31 December 2006

Amo, Amas, Amat

Gosh that takes me back ... 'Magpie' Mason in the Upper Fifth. He'd look over your shoulder as you translated and twist the hair above your right ear at each 'howler'. Fuck, it hurt.

Of course, he wouldn't get away with it nowadays: Some bolshie 5th-dan oick would stand up and lay him flat. But I digress.

Back in the mists of time, a prohibitively bright young fellah rode the range and cited Harry Mount's fine book in that blog he never keeps up.

Years later, news gets through to the unwashed masses and Mount's royalties are mounting.

First print was 4,000 but thanks to brisk demand, a further 115,000 have just been ordered and the bidding war among US publishers top a quarter million.

But sharp-eyed Eric spotted it first, so good on you, mate.

Shame about the blog: it showed promise.

It were sex wot done him in: after years of enforced celibacy and rejection, some discerning doe-eyed hottie spotted his true worth, hauled him onto her chaise-longue and he hasn't surfaced for air since.

Have I met anyone famous?

You talkin' to me?

Have I   met anyone famous?

The Seditious one poses this gift of a question but then plays dirty by inviting responses to some oddball blue-green-indigo link that instantly flatlines me by sending CPU usage up to 100%.

It takes more than that to thwart a true swanker.


First off - and to leave no doubt of my credentials as a lying braggart - I actually know El Seditio hisself. Yea, in all his splendour, and to cap *that* I have also dallied in the company of his lovely wife and far from seditious family.

After that it can only be small fry.

As book publicist to the gentry, I have mopped the brow of such media darlings as:

  • Saul Bellow
  • Carlos Fuentes
  • Melvyn Barg - sorry, Bragg (LORD Bragg to you)
  • The great Auberon Waugh
  • The sprightly Craig Brown
  • Piers Paul Read - and hence Argentinian 'cannibals' Nando and Roberto of 'Alive' fame
  • David Lodge and Malcolm Bradbury
  • Michal Ayrton
  • dauber John Piper
  • Woodward and Bernstein (see passim my silly story of Bob's phone call)
  • Edna O'Brien and Erica Jong
  • Gunther Grass
  • Jim Michener
  • Drone, bore, etc etc.

    As a footloose busker of no fixed abode, I've swapped capos with

  • Messieurs Jansch and Renbourn
  • Ralph 'Streets o' Londres' McTell
  • Tom Rush
  • Bill Frisell

  • 1964: Fresh out of school and back in the Hong Kong parental home, my makeshift band fronted for the Kinks. Sniff. Ray was perfectly horrid.

    Talk about "You really got me": Mister Davies really got my doll of an Eurasian girlfriend, sashaying off with her without a by your leave and returning her starry-eyed beyond repair. But I forgive him - one hell of a songwriter and performer.

  • Jimi Hendrix. No? Yes! What, Sedition *and* Hendrix? Go to the back of the class and here's some sandpaper for the nose.

    C'est vrai. I was pals with the brother of a cute chanteuse Lulu (who married a Bee Gee, albeit briefly) so I got tickets to go along to a show where - shock horror - Hendrix was a guest.

    Being too square and ugly, I wasn't allowed to sit in camera view so I was shoved in the back from where it was easy to slip out and search for the loo. As I was coming back, who should be weaving down the BBC's marbled halls but JH in all his bandanna'd splendour, also looking to leak.

    I showed him the way and pretended to need one m'self, meanwhile having nothing to say. He was purty zonked and afterwards asked me where he could have a smoke. Seeing that his exotic baccy of choice appeared NOT to be Sobranie Black Russian of finest Turkish leaf, I suggested we go outside and so down the stairs we went and out by the front door.

    The BBC commissionaire knew me from bringing boxer champ Henry Cooper and mountaineer Chris Bonington for interviews *and* making sure they stopped by his desk to say hello ('Does the list ever end?' - Ed).

    "He with you then, Mr Holmes? Coz if the gemmun is thinking of coming back in, it'd be best if you accompanied, if you know wot I mean?"

That'll do for now, and thanks to The Lion for this chance to reminisce and segue into 2007 on a high note.

Chronia Polla to all of you.

30 December 2006


My new unfavourite word.

Never even heard of it before the always-excellent Stefanie Marsh's column.

Strange, that, what with me having spent the past few months in close encounters just trying to decipher a certain Allemande.

Anyway, she seems to have just delivered the death blow by SMS.

Brave new world where we can electronically jettison our unwanteds sans all that messy eye-contact and pleading tears and pathetic pleads of "But why ... ?"

Bowls Up

Hollow red-faced laugh at the further total balls-up by the English cricket XI as they compound their humiliation Down Under.

    "OK, chaps, here's our ultra secret plan on how to bowl the Aussies out.

    Reggie will pass round laminated copies and I'll pin the master copy up here.

    Don't forget, chaps - mum's the word."

Blimey - and these are the proud sons of a nation that produced the cunning likes of

  • Kim Philby
  • Donald Maclean
  • Guy Burgess
  • Royal historian queen to the Queen, Sir Anthony Blunt


    Makes a chap ashamed to be British.

  • And God created woman ... er

    Actually, I rather fancy the lady au naturel but the transformation is fun and the final billboard shot is hot.

    Cable Network Noose

    Know what? This video of the rope going on Saddam H?

    I haven't yet been able to watch it past where the guy wraps some sort of black silk scarf round his neck and leads him forward ....

    Christmas post-mortem musings

    Snapshot recollections now that I'm back and letting the memories surface:

  • How boorish most of my fellow Brit males are, looking for a fight or argument, incapable of even contemplating discussion or apology
  • How many beer-bellied oafs sport foxy kind-faced wives
  • School-uniformed youths smoking at the bus-stops
  • Officiousness of minions at public services such as public transport and servers in shops ... and banks (see below)
  • Deft efficiency of those street-side newsagents, knowing exactly where their papers and mags are and accepting any large note and whipping out the precise change
  • Power-crazed meter maids (see also below)
  • Sit vacs in posh shop windows: "Fluent Russian essential"
  • Stunningly beautiful Russkie chicks everywhere, cooing into cells and packing wads of dough
  • Life-saving online reading courtesy of the Seditious one who's filing report after report of the finest.
  • Hearing the new Beatles compilation, Love

    Below: Banks - Last time I reported from London I'd just arrived from dulcet Seattle so of course i got a buffeting. Since then I've lived in Greece *and* have dealt with Barclays bank on their many cockups of my mother's investments and general banking, as a result of which I finally cornered a CS rep who owned the problems and solved them and even called me up to give me advice for any future hassles.

    Which I had, so when i called from London to the Hans Place branch round the corner (detoured via their Isle of Man call centre) I had all the data and was able to wrong-foot the rep all down the way.

    Social engineering: actually i was rather naughty.

    "Hang abaht, let me just log into yer site ... right ... see that file called "International Private accounts"? scroll down to 'corresp-johnston', got it? scroll to 'closure' and read ... er, let me see, yeah right, 4th para ... 'k? read from there and that might help."

    Reminds me of time when some of the Amazon heros had just been defenestrated from the mother ship and were calling in about their orders under new names.

    Fromgrep/Badbook: The nouveau CS types had none of our skills so we had the fun of sweetly enquiring, "really, you can't find my order? ok, dude, fromgrep XY, maybe try badbooking on this one ... yah ... cool."

