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The Situation Is Excellent

April 17, 2011



Je sucerai, pour noyer ma rancoeur,
Le népenthès et la bonne ciguë —Baudelaire, Le Léthé

*I’ll suckle, to drown my hate’s lash,
Nepenthe and bitter hemlock and hash

(my own very free translation)

“Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.” — K’ung fu-tzu, 5th Century B.C.

‘My Drug Hell!’ If one were to believe the tabloid press, ‘Drug Hell’ is a place exclusively populated by celebrities–current, has-been, never-was and never-will-be; mega, mini, micro and nano. As near as I can make out, the ‘drug hell’ of slebs is shorthand for being caught, usually by the tabloid press. I’ve never experienced ‘drug hell’: drug inferno, drug limbo, drug perdition, drug heaven and the drug equivalent of a wet weekend in Hull–yes; Hell, no. But one expects this sort of rubbish from the tabloid press.

Now The Observer, Britain’s worst broadsheet Sunday newspaper–a font of ill-informed, vapid bourgeois drivel–has entered this well-trodden arena with a story that ticks all the wrong boxes.

When Vicky and Ross Cattell woke at the usual time on Wednesday 2 March they had no reason to think the day would not pan out just like any other. They were at their flat in Geneva, where they had been living for just over a year, and their first thought, as always, was for their children in London, Tommy, 23, and Louise, 21. Both, as far as they knew, were still safely in bed, Tommy at the family home in Belsize Park and Louise at her bachelor-girl flat in Clapton, further east.

Ross set off for work at Deloitte, the financial advisory firm, and Vicky prepared for her daily exercise routine. Everything seemed utterly normal. Then, just before his 8.30am meeting, Ross’s phone rang with the news that would rip their world apart: Louise was dead, drowned in the bath after taking ketamine, the horse tranquilliser that is currently the “party drug” of choice among young people across the UK.–The Observer, today

There are a number of problems with this ‘story’. Setting aside the obvious–that this is a tragedy for the family involved–one has to ask: how the fuck did this mawkish, sub-tabloid guff make it into even a paper as degraded as The Observer?

What, for example, does ‘…Vicky prepared for her daily exercise routine…’ mean? What does this ‘preparation’ entail? Putting on a pair of fabric booties? Adjusting her ear-buds and the volume of ‘Sting Plays John Dowland’? I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. But let it pass.

More egregious is the paper’s description of Ketamine as a ‘horse tranquilliser’. It’s a pity that nobody on The Observer knows how to use Google. Had they searched out ‘Ketamine’, they would have discovered that it is a very useful general anaesthetic. Initially developed as an animal tranquilliser but now mostly employed in human surgery and administered by thousands of anaesthetists in the UK every day. It’s especially useful in patients who have lost a lot of blood but who require surgery, because Ketamine does not lower already dangerously low blood pressure.

As for ‘…currently the “party drug” of choice among young people across the UK…’, one has to laugh. Ketamine has been around, as far as I’m aware, since the early 90s. I’ve never taken it myself. Taking an anaesthetic that allows a surgeon to saw off your leg without your noticing does not strike me as a sound idea. Furthermore, I’d seen too many people on Ketamine, slumped in corners with drool depending from their chins, to think very highly of the experience: that much oblivion, I don’t need.

But ‘party drug of choice’ is arrant nonsense: Ketamine is and always was a minority interest. The ‘party drugs of choice’ in Britain are (as they’ve been for the last 20 years (in no particular order): alcohol, ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis.

Finally, would this story have made it into The Observer if the ‘victim’ had not been a nice, middle-class girl whose parents could afford a ‘bachelor-girl flat’ for their daughter? If she had been a working-class girl on a council estate in South London whose parents couldn’t find Geneva on a map, would we have read about this? I think we all know the answer to that. In papers like The Observer, death is only ‘tragic’ when it happens to ‘people like us’; lives are only ‘wasted’ when they’re lives ‘like ours’.

But it’s typical of the media ‘debate’ on drugs: sensationalism, sentiment, and misinformation with that ever-present underlay of puritan disapproval and class-politics.

I remember perfectly my first encounter with ‘mind altering drugs’. I was 9 or 10 years old and suffering from one of the childhood illnesses–measles, chicken-pox, mumps: I can’t remember which. Feeling feverish and restless, I complained to my mother that I couldn’t sleep. She gave me a yellow capsule with the word ‘Abbot’ printed on its side, (what I subsequently discovered to be Nembutal, a barbiturate) and told me that if I put my head down and relaxed, I’d soon be asleep. In fact, what happened was rather different.

First, a feeling of great physical well-being stole over me; this was followed by a sort of reckless boldness: I was game for anything. I prepared little speeches that I planned to deliver to certain teachers who had incurred my grave displeasure. Then I fell asleep.

It was a milestone of sorts: I had discovered the radical (for me) concept of ‘enhanced living through chemistry’. I’ve never looked back. With maturity comes responsibility, however, and my days of drug debauchery are long over and I confine myself to occasional opiate use and regular infusions of medicinal alcohol.

Never again will I wake up in a squat to discover that one of my companions had died of a barbiturate overdose during the night. I didn’t know the young woman, had never seen her before and couldn’t even tell the police her name. A friend then offered us a place in a squat that he was vacating: “There’s another guy there, bit of a full-on junkie but he’s alright”. We (me and my running partner) accepted the offer: the corpse had somehow drained the magic from the squat we were in. So we moved.

A couple of nights later, we came home late from a party. As we entered the flat, we could smell burning: “Must be something on the stove,” said my pal. We checked the kitchen but nothing was amiss. It was on entering the sitting room that we discovered the smell’s origin. Our erstwhile flatmate had overdosed with his bare feet in front of the gas fire: his toes were still burning like candles.

“What should we do?” said my mate. “First, let’s put out his toes,” I said. “Do you think he’s dead?” said my mate. “I think it’s fair to say that if your toes being on fire doesn’t wake you up, you’re dead.” I fetched a kettle from the kitchen and doused the burning toes. “Shall we call the cops?” said my mate.
I gazed at him in astonishment: “Are you out of your fucking mind? Two stiffs in one week? They’ll think we’re serial killers. Nah…we just move.” And we did.

Ah, halcyon days. We shall not, with any luck, look upon their like again.

I sometimes wonder if we’ll ever have an adult public discussion of drugs and drug policies in this country. Until we do, the fools we elect to govern us will keep trying to enforce unenforceable laws, people will keep taking drugs and people will keep dying unnecessarily because our infantile politicians won’t tell people the truth. Remember, kids: stupidity kills–just say ‘no’.

Verse on drugs, drug taking and intoxication, please.

  1. Reine permalink
    April 18, 2011 12:41 AM

    Roll With It

    Sitting cross-legged on the floor
    My agile fingers are wrung out
    To their full potential
    As you are all strung out
    To yours

    Frank has decided to have his hair plaited
    But keeps falling backwards
    Whispering “Leave him, I love you”
    We abandon coiffure

    Philip is cutting
    I am rolling
    You are in charge of roaches
    The room is a haze of green
    Apace with my nausea

    My breasts ache
    Tears sting my eyes
    Davey hums Dylan
    And no one moves

  2. April 18, 2011 6:26 PM

    It started with the tokes in mother’s womb;
    black hash and acid, twenty fags a day.
    The flower-chick’s kid’s already halfway
    to narc nirvana. Now his noms de plume
    give him the ecstasy he missed out on
    when all around his foetus did their bongs

  3. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2011 8:39 PM

    Can I take this opportunity to encourage everyone to vote ‘Yes’ to AV? Initially, I thought I’d enjoy voting ‘No’ just to give that scumbag Clegg a good kicking.

    However, having given the matter some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that A.) Clegg is done anyway, B.) AV is far from ideal but it’s marginally better than FPTP, and C.) if the ‘Yes’ vote wins, Cameron will blow a blood vessel in his brain, a delightful prospect.

    You only need to remember two things:

    1. Cameron won the leadership of his party under AV. He now claims the system is grossly unfair. Huh?

    2. People claiming that AV is ‘complicated’ and ‘hard to understand’ are too moronic to be allowed to vote in the first place. Here’s how it works:

    1) Voters order the candidates on a ballot paper in order of preference
    (with me so far?)

    2) Votes are tallied. Those candidates with no chance of winning are eliminated. Their second preferences are counted.

    3) Repeat until you have a candidate with over 50% – that candidate, who most accurately represents majority opinion, wins. Simples.

  4. Reine permalink
    April 18, 2011 10:25 PM

    Hic/K, arrived home ten minutes ago, sitting now covered in glitter and bedecked in my soap scented yarn. Love my presents, love the card (how well you have me pegged) and love you. Many many thanks. R x

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 18, 2011 10:52 PM

      Egad! the tracking didn’t even show it into customs yet! I just put ‘yarn’ on the form in hopes it wouldn’t be completely given away before you opened it. Well, I was planning to wait til midnight your time, but…

      Reine the Queen
      of Wry-Witness Accounts
      and of all you survey,
      your theodolite mounts

      an indulgent assessment
      of our idioms and syncrasies
      our -isms, and schisms
      and scarlet inquities.

      Tell us another, Re,
      your stories are gas;
      our company’s blessed
      with the wild Irish lass.

      We’ll drink to your health,
      to your bawdy rude wit,
      to the song in your heart,
      with a wink and a quip.

      Happy Birthday, Dear Re;
      let us each pop a cark
      to festivity, cheer,
      and a lip-smacking fark.

      Love you too, Babe!

    • Reine permalink
      April 18, 2011 10:58 PM

      Thanks so much, my cup runneth over. A poem for my very own self? Sets all material things at nought (now wearing the point to the front as a headband a la Rambo!) as I sip my post-prandial limoncello. x

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 20, 2011 12:01 AM

      Happy Birthday!

    • Reine permalink
      April 20, 2011 8:21 AM

      Thanks. I don’t feel a (whole) day over 41. Hope you had a successful trip, good to see you.

  5. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2011 10:44 PM

    Never mind yer clafoutis…

    Virgin eggs are chicken eggs cooked in the urine of young boys in China…

    Apparently the bizarre delicacy has a pretty long history in Dongyang City. But it’s making national headlines recently as it was discovered by some folks that the street food has been listed as one of the city’s cultural heritage.

    Outsiders are questioning the appropriateness of making such a smelly (locals call it the smell of spring) food an official heritage, but the eggs are said to be selling well in every street corner of Dongyang, a 1800-year-old historic city.

    Boy’s urine has long been mythically thought to have medical benefits in some parts of China. The supporters of these virgin eggs seem to buy the idea that the eggs are good for clearing spring drowsiness and summer heat.

    Just in case you think I’m making this up, CHECK IT OUT

    • Reine permalink
      April 18, 2011 10:48 PM

      Taking the piss, innit?

    • April 19, 2011 6:57 AM

      That’s nothing. When I was in China this story broke. Waste not, want not: rats, piss, and there are dark rumours of foetus eating, but I’ll let you look out for that one yourselves…

  6. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2011 10:57 PM

    Italian chocolate tycoon Pietro Ferrero has died in an accident in South Africa, a company spokesman has said.

    Mr Ferrero, 48, was on a business trip and died after falling off his bicycle, probably because of an ailment, the company said.–

    …doubtless, he was on his way to the ambassador’s reception…

  7. hic8ubique permalink
    April 18, 2011 11:10 PM

    I’ve abandoned my wan effort at closet skeletons and am making some progress with the new theme… but you are anticipating me Mishari.

    Reine, your aching breasts reminded me of being pregnant~ actually alerted me to my interesting condition the second and third time. Nausea followed weeks later.

    I had a dream around dawn that brought me to a situation in which there was something inconvenient about my car, so I rode an orange motorbike to a place where I hoped to be taught how to ride it…. so that felt extremely vulnerable in heavy fast traffic.
    I turned off into a university, went into a large building, and was asking where I could learn to drive the thing, and nobody was helping me.
    And next, I did the very thing your cousins did in that scarf shop, Reine.
    I began telling off the denizens of the place, that if they couldn’t be of any help they might say so and at least be polite about it instead of trying to hurry on their way without a word of regret.

    When I awoke I thought of you scrutinising the umbrella display, and how I’d just enacted the embarrassing …what’s the name? of that Ladies Temperance League sort of person who knows how everyone else ought to behave? begins with B? I think it’s a Mishari word… am I making this up?

  8. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2011 11:13 PM


    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 18, 2011 11:25 PM

      That’s it. Thank you. I can bore people for a long time when I’m trying to retrieve an elusive word.
      I guess the B was a red herring.

  9. Reine permalink
    April 18, 2011 11:19 PM

    Over here they are called Bridgets or Bernadettes. Ha.

    The sore boobs are a great signpost.

  10. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2011 11:29 PM

    I’m listening to Paul Simon’s new album ‘So Beautiful Or So What’. Sounds like a return to his ‘Graceland’ form. Good stuff. Recommended. Weird…I just noticed that the album is on ‘Starbucks Records’…yeah…that Starbucks…hmmmm..

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 18, 2011 11:39 PM

      I liked the rainforesty one… the first cd I ever owned. I can hear the drums of the title track now…
      here it is:

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 18, 2011 11:44 PM

      so… not the title track per se, but maybe the first song?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 18, 2011 11:49 PM

      Is there Starbucks UK? They certainly promote music along with espresso, and have done as long as I can remember.

    • mishari permalink*
      April 19, 2011 12:23 AM

      There are certainly Starbucks in the UK (not that I’ve ever set foot in one) and they’re almost certainly the same company. I googled the record company to check and it’s the coffee people alright. Odd, no?

  11. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2011 11:45 PM

    Yeah, that’s a lovely track. Mind you, I’ve liked Paul Simon since I bought my first Simon & Garfunkel LP (‘Bookends’) back in 1968…Jesus…was it really that long ago? [Yes, you old fartEd.]

