Sunday 14 December 2008

Oranges are the only fruit

Seville – although quite clearly Spanish – is absolutely wonderful. Who knew? I’ve never managed to feel properly comfortable in Spain, for some reason, and usually only ever concentrate on visiting Barcelona (glorious) or Cadaqués (the best). Madrid – and I set great store by capital cities, feeling that they give away a lot – has always left me perfectly cold. But Seville? Well, it feels magic. What a beautiful surprise.

It may seem ridiculous to pass judgment on a place on the back of nothing more than an extended day-trip, I suppose, but I’m happy to trust my instinct. Seville feels right. Madridistas, bless their destabilising insecurities, may be too busy admiring their own shoes to be of any sensible use. The air in Seville, however, is mercifully free of the anti-social fumes of self-congratulation. Madrid may very well say: you’re lucky to be here, so don’t be getting in the way, y’hear? Seville simply says: here we are, visitor, just do as you will.

So we did. And it was great. That’s all.


Anna MR said...

Hello gorgeous. If you thought I could resist being the first to say hello here, you were wrong (sorry) - I'm way too childish for that. Just way too childish. But by way of apology, I'm sending you the first version of my "circling space tigers", which I left a slightly more doctored version for you elsewhere.

Wishing you all manner of good things this Friday, McPoni.


trousers said...

Well I for one cannot resist the heady delights of being the second to say hello, and I don't mind at all that ms mr was first.

Perhaps her being first helps to draw a slight veil over my own wanton childishness and make me look all grown up and everything, except that I've blown my cover by drawing attention to it.

nmj said...

Hello, hello, three in a row, hello!

This is me being a football hooligan (and third to say hello, of course).

tpe said...

Anna MR, Trousers, NMJ...

You Three, hello. You're going to need to bear with me, I'm afraid, as I'm trying to visit blogs whilst being battered by the severest gale to have hit Ireland this week. Yes, that bad.

My internet connection is continually cutting out and so is my electricity and patience. If I didn't have my good looks to fall back on, you know, I'd be totally gutted (to use a term favoured by footballers, NMJ, as you seem to have become a hooligan - I like, I like).

Back anon to aim a more sensible amount of words at your collectively esteemed heads, of course, but for now I'm out visiting a multitude of bloggers whilst being blown from, well, post to post.

Stormy kisses to one and all....


Anna MR said...

Hei, TPE. The subject matter of your most recent post does leave one wondering if it were possible to file an application, with a relevant authority, to be henceforth considered a dog, or a zebra, or an orang-utan, or just about whatever, to escape being of the species that does this to its own (not that I particularly care for some of the stuff my species does to other species either, right enough). And what can go on in the minds of those who pass sentence such as this? Or those delivering the stones? Those who throw the stones? Those who watch? Those who committed the rape in the first place, also when they follow how the case develops?

And would I, please help me the God of all agnostics, would I be any different from them, if I was brought up there? Would I have it in me to throw stones at someone's head, or watch others do so? While I'd like to think I wouldn't, who's to say?

I don't know. Time for me to sleep in just a few moments, but not before wishing you goodnight and hoping that the subject is not plagueging your (beautiful) mind.

z x

tpe said...

Hello, Anna MR. I'm still primarily visiting other people's blogs, so I'm not really here. Back soon, though.

A couple of quick things: the truck carrying the stones is a detail I fixated on. The curious journey of the (imagined) driver is easily manipulated towards a short story (or three). And yes, the presence of the crowd is not a straightforward case of malevolent people gawping with glee. A handful reportedly said "please stop this" and many, I would guess, were present through fear alone. Surviving the arrival of tyrannical violence often requires a queasy compromise, I'd say, and I don't think it would do to judge the crowd in strictly moral and disapproving terms. Too easy, too unfair.

Back to all the other stuff later.



Anna MR said...

Hei, McToodle, and please don't mind me going on here - I realise you're not at home but I'm feeling a mite chastised. For good reason, yes, for I think as I read and wrote last night, my mind was conjuring up images of a crowd baying for the adulteress's blood. In my defence, I was very close to sleep. My waking self is not as ready to apportion blame and shame to those who have to decide between survival and a moral high ground - a choice which I've not been near to being forced to make. You are right, of course, about the tyrannical violence issue - it's a return to the question of how much personal blame and guilt can be heaped on a German Hausfrau of the 1930s-40s, is it not? I don't know and I don't claim to know, either. But it does seem to me there are some people who will think this is "right", while some people will condone it, and some people will enjoy it, and it is precisely the fact I can't say whether these "some people" are fundamentally a them to my us that scares me. If someone is capable of this (and they are), does that mean anyone might be?

I'm certain you wouldn't, though.

I also note that while I read about this in the papers, I find myself more strongly horrified when I read your abridged-from-4000-words retelling of it. Maybe I have my blinkers on when I read the papers and not when I read you.

Finally, the short story (or three) on the curious journey of the imagined driver sounds shockingly good - if indeed the word can be employed in these surroundings.

Um, I'll be off then. Strangely worried about posting this comment. Wishing you happy visitations, though, traveller.


tpe said...

Worried? What on earth are you worried about, you fruit? Anyway, don't be worried, just be patient. You should feel very free to blab away about anything you like, whenever you like - it's just that I'm not at home at the moment to respond (as you can see, obviously). Sorted. x.

nmj said...

ok, i just read this in full, having spent all day getting up the courage to do so.

the people who did this are terrible human beings, their God, a c**nt of an excuse.

excuse my language.


tpe said...

Ha. Trust me, NMJ, some of the language I came out with whilst trying to write this madness out of my system would have made a priest kick a stained glass window. You seem comparatively restrained. So I'm not in a position to excuse, merely in the mood to admire. x

trousers said...

"I also note that while I read about this in the papers, I find myself more strongly horrified when I read your abridged-from-4000-words retelling of it."

Me too, ms mr, absolutely. Horrifying but compelling reading, I read the words through more than once last thing on Sunday night. As such, there was no small amount of comfort to be gained in reading your reaction to it (I hadn't formulated the words), to see that it had existed and registered in someone else's mind and been followed by a need to respond to it, indeed a search for meaning(s).

tpe, you have indeed filtered the elements of this gruesome and depressing episode in such a way that it carries qualities that the newspaper accounts didn't.

I'm glad I read it, to be shocked anew.

tpe said...

Hey hey, lovely Mr T, thanks very much. Back soon to talk properly, of course, but I'm expending all my blogging energies on visiting other people at the moment - as I think you have probably discovered to your flabbergasted cost these past few rambling days. Toodly-toot.

tpe said...

And by "flabbergasted", of course, I mean to say "exasperated". "Flabbergasted" sounds like you may have been slightly impressed somewhere along the line, whereas "exasperated" leaves no room for such doubts.

This went well, I feel.


Reading the Signs said...

dear McTPE, I have tagged you. It's a Jewish-Glaswegian-Cambridgeshire-Sussex-Spanish-Helsinkian thing, I know you won't let me down. Mwah!

tpe said...

Thank you, lovely comrade Signs, I won't let you down. I'll come and see what's required some time later this evening - but we may need a new name,

The golfer Tiger Woods refers to himself as “Cablinasian” (something he pieced together from Caucasian, Black, (American) Indian and Asian). I like this.

Jewglacamsuspankian maybe doesn't have quite the same ring to it, admittedly, but we need to start somewhere. And I think, with a few very minor tweaks here and there, we may already have ourselves an anthem.

A comradeship of heroes was laid.....they came to stand beside the Spanish people.....vive La Jewglacamsuspankian Brigada....let us all remember them tonight.

Like I say, a few tweaks and we're in. This song has never made more sense to me.

By your side, always,


tpe said...

Oops. That should be a full-stop rather than a comma after the word "name" in the first paragraph. Sorry.

Now that I'm here, though: be sure to watch out for the reaction of the singer at the end of the song. Gets me every single time. Just does.

Reading the Signs said...

dear Comrade McTPE, if you only knew how many reds there were under and inside the beds of the extended Signs family you would know how all this resonates with me. A perfect anthem for us (for as well as all else, we are all Commies - though living in diasporan Sussex to be sure). But yes, a little tweaking. If we dispensed with the word brigada and just let that be implied then most of it would fit, especially if we chopped a bit: Viva la Jewglacamsuspanka. Not quite sure where the spank comes from (isn't that supposed to be suspania?) but it gives the name a kind of robust quality. Actually, I think I just got it: the ka at the end also takes in a bit of Russian/Polish shtetl. Excellent.

Comradely Mwahs!

Anna MR said...

Not wishing to tamper with any shtetl, but surely it needs to be Viva la Jewglacamsuspainki - you are not allowed to drop me totally off the camaraderie of Free Jewish Scottish diaspora Glaswegians, please. Or I'll cry.

I hadn't heard the anthem before and will obviously need to listen to it extensively to take it into my brain as these things should be taken in and assimilated, but I used to have an obsession for this song, sung by the same singer. I know, I know, it's probably terribly cliche and everything, but that's never stopped an obsession before. And I was once cast in a TIE type show called No Pasaran. I had a triple role as an SS official, a London blackshirt, and a Treblinka survivor.

Apart from that, Hasta la Victoria Siempre, Comrades McTPE, McSigns.

Reading the Signs said...

Hot on your heels, Comrade Anna, for the penny just did drop that we need to have the Helsinkian in there and you seem to have found a solution by replacing spank with pain. No-one can stop us now.

Reading the Signs said...

Englishman, what do you mean you are struggling to feel guilty? I am speechless. But not speechless enough to hold back from asking how you do that: the not being able to feel guilty thing, I mean. I have noticed that Mr. Signs doesn't do guilt much either and neither does Shrinky. Perhaps it's just a girl thing. Never mind. But no. Yes, it reminds me of that story about the youth who could not shudder.

I looked for you in that photograph but you're quite right, you are somewhere just out of sight. It is a beautiful picture.

And you write rather beautifully. Therefore I will not mention the Haggis Dinner Set or lay my baffled bewilderment at your feet (tread softly for you tread on my baffled bewilderment).

The Periodic Englishman said...

Yes! It's a magic picture, isn't it, Signs?

Not that you asked, but.....

Left Aunt: doctor, unmarried, strictly moral being, fiercely religious, loaded, entirely independent, sister of my maternal grandfather, could not abide fools, very generous, one of those people whose wills make the local paper, sharp as a bastard, would smile only if it became impossible not to do so, beautiful furniture.

Right Aunt: chemist, unmarried, just popped her clogs last year, sister of my maternal grandmother, happily religious, entirely independent - lived alone until she died in her mid-nineties, only grudgingly accepting help - would stop laughing only once people became concerned for her health, raucous, mildly risque, needed to go on all fours to contain her laughter.

Both Aunts, left and right:Life-long friends to each other, probably instrumental in getting my granny hitched to my grandfather. Relentlessly impressive human beings, both of them.

Phew. Sorry about that, but it saves me writing a post, for sure. I very nearly put up a (very old) picture of my sisters, too. I don't know what's come over me. I must be loosening up.

Anyhoo, Haggis Dinner Set? This is a fine and relevant anagram of your name, Signs, so at least pretend to be impressed. The things I do for you.

The non-guilt thing is all front, though, an attempt to seem secure and impressive. I think it may have worked.

Right so, just a hello and a good evening and a thank you for the tagging thing, Signsy. Back later, most definitely, to deal with other matters and Anna of Finland and Trousers and the one they call NMJ.

Wretchedly uplifting and friendly regards etc...


Reading the Signs said...

Wait, wait - I would really like to see that (very old) picture of your sisters, if you felt so inclined, please and thank you. And as for your aunts: I love them, even though aunt number one would probably not have suffered me for a minute, being as how I do not get even very relevant anagrams.

Stay loose, Johnny Englishman - good luck with the tax biz (they're all at it here in the southern diaspora).

nmj said...

Love Christy Moore, seen him a couple of times in concert. Love your aunts too. They are fabulous.

Janelle said...

hello! thanks for swinging by. always lovely to hear from you. and i de ciphered the iambic thingymabob sole handedly and on time. . . hooah. x j

tpe said...

It is always lovely to hear from me, yes, I totally agree. People will be sorry when it stops, I’ll tell you that for free.

But what, what and what, Janelli? It took me a while (and some bitter internal investigations) to work out what on earth you were going on about there. I get you now, though, and can only really add an “oops” and a “well done” and a “sorry”. Fixed.


tpe said...

Thank goodness you came back, NMJ, it’s happy-clap lovely to see you again.

You have seen everyone in concert, surely? Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Christy Moore….the list is ended. But you take my point. Anyway, I now officially consider you an expert on music. All music. Ever.

I remember you wrote ages ago that you were super keen – in an unhappy kind of a way – on the song Ride On. I like that one, too. I’ve also become a bit hooked on City of Chicago these past few days – not in English, no, that would be too easy, but the Irish language version (as sung – and originally composed, in fact – by his brother, Luka Bloom).

I’ve always loved the English language/Christy Moore version, of course, but this one feels personal. Hard to explain. And no, I can barely speak a word of Irish. Doesn’t matter. In fact, it helps.

Unfortunately, the best version I can find on Youtube comes replete with a fifty-second clip of Richard Harris doing his beardy actory Oirish thing. Nobody wants to see that sort of stuff on a Sunday, NMJ, so I’ll spare you the link.

Agreed – my aunts are fabulous. Thank you for taking the time to notice, lovely visitor. I hope you’re having a splendid day.

Perfectly judged regards etc…..


tpe said...

Trousers - hello hello. Now that I’m here (very, very temporarily, to be sure) I see that I can only really say thanks again for the comment (about the Somalia thing) and assure you that childishness is always very welcome round here (this goes back to your first comment, of course, not the Somalia thing. No.)

I did get a nice long email, however, which basically asked “what on earth was the point of that? What does it achieve?” (Not the childishness thing, the Somalia thing – just to be clear.) This seemed a fair enough thing to ask and I triumphantly justified myself at excruciating length.

The effort was a bit exhausting, truth to tell, and I don’t really feel like doing it all over again – although, with the relevant permission, I would happily post the thing here - but I was pretty pleased with my efforts, as it happens, as I'm sure you’ll be delighted and thrilled to hear. And some things bear repeating, I feel, however horrific they may be. It’s never wrong to be shocked and disgusted by this stuff and it continues, of course, unabated.

Have a beautiful week, Mr T.

Kind regards etc…..


Signs, Anna MR - back later. Toodle.

nmj said...

This was the first Christy Moore song I ever heard, and my one time best (female) friend and I used to sing it constantly when we were students. She was Irish and could sing, me I couldn't, and still can't, hold a tune.

nmj said...

