Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Pareidolic Christmas to One and All

Readers: Oh my, it's those Ancient Egyptians at th'Temple of Seti I at Abydos a-and they got attack helicopters an' fighter-bombers an' underwater killer boats a-and
                                                  an eight-legged bee
                                                                                   from th'Astronaut Gods!

Blogaeologist: Worry not, my little pals, is probably the names of Seti I and Ramasses II, one cut over the other, or a similar SNAFU. Just pareidolia, that's all.

Pareidolia: perceiving the distinct and meaningful in obscure or random stimuli.

Readers: Phew. That explains it. Th'eight-legged bee, f'rinstance...

Blogagogue: Try this one...

Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter Solstice + 1

Missed posting on the Winter Solstice by a day because I fell asleep. Oh well, only 87 days to go to the Vernal Equinox and the sun can start warming me old bones.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Women Are From Venus, Men Are Idiots

A fine research paper brought to us by the BMJ: "Sex Differences in Idiotic Behaviour", an analysis of Darwin Award winners...

To qualify, nominees must improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race using astonishingly stupid methods. Northcutt cites a number of worthy candidates. These include the thief attempting to purloin a steel hawser from a lift shaft, who unbolted the hawser while standing in the lift, which then plummeted to the ground, killing its occupant; the man stealing a ride home by hitching a shopping trolley to the back of a train, only to be dragged two miles to his death before the train was able to stop; and the terrorist who posted a letter bomb with insufficient postage stamps and who, on its return, unthinkingly opened his own letter. 

Never won a Darwin Award myself, but it's on my bucket list.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Jim'll Fix It

Yoicks! I just found two billion pounds and I'm going to give it all to the NHS!

Yoghurty yoghurty! Merkel merkel!

Hope I don't sound too much like Jimmy Savile.

Glurk! I just found two and a half billion pounds and I'm going to give it all to the NHS!

That's more than that other fucker just found!

Turkety turkety! Crimbo crimbo!

Hope I don't sound too much like Jimmy Savile.

Monday, 10 November 2014


The Theatre (left, with the flag) and the Curtain (right), in 1598.

It was dawn on December 28th 1598 and through a great snowstorm that had blown up during the night a group of heavily armed (with "swords, daggers, bills, axes and such like") men, William Shakespeare among them, trudged through Shoreditch to the Theatre at the north-east of Finsbury Fields.

The Theatre, England's first purpose-built theatre, stood on land owned by Giles Allen (brother of a former Lord Mayor), the land being leased by Richard Burbage for the player's company the Chamberlain's Men. Burbage had died, the lease was expiring and Allen was not going to extend it, apparently intending to demolish the Theatre for the salvage value. The place had been vacant for two years and the company had been forced to move to a temporary home in the nearby Curtain.

So that day the Chamberlain's Men stole the Theatre - took the frame apart piece by piece, loaded the timbers onto carts and carried them away.

The next year a long cold spell delayed the completion of new foundations in Bankside, Southwark, on land the Chamberlain's Men had leased for thirty-one years from Sir Nicholas Brend. In late summer the Globe theatre opened for business, Shakespeare's new play Julius Caesar being among the first productions.

The Globe and the Bear Gardens in 1600.

I am not going to go into ecstasies about James Shapiro's book 1599, A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, because I am lazy and dull.

If you have never read anything about Shakespeare, or have read everything except this, read it!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

They Pesky Bugs

Natalie Solent at Samizdata has a mildly disconcerting post about the future of espionage...
Imagine audio and video bugs get better and better. Maybe in the form of tiny physical cameras, maybe as viruses that will eventually succeed in penetrating any computer, phone or similar device, maybe as some kind of broadcast or field.
And what life events will these battalions of spies be watching for? According to Natalie, a rather eccentric selection...
Every time you sang along to your ipod, had sex, mentioned the word “government”.
Your intrepid reporter spent some time yesterday afternoon trying all three at once, leaving a rather alarmed whore in his wake and winding up £50 the poorer (+ £5 for the maid) and none the wiser.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Mysteries of AA-Dimensionality

You are at an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting and... do service as the Greeter. Only Liam and Steve are in the room when you arrive, 45 minutes early. You make a cup of coffee and go to the only entrance to greet everybody as they arrive. One minute before the meeting starts you go back to the room. 
There will be twice as many people in the room as passed you at the entrance. volunteer to do the washing up after the meeting.

