Moreidlethoughts Weblog

humour,art,gardens, books and whatever idle thoughts float through my mind (it's a very draughty mind.)


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WELCOME TO MY DUSTBOWL.SORRY, NO POPCORN.

I still haven’t found that thing I was looking for, but I did unearth some “stuff” I hadn’t seen for years!

“Taking The Piss” is one of my more recent acquisitions. The page inside the cover where there is usually a warning in impossibly small font against plagiarism, unauthorised copying, et cetera is missing. That’s my excuse!

on the nose

The author(Genevieve LaRue) of this slim volume claims to be a de-frocked nun…who am I to take issue?

A book of “Booze” that I see, from the inscription, was a Christmas present in 1969.

booze book 1

I love the illustrations (by John Astrop and Eric Hill, according to a very badly stained flyleaf. )

Booze book

Here’s one of its recipes…

rustty nail

And a tattered and worn anthology that’s been twice around the world with me and has scars to prove it.

faithful companion

Puns and parodies and irreverence. Bit like moi.

In my eclectic hoard, back in the 60s, I counted several interesting books. So, apparently, did some tea leaf whose conscience  clearly wasn’t a burden. If someone ever offers to sell you a first edition of John Lennon…it just may be mine.

I collected 3 kinds of books in those days: serious literature (early edition “Doctor Zhivago” before Omar Sharif’s face graced covers, Tolstoy short stories, Guy de Maupassant and more, art books, particularly early engravings and Japanese prints) and what I call the “funnies.”

These were light-hearted verse, graphics.  Things like “Sam, the Ceiling Needs Painting.” These cartoons are still around, but probably censored on Amazon.

And I had a copy of  this ! So I was delighted to find it on Youtube.

Which is lucky, ‘cos the weather is anything but a delight. Even ‘way up here, the dust is thick ; I need to keep my inhaler handy and firefighters’ water bombers have been grounded. A bit scary when there are bushfires raging.

Of course, on the bright side, I’m saving electricity as Hoovering is just pointless 😉

Here’s a web picture from Nine News of one of the bridges across the Brisbane River, in Brisbane.

Qld dust storm grounds firies' choppers

Seems there IS life on Mars!

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DUSTING OFF AN OLDIE

Do you ever get fed up with those seemingly endless reprises (as if that word is somehow better than repeats!) of television shows? Do you want to throttle the station managers? Scream at the programmers to give us something new? Or at least something WE want to see, not what some ratings-driven minion says is market-requested? Maybe air something new and give new writers some exposure.

I know I did. Often! Especially when I was one of those writers.

It’s been a long time since I paddled in the murky waters of script-writing and Hell will probably be a frosty place before I do so again. I still write the occasional article, but, on the whole, I’m happy enough with my other interests. All the same, I would like programmers to stop foisting the same old bimbo crap twaddle on us.

I’m not saying I want classic shows for 52 weeks of the year, but a small helping of some of my old favourites would be lovely. Oh! Could this please be arranged while the sports nuts are glued to the Beijing shenanigans!

Bring back “The Likely Lads.”

And “Northern Exposure.”

And what about a re-run of the very clever “Seeing Things”?

A Canadian flash of brilliance in the dark days.

And now that I’ve primed you lovely readers (ooh, yeah! I know how to lick boots!) here’s something that has been aired before, but never blogged.*

FIRE !

Jessie stood on the middle rail of the fence and waved, with both arms, to the engine driver. You had to be on the fence, ready, when the train passed as the track curved then, to go through the cutting, and the driver wouldn’t see you.

She started to count the wagons, but only got to fifteen when she saw it. A wisp of smoke!

Her sandals slapped on the path as she sped back to the house. In her hurry she ran too close to the holly bush, but hardly noticed the scratches.

“Fire in the cutting!” Tea cups rattled onto saucers, chairs scraped as the grown-ups rushed outside.

By now the wisp of smoke was a thick, white plume as the flames licked across the summer grass. If the fire got across the fence line it would reach the houses.

Jessie’s grandmother dragged the heavy cover from the well and lowered the first bucket. Uncle Vin and Tom, nearly sixteen, grabbed old potato sacks from the wash house. Granny soaked the sacks with the first bucket of water and the men ran down to the fence, jumped over and headed across the paddock, beating at the sparky grass.

Granny hooked a chain onto another bucket and lowered that, too, into the well. Jessie’s mother, dragging more sacks from the shed, called to Jessie to take her little brother next door to old Lucy Marples and to stay there. Lucy, who was minding her baby grandson, took Sam inside, then led Jessie to the old rain water tank at the botom of her garden. “Not much in this, but we’ll get a hose out for the men.”