    As the Bard of Bezos once penned,

    'Always fromgrep when you're in the queues
    Drat those duplicate customer email blues ..."

    Good days.

  • 29 December 2006

    Christmas 2006

    Wonderful Christmas and thank the Lord it's over and my liver and digestion can return to its *normal* rocky road.

    See below this post for more shots.

    • London ~ Tuscany ~ London ~ tail-end of my Kerkira buddies' knees-up.
    • Booze and baccy of the finest, courtesy of mine brother and mine host of the most discerning and generous.
      • No bottle allowed to approach quarter drained sans a replacement.
      • Music of the finest on an invisible sound system that rocked the foundations as Caesar's legions might have as they tramped by AD whenever.

    Weather of the gloriousest, allowing al fresco drinks on the terrace as we mused on last year's knee-high snow

  • Prezzies galore ("Oh, you shouldn't have ..." "Hold on, I'm just opening yours to me ... oh, right, I shouldn't.")

    No pics of London frolics because they exceed excess, speaking of which, binge boozing among les filles has now reached epic proportions and no man is safe from either being beaten up by some drunken slagette or having his Hush Puppies drenched in their vomit.

    London lovely if you know where to look and clog yer ears against the appalling estuary anglais they now utter. Posted by Picasa

  • P's house in Tuscania

    Moi-meme on the border of P's land. Great view.

    Long view of P's house

    Not a lute: a crossbow for jolly japes with the wild boar that cross into P's estate and trample his planty things. (Truth to tell, rather sympathise with them hogs but sshh, don't tell frater)

    My kind of healthy Christmas.

    20 December 2006

    Online Grotto.co.uk

    Speaking of the sainted 'Zon, a nifty bit of non footwork by its British boss, Brian McBride, as he lures mistresses Miles and Rumbelow into delivering yet another of those leaden interviews that are such a trademark of prefects of Bezosia. Jeff must insist that any promotion is back up by inarticulacy and dullness.

    I like the interview for its juicy upfront plug for .co.uk's sex toys section, "quietly added to the site six weeks ago."

    Gosh, I remember buying all my gal pals' fripperies from Ann Summers, so it's good to see her on the Amazon site. How old must Ann be these days?

    Psst, I do think it's going a bit far including Harry Mount's Amo Amas Amat with the sex toys pages, even if he does proclaim his book as THE route to becoming a latin lover.

    I didn't find the 'Zon that coy about its excellent addition: I just punched in "sex toys" and started from there.

    Working for Woodward

    This newsy item about Bob 'All the Prez's Men' Woodward looking for a sidekick reminds me of an Amazon.com incident so impossible and unlikely that I don't know why I bother to tell it.

    I was still a lowly rep at the time, chained to the cubicle, hammering out phone and email replies at a leisurely rate sufficient to satisfy genial Mark 'The Impaler' Schaler.

    Suddenly on the phone was a bespoke young man announcing himself as the great journo's "assistant" while, in the background, I could hear Woodward himself droning away to some shallow-tonsiled contact.

    What, the assistant wanted to know, was Amazon going to do about the availability of Bob's latest book slipping (in the last 15 minutes) in our website charts from 24-hr shipping to a dismal 2-3 days?

    What made this coincidence so hilarious was that, in a previous avatar as London book publishing's greatest publicist since Gwyn Headley, I had actually promoted Woodward & Bernstein's chef d'oeuvre and whisked the dynamic duo round the nation's media - a far cry from shivering in a Seattle dungeon, fielding customer service queries in between gobbles of the Bezos gruel.

    The answer was that the sensitive Amazon stock control computer was having trouble keeping track of stocks of the bestseller as it flew out the distribution centre. Like the weather, the availability message would be back in sunnier mood in just a jiffy.

    The young fellah sounded sceptical so I told him "I can hear Bob droning away in the background. Tell him it's his London PR supremo on the phone, from the Secker & Warburg days, and to stop being so paranoid and checking our website every 30 seconds for signs of waning popularity."

    Roberto and I did have brief words but the chat was so bizarre that my fellow reps either side left off their own calls to listen in.

    Maybe I should apply for this post.

    18 December 2006

    Sahib or Sahibette?

    Natch, le tout Kerkira agog at CNN's reportage of the he/she sprinter from the sub-continent.

    Wells-sahib will have the inside track on this but I have more immediate queries.

    Seems to me some deuced slippery reportage on this bizarre controversy. I mean, is she or isn't he?

    What tests are needed except a disinterested exploratory paw down her panties and if she's packing a johnson and a brace of brass monkeys, c'est ca, non?

    Less than meets the eye here, I'm wagering.

    A fellow athleterene spoke in her defence, saying that it isn't her fault so much as the Indian sports council who should have conducted an official check and saved the lithe darling all this hoo-hah.

    The lady herself expresses herself confused and unaware of what it's all about.

    Again I say, surely a leisurely fondle after lights-out would have alerted her/him to which side she was batting for?


    Lesson of Nine Carols

    Mama being pillarene of the local Anglican church, and I being charioteer, orft we jolly well went to the service of nine carols and readings from the Good Book.

    Usual old biddies and creaky gents stuttering their way thru the word of The Lord, but also this totally cool guy.

    Student at Reading University, county of Berkshire, UK (pronounced Redding, yo'). English mother, Greek pa, read the Greek translation of the preceding English text, lovely delivery, perfect accent.

    alexandros street

    Greek Internet Usage

    You never know, you could be nursing your pint of Theakstons in the snug bar of the 'Gilded Merkin' ("Fine ales to the gentry since 1764"), or at a loss for conversation on the Bainbridge ferry, and some wag pipes up, "Gee, I wonder what the figures are for those online Greeks?" and bingo, you'll be the club bore with the answer.

  • Population: Last census seems to have been in 1991 when the figure was 10,264,156, an increase of 524,000 (5.4 percent) over 1981.

    In 1991, population density was 78.1 persons per square kilometer--a misleading statistic because much of Greece's mountainous territory is uninhabited.

  • 25% of Greeks surf for information.
  • 61% use it as a work tool, 64.1% for email and chatrooms. Fewer for online purchases, travel and entertainment.
  • 24% of total Greek users are women
  • Men: 76%
  • 8% of users are over 50.
  • 41.3% in the 25-34 age range
  • 35-44 make up 26.8%
  • 90% go online on a daily basis, mainly from home (59.9%) and the workplace (36.9%).
  • I don't need interpret for you the blissful unwiredness those numbers convey.
  • 17 December 2006

    Trad Christmas Nosh

    Or should it be 'Traditional Crīstesmæsse Noshe' as per the marketing gurus' desire to posh it all up?

    Anyway, there's that lovely word again and not a zirconium menorah protruding from Santa's sack.

    Whatever the correct wording, I have instructed my brother in his Tuscan eyrie that mother and I are expecting to sit down on Christmas Day to the full monty repast.

    16 December 2006

    Prissy Pedestrianism


    We Corfiots abhor setting even a toenail off the sidewalk.

    The god voiture reigns supreme.

    shopping n sightseeing

    You can see how and why there isn't even a word in Greek for 'jay-walking'.

    alley down to the seafront

    Kerkira Yule

    One of the quiet side streets away from the bustle.

    Not an Etruscan menorah in sight as just around the corner everyone ramps up for a merry Christmas.