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 18, 2011 11:57 PM

      That was the one with Bleeker street? My mother bought it for me, so I must have been 8 or 9.
      No, there were two: Bookends and another one of them standing by a lamppost?
      ‘The sun is burning in the sky…strands of clouds go slowly drifting by….’
      Those were my first real ‘grown-up’ albums, following Tubby the Tuba and Peter and the Wolf.
      I had my own little phonograph.

    • mishari permalink*
      April 19, 2011 12:07 AM

      The best-known tracks on ‘Bookends’ were:

      Fakin’ It, Punky’s Dilemma (“Wish I was a Kelloggs cornflake…etc etc”) “Mrs. Robinson, A Hazy Shade of Winter, At the Zoo (Somethin’ tells me it’s all happenin’ at the zoo…etc etc”)

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 19, 2011 12:11 AM

      Yes. Wednesday Morning 3 am and Bookends were the ones I had.

    • April 19, 2011 8:33 AM

      Great album! But I listened all the way through both sides, the first time, at college, by scented candle-light, in bed with the same psychopath (Karen) who forced me through my first viewing of Harold and Maude. Have you heard the version of “American Dream” that S&G do together after the separation (the song was one of Simon’s solo hits)? Goosebump-inducing harmonies from Art.

  12. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2011 11:49 PM

    Here’s an interesting one by the late Joseph Spence, a native of the Bahamas. I’ve only just discovered him:

  13. Captain Ned permalink
    April 18, 2011 11:56 PM

    What this thread really needs is a contribution from anytimefrances.

    Have any of you heard of this guy? This song was on Late Junction last week; a big hit in Australia (via a mobile phone ad, natch).

  14. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2011 12:01 AM

    I like that, Ned. I’m surprised that I missed it because I’m a regular Late Junction listener. Must hunt this guy down…

    Yes, @atf would definitely make a valuable addition to any discussion of ‘filthy drug takers’ (to use her favoured formulation)…

    OK, I’m downloading 3 Charlie Parr albums even as we speak (Jubilee, Backslider & Rooster). I’ll keep you posted..

  15. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2011 12:28 AM

    Detectives in Florida are trying to establish what led two British holidaymakers from a “night on the town” in the centre of Sarasota to a run-down, crime-ridden area of the city where they were shot dead in the early hours of Saturday. —The Grauniad, today

    Gee, I wonder…anyone care to take a guess? (Hint: the subject of the post at the top of this page)

  16. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2011 10:46 AM

    Martin Amis has told a French magazine that he “would prefer not to be English”, saying that his native country is in a condition of “moral decrepitude”.

    “You can have no talent, no ambition, and you win all the same. All young people dream of that. Young girls dream of becoming models. Celebrity is the new religion…”

    Amis is made most angry by Britain’s “superficiality”, by its tabloids, by “all these excited models and these rock stars in short shorts”.

    Amis – no stranger to controversy over his opinions – said he would soon be leaving England for the US…– The Grauniad, yesterday

    Amis is revolted by Britain’s superficiality and mindless celebrity culture, so he’s moving to…the USA…

    ….Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...fuck me…that’s the best laugh I’ve had all week.

    Here’s a great little guitar rag from Charlie Parr:

    • April 19, 2011 5:31 PM

      “Amis is revolted by Britain’s superficiality and mindless celebrity culture, so he’s moving to…the USA…”

      I almost left a comment in that thread, along those lines, but too many people had beat me to it. Mart’s life is now officially a sitcom pilot.

  17. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2011 7:59 PM

    Seeing Dr John Reid and Dave Cameron sharing a platform was enough to convince me to change my vote to Yes.

  18. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2011 8:16 PM

    Too true: anything that the unspeakable Reid is against must, almost by definition, be a ‘good thing’. The combination of him and Cameron said it all, really. ‘Yes’ it is.

  19. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2011 11:33 PM


    When I’m feeling a bit upset
    I don’t resort to alcohol,
    I raid the bathroom cabinet
    and have a paracetamol.

    If I have a nasty headache,
    or I think I might be sick,
    if my leg has a compound break,
    paracetamol does the trick.

    When my mind is misty and vague
    and my stomach’s rather queasy,
    if I’m carrying bubonic plague,
    it’s paracetamol for me.

    But when I’m feeling really rough,
    and everything I know’s in doubt,
    when I’ve finally had enough
    paracetamol’s my way out!

  20. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2011 11:58 PM

    I’m sorry to say that Melton Mowbray is a rather dull town, looking very much like lots of other English towns. It does have a very informative museum, where I learned that it is the largest manufacturer of petfood in the country as well as the Euro-validated heritage producer of pork pies. One hopes there is no cross-over.

    There were several articles of Melton-related interest for sale, but I settled for the I heart mug. I shall be drinking my Easter champagne from it this weekend.

  21. hic8ubique permalink
    April 20, 2011 2:07 AM

    Oh! I need to buy champagne for Easter mimosas. Thanks for the reminder, and welcome home, Vicar. x

    I saw that Amis article, and the bothering thing to me, in context, was his remark about Britain being a second or third-rate power.
    So, he’s attracted to moral righteousness plus first-rate (for a little while longer) power? That sounds like the disposition of a G Dub-ya crony.
    If we could be rid of power-mongers who fervently believe they have possession of a self-assumed moral high-ground, we might have a hope.
    Not rhetorical Obama ‘hope’, mind you, but a real chance at biological sustainability.
    People are free to be as shallow as they choose, but power seekers chuffed with moral grandiosity? Dangerous.

  22. mishari permalink*
    April 20, 2011 7:15 AM

    Yes, hic: Amis’ lament for Britain’s loss of Empire was weird enough, but I think it’s just more evidence that Amis is turning into his father, who ended up as a parody Englishmen–querulous, bigoted, sottish and fascistic. Here, for example, is Martin Amis speaking some months after the Tube bombings in London:

    “What can we do to raise the price of them doing this? There’s a definite urge—don’t you have it?—to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.’ What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation—further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan… Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children…It’s a huge dereliction on their part”

    You’ll note that despite the fact that the IRA set-off far more bombs and killed far more people, Amis never suggested that all Irish Catholics be punished and discriminated against. Amis’ knee-jerk racism is typical of the man he’s become. All in all, he’s a repulsive little sack of shit: you’re welcome to him.

    Fine hymn to an old standby, MM. I’m surprised you didn’t buy dozens of those ‘I heart Melton Mowbray’ mugs…or perhaps you did?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 20, 2011 11:56 AM

      They only had one. Whether that was due to high or low demand I couldn’t bring myself to enquire.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 20, 2011 1:18 PM

      I’m sure you don’t really mean to send me repulsive little sacks of shit, M. (ie please, please don’t identify me as the US, my hair stands on end enough as it is.)

      I’ve always found Amis’ aspect repulsive, and now I understand it’s an excellent expression of his inward state.
      Grim to see how vigourously wrong a heartless person can be, but again, dangerous when he’s given a platform.
      Likely he was alternately beaten and ignored as a child, and recommends the treatment as having given him his fine moral fibre.
      He’ll find fellow haters in the South especially. Their religion shaken up with their hate makes a poisonous oil and vinegar marinade.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 20, 2011 1:23 PM

      BP spilt oil, Gulf agitated
      with chemical dispersant
      makes the ‘Amis’ cocktail:
      toxic and persistent.

  23. Reine permalink
    April 20, 2011 8:32 AM

    Amis is obnoxious. He’s no stranger to the celebrity pose himself but of course he’s earned it.

  24. mishari permalink*
    April 20, 2011 8:40 AM

    Forgive me for not wishing you a happy birthday, Reine…I’m a bit dim and it escaped my notice…sorry…anyway, belated felicitations…

    • Reine permalink
      April 20, 2011 8:44 AM

      Thanks Mishari. Not a big one in milestone terms anyway but, oddly, becoming more meaningful.

    • mishari permalink*
      April 20, 2011 4:57 PM

      Love that link, Steven…’Chairs!…make that plural…stoves…I love starch…we’re having 33 kinds of potatoes…how’d that pork get in there?…you may bring the spaghetti on…23 layers in that lasagna…it’s a starch masterpiece…’. Fantastic stuff…literally.

      I’ve just discovered that a book of transcripts of McGregor’s dream narrations was published with illustrations by Edward Gorey. Wow. I must find this book.

  25. Reine permalink
    April 20, 2011 1:15 PM

    Steven, I am speechless with gratitude and amusement.

    “Reine 19 telephones” (“Peony”)

  26. Reine permalink
    April 20, 2011 5:48 PM

    I sometimes deal with a crowd called The Book Collectors Library which is good for limited editions but Amazon is listing five copies here…

  27. mishari permalink*
    April 20, 2011 5:56 PM

    Thanks, Reine…I’ve already ordered it from, although even that copy is shipped from the US. Still, I’m really looking forward to it. I love Edward Gorey and this just seems like a perfect fit for him.

  28. April 20, 2011 6:06 PM

    Martin Amis may or may not achieve immortality, but Dion McGregor has.

  29. hic8ubique permalink
    April 20, 2011 6:14 PM

    Do you know of Stan Washburn, Mishari? I think you would like his work too.

  30. Reine permalink
    April 20, 2011 10:02 PM

    My sisters (teachers on their Easter break) and mother (retired teacher) got the early train from Westport yesterday to take me out for a birthday lunch. Mother is a smoker, one of the sisters is pregnant and the other is a shopaholic so it was a challenge to cater for everyone’s needs in the short window of opportunity. I met the country mice at Trinity College as they disembarked from the taxi; Mam foostered for change for a tip and then radically overtipped. Better than not tipping I always say. It was a glorious day so we coffeed al fresco allowing Mam to have her cigarette and pregnant sister to move her chair away in a superior way. I opened my cards (God bless parents and their enclosures) and we had a gay old time until the lure of the shops proved irresistible and middle sister made me stand outside a dressing room as she tried on several outfits.

    We then repaired for lunch to Dublin’s most popular Thai restaurant owned by a guy from Westport (reared on noodles and chilis we were). I know him and he greeted me warmly to the sniggers of the sisters about my air kissing expertise and luvvie small talk. They stopped sniggering when he brought us champagne cocktails on the house and said what a lovely fellow he was. Dad phoned to check the train hadn’t derailed and that his girls were safely indoors out of the midday heat. He sent regards to Paul and anyone else who knew him and condoled (mostly with himself) on his absence due to a prior commitment.

    Lunch was going well until middle sister pressed little sister’s buttons one too far and hormones and sensitivities combined to make her weep into her mocktail. Momentary awkward silence followed by hand holdings all round and choruses of “love ya, love ya, sorry Reine, it’s your day”. More coffee followed outside a nearby cafe as my incredibly polite mother apologised to the people to her left and right for blowing smoke in their airspace (they were smoking too).

    They eschewed further shopping opportunities and opted to get a mid-afternoon train back to familiar territory, not before I had been enlisted to babysit on Saturday night, get Daddy some of that Tommy Hill aftershave he likes (Tom Ford) and knickers from M&S for the pregnant one (no white and none of your porn star ones Reine, some of us are modest). No such thing as a free lunch eh?

    Nevertheless a seven hour round trip certainly made me feel cherished. I saw them off in the taxi (my mother insisted the driver finish his cigarette first as he stood in the sun waiting for fares). They ended up sitting beside the crocodile shoe “red vulva” man I have referred to before and his wife who shout-talk in unison. When a seat became available, Mam moved telling the wife that it would give her more room to spread (she meant stretch) her legs. Which, of course, made the girls laugh and caused poor mother once again to wonder how she had reared such hussies.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 20, 2011 11:56 PM

      A seven-hour round trip? That would never have happened with the Mowbrays. You were lucky to escape with merely superficial wounds from a family event.

      What’s foostering?

    • Reine permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:08 AM

      rooting multiplied by panic

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:10 AM

      ‘Foostering’ is wonderful.
      Lots of oxygen exchange on that one, Re. Glad to hear that the tide of attention turned in your worthy direction.
      Isn’t it so, that there’s no day more important to feel cherished? We need to feel that some fellow creature is glad we were born.
      *mwah* mwah*

    • Reine permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:22 AM

      Indeedy Hic. back at ya.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:24 AM

      I must say I would rather forget my birthday. It seems to be arriving with alarming frequency.

  31. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 20, 2011 11:49 PM

    The Pfizer Prize

    Fifty-odd years I’ve been stuck in here,
    it’s hot and dark, I rarely see the sun,
    it’s very cramped and it smells a bit queer;
    the wrinkled pair I share with aren’t much fun.

    In the past I used to be out a lot,
    I’ve been in quite a few unusual places,
    nowadays I’m just out for a comfort stop
    and looking at his bloody shoelaces.

    It’s all vanished, what I once relied on,
    I’ve gone soft, I’m limp, I’ve lost my zest,
    it’s as though my raison d’etre’s gone,
    I just can’t stand up: I’m too depressed.

    And yet… all of a sudden there’s a surge,
    a potent spurt that makes the rhizome sprout
    with a natural (though part-chemical) urge.
    Come on, I’ve got things to do! Let me out!

    • Reine permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:11 AM

      I like that. Spurt and sprout sharing a line is spry.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:12 AM

      I knew what you were about at ‘wrinkled pair’.
      It may be that Mishari has competition for the designation of ‘humblest man in Europe’.

  32. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2011 12:20 AM

    I’ve never tried the stuff myself (though the doctor has asked me more than once if things are all right ‘in that department’. I don’t know why, since I’ve never mentioned the subject. Perhaps I look frustrated.) though I suppose a time may come. Luckily I shall have access to His Highness’ extensive experience.

    • Reine permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:27 AM

      That sounds like a thinly veiled boast to me. Thinking of you in such a guise has made me forget to say my prayers.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 21, 2011 1:59 AM

      You mean thinking of Mowbray partaking of ‘His Highness’ extensive experience’?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:36 PM

      Boasting? Christ, no. Currently I’m taking four separate courses of tablets for various ailments and I have two inhalers. Add Viagra to that lot and my system would go into meltdown.

