"The Four Horsemen and the Fat Bird of the Apocalypse are a piffling threat when hyperbole will kill nearly everybody in Britain by next Wednesday," claimed Britain's Chief Sanity Officer today, or is expected to claim if he can be arsed now that the Press Release has gone out and earned the required airtime on the Today Programme.
"The real threat to the ship of state comes from the tophamper of timeservers and passengers making wildly overstated claims to display their Importance and advertise their Damehoods, creating life-threatening torrents of futile turbulence among the stupid and politicians."
In other news: "We're dangerous too, just you wait," claims Chief Fat Blokes Officer.
Some kind fellow sent me this Botanical Ginvent Calendar which on inspection proved to hold 24 miniatures of gin spiked with various different herbs ("erbs" as the pretentious like to say), spices or fruits: caraway seed; orange peel; rosemary; orris root and the like.
I speedily tried the first 5 to catch up (as it is now the 5th) and I must say the other 19 hit the spot as well, leaving me feeling like an old-fashioned Chymist's Shoppe in a floaty sort of way. Then back to a good belt or few at the Famous Grouse to kill off the pharmaceutical miasma before it overwhelmed me.
It struck me that my three crates of 9 litres Famous each is around 24 with a bit left over for deceleration minus the ones I've emptied and the 5 I had better hurry up with. You could put, say, a different-coloured pair of socks on each bottle and end up with a fine Advent and Christmas Present idea combined. I don't think I have that many socks immediately to hand. I find I am wearing one which is a start but I can't see the other one and I don't know where any more are. "Look in the airing cupboard" my old Mother used to say but I don't have an airing cupboard so that advice is no longer pertinent, however well-intentioned.
So many have written to me asking after "Roving Cocksman" Ron Todger and shared their warm memories of him: a younger Ron's way of slapping his muscular belly and exclaiming "Marine body!"; of his starting an evening getting the pints in, summoning the barman with a suave "I say,Bar Stuard!" - a gentleman of the old, the Errol Flynn, school. "In like Flynn!"
Alas, decrepitude comes to us all and Ron passed two years ago after a long and debilitating battle with a veritable encyclopaedia of sexually transmitted diseases. He was a gamecock to the last, as the epithet of his declining years, "The Rohypnol King of Catford", attests.
He builds a U-shaped bower of sticks on the forest floor into which he hopes to lure a female, but brown twigs on a brown floor aren't very eye-catching so he jazzes up the scene with an array of objects, from berries and bottle-tops to clothes pegs and even ballpoint pens. All have one thing in common: they are blue. This penchant for blue objects develops as the birds mature. Younger males will include other colours in their displays.
The male dances around his bower to attract the greenish females, often holding something blue to impress her. As he poses he calls enticingly to advertise his prowess. Researchers have found that young female Satin Bowerbirds are more likely to be impressed by bowers whereas a more experienced female tends to choose the best dancer.
This is where I am going wrong. "Woss all them twigs for. Scritched me ankle they done." Thus many a lady on entering my - ahem - bower, as 'twere. I need to strew around some blue things, but also a few red or green ones so she won't think I'm positively ancient.
Dancing; my elastic went a quarter of a century ago, so it will have to be the young beginner, la giovin principiante, that I attempt to lure. Mostly.
The chap up top has also a ten-dollar bill to display, in all circumstances a winning strategy. "Never mind the chit-chat, flash 'em the wedge" as my old mentor "Roving Cocksman" Ron Todger used to say. His surname was often an élément clé de la conversation, as indeed was his todger. But I digress.
Could be Ron himself at work here and, yes, the females always did look a little greenish after one or three of his Sex Up Yer Bum, a gin cocktail of his own devising. Here's another entry for the old catalogo quesco.
Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction that take out millions of civilians.
They didn’t do the USA much good on 9/11. The problems in this world are
not huge wars in that way. The problems are much more fairly random
acts of terrorism.
Jeremy Corbyn on I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue:
Blogista: They weren't much good for liquidating the kulaks as a class either. Right tool for the job and all that. Readers: Why don't you be leader of the Labour Party instead? You have a mental age of at least four, at a guess. You'd be much better at spouting childish twaddle.
Нет, не луна, а светлый циферблат
Сияет мне, и чем я виноват,
Что слабых звезд я осязаю млечность?
И Батюшкова мне противна спесь: «Который час?» - его спросили
А он ответил любопытным: «Вечность».
Osip Mandel'shtam from "Stone" 1913
No, not the moon, but a bright clock-face Shines on me; in what am I to blame That I feel the milkiness of the faint stars? Batiushkov's loftiness repels me: "What time is it?" - they asked him here, And he told these intrigued: "Eternity".
Мы с тобой на кухне посидим, Сладко пахнет белый керосин. Острый нож да хлеба каравай... Хочешь, примус туго накачай, А не то веревок собери Завязать корзину до зари, Чтобы нам уехать на вокзал, Где бы нас никто не отыскал.
