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Instruments To Plague Us

January 26, 2011



There came the devil of tobacco and the devil of chocolate, who avenged the Indies against Spain, for they have done more harm by introducing among us those powders and smoke and chocolate cups and chocolate beaters than the King had ever done through Columbus and Cortés and Almagreo and Pizarro.

For it was better and cleaner and more honourable to be killed by a musket ball or a lance than by snuffing and belching and dizziness and fever.

–from El Entometido y la Dueña y el Soplon by Francisco De Quevedo, 1628

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us.
King Lear, Act V scene iii


We all have vices. Some minor, like chocolate and tobacco; some marginally more serious, like narcotics and strong drink; and some that can wreck lives, like cruelty and avarice. However, we are but infants playing in the fields of vice in comparison to some of the more notably vicious.

Of all the monsters of vice thrown up by Imperial Rome–Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Caracalla (described by Gibbon as the common enemy of mankind) etc–my favourite is Heliogabalus, who had all the vices of his predecessors, absent the cruelty. According to Gibbon:

To confound the order of the season and climate, to sport with the passions and prejudices of his subjects, and to subvert every law of nature and decency, were in the number of his most delicious amusements. A long train of concubines, and a rapid succession of wives, among whom was a vestal virgin, ravished by force from her sacred asylum, were insufficient to satisfy the impotence of his passions.

The master of the Roman world affected to copy the manners and dress of the female sex, preferring the distaff to the sceptre, and dishonoured the principle dignities of the empire by distributing them among his numerous lovers; one of whom was publicly invested with the title and authority of the emperor’s, or, as he more properly styled himself, the empress’s husband.

It may seem probable, the vices and follies of Heliogabalus have been adorned by fancy, and blackened by prejudice. Yet, confining ourselves to the public scenes displayed before the Roman people, and attested by grave and contemporary historians, their inexpressible infamy surpasses that of any other age or country

Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. 1, Chapter 6.

Gibbon elaborated (in one of his voluminous and delightful footnotes) that Heliogabalus lived for the pleasures ‘of the bed and the table’. Favourite concubines and catamites were showered with gold and villas. Likewise, favourite chefs. However, should a chef create a sauce or a dish that displeased the emperor, he would be cast into the palace dungeons, there to dine solely on the unsatisfactory sauce or dish until he came up with one that pleased the emperor.

Infinitely more ugly in character and vice was Gilles de Rais, Marshal of France and monster, whose vice was molesting and killing children for pleasure. In his 1971 biography of Gilles de Rais, Jean Benedetti tells how the children who fell into de Rais’s hands were put to death:

“[The boy] was pampered and dressed in better clothes than he had ever known. The evening began with a large meal and heavy drinking, particularly hippocras, which acted as a stimulant. The boy was then taken to an upper room to which only Gilles and his immediate circle were admitted. There he was confronted with the true nature of his situation. The shock thus produced on the boy was an initial source of pleasure for Gilles.”

In his own confession, Gilles testified that “when the said children were dead, he kissed them and those who had the most handsome limbs and heads he held up to admire them, and had their bodies cruelly cut open and took delight at the sight of their inner organs; and very often when the children were dying he sat on their stomachs and took pleasure in seeing them die and laughed…”

The exact figure is unknown but de Rais is thought to have murdered between 200 and 600 children. In 1440, de Rais was convicted, hanged and his body burned.

William Gladstone’s guilty pleasure was pornography. But it caused great guilt that Gladstone attempted to extirpate by self-flagellation and cruising the late-night streets of Soho and Central London seeking out prostitutes to ‘save’. While Gladstone was a sincere and committed Christian, his night-time activities caused some merriment and some suspicion.

In his diaries, Gladstone freely admitted that he found himself very attracted to many of the young girls he encountered. He never succumbed to the attraction but resorted to self-whipping instead. It’s hard to decide what Gladsone’s vice actually was: pride? masochism? sanctimony? lust? hypocrisy? paternalistic condescension?

Francis Thompson, author of the poem The Hound of Heaven had that most straight-forward of vices: an addiction to opium. His enslavement by the poppy led to the life of a homeless vagrant on the streets of London. He was ‘discovered’ after he sent poetry to the magazine Merrie England. He was sought out by the editors of Merrie England, Wilfrid and Alice Meynell and rescued from the verge of starvation and self-destruction.

The egregious Bono’s vices are self-adoration, hypocrisy, a devotion to double-standards and a relentless addiction to publicity. Ditto the loathsome Sting. At least Bono has spared us the details of his sex life and refrained from mangling John Dowland.

Let’s have verse on vice, vices and viciousness.

Here’s one on a vice I suspect many of us share:

Drinking Song

Look at old Morrison!
Isn’t he wonderful?
Fit as a fiddle
And tight as a tick;
And spouting his stories–
Just listen a minute
And laugh yourself sick.

Same with the other chaps:
Bloody good company,
Never let anyone
Drink on his own;
Out of your parish
Or widowed or derelict–
Once you’re in here
You’re no longer alone.

Different for Weatherby,
Struck with incontinence
Mute in his wheelchair
And ready to go;
Different for Hooper,
Put back on the oxygen,
Breathing, but breathing
Uncommonly slow.

Did what we could, of course,
While there was anything;
Best to remember ’em
Not as they are,
But as they used to be,
Chattering, chaffing and…
You go and eat
And I’ll stay at the bar.

Kingsley Amis

  1. Reine permalink
    January 26, 2011 1:20 PM

    Across the Bar

    A fleeting dalliance,
    an outside chance,
    What GaGa calls
    a bad romance

    Impulse decision
    made in haste
    more chased upstairs
    than being chaste

    Lust in haste
    Repent at leisure
    Plot twists to rival
    Measure for Measure

    What a tangled web indeed
    Practise how not to conceive
    Cross the rampant Rubicon
    Pray for swift reprieve

  2. January 26, 2011 2:24 PM

    The Love Song of J Alfred Gere

    In the room the women come and go
    Talking about the best place a hamster can go.

  3. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 26, 2011 2:31 PM


    It ambushed me like a virus,
    from the radio, the TV,
    the half-heard muzak on the bus,
    my daughter’s tinny mp3.

    It really doesn’t hurt at all,
    it’s almost completely painless
    but for the slightly numbing pall
    of mild regret and sadness.

    But whatever I do it’s there,
    it seems my system’s been hamstrung
    by an infection from Sloane Square.
    Someone help me. I like Will Young.

  4. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 26, 2011 2:33 PM

  5. January 26, 2011 2:42 PM

    The version not heavily edited by Ezra Pound

    The Love Song of J Alfred Gere

    Let us go then, you and I,
    When my filming schedule has run dry
    Like a rodent waiting in a pet-shop;
    Let us go, through half-regenerated parts of town,
    Everything is closing down
    Where animals come cheap, very much a steal
    Complete with cage and hamster wheel:
    Dark streets that allow my perversion
    Involving an insidious insertion.
    To lead you to an overwhelming curiosity….
    Oh, do not ask, “why do I do it?”
    Just stoop down low so you can view it.

    In the room the women come and go
    Not knowing I have something down below.

  6. January 26, 2011 2:49 PM

    Ed. Could you change the third-line to ” Like a rodent waiting in a pet-shop”

    If you want to moderate the shorter version completely I wouldn’t blame you.

  7. Reine permalink
    January 26, 2011 6:45 PM

    Great work Eduardo. You saw a speculum, and raised a hamster.

    Do you make Mrs. M’s nights “evergreen” MM? I can’t see what vid you’ve posted – Youtube blocked in the office.

  8. mishari permalink*
    January 26, 2011 7:12 PM

    He posted a Will Young video. It’s driven me to drink.

