Yes, I think it might be another lino print…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s confused film star is Redert Robford.

Hm… is this another lino print in the offing?…
What does ‘in the offing’ mean? Have I used this idiom correctly?
And what is the, or an, ‘offing’ anyway?…
Actually, ‘idiom’ is a very nice sort of word too!

Yes, I was just about to charge up my music player and my noise-cancelling headphones when I suddenly though – ‘triangles’… and then I thought, ‘overlapping triangles’, and then the old brain quickly went on to consider triangles with clean crisp edges, but with their middles filled in with scratches and distressed scruffy areas – better just do a little drawing, a reminder, on my kitchen jotter (do you have a kitchen jotter, dear reader?) to take with me when I next pop into my little workshop where all this lino printing nonsense is perpetrated. I think I might take a photograph of the sketch beside my stainless steel sink…

I don’t take my music player, (in reverence to the distant past, still called a Sony Walkman) and my headphones out much these lockdown days; I usually only resort to them when travelling on noisy buses – and gosh, I haven’t been on a germ-infested sweaty bus for weeks!

Yes, triangles frolicking in the middle of a white area, and with, of course, my usual black border enclosing the whole drama. I think this one will be a fairly simple composition, for a change. It might have a vague feel of 1930s design about it – thoses 1930s people were quite keen on geometry, weren’t they? Ah, those classy days when aesthetics and beauty in art weren’t considered forbidden embarrassingly dirty words…

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I do like a bit of Shakespeare…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s financial forecast is for people to continue to believe that economic growth is a good thing.

On television:
A couple of days ago I noticed that there was some Shakespeare coming up on one of the channels. Now, before we go any further I must confess that I struggle with Billy S – it’s the language I suppose. I reckon, oh, seventy precent of the time, I don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Still, it does sound pretty grand and pithy, and as if it’s packed with meaning, doesn’t it?
And the scenery, the castles, dungeons, palaces, forests, graveyards, and that sort of stuff always look pretty good – oh, and the costumes are generally impressive and seem right for the period – and sometimes people whip out their swords and wag them about, and sometimes they pause, and stare at their daggers for a bit.
Did you ever see Mel Gibson doing Hamlet? I think that was good film, yes, I recall enjoying that one, I was entertained, despite the inherent language barrier – oh, and what about that Japanese Macbeth (Throne of Blood) from years and years ago? Phew! That was a corker! (click)
Anyway, the film I spotted in the listings was another version of Macbeth; it had Michael Fassbender in it and it was directed by Justin Kurzel, and it was two-and-a-quarter hours long; most Shakespeare films seem to be two-and-a-quarter hours long – hey, did you ever see Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo+Juliet? That was a good one, and it was about the standard length too.
So, I recorded the thing. And last night I got myself strapped in to watch it:
The opening titles and credits came and went, and then we were straightway transported to a bleak place with, I think, a funeral going on. There were hoards of attendees hanging around, it was hilly, dank, grey, and blustery. After perhaps two minutes, I stopped the playback and then deleted the whole film. ‘No, no, no!’ I shouted at the screen…

‘So what was up Dave?’ I hear you ask.
Well, it opened with an effective and melancholic shot of the pale dead lass waiting to be interred – then it cut to show us the miserable crowd of mourners. What irked me was (irked is a great word, isn’t it?), the shots of the crowd looked like they been done, for some reason, with the camera hand-held – lots of irritating blurring and wobbling about. Good god! How to destroy in an instant any atmosphere that the scene had, and of course draw the viewer’s attention to the filming process instead of the action! I thought, if the whole thing is going to be in this crass ham-fisted style, I don’t think I’ll bother!
So, after sitting fuming for a moment or two, I flicked through my recordings and chose the reliably cheery Bob Ross painting one of his lovely landscapes to cheer myself up. (click)
Ah, that’s better! Thank you, Bob!…

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Song lyrics misheard over the pre-lockdown cafe hubbub…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s rather unpleasant word is rhapsody.

‘Mummer mummer doe, whoo blue, Themroc.’
‘I bleeth you, oh my differing soul!’
‘My dry sky high now!…’
‘So, I pah pah, I’m hopping my tubes!…’
‘Dough home neat, it’s over the owl girl.’
‘Why did I stop all the good wha-ha?’
‘Leprechaun fawn, whip dip, whip dip!’
‘Tinny health – phony doubt – phony doubt!’
‘That’s a cruet!… Yeah!…’
‘The dark night babe, I go down muddy, take me, feet!’
‘I been true, but now I got glue…’
‘Baby baby peepy – I feel it rollin’ good!’
‘Walk in the warm, la-la gold – my glove, my glove!’
‘I’m a full tin of zip-frown all day.’
‘Cold hard holy cool glots – that is my hairy coat now.’

