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Little Big Man

November 9, 2011


Thinking about Billy’s poem on Poem of The Week and trying to analyze just what it was about it that so signally failed to move me, I started thinking about childhood.

It make not seem like a natural progression but I was wondering what part or parts of me responded so strongly, so unequivocally to poems like Vachel Lindsay’s The Congo or Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman; to Lear’s The Akond of Swat and Eliot’s Macavity The Mystery Cat.

If you’d asked the 8 or 9 year-old me why I loved Noyes’ The Highwayman, I suppose I might have said: ‘because it’s a good story’; but I imagine that’s all I could have told you. Because the truth was, I didn’t know. My response to the poem was visceral and had nothing to do with reason or analysis. I loved it because I loved it.

I think that my responses, to this day, are more visceral than I care to admit. After all, I’m a grown-up and my responses should be those of a grown-up, at least that appears to be the consensus. So I’ve learned to rationalise with the best of them, as though there’s something shameful about instinct or gut-feeling.

Having reached a man’s estate, I can explain at great and tedious length why I love (or detest) a poem or a song. I can even be fairly plausible. But I suspect that behind the glib verbiage is the old visceral response. I love it (or hate it) because I love it (or hate it). The covert child’s response still underlies the overt response.

And maybe, just maybe the child’s response is more trustworthy, more truthful, more genuine than the ‘considered’ response. After the child’s response comes only artifice. However, one cannot, without appearing a fool or a philistine, simply say ‘I don’t like this poem because I don’t like it’.

But that is the reason that Billy’s poem does nothing for me. I can try, and did try, to explain my reaction in mature, adult terms but any such explanation is doomed to failure because it is post hoc rationalisation of a response that I can’t baldly state without appearing, well…childish.


It’s time we got back to writing verse. I’m getting slack. Partly, it’s been the absence of our old friend and frequent inspiration, Mowbray. Partly it’s because I’m a lazy bastard. Well, no more.

Let’s have childhood poems, please. About your own childhood; someone else’s; an imagined childhood or one you read about. Possibly even your (or should that be ‘my’) never-ending childhood. No matter. Hurry…you’re already late for classes and you’ll get no sick-note from me.

Here’s an old one of mine:

The Boy In The Bunker

I enjoy kicking my way through drifts
of dry and dead leaves, memory shifts:
I’m a small boy again, leaving a wake
that rustles noisily, brown and dry,
under a damp leaden November sky.

I still look at trees and think:
Is that a good climbing tree?
The qualities I see are a link
with the boy; with the animal joy
of feeling my gibbon ancestors.

I still look at hill-tops and woods
and weigh their merits as robber dens;
I kept thinking, on a visit to the Fens,
a fellow could hide out here for good:
It makes absolutely perfect sense

I still look at tunnels and wonder:
where does that lead? If I need
an escape route, will that do?

I can’t see a derelict house without
imagining long-lost treasure hoards:
gold coins beneath the floor-boards.

The boy never really grew up nor
went away; he’s still there today,
regarding me with a mocking eye,
scorning pretension, guarding the door
that opens on dismal, on false, on grey;
quick to say: hate this, hate that; dunno why.
All I can tell you: I know it’s a lie

  1. Reine permalink
    November 9, 2011 8:53 PM

    Over My Shoulder

    The Brackens had an orchard
    Where we spent endless childhood days
    Swung from boughs, ate bitter apples
    Piled twigs high to make a blaze
    Brown limbed, bursting with goodness
    Full of hope and light and love
    Glinting tresses, summer dresses
    All about a treasure trove
    Of wonder, whirling whimsy
    A melting pot of blonde and brown
    And blue and green eyed children
    Roaming loose about the town
    Sought no favours but received them
    Teeming from we knew not where
    There were fairies on our fingers
    And angels in our hair

  2. Reine permalink
    November 9, 2011 9:03 PM

    You were a cutie, weren’t you? The cock of the head is still recognisable. The mocking eye is a killer.

  3. mishari permalink*
    November 9, 2011 10:19 PM

    Thanks, sweetie, although that ‘cock of the head’ remark made me stop for a second and examine the photo. Is she calling me a dickhead? I thought. Then I twigged. Sorry. Bit drunk, Which is why i shouldn’t post long rants on POTW. Ah, well. With any luck the mods will make it vanish soon, although the fuckers left my Obama comment up for nearly 48 hours before wiping it. Baffling. I suppose some arsehole complained.

    Good poem, BTW.

  4. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 9, 2011 10:43 PM

    Youngest of four boys, knees covered in warts,
    Perpetual wish-I-was-somewhere-else thoughts
    Buck-toothed to the point of self-loathing
    Dressed in a generation of hand-me down clothing.
    Bottom of the family pecking order. bullied at school
    101st in a list of the 100 most cool.

    Looking back at it now I was the weirdest damn kid
    I have no idea how I survived
    But I did.

    • Reine permalink
      November 9, 2011 10:48 PM

      That’d bring tears to a stone Ed.

    • mishari permalink*
      November 9, 2011 10:53 PM

      Good one, Ed (sobs brokenly)…

  5. Reine permalink
    November 9, 2011 10:46 PM

    Nothing wrong with a well articulated rant. Needless to say I wouldn’t ever call you a dickhead – you would require a far more expressive insult if I were ever inclined, which is highly unlikely. I meant, as you know, the angle of your head/ your bearing – regal even in a pair of swimming trunks.

    Thanks; I have fond memories of that orchard and the freedom of those days. There is a photo of about twelve communicants from the area, hanging out of the trees, veils askew, socks at half mast and bewildered parents in a haze of smoke.

  6. hic8ubique permalink
    November 9, 2011 11:02 PM

    Ooh, must go investigate, prioritising the most vulnerable…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 9, 2011 11:23 PM

      No, there’s nothing to delete there, despite perfect sense.
      Here we see a well-put-together child. I said something on Flicker about contrapposto, but really… a swimmer’s physique, caught in a classical moment by someone with a good eye.
      Brilliant to have this preserved for your grandchildren, M.
      Still catching up… but how wonderful to have a visitation from freep (!) I’ve been assembling his Christmas parcel, so if he should look in here any rococco requests may yet be taken note of…

  7. hic8ubique permalink
    November 9, 2011 11:47 PM

    Oh, I love your poem, Reine, a beauty.
    I seem to have made this one just last summer,(probably posted here) but had completely forgotten it:


    Sidelines teach me what in childhood’s dream
    I missed while tromping woodlands with my dog,
    or barefoot combed the landing, dammed the stream
    for eels, or plundered frog eggs from the bog.

    Sidelines: children surging up and down
    the pitch, the track, the court, pool, dojo, rink
    in uniforms of sponsor, school or town;
    head-gear, cleats, bright jerseys’ numbers inked.

    Sidelined fevered parents cite the scores,
    watch the balls: hard, oblong, pebbled, pied;
    the tries the shots the laps the runs: brief wars
    enacted. Agitated have-beens bark: ‘Offside!’

