Dec 30, 2011

Following Yonder Star . . .

Tess's Christmas prompt is Bert Stern's iconic portrait of a Hollywood icon.  (The idea of putting new words to a seasonal tune comes from Magpie No.20. Thank you, Frances)

Monroe Doctoring

J.F.K from Capitol Hill,
heads down town in search of a thrill.
Finds blonde tottie
sumptuous bottie!
Certainly fills his bill.

Ooo-err!  Star of "Misfits"
sixties best,
star of the Gynormous Chest
self supporting, gets him snorting,
(Bet she thinks "He's a pest.")

All she wears at night is Chanel.
drives her suitors wild with the smell
really flighty
minus nightie
(Wishes they'd go to H***)

Ooo-err!  etc

Finds tonight his backache is bad
(Want to bet that makes her feel glad?)
Pretends she's willing
but pain's killing
daydreams of Jack the Lad

Ooo-err!  etc

Two cupfuls of Panadol
still his interest seems to loll.
Says with sorrow
"Back tomorrow"
She thinks that's very droll.

Ooo-err!  etc

Poor lost lass, she'd never a chance.
Men brought lust disguised as romance.
Flesh inspectors
film directors
led her a dreadful dance.

Ooo-err!  etc

Notes.  President Kennedy suffered much from backache, probably because he found it difficult to get into a comfortable position.  "Monroe Doctoring" is a play on words and on the prompt which our friends across The Pond will surely understand.

Dec 24, 2011

A Word With Laurie

Over at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Laurie Kolp asks for 5-minutes worth of "Ecstasy" 

Be Warned

There was a young raver called Peck
who sampled ocassional ec-
stasy tablets,
which soon became habit
and now he's a quivering wreck.


Dec 20, 2011

Smile For the Camera!

Tess's Magpie prompt this week is a photograph by Lee Friedlander which seems to break some of the conventional rules . . .

Somebody needs Cartier-Bresson
to give him a snap-shooting lesson.
Her face is obscure -
and that shadow! For sure,
adds up to cheesy expression.


 . . but then, as Marshall McLuhan sagely remarked, "Art is anything you can get away with."

Many worthier Magpies can be read HERE.
or read about the French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Dec 15, 2011

Wednesday Challenge, December 14th.

Kerry's Wednesday challenge at "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads" invites us to write a letter from a literary character/author to another author or character, etc.  This response is hardly a poetic "epistola" but I hope it fills the bill.

The letter that follows was discovered in the personal papers of the late Malcolm Bradbury, author of the sardonic "campus" novel "The History Man." (1975, Secker and Warburg). It is of interest because at least one of the minor acts of vandalsim referred to actually happened subsequent to the novel's publication.

Dear Mr. Bradbury,

    I enclose a single sheet of toilet paper (unused) from a roll in the toilets on the fourth floor (Sociology and Economics) in the Library of Strathkelvin University.  You will see that some mischievous person has printed a sticky label and stuck it to the paper and the label says "Degrees in Sociology. Please Take One."  I soon discovered that every cubicle in every toilet, both Mens' and Womens' had been similarly defaced with similar stickers and in some cases, every hanging-down sheet of paper bore a similar sticker. And further, some toilet rolls had been annotated with the legend "Economics is a Viola," and some of the cubicles had the same legend in yellow graffiti.  It took me a little while to work that one out, whereas the sociology degree allusion is hard to miss.  

    Since Dr. Kirk got me sent down from the University I have found employment in the City and now command a salary which would no doubt confirm Dr. Kirk's view of me, did he but know.

   Please give my best regards to Ms.Carpenter. I hope things did not go too badly for her.  I was dreadfully sorry to hear that Dr. Kirk's wife had made an attempt on her own life, but what would one expect, married to a self-regarding Marxist like Howard Kirk. The whole business was a perfect exemplar of Henry Kissinger's famous quote  - "academic politics is so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."

Yours very sincerely,

George Carmody.

Dramatis Personae. 

Malcolm Bradbury (1932-2000). Prolific author. Head of the Creative Writing Course in the University of East Anglia, UK;   Best known graduate -  Iain McEwen.

Howard Kirk   Antihero of "The History Man."  Resolute Marxist.  Impossible to thumbnail. Yer gotta read the book!

George Carmody.  Right of centre, middle class student. The only student in the University who owned (and used) a trouser press! A natural victim for Kirk. 

Ann Carpenter.    Another Kirk victim but not before he . . what's the expression . . . has his evil way of her.

Barbara Kirk.     Howard's wife. One wonders how such a nice lady etc etc etc . . .

The novel is set in the University of "Watermouth", U.K, but if Bradbury didn't intend the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK - at the time one of the UK's newer campuses, I'll eat a roll of toilet paper!