Osip Mandel'shtam, Leningrad 1930 Let's you and I sit awhile in the kitchen, The white kerosine smells sweet. A sharp knife and a cob loaf... If you like, pump the primus full, And don't collect away this string To tie our basket up at dawn, For us to make for the railway station Where no-one should come looking for us.
Blogista: Ya ta ta when the ya ta... Readers: You're bored, aren't you? Blogista: Yes. Readers: So you've posted a fillum which will vanish for ever with its YouTube account and leave your readers perplexed as to what the point was. Blogista: Ahem... Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day, How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.
Heremy Corbyn, he har veterano, also! El veterano to strogle on Americano Hobama y imperialista élite! El veterano to strogle on Británico gridibanker y imperialista Reina! He har no disservés dossándwich, he har disservés dosmillónessándwich!
Heremy, you har senting me soon som rolles Handrex soft quilt con "natural caring touch" aloe vera y vitamin E? Poor my harse she har crying!
Part of Hermann Giesler's model for the reconstruction of Linz's Danube bank.
An excellent lecture from Laurence Rees on Hitler's charismatic leadership:
It includes some discussion of ordinary Germans' support for the "deeply violent, prejudiced" Nazis: [36.24] there's terrible social unrest, and these people are going to fix it for me as long as I just stay at home; they're just going to sort it out... and this one woman said to us: Well, d'you know, you've no idea what it was like in the Depression, I couldn't walk safely across the park. There were all these vagrants everywhere. And they solved the problem. They weren't there one day; they weren't there any more. And it's terrific they did that. It became extremely safe.
Hitler's first viewing of the Linz model, February 13th 1945: that night saw the first RAF raid on Dresden. August Kubizek's 1953 memoir "Adolf Hitler, mein Jungenfreund", on his friend in Linz and Vienna between 1904 and 1908, would be comical but for what followed, and is worth reading for a sense of the extraordinary young man's nature (he had his own grandiose plans for Linz and Vienna).
Landstraße looking towards the Schmiedtoreck: see Chapter 7.
[...] from the publication of the first major survey of British antiquities by William Camden in the reign of Elizabeth I, books on Stonehenge have emphasised the lack of a generally agreed explanation of its purpose. It has been accepted as possessing some kind of ritual significance, but the nature of that remains open. This in turn has encouraged individuals to produce self-proclaimed 'breakthrough' hypotheses, which have achieved celebrity at particular periods. The most successful to date has been that of Geoffrey of Monmouth, published in the twelfth century - that it was a war memorial constructed by the wizard Merlin - which was dominant for almost five hundred years. In the 1740s William Stukeley proclaimed it a temple of the Druids, an idea which achieved pre-eminence for one century and remained popular for another.
During the twentieth century, when it was firmly dated to the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. the element of mystery was stressed still further and has enabled the monument to function a people's temple, apparently outside the power of learned archaeologists and historians to appropriate and explain, in which anybody is free to see what she or he wills [...]
For centuries, Stonehenge has effectively functioned, even more intensively and effectively than other relics of prehistory, as a mirror in which modern people can reflect and justify their own prejudices, ideals and expectations. Those who find their own time, and society, wanting have seen in it the work of ancestors of a superior knowledge and morality. Those who preach the creed of progress, or their own religion, or else the folly of religion in general, have filled it in their imagination with gory, barbaric and orgiastic ancient rites.
What we see in this mirror keeps changing and proliferating: the latest find being a huge stone arc under the banks of Durrington Wells, two miles distant, described here and with links to the picture (here besmall'd) below. Thirty stones survive, buried, out of around 90. It seems the stones were toppled 4,500 years ago and buried under the new ditch and bank, for reasons unknown.
It is hard to contain. Stone
or wood circles in general have become known as 'henges', despite the term coming from Stonehenge's unique arrangements of uprights and
crosstree resembling henges, gallows.
Alexander Thom, an engineer, proposed a theory of Stonehenge as an elaborate celestial calculator. His concept of the megalithic yard (my) has been discredited and some critics saw the precision of fit of his schema to the features in his diagrams as far neater than the fit to the features themselves.
One historian noted a rhyme between Rachel Whiteread's work and the trilithons
that define the spaces where standing stones might be (a nice thought).
As a child I used to play all about the site and lie on the 'altar-stone' imagining myself both as priest and sacrifice. Since it has been enclosed I have not been near it, having no wish to mix with the batty people who hog the solstices, or to book through English Heritage (A Stone Circle Access visit is not a guided tour, and touching of the stones is not permitted [...] To enhance your Stone Circe Access visit you can order a guidebook). Enhance?
It is a bit unfair I think of Prof Hutton to lump in Monmouth and Stukeley with the pyramidiots (or whatever the equivalent is - the unhenged? lol), ley hunters, ufologists and bogus druids de nos jours. Stukeley's drawing of serpentine avenues at Avebury were long derided as snaky emanations of the druids buzzing in his bonnet until recent excavations began to bear his picture out (then again I have yet to read his books).
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?(John 18:38) It is unclear what he meant by this.