    Sidelined: on paddock rail, or bleacher seat…
    cast back to hours on saddles, trampolines,
    or exploring under water in the heat;
    an unwatched child, in free and scoreless scenes.

  8. Reine permalink
    November 10, 2011 12:03 AM

    Thanks Hic, back at ya,.I don’t remember reading that before. Particularly like that last line. Goodnight x

    (Anything rococo will do me)

  9. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2011 12:21 AM

    Yes, lovely, hic.

    I see that whining pest @ellymiranda is back with the usual prolonged paranoid moan about how unloved she is and it’s all a conspiracy by social networkers and in-groups. My God, what a twit. It wouldn’t be so bad if she was at least amusing…but, no; just unpleasant in that grating passive/aggressive way she has.

  10. henrylloydmoon permalink
    November 10, 2011 8:57 AM

    Brilliant poems, you lot. Every one a winner.

    • November 10, 2011 2:40 PM

      Thanks Henry … hope young Hal might make an appearance.

  11. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2011 10:41 AM

    Gov. Rick Hairextensions suffers brain collapse; just the man you want with his finger on the button:

  12. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2011 2:02 PM

    Another re-tread:

    Doctor Living-Room, I Presume?

    I was a bold and manly little chap,
    forever seeking my Darién Gap,
    but I came a cropper at Coopers Creek;
    when they found me, I’d been dead for a week.

    The Nullabor Plain was an essay in pain,
    Tasmania was a devil to get to,
    in the Flinders Range, we never saw rain,
    they said there was gold; but it ain’t true.

    On Norfolk Island, I gazed at the pines,
    in Papeete I was sweet on some brown girls,
    in Guinea I seemed to do nothing but climb,
    in Shark Bay, I went after the large pearls.

    In the Andes I stumbled on lost Inca towns,
    mist-shrouded and over the tree-line;
    in Antarctica, snow-bound with other cold clowns,
    I said, calmly: “I’m going out; I may be some time”.

    I’ve settled down now, don’t explore much these days,
    don’t miss it at all, to be perfectly frank;
    the cannibal tribes, the malaria, the bribes,
    the leeches, the snakes and the water that stank.

    Still, though retired, and naturally coy,
    it does raise the odd quiet smile,
    when people say: there, do you see that boy?
    He discovered the source of the Nile.

  13. November 10, 2011 2:26 PM

    Little Big Man

    I trod the boards at six
    In the role of Sleeping Beauty
    The Prince cried when he kissed me
    Hurt my feelings, tell the truth he
    Was a sap…dressed in a gown
    He’d borrowed from his father
    Clothes maketh not the man
    Then as now I would much rather
    A fellow kiss me with some passion
    Than just fiddle with his tassles
    Lest his bits fall out of fashion
    Fall they did and rose again
    When he came into his own
    Then t’was I who clutched the robe
    And cried too, if truth be known

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 11, 2011 3:02 AM

      I remember this story… it’s slightly upstaged by a brand new photo. Very smoldering, you, likely to melt the icicle earrings.

      Today they were saying Romney had appeared with his hair slightly disarranged.

  14. November 10, 2011 4:17 PM

    “‘t was” and I ballsed up my rhyming scheme.

  15. mishari permalink*
    November 10, 2011 6:37 PM

    The comic genius of Herman Cain continues to reveal itself. He’s now launched a website, aimed at hitting back at his various accusers and nay-sayers. I’d only read a few paragraphs when I hit on this beauty:

    “Since the media went bananas over this so-called story, my schedule has not changed in the slightest. I have continued to make all planned public appearances. I have continued to answer questions about my 9-9-9 tax reform plan. I have continued to do everything else that our strategy proscribes.” (my italics)

    Uncanny comic timing, no? Unless he really doesn’t know what proscribes means and has confused it with ‘prescribes’? Nah…I’m going with the comedy angle. The Herminator is an intentional spoof. In evidence, I offer:

    “Consider: I held various executive positions in corporate America for several decades. I had thousands of employees working for me. I can’t even begin to recall how many conversations I had with people during that time, how many directives I gave, how much friendly banter might have taken place.”

    OK, I give up…how much ‘friendly banter’ might have taken place?

    And this, for bare-faced effrontery, takes the biscuit:

    “It’s easy to make accusations when, by virtue of your anonymity, you don’t have to be held accountable for the claims you’re making. It’s easy to publish them when, like Politico, you don’t follow basic rules of journalism by naming your sources or giving any details whatsoever about what supposedly happened.”

    As Cain knows perfectly well (or would if his memory wasn’t so darn bad), the pay-offs those women received included a ‘confidentiality clause’: they can’t talk about what happened or reveal their names…unless Herman gives them leave to. Think he will? Let’s see.

    Check Herman out yourself at:

  16. hic8ubique permalink
    November 11, 2011 2:49 AM

    This one was from when I first arrived at Poster Poems…

    for Colin

    ‘Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
    could it be a faded rose from days gone by
    and did I hear you say he was meeting you here today
    to take you to his mansion in the sky?’

    I still hear your trumpet solo
    volunteering, carrying over
    your tomatoes, our rock garden,
    perfect every time, like everything
    you did— first chair.
    At least my microscope was electric,
    and we might sit on our furniture.

    I learnt from you not to bother
    competing; just keep up
    and no blubbering.
    Learnt that too,
    the anxious look on a man’s face
    that says, as I crumple,
    ‘You’re not gonna cry now, are you?’

    Knew I’d never measure up
    when you proclaimed the end
    of my wild childhood,
    me just eleven, outside
    by my trapeze, with Stewie looking on:
    ‘Put your shirt back on; you’re a girl.’

    Captain of our neighbourhood,
    then the football…
    I’m sorry now I lost my
    temper, when you confessed
    I had an admirer ?!
    Never understood why
    you had to spoil a good time;

    why you would so often stop
    a game to go wash
    your ghost-white hands,
    or why you ritually rounded
    Mr Ryd’s post-box every day.
    Never knew that I lived in paradise,
    that you didn’t.

    It’s strange how promptly
    the dead arrive, quick on a fancy
    unlike slow-solid friends.
    Here you are! younger than me now,
    valedictory address still resounding,
    how perfectly unchanged, except
    for your shattered heart.

    Of course I loved you!
    like running barefoot in brisk chirping fields
    spooking the drowsy Haflingers,
    like secret knowing where blackberries ripened.
    It’s just that then I felt,
    there in fresh piney South-woods,
    our tree-forts were good enough.

  17. November 11, 2011 11:05 AM

    That’s really good Hic; I’ve lost one of those much loved earrings.

    This, also from Poster Poems…

    Song for a Six Year Old

    Had we known then
    What we now know
    Would we have savoured the natural glow
    Of our peachy young skin
    Our long lustrous hair
    Lack of inhibition
    Devil may care?

    Would we have believed
    That little would top
    Nature walks in the woods
    Or a dance with a mop
    On the stage?

    Would we have bottled
    The innocent joy
    We felt when first we danced
    With the boy
    We thought loved us?

    Had we known then the surprises of life
    Would it have saved us from subsequent strife?