For some information on how these lines are compiled, you could click here.

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Oh, I think it’s just landed…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s confused film star is Black Jack.

Here’s one I snapped back in March.

Well, you can see why I was attracted to it, can’t you?
‘Are those yellow things buttercups, Dave?’
I don’t know.

Yes, I was heading for town, nipping across a small stretch of unkempt urban grass by an advertising hoarding. Hoarding – now that’s an odd word, isn’t it? Is it a word peculiar to the British Isles? Hoarding… Hm… I suppose in the US and elsewhere those things would be called billboards.

And there it was, just lying on the ground.
And what an odd shape the thing is. And what an odd selection of colours too. And what about the pointy protrusion sprouting out of the right-hand bottom corner?
I expect it’s just a…
‘Just a what?…’
The delicate pale blue, the subdued yellow, and that washed-out grey wondering if it should really be a nice green. It looks not unlike a map, with a couple of countries, a few islands and inlets, and perhaps even an arid desert – it could be a close-up snap of one of the moons of Jupiter taken by one of those orbiters.
Then again, there’s the shape of the brute. I’m sure I’ve seen pictures of things like that crawling about on the deep sea floor, poking its slim snout under rocks sniffing for food. It also has the look of… Oh, what am I thinking of? Oh yes, a microscope shot of some tiny beast that might be infecting someone’s scalp – whoa!…
Do you remember that film War of the Worlds, with tall metal things trotting about on three spindly legs taking fiery pot-shots at our nice buildings? Could be one of those…

I’m quite pleased with the photograph though; the colours are nice, the composition is good, as is the shape of the subject, the grass is perhaps a little bit dark, but quite acceptable in the circumstances, and, of course, I do like a puzzle!
Would you like me to tell you what I think this intriguing object might be?
I think we are seeing the back of a piece of a poster from the hoarding, ripped off and deposited there by the March winds.

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Two or three handfuls of juniper berries…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s unusual pencil sharpener is the one shaped like a loud prolonged sigh in the crypt of a large cathedral.

Don’t just stand there!…
Come on!… Let’s dive back in time and visit the strange world of Britain in the 1930s. Just carefully set the dials on your time machines to the middle of 1934.
A jolly good year 1934. See, we’ll completely miss two world wars; by the way, it’s probably best during your visit not to mention what Mr Hitler is doing over there in Germany.
Yes, it’s my old, battered, and well-thumbed copy of the Daily Express Enquire within, a heavy drab-looking book, but the title page does have a nice emblem on it:

Yes, this book has everything in it!
Across the top of each page there are some words of wisdom, a proverb, a titbit of history, to catch your eye as you flick through looking for advice on the acceptable way to behave at a posh luncheon that you’ve unexpectedly just been invited to. I will include some of these with today’s selection.

Page 439. (One today is worth two tomorrows.)
Perfume for clothes:
A very pleasant perfume, and also a preventative against moths, may be made of the following ingredients: Take of cloves, caraway seeds, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, and Tonquin beans, one ounce of each; then add as much Florentine orris root as will equal the other ingredients put together. Grind the whole well to a powder, and then put it in little bags among your clothes, &c.

Page 17. (Play the game and fear not.)
In Season in July:
Fish, – Bass, bloaters, brill, carp, conger-eels, crabs, crayfish, dabs, dory, eels, flounders, gurnets, haddock, hake, halibut, herring, lobsters, mackerel, mullet, perch, pike, plaice, prawns, salmon, sea bream, shrimps, skate, soles, sturgeon, tench, thornback, trout, turbot, whitebait and whiting.

Page 95. (Knowledge is modest, cautious, and pure ; ignorance boastful, conceited, and sure.)
Observances of the dinner table:
ii. The laying out of a table must depend mainly upon the nature of the dinner or supper, the taste of the host, the description of the company, and the appliances possessed…
The whiteness of the table cloth, the clearness of the glass, the polish of plate, and the judicious distribution of ornamental groups of fruits and flowers, are matters deserving the utmost attention.

Page 420. (A small tear relieves a great sorrow.)
To get rid of a bad smell in a room.
Place a vessel full of lighted charcoal in the middle of the room, and throw on it two or three handfuls of juniper berries, shut the windows, the chimney and the door close; twenty-four hours afterwards the room may be opened, when it will be found that the sickly, unwholesome smell will be entirely gone. The smoke of the juniper berry posses this advantage, that should anything be left in the room, such as tapestry, &c., none of it will be spoiled.

