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Turtles All The Way Down

May 22, 2011



William James (father of American psychology and brother of Henry James) is supposed to have had a conversation with an elderly lady who told him the Earth rested on the back of a huge turtle.

“But, my dear lady”, James asked, “what holds up the turtle?”

“Ah”, she said, “that’s easy. He is standing on the back of another turtle.”

“But would you be so good as to tell me what holds up the second turtle?”

“It’s no use, Professor”, said the lady, avoiding the logical trap. “It’s turtles, turtles, turtles, all the way down.” — Apocryphal

Many years ago, while in Delhi, India, I decided to visit the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan. At the time, Bhutan was wary of outsiders and allowed very few people to enter the country, bar a few ruthlessly organised and stringently controlled tour groups. Obviously, joining a ‘tour group’ was unacceptable; Mishari The Rebel, Mishari The Outsider, (Mishari The Fatuous Twit) joining the blue-rinse brigade to be chivvied and herded around the country with carefully planned stops for gawking and trinket-buying? I thought not.

So I visited the Indian Foreign Ministry (India, the regional super-power, handled Bhutan’s external affairs at the time and may well still do) to apply for a visa.

I was sent from office to office, in the usual Indian fashion of bureaucracy-gone-mad, until, after perhaps 4 fruitless hours, I ended up in the office of Mr. Reddy. Well-fleshed, dressed in immaculate white kurta and salwar, Mr. Reddy blinked owlishly behind his powerful spectacles as he scanned my various documents and the God-alone-knows-how-many forms I’d already filled in.

“My dear sir, you are wanting to go to Bhutan, isn’t it?”

It was, I confirmed.

“You are having return ticket?”

I was not having return ticket.

“Ah…is problem: you see, my dear sir, is not possible to be issuing visa without return ticket. When you are possessing return ticket, we will be issuing visa.”

So it was across town to Connaught Circus, to the offices of Indian Airlines (at the time, India’s internal carrier). After the usual hurry-up-and-wait rigmarole that accompanies a visit to any Indian office, I was seen by a ticket-agent.

“Gentleman, you are wanting to travel to Bhutan, isn’t it?”

I agreed that it was.

“Gentleman is having visa?”

Gentleman was not having visa.

He smiled triumphantly: “But you see, gentleman, ticket is impossible without visa–having visa, no problem; not having visa, big problem.”

I already knew enough about India to realise that protestations would be futile; I went in search of a drink instead. The next day found me wending my way from office wallah to office wallah in the direction of Mr. Reddy. Finally washing-up on his foreshore, I explained my predicament.

He tut-tutted like a man who’d had a lot of practice: “My dear sir, travel-clerk gentleman is mistaken: first, must be having ticket, then issuing visa…regulations, la…”. He nodded with satisfaction: the word ‘regulations’ acts as a powerful narcotic on Indian bureaucrats.

“Would it be possible to get a letter to that effect, Mr. Reddy?”

“Is not necessary, my dear sir. If travel-agent gentleman is requiring confirmation, telephone is there.”

And so, damp with sweat and irritation, I scooter-rickshawed my way back to Indian Airlines, where the same travel-agent gave me the same song-and-dance: no visa, no ticket. I pleaded with him to phone Mr. Reddy but Indian telephones being what they were (early 1970s) and Indian Ministries being what they were, he would have had more luck phoning Lord Krishna.

At this point, I got in touch with my embassy. The ambassador, a family friend, laughed at my predicament. “This is India, my boy. It’s how things are–better get used to it.” He did, however, get everything sorted out for me with a couple of phone calls.

When it’s turtles all the way down, it’s always best to go straight to the top turtles if you want to get anything done.

Verse on bureaucracy and bureaucrats, please.

  1. May 22, 2011 10:05 PM

    Another Theroux-esque (with a pinch of Chatwin) ripping yarn!

  2. May 22, 2011 10:10 PM

    (note: by scrolling the turtle-stack-image up and down, rapidly, one produces an hypnotic, semi-obscene animation)

    (hic: shhh!)

  3. mishari permalink*
    May 22, 2011 10:39 PM

    More vignette than yarn and knocked out in haste to give the troops something new to sink their teeth into…but thanks for the kind words.

    I do hope the girls avert their eyes when scrolling. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for their being corrupted…

    The president told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “I think what the Queen symbolises not just to Great Britain, but to the entire Commonwealth, and obviously the entire world, is the best of England. And we’re very proud of her.” —

    Really? ‘…the best of England…?’ In what respect? If Marr were any kind of real journalist, as opposed to an establishment poodle, he would have asked Obama exactly what he meant by that: some hope.

    • Reine permalink
      May 22, 2011 11:07 PM

      Too late. Are those Jewish turtles?

    • Reine permalink
      May 22, 2011 11:10 PM

      They should have sent Kirsty.

  4. Reine permalink
    May 22, 2011 10:56 PM

    Ivor G.

    A grey man in a grey suit
    He bypassed middle youth
    Went from teenager to gubernator
    With the stealth of a super sleuth

    His office, on the top floor,
    Told nothing of the man
    Save that he read a lot of files
    And liked a working fan

    It was his only fan, I fear
    No one spoke to him at all
    His view was panoramic
    But his desk it faced the wall

    He took his shoes off in the office
    To exercise his toes
    He clipped his nails on Tuesdays
    Before he sinus-washed his nose

    His briefcase had been a gift
    From his mother and his Gran
    On the day he joined the service
    The day he became a man

    He watched each one die in her turn
    And now he lived alone
    Ate tuna from a tin
    And hoped someone might phone

    This man who spent his days
    Ticking boxes, assessing claims
    Saw into the lives of others
    Their pleading faceless names

    But he longed someone to plead with him
    To take her in his arms
    Was it too late he wondered
    For a bureaucrat to learn some charm?

  5. mishari permalink*
    May 22, 2011 11:22 PM

    Jesus, but you’re quick; quality, too…

    • Reine permalink
      May 22, 2011 11:31 PM

      Thanks; the first one always comes quickly. Tough topic.

  6. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 22, 2011 11:46 PM

    Ring the number you get so many choices,
    A bureaucrat replaced by digital voices
    It’s difficult to accept they are talking to me
    When a computer asks me to press keypad three.
    This puts me through to some inane soft rock
    My temperature’s rising I’ll go off half-cock
    If a bloody human doesn’t answer the bloody phone
    And listen as I curse, rant, cuss, moan
    Confess I’ve forgotten what I’m ringing about
    My voice rising from a whisper to a shout.
    As complaints go though it isn’t much
    To talk to someone,anyone with a human touch.

    Now I feel such a fucking twat
    Mourning the absence of a bureaucrat.

  7. mishari permalink*
    May 22, 2011 11:59 PM

    A stylish and heartfelt jeremiad on modern alienation, Ed. We’ve all been there. Better Mr. Reddy than some electronic voice box telling you to ‘push 1’…

  8. May 23, 2011 12:20 AM

    obscurely related to the bureaucratic malaise, a soundtrack for your verses, yo …

  9. mishari permalink*
    May 23, 2011 12:44 AM

    Love Gil Scott-Heron.

    When people ask whether I’ve read this or that book, I’ve found that a safe answer is, “You know, I don’t read, I write.” That shuts them up. —Umberto Eco, The Groan, today

    They’re probably rendered speechless by an obviously intelligent man saying something so imbecilic.

  10. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 23, 2011 10:46 AM

    Armchair General

    The pencils stand in tidy groups
    like a disciplined army corps;
    a detachment of elite troops,
    the pens are marshalled in a drawer.

    The pritt sticks filling a casemate,
    erasers in their magazines,
    paperclips in a ready state;
    a formation of staplers gleams.

    Across this mighty arsenal
    a veil of dusty silence rests,
    this army’s four-star general
    slumbers quietly at his desk.

    If you pass through here, be discreet:
    please try not to giggle or cough,
    while this officer’s fast asleep
    we are probably better off.

  11. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 23, 2011 10:50 AM

    Disclaimer: I’m an admirer of bureaucracy, up to a point. Certainly much better than the free-for-all Cameron plans to unleash on us.

  12. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 23, 2011 10:56 AM

    All other things being equal, errors and omissions excepted, with due regard given to the parameters which bound this ‘blog’, I am minded to give a cautious welcome to the effusions of Reine and ET. This merely expresses a personal opinion and does not constitute a legally binding contract.

  13. May 23, 2011 11:33 AM

    MM Your comments are valuable to us please stay on the line.

  14. mishari permalink*
    May 23, 2011 11:38 AM

    Your comments are being recorded so that we may improve our services to you, the customer. Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…Thank you for waiting…a customer service representative will be with you shortly…

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 11:44 AM

      We will now play Greensleeves so many times you may want to kill yourself.

  15. Reine permalink
    May 23, 2011 12:41 PM


    His name was Brian
    He was a bollocks
    With a mouth like the arse of a mollusc

    He wore a brown coat
    To match his brown nose
    And he suffered from desperate halitose

    He worked in Brussels
    In the Commission
    A star of in-house television

    He handled interns
    Gave their induction
    Which quite often featured seduction

    I say seduction
    It was his version
    A kind of Berlaymont coercion

    He didn’t bank on
    The Commissioner’s daughter
    Leading him like a lamb to the slaughter

    Caught with his pants down
    Around his ankles
    The memory to this day still rankles

    His name is Brian
    He’s still a wanker
    He now teaches French to a banker

  16. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 23, 2011 1:54 PM

    I can’t read a poem of Reine’s now without hearing her voice. It’s most disconcerting.

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 2:09 PM

      Well, that is a worrying development.

      I am off work today because with all the Obama security and travel restrictions, I might have gotten into the office for about an hour before I would have had to head home again. Also, the child’s end of school grad ceremony is on this evening. He sheepishly wondered if we could keep the family representative cohort to two this year. “Ah Mam, nobody else had four bloody parents and a sibling there last year.” You can’t do right for doing wrong sometimes. I am allowed to go but must applaud quietly and refrain from any displays of teary-eyed pride.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 23, 2011 2:57 PM

      So he decided to retake? I hope it goes well.

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 4:11 PM

      He did, it’s been a good year for him. Thanks for your good wishes. He’s a lovely fella, just hope it will set him on a happy course.

    • May 23, 2011 8:12 PM

      It’s a damn good sound that voice makes…

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 9:46 PM

      Steven, you make my lilt feel totally tropical babe. Thanks.

  17. Reine permalink
    May 23, 2011 2:12 PM

    MM, your foreskin revelation may send a certain person over the edge with desire following her “sexy s.o.b” comments last week. Keep your wits about you.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 23, 2011 4:58 PM

      I’ve borrowed ET’s pitchfork.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      May 23, 2011 5:41 PM

      It won’t do the same job as a foreskin would do MM

  18. mishari permalink*
    May 23, 2011 2:26 PM

    I missed this story the first time around:

    Sir Mick Jagger has called for drugs to be legalised on the Isle of Man, in a bid to see whether illegal narcotics could be successfully decriminalised across the UK. —The Groan, May 20, 2010

    Oh, I’ll bet that went down a treat on an island where they only stopped birching people recently.

  19. mishari permalink*
    May 23, 2011 5:24 PM

    I see that Ryan Giggs attempt to stop people talking about his adultery with a Big Brother person has blown a gasket. The fact is, I never would have taken the slightest notice of him or his seedy carryings-on had it not been for his attempt to gag people. Idiot. Poor Schillings: I guess there’s one fat fee they can kiss goodbye…

  20. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 23, 2011 6:07 PM

    G*gg*ng f*r a c*l*br*ty

    I’m just a nobody
    Wannabe somebody
    I find a Big Brother
    To help me along

    I shag a somebody
    By flaunting my body
    He tries a Big Smother
    It helps me prolong

    My time in the public eye
    My day in the Sun
    I’ll hide all my sarcomae
    Beneath my fake tan

    I’m a good-looking minger
    With the sense to get real
    When you tackle a winger
    Make sure he feels a heel

  21. Captain Ned permalink
    May 23, 2011 8:41 PM

    What is it with your country, Reine? First the Queen, now Obama; don’t you know how to keep the riff-raff out? Obviously not, what with Enda Kenny bawling of his distinguished guest: ‘He IS the American Dream’. Pass the sick bag.