    And would we have relished with far greater care
    The singing, the laughter, the silliest hair?

  18. hic8ubique permalink
    November 11, 2011 2:37 PM

    Girls, Girls, Compose Yourselves.

    Girls, you are giddy;
    get out of the kitchen.

    We’ve only come in
    for my caraway cheese

    (convulsing with giggles)
    crystal-dished lingon

    tips up in the ice-box
    I’ve spilt the lingonsylt!

    (weak in the knees)
    Out with you! Off with you!

    sorry, Great-Auntie

    triumphant escape with
    the caraway cheese.

    • November 11, 2011 3:48 PM

      You gave me a dose of italics!

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 11, 2011 6:09 PM

      Not sure how that happened… hasty, careless…
      I need a gloss for yours.
      Is it ok to say that …in an innocent way?
      I remember once saying I’d been knocked up in the night, and causing some bridled reactions.

  19. November 11, 2011 3:47 PM


    A time before language was loaded
    With a double entendre or twelve
    When a prick was the pinch of a needle
    And a tool helped a carpenter shelve

    When a shaft was a place you’d find miners
    And a screw held your pictures aloft
    Big knockers made a door look attractive
    Shag, the pile of your Granny’s rug, soft

    When to “give him one” meant a Malteser
    An oral, an elocution exam
    A poke was to carry a pig in
    And the horn was one part of a ram

    When a shift meant work started at four
    And a muff kept your hands warm in winter
    And a snatch was a bar of a song
    And The Basement a play by H. Pinter

    A tossed salad was some messy lettuce
    And a rosebud a bloom in a vase
    A cock was the spouse of a chicken
    Roger was a Bond with pzazz

    Ah yes, jelly came partnered icecream
    And oil was for putting in cars
    And a mound was a big load of topsoil
    Where Pussy sat gazing at stars

    • November 11, 2011 4:19 PM

      …partnered “with” icecream please Ed when you come in from the cold.

  20. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 11, 2011 4:08 PM

    Controversial Reine.

    I’m not a big James Bond fan but was Roger really a Bond with Pzazz?

    I think not but we’d need to call in our blog-host ( when he’s finished pretending to be a statue in Covent Garden ) to pronounce upon this.

  21. November 11, 2011 4:15 PM

    Poetic licence Edward. I don’t think he will appear until his tip tray is overflowing; he could be waiting. Mime into recession doesn’t go.

  22. mishari permalink*
    November 11, 2011 4:56 PM

    Roger was a Bond with Zzzzzzzz…the man was a fucking snoozfest. Moore was one of the worst ‘actors’ of the 20th century. I have spoken.

  23. November 11, 2011 4:58 PM

    Well, fuck ye anyway for being so curmudgeonly, I thought it was a good poem ;)

  24. mishari permalink*
    November 11, 2011 5:23 PM

    Forgive me, my dear…in my hasty hit-and-run, I neglected to compliment your fine poem, which I’d intended to do. An oversight (not a slight) that I’m sure you’ll forgive.

  25. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 11, 2011 8:57 PM

    Just watched an extraordinary film “Le Quattro Volte”.

    No dialogue, no actors and the Italian Billy Mills on camera/editing.

    To begin with you think you are going to get a realist documentary about the tough existence of a goat-herd in a poor, Italian village. You do in a way although it’s not a documentary and it turns into something quite unexpected. For a large part of the film goats are the main characters and there’s a brilliant sequence with a sheepdog that’s almost like Jacques Tati.

    Hollywood won’t be remaking this one.

  26. Captain Ned permalink
    November 11, 2011 11:30 PM

    I don’t know… maybe a cartoon with Eddie Murphy voicing the goat.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 12, 2011 9:57 AM

      Bruce Willis in an Armani vest ( a nod to the Italian original ) with cigarette smoke curling into one eye: ” It’s time to take out the goats”

  27. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 9:59 AM

    I downloaded it a few weeks ago, Ed. A strangely beautiful or beautifully strange film. Was the goatherd re-born as a goat, which then became a tree which then became charcoal which then cooked goat…? I still can’t decide if that’s what happened or whether it was something else. I was glad I watched it, though.

  28. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 12, 2011 10:12 AM

    Yes it’s difficult to know who directed it. The sheepdog scene is led entirely by the dog. Of course you can train dogs to a lot of things and a good sound editor can manipulate the sound to push the audience in a particular direction but this seemed like a mixture of a prepared scene and an improvisation within the scene. The Roman centurions arriving by lorry was a particularly good touch,

    Ashes to ashes I thought. A great soundtrack as well, almost like a David Lynch film when each section faded to black.

    Interesting too to watch such a minimal film in the light of the Mills debate on PotW ( good posts by the way ).

  29. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 10:25 AM

    Yeah…ashes to ashes is what I got, too.

    Someone remarked that the sheepdog was the only professional in the cast, which is almost certainly true. I loved the fact that the whole film required no dialogue. This surprised my wife, who has me down as a words-based life-form. Which is true, but mainly because words are actually needed most of the time. Good to see a powerful film that did without them.

    I watched another film that same evening (it was a WTF double-header) called Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives that I can recommend, if you haven’t already seen it. By a Thai film-maker whose other works I intend to seek out.

    A rare adequate piece by Jonathan Jones on Paul McCarthy:

    In a video he made in the 1970s, McCarthy wears a woman’s silver wig and cavorts naked in his bathtub. As he moves about in the bath, he begins to apply various sticky organic substances to himself. He picks up a handful of raw sausage meat and tries to eat it. He gags, but keeps it in his mouth. Then his throat jolts and his face bulges with the effort not to vomit. Again, he keeps his mouth closed. Eventually, he is violently sick. He shoves another dollop of raw meat in his mouth, goes on plastering his genitals with kitchen sauces and bathroom products.

    The first comment calls McCarthy ‘vacuous’. Which is almost comical in its wrong-headedness. Whatever else McCarthy is, vacuous he is not. A vacuous artist, intent on fame and fortune, would emphatically not have been making videos like the 70s one described above.

  30. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 12, 2011 10:33 AM

    Did you see Paul McCarthy’s Whitechapel exhibition 3 or 4 year’s ago? It was in the Whitechapel gallery itself and also in a warehouse just off Brick Lane. Not too far from your London pied-a-terre I would imagine.

    It had a very realistic animatronic sleeping pig. Which as you might imagine caught our attention. It was smaller than our version and realistic to the point that the anus puckered each time the animal “breathed” in and out.

    Some of the stuff ( sets for videos ) was vast. For someone who makes such near the knuckle work he has huge budgets to work with.

  31. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 10:39 AM

    I did, Ed. It was more like 6 or 7 years ago, I think. I’d never even heard of him but a friend dragged me along. I’m glad I went: some of the works featured in my dreams for months afterwards. It’s only been in the last decade or so, since his stuff started selling, that he could really afford to do vast pieces, or so I read. Apparently, he’s just bought a submarine.