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Lino, lino, lino – lino mad!…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dictionary words are: supernatant, yoldring, horal, epact, lectisternium, and cargoose. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie’s podcast first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. The professor will adopt a nautical theme for the lesson and will be wearing sea boots, fisherman’s smock, and a sou’wester. You will be required to sing shanties.

Yes, I do love my lino printing!
Three or four days ago I posted a photo with the preliminary drawing for a print, and a few other odds and ends on my workshop bench. Well, for a change, the preliminary (isn’t that a nice word?) drawing does look surprisingly like the finished thing. (click)

Lino print. 202o. Oil-based ink on nice Japanese Kizuki 4 Monme paper, about A4 in size.

This is an odd one, isn’t it?
‘And it’s not in your usual style Dave…’
Oh, really? What is my usual style? Do I have a usual style? One tries to not have one of those, one likes to keep people guessing you know… Oh, and see, with this print, you get three free extra art works included – gratis!…
‘Where is the mouse?’
The mouse?
‘Yes… Look, there’s a mouse hole, in the skirting board – where’s the mouse?’
Well, if there was a mouse, it would be very small element in the composition, and it would be really fiddly to carve in the lino, you know – so, I thought it better to just suggest the presence of a cheeky mouse in the piece, rather than…
‘Oh shut up!’

When I used to occasionally design and build theatre sets for magic shows for a living, and I was required to paint the interiors of spooky rooms, and castle dungeons, and wizard’s secret laboratories, I couldn’t resist including a half-round mouse hole in the skirting – a bit like the ones they used to have in Tom and Jerry cartoons. (click) I’m sure some young observant members of the audience would spot them, and perhaps point at them and smile…

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How about watching some Avenger-Trek then?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s lost plectrum is the one eventually found inside a Victorian beer bottle in the mud on the bank of the River Thames.

Well, I see that some nicely restored episodes of the original Kirk & Spock Star Trek series are currently being shown on TV – which is of course a good thing. However, as I like to watch these shows simultaneously with episodes of the 1960s John Steed and Mrs Peel The Avengers series, by flicking between the two with the remote, this has become impossible, as suddenly I can’t seem to find The Avengers showing on any of my available channels.
Luckily, dear reader, I do have some jotted down alternating snatches of dialogue left in my files from when I used to enjoy this harmless pastime.
So, today, I am pleased to announce that we can enjoy a short burst of Avenger-Trek!

‘Mrs Peel, is it hot in here?’
‘Affirmative Captain.’
‘There seems to be an intruder somewhere in this building!’
‘Can I get you something from the galley?’
Ship-to-ship Uhura!’
‘Count yourself fortunate Mr Steed!…’
‘Overloads and circuit breakouts Captain!’
‘Oh, you are such an impulsive creature!’
‘In a different reality, I could call you a friend…’
‘A friend of yours?… Mr Steed?…’
‘We are from your future!’
‘But there are no footprints Mrs Peel!’
‘Mr Scott wishes to speak to you – about the engines…’
‘Loyal obedient and extremely efficient?’
‘Your logic can be quite annoying Mr Spock!’
‘It must somehow be radio-controlled Steed!’
‘We can energise in four hours sir.’
‘I wouldn’t if I were you, Mrs Peel…’
‘See – it was wild, inhuman and bestial! Will you have a drink?’
‘Signal to all decks!’
‘Perhaps it was a cat – of some kind?’
‘Shouldn’t you be working on your warp-time calculations Mr Sulu?’
‘I do hope my spectacular party-piece hasn’t upset your plans Steed…’
‘No, no – beam up immediately!…’
‘Whaaaa!… Look out Mrs Peel!…’

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Kid’s stuff in the gallery…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s coiled reptile is the one lying in wait at the back of the kitchen cutlery drawer.

