Some more smallish items…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s expletive is ‘Zooterkins!’ – a mild oath, often used by ladies of the court in Elizabeth I’s reign.
Why not employ this nice expletive the next time someone bashes a trolley into the backs of your legs at the supermarket checkout?
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Excuses for being late. No. 230.
I’m sorry I’m late, but a subduction zone opened up in my front garden. (S.Z.)

A single overheard remark:
‘You stay in all the time – you’re like a fuckin’ Druid!…’
(I think he meant ‘hermit’.) (D.)

Gosh look, a pretty teenage girl with a thick black Zapata moustache! Oh no, I’m mistaken, she’s just holding the handle of her umbrella up under her nose…

‘Are you seeing anyone at the moment?’
‘What, you mean wraiths, apparitions, dead departed souls?…’
‘No, you idiot! Are you going out with anyone?’
‘What exactly do you mean by ‘out’?’
‘Oh, shut up!…’

Walt Disney was well known for having animated conversations…

‘So, what sort of neighbourhood do you live in Dave?’
‘Well, the other day I noticed a chap on a big loud motorbike coming down the street. He slowed down, turned, and went across the pavement and through an open gate onto the front path of a house; he got off his bike, went into the house and came back out with a wooden plank. He laid the plank up the front step of the house, got back on his bike and drove it up the plank into the house, switched the engine off, came out and got his plank, went back inside with it and shut the door behind him…’
‘Nice!…’

A single overheard remark:
‘He didn’t have a corner to stand in!…’

‘What are all those strange insubstantial things flopping about on the cafe floor Dave?’
‘Oh, they are just the voices of the young singer songwriters whose songs have been playing over the cafe speakers.’
‘What?… So why…?’
‘Well, didn’t you notice? The track that played after theirs happened to be by Aretha Franklin – the power of her voice sucked all the life out of their feeble efforts, and they could do nothing but fall out of the speakers and wallow in their mediocrity on the cappuccino-stained cafe floor…’
‘Oh, the poor young things!…’
‘Indeed!…’

 

 

 

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At the supermarket checkout…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s instruction is to wet it down completely with a hose pipe, sprinkle goofer dust over the central area, then walk around it six times in an anticlockwise direction with closed eyes, humming Abba’s hit song ‘Money money money’. (G.D.)
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So, I placed my bits of shopping on the checkout moving belt: a nice head of broccoli, three brown onions (large) in their red fishnet stocking, a sliced wobbly brown loaf with many seeds in it, a tube of plaque fighter toothpaste, a single asteroid-shaped dirty orange sweet potato, next week’s copy of What’s On TV, a transparent oblong trough of shiny green seedless grapes, and a moderately-sized block of dangerously strong mature cheddar.
The lady with the nice eyes and the coloured hair whizzed them through the scanner and without looking up said, ‘That’ll be two hundred and thirty thousand and eight pounds, and six pence please, do you have a club card?…’
‘Er, no…I haven’t…’ I said, ‘but surely that can’t be right… Can it?…’
‘Well, that’s what it has come up as sir’ she said.
‘Perhaps you have mis-scanned something? I said.
‘I don’t think so sir…’
‘Well, it seems a bit much to me… Perhaps you’d be kind enough to tell me how many items you scanned?’
She grudgingly examined her screen and said, ‘Eight items sir…’
I looked down at my heap of stuff and did a quick count, ‘Well, that seems alright, I make it eight too.’
‘Do you want to pay by card sir?’ she snapped, I think she was now getting a bit annoyed.
‘No no, not yet’ I said, and added, ‘Could you just perhaps…’
‘There’s a long queue building up behind you sir…’ she said, and for the first time looked me in the eye.
I continued, ‘…perhaps you could tell me which item on the list cost the most?’
She sighed audibly and looked down at the screen again, ‘It’s the Rolls-Royce Wraith at ¬£230,000…’
I responded with, ‘Well, that’s not bad value for money I suppose, but if you’d care to look at my pile of shopping, I don’t think you’ll see such an item there…’
She glanced over and said, ‘Mm… s’pose so…’
Anyway, eventually she called the manager over who frowned at me, and then put her glasses on and pondered over the screen, and then over my pile of goods; she noticed the queue behind me and shooed them off to a different checkout. After a bit of key tapping and umming and ahhing it was discovered that my tube of toothpaste had scanned in as a Rolls-Royce Wraith, and my bill was reduced accordingly. The manager in a bored monotone recited a half-hearted apology and handed me a little badly printed voucher.
Once outside I decided, as the evening was a pleasant one, that I would walk home rather than get the bus. As I passed through the supermarket car park there was a sudden shout of ‘Hoy!…’ behind me. I turned, and saw a man in a suit. He called across, ‘Have you got your voucher?…’
I shouted back, ‘Yes…’ and I took it out of my pocket and waved it at him. He waved back jingling a key fob with ‘R-R’ emblazoned on it and said, ‘Just follow me sir, I’ll show you where it’s parked…’
I chuckled as we walked along because I suddenly realised that they had forgotten to charge me for the toothpaste…