The printed stickers stuck on toilet rolls were real enough. The incident found it's way into "Radio Times" reviews when the novel was adapted for TV with Anthony Sher brilliantly malign as Howard Kirk.

"Economics is a Viola"?  Think string instruments.  A viola is like . . er . .  er . .  a big fiddle,  geddit?

Strathkelvin.  A university town in the Scottish central belt. Its University, and indeed the town itself  are no more or less fictional than those of it's august neighbours - Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Dec 11, 2011

Don't Panic!

Tess Kincaid's picture-prompt this week shows us one of life's Unfortunates stuck between a rock and a hard place . . .

Thinks: "Now if the tide is going out, the boat will be carried out with it, so unless she gets back with the choc ices pretty damn quick, we'll be stuck with no boat on the perishin' beach all night. And I left my cell-phone in the rowboat. And my swim shorts. When I dived out the perishin' boat I never expected to end up here! Alright for her. She waded ashore and asked me to let her bury me for a bit of fun. Why didn't I bury her? Why is it always me? How did I end up with three University degrees and still end up buried by my wife tit deep in sand? Why don't I think before I travel about in bloody rowboats? Why don't I think before I let people bury me? Why doesn't someone invent a voice-controlled rowboat so I could call out "Here Boat! Jaunty Jane or whatever your name is. Come and get me out!" Where's she got to?  Bet she's eatin' my choc-ice as well as her own."

Thinks: "But on the other hand, if the tide is coming in, that will bring the boat closer and pretty soon I'll be able to grab it by the rowlocks and haul myself . . .  Oh F**K! No I won't! 'Cos I'm stuck in this sand and no one to dig me out till she gets back.  The tide will. And I'll be. Where is the bloody cow?"
Yells:  "Au secours!  Mayday!  Anybody there?  HELP!"  etc.

Dec 6, 2011

Magpie Tales#94

The inspiration for this Magpie comes as usual from the always inventive Tess Kincaid at Willow Manor who invites us to lunch with this George Tooker picture.

Boss, Smiddy and The Rookie took their lunchbreak on an old red settee that had followed them to the station-house in a previous blog.  The settee sat on the station-house roof and Boss, Smiddy and The Rookie sat on the settee to eat their sandwiches.  It was a good place for lunch. It was six floors up so the Captain could not see them.  They had hauled the settee up there themselves. They were a great team.
"Boss - what's the fillin' in yo' sandwiches?"
Boss lifted a corner of bread and peered. "Cheese slices, Smiddy. Again!"
"Mine too," said Smiddy.
The Rookie said, "And me. Same as every day." 
All three glared at their limp sandwiches. Then at each other.
"I'm pissed off with cheese slice sandwiches every day" Boss said.
"Me too, come to think of it."
"And me" said The Rookie.
"Then this is what we'll do. We're six floors up, right?"
"So we each tell our womenfolk - look, if you make up cheese slice sandwiches one more time I'm gonna throw myself off the station-house roof. Six floors. Splat. End of salary. End of pension rights."
"Great idea!"
"That'll get some action!"
They hauled themselves out of the settee. They made high-fives. They punched air. They were a like-minded, co-operative team.
Next day lunchbreak they settled into the settee. Boss bit into his sandwiches and delight spread over his face. "Now ain't that something! Spicy chicken and bacon with some goddam piccalilli. That's what I call a sandwich. How 'bout you guys?"
The Rookie bit, and rolled his eyes.  "Man oh man! That's gotta be parma ham sliced wafer thin with cottage cheese, shallots and hint of garlic. Wholegrain bread, too. I'll sleep all afternoon!"
Smiddy bit down on his sandwich, said "Oh f**k, not cheese slices again!" and got out of the settee and vaulted the roof parapet and vanished from view.  The team would never let each other down.
Boss said, "Must of forgot his wife's away visitin' her Ma. So he's been makin' up his sandwiches hisself."
"You  reckon?  Poor old Smiddy. Splat - just like that, eh?"
They carried on munching, then Boss said, "Might as well finish his cheese slices?"
"Might as well," said The Rookie. "Waste not, want not. Can I drive the black-and-white now, Boss?"

Nov 27, 2011

Magpie Tales#93

Once again, Tess at Willow Manor delights writers with a picture to furnish their imaginations.