  33. Reine permalink
    April 21, 2011 12:20 AM

    I will never forget the first awakening I witnessed, most amusing to a convent girl who anticipated it being more of an on/off gear change type operation. There was foostering then too. TMI? Oh well, it would be futile to try to change your impression of me at this stage.

    • Reine permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:30 AM

      I should qualify – convent-educated girl. I was finished my convent education when I first foostered. All downhill after the nuns released me from their grip.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 21, 2011 12:36 AM

      An on-off switch would be quite useful. I’ve seen some diagrams of an apparatus used in cases of total impotence, where an air sac built into the testicles is squeezed in order to inflate the penis. You can also use it to pump up your tyres if necessary.

  34. Reine permalink
    April 21, 2011 12:39 AM

    I’ll never get to sleep now.

  35. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2011 12:53 AM

    Perhaps HRH has some spare nembutal.


  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2011 12:47 PM

    I meant to say earlier that I read ‘Stalin’s Nose’ while I was away. I’m not usually too keen on the picaresque story with ‘eccentric’ ‘characters’ (the awful memory of being forced to read – ‘it’s SO funny’ – Tony Hawks’ ‘Round Ireland With A Fridge’ still lingers) but I did enjoy this one. The stuff about former East European regimes and organisations was enough to excuse the fucking pig. Also Lee Child’s ’61 Hours’, which I recommend. Reacher is everything one ought to despise, but it’s difficult not to be fascinated by his highly improbable adventures. There’s a 12 year-old in all of us (well, most of us).

  37. hic8ubique permalink
    April 21, 2011 1:18 PM

    Here are updated Fukushima fallout predictions with additional links. Sorry to be the bearer…

  38. Reine permalink
    April 21, 2011 1:51 PM

    Bad Trip

    Tinfoiled treasures
    Precious cargo
    Matchbox contents curated
    In insider argot

    In the bedroom
    Rizlas by the score
    Red and green scattered
    Like confetti on the floor

    A milles-feuilles of pants
    Crumpled by the bed
    Where he had puked
    And now hangs his head

    Finds her skirt and her shoes
    Dresses swiftly and creeps
    Throws her tights in her bag
    And hopes he still sleeps

    Not an inch of clear space
    As she tries to inch clear
    Of the squalor and taste
    In her mouth, of her fear

  39. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2011 5:32 PM

    Most evocative. Fictitious, I hope.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 21, 2011 5:39 PM

      To me, the decision not to bother with last nights tights has the ring of truth.

    • Reine permalink
      April 21, 2011 5:54 PM

      A mélange might best describe it.

      (Hic, don’t be getting me into trouble with the Vicar)

  40. mishari permalink*
    April 21, 2011 10:44 PM

    A mother of four accused of biting off her boyfriend’s testicles has denied grievous bodily harm.

    Maria Topp, 43, allegedly attacked Martin Douglas at his Newcastle flat at 0400 GMT on 18 February.

    He required emergency hospital treatment for his injuries.

    Ms Topp, from Aycliffe Place, Wrekenton, Gateshead, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court for a brief hearing on Thursday to deny the charge. She was granted bail.–

    I can’t believe MM was rash enough to venture north of Watford: he’s lucky he didn’t come back singing soprano. A man takes his life (so to speak) in his hands up there…

    • April 22, 2011 10:12 PM

      Well there is a precedent (sort of)…

      “Thousands of lambs were born each year. Us kids loved them and still
      do. Lambs had to have their tails cut off and the males had to have
      their tails and testicles removed. Cutting their tails off was quick
      and simple but cutting the testicles, that was something else. Us kids
      were allowed to watch the men do this bloody work. They would hold the
      testicles tight underneath, slit the skin holding the testicle in, put
      their mouth down and get hold of the testicle with their teeth, lift
      it up a bit, slice it off with the knife in their other hand and then
      spit the testicle on the ground. The man doing this had blood all over
      his mouth and face. There was a big heap of testicles and lamb tails
      on the ground but the testicles were soon cleaned up by the many black
      crows that lived there.”

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 23, 2011 12:03 AM

      This is the Easter Story told by Papa Augustine to Baby Augustine, as an alternative to the cloying ones about frisking lambkins in fields of buttercups?

    • April 23, 2011 10:20 AM

      We don’t mention the E-word around here, Hic, and she isn’t old enough to’ve noticed that the sudden happy preponderance of chocolate bunnies occurs in a fixed annual cycle. We’re hoping that by the time she has to enter school next year, her mind will be that much more fortified against the bizarre creation myth that the chocolate bunnies are affiliated with (which is why I made sure she can already name all the planets of our solar system by image; can name more than a dozen kinds of dinosaur; knows what a “photon” is and so on). Some stealthy friend-of-a-friend-of-the-family slipped a “Noah’s Ark” pamphlet in with a gift of hand-me-down books, two years ago, and that went right in the garbage, before daughter could ask about the Swedish family in bath robes striking ABBA-esque poses on the floating (not-terribly-well-stocked) zoo… (show me *one* Noah picture book which includes a pair of mudpuppies or honey badgers)…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 24, 2011 2:50 AM

      You should consider writing the Cataclysm Catechism beginning with a big ‘bango’ (courtesy of atf), through human evolution and environmental disasters of all sorts, and concluding with Super Noahva, mudpuppies et al lifting off in a Space Ark.
      I couldn’t do it myself; I’m such a happy pagan in mud, I don’t go in for the galactic stuff, at least not now whilst I’m enjoying my embodied state.

      Speaking of honey badgers… do you have this book? I recommend it highly.

  41. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2011 11:25 PM

    I’ve lost a couple of fingers and part of my right arm in the past, but I always put on full body armour at Leicester Forest Services now. It’s rather warm, and the helmet makes conversation difficult, but better to be safe than sorry.

  42. mishari permalink*
    April 21, 2011 11:30 PM

    I’m glad you enjoyed Stalin’s Nose’. My reaction to ‘quirky whimsy’ mirrors yours and I got 3 pages into ‘Around Ireland With A Lame Gimmick’ before hurling it aside in disgust. But SN stayed dark enough, grim enough and melancholy enough to avoid that.

  43. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 22, 2011 12:21 AM

    I wonder if David Sedaris is going to cross the whimsy line. I’ve been given ‘Squirrel Meets Chipmunk’ and read a couple of stories. The jury’s out. Do you know his work?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 22, 2011 12:30 AM

      That should have been: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.

      And so to bed, I think.

  44. Reine permalink
    April 22, 2011 12:37 AM

    The kids hereabout these days use the term “meet” to mean “have relations with”. Squirrel Shags Chipmunk? Not long in, busy washing feet to atone for my sins on this Maundy Thursday. Ok, drinking. But it’ll me all abstinence and collations tomorrow. Far side of course. HI watching Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens in baseball playoffs and trying to draw me into conversation about them. Exit Reine stage left.

    • Reine permalink
      April 22, 2011 12:43 AM

      Christ on the cross, the spelling says it all. I must atone.

  45. hic8ubique permalink
    April 22, 2011 1:08 AM

    Oh, Sisters indeed.
    You’re speaking of ice-hockey rather than baseball, I think, of which Beloved Spouse has partaken extensively, and with which he ‘ruined’ his knees by the age of 16.
    We shall leave the two of them them together…
    We have also in common 2 younger sisters who aligned with Mother (all 3 artists in my case, teachers in yours) and the eldest daughter (you and I) who are the Daddy’s Girl of the assortment.
    Mother actually has alluded to the act of ‘having relations’ once, or perhaps twice.

    Per Sedaris, MM. I may have posted something before, but try this:

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 22, 2011 7:22 PM

      I forgot you’d posted that. I got the book for my daughter at Xmas and just had it returned to me with an injunction to read it, which I did this afternoon. Quite amusing, though I suppose the whole anthropomorphic thing is hardly original.

      Filthy anarchists. String ’em up.

  46. April 22, 2011 7:26 PM

    Much better idea: mince ’em and put the product on the Tesco meat counter. Buy one, get one free.

  47. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 22, 2011 11:59 PM

    All those roll-ups and tins of SB they consume could give you a nasty stomach-ache. I think the Chappie factory in Melton Mowbray would be a more appropriate destination. A joint of Conservative, however, would grace any table in the land. Perhaps a little on the fatty side, but some judicious carving ought to take care of that.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 23, 2011 12:10 AM

      Oh, I was just learning about that Chappie production today in the fitness section…

    • Reine permalink
      April 23, 2011 12:17 AM

      And I see we were all in attendance. I thought at first the blonde lady said she came to get pimped out. What a difference a consonant makes.

  48. Reine permalink
    April 23, 2011 12:05 AM

    Always an option I suppose if the detesticled lamb doesn’t come good on Easter Sunday.

    Amusing to see the rush on fish earlier… we do like to hold on to some of the traditions but serve it these days with a nice Sancerre. Abstinence my arse. May I apologise for my inebriated ramblings and typos of last night? Yes, Hic, ice hockey it was … brilliant game apparently (yawn).

    • Reine permalink
      April 23, 2011 12:06 AM

      And how would he?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 23, 2011 12:16 AM

      Vivre la (vas) deferens.

      I can’t even see where the puck is, just a lot of milling about to me.

  49. mishari permalink*
    April 23, 2011 12:15 AM

    This book is currently no. 5 on Amazon’s best-seller list (in the US, obviously). And you wondered why the US is so fucked? Gaze upon Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back and despair:

    Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

    Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

    Told by the father, but often in Colton’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

    About the Author

    Todd Burpo is pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan, a wrestling coach, a volunteer fireman, and he operates a garage door company with his wife, Sonja, who is also a children’s minister, busy pastor’s wife, and mom.

    By the way, the top four on the list are:

    1) The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever
    by Pierre Dukan

    2) Where’s the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President by Jerome Corsi

    3) Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz, Joanne Gordon

    4) Bossypants by Tina Fey

    I’m going to have a drink now and try to forget Todd Burpo and all his works: I may be some time.

    • April 23, 2011 3:02 PM

      I like the “true story” part. Here’s another “true story”: I dreamed two nights back that I was on the grounds of a futuristic palace, peering into the darkened cage of a brown, bear-like animal who was snoring with comical loudness. You can guess how the story ends but anyway it was “true”.

      I expect Marty Amis has ordered all five books on that list, M (as homework); looking forward to his 5,000-word critique of Bossy Pants!

  50. Reine permalink
    April 23, 2011 12:38 AM

    6) My Cousin, the Prince by Todd al-Adwani

  51. Reine permalink
    April 23, 2011 12:41 AM

    Oh no, the spelling again… sorry Mishari.

  52. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 23, 2011 12:57 AM

    Some lingering memory of the old religion means we also stick to fish today. Well, prawn risotto. Why oh why is the rice always either underdone or too wet? One of the mysteries of the age.

    I don’t think I can exhibit my Anusol poem. I’m not even sure it’s a drug.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 23, 2011 1:22 AM

      Are you using arborio ?
      I’m not going to look up anusol. It sounds suspiciously unpleasant.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 23, 2011 11:42 AM

      Yes, I’ve been using Tesco Arborio for the last few years, with variable results. Switched to Waitrose (are these names completely meaningless to you? Waitrose is our classiest supermarket – I believe it’s by appointment to Prince Mishari) this time with a similar outcome. It must be my method, or lack of it.

    • Reine permalink
      April 23, 2011 11:48 AM

      Tesco’s common or garden “paella rice” works well and if you trip across Carnaroli anywhere, it’s good in a risotto.

    • April 23, 2011 3:08 PM

      I heard that word (“Anusol”) uttered upwards of 50,000 times, as a kid, from TV commercials… and it’s only seeing it here in MM’s comment that the “penny” finally dropped. But, then, I was shocked when George Michael came out, too… (btw: there is *no* implied connection between parts one and two of this comment)

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 24, 2011 2:38 AM

      Wasn’t that ‘Anbesol’ in the adverts, St. A?

      I’m sure it’s your technique, MM; you’ve got to stand there stirring it and adding broth til it’s done.
      Tedious, but that’s risotto.

      My first-hand recollection is of Sainsbury’s, but Tesco and Waitrose are cited so often on PH, that I’ve certainly got the picture…
      Tesco occupies a warehouse setting that is generically devoid of charm, unkempt, bland, and mostly replete with grey tinned goods; whereas Waitrose is burgeoning with vibrant fresh fruits and veg (only attained by passing through a flower market) and otherwise resembles the food halls of Harrod’s.
      Is that the gist?
      I’m enamoured of Whole Foods, which seems to have cropped up in London as well. I stop in there for particular items (eg: hemp protein, exceptional cheeses , e.v. organic cocoanut oil, beautiful artichokes, &c…), and Frugal Spouse haunts the local version of Tesco for staples. (You can just imagine how he suffers.)
      We have another good place, not quite so far as WF, called Trader Joe’s. Owned by a German family, they really know how to source an excellent product at a bargain price and sell it as their own brand; best of both worlds.

    • April 24, 2011 7:44 AM

      “Wasn’t that ‘Anbesol’ in the adverts, St. A?”

      It may well have been, Hic, but “Anusol” has now replaced anything that was there as the official memory (laugh)

  53. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 23, 2011 12:58 AM

    It’s all in italics again.

  54. Reine permalink
    April 23, 2011 1:00 AM

    Ah please… it’s a bottom feeder in drug terms but who hasn’t had need of it?

    Risotto beats salmon, sauteed potatoes and mushy peas.

  55. mishari permalink*
    April 23, 2011 1:12 AM

    That happens when you make a very small error in your HTML code: instead of instructing the browser to ‘end italics’, the mistake tells the browser that ‘everything after this point is in italics’. Easy to do but just as easy to put right.

