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Calling All Vegetables

May 13, 2011



Call any vegetable
And the chances are good:
The vegetable will respond to you
The Mothers of Invention, “Call Any Vegetable” (1967)

I think, after four marriages, it’s fair to say that I’m a man given to uxoriousness; so, naturally, I wish young William Battenberg and his paramour well. He seems to be a thoroughly dull and uninteresting fellow, just the sort of tabula rasa that the ‘job’ demands. His bride strikes one as, if anything, even blander and less interesting than her shiny-pated hubby.

But, as I say, I wish them well and I’ll try to purge from my memory the American woman interviewed by a BBC Radio reporter outside Westminster Abbey, who said: “…I think she’s (Kate Middleton) very like Diana–I think she’ll be the new Diana…” and the excruciating 15-second silence that followed when the BBC reporter said: “…you mean, in a good way?”. Erm…yes: quite.

But prince or pauper, marriage can be a damned peculiar business–and a bit of a shock to the system when you’re unused to it.

For example, at the time of my first marriage I was operating on the assumption that all women could cook (laughable, pitiable ignorance, I know–but laughable, pitiable ignorance has been a sort of leitmotiv for me). At the age of 21, I could barely butter a slice of bread and on assumption of the marital state, didn’t contemplate my culinary talents progressing any further.

I soon discovered that my first wife was a shocking cook. In fairness to her, she did intoduce me to a lot of hitherto unknown alleged ‘foodstuffs’: Rice-A-Roni, Hamburger Helper, Shake n’ Bake…oh…and Tuna Casserole.

Rice-A-Roni (“The San Francisco Treat!” as the TV advertising jingle had it) was peculiar stuff: judging by the taste, a mix of cat-litter, bird droppings, mattress stuffing and shredded newspaper, it was at the apex of my first wife’s food pyramid. If the TV adverts were anything to go by (and I can scarcely imagine that the adverts deviated from the truth), San Franciscans lived for the stuff; they spent their days riding the city’s famed trolleys, all day, every day; their default expression was an orgasmic beam (doubtless contemplating their evening meal); after a day spent riding and beaming, they went home to load up on Rice-A-Roni. Clearly, San Francisco was a very peculiar place–I blame Timothy Leary and the 60s.

Hard on the heels of “the San Francisco treat” came Hamburger Helper. God alone knows what was in it but it had the power to turn ordinary minced beef into a mystery wrapped in a riddle clouded by an enigma, and all of the foregoing tasting very like a stock cube. If they had really wanted to help, the manufactuerers should have gone back to making cement, since that was clearly where their talents lay.

Shake N’ Bake was the final entry in my wife’s holy kitchen trinity. It came in a box, wherein was a sachet of alleged ‘seasoned breadcrumbs’ and a couple of plastic bags. One placed the breadcrumbs in a bag, added the chicken or pork chop, shook it until the item was well coated, removed it and baked it. The result was passing strange. The chicken or pork chop took on a glossy impenetrable casing, as though some venerable Chinese artisan had spent months coating it with successive layers of lacquer. I suspect that the main ingredient was sugar…or shellac.

Lastly and very definitely least, came Tuna Casserole. This was a dish so extraordinarily vile that I must elaborate. To prepare this dish, one boiled the macaroni that came in a box of Kraft’s Macaroni ‘N Cheese (another kitchen staple of the time). When the macaroni had become a demi-liquid gelatinous mass, it was drained and placed in a casserole dish: to this was added a tin of Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup and a tin of tuna fish (Star-Kist: only the best would do); all of this was topped with the ‘seasoned breadcrumbs’ from a Shake ‘N Bake box. Placed in the oven for some 30 minutes, what emerged might have delighted H.P. Lovecraft–it made me want to puke.

For a start, it presented the most revolting aspect: grey and brown, with buff-coloured slimy macaroni disintegrating amidst it. Then there was the smell; take the water you’ve washed your dirty socks in; add a cup of liquid retrieved from the sewer; now add elderly fish. Truly, it was unspeakable–and it was my wife’s ‘signature dish’.

Faced with tuna casserole, I had a choice: refuse to eat it and I’m a cad; eat it and I’m a cadaver. Being a well-bred young man, I resigned myself to an early grave and choked it down but as I did, I knew that I was going to have to learn to cook.

My second wife was a fantastic cook. She was a first-generation Italian-American. Her parents were from Santa Maria la Fossa (‘fossa’ means grave or pit), a small village some 20 miles north of Naples. They left shortly after the war to escape the abject poverty described so eloquently by Norman Lewis in Naples ’44. They’d emigrated to the US and settled in Medford, Mass. (an outer suburb of Boston and Paul Theroux’s hometown).

They’d started a very successful chain of laundries/dry cleaners and when I met them, they’d retired to Cape Cod. There, they’d built a house on a wooded 50 acre plot they’d bought. The house was a surprise. They were, and I mean this in no disparaging way, uneducated peasants; yet they’d built a home that was pure Bauhaus: a white cube with black-painted steel-framed walls of glass and high ceilings, with a central courtyard/suntrap.

It was as if they’d instinctively grasped the elegant design principles of Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius and built themselves a home that not only blended into the landscape (sand dunes and woods) beautifully, but was infinitely more tasteful and practical than the faux colonial cracker-boxes of their neighbours. There they lived, husband, wife and wife’s spinster sister. My wife was one of two children, both girls and I think her father enjoyed my visits. We drank his (execrable) home-made wine and (excellent) home-distilled grappa and smoked and played cards and went hunting for mushrooms and rabbits and pigeons in his woods (one of the reasons he bought the large plot, he told me).

Mind you, I think my wife’s mother and spinster aunt liked my visits even more: I was a young man with the appetite of a healthy horse and they were fabulous cooks. They truly enjoyed watching me eat until I was virtually comatose. But how could I not? The food was superb. Whenever we left, I would be staggering under the weight of tupperware filled with endless delights, jars filled with marinated mushrooms and peppers and bottles of home-distilled grappa. Happy days. I learned a great deal about cooking from my second wife.

My third wife was a model/actress (God help me). The kitchen was as foreign to her as Ultima Thule. She used the fridge to cool damp tea-bags (for placing over the eyes); cucumbers (ditto) and mineral water. Her vanity was almost supernatural and the discipline, dedication and single-mindedness with which she buffed and plucked and sanded and tweezed and pared and…well, it would have impressed a Foreign Legion paratrooper. Luckily, by that time, I was a fair cook myself. It was this wife who caused me to brush my teeth with Anusol (a haemorrhoid cream). She kept a tube in the bathroom, on the shelf below the mirror. She used it (seriously) beneath her eyes: apparently, the active ingredient, which shrinks veins, is as effective at eliminating bags under the eyes as it is at shrinking haemorrhoids.

My present (and last) wife is an excellent cook–almost as good as me. All modesty aside, I became a good cook over the years. I did what I always do when I want to learn something: I hit the books and practised, practised, practised. I discovered that I actually took a great deal of pleasure in cooking, in going to the market and creating a dinner menu on the fly, depending on what was in season and what looked good.

I’ve never understood people who say things like “Oh, I don’t really care about what I eat.” That’s like saying you don’t really care about who you sleep with. After all, what could be more intimate, more immediate than food. It becomes you. As Brillat-Savarin famously said, “You are what you eat.” And who the hell wants to be tuna casserole?

Verse about food, cooking and eating, please.

Here’s an old one of mine from Poster Poems (lazy bastard that I am):

Sorry, Sir: Villanelle’s Off

The end is nigh: we no longer bake;
The canaille cry out for better buns;
The buggers want bread? Let them eat cake.

I don’t know how much they can take;
You don’t think that the scum have guns?
The end is nigh: we no longer bake.

Why can’t they eat gruel, for pity’s sake?
It tastes like mud and gives them the runs?
The buggers want bread? Let them eat cake.

What about fish? A nice fresh bit of hake?
Available in shops for very small sums;
The end is nigh: we no longer bake.

They can’t tell the difference: real or fake;
Tell them it’s beef and serve up pig’s bums;
The buggers want bread? Let them eat cake.

It hardly matters: burgers or steak;
May as well hand round our wines and rums;
The end is nigh: we no longer bake;
The buggers want bread? Let them eat cake.

  1. May 13, 2011 11:10 PM

    Had I known, I’d have waited to eat dinner (50% of which is whatever our daughter refuses to eat) while reading this. Write a whole book of these, you bastard! (“bastard” is deployed to blur any appearance of ass licking, obviously). I’ll pre-order a copy if it helps.

    (PS “fossa” and “fesse” *must* be relatives)

  2. mishari permalink*
    May 13, 2011 11:32 PM

    Too kind. I’m sure ‘fesse’ and ‘fossa’ are related: both Latin-derived so almost a dead cert. Here in England, there’s an ancient roadway, The Fosse Way, ‘fosse’ being derived from the same source. In Norwegian, ‘foss’ means ‘waterfall’, apparently. Hic will confirm…

    • Reine permalink
      May 13, 2011 11:54 PM

      Mishari, thank you for a particularly entertaining piece which I read aloud to my long suffering second husband.

      Here’s a very early posting of mine on the Guardian food blog…

      Too Many Cooks…

      There was a young critic called Rayner
      Who’d a penchant for Gloria Gaynor
      He sang “I will survive”
      While chopping some chive
      Yes, he was a real entertainer

      He cooked some kebabs for a lunch
      And invited the food monthly bunch
      Nigel brought cake,
      Mr. Fort brought some steak
      And Yotam a sesame crunch

      The kebabs were a roaring success
      And made a considerable mess
      Which Matthew bemoaned
      Before he got stoned
      And passed out shouting “oblige noblesse”

      “It’s the other way round” countered Jay
      As he tidied the dishes away
      But Matthew was sleeping
      And A.J. was weeping
      At the tragic discarding of whey

      Jamie drew on his napkin a doodle
      Of donor kebab flavoured noodle
      “That just makes me nervous”
      Said young Andy Purvis
      “Please pass me a slice of that streudel”

      Months later the boys were astounded
      As they stared at Jay’s blog post dumbounded
      A new type of Pot Noodle
      Born of Jamie’s doodle
      That Essex boy had them confounded

  3. mishari permalink*
    May 14, 2011 12:09 AM

    I’m happy you were entertained, kiddo: that was my aim. Cracking comic verse from you.

  4. Reine permalink
    May 14, 2011 12:10 AM


    He read me Milton
    And fed me Stilton
    I drank his wine
    And licked his spine

    These activities,
    Strange proclivities,
    Were not contemporaneous

    He came from Putney
    Fetishised chutney
    Mango was best
    Sucked from the breast

    I haven’t had a curry since
    These days, I stick to spuds and mince
    I shiver when I think of him
    And that carrot stuck in my quim

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 14, 2011 12:36 PM

      Autumn King or Thumbelina?

    • Reine permalink
      May 14, 2011 5:14 PM

      You must infer MM, it got “stuck” not lost.

      The”poem” is not autobiographical, she stressed…. (although knowing they already thought her a nympho, it was a bit late to try to rescue her reputation)

  5. mishari permalink*
    May 14, 2011 12:12 AM

    That one made me laugh out loud, you creature, you…

    • Reine permalink
      May 14, 2011 12:16 AM

      Love that lol sound, thanks. My work here is done. To bed, sans carrots.

  6. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 14, 2011 12:41 PM

    Hullo Hic, good to read you again.

    A recycler I put on Zeph’s blog, if memory serves:

    Der Stollenkriege

    Is it a cake or is it bread?
    over that difficult question
    a million Zendans are dead.

    It depends on the action of yeast, said
    General Baron Von Semmeln und Pumpernickel,
    and, therefore, it is bread.

    That is a common mistake,
    said Marshal Count Von Schwartzwaldertorte von Kugelhupt,
    it is fruited, and thus it is cake!

    The first rising was unplanned,
    the doughboys were vigorously knocked back,
    fist over fist and hand over hand.

    The second showed that peace was needed,
    as if that required to be proved,
    and at last the message was heeded.

    The Treaty of Backerei-Vollentrot
    found a compromise solution
    in the shape of Kuchenbrot.

    So once again life was perfect.
    But somewhere in the shadows
    lurked the Brotkuchen sect…

    • Reine permalink
      May 14, 2011 5:25 PM

      Very clever, I’d love a slice of Stollen with a cup of tea now. In fact, I think there is some left in the cake tin since Christmas but I am afraid what might greet me if I open it.

  7. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 14, 2011 1:00 PM

    Terrific article, HRH. How long must we wait for the autobiog (and the Lebanese TV star)?

    Our dear Kaiserin’s visit to Dublin had passed me by until Reine’s post yesterday. Quite a moment, I suppose. I was aware of Edward VII’s trip (I think it’s in Dubliners), but I didn’t know George V was there in 1911 until I read the article in the G today. He got a very good reception, strangely enough. I see Mr Gilmore the Foreign Minister is saying he won’t bow. Well, really, that is too bad. I’m sure Reine has been practising her curtseying for weeks.

    My money is on City this afternoon. So a win for Stoke it is.

    • Reine permalink
      May 14, 2011 5:16 PM

      I will not bow for no queen’s pleasure, I.

  8. hic8ubique permalink
    May 14, 2011 2:23 PM

    Good to be with you, MM. I don’t remember that one; it’s classic Mowbray, so well worth its pleasing reprise.
    Love the image of Reine practising her curtseys, feathers ruffling gently.

    I can’t remember now, was it Queen Mary who had vents in her gowns so she could scratch herself? (This according to Grandmother) … and Elizabeth I who had pockets in her gowns for her stash of sweets, and consequently no teeth?
    Could be entirely made up (by her) or mixed up (by me).

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 14, 2011 4:10 PM

      I know they used to wear a cloth belt with pockets attached beneath the overskirt, which had slits in it to reach them. It’s likely that the underskirt had slits in order to er, make adjustments.

      I don’t know why I watch the Cup Final. It’s always terrible.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 14, 2011 4:53 PM

      Must be, otherwise how would they have got around their farthingales?

      Thanks for the author recommendations, by the way, Mishari. They were gratefully received.