"I don't like the look of that, Smiddy. Not one little bit."
"Wasn't there yesterday, Boss."
"Worse than that. It wasn't there earlier on today."
"You're damn right, come to think of it. Whadya think?"
"Think we need back-up?"
"Could be somebody inside it, Boss."
"Good thinkin'. Just what I was thinkin'. Just the sort of place these hoodlums always hide out in. O.K. I'm goin' in. Smiddy - cover me."
(Footsteps as Boss crosses the street. )
"Come out with your hands up and lie on the ground face down. Lie on the f****ng ground!"
(There is no response from the settee or from inside the settee.)
"On a count of three, come out the goddam settee! One!"
(Smiddy joins Boss on the sidewalk in front of the settee.)
(Both heft their firearms and chamber a round.)
"We can claim it resisted arrest, Boss. Or the guy inside it did."
"Damn right! Three!"
(They look at each other and Boss nods.  Both fire several rounds into the seat and back of the settee. Nothing happens.)
(Pause, then) "Got an idea, Boss! Ticket it for parking on a yellow line."
(A third voice enters)
"You guys blind or what? I'm not on the yellow line. And I'm not parked. I've been fly-tipped. On the sidewalk."
(Boss and Smiddy stare for a moment at the settee and at each other, then turn and scurry back to their patrol car and fire up the motor and rev away, tyres smoking. Three or four blocks later . . )
"Not a word, Smiddy. Not. A. Word back at the station-house. No incident report. Nothing. Just call the Cleansing and tell them get a dump truck down there."
(Smiddy, driving, looks in the rear-view mirror.)
"Boss!  Jesus H., Boss! The settee . . . it's following us . .  "

Drat! I smell something burning. Blogpals are invited to complete the story for me while I go investigate.

Nov 22, 2011

Magpie Tales#92

Tess's tender picture this week shows us the late Paul Newman and lovely Joanne Woodward.

But will this pair stay together 50 years . . . ?

He:    This isn't much like Rodin's.
She:   What?
He:    "The Kiss"
She:   The what?
He:    You're not listening. I was talking about Rodin's "The Kiss"
She:   Eh? Your mind wandering or what?
He:    It's a renowned statue. Of a couple kissing. By Rodin.
She:   We're a couple kssing. Whadda we need this roadman for?
He:    Not Roadman. Rodin! Rodin! He was a sculptor. He was French.
She:   So? He sculpted a french kiss? Mummy told me never to kiss with my mouth full.
He:    They're both sitting up.
She:   Who are both sitting up?
He:    The kissing couple Rodin sculpted. They're sitting up.
She:   That's how we started. Sitting up.
He:    His hand is on her thigh.
She:   So it's wanderin' hands now, not wanderin' minds? Over skirt or under?
He:    Neither, really.
She:   Eh? Gotta be one or the other.
He:    Not necessarily. The thing is . .
She:   She's wearing trews? 
He:    No. The thing is . . in the statue . . they're both . . (He whispers)
She:   Well! If this isn't the most round about 'Get yer kit off' chat I've ever heard.
He:    Look! I wasn't suggesting . .
She:   'Course you were! Wasn't born yesterday. This statue. The bloke. Can you see his?(She whispers)
He:    No need to be coarse -
She:   Or did the Roadman have an accident with his little sculptor's jackhammer?
He:    Oh . . really!
She:   You started it. You know what your problem is?
He:    What's my problem then?
She:   You think too much.
He:    I think too much? Come to think of it Rodin did another statue called "The Thinker." Pensive guy sitting on a rock.
She:   Wondering who to kiss next? Was he stripped off for thinkin' as well?
He:    Funnily enough - actually statues mostly are. "David" for example, by Michelangelo
She:   Gawd give me strength!

Left.     "The Kiss"
Right    "The Thinker"

Nov 19, 2011

Prose Poem

Kerry O'Connor  at the wonderful "Imaginary Garden With Real Toads" set writers a Wednesdsay Challenge to produce a prose poem. I hope this is in some small way suitable.


All should read instrucitons with great care and thoroughly
fascinate yourself with components various. But first
before you start, open the crate containing these instricutons.
For this a Stanley knife be recommended but have care
and do not let small children interfere. Let then stand clear.
Next, lay out components visibly and count. Be there as many as
there will be shown in illustration T? You give the bubble-rap
to little ones to snap pop crackle but do not fascinate
yourself with fingerworks for wardrobe waits without bewilderments.
For builderwork you need and not supplied, small screwdriver whose
head be cross and one which slot. 10 meeter spanner, bowl of stickstuff
such as Evostic not supply. Warned be Bostic not sufficient strong
and all need care when breathing. Leave all time lids on firm.
All needed screws in small packs seek. Three sizes. Short, long
and longest A, B, D and holes as shown to fit, view head-on always.

Offer now parts A and B to basepart D and brackets F of tin
fix to indicated holes, screws A for these eight holes. Fit now top E
to A then B and brackets similar adjunct with care and screw.
Frame now complete to brace with cross-struts C and D note view
in illustration 3 is back view (not supplied). Now slide shelves
in slots, F,G and H but not until whole back of unit (front view)
fixed with short screws. Here there be 16 holes to finish and all seams
sealed with adhesive squirted. Now load in shirts, shoes and skirts
before ongoing doors in case when stuck will not reopen.

Door hanging levels require great patient skill. 3-way adjustment
on patent bracket special adjust roll, pitch and yaw. Here get spouse
or special friend to hold it while you work or painful crackhead
from door topling. See illustration H for all confusion. At last
invert the hole and fix the casters on, each corner once,
lugs not supplied, but local ironman or B&Q will have. And last
recycle all spare screws by local council wheelies colour known.

(Front view will check)

Nov 14, 2011


Tess Kincaid at Willow Manor offers writers an enigmatic picture this week -

"Please . . just give me a minute to explain. It's a game called "The Other Musical Chairs." Y'know how in the real game, one chair is taken away every time the music stops, right? And one of the partygoers has to either drop out or get trampled to death in the rush for an empty chair, right? Until there's only one chair left for the last two people to fight over, right? Well, we were losing too many chairs that way and they don't come cheap. They were getting broken and some people were actually nicking them can you believe it and selling them on "Bargain Hunt" and "Cash in the Attic" and so on. Chairs do have rights, y'know, like the right not to get broken or pinched. So we thought, let's play the same game, more or less, but instead of taking the chairs away one at a time we'll take the people away one at a time, right? Till there's only one guy left - and whad'ya know that's me! All the chairs are still here and looking good, so that's good, no more bills for repairs to chairs and so on.  You wanna know where all the people are? Far enough away in the mist so you can't hear the gunshots. HeHeHe!"

(Worthier responses can be viewed at Magpie Tales.)

Nov 13, 2011

LongOrion . . .

 . . . a verse form whose history stretches back almost 48 hours. Read about it on the Imaginary Garden's Mini-Challenge for Sunday, thanks to Kerry O'Connor.

Super Kingsize in a Dwindling World: A Lament

Fight for duvet! But don't touch!
Beds are getting wider, folks
but bedrooms ever smaller.
Mates in unconnubial bliss
are growing ever taller.
And so beds grow because they must
accomodate the restless
rib, knee, shoulder, elbow, bust.
Superkingsize. In a hutch.


Nov 9, 2011

A Dawdle Through the AWDL

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads asks poets once again to wander through the byways of arcane (Welsh) form.  Here goes!

Todd Aid

Give what you can for poor Todd,
a bankrupt man.  That FTSE Index
cost him his all.  The Euro
his downfall. For Todd, what next?

Oct 30, 2011

Let Your Typewriter Help You Beat Writer's Block!

Tess at Willow Manor works assiduously to deliver weekly prompts to fire up our muses.  This week, a . . a . . whatever is this thing?  A typewriting machine?  How very 20th century!

   Here's a great tip I read somewhere.  Look at the layout of your Mac, typewriter or PC keyboard - the alphabet characters I mean. Never mind the "~" and "\" and "≠" and so on.  Mine begins "Q W E R T Y"   Not that it matters if yours is different. Given the choice I wouldn't have gone for that particular sequence, but had nothing else. So much for the genius of Steve Jobs. 
   Now . . you can't think what to write? O.K. Just write a passage, anything at all that strikes you as long as it makes sense - not always easy. Use 26 words, no more, no fewer, the first letter of each word to be the letters on your keyboard taken in order, left to right, top row to bottom row.  Seriously, if you can do that, you can do anything.

"Quite When Eric Realized That Yvonn'es Umbrella Imploding Presaged A Disaster Few Guessed. His Juggling Kites, Lawnmowers, Zoophiles, Xylophones Caused Various Belated Moaning Noises < > ?"

  On second thoughts I think I prefer Writer's block . . . . and anyway, the "M" and the "N" are the wrong way round.

Oct 26, 2011

To All Who Drive 4 x 4's

Tess at Willow Manor offers this monochrome picture to get your brains in gear . . .

Go by push-bike! You
run bikes on scrambled egg. Why
drive that Ford "High-Q"?

Oct 23, 2011

Here There Be Dragons

Jinsky offers us an IN TANDEM dragon picture to breathe fire into our poetry and the UK sea-areas.

Dragons don't like South East Iceland.
Far too cold, and not a nice land -
not like the nearer Hebrides 
where dragons live on toasted cheese.
They smoke fish daily in area Bailey,
whereas in North and South Utsire(*)
they're fairly fierce and sailors fear a
serpent with a blazing smile
blowing fiery gales from far Fair Isle. 
In Faroes, Forties, Fisher, Viking -
beware! Dragons could take a liking
to your mid-life muffin. They just might 
toast it and take a German Bight.
But in Forth and Tyne and Thames and Humber
the dragons lunch on sea-cucumber.
In Dogger, famous for its Bank
their fireflames many lighters sank
but their scaly cousins in area Thames
are cool peace-loving dragogems 
whose flaming breath warms beaches over
from Portland to Wight cliffs of Dover.
Lang syne in Plymouth, Francis Drake
used dragonian fire-power to bake
Spain's Armada. Light winds on Monday
mean dragon shoals from area Lundy
go cruising up St. George's channel
(It's not the "Irish Sea" That's flannel!)
and when they find the damsel's Trusty
Knight his armour will be all rusty
from salty water leaking in
with the Gulf Stream from cold Malin.
Just one Sole dragon, a real loose cannon
lives by himself in area Shannon.
He's called Fitzroy. 
He's a naughty boy, 
but if the cap Fitz, Roy will wear it
he's on his own. No need to share it . . .
In Trafalgar, Biscay and Fastnet
I think you might meet dragons, yet -
In Rockall 
there are none at all.