Alas, Pony, Your links are hidden, to my eye anyway! Click on This above to see my link to a slightly bastardised version of Don't forget your shovel...

nmj said...

Jesus, Sorry for the vandalism on your thread, I am havering spectacularly and removing comments (which always seems a bit sinister, don't you think?).

tpe said...

I do think that, yes. Every time I see a deleted comment on someone's blog I feel a small prickling of dread. Not joking. It spooks me out, for some reason. I don't know why the blog hosts don't delete the comments permanently, though, so that no trace of the accident remains.

Rest easy, then, I'll go and deal with your exciting stramash and nobody will be any the wiser. Nodding and winking at you now, NMJ, nodding and winking - in a non-sinister, perfectly appropriate manner, of course.

PLUS. Jesus, how could I forget. I also don't like it when blog hosts don't remove your double postings. Man, that seems needlessly cruel and hateful. You know how sometimes you just get a bit dribbly in the head and find yourself posting your comment two, three, four times, even? As an act of mercy, I feel, the blog host should swiftly delete these things and pretend that nothing has happened. These things make me shudder.

Okay. Enough.

Right. The clip. (Your link showed up fine, by the way.) Back in a minute.....

Okay, that's properly mental. I've listened twice - it's still mental. And that accent is pretty much identical to the stuff I find myself surrounded by these days. Personally speaking, I love it.

Note-perfect singing is overrated, NMJ, don't worry, and there is no such thing as being tuneless. You'll just be making the sounds of a different tune as you sing along, that's all, and every bit of singing helps. You know I'm right.

Needlessly attractive regards and heart-warming sing-alongs etc.....


tpe said...

All done, NMJ. The sinister tragedy has been taken care of. Send your flowers to heaven and surely they will find me.

Anna MR, Signs - later. In the meantime, however, watch it.

nmj said...

thanks, pony, for your deletion of my deletions - you are clinical excellence itself with your tidying up after your untidy commenters.

meant to say, can't listen to 'city of chicago' or indeed most of christy moore really without getting v. teared up, my former flatmate and i had a catastrophic falling out a few years ago after being close friends for over twenty years, just one of those things. but she is linked to christy's music forever in my head.

nmj said...

...I just listened to Luka's version in Irish, so beautiful, and their voices are so alike.

Though my listening was spoiled by youtube constantly breaking up, stopping and starting, this happens all the time and just causes rage, and ruins whatever song you are trying to listen to.

okay, i am off to put myself in a better mood.

John said...

wait up - where am I? Sorry to intrude, I'm looking for John. Wait up, that's me. Yeah, well, nice talking, gotta split -

The Periodic Englishman said...

John - a surprise to find you here, welcome. Are you one (or both) of those two Johns from Anna MR’s Dead John Martyn post? I think you probably are. I’ve seen your work.

Looking at one of those two Johns in action, you know, felt a bit like looking at a (less wordy) version of myself. Yes, that sharp, that funny. Mildly unsettling, really.

If you’re just a random John, however, then that’s okay, too. I have no set policy, yet, as regards Johns, although I’ll certainly be watching you like a hawk. An armed hawk, John. An armed hawk who has just received some very bad news indeed and has a troubled history of extreme drug use and shooting up schools and shopping centres. That sort of hawk, John.

Kind regards and man-grapples and homo-erotic towel flicks in the changing-room following some fiercely competitive sport action etc…..


(Anna MR, Signs, NMJ – hello, just coming. Although it’s quite late already so please excuse me if I suddenly stop being awake. It happens.)

The Periodic Englishman said...

Anna MR – hello, good evening and hei.

Let’s see, I think I’ve missed quite a lot here. Going back a bit, then, and employing The Fiercely Laconic List Technique (which helps keep me straight and cuts down on needless meanderings), I feel sure I’m going to say the following:

1) Yes, you are super childish. I never doubted it for a moment. Well done. Don’t stop.

2) I saw your tigerish art. I commend you – and not just for psychiatric help, either.

3) The people who killed that girl are poisonous, twisted, hateful bastards – what else can I say?

4) Wait. Is anyone and everyone capable of this brutality? Yes, technically speaking, they very probably are. I’m happy to call the perpetrators themselves fiendish names, of course – or, more specifically, the men whose minds came up with these rules and felt it right and just to apply them - but feel less convinced when trying to assess and understand the onlookers. I know me too well, unfortunately, and feel reluctant to randomly badmouth those people caught up, for whatever reason, in this (or any) atmosphere of seething violence and fear.

5) You seem to have settled your potentially fatal dispute with Signs over the name of Our People. It would have been far too grimly predictable for a bunch of Far Lefty types to have fallen out over such painfully small details. I think this maybe makes us legit, you know. I feel more like a Redski than ever.

6) You are a fan of Ride On, too? That makes three of us, it seems, as NMJ has already declared an interest. Who actually likes songs like that? I’m surprised at us. Very, very surprised.

Phew. So that’s that. How are you doing? I’m off to catch up with Signs and NMJ and then I should be done. Or, I may just go to bed. Or, I may just go to bed and catch up with Signs and NMJ. Laptop, innit, before you even think of saying something grisly, Finlander.

Sorry for taking so long to get back to you.

Scandalously kind regards etc....


The Periodic Englishman said...

Signsy - hello. Where were we?

Yes, no worries, I’ll get a picture and place it right here (temporarily). I’m going to find one with me in it, too, however, because that seems far more sensible and inclusive and, much more importantly, keeps me firmly in the spotlight. Give me a week, tops.

What else? Well, I was surprised at how far that song – our anthem – reached into me, actually. I feel very politically confused, Signs, never really knowing who I like or who might possibly come closest to representing my views and feelings. I am a catastrophe in the polling booth and X very rarely marks the spot I had in mind as I stepped forward to cast my vote in the first place.

I’m telling you, it was an amazingly good feeling to be so simply reminded that I do actually fully believe in some things and that I’m really quite proud of my deeper political (and moral) instincts. I sound like a ponce, don’t I?

I don’t care! It’s magic. I never knew being a Redski could be such fun. I always thought those guys were dreary wankers. I have conviction, I have conviction, I have conviction.......

Terribly good things to you, Signski, terribly, terribly good things.


(NMJ - I didn't make it. Being a man of conviction is surprisingly hard work and I've tipped myself over the edge. Must sleep. Back tomorrow. Sorry. Nighty night.)

trousers said...

Thank you for your various replies, tpe, and I must also catch up with this ever-expanding thread, after which I may well comment further (does that sound like some kind of threat?).

Oh, and I'm happy to go with "flabbergasted" rather than "exasperated" any day. Well most days (the exception being a day in which I might be feeling uncharacteristically mean, but that says everything about me and not your comments).

I think your comment (re:Somalia thread) ...some things bear repeating, I feel, however horrific they may be., serves as justification enough, were it actually needed.

Kindest regards to you and your splendid visitors.

The Periodic Englishman said...

Hey Trousers, how are you doing? I'll be back later on this evening (I hope), but must deal with love-struck Scottish author and hell-raising party girl, NMJ, 57, first. This could take some time......(see you later, though)

Hello, NMJ. Sorry for crashing out like that last night. I’m glad you found the Luka Bloom thing, even with the attendant rage that Youtube has a habit of provoking. I just step away and wait for the music to load (with the sound down) in its entirety, if problems arise, finding the prospect of listening to a stop-start song a bit much to bear. (Remember to empty your cache on a regular basis, of course, and these problems are often alleviated.)

Yes, it’s a beautiful thing (Luka song) and it works on a great many levels. People will almost always have heard the English language version first, I imagine, before they come anyhere near the Irish one. It’s a shame, really, because it would be nice to listen and simply feel the pain of the song without having the (understood) lyrics of the English version in your head, helpfully sign-posting all relevant emotions.

I just think it’s helpful to make your own sense of music every once in a while and not understanding the words, of course, will always help in this regard. I sound crazy. Jesus.

But anyway, that’s one of the reasons I so often fall in love with bits of music that don’t have any words at all. It can be made to fit anything, any mood, any need, and nobody can come along and say “actually, no, this song is about blah blah blah and blah”. I could have explained that better. Never mind.

Think of this Luka Bloom song, though, and imagine it being sung – in exactly the same tone – in a language that you will never, ever understand. The words will be something like “I’m so freaking happy I could just lick a tree and jump up and down and laugh like I’ve never laughed before....” etc.

I bet you it would still sound and feel like a recognisably “sad” song, which always brings me back to the miraculous fact that nobody actually needs to sing or make music. We just go right ahead and do it, though, because these curiously arranged notes, these falling sounds, these whatevers, seem to help us express something so very much deeper than our words can ever impart. I think it’s bloody genius. I’m sometimes really proud of humans, NMJ.

If she would only just humour me, I would really like to communicate with my girlfriend for a few days though the medium of honest humming - and honest humming alone. Can you imagine? I think it would be great. Like therapy, only cheaper. What better way to hear what someone is actually saying?

She thinks it all seems a bit French – and this usually closes an argument down, as far as I’m concerned – but agrees that if we ever suffer a breakdown in communications she’ll give it a whirl. This hasn’t happened once in twenty odd years, however, so I’m not exactly filled with hope.

Anyway, that’s an understood dilemma, the thing you said about not being able to listen to certain songs for fear of the residual and historical agonies they hold within their floating walls. I’ve never really known what to do about that, I'm afraid, although I’m humming an imagined answer as I write.

Only good things to you, NMJ.


The Periodic Englishman said...

Trousers - hello and hello again (why not?)

No worries about the various replies, I just wish they’d been less various and more, you know, together. February is a new month, however, and I imagine I’ll be highly successful in getting my act in order from now on in. Stands to reason.

It does sound like a threat, yes. How exciting. Not a nasty threat, though. No. Just a playful one. The kind of threat you might make in jest to a child, in fact, if they refuse to put away their shoes or something (“Granny will die”) - a feel good threat, you might say.

You have days in which you feel uncharacteristically mean? And you anticipate these days and know all about them? But wait - does this not then mean that they are recognised traits of your character and are therefore characteristic? I had no idea you were so mean, Trousers. What’s that all about? I’m suddenly looking at your threat to granny in a whole new – starkly unfavourable – light. Jesus.

Anyway, enough of such charming man-banter (manter?) and fiercely compelling frivolity. I have thank yous to say and goodbyes to bid and some stuff to sort out pretty quickly. All in a day’s work.

So thank you, Mr T, for your further comments and for seeming to agree about the Somalia thing. It’s all just too sickening, really, a shocking assault on reason and nearly everything that sensible people hold dear. But there we are.

Toodle-pip, beautiful guest, back in a couple of days. (I've locked the door behind me - you can never be too careful. Never.)

Kind regards etc….


The Periodic Englishman said...

Signs - hello. Here’s a picture for you (see comment below). Incredibly, I can’t seem to find one with all of us together, so in this one you’ll get my mum as a kind of consolation anti-prize. I’m the one in the bottom right hand corner (with the Milky Bar stuff) and those other creatures are my two older sisters (the eldest being bottom-left). This was taken a couple of months shy of my first birthday.

To save time, just cut and paste the following to let me know you’ve seen it (just as quick as you like, Signs):

Englishman, I’ve seen it. You all look terrific. Without wishing to seem pushy, I hope I get to see a picture of your youngest sister sometime in the future – to complete the set, as it were. Thank you for sharing, that must have been hard for you.

Much love,


The Periodic Englishman said...

Signs - I gave you eight hours. This seems like enough. I thought I might give you 24, originally, but then just this moment found myself thinking differently. Something about the thought of leaving the picture here overnight - unprotected - just didn't appeal. It's a brutally unfair world, to be sure. Can't say fairer than that.

Back at some point.

Lovely kind regards, regardless...


Anonymous said...

i've jumped the gun and rushed in to say hello before april is over. looking forward to having you back in may! hurry up! how did you put a personal message above the comment box? dgr xxxx

tpe said...

Hello, Anonymous, thank you for visiting and for leaving a kind message.

I'm sorry, I'm not sure if the letters "dgr" at the end of your message represent your initials or.....I don't know, an internet acronym of some sort. I feel I should probably know you, of course, but can't for the life of me think how. You must have a blog, surely, to be interested in knowing how to put a message above the comment box? Obviously, I'll have to take it away now as May is already here - so you run the risk of looking mad, I'm afraid, talking about something which is no longer there. Mind you, so do I.

Anyway, you sign into your blog and then you go into “settings” and then from there you click on “comments” and then from there, praise be, you will see a box called “comment form message”. Write your message in this box and be sure to save your changes (you do this at the bottom of the page). Bingo. I was fairly pleased with myself, I must admit. Impressed, even.

I'm very sorry for not getting back to you sooner. It's taken me a little while to make the switch from a silent April to May.

Kind regards etc....


Montag said...

I found the comments. They were all herded together, all sizes and shapes, from all countries of the world, into an epistolary gulag where time seemed to stand still. Every time we enter, Anna MR from January greeted us, followed by trousers and nmj.... an unending reception line stuck in a beautiful groove.

Hmmm. Don't know. It does resemble a test match, going on and a perpetual prize of Ashes.
Interesting allegory.

Anonymous said...

you are right! the letters are my initials and you will kick yourself when it comes to you. think of flowers. does that help?! dgr xxxx

Montag said...

Gadfrey! My comment is sandwiched within a flirtatious minuet between tpe and dgr.

Ditto the sentiments of May 28's post: neither poppy, mandragora, nor Glade Touch 'n Fresh shall ever medicine thee...etc.

tpe said...

Flirtatious? Never! The infuriating DGR is an unknown quantity – he or she could be my mum, Montag, or even my girlfriend, for pity's sake – and so flirting is entirely out of the question until my investigations have been completed (or started). With you? No problem, flirting is doable (although I daresay hardly sought) as I have a good idea of your legitimacy, sex and decency. DGR? Not so much.

Casting aside these fraught, intellectual pursuits for one moment, however, hello and welcome - it’s lovely to find you here. Sorry, incidentally, to have taken a few days to register your arrival.

I’ve been very disappointed with my guests to date – every last one of them – and so it’s a relief to welcome a respectable member of the community. At last, the voice of reason and wisdom. Your detective work is impressive, too. Not many bother to look this far down the page. Not many bother to look at the page at all, in fact, but that’s maybe by the by.

You may also notice, of course, that it’s really just us here at the moment (along with the rather sinister DGR), as the treacherous Signs, Trousers…...that lot, anyway, buggered off a very long time ago and haven't been seen since. Maybe after a year or so they will think to themselves "I wonder what happened to that unfunny guy in Ireland?", but I wouldn't place any money on it (and nor should you).

I just need to correct one thing you said, if that's alright? Good. You said: "It does resemble a test match, going on and on..."

