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And We’ll Have Fun, Fun, Fun…

February 11, 2011

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California, the department store state. The most of everything and the best of nothing.
Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister

There is no ‘there’ thereGertrude Stein


California dreamin’ has turned into a nightmare. That’s the conclusion you reach after reading Forbes Magazine’s 2011 guide to “America’s Most Miserable Cities,”.

Taking into account a range of factors used to measure quality of life, from crime rates, to unemployment figures, to commute times, taxes and the numbers of homes which are in foreclosure, the magazine ranked every one of the country’s hundreds of metropolitan areas that has a population of over 249,000.

When they did the math, cities in California occupied an astonishing four of the bottom five (and eight of the bottom 20) places on their misery list.

“Good vibes are a distant memory. The state has a crippling checklist of problems including massive budget deficits, high unemployment, plunging home prices, rampant crime and sky-high taxes.

Roughly 12.5 per cent of residents are unemployed, property values have in places declined by two-thirds from their 2008 peaks, and 500,000 homes are in foreclosure.”

The reasons are too complex to go into here (although Mike Davis’ superb book on L.A. ‘the dystopia of advanced capitalism’, City of Quartz, contains a wealth of useful pointers).

Some us have been to California; some us have even lived there. But even if you’ve done neither, California–the idea of California, in its wealth and beauty, its lush and seemingly endless variety–was impossible to ignore.

We saw it in films, on TV, read about it in books, in magazines and, of course, we heard about it in music. As the great Randy Newman put it:

Rollin’ down Imperial Highway
With a big nasty redhead at my side
Santa Ana winds blowin’ hot from the north
And we was born to ride
Roll down the window, put down the top
Crank up the Beach Boys, baby
Don’t let the music stop
We’re gonna ride it ’til we just can’t ride it no more
From the South Bay to the Valley
From the West Side to the East Side
Everybody’s very happy
‘Cause the sun is shining all the time
Looks like another perfect day
I love L.A. (We love it)
I love L.A. (We love it)
We love it

Look at that mountain
Look at those trees
Look at that bum over there, man
He’s down on his knees
Look at these women
There ain’t nothin’ like em nowhere
Century Boulevard (We love it)
Victory Boulevard (We love it)
Santa Monica Boulevard (We love it)
Sixth Street (We love it, we love it, we love it)
We love L.A.–Randy Newman, I Love L.A.

…but the state is bankrupt (that’s what happens when you allow people to vote on every single tax: guess what? They vote not to pay), San Francisco sits on a fault in the earth’s crust that will one day pitch the whole city into the sea and southern California, essentially a vast desert, only exists because of the Colorado River Aqueduct. Half the state goes up in flames if you light a cigarette and the other half slides down the hilltops into the valley below whenever it rains. Times, as Señor Zimmerman once remarked, are a’changin’.

There was always, inevitably, a seedy, ugly, dark underbelly to all that ‘fun in the sun’ bullshit. Chronicled by writers like Raymond Chandler, Charles Bukowski, T.C. Boyle and our friend, the poet Tom Clark; by film-makers too numerous to mention and by musicians like Merle Haggard (an ex-con from Bakersfield), Randy Newman, Tom Waits and The Dead Kennedys.

But all the ugliness and cruelty, the essential vapidity and meaninglessness, all that greed and all those empty smiles that served to hide overweening ambition and a callous disregard for fellow human beings–all of it seemed to be somehow sanitised by the sunshine and the laid back ‘good life’. No longer.

So finish that fish taco, wax your board, slip into that wet-suit (black only, please: day-glo colours are strictly for farmers), touch up those sun-streaks in your hair and let’s paddle out to the break and catch a verse wave: the subject is California.

600 Comments
  1. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    February 11, 2011 8:27 PM

    El Calor del Sol

    The temperature is t-shirt warm
    The sun wears a permanent smile
    And KJJZ wafts you down to the sea
    In your car: Coltrane or Miles

    The Pacific’s planetary pull
    Is a potent USP
    And with business won, the convention done
    I could use some TLC

    So I park behind the cypress trees
    Leave my Lexus in the shade
    Of a mighty fine Ponderosa pine
    Where the Hertz badge won’t be made

    I espy a cute brunette in shorts
    By the Baskin Robbins stand
    So I slowly strip, take a lazy dip
    And return to take her hand

    She entices me down an alleyway
    Where I’m not blind to her charms
    But to my dismay, my gold LFA
    Triggers all of my alarms

    I sprint like a fox to the parking lot
    And it’s obvious at a glance
    That my Latin looker was a hustling hooker
    With an eye to the main chance

    With a hollow laugh, the collected staff
    Of some sleazy beach cantina
    Set their blades aflash; I reverse and dash
    For the haven of the marina

    My last memory is the symmetry
    Of their bloodstained Pendletons
    Only mad dogs and Englishmen
    Go out in the midday sun

  2. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 11, 2011 11:14 PM

    California Split

    Oh my God, how can you even think that?
    No, it wasn’t about him being gay,
    I’m bi myself, so that would be quite OK,
    yes, he did have some excess body fat,

    which my strict macrobiotic diet
    absolutely enabled him to lose,
    and we dealt with his emotional issues
    using this zircon crystal. Here, try it.

    He was a Scorpio, which is good for me,
    and everything seemed to be going great,
    my analyst thought we had a synergy,
    it was, like, totally ordained by fate.

    Then I caught him doing it in the bathroom
    when we were vacationing with his folks,

    and had to realign my expectations:
    I just can’t be around someone who smokes.

  3. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 11, 2011 11:26 PM

    Nice one, HLM, and good to read you again.

    I could be on shaky ground here since I’ve already been chastised for my ignorance of the American way of life, which is total. Sorry.

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      February 12, 2011 7:27 AM

      Backatcha, MM. Looking forward to becoming your neighbour. Our new HSH is about 200 yards from the southern marina in Lymington. Feel free to drop in for a cuppa.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 12, 2011 11:21 PM

      Thanks for the invitation, HLM. I’ll bear it in mind. I hope you’ve got your yellow wellies.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 12, 2011 11:36 PM

      Are yellow wellies the vuvuzela of your region?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 12, 2011 11:45 PM

      All the yachties wear them, along with their, wait for it, Henri Lloyd jackets, sweatshirts etc.

  4. February 12, 2011 1:01 AM

    Ah, California… land of my birth! Amazing weather; never saw so many Aryan teens driving luxury convertibles in your life. Free fruit off everyone’s citrus trees ; hummingbirds, flat bellies and calla lilies common as dirt… blue skies and 70 degrees F. most of the year… a Nazi, a drug-dealer or a serial killers lurking behind every McDonald’s (my last attempt to live in So Cal, I arrived in San Diego just in time for the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide *and* Andrew Cunanan). Even worse: most of the Mexican food there is crap (the good stuff having migrated to the Midwest or Brooklyn). I will read these poems for unusually personal reasons…

    Oh, and, meanwhile: tonight’s nightmare delivery is a mild one:

    http://www.geekologie.com/2009/07/ibum_chair_ladies_please_have.php

  5. February 12, 2011 10:24 AM

    The Terminator hangs up his coat

    Back to film-making my job here is finished
    The state of the place pretty much diminished.
    My inabilities cloaked by celebrity gloss
    Telling financial girly-men “I am the boss”
    My zippy one-liners dreamt up by committees
    I wanted LA to be the king of all cities.
    As I go I won’t cry, I can’t shed a tear
    Now I’m done there really is no here here.

  6. hic8ubique permalink
    February 12, 2011 9:07 PM

    I’ve spruced up an old one a bit, in the good PH tradition. Best I can manage for the moment…

    Red-beard ’07

    My father grew a beard once
    on a visit to Uncle Rusty’s wild Alaska.
    Why had he shaved it off?
    “Because it came in red”.
    “But what’s so bad about that, Papa?”
    I never asked, “my hair is red”
    never wondered so acutely,
    just absorbed the recessive message.

    The dog lapping up droplets
    of blood off the floor
    from my finger cut rummaging
    into a dark recycling-bin
    gets the code uncomprehending,
    inwardly turning it over.
    A child digests bias as slight windfall
    naturally, every angle is skewed.

    My grown son has grown a new beard.
    It veers straight-razored along the margin of
    his mandible, like the state of California,
    a phone flipped open, a hang-glider.
    I admire him openly,
    remembering, secretly pleased
    it has come in red.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 12, 2011 11:42 PM

      Very good. I like the jaw-line comparisons, and I’m glad to hear your son is barbigerous. Not so keen on the dog licking up the blood.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 12, 2011 11:55 PM

      Thanks, Vicar; I value your opinion.
      They do that though, dogs, but I won’t go into insalubrious anecdotes for fear of disconcerting you.
      I wanted ‘shaven’, but it seemed stilted, especially from the child’s-eye-view.
      ‘Barbigerous’ is pleasing and reminds me of this…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 13, 2011 12:37 AM

      Yes, I like a bit of G&S. Pinafore is my personal favourite.

      For he himself has said it
      And it’s greatly to his credit
      That he is an Englishman,
      He remains an Englishman.
      But now his body tires,
      And before his heart expires,
      He must head off to his bed,
      He must head off to his be-heh-heh-heh-heh-hed!

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 13, 2011 12:41 AM

      Sleep tight, you soaring soul you.

  7. hic8ubique permalink
    February 12, 2011 11:44 PM

    Not ‘total’, just patchy, MM, like the rest of us (except perhaps Mishari). I hope you didn’t feel chastised by me of all people.
    ‘More salad bowl than melting pot’ is a description I’ve heard, which belies most media representations of the US.
    (I don’t say America because by rights that should include much more terrain.)
    We went to see The Social Network last night, which was surprisingly worthwhile and gives a glimpse of ‘my’ Cambridge, 45minutes away.

    We aren’t really in the ‘heart of the beast’ as ET imagines, here. I don’t think I could endure that. This little cape, the oldest port in the US, is an interesting place (but I do accept that you won’t be venturing forth!) We have distinct Sicilian and Portuguese fishing communities who celebrate their traditional festivals, the vestiges of a Finnish community who quarried granite here in the early 1900’s, new Brasilian and Mexican arrivals, as well as the wasp stalwarts.
    (This was once a summer resort of Boston’s brahmins). Winslow Homer and FHLane painted here and Cape Ann is still known as an artist colony.
    The girl who cut my hair last week (the chattiest experience) told me she is Lebanese. Her grandfather came here, opened a coffee shop still run by her uncle, which serves the local Lebanese community.They offer a monthly traditional Lebanese dinner. I’d forgotten there was a Lebanese community!
    Immigrant families especially tend to maintain ‘old country’ traditions, for example folk dances that were lost in Sweden have been recovered because they were still in use in Minnesota.
    Of course the pop culture is omnipresent, but I tend to learn of it through my kids rather than imbibe it unfiltered.

    Oddly enough, the opportunity to abstain from American commercial culture may be more available here than in the UK, because there’s just more space to opt out and head for the woods if one so chooses.There are plenty of folk here on Cape Ann who shop at their village grocers and never go ‘over the bridge’.

  8. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 13, 2011 12:17 AM

    I’m surprised to hear there are so many cultural groups gathered there: I suppose it’s the sea (didn’t make much difference to the IOW). I see your area through a Melville/Lowell fog, those names so closely associated with whaling and cod fishing on the Banks.

    I must say I find all that avoidable stuff quite interesting: last week vajazzling, this week flesh corsetting, the variety of human follies is fascinating.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 13, 2011 12:39 AM

      I’ve avoided ‘vajazzling’ so successfully that you are the one to introduce the idea. [Okay, done with that now.] Flesh-corsetting… in the whalebone sense?

      You’ve got the local picture; yellow wellies would be far too Gorton’s Fisherman (proletarian) for the yachties hereabouts. Sperry Top-sider is de rigueur, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end &c…

  9. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 13, 2011 2:06 PM

    Never heard of Sperry top-sider. Sounds like a Somerset product. Helly Hansen used to be big round here, but seems to have fallen out of favour.

    Skimming the Self article in the G on the Coen brothers I see that I’ve confused True Grit with The Green Berets. Easily done. Will seems to have quite a bee in his bonnet about high/middle/lowbrow; one has the feeling that he puts himself in the first category. I must say I’ve never found his writing particularly interesting, but then I’m probably lower-middlebrow.

  10. February 13, 2011 2:19 PM

    I’ve performed in New Haven, Stamford and New London 10 years ago so know the area a little. Genuine ( as opposed to the ballroom variety ) latin music in the UK is usually the preserve of jazz/world music fans or percussionist nerds so it was great to see the Puerto-Rican crowds show up for a huge salsa concert on New Haven green, treating it like a pop concert.

    Seeing Yomo Toro ( Puerto-Rican guitarist ) play a salsa version of Hava Nagila was definitely a Close Encounter of the Third Kind.

  11. mishari permalink*
    February 13, 2011 3:06 PM

    I’ve never rated Self as a writer and the few books of his that I attempted, I gave up on after about 50 pages. Too much devotion to early-Amis-like verbal pyrotechnics and too little devotion to telling you something you felt you wanted to know.

    You surprise me, MM…I’d have thought ‘vajazzling’ (a phenomenon invented out of thin air by the ever-more-desperate-to-be-controversial Bidisha) was right up your street. A tasteful cock-ring with a fake gold sovereign embedded in it: farkin’ lahvly, mate.

    • February 13, 2011 4:26 PM

      “I’ve never rated Self as a writer and the few books of his that I attempted, I gave up on after about 50 pages…”

      50 pages in seems to be the magic distance; that’s about where I stopped in the last Self effort I wasted my sock money on (The Butt). The over-description gene descends through Thesaurans Nabokov, Amis and Self in diminishing puddles of talent

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 13, 2011 8:56 PM

      I got an English Heritage Prince Albert at Osborne House. They do a miniature version if you’re interested. I noticed vajazzling on ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ a few weeks ago. I couldn’t bear to watch it, but I’m told the results were exceptionally… tasteful.

  12. mishari permalink*
    February 13, 2011 5:37 PM

    The over-description gene descends through Thesaurans Nabokov, Amis and Self in diminishing puddles of talent.

    Nicely put, Steven…and right on the money.

  13. February 13, 2011 7:42 PM

    I’ve liked one short story by Self but otherwise they promise far more than they deliver.

    Just been to see True Grit – a good film I thought. Not earth-shattering but it packed a punch. Self was well wide of the mark with his assessment on that one but I think he’s going for ye olde contrariane positione on the Coens

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 13, 2011 9:18 PM

    ‘This capacity the Coens had to flirt with genre rather than ever wholly embracing it is something that – until someone like me comes along to tell you otherwise – people find particularly engaging. It enables the upper-middlebrow viewer to enjoy films like Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski at two distinct levels…’

    Fuck off is my critical response to that.

  15. mishari permalink*
    February 13, 2011 9:50 PM

    Miniature version? You cheeky cunt. My response to Self mirrors yours. I noted a few years ago that the unimaginative fucker even stole Iain Sinclair’s ‘psycho-geographer’ shtick….pffffft…

    • February 14, 2011 10:29 AM

      I’m not defending Self in the least but Psycho-geography was a term invented by Guy Debord of the Situationists long before Iain Sinclair.

      In saying that I think we have a different puddle of talent theory here . Sinclair is the more readable but Debord was the ground-breaker. Whatever Self is bottom of that list of puddles too.

      I like True Grit more this morning than I did last night – the whole ending from the midnight hell for leather horse-ride onwards is very strong.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 14, 2011 12:26 PM

      I should have been more specific, Ed: Self stole it from Sinclair. He admitted as much (in a roundabout way) in an interview I heard on the radio a few years ago. Debord, of course, stole the concept from Baudelaire’s flâneur…

      “The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world – impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define.

      The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito. The lover of life makes the whole world his family, just like the lover of the fair sex who builds up his family from all the beautiful women that he has ever found, or that are or are not – to be found; or the lover of pictures who lives in a magical society of dreams painted on canvas.

      Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy. Or we might liken him to a mirror as vast as the crowd itself; or to a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness, responding to each one of its movements and reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life…any man who can yet be bored in the heart of the multitude is blockhead? a blockhead? and I despise him!

      …And so away he goes, hurrying, searching. But searching for what? Be very sure that this man, such as I have depicted him – this solitary, gifted with an active imagination, ceaselessly journeying across the great human desert – has an aim loftier than that of a mere flâneur, an aim more general, something other than the fugitive pleasure of circumstance.

      He is looking for that quality which you must allow me to call ‘modernity’; for I now of no better word to express the idea I have in mind. He makes it his business to extract from fashion whatever element it may contain of poetry within history, to distill the eternal from the transitory. ” —essay in Le Figaro, in 1863.

    • February 14, 2011 12:41 PM

      I wonder if Baudelaire was to be seen wandering about the Peripherique?

      Sinclair’s wandering about Manchester at the moment apparently.

      Do you have Skype on your computer? We still can’t get sound out of the speakers and the latest prognosis from One Who Knows is that a recent connection to Skype has scuppered the computer’s sense of what is right.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 14, 2011 2:07 PM

      It’s funny how relaxed the literary world seemed to be about the similarities between Self’s ‘Book Of Dave’ and ‘Riddley Walker’.

  16. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 14, 2011 12:02 AM

    Meant to ask if you could make that ‘issues’ in line 7 of my verse above, Ed. Thanks.

    Reine’s usually in quickly. I’m shocked. Having a bit of a tussle with my current effort. I came across this translator into Valley-speak while searching for inspiration. It’s not much cop.

    http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/jbc/home/chef.html

  17. hic8ubique permalink
    February 14, 2011 4:54 AM

    I expect Reine is busy observing the rites of St Valentine. Certainly too busy to engage in the topic of genital mutilation again so soon.
    I’d say ‘issues’ is indeed better in your poem, MM. (I suspect Bidisha is working hers out in public view under a flimsy pretense of addressing societal phenomena.)

    ET, I never realised you were a fan of Salsa. I was at my workshop today, just happened to fall in with a great teacher over a yr ago, and I can’t stop, incredibly fun. The Latin scene is broadly multicultural in Cambridge, more so than anything else I can think of.

    • Reine permalink
      February 14, 2011 11:25 AM

      Sadly, I am not away on a romantic weekend down Italy way. I am visiting the family, looking out at a snow-capped Croagh Patrick (locally,”the Reek”) as I type. I tried in vain on Friday night to squeeze out a poem on matters Californian.

      MM, you could not be as shocked as I was by your reference to vajazzling.

      Happy Valentine’s Day all, especially… you know who you are! xx

      I expect HI to greet me at the station later today with either (a) an armful of roses or (b) tales of traffic congestion on the N4.

  18. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 14, 2011 1:56 PM

    California is a testing subject, Reine. I’m not sure why, since the echoes of its culture have formed the background to most of my life. Still struggling with my current effort.

    Despite actually buying a card and chocolate-covered marzipan (Mrs M’s choice confection), I forgot all about St V’s day until I woke up sweating from a nightmare at 4.30 this morning. Then I had to steal downstairs and manufacture a quick verse from my aching brain. It was even worse than my usual stuff.

  19. February 14, 2011 2:15 PM

    MM I hope the romantic verse didn’t involve you killing your labrador.

    Luckily for me a drawing came to the rescue. One of my PP poems in the book was a Valentine – albeit written several weeks too late. It’s the only one I can bear to read.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 14, 2011 3:28 PM

      You must be clairvoyant, ET.

      My love for you is much sweeter
      Than the first unfurling rosebud:
      More precious to me than a litre
      Of freshly-squeezed Labrador blood.

    • February 14, 2011 3:34 PM

      He shoots he scores!

  20. hic8ubique permalink
    February 14, 2011 2:27 PM

    “Still struggling with my current effort.”

    Chill, Dude. Just post it; it’s all good.
    Can we grok that?

    I’m not digging this stress vibe around showing the love today.

    • Reine permalink
      February 14, 2011 9:35 PM

      Love is… a roadworks update, steak dinner and a robust Gigondas.

      Happy Valliers Hic. You never stress me. x

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 14, 2011 10:05 PM

      … not to omit ‘an occasional tumble’ as celebrated by that master of the love poem, our dear host.
      No indeed.

      Untitled (Venice) is an inspired treat. Especially chewy: ‘boredom threshold gnawed’.

      Re, most Romantic friend, a beautiful rose-tinted evening to you and your fierce aequiline Gael. xx

    • Reine permalink
      February 14, 2011 10:27 PM

      What poem do you speak of Hic? Would Mish re-post for the day that’s in it?

      Thanks for your kind words but I am afraid you are all far more knowledgeable and erudite on Californian capers than I am.

      Did you really write a love verse MM? What a true romantic.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 15, 2011 12:00 AM

      ‘On My Sleeping Wife, Who Makes Men Clumsy’
      It’s in the book… the stuff of legend
      in my book.
      I’ve heard it said that having a good story of meeting is predictive of a long-lasting marriage.
      Having a good story plus a commemorative poem must ace it.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 15, 2011 12:25 AM

      Roses are red
      Violets are blue
      Someone loves you
      I wonder who?

      Well, it was 4am.

  21. mishari permalink*
    February 14, 2011 2:32 PM

    Yeah…kick back, homes…it’ll be a toadly awesome pome, I’m suuurrre…hey! Surf’s up! Gotta slide…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 14, 2011 3:15 PM

      Have you been drinking at luncheon again?

  22. February 14, 2011 2:58 PM

    rad

    • Reine permalink
      February 14, 2011 8:43 PM

      ical
      iator
      iant
      ioactive
      ish
      ial

  23. mishari permalink*
    February 14, 2011 3:21 PM

    The only meal I don’t drink at is breakfast…well…not usually

  24. Reine permalink
    February 14, 2011 6:39 PM

    Untitled

    He told me he was taking me to Venice
    And my tired heart sputtered
    I conjured the carnivale, dreamy days in Dorsoduro
    That heavenly Quintarelli amarone
    And the five hour lunch in the Metropole
    That ended in bed

    And here I am
    Downtown California
    Eating organic oats washed down with a spinach and spirulina shake
    Having my boredom threshold gnawed away by tales of yoga positions
    And the latest awesome installation in Culver City –
    Pimp my Vagina –
    Dazzling vajazzling, to be sure

    He’s on a book tour and, chameleon-like,
    Has morphed from a Guinness-guzzling grumbler
    Into a Gaelic prophet
    Peddling Californian dreams
    Dear Jesus, let Manny at the hotel have scored me some dirty m
    Lest I succumb to death (from boredom) in Venice

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 14, 2011 11:29 PM

      Totally awesome, dudette. Dazzling vajazzling: two words that were made for each other.

    • Reine permalink
      February 15, 2011 9:19 PM

      Mishari, please kind sir, I meant “scored” not “secured” in second last line if you’d be so kind when you get a chance… R

  25. February 14, 2011 8:42 PM

    Bring the children please don’t be late
    We’re doing a version of Heaven’s Gate
    Not the Cimino film which failed to ignite
    The public’s interest night after night
    But a chance to blissfully commune together
    Free of society’s restrictive tether.

    We’ll supply the bedding we’ve got a fruit drink
    To write your thoughts both paper and ink.
    Don’t forget those kids it’ll be like a party
    With purple party dress the atmosphere’s hearty.
    The outside world is on the skids
    Come and join us don’t forget those kids.
    Our progress here is cumbersome and slow
    We’ve somewhere far more fruitful to go.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 14, 2011 11:36 PM

      Rev Jim Jones, or a different one? I can hear Vincent Price intoning the last line.

    • February 15, 2011 9:30 AM

      It’s the Heaven’s Gate religious cult who all committed suicide/went to the next level in the cult’s house whilst dressed in purple robes. Earth was but one stop-off in the great journey of life for the founders who managed to convince others that this was the case for them too.

      Like Jim Jones an utterly grim state of affairs. There’s a documentary about Jones which beggars belief.Many of his “disciples” even rumbled his devotion to mind-games and psychological bullying but were in such fragile mental states that they went ahead with the mass die-in anyway.

    • February 15, 2011 10:13 AM

      Later discovered (coroner’s report) that very few had actually taken the cyanide. Most of them were shot! Re: Heaven’s Gate: don’t forget they bought brand new trainers for the “trip” (and Uhuru’s brother was among them; that’s right, *that* Uhuru… from Star Trek)… they were all rather successful computer techies, strangely. The guy who led them to the mothership (that’s a euphemism for the county morgue) first appeared on the pop-cultural radar in the ’70s (I remember reading about him, possibly in Esquire, back then):

      “After Nettles told him that he possessed special astrological attributes, Applewhite declared himself the individual in whose mind was held that of Christ, the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. By 1975 they had begun Total Overcomers Anonymous together, which eventually became Heaven’s Gate.

      In 1975, Applewhite and Nettles convinced 20 people from Waldport, Oregon to join their group. Applewhite told them there would be an alien appearance by means of a UFO, but when the encounter never happened they left the group. However, more people joined and soon the group had 93 members.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Applewhite

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 15, 2011 11:05 AM

      I’ve never heard of the Heaven’s Gate cult. I did see the Jones documentary – it’s hard to imagine how such an obvious shyster got away with it. There’s a lot of desperate people, I suppose.

  26. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 14, 2011 8:59 PM

    Before The Gold Rush

    In burning sun and driving rain
    through summer heat and winter cold
    over field, forest, mountain, plain
    the wagons and their cargo rolled.

    The Lord directed them to go
    through the Forty Mile Desert’s sand
    then to follow the Humboldt’s flow
    to where the High Sierras stand.

    The horses starved, the oxen died
    when every source of food was gone
    they chewed on belts and scraps of hide.
    The wooden wheels turned. They went on.

    When they crossed the mountain passes
    they found their way lay plain and straight
    the Lord made good his promises
    the sun rose on the Golden State.

    • Reine permalink
      February 14, 2011 10:35 PM

      Your rhythm is super in this … I’m getting echoes of Rawhide.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 14, 2011 11:26 PM

      Bit of a Geoffrey Hill rip-off, but there you go. Those early adventurers and their insane journeys by the California Trail etc are fascinating studies.

  27. Reine permalink
    February 14, 2011 11:40 PM

    Well, Geoff’s not a bad one to hitch your wagon to.

  28. hic8ubique permalink
    February 14, 2011 11:49 PM

    Marin

    Incoming eucalyptus, windows down
    we meet at Peet’s, contrive to keep awake
    Whole Foods supplies provisions in the town
    take switchback coastal Highway One ~~ the brake!

    Plunge and swell of deep invaginations
    let us greet old sequoias at the waist
    the landscape drops us to our destination
    communal supper’s taken without haste

    no need for menu veggie provenance
    greens are so fresh they leap from plate to lip
    stroll anised lane to interview the plants
    Zen gardens shimmer; it’s a summer trip

    but should such aromatics fail to please
    there’s always something herbal on the breeze.

    • reine permalink
      February 14, 2011 11:56 PM

      Super duper.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 15, 2011 12:06 AM

      Ta, Love, just a whimsy. Whenever you say ‘super duper’, I think of this:

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 15, 2011 12:22 AM

      That’s gnarly, Betty!

      Anyway, gotta hit that crusher and ride the glass to the beach of sleep. Chow!

  29. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2011 8:27 AM

    Redknapp Vows To Attack MilanGrauniad headline, today

    Ah, Harry…you’re just saying that because you know that all their tanks only have reverse gears.

    Right…that’s my cultural stereotyping done for today…

  30. February 15, 2011 9:33 AM

    Slightly less elegant than Fred

  31. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2011 9:54 AM

    …and slightly less elegant than Frankenstein (‘..that’s ‘Fronkenshteen’…):

  32. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 15, 2011 11:00 AM

    Surfin’ Safari

    Let’s go surfing now
    join the golden horde,
    everybody’s learning how.

    Who cares if you’re lamo,
    just get on that board,
    let’s go surfing now.

    Carving up the wave – kapow!
    you hit that magic chord,
    everybody’s learning how,

    hey, don’t have a cow!
    OK, so you’re not insured –
    let’s go surfing now,

    if you have a freakshow
    just get out your gourd.
    Everybody’s learning how,

    dude, you’ll see it’s mando,
    you’ll be totally awed,
    let’s go surfing now,
    everybody’s learning how.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 15, 2011 11:43 AM

      Dash it, as I’m sure you realised that should have been entitled ‘Surfin’ Safari’. Any chance of a change?

  33. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2011 12:04 PM

    It’s astonishing, isn’t it, Steven? In a way, the Heaven’s Gate loons disturb me far more than Jim Jones and the Guyana cluster-fuck. Jones was a messianic, paranoid, drug and drink addled man with a persecution-complex and his followers tended to be damaged and deluded people, generally poorly educated and easily led.

    The HG mob, on the other hand, baffle me in ways that Jones and the People’s Temple never did. Apparently well-adjusted, highly-educated, tech literate people taken in by such transparently goofy nonsense to the point were they willingly lay down and offed themselves. Jesus…only in California, I guess.

