Discarded vinyl flooring, anyone?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dictionary words are: amice, bellarmine, sempster, lansquenet, exarch, and tutenag. 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 students who have freckles.
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Or, could this be a piece of proper old-style linoleum?
I didn’t bother to crouch down and examine it, of course. What this thing is made of is of little importance, it was of course, its photogenic qualities that drew me in, well, maybe not drew me in, but let’s say, attracted my attention, and stopped me in my tracks, as I approached.
To me this piece of stuff looks old. I don’t think folk have such patterns on their floors these days. When it comes to interior design, I think people have, in recent years, cooled off a bit in their preferred colours. They seem to like ‘smooth and creamy’ and ‘sophisticated’ in their rooms, and especially in their kitchens – people who’ve got it available, seem to spend thousands on their kitchens – they probably invite groups of friends round, just to stand in it, grinning and admiring…

Anyway, what do you think, dear reader?
Is this a fragment, that missed going in (or jumped out of) the refuse bin, from a kitchen or a bathroom floor?
Ah, but it’s time that I paused in this blethering and showed you the actual photo – it is a nice one!

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I suppose it was the three-d effect of the design that attracted me – cubes in blue, black, and white – but the original designer has messed with his or her cubes a bit, so that they are deliberately confusing, a puzzle for the eye. This pattern has the feel of three-dimensionality, but with the three-d drastically upset.
But then, if the thing had been made up of proper cubes, I think people would feel uneasy walking on it, I know I would – you’d think that you’d cockle over and twist your ankle any minute – a bit like when you are visiting an ancient church or cathedral that has one of those diagonal black and white pattern tiled floors with apparent depth. Mind you, I always feel uneasy in churches anyway…

There we go then, not a bad photograph.
I like the way the distant car has one light glowing – it is, almost, at the centre point of all those nice radiating lines.

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Misheard classical singing on the BBC…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s word, which people, especially on the TV and radio, love to mispronounce is ‘mischievous’. Perhaps they think that they are being clever, and possibly a bit mischievous, saying it with four syllables instead of the normal three, ‘mis-chiev-i-ous’? Three, is the correct way!
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Yes, I’ve been busy pottering about in my little workshop again; I decided to make an improved version of my ‘curve cutting’ tool, the Mark 1, for use when cutting arcs on lino blocks for printing. Do click here to see the original It has worked quite well, but I have had a few ideas on how to make it more efficient and much easier to use. This is called ‘research and development’.
Of course, I had the radio playing as I worked, but the channels that I can stand to listen to became so repetitive and tedious, I switched to the BBC’s classical station and had the choral and operatic music gushing along in the background instead – as I filed, and hacksawed, and drilled, and sandpapered, my afternoon away:

‘I put out the cedar oak grain to gain again!’
‘You can fall off an inch now, dear!’
‘Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!…’
‘Oh, thirst along! Milk-cull sekkles – and not seeking love!’
‘He-ho!… Worms… towels… boxes… alleluia!’
‘Oh, and then I must darn… I darn!… Oh, oh, oh, oh!’
‘Nonny-no! You pig-town lush!…’
‘Warm ho! Warm ho! Ah… Ah… Ah!…’
‘To whipple?… Yes, I go now!…’
‘Farmer Dizz! You, are a power, leaning on me!’
‘Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah… Ah, ah, ah!…’
‘I – I – I believe in tomato!…’
‘Waggy waggy waggy, wee-woe!’
‘Oh, waggy waggy, no!…’

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It is Sunday, isn’t it?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s letter of the alphabet is the capital Z, pronounced ‘zed’ here, but ‘zee’ in other places. The Z has never got on with the other letters, they think that he’s a bit snobby, and that he thinks he’s better than the rest, just because he looks like a serene swan.
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‘I’m sorry, but I really must be off now…’
‘Oh?’
‘I’ve got to take the dog to church – it is Sunday today, isn’t it?’
‘Yes it is… Er, your dog? Bobbo?…’
‘No, she’s called Godot.’
‘Godot?’
‘Yes, but she used to be called Bobbo.’
‘I see…’
‘Do you?…’
‘So, you are off to church this evening, then?’
‘Yes, but I won’t go in, I’ll just take Godot and let her go in, on her own…’
‘Hm…’
‘What do you mean, “Hm…”?’
‘Well, I thought that your family all went to church.’
‘Well, we did, but…’
‘But what?’
‘Well, after all these years, we finally saw the dark.’
‘The dark?’
‘Yes.’
‘Don’t you mean the light?’
‘No, when people discover the true religion, they see the light, but eventually, after many years of faith, we all suddenly saw the dark.’
‘I see…’
‘Do you?’
‘No, not really… What about your husband, Roddy…?’
‘Toddy,’
‘Yes, Toddy, of course, he was always so mad keen on…’
‘Religious stuff?’
‘Hm…’
‘Oh he was! But all that changed when one night he was watching a programme on the television…’
‘On the television?’
‘Yes, it was about dogs. He explained it all to us afterwards.’
‘I see.’
‘Do you?’
‘I think so… So, this programme?’
‘While watching the dogs running about, and scampering, and frolicking, and chasing each other, and grinning, and yapping…’
‘Yapping?’
‘Yes, Toddy, realised that Godot was the only one in the family who actually enjoyed going to church, and of course she was the only one who didn’t have to chip in when the collecting bowl came round…’
‘No, I suppose not.’
‘We always slipped a little dog biscuit in the bowl on her behalf, though.’
‘Of course… Why do you think that Bobbo, er… Godot, likes the church so much, and still wants to go?’
‘It’s the singing, of course. She always sits at the back and joins in with the hymns and things.’
‘Hymns and things?’
‘Yes…’
‘Does she howl?’
‘Oh yes, at the top of her voice.’
‘Don’t the congregation mind?’
‘Oh course not, Godot is one of God’s creatures you know! She always manages to be fairly close to the  key that the hymn’s in, too!’
‘The hymn’s in… I see…’
‘Do you?’
‘I think so. Tell me…’
‘Yes?’
‘Aren’t you ever still tempted to go in with her?’
‘Oh no, not now we’ve seen the dark!’
‘And Godot, she hasn’t seen the dark yet, then?’
‘Not yet, but she loves the music so much, and of course she’s only a dog you know!’
‘Of course she is…’
‘Anyway, I must go and pick her up – she mustn’t be late going in! Oh, she’d be so embarrassed, barging in after the service had started. Everyone would turn and stare at her, and she doesn’t like that!’
‘I see…’
‘Do you?…’

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So, are you planning a zig-zag one?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s cuttlefish is the one soon to be announced as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to go alongside our new octopus Prime Minister.
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Well, I suppose the title of today’s post tells it all. Once you’ve read it, and glanced at the photograph, there’s not really much else to say.
Still…

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Mm… it’s very zig-zaggy, isn’t it, Dave?
Ah, at the start, I forgot to say, this, dear reader, shows a preliminary sketch of an idea for yet another lino print.

Just look at that heap of lino cutting tools!
Colourful, aren’t they?
You see, when you are cutting and chiselling away, and you suddenly decide that you need, say, a really tiny chisel, to get some fiddly reluctant triangle of lino out of a tight V-shaped corner, and you go to the pile of tools, you don’t really want to be poking around peering at the sharp end of every tool, just to find the one you want – no, no, if you have colour-coded the handles of your tools with bright paint or sticky tape, you can easily locate the one you seek. So, to get that fiddly reluctant triangle removed, I would be able to quickly grab the bright pink one.
The black and yellow stripes is the flat chisel, the red one is the curved chisel, a bit like a small gouge, the fluorescent green is also a tiny chisel, but slightly bigger than Mr Pink, the black one, which is skulking there in the shadows, is a handy small one with a cutting edge about an eighth-of-an-inch (4 mm) wide. Then there’s my trusty, horribly sharp, pointy-beaked Swann-Morton scalpel, which also has a flash of fluorescent pink on it to make it stand out, you certainly don’t want to grab the wrong end of that spiteful thing!

It was a while ago, that I decided to have a stab at lino printing – just after seeing an exhibition of lovely, and striking, German Expressionist woodcuts, that was visiting the Dulltown Art Gallery. But I didn’t fancy working with wood, it’s far too hard – so I bought some lino and a set of ‘lino cutting tools’ from an arts and crafts shop – but I have never used the tools. They seem to be designed for people who generally like to do lino prints with lots of  fine lines on them – you know the sort of thing – woodland scenes, intricate birds and animals, ruined castles in moonlight, yachts bobbing in harbours… No, that’s not me at all.
I went back to the art shop and got a set of ‘wood-carving tools’, small ones – I found them more suitable for what I wanted to do – they are the ones in the heap with the round wooden handles.
Some of them there are tools that I have made too. If you buy a cheap set of  ‘mini-screwdrivers’, you can grind the business ends down into tiny sharp chisels, and glue them into the ends of bits of dowel, as handles – a bit like Mr Pink mentioned above – if you look carefully, you can see that he is an ex-screwdriver.

Yes, this print is going to feature some zig-zags.
Perhaps a better title for this post might have been, ‘Tool Time with Uncle Dave’.

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Just a few short, but pithy items…

But first…
Dulltown UK: Today’s marvellous fish names are: the Bigeye Squaretail, the Flying Gunnard, the Hamlet, the Cow Shark, the Luminous Hake, the Peppered Corydoras, and the Titan Triggerfish. Which one of these would you ask for in your local fish and chip shop to go with your mushy peas and chips?
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Excuses for being late. No. 472,
I’m sorry I’m late, but I became engrossed while taking some bits up with my Bex-Bissell.

A single overheard remark:
So, did he do the do-it?…’

On BBC radio:
I just heard a reporter on a science programme say, in an enthusiastic voice, ‘Lots and lots and lots and lots of freckles.’
And they say that the BBC isn’t dumbing down.
Oh, and two hours later, on the business and finance programme, someone referred to, ‘Lots and lots and lots of people…’
Ah, well! Looks like that’s the way it’s going then!

Yesterday, I was holding my ten year old little Nikon Coolpix camera by its wrist strap, when the strap suddenly parted company with the camera. I was on the upstairs landing at the time; the camera, which was not in its usual pouch, bounced noisily down a full flight of stairs, hit the tiled floor of the hall with a loud clunk, bounced a couple of times, and then slithered halfway to the front door.
I went down to have a look. There was not a mark, nor a dent on it – it was completely unscathed and was fully working when I switched it on.

Photography:
The sad thing about people who take really boring photographs, is that they don’t know a good one when they see it.

At this point in the proceedings, I usually include a link to one of my favourite ‘records’ from the past.
Yesterday, I was pottering about in my workshop with the MP3 player coming through the speakers, when I was stopped in my tracks (even though I wasn’t actually making any tracks at the time) by Howlin’ Wolf singing Wang Dang Doodle from 1960. I’ve heard it many times, but I was struck once again by how marvellous it was.
Apart from Wolf’s voice, clock that relentless train-like rhythm! And notice Hubert Sumlin’s guitar’s  nicely placed bell-like single notes, an octave apart, in alternate bars! Genius!…
Do click here to hear!

Yes, but what about some spam, Dave?
Oh, alright then.
Look, here’s something just arrived from someone with the unlikely name of  Elk-Musker:
Excellent items from you, man. I’ve taken into account your stuff previous to and you are just extremely magnificent. I really like what you’ve got here, really like what you’re stating and the way through which you are saying it. You are making it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it smart. I can’t wait to learn much more from you. This is really a tremendous website!
Thank you for getting in touch Elk-Musker – so, you didn’t think much of my piece then?…

Yes, I’m thinking of changing my name to Tess Tickles.

A single overheard remark:
‘But I’m in natural light now, Joan!…’

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Abstraction and serendipity…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s weather will feature: high up boxy-looking clouds, brown leaves swirling in wet gutters, sparrows ganging together and shouting, chill breezes going up sleeves, a grey aerial wall in the east and a maroon light with streaky brush marks showing, in the west.
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Dear reader, you probably recall seeing some pieces of work not unlike this before.
This effect (is this an effect?) is achieved on the glass plate that I roll the black ink onto when doing my lino prints. (I just accidentally typed ‘lion’ prints! It’s easily done.)
When I’ve finished the printing session, and before I get into the messy business of clearing up the ink from the glass with a couple of sheets of kitchen towel and some white spirit, (white sprit, that sounds like some dodgy US right-wing group!) I scrape a few carefree patterns into the ink with a little palette knife, plonk a sheet of the printing paper onto it and give it a gentle rub with a finger. It’s all very quick.
Some people prefer these to my actual prints, ones which I have sweated blood over for several hours! How annoying is that?…
Come on, let’s have a look at today’s offering!

Decalomania monoprint. 2021. Oil-based ink on Japanese paper, about A4 in size.

Look at all those ‘subtle’ greys. Funny really, because there’s no grey ink involved, it is of course all black. The eye mixes the tiny specks of black on the white paper into grey – clever things eyes – I’m very glad we’ve got ’em.
I’m not going to bother talking about the forms and the subtle intended ‘meaning’ in this one, but I will say that perhaps it looks a bit, er… floral…
Just looking at it, I think I might like this transferred onto a nice white t-shirt – hm, but with a thicker black border.

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One over the bogies at the ends…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s quotation is yet another from Flann O’Brien’s very strange 1930s novel, The Third Policeman:
The bicycle itself seemed to have some peculiar quality of shape or personality which gave it distinction and importance far beyond that usually possessed by such machines. It was extremely well-kept with a pleasing lustre on its dark green bars and oil bath and a clean sparkle on the rustless spokes and rims. Resting before me like a tame domestic pony, it seemed unduly small and low in relation to the Sergeant…
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Today, dear reader, we shall again be delving into that smelly old junk shop book of mine, the Daily Express Enquire Within from 1934. Perhaps you’d like a look at the title page to put you in a suitable mood for such things?

DSCN4009It’s funny to think, well I think it is, that this book was on the go just as Flann O’Brien was writing that above quoted beautiful, yet crazy, novel. Maybe it’s not funny to think that, but I thought that I’d mention it anyway.
This weighty, slightly tatty book, is a compendium of information, advice, and facts that would have been useful for living your nice British middle-class life back then – a wide range of topics is covered, but there’s nothing in it to suggest that something called WWII might be lurking just around the corner…
Across the head of each page there are some pithy words of wisdom, a proverb, or a historical fact, to amuse and educate as you thumb through – perhaps you are looking for information on how you can take your neighbour to court regarding his moving of the boundary fence into your property by a good three inches? I will include some of these items with today’s selection:

Page 484. (A letter-box saves many knocks.)
Travelling Made Easy:
Seats may be booked in advance at a fee of one shilling. Thus, in the through-carriage, third class from London to Aberdeen, you may secure, for example, the corner seat with back to the engine on the side facing the open country and not the corridor, should you so desire it. The experienced traveller takes care to secure a seat in the middle of a carriage when possible, as being more comfortable than one over the bogies at the ends.

Page 274. (The fat man knoweth not what the lean thinketh.)
Ointments and Cerates:
Catechu. – Mix one ounce of powdered catechu, two teaspoons and a half of powdered alum, one ounce of powdered white resin, and two ounces and a half of olive oil, together.
Use for flabby and indolent ulcerations.

Page 66. (Pen and ink are the best witnesses.)
Oyster Fritters:
Make a batter of flour, milk and eggs: season with very little milk and nutmeg. Beard the oysters, and put as many as you think proper in each fritter.

Page 426. (Gold has more worshippers than God.)
Knitting:
Purling.- The right-hand needle is slipped in the loop in front of the left-hand one, and the thread, after passing between the two, is brought round it; it is then worked as before. The thread is always brought forward before beginning a purled stitch, unless particular directions to the contrary are given.

Page 124. (Publication of Banns of Marriage commenced AD 1210.)
Laws of Croquet:
v. The following are considered foul strokes:
(a) To strike with the mallet another ball instead of, or besides one’s own in making a stroke.
(b) To spoon, that is, to push or pull, his ball when in contact with another ball without an audible knock; or to pull or push his ball when not in contact with another ball, whether he first strike it audibly or not.
(c) To strike the ball twice in the same stroke.

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But you can see the logic in it, can’t you?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected colours are: eagle emerald, finch fawn, buzzard blue, lark lilac, gull green, yellowhammer yellow, vulture violet, merlin mauve, and red red robin red.
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Hey up! What’s this?…

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No, I am sorry dear reader – this one is rather… er… What’s the word? Miserable? Depressing? Grim? Annoying?

But what did you think of the title for this post?
I often walk past, this… this scene – and I have noticed that it changes from day to day.
Sometimes, as I walk on, I ponder on why the junk and litter congregates here; the rest of the pathway and cycle track going towards town being relatively free of such detritus.
I have come to the conclusion that it all stems from that little metal box sitting there on its stick.

I think the box used to have its door closed, and probably locked; there is evidence that it had wires and connectors of some kind living in it; perhaps it was something to do with telephones, or mains electricity – I wouldn’t know.
Why does it attract all that stuff? Why is it a magnet for rubbish?
I think the psychology might run like this:

We could start with the idea that generally only ne’er-do-wells and nitwits unthinkingly drop their rubbish in the street, and there are plenty of ne’er-do-wells and nitwits living in this part of town.
When they are strolling along, drinking from their tins and eating from their packets of sugary salty junk food, and then suddenly find that they need to get rid of the containers, they probably just relax the fingers of the hand holding the item, and it falls to the ground, and out of their world.
But, I suspect that a few of these people might have, in the good old primitive brain, a vague memory from childhood that it is a ‘bad thing’ to do, and also that the action might be illegal.
So, you are sauntering along, with your empty drinks can in your hand, just about to let it drop, and you notice some other people nearby, and you feel ever so slightly uneasy about attracting their attention with the sound of the can hitting the ground.
What do you do? Well, as you pass the aforementioned metal box, you just put your can on the top of it, or, better still, if the door happens to be open, inside.
Of course, once your can is there, it will attract other pieces – the idea being that if one is challenged by an officer of the law, one can say, ‘Yes constable, but I only added my titchy little item to this existing pile!…’
Yes, you see, discarded rubbish loves company, and a little island of junk is formed.
When the box is full, the convention is that it is acceptable to dump your stuff nearby, but it must somewhere within the box’s (slowly expanding) ‘territory’.

This is not a great photograph, but it has given me the chance to rant on a bit…
If I were to give this photo a title, it would be, ‘The Very Attractive Box’.

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Mayonnaise in the rain…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: sopping, subitaneous, parthenogenetic, importunate, vulpine, adaxial, and risible.
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On Tuesday afternoon, I strolled into town.
I was heading for the Wilko store to buy a tin of blackboard paint; a hard-wearing water-based formulation which is, of course, a non-glossy black. But I seemed to recall that it is not called that any more – it probably sounds too old fashioned. I think it’s known as ‘One Coat, Interior Wood, 030 Intense Black, Satin’ now. I do like the idea of  black being ‘intense’! Do they still have ‘blackboards’ and chalk in schools? I wouldn’t know. I was hoping that the paint in the tin would be the same as the old stuff.
When I construct a new shelf, or some other wooden item of furniture for use around the house, I generally paint it with this stuff. It’s something I learned in my days of doing theatre stage design – if you don’t want people to notice something on your set, you paint it matt black – that strategy works very nicely around one’s house too.

Anyway, Tuesday seemed to be a pleasant enough day, but as I approached the city centre the sky darkened, the clouds lowered, and unusually big round drops of rain started to fall and speckle the pavements – happily, I had a small expanding umbrella in my shoulder bag, I got the thing out and pressed the shiny button – it obligingly popped up.
Five minutes later, as I stood waiting for the pedestrian crossing lights to go green, listening to the gentle thud, thud, thud, of the rain drops on the brolly cloth, a male voice, very close to my ear, spoke:

‘You don’t mind if I join you under here, do you, Davy-Boy? It’s raining fucking stair rods!’
Yes, it was Tony Mayonnaise, ne’er-do-well scruffy poet from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League. He was so close I could smell the beer and cigarettes on his breath.
‘Where are you going?’
Wilkos,’ I responded. We crossed the shiny, wet road as if glued together.
‘I’ll bet you can’t guess what’s in the Surrealist Van this month?… Are you still doing that awful internet blog thing?’
‘Yes, of course I am… Tony, can I ask you a question?’
‘Go ahead Davy-Boy.’
‘Why don’t you go and sit in your van, out of the rain? Instead of snuggling up to me under my brolly!’
‘Ah, well, right – it’s parked right over there, in the shopping centre, and…’
‘Oh, you’ve passed your driving test then?’
‘Oh, shut up! You know it’s not a real van, it’s a virtual one, Dave!’
‘A virtual one?’
‘Yes… Would you like me to accompany you into the shop?’
‘Not really… I suppose you want me to include the list of stupid contents of your, surrealist, er, virtual van, in my blog this week?’
‘Yes, I think I will allow you to do that…’
‘That’s big of you…’
‘Anyway, I can’t come into Wilkos with you, I’m banned from that one…’
‘Oh, yes, of course you are…’

A cold smirk and a warm smile trapped inside a clear plastic bottle.
The word ‘bolder’ painted in white on a giant boulder.
Two giant centipedes playing chess on a brown doormat.
A 1952 Fender Telecaster guitar and amp that once belonged to Her Majesty the Queen.
A boiled sweet once sucked and spat out by Charles Darwin.
A freshly opened bag of cement with raisins and cherries sprinkled on top.
The word ‘Juxtaposition’ in foot-high upper case letters cast in solid gold.
Six tonnes of prawn cocktail crisps dropped from a helicopter onto Windsor Castle.
A loud embarrassed gasp caught in a wooden egg cup.
A large portrait of Madonna made entirely of strawberries.
A medium-sized planet infested with humans.
One of Cosimo de’Medici’s tooth brushes.

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Is this another puzzle picture, Dave?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s walrus is the one sitting on a park bench looking at saucy pictures of narwhals on her laptop.
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Ha! I’ll bet you can’t guess what this is!
No, it’s alright, dear reader, don’t expect you to.

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Well, firstly – some of you, the arty ones, might recognise the green thing around the edges, and also that is visible through that round hole. Yes, it’s one of those self-healing, green plastic boards that are used for safely cutting things on with sharp craft knives, scalpels, etc. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the object that rests on it, and which hogs most of the composition – I just placed the item on the board to make the picture slightly more aesthetically pleasing – the colours do go nicely together though, don’t they?
Oh, and by the way, this object is not an artwork – nor should it be seen as one!

It does look old and mucky, and it looks pretty ‘well used’. And, what has caused that circle, and why has it got a hole through it in the top left-hand corner? Oh, and why does it seem to go darker around the edges? Is it made of cloth? It looks like cloth.
See how I’m trying to put myself into your shoes, dear reader…

Alright, here we go: it’s explanation time!
It’s to do with lino prints. ‘Oh, what a surprise!’ I hear you say.
When you’ve got your lino block cut and ready for printing, the next step is to get some ink onto it with the use of a roller. By the way, I like to mount my lino on rectangles of plywood, it makes it easier to cut, and it stops the buggers from flopping and jumping about too much when you are trying to work on them.
I found that if I just put the block down on the bench and apply my inky roller to it, it would tend to rock slightly on the uneven surface, and also it would slide about annoyingly under the movement of the roller.
What I needed was some of that textured anti-slip plastic ‘fabric’, available, at a moderate price, from one’s local hardware store. That is what you are seeing above. It is glued onto a piece of thin plywood, and the plywood also has a couple of bits of the stuff stuck underneath to stop the thing itself from sliding about on the bench when the enthusiastic rollering is going on.

So, that’s it. That is what it is.
The lino block sits there, roughly in the middle, and the darkness towards the edges is produced when tiny droplets of ink spray off the roller. Subtle, isn’t it?
But why has it got that round hole in it, Dave?
Ah…
Ah?…
Yes, when a print has just been done, I generally place it on this surface to have a good look at it, and see if there are any alterations to be made, or if the print has any mistakes or blemishes on it.
Blemishes?
Hm… And, as the nice Japanese paper I use is very thin, it is surprisingly difficult to pick up off the ‘rubbery’ surface – I drilled a hole in the board to poke a forefinger through from underneath to make the paper much easier to pick up…
But what about those blemishes you mentioned?
Oh, I have ways of dealing with those…
And, what about that ring-like dark stain? Perhaps it was from a tea mug, Dave?
Possibly, but I have no recollection of when that appeared…

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Some overheard and misheard snatches of café conversation…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dictionary words are: yaupon, haustellum, datolite, obang, dismayl, and acosmism. 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 rouge, and in the garb of a Victorian music hall comedienne, you should not allow this to interfere with your studies.
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‘No, not ecstatic!’
‘A cosmic feel, revealed?
‘A picture of nature, bored?’
‘A neighbour winked, Tony?’
‘A dyke? Around the corner?’
‘Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…’
‘It is the measure of a good book.’
‘Look at it in an age of clag Peter!’
‘He was doing three-cornered wood!’
‘Pick another quick dimension, Carol!’
‘Deep talking, and the wall anthology?…’
‘It starts to come in, just like a train, Peter.’
‘Oh, those velvet story books, those trees!…’
‘And what is the size of your colour sergeant?’
‘It was just a tag-farce in Cottingham, you know!’
‘Take your name, and your symbols of man and culture!’
….
Note: I think the people sitting around the nearby café table were all writers.
For an explanation on how lines like this are compiled, you could click here.

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Is that a building in the sky, then?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s stick of rhubarb is the one that is almost straight.
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A few days ago, dear reader, I showed you a photograph of some ripped up cheapskate magazines in the company of a scrap of paper that had a sketched idea for a lino print on it. Click here.
In the drawing it looked like there might be some windows, well little inverted ‘L-shapes’, that could be seen as windows, in the sky, up amongst the clouds.
Well, the lino block was eventually marked out and cut, and a print or two done, but as you see, the things in the sky have somehow morphed into a complete, er, building…

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Lino Print. 2021. Oil-based ink on thin Japanese paper, about A4 in size.

Do you see the works, like this, that I regularly come up with, as puzzles?
Is this a real scene? It’s not very ‘realistic’ is it? Mind you, it’s not ‘abstract’ either.
I suppose that has to be a sky, and those must be stars, sprinkled in the darkness?
Wispy clouds? And of course, there are those repeated elements (‘elements’ – that always makes it sound like I know what I’m talking about!), those inverted ‘L’-shapes…
Oh, to hell with it! Let’s call them windows!
I’m pretty sure that the things occupying the lower half of the composition must be buildings – and they are obviously lit from the right, you can tell by the window hole shadows.
Me, I keep glancing up at the thing in the sky – the more I look at it, the less it looks like a building. It seems too ‘thin’ for a building – what does it look like then?
Could it be a waffle? A giant waffle with three of its holes blocked up? Why do waffles have those square holes in them?
Oh, I’ve just noticed – that rectangular area, where the blocked up waffle holes are, looks a lot whiter than the rest of the surface that has the windows.- that is odd, do you see that too, dear reader? Or is it, perhaps, just an optical delusion?…
And what about those two black equilateral triangles, with white spots in the middle, Dave?
Ah, right, well – when I was designing this one, the spaces to the left and right at the bottom looked a bit empty – I needed a couple of suitable ‘forms’ to pop in, to occupy them.
But why black equilateral triangles, with white spots in them, Dave?
Eh?… Well, I… Oh, I don’t know!
Hey! This is only a bloody little lino print, you know – not the sodding Mona Lisa!…

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Ghosts?… Badgers?… RLF?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s weather will feature: nippy edges, draughts up sleeves, slippy-sloppy walking, a splash in the eye, gusts up trouser legs and skirts, greasy leaves underfoot, flying litter, and, a gloriously coloured sunset.
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You may recall that my post yesterday was about those TV shows with people sneaking around old, dusty buildings, looking for ghosts. Click here!
As I was writing it, and occasionally trying to think up alternative words for such entities, (‘entity’ is a good word for one!) I remembered the chap who wrote most of those 1960s British pulp science fiction and supernatural novels, those Badger Books, that I used to feature on these pages – Robert Lionel Fanthorpe SMBIS.
How about one of the book covers to remind you, dear reader?

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Yes, apparently he turned out one of these books every couple of weeks for several years, probably just for the money, but they do have a special and unique charm to them. I started collecting Badger Books many years ago, I have a couple of shelves bulging with them.

So, back to yesterday’s post.
Yes, alternative words for ghosts, etc. When doing his writing for the  Badgers, RLF, in order to get the word count up to the required number set by the publisher (Badgers were always 158 pages long), would blatantly copy stuff out of encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.
I once tried to make a short film on Badger Books and RLF – I found the old shooting script, which included a paragraph or two taken from one of the books which discusses the names of such entities, these supernatural beings – which I thought that I might share with you today:

There were witches and demonesses there, there were elemental spirits and peculiar dwarfs and trolls. There were hobgoblins and kobolds, there were flibbertigibbets and imps, there were sprites and hobs. There were changelings, pigwidgeons, poltergeists, and gremlins, there were evil spirits and dark departed shades: there were zombies and revenants, there were haunters and walkers, spectres and apparitions, phantoms and phantasms, in uncountable numbers.
Brendan Casey saw hideous shapes and shades; he saw wraiths and prescences, doppelgangers, cacodemons, and familiar spirits. There were vampires and lycanthropes, were-folk, incubi, succubi, furies, harpies and gorgons, there were things there which the limited mythological knowledge of Casey was unable to classify…

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Let’s try down in the cellar…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s wrinkled old black and white snapshot is the one of me and President Nixon laughing and sharing a hot dog on a busy street in New York in 1970.
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Phew!
There seem to be plenty of TV series based on a couple of rather nebulous subjects running at the moment – ones about UFOs, and others about ghosts. New variations on these two themes seem to pop up every week!
Do I watch such things?
Well, I…
Sometimes I might watch a ghost hunting one – it’s amazing how those plucky serious-faced presenters, as they creep about in old echoing and dirty abandoned buildings, manage to squeeze so much out of so little. Mind you, they do have modern electronic ‘ghost and spirit detecting’ gadgets at their disposal now. These are generally clever little hand-held devices – but they look a bit too ‘flashy’ for my taste – not at all ‘scientific’, they always have pulsing coloured lights on them, more like an eye-catching stage prop that you might see waved about by an enthusiastic actor in a play for children.
Sometimes, as I sit, twanging pitch-bending blues riffs on my guitar, watching one of these spook-driven shows, I occasionally reach out, grab a pen and jot down some of the voice-over and the whispered utterances of the pale-faced paranormal investigators, as they explore their dusty corridors, staircases, and dark cellars – and as they attempt to engage the interest of the departed…

Can you feel any masses of energy? – are you moving, in this room? – it is to get intelligency back from beyond – are we introducing our energy? – this really shakes us up! – it’s so hard to get it out of your head!… – I feel some, thing is watching us – I feel fluctuations, through different frequencies! – oh shit! what was that!… – new intelligent responses? – I’m going to the bathroom – whose soul is inhabiting here? – I’ll start up the Geo-Port now – speak to us!… – what the fuck was that? – one voice just went ‘yes’ – no, it came skipping straight towards me! – something, just brushed my shoulder! – show us, where you are… – look, there is pieces of stone! – I heard something heavy just shift again, above! – to sleep in the attic? – show us who you are!… – this is really terrifying! – use the thermal camera! – ah! something just touched my back!… whoa!…

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Is it really that sort of town?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected colours are: lettuce lemon, broccoli blue, rocket red, parsnip purple, onion orange, parsley pink, turnip turquoise, carrot crimson, and avocado azure.
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Mm, yes, it was early evening, I was walking back home from the supermarket, cutting across, where the cars are parked, just by the…

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Yes, look, they have even painted a yellow criss-cross grid on the concrete.
Is it really that sort of area? And why would the Dulltown City Council have taken the trouble to write it in big white letters on the walkway?

Hello… there’s definitely a strong and distinct whiff of cannabis smoke coming from one of those open windows… is that very smelly one called ‘skunk’?… I think I’ve heard people say that…
Oh?… Hello? Who’s this, standing in the shadow of the doorway?
‘Hello Darlin’, are you looking for business?’
‘Eh? Business?… Oh, no, thank you very much, though… Do, have a… Er, nice evening…’
‘You too, dear – are you sure you don’t want to…’
‘No, no, I’m fine thanks…’

No, I’m just kidding with you, dear reader – it’s not that sort of area at all, at least, I don’t think it is.
The words painted on the concrete actually say, ‘Service Area – No Parking’.
As I approached, I immediately spotted the possibility of an amusing word-play photograph. I put my shopping bag down and took my little camera out. With a bit of careful peering at the screen, and shuffling about, I managed to get a reasonably good composition framed. Click, went the shutter!

On the left, you see the lower part of a block of flats, there are two or three of these blocks in this area; there are quite tall, about fourteen stories high. I think the idea of the white painted notice and the yellow grid pattern on the ground is to discourage people from parking their cars at the foot of them.
The reasoning is pretty obvious.
Just imagine some sad ne’er-do-well, or two, living in one of the higher flats, looking down at the shiny coloured tops of a bunch of parked cars – imagine the temptation, to nip out onto your balcony, and drop something heavy on one of them – the acceleration and final velocity of the object due to gravity would be quite significant from that height…
When the police turn up some time later, I think they’d find it pretty difficult deciding which flat the falling object originated. Imagine the miscreants, sitting, giggling silently, with all the lights switched off, in their little room…

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Some more Crush names?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s quotation is another from Flann O’Brien’s very strange 1930s novel, The Third Policeman:
‘MacCruiskeen says that would be a third mistake. And not like a bowl-full of dry withered peas, either. A contrary pancake surely, a fingerish atrocity but not without a queer charm all its own.’
‘Not hens’ piniony under-wing feeling?’ I questioned keenly.
The Sergeant shook his head abstractedly…

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A sort of acquaintance of mine, Veronica Crush, writer from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, now living in New York with tall tree surgeon and heir to a multimillion dollar fortune, Monty Tick, gets in touch with me occasionally. I had a postcard, a colourful aerial shot of the Grand Canyon glowing at dusk, from her this morning.
She didn’t say much on it, but she did include, in tiny writing, a new list of her spare character names for me to share with the world on these pages; to possibly share with young budding writers who struggle to come up with memorable names for the characters they infest their stories and novels with.
Isn’t is awful when you are reading a book and the names pinned onto the inhabitants are so anodyne that you forget which person is which in the plot? Whereas, if the characters had unusual and memorable names, one might stand a better chance of getting through the book without chucking it across the room in exasperation.
Here are some of Veronica’s spare names – do feel free to use them, free of charge!
As usual, V has mischievously slipped a real person’s name in there, see if you can spot it. The solution to her little puzzle may be found via the link at the foot of the page.

Dame Evelyn Snatters
Fra Filippo Lippi
Horace Blackheart MA
Amanda Meltz-Cumly
Polly Palladium
Big Jeff Poops
Garfield T Buzztetter III
Lorenzo Hoof-Toms RA
Melody Dink
Lord Jeremy Oxmug QC
Ursula Mond
Lady Rachel Tank-Seeping
Darren Stealthy
Admiral Sir John Updown-Cowes
Tommy ‘the snake’ Winterhouse
Myrna Dishcloth
Melvyn Stanque
….
Please click here for the solution to V’s puzzle.

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Trashy magazines and fine art…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s ancient Egyptian deity is the one appearing as a cobra, the goddess Renenutet. Her associations are: harvest, war, and nursing. Click.
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Hey up! This seems to be a rough design sketch for another lino print!

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Hm… I wonder when, and where, I came up with that idea?
The drawing is on lined paper. It looks like it came from a cheap little notepad or jotter. I don’t remember having one of those, perhaps I borrowed one from someone when I suddenly had an unexpected flash of inspiration?
And what about that awful, but busy, background?
It seems to be a pile of ripped up magazines – the one on top seems to be called ‘Chat – it’s fate’ – where did that come from? Did I, for some reason, buy it?
Why would I…?
Oh, yes, I probably grabbed a copy whilst sauntering around the supermarket one afternoon, when at the back of my mind I was eagerly on the look-out for suitable images to paste onto those ‘mail art postcards’ that I do.

Have I got a question for Jenna?
No, I haven’t, but I might glance at Barry Dodd’s Haunted Britain… No, no, not really!
Hang on! Who’s that cheeky-looking ginger chap grinning at us around the edge of my drawing? His face is vaguely familiar – perhaps he’s a pop star – perhaps it is Ed Sheeran?…

Dear reader, you may have noticed that I seem to be avoiding talking about the drawing, that is patiently sitting there waiting, and discussing the future lino print that will eventually blossom from it – I wonder why I put a question mark next to the image, maybe I wasn’t quite sure if this design would be any good…
Well, we seem to have a set of buildings with ‘upside down L’-shapes for windows (I do like doing those! They are so easy to do, and so effective!) and a large area of sky with serene drifting clouds…
Clouds… Clouds… How about listening to this link as you carry on reading – it really is quite beautiful!

Yes, ah, but look, there are some more of those ‘windows’, but up in the sky. Windows in the clouds?
Oh, sod it! Why not?
That is obviously why that question mark was there.
Can I get way with a few windows in the sky? Of course, I can!…
Do you want to examine my Artistic Licence?… Look!…

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

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s obviously made-up word is ‘pelmid’.
If you Google this one, dear reader, I don’t think you’ll get very much.
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No matter what lies ahead! – breathable material! – built-in softness! – the harsh realities of crime – just mix and match! – it revitalises your gums! – it is a whole new kind of pad! – it gently cleanses – welcome to now! – seven days free trial! – upfront payment required – yes, it’s time to up your game! – smart 4K TVs! – we do things a little differently! – we use precise nutrients! – ten-thousand prizes to be won daily! – contains diclofenac diethylamonium! – grass-fed British beef! – come on, let’s do this! – forty percent off! – amazing deals! – sensitive teeth? – super-strong Wi-Fi! – why not switch energy? – a new gaming bundle – lifelike colour! – are you ready to party? – take the twenty-one-day challenge! – make money work for you! – wow, that’s a low price! – I’ve got all my favourite apps!…

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Mail Art Postcard. No. 4878…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: crunchy, eschatological, platanaceous, strophiolate, epiblastic, and grovelling.
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How about a look at another of my mail art postcards, dear reader?
Just a simple collage on bright card using clippings and ripped-out items from some trashy cheap magazine or other.

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Well, I don’t think there is much to say about this one – it really is pretty straightforward, but engagingly cute, don’t you think?
If you like, we could discuss what kind of animal this is…
I’m not very good at recognising small animals, rodents, etc. Is this a rodent? I expect so. Maybe it’s a hamster? What about a guinea pig, perhaps a cavy? Guinea pig? Cavy? See, I’m not at all embarrassed by my lack of knowledge on these matters – I’m sure any child could put me right on a few things.

‘Health + Beauty + Style’
Yes, I’ll go along with that.
Do you think this is a ‘she’ rodent or a ‘he’ one? I don’t suppose one can tell by looking them in the eye, you’d have to pick one up, turn it over and have a look I suppose, though I’ve never actually done anything like that.
But, there is something, about the eyes and mouth…
What is it?
Oh, yes, this face looks to me like some ageing British politician – perhaps an ex-Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher, maybe, just look at that mean little mouth! Or perhaps Harold MacMillan from the middle of the last century. Look at the way the eyes droop down at an angle to each side – lots of Conservative politicians have eyes like that – but I don’t know why they should.
Oh, of course, Boris Johnson, our current leader, seems to have them too…
This could be Boris on my postcard!…

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Some snatches of misheard classical singing…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dictionary words are: progymnasium, sundari, gloze, weem, kebbock, and calx. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. Please note that extra marks will be awarded to students who are tall.
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Hm, yes, some more of that classical singing stuff misheard on BBC Radio 3 on the workshop radio.
I was considering writing to those people at Radio 3, and asking them why it is that when playing music by non-British composers the presenters generally make a good stab at pronouncing the composers’ names – with French, Welsh, German, Italian, Austrian, Norwegian, etc, they do fine, but when it comes to the Russians they generally fail badly. What is it they have against the Russians?
Everyone knows that with Russian surnames, the stress almost always falls on the second syllable, and it sounds pretty impressive, and that stressing the first or last syllable, as we Brits do, makes it, and us, sound stupid, and, er, childish.
e.g. It should be Bor-O-din, and not Borra-din – Rimsky Kors-A-kov and not Rimsky Kors-a-Cough!

Anyway, enough of that!
Here are some nice misheard snatches of classical singing:

‘Wha, ha ha ha!… Oh, oh oh oh oh!’
‘The hall light, my compost, is my holy hallow…’
‘Transfer my notes, you will transfer, my notes.’
‘Swing my trough, the day springs, oh yes, it is my ceiling!’
‘I’ll away! I’ll away!…’
‘The might, the night, and the rolls! The belly will surely go now!’
‘Florentine bars! Oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh! Aye, now dowse the light!’
‘Spline wepto, I now have a wet frame to see!’
‘I leap leaves in a priory frock!’
‘A way-ring, a speckled dew… Yes and yes!’
‘Abutments and toast! Diddle-do-day desire!’
‘A Heinz shifty mould sound! Oh oh oh oh oh oh… Not nine!’
‘I see them now!… Aha!… A worm-key comes!…’

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