Sharp axe flies across room in log cabin…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s joke is the one about the Prime Minister and the two greasy fried eggs in the Chancellor’s bowler hat – oh, how we chortled below stairs back at No.10!… (PM)

It’s Christmas Day 1955…
No, it isn’t!
But imagine if it was, and imagine young Billy kneeling under the flickering tree pulling the bright shiny wrapping paper and the bits of Sellotape from a flat weighty rectangular parcel – to reveal the rich colours and imagery on the front and back of a brand new, next year’s, copy of Lion Annual!

Gosh! Look at those spacemen floating about! Look at their stylish rocket parked there behind them too! Gosh!…
Anyway, this is another of my cheap junk shop books. It’s looking rather raggy now, and someone has been at some of the pages with a ballpoint pen, probably Billy’s sister Shirley, little minx that she is! So, this book is not really a valuable ‘collector’s item’.

Let’s open this volume up and have a glance at the top of page 37:

Well, I’m afraid Shirley has really ruined this nice illustration, but then again I do quite like what she’s done – you could almost imagine this nicely framed in a trendy white-walled art gallery – a new piece by an up-and-coming hot young artist fresh out of college with no skills other than those of PR and marketing.
Yes, I have carefully selected this piece of found ephemera and enhanced it in a particular way in order to point up and comment on the social mores of Britain post WWII, and to move it on, to transport it, into the realm of my intimate, sharply remembered responses to my own problematic childhood, and those lingering feelings of…

No, but really, what is going on in this picture?
The drawing is a bit, er, stiff, isn’t it? A bit ‘frozen in time’, but not in a convincing way. Still, I don’t think I could do any better.
So, two chaps in a log cabin, a sharpening wheel that runs in a water bath, an anvil lurking at the back that looks like it is made of wood, two loud check shirts, an axe flying through the air (it’s probably just been sharpened on that wheel), and a pleasant-looking Native American chap coming running up to see what the hell these two idiots are up to now!…
But who wrecked the flume?
Well, I don’t know, in fact I don’t know what a ‘flume’ is…
I see from the text that one of these fellows might be called ‘Top’.
Top?… This is getting stranger by the minute!
Also, I don’t think I can think of anything further to say about it, apart from how much I like the shade of blue that Shirley has used.

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Some snatches of song lyrics misheard over the cafe hubbub…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s instruction is to remove and discard the moulded polystyrene packaging, slice open the clear protective membrane with a keen blade and check that there has been no leakage from the round phlogiston tank marked ‘X’; loosen the cock-screws marked ‘Z’, but do not remove them, fold back triangular flaps ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘D’ – you must not fold back triangular flap ‘C’ at this time. See that all the six wicks are free of soot and debris, and light them with a match; slide the slatted aluminium cover (supplied) over the top, put on a pair of ear defenders (not supplied) and stand well back.

‘Sailor Sam abandon the run, abandon the run…’
‘It’s the way-oh, way-oh.’
‘With this you whirl all your scissors girl.’
‘Didna-wah! Didna-wah!’
‘It’s your real lip now baby…’
‘Post your roast, post it yeah!…’
‘Baby, you go bip me soon.’
‘Oh, oh, throw out the stove!…’
‘A hole in my harp, yay-yay, wool-wool.’
‘Lovely make me swell, here I am night time.’
‘Rule noon, not clean, all over, it’s all over.’
‘Oh time… Stripe stripe and something sighing…’
‘I flounder, I hoe, I high-high girl…’
‘My soul crawling on ahead, tell me baby, tell me baby…’
‘Two half every you laugh bread and apples.’
‘Silver in my heart, time is a pie…’
‘Fine round is ample simple, smile to find.’
‘A chirrup, a chirrup, see my spider is wide…’
‘The kippers are so lucky, key-key! Set me free!…’
‘I don’t wanna whoo, no no…’

(Did you spot the Paul McCartney reference?)
For information on how these lines are collected you could click here.