(*) pron. with 3 syllables; Ut-see-ra

Oct 20, 2011

There is - or used to be - a grammatical rule that said "ONLY" always qualifies the word that immediately FOLLOWS it. This rule is much neglected these days, and usually this does not matter, the intended sense being obvious despite the "ONLY" being misplaced.  But sometimes . . .


Only I wear Versace in my dreams.
My dream-companions buy clothes in Primark.

I only wear Versace in my dreams.
I do not shred or eat shirts for a lark.

I wear only Versace in my dreams,
except when I run naked through the park.

I wear Versace only in my dreams
perhaps because when dreaming, it is dark.

I wear Versace in only my dreams
but not in yours, or hers. All now should mark                                
I wear Versace in my only dreams.
Putting the "only" there would mean I'm bark-
-ing!  Can I afford Versace? In my dreams!

(I have offered this poem to the site "Imaginary Garden with Toads" Other entries can be seen by following the link)

Oct 18, 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge

Rachael Harrie's marvellous third campaigner challenge asks for a beach centered story of 300 words. For full details, follow the link.

Ozzy Simpleforth, King of Deckchairs

  "Oh listen to the sea and smell the salty breeze!" Simpleforth fought with a deckchair. "One can almost taste it! And hark! The crashing breakers fling spray to make the chilled skin tingle." That the deck chair was winning seemed beyond doubt. Simpleforth's face appeared through a fold of striped canvas. "Truly the seaside is a sybantec experience, antidote to a life entacised by ennui. But Heavens! I miss my bucket and spade, dearest. How could I forget such indispensable seaside accessories?"
  "No need for sarcasm," from Dearest. "Fed up already, are we?"
  "What's so stimulating about miles and miles of sand followed by miles of ocean." The deck chair, erect at last, creaked as he slumped. "One must keep one's fingers away from the joints. A man can lose valuable digits. God did not give me fingers to be sacrificed to overzealous deckchairs."
  "Stop fretting, for Goodness sake. Relax."
 "Look folks! Simpleforth relaxed, and partner, enjoying the holiday of a lifetime. Can you smell something?"
  "What now?
  "I have ten fine toes to wiggle in the sand," he said, sniffing, "As do you. And even though the lone and level sands stretch far away, we manage to choose a pitch next to a heap of donkey dung!"
  "Alright, Ozymandias. The Wastopaneer will be along soon to shovel it up. Now shut up. I'm reading my kindle."
  "And with a final fart, the donkey trotted off hee-hawing 'Look on my works ye mighty, and despair!' "
  "You're a disgust."
 Something deep in the deckchair's latticework cracked like a pistol shot and, still bearing its occupant, collapsed, a colossal wreck, onto the sand.
  "Blast my bollocks!"
  Dearest concentrated on her kindle, lips set in a mirth-concealing line. "Still got all your fingers?" she asked, a wholly false note infecting her solicitude.

(300 words)

(Apologies to Mr. Percy Bysshe Shelley.)

Oct 17, 2011

Magpie Tales#87

Tess at Willow Manor offers a tasty picture for this week's Magpie prompt.

In the Still of the Night

The boys finish work at one in the morning, roll down the shutters, the noise like bones rattling, and go, laughing and joking to their homes, a night-club, the whorehouse.  We wait till the sounds fade. Now is the time. We stretch our cramped legs and wings, flex our roasted necks. The Dance Mistress says "All ready?" We cackle our assent. We slip out of our headrings. Each relieves her neighbour of her shackles.  We form a circle on the restaurant floor. We have only one week left to prepare for the International Peking Duck Synchronised Dance Festival, telecast world-wide to an audience of millions.  The Mistress puts a coin in the juke box and selects our usual warm-up music - "The Ugly Duckling."  We particularly like the line about "feathers all stubby and brown." Stubbing and browning happen during the roasting.  And off we go! Four waddles to the left, four to the right. We bow towards the centre of the circle, then about face and shake our butts toward the centre, the way ducks do. Now we stretch our necks - in the jargon of duck synchro-dancing "haute de la tete flambĂ©" and quack for several measures in time to the music.  Someone is slightly flat. We start again. Practise makes perfect. Once warmed up, the Mistress fires up the juke box with "The Dance of the Little Swans" from "Swan Lake" (All ducks live in hope!) This is a "pas de quatre" and if you check out the picture, you'll see there's just enough of us.  Tonight Daisy Duck is keeping cave and when she suddenly quacks "Ici en approche!" we freeze and the Mistress kills the music until the passer-by has passed by. So the rehearsal goes on until dawn when we must flap back onto the counter and shackle ourselves.  Soon the boys will return, sharpening their carving knives in anticipation of customers looking for their breakfasts. Which of us will survive?  Who will need to be replaced?  Once we are back in our headrings the Mistress whispers "Tutus tonight, ladies. Dress rehearsal!" And there's not one of us who doesn't pray that she will be spared. 