    • February 15, 2011 12:20 PM

      It was the detail of the brand new pre-suicide trainers that always got me, M. Well, that and the castration many of the members (sorry) opted for at their Extraterrestrial Jesus’s super-wise prompting

  34. February 15, 2011 12:23 PM

    I don’t trust anyone who offers fruit cordials.

    Like many of the things I claimed to have “read” or “seen” I can’t find its existence on the web but I’m sure I read a great piece of writing arguing that the rise of serial killers and messianic nut-jobs was the direct and logical development of the hippie/generation me mindset.

    • February 15, 2011 3:00 PM

    • February 15, 2011 3:42 PM

      I was sufficiently disturbed by this to wonder if the woman doing the bachelor-choosing was a victim of Alcala – she declined the date apparently and according to some “expert” in ( I’m guessing ) the Serial-Killerology department of Detroit’s Institute of Murder may have contributed to a further killing spree by doing so.

      There goes my lunch.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 15, 2011 3:53 PM

      “Bachelor No. 1: your date tells you that it isn’t working out and she doesn’t want to see you any more–what do you do?

      “I strangle her with her pantyhose, cut her up with a chainsaw and dump her in the LA River…”

      “Thank you, Bachelor No. 1; Bachelor No. 2: We’re in a restaurant and your pants catch fire…what do you do?” etc etc.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 15, 2011 3:57 PM

      Dude…that is some seriously sick shit.

    • February 15, 2011 4:21 PM

      You’ll be relieved to find out that the bachelorette immediately backed out of the date she’d “won” owing to creepy vibes (even one of the other contestants later said that he found himself instinctively leaning *away* from the feller)

  35. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2011 12:36 PM

    Steven, I guess they wanted to hit the ground (comet, spaceship…whatever) running.

    I’ve read a similar thesis, Ed. It may well be the same one, although I have a feeling it was in print as opposed to on the webz. I’ll try to remember where…care for some Kool-Aid?

  36. February 15, 2011 12:48 PM

    Cheers!

    Is this purple robe an apron to stop me dribbling the fruit punch down my shirt?

    Okay I’ll put it on. By the way this punch has a slighty acrid taste. Are you sure the kiwi-fruits were ripe before you added them?

    ****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

  37. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2011 4:06 PM

    Ed, you may joke, but living in Whitechapel, hardly a fucking day goes by without my tripping over a party of ghouls doing a ‘Jack The Ripper Tour’; 3 of the murders took place yards from my front door.

    These groups are always led by some freak in a cape and top-hat (seriously) who calls himself (and it is always a ‘him’) a ‘Ripperologist’. You couldn’t make this shit up…

  38. February 15, 2011 4:24 PM

    aha, sorry ET, I see I’ve posted without reading your comment (please do not track me down and eviscerate me over this); I’m fairly sure she (the bachelorette) is not on the list of victims but there is still some doubt about dozens more (photos found in his storage locker)

  39. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2011 4:31 PM

    I remember reading somewhere that the FBI reckoned that there were 40 to 50 serial killers at work (work? I dunno…’vocation’ seems wrong, somehow and ‘hobby’ is definitely off) in the US at any given time. Bad news for the victims, great news for Hollywood….(neatly bringing us back to California, which I also read is the go-to state for hobby-killers…nah…’hobby-killers’ just isn’t working for me)

  40. February 15, 2011 4:36 PM

    Am in Whitechapel tomorrow – will keep my eyes peeled.

  41. Reine permalink
    February 15, 2011 9:07 PM

    Caveat Emptor

    Dreams are made and shattered here
    Legs are splayed and flattered here
    The casting couch is made of fickle springs
    Words combine in honeyed salves and stings
    Like Faust, you might sign your soul away
    Tragical and magical hold sway
    The devil’s in the detail
    But if you end up in retail
    The price will have been too high to pay

  42. hic8ubique permalink
    February 15, 2011 9:44 PM

    I probably wouldn’t have looked at Hadley Freeman’s review, except that the NYT Ben Brantley one from last week’s PH was so good…
    He said:
    ‘The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from “How can $65 million look so cheap?” to “How long before I’m out of here?”’

    Hadley agrees…
    ‘These ominous portents are borne out by the production itself, which is baffling in its ineptitude. Never has $65m looked so cheap.’

    Thought that rang a bell.
    I wonder whether she’s reporting from New York, or just giving ‘her’ version of Brantley’s review?

  43. Reine permalink
    February 15, 2011 10:39 PM

    A belated Valentine gift from Amazon … box set of Zen (he does listen). HI might get the part tonight. ha

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 15, 2011 10:57 PM

      Zen in a box?
      Have you a copy of ‘the book’, Re? speaking of Amazon.
      If not, I’ll send you the poem.
      You have more to say about Cal than you first thought, Lady MacBeth. Good one… back later…

  44. Reine permalink
    February 15, 2011 11:00 PM

    I could do with the other zen in a box but I will ease my racing mind with Aurelio for the moment.

    I do have it, Hic, apologies – meant to acknowledge that earlier.

    California? I was talking about where I work!

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 16, 2011 2:31 AM

      honeyed salve of Faust for you…

  45. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2011 8:37 AM

    ‘…he (AC Milan mid-fielder Gennaro Gattuso) lost his head… literally…’–Tottenham Hotspurs manager Harry Redknapp, BBC Radio 4, today.

    You’ll be pleased to hear that Pie Face Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ (AKA ‘I’m OK, He’s OK, You’re All Fucked’) goes from strength to, erm…strength:

    A quango that David Cameron praised as one of the organisations that will “bring the wealth, the jobs and the opportunity our country needs so badly” is being scrapped with the loss of more than 300 jobs.

    The prime minister sent a video message praising Advantage WM after it won a top prize at the Midlands Excellence awards earlier this month.

    “These awards celebrate precisely the kinds of things that will get our economy back on its feet,” Cameron told the audience on a video link. “You are the doers and the grafters who are going to bring the wealth, the jobs and opportunity our country needs so badly.”

    However, most of the 340 staff who worked for Advantage WM expect to be made redundant in September and the organisation, which has an annual investment budget of £300m, will be wound up in March next year.–The Grauniad, Feb.15

    It’d make a cat laugh…

  46. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2011 8:50 AM

    You may remember, hic, I own a bed that plays selections from Gounod’s Faust.

    Here’s some more honey, (albeit bitter-sweet); a lovely song, recently discovered:

  47. Reine permalink
    February 16, 2011 9:02 AM

    So much honey … the woman in the floaty red dress a central motif in both. The frenzied finale of Faust, Hic, was calmed by the Jennys.

    Thanks for editorial intervention above Mish.

  48. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2011 9:53 AM

    No sweat, chica.

    Christ, Hillary Clinton’s shifty mendacity is only matched by her sanctimonious hypocrisy; when the Egyptians took to the streets to rid themselves of the US and Israel’s errand-boy, Mubarak, she dithered and called for ‘calm’ blahblahblah…yesterday, when Iranians took to the streets, she couldn’t ladle out the luuurve fast enough. Clinton called the Iranian government “awful.” But she didn’t say the same about U.S.-backed Yemen, which also used violence to break up anti-government demonstrations today:

    …Clinton vowed on Tuesday to invest $25 million for developers to build tools that will let online dissidents get around “thugs, hackers and censors.” It’s her attempt at giving teeth to the so-called “Internet Freedom Agenda” that she unveiled last year.

    In a speech at D.C.’s George Washington University — one full of glowing references to the Egyptian revolution — Clinton pledged to take a “venture capital approach” to funding tools that allow online activists, dissidents and ordinary citizens to circumvent internet censorship…–wired.com

    …unless you’re wikileaks, of course. Oh, wait:

    Clinton found it hard to give another speech about internet freedom while avoiding WikiLeaks, whose disclosure of classified State Department cables she vigorously denounced. Saying that the WikiLeaks affair “began with a theft,” Clinton denied that there was any hypocrisy in championing internet openness while opposing the radical transparency organization, and further denied that any denial-of-service attacks or decisions by companies in the U.S. to boot WikiLeaks off their servers came at the behest of the U.S. government. “The fact that WikiLeaks used the internet is not the reason we criticized its actions,” Clinton said.–wired.com

    Ho-ho-ho…very droll, Hillary. I remember how you were equally vociferous in your condemnation of The New York Times for publishing the very same documents…oh, wait..that didn’t happen, did it?

    But Clinton’s (and her handler’s) idea is a very simple one: fund the next generation of ‘tools of dissent’ so that the US can control them if and when they want to.

    After all, the pious frauds who run the US (and Britain, for that matter) wouldn’t want to see any dissent in their favourite mediaeval autocracy and exporter of terrorism, Saudi Arabia, would they? Fuck democracy if it interferes with oil supplies, right, Hil?

    Let’s see how much help Hillary offers the dissidents in Bahrain (home of the US 5th Fleet), in Jordan (US lackey), and in Yemen (US ‘ally’) as the protests grow.

    • February 17, 2011 8:35 PM

      Along those lines:

      “During that speech Ray McGovern, a veteran who also served for 27 years as a CIA analyst, exercised his freedom of speech by standing and silently turning his back on Secretary Clinton. He was protesting the ongoing wars, the treatment of Bradley Manning and the militarism of U.S. foreign policy. He did not shout at the Secretary of State or interrupt her speech. He merely stood in silence. See the video here of the incident:

  49. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 16, 2011 10:53 AM

    Bald presidential twat.

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 16, 2011 10:54 AM

    Hollywood Meltdown

    We met in a dive on Sunset,
    sank a few sitting at the bar,
    I knew we’d sing a sweet duet:
    I conducted her to my car.

    Soon we’re in bed back at her place,
    I’m exploring the promised land
    when a twitch lifts her frozen face
    and her hair comes off in my hand.

    Sorry, she says through too-fat lips,
    and she gives me a tiny grin,
    then her breasts slither down to her hips,
    and her eyebrows slump to her chin.

    I get up and she follows me,
    there’s a weird stain on the sheet,
    she reaches down to rub her knee
    and her arse slips down to her feet.

    She dissolves before my eyes,
    head, torso, all her limbs as well,
    until quietly bubbling she lies,
    a puddle of silicone gel.

    I left without saying goodbye,
    totally in a state of shock,
    and mildly pissed I couldn’t try
    my brand-new titanium cock.

    • Reine permalink
      February 16, 2011 11:07 AM

      You really have the whole punchline thing down to a t. Ouch.

  51. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 16, 2011 2:04 PM

    Thanks (I think). Unfortunately the punchline is a bit addictive: it’s hard to do something which doesn’t involve a payoff. You can see the effect on Jimmy Carr.

    • Reine permalink
      February 16, 2011 3:34 PM

      Oh yes, it was a compliment. You are my guiding light in punchline terms. The “ouch” was just me using my imagination.

  52. hic8ubique permalink
    February 16, 2011 4:05 PM

    Oh, I see, Mishari … heavy the head and so to bed.
    No, I’ve not made it beyond March of 09 in the PH archive, so I’d no idea.
    It’s a good reminder to go back and resume.
    Now I see (daft ‘apeth) what my erstwhile, yet dear, friend file was ranting on about.
    And you the eldest… you’re a sitting duck for all sorts of projection aren’t you, M.
    Still, you’ve always been a prince among poets to me and shall continue so.
    Cool bed too; reminds me of The Nightingale.
    It could almost (at a great stretch over miles and styles) have been commissioned from my great great grandfather, a master cabinetmaker, but he was producing the Karl Johan (sort of Biedermeier) style, which was far less ornate and music not included.
    Do you ever wind it up and play it’s honeyed melody these days?

    Also meant to say, I very much enjoyed that Beaudelaire flaneur passage.

  53. Reine permalink
    February 16, 2011 10:10 PM

    The morning-after pill has finally become available over the counter in Ireland from today. Unfortunate use of the term “tools” in this from an Irish Times report…

    “Spokeswoman Sinead Ahern said it was “a victory not only in the campaign to prevent crisis pregnancies but for the fundamental right of women to the tools they need to make their own reproductive choices.””

    My friend went to the doctor back in the day and asked him to prescribe it for her and he, an arch-conservative Catholic, lectured her on the sin that was premarital sex and the right to life of the unborn child. In a moment of panic and knowing there was only one way to achieve her goal, she told him she had slept with a black Englishman (hedging her bets as to which way his racism would turn). He hastily wrote her a prescription… and she changed doctors. (It really was my friend.)

  54. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2011 10:50 PM

    In my experience, women have always chosen ‘…the tools they need to make their own reproductive choices…’. I believe it’s called ‘dating’…boom-boom.

    Just over 20 years ago, Reine, I lived with an Irish woman (from Ennis). A regular occurrence was the visit of various friends from ‘back home’, coming over for an abortion.

    Poor girls. As if they didn’t have enough on their plates without having to go through the charade of ‘I’m popping over to London for a week to stay with Avril’.

    I came know the waiting-room of the clinic (next-door to Euston Station) quite well. I used to go along to lend support and take them for a drink after. I felt so bad for them. It was a hellish thing to have to go through, especially for girls who’d been educated by the nuns (or ‘the dickie-dodgers’ as the girls used to call them).

    The painful decision, the journey away from family and friends, the fear of the procedure itself, the inevitable guilt–a miserable business altogether. And all because a bunch of child molesting God-botherers think they have the right to decide what a woman does or doesn’t do with her body.

    So, no more frightened young girls being made to feel like criminals and forced to flee abroad for a simple medical procedure: that’s good news, any way you look at it…

    • Reine permalink
      February 16, 2011 11:07 PM

      Still no elective abortion here Mishari so many still travel; many not realising in time (to take the morning after pill) that they may be pregnant. A woman still does not have the right to choose, at least not unless she is prepared to travel and, as you say, endure all the horrors that entails.

      Sex ed is better now, young people are more aware of STIs etc. but let’s face it, there will always be situations where, for one reason or another, a pregnancy is undesirable. Pharmacists will now have to follow guidelines on how to dispense the drug; they will have to “interview” the customer to decide whether it is advisable to dispense. In spite of their ringing tills, I suspect some will still make the women who seek this service feel ashamed.

      Today is a small advance.

    • February 17, 2011 10:25 AM

      One of the most pleasant afternoons of 1990 was spent in an abortion clinic in Richmond, me sitting on the edge of my (American) girlfriend’s bed, sharing a box of chocolates in a room full of chatty Irish girls. The sun was streaming through the Victorian windows and the communal air of relief in the sunbeams was palpable.

  55. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2011 11:39 PM

    You’re right, of course. I got carried away. A small advance, as you say…but (frowns and gives little, thoughtful puffs on pipe) a small advance is better than no advance.

    • Reine permalink
      February 16, 2011 11:50 PM

      Absolutely. I wasn’t rapping your doubtless exquisite knuckles and I am glad to think of my compatriots having had kindness shown to them by you.

      It is a most vexatious issue here but I think a referendum, were it to be held here (as it should be following a recent ruling of the European Court) would just about be carried in favour of pro-choice.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 17, 2011 12:08 AM

      Go on, give them a rap. I find a billiard cue is an ideal instrument.

  56. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 16, 2011 11:43 PM

    I wonder what the result of a referendum would be now? You sometimes get the impression that more than a few people would like to make abortion more difficult here.

  57. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2011 11:51 PM

    By the same token, MM, I get the impression that if a referendum on capital punishment were to be held today, quite a few of us would find ourselves at the wrong end of a rope quicker than you can say ‘the Moops conquered Spain…’

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 17, 2011 12:05 AM

      Well, quite. I can think of a few candidates.

  58. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2011 11:56 PM

    Oh, I meant to tell you, MM…I was watching one of my favourite Westerns, The Outlaw Josie Wales the other day and in a scene where Wales is bushwacked by two hillbilly bounty-hunters, I suddenly realised that the snaggle-toothed Okie hick snarling at Eastwood and exuding malice and poor dental hygiene was…Uncle Leo. Imagine my surprise. Very good he was, too…

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      February 17, 2011 6:25 AM

      Next you’ll be saying “I was just browsing through some old Tory conference Betacams of Margaret Thatcher…”

  59. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 17, 2011 12:04 AM

    Ah, the Bubble Boy, one of the great episodes.

    I’m sure I’ve seen Uncle Leo in something else, can’t remember what. It’s quite disconcerting when a well-known face from one show turns up in another. There used to be a regular traffic in actors beween The Bill and Enders, which could get very confusing.

  60. mishari permalink*
    February 17, 2011 2:08 AM

    I’m resurrecting this old one (sorry)…and it is a California-themed piece…kinda…

    Wanted-young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 20. Must be expert riders, and are willing to risk their lives for the job. Orphans preferred. Wages twenty five dollars a week.– Ad placed by Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company in California Newspapers, March,1860

    Hell For Leather

    A banner hangs across the crowded lot:
    “Happy 90th Birthday, Johnny Fry!”
    a vivid splash of red, white and blue
    against a paler Sacramento sky
    “Central Valley’s Biggest Ford Dealership.
    Serving Sacramento 1910-1935”

    His eyes may be dulled and filmy but
    he can see the past clear as day;
    even now he can hear old Murdo say:
    next of kin? and his 15 year-old self
    reply ain’t got none. The catechism:
    weight? around 110. kin ye ride?
    anything on legs.
    Through time’s prism
    Murdo nodded: well, we’ll see.

    Out to the corral, Murdo in his old
    Union cavalry hat said pick one.
    He saw barely broke broncs and
    chose a piebald filly with a long neck.
    Murdo tossed him a lariat and pointed
    to a pile of cracked saddles and worn
    saddle-cloths: Git to it, son.

    He roped her and turned, he made
    to walk away from her, giving her slack
    her ears pricked up, she looked at his back
    and took a few steps toward him. He began
    to speak softly, like a man soothing a griping
    baby. Come on , honey, I’m yer friend, sure.
    That’s right, I ain’t gonna hurt you, you can
    bet to that
    , drawing her towards him.

    Later, Murdo said $25 a week, we provide a gun
    and a Bible an’ if’n you don’t get scalped
    or bushwacked or elected President, I reckon
    you’ll do
    and gave him a $5 gold coin, the first
    he’d ever seen. Reckon you’ll have a thirst.
    Go on, git. I’ll see you in the mornin’.

    In the saloon, a man in a fancy weskit told him
    he was a herald of progress and though he didn’t
    rightly know what that meant, he liked the sound
    of it; if anyone asked, that’s what he’d say:
    you a Pony Express rider, son? No, sir, I’m a herald
    of progress
    . It sounded special, like something fine.

    He thought of the time he got jumped by a Commanche
    raiding party, coming through South Pass, how he prayed
    to a God he didn’t much believe in that the roan mustang
    wouldn’t founder or spook or step in a gopher hole and how
    he’d come over the rise and seen Fort Bridger up ahead
    and almost cried with relief as the shouts and cat-calls
    of the braves faded behind him and he rode through the gates
    and fell into the arms of a cavalry sergeant who said:
    you’ll be wantin’ a fresh mount, I reckon.

    Mr. Fry? His secretary, nice lookin’ gal. The guests are here, sir.
    He stands up slowly and straightens his back, creaking and popping
    like an old wagon.Can anyone else hear those noises or is it just me?
    He sees his sons, elderly men now and his grandsons and their placid
    dull-eyed wives and his great-grandchildren itching to get at the cake.

    And he wishes he were young and poor and hungry again, just to take
    the old trail: Fort Laramie, Wyoming, then along the Sweetwater River,
    past Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, and Split Rock, to Fort Caspar.
    To feel a good horse beneath him, a world away from today, the today
    of overwhelming softness: soft people, soft lives, weak desires and then
    he smiles: oh, don’t you worry, son; that horse’ll be along presently
    to carry you off to a place you ain’t never seen before: you can bet
    to that.

  61. February 17, 2011 4:15 AM

    Statement by PoemOfTheWeek

    The run of history in a thick soup of rain
    The brown colored condiment in a clear bottle
    The inexpensive aftershave and give away shampoo
    Two pairs of runners on a canvas chair.

    An empty tin
    Unironed shirts
    Traffic sounds rattling in the moist breeze
    A historic evening of words surrendering
    In the mouths of politicians in sombre dress
    Grey hair dyed dark
    Tasteful tie with moderate knots,
    The co-ordinates of sincerity in the eradication of war.

    Television-dressed leaders, consigned by history
    To a passionate cause, lining pockets, in the equality
    Of flags and parades, a jumble of yesterday’s news
    Holding the chips for tommorow’s game; cold-coiled
    Reality a level of talk and trust constantly tied, tested
    And untethered by events, departure and return,
    The simplistic consistency of two tribes, vying, in wait
    For a sign of belief in each other’s rights
    In the conflicting song of a patriot dead, dying for truth
    And lies put into our heads, centuries of silent wrongs

    And bloodthirsty rites.

  62. February 17, 2011 4:26 AM

    Testing to see if Soundcloud embedded. It doesn’t. I tried on Scarriet also, where Thom Graves rants from Boston at the AmPo staus quo stalwarts, bending logic to all torque of curvature and a collective space for free thinking vomiters of blather..

    The professional poetry handlers anonymously moderating mental illness at CM’s place, have been very helpful in the editing process. I found a way to do their heads in even more, by having three pieces written the night before last, removed, I am assuming, before the morning shift began. Three pieces posted unproofed, a few small but major textual mistakes, drafted into a finished state over the course of an afternoon, yesterday, dreamweaving with the unadorned, ungarnished direct breakdown of a poetry doctor’s narrator, cipher we suspect for Jas herself, eleven times ‘I’ appearing in the bus staion at Ramallah, God’s Height, visting the hub of Palestinian cultural life, a confused, award winning, sexually explicit poet pumped up by her fellow professional in Bangor, as summat she is, perhaps not. I couldn’t care less if she is the eternal prophetess herself, the sybil of Swansea, Boston or Israel’s most sacred singer of spoken song; she is wonderful to moi..

  63. mishari permalink*
    February 17, 2011 4:29 AM

    I don’t know why it didn’t embed, Des, but the code didn’t look right so I modified it. The links work fine, though. I’ll try to embed it myself and see what happens.

    4:40 — Nah, no joy. I don’t know why, but none of the embed code Soundcloud is giving me–generic or wordpress-specific–none of it works. The links work fine, though.

  64. mishari permalink*
    February 17, 2011 7:23 AM

    …he no longer wishes to know anything beyond the momentary and extreme facility of everything. The woods are black or white, one will never need to sleep again.–André Breton, The First Manifesto of Surrealism, 1924

    California: The Extreme Facility of Everything

    You’ll die on that thing,
    she said, shaking her head;
    there was no ring to fling
    and she walked out instead;
    left the hard place, the hot place,
    where lightning might strike
    she left me (bereft me):
    the cat, me, the bike.

    BSA Lightning,
    the name was a song,
    when the noose
    started tightening,
    and the leash got too strong,
    you leaped on your Lightning
    and kicked her awake:
    blue exhaust smoke was writing
    goodbye in your wake.

    Pacific Coast Highway
    Unspools, like a flick
    about wild grievous angels,
    so doomed, fast and slick;
    who never stop running
    outpacing the rust
    determined to make
    their appointment with dust.

    Racing the sun as it
    sinks in the ocean;
    fleeing the wife
    and the strife
    and the life;
    don’t care where you go,
    all that matters is motion–
    somewhere up ahead
    is a man with a scythe.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 17, 2011 11:29 AM

      I like this very much. ‘appointment with dust’ is good.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 17, 2011 11:58 AM

      Thanks, B’wana. My dream approaches (like Eliot’s fog…I think…too lazy to woogle it) on little cat feet. Any day now, the phone will ring:

      Me: Hello…who is it there on the phune?

      Caller: Cadwallader Muffburger III speaking…now see here, Mr. Al-Adwani, I’m a plain-speaking man; I like my whisky neat, my women pretty and my horses fast; I’ve lived and loved and walked up and down in the earth seeking whom I might devour…

      Me: Erm…Hello?

      Caller: Playing hard to get, eh? I’ll just lay my cards on the table, then: I am the CEO of The Hallmark Greeting Card Company of Sheboygan, Michigan and we like your work…we like it very much. We want you to come and work for us. We have a new line of ‘Sorry To Hear About Your Divorce’ cards that I think you’ll find challenging. We’re prepared to pay you $50 million, billion, trillion, jillion a month…plus stock options. What do you say?

      Me: I say….

      Sorry to hear that you’ve both gone kaput
      It’s a real drag to hear you’re a bust
      But in truth you two did get off on the wrong foot:
      No strong marriage is built on raw lust.

      Caller: I’ll send the corporate Gulf-Stream for you…

      Me: Yowsuh…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 17, 2011 3:27 PM

      Sorry to hear you’ve had to unhitch,
      And the fag of marriage is butted:
      You’re an arsehole and she’s a bitch,
      But all the same we’re gutted.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 17, 2011 4:52 PM

      Ho-ho…try to undercut my prices, would you? Scab. Take this:

      My mother was full of foreboding
      assured me that you were a slut
      as I watch the brisk moving-men loading
      the case appears open and shut.

  65. mishari permalink*
    February 17, 2011 7:48 AM

    Just heard some bloke on the Today program saying that 50,000 novels are published in Britain every year (I assume he means 50,000 titles).

    Fuck me…that can’t be right, surely?

    He must mean 50,000 titles in toto–fiction and non-fiction (and even that’s a bit mad). The notion–961.538462 novels published every week of the year–is completely insane otherwise.

  66. February 17, 2011 2:38 PM

  67. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 17, 2011 6:23 PM

    Sorry to hear that you and BLANK FOR YOUR CHOICE OF NAME have split,
    I know that things may not seem very bright,
    Don’t let it shrink your wonderful spirit.
    So, doing anything on Friday night?

  68. hic8ubique permalink
    February 17, 2011 8:55 PM

    I like it too, life as movement is a winning theme.
    But when they die, they usually they die not on the bike, but under it, or 50 feet from it, don’t they?
    Not quibbling, just thinking about death by bike…

    Mature and Responsible Spouse got over the bike thing during his starter marriage.
    Crashed and thought: ‘Good thing I wasn’t wearing my jacket; I can grow new skin, but this would have ruined the leather’, sold the bike and bought a Triumph instead. Now he’s passionately bonded with his Viggen.

  69. hic8ubique permalink
    February 17, 2011 9:00 PM

    Thinking of You
    one last time

    She gets the house, you the mortgage.
    True, it’s unfair the way this occurs,
    but of justice divorce is a poor gauge;
    all your mutual friends are now hers.

  70. Reine permalink
    February 17, 2011 9:23 PM

    We always said it wouldn’t last
    You could have been her Dad
    But your taste was quite exquisite
    She’s the best I’ve ever had

    • Reine permalink
      February 17, 2011 9:52 PM

      His name wasn’t Bur.

  71. Reine permalink
    February 17, 2011 9:37 PM

    Went to see True Grit earlier – I really really enjoyed it. The dialogue was, to repeat a word I’ve used above, exquisite. Laughed, cried and leapt in seat – what more could one want from a fillum?

    The guy who plays the undertaker is a second cousin of my mother’s.

    I wrote a poem earlier but when I went to post, the system had timed out (I was at work and have to bypass the firewall). Tried to remember it but it had evaporated. It was brilliant, so brilliant that I immediately forgot it.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 18, 2011 2:17 PM

      What, do you usually compose the whole thing in your mind? I can hardly keep a single line in mine; if I don’t write it down straightaway it’s gone for ever.

    • Reine permalink
      February 18, 2011 6:48 PM

      My “poems” rarely see paper MM, I write straight onto laptop, usually in one go. I normally remember to block and copy in case something goes amiss but I am quite often caught out and turn the air blue. As an exception to my rule, I did compose “Untitled” on the way back on the train on Monday. I’m sure my fellow travellers thought me very deep.

  72. February 17, 2011 10:25 PM

    I like the Homer Simpson one.

    Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: you

    Mishari The Wellcome Institute in Euston is always worth a visit ( a terrific collection of medical instruments and artefacts from across the world and the past ) but it has a nice exhibition “High Society” about drugs running at the moment.

    In particular there are clips from a great 50’s documentary of two doctors in suits with cut-glass BBC accents. One has taken mescaline and is recounting his experiences to the other. Tirriblee tirriblee rum affair.

    There also lots of bottles of Victorian cough lynctuses and pills – most of which contained heroin or laudanum and a packet of kava with Edwardian instructions on the packer – “your speech may get a bit blurry”.

  73. mishari permalink*
    February 17, 2011 10:35 PM

    The Coen Bros version was, I think, closer in language and spirit to the novel (or was it a novella? Been a while since I read it). I read quite a few knuckle-headed critics carping that the language of the film was too ornate, to embroidered and just too damn sophisticated for the time and place. Nonsense, of course.

    Anyone who reads journals, letters, newspapers of the period or the record of ex tempore speeches given at the time will know this. A prime example of a man of that period was nearby: the Governor of New Mexico at the time was Lew Wallace; former Civil War General; a man who knew Billy The Kid (and had pardoned him); who was the US ambassador to the Ottoman Sultan and his court and was the man who found time, amidst all the foregoing, to write Ben Hur.