  9. hic8ubique permalink
    May 14, 2011 2:30 PM

    It’s a bad habit leaving snatches of verse unfinished. I’ll try to resurrect my lapsed effort at a chocolate one for the recent drug thread.
    It’s a sort of an augmented vegetable… chocolate is a special category of both drug and food, I’d say.

    Norway does look as though it might have a navicular fossa, but I’d be guessing, Mishari.
    So, ‘third time lucky’ is really fourth time lucky? No wonder you lose count. Such persistence reveals an aspirant’s dedication to Romance, which stands you in good stead, as life with the French is not for the faint of heart.

  10. mishari permalink*
    May 14, 2011 5:14 PM

    My pleasure. I think MM will confirm that Ferrigno and Winslow are a good read (if you like crime novels). I don’t know if MM’s read Crais but he’s good too and has created a very engaging anti-hero in LA detective Elvis Cole.

    Tell your spouse to get a hold of Don Winslow’s The Power of The Dog, The Winter of Frankie Machine and The Death and Life of Bobby Z. They’re all very good but The Power of The Dog is an absolute knock-out.

    All of Ferrigno’s works are excellent.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 14, 2011 5:38 PM

      I’ll copy and paste your every word. My Dad was greatly pleased with your suggestions some time ago, and I’m sure these will go down equally well.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 15, 2011 12:04 AM

      Top marks for all those mentioned. I’ve enjoyed Michael Connelly’s Bosch and non-Bosch novels, though there has been a falling-off of quality in recent years.

  11. hic8ubique permalink
    May 14, 2011 5:43 PM

    Reg & Eileen; Dover Sole

    Last night we dined out, just we two
    at a seafood place with a harbour view.
    On a Friday they were busy.
    To start, we ordered something fizzy.

    (Friends had asked, but we’d said ‘no’;
    with the teens away we’d rather go
    on a quiet little date,
    something tasty, not too late…)

    As we shared oysters (lemoned, pan-seared),
    yoo-hooed in sight a dame we feared:
    ‘Talking Eileen’ bustled up
    her husband hindmost like a pup.

    “We won’t stay, we have to go, but
    we’ve been watching you, you know:
    how David leans in listening close
    and intimate. Behind the post

    we couldn’t tell the blonde was you
    but hoped so *wink* to tell you true.”
    They stood so long they had us beat:
    “Join us, won’t you take a seat?”

    The wife sat, talking, her man stood there:
    “No, we must find Reg a chair.”
    She only paused to draw fresh breath;
    her squawking shattered us near to death…

    Such times as this, I’m stuck with wives
    whose shrilling flays like earward knives
    whilst husbands have a nod and wink,
    speak little, each enjoy their drink.

    Bold Eileen, her sandblasting cheek
    continued: “Reg saw you this week
    and here again! This must be cahma.”
    [‘karma’ I’d guess; it wasn’t ‘calmer’]

    I had my salad (fennel, beets…)
    while E regaled, Reg watched us eat.
    Then D said: “I lean in you know
    because K’s voice is soft and low,

    then I lean back, since soft I’m not.”
    Reg said: “Man, I’ll tell you what…
    with my wife here I’ve got the knack
    of leaning, and I just lean back.”

    He said it close in David’s ear
    who told me after we were clear
    of all the din and in the car.
    God, what fools we mortals are.

    *some of the names have been changed slightly

    • Reine permalink
      May 14, 2011 6:16 PM

      Excellent. Bloody Eileens, full of welcome for themselves the world over.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 14, 2011 6:41 PM

      Thanks, Re. I love your expression ‘full of welcome for herself’.
      She’s not really an Eileen, but something similar beginning with N.
      She reminded us several times that she’s Irish, as if to account for her compulsive ‘pin-you skin-you’ story-telling.
      Race may indeed account for her story-telling, but not the urgent manner of her delivery.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 15, 2011 12:46 AM

      Very good that.

  12. Reine permalink
    May 14, 2011 6:47 PM

    I know her type. A Noeleen will never stop with the ra ra ra. Full of wonder at herself, doubtless thinks you and D are a touch alternative but nonetheless adorable for all that. I’m guessing false tan, big jewellery; sandals and trousers just a smidge too tight. Nail varnished fingers around the Chardonnay glass. She’d probably give you a kidney if you needed one but you don’t want to bump into her on a quiet night out.

    • Reine permalink
      May 14, 2011 6:48 PM

      Or I may be completely wrong… or just a bitch!

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 14, 2011 11:29 PM

      The Star-of-Bethlehem flower looks a bit asparagish, but greens aren’t your Papa’s greatest enthusiasm it seems.
      He keeps actual pickled onions in his cache?

      ‘Eileen’ is not at all as you imagined, Re. She’s what I’d call ‘weathered- looking’ in an unadorned Yankee way; wouldn’t spend valuable phone-chat time tittivating,
      though you may be right about the kidney.
      Clearly, I’m the bitch in this equation.

    • Reine permalink
      May 14, 2011 11:37 PM

      He likes peas, Hic. That’s about the size of it.

      Cheese and onion crisps or “chips” you may know them as.

      Ah, I had a different Eileen in mind then. “full of welcome for himself/herself” is a fairly common expression here to describe a person whose mind it would never cross that he or she was inconveniencing anyone or someone who is too thrilled for words with himself/herself.

      I always said you were an oul bitch. Not.

  13. May 14, 2011 6:48 PM

    I’m sure the film itself is largely a load of wet pants (he said, cautiously), but the first 1:45 of this trailer brings a nice sharpness to stuff I thought I already knew and is worth a look, even if the film isn’t (he said, cautiously).

  14. Reine permalink
    May 14, 2011 7:37 PM

    Repertoire, Really?

    (Dedicated to one who thinks asparagus is a flower)

    Recalling the famine
    He is portly, not gamine
    He loves a potato
    Less fond of tomato

    He likes butter and salt
    And would grind to a halt
    In front of paella
    This traditional fella

    Toast burnt, not anaemic
    He is far from bulimic
    Thinks with marmalade
    He has half five-a-dayed

    In his footstool, a cache
    Of his top-secret stash
    Mature cheddar and onion
    Ease the pain of his bunion

    His favourite tipple’s
    Far from slippery nipples
    TT thirst is put paid
    With cloudy lemonade

    When he’s in a hurry
    He boils in a bag curry
    The demise of Vesta beef
    Was a cause of great grief

    Also, bangers and mash
    Or rather “and Smash”
    Spuds which rehydrated
    Made him feel elated

    If ever in clink
    It is hard to think
    Of a simpler last meal
    For one keeping it real

    Floury spuds, easy peasy
    Two fried eggs, over easy
    Black pudding and bacon
    Would be his last take on…

    “the dinner”

  15. mishari permalink*
    May 14, 2011 9:46 PM

    The Pilgrim Diet

    He took to the path of the pilgrim; he said:
    “I’ll seek out the truth in the untrodden ways.
    beauty will find me at dawn in my bed
    and Mercy will feed me for all of my days.”

    The days and the miles, they all passed in a blur
    but beauty and truth didn’t travel, it seemed;
    and Mercy? There’s no man can count upon her;
    under night’s cold star glitter, he shifted and dreamed.

    Lightward he’ll grope, though he’ll not make old bones:
    he’s lunching on hope but he’s dining on stones.

    • Reine permalink
      May 14, 2011 11:17 PM

      I love that.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 14, 2011 11:35 PM

      Yes, it has that signature Mishari pang.
      Whence inspired, I wonder.

      Someone I know… hmm?… had dachshunds named Goodness (Goody) and Mercy…

      “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…”

  16. mishari permalink*
    May 14, 2011 11:54 PM

    Tenks, gels…compliments from the talented are hard currency round my way.

    Inspired by the pilgrimage to Santiago that I made when Inez was pregnant with the boys. I don’t really believe but I figured it couldn’t do any harm and if… if there’s a God who sees the sparrow fall, then he’d note my penance and the babies would be sound and whole. I guess no matter how I try, I can’t quite shake the superstitious side of my nature entirely.

    It was a marvellous experience, though, especially doing it the Al-Adwani Way: never sleep in hostels; who needs to sleep in a dorm full of snoring, farting grumbling people when you can sleep under the stars?

    Never hit the camino at 7 AM like everyone else–for Christ’s sake, it’s not a race. I’d hang around, have a few coffees and take my time; consequently, I’d have The Way to myself; always stop and talk to anyone who wants to engage you in conversation–I had some fantastic experiences of the kindness of (Spanish) strangers thereby. Everybody else was in a desperate hurry to get on: not me, bucko.

    One day, when the children are a bit older, I’m going to take the whole family on the camino, if only for the pleasure of walking a Roman road that’s as sound as the day it was built 2000 years ago (in the hills of La Rioja).

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 15, 2011 12:07 AM

      Don’t try walking the Fosse Way (which passes, almost literally, through my birthplace).

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 15, 2011 1:02 AM

      Twins! I’m purring now, to be ‘talented’ and have my enquiry answered both: twin graces.
      You are the best sort of atheist, M. What a beautiful story.
      To my mind, divine Love is far far beyond all mythological god dogma. You know it. There, under the stars, embraced by the sublime infinite, utterly exquisite surrender, not subject to the trammels of belief system controllers. For me, that’s cooking with gas.
      I hope you’ll be loping with a spring in your step soon, so you can all ‘walk that Way’ together.

  17. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 14, 2011 11:56 PM

    Thoughts Of A Queen

    One wonders what one will eat in Ireland.
    Phillip says they only have potatoes:
    I must say that would be awfully bland,
    though they have condiments, one must suppose.

    I do like the potato, anyway;
    as a staple I prefer it to bread,
    and, as several commentators say,
    it rather resembles the Windsor head.

    I think Phillip is only twitting me,
    with his lovely sense of humour and wit:
    his quip on the Japanese tsunami
    virtually made one have a fit.

    I am sure the Irish will do their best,
    though one hears they are quite hard up these days;
    well, as Papa haltingly professed,
    republicanism very seldom pays.

    Whatever the victuals one must make do,
    it’s always our way, through famine or drought,
    perhaps the corgis could eat their ‘Irish stew’,
    for ourselves we’ll take a ton of sauerkraut.

    • Reine permalink
      May 15, 2011 12:03 AM

      I’m reconsidering the bow… partly because of the poem and mostly because the UK gave Jedward douze points. I know, I know …

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 15, 2011 1:15 AM

      Gently scathing, and well-Received.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 15, 2011 11:55 AM

      Some cock-ups here, Ed. Can you change ‘eat’ in line 2 to ‘have’, and the final couplet to:

      Whatever the victuals one must make do,
      it’s always our way, through famine or drought,
      perhaps the corgis could eat their ‘Irish stew’,
      for ourselves we’ll take a ton of sauerkraut.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 16, 2011 3:18 AM

      Even better.

  18. mishari permalink*
    May 14, 2011 11:59 PM

    Her Maj, at the risk of causing a rift,
    could eat babies, as we were advised by Swift.

  19. Reine permalink
    May 15, 2011 12:27 AM

    Apropos of nothing to do with food, I am organising a weekend away in the summer for the girlfriends. Four of us travel usually but one has had a baby recently so we were awaiting word from her before making plans. When she let me know she wouldn’t be coming, I texted the other two to say “the square is now a triangle, looking forward to the threeway, fnarr, x”. One was driving and got her son to read it out… He was very curious to know how a square could become a triangle and what was a threeway. She replied that it’s when three ladies go on holidays together and eat Toblerone instead of Dairy Milk. Then he said I was bad at spelling because fnarr was not a word. I found it very amusing but I may be tipsy.

  20. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 15, 2011 12:44 AM

    Poor kid. When Molly and er Polly ask him to join them for a threeway in a few years what’s he going to say? ‘Sorry, I don’t like honey-laced chocolate shaped in the most mouth-hostile form known to man’ ?

    I’m not speaking from experience, of course.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 15, 2011 1:08 AM

      Surely Ricola cubed lozenges are the most mouth-hostile forms?
      Toblerone is a good thing in every way. You needn’t scoff the entire segment at once, you know.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 15, 2011 12:07 PM

      Nothing wrong with Ricola: they aren’t as sharp-edged as some cough sweets I could mention. Triangular, as I’m sure I’ve said before somewhere, is completely the wrong shape for the mouth, especially those jumbo-sized Toblerones. Of course you can break them up, but why should you have to? The Swiss are fanatical xenophobes, and Toblerone is the confectionery expression of that loathing. I’m sure they don’t eat the stuff themselves: their obsession with dentistry is well-documented, and the sole purpose of that sticky honey stuff is to pull out your fillings. I am the living proof.

    • Reine permalink
      May 15, 2011 2:00 PM

      Fosse Way Three-way

      Molly, Polly and XL Martin
      Met in Stow-on-‘ Wold
      The night was dark and dreary
      And the girls were feeling cold

      “I know” said XL Martin
      “I’ll book us each a room””
      But the Royalist receptionist
      Turned him away in gloom

      “They’ve only got one room left
      Doesn’t even have a phone”
      “Chin up XL” said Polly
      “I’ve brought a Toblerone”

      “I don’t see how that helps”
      XL said, in a strop,
      The prospect of the journey back
      Made his every fibre flop

      Molly sat there smiling
      XL preferred her of the two
      “We could all share XL
      If that’s alright with you”

      Alright? He’d hit the jackpot
      But he tried to hide his glee
      “Yes, Molly” (fibres stirred again)
      “That’d be ok with me”

      The attic room was musty
      But the bed was of good girth
      XL’s monikered Y-fronts
      Caused the girls great mirth

      “Why’s your name on your pants XL?
      You’d better take them off”
      They delivered what they promised
      Which quickly softened Polly’s cough

      The night passed in a dreamy haze
      In the morning they lay spent
      The girls complained their jaws were sore
      And XL’s palate had a dent

      “That’s from that bloody Toblerone”
      He said, tonguing the awkward groove
      “We didn’t eat it” (Molly coyly smiled)
      “We’d a different point to prove”

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 15, 2011 11:30 PM

      Top notch! You win the Triple Crown.

    • Reine permalink
      May 15, 2011 11:43 PM

      Thanks XL. I won’t be going for the Six Nations.

