Dec 15, 2013

So That's What Really Happened . . .

Tess gives us a chilly picture for this week's prompt.

Three guys who were all clearly manic
said "Why don't we sink the Titanic?
We'll need lots of ice
but won't it be nice
to watch all the passengers panic."

The Ice Cutters, 1911, Natalia Goncharova

Note the date of the picture. The ice cutters had plenty of time . . . .
There are worthier efforts to be found here.


Nov 18, 2013

"A Lot of Kisses on the Bottom . . . "(*)

Tess takes us back to the days of the Penny Post for this week's Mag.

Dear Miss Gibbs . . . there in Henley-in-Arden
I've been lifting the spuds in my garden.
I found one or two
that made me think of you

with my best regards . . and beg pardon.


(*) from a well known ditty recorded by Fats Waller et al


Nov 2, 2013



Alright, I'll explain.

First:       It's a PALINDROMIC number. (Reads same either way)
Second:  It's a PRIME number.  (Divisible only by itself and 1- check it out!)
Third:     2 groups of 13 zeroes. (So it's doubly unlucky!)
Fourth:   That's the Sign of the Beast  - "666" - in the middle!

Known as "Belphegor's Prime"

Now Google "Belphegor"  - and tremble!

(G-Man asked for 55  apocalyptic words for his on-going FFF55. This was the best I could do.)


Oct 14, 2013

Mag 190

Tess gives us an appealing photo of a dog with a world view to inspire us this week.

The Man in the Bowler Hat

Here he comes again. Same time every morning. That man in the bowler hat.  My ambition is to make his hat my own.  If the gap in my master's fence was one plank wider I could achieve my goal.  Every morning the man leans down to pat me and says "Hello, Boy! How are we today?" Well, I know how I am. All I know about him is he's wearing my hat. Where was I?  Yes. If the gap was a bit wider I would growl and throw my head back and bark. Whereupon he would jerk his hand away and look alarmed. When he backed away I would squeeze through the gap. Then he would look  really scared, wondering whether to stand his ground and make conciliatory noises, turn and walk briskly away, or run for his life. I'm a big dog, and powerful, despite being pink with blue eyes.  Really, he'd have little chance.  If I could talk I'd say "I don't want to hurt you. Just hand over the hat." But as you know, dogs can't talk, except for some pathetic little mutts who get on TV because they can say "Sausages." So I'd spring. Too bad if I knock him over. I'd seize the hat by the brim and yank it off his head, so I would.  The man, recovering from his alarm, would see me lying down the way dogs do, full length with the hat between my front paws. Maybe he'd say "Ah!  It's a game you want?  You want me to throw the hat and shout 'Fetch'!"  He'd be confusing hats with sticks. The Man Who Thought His Hat Was a Stick. But when he reached down to retrieve his hat I'd get a grip on the brim.  I'd win the pulling match because I'm big and strong as well as pink.  Pretty soon he'd see my teeth marks in the brim and mutter something like "Oh botheration! Now it's all serrated.  Well, I can always buy another hat."  Then he'd pat me on the head and walk away.  Maybe he'd look back over his shoulder, to see me biting more bits out of the brim so it looks like a black flower with petals. But he'd be round the corner before he saw me biting a big hole in the smooth, round crown of the hat so I can push my head through it and wear it  round my neck, the best dog collar in all the world.  Pity the gap isn't wide enough.

Oct 6, 2013

Mag 189

Tess gives us this picture prompt for Mag 189 to get our imaginations ticking over . . .

image by crilleb50

A studious fellow called Lime
said "Sitting alone is no crime.
And it's surely not folly
to lean on my brolly
while I work out the average time."


Aug 26, 2013

Imperfect Solution.

Tess's prompt this week is a common sight on the narrow roads in the remoter parts of Scotland and the Scottish Islands.

