Brownlow, the professor and the tart…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s quotation is from Vladimir Nabokov’s 1928 novel King, Queen, Knave, which I am currently re-reading:
Once again in her drawing room that fool of a painter, a languid rascal with dirty fingernails, glued his lips to her bare neck and she waited a moment to make out what she felt, and feeling nothing, struck him in the face with her elbow.

‘Yes professor?’
‘What’s that thing, in your in-tray, wrapped in tissue?’
‘Is it the ancient Egyptian relic from the Cairo Museum?’
‘No sir, it’s a couple of pieces of my Aunt Cissy’s chocolate tart. I was going to have them with my…’
‘Ah, your Aunt Cissy, fine woman Brownlow! Pass me one over, don’t hog them man!’
‘Oh, alright sir.’
‘I think your Aunt Cissy might have changed her phone number recently – you don’t happen to have…’
‘Oh, er, no professor, I don’t seem to have her new one yet…’
‘My, my, this tart is particularly good… By the by, where is that little artefact from Cairo Brownlow?’
‘Oh, it’s there, by your tobacco pouch – have you identified it yet sir?’
‘Oh yes, a piece of cake.’
‘A piece of…?’
‘No man, I recognised it immediately as a practical item, a simple safety device often used when the body cavities were stitched up prior to the start of the mummification process.’
‘Oh, how very interesting.’
‘These were pretty common items, but this one is rather special… You don’t have Cissy’s mobile number then?’
‘Eh?… Oh, er, no…’
‘You see, it was a chance find when the temple was moved at the building of the Aswan High Dam in 1968 – it has an unusual single hieroglyph on it.’
‘Oh really? What is it?’
‘It depicts a musical instrument popular in the king’s court – but that’s not the only remarkable thing about this item Brownlow.’
‘No, because it was so very unusual, and of course collectable, several rather good copies of it were secretly made in the 1970s…’
‘And a number of them were sold off to unsuspecting collectors as being the genuine article – there was a terrific scandal about it back then!’
‘Goodness me!’
‘I wrote a piece for The Times on it, they consulted me, and I of course received a nice fee for my efforts.’
‘I’ll look it up online sir, what was the title of your piece?’
The Abu Simbel Cymbal Symbol Thimble Swindle.’
‘Could you say that again please, sir?’
‘Oh… It was, er, a very catchy headline professor. Was that your idea?’
‘Why yes Brownlow, it was…’
‘I though so…’
‘You don’t mind if I have that other slice of Cissy’s jolly nice tart, do you? It is very good! Slide it across here…’
‘Oh… Alright…’

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This is not art. No. 43…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s giraffe is the one attempting to drive a vintage motorbike and sidecar, but having trouble using the foot-operated gears and brakes – look out, stand back, here she comes again!…

Oh, my dear reader! What an arresting and striking piece of work this is!
An outstanding composition, both in colour and in form. Although a relatively recent creation, it has a timeless and monumental quality to it – does it hint at hard-edge painting of the mid-twentieth century? Do the radiating cracks and splinters refer to Duchamp’s Large Glass of 1923? Is this a political, and possibly an anarchic, piece?
Let us stand back for a moment and take note of the use of colour. The Stygian aggressive black running riot across the grubby spattered off-white surface, which looks reminiscent of day-old pavement snow corrupted by urban filth, with an added overlay of dirty cracked ice – do we have cause and effect depicted here? Yes, I think we have.
The pale blue, desperately trying out the role of a shadow to the strident black, and failing badly, looks too delicate, and too pleasantly sky-like, to be even present in this stark turgid drama!
The whole piece is dominated by the giant ‘X’ – is it backed by the silhouette of a capitalist tower block? It is shouting ‘No! No! Enough! Enough!’ Can you hear it dear reader? I certainly can!…
Or, is this a religious work, with the Christian Chi Rho, taking centre stage? I don’t know. Do you know? Who knows? It doesn’t matter? But let us relax for a moment, and let the work speak to us in its own language – the timeless abstract language, of rectilinear form, and bleak colour…

Yes, you see, someone, probably a drunk person on a Saturday night, had, just for fun, bashed the window of one of the Dulltown centre shops or bars (I can’t recall which it was) and on the Sunday morning the owners had been called in to make it safe using a handy roll of sticky tape. And what a nice job they made of it! I think those blue areas might be ‘glue side’ of the tape that has been applied to the inside surface of the glass.
As soon as I saw this I whipped my little camera out, and – click!