    I once brushed my teeth with Anusol (bleary-eyed early morning mistake: Christ, but it tasted foul)…I also once, under the same circumstances (hangover) brushed my teeth with spermicidal jelly: it didn’t taste too bad, just…odd–like brushing your teeth with Vaseline…not recommended.

    • Reine permalink
      April 23, 2011 1:14 AM

      I put my backslash in the wrong place. Apologies. I’ll slip myself between italics now before I cause any more trouble. Goonight.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 23, 2011 1:15 AM

      I can’t recommend E45 cream.

    • Reine permalink
      April 23, 2011 1:18 AM

      Canesten is a no no. Tweet, tweet. Ok, I’m gone.

    • Silican permalink
      April 27, 2011 1:11 PM

      Just came accross this vein of electrons searching E45. Just another pixel in white noise space, but who isn’t.

      Anusol – it ought to be an expletive. Hope it made your gums stop bleeding. Comments on oroficial odour enhancement best left to regulars I think . Nevertheless a novel, and not necessarily illogical, use of a product otherwise in search of a purpose.

  56. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 23, 2011 1:13 AM

    I’ll have to think it over.

    In the meantime, my pillow calls.


  57. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 23, 2011 11:35 AM

    Some shockingly bad lurve poems selected by Duffers in the G today. I’ve seen more accomplished romantic stuff on Poster Poems.

    My little squib on Billy Mills has been deleted. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

    • Reine permalink
      April 23, 2011 11:46 AM

      I wondered what you’d written to incur the wrath of the mods.

      Au revoir mes amis (Où est Henri?), I head west for the resurrection and the cooking of Larry Lamb (not the actor).

  58. April 23, 2011 3:36 PM

    As they say: “You’re welcome.”

  59. April 25, 2011 9:21 AM

    There’s no difference between Waitrose and Tesco, Hic, in my experience. I used to shop at Waitrose in Muswell Hill, and it was more or less the exact similar kind of price and quality of goods as Tesco. Now I shop at Dunnes, which offers the best value for money shopping experience in Ireland. Tesco have been making inroads here, with Aldi and Lidl the discount chain from contintental Europe, being the standby, of-choice emporium of the majority.

    The rip off places are Spar and Mace, a corner chop franchise that charges twice the price as normal supermarket chains. For example Alpro soya mill in Spar is 2 euro seventy, whilst in a normal place it’s a euro cheaper. You’ll go to Mace, spend 20 quid and have a small bag of hardly anything at all, whereas you leave Lidl with two stuffed carrier bags for 14 euro.

  60. hic8ubique permalink
    April 25, 2011 10:55 PM

    Paying for the convenience? Hi Kevin, I hope the Bunny was good to you. Here we performed significant festal rites involving chocolate.

    I’ve just had a wonderful laugh reading ‘But what do they do with their legs?’

    I’d better retrieve the poem I was working on, because either we’re about to be given a new assignment, or Mishari is off again being cheered up somewhere…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 26, 2011 12:03 PM

      I understand Prince Mishari is in Milan, having a personal fitting with Giorgio for The Wedding.
      Personally I think it’s a little unkind of him to upstage the happy couple, but it’s undeniable that his lineage outstrips the jumped-up Saxe-Coburg-Gotha clan by a royal distance. Noblesse oblige.

  61. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 26, 2011 11:52 AM

    I ought to retain some shreds of self-respect, so I’ve binned ‘Anusol’ and I’m going with this:

    Sister Murphy
    (after Marianne Faithfull)

    Here I lie in my hospital bed,
    Sister Murphy, is that your heavy tread?
    My throat has really started to hurt,
    I’m drier than the Gobi desert.

    The hoarse screams of elderly patients
    barely penetrate my senses
    likewise the whining of the constipated,
    Sister Murphy, I’m far too dehydrated.

    The doctor’s smiling complacent face
    is wholly tactless and out of place,
    just get lost. Sister Murphy,
    I’m begging you for a cup of tea.

    Sister Murphy, turn your sensible shoes
    toward the ward kitchen and infuse
    the bags in the institutional pot
    bring me a steaming cuppa, or have me shot.

    Sweet Darjeeling, Assam or Typhoo,
    the selection of leaf is up to you,
    bring another sheet in any event,
    Sister Murphy, I’ve had another accident.

  62. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 26, 2011 11:54 AM

    On second thoughts…

  63. Reine permalink
    April 26, 2011 11:17 PM

    Larry’s leg served eleven and gave a dog a bone. Good man Larry.

    (Simon, mother’s laptop cookies don’t allow me to comment on your blog…but I have a bone to pick with you!)

    MM, Sister Murphy surely succumbed.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 27, 2011 12:04 AM

      Good old Larry. I kebabbed him on Saturday in retaliation for the neighbours’ barbecue on Friday. I think they got the drift.

      Terrible poem, but I’m out of ideas. Must be The Wedding.

    • Reine permalink
      April 27, 2011 12:33 AM

      The wedding? She will slide between the tiles of the cathedral floor, she could do with a few kebabs herself, poor Kitty.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 27, 2011 1:09 AM

      I thought Larry was one of your puzzles for a moment, Re.

      Marianne was new to me, MM… Your self-respect is granted grace among friends, as ever.

    • Reine permalink
      April 27, 2011 10:21 AM

      No puzzle, just a stupid family “joke” – are we having Barry (Beef) or Larry (Lamb) for lunch?

      Dad likes both, baby sister prefers pork to either of the above but Dad hates it, I prefer some nice rare beef (of course I do); Mother couldn’t care less just hates cooking any of it and middle sister is happy as long as she gets the prime position in the window on the inside of the table so that she doesn’t have to move and can issue orders (to me).

      Pass the Parcel is a fond memory, I have a feeling ours were more rudimentary than yours Hic. Treats were wrapped in newspaper of which there was always a plentiful supply in our house. One year Mam used papers Dad was saving for reference and it occasioned their annual row. ” That’s what the bloody filing cabinet is for Seán, not for keeping your secret stash of Tayto in”.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 27, 2011 11:47 AM

      Patrick Pork?

      I think it’s now confirmed that Marianne F wrote the lyric to ‘Sister Morphine’, Hic (in case you were wondering).

    • April 27, 2011 12:07 PM

      (Aha! My flimsy excuse to post this; Keef an’ Mick ripped MF off, re: credit, on this one)

    • April 28, 2011 6:36 PM

      You’re welcome to pick my bone anytime you like, you know that.

  64. Reine permalink
    April 27, 2011 12:20 AM

    You were prescient in that there was a near gravy catastrophe rescued in the nick of time. Dad did his standing joke when people complimented the dinner “Ye are very welcome, I’m up since seven; Mam gave me a hand”. Still gets a laugh.

    Kebabs sound good. Sr. Murphy never had one I’ll bet.

  65. April 27, 2011 12:34 AM

    Happy Wester, All (first Tuesday after Easter; involves an owl not a bunny; the owl appears after supper, hides one present for each year of your daughter’s age, after receiving the offering of a tinfoil mouse, etc)…!

    • Reine permalink
      April 27, 2011 12:37 AM

      Many happy returns a grá. Too whit, too whoo … to bed.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 27, 2011 1:23 AM

      This sounds exciting; were there riddles for clues? Visitations and treasure hunts have been high points in the many birthday parties I’ve organised over the years. Sometimes once the treasure was found (clues always gave an advantage to the resident child) we played a musical ‘pass the present’ game with it, and the contents would be something to share among all the children.
      One year early on, I put ‘healthy’ snacks in the pinata and the guests’ disappointment was so palpable, I gave up and put treat bags and wrapped sweets in every time after. We just made the pinata the final game, so the sugar-blitzed child was soon to depart. I don’t miss making pinatas yet; what a production.

      Speaking of papier mache…I believe it may be time for the elegant sinister hand to be unbound.
      Most desirous of news I am.
      (Were you fabricating the Milan trip, MM? or do you know something?)

    • April 27, 2011 10:50 AM

      Hic! No riddles… just maps. And I got a couple of friends to call and wish daughter “Happy Wester!” to confirm the reality. She was delighted with the whole thing!

    • April 27, 2011 10:51 AM

      g’night, Reine…!

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 27, 2011 11:52 AM

      No idea what he’s doing, Hic. One of those operations he mentioned might be a possibility. Let’s hope it goes well.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 27, 2011 2:28 PM

      Yes, whatever it is, the ‘cast-iron bastard’ (as the St. called him) will breeze in as if it was nothing more than a slightly tiresome distraction, but I can’t help fretting…

  66. Reine permalink
    April 27, 2011 10:05 AM

    Sister Murphy II

    “Mr Mowbray, get back in bed
    You’ve had a bad blow to the head”
    “I’ve had bad blow alright” he muttered
    Tried to recall but memory sputtered

    “It’s tea you want now, is it dear?
    Well you’re in the right place here
    Nurse Staunton, make a pot will you
    And please don’t let the tea bags stew”

    “Jesus, how that matron rankles
    Bloody cow with unseen ankles…
    Yes, sister, it’s on the way
    I’m just organising a tray”

    “Well be quick about it please
    This man says he has a wheeze
    Only tea tannins will cure
    Better try it to be sure”

    Sister Murphy strode off to chapel
    Dusting off her busting lapel
    The early bird had had the Host
    Washed Him down with tea and toast

    Nurse Staunton had a gentler touch
    Gave Mowbray tea and brought his crutch
    Took him for a little walk
    In truth, she loved to hear him talk

    He told her that in the Orient
    Nubile virgins’ backs were bent
    Picking tea leaves in there mouths
    Which a girl deposits in her blouse

    “You’re having me on” she said to him
    Thinking it was just a whim
    “You really are soft in the head,
    Now come on, let’s get you back to bed”

  67. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 27, 2011 11:50 AM

    Very good. Doesn’t sound like me though: I’m a whiner.

  68. hic8ubique permalink
    April 27, 2011 2:21 PM

    Ah, now I recognise the song, of course. Royalties plus interest then?

    Well done, Papa Augustine!
    I love the map idea, never did that. Rhyming clues were always fun, the kids would all rush off en masse before the clue was finished, until it dawned that they had no idea where they were headed, and they’d gradually pull up and look puzzled.
    The *Treasure* was usually bound in layers of wrapping paper too good to recycle,Re, but too worn to wrap a proper gift.

    (I’d never use newspaper to wrap, since there’s tragic family history: During wartime, my English grandfather had wrapped the Christmas presents in newspaper and framing wire, resulting in tears on Christmas morning.)

    Before I married the Pied Piper who provided the treasure-passing music, I would play Grandfather’s accordion for the purpose. I know, I know…
    “Welcome to Heaven; here’s your harp. Welcome to Hell; here’s your accordion.”
    I’ve heard them all. In fact, one thing that might make the PP more agitated than a slightly charmingly out-of-tune accordion, would be a harpist tuning for an eternity.

    • April 27, 2011 3:10 PM

      “Welcome to Heaven; here’s your harp. Welcome to Hell; here’s your accordion.”

      Hic, I associate the accordion with a very slow tube train through limbo (music provided by Roma urchins); Hell is for banjos and kazoos

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 27, 2011 3:18 PM

      ‘Hell is for banjos and kazoos’
      … played by drummers.

      I enjoyed seeing audiophobe atf call it the ‘bango’ a short while ago.

    • April 27, 2011 7:27 PM

      “bango: n. pl. ban·jos or ban·joes
      A fretted percussion instrument having a narrow stringed neck between two hollow circular bodies with coverings of plastic or stretched skin. The modern American bango typically has four strings and often a short fifth string plucked with the thumb while the knees and various free extremities provide a beat.”

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 27, 2011 8:19 PM

      got me.

  69. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 27, 2011 8:49 PM


    Kate, you seem an inoffensive person,
    and fairly normal, as far as I know;
    my good wishes are fraught with reservation
    as you join the country’s foremost freak show.

    I hope you understand the protocol,
    the bitchy courtiers, the Press, the fans,
    and you’ve treated your skin with alcohol
    ready for fifty years of shaking hands.

    But it’s not so much the public picture
    as the family you’re going to embrace:
    Mutti with her cauliflower coiffure
    and her scowling, doughy, disdainful face,

    Her husband with his crock of rancid views,
    their vain, idle and adulterous son,
    his brothers, apparently born to lose
    and an endless rabble of hangers-on.

    Perhaps I’m being a bit too cautious
    and you’ll end up having a lot of fun,
    but before you go into this anschluss
    please consider my misgivings – and run!

    • Reine permalink
      April 27, 2011 10:49 PM

      MM, my thoughts almost exactly multiplied by the bitterness of the colonised! Ha.

      Today, delicious Larry lobster simply grilled after a half hearted ramble a bit of the way up Croagh Patrick.

      Hic playing the accordion; this I had not foreseen.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 27, 2011 11:36 PM

      Lobster! What a sybaritic life you lead.

      Hic never fails to surprise. I suppose it’ll be pipe-smoking and arm-wrestling next.

      I’m exhausted by the prospect of The Wedding. Must go to bed.

    • HenryLloydMoon permalink
      April 28, 2011 6:36 AM

      the limerick epithalamion
      dates back to times pre-Abrahamian
      when Adam and Eve
      were yet to conceive
      and make such a Mesopotamian

  70. Reine permalink
    April 27, 2011 11:40 PM

    It was my Easter treat. I met him before he died for me, God rest him. As the young waiter said, you couldn’t have one every day. You could not, says I, but what’s rare is wonderful. I was supposed to go back east yesterday but am having one of my long goodbyes. Goodnight Mowbs. Sleep well.

  71. hic8ubique permalink
    April 28, 2011 2:39 AM

    I really fancy myself never failing to surprise, MM; that could go to my head…

    The famed crustacean lies thick on the sea-bed here off Cape Ann. Any of you worthies who chance to venture Wester to my veranda shall be plied with more than is good for you.

