Saturday 30 June 2012

Joss Whedon's Shrimps

Potted shrimps from Morecambe Bay
Such sots in butter drowned
Decapod crustaceans
They never buy their round
Potted shrimps from Morecambe Bay
Drunk, swarm up demanding why
Of passing innocent foxes
Why they cancelled Firefly?
Potted shrimps from Morecambe Bay
Drink to forget Doll House, off their coast
So think of them, and Buffy
As you spread them on your toast

Thursday 28 June 2012

Beckham Snubbed

Lighters, three forra quid

David Beckham is said to be upset by news that he has not been picked for the Olympic squad. Beckham (currently playing in the Congo Outdoor Ice Hockey League) has served his country admirably both during the Olympic bid itself and the subsequent need to beat rationing in order to stage the games at all. ‘I even look a bit like a spiv now,’ the former captain of England announced in industry mag Hello, before rolling up his sleeve to reveal a dozen moody Rolexes, ‘Want one?’.
It is said that if you cut Beckham in half it would describe service to country through his middle, albeit spelled badly (but with three exclamation marks). Way back in the early days of the last war he served for the first two series in the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard, dividing his time between there and Portobello Lane (where he would scare children possessed of a magical bed knob). Later more commonly associated with barrel-organs whilst walking across the lawns of St. Trinian’s without Beckham’s efforts in recent months the British Olympic effort would have been sorely lacking in nylons and petrol coupons. Alas a professional athlete, Beckham does not qualify where originally the amateur status of Olympians was put in place to prevent gentlemen having to compete in tests of strength with the likes of blacksmiths and labourers.
            ‘I just want to serve me country,” said Beckham. ‘And shift this ‘alf undred gallons of red petrol what fell out’ve a lorry.’ 

Tuesday 26 June 2012

More Lovebots

'Go away, I'm halfway through painting that Rush album on my wall'

Middle aged men thought to have read books when younger are set to demonstrate at the weekend over the shocking state of Britain. ‘The recession is a nod in the right direction,’ said cyberpunk aficionado Brian Tool, ‘but otherwise society has yet to descend into the urban chaos we were promised in the 1980s.’ Using the internet – which the lobby complains has been undermined by people who can’t spell – the march intends to force the government to be lot more secretive in its dealings with shadowy-corporations. Also for corporations to be a lot more shadowy. ‘Look,’ Mr Tool went on to say, ‘it’s no good if smart technology involving phones and personal computers has entered every pocket and every home if it then just becomes all too ordinary. I tried hacking into the local council database last year and a policeman came round and asked me to stop. He should have shot me.’
Whilst already the coalition have promised to unveil exciting new cyber-related initiatives set to reduce the home counties to something a bit more like Blade Runner by 2015, Labour leader Ed Milliways has been quick to point out that he sounds like something a bit like might have been in Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, ‘And that’s pretty cyber isn’t it?’ the leader of the opposition declared from inside his big leather trench coat.
Mr Tool, an IT Manager from Stevenage, has promised the virtual presence of millions at Parliament Square this Saturday, threatening that heads will roll when enough people like his proposal on Facebook. ‘When oh when will the so-called leaders of this country realise that what is lacking from society is a lot more pollution,’ then, ‘and chrome lovebots.’   