    Missed the boat to put this on the last thread, so it goes here. The description of a certain popular practice is probably woefully inaccurate, being based on memories of watching Trainspotting; I apologize to any genuine connoisseurs out there.


    Now, what you really need first is a spoon.
    Not a fork or toothpick; you’d be a loon
    To think either of those would do the trick,
    So try not to be quite so fucking thick.
    You’ll also need a cooker of some kind.
    I think Agas are lovely, but don’t mind
    If they’re too expensive for filth like you;
    Any old rusty camping stove will do,
    Or, for total scumbags, an open fire.
    The sole ingredient you require
    Is, of course, some finest quality skag;
    Make sure you don’t buy from any old hag
    Or hobo. You should be prepared to steal
    If you don’t have enough to close the deal.
    Getting hold of the best can be a chore
    (Sadly, Sainsbury’s don’t yet have it in store),
    But as impurities can fuck you up,
    It’s worth it. You might also want a cup
    Of water at hand, and a towel, in case
    You start being sick all over the place.
    You’ll definitely need a syringe, which
    I like to re-use at Christmas for rich
    Fruity cakes to be laced with lots of booze
    And LSD to beat those winter blues.
    A belt’s the other must-have piece of kit.
    As soon as you’re ready, you heat the shit,
    And when it’s all nice and hot and bubbly
    (Or as Del Boy would say, ‘lovely jubbly’),
    Into the syringe it goes, just like that.
    Once it’s cooled, belt up and select a fat,
    Throbbing vein about halfway up your arm,
    Take the needle (it won’t do any harm)
    And gently stick it in. Not long to go
    Before you feel the hit, but take it slow;
    No need to rush that perfect plunger down.
    And when it comes… Oh Christ, you bloody drown!
    Oobyoobyaaaahh… God, that’s fucking good!
    That’s a three-course meal with a wicked pud!
    Whooooh there, Norwich! What a fantastic goal!
    I’m a sparkly mole in a sparkly hole!
    Oh, let me dream like this and never wake!
    Well… that’s that… time for lemon drizzle cake.

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 9:44 PM

      We are either proselytising or prostituting Ned, not sure which. The underlying theme is flashing euro signs, reaping what we sow and all that jazz. Enda, like Delia, is working his perma-grin.

      Peace, man.

  22. mishari permalink*
    May 23, 2011 8:58 PM

    In honour of Ned’s cracking verse:

  23. Reine permalink
    May 23, 2011 10:45 PM

    Parliamentary privilege is such a tricky matter… is Hemming doing a public service or just raising his profile?

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 10:50 PM

      Prescott on Newsnight looking like he might give PCC woman, Lady Buscombe, a slap. V amusing.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 23, 2011 10:55 PM

      His profile is fairly high already:

      ‘Shortly after his election in 2005, he made headlines when it was revealed that he was the father of a child with his personal assistant and fellow councillor Emily Cox, though he would stay with his wife and her three children. His wife Christine commented that she forgave him and is standing by him, as he has always been honest about his extramarital affairs, of which she said this was “about number 26”.[20][21] Following the publication of details of the affairs, Hemming voted for himself for the News of the World’s ‘Love Rat of the Year’ competition.[22] In 2010, his wife appeared in court charged with stealing his mistress’s cat.[18]’

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 11:00 PM

      Well, he has completely passed me by. The bastard.

  24. mishari permalink*
    May 23, 2011 10:51 PM

    I think he’s pointing out (quite reasonably) that an unenforceable law is a bad law. I mean, are they really going to prosecute 10s of thousands of people (including me) who revealed Gigg’s identity? It’s an absurdity.

    I think there are instances where a case can be made for an injunction of this sort (albeit, less draconian) but this wasn’t one of them: Giggs should just learn to keep his pecker in his pants. I look forward to the football chants that will inevitably follow.

    For seven years Moses Peter has been running through his repertoire on the seafront road between Torquay and Paignton in Devon. Carrying a black staff, he walks up and down the A3022 or sits on a bench or the sea wall and waves at the passing traffic

    Moses says he began to wave after bumping into a man who asked him where the first seed for the first tree came from. “That set me thinking . . . what’s it all about?” —The Groan, today

    What, indeed.

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 10:57 PM

      I agree the Giggs thing is daft and there was a serious case to be made against the injunction. Just wondering how motivated by principle Hemming is; having 166 Members of my own to keep track of in the Lower House, I don’t know anything of him. Privilege can be a tongue loosening tool not always for the good.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      May 24, 2011 9:19 AM

      Twitter just highlights the essential redundancy of the West I think.

      The Iranians or Egyptians used it to bypass state media in order to get a rebellious message across whereas over here it’s a medium for gossip so people can speculate on the affairs of people that they don’t know.

      I wonder how many OC Twitterers now put spam filters on what they get back given the general public’s propensity to not play the game?

      So far from being a democratic medium Twitter becomes an endless list of edicts uttered by Stephen Fry/ John Prescott/whoever with no opportunity available to respond to them.

      Or your response #why would I be interested in what cafe you drank in this morning Mr. Fry you gobshite tosspot tell me something interesting or shut the fuck up # goes straight in the bin.

      I wouldn’t want death threats, mindless abuse coming back to me either but then again I’m not in the slightest bit interested in Twitter.

      it used to be that if you said something offensive whilst drunk in the pub you’d only need to apologise to the 3 people who were with you at the time. Now it seems you have to apologise to the 35,000 people who are “following” you and your indiscretion becomes national news. What a complete waste of time but to a celeb who needs to keep a high profile that’s probably the point of it.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 24, 2011 9:41 AM

      I take your point, Ed and on the whole, agree with you. I’ve never Tweeted nor read a Twitter feed, regarding it as just another manifestation of the internet’s endless ability to cater to egomaniacs, but when I was alerted that Judd Apatow had Tweeted a link to a PH music video, I went and had a look at his Twitter feed.

      I was actually quite pleasantly surprised: it was a genuine dialogue between the actor/producer and his followers/fans: they asked questions and he answered; they asked about future projects and made suggestions and he considered what they said and replied; they asked and gave opinions on the work of his contemporaries and he weighed in; it wasn’t what I’d expected.

      Having said that, I suspect this is an exception to the rule and most of Twitter (in the West, at least) is of the Stephen Fry-what-I-had-for-breakfast variety.

      But it need not necessarily be…

    • May 24, 2011 10:42 AM

      One of the carbon-based Whalley Range All Stars performing units follows Armando Ianucci on Twitter and enjoys the feeds.

      I suspect it depends on who is Tweeting and the size of their ego.

      Incidentally my muesli was very dissappointing this morning. An unequal balance of fruit and grain I’m forming an online petition to complain about it.

      Go to www, and join me on this IMPORTANT campaign.

  25. mishari permalink*
    May 23, 2011 11:01 PM

    Of Hemmings, I know nothing (although MM’s post makes him sound like a bit of a rascal); I work on the assumption that all politicians are the scum of the earth until I see evidence to the contrary,,,

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2011 11:03 PM

      It’s a good base line. It’s unfortunate that the system often militates against decent people of integrity and intelligence getting to the top. My heart and mind pretty calcified towards the lot of them.

  26. O'Wanker permalink
    May 24, 2011 1:26 AM

    Getting on to the Irish thing. These fuckers are a hoot. The most up-their-own-arse self-involved ‘race’ of luvvies going. All the ‘celebrity’ Irish arseholes going were lining up to lick Her Majesty’s hole, and now Obama. A huge wave of propaganda, forget you the bill’s gonna be a 1/4 of a trill, babes, coz guess what? We’re all fucking lovely paddies who, you know, didlle eye doddle and fuck the peasants, coz Enda and Olivia O’leary do not give a flying fuck about the average ‘Paddy’ owing 150,000 euro each to bail out good ole Seanie and the rest.

    Smoke and mirrors, bend to her maj, lick O’Bamma’s ass and forget who is paying.

    Us the mugs.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 8:25 AM

      You won’t be applying for any jobs in the diplomatic corps OW, I’m guessing.

    • May 24, 2011 11:52 AM

      Oh, c’mon, the Irish are merely grateful that they’re the devastated victims of Economic Warfare but haven’t had US GOV INC send in the predator drones yet. Wouldn’t you rather starve than have yer bits blown off? I would!

  27. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 9:00 AM

    William and Kate to greet ObamasHeadline in today’s Groan

    Tells you all you need to know: this isn’t politics; it’s Hello! Magazine writ large…

  28. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 9:03 AM

    Harold Camping, architect of Saturday’s dramatic events in which Judgment Day came and went without so much as an earthquake, has revealed what went wrong. He took to his show on his network Family Radio to reveal the simple truth: the Apocalypse was imminent, he’d just got it out by five months. So now the world is going to end – really and truly this time – on 21 October. —The Groan, today

    You’ve got to hand it to Harry: he’s got more front than the Albert Hall….

    • May 24, 2011 11:57 AM

      I predict that Judgment Day is indeed coming… for Harold Camping. Suggestion for Harry: remove all disgruntled-disciple-hiding topiary from the acres surrounding your mansion.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 24, 2011 12:28 PM

      You’ve got to laugh at the ‘…architect of Saturday’s dramatic events…’

      Surely, Harry’s problem was the singular lack of any ‘dramatic events’. Good thing he didn’t give away that $120 million…

  29. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 24, 2011 9:51 AM

    # for breakfast today I had Rice Crispies followed by toast with marmalade and three cups of tea#

  30. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 10:08 AM

    #my cat just farted#

    Someone has rather wittily suggested that super-injunctions be called ‘Gigging orders’ from now on…

  31. Reine permalink
    May 24, 2011 10:57 AM

    #has just come from a meeting where the word “descriptors” was overused; gigging for a coffee now#

  32. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 11:00 AM

    ‘Descriptors’? Is that a cack-handed way of saying ‘adjective’?

    The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said fuel rods in two more reactors were likely to have suffered a meltdown soon after they were crippled by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami in north-east Japan.

    Confirmation by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) that fuel in the cores of reactors 2 and 3 had melted came days after new data confirmed a similar meltdown in reactor 1 about 16 hours after the disaster.

    The utility, which last week suffered the biggest annual loss by any Japanese firm outside the financial sector, said most of the melted fuel in all three reactors was covered in water and did not threaten to compound the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

    The temperature of the fuel rods, which are believed to have melted and settled at the bottom of flooded reactor pressure vessels, remained well below dangerous levels, the company said.

    “It is unlikely that the meltdowns will worsen the crisis because the melted fuel is covered in water,” said a Tepco spokesman, Takeo Iwamoto. —The Groan, today

    A company spokesman says there’s nothing to worry about. Well, that’s reasssuring…

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:06 AM

      management jargon for performance indicators, not so much adjectival as aspirational, like my wish to win the lottery and buy a pied-à-terre in Tuscany.

  33. Reine permalink
    May 24, 2011 1:02 PM


    PAYE Anytime
    Welcomes me gaily
    Keeps me apprised of
    My tax status daily

    Tells me I may qualify
    For a S.P.A.
    Sadly not one with steam rooms
    More the absence of Da

    Then again, it reminds me
    If I’ve shacked up since
    It behoves me to come clean
    My credits to rinse

    And if I have deigned
    To marry such a one
    Then de facto my child
    Becomes his step-son

    But pause here, Ms, please
    We have three names for you
    Which one should we use
    For we haven’t a clue?