photo by Steven Kelly 

"Sir, sir!  Pull in here!"
"It's a passing place, Simpleforth, not a lay-by.  The school mini-bus will block it."
"You can't park in a passing place!  Why do you want to stop?  Do you need a  comfort break?"
"No Sir!  I just want to work something out."
(Sotto voce) "OMG . . another Simpleforth theory." (Aloud) "Anway . . we've passed the passing place now.  If you want to stop we should look for a MacDonald's."
"In this wilderness?  Not another vehicle in site horizon to horizon. No MacDonalds, petrol stations, herds of antelope, village fetes, burnt out lorries. Nothing. Why do they need a passing place when nothing wants to get past anythng else?"
"You're becoming cryptic again, Simpleforth. And this road would be busy in summer. Tourists in caravans and so on.  So what did you want to work out?"
"Well sir, I wondered what would happen if two vehicles travelling in opposite directions both decided to drive courteously and both of them headed into the passing place at the same time and smashed into each other and the drivers got out, and after pointing at each other and at their crashed cars, they started raising their voices  . .  and then started fighting each other?"
"You have a fine schoolboy imagination, young man. But where is this scenario going?"
"Nothing else can get past now, sir!  Because the passing place is blocked."
"Point taken. So?"
"So when the next vehicles travelling in opposite directions arrive, they can't pass each other - "
"Of course not.  That's obvious."
" - unless one of them backs-up to the next passing place down, or up, the road.  And before they get there, they meet another vehicle travelling in the same but the opposite direction, so to speak."
"Well, sir. Suppose one of them was heading south.  To get to the next passing place, it has to head north, but going backwards. And meets another vehicle heading south, but going forwards.  Another deadlock. Until the vehicle heading south backs up to the next passing place, but on the way, meets another vehicle . . . "
"Simpleforth, is this where I should bury my face in my hands?"
"Oh no, Sir!  The minibus could crash."
"So what exactly is your point?'
"Well Sir, if two vehicles crash head-on in a passing place, pretty soon you have a situation where the line of vehicles that was heading south is now going north backwards looking for a passing place and another line going . .  "
"Alright, Simpleforth. I follow your argument. So what should we conclude?"
"Well sir, how about  - Passing Places are not a good way of getting vehicles past each other and better to just widen the roads."
"Now why didn't I think of that?"

I am indebted to a fellow blogger (No.16) whose inspirational haiku was the inspiration for this effort. Thank you, Horseman.

Aug 13, 2013

A Dance To the Music of Time

Friends and followers who are aware that I have long been Numbered Amongst the Downtrodden might like to hear of my latest misfortune and who knows, leave a conciliatory comment below this post.

painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

This is what happened.  Accompanied by a fellow blogger who must remain nameless for reasons of anonymity and modesty, I or rather she and I, entered the Olde Timers' Dancing Competition, a sort of slowed down version of "Strictly Come Dancing." Contestants - who are not permitted to use zimmer frames or space-hoppers - must be in their xth decade where "x" is large and positive, and must enter in three categories, namely the St.Bernard Waltz(*), the stately Gavotte and to jazz things up a bit, the "Hands, Knees and Bumps-A-Mabel."  This is a variant of the better known "Hands, Knees and Bumps-A-Daisy." The variant was popularised in my, I should say our youth by the Edwardian master dancing-master Sir Lancelot Simpleforth-Jinks, known as High Jinks because of untreatable B.O.

All went well until we came to the last category when our chance of ending up on the medals rostrum came crashing to the ground. She bumps-a-mabeled - which is what we had rehearsed - but I lost the place and bumps-a-daisied more vigorously than usual. My partner hissed "Do a reverse cross-buttock! It's the only way out of this mess." But too late! We also came crashing to the ground in a tangle of limbs and petticoats amid cries from the audience of "They're not Olde Timers!  They're in their second childhoods! Disqualify!  Disqualify!"

I tell you, folks, at my age life is no longer a breeze as I'm sure you'll agree.  I need a drink.

(*) This lumbering 3/4 is included to give Old Dogs a chance.

It's the Mag prompt and the unfailing Tess Kincaid who puts these ideas into me head.

Aug 9, 2013

Another blooper!

Regular as clockwork G-Man invites 55 words that shed new light on the human condition.

As an aid for the hard of hearing Thos. Edison invented a headband with a flashing light on a little stalk that flashed on-and-off in the wearer's field of vision whenever their phone rang. Geddit?  So they knew the phone was ringing and could take the call - but when they picked up the handset . .  OOPS!


Jul 20, 2013


55 words of fiction for G-Man?  

My local operatic society wanted to stage their musical version of "Hound of the Baskervilles" with Mrs. Groundling's Japanese Tosa in the lead role. We felt that this was just the dog for ripping Sir Henry to ribbons.  But Health and Safety objected, unfortunately, and the part was given to Nippy, a West Highland terrier who barks "Sausages."


Jun 28, 2013

Inspired By Another's 55

and by G-Man, ever on the look out for 55 words of wisdom.

I have 3 pairs of orange socks and 3 pairs lime green.  I open my sock drawer in darkness.  How many must I take out to ensure I picked a matching pair?

1.  Give them to Other Mary.  She'll happily lose them for you.
2.  Surely you can see socks like those in the dark?
3.  Three. (Why?)

Jun 23, 2013

Ladies . . Look Away Now

Tess's prompt brings out the best in Kubrik and the worst in FTSE(*)

Says he "May I give them a squeeze?"
Says she "You referring to these?
Well listen here, Chum
in years yet to come
they'll prove useful for warming my knees."

Stanley Kubrick for Look Magazine, 1949 

(*) Remember . .  he's a Doctor. He knows about these things.

Jun 19, 2013

Mag 173

Tess uses this delightful fantasy by Marc Chagall to float our boats this week.

The Promenade, 1918, by Marc Chagall 

The lassie declared to her mate
"I think it's time I lost some weight."
They didn't see that
she really meant "fat."
Now she can't get around
with both feet on the ground
'cos she's lighter than air
and it's really not fair -
Her husband's been told
he must keep a tight hold
or she could drift far off into space. (*)

(*) I can't claim originality.  The idea that "losing weight" isn't what the overweight really need to do was used by H.G.Wells in 1903 in  a short story "The Truth About Pyecraft."

Jun 12, 2013

The Locked Room Mystery

For Mag 172 Tess unlocks our creative urges with this intriguing picture

Charleston Farmhouse Door 

Chorus:     (to be sung to this well known tune)

"Oh dear, what can the matter be?
 Simpleforth got locked in the lavatory
 He's been there since early last Saturday.
 Nobody knew he was there."

He wanted to finish his homework for history.
He thought that the Small Room would offer some privacy
Who would have thought that the door lock was all faulty.
And only the one place to sit.

Chorus:    "Oh, dear . . . etc"

He eyed the resources, remembered some trickery.
You climb knotted bedsheets to make your escapery.
But what came to hand was a roll of white papery
soft but not terribly strong.

Chorus:    "Oh dear . . . etc"

But Simpleforth never has lacked ingenuity.
By standing where you'd sit he soon gained ascendency,
climbed the partition twixt his and the neighbourly
loo - Now he's flushed with success.

and one last time, folks

Chorus:   "Oh dear . . . etc"


May 31, 2013

Artificial Intelligence My Arse!

G-Man foresees a totally wired world.   This isn't a fictional 55. But then, truth always is stranger . . . .

What is David Cameron's private telephone number? Or Barak Obama's?  Take your pick.
I know you don't know. But the point is -  you KNOW that you don't know without having to think about it.
A computer has to scan ALL ITS STORED TELEPHONE NUMBERS before it can tell you it doesn't know.
See what I mean?  


May 20, 2013

On the Siting of Bathrooms.

This week Tess prompts the inner writer with this picture "Lighthouse Dandelions" by James Wyeth

" I wonder what they do all day?"
"You wonder what who do all day, Simpleforth?"
"Lighthouse keepers, sir.  D'you think they play Scrabble? If there's only one of them, maybe they play Patience.  And of course, they have to clean the lenses. That must be fun. D'you think they see distorted reflections of their faces in the lenses? Do you think if they stand in front of the light at night their giant shadow is flung across the sea every time the light comes round?  D'you think they maybe run round and round fast enough so they're always in the path of the beam and their giant shadow gallops across the waves?  That would scare mariners out at sea, I should think.  What do you think, sir?"
"I think perhaps you're rambling again, Simpleforth. Much as it delights the rest of the class . .   can we get back to Wyeth's picture?"
"Sir, where are the toilets?"
"You've been in the school long enough to know the toilets are off the cloakroom . . "
"No sir. The toilets in a lighthouse.  I mean, if they're at the bottom, it's a long way to go, all the way down the stairs if a keeper needs . . . you know, Sir . . . while he's attending to the light. And if they're at the top, where the light is, and the keeper is downstairs . . . that's just as lacking in . . er . . convenience. So to speak. I think this must have been in Wyeth's mind when he painted the dandelions."
"What must have been in his mind when he painted the dandelions?"
"Where to put the toilets, sir."
"Simpleforth - why do you waste one of the best brains in the class on this twaddle?"
"I think Wyeth knew about dandelions and toilets and has united them in a sort of pictorial joke. He's using dandelions on purpose to make us think about . . . . "
"Think about what? You've stopped, Simpleforth?"
"I was just thinking, sir, that Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" in a patch of dandelions would have made the point better . . . "
(At this point the tannoy beeped for the end of the lesson.  The class began to collect their books and notes and head for the door, Simpleforth leading the way. The Art Master opened his laptop and Googled "Duchamp, fountain" followed by "dandelions."  He read quietly for a while, then smiled.)
"I think the best advice we can give to lighthouse keepers is - don't eat dandelion leaves at bedtime, wherever the toilets are. And no doubt young Simpleforth will continue to surprise us . . . "

May 10, 2013

Breaking News.

G-Man requests our inventive fol-de-rols as an antidote to Friday, in 55 words. Here goes.

A gang held up a truck delivering toilet rolls to a Tesco Convenience store.   When the driver tried to tell the thieves his load had little value they got annoyed and sprayed his truck with bullets. He escaped unharmed, his cab being fitted with bullet proof glass. But there was a lot of soft tissue damage.


May 2, 2013

But Not Necessarily in the Right Order!

Here's a little effort in response to Marian's IGWRT challenge on April 30th. to write an "Alphabetic Word Embedded Sequence Ode, Metrics Excluded" poem

Attention!  Brian Clough, drunken egomaniac,
footballing genius, harangues 'imself jocularly.
"Kick lover-man's nuts!"
"Obvious penalty!" quoth referee, shouting.
Truculent Uruguayan veteran winger
xclaimed - "You zombie!"


Apr 29, 2013

What Was That Again?

This week, Tess takes as her prompt a scene from a wonderful children's story for adults . . .

illustration by Helen Ward 

To begin with a thumping cliché - Simpleforth woke with a start.  "Wha . .?" he cried "Bodger? Wind?"  He added, largely as insurance in case he had woken up during English "Yes sir!" 
The blackboard, and Joe Plug, Head of English, B.A.(Cantab), real name Vradovic Vradovicka, came into focus. "Ahh . . I see young Simpleforth has returned to the fold. Or should I say, the River Bank. Welcome!  We were discussing the role of Badger in the operation 'Reclaim Toad Hall.' Does this ring any bells, Simpleforth, um? Um?"
Privately, Simplforth wondered why the class was required to read this juvenille shite. 'Wind in the Willows.' I ask you.
"Sir, I think he wanted to clear the weasels out of the Hall by nutting them with his stout cudgel. But . . ."
"But, Simpleforth? But?  But the class no buts and cudgel them no cudgels"  
"But cudgelling folk is old fashioned and tends to be messy. Blood spatter. That sort of thing. There are better methods."  Simpleforth was awake now. He knew the value of the dramatic pause, and paused dramatically.
"We're waiting, Major Simpleforth."
"Badger has a secret weapon, sir."  He paused again. The class turned to look at him. 
"Which is?"
"T.B.  It's all over the news, sir. Badgers spread T.B. Their droppings are the vector. So Badger should . . . "
"I think we've heard enough! Badger had his stout cudgel, and his friends, Ratty and Mole. And Mister Toad."
"But sir! Up against weasels a toad would be about as much use as a chocolate teapot. They'd make toadmince of him in no time. Probably molemince and rat, too. Only Badger would stand a chance.  He'd whack a few skulls before he went down, fighting to the last.  Whereas if he made spreading T.B parson partle of  his seige strategy . .  "
"Forgive me interrupting.  Who is Parson Partle?  I don't recollect a parson person in 'Will in the Windows'."
For a moment, Simpleforth was confounded. But only for a moment.
"Oh, sorry, sir.  I was momentarily infected, not by T.B. but by Mrs. Malaprop.  When I said Parson Partle, I meant of course 'part 'n parcel'  . . .  and you meant 'Wind in the Willows' not 'Will in the Windows' just now "

I will end here, friends and followers,  pointing out that it was Jinksy who challenged me to get 'Wind In The Willows', Simpleforth and Parson Partle into this week's Mag. She owes me twenty quid.

Apr 22, 2013


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to pen something new every day during April. This offering is for Day 21. 

Brave New Worlds - April 21st 1992

Two astronomers, Wolszczan and Frail
announced in a joyful eMail
"We've found a new planet! (*)
There may be no one on it -
but - fire off some nukes without fail."

(*) Orbiting a pulsar a mere 1000 light years from our Sun.  But you never know. That's in our Galaxy! The Milky Way could be swarming with dangerous Little Green Men, and what's the point of having a Second Amendment if we don't defend ourselves by bombing the bastards before they land in our backyards?

ONE A DAY #20 and MAG 165

The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new poem every day during April. This poem fills the role One A Day #20 as well as being a response to Tess Kincaid's picture prompt for Mag 165, "Monhegan's Schoolteacher", 2004, by Jamie Wyeth.

Boys Will Be Boys 

Myself when young did long frequent
a Grammar School where boys were sent
to learn to conjugate and parse
and stab each other in the arse
with pen nibs, or launch paper darts.
This was more fun than algebra.

You need to know on the first floor,
connected by a huge locked door
there was a Grammar school for Girls -
(They're the ones with plaits and curls)
who were instructed by the Dame
to "Not go near those wicked boys"

When I progressed to Upper Fourth
a new boy came from way up North.
"Meet Simpleforth" Headmaster said.
"Show him the ropes from A to Z,
where he can hang his cap and coat.
And don't forget the toilets."

This new kid was not one of us.
You never heard him swear and cuss.
He never risked a fart in class
and never did he fail to pass
the weekly tests that Joe Plug set
on Palmerston or Gladstone.

Yet Simpleforth proved worth his keep.
He quickly found by digging deep
that, though co-ed was frowned upon
the School Rules showed there was just one
joint class where Boys and Girls could meet -
Biology!  Oh, how fitting!

We lads declared our dearest wish
was the microscope and Petri dish.
We clocked the sidelong, girlish stares
and asked them "Shall we work in pairs?"
We passed the exams lying down!
Three loud Hurrahs for Simpleforth!