    Under-Age Drinking At The Adelphi Hotel in Edinburgh1963

    Snug in the austere Lounge in the Old Town
    New-shaved and after-shaved, two Beatle-cuts
    Over two bottles of Newcastle Brown,
    Tow shortie-coats, two ties in Windsor knots
    On wide-striped shirts with button-collars, trousers
    The twelve-inch-bottom, charcoal-grey ballcrushers,
    And Chelsea Boots with shiny chisel toes, as
    Exquisite as the Tsars of All the Russias,

    Home on a brace of out-of-town hairies
    Bumming the chat, relaxed and debonair,
    ‘Two o’ these, Jimmie, and two Bloody Maries.’
    ‘Fancy our chances, pal?’ ‘We’re well in there.’
    Prop up the bar and plan out the attack:

    Kiss on the doorstep and a long walk back.

    John Whitworth

    “[Eugene] O’Neill would prop himself against the bar. The bartender, who knew him well, would place a shot glass in front of him, toss a towel across the bar, as though absentmindedly forgetting it, and glide away…. Hanging the towel around his neck, O’Neill would grasp both the glass of whiskey and one end of the towel in his right hand, while he clutched the other end of the towel with his left. Using the towel as a pulley, he would laboriously hoist the glass to his lips.”Arthur and Barbara Gelb, O’Neill

    Apropos of nothing but funny nonetheless:

    The best story about the [Cairo] station, told to me by a man who witnessed it unfold, does not concern a luminary but rather a person delayed in the third-class ticket line. When this fussed and furious man at last got to the window he expressed his exasperation to the clerk, saying, “Do you know who I am?”

    The clerk looked him up and down and, without missing a beat, said, “In that shabby suit, with a watermelon under your arm, and a third class ticket to El Minya, who could you possibly be?”–from Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

  9. Reine permalink
    January 26, 2011 7:24 PM

    Ah, good old Eugene, author of Long Day’s Journey Into Night (and The Following Day). Went to see it with a friend last year; he fell asleep after the second interval and – at the point where it seems the play might end and the mother is then heard stirring upstairs – the guy the other side of me clutched my arm and said “please fuc*ing tell me she doesn’t come down again”. The theatre emptied out a cast of frantic hundreds gasping for a drink or five.

  10. January 26, 2011 7:33 PM

    Thanks Reine and thanks Ed.

    I used to be taught by a painter called Norman Stevens back in the days when lecturers could get off with female students and turn up in the studios in the afternoon absolutely pissed out of their heads with no-one thinking any of this was out of order..

    In the evening he used to drink with the students at the local pub. He had a dodgy leg so used to wedge himself between the bar and a column and drink until he was practically unconscious. At the end of the evening we used to prise him out and load him into a taxi.

    He was a contemporary of Hockney and slightly bitter about the success Hockney enjoyed. He painted beautifully realised but utterly boring pictures of topiary.

    Will Young would have been the final straw. On my computer it tells me to watch the video on YouTube. I politely declined.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 26, 2011 10:37 PM

      You should have a look. It’s an interesting video, regardless of the song.

  11. January 26, 2011 7:37 PM

    re: Cairo. A friend of mine went there on holiday. As she stood waiting to cross the road a bus went passed absolutely rammed with passengers.

    At the back there was a head sticking out squeezed between the bus doors which had obviously shut quicker than the owner of the head had calculated

  12. mishari permalink*
    January 26, 2011 7:53 PM

    I am at the moment just recovering from a very heavy bout of drinking.On the evening of the last day about which I have written I had a good drinking evening with Alec, Terence, and Richard Greene.

    Exactly a week later I suddenly went to Oxford by the most impossible train which stopped at every station. I arrived at 10.30 and drove to 31 St. Aldate’s where I found an enormous orgy in progress. Billy and I unearthed a strap and whipped Tony. Everyone was hideously drunk except wastedly enough myself.

    Next day I moved to 40 Beaumont Street and began a vastly expensive career of heroin. After a quiet day in cinemas, I had a dinner party of Claud, Elmley, Terence, Roger Hollis and a poor drunk called Macgregor. I arrived quite blind after a great number of cocktails at the George with Claud.

    Eventually the dinner broke up and Claud, Roger Hollis and I went off for a pub-crawl which after sundry indecorous adventures ended up at the Hypocrites where another blind was going on. Foor Mr Macgregor turned up after having lain with a woman but almost immediately fell backwards downstairs. I think he was killed.

    Next day I drank all the morning from pub to pub and invited to lunch with me at the New Reform John Sutro, Roger Hollis, Claud and Alfred Duggan. I am not sure if there was anyone else. I ate no lunch but drank solidly and was soon in the middle of a bitter quarrel with the president – a preposterous person called Cotts – who expelled me from the club.

    Alfred and I then drank double brandies until I could not walk. He carried me to Worcester where I fell out of a window and then relapsed into unconsciousness punctuated with severe but well-directed vomitings…

    from The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, 8 December, 1924

  13. mishari permalink*
    January 26, 2011 8:13 PM

    I must say, this phone-hacking scandal is brewing up rather nicely and looks set to drop a lot of spectacularly nasty fuckers deep into the shit. Hurrah!

    Meanwhile, our brilliant boy Chancellor (whose only previous jobs outside of politics have been as a data-entry clerk for the NHS and as a trainee manager at Selfridges) has the economy headed firmly for the Great Depression Pt.2.

    I have a feeling we’re going to need all the vices we can get.

  14. mishari permalink*
    January 26, 2011 11:17 PM

    I’ve just had some depressing news: Rupert Murdoch’s mother is still alive, at 102. I bear Ma Murdoch no animosity but it suggests that her ghastly son might be with us for longer than any sane person could possibly wish. Must have another drink.

    It’s grimly entertaining watching the US dithering and soft-pedalling its response to the unrest in Egypt, their client/puppet state (after Israel, Egypt is the largest recipient of US ‘aid’). At first, there was no response at all. Then there was the usual boilerplate about the need for ‘calm’ on both sides (blahblahblah…see Tunisia passim). Now, Billary has apparently awoken from her coma and is demanding that the vile Mubarak institute ‘reforms’. Priceless.

    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.–K’ung-fu-tzu, 5th century BC

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 26, 2011 11:41 PM

      Blimey, I thought Rupert was about 98.

      There’s a good bit in E Waugh’s diaries (or letters, can’t remember which) where he writes about a visit to his doctor (when he’s a famous middle-aged author), who asks how much alcohol he drinks. Perhaps three bottles of wine, a few glasses of sherry, half a bottle of port and half a bottle of spirits, Waugh replies. Well, that’s not too bad for a week’s intake, says the doctor, whereupon Waugh tells him it’s his daily ration. Later he reflects that it was probably wise not to mention the huge doses of chloral hydrate he was also taking. God knows how he managed to write anything.

    • January 27, 2011 9:41 AM

      I know quite a few artists who drink prodigiously and in some cases dangerously but it doesn’t appear to affect their work rate or appetite to create.

      Several of them almost superstitiously link their creative spirit with the lack of inhibition that alcohol brings so have decided that becoming alcoholic and dying is probably a better option than giving up and becoming creatively sterile.

      Who knows?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 27, 2011 2:22 PM

      I’ve noticed that your posts grow more disjointed as the day wears on. I put it down to incipient senility, but now I know the truth I urge you to Get Help. An absence of Olde Rosen’s Whisky-Style Drink will not affect your creative processes.

    • January 27, 2011 5:39 PM

      hgro nu7ytr lmbfd uyrt hfjgftdrsjhgkxgfgrd ohggh llgx

      ( written at 5.38 p.m )

    • January 27, 2011 5:43 PM

      hdfdng uev hhkjhtd popp fdgf!!! e uhg bgj ll! Yu gdh c bb innit?

  15. mishari permalink*
    January 26, 2011 11:55 PM

    It’s a pity that the Waugh BBC Face To Face interview with John Freeman isn’t on youtube or available on the BBC archive website.

  16. Reine permalink
    January 26, 2011 11:56 PM

    Is it a vice to hope for a visit from MM at midnight?

  17. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2011 12:00 AM

    No, that’s what we fake psychiatrists call ‘a perversion’…

  18. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2011 10:43 AM

    …and now, it’s time for another Comedy Classic from those zany funsters at News International:

    Details of the case remain concealed by court orders. However, a senior News International executive has claimed that Dan Evans’s defence is that he phoned Kelly Hoppen’s number for legitimate reasons and accidentally accessed her voicemail when the keys on his phone got stuck.–The Grauniad, today

    …it’s way he tells ’em.