Oct 13, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction 14th. October

G-Man tests our writerly resources once again. In precisely 55 words, delight and amaze him!

Dress Sense

"Mangold, why do you come to work without any trousers?  No shoes or socks either. And the tea-trolley lady tells me  - no underpants.  Yet your shirt, jacket and necktie are perfect.  I know FlashFriday Software is relaxed about dress, but really! Explain!"
"My lifestyle coach advises me always to keep my feet firmly on the ground..."


Oct 12, 2011

Fall In for the Willow Manor Ball!

Weell . . . thanks tae Tess her the invite an' a the work that gies inty the Ba'.

Am no much of a dancer. Am telt ye , though, wan o' ma great talents is fer throwin' folk oot the windaes. So non o' yer lip about ma kilt, ye wee Sassenach trachles in yer fancy pants an' yer freakin' bow ties.  See an' a do the Hielan' Fling, By Gawd yous'll see a sight fer sair ee'n.  See an' ye want tae throw me ooot the perty fer bein' coorse . . . it'll tak three o' ye!  Wan Scoatsman's mair'n a match for three dreeps fell oota Strictly Come Dancin', am tellt ye!
But as a wee concession to a' ye genteelfowk . .  ah'll leave ma bagpipes in ma motor, O.K?

Oct 6, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction 6th. October

G-Man's "Thursday Portrait" (5th. October 2011) made reference to a renowned figure from 20th century European history. I thought I would take up the theme for a Friday Flash Fiction, where G-Man expects us to restrict our ravings to 55 words, no more, no fewer.

Ambition Thwarted

"So, Herr Hitler. Your job application?"
"You speak German! Big help. Skills?"
"And can you hang wallpaper?"
"Vallpaper schmallpaper!  Ich bin artisticher painter, Schweinhund!"
"Nothing doing. Sorry, Herr Hitler."
"Gotterdammerung!  How about Reichchancellor of Germany und invade Poland mit panzers und goosesteppungensvolk? Und schlacht.(*)"
(Exits raving, with raised arm salute)
"Pandas? Geese? Next crackpot!"

55 words, excluding title. 
(*) schlacht = battle (lit. slaughter)

Oct 3, 2011

Magpie Tales#85

The Elephant in the Room

Simpleforth is attending his first tutorial as a Freshman student at Brasstoff College, Oxford, UK. His tutor, Professor Headwind, has brought a picture to the tutorial, artist unknown, (as the kindly Tess Kincaid points out).

   There are six or so students in the tutorial group and one of them, not Simpleforth, says "Oh Sir, my granny had wallpaper like that in her downstairs loo!(*)"
   Professor Headwind (pron: wind as in watch, not wind as in gale-force) ignores this early contribution and begins. "Ladies and Gentlemen - "  The six or so gentlemen look at each other, but seeing no ladies(**), give their attention to the picture. 
   Headwind continues. "Today we shall address one of the central problems of philosophy, which has bedevilled our colleagues in the scientific disciplines since discipline . . " A faraway expression crosses Headwind's face. Then he continues "Er, no, erm, beg pardon, I mean since scientific investigation began. To whit.  Is absence of evidence evidence of absence?"
   Again the students look at each other.
  "Is there an elephant in the room?"  Headwind looks round the group, who remain (which remains?) silent
  "Very well then," Headwind continues. He places the picture face down on the desk so that it cannot be seen.  "Is there an elephant in the room?  Hmm?  Hmm? Anyone?"
  The students stare at Headwind.  Simpleforth decides to take a lead.
 "Sir, there never was an elephant in the room. There was, however, an image of an elephant in the room, but now we cannot see it."
 "Excellent. Excellent! You are Mr . . . . ?"
  Headwind consults a list. "Oh!  A grammar school boy. Hmm. Unusual. Well. Never mind. Let's get off. Sorry. On. Let's get on."
   The students exchange glances. There is some restrained tittering.
   "Suppose I had not let you see the picture before asking 'Is there an elephant in the room'?"
  "Sir, we would have said 'No. There isn't an elephant in the room' Then you would have shown us the picture and said something like 'Ah. But there is!  Here it is.' "
  "Well done, Simpleforth.  You're beating me . . " - the same glazed expression - "beating me to the point. Which is?"
   "Q.E.D.," says Simpleforth. "Absence of evidence is not  always or necessarily evidence of absence. And I don't want to truncate the discussion, sir, but I think that next you're going to tell us that just because no one has ever seen an elephant with wings doesn't prove that . .  "
   Now Headwind senses that Simpleforth is a dangerous subversive and far too smart to ever be a successful philosopher.  "Truncate the discussion?  You said 'truncate', Mr.Simpleforth, grammar school boy. Are you trying to be funny?"
   "Me sir? No sir."
  "I can see I'll have my to keep my eye on you, young man! Well, thank you Ladies and Gentlemen. Till next week . . "
   Professor Headwind seizes his picture and sweeps out of the room. The other five or so students gather round Simpleforth, offering coffees or a swift half-pint, and one says "Wonder what the next half-wit will go on about?" and another asks "Who said his granny had an elephant in her loo?"
  At this moment, a tall blonde female - actually Headwind's secretary(***) - who had been hiding behind the desk, shows herself and says. "Hi, Guys! Do I look like an elephant?"

