Category Archives: musings

philosophical itch-scratching, odd mutterings and results of too much cheese before bedtime

New words … that should be in the dictionary


It’s time to resurrect this blog, so for starters, a few new words for experiences that currently lack them …

Timble(verb) to offer someone a cup of tea which you then instantly forget to make.

This can lead to the double timble, where you hurriedly make the forgotten tea, only to find its intended target has given up waiting and made their own.

Residual Tea Memory or RDM (noun) the practice of being vaguely aware you have an unfinished cup of tea left somewhere in the house or office.

Triphop(verb) to disguise a stumble with a deft piece of footwork, like practicing a half-remembered dance step. Was also once experimental music genre, popularised in Bristol.

Rudehog(noun) an oncoming motorist who fails to acknowledge you’ve stopped to let them through. See also dreamtwerp

Dreamtwerp(noun) A motorist appearing to operate in a parallel universe, unaware of others letting them through, the chaos they cause by not indicating, or the cyclist they’ve almost knocked over

Barkle(verb) to attempt to communicate surreptitiously with a friend or partner by means of a poorly faked cough

Skatle (verb – pronounced “skar-tle”) a dance delivered typically by 40/50something men with fond but hazy memories of 2-Tone. Eg “He skatled so furiously that a wide circle appeared round him on the dancefloor, and Brenda denied all knowledge of the man”

Transigent(adj.) Extremely easy to persuade.

Got some? Let me know yours …

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Home (part 1)

It’s the place that you leave
When you no longer cleave
Somewhere you don’t have to achieve
It’s the corner where you grieve

It’s the chorus in your song
You don’t have to be too strong
In the right or in the wrong
It’s the place you belong

You can say that it’s broken
That its rules are unspoken
That its meaning is just token
It’s the sleep from which you’ve never woken

Dorothy says there’s no place like it
It’s near enough that you can bike it
It’s walking distance – you can hike it
It’s a seam of gold if you can strike it

They say it’s where your heart is
You know it’s where your start is
Even if you’ve been to Timbuktu
It’s a place you come back to


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Signs that made me smile

An occasional series – daft signs pictured on my travels …

Sometimes fruit and vegetable shop owners get a bit confused ...

Loved this one from Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, London. It's the combination of a rather British threat warning ("Danger! You may be about to be attacked!") with everyday politeness ("Thank you - do carry on with your business"). Classic.

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I have been inside the corridors of power

I have been inside
the corridors of power.
And they are more often
with chairs and a table
in them.

Often they are used by
ordinary people
who have ended up there
by accident.
Or design.
Or votes.
Or something.

They probably don’t wake up
and say to their loved ones:
“today I am going to
my usual place
in the corridors of power”.

They say: “I am going to work”.

And so the exercise of power
is broken down into a thousand
small things
like phone calls
typing words
and running out of paper clips.

At night the corridors of power
echo to the sound of vacuuming,
because the cleaners are in.

They make sure the corridors
(and rooms) of power are
not covered in dust.
Because that reminds the
people who work in
the corridors (and rooms) of power
of what they will
ultimately become.

The corridors (and rooms)
of power can get a bit

But there is always

10 March 2010

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The Tweets of Brandon Cummerbund, Pt 4


Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? No, a compost heap, Botley, unless thou get the shrubbery cut back.

Coriander Fitzshertbert called to borrow gramophone. Baboon in cellar. I have quick toe count: still all there. Recital today. Must gargle.

Baboon squatting for monkey rights. Have called cousin Bertie who has blunderbuss. Hailing outside. More taxis than usual. Breakfast: kidney

Cook still sulking over quiche rejection. Muffins like rock cakes. Rock cakes like meteorites. Mrs C using reinforced false teeth. Temp: icy

Coriander Fitzshertbert called to borrow gramophone. Baboon in cellar. I have quick toe count: still all there. Recital today. Must gargle.