Apr 20, 2013


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to pen something new every day during April. This offering for Day 19 is in rhyming couplets - a whole new psychedelic experience.

"Turn On, Tune In, Fall Off!"

Kids, are you well doped up?  Then I'll begin.
This guy called Hofman(*) thought he'd win
fame and fortune by researching LSD.
(Extract of Magic Mushrooms to you and me)
So he purified a small heap of the stuff -
about the size of a pinch of snuff -
- dissolved it in some freshly distilled water
and said "I wonder if I oughta
inject myself?  Forward Hofman! Only the brave
deserve a thorough going rave!"
He filled a syringe and plunged the needle in-
-to a patch of tender Hofman skin,
and pretty soon his lab began to jump about and swerve.
But Hofman kept his nerve.
Ever the scientist he wrote down all he felt and saw
including blundering through the door
that looked and felt  and smelt like treacle pud,
and turning somersaults. A colleague said "Not good!
I'd take you home to Mrs. Hofman
so you can sleep it off, Man.
But we're at war so cannot use  the car."
Hofman said "It isn't far!
So if you like
I'll take a backie on your bike."
He passed the ride with mind distorting sights,
spirals and spinning balls of coloured light
and big pink rabbits that hopped about the floor
making him happier than he'd ever felt before -
except he was sure the neighbour he knew best
was  in fact the Wicked Witch of the West.
Safely back home Mrs. Hofman said "Tut tut!
You're stoned again, you psychedelic nut!"
"True, but it's all recorded in these notes!
Look, dearest!" She read "Mushroom gets my votes."
in perfect mirror writing and upside down.
(When Hofman trips, he really goes to town.)
She shook her head and sadly turned away.

All this was long ago and far away . . .
Hop-heads still celebrate "Bicycle Day"(*) 

(*) Hofman worked for the Swiss drug firm Sandoz in Basle. He injected LSD on 19th April 1943. He reported the "trip" firstly as awful, but as he "came down"- sublime. He did ride home on the back of someone's bike, because car use was restricted during WW2.  Rumour has it that "Bicycle Day"originated in 1985 in the Northern University of Illinois to commemorate Hofman's "achievement"


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new poem every day during April, so here's a double-barrelled limerick for Day 18. 

Albert Einstein died on 18th. April 1955.  Without him, some other physicist would have discovered his Theories of Relativity, and he could then have stuck to pulling faces.

It's All Relatively Schimples!

"Space-Time(*) is quite easy my friend!
And the Deutchmark(**) will drop in the end.
My theories prove
space tells mass how to move
And mass? Mass tells space how to bend!"

"What's more, I have often averred
that E equals M times C squared.
Take one spoonful of goo,
split its atoms in two -
Hey Presto! You've demolished the world!"

(*) Einstein dreamed up this strange "object"  It is four dimensional and fits neatly into the Klein Bottles I have discussed in another place.

(**) We usually say "Penny."  But she might be miffed at being included in these unruly limericks.


Apr 17, 2013


Today I came over all serious.  You'll find Day 17's poem here.


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new opus every day during April, so here's an offering for Day 16. 

Poor Luther

His ninety-five points made them squirm,
and because he would not come to terms
with the unreformed Church
that he'd left in the lurch
they fed him a Diet of Worms

On April 16th 1521, Martin Luther was cross examined by the Holy Roman Emperor on charges of fly-posting handbills on a church door in Wittenberg.  (He protested against the curious idea that you could redeem your sins by buying "indulgences".  The indulgence salesmen objected, naturally.)



The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new opus every day during April, so this is an offering for Day 15.   And for Kerry O'Connor's recent challenge from the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads

Daffodils: Takes 2.

He claimed that lonely as a cloud
he wandered o'er the vales and hills.
He rambled how he saw a crowd
of yellow dancing daffodils.
Imagine Willie, arms outstretched
cavorting through the pretty flowers, 
the silly pirouetting wretch -
then lying on his couch for hours.

Except he was not by himself!
His faithful Dot was by his side.
Some say she wrote that dreadful verse
and Willie found it on her shelf.
Whatever. Can it be denied
they never penned a poem worse?

Wordsworth's biographers suggest that his sister Dorothy accompanied William on his lakeside walk that fateful morning. (April 15th., 1802.)

Apr 16, 2013


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April, so this is an offering for Day 14

"Titanic" struck a big lump of ice.
Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln. Not nice!
 And you could all look
 at Webster's word book
 if it hasn't been eaten by mice.

Notable April 14ths.

1865.  John Wilkes Booth, an actor and a Confederate spy shot US President Abraham Lincoln during the interval of a performance of "Our American Cousin" in Ford's Theatre, Washington DC. Lincoln died the next day.