There will be twice as many cups to wash up as there were people at the meeting.

Illustration: projection of the Calibai-Yau Manifuld. A mere ten or eleven dimensions and so small that we can never see it. Feh.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Song of Mehitabel

this is the song of mehitabel
of mehitabel the alley cat
as i wrote you before boss
mehitabel is a believer
in the pythagorean
theory of the transmigration
of the soul and she claims
that formerly her spirit
was incarnated in the body
of cleopatra
that was a long time ago
and one must not be
surprised if mehitabel
has forgotten some of her
more regal manners

i have had my ups and downs
but wotthehell wotthehell
yesterday sceptres and crowns
fried oysters and velvet gowns
and today i herd with bums
but wotthehell wotthehell
i wake the world from sleep
as i caper and sing and leap
when i sing my wild free tune
wotthehell wotthehell
under the blear eyed moon
i am pelted with cast off shoon
but wotthehell wotthehell

do you think that i would change
my present freedom to range
for a castle or moated grange
wotthehell wotthehell
cage me and i d go frantic
my life is so romantic
capricious and corybantic
and i m toujours gai toujours gai

i know that i am bound
for a journey down the sound
in the midst of a refuse mound
but wotthehell wotthehell
oh i should worry and fret
death and i will coquette
there s a dance in the old dame yet
toujours gai toujours gai

i once was an innocent kit
wotthehell wotthehell
with a ribbon my neck to fit
and bells tied onto it
o wotthehell wotthehell
but a maltese cat came by
with a come hither look in his eye
and a song that soared to the sky
and wotthehell wotthehell
and i followed adown the street
the pad of his rhythmical feet
o permit me again to repeat
wotthehell wotthehell

my youth i shall never forget
but there s nothing i really regret
wotthehell wotthehell
there s a dance in the old dame yet
toujours gai toujours gai

the things that i had not ought to
i do because i ve gotto
wotthehell wotthehell
and i end with my favorite motto
toujours gai toujours gai

boss sometimes i think
that our friend mehitabel
is a trifle too gay

Don Marquis
(archy was a cockroach who typed by throwing himself at Don Marquis' typewriter keys one by one, hence the lack of Shift for capitals).

The Lie

Go, Soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless arrant!
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant:
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.

Say to the court it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Say to the church it shows
What's good, and doth no good:
If court and church reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates they live
Acting by others' action,
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by a faction.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition
That manage the estate,
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate:
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave it most,
They beg for more by spending,
Who, in their greatest cost,
Seek nothing but commending:
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell zeal it wants devotion;
Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it is but motion;
Tell flesh it is but dust:
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth;
Tell honor how it alters;
Tell beauty how she blasteth;
Tell favor how she falters:
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness;
Tell wisdom she entangles
Herself in over-wiseness:
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.

Tell physic of her boldness;
Tell skill it is pretension;
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell law it is contention:
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.

Tell fortune of her blindness;
Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay:
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming:
If arts and school reply,
Give arts and school the lie.

Tell faith it fled the city;
Tell how the country erreth;
Tell manhood shakes off pity;
Tell virtue least preferreth:
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.

So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing,--
Although to give the lie
Deserves no less than stabbing,--
Stab at thee, he that will,
No stab the soul can kill.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


These are pictures of what is, apparently, a compound in North Korea for a bunch of Japanese hijackers who have been kept under lock and key there since 1970 (story and link via Blood and Treasure).

The outdoor pictures show exactly the same shade of blue paint applied to the pergola(?) above and to railings, window frames, steps...

Nothing says more plainly that, however pleasant the arrangements, they are part of a prison, a madhouse, an institution. They do not belong to the inmates or to the landscape, but to the authorities.

They remind me of the Soviet-era playgrounds I have seen in the grounds of  housing estates and parks. Some broken and rotting, others well-maintained and freshly painted, all relentlessly and uniformly jaunty. You have to do a spot of Googling to find any pictures that include children actually playing in them.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


...talking of beauty, set me thinking of this fillum of Ulysses.

"I don't want my country to fall into the hands of the Jews. I'm afraid that's our national problem just now."

Oh, Mr. Bloom.

