roof.

  2. mishari permalink*
    December 15, 2010 11:48 AM

    Nah…as the choices were Paris or here, I turned mulish. Maybe I’ll buy a sunlamp. The in-laws and co. are coming here instead.

    I expect I’ll spend the next fortnight with a vodka/heroin/ecstasy drip plugged directly into my femoral artery…you know…in keeping with the Christmas spirit and all.

    Have you considered moving to a nice, warm cave? Plenty for sale in Andalucia, as you can see.

  3. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 15, 2010 12:12 PM

    That’s not a bad idea. It’s always annoyed me that the two houses either side of us have cellars and ours doesn’t. The old chap (now deceased) who lived in one of them told me he’d tunnelled out some extra space for a workroom back in the 1930s. It was quite warm down there.

  4. December 15, 2010 12:22 PM

    Work, De Lillo’s “Underground”, a pile of comic books ( David B’s latest “The Littlest Pirate King” is like Kuniyoshi in story form ) and weasel-watching ( not a euphemism! we have a small population who sniff round the house and look into our bay windows to see if we are fat enough to eat yet) will keep my usual seasonal melancholy at bay.

    Have an enjoyable Xmas/pagan ritual/crystal meth binge ( delete where applicable ). LSD in liquid form dripped directly into the eyes is, I’m told fairly effective. No need for an Xmas tree, quarter-sized or otherwise.

  5. mishari permalink*
    December 15, 2010 12:30 PM

    You can add ‘…watching Boardwalk Empire’ to that list, Ed (which I popped in the post yesterday, having discovered the unposted envelope under a pile of papers on my desk–sorry). I’m interested to hear what you all think of it. I really like it.

    It’s not often that I can honestly say that my mind has well and truly boggled, but this boggled it:

    A man in his thirties was reportedly caught masturbating in a library – while reading Lord Alan Sugar’s autobiography.

    The Sun reports that the unidentified man was observed acting strangely while browsing the business section of Crawley Library last week.

    Staff saw him choose What You See Is What You Get before he covered his lap with his coat and proceeded to touch himself.

    “He spent about 20 minutes looking through the books in the business section before selecting Alan Sugar’s autobiography,” a source said. “He was behaving rather oddly so we kept an eye on him and then he just sat down with his coat over his lap and started pleasuring himself as he looked through the book.

    “It was very bizarre behaviour and our security guys got a hold of him before too many people saw what he was doing.”

    Security guards detained the man before police arrived and held him on suspicion of outraging public decency. He has since been cautioned and banned from using the library.–

    I think I’m going to have to disinfect the inside of my skull now…

  6. December 15, 2010 12:54 PM

    Mishari As usual very kind of you – if you like comic books I’d recommend the work of French cartoonist Baru. He’s done some great boxing stories which I seem to remember ( through a haze of insulin and I can’t believe it’s Methadone! spread on toast ) is a passion of yours.

  7. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 15, 2010 1:31 PM

    Alan Sugar. Mmmmm. Sweet.

  8. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 15, 2010 2:37 PM

    Happy Christmas

    Another year, another goose on order,
    another of those miniature windows
    on my personal advent calendar
    open on a bleached wilderness of snow,
    and there I am, trudging to the horizon,
    a lubberly Captain Scott whose lack
    of gumption, ambition or direction
    can’t stop those marching boots. There’s no way back.

    Under the tree the presents are waiting,
    loss of memory, liver spots, nose hair,
    and standing out from the rest the big one,
    in its feature all-black packaging,
    which, despite the others being so poor,
    is the one I really don’t want to open.

    • Reine permalink
      December 15, 2010 6:00 PM

      Don’t open it MM. I’d never survive.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 15, 2010 10:21 PM

      …and I thought I’d had a bad day. Good poem though.

      Maybe some will remember ‘Pat the Bunny’?
      It was a tactile/sensory book for toddlers, which I believe is still in print. Well, yesterday, I saw a parody:
      ‘Pat the Husband’. When I came to the part where the husband is keenly aware of the hair he’s losing, but oblivious to the hair he’s gaining…and turned the page to see the sprouting (in 3D) ears, nose &c. I was reduced to uncontrollable laughter there in the (fortunately abandoned) bookshop. Honestly, the tears were streaming.

      Today, I might have wept for other reasons. (For my wickedness, Reine?)
      Must go borrow a car to transport the child, since mine is indisposed and has caused me some not inconsiderable inconvenience. At least the mobile worked, and I’m able to operate it.
      Hate watching my car sailing away from me attached to a tow-truck…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 15, 2010 10:33 PM

      I plan to delay it as long as possible, Reine.

      I was actually a bit shocked last week to see 2 hairs on my ears, one on each lug, wiry black chaps about an inch long. The first of many, I suppose.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 15, 2010 11:14 PM

      ‘lug’ ??
      an act or instance of lugging; a forcible pull; haul.
      a wooden box for transporting fruit or vegetables.
      Slang . a request for or exaction of money, as for political purposes: They put the lug on him at the office.

      1300–50; ME luggen < Scand; cf. Norw lugge, Sw lugga to pull by the hair

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 15, 2010 11:21 PM


      Slang. an ear, as in lughole, or holes. From the wings or lugs of a wingnut, which are ear-shaped.


      Fuck knows.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 15, 2010 11:27 PM

      ‘Toby jugs’: lugs

      probably used as a handle by Dickensian schoolmasters.

  9. Reine permalink
    December 15, 2010 3:24 PM

    Hula dancing tree
    Slightly tilted, tad too wide
    Decorated mainly
    on the room-faced side

    Twinkles in the window
    As I drive up the road
    Exhausted from the footfall
    Soon divested of the load

    Tradition of the season
    Some panettone and wine
    Weather’s turning cold out
    But inside I feel just fine

    Husband one is here
    Son and daughter either side
    The first is mine, the second
    A tiny image of our pride

    And here too, husband two
    Filling glasses to the brim
    And baby’s mother, lovely Jane
    Is listening, intent, to him

    Pour forth as he pours
    On the socialist condition
    The mindless wanking bankers
    And his hopes for coalition

    Yes, it’s that time of year again
    Christmas in our home
    One more here than last time
    Twinkling in the yuletide gloam

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 15, 2010 10:41 PM

      A nice picture of the Reines at home, and an astute bit of smuggling.

    • Reine permalink
      December 16, 2010 11:09 AM

      Okay, having thought about it long and hard, I must swallow my pride and ask to what the “smuggling” refers … carriage of contraband or quality of being smug?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 16, 2010 11:27 AM

      Sorry, I thought you were obliquely demonstrating HI’s political stance (since I assumed it had to be kept sub rosa). I’m obviously being infected with conspiracyitis.

    • Reine permalink
      December 16, 2010 12:23 PM

      Oh, I was indeed – nothing oblique about it.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 16, 2010 1:48 PM

      Except that it’s in a poem. Anyway, my apologies, I was trying to be discreet in my elephantine way.

  10. December 15, 2010 4:20 PM

    Geopolitical redbreasts

    Demonstrably demonstrated on the bird-table
    Territorial advantages unsure and unstable
    Temporarily on top, a king of the hill
    Robin 1 remembers to make most of his fill.

    His time at the top is brilliant but brief
    Soon will flit in a territorial thief
    Postioning himself to defend the feeder
    Robin 2 installs himself as the new leader

    Robin 2’s time at the top is sweet but short
    His boundaries will need a fight to be fought
    Flitting off to counter his arch enemy
    Robin 2 rapidly replaced by Robin 3.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 15, 2010 10:42 PM


  11. hic8ubique permalink
    December 15, 2010 11:51 PM

    You’re all ahead of me in the festive mood, but I have a tale untold akin to Mishari’s creepy Crawley Library man…

    Last time I flew East on a red-eye, I was in a window seat, the middle was empty (thank heavens) and in the aisle seat was a rather stout but well-suited business-man.
    When the lights went down after the movie, he dozed off (really! he was asleep) and began a sort of spastic spanking activity. (I’m now laughing too hard to type)…
    He’d wake himself up, shift a bit, doze off again, and resume! I felt like I was a Candid Camera victim, but they could never have… um… pulled this off?
    There was no aid in sight, and I had to decide whether to try to go to sleep ignoring him, or ask to be moved, (no available window seats) which would have disturbed everyone about.
    I decided not to risk embarrassing him, put on my eye-mask, and turned up my music.
    I’d forgotten him til reading about Crawley man.

  12. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:20 AM

    What, you mean with full exposure? I would have to question his state of consciousness if that was the case. I caught a bloke in the act while at school (merciless punishment ensued) and my uncle walked in on me while I was studying some exotic literature when I was about 12. He was still sniggering years later.

  13. hic8ubique permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:32 AM

    No exposure of flesh, but certainly exposed to observation with no effort at concealment from other passengers.
    In retrospect, he may have been one of the (now familiar in every household) bankers.

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:45 AM

    No, they have their hands in other people’s pockets.

    Sorry, I have a call from Matt Ress. Must take it. Laters.

  15. reine permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:49 AM

    Cinderella calling…

    A Cork DJ went the whole hog on an Aer Lingus flight in October…

  16. reine permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:50 AM

    It’s about the best use an in-flight magazine could be put to… Nurofen has never had that effect on me, thankfully.

    • reine permalink
      December 16, 2010 12:56 AM

      Moral of the story – never masturbate with a journalist sitting in the adjacent seat.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 16, 2010 1:02 AM

      Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever met a journalist who wasn’t a potent anaphrodisiac.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 16, 2010 1:24 AM

      Librarians on the other hand…

      I’m selfishly pleased you won’t be abandoning us for a warm cave this festive season, Mishari.
      Have you thought about an infra-red sauna?

    • mishari permalink*
      December 16, 2010 1:34 AM

      Sounds too much like being cooked. I’ll just settle for a good log fire and an occasional rubdown with brandy and chili peppers…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 16, 2010 1:42 AM

      Hm, maybe put the peppers in some of your olive oil. The brandy could be sticky…
      sub-optimal lubricity, but the fire I approve.

  17. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 12:51 AM

    Very sinister development in the Julian Assange case:

    The decision to have Julian Assange sent to a London jail and kept there was taken by the British authorities and not by prosecutors in Sweden, as previously thought, the Guardian has learned.

    The Crown Prosecution Service will go to the high court tomorrow to seek the reversal of a decision to free the WikiLeaks founder on bail, made yesterday by a judge at City of Westminster magistrates court.

    It had been widely thought Sweden had made the decision to oppose bail, with the CPS acting merely as its representative. But today the Swedish prosecutor’s office told the Guardian it had “not got a view at all on bail” and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail.

    Lawyers for Assange reacted to the news with shock and said CPS officials had told them this week it was Sweden which had asked them to ensure he was kept in prison.

    Karin Rosander, director of communications for Sweden’s prosecutor’s office, told the Guardian: “The decision was made by the British prosecutor. I got it confirmed by the CPS this morning that the decision to appeal the granting of bail was entirely a matter for the CPS. The Swedish prosecutors are not entitled to make decisions within Britain. It is entirely up to the British authorities to handle it.”

    As a result, she said, Sweden will not be submitting any new evidence or arguments to the high court hearing tomorrow morning. “The Swedish authorities are not involved in these proceedings. We have not got a view at all on bail.”–The Grauniad, tonight

    Hmmmmm…what’s the betting that the UK authorities are holding him to give the US time enough to come up with some way of concocting extraditable charges?

  18. obooki permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:51 AM

    I know we were talking about the odd bias around Assange’s Wikileaks. – Today we have two stories about BP:

    Story A: today US govt files lawsuit against BP for negligence:

    Story B: Wikileak about BP negligence elsewhere:

    What a curious coincidence!

  19. December 16, 2010 9:23 AM

    The dear friends I’ve been arguing with, re: the Assange problem, have been falling strangely silent, one by one, as this absurdly transparent narrative plays out. Things to look for in upcoming releases: Oswald really, really was the lone shooter, Benjamin Netanyahu is a genuinely nice guy and something or other about spiritually-ascended Extraterrestrials sighted in Australia around the time Mr. Assange was conceived…

  20. December 16, 2010 9:38 AM

    Plus have you ever seen Julian Assange in the same room at the same time as Elvis?

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      December 16, 2010 11:23 AM

      There is a similarity with British actor Julian Sands, though.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 16, 2010 11:39 AM

      You’re right…I hadn’t caught that but he does look remarkably like Sands, especially Sands in Leaving Las Vegas

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      December 16, 2010 11:45 AM

      Yup. And the Sands in Las Vegas was where they filmed the plane crash in Con Air. Both films starred Nicolas Cage, who once also played an Elvis impersonator.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 16, 2010 11:53 AM

      Coincidence or….? The truth is out there…

    • December 16, 2010 12:38 PM

      Sterling detective work HLM

  21. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 11:20 AM

    WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors, seeking to build a case against the WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange for his role in a huge dissemination of classified government documents, are looking for evidence of any collusion in his early contacts with an Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the information.

    Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system.

    If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them. —The NYT, today

    As I said last night, it’s clear that Britain is holding Assange until the US can build an extraditable case against him.