And the judge says: That veil is too long. And the girl takes off the veil That she has stuck onto her hat with a pin, " Not a veil," she says, " 'at's a scarf." And the judge says: Don't you know you aren't allowed all those buttons? And she says: Those ain't buttons, them's bobbles, Can't you see there ain't any button-holes? And the Judge says: Well, anyway, you're not allowed ermine. " Ermine? " the girl says, " Not ermine, that ain't, " 'At's lattizzo." And the judge says: And just what is a lattizzo? And the girl says: " It'z a animal." Signori, you go and enforce it.
Ezra Pound fromCanto XXII - A Draft of XXX Cantos (1930)
What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
The ant's a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity , it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
Pull down thy vanity , I say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place
In scaled invention or true artistry,
Pull down thy vanity,
Paquin pull down!
The green casque has outdone your elegance.
" Master thyself, then others shall thee beare " Pull down thy vanity Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail, A swollen magpie in a fitful sun, Half black half white Nor knowst'ou wing from tail Pull down thy vanity How mean thy hates Fostered in falsity Pull down thy vanity, Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity, Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down
Paradoxically, as the numbers of gladiators, the frequency of games, and the risks of dying increased, Romans and volunteers began enlisting, until, by the end of the Republic, somewhere around half of all gladiators were volunteers [...] Not only was the volunteer who entered the arena debased, but he was compelled to affirm, to justify, his debasement. He took a frightful oath, the sacramentum gladiatorum: he swore to endure being burned, bound, beaten and slain by the sword [...] The gladiator, by his oath, transforms what had originally been an involuntary act to a voluntary one, and so, at the very moment that he becomes a slave condemned to death, he becomes a free agent and a man with honour to uphold.
For Barton this is one of the psychic torments that characterise the period. Enslaved under an emperor whose service demands sycophantic flattery, humiliation and self-abasement, where might a man find honour?
She adds in a footnote, though, that from the early C1st AD recruitment drives began and even minor offenders were committed to the arena.
Tacitus points to some other sources. Vitellius issued strict orders that: [2.62] Romans of equestrian rank were not to disgrace themselves by performing in the games and the arena. Previous emperors had driven them to this kind of thing by offering payment or, more often, by the use of force, and a number of Italian towns vied with one another in holding out financial inducements to undesirables among the younger generation.
Cornelius Tacitus "The Histories" trans. Kenneth Wellesley (1995)
What need of ASBOs when you can take your rakehells, wastrels, gangstas, hooligans &c and recycle them as Entertainment?
And - before you mention the Big Brother House - kill them.
Buogista: Saturday, having got an energetically buzzy little bee in m'bonnet about all things Roman... Ueaders: *Sigh* wonder how we didn't notice. Bluuustu: ...anyhows I bought Reading Latin (a teaching manual for the more - ahem - mature student) and rushed it home, only to find... Ruudurs: What? What did you find? Pssst... could be some laughs to be had here at long last, mateys! Uuuuuuuu: ...that the authors are slaves to that persuasion that changes all Latin "v"s to "u"s. What might once have been carved nobly as "servvs" becomes not sensible "servus" but risible "seruus". Readers: Don't tell me th'bugger's stillsober.
At least a couple of good things came out of this. I was reminded of the brilliant A P Herbert and his story from Uncommon LawRex v. Venables and Others (1935, and note the "v"s there). The advocate (!) Mr Wicks is showing off his 'modern' pronunciation: neesee of kairtiorahree; day yooray; pahree pahsoo; preemah fakiay and so forth. The Lord Chief Justice pulls him up short (and quite rightly in my opinion): Mr. Wick: My Lord, I pronounce the Latin tongue as I was taught at school.
The Lord Chief Justice: Exactly. You are not to be blamed, Mr. Wick. But I am bound to make it clear to you, to the rest of your gallant generation and to the generations that come after, that His Majesty's judges will not permit the speaking of the Latin tongue after that fashion in the King's Courts. I cannot hear you, Mr. Wick, for the very good reason that I cannot understand you. [...] We have taken these words from Rome, as we have taken much of her law, and made them English. I do not believe that the wisest scholars can surely say how Julius Caesar pronounced his name, and I care nothing if they can. For if I had abundant proof that the general answered to Yooliooss Kayzar I should not say that an act of the Chimney Magna justices was ooltrah weerayze. It is safe to prophesy that these hateful sounds will never proceed from the lips of an English judge, however many innocent boys are instructed to make them at school.
The same may be said of all the professions in which the 'dead' languages are not merely the toys of pedagogues but the constant tools of practical men. I suffer from lumbago; I grow geraniums; I go to the cinema. And when my doctor diagnoses loombahgo, my gardiner cultivates gerahniooms, or my cook enjoys herself at the kyneemah I shall begin to think that the pedagogues are making headway.
And in fact the pedagogues did lose out for a while post-1935. In my day (early Seventies) we were solidly back with the Lord Chief Justice.
A fuller account can be found here and the second good thing to have come out of this is the discovery of Laudator Temporis Acti, a blog after my own heart.