    Only a few years back, no one hardly knew about the dread C word but the marketing boys saw to that and now you can buy cards in every Diellas and AlphVita store in town.
    creaky penthouseSome lovely old empty properties in town that I'd love to acquire as a hideaway, but theyre worth a fortune and the owners are only waiting for the big money to be offered.
    orpheus cinemaLocal movie palace shows all the hits.

    Parking ain't too available so the boss uses the outside foyer.
    downtown kerkiraWhere isn't  traffic clustered at Christmas? Kerkira is no different. Posted by Picasa

    Conspiracy of Dunces

    If you wondered whither plans to turn this genius unfilmable comic novel into a movie, or just wondered how the heck it came to be published in the first place, Slate seems to have an update.

    14 December 2006

    Droles Paroles

    To keep the ball rolling, and show that it's not just a spectator sport, NASTURTIUM has long been a giggler for me.

    By way of guidelines, and I'm ready to be guided here, I think these words should be basically serious - the pompous the better - rather than easy-peezy stuff like 'codswallop' or 'gob-smacked' or 'prattle'.

    Let the games begin.

    12 December 2006


    I believe the astonishingly athletic black guy who leads James Bond a merry chase at the start of 'Casino Royale' is the *founder* of 'Parkour'.

    It started in France.

    These guys here are fit and crazy.

    11 December 2006

    Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas

    Got it?

    Can you guess what I and mine will be celebrating this month?

    With a luverly big tree, and not an electric menorah in sight. Got it?

    I hope news of this Sea-Tac idiocy spreads until it's a world-wide farce and the rabbi Bogomilsky is hailed as the global buffoon he set out to prove himself.

    Vox Shrimpo

    Actually, it's more likely to be along the lines of vox malacostraca , but no matter.

    What's the loudest thing in the ocean?

    The blue whale might produce the loudest noise of any individual animal in the sea or on land, but the loudest natural  noise is made by shrimps. Pin back yer lug 'oles and learn:

  • The sound of the "shrimp" layer is the only natural noise that can white out a submarine's sonar, deafening operators thru their cans.
  • The noise of collected shrimps adds up to 246 decibels. Even allowing that sound travels five times faster in water, this equates to approx 160 decibels in air, louder than the 140dB of a jet taking off or the human pain threshold.
  • Imagine everyone in the world frying bacon at the same time.
  • Howzit done? Eh bien (or 'Lipon', as the Greeks say) - it comes from trillions of shrimps snapping their one oversized claws all at once. But wait, it gets more interesting:
  • Video shot at 40,000 frames per sec show that the noise occurs 700 microseconds after   the claw has snapped shut. The noise in fact comes from burst bubbles.
  • A small bump on the side of the claw fits into a groove on t'other side. The claw shuts so fast that a jet of water squirts out at 100 km per hour, fast enough to create expanding bubbles of water vapour. When the water slows and normal pressure is restored, the bubble collapses, creating heat as high as 20,000°C, a loud pop and light (new word for you, chaps: 'sonoluminescence', where sound generates light).
  • Shrimps use this to stun prey, communicate, and find mates (as well as buggering up sonar, the sharp noise also makes dents in ships' propellors)
  • 10 December 2006

    Ultimate Wingers

    It was harp blower supremo, the piratical Zach Works, who introduced me to the term 'wingman', still not widely used or abused across The Pond and I'm still not myself sure I know fully what's involved.

    I think of ZW every time I come across the word and my ambition is, of course, to *be* one or at least watch one in action.

    09 December 2006

    Guitar Technique

    A touch of the Stanley Jordans, hence of no earthly interest or musical value to anyone except the actual player.

    All the same, no-one that young and cool looking should be playing quite so athletically.

    Quite put me off picking up the Taylor for a full 15 minutes.

    07 December 2006


    Hunter shoots 5

    I've had a few testy words m'self with trespassing hunters, and  seen them ostentatiously thumb their safety catches, but this is a bit dramatic.

    Young victims, too.

    Must be more to it than just bad blood feuding.

    Everyone siding with the handsome killer son, of course.

    Personally I'm not so sure about those coups-de-grâce to the head.

    06 December 2006

    swiss army knife

    Call that a Knife?

    The new, 85-pounder Swiss Army Knife.

    I love these articles about nutty miscellany, and it's so good to see the Croc Dundee line go into wide usage.

    04 December 2006

    Lit Review Bad Sex Prize

    Always fun.

    Click on all the links to savour.


    Choose your instrument, get a soundbite.

    (So that's  what an autoharp sounds like.)

    Post-script : Excellent helpful comment from rwells: Sample tracks 7, 9 or 12 from Bryan Bowers' By Heart

    02 December 2006


    I'm such a moaner.

    I grind on and on about loathsome yardwork but it's not like I can't just hurl the tools to the ground and march off in petulant sulk.

    And some of the views are really pretty nice for one who affects to be in a botanical chain gang.
    I trough and sluice when and as I please.
    And this gig, editing the church website ... I have a pretty nice cubicle with mod cons and all that.

    I was looking at this pic and remembering one I have of the piratical Zach Works in similar pensive pose, taken on a 'take your spitfire to work' day when A came up to PacMed and they all went out to play frisbee.
    That was the day the Spitfire pronounced Master Works as 'hot' and the divine JV showed her how to run in a skirt.

    A pretty useful nay essential skill, i'd say, for one whose smile alone would make a preacher lay the Good Book down.

    Ah, that Julie .... Posted by Picasa

    Win '95 launch

    I have few claims to fame of having been anywhere when stuff happened, but I was in the engine room of the launch of Windows '95, thanks to nice Waggener-Edstrom ('tech PR to the wired gentry') having hired me, still dripping from swimming ashore from my Hong Kong sampan, as senior account executive.

    Wagg-Ed was the PR company 'of record' (whatever that means) for Microsoft, thanks to Pam Edstrom having worked with Bill G. Both she and Melissa Waggener were ace bosses and leaders, and my colleagues were unbeatable. A truly talented company.

    I ended up with the Visio account and then Visual FoxPro that got me onto MS's campus and meeting all sorts of competent champs half my age and thrice my energy.

    It ended in tears: Netscape moved up on the inside track and we were suddenly into the browser wars for which I had no skills or knowledge.

    Hefty handshake and out I went to lounge around and temp a bit before m'lud Jeff of Bezosia set up shop and I found myself in a cubicle churning out blurbs and taking phone calls in my fluting Oxford tones. Another great job and another bunch of ace colleagues.

    Anyway, I'll always have a soft spot for that Win95 package.

    Doctorow on the Prez

    Once again the sage rwells delivers the goods, pointing us to the run-don't-dally read of EL Doctorow pinning Bush to the mat:

    An Essay On Our President by E.L. Doctorow

    I fault this president (George W. Bush) for not knowing what death is.

    He does not suffer the death of our twenty-one year olds who wanted to be what they could be."

    Read on for yourselves.

    Whiter shade of Pale-giarism

    Where there's a hit there's a writ, and no sillier example than that Procul Harum organist zimmering out of the woodwork to claim composer's credit simply on the strength of his opening chords.

    Well, Pete Smaill sees him off with a splendidly erudite letter to November 25's Spectator, pointing out that:

    "JS Bach wouldn't last long in court suing Procul Harum for, er, 'adapting' the 'Air on a G String' to become 'Whiter Shade of Pale'. That's because he himself ripped off Vivaldi, copied Handel and even reset the popish 'Stabat Mater' by Pergolesi.