It’s been going on for decades and decades.
The council-run art gallery here in Dulltown have an annual exhibition early on in the year to which, for a small fee, anyone can submit a piece of work. It used to be called the Winter Exhibition, but it’s now called the Open Exhibition.
Me, I usually have a walk round it to have a look, but it all seems far too bland for my taste, and my viewing doesn’t take very long, I almost trot round. The ‘artists’ whose work has been chosen, seem very keen to demonstrate their ‘cleverness’ and their ‘cuteness’. In the old days when fewer people submitted stuff, there were always a few ‘amateur’ and ‘really bad’ paintings included – I used to love those! I even bought two or three of them over the years – they were quite cheap. The stuff now is all just too ‘slick’ for me. After you’ve been round, it’s quite a shock to go through the adjoining gallery with lots of Victorian paintings by people you’ve never heard of, and you think, Gosh! These are so good! So very different from the art I’ve just been looking at!
However, the gallery has now started running, in another room, in parallel, an exhibition of kid’s work from schools around the region. Oh, there’s some really great stuff in that one, I spend a lot more time looking at their efforts. It always makes me smile.
You are not supposed to take photos in the gallery, but last January I surreptitiously snapped a picture of this one.

Isn’t it great?
Darcey, aged six! Well done!
Look at those sky colours, the cheeky windows below, the tree, the perspecive, the confident but carefree drawing style, the lovely choice of overall colour! It could be like something Ernst Ludwig Kirchner might have done when he was six… (Click)

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Doom outside Boots…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s quotation is from Vladimir Nabokov’s 1933 novel Laughter in the dark:
‘I want to live with you quite openly,’ she blubbered. ‘In your own home. And to see people…’
‘Very well,’ he said, rising to his feet and brushing his knees.
(And in a year’s time you’ll marry me,’ thought Margot as she went on sobbing nicely, ‘you’ll marry me, unless by that time I’m already in Hollywood – in which case you may go to the devil.’)

A couple of days ago I ventured out into the real world to post a letter. As I was walking down the main road I noticed a group of five or six people waiting outside the Boots Pharmacy; they had formed a rough, but well-spaced (2 metres apart) queue. As I plodded past, a gruff voice rang out.
‘Hoy!… Fat-head!…’
I ignored it, as I don’t have a fat head, well, not a very fat one anyway. The voice came again.
‘Hoy!… Plonker!…’
I then recognised the voice as that of Simon Doom, ne’er do-well poet from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League.
‘Oh hello,’ I said, and was about to engage in some well-separated chit-chat when another voice, a deep one, from the queue piped up, ‘Hey you, don’t you fucking start him off again! He’s been reciting his stupid poetry at us for twenty fucking minutes! He’s only just shut up!’
‘It’s not fucking stupid, you slobbering oaf!’ Doom chimed in.
The large masked man suddenly broke ranks and moved in a threatening manner towards Doom, who for some reason pushed a copy of his spoem (‘spoof poem’) into my hand, and then fled, bouncing off down the pavement, hands in the air, braying like an ass…

Blith dook-doppers umblow ip!
Cook cock cake cloak click coops.
Oh, the tong boom dusty-mound anticline!
Bong tiz, bong tiz, bong tiz!

Blith cobmo-ragluff dimp ips!
Coop cook cock cake cloak clicks.
Oh, the horse crack dusty-boat antidote!
Clang miz, clang miz, clang miz!

Blith sood sok-blain bloot ipso!
Click coop cook cock cake cloaks.
Oh, the egg thud dusty-clock antibody!
Rattle ziz, rattle ziz, rattle ziz!

Blith tock ramloid-poon ipsos!
Cloak click coop cook cock cakes.
Oh, the rose bang dusty-mouse antipodes!
Tinkle niz, tinkle niz, tinkle niz!
Simon Doom. 2020.


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Junk on the bench, with breakfast…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s 18th century English expletive is By Cob’s Body!
A prissy euphemism for By God’s Body!

By Cob’s body!… Will I ever stop doing these bloody lino prints!
Who knows? One does get into a routine – doesn’t one?

What the hell is all this?
Well, over a bowl of breakfast Shredded Wheat and dried fruit, I had the bright idea of doing a lino print showing the wall of an art gallery with some pictures on it. I don’t usually depict real things in my prints, I find abstract shapes are easier to ‘get away with’, because no-one can compare them with anything. See my rough sketch – do you like my perspective floorboards?
‘But Dave, what’s all this other stuff on your workbench?’
Well, as the sketch isn’t really that interesting I thought that I’d pull a few other nearby items into the photograph – just as things I could mention. Shall I run through them for you?
First, I’m sure that you’ll have spotted that photocopy of the drawing for my previous lino design, the descending blob-thing, that I showed you a couple of days ago. (click)
‘Yes, but what’s that bulbous object to the right of it?’
Bulbous? Oh, that’s an old plastic watering can that I’ve recently adapted, sawn bits off it.
It’s full of bird seed, it’s for easy topping up, no spillage, of my hanging bird feeder out in the garden.
‘What about all that other junk Dave?’
Oh, that’s just my odd collection of lino cutting tools, pencils, rubbers, white correction fluid – I use a lot of that!
‘Hang on, what’s that wooden thing, underneath the photocopy?’
That’s a frame I made for my lino blocks to fit into (you can just glimpse the ‘blob’ block sitting in it) it stops them jumping about when you are trying to cut them – it’s especially handy when doing those black borders that I seem to like so much – the blue metal ruler can rest on the surround as you do the cutting, you see… do you see?
‘Oh yes… I see… And what sort of fruit do you have with your Shredded Wheat?’
Eh?… Why would you want to know that?…