    Your PPS number
    You should memorise
    A mere hesitation
    Bespeaks taxable lies

    We’ll send our inspector
    Out to investigate
    If your tax return statement
    Is over two weeks late

    Do you have extra income?
    From poems perhaps?
    Or as a high class escort
    To lonely old chaps?

    We have to ask Ms
    Just ticking the boxes
    And making sure no one
    Attempts to outfox us

    Well, that seems to be it
    You are now up to date
    Thanks for logging on
    Close the virtual gate

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 24, 2011 3:57 PM

      That’s good. You’re setting a cracking pace.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 4:19 PM

      Spurred on by coffee intake. See below.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2011 5:29 PM

      Yes, I’m winded just keeping up reading them, never mind making anything myself.
      I especially like ‘boxes/ fox us’.
      Absolutely could see you in your glory in a Tuscan setting, Re.

  34. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 24, 2011 1:32 PM


    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 24, 2011 3:55 PM

      Health foods, eh? Nothing but Sugar Puffs and Frosties passed my lips until 1995, when my teeth started to go the other way. Rice Crispies, I find, are balanced on the line between sweet self-indulgence and bitter body fascism.

  35. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 4:07 PM

    For breakfast, I had falafel and salad with pitta bread (rich with seeds and bran) and olives. Made it all myself, too (except the olives, obviously). You’re digging your grave with a soup-spoon, MM….packaged breakfast cereals are poison.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 4:16 PM

      Turtle soup.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 4:18 PM

      Just kiddin’, granola, blueberries and yoghurt and eight cups of coffee.

  36. May 24, 2011 4:22 PM

    Hippie muesli soaked overnight in apple-juice then mixed with yoghurt does for me. I discovered this method of eating muesli in the adopted land of Augustine several years ago.

    A German friend soaks it in grape juice and adds shavings of fresh apple and blueberries.

    I couldn’t imagine falafel and salad for breakfast. Cultural conditioning on my behalf entirely. When I worked in Taiwan the hotel offered sweet and sour pork with chilli and noodles for breakfast. That was difficult to negotiate.

    In the Taipei restaurants you order a load of dishes which arrive when they are cooked rather than in any entree, main-meal, pudding order. Again due to cultural conditioning ( phrase of the day ) all of the Pig touring team found it difficult to tackle the soup if it arrived after say a noodle or pork dish. Nothing to do with the taste just that soup occupies a particular place in a meal for Westerners.

    A bit of a shock to find youyrself so dogmatic.

    • May 24, 2011 5:48 PM

      “Hippie muesli soaked overnight in apple-juice then mixed with yoghurt does for me. I discovered this method of eating muesli in the adopted land of Augustine several years ago. ”

      ET, why not go all the way and leave your butter continuously unrefrigerated on the breakfast table all summer, translucent at the edges and dark at its core… while saving money on spaghetti sauce with generic ketchup, no matter how high your income is? That sort of thing.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2011 6:08 PM

      That’s revolting, StA.

      I understand your sequencing bias, EdT, having watched my grandfather’s rigid horror at the arrival of salad at the ‘wrong’ time, dismay at the failure to serve a soup, or aggrieved scowling at the absence of hot custard on the dessert.
      My Dad, however, would just ignore an early arriving salad til he was ready for it.

      I’ve never seen my husband begin a weekday without eggs and toast. Some people really do need their food to be ritualised.
      All that intensity has had the opposite effect on me. I’ve become freely adaptable, though (oddly) I do strongly favour fruit pie for breakfast once in a while.

  37. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 4:37 PM

    You’ve never eaten last night’s left-over pizza for breakfast, Ed? Or last night’s ditto Chinese/Indian/Vietnamese? Man, you haven’t lived….

  38. hic8ubique permalink
    May 24, 2011 5:26 PM

    Today, I had my favourite sort of granola bar (didn’t make it myself) :
    rolled oats, brown rice syrup, honey, canola oil, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, cashews, barley malt, almonds, cranberries, raisins, dried cherries, dried apricots, vanilla extract… and two double espressos (espressi??).

    For elevenses: hemp protein and spirulina mixed in diluted grapefruit juice…
    Be kind, Mowbray, I wouldn’t admit this to just anyone.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 5:57 PM

      OMG. I was operating on the basis that the blueberries would cancel out the bottle of wine I drank last night. I really need to up my game.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2011 6:10 PM

      antioxidants in both, if it was red :)

  39. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 5:39 PM

    ‘…hemp protein and spirulina mixed in diluted grapefruit juice…’? Oh, dear oh dear oh dear….it doesn’t even sound like food.

    One of the download sites I frequent is offering a videogame called–I kid you not–Supermarket Management and it’s exactly what it says: you get to play at managing a supermarket.

    I don’t get this it all. I can see the point of the kind of stuff my boys play–Grand Theft Auto, Halo, all those games: they’re well-designed, involving, noisy, fast-paced and violent. But who in God’s name is ‘Supermarket Management’ aimed at?

    I mean, if your idea of fun is managing a supermarket, you might want to consider getting a job as a erm…y’ know…an actual supermarket manager. Baffling.

  40. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 24, 2011 5:59 PM

    Playing a game about managing a supermarket is the closest most people will get to work in this economic climate I should think.

    Soon there will be Laurence Croft – Motorway Services Petrol Station Cashier games as well as Ordinary Mario – Corner Shop Shelf Stacker.

  41. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 7:32 PM

    A wealthy British financier is seeking to have his sister-in-law secretly jailed in a libel case, in the latest escalation of the controversy over superinjunctions and the internet, the Guardian can disclose.

    The financier, who can be known only as “the Hon Mr Zam”, claims his sister-in-law is linked to foreign internet postings that reveal that he obtained an injunction against her in the high court.–The Groan, today

    The utter futility of these ‘super-useless injunctions’ is further demonstrated by the fact that it took me all of 2 seconds to find out who ‘The Hon Mr. Zam’ is…on wikipedia, for Christ’s sake.

    It’s become farcical.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2011 7:43 PM

      Baron Hemphill? … Oh, dear oh dear oh dear….it doesn’t even sound like a person.

  42. May 24, 2011 8:35 PM


  43. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 8:40 PM

    Touché, hic….

    Relax, Steverino….Tepco spokesman, Takeo Iwamoto says everything’s copacetic and…like…he’d know, right? You worry too much….

  44. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 8:53 PM

    Jesus, Helen…don’t eat European food? Don’t eat food for 600 years? What am I supposed to do? I don’t mind fasting but there are limits…

  45. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 24, 2011 8:58 PM

    Mishari from what Steven has written above you’re better off not eating German food at least.

    In fact a plate of nuclear fission sounds positive;y healthy in comparison.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 24, 2011 10:17 PM

      That minced beef and cream cheese soup my kid’s German gf made for us still lingers in the memory. You could have greased a fleet of lorries with the stuff floating on the surface..

    • mishari permalink*
      May 24, 2011 10:27 PM

      I think the most peculiar concoction I ever ate was in the household of a work colleague in the US. I was working for a small film production company and our story-board artist invited the boss (my closest friend at the time) and myself to dinner.

      His pretty young wife (he’d only recently married) brought a casserole dish to the table and served us this very odd smelling stuff. It was, from the top layer down: melted cheese; bananas (sliced); whitefish; Ritz saltines (a bit like Carr’s Table Water Biscuits); another layer of melted cheese and a bottom layer of bananas. I’ve never seen the like before or since.

      I suspect she got the recipe out of one of those women’s magazines (edited by men) where they insert these things as a joke.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:06 PM

      Chicken in evostik sauce served one lunchtime at a restaurant in Dieppe is the strangest meal I ever ate.

      Something to do with too much tarragon but mainly because the sauce covering the chicken looked and tasted like evostik.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:14 PM

      Sounds like the standard chicken dish chez Mowbray circa 1974.

      That banana and cheese dish is truly repulsive.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:40 PM

      Lambs’ kidneys in a marsala and cream sauce, which had formed a skin, at a posh friend’s house years ago served with a side dish of boiled celery … Christ, even the memory is making me retch.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:49 PM

      Ewwww, Reine!

      a shrivelled black jerusalem artichoke.
      Looked like…
      smelled worse…
      never returned to that restaurant.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:54 PM

      Eeeeewwww Hic.

      A restaurant? I thought you were recalling a date.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:55 PM

      For me, the After Eight mousse still wears the crown.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:57 PM

      I was indeed on a date, um , out on a date, dining… but no, the artichoke item was actually served in a restaurant.

  46. Captain Ned permalink
    May 24, 2011 10:02 PM

    This file is restricted.
    It is clearly marked ‘Restricted’.
    You are not permitted to look at this file.
    You are not permitted to be aware of its existence.
    Why are you looking at this file?

    This label marked ‘Restricted’ is restricted.
    It is clearly marked ‘Restricted’.
    You are not permitted to look at this label.
    You are not permitted to be aware of its existence.
    Why are you looking at this label?

    I am restricted.
    I am clearly marked ‘Restricted’.
    You are not permitted to look at me.
    You are not permitted to be aware of my existence.
    Why are you looking at me?

  47. Captain Ned permalink
    May 24, 2011 10:06 PM

    Mishari, could you correct the spelling of the word ‘marked’ in the first two stanzas? Thank you.

    In the Standard today, Sarah Sands described Obama’s praise of the Queen as ‘heart-melting’. She would have been right had she written ‘brain-melting’.

  48. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 24, 2011 10:10 PM


    Take dictation, Miss Smith… umm, first of all
    let me say how nice you’re looking today
    comma you know when I watch you take a call
    you rub your ear in the most endearing way

    full stop I love your splendid silhouette
    comma your shining dark disordered hair
    and when you bend at the filing cabinet
    your truly exquisite derriere

    full stop my wife doesn’t understand me
    I’m a complex guy kind and generous
    perhaps we could go out one night if you’re free

    I feel there’s a real connection between us
    with you I could make another life
    oh Miss Smith please put down that paperknife


    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 10:16 PM

      Bravissimo Ned, MM – the commendation as opposed to the lingerie. “A lorra laffs” as Cilla might say.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:05 PM

      Thanks. I was unaware of the lingerie. It must have taken a good few brainstorming sessions to come up with that pun.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:32 PM

      Indeed. Elixir, Fantasie, Coups de Foudre … hard to know what the inspiration is…

      Lejaby, one of the leading brands, sounds like a transposed version of “leibide” (lebidgeah), which is an Irish word for a clumsy fool, otherwise called a tit.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:39 PM

      It’s pun heaven but I must be strong.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:41 PM

      Inspired, MM; how did I miss this one?
      and how have I missed all these unmentionables?…

      Eurch. All those wasted years in a sports bra.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:42 PM

      Gird your loins MM, take a firm grip of the pitchfork.

  49. Reine permalink
    May 24, 2011 10:12 PM

    My four year old niece has “written” a picture book, which she narrated to her mother from the back seat on the drive home from school. Repeated to me breathlessly with frantic page turning sounds on the phone earlier – “I made a book Reeeeeneeee”. A kind of morality tale it seems:

    “Nine pinguins (sic) were walking on the sky ’cause they wanted to touch the sun. They got to the sun and touched it and it was very hot and they all got dead. Then some peoples were walking on the sky and they saw the pinguins and they were sad. One of them said, “I know, let’s give the pinguins water” and they did and the pinguins came alive again but the mammy pinguin said “never touch the sun again”. And then a boulder fell on them.”

    • mishari permalink*
      May 24, 2011 10:19 PM

      Awwww…how sweet; mind you, the moral seems to be: you just can’t win…which, come to think of it, is pretty advanced (albeit a touch cynical) for a four year-old.

    • Reine permalink
      May 24, 2011 10:31 PM

      She is quite adorably mad.