 

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Messing with letters… Oofing?…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s random dictionary words are: proin, prolegomena, proglottis, progne, pronotum, and bummalo. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. Extra marks will be awarded to any student bringing fruit. A word of warning: Professor Mouldie does not get on with plums or damsons.
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A simple, but annoying puzzle involving the letter ‘R’.
Yes, it does look like a poem doesn’t it? But no, it isn’t one.
I call this the ‘Blocksmith Puzzle’ because its origin was in a keyboard error I once noticed I’d made typing the word ‘locksmith’.
It’s a nice word, blocksmith!…

Some of the letter Rs have been deliberately loosened from this page, please tip all these words into a small bag, give it a good shake, and then tip them out to see if order can spontaneously arise from chaos.

ocket ricicle umour roxen

eality raspidistra hapsody runcle

usty rumpteen ancour runderstanding

ental reditor ye ron

hythmically rontological oyalty rash

ecycled rirritant oofing rearl

amparts reach amblers ryacht

 

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Three faces in Leeds market…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s letter of the alphabet is the capital K – a very spiky letter is the capital K – Joseph K from The Trial… or, oh dear, images of the Ku Klux Klan… or perhaps just a Swiss Army Knife standing up demonstrating¬† semaphore with a couple of its larger blades?…
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DSCN3496Here’s a picture I took, or shall we say ‘captured’ – I notice that on Flickr some people when commenting on someone’s photo will say, ‘nice capture!’ I’m not sure I like that… So, here’s a picture I took, in the nearby city of Leeds a few months ago. It shows a stall in the large indoor market in the city centre.
It was the big growling tiger that caught my attention initially, but I quickly decided that the two humans below would certainly balance the composition nicely.
I must have been feeling unusually confident that day because I actually asked these two if I could take their picture – I’m usually a bit shy on these occasions. They nodded, but I think they’d rather I’d bought a couple of their rugs instead – business seemed quiet that afternoon.
When I upload it to Flickr I think I’ll give it the title ‘Three faces’… or does that sound a bit arty-farty? I do like the way the lady has her hand up to her face and is avoiding the camera. She seems to be looking across to her companion in a ‘meaningful’ way. I’m not sure whether he is smiling or not – am I mistaken, or is there a bit of drama going on here? What do you think?… I think the tiger is at the back of it all…

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So, was is it that those TV ads are trying to tell us?…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s old black and white snapshot is the one of me playing billiards with Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone at the Carton Club in 1978.
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How will you celebrate? – pop this in, and a quick rub! – the latest beauty you must have! – not game footage – conditions apply – the laughter and the tears… – whatever inspires you! – Samsung Eco-bubble! – laughing all the way! – flexi-torch! – deep cleansing bristles – just use the sliders on our home page! – solid oak chairs – 100% natural ingredients! – hidden behind closed doors – multi-player wordsearch! – selected gifts and electricals! – 100% chicken breast! – must end Monday – absolutely gorgeous rice fusions! – nine kilo capacity! – double fronted! – terrible trouble sleeping? – a terabyte of storage! – we’ll give you the difference – it’s a walk in the park! – a glorious medley! – a hard to shift mucous cough? – odour-shield wash – new and exclusive! – stop being embarrassed – it gets to work instantly! – captivating fragrances! – a welcome bonus to match your first deposit! – and get the carpet free! – power and pure! – no harsh chemical residue! – cold, pain, or fever? – a new formula with extra conditioning! – get a whole new perspective – lose yourself in drama! – enter for free! – games promotions and rewards! – a completely free twenty pounds! – and a velvety filling!…

Why not call up the office of your local Member of Parliament and scream this down the phone at them?