  22. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 11:55 AM

    Good post by Joe Bageant on

    Our hyper capitalist system, through command of our research, media and political institutions, expands upon and disseminates only that information which generates money and transactions. It avoids, neglects or spins the hell out of information that does not.

    And if none of those work, the info is exiled to some corner of cyberspace such as Daily Kos, where it cannot change the status quo, yet can be ballyhooed as proof of our national freedom of expression. Here come the rotten eggs from the Internet liberals.

    Cyberspace by nature feels very big from the inside, and its affinity groups, seeing themselves in aggregate and in mutual self reference, imagine their role bigger and more effective than it is.

    From within the highly directed, technologically administrated, marketed-to and propagandized rat cage called America, this is all but impossible to comprehend. Especially when corporate owned media tells us it is.

    Take the world recent shaking WikiLeak’s “revelations” of Washington’s petty misery and drivel, which are scarcely revelations, just more extensive details about what we all already knew.

    Come on now, is it a revelation that Karzai and his entire government is a nest of fraudulent double-crossing thieves? Or that the US is duplicitous? Or that Angela Merkel is dull? The main revelation in the WikiLeaks affair was the U.S. government’s response — which was to bring US freedom of speech policy firmly in line with China’s.

    Millions of us in cyber ghettoes saw it coming, but our alarm warnings were shouted inside a cyberspace vacuum bell jar.

    Bear in mind that I am writing this from outside the US borders and media environment, where people watch the WikiLeaks story unfold more in amusement than anything else.

    The WikiLeaks affair is surely seismic to those whose asses ride on the elite diplomatic intrigues. But in the big picture it will not change the way the top lizards in global politics, money and war have done business since the feudal age — which is to say with arrogant disregard for the rest of us.

    Theirs is an ancient system of human dominance that only shifts names and methodologies over the centuries. Two years from now, little will have changed in the old, old story of the powerful few over the powerless many. In this overarching drama, Obama, Hillary and Julian Assange are passing players.

    Watching the sweaty, fetid machinations of our overlords with such passionate involvement only keeps us from seeing the big picture — that they are the players and we are the pawns.

    Still, I for one am in favor of giving Assange the Médaille militaire, the Noble Prize, 15 virgins in paradise and a billion in cash as a reward for his courage in doing damned well the only significant thing that can be done at this time — momentarily fucking up government control of information.

    But “potentially stimulating a new age of U.S. government transparency,” (BBC) it ain’t.

    Which brings us to back to the question of cultural ignorance. For ten points, why was Julian Assange forced to do what the world press was supposed to be doing in the first place?

  23. December 16, 2010 12:21 PM

    “Which brings us to back to the question of cultural ignorance. For ten points, why was Julian Assange forced to do what the world press was supposed to be doing in the first place?”

    John Swinton is the best guy to answer that one (c. 1880):

    “Swinton was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying:

    There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

    There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

    The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

    We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.

    (Source: Labor’s Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.)

  24. December 16, 2010 12:36 PM

    A spy’s Xmas

    Put a spy-cam in a sprig of holly
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.
    Tis the season to poison a brolly
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.

    Prove Julian gay without a doubt,
    Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
    Trolls and hackers sniff them out
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.

    Diversionary tactics spread out before us
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.
    Leak them out, hail the press chorus.
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.

    Smoke and mirrors are our pleasure,
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.
    Double and triple bluffs made at leisure,
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.

    Fast away old technology passes,
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.
    We hardly need to get up off our arses,
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.

    Sing we joyous, all together,
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.
    Heedless of the financial weather,
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.

  25. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 1:50 PM

    Something tells me ET has broached the Bristol Cream.

  26. December 16, 2010 1:55 PM

    I never touch posh cider MM

  27. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 2:36 PM

    Using my telepathic powers, I’ve been listening in on Mowbray as he has a little mull:

    …the waxing moon rides across the zenith of the heavens like an ambered chariot towards the ebon void of infinite space wherein the tethered belts of Jupiter and Mars hang forever festooned in their orbital majesty…I really must put a roof on this lavatory.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 16, 2010 2:48 PM

      I don’t know who you’re tuning into there. As John Mortimer’s father observed, opium makes you a stranger to the toilet.

  28. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 2:42 PM

    Christmas Present

    The lights are on the Xmas tree,
    the decorating’s done
    I’m waiting behind the settee
    for Santa Claus to come.

    At last I hear his scrabbling
    and when he’s on the mat
    I run out already swinging
    my leaded baseball bat.

    I beat him on his scarlet belly
    and kick him really hard,
    ‘Now where’s my fucking Ferrari
    you fungus-faced old fraud!’

    He spits out teeth and says to me,
    ‘Get off, you stupid cunt,
    it wouldn’t fit down the chimney
    I’ve parked it out the front.’

    ‘Nice one,’ I say, but I don’t think,
    ‘OK, you’re in the clear,
    eat up your pie and have your drink
    then fuck off out of here.’

    I charge out to the road outside,
    no Ferrari to be seen,
    just my Vauxhall Suicide
    in light metallic green.

    The sitting-room’s deserted now,
    the fucker’s had it away
    I see him through the window
    jetting off on his sleigh.

    And as he gives me a V-sign
    and vanishes in the sky
    I hope he enjoys the strychnine
    I put in his mince pie.

  29. December 16, 2010 2:46 PM

    Something tells me MM has broached the evostik.

  30. Reine permalink
    December 16, 2010 3:18 PM

    Edward’s on the babycham
    Melton’s drinking Bristol Cream
    Hic is smearing stuff on ham
    Mishari oversees his team

    Reine’s making sherry trifle
    If MM leaves a drop behind
    Freep is cleaning out his rifle
    Zeph is zesting orange rind

    Freep goes out to shoot a turkey
    Simon’s knitting socks and jocks
    Captain Ned wants some beef jerky
    With Simon’s vodka on the rocks

    HLM is making baubles
    To hang on MM’s quarter tree
    Steve Augustine sings of joy bells
    While trying to make cranberry jelly

    The door bursts open and GG
    Arrives with crackers and a bottle
    Whiskey? I ask, he cannot hear me
    Above Mishari’s master throttle

    He’s trying to sort the seating plan
    When Exit B arrives at last
    All admire his berry flan
    Ignore his flies which are half mast

    Obooki’s stuck in traffic
    Hopes to make it here by noon
    GG says the girls look sapphic
    But Hicster’s making eyes at Moon

    Des and Pink are in the garden
    Arguing about Pink’s Tweed
    Mishari roars “I beg your pardon”
    “Get the fuck off my prize weed”

    Reine makes an Irish coffee
    For the workers on their break
    MM chokes on licorice toffee
    Ed Heimlichs him back awake

    Reine tells him he should rest
    Take a load off until dinner
    She helps him undress to his vest
    And thinks she’s on a winner

    Just at the crucial moment
    A gun rings in the distance
    Freep has got his turkey
    Which all must pluck at his insistence

    This is the Christmas story
    Of the PH Christmas do
    Raucous, touching, sometimes gory
    But never dull, thanks to you …( Mishari, contributors all and apologies to anyone I’ve forgotten…)

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      December 16, 2010 3:57 PM

      Perfect, Reine, with just the right amount of sexual tension. After two months of solitary confinement I would appreciate a shared sherry, I could kill for some prize weed and I’d rather have a Heimlich than a pluck.

      Thanks to you for your irrepressible enthusiasm. And to mine host, second to none. And

  31. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 4:03 PM

    Good one. Preternaturally quick, too.

    Point of information: as he has kindly informed us, it’s the Prince who wears vests (and long johns). I’m a muscle shirt man myself. Well, a formerly-muscle shirt man.

  32. December 16, 2010 4:41 PM

    Knitting!? And I thought she liked me. Nice poom, R

  33. hic8ubique permalink
    December 16, 2010 4:48 PM

    A triumph, Reine! You’ve done us proud. Your verse is a tonic in our trials.
    I’ve cancelled work, since our uppermost central-heating zone is on the fritz, and we’re at 30*F today. A long walk after lunch I think.

    On the subject of muscle shirts, MM…
    A couple of years ago, I was shopping for what the girls here call a ‘tank-top’ in white, or so I thought. When I asked for this item in a shop for young teens, the shop-girl said:
    ‘Oh, you mean like a wife-beater?’
    I blinked at her and said ‘I beg your pardon?’
    That’s what they’re called now, perhaps in the tradition of Stanley Kowalski?
    My son wears them at the gym and calls them simply: ‘beaters’.
    It’s amusing in retrospect.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 16, 2010 8:22 PM

      Wasn’t there a discussion about wifebeaters (the shirt) on GU? I seem to remember SM Pugh was involved.

      I saw some film of the eastern US on the TV news tonight. Looks chilly.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 16, 2010 9:43 PM

      I never saw that discussion, but I’m sure smpugh was disobliged by the the word. If she’s upset by poetess…

      I opted for the beach since the sun was still on it by the time I got out there, not too windy, not to drear. It was chilly, but being well-layered, I was not.
      I may even have looked a bit sapphic, though I trust this is seldom the case.

      Having had *two* mechanical failures within 24 hrs, I’m apprehensive of a trinity, but trying not to think of it.
      trying…trying, but wary.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 16, 2010 11:05 PM

      SM Pugh, 23rd Oct

      What in the name of God does a “wifebeater blouse” look like? I can’t even begin to picture one!

      It was on the Martin Amis/Phillip Larkin thread. Much as I admire her, SMP sometimes sounds like Margaret Rutherford in a particularly bad mood.

      The pics from the USA featured a lighthouse completely coated in ice. Doesn’t sound like it’s that bad where you are.

      Better check your CH boiler. You don’t want that to be your third accident.

    • Reine permalink
      December 16, 2010 11:54 PM

      Hic, I hope a third event does not unfold. A beach would have been nice today. Saw that lighthouse too, pretty spectacular. On pick up duty of the young uns so off into the elements. x

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 17, 2010 12:13 AM

      I’ve come to appreciate her wit, but she doesn’t give an inch.
      The man came to clean the flue last week, terrible smutty job down in the crypt, so that’s
      p r o b a b l y alright.
      When I collect my car in the morning, with its new brakes cables, I’ll probably find out the exhaust is about to fall off next, or some such.
      Mind you, I’m an optimist, but trinities have a way of prevailing.

    • Reine permalink
      December 17, 2010 12:32 AM

      Christ, not a third husband in store. Will have to change my name to Zsa Zsa.

      The child is a leading light on the Intel community forum – one of their youth reps. They fed him, got him drunk and gave him a hamper. All is not lost in the Celtic tiger..

    • Reine permalink
      December 17, 2010 12:45 AM

      How prescient of me… Zsa Zsa stated, “Men have always liked me and I have always liked men. But I like a mannish man, a man who knows how to talk to and treat a woman—not just a man with muscles [but especially a man with a muscle shirt].”

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 17, 2010 12:45 AM

      Sorry I missed your earlier post, Re; there was a delay.
      I don’t think you need to marry the next one, unless you want more babies?
      How did we get here from mechanical failures?

    • Reine permalink
      December 17, 2010 12:48 AM

      A curious segue right enough. ‘night Hicster

  34. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 7:08 PM

    Kevin Keegan – Surrealist Poet

    “The ref was vertically 15 yards away. He has a moustache.”

    “It’s like a toaster, the ref’s shirt pocket. Every time there’s a tackle, up pops a yellow card. I’m talking metaphysically now of course.”

    “I don’t think there’s anyone bigger or smaller than Maradona. You seen the pictures as well Clive. Like an acorn I tells ya, just like an acorn.”

    “You can’t do better than go away from home and get a draw.”

    “I came to Nantes two years ago and it’s much the same today, except that it’s totally different. The red light district is still the same mind you. Though it’s a lot bigger. And more expensive. I prefer Hamburg, more variety. There are these ladies there with fully formed moustaches, know what I mean.”

    “The good news for Nigeria is that they’re two-nil down very early in the game.”

  35. December 16, 2010 7:26 PM

    Ian Holloway manager of Blackpool runs Keegan close in the surrealism stakes.

    * If you’re a burglar, it’s no good poncing about outside somebody’s house, looking good with your swag bag ready. Just get in there, burgle them and come out. I don’t advocate that obviously, it’s just an analogy.

    * Why haven’t they got cameras? The officials can speak to each other easily enough now. Why aren’t we using laptops that are linked up and can give a decision in five seconds? A chimpanzee could do it – with not much training. We might as well go back to being cavemen, grab our girl by the hair, drag her into the cave whether she wants to come in or not because we may as well live in that age. We’ve come forward, haven’t we?

    * In the first-half we were like the Dog and Duck, in the second-half we were like Real Madrid. We can’t go on like that. At full-time I was at them like an irritated Jack Russell.

    * I’d rather do that than build chicken sheds no-one wanted!

    * Reporter: Ian, have you got any injury worries? Holloway: No, I’m fully fit, thank you.

  36. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 7:38 PM

    Lovely, Ed…’No, I’m fully fit, thank you’. A new hero for my Pantheon.