(*)    Go here, oh Disbelievers! There are more things in Heaven and Earth . .  . etc
(**)   But have a care, dear reader. In the context, anything is possible.
(***) That's Headwind's story.

Many more in-flight pachyderm stories at Magpie Tales

Oct 2, 2011

Magpie Tales#84

Tess tempts us with this teasing prompt . . . but I'm too late, I expect, sooooo . . .

The Woman in the Rain Pleads . . 

"Tess, dear Tess, 'tis Sunday again! Oh please, PLEASE, post the prompt for Magpie#85!"

Sep 30, 2011

Haiku Wednesday and FFF55, 28th September


Thanks to Jenn for suggesting "Dare" as the subject for this week's Haiku challenge.

Join the fun!

Go to your mirror.
What would you do if you saw
someone not you there?

 . . . and thanks also to G-Man who once again invites us to solve life's enduring mysteries in only 55 words.


The first mirror made me look fat and my head very long. In the next mirror my reflection didn't do what I did. I smiled. My reflection scowled. I waved at myself. My reflection aimed a kick. I stepped closer to examine this strange mirror. My hand reached through the glass and seized me by the throat.

(55 words not including the title)


Sep 28, 2011

In Tandem#12

The In Tandem prompt is this lovely picture by Jinksy.
Without a shadow of doubt it is artistically superior to
this -

She thinks, "I'll be really unkind
and sit with my back to the blind
so that gents passing by
who my front hope to spy
will have to make do with behind!"

Unfailingly helpful as usual, Jinksy did me a rush job so that an idea from Little Nell's 2nd. comment (below) could be given substance -

But if gentlemen do get an itch
to see that she wears not a stitch,
the louvres roll over.
The lads are in clover!
Full Frontal! The norty wee witch!

Sep 27, 2011

A Triolet Writer Grieves.

Sound a sad cow-bell. For the English Muse
is dead. Free verse now wanders down the page.
Easy! New-age poets have no use
for sounds. The cow-bell of the English Muse
is fading. You won't hear free-versers fuse
assonance with meter, rhyme. They're far too sage.
Sound a sad cow-bell for the English Muse
now free verse slops and dribbles down the page.

(Posted in response to the Triolet Challenge set by Grace at "Imaginary Garden With Real Toads")
Imago, Imagas, Imagat.

"Pay attention, Simpleforth!"
Raps ruler on desk.
"Simpleforth, are you bored?"
"No sir!"
"Do you by any chance not like Latin, Simpleforth?"
"Oh yessir. Amo molto Latino, Magister."
"But I thought I saw you yawning just now, Simpleforth. As if construing two hundred or so words of sensible Latin was, how shall we say, beyond your wit? Do not the forthcoming examinations generate an atmosphere of foreboding? Even fear?"
"Has the wretch actually gone to sleep?"
"No sir. I'm thinking."
"You mean, Simpleforth, that within the putrefying mess that passes for your brain, there is discernible activity?  And what will emerge as a result?  What terrifying creature will this pupil's pupa produce? Marcus Tullius in tablino sedet? Omnes Gallia in tres partes divisa est? Or are you hoping that if Latin finally begins to appear it will be at the same moment that the bell announces end of lesson and Hooray it's Morning Break?"
(Bell sounds.)
"Not so fast, Simpleforth. Instead of hoofing off for a ciggie behind the bike sheds, you will stay here and write a two hundred word imposition to explain the Latin or Greek roots of the words imago, lacuna, miasma, oscitate, and synchronicity." 
"Ohh . . . SIR!"