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So, what is it that those TV ads want us to do?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: crackly, Barmecidal, sposhy, xiphoid, schizopodal, facinorous, and spongy.

Don’t miss out! – bold bright blooms! – multiply your winnings 500 times! – go behind the scenes – lowest ever fibre price! – it’s a hydration hit! – a Dyson B7! – call the number on screen! – Android TV – it eliminates lingering odours – I’ve never felt so good! – tough stains are such a frustration! – that’s what my dentist said – with real botanicals! – cleans up the impossible! – mini melters! – a family of consoles – one application, superior hold! – our cutting-edge technology! – a living breathing legend! – just £2.99 a month! – come on, let’s do this! – happiness guaranteed! – eight hour fever relief! – to encourage chasing and pouncing!…

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Mail Art Postcard. No. 4772…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s octopus is the one in the posh department store trying on brightly coloured Bermuda shorts for the summer season.

Well, here is a very straightforward mail art postcard, a simple collage on bright card using clippings from that depressingly trashy UK TV listings magazine What’s On TV.

Which shall we discuss first? The chap, or the text? Both are pretty eye-catching and engaging, and they both seem pretty well at ease with their juxtaposition in this pithy piece of work.
Let’s tackle the text first. Isn’t ‘agapanthus’ a super word? Makes you want to say it out loud in reverberating Shakespearian tones, doesn’t it?
My Lord! Come hence, the hour is late! Our great Roman general Agapanthus is waiting with his entourage without – weary, but jubilant, fresh from the bloody Battle of Amaryllidaceae – he will allow you audience straightway...’
No, agapanthus must be some attractive and desirable plant that you can send away for. I’m happy to say that I know nothing of plants, nor of that silly pastime known as gardening.
So, what about the chap? He could be a UK Conservative politician, spotted by the paparazzi who’ve tracked him down to his luxury country retreat after the ghastly scandal broke – or, and more likely, he’s just a striking character actor from some TV series. I don’t recognise, nor can I put a name to him, as I don’t watch such things. He’s looking decidedly gruff, isn’t he? Black leather jacket, didn’t bother shaving – looks like he’s about to come out with some vile expletive! I don’t think I’d like to cross his path on my jolly ramble through the woods.
I do like this card, I’m very pleased with it. Two clippings chosen almost at random – oh, what fun this is!…

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Some snatches of overheard pre-lockdown cafe conversation…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected colours are: mortar mauve, timber turquoise, concrete cream, plaster puce, rendering red, acrow azure, beam burgundy, and skip scarlet.

‘I have a cupsee sometimes Don…’
‘Really poorly, really poorly…’
‘Bob Wheezeness?’
‘This is why I always dopey-date Paul!’
‘I use depth all the time in ballet.’
‘The amount of Vaseline involved?…’
‘It was a major outlay for poor Bob.’
‘There was a lot more of Janet in Cardiff then?’
‘There were two share-bombs in my jacket pocket.’
‘It was far out – two £120 Jesuits!’
‘It was American in Paris spontaneous!’
‘So, poor Matthew tipped them off that she was going…’
‘Circumthing – a tickling house – ha ha ha ha!’
‘What? A laughing pike?’
‘She’s always padded when she is on the phone…’
‘A choppy-do darkness tablet?’
‘Zenobia royal carnage Lady Brown…’
‘That was at the time of her reflection Peter.’
For some information on how these lines are compiled, please click here.

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The undersea marauder began to whirl…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word, word.

So, what do you fancy today dear reader? Spacemen and spaceships floating about in the blue void? Gladiator antics? High jinks in a posh school? Raging wild animals running after plucky British chaps in a bouncy Land Rover? Yes, all that, and more is waiting for us in my battered and defaced old copy of the Lion Annual 1956.

Aha! But what’s happening here on page 47? This looks pretty thrilling!