    BTW, I’ve been trying to post comments on obooki’s blog for the past couple of weeks but keep getting ‘this service is temporarily unavailable’ message’. Is it just me?

  37. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 8:09 PM

    I posted a comment last night without any problem. He’s changed the template: I don’t know if that would make a difference.

    You’ll have to read The Canal, it’s a scream.

  38. December 16, 2010 8:17 PM

    I’ve just had a comment posted so it must be you.

    Quicker than usual too plus you get a growly face with your name on it. Mine looks a bit like an irritated Jack Russell.

  39. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 8:26 PM

    Nope. Just tried again…I keep getting this:

    …been getting the same thing for the last couple of weeks.

    OK, that link just shows a blank page but what I actually get is the message I related earlier. I wonder if my anti-virus is playing silly buggers?

  40. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 8:29 PM

    Yours looks positively savage, ET. A slavering triangle.

  41. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 8:31 PM

    is what my link says.

  42. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 8:32 PM

    This is the actual message I get:

    Service Temporarily Unavailable

    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

  43. December 16, 2010 8:35 PM

    Is The Canal so bad it’s good? Is it just bad in the original non-Michael Jackson meaning of the word or is it genuinely funny?

  44. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 8:35 PM

    The link I posted is where I get taken when I try to post a comment, MM, and where I get the ‘Service…’ etc etc message…weird. Been the same for at least 2 weeks. Maybe I should try re-logging in.

  45. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 8:41 PM

    OK…finally worked it out. It wouldn’t accept comments as long as I had the ‘Website URL’ line filled in (which it was, as it’s been for the last 2 years). Odd.

    The lines you quote from The Canal sound hilariously bad. And this clown is the heir to Joyce ect etc? Jesus…

  46. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 10:53 PM

    I just came across this:

    ‘Even as a young child I understood impulse. I understood that there were no real reasons to my actions, as much as anyone else’s.’

    It reminds me of a certain Estonian language-mangling machine.

    I just don’t know, ET. obooki has contended that Rourke may be a master of the first-person narrative and that all these apparent infelicities are designed to develop the character. That’s always a good defence, but in this case it simply makes the character seem illiterate, pretentious, dim-witted and grotesquely comic. Is that Rourke’s intention? I’ll give you my opinion when I’ve finished it.

  47. mishari permalink*
    December 16, 2010 11:15 PM

    Well, the book gets an absolutely fucking glowing review in The Independent, wherein he’s compared (albeit obliquely) to Beckett and Ballard…oh, wait…the review’s by The Man With The World’s Stupidest Haircut–Stuart Evers

    The Manchester Review was rather less enthusiastic:

    The only things the characters can really do, given that seduction would ruin a plot strand, are watch and talk, but there’s not very much to see and the dialogue too frequently slips into portentousness of the kind where people make statements like ‘Money affords them the lifestyle they need’ and ‘Somehow, we have to invent our own reality. We have to make the real unreal. It’s interesting to note that a sizable minority of extremists are recent converts.’ etc.

    This is dialogue as essay, of a writer in love with their ideas, not dialogue as words that come out of people’s mouths.

    When this dialogue is added to the narrator’s uncanny ability to ‘instantly’ think of world events such as 9/11 and to throw in arcane pieces of knowledge whenever the fancy takes him, it’s hard to avoid the sensation that this is not a novel you’re reading, but an attempt to say something deep and meaningful.

    There is, of course, a longstanding and valuable tradition of novels of ideas, but a novel of ideas still needs to be a novel: there may not be much of a plot, but the dialogue can’t make you cringe, and characters need to engage our interest even if they don’t create sympathy.

    Reading this, one thinks of Camus’ Meursault or Ballard’s later narrators, and wishes that Rourke’s flimsy narrator had any of their signs of life. Instead, we get a character whose every idea and response feels hackneyed (Hackneyed?), and whose fate quickly ceases to interest us.

    There is little doubt that Rourke strains to be a philosophical novelist, but in the end, The Canal bears the same relation to more successful novels of ideas as a canal bears to a river: it may look similar at first glance, but it lacks the powerful currents and the beauty, and shows traces everywhere of its maker’s hand. Unfortunately, it shows few traces of its editor’s.

    This is the most sloppily edited book I’ve read in a long time. One can possibly forgive an occasional slip such as ‘a new future had be revealed to me’ or tautologies like ‘male cob’, but any more than one starts to look clumsy, and when you find a sentence that ends with both a comma and a full stop, you have to ask what the editor, author and proofreader were doing to miss it. Then again, perhaps they were just too bored to notice.

    As was Dan Holloway on

    Many years on from their initial angry declaration of go it alone intent, Ben Myers has a novel forthcoming with Picador (repeat after me “they are not sell-outs, they have just had their genius recognised”), and Lee Rourke’s The Canal is only half a Franzen away from being out and out mainstream.

    These are debut novels. They are no better (they aren’t. They REALLY aren’t) than several first novels that publishers won’t look twice at. But these writers come from a whole generation who went out and built a platform. A proper platform.

    It started with 3am, and a whole host of very good online and real-life zine material, micro-presses, live shows, endless rounds of pub readings and mini festivals, and slowly they gained a devoted following, whcih eventually came to the notice of the mainstream.

    Their short stories and poems began to appear in magazines that Guardian readers had heard of. Some of them even got columns IN the Guardian. And, ten years after 3am appeared, they have mainstream book deals with DEBUT novels.

  48. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 16, 2010 11:38 PM

    I’m only on page 65. There’s still time.

    I notice a Sean Murray (‘who used to spend all day and night on his computer’) is namechecked in the text as a school friend. I wonder if he is by any chance related to the Sean Murray in your blogroll.

  49. obooki permalink
    December 17, 2010 1:09 AM

    Hmm, I’ve obviated the commenting problem on my blog, rather than actually sorting it out. It’s beyond my understanding what’s causing it (obviously you’d say it was the new theme, but I can’t figure out why).

    Of course, to go about the Rourke issue scientifically, you could compare the awkward writing in The Canal with the awkward writing in everything else he’s ever written, and draw your conclusion from that. – To me, the MEN review misses the point about editing: – I’m not much concerned about human error in typing; it’s the human error in language which makes me feel that no one connected to this book has any real sense of literature at all.

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 17, 2010 10:55 AM

    Rourke’s bonkers assertion that the short story before ‘Dubliners’ was ‘a primitive affair’ on the booksblog a while ago prejudiced me against him, I have to admit.

    I should think a good editor is a huge benefit to a writer. There’s a bit in a VN novel (The Gift?) where the example of a writer who changes ‘He would certainly have heard…’ to ‘He would doubtless have heard…’ without turning the page to see that the sentence continues ‘… of her doubtful reputation’ is given. An editor (or even a proof-reader) would have caught that. I’ve heard that some editors virtually rewrite the novels of their clients: not a bad idea in the case of The Canal. Any literate person, let alone an editor, would surely have sorted out, or deleted, the sentence from it I quoted above.

  51. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 17, 2010 11:03 AM

    SMP in action:

  52. mishari permalink*
    December 17, 2010 11:50 AM

    …and here’s a little-seen clip of SMP getting stuck into the poncy literary posers of the Graun’s book blogs:

  53. December 17, 2010 11:50 AM

    Who’s the wretch skulking up the stairs though?

    Queneau ( who I haven’t dragged into a comment ALL year which must be a record ) writes a lot about the tedium of living in suburbia but, for me anyway, his writing is always lively and never boring.

    The excerpts I’ve read of The Canal make me think Rourke is trying to have his cake and eat it. A difficult line to walk I think. I’ve no particular desire to see him fail but the way this book was puffed up for the Not the Booker prize blogs a few weeks raised suspicions amongst many given that other novels were torn to shreds for exhibiting the same tendencies that the Canal displayed.

  54. December 17, 2010 11:54 AM


    I like SMP’s comments, I sometimes wish I could detach myself from much that is going on like she appears to , so although I am LOL-ing or even LULZ-ing I’m having great difficulty seeing SMP as the great G.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 17, 2010 1:50 PM

      I try to keep away from JJones, but I did see and laugh at your leg-sniffing comment, ET.
      I often appreciate your interjections, and should say so more often. It would never do for you to assume so remote a perch as smp.

      The combination of all that Godzilla hyperbole while having in mind her conversational parsimony is a fair laugh.

    • December 17, 2010 2:24 PM

      Too kind hic.

      JJones is a curious man. I like people who are over-enthusiastic about art but he just gets silly with his Nick Hornby “greatest artist who ever lived” approach to artists.

  55. mishari permalink*
    December 17, 2010 11:57 AM

    Fuck me…I just looked out the window…it’s a blizzard.
    So, that’s London come to a total halt again…

  56. mishari permalink*
    December 17, 2010 11:59 AM

    Ed, I quite like SMP, too and agree with her more often than not. I was just having a laugh.

  57. ExitB permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:04 PM

    No blizzard in Clapham, Mishari! How strange.

  58. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:06 PM

    What mystifies me is why so many people seem to like it.

    I should have a go at a Myers one, I suppose. His latest (the one which was caned in the G) has garnered plenty of 4 and 5 star recommendations on Amazon, which is not at all suspicious. However, ‘Sarah’ says:

    i read this book a few days ago. i have not stopped vomitting.

    which might well be my reaction. I think I’ll wait for his novel. Perhaps Tony O’Neill is worth a look, though tales of drug abuse seem too, too utterly passé.

  59. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:10 PM

    It’s not snowing here, either. It’s probably a cocaine storm from the City.

  60. December 17, 2010 12:15 PM

    At this time of year you can’t have too much Godzilla I find although the recent US version is an absolute travesty and should be fed to the smog monster.

    The original Japanese film is extremely touching I find despite the man in a rubber suit effects.

    I once did a performance in homage to the film. It involved a poem, a lot of plastiscene, a big cityscape made of cardboard boxes and the corralling of the audience ( 25 at most – it was an alternative cabaret night after all ) into a large skyscraper made of theatre backdrops.

    A one-off for a number of planned and un-planned reasons – there isn’t a huge market for low-production homages to monster-movies apparently.

    Those were the days.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 17, 2010 12:24 PM

      I wish I’d seen that. Any video available?

      My son used to be a fan of the Adam and Joe show, where low production values were essential. I still remember Toytanic with pleasure.

    • December 17, 2010 12:48 PM

      Sadly or perhaps not sadly there’s no record left of it in any format. I look upon it fondly though unlike some of the stuff I’ve done.

      I never saw Adam and Joe but I remember the Japanese American Toy Theatre of London in the late 70’s and early 80’s who used to do the “classics” ( Wuthering Heights, Pride & Prejudice ) using kitsch bought from Japanese toy stores.

      Godzilla was Heathcliffe in WH and a wind-up rabbit was Cathy. In my homage I was Godzilla – so not much need for stage make-up.

      Kazuko Hohki the woman behind it all founded Frank Chickens who were quite successful in the 80’s. She still does really good shows.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 17, 2010 2:00 PM

      They are Londoners, so may well have been inspired by the Japanese Toy Theatre. Still reasonably amusing:

    • December 17, 2010 2:32 PM

      From what I remember the humour of Japanese American Toy theatre of London was mainly in extremely ridiculous toys starring in famous works of fiction. Japanese toys 30 years ago were much more unfamiliar and bizarre to us than they probably are now.

      Great fun because the choice of toys was well-judged but Toytanic is the essence of sophisticated story-telling by comparison

  61. mishari permalink*
    December 17, 2010 12:15 PM

    XB, really? How very odd…it’s a white-out here in Whitechapel, with about 2″ on the ground in 20 minutes. Ah, but you’re in the balmy South of London, where the coconut-palms sway seductively in the off-shore breeze…

  62. ExitB permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:31 PM

    True. I often mistake the view from my window for a tropical paradise.

  63. mishari permalink*
    December 17, 2010 12:34 PM

    …it’s still coming down like gangbusters, too. You indolent tropical types, with yer grass skirts and yer surfboards…you haven’t a clue.

    And in our occasional When Life Hands You A Lemon, Make Lemonade feature:

    …the WikiLeaks controversy has inspired an ad campaign in Pakistan that boasts of Butterfly brand sanitary pads, “WikiLeaks…Butterfly doesn’t.”

  64. ExitB permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:40 PM

    No, here it comes. Sweet Jesus. I’m watching the macaws and bonobos scatter for shelter. Snowblind hummingbirds slamming into the window. Oh, the humanity.

    I never understood the ‘if life hands you a lemon’ thing. To make lemonade you need sugar and water, at least. If life only hands you a lemon, you can squeeze it for a small amount of bitter juice and that’s it.

  65. mishari permalink*
    December 17, 2010 12:46 PM

    I think we’re working on the assumption that although life has generally fucked you over royally, it has had the good grace to provide you with water and sugar…

    So much for your pig-baked-in-a-pit and hula competition, then?

  66. ExitB permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:52 PM

    It’ll takes more than a bit of snow to stop me baking pigs in pits. Just need to sharpen the shovel, that’s all.

    Point taken re lemons, although next time I’m trying to console a friend I may use the phrase ‘well, you know, when life gives you a lemon, just squeeze it for its vestige of bitter juice’.

  67. ExitB permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:54 PM

    Typo: ‘take’ not ‘takes’. Obviously over-excited by the thought of soil-encrusted swine.

    It’s stopped snowing.

  68. mishari permalink*
    December 17, 2010 11:58 PM

    RIP Captain Beefheart.

    Factory’s no place for me
    Bossman, let me be

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 18, 2010 9:17 AM

      Farewell, Don Van Vliet

      Distant cousins, there’s a limited supply,
      another one’s been lifted from the store,
      gone to the California in the sky
      with all his golden birdies: webcore, webcore.

    • December 18, 2010 9:23 AM

      RIP indeed

      Let’s hope they keep the location of his funeral secret from Bongo.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 18, 2010 11:17 AM

      What’s his funeral secret?

    • mishari permalink*
      December 18, 2010 11:44 AM

      …that Bongo the Ghoul isn’t invited. I see the ever-sensitive Bongo has been making adverts for Louis Vuitton luggage. His countrymen must be very grateful, seeing as how so many of them will be needing luggage soon…

      Phrase heard on Radio 4 from a BBC correspondent reflecting on his time in the US. Apparently, a car-park attendant, handing him his ticket, urged him to ‘have an outstanding parking experience…’.

      He doesn’t say whether he did or not.

    • December 18, 2010 11:58 AM

      Driving across the M62 last night we certainly saw many cars have outstanding parking experiences. The snow built up so quickly that wheels started to lose their grip, started spinning and vehicles came to a halt in the middle of the road.

      It was quiite spectacular.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 18, 2010 12:13 PM

      It’s a blizzard down here, Ed. Quite lovely and more reminiscent of the North Eastern US than London…

  69. hic8ubique permalink
    December 18, 2010 12:41 AM

    Plastic factory indeed. My mechanic lent me a car which I’m pretty sure was fabricated 100% from recycled soda bottles.

    You won’t believe me, MM, but when I arrived this morning,
    he held up a frayed and blackened bit of refuse and explained that he’d had to remove part of the exhaust in the process of replacing the brakes cables, which promptly crumbled into his hands.
    So that was the third repair, and a trinity is laid to rest without further inconvenience.
    Hadn’t I noticed the car being loud?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 18, 2010 9:27 AM

      You should turn down the Bruckner when you’re driving. I know you know that only counts as one misfortune. Don’t walk under any ladders.

      Bloody paperbitch hasn’t turned up this morning. Two inches of snow and the spotty little sod stays in his sweaty bed. What’s the world coming to?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 18, 2010 2:57 PM

      Thanks a bunch. I’m back to touching wood.
      I did actually have to turn off the Arvo Pärt symphony no.4, which I’d been enjoying alot; it was so serene I found I wasn’t sufficiently present to the task of driving.

      My snow tires haven’t yet justified their care and feeding. This is very late for us to have had no snow whatsoever. Bitterly cold, but not so much as a flurry.

      How much more romantic though for the denizens of the South of England to experience the rare ‘frolic architecture’ of a white Christmas.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 18, 2010 4:49 PM

      Romantic is not the word I used when I knackered my leg getting out of the Velux this afternoon.

      Arvo is very soporific, I agree.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 18, 2010 6:36 PM

      Pack some snow on the leg to reduce inflammation.
      I’d like to see footage of you clearing the roof. I’ll bet the neighbours have posted something on youtube.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 18, 2010 11:04 PM

      The geography means you’re invisible up there (apart from passing airliners), so in theory I could do the job starkers without repercussions. I won’t be, needless to say. I can’t do without gloves.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 19, 2010 1:31 AM

      It sounds like the ideal location for one of these:

  70. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 18, 2010 12:30 PM

    It’s melting already, thank God.

    The paperslag finally made it an hour ago. I almost didn’t give him his Xmas box, but relented. ‘Yeah, fanks mate’. This from a 12 year old.

    Some truly awful Christmas carols from Duffy and her pals in the Review.

  71. December 18, 2010 12:50 PM

    He sounds quite polite for a 12 year old. We once did a parade in Belfast on the Falls Road and encountered a bunch of marauding 4 year olds. One of them started to pull bits off one of our props.

    “Don’t do that please”, “Fuck off” was the comeback from a boy who was barely taller than my knee.

    I could only manage “No you fuck off” in response and realising it had come to that and that about 200 more 4 and 5 year olds had just come over the horizon we abandoned the performance.

    Those people on X Factor who get told they are are no good have got it easy.

    About 10″ of snow fell last night. We’re snowed in.

  72. December 18, 2010 1:22 PM

    Just about to venture into the snow. Very exciting.

    I was texted about Beefheart last night. Coincidentally, I was talking to the biggest Beefheart fan I know. We had been discussing Ice Cream For Crow and I had to break the news. He was very upset and left soon after.

    There are many great stories about the captain but I particularly love that, whilst keeping the Magic Band under cult-like virtual house arrest during the writing and recording of Trout Mask Replica he kept them in line by constantly claiming that the album would make them all millionaires. As if Neon Meat Dream of a Octafish was, in his mind, a sure-fire shot at the commercial big time.

    That’s right, the Mascara Snake. Fast and bulbous. RIP.

  73. December 18, 2010 1:46 PM

    XB as someone convinced that a large head lurking within a garden shed would be our passport to success I can only salute the Captain’s optimism.

    Great to hear him on the Today programme this morning.

    What’s the panels opinion on Bluejeans and Moonbeams? His weirdest work I think because it sounds so normal.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 18, 2010 5:01 PM

      I barely remember B and M – just that it seemed a major let-down after Clear Spot.

  74. Reine permalink
    December 18, 2010 4:31 PM

    RIP Don.

    I was on my way out from work the other evening to meet some friends in a wine bar when I met a Member who had been recently bereaved. As there were only the two of us on the corridor, I felt obliged to say something and condoled with him on the death of his mother to which he replied:

    “Thanks very much Margaret, it was my father” – he speaks very fast so it took me a second to process my error and reel in mortification. He didn’t seem to hold it against me and went on to tell me about his Dad. So there we were, me dressed up for a night out, bedecked in feathers and trinkets and what not and him, suited, arms folded, leaning against the wall talking movingly about his Dad.

    He thanked me again for offering my sympathies, saying “What’s your name again Margaret?” to which I replied “It’s Reine, Deputy”. “Lovely talking to you Winnie” he said as he shook my hand and we parted.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 18, 2010 4:48 PM

      Someday we’ll meet Reine, and especially for the occasion, I plan to wear a peacock feather in my hair…
      well, just the top bit…
      well, maybe in my hat.

    • Reine permalink
      December 18, 2010 4:56 PM

      As long as you call me the right name Hic, I’ll be happy.

      I’ll have to get my teeth done first. Yours would put me to shame.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 18, 2010 6:43 PM

      Now that’s enough of that sort of talk, Finny. Whatever is wrong with your teeth? I’m not having any sort of augmentations to measure up!
      I’ve tried to post a less toothy pic, but no success.
      Maybe something scowling to show that I eschew botox…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 18, 2010 11:33 PM

      Straight from the corridors of power, Winnie.

      I was talking to a friend a while ago who had met a mutual acquaintance he hadn’t seen for some years. ‘Well,’ said my friend, ‘After a time dialogue started to wind down, he’s a taciturn sod, like you really, so I asked how his mother was, I met her several times, and he tells me she died a couple of years ago. God, I’m sorry, I say, that’s terrible, so… how’s your father, wonderful old chap. Anyway, he died last year.’

      Clearly, things were getting a bit sticky for my friend. It happened that he had been out with the chap’s sister a few times in the past, but he was feeling a little nervous about asking. Then the chap says ‘Actually, I’m just on my way up to the hospital to see my sister.’

      Oh Christ, thinks my friend, Coronary Care? Coma? Cancer Ward?

      ‘She’s the office manager up there.’ Thank God, thinks my friend, and says how nice it would be to see her again.

      ‘All right, we’ll go together. She likes visitors. She just broke both her legs in a car accident.’

    • mishari permalink*
      December 18, 2010 11:50 PM

      …’tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la-lal-la…what’s that? Oh…sorry, wrong thread.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 19, 2010 12:15 AM

      Sorry, I forgot to say it happened on Christmas Day.

      Anyway, blame Alexei Sayle. It’s his joke (more or less).

    • Reine permalink
      December 19, 2010 12:16 AM

      Very funny all the same. MM, only gloves? What a tease you are. No need to bring an ice scraper I suppose. Good thinking 99.

    • Reine permalink
      December 19, 2010 12:31 AM

      You have beautiful gnashers Hic, don’t hide them under a bushel. Irish people are not renowned for their dental prowess, though better now than before. I won’t be able to stow my assets in my pocket so it’ll be a tits and teeth showdown, pardon my crudeness.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 19, 2010 12:57 AM

      ‘Tis the season to be mulish
      fal la la la la et cetera
      teeth in pocket won’t be Jul-ish
      fal la la la la et cetera.

      All she wants is two front teeth, dear
      fa la la la la la la lah dee daaah
      if not Christmas, then for New Year
      fal la la la la et cetera…

  75. hic8ubique permalink
    December 18, 2010 4:42 PM

    American media as creative inspiration:

  76. hic8ubique permalink
    December 18, 2010 4:44 PM

    part II…

  77. obooki permalink
    December 19, 2010 1:04 AM

    Talking of people who can’t write, Bidisha had an article in the Guardian today

    which contained the following line:

    Putin has the merciless eyes of a man who’s observed passively as kittens are harangued.

    I mean – what the hell does this mean?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 19, 2010 1:20 AM

      Putin has the merciless eyes of a man who is capable of observing passively as kittens are harangued.

      That’s my guess, but it is awkward as written.

      A man sat next to me at lunch yesterday who I remember for watching passively as his toddler threw rocks at a puppy.
      That was 8 years ago, and I still loathe him.

  78. mishari permalink*
    December 19, 2010 1:40 AM

    I think hic got it right…but it is the most cack-handed writing. Haranguing kittens? What does that entail? Still…Bidisha–what would you? The woman’s an idiot.

  79. obooki permalink
    December 19, 2010 12:58 PM

    Yes, probably that is the right grammar – but it was the “cat haranguing” which drew me to the sentence.

    Cat haranguing has a long history in the obooki household – most often on account of their laziness and their lack of general contribution – and I cannot see how it is something that could be deplored. One of the great joys of cat haranguing is the cat’s almost complete indifference to the harangue – it’s often as if it didn’t understand what it was being accused of; or even, that it was being accused of anything.

  80. December 19, 2010 1:33 PM

    obooki on the other hand your last paragraph seems the very essence of Putin – he has no idea that what he does might be harmful.

    Since our cat died aged 19 it has not been replaced – but when she was younger and hadn’t succumbed to deafness we regularly tried to raise her from her torpor by twitching string or wool. Very often our efforts were met with complete disdain.

    When I read that piece I too wondered if we were guilty of haranguing a cat – we thought it was standard give-and-take behaviour in yer basic cat/human domestic arrangement.

  81. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 19, 2010 1:59 PM

    I’m a confirmed cat haranguer myself – I take particular exception to the aliens who use our flowerbeds as a convenience. These cats, however, seem well aware that they are transgressing. Regardless of their corpulence and lack of physical fitness they immediately bolt to the end of the garden and scale the 6′ fence without hesitation. I’m not sure that it’s the stream of Putin-style imprecations leaving my lips which stimulates them – I think it might be the gushing hosepipe in my hand.

  82. mishari permalink*
    December 19, 2010 2:24 PM

    It has to be said that haranguing cats has a long and honourable history–Demosthenes Third Felineippic, St. Paul’s Epistle to The Ephesian Cats etc.

    And of course, Shakespeare used to rehearse his roles by haranguing cats (he found it more effective than the more usual practice of baiting bears)…

    Cats understand perfectly. The seeming lack of an appropriate response is because they think that we’re idiots.

  83. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 19, 2010 3:07 PM

    I’d forgotten about Shakespeare. His

    Now is the Whiskas of our discontent,
    Made ill-flavoured by this disgusting pork,
    And all the tasty gobbets in our tins
    Buried in the bosom of the council tip…

    is a classic of the genre.

  84. mishari permalink*
    December 19, 2010 4:03 PM

    Bidisha’s mentor on the importance of education:

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 19, 2010 4:12 PM

      Impressive. Next the governorship, and then the Republican presidential nomination…

  85. hic8ubique permalink
    December 19, 2010 4:04 PM

    and this :
    <i< “You hag, you baggage, you lapcat, you ronyon! out, out!”

    I suppose Bidisha meant ‘harass’ rather than harangue, in addition to her ambiguous contraction, but witness here the entertainment she’s afforded. (most of my malaprop delight is courtesy of Parisa; her posts are essential reading)
    My first impression of who’s mistress Bidisha might be was: ‘Someone who likes boys in lipstick’. I know it’s not very nice, but…

    My older cat, Cameo, was so tormented by the younger, who wanted her portion of meals, she was fleeing the scene after a few bites, sometimes including ones inflicted by her aggressor.
    At last as she got thinner and he got fatter, I arranged private feeding quarters for her in an upstairs bathroom.
    She’s so pleased, she’s been eating twice as much, and I actually saw her frisking like a kitten. I thought she had a mouse, but it was just a Qtip. I haven’t seen her play like that in years.
    Wish I’d moved her sooner.

    • Reine permalink
      December 19, 2010 10:51 PM

      The contraction can be read two ways –

      “Putin has the merciless eyes of a man who’s observed passively as kittens are harangued.”

      He is a man who has observed passively as kittens are harangued … probably the more likely according to characteristics one would impute to Putin.


      He is a man who is observed passively as cats are harangued … (by the cats he harangues who perhaps mistake him for one of their own?)

      He does have rather cat-like eyes.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 19, 2010 11:25 PM

      A ski-slope nose, certainly.

      Will you join me, Re, in objecting to the idea of resemblance between Julian Sands and Julian Assange?
      To me that’s as far-fetched as comparing Lancelot and the Summoner.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 19, 2010 11:41 PM

      I’ll remind you of this when Sands plays Assange in the biopic…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 19, 2010 11:47 PM

      Well, that would just be a commercial decision, not evidence of a resemblance.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 20, 2010 12:01 AM

      Are you kidding? Sand’s mother couldn’t tell them apart…of course, Assange is a better actor, but still…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 20, 2010 12:07 AM

      Come to think, Mishari, your photo doesn’t remind me of anyone else.
      This is an unfortunate opening for MM to say something raw, but…
      I’ve never seen anyone like you. Do you take after your father?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 19, 2010 11:32 PM

      I suppose you only see Cameo briefly.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 19, 2010 11:38 PM

      Quite true, but her name is due to her flame-tipped white fur.

  86. Reine permalink
    December 19, 2010 11:33 PM

    I will indeed girlfriend, he reminded me of Morten Harket of AHA with whom my sister threatened was in love for a good year mid-80s.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 19, 2010 11:45 PM

      hmm (thank you google)
      Harket looks to me more like a young Swayze:

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 19, 2010 11:50 PM

      Threatened? Is that a family name?

  87. Winnie permalink
    December 19, 2010 11:58 PM

    Oh, lol, how did that get in there? Threatening would be more appropriate.

  88. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 20, 2010 12:00 AM

    I must say I’m having a bit of trouble thinking up anything festive for this theme. Reading those execrable ‘carols’ in the G poisoned the well to some extent. I shall have to break into the Xmas alcohol. I heard some schoolkids singing a snatch of this fine carol as they passed the house on Friday:

    Good King Wenceslas looked out
    Of his bedroom window
    Silly bastard he fell out
    On a red-hot cinder
    Brightly shone his bum that night
    And though the pain was cru – el
    They used it as a reading light
    And saved on winter fu – el.

    No doubt you remember it.

  89. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 12:05 AM

    The only version I remember (going back a long time, here) is:

    Good King Wenceslas last looked out
    On the feast of Steven
    Got a snowball up his snout
    Made it all uneven…

    Can’t remember the rest but I like yours better anyway.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 20, 2010 12:17 AM

      That’s more revolutionary than mildly disrespectful. Wenceslas probably deserved it, patronising old fucker.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 20, 2010 12:22 AM

      The first line doesn’t scan, which is uncharacteristic of Mishari. What could be amiss? Stumbling in the snow?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 20, 2010 12:26 AM


    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 20, 2010 12:31 AM

      ‘Stumbling’ alludes to the imagined painless late evening disposition.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 20, 2010 12:28 AM

      It does. ‘Wenceslas’ is pronounced ‘Wens-las’–two syllables, my persniketty hic…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 20, 2010 12:37 AM

      Look what I’ve found:

      I recant, apologise, and plead Northern-ness, and Bohemianaenemia.

      …but I’m not persniketty, no, not that.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 20, 2010 12:49 AM

      To be fair, the ‘correct’ (i.e. Bohemian) pronunciation is 3 syllables, so you weren’t wrong…but I’ve never heard a Bohemian pronounce the name. I’ve only ever heard him called ‘Wenslas’…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 20, 2010 1:15 AM

      Ultimately, I think ‘Wenslas’ doesn’t work for the song though; ‘last’ is a filler.
      Are Bohemians extinct? or transmogrified?

      and did you see my 12:07? Who do you look like… may I ask?

      Your never persnickety &c…

  90. December 20, 2010 12:13 AM

    1. Re: the Julian Assange casting call: it’s obvious to me that when the movie comes out, Assange as an old man in prison, leaking his memoirs, will be portrayed by Wallace Shawn (think about it for five seconds); his biological father (in flashback): Tim Robbins. Young Julian: someone (probably mail) from a Human League tribute band.

    2. My wife sleeps in innocence, down the hall, never dreaming that I’ve just received the email that will change my (our) life…


    How are you? i hope all is well with you, i hope you may not know me, and i don’t know who you are, My Name is Miss Sussan Khalifa, i am just broswing now i just saw your Email it seams like some thing touches me all over my body, i started having some feelings in me which i have
    never experience in me before, so i became interested in you, l will also like to know you the more,and l want you to send an email. to my email aaddress so l can give you my picture for you to know whom l am..
    I believe we can move from here!
    I am waiting for your mail to my email address
    (Remeber the distance or colour does not matter but love matters alot in life)
    miss Sussan”


    How shall I handle this? Wake her now or wait until morning…?

  91. December 20, 2010 12:15 AM

    (Christ: I really wrote “mail” up there, didn’t I? Flustered after that email…)

  92. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 12:30 AM

    Wow…what have you been sprinkling on your email address, Steven? Doubtless some powerfully compelling pheromone…

  93. obooki permalink
    December 20, 2010 12:38 AM

    I believe the etiquette is to reply something like this:

    “Dear Miss Sussan Khalifa, I am gladdened of your wishing to be beloved of me, even though I am not thinking I hope I know you. However, I currently run from the US government, after having leaked diplomatic e-mails to the internet and embezzled the funds of my charity organisation. If you were e-mailing me your bank details, I would immediately be transferring my entire funds to your accounts. Do not fear, we will soon be being joined together in the third-world paradise you live in from which we shall not be having to move.”

  94. December 20, 2010 12:51 AM

    May I use that? (and can you write another one for me to leave on my pillow…?)

  95. December 20, 2010 12:54 AM

    “Wow…what have you been sprinkling on your email address, Steven? Doubtless some powerfully compelling pheromone…”

    Actually, the avatar on *that* email account is a picture of the hunky, chiseled, new wave albino-endomorph who needs no introduction…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 20, 2010 1:04 AM

      ‘chunky cuddly generously pinguid’ -endomorph?

  96. December 20, 2010 10:46 AM

    Steven, I’d suggest.

    ” Dear Ms. Khalifa,

    How astute of you to recognise that I am an IT technician, still living with my mother, with a more than reasonable income that goes 65% to local fast-food franchises and 45% to ” Lord Voldemart’s Komic Kabin.

    I am interested in your proposal so please send me your photo. However you’ll have to wait til I install the latest Corel photoshop package which has got held up in the States before I can respond.

    I should point out that I have been thrown off for “wasting their time” as the moderators so indelicately put it.

    Do you have a strong mothering instinct?

    I have never “done it”. Is that a problem?

  97. Reine permalink
    December 20, 2010 11:27 AM

    Dear Mr. August Steven,

    I am lovely that you still live with your mother. How is her health? I am hoping she cannot be well enough.

    I am sending you a photograph taken when I qualify from my international banking and beauty product sales course. The old man with his hand on my bottom is my very own cousin Abdul who asks to marry me. I am good with figures and I hope you will get too much excited when you see mine.

    I am lonely like you and am waiting for suitable man before my heart closes forever. I am thinking to make love to you would be making me come happily in England.

    Best wishes to you and your mother. Sussan

  98. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    December 20, 2010 12:22 PM

    Just to add to the mid-eighties, brogue-wearing, lisping weirdness…

  99. December 20, 2010 1:46 PM

    On Radio 4’s Brain of Britain this afternoon in answer to “Who did Laurie Anderson marry in 2008?” one of the Brains thought it was Rick Wakeman.

    Now there’s a breakfast conversation I’d like to have heard.

    In fairness the answer, Lou Reed, was the only one I got right in the whole programme.

    Not that I spend my time listening to radio quiz shows with my finger on the imaginary buzzer you understand.

    But you may beg to differ.

  100. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 1:50 PM

    Really, Ed? I’ve hardly missed a question (except that one–I guessed Brian Eno). I even got ‘Fuller’s Earth’.

    -14 C in London last night. It’s officially ‘cold’.

  101. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 2:03 PM

    Well, having demonstrated that I’m more knowledgeable than all the contestants on Brain of Britain put together, I hereby declare myself The Real Brain of Britain. Thank you, thank you…(digs toe awkwardly in sand)…you’re too kind…no, no…no more applause…

  102. December 20, 2010 2:16 PM

    We should have been a team – I’d have got the Lou Reed question right you’d have got all the other questions right and I could have basked in the reflected glory.

    Fullers Earth. Was that the answer to “name a London-brewed real ale ?”

    It took about 20 minutes to chip the ice off the van this morning. 50 mph on the road to the workshop didn’t shift its 6 inch thick snow topping neither.

  103. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 2:31 PM

    The workshop? Jesus, Ed…what are you, some kind of Stakhanovite nutcase? Break out the rum, the lemons, the honey and stay indoors.

  104. December 20, 2010 2:53 PM

    In answer to that question.

    Bzzzzzzz Correct.

    You can’t keep 500+ kgs of inflatable pig in the same place as you live.

  105. freep permalink
    December 20, 2010 3:12 PM

    Dear Mr Mishari and Mrs Brian Britain
    I am sending you this cards of myself for the season and hopes to find you well. Here in the north mountain of Fidelity we have no needs to sex as we are frequent well endowed, and we neither need cosmetic surgeons as we have plenty knife.
    but we always are need moneys. So thank you for the moneys, which are be well spent good. I have the two PhDs behind myself, and showing you that we are good readers know much in the spend, as if, in example, we will be making the good pyramid of selling poetry. My dogg also need the money for his enterprise which is a device to extinguish life almost as there is too much human maggot. He say.
    Thank you again for all the money dolllar which is to make a poem so big it will frighten any other person into not making future poetry. If you wish to bail out of the poetry and bail in again to big success, my cousin in Lagos will be of big help. His company turning milk into globals energy and he have a few cow.
    Antonio Cabral
    and colleagues at
    New And Particular Ode Internotional

  106. freep permalink
    December 20, 2010 3:28 PM

    we also have traditional old butter and camp coffee for the valued customer like your value self. You can come by concorde or biplane with the money, that is all right, and our air strip has no snow and duty free shops with flavoured drink

  107. December 20, 2010 3:57 PM

    I’m starting to think (from the high quality of your responses) that one or two of you are actually responsible for the “spam” I struggle with (which to delete? Which to respond to?) for much of every later-than-2am session…. especially the couple I’ve actually answered with banking details…

    What were you writing… about being *bedecked in jewels*, at some function or other, upthread, Reine? And you, Ed… how “old” is that Hummer you’re driving to “workshops” in? Obooki… that’s a Nigerian name, isn’t it…?

    (I’m still working on *your* dossier, Hic… and, obviously, M is the controller… )

    • Reine permalink
      December 20, 2010 8:01 PM

      Just painting a pen picture SA – was on my way out from work, feathered, earringed and bangled a la Danny La Rue. Somebody paid me the compliment of saying my bracelet was like Wallis Simpson’s panther one except mine cost 20 quid not 4 million, give or take. I like to blend in!

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 20, 2010 8:14 PM


    • Reine permalink
      December 20, 2010 8:29 PM

      Only on a good day!

  108. December 20, 2010 4:00 PM

    Meanwhile: best photo caption ever…?

    “Courtney Love has moved into Henry Allsopp’s home and posted bizarre pictures of herself wearing tweeds”

  109. December 20, 2010 4:10 PM

    (and to complete this Xmas trilogy of “comments”):

    “It’s currently configured as a multiple-family dwelling, but Mr. Amis, a descendant of British aristocracy, probably won’t be looking for renters.”

    Do they mean Charlemagne?

  110. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 4:10 PM

    Wearing tweeds? And presumably, sensible shoes? Ah, the lure of Sapphic bliss…

    Dear Mr. Freepworth,

    Thank you for your letter of the 20th instance and the accompanying verse, which we shall lose no time in reading.

    Wishing you every success in your future endeavours.

    Yours Faithfully

    Basil Douche

    (for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, London)

  111. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 4:15 PM

    “…Mr. Amis, a descendant of British aristocracy…”

    Kingsley Amis was born in Clapham, south London, the son of William Robert Amis, a mustard manufacturer’s clerk…

    Rise, Baron Keen of Mustard and Relish.

  112. hic8ubique permalink
    December 20, 2010 4:27 PM

    Dear Mr Freep,
    I am be pleasing to informing you which my shipment of your special concern has been arrived into the custom of UK in this 20th Decemb. This was interesting of me since it has been mean that item were flying 5 day since it have leaving of these land. I am all wonder by which miracle effort so. Some hoof wearing animal transport in air is be employ this time in the year so I am belief myself. Assuring of yourself which our understanding can be coming complete in these near time. I am large with pleasing expect so.

    Your more assure prayer,

  113. December 20, 2010 4:29 PM

    Steven, They seem to have given up the flattery. This is the last one I got in its full form.

    “we are in need of urgent assistance to transfer and invest our family fortune. Please download the attachment for the proposal. Thank you! Mr. Samuel and Miss Elena (For the Family)”

    I like the hint of encroaching weariness in the message and the effort of sending it seems greater than usual especially as there wasn’t an attachment to open. The paragraphs of flattery in earlier requests have boiled down to an exclamation mark after “thank you.”

  114. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 20, 2010 5:24 PM


    I’ve never been an astrology fan,
    but Balthazar is very persuasive,
    whether this child’s really the Son of Man

    is unproven, but I’m prepared to give
    the old bluffer the benefit of the doubt,
    less so his friend, hate to be negative

    but he seems to me a jumped-up little lout,
    and not, my dear, out of the top drawer.
    Still, as you know I’m not one to scream and shout,

    so I shall keep mum on ‘King’ Melchior.
    But what a present to bring along – myrrh!
    You’d think the child was already done for

    instead of having a glorious future,
    a jar of embalming fluid to sip
    or a coffin would be less premature.

    It’s been an absolutely bloody trip,
    through deserts and forests, hail and sleet,
    those camels travel at a hellish clip,

    it’s all you can do to maintain your seat,
    and despite daily rub-downs from Jazzfan
    my bum is like a piece of red-raw meat.

    Well, we’re here at last, and our guide, a man
    whose face would go unnoticed in a stew,
    and please spare me the lecture, if you can,

    one of my very dear friends is a Jew,
    is taking us, as the Scriptures say, thence.
    Oh God! A stable! These shoes are brand new!

    Oh dear, the smell in here is very intense –
    I really mustn’t faint – oh, I know –
    thank Christ I brought along this frankincense.

    • Reine permalink
      December 20, 2010 8:04 PM

      Nice work Meltonius; “whose face would go unnoticed in a stew” – abs superb obvs. Lol.

  115. hic8ubique permalink
    December 20, 2010 7:58 PM

    That’s a beauty, MM. That Jazzfan sure gets around.

    I’ve worked out who Mishari reminds me of…just a bit:

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 20, 2010 11:19 PM

      Thanks, ladies. However, I have to condemn hic’s act of blasphemy in comparing Johnny to the hideous eyesore illustrated throughout this blog. Driving to Tesco on Sunday I was delayed for a time behind a slow-moving column of horses from a riding school. Gazing at the parade of shifting equine hindquarters before me I was suddenly aware of some related image swimming deep in my unconscious mind. When it swam to the surface I had to stop the car and get out for a breath of air.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 20, 2010 11:22 PM


      Longest night of the year tonight. Hurrah….Spring’s just around the, erm…corner.

  116. Reine permalink
    December 20, 2010 8:05 PM

    Mishari is better looking. (Send the fiver kind Mr. al Adwani)

  117. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    December 20, 2010 9:21 PM

    Here’s an old one of Hic and Mish together…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 20, 2010 11:05 PM

      I didn’t know she smoked.

    • mishari permalink*
      December 20, 2010 11:11 PM

      What’s that old joke? “Do you smoke after sex?” “I don’t know; I never look.”

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 21, 2010 4:27 AM

      You’d better give Reine credit, Moon. That could only be a composite of the two of us… or me harbouring two bodice stowaways.
      (on the left , Mowbray.)

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 21, 2010 11:56 AM

      I’m usually described as a right tit.

  118. December 20, 2010 9:21 PM

    (apologies if this gem has already twinkled on the premises of this jazzbo establishment and merry prancing xmas, too)

  119. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 9:25 PM

    Ah…La Dolce Vita. Probably my best film.

    Sweet, Steven. I made this Peggy Lee version ages ago. I love the trumpet work by Pete Candoli…

    • December 20, 2010 9:28 PM

      “This video contains content from UMG. It is not…” etc. Bastards.

  120. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 10:02 PM

    I didn’t realise. The fuckers. I don’t see why they care whether it’s viewed here or on youtube. What earthly difference does it make?

    Meanwhile, in fantasy-land:

    Again and again in Kabul one hears Afghans say that the Taliban may not be liked, but that the Afghan government and its US allies are increasingly distrusted, even hated, by the mass of the population.

    It is this rapidly increasing disaffection, underestimated by foreign governments, that enables a maximum of 25,000 Taliban to hold their own against 140,000 US-led foreign troops in addition to the Afghan government’s army and police. Instead of giving priority to seeking a feasible political approach, the current US strategy is to eliminate the Taliban as an effective military organization.

    American generals claim they are beginning to turn the tide by an offensive against enemy strongholds in southern Afghanistan and through the systematic killing of local Taliban commanders by US special forces.

    Body counts of enemy dead, a notorious and discredited measure of success in Vietnam, are back in favor. The US military proudly announced this week that it had killed 952 Taliban and captured 2,469 in the 90 days up to the beginning of December. One general boasted: “Every 24 hours on average, we’re killing three to five mid-level enemy leaders.”

    3 to 5 mid-level enemy leaders a day? Yeah…right. Doubtless that’s why it’s all going so swimmingly. Cretins.

    • obooki permalink
      December 20, 2010 11:34 PM

      The Americans are fools: – everyone knows middle management don’t really contribute anything.

  121. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 11:42 PM

    They’re probably not even ‘middle-management’ but a bunch of fucking ‘management consultants’. You could wipe every ‘management consultant’ from the face of the earth without noticing any appreciable difference one way or another.

  122. reine permalink
    December 20, 2010 11:45 PM

    “No Reine, I’m in love with someone else, go back to MM…”

  123. mishari permalink*
    December 20, 2010 11:52 PM

    Sorry, Reine…your link didn’t work. I tried to fix it…was that the pic you wanted to link to?

    HERE is one of the most unintentionally hilarious pieces The Grauniad’s published in a long time. Priceless.

  124. reine permalink
    December 20, 2010 11:58 PM

    Ha ha, not not that – this. Rather loses its impact now (if it works…)

  125. December 21, 2010 12:35 AM

    “…one of the most unintentionally hilarious pieces The Grauniad’s published in a long time. Priceless.”

    The tradition of the batty aristocrat lives on. The comment thread is quality stuff (I couldn’t make it all the way through the article itself).

    “By the beard of Zeus, this was simultaneously the worst and the best thing I have read in a long time.”

    I’ll have to adopt that oath.

  126. December 21, 2010 12:42 AM

    Here’s an eerie feeling (and then I’ll sign off): one of the members of my college-days circle of friends (Mary H., a psychiatrist) died in a helicopter crash in the Baltic in 2005… and I see now that she was drafted, soon after, into a bizarre “conspiracy theory”… why, I had no idea she was on the, erm, “President’s Secret Task Force”… and she worked for the, uh, Pentagon (?)…

    ***”Even more troubling are these reports detailing the murders of two Members of the American Presidents Secret Task Force to identify the true perpetrators of the Day=”11” September 11, 2001 Massacre, Dr. Mary E. Hamburgen who was one of the Pentagons top Research Scientists, and former head of the Secret Service protecting President Ronald Reagan, Dick Suekawa.

    Dr. Hamburgen was murdered yesterday when the Finnish Helicopter she was riding on was shot down, and as we can read as reported by the Rogers Media News Service in their article titled “Divers to recover bodies of 14 believed killed in Baltic Sea helicopter crash” and which says, “Estonian and Finnish divers on Thursday started the grim task of recovering 14 bodies believed to be trapped inside a submerged helicopter that crashed in the Baltic Sea off the Estonian coast. A family member identified the two Americans on board as Lydia Riis Hamburgen, 86, of Rochester, Minnesota, and her daughter, Mary Elizabeth Hamburgen, 46, of Rolling Hills Estates, California. The two were in Estonia for a wedding, according to Arthur Hamburgen, Lydia’s husband and Mary Elizabeth’s father. The U.S. State Department could not confirm the information.”

    FSB reports state that Dr. Hamburgen had been in Estonia meeting with Lieutenant Colonel Walter T. Lord, and who is a close ‘personal friend’ of the American General Byrne who is currently under arrest, and as we had previously reported upon in our August 9th report titled “United States Military Forces Begin Coup, Top US General Arrested By Anti-Coup Factions, Russian and Chinese Military Forces Go To High Alert”.

  127. December 21, 2010 9:36 AM

    Clearded the path today and found the postman under a snowdrift.

    Once revived in the kitchen he handed over the Boardwalk disc package. Many thanks.

    Here’s an old charmer from Ladislaw Starewicz

  128. December 21, 2010 10:25 AM

    here’s another with less stereotypes

    • Reine permalink
      December 21, 2010 6:49 PM

      Edward, that’s fantastic – as enjoyable a 13 minutes and 22 seconds as I’ve had in a while. Loved it.

  129. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 21, 2010 11:36 AM

    Fewer stereotypes, surely.

  130. December 21, 2010 11:43 AM

    Yeah fanks mate

  131. mishari permalink*
    December 21, 2010 11:51 AM

    Less (or is it fewer?) backchat from the Island pedant would be welcome…

  132. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 21, 2010 11:54 AM

    My pleasure, old boy. Incidentally, it would be nice not to have to dry my paper over the radiator once in a while.

    That second film is quite macabre. I feel a bit itchy after watching it.

  133. mishari permalink*
    December 21, 2010 12:05 PM

    You bourgeois fuckers are all the same…’where’s my paper?’ whine whine whine…bastards…you think it’s easy delivering your crappy fucking paper in this weather?…listen, mate…come the revolution, you’re first on our list…is that Mowbray with a ‘y’ or an ‘i’?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 21, 2010 3:18 PM

      Curiously, he managed to deliver my bill at 8am on Monday morning, while not managing to deliver the paper until 1030am today. Obviously a management consultant in the making.

  134. December 21, 2010 12:14 PM

    I like the the subtitle ” Mr. Beetle should have guessed the aggressive grasshopper was a movie cameraman”.

    It’s what I think everytime I step in long grass and grasshoppers jump out the way. “Christ I hope that one isn’t a cameraman, I should have known better”.

    I visited an old chum a few weeks ago. She’d visited the IoW whilst on holiday round Portsmouth with her bloke. ” Very behind the times” was her verdict.

  135. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 21, 2010 1:14 PM

    The attention to detail is impressive. The bit where Mr Beetle is examining the nightclub poster and the thing on top of his head moves to show he’s scanning it is good.

    That’s often said about the IoW. That article in the Telegraph a few months ago, saying that the Island is stuck in the 50s, created quite a stir in the local press. I can’t see it myself. 70s style racism and homophobia there certainly is (and lashings of boozing and violence in Ryde), but I don’t see that much difference in other ways when I’m on the mainland. I’m sure it’s different when you’re a visitor: Ryde Esplanade on a summer’s day, with the amusement arcades, the fairground, the harbour, the beaches and the flannelled OAPs on the bowling green must seem like a postcard of an earlier time. At midnight it’s a battleground.

  136. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 21, 2010 1:51 PM

    Having said that, I just looked out of the window and saw a horse and cart going past. Apparently there’s a farmers market taking place. Why anyone would want to buy one of those pie-faced whining tossers I don’t know.

  137. December 21, 2010 1:55 PM

    I like Mr. Beetle waving his chauffeur on.

    I think that’s true for most UK seaside towns. I should add that my friend is from just outside Hartlepool where they hung a monkey so she’s obviously looking not to be bottom of the UK stuck-in-a-time-warp table.

  138. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 21, 2010 3:13 PM

    I’m sure you’re right, ET. No doubt our correspondents from the eastern shores of the US and western shores of Ireland would say the same. I heard a few things about Hartlepool from a friend who used to stay there while working on the platforms. And, of course, from my good friend Lord Mandelson, whose taste for Hartlepool guacamole and oeufs au plat et bacon avec fèves au lard is now legendary.

  139. hic8ubique permalink
    December 21, 2010 3:52 PM

    Patent crimson Christmas shoes
    and a damson ruffle shawl…
    snow boots I will need to lose
    leave them melting in the hall.

    Some invitations I refuse
    rife with bores despite champagne
    but this night sparkles in the mews
    Solstice wassail time again.

    Toes need not endure abuse
    pinching feet means pinching face
    Candelabra snag up-dos
    of tottering fillies about a place.

    Girls, be sensible in your shoes!
    stilettos aren’t for garden parties
    or sailboats, you will just amuse
    the other guests and sea-dog hearties.

    Platforms again are in the news
    an awkward wedge should make you balk
    (Quite true I’m forward with my views)
    It’s pointless if you cannot walk.

    Now holly sprigs and boughs of yews
    four-part carols, fluttering light
    revellers rich velvet hues
    I’ll venture out this stormy night.

    The perfect heel’s an art to choose:
    Patent crimson Christmas shoes.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 21, 2010 4:08 PM

      An excellent fit, madam.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 21, 2010 5:25 PM

      Thank you, kind sir. Just a modest bit of festivity to pay my dues.
      Behind the times? Not at all! I’m always up to date, let’s see now, what date am I up to…

  140. Reine permalink
    December 21, 2010 6:06 PM

    Lovely hic; Christmas party chaos in city centre – the snow is back with a vengeance and lots of inappropriate shoes falling foul of it. We have our do tomorrow; should it go ahead it will be an interesting melange of party attire and snowboots. Comfort and safety is all – even I will not push vanity for the sake of a high heel; that’s the beauty of a feather or fur – serves a dual purpose.

    Caused a scene in M & S earlier; as I went to pay I thought I had lost a thousand squids I had withdrawn from the bank to pay the roof man – whom I am convinced did nothing but shimmy up a ladder, stick a bit of chewing gum on the tiles, turn and come down again but HI will have none of my skepticism. Anyway, frantic searching of bags, helpful customers asking when I last had it until I remembered I had stuffed the envelope down my cleavage fearing theft. Needless to say, I pretended I had just located it in my pocket.

    Oh the weather outside is frightful…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 22, 2010 12:00 AM

      That’s what you call a double D.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 22, 2010 12:05 AM

      Hmm… better add a note to that reference: Roman numerals.

    • Reine permalink
      December 22, 2010 12:25 AM

      Right on both counts.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      December 22, 2010 12:44 AM

      Sorry, stupid joke.

  141. InvisibleJack permalink
    December 21, 2010 8:38 PM

    Greetings friends,

    Jack has been in distant places of late (the Andromeda Galaxy) and has returned in poor health. I’m nursing a chest infection, a cracked rib and luminously yellow skin. However, I do still hope you’ll let me attend the christmas party. My application for entry is as follows…

    Yours truly, Jack Brae

    • Reine permalink
      December 21, 2010 8:41 PM

      Just spotted you over the road Jack, what a comeback. Sorry to hear you have been in the wars but pray that the saviour will shine his grace upon you. Welcome back ad happy Christmas. R

    • Reine permalink
      December 21, 2010 8:45 PM

      I’d like to clarify I do not have a cold. Correction “and”.

  142. InvisibleJack permalink
    December 21, 2010 8:39 PM

    Jesus Born on Moss

    The woodlice stir their armoured hulls
    as moonlight glazes woods;
    a dormouse flies with grace and ease,
    his consciousness in shreds;
    an owl takes silver from the stars
    as angels bow their heads.

    Upon a rock a teenage girl
    gives birth to Jesus Christ:
    not this the first-born son of God,
    this one the son born twice;
    for this son is the son born right,
    his swaddling rich with lice.

    For Christ is born again tonight
    a Christ-child for the poor;
    not one who’ll be so quickly stole
    from sinner, thief or whore;
    for this child is the son of Truth
    for now and evermore.

    And if in thirty years from now
    by happenstance you meet
    a man of lice and greasy skin,
    a beggar on the street,
    make no mistake it’s Christ you shun,
    it’s Christ you dare to slight.

    For Jesus number two is born;
    make sure you give a toss.
    His mother bleeds her life away
    as Christ is born on moss;
    Salvation comes a second time;
    disdain it at your loss.

    – Jack Brae Curtingstall

  143. mishari permalink*
    December 21, 2010 8:42 PM

    Welcome back, Jack. Sorry to hear of your afflictions and may you be restored to rude health forthwith, if not sooner…

    A thousand squids, you little minx? How I adore a woman who carries large sums of cash…

  144. Reine permalink
    December 21, 2010 8:44 PM

    Have built-in safe, will travel. But what a fucking pain to spend it on the roof man. The damage I could do with that.

  145. Reine permalink
    December 21, 2010 9:19 PM

    Don’t know if any of you has heard of Imelda May – Dublin girl from the Liberties in the inner city. She is blazing quite a trail. Duet here with Lou who got some air time earlier in the week. Fairy Tale of New York, McColl/McGowan vibe about it.

  146. Reine permalink
    December 21, 2010 9:31 PM

    And from the PH Book of Genesis…

    Christmas Foreseen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Reine permalink
      December 21, 2010 10:05 PM

      From The Twangling Instrument, 16 Sept 2010.

  147. Reine permalink
    December 21, 2010 9:32 PM

    Call me Parisa…

  148. December 21, 2010 9:50 PM

    Reine – spookily enough I do play the tambourine. Not a la Salvation Army but a Brazilian version called a pandeiro.

    Sadly poor hearing has curtailed my playing opportunities but it’s a splendid instrument.

    Here’s an example of someone who can play it really well.

  149. Reine permalink
    December 21, 2010 9:54 PM

    I knew it! I, too, have a tambourine Ed but it has not yet seen an international audience. Some day…

  150. mishari permalink*
    December 21, 2010 11:12 PM

    The Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” will delay its opening night by four weeks, until Monday, Feb. 7, to provide more time for its creators — the director Julie Taymor and U2’s Bono and the Edge — to make changes in the $65 million show before theater critics review it, the lead producer announced on Friday.

    As a result, the musical will now have a total of 10 weeks of preview performances, one of the longest stretches in Broadway history.

    Bono and the Edge are set to return to New York this month after a U2 tour and resume work on the superhero musical, which has drawn sharp complaints from a good number of audience members about the clarity of the storytelling, the quality of the music and the overall good time of the show, which is far and away the most expensive in Broadway history.

    The first preview performance gave audiences a taste of things to come–at the end of Act I, Spider-Man had just flown and landed onstage with the musical’s heroine, Mary Jane Watson (played by Jennifer Damiano), in his arms. He was then supposed to zoom off toward the balcony seating area, a few hundred feet away.

    Instead, a harness and cables lifted Spider-Man several yards up and over the audience, then stopped. A production stage manager, C. Randall White, called for a halt to the show over the sound system, apparently in hopes of fixing and re-doing the stunt.

    Crew members, standing on the stage, spent 45 seconds trying to grab Spider-Man by the foot, as the audience laughed and oohed. When they finally caught him, Mr. White announced intermission, and the house lights came on.

    The record for the most preview performances is believed to be held by the 1991 romantic murder mystery musical “Nick & Nora,” which extended to 71 previews so vast changes could be undertaken.

    That show opened on Dec. 8, 1991, received atrocious reviews and closed a week later. —The NYT


  151. mishari permalink*
    December 21, 2010 11:20 PM

    Sorry, but this one is an on-going fiasco. Thank you Bongo and Mr. Edge:

    Theatergoers who attended Monday’s performance of “Spider-Man,” a $65 million musical featuring complicated aerial stunts, said that they saw a performer playing the title hero fall into a pit during the closing minutes of the show, and that some equipment fell into the audience when this occurred. A video of the performance showed a line holding the performer apparently snap.

    Steven Tartick, an audience member, said the accident occurred during a scene when Spider-Man is rescuing his love interest, Mary Jane, as she dangles from a rope attached to a bridge.

    Mr. Tartick said he saw the actor playing Spider-Man appear to trip and fall from the bridge, into an open pit at the end of the stage.

    “You heard screams,” Mr. Tartick said. “You heard a woman screaming and sobbing.”

    Mr. Tartick said there was a blackout, and then the house lights in the theater were restored. An announcement made in the theater first said there would be a delay in the performance. The announcement was then updated to say the show was over.–The NYT, today


  152. MeltonMowbray permalink
    December 22, 2010 12:51 AM

    Well, I won’t be contributing here for a while, so I hope you all enjoy a nice Christmas etc.

    • Reine permalink
      December 22, 2010 8:12 AM

      Happy Christmas MM to you and Mrs M and the family, safe travelling. R

    • December 22, 2010 8:54 AM

      I wouldn’t have thought sorting out the paper delivery would take you away from home for so long but given what you’ve said here it’s not a surprise..


  153. mishari permalink*
    December 22, 2010 12:56 AM

    Off ‘oop North, laik’? Enjoy your holiday, old horse. See you in the new year, I daresay.

  154. Zeph permalink
    December 22, 2010 1:35 AM

    When the snow lay round about
    deep and crisp and even
    the 4 x 4s were struggling up the hill
    I looked out
    and saw that old fool Wenceslas
    heading past the Agnes Arms
    with that kid in tow
    (ought to be taken into care if you ask me).
    “Mark my footsteps!”
    he was shouting
    and the kid plodding along behind him.
    They seemed to be heading for Jack’s house
    next to the Forest
    the place that looks so run down
    until you realise Jack’s got a garage full
    of iffy plasma TVs and Xboxes
    and a brand new Beamer in that old shed.
    It looked like Wenceslas was taking him
    some sort of Christmas hamper.
    Poor Jack, I thought,
    you won’t get rid of him,
    he’ll stand there and watch you eat it all
    he did it to me once.
    I’m all for a bit of Christmas spirit
    but I can’t stand do-gooders
    know what I mean?


  155. Zeph permalink
    December 22, 2010 11:48 AM

    A very Happy Christmas to all, and good luck for 2011!

  156. mishari permalink*
    December 22, 2010 12:12 PM

    Thanks for the pome, Zeph and may the new year treat you with the kindness you deserve.

  157. December 22, 2010 2:48 PM

    Removing snow from the path twenty-four seven
    Now we have to dig in for two thousand and eleven

    Backwards and forwards the shovels come and go
    Clearing a path to where I don’t know

    Despite my route-planning lack of decision
    Despite my future’s lack of precision
    Despite an uncertain end to the year
    Seasons Good wishes and we’re all still here.

    See you in 2011 everyone

  158. December 22, 2010 4:06 PM

    Being post-pagan I’ll wish everyone a


    (which covers almost every ritual festivity from August ’til the following spring)

  159. reine permalink
    December 22, 2010 10:18 PM

    Happy holidays everyone – wish you all the very best for the season and the new year. Glad to have made your better acquaintance throughout 2010. Bye, see ye, love ye. XX R

  160. InvisibleJack permalink
    December 22, 2010 10:46 PM

    Being a Pagan Gnostic-Christian Anarcho-Socialist Sociopoetic Irish Faery Martian may I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy grok

    May you grok forever and whatever comes after

    Jack Brae

  161. mishari permalink*
    December 22, 2010 11:21 PM

    The same to you, Jack and to you, sweet Reine. One of this year’s greatest satisfactions was gaining you and hic and Jack and Simon as new friends…

  162. reine permalink
    December 22, 2010 11:25 PM

    Thanks Mish, your talent and forbearance are greatly appreciated. I am humbled to be a small part of such august company. x

  163. reine permalink
    December 23, 2010 10:25 AM

    I like this new look,

  164. mishari permalink*
    December 23, 2010 11:50 AM

    I’m glad. It was always my favourite and I only gave it up because it had one serious flaw: no time-stamp on people’s comments. Now that they’ve fixed that, everything’s cool…

  165. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    December 23, 2010 12:03 PM

    Hate this particular time-stamp. Should’ve been leaving on a turbo-prop plane over three hours ago. Now that the UK’s airports are working, someone forecast snow last night in Paris, so they arbitrarily cancelled 25% of flights. It didn’t snow, needless to say. So I bought another flight, this time to Exeter, tomorrow afternoon. Cue snow…

    • reine permalink
      December 23, 2010 12:44 PM

      Henry, really hope you have safe if not speedy passage to your family. You deserve a joyous reunion.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 23, 2010 4:30 PM

      Seconding Reine, I tried to add ‘Wings’ to your Christmas present, but they didn’t post.

      I’m heading out now for the first ski of the season :) I’ll take all your snow.

  166. hic8ubique permalink
    December 23, 2010 12:17 PM

    Oh, where have I been? some have already taken their respective leaves for the holidays.
    I miss you all already. Mwah, mwah! Bon Voyages!

    I was chosen to be the Lord of Misrule in front of 1,200 folk on Solstice evening, but made a brave and bold show of it. I was then doubly serenaded and given a take-away box of boar’s-head leftovers. My crown fell over my mince-pies, to the delight of the crowd, but I recovered to pronounce a scripted decree in my ‘outdoor voice’ as directed, and to grant every desired boon.
    I’ve been all consternation since, knowing I’ve only 5 minutes left of fame to spend in this life.

    Dear Bashful Lurker~~ atf? Rise up, rise up and take your part! I wish you cochlear repose and cheerful company.

    Dear JackBC~~ What have you been doing to yourself ? How has this distress come to pass? You’ve fulfilled your promise of Jesus Born on Moss, but paid a grave price for your fidelity.
    I hereby infuse you with cayenne-laced chicken veg soup, and beef-bone and ox-tail broth to be administered hourly by will-o-the-wisps.

    Dear Des~~ Earthen ground to stand upon to give root to your soaring inspirations.

    Dear Vicar~~ In your absence, I’m personally installing attic insulation to prevent warming of your roof, in case snow should perchance fall on the IoW again sometime during the next 20 years, and bringing you a basket of breathing space.

    Dear Moon~~ I wish you a haunting : the embodied spirits of your family about you. A new study with sky-lights, fresh air and long vistas.

    Dear StevenA! I’m sending your daughter a plastic doctor’s kit as a resource for the moments immediately after she shoots you.

    DearEdT~~ The blessings of St Pancr(e)as to you.

    Dear Zeph~~ I promise not to send you a present, but I’m blinking a cat kiss: x

    Dear Simon~~ I’m infusing you with the 12 Steppes programme in advance, to obviate alcoholism during your sojourn abroad, and leaking your advent to all the most beautiful Russian spies.

    Dear Freep~~ refills every Christmas! jujube kisses and glistening leather.

    Dear Goldgathers~~ as many men as you need to mow your (tonsorial) meadow.

    Dear ExitB~~ the removal of obstacles, and abiding equanimity.

    Dear CaptNed~~ eternal youth, with perpetual publication.

    Dear Obooki~~ burgeoning loquacity, shelving to the rafters.

    Dear Reine~ Vixen Diva Extraordinaire~~
    …all my secrets, all the frou-frou you could possibly don at once, all the cavaliers you could conceive of, a round-the-world top-billing tour, and a phial of fairy-dust for your legendary bust.

    Dear Mishari (last but foremost)~~ My wild-cat immoderate adoration beyond time and space (though fortunately, I worship your unparalleled Inez even more, or there might be a scene).
    Abundant gratitude that you have the will and fancy to carry on hosting us in this your most accommodating imaginarium.
    I give you inexhaustible forbearance to match your own gift for perspicacity, and sublime patience to anticipate your gift for clemency. Sweet deep dreamless sleep. May your wise heart always prevail.

    … and to every tomten in the wainscoting~~ a steaming bowl of risgrynsgröt and a fire to warm yourself by.

    Shanti ~~~ Great Love and Thanks to you all.


  167. reine permalink
    December 23, 2010 12:43 PM

    Well, hicsterina, you win the prize for the best Christmas card – as my dear old Dad would say “that took a bit of thinking about, isn’t she a very thoughtful young lady?” And so you are, wonderful greetings to all and sundry. xx

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 23, 2010 4:26 PM

      Thanks Re, I do think of my poetty friends very much. Once a year, I should be able to muster up a saying-so. Extra kisses for our dear old Dads. I took mine a joint-relieving mat for the kitchen yesterday, so he can stand on it whist making his annual batch of Swedish meatballs today~the sort of present best delivered early.

      Pinkroom, left-out but not forgotten there amongst the tomte. He will I hope forgive me, as I did throw him a love-verse last week.

  168. mishari permalink*
    December 23, 2010 2:46 PM

    Oyster prices are also spiralling in France this winter. A herpes virus known as OsHV-1 has been killing off baby oysters, or spats, around the French coastline for three years, causing a shortage of mature oysters this Christmas.–The Indy, today

    “O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
    “You’ve had a pleasant run!
    Shall we be trotting home again?’
    But answer came there none–
    And this was scarcely odd, because
    They were all away at the clinic, being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.

  169. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    December 23, 2010 4:32 PM

    Cancel the ersters, they’ve all got crabs.

    Ta Hic, thanks Reine… An afternoon diet of wine and fantasy movies has restored my faith in the far-fetched. And the snow is only light…

    Be of good cheer!

  170. InvisibleJack permalink
    December 23, 2010 8:14 PM

    Thanks for the well-wishes everyone. I had to trudge through a mile of snow to the car this afternoon and then drive through packed and slippery snow the seven or so miles into town to pay another visit to my doctor. She was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t have pnuemonia as she’d been gleefully expressing the need to hospitalize me if I had. Anyway, she gave me a prescription for a second anti-biotic as the first one obviously hadn’t worked.

    Sadly, my poor brain addled as it is, all I can offer you is a slender haiku…

  171. InvisibleJack permalink
    December 23, 2010 8:17 PM

    Speed of light –
    in the glitter of snow
    the moon scrapes the Earth

    – Jack Brae Curtingstall

  172. freep permalink
    December 23, 2010 10:03 PM

    The Good Ship PH (for hic)

    Two thousand and eleven; a year potent
    With menace and rations. Time when the Rodent
    Of Doom may gnaw our innards with jocund
    Cruel Glee. Yet, hold that harrow’d moment –

    There, by the bustling quay lies that we all hold vital:
    The ship of Good Hope, Politely Homicidal;
    Its master, Ahab Adwani, with his ebon idol
    Pores over charts, plots currents, masters tidal

    Rips and whirlpools dire; straps on his shin of timber,
    Eases down river his wild and wilful clipper.
    His crew, mutinous, murmur ‘gainst their skipper.
    Below, the starv’d galley slaves heave and whimper.

    Yet forth it glides, seeking the perfect lyric,
    Furrowing the main, riding the ripples rhythmic,
    Skirting the skerries Celtic, saluting sirens and cynics,
    Who stare as she slides o’er the horizon mystic

    Where no white whale awaits, no barnacle gigantique,
    No grave new world beyond the Atlantique –
    But a pleasure ground, where dogg’relists romantique
    Perform their pirouettes both plucky and pedantique.

    O I have liked this place this year, and my dogg ( a Quaker, being a terrier and all) and I (being in the provisional wing of the Unitarians) wish all here a useful grok, hope for a Messiah (yet again), and pray for good sailing in 2011’s barque.

  173. hic8ubique permalink
    December 24, 2010 2:55 AM

    O freep!
    Beautiful and masterful. I am very much moved by your dedication, and such a cherished prize is best shared amongst friends. How did you know? skerries, my favourite, are just what I wanted this year!
    May our blusterous PH mutinies ever be in jest, whilst there is a true and dexterous hand at the wheel.

    This evening, I’ve been in a focussed frenzy of chocolate-fuelled wrapping ( I will always leave it to the last) as the Jul Tomten must arrive tomorrow evening without fail.
    Good Heavens! I’d better make sure there’s sufficient Aquavit for him; it would bode ill for 2011 to omit this most essential propitiation.

  174. mishari permalink*
    December 24, 2010 11:50 AM

    Alright, not very seasonal, I know, but this had me gawping in disbelief:

    “It’s evidence of Iran’s meddling in countries outside its borders”–US spokesdroid on BBC News, commenting on the arrest of an Iranian Revolutionary Guardsman in Afghanistan (which, unlike the US, is actually next-door to Iran).

    The US, which has an army of some 150,000 troops in Afghanistan, a country that is literally half-way around the world, is outraged that Iran ‘meddles’ in a country with which it shares a language, a religion and a 500-mile border (1000-miles if you include Pakistan).

    Irony isn’t merely dead: its corpse has been disinterred, stuffed into an Uncle Sam costume and forced to consume cheeseburgers and Coca-Cola while singing ‘God Bless America’.

  175. December 24, 2010 11:57 AM

    M, as long as we’re indulging in Xmas Cheer, here’s what I posted on my Facebook this morning:

    “So a celebrity accuses the former vice president of *mass murder* on prime time television and no public intellectual writes an editorial on this extraordinary state of affairs… ? Zizek silent? Noam above it? BHL and HLG uninterested?”

  176. December 24, 2010 12:00 PM

    And: re: the “Iran is meddling” comment: you have to admire the sheer balls it would take to say this… or despise the stupidity of a public capable of nodding in response

  177. mishari permalink*
    December 24, 2010 12:21 PM

    I don’t know what the ‘truth’ of the 9/11 attacks is but I’m absolutely convinced that whatever it is, we have never been told it by any government or MSM outlet.

    Mind you, Jesse Ventura needs to lose that ponytail…seriously, dude…

  178. December 24, 2010 12:31 PM

    Left my hat so just popping back.

    Chez moi we’ve been dragging our jaws along the carpet after hearing that US statement on the radio this morning.

    It surely can’t be long before the balance of world power shifts way from the US and they become labelled as the meddlers. It will be a bumpy ride no doubt but once Friends is no longer playing 24/7 in every country in every corner of the world then the end must be nigh.

    Found it – back in t’ New Year.

  179. mishari permalink*
    December 24, 2010 7:35 PM

    One of my brothers-in-law alerted me to this compelling (I think that’s the word) flick that he’d come across:

    Nude Nuns With Big Guns starring Bill Oberst Jr., Tomas Boykin, Devanny Pinn and Tawny Amber Young (US, 2009)

    Upon taking her vows to become a nun, Sister Sarah is abused, brainwashed and drugged into submission by the corrupt clergy. On the verge of death from a lethal dose of drugs, Sister Sarah receives a message from GOD telling her to take vengeance on all those who did her wrong. Armed with God’s will and an arsenal of big guns, she dispenses Judgment Day on her former tormentors. When the church hires merciless motorcycle gang “Los Muertos” to track down and kill her, they soon realize that this Sister is ONE BAD MOTHER.

    …now that’s what I call entertainment.

  180. Gay Man permalink
    December 26, 2010 2:38 PM

    Happy Stephen’s day.

    It was either this or Bono singing on Grafton Street on Xmas eve 2010.

    I stumbled across it this morning. I ended up at a Tipperary pals house on the N Circular Christmas Eve, me, him, markie and ingus, decks, very very loud music, two dee jays, two dabblers in rhyme on the mic and at 7.45, after a few beers and whiskeys, rum and chocolate milkshake, I roared, turn that music down, and at that very moment the male noisy neighbour from next door knocked asking the volume be turned down. #

    Fell asleep in the chair by the fire in the kitchen and woke around 2pm, more people had arrived and I left at 6 to make sure Sue had a dinner, fell asleep at 11 and up today at 9, done the chores and ready to return to the three day session…

  181. mishari permalink*
    December 27, 2010 1:07 AM

    Sounds like you’ve been enjoying the festive season, Des. Best wishes for the new year.

    The Home Office
    UK Borders Agency
    Lunar House
    40 Wellesley Road,
    Croydon CR9 2BY

    Dear Mr. Christ,

    You have applied for asylum in the United Kingdom and asked to be recognised as a refugee under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva Convention) on the basis that it would be contrary to the United Kingdom’s obligations under the Geneva Convention for you to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom.

    You claim to have a well founded fear of persecution in Palestine. Your application has not been considered by the Secretary of State personally but by an official acting on his behalf.

    In your interview you had difficulty explaining the reasons you claim to have suffered persecution. You claim to have suffered persecution because you are descended from David. In the alternative it is because you are the son of God. It is noted that in your screening interview you named Joseph and Mary as your parents. You also claim to have suffered persecution because of your preaching activities.

    It is considered that even the basic personal information you have provided about your family is inconsistent and therefore casts doubt on your entire claim. It is further noted that you have failed to provide birth certificates or other documents that might be expected to prove you are descended from David or that you are the son of Mary, Joseph and/or God.

    While it is accepted that asylum seekers may have difficulty producing documentary proof, you claim to have 11 close supporters who could easily send you such documents.

    Because of your family background you claim to have narrowly avoided being killed soon after birth when a local warlord called Herod ordered the slaughter of the innocents. It is noted that some country information sources confirm that such an event took place.

    However, your claim to be the intended victim is rejected. If you had been the intended victim and Herod was as powerful as you claim then you would be dead by now. It is implausible that you could have escaped in the way that you claim. This aspect of your account is rejected as being implausible.

    It is noted that you and your family fled Herod’s territory. If you were a genuine refugee you would have claimed asylum in the first safe country. This casts further doubt on the veracity of your claim.

    You claim to have been involved in a number of extremely implausible events, including walking on water and moving a very large boulder while technically dead. Your representative, a qualified and accredited Church of England adviser, submitted that these miracles are allegorical and are in fact complex metaphors.

    It is noted that you make no such claim yourself. These aspects of your claim are rejected and undermine your general credibility. It is noted that you claim that these events exacerbated your persecution. As the events are rejected, so too is your claim to have been persecuted because of them.

    It is noted that you claim to have travelled to the UK on a previous occasion with Joseph of Arimathea. As your representative conceded the dates simply do not add up. Further, if you had travelled to the UK previously you have not explained why you did not claim asylum previously.

    If you were genuinely in fear of your life because of your family background it is reasonable to have expected you to claim asylum at the earliest opportunity. This casts further doubt on the veracity of your claim.

    It is further noted that your fear is of the Pharisees. They appear to be non-state actors. It is therefore considered reasonable that you relocate within Palestine. Further, it is considered that you have failed to avail yourself of the protection of the local authorities and therefore that you will have a sufficiency of protection if you are returned.

    You claim that Pilate ‘washed his hands’ of you but this does not indicate an inability on the part of state authorities to offer protection, the test established by the case of Horvath.

    Your claim for asylum is rejected. You are requested to leave the UK. If you do not leave voluntarily your departure will be enforced.

    Yours etc

    ….and in other faith-based news, Hugh Hefner, 84 is to marry his 24 year-old girlfriend…time to invest in Pfizer shares (Pfizer make Viagra):

    • hic8ubique permalink
      December 27, 2010 2:50 PM

      A fine match-up, Mishari; I enjoyed that. For the moment, Charlie has broken the spell of JSBs Christmas Oratorio.
      I should mention, having whinged loudly at your last attempt, that I do like the new format as well.
      At last we have a proper snowfall here. The trees have that confectionery look.

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