    • Reine permalink
      May 15, 2011 11:50 PM

      Hic, in case you are compiling Irish phraseology to slip into conversation with Eileen when next she bombards you, “that softened his cough” or any variation thereon refers to some fact or occurence which puts an end to speculation or boasting or falsehood on the part of the person with the “cough”. Means, literally, it will quieten them.

      Maybe it is widely used, but I haven’t heard it outside Ireland.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 16, 2011 3:24 AM

      I do hope nobody forced the Toblerone on you, MM.
      Just wondering… how do you manage those enormous Cadbury Creme Eggs?

      ‘Softened his cough’ is mellifluous. I’ll try to remember it.
      I believe you are ‘Most Improved’ in class, Reine. I’d say you’ve toned them up somehow, maybe tighter rhythm? Anyway, well done, you!

    • Reine permalink
      May 16, 2011 8:53 AM

      Thanks Hic. Sometimes the only way is up.

  21. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 15, 2011 12:52 AM

    Well, time for me to tuck into a helping of sleep. Garcon!

  22. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 15, 2011 11:56 AM

    Bloody Kebabbed

    This restaurant is rather loud,
    but it’s certainly not a dive:
    haunted by the politics crowd,
    all the dishes are served alive.

    Here’s a second-rate piece of meat,
    insipid and as grey as lead,
    well-cooked though still inclined to bleat,
    yes, it’s barbecued Nick Clegg.

    Though he looks a little forlorn,
    and tastes like a monkey’s armpit,
    with a glass of Chateau Osborne
    Cameron eats him bit by bit.

    • Reine permalink
      May 15, 2011 2:16 PM

      good gag, in every way.

  23. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 15, 2011 12:09 PM

    Bugger! Colon after ‘dive’ in the first stanza, please, Ed. Thanks.

  24. May 15, 2011 3:07 PM

    Some will use a cucumber,
    a carrot or other root.
    Vegetables have many uses,
    so spread to fuck the fruit.

  25. Reine permalink
    May 15, 2011 10:42 PM

    For anyone afraid to click Simon’s link lest they end up on a porn site, it’s an interesting article on mis-translations.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 16, 2011 3:26 AM

      Yes, I went from repulsed to convulsed.

  26. mishari permalink*
    May 15, 2011 11:31 PM

    The Kochs share the Tea Party view that Obama is a threat to the American way of life. Last week David Koch made a rare comment to a reporter from New York magazine, calling Obama “a hardcore socialist”. “He’s marvellous at pretending to be something other than that, but that is what I believe he truly is, a hardcore socialist. He’s scary to me,” he added. —The Grauniad, today

    Christ on a bike…how far-out on the fringes of the knucklehead Right do you have to be to believe that Obama–who gave $1 trillion of taxpayer’s money to his Wall St. chums and appointed an economic team composed almost solely of Goldman Sachs scumbuckets–is a ‘socialist’?

    How in God’s name did such a dimwit have the brains it takes to create an international conglomerate? Oh, yeah…that’s right: he inherited it. That figures.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 15, 2011 11:50 PM

      I have the impression that Dave Cameron would be regarded as dangerously left-wing in the USA.

  27. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 15, 2011 11:34 PM

    Fuck foods! There must be some inspiration there…

  28. Reine permalink
    May 15, 2011 11:41 PM

    Jesus, HI – a Twitter news junkie – has spent the past hour regaling me with all the Twitterage on Strauss-Kahn. I hope it’s a speedy trial.

  29. mishari permalink*
    May 15, 2011 11:50 PM

    That Strauss-Kahn story, if true, is absolutely bizarre: what the hell was he thinking?

    • May 16, 2011 6:00 PM

      I think he was probably thinking he shouldn’t have tried to reform the IMF, M! The man couldn’t have been so psycho/retarded to try his hand at raping a hotel maid while so far ahead of Sarkozy in the polls (and after making so many world-class enemies as the IMF’s Socialist). Was the maid Swedish, by any chance…?

  30. Reine permalink
    May 15, 2011 11:54 PM

    It is absolutely bizarre, if true. It would have to be a fairly elaborate smear to make it stick which makes me chary of the conspiracy theory angle.

    • May 16, 2011 6:02 PM

      “It would have to be a fairly elaborate smear to make it stick…”

      Oh, not at all, Reine. All it takes is the accusation of rape from a teary working-class virgin and he’s out of the race. It’s her word against his and she has very little to lose. It’s a classic technique and it usually works.

    • May 16, 2011 6:09 PM

      Eg: note that he’s accused of facing oral sex on her. How on Earth could you prove he hadn’t? How on earth could he prove that she hadn’t “seduced” him (as per her instructions) up until the moment she suddenly began screaming “rape”? Considering the context, and how dirty this generation of Pols is (and remember that Sarkozy and Mr. O are buddies), I think it’s highly unlikely that Strauss-Kahn suddenly decided to become the worlds most farcical rapist, despite his plan on winning that little election. I suppose Gary Hart will be phoning him soon…

    • May 16, 2011 6:10 PM

      em… “forcing” (Christ, a Freudian typo, eh?)

    • May 16, 2011 6:20 PM


      “But of equal if not greater significance, a Socialist now has been removed not only from French politics but from the larger playing field of global finance and banking, and this might prove to be the most overlooked aspect of this entire saga.

      To British and America neoliberal market analysts and mavens, questions must arise about the timing of this “soft assassination”. Strauss-Kahn was on his way to Europe for a meeting on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the European debt crisis and then was to attend a euro zone finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday. But a Greek official told Reuters the arrest could cause some short-term delays in discussions over a European Union/IMF bailout for Athens, in which Strauss-Kahn was closely involved, by forcing the cancellation of key meetings. “The most likely outcome is that this case will stick,” said French economist and socialist Jacques Attaliand, “even if he pleads not guilty, which he may be, he won’t be able to be candidate for the Socialist primary for the presidency and he won’t be able to stay at the IMF.”

  31. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 12:50 PM

    Mark Britnell is a former high-flyer in the Department of Health (and now global head of health at KPMG) and recent appointee to David Cameron’s “kitchen cabinet” of health experts to advise on health service reform.

    Just six months ago, Britnell told a conference of private healthcare executives: “In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer.”

    In case there was any ambiguity in that, Britnell explained to conference delegates (in a session called ‘Reform Revolution’):

    “The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.”

    This was at an Apax Global Healthcare Services Conference held in New York in October 2010.

    And who, you might well ask, is Apax?

    Apax partners LLP is a global private equity and venture capital firm based in London. Apex invests exclusively in certain business sectors including telecommunications, information technology, retail and consumer products, media, healthcare and financial and business services.

    One of the objectives of the conference was concerned with turning ‘challenge’ (sic) into ‘opportunity’ (even sicker).

    When it came to discussing the UK, the dilemma related to demographic change and increasing expectations for healthcare. The existing regime was financially unsustainable (it was claimed).

    Brittnell said:

    “GPs will have to aggregate purchasing power, and there will be a big opportunity for those companies that can facilitate this process.”

    The other change that Britnell sees in the UK is even more fundamental:

    “In future, The NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer. In future any willing provider from the private sector will be able to sell goods and services to the system.”

    Britnell added: “The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.The monolithic arm of state control will be relaxed which will provide a huge opportunity for efficient private sector suppliers.”

    Why the fuck hasn’t the BBC picked up this story?

    Cameron Advisor Says NHS Will Be Shown No Mercy. Huge Opportunity For Private Sector, Says Britnell.

    How is this not a major story?

    Christ, our media are a worthless fucking shower of twerps and toadies.

  32. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 6:21 PM

    Yeah, very true, Steven: all that’s needed is the smear. What happens subsequently and the man’s guilt or innocence are irrelevant. Heads, he’s fucked; tails, he’s fucked.

    Some female scribbler has already crawled out of the woodwork in France to allege that S-K made improper advances to her 9 years ago. Oh…right. And she’s only just decided to come forward? 9 long years have passed but, apparently, the trauma is as fresh as yesterday’s large cheque.

    I suspect we’ll find that she’s got some sort of link with Sarkozy or his party or the deeply sinister (and profoundly moronic) Koch (pronounced ‘Cock’, whatever they might say) brothers. Christ, what a world…

    • May 16, 2011 6:26 PM

      What a world indeed, M.

    • Reine permalink
      May 16, 2011 6:41 PM

      I know he’s damned whether or which but I suppose I was referring to making a provable case.

  33. hic8ubique permalink
    May 16, 2011 6:58 PM

    And yet, it’s quite possible that he deemed himself ‘too big to fail’, and so thought he could (continue to) abuse women with impunity.

    • Reine permalink
      May 16, 2011 7:06 PM

      I think the parenthetical reference is key.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 16, 2011 7:29 PM

      Mm hmm… female scribbler though I be… I read the extensive testimony of the massage therapist who was assaulted in a hotel room by Al Gore. It rang true to me. Most of the players who attain that level of influence are creeps of some sort, it’s part and parcel of the culture of power.

      French society is known to be indulgent towards sexual perpetrators, so long as their bad behaviour is kept discreet. It’s their whistle-blowers who are scorned. (There’s just such a story within my in-laws’ family.)
      S-K may simply have been brought low by his own hubris preying on a victim brave enough to speak up.

  34. May 16, 2011 7:58 PM

    So much for the presumption of innocence! But that’s precisely why Rape Smears (whether or not this is one) are so cost-effective (and popular).

    Eg: I’m no fan of ivy league lacrosse players, but I remember how “true” it rang that a bunch of upper-class jocks would rape a non-white stripper… obvious, right?… until it turned out to be not true at all. I was as “disappointed” as anyone that the fuckers were innocent. But, there you have it. My gut instinct turned out to be worthless. What was my gut instinct informed by, chiefly? Prejudice.

    In my opinion, the context of this particular case is too powerful not to inform my perception of it; the context has to be one of the info-streams I use to triangulate my approximation of the “truth”, in the end (weeks or months from now). I believe that women are raped and abused every moment of every day on this planet. I also believe that major lies are told with the same frequency by every gender for every possible purpose.

    I also think that nothing I’ve read about Strauss-Kahn, until now, would indicate that he’s insane. An “adulterer”, yes. But that’s very different and not even (as yet) illegal.

  35. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 8:09 PM

    I dunno. It all sounds a bit too convenient to me. I listened to a bunch of interviews with French colleagues of his and with various French journalists who’ve been covering him for years, and they flatly refused to believe this.

    Look, a wealthy, powerful man staying in a $3000 a night NYC hotel room really has no need of assaulting chambermaids: all he has to do is pick up the phone and he can have hot-and-cold running women piped into his room 24-hours a day (at a price, of course).

    As a man who must be acutely aware of the dangers of scandal (he does, after all, have political ambitions) why would he risk it? A moment of madness? Frankly, that doesn’t sound very French to me. In my experience, the French take their pleasures, especially sexual pleasures, very seriously and very rationally.

    And the coverage has been appalling. On the Today program this morning, one of the BBC ‘journalists’ (a woman) was witless enough to say “We’ll, he does have a reputation as a womaniser…”. Right; and of course, ‘womaniser’ is a synonym for ‘rapist’. What a crock of shit.

  36. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 8:27 PM

    I see that S-K has been refused bail because he might ‘flee’ to France. Evidently, the simple expedient of taking his passport and requiring him to wear an electronic tag didn’t occur to anyone. This appears to be an concerted attempt to humiliate and discredit a man whom the US views with deep suspicion: after all, he’s a ‘Socialist’, which in the US is akin to being a child-molester.

    In what I’m sure is a completely unrelated matter, ‘…The euro fell to a seven-week low against the dollar on Monday…’.

    I utterly revile men who rape and assault women: there are no excuses. But something about this (like the Assange case) stinks to high heaven.

  37. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 8:41 PM

    Sad news from the world of farce: Donald Trump and His Unfeasible Hair have decided not to run for President. Pity. I can always use a good laugh. Perhaps his hair could run as an Independent?

    • May 16, 2011 10:08 PM

      “Pity. I can always use a good laugh.”

      Oh, worry not, M. The next sick joke is on its way as we type.

  38. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 10:55 PM

    True. Apparently, ‘Shotgun Barbie’ Palin is still contemplating a run, because, you know…she can see Osama Bin Obama from her front porch…or something.

    Let’s see if winking like a demented used-car salesman and saying “You betcha” every 10 seconds can smooth a path into The White House…

  39. rarareen permalink
    May 16, 2011 11:06 PM

    My father has picked the single most unsuitable day of the year to take a jaunt to the capital to attend a book launch, which the organisers did not have the wit to cancel. Daddy is not to be put off his stride due to the minor inconvenience caused by a visiting monarch for whom the entire city is in virtual shutdown. No, he plans to take the train on Wednesday and arrive at Kildare St. to meet his darling daughter at about the same time as Queen E is calling at Govt Buildings on the other side of the block. At least I think that is the plan but mother shouting “Jesus, Mary and Joseph Sean, it’ll serve you right if you get shot” in the background rather obscured the finer details. This she followed with the loving message that his rasher sandwich was going cold before he handed her over to me and I assured her I would do my best to prevent him waving at all the security people from England (1,200 over here “allegedly” – word of the day) like he knew their fathers’ fathers.

    Meanwhile, a school principal friend of mine down home has been trying, unsuccessfully, to hire buses for school tours this week but they are all in operation ferrying gardaí to Dublin. “Kerching, kerching” said all the happy little gardaí.

  40. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 11:13 PM

    If I were you, I’d kidnap Her Maj and hold her for ransom until her family or the British govt pay off all Ireland’s debts. Frankly, I’m baffled by all this: surely the expense of Brenda’s visit is the last thing Ireland needs at this point?

  41. Reine permalink
    May 16, 2011 11:19 PM

    All about reconciliation apparently and bringing in the Brit tourist market… it’ll take a lot of full Irish breakfasts to recoup the cost. I bear her no ill will, she is welcome but, really, it is all a bit farcical.

  42. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 11:19 PM

    Good piece by George Moonbat on CamaClegg’s NHS ‘reforms’ sic. Moonbat might have lost the plot vis a vis nuclear power, but he’s spot on here.