  50. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 10:53 PM

    Further to your Helen Caldicott vid, Steven, you might want to cheer yourself up further with this Counterpunch piece. Apparently, red wine and chocolate offer some protection…it’s an ill-wind….

    • May 24, 2011 11:41 PM

      Never had more than two (bitter) sips of alcohol in my life, M, but I do like the 70%-cocoa chocolate (Wife prefers 80-85%). Logically speaking, however, in light of Helen C.’s news, I think I’ll be switching back to Snickers bars and Rootbeer floats and trying some coke, e and heroin for the fuck of it, too. I’ve always wanted to see Beirut…

  51. Captain Ned permalink
    May 24, 2011 10:53 PM

    Your niece sounds as if she could be the next Daisy Ashford, Reine. That little fable is brilliant.


    Those EU Nazis, they take the biscuit.
    They probably will one day, as well.
    Take away our traditional God-given English biscuits.
    Human Rights or something, I expect.
    Health and Safety regulations.
    Health and Safety?
    Don’t make me laugh.
    Political correctness gone mad,
    that’s what I call it.
    They’re the ones behind the speed cameras.
    And the traffic wardens.
    You see, our dear old British government is only a servant
    of its masters in Brussels,
    or is it Strasbourg?
    And you can’t say what you want
    about immigrants, either.
    That would break their rules on bananas,
    And their little smoking ban,
    which is such a big help to those
    thieving Spanish fishermen.
    Not to mention the Icelandics.
    Oh, don’t you believe they’re not in the EU.
    That’s just what we’re told.
    That’s what we’re supposed to believe.
    But what about that ash cloud,
    that’s what I want to know?
    Who’s on that particular gravy train?
    Pigs with their snouts in the trough,
    robbing us poor hardworking taxpayers,
    putting up the price of petrol,
    taking down our Union Jacks
    and building fairtrade lesbian mosques on the graves
    of our brave boys in Turkmenistan.
    Bring back the grammar schools,
    that’s what I say.
    What this country needs
    is some decent education.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:02 PM

      Glad you’ve got it all in perspective Captain Ned.

      Can we help?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:32 PM

      Excellent, Capt.
      My own cousin (Hayes, Middx) couldn’t have said it as well, but he’d have meant every word.

      ‘fairtrade lesbian mosques’ … too juicy to appreciate all at once :D

    • May 26, 2011 9:49 PM

      Even by the High Standards set by the PH crowd (except me, of course) that was good, Capt.

  52. hic8ubique permalink
    May 24, 2011 10:55 PM

    Four-yr-olds are the best of human company, present company excepted. [display of manners]
    An excellent parable. I hope she’s getting tincture of iodine…
    Helen Caldecott seems to be trying to get the attention of some colleagues who can scarcely be bothered to hold their heads up, which might explain her incoherent and gratuitous smiling.

    I’d take exception to her telling people to take potassium iodide (KI) tablets. They are to be kept in store for emergency fallout events, (so yes if you’re in Japan) but I believe they aren’t appropriate for chronic low level exposure, such as most of the rest of us in the northern hemisphere are getting now.

    The other problem is her saying there’s ‘nothing we can do’. Well, that’s true about the state of Fukushima, but too fatalistic in terms of what individuals can do to decontaminate our bodies to minimise cellular damage.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 24, 2011 11:17 PM

      Sugar Puffs are very good for radiation exposure. Or so I’m told.

  53. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 24, 2011 11:21 PM

    Do you eat them MM or construct a bunker using them as tiny bricks?

  54. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 24, 2011 11:35 PM

    Eating them is their secondary use: because of their highly adhesive properties nuclear technicians roll naked in large vats of them in order to acquire a protective coating before handling radioactive materials. After use the cereal is disposed of in vitrified Puffblocks. There is no truth in the rumour that they are put in packets and sold in cut-price supermarkets. Or so I’m told.

  55. mishari permalink*
    May 24, 2011 11:38 PM

    It’s a little-known fact that Sugar Puffs are made from lead-coated asbestos, hence their radiation defeating properties. Sadly, they’re ineffective against kryptonite, as I’ve discovered to my cost…

  56. Reine permalink
    May 24, 2011 11:46 PM

    There’s just too much fun here tonight; my Lejaby is shaking violently.

  57. InvisibleJack permalink
    May 24, 2011 11:57 PM

    Hi my fellow Homicidals,

    I’ve been run aground of late, (between writing, teaching, editing, fighting and growing old), and hence my long absence. Good to see you’re all still here and that there’s a refuge for poor damaged Jack to come back to.

    I’m off to London in the morning, so I won’t get to post any new poetry until my return in a week or two. In the meantime, all I can offer is a piece I penned yesterday evening as a personal distraction. If you don’t hate it too much, Mish, then perhaps you’d consider it for posting or pasting to Perp Walk. I’ll root it out from my computer and post it here in a mo. It has nothing to do, however, with either bureaucracy or sugar puffs.

    Yours, as always
    Jack Brae

  58. InvisibleJack permalink
    May 25, 2011 12:04 AM

    Lament For the Cat That Held the Rats at Bay
    by Mei Yaochen (1002 – 1060)

    Version from the Chinese by Jack Brae Curtingstall

    Miaow no more, Five Spots my cat;
    You cleared my rooms of mouse and rat.
    This dreary, dull and dewy dawn
    (your passing marked with rice and prawn)
    I dropped you in the river’s green,
    forever mine but now unseen;
    remembered all the rats you ate,
    their entrails strewn down by the gate;
    a charm you claimed that marked the bounds
    of rat-free manor, house and grounds.
    We’d sleep within this barge of ours,
    your cat’s miaow and claw your powers
    to keep my grain stores free of piss;
    those rats forewarned by kitty’s hiss.
    Protector of all that is mine,
    worth more than all my hens and swine;
    worth more than any colt or mare
    upon which all my neighbours swear.
    But why complain to Heaven’s ears?
    These stains of salt prove all my tears.

  59. InvisibleJack permalink
    May 25, 2011 12:06 AM

    Oh dear, my head is poor indeed.

    Misspelled my own name in that last post:
    should be Jack Brae Curtingstall

    I’m off to bed, got a plane to catch in the morning…

  60. mishari permalink*
    May 25, 2011 12:13 AM

    Glad to hear you’re still alive and kicking, Jack. I was just thinking of you the other day. I’ll happily post your poem to Perp Walk just as soon as I find a suitable image. As they all seem to be so good at it (and I need some inspiration myself) perhaps I’ll set another translation task for the inmates…

  61. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 25, 2011 12:32 AM

    Good to see you, Jack.

    assez de rit
    je vais au lit

    • Reine permalink
      May 25, 2011 8:43 AM

      Le rire est mort dans la nuit et maintenant je dois mettre ma fantaisie pour faire face au jour. En avant et en haut!

  62. Captain Ned permalink
    May 25, 2011 12:42 AM

    Welcome back, Jack.


    I collect eternity’s receipts.
    They are spiked on an infinite obelisk.

    I enforce the regulation of tides and stars.
    I frustrate the vanity of mountains.
    The brash whirr of impossible machines
    spurs me to new ruthlessnesses.

    I am wild.
    I am a hairy man.
    My brother is a smooth man,
    but he shall be made hairy.

    I am a hairy man

    I am hairy

  63. mishari permalink*
    May 25, 2011 7:48 AM

    Terrific, Ned: the Old Testament meets the Dept. of Weights and Measures.

    Jack’s poem is up on Perp Walk

    • Reine permalink
      May 25, 2011 8:20 AM

      Hello Jack, happy to see your primose hue back on the block.

      Ned, that last is a gem.

  64. mishari permalink*
    May 25, 2011 9:20 AM

    The Danes have banned Marmite.

    In retaliation, I’m banning all the Danish culinary delicacies that so often appear in my kitchen, like…erm…..uh…..tumbleweed blows down deserted street; crickets chirp; coyote howls at the moon…..

  65. Reine permalink
    May 25, 2011 10:51 AM


    Mary loved her job
    With her sensible bob
    And her no-nipple view slip
    She dressed for the job
    And ran a tight ship

    On Mondays, she wore a black dress to the knee
    On Tuesdays, a brown suit of tweed by Magee
    On Wednesdays, a white blouse, starched, and navy skirt
    On Thursdays, a worsted wool dress, prim and pert
    Mary didn’t work Fridays

    No, on Fridays Mary let her hair down
    That is to say she ditched the wig
    Let her curls tumble from her crown
    Breakfasted on parma ham and fig

    Her lover called round every Friday at noon
    With a stationery bag and a new wooden spoon
    And dear friends, if you saw what he did you would gape
    …At poor Mary, spreadeagled, tied up in red tape

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 25, 2011 11:09 AM

      I’m not going to ask about the spoon.

  66. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 25, 2011 11:07 AM

    #Danish bacon, Danish pork, Danish blue cheese, Danish salami, Danish pastry. A fairly typical Mowbray breakfast#

    Someone sent me this today:

    Writing my aphorism last night brought to mind the gorgeous French exchange student I wrote a poem to en francais when I was fifteen. I presented it to her with a quivering hand and a yearning heart. She read it snickering and explained at great length that rhyming in French is quite different to English, something I was unaware of at the time. I was crushed. She started seeing my best friend shortly afterwards: a really brutal form of literary criticism.

  67. Reine permalink
    May 25, 2011 11:24 AM

    LOL Mowbs. Her loss was Mrs. M’s gain although probably not immediately.

    (The wooden spoon was a rhyming necessity. He may have used it afterwards to make a restorative bouillabaisse for lunch.)

  68. mishari permalink*
    May 25, 2011 11:31 AM

    The Frogs just do it to be difficult….

    I use none of the Danish products you list: bacon and pork (what little we eat) I buy English (or Irish; they have some nice bacon); blue cheeses–English, French and Italian; Salami–Italian.

    The Danes can fuck off back to building models of Sandy Toksvig out of bleached pine, herring and unusable cutlery….

  69. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 25, 2011 11:41 AM

    Just pulling your (unbroken) leg, squire. Their bacon/pork always seems a bit tasteless to me: probably something to do with their fanatically clean pig farms. Can’t stick blue cheese. The salami is OK and very cheap indeed. Pastry – meh. Prefer a curd tart or butter bun.

  70. May 25, 2011 12:03 PM

    The herrings are very nice

  71. May 25, 2011 3:06 PM

    All things are not only possible, but inevitable, in the fullness of time…

  72. May 25, 2011 3:26 PM

    He can be glad they don’t fill tyres with helium thus saving us from “Remarkably human-looking human blimp seen in the air over Wellington” headlines.

    Off to the Bologna Book Festival – back on Tuesday.

  73. mishari permalink*
    May 25, 2011 8:29 PM

    Happy trails, Ed. You might want to check out the monasteries in Bologna…

    A renowned monastery in Rome where monks staged concerts featuring a lap-dancer-turned-nun and opened a hotel with a 24-hour limousine service has been shut down by the pope.

    As part of Benedict XVI’s crackdown on “loose living” within the Catholic church, 20 or so Cistercian monks are now being evicted from the monastery at the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, which hosts some of the church’s holiest relics.

    “An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk,” said Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman. “The church remains open but the monks are awaiting transfer.”

    The monks living there now had opened a shop selling organic produce from their kitchen garden, but this was shut down in 2009 amid accusations of their having secretly stocked the shelves from a neighbourhood grocery.

    The Italian newspaper La Stampa said that VIP guests were also encouraged to stay at a hotel opened at the Santa Croce monastery which offered a 24-hour limousine airport service. —The Groan, today

    I believe this is what’s known as ‘…taking the piss that passeth all understanding…’

  74. Reine permalink
    May 25, 2011 10:59 PM

    The day started with strapping young men in lederhosen sighting near the Guinness Storehouse, following in her Maj’s steps doubtless. Those lederhosen are certainly cut to leave little to the imagination, which might be why I didn’t immediately notice the lights changing.

    Work… well the highlight for us, as the US Pres bellowed in Westminster Hall across the water, was the first sitting of the new Seanad (Senate). All the new Senators seemed to bring their neighbours and grannies and local shopkeepers up for the day so there were more than the usual number of shouty drunk people in wedding outfits knocking about. One was a prisoner in one’s own office watching the seagulls at choir practice across the way.

    Not long home, seaweed masking now so will probably be pissed on by the seagulls tomorrow. Hope y’all are well.

    • Reine permalink
      May 25, 2011 11:10 PM

      “Reine, is there really any need to be so vulgar?” (I hear my mother say).

  75. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 25, 2011 11:31 PM

    I was thinking of going to Bavaria in the summer. Those lederhosen have made me have second thoughts.

    Is it wise to put seaweed on your face? I drove down to the pier on Sunday and the smell of the stuff was enough to knock you unconscious.

    • Reine permalink
      May 25, 2011 11:42 PM

      Doesn’t smell great but excellent for the skin and muscle relaxation in a bath. I think I left the face pack, rehydrated seaweed powder, on too long;’ just washed it off and my face is roasting. The seagulls may mistake me for a buoy.

    • Reine permalink
      May 25, 2011 11:48 PM

      MM, I dreamed you told me your name was John and was more than a little disappointed it was not Maximilian. I told this to Hic in an email months ago, don’t know why it has come into my head again. Maximilian Martin I felt sure explained the initials. Not seeking confirmation, just sharing the vignette. Say nothing and keep on saying it!

  76. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2011 12:21 AM

    John! What am I, a secondhand car salesman? I chose Melton Mowbray as a pseudonym because of a long-ago comedy programme, in which Frankie Howerd lay in bed thinking up stage names for the day he became famous. Melton Mowbray, developed into ‘Sir Melton Mowbray’ was one of his choices. I’m not sure why I bothered, since I’m a nonentity anyway. Probably because lots of other people seemed to at the time. There have been occasions, however, when I’ve been glad I did. Anyway, I’m a workmanlike but lacklustre Chris.

    • Reine permalink
      May 26, 2011 7:55 AM

      I’m very happy to know you Chris.

  77. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2011 7:06 AM

    (with apologies to Dominic Behan)

    Mowbray Wants A Drink

    When Eve was in the garden,
    Adam climbed an apple tree,
    He went aloft up to the top,
    to see what he could see.
    He gazed in awe of what he saw,
    it made the poor man grieve.
    For bearded Melton Mowbray stood there,
    whispering to Eve…

    “Ah kiss me love, and miss me love
    And dry your bitter tears.
    My loving you’ll remember now
    For many, many years.
    Be happy love, be satisfied,
    I left you in the pink.
    There’s many a man that wants a bride.
    But Mowbray wants a drink.”

    Reine danced for Mowbray,
    taking off her seven veils.
    Reine said, “Now, Mowbray,
    that’s a trick that never fails.”
    But Mowbray put poor Reine’s
    oily clothing in a sack.
    “I’ll run along now to the pawn,
    and bring your bundle back.”

    “Ah kiss me love, and miss me love
    And dry your bitter tears.
    My loving you’ll remember now
    For many, many years.
    Be happy love, be satisfied,
    I left you in the pink.
    There’s many a man that wants a bride.
    But Mowbray wants a drink.”

    From London to Nebraska,
    and from Glasgow to Hong Kong,
    From Cardiff to Alaska,
    from Peking to Saigon,
    Wherever girls are lonely,
    I know that in his role,
    It’s there that you’ll find Mowbray,
    a-waiting to console…

    “Ah kiss me love, and miss me love
    And dry your bitter tears.
    My loving you’ll remember now
    For many, many years.
    Be happy love, be satisfied,
    I left you in the pink.
    There’s many a man that wants a bride.
    But Mowbray wants a drink.”

    • Reine permalink
      May 26, 2011 7:56 AM

      That’s just too much this early in the morning. Happy to know you too.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 26, 2011 10:45 AM

      Really good, that. It’s funny because it’s true.

  78. Reine permalink
    May 26, 2011 8:14 AM

    Partial Recall

    Matthew, Mark, (no Luke), a John
    Blessed the bed that I lay on
    Frank and Jerome were older
    And, I discovered, bolder
    David, Alex and Dominic
    Held my hair while I got sick
    Niall and Colm, wild mountain men
    One at a time… or then again
    A Moroccan who wanted me to wed
    And tried to get me into bed
    Husbands bearing saintly names
    Managed my youthful lusts to tame
    But now I’ve recalled all of this
    I see I’ve never kissed a Chris

    (never say never …. x)

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 26, 2011 10:49 AM

      Also really good. Jerome? I’ve never even met one.

    • Reine permalink
      May 26, 2011 11:05 AM

      I know three. In Cork, they pronounce it “Gerrum”. My Jerome, not from Cork, shares a surname with your PM. I was 19 (and in uni)and he was 31 and we drank in the same pub. He invited me for dinner one evening and cooked me scallops which I had never eaten before. I stayed the night (very soporific, scallops)and in the morning he asked me what newspaper I would like. I said The Sunday Times, it being the most intellectual I could think of! He brought newspapers and a cafetiere and homemade brownbread up to me in bed and I thought “I have arrived, I am a proper grown up now”. Halcyon days.

  79. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2011 9:39 AM

    Reading about a reclusive US billionairess who’s just died at 104, I discovered that her father had been born in 1839. I find this astonishing. She was still living 170 years after her father’s birth.

    It means he would have been old enough to have served in the US Civil War. He might have known Walt Whitman or met Abe Lincoln. He might have actually heard the Gettysburg Address. He might have served with Custer and the 7th cavalry at Little Big Horn. He might have participated in the California Gold Rush and met Robert Louis Stevenson. Read the story of this odd (and rapacious) man and his peculiar family HERE.

  80. Reine permalink
    May 26, 2011 10:49 AM

    In Train

    He was the very model of a Revenue Commissioner
    Dodgy leather half-coat and the jowl of Henry Kissinger
    Reluctant to cede any precious leg space
    Having claimed seisin for his trusty briefcase

    He scowled at the lady who sat in beside him
    And then scowled at me, seeing I had espied him
    Sitting with grey-trousered legs wide apart
    Presumably hanging his massive belle arte

    The kind of a fellow you know endlessly moans
    About the price of a coffee and the ringing of phones
    Joyless, judgmental, not at all like me
    He got off at Ashtown at nine twenty three

    (From the moleskine of Ernestina Hemmedinway)

  81. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2011 10:51 AM

    Speaking of age:

    On My Birthday
    (after John Milton)

    When I think how my lifetime has been spent,
    with the grosser appetites well to the fore,
    guzzling, letching, swilling, and many more,
    I sometimes wonder if I should have lent

    my talents, such as they are, to augment
    say, the struggle against the scourge of war,
    or to ease the suffering of the poor.
    In short, should I have been less self-indulgent?

    I ask myself. Then I think, meh, fuck them,
    don’t knock yourself out, mate, you’ve done enough
    wasters are vital to this economy,

    over-production is part of the system,
    and someone has to get through all that stuff.
    They also serve who only watch TV.

  82. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2011 10:55 AM

    I don’t know where you lot get the inspiration from–I can barely essay a limerick.

    I see the ever-light hearted and not-at-all chippy anytimefrances is quoting Patrick Kavanagh (in The Green Fool) as saying that when he left home:

    …I had in my pocket exactly three shillings and fourpence ha’penny…

    Then I happened to be reading an old orbituary of Brian Behan, when I came across this:

    In 1950, he went to London with three shillings and four pence…

    Is the three shillings and fourpence some sort of by-law handed down by the Irish Union of Footloose Young Men? Or perhaps it’s of mystical significance? Perhaps it’s the precise amount that Fionn mac Cumhaill fed the gas-meter before he killed the fire-breathing fairy Aillen?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 26, 2011 11:19 AM

      Three shillings and fourpence is half of six shillings and eightpence, which used to be a unit for accounting (third of a pound), so it probably has a historical root. No doubt you remember the old ‘send three and fourpence, we’re going to a dance’ routine.

    • Reine permalink
      May 26, 2011 12:33 PM

      My father thinks it might have been the price of the passage; that was his “three and four pence” on the matter anyway.

  83. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2011 11:38 AM

    What, no ‘Happy Birthday’?

    I’m gutted.

    • Reine permalink
      May 26, 2011 12:18 PM

      He shares a birthday with a pope who was Clement,
      As he himself is, channeling Iris Dement,
      “Perfect submission, perfect delight,
      Visions of rapture now burst on my sight.”
      It’s how I think of him, when I see his green tile
      My heart ruptures with rapture and I can’t help but smile

      Happy birthday Mowbs; I raise my paper coffee cup to you in a toast. x

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 26, 2011 12:22 PM

      Thank you.

  84. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2011 11:48 AM

    Whose birthday is it? Yours?

  85. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2011 12:20 PM

    The clue was in the title of the poem. Yes, it’s another one to add to the ever-growing pile. Only 19 left (max).

  86. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2011 4:01 PM

    Ah…many happy etc…I thought you were speaking of your birthdays in a more general way in the pome. So, you’re my senior by some 6 months. Nice one, grandpa. I must try to be kinder to you old folk.

  87. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 26, 2011 5:14 PM

    Many happy returns, MM. From previous clues, I reckon you’re two years older than me. A sprightly young fucker, then.

  88. 3potato4 permalink
    May 26, 2011 7:39 PM

    hi mishari,,i havent passed by here in a very long time,,

    and i just wanted to say that this thread was a delightful read,,

    great atmosphere in this pub,,

  89. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2011 8:02 PM

    Hullo 3potato4, nice to see you again.

    Thanks, HLM. So you’re a ’56 man? Same as ET, I believe – not as good as the ’54, of course, but a tolerable vintage. Went for lunch at the terrace restaurant at Osborne House today – worth a go if you’re over here.

    Now freep has disappeared I must be the senior presence here, so I’d be obliged if you whippersnappers would treat me with a modicum of respect. Or I’ll stop your pocket money.

    • reine permalink
      May 27, 2011 1:46 PM

      Looks the business, Osborne House. Did you get any good presents MM?

      I was at a retirement do last night, one of my good friends in the parliamentary ushers was leaving. I was namechecked in his speech as one of the people he will particularly miss, aaahhh. Then the Taoiseach came into the Dáil bar and kissed all the girls and punched all the men amiably and, sure, with several vodders inside me I didn’t mind at all being smackerooed. When we went further afield to continue the celebrations, wasn’t he there too having a late supper but the kissing had mercifully run its course by then. Victor, who has retired, is a no-nonsense sort who gives the impression of being very stern but is really a pussy cat. I drank more vodka and made polite chat with his neighbours, Tommie and Joe – the latter is the spitting image of the actor Ronald Colman in middle age. I had to make my excuses when he started to sing Joe Dolan’s “You’re such a good looking woman” while tapping out the beat on my bum. A most enjoyable night and the child came in to pick us up, berating me for dragging him around the pub and introducing him to the world and its wife. I was very proud of him as he chatted indulgently to people who were rather the worse for wear, including his step-father, who for a moment didn’t recognise him.

      I have a very sore head today.

      Hello 3pot4. Hic’s comment prompted me to look you up again in the book. No sun sliding across the clouds here.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 27, 2011 3:31 PM

      Sounds like fun. I wonder if the House of Commons is as convivial: I think I would need a gallon of vodka before a kiss from Cameron.

      Osborne is OK. The house is a monument to Victorian taste, heavy brown furniture, thousands of miles of dusty red velvet and horrible pictures (the marble copies of the limbs of Vicky’s infants are particularly grisly), but the grounds are pleasant to wander round in.