Together, they dragged enough hose to reach from the tank to the fence. Lucy showed Jessie where one paling was loose and they prised it open and pushed the hose through. Tom, running back for more sacks, saw what they were doing and yelled: “Thanks!” They could hear the fire now and could see the angry, red line. Dry bracken and seed heads cracked and spat more sparks ahead of the flames.

“Better come away, girl.” Lucy took Jessie’s hand. More people were in the paddock now, all beating at the grass. Jessie could see ever-so-posh Dulcie Harrison, her long skirt tucked into her knickers, thrashing away at a gorse bush.

They reached the house just as Tata, Lucy’s son, arrived. “Sparks from the engine…” But Tata was already racing down to the fence.

Jessie and Sam stood on Lucy’s back porch and watched, frightened, but fascinated. It seemed like hours and still the greedy flames advanced, new patches catching and flaring up.

The thwap! thwap! of sacks. The crackle of sparks and flames. And the choking sounds when someone breathed in too much smoke.

And then, just like a tap being turned off, the wind dropped. Dead calm.

And the flames, like a bully outnumbered, made one last, defiant flash and subsided in a smouldering sulk.


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I’m surrounded by frames and off-cuts of foamcore and non-Sporran paper scraps. I’ll probably need to use some of the frames for the coming exhibition. But the rest need to be put away. I am also surrounded by the not-yet-put-away laundry from yesterday. (Some of which probably should be ironed!) OH! It’s hard to get good help.

I was talking to a friend who couldn’t understand why a mere head cold had laid her out for a couple of days. I said it’s probably because she thinks she’s still 20 and can just work it off.

With all the other things on my plate, I was rather proud of myself for declining when asked to take part in a haiku exchange. A sort of round robin in verse. But the sensible neurons kicked in and said:”Don’t be daft! You’re overstretched already!”

Whoever said that with age comes wisdom just might have something there. Mind you, wisdom sometimes drags its feet!

And these feet are headed towards the sleeping chamber…

I’ll leave you with a haiku that didn’t make the exchange:

bamboo bending low

looks into the melted snow

and sees the moon’s face

*The copyright remains with me so if you’d like to use it, please ask.


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PARTY ANIMAL

Branko loved people. He never had a cross bark for anyone. Yes, people and parties were the staples of his life.

He loved “day trips” too. In fact, he loved trips to town so much, he’d trot down to the ferry terminal and hang around til a ferry was sailing city-side. Up the gangway, stepping smartly, waving his plume, he’d give the ticket man a friendly “woof!” and go straight to the seats on the fore-deck. Unless the weather was miserable; then he’d settle down with the other don’t-like-the-rain passengers.

When the ferry docked, what did he do? Why, he trotted straight up to the harbour-master’s office and sat, very politely, waiting for the duty officer to give him the treat of the day.Then someone would put him on a return sailing and telephone his owner’s place of work.

Of course, this only happened if he could sneak out of his yard. Normally, the gates were closed, but sometimes a visitor or meter reader might forget to latch the gates.

So it was that, one day, someone failed to close the side gate and Branko, looking for company, wandered up the street.

All the kids were in school and no one seemed to be about. He turned towards the harbour and suddenly, he saw people. Lots of people! And they were not rushing around, too busy for a doggy chat. So he fell into step with the people and walked along with them. All the way to the church. And on into the church. More people came! And then there was music. Music! People! It must be a party!

When the mighty organ roared forth, so did Branko, howling like one possessed.The priest despatched an usher to remove the dog. But Branko was not about to leave a party. No sir! He stiffened every muscle and refused to budge, all the while adding his own bass notes to the funeral hymn. Chaos threatened.

But as the grieving widow turned to look from the front pew, Branko stopped “singing.” He walked along the aisle and sat quietly at the front until the service ended.

In his book, this party was not over yet! When the casket was loaded into the hearse and the mourners began to walk silently behind, Branko tagged along, tail waving proudly.

Like a mascot, summoned for the task, he trotted among the mourners, licking a hand, rubbing against a leg, giving a short, soft “woof!” occasionally.

And then he headed home.

There is a footnote to this. The widow made enquiries about “that dog” and was eventually put in touch with Branko’s breeder. I heard that she named her dog after Branko’s owner.

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THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

A small amusement to complement the mince pies.
Best read in an upper-crust English accent!


* THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS *
~ΩΩΩΩΩ~
My dearest Rodders…what an original choice…a partridge in a pear tree! How absolutely nouveau! I have set the tree in a half wine barrel (the one you emptied last Christmas!) and I must say, the little partridge looks quite at home there. Funny, really, I always thought they lived on the moors, or somewhere. Like grouse. Oh, well…
Thank you, my love.
Your very own Angela.Nigel, darling! How sweet of you to send me these adorable doves. I adore them. And I adore you, you dear boy, to think of such an unusual gift.
All my love…Angie.Dear Rupert. Thank you for your gift of three French hens. Baxter is making them a cage as they are rather aggressive towards my turtle doves. And they do tend to scratch around the African violets. But thank you, anyway.
Yours…Angela.

Dear Jonathon, your novel gift has just been delivered. Fortunately, Baxter has not put away his Black and Decker things, so he can enlarge the hens’ cage. I’m not really sure what calling birds ( colley birds?) do. But it’s very sweet of you to send them.
Fondly…A.

Bertie! You sweetheart! I love you to distraction! And even more for sending rings, not birds! Honestly, Bertie, a girl can stand just so much livestock. But one can NEVER have too many gold rings! Kisses!
Your Angel.

Dear George, it was kind of you to send all these geese. Just one tiny quibble, Georgie __ geese are very protective of their eggs and poor Mrs. Baxter was most horribly pecked. She threatened to give notice, which, of course, would mean losing Baxter, too. And I simply
couldn’t do without him! All these cages and things to build… so please don’t be too cross, Georgie, if I ask the farm to take the geese.
Yours, Angela.

Dear Teddy. Good manners compel me to thank you for your gift of seven swans. But, really, Teddy, where do you suppose seven swans could swim in a Belgravia flat!!
Angela.

Dear Roger. I think you must have suffered quite a serious head bump in last week’s Llanelli match. Eight milkmaids may look rustically picturesque, but eight cows…really! I am returning them.
Angela.

Dear Simon. Fancy thinking of sending a chorus line! We are getting rather crowded here, but at least your dancing girls are not feathered. Well, their costumes are a little frou-frou, but they don’t cluck or chirp or cackle. Thank you.
As ever…Angela.

Dear Tim. So kind of you to send such a different gift. I was wondering where to put everyone, but nine of your lords have run off with Simon’s dancing girls and Elspeth’s looking for a new lover ( you did hear about Toby, I suppose?) so that problem is solved.
Yours, Angela.

Angus ___ they may be highly regarded at Balmoral, but in a small CROWDED Belgravia flat, eleven pipers are too much! And too many! They will be on the 8.15 from Euston.
Crossly, Angela.

Dear Charles, I am returning your unasked-for and unwanted gift of twelve drummers. Kindly pay the taxi driver when they arrive.
Angela Smyth-Ffortesque.

€€€€€€€


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A LITTLE POST-PRANDIAL DIVERSION

WHAT’S IN A NAME ?
D.J.Patmore ©

 



I suppose they were no better or no worse than any other family. Taken individually. In small doses. It was when they were all together at family events, like weddings and funerals and Christmases that my family’s little eccentricities wove themselves into a tapestry of Bayeux proportions.

Take Cousin Myron, for instance. “Bloody Nancy-boy!” Uncle Jeffrey growled into his moustache every time he saw Myron pliee-ing about, posturing theatrically.

Myron was not his given name. His parents, known for their “domestic disharmony,” had apparently begun their warring before he was born, arguing over names. Aunt Ellen favoured Stephen( with p h, not v ) after her wealthy grandfather. But Uncle Graham, from a long line of Rugby players, entered “Jeffrey” on the birth certificate. Uncle Jeffrey was, that year, captain of the local team.

Poor Myron grew up being called Jeffrey by his father and that side of the family, while his mother and her side called him Stephen. He came home from school one Christmas and announced that, henceforth, he wished to be known as Myron. He also said that he was dropping sports next term and taking speech and drama and dance. Uncle Jeffrey’s eyes bulged, he slopped his scotch down his Counties tie and a dangerous flush spread over his face. Uncle Graham’s face was totally blank, but Aunt Ellen was positively delighted.

And then the entire Christmas party erupted in a family row. Insults were hurled and taunts flung. “I always said there was something weird about your family!” “Well,at least we’re not like you thugs!” “Ruddy hooligans!” “Sissies!” The Royal Broadcast was unheeded, a fact which further fuelled the argument when the “loyalists” realised they’d missed it!

Dorothy, who normally never drank more than one small sherry(“it isn’t ladylike to get tipsy.”) was double-you-ising her r’s in a tipsy toast to “dear, bwave Jeffwy. Just like Wudolf. Auntie Dowothy’s pwoud of you.”