  43. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 16, 2011 11:20 PM

    They seem to be going to town on the security in Dublin. I hope civil servants will not be inconvenienced on their journeys to work.

    The places Brenda is visiting suggest an attempt at reconciliation, which can only be a good thing. Let’s hope Phil keeps his big mouth shut. I think Willie would have been a better choice, with or without his Princess. At least he looks like a human being.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 16, 2011 11:22 PM

      Sorry, dawdling over my post I didn’t see the above.

    • Reine permalink
      May 16, 2011 11:38 PM

      We are to arrive on foot; have at least eight different forms of ID on us to get access to the street we work on; be ready to be frisked at random (what’s new?); and practise the stop, drop and roll drill if we hear a siren. Also, strictly no sandwiches in tinfoil. All in a day’s work.

      A male colleague, a devotee of Queenie-i-o is devastated that he may not even lay eyes on her.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 16, 2011 11:52 PM

      I thought you would have the day off. That’s a bit much. I’ve only seen the Queen once, in about 1962. She drove past the assembled ranks of my primary school at about 40 mph. She was waving at the people on the other side of the road, so I only glimpsed her ear, which was very regal.

    • Reine permalink
      May 16, 2011 11:56 PM

      Joking about the stop, drop and roll and the sandwiches but we have strict instructions on i.d., access and egress and the possibility of random searches. I am sure it is a lovely ear, and very clean.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 17, 2011 12:36 AM

      I hope it all goes well.

      Good picture, btw. Looks like the cover of a novel. Door To Destiny?

      Anyway, I’m making a royal progress to Bedland.

    • Reine permalink
      May 17, 2011 12:38 AM

      Thanks MM. Ha! More likely… There be Rashers, Vol I.

  44. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 11:22 PM

    As you say: farcical. I mean, couldn’t she just make a video? “May Husbin ind ay grit the Ayrish pipple and we forgive you for blowing Uncle Louis to Kindom Come, you paddy barstids….cut…cut…look, Brenda, love…let’s try that again, shall we?.

    It would save the bloody expense of sending thousands of bumbling British flatfeet over there.

  45. Reine permalink
    May 16, 2011 11:32 PM

    I don’t know how I managed the schizophrenia northwards, was trying to log in to Gravatar and forgot my password so had to try a few.

  46. mishari permalink*
    May 16, 2011 11:45 PM

    Your Da couldn’t have picked a worse day for a jaunt to the metropolis. For Christ’s sake, tell the old boy not to point at anything. People who point make snipers (stationed, I assure you, on every bleeding rooftop) exceedingly nervous. People who point are up to no good–fact. He’ll get himself shot if he’s not careful.

    • Reine permalink
      May 16, 2011 11:50 PM

      He is coming to the launch of some sociology tome in the Royal Irish Academy. I do hope he won’t have become one himself before the day is out.

  47. mishari permalink*
    May 17, 2011 12:08 AM

    Interesting article by Mike Whitney over at @counterpunch re: the S-K business.

    Mind you, only in America would a man who stays in a $3500-a-night hotel suite be described as a ‘socialist’.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 17, 2011 12:37 AM

      Clearly, I did rush to judgment under prejudice, Gents.
      Mea Culpa.
      If mitigation of my foolishness is possible, and by way of explanation…
      I was obliged to return the most beautiful red roses I’ve ever received, sent me by an amourous Frenchman, when he was indulging in a personally and professionally unacceptable ‘moment of madness’.

      Has everyone seen Gary Trudeau’s Trump hair?

  48. mishari permalink*
    May 17, 2011 12:13 AM

    And just for Reine, another @counterpunch piece, this one on the Royal Visit.

    On Monday children were having their bags searched as they crossed police barricades to reach their school on Parnell Square, even though the Queen won’t visit there until Tuesday. (The school will be closed entirely on Tuesday.) Teachers were warned by police to prevent the children from looking out the school windows, lest they be mistaken for potential snipers. As one mother said to me: “We’re here near the spot the 1916 proclamation [of the Irish Republic] was signed, and we’re shutting down the city and terrifying our children so the fucking queen can visit?”

    Read it and weep.

    But…we’re getting reamed as well:

    Parts of central London, including roads around Buckingham Palace, were sealed off yesterday after a bomb threat by dissident republicans on the eve of the Queen’s visit to Ireland.

    The warning, received by police in Northern Ireland and Scotland Yard on Sunday evening, contained a recognised code but did not point towards any specific locations where an attack may take place. Streets in the capital were temporarily shut down during the alert. The Mall was closed after the discovery of a disturbed manhole cover and Carlton House Terrace was cordoned off after a break-in at a building where a Government think-tank is situated.

    An abandoned bag was also blown up in a controlled explosion on Northumberland Avenue. —The Indy, today

  49. Reine permalink
    May 17, 2011 12:35 AM

    Harry’s an interesting commentator, with a less than ordinary background. He and his family were the subject of a documentary on RTE last year:

  50. mishari permalink*
    May 17, 2011 1:20 AM

    No worries, hic. I’m as disgusted and baffled as you are by any man who thinks it’s in any way acceptable or even sane to step out of a shower naked and assault a woman he doesn’t know (or even a woman he does know, except by prior arrangement).

    If he did it, they can string the bastard up by his testicles for all I care: it’s just that I’m far from persuaded that he did; it’s just so deranged and he doesn’t strike me as a deranged man. Plus, it’s all so convenient for a lot of people who regard him as a nuisance.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 17, 2011 2:05 AM

      “except by prior arrangement” ;)

      If he’s been as altruistically motivated as the Counter-punch piece suggests, then a charade designed to take him out at the knees looks plausible, if not inevitable.

  51. mishari permalink*
    May 17, 2011 8:13 AM

    As I say, hic: I don’t know if he did what he’s accused of or not and my only feeling for S-K is the disdain I feel for any smarmy capitalist tool and hypocrite (both of which he indisputably is: as the head of the IMF, he’s a rich man engaged in screwing the poor)). But a French journalist wrote:

    Although DSK, as he is known in France, denies the accusations, he’s clearly now out of the IMF, out of the French presidential race and, most likely, out of politics altogether.

    Before this, DSK had everything going for him: a discredited outgoing president, an opposition party in search of a saviour, and an economic context that made him the ideal man to lead a European country in the midst of the financial storm.

    He seemed set to win the Socialist party primaries, and to become the second Socialist president of the fifth republic, some 17 years after François Mitterrand. How could he blow his career prospects so stupidly?

    This question is so disturbing that many in France think only a setup could explain his fall. Before the sexual assault story emerged, a series of negative stories about him had appeared in recent days: a photograph of him getting into a Porsche; an article in a trashy newspaper about his extravagantly priced suits; a cover story in a major news weekly L’Express about his excessive wealth.

    But none of these cheap attacks scored. An opinion poll, published on Saturday – the day of the alleged attack in New York – showed that the French didn’t care; DSK remained strongly ahead with voters. —Pierre Haski, The Grauniad

    …and in an interview with Libération on the 28th of April, S-K said he thought he was under surveillance and named the three principal difficulties he foresaw if he was to stand for the presidential elections.

    “Money, women and the fact I am Jewish.” He added: “Yes, I like women … so what?” He said he could see himself becoming the victim of a honey trap: “a woman raped in a car park and who’s been promised 500,000 or a million euros to invent such a story …”

    So, S-K floated the idea of being set-up as a rapist 3 weeks before he was accused of sexual assault. And suspecting just this possibility, he casually assaulted a hotel chambermaid? If he did, then he’s clearly insane; if he’s not insane, then the story looks very fishy.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 17, 2011 2:01 PM

      I’m not a conspiracy man, but I remember being ridiculed (by my own family!) when I suggested that Diana’s death seemed a bit too convenient. I was vindicated, I felt, when the note in which Diana forecasts her own death in a car crash appeared. No-one else (apart from the Daily Express – perhaps I should become a reader) seemed to take much notice.

    • May 18, 2011 12:28 PM

      Oh, look, The Daily Mail now has SK “confessing” by typo and/or pronoun confusion (last sentence):

      ‘She didn’t have any idea who he was or have any prior dealings with this guy,’ added Shapiro, a personal injury lawyer.

      ‘A friend called her and said “‘do you have any idea who this guy is?”‘ Shapiro said.

      Prosecutors have accused Strauss-Kahn, 62, of attacking the maid when she entered his suite, apparently unaware it was occupied, at the luxury Sofitel hotel near Times Square.

      They say he said (sic) he had sexually assaulted the maid, attempted to rape her and then, when unsuccessful, forced her to perform oral sex on him.

      Read more:

    • May 18, 2011 12:37 PM

      PS MM: that’s one “conspiracy theory” that’ll get you pariah status quicker than most, significantly. I wouldn’t even have noticed that Peter Allen has a movie out, on the topic, if every single “journalist” or “film critic” in the UK hadn’t gone out of his/her way to say how awfully “boring” and “ridiculous” it is. You mean, more boring than anything starring Jennifer Aniston yet the trailer features Prince Philip dressed as a Nazi…?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 18, 2011 2:34 PM

      Sorry, I meant to say up there that I’d never heard that stuff about Prinz Phillip. I once tried to get hold of Kitty Kelley’s book about them without success: I don’t know if it’s in there. Airing my theories about Di’s death is an excellent way to empty the room, like an idea fart.

  52. Reine permalink
    May 17, 2011 11:59 AM

    apropos of nothing in particular…

  53. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 17, 2011 1:50 PM

    I don’t know if this really works metrically speaking (chose the scheme on a whim) but I’m fed up with it.


    Once I was vastly overweight,
    eating was a solemn affair,
    my sun and moon, my life and fate,
    my morphine and cocaine,
    but once I’d seen her standing there
    I couldn’t eat again.

    Lamb chops and burgers, sirloin steak,
    jelly, ice cream, sponges light as air,
    the chocolate that Cadburys make:
    I couldn’t think of food,
    my mind was always elsewhere,
    my only thoughts were lewd.

    Her behind like a ripened plum,
    and truly marvellous figure,
    that hair, and wonderful bosom
    straining to be released…
    I couldn’t take my eyes off her,
    that body was a feast.

    I knew the wholesome food of love
    was all the sustenance I’d need
    the pounds peeled off me like a glove,
    and once I’d changed my life,
    to show I’d overcome my greed,
    then she became my wife.

    We’ve been married for twenty years,
    and my appetite’s fully met,
    less of that feeling still adheres
    which used to make me groan,
    I’ve had enough of the banquet
    now that she’s thirty stone.

    • Reine permalink
      May 17, 2011 3:51 PM

      Works for me. A plum job.

  54. Reine permalink
    May 17, 2011 3:33 PM

    Well, I am at my desk shedding a tear at the Garden of Remembrance ceremony. Quite unexpectedly moved by the Queen bowing respectfully, havind laid her wreath. The poem inscribed on the monument was read in Irish:

    I ndorchacht an éadóchais rinneadh aisling dúinn. Lasamar solas an dóchais. Agus níor múchadh é.

    I bhfásach an lagmhisnigh rinneadh aisling dúinn. Chuireamar crann na crógachta. Agus tháing bláth air.

    I ngeimhreadh na daoirse rinneadh aisling dúinn. Mheileamar sneachta táimhe. Agus rith abhainn na hathbheochana as.

    Chuireamar ár n-aisling ag snámh mar eala ar an abhainn. Rinneadh fírinne den aisling. Rinneadh samhradh den gheimhreadh. Rinneadh saoirse den daoirse. Agus d’fhágamar agaibhse mar oidhreacht í.

    A ghlúnta na saoirse cuimhnígí orainne, glúnta na haislinge…

    We Saw A Vision
    In the darkness of despair we saw a vision, We lit the light of hope, And it was not extinguished, In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision, We planted the tree of valour, And it blossomed

    In the winter of bondage we saw a vision, We melted the snow of lethargy, And the river of resurrection flowed from it.

    We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river, The vision became a reality, Winter became summer, Bondage became freedom, And this we left to you as your inheritance.

    O generation of freedom remember us, The generation of the vision.

    So far so good for the royal visit. Have to stand now and sing Amhrán na bFhiann.

    • Reine permalink
      May 17, 2011 3:33 PM

      “g”, pardon.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 17, 2011 6:40 PM

      I’d never heard of an aisling before. Good idea for Billy Mills to do as a PP.

  55. mishari permalink*
    May 17, 2011 7:10 PM

    aisling = vision, I take it? I’d like to hear Reine’s poem spoken.

    “He should have gone to AislingSavers–you get your second pair FREE!!!”

    Very entertaining piece by James Wolcott on the Republican contenders.

  56. Reine permalink
    May 17, 2011 7:29 PM

    Yes, vision or dream poems which usually personify country as a woman
    … Rinneadh Aisling Dúinn (by Liam Mac Uistín) is the Irish title of the above. Still at work but will try to find audio later.

  57. mishari permalink*
    May 17, 2011 7:37 PM

    Working late, honey? Don’t tell me Her Maj had added to your workload?

  58. Reine permalink
    May 17, 2011 7:50 PM

    Work late every Tuesday and Wednesday usually. Here ’til tennish tonight. Brenda not culpable, just the usual suspects.

    Does your heart bleed?

  59. mishari permalink*
    May 17, 2011 8:01 PM

    Copiously. That’s a good shirt ruined.

  60. Reine permalink
    May 17, 2011 11:03 PM

    This is from RTE Player if the link holds across the water … 28:30 – he read it a bit quickly, nerves doubtless.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 17, 2011 11:42 PM

      It’s restricted on my machine.

    • Reine permalink
      May 17, 2011 11:44 PM

      Bummer, couldn’t find it on Youtube.

  61. mishari permalink*
    May 17, 2011 11:45 PM

    Same here. Obviously payback for Cromwell.

  62. hic8ubique permalink
    May 18, 2011 12:03 AM

    No joy here either, but the Vanity Fair piece was good fun.
    I know a girl named ‘Aisling’.

  63. hic8ubique permalink
    May 18, 2011 12:08 AM

    This is worth a watch…

  64. May 18, 2011 12:13 AM

    Evening pop-pickers. Have I missed anything?

    Just in the door after a drive back from Lisbon . Must find a more local supplier of fresh sardines.

    We were working 3 days at a nice puppet festival and staying in a real old skool pension in the Barrio Alto. But with the ferries to Santander or Bilbao not fitting in with the dates it meant a long drive through France and Spain to get there. My other half is reading Infinite Jest at the moment and kept us entertained by reading extremely funny bits out ( of which there are a lot ).

    Best sight en route – an eagle landing in the grass verge in the middle of the motorway in Spain and flying up with a large snake in its talons.

    My poetic muscle is a bit shagged out ( as ee cummings would say ) but I’ll aim to get back on the PH track in the next few weeks.

    • Reine permalink
      May 18, 2011 12:15 AM

      Hi Ed, welcome back.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 18, 2011 12:37 AM

      Hullo there, ET. Good to er see you.

      I’ve been trying think of a Britannia aisling, but brain exhaustion (never far away) has set in. I’ll have to switch it off. La…

    • May 18, 2011 12:30 PM

      Good to see your purple pattern again, ET!

  65. Reine permalink
    May 18, 2011 12:15 AM

    Well, I managed to download Audacity and record myself reading it but haven’t a breeze what to do with it now. Will have to study further. Oíche mhaith, sweet aislings.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 18, 2011 12:19 AM

      Brilliant solution, Re!

      Hi EdT~ I was thinking of you… that you should write something diabetic for this thread.
      Welcome home. x

  66. mishari permalink*
    May 18, 2011 7:35 AM

    Welcome home, Ed. In a bit of synchronicity, I was just thinking of you yesterday. I knew you were away bringing culture to the benighted but I wasn’t sure where. Now I know. You’re well, I hope?

    Reine, go to Soundcloud, register (it’s all free) and upload the file. You might remember a few things that Kevin posted that he’d uploaded there. Very useful site.

  67. Reine permalink
    May 18, 2011 9:25 AM

    Not sure if this will work; it’s very rough and ready and my flat accent doesn’t really do it justice but it will give you an idea of the Irish sounds versus the English… the former much more lyrical I think. R (running away in mortification)

    Rinneadh Aisling Dúinn, Mac Uistín

    I ndorchacht an éadóchais rinneadh aisling dúinn. Lasamar solas an dóchais. Agus níor múchadh é.
    I bhfásach an lagmhisnigh rinneadh aisling dúinn. Chuireamar crann na crógachta. Agus tháing bláth air.
    I ngeimhreadh na daoirse rinneadh aisling dúinn. Mheileamar sneachta táimhe. Agus rith abhainn na hathbheochana as.
    Chuireamar ár n-aisling ag snámh mar eala ar an abhainn. Rinneadh fírinne den aisling. Rinneadh samhradh den gheimhreadh. Rinneadh saoirse den daoirse. Agus d’fhágamar agaibhse mar oidhreacht í.
    A ghlúnta na saoirse cuimhnígí orainne, glúnta na haislinge…

    We Saw A Vision

    In the darkness of despair we saw a vision, We lit the light of hope, And it was not extinguished, In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision, We planted the tree of valour, And it blossomed
    In the winter of bondage we saw a vision, We melted the snow of lethargy, And the river of resurrection flowed from it.
    We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river, The vision became a reality, Winter became summer, Bondage became freedom, And this we left to you as your inheritance.
    O generation of freedom remember us, The generation of the vision.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 18, 2011 10:36 AM

      That link doesn’t work for me, but I’m not familiar with the site so it’s probably my fault.

  68. May 18, 2011 10:06 AM

    Thanks one and all

    hic – ask and ye shall recieve

    A diabetic’s “official” diet is lacking in thrills
    Most of the food tastes like espadrilles
    Hypoglycaemia is kept at bay
    If you stick to a regime of water and hay
    Lo-sugar, lo-fat, lo-interest food
    Unlikely to put you in a party mood
    The diabetic sweets are worse than foul
    Chocolate wafers “may give you a loose bowel”

    But stray from the path and the food gets better
    Just don’t follow the advice to the letter

    • mishari permalink*
      May 18, 2011 11:49 AM

      This would make a good pairing with Loudon Wainwright’s ‘Bruno’s Place’

      Bruno has a lovely place
      it’s down on 7th Street
      Bruno has a lovely place
      I go there and I eat
      but I don’t eat meat:
      it’s bad for my feet.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 18, 2011 2:49 PM

      A necessary addition to our theme, ET. Do I recall this from some time ago?

      Those diner scenes give me a squeamish greasey feeling. huvahvuvah

  69. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 18, 2011 10:40 AM

    Honey for the ears, ET.

  70. Reine permalink
    May 18, 2011 11:01 AM

    Ok, try again, hadn’t made it public… this is going to be a tremendous disappointment after all the build up!

  71. Reine permalink
    May 18, 2011 11:11 AM

    If it does work, thank you to Simon for link to Audacity (which I obviously took to heart) and Mish (and Kevin) for Soundcloud info. I appear to have read it like a prayer but that’s how I see it I suppose. Cringing now, have to go and save Daddy from the snipers.

  72. mishari permalink*
    May 18, 2011 11:44 AM

    Unfortunately, I can’t get it to play. I don’t understand why it won’t. I’m reasonably tech savvy and I have all the required plug-ins in my browser (Firefox).

    OK, now I’ve tried it in Chrome, Safari and IE…no soap. What format did you upload, Reine? Mp3? .wav? .wma? Ogg? Are you sure you set the widget to ‘Public’ (ie, that any old passer-by can hear it)? You do need to do that…

  73. Reine permalink
    May 18, 2011 2:04 PM

    Now? WordPress seems to have its own embed code…I am shit at this stuff, sorry for all the messing. I’ll leave it at this if it doesn’t work.

    Rinneadh Aisling Dúinn, Mac Uistín

    I ndorchacht an éadóchais rinneadh aisling dúinn. Lasamar solas an dóchais. Agus níor múchadh é.
    I bhfásach an lagmhisnigh rinneadh aisling dúinn. Chuireamar crann na crógachta. Agus tháing bláth air.
    I ngeimhreadh na daoirse rinneadh aisling dúinn. Mheileamar sneachta táimhe. Agus rith abhainn na hathbheochana as.
    Chuireamar ár n-aisling ag snámh mar eala ar an abhainn. Rinneadh fírinne den aisling. Rinneadh samhradh den gheimhreadh. Rinneadh saoirse den daoirse. Agus d’fhágamar agaibhse mar oidhreacht í.
    A ghlúnta na saoirse cuimhnígí orainne, glúnta na haislinge…

    We Saw A Vision

    In the darkness of despair we saw a vision, We lit the light of hope, And it was not extinguished, In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision, We planted the tree of valour, And it blossomed
    In the winter of bondage we saw a vision, We melted the snow of lethargy, And the river of resurrection flowed from it.
    We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river, The vision became a reality, Winter became summer, Bondage became freedom, And this we left to you as your inheritance.
    O generation of freedom remember us, The generation of the vision.

    • Reine permalink
      May 18, 2011 2:05 PM

      No, that’s not working either. Shit. Catch ye later.

  74. mishari permalink*
    May 18, 2011 2:16 PM

    I dunno why it’s not playing on Soundcloud, but you could always upload it to youtube (with a static picture of St. Stephen’s Green or The Liffey or Wolfe Tone or something); a youtube acct only takes a minute to sort..

  75. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 18, 2011 2:22 PM

    I heard it. Irish is easy on the ear, quite sibilant (or there may just be a lot of sibilants in the poem). Enjoyed the English reading. A star is born!

  76. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 18, 2011 2:23 PM

    I’m using Google Chrome, btw. Try that.

  77. Reine permalink
    May 18, 2011 2:25 PM

    Can’t access youtube at the moment. I emailed you a link as a last resort, to do with what you will if it works. Feel free to delete all the false starts above, maybe just keeping the text of the poem. Fuck me, this is all very wearing. Thank you Mishari.

    Papa arrived safely, we lunched in a lovely French restaurant on the Green (the staff of which earned his undying devotion by going off menu and cooking onions to go with his steak) and I deposited him at the Royal Irish Academy before returning to the office. No snipers to report.

  78. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 18, 2011 2:36 PM

    I used the link from 11.01.

  79. hic8ubique permalink
    May 18, 2011 2:41 PM

    11.01 and 9.25 are both working for me…
    Wonderful! I can hear you, brave and beautiful, Re! (though there’s an electronic tone overlay)
    That play between sibilance and articulation is not too dissimilar to Swedish. What a lovely voice, perfect for the poem.

    I lost my ear-buds on the last trip, and was able to listen to you with my new replacement ones. They fit perfectly and have a light over-ear cable, so they stay put. A simple pleasure.

  80. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 18, 2011 8:50 PM


    Britannia, once you were a strapping girl,
    an eager beaver, an absolute brick,
    across the muddy pitches of the world
    you trounced the Heathen with your hockey stick.

    In very responsible middle age
    with a brisk and authoritative air
    you patrolled the international stage
    quelling foreigners with a frigid glare.

    Conceived, born and schooled with minimal fuss
    your many children spread out far and wide,
    agents of the Empire’s civil service,
    in distant lands they filled in forms and died.

    Most ancient lady, wrinkled dim-eyed dame,
    all the glorious days are in the past,
    frail and tottering with your zimmer frame
    Britannia, how much longer can you last?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 18, 2011 8:52 PM

      I’m not recording this.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 18, 2011 10:17 PM

      It would be a perfect one to record. I’m just surprised to see Britannia’s longevity diet hasn’t featured.

  81. Reine permalink
    May 18, 2011 8:56 PM

    Thanks for kind comments dolls. My son said I sounded very depressed but complimented my Irish (big of him).

    MM, that is super. The Queen made a super speech in Dublin Castle. From Republican to recording artist royalist in one day, I don’t know what’s come over me.

  82. mishari permalink*
    May 18, 2011 9:21 PM

    I’m frustrated as hell: everyone can hear Reine except me. I’m baffled. I get to the page alright, but no matter what I do, what browser I use or what settings I tweak, I just can’t get it to play….arrrrgggghhhhhh…

  83. Reine permalink
    May 18, 2011 9:26 PM

    Really, you’re not missing much! Did you try link in email – I used your Gravatar address?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 18, 2011 10:01 PM

      Yes he is, Re! And it’s especially unfair, since M goes to such lengths to facilitate navigation for everyone else.

  84. mishari permalink*
    May 18, 2011 9:31 PM

    I didn’t but I don’t think that’s the problem; I get to the page and the file alright, the damn thing just won’t play. I’ll try it, though. Meanwhile:

    Morrissey has used the Queen’s state visit to Ireland to launch a new attack on the monarchy, likening her position to that of Muammar Gaddafi. —The Grauniad, today

    I’ve often thought the resemblance was striking, especially the hats.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 18, 2011 10:46 PM

      You never see Gadaffi and the Queen together. Draw your own conclusions.

  85. May 18, 2011 9:52 PM

    Reine’s link worked on my coal-driven laptop.

    First time round I got one of those “Ooops we haven’t been able to find the link” apologies but once I’d removed the waffles from the CDRom playing facility it was fine.

    I’m a bit disturbed as to how gooey the whole country appears to be going over the Windsor sponges at the moment. Thank goodness Morrissey has brought a bit of perspective to this collective loss of thinking. It’s a pity he didn’t go OTT and compare top sponge to someone a bit more extreme like Fred West or Emperor Bokassa.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 18, 2011 9:58 PM

      Sponge Queen Square Hats?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 18, 2011 10:47 PM

      You never see… etc etc

  86. mishari permalink*
    May 18, 2011 10:06 PM

    I can’t work it out: it refuses to play on my lightning-fast, state-of-the-art, more-powerful-than-God laptop. It’s got me fucked; so much so, that I spoke sharply to Honey, who’d only come over for a bit of affection. That earned me some very dirty looks from the children. The funny thing is, the result is the same on all the machines in the house, so I’m guessing the problem lies in something my IPS is or isn’t implementing properly; bastards.

    I suppose I must resign myself to being deprived of Reine’s voice.

    Ed, you don’t know the half of it. Both The Graun and The Obs lost their collective minds; alright, there’s not a great deal there to lose, but still…The buggers went completely overboard with page after fucking page of royal wedding horseshit, complete with live blogs and ‘think’ pieces (sic). You were well out of it, chum.

  87. mishari permalink*
    May 18, 2011 10:27 PM

    On the S-K business:

    Michael Discioarro, a Manhattan criminal defence lawyer, pointed out that New York law forbids any reference in court to the alleged victim’s past sexual history unless it can be shown to be relevant to the case, for instance if she had falsely accused somebody of a sex crime in the past.

    “But they will be looking for ways of casting doubt on the maid’s credibility in other ways,” Discioarro said. Investigators are likely to be sent to her home country of Guinea in west Africa to search for any signs of past criminal activity, failure to pay taxes or other skeletons in her cupboard. —The Grauniad

    How in the name of God is her ‘…failure to pay taxes…’ relevant? Ugliness piles on ugliness…

  88. hic8ubique permalink
    May 18, 2011 10:32 PM

    Spun Honey

    I longed for that taste
    like no other, Mother.

    It came in a squat white pot
    of card like a milk-bottle top
    pure yellow on white
    one happy bee on the lip-fitted lid
    butter sweet tasting thick
    with joy … again you said ‘No’
    ‘There was none at the market’.

    The only other shadow flavour
    on a fold-up one-legged breakfast
    table, mint formica stuck down
    with swirled epoxy daubs
    near the Janus-faced newel post,
    is warm semolina
    with gummy lumps.

    How many lies have passed
    between our bitter lips since.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 18, 2011 11:00 PM

      Nice job. I like the way you’ve used those compound words. I’d never heard of spun honey.

    • Reine permalink
      May 18, 2011 11:04 PM

      Oh, bittersweet, Hic.

      Mishari, I am sorry that my labour of love for you (!) is hitting a wall your end. It is a sign perhaps that my recording career is not to be.

      The S-K reportage is mind-numbing.

      On the Queen, we had better be careful not to get too carried away or we’ll be back in the Commonwealth before we know what hit us.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 19, 2011 3:03 AM

      It’s possible I have an atavistic kenning fixation, MM.