      Got some decent presents, wine, books, hats, also membership of the NT, which I thought very self-sacrificing of Mrs M since it gives us access to hundreds more ruins, abbeys, castles etc.

    • Reine permalink
      May 27, 2011 6:31 PM

      Those were nice gifts. Mrs. M must REALLY love you. I can’t think why. Ha

  90. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2011 8:12 PM

    Hello, 3p4…long time, no see.

    MM, I’ll bet you remember your first visit to Osborne House, back when Victoria and Albert were in residence…how time flies, eh?

    By The Pricking Of My Thumbs

    The men are dressed in sober grey,
    the women arrayed in their finery.
    They’re lining the streets
    and handing out sweets,
    celebrating a master of swinery.

    It’s a parade for Mowbray,
    Mowbray The Mad;
    half man and half beast
    and all of him bad;
    it’s his birthday today
    let us pray it’s the last;
    God knows what his sins weigh:
    they’re sinking us fast;
    for Mowbray, Mad Mowbray
    The King of Bounders
    will not be content
    until the ship founders.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 26, 2011 10:20 PM

      By the thickening of my plums
      St Christopher can soothe sore gums.

  91. hic8ubique permalink
    May 26, 2011 10:22 PM

    Hi 3bob4~~ I remember you from PP and the Invaluable book :)

    Happy Birthday, Vicar! Since kisses have already been dispensed, I send you Valkyrian embraces, and this in spir ation:

    ‘towellness’? hmm… I also wish you secure in towellness and spongeness, so as to ensure you neither throw them in nor up. Many joyous returns of the day! and may they all be spent, in part, with us.
    I’ve been swept up in a cascade of nesting events following the acquisition of a chest-of-drawers given me by a friend who’s moving into a smaller house. None of her family wanted it, but it’s a frabjous old painted French piece. I’ve cleaned off the grime of generations, fitted the drawers with lovely florentine paper, and set about reordering my summer things which heretofor have wintered over in a blanket chest.
    It’s intoxicating to see one corner of the house approaching fresh organisation. Not the entire dressing room, mind you, but my side of it.

    This has been a good time for my creative energies to be directed elsewhere, since the tiny area of my mind concerned with bureaucracy has been lost somewhere along the red-riding-hood way. I seem to have ordered my life to afford the least possible exposure to it.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 26, 2011 11:03 PM

      Thanks, hic. Actually, that’s more or less where I was thinking of going. Always had a yen to see Neuschwanstein.

  92. mishari permalink*
    May 26, 2011 10:46 PM

    I wonder if anyone’s taken in by Clegg’s sudden conversion to “…the NHS is sacrosanct: thus far and no further…” bullshit?

    Does he think nobody read The Orange Book, wherein he (and Huhne and Laws and the rest of his neo-liberal chums) happily anticipated every single fucking thing that the Bill proposes? That nobody noticed he and his party of unprincipled fuck-knuckles gave it the nod on 1st and 2nd reading and would have happily voted it into law but for A. The Lords sending it back and B. The electorate giving the Lib Scums a thorough kicking at the polls? That nobody noticed that everyone from the BMA to Auntie Mildred’s Sewing Circle hates the Bill like poison?

    The man’s unbelievable in his utter shamelessness.

  93. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 26, 2011 10:54 PM

    Gad, yes, I remember my stays at Ozzers as though it were yesterday. My first meeting with Prince Albert was outside one of the ladies-in-waiting’s bedrooms.
    ‘Ex-cuse me, sir. Vot are you do-ink?’
    ‘What? Oh, I was just admiring the workmanship on this keyhole, Your Highness,’ says I, getting to my feet and dusting off my trews, ‘Jolly good show, what?’
    ‘Yesss,’ says the German plank, staring at me as though I was a specimen in his filthy museum, ‘They are made to a design off my own.’
    ‘Really,’ says I, ‘How interesting. Well, I must run – ’
    ‘It iss most interesting. They are formt in a mould use-ink a special brasss off my own invention…’
    Two hours later I was the best informed man on keyhole plates in Europe. That icy German boor nearly sucked the life out of me, but I was sustained by my glimpse of Lady Hermione’s bouncers. Wunderbar!

  94. May 27, 2011 1:28 AM

    Melton Mowbray!
    It’s your birthday err, yesterday.
    I did think about writing a sonnet
    But you’ll have to make do with this, sod it.

  95. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 27, 2011 12:13 PM

    Why, thank you, Simon. It’s the thought that counts.

    I noticed this on one of the G’s tribute sites:

    • May 27, 2011 4:27 PM

      Happy B’day, MM. Thanks for posting this classic Xmas vid! I was going to post a vintage clip of Christopher Hitchens passionately defending George W. Bush’s IQ, but yours was funnier (only just) …

    • Reine permalink
      May 27, 2011 6:33 PM

      I love the bit about getting hit by a church van (and the laughter in the background).

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 27, 2011 11:23 PM

      Thanks, Mr A. I didn’t think a defence was available.

    • May 28, 2011 11:22 AM

      “I didn’t think a defence was available.”

      The clip your clip trumped is a good starting place for a skeptical reconsideration of the “Hitchens beyond brilliant” line

  96. Captain Ned permalink
    May 27, 2011 6:42 PM

    Penblwydd hapus, MM. My dad’s a ’54 man, so that year must indeed have produced a good vintage.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 27, 2011 11:31 PM

      Diolch, Captain.

      I noticed in Tuesday’s G that Jerry Seinfeld is also a ’54 man. However, he also proclaims himself a fan of Top Gear. I’m struggling with that paradox.

    • Reine permalink
      May 27, 2011 11:34 PM

      Ned is the baby then, is he, to your grand old man of the blog?

      I see Ed is wed.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 28, 2011 12:09 AM

      That’s probably true, unless there’s been underhand age adjustment going on.

      Yes, I don’t see what Ed’s marriage-motives are, and don’t care that much. He must be one of the least charismatic leaders Labour has ever had. That shouldn’t really make a difference, but I can’t deny that, shallow as I am, it’s often the demeanour, and, more importantly, the speaking style of a politician which inclines me to believe (or disbelieve slightly less) in their veracity.

  97. mishari permalink*
    May 27, 2011 9:38 PM

    The Accountant

    The lunar landscape in my head,
    a distant, parched and arid plain
    is like me, not alive nor dead,
    beyond all pleasure and all pain.

    And that unearthly light illumes
    an emptiness that chills the heart,
    an endless chain of bare-boned rooms,
    the end exactly like the start.

    These are spaces that say ‘No’;
    the spaces that say ‘Not today’;
    the rooms designed to let you know
    that nothing here will go your way.

    Step out and take a sharp, cold breath:
    there’s nothing in these rooms but death.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 27, 2011 11:20 PM

      A bleak analysis of the dessicated calculating machine, finely rendered.

    • Reine permalink
      May 27, 2011 11:35 PM

      Yikes, you are good.

    • May 28, 2011 10:57 AM


    • May 28, 2011 11:02 AM

      *(nb: if Beckett’s verse were as clear as his proze)

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 28, 2011 3:08 PM

      made my skin crawl

  98. Reine permalink
    May 27, 2011 11:55 PM

    Feeling a touch dessicated myself. ‘night all, “gobleshye” as they say down the country.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 28, 2011 12:24 AM


      I was going to complain that you were letting down the fans on Soundcloud, but I’ve just seen the Sappho: enjoyed it very much.

    • Reine permalink
      May 28, 2011 9:23 AM

      Gadzooks, didn’t think anyone would be looking there any more. Very glad you liked it. I did the Sappho as a joke, Simon said I should get in touch with my lesbian side (well, not in so many words). Very bloody hard, recitation. I had done a different poem earlier and, finally happy with it, after the 25th attempt, I forgot to press stop and so the end of the recording you could hear me coughing and rustling papers and yelling for a coffee. Trashed it lest my public’s impression of me as a laydee (lol) might be damaged.

  99. Captain Ned permalink
    May 28, 2011 12:53 AM

    One of your very best, Excellency. If there could only be a happy hybrid of David Bowie and Waylon Jennings (via an unabashed Bob Dylan), it would be a narrow space, but you would corner it. I’m not sure that there can be any higher praise than that.

    “a distant, parched and arid plain”

    There is, after all, an understanding that passeth peace. If only Bob Dylan had read Chretien de Troyes…

    I think, Reine, I am probably the baby of the group. But this is only because I look up to you and everyone else here as sources of wisdom and legitimate grouchiness. A great notion indeed – the l0gs are there to drown you. Don’t be Richard Jaeckel, that’s the best advice.

    • Reine permalink
      May 28, 2011 9:16 AM

      Thanks Ned. I heard the song in my dreams. And how wonderful to find the one Waits’ video in which I made an appearance (I bloody wish). Bore da to you.

  100. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 7:36 AM

    You’re all far too generous. I suspect the influence of alcohol… which brings me to…Gil Scott Heron, R.I.P:

  101. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    May 28, 2011 8:36 AM

    Fuck. You read it here first.

    • Reine permalink
      May 28, 2011 9:18 AM

      I’m sorry for your loss, both, and the world’s.

  102. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 9:37 AM

    I just heard a story that made me laugh like a drain.

    Apparently, at some time in the early 80s, Albert Reynolds (then Minister for Transport, later Taoiseach) was involved in an incident in which an Aer Lingus plane was hi-jacked.

    The hijacker’s chief demand for the safe return of the aircraft and its passengers was that the Vatican reveal the Third Secret of Fatima.

    Reynolds rushed to the airport to ‘take charge’ and brief journalists. A baffled English reporter (clearly not a Catholic) asked Reynolds: “What is The Third Secret of Fatima?”

    To which Reynolds (best known then as the owner of a chain of country ‘n’ western bars and dog-food factories) replied: “I don’t know–it’s a secret…”

  103. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 9:41 AM

    Reine, post links when you put stuff up to Soundcloud: your fans demand it…I demand it…tried to google it and discovered:

    Maître, Myriam. – Sapho, Reine de Tendre : entre monarchie absolue et royauté littéraire…spooky.

  104. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 28, 2011 1:56 PM

    If you do requests, Reine, I’d like to hear ‘The Sunlight On The Garden’. Line 14 I find a major challenge.

    Can I face watching the match tonight? The most boring team in the world vs the most loathsome? Giggsy’s reception ought to be sniggerworthy, at least.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 28, 2011 3:12 PM

      I’d like to hear each of you do a version, please.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 29, 2011 12:39 AM

      I read part of it into my phone and played it back. It sounded like a call from a deranged person with a heavy cold.

  105. Reine permalink
    May 28, 2011 3:49 PM

    Well, here you go then, a belated birthday present…. complete with throat clearing at the end. I don’t know how that slipped in again.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 28, 2011 4:52 PM

      Hurrah! I finally worked out me what was keeping me from playing your Soundloud uploads. All the machines in the house have Flashblock enabled.

      Like the idiot that I am, it never occurred to me that soundcloud was using .flv and .swf files and the browser gave no indication (usually, Flashblock shows a small ‘F’ icon when it’s blocking a file from playing). I just had to ‘whitelist’ (allow) Thank fuck for that. It was making me crazy.

      A fine reading. What a lovely voice you have, my dear.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 28, 2011 5:14 PM

      ‘Soundloud’ … that’s a fun typo, M.
      Fortunately, she doesn’t.
      A worthy selection and elegant presentation of it, Re. I’m sure the birthday boy will be pleased.

      Just recalled…I was in Prague in my dreams (never been there really), giving a seemingly profound lecture (!), and then heading for the Black Sea a short distance away. I wish I could remember what I was saying.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 28, 2011 8:35 PM

      Yes, a peerless reading. Thanks, Reine. You made line 14 look easy.