1912.  RMS "Titanic" on its maiden voyage from Southampton UK to New York, sailing under full steam in hope of claiming the Blue Riband, collided with an iceberg.  Holed below the waterline, the ship sank in the early hours of the following day to the mournful strains of Celine Dion wailing "My Heart Will Carry On."

1828.  Noah Webster took out copyright on the first edition of his enduring Dictionary.

Apr 14, 2013


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April, so this is an offering for Day 13, which teams up with Tess Kincaid's Mag 164. 

Will Love Find a Way?

"It's great overlooking the town!
 But say, dearest, why do you frown?"
 She replies, "Well, I fear
 now that we're up here
 I cannot see how we get down."

Spring, 1935 by Kuzma Petrov-Vodin 



The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April, so this is an offering for Day 12 (with apologies and acknowledgements to the late, great William Topaz McGonagall)

The Broughton Footbridge Disaster

Beautiful footbridge o'er the River Irwell
alas you did not last very well
but no lives were lost I'm happy to tell
on that terrible day in 1831
although a squad of squaddies didn't have much fun.

A troop of the 60th rifle corps
were returning on April 12th from Kersal Moor
where they had that day been exercising
and now looked forward to reclining
at home in Pendleton amd Salford
but soon were to wish there was a ford
to cross the stream rather than a bridge for feet.
The Broughton folk soon heard the beat

of one hundred and forty eight marching boots
going left-right left-right along the route -
a drumming sound that seemed to yell
"This will knock down the footbridge of Irwell!
Their rhythmic step will resonate
with the bridges girders. This really isn't so great."

And soon the folk of Broughton were proved right
and the bridge engineers turned white.
They heard a sound like a pistol or musket shot
and all of a sudden the bridge was not
any longer across the silvery river
but in it. A bolt had snapped in two! A sliver
of shattered steel had plunged the men
into the Irwell (nicknamed "Inky" d'ye ken?) (*)

But I'm happily in a position to tell
that no soldier was drowned in the foul Irwell
but some had broken arms and legs
which surely this important question begs
"If the stronger our footbridges we do build
our troops will have less chance of being killed?
And simply by telling our infantry men to 'break step!'
we could surely give our British footbridges more pep."

(*) 'Stinky' as well as 'Inky'!  I should know. I  crossed the Irwell every day on my way to school.



The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April, so this is an offering for Day 11

On April 11th 1079 Bishop Stanislaus of Krakov was executed by order of Boleslaw II of Poland.

Salad Daze

Cried Boleslaw, "I heard what you said
you horrible wee cleric ned!
My title is 'Boleslaw'
but you called me 'Coleslaw'
The penalty? Off with his head!"

Footnote.  Boleslaw II was nicknamed Boleslaw the Generous.  Hmmm! 



The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April, so this is a late offering for Day 10.

On April 10th 1710 the "Statute of Anne" came into force. This was Britain's earliest attempt to create Copyright Law to protect so-called "intellectual property" including blogs!  Disgruntled authors who suspected plagiarism or downright theft could henceforth seek redress in the Courts.

You Have Been Warned!

This is Doctor Footsie's proud boast
effective from coast to far coast.
"If you pinch my work
don't expect me to shirk
from spreading your guts on my toast."


Apr 12, 2013


This haiku was prompted from IGWRT by Margaret Bednar and Chelsea's abstract artwork.

The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April, so this is an offering for Day 9 also

Tone Poem

It's Webern-musak?
Schoenberg? Or Burt Bacharach
on Magic Mushrooms?


Apr 8, 2013

Mag 163 and ONE A DAY #8

This week's poetry prompt from the Willow Manor is Degas' "Woman with a Towel"

The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April, so this is an offering for Day 8 also

She looks like she's given up hope
of finding her lost bar of soap.
"If on it I slip
 and go arse over tip
 I really would feel such a dope."

Woman With a Towel, 1898, Edgar Dega


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April. 

It's April 7th, A.D. 451 and we'll all be murdered in our beds . . .

Man the Battlements!

This could be as bad as it getz
I'd advise you guys not to lay betz!
It won't be much fun
when Attila the Hun
lays waste to the city of Metz.

Apr 7, 2013


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April. 

On April 6th 1199, King Richard I of England met a horrible fate. 


An arrow struck Maj in the shoulder
and before he was very much older
the wound became gangrenous
and that can be dangerous -
while his shoulder turned green he turned colder.


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April. 

April 5th strikes terror into the hearts of all Tax Fearing Britons

'Ere We Go Again!

The end of another tax year!
The Assesments we all hold so dear
will hit the hall floor -
It's a terrible bore
And the late-payment fines are severe.

For readers outwith the UK . . it's true! Our tax year runs from April 6th to April 5th next year.  I blame  Henry VIII - probably.



The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April. 