    However, conscious of the need to fingerprint several significant works, his putatively final masterpiece, the 'Art of the Fugue', is signed in German musical notation, BACH.

    Less well known is that his very first cantata, BWV 150, has a BACH verbal acronymn in the final four lines.

    If it is accepted that there is a code in which B=1, A=2, C=3 and H=8, then a whole host of works are signed with the magical gematric 14, including the 'Mass in B Minor' and 'St John Passion', not to mention the 14 sharps in the penitential 'Advent Chorale', 'Nunkomm der Heiden Heiland'

    Rather a good word, 'pale-giarise', (tho' I say so myself). Leaves no doubt about the feebleness of the filcher in only coming up with a pale shadow of the original.

    01 December 2006


    A whole week sans 'phone, ergo sans internet. Living death.

    Weather changed and we are now into mists and mellow fruitfulness. Gorgeous.
    Deprived of 'puter, I've been mooching around with chainsaw and shredder, short back n sides to all n sundry, hoping to make that fatal gaffe that will have mama finally veto me from all yardwork. Didnt work: huge kudos for herculean tasks achieved on time.

    No surfing means more strumming and if only I'd had Ricardo's Dylan chords link *before* I went into cold turkey, I could have licked my rendering of "Been in Missolonghi a da-a-y too long".
    Greek proficiency: Not us EEC types, but immigrants have to pass some test in Greek lingo and history etc before they can get Greekie citizenship.

    Rather than study up all that stuff, I am toiling on the definitive translation into Homeric verse of "Like a Rolling Stone". Not easy to get the vernacular in spirit but I'll make it.

    I have this cool vision of attending for my exam and viva. Instead of walking in laden with papers and theses and crib sheets, I'll saunter in wi' guitar and simply chant 'Stone' in flient cool Helleniki; maybe take along some buddy to do the whizzy bits on the bouzouki. Posted by Picasa

    21 November 2006

    Burst python

    Six-foot alligator versus 13-foot Burmese python.

    A draw ... sort of.

    Mr Python found with 'gator's tail sticking out of its burst tummy.

    No sign of the actual *head* of the python.

    I love these Ripleyesque reminders of Nature red in tooth and claw.

    17 November 2006

    Beatles 'Love' mash-up

  • Alex Petridis' good piece for the Grauniad on how "the Beatles have finally released their own 80-minute mash-up, remixed by George Martin's son Giles for the Cirque de Soleil show currently wowing Las Vegas tourists."
  • The Beeb's take.
  • Stephen King 'book' party

    I have to apostrophise book' because I don't regard Stephen King as a 'writer'. I'm not sure what he *does* do but way back when I reviewed for book trade mags, I made a comment about him typing straight for the screen.

    Anyway, the ace and elegant Madame Arcati in fine feline form about the scribbler's latest book launch:

    "... Lisey’s Story is just out. I really can’t be bothered to read it. I prefer the movies of his books: you get through them quicker: Misery, Pet Sematary, Christine. Can’t stand The Shawshank Redemption though it’s every film fan’s all-time favourite (they pretend). Love Kubrick’s version of The Shining.

    My companion and I arrive at Middle Temple only to be told by a H & S [publisher Hodder & Stoughton] serf that King’s just done the press conference. Oh, really! Don’t tell the journalists then. Who has a press conference at 6.30 in the evening?

    What is it with publishers? Do they sign a pact with the devil to be congenitally stupid in return for the next Harry Potter? Are publishers the most cretinous people on this planet? If I had my way I would bundle every fucking publisher into one of those concrete mixer lorries and watch them revolve and harden into statues. Then I’d stand them in my garden over the pond life with a fishing rod sticking out of their fat arses."

    Strong words and ones that sadden me.

    When I bestrode the booksy world as a young turk master of its PR universe, Hodder was fielding the real McCoy such as Eric Major and Stephen du Sautoy, two giants of book publicity on whose watch no such nonsense would have been allowed, and Madame A given the blue-blood treatment she so clearly deserves.

    Speaking of King, Arcati is cruel but right to link to the Rap Sheet review. By Hermes what a load of illiterate codswollop! Worse, it reads as if the author fancies himself as some sort of reviewer . I assume he's the dusky pdge snapping himself with the mis-shapen King.

    Which reminds me, there's something wrong with SK, isn't there? The photo reminds me. His features aren't right or he came off the presses prematurely before his eyes and nose were accurately formed. I've often thought that or been reminded whenever I see one of those hapless spastic children with their lolling heads and dribbles into their bibs. But I digress.

    Speaking of reviews and press courting, I've long since acknowledged that I could never match the likes of Hodder press hack Kerry Hood in today's wired and woolly arena - but I do know that I'd draw the line at wasting time and obsequy on the likes of the Rap sheeter. What a wanker.

    PS: Who caught my 'deliberate' mistake about du Sauters being a Hodder champ? Sidgwick boy, wasn't he?

    16 November 2006

    Browsing Amazon

    The trouble with swanking about being among the ultra cool who subscribe to Tara Calishain's wondrous ResearchBuzz is that it's put paid to any filching of the amazing TC's research and claiming it as mine.

    Otherwise I would definitely have faked it with this latest item about my Almazon Mater and the Flowser Browser.

    15 November 2006

    Auteur OJ

    When in May 1995 I swam ashore to Bainbridge from the snakehead sampan, I was in total ignorance of one OJ Simpson and was bemused and curious at the front page treatment given to an athlete born under sunnier skies.

    I caught up quick.

    Being a booksy sort of chap, I noted that OJ had scribbled a few lines for some wide-boy publisher and looked forward to tracking its progress.

    When the National Inquirer first reported on OJ's "If I Did It" chef d'oeuvre, legal eagle Yale Galanter (great name!) commented helpfully that,

    "[he] is not writing a book. We haven't been paid 35 cents, much less $3.5 million" and "if anyone comes out with such a book, I'll go on every talk show and call it crap."
    Eh bien, it seems that certain folks were economic with the truth, not least of whom Regan Books' fierce PR suprema, Suzanne Wickham.

    I'm trying to put in context yesterday's announcement from Fox and Regan that they will air a two-part interview with Simpson and then release his book at the end of this month.

    Silly retailers not having the balls to take Galanter at his initial word.

    oriental caff

    Corfu Coffee

    Bagels it ain't but this is my new fave coffee shop.

    Looks so touristy the dilettantes stay clear but it serves seriously good java.

    Cone Trick

    Juggleur supreme Greg Kennedy hustles his balls in an 8' inverted cone.

    Some seriously cool shit.

    14 November 2006

    persimmon bush tree

    Sunshine on Persimmon

    I've always hankered after that sort of titling for a post. It has a green fingery ring, which in my case is a bit of a hollow laff.

    Anyway, there's me 'n' mater enjoying a pre-déjeuner ouzo and she ups and says, "Oh, look at the way the sun's catching the persimmon" which is my cue for the camera.
    Rather nice weather right now: tourists gone so the roads are free of nutters on those buggies which were this season's choice for mort sur la route.

    All the verds are verdant and the auts tumnal and there's a saucy breeze during the day that keeps one moving briskly.

    mama contemplating tGun Law: To my pleasure and surprise, there are no gun laws over here.

    I've always been a rifle enthusiast since I found I can shoot amazingly straight and consistently. At school I was in the .303 rifle team and, although I developed a permanent bruise on my cheek from the bugger kicking back, I was better than the rest of the beefy shootists.

    So, I'm in this shop admiring this very fine Elk Horn Gunshop lookalike, plus a ramboesque crossbow, and the shop assistant pads over and starts talking bores and balance to me and knocking the price down.

    I stammer something about being a mere foreigner but he silences me with a look as if to say that we gun dudes are never 'foreigners'.

    So now I spend a large amount of time adjusting the cross hairs on the tree rats and watching them positively ejected off the branches with barely a frisson's shudder from the weapon.

    The crossbow will take a little more time to adjust to and I am currently at 'Not safe' stage.
    view to albaniaVIEW: I know it's boring to look at 'scenery' but have a gander at the clear view across to Albania. Gorgeous.

    I'm about to book a ticket over there and check the place out. I hear they're pretty hostile and dour and you don't make eye contact and gawd help you if you smile so it should suit me down to my winklepickers Posted by Picasa



    Faithful Sam pledging allegiance to his lord and master.

    Black Sambo loves his new life since I've started packing, and he particularly likes it when I just wing the critter and it bounces off the ground and runs in that wiggly way they have when they've lost a sinew or two from a speeding bullet.

    black samboFast bugger when he chooses to get his skates on, is El Sambo, and he's good at sitting by the twitching corpse til I arrive with the dustpan and broom and whisk the rodent away to the bonfire pyre.

    Nose fetish: I was plunking on the old Ovation the other night and Sam came up for a cuddle and brushed his conk against the strings and leapt back only to return a few seconds later for a further fix.

    Hmm, he must find the vibes against his handsome black proboscis a bit of a turn-on because he's got it down a fine art now, just touching the strings and his body positively a-quiver with plaisir. Sensuous swine.

    Rainbow Legal Beagle Moniker

    What an absolutely splendid name for a politically correctissimus law firm.

    Oprah, Obama, Angelou and Clinton

    I must hasten back to Londinium and open an office today. That it will be zero-staffed is a mere detail.

    Can't you just picture all those slab-faced advocates of drippy pernicious "multye-kulturamalism" slavering for the privilege of filling the coffers.

    Whatever the actual story, some parody-gifted sub has a bright future as a satirical headline writer.

    Where there's a hit, there's a writ

    I do wish all these grasping hopefuls would drop their silly idea of taking scribbler Dan Brown to court for his execrable Vinci nonsense.

    Enough already. The bloken stole nothing, except a march on time in being the first hack to spot how nuggets of history could be mixed with fetid imagination and churned out for saleable beach reading for the grockles.

    12 November 2006

    Free Greek Lessons

    Calling all Greek-challenged local readers: hie thee promptly down to the Periferia building (1st floor, turn left down the corridor, last booth on the right) and sign up for your FREE  lessons.

    Each grade only starts once they have a minimum of 15 pupils and the silly-billy organisers completely failed to announce the classes via the obvious channels such as supermarket noticeboards and The Corfiot (whose editrice told my mum she doesn't read Athens News anyway, so therein lies some ironic justice).

    Anyway, you're going to need fluency in Greek as she is spoke or you won't get yer new longterm resident status.

    The government is requiring all applicants to complete a 25-hour course in Greek history and culture. The presidential decree also demands the successful completion of a 100-hour advanced-level Greek language course.

    The IDEKE centre is at Alykes River at the regional (periferia) building, tel 26610-23345, so get on down there and make it up to 15 so we can get started prontoest as poss.


    11 November 2006

    Bum Rush

    Guy Fawkes Night or not, this is one unbelievably stupid stunt.

    Bloke launches a rocket using his derriere as the - wotchamacallit - launch pad ...

    08 November 2006



    Sweeping the patio leaf by leaf to ward off the time I had to descend to the garden and grapple with actual yard work, I spotted this splendidly marked beetly thing.
    beetleCalled mama over to see and made big fuss about getting the camera and snapping this unusual creature - neither of us has seen one of quite these markings before - and then even bigger fuss about having to process the pictures and get the tone absolutely right, and then about emailing a shot to distinguished brother ....

    Rather successful: here I am at the safety of my keyboard, posting this to the blog in between chortling at all the Borat videos up on the Tube and elsewhere.

    Speaking of Baron Cohen, Eee bah gum, didn't he do well? One in the eye for t'fat cats

    07 November 2006

    fridge lizard

    Behind the Fridge

    Searching for where the rats are entering the kitchen, I hauled the fridge out and there was this friendly chappie

    06 November 2006

    Littell Prize

    Jonathan Littell wins posh French lit award but he won't be dining out too lavishly on the 10-euro prize.

    Getz 'n' Trane

    Recently discovered gem video of Stan Getz and John Coltrane playing together at Dusseldorf in a European JATP concert in the early 60s.

    Miles' quintet was on the bill but the great man got sick and Trane led the group as a quartet.

    Check out Oscar Peterson sliding into the ivories chair ...

    Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (batterie)


    Would you believe that it's taken 'til now to get Broadbanded? Yes, up to now I've been a dial-up guy with all its frustrations and slowness.

    Now I boldly click on BBC videos and tubular flicks and the such.

    Thanks to VideoJug, I can now learn how to face and cope with Life ....

    05 November 2006

    Christianne and Robert, RIP

    Of the tragic deaths of the two young 'uns, I have nothing to add at this stage.

    The island is rife with rumour and red herrings and anyone who isn't thoroughly confused is simply very badly informed.

    But heads will roll, guys will fall, the dogs bark - and the caravan move on.

    Meanwhile, the head-count looks promising:

    • Our Greek tourism minister, Fani Palli-Petralia, has been ordered  (my itals) to attend the children's funeral in West Yorkshire this week.
      • Poor bugger - can you imagine the barracking and general roughing up poor Fani will meet? Far from "pally", I'll wager.
    • Local fuzz confirmed six individuals and companies accused of negligence leading to manslaughter; negligence leading to serious bodily harm; and negligence leading to endangering human lives.
    • Police also say they've added an unnamed inspector who checked the hotel and found it suitable for Thomas Cook clients.

      Apparently, the 'inspector' visited the premises and signed his approval on June 30. Whoops.

    • The 'inspector' and the other defendants, whose names police cannot disclose (Why not? Typiquement Greek, that), will be summoned to testify in their defence next week by our chief examining magistrate.
    • Heavy stuff: The manslaughter charges carry a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment for the death of each child (my emphases), and legal beagles guess the multiple charges could carry jail terms of between 15 and 20 years.
    • But get this. A Thomas Cook spokesperson categorically confirms that "no charges have been issued against the company or any of its officers by Greek police or other Greek authorities.

      "We can also confirm that at no time during this enquiry have the police or any other authority been in touch with us. We wish to make it clear that we will stringently defend our position against any criminal charges and, in view of these reports, have instructed Greek lawyers."

      Oy vey! This is so-o-o familiar ....

    • Also accused are some big-shots, so look out for weighty backhanders and calling-in of favours for these lads to slither through the net: The chief exec officer of culprit Louis Hotels
    • The general manager of the Corcyra Beach Hotel
    • The maintenance manager
    • A rep of Corfu liquid gas company - PLUS the company which supplied the bungalow's heating and cooling system.

    Bad timing for Palli-Petralia who'd been looking forward to a triumphant visit this week to the annual global trade fair in London, singing Kerkira's praises as the very model of a modern tourist paradise. Ugh - the UK press will have its cutlasses out.

    Red Rag to a Minotaur: And listen to this for sheer crassness and provocation. One "Sean Tipton" of the clearly bogus Association of British Travel Agents (or why would they allow this buffoon to shoot his mouth off?) is, according to an excellently thorough Athens News report, 'optimistic that the deaths will not have a negative impact on next year's tourism figures.'

    Quoth Tipton, "People tend to have a fairly short memory when it comes to booking holidays ... the busiest period for summer holidays is January and February. It won't be at the forefront or people's minds when they come to book."

    Know what? After that comment - and ignoring the 'short memory' of the grieving families - if I was any sort of editor or sleuthing reporter, I'd mark my diary for every single date in the tourism calendar and run monoxidal reminders to readers to include 'breathing healthy' (or just breathing, period) at the forefront of their minds when choosing an idyllic sunshine holiday destination.

    A Good Idea at the Time

    In addition to the impish Oldie, de rigueur  reading 'neath the corfucian bower is the sprightly Spectator, edited with scary aplomb by the youthful Matt d'Ancona .

    Even when the actual articles go over my head, I have Japistos' excellent back-page competitions.

    A recent one invited readers to submit a poem or prose ending with the phrase, 'It seemed like a good idea at the time', words 'applied in retrospect, jocularly or ruefully, to anything done impulsively with disastrous consequences, whether or not those were foreseeable at the moment of action.'

    Runner-up (and shoulda been the winner) was this hilarious entry by one Brian Murdoch.

    'Course, at the time  there wasn't any, just an infinite amount of, well, infinity, but I gave Myself a week and got creating.

    After I'd done the heavens and got the earth sorted, I called in the lads to help - not Lucifer, of course, who'd gone off in a huff, never found out where.

    We had some laughs with the animals.

    When Gabriel did the walrus I thought I'd rend the firmament!

    It was Uriel - he was a right piss-artist - got Me to do a teeny-weeny version of Myself, only less effable, and then I did another one with not so many bits and not as hairy.

    I can't remember who came up with the reproduction idea - we'd all been on the cocktails for aeons by then.

    In the end we buggered off and left them to it.

    But it seemed like a good idea at the time."

    01 November 2006


    The Pythonesque fuss over chameleon comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's creation, "Borat Sagdiyev", is reaching a farcical level.

    How SBC's publicists must be gloating.

    The slab-faced Kazakhstani pols must be out of their minds to take it this seriously and far: TV appearances to contradict the movie? Press releases of healthy GDP and victorious peasantry enjoying the good life? Pathetic.

    Meanwhile, I see Ali G DVDs being sported all round downtown Kerkira.

  • Banned Book: Also check out BS's cheeky pic book
  • Box Office Hit: Double the Estimate ~ Of course it's a hit. This is exactly the accurate Ameri-mockery that goes down so well in and with the States. I was asked last night why, despite its melting pot nationalities and sheer size, America only manages a prudish, prurient and parochial hold on life. I couldn't say, but it sounds as if this movie applies a pretty funny microscope to exactly that aspect of that sprawling country.
  • 31 October 2006

    Arma virumque cano

    Yes, indeed: "Of Arms and the Man I Sing".

    Extry extry! New translation of T'Aenid. Hmm, when I studied it under the lightning cane of Mr Mason, it was The Aeneid. O Tempora, O so forth.

    Anyway, if I didn't tell you, you'd never know: That clever prof Robert Fagles has taken a new look at "THE AENID" which, if it (quote)"sells like RF's editions of The Iliad and The Odyssey, will eventually be known to hundreds of thousands of readers, by choice and by assignment."

    Quoth the don,

    "I think it's a poem about heroism and empire, about the glory of imperial hopes and the pain of having imperial hopes dashed.... I wanted to convey something about the modern understanding of war, and then about a man, an exile, a common soldier left terribly alone in the field of battle."

    Aeneas is like Clint Eastwood, like Gary Cooper, a warrior and a worrier. He changes into the heroic tragic man, duty and endure, endure and duty."

    28 October 2006


    You could not write it blacker:

  • Father, his two children (6 and 7) and girlfriend visit Corfu for nice holiday, stay at reputable hotel.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning from leaking pipe
  • Childen dead, father and partner recovering in hospital - not yet informed of deaths until they are stronger
  • Mother of children flies out to scene of tragedy.

    The Corcyra hotel is part of the posh Cypriot-Greek "Louis" group and just down the road from us.

    Of course, the island is abuzz about the tragedy, rumour and hearsay piling on conjecture and plain rivalry malice.

    At first it was thought it was food poisoning but Reuters seem to have the latest.

    As I say, rumour and malice to the fore: one of the wilder suggestions I picked up was that some local trader, angered by the new-style all-inclusive hotelery that the Louis chain represents, sought to attract bad publicity by poisoning guests' food. That has been disproved by the gas verdict, but it shows how tongues fly.

    Apparently, "The toxic fumes entered the room where the children were sleeping from a leaking pipe connecting a gas-fired water boiler outside the room."

    The island awash with verminous journos trying to hunt down English-speakers from whom to get a juicy quote.

    On a more serious follow-up, I applaud any and every effort to repel tourist trash from these shores, but this seems to be going too far. I suspect this might deal a blow to next year's invasion.

    (I love the idea of jolly Brit plumbers jetting over to check out our local hotels' plumbing and heating. I must scour the tavernas for where they're boozing and engage them in nostalgic Brit-type chat such as wot I don't normally get out here.)

  • 25 October 2006

    Veil-less in Gaza

    (Or at least in the casbahs and sand dunes of sunny Yorkshire).

    Full marks in my book for any nail fired broadside into the coffin of current drivel about 'multi-culturalism'.

    Which is why I'm having such fun watching Britain's niqab knees-up over these faceless veils, not to mention stalwart House of Commons honcho, Jack Straw, going into cat/pigeon interface mode by asking niqab-toting women to uncover for better face-to-face interaction.

    Not so much 'better' than plain damn'd polite, if you ask me.

    When I converse with someone, I like to see the cut of their jib. Something suspect about a masked stranger.

    For those who like their controversies convoluted and spiced with buzz words of the likes of 'integration' and 'tolerance', try this busy little piece from my former daily reading.

    But beware: It contains brainy language and heavy theorising, such as that:

    "Some Muslim women in the West may choose this garb (which is not mandated in the Koran), but their explanations often reveal an internalized misogynistic view of women as creatures whose very existence is a sexual provocation to men."

    Dumbest Generation

    From the buzz about Mark Bauerlein's look at the soi-disant 'intellectual life' of our young, it sounds to be a gift for media coverage.

    "The Dumbest Generation" carries an eye-snagging subtitle: "How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future".

    Prof of English at Emory U, MB casts a spotlight on how the infantilization of our culture and the misplaced faith in the knowledge economy and its digital diversions are corroding young minds at a critical juncture.

    23 October 2006

    No Wider War

    Daniel Ellsberg interesting on the coming Iran punch-up.

    22 October 2006

    Two Muses

    I'm clearly a vindictive man because, other than Lurve, my other strongest Muse is Anger or Revenge.

    I can go months, years, without picking up the guitar to compose. Meet the right gal and shazam! I'm reeling out the lyrics and melody.

    Anger is a little dicier to play but I find myself in a frenzy of creativity no thanks to an incident of such pettiness that I'm ashamed that such a good song is rolling forth.

    Scenario: Mama phones me from London with request to set up a luncheon of favourite folks to meet her venerable and very interesting pal with whom she is flying back. I do so.

    One of the guests has folks staying, a major major actress from the 1960s on whom the whole world had a crush. He asks if he can bring her and her hubby along and I say yes, vowing to work day and night on the garden for Mum in return for screwing up the placement. As it turns out, Mama is rather happy to meet the mega name of yesteryear.

    Come luncheon morning, frenzied activity to prepare the gourmet meal that mama always delivers, purchase of wine of the finest, moi raking and sweeping so that chateau busker is at its tidiest.

    Guests arrive and mingle, I dance attendance, my mother at her charming hostessest best.

    But tiens! What is this? A pillar of the church has turned up - avec wife - no doubt to welcome the matriarch home and check that all is well.

    Nae problem: they will see that we have guests, accept the drink we press upon them (actually, NOT accept, if they have an ounce of sensitivity, and piss off) and make their excuses and leave.

    They stay and they stay and they stay.

    I have images burned on my memory:

    • My mother sitting at the far end of the patio, back to her guests, in conversation with PoC, as if to say "I know I invited you lot to lunch but you know what? I'm much more interested in my UN-invited guest
    • I'm scrabbling to look after our guests and keep glasses filled and keep the luncheon on track.
    • At my side is wife of PoC wittering away on her usual inconsequentialia.
    • Witterer meets 1960s shy icon: "Oh, I know who you are, you're Garbo" (for want of better name)
    • Meanwhile, our 90-year-old pal is being poured another glass of wine, on a soft head that needs food.

    They stay and they stay and our legit guests are looking at me and at each other like wha' the fuck?

    I'm ashamed: I failed to defend my guests. I should have marched over to Mama, she with her back to her guests, and said "Mother, we WILL do right by our guests.

    When Brad and Angie are on the guest list, we will look after them. Today, they are not, so they will enjoy their drink and I will escort them to the door and see them on their way with a merry wave."

    I did not, they overstayed and sent the lunch out of kilter, plus confirming that, come the crunch, Busker and mère lack the backbone to deliver. That rankles and it hurts.

    I may be a wimp but I'm a mean and thinking wimp and as I nursed my grievance, the saintèd Bobbie Dylan started growling in my ear in his wailing 'Man with a long black cloak' / Like a roller dirgey mode. I couldn't shake it.

    Church Pillar runs musical nights for the devoted and, having spotted my guitar, has been urging me to join the acts. Without hearing me pluck a single chord, Mrs Pillar has nailed me in one: "Let me guess, you do all the lovely singalongs ... you must sign up. It'll be good for you, and you'll meet all sorts of people. Who knows? (Knowing chuckle) You might meet a girlfriend."

    Praise Jesus - I'll meet a "girlfriend".

    I've made my modest excuses and side-stepped the invite but, you know what? I suddenly feel like taking that troubadour spot.

    The band I play with have the Dylan backing down pat - cushiony organ, 4-square bass, punctuating bouzouki - and the lyrics have appeared from nowhere. Well, not nowhere; they've appeared from rage and revenge.

    Early days yet, so bear with me. Imagine yourselves on some Ionian dig and you've come across scraps of ancient chansonnier hieroglyphics.

    Professor, over here - I think we've got something ... an ancient libretto of sorts .."
    "Steady on, Ginger ... close, but it's no libretto. They appear to be fragments of some sort of chorus. Let's leave Hussein to tackle the main verses and see what we've got ...."

    "You got yer hymn book and humbug,
    You've really got God power
    And you always turn up at the lunchtime hour

    There's a Calvary cross where my Saviour died
    And a Garden in Gethsemane where Judas lahd
    No need translation in that Babel Tower
    Comes the man, comes the luncheon hour

    Moses he said to Pharaoh, let my people go
    I've got a Red Sea to part
    And 40 years of woe
    Gimme my milk and honey and a hidden shady bower
    For when the Canaanites come cadging
    'N' crashing my luncheon hour

    Wail of harp, jangle of Fender

    Serpent of the apple, its virtues did extoll,
    "Chomp this little baby, Adam gonna rock 'n' roll,
    Eat it while the Big Guy's doing good works afar,
    Before the holy roller twigs it's luncheon hour"

    Cue mess of music and happy jamming, shimmering down to solo acoustic guitar and quavering sensitive vox:

    Camel thru eye of needle
    Jonah in that whale
    Whatever life throws atcha
    Ya bring yer own luncheon pail (harp wail)

    Feeding of five thousand
    Means exactly that
    It may sound fun, be five thousand 'n' one
    But we're dealing wit that crap

    (Swelling organ sound, pray god i can look holy scrounger in the eye as we launch into)

    The hart may pant for cooling streams
    When heated in the chase
    I have a hunch that kerm the crunch he won't crash the lunch at MY place

    Clash of Zy' cymbal here, Bob - make it loud)

    Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
    Noah rode out that shower
    Pharaoh let those people go
    But NOT  at the luncheon hour

    Lion lies with lamb but does not devour
    That cat got a different menu
    Planned for the luncheon hour

    21 October 2006

    Bees Knees

    Spent an afternoon with a secretive sort of cove who *says* he's from the dark side but you never know these days ... and is this true?

    Bees can be used to detect landmines?

    Tests have been made using honey bees that had been attuned to the whiff of TNT and were attracted to high explosives as if they were flowers?

    (At this point I can sense gentle readers booting off and wondering when *will* boy kick the sauce, like duude!)

    Up to now it's been dogs to find unexploded ordnance, right? Slow and dangerous work for both chiens and their handlers.

    But Mister Bee just flies across the mine field and hover around the naughty explosives sans risk of detonation and the swarm shows us where the stuff is. Brilliant.

    Having trained the little darlings to trace improvised explosive devices, we then move on to methamphetamine labs, corpses and all sorts of other uses, maybe even oil, heh heh.

    Oh and get this for a giggle: not only are the bees attracted to the landmines but they'll also *really* like buzzing round the guys who handled the explosives. When they go to land on their hands ... swat, shoo! STINNGG!! Woot!

    Can this be true? He looked serious enough thru his RayBans.

    Know Your Skin

    This is a gal thing so all you chap readers can glide your eye right on by.

    Whoever did this Liz Earle site deserves a medal: every time a lady mutters fishingly about her (usually flawless) skin, I've sent them here and a few days later they call up cursing me for sending them to a site that they can't stop exploring.

    It is rather well constructed with all the bells and whistles we gurls like to make us feel feminine.


    Mighty Rapist

    President Moshe Katsav of Israel is up on charges that he raped members of his staff.

    That model of morality and fair play, President Putin of all the Russias knows how *he* feels about his counterpart's behaviour:

    "What a mighty man he turns out to be!" quoth the putain, "He raped 10 women - I would never have expected this from him.

    He surprised us all - we all envy him!"

    Of course we do. That's how we wish all  politicians directed their time and energies.

    Questioned, a Kremlin spokesman admitted Mr Putin made a joke. "Yes really, these words were pronounced." But they were not meant to be overheard.

    Oh, then that's OK. Sorry to be listening in and picking up fag-ends. Totally our fault.

    All the same, it "in no way means that President Putin welcomes rape". Goodie.

    "The president was joking," he told the BBC's World Today radio programme.

    "Russian is a very complicated language, sometimes it is very sensitive from the point of view of phrasing.

    "I don't think that the proper translation is able to reflect the meaning of the joke."

    Rape ... mighty man ... envy ..."

    I wonder if I even want a 'proper translation'.

    20 October 2006

    Next stop, er, Kefalonia?

    Here's me and a coupla million classicists over the years thinking that Ulysses trogged home from Kerkira to scenic Ithaca.

    Wro-o-ong, say some Brit party-poopers, proposing an alternative site.

    What's the betting they've taken a backhander from the local tourism bureau to pitch nearby Kefalonia as our wandering home boy's home base.

    Indeed, so convincing do they want this ploy to seem that they're even sinking a borehole to test whether its western peninsula of Paliki is the real site.

    Can't you hear the rush of verminous "developers" and the anticipatory rumble of bulldozers?

    The lads hope to find evidence that Paliki "once stood proud, separated from Kefalonia by a narrow, navigable marine channel."

    It's only in the last 2,500-3,000 years - after  Homer's time, note - that the channel has been filled in (at least that's their story).

    18 October 2006

    Using the internet to self-medicate

    Yep, that's me - I knew I'd be fingered.

    Going out of one's way to hide internet activity? Totally me.

    From a New Scientist  report:

  • "Nearly 14% of respondents said they found it difficult to stay away from the internet for several days
  • 12% admitted they often remain online longer than expected.
  • More than 8% said they hid internet use from family, friends and employers
  • Same percentage confessed to going online to flee from real-world problems.
  • Approx 6% also said their personal relationships had suffered as a result of excessive internet usage."
  • Temporarily Pleasurable: Comparison even drawn between my compulsive drive to check email, make blog entries, or visit websites to substance abuse – "an irresistible urge to perform a temporarily pleasurable act."

    17 October 2006

    COPD Out

    So this is how I will cop it - the dread Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) with its delightful side-serving of "chronic bronchitis and emphysema (slayer of my dad) and leading cause of death worldwide" (very nice, I must say).

    At least I'll spot it: Begins with a cough leading to fatigue, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing as the lungs are destroyed.

    Actually, those are verry  familiar e'en now.

    16 October 2006

    Bingette Drinking

    As a dad of daughters and one who himself gazes too oft at wine when it is red, I worry about the trend of young ladies indulging in binge drinking that makes my salad day excesses look like a model of temperance.

    Disturbing, therefore, to read the Torygraph article that,

    "Instead of being told that they must accept responsibility for putting themselves at risk by getting insensibly inebriated, young women are to be shielded from the consequences of their own recklessness.

    This is what counts as a solution to the problem of female "binge drinking".

    Drunkenness of a degree and a regularity that would have had you classed as having a psychiatric problem in the United States [was] considered to be a sign of clubbable acceptability."

    Clearly a topical topic, for see the excellent comment from Mr ZW.

    14 October 2006


    She wanted to show me "Her Place", a secret she had discovered while driving around, trying to like something about the isle. No one else had seen it.

    We drove to the roof of the world, from where we walked the rest of the way.

    Breathtaking view, without wondering what lay ahead.

    Down in the sweeping bay is a lone rock - the 'ortholithi - jutting out to sea. There is a legend attached:

    An intrepid landlubber noticed a bees' hive halfway up and decided to have him some, climbed to the pinnacle and then lost his nerve coming down.

    Praying to the local saint, he promised half the honey proceeds if he got down safely. Which he did, and promptly forgot his promise.

    So, time passes and he rather likes his wealth so he decides on a seconf foray. Lowering himself on the rope, he sees a vicious serpent coiling to attack. Unsheathing his Bowie, he slices the scaley one in twain ...

    You got it, the 'serpent' was the dude's own rope, which he cut through, sending himself into the brine and down to Davy Jones' locker.

    The gods are not mocked.

    Up a narrow track she led us, me joking that it was exactly the rural outback where one *should* come across that rare sight, a black-clad crone astride donkey.

    Rounding the trail, there ahead *is* the very beast of burden, albeit sans hag atop.
    We clamber on up until we reach a tin shack (as it seems) whose key she turns and door opens to reveal a gem of a chapel with icons on every wall and the most exquisite candles and woodwork on the pews.

    We slip coins in the box and light candles and sit for a while, each lost in thought.

    For me, a mystical experience and I am lost for words when we finally make our way down.

    11 October 2006

    Fink Rat

    They should  be running scared out there if not actually crawling away to die a horrible death in some nook inaccessible to hound Sam.

    Instead, they are sitting around some water hole giggling their ratty tails off at me.

    In my quest to make Ranchero Busker a rodent-free zone, I have taken advice from all quarters:

    • Mama read somewhere that a whiff of tar will send them shrieking into the next county
      • I get myself (and much of the house and surroundings) thoroughly murky daubing the mucky stuff here and there (mostly *here* about my person)
    • Mountain man and lion of the nightcrew, the canny apond, tells me that a dab of ammonia behind the ears will speak of a 'serious cat presence'.
      • Jars all over the house - and blimey, that stuff don't half hit the nostrils if you stand over the open jar.
    • Pet store bloke shows me pills that they nosh on and crawl off to meet the Maker.
      • Succulent plates of the pills are distributed all around

    I'm left with the residue which I put downstairs in the toolshed, on a high shelf and all at one end: jar with tar; ammonia bottle; plate of pills.

    I go down today to fetch the shears to trim the Judas Tree and I happen to glance at the shelf: absolutely covered in rat droppings all  around the tar and ammonia and particularly *in* the plate of poison which they clearly enjoyed and came back for seconds.

    What galls me is that this is not an easy shelf to get to so they must really  have wanted to sample the fare.

    Dude Rat: 'Ullo doll, fancy coming out for some nosh and a bit of slap 'n' tickle after?

    Babe Rat: Ooh, cheeky - you are a one. OK then, where we goin' then?

    Dude: Well, it's a bit of a climb but werf it when ya gets there. Luverly food - you know, bit of home cooking, bit of exotic, and they do a luverly ammonia tiramisu

    Babe: Ooh, I love ammo' tiramisu.

    Dude: Orlrite then, we'll take my bike. Hang on tight

    Babe: Cheeky!

    pool equipment storage

    Cry Reptile

    As I've toiled in the grassier recesses of the garden, I have  been aware of a certain large and slithery presence.

    But I am shouted down when I mention it and told that I don't get out of slave labour as easily as that.

    (Also, I do rather have a tendency to imagine spooky jungle creatures - particularly after the third Glenlivet.)
    vacuum pipeWell, my dears, imagine my surprise when I went to get the hose and cleaning equipment to give the pool a vacuuming, and there on the pump room roof is this gorgeous but ginormous sloughed skin just lying there next to the storage crate.

    Yes, loves, very funny - I do see the blue python tucked away there - very drole. sloughed skin

    I tell you, I reached over for the cleaning gear with a respectful delicacy and caution.

    Almost enough to make me a dinky little handbag *and* have enough left over for that pair of scaley winklepickers I've been promising myself. skin with CDs

    Another shot with CDs for size.

    I can't *wait* to show it to the rest of them and watch them eat their words.

    Now I'm definitely nervous about grubbing around in the shrubbery.