  106. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 7:59 PM

    From The Weakest Link, BBC 1:

    Anne Robinson: In 2006, the Star Wars character voted the most annoying film character ever was Jar Jar…what?

    Contestant: Gabor.

  107. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 8:16 PM

    1 – 0….

    Tot el camp,
    Es un clam,
    Som la gent blau-grana,
    Tant se val d´on venim,
    Si del sud o del nord,
    Ara estem d´acord,
    Estem d´acord ,
    Una bandera ens agermana,
    Blau-grana al vent,
    Un crit valent,
    Tenim un nom,
    El sap tothom,
    Barça Barça Baaarça,
    Tots units fem força,
    Són molts anys plens d´afanys,
    Són molts gols que hem cridat,
    Is´ha demostrat, s´ha demostrat,
    Que mai ningú no ens podrà tórcer,
    Blau-grana al vent,
    Un crit valent,
    Tenim un nom,
    El sap tothom,
    Barça Barça Baaarça…

  108. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 8:28 PM

    Perhaps I’m a bit biased (alright: I am biased) but the Mancs look badly out-classed…

  109. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 28, 2011 8:39 PM

    That’s true, but a cracking goal from Wayne (I’m pretty sure Giggs was offside, however. How unusual…). God I hate Harry Redknapp.

  110. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 8:48 PM

    The spud-faced nipper done good….but the talking heads just confirmed my impression that Barca have had the ball for most of the match: 67% possesion to Barca (and it looks to me like most of that was in front of Man U’s goal…

  111. Reine permalink
    May 28, 2011 8:52 PM

    Half time lads? I heard the pitter patter of feet kitchenwards for a half time cuppa and expect Earl Grey any minute.

    Delighted to receive such approbation. What is it about line 14 do you think Mowbs, an emphasis thing or an accent thing? It was the “evil iron siren” bit that caught me out a few times… I should have kept the “fuck it…” “bollocks” etc. and then I read it as “in” the blasted garden the second to last time. No wonder I was coughing by the end.

    • Reine permalink
      May 28, 2011 8:55 PM

      PS …You can answer my query after the match. My butler says it’s a cracking game.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 28, 2011 11:02 PM

      13 The sky was good for flying
      14 Defying the church bells

      The way I read it there ought to be an extra syllable in 14. It would sound better (to me) if it was ‘Defying the chapel bells’. I’m not sure that chapels have bells, which might be a problem.

      Anyway, terrific reading and the cough added something. Sceptical, thoughtful, merely functional? One for the scholars.

    • Reine permalink
      May 28, 2011 11:16 PM

      Interesting, I don’t think “chapel” would do justice to the scale/grandeur of the poem … maybe the Irish accent prolongs the syllable a bit or maybe he wants to pull us up short before the evil iron siren.

      Thank you sincerely, humbled. I always cough politely at the end of a performance. Ahem.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 28, 2011 11:57 PM

      ‘Church’ works for me. I make it 7/6 but it doesn’t strike me that there’s a beat missing, although obviously ‘chapel’ would make it a more symetrical 7/7.

      Actually, I think I might have lost the ‘and’ in line 4 and changed ‘we are’ to ‘we’re’ in line 6…but that’s probably why MacNeice was a great poet and I’m a shmuck.

      The sky was good for flying
      Defying the church bells
      And every evil iron
      Siren and what it tells:
      The earth compels,
      We are dying, Egypt, dying

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 3:35 PM

      Free-standing chapels, I believe, are apt to have a single bell, MM, which might not carry sufficient clout.

      …the church bells
      And every evil iron
      Siren and what it tells:
      The earth compels,

      Doesn’t that ring like a hammering on an anvil, in contrast to the flying.
      I feel it isn’t meant to sing in a free flow, or even a rocking cadence, but to clang abruptly.
      Then we find it’s the heart that’s been tempered.
      Just how it strikes me. *heh*

      I listened to Zachariah Wells reading it on YT, Reine,
      so my loudness-averse remark was influenced by that rather than anything about you!
      That sort of I AM PRESENTING POETRY NOW reading style is a distracting injustice to the integrity of the poem.
      It’s fine for a reading of comic verse to be intoning in flourishes, but annoys me here.
      I appreciate the intimacy of your readings, and Simon’s.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 29, 2011 3:54 PM

      Yes, it’s probably my reading style which makes it seem a bit clumsy, but whenever I try it the accent falls firmly on the the:

      The sky was good for flying
      Defying thuh (horrible pause) church bells

      Perhaps, as you say, it’s not meant to flow fluently, in which case your hammering would be a good analogy.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 4:12 PM

      Ah, now I see. Just for fun, try taking a breath after defying,as a sort of phase change, and giving church and bells equal emphasis rather than the usual conversational emphasis (ie on church).
      Looking again, I feel that clanging as part of the metallic constraint developing throughout.

      I love your choice of poem, though it’s uncomfortable.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      May 29, 2011 4:28 PM

      That works if I do it in my head, but not if I say it out loud. Perhaps it’s my remaining Gloucestershire accent, or poor articulation, or mild inebriation from lunch.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 5:10 PM

      Don’t worry about that. I’d love to hear your version, but it’s much harder than I thought to maintain composure.
      Last night, I tried reciting to iPhoto, but it mostly consisted of ‘okay…ahhhm….ok…ergh.’ then disintegrating into laughter. Hopeless.

  112. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 8:57 PM

    Like I said…out-classed.

    Half-time ended about 8 minutes ago, Reine. If you haven’t had your cuppa yet, it ain’t coming…

    • Reine permalink
      May 28, 2011 9:03 PM

      I got it but bloody modem had to be reset so comment delayed. Between the Leinster match and this one, he is a happy man today.

  113. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 9:12 PM

    …it’s beginning to look like a massacre…

  114. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 9:24 PM

    ….that doughy-faced prick Clegg sitting next to Platini, looking bored; doubtless wondering how he can use Barca’s victory to his advantage…I wish Platini would piss in his ear…

    • Reine permalink
      May 28, 2011 11:53 PM

      Nicholas Clegg lies quietly weeping
      Miriam, beside him, pretends to be sleeping
      He drifts off after a while and can’t pinpoint the hour
      He gets an earful of Michel’s golden shower
      Drowsy, disarmed, damply seeking the light
      He thinks “It can’t be much worse than Dave Cameron’s shite”

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 12:15 AM

      Within the porches of Clegg’s ear
      that lep’rous distilment tinkles clear,
      a special token of Mishari’s esteem
      delivered in a platinum stream.

    • Reine permalink
      May 29, 2011 12:18 AM

      Hicster, you will have to take to the airwaves yourself one of the days. I will have my ear trumpet on standby.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 29, 2011 12:19 AM

      Excellent. I must say, you girls have a flair for elaborating on degradation…is there something you’re not telling us?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 12:22 AM

      I’m highly skilled in audience, Re. (Though I’ll read to you in mongrelese anytime.)
      Just happy to find you lot up and at it, after a strenuous day of dress and shoe shopping with a 14 yr old.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 12:26 AM

      I’ve no idea what you mean, darling. What have I not told?
      I’m just playing along with the theme…

    • Reine permalink
      May 29, 2011 12:28 AM

      Well between my brief spell as a postulant and becoming a servant of the State, there was a fallow period during which I ran pop-up brothels around Dublin where I saw things no failed nun should ever see. I sleep with ear plugs now and a wear a swimming cap.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 29, 2011 12:35 AM

      You should have a word with Ed when he gets back…with his experience of inflatable stuff and your history with pop-ups, inflatable pop-up brothels are only a step away; you’d be the Bill Gates of debauchery, as ubiquitous in the world’s red-light districts as Windows is in the world of computers. Don’t forget us little people when you rule the demi-monde

    • Reine permalink
      May 29, 2011 12:37 AM

      You would be with us surely, as chief gigolo?

  115. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 28, 2011 11:06 PM

    I don’t watch the build-up any more, so Clegg’s appearance came as a nasty shock. His wife is a Don, if I remember correctly. Most satisfactory to see United get slaughtered, and Barcelona played in a reasonably interesting way.

  116. mishari permalink*
    May 28, 2011 11:37 PM

    I thought Barca played elegantly: terrific ball control, pin-point passing accuracy, what looked like almost telepathic set-ups, minimal theatrics–they made the Mancs look like plodders.

    Of course, it was a double-pleasure for me as I have an abiding affection for the city and its natives and there are a few acquaintances of mine who loudly declare themselves Man U ‘fans’ for the simple reason that Man U are winners; typical fair-weather, blow-hard ‘fans’ of the kind I detest. To see them crestfallen is a tonic…

    Yeah, the sight of Clegg was an unpleasant surprise…oh well, I hope the bastard enjoys his brief moment in the sun: a well-merited lifetime of obscurity and disdain awaits him.

  117. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 29, 2011 12:12 AM

    ‘Man Utd lose, Bournemouth in mourning’ was a joke which had more than an element of truth.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 29, 2011 12:25 AM

      Reading the various comments on the match, I note that you’re not alone in thinking Giggs (or ‘The Silencer’ as he’s now known) was off-side when he fed Rooney that goal shot.

  118. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 29, 2011 12:41 AM

    Doubtless the Welsh wizard’s mind was on other positions.

  119. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2011 7:51 AM

    Former chancellor Alistair Darling has endorsed France’s Christine Lagarde as his first choice to head the International Monetary Fund…

    “In the field of those who have declared so far, I think she is the best… having worked in the United States as a lawyer for many years she is able to see the world through American eyes…” — The Groan, today

    Proving that Darling is as much of a dim corporate lackey as Lagarde. Vince Cable, in an inadvertent moment of candour, let slip that he has a better appreciation of reality than Lagarde or Darling. “Greece will restructure its debt,” said Cable the other day, earning a slap on the wrist from corporate flunkey Call Me Dave, whose grasp of economics is as feeble as his grasp on a ping-pong racquet. Cable was absolutely correct.

    Lagarde, on the other hand, has already demonstrated her disdain for financial reality by insisting that Greece’s debt must not be restructured. Lagarde, naturally, spent her entire adult life as a shyster for the banks or as a prominent member of one of the most corrupt and reactionary political parties in Europe.

    The thought that her banking masters (who caused this crisis) should get a ‘haircut’ fills Christine with righteous indignation.

    ‘…she is able to see the world through American eyes…’ translates as ‘…through American corporate eyes…’.

    Yeah, great: just what we need: another corporate toady fucking the rest of us over. She is the enemy.

    The fact remains: Greece (like Ireland) can’t pay its debts, shouldn’t even attempt paying them and ultimately, won’t pay them.

    Mark my words: Greece (like Ireland) will default and exit the Euro–the alternative is too ghastly to contemplate. Once the pain reaches a certain point and the people of Greece and Ireland realise that they’re being reduced to penurious misery to service loans made by greedy, incompetent bankers, they’ll trash their governments and go back to square one, like Argentina did in 2002; and quite right, too.

    • May 29, 2011 5:16 PM

      Well, now the the Fat Socialist Jew Rapist is out of the way, someone who “is able to see the world through American eyes…” can fix it all up for us. Things always sorta work themselves out that way, don’t they?

  120. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 29, 2011 4:04 PM

    30,000,000 people have seen this, though it was new to me:

    • May 29, 2011 5:00 PM

      It’s not the ignorance that shocks me (and, to be fair, the producer/editor who included the Right wing Hispanic guy, responding with “Cuba”, to the question “Which country should America invade next?”, as an example of “dumbness”, is probably a little light in the history dept. her/his self)… but the jingoism! Yipes. The “Archie Bunker vs Meathead” culture wars of my adolescence have produced a clear winner… and the winner looks like pretty much everybody.