      I’m not entirely sure about ‘spun honey’, since this was a pre-literate memory, but it has a sort of spin to it, yes?
      I thought the poem might be too acrimonious to post (more bitter than sweet), but after two other mentions of honey… oh well.

      It’s still rather a fraught atmosphere between my mother and me; after years of estrangement, these days we are friendly though cautious.
      Here I am with her, from about that time, after having been subdued into allowing my hair to be stuck up: (courtesy of kumo file)

    • mishari permalink*
      May 19, 2011 6:32 AM

      What a charming picture, hic.

      I know that honey is often extracted from the comb by spinning. The combs are placed in a device (either hand-cranked or electrically powered) and the centrifugal force drives the honey out. In fact, that’s going to be my next project: bee-hives (for the place in Spain).

    • Reine permalink
      May 19, 2011 8:06 AM

      If looks could kill lovely girl! I like the hair, mind you. Mama an elegant looking lady. Trying to figure out if your necklace is a fuchsia or perhaps a bee on the wing.

  89. mishari permalink*
    May 18, 2011 10:43 PM

    Lovely, hic.

    Say, are you busy Saturday? You are? Not any more, you’re not: believe me, you’ve got bigger fish to fry–The End of The World is nigh…and when I say nigh, I mean Saturday.

    Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, California, is confidently predicting the Second Coming of the Lord. At about 6pm, he reckons 2 per cent of the world’s population will be immediately “raptured” to Heaven; the rest of us will get sent straight to the Other Place.–The Indy, today

    Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    • Reine permalink
      May 18, 2011 11:35 PM

      I’m glad I haven’t made any attempt to pay off my credit card then.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 19, 2011 12:14 AM

      You won’t be. Lashed for 1000 years with red-hot barbed wire, according to Lucifer’s List Of Punishments.

  90. May 18, 2011 10:51 PM

    See you in hell everyone.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 18, 2011 11:09 PM

      Speak for yourself, ET. I have come to an arrangement with the Lord. Human sacrifices are always messy, but eternal life is surely worth some dry-cleaning.

  91. mishari permalink*
    May 19, 2011 12:04 AM

    Theresa May was accused of betraying police and the public over her pledge last year to always fight for forces.

    Her annual keynote speech to police leaders from across the country was met with stony silence after she said it was “not my job” to tell them what they wanted to hear. —The Indy, today

    Brilliant. The way things are likely to pan-out under this government, you’d think they’d bend over backwards to keep the police sweet: but, no…

    Unbelievable–this latest bunch of Tory half-wits are too stupid to even manage self-preservation.


    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 19, 2011 12:24 AM

      The clip on the news was good, especially the bit where the copper blinded by Moat asked her if she thought he was worth 35000 a year. Cringe-making of course, but she must have been shrivelling. Good job Ken Clarke’s not still Home Sec. He would probably have said ‘No, not now you aren’t.’

    • May 19, 2011 12:29 PM

      Clarke would have told that policeman that there are some forms of blindness that are not as serious as others.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 19, 2011 1:28 PM

      To be fair to fellow-jazz-fan Ken, he was making the (to any sane person) perfectly sensible point that there are degrees of severity in any crime. This is a fact long-recognised in law, e.g. 1st degree murder, 2nd degree murder etc; common assault, assault and battery, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, attempted murder etc.

      He might have chosen his words a little more carefully but his point is indisputable.

      The trouble is, the word ‘rape’ acts as a dog-whistle for many people: rational thought switches off and passion takes over.

      Ed Millivanilliband demonstrates his essential worthlessness by calling for Clarke’s resignation (along with The Sun, The Daily Mail and every rabid, 1922 Committee Tory fascist). Nice one, Ed…you cretin.

    • May 19, 2011 1:46 PM

      The problem for Ken Clarke is that he’s trying to save money above all else. It appears he’s said that if rapists confess to their crimes then they can get a shorter sentence. Thus the cost to the public purse is less.

      Labour should have focussed on that point – which confuses the feeling of justice being done for the victim with the need to cut prison-time costs – rather than a misinterpretation of his comment.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 19, 2011 2:32 PM

      But I think it follows on from the point Clarke made last year, that prison doesn’t work. That drew howls of outrage from the usual suspects but again, the facts are beyond dispute: prison doesn’t fucking work. It neither acts as a deterrent nor as rehabilitation. In other words, it’s a waste of money. Sorry, Ed…I’m with Clarke on this. We need a fresh approach.

    • May 19, 2011 2:42 PM

      No disagreement there – rapists need rehabilitation so they don’t do it again but from his comments can we assume Clarke is putting that policy into play?

      Because that approach costs a lot of money, doesn’t generate income ( it saves it of course ) and needs a bunch of people who know the score to work with offenders.

      As far as I can see those are exactly the kind of people who are being currently demonised by the right for wasting public money.

      Clarke is just being political ( like they all are ) and will only go so far.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 19, 2011 2:46 PM

      I’m sure you’re right–Ken’s got half the equation right but (for fiscal reasons) won’t follow it to its logical conclusion. Will we ever be governed by anyone besides scoundrels, buffoons and morons?

  92. Reine permalink
    May 19, 2011 8:20 AM

    One of our grand old men has died. He was very anxious to meet her Maj last night but couldn’t make it. Rest in peace.

  93. mishari permalink*
    May 19, 2011 9:42 AM

    The investigation commissioned by Catholic bishops said that the peak incidence of sexual abuse by priests in the 1960s and 70s reflected the increased level of other deviant behaviours in American society in the period, including “drug use and crime, as well as social changes, such as an increase in premarital sex and divorce.” —The Grauniad, today

    Makes sense to me: there’s young Father O’Bubblegum, off his head on LSD, jitterbugging to the exciting pop sounds of Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, beads flying, kaftan rippling–it could only end badly.

  94. mishari permalink*
    May 19, 2011 8:48 PM

    In an entertaining piece by Marina Hyde about Alex Reid (no, I didn’t know either: apparently, he’s Jordan’s cage-fighter ex), who is in Cannes doing something or other connected with furthering or kick-starting his ‘film career’:

    And don’t forget Alex’s family have always been steeped in cinema – his mother, Carol Reid, directed The Third Man, which of course took the Grand Prix in 1949.

    Well, it made me laugh…

    • Reine permalink
      May 19, 2011 11:28 PM

      me too.

  95. Reine permalink
    May 19, 2011 11:26 PM

    Queen Cake

    Take centuries of history
    Shake about
    Futile to try to sift evils, sorry weevils, out
    Reclaim about a fifth, oh give or take,
    It will never rise as part of the end bake

    Flour it lightly, the tin
    (A smear of butter will ease the passage in
    It worked in Paris after all)
    Ignore the writing on the wall

    Don’t cry over long-spilled milk
    Just wipe it clean
    Add laurel and vanilla speech
    And stay serene

    When you are happy with the emulsion
    Move fast, with swift propulsion,
    Open the door and shove it in
    Twice-baked Republic of Éireann

    Then put your feet up and take tea
    Feet which, post-feat, must now throb
    When the cake is risen, take it out
    Leave to recover on the Aga’s hob

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 19, 2011 11:35 PM

      A beautiful receipt conceit, well turned out!
      Do you have an Aga, Re? Cosy kitchen.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 19, 2011 11:40 PM

      I meant to say,Reine… that tiny necklace is an enamelled silver lotus from Egypt, which I still have tucked away.
      My grandmother had a larger one that slipped open sideways to reveal a little oval mirror.
      Many of those sorts of miniature treasures have been lost, but I reserved that one from the enthusiasm of my girls, so it has survived.

    • Reine permalink
      May 19, 2011 11:45 PM

      Sadly not, Hic, although it and my imaginary country pile are never far from my mind. We must make do with a Belling.

      I know bees are wonderful but I confess fear prevents me from feeling the love. My youngest sister is not fond of kissing and hugging her two older sisters (although very demonstrative towards others – some deepseated psychological issue no doubt) and a kind of Mork and Mindy gesture of affection has developed between us where we touch fingers and say “Bzzzzzzzz”.

    • Reine permalink
      May 19, 2011 11:48 PM

      I meant to change “cakes” to “cake” in the title oh benevolent ed, when you have a moment please…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 19, 2011 11:57 PM

      Country piles are a bother, and the only Aga-owning person I know is insufferably competitive.
      None of that attendant baggage is worth it. Flame is my only criterion.
      I have an early childhood memory of being stung, but nevertheless no fear of bees.
      I’ve noticed that when they don’t want me … oh! I was planting Irish Moss when this happened… a bee dive-bombed me to make me go away from its territory, but it never harmed me.
      I always save the bumbles when they blunder into the house. I really do love them.

    • Reine permalink
      May 20, 2011 12:17 AM

      The boys must be playing backgammon.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 20, 2011 12:51 AM

      But, my Dear, let us fain feign all absence of malaise at their neglect.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 20, 2011 11:15 AM

      Backgammon! I was unwell.

      I’m shocked to see our dear Queen sharing poem-space with dairy-based sexual practices. I know she would not be amused.

    • Reine permalink
      May 20, 2011 3:54 PM

      I hope you are feeling better now, restored by the fact that you were missed (or perhaps just under increased pressure to perform).

  96. hic8ubique permalink
    May 19, 2011 11:31 PM

    Here’s an item of apian interest I’m sending to my other bee-keeping friends as well. Their bees are more apt to be disturbed by interruptive electromagnetism than your unmolested Spanish bees.

    “Active mobile phone handsets have a dramatic impact on the behavior of the bees, namely by inducing the worker piping signal.In natural conditions, worker piping either announces the swarming process of the bee colony or is a signal of a disturbed bee colony. For future experiments, in complement to the present original study and in order to reach more ‘natural’ conditions, mobile phone apparatuses should be placed at various increasing distances away from the hives. We should ask ourselves, whether the plethora of mobile phone masts also have an impact on the behaviour of the honeybees. Among other factors such as the varroa mite and pesticides, signals from mobile phones and masts could be contributing to the decline of honeybees around the world. I am calling the international scientific community for more research in this field.”
    ~~Daniel Favre

  97. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 20, 2011 11:22 AM

    I got the discs, YRH, thanks very much. Looking forward to viewing them.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 20, 2011 11:31 AM

      Did you manage to access Reine’s recital? It seems to be drawing in the crowds.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 20, 2011 3:19 PM

      Yes, finally…but not from home. Baffling.

      4 days to the IOW? That’s not good. I meant to say, when I was burning the stuff on Sunday, I ran out of blank DVD-Rs, so there’s no Borgia’s or Game of Thrones, but the first only has another episode to run and the second another 4, so I might as well wait ’til they’re both complete before passing them along.

      I included a film called Tracker and I’ll be interested to see what you make of it. It has Ray Winstone as a Boer farmer, hired to track down a Maori escapee. I quite liked it.

  98. Reine permalink
    May 20, 2011 3:44 PM

    MM, I made the mistake of sending my sister the link – it is probably she who is responsible for hits. She said she hadn’t laughed as much in ages.

    Mishari, put me out of my misery…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 20, 2011 3:53 PM

      Come on, it was really good. It’ll go viral before long.

  99. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 20, 2011 3:51 PM

    It wasn’t 4 days. For some reason the postwoman put it through my neighbour’s letterbox (it was correctly addressed), but it took him till yesterday evening to lumber round with it. I shouldn’t complain, since I usually chuck his misdirected letters in the bin. Seems to happen quite a lot: I don’t know what that postwoman’s thinking about, but it isn’t the mail. Perhaps it’s the male.

  100. mishari permalink*
    May 20, 2011 3:57 PM

    Oh, sorry, honey…it was lovely. I’d heard spoken Erse before and for some reason, it reminds me of Portugese…but thank you for that…much appreciated (and getting lots of hits).

    One of the PH music channel regulars sent me a message informing me that Judd Apatow had Tweeted a link to one of my videos. I had to google him: an actor, apparently. It added a quick 20 thousand hits, though, pushing the PH music channel view count past the 1.1 million mark.

    On being told that Gary Neville had been quoting his (Noel Gallagher’s) lyrics on Twitter, the die-hard Manchester City fan promised to break into the former Manchester United player’s home, force him to listen to Simply Red, remove his moustache with his teeth, liberate his Oasis CDs and “shit in his manbag”. —The Evening Standard, last Friday

    Rock and Roll

  101. hic8ubique permalink
    May 20, 2011 5:18 PM

    I can’t tell how to see all your hits, Re, but you really ought to consider putting ‘side by side’ readings on your own YT channel.
    You’re a natural for it! Do give us another selection, please.
    (Sorry if I was too dismissive of your Aga lust; you know I just wish you contentment. x)

    Obama has suddenly become more interesting. What do you make of developments, Mishari?
    Congrats on the million milestone. I’m tickled to have been a participant in attaining it.

    • Reine permalink
      May 20, 2011 5:43 PM

      When you click on the link, Hic, it shows how many views it has had – as I say, I suspect they come mostly from my sister laughing her head off at my elocution.

      I’ll let the dust settle for the moment, it’s taken a lot out of me. Ha. Thank you though. Simon has done some very good readings on his blog btw. So far, one of his own called Autumn Birds, Betjeman’s “Myfanwy” and Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium”. I hope he doesn’t mind the publicity. He has the timbre to my mere “ine”.

      I didn’t think you in the least dismissive and rest assured my lusts are unhindered. My contentment is a work in progress! I suspect there may be an Aga in our midst.

      I’m off to wine club. I have a terrible thirst on me; am newly coiffed – which is to say I no longer look like the wicked witch of the west who looked back at me from the mirror this a.m. – and good to go.

      Obama comes this way on Monday… but the Queen (last seen boarding a plane with a pound of Kerrygold … to spread on her royal toast) has truly stolen his thunder.

      Good e’en to you all loveens.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 20, 2011 6:21 PM

      Thanks for the Simon tip. I’ll look forward to listening to him later on with my exciting earbuds. If he sings the Myfanwy I know, I’ll be over the moon.
      The boy has arrived home so the sound-scape of our household has been goosed considerably.

      Have a lovely wine evening. Lately, I’ve been enjoying an organic California sauvi : Bonterra. Very pleasant for Spring.