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Mayonnaise on the steps…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s ancient Egyptian deity, a woman in the guise of a panther is the Goddess Mafdet; her role is protector against snakes and scorpions. (Mafdet)

It was Sunday evening, I was walking in a light drizzle along by the main road which leads to the city centre. As I passed a building set back from the pavement I noticed that it had its front doors open and the lights were glowing inside. Suddenly a voice shouted out from the shadows by the front door, ‘Hey!… Dave!… How about a hot beverage and some nice biscuits?’
Standing grinning, cigarette in hand, on the steps of the small church was Tony Mayonnaise, poet from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League. He waved me over and added, ‘You can get free coffee and stuff here, do you want a cup?’
I declined his kind offer and then inquired if he had, after all these years, suddenly found God.
‘Hell no,’ he said, ‘but they are all really friendly and nice here, I do drop in occasionally for a free coffee.’
‘Do you attend the services?’ I asked.
‘No, I’ve managed to avoid that so far, I get away with it because for some reason they think I’m, a bit strange.’
‘No! Really?…’ I said.
He smirked, ‘They’ve just discovered that I am a poet, and they’ve asked me to address the throng tonight, they said that I can share anything that is troubling me, and all will be peace and harmony in the Lord…’
‘God help ’em!’ I said.
He took a crumpled piece of paper out of his trouser pocket, it was the spoem (spoof poem) that would be his text for a part of the evening service…

Mullamo styke retz-retz omallum,
Tanty-bob skurpit-tipruks cheff cheff!
Arganod gupla tettimode fids donagra.
Mirraman, mirra-me, mirraman mirra-me.

Mandog chuffler quirnish ob godnam,
Kuthie ux obloot-toolbo bloot zoin!
Ferrit tallix wooma-wooma duk tirref.
Mirraman mirra-me, mirraman mirra-me.

Skullop doig fepster hoat-tox polluks,
Xylash doo osipug-gupiso nobblopot!
Zobado ufferlogue panzi vovo odaboz.
Mirraman mirra-me, mirraman mirra-me.

Gibslot gardenza pynkoil deestep tolsbig,
Retz-retz topskool-lookspot cannerandi!
Yottaid stackta fimation gublid diattoy.
Mirraman mirra-me, mirraman mirra-me.

Tony Mayonnaise 2017.



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Trains, art, a boon, a weir, and Tim Robbins…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected colours are: boomerang brown, fidgety fawn, angry auburn, ragged red, platonic purple, tantalising taupe, and gnarled green.

I recently heard of the existence of the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, Yorkshire; it is of course named after the sculptor Barbara Hepworth who worked around those parts, and it houses a good lot of her works. The Hepworth.
I thought that I might as well make the trip and have a look at it – change trains at Leeds – I don’t mind travelling on trains, especially as I now have my noise cancelling headphones with me at all times – they are a boon for the modern traveller! (Ahem, not really sure what a ‘boon’ is.)
Not to miss the chance of an easy blog post I decided to ‘document’ my day with things observed – I only decided to do this half way through the trip, so some of these fragments are remembered and not jotted down at the time, and are as a result are perhaps not in strict chronological order – still, I’m sure you’ll manage to keep up dear reader:

It is not permitted to cycle, skateboard, (or think) on the station concourse.
Heading west on the train: Three triangular Ginsters frighteningly rough (for me anyway!) wholemeal bread sandwiches with cheesy and spicy fillings – could only manage two, I’ll save the other until later in the day.
The girl opposite who hadn’t ‘activated’ her virtual ticket on her phone had to cough up £14 to the cheerful Cockney ticket inspector, whom I noticed repeatedly addressed her as Darlin’…
A sideways downpour of big white hailstones thrashing the carriage windows. Nice!…
…and the next station stop will be Selby...  (station stop?)
So, Leeds: I get the Penzance train to Wakefield then? I thought that it might be full of pirates on their way back down south, but it wasn’t – only an 11 minute journey from Leeds to Wakefield.
…with pushchairs and heavy luggage please use the lifts…
It looks a nice place Wakefield, nice big cathedral too. Straight into the gallery cafe I think…
Taylors of Harrogate green tea, I’ve never had that before, it’s very nice, I’m sure it’s authentically Japanese because it has a hint of fish about it; those Japanese do love their fish! It was not unpleasantly fishy though.
The Hepworth: Ugly plain concrete exterior, doesn’t look too bad as you approach, but like a lot of buildings like this they are best seen from a distance, close up you can see the rough detail where the joins and round holes have been filled in with gobs of mortar.
Inside it is quite plain and not unpleasant, but if you have a bout of sneezing, as I did, each one resounds and echoes like a gunshot through all of the hard-walled rooms – slight embarrassment on my part…
Arty videos of women with big coloured padded cloth appendages gyrating and dancing and gesturing… Hm…
In the gallery shop they had a big hardback book on Eduardo Paolozzi – it was £45; I really was tempted, but I don’t have the space for it.
Gentlemen. Accessible Toilet. Babycare.
Some very large, I mean large, circular string or rope mats, some up on the walls some on the floor – they look like, er… string or rope mats… They smell funny – that’s the most interesting thing about them… I wonder if that’s why I was sneezing earlier? Is one allowed to walk on the ones on the floor, or is that considered bad form?
Isn’t Henry Moore’s figure drawing, er, hairy-looking?
John Piper, I can take him or leave him.
Michael Ayrton: Oh I do like that one!
Oh look, Barbara Hepworth’s tools and workbench – I have an old vice just like that one! (Note: sometimes vice is spelled vise.)
Rooms full of hanging drapes and clothing, kimonos, frocks on manikins – not really my sort of thing. Oh, look out of the window – I’m glad we are high up; what a nice view, is that a weir? Perhaps I’ll take a photo – oh dear, is photography allowed in the gallery? Ah, there’s no one looking. Click…