Several sherries had confused her – she was toasting Uncle Jeffrey!

Unheeded by the squabbling grown-ups, the smaller children had slipped out to the kitchen and were stuffing themselves with pudding and sweets and cordial. The twins, who did everything together, were both sick in the coal scuttle. Daniel-the-Spaniel was found next day cowering in the neighbour’s wood shed, his ears glued back with bubble gum.

I will say for Myron, he took it all with great aplomb.


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TALKING TURKEY

CHRISTMAS TURKEY

 

Christmas at our house meant turkey. A big turkey, with all the trimmings: sage and onion and chestnut stuffing, bread sauce, giblet gravy, chipolatas, roast potatoes and parsnips, cranberry sauce, peas and Brussels sprouts.

And one o’clock in the afternoon was the time to eat it.

Mother would be up with the larks to get it ready for the oven. And throughout the morning the children would traipse in and out of the kitchen asking if they could have a drumstick, and could they lick this bowl, and were we going to have ice cream and jelly as well as pudding, and how many threepences did she put in? And why was the kitchen so hot, Aunty Em?

Around eleven those who had been to church began arriving. And those who had been elsewhere drained their Alka Seltzers and asked would anyone like a sherry before lunch? Sometimes, they remembered to take a restorative glass to the kitchen, which they thought was damn’ hot today, Em.

Mother also carved our turkey. Visitors used to think it odd that the man of the house didn’t carve, but the family all knew what happened to any roast that Dad got his knife into.

Of course, everyone wanted the breast. All the children wanted a drumstick each; Uncle Ernest wasn’t fussy: “ just a couple of legs, Em.” Which he then proceeded to eat, one in each hand, his napkin tucked into his collar. And nobody wanted the dark meat.

The older girls, by now “too refained” to fight the smalls for a leg, would ask how the gravy was made and, on being told, would squeal and wrinkle their noses in disgust at the mere thought of eating innards.

Plates would be passed up the table with requests for “just a little more, please.” (Funny how no one minded the dark meat for seconds…) And when the huge bird had been reduced to pieces that would fit on a small saucer, and the big Victorian tureen held only three or four cold peas, lonely in the bottom, and everyone had eaten enough pudding to be sure of getting at least one silver threepence we all dragged ourselves from the table.

Mother delegated the washing-up to two or three older children who could be trusted with the best crockery, tactfully ignoring Uncle Ernest’s bluff offers to “knock these over in a shake, Em. Learned to do dishes in the army, dontcha know.”

With pre-lunch sherries and the better part of a bottle of Macon and a couple of ports in him, I rather think Mother thought he would “knock them over in a shake.”

We never ate turkey throughout the year. Only at Christmas.

*********************************************

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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ONCE UPON A TIME…

…many years ago, a young girl looked out of her window at the nasty, noisy traffic hurtling down the street.
And she looked at the sink full of dishes, still unwashed.
And she looked at the newspaper column, still unfinished.
And she said to herself: “What I need is an afternoon in the park.”
And with that, she collected her sketchbook and pencils, put on her rather pretty ‘men-will-notice’ straw hat and set off for the park.

At The Round Pond some old men were sailing toy yachts.(This is what old men do in the park.Sometimes.) Nannies were pushing prams. (This is what nannies do in the park.)

The young girl sat on the grass beneath a big tree and began to sketch the old men.(No, a policeman did not come along and arrest her .)

The young girl was intent on shading her sketch and did not notice she had company. Until she felt something moist and hairy on her neck.

A BIG dog was looking over her shoulder. A VERY BIG dog.

The young girl was not afraid, but she inched slowly and carefully away from the VERY BIG dog. Inch by slow inch, around the trunk of the tree.

Inch by slow inch, until __ she felt something moist and hairy on her neck!

And the first moist and hairy VERY BIG dog was still in view!

The young girl was still not afraid, but she sure was hoping the two VERY BIG dogs were not hungry. The old men sailing toy yachts and the nannies seemed very far away…

Suddenly, the young girl heard: “Tara! Seamus!” and the two VERY BIG dogs loped away towards the man who had called them.

Of course, in true fairy story tradition, I’d like to say that the man with the dogs had, indeed, noticed the young girl’s pretty hat and that the dogs were his cunning ruse to make the girl’s acquaintance. And that they all lived happily everafter.

But I can’t tell such a wicked fib!

The dog owner was very nice. So was his wife. And his kids. But it was those Irish Wolfhounds that won me. Shaggy, grey beasts, just like these. I