Monday 25 June 2012

A Very Tasty World

The 1973 film of Michael Moorcock’s novel of the same name, The Final Programme did not find favour with the author. Few authors do, I suspect. To see your story stamped to bits and remade by another at least it shares enough with the original that fans are able to enjoy what is, after all, the only time we’re ever likely to see Jerry Cornelius on the screen big or small. Moorcock does praise many of the actors who improvised and made the best of it, and because of them then this is a film that’s always going to make me smile.
I first saw it late one Sunday night as a youth, in black and white and on whatever used to show left field films before Moviedrome. I did not see it again until a couple of years back at a friend’s house, and then shortly thereafter for the third time at the BFI where Moorcock the great man himself sat across the aisle from us before standing up at the end to sat once again say how he really didn’t like it at all. That made it no less special. Nor less that (myself at the time heavily bearded and bent upon a walking stick) his good lady wife shooed away the masses so that I could exchange a few words and a photo. Michael Moorcock’s big by the way. His great paw could fell any number of upstart young authors with one swipe.
Perhaps because I’ve seen it the film less times than I’ve read the book it remains special for me. I choose to see it as the same characters with rather loosely, almost, the same, sort of, not really at all, plot. In keeping with the milieu another version crossed across the multiverse, just as the original is the hipper, more ravishing telling of the early Elric myth. There are giant plastic bubbles with Hawkwind in the background. There are psychotropic defences on mysterious family piles. Great rolling automobiles come with cup holders and whisky. Miss Brunner is more delicious than villainous, and Jon Finch is a very good Jerry indeed. Admittedly why in the film where the Final Programme itself is a self-replicating perfect being it is represented by a crippled ape I don’t think anyone is entirely sure. But it’s the 1960s as we really would like it to have been. Where heroes if you have to have them, are as anti as they are reluctant. And where climactic fights go terribly awry with the hero scrambling away from an angry Greek, and with shouts of ‘Miss Brunner, I’m losing!’
And it allows the shot above where on set Moorcock and Cornelius are sharing words. So all in all it was still a very tasty world indeed.

Saturday 23 June 2012

Merchant Ivory's Hawk The Slayer

To her surprise, he seemed annoyed. E. M. Forster

The Merchant Ivory production of Hawk The Slayer (famous for being one of the few films not to make it to DVD from video) is finally out on Monday. The 1980 classic stars in an early role Helena Bonham Carter (daughter of famous hard man Jack Carter) fled to some fantasy realm or other in the wake of her father’s violent death on the Newcastle seashore. Despite, or perhaps because of, her heritage Hawk (Bonham Carter) has been brought up in a strictly English upper-class home. Probably by elves.
Offered a room with a view Hawk begins a journey of realisation and maturity with the aid of an elf, a dwarf, and Bernard Bresslaw. Shocked when Voltan, an English gentleman (Jack Palace) grimaces and grunts his way through a dry stool passing for conversation she is left with her reputation in tatters when (contrary to the views of Edwardian society at the time) he fails to marry her, having spoken to her. Swearing revenge she takes up her father’s sword, a magical weapon that shoots out its many blades; although that might have been Krull. In a climax involving the breaking of an engagement, everyone dies despite the elf being able to fire many times due to each shot being replayed rapidly.
The film ends with Voltan’s death in the Italian pensione where the deed was done, in the room with a view.
One of the very few films at the time open to young men that had read Tolkien it has in more recent years forced even the most determined to admit that it was, realistically, a bit shit.   

Friday 22 June 2012


With Britain drowning under the all-new summer, the Church of England has been forced to make a statement today concerning the storms and record rainfall. Spokesmen for the CofE the right Reverend Brian Sewell simpered to reporters when faced with a barrage of questions concerning whether god was having a right old laugh? Denying this to be the advent of the apocalypse Dr. Sewell was able to point to the shocking lack of bike gangs roving the countryside, raiding for fuel and complaining about their backs to the sound of Steeleye Span.
When pressed on the issue of the fucking ridiculous weather Reverend Sewell was forced to admit that god had made a mistake; not knowing in the event that Glastonbury wasn’t on this year.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Bestseller! Fifty Bags Of Litter (Review)

Five quid for a handy round back of the bins

Rollicking through the best seller list, Fifty Bags Of Litter is the latest soaraway success already defended before the inevitable attacks upon it as ‘at least it’s enabling the badly middle aged to read the dusty instructions on that cheap, plastic vibrator they were given as a joke one year by secret santa.’ Originally Womble fanfic, working under the pseudonym E. L. Whisty the secretive author has been left largely bemused, on a park bench, in a mac, worried that he might not actually be quite so funny without Dudley Moore after all.
Fifty Bags Of Litter is the erotic tale of the overly described Wombles no longer confined to Wimbledon Common, but in the case of young, sparky and virginal Chardonnay Womble freeing herself from the oppressive sexuality of the burrow by becoming the sex-muffin of Jarvis Womble, of Soho. Much as The Story of O did for the sale of masks, and the Velvet Underground did for sales of Venus In Furs, the streets of Britain are already looking tidier as furtive women somewhere between mutton and lamb wander heath, park and common picking up litter and putting it in recycling bins. Bubbling and fizzing away to the clink of Panda pop bottle in bank, otherwise deserted supermarket car parks now whisper to such passages as ‘the slurp of wet cardboard on rim’ and ‘his soft paw crinkled to the sound of toffee wrapper and dog egg’.
Fans of this the first in a three part series (already dubbed scrubbers) have been reported screaming faintly at the sight of a kite caught in a tree. One such scrubber spoke to us covertly from the till of the local Tesco, asking as we filled our bags ‘are you underground, or overground’.
I hope you are all set for the summer of Wombling free (love).
And some pretty mediocre bondage.  