  19. Reine permalink
    January 27, 2011 12:45 PM


    Come into my office would you dear
    I need a letter typed
    And make my lunch appointment
    For half twelve with my wife
    Come closer dear, look at this word
    You seem to have missed a letter
    Yes, down a little further,
    Very good, that’s much much better
    You can’t see it? My mistake then,
    send it with the insert sample
    Mmm, mmm, yes, they seem quite large
    Sorry, the enclosure size is ample
    Listen, cancel that appointment
    I’ll take you to lunch
    Celebrate your exam results
    Some Moet while we munch
    Don’t be silly you need to eat
    A growing girl like you
    If you don’t shore up your defences
    You’re bound to get the flu
    And you don’t want that lovely chest of yours
    Heaving as you cough
    What do you mean you’d prefer it
    If I took my hands straight off?
    I was just illustrating a point
    No need to get so shirty
    I may have misread the signals
    Thought you were getting flirty
    Yes, I know you’re only seventeen
    Please don’t tell your father
    I’ll transfer you to purchasing
    If that is what you’d rather
    Look, please, I’m really sorry
    I know I crossed the line
    It’s just those eyes distract me
    When they’re looking into mine
    Yes of course it is quite normal
    To look at who is talking
    And no, it’s not normal at all
    To get erect when you walk in
    I take your point, from now on
    If you stay at your post
    I’ll give you a daily bonus
    And make amends utmost

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 27, 2011 2:23 PM

      Good one. It wasn’t Andy Gray, was it?

    • Reine permalink
      January 27, 2011 2:47 PM

      Looked a bit like him. Red top sub-eds all over the country must be having fun with Andy.

  20. Reine permalink
    January 27, 2011 12:48 PM

    Too many bloody “posts”!

  21. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2011 12:51 PM

    How about ‘if you give your utmost’ for ‘if you stay at your post’? Works for me…terrific poem, BTW.

  22. Reine permalink
    January 27, 2011 1:00 PM

    Maybe this, if you wouldn’t mind changing it… thanks for “utmost” and compliment. True story, he was a complete sleaze. He started feeling my leg under the table at lunch with colleagues on another occasion… I put my hand over his, slid it slowly up his leg (to his increasing excitement), crunched his balls and excused myself to go to the bathroom. Not very ladylike but effective. I will never forget the look on his face. Still makes me laugh.

    I take your point, from now on
    If you stay at your post
    I’ll give you a daily bonus
    And make amends utmost

  23. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2011 2:16 PM

    Done. I was going to say, it very much had the feel of ‘life lived’…

  24. Reine permalink
    January 27, 2011 2:52 PM

    Thanks Mishari, reads better. Need any letters typed?

  25. January 27, 2011 3:40 PM

    Ah, the old ball-crushing wheeze… I remember years back on a crowded bus from Milan to Monza I suddenly felt a fondling hand down there. Startled out of my reverie I looked down to see a toothless, dribbling septuagenarian grinning at me. I retreated, but the old bugger pursued me relentlessly down the aisle, withered claw outstretched for another grope. Quite hilarious, but it didn’t seem funny at the time.

  26. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2011 8:23 PM

    Great fun with the Anagram Generator. Here’s a few of the 17,109 results for Melton Mowbray:

    Momentary Blow

    Blame Worm Tony

    Embalm Worn Toy

    Bleary Mown Tom

    Maybe Molt Worn

    Lamb Money Wort

    Balmy Wet Moron

    Bylaw Term Moon

    Mambo Rent Yowl

    Wombat Enrol My

    Nab Motley Worm

    Botany Elm Worm

    Brawny Mole Tom

    Abort Newly Mom

    Bray Women Molt

    Bat Melon Wormy

    Namely Womb Rot

    Mealy Brown Mot

    Early Tomb Mown

    Yammer Bolt Own

    Name Blot Wormy

    Meany Blot Worm

    Meat Lowborn My

    Malty Born Meow

    Am Blowy Mentor

    Marmot Blow Yen

    Man Broom Wetly

    Roam Tomb Newly

    Rayon Womb Melt

    Arty Womb Lemon

    Blame Mr Town Yo

  27. January 27, 2011 9:13 PM

    Here’s some of my haul

    Dawdle Rotary
    Waddle Rotary
    Dotard Lawyer
    Reload Tawdry
    Loader Tawdry
    Ordeal Tawdry
    Dearly Toward
    A Drawled Tyro
    A Drawled Troy
    A Dawdler Tyro

    Waddle Ray Rot may be my pseudonym when I come to write a series of jock-lit novels

    whereas you seem unanagrammable Mishari. A hitherto unknown superpower??

    • Reine permalink
      January 28, 2011 12:21 AM

      Bravo. I can rest easy now.

    • BalmyWetMoron permalink
      January 28, 2011 12:34 AM

      Thanks (I think) Irene, Eiren, er ein.

    • Reine permalink
      January 28, 2011 12:39 AM

      Yes, pretty boring on the anagram front me.
      I have never thought of you as balmy, wet or moronic… I am feeling slightly disturbed.

  28. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 28, 2011 12:18 AM


    I’ll make out that I work in the City,
    and I usually drive a Porsche Baronne,
    it’s in for service today, oh what a pity,
    still, the garage have given me a loan.

    I’ve got a lovely loft in Kensington,
    it’s an absolutely wonderful space,
    unfortunately the builders are in,
    but they’ve found me a temporary place.

    OK, on the way back to my bedsit,
    chugging along in mum’s ancient Polo,
    perhaps my conquest may experience doubt,

    but once she beholds me without my kit
    and basks in my powerful sexual glow
    there’s no chance at all she’ll be walking out.

  29. Reine permalink
    January 28, 2011 12:23 AM

    Put my comment in the wrong place, loses its potency but “woteva”. Night all.

  30. BalmyWetMoron permalink
    January 28, 2011 12:23 AM

    That was hard work. My brain is working with the speed of treacle at the moment.

    Unaccountably, A Tory Dawdler has been left off ET’s list.

    • January 28, 2011 9:36 AM

      My list could reach Melton Mowbray levels with the acceptance of Tory as a word. It’s obviously an American robot doing the work ….. or Ed Miliband

    • EnrolMyWombat permalink
      January 28, 2011 11:47 AM

      Oh. I thought it might be something more sinister.

    • January 28, 2011 2:18 PM

      Ed Balls doing the work?

    • EnrolMyWombat permalink
      January 28, 2011 10:33 PM

      I thought it might be concealing your identity as an undercover blog officer.

    • January 29, 2011 11:13 AM

      What on earth would lead you to that conclusion?

    • EnrolMyWombat permalink
      January 29, 2011 11:52 AM

      I’m sure it’s nothing, but there were a couple of comments an ‘Alarming’ made on POTW a while ago which aroused my suspicions:

      June 27th 2010

      Hullo, hullo, hullo, what ‘ave we ‘ere then? This ‘ere hepic poem proceeds in a very unhinteresting direction. I should like it to accompany me to the station for further questioning.

      July14th 2009

      Oi! Just stay where you are, sonny, and keep your ‘ands where I can see ‘em. Williams, you’re nicked! What for? Offences against the Free Verse (Suppression Of) Act, you muppet! Now get in the van! Whoops, sorry, my fist slipped.

    • January 29, 2011 12:25 PM

      I proceeded to take down EnrolMyWombat’s remarks whereupon the aforementioned anagram done a scarper.

      A starving Kuwaiti man is currently helping the police with enquiries.

  31. mishari permalink*
    January 28, 2011 12:40 AM

    I take it nobody else is listening to The Red Hot Chili Pipers, a bunch of Rock ‘n Roll (sic) haggis bashers on Radio 3? If I wanted to listen to a pig being strangled, I’d buy a pig and strangle it myself…

  32. hic8ubique permalink
    January 28, 2011 3:51 AM

    Cheers, Friends ~ Delighted to have had your greetings on the day I share with Robbie.
    My heartfelt thanks to each of you.

    I enjoy simple reversals and spoonerisms more than anagrams. (Though Balmy Wet Moron is not without a sort of charm.)
    My sisters and I begin this list:

    Netsrik (Euqibutecih)




    Drawde Rolyat

    Yrneh Dyoll Noom

    Notlem Yarbwom


    Nomis Retnuh


    Nevets Enitsugua

    Tixe Enidanrab

    Niatpac Den


  33. Reine permalink
    January 28, 2011 8:30 AM

    Hi Hic, are you home? Hope the celebrations are ongoing.

    Yes, we went through a phase in primary school where we all reversed our names. I still occasionally receive correspondence addressed to Enier Notnuats. x

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 28, 2011 2:13 PM

      Yes, home. I’ll meet Gina in the Fragonard room later on, since the only vices to report were not my own.
      Still breathlessly eventful here, but I’m mulling over vice in the background.

      I forgot Smsinaitram; hope the second antibiotic worked…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 28, 2011 5:57 PM

      Wild excitement over serendipitous parcel here (causing consternation in the other room) shrieks of laughter and joy &c… !!! xxxOOO
      (Any relation to Imelda?)

    • Reine permalink
      January 28, 2011 8:24 PM

      Thank God, I posted it about a year ago! xx

      None, although I am a marvellous actress in my own mirror.

    • EnrolMyWombat permalink
      January 28, 2011 10:34 PM


    • Reine permalink
      January 28, 2011 11:18 PM

      No, shit at football, wouldn’t be caught dead in shorts but “I am always the gaffer”.

    • EnrolMyWombat permalink
      January 28, 2011 11:34 PM


    • Reine permalink
      January 28, 2011 11:42 PM

      No but adept at positional play.

  34. Notlem Yarbwom permalink
    January 28, 2011 11:42 AM

    Adolescent Vices

    I’d mainly do it on my own
    in a mostly secluded spot,
    I’d get my kit out, then get down
    to give it everything I’d got.

    Sometimes we’d do it together,
    a few of us, like in a club,
    we’d go for it hell for leather,
    we might give each other’s a rub.

    I think I had the finest one,
    very long and classically set:
    I remember how the summer sun
    winked on its massive helmet.

    We’d bet on who could finish first
    we preferred it to the lasses,
    it’s a near-unquenchable thirst,
    that taste for rubbing brasses.

  35. Notlem Yarbwom permalink
    January 28, 2011 11:44 AM

    other’s or others’? I couldn’t make up my mind.

  36. Reine permalink
    January 28, 2011 12:10 PM

    other’s – the “each” makes it singular.

    Excellent work Aladdin.

  37. Reine permalink
    January 28, 2011 12:48 PM


    In a place near the Uffizi
    on a night quite cool and breezy
    Worked a maitre d quite sleazy
    And his sidekick friend

    Closed the doors at half eleven
    And we thought we were in heaven
    L’cello, grappa, cheeses seven
    Unlimited supply of wine

    One went down to the cellar
    Said that he would tell ‘er
    How to spot a wine quite stellar
    And the others stayed above

    Having bent to find her handbag
    Gasping for a nicotine drag
    Raised her head to see his manbag
    On display beside the cheese

    “I love you” he declared
    Holding forth, no part impaired,
    In the dim light its sheen glared
    She sucked deeply on her fag

    Calming down, she softly said
    “Please put it back in bed”
    (thinking her friend might be dead
    didn’t want to cause a scene)

    Laughter pealed then from below
    And emerged into the glow
    Her friend crying “oh hello
    who’s your little friend?”

    And the moral of the tale
    For drunken girls beyond the pale
    Is that a lock-in can turn stale
    And nothing’s ever free

    Moreover, if confronted
    By a phallus that’s unwanted
    It’s quite right to be affronted
    Have an exit strategy

  38. mishari permalink*
    January 28, 2011 1:00 PM

    You’re on a hot streak, kiddo…

    ‘…Murdoch – who doesn’t like losing…’–Alexander Chancellor, The Grauniad, today

    Is there no end to Murdoch’s evil, twisted ways? Here, in stark relief, is another demonstration of how very different Murdoch is from the rest of us, who positively revel in losing…erm…[Are you sure about this?-Ed.]

    Look, I’d happily wrap Murdoch in plastique and drop a fragmentation grenade down his shorts…but he’s not evil because he doesn’t like losing. He’s evil because he’s determined to win by any means, fair or foul: there is a difference.

    • Reine permalink
      January 28, 2011 9:15 PM

      Thanks Pops, if it is me to whom you refer.

  39. mishari permalink*
    January 28, 2011 4:41 PM

    William ‘Chrome Dome’ Hague just announced (re: Egypt), “It is not for us to try to choose the rulers of other countries.”

    Exactly. How well I remember him saying exactly the same thing when Britain joined the US to change the ruler of Iraq…oh, wait…

  40. mishari permalink*
    January 28, 2011 11:28 PM

    Hillary, not everybody loves your doggie Mubarak like you and the Israelis do:

  41. mishari permalink*
    January 29, 2011 10:17 PM

    It causes a grim chuckle: first Mubarak sacks his government (as if that were the main problem) and then appoints, get this…the Chief of the Secret Police, as Vice-President. Brilliant. That’ll calm things down…I mean, honestly: how did a man with such useless political instincts stay in power for so long?

    Meanwhile, in Davos:

    It should have been a chance to trumpet recovery in cosy Alpine surroundings. At Davos, David Cameron and George Osborne wanted to sell British austerity, discipline and economic stability to the world’s most powerful people. It didn’t quite work out like that.

    The week started with dismal figures showing that Britain’s economy had shrunk by 0.5% in the final quarter of 2010 and that questions were being asked about deficit-cutting without long-term growth. And instead of getting plaudits at the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos, wherever they went British ministers were confronted by economists casting doubt on British policy.–The Groan, today

    It would make a cat laugh.

  42. January 29, 2011 10:27 PM

    “how did a man with such useless political instincts stay in power for so long?” Presumably with lashings of millitary support from the US of A.

  43. mishari permalink*
    January 29, 2011 10:52 PM

    Ed, I saw a photo of one of the tear-gas cannisters the cops are firing at the Egyptian demonstrators–printed very clearly on the side were the words ‘Made In The USA’…and the US government wonders why people despise them.

    As for Mubarak, I’m surprised that one of his more ambitious colleagues–one with better instincts–didn’t overthrow him, but as you say, Mubarak was Uncle Sugar’s fair-haired boy and I suppose they were wary of turning off the money tap.

  44. January 29, 2011 11:02 PM

    With their “allies” and their policy of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” I’m amazed the US can keep up with who they are meant to be supporting and who they aren’t.

  45. January 30, 2011 5:14 AM

    Arrived in Doha, 12 hours late and sans luggage, which Emirates had managed to leave in London. 24C here, olives, dates, feta, coffee, palm trees; feel happier already. Spent some of last night watching Al Jazeera’s coverage of events in Egypt and elsewhere; there have even been protests in Saudi. Seems I’ve arrived in the region at an interesting time…

  46. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2011 10:45 AM

    Well done, Simon. I’m sure Qatar is a wiser choice on weather grounds alone. Do keep us informed. I visited Qatar about 40 years ago at the invitation of a classmate (I went to school in Lebanon with a flock of Al-Thanis). At the time, Doha was a sleepy backwater that made Kuwait look like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.. Fishing villages dotted around the coast, great beaches, palm groves…there wasn’t a lot there. All changed now, I gather. Well, mubrook; inshalla, kilshay isiir tamaam

  47. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 30, 2011 11:14 AM

    Soft Furnishings

    Some like ladies and some like chaps,
    others like shoes, while some prefer
    being tied up with belts and straps:
    I enjoy sex with furniture.

    When I see a Victorian chest
    my erotic temperature soars,
    I love those gleaming knobs the best,
    and rummaging through the drawers.

    If by any chance I’m able
    I take every project in hand,
    I’ll lay any kind of table,
    hook up with a one-night hatstand.