Somebody In Britain Just Said Something


Mean ter say.


Somebody thar in that ole Enger-land jus' sayed a Word.

And he wuz a member of them ole Parliay-munts an' all.

He sayed a Word.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Do Not Go Gentle

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And so on. What an arsehole.

Night: good. Must be near closing time in Cardiff or Swansea or somewhere in Wales with the prospect of a lock-in.

Burn and rave: Oh sweetie, get over th'hangover.

Close of day: like a cricket match, what what?

It gets worse. A lot of worse.

Gobby Welsh drunk. Died or was born ~1000 years ago. Kthxbai.

Disobliging? Yes. And with good reason.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


Medium blue shirt, light tan troons, brown loafers or semi desert boots, brown belt with simple open gilt-effect buckle. Bit of a suntan but not too much. Not a corporate haircut, not messy either.

This is Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (left) and Terry Jones (right) engaging in an agreeable stroll around Herculaneum, but it could just as well be any other pair of civilised codgers strolling around anywhere else in the world.  Even the stonework (far right) is trying to join in.

Angkor Wat? Avebury? Serpent Mound? Great Zimbabwe?


Until then, all bets are off.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Carpe Diem

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
Finem di dederint, Leuconoë, nec Babylonios
Temptaris numeros. Ut melius, quicquid erit, pati,
Seu plures hiemes, seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
Quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare
Tyrhenum. Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi
Spem longam reseces. Dum loquimur, fugerit invida
Aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

(Horace, Ode 1.11, ca 23 BC).

In "carpe diem" the verb carpere apparently means "to pluck" as in a fruit or flower, without the violence of "seize the day", which puts an entirely different complexion on the tag beloved of Business Success Coaches and New Age Selfishistas.

Thanks to yet another new fault in Firefox I have lost the link to the essay discussing the translation by Ezra Pound and

Business Success Coaches and New Age Selfishistas:
                                                      oh my
                                                      dear oh dear

Well, look at all the websites offering "90 Days to Building a Successful Business Coaching Business" and imagine the sad sacks who fall for them. Like those Captains'o'th'Turf who make their living selling racing tips to the dumb punterage.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice

Here fleeps in peace a Hampfhire Grenadier,
Who caught his death by drinking cold fmall Beer,
Soldiers be wise by his untimely fall
And when ye're hot drink Strong or none at all.

An honeft Soldier never is forgot
Whether he die by Mufket or by Pot.

From the gravestone of Thomas Thetcher at Winchester Cathedral, quoted in Bill's Story.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Blogista: Welllll... there's interesting.

Readers: What is?

Blogroll: Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Readers: German Ambassador to Great Britain 1936, Foreign Minister 1938, broker of the Pact of Steel with Italy in May 1939 and the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact with the Soviet Union in August 1939... what of him?

Bloggeddose:: Well, his name apparently means "ribcage" in German.

Readers: No it doesn't.

Blogbooking:  No. You're right. It doesn't. Still, rather macabre, though, eh what?

Friday, 25 April 2014

Fun Personality Test

  • you are long-term unemployed, income £72 per week;
  • your bedsit is cold and draughty enough in the summer, never mind mid-winter;
  • the thermals aren't helping much, have got smelly and make you feel like a retired trapper;
  • Radio 4 has long ago become unbearable, Radio 3 is doing something altogether too tootly, isolation in silence is demoralising.
Do you:

a) turn on the heating for a while to take the edge off the chill and tune into Magic FM because it is your ex-girlfriend's favourite station?

b) head down the local J D Wetherspoon late afternoon and stay drinking doubles until closing time, with a hail-fellow-and-well-met for all of your Wetherspoon friends and a bottle of Famous Grouse in your coat pocket for that all-night central heating effect, thus every day for 10 months?

c) return, defeated once again, to Alcoholics Anonymous, where the coffee, biscuits and welcomes are free, for ninety meetings in ninety days?

You answered:

a) you are perhaps a little sentimental, but fundamentally sane.

b) and c) you are me and already knew the answer because you devised the Test.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Another 55 for the Chertiozhnik Death List

 A needy attention-seeking twat pictured today.

Sir Terry Pratchett is excused on the grounds of being a genius and writing books that have much amused your Leader-in-Waiting (see my autobiography "Chertiozhnik, the Wilderness Years: Yes, All Fifty-Six of Them").

But the rest... are the other signatories to this letter in the Daily Telegraph where they argue that they are sooo noteworthy that they really ought to be on some sort of list or other. Well, now they are muahahahaha.

Professor Jim Al-Khalil
Philip Pullman
Tim Minchin
Dr Simon Singh
Ken Follett
Dr Adam Rutherford
Sir John Sulston
Sir David Smith
Professor Jonathan Glover
Professor Anthony Grayling
Nick Ross
Virginia Ironside
Professor Steven Rose
Natalie Haynes
Peter Tatchell
Professor Raymond Tallis
Dr Iolo ap Gwynn
Stephen Volk
Professor Steve Jones
Sir Terry Pratchett
Dr Evan Harris
Dr Richard Bartle
Sian Berry
C J De Mooi
Professor John A Lee
Professor Richard Norman
Zoe Margolis
Joan Smith
Michael Gore
Derek McAuley
Lorraine Barratt
Dr Susan Blackmore
Dr Harry Stopes-Roe
Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC
Adele Anderson
Dr Helena Cronin
Professor Alice Roberts
Professor Chris French
Sir Tom Blundell
Maureen Duffy
Baroness Whitaker
Lord Avebury
Richard Herring
Martin Rowson
Tony Hawks
Peter Cave
Diane Munday
Professor Norman MacLean
Professor Sir Harold Kroto
Sir Richard Dalton
Sir David Blatherwick
Michael Rubenstein
Polly Toynbee
Lord O'Neill
Dr Simon Singh
Dan Snow

If your heart, despite a big lift from Sir Terry, has not sunk into your boots by now... then I suggest you haven't actually read the whole list.

Ancora da capo! And no slacking this time.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Letter from Ukraina

A very difficult time for my family. We all considered themselves almost apolitical, but recent events have shown that we are wrong. We want to live in the peaceful, democratic and independent Ukraine, and it is happiness that the views of all members of our family are the same. We have very hard and terrible feeling for the occupation of the Crimea and the for possibility of occupation of Donetsk. Russia has gone mad, and, unfortunately, not only Putin. They call us fascists and Nazis, but I remember the words of Winston Churchill: "fascists of future will name themselves anti-fascists".

From a friend who has fled Russian-occupied Donetsk for Kiev.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

No Retreat

No retreat. This is how you run a successful government.

Our bird sanctuaries will be the wonder of the world.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Scots 'Irretrievably Chippy'

Prodnose: I can't see why the Scots shouldn't be part of a Sterling Zone, and still be totally independent.

Self: I daresay you can't. Impossibilities are always hard to fathom.

 Prodnose: Or we could join the European Union and the Eurozone, and still be totally independent.

Self: You could do that too. Nobody anywhere else in the world would give a shit. Not even the Somalians would give a shit. And you wouldn't be independent.

Prodnose: Well that David Cameron has FAILED to have a debate IN SCOTLAND with a line-up of chippy Scotsmen and chippy Scotswomen.

Self: We have a sense of humour.

Self: And who the f would want to go to Scotland anyway.

 Self: Apart from the gnats.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

EU 'Massively Corrupt'

Prodnose: Well, who would have thought, eh.

Emblogged: Yes, th'EU turning out to be oceangoingly corrupt.

Prodnose: Who knew.

Disembloggied: Will come as a big surprise to the moron 'community'.

Prodnose: Complete shock to me.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Whatever Happens, Don't Let The Fucker Near A


In Which We Do the Obvious

Cowpoke: Been a long time since I last posted. Three months, I reckon.

Texas Rangers: So you got something new to say or are you just posting your old favourites you already posted?

Lonely homosexual who doesn't poke cows though: Doreen Schaffer and the Skatalites...

Solitary western American who would love to have intercourse with a bovine only they're all being driven north to Wyoming or something, or maybe FROM Wyoming: And Lord Creator...

Unpartnered resident of the Lone Star State (a lie, actually Mitcham UK) who hasn't got his penis near a sentient being of any sort in three years but WLTM: Anddddd... Clancy Eccles!

Texas and Elsewhere Rangers: We love your musical choices. Intercourse..? Well, there's some cacti out there on the high chapparal who ain't going to complain. least not legally.