  32. Captain Ned permalink
    November 12, 2011 12:04 PM

    Mishari, the Thai director you have in mind is Apichatpong Weerasethakul (or Joe, as I believe his friends call him). His Syndromes and a Century is my favourite film of the past ten years. Long, slow, virtually plotless, with very little action or dialogue: just as I like it. He’s one of the rare directors these days who pays as much attention to the sound design as to the cinematography. Tropical Malady is also extraordinary.

    At first, I misread ‘Paul McCarthy’ above and thought the nude bathtub antics with raw meat and vomit were performed by the former Mr. Heather Mills. It’s no surprise that music video never saw the light of day, though it would have worked perfectly with ‘Mull of Kintyre’.

  33. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 12:26 PM

    That’s him, Ned. In addition to the ones you mention, I want to get hold of: Mysterious Object at Noon (2000), Blissfully Yours (2002) and The Adventure of Iron Pussy (2003).

    You’re absolutely right about his use of sound; it was really extraordinary. He reminds me a bit of David Lynch, who uses sound in a similar sort of oblique, slantendicular way that’s both slightly disturbing and at other times transcendental. I thought that the soundscape beautifully complemented the dream-like nature of the film itself.

  34. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 12, 2011 12:59 PM

    There was a fantastic Radio 4 programme about sound which featured Alan Splet ( great name for a sound man ) who did the sound for Lynch’s early films. I have no idea whether it is available online but it;s a little gem. It also featured the sound editor for the Coen Brothers.

    Now that winter draws on we’ve signed up for one of those sofa cinema schemes. Joe Weerasethakul sounds perfect for those long winter nights.

  35. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 1:21 PM

    Ed, you can download the program from Splet’s wiki page HERE.

    I think it’s the same program, described as : “…the last part of Christopher Cook’s “Dancing Shadows” series about sound design in film…” it first aired on Radio 4 in 2002. Does that sound right?

    Anyway, it’s an .rm file (real media), meant to be played on Real Player.

    However, it plays just fine on VLC or GOM player (another free media player that I recommend.

    In fact, after years of championing VLC, I’ve switched to GOM, which is just as good but doesn’t keep crashing or refusing to play files, things which the last few releases of VLC Player have been doing.

    GOM is freeware and can be downloaded HERE

  36. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 12, 2011 1:25 PM

    That’s the one.

    I should do a bit of spadework before I mention these things. But I’m obviously still too old school in these matters. A new year’s resolution.

  37. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 12, 2011 1:50 PM

    My mind is currently as active as a bowl of cold porridge, but I’m trying very hard to write a poem. I’m actually trying very hard to write a simple sentence. Anyways, in the meantime I hope you’ll forgive me posting an old pome from PP as my price of admission. (Somewhere below.)

    My dad appears to be on the mend. Managed to get him into hospital, where he’ll be for another two weeks at least by the looks of things. He should have gone there three weeks ago, but incompetent doctors and a conniving health “system” conspired to keep him at home with my 83 year-old mother. They were content, it seems, to let an old woman keep him alive (and nearly kill herself into the bargain). Mum, of course, kept us all in the dark. She’s a saint. (And sometimes incredibly foolish.) Anyways…

    I salute Paul McCarthy’s vision of scale. He’s a man after my own heart. Mind you, a submarine is a tad on the small side. I once claimed the moon as a found poem, and now it’s mine.

    Jack Brae

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 12, 2011 8:21 PM

      Let the moon out once in a while, Jack,
      at least when he wants to post a poem.

  38. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 12, 2011 1:54 PM

    An Irish Schoolboy Aids
    in the Communist Struggle
    for World Domination

    Got / ‘cause I / was big –
    Russian / Fighter / MIG:
    nineteen- / sixty- / six,
    grey-boxed, / from / Airfix.
    Smudge / preserved / in glue,
    (my / thumb-print / his view),
    pilot’s / cockpit / glare:
    me / his only / where.
    The plane / snapped / a wing:
    Dad / trod on / the thing.
    Thus I / left / the war;
    cried / an hour. / No more.

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

    • Reine permalink
      November 12, 2011 5:08 PM

      That’s a great poem Jack. Hope your mind is a bit more at ease since your visit.

  39. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 2:31 PM

    Jack, it’s just as well your involvement with the Communists ended with your plane being put out of commission: they just would have broken your heart. Great poem, BTW.

    Glad your father’s getting better and sorry to hear about the incompetence that had him at home, placing such a burden on your ma…still, with the CamaClegg vision of a privatised NHS well on-track, I’m confident that AsdaCare (formerly The National Health Service) won’t be prone to such errors…plus, they do a ‘have 2 heart-attacks, get the third one free” offer that’s hard to beat..

  40. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 12, 2011 2:54 PM

    Mish, it was a tough decision: become a journalist on The Morning Star or be a poet. Both offered pretty dismal futures. I think, however, that I chose the most wonderfully dismal of the two. One bitter regret, however, is that poets, unlike those communists, didn’t get a shiny badge. I so wanted a shiny badge.

  41. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 3:13 PM

    They can’t get away with this. I’m going to insist that you get a shiny badge. Meanwhile…

    Looks like it’s all over for The Herminator. The American Mustache Institute has announced that they are withdrawing their endorsement of Cain’s candidacy.

    So long, Herman; it’s been swell knowin’ ya:

    Amid a storm of allegations levied against Herman Cain, the American Mustache Institute today announced it had rescinded its endorsement for his presidential candidacy.

    Concerns began when members of the AMI administration, during a campus scouting visit near Washington, D.C., visited a Godfather’s Pizza in the town of Cross Junction, Va.

    “We ordered the ‘All Meat Combo’ that claims to be ‘piled so high with beef, pepperoni, sausage, ham and bacon bits that there’s no room for any veggies,’” said Dr. Abraham Jonas Froman, chief executive officer of AMI. “But it had limited meat on it at best. Do you understand what ‘piled so high with beef, pepperoni, sausage, ham and bacon bits that there’s no room for any veggies’ really means? Cain clearly does not.”

    Then allegations came to light that Cain’s mustache is not real, but actually a theater quality upper lip garment, and not the labia sebucula (Latin for “lip sweater”) he claims to have worn since his early 20s.

    “Even after our endorsement of Cain on CNN we continued to do our due diligence relative to his mouth shading device,” added Dr. Froman. “The evidence continues to mount that his mustache is a fraud.”

    Now, sadly, the Mustached American community finds itself at a crossroads as Cain would have been the first Mustached American President of the United States since William Howard Taft left office in 1913, and the first major party presidential candidate of Mustached American heritage since Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.

    But with the evidence of both pizza and mustache fraud, Dr. Froman and other members of the AMI administration said they could not in good conscience support his candidacy on behalf of the powerful Mustached American electorate.

    “The truth of the matter is that we are the sharp end of the stick amongst our people,” said Dr. Michael Grubb, AMI’s Curator, National Mustache History Museum & Director of Mustache Analysis. “We’re going to have to poke a hole in his campaign.”

    …and I’ll bet you thought I was kidding.