    I pull the drapes, I make the bed,
    I beat the carpets till they squeal,
    I keep the rugs and throws well-spread,
    and give the sofa’s seat a feel.

    But in the showroom of allure
    absolutely nothing can beat
    that king-size sexual adventure,
    an orgy with a three-piece suite.

    Sadly I’ve had to chuck it in,
    it’s not that it’s offensive,
    or I think it might be a sin:
    dry-cleaning is so expensive.

  48. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 30, 2011 11:19 AM

    I hope those Egyptians don’t end up with something worse than they’ve got now. The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t sound like a great alternative.

    The protests in Egypt look different to those in Iran: no women on the streets at all.

  49. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2011 11:59 AM

    Nothing wrong with the Muslim Brotherhood, MM. They simply want to enact some basically sensible, albeit fanatical nutcase-like, policies.

    Everybody–men, women, children, cats, chickens, The Sphinx and the statues in the Cairo Museum–will be required to grow a beard; if you cheat at Bingo, your hand gets chopped off; women must travel though tunnels underground, so as not to be seen; The Pyramids will be torn down and turned into mosques and the Nile will be diverted into a large, high-pressure hose that will be trained on Cyprus and Crete to wash away infidels.

    I don’t see a problem.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 30, 2011 7:00 PM

      I suppose you can’t really argue with their eminently sensible programme. Those Pyramids are a waste of space. It would have been more economical to build them upside-down. Ayia Napa should be wiped off the face of the earth.

  50. Reine permalink
    January 30, 2011 12:15 PM

    Best of luck Si, go easy on the olives.

    Got the train down home yesterday – lots of reading time. Between Egypt and the political mess here (parliament to be dissolved on Tuesday), I was happy to pick up an abandoned mag to see what Jordan’s up to. Not doing much better than Egypt as it happens.

    Over breakfast, I made an aside to my mother concerning my father who was being martyred about something. She thought I had said something in Latin, a term with which she, a Latin scholar, was unfamiliar; “amorins amornails” is not Latin as you will know; the moral of the story is don’t slag off Daddy while eating a slice of brown bread.

    MM, soft furnishings hold new horrors for me – I will be carrying a bottle of disinfectant with me. Love it.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 30, 2011 7:24 PM

      Quod me nutrit me destruit, as St Angelina says. Amorins Amornails sounds like a character from a Hardy novel.

    • Reine permalink
      January 30, 2011 11:56 PM

      Yeah, he was a distant cousin of Tess’s I think.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 31, 2011 4:24 AM

      “amorins amornails”
      I utterly pitifully give up on this. Total mental block/dialect block/idiocy, but the poem is a stroke of genius. I get that.

      Qatar? *ahem, ahem* Hopeless here too. At least I know where Egypt is. I’m going to look at a map before oblivion…

    • Reine permalink
      January 31, 2011 9:17 AM

      hic, I had muttered “hammer in some more nails” in reference to Dad’s (self imposed) crucifixion.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 31, 2011 1:55 PM

      Christ on the cross.
      Doh a

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 31, 2011 6:40 PM

      Mime is a good alternative when eating. It came in very useful when I was lunching with the members of the Philosophers’ Society last week. I believe some of them are still at the restaurant.

    • Reine permalink
      January 31, 2011 7:26 PM

      Get you and your high brow lunches. I was miming as it happened, hands aloft in crucifix pose and Mam just looked at me, took a drag of her cigarette and said “Reine, I have no idea what you’re on about, are you saying mass?”

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 31, 2011 9:31 PM

      They’re still working their way through the Summa Theologica, or is it the Spiritual Exercises of Manresa… more apt.
      What did Gurdjieff call his thing~ gymnastics?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 31, 2011 9:34 PM

      Sacred Gymnastics. That’s Reine with her mouthful gesticulating excruciation.

    • Reine permalink
      January 31, 2011 9:46 PM

      And not for the first time.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 31, 2011 10:34 PM

      Your mother’s incomprehension doesn’t surprise me. Religious iconography isn’t my strong point, but I can’t remember a crucifixion scene where Jesus is chewing a sarnie.

    • Reine permalink
      February 1, 2011 12:07 AM

      Hello Ned. Excellent novel work.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 1, 2011 12:11 AM

      No no, that was already done in the Last Supper when he was the sarnie. Cue PH music channel…

  51. January 30, 2011 1:49 PM

    Simon why did I think you were headed for Russia? Was I not paying attention? Apologies and hope it goes well for you.

    Apologies to anyone who might have read this one before.

    We were once contacted by a festival in Beirut who wanted to book our large pig. I told the promoter that as Lebanon had a large Muslim population a show with a pig might not be a good idea. “I hadn’t thought of that …. let me get back to you”.

    He rings back and says ” I’ve contacted a festival in Qatar – we’re both interested in the show but can you turn the pig into a camel.”

    So if you see a large 9m long inflatable pig/camel that would be me beside it.

    • mishari permalink*
      January 30, 2011 7:11 PM

      You’re not wrong, Ed: Simon was slated to take up a position in Russia until the comrades discovered he was a capitalist running dog and revisionist splitter. They said ‘Nyet’ and told him to sling his fucking bourgeois liberal hook. Quite right, too…

      As I said earlier, the appointment of Omar Suleiman as Vice-President must be Mubarak’s idea of black humour.

      Mubarak’s allegation that these demonstrations and arson – this combination was a theme of his speech refusing to leave Egypt – were part of a “sinister plan” is clearly at the centre of his claim to continued world recognition. Indeed, Obama’s own response – about the need for reforms and an end to such violence – was an exact copy of all the lies Mubarak has been using to defend his regime for three decades. It was deeply amusing to Egyptians that Obama – in Cairo itself, after his election – had urged Arabs to grasp freedom and democracy.

      These aspirations disappeared entirely when he gave his tacit if uncomfortable support to the Egyptian president on Friday. The problem is the usual one: the lines of power and the lines of morality in Washington fail to intersect when US presidents have to deal with the Middle East. Moral leadership in America ceases to exist when the Arab and Israeli worlds have to be confronted.

      In the pantomime world of Mubarak himself – and of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Washington – the man who still claims to be president of Egypt swore in the most preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to soften the fury of the protesters – Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s chief negotiator with Israel and his senior intelligence officer, a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit. How this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is beyond imagination. When I told the demonstrators on the tanks around me the news of Suleiman’s appointment, they burst into laughter.

      Their crews, in battledress and smiling and in some cases clapping their hands, made no attempt to wipe off the graffiti that the crowds had spray-painted on their tanks. “Mubarak Out – Get Out”, and “Your regime is over, Mubarak” have now been plastered on almost every Egyptian tank on the streets of Cairo. Earlier, I had walked beside a convoy of tanks near the suburb of Garden City as crowds scrambled on to the machines to hand oranges to the crews, applauding them as Egyptian patriots. However crazed Mubarak’s choice of vice-president and his gradual appointment of a powerless new government of cronies, the streets of Cairo proved what the United States and EU leaders have simply failed to grasp. It is over.–Robert Fisk, The Indy, today

  52. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2011 10:29 PM

    I have to apologise on the Egyptian women: I saw loads of them on the streets on C4 news. I wonder if the democratic movement will spread through Jordan to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf?

  53. Reine permalink
    January 31, 2011 11:23 PM

    Tread softly.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 1, 2011 12:11 AM


  54. Captain Ned permalink
    January 31, 2011 11:52 PM

    What amuses me is the sheer brazenness of the pro-Mubarak wretches in the States. The very people who were such ardent lovers of democracy that they argued for its forcible establishment in Iraq, and who derided opponents of their disastrous invasion as supporters of a brutal dictatorship, now claim to be realists who favour the stability of, er, brutal dictatorship. Apparently democracy isn’t suitable for the Arab world after all.

    Even funnier are those wing-nuts who, instead of openly supporting Mubarak, have contented themselves by describing the discomfiture of the Obama administration as a vindication of that noble democratic idealist, George W. Bush, who bravely insisted on the necessity of democratic reform throughout the region. This novel interpretation ignores the whole drift of Bush’s foreign policy while trumpeting a few empty soundbites. The fact that Obama made a speech of similarly waffling insincerity in Cairo also seems to have been forgotten.