No, but what would you do? Hang on, or let go and swim like hell? I’m glad I’m not in Don’s shoes – er, flippers! The thing is though, the killer shark must be pretty annoyed having a juicy pink human hanging onto his tail – I’m not sure whose side I’m on here!
Oh, just stop it Don!…

This is an illustration from a story by Peter Glassford called, The Sea-Bed Treasure Seekers, which features Don Craig. It opens with:
Don Craig’s face was bright with excitement as his head broke the surface of the smooth lagoon“This is it,’ he gasped, ‘drop the anchor Micky.”
Across the bottom of the page it says, in a more bold typeface, Savage Sharks Guarded a Pirate’s Loot – and Diving Dare-Devils Defied Them!

But it’s a lovely drawing, isn’t it? Nice bit of figure work eh? Just look at them thrash about! The graphic designers, the illustrators, never get a credit in books like this – they could have easily sneaked their initials into the corner of a drawing like this, but no, I expect the publishers wouldn’t allow it. Look at all those fine black lines! Are we actually underwater here, or are we splashing about on the surface? Doesn’t really matter, does it?
Would you like me to locate this sequence in the text dear reader – and find out how this titanic tussle turns out?
Ah, right – I’ve just had a look – the shark ate him.
Only kidding!… Ho ho!…
Actually, it’s even dafter than that – our hero, somehow, by curling and whipping around a bit, managed to push the tail into the shark’s mouth and managed to get it to bite its own tail – thus allowing Don to swim off unscathed!…
Still, this story is for kids!

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Oh no, it’s coming crashing through!…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s lovely stringed musical instrument is the Pipa: Click here to hear.

Yes, I like to leave a few days between my showing you the preparatory drawing for a lino print and the finished thing – the strategy to build up a bit of excitement and anticipation in my audience – that’s you dear reader.
Well, that one with the idea of a busted surrounding border, with something unpleasant crashing through is done – actually it was done several weeks ago (click here!) – I have quite a number of prints standing, and pacing about, and twiddling their thumbs, waiting in the wings.
‘”In the wings,” do you have wings, Dave?’

Lino Print. 2020. Oil-based ink on Japanese Kizuki 4 Monme paper, about A4 in size.

This is the sort of print that makes a crashing noise in the middle of the night, that wakes you up – and you lie there, in the accompanying silence, thinking, What the hell was that!?

It looks to me is if that great big lump shouldn’t be in the print at all, and that it has forced its way in unannounced. I must reinforce my borders – as heads of state seem to like to say these days.
My original idea was, just for a change, to put some movement into one of my prints. I think I’ve only partially succeeded here though. The top half of the composition has certainly got some action in it – just look at that splintering woodwork, and the bits and bobs frozen by the camera in mid-air as they fall!
The bottom half of the frame was a little bit more problematic – the blob (yes, let’s call it that) would probably look more natural if it had been resting on the bottom of the box (the box?), but that would imply that it had stopped moving, and as the original idea was for the design to be about showing movement, the whole project would have been completely stymied. (What the hell does stymied mean? It sounds alright though. Is it something to do with that ridiculous pastime, golf?)
That blob looks to me like it might smell a bit – possibly of mould, and charcoal, mouse droppings, and fustiness… Someone should come in with a shovel and take it away, and give the floor a good sweep afterwards…

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Some opening lines for stories never to be written…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s architectural term is Parvis. In France, the term for the open space around a church or cathedral. In England, a term wrongly applied to a room over a church porch.
Damn! I’ve been using the word wrongly all these years!…

Nancy Dancy wrapped the doubloon in her handkerchief and slipped it into her jeans’ watch pocket. She glanced over her shoulder; the museum attendant looked up and squinted at her and then held his communicator to his thin lips. Suddenly a growl, which sounded like that of a large and heavy animal came from the entrance of the Egyptian gallery at the far end. Nancy turned on her heel and fled…

The full moon was dropping like a slow silver coin into the cleft between two distant blue-grey peaks. Without making a sound, a tawny owl was patrolling the rough pasture; it dipped down and grabbed a quick scurrying field mouse. Mervyn leaned his bicycle against a ruined ash and took his pipe out of his jacket top pocket; his head tilted; the sound of the helicopter was thudding in from the west…

Donny, the fat old dictionary, edged slowly sideways along the shelf, passing in front of a block of solid Agatha Christies, he paused by Treasure Island for a moment and then closed in on Clarence the well-thumbed Poetry of the 20th c.; Clarence backed into the corner. Donny suddenly fluffed open his pages to display the entry for ‘cat’ and pushed Clarence off the bookshelf and onto the dirty tiled floor several feet below…