Baboon squatting for monkey rights. Have called cousin Bertie who has blunderbuss. Hailing outside. More taxis than usual. Breakfast: kidney

Bertie has adopted baboon, and lent me blunderbuss. Botley suddenly showing respect. Ukulele session later. Mrs C has earplugs in. Hippityho

By Jingo! Have been selected for Bloomsbury Quoits second team. Must buy new jodphurs and tub of wax for grip. Supper: braised haddock tails

Taramasalata. Salsa. Gentlemen’s Relish. Hummous. Tzatziki. Tabasco. HP. Piccalilli. Some of the dips and sauces I have tried with toast …

Hobbledehoy attempts to steal Mrs C’s handkerchief. I see him off with a thwack of me cane. Suspect Fagin’s mob. Breakfast: waffle, sausage

Valet gone to whittling workshop. Cook bottling plums. Mongoose scuttling about. Butler buttling. Boot boy sprattling, he says. He’s fibbing

Botley planning severe hackage of garden tomorrow. May not see him for days. Champagne on ice. Supreme gargle this morning. Tea: lapsang.

Gad, Botley roped in gang of labourers to chainsaw the foliage. Now can see the wood for the trees. Rumours of lost tribe in garden shed.

Tasty dish with squash and risotto proffered by cook this evening. Mongoose sulking again over paw-paw allowance. Chocolate: Green&Blacks70%

Friday looming large and hairy, although could be cook in bad light. Where is cheese? Do chickens snore? What is Botley? Mysteries, all

Chum Archipelago de Cuella chuffed about Olympics in Rio. May take a steamer over. Brazil’s footballers should be made to play 3-legged mind

The oranges of my aunt are in the basket. Here is Father. The monkeys have eaten all the cheese. Why am I reading a French textbook? Bouf!

Glad to have travelled up to one of our foremost metropoli by steam chariot. Enjoyed a book charting history of gramophone record. Chachacha

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? No, a compost heap, Botley, unless thou get the shrubbery cut back. Poetic justice. Dinner in Pinner

Pass the marmalade, Terence. Chum Monty the Monk suffering from tonsuritis. Valet has limp. Mongoose looks shifty. See

Stiff neck from too much craning. Boot boy afternoon off for football. Mongoose toenail clipping day. Going out. May be some time. Toodlepip

Mongoose clipped. Police were called after neighbours complained. Mrs C just wanders round gibbering. No change there. Breakfast: quail eggs

Mushrooms on toast. Cheese on toast. Scrambled eggs on toast. Bacon. Sausage. Devilled kidneys. Potato cakes. Just wanted others to salivate

Toasting fork missing. Butler looking shifty. Always looks shifty. Born shifty. Botley looks like hamster. Marshmallows located. Plot afoot!

Tallulah Boomdeay calling round to borrow lemon. Sparrows have been pecking the milk. Must clear ’em out of fridge. Breakfast: zabaglioni

The Boll Weevil (aka next door’s cat) is on back lawn. Botley poised with hoe. Mongoose behind shrubbery. Self in easy chair with binoculars

RSPCA called after Boll Weevil hooha. Mongoose unrepentant. Boot boy has drawn rough sketch. Next door making threats. Weather: sunny spells

Mashie niblick playing up today. Jiggerypokery on the links. Caddie reprimanded. Snifter at 9th. Crofter at 12th. Afters at 19th. Tiddlypom

Mrs C and I exchanged lobsters, as custom on nuptials anniversary. Cook promising fatted calf. Mongoose worried. Breakfast: mango souffle

Awoken by belching mongoose. Not recommended. Birds tweeting. Cook puffing. Valet brushing lapels. Boot boy polishing. Mrs C snoring. Ho hum

Stoke Poges. Cleethorpes. Upper Witherington. Nadgers Bottom. Twistlefield. All places Mrs C & self have holidayed. None we’d revisit. Humph

Top suppliers: Tosh & Piffle, solicitors and commissioners for oaths; Spatchcock and Batley, fishmongers; Twaddle, bakers. Ying tong ipo

Couldn’t find toaster this morning. Turns out it’s his day off. Pah!