    Hell, that kind of talk came as naturally as breathing to people of the period, whose main reading materials were The King James Bible, Shakespeare and Bunyan.

    Naturally, the Coens, most bookish of film-makers, know all this. I enjoyed True Grit a lot. Any Coen bros. film is head and shoulders above most of the witless crap Hollywood churns out like sausages.

    I know the place, Ed and I’m a little bit shame-faced to admit that I’ve never visited it. I will remedy that at some point.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 17, 2011 11:35 PM

      Keep your hands off the laudanum.

  74. hic8ubique permalink
    February 18, 2011 3:05 AM

    I think mine is wanting in the popular flavour of Hallmarkishness. Try again…

    Honey-mooning

    We knew that he didn’t deserve you,
    but we’re sorry to hear of your rift.
    In light of your prompt separation
    would you kindly return our gift.
    ~
    So ET, were you swanning about Whitechapel in your cloak and topper on your Ripperologist gig?

  75. February 18, 2011 9:29 AM

    I was there for meeting about our new show hic – which won’t be cluttering up our blog-host’s doorway he’ll be glad to hear.

    I did notice this Kuwaiti guy sitting on a bench outside a shop’n’stop swigging Pear cider and shouting random words at all and sundry ” Pongo!….. Galicia! …. non-appearance of Clint Eastwood blog !….walnuts!”.

    Whilst I watched a warm-hearted cockney grandmuvvah leant over and told me “he’s here every Wednesday, diamond geezer but too many kangaroos in the top paddock, leave it out mate, Gaz is awright”. She lifted up a paving stone found some gold then sodded off.

    It all brought a tear to my eye.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 18, 2011 2:19 PM

      diamond geezer? Surely that was
      The Pearly King himself.

  76. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 9:45 AM

    Our chirpy Cockanny sparras will bring a tear to your eye every time, Ed–usually by kicking you in the bollocks.

    Yeah…I still have that Eastwood piece in-embryo. Even as it is, it’s long as hell. I really must finish it.

    ‘…some people in the City knew that house prices could not spiral up forever…’–idiot apologist for the bankers, on Radio 3, Thursday evening

    And there you have it in a nutshell–some people had the sense of an average 10 year-old: the rest of them made The Three Stooges look like stellar members of the Algonquin Round Table. Of course, the same numbskulls are still in place and the same rules apply–so what could possibly go wrong?

    Meanwhile, this generation of girly-men, who might be puzzling over whether or not it is permissible to slap women, can get some pointers from an expert:

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 18, 2011 5:09 PM

      Oh, nice tidy wrap-up there Baba. That’s more appalling to me than learning of the man’s brutality.
      What did she just convey to the abused and silenced women who watched that air? That battery is okay with us if it’s okay with you? Utterly irresponsible.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 18, 2011 6:01 PM

      It’s a pity: I used to quite like Connery; he’d always seemed (from what little I knew of him) to be a pretty down-to-earth fellow, not submerged in all that ‘star’ bullshit.

      But this was an eye-opener, and not in a good way. And the stupid bastard just digs himself in deeper when he tries to rationalise hitting women by saying that, y’know, it’s only OK when they, like…really ask for it. Sure, Sean. Whatever you say.

      Jesus, what a prick.

    • Reine permalink
      February 18, 2011 6:55 PM

      Hic… Or that, you know, what’s a little slap about amid all the trappings and pluses marriage to a celebrity can offer? You can’t have everything.

      Preferable peaceful penury than a wallop from the well heeled.

    • February 18, 2011 7:00 PM

      Connery did a Bono didn’t he? Told all the Scots to vote for the SNP whilst he lived in the Bahamas to avoid paying tax in Scotland.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 18, 2011 8:14 PM

      I can see being shocked if he was someone you’d admired, but narcissistic misogyny is not unusual… consistent with my impression of traditional Calvinism anyway.
      Mel Gibson is a more current pig specimen;
      but I’m even further disgusted that the supposedly great interviewer makes excuses for him. Probably his publicist set that up for her to say ‘he regrets’ what he said (even though Connery’s confirming his opinion) and then to make her bromide closure that his wife hasn’t complained.
      This is why I can’t look at these celebrity people.
      Walters had a responsibility there to be of service to women listening who admire her and she chose to go the other way.

      “…it deepens like a coastal shelf…”

  77. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 11:49 AM

    The Bahraini regime have started shooting pro-democracy demonstrators dead in the street. I expect that great champion of freedom and democracy, Hillary (‘Yabba-Dabba-Do What I Say’) Clintstone will make a statement supporting the protesters and condemning the unaccountable, autocratic regime that murdered them…(crickets chirrup…owl hoots…tumbleweeds blow across the interwebz…Hillary perfoms John Cage’s 4′ 33″…)

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 18, 2011 2:12 PM

      I’m beginning to wonder if you’ve got a bit of a thing for Hillary. Look, I’m an understanding type of chap – if you need to talk sometime my number is 08746537823984598. Otherwise I recommend aversion therapy – looking at pictures of the man she’s been sleeping with for 40 years could be effective.

    • Reine permalink
      February 19, 2011 12:34 AM

      One of our better known windbags on a late night show here has just described Hillary as the “best man in American politics”, a backhanded compliment if ever there was one.

  78. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 2:22 PM

    Corpulent, power-crazed American grannies–you certainly open up an, erm…interesting line of inquiry. Alas for Hillary, it can never be…thank fuck…

  79. February 18, 2011 2:48 PM

    MM when I dialed that number you gave above I got a voice telling me I’d reached Voluptua THE gentlemen’s Courtesan escort agency with 24/7 availability. Discounts for heirs to the throne and pilots. Leave your wellies at the door.

    Was that your silky voice on the answer-phone?

    Somehow after all this time I had expected something a bit lower in register and a bit more…..errrm …… manly.

  80. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 18, 2011 3:35 PM

    Blast. I meant to put in my private number. No, that was my man, Connery, who I employ to smack the bitches up. I rarely speak on the telephonic apparatus myself, only in fact to the Duke of Edinburgh and other lovelorn princes. Had one on earlier, strangely enough, seeking a portly blonde American stateswoman. I only have Russians at the moment, unfortunately.

    • Reine permalink
      February 18, 2011 7:17 PM

      May I forward my resumé?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 18, 2011 11:19 PM

      Certainly. Interviews are undertaken by my assistant, Mr Gove.

    • Reine permalink
      February 18, 2011 11:25 PM

      Ah, I will brush up on my Edmund Burke spiel.

    • Reine permalink
      February 18, 2011 11:29 PM

      And wear a fetching blouse.

  81. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 4:00 PM

    In March 2010, her [Kelly Hoppen’s] lawyers also had obtained a court order requiring Vodafone to hand over material relating to unsuccessful attempts to access her voicemail.

    This disclosed that on 22 June 2009 – the day after the Mail on Sunday claimed she was having a relationship with Guy Ritchie – her mobile had been called twice by a caller who withheld their own number; hung up the first call when Hoppen answered; then called back, got no answer and dialled into her voicemail for 25 seconds.

    Vodafone disclosed that the calls were made from a mobile phone registered to News International in the name of Dan Evans, a feature writer.

    Michael Silverleaf QC, representing Dan Evans, said the evidence clearly showed that Dan Evans had dialled Hoppen accidentally [I doubt that very much.-Ed.]. Evans remembered nothing of the calls. The keys on his phone were inclined to stick and to dial numbers accidentally. The use of his own phone to do something which he knew to be illegal would have been “quite unbelievably stupid” [You said it; that’s why he got caught. Idiot.-Ed.].–The Groan,today

    He accidentally dialled her phone twice and then dialled into her voicemail ‘accidentally’? Yeah…right. And this is his defence? He should sack his lawyer…unless, of course, he actually likes prison food…

    Uncle Leo (Len Lesser) has just snuffed it at 88. Coincidence? I don’t think so. This is the ‘Blog Of Doom’. Get a mention here and you might as well start ordering the black crêpe and Calla lillies.

    I see from imdb that Len Lesser was in Kelly’s Heroes as well as Josie Wales; he had a small part in Lust For Life (that film about the Dutch painter, Van Halen [I think] {You mean Van Heusen-Ed.} <I think you both mean Van Morrison-Sr. Ed.>, who cut off his ear); he also appeared in a show that I think has been unfairly neglected (except by myself and Sean–Cassavetes’ Johnny Staccato; also The Birdman of Alcatraz; How to Stuff a Wild Bikini; Papillon and Sorority Girls and the Creature from Hell (how I missed that one, God only knows).

    Len…Hell-lo…Goodbye, Len.

  82. February 18, 2011 4:51 PM

    Mish,

    Yes, that fellow in your photo at the top does look familiar.

    Sorry to have been a stranger of late, having fallen victim to a unique California accident: while attempting to perform the risky endeavour of being a pedestrian in a parking lot, in a heavy northern California downpour one night shortly before Christmas, I was tripped by and impaled upon some of those anti-vehicle spikes designed to puncture the tires of vehicles.

    And there are those who say the Middle Ages lacked culture.

    Anyway, several fractures, bone abscesses, sulfa drugs & c. later, here we are… back in California.

    There seems No Way Out.

    On the other hand… cheers!

    • Reine permalink
      February 18, 2011 6:52 PM

      Tom, hope you are well recovered. That sounds pretty nasty. I like your moon.

  83. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 5:06 PM

    Good to hear from you, though I’m sorry to hear of your travails, Tom. Surely (in the land of litigation) you can sue the parking lot owner’s ass off? There should have been a prominently displayed sign to the effect that: ‘Walking in this parking lot can lead to serious injuries’. If there wasn’t, then they’ve been negligent. Make the bastards pay. I hope you’re fully recovered.

  84. February 18, 2011 6:50 PM

    Tom, welcome back but so sorry to hear your woes. What on earth was something like that doing in operation?

    I’ve been in London for the last 2 days staying at a friend’s house. Yesterday morning I picked up a book he had about Ginsberg and the page it fell open at had a mention of you.

  85. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 6:59 PM

    Christian-themed Easter eggs on saleGrauniad headline, today

    The headline assumes that readers will be shocked and horrified by this perversion of an ancient secular feast.

    Oh…hang on…surely anything related to Easter is ‘Christian-themed’. Will the wretched bien pensant half-wits of Guardianland be equally shocked when some religious fanatic attempts to give Christmas a ‘Christian-theme’?

    I begin to wonder why I even bother to look at the Graun’s front-page anymore: all it ever does is provoke a sneer-fest…

  86. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 7:09 PM

    Ed, you might be interested in a 1965 (I think) interview that Tom did with Allen Ginsberg in The Paris Review ( Tom was its Poetry Editor). Read Ginsberg saying “I think it’s just that British poets are more cowardly” and more besides HERE.

    • Reine permalink
      February 18, 2011 7:41 PM

      That’s a hell of an interview. Marvellous.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 18, 2011 9:26 PM

      It is a good interview, Reine, and there are over 100 (I think) more with writers and poets from the 50s through to the present. Some fantastic stuff, available to read HERE.

      One of my recent ‘discoveries’:

    • February 18, 2011 11:54 PM

      That is a great interview; only have quibbles with Allen’s casual “a spade orchestra playing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner'”… and the too-delicate evasion of his vague reference to Burroughs’ wife dying. Ginsberg’s bi ex was indirectly responsible for my oldest friend leaving the country (but that’s another story about infidelity). There’s also the NAMBLA stuff…

      I downloaded every single one of the (downloadable) PR writer-interview-pdf’s years ago. Had a unilateral micro-kerfuffle with the current editor about his moderation policy and don’t visit the site (which was veering ever more Vanity-Fair-wards, in any case) much any more. Terry Southern would’ve been banned from the comment threads.

      Oh, and: Tom’s questions quite good.

      I often wonder how well Ginsberg’s work will hold (or has held) up.

  87. February 18, 2011 8:59 PM

    Just watched Howl off the disc you sent ( it was Skype that affected the volume – we’ve put that on another lap-top ). Very much a companion piece to that film “Good Night and Good Luck” I thought.

    Interesting too that David Strathairn plays the lawyer trying to prosecute Ginsberg’s poem for obscenity whereas in the Clooney film he was a force for liberal thinking.

    I wonder if there was a bit of an in-joke there?

  88. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 9:38 PM

    I’m sorry to say, I haven’t got around to watching ‘Howl’ yet, although in a sort of related fashion, I read a very entertaining book about the sojourn of Ginsberg, Burroughs, Orlovsky, Corso et al in Paris.. It might actually be called The Beats In Paris… (just checked; it’s actually called The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963 by Barry Miles

    I don’t know if you’ve ever come across this 30s group, The Mississippi Sheiks, before, Ed. A sort of Hot Club de France transposed to another key. I think they’re terrific:

  89. February 18, 2011 9:55 PM

    very nice.

    Your opening clip of the eyes reminds me that we used to use real glass eyes in some of the puppets and objects we made. We found this guy who made them in Manchester’s version of Harley Street. He had an easel and paints to get the exact colouration both of the iris and the white of the patient’s remaining eye in order to match them up.

    He had loads of spare glass eyes ( they make them in acrylic now ) in a tiny leather case. He opened it up and there were rows of realistic eyes staring at you from individual compartments.

    The glass ones have a vacuum in them and before they perfected the making technique the eyes could shatter in extremes of temperature.

    Unfortunately he moved and we didn’t get a forwarding address. He was a real craftsman.

    • mishari permalink*
      February 18, 2011 10:33 PM

      You mean shatter in the wearer’s orbit? Jesus…”You’ll have to excuse me–my eye just exploded…”.

      I had a Texan friend, many years ago, who’d put out his eye in childhood (cutting a piece of string the wrong way: string doubled over in one hand, cutting up towards his own face with his penknife in the other hand).

      Kim delighted in shocking the unwary by, for example, making a great show of questioning a waiter over menu items and while he was talking, pick up a fork and casually give his (unbeknownst to the waiter, glass) eye a vigorous (and noisy) scratch. It was a very effective conversation-stopper…

  90. February 18, 2011 10:40 PM

    yes stepping out of a warm room into a freezing cold day could be dangerous in the early days of glass-eye making.

    It’s still impossible to watch this without flinching

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 18, 2011 11:14 PM

      I find that sliced eye goes well with some fresh bread and unsalted butter, and a green salad (for the ladies).

  91. mishari permalink*
    February 18, 2011 11:48 PM

    The mammalian eye is mostly a sort of gel called Aqueous Humor (also a term used to describe the kind of jokes told by sailors). As it’s mainly water, I don’t imagine it tastes like much, either (in addition to the revolting texture and all-around ‘yuck’ factor of eating eyeballs).

    There’s a very funny scene in Redmond O’Hanlon’s Into the Heart of Borneo where O’Hanlon, the poet James Fenton and their crew of native Dyak guides/paddlers are eating (I think) a monkey.

    The Dyaks tell O’Hanlon that the eye is considered a great delicacy and O’Hanlon proceeds to suck one out of the monkey’s head, chew it and swallow it and try to look pleased.

    Whereupon, the Dyaks fall about laughing and tell O’Hanlon that he must be a barbarian: how could he eat something so disgusting? Those Dyak head-hunters…what wags.

    Testicles, on the other hand, are delicious. Very popular in the Middle East, where a ‘bay’th ghunhem’ (sheeps eggs) sandwich is common street food. In taste and texture, very much like the youngest veal.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 19, 2011 12:01 AM

      Probably apocryphal, but I understood that sheeps’ eyes featured heavily on Bedouin menus. I hadn’t thought about them being full of water, though. I imagined them as looking like boiled eggs.

      We used to eat all sorts of stuff when I was a kid. Brains, cheeks, gizzards, knackers, pizzles (vile), tongue all appeared at the table. My kids almost puked when we tried to introduce them to faggots.

  92. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2011 12:48 AM

    I have never in my life ( a life that’s included a great many meals with my desert cousins) seen anyone eat a sheep’s eye. Certainly, a whole head would often make an appearance as a centre-piece, nesting in the middle of a huge platter of rice, the rather filmy eyes gazing accusingly at me and seeming to follow me around the room whenever I moved…but I never saw anybody eat one of the damn things.

    It’s one of those ‘local custom morphs into horror story’ deals.

    I remember, as a boy, being told by older Kuwaitis that while the English objected to people belching in public (whereas we, contrary to what you hear in Britain, do not consider belching ‘polite’, but neither is it frowned upon as rude), they would happily fart anywhere. “Even before their Queen, by God!” I would be solemnly assured.

    You can not imagine the contumely heaped on the farter in the Middle East–Arabs consider it unspeakably rude to pass gas in public or within earshot of another. The English, I was assured, by way of contrast, viewed farting in public with perfect equanimity but viewed belching with perfect horror! My interlocutor would roll his eyes: could I imagine such a thing? Farting in public without embarrassment? Indeed, I could not.

    Of course, none of the foregoing is quite true– the sheeps eyes that make an occasional appearance aren’t eaten and the Englishman gaily farting his way through life is, in my experience, a rarity.

  93. February 19, 2011 11:42 AM

    Lamb’s sweetbreads with scrambled egg is very tasty too. But there is a strong ammonia smell during the preparation which the cooking removes.

    ( A sentence which has converted at lest 5 readers to vegetarianism.)

    I’m sure I saw a packet of frozen faggots in a cornershop recently after not having seen any for decades but given that they appear to have disappeared as a food concept my sighting could, like the Spidermunn sketch, be entirely made up.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 19, 2011 12:11 PM

      You get that whiff of urine/ammonia with kidneys, as Joyce noted.

      I think you can still buy faggots at Tesco, on the butchery counter. I’ll have to check.

  94. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 19, 2011 12:07 PM

    You’ve convinced me. I thought chicken-lamb-goat-sheep stuffed camel was a myth until I found this:

    http://tinyurl.com/6dqo9td

    Looks like good eating.

    There was a story I read somewhere about an Indian chap who accidentally farts at a family gathering to celebrate the birth of his son. Utterly shamed, he leaves the village and wanders the world for twenty years. Then, thinking his offence will be forgotten, he returns. As he approaches the family home he sees his mother berating a young man, and as he comes into earshot he hears her say ‘….. but what can you expect from the son of a windbreaker?’

    What an interesting perspective on the English. Bad teeth, yes, unhygienic, perhaps, but farting? Not one I would ever have come up with.

  95. mishari permalink*
    February 19, 2011 2:02 PM

    The English have always been renowned for expelling massive quantities of noxious gasses from one end or the other.

  96. February 19, 2011 2:25 PM

    Steven’s assessment of the latterday trending of the Paris Review seems fair enough, though to be honest it’s nearly forty years since last I looked.

    The idea of Terry Southern being moderated is curious, like the idea of Genghis Khan in evening dress.

    In any case, lovely to hear the sweet melodious voices of all, from this great distance in time and space, while falling out the window.

    All one can hope for really is a gentle landing.

  97. Reine permalink
    February 19, 2011 2:46 PM

    I am horrified to find my sister has posted a video on Youtube of my then three year old niece, now four, “singing” her favourite song – Jedward’s version of Under Pressure. Sorcha is a real character; she gets really into it towards the end. I promise I will never post a family vid again.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 19, 2011 4:34 PM

      It’s an improvement on the original.

    • Reine permalink
      February 19, 2011 6:42 PM

      Of course all performances are enhanced by a bum scratch mid-way. She taught me how to play “schnap” last weekend; has a strong Mayo accent which sometimes requires the insertion of a “h” sound where one does not exist. My father remarked that Leone should prepare herself for the gardaí making numerous trips to the house, with an older Sorcha (Sur-uck-ah) in the back of the car, in years to come.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 19, 2011 11:04 PM

      I hope he’s not going on the experience of his own daughters.

    • reine permalink
      February 19, 2011 11:30 PM

      Perish the thought.

      We are watching Zen – Aurelio has just pinned Tanya against the wall in the coffee shop for a quick pash. “For fuck’s sake” says HI. He’s an old romantic really. Seem to recall you and Mrs. M felt the love interest was superfluous too. I’m all for it myself. Two impossibly beautiful people kissing by numbers. I remarked that I hadn’t had a kiss of that quality in a while and he said “give me a couple of minutes while I finish my beer”.

    • reine permalink
      February 19, 2011 11:33 PM

      Tania?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 20, 2011 12:11 AM

      Sorry, she’s out.

      I, or we, thought that the snogging held up the action too much, so you’re in a minority there. Anyway,

      I have no particular yen
      to embrace Aurelio Zen
      but now my desire is deep
      to buss the goddess of sleep.

      Ciao.

  98. February 19, 2011 4:42 PM

    Beach Boys

    surf’s up now approaching the darkest hour
    dreams have turned from sweet to sour
    singing like angels saucer-eyed on dope
    give ’em enough money means give ’em enough rope
    showbiz celeb attorneys attach themselves like leeches
    showbiz celeb gurus beam down from the ether’s furthest reaches
    the sun, the sand, cadillacs, california girls and hits
    descend into paranoia knee-deep in sand-pits

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 19, 2011 11:14 PM

      That’s pretty far out, ET. I’ve been trying to squeeze something out of the Beach Boys from day one, but nothing’s materialised. Maybe Jan and Dean are the way to go.

  99. February 20, 2011 9:48 AM

    Beached Boys

    The sand is littered/dotted/strewn with stranded whales
    Scavengers stripping assets /ripping out the entrails.
    When in the water these cetaceans cut quite a dash
    Now the gull’s beaks disfigure with brutal forward slash.
    Hear the whale’s long/ last,/collective sigh
    Washed ashore/left to die.

    Electronic grids/ the matrix/mobile phones
    May have caused this cemetary of sun-bleached bones.
    Currents in the water not of the tidal kind
    Fogging/disorientating/in front becoming behind.
    Hear the whale’s last sigh/long/heavy/slow
    On the coast heading to Mexico.

  100. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 20, 2011 2:12 PM

    I don’t know if I can carry on posting now that Desmond Swords has taken to impersonating me. That was pretty embarrassing on the POTW blog. I wouldn’t want the same thing to happen here.

  101. February 20, 2011 2:40 PM

    ‘Melton’ Whateveryournameis, please don’t take it personally. I know you have always not liked me, whose real name you know, but I couldn’t help myself, reading all the anonymous people tying themselves up in knots about my rants that last two minutes max and yet still manage to derail the ‘discussion’ that is really nothing more than a load of conjecture and projection from a mainly anonymous set of people, who see ourselves as sensitive, carving, civilized dabblers in language, and not the privacy-demanded drama queens talking gibberish, that most of us are.

    I may well stop posting there myself. As Carol told us, the ‘dream’ ‘is over’ and she has showed her hand, I’m the vile disgusting idiot impersonating people, which is a hanging offence in her book, this most professional of poets whose ability at impersonating people for the love of making poems, is lauded, but my amatuer efforts at doing it, two minutes of being Jasmine before I thought to let myself get rumbled so Com Mod could remove me immediately, rather than play a stunt, just another on the roads of hundreds of masks I’ve worn as a person the professionals hate, which is all very dramatic, poets up ourselves, a person whose writing we all know is removed as soon as it appears, who is not a criminal in the traditional sense, justsomneone who commits metaphorical ‘rape’, as Carol thinks it, impersonating, is.

    All the slurs and slanders, the ‘racist’ epithet from the one on that blog, with his (or her) boom boom obsession and rants about people from the ‘West Indies’ criminalizing British culture, coupled with the casual and collective demonizing of writing that isn;t even there, that was hardly ever really there anyway, and the Community Moderator leaving it all up, proves to me they are all just talking shit anyway, and the irony of acquiring the only skill a poet needs to succeed, in a genuinely avant garde manner, serious about a bardic curricilum that none of the other know-alls there are interested in, who find it comforting to think it is me the ‘vile idiot’ and not them, the people who are great at paying lipservice to the word ‘bard’, casually toss it around as a synonym for poet, yet don’t encourage those who actually seek to find out the reality of this 12 year apprenticeship. Not that I’m complaining, because I am only in it for the love of poetry, and if a group of anonymous luvvies, all performing in print, all with our own unique viewpoint, want me as their scapegoat, great, they look pretty daft really to the reader who aint got a clue what went on, only that a lot of people not being themselves, are upset about the ‘racist’ ‘vile’ idiot’, they cannot make their own minds up about because what is getting discussed, is not a part of the published record.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 21, 2011 1:04 AM

      No, Des/Kev/Swords/Whoever, you look daft, because the commenters (rather than the mods) of PotW are actually indulgently tolerant of your sometimes inspired fancies, as Mishari has been thus far, but your vainglory over having a 3D identity as a Poet in the majuscule blinds you to the fact that we’re in the main just chatty people in a poetry discussion group, minus the crudites and mileage.
      It’s enough for the rest of us, alongside prosaic duties and language-poor intercourse.
      Others are just appreciative of a running chat and a bit of repartee. I’m sorry, but you are the one who comes across daft, or worse, because to your own detriment and loss you fail again and again to recognise this. You ruin it for yourself by making out something inflated beyond the obvious. ‘Love of poetry’? balderdash. Are you the anointed Defender of Poetry to the exclusion of everyone else?

      You now bear the brand of one willing to injure others, since within this modest community of ultimately real people one’s cognomen is (usually) as distinctive as one’s name in any other community.
      I feel sad for you, truly, because even online in the most accommodating of venues you can’t help being willfully destructive and determined to disingratiate yourself among equals. It’s pitiful.

  102. February 20, 2011 3:04 PM

    The stunt is over, gullible just got rumbled.

    It was great while it lasted, slagging msyelf of as you and impersonating gullible, talking with you about myself.. Disgusting, isn’t it..

  103. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 20, 2011 4:42 PM

    Yes, you fooled me there. Well done.

    What’s the point? I give up. Thanks for everything.

  104. hic8ubique permalink
    February 20, 2011 6:14 PM

    I’m so sorry, Vicar.
    The violation truly doesn’t reflect on you who are well known and respected as a commenter consistent in your style and integrity, good-faith (and sometimes temper).
    By some of us, you are well-loved as well for all that, and what’s more your poetry, your wit, and your genuine companionship.
    Such abuse would exceed the patience of a far less irascible person. x

  105. February 20, 2011 7:02 PM

    MM like hic knowing your contributions here and there I don’t see how all this reflects on you at all.

    It’s a shame all the comments get moderated – as it was an Israel/Palestine poem I stayed away from PotW but having just visited it’s impossible to follow what’s been going on.

    Ironically the I/P argy-bargy so common to CiF is pretty muted in comparison to the usual PotW stuff.

    • Reine permalink
      February 20, 2011 7:19 PM

      MM, second Hic and Ed. Your dignity remains intact. Goes without saying, I would hate not to read you again. I’ll say it anyway. x

  106. February 21, 2011 8:48 AM

    Des, you can’t sneer about people who post pseudonymously, on the one hand, and then demonstrate so vividly, on the other, how dangerous online interaction can be (by indulging in identity theft). Turning yourself into one of the very real dangers of the Internet can’t be your intended strategy. Agreeing to disagree in the strongest possible terms for the longest time for the greater good requires an ethical framework.

  107. February 21, 2011 9:25 AM

    The kernel of this originated about six months ago. Everything was great until Jane Holland came in and then the mods clamped down, after which a running campaign of zap on sight happened, ending when OhGodNotHimAgain appeared during Michael Harsent’s appearance on the blog, when he was attacked enmasse by the Anonymous crew who, at this point, were like the advance stormtrooper guard, behind me and my sick act as the victim numero uno of that place where which last week some significant moment occured.

    After that things were on an even keel and I was allowed on, and everything was calm, reflective, civil etc, and I ended up with my real name and a thumbnail avatar of myself reading poetry, just like a normal poster. This lasted for less than a week. Without warning, for no reason, that account was closed down and at that point I knew there was a formidable foe who didn’t want me there.

    I then became a monster, an ogre who rapes people of their ID, worse than a suicide bomber, embaressing myself more than seven slappers in Benidorm indulging in anti-feminist behavior, a blot on their gender, and what, coupled with the heroin, excess of sleeping tablet, the bank-robberies and setting up a concentration camp in Dalkey for over 14’s, starbing them, beatying them, torturing their parents and chopping peoples heads off before breakfast; I lost my way and became the worst person on the planet, for a bit, until finding a poetry site at the Telegraph, rediscovering myself thru meeting like-minded lovers of lines and verses, run by a man called Derek who taught me how to love myself again..

    Yeah, thanks for the advice. The dream is over, the year 11 learning has takenb me to the next level. Sorry Melton. I did it by using a capital I, which on that site appears exactly as a small case letter L.

    Trade secret, giving it yer for fuck all pal, zip, nada, freebie.