      (in the follow-up vid to this, the hosts of the show commit their own flub, referring to 9/11 damage done to building(s) in “Washington” where they probably meant Virginia)

  121. hic8ubique permalink
    May 29, 2011 5:49 PM

    There’s some auditory confusion as well. The media here say ‘KOHfi ANnan’, so the Australian saying ‘COFfee inAHN’ was bound to draw drink responses.
    Also, ‘What is a ‘Musk?’ drew the response: ‘an animal?’; whereas if he’d asked “What is a MAHsk?’ She’d probably have recognised ‘mosque’.

    I suppose the Aussies are so accustomed to bearing the brunt of stupidity jokes that this sort of easy bottom-feeding would be highly popular there, but that said, for most of those interviewed, there’s truly no good excuse.

    The foul jingoism does always seem to be seething just under the surface, waiting for any excuse to spew.

  122. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2011 6:23 PM

    Oh, I dunno; this guy makes some reasonable points:

    • May 29, 2011 6:33 PM

      @1:54 : the first time I’ve actually seen the “spittle-flecked” comment of legend (said the smug beneficiary of astonishingly-good socialized health care; I haven’t watched the rest, yet… does the son-of-Bay-of-Pigs really *assault* the camera man?)

    • May 29, 2011 6:39 PM

      (a Murrkkan flag hasn’t looked like such a suggestive weapon since that iconic photo snapped in Boston, way-back-when)

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 6:46 PM

      He makes a good (though unconscious) case for expanding the services of V.A. psych wards.
      Let’s ask him… ‘But, Sir, how would you feel about…?’

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 6:47 PM

      Which photo, St.A?

    • May 29, 2011 7:00 PM

      Here you are, Hic:

  123. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2011 6:46 PM

    He comes pretty damn close and if the cameraman/interviewer hadn’t denied any Commie leanings pretty damn toot sweet, I’m sure he would have; but as you say, he liberally (don’t tell him that) bedews the camera lens with spittle. Personally, I’d regard him as a mad dog and treat him accordingly…

  124. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2011 7:31 PM

    Perish the thought: people who make puns should be drawn and quoted…

    • May 29, 2011 7:48 PM

      quite right

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 8:36 PM

      They should be made an example of… their headers decaptionated and displayed in pica for all to see.

      I’m appreciating that article between interruptions, St.A …

  125. Reine permalink
    May 29, 2011 8:26 PM

    Oh my God, I somehow managed to play those two vids in symphony; almost went into a frenzy before I realised what I had done. Scary stuff.

    I am now partaking of my first glass of wine since Thursday night. Glad to see I haven’t lost the taste for it.

    HI was ribbing me about recording poems for men I have never met so I did one for him but as the Irish saying goes he had the “meas of madraí na seacht paróiste” (appreciation of the dogs of the seven parishes” ) on it. “Very nice” he said “you have your sex voice on”. “Thank you Harold Bloom” said I. “Who is Harold Bloom?” and on it went… If I had managed to express my love for him through hurling, I would have been speaking his language.

    We had visitors today and I had to drop one of them into the concert hall earlier. I got completely distracted laughing at a story she was recounting and ended up driving contraflow in a bus lane. The garda was very understanding… I said a poem for him.

    • Reine permalink
      May 29, 2011 8:28 PM

      Explanatory note: On Thursday night I drank vodka and then switched to red wine. Don’t try it children, it ain’t pretty.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 8:45 PM

      ‘Hurling’ is slang for vomiting here, Re. Oh, dear.

      Appreciation of poems received is, shall we say, ‘slender’ in this house as well.
      The slightly panicky facial expression says: “Words are bad enough as it is…”
      In fairness, I express my own version of this when being taught how to navigate technology.

    • Reine permalink
      May 29, 2011 9:06 PM

      …and I when listening to his post-match analyses.

      I try not to hurl these days if I can help it. I remember an unfortunate incident in university where of all the possible fellows one might bring back for coffee (seriously, only coffee) after a night out, I (unknowingly) chose the landlord’s son. By the time he had seen the state of the house – the number of inhabitants clearly in breach of contract (and the law he cunningly observed through the pungent haze) and many of a different gender to that stipulated – and held my hair back while I was sick in the garden, he passed on the coffee and ran home to Mama. She duly arrived at 9 the following morning and it was a picture to see her bewildered face as we showed her around the immaculate, male-free premises. We stayed up most of the night scrubbing and shipped the lads off down town on an early breakfast run; Kim and Aggie would have been proud.

    • mishari permalink*
      May 29, 2011 9:06 PM

      You should have told HI that Harold was brother to Leopold and that when P.J. Riordan scored all but 1 point of Tipperary’s total when they beat Kilkenny 6-8 to 0-1 in the 1895 All-Ireland final, it was Harold who scored that other 1 point. That would have fixed him, but good…

    • Reine permalink
      May 29, 2011 9:15 PM

      Ha, indeed. And him blue mouldy for the want of a pint after it, no doubt.

  126. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2011 9:46 PM

    Mens Sana In Corpore Sano

    …and coming round
    the far-stand turn
    it’s Mowbray, on
    a bicycle designed by
    Flann O’Brian: his legs
    have been replaced
    by wheels; the crowd
    is roaring approval,
    ringing their bells,
    waving their pumps and
    unwrapping their wax-paper
    wrapped sandwiches:
    potted shrimp is very popular.

    …things are taking a nasty
    turn; the crowd,
    cyclists to a man,
    have attacked Prince William’s
    Daimler…they are
    dismantling it, nut by nut…

    Mother of God,
    they’ve mounted
    an anti-aircraft gun
    on the roof of the clubhouse…
    they’ve just brought down
    an airbus…Ryanair
    2:45 to Gozo, I believe…

    Sports fans everywhere
    are having images
    of Mowbray tatooed
    on their bodies, often
    in highly unsuitable places,
    but it’s all good
    clean fun: you’ve got
    to be in it to win it.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2011 11:12 PM

      I’m all bedewed with the thrill of it. I’ve never til just now been inspired to be inked…

      me: ‘I’d like a tattoo of Melton Mowbray on my ****, please.’

      artiste: ‘That’s fine. Do you have a image for me?’

      me: ‘ahhm…?’

    • Reine permalink
      May 29, 2011 11:31 PM

      Poetry in motion, indeed.

  127. hic8ubique permalink
    May 29, 2011 11:20 PM

    Google rides to the rescue, yet again:

  128. Reine permalink
    May 29, 2011 11:23 PM

    Well, he has a beard so that might help in choosing a location. Save on ink, just do the eyes and nose. Ahem.

  129. Reine permalink
    May 29, 2011 11:41 PM

    Sweet Jesus. My image of him is defiled.

  130. mishari permalink*
    May 29, 2011 11:53 PM

    For those who crave the Mowbray tat
    I’d choose a spot not lean nor fat;
    abundant hair to limn the beard:
    the whole thing’s just a little weird.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 30, 2011 3:53 AM

      I’ve pored and pored, but I’ve no flesh
      that’s neither fat nor lean;
      alas, in lieu of Mowbray
      only freckles prick the scene.

  131. MeltonMowbray permalink
    May 29, 2011 11:54 PM

    My eyes are redder. Otherwise a good likeness.

  132. Reine permalink
    May 30, 2011 12:46 PM

    This awaited me in my inbox this morning… I’d ask for my money back for that TEFL course.

    “Hi Dear
    Is my pleasure writing to u.I am JOY.
    I went through Ur profile today
    and it seems interesting, You will really
    love to know u better.I mean u deserve to be
    kept in a treasure box and admire. with great
    hope of knowing more and developing better
    and promising relationship with you.write
    to me on my email box with your photo and i am wetting to hear from you
    thank you! Please you say me true, because i am !
    Your new lovely friends with kisses

  133. Reine permalink
    May 30, 2011 12:48 PM

    “I am wetting to hear from you”… get in line, Joy, get in line.

  134. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 30, 2011 4:12 PM

    By God the Bologna Book Festival isn’t what it used to be – thank God I’ve never been.

    Spent a weekend in Nantes instead on a short holiday ( a very rare occurence indeed, 4 days is as much as I can manage ).

    It was baking hot, Nantes is a nice city, the show we went to see by Royal de Luxe was good but France seems to have become incredibly expensive.

    After spending 30 euros on a taxi from the airport to the hotel we thought taking the train back might be cheaper – 117 euros for 2 people! Fuck that for a laugh.

    sad to read that Gil Scott Heron died. I saw him in Manchester when he was in the thick of his addiction problems and it was one of those situations where you felt he shouldn’t have been touring . But I suppose he didn’t have the luxury of being able to stop – either that or he was still hooked and needed to feed his habit.

  135. hic8ubique permalink
    May 31, 2011 2:37 AM

    Baking hot here today as well,EdT, after a geological epoch of grey and drizzle. It felt good to be out in my skin after the sun went down.
    I can take a cab thirty miles from home to the airport for a flat rate of $70.
    We’d drive each other, in the usual way, but it’s good in a pinch.
    If we’re due at the airport in a bad time for traffic, there’s a coach that covers the second half of the journey for $12.
    ‘Kill me now.’
    Mowbray, you very nearly did me with that one.

  136. hic8ubique permalink
    May 31, 2011 12:37 PM

    *Fog at Dawn*

    The Sicilians are going mad,
    blaring and bellowing in the streets:
    Not the way I’m accustomed to wake up.
    Plus, PH is silent.
    Is it the World Cup?

    No. Barcelona was mentioned…
    which would have been ‘Spain’,
    so… the Finals for Europe?
    Is that what you watched, Dear?
    have I missed them again?

  137. Reine permalink
    May 31, 2011 7:07 PM

    I have my rubber gloves on, bandages and dressings of all shapes and sizes and antiseptic sterile wound wash at the ready should anyone need first aid.

    “Bend over please, sir, and take a deep breath”

    “Oh, there’s something stuck in your GUM…”

  138. InvisibleJack permalink
    June 1, 2011 11:37 AM

    Just back from London, but will be off again soon for a literary festival here in Kerry. Won’t be back again until Sunday night maybe.

    Thanks for the post over on Perp Walk, Mish. Love the picture.

    Reen, I am not prsently in need of first aid but I will keep you in mind for the future.

    Belated birthday wishes to MM. I’m not particularly interested in a Mowbray tattoo, but a Mowbray t-shirt would be perfect for the summer. Are any currently available?

    Jack Brae

  139. Reine permalink
    June 1, 2011 1:44 PM

    Hi Jack, the first aid gag was just my roundabout way of asking if everyone is ok. I sincerely hope no one would ever need to rely on me in an emergency although I am the designated first aid officer on my floor, which people find highly amusing. They won’t be laughing when they need one of matron’s special triangular bandages.

    Off to Listowel, eh? Lucky you.

  140. hic8ubique permalink
    June 1, 2011 3:51 PM

    When you said rubber gloves, Re, I envisioned something along these lines:

  141. Reine permalink
    June 1, 2011 10:32 PM

    I can’t post comments on new post. Am I blacklisted?

  142. hic8ubique permalink
    June 1, 2011 10:38 PM

    Surely not. How vexing, just as EdT has made a tart remark.
    I’m just about to make rhubarb custard pies: tart and sweet. It’s not possible to explain how this simple combination makes the best ever universally enjoyed pie, but I imagine it could be an excellent ice-cream flavour.

    • Reine permalink
      June 1, 2011 11:53 PM

      Daddy’s birthday cake?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      June 2, 2011 12:52 AM

      Indeed! You remembered that? Not from last year?
      This year, I’ve used coconut oil as well as butter in the pastry, now that it’s been exonerated.

  143. mishari permalink*
    June 1, 2011 10:40 PM

    Blacklisted? Don’t be silly. I have no idea why you’re having a problem. A wordpress bug, perhaps (it does act-up sometimes: it just signed me out without being asked to). Try refreshing the page or signing out and signing in again…

Comments are closed.