Di steered off the country road and stopped in the grassy entrance to a field of wheat – she switched the car radio on – she heard a story: ‘Di steered off the country road and stopped in the grassy entrance to a field of wheat – she switched  the car radio on – she heard a story: “Di steered off the country road and stopped in the grassy entrance to a field of wheat – she switched the car radio on – she heard a story…”‘

Sir Clement Rath helped the model boat out onto the lake with his walking stick; he aimed it towards his nemesis Professor Smellness sitting on the grass enjoying a ham sandwich in the sunshine on the opposite bank. The professor picked up a small beer bottle from his side and took a last swig from it. The little engine hummed and the propeller duly turned and splashed. Then, an empty beer bottle arced elegantly across the water and…

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Some cobbled together short, but pithy items…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: boxy, Bajocian, varsal, quotidian, lageniform, pterygoid, and woolly.

As you might know dear reader, I used to do these ‘short but pithy’ compilations quite regularly, but with the great lockdown I’ve not been getting out much, and I’ve certainly not been hanging about in trendy buzzing existentialist cafés, in search of ‘overheard remarks’ and ‘observations’. So, let’s see what I can scrape together for today’s post.

Excuses for being late. No. 444:
I’m sorry I’m late, but I got carried away sanitizing my guitar necks.

Overheard remarks:
I live in quite a rough street here in Dulltown, where people are, shall we say, refreshingly uninhibited? Yesterday evening I heard some raised female voices coming from out in the street. I went to my front window and looked out. A chubby middle-aged woman was taking the weight off leaning on her front fence, cigarette in mouth, beer can in hand. A very skinny younger woman was repeatedly pacing up and down in the middle of the road. The two were several yards apart, but were having a heated conversation – this is the shortened version:
‘No, I’ve told you, just fuck off! Fuck off!’
‘No, you fuck off!
‘I don’t fucking care!’
‘Fuck off yourself!’
‘Are you coming round later?’
‘Are you coming round later? I got some stuff.’
‘Fuck off!…’

A couple of days ago I was pottering about with lino printing in my little workshop, I had the radio on. All my favourite radio stations were unlistenable due to politics, economics, religion, poetry, etc., so I had BBC Radio 3 playing – it was jazz.
As I worked, I realised what the roles of the musicians in jazz are (I have never liked jazz, by the way). The sax player, and the piano player, and the vocalist, desperately try to not play or sing the tune of the song, the drummer is forbidden to play the actual rhythm of it, and the bass player is free to do whatever they like, as no one listens to them anyway.

Yes, but what about spam?
The spam keeps coming! Here’s a nice piece still squirming, fresh from my blog comments box. It seems to be from someone with the unlikely name of Priceatility:
What’s up friends, good article and nice arguments commented here, I am in fact enjoying by these. Thanks for auspicious write up. It actually was a amusement account it. Glance complex to far brought agreeable from you! However how could we keep in touch? I do not even know the way I finished up right here, but I believe this publish used to be good. I do not recognise who you might be but definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger should you aren’t already.
Well, thank you Priceatility! Indeed! I can take any amount of praise like this, although I do feel my writing style might be influenced word by your now text methodology. Nay, but do not hesitate to get into touching again more sooner! Best wishes from Dulltown UK!

I was chatting to a friend of mine about how bland and anodyne popular music has become over the last few decades – I mentioned that I remember when unusual and interesting things used to actually get into the music charts – such as this one! Can you imagine this appearing on TV now? Click here.

Yes, I’m thinking of changing my name to Holly Communion.

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Another lino idea…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dance is the Baishou Dance.
Come on! Let’s Baishou round the garden on the dewy grass – but don’t trip over that carelessly discarded rake!…

I don’t know how these ideas keep popping up, and whence they pop up; I suppose when I run out of the ideas for the things I’ll stop doing them, and I’ll have think of something else to do – I can’t imagine what though…
Yes, I’m talking about all these lino prints I keep knocking out; is this an addiction?

Look, here’s a design in its early stages, the picture was taken several weeks ago.