  108. February 21, 2011 10:00 AM

    It has been an interesting four years. I started during the final dilineation of a skeleton of Irish myth that had taken seven years to firm up, from a gloopy mass of incoherence, I eventually segued into getting a handle on the basic structure of the bardic course, how it worked, the ABC, dead easy, do do do of it all. At that point, tho in my own mind I exagerrated the filidh grade I imaginatively put myself at grade five or six, cli or anruth, pillar & great stream, it was closer to cano or dos, grade three of four, whelp & bushy-tree shelterer.

    Not having any guide of how to go about the experience of writing and learning of the bards, the self-made system was only an imaginative interpretation, singular, unique and, in the face of ambivelence from the courtier-poet ‘other’ that make up, by far, the majority of brother and sister competitors in this enobling art of Letters, it has been an interesting ride along the road of learning how to impersonate voices. This is the voice of Jazzy D, last weeks sacred English-Israeli-Palastinian Dr of Poetry, Ollamh Danohaye, an invention, the creative re-welding of those letters alloyed into a similar, tho wholly different name.

    “The narrator is not me. It’s a woman I saw buying fruit from a stallholder, at a streetmarket in Doncaster, where I was running a workshop with the poet and publisher Tim Rovshec (this name was originally a real poet’s Tom Chivers, but this is the second draft/appearance), several years ago, before I’d begun the research into Self-portrait as Ruth. There was something about her which made a very strong impression on me, as I bought lunch from a convenience stall immediately adjacent to the one which the narrator in the poem, was in the process of purchasing a fairly large bag of fruit from. She was slightly younger than myself (only a year or two) and had a label sticking out of her coat collar, that she was wearing over a taupe coloured cardigan, worn itself over the ‘shirt’ in the poem, that had this label poking from it and which I noticed, was inside out.
    A few years later, when I was taking my usual Tuesday afternooon trip from Jeruselem to Ramalla, I noticed, crying into the ‘smeared glass’ of the poem, a woman who I imagined as one of my aunts returning ‘home’ and, as well do first time time back home as an adult, finding it deeply moving.

    Though she didn’t have her shirt turned inside out, I was reminded of the woman who did, in Doncaster several years before, and immediately the mid-point line came to me: Among shishlik sellers and plastic kitchenware, and I sensed the writing of another poem was imminently at hand. That there was something to say going on, with the image of the women at the fruit stall wearing her inside-out blouse, connecting to the woman clearly in distress on a bus going to Ramallah on Tuesday afternoon, October 7th, 2006; when I was in the thick of starting up the poetry group there, Jesruselum & Ramallah Poetry and Hip Hop Collective.

    The poem pressing in one me at that moment, was welling up from within and the ‘reality’ of both women and originating images in what make this poem, are unimportant to the poetic reality occuring in these few lines, as it’s more about the multitude of women like the one in the poem, and I knew, the poem urged itself, for me to tell it; whatever it is that’s really going on in the internal world of that poem, that is no more ‘mine’, in one sense, than my readers. Than yours.”

    ~

    This was the crime Carol was outraged about, but immediately after writing this, in a child-like exercise of pretending to be someone I am not, the basics of a poet’s trade, surely; I realized it was out of order to pass myself of as Jas, so wrote another one that I knew would alert CM to the fact it was me.

    The whole point of this was that ‘I’ DS, am zapped on sight, no matter what name I come in as, and tho I know now the dream is over, until this weekends rape and murder spree, I didn’t.

    Anyway, it was up there from 3.30-4.30 am maybe longer, I went to bed and got up and read with increasing satisfaction, all the offended attempts at the middle-class conversation, people upset about it, the crime of raping Jas’s ID, and still being mixed up on the crack-cocaine and with ten virgins butchred in my cellar from the day before, twas difficult to take seriously, the ‘damage’ online.

    Anyway, a classic weekend flame war, but the funny/interesting thing for me, is that apparently, the account above of writing a poem, how it is birthed, was what really upset the two professionals, Carol and Sheenagh, because it was exactly the kind of way they knew; whilst for me, it was a piss take and woke one up to the fact, I am now public enemy number one and Carol will never be my lover…

    Boo hoo..]

    Yeah, no more from me there, if I go in again it will be as someone else, a character, ‘Des’ is squared off now and it’s Kevin all the way, incognito as ‘JerstelTrim’ ‘sandwoman’ whatever. Before it was all about me feeling a victim, the battle with whoever it is, the anonymous to me person, who could be Crown, Armistead or just one moderator, whose decision it was to keep me off their pages. I won that game and now the next stage is, to speak as a lover of poetry, incognito, hone my skills and move on.

    Who knows, maybe it really is over, the recording and live work’s going well, I might just carry on without it. Who knows. Noone will guess if I am there or nay anyway cos, if I am, I will be no different than everyone else, an anonymous name being polite and civil..

    Cheers..

    Thanks very much Mish, for letting my mental illness distill and sploge out here, for not bouncing me off here. You are a great level headed realists.

    Sincerely

    Anonymous

  109. Reine permalink
    February 21, 2011 10:51 AM

    Kevin, whatever way you try to dress it up your behaviour was, at the very least, bad manners. MM has manners in spades and it’s a particular cruelty I think to push such a person to the edge of his or her patience. Ideological experimentation is all well and good but keep it at an ideas level rather than using real people. I steered clear of the POTW last week for the same reason outlined above by Ed but I followed it with interest. If you truly have confidence in your own voice, use it and stop ventriloquising.

  110. February 21, 2011 11:14 AM

    Des you’d be better off channelling more Amergin and less Jeremy Beadle.

    There are many big fights to have out there. Causing confusion amongst people who most likely have some form of sympathy with the way the Guardian has treated you is a rather bewildering fight to start. If for no other sreason than that sympathy will get watered down progressively.

  111. February 21, 2011 11:37 AM

    EXPERIMENTAL ASSEMBLAGE. NO ONE WAS PHYSICALLY CONTACTED IN THE MAKING OF THIS. PLEASE, TAKE CARE IN CASE YOU DIE OF BOREDOM AND/OR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

    Yes, sorry about that Melton, and gullible. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive my bad manners, if nothing else the potw group has bonded round this erm (as described by the posters) ad feminam ‘kind of rape’, a thought-crime enacted by a ‘speech robot, less articulate than the famous Red Dragon’.

    Carol: The ‘the ones who weild a bit of fragile power in this pathetic little universe’ will not be put off by the ‘abuse’, tho I ‘expect younger poets & new poets to be more vuilnerable’ to being ‘raped’ online by the ‘racist’.

    F: ‘We all know how distressed and sad this makes’ the potw regs ‘we suffer with you, most of us’ and I suggest ‘if anyone decides to be a belligerent bore then let’s all just keep up the good work and continue with potw.’

    Carol: ‘If this was a private party, it might be funny to do an impersonation. But this is a public blog not just a coterie. I don’t think any poet here would be very happy if someone wrote in your name a sensible-sounding, truthful-sounding personal account of how you’d composed one of your poems. I will be complaining on Monday about what has happened, there will be no further blogs from me unless this is sorted.’

    D: Whoa. That is bad news, I hope you reconsider.

    M: ‘This is getting confusing. Now my post explaining that X was impersonating me has been removed.’

    G: ‘Might I suggest doubles and thick skins all round. Got one, just about to get the other.’

    P: I didn’t see “fat cow” or any impersonations of M myself.

    G: Begin the morning by saying to yourself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial, for no-one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth.

    M: Not sure what happened here, but if it was, as it seems it was The Idiot at his worst, then if you’re reading this, ‘Idiot, not clever at all. PotW is the best thing about the GU books blog, the reason to keep coming back. Please do not let a single idiot ruin it for you.

    S: Some serious transgression seems to have occurred, on a weekly basis, a sick user name that haunts this page, and has done so on other UK papers. I don’t know if this is the same person, all I know is that this page has one regular weird contributor that likes to play endless games via user names, and has done so on the London Times as well. I can see that it might be hard to resolve and still allow the freedom of speech, perhaps a computer expert can help.

    Please pay attention!

    C: It always should be assumed that the”..vile idiot who committed ID ‘rape’…”is a construction, not a piece of autobiography, and an ‘I’ in a”…long running bardic exercise “is part of that construction.

    F: The techno-master bomber’s
    on your tails
    There’s one whose comments
    I used to like
    Gone twirling towards the mountains
    Leaving now only a dark cloudy trail
    He’s drunk, of course, and his destructive
    Powers know no bounds..

    P: C, you can’t desert us – we will all be that much poorer without PotW. it’s unthinkable that we should give in to those who would wish to destroy what you have created here.

    Kevin: As a privacy-obsessed drama queen talking tripe all the time, I beg you, please, no, no, fyi Princess P, I have privacy settings on my FB. Go away, ‘racist’ ‘rapist’ ‘destroyer of all that’s good for me..

    F: Poetry is too important to allow it to be destroyed by the gross arrogant belligerent silly antics of a senseless joker.

    P: Those who would plunge a sword
    into the heart of C’s endeavor
    Will find that it is but a toy plaything
    Those who would abuse the word
    And think themselves so clever
    Will find their clowning is but fleeting

    To fellow comrades
    I drink a toast
    Show the sword of mockery
    It’s hollow boast

    T: That particular theft is peculiar and exceptional to on-line offences as I know them..

    F: D your clowning time is over
    You jeer and run for cover
    Even to you it’s now plain to see
    That no one here wants
    any more of your tomfoolery.

    S: This is a blog problem, and that means it also represents the blog freedom, so all that can be done is to pay attention to what people are doing (and most people are honest participants.)

    So to give up is to say that life is without freedom and free communication, so just pay attention to the weirdo’s and what they do, yet stay tuned to the open communication put forth by the entire world!

    How can we ever know which is honest and who is not?

  112. February 21, 2011 11:45 AM

    Oops, not that funny at the top, needs more editing. Please can you take my 11.37 am above, down please Mish.

    Thanks very much..

    Yeah, Ed, thanks for the tip. The next few weeks will be interesting now that particular phase of one’s learning has been passed.

    Cheers.

  113. February 21, 2011 3:52 PM

    Changing tack.

    I’m in 3 or 4 minds about Alan Bennett but this quote of his amused me “Arianna Stassinopoulos is so boring, you fall asleep halfway through her name.”

    • Reine permalink
      February 21, 2011 7:15 PM

      That is funny; Arianna might get in a huff about it…boombittyboom. Read some terribly anodyne interview with her lately about how she achieves her work-life balance and how her blow dry is always just so.

      Last I read of Bennett’s was The Uncommon Reader, which I have to say was very witty.

  114. Reine permalink
    February 21, 2011 7:08 PM

    I’m off to LA
    Get me some new tits
    Get off my tits
    Get away from the tits
    Get more tat for my tit
    More bang for my buck
    Land of sincerity
    Where no one gives a fuck

  115. Reine permalink
    February 21, 2011 10:15 PM

    Mishari must have flown to Kuwait to welcome the Prime Minister. (Now two people to miss… sigh). I’m off to weep into my pillow.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 21, 2011 10:44 PM

      That welcome would freeze the balls off a brass monkey.
      Sorry to be scarce, Re. Just a stuffed head and not much to relate…
      (Cannon balls, you know; I wasn’t being lewd ;)

  116. obooki permalink
    February 21, 2011 10:52 PM

    Present blog excepted, of course, and mostly thinking of the Guardian … but I’d like to put forward the theory that every comments section of every blog inevitably comes to be dominated by a small number of people whose comments everyone who reads the blog finds frustrating and tedious to the point that they give up going there altogether.

    Another theory I constructed today (whilst looking dispiritedly at the badly struck Isle of Man coin the sandwich man has passed to me in my change) is that the current downturn in the economy is not in fact the result of sub-prime mortgages or the greed of bankers, but can rather be put down to the royal mint’s decision to go with this particular abomination of design:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/gallery/2008/apr/02/photography

    introduced precisely five months before the collapse of everything: – enough time, that is, for people utterly to lose faith.

    Yesterday I finished a book called The World of the Shining Prince, but curiously there was no mention of Mishari in it at all.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 21, 2011 11:24 PM

      He’s a dark lantern, obooki.
      Would you be willing to expand on your objection to the designs?
      I wouldn’t wish to be found frustrating or tedious, but may I venture to say that on the whole I don’t dislike them.
      One factor that must have been taken into consideration is identification by palpation, for the vision impaired. I suppose the queen is still on the reverse sides? If so, that may be grounds for objection by many.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 22, 2011 12:16 PM

      erratum…
      ‘dark-lantern’

  117. February 21, 2011 11:31 PM

    I mentioned it before but Chris Goode’s Hippo World Guest Book theatre piece ( basically him reading out a series of comments ) really captures the blog effect in all its nuances.

    Hippo World was a genuine website for fans of the hippopotamus to wax lyrical about their love for the pachyderm. The show is basically Goode reading out real comments edited to show the way things drift online.

    To begin with it’s eccentric innocents chuntering on to each other in a funny but rather weird manner but only weird because it’s hard to believe people can be that enthusiastic about hippos. Goode’s skill is to not pass judgement on their OTT-ness.

    Then bored students discover the site and start making abusive comments, then the abusive comments start to get a bit too creepy and personal. When reading the comments Goode shouts when words are in capitals which emphasises the peculiarity of the behaviour

    Then spam starts to appear and eventually fills up the comment box until the site is swamped and has to close down. The spambot stuff is electronically treated voices on the soundtrack rather than read out live.

    Such a simple idea but put together so you feel that paradise has well and truly been corrupted and finally lost to us. I’m not sure if he still does it but really worth seeing if it he does and it’s on near you.

    • February 22, 2011 8:27 AM

      Is there a YouTube video of this, ET…?

    • February 22, 2011 9:32 AM

      None that I can find SA.

      I think he should “do a Spalding Gray” and get some director in to film it.

      He’s an interesting bloke – very into Kurt Schwitters, hence the use of found material and the use of sound in the way he reads it. But his work is patchy – Hippo Book is great as he lets the material speak for itself but I didn’t like the last one I saw which over-explained eveything.

  118. Reine permalink
    February 21, 2011 11:35 PM

    A tiny one may yield this for Bill. 3,6,6

  119. obooki permalink
    February 21, 2011 11:42 PM

    Yes Ed, that’s exactly what happens.

    As to the coins, they just look to me like they’ve been struck by an incompetent. Coin design should be utterly conservative; they are there to reassure people. British Lions being severed through the midriff might not be striking the right note.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 21, 2011 11:48 PM

      Oh I see, as if the registration is way off… ha!

    • Reine permalink
      February 21, 2011 11:52 PM

      I hope poor Matthew’s mother isn’t reading this. She probably has all of those coins mounted and framed!

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 22, 2011 1:15 AM

      I must say, they appeal to me after all. The old heraldic motifs are certainly conservative. The jigsaw puzzley sectioning is crisply proportioned unlike erratic ancient coins.
      I find their contemporary northern aesthetic beautiful…much better than that squashy commemorative Kate/William coin.

  120. February 22, 2011 4:25 AM

    There was a commenter on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation, America blog, Terreson; a southern poet, whose lengthy and considered article on internet poetry forums, is a brilliant, thought-provoking read. The essay, as all great ones are, comes not from a fixed point of opinion or pre-set position, telling the reader in authorative tones, a definitive ‘answer’; but, more, a questioning of exactly what it is occuring, humanly, concentrating on Terreson’s observations as an internet poetry veteran. Unknown, minor, yet this one piece is their very best (I’ve read) because it transcends the usual, off-the-cuff, extemprised, unconsidered tossed off response; because s/he’s put real thought into it:

    Notions of Community.

    Boards and rooms tend to place first emphasis on community cohesion, with poetry, poetry-related conversation, and the free exchange of ideas viewed as secondary. It is interesting to view a poem allowed in the name of free speech that expresses violence, threats of violence, bigotry, and sexism. Then to notice how the exchange of views in heated debate is closely monitored by moderators, often admonished, sometimes deleted from a forum as inflammatory. The contradiction is interesting. What it signifies is that a particular board’s community cohesion, and its culture, is an animal in its own right and takes precedence over the artistic project(s). The mantra frequently expressed is: ’be nice.’ The suspicion, however, is that what actually matters, and in top down fashion, is the board’s culture and not the poetry or the exchange over ideas concerning poetry. So the question becomes: does such a culture falsify the poetry experience? Does it tell the online poet, say, that parenthetical bitch language in a poem is okay, whereas honesty in critical discussion is not? My sense is that the free exchange of ideas is viewed as dangerous to community, but that poetry is not, since, it honestly doesn’t matter.

    ~

    S/he’s speaking specificially of poetry-crit board ‘community’s’ that are popular with online poets, Ablemuse being the one Terreson was(is) resident on.

    It’s fascintating tro read because /she articualtes what I thought but could ne’er well express:

    “does the poetry board infrastructure of moderators and site administrators benefit the poet and create a free range environment encouraging poetry? Closest to the point, does it actually engender the community the system is designed to keep in place? Here my question is rhetorical as I am persuaded the answer is no. I have spent some few years as both a board moderator and as a poetry chat room host. I am settled in the opinion that the greatest danger to poetry on line is the governing system of board moderators and site administrators, which system proves the Orwellian insight. All animals are created equal, some more than others. An insight that cannot be more abhorrent to artists in general, poets in particular, whose vocation requires they be slightly anarchistic, certainly free wheeling and passionate in their convictions, if they are to keep creative in their artistic personalities.

    I’ve heard all the arguments for the necessity of the governance, which is what it is. The salient of which might be that the system safeguards public poetry boards from so-called trollers. The history of the system suggests that the abuses meted out by moderators and site administrators with the tools to delete posts and ban members rather outweigh the safeguards. A poetry board’s rules and by-laws is often a matter of subjective interpretation, something that fundamentally comes into play.

    ~

    The on line poetry experience is not limited to the posting, public airing of a poem. Nor is it limited to the poet/critic exchange. To say it again, at its best it is a free range environment, call it a Montessori school yard. As the system stands I think it possible it is not just a failure, but a betrayal of the instinct for poetry. Back in 1991 Robert Bly put together a collection of essays on American poetry: “American Poetry: Wildness and Domesticity.” The collection includes an interview with Bly, conducted by Wayne Dodd. From the interview:

    “Dodd: ‘It may also be that poets will be afraid to risk doing the really different thing, that might seem to be profoundly true to them nonetheless, for fear of being accused of peeing on the floor.’

    Bly: ‘Oh, indeed! That’s right! I’m sure that the reviewers of Pound’s early work, which had a lot of freaky originality, accused him constantly of being poorly house-trained. What would originality look like today? . . . It’s possible that originality comes when the man or woman disobeys the collective. The cause of tameness is fear. The collective says: “If you do your training well and become a nice boy or girl we will love you.” We want that. So a terrible fear comes. It is a fear that we will lose the love of the collective. I have felt that intensely. What the collective offers is not even love, that is what is so horrible, but a kind of absence of loneliness. Its companionship is ambiguous, like mother love.’”

    In my view the collective Bly speaks of and the poetry board culture I draw attention to, at least as it perpetuates itself with an eye to its own maintenance, bear a certain family resemblance.”

    • February 22, 2011 8:25 AM

      But it’s in response to the ogre of group-think that the Artist goes off on her/his own and creates despite (or to spite) it. What the compulsively-original Artist never gets is immediate (or even pre-posthumous) acclaim and gratitude for the fundamentally impolite (and quasi-sexually intimate) act of self-directed creation. When was it not a lonely game? To use a timely metaphor: being a revolutionary Artist means having the guts to be the first to stand in the square and throw bottles at the tanks. But it also means knowing where that metaphor ends. Ie, don’t expect humanity to credit your sacrifice. Pay the price quietly and get on with it, Artists! No one begged you to Create.

  121. reine permalink
    February 22, 2011 8:22 PM

    Apropos of nothing… whistles, looks shifty, refills wine glass…

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      February 22, 2011 9:11 PM

      Not so chatty tonight. I’m in mid-move; I’ve managed to lose the one piece of kit I need to do my work (hopefully it’ll turn up when the boxes of shite are finally unleashed upon us next Monday); one client arbitrarily moved their deadlines forward by a day, and the removal men turned up a day early. Maybe it’s because I spent the day thinking about New Zealand.

      Miss the banter, loved the Cliff: I initially misread the programme ident as “Kuntlacht”, which was once the case with this blog. Take it easy, guys. X

    • reine permalink
      February 22, 2011 11:36 PM

      Poor Henry; that sounds pretty trying. Christchurch was horrific – flicking between that, Gaddafi and (unintentionally) comic election coverage here. Grim all round. Hope that having endured such upheaval, the bedding down will be peaceful and stress free for you. Your wit is still razor sharp.

      Good night all. x

  122. reine permalink
    February 22, 2011 11:44 PM

    A portly pronoun plays a sweet tune. (7)

  123. hic8ubique permalink
    February 23, 2011 2:20 AM

    I see the MM lure there… but I fear his nose is out of joint.
    Here’s one for you, Reine:

    • reine permalink
      February 23, 2011 7:53 AM

      Thanks Hic, I wouldn’t mind going for a ride with Michael.

      I don’t expect to lure MM back – I think I know enough to know he will not return unless or until he feels like it. Just my way of saying “hello” – to paraphrase my mother “Reine will never use a small word when she can use a crossword clue” so “The stygian gloom of an arsonist’s paradise, you don’t say? … MM” (5)

  124. hic8ubique permalink
    February 23, 2011 2:29 AM

    I can’t imagine sand is good for your hubs, but what do I know? I wouldn’t do that to a mountain-bike though.
    Here’s one for Moon…
    (Thinking of your poem, I remember being impressed by the combinations of cypress, pine, and palm trees rising on hillsides, and steroidal calla lilies.

  125. February 23, 2011 6:34 PM

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 23, 2011 11:14 PM

      ET, are you saying PH has become a ghost town? or are those meant to be protesters rushing toward Wisconsin?

      I’m working on rehabbing a 1-yr-old kitten with ptsd (my unofficial diagnosis). It’s been nearly 3 weeks, and sadly it’s not going encouragingly. I’ve found a way to get some valerian into her, which acts a bit like Valium I suppose, and now she’s only half-heartedly trying to bite me. She looks accusingly at me in a stoned half-lidded way as if I’m trying to poison her.
      I may have lost my touch, or she’s just the toughest customer. I’d swear she knows I’ve slipped her something, and surliness isn’t a significant improvement over her previous schizoid state.

      I’ve noticed the solar flare intensity here, apparent every clear day, while everything else is grey.
      We have grey half-melted snowbanks, grey salty roads, grey trees, grey people, well, drab people anyway.
      I’ve begun wearing Spring colours in earnest to compensate a bit.

  126. February 24, 2011 1:49 PM

    It’s been lovely mild spring days here since Saturday. The sky’s blue and the sun is a very pleasant 14C, an early warm spell, not quite T shirt weather but a light coat, certainly, is all you need at present in Dublin.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 24, 2011 8:48 PM

      This is about when I begin to buy Irish daffodils, since ours won’t be out for another two months.
      $2.50 a bunch to trumpet yellow about the place.

      I thought St. Augustine’s comment for you (of the 22nd) was excellent, Kevin.
      I didn’t quite get the ‘quasi-sexually intimate’ bit, but on the whole I thought it well-considered.

    • Reine permalink
      February 24, 2011 11:40 PM

      I took that to mean creation is a bit like the act of auto-pleasuring. One creates presumably and primarily to please oneself first … then others?? I may be totally off track and apologise to Steve if I am.

    • Reine permalink
      February 24, 2011 11:43 PM

      Didn’t express that very well, I mean that creation is inherently a private matter in the first instance… I am rather drunk after a heady and happy day so forgive the rambling (how unlike me).

    • February 25, 2011 12:46 AM

      Cheers, Hic… and Reine: (no pun intended) nails it

    • reine permalink
      February 25, 2011 1:25 AM

      Amn’t I a great girl all the same? Ha. x

  127. Reine permalink
    February 24, 2011 10:54 PM

    We have crocuses and snowdrops in the garden but no daffs blooming yet. It was a glorious day in Dublin town today. Many thanks Hic for your good wishes. Brought D out for lunch to commence the day’s 18th celebrations. He then took the car and went off to buy me a bottle of wine (being that he is now legit to purchase it). I may send him on a wine appreciation course!

  128. reine permalink
    February 25, 2011 1:24 AM

    Simon, if you drop in, hope all is going well. x

  129. reine permalink
    February 25, 2011 1:40 AM

    And now… sundry kisses for all those at whom I have directed none. Scientists have proven a direct correlation between alcohol units consumed and kisses dispensed but my affection is genuine. (Hold my glass, would you dear, while I peform a cartwheel…)

    xxxxxXXXXXXXxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXxx

  130. hic8ubique permalink
    February 25, 2011 3:48 AM

    Late to the party, but I get it after all.
    Y’know, St.A, our first non-conversation some ancient time ago was fraught with my total incomprehension.
    Do you remember? I was rather blunt at the time, but persistence pays off and… I understand you. You are too intellectual for my less rigourous mind by several multiplications, but n o w I get it.
    I may disagree, insofar as seeing onanism as perhaps anti-creative, but it hardly matters in this moment of bon homie.

    All due to your well-schooled intercession, dear Re. We may both regret our enthusiasm in the morning, but wasn’t it worth it?
    (I would have liked your girl there pitched up maybe just a half-step, but life is a grand thing anyway.)
    May the election bring hope and even joy if such is possible.

    Chalk one up for alcohol then; kisses are not to be regretted, nor a hot lemon with armagnac… ahh.

    Glory, I hope Mishari is on a Costa del Sol beach with his attentive family flicking sand on his book and applying emollients liberally but with tender care.

    Kitten update:
    Since I gave up having a clue, this is the second evening she’s presented herself for a snuggle. I just keep my hands away and she’s all affection. Me, daft primate, believing hands are an essential part of contact, my education continues…

    • February 25, 2011 9:00 AM

      “You are too intellectual for my less rigourous mind by several multiplications, but n o w I get it.”

      Nah (obviously)… but by magnitudes smuttier! To that will I cop (cue: lusty pirate shanty )

  131. February 25, 2011 4:30 AM

    I was in the Dragon tonight, talking to Enda Kenny’s personal colorist and comb-over technician, who said he has finally outed himself in the intelligence stakes, and is gonna shift from mousy-taupe to light chestnut honeysuckle-brown, to show his tougher, darker, more staesman-like side.

    Thanks Reen.

    It reminded of this song by the Spanish singer Mónica Naranjo, Sobreviviré (Survive), that I just re-discovered, and, not knowing the meaning of the original song that I heard in spring 2000, everywhere on the radio when I was staying with my sister and her family in the hills above Alicante; I translated it thru bablefish, because I thought: I dunno what the words in that song mean, even though the song itself had a lot of emotional effect ‘pon one all them years ago when I got second-hand, from my eldest sister Mary, what was going in in Casa Grand Hermono (Bigh Brither House), that was gripping the country, several months before it hit the UK in summer 2000. A European-wide cultural TV first, phenomenon, pre-cursor to the facebook revolution, Illuminati, Secret Societs, solar flares, all the crazy shit going on now in Dublin, with Martin and Kenny, Gimore, Adams and Gormley.

    I Will Survive.

    I have the anxiety of youth
    I am scared, just like you
    and each dawn I collapse
    when seeing reality.

    It does not have in the world,
    no nobody more fragile than I.

    Acrylic hair, leather and heel
    foundation, until in the heart
    and at dusk it returns to bloom
    lascivious, the city.

    It does not have in the world,
    no nobody harder than I.

    Ah, ah, ah, ah!

    I must survive, lying to me.
    Taciturn I sank in that one bar,
    where it said me to an angel
    when entering:

    ” They see and elévate
    like the blue smoke,
    you do not undergo more amor.

    And tearing to me something in my life
    changed. I will survive, I will look for a home
    between the rubbish of my solitude.

    Strange paradise, where you are not,
    And although it hurts I want freedom
    although it damages me. Ah, ah, ah, ah!

    I must survive, lying to me. Taciturn I sank
    in that one bar, where it said to me, an angel
    when entering:

    ” They see and elévate like the blue smoke,
    you do not undergo more amor”

    And tearing to me something in my life changed.
    I will survive, I will look for a home
    Between the rubbish of my solitude.

    Strange paradise, where you are not,
    And although it hurts I want freedom
    although it does damage to me…

  132. February 25, 2011 4:31 AM

    oops

  133. February 25, 2011 4:36 AM

    The html code won’t make the video appear.

    What the hell is going on?

    Sort it, right fucking now.

    I will not continue, until it is fucking sorted.

  134. February 25, 2011 9:47 AM

    So SA you’re now into auto pleasuring. Well I suppose it was only a matter of time until someone took the next step from Ballard’s “Crash”.

    btw Agree with the general summing up of the artistic creative impulse. In the performing arts the audience get a bit more tangled up in the process as you have the opportunity of doing something with them ( I’ve asked for for this haven’t I?). In one of our shows connected to the flick books sent to SA and Reine we lowered a counterweighted big box onto 10 people’s heads. Holes on the underside of the box meant the heads passed inside where they found their heads were all in tiny beds( like the drawing in the flick-book ) in a weird dormitory/bedroom.