Now then, where have they hidden Wakefield Westgate Station?
Back to Leeds on the train (it’s from Penzance – still no pirates aboard).
The Leeds second-hand guitar shop was like the Mary Celeste, it had seemingly been abandoned, and was completely empty of human beings. After a few moments the owner poked his head in the front door and said, ‘You alright?… Only I’m waiting for the fire brigade…’
‘Alright,’ I said…
No, I really shouldn’t go in another cafe, I might just sit here on this nice foreward-sloping railway station steel mesh seat and eat the third triangle of my Ginsters pack as I wait for the Dulltown train.
The waiting room: Four Chinese blokes having a very loud shouted conversation in some Chinese dialect across the width of the room – they laugh a lot.
Due to wet weather conditions please take extra care
On the Hull train: A couple sitting opposite; he’s the spitting image of a very young Tim Robbins.
We zoom past a large green grassy field; the field has two hills in it; on each hill stands a black and white cow; there are only two cows in the field.
Tim Robbins’ girlfriend looks just like Drew Barrymore – how very nice – they decide to play cards.
The train just passed a shop in Selby called Candy Convenience – I do like that!
The next station stop will be Hull. This train will terminate here… Er, no, the train won’t terminate, but the journey will… and it did… Phew!… What a jolly nice day out…

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

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s Raymond Chandler quotation is from his 1943 novel The High Window:
The wind had risen and had a dry taut feeling, tossing the tops of trees, and making the swung arc-light up the side street cast shadows like crawling lava. I turned the car and drove east again.
The hock shop was on Santa Monica, near Wilcox, a quiet old-fashioned little place, washed gently by the lapping waves of time. In the front window there was everything you could think of, from a set of trout flies in a thin wooden box to a portable organ, from a folding baby carriage to a portrait camera with a four-inch lens, from a mother-of-pearl lorgnette in a faded plush case to a single action Colt, .44 calibre…

British beef roasting joint – don’t put up with ‘nearly clean’ – sore throat keeping you awake? – I rely on Vanish Gold – if you keep up your payments – just get back to your regular self – feel confident! – an incredible new you! – a hundred-and-fifty-percent more likely! – all these little things come together! – how are you managing your sensitivity? – the price crunch! – check your credit score for free! – think and act fast! – explore now! – lose ten pounds in eight weeks! – say yes to success! – finger-licking good! – just book your eye test online – let’s get back to normal! – night-time sniffles? – food that tastes amazing! – it’s the one you need! – it’s ‘full house’ heaven!…

Posted in advertising, books, brain, existentialism, information, poetry, serendipity, surrealism, TV, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Red Chair…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s featured letter of the alphabet is the capital ‘T’. A very popular letter is the capital ‘T’, especially with the little lower case letters – they cluster round and shelter under him when it’s raining there in Alphabet Land.