Yes, I must have been thinking that I should try to indicate some sort of movement in one of my prints, they are generally pretty static in nature. Oh, and by the way, don’t bother trying to view that smaller piece of paper under the banana at the top of the frame dear reader, that’s a drawing for a print that you have already seen – the one roughly based on a strange dream I had about some Henry Moore sculptures. (click)
Hm, my idea of getting a bit of movement into the image was to have the straight black border (which I generally have around all my prints) to be bashed in at the top and some stuff falling down into the composition through the hole. Look, you can see I have already drawn in the border and left a hole in it – just need some stuff to fall through now. It’s not much of an idea, but it’ll get me started. I wonder what was in that half-eaten sandwich? Obviously, I didn’t bother putting it (or the banana, which seems to be pretending to be a dolphin) on a plate when bringing it into my little workshop – it is sitting on the upside down mounted blank lino block for this forthcoming print. I do like to glue my lino to rectangles of plywood; it is to make them a bit more stable for the cutting and the printing side of things – without my doing that I’m sure that I’d find the lino really too annoyingly bendy and floppy. I wonder, perhaps the stuff falling down inside could be more bulbous and solid than those scattered bits I have drawn in; maybe something like a thin-skinned black bin bag almost bursting at its seams, and with bits of detritus tumbling out of it as it descends?… Hm, we’ll see…

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Smiling through the onions…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s made-up word is Tembrit. It does sound plausible, doesn’t it?
But Google just asked me if I meant: cembrit, termerit, tembria, or tembit?
No, Google, I meant Tembrit – are you sure you can’t find anything?…

Isn’t it funny when one is preparing one’s evening meal and, out of the blue, a photo opportunity pops up?

It’s probably a good idea to chop your onions on a piece of paper, say half a page from an old magazine (that can be straightway discarded) rather than on the surface one’s chopping board, even though it maybe made of glass.
That oniony flavour and scent are so very keen on spreading themselves around, aren’t they? What a way to later spoil a nice buttered teacake, or a buttered scone, when the taint of raw onion can be detected in your first mouthful – just because it has just been sliced in two on the contaminated and, as yet, unwashed board!
As you might have guessed, I don’t really do proper cooking and kitchen related things, and I certainly don’t watch those ridiculous programmes on the subject on TV. I’ve noticed though, that some people like to have a large wooden block with slots in it on their worktop, packed with plenty of shining black-handled knives of different sizes and shapes, (handy for the midnight intruder). Me, I have just the one knife. That’s it, in the photo. It’s an ancient old-fashioned serrated-edge bread knife with a bone handle. It cuts everything, it will even go straight into the slippery skin of a hard shiny tomato with no fussing!…
Those cascading slices of onion go so very well with her smile – I imagine she’s saying, ‘Hey! Look! Lovely healthy onions!…’

You may have noticed that I have posted similar photographs showing onions and faces on my cutting board before – but I don’t care, they are all slightly different you know…

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Lockdown with the apparitions…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dictionary words are: chechia, parvise, seton, wanty, introit, faldstool, and comburgess. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie’s lockdown-interactive-podcast-on-screen-lecture first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. The professor will appear as a moose avatar with very large antlers, and will be seen eating Shredded Wheat with milk and assorted dried fruits during the lesson.

No, no, but I’d love them to be real, wouldn’t you?
Eh? You know – ghosts, spirits of the dead, apparitions, revenants – then there’s your flying saucers! Wouldn’t you like to see one? I would! I mean, you know, not just a wobbly blurred thing on a shaky video. Why are there no decent photos of spectres, wraiths, and aliens? If they are real, as people claim, why are these things being so shy and evasive? Let’s have some decent crisp shots of the buggers!
I can, if I’m desperate enough, happily sit playing my guitar, watching one of these ghost hunting things on the TV – you know the sort of thing – where a couple of people, one M one F, usually cool bossy Americans, go creeping around derelict mental hospitals, dusty musty country houses, the murky cellars of spooky English inns. I sometimes jot down some of the dialogue and voice-over for use on these pages – oh, and at the start of the show it always clearly states: This programme is for entertainment purposes only:

Woo, it feels weird already – I can now feel a pain my back – are you a man named Johnny? – I feel my energy being drawn off me – Nicky, are you okay? – I’m connecting with a spirit now! – I felt hands touching my back – a bad human entity? – absolutely amazing! – apparitions, and shadow-figures! – it suddenly has a creepy vibe to it – what about that stairwell? – Oh!… What was that! – I feel it lurking in the area – the hairs on my arm stand up on edge – Holy shit! – Oh! Feel the vibrations! – I think I’m channelling the energy now – that door knob, it just turned – I need to get out of this! – did you just hear quiet footsteps and chattering? – I saw it, then it swayed, above my head! – a hot spot for paranormal activity! – it’s dark, dangerous, and dirty – half man half dog! – Whoa!… What’s that!…

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