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So, what about people?…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s special noises are: clang, clang, rumble, clang, crack, clang, and rumble.
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‘Mummy…’
‘Yes dear?’
‘Why are people so awful?’
‘Oh, that’s a funny question dear… Do you think they are awful?’
‘Yes, most of them.’
‘Oh… Have you got your own theory as to why this is the case?’
‘Yes Mum, I have…’
‘Would you like to share it with me?’
‘If you like. It’s all the fault of capitalism and marketing.’
‘Is it?’
‘Yes it is… It relentlessly encourages people to consume, and be greedy, and to not value what they have…’
‘Oh?’
‘Yes, it makes them want stupid new useless things… and it makes them borrow money to buy them… new things, that they can’t quite afford and they…’
‘What sort of things dear?’
‘Things that they think will make their frantic miserable lives better in some way – but of course they won’t, they just…’
‘But dearest, that just makes them sad, but not awful people…’
‘Ah yes Mum, but they are encouraged and conditioned by the great fat advertising machine to be competitive and arrogant, making them think that they should strive to be somehow better than everyone else… It’s a rat-race greasy pole situation Mum!’
‘A rat-race greasy pole situation dear?’
‘Yes!’
‘Well, I wish I could tell you where your theory falls down…’
‘Oh?’
‘Yes, but I can’t, you are obviously right… but we seem to be stuck with it…’
‘Oh okay…
Mum…’
‘Yes dear?’
‘What should we do then?’
‘Oh, just try to ignore the advertising and bullshit, try to be nice to people, and join the ranks of the cynical alternative underground…’
‘Wow! The cynical alternative underground! The C.A.U!… That sounds fun!’
‘Yes, it is…’
‘Cool!… Thanks Mum…’
‘You’re welcome dear…’

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Doom in the small hours…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s heraldic term is ‘punning arms’ – the same as ‘canting of arms’. (C of A)
I once had my arms canted, but I found it really uncomfortable and had them changed back again.
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When the phone rings in the middle of the night and wakes me up, it is usually either Simon Doom or Tony Mayonnaise, both night owls and late risers, and both annoying poets from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League. This morning it was 3.46 when Doom phoned to tell me that he couldn’t sleep, because his head was buzzing with science… ‘Bugger off!’, I said and put the phone down…
Of course he rang straight back and explained that he had been reading a copy of the Bedside Book of Physics that he’d bought very cheaply from a remainder bookshop, and that he’d been inspired to invent the ‘battery of voltaic cells spoem’, and also to write one of them, (a spoem is a ‘spoof poem’).
He went on to explain that just as dissimilar metals in an electrolyte produce a flow of electrons, alternate lines of pithy contrasting imagery on a white page will generate ‘aesthetic current’ which can be detected as ‘artistic voltage’ across the anode and cathode, which are of course the first and last words of the spoem…
‘That’s wonderful’, I said, and put the phone down again. When he phoned back he ordered me to straightway get a pen and paper as he was about to dictate his new composition, adding that I should be very careful as I write the last word down, as the paper might actually burst into flames, with a puff of super-heated vowels… Doom is an idiot…

Anode.
Spiteful steel, scrape nail, blood cut, flint graze,
Teddy bear,
Sharp sliver, scald bump, squeal mouse, jolt bone upset,
Warm pandas,
Clatter din, lash grit wetness, ice knife, needle prick.
Cosy softness,
Bruise iron, concussion rock, snap twig, spring-shock memory,
Purring kittens,
Hot jab, rust barb, shatter stone impact, gasp stun twitching,
Sir Cliff Richard,
Spark bite, foetid moist shoe, moribund oak anxiety,
Snuggling,
Mould chafe, grime touch, sweat pillow, cramp limb melancholy,
Pretty bubbles,
Cathode.

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