  42. InvisibleJack permalink
    November 12, 2011 3:22 PM

    Thank you, Mish. I fully trust that you will exert all your undue influence to secure for me a shiny badge.

    However, I will not be requiring an upper lip garment.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 12, 2011 3:53 PM

      [I’m all over it, Boss]

  43. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 12, 2011 3:47 PM

    A kestrel in my garden, an unfamiliar face
    But it carries on like it’s familiar with the place.
    Entirely possible, how come I haven’t noticed it before?
    Thinking that I turn and smack into the living room door..

  44. Reine permalink
    November 12, 2011 5:20 PM

    Well, I went out to celebrate the President’s inauguration and am a very unwell girl today. I hope Michael D. appreciates how I suffer for him.

    A kestrel Edward? I remember as a child watching Kes, the Loach film, with my Dad and asking him to buy me one. He told me they only lived in England.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 12, 2011 6:23 PM

      I’m pretty sure all the superstitions and convenient truths in my family came from the Irish.
      Grandmother told me that if I cut an earwig in half and sent one piece to China, the halves would find each other and reconnect.

      You do suffer for love, Re…
      I’m sending Jeeves round with a flask of his special concoction. x

    • Reine permalink
      November 12, 2011 8:27 PM

      He must have been eaten by a bird of prey on the way over but thanks for the thought. x

  45. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 12, 2011 7:16 PM

    Reine there’s a motorway at the bottom of our garden which you can’t see ( it’s a drop of about 30 metres ) and you can barely hear. Motorways are very popular with birds of prey. Roadkill and a large population of mice draw them near.

    When we first moved here 7 years ago there were a pair of kestrels. They used to hover above the verges of the motorway almost level with the garden fence. One time I could have leant over and touched one. It didn’t notice me at all, so intent was it in pinpointing its next meal

  46. Reine permalink
    November 12, 2011 8:09 PM

    I didn’t know that about motorways. We have a lot of pheasants strutting about at home but only small birds here. Don’t think I have ever seen a bird of prey other than at a demonstration once.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 12, 2011 8:26 PM

      Our Season

      With more light, I
      began to know
      you’d be back
      and on the day
      for the Thunderbird
      I’d cut a vase
      of apple boughs
      for your room.
      At last,
      sitting with you

      in your voice on the settee:
      your much-anticipated cup,
      Kents, and peppermint pocket
      light travel suit, tan
      crinkled skin, and for me…
      something wrapped and tucked
      away in your suitcase.
      No comfortable chair, Grandad
      stiffly at the piano shuffling
      for some proper music.

      Now we’d stop our
       and letters
       and until
      November far away
      I’d be home.

      You still arrive every May
      just your warm voice, and
      a little something
      else to remind me.
      Every November still
      stark with loss.

    • Reine permalink
      November 12, 2011 8:31 PM

      Oh now you will make me cry. Lovely.

  47. hic8ubique permalink
    November 12, 2011 8:39 PM

    Aw, thanks, Re. I came across it today, half-made and forgotten. Perfect encouragement to finish it.
    How weird there’s an article on caraway. Hadn’t thought about that in years, until M’s suggestion of Edam as spackle.

  48. Reine permalink
    November 12, 2011 8:46 PM

    I had a rapunzel-like longing for that orange and caraway cake today when the nausea had passed. Sadly Hugh Firmly Whittington hadn’t sent one over or the kestrel ate that oo.

  49. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 8:55 PM

    Lovely, hic.

    Speaking of birds of prey, I was sitting in a local park one day, enjoying the sun and reading the paper, when I caught a sort of fluttering commotion out of the corner of my eye. I looked up just in time to see two birds, locked together, hit the grass about 15 ft. from where I was sitting: a peregrine falcon (despite their rarity, a not unusual sight in London, where they nest on the City’s towers) and a song thrush.

    As I looked on frozen in astonishment, mouth open in amazement, the peregrine attempted to shift her position to deliver a killing blow. Usually, it’s the kinetic energy of being hit at 200 MPH that kills the prey, but I’m guessing that the falcon had launched her attack from a low building ledge and hadn’t attained anything like terminal velocity.

    Anyway, as she loosened her grip to change position, the thrush broke free and scrambled into a nearby stand of thick privet hedgerow. That was it; the thrush was home free and the falcon, after peering at the hedge for a moment or two, shook herself and took to the skies again. A fantastic and utterly unexpected sight in the heart of a great city.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 13, 2011 9:50 AM

      I’ve done shows on Trafalgar Square quite a few times. They have ( or used to have ) a couple of peregrine falcons permanently in the employ of the council to hover over the square and put the frighteners on the flocks of pigeons.

      Foxes have moved right into the centre of London, apparently bees are safer in cities than they are in rural areas ( although the sheer volume of mobile phone signals can’t be good for their navigation ) so it doesn’t surprise me that birds of prey follow suit ( although how I make a link between bees and buzzards is anyone’s guess ) .

      You occasionally see film of vultures circling around in the skies above some African and South American cities. Maybe a campaign to reintroduce vultures into the UK is in order.

    • mishari permalink*
      November 13, 2011 11:17 AM

      “Maybe a campaign to reintroduce vultures into the UK is in order.”

      I take it, Ed, that you’re unfamiliar with The Conservative Party?

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 13, 2011 11:26 AM

      Good point but I was thinking of those vultures who wait until something is dead before pulling it to bits. The ones with moral scruples and a sense of where their place is in the grand design.

    • mishari permalink*
      November 13, 2011 11:42 AM

      Very true, Ed…if only Cameron and co. would aspire to the moral and intellectual stature of vultures…

  50. hic8ubique permalink
    November 12, 2011 9:13 PM

    Thank you kindly, M.
    Two strangest sightings…

    Juvenile bald eagle, not normally seen on this coast, looking so hugely out of proportion to its surroundings it seemed prehistoric.

    Red-tail hawk fluttering like a lavish Native American ornament stuck into the roof-rack of a van on the road to Connecticut, the driver unaware there’d been an impact.

  51. mishari permalink*
    November 12, 2011 11:34 PM

    Now this is what I call ‘poetry:

  52. mishari permalink*
    November 13, 2011 12:08 AM

    Just in case you had any questions about what ‘the NHS is safe in our hands’ actually means when spoken by Tory scum:

    The first private company to take over an NHS hospital has admitted in a document seen by the Observer that patient care could suffer under its plans to expand its empire and seek profit from the health service.

    Circle Health is already feeling a strain on resources due to its aggressive business strategy, the document reveals, and the firm’s ambition to further expand into the NHS “could affect its ability to provide a consistent level of service to its patients”, it says.