    But at least Mike Huckabee had his head screwed when he warned that the situation in Egypt ‘threatens the very existence our children and our future’. Given the dwindling hopes of a Palin presidency, it’s good to know that there still people like Huckabee with their eyes on the White House.

    • Reine permalink
      February 1, 2011 12:08 AM

      And hello again Ned, put last comment in wrong place. Enjoyed your last contribution on the novel. Hope you’re in good form.

    • February 1, 2011 2:01 PM

      Captain Ned I initially read Huckabee’s statement as “threatens the very existence of our children and our furniture”. On reflection my misreading of it makes no less sense than his assessment of what’s happening in Egypt.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 1, 2011 4:38 PM

      He probably deserved to have his head screwed.

    • Captain Ned permalink
      February 1, 2011 6:30 PM

      I think it’s an initiation rite for Republican presidential candidates, Man Broom Wetly. Here’s another of Mike’s sage pronouncements as evidence:

      If in fact the Muslim Brotherhood is underneath much of the unrest every person who breathes ought to be concerned.

      On the political level, that’s the line that several US commentators have taken: that the protests are little more than a sinister plot orchestrated by Egypt’s very own branch of WorldIslamoFascistTerrorismSuperEvilJihad (allied to SPECTRE). On the level of his choice of words… ‘every person who breathes’? Lacking cause to be concerned, I suppose those who aren’t included in that category can breathe easily. But this is a man who once called for AIDS-sufferers to be ‘isolated’ from the rest of society, and who claimed that ‘most’ of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence were clergymen (1 out 56 counts as most, apparently); he is of that special order of cretins from whom so many of America’s political elite are drawn. In the event of serious demonstrations against the regime in Libya, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the same blowhards who fulminated against al-Megrahi’s release are suddenly converted into Gaddafi cheerleaders, such is their ethical agility.

      Cheers, Reine. Good stuff with ‘Greenhorn’ and ‘Exposure’. Contributions to the novel have been a bit sporadic so far, compared with the previous, more spontaneous effort. Our prince goes to all the trouble of creating an outlet for our creative impulses, and we can’t seem to be bothered. Or perhaps everyone is slaving diligently away, not wishing to commit anything unless it attains perfection.

  55. mishari permalink*
    February 1, 2011 6:48 PM

    Breakfast: the smart way to start the day–headline in The Independent, today

    As opposed to ‘Dinner: the stupid way to start the day‘. Thank God for hard-hitting journalism. I won’t be eating any more roast pheasant first thing in the morning…

  56. mishari permalink*
    February 1, 2011 9:00 PM

    This just in from Pie Face Cameron’s ‘Big Society:

    The man appointed by the prime minister to kickstart a revolution in citizen activism is to scale back his hours after discovering that working for free three days a week is incompatible with “having a life”.

    Lord Wei of Shoreditch, who was given a Tory peerage last year and a desk in the Cabinet Office as the “big society tsar”, is to reduce his hours on the project from three days a week to two, to allow him to see his family more and to take on other jobs to pay the bills.

    Wei has told friends he is cutting his hours to allow him to earn more money and “have more of a life”. He originally worked three full days a week and will now work two days, with the hours split over three, while taking on more non-executive directorships with private companies.

    Much of Wei’s work has focused on how to free ordinary people from the daily grind to give them more time to do voluntary work and involve themselves in their communities under the big society plans. Other unpaid coalition advisers include Lord Heseltine and the “digital champion” Martha Lane Fox – both millionaires.–The Grauniad, today

    Welcome to The Big Society (© Camacleggacretin Prod.), otherwise known as:

  57. February 1, 2011 9:39 PM

    The big society?

  58. mishari permalink*
    February 1, 2011 9:59 PM

    Camaclegg’s theme song:

  59. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 1, 2011 10:29 PM

    Yes, pheasant is a little too heavy for breakfast, and of course you’re still chewing it at lunchtime. A sparrow or robin is about right. If time is limited a small bird can be shoved in the mouth and consumed in the car. My preference is for a soused herring. Everyone you speak to during the day will appreciate that scent of the sea.

  60. mishari permalink*
    February 1, 2011 10:48 PM

    I find that my Gorgonzola, sardine and garlic compote gives me that early morning boost. Oddly, the people I meet throughout the ensuing day seem strangely apathetic–almost strained-looking, as if they were holding their breath or something.

    I always commend them to my Gorgonzola, sardine and garlic compote and it’s touching to see them hurry away in their eagerness to get home and try it. Some of them show a burst of speed quite remarkable in elderly persons and the young rocket off like Olympic sprinters going for gold. All very gratifying, I must say…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 1, 2011 11:05 PM

      Difficult for me as a child, the only one who had sardine sandwiches [samwidges] for lunch, that or chicken liver, or a sort of stodgy sharp unspreadable cheese from a crock.
      The other children happily traded lunch delicacies, but never with me. Troubled child, the experience probably accounts for all my vices I haven’t reported this week.
      Liverwurst [liverwoost] that was the other one. I was the lunchroom untouchable.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 1, 2011 11:26 PM

      You must have had some lonely afternoons, hic.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 1, 2011 11:32 PM

      No, the boys in the neighbourhood liked me because I was fearless. It was at school that I remember being odd.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 2, 2011 12:04 AM

      I meant the perfume of those savoury accompaniments does tend to cling to one’s person after luncheon. You could always tell who had taken the marmite option at school. They only chose it once. The acceptable alternatives were sick sandwiches (sandwich spread) or penis butter. Both vile, but relatively odour-free.

  61. reine permalink
    February 1, 2011 11:10 PM

    Oh good God, just in from the pub celebrating the end of the 30th Dáil … nothing but beer has passed my lips these past hours and I am confronted with gorgonzola, sardine, garlic and pheasant. Excuse me for a few moments…

    Nothing much to celebrate really. On the horns of a dilemma now as to who to vote for. You think Cameron/Clegg and the Milibands are bad?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 1, 2011 11:28 PM

      At least we won’t have a dilemma. They’re all hopeless.

  62. reine permalink
    February 1, 2011 11:11 PM

    Thankfully, I missed your report in the nick of time Hic. A hang sangwidge was as exotic as it ever got for us.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 1, 2011 11:30 PM

      Urrh, you’ve reminded me of another one: devilled ham, on weird homemade bread of course. Add to this my hair colour similar only to mean Mary Claire O’~~~~’s, freckles, and ‘talking funny’, and I sat alone.
      Thankfully, events have calmed down here, so I’m catching up…
      Big doings for Simon and Moon. The ‘Stowaway’ concurrence is wonder-ful.
      I did once know of Qatar, because I read an archaeological book about Bahrain when I was stuck for reading material on holiday 20-odd yrs ago, all about burial skeps and potsherds, but somehow interesting.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 2, 2011 1:05 AM

      …and in preserved meats-related news:

      In 2007, following a crackdown on illicit cured meats by the New York City Health Department…–from an article in The New York Times, today

      Tough on illicit cured meats, tough on the causes of illicit cured meats. There’s probably a TV show in there somewhere…y’know, like CSI…but with more food.

    • Reine permalink
      February 2, 2011 8:43 AM

      CSI Salami.

    • February 2, 2011 9:39 AM

      Is there a more horrible combination of words than mechanically recovered meat?

      I remember watching Roseanne in the 90’s and wincing ( in my fey once metropolitan way ) at the very idea of the loose meat sandwiches they set up a shop to sell.

  63. February 1, 2011 11:15 PM

    Watching the intrepid coverage of world-altering events as they’ve unfolded, this week, I remembered the equally riveting coverage, long ago, of events which, in many ways, foreshadowed these… (watch the first 2 minutes, then go to the 7:00 mark)…

  64. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2011 1:53 AM

    Doubtless, you were reading about the Dilmun culture, hic. The theory is that they were Phoenicians; they primarily settled Bahrain but they also settled Kuwait (or the island just off the coast, Failaka). The idea is that they were trading with India and China and decided to set up entrepots closer to those places than their home in what is present-day Lebanon (also the reason they settled North Africa and became the Carthaginians, i.e. trade with Britain, Ireland and the Scandinavia).