Nearly, but in order to properly resemble a test match it would be "going on and on and on...."

I hope this clears things up? Plus, there is maybe just the teeniest hint that you use this expression to cast an unfavourable light on test cricket. A scandal. (Any unfavourable light cast on the meandering comments found within this blog, however, is light very well cast indeed and I will only ever be able to applaud such a venture.) But yes, the very fact that test matches go on and on and on, sometimes with no possibility whatsoever of a result either way, is the very thing that pleases us - the depressed, maladjusted fans, I mean - the most. You will clearly glean from this revelation that our lives are well-spent and full and I would only really ask that you try to contain your admiration and envy.

The advert is horrible, isn't it? I know I may have come on a bit wildly, but this thing really offends me. Even if the child were my own I would struggle to find this appealing on any level. I'm never sure why anyone but the parents themselves are expected to tolerate and/or smilingly indulge the loo-talk or habits of children. I mean, yuck. People could be eating when that advert comes on. Or simply breathing. It. Is. Horrible.

Enough. I run the risk of rambling quite horribly.

I hope you had a lovely April and May and I hope you feel free to stop by here just whenever you feel like doing so.

Kind regards etc.....


(And thanks for visiting, of course.)

tpe said...

Thinking of flowers almost always helps, DGR. If you mean to ask whether it specifically helps me as I wonder who on earth you might be, however, then no, as it happens, it does not. In fact, it very probably makes matters worse.

However, I do love a challenge (comico, molto comico) and this feels like it may turn into An Actual Quest. With this in mind (and very little else), I’ve packed my bags and said all necessary prayers to Ahura Mazda, Osiris and Lug. (I also said a quick prayer to Tarquinius Superbus, as it goes, but this was more to do with liking the name as opposed to any real expectation of help, guidance or outright revelation.)

Anyway, like some latter day Orlando with a blog (sequere me apud Twitter) - only much less relevant and way more furioso - I shall begin my wild journey (with nary a nod towards a believable timeline or the piffling demands of geography) and search high and low (especially low) for the revealed nature of those sacred letters of D (praise be!) and G (hallelujah!) and R (yeah!). The children of your village shall sing my name as their mothers (and, let’s be frank here, fathers) do keen and weep.

Or you could just tell me, I suppose? It would save a lot of bother and a potentially messy trial scene in Scotland. I’m easy.

And if I must think of flowers as I undertake this task, then you must consider autogenics as I do so. Does that help?

Gracias por visitar mi blog, Margarita. Tanto tiempo sin verte.

Kind regards (and vague feelings of self-satisfaction) etc....


Anonymous said...

oooooh-eee thank you, orlando with a blog! what a lovely response and I like this version of my name better!

daisy-margarita xxxx

Anonymous said...

Lug?! xxxx

tpe said...


tpe said...

Although technically, I suppose, there could just as easily have been the letter "H" at the end of Lug. I opted for a more visually obvious (and satisfactory) thwomp to terminate the sentence, though. It's all in the rhythm, Ms Daisy, my dear - and you know this makes very real sense.

"Margarita" makes you sound all toxically exotic and probably neurotic with an eye for the gin and young boys. I'm thinking smeary red lipstick and some crazily applied mascara and a dress three generations too small. Quality.

It'll be the compliments, I imagine, that keep you coming back here.

Kind regards etc....


(Lovely to see you, by the way.)

Political Umpire said...

"And from these ashes" we are promised by the title of this blog. And, to say the least, we are disappointed. Nothing at all from the ashes so far. And yet there's scarcely been a shortage of things to say, has there, with the small matter of England being 1-0 up. Yes I know I have retired from blogging, but that makes it more, not less, incumbent on you, Englishman, to do your blogly duty.

Why did Australia fall so far from test 1 to 2? England's inferior build-up, with only one game v demotivated opposition? (Australia, by contrast, played two matches, one a heavily promoted county fixture and the other against England Lions, a side full of people like Harmison desperate for test selection) The pitch? Poor shot selection by Australia at Lord's?

The last I would discount. Shots only look poor if you get out. They played just as many cross bat shots at Cardiff, it's just that they hit them better.

At all events, it has been a thoroughly dramatic contest. And even if the overall standard of both sides is well below 2005, the spell of Flintoff on the last day must rate as one of the greatest of modern English history - pretty much since Willis in 1981 or at least since Devon Malcolm v the South Africans in 1994. Flintoff himself is a sub-plot worthy of a few blog posts: the ability to bowl an all-time great spell, and yet the inability to do so across his career, hence the rather ordinary test stats. Injury is at least a partial answer; indeed he might not even make another test, let alone the rest of the series.

So Englishman, your country needs you, or since you're from Glasgow, another lot need you. Post haste.

tpe said...

Grumpire, hello. Good day, good to see you and good grief.

Uncannily, I had been mentioning to someone a little over a month ago how difficult I found blogging without you. Not wishing to heap on the guilt, of course, but I always felt better knowing that you were around. To find you here, then, is a very happy and beautiful surprise.

Before I get onto the manly stuff, can I just say how much I’ve missed you? Good. I’ve missed you very much indeed and feel that Blogoslavia is very poorly served by your absence. I hope you’re happy and well and getting along nicely with whatever you are getting along with these days. You remain, for me, the very best. Do you have any plans, as yet, to return, I wonder (and hope)?

Right so.

Watch it, you demanding creep. I made it very clear that I had all but given up on writing about cricket (your fault, if you recall) and feel no guilt whatsoever about letting you, my family, my teachers from both school and university, women, the nation - all nations - down. Well, maybe a little bit, but nothing that can’t be internalised and ignored, allowing for tough-sounding rebukes to those who would chastise me.

But deary me. Even if I felt able to write about the matches to date, you have already covered all angles and touched on all relevant points. God, how I miss you.

It bears repeating, however, that Flintoff’s spell was a thing of absolute wonder. I know that people are trying to attach poignancy to his endeavours, given that this was the last time he will play for England at Lords and – fingers crossed for a different outcome – perhaps the last time he plays for England, full-stop. I just happen to feel, however, that it stands alone as a moment of enduring greatness and doesn’t need any extras attached.

The relentless, vicious accuracy, coupled with the relentless, vicious demands on his body and the uncanny ability he has to carry and lift those around him…….well, this was a privilege to watch, was it not? Some things are destined to stick in the memory and he seems to provide his fair share of such events. A surpassingly monumental performance, Umpilical, the kind of thing that all true cricket lovers will immediately recognise as greatness in action. (To injury, of course, I would add alcohol as being one of the reasons he has failed to permanently dazzle. Or is that a bit unfair?)

Tend to agree, of course, that the standard falls short of 2005 – how could it be any other way, really, given the absence of Warne, McGrath, Hayden and Vaughan (to name a few)? I like to think that both teams are rather equally matched, really, and this points towards another sickeningly exciting series.

(If selected, I have a strong hunch that Harmison may come good for one final time and swing the thing England’s way. Don’t tell anyone I said that, by the way.)

I have no earthly clue, though, why it is that Australia fell away so badly between the first and second Tests. I’m not going to let this utter bafflement distract me, however, from my sense of enjoyment that they did so. You know it makes sense.

Very lovely to see you again. Only good things to you, Grumpire.


austin said...

Have got caught on the tail of commentary and out of sheer work avoidance am adding on a little wag.

Just to say. Enjoy your blog tpe!

And I never watch the cricket, except when sitting in Emergency in the middle of the night with my daughter recently and the Ashes were on! Have always wondered what the fuss was about. Thwack on the willow, cries of gotcha, rubbings etc but I found myself enjoying it! And we had to then lose just when I am gaining an interest. (I confess I am Australian)
Anyway blah blah, love your work, and all the best,
PS Daughter is fully recovered.

tpe said...

Yes, well. Obviously, of course, I was going to ask whether your daughter had recovered. I’m very decent that way. It may fairly be noted, however, that my first instinct was to ask you more about the cricket that you (accidentally) watched. Your PS, however, brought me back to my senses. (But the cricket was grand, no? It must have been a little bit difficult to keep your mind on your daughter?)

But hmm. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had an Australian here before. An excitingly dangerous development. I think Political Umpire (see above) has some trouble in that department, you know, now that I come to think of it, although I have a feeling that his problems are more New Zealand-shaped. (I think we can both agree to laugh about that, Austin, and perhaps find some common ground in these fraught opening stages of our relationship. Nothing like a bit of bonding low-level racism to bring potentially warring parties together, I find.)

Still, you did well to openly confront and admit to such an affliction and I wish you a speedy recovery.

You seem to have mastered the basics of cricket very quickly, however. “Thwack…..cries……rubbings……I found myself enjoying it.” You and me both, Austin, you and me both. I mean, what’s not to like?

Actually, I strongly recommend that you try to cultivate your recently piqued interest. Sport, generally speaking, is something to be avoided at all costs, I feel, but cricket….well, without wishing to go all misty-eyed and grisly, I feel that cricket offers a (fading) glimpse of how people might and should behave. There may very well be a seething acrimony lying just beneath the surface - who knows? - but the courtesies remain to the fore. This feels like the best we can hope for in these shatteringly inelegant times.

And never mind about the fact that Australia lost. Losing is part of the agonised enjoyment. Or it should be. Can you begin to imagine how England fans have felt for the best part of quarter of a century? Without this relentless familiarity with the pains of defeat the winning wouldn’t feel half as good. Actually, that may not be entirely true, but I felt the sentiment made me look rounded and thoughtful.

I also strongly recommend that you get your daughter interested nice and early. Buy her a bat (always a winning present for a child, I believe) and bowl her some slow leg-breaks in the park. Best start with a tennis ball, I’d say, as getting thwacked with a cricket ball hurts an awful lot.

If you’re a competitive sort, however, then you can take a long run-up and bowl 90mph deliveries at her throat and shoulders. If you’re really competitive, then you may want to forget about the tennis ball. And if you’re really competitive and super clever with it, of course, then you should plan these games to coincide with the action unfolding in England. You’ll be back to Accident & Emergency in plenty of time to continue watching The Ashes. You know it makes sense, Austin.

I see that you're a very infrequent blogger, incidentally. I think you may be more infrequent than I am, actually, although Political Umpire puts us both to shame with his own fevered inaction. There's not really any point shouting stuff out every day, though, is there? I like your pace (and style).

Anyway, you're always very welcome to stop by here and it was lovely to find you loitering. And don't worry, cricket is very rarely mentioned - although secretly, I suppose, I would probably like to talk about it more. In the event of your return, however, please feel at liberty to talk about anything at all. (I probably draw the line at Kevin Rudd. I'm just saying.)

It was also lovely, in fact, to have someone say such a kind thing. (Oh, and I'm impressed that you bothered to make your way down here, too. Not many would be so diligent.) All in all, then, hurrah.

Kind regards from Ireland to an impressively vibrant Australia etc....


Montag said...

You have a whole crowd of posts; garrulous in the dog days of summer!

It is so very much H.G. Wells-Time Machiney-Benjamin Jowett coming here. "Cacoethes Scribendi" fer gawd's's like Ovid's friends visiting him in exile!
It seems so Plautus, warm, funny, frantic: and Latium mixed with Athens, the Ilissos flowing into the Tiber and debouching into the Thames.

Sorry at taking so long to connect, but wit affects me like too much ozone after lightning...takes me weeks to recover.

"Going on and on and on..." is praise of Cricket; it is used in the sense of "May God's blessings go on and on and on..."
The other works of men are limited; Cricket is immortal.

tpe said...

Goodness me, sorry, I didn’t see you down here, Montag. Rather perplexing, really, as I’ve been spending some time loitering lovingly on my own blog these past few days (someone has to, I feel), as I recover from a relapsing man-flu. How on earth did I miss your response? Baffling.

And such a thing to miss, too, brimming with outright wonder as it is. Sine respirare me, ut tibi respondeam, as the hapless, easily led Dordalus most assuredly once said to Toxilus…….

But criminy creepers, I must gladly and promptly acknowledge the many firsts with which you supply this rural backwater of Blogoslavia. No guest of mine, not a single one of them, has ever once mentioned Plautus, Montabulous. I know, it’s almost unbearable, but what are we to do?

I long ago forgave Plautus for making Sagaristio say “dictum sapienti sat est”. The general hunch that this is very probably true, of course, does nothing to dispel the irritation. In fact, it makes matters worse. Frothing wordy types, those people very clearly in love with the sound of their own clacking fingers – let’s just say me, for example – don’t really care to hear such things.

Although, come to think of it, I actually forgave Plautus before he made Sagaristio say those words. Yay verily, it’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world (except for Lola). But yes, before even reaching that point, I found myself snurbling into the back of my hand as Toxilus asks Saturio to lend him his daughter (non ad istuc quod tu insumulas).

I was young, granted, and my tastes were very simple, but this exchange made me laugh like a leopard. Now that I’m old(er), of course, I find that my tastes have yet to mature. In a way, you know, this feels very much like progress, Montastical, although please don’t ask me to explain such a thing, as it doesn’t bear even the slightest scrutiny.

(Continued below....)

tpe said...

(Continued from above....)

Hypocritically, I still rather enjoy the grimly farcical knockabout banter between Sophoclidisca and Paegnium, say, or the verbal sparring between Dordalus and Toxilus……but but but, anything of a similar nature, as found (particularly) in the works of Shakespeare, for example, has always left me dribbling with discontent and irritation, Montague. It just annoys me, for some reason.

Perhaps Latin serves to mask the occasional dulling crudeness? (I could probably, in some fantastically inappropriate and convoluted way, drag Martin Luther into this, of course, which would make for an absolute bloodbath.) Or, it might just be due to the fact that I’ve always needed a dictionary to hand to help me plough my way through any Latin-shaped things - which may serve to distract me, I feel, from a full enjoyment and/or loathing or understanding of any given text. (I was only in it – Latin, I mean – for the music. I feel almost certain that you will share my love of the language, though, and will understand the need to know more.)

Crikey, I’m rambling. Need to speed up here – dishes to wash, food to make, dogs to walk etc. (Manly things, in other words.)

Other notable firsts for these pages, then: debouching, Jowett and Ilissos. I like to think that Benjamin Jowett would have got a look in at some point, though, and tend to blame my guests for not having brought him here sooner. Wait. We are talking about the same person? I’m thinking of the man who spent frightening amounts of time translating Plato, although I realise, suddenly, that I could be barking down the wrong flower. (I’ve used up my internet searches – one per guest, strict house rules (frequently broken) – looking up Ilissos, alas, so may very well be floundering in the dark right about now.)

If it’s the same person, though, then he’s the man I turn to for my occasional slice of Parmenides. I’m a firm yet devoutly lukewarm admirer of Plato, really, and bizarrely find that Parmenides – perhaps his most pleasingly messy construction - is my favourite of his meandering outbursts (as they are placed in the mouths and minds of others). I think Benjamin Jowett is largely responsible for this, as it happens, because I find him both readable (just) and trustworthy. Plus, as something of a girl, I appreciated the descriptions of the characters in the introduction notes.

(We are so often at the mercy of translators, so dependent on their interpretations, that I hope the “trustworthy” remark is self-explanatory and doesn’t seem needlessly strange. I think you may have tried your hand at Greek, come to think of it, so maybe you can dispense with the middle-man.)

Ovid, I feel sure, has made an appearance here before. I have a rather crushing feeling, however, that this was in relation to taxes. Can this be at all possible? I’m struggling to see how, exactly, but the thought persists. And good grief, what a banal thought.

Anyway, we’re all Ovids now, lovely Montag, finding ourselves exiled without ever really knowing how or why it happened. No, I insist. The trick, I suppose, would be to discover what it is that we have been exiled from, precisely. People, on the whole, seem to be too interested in their shoes to bother finding out, though.

Ovid had it easy, really, the great big mushy girl-chasing cad. He knew the source of his excommunication and the place where he wanted to be. The rest of us – humans, I mean – are simply left floating through space in crowded isolation with a vague feeling that we must have annoyed someone very badly indeed somewhere along the line to find ourselves thusly afflicted. It would help a great deal to be able to lay the blame at the door of our own giant Gaius Octavius.

And on that strangely depressing note, I must leave and attend to the dishes. Sorry for rambling on.

Kind regards etc....


tpe said...

Typo alert: I meant to say "non ad istuc quod tu insimulas", as opposed to "non ad istuc quod tu insumulas". Sorted. Phew.

(Not so much a typo, really, if truth be told. This mistake was more reliably concocted in ignorance. Keep it under your hat, obviously.)

Political Umpire said...

Well Englishman, it will shortly all be hindsight, so a final word about the Ashes seems appropriate.

Everything suggests the game is up. England's only world class batsman is hors de combat, and its only other matchwinner is near enough. Australia, meanwhile, can look to the fact that they've managed seven hundreds in the series thus far to England's one, and their major concern, Johnson, seems to have discovered how to bowl an English length. They only need a draw and the Oval historically is a good bet for one of those or at least a high scoring match.

Two things therefore stand out for me. The first is that, once and for all, England now have to pick a team to win the next test, not the one they hope might develop over time and win the Ashes in about 2020.

Secondly, no time for conservative thinking. I'm all for backing the struggling chap who has obvious potential, and being consistent, giving them a chance, all that sort of thing, but not when there is one test that must be won against superior opposition.

All things being equal, Australia will win. Therefore England have to gamble. The unacceptable thing to do would be to give Bell and Bopara another run. They've been tried enough against Australia in this series (and in Bell's case before) to know that whatever else they can do, they are not going to win this match for England. It just won't happen.

The conservative thing to do would be to wheel out someone like Bob Key, doing well at county level and with some test experience. But nothing Bob Key has done todate suggest he will score the confident hundred on day one that England needs. He is probably the best of the county journeymen, but he isn't any more than that.

No, England have to throw caution to a force ten gale, and really try something improbable. Only two men currently playing first class cricket in this country who are available for selection have the natural ability to get that big first innings hundred. Neither is Ravi Bopara or Ian Bell. No, the only thing to do is to recall the two chaps with a combined age well over 70, Marcus Trescothick and Mark Ramprakash. Tres to open, Cook to bat at three and Ramps 4, with Collingwood at five, Prior six and Fred seven.

Now the chances of both failing have to be reasonably high, greater than fifty percent. But the same could be said for anyone else in line for selection. As far as I'm concerned, the worst they could do would be as bad as Bell and Bopara. And that's bad, but can anyone expect more from the likes of Key? No.

But there's a slender chance, just a chance, that Tres will forget his illness for a day and play like he did against a far superior Australian team in 2005, or South Africa in 2003. And maybe Ramps won't realise he's playing for England, so those nerves will stay away long enough for him to get his recent average at the Oval (about a million). A friend went to see Surrey v Hamps a couple of years ago because he wanted his young son aged 2 to be able to say he saw Shane Warne bowl in real life. He did, and he also saw Ramps smash Warne around the park with contemptuous ease, including a skip - or was it an American smooth - down the pitch to loft Warne clean over the sightscreen in a manner which an Alien observer might confuse with him reading the morning papers over a croissant and latte.

So it might fail. And probably will. But ordinary England (in every sense) will also fail - and no probability about it. As for the bowling, obviously Harmison must stay ahead of Onions on a pitch that won't swing. Broad stays in according to the usual English policy of hoping he might become a totally different bowler whilst shoring up the batting at number 8. Shame Caddick isn't available anymore.

One final thing - if my aforementioned miracle does occur, then at least Ramps dancing a celebration will distract the media with an altogether more worthy spectacle than another Flintoff bender.

ohdake is the only flower said...

Dearest you,

Hello. So often I've felt the almost-unstoppable urge to come here and respond to things you've said or shown, but (as you may know) I am having to keep a very low blog profile at the moment, given the rather heinous blog crimes I've been committing. But now, I simply cannot hold my breath (or fingers), for this I really need to share with you, lovers as we are of synchronicity. For the past few days, I've felt a strange desire and passion for a particular word in the English language, and so fierce has this feeling been that I've come very close to writing a post based on how much I feel I love this word (thus exposing myself and my whereabouts to the Blog Police). Can you guess what the word is? Oh yes. I think you can. It is, oh dearest and best of bloggers, friends, Romans, countrymen and people, thistledown.

Thistledown. What a simply magical word, I've been thinking to myself, what a glorious word to conjure up imagery and emotions and sensations and feelings, and what a musical collection of sounds. So you can imagine my multiple delight at finding your post today. Of course, now that I'm here, I might as well mention how terribly I've enjoyed everything else you've put up here, since my last visit (or, more correctly, since I last opened my keyboard mouth, for I've been lovingly - and silently - loitering here on numerous occasions, of course). I've loved the words and I've loved the images and I've loved the you behind them (the condition persists).

So, you know, thank you and hello, my thistledown twin, with big heap love on top. And your sea photo looks like a painting. Glorious. Nothing but beauty onto your path, and good things only.


tpe said...

Mr Umpire, welcome back. I seem to be making a habit of failing to see people arrive here. Not a good look. Sorry, in any event, for the slight delay in getting back to you.

Anyway, yes. Yes to everything you say, really. I’ve read your response three times now and can’t find anything with which to disagree. Everything you say seems sensible, fair and right.


Whilst I fully agree that Mark Ramprakash (may peace be upon him) and Marcus Trescothick entirely deserve to be in the minds of the England selectors.......something doesn’t feel right here.

Oh, it’s hopeless, because I can see my argument collapsing as I cast forward and apply more honest wishes to my thinking – namely, the surpassing desire (and need) to see England beat Australia – but here goes, anyway: would there not be something slightly deflating and ultimately futile in selecting players with no recognisable future simply to win one match? I was going to use the word “dishonourable” there, as well, but can see that this would have been a step too far.

I suppose, in the case of Trescothick, it may conceivably be argued that he could still have a future with England (barring the return of his depressive illness, poor thing), but this doesn’t seem terribly likely. With Ramprakash, however, this would be a one-off venture with no hope of a repeat performance.

Like I say, I agree with everything you say: this is no time for conservative thinking, the best (available) team needs to be chosen, everything hinges on this deciding battle, there is a time and place for introducing new and exciting talent and a time and a place for persevering with established, although temporarily malfunctioning players etc...........

And so this is nothing more than a twinge, really, a sense that this doesn’t feel right. (Don’t worry, I really do see all of the arguments stacking up against what I’m saying and tend to agree with all of them – but you’ll allow me, I trust, my unease.)

As well as being a move without a future, I worry about the mental fragility of both players. The Australians, more so than any other team, have a habit of homing in on this to very good effect. Do you feel that either player, for example, would have the mental resolve to bounce back from a quick first innings dismissal? I have my (panicky) doubts.

(Continued below....)

tpe said...

(Continued from above.....)

Mark Ramprakash, of course, is far more confident and at ease with himself these days – I put this down to his winning performance in Strictly Come Dancing, as I’ve said before – but the sheer weight of pressure that such a game must generate may very well tip him straight back into the arms of his demons. (Of course, it’s also quite easy to visualise a triumphant 163 not out and an unbearably romantic ending....but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself.)

Also, I feel rather discouraged by the message such a selection (Trescothick or Ramprakash) sends out – not just to the Australians, but to all of those players plying their trade on the county circuit. As a very significant part of the battle is psychological, I can’t help wondering if this perhaps sends out signals of desperation to the newly rampant Australians? The scent of blood has never knowingly provoked a disinclination to go for the kill in the excitingly black hearts of Australian cricketers – and the message sent out is “we’re flailing”. It’s not just that I can see them licking their lips, I can very nearly hear them doing so.

And, rightly or wrongly, these battles with the Australians are very often held up as the be all and end all of English cricket, the thing which matters the most (I happily fall into this ridiculous way of thinking, too). What kind of message, then, is being delivered to those aspiring cricketers on the county circuit, the heart and soul of the game? I think it may go something like this: we don’t trust you. We don’t trust your talent and we don’t trust your temperament. More than that, we don’t trust you enough to give you a chance to prove us wrong. You can battle away all you like, but, in the event of an emergency, we will overlook the lot of you and give opportunities to men either seven years out of Test cricket or seriously ill in the head. But good luck to you.

I mean, it’s not exactly inspiring, is it? Although winning The Ashes may offer its own kind of inspiration to the (English) game as a whole, of course. However, the very fact that Mark Ramprakash and Marcus Trescothick are being considered at all, I suppose, rather confirms the (quite shocking) dearth of available (new) talent.

It would undoubtedly be a sensational move to pick either one of them, no arguments there. But what if it doesn’t work? What then? But oh dear lord, so help me, what if it does?

Either way, Ian Bell needs to apologise for being so disappointing and Bopara needs to grow up.

Ramprakash to save the day. Go England. No, Trescothick. No, Ramprakash. No, both. I bet they choose Robert Key. Would they? They can’t, surely? No, Mark Ramprakash to finally fulfill his beautiful destiny and make every English life temporarily worth the living. Although I like the idea of Trescothick opening, right enough.


upset and aroused in equal measures,


(You don’t think we would have been better discussing this after the team had been announced? Idle speculation is fun, though, isn’t it?)

tpe said...

Ohdake Is The Only Flower, a very good evening to you.

You have been committing blog crimes? Oh dear, Ohdake, why would you do such a thing? I am ignorant of your crimes, I have to say, although if I had to guess what they might be – which I do – then I would take a stab at the following:

You have a blog. You like your blog. You like the people who come and visit you there. But you decided to take a break. You liked this break. You liked the quiet that came and visited you there. From within the comfort of this silencing break, however, you continued to occasionally peek out at those guests knocking, in a hurtfully friendly manner, on your blog door. The clarifying safety of silence and distance, however, was proving a very hard spell to break. You watched your guests with a gathering guilt, despising yourself for your silence. The more they came, the more you wanted to reach out, the more you felt unable to do so. Your failure to greet them gnaws away at your soul, often serving to confirm your own terrible worthlessness in your own eyes – which only exacerbates matters and merely adds to the cumulative pressures of a prolonged silence and makes the prospect of actually breaking this silence seem agonisingly difficult. And so your guests stand out in the cold, unanswered, wondering where on earth you might be, their very kindness a permanent and painful reminder of your own most wretched and entirely imagined shortcomings.

Plus, you’ve been busy.

Phew. So that would be my (very rough) guess, Ohdake. Either way, you’ve really gone and done it this time, haven’t you? The game’s up, surely. I just can’t see anyone forgiving you, not now. You’re done for.

And wait a wee minute there but. The urge to come and talk to me is “almost unstoppable”? Or, to put it another way, stoppable. Why would you say such a cruel thing? What a sly, brutalising attack on my sense of self-worth. And my sea photo is “like a painting”? Now look here, my niece has produced many paintings in her few short years and not one of them has been any good. Not one. Is this what you’re getting at? I’m minded to believe that it is. (You would bring my niece into this? Seriously? Unbelievable.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.....

(Continued below....)

tpe said...

(Continued from above....)

Hello. How are you doing? It’s a very beautiful word, isn’t it? Would it be fair to say that your recent enthusiasm was provoked by some Louis MacNeice-shaped wanderings? Unless you tell me otherwise, I’m going to insist (to myself) that you stumbled ‘pon thistledown whilst reading (A) Prayer Before Birth. Certainly, the line I used – “blow me like thistledown” – was lifted directly from that very same thing (or my memory of it, more accurately). Some words have the magic in spades, mysterious guest of mine, and they leave us little option but to luxuriate.

Yes, we do seem to rather fondly embrace any incidence of coincidence, don’t we? And why ever not? (I recently had someone tell me about a friend of theirs, though, who went on about such things incessantly, attributing near miracle status to all manner of tiny events....and I had to agree that this could become tiring. It’s probably okay to keep these things quiet every once in a while, really, lest the patience of the listener is tested.)

Perhaps we both share some of Jung’s discontent with (what he called) the “godless, meaningless, clockwork universe of modern science”. Einstein put him right, of course, during the course of several meals, and the rest, as they say, is indecipherable. Synchronicity, the collective unconscious, the outright paranormal.......all good, as far as I’ve ever been able to tell, and all a very long way from my grasp.

But yes, where was I? So, Einstein put him right and then he (Jung), according to A Book, was inspired “to devise a philosophical framework which could explain the significance of coincidences and the force that generated them in the first place. Quantum mechanics for Jung was proof that at a fundamental level the Universe didn’t behave like a machine at all. Jung didn’t want to dethrone classical science; just show that there might be more to it. He believed, too, that science and spirituality should walk hand in hand, a belief shared by Einstein.”

And jolly well done the both of them, I say. I do wish someone would invent another word for “spirituality”, though. I instinctively recoil from this wretchedly unsatisfactory and cringe-inducing term. I’m going to let it slide, though, in the name of a greater harmony.

What in the name of sweet baby Jesus am I going on about? Enough already.

Nothing coincidental or surprising about my delight at finding you here, anywyay. It’s a delight ruthlessly formed and shaped in the furnace of a very rational and easily explicable sort of happiness. Oh, you’re a most wretched blog host, for sure, an absolute disgrace to the profession, yet remain an outstanding sort of human (even though you’re a girl). I’d be a fool not to be delighted. And your guests, when you finally say hello, will doubtless feel something similar.

Still – watch it.

Kind regards and very many love events thrown towards your feet etc....


tpe said...

Umpire - hello again. I've just seen the squad for The Oval. I thought it was going to be announced tomorrow. Strange.

Anyway, scratch everything I said to you (at very great length) last night. Barring a miracle, England are entirely doomed.

Yours, quite happy to believe in miracles,


Political Umpire said...

Well it was no great surprise. And yes the Aussies would have had a field day with the sledging. And it probably wouldn't have worked anyway. But the present lot haven't a chance, and this is accordingly no time for conservative thinking. They had to do something wild and pick one or both of Tres and Ramps.

Failed entirely to see your point about County Cricket - surely it was the opposite. Ramps presently averages 250,000 runs per hour in county cricket, and his average over the past four years exceeds one million. Or it might as well. (In reality he is over the ton this year and 90 over the past four). Tres is also scoring colossal amounts this year. So the message would be that relentless brilliance at county cricket (for heaven's sakes man, look at what Ramps has done at county level over the past four years) means you get a shot. Instead it doesn't.

tpe said...

No. I think you should have stuck to your original figures. Mark Ramprakash averaging 250,000 runs per hour in County Cricket is a very, very pleasing thought – and it may even have persuaded neutrals to have a look at cricket. You never know, neutrals could be reading this exchange. We need to lie, Umpire, and we need to lie BIG. So I think we should let it stand that he has averaged in excess of one million runs over the past four years. (He’d have been a fool not to, really, given his hourly rate.)

You “failed entirely” to see my point about County Cricket? Oh, you poor thing, that must have felt awful. Would it help if I wrote slower? (I can already see your slicing riposte swimming before my eyes: “no, just less.”)

Actually, you’re quite right, of course, and your logic is sound. I suppose I was really meaning that it felt like a retrograde step and that both men, especially Ramprakash, would be very unlikely to play for England ever again (whether it’s sensible to dismiss someone on grounds of age alone, of course, is debatable – and I imagine we can all think of some terrific examples of men in their forties playing quite beautifully). Or, in other words, the selection process would have felt mildly tainted by freakshow-ism, with novelty, one-off selections taking precedence over anything with half an eye to the future. And this, to me, would still seem to send rather a dispiriting message to those thrusty young bucks trying to make their way. They may also fairly have said to themselves:”but but but....those two have had their chance.”

Still, we’re left with what we’re left with, Umpire, and nothing about the direction we’re headed feels especially encouraging for England. A slight hope may be found, I suppose, in the fact that Ian Bell (a perennial disappointment) appears to have found a little bit of form. And the new guy, Jonathan Trott, was born in South Africa. That usually helps.

Anyway, I am slightly amending my prediction of an Australian win. Now, following nothing much at all, I see the game being drawn. This will be further amended, of course, as the teams walk out on the first morning when, as ever, I will be predicting an astonishing England triumph. This is how it goes.

Kind regards etc...


Shrink said...


tpe said...

tpe said...

Sorry, perhaps I should elaborate, Shrinky? One moment, please.....

tpe said...

tpe said...

Don't pretend you're not impressed.

Shrink said...


Shrink said...

- uh -

tpe said...

I see.

I'm going to take that as very serious praise, Shrink, although neutrals will perhaps make up their own minds as to what you may mean.

(Go easy on the lusty stuff, please. These are family-friendly pages.)

I'm hot on your heels today. Rather wondering, though, if this is such a desirable place to be.

Shrink said...


(presents Invoice for £40)

tpe said...

£40? That's quite reasonable, actually. Sometimes, Shrink, I've been charged double that for a session. What method of payment do you accept? My preferred method is non.

Have I been your best patient ever? Have you been troubled by transference going in the wrong direction? Wouldn't be the first time it's happened to me, that's for sure.

I may need more counselling, however, as I've just lost TV reception and the cricket stands at a perilously critical juncture. I'll double the non-payments for your trouble. Obliged.

(No, I'll triple them.)

Political Umpire said...

There are times in life when one is happy, very happy, to be proved wrong, and this was one of them, even though I didn't get to the Oval today as I was supposed to, thanks to the victory yesterday.

The Times has a load of stats this morning which make for interesting reading - Australia had eight hundreds to England's two, the three top wicket takers, they scored more runs across the series, had the most hundred partnerships, etc etc.

Which is all well and good, except it only proves that cricket is a team game, and that only one stat actually counts for anything, which in this instance was 2-1 in England's favour.

There is however one other telling statistic in England’s favour. Save for Headingly, England’s lowest first innings score was 332. Australia had first innings of 215 (Lord’s – lost), 263 (Edgbaston – might have lost if the third day hadn’t been washed out) and 160 (the Oval – lost).

More often than not, it’s the first innings wot wins it – and it was England wot won it.

I have seen various whinging from Australian corners, but as usual it is the Australian S. Warne who has the most insightful and entertaining observations. He said that the Australian's primary fatal error was not selecting a spinner (not that he's pushing his barrow or anything), and observed:

- if the pitch was being doctored to favour spin, no-one told England, who would otherwise presumably have chosen two spin bowlers, so there is to be no whining on that score;

- he didn't know who was responsible for Hauritz's non-selection, but proceeded to name the captain, coach and selectors, inferred that it had to be one or more of them, and whoever it was, was a complete berk (or less kind words to that effect).

tpe said...

Hello, Umpire. Lovely to see you again, especially in such auspicious times.

That's very interesting. I remember, in the not too distant past, feeling quite relieved and impressed whenever England reached 300 in the first (or any) innings. How times change. Plus, it now seems common for teams to get to 300 on the first day. I'm sure things used to be very different, slower, less attack-minded, no? We probably have the Australians to thank for raising the bar. (I have a mountain of newspapers - specially bought - to wade through, and have yet to come to The Times. Look forward to it.)

You're right, though, that is a very telling statistic and very unlike Australia to post such measly scores first time of asking.

The wretched 160 they cobbled together in this latest match, however, never once stopped me from thinking and fearing that they would achieve the five million or so runs necessary in the second innings. They may be a lesser side these days, true, but it still feels impossible to relax until every last one of them has been thoroughly, thoroughly killed.

Shane Warne is brilliant. I really like him. Sometimes - often - when former players turn their hands to punditry, the results are insultingly drab, often excruciating. (This happens more often in football, I am reliably informed.) They lack detachment, articulacy and/or literacy, and they can bring nothing to bear on their analysis. Depressing and, like I say, insulting. Shane Warne, of course, is a rather different animal. I trust his judgments and rather like the way he goes about the business of conveying them. I'm also simperingly grateful that England will never have to face him on a cricket pitch again.

On Sky News, by the way, they kept on calling Stuart Broad the "younger, slimmer" replacement for Andrew Flintoff. Both things are true, obviously, but it seemed a bit cruel on the retiring Flintoff. I'm not sure he's really going to be missed, is he? It seems awful to say such a thing, of course, but his appearances had become so sporadic that it's almost a relief to move on.

Anyway, never mind all that. England won The Ashes and this divine fact, for the immediate future (two years, say), is all that really matters. I certainly intend to pat myself on the back quite vigorously, Umpire, and I suggest that you do, too. The contribution of bloggers making wild predictions in the dark and pulling out their hair is far too often overlooked.

Hopelessly kind regards etc....


tpe said...

Goodness. I don't know how I missed the reference to your planned visit to the Oval today, Umpire. I'm not sure how I'd react in similar circumstances, really, although I think I would probably settle for the early victory and all the joys found therein. If you get a refund, though, then you must surely treat yourself to a most splendid bottle of wine. Tally-peep.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Is this where one comments on your latest post? Or simply to say hello? Well, I'd like to do both.

1. Hello (I have no way of knowing if you're gorgeous or not). But hello anyway. Haven't seen you at Blaugustine for a while, eh?

2. Bravo for your lucid latest post about the release of the Lockerbie man (who may or may not be guilty). All that you said concerning this rings true for me. Also I wonder what possible satisfaction can be gained by keeping the man in prison for the short time he has left to live? I deeply sympathise with those who lost loved ones but would it really make them feel better if his life ends in prison rather than outside prison, since it will soon be over for him in any case?

tpe said...

Ms d'Arbeloff, hello, it's sickeningly nice to see you here. How are you doing? I've only just this minute registered your arrival, sorry, but right now I'm going to bed (horribly, horribly tired). Back tomorrow to respond properly, though. Tally-peep.

tpe said...

Hello again, Natalie. I was at that critically tired stage (last night) where it feels next to impossible to string thoughts or words together. Not a good look. Bed was the safest place for me, really.

Anyway, yes, any and all comments end up in this space (and there is no requirement to make any mention of any posts, ever, incidentally). It’s all a bit jumbled and confused, unfortunately - and is sometimes closed entirely, come to think of it - but hopefully I’ll get round to opening a space for comments on the first page of the blog quite soon. (Only one comment thread open at any given time, though, just so you know.)

And I am gorgeous, yes, in a rather “why isn’t he as gorgeous as he makes out?” kind of way. Baffling. Many photos directly linked to this blog deal with my slightly disappointing gorgeousness, in fact. It’s all there. People need to be suspiciously curious or sufficiently angry to hunt them down, though.

“What possible satisfaction can be gained by keeping the man in prison for the short time he has left to live?” It’s hard to say, isn’t it? I tend to split people into two groups when trying to assess this.

On the one hand, then, we have the families of the dead. What they think, feel or say is beyond reproach – for me, anyway - even when their messages are sharply conflicting. They’ve earned the right, in the most appalling fashion imaginable, to hold just whatever views they feel the need to hold.

And then there’s everyone else, those people not directly affected by the violent loss of a family member. Those people, in other words, from whom a certain balance and detachment might reasonably be expected. It’s the stuff that goes on in their minds that interests (and often depresses) me the most.

Unfortunately - and as something of a side issue - a rather grimly farcical argument was occasionally used by some (a small minority) of those people decrying the fact of his release. I’m not sure if you came across it? Anyway, they calculated that Megrahi had spent only two weeks (or thereabouts) in jail for every life he allegedly took. This startling fact was meant to make the rest of us see that he had not spent nearly enough time in prison, I believe.

(Continued below....)

tpe said...

(Continued from above....)

They may be right in their calculations, of course, but their argument also immediately highlights the nonsense of a further three months (or even three years) spent in jail. Would they be placated, for example, if he spent two weeks plus less than half a day in jail for every life he took? Or even three weeks per life? I mean, when a jail sentence is judged in this way then yes, of course, the desire for justice can never be properly met.

(I have a feeling that people occasionally get handed ludicrous sentences in the USA – 270 years, say, a figure that is devoid of any sensible meaning. Or did I imagine that? Suddenly can’t say for certain, sorry, but you know what I mean.)

Anyway, it’s not strictly a USA versus Scotland kind of affair (which would be enough to make the most irrationally pro-American Scots – that would be me – weep with despair), as very many British and Scottish people appear to feel that the decision is a nightmare, too.

I imagine that people will bicker away about the rights and wrongs of releasing such a man for a very long time to come. You’ll either feel that this is the right approach, or you won’t. You’ll either recognise why this feels more like authentic victory, or you won’t.

And whilst all criticism should be welcomed and explored (how else, after all, to conduct a democracy and the ideas found therein?), what Scottish people don’t generally need is moral instruction from present-day Americans. The stones are huge and the glass walls of their American homes must surely be considered quite fragile.

It’s a cheap and obvious point, I suppose, but any step away from the moral disfigurement of the death penalty or a Guantanamo-shaped sense of justice feels like a step in the right direction, really.

To recap, then: I’m fairly gorgeous in a strangely disappointing way. That’s the main thing.

Kind regards and very many nice things etc...


(PS. Yes, sorry for not visiting for a while. I've barely been anywhere in space lately, unfortunately, but hope to put this right some time soon - although I'm going away for about a week tomorrow, right enough, so this may have to wait for a while. You'll soon enough regret reminding me that I owe you a visit, though, I'm sure. The tension mounts......)

Shrink said...


.......... ( ) ........

Shrink said...

£120 ..... :-)

tpe said...

Oh. That very nearly made me smile out loud, Shrink. You seem quite sparky today, (partially) full of beans. A long way away from your usual sullen silences, anyway. Playful, even.

I notice from our previous exchange, incidentally, that you seem able to describe your actions - "presents invoice for £40", for example - but remain firmly mute in the first person. Perhaps, calling on your narrator once more, you could tell me how you're doing? And, perhaps more importantly, how much you adore me etc?

Just a thought. Otherwise, alas, we may share a poorly lit future together.

Thoroughly therapised,


Shrink said...



...... x .......


Shrink Narrator said...

(countertransference altert: makes note to consult with supervisor)

tpe said...

A firm indication of love, I'd say, Shrink - as well as very high praise for my last post (stop, stop, you'll make me blush). Just as I suspected. Excellent.

But you have a supervisor? Crikey. I hope he or she is more forthcoming with, you know, words and stuff, otherwise your communications may fall the wrong side of non-eventful and be completely at odds with the very notion of helpfulness. You mime to each other, perhaps, in an atmosphere of seethingly malcontented silence? A worrying thought (for mentallers).

I probably should have told you earlier, Shrinko, but I'm not going to be attending sessions for at least a week, as I need to go away. First thing tomorrow morning, I'm gone. But your cheque is in the ghost, relax.

Until next week then, goodbye.

Mentally stable regards etc....


Montag said...

What a joy it is to hear from you, imponderable one!
I wait with my breath abated...waiting...waiting...waiting to get a word in edgewise, expostulating my belief that Queen Mab has blessed your mercurial, Mercutio tongue.

So. I see Queen Mab has been with you; faeries midwife and aldermen's fingers and all that rigamarole.

Your discussion of Plautus is almost as comic as Plautus himself. And that is extremely difficult, seeing that he possesses a cognomen "plautus" that is so very reminescent of "flatus"...probably rendered more grandiose in old Latium by pronouncing it "flautus". I am sure old Gaius Octavius suffered from "flautus", not mere "flatus".

The Ilissos was a creek in Athens, and, yes, Jowett is Benjamin. He is only second to Mr. Liddell of Liddel and Scott Greek Lexicon fame, Mr. Liddell being the father of Alice who drew the eye of Lewis Carrol.
Surprisingly enough, the mention of the Liddells make a superb nexus with one of your other posts: that dealing with Scotland's Mr. MacAskill's decision to release Mr. Megrahi.

All the furore forgets how truly sui generis are the Scots, forgetting such greats as Eric Liddell, who refused to run the 100 metres in the Paris Olympics -1924 - on the Sabbath.
No. The crude attempts of our FBI director to intimidate a Scotsman is truly comic.

Your mention of our Ovid-like exile is poignant: we being exiled for a whole unknown Kafka of reasons...all the while peering at the beauty of our shoes, all the while somewhere in the cosmos a solar system-sized cloud of ostraca inscribed with our names is accumulating.

nmj said...

I watched some of the Scottish Parliament debate on the rights/wrongs of releasing Megrahi, I was preoccupied by the fact that some of our MSPs failed to pronounce his name properly, saying 'Megraki', or sth suchlike. I think it was a horrible decision to have to make, especially with the 'is he even guilty in the first place?' question hanging over it all, but, really, why are so many of our MSPs so goddam uninspiring?

Gael said...

Doh. Just noticed the comments button.


There was a special prog, Soul Music, on the Miserere at the weekend:

Am resisting the urge to trawl back through the comments as am proof reading the dissertation. How time flies...

And FWIW, I'm wearing *the* T-shirt. Uber synchronicity ; )

O (the only flower) said...

Oh, Kind Sir. How well you know me, how well you read me, like a book (my pages wide open). For not only are your analyses of my criminal dilemma spot-on accurate (even when you claim you're merely being very rough), but also I had no idea where the thistledown had come to my head. None whatsoever. I thought it had just been blown there, right into my mind, from space somewhere, and had lodged itself there like, um, so much beautiful fluff, but now you've explained that as well. For I have indeed been having Louis MacNiece-shaped wanderings, 'pon which I have indeed stumbled 'pon thistledown - I'd just totally failed to make the connection myself. (I'm not even going to begin to wonder at how you can go inside my mind and make my connections for me - it seems to be the way you work, mysterious host of mine.) Anyway, yes, I've had those said wanderings, recently, and what wonderful wanderings they've been - wonderings, really, or perhaps even wanderful wonderings, who's to say? I've pretty much exhausted what there is to be found by the man 'pon the the internette, though, so I may just have to turn my eye 'pon An Online Bookstore. These things are worryingly modern and I'm not sure if I can operate one, but I've a good cause. I shall keep you informed of my progress, as always. (And I would bring your niece into this, yes. A charming child, she is (and I know you agree), although you're right, probably lacking in originality, skill, vision, cetra, as a painter. However, this may of course be said of many an older painter, too (compared to whom I believe your Miss Niece to be blissfully lacking in pretentiousness and bollocks). No. Yes. So don't you be going funny, please, on my comment about your beautiful, painting-like photo. There are paintings and Paintings, most talented host, as well you know, and yours is like a sea pained in sepia and magic. Way better than the wishy-washily sickly-sweet colours of many other sea painters (never liked that Turner guy much, for instance, or saw what the fuss was about. I'm obviously happy as a sandboy to be shown to be in the wrong, in this, should you be chairing, in your spare time, the Turner Appreciation Society, for instance). Hmmm. I've just realised I wrote "...and yours is like a sea pained in sepia and magic...", and while I obviously meant "painted", I think I like the pain coming into it too. Hallo, Guten Abend, Dr Freud, wie geht's ? Es is ein sehr grosses Cigar Sie rauchen.)

I've a feeling I'd better go for replying in two halves, too.

But onwards and onwards. May I be the first outsider to congratulate your good, kind, and gorgeous self (and why is Ms d'Arbeloff, who seems such a sensible and nice lady, doubting your gorgeousness? It makes no sense whatsoever), as well as the esteem Mr Umpire, for the vital role you must have played in the recent triumph of hope and a staunch, manly willingness to believe in miracles, over the barren wasteland of reality and likelihood (and the Australian cricket team). Congratulations, both of you. I'm very certain, with absolutely no understanding of cricket whatsoever, that you two more or less single-handedly tipped the balance of karmic likelihood in the favour of your team. Very well done and I hope you've both bathed in happiness and glory ever since.

(Back quicker than you'd think...)

O (contd.) said...

I'd obviously love to say something about your Jung/Einstein thing - but that will surely have to keep. For I came here, defying the wrath of the packed jury of my unanswered correspondence, to say something about haggis and about Megrahi. Or more like, the decision to release him. For I have thought about this a fair bit as well (in my woefully limited thinking capabilities). The way I see it (I think) is thuslike: the rule of Scottish law has been, as you point out, upheld to the very letter. Therefore there shouldn't really be any debate at all over whether the man should have been released - for not to have released him would surely have constitued an unlawful act, a decision flying right in the face of Scottish law, a miscarriage of justice? And could it (and indeed, would it) not have been argued, had he been allowed to die in prison, that Scotland was willing to bend its laws to lie flat on their faces (as if!) in front of the US? The man (whether he's guilty or not - for that is another issue, a worrying and horrifying issue, too, but a different one, as you point out) is dying, of that no-one's expressing any doubt (to my knowledge). The law of the land states that people serving life and having less than n months to live (was it three? I can't quite remember - apologies) should be released on compassionate grounds. This is the way the law has been written, and if something should be debated, it should be, I suppose, whether the law needs changing. My vote would be no, it shouldn't be changed, for it's a fine and compassionate law - but I'm not Scots, alas, and the debate over whether a Scottish law should be changed should be left for the Scots.

I think. And I do not mean to belittle the unspeakable pain caused to the families of the victims, of course. That is, as you so rightly point out, a separate issue again.

However. As for haggis being English - my my. Look, I know of a saying in a minority language, and it goes siitä puhe mistä puute - roughly, one talks of what one is lacking in. So if the English hus-wife was talking about haggis in the sixteen-hundreds, when the Scottish hus-wife wasn't (in her cook book, at any rate), it was most likely because she (the English hus-wife) was sorely lacking a bit of haggis to spice up her tasteless existence with her seethingly repressed, mummy-fixated ponce of a husband.

You know it makes sense. Of course, I've only ever had vegetarian haggis myself, but I made sure it was MacSween's. And very lovely it was too.

And with that, I bid you goodnight, sweet host, and wish you a speedy return from your travels to your domain. All manner of love things thrown liberally in your general direction, all over you, and strewn along the paths you tread.


Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

TPE, haven't been back here in a while so I've only just seen your fulsome reply to my minimal pipsqueaking. Thank you, I appreciate your thoughts.
It's strangely addictive and pleasantly confusing to read down the long column of comments left by your fans. A bit like being at a party where you don't know anyone and you move around the room catching fragments of conversations here and there. I don't have anything in particular to say right now except that I love the Don't Touch Mozart Miserere Story (which I hadn't heard before).
It would be nice to see you back at Blaugustine and I dare you to read all segments of "La Vie en Rosé" at one sitting. I will finish the thing but not immediately as I have to be away for several weeks but taking a laptop with me so some communication is possible.
Wishing you golden wings.

A Fan said...

dear TPE, I feel moved by Ms D'Arbeloff's comment to unlurk and join the party of conversational fragments. I like this idea, even though I do actually know a few of the party guests, including Shrink, but will pretend (out of courtesy really) that I don't.

How is it that we all gather round the hearth of your stallionly blaze? Funny how we do, really, but not surprising, perhaps. For one, it is curiously pleasant and refreshing here and for second one needs a few pleasantly confusing addictions, is what I find in life. What do you find in life, Clonakiltian Guru?

Janejill said...

Oh I love Omar sooo much - he is better than anyone Shakespeare concocted. But I love Bubs too, even more I think. He is so fine , deep, sad and intelligent and will not , I hope , be defeated. Hate the way modelmaker man has gone and I still miss deAngelo and Stringer. they are like my lost family I think. I will never ever believe that Obama is anything but fantastically imperfect , so he is just perfect. x

Janejill said...

How did I get here?

tpe said...

A very good question, Janejill, and one which we should all ask ourselves from time to time. I barely stop asking it.

A Fan
(a fan?)
....and Janejill.

Hello. I was away for longer than I thought, sorry about that. I'll get back to you all at some point this weekend. Many loves in the meantime......


Reading the Signs said...

Avast there, me hoof-thunderin' stallion! Arrr, it be Talk Like A Pirate Day.

tpe said...

Already? I thought Talk Like A Pirate Day was a good few months away, Signs. The last time you were afflicted by such a thing feels so recent. Too recent. I have a feeling, however, that any day in which people are expected to talk like pirates is always going to feel too recent.

Incidentally, does this mean that your Sing Like A German Day is imminent, too? (Du singst aber wirklich wunderbar, das muß ich sage. La voix est juste et belle, le chant sincère et l'enthousiasme est.....okay, enough.) I seem to remember that the two things lie closely together in The Giant Calendar of Unreasonably Big Events. I look sideways to it, anyway.

Right, I need to get on with responding to those people who came before you, Signora, although I daresay I shall see you later.

Wish me luck, I may be gone some time.......

tpe said...

Montabulous. Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I was away. No, really. Things got out of hand and I ended up being away longer than anyone might reasonably have anticipated. I’m back now, though, so we can all just calm down and get a grip.

What a perfectly judged and beautiful response, thank you. I have a strong feeling that I’m not going to be able to do it justice, I’m afraid, as I race to complete my blog-host duties before the night is done. I can only apologise in advance. (In case I don't get round to it, though, can I just say how pleased and happy your response made me feel?)

Anyway, that rule I mentioned to you, the one that allows me to make only one internet search per guest, remember? Well, that lies in ruins right about now and my fingers are still hot from the frantic nature of my enquiries.

Particularly galling was the fact that I had to look up Eric Liddell. I know, I know, you gave some details and I knew that I actually knew (of) him…..but, well, I just wasn’t sure enough and so had to quickly refill my emptiness.

And what a tale. Certainly, from the information I’ve hurriedly scraped off the heartwarming soul of my internet, it seems that not only did he refuse to run the 100 metres because the heats were to be held on a Sunday, as you correctly say – which in itself is already an honourable enough action, of course, a gladdening refusal to put public glory before his own firmly held beliefs – but he simply switched disciplines and entered the 400 metres, instead. No drama. No fuss. And thank you for the gold. Perfect. These things are magic, no?

(Actually, as I write, I’m starting to feel sure that a rather famous film was made about all of this. Oh dear. I bet I hide away in shame for a week once I’ve remembered what it was called. This will annoy me – and quite possibly destroy me, too, if the scale of my oversight is too large.)

In a happy way – and sorry to get personal here – this all reminds me a bit of my (maternal) grandfather. As a child, of course, the Sundays were an absolute agony. A stark and unknowable silence would descend, no games, no grandfather to speak of, really, and absolutely no TV. (Although even at the best of times, I should say, the TV was only ever allowed for The News.) The horror. The horror.

Now it all makes more sense. I may not share the beliefs that he held, but I certainly seek out his silence. (Usually, although less so lately, alas, for weeks on end at a time.) I’m not entirely sure that they make men like Eric Liddell (or my grandfather) anymore. What happened?

The FBI man messed up a wee bit, didn’t he? It was an unfortunate intervention from someone who really should have known an awful lot better. One thing, though: I’ve been slightly appalled by some of the reactions of (some) Scottish and British people and their general view that Americans (in general) have no right to say their piece. I find this amazing.

More so, in fact, when I consider how very often we Britishers all shout to the stars when American foreign (and even, sometimes, domestic) policy makes us feel slightly queasy. How dare you, we scream, you can’t do that, you need to do things our way. We march, Montag, and we luridly foam - and we never once, as far as I’ve ever been able to tell, feel that we need to keep our views to ourselves. It’s surprising, then, to say the very least, that some of us feel so able to tell Americans to shut up for daring to voice an opinion.

Oh dear, I’ve already gabbled on too much without even touching on the magic of your words. (Plus, I also seem to feel that I need to be asking you about County Kerry and Fatima. I have a feeling that this is something I’ve picked up from your blog, but the thought remains incomplete.)

Thank you again for such a lovely response.

Kind regards and very many happy things etc,


tpe said...

Hello, NMJ. How are you doing? I hope your eye problems have cleared up. Nasty business.

Well, yes and no. It was certainly a horribly difficult decision to have to make, I agree. Can you imagine being faced with such a (very public) dilemma yourself? Painful stuff.

I see what you’re saying, of course, and find it hard to believe that the question of Megrahi’s guilt (or otherwise) won’t have passed through the mind of the Justice Secretary (he’s only human, after all), but, in a cold-eyed way, this doesn’t matter and shouldn’t really be allowed to impact on the principle of compassionate release. In other words, then, the principle itself should transcend such concerns.

And so, even in the face of an undeniable and most terrible guilt, say, “compassion” may assert itself and reserve the right to primacy. Personally speaking, I happen to think that this principle is made even more beautiful when the beneficiary is an absolute bastard, although I may struggle to explain why, exactly.

(Clearly, of course, it would be nice to think that innocent people would always be allowed to spend their lives on the right side of the cage, but that’s a different thing.)

Anyway, it’s depressing, yes, that so many of our MPs are uninspiring. They are such a drab little lot, pokey and sectarian. It’s a terrible shame, for example, that Kenny MacAskill couldn’t find it within himself to give a stirring speech outlining his particularly vital take on the morality of law and the sculpting of a (reborn) society etc. Did you see his statement to the press (immediately) after he had released Megrahi? Oh my life.

I bet the speech looked absolutely terrific on paper and whoever wrote it had clearly – very clearly – watched The West Wing. Placed in the faltering mouth of Kenny MacAskill, however, it became quite tragically inept, almost disgusting. I could barely watch. He came across as someone bigging himself up as a man of destiny whilst simultaneously seeming to patronise the fiercely sober press pack (and the waiting world) with his crucifyingly…..slow……de…..liv…..e…..ry.

He was maybe a wee bit like a frightened supply teacher, in fact, trying to appear in control and all sexually confident and stuff as he attempts to show some know-it-all teenagers a particularly embarrassing slideshow on malfunctioning equipment that keeps on freezing at the rude bits. Excruciating. (And he went straight out the door afterwards, of course, spilling his papers to the floor, denying the sniggering press the chance to ask: “please, Sir, what’s an erection again?”)

Still, does it actually matter? The sentiment is what counts for most, ultimately, and we run the risk of having greasily showbiz politicians if we expect to be inspired all the time.

(Also, I remember mouthing-off about the ultimately meaningless nature of Barack Obama’s scintillating campaign rhetoric, for example, and how queasy it made me feel to see people unquestioningly fall for it and treat him as a Messiah as a result, so I would be on particularly thin ice if I demanded inspiration on tap. And yes, I like Barack Obama a very great deal.)

Stringing a few sentences together at something slightly more skippy than a glacial pace, however, doesn’t seem like an unreasonable expectation to have of the servants.

Kind regards (and the hope that everything is alright in your world) etc.....


tpe said...

Hello and very firm handshakes all round, Gaelileo. Before I forget, you’re terribly clever and good luck with the dissertation. (I don’t just mean with the proofreading, either.)

You show sense in “resisting the urge to trawl back through the comments” on this page. I resist this urge, too. My dog, Emma, simply clicks on the intercom and announces when someone bearing words has arrived in my blog foyer. She gives me a name, nothing else (she’s not that good at speaking, not yet). And then, in a darkened room, I type out an answer, trying to guess what this person might have said to me.

Once finished, I bang on the door three times and hand my written response back (through the latch) to Emma. She types it all into an internet (I’m denied access to such things) and posts it here, I believe, on my blog. (I have a blog?) I think she’s attempting to determine the levels of psychic sympathies between human beings.

It’s much worse when she’s testing shampoo or whether such and such a meat derivative is suitable for canine consumption (it always is), so I shouldn’t complain, really. I just wish she’d occasionally let me on the sofa.

Thanks for the link. I tried to listen and found that I couldn’t. Apparently, only those people with “selected wi-fi/G3 enabled mobile phones” can do such a thing. I’ve looked at that phrase (“selected wi-fi/G3 enabled mobile phones”) a few times now, Gael, and have yet to feel the slightest twinge of recognition. Is it even English? A great shame, anyway, as I would probably very much like to listen to the programme. Is there a twentieth century version, I wonder?

Yes, you’re right, though, it’s very synchrono…. synchrinicito…. synchroma…. eerie that this programme should have been doing the rounds at the same time as I bleated on about the hallowed, beautiful, utterly agonising Miserere. What were the chances? (I’d say quite high, actually, but let’s not spoil things, Gaeli.)

Eerier still, dramatically enough, is the fact that I was banging on about Carl Jung and the wonders of eerie in one of my comments a few short weeks ago. You won’t know this, of course, because you resisted the urge to look at the comments. And I won’t ever know what provoked me to talk about Carl Jung and the wonders of eerie, it should go without saying, because I resisted that urge, too. Spooky. Emma will have her work cut out making sense of this, for sure.

In my head, I still have barely credible images of you wearing that T-shirt. Let’s just leave things there.

Lovely to see you here again, Gael.

Kind regards etc....


tpe said...

Ohdake, hello again and welcome back. The poems you linked to are a treat. The haggis one actually made me smile – unheard of since, roughly, 1973 – and the other one was slightly strange and funny and sad and emotionally recognisable (if that can ever make sense).

That’s reliably pleasing news about your Louis MacNeice explorations. I realised once I’d mentioned that I’d (bravely) stolen the words “blow me like thistledown” from Prayer Before Birth, in fact, that I had also very recently accepted the opportunity to appropriate the words “nodding under the paperweight” from another of his poems.

This, in itself, is not exactly unusual – “the rose of all the world is not for me“ and “a paradise of wildernesses” being other very recent examples of my habit of using stolen lines of poetry (stoletry?) – but two MacNeice thefts in a row seems quite stark. There is clearly something MacNeicey in the air and both of our heads seem perfectly incapable of preventing incursions.

“And I would bring your niece into this, yes…..she is……probably lacking in originality, skill, vision, cetra, as a painter. However, this may of course be said…….to be…….pretentiousness. So don't you be going funny, please, on my comment about your……photo. There are paintings and Paintings… well you know, and yours is like a…. pained……sickly…….fuss.”

I’m not going funny, Ohdake, merely highlighting the crunchingly savage nature of the sentiments in your last response. Those are your exact words, after all – in strict order of appearance – and the blame for this outbreak of aggression lies at the door of your own very violent, very confrontational home. Leave the girl alone and learn to contain your venom, aggressor. You think my poor little (Mc)niece doesn’t feel bad enough about being totally rubbish at painting? You would jeer at her abject hopelessness, laughing at her risible attempts? And now you don’t even seem to like my photo, either. Incredifying. Astonishful. Einfach unglaublich.

Und ja, genau - es scheint unglaublich dass die zigarre von Dr Freud so super huge ist. Aber warum ist die zigarre von Dr Freud so uber-ridiculous und gross? Warum braucht er diese dinge? Psychologische faktoren, vielleicht? Na ja, was Ich sagen (fragen) wollte: zwischen 5,500,628,712 und 5,500,628,716 (oder so) menschen sterben jährlich durch Passivrauchen, wissen sie? Der zigarrenrauch von Dr Freud muß fur alles allein verantwortlich sein. Freud allein trägt die verantwortung. Es muß sein. Nein, doch. Eine zigarrenförmig menschliche Tragödie, Ohdake.

Good heavens, I do wish I would shut my face sometimes. I felt rather provoked, though, by your German - as Churchill has no doubt said to God many, many times as they reminisce about the build up to the Second World War over a jovially rueful brandy. (That only really works if you pretend to yourself that you don’t know that Hitler was Austrian. I suggest that you do this, have a wee laugh and then move on, okay? Okay.)

Right, let’s see what you’re saying. Hmm. Well, personally speaking, I would be secretly happy for Scotland to lie down and lick the feet of America every once in a while, cooing admiring words and trying to make everything seem nice and attractive and lovable in the hope that they (the Americans) would fall for us.

(Continued below.....)

tpe said...

(Continued from above....)

I’m an unreliable witness to these things, really, because my love for (at least the idea of) America knows no bounds – even, possibly especially, when so many Europeans are sneery and dismissive and, frankly, downright prejudiced.

I still eat and ask for Freedom Fries, as it happens, but this is probably more to do with being perpetually annoyed by the French (or at least the idea of the French). I also play with my freedom horn as I look out of my freedom windows, but that’s maybe a different thing.

I daresay you’re right, however, in that some people would have said such things about Scotland had Megrahi been allowed to die in prison, but that’s fairly par for the course and I’m not so sure that these things need to be taken as insults. And yes, you’re right, the decision remains entirely faithful to Scots law, although I have a feeling that compassionate release isn’t mandatory in the event of someone becoming terminally ill (I could be wrong).

In other words, then, I don’t think it would necessarily become a miscarriage of justice not to release a terminally ill prisoner, if you see what I mean. The Justice Secretary has the option of releasing a dying person, certainly, but the decision to do so still has to be made.

True, I agree with you, any decision to change the law should be left to those people living under it, but I have a feeling that the principle of compassionate release deserves a wider airing (it surpasses Scotland and Scottish interests, in other words) and it always pays to listen to other people – no matter how crazy they may occasionally appear – because it helps to clarify the thoughts (and feelings) and because other people very often have better ideas and arguments.

I’m excited when everyone pitches in (just so long as they’re reasonable about it – the FBI guy disgraced himself, for instance) and think this is the best way to go. It shouldn’t feel like a threat or an unreasonable challenge to Scotland or Scots, it should just feel like an opportunity to explore further ideas. Glorious. (Bear in mind, please, that I grew up with three sisters and it often took a UN resolution to settle the naming of a family pet. Heady, heady days, and some of our campaigning rhetoric would have made Barack Obama feel low key and perfectly inadequate. My poor mum.)

Hang on. You said: “I know of a saying in a minority language, and it goes siitä puhe mistä puute - roughly, one talks of what one is lacking in.”

Avec toi une dispute est vraiment impossible, bien sur, mais I’m always talking about my good looks, tigerish prowess at sex-fighting and my all round general magnificence. What are you trying to say? Further insults (and truths)? Is there no end to this hate-filled campaign of yours? Unglaublich.



Shocked regards and a very angry freedom kiss administered with fury to your neck (and surrounding areas) etc……


tpe said...

Natalie, good evening and hello. Thank you for the thank you. (It’s always nice to fall into a thank you.)

Now then, that sounds like a challenge: read La Vie en Rose at one sitting. Are we simply talking a fair sized slab of writing here or is this a War and Peace type of affair?

Unbeknownst to him, of course, Montag (a guest here, see above) is one of the reasons I’ve not been to see many blogs lately. When I find a blog that I really like then my habit is to go back to the beginning and read absolutely everything. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the more I read (of Montag) the further behind I seem to fall. It’s unusual to find someone who appears able to write quicker than most people can actually read (let alone think), but there we are. Even more unusual, in fact, for such a prolific output to be worth the read. Not some of it or most of it, all of it. (Everything feels related, in some weird, indefinable, where are we all heading? kind of way.) I’ve finally got myself into his 2009, however, and I had already been scanning most of his output for this year (as it arrived on Google reader), so I’m hoping he’ll fall ill for a bit and allow me the chance to catch up.

Anyway, in between acknowledging any guests here and clawing my way up Mount Montagerest, I’ve had precious little internet time to play with.

However, I’d be prepared to bet that I’ll read your stuff in one sitting. Normally, you see, given my many absences from Blogoslavia, I would expect (upon my various, astonishingly magnetic returns) to read anything up to twenty or so new posts from any one of my favourite bloggers, faithfully carrying on from where I left off – and so I have good form, Natalie, in reading a lot of stuff at one sitting and would most likely have been doing this with you, anyway.

Now that a kind of challenge has been set, though, I feel there should probably be some money riding on the outcome. And so, once I’ve completed my happy task and challenge, I’ll invoice you, okay? I think £120 should do it. A random figure, it’s true, although I can’t help noticing that this sum would neatly cover the costs of the latest therapy I’ve been receiving from Shrink (again, see above) on these very pages. Ah ‘tis grand, to be sure, when a plan falls into place.

Why are you going away for a few weeks? Where are you going? What will you be doing? Will you be alone? Do you do this a lot? If so, why? If not, why? In the absence of any answers, Ms d’A, I’m going to guess that you’re going to Portugal to visit family and will be looking for some peace to write and possibly paint (and definitely drink lovely red wine). It’s a nice enough thought, anyway, if all else ails. Ails? Hardly. I think you’ll find I meant to say “fails”, Natalie, so watch it. (Although “ails” probably works under the circumstances, really, it's quite a nice typo.)

Kind regards and many outright happinesses with whatever you may be up to etc….


(Oh. You’ve illustrated parts of your story, too? I’ve just briefly scanned La Vie en Rose - I’ll easily peasily read it in one sitting, by the way – and already obstinately adore two of the accompanying illustrations. You are a rare joy, Natalie.)

tpe said...

A Fan, hello and welcome and how do you do?

I was ready to chastise Ms d’Arbeloff quite fiercely, you know, for suggesting that any visitors here might be considered as “fans”. I know for a fact that the mere notion would make Political Umpire, zum beispiel, feel very, very sick (and quite possibly litigious). I was going to tick her off and be funny and charming and quite brilliantly self-effacing, attractively laughing at the very thought of fans, whilst doing just enough to keep the topic going (without ever seeming to want such a thing to happen).

But then you popped your head round the door, hinting at fanship and thus prematurely obliterating my handsomely planned denials to Ms d’A, stopping me in my tracks and, quite frankly, spoiling things. Why would you do that? Is that the act of a fan? You would cut me off in full flow, undermining my arguments and credibility? Ma davvero? Scandaloso. As a fan, A Fan, you maybe need to work on your act a little bit. This should all be about making me look good, not denying me the chance to shine.

You know Shrink? How can this possibly be? This has set me spinning. I mean, I’d be surprised if there was even one un-therapised person on this page, of course, and so we all know Shrink on some level. But you know this actual Shrink, the very same Shrink from above? Goodness me.

Hmm and double hmm. I felt sure that I knew who Shrink was, too, but now I’m not so certain. What have I done? Let’s see……you must be rather close to Shrink to have known that he or she was (anonymously) therapifying on these pages. This, to my way of thinking, makes you either a very near neighbour or friend or the husband or wife or child or parent of Shrink. Would that be fair? Just narrowing things down here, you understand.

Or you could be a fellow patient, I suppose, and you may recently have stolen a look at Shrink’s diary: August 18th - made sinister, silent intervention on blog of (damnably attractive) patient TPE. First of many!!!! Campaign against him has started!!!!! Was a bit drunk, though, v. regrettable. Going to turn him inside out and make him rue the day he made me love him so horribly, horribly much, the pathetic, messed-up, laughably suicidal, dad-hating, not nearly as attractive as he makes out, good for nothing bastard!!!!! Oh man, I’m going to destroy him!!!! This is more fun than psychologically tormenting my husband or wife. (Note to self: remember to get basil from Tesco tomorrow. Or car parts from Kwik Fit, obviously.)

Well? Does any of that sound familiar? I’m thinking it must, A Fan, I’m really just thinking it must.

Anyway, do you have a(nother) name? I’m going to guess that if you’re a woman your name begins with N and that if you’re a man it begins with M. Apart from that, I’m clean out of ideas.

What do I find in life? Good question. I’ve no real clue. I find that I find all the things that I find and then I try to stay calm at the limited scale of these findings.

And on that (fortune cookie scented) bombshell, I must quickly sign my name on your leg (fans like this sort of thing, apparently), stand with you for a grinning, thumbs-up moment as a passerby takes our picture with your camera, make vague promises about calling the number you’ve pushed down – or up – my kilt, and hop back on the tour bus with a smouldering “I love me very much” goodbye. Next venue: Janejill Stadium. It’s a sell out.

Kind (of sleazy) regards and winks and nods from the back of the bus as it pulls out into the traffic etc……


tpe said...

Hello, Janejill, how are you doing?

Omar is fantastic, isn’t he? I can only really think of a couple of dodgy lines he may have spoken…..and then everything else is near flawless. He is a stunningly good character and he somehow makes his entirely immoral means of living seem almost upright and morally centred (and often quite funny, too). That’s some trick.

I’m suddenly very aware of the fact that you may not have seen all of The Wire. Maybe you’re still working your way through the fourth or fifth series? Who rightly knows? Mindful of a painful lesson learnt whilst younger, I’ll resist the temptation to ask what you think or feel about this or that event.

Once, whilst sixteen or eighteen and heading at pace on a train towards the boat for (mafia-infested, wild, hopefully blood-soaked) Sicily, I was impatient to find out how far my companion had got in reading his book (which was my book, in fact, as I had lent it to him) - The Godfather (by Mario Puzo). Don’t laugh at our reading material, okay, we were males – probably still are - and this is what males did and do.

(I usually needed to find girls in order to talk about books with longer, softer words in them, and even then it usually felt indefinably vital to maintain a tough-looking expression whilst doing so. Or, better still, avoid girls altogether and simply write everything down in a notebook and spend too long making floral designs for the cover.) Anyway.

Me: Have you got to the bit where Appolonia gets blown up and killed?

(Former) Friend: No.

Oh dear. I could tell by the length of time it took him to answer and by the way that he did so through his teeth (whilst still looking down at the book, eyes frozen), Janejill, that this was a painful blow I’d dealt him. It’s not just that I’d entirely ruined an element of the “plot”, which was bad enough, I’d also burdened him with the terrible knowledge that Appolonia, oh sweetest Appolonia, was about to die.

As well as harbouring a fairly certain hunch that we would both be happily (and randomly) welcomed into the Corleone crime family, of course, I was also very much in search of my own Appolonia as we raced, in unusually angry silence, towards the sea. I felt his pain, for sure.

So I need to be careful here, lest I ruin things for you, too.

I feel the same way about Bubbles, incidentally. His portrayal of rock bottom is often terribly affecting - from the heights of his obvious emotional anguish right down to the classic, drug-addled gait. It’s all so brutal and tender and hopelessly hopeful. The only character I find myself having trouble warming to (or entirely believing), in fact, is Kima Greggs. It seems churlish to complain, however, given the fact that an awful lot of people have gone to an awful lot of trouble to produce an awful lot of impeccably high-class drama. So I’ll shut my mouth and simply be grateful for their intensely impressive efforts.

Where have you been, Janejill? I notice that your blog is still “disappeared” (although not, hopefully, in the rather sinister and permanent 1970’s Argentinian sense of the word). No matter, it’s good to see you out and about and I hope that all is well.

Kind regards etc….


Nicola said...

Hello tpe, my name begins with N as you can see, but I'm not A Fan; I'm Another Fan. So you see you have two. How embarrassing is that? (You can always pretend). Lovely to see you back.

tpe said...

Hello, Nicola, and welcome back to the zoo.

You may have guessed, I suppose, that I felt A Fan might have been you? It’s bad enough that I would dare to presume your fanship, of course, but now I’ve only gone and (playfully, attractively, elegantly) verbally mauled A Fan in the mistaken belief that it was someone I already knew, someone well able to see through my seething hostilities and appreciate the work-shy man behind them. What have you done?

This is bad on so many levels.

Plus, it’s now beginning to look suspiciously like I make these contributors up myself (in order to allow for a seeming magnificence as I best the lot of them in sparring and wonderful word play). Have you noticed that? So many people - Janejill, Ohdake, Daisy-Margarita (whatever happened to her?), John, Shrink, Shrink Narrator, A Fan and now Another Fan (that would be you, Nicola, pay attention) – seem to come here without having blogs of their own. This makes me look like one of those dire people who would boost their own self-esteem and try to impress others by fraudulently inventing guests for their own blog.

I am like one of those people, to be fair, it’s just that I’ve yet to activate that particular lowness on this particular occasion. Anyway, this is all starting to make me feel terribly queasy.

So who, then, is the mysterious A Fan? I have to fall back on my other guess now – A Fan is a man (or a woman, just not you) – although I’m starting to wonder if A Fan and Shrink are perhaps one and the same utter swine. Oh how, oh why have my (peerless) psychic abilities so suddenly abandoned me? You’ve really messed things up pretty badly, you know, by not being A Fan. Happy now?

How are you doing, my Nicola? Did you notice that the summer has entirely disappeared? I noticed. How is it at all possible that it’s nearly October already? I would have to check the records, of course, but I have a feeling that 2009 has been the quickest year yet.

I’m not complaining, I promise, as I welcome the race towards the future and beyond, but this must be a scientifically recognised thing, surely, this speeding up of the years? If I had to make an honest guess, I would say that there have been roughly seventy days in the year so far, that’s all. We should still be in March.

Don’t be frightened, everything’s under control, but what a pace we set as we silently scream through space. Amazing stuff. At this rate, 2010 should be a distant memory by Christmas. Just in case I don’t see you until tomorrow, then, Happy New Year.

Dizzying regards and an array of lovely messages etc…


Nicola said...

To think, through insensitivity, I allowed another fan instead of myself to be mauled by you. I am stricken at what I have missed...
Hmmm well, I'm still, slow as I am, trying to work out who's who here.
Seventy days to the year? I thought it might at least have been ninety, but judging by the fact I haven't quite caught up with autumn's beginning, I think you are probably (only probably)right. Don't be frightened? I am, and hanging on to my seat.
Quite alright to presume my fanship...for now...

Reading the Signs said...

Whaddya mean, Already? ok, TPE, you asked for it - you want Sing Like a German Day? Here goes, (forgotten how to do the blue thing, it's been so long)and you have to listen to all of it. I've hired her to come and sing at your birthday party, so watch it.

I'm a bit miffed, you know. I put my whole heart into International Talk Like A Pirate Day (look, it's not just something I came up with, it is a huge and significant event and you really ought to have it on your calendar), I got Amstelled and everything, and only one of the Elect has come to pay their respects. Then I come here and see the reason why - they (and I include Shrink) are all worshipping at your shrine, McGuru. Me too, obviously.

A Fan said...

Well, I don't think I have another name, I am just A Fan. But this being Blogoslavia, how can any of us be sure that we are who we think we are? Even Shrink, for example (yes, I am close to him, and confess that I have stolen many a look at his diary). But you touched on something when you said that we all know Shrink on some level. Perhaps we actually are him and could go around babbling like they did in Being John Malkovitch. But instead of saying Malkovitch, Malkovitch (if you didn't see the film this won't make any sense), all we need to say is -

That is how psychoanalytic therapy works, you see, you internalise the therapist (or is it the other way round?) so you and he are, in effect, one. And I am his neighbour, friend, spouse, child and parent. Yes.

Nicola, thank you for your kind concern. Being mauled by TPE is, however, something A Fan must accept - relish, even.

But, TPE, if I were you (and let us for the purposes of this conversation accept some notion of individuation), I would be just a little worried about recent entries in Shrink's diary because it seems to me he is becoming a bit obsessed in a, you know, stalkery kind of way. The note to self about basil and Kwik Fit parts is particularly worrying because it suggests a fundamental splitting off from ego. He needs help, obviously, and who but you to provide that? It's the least you can do, as it was clearly your charisma that unhinged him.

I am, of course, on your side, whatever, and remain, devotedly,

A Fan

tpe said...

Nicola, Signs, A Fan. Hello.

You are trying to work out who’s who here, Nicola? I feel your pain. If it helps, I have cobbled together a condensed version of the “action” from these pages (see below). It’s a lovely tragedy, I’m sure you’ll agree, artfully unfolding in three bite-sized pieces of incoherence.

With the exception of some tampering with the words (if not the sentiment) of Anna MR (in her second comment), everything remains faithful to the order in which it left the fingers of other people. Nothing has been added, merely omitted. And so they only have themselves to blame.

Signs, I like you a very great deal.

A Fan, you’re very lovely. And interesting, too. Who would have thought?

And Montag? “Exiled for a whole unknown Kafka of reasons?” Peerless.

Part 1 said...

ANNA MR: I’m the first to say hello.
TROUSERS: I’m the second.
NMJ: I’m a hooligan.
TPE: You three, go away. I’m busy.
ANNA MR: But those killers in Somalia you were talking about…you will at least agree that they are revolting and depressing human beings?
TPE: Yes. Now go away.
ANNA MR: I’m worried.
TPE: Don’t be.
NMJ: But they are terrible human beings.
TPE: I admire you, NMJ.
TROUSERS: I agree with Anna MR.
TPE: Thanks very much, Mr T.
TPE: This went well, I feel.
SIGNS: It’s a Jewish-Glaswegian-Spanish thing.
TPE: Thank you, comrade Signs. Tiger Woods refers to himself as “Cablinasian”. We need an anthem.
TPE: Sorry.
SIGNS: We are all Communists. Excellent.
ANNA MR: I had a triple role as an SS official, a London blackshirt and a Treblinka survivor.
SIGNS: Comrade Anna, you seem to have found a solution by replacing spank with pain. No-one can stop us now.
SIGNS: I’m speechless. Perhaps it’s just a girl thing. Never mind. But no. Yes. Baffled.
TPE: Not that you asked, but my aunt was a doctor.
SIGNS: Wait. Good luck with the tax.
NMJ: I love Christy Moore. I’ve seen him in concert.
JANELLE: Hello. I deciphered the iambic thingymabob.
TPE: What, Janelli?
TPE: You’ve seen everyone in concert, NMJ. Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Christy Moore….the list is ended.
TPE: I got a nice long email, Trousers, as I’m sure you’ll be delighted and thrilled to hear.
NMJ: The first Christy Moore song I ever heard…..I used to sing it constantly.
NMJ: Don’t forget your shovel.
NMJ: I am havering spectaculary (which always seems a bit sinister, don’t you think?)
TPE: I do think that, yes. I feel a small prickling of dread. As an act of mercy the blog host should delete these things and pretend that nothing has happened.
TPE: Send your flowers to heaven and surely they will find me.
NMJ: Thanks, you are clinical excellence itself. I can’t listen to City of Chicago without getting v. teared up.
NMJ: YouTube just causes rage.
JOHN: Where am I?
TPE: I’m watching you like a hawk, John. An armed hawk.
TPE: Is everyone capable of this brutality, Anna MR? They probably are. I may just go to bed and catch up with Signs and NMJ.
TPE: Signs, hello. Where were we? An amazingly good feeling. I never knew being a Redski could be such fun. NMJ, being a man is surprisingly hard work. I must sleep. Sorry.
TROUSERS: Some kind of threat?
TPE: Trousers, I’ll be back later, but must deal with love-struck author NMJ first. NMJ, nobody actually needs to sing or make music. We just go right ahead and do it. It all seems a bit French.
TPE: You have days in which you feel uncharacteristically mean, Trousers?
TPE: Here’s a picture for you, Signs. Incredibly, I can’t seem to find one with all of us together.
TPE: Signs, I gave you eight hours. This seems like enough. Can’t say fairer than that.

Part 2 said...

ANONYMOUS: I’ve jumped the gun.
TPE: Hello, Anonymous. You must have a blog.
MONTAG: They were all herded together, all sizes and shapes, from all countries of the world, into an epistolary gulag where time seemed to stand still.
ANONYMOUS: You are right!
MONTAG: Gadfrey!
TPE: At last, the voice of reason. It’s a relief to welcome a respectable member of the community, Montag.
TPE: With this in mind, I’ve packed my bags and said all necessary prayers to Ahura Mazda, Osiris and Lug.
TPE: Lug.
TPE: I'm thinking smeary red lipstick and some crazily applied mascara and a dress three generations too small.
UMPIRE: We are disappointed. Do your duty, Englishman.
TPE: Before I get onto the manly stuff?
AUSTIN: I never watch cricket. I confess I am Australian.
TPE: I wish you a speedy recovery, Austin. Actually, I strongly recommend that you…..
MONTAG: It’s like Ovid’s friends visiting him in exile! Latium mixed with Athens. The Ilissos flowing into the Tiber and debouching into the Thames. Cricket is immortal.
TPE: We’re all Ovids now. It would help a great deal to be able to lay the blame at the door of our own giant Gaius Octavius.
TPE: Keep it under your hat, obviously.
UMPIRE: It will shortly all be hindsight. Everything suggests the game is up. And that’s bad, but can anyone expect more?
OHDAKE: I’m having to keep a very low profile at the moment, given the rather heinous crimes I’ve been committing. The condition persists.
TPE: Umpire, welcome back. It’s hopeless. I agree with everything you say. I can’t help wondering if this sends out signals of desperation. The message sent out is: “we’re flailing.” It’s not exactly inspiring, is it?
TPE: You’re done for, Ohdake. Synchronicity, the collective unconscious, the outright paranormal….all good.
TPE: Umpire – scratch everything I said to you.
UMPIRE: I failed entirely to see your point.
TPE: You failed entirely to see my point? Nothing about the direction we’re headed feels especially encouraging....

Part 3 said...

TPE: Perhaps I should elaborate, Shrink?

TPE: Don’t pretend you’re not impressed.
TPE: Go easy on the lusty stuff, please.
SHRINK: (Presents invoice for £40)
TPE: £40? That’s quite reasonable. Have I been your best patient ever?
UMPIRE: Complete berk (or less kind words to that effect).
TPE: That’s a very telling statistic, Umpire. I certainly intend to pat myself on the back quite vigorously.
TPE: Treat yourself to a most splendid bottle of wine.
NATALIE: I have no way of knowing if you’re gorgeous.
TPE: I’m going to bed.
TPE: I am gorgeous, Natalie. I imagine that people will bicker.
SHRINK: £120.
TPE: Alas, we may share a poorly lit future together, Shrink.
SHRINK NARRATOR: (Makes note to consult with supervisor)
TPE: You have a supervisor? You mime to each other, perhaps, in an atmosphere of malcontented silence? I probably should have told you earlier, Shrink, but I’m…
MONTAG: Queen Mab! Faeries! Flatus flautus flautus flatus. The furore forgets how truly sui generis are the Scots. Eric Liddell refused to run the 100 metres in the Paris Olympics. All the while somewhere in the cosmos…..
NMJ: I watched some of the Scottish parliament debate. Why are so many of our MSPs so uninspiring?
GAEL: Doh. Synchronicity. For what it’s worth, I’m wearing….
OHDAKE: Wishy washy sickly sweet colours. Guten abend, Dr Freud, wie geht’s? I’d obviously love to say something about your Jung/Einstein thing: I’ve only ever had vegetarian haggis myself.
NATALIE: I appreciate your thoughts. Strangely addictive and pleasantly confusing. I don’t have anything in particular to say right now except that…….
A FAN: I feel moved by Ms d’Arbeloff’s comment. It is curiously pleasant and refreshing here.
JANEJILL: He is better than anyone Shakespeare concocted. He is just perfect.
JANEJILL: How did I get here?
TPE: Very good question, Janejill.
SIGNS: Talk like a pirate.
TPE: Sing like a German, too?
TPE: I had to look up Eric Liddell. Thank you for the gold. We march, Montag.
TPE: I hope your eye problems have cleared up.
TPE: Is there a twentieth century?
TPE: I do wish I would shut my face sometimes. I’m an unreliable witness to these things. Freedom Fries. Miscarriage of justice. Helps to clarify the thoughts.
TPE: Montag is one of the reasons I’ve not been to see many blogs lately. Why are you going away? Where are you going?
TPE: Scandaloso. Just narrowing things down here, you understand. Well? I try to stay calm.
TPE: Appolonia, oh sweetest Appolonia. I was in search of my own Appolonia as we raced towards the sea. It’s all so brutal and tender and hopelessly hopeful.
NICOLA: I’m not a fan. How embarrassing is that?
TPE: This is bad on so many levels. I welcome the race towards the future and beyond. Don’t be frightened, Nicola, everything’s under control.
NICOLA: Don’t be frightened? I am hanging onto my seat.
SIGNS: I’ve hired her to come and sing at your birthday. Me too, obviously.
A FAN: How can any of us be sure that we are who we think we are? If I were you, I would be just a little worried.
TPE: Thank you, A Fan, it’s been a pleasure. And thank you Nicola and Signs, too. Thank you to everyone who visited, in fact. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

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