    I guess it’s about technique – making sure everyone can see and that they “get” the image being equivalent to making sure your writing is fluid and as expressive as it needs to be.

    • Reine permalink
      February 25, 2011 11:21 AM

      I regret neither kisses nor wine.

      To your credit and my shame, it was the smut I understood Hic!

      I have that book on my desk at work Ed and have a flick whenever I need momentary escape from the ennui – (no auto pleasuring subtext here). Thanks again.

      “Strange paradise, where you are not…” I like that.

      …I must to the polling booth wielding my HB.

    • February 25, 2011 12:35 PM

      “So SA you’re now into auto pleasuring. Well I suppose it was only a matter of time until someone took the next step from Ballard’s ‘Crash’.”

      ET! Wha…? Huh…?

      (from i-phone in overturned Trabant)

  135. February 25, 2011 5:46 PM

    Next door to my workshop there’s a garage where they tint windscreens, buff chrome and admire leatherette trimmings. It’s always full of young men.

    I haven’t noticed any Ballard books lying around but there aren’t any calendars with photos of nude women on the walls – very unusual for a garage.

    I used to know some mechanics who were right-on types and even they felt obliged to have nude-women calendars on the walls. I guess it gives the customers a clue as to where they are.

    so something is amiss. Will snoop further and then spread baseless rumours. Maybe I’ll skip the snooping completely and just spread the rumours.

    • February 25, 2011 7:17 PM

      “I haven’t noticed any Ballard books lying around but there aren’t any calendars with photos of nude women on the walls – very unusual for a garage. ”

      Speaking of The Gender Roles of Real Working Men…

      About 20 years ago, I was working with a road crew of five mustached-n-mulleted gents, from deep in East Germany, who took very long cig breaks and spoke only of f–cking, fighting and the muscle cars of their dreams. That whole hot summer we drove around East Berlin in a strangely-designed (vintage communist) truck, fixing little roads and assembling playgrounds made from railroad ties (still have a scar on my shoulder from that). The whole front of the cab was taken up by a bulbous windshield that made me feel like I was being driven around in an old television as I was always forced to sit up front between the thigh-armed foreman who was driving the thing and the wiry little bastard who never addressed me directly, both of whom had self-inked, crudely heraldic tattoos on the backs of their hands.

      And one morning we found ourselves driving behind a very pretty girl in red shorts on a bicycle. And so naturally we followed her, at a menacing crawl, for about 3 kilometers… so close that I could actually hear her telling us, over her shoulder, to fuck off. And there I was on display in the bulbous green windshield of the Rape Lorry trying my very best to look like a feminist .

  136. February 25, 2011 7:44 PM

    SA! As a counterpoint to your lorryful of unreconstructed construction workers I used to work in a furniture-making factory for a summer after I left school aged 16. I had to start work at 7.30 and after clocking in I had to run the unavoidable gauntlet of 3 women on the glueing department. “Show us your penis love” was the regular request but very often there was a more physical attempt to see what I had on offer . I can only imagine the sheer amount of glue in the air was the reason for their ribaldry – that plus the delight in humiliating the latest employee. Imagine it all in a Somerset accent.

    My proudest moment in the world of proper work was at the same factory. I instigated a Friday lunch-time drinking session that got so out of control that one afternoon the factory had to be closed down due to alcoholic over-indulgence. Several people including the shop steward had to be sent home early.

    • February 25, 2011 8:32 PM

      Sounds like a tale from a Socialist paradise, ET… why ever did you quit? (Or did you…?) Never worked in a factory, myself, unless you count the time I painted one… (are we the only two proles on PH?)

  137. February 25, 2011 8:47 PM

    I got a job in a bicycle shop …with 2 full-time acid heads. Then a job at the forestry commission clearing weeds then art school. Natural progression.

    I should think most here have put in time labouring. In the UK it was possible to drift aimlessly from job to job 30 plus ( gawd ) years ago. Nowadays there’s only about 10 jobs left. As MM put it so well Cameron and Osborne seem to think jobs will create themselves like the ancient Greeks thought – spontaneously out of the mud.

  138. February 25, 2011 9:05 PM

    11 jobs then

  139. February 25, 2011 10:55 PM

    There are quite a lot of wankers in the banks too. If the bank authorities are a stringent as the taxi licensing authorities jobs will come flooding back.

    With auto pleasuring thrown into the mix the economic recovery starts here!

  140. reine permalink
    February 25, 2011 10:59 PM

    I have worked as a shop girl (always reach in to the back of the fridge/shelf for the freshest goods), on the production line on a factory floor (wearing a very flattering elasticated nappy liner hair cover), as a secretary/receptionist (where I was the calendar!), in a British Telecom paging bureau in Ealing (the least fun of the lot), in a laundry (not Magdalen although I was with child during my second stint there), as editor of a “magazine” for the unemployed (lots of crosswords and earnest editorials) prior to and during the course of completing my education. Do I qualify as a prole? I’m still one, really, come to think of it.

    • February 25, 2011 11:32 PM

      For some reason, Reine, I never think of women as proles. That’s my particle of sexism acting up… or a sexual kink: no matter who I’ve been with, I liked to think of myself as their edgy bit of rough, tracking the soot of my working class vitality across and over the fey divan of their parlor… or suchlike

    • reine permalink
      February 25, 2011 11:52 PM

      Nothing wrong with a bit of working class vitality. As I have said here before, I am a big fan of gamekeeper sorts fighting the good fight and getting down and dirty in the woodshed. Contrast is all.

  141. February 25, 2011 11:34 PM

    “(always reach in to the back of the fridge/shelf for the freshest goods)”

    It drives Germans mad when I do this. They seem to think I’m cheating

    • reine permalink
      February 25, 2011 11:55 PM

      It drives me mad when my husband won’t obey my instruction and buys yoghurt that’s out of date tomorrow; requires creative thinking to get rid of it. ‘night you dirty devil you.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 26, 2011 3:24 AM

      It’s worth it though that they do the marketing, even if they must be sent back for fresh chickens.

  142. hic8ubique permalink
    February 26, 2011 3:29 AM

    Germans also won’t cross the street until it’s officially ‘time to cross the street’, even in the absence of traffic.
    The bus-drivers pretend not to speak any English until one makes such a fool of oneself with atrocious Deutsch that there’s nothing left to lose…

    hic (with urgency) : ‘Flugzeug? zum Flugzeug? Gehen wir nach dem Flugzeug?!!
    ( killing myself at the memory)

    My imagination of ‘prole’ is in direct opposition to the freelance gigging sort who chat here. Even Reine, who seems to be the one who is most conventionally employable, doesn’t like it much. It seems to me a prole is the person who can bear to fulfill someone else’s concept of what wants doing and when. Maybe I’m making that up…

    I’d love to heartily refute your sense of my capacity for smuttiness, St. A, but my bourgeois pretensions to decorum inhibit the impulse. Be assured, I enjoyed the ‘jerking of the cab’ account. Sometime I’ll post you a bawdy old song.
    Were you aware that the gag-reflex too can be progressively inhibited?

    As to factory experience, I had a brief summer stint silk-screening images on tee-shirts, in ’80? Scooped ice-cream one summer; that hardly counts. Shop-girl otherwise. Being the eldest, I was not permitted to work as a ‘waitress’ as they were then called, but expectations were relaxed by the time my sisters were of working age. My only real ‘job’ was managing a gold-smith’s retail establishment for three years. I was in my mid-20’s then, mostly ornamental, but I had a short commute, and control of the ventilation. I dropped it to have my son and then go back to school, and have been relentlessly self-employed ever since.

  143. February 26, 2011 8:35 AM

    I toured Germany with a Dutch company in the early 80’s. There’s enormous antagonism between the 2 countries – many of the company had parents or grandparents who were starved to feed the German army. In several towns it only took sitting in the wrong place in the park, or indeed crossing the road on a red pedestrian light for the “offenders” to be admonished by an elderly citizen which in turn ignited the Dutch animosity.

    In one Rathaus ( wonderful word ) there was a poster of wanted terrorists. we reckoned these were people who hadn’t returned library books or were 10 minutes late collecting their kids from school.

  144. February 26, 2011 8:38 AM

    “Were you aware that the gag-reflex too can be progressively inhibited?”

    Goodness gracious!

    (using my daughter’s PC until she wakes up, because mine was making a funny noise, which will explain the lack of an avatar to go with this comment)

  145. February 26, 2011 8:46 AM

    “Germans also won’t cross the street until it’s officially ‘time to cross the street’, even in the absence of traffic.”

    Remind me to tell you what happened to me once at 4am as I was staggering home from a disco. Well, I’ll tell you now. It was the dead of night and winter, both, and I crossed against the red on a tiny side street in the vicinity of which nothing on wheels had moved for hours (or weeks). And a second-storey window went flying open and a man in his dressing gown began to berate me loudly for violating German law. He was still shouting something about Vietnam when I was a block gone. Not making any of that up. But then, I’ve been castigated, here, for “walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk”, too. That’s all changed a bit over the years, luckily.

  146. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 26, 2011 1:23 PM

    I emailed the boss earlier in the week (your gmail address) to apologise for my flounce on Sunday, but it didn’t dawn on me that he was away until the next day. I’ve been away for a few days myself. I hope he’s not on a Eurostar with thousands of French rugby fans.

    Anyway, thanks for your very kind remarks. My amour propre is invincible, and I hold no brief for the Guardian, but I thought Desmond Swords’ crude personal abuse of Carol Rumens crossed a line. She does not come from a privileged background, did not attend Oxbridge and made her name in the poetry world by talent and application: why she (or anyone else for that matter) should be persecuted in this way is beyond me.

    I hope I can make a comeback if the boss permits it.

    Those crossword clues are bloody difficult.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 26, 2011 1:52 PM

      Jj MM w J duP, you must never go down to the end of town without consulting me.

      Of course you’re right, but we’ve missed you, being left to jolly each other along.
      It’s grand to have you back in the bosom of cameraderie.

      At least it was clear you were cooling off. In the case of JBC, the last we heard, the antibiotics for a chest infection weren’t working.
      At least I didn’t worry that you’d dropped off the twig.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 26, 2011 7:41 PM

      Thanks, hic. Yes, I’ve wondered about Jack.

      Looks like Enda Kenny may be the new Taoiseach, a Mayo man. Local boy makes good.

  147. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 26, 2011 1:27 PM

    She does not come from a privileged background, did not attend Oxbridge and made her name in the poetry world by talent and application

    These being the usual reasons why people get the attention of the class warriors on the books blog, of course.

  148. February 26, 2011 1:45 PM

    Welcome back MM. I was perilously close to having to repeat the Hockney/ WH Auden gag again as I was beginning to run low on material. A lucky escape for all concerned.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 26, 2011 7:30 PM

      It’s an evergreen, ET.

      Watch the match? Dans votre visage, M. Crapaud!

  149. hic8ubique permalink
    February 26, 2011 2:00 PM

    Phenomena not allowed in The People’s Republic of Cambridge, but ok in Hamburg:

    ~ Heroin addicts approaching to beg as one dines inside a restaurant.
    ~ Strolling on the pavement with an open beer bottle.
    ~ Dogs in restaurants.
    ~ Assembly of addicts along the row of ATMs who ask for handouts during ones banking transaction.
    ~ the Reeperbahn (a word up there with Rathaus, ET, yes?)

    Not allowed in Hamburg:

    ~ Standing waiting for the bus in a bike-lane… even when there’s still room for three abreast to cycle past.

    Tell us about your interesting scar, St. A. Was that from the days of open shoulder surgery? Or was it just a laceration? Keloid or at all hypertrophic? Do tell.

    • February 26, 2011 3:50 PM

      Well Hic (he said, adopting that yarn-spinning tone of his and a faraway manly man’s glint in his one good eye), it’s just the faintest streak of discoloration on my right shoulder now… beige on copper. Caused when der chief mullet decided to assemble the jungle-gym-type playground complex we had been sent to a village grade school with (a thing made of huge old recycled railroad ties and various steel factory scraps) 25 meters from the spot it was intended to actually rest on, to be anchored by four deepish, tree-trunk-sized holes pre-dug in the sand. I mean, he did it on purpose. I was scowling the whole time we were ratcheting the thing together. What was his master plan? Was he simply a beer-guzzling, whore-pinching berk with an ACDC record for a brain or was there a deeper strategy involved? I guess we’ll never know.

      When it was assembled, after a whole morning’s effort (and outweighed a manned Volkswagen), one-or-two-of-us-per-leg had to lift it about 10 cms off the earth and grunt-scuttle it over bumpy ground to its anchor holes. It was hard enough to move the monster but the punchline came when the Kr… I mean, Teutons… decided to simply frigging drop it without a signal or a count-down. Meaning I was still hugging my rough-hewn post for dear life when it dropped two feet. Taking some shoulder skin with it. Hilarity ensued.

  150. February 26, 2011 4:06 PM

    (to protect us from further yarn-spinning on my part: that was a joke about the “one good eye”)

  151. February 26, 2011 4:10 PM

    is this related somehow?

    http://www.megaupload.com/?d=9WXZN64W

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 26, 2011 8:26 PM

      Sad to say, I can’t open it, but here’s that ‘edgy bit of rough’ I promised you:
      (no eye-patch, but near enough)
      and thanks for indulging my curiosity with your manly-man tale of woe.

    • February 26, 2011 8:34 PM

      Is that bit of rough 80 grit or 100, Hic? (nice shanty)

  152. Reine permalink
    February 26, 2011 8:12 PM

    Warm embraces to you prodigal one.

    For the record…
    Wee Willie Winkie, Fatigue, Hello.

    “Reine in the most conventionally employable…” – damned with faint praise Hic! ;). Completely agree with your understanding of prole. As one who has always worked as a public/civil servant in my “proper” jobs (teaching first and currently for the Government), I am always fulfilling some kind of expectation. Not, mind you, that I think there isn’t great satisfaction to be derived or value inherent in some of these jobs. I cling to the consolation that in my current position, I am classed as a “professional grade”, recruited specifically for the job I do as opposed to being a nomad who can be redeployed on a whim. Having a real talent would seem to be the passport to freedom from working for the man.

    I had to reread your “marketing” comment before I realised you meant “shopping” or as we say here “doing the messages”. I absolutely abhor supermarkets and am very lucky that he likes wandering up and down freezing aisles price comparing. Give me the farmers’ markets and artisan producers any day of the week and I will happily fill my string bag (with sloe gin and cheese). As HI was glued to the election coverage, monitoring results and fielding phone calls, I was however today obliged to hump into Tesco at his behest and get him some Koppaberg cider for his private party. Imagine me in all my finery hefting it and a box of Corona to the till. Very prole.

    Election count fever here. Government has been given a complete bollocking – Fianna Fáil and Green Party wiped out – new regime to be led by Fine Gael and (almost certainly) Labour Party coalition. At least some colourful Independents on the way in to lighten the gloom.

    Steven, I misread your comment as ” a faraway glint in his manly man’s eye”, fnarr.

    • Reine permalink
      February 26, 2011 8:37 PM

      Kopparberg, pardonnez moi.

    • February 26, 2011 8:37 PM

      “Steven, I misread your comment as ‘a faraway glint in his manly man’s eye’, fnarr.”

      What a roller-coaster for the libido these 36-hours of PH commenting have been

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 26, 2011 8:41 PM

      Droll not prole, you. I very much admire your ability to have a ‘real’ job… benefits, a pension
      (imagine that!) and seniority, which is something to celebrate.
      I actually call it the Hunter-Gathering, and am truly grateful to be the one who does only the supplemental green-grocer errands.
      Never tried sloe gin. It must be sweet?

    • Reine permalink
      February 26, 2011 9:01 PM

      What’s that Steven? I lost the bloodflow to my brain there momentarily as I laced up my basque.

      My friend makes her own sloe gin Hic, have only had it in cocktail form so not sure what it tastes like neat.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 26, 2011 11:39 PM

      No wonder those clues were so hard. They seem to lack definitions.

      I’ve made a lot of sloe gin in the past – tried to give a bottle to the Prince last year but he turned it down. Wonderful stuff.

    • Reine permalink
      February 26, 2011 11:57 PM

      So much for the thought counting!!

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      February 27, 2011 12:05 AM

      Loved the thought, of course, and the mental exercise was welcome. I’ll send you some sloe gin in the autumn.

    • Reine permalink
      February 27, 2011 12:11 AM

      I’ll hold you to that.

  153. Reine permalink
    February 26, 2011 8:15 PM

    Snap MM. Yes, a Mayo man but I am not a Fine Gael voter nor an Enda loyalist – he has had a trying year with a leadership heave against him only last June so his success is a right fingers up to his detractors within and outside the party. It will be no bad thing for Mayo though.

  154. hic8ubique permalink
    February 26, 2011 9:10 PM

    Oh, I didn’t realise he was Basque.

    • Reine permalink
      February 27, 2011 12:17 AM

      He is sitting on the end of the bed now giving me election updates by constituency (there are 43!) and he may as well be speaking Basque. Today is his Christmas day so I haven’t the heart to tell him he is boring a hole in my head.

  155. February 26, 2011 10:45 PM

    Melton, please can you produce the ‘crude personal abuse’ of Carol Rumens you reckon I wrote.

    Thank you very much.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 26, 2011 11:42 PM

      Don’t push it Kevin. You are on thin ice here. I’m not prepared to go another week without the company of MM due to your shenanigans.

  156. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 26, 2011 11:41 PM

    Kevin, can you go and fuck yourself?

    Thank you very much.

  157. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 26, 2011 11:48 PM

    Sorry about that. Another email of apology on its way.

    Seriously, Kevin, I think we should agree to ignore each other (which, incidentally, was what I was doing before you decided, unasked, to post a poem of mine on POTW with a sneering commentary, and then impersonate me on the blog).

  158. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 27, 2011 12:44 AM

    So now it’s time for me to choose
    a candidate who fits my views:
    is it Green, Orange, Blue or Red?
    Oh, I don’t know: I vote for bed.

  159. hic8ubique permalink
    February 27, 2011 4:40 AM

    Reine’s accessorised; fuschia, black leopard
    spots are what seem to be peppered
    on her trendy scarf and hat.
    At least she wears faux when it’s cat.
    ~
    Watched Everlasting Moments tonight. It’s rare that I enjoy a film as much as I did that one.

    • Reine permalink
      February 27, 2011 10:24 AM

      Hic, cat as in feline or catmalogen?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 27, 2011 2:44 PM

      Is it catmalojan
      rhymes with Trojan?
      or catmaloggan
      like toboggan?
      or catmalogan
      as in Airport: Logan?
      ‘Nah!’ says St. A.
      it’s the feline way.

      Love the word, and the wardrobe changes. x

    • Reine permalink
      February 27, 2011 3:50 PM

      Yes, malogen as in Trojan… I wondered if the word had travelled. The abbreviation “cat” used here to describe something awful or desperate … often used about appearance e.g. “Her hair was cat”.

      “Trojan” is the nickname conferred on me by my youngest sister, so-called because as the eldest of three girls, I am the only one who every does any work when we are all at home together. She and my other sister loll about chatting while I potwallop and serve them their dinner. The Martha to their Marys.

      It causes much confusion when she greets me “Trojan, how are ya?” in company. Trojan Delaney is my full title or TD for short because one night at my wits’ end, ferrying cups of tea and plates of sandwiches from the kitchen down the steps into the living room, I said “I’m like fucking Ronnie Delaney up and down these steps all evening”. Daddy told me the language didn’t become me and winked at the others. Hilarity all round as I stomped off.

    • Reine permalink
      February 27, 2011 4:04 PM

      Ronnie Delaney was Irish Olympian middle distance runner.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 27, 2011 4:15 PM

      Grandmother called me a ‘wicked cat’, but with only great affection. I’ve never heard ‘catmalogen’ , but will be mulling over applications for such a corker.
      Sadly, I must be off to make guacamole for an open house… x

  160. Kevin permalink
    February 27, 2011 8:15 AM

    ‘Melton’, forgive me for being normal.
    I asked you a very simple question, that you seem very angry about.

    You’ll have to excuse me,

  161. How old am I? permalink
    February 27, 2011 8:19 AM

    ‘Melton’, forgive me for being normal.
    I asked you a very simple question, that you seem very angry about.

    You’ll have to excuse me, I am only a very simple person. Can you show evidence for your claim, that I, Kevin Desmond, wrote… what, exactly. please?

    I don’t have the pleasure of knowing you, and you seem very keen to slander me. This is the real world, please, put up or shit up. Show me the text, right fucking now!!!

  162. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 27, 2011 10:13 AM

    Kevin, I apologise if I have offended you in any way, and unreservedly withdraw any allegation or charge I may have made against you and your good name.

    Now, can we ignore each other?

  163. Reine permalink
    February 27, 2011 10:20 AM

    MM, I was dreaming about you! You were touring the west of Ireland with Mrs. M and called to my parents to deliver the sloe gin. Daddy phoned to say you were “a grand fella” and I asked him if he got your name, hoping to catch the real thing. “Eminem” I thought he said, “What is this sloe gin stuff Reine, would it be any good for my cough?”

  164. February 27, 2011 1:48 PM

    What did MM look like in your dream, reine? I’ve had several dreams about online, unseen folk and it’s strange how the brain constructs a visual impression of someone only known through their words.

    Once, MM, you were recognisable because your username was embossed on your forehead, another time you were younger, smaller, more timid and Tom Hollanderish than I imagine you actually are. In real life, I imagine a robust cross pollenation twixt Hemingway and le Mesurier.

    I’ve never worked in a factory. I worked in a shop for several years, which was fun. Then on-the-street charity fundraising, which has now been the employment option of choice for feckless youth for a decade now and my how the standards have slipped since my day. Data input in an open-plan office, check…

    • Reine permalink
      February 27, 2011 3:59 PM

      I imagine you as having longish hair, tall, slim… maybe a leather jacket (cool one not a naff one) Am I even warm?

  165. Reine permalink
    February 27, 2011 3:40 PM

    Well, I didn’t see him, you see, in the dream, Exitb, only heard about his visit but I imagine him to look a bit like this (Lawrence played by McKellen)…

    And I suspect he might have a Barbour jacket.

  166. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    February 27, 2011 4:02 PM

    Arrived “home” yesterday. The house is four times the size of the one we left behind. I spent a while striding indoors, something I haven’t done for many years. The new television arrived and was assembled; England beat France; I went to bed; today, went for lunch at my new local (run by a French couple, wouldn’t you know it), came away hungry but drunk; walked around the salt marshes of Lymington harbour in my Barbour (a utilitarian garment without style connotations in France) and returned home, drenched by a storm of tropical intensity. The dogg, after his week-long séjour in the New Forest, has diarrhorea so acute it alternates between liquid and vapour. A good start, then.

    • Reine permalink
      February 27, 2011 4:05 PM

      Hurrah! Hope you will be very happy there. xx

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 27, 2011 4:11 PM

      Well done, Moon. Good to hear, and lovely to know you have such excellent dog-walking prospects in your new realm. I saw a 6’6″ client yesterday morning, and naturally thought of you. It must feel amazing to wear a house that fits.

  167. hic8ubique permalink
    February 27, 2011 4:04 PM

    I dreamt of Mishari. He was carrying his eldest daughter across his arms in the chivalrous posture of a knight bearing a damsel across the ford of a stream. The impression was a lovely blending of assertion with tenderness.
    I agree with you, ExitB. Sometimes the sense of an online persona is so powerful, I feel sure I’d know the individual in physical presence at a glance. But sometimes hardly at all, and they remain nebulous. Of course, a photo does give the mind something to animate, and I’m always listening for the voice.

  168. February 27, 2011 5:00 PM

    Hic, you’ve reminded me of a dream I had a few weeks ago. I was living in an unaccountably lavish apartment. The doorbell rang and dozens of guests began arriving, principally the PH gang – yourself included- as if for a party. I had no memory of arranging the gathering and had no food or drink. People began asking for complicated, luxurious cocktails. To save face I simply took the orders and left the room as if to fetch the non-existent ingredients. I ended up hiding from everyone in a room with an indoor carp pond.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 28, 2011 3:35 AM

      Exit, I would never have dreamt of arriving at your dream party without an explicit invitation.
      You and Reine each need a lesson in effective delegation, she to obviate doing everything, and you to compensate for doing nothing.
      I’d happily undertake to make the cocktails; each guest would get a gin and tonic. MM would bring the gin, and Re would serve from a sterling art deco salver.You see how easy dreams can be?
      Speaking of hosts, I miss ours ever more acutely. It’s a boon to find you here swarming in to give comfort in time of agita, ExB.

    • Reine permalink
      February 28, 2011 9:06 AM

      Gin makes me cry Hic, it could all get horribly messy. Picture me, lying against HLM’s manly chest, mascara bleeding into his cambric shirt as he pats me on the head and gesticulates to MM to do something. MM ignoring him as he waves his own G&T above his head, accidentally spilling some on Captain Ned as he signs the guest book. Ed and Exit on the balcony smoking; Mishari surveying the scene with characteristic poise, albeit a slightly pained constipated look; you on door duty… opening it late in the proceedings only for St. A to burst in, a burlesque performer on each arm. Kevin, of course, would be there reciting a very long poem with sangfroid as the scene descends into chaos around him. And then Simon arriving with a bottle of vodka, which is what I should have been drinking in the first place.

      Sorry, I got a bit carried away.

    • February 28, 2011 10:51 AM

      Can one man swarm? If anyone can, it’s probably me. Thanks for the g’n’t assistance. It was a high class of guest, ambassadors etc. A few nights ago I dreamt I was hanging out with David Cameron, eating hard-boiled eggs.

      I have strange memories of gin. I spent a lot of time, years ago, with a family who lived in a house on the side of a dormant volcano in the Auvergne. At 5pm every day the gin began pouring unrelentingly as family and attendant guests and hangers-on doused themselves towards either hilarity or carnage, you could never tell which way the swizzle-stick would bend. So, I’ll stick with beer. Or wine if it’s a posh do. I don’t mind which type of wine; they’re both fine.

    • Reine permalink
      February 28, 2011 11:10 AM

      Exit, you never told me if I was on the right track in my impression of you above. Perhaps you are deliberately avoiding answering to maintain mystique, in which case let’s pretend nothing was said and forgive my trespass with a wave of your priestly wand.

    • February 28, 2011 11:39 AM

      Sorry, Reine, I didn’t see that. Still not used to the comments appearing above as well as below. Well, you’re right about the leather jacket. And it’s certainly not naff. The lining’s real lambswool and I look after it properly so it’s kept that first-day shine, not like some of the scruffs you see who look like they stole theirs from James Dean’s nine-day corpse.

      But there’s no mystery – there’s a big photo of me somewhere on my blog, looking awestruck at the ineffable beauty of art/gormless. And if anyone were to do an image search under one or more of my professional pseudonyms, hard-drives would be impounded in some of the more ‘traditional’ US states.

    • Reine permalink
      February 28, 2011 11:48 AM

      Will search when I return … lambswool, no less? See ya ’round.

  169. February 27, 2011 8:24 PM

    XB I saw a look of intense dissappointment flicker across your face when we met in Greenwich. From my comments you obviously pictured a young, sophisticated, svelte, urbane metrosexual and instead you got a podgy 53 year old with broken glasses and receding hair.

    You were very diplomatic but I saw the subliminal shudder of shock as you approached.

    I expected you to look like your avatar complete with surrounding box-shaped yellow glow.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      February 28, 2011 3:22 AM

      for Alarming

      EdT keeps a head
      at the end of his garden
      it’s lodged in his shed
      and begging your pardon
      but please wear your avatar
      box when you visit
      or he’ll lower one on you,
      a bedroom, or is it
      a room to receive guests
      as features of clay?
      until, boxed in, they join up
      in human array.
      ‘Stroth! the man perseveres,
      since the skull is too plain
      to extinguish his fears
      for containment of brain.

    • February 28, 2011 1:44 PM

      To keep it still the brain needs chocks
      Better still contain it in a box
      Strap it down til the rope is taught
      Enough to restrain an unruly thought.
      The effect of straps that control the thinking
      May suggest that someone has been drinking.

  170. February 27, 2011 9:23 PM

    ET, I think you misread my reaction. I was disappointed, but only because I had always assumed you actually were the giant head. When I realised the whole thing was trickery and artifice perpetuated by a pleasant but normally proportioned man, there was – it’s true – a brief moment of readjustment. A bit like the end of the Wizard of Oz.

    I chose not to wear my Flemish plague-priest’s vestments to avoid upsetting any visitors who may have remembered those unhappy times. My yellow corona, however, is ever-present but more visible after twilight.

  171. February 27, 2011 10:19 PM

    XB – it all makes complete sense now you explain it like that.

    Just watched “Catfish” – anyone seen that? Our blog-host sent me a CDR with it on. Very interesting in the light of what’s happened here over the last week or so.