    The company, run by a former Goldman Sachs banker, was awarded management of Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire last week in a ground-breaking move lauded by ministers as a “good deal for patients and staff”. — The Grauniad, today

    Fabulous…our Health Service is to be run by ‘… a former Goldman Sachs banker…’. What could possibly go wrong?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 13, 2011 1:14 AM


      Acute pneumonia? … fever… too weak to cough…
      I understand, Mrs Wildman;
      we have an appointment for you in three weeks time…
      I’m terribly sorry, but…
      Oh, cash?
      Yes, I see.
      The Doctor can see you at 10:30 this morning…

  53. hic8ubique permalink
    November 13, 2011 12:39 AM

    Good old John…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 15, 2011 2:43 PM

      John! You are causing a road-block. That was not in your contract.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 17, 2011 1:49 PM

      Little: it’ll titillate

      Little Italy:
      (italically Italia )
      Italy littler,
      Italy reiterated

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 18, 2011 3:10 AM

      REPLY: Bridge Over Stubborn Busker

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 18, 2011 3:16 AM

      [It works. Just click REPLY to the most recent comment.]

      Mishari~ As far as having something interesting to say, I’d welcome a distraction from Iant Arbiter of Cruel Evil and Leah Maybe It’s a Threesome, if you felt disposed to tell us why you couldn’t love DHL…

      “I tried…but I just couldn’t do it (for various reasons that I doubt will interest anyone).”

      Sometimes I can’t tell whether this sort of remark arises from ennui, or from you really believing we aren’t interested in hearing your considered views.
      I find I appreciate his poems even more than I did thirty yrs ago, but don’t feel obliged to explain if it bores you…

      So sorry about John the Beaver Dam. How embarrassing to have put such a modest soul into an awkward position.
      By the way, EdT, he plays Anglo concertina, rather than melodeon. Very difficult instrument, each button a different note on the inhale to the exhale.

      Heard Miranda July on WBUR’s On Point this evening speaking about The Future. She was amazingly gracious and lovely despite a caricature of an interviewer.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 18, 2011 9:34 AM

      Lawrence is an odd fish. It’s difficult not feel that the reason I laugh at the John Thomas bits in Lady Chatterley is because I am just being embarassed by how unembarassed DHL is, I’m terribly British and all that.

      When I read certain 20th century British authors I wish they’d stop being so aloof and authorish but when I read Lawrence who ought to be a counterpoint to all that I just wish he’d step back, stop breathing down the back of my neck and stop seeing himself in everything. I thought Billy Mills put it well on the thread.

      James Joyce is a great example of someone who mixes earthy passion with lofty thought. Lawrence just sounds so silly even though he was a useful blast against certain British tendencies.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 18, 2011 5:14 PM

      XB the trick to get past hic’s musician is to pay him ( he also takes plastic ) or click on a reply for one of the comments below the video.

      I’m getting your usual plague mask in yellow avatar.

    • November 18, 2011 5:32 PM

      Pay a musician? This is the 21st century.

      And “I’m getting your usual plague mask in yellow” is the best out-of-context sentence I’ve seen for a while. You should be seeing green seed pods.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 18, 2011 7:08 PM

      Hi Exit. I’m getting pea-pods. Have you been to Oslo? I hear that’s the worst.

    • mishari permalink*
      November 18, 2011 7:21 PM

      Hello, XB…I’ve been reading some of the stuff on your blog. I enjoyed Powder very much. I was rather disappointed that you hadn’t made Forgiving Shakespeare available as well…

      I’m getting your old yellow avatar.

    • mishari permalink*
      November 18, 2011 7:22 PM

      Oh, OK…if you put your pointer over the yellow avatar, you see the pea-pods…

    • henrylloydmoon permalink
      November 18, 2011 8:53 PM

      A bucolic abacus:

      Manchester United 8, Arsenal 2.

      No doubt.

    • November 18, 2011 9:51 PM

      Just replied, Mishari – but it’s up at the back somewhere.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 18, 2011 7:05 PM

      That’s helpful, EdT. Thanks. I’ve not read his novels (and not likely to, as novels seem not to hold my interest anymore, though I’ve loved them in the past) but some of the poems make an even more powerful impression than previously.
      Carol’s remark: “He’s a great observer and sensor.” is, I’m sure, the reason this is so.

  54. hic8ubique permalink
    November 13, 2011 2:51 AM

    New candidate put forward by the Universal Moustache Institute:

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 13, 2011 11:42 PM

    Arboreal Apology

    Autumn again, and now the trees
    perform their once a year striptease
    when all the clothing’s finally gone,
    we rather wish they’d kept it on.

    Each falling leaf reveals a part
    that wisdom might keep off the chart,
    a wizened trunk, a spindly limb,
    that wrinkled, rough and spotted skin,

    those red-rimmed eyes, that thinning pate,
    these knock-knees I really… but wait,
    this is less to do with sylvan health,
    it seems to be about… myself!

    Using nature as a psychic map
    is a sad failing in a chap,
    it’s disrespectful to the tree
    to make the focus me, me, me.

    Am I Wordsworth, who saw his face
    in every wild and rugged place,
    whose team of introspective bores
    made mountains into metaphors?

    I’m not. So let me send to trees
    my sincerest apologies,
    in making them a lyric cog,
    I’ve been a dull and graceless log.

    Bit late with the Autumn poem (though technically it is still Autumn, I believe). I should have Childhood ready for the New Year.

    I very much appreciated Bonjour Blanc. 360-odd pages on Haiti did seem slightly daunting, but in the event I couldn’t put it down. Spanish Steps I enjoyed up to say page 220 (or 60% as I now think of it), but the donkey-jokes did start to wear a bit thin after that point. Some interesting historical stuff, though, all of which was new to me. Thanks for sending me them.

    Stewart Lee’s ‘How I Escaped My Certain Fate’ is highly recommended.

    • Reine permalink
      November 13, 2011 11:58 PM

      Hey, nice to see ya. Like the poem.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 14, 2011 11:04 AM

      Melton Mowbray returns

      An early morning walk still in the dark
      Passes a heap of leaves in the park.
      I’m less of a walker more a shuffler
      In the Autumn air, a grey duvet muffler.
      You can hear every thought that you’re thinking
      You can see the drunks on the benches already drinking.
      The leaves start to rustle there’s another sound
      The movement is small and it’s within this mound.
      An arm appears, then head, then the whole toad
      Jumps out the heap, heads for the road.
      The drunks carry on with their drinking,,
      Given the title of this poem it’s not what they were thinking.

      Twenty minutes later I’m at my place of work
      Not much to do there but you should never shirk
      From logging onto the daily grind
      I switch the computer on with that in mind.
      Click on Politely Homicidal, there’s a familiar face,
      He’s returned to where he’s always been in virtual space.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 14, 2011 1:21 PM

      Aha, the tree hasn’t shed it’s wry humour, excellent. My first laughs of the day.

      Classic EdT , with a charming salutation. Love the ‘whole toad’.

  56. Reine permalink
    November 13, 2011 11:53 PM


    On a rug of gold
    Which matched the lamp
    Cross-legged, powdered, long hair damp
    We sat with towelled shoulders bent
    As mother brushed and came and went
    One eye to her apple tarts
    We steamed and watched in fits and starts
    A film about a King and I
    Which at one point made mother cry
    Then “Christ, the tarts” and up she leapt
    The pastry burned while mother wept
    Our hair just saved from equal fate
    By a teary “bedtime girls, it’s late”.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 14, 2011 1:23 PM

      Re~ that is a sweet scene. We had a heavy primitive hairdryer that stood on its own, and the tears were mine as my hair and mother snarled.

    • Reine permalink
      November 14, 2011 10:09 PM

      Goodness, that’s posh for you. I understand the snarling; ringlet formation was a violent activity chez nous.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 15, 2011 12:47 AM

      Ringlet formation, that’s another special Irish feature. I’ve seen the fake hair attachments for Irish step-dancers who aren’t naturally endowed with tight ringlets.
      Did you not have a hair-dryer in the ’70s?

    • Reine permalink
      November 15, 2011 10:32 AM

      My sister basically has an afro, which had to be tamed into submission in the form of ringlets. I was spared the ignominy of ringlets but not of Irish dancing. At least in those days, we only wore a shawl pinned in place with a brooch and a pair of new white knickers under our bog standard dresses in case the wind blew them up in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

      We did have a hair-dryer but it took about three hours to dry one’s hair.

  57. hic8ubique permalink
    November 14, 2011 1:28 PM

    Long Trail Screwed

    Grinding remorse
    yesterday’s roast
    for shepherd’s pie;
    wonder where he
    got his beef.

    Inking blank recipes
    with an asp’s tongue
    the arm coiled taut
    strong in a long
    fitted torque.

    Unplug the toaster
    become a letterbox.
    maybe unshoulder
    that sheep;
    let it walk.

  58. Reine permalink
    November 14, 2011 10:04 PM


    A facsimile of you
    She smiles at me with your eyes
    Brushes your curls away from her face
    Tells me she loves me
    Tells me I am a girl like her
    Tells me you are a big boy
    And I am your Mammy
    A mirror of joy

    Her friend is Hector Kennedy
    Whose jacket is brown
    Her shoes are purple
    And her scarf is green
    I tell her I love her
    I tell her she is a girl like me
    I tell her you are indeed a big boy
    But I am not her Mammy
    This mirror of joy

  59. mishari permalink*
    November 14, 2011 11:37 PM

    Great verse from everyone…a big ‘welcome home’ to our lost lamb MM. Glad you enjoyed the Haiti book. ‘Spanish Steps’ was, admittedly, a mixed bag.

    And here’s why Herman ‘You want extra cheese on that, bitch?’ Caine is all-set for The White House…’I’ve got all kindsa stuff whirlin’ round in my head’..I’ll bet you do, Herm, I’ll bet you do.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 15, 2011 12:36 AM

      Oh, Ed. would you kindly give my squished format a bit of help there. It ought to be in three distinct segments, and separate from the title. Better you than me attempting it, Gunga Din.

    • Reine permalink
      November 15, 2011 10:34 AM

      Anyone who licks his lips that much is not to be trusted although one might say it’s the least of his shortcomings.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 15, 2011 12:44 PM

      He’s the Acorn of Swot; not much to show yet for his pains.

      Thanks for the tidy up, M.

  60. November 15, 2011 6:49 AM

    Thought this might amuse some of you:

    To characterize a linguistic level L, any associated supporting element is not to be considered in determining a stipulation to place the constructions into these various categories. By combining adjunctions and certain deformations, this analysis of a formative as a pair of sets of features cannot be arbitrary in the system of base rules exclusive of the lexicon. Analogously, the natural general principle that will subsume this case appears to correlate rather closely with problems of phonemic and morphological analysis. In the discussion of resumptive pronouns following (81), this selectionally introduced contextual feature is, apparently, determined by a descriptive fact. It must be emphasized, once again, that the notion of level of grammaticalness is not subject to a parasitic gap construction.


    Summarizing, then, we assume that the notion of level of grammaticalness is not to be considered in determining nondistinctness in the sense of distinctive feature theory. Let us continue to suppose that a subset of English sentences interesting on quite independent grounds may remedy and, at the same time, eliminate problems of phonemic and morphological analysis. With this clarification, the earlier discussion of deviance does not affect the structure of an abstract underlying order. On the other hand, an important property of these three types of EC delimits the extended c-command discussed in connection with (34). It may be, then, that this analysis of a formative as a pair of sets of features is rather different from the traditional practice of grammarians.

    Look On My Words, Ye Mighty, And Despair!

    • Reine permalink
      November 15, 2011 10:25 AM

      You only confirm my own view on the matter Simon. Many’s the putative grammar expert has fallen foul of that parasitic gap construction.

    • Reine permalink
      November 15, 2011 10:26 AM

      … you and Chomsky.

  61. hic8ubique permalink
    November 15, 2011 2:01 PM

    Time to move past poor old John…

  62. hic8ubique permalink
    November 15, 2011 2:42 PM

    I’m out of there too, EdT, a little too late, I fear.

    The Moral:

    Always be sure,
    as you crawl on your hands and knees in the dark,
    machete clenched between your teeth,
    to keep the business edge of the blade directed outward,
    lest you do a disservice to your own argument.

  63. mishari permalink*
    November 16, 2011 1:58 PM

    “Summarizing, then, we assume that the notion of level of grammaticalness is not to be considered in determining nondistinctness in the sense of distinctive feature theory. Let us continue to suppose that a subset of English sentences interesting on quite independent grounds may remedy and, at the same time, eliminate problems of phonemic and morphological analysis. With this clarification…” (my italics)

    That ‘…with this clarification…’ is a fucking masterstroke.

  64. reine permalink
    November 16, 2011 11:30 PM

    I fell foul of the email trap today by sending one to the colleague I was writing about. In some swift damage limitation, I sent a follow-up pretending I was only pulling his leg and he fell for it, such was the alacrity with which I practised the deceit. I only mention it because Don Quixote featured; it is our code for this fellow’s mysterious friend who chances by when there is much work to be done and occasions Sancho Panza’s exit stage left. He told me he would build me a windmill and we all laughed heartily. Ah, the life of the civil servant is rife with duplicitous entanglements.

    In other news, some of our politicians are recording a charity cd to raise funds for a suicide and self-harm crisis centre. Guess what the song is…. (recorded, I remind you, in an entirely non-ironic way by politicians who are widely considered to blame for the crisis which has led to a marked increase in suicide ideation and in advance of another swingeing budget)? Bridge Over Troubled Waters. I ask you… wouldn’t that make you seek out the nearest bridge and fling yourself off it?

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 17, 2011 2:10 PM

      If it helps you feel any better, Re, D once had an email from a woman he knew of professionally. In it she told off a colleague for failing to check her voicemail and missing a summons to work, then came the arch response from the colleague. Thence over the course of six or seven emails, the two women esacalated in defensively and formally ripping into each other. This sequence was inadvertently sent out to hundreds of people including all their business contacts, Senators, the Mayor of Boston et al. I think D deleted it after we’d rolled around on the floor for the day.

      Have you visited ExB’s new blog? He’s written a Shakespearean play featuring Don Quixote.

  65. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 17, 2011 12:03 PM

    Excellent review of Lady Chatterley posted up on PotW Mishari. Really made me laugh as well.

    PotW is closed but as I had lowered the tone enough on there I though PH the better place to respond.

    I remember Paul Merton doing an improvised sketch with the Comedy Store Players about Lawrence and the Bloomsbury set – constantly sidling up to women and saying “I’ll show you where the otters play”. and the like. The mention of otters in the poem brought that to mind and I couldn’t dislodge it sufficiently. Being improvised the Merton sketch was a you-had-to-be-there one but it was extremely funny. I refrained from adding that to the discussion as well, I know my place.

  66. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 17, 2011 12:05 PM

    There’s no way past John. If you try and go round him he just opens his melodeon out a bit further

    • hic8ubique permalink
      November 17, 2011 1:46 PM

      {{{ha ha ha ha hah}}} That remark from our physical comedian.

      PotW is open this morning,EdT. Must’ve been a glitch, and though this is, of course, the best place to respond, a ferret-in-the-trousers gag would not be off topic; the pony jokes are pretty close. Sometimes the tone there is in dire need of lowering.
      I think I got past John before by responding to him. I’ll drop a small consideration into his tambourine now…

  67. mishari permalink*
    November 17, 2011 8:17 PM

    Great line in the Ramones documentary; the speaker is Joey Ramone’s brother, who was one of the band’s roadies:

    “…Joey started coming out of his shell…y’know, gaining confidence…and girls started paying attention to him…girls that weren’t on medication…”.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 17, 2011 9:53 PM

      Did I imagine a complete overhaul of this blog’s look about 3 hours ago?

      If you say yes I may have to check myself into an institution or join John Roberts on stage below.

    • mishari permalink*
      November 17, 2011 10:08 PM

      No, you weren’t imagining things, Ed. It was some kind of glitch…everything turned black. I had to go into the control panel and re-install this theme…such are the terrible rigours of blogging…

      I have no idea why John is blocking the blog or how @hic managed to briefly circumvent the bastard (oh…having read @hic’s post above, now I do know). I suppose I’ll have to put up a new post: if only I had something interesting to say…

      BTW, Ed, I’ve got a film for you…Bellflower..there’s an excellent in-depth review of it HERE. I haven’t had the time to watch it myself but I am intrigued…

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 17, 2011 10:55 PM

      That’s a relief the new format looked like you couldn’t reait unless you observed the dress-code.

      Bellflower sounds interesting. We’re on one of those LoveFilm deals and one of Weerasethakul’s ones should be with us fairly soon. Watched Hellzapoppin last night.I haven’t seen it for years but with its film within a film and characters interrupting the film narrative to talk direct to the audience it’s actually quite modern in the way it goes about things. I say film narrative but there’s no discernible plot there.

      The jive dancing and jazz band interlude is out of this world – hepped up on goofballs I shouldn’t wonder.

  68. Reine permalink
    November 17, 2011 11:24 PM

    Rioja me aul sagosha
    You have undone me truly
    I’d better go to bed
    Before I become unruly

    “How ‘r ya John”

  69. Edward Taylor permalink
    November 18, 2011 11:26 AM

    Speaking of being terribly British

  70. November 18, 2011 4:33 PM

    I’ve never read Lawrence – he seems to embody a lot of my values but in my few encounters with his work he’s always seemed so, er, sincere.

    It’s very difficult to write frankly and directly about sex. Joyce does so brilliantly but, I think, elliptically. There are always hand-wringing articles every year about why the British have the need for a ‘bad sex’ award but, frankly, I can’t think of many authors who, ahem, handle it well. Henry Miller is too macho but I find Anais Nin weirdly prim. Often, as in film and theatre, sex only appears through themes of abuse or alienation, which is a shame. Celebration never seems an option. Pasolini gets close in some of his films, imho.

    I think language is one of the main stumbling blocks – when writing, what do you call genitals and their behaviour? In a play I wrote last year, the actors in the play within the play are happy to get naked but fall into a huge row about which words are offensive, which too cutesy, too clinical etc.

    Just got back from my first visit to Paris. A beautiful city, elegant and epic. And it’s disabused me of my belief that London is the most expensive city in Europe.

  71. November 18, 2011 4:35 PM

    don’t know why my comment appeared halfway up the thread. Also, I’ve got a new gravatar but here I’m seeing the old one. Can someone tell me what image you’re seeing as my gravatar? Thanks.

  72. November 18, 2011 9:50 PM

    Thanks for reading, Mishari. Glad you enjoyed Powder.

    And I’d be delighted if you wanted to read Forgiving Shakespeare. Pop your current email address to and I’ll send over a PDF of the latest draft.

  73. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 18, 2011 11:25 PM

    Human Resources

    Times are very hard indeed,
    said Mr Osborne to his kids,
    our debts are unsustainable
    this family is on the skids.

    In light of our current problems,
    and to stave off destitution,
    children, I think it’s only fair
    you should make a contribution.

    Dear Papa! cried the Osborne brood,
    we’re all ready to take the strain,
    but none of us have any skills,
    and poor Hugo is rather lame.

    Shut it! shouted Mr Osborne,
    will you force your parents to beg?
    ashamed, the children were silent:
    that night supper was Hugo’s leg.

    Jonquil’s arm was a lovely roast,
    and Toby’s blood was served in bowls:
    filleted, Theresa’s fingers
    made some fabulous sausage rolls.

    They ate well for several days
    on David’s unparalleled cheek,
    Danny’s brain was just a morsel,
    Eric’s buttocks lasted a week.

    Then Mr Osborne said to his wife,
    old girl, we’ve encountered a catch,
    we are running out of children,
    we must make another batch.

    So they repaired to the bedroom
    with a view to natal increase,
    but they found they couldn’t connect,
    they’d grown enormously obese.

    But the Osbornes weren’t all that concerned
    by the failure of their campaign,
    without a hungry family
    they could shop at Fortnum’s again.

    Chancellor or average joe,
    it’s a lesson you can’t ignore,
    neck those kids as quick as you can,
    those sponging bastards keep you poor.

  74. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 18, 2011 11:27 PM

    WTF? I’m halfway upthread.

    Thanks for the poem, ET. I was deeply moved.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      November 19, 2011 8:59 AM

      You are welcome MM.

      Glad to see the Osborne labrador didn’t get eaten. There’s still time though.

  75. MeltonMowbray permalink
    November 21, 2011 3:57 PM


    Though Barry was shot and killed in Belfast
    almost forty years ago, now and then
    when I’m thinking back on those childhood faces
    his ’50s hair and teeth come back again.

    We played at war together in the fields,
    Achtung, Englischer schweinhund! Hande hoch!
    the younger boys like Barry and me
    were always recruited by the Wehrmacht.

    We lost touch when I moved from the estate:
    it was long after that I heard he’d died.
    Now I’m thinking of the sequence of days
    that make up the forty years he missed,

    and, conscious I’m slowly fading out myself,
    I see him huddled in the Short Strand,
    the cold Ulster rain falling on his face.
    I hope you didn’t suffer, kamerad.

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