  65. hic8ubique permalink
    February 2, 2011 2:59 AM

    You’ve probably divined that my education in the history of your native region is embarrassingly patchy, but I do remember that in the book there were excavations of constructed settlements as well. ‘Dilmun’ does ring a bell. My lasting impression is of vast desert and not much interrupting it.
    I have similar scattershot recall of Phoenicians; biremes (sp?), murex dye, and the cedars of Lebanon~Phoenicians having been of a generally more congenial character than Assyrians.
    Sketchy Euro-centric perspective.

  66. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2011 8:59 AM

    …and for the final seal on Mubarak’s coffin:

    Tony Blair has described Hosni Mubarak, the beleaguered Egyptian leader, as “immensely courageous and a force for good”–The Grauniad, today

    Like getting the thumbs-up from Jack The Ripper.

  67. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2011 10:13 AM

    CSI: Salami made me LOL (as we interwebz hipsters are wont to say)…

    At least, Ed, ‘mechanically recovered meat’ sounds just as vile as it is. It’s the more euphemistic descriptions we need to fear…

    Ed Taylor’s All-Natural Frankfurters Pure 100% ‘Non Vital-Organ Meat’
    (i.e. foreskins, hooves, anuses, tonsils and nipples…). You’ll be the death of us, Ed…

  68. February 2, 2011 10:30 AM

    You missed out the eyelids which give Ed Taylor’s All-Natural Frankfurters their Frankfurterish taste.

    All this talk of food. Can I assume you’re off the fasting? If so how do you reintroduce food into your life?

    Could Ed Taylor’s All-Natural Frankfurters play a part in your new diet? If so you know my email address. They also have toe-nails in them for roughage.

  69. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:40 AM

    Reader, this boneyard may deprave
    For here is Prince Mishari’s grave,
    His taste was for unnatural vice
    He really wasn’t very nice.

    The substances which he imbibed
    Are slowly leaking from his hide,
    You may notice a certain heat:
    Be careful where you place your feet.

    Although he was a vicious tart,
    His couture was a work of art,
    And since he was always dressed so well,
    This tomb is sponsored by Chanel.

  70. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:45 AM

    Foreskins flashed into my mind when considering some squid rings in Tesco last week. Could be a new venture for Blumenthal.

  71. Reine permalink
    February 2, 2011 12:26 PM

    Foreskin Flash

    Inadvertent poking
    through keyholed pants
    Insistent straining
    While we slow dance
    Too hot for a cowl neck
    In this balmy weather
    But amusing to twiddle
    And soft as a feather

  72. February 2, 2011 1:24 PM

    A friend of mine from Bolton once recounted a story of a man in his local pub who put pennies in his foreskin for charity. 26p was his top limit. The story doesn’t recount who collected the change.

  73. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 2, 2011 1:46 PM

    That is a lot of pennies. Another opportunity I’ve missed out on. Bloody parents.

  74. February 2, 2011 1:52 PM

    Was this charity preventing measure to do with religion?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 2, 2011 4:00 PM

      What, in Gloucestershire? No chance. I think it was fashionable at the time, God knows why.

  75. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2011 2:57 PM

    Just think, MM: if you had a foreskin, you could probably buy a Mars Bar. If I had a foreskin, I’d have a face tattooed on it, done that so when the mouth opens (so to speak), a swollen tongue protrudes. What can I say? I’m a coarse bastard…

    • Reine permalink
      February 2, 2011 3:14 PM

      That’s the LOL repaid then.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 2, 2011 4:04 PM

      Thanks for that image. I’m having toad in the hole later. If I can face it now.

  76. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2011 9:35 PM

    I just heard someone on R3 say that Brighton Rock is Greene’s greatest novel. Thoughts, anyone?

    Excellent lengthy analysis of the life and career of Murdoch in text and video by Adam Curtis (who made The Power of Nightmares, The Century of Self etc). Check it out HERE

    I just listened to two orchestrations of Scarlatti sonatas by Shostakovitch that I’d never heard before. He actually uses a trombone in the second. Fantastic. I know you’re not keen on Scarlatti, MM, but I think even as benighted a bumpkin as yourself would like them.

    Now that he’s unleashed his thugs and secret police it looks like the Egyptian army is going to have to step in and accompany Mubarak to the airport (as they’re doubtless being told by their US paymasters even as we speak).

  77. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:25 PM

    I’ve only managed to finish one Greene novel, The Human Factor, which was OK. Greene apparently disliked it, since the main character’s name begins with C, which was a bad omen for him (Tom McCarthy should make a note). Started and failed with several others. I think I found them hard work – obviously top-notch stuff, but the narration was too winding and soporific and not enough happened. I am an imbecile.

    Shostakovitch or not, it’s still Scarlatti.

  78. hic8ubique permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:32 PM

    Scoring for sackbut would have been limiting, though not so much so now.

    MM, the popularity of circumcision for your generation in England may be accounted for by the hygiene problems of men in the trenches in WW1, and ensuing penile cancer for some of those who survived.
    That was the story given me by the OB who attended my first daughter’s birth.
    By the time my son was born six yrs later, I’d realised I didn’t want to be responsible for removing a functional part of his body without his consent.

  79. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2011 11:44 PM

    You surprise me, MM. I’d have thought Greene would be right up your street. Have you never tried Our Man In Havana or A Gun For Sale or (purely as a terrific entertainment) Travels With My Aunt? If you haven’t tried them, you should.

    hic, as far as I’m aware, penile cancer is extremely rare (compared to, say, testicular cancer). I’ve always been given to understand that circumcision was primarily a matter of hygiene. Obviously, I had no choice and was snipped shortly after birth. I think that MM and my generation were, for the most part, automatically snipped.

    There was a funny scene in Seinfeld were Jerry asks Elaine if she’s ever seen an uncut one. She shakes her head and he says something like: ‘You wouldn’t even know what it was…’

    I think the sackbut is more versatile than you think. I’ve been listening to a Fred Wesley album (played behind James Brown for years, along with Pee Wee Ellis, Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins). The sounds and range he coaxes out of his horn are amazing.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 2, 2011 11:58 PM

      Yes, I should make another effort with Greene. It’s probably twenty years since I cracked one. I’ve got a couple on the shelves.

  80. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:49 PM

    I hadn’t heard of that, hic. I’d vaguely assumed that it was a result of American GIs coming to England during and after the war, since I thought it was a fairly common practice in the US. Not that my parents had hands-on experience, I imagine, but I know they had several very good friends from the local US airbase, two of whom were my godparents. I suppose I should have asked, though it’s a tricky one to bring up at the tea table, ‘I say, Mater, about my, my, ah… er… you know. Thingy.’ Too late now.

  81. hic8ubique permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:59 PM

    Well, that was the excuse the doc gave me for wanting to snip the baby, had she turned out to be a boy.
    A German doc later told me the reason for ‘hygiene’ concerns was because without access to daily washing, the resulting harbouring of (whatever likes a dark moist environment) leads to higher risk of penile cancer. You know, if you happen to get stuck in a trench for a few months and can’t wash…that sort of hygiene problem.
    Hence, no significant risk in civilised … circumstances.

    I wouldn’t say sackbut isn’t versatile (though I can’t play it) but in the earlier part of the 20th C
    before the resurgence of period orchestras it would have been less available and might have been thought to limit programming. I’m only guessing though; maybe Shosti just liked trombone.

  82. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2011 12:16 AM

    Check out funkmeister Fred Wesley:

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 3, 2011 12:48 AM

      Ok here’s one for you.
      My Dad danced me around the room to this sort of thing when I was very small. He’d hold me in one arm and hold out his other thumb for me to hold as if we were ballroom dancing :

    • mishari permalink*
      February 3, 2011 12:54 AM

      Teagarden is an old favourite, hic. A giant of the trombone.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 3, 2011 1:04 AM

      and a great name too

  83. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 3, 2011 12:20 AM

    That sounds a lot more plausible than my theory, hic.