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Some snatches of overheard and misheard cafe conversation…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s dictionary words are: antiphon, antimasque, anticous, antichlor, antirachitic, antitragus, and wistiti. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. The professor may turn up wearing a Lincoln green outfit and rakish matching hat with a feather in it, and carrying an English longbow and quiver. You should not allow this to distract you from your studies. Any student possessing a quarterstaff should bring it along.

‘Let’s say it in a later report Tony.’
‘Sopny, an egg, an egg – I’ll see you tomorrow!’
‘Where de-ell? Gebby parnoy?’
‘Heh heh heh heh! A blue full derby.’
‘I’ve still got a face on the wall though Pat.’
‘Egg pounds?’
‘Even E, even E, and wedding shoes!’
‘It was mackerel-wear?…’
‘It’s a standard head-street cut.’
‘No, I’m not making a line of it this morning Jeff.’
‘It was wishy-weighted, just a sample leg.’
‘It is quite clever, sucking the peel off it like that.’
‘Maurice talking – sat there – he can’t afford one weak step!’
‘It was donkey doom, but a major role!’
‘A popple bag?’
‘Karen! Read the one-year contract!’
‘Moon-dyke padget-form?…’
‘Hurry now, climbing fingers.’
‘It was a five-way sway.’
‘Jemmy Bubster?’
‘It was a last minute hammer Barry.’
‘A cool fan with smooth speciality hair’
‘No, not even a grape’s difference.’

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

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Yes, I was feeling quite well, until I…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s dance is the Bygdedans from Norway.
Come on Stella! Let’s Bygdedans round the kitchen for a while! Look out, mind that big pan of hot porridge bubbling away on the stove!…

Do you remember that TV series, House MD, from fifteen or more years ago? It had that jolly good British actor Hugh Laurie in the title role, acting American surprisingly well. (click)
I liked it. I recall being glued to it weekly; it was well written and acted, and the plots were always surprising, oh, and the dialogue was always consistently witty (you don’t get much wit on TV these days!) and it was engaging and sometimes even shocking…
Of course when some TV thing like this is successful the company can’t seem to let go of it, and they usually drag it out for far too many episodes, well after they have used up all the best plots – what a pity that is – but they all seem to do it – yes, it always comes down to money over art.
Why am I going on about this?
Well, one of the more obscure Freeview TV channels has been showing a couple of episodes from one of the early series every day – and I’m really enjoying watching them again. (click)
The trouble is though, that when I notice in myself: the slightest sniffle, itch, ache, blemish, ear-wax noise, joint click, mad dream, hiccup, stubbed toe, guitarist’s elbow, little cough, eyelid flicker, unusual smell, wobbly knee, funny taste in the back of the mouth, writer’s cramp, sudden ankle cramp in the night, existential angst, relentless irritability, occasional clearing of the throat, shiver, wheeze, gastric tardiness, snotty nose, gurgling tubes, creaking neck, tummy butterflies, blinky watery eyes, and excessive yawning in the morning – it makes me think I’ve got some hard-to-diagnose extremely rare disease, that can only be cured at the last minute, following a long series of exhaustive and spectacularly unpleasant tests and procedures…
It was a great show though!
But I wish I had Dr House’s phone number… Hugh Laurie’s would do, at a pinch…

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Ah, those stunning rivulets!…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s lost plectrum is the one which was eventually located in a dusty back corner of the bottom drawer of Marie Antoinette’s escritoire.

Here’s a photograph I took back in March – it might seem slightly familiar to you dear reader – I posted one of the same subject a while back, but in that I had the rivulets running up and down rather than horizontally in the frame as they do here.
I was returning to Dulltown by rail after seeing a lovely exhibition of works by Fernand Léger at the Tate Liverpool gallery.
I had to wait for my connection for twenty minutes at Huddersfield station. On occasions like this one tends to pace up and down, go slowly to the end of the platform to peer at the Yorkshire scenery and the stone-built Victorian factories and houses, and then back again to stare at the sandwiches and chocolate bars on display in the station shop, but not really wanting one.
The roof of the station is half open to the weather and the rain had decided to take advantage of the gentle slope of the platform to organise some parallel rivulet races across its width.
Isn’t it nice the way the sky is reflected just in the right-hand ends of them? Click!…

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Just a few shortish items…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s dictionary words are: viameter, opulus, exeat, patible, fastigiate, boggle, and tosher. 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 the ancient double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, everyone should remain absolutely silent for a few seconds, and then produce a deep humming sound to herald his entrance.

Excuses for being late. No. 419.
I’m sorry I’m late, but my curling tongs exploded.

A single overheard remark:
‘Give it a little squeeze, and I’m all yours…’

Uncle Dave’s really bad advice for young artists – Don’t be pushy – wait until somebody eventually notices you…

‘And then I noticed that it had begun to unravel…’
‘Oh dear, so what did you do?’
‘I quickly ravelled it again.’
‘Ravelled it?’
‘Yes, of course…’
‘Right ho…’

An observation:
Oh, look at that girl waiting at the bus stop, she’s the spitting image of Maria out of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis! Perhaps she’s Brigitte Helm‘s great granddaughter?… (Metropolis)

Hm, you know, I couldn’t decide whether he was contrite, or just trite…

And so, what about spam then?
Well, here’s a nice pink fleshy piece, just flopped into my comments box – it seems to be from someone with the unlikely name of Michaelad:
What i do not realize is if truth be told how you’re not really a lot more smartly preferred thazn you might be right now.
You are veery intelligent. You al r eady know ths considerably on the subject of this topic, produfed me personally imagine it from
numerous various angles. Its lke women and
men are not fascinated except its one thing tto accomplish with lady Gaga!
Your personal stiffs outstanding. At alll times care for it up.
Well, Michaelad, it is lovely to hear from you this morning, and I absorb your praise with great glee! I do thrive on encouragement, and your piece has lifted my spirits congenially. I’m not sure what you mean about my personal stiffs though. But do write again soon!

Yes, I’m thinking of changing my name to Ellie Vator-Musik.

A single overheard remark:
‘That’s disgusting! Under my roof too!…’


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Ah, some more of those super Crush names…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s carefully chosen adjectives are: livid, gabioned, opsonic, theotechnic, sansculottic, helminthous, and waspish.

Ah, good old 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. V is so very generous with her words – she’s not at all stingy with them!
Every now and again she sends me a nicely-wrapped bunch of spare character names that she has come up with to inhabit her own stories, but having accumulated so many, she has realised that she will never ever be able to slot them all in – so, she allows me to share some of them with the world on these pages so that poor young writers, without much in the way of imagination, who struggle to invent resonant and memorable names for their characters, can dip in and grab a couple of juicy ones to perk up their otherwise anodyne text.
As usual, she has mischievously included a real person’s name in her list – see if you can guess which one it might be. You’ll find a link to the solution of this puzzle at the foot of the page.

Rachel Stabbs
Betsy Brown-Toast
Clive Cooper-Snutz
Lord Moxie of Wincolmlee
Betty Box
Mary-Ann Shallows MP
Darkus Knight
Roddy Bismark Jones
Francine Whipple RA
‘Mad’ Tommy Tangent
Richard Randolph Umms
Ethel Crowds
Sir James Cormorant DSO
Dame Daphne Telps
Basil, 4th Earl of Wetwang
‘Big’ Brad Coxnake
Patsy Mudlark Thynn
Bert and Carrie Ferrules
Lady Andrea Towels

To discover who the real person is, please click here.

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