    My pipe-smoking career never gained sufficient momentum to generate a poem for this thread.
    The item itself was an attractively designed little thing, with a dog-leg jog in the airway, inauspiciously found by my grandmother when my jacket clattered to the floor. By then I’d decided that its fodder just made me stupid, and readily agreed to forgo any expansion on those two or three early experiments. (I remember that yellow jacket.)

    Per arm-wrestling… I wouldn’t want to encourage St. A to make a remark concerning ‘beefiness’, but I do *ahem* hold the left-handed title.
    Mind you, my son (Red-beard the Berserker) was a mere 11 years of age at time of contest, and I’ve not acquiesced to a rematch since… nevertheless…

  72. Silican permalink
    April 28, 2011 9:53 AM

    Chanced across this site. A blog neophyte. Enjoyed the repartee so, presumptuously, thrown in my 2p.

    Paraphrasing Ogden Nash (shamefully, about the only poet I’ve read in my pedestrian acquaintance with the art-form):

    Reflections on Vice Breaking

    Quick and clean,
    But brown
    Takes you down.

    • Reine permalink
      April 28, 2011 11:02 AM

      …and on ice breaking

      Take him by surprise
      While looking in his eyes
      Give a little squeeze
      It never fails to please

  73. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 28, 2011 10:46 AM

    Pleased to meet you, Silican.

    I’m not happy with stanza 4 of my nuptial song, so I’m going with:

    her husband with his crock of rancid views,
    their vain, idle and adulterous son,
    his feeble-minded brothers, born to lose
    and a limitless crowd of hangers-on.

    which I would ask Ed to substitute, if he was here.

    Wotcher, HLM, I thought you must have fallen into the marina. Bad news from Orangeworld: Ian Holloway will be much missed. I loved his comment on Cristiano Ronaldo:

    “He’s six foot something, fit as a flea, good looking – he’s got to have something wrong with him. Hopefully he’s hung like a hamster – That would make us all feel better. Having said that, me missus has got a pet hamster at home, and his c***’s massive.”

    Eat your heart out, Oscar.

  74. Reine permalink
    April 28, 2011 10:59 AM

    Good morning Silican, how are ya?

    Henry, lovely to see you. Missed you.

    Hic – The accordion playing is still tickling me. I played at various stages – the piano – taught by a very cross lady who hit me over the knuckles every time I hit a bum note, i.e. often; the recorder – forced into piping medieval tunes by the nuns, apparently my breath control was excellent, a skill that has stood me in good stead; the guitar, which the postman wangled himself into teaching but we never got much past The Banks of the Ohio before those scales fell from my eyes; the tin whistle – which required me to go to the house of a renowned traditional musician who was more often than not drunk and stoned so I sputtered out The Foggy Dew while he drank Irish Mist. Remember nothing of any of them now; can hold a tune but won’t be getting offers from the West End anytime soon.

    • Reine permalink
      April 28, 2011 11:07 AM

      I may have mentioned that I also rattle a tambourine these days. Available for backing singer gigs in the Republic and further afield.

  75. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 28, 2011 11:58 AM

    Thanks, Reine. Truth to tell, I haven’t missed you, in that I’m ever an avid reader and admirer. My absence is, I suppose, due to my adjusting to life on the mainland, the diet, the absence of narcotics, the daily walks (around the marina), bike rides, table tennis with the offspring, the absence of work, the surfeit of work, trips to watch the ailing Tangerines, parties… All these things take their toll, as does regurgitating corporatespeak, which seems to be my new occupation. Still, I shall be using it to avoid meeting the blazers and yachting caps at our local garden party tomorrow. Enjoy…

  76. Silican permalink
    April 28, 2011 1:04 PM

    Thanks for the welcome. The drug theme seems to be coming to the end of it’s natural life so I think it is safe for me to stick a dodgy effort here:

    Loaded Up or Locked Down

    If in life we expect relief
    We pay up first with pain
    Its morally superior to feel that hurt
    As Christ did in our name
    So Marx’s opium should do the trick
    If your hungry, sick or poor
    But if you’ve got the name or money
    A doctor is speedily at your door
    And if that doctor is sworn to heal
    Then your suffering will be no more

    But think on that bill when paying those fees
    – the bill for your release
    It won’t just buy your painless bout
    The taxes they’ll take to pay for your peace
    Will build the prisons for the poor sods with owt.

  77. Silican permalink
    April 28, 2011 1:44 PM

    Deeep ignorance publicly exposed. The beauty of anonymity (esp with the limerick)
    I thought that Andrew Motion was still queenie’s go to man when she needed the personalised Hallmark effect. Well, as of course you all know, the old cove in now a covess called Duffy. The only reason I was looking was to see what was being rolled out for the non-event of the year – that marriage. Turns out she’s written a poem called ‘Rings’ which is to be revealed on the day. I presume it will have been kept simple given the subjects’ cognitive pedigrees. I see she has already written a poem she could have chucked in at the last minute called Valentine, but somehow I think the idea of “fierce” onion breath-laced kisses and wedding bands fashioned from onion rings might have struck the young love-birds with somewhat less than the force of cupid’s arrow; its a poem more appropriately regurgitated for the Friday night post-pub-Kebap snog. In any case, given all the talent on this blog surely someone can run rings around ‘Rings’ before it even appears. As a scientist with bifurcate artistic lacunae (talent and experience), the best I can do is offer some schoolboy doggerel so as to set the starting bar below that of a maggot at a limbo contest:

    PL’s Contrition

    Ms Duffy, the great laureate of all time
    Had a poem to write for Will’s Caroline
    So in her dog-eared thesaurus
    She sought rhymes decorous
    but in the end all she found was pure slime

    • April 28, 2011 7:31 PM

      Hullo Silican; I think I know your voice, man (I could be awfully wrong but the resemblance is strong). It’s not what a poet sez, but how he sez it, _____ . ? (picture smiley emoticon here)

    • April 28, 2011 7:49 PM

      This bit was hilarious: “Paraphrasing Ogden Nash (shamefully, about the only poet I’ve read in my pedestrian acquaintance with the art-form)”… esp. in light of the Ron Silliman ref!

  78. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 28, 2011 3:40 PM

    I think we did that, Silican, if not here then on PP. I did this:

    Royal Wedding

    Katie, Katie, what is this rot,
    this simply will not work,
    I can’t believe you’ll tie the knot
    with this piddling berk.

    Bonce as shiny as a doorknob,
    his dad a total freak
    he’s never had a proper job
    his head is solid teak.

    Joining that cast of lunatics
    seems a little rash
    what happens in their bailiwicks
    just isn’t worth the cash.

    You’ll have to learn the etiquette,
    the German way of life,
    to love the scent of horse’s sweat
    and be a silent wife.

    Milk in first when pouring tea,
    never pick up the bill,
    don’t step on old Brenda’s corgi
    and don’t piss off Prince Phil.

    This advice should at least ensure
    that you remain alive:
    check out the breath of your chauffeur
    before you take a drive.

    HLM did a very good one (considerably better than mine).

    On HRH, it just crossed my mind that he might be in Paris searching for residences. I daresay nice palaces aren’t that easy to come by. Versailles is probably too small and is anyway too far out of town, while the Elysee is currently occupied. I suppose the Louvre’s a possibility, but it would entail clearing out a lot of old junk.

  79. Reine permalink
    April 28, 2011 5:49 PM

    I am writhing with embarrassment so I will tell all of you because my family will know the people in question and would probably write to them to apologise for my indiscretions. I have to say I am normally a pillar of tact and decorum, I don’t know what happened me.
    We were in a pub earlier and a girl I went to school with waved to me. I hadn’t seen her in years and we had never been particularly friendly but I thought it would be appropriate to say hello. She was with a large party including her father, her older sister and that lady’s husband (who it turned out I “knew” fleetingly in college, adding to the mortification). Anyway, I bounded over full of joie de vivre to be here on my holidays, it’s a beautiful day, I was drinking at lunch time, yada yada. “Hello” I cried and embraced the girls and patted a passing child on the head, who wasn’t theirs at all. I told the father he hadn’t changed a bit and asked him how he was and he muttered something back. Only then did the schoolfriend tell me her mother had died a month ago and they had just come from the month’s mind mass. So I embraced them all again and offered my sympathies and then, in an effort to break the awkward silence, asked her when her baby was due…. cue agonising inner screams a la Munch when she looked at me and said she was not pregnant and her sister laughed and her husband looked like he’d like to kill me and the old flame said “nice to meet you again Reine” and exited hastily clutching a toy rabbit. Jesus, my nerves were shattered; I returned to my table and drained my wine glass as HI who had witnessed the whole episode sat shaking his head slowly and grinning (he takes great pleasure in my rare fauxs pas). I NEVER EVER EVER ask women if they are expecting even if it seems plainly obvious. I don’t know what came over me. Those poor people just wanted to pay their bill and leave and instead had to contend with me and my over-enthusiastic labrador routine.

    Then as I left, a tall thin elderly man in the corner with long grey hair called me over and asked me my name. He was an islander (Clare Island) out for the day to do a bit of business. “If you ever want to leave that fella” he said, pointing to my beloved “come in to the island to me and I’ll put you to good use, I have sheep and everything”. I don’t know whether he wanted a farm hand or my hand. Then he clasped my hand between his two and winked.

    I told him I’d think about it.

    Never a dull moment…

    • April 28, 2011 7:33 PM

      Got a wince out of me, Reine!

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 28, 2011 10:04 PM

      Some years ago I mocked the poncy hat of an acquaintance I hadn’t seen for a while and joshed him about his thinning locks, characteristically blundering on despite quizzical looks from his companions. Yes, chemo.

  80. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 28, 2011 6:08 PM

    “Faux pas” doesn’t take an extra “s”.

    Although I can see why you tried valiantly to add one.

    Anyway, better to be hung for a sheep than for a goat, as yer man in the corner was probably thinking. Nice one, Reine!

    • Reine permalink
      April 28, 2011 8:14 PM

      Thanks teach. I meant to check that. x

  81. Silican permalink
    April 28, 2011 8:55 PM

    Desperately sorry to disappoint Steven, I just slipped in here on a tube of E45.. I’m sure I should be flattered, and am not so insensible of vanity to regret its false reward . But truly, I know zilch about poetry and decided that maybe I should plug a few gaps in my eclectic arts self-education. I didn’t know I’d referenced Ron Silliman and that would be because I’ve never heard of him. I’ll presume this is tantamount to sacrilege and a prelude to excommunication. Oh well, maybe the church of the esoteric word was not meant for me. I had more than an inkling of this when I read that poem ‘Valentine’. Very clever, I’m sure, to juxtapose love and an onion using the pretext of honesty. But then comes “It will blind you with tears like a lover”. Que? To my mind the parallel for onion tears would be saccharin smiles. But on the same site I see her saying she avoids difficult language and rejoices in simplicity. Simply far to clever for me. I mean, this is the poet laureate and I’m a sado slide-rule jockey. Maybe I should just stop at Nash.

  82. Silican permalink
    April 28, 2011 9:06 PM

    Sorry: re vanity – to not regret its false award

  83. April 28, 2011 9:19 PM

    Oh, and this just in: I’ve discovered, quite by accident, that some strange lady has posted one of my longer (and favorite) stories as her own:

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 28, 2011 9:56 PM

      What a cheek. Can you do anything about it? I remember Steve had some trouble with people nicking stuff from his blog – he was still dealing with it when he died.

    • April 28, 2011 10:07 PM

      Don’t really give much of a f*ck, MM… though I did always assume the sheer un-commerciality of my stuff would “protect” it (laugh). I am irritated that she put it up *entirely* in italics (it’s c. 35 pages long).

      Now, the really funny bit being that I think she pinched it without reading more than the first few pages, because while her blog seems to be fairly fluffy, the story has a few passages in it like…

      “A few days later, I walked to Paddy’s, and had two beers purchased for me by a sheepish-looking crew-cut blonde with very bad teeth whom I couldn’t bring myself to screw. We were in an alley a few blocks from Paddy’s and his moonlit breath was so foul I couldn’t face the prospect of putting anything of mine in that snaggle-toothed hole, more the less in his rectum. When I changed my mind about the transaction, he apologized profusely for wasting my time, and I struck him, not hard, but hard enough that he backed away down the alley, holding that side of his face as though he’d always treasure the pain.

      It was only a week or two later that I met Fabian Saldo at Paddy’s again. I was standing at the bar with an older man, for a change, a flinty, thick-haired, knife-faced man who put me in mind of the pictures I’d seen, on the backs of books, of the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. He was well-spoken and cautious and I had a strong suspicion he was a priest with his collar hidden safe in his pocket. Fabian Saldo joined us at the bar and we all ended up driving back to my place in Fabian’s car, the priest and I seated in the back, the priest singing under his breath. I have vivid memories of clutching that man’s dessicated waist, which expanded and contracted like a blacksmith’s bellows as he cried out, on all fours, in his throaty, tobacco-dark Latin.”

    • April 29, 2011 1:00 AM

      oh poo. “desiccated”

  84. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 28, 2011 9:49 PM

    I think Duffy is trying to emphasise the intense, obsessive side to love rather than the familiar soppy stuff, Silican. I don’t usually have much time for her, but the whiff on the fingers bit is pretty good. It’s important to understand that a clear, rational exposition of a poem isn’t always possible (or necessary).

    Scientists and mathematicians have written reams of fine poetry, of course. William Empson is a good example:

    Camping Out

    And now she cleans her teeth into the lake:
    Gives it (God’s grace) for her own bounty’s sake
    What morning’s pale and the crisp mist debars:
    Its glass of the divine (that Will could break)
    Restores, beyond Nature: or lets Heaven take
    (Itself being dimmed) her pattern, who half awake
    Milks between rocks a straddled sky of stars.

    Soap tension the star pattern magnifies.
    Smoothly Madonna through-assumes the skies
    Whose vaults are opened to achieve the Lord.
    No, it is we soaring explore galaxies;
    Our bullet boat light’s speed by thousands flies.
    Who moves so among stars their frame unties,
    See where they blur, and die, and are outsoared.

