Nov 10, 2014

Stars and CRIPES!!

For inspiration this week Tess gives us a picture to get all Red Blooded Americans hot under their collars.  (No! Sorry! That's wrong.  I mean RedNECKED etc . . .  )

The lady in this Sunday's Mag 
is wrapped in a Glorious Old flag.
Does she not know that she
contravenes Flag Code (4-D)(*)
the unpatriotic wee slag?

(*)  Read all about it here.

Sep 21, 2014


Tess in no way dampens our enthusiasm with this picture for Mag 238

I once had a friend whose young daughter
was sadly allergic to water.
She had no bathing suits -
but a stout pair of boots
which, when she went wading caused laughter. (*)

(*) It rhymes with 'daughter' and 'water.'  Yes it does!  Whaddya mean "No it doesn't"?  Huh!  Well . .  it looks like it does.  And if it doesn't it oughta.   HaHaHa!

Sep 16, 2014


It's not often I post twice in one day, but conversation with a NO neighbour reminded me of the following story which nicely illustrates the chip on the Yesser's shoulders. It also illustrates, I think, the level of historical knowledge, political nous and diplomatic sophistication which the Yessers will take to the polling booths with them. My neighbour said "It's simple. They don't like the English. They imagine they live as latter day slaves under an English yoke. They'll vote Yes so that Andy Murray can say he plays Olympic tennis for Scoatland, not for team GB."

A Scottish gentleman who had drink taken (*) in the Curlers' Rest, Byres Road, Glasgow's West End heard an English voice nearby.  He sought out the offender and gave him a Glasgow Kiss.  This is a manoeuvre whereby you seize your opponent by his lapels, jerk him towards you and at the same time whack the bridge of his nose with your forehead.  The Englishman fell to the floor, scrambled to a sitting position and asked -

"C'mon, mate! What's that for?"
"That's fer Culloden, ya wee Sassenach shite."
"But . .  but . . hang on. Culloden was more than 250 years ago."
"That's as maybe.  But I only found out about it yesterday."

In passing, notice that our Scottish hero doesn't even know who the Sassenachs are/were.

Sassenach is derived from the Scottish Gaelic word 'sasunnach', literally 'Saxon' and was originally used by Gaelic speakers to refer to non-Gaelic speaking Scottish Lowlanders.

How the word came to be used as a vague insult to the English is not recorded.

(*) "The accused had drink taken" is a statement made many, many times in the Glasgow Sheriff Court by prosecuting counsel.


The day after tomorrow (as I write) Scotland votes to detach itself from the United Kingdom. 


The Union as we know it today came about in a two-stage process. 

1.  Scotland's crown was united with England's on the accession of James VIth of Scotland to the throne of Scotland in 1603. He subsequently became James VIth and 1st (of England). You can read about the family relationships that led to James getting two crowns for the price of one - sort of Inherit One, Get One Free - by Googling "Union of the Crowns."  So here's the first question that the overwhelming majority of YES voters won't know the answer to and won't even have thought about. After Independence, will the Crowns be deunited?  Will the Auld Dear in Buckingham Palace still be Queen of Scotland?  She'll still be Queen of What Remains of the United Kingdom, sure.  But will Scotland become an independent monarchy under Queen Nicola 1st or King Alex 1st? Or will Scotland find a legitimate descendant of James/Mary/Macbeth etc.  Alternatively, will the Land o' the Purrrrrple Heather become a republic with Alex as President and Nicola as Prime Minister or vice-versa?  And therein lies the YES voters' problem - see later.