Electrickery chap came yesterday and replaced things, fiddled with bits and bobs and charged a King’s ransom. Still, all now hunky dory

Envisaging some foraging next week. Unsure where to take Mrs C since rest of household absconding. Only Splinge is coming. Suggestions?

Caught Botley eating Gentleman’s Relish. Severely reprimanded. Also reminded he is not a gentleman. Mrs C says I am harsh. Refuse to kowtow.

Tintinabulists bonging merrily today. Mongoose ponging, must get Botley to hose down. Must ask vicar if he’s going to Rome. Cook needs pasta 8:41 AM Oct 25th from web

Vicar not going to Rome, so cook sent out for pasta. Boot boy on day’s training at St Pancras. Breakfast: grilled kipper. Weather: hopeful

Cook alarmed to discover new trend in eating places: Boot boy went and ate half his weight in beans. Mongoose in trauma

Off to market today in search of mothballs for mongoose (don’t ask). Am taking pith helmet and stout stick to fend off ne’er do wells. O yes

Marscapone and he won’t know where he’s going. Survived market and mongoose now happily crunching mothballs (don’t ask). Breakfast: anchovy

Algernon Parp-Stratley gone to India to find himself. Wasn’t aware he’d gone missing. Will leave a gin sling in the window. Tweed: Harris

Attending nuptials tomorrow. Best bib and tucker. Here comes the bride. Mrs C refuses to wear hat. Ridiculous. Shall sing with gusto, dammit

Brolly? Top hat? Overcoat? Sou’wester? Spats? Breeches? Plus fours? Fedora? Cane? Smoking jacket? Waistcoat? All good if playing Scrabble

Gad, mad 11-tweets at once woman is at it again. Considering not feeding mongoose for a week then sending him to her in a parcel. Tiddly pom

Cook ill. Rest of household holding its breath. Botley staying in shed. Bootboy in cupboard under stairs. Mongoose in box. Breakfast: toast

Mrs C applying Venezuelan back massage. Requires Wellies, a cricket bat and three litres of treacle. It could get nasty. But does the trick.

Back still a bit dicky. Suspect Mrs C used wrong sort of treacle. Mongoose will not come within 10 feet. Botley spotted with fly spray. Pah!

Back improving, front so-so, sides splendid. Boot boy practicing polishing. Valet ironing. Botley hoeing. Mongoose yodelling. Eggs: coddled

Shall have to call tradesman again. Sprocket is broken on thingummy. Boot boy looks guilty. Mongoose looks innocent. Looks can be deceiving

Plimpley Brothers coming to tinker with the Aga. Aga Khan coming to tinkle on the Steinway. Mongoose ticked off for tinkling on cook. Ahem.

Botley to creosote the trellis. Expect mayhem to ensue. Cook in search of maraschino cherries. Invented cereal that cleans teeth: Flossties

Trimming my portmanteau today. Spats sent to be ironed. Collar studs being defettled. Shoelaces waxed. Hats starched. Cologne: pungent

Butler sent to get umbrellas repaired. Excessive downpour damaged spokes. (Spokes is our umbrella carrier, now receiving treatment). Hum.

Reliquary. Tonsorial. Tintinabulists. Mulligatawney. Agamemnon. Paganini. Plangent. Interlocutary. Wallamaloo. Just trying out new teeth.

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School daze

First piece written for the Revival Media podcast – October 08. I’ll post an mp3 once it’s available ….

School days, they say, are the best days of your life.

Which isn’t a cheering thought when the dog’s eaten your homework, the school bully has discovered your middle name is Sebastopol and you’ve just encountered quadratic equations.

And anyway, what do THEY know? THEY might have gone to fantastic schools and then embarked on a career as a traffic warden, or a ballpoint pen tester, or a call centre operative flogging acrylic sweater debobblers. In which case, school might well have been the best it