    Brilliant poem, but I have no idea what he’s on about. Perhaps you could explain?

  85. Silican permalink
    April 28, 2011 10:22 PM

    Steven, What perversity, to be so hollow that even anonymously (or maybe only a pesudo-anonymity so to lend an air of the genuine to the chosen few allowed behind the mask) you need to pose so hard. I randomly cut this, “Here’s to silence – it cuts me to the core”, the second line of her would be confessional, stream of conciousness conceit of a blog, googled it and found it is a line from a song by someone called Taylor Swift. So, jackdaw like, she is filling her vacuity with the reality of others creations. What a terribly sad commentary on celebrity culture. There was, to my undiscerning mind, a very good poem I read on this blog yesterday about a silicone woman melting during the course of a sexual encounter (I think it was MM with a titanium dick for a punch line). But what if that was a plastic psyche melting in its place-it doesn’t bear thinking about. BTW where is the rest of your story now that I’ve got thus far.

  86. Silican permalink
    April 28, 2011 11:28 PM

    MM, I remember when about 12 or 13 lying alone under a clear night sky and suddenly experiencing rhis mind-blowingly intense moment of insight, but it was a knowing without knowing. The insight was of the ultimate unknowability of everything but its infinite connectedness, though I couldn’t have put it like that then and never even tried to explain it to anyone (I’d never even heard of reductionism at the time, and if I had I’m sure I would have thought it was the latest diet). I thinks that is what this guy is getting at. I think it would take many hours to dissect all meaning out of this mellifluous and (maybe) intentional muddle. I’m guessing that somebody, somewhere has already done that, but it would be nicer just to live with it for a while and let it sink gradually in. I don’t think that any great understanding of science is needed to ‘get’ this. What’s your impression?
    But honestly, WTF do I know, this is almost all new territory for me.
    Regarding Valentine, it just seemed to me that if you set out to be discordant in order to be more intensely ‘truthful’ there should be consistency in that truth or it loses all its power. Put another way, you make it hard to buy into in the first place then sell it out. But hey, I’ll cut her some slack (self-mocking condescension intended).

  87. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 29, 2011 12:07 AM

    I’ve read that the second part has something to do with Einstein and relativity: though what it is I don’t know. That ‘straddled sky of stars’ does it for me.

    I’m not sure that the speaker in Duffy’s poem is aiming to be discordant. The sense I get from it is that she or he is contrasting the sort of love they’re offering with the conventional model.

    Anyway, must go to bed. Got to get up early for The Wedding.

  88. hic8ubique permalink
    April 29, 2011 12:24 AM

    Sad :( I can’t catch up with all of you just yet.

    Hi Silican~ can’t call you ‘Si’ since I’ve already got one …heh… (I especially liked the bifurcating lacunae bit)
    You surely know him, St. A, given your long tenure.

    Liked you modification for the Dukes as well, MM. And hope you’re correct about M’s whereabouts, although in that case he might give us a life-sign after all we’ve been through together!

    Reine~ it was an understandable enthusiasm; forgive yourself. x
    I’m packing for a weekend in Old Virginny, and have decided against the shiny crimson shoes for going up in a hot-air balloon, furthermore, Imogen Tutu will be going to a friend rather than accompanying me (= happy Spouse) so there’ll be no Tutu ‘Toto’ either.
    I’m rather acrophobic, and am hoping to draw courage from Joan Crawford instead.

    • April 29, 2011 1:05 AM

      “acrophobia” is the world’s most rational “phobia”, Hic. Listen to your very rational sense of danger. Is there a term for “the irrational fear of rattle snakes”… or for “the irrational fear of arsenic”…?

    • April 29, 2011 3:18 AM

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 29, 2011 2:27 PM

      Well, thanks you two. If I fail to recur, you may assume I didn’t heed advice.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 29, 2011 4:29 PM

    • April 29, 2011 5:27 PM

      Hic, just don’t read the opening chapter of “Enduring Love” (or, erm, anything else by McEwan written later than 1990… but especially not *that*)…

    • Reine permalink
      April 29, 2011 7:31 PM

      A hot air balloon? Never, after reading Enduring Love. Steven’s right. But have a lovely time!! Joan Crawford would just spank you soundly for whingeing and upend you into the basket with one hand while holding her cigarette in the other.

  89. Reine permalink
    April 29, 2011 11:19 AM

    I said I wouldn’t watch it and here I am in my nightie having a little cry… What’s occurring?

    • Reine permalink
      April 29, 2011 11:33 AM

      HI told me I was his princess and I told him to fuck off. Not very regal of me.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 29, 2011 11:59 AM

      A wonderful occasion: the 39 Articles might be a bit dodgy, but the C of E does put on a good show.

      Bet you wish you’d never left the UK now (just joking!).

    • Reine permalink
      April 29, 2011 7:26 PM

      Being that I was born into a Republic not a dominion (said she wrapped thrice about in the tricolour and playing the harp), I personally have no feeling of having left although you do have nice jewels. More duels than jewels here.

    • Reine permalink
      April 29, 2011 8:49 PM

      By “you” I mean England although I am sure yours are gorgeous too.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 29, 2011 11:43 PM

      I’m glad you cleared that up. As I reclined on my diamond-encrusted sofa, twiddling my sapphire and emerald rings, I wondered for a moment if you had second sight.

      About thirty years ago I had an Irish friend whose solution to the troubles (then raging fiercely) was for Ireland to rejoin the UK. I thought, and said, that it was a ridiculous idea, but when I gave it more consideration it wasn’t a bad idea, with a few changes. If a new political entity involving all the islands was created (with a neutral name), with a new constitution, and the centre of government placed in the geographical centre (Anglesey or the Isle of Man, apparently), then all those regional tensions could be ameliorated, since there would be no Northern Ireland, UK or Ireland. Strangely enough, the scheme was never adopted. Our leaders are so shortsighted.

  90. hic8ubique permalink
    April 29, 2011 2:06 PM

    I woke to birdsong at 5, and couldn’t help but make espresso and watch the Spectacle.

    Couldn’t work out the tv remotes…only snow… and realised it would all be streamed live online.
    Thus, I obviated the American commenters disaffectedly stumbling through the dramatis personae, and listened instead to a Welshman give the transport and fashion notes til the ceremony got underway.
    Kate’s sister looked stunning from behind, I thought, and the Abbey was beautifully filmed~ loved the trees.
    I heard someone allude to the Queen’s dandelion symbolism, but was mistaking ‘underlying’ symbolism.
    Oh well, would have been better as I heard it.
    On a cattier note… what could poor Beatrice have been thinking? Was that a mono-antler? and Camilla looked surprisingly stout and tottery. I’m inspired to decorate my hat a bit for the party tomorrow…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 29, 2011 4:36 PM

      That hat was fairly mad. B and Eugenie looked a bit like the sisters in a panto version of Cinders (without actually being ugly).

    • Reine permalink
      April 29, 2011 9:13 PM

      E and B and Miriam of the Clegg at least deserve praise for standing out from the pedestrian crowd although they should have followed Coco’s advice and removed at least one thing before leaving the house.

    • obooki permalink
      April 30, 2011 1:13 PM

      Kate’s sister looked stunning from behind, I thought

      Yes, those were my thoughts too. My next thought was, perhaps there will be some sort of Boleyn-girl action in the near-future.

      loved the trees

      All churches in England have trees growing in them.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 30, 2011 2:15 PM

      I’m loth to comment on women’s bodies, but I must say I thought Kate and her sister unattractively thin. I hear they are devotees of the Dukan Diet, which consists mostly of protein and water. It’s a high price to pay for looking like a skeleton.

    • Reine permalink
      April 30, 2011 3:02 PM

      I refer you to my earlier comment about the danger of slipping through the floor tiles of the cathedral, by which I meant abbey. No such danger for me being a “fine stout lump of an agricultural Irish girl” so perhaps it is only my green eyed monster talking.

  91. Reine permalink
    April 29, 2011 11:18 PM

    Easy payday for Simon Schama today. Last time I saw him he was being interrogated by some mad woman in the audience at one of his gigs (it wasn’t me, I was counting down the minutes until I could get to the pub),

    • Reine permalink
      April 29, 2011 11:19 PM


    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      April 29, 2011 11:56 PM

      What was he doing today? I saw Starkey on C4 news.

    • Reine permalink
      April 30, 2011 12:05 AM

      I am just fast forwarding through the recording…

      Simon was in the studio with Huw Edwards referencing the historical significance of the occasion. Now some girl historian is pouring forth about the historical significance of chocolate biscuit cake and slagging off the food of the past in the royal household much to the chagrin of Sir Malcolm somebody or other. Poor Huw made heavy weather of it. “The royal couple have gone to have a bit of a rest”. Hmmm. Very tiring, those rests.

    • obooki permalink
      April 30, 2011 1:18 PM

      Easy payday for Simon Schama today

      It made me wonder though about his historical acumen when he adduced from a few shots of flag-waving imbeciles that the entire population of Britain was in favour of our Gothic overlords.

  92. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 30, 2011 12:56 PM

    He has an academic’s good looks
    and he’s written several books
    he’s a fact-based yarner,
    Simon Schama, Simon Schama.

    His methods are Victorian,
    he’s a narrative historian,
    it’s all about the drama,
    Simon Schama, Simon Schama.

    They say he lacks precision,
    but he’s good on television,
    he’s a monumental charmer,
    Simon Schama, Simon Schama.

    • Reine permalink
      April 30, 2011 3:09 PM

      A+ in reductionism. He may use it as a resume.

    • obooki permalink
      April 30, 2011 11:28 PM

      What the hell’s he written
      Since A History of Britain
      He’s a self-harmer
      Simon Schama, Simon Schama

    • Reine permalink
      May 1, 2011 12:18 AM

      Hope it’s not bad karma
      To slag off Schama
      It may give us cause for alarm… ah

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 1, 2011 12:22 AM

      He’s certainly not as sarky
      as the egregious David Starkey,
      he’s better than Fukuyama,
      Simon Schama, Simon Schama.

  93. Silican permalink
    April 30, 2011 2:09 PM

    Back to the drug theme: “Pope Benedict XVI has declared that the cure of a French nun who suffered from Parkinson’s disease was miraculous, the last step needed for John Paul II’s beatification.” – (If Ahmedinnerjacket, whose interests are catholic, cured a ham, that too would be miraculous.)

    The High Church

    You idolaters had your Dionysus
    Now we’ve got our Saint Dopamine
    But over wine connoisseurs do fuss
    Not us with coke, pure and crystalline

  94. Reine permalink
    April 30, 2011 3:16 PM

    Blessed Reine, Reine the Meek, St. Reine of Connacht, St. Reine, Friend of Tremblers… just trying it for size.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 1, 2011 12:38 AM

      I believe there was a Blessed Reine at one time, but Clement V took exception to her asking his rather overweight sister when her baby was due. She was dispatched to one of the church’s most remote postings and was never heard of again. She is remembered in the encyclical Rudis Reine (1227).

    • Reine permalink
      May 1, 2011 12:43 AM

      Jesus MM, you have given me another hot flush. I still can’t believe I asked.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 1, 2011 12:56 AM

      Think of it as a gift. It’s a meal they’ll always remember.

      And now my Cumfi-Doze orthopaedic mattress with Hand-Sewn Buttoning and Traditional Ticking beckons. Laters!

    • Reine permalink
      May 1, 2011 1:16 AM

      I misread that as traditional “tickling”; you’d never get any sleep.

  95. Silican permalink
    April 30, 2011 4:12 PM

    Miracle first please. e.g. Kiss+Blarney stone=Endless eloquence (as opposed to intermittent) then aim low, say St. Reine of Ballyfermot or St Reine of the breakdancing statue of Grangecon.

  96. Reine permalink
    April 30, 2011 6:10 PM

    I live with the Blarney stone personified, which is a miracle in itself Sili.

    “intermittent” … how you wound my fragile but saintly ego!

    • May 1, 2011 7:27 PM

      St. Reine of the Razor!
      You cannot erase her
      from the communion of holy saints.
      The moistened bint bit’s just a feint

    • Reine permalink
      May 1, 2011 8:48 PM

      She has a way with a Bic
      Shaves them smooth, very slick
      Her legs, like her soul,
      Are now out on parole

  97. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 1, 2011 3:39 PM

    Simon Schama was on the Marr show today. I didn’t recognise him at first: he wears contacts now he’s a star. It’s odd the way he throws himself about while speaking, like the words are being jerked out of him. Poor old Maureen Lipman (sitting next to him on the Sofa of News) was having to take evasive action. Apart from seeing a couple of episodes of his TV series (and as we all know, TV history is worthless) I’ve only read ‘Citizens’, which I found so-so. Norman Hampson was my preferred source on the FR: his amazing ‘Robespierre’ is one of the best historical/political books I’ve read. His ‘Danton’ was also a fascinating book.

    Just finished hedge-cutting day at Villa Mowbray. After 80′ of mixed hedging 7′ tall my arms will be vibrating for hours. A good excuse for not writing any letters or filling in my bloody tax return, at least.

    • Reine permalink
      May 1, 2011 9:00 PM

      Not a good time to shave either.

      Simon’s a live wire all right. He must vibrate constantly.

      Mishari looking more fabulous than ever, can we bear it? I think he has seen off my lobster with a flick of the elegant wrist.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 1, 2011 11:30 PM

      Yes, probably not a good time to cut my fingernails. Well, I sh uld th nk I’ll g t by.

  98. mishari permalink*
    May 1, 2011 8:05 PM

    Evening, all. I’m back in The Big Smoke. Sorry about being remiss in my blog duties but my importunate wife and offspring periodically insist that I discharge my duties as a husband and father with rather more vim than is usual and it’s hard to refuse them. I’m swayed by their pleading looks…that and the cudgels and kitchen knives oh-so-casually displayed and meaningfully fondled. I must be getting soft.

    My cousins-in-law have a place on the Île d’Oléron to which we decamped. We came back a day early to avoid the hordes who’ll inevitably all be travelling tomorrow, like the sheep they are. I am (if I do say so myself) toasted an appealing shade of mahogany and am stuffed to the gills (appropriately enough) with excellent seafood. The Age of Austerity can go and fuck itself.

    Mais, mes amis…revenons à nos moutons…or more precisely, the marriage of two mutton-heads. I was listening (intermittently) to the BBC World Service and I was astonished by the amount of hysterical waffle being spouted. Has everyone lost their goddamned minds?

    I actually heard some half-witted Tory MP whose name (mercifully) escapes me explaining very earnestly that the Queen and her ghastly brood of maladroit meat-puppets were worth any amount of tax-payer’s expenditure because “…they allow Britain to punch above her weight on the world stage.”

    Once I’d retrieved my jaw from my lap, I tried to pick the bones out of that extraordinary notion. No dice: anywhere I sliced it, it was still baloney. And to think: chumps like this make our laws, God help us.

    Anyway, I’ll get a new post up tonight or tomorrow, inshalla

  99. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 1, 2011 11:38 PM

    You had me worried there, squire. Glad you enjoyed your hols. Did you fish for the seafood yourself? I expect everyone admired your cast (©Punch,1897).

  100. hic8ubique permalink
    May 1, 2011 11:42 PM

    It does me good to know you are alive and eating, Mishari.
    I too have returned from cousins-in-law and a ballon’s-eye-view of lovely horse-country.
    (Who loves hyphens more than I do?). I worked myself into a state over braving that balloon, but it turned out to be tethered, so no trouble after all.
    Suffocating in a plane is far worse. I wonder whether the first-class seats get more oxygen in their vents. That would really be worth the extra. Liquid oxygen was advertised in the duty-free, and I think I’ll see about that for Thursday when I’ll be tinned again.

    My visit was abundantly delicious as well, but brief and I’ve returned looking the same birchy colour as before thanks to my broad-brimmed hat.
    The bride’s friends reminded me of that joke about the over-population problem: ‘…we must find that woman and stop her.’
    One mother was pregnant with her 10th! Spouse whispered ‘Are they Amish?’ but they seemed Mormony to me, and were in fact neither, but a Southern variety of RC.
    What does one call Virginia, the Shallow South?

    • Reine permalink
      May 2, 2011 12:12 AM

      Glad you survived Hicsterina; hope your peripateticism will not completely wind you.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 2, 2011 2:00 AM

      Honestly, I believe I’m inspired to go for a proper balloon-ride now. It feels most similar to sailing.
      I’d want to make sure there’s something more than rattan for the basket’s floor, so I can loosen my grip on the uprights.
      Here’s a sort of a lullaby we had around the bonfire last night…

  101. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 12:03 AM

    Thanks, gang. The muddy white of my cast makes for a poor contrast with my bronzed epidermis. Another 2-3 weeks and the bugger comes off, please God (the cast, not my epidermis).

    I did do a bit of fishing but mostly confined myself to crabbing and digging up razor clams, mussels, whelks and such; gorging; drinking a lot of pastis (which, for some unaccountable reason, never seems to get me drunk); explaining to various Frogs that ‘no, I can tell you nothing about the royal couple and their wedding and I wish to see them guillotined forthwith if not sooner’; dozing on the beach while pretending to read Arthur Schnitzler’s The Road into the Open
    (Der Weg ins Freie) but it was hard to work up much interest in the unhappy love life of composer Georg von Wergenthin-Recco.

    I will read it properly, though, because there are some wonderfully written passages describing the milieu our hero moves in and of the Austro-Hungarian empire just before the First World War.

  102. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 2, 2011 7:13 AM

    I seem to recall you recalling your resistance to pastis, Mish. Since pastis is often the first but never the last drink gedrunken, it emerges unscathed in the final reckoning: “So you’re saying it wasn’t the bottle and a half of Ricard, it was the glass of Côte du Rhône that got you pissed?”

    One can always blame a dodgy whelk in the last resort.

  103. May 2, 2011 10:32 AM

    Back just in time, M. Der Spiegel online featured this headline (for about 15 minutes before adjusting it): “US-Militär soll Obama auf See bestattet haben”

    Which preempts the inevitable question: “…what poor bearded guy did they use as a prop…?” It appears that their budget must be shrinking.

  104. Reine permalink
    May 2, 2011 11:08 AM

    I forgot to switch off my phone last night and had a text from my sister at 7 a.m. “Are you travelling to Osama’s funeral as well?” (a reference to the fact that these are, sadly, a funeral-heavy few days – nobody close but obligation dictates attendance). I replied that I would be attending her funeral if she texts me again at 7 a.m. on a bank holiday Monday.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 2, 2011 12:54 PM

      Better take your water-wings if you go.

    • Reine permalink
      May 2, 2011 12:56 PM

      Indeed; the burkina (a la Nigella) is already packed.

  105. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 12:00 PM

    When the weather’s right, Hank, pastis is quite refreshing. I’m not wild about liquorice in general but I don’t dislike the flavour. As for bad whelks, remind me to tell you my bad oyster story one of these days–it still has the power to make me cringe uncontrollably.

    So, Steven…they finally tracked down Obama: I always wondered where he got to. I mean, the man entered stage right to a hell of a fanfare, gave us a spectacular song-and-dance number about ‘hope’ (sic) and ‘change you can believe in’ (double sic) and then…zip; bupkes; nada. He vanished and instead, we got some guy who handed trillions to the banks who fucked everything up in the first place, kept Guantanamo open, cracked down hard on whistle-blowers and calls extra-judicial killings ‘justice being done’. By that logic, 9/11 was ‘justice being done’. Christ…

    One slightly ironic aspect of this latest ‘triumph’ in the ‘war on terror’ is the location of Obama’s hideout:Abbottabad: it was founded by and named after a British army officer. I wonder if Obama used to have a chuckle about that?

  106. May 2, 2011 1:50 PM

    My favourite headline this morning: ‘Vatican Says Bin Laden Exploited Religion’

    • mishari permalink*
      May 2, 2011 2:44 PM

      Excellent…and how unlike our own dear Pope….

  107. May 2, 2011 2:51 PM

    I don’t think it was a criticism. More an expression of admiration from one professional to another.

    Not that I’ve anything against Catholics. I’m an atheist and I wish we had a more dignified self-appointed chairman than Richard ‘shout-at-the-stupid-priests-until-they-agree’ Dawkins.

  108. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 3:04 PM

    I had an argument with someone years ago on just that matter: I believe everything that Dawkins believes, but for Fuck’s sake–does he have to be so ratty all the bloody time? He gets pop-eyed and puce-faced with righteous indignation at the very thought of anyone who disagrees with him. Not an attractive stance. If only we could get George Clooney or Salma Hayek to take over Dawkins’ duties…

  109. May 2, 2011 3:15 PM

    Are they atheists? He can be reasonable but after I saw him nose-to-nose with a rabbi, just sneering and bellowing at the poor guy, I had enough.

    I went to a humanist wedding the other day. It’s tricky because, not believing in God, it was impossible for anyone attending to have a moral code. So the wedding ended in divorce by the end of the night and there were several murders as well as a lot of Darwin-inspired eugenics.

  110. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 6:04 PM

    Osama bin Laden’s death boosts stock marketsGrauniad headline, today

    No comment.

  111. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 2, 2011 7:11 PM

    Beard as tough as baler twine,
    longer than the Penzance line,
    hairy as your average llama,
    Osama, Osama.

    The infidel’s upbraider,
    he wasn’t pro-Crusader,
    Islam was his monodrama,
    Osama, Osama.

    He thought an AK47
    would blast a way to heaven,
    he wasn’t a disarmer,
    Osama, Osama.

    He really didn’t care a lot
    if Kuffar got bombed or shot,
    not much of a charmer,
    Osama, Osama.

    • May 2, 2011 7:15 PM

      Off-rhyme at the end perfect (was kinda hoping for a “Karma” somewhere in there, too, MM)

    • mishari permalink*
      May 2, 2011 7:59 PM

      A cracker, MM…although the ‘ama’ rhyme is a bit of a gift…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 2, 2011 11:11 PM

      Karma would have been nice, but I suppose it’s Buddhist, or Hindi (or possibly both). I’m a stickler for accuracy, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.

  112. May 2, 2011 7:12 PM

    Christ, I’m going to have to shut down my Facebook account. From the “hip-hip-hoorays” I have to look at in the comment threads of friends-of-friends to the “serious” discussions even some actual friends are having about whether things will be “better” now that “Osama” is “out of the picture”. As I commented (with ultimate restraint) in one such thread:

    “Remember when they whacked Che? They were pretty eager to show that photo of his corpse, weren’t they? Because, you know, who would be gullible enough to take their word for it, right? People who weren’t completely brainwashed into perfect gullibility would never have accepted that the “terrorist” was dead without at least seeing a similar-looking body on that table.

    Can you imagine how they would have laughed, back then, if they had said, “We killed Che Guevara! But, uh, you can’t see the body, more the less perform an autopsy on it, because, uh… we buried it at sea! Immediately!” Imagine the mirth! Imagine what Tom Lehrer, alone, would have done with the stupendous absurdity of such a thing (especially shortly before a Presidential campaign)!

    Just sayin’.”

  113. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 7:57 PM

    I know, Steven…when I first heard that, I laughed with incredulity/amusement: say what? You buried him at sea? You mean, in the great tradition of naval terrorists? And nobody said, “Erm…so…we can’t actually confirm that you killed the guy? Because you buried him at…erm…sea? Have I got that right? Are you fucking kidding me? They didn’t bury Admiral fucking Nelson at sea, but you decide to go all old-school navy with a Muslim terrorist? I need a drink”

    • May 2, 2011 8:17 PM

      I still haven’t gotten over the utter low-budget cheesiness of it, M. I remember the old days, when America spared no expense in the fooling of its gullible masses? I want those days back! Bring back high production values, expertly-doctored footage, seamless acting jobs, masterful forgeries… and I’ll be proud to be a fucking American, again!

    • May 2, 2011 8:25 PM

      Slightly even… unloved?

  114. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 8:24 PM

    I know, dude…I feel cheated.

  115. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 8:49 PM

    Not just unloved, but slightly soiled…they’re treating us like tramps: I feel so cheap (sniff)…

    • May 2, 2011 8:57 PM

      (Well, we *were* major sluts for most of our respective pre-conjugal bliss days, M, but that’s for another thread…)

  116. May 2, 2011 9:06 PM

    Students here a bit despondent on hearing the news. ‘He was a great man, teacher,’ said one. In reply to the conspiracy love-in: yes, I know, but one thing is for sure: we’ll never hear from OBL again. So either he is dead, in some hole in the Navajo desert, has in fact been dead these many years, or never existed. Call me a simpleton, but Occam’s razor (not Reine’s)…

  117. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 9:19 PM

    As (I think) Margot Asquith said of Lord Kitchener: ” He wasn’t a great man, but he was a great poster…”…Marx, Che, Osama….Steven Augustine? (get those copyright papers in now, sport…)

    • May 2, 2011 9:50 PM

      (What I need, M, is a beret or an eye-patch… or more convincing facial hair, at the very least…)

  118. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 2, 2011 11:27 PM

    I heard that Saudi Arabia didn’t want the corpse, and I shouldn’t think there was a rush to claim it from other quarters. The rationale for chucking him into the sea (or ‘lowering’, as the news had it) is that there won’t be a martyr’s shrine. I would have considered an active volcano, the South Pole or the currently bankrupt Harcourt Sands Holiday Park near Ryde. They could do with a few pilgrims (Please Leave RPGs And Automatic Weapons At The Gate. Thank You For Your Consideration.).

  119. mishari permalink*
    May 2, 2011 11:44 PM

    What…Madame Tussaud’s didn’t put in a bid? Anyway, they should have had him stuffed and mounted or something. If (God forbid: my daughters would never forgive me) I shot a unicorn, I don’t think: “Oh, I buried it at sea, doncher know'” would be very convincing. People, quite rightly, would want to see some sort of evidence. Enquiring minds want to know: I want to know…

    This one’s for the people of Abbottabad:

  120. Reine permalink
    May 3, 2011 12:23 AM

    Where have you been laid
    Bin Laden, Bin Laden?
    Did the sight of you all
    The sea predators gladden?
    It’s hard to believe that you’re no longer here
    Perhaps cos the evidence’s not at all clear
    Like Thomas, we’d all like to see the wet wound
    Believer and athiest, with one voice have crooned
    Prove it Obama, show us Osama
    Are you sure you haven’t just drowned a pet llama?

  121. Reine permalink
    May 3, 2011 12:25 AM

    “atheist”, soz.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 3, 2011 12:38 AM


  122. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 3, 2011 12:37 AM

    Unicorns, llamas, all this speculation is just too much for me. I’m heading for my compound in Abbottabed.

    • Reine permalink
      May 3, 2011 12:43 AM

      Keep your wits about you (and a reed).

  123. hic8ubique permalink
    May 3, 2011 2:06 AM

    “Thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to celebrate Bin Laden’s killing.”

    Chanting ‘USA, USA’ outside the White House?
    This grotesque sporting event style triumphalism is what disturbs me.
    My cynical side has to wonder whether the carefully-timed operation was calculated to deliberately inspire inflammatory response, which will predictably provoke OBL’s followers, catalysing events martial, thus bolstering approval ratings of a certain flagging head-of-state … just as campaigning begins.
    I haven’t listened to much of the bigwigs’ statements, but if anyone advised a sombre and reflective attitude I’ll be very surprised. Delighted to be shown to be wrong…

    This is what I hate about politics: it doesn’t matter what is real or true; all that signifies is how the game is played, how the people are played.

  124. May 3, 2011 2:29 AM

    I watched Obama last night live on CNN, stayed up and have been following the rolling news, surging between the various sites, Fox, Al Jazeera, BBC News and what struck me is that a picture, hitherto ill-defined and vauge, firmed up, for the first time since 9/11. How Bush was such a disaster as president, his whole eight years a lesson in how not to behave: gloating, tough-talking frat boy with a silver spoon stuck in his mouth since birth, playing every dirty trick in the book to get elected, not an American patriot but a self-centred multi-millionaire whose incompetence caused the Conspiracy industry to thrive.

    My instinct was confused over the years, slowly listening to the Alex Jones, Icke, Fox nutters who seemed plausible because Bush was so inept, but last night it was like a picture coming into focus, and understanding it was the previous incumbent of the White House who was responsible for setting in motion the poisionous atmosphere that infeceted, distracted debate and caused disunity among Americans and the distrust felt by the rest of us toward them.

    The first event was the release of the BC, and then the conspiracy idiots claiming it was an obvious fake and any remaining thoughts they were reasonable, on my mind, dissolved in their daft denials. How Alex Jones immediately put out an item claiming it was fake, and seeing how his type of people, the unelected chatterers who had traction under Bush, who one sensed as patriots before Obama and Conspiracy theorizing became their money making business, have been made to look like Trump being roasted at the White House Press Dinner.

    When the Gadaffi bomb killing his son and grandchildren happened, I began to wonder; Obama now looks as bad as Bush; but with bin Laden’s end, and the subsequent release of information today about how it happened, it was like his speech on race during the 2008 election, in that it crystalized things, brought into the open workings previously hidden, but human. How one wrong, human mistake can result in a billion nutters tweeting what an idiot the president is; all the conspiracy nutters in our armchairs, offering advice like legless soccer players to Messi and Roony.

    The mistake we make is in thinking Obama is just like Bush, in that he is in it for himself rather than America; but I don’t think he is in it for himself, but is one of the genuine good guys and last night he played a blinder; in one fell swoop shut up that horrible, dangerous, daddy’s boy Trump and gave back to America what has been missing since 9/11.

    Obama genuinely wants to do the right thing, help the poor people, the people from his own background who grew up poor, and unlike most other presidents of recent memory, has no hidden secrets that can be used against him, and has reversed the disingenous bullshit, fake patriotic campaigning methods of the Rove school, by injecting a bit of honesty into the debates, the first to show up the fear-mongers and neuter them; show the voters what their real concerns are; big business and not the normal middle class.

    It was only last night it crystalized, how bin Laden is hated all round the world, and unlike Bush and the old bag Clinton whose press conference (notice her hair?) was all about her wanting a slice of the limelight; not gloating about his win, the first president to bring a bit of real class to the role since Kennedy, and overnight, unify the biggest nation of potential nutters brought up on TV values, by coming across as a transparently decent human being, who his head and shoulders above the rest of the pack, intellectually and a credit to the yanks, imho.

  125. May 3, 2011 10:40 AM

    “When the Gadaffi bomb killing his son and grandchildren happened, I began to wonder; Obama now looks as bad as Bush; but with bin Laden’s end, and the subsequent release of information today about how it happened, it was like his speech on race during the 2008 election, in that it crystalized things, brought into the open workings previously hidden, but human.”

    Because killing “Osama” un-killed Gadaffi’s son and grandchildren…?

  126. mishari permalink*
    May 3, 2011 12:59 PM

    Frankly, @me, I find your position a bit bizarre, not to mention irrational. You seem to share in the general gloating over a man’s death (a man, I might add, who was never tried, let alone convicted, of any crime).

    But let’s suppose Bin Laden was responsible for 9/11 (and I’ve seen no evidence that he was): does that really make him ‘the world’s most evil man’? Why? Do we measure death on a sliding scale? If so, why aren’t GW Bush and Tony Blair, who between them made Bin Laden look like a pussycat in the death-dealing stakes, the ‘world’s most evil men’?

    Were you equally jubilant when British special forces killed 3 Irish citizens in Gibraltar (because they were ‘terrorists’)? I note that you’re posting from Ireland so I’m betting you weren’t.

    As for Obama being ‘better’ than Bush: frankly, I like my enemies out in the open where I can get at them. With Bush, there were no illusions–he was a unconscionable prick and an enemy of common decency.

    Obama is, in my opinion, worse. He has better presentation skills; he seems ‘decent; he makes the right noises…but I don’t judge people on the ‘noises they make: I judge them on what they do and what Obama has done is to prove himself just another Wall St errand boy, just another war-monger; just another mealy-mouthed hypocrite.

    I guess some people are easily pleased, though.

    • May 3, 2011 1:50 PM

      I read comments like Me’s and I really despair at how effective the propaganda (which I always, at first blush, mistakenly believe is so clumsily transparent that a 12-year-old would roll her/his eyes at it) really is.

    • obooki permalink
      May 3, 2011 11:21 PM

      Surely “I read comments like mine” would be more grammatically correct.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 3, 2011 11:28 PM

      Surely, “comments such as my own” would be more stylish.

    • May 4, 2011 12:20 AM

      “Comments such as Me’s own” probably the best of the lot (had I it to do again).

  127. May 3, 2011 1:51 PM

    (urg, please ignore the first “really”)

  128. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 3, 2011 11:03 PM

    General Sir James Abbott, founder of Abbottabad, retired to Ryde in the IoW, where he died in 1896. He wrote this poem about Abbottabad before he left:

    I remember the day when I first came here
    And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air

    The trees and ground covered with snow
    Gave us indeed a brilliant show

    To me the place seemed like a dream
    And far ran a lonesome stream

    The wind hissed as if welcoming us
    The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss

    And the tiny cuckoo sang it away
    A song very melodious and gay

    I adored the place from the first sight
    And was happy that my coming here was right

    And eight good years here passed very soon
    And we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon

    Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now
    To your natural beauty do I bow

    Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear
    My gift for you is a few sad tears

    I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
    Never from my mind will your memories thwart

    A superb piece, I think you’ll agree. Ryde seems to have been a draw for retired Indian Army officers: the house I live in was formerly occupied by a Major-General Henry Rooke, and the one next door by a Major-General Wallis. They were both participants in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Wallis at Lucknow. Every now and then I catch a whiff of cheroot and feel a hint of disapproval in the air. Eating filthy foreign muck? Sprawling on the sofa like some Turkish johnny? Good God!

    • obooki permalink
      May 3, 2011 11:22 PM

      Yes, he seems to have a fine English contempt for rhythm.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 3, 2011 11:24 PM

      … generally, abbott as bad as it gets.

    • Reine permalink
      May 3, 2011 11:40 PM

      First Class.

      (in primary school)

    • Reine permalink
      May 4, 2011 12:05 AM

      I have no truck
      With Turkish Johnnies
      Much though they are safe
      The rose and icing sugar
      Make the curtains chafe

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 4, 2011 12:13 AM

      OMG that’s another confection I shall never look at the same way again.

    • Reine permalink
      May 4, 2011 12:15 AM

      Sorry Mowbs, I don’t know what came over me.

  129. mishari permalink*
    May 3, 2011 11:44 PM

    If only General Costello had seen fit to follow his partner General Abbot in founding a town: Costelloabad–a laugh a minute.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 3, 2011 11:57 PM

      weren’t no spa
      no Baden Baden;
      went from bad to

  130. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 3, 2011 11:51 PM

    ‘The wind hissed as if welcoming us’ suggested to me that Gen. Abbott didn’t have much talent for picking up signals, a characteristic shared by many of our (or my) Imperial forebears. ‘The Hindoos hissed as we rode into Delhi: how kind of them to welcome us.’

  131. Silican permalink
    May 4, 2011 12:06 AM

    What an ugly spectacle. Flag waving, V-signing, beer slurping New Yorkers waving placards boasting “Obama 1 – Osama 0”. All that was missing was a troupe of aerocephalic cheerleaders and anything resembling cognisance of the enormity of killing. Nothing has been won. Nothing has been settled. Nobody is safer, richer or wiser. Bin Laden’s lead filled body has supposedly been plopped into the Indian Ocean ‘according to Islamic principles’ but quite how his head has been pointed towards Mecca is unclear, not that it would hasten his journey to that virgin and wine soaked Mustang Ranch in the sky.

    Looking again at that poem by Empson MM, I misread “Our bullet boat light’s speed by thousands flies.” thinking the’ thousands’ referred to the ‘our’ not ‘light’s speed’. Exceeding the speed of light is theoreticaly impossible because it would require infinite energy/mass and would allow one to travel backwards in time. Still, I’m not sure what he is on about. Maybe debunking religion then reductionism and ‘outsoaring’ with … mystery?

    Re. eloquence Reine, I thought intermittent was almost as good as it gets.

    • Reine permalink
      May 4, 2011 12:19 AM

      You might be right Silican.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 4, 2011 12:23 AM

      Googling a bit later on I came across:

      ‘Empson liked to push his love affairs beyond the limits of physical theory, using
      the dramatic implications of Einstein’s theory to explore extreme psychological or social
      conditions. In ‘Camping Out’ he had two lovers travel faster than light, explaining in a
      commentary that ‘on the Einstein Theory this would crack up the whole of space. The
      idea is that a great enough ecstasy can make the common world unreal’.’

      I think Empson’s commentary might be in Alan Bold’s Cambridge Book Of English Verse. I’ll have to have a look for it.

  132. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 4, 2011 12:07 AM

    Change the final couplet and it could be a valediction by Osama:

    I bid you farewell with a heavy heart,
    The Great Satan has blown my head apart.

  133. mishari permalink*
    May 4, 2011 12:23 AM

    Very true, @Silican: the sight of people cheering and exulting at the death of another was as distasteful as it was cretinous–what exactly do these people think has been accomplished?

  134. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 4, 2011 12:27 AM


    I bid you farewell with a heavy heart,
    Tomorrow I make an early start.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 4, 2011 12:31 AM

      Goodnight, Vicar. Take care. x

  135. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 4, 2011 7:50 AM

    “As fragrant as a bouquet of white flowers, quivering in the gentle April breeze, this is a delicate and nuanced scent.”

    This is the description of the Duchess of Thingy’s perfume on the company website. The Daily Mail quotes it thus:

    ‘fragrant as a vase of white flowers quivering in the breeze by an open window, this is a delicate and nuanced scent.’

    Elsewhere on their site you can see photographs of Robe Lowe, who may or may not have taken a flight with the same number as the one that crashed into the Pentagon or the one that was shot down in a field. Pictures of a hole in the Pentagon and no airliner are offered to back up his claim.

    “Following the announcement of Bin Laden’s death, Lowe joined the crowds celebrating in New York’s Times Square.

    He climbed on top of a fire truck, marking the historic moment.”

    It’s one small step from The dog ate my homework to Freddie Starr ate my hamster.

  136. Silican permalink
    May 4, 2011 11:08 AM

    HLM, Duchess Thingy may need perfume and keep her windows open for less flowery reasons, viz ” … in 1998, investigators at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis … performed an exacting chemical and olfactory analysis of farts. Their experimental methods were straightforward: “To ensure flatus output, the diet of the subjects was usually supplemented with 200 g pinto beans on the night before and the morning of the study.” Gas capture was simplicity itself, though the details are squirm-inducing: “Flatus was collected by comparing bean-powered samples from men and women, the intrepid Minnesotans were able to settle a long-running dispute between the sexes. The data proved (as men have claimed for centuries) that the farts of women are stinkier, on a volume-for-volume basis, than those of men. ” [Note: not a disputation to which I was party] What the Nose Knows, A. Gilbert (2008)

    A class act that Rob Lowe. “Mike Myers is known to have resurrected Rob’s acting career … as the young Number Two in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999).
    2003: Helped in the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California.
    Has the dubious distinction of … having two failed TV series within a year (“The Lyon’s Den” (2003), “Dr. Vegas” (2004)), both canceled … before running their full season.
    … “won” the 1986 Worst Supporting Actor Razzie for … St. Elmo’s Fire (1985).
    Personal Quotes
    “When I was young and crazy, I was young and crazy [deep type our young Rob]
    … One of the great gifts we get (as actors) is that we live on, frozen in time, forever… Truly, the most fulfilling moments I’ve ever had are on the stage. If you can’t have that as an actor, then you might as well at least have that other great thing, which is immortality.[as No.2 Two in The Spy Who Shagged Me, I guess]”” (

  137. May 4, 2011 8:34 PM

    I am a little confused as to the exact methodology of that study, Silican. How does one measure stink? Is there a Beaufort scale for flatulence? Is there a correlation between the volume of gas and its mephitis? What other controllable variables were there?

    On a purely anecdotal level however, my experience supports the conclusion that men compensate in decibels for any inferiority in noxiousness.

    • Reine permalink
      May 4, 2011 11:36 PM

      Guinness ones are the worst. Not that I have ever emitted one.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 5, 2011 12:04 AM

      Nothing clears a room like French Bulldog flatus.
      (n.b. I’m careful not to use the diminutive ‘Frenchie’ lest there be misunderstanding, of a sensitive ethnic nature.)
      Last summer, travelling with dear IT on a 5 hr car-ride, our teen was assiduous in lowering the windows every ten minutes or so. Eventually her choking dramatics dwindled, and those sudden blasts of fresh air became part of the rhythm of the expedition.

  138. Silican permalink
    May 5, 2011 10:00 AM

    Simon, I think the why may be of slightly greater interest than the how. But if you really want to know, in ’84 skatoles and indoles were vindicated as the villians in the flatus saga and outed were the mercaptans and sulphides. Measuring them was a simple matter of running the fixed volume of effluent over a gas chromatography coil then heating it in a mass spectroscopy instument. Minnesotans, I think, are prodominantly of German origin and may therefore have a bias towards being anal (as in obsessional) in character therefore no bean would have been left unturned in this quest. How they recruited the subjects I’d rather not speculate but suspect they were volunteers.

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