On April 4th 1581 an infamous British sailor-pirate was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I,  on completing the first recorded circumnavigation of the Earth.

Arise, Sir Francis!

"We hear you've sailed all the way round.
 You'll be glad you are back on firm ground -
 Did we just hear you murmur
 'She means terra firma'
 Then off with your head, cheeky hound!"

In fact Drake died of dysentery, possibly brought on by the Queen's threat . . .



The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April. 

On April 3rd 1885 Gottlieb Daimler was granted a German patent for an internal combustion engine. He installed it in an old stagecoach - which he claimed was a present for Frau Daimler - so his competitors wouldn't know what he was up to . . . .


He called it his "Grandfather Clock"(*)
and challenged all-comers to mock.
He said to himself
"It's too tall for the shelf -
 Und ich think nichts gegegen zu wok"

(*)  You can check this out on WIKI.


The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April. 

#2.  (Hans Christian Anderson was born on April 2nd. 1825)

  Problem Solved

"Those ducklings are UGLY," said Hans.
"I think I should rethink my plans."
 He stared at the ceiling
 (Poets all know that feeling . . )
 Then he turned all his ducks into swans.



The Poem a Day Challenge invites poets to produce a new work every day during April.  A tall order! But I suspect whoever set the challenge had their tongue in their cheek.  So I call their bluff!

I'm No Fool.

For a while I felt terribly cursed.
This Challenge was really the wursed.
A poem a day
Till the month turns to May?
Ah!  Got it!  It's April the Fursed.


Apr 6, 2013


Peggy Goetz from IGWRT asks us this week to write on the subject "Going Outside"

Klein, a maths man, made a bottle
Made it with the outside inside
Made it with the inside outside
Made it with just one side only.
Folk said, "Klein, that's pure baloney.
Bottles all have two sides. Outside
where the milk is not. The inside
keeps the milk from off the table
Klein said "But my bottle's able
to keep milk in both "in" and "out" sides
'cos my bottle's got just one side"  (*)
Strictly it's a 4-D bottle,
weird enough to make you throttle
Doctor Footsie!  "Just get a grip!
His bottle's a 4-D Mobius Strip!"

(*) See picture.  Skilled knitters can knit 'Klein Bottle' hats, which can be worn inside or outside, but not inside out, this being a condition that makes no sense to Klein Bottle fanatics.


G-Man looks for 55 word fictional taxi-rides this week

She ran, quaking in terror. A cruising taxi! "Thank God!" she whimpered, flagging it. She scrambled into the back seat. "Anywhere!' she cried. "Just get me away!  That man following me - he had no features!  No eyes, nose, mouth!  His face was perfectly smooth!  Like an egg!"
The driver turned to her.  "You mean . .  like mine!"


Apr 1, 2013


Tess offers this complex allegorical picture for our Mag prompt this week.

Between Heaven and Hell, 1989 by Jacek Yerka 

"Do we have to have our wedding photograph on the kitchen wall?"


Mar 22, 2013

Blow, Blow, Suck Suck Blow!

G-Man's picture of a flop-eared bunny sparked a memory of this FFF55 groan joke.

A wee brown mouse went into a musical instrument store and asked for a mouse organ.  The assistant did a double-take and said to the mouse, "But you were in here yesterday, buying a mouse organ."  The mouse did a double-take, then she said  "What?  Oh, that wasn't me!  That was our Monica."


Mar 19, 2013

Don't Blame Me . . .

. . . for this joke.  My son-in-law told it to me.

"I HATE Russian babushka dolls . . . "

" . . . they're always so full of themselves!"


And here's another -

Wife:  "Why are you staring so hard at that carton of orange juice?"

Husband:  "It says 'Concentrate' "


Mar 15, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

Timeless.  The essence of Soul.  The accompaniment is worth a careful listen-to, too.


Mar 10, 2013

"The Tide is Full, the Moon Lies Fair."

This week's Mag prompt from Tess Kincaid is a seascape - "Meal Beach" in the Burra Isles, Shetland, Scotland by Robin Gosnall.