    Anyway, I have to take a scalpel to this discussion and sow it up with the suture of sleep. Sayonara!

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 3, 2011 12:54 AM

      “The radical practice of routinely circumcising babies did not begin until the Cold War era. This institutionalization of what amounted to compulsory circumcision was part of the same movement that pathologized and medicalized birth and actively discouraged breastfeeding. Private-sector, corporate-run hospitals institutionalized routine circumcision without ever consulting the American people. There was no public debate or referendum. It was only in the 1970s that a series of lawsuits forced hospitals to obtain parental consent to perform this contraindicated but highly profitable surgery. Circumcisers responded by inventing new “medical” reasons for circumcision in an attempt to scare parents into consenting.

      Mothering magazine
      The Case Against Circumcision
      Paul M. Fleiss
      Issue 85, Winter 1997

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 3, 2011 11:43 AM

      So it was all about money. I might have guessed. Well, I’m happy that a small part of me was lost in the cause of a new set of golf clubs for Marcus Welby MD. Thank God they had enough balls.

    • Reine permalink
      February 3, 2011 1:46 PM

      I am given to understand circumcision has its merits in the bedroom department in terms of staying power. Having only seen the uncircumcised specimens of husbands one and two (hello Mammy and Daddy), I couldn’t possibly speak from experience.

      *There might be a little lie above.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 3, 2011 11:13 PM

      Well, thirty seconds seems pretty good to me.

    • reine permalink
      February 3, 2011 11:27 PM

      What a kidder you are.

  84. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2011 12:51 AM

    Former Labour MP Jim Devine, accused of submitting false invoices for parliamentary expenses, claimed the cash to clear his overdraft, a court heard yesterday.

    Devine, 57, who represented Livingston in Scotland, is alleged to have submitted five false invoices for cleaning and maintenance work to his London flat, and two false documents to claim for printing leaflets, totalling almost £9,000. But, Southwark crown court in London heard, none of the work was carried out. When confronted Devine tried to blame a secretary who he said was trying to frame him.–The Grauniad, today

    What a gent. After a lifetime of gushing about ‘worker solidarity’, when he gets caught cheating on his expenses, man-of-the-people Devine tries to blame a secretary. Scumbag. I hope they gaol the turncoat son-of-a-bitch.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 3, 2011 11:53 AM

      It was such an obvious lie as well. What an idiot. He should have gone with a conspiracy, or blamed Murdoch. Seems to be working for Sheridan.

  85. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2011 4:38 AM

    More, erm…developments in the exciting world of drooling cretins:

    “In a video for Premium Members of his website, Bill O’Reilly doubled down on his statement that the existence of the tides is definitive evidence that God exists.

    The Fox News host took a lot of heat for claiming that science cannot explain why the tides occur in such a regular fashion when in fact the tides are the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth.

    O’Reilly remains unimpressed”:

    Okay, how did the Moon get there? How’d the Moon get there? Look, you pinheads who attacked me for this, you guys are just desperate. How’d the Moon get there? How’d the Sun get there? How’d it get there? Can you explain that to me? How come we have that and Mars doesn’t have it? Venus doesn’t have it. How come? Why not? How’d it get here?

    hic, I want you to promise me that you’ll never, ever speak to Bill O’Reilly, not even if he comes to your door selling Sarah Palin Brand Moose-Flavoured Cookies®.

    I don’t know what the son-of-a-bitch has but it might be contagious…

  86. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2011 1:59 PM

    I can’t believe that this fellow (who I’m pretty sure is Mowbray’s US cousin) is single. What the hell is wrong with American women?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 3, 2011 3:35 PM

      The kid made me chuckle along as he seemed like a young Dubya, but by the end… scary.
      No doubt a career is waiting for him in American statesmanship.

  87. February 3, 2011 3:25 PM

    (hyperspace communique to Sir M: just now returned from the Greater Hunnish Out There to have my moment of anticipatory glee at your video rot to capitalism-loathing frustration after being notified that UMG has [have?] already greedily, or randomly, blocked the content )

  88. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2011 4:21 PM

    Sorry about that, Steven. I’d forgotten that almost every video I post on utoob is unavailable in Germany (for reasons that elude me: some weird copyright black hole/temporal vortex/kraut-style mind-fuck…schrecklich, nee?).

    Mind you, a proxy server gets around that easily enough…

  89. hic8ubique permalink
    February 3, 2011 4:46 PM

    Here’s a video date: Schrecklich Monostatos.

  90. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 3, 2011 11:25 PM

    Lovely moobs.

    Some total dingbats on the Louis Theroux tour of the illegal settlements. Despite his apparent rationality and intelligence, in a way the Australian chap was the worst – someone who clearly recognised the illogical nature of his position yet persisted with it anyway.

  91. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2011 11:35 PM

    It’s like that old Monty Python sketch, MM…El Mystico, who erects council tower-blocks by hypnosis. An interviewer asks a couple on the 15th floor:

    “We ‘re talking to Mr and Mrs Bert Cheese here at Mystico Point…So, what’s it like living in the figment of another man’s imagination?”

    (The couple so questioned look nonplussed, then worried…and the building starts to totter, whereupon they both cry out hurriedly: “…it’s marvellous, as long as you believe…”

    No decent, intelligent person, approaching the issue in a rational and fair-minded fashion can come to any conclusion except that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is an ongoing crime. So they have to believe. Israel will pay a terrible price for all this, eventually.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 3, 2011 11:56 PM

      Yes. Quite odd seeing the Israeli soldiers throwing the stones back at the villagers. Clearly a highly-disciplined force.

  92. mishari permalink*
    February 4, 2011 12:10 AM

    I was walking Honey earlier and although it was pretty breezy out, it was nothing remarkable. Then out of nowhere, there was this sudden gust that must have hit 80 MPH. It blew an elderly lady over: literally.

    I crossed the street to help her up and make sure she was alright and she was laughing, bless ‘er. “Bloody wind…I thought I’d been mugged…”.

  93. mishari permalink*
    February 4, 2011 12:18 AM

    MM, the Israeli Defence Force are an ill-disciplined rabble. They’ve spent 35 years shooting civilians, primarily women and children (this is not hyperbole: the figures, collated by Israeli civil liberties organisations, are irrefutable).

    The most recent example of Israeli strategic brilliance was to shoot a bunch of unarmed nationals of their closest ally in the region (Turkey).

    The last time they fought a well-armed and disciplined force (Hizbollah in Lebanon), they had their arses handed to them to such an extent that the IDF conducted an inquiry into how the invasion went so wrong.

    On a happier subject, I think this turned out rather well:

  94. mishari permalink*
    February 4, 2011 12:24 AM

    …and you might remember this, MM. They ended Season 2 of The Wire with it:

  95. mishari permalink*
    February 4, 2011 12:28 AM

    …and this track deserves to be better known:

  96. mishari permalink*
    February 4, 2011 12:29 AM

    …as does this one:

  97. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 4, 2011 12:53 AM

    Christ, it’s an aural bombardment. I’ll have to listen to them tomorrow.

    For now ’tis time for these buttocks to meet
    The chilly embrace of the bottom sheet,
    And the other side with trembling dismay
    Meet the snow-field of the flow’ry duvet.

    Pope, Essay On Man, l. 234-238

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 4, 2011 3:57 AM

      Alas what wonder! Mowbray’s superior part
      Uncheck’d may rise and climb from art to flow’ry art;
      But when his great tumescence is begun,
      What flannel weaves, by gingham is undone?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 4, 2011 4:31 PM

      That’s a bit fruity, Alex.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 5, 2011 2:28 PM

      Low-hanging fruit
      peaches or plum
      proffered so roundly
      I must succumb.

  98. mishari permalink*
    February 4, 2011 1:09 AM

    Pope had a duvet? Clearly a man well ahead of his time…yes, you’d best get to bed, grandpa. A bit of rock ‘n roll might blow the batteries on your hearing-aid…

Comments are closed.