Some small but pithy items…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s architectural term is Crown-post: A post standing on a tie-beam and supporting a collar-purlin running immediately under the collar-beam of a rafter roof.
Well, I’m glad we’ve finally got that sorted out, it’s been on my mind for some time.

Excuses for being late. No. 290.
I’m sorry I’m late, but I started tinkering with my howitzer.

A single overheard remark:
‘The interesting thing… is interesting…’

‘Hm, you smell nice… what is it?’
‘I like it! Here, come a bit closer…’

Last week I thought that I’d give myself a special treat, so I bought some striped toothpaste. Now every morning is a pleasant surprise, it really cheers me up. Gone are the days of plain white toothpaste… Did people used to say, ‘It’s the biggest thing since striped toothpaste!’ or was that sliced bread?…

There’s nothing quite as toe-curlingly embarrassing as people who can’t really do what they are supposed to do: actors who can’t act, comedians who aren’t funny, rock bands that are more safe and bland than their grandparents, artists with lots of confidence but no aesthetic sense, politicians who relish being ‘middle of the road’, and… er, parents who smile proudly as their offspring run about art galleries screaming their little heads off…

‘So, what’s the word on the street?’
‘Well, there’s more than one, there’s ‘Stop’ outside the corner shop, and over there there’s ‘Slow’, but viewed from here it’s written upside down…’
‘That’s not really what I meant…’

Usually at this point in Some small but pithy items… I put in a piece of spam that has popped up in my comments box, but I’m afraid, dear reader, that I don’t seem to be getting any spam these days – perhaps I have upset someone?…

Hm, I’m thinking of changing my name to Hugh Japples.

Ah, yes, it’s called ‘BookCrossing‘ – I have been doing it for a while, but have only recently found that it actually had a name; it is the act of leaving an unwanted book in a public place for some stranger to pick up, take away, and read. A few weeks ago I bought a thickish paperback in a secondhand bookshop, It was Wylder’s Hand (1864) by Sheridan Le Fanu. I remembered his name from a spooky Gothic story I once read and thought I should buy his novel. It turned out to be very dry, slow, and long – I only managed half of the first chapter and the very next day left it on the back seat of a 57 bus. I wonder where it is now, and who is cursing me and struggling with it’s stodginess…

A single overheard remark:
‘And that’s when I started having a piece of paper…’

Posted in architecture, art, books, conversation, Dulltown, existentialism, Hull.UK., humour, information, observations, overheard, reading, serendipity, surrealism, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Stella spots the snowflakes…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s financial forecast is for money to grow on trees and for everyone to be penny wise and pound foolish, but of course do keep an eye on the markets.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘Four Views’ (1994) Pastel and colour pencil on thick watercolour paper, about 24″ x 18″.

‘Hey!… Hey you!… Stop it!… Who the hell’s that leaning on my doorbell?’
‘Open the door you great fool!’
‘Hm… Oh, hello Stella, it’s you… Do come in.’
‘You knew perfectly well it was me, you buffoon! It’s bloody freezing out there, call this April? Here, take my brolly, give it a good shake and stand it in your sink.’
‘And good morning to you my dear. Hm, interesting hat – I like those sheepskin ear flaps!’
‘You like it David?’
‘No, on you it looks ridiculous!…’
‘Look, I want a big pint mug of hot steaming tea, and something sweet… Got any nice cake?’
‘Look at your muddy footprints on my hall tiles Stella, there is a doormat you know…’
‘Cake David!… Give me cake!…’
‘I have half a packet of chocolate coconut rings, Sainsbury’s ones.’
‘They’ll do… What the hell’s this?’
‘It’s a drawing, a pastel, from 1994, I did it when I was…’
‘Looks like my Auntie Brenda’s curtains… Where’s my tea?’
‘The kettle’s just boiling… Curtains?’
‘Yes, she like bright colours and has no taste at all.’
‘Hm… Have a ring Stella.’
‘Do these dunk in tea alright?’
‘I expect so… So you don’t think much of my painting?’
‘Pastel drawings are properly called ‘paintings’.’
‘I knew that!… It’s alright I suppose. Why do you called it ‘Four Views’?’
‘Here’s you tea, and don’t spill it… It’s because the field is divided into four equal…’
‘Oh, I get it… Is this Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea?’
‘Of course.’
‘Hm… I like the stars, the stars rescue the thing, they give it the feel of a schmaltzy Christmas card David.’
‘Yes, they could be flakes of snow of course. Another coconut ring please!’
‘Here… and please don’t slurp you tea like that, you know it annoys me.’
‘It needs to be slurped David, it’s hot… Those colours are very bright – they are fighting each other, I’ll bet you used all the crayons in the box on this one.’
‘I always do, except the browns… and dark green can sometimes be a problem, you see, just a…’
‘David, you don’t want that last coconut ring, do you?… Thank you…. So, would you like me to take a photo of this, er, painting, and see if my Auntie Brenda would like to buy it from you? She’s got plenty of spare cash and no colour sense whatsoever.’
‘Certainly not, you cheeky minx!… I suppose you’ll be wanting another mug of tea?’
‘Go on then…’

Posted in art, brain, colours, conversation, creation, drawing, existentialism, Grumpiness, humour, information, painting, style, surrealism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Messing with letters… Ignals…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s random dictionary words are: mappemond, sklim, temulence, mortiferous, fustanella, and bulbul. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. Should the professor turn up wearing medieval garb and carrying a rusty iron spear you should not remark on or draw attention to this.