"Ah, there you are, Simpleforth.  Scanning the sea with the School's one and only telescope while your more energetic classmates run back and forth along the sand. You look as if you're looking for something?"
"Just keeping a lookout, sir."
"A look out. For what, exactly?"
"The boat, sir. There was a storm last night.  When they went to sea."
"Went to sea?" (Sotto voce) "I know Simpleforth of old. All the school staff do. Best not to humour him." (Aloud) "Should you not be training for cross-country with your class mates? Running in the dunes?"
"It was a pretty small boat.  Imagine, sir, a little rowing boat confronting mountainous seas while the storm rages and howls around their unhappy heads." (His telescope sweeps the horizon)  "Maybe we should call out the Coastguard?"
"Now just a minute, Simpleforth.  You seem to be suggesting that some of your classmates put out to sea last night - in a rowing boat - in a storm . . . "
"No sir. That was afterwards.  The storm blew up after they set out. There were two of them. Green."
"Green? Green is Wellington House. You are Marlborough House. You're yellow."
"No, sir. The boat was green. At first they could look up and see the stars above, but then the storm closed in." (He is still using the telescope.)  "No sign of anything."
"Simpleforth!  I get the distinct feeling that you are pulling my leg. It would not be the first time . . "
"The thunder would overpower the music. The swell would swamp the boat." (He lowers the telescope.)  "They had little to eat. But plenty of money."
"Now I'm sure you're rambling, Simpleforth. You're leading me somewhere I don't want to go. You're good at it.  All your teachers have had a taste of it . . . "
"A small guitar wouldn't be much use for baling the boat as the waves crashed over the gunnels despite the sturdy little bow butting through the swell and the oars whirling like the blades on a Mississippi sternwheeler.  We can only hope they died bravely. Bedraggled - nay, saturated. But unbowed!"
"Enough, Simpleforth. Either get back to school or join your classmates in their training. You stand there wasting your time and mine with the school's telescope. Do you think you're Admiral Lord Nelson because just like him, you see no ships . .  "
"Sir, sir!  (He adjusts the focus of the telescope.) "No sir! There they are!  They've made it!  They're both safe!  I can see them. Hurrah!"
"I know I'm going to regret this, Simpleforth." (Sotto voce) "I should walk away!  But I can never resist." (Aloud)  "Alright, Simpleforth. What, or should I say who can you see."
"The Owl, sir. And the Pussy Cat. So she's down to eight lives now."
"Is there no cliff nearby that I can jump off!"


Feb 26, 2013

"Gerrem Off!"

Tess Kincaid prompts us yet again with Salvador Dali's take on Venus de Milo.

Venus de Milo with Drawers, 1936, Salvador Dali 

It would be good to say this Mag was all my own work.  The limerick - for which I apologise - is.  The artwork, both the inspiration and the execution, is by another blogger, to whom we rise our hats, well known to all Mag entrants, whose work this week is featured here.

Feb 18, 2013

We Need Backup!

Tess Kincaid, based in Operational HQ at Willow Manor has sent Smiddy and Boss (*) to investigate suspicious activity in an isolated house.

Wind of History by Jacek Yerka

"Reckon he's holed up in there, Boss?"
"Reckon that's why we're bogged down here for the night, Smiddy."
"There's a light on."
"You sound like you been to Observation Classes, Smiddy. Gotta diploma in spottin' lights left on, is it?"
"You know what the song says?"
"Song? What song? What's a dumb song got to do with a stake-out?"
Smiddy sings.  "Tonight, tonight put a light in the window. To prove that you love me, let it shine, shine, shine . . . !"
"You shoulda been in vaudeville. Voice like that you'd be a first class ventriloquist's dummy."
"Tonight, tonight put . .  "
"Smiddy, if he's in there you don't wanna announce our arrival with that caterwaulin'"
" . .  a light in the window. Tonight's the night . . . "
"Enough, Smiddy!"
" . . . I'm gonna make you mine!   'The Four Lads' cut the single, Boss.  My Daddy used to sing it to my Mom all the time.  Reckon she was the light in his window."
"Smiddy! Listen a minute. We're on police work here. I'm real glad your Daddy and your Mom lit up the room most nights, but here we're detailed to stake-out this beat-up subdivision and the City don't pay you for crooning. And you forgot to bring any burgers. With onions. And mustard."  (A look comes over Boss's face and his eyes roll.)
"Hey! Boss! Look!"
"Wha . .  Onions and mustard Where? Oh, Man! What? What is it?"
"The light's gone out."
"You'll not be singin' that 'Tonight, tonight' stuff again then? No encores?"
"Maybe he went to the bathroom?"
"You switch the overhead light out every time you go to the bathroom?"
"Think we should . .  ?"
"Yeah! I think we should."
They open the patrol car doors and step out, hefting their firearms.
"You go right, Smiddy. I'll go left."
"No! I said left.  Oh, never mind."
Using the hollows in the ground as cover, they approach the house. They station themselves on the stoop, one each side of the door.  Both chamber a round. Boss hammers on the door with his gun-butt.
"Police!  Come out with your hands up!'
They hear footsteps in the hall. Door chains and bolts rattle.
"No funny stuff, pal. One false move and you're burger meat. And no mustard."
The door opens. A little old lady is in the doorway.
"Face down on the floor, Ma'am. Hands behind your head . . . "
The old lady speaks.  "Oh Goody! Policemen! Do either of you lovely officers happen to have a spare lamp bulb? 'Bout a hundred watts?"

(*) Their earlier efforts on behalf of the NY(or similar)PD can be seen here