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Saturday Night Thunderdome

Competition between channels to secure the limited attention of the viewing public on a Saturday night has been rife in recent months. People unable to read a book have forged the advance of popular culture for drip-fed circus-maximus entertainment towards the likes of The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent, and Freak Show-disguised-as-documentary. The media war for viewing figures has even taken to the front line (and front pages) of newspapers. Skirmishes there have been fought and lost as celebrities, involved in sneering at the very public they seek to court, revealed fatuous details about their sex lives. Rather than, say, news. Yet every attempt to revitalise the format viewing figures have dropped them ever further. However last Saturday’s graphic display of Simon Cowell butchering with a bayonet a selection of actors and writers caught up in burlap sacks to literally bleed the last chance of any real drama returning to our screens has seen a scramble across the airwaves.
Coming this autumn (and each trying to trump the other) aspiring hopefuls are to be set on one another in a big cage. Two contestants will enter one will leave as flaccid mums from Dagenham compete with starry-eyed sixth formers to disembowel their fellows with chainsaws and rusty-iron gardening tools. Yet even this format is not a new one, originating as it was in Holland with Veel Plezier Moord - ‘big fun murder’. Judging will be performed by briefly-shining stars and old crooners who will (depending on the national phone vote) deliver the coup de grace to the defeated aspirants to fame and limited fortune by stamping on their barely-alive faces with spiked heels and bags full of spanners.
The sneering classes are already sneering at the coming spectacle, with a sneer; The Observer’s Gaius David Mitchell has already Twittered three simple words, ‘Needs more lions’.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Valiant & The Bomb (Pt. 7)

If it didn’t fly it fell apart, panels banging like allotment sheds in the wind. How it came be here was less of a mystery than how it had landed at all, the pale sides and wings of the old Vickers Valiant painted so as to reflect the blast of the A bombs as it passed away over Russia. I still think of the Soviet Union as Russia. I once met a radio ham down Evesham way that had occasional contact with the country and here some years after the silly little war. Neither spoke the other’s language but according the ham he seemed like a nice chap. Mme. Roux judging my mood suggests that the Valiant never flew at all, though how it came to be half pushed into the barn now no one cares to speculate.
She’s humming the Blue Danube, which Captain Cecil finds enormously amusing. I confess the joke eludes me. The V-Bomber force was Britain’s great deterrent. It remained so for at least four years before the deterrent became a detriment. All those old nations with their atom bombs cruising about on patrol it must have been like dodgems up there. And neither had anywhere to land as everyone went for the airfields first, this perhaps the last and there are chickens in the bomb bay.
“So what will you do now that you no longer have an army of the horrid to conquer and compare?” Mme Roux wants to know. I’ve been relegated to the duties of cook so it’s eggs for tea.
Captain Cecil taps his nose. I never liked him when he looked set to bring the sort of order loved by the idiot and the knave. I like him even less now he’s doubtless thought of something better. I suppose I should be glad. His army of ruffians would have been worse than brigands sweeping across the land. At least brigands don’t believe they’re doing it for some higher calling. The sum total of people eager to grab hold of the first good cause that can be explained in words of no more than two syllables has dropped sharply. Two doors over before the bombs fell my neighbour Mrs. Speight used to lose her milk some mornings, right off the step. She would blame (in that irritating hiss of static always in the background of party or post office queue) Mr. Shergil for that, and indeed anything else that occurred. Mr. Shergil worked on the busses and had won a medal at Monte Cassino, one of 100,000 Sikhs to fight for the British Army in that war. I couldn’t help thinking even at the time that having lost an arm to German mortar fire he probably had better things to do than steal milk, but that was Mrs. Speight. Mrs. Speight would have voted for Captain Cecil. Not that Captain Cecil, or what he had represented, had really been much concerned with election results.
With all this in mind you will perhaps think I would be glad for what happened, what this pair did? Cleverly bringing a big bomb into the camp used by Cecil’s nasty little army and with it blowing up the majority whilst they waited in line for their supper. But I don’t. Ends simply do not justify any sort of means to me. I’ve heard that tripped out any number of times and never by anyone I might once have included on my Christmas card list. If Mme. Roux and Cecil showed now any sort of remorse, any scrap of worry, any shuffling of the shoulders under the burden of what they had done then I might feel differently to how I do now. But they’re too busy chuckling over their own cleverness for that, enjoying the same worn out joke like the grammar-school boys I once taught reciting Kenneth Horne; their bad impressions as irritating as their repetition.
So I hope they both like their omelettes.
You can’t make them without cracking a few eggs.

Saturday 16 June 2012

Old Sarum Slide

If I have a favourite place, it is probably Salisbury. And right on the fringes of it (and only recently being softly crept upon by new housing estates) is Old Sarum. An iron age hill fort with evidence of human occupation going back 5000 years it contained the city of Sarum and all within a nudge under 1200 foot in length. The Romans made the town Sorviodunum here and successfully the British and the Anglo-Saxons held the steep ditches and high banks as safe strongholds. The Normans naturally enough added stone, and a castle – and a cathedral.
It was a thriving place close to five rivers and gathering the trade roads in. It was a Plantagenet royal palace. In the 13C the cathedral was replaced by that which grew into the majestic example that still stands two odd miles away, and about which Salisbury grew. More recently it was the epitome of the rotten borough. No one lived there in the 19C, but it was represented in Parliament (including by Pitt the Elder). It is now quite lovely. The mounds and ditches entirely intact with the inner bailey still showing the foundations of the old castle (sold by that villain Henry VIII for materials) and the wide-sweeping outer those of the cathedral. It is peaceful, dramatic if you have the eye for it, and far less crowded and more personable than nearby Stonehenge.
It is also and more pertinently to the Slide, the first place I purposefully went off the roads-well-lit. I’d been slipping across the Slides since I was fourteen. Finding myself (when really not caring for school) for a week somewhere else. I must have been a very accepting youth for it never worried me to spend days at a castle in Cheshire, or in some last defended outpost of the early 1970s on the Dorset coast. I’d skipped and slid every year or so for some years before Sarum, always finding my way back and helpfully without parents really noticing. But asking around when later I lived not far away it was Old Sarum that came up in those guarded conversations one has with others that know the slides. Where you don’t actually mention things directly, but you both know of what you speak.
To Sarum I went on the night discovered, with pack and all the necessities and there before the sun rose was able to leave, and to here – more or less. I’m using the internet right now, and there was none of that before I went to Sarum. Little changes that I still see. Soon afterwards and in this slide my eldest daughter was made, so I’ve stayed. And here cut off in this island of Tolly Maw, without busses and no easy route home I have for a while to remain.
But I know the date, and the time, and one day I’ll go home - most reliably through Old Sarum, because I can’t afford any more to trust to the random. And I do wonder how many differences are there now, because time has moved on and no slide stands still. So even when I do I’ll never know truly if where I fetch up is from where I began at all.
So go to Old Sarum. I’d tell you when not to go, but the chances of you falling away are slight as it’s only one moment, on one date.
So just enjoy the view, but note; not all you see is where you can go. For when the light is right not all you see is where you’ve been. Or might go.

Thursday 14 June 2012

What Did She Buy?