2. Union of the Parliaments -  was brought about by two Acts. The Union with Scotland Act was passed by the English Parliament in 1706 and the Union with England Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 1707. Google "Union of the Parliaments" for details. But do note that Scotland was arm-twisted into the Union because the canny Scots had bankrupted themselves in the Darien Scheme (Google it) and needed a bail-out.  How many Saltire-waving Yessers know that?  We must hope that history doesn't repeat itself. We may wonder why RBS and Standard Life plan to move their HQ's, their legal domicile and their taxation obligations to England.  How many Yessers understand the significance of "legal domicile" as opposed to "country of residence" or "nationality"  Oh boy, Yessers. You are in for some surprises.
 Once Scotland gains independence there will be no need - indeed, there will be no point - in the Scots voting SNP in the Scottish Parliamentary elections.  An independent Scotland will be dictated to by Alex and Nicola only until the first Scottish General Election.  Thereafter, the Scots will be dictated to by a permanent - I repeat - a PERMANENT - labour government. Just look at the present distribution of seats in Westminster.  Alex and Nicola can avoid this by a  fiat which declares that the term of the first independent Scottish Parliament will be one thousand years, c.f The Third Reich. But if they do the decent thing and call a General Election straightaway, they will be buried in the landslide to Labour.  Nice try, Alex.  Nice try, Nicola.  The upside to this is that an independent Scotland will give the UK or what remains of it, an equally permanent Tory majority.  Be grateful for small mercies.

Here are a few more questions that the Yessers ought to know the answers to, but probably don't.

Will an independent Scotland automatically qualify for membership of the United Nations? And if it does, will it have a seat on the Security Council?  

Ditto NATO? 

Ditto the EU? 

Will the pound be its currency? On the international money markets the "pound" is actually the GBP (Great Britain Pound) So what will the money markets make of an independent Scotland's claim on the currency of the rump of the UK?

Finally - who will defend the realm of Scotland in the event of a foreign invasion? Unlikely at the moment but surely the question must be asked and although I haven't heard/read everything about the issues involved I haven't heard Alex or Nicola talk about this one.  And neither have the Yessers who no doubt expect the BRITSH army, the ROYAL navy and the ROYAL airforce will come to their assistance when the Vikings return to annexe Tarbet. Remember - if Scotland is not a member of NATO, NATO has no obligation to defend it.  The Scots could appeal to the "Auld Alliance" I suppose.  Google it.

Finally, a word about the electorate.  Looking at the referendum question from the other side it becomes "Do you want the United Kingdom to be broken up?"  The electorate is everyone over 16 who is legally resident in Scotland.  Native Scots living in England don't have the vote. Native English (like me) living in Scotland do have the vote.  Can that be right?  Should I emigrate?

I'm a NO voter - because I don't understand the issues involved (neither do most of the Yessers) and I can't begin to anticipate the consequences of Scotland gaining independence (neither can most of the Yessers, whose theme song is "Wha's like us?  Gae few and they're a' deid?") So my NO is a vote for the status quo.

But look on the bright side.  At least a Yes vote will sideline Alex pretty quick once the Saltire waving and the pipe skirrrrrling stops. Pity to lose Nicola, though.

Jul 21, 2014

Mag 229

I am half of twins.  At he age of 15 our parents decided that I was the academic half and my brother was  - how shall we say - the retail half.  This decision seemed to be arrived at because I passed 2 more subjects at GCE "O" level than he did.  He failed Latin and History. So I, summa cum laude - I  passed Latin - would go to a Uni with a long and distinguished history which my brother knew nothing about of course having failed History as I have just pointed out.  He would enter the family business, to whit, a not-quite-corner grocery shop next to a  real corner shop which was a Newsagent, Tobacconist and Sweetie store.  My brother's shop features in Google Street Views but he doesn't because he gave up  on my parents' ambition that he become a grocer (see below). The shop is now a curtain dry-cleaning business.

So . .  for phase 1 of my academic advancement I entered the Sixth Form, to learn Maths, Chemistry and Physics while he entered the shop and learned to ride a delivery-boy's bike with a big frame on the front in which the customers' orders were stowed for delivery next day, rather like Amazon Prime.  I developed a powerful brain - (some say, others tell the truth) - while he developed powerful leggies which have stood him in good stead because today at the age of You'd Never Guess he still zooms around on a thoroughbred racing bike dressed like he just escaped from Le Tour de France.  At the age of X, and long retired from business, he took his bike to Tenerife on his Xth birthday and rode X miles round the island in a T-shirt printed "X years, X miles" in English on the front and in Spanish on the back.   He vows he'll do it again if he survives to (X+10) but the ride will be kilometres, not miles. Where was I?  Ah yes - the Sixth Form.

I wore my school blazer and grey flannels; he wore his grocer's long white apron and white jacket. I learned to differentiate trigonometric functions and mastered the theory of the compound pendulum. He learned to stack cans of sliced peaches and mastered repairing the bacon slicer.  I got to know girls from the Girls School next door.  He got to know stay-home housewives to whom he delivered grocery orders in the afternoons. We never discussed which was the more rewarding. At 18 I got a University scholarship; he got a small van which made delivering the orders easier as well as freeing up time in the afternoons.

In the fullness of time I took my Finals. I came home from the last exam to find my brother in the shop. I said "Well, that's me finished."  He looked at me - rather sadly I thought - and leaned his elbows on the counter and said "Me too! Born a man. Died a grocer."  And I knew the end was near, one way or another.

Soon after graduating I crossed the Pennines to start my first job as a fully qualified Materials Scientist, while he persuaded our parents to sell the shop - before Tesco (etc) overwhelmed the High Street.  He then flowered late, so to speak. He took 'A' levels at the local tech, secured a place at London University to read Physiology and Pharmacology, thereafter submitting a doctorate thesis to end up with a Ph.D. degree, thus academically outdistancing the academic half.  By which time I had been appointed to a Lectureship in Engineering in one of our ancient universities and he soon got a similar post in the Biology Department of a newer University. He couldn't find employment in an ancient University of course, because he failed 'O' level history, hahaha!  So we ended up more or less on the equal footing that we started life on.

Now he regales me on the functions of the liver, the Islets of Langerhans (in yer pancreas, not the Canaries) and tells me to always remember that "Drugs are useful poisons", while I tell him about the useful roles played by nickel, chromium and vanadium in the steel used to make bike parts and remind him not to fall off his.

He failed as a grocer but succeeded summa cum laude as a  twin, and I can only hope I did too.

Jul 14, 2014

Mag 228

Tess Kincaid's prompt inspired if that's the right word this week's limerick.

I knew a strange fellow called Letts
who kept some unusual petts.
A leopard called Gopher
soon shredded his sofa
But 'tws Fred Bear wore out his carpetts.

(Alright!  I know the last line has a misplaced strong accent but you can't have everything . . )


Jun 24, 2014

Mag 225

Tess's prompt this week involves a lady in repose on the greensward.   Egged on by Another Blogger, I'm reading "Fanny Hill"(*) - an eighteen century penny-dreadful about a country lass caught up in the Oldest Profession in the World . . . here she is, recuperating.

Sweet Summer, 1912, John William Waterhouse 

There was a young lady called Fanny
whose clients were Clarence and Danny,
Bert, Harry and Bill,
Jack, Arnold and Phil.
Her staying power - truly uncanny.

(*) Don't bother!  Just don't.  (But you can download it for £0.77p from A'zon to your Kindle, HaHa!)

Jun 16, 2014

Mag 224

This unsettling picture by René Magritte is Tess's inspiring prompt for the week

On Reflection . . .

"Mirror, Mirror on the wall
 Am I the fairest of them all?"

"Zits? Red nose, cross-eyes and brace?
 Who'd want to see your gruesome face?"

Not To Be Reproduced, 1937, Rene Magritte 


Jun 1, 2014

Tess leaves another intriguing prompt for Mag 222.

Reader . . . try to imagine yourself reading this post without moving your lips or teeth - otherwise the young lady might swallow the capsule and then . . who knows.

"Now risten, you horriga riddle salesrady. I have done many gad things in my useress, wasted rife. Gut guying this shade of ripstick was the rast  straw.  So give me my money gack . . . or I'rr CHOMP!  Then you'rr be sorry!"


Apr 29, 2014

Mag 217

A picture from Tess of a disconsolate black labrador should get all born writers salivating . . .

It's A Dog's Life . . .

"You wonder why I have this hang-dog look? Why I never go 'Woof Heh Heh Heh' and whizz around in circles any more? Well I'll tell you.  These days he only stops tapping away at his wretched Apple Mac to take his bloody mobile phone for walkies. And I'll tell you something else. If he did take me out and throw it and say 'Fetch' - I wouldn't. I would not.  I'd drop it in a puddle.  Or give it a good chewing. Bloody phone addicts . . . so busy down loading apps and ringtones or whatever they don't notice they're stepping in poo. Serve them right.  Grrrr!"

More responses to this week's prompt HERE.

(See the comments on Tess's Mag blog - link as above - for source of the picture.)

Apr 13, 2014

Mag 215

Week by week without fail Tess Kincaid gives us a picture prompt to fire our Muse.  


Goodbye,  Claude Balls

There once was a fellow called Strong
whose legs grew impressively long.
He liked them like that.
They ensured that his cat
could not climb them and do dreadful wrong.

The King of Cats, 1935, Balthus 

Worthier responses can be found here.


Mar 24, 2014

. . But I know What I Like.

Tess's Mag prompt this week chimes with Mag 210 from a fortnight ago.

       Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit                       My Bed by Tracey Emin 
          by  Bonnie Beechler,  

"Ahh!  There you are, Simpleforth.  And what have we here?  Two pictures. And one Simpleforth wearing his analyst's expression . . "
"And what exactly is bothering you about these pictures?  One is, I think, a photograph, the other . . "
" . . . is also a photograph, Sir, of a artwork by Tracey Emin, titled "My Bed."
"Well, rather hers than mine, young man.  Typical teenagers bedroom, I'd say."
"She isn't a teenager, Sir, she's an Artist."
"Whatever.  Why have you juxtaposed the photographs?  What are they telling you?  How do they speak to you? What is their message?  No doubt there's a Simpleforth analysis-in-waiting, if I wait a minute?"
"Well, sir.  Consider the bed, and the assorted bric-a-brac around it."
"Sir, if you or I left a collection like that in a public place we'd be arrested and charged with fly-tipping. And, Sir, if we left it in an enclosed public place, such as an Art Gallery, Exhibition Hall, ladies toilet etcetera, it would also be classed a fire-risk and the Salvage would haul it away in very short order."
"We could protest that it is art, not fire prone fly-tipping, I suppose."
"But we aren't Great Artists, Sir. Once you've been styled a Great Artist you can get away with dumping rubbish in a public place . .  ooops. I mean, exhibiting your unmade bed, sweetie wrappers, beer bottles and so on.  Great Artists and their critics, acolytes and sycophants employ expensive libel lawyers to make sure people like us don't dump verbal crap on their artisitic cr  . . erm . . creations."
"Then we'd better get off the bed before we offend Ms. Emin's sensibilities.  And don't forget, Simpleforth, her bed could . . I'm not saying is . .  but could . . be more artistic that your bed. Or mine. Consider, for example, the way the rumpled duvet and the discarded nightwear and the beer bottle . . suggest a night of . .  of . . "
"Steady on, Sir. Take a few deep breaths.  Now . . . let's see if we can draw any parallels between Emin's Bed and the trashed room in the other picture.'
"No parallels, surely?"
"As I see it, Sir, there's a fairly close parallel.  Consider.  If you or I left a house in that state we be charged with causing criminal damage.  But if, say . . a drug-fuelled rock drummer did that to a hotel suite, as Doctor FTSE suggested recently, the drummer and his bass guitarist and his roadies and his recording company and his millions of brain-dead fans would describe it as Performance Art and nominate him for a Grammy or a BAFTA or something.  That's the parallel, sir."
"What is it now, Simpleforth."
"I was just thinking, sir. An insurance loss adjuster would say the wrecked room was down to fair wear and tear and, sorry mate, but replacing old with new is out of the question . . although Ms. Emin might make artistic use of the wreckage . . "
"And Emin's Mum would say, 'Tracey!  How many times have I told you!  Clear up that mess at once. I don't know why I let you get away with it.' "
(A longer pause, then . . )
"Brilliant, Sir! You've put your finger on the nub of the argument."
"That's it , Sir.  That's what Art is  -"
"It's Whatever You Can Get Away With."


Mar 9, 2014

Well and Truly Trashed

A drug crazed rock drummer called Pete
once rented a posh hotel suite,
but he chose to ignore
a sign on the door -
"Please leave the room neat and tidy"

Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit, photo by Bonnie Beechler 

Fellow Bloggers are invited to improve the last line.   I gave up after a long struggle.

And once again, best thanks to Tess for the pitch-perfect picture.


Feb 23, 2014

The Agonies of Creation.

Tess gives us this evocative picture  "The Poet's Sleep" for the prompt for this week's Mag 208.

Poet's Sleep, 1989, by Chang Houg Ahn 

"I walked about lonely as a gladiola . . . "
Naw, naw.
"I wondered, solitary as a floating cloud . . . "
Aw Gawd . . .
"I skirted the lake, hiked o'er the hills . . ."
Why didn't I stick to burger-flipping?
"I saw large groups of . . whassnames, those yellow ones. Petunias?"

(A door opens.)

"William? Are you in there?  I thought maybe you were lying on your couch in vacant or in pensive mood and something flashed upon your inward eye which is the bliss of solitude, and then your heart with pleasure filled, went dancing with the . . ." 

"DAFFODILS?  DAFFODILS!! That's it, Dorothy! Thank'ee, thank'ee! Just when I was on the point of saying 'Oh, stuff this honing my craft for a game of soldiers.' "


Feb 16, 2014

Mag 207

Downhill Racer

The end of life is sometimes very sad,
and so it was for Simpleforth's Granddad.
Was it a reckless dare or silly jape
to ride his push-bike down a fire-escape?
The neighbours heard the crash. Years on they talk
of Granddad splattered on the sidey-walk. (*)

(*)  If any blogger can improve the scansion in the last line I would be very grateful. "Sidewalk" is not an iamb, and nor for that matter is the English "pavement."

Feb 10, 2014

It'll Never Work . .

Tess provides this photo for Mag 206 to stimulate our literary urges

"What are you screwing up your mouth like that for, dearest?"
 (Her answer is quasi-unintelligible by reason of her oscular contortions.  Dr. FTSE translates . . )
"You think I'm inviting you to give me a kiss?"
 (see above)
"Heaven forfend, dearest!  I'm aware kissing went out the window years ago."
"You've got that message, then?"
"Yeah . . so?  Let me guess. You're expecting someone - soon as I'm safely on my way? The milkman? The window cleaner?"
"How dare you make imputations as to my fidelity! Get off to the office."
(Makes disappointed man noises, then  . . )
"Well at least can I get my hat back?"
"There's plenty of mine in the closet."
(Footsteps.  Door slams. Outside a car starts. Vrrooms off.)
Now dearest stands up. She takes off her husband's hat.  She faces the picture window.  She backs to the wall  opposite the window.  She drops into a sprinter's starting crouch.  Her 'On Your Marks. Set. Go!'  sounds like
"Mmmom wer marrs. Wet. Wo."  (because she wants to preserve the disposition of her lips.)
(She sprints across the room, launches herself at the window meeting it full face with her feet off the floor. There's a soft "Splat".  She does not stick as she had hoped but slithers down leaving a trail of crimson lipstick.)
"Sod it!  Liposuction fails again. Must try harder tomorrow. Maybe I need even more pucker."

(Well  . .  you've always known this is a Very Silly Blog.)