Here is a simple, but annoying puzzle involving the letter ‘S’.
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 is in a keyboard error I once noticed I had made typing the word ‘locksmith’.
It is a nice word, blocksmith…

Some of the letter ‘S’s 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.

soily ong sopera hoot

standem emaphore squill ausage

sandrogynous ythe stowel hipping

shint houting selbow ooner

sinclination implicity sholistic porting

sudder ignals spond pecial

simpish naking suppermost ubmerged

Posted in brain, dreaming, humour, information, instruction, mind, poetry, puzzle, serendipity, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some song lyrics misheard over the cafe hubbub…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s fine 17th c. English expletive is ‘Stap me vitals!’ – and no, before you ask, I don’t know what ‘stap’ means – it sounds like it’s a verb though doesn’t it? Perhaps it’s a corruption of ‘stab’? I don’t think it will be short for Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency though – not back in those days… (I just Googled it)

‘Away-ee-ay, ee-ay…’
‘Girl, you come to unlock my hunger.’
‘Bees fly away – ooh ooh.’
‘Seize a pile – lies on my window pane.’
‘Pleepa-yawning, tell me but mucky…’
‘We are the bum sorts baby.’
‘Chuggy chuggy – the rooms, the rooms!’
‘Four hundred cows – no no…’
‘Jump in the pie – ee-ow ee-ow!’
‘Feel you, hands in the night.’
‘Got a moose song, down the road I go…’
‘You are the cool shed world girl.’
‘Let’s throw a musty!’
‘Feeling round for your back, I’m poon now…’
‘You got a nose, oh oh…’
‘Sleep marks hang around.’
‘Grease-tone grease-tone let’s go!’
‘Every eye I wash you, I wash you.’
‘I think about to laugh again.’
‘Oh oh oh oh, take a bargee lover!’
‘I had a chance to stay with shoe.’
‘Please don’t – ears are for people.’
‘Shine in my backyard girl!’
‘Septy in my hand, a copsy and a ton of rain.’
‘Wish I had a murmur tree, a crawl-up lobster.’
‘I’m stunned by the shaping baby.’
‘A corridor silhouette, a stabbing witch!’
‘Flab song, flab song, the ice goes wrong…’



Posted in brain, cafe, cool, dreaming, existentialism, expletives, history, humour, information, misheard, music, poetry, serendipity, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dear God… About my back…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s sound is that of a crystal chandelier falling from a high ceiling onto a marble floor.

So, I was sitting on the upper deck of a bus yesterday afternoon; I was wondering why I had developed a pain in the small of my back. (‘Small of my back’ – what an odd phrase that is!) It felt as if I had spent the whole of the previous day laying heavy paving stones, but of course I hadn’t – it was a mystery. Speaking of things mysterious, as the bus slowed for a corner and passed a small country church I noticed a large sign fastened to its wall which said, in bolt letters, ‘Try Praying’.
Now, ever since I was about twelve years old I have been an atheist; at school we were made to attend a daily morning assembly which had a large dollop of sticky Christianity stirred into it. There was a lot of hymn singing and some very strange and oddly worded readings from the bible, which to me generally sounded a bit contrived and not too strong on logic. (I always felt really sorry for the brother of the Prodigal Son.)
The bus rumbled on its way and my mind went back to the ‘Try Praying’ sign. I should really have an open mind about such things, (but then again, someone once said, ‘An open mind is a good thing, but you shouldn’t let your brain fall out!’) – perhaps I might, just for a moment, consider the idea that I might have been wrong all these years… ‘Try Praying’… Hm…
Now, God is omnipresent, isn’t he/she? And he/she can hear our every thought?…
Alright God, I mused, Now’s your chance, I’m here, with a fairly open mind, and a slight pain in my back. Come on, impress me; just take the edge off it – if a complete and instant cure is asking a bit too much…
I sat there waiting for a few minutes; perhaps praying is like the internet, and you have to sometimes hang on a minute or two, watching the little wheel spin, before you get through.
Come on now God, be reasonable, I’ve not bothered you for anything for years and years, this is only a small thing, in fact a small-of-the-back thing, it can’t be that difficult…
I waited, and as nothing seemed to be happening my mind wandered to other things, oh look, some horses gambolling about in a field! Look at them frolic! But occasionally I would shuffle in my seat as see if there had been any mystical healing done – but no, there was no discernible change. Perhaps you have to wait longer than I had thought – he/she is supposed to transcend time and space though – you know, ‘action at a distance’ – I think that’s right…
He/she ought to have noticed a new follower (a prodigal son) by now, and should be pulling out all the stops to stop me wavering in my new-found faith – maybe he/she will be in touch in some other way, perhaps lower back work is not his/her forte?
Oh dear, the thought just crossed my mind that maybe the mysterious back pain was actually sent by God, and he/she arranged for the ‘Try Praying’ sign to be visible from my seat on the bus, a sign from God? Was it some sort of test? That’s just the sort of thing that God does, I remember sneaky things like that from the Old Testament in those morning assemblies. Whoa! Another realisation! Perhaps the pain and the sign wasn’t from God at all, but… from the Devil!… No no, stop it Dave! That’s just the sort of tangled thinking that has driven religious people loopy for thousands of years!
I decided to put the whole thing out of my mind, but to also keep an eye and ear open for any sign that the almighty might decide to get in touch later in the day…
Nothing much out of the ordinary happened; my back stayed pretty much in the same state, and the only notable thing was that the cafe was unusually pleasant and quiet, and the tea and chocolate brownies were very good; I sat at a cosy table by the window with a view of the square… and yes, here I am, sitting, writing all this down in my little spiral-bound notebook…
A footnote: (added an hour later)
Just as I was putting my coat on to leave the cafe a young Italian chap (accompanied by his bouncing exuberant little boy) arrived, sat down close by, and started to shout down his phone and bang rhythmically on the table with his fist. Phew! I was really glad to be leaving – it was all just a matter of timing, how very fortunate!
I murmured, ‘Thank you God!’ as I walked out, leaving the ‘cute’ child careering and stamping around the room pointing at people and screaming at them…