  172. February 27, 2011 11:28 PM

    I haven’t watched this film, Ed.

    I did read a true story, several years ago, a three-way online internet romance that ended in a second-degree homicide trial for one of them. It is the subject of a 2009 documentary, Tallhotblonde, and is about two middle-aged posters who met online and both strung each other along that they were over 20 years younger.

    Tall hot blonde, was the internet nickname of ‘Jessi’, a middle-aged mother posing online as her 17 year old daughter, using her pictures and who began an online romance with Thomas Montgomery, whose internet name was ‘Tommy’, a married, factory-working father of two teenagers, posing as a 21 year old marine recently returned from Iraq, using a 25 year old photograph of himself in the corps.

    Montgomery’s wife found out about it and sent the teenage ‘Jessi’ pictures and proof that her beau was really a middel-aged fantasist. Montgomery boasted at his work, about having an 18 year old online girlfriend, and one of his co-workers, and the only one to be honest about who he was online, 22-year-old Brian Barrett, subsequently began an online relationship with the same woman, after Montgomery’s deception was revealed to her, and she started flirting with one of his colleagues to get revenge.

    Montgomery shot him in their work car-park, and it was only after he was arrested and charged, that the truth about his 18 year old middle-aged fantasist, came out.

  173. February 27, 2011 11:41 PM

    Here’s an in-depth account of the story at Wired. The interesting thing here is that both parties fell for the porkies each other told, until ‘Jessi’ found out she was being lied to, and the poor sap, shooting his love-rival, infatuated with an 18 year old who was, in reality, an old bag who’d been spinning him along all the time also, only finding out what a muppet he’d been, after killing the one honest person in the three-way web of lies and deceit.

    • February 28, 2011 12:10 PM

      nothing fatal happens in Catfish Kevin. It all ends as well as a film about a delusional middle-aged painter who pretends her 8 year old has painted the work, who makes up Facebook friends to big up the paintings and who invents a “hot” elder “singer-songwriter” daughter with Facebook page for one of the film-makers to have text-sex with can end.

      If you like films that make you feel a bit queasy, if you like films that are quite creepy for intentional and possibly unintentional reasons and if you like not knowing whether what’s on film actually happened then this is the film for you! 5 stars bro.

  174. Reine permalink
    February 28, 2011 8:26 AM

    Making the most of last few hours of Internet access… HI and I heading away for the night to see how we will cope for a 24 hour period together without the intervention of laptops. He told me he would Google me instead whatever that means.

    Come back soon Mish, we’re rudderless, like the Waltons without Grandpa.

  175. February 28, 2011 2:54 PM

    Iran in going to boycott the Olympics because the logo apparently spells out ‘Zion’:

    “In a formal complaint to the International Olympic Committee, Tehran has called for the graphic to be replaced and its designers “confronted”.”

    I would love to be there when the designers are ‘confronted’. I had to boycott my porridge this morning because the raisins spelled out ‘Glenn Beck’.

  176. February 28, 2011 3:00 PM

    The Brazil nuts in my morning muesli spelled out “Jeremy Cunt”. They have since aplogised for any offence caused.

  177. February 28, 2011 3:03 PM

    I apologise for writing “aplogised”.

  178. February 28, 2011 4:28 PM

    Aplogy not accepted.

  179. February 28, 2011 9:51 PM

    bgger

  180. Reine permalink
    March 1, 2011 8:44 PM

    Well, ye are all very quiet today. Can’t find a pictorial image of you Exit so will retain the marvellous mental one I have of you.

    Our muesli spelled out “don’t ever come back to this hotel again” but the change of scene was welcome before all hell breaks loose work-wise.

    • Reine permalink
      March 1, 2011 8:45 PM

      Yes, the bowls were huge.

  181. March 1, 2011 8:50 PM

    PH is quiet. I thought ET and I had broken it it.

    Myself pictured, gorm-free, here: http://revenantsandrigmaroles.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/it-is-required-you-do-awake-your-faith/

    • Reine permalink
      March 1, 2011 8:53 PM

      Even more gorgeous than I had imagined.

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      March 2, 2011 8:40 AM

      …the awe in the maw of adoration

  182. March 1, 2011 8:56 PM

    Yes, it’s a beautiful sculpture. Even better from the front (unless you’re ET who likes weird modern stuff that doesn’t look like proper stuff).

    Also, shucks.

  183. Reine permalink
    March 1, 2011 9:04 PM

    I wore a very similar expression I think the first time I saw “David” in the Galleria dell’Accademia … and a very fetching scarf tied jauntily.

    I am not personally privy to ET’s proclivities – do you mean he likes bums or just abstract stuff? Ha.

    Also, I went out with a fella once to whom you bear a striking resemblance. Ah, they were happy days.

  184. March 1, 2011 9:15 PM

    I’m sure he likes bums. But I meant abstract stuff.

    I subscribe to the Samuel Johnson school of art criticism: “I would rather see the portrait of a dog that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world.” One of the most brilliantly reductive statements ever made about human achievement.

    I once met a man who looked just like me. It was genuinely eerie, almost doppelganger-like.

  185. Reine permalink
    March 1, 2011 9:25 PM

    I think Ed, from the little I know of him (and you obviously know him far better), is a master at presenting the abstract in such a way as to make the message accessible rather than aggravatingly obscure.

    When I saw the David on my first visit to Florence, I stood mouth open in awe (ref your photo) and my wisecrack friend said “close your mouth Reine, you look like you’re trying to give him a blow job”. Ruined the beautiful purity of the moment for me.

  186. March 1, 2011 9:39 PM

    I never saw David in Florence(not the real one, anyway). I did walk around the first day with a similar expression, although no one accused me of trying to pleasure a Masaccio.

    Ed is a wonderful artist; the best art can enrapture children, move adults and make all see the world in a new way. Whether or not you can tell it’s dog.

  187. Reine permalink
    March 1, 2011 9:44 PM

    Shall we dance until the others return?

    • Reine permalink
      March 1, 2011 9:48 PM

      Too late, some other time!

  188. March 1, 2011 9:46 PM

    Oddly enough XB we did an installation at the the Whitworth Gallery in 2007 called Living Room which was a big wooden cube with holes on the sides. When you stuck your head in a hole you discovered an actual living room inside. The heads looking in became the faces of paintings on the walls and in the room we had a series of mechanically animated furniture – a table that reared up, a chair whose cushion that breathed in and out etc. etc. At the weekends we had performers in the room as well.

    What I was getting to was that we based the paintings on ones from the Whitworth’s fantastic collection. One was a Victorian painting of a dog. Alongside the installation we hung the paintings that I copied from to make the ones in the room. It was the first time that painting of a dog had ever been seen in the gallery.

    So I like a portrait of a dog and allegorical paintings too. Plus the weird ones as well.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 2, 2011 3:26 AM

      Not bums in boxes, mind you, but heads in the box again. It’s a unifying theme with ET.

    • March 2, 2011 10:00 AM

      “breaking off from a drawing of a head protruding out of a manhole in the middle of the road” hic I think most artists have 2 ideas which through imagination and technical skill they can develop over a lifetime so the ideas appear fresh every time. I have half an idea and you’ve rumbled it already.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 2, 2011 2:42 PM

      Now I want a breathing cushion… let’s see, three dogs, three cats… you’ve tapped an (almost) universal human desire, ET: The Breathing Cushion.

      What surprises me, in light of your embracing of your motif, is that you can resist putting a head, yours or the one in your shed, into that avatar box. Doesn’t it niggle at you?
      When you see a headless box, don’t you yearn for satisfaction?

  189. March 1, 2011 10:02 PM

    Dancing my way to bed. When are you next doing a show in London, Ed? We’ve talked enough about art, I think, to know there’ are only three kinds: great, not bad, and please, no.

  190. March 1, 2011 10:23 PM

    XB We’ll be back in Greenwich June 24th/25th ( I think ) . There will be 10 of us plus 10 life-sized puppets in a show which current nerves/uncertainty lead me to believe could be in the “please no” category. We shall see.

  191. hic8ubique permalink
    March 2, 2011 3:09 AM

    Thanks for the laughs throughout a passing industrious period, you three.
    Much grieved to miss you all, here in my time-zone, but St David’s must be observed in this house as both half-Birthday and Namsdag.
    ‘Thanks for the daffodils… No cake?’
    I hereby flail a salutatory leek in the imagined direction of the good Captain Ned.

    Now… I never meant that anyone would be obliged to drink g&ts, ExB, which I myself discovered only three summers ago ~ a virtual spirits, (or spiri-tual?) neophyte.
    In fact, I may like the tonic as much as the gin, but when summer comes, it surely hits the spot. Dining out this time of year, I’ll order a Hendricks martini, which pretty much makes any meal or company enjoyable. Simple really.
    All I meant to suggest, ExB, was that you needn’t cater for everyone. PH is the dream party, just remember to come out of the aquarium and byob.

    I signed the avaaz.org petition today to obstruct Murdoch usurping half the media outlets in the the UK. Sure hope I have plenty of clout…

    Reine Dear ~ Exit is just leading you astray with a youthful Jonathan Franzen pic. (Was JF your old flame?)
    I do hope HI googled you good and proper in the sense you most desired.
    Grandpa Walton bibs are coming back into style I understand (not with me).
    …how bizarre that you should know about the Waltons.

    • reine permalink
      March 2, 2011 9:44 AM

      Had I ever had Jonathan, Hic, I would have held on to him until he has made his first million or five.

      “I do hope HI googled you good and proper in the sense you most desired.” … you are making me blush now!

      We were big Walton and Little House of the Prairie fans in then two-channel land. My sister caused outrage in her early teens by refusing to go to mass one Sunday morning because she would miss the latest episode with a line to the effect that “if what you say is true, God will always be there, but I can’t say the same for John Boy”. It was a tense day.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 2, 2011 2:57 PM

      There are some beautiful paper-cover editions for a dollar or so more than the plain ones of the Little House series, which L read over and over. Thinking of your niece in a year or so…

  192. hic8ubique permalink
    March 2, 2011 3:21 AM

    Must tell you ExB, I never met my dopplegänger, but…
    I was in Bath, at the Baths, 18 yrs of age, when a gentleman approached and asked to take my photo.
    I said no thanks, that my Grandmother would do that.
    He went away, but returned to indicate his wife who was weeping and peering at me from behind a pillar, and said:
    ‘You look just like our daughter who was killed in an accident last year. May I please take your picture?’

    I’ve never forgotten it, and wish I’d had the presence of mind to go embrace that grieving mother, but at the time, I was so dumbfounded, I just agreed to the photo.

  193. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 2, 2011 12:05 PM

    The three of you? Politely Homicidal – two days absence and you’re dead.

    Reine, I was sorry to read about your nightmare, and your father would be the first person ever to describe me as a ‘grand chap’. Exit, a good guide to my appearance is to think of your extremities after they’ve been in the bath for an hour. HLM, glad to hear you’re settled and the Solent area already seems a better place for your presence. I hope you’re not tuning in to Fred Dineage and bloody Perky Parkin.

    Heeding Mrs M’s injunction to lose some files from the computer I was listlessly scanning Documents when I came across this, which I’d completely forgotten about. I must have written it during those hours of family fun and merriment at Xmas. How did I find the time?

    It was Christmas Day at the palace
    And the servants were working hard
    When one poor footman made the mistake
    Of catching the Prince off-guard.
    He was in His private study,
    At His platinum reading stand,
    Leaning over Blair’s ‘A Journey’
    With His member in His hand.

    The footman asked His pardon
    And tried to make a withdrawal
    But his very rapid exit
    Was stopped by the Prince’s call.
    ‘Look, I want to make it clear
    I’m not masturbating over this
    My intention is quite otherwise
    I was merely preparing to piss.

    As an older man it takes some time
    For the amber liquid to rise,
    Now, since you’ve seen the royal penis
    We have to put out your eyes.’
    The Prince summoned his servant Jazzfan,
    With his scimitar flashing bright,
    The footman fell to the floor
    And begged his master for his sight.

    ‘Oh, very well,’ His Highness said,
    ‘I shall be generous this time,
    You’ll do community service
    For your very serious crime.
    Now give me your hand, here you are,
    You’re in charge of taking aim,
    While I savour this fine cigar
    And drink this vintage champagne.’

    The footman was rather short-sighted,
    The object of modest size,
    And the Prince’s silken knickers
    Received an unwelcome surprise.
    If you travel to that far country,
    And arrive too tired to stand,
    Check the spike on the Palace gate
    If you feel you need a hand.

    Should you require a leg-up
    There’s a couple of those to spare,
    And if your foliage is scanty,
    A beautiful head of hair.
    A torso, arms, whatever you want,
    But there’s something I’d advise,
    The weather’s very hot out there:
    I wouldn’t bother with the eyes.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 2, 2011 2:52 PM

      Macerated Mowbray~ I was only industrious (busy) for that one round of three-way chat, and so aware of my time-zone handicap.
      I’m sure you are in truth so beautiful that the internet would melt as from a solar flare should you reveal yourself in full glory.
      Suppose Mishari has taken his brood to California?

    • Reine permalink
      March 2, 2011 3:26 PM

      Your mind is a scary place Mowbs but most entertaining. Daddy would withdraw the “grand chap” remark if he read that, being more a Longfellow man himself.

      Thanks for the tip off on Little House books Hic, it would be nice to collect them for her although I suspect she might prefer her own horse and wagon … and probably a gun.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 2, 2011 3:35 PM

      Yes, it’s a dustbin in there. Marigolds are highly recommended.

  194. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 2, 2011 3:28 PM

    I was just jesting there, hic. I should think the internet would run away and hide if it saw me in my natural state.

    Yes, I’ve been thinking on the Prince. Sometimes the shadow of cynicalsteve haunts online communication for me, but I’m sure I’m being melodramatic. As a native of Gloucestershire I’m of a somewhat melancholy disposition.

    • Reine permalink
      March 2, 2011 3:30 PM

      Oh dear God, I hope your melodrama is unfounded MM. I may resort to prayer.

  195. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 2, 2011 3:36 PM

    Don’t worry about it. As I say, it’s a dustbin in there.

  196. hic8ubique permalink
    March 2, 2011 4:00 PM

    Well, I was serious about California… not in the sense of ‘gone west’, but that if it were the case, and we called him to account for going awol, he could throw it back at us for being slow on the uptake that this thread was in fact his leave-taking: ” and we’ll have fun fun fun…”

    I can imagine Universal Studios being of some interest, there are music pilgrimages and such. Flying into SFO ,the Embarcadero…driving CoastalRt.1 and flying out of LAX? I could see Mishari wanting to do that as a family, he’s a rangey sort, and what Euro whippersnapper wouldn’t want to?

    But that’s just my dustbin.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 2, 2011 6:22 PM

      Yosemite? Sea World? House of Blues? I say it’s as good a theory as any.

      Be of good cheer…

    • March 2, 2011 8:44 PM

      Mishari’s tour of East Anglia with his line-dancing team has obviously gone on longer than he thought.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 2, 2011 11:12 PM

      I suppose it’s possible, but his remarks about California aren’t exactly positive. My money is on Morocco.

  197. Reine permalink
    March 2, 2011 9:17 PM

    We went to the cinema earlier. I went to see Biutiful and he went to see The Inside Job – both grim; Biutiful almost unbearably so. Apparently, a good many fell asleep during The Inside Job (didn’t we all?). Don’t go to either if you are feeling down in the dumps is the upshot.

    Before we left at around five o’clock, I was alarmed by a loud roar from the kitchen which, on further inquiry (“What the f**k are you screaming about?”),yielded an air punch and a victory hop – apparently we beat England in the cricket.

    And in the funniest story of the day, one of the newly-elected Deputies drove over the plinth (a raised wide walkway at the front of Leinster House where news interviews and other ceremonial activities occur) – there is a ramp at the end nearest the main entrance but steps on the other end. Must have been the excitement. Nothing to the excitement the security guys on the gate experienced. She is a blonde; she won’t live it down for a while.

  198. Reine permalink
    March 2, 2011 10:10 PM

    The 31st Dáil is going to be great craic!

    http://www.rte.ie/news/av/2011/0302/media-2917061.html#

  199. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 2, 2011 11:26 PM

    The England cricket team are all South Africans, so not much of a victory really. The rugby, however…

    Was Mick Wallace TD in Status Quo?

  200. reine permalink
    March 3, 2011 8:23 AM

    Oh, it’s victory enough for us.

    I don’t think Mick was ever or will ever be a status quo kind of guy. Clever guy but does his best to hide it.

  201. March 3, 2011 8:24 AM

    I’m sure I saw Mick playing mellotron in Close to the Hedge – a Yes tribute band.

    I’m out the door never mind the coat.

  202. reine permalink
    March 3, 2011 8:28 AM

    I’d hate to think of you catching cold Ed for fear of reprisal! Mick is a big fan of the arts, you’d like him.

  203. reine permalink
    March 3, 2011 8:31 AM

    Mick, if you read this, I will be happy to interview for the position of chief cheerleader but may need to negotiate on the rig-out.

  204. MWallace permalink
    March 3, 2011 9:58 AM

    Sorry, the grey canvas trousers and pink rugby shirt are non-negotiable. Ladies may accessorize with our dayglo pink clutch bag.

  205. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 3, 2011 10:00 AM

    Actually, this is quite interesting:

  206. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 3, 2011 10:07 AM

    The earring is a bit questionable.

  207. Reine permalink
    March 3, 2011 10:45 AM

    I don’t do the casual look well MM; I’d at least want harem pants and maybe an emerald green top. I don’t do rugby shirts under any circumstances. Only the players should wear them.

    Indeed the earring is rather dodgy, I think I had one like that when I was about 15. He is a good guy I think, interesting background, interesting views – sadly I think the system will render him impotent very quickly.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 3, 2011 6:46 PM

      Harem pants? You could be a candidate for the MC Hammer Party. Policy is basically conservative, with a hint of neurotic haptophobia. U Can’t Touch This!

    • Reine permalink
      March 3, 2011 7:31 PM

      Forgot about MC’s trews. That was an ill advised choice, I grant you, and so last year. It’s all about the peg trouser this year. One would not last a day in the parliamentary complex as a haptophobia sufferer; uninvited gladhandling is unavoidable.

  208. March 3, 2011 6:17 PM

    It’s Robert Plant’s half-brother!

    • Reine permalink
      March 3, 2011 6:29 PM

      He likes his pastel colours; today a fetching mint green t-shirt. Friendly chap if his hearty handshake is anything to go by.

  209. March 3, 2011 8:07 PM

    Funny what messages a handshake gives out. Yesterday I met a festival director up near Freepland whose handshake was a limp lettuce.

    • Reine permalink
      March 3, 2011 9:29 PM

      Those dead fish, clammy ones freak me out. A good grip and a smile, how difficult is that (if one is not an OCD sufferer?). Some churches here (and elsewhere I am sure) have stopped doing the handshake sign of peace at mass for personal hygiene and space invasion purposes; better no shaking than a shake snub I suppose. Still, on the whole, people love a good old handshake after all the drama of the transubstantiation – you can’t convey the same bonhomie in a raised eyebrow. My sister touches fingers and says “bzzzzzzz”, her preferred form of greeting at any time, not just the biannual church outing

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 4, 2011 12:05 AM

      Was he another half-Plant?

  210. Reine permalink
    March 3, 2011 11:22 PM

    The hat and scarf were getting too hot. Come back soon Hic, all this disappearing and reappearing is making me jumpy. Goodnight all.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 3, 2011 11:42 PM

      Yeah, laters (see below).

      Sorry about the disappearing. I was just trying to let the dust settle.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 4, 2011 12:29 AM

      I’m nearby, not disappeared, just another full day.
      Fortunately MM is safe from my handshake, as he would certainly be terrified;
      an embrace might prevent him drawing breath ever again…
      http://tiny.cc/nmfkc

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 4, 2011 12:51 AM

      Your wraparound seems to have slipped, Boudicca, and those chunky pins of yours might be seen to better advantage with a longer hemline. Or in trousers.

      Now the sounds of battle recede
      and the Roman army’s fled,
      I’ll have a glass or two of mead,
      then take a chariot to bed.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 4, 2011 2:06 AM

      You may well retire from the field.
      Here’s a cool ‘yeah, laters’ in lieu of buss.
      As to trousers for my ‘chunky pins’
      that’s one pair between the two of us.

  211. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 3, 2011 11:36 PM

    I don’t mind a handshake of any variety, but the lingering ones used to worry me as a youth. Has this bloke forgotten that he’s holding my hand, I would think, or is he… somehow withdrawing seemed a mortal insult, so I would stand there like an idiot for several minutes. There used to be a handshake competition on late-night TV where a presenter would try to hold on to a celeb’s hand during a shake for as long as possible. Yes, it was pretty boring.

    Compulsory kissing is the real horror of our time. All too often I’m approached by female relations who have somehow acquired the idea that the double smooch is a universally accepted greeting (and leave-taking, in some cases). I don’t know why they think a closer view of their complexions should be a sign of welcome: in me it arouses feelings of intense hostility. Acquaintances can usually be put off the ritual with a scowl. A simple ‘awright?’ is more than enough for me, with a brisk ‘yeah, laters’ to conclude.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 4, 2011 2:09 AM

      Mwah! Mwah!

  212. March 4, 2011 8:57 AM

    Good to hear Paddy Ashdown on the Today programme re-establishing his credentials as the politician with the most deluded sense of self-importance. There’s strong competition in the field for this position too but Paddy beats them all…… errrm…… pantsdown.

    I’m bggering off to the Bologna Book Festival this weekend where I’ll be hbnbbing with the likes of Tinie Tempah, Lee Harvey Oswald, Papa Smurf and Craig Raine. Oh and Michael Rosen.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 4, 2011 11:08 AM

      Brng us bck a ssge.

  213. Reine permalink
    March 4, 2011 9:13 AM

    Bn vyg Ed. Tinie is the man du jour… the kids love him although I do wonder what element of his performances can actually be correctly called “singing”. Fabulous wearer of the sharp suit I must say.

    MM, if ever we meet, you’ll have to endure more than a double cheek kiss. As for Hic, it’s hard to say what she might do…

  214. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 4, 2011 11:30 AM

    What, a handshake as well? I experienced that with a particularly muscular aunt, who took my warily extended hand and pulled me for a double barrelled smacker. A bad experience for any youth, let alone one as sensitive and fragile as me.

    I’m having some problems getting on the site. I keep getting a message saying there’s an admin error. Anyone else?

  215. hic8ubique permalink
    March 4, 2011 2:11 PM

    Safe journey, ET. Bring us your stories. x
    (and no hubnabbing!)

    The page may just be so long to load that you’re getting that message , MM.
    My Dad taught me to shake hands, and he’s what St.A would characterise as a ‘thigh-armed’ Scandi.
    (a good laugh from that one)
    I could offer you the Queen’s handshake, but in the exuberance of a real meeting, Reine and I would collaborate; you’d be crushed between chest bumps:

    • Reine permalink
      March 4, 2011 2:42 PM

      I’m at work so can’t see the vid but Hic’s right; you’d better have the oxygen tank to hand.

      I have been having trouble logging in for the past week or more but I just persist in spite of patience being the virtue I am least known for, followed by chastity. Ha. Watch out…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 4, 2011 5:17 PM

      The video shows a sort of full-body high-five performed by pom-pom girls, Re.
      As far as I know, it’s an adrenalin rush American thing basket-ball players do to celebrate a point, not normal greeting etiquette ;)

    • March 4, 2011 11:39 PM

      “you’d be crushed between chest bumps”

      we called them “sweater-bumps” when I was young

  216. Reine permalink
    March 4, 2011 5:34 PM

    Ah, yes, I know the move to which you refer. If I were to do that, I’d take my eye out and certainly MM’s.

    I am off to my wine club now (I am leading the Portugese evening); I’ll let ye know if there are any gems to report. I won’t be doing a full-body high five in such a refined setting, at least not until we’ve lost our inhibitions (usually about ten minutes in).

  217. mishari permalink*
    March 4, 2011 8:40 PM

    Good evening. Sorry for the interuption to normal service but I came a bit of a cropper on my bike on the Sunday before last. I shall tell all when I’ve recovered a bit more (I’m dictating this to a son) but suffice it to say, my jaw is wired together, my left arm and leg are held together with steel pins, retina of left eye is detached, most teeth knocked out, most ribs broken or fractured, cheekbone and orbit of left eye smashed, lung punctured…do I need to add that it only hurts when I laugh?

    Anyway, I just thought I’d allay any fears of my premature demise (close but no cigar) and send you all my regards and hope that I’ll be up to posting and commenting with my usual incontinence in the near future.

    Love, Mishari

    • March 4, 2011 11:37 PM

      Christ, ye cast-iron bastid! Glad you’re again communicado. Even *I* was getting spooked! Also glad they’re only flesh (and bone and tooth) wounds and not (by various counter-revolutionary forces ) intentional… !

    • Reine permalink
      March 5, 2011 1:21 AM

      Oh Mishari, you poor devil. I am just home, full of Portugese and other wine, full of sympathy for your horrid predicament but full of gratitude to know you are alive. And thanks to your patient amanuensis for dictation service, good man. That is beyond unfortunate – you all detoxed and purified and such ill to befall you. May it save you from worse. Christ, you poor fucker, I feel for you. Hic will put it more eloquently but I am heartily glad to see you. Much love and best wishes for speedy recovery. XXX

  218. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 4, 2011 11:09 PM

    That’s a shocker. Full sympathy, and I hope you make a quick recovery. Anything I can do (short of bed-baths) you only have to ask.

  219. obooki permalink
    March 4, 2011 11:28 PM

    I was sure you were in Kuwait, instigating the revolution.

    Anyway, I can sympathise with how you feel: I tripped over on the escalator today and broke one of my nails. ;)

  220. March 5, 2011 3:43 AM

    Yeah, I too thought you were participating in some kind of revoltion in the M.E.

    Get well soon.

    Love.

    Des

  221. hic8ubique permalink
    March 5, 2011 4:51 AM

    :'(

    My dear, I am weepily grateful you are alive.
    I don’t normally feel far away at all, but now… horribly helplessly maddeningly far.

    I’m too shocked for eloquence, but, yes, as Reine says, good lad for helping to let us know.
    Please, do post us a line or two as you are able to keep us apprised of your condition.
    For anything at all within my scope, I am freely at your service.

    With all my heart, Blessings and Love
    Your abiding friend~~

    hic

    (ever so gently on your right zygoma … x)

  222. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    March 5, 2011 5:30 AM

    Dear Mish,

    Shocked and sorry to learn of your present condition. As is the norm in 21st-century society, we must apportion blame and exact retribution without delay.

    Is your present condition due to:
    a) A Vauxhall Cavalier driver
    b) An Act of Dog
    c) Karma
    d) Kramer
    e) None of the above

    While you ponder, rest assured that the wheels have been set in motion the quest is already under way to secure Daniel Day Lewis for the biopic.

    Seriously, if there’s anything I can do, send word.

    Henry Moon
    http://www.failedactorsturnedinjurylawyers.co.uk

  223. March 5, 2011 10:23 AM

    I come back from forced exile and what do I find? The imperialist reactionary running dogs have made an attempt on Comrade Mish’s life! It is fortunate indeed that the fires of revolution burn so bright inside him. The Politburo has declared a day of thanksgiving; all comrades will join us in wishing Comrade Mish a speedy recovery.

  224. pinkroom permalink
    March 5, 2011 10:24 AM

    Sorry to hear that M. Get well.

  225. Captain Ned permalink
    March 5, 2011 11:02 AM

    Christ, that sound awful. I just hope that any lasting damage isn’t too severe. Get well soon.

    I blame Nick Clegg.

  226. March 5, 2011 11:37 AM

    Mishari, really sorry you had a fall. A horrible thing to happen. I wish you a speedy recovery.

    You will emerge a thousand times mightier the e’er before. We’ll try to keep you entertained, or at least irritably distracted.

  227. mishari permalink*
    March 5, 2011 2:48 PM

    Yes, obviously, I blame Nick Smeg, too…him and the bastard Japanese tourist who thought that opening the door of a black cab into the traffic of Charing Cross Rd. (to free the strap of his camera bag) was a good idea.

    I hit the door at about 20 mph and both I and my bike were reduced to our constituent parts in an augenblick. I’m going to require some more surgery (dental implants, steel plate to fix shattered jaw, maybe a replacement knee-cap etc.) but the most annoying part is that I can’t really read (one eye off-line until further notice, other eye none too clever) nor can I write (one hand completely emplastered, other half-plastered).

    Aside from that, I’m fine…floating in a cloud of narcotic-induced, stress-free unknowing. The plaster comes off my right hand in 10 days or so (lots of small fractures so not that serious) and I expect I’ll be able to write again (as opposed to dictating to an eye-rolling ingrate of a son [I’m not-Joseph]).

    Thank you for all the kind wishes and I hope to resume normal service soon.

    • Reine permalink
      March 5, 2011 3:18 PM

      Suddenly, a self-inflicted horrible wine hangover is put in perspective. I am so sorry for you Mish and really hope you will be feeling yourself again soon (with your one good hand). Thank you Joseph, you have done us a great service. At least now we know what we are worrying about. x

  228. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 5, 2011 6:17 PM

    Sometimes a door is a wall, as Emerson didn’t say. Talk about multiple injuries. I’d stay on that pethedine as long as you possibly can: a useful side-effect is alleviating the intolerable boredom of being in hospital (if that’s where you are). Only evident once you start to recover a bit, of course.

    Looks like your only choice of recreation (other than hallucination) will be music or audio-books. I hear ‘Being Jordan’ is now out (with an introduction by Dr Michael Rosen) in an extended version which includes the split with Pete. Lee Rourke ‘highly recommends this book, which comes in the shape of a compact disc, for listening to with the ears’.

    My thanks to your amanuensis, and I urge those commenters who lack my savoir faire to moderate their usual torrents of foul and abusive language out of respect for this young person. It’s quite unnecessary, ladies.

  229. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 5, 2011 6:22 PM

    That was a joke.

    • Reine permalink
      March 5, 2011 7:03 PM

      I had hoped my late night, intemperate foul mouthery had gone unnoticed; joke or no joke, I am abashed. No wine for me tonight and no cussing.

      I urge Mish to expunge his frustration with a bit of cussing himself along the lines outlined in The Adventures of HF…

      “Then the old man got to cussing, and cussed everything and everybody he could think of, and then cussed them all over again to make sure he hadn’t skipped any, and after that he polished off with a kind of a general cuss all round…”

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 5, 2011 8:03 PM

      Come on, I’m sure he’s heard a lot worse dahn ve East End. You’re pretty frugal with the cursage anyway. As you say, it can be therapeutic, but most useful in acute rather than chronic circumstances.

      In the various spells I’ve had in hospital the store of poetry and other stuff I had more or less accidentally memorised came in very handy, as (or so I’ve read) it does in prison. Particularly when enhanced by some chemical therapy. Anything with a rich vocabulary and some rhetorical elan goes down well – Milton, Geoff Hill or Stevens would all be candidates for me.

  230. hic8ubique permalink
    March 5, 2011 6:48 PM

    I recall you’re not a Mac user, Mishari, so you may not be aware of the facility of operation of an iPad for reading.
    Enlarging the text , which can be made huge, takes any two fingers, and page-turning requires only the swipe of one finger.The keyboard function is touch sensitive as well. There’s an easel style case (made by Incase) that allows it to stand up. Could be a temporary expedient as your energy allows…
    the hospital’s Occupational Therapy service should be able to help.

    [We know your Dad just talks that way, Joseph. You are an angel. Maybe you know someone who could offer an iPad demo? You can even draw on it with colour in a painterly way with an app called ‘Brushes’ which is very cool.
    Love to all your family.]

  231. Susan Abraham permalink
    March 5, 2011 7:56 PM

    Really sorry, Mishari. Really, really sorry. x

  232. Susan Abraham permalink
    March 5, 2011 8:07 PM

    …and get well soon.

  233. March 5, 2011 8:13 PM

    Speech recognition, tho it takes a bit of time for the software to get used to your voice.

    If it was some dopey cunt opening the door into oncoming traffic, you should be able to sue ’em.

    The fella who smashed into Stephen King when he was on his daily walk, ended up dying of a drugs overdose, on King’s birthday, a few years later.

  234. Reine permalink
    March 5, 2011 9:46 PM

    On the voice recognition software, we trialled two leading ones a couple of years ago – Dragon Naturally Speaking and SpeechMagic. For what it’s worth, Dragon was the one we chose as better suiting our requirements.

  235. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    March 6, 2011 5:35 AM

    Sat. 5/3/11: WBN

    Wandered down to the pub
    With a box in each hand
    Thought I’d order some grub
    An hour before the band
    But my corner was booked
    By a large mixing desk
    Spaghetti, overcooked,
    The landlord, Kafkaesque,
    Asked me suspiciously
    Just what gave me the right
    To dish out books for free
    On this here ‘World Book Night’

    Tried my luck in the street
    On the pre-party crowd
    Gangs of ten, indiscreet
    In their cups, braying loud
    Pooled my distribution
    With Givers passing by
    Between Dissolution
    And The Life of Pie
    A Fine Balance was found
    In the disheveled crew
    Barely standing their ground
    In the private-hire queue

    Outside the multiplex
    I surrendered my last
    To a wallflower with specs
    Who thought my gift of Toast
    Would include coming home
    Making coffee, and more,
    Leafing culinary tomes
    Getting down on the floor
    I disengaged myself
    Without causing a fight
    Filled a gap on her shelf
    – Happy World Book Night!

    • Reine permalink
      March 6, 2011 11:17 AM

      It’s all great Hal but I particularly like that last verse. Shame on you not to offer her some tea with her toast.

      I’m a fan of old Nige, even though I do wish he would wash his hair more often and buy a shirt in a colour other than brown. The Kitchen Diaries has pride of place among my culinary tomes.

      Hope you are settling in well.

  236. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    March 6, 2011 11:59 AM

    Yes, ta, Reine. The above was partly true. In fact I gave away around forty copies of A Fine Balance in my new local, which was an interesting way of getting to know my fellow Lymingtonians, if that’s the correct appellation. If you [perform an internet search using a proprietary search engine] the name of the town, it invariably comes up with “the snootiest town in Britain”. Luckily I’m reading Stuart Maconie’s northern paean “Pies and Prejudice” to counteract the culture shock. So far so good, though!

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 6, 2011 6:31 PM

      Perhaps append your reading with a wedge of Quay Lymington and Toffee sauce.

  237. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 6, 2011 1:13 PM

    To A Cyclist

    Sire, I know your recovery will be slow,
    but I hope you’ll return as soon as you can,
    and in the meantime I thought you’d like to know
    sanctions have been taken against Japan.

    Fresh imports from that country are now barred,
    my hibachi’s in the garden getting wet,
    the ukiyo’e’s been looked at pretty hard,
    and I’ve spoken harshly to my TV set.

    I know these measures won’t modify your pain,
    in fact, reading these lines might make you feel worse,
    but I’m prepared to risk stout Jazzfan’s curse

    and hope you reacquire your former glamour.
    Till then, your Highness, I humbly remain
    yours, smashing GameBoys with a five-pound hammer.

    • Reine permalink
      March 6, 2011 7:14 PM

      I’ve
      … stamped on my tamagotchi
      Thrown out the nori roll
      Cut up my silk kimono
      Purified my geisha soul
      The Orient is dead to me
      Occidental is the future
      At least until you’ve rid yourself
      Of that last stitch and suture

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 6, 2011 11:19 PM

      That’s a lot better than my laboured effort, Reine. I think it will raise a laugh in the invalid.

    • Reine permalink
      March 7, 2011 12:01 PM

      Most I could hope for is a wan smile, MM. Only meant as an addendum to yours (ever inspirational) from a female perspective. Thanks.

  238. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 6, 2011 1:25 PM

    Nice poem, HLM, but how did you come by 40 copies of A Fine Balance, if you don’t mind my asking? I’ve accidentally overordered on Amazon once or twice (got 9 rather lukewarm responses to Xmas presents of Abba Gold), but never to that extent.

    Mrs M was pressed to go to Lymington market on Saturday by and with a friend, but we had a visitor so cancelled. Is it worth a visit?

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      March 6, 2011 9:39 PM

      “A nice vibe” is what my daughter said when quizzed about Lymington market. She is to be found washing up and waiting on in The Buttery of a Saturday, BTW. So far I have only driven the Kangoo at slow speed through the resticted area, albeit without stopping.

      The giveaway was part of World Book Night, MM. Don’t pretend you didn’t see any pre-event coverage. Each “giver” had forty-eight copies of one of twenty-five selected books to give away. A Fine Balance was a book someone once gave me, and I was sufficiently impressed to pass it on to someone else. I reasoned that it wouldn’t be first choice for many of the candidate givers, and would be easier to peddle than poetry.

      I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to sample the market. I’m oop the smoak and then on to Paris for a week, stopping orf in Esher on the return journey, don’t you know. All this social interaction is positively exhausting for a confirmed troglodyte like me.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 6, 2011 11:11 PM

      I just came across World Book Day earlier this evening while scanning a mag during a longueur in Law ‘N’ Order, HLM. All became clear. The event had somehow escaped my notice. Good news about the market, and I’ll recommend The Buttery to Mrs M. I suppose you know Denis Wheatley once resided in Lymington. His mansion, Grove Place, was pulled down after his departure and built over. Be sure to wear your garlic necklace if you’re round that way.

  239. pinkroom permalink
    March 6, 2011 7:55 PM

    I didn’t know that about Stephen King. Sinister or what? Still, gets you thinking…

    A Witness Speaks

    Casting aside
    his rubber mask,
    hia face, a bell did ring;
    as he left that car,
    with its door ajar;
    I swore he looked
    like

    Sting.

  240. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 6, 2011 11:24 PM

    That’s an unexplored avenue, PR. Perhaps we should pass it on to Taylor of the Yard.

  241. hic8ubique permalink
    March 6, 2011 11:52 PM

    Look in when you can, Moon, we need your laughs, as when I [*] ‘Kangoo’.
    ~

    20 November 2012, Charing Cross Road.

    Nikon-bearing tourist
    of undisclosed origin
    commits hara kiri.
    Witnesses report:
    he is politely suicidal.
    ~

    * [performed an internet search using a proprietary search engine]

  242. March 7, 2011 1:44 AM

    I see the Groan mods have lost none of their zeal during my absence.

  243. March 7, 2011 9:03 AM

    Mishari

    So sorry to hear your terrible news and the very best wishes for a speedy recovery. Judging by the comments dictated to your son the Al-Adwani inner voice is still alive and well which is a good sign.

    If there are any spare parts we can send you to help patch up your poor body then just ask. I’m not offering spare parts from my own diabeticallly ravaged body but there are quite a few farmer’s lads round these parts who probably wouldn’t miss an arm or two – they’ll only lose them in a threshing accident when they are older anyway.

  244. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 7, 2011 10:31 AM

    That’s a good idea, ET. We should be able to rustle up most of a body among the contributors to this blog. I’m prepared to donate a buttock: have to be the left as the right is essential for scratching. It’s almost unmarked (apart from the usual pimples etc) and has rather a nice contour. There is a small cavity, created when I sat on a hedgehog in 1976, but 99% of the spines are out now and having the pus drained every three months is really not all that inconvenient.

    • Reine permalink
      March 7, 2011 11:58 AM

      The prospect of Mishari becoming an even more perfect and desirable man is almost inconceivable.

      I could lend an ear although it might have a cellular memory of some pretty cheesy lines, which might only worsen the situation. Of course, when I say “lend”, I wouldn’t expect it to be returned.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 7, 2011 2:49 PM

      Demographically speaking there’s a good chance you might get it back, but whether you would want it is another question. Some of the stuff that ear might have listened to… jazz… Bruckner… Neil Young…

  245. March 7, 2011 10:52 AM

    MM and if we’re short of parts I dare say one of your surviving labradors can be relied on to make up the full body quota.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 7, 2011 2:53 PM

      No survivors currently, ET, though I have a couple of parts in the freezer. A tail would probably not be much use and it’s earmarked for Easter Sunday lunch anyway. I wonder if a cold wet nose would look well on our host?

  246. Parisa permalink
    March 7, 2011 11:51 AM

    Dear Mishari – I just heard that you had a close encounter with a taxi car door. Omg was my first reaction. Perhaps we can use this as an opportunity to finally ban all motorized traffic in London. You seem remarkable cheerful anyway – I’m in awe. Anyway I hope your recovery will be speedy & find you back in the saddle again v soon. Hope you are being treated the v best from the NHS (or whatever) can provide.

    P

  247. Reine permalink
    March 7, 2011 12:27 PM

    Hello Parisa, hope all well with you. I’m laughing at our profile pics, we girls all favour the bowed head look. Flirtatious, coy or just gives a better chin line? R

  248. hic8ubique permalink
    March 7, 2011 7:17 PM

    Nobody wants to see how faux imperious I look with my nose in the air, Re.
    Not fit for the mirror, never mind a photo. I love your new avatar best of all; lets keep it.

    Speaking of chin-line though, I imagine the boss will have had his jaw fixation surgery by now.
    They wouldn’t want to wait much longer to do that. Fingers crossed for his retina… and in due course, I’ll be very interested to hear all about his famously beautiful left hand.

    Very cheeky offer there, MM. May I suggest we each donate blood at our regional trauma hospitals in appreciation of Mishari.

  249. March 7, 2011 9:18 PM

    A friend found a quiz where you guessed which were the ravings of Charlie Sheen and which were the ravings of Gaddafi. Sheen edges it in the raving loon stakes but as far as I know he hasn’t been in charge of any repressive regimes.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 7, 2011 11:23 PM

      He was i/c the mission in Hot Shots. Not really in the Gaddafi league.

  250. Parisa permalink
    March 7, 2011 9:43 PM

    Hey Reine – I was laughing about the body parts. I offer my love handles – with my love & compliments – any takers?! Nah didn’t think so. I bought a bra that was meant to do away with them – big swiz. Hey ho. Never mind – worse probs at sea & who’s looking at my back, anyway.

    Hey Hic – I agree – good pic of La Reine there. I’m not allowed to donate blood here in the US in case of Aids. (What the hell do they think we get up to?! )

    Misha – don’t let the bed bugs bite. We’re all rooting for ya kiddo.

    • Reine permalink
      March 7, 2011 11:16 PM

      Thanks laydees; with a decolletage like that P, I imagine it is fairly safe to say few would be looking at your back.

      I am in very dull humour today, nothing even vaguely amusing to report. I did get a brown package in the post from my father stuffed with sleeping tablets (I had mentioned I wasn’t sleeping particularly well) with a note reading “Reine, I hope you got a rest at the weekend. I get these in my prescription every month but rarely use them. It says to take one but I’d say take two to be on the safe side. Regards to all. Love, D xx”. The man cracks me up; he is a pharmacist’s dream.

      Below a hedgehog suffering from ptsd …

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 7, 2011 11:36 PM

      The hedgehog I sat on was flatter than that. And wider.

      Kind of your father to send the pills. I haven’t been sleeping well either, largely because of the seagulls which have taken up residence on top of the chimney above my room. They stuff sticks down it until it’s full enough to make a nest. Bloody annoying. I’ll have to sort them out when the weather’s warmer.

    • Reine permalink
      March 7, 2011 11:43 PM

      I’ll send you some of Sean’s pills. You can give them to the seagulls.

  251. Parisa permalink
    March 7, 2011 10:11 PM

    btw Misha – hope you’re taking advantage of the free narcotics – maybe Joseph can smuggle in a bottle or so – “thish hoshpital ishvgoodz…….. hic”

  252. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 7, 2011 11:13 PM

    Labraman

    I got to the hospital just in time
    to stop him sniffing a nurse’s bum,
    we read verse until he started to whine,
    then I opened him a tin of Chum.

    It was marvellous how they’d put the head
    so seamlessly on his flabby old neck,
    the forepaws were so perfectly fitted
    you’d think they’d grown there if you didn’t check.

    As I listened to him bark about his day
    I stroked the fluffy tail he loved to wag,
    when the nurse came by to collect his tray
    it rose and fluttered like a national flag.

    I did have my doubts, but I’ll admit
    it was one of medicine’s better calls:
    once I’d managed to get him to sit
    I left him happily licking his balls.

    • Reine permalink
      March 7, 2011 11:19 PM

      You’re going to hurt him with all the laughing. x

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 7, 2011 11:38 PM

      I don’t think he’s in any danger.

    • Reine permalink
      March 7, 2011 11:44 PM

      Oh, get away with ya, Mr. Mowbray.

  253. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 8, 2011 12:11 AM

    I thought I’d give Chrome a whirl. Loads a lot quicker than IE.

    I must be away to my bed
    where lovely Hypnos lulls
    until my calmly sleeping head
    is split by squawking gulls.

    • reine permalink
      March 8, 2011 8:37 AM

      Yes, it is loads a lot much quicker, as is Mozilla Firefox. Took a half tablet, still wide awake in the middle of the night. Daddy might have been right. Hope you had better luck with the squawkers.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 8, 2011 3:18 PM

      ‘Yes, it is loads a lot much quicker’

      Now that took me a while, but I get it now.
      Thought it might be idiomatic superlative exuberance, or that the short sleep was manifesting, but no, just me.
      Sorry about your dream world eluding you ;)

  254. March 8, 2011 9:58 AM

    A continuation of the Labraman theme ( which made me laugh ).

    His physical condition’s completely not right*
    A parcel arrives from the Isle of Wight
    From one of the regulars on these blogs
    Who has a dodgy relationship with domestic dogs.
    They summon an expert of the anatomical arts
    To assess the provenance of these spare parts.
    The jury’s out – the light goes to green from red
    The complicated operations can now go ahead.
    Our blog-host’s in surgery for 36 hours
    His bed-side fills up with chocolates and flowers.
    Two weeks later the plaster’s off the leg
    Our blog-host awakes, sits up and begs.
    Nausea kicks in , he starts to wretch
    Then demands a stick which he’s willing to fetch.
    But certain attitudes are still ingrained
    He demands to go out as he’s well house-trained.

    So half-man half-dog is where the future’s at
    But we’ll see how it goes down with Pongo the cat.

    * This rhyme has been changed to observe current self-regulating codes of practice.

  255. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 8, 2011 11:20 AM

    Nice one, ET. Wish I’d thought of the stick. And the house-training.

    The seagulls were away last night. Perhaps my bawling up the chimney the previous night achieved something, though a fresh load of rubbish at the tip is a more likely hypothesis.

  256. hic8ubique permalink
    March 8, 2011 3:08 PM

    I’m certain your bawling up the chimney was appreciated as enthusiastic inter-species fraternisation, MM.
    Wondrous doggy collaboration, you two.

  257. March 8, 2011 6:28 PM

    Chrome’s a marvel, all attest
    Fuck off Windows; Ubuntu’s best
    Paying Gates to surf the net
    is a pretty piss-poor bet

  258. Reine permalink
    March 8, 2011 9:29 PM

    A whole hour I spent flipping pancakes for the hungry horde (of two) before I sat down to savour a sugar and lemon one myself earlier. Don’t expect to see any sign of Lenten ascetism at work tomorrow – first meeting of the 31st Dáil where all the new (76 of 166) and returned Members will bring several guests apiece on site who will doubtless take to the revelry with gusto. It won’t be pretty.

    Some staff are involved in an induction programme to mentor the new Members – overheard today in the bar “I had to pull my member aside before he got caught in the (revolving) door”. Cue sniggering in the cheap seats. Ah, the old ones are the best.

    I’m dropping a full tab tonight… to sleep, perchance to dream and wake up without saddlebags under my eyes.

  259. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 8, 2011 10:47 PM

    Thanks, hic, but the credit goes to ET, its onlie begetter.

    An hour’s worth of pancakes? That must be a lot. We shared seven or eight between us (4 oz flour). My method is to store them in a pile in the oven and then cut like a cake. Tastes OK and saves running backwards and forwards to the dining room. Good luck with the sleeping. Count TDs going through the revolving doors.

  260. hic8ubique permalink
    March 9, 2011 12:44 AM

    Suck it up; the credit goes to the both of you.
    What? Like a cake? Ingenious.
    My grandmother kept a plate on a saucepan of simmering water to try to work ahead of demand, but we only used lemon and sugar then.
    I make them every Sunday morning, and if I miss for some reason, I must appease the horde (of two) by making them for supper.
    I am rousted out of bed by the teen : ‘Mum, I’ve made the batter. Are you coming?’
    I amend the batter, heat strawberries with a bit of honey and mash them with a potato masher.
    Spouse prefers banana in his, which I split lengthwise in three so it won’t be slimey. He doesn’t mind sliminess, but I do.
    On the flip side, I put a banana segment and warm strawberry sauce into the pancake and roll it up.
    Then, the other prodigy wants raspberries. Again on the flip-side, they thaw quickly.
    She likes maple syrup. He likes honey on top. They’re flummoxed by the introduction of lemon.
    Both like blueberries added.
    When they’ve each declared: ‘This is my last!’ I have one with fresh lemon juice and demerara, as I did when my grandmother made them, maybe a raspberry one as well .
    Soon after, I have my protein drink so all is not for naught.
    I do hope Mishari will be having applesauce and rice pudding, scrambled eggs sorts of things by now…

  261. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    March 9, 2011 5:13 AM

    I slathered on the Speculoos spread… my current jones.

  262. Reine permalink
    March 9, 2011 9:21 AM

    There weren’t that many really, they had three or four each – alternating between nutella spread and sugar and lemon. Just seemed to take me a while to get the momentum going. They ate as they came off the pan, protesting between mouthfuls that I should have the next one but I just wanted the job done. I had a little scutty one made with the remnants of the batter and tried not to let my stigmata drip onto the plate.

  263. March 9, 2011 11:58 AM

    Good to know you suffer too Reine. Being diabetic I had to settle for an espadrille with Diet I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-honey drizzled on it.

    Sheer heaven.

  264. hic8ubique permalink
    March 9, 2011 3:59 PM

    That’s you all over, ET… Having looked up Speculoos (which sounds like a voyeuristic behaviour)
    I thought there might be a food named after the shoe, but no, just the shoe.
    Next time I’m teased about my knäkebröd, I’ll tell them it’s an espadrille.

    We have some FairTrade spread called Cocoa Haze, which is comparable to Nutella, but without hydrogenated oils; still it’s mostly sugar. Have you tried agave? It’s very low-glycemic I believe.
    Chewy raw honey for me…that’s what Tiggers like.

    Yesterday I saw 6 labradors on the beach, and after that couldn’t stop counting. They seemed to be everywhere I went, mostly black ones. They may be the normally dominant breed population here, but I don’t think so. It seemed like the Gathering of the Labs.

  265. March 9, 2011 5:16 PM

    hic to be honest trying to replicate delicious puddings/cakes/jams is just torment. There’s nothing that can beat a pancake with sugar and lemon juice so it’s not worth trying.

    If my blood sugar is sufficiently low I can indulge in something sugary but otherwise I find it’s best to stick to fruit and enjoy that.

    Once waking up in the middle of the night and in need of a sugar fix I bit into a Braeburn apple I kept by the bed. I sat in the pitch black trying to minimise the chomping ( not wanting to wake my partner ) and can honestly say it was one of the most vivid and delicious taste-sensations I’ve ever had.

  266. hic8ubique permalink
    March 9, 2011 6:12 PM

    I love Braeburns too, good with all sorts of cheese, or just to have in my bag when I have a longish drive. It’s interchangeable with a tennis ball if I don’t have one at hand when I need to friction my hypertonic left hamstrings while driving.
    I understand the recipe replication effort is unsatisfactory, but this is from the wiki-up:

    ‘Agave nectar’s glycemic index and glycemic load are comparable to fructose, which in turn has a much lower glycemic index and glycemic load than table sugar (sucrose).’

    So if you wanted a drop of sweet to add to your tea or such, it is essentially fruit.
    I’d have to ponder what my most vivid taste experience has been…

  267. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:53 PM

    I really couldn’t eat an espadrille:
    I’ve never got on with foreign food.
    English products are good enough, I feel,
    A fried plimsoll, or some wellies, stewed.

    Those are some very complex pancakes, hic. We used to do them crepes suzette style years ago, but stopped after an unfortunate accident involving brandy, matches and my hair. I suppose the Prince sucked his in through a straw. Poor chap.

    I must say that beach of yours sounds ideal for the labrador fancier. Perhaps I shall send my colleague Mr Butcherdog over to investigate. According to deadgod, inhabitants of the western seaboard of Ireland rush to the beaches and throw themselves into the briny on John the Baptist’s feastday. What remarkable people they must be.

    • Reine permalink
      March 9, 2011 10:55 PM

      “What remarkable people they must be.” Quite.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 10, 2011 2:23 AM

      People begin doing that here long before midsummer, and without the impetus of baptismal associations.
      If I were to restrict the pancake ritual to the lenten period, there’d be such discontent I’d never hear the end of it. I’m not even sure what crepes suzette is comprised of. It just seemed better at some historical point to roll fruit into the pancake rather than mix it into the batter because that makes a burnt mess of the pan.

      I’ve heard talk of Lady Gaga invading Martha’s Vineyard, and this reminds me of the enlightenment my children experienced there at The Black Dog (Labs again) when their pancakes came with chocolate bits mixed in. Now that standards have sunk below the plimsoll line, the youngest has hers with (I can hardly bear to say it) … aerosol whipped cream.

  268. Reine permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:53 PM

    Pink shirt, no jacket or tie, hoop earring with a blue stone … it’s a completely new look in Chamber wear.

    I think my entire left side is “hypertonic” Hic, I may take to carrying a small apple tree in the passenger seat although I’m not at all clear on how one would employ it.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 10, 2011 2:38 AM

      Do you look like him, Mowbray?

      Re, we should have a Gina chat about your left side… I’m sure we can find something helpful, yet short of employing the whole tree.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 10, 2011 5:04 PM

      There’s no resemblance at all, I’m afraid, and I wouldn’t be seen dead in pink.

  269. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:57 PM

    And it’s whispered that soon
    If we all call the tune
    Then the piper will lead us to reason

    • Reine permalink
      March 9, 2011 11:01 PM

      Don’t think he’s much of a singer.

      I was once sure all that glittered was gold; reality is a cruel fiend.

    • Reine permalink
      March 9, 2011 11:02 PM

      I’m singing my tired heart out for you now MM!

  270. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 9, 2011 11:16 PM

    I’d lay off the singing. Tachycardia can be very unpleasant.

    I never thought much of Led Zep. Their bluster always seemed faintly ridiculous, and those lyrics… urgh.

    • Reine permalink
      March 9, 2011 11:24 PM

      Before my time really but I confess I have a weakness for Stairway… Plant did a nice duet album with Alison Kraus a few years ago called Raising Sand. This is my favourite song from it…

  271. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 10, 2011 12:10 AM

    That’s not bad, actually. Anyway,

    There’s a feeling I get
    when I look to the west,
    that my alarm clock’s set:
    I must go for my rest.

  272. hic8ubique permalink
    March 10, 2011 2:33 AM

    Of late, the piper practising his bombarde has driven me beyond reason. Followed by dogs, I withdraw to the remotest regions of the house, and still its ear-splitting timbre cuts through… just speaking of tachycardia.

  273. Parisa permalink
    March 10, 2011 3:34 AM

    Have suddenly discovered I may be diabetic – (borderline for the mo) so reading all about the pancakes put me in a mis mood rather than a normally chirpy one. Don’t know how I could be – eat v healthily & not overweight. Hope yours isn’t in any way debilitating Edward. Apparently it’s on the rise, tho’. As is insomnia. Must be something in the water. What next, I say – went to a diabetics lecture last nite – doc says he can reverse it – something about cells or something – I was sitting at the back & couldn’t hear a word.

    Hic – think you mentioned a much-loved movie of mine, too – Everlasting Moments was it?
    La Reine – the boobies are half the size now – but better than nothing!

    Imagine Misha is making the best of things – what with the nurses making his bed every day & all. When I told Doug my significant other he said he was quite envious – said he could do with a good rest. Anyway let’s hope that each day sees him getting better & better.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 10, 2011 2:37 PM

      Hi P~ Yes, it was Everlasting Moments, and now I do recall you mentioning it as a favourite. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
      If I could summon the manners, I’d tell your Doug about the ‘Roller Baby’ three-wheeler I had for walks with my youngest. It could go on the beach, and we used it every day til it was a rusted relic.
      They were a still fairly new invention then, and some geezer would always need to pass a jovial remark:
      ‘Hey, I’d like to be pushed in one of those things!’
      To which I would invariably say:
      ‘No you wouldn’t. Mind what you wish for.’

  274. Parisa permalink
    March 10, 2011 3:39 AM

    I meant half the size in the pic before I was a big girl.

    A … Almost Boobs
    B … Barely there.
    C … Can’t Complain!
    D … Damn!
    DD… Double damn!
    E … Enormous!
    F … Fake

    • Reine permalink
      March 10, 2011 10:16 AM

      Well, I’ll be damned then.

  275. Parisa permalink
    March 10, 2011 3:50 AM

    However some of the comments here had me falling off my chair – well okay spluttering in my coffee giggling – which made up for the pancakes – well kinda sorta.

  276. reine permalink
    March 10, 2011 8:35 AM

    Off out the door with a braeburn in my handbag and a song in my better rested heart, good morning to y’all. An apple has been sitting on my locker for the past week but I have not yet awoken to have an orgasmic eating experience with it, more’s the pity. I might replace it with a new one and set my alarm tonight.

  277. March 10, 2011 10:02 AM

    I used to love Led Zep when I was 15 then “moved on” but saw Page & Plant about 15 years ago who were fantastic and have re-discovered Led Zep again. Only in moderation mind you. Their lyrics are beyond ludicrous but tbh I prefer that to the current uber-tasteful stuff that Robert Plant is doing now.

    His new stuff is all impeccably well done, Alison Krauss is a great singer but where are the 35 minute long drum solos or guitar improvisations with violin bows and echoplex?

    Parisa Diabetes is trending at the moment. 95% of the time I don’t know I have it but it has played havoc with my weight and brought out a ratty impatience I didn’t know I had “thinks” when can I finish this bloody comment?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 10, 2011 2:40 PM

      ET~ are you on the pump? I know people who’ve done wonderfully well on it, and it just might smooth you out.

  278. March 10, 2011 12:58 PM

    This just in from the Land of the Crazy People:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110310/us_nm/us_crime_hamster

    • March 10, 2011 8:55 PM

      What amused me was that they needed to have an autopsy on the hamster to establish its death.

      Was the defence claiming the hamster had had a heart attack before it was picked up and throttled ( throttling a hamster – now there’s an image ) thus proving that the hamster died of natural causes and the defendant’s “crime” was merely to callously throw it out the door.

    • March 10, 2011 9:56 PM

      I was always under the impression that hamsters were neckless, ET… but, then, I never attempted to throttle mine, so that would explain that. Though I’m sure there are probably less serious charges for killing Iraqi hamsters…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 10, 2011 10:59 PM

      One of the chaps I shared a house with as a student agreed to look after his terrifying girlfriend’s (one of the most bad-tempered women I’ve ever met) two goldfish and hamster while she was away. On the second day one of the goldfish died, so we scoured the pet shops of East London for a ringer. Next day the other one died, so the four of us set off again, three pretty bored but supportive, the fourth white as a sheet and carrying the deceased in an envelope for purposes of comparison. We got the thing installed and resumed our lethargic round. It was a cold winter, and the only heating was a small electric fire: on the morning of Medusa’s return we got up to find Hammy frozen to death in his cage.

    • March 10, 2011 11:27 PM

      Is this confession admissible in a court of law, MM?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 10, 2011 11:56 PM

      It’s a spent conviction, Mr A. The case was heard, argued and the verdict handed down in fifteen seconds. Punishment was administered by a baleful harridan who screeched high-volume imprecations at the perpetrators for as long as three of them could take it. The fourth had to give Hammy a state funeral in the garden and spent the next month cleaning Lady Macbeth’s shoes with his hair.

    • March 11, 2011 12:50 AM

      Ah, I miss the ’80s…

    • March 11, 2011 8:26 AM

      did she notice the badly painted trout and Siamese fighting fish that you replaced the goldfish with?

    • Reine permalink
      March 11, 2011 8:37 AM

      We were away for Christmas years ago and on our return Goldie and Gold (knockout names eh?) had kicked the bucket. It was one of the most tragic funerals I ever attended and being funeral director as well as mourner was doubly stressful. Now, we just keep tuna.

  279. Reine permalink
    March 10, 2011 3:24 PM

    Hic, thank you for offer of consultation which I might well take you up on sometime. Hope the piper has taken a break so that you may have some ease.x

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 10, 2011 8:07 PM

      Yes, thanks, well-rested one. Today he’s deeply into his intense relationship with tech-support.

  280. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 10, 2011 5:12 PM

    So, all our pensions will now be annexed to ensure that our bankers get the bonuses their success has entitled them to. That seems fair.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 10, 2011 8:11 PM

      ‘So, all our pensions will now be annexed’

      I misread that first phrase, no doubt due to the frequency of phallus-oriented remarks on this blog.

    • Reine permalink
      March 10, 2011 8:17 PM

      The old law of diminishing returns applies in either case.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 10, 2011 10:35 PM

      I miswrote it.

      The policy regarding women is still under consideration.

    • Reine permalink
      March 10, 2011 10:59 PM

      Assets to be arbitrated.

  281. March 10, 2011 5:30 PM

    We also appear to be on the verge of going to war with Libya presumably so that Cameron’s popularity can get a boost like Thatcher’s did with the Falklands.

    I was grimly (un)amused by the news that a couple of people previously on disability allowance died of the illness that was killing them just after ATOS had re-assessed their claims and judged them fit for work.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 10, 2011 11:59 PM

      Well, another war can’t hurt. We’ve been so successful lately.

  282. March 10, 2011 6:26 PM

    Seems reasonable to me. Who’d want to admit being a banker?

  283. Parisa permalink
    March 11, 2011 9:22 AM

    Hey Hic – D didn’t mean it – of course!!!!

    We’ve just been issued a tsunami warning for Californian coast – “no evacuation necessary”.

    That Hampster story from MM is so sad. Sometimes you can’t fight fate.

    “`

  284. Parisa permalink
    March 11, 2011 9:54 AM

    I guess the bankers want their pensions too…..

    “Bankers: crooks with pens in their pockets”. (I heard that on Hustle – the telly prog we get here in the US – it’s v good. (Tho’ an oldie – with Robert Vaughn, from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. About confidence tricksters) Same production team as early Spooks. Any telly from the UK is always v watchable – we’ve just had an early Prime Suspect – also really good. I must sound as if I come from the archives but honestly – to hear folks talking English with an English accent touches my heart.

  285. Reine permalink
    March 11, 2011 11:06 AM

    Those poor people in Japan; some very frightening footage. I suppose we could replace our earlier bad vibes with good ones for what it’s worth.

  286. March 11, 2011 3:26 PM

    The lunar perigree, the closest the moon has been to earth in 18 years, 356,577 km, occurs on 19 March, and some speculate this is responsible for increased extreme weather, volcanic and earthquake activity.

    • March 11, 2011 8:27 PM

      Des, as the Resident Permanoiac of the Literary Corner of Das Web, it’s my duty to mention what others dare not:

      “In 1997, former US Defense Secretary William Cohen made the following statement:

      Others [terrorists] are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves…

      Cohen was talking about longitudinal EM wave interferometers (LWI) technology (also known as “Tesla howitzers”). LWI waves can effortlessly pass through the ocean and Earth. Experts claim LWI waves can in fact pass through the Earth and emerge on the other side. The United States and Russia have possessed this technology for decades.

      In 1966, Professor Gordon J.F. MacDonald, associate director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the University of California, was a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee. MacDonald published papers on the use of environmental-control technologies for military purposes, including “earthquake engineering” (he also wrote about weather manipulation, climate modification, polar ice cap melting or destabilisation, and ozone depletion techniques).

      “The revealed secrets surprised legislators,” writes Dr. Nick Begich, author of the groundbreaking expose Angels Don’t Play This HAARP. “Would an inquiry into the state of the art of electromagnetic manipulation surprise lawmakers today? They may find out that technologies developed out of the HAARP experiments in Alaska could deliver on Gordon MacDonald’s vision because leading-edge scientists are describing global weather as not only air pressure and thermal systems, but also as an electrical system.”

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 12, 2011 3:25 AM

      On the other hand St.A, the free energy work of Tesla et al has been further developed for healing applications as well, ie tachyon antennae.

  287. March 11, 2011 7:14 PM

    Good for a chuckle:

    “Investigators have not said what finally led them to Mr. Ponzo [a former minor mafioso and fugitive] , 42, but his new life had been fraying in the months before they found him. Cara Lyn Pace, his girlfriend since before he arrived in Marsing and the mother of his two children, left him last summer and later took the children, a boy, 7, and a girl, 6. The couple were locked in a custody dispute.”

    Christ, *who* could have turned Mr. Ponzo in…?

  288. March 11, 2011 7:23 PM

    The family hamster?

    • March 11, 2011 7:28 PM

      You’re thinking of *Richard Gere’s* domestic problems, ET (and it wasn’t a hamster, exactly)

  289. March 11, 2011 7:44 PM

    Not for the first time SA.

    Forgive me for recycling this ( ahem ) poem from an earlier PH blog

    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.

    • March 11, 2011 8:18 PM

      (deeply moved)

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 11, 2011 8:47 PM

      Looking forward to your Freddie Starr, ET.

    • March 11, 2011 9:30 PM

      MM Since you asked

      The Waist Band

      April is the cruellest month, lacking
      Tours of hippodromes and financial backing.
      Memory of what I do on stage fading
      Can’t go on without alcohol aiding.

      The Winter tour kept me in cash
      Even though my act is getting slapdash.
      Summer surprised me, a gig in Blackpool
      Pensioners like to see Freddie act the fool.
      Next stop, Bournemouth Winter Gardens for
      Three days, short compared to when I used to tour.

      Acidic stomach pacified by milk
      Sitting in the green room listening to support act, Acker Bilk.
      I drink much of the night and fall south about three
      I keep everyone awake, I snore noisily.
      The paper thin walls give no shelter, no respite from the noise
      As I wake up parents their girls and boys.

      I snore datta, dayavdham,danyatta
      Interspersed with subconscious chatter.
      I worry that I’m getting fatter
      I worry I’m losing my comic patter.

      Goonight career goonight goonight.
      This torment ends when it gets light.
      Goonight chuck I’m not quite finished yet
      Though it might have been different if I hadn’t
      Eaten that pet.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 11, 2011 11:17 PM

      Supersonic!

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 11, 2011 11:22 PM

      Which was the name of the hamster (allegedly).

  290. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 11, 2011 8:38 PM

    Farewell, My Goldfish

    I’m sorry about your departure,
    and sorry it was a muddle,
    we had hours of quiet pleasure
    goggling at each other.

    You glowed like specie in the shop,
    forget the bass, the mighty whale,
    in the piscine world you were top,
    my love for you was off the scale.

    Your final port of call, my friend,
    was more decorous than the bin,
    but it wasn’t an ideal end,
    or, as they say en francais, fin.

    But moving day was imminent,
    options were fewer and fewer,
    one solution was convenient:
    you’ll enjoy life in the sewer.

  291. Reine permalink
    March 11, 2011 10:22 PM

    Douze points boys… ye’re smokin’.

  292. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 11, 2011 11:34 PM

    When my son was about seven his goldfish died. Mrs M and me conferred anxiously over the technique of breaking the sad news. We sat him down on the sofa, put an arm round him and very gently told him of the fish’s demise. He sat looking blank for a few seconds. Then he said ‘Can we eat it?’

  293. hic8ubique permalink
    March 12, 2011 3:20 AM

    Somewhere scribbled I have a verse composed to celebrate the brief life of Turq the Siamese Fighting Fish. His passing was an emotional event when LE was 9 or so. The modest remains went to fertilise one or two sprigs of lily-of-the-valley out back… ‘He’s gone to a Betta place, Sweetie.’

    Have I mentioned Fortnight the goldfish, who is an indistinct swampy colour?
    He was a giveaway at uni parents weekend two and a half yrs ago. I might become superstitious about keeping him going til the boy finishes school. His companion floated within a week, but F just gets bigger. By the end, I may need ExB’s carp pool to uphold the educational cause.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 12, 2011 4:03 PM

      Fortnight’s an optimistic handle, given the mortality rates of goldfish. Considering their annoyingly high level of maintenance, water-changing, bowl-washing, fin-rotting etc I’d call it Five Minutes and hope it lived up to the name. Are goldfish usually offered as inducements at American universities?

      Perhaps that’s how Hull acquired the services of Phil Larkin. Eh oop, Mister Larkin, join ower universiteh and there’s a crate of ‘addock in it for tha’.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 12, 2011 7:11 PM

      I seem to recall a ‘hazing’ tradition involving goldfish swallowing, which might be considered an inducement to vomit. Maybe it’s not even hazing, just a convivial frat-boy activity.
      He’s named for the frequency of my water changing regimen.

  294. Reine permalink
    March 12, 2011 9:39 AM

    Heading west hombres and hombrelinas, happy weekend to you all.

    Mishari, hope the recovery is “proceeding apace going forward” as the pols might say.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 12, 2011 7:23 PM

      Very sweet, Re. Enjoy your visit. I’m going out into the first day of sun seemingly for ages, then to a gala evening. It’s a rare event much to be savoured when the Spouse appears in short coat and tails.

      Tomorrow makes three weeks since Mishari’s accident, if I recall correctly. He is much in my thoughts, and festive mode is not coming easily to me.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 13, 2011 12:01 AM

      I suppose HRH’s plaster should be coming off soon, but I expect he’ll need some physio before he can use his fingers again. No coarse jokes, please.

  295. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 12, 2011 11:55 PM

    Fishers Of Men (And Women).

    Good evening, welcome to Taylor College,
    an education is a lifelong quest
    and here at Taylor the faculty pledge
    your son or daughter will receive the best.

    Sign up for a first degree and get a plaice,
    or any other white fish in season,
    take a master’s and you have a choice
    of whatever fish you want (within reason).

    With a doctorate or a PhD
    there’s no limit at all on the scale
    of fish you might expect: a big tunny,
    or (in qualifying subjects), a whale.

    Now, please take your time to wander about,
    and investigate anything you wish.
    Oh, and when you’re done and on the way out,
    don’t forget your complimentary goldfish.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 13, 2011 8:11 PM

      Fissures of Women (and Men)

      It isn’t such a falsehood
      to rearrange to best advantage
      that which nature has apportioned
      into plumper closer carriage

      Nor a sin to cleave together
      what god has made asunder,
      but an act of revelation
      to embrace the Bra of Wonder

      The higher primates’ instinct
      is enslaved by a cleft cynosure
      either front or backside structure,
      anatomically: a fissure.

      Although, at gala evenings finer folk
      apply this rule of thumb:
      low decolletage is proper,
      but it’s rude to show your bum.

      Other women’s husbands
      struggle not to drop their eyes
      too many times whilst chatting
      and strike a compromise

      by straining to hold eye contact
      until I look away
      at which point decorum’s satisfied
      and eyes are free to stray.

      The lesbians are more direct,
      the ones who show some zest,
      they come right out admitting:
      ‘I am staring at your chest’.

      I believed it was the velvet
      that was fetching compliments
      but in retrospect the credit for
      allure to belles and gents

      goes to an unseen asset;
      I’m dismayed to’ve come so far
      in life without the social grace
      of last night’s push-up bra.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 13, 2011 10:14 PM

      Exemplary vers de société. Brilliant!

    • Reine permalink
      March 13, 2011 10:30 PM

      Oh, oh, oh …. I am breathless with envy and admiration. A – at the poem; B – at the “brilliant”. Fantastic, fantastic. xxx

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 13, 2011 11:27 PM

      Hope your visit went well, Reine. I forecast all Ireland will be in tears next weekend, so be prepared.

    • Reine permalink
      March 13, 2011 11:55 PM

      Thanks MM; I’m still here, driving back tomorrow. Controversial try in Welsh match according to pater but we have no hope against England he said, in accordance with your prediction. I have hardly stopped laughing since I arrived, most therapeutic. More snow here on high ground but no goldfish attrition to report.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 14, 2011 12:21 AM

      Breaking the sofa’s confining shackles
      and leaving it in a heap,
      I dodge the stairs’ despairing tackles
      and hit the tryline of sleep.

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 12:44 AM

      Propped forward on my virgin couch
      I’ve no need for a cap
      If I kick a Garry Owen
      It’ll land back in my lap
      There’s no one here to make a scrum
      Nor with whom to make a ruck
      No loose forwards I can make succumb
      But I couldn’t give a fuck
      No, I’m not having a breakdown
      In the absence of a maul
      I’ll make soon for the try zone
      And to sweet slumber faul.

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 12:45 AM

      fall, even.

  296. Andrea/Parisa permalink
    March 13, 2011 1:11 AM

    Misha – if you’re taking a peek at your blog – this is to hopefully cheer you – I’m not sure if you can risk it bringing a smile to your face – oh dear!
    xP

  297. March 13, 2011 7:26 PM

    This ones for you Mishari. Hope you’ll be with us soon to complain about it if nothing else

  298. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 13, 2011 11:24 PM

    Enjoy this:

  299. hic8ubique permalink
    March 14, 2011 1:01 AM

    You’re very kind, you two. Thanks. It was inspired by MM’s ‘Fisher’ offering of course, as well as Parisa’s taxonomy lesson back somewhere around the 500 comments mark.
    I’ve been too earnest of mood lately to write much of anything fun.
    As far as I can surmise, Mishari’s physiotherapy will be a Hell of an undertaking.
    He may be a great candidate for aquatic therapy, so I hope that’s available in London. They use floats and weights to stabilise the torso and to facilitate range of motion.
    The risk of a fall and further concussion is absolutely unacceptable, but binocular vision is involved in balance, and crutches are out anyway. Even with an ortho boot, he’ll be in a chair when he begins to be get about. The nurses will be the big and hairy sort in teams of at least two for every transfer.

    The strain on the psyche of such a fastidious and dignified (and melancholic) person as Mishari just doesn’t bear thinking about, and yet…
    None of you gets away with mentioning your ailments without exciting my FlorenceN instincts (as everyone here has been subjected to) and they are in high alert these days.
    But it truly is nothing short of miraculous, the human capacity to triumph through adversity, and if I know of anyone fiercely equal to such a challenge, I believe it’s our friend who is now in the worst of it.

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 1:10 AM

      ” if I know of anyone fiercely equal to such a challenge, I believe it’s our friend who is now in the worst of it”

      Amen to that girlfriend. ;)(Nice cleavage btw…)

    • March 14, 2011 8:45 AM

      “But it truly is nothing short of miraculous, the human capacity to triumph through adversity,”

      Indeed it is – a friend of mine’s 15 year old son whose abilities to breathe and walk are severely impaired has just had an operation to shore up his weak spinal column ( which cannot cope with supporting his growing body ) with a metal version running alongside.

      The technology involved in making this spine and the medical skill involved in positioning it alone are mind-boggling but would come to nothing without the pragmatic optimism of the boy.

  300. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 14, 2011 5:12 PM

    I’m going to withdraw my prediction for next weekend. This morning I remembered making a similar forecast for the game against Scotland in 1990. That didn’t end well.

    I’m not too worried about the Prince’s psyche, primed as it is by centuries of overdogging. There are concerns, however, about the aural health of sensitive individuals in his vicinity. Ear protection should be worn.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 14, 2011 5:45 PM

      Good. Bellowing is a positive indication that pneumonia has been averted…
      There is indeed hydrotherapy available in London, which somehow indirectly assuages my rampant imagination. It really is the most fantastic rehab treatment, and Watsu, which is shiatsu with flotation is sublime.

      Here’s an inspiring case study:
      http://www.thewellingtonhospital.com/jonny-bellis-podcast.asp

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 7:41 PM

      Your withdrawal is regrettable (as the actress didn’t say to the bishop); I was going to suggest a wager and try to defend my patriotic pride.

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 11:07 PM

      I’m my second husband’s first wife.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 14, 2011 11:14 PM

      …Lucky chap scores hole in one.

      ?

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 11:26 PM

      I sat beside him in a restaurant a few weeks ago; he’s much smaller than I expected. Just for you, I’ll try to find him again and put the kibosh on him.

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 11:28 PM

      Hic, we may need to have a quiet word about the many meanings of “hole” in Hiberno-English.

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 11:32 PM

      Drunken kisses make a miss Mrs.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 14, 2011 11:40 PM

      Now the these designs are interesting, but the link to ‘unintentional porn’, has a ‘manhole’ item that is worth ‘looking into’ for a laugh.
      nedhardy.com/2011/03/10/34-cleverly-designed-inventions

  301. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 14, 2011 11:16 PM

    Me, me, me, me, me, me.

    All bets are off, Reine. If you happen to see Brian O’Driscoll knee him in the hamstring.

    • Reine permalink
      March 14, 2011 11:27 PM

      see above.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 14, 2011 11:45 PM

      do mi sol fa la la.

      ?

  302. Reine permalink
    March 14, 2011 11:54 PM

    do me so do so me do.

  303. Reine permalink
    March 14, 2011 11:55 PM

    an extra word slipped in there…

  304. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 14, 2011 11:58 PM

    You never let me down, Wispa.

    I’m surprised by O’Driscoll’s lack of stature. Even the shorter rugby players look gigantic compared to the men of the past. It’s all that weight-training. Well, should make it easier to get in that roundhouse kick to the thigh, or a swift jab in the groin. England expects.

    • Reine permalink
      March 15, 2011 12:02 AM

      For a minute there, I thought you had developed a pet name for me but then I realised you are describing a darker darling than I, one you could dip in your tea.

      I’ll probably go for the groin… I have a kind of natural radar for that. It’s a gift that must be used wisely.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 15, 2011 12:04 AM

      The last one was a Flake.

  305. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 15, 2011 12:27 AM

    I’m afraid that nothing stirs
    inside my foggy head,
    so, in half a dozen words,
    I am making for my bed.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 15, 2011 12:33 AM

      Angels sing
      thee thee thee
      thee thee thee
      to thy rest
      as is best.

  306. March 15, 2011 2:51 AM

  307. March 15, 2011 2:53 AM

    iT WON’T EMBED, BIT THE youtube above is of an elephant paINTING A PICTURE OF AN ELEPHANT

  308. March 15, 2011 5:04 AM

    I have the greatest respect for Mishari, sympathize deeply for and identify all too wincingly with his current physical distress, but the continuing unstoppable invasion of the inbox by the most ridiculous twaddle ever uttered by allegedly sophisticated adults, at this time, in this world, arriving (so far) 577 times, under the woesomely “ironic” heading Fun, Fun, Fun!, has become… entirely noisome.

    It seems that, once subscribed to post-comments, there is no going back. Being immersed eternally in a river of silly, embarrassing, regressive private incrowd gossip of no return, as it were.

    Suggestion: given Mish himself appears unable to do so, would someone else be willing to put this miserable post-that-will-not-end out of its misery by posting something else, under some other title?

    That way only those who wish to share this outpouring of sheer bollocks will be able to do so without out having to blow up one’s computer (in several respects an undesirable option).

    • Reine permalink
      March 15, 2011 8:47 AM

      Tom, check your computer settings would be my advice. Nothing comes into my inbox which I have not specifically invited in.

      I, for one, have shown you nothing but courtesy in any of my comments or compliments on your work prior to this and put your rather brisk attitude down to a touch of artistic curmudgeon, but it might be time to get down off your high horse.

      Your fine mind notwithstanding, I do not think the irony of the post title has been lost on any of us either in the context of Mishari’s circumstances or what is happening in the world but if, out of affection and fellow feeling for Mishari and each other, we choose to keep the home fires burning, it’s not a hanging offence.

      I realise I am a bottom feeder in poetry terms but I come here to write verse, exchange views, learn from others and have a laugh and Mishari has been nothing but democratic in allowing us all to have our say.

  309. March 15, 2011 9:52 AM

    Tom this thread doesn’t seem particularly any different to the usual PH mixture though perhaps we’re all wondering how Mishari is, whether he’s reading this stuff and in consequence maybe lightening the tone of the comments.

    The difference is that it’s become a far longer thread than usual due to the editor’s attention being otherwise occupied.

    Like you my computer is beginning to struggle to download the contents – it crashed two-thirds of the way through the effort yesterday.

    So I wonder, until normal service gets back to normal and we can switch to the next theme, whether at the very least the posting of YouTube clips ( and I am as “guilty” as anyone in this respect )
    could be suspended in order to help those of us still on hamster-driven broadband.

  310. March 15, 2011 9:55 AM

    Don’t be a Brahmin cunt, Tom. Reine, Hic, MM, ET, EB and a few others are responsible for 90% of the total posts at PH; without them, PH would be Mish being trenchantly witty on his own. PH at its off-piste-est does what it says on the box and the people gathered here (and their chat) are its *point*, not its problem. I’m sure there’s a more euphonious way of seeking Tech Aid, Tom…

    • Reine permalink
      March 15, 2011 10:04 AM

      I wrote in haste and temper and apologise for my “curmudgeon” remark.

  311. March 15, 2011 10:16 AM

    Reine, you’re apologizing for “curmudgeon” in the face of “the most ridiculous twaddle ever uttered by allegedly sophisticated adults”…?

    • Reine permalink
      March 15, 2011 10:20 AM

      Trying to make my point without sinking to his level Steven.

  312. Reine permalink
    March 15, 2011 10:23 AM

    …laughing at my faux noblesse oblige.

  313. March 15, 2011 10:24 AM

    Aha! What some Tech Prodigy needs to do is invent Avatars which do double-duty as mood-contingent Emoticons… wait. Are you saying I’ve sunk to Tom’s level…? (cue: panto feud)

    • Reine permalink
      March 15, 2011 10:27 AM

      See you at dawn. Make sure your gun is loaded…

    • March 15, 2011 11:07 AM

      I was thinking of a mud-wrestling match, actually, Reine… pistols are too abstract (he sniffed)

    • Reine permalink
      March 15, 2011 11:09 AM

      Mud wrestling as opposed to slinging would make a pleasant change, you’re on. Will you be wearing a thong?

    • March 15, 2011 11:21 AM

      You’d like that, would you? Eh? Eh?

    • Reine permalink
      March 15, 2011 11:37 AM

      I’m easy. (chorus “we know that”)

  314. Reine permalink
    March 15, 2011 10:26 AM

    Tom, you have only made a rod for your own back now.

  315. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2011 11:53 AM

    Hello, everyone. Let me apologise for my inattentiveness of late but I’m back in the saddle (albeit monocular, monopedal and whatever you call someone with one arm…Lefty?). I’ll put this thread out of it’s misery later today and put up a new post and poetic task. I’m very grateful to you all for your good wishes and for keeping things going during my enforced absence and keeping me amused and interested. Thank you, my dears.

    Kevin, for some reason, wordpress isn’t keen on commenters using the ’embed’ code. It’s better to post the url (you’re usually offered both the ’embed’ code and the ‘url’ code) of the video, which then embeds itself. Please thank Susannah for her good wishes…that was a generous and good-natured gesture and I appreciate it. Until later then, campers…

    • Reine permalink
      March 15, 2011 11:57 AM

      Really good to see you Mishari. x

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      March 15, 2011 12:49 PM

      Nice to have you back, boss.

  316. hic8ubique permalink
    March 15, 2011 12:33 PM

    Yes, overjoyed to see you this morning. x
    I’ve felt quite passionate about keeping up the thread, Mishari, on the one hand to give an outlet to my anxiety, and on the… same hand… because it is our channel of connection that might allow you to know how much we’ve all been with you in spirit.
    I’m full of gratitude for everyone who’s come through this thread together.

  317. March 15, 2011 12:38 PM

    Cheers Mish. Will be seeing Sue later today. She has just got back from her latest round of international travel and should be popping into town from her Kilmainham lair.

    I am sitting in my gaffe in the city centre, slightly hungover after succumbing yesterday to the 12 euro temptation of Lidl’s own brand Dundalgan whiskey, from the Cooley brewery in Dundalk. Just over half a bottle. Thinking of Ernest Dowson and should I go in as this dead poet; but then thinking, no, my time there is over, it is more interesting watching from afar and masturbating over Carol’s avatar from here, making vids of oneself, naked, swearing into the camera, wanking, wanking, wanking away and being able to say stuff Com Mod would fucking hang me for there and would cause Sheenagh and co to vomit in disgust..

  318. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 15, 2011 12:50 PM

    Putting aside a Pina Colada,
    and selecting pause on my Playstation,
    ignoring an untasted Crunchie bar,
    I think on my alleged sophistication.

    It’s true I often buy Tesco Finest,
    but I make no apology for that,
    a boulevardier like moi must have the best,
    and Morrison’s products are utter tat.

    It’s usually a false economy
    not to buy your stuff from the better marques:
    shoes come from Jean at Poundland for me,
    I wouldn’t touch that rubbish from Clarks.

    I like an unpretentious writing style,
    and a dip in the river of twaddle –
    wait a minute, it’s time for Jeremy Kyle,
    and then America’s Next Top Model.

  319. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    March 15, 2011 3:22 PM

    Peerless, MM. Although in the past I myself have been made wincingly aware of the foolishness of subscribing to repeat post alerts, it’s hard not to laugh at Tom’s discomfort. I’m sure we can all forgive the frustration felt by one who can’t unsubscribe or master the delete key. And we don’t want anybody here reduced to blowing up their own toshiba.

    Welcome back, sweet prince.

  320. March 15, 2011 3:38 PM

    Thanks, Henry. I too am having a laugh, I almost think.

    Were it not for the things now actually going on in it, the world might seem a far lovelier place.

    Ed, Steve, XB, everybody, geniuses of twaddle and doggerel, puffers up of bedroom slippers, I didn’t mean you, I didn’t mean anybody, I didn’t mean anything, it’s all (almost) good.

    Being a curmudgeon and/or a brahmin cunt, these are rare compliments, who could say no to them

    (I have now exprest my private condol… er, congratulations to the prince, upon his glorious recovery, in the security of his e-tent, Mothership of the Sultanate.)

    Had I too not spent the winter attempting to recover from fractures, the world might seem a far lovelier place.

    Were it not for the things now going on in it.

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