(Hint to the beleagured schoolboy . .  all the given words are implied in the story, but in Simpleforth Standard English)

(200 words, not including the title and footnotes.  Posted in response to Rachel Harrie's Second Campaigner Challenge)

Sep 23, 2011

Thursday Thirteen, 22nd.September.

1.   The washing machine began to rumble ominously in its final 1200 r.p.m. spin.
2.   The coffee mugs on the shelf above the rumbling washing machine began to dance.
3.   My Better-Half said "What is wrong with the washing machine?"
4.   I said, "It's rumbling. Ominously. I will switch it off."
5.   I hauled the washing machine out from under the counter (In the UK we call them "work tops", OK?)
6.   I took the top cover off the washing machine.
7.   I saw that one of the retaining springs on the drum was broken.
8.   I went to get my tool box.
9.   I could not find my tool box.  I called to my Better-Half, "Have you seen my tool box?"
10. My Better-Half replied "Yes."  This was probably literally true, but not very helpful.
11. I found my tool box, but by this time I could not remember why I needed it.  I thought, "If I go back the way I came, I will probably be reminded why I needed my tool box before I get there."  I am full of good ideas like this.  But it was a while before I could remember I had come from the washing machine. I stood my ground, thinking. Ah, yes!  The washing machine.
12. When I got back to the washing machine, I could not remember where I had found my tool box or why I needed it.  I noticed he coffee cups had stopped dancing. Except for the one that had danced off the shelf and shattered on the tile floor. Surely that's not why I needed my tool box?
13. My Better-Half called "I have phoned for the domestic appliance repairman."


What’s that sound?  Limping footsteps dragging across the yard! She seized a kitchen knife like she had seen cornered women do in the movies. The footsteps stopped on the porch. Something hammered on the door and an unearthly voice called out -
"Sorry to bother you, love. Guy down the road tells me you sharpen chainsaws?"

This is a Friday Flash Fiction 55 for the nightmare world of G-Man where bloggers edit hundreds of words down to the important 55. (YOU can do it!  You know you can!)

Sep 20, 2011

Magpie Tales#83

Once again Tess at Willow Manor asks us to dig deep into our poetic reserves, encouraged by this week's pictorial prompt.

"The Snake Charmer" Henri Rousseau 1907

A primitive painter called Rousseau
bought Mrs. Rousseau a new trousseau.
But snakeskin pyjamas
are no use to Charmers . . .
"I'll shed them," she said. He said "Do so!"

* * * * 

A charming Snake Charmer called Richter
tried charming a boa constrictor.
It squeezed her much thinner
and ate her for dinner
declaring "Music like that's nothing fit for!"

I dedicate these limericks to Stafford Ray (No.18 in the Magpie#83 Linky list) and ask if he will settle for an honourable draw?

Sep 17, 2011

Goodness Me, Fancy That, Who'd Ever Have Thought It!

Christian Goldbach (1690 - 1764)

Did you know that all EVEN numbers greater than 2 are the sum of not more than two PRIME numbers?

e.g. 4=2+2, 6=3+3, 18=11+7 etc.  

This so-called "GOLDBACH CONJECTURE" has been checked for billions of even numbers but never proved.  Well, I have a wonderful proof, which unfortunately, won't fit into 55 words. Pity!

(The renowned G-Man invites us to debate the State of Nations etc in 55±0 words.  Along with G-Man, I wish all bloggers a kick-ass weekend checking out all the even numbers they can think of . . . . )

Sep 10, 2011

Hup Two Three.

Beethoven's dog Allegro
was nimble on its feet.
To see it dance the polka
was something of a treat.

When people said, "Hey, Ludwig -
that's clever." - Go on, guess!
The dog replied "You'll need to shout.
The old man's bloody deaf!"

(What's all this about?  It's Laurie Kolp at 'Imaginary Garden With Real Toads' wanting bloggers to write a poem in ONE MINUTE, with EIGHT LINES and containing the word ALLEGRO. Which means you need to think piu mosso then hit the keyboard running.)

Sep 9, 2011

"The Falling Leaves . . .

 . . . drift by my window"

Wife:        "Why are you staring out of the picture-window?"
Husband: "Watching for the first falling leaf of the Fall."
Wife:        "And then?"
Husband: "I'll go out and pick it up."
Wife:        "Why?"
Husband: "Must keep on top of it or we'd soon be knee deep in them."
(Wife exits to kitchen, shaking her head ruefully.)

(55 words, not including the title)

Thanks again to G-Man for hosting a prompt-blog where we can be as Silly As We Like in only 55 words . . . and to Jinksy who hosts the up-and-coming "In Tandem"