Posted in cafe, creation, dreaming, existentialism, humour, information, learning, observations, religion, serendipity, surrealism, thinking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Mail Art Postcard No. 4588…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s instruction is to experiment to see if you can ride two bicycles at once – by the way, no cheating by riding one and wheeling the other by the handlebar!

4588How’s this for a spot of surrealism?
It’s another of my mail art postcards – a card of verdant green with a couple of snippings from that awful British TV magazine, What’s On TV stuck on it.
This piece of work is obviously offering us a choice, isn’t it dear reader?
Is there an election in the offing that I haven’t heard about? Oh, goodness me, what a difficult choice! Hang on, do you think the cute dog is deliberately trying to make his nose look like the Führer’s moustache, and also is he trying to copy Mr H’s stern expression?…
So, which shall it be? ‘Führer Friday’ or ‘Jack Russell Sunday’ – I must confess that I have no idea what’s going on… They both have quite piercing eyes though don’t they? Is this satire then? Is it a pithy comment on current politics? The choice is between the ‘strong aggressive patriotic nationalistic fellow’ and the ‘engaging good-looking even-handed kindly chap’?… Yes, yes, I know one of them is a dog… What? You mean I have to vote! Oh damn… well, I suppose it’ll have to be the dog then…

Posted in art, brain, cool, humour, information, instruction, Mail Art, postcards, puzzle, serendipity, surrealism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Leather, Rivets, and Plywood…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s useful adjectives are: voluble, araeostyle, fidgety, saxicolous, obconic, profulgent, and chubby.

Today I’m in the mood for gadgets – not modern ones such as drones, phones, and things that go ‘ping’, but ones from the last century that can be found in that tattered old junk shop book The 1954 Gadgets Annual. Here’s a picture of the title page:

DSCN3900Ah, 1954, when men in tweeds and brogues, with short smart glossy hair, smoked tobacco pipes, and tinkered and whistled in their garden sheds, cheerfully repairing broken household items, and inventing and constructing useful handy gadgets for use around the house and garden. When they came up with a jolly good idea they would share it with the world by sending it off to be published in the popular Gadgets Magazine.
Let’s quickly dip into these yellowing pages dear reader:
How to Round off Glass Edges, Two Uses for a Door Wedge, Solutions On Tap! (photography), A Remedy for Ladders in Stockings, How to Strengthen Paper Tubes, Cure That Noisy Latch!… etc.
Let’s have a look at page 95:

‘Yes dear?’
‘I wish you wouldn’t have papers and things on the dining table before we’ve finished eating – and what’s that are you scribbling away at?’
‘Well Madge, my dear, as I was waiting for the custard to cool on my apple pie, I was just doing a simple working drawing and a cutting list to make a super item for you, from this month’s copy of…’
‘Not that silly magazine of yours again Albert!’
‘It’s not silly Madge… look, here is a simply-made ‘thong shopping bag’ – it’s very clever, it collapses you see…’
‘Pardon?… What do you mean “no…”?’
‘It’s one of the ugliest things I have ever seen in my life Albert. Can you honestly see me walking down the High Street with… with that?’
‘Ugly?… No, surely not… The plywood base could be painted a pretty colour, you see if…’
‘Hm… Madge, this apple pie is delicious… By the way, I’ve managed to stop the back door latch from rattling…’
‘Have you Albert? That’s good… More custard on your pie?…’
‘Hm… Yes, why not?…’

Posted in archeology, books, conversation, history, humour, information, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments