A few shortish items…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s fruit is the rosy round apple sitting on its own in the centre of a large polished oak table in a sunlit room.
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Excuses for being late. No. 281.
I’m sorry I’m late, but I found that I’d failed to keep my powder dry.

A single overheard, and possibly misheard, remark:
‘I had a job working in a pun factory…’

Oh, hello, what’s this? Ah, it’s another item of spam in my comments box. It seems to be from someone called nike-lite-run:
‘The exact legendary spring this reputedly restores the earlier days of any individual who products of lakes and rivers.’
Well, thank you nike-lite-run, I shall certainly bear in mind what you have said, and I hope to hear from you again soon.

An observation:
A teenage girl at the bus stop – light coloured spiky hair, white tight clothes, and big heavy white boots. I expect she’s a negative Goth – she does look very good…

‘So, what was that arachnid? A scorpion?’
‘No, just the opposite, it was a scorpioff…’
‘Idiot!…’

An observation:
A pale and rather plump middle-aged lady was sitting on the bus seat in front of me – I could see fresh pink fingernail scratches across her shoulders – my curiosity was immediately aroused as to how they could have been caused… No, no, it wasn’t! No, just stop thinking about it!…

‘You were a long time in the bathroom… Everything alright?’
‘Oh yes, fine thanks. I noticed that you had a pair of very nice nail clippers on the shelf, I decided to trim my toenails while I was in there…’
‘Ah… Right…’

Back in my schooldays, I clearly remember when, one warm summer’s afternoon in Mr Parkinson’s metalwork class, a very shocking thing occurred…
Now, being young lads, we were always trying to spice up our conversation with the odd adult naughty swear-word or two – this was in our own private world of course, and nothing to do with school, or teachers; and these were definitely not the sort of words that you’d hear on the BBC radio, or see written in newspapers, or words which would be uttered by your parents at home…
We were all standing (and not slouching) there, in our aprons, at our benches, and Mr Parkinson (a strange tired old grey chap, and not a very good teacher) was telling us about shaping metal by hand, and in passing casually mentioned ‘the half-round bastard’. We all gasped, looked at each other, and quickly stifled our guffaws. Mr Parkinson didn’t notice the reaction of his audience, and he carried on to describe other types of metalwork file too… (Bastard)

A single overheard remark:
‘And what am I going to do with 136 sausages?…’

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Mail Art Postcard. No. 4444…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s elephant in the room is the one standing and turning, and admiring his tusks in the cheval mirror over by the window.
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WP F 4444Here is another of my mail art postcards dear reader – a simple collage on fluorescent card using snippets from that awful, but very popular, British TV listings magazine What’s On TV.
If the magazine is so awful Dave, why do you buy it?…
Well, in order to separate the wheat from the considerable amount of chaff; one does need to know what is scheduled on the TV, doesn’t one? I find that the listings are reasonably accurate, but I don’t ever read the articles and features which make up the bulk of the pages.
Now here’s a surprising thing… When a very good friend of mine (I’ve known her for years) visits me, I always show her into the living room, and then I go off and make her a cup of tea, and possibly some hot buttered toast; when I come back with the T & T I invariably find that she has picked up my copy of What’s On TV and is glued to it, avidly reading all the interviews with celebs and soap stars, and poring over the bright detailed pictures of the poor disfigured and maimed people awaiting their restorative, but exploitative TV surgery. I can’t understand how she can do this; she is a highly intelligent and witty person, but she is drawn like a moth to a magnet towards this anodyne tawdry tosh… Ah, people eh?…
Anyway, back to the card:
It’s another of my ‘compare and contrast’ cards. I’m not sure who the two in the left-hand picture are, but I’m pretty sure that on the right that’s Sir Anthony Hopkins and, er what’s her name? Ah, of course, Emma Thomson… That photo must be from that very popular 1993 film The Remains of the Script
Style: I just noticed how very American the picture on the left is, and how very British the one on the right is…
Still, I think you get the idea of this clever juxtaposition… Damn, I swore that I’d never use that pretentious word juxtaposition ever again… Bah!…

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Doom in the privet…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the annoyingly odd spelling of the word rhythm…
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So, Monday afternoon, I was walking up a busy road in the middle of an area of Dulltown frequented by university students, academics, and aging posh hippies. Suddenly a large piece of wholemeal vegetarian roast, accompanied by a round gob of brown rice, whizzed across my path and cascaded onto the pavement in front of me. I looked whence it came and saw some sort of tussle going on across the street. It was centred around the menu blackboard outside a vegetarian cafe, and featured a tall, shaven headed, but heavily ginger-bearded young waiter in a nice striped apron, and that ne’er-do-well local poet from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, Simon Doom.
Doom, struggling with the younger chap, gripped a piece of chalk in his hand and was attempting to write on the blackboard; he had apparently already erased the cafe’s menu using spit and a grubby handkerchief and was trying to replace it with one of his recent spoems (spoof poems). (I learned from him later that he always carries a piece of chalk – he likes to write pithy things on walls in unexpected places.)
Finally the waiter, who was a good foot taller and twice as wide as Doom, picked him up bodily and threw him into the hedge of a nearby garden. The poet lay there on his back giggling; he was obviously drunk. After I pulled him from his temporary privet nest and stood him upright he insisted that I should take a copy of his ‘marvellous’ new spoem…

Tanga tanga a’wan-wan!
Tollidge banooba pom tippy no,
Kaddi-cadeego bumma a’toz moz?
Flap-flip flap-flip flap-flip!

Bandy bandy a’chid-chid!
Spansh mudler tanz-toop tippy no,
Kandi-kop tushel pank isophone?
Flop-flap flop-flap flop-flap!

Sumpty sumpty a’qua-qua!
Tikki-pango sparch-gum tippy no,
Glandoline praznet uma-uma kok?
Fluke-fleck fluke-fleck fluke-fleck!

Womla womla a’spuck-spuck!
Fuffle dox-mox ponkie tippy no,
Leodonto marz tunder waggler?
Mog-mag mog-mag diddy mog-mag!

Simon Doom. 2016.

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I have the measure of you now…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s gargoyle is the clean-cut handsome one.
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‘It’s all to do with mensuration…’
‘Eh?…’
‘Mensuration…’
‘What’s that?’
‘Didn’t you do it at school?’
‘I don’t think so – we didn’t do biology.’
‘It’s not biology, not really…’
‘Oh?…’
‘It’s measuring – as in mensuration and geometry…’
‘Goodness me! Is that the time?’
‘No, it isn’t.’
‘I really must be off soon, I have an appointment at the…’
‘I’m sure you can spare another minute…’
‘Alright then, so what is it, that’s all to do with mensuration?’
‘Life, happiness, purpose, meaning… that sort of thing…’
‘Really?’
‘Oh yes, undoubtedly…’
‘Life and happiness are all to do with measuring things?’
‘Yes, you’ve got it! Well done!…’
‘Are you patronising me?’
‘Only a little bit.’
‘Hm…’
‘You see, there is this universal thing, which us humans have come up with that we use to measure everything, and I mean everything…’
‘Do you?’
‘Yes, I do.’
‘Goodness me, can that be the time?…’
‘No… Can you guess what this thing that we use for measuring is?’
‘Is it the metre?’
‘No…’
‘The inch?’
‘Try again…’
‘Degrees Fahrenheit?’
‘No, it’s money…’
‘Money?’
‘Yes, you see, people wonder and worry about themselves, about their position in the great scheme of things, why they are here, and what they are doing… and all that sort of thing…’
‘Do they?’
‘Well some of them do… They measure their place in the cosmos…’
‘The cosmos?’
‘Yes, by how much money they have coming in, and are accumulating.’
‘Do they?’
‘Yes, isn’t that silly?’
‘I suppose so… Look I’m due to be at the clinic by half past, and I really must…’
‘Of course it’s not how much money they’ve actually got, is it?’
‘Isn’t it?’
‘No, it’s really to do with how much more they’ve got than the people they know have… Mensuration, it’s a measure of how much more meaningful and worthwhile their lives are than other people’s. They really do strive…’
‘Strive?’
‘Yes, they strive and strive…’
‘Well, I’m sorry for them, but I really must be off now, I…’
‘You see, even the fat greedy bankers do the same thing.’
‘Do they?’
‘The amount of cash someone has doesn’t matter, what’s important is having a bit more, or a lot more, than the other person… Just one more Lamborghini, or a slightly bigger yacht, that sort of thing…’
‘So, instead of money, what should we be measuring our lives with?’
‘Maybe we shouldn’t be measuring our lives at all…’
‘Whoa!…’
‘Perhaps we should be just doing some obviously positive things during our time in this thing called life.’
‘Such as?’
‘Well, discovering something new in particle physics; doing a shit job at a supermarket checkout, but still managing to be nice to people; writing a nice song that will move people to tears; finding a new cure for athlete’s foot; not getting drunk and hitting people, even if you feel like doing that, and…’
‘This sounds a bit like religion, or some mad cult – you sound like a hippy; are you trying to persuade me to sign up for something?’
‘No, no, not at all!…’
‘Excuse me… I have a question.’
‘Yes?’
‘That watch… on your wrist…’
‘What about it?’
‘It’s gold, is it a Rolex?’
‘Er… it might be…’
‘Hm…’

 

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Some snatches of overheard and misheard cafe conversation…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s confusing verbs are founder and flounder.
Founder flounder founder flounder founder flounder founder flounder.
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‘Just take me Jack-a-do!’
‘Somebody heavy?…’
‘You just had to keep wafting it, didn’t you?’
‘I folded them all up – ha ha!’
‘A little bit more must teeter Barry.’
‘Me, I just suck cold air in…’
‘Dylan! Dylan!… Bill?…’
‘It’s supposed to be a panel fold-over.’
‘A tiddle-dit, a tiddle-dit…’
‘Salvation cooking?…’
‘A knee carrier day job?’
‘Where do you get a smeal in a dark room?’
‘He marriage was inside interesting Tom.’
‘Lights went out – wool happened.’
‘So anyway, we backed out.’
‘Switch, normal, around the photograph.’
‘A lamb going off?…’
‘A fortunate tap dearth.’
‘A beer bomb?’
‘Wipe it down for me then Morris.’
‘A dewy send-off for Paul.’
‘Typical oody-ammy shabby twos!…’
‘A flash meet and skoo lollidees.’
‘What’s a fall padlock?’

Why not try singing these lines to the tune of Fly Me to the Moon?

 

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Like a fish, or a wet reptile…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word bamboo.
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DSCN3446Oh dear, this doesn’t look very cheerful…
It’s alright, it’s only a book – books can’t hurt you… can they?
Yes dear reader, it’s another 1960s British pulp science fiction novel, a Badger Book from my modest collection. This one is by John E. Muller, one of the many many pseudonyms of Robert Lionel Fanthorpe MBIS who wrote nearly all of the Badger sci-fi and supernatural stories. (RLF)
As usual, we will flip the book over and see what the blurb on the back can tell us:
‘Carl was strapped in and waiting for blast off when the first bombs fell. The lead lined capsule saved his body, but doubt was splitting his mind. He had been arrested for daring to say that he believed in the honesty and integrity of the West. But what if the West had started the war?
Finally, after incredible hardships and dangers, Carl Kovac found the answer. Neither East nor West had launched the atomic missiles… they had come from space! Now alien invaders and strange mutants stalked the earth…’
Sounds great doesn’t it? Now let’s turn the book back over and have a good look at the front. Ah, another marvellous painting from Henry Fox, the usual Badger cover artist, I love his work! What more could you want? We have a very fireworky looking atomic blast and its accompanying mushroom cloud; Saturn hanging large and bright in the starry sky, looking on and possibly gloating at earth’s fate; some very nice shaky blast-damaged bouncing lettering for the title; and here is our Carl, lit with yellow and blue light, his rigid unbelieving fingers shaking in anguish, his head thrown back in horror at the ghastly events unfolding. (Ghastly events nearly always unfold, they rarely just happen.) Carl has the look of that old flamenco singer, Manitas de Plata, about him – I can almost hear the strident twanging guitar and the clacking castanets…
Shall we crack open up these dry crumbling pages, and find one or two items of text, to give us a feel of the writing style?
‘… the door bell was ringing quietly.
“I’ll go,” said Carl. He opened the door to admit Vladimir Pushkin. Pushkin was short and fat, and even in the Muscovite cold he sweated profusely. His eyes protruded from his head like two ping-pong balls that had been dropped into a vat of warm butter…’
And:
‘It gestured towards him, and he knew IT had seen him! A pair of red-green flecked eyes flashed at him out of the darkness below the tip of a conical skull. The moon rose suddenly, frighteningly, and he saw that the body was covered in some kind of shiny black, scaly matter, like a fish, or a wet reptile. The arms, when he saw them, were all wrong – then he realised why they were all wrong – there were too many of them…’
And:
‘The dog pack and the rat pack had met in the most frightful holocaust of teeth and claws; screams and shrill squeaks, and shrieks, snarls, yells and growls. It was like the devil’s own symphony played on the instruments of hell…’

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The saint on the shed…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: rocky, dissonant, oxytone, glumiferous, decollated, pithy, and nunty.
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Here’s another picture (a scanned 35mm negative) from my days of old-style, film and darkroom, black and white photography; this was probably taken in the 1980s. The location of this corrugated iron shed was on a wet collapsing wooden jetty at the side of the River Humber (if this was in America, it would be the Humber River, isn’t it funny how on each side of the Atlantic we name our rivers differently?).
Do you recognise this stick figure with the halo? He goes back to the books of Leslie Charteris which chronicle the adventures of Simon Templar, a witty, handsome, devil-may-care, man about town, amateur detective, and minor rogue, also going by the name of The Saint. The original books were published between 1928 and 1963, but he survived many years after that; there were some popular and very stylish film versions of his adventures too. (The Saint)
I don’t think this is a great photograph, but I like the sloppy carefree style of the artist, the dynamic posture, and the way he (I’m pretty sure it must be a he) allows the paint to run down the grooves in the tin wall. Oh look, our saint seems to have a dim shadow to the right – perhaps there was a previous version of the work which the wind and rain blowing off the river had worn away, perhaps the dockers and the chaps on the river missed him and a new crisply painted one was commissioned?…

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