Kirkland Wilson Jonathan Airey
Liked Zeppelin, Marx, and Julian Clary
Warned by the bishop on St. Andrews fairway
He’d never get to heaven that way
Unless like Plant, he took the stairway
And it makes me wonder

Wednesday 13 June 2012

For Local People

“I’ve had a bit of a shock,” I said earlier today. Followed by, “Who are you?”
I could hear by the creaking of boards that Mme. Roux had appeared in the room we’ve decided it’s best to put aside for her. Entering and speaking I found not she, but quite another - though outwardly at least of much the same breed.
“Georgina,” she informed me.
“You’re not Mme. Roux?”
“No,” she was very definite on that. Mme Roux, she went on to explain, was a clown. A lazy, fickle woman who depending on circumstance and story pretty much took on whatever role was offered. Indeed she very much suspected that was rather the point. “Whilst I am not prepared to be some arty New Worlds strumpet.” Nor was she. Recalling her then I asked if she had not retired? She’d been a character I’d been involved with for some seven years now, and now a little unexpectedly looked set to be so again. And she had no intention of changing, however ironically. “So why have you had a shock?” this perhaps to ameliorate her outburst.
“Mark Thomas is playing soon,” and more so, “Here. In the local hall.”
“And he is?”
Well if there was he, Mark Steele and Stewart Lee then there’d be quite the perfect comedy evening. Mark Thomas, libertarian-anarchist and jolly funny with it. Most recently for me on the radio, and I adore good radio comedy. That was the People’s Manifesto. Whereby the audience presented offerings for a political manifesto that would stand, and did, in the elections. Such things as – and I quote (albeit) badly:
That Windsor be renamed Lower Slough
That spoons should be demonised in order to reduce knife crime.
That children given silly names by their parents should on reaching a certain age be able to return the favour
Anyone in favour of banning immigration should sign a register preventing them from holidaying abroad
If it pisses down on a bank holiday, it shall be considered a rollover
And he’s appearing locally. Walking-distance locally, at the Kirkgate. Now if only my better half can get home from work a little early I could be there. With a pint, laughing. Astonishingly.
“Don’t you get a lot of satire round here?”
“The last I heard at that venue,” I explained, “Was I.” With my winning piece for the Campaign For Real Fear flash-fiction, and a goodly portion of my scathing poem Peter Chunt.
“Then go.”
So I might. But I bet it won’t be possible. Bah!  

Monday 11 June 2012

Prometheus Pre-View

Thelma, Brad Pitt, Louise

Being the only person I know that has yet to see Prometheus it’s clear that I’m the one person capable of giving Ridley Scott’s latest blockbuster roller-coaster of a sherbet mushroom cloud a fair and impartial review. I approached not so far seeing Prometheus with some trepidation. Opinions have been widely divided from Paul Internet’s cutting endorsement I will hunt down Ridley Scott for this with acid-dipped kittens so as to literally sponge the affront he has personally made at me from his face to the less robust words of Cornelius P. Constantine I put aside an evening of foie gras painted pleasure where Kate and Kylie had intended to fly me to their secret pleasure-island in order to see this and it was better even than the Cote de Nuits shower that followed, plus I saw it on the plane.
I realise despite avoiding spoilers that it is intended to be a prequel to Thelma & Louise, the 1991 chick-flick for powerful, confident women tired of stereotyping – co-starring  a semi-naked Brad Pitt in a cowboy hat. Personally whilst I like the franchise I’m one of those rare people that preferred T&L3 to the more gung-ho Thelmas & Louises that sat between the-then trilogy. Whilst I applaud the efforts to not simply retell the same story of two women on the run after rightly murdering a bastard, the second film rather drove the point home too hard for me with its pack of Colonial Marines being whittled down by a never-ending legion of shiny, biomechanical xenomorphic willies. Same message, but different and as I say I applaud making the second so different whilst remaining in the same mythos, linking to a over-arcing milieu. The third, T&L3, subverted the rape genre by using the setting of a space-gaol for religious-criminals. All bald, and all in polo neck jumpers. At the risk of digressing too far, the fourth in the series Thelma & Louise Serenity nicely rounded things off by having the (by-now) cloned Thelma & Louise end the film driving their massive space ship into the Earth.
So as an honest and impartial review I only have this to say from all evidence presented to me; it’s as pretty as Jonny Depp with a c-cup bosom made entirely of Glenfiddich malt that will see you hacking to ruin the neighbour’s puppies, with a rake, wrapped in barb wire, made of hate. Both splendid and vile, where you will in the pub afterwards be able to argue the pint away as to whether Thelma & Louise were actually nexus-series replicants too.
With aliens in it.   

Sunday 10 June 2012

Joe Swash To Host The Sky At Night

Sky At Night is to be given a facelift as part of the BBCs continued strive for excellence, impartiality, and relevancy in society. The Sky At Night (the world’s longest running television documentary with the same presenter) has seen musician Sir Patrick Mower at the helm since its inception on the 24th April 1957. Mower’s qualifications for the role can hardly be faulted and indeed were the likely reasons for his more famous role as Captain Jean Luc Pickard in dribbling science-fiction fan-favourite Star Trek; We Surrender. But in order to make astrology more widespread than fans of Brian Cox’s recent series on star signs, tarot and candle-magic bold moves have had to be made.
I was privileged to be sent an early draft of the new format now to be fronted by celebrity king-presumptive Joe Swash. Swash, formerly starring in EastEnders as well-meaning but fumbling buffoon Mickey, and winner of 2008s I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here is noteworthy for achieving every actors dream of nearly constant work on tele without ever having to act at all. It is thought that Swash will bring a warmth and appeal that the former presenter Sir Patrick Swayze has in recent years been criticised for lacking.
Here’s Our Joe (presently unaired) on the subject of meteorites:
‘It’s a natural object what falls from space. Not to be confused with meteoroids, which you can get cream for. Space is even bigger than London but ain’t in London, in which is mostly nothing, which sounds like something that ain’t in London. There ain’t no panto in space. But there is lots of nothing. Sometimes this nothing falls in places like London, but mostly not, and when it does it’s called a meteorite. They have been found on the moon, and on Mars, but my mate Dave says the government knows more and they are probably space alien landing craft. My mate Dave says they should fuck off back home. I don’t ‘cause I love everyone, and my mum. And that’s swearing that is. When they come to earth they make fireballs. Bloomin’ Nora there’s fireballs falling on us from space! But basically they’re rocks what fall from space, or don’t ‘cause I’m told it’s gravity, so it’s more an attraction really, it says here. Gravity was invented in 1687 by Isaac Newton so there weren’t any before that. Meteorites are of three types. Stony ones, iron ones... and stony-iron ones. Strewth, can’t they come up with better names? Like, I dunno, Joey ones, Swashy ones, and Joe Swashy ones?'
My mate Jerry’s head is set to explode in two weeks time when the new format The Sky At Night will be shown in its new slot, 4.30 on CBeebies.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Bath Salts, Mumpers and Combusitble Pancake

In the news today and the dangers of ‘bath salts’ - which presumably are a street drug (but of which two words frankly I couldn’t nowadays say I know anything of either). I barely know the city of Bath though I lived relatively near for a number of years, only ever spending more than a passing-through moment when my better half decided on a career in ballooning.
It’s arguably the best way to explore, for without maps or compass (but with a very decent hamper) what upstanding Englishwoman in pith helmet and jodhpurs could fail to bring the light of tea and a decent sandwich to the four corners of the globe? Not that globes have corners, but as I’ve already mentioned – no map. So whilst Q’s basket laden down with rhino saddles, combustible pancake and many stout shoes rose into the air from the park I had to engage myself otherwise in Bath.
It was admittedly midweek (few true explorers care to set off to the hubbub of crowd and the gutter press). Also during the holidays, thus seeing the student and slum landlord scuttle respectively for parental washing machine and country seat. Yet nonetheless and with such in mind the city of Bath was dead. I had not seen then, nor at any time since, witnessed such a vanishing of people. Such an absence of life, such a dearth of company – and I you might remember once lived in Cumbria. I walked square and Georgian folly. Through market covered and parade cobbled. There was no one, not a soul. Distantly I recall there was the sound of traffic, albeit fading. It was as if the city having agreed that one of us, Q and I, were to venture to worlds new and eerie then it had mistakenly assumed that such bold exploration was to be by my good self? Alas, I had not even the smallest of mosquito nets upon me. Only a pad, and two pens.
After finding two pubs (shut) I decided against rattling on doors or ringing bells for fear that I would in a whisper be warned away. To not bring upon that house the ‘Mumpers’, those morris men with net and clay pipe set to beat the bounds of Bath and chase to sausages anything scruffy found between the hours of six and nine.
It could happen.
Until by chance I found a pub that was open. Smaller, more wooden, made of smoke and wrecked ships I entered the lopsided door, took a pint and a seat, and scribbled away. I was almost the only person there. Apart from, and importantly, twelve drunken morris men. They served their selves, and I, and muttered amongst themselves.
To me they said not a word. I replied in the same manner. They left an hour after my arrival and I followed a little later, for the pub then deserted still seemed to know a lot more about what was going on than did I.
The mumpers did not appear. They were not in wait. There were no calls, nor the sound of tiny bells.
I was clearly not scruffy enough.
And that was Bath.
Salts or otherwise. 

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Lay Grouter - Nine Outmost Stretched

The Vixen (a woman of remarkable looks)
Remarked to the looks of our Grouter
That her house was a house of respectable folk
Not a house for a thrusting young shouter

‘A shouter moreover,’ the Vixen averred
‘For whose lusts we must charge as deranged
Would put us to counting (for we charge by the hour)
And we possess not the coins to make change.’

Her patrons, said Vixen, were elderly gents
Who paid well to engage in invasion
Of those in her house in voluminous slips
Rarely so coarse as to rise to the occasion

They would fumble and thimble at bows and at stays
Until by corsets and girdles defeated
See their hour run dry as they fought at such layers
Until exhausted, their ardour depleted

Then happily home with a spring in their step
To mansion and palace they’d wend
Content that indeed they were manly men
Whilst no guilt there upon them attend

‘Why,’ swore the Vixen with hand on her heart
‘In all the years I have serve their predation
‘Not a one that has paid to sample our wares
‘Has ever suffered to regret penetration’

Princes and bishops, bankers and lords
Crossed nations to sample her whores
Yet not a one on completion, and on the way home
Could be accused of reaching their drawers

The den of the Vixen was a reputable house
That serviced by menu aberration
And not a one of those fine men that came through the door
Ever feared for their lofty reputation

Grouter he stamped, and he wailed, and swore
To this meal with knife and with fork
He had come with a plate far bigger than most
Towards which he would go off like a cork

‘Is it too much,’ our Grouter would know
That he might with his butter find toast?
It wouldn’t take long, but a minute or two
Even undressing then three at the most

‘A woman, a woman,’ Grouter demanded
Fat, thin, curly, alive, dead; I’m not picky
As long as she’s willing (and prepared most of all)
Having been once upright, then shortly then sticky’

‘A woman?’ said Vixen, her heart sadly touched
By his plight, for she too was a mother
‘If a woman you want or such as resembles
You had best skip along to another’

For in the dark rooms where her gentlemen came
To dig at the layers and the smother
All they would find if ever they won
Would be girdled and tied - one another

‘Who you need is the Princess,’ the Vixen suggested
‘But be warned if you wish to inflame
Her passions for prickling at your sordid needs
Lie in celebrity, fiction and fame’

The Princess? thought Grouter, smoothing his hair
Indeed why not aim for the best?
For breeding, for riches, for long golden hair
And with luck quite a lot in the chest

Monday 4 June 2012

A Villain's Translator

Bill Sykes. Later, brother to Hattie Jakes

Of course you know the difficulty of being plunged into the late 19C? Since no one else seems to be offering any help, here at least is what the wretches of the criminal class are really talking about. Learn, ponder, and soon you too will be scowling at people and thrashing your dog Bullseye with the best of ‘em.