    • May 20, 2011 6:47 PM

      Aww, thanks for the plug, R. Modesty forbids, you know…

  102. mishari permalink*
    May 20, 2011 5:36 PM

    Well, hic, Obama is, as usual, making some of the right noises. However, I’m deeply sceptical that it will lead to anything. His absolute silence on the Saudi regime, certainly the most vilely corrupt and brutal in the Middle East was telling…hey, (despite almost all the 9/11 attackers being Saudis) they’re America’s ‘allies’ (allies = oil producers), so mum’s the word.

    Anyway, that racist thug Netanyahu will doubtless be greeted ecstatically when he addresses Congress next week and any hope of the US actually putting pressure on Israel to modify its policies of apartheid, murder, oppression and land-theft will be revealed as a chimera.

    Screw Obama and screw the US (no offence intended: you know I’m very fond of America–just loathe your government/corporate bosses). I think Arabs are waking up to the fact that, like the Egyptians and the Tunisians and Libyans and Syrians etc, if you want something to change, you have to change it yourself. That the US and the West are not and never have been our ‘friends’: on the contrary.

    That all the US talk of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ is just that: talk. The waffling and hedging of Obama and Hillary on Egypt and Tunisia when things were still up in the air and their silence on Saudi Arabia and Bahrain demonstrate that.

    Good. It’s been a long time coming.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 20, 2011 6:14 PM

      Ah, per usual I’ve been fooled by the ‘talk’. Both parties were so aggrieved by his stance I thought it might be viable. I’m sorry it’s all so painful. Most of the time I can’t bear to look.

      And no offence taken for the US’ sake, not in the least. I’m always grateful to ‘be’ here with all of you, thus getting out through the virtual escape hatch. My roots here are more accurately rhizomes.

    • May 20, 2011 7:06 PM

      The Jewish vote in the US is pretty substantial, I imagine that no politician wanting to cling onto power would risk alienating such a large group. Hence the all talk no action approach to the situation.

      Palestine needs to flood the US with a sizeable population of people with voting capabilities to affect the necessary changes in Israel..

      My dad, a dyed in the wool true blue Tory was a big fan of Yasser Arafat – part of this may be down to that middle-class British anti-semitism that bubbles under the surface but as an army man he was very troubled by how the Brit army helped turf the Palestinians off their lands at the end of WW2.

  103. mishari permalink*
    May 20, 2011 7:22 PM

    The thing is, Ed, AIPAC, (the ‘Israel First’ lobby group that so terrifies US Presidents) is not representative of the majority of American Jews. The majority of Jews in the US have traditionally been ‘liberal’, Democrats with (unsurprisingly, given Jewish history) a deeply rooted sense of ‘fair play’.

    Jews were in the forefront of the great US civil rights movement in the 60s and in the vanguard of every progressive political movement in the US in the 20th century. Many American Jews are deeply disturbed by what they see being done in their name by the Israeli state, and more and more of them are saying so loud and clear.

    Of course, they have to put up with vile douchebags like Dershowitz calling them ‘self-hating Jews’ because, you know, they have an interest in justice…not a concept that a beef-witted, Zionist fanatic like Dershowitz can grasp…but don’t mistake the loudest (AIPAC and it’s bag-carriers) with the majority: most Jews are neither fanatics nor racists–quite the contrary.

    Great stuff on Simon’s blog; Sailing To Byzantium has always been a great favourite of mine. Most amusing to see you with a shaheen on your arm, you old bedouin, you. Going after Hubarra (that’s Great Bustard to you foreigners)?

  104. May 20, 2011 7:44 PM

    Indeed 2 of my oldest friends come from radical Jewish families though they always felt they were the minority view.

    I’m just wondering why the US are so reluctant to move on this situation. Granted there’s no oil in Palestine but it must surely be the cultural links between ex-pats and the mother country that fuels the do-nothing stance.

  105. mishari permalink*
    May 20, 2011 8:14 PM

    Ed, here’s an interesting piece in Haaretz by Israeli historian/political scientist Zeev Sternhell. Well worth a read.

    US politicians are terrified of AIPAC but that fear is misplaced.

  106. Captain Ned permalink
    May 21, 2011 1:47 AM

    Truckingut, Texas

    In Truckingut, Texas, where the sun always shines,
    You won’t ever hear anyone cursin’.
    Nobody hollers or shouts, and nobody whines;
    There’s just the sound of gentle conversin’.

    We’re family people; we’re settled and and steady;
    Our houses are comfortably spacious.
    The flag’s always flyin’, the gun’s always ready;
    We won’t shoot if your manners are gracious.

    Now, Truckingut folks are the finest in the state.
    You can’t say our appetites ain’t healthy.
    Some people think that we’re a little overweight;
    It’s on account of bein’ so wealthy.

    So don’t come to us with your fancy city ways
    Like exercise and a balanced diet.
    We love our big bellies; they get lots of praise.
    If y0u don’t like our cookin’, keep quiet.

    We know how to deal with you damn socialist queers,
    ‘Cause when you mess with a Texan, you’re toast.
    We’ll get a party goin’, and break out the beers.
    You’ll be invited, ’cause you’ll be the roast.

    • Reine permalink
      May 21, 2011 1:48 AM

      Even as drunk as I am Ned, I appreciate your craft. x

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 21, 2011 1:39 PM

      That truly hits the spot, Cap.

  107. Reine permalink
    May 21, 2011 1:47 AM


  108. Captain Ned permalink
    May 21, 2011 1:48 AM

    Christ, Reine, my ditty isn’t THAT good is it?

  109. Reine permalink
    May 21, 2011 1:50 AM

    Sorry, it wasn’t that kind of groan Ned but see my comment above. More aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

  110. Captain Ned permalink
    May 21, 2011 2:05 AM

    That’s alright. I do feel a bit guilty about the crass ‘Americanisms’, though. Not everything that comes from the land of the free is to be execrated, as can be proved with such a little lovely thing as this:

  111. Captain Ned permalink
    May 21, 2011 2:19 AM

    Or this. Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly: for me, the Holy Trinity of the Blues.

  112. May 21, 2011 5:48 AM

    Thanks, Mish. Not yet: the hunting season is in the autumn (you know that), but I have been invited.

    An interesting discussion on British headline noun pileups on Language Log produced this gem: “Slough sausage choke baby death woman jailed”. I invite you to contemplate the full horror of this image; somehow “Godalming sausage choke baby death woman jailed” just wouldn’t cut the mustard.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 21, 2011 10:39 AM

      That is one ugly sentence (or non-sentence, rather). Sausage…mustard…haha…I see what you did there…

  113. May 21, 2011 9:12 AM

    A bit dissappointed to wake up and find I’m not in heaven or hell. With the Rapture not actually existing another certainty goes out the window. By my estimation there are only 3 certainties left to cling onto. Worrying times.

    I’ll add Big Bill Broonzy to your compilation Cap’n Ned

  114. mishari permalink*
    May 21, 2011 9:20 AM

    Give it time, Ed…apparently, it all kicks off (Armageddon, that is) at 6 pm. According to Mr. Camping, that’s 6 pm wherever you are (which doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but consider the source…).

    I’ll add Blind Willie Johnson to the list:

    • May 21, 2011 10:04 AM

      “According to Mr. Camping, that’s 6 pm wherever you are (which doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but consider the source…)”

      Cut to: hundreds of thousands of nitwits driving toward the East Coast at top speed

    • mishari permalink*
      May 21, 2011 10:19 AM

      That image made me laugh; probably a bit too close to the truth for comfort…

  115. May 21, 2011 10:29 AM

    So not only do these loons not believe in evolution they don’t believe in different times of the day for different parts of the world either.

    Thank God I will be going to hell at 6.00 this evening or morning if you’re in Australia or this lunchtime if you’re on the US East Coast.

  116. mishari permalink*
    May 21, 2011 10:34 AM

    Evidently, God’s wrath is very flexible, schedule-wise. Cool.

    The White House has turned down a request for Nick Clegg to have a one-to-one meeting with Barack Obama when he visits Britain this week.

    Aides to the Deputy Prime Minister tried to secure an audience and a photo opportunity with the President as part of his first state visit to Britain. —The Indy, today


  117. hic8ubique permalink
    May 21, 2011 1:23 PM

    You are in a good mood this morning, M.
    So am I, after the sublime serenades on offer with a bonus treat from the good Captain.

    The family of Texans I know moved there because they found New England unfriendly. The day we met the Dad, he came over to help carry a desk and opened conversation by asking cheerfully:
    ‘Are you religious?’
    Naturally I was wary after that, but eventually we all came to be friends since our boys were compatible.
    I’ve heard it said that the appearance of friendliness in the South is in fact a shallow impression, that it’s rare to really know a person well, and that in the North, while we’re initially more reserved, we make deeper connections. That seems generally plausible to me.
    My Swedish family have been devout, but certainly would never converse about it publically, or compel us as children to participate.

    The dietary difference… unhealthy habits dominate in the South to the extent that friends recently visiting Southern universities had trouble finding anything ‘normal’ to eat, ie: unfried with fresh veg.

    Yesterday on Public Radio: ‘Mississippi is the most obese state in the most obese nation’. I’d guess at the same time the most malnourished.

  118. hic8ubique permalink
    May 21, 2011 1:33 PM is plumping for Gordon Brown to head the IMF. It’s novel (bizarre in fact) to read their enthusiastic remarks…

    “Our poll winner, Gordon Brown, is a proven poverty-fighter. And as UK finance minister for 10 years, Brown has extensive experience and understanding of the IMF. When the world teetered on the brink of economic collapse in 2009, Brown chaired the critical G20 summit and orchestrated the $1 trillion stimulus pledge that stopped the panic. While half the British press continually attacks Brown, that is the half owned by the infamous right wing extremist Rupert Murdoch, a strong point in Brown’s favour. And while Brown supported Tony Blair’s decision to join the war in Iraq, he’s been a leader of conscience on a wide range of other global issues — from pushing hard for human rights in Burma to being the first major head of state to commit to attend the Copenhagen summit on climate change and pushing for a strong treaty there. It’s no wonder he’s our community’s top choice to lead the IMF.”

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 21, 2011 1:43 PM

      Gordon’s low sex drive is the key qualification. Kilts and Calvinism do temper the animal instincts.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 21, 2011 2:13 PM

      Oh, I don’t know about that…
      Here’s a bit of kilt with a title to please St. Augustine:

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 21, 2011 3:18 PM

      I’m not speaking from experience, I slowly hasten to add. I’ve never felt the rough hairy texture of the kilt (not dissimilar to the texture of a Scotchman’s leg, or so I’m told), or suffered the cold discipline of the Genevan predestinarian. But contact with that rasping garment can’t be pleasurable for the wearer, especially in a condition of excitement, and coupled with the proscription of erotic feeling I think a low level of sexual charge must be a given.

    • May 21, 2011 5:31 PM

      Hic: what must you think of me? I…. oh…… ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh….. pfew! False alarm.

    • Reine permalink
      May 21, 2011 10:42 PM

      They’d need longer skirts… or so I’m told.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 21, 2011 11:56 PM

      To appreciate the title fully, you’ve got to say “Black Cocks in Blair Atholl” with an Americanese lisp.

      But, no, that’s not at all what I think of you St.A.

    • Reine permalink
      May 21, 2011 11:58 PM

      OMG, it gets worser and worser.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 22, 2011 12:06 AM

      …but I do hope you feel betterer.

      A heavy raw fog has descended on our rapture here, spoiling my beach ambitions, but I did have a glorious long tramp in the woods yesterday, so I’m contenting myself here, enraptured with all of you.

    • Reine permalink
      May 22, 2011 12:10 AM

      The dance of the black cocks
      Didn’t have all that many steps
      Though it really was a tonic
      (One not sponsored by Schweppes)

      Though uncomplex, it was very long
      It seemed to go on forever
      The dancer from Blair Atholl
      Was as short as he was clever

      The trick? It was to count the beat
      Bang it out against the wall
      Lift your legs high, all at once
      Be careful not to fall

      The dance of the black cocks
      Had nowt to do with chickens
      But those who saw it often said
      It was better than slim pickin’s

    • Reine permalink
      May 22, 2011 12:22 AM

      I am quite recovered, Hic, thank you. Celebrated reprieve with the extended-un-nuclear family. Much restored by the mesmerising baby girl child who has learned to say my name perfectly but calls her brother Dedo. She took to calling me Magda for a while because she had a new Spanish childminder in creche. I am thinking of making it my fourth name. Reine Mary Clare Magda…

  119. mishari permalink*
    May 21, 2011 3:13 PM

    ‘The Dance of The Black Cocks’? Naughty, naughty…

    hic, it was Brown’s refusal to properly regulate the banks and financial sector (and in this, he mirrored the US) that led to the collapse of the world economy in the first place. He crawled to Goldman, Sachs and scurried over to Canary Wharf to kow-tow at the opening of Lehman Bros. new London HQ, boasting of his regime of ‘light-touch regulation’ (sic), just months before Lehman Bros. went down the toilet.

    At a time when more and more corporations and wealthy individuals were dodging their fair share of tax, Brown not only reduced the staff of the Inland Revenue, but, get this: he sold the Inland Revenue HQ building to a tax-dodging off-shore corporation. I could go on, but you get the idea…

    The man’s a fool and a dishonest one at that. Will we ever have politicians that an intelligent person can respect?

  120. Harold Camping permalink
    May 21, 2011 3:19 PM

    Not long to go now

  121. Harold Champing permalink
    May 21, 2011 3:59 PM

    I can’t wait

  122. Harold Clamping permalink
    May 21, 2011 4:02 PM

    Is that your car parked illegally?

  123. Harold Camping It Up permalink
    May 21, 2011 4:16 PM

    Six o’clock!?!!? I’ll never get ready in time! Oooh, The Rapture! I’ve been looking forward to this for sooooo long! What? Oh… suppose I’ll have to watch it on TV.

  124. Harlot Intent permalink
    May 21, 2011 4:16 PM

    For this I got my hair cut?

  125. Harold Pinter permalink
    May 21, 2011 4:24 PM

    Language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you … at any time.

