Jul 29, 2012

There's Sadness  at the Heart of Things . . .

Said the Man to the Dawg "Walkies, freak.
It's time you went out for a leak."
The Dawg said "No rush!
See that poor dying bush?
I've been watering it for a week."


(Image by Zelko Nedic)
Inspired by Tess's picture prompt and by Frances Garrood's Magpie No. 27
Thank you Tess. Thank you Frances.

Jul 28, 2012

Olympic Events You Never Knew About

The Three-Legged Bike Race.  MARK CAVENDISH is certain to take GOLD. He's Manx and doesn't need a co-rider.   All Manxmen have three legs, (see flag.)

Synchronised SpoilSporting.   Put your money on ADA TRELLIS, North Wales's sourpuss, for GOLD. 

And for SILVER . . GEORGE OSBORNE, Chancellor of the Exchequer. He's filled British households with misery and emptied their piggy-banks.

Hide and Seek.    The skeletal remains of the 1896 Olympic Champion, discovered in a tin trunk in a remote cottage in Auchterturragh, Scotland, were posthumourously awarded GOLD in absentia at the Beijing Games, 2008.

Jul 23, 2012

Magpie No. 127

A True Story, that Almost Passes Belief.

(This memory from my daughter's early days at school was jogged by Jane Healy's Magpie - No.36 - this week,  following Tess Kincaid's picture prompt.  Thank you Jane. Thank you Tess.)

Figure Eight, 1952, by Franz Kline

Every day, I go to meet my daughter, 5, coming out of school, to walk home with her. Her school-pal's mother is usually waiting also.  If not, I will take the pal home. This is the understanding.  Let's call my daughter's pal "Denise"

Denise's Mum knows I am in the University. She also knows that education is always spelt with a capital "E" - if you know what I mean. This particular day she is there herself, waiting for Denise. We chat about this and that.  We hear the bell tinkling from inside the school.  The children will be getting their school-hats and coats, and soon they'll come charging out, and soon they do.  It is their first year at school.  No one charges quite like a 5 year old.

My daughter and Denise appear together, and both are holding out at arms' length the paintings they have been doing that morning. Two A5 sheets, both of which are riots of colour, the sort of uninhibited work which is not meant to express anything except the sheer joy of getting paint onto paper, particularly when the paper today was big, big, BIG!  Their little faces are shining with achievement. The way they hold their paintings out, at arms length in front of them says "Look at my super picture!" I imagine their art-work blu-tacked to the kitchen wall, or in my study at the Uni.

And what does Denise's mother say?  (Education with a capital "E" remember!)  She says  "Ahh Denise!  What a mess!"

I don't know if this put-down became one of Denise's life-long memories (she's in her forties now) but it certainly became one of mine. As did the memory of her wee face crumpling into tears. 

Jul 16, 2012

Magpie Tales#126

Jack Vettriano makes a debut appearance in the Magpie prompts, courtesy of Tess Kincaid.

"I Give Up . . .

I  tried this. Twice!

and . . . .

and nearly all of these . . . .

but none of them got me in to see FTSE.  But I'm not a robot. I'm just a poor waif in a slinky black dress with lots of d├ęcolletage and bare shoulders and artfully untidy hair and a pensive little-girl-lost look who needs to consult the good Doctor about her smoker's cough . . . "

Jul 13, 2012

Friday Flash Fiction 55

I so wish this little story was true, but can't believe it really is.


Rachmaninov, pianist extraordinaire, was accompanying a violin recital.
The violinist was playing from memory,  Rachmaninov from score. The duo did not get on well personally. At one point the violinist realised his memory was letting him down. He indicated Rachmaninov’s score with his bow, whispering "Where are we?" Rachmaninov whispered back "We're in the Carnegie Hall!"

Jul 9, 2012

Magpie Tales # 125

Tess at Willow Manor asks us to critique this painting for Magpie 125.

Chilmark Hay, 1951 by Thomas Hart Benton

    "You seem unusually thoughtful today, Simpleforth. Is anything the matter?"
    "I was wondering what Constable would make of it."
    "I can't bring to mind a Constable in the art class?"
    "No sir. John Constable. English painter. 1776 to 1837. Romantic landscapes of an England long vanished, where sturdy yokels and sturdy horses toiled in the fields when they weren't getting their haywains stuck in rivers.  Not like this one, which is certainly more hay than wain where some of the hay seems to be falling off the wain and a horse with an unnaturally long neck is apparently bent on homeward plodding his weary way to a farmhouse with a garage at the side but no door.  I mean look at it, sir! It's a "Haymaking" by David Hockney out of Vincent van Gogh! And the haycocks look like Yorkshire puddings under a plastic sheet."
    "If I may interrupt the flow of your appraisal for a moment, Simpleforth. What's this about a haywain stuck in a river?"
    "That was before the invention of the car-wash, sir.  None of the analyses of Constable's picture mention that.  Maybe the wain isn't stuck in the river. Maybe the yokels pay a groat or two to wash the wain in the river before high-tailing it to the haymeadow to load up. It is empty after all. Maybe they could wash the horses as well. Or maybe they've already sold the hay on the black market and are heading home by river so's to cover their tracks."
    "Have you been smoking something behind the bike-sheds again, Simpleforth?"
    "And have you noticed how beat-up the haywain is?"
    "You can hardly see the haywain . . . "
    "Not that one, sir. Constable's. It looks ready for the bonfire. It's hanging together. It's kindling. The sort of rubbish you  sell to 'We Buy AnyWain.com' "
    "I'm afraid I'm not following you at all, Simpleforth. Which I must say is not unusual. Just get on with your appraisal of Benton's painting and hand it in by lunchbreak."
    "Lunchbreak, sir, would be rough cider in leathern bottles and massive hunks of bread and cheese and a snooze under the haystack while the honest sweat dried on their brows and only the milkmaids for company - elements conspicuously absent from Benton's effort."
    "Perhaps that's as well. Um . . er . . would you like to speak to the school Nurse?"
    "Why sir?  Does she paint haywains as well?"

Reader's as puzzled as was the art teacher by Simpleforth's discourse are referred to the picture below: -

Part of "The Haywain" by John Constable.

Jul 1, 2012

Magpie #124

Tess asks us this week to versify Ophelia's unhappy fate.  The Coroner's verdict is sadly not in the public domain, but here is the police pathologist's photograph.

Redon Odilon "Ophelia"

Don't Blame Yourself, Sweet Prince.

Ophelia set off for the nunnery
thinking "I won't have much funnery."
She left by the door
of Old Elsinore
but not far beyond
she fell in a pond -
By the time he came round
Hamlet saw she had drowned
and lamented "Oh! What have I dunnery?"