Abbess. A madame, the keeper of a brothel
Bearer-up. One who robs whilst the victim is distracted by a female accomplice
Bit Faker. A counterfeiter, specifically of coins.
Bludger, A violent robber.
Broadsman. A professional cheater at cards. Also a sharper, for whom a buttoner would have been a woman aiding in the enticement to such staged games.
Cly Faker. A handkerchief thief.
Dipper. A pickpocket, obviously.
Dollymop. Part time or by-need prostitute.
Dragsman. One who stole the baggage from coaches.
Duffer. A fence, a hawker of cheap, stolen goods.
Fine wirer. A renowned or particularly skilled dip.
Fawney dropper. A short-con man, typically using a cheap ring built up to be more valuable in a variety of common dodges.
Flimp. A bag snatcher.
Gegor. A beggar.
Hector. A pimp, especially a Haymarket Hector about Haymarket and Leicester Square.
Hoist. To steal from stall of shop.
Judy. A prostitute.
Kidsman. One who ran a gang of children thieves, Fagin-style.
Knap. Theft.
Ladybird. A prostitute, again.
Miss Laycock. The tools of a Judy’s trade.
Leg. A sporting cheat.
Lurker. One that posed as a beggar, typically as part of a greater theft or scam.
Macer. A cheat.
Magsman. An inferior macer.
Maltooler. A pick-pocket that worked public transport.
Mobsman. A well-dressed thief or conman.
Mollisher. A criminal’s lady or mistress.
Mug-hunter. Street robber.
Mumper. Beggar.
Mutcher. A thief that stole from drunks.
Neddy. A club or cosh.
Nobbler. A violent criminal.
Palmer. A shoplifter.
Prater. A pretend priest or preacher.
Roller. Typically a prostitute whose further aim was to steal from her patrons.
Screever. Forger.
Snakesman. Young or thin burglar.
Snoozer. A thief that preyed on hotels or hostelries.
Toffer. High class prostitute.
Tooler. A Pickpocket.
Transano. An especially bad, or evil man.
Vamp. To pawn stolen goods.

Sunday 3 June 2012


I hear, your majesty, that there is cross-dressing afoot...

Across England now and for four days the country is celebrating the latest jubilee of the Queen. Even ardent republicans (for the benefit of you all overseas, in England a ‘republican’ is a fellow that runs the local public house – or pub) are showing their opposition to the establishment of monarchy by taking a few days off work. Here in Tolly Maw though we’ve none of that. Not just because by ancient charter we’re actually a part of the Duchy of Burgundy – ceded by Edward VI after the Battle of Nancy to Charles the Rash – so much as people hereabouts had other stuff planned for this long weekend. So we did it all last week. The sprouts had their red-white-and-blue day at school. There was bunting, and there was Gloriana.
I remember the Silver Jubilee. I was nine years old and dressed in a bed sheet marked with an orange cross dressed as a crusader. I had a tinfoil helmet, aptly. There were street parties, huge celebrations in school, and I got a mug, and a fifty-pence piece. Being nine I rather missed out on all the punk that everyone else in hindsight claims they were all into at the time – rather than, for example, the disco that was actually the theme. Of course no more kids were punks at the time than they were crusties and greebos in the early nineties. And even fewer were hippies in the sixties, where the kids still wore suits and the UKs contribution to Vietnam was the music.
But here and last week it was the celebration of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Albeit Queen Elizabeth the first. Gloriana to her celebrants, big nose to her enemies. A few wore ruffs, everyone else baggy shorts tied at the knee, and we had at least a half dozen Gloriana traipsing about helping themselves to people’s bedchambers (where their hair and teeth fell out due to lead poisoning from the make up).
In a way it’s rather apt. Benjamin Britten’s opera Gloriana was first presented during the celebrations of the current Queen’s coronation. It’s part of the myth created about the heirless Elizabeth Tudor. The virgin queen, the faerie queen Gloriana, that filled much of the hole left by that other virgin with the dissolving of the English Catholic church. Sir Edmund Spenser’s poem The Faerie Queene was set to flatter the then-monarch, and as a Tudor monarch you bloody needed to heap on all the flattery you could. A time of absolute monarchy where Queen Bess at least had the wits and cunning to play it cleverly; whereas the Stuarts that followed did not. Of course this all ignored that to be a Faerie Queene was to be the top of the bastard pile. Woodlands full of malingering rapists, where unicorns were pot-bellied goats who only laid their horns in the laps of virgins. So, y’know, it was a unicorn – not Big Tom the miller’s-son with his giant hands then?
So here it was Gloriana, and because of that the twelve surviving Tilda Swinton (who flitting about with bright eyes burning with a hunger for our souls - also, Jaffa Cakes) cruised from one to the other like young David Bowies, androgynous and eerie.
But there’s no mug, which is a shame.
Because you can never have too many mugs, socks, or pens.