  126. Harold Lloyd permalink
    May 21, 2011 4:28 PM

    No comment.

  127. Harold Camping And Caravaning Club permalink
    May 21, 2011 4:51 PM

    The Rapture is a very good deluxe model with two ensuite (chemical) bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen area adjoining the lounge, with its seats upholstered in a rough tartan cloth…
    cont. p678

  128. mishari permalink*
    May 21, 2011 4:58 PM

    Thanks for popping in, Harold…and you so busy, what with being raptured and everything. Give my regards to Baby Jesus….

  129. Har0...oh...oh...oh....oh...oh...ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh permalink
    May 21, 2011 5:08 PM

    Just practising for the rapture.

  130. May 21, 2011 5:46 PM

    It’s 7.45pm here; I hate to disappoint but no sign of Rapture. I did consider standing outside the supermarket with a ‘Repent and ye shall be saved’ sign, but I couldn’t find one in Arabic. I wonder how much money Harold Camping made out of all this, and whether can he be sued?

    The late Auberon Waugh thought the cooking of hamburgers gave off noxious gases: so affecting the intelligence that inhalers were unable to tie their own shoelaces, speak proper English or identify, with reasonable accuracy, a selection of good clarets. This might explain the obtuseness of America southerners, and the more general readiness to give credence to such as Mr. Camping.

  131. mishari permalink*
    May 21, 2011 5:50 PM

    Well, if Harold can do it, so can you. Become an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. It’s completely free. Post-ordination, you can perform marriages, baptisms and predict the End Of The World with added gravitas. Deal of the century.

    Simon, according to The Indy:

    Mr Camping, a former civil engineer, preaches to hundreds of thousands of followers from the studios of Family Radio, a broadcaster funded entirely by the donations of listeners which has its headquarters between a burger restaurant and a car repair shop.

    Those noxious burger fumes have a lot to answer for…

    • May 21, 2011 6:16 PM

      Bingo! Waugh must be smiling in his Rapture.

  132. Harold Butlins Holiday Camp permalink
    May 21, 2011 6:11 PM

    I thought Heaven was going to be…I dunno…different

  133. Harold Campanologist permalink
    May 21, 2011 6:13 PM

    Bells…I hear bells…

  134. Harold Camping permalink
    May 21, 2011 6:24 PM

    6.15 p.m

    So not only have I reached Heaven but my house is Here as well. The furniture has survived its Heavenly trip remarkably well. If I look out my window ( the glass still miraculously intact. Praise the Lord!! ) I can see my neighbours.

    How kind of God to allow them to bring their lawn with them. They are such tireless tillers of the soil.

    How kind of Him as well to transport a variety of cars and lorries up Here which pass by in an endless stream much as they did back on Earth. The birds are Here too. I guess I’ll have to feed them on ambrosia.

    What’s that sound? Why it’s an ice cream van. God truly provides.

    I wonder what will be on my TV up Here? Let’s try it and see. Why it’s Inspector Morse. ITV 3 up here as well?


    • Har0...oh...oh...oh....oh...oh...ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh permalink
      May 21, 2011 6:50 PM


      I invited people for dinner, half hoping the world would end and I wouldn’t have to cook it. The closest I have come to apocalyptic disaster is burning my hand on the casserole dish and nearly dropping beef stroganoff all over the floor. I have to buck up my ideas now, put on my smiling face and try to disguise the fact I have a horrible hangover, reflected in my less than ambitious menu.

  135. Reine permalink
    May 21, 2011 6:51 PM

    Back to me, the rapture was shortlived.

    • May 21, 2011 7:19 PM

      I’m filing a Class Action breach-of-promise suit come Monday. Not that I expected to be gone by now but I was told that quite a few unbelievably-stupid fucks would.

    • Harold Campanologist permalink
      May 21, 2011 7:42 PM

      You and me both, brother. I thought I heard bells but it was balls. Dang! I sold my monster truck, my ole coon-hound, my 12-guage, my double-wide trailer, told my boss I’d screwed his wife and quit, punched a cop and maxed out my Visa card. I thought I was gonna get raptured; instead I got fucked. I’m converting to Islam…

    • May 21, 2011 8:05 PM

      “I’m converting to Islam…”

      The chicks are certainly better…

  136. Harold Camping permalink
    May 21, 2011 8:30 PM

    “The chicks are certainly better…”

    I beg to differ. Some of the “chicks” in the Universal Life Church have been known to stay up until 10.15 …………..p.m! That’s 10.15p.m in any place on Earth of course.

    They also play gin rummy for…get this!………matchsticks. You wouldn’t find that sort of carefree behaviour from the girls in any metropolitan homosexualist nightclub would you?

    Rumour has it that they read Darwin under the sheets at night too.

    The match is mine I believe but as Moses said it’s not the winning it’s the taking part.

    • May 21, 2011 10:21 PM

      well…. where can I sign up…?

    • Harold Camping permalink
      May 22, 2011 10:43 AM

      No need to sign up Mr. Augustine you just need to “believe”.

  137. May 21, 2011 8:59 PM

    Some mangled syntax and spelling in my post at 5:46 PM. I would ask the Ed to correct it, but I think these little errors should stand to remind us that even on Rapture Day we should take care to edit our posts, especially when we change our minds halfway through. Almost 11 PM here; 1 PM in California. If the Adhan doesn’t wake me at 4 AM as usual I’ll know something’s wrong. ‘Night.

  138. mishari permalink*
    May 21, 2011 9:54 PM

    Simon, you are forgiven, my son. I speak as a soon-to-be-ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. So let’s have a little less loose talk about the ladies who will soon be under my pastoral care, Ed–gin rummy and Darwin, indeed. I shall take a very firm line on doctrinal matters, believe you me…Yrs. Faithfully, The Very Reverend Mishari Al-Adwani D.D.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 21, 2011 11:28 PM

      I’m sure that’s incorrect. You must be the Al-Most Reverend &c…

  139. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 21, 2011 10:56 PM

    Over-precise details from an evangelical church
    Have left the Rapture in the lurch
    They should have stuck to vague predictions
    Blur the line between facts and fictions.
    Nothing a sceptic could rip to pieces
    To bolster up an anti-Rapture thesis
    But the Universal Life Church just blundered in
    Isn’t blundering in the eighth deadly sin?
    His hold on his flock is seriously diminished
    Pastor Camping is practically finished.

    Of heavenly help there’s a natural dearth
    Camping needs help from someone based on Earth
    He doesn’t need to look that far
    The world isn’t short of an unemployed PR
    To dodge the critics, big up God’s will
    Get back to mystification, the Church’s great skill.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 21, 2011 11:25 PM

      Grossly cynical, but highly polished.

  140. mishari permalink*
    May 21, 2011 11:10 PM

    You can blaspheme all you like, Ed, but we soon-to-be ordained ministers of The Universal Life Church forgive you. Furthermore, having done some very complicated long-division sums, I can now tell you that the Rapture will occur at 4 am on Nov. 20th, 2588…and you can take that to the bank.

    I expect Ryan Giggs to be a knucklehead but do his high-priced legal-beagles really have to have the US First Amendment explained to them?

    The President of The United States gets accused, on blogs, on air and in the press, of being everything from a Muslim terrorist to a socialist to an enemy of the US to a traitor to a foreigner…and there isn’t a damn thing he can do about it.

    Are Schillings really so dim that they imagine a US court is going to dispose of First Amendment protections just to please some philandering idiot of a British football player?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 21, 2011 11:21 PM

      No, but they’ll earn a shedload of cash.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 21, 2011 11:30 PM

      Under what I would call false pretences. Surely, any half-competent associate in the US will tell them in no uncertain terms that there is no case to answer under US law?
      Of course, they’ll skin Giggs, but fuck ‘im: he deserves it for not getting better advice; anyway, he can afford it.

  141. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 21, 2011 11:47 PM

    All true, but lawyers in the US have hours to bill as well: thorough investigation will certainly be necessary. It’s not totally cynical, either: new legal field, no precedents etc, there’s plenty of work to do there. I don’t suppose Giggs expected to be paying for it, though.

  142. hic8ubique permalink
    May 21, 2011 11:51 PM

    Pardon, Vicar, but what is a chemical bedroom, please?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 22, 2011 12:10 AM

      It’s where covalent bonding takes place.

  143. mishari permalink*
    May 22, 2011 7:24 AM

    So much for Armageddon. The sun’s shining, the birds are singing and the world’s still turning:

  144. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 22, 2011 11:50 AM

    … and Dave Cameron’s still PM, Man Utd are still Premier League champions and my TV reception is still pixillating. For me there’s a hint of disappointment in the non-arrival of Armageddon.

  145. Reine permalink
    May 22, 2011 12:16 PM

    I expected to be God’s new head girl by now resplendent in a flowing white dress (following the mix up where they sent Hic to hell and me to heaven). A polka dot nightie is a poor substitute.

    • Harold Camping It Up permalink
      May 22, 2011 12:20 PM

      Polka dot? You’re in fashion hell, darling!

    • Reine permalink
      May 22, 2011 12:27 PM

      You’re right HCIU, I just burned it. Oh my, it seems to be cold in here.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 22, 2011 1:23 PM

      Minx Up

      Reine at the Pearly Gate:
      “I hear the blessed sherry’s tasty
      and the negligees are sheer

      as long as I can stay up late,
      swan about in thong and pasties
      and shake my tambourine in here…?

      Said St. Pete: “There’s a vacancy
      in our Disco Angel Band;
      we’re always glad for such as ye
      to shimmy in and lend a hand.”

      “I’ll do it!” Reine said “on trial,
      but one thing more we must agree…
      I’ll send a contract with the details
      waivers and, of course, my fee.”

  146. Reine permalink
    May 22, 2011 1:53 PM


    Look, I’m not supposed to be here
    I’m the good girl of the two
    That “black cocks” thing was just a joke
    Hardly ventures into blue

    Reine’s in heaven? Oh sweet Jesus
    You must be kidding me
    Well they’ll pretty soon see through her
    With her double entenderie

    What do you mean God likes her?
    She recalls M. Magdalene?
    Well, that’s hardly surprising
    – And it’s REKNEE my dear not WREN

    Oh, I really need to sit down
    I can’t take much more of this
    I can’t believe I’m toasting
    While she’s wafting ’round in bliss

    (I know you would never be so churlish x)

    • Reine permalink
      May 22, 2011 1:56 PM

      A poem about me? Thanks Hic. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a thong… not a pretty sight. And what are “pasties” other than savoury filled pastry parcels?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 22, 2011 2:24 PM

      Ah, pronounced to rhyme with ‘tasty’, a burlesque accessory.
      They also make smooth ones that stick on to wear under backless dresses.

      I am indeed capable of high dudgeon, but never at you expense.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 22, 2011 2:26 PM

      oh! I didn’t expect that link to show up as if I were advertising them. egad.

    • Reine permalink
      May 22, 2011 2:40 PM

      Ah, I catch your drift now. I didn’t know that’s what they’re called. Laughed out loud at your inadvertent advert.

  147. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 22, 2011 6:11 PM

    I’ll wager the boss eyed those pasties with interest. He has the moobs for them (or so I’m told).

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 22, 2011 7:03 PM

      Other surgical priorities, I think (and not involving subcutaneous fat), of which I’d be gratified to hear an update…

      How are you in your recovery, Mishari? Three months survival and I begin to feel more assured you won’t rapture off without us.

      I’ll not be back til late. ~~Hej do

  148. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 22, 2011 7:00 PM

    I forgot to offer my commiserations to HLM, who I expect is drowning his sorrows (not literally, I hope) by the Solent. They’ll be back.

  149. May 22, 2011 7:37 PM

    I see the Guardian is disingenuously claiming that Harold Camping has made no money from Armaggedon:

    But there is a serious side. Camping seemed entirely genuine in his beliefs, enough to spend a small fortune promoting them. While others may be making money out of believing in Doomsday, Camping is not one of them. Many experts have worried about the psychological impact on his followers who are suddenly confronted with the collapse of their belief system.

    Yeah, right. And the collapse of their bank accounts too. From where does the Groan suppose Camping got the money for all that advertising? Religion: it’s a good business.

  150. mishari permalink*
    May 22, 2011 7:55 PM

    The last I read, Simon, Camping’s church had over $100 million in cash, not counting other assets (property, stocks, radio stations, aeroplanes etc etc). Not in it for the money, my aching arse…and for more WTFuckery:

    A white tiger in a field in Hedge End near Southampton caused police emergency measures until identified as a life-size toy

    Didn’t the alleged beast’s utter immobility sort of alert the flatfeet to the fact that it was a stuffed toy? Jesus….it’s heart-warming to see my taxes at work, though.

    …and then I discovered what this Libya nonsense is costing me (and you):

    …the cost to Britain so far of the dozens of bombs dropped, hundreds of sorties flown and more than 1,000 service personnel deployed is estimated at more than £100m, according to British defence officials.

    But defence economists have told the Guardian the costings are conservative. Francis Tusa, editor of the Defence Analysis newsletter, estimates that by the end of April Libyan operations had already cost the UK about £300m and that the bill was increasing by up to £38m a week.

    Military chiefs have acknowledged that the air campaign would last six months. At this rate, the Ministry of Defence’s own estimates will put the cost of war at about £400m, but the expert view is that the figure will top £1bn by September. –The Groan, today

    Aside from foaming at the mouth in uncontrollable fury, I’m fine, hic; thanks for asking. Back to my fighting weight and fit as a butcher’s dog. Bit stiff where bones have knitted and still a bit of oral surgery to do but aside from that, as good as new (sort of…). From now on, all black cabs and all Japanese tourists are my sworn enemies…

    Poor old HLM…perhaps I’ll get him those pasties to cheer him up…

  151. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 22, 2011 10:23 PM

    Thank you for your commiserations. I have no Ben & Jerry to hand; instead I shall have an official requiem self-indulgent lunch tomorrow with two (2) Waitrose slow-cooked steak & kidney pies from Heston Services. On the plus side, I’ll see them at Southampton again next season.

    Glad to see you’re all present and correct. Nobody I knew was raptured, in fact, though I’m hoping Vera might have been spirited away from some Tyne Tees TV back lot before attempting a new series.

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