Hm… here’s a photograph I took in May last year.
A few moments ago I was a bit uncertain as to whether I should show you this one; there’s not really a lot going on in it, is there?
I suppose it might be all about colour and composition; that’s pretty obvious, we only seem to have three colours in the thing, that unrelenting green, that unrelenting red (or might it be pink? There’s a fine line between red and pink isn’t there?) and that unrelenting drab grey of the paved path. Yes, dear reader, today’s word is ‘unrelenting’ – a bit like the TV coverage of the forthcoming general election here in the UK – oh, I’m sick of it already and it’s hardly got going!
So, what positive things can I manage to suck out of this odd picture?
Okay, here we go:
The red and the green do clash very nicely don’t they? But I suppose, if I remember my school art lessons with the old technical drawing teacher (we didn’t have a proper art teacher for a couple of years) Mr Sugdon, red and green are complementary colours – oh, just listen to them chatter away:
‘Oh Reddy, I think your intensity is so much more vibrant than mine…’
‘Oh but Greeny, just look at your hue, it’s absolutely fabulous, such delicacy in its tone and gradation and…’
Enough of that…
I quite like the fact that the chair has no legs, and it looks like it has sunk into the ground as if in wet concrete. Oh, and what about the little pool of rainwater that has accumulated on the chair and collected some of the petals blown across from the greenery?
Yes, I am glad I posted this one – look, I have even managed to write 300 reasonably interesting words on it!

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Guess what’s on the wall opposite…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dance is the Milonga – Come on Stella, let’s milonga round the kitchen… Oops!… Hey, mind that pan of mushroom soup simmering on the stove!…

‘Did I hear somewhere that you have an art gallery in your house?’
‘Did you?’
‘Yes, I think I did… Have you?’
‘I’ve seen your house, it’s quite small, I…’
‘You’re thinking that my house is a bit titchy to have an art gallery in it?’
‘As a matter of fact I was thinking that.’
‘You see, I collect only small works.’
‘What do you mean by “Ah…”?’
‘Oh, nothing…’
‘I am rather selective in the pieces that I buy…’
‘Do you have anything by anyone I might have heard of?’
‘It depends…’
‘On of whom I might have heard?’
‘Yes, and very nicely put, if I may say so.’
‘Thank you – you collect within a narrow range then?’
‘Yes, I do, that is correct…’
‘This is a slow business isn’t it?’
‘I’d say almost glacial in its velocity… I collect art works by very famous people.’
‘Oh, you must spend a lot of money on this… Got any Picassos?’
‘Jasper Johns?’
‘Piero della Francescas?’
‘I’ve heard of those, you see.’
‘I see… I’m not surprised… Have you heard of someone called Adolph Hitler?’
‘Of course, everyone has heard of him!’
‘I didn’t know he was an artist… as well as a drug-addled Fascist psychopath.’
‘Oh, but he was, he was a painter.’
‘Was he any good?’
‘No, he was pretty shite.’
‘Pretty shite eh? I’m quite relieved to hear it.’
‘He did a lot of unimaginative landscapes and paintings of posh houses in watercolour. I have one of those.’
‘Gosh indeed. Can you guess what I have on my gallery wall opposite my Hitler?’
‘I’m afraid not.’
‘You could easily guess. Go on, have a go.’
‘Oh, alright, a Heinrich Himmler pastel, of a bowl of petunias?’
‘Did Himmler paint too?’
‘I have no idea, but I’ll bet he was very good at dashing off a quick swastika or two, with either hand.’
‘Anyway, no, not Heinrich, have another go.’
‘Ah, I know – you have a Winston Churchill!’
‘Is it nicely done?’
‘Not particularly.’
‘Better than Adolph though?’
‘Not really.’
‘This is all most interesting, I suppose you could call the walkway down the gallery between the two paintings ‘The Channel’…’
‘No… I don’t think so…’
‘Oh alright… So, what else to you have in your collection?’
‘I have a pretty badly thrown earthenware glazed mug by Joseph Stalin.’
‘What colour?’
‘Oh really , I didn’t expect that!’
‘No?… I have a small monochrome lino print by Mussolini, it’s a bit scorched and yellowed on the left-hand side.’
‘That’s interesting.’
‘No it isn’t… I do have a turned maple pepper grinder, thought to have been made by President Charles de Gaulle. in his teens, it was done at night class.’
‘It’s not really a work of art though is it?’
‘No, I don’t actually have it on display – I keep it in the bottom drawer of my plan chest.’
‘Your plan chest… Do you plan much?’
‘All the time, everyone should plan.’
‘What are you planning at the moment?’
‘Getting a second piece of work by President Trump.’
‘A second piece?’
‘Yes, when the first one arrived my wife opened it, looked at it, and ripped it up thinking it was by a young child, and that someone had sent it to me as a prank. It was done in red and yellow crayon on the back of a piece of cardboard from a cereal packet.’
‘Isn’t ‘prank’ a jolly good word?’
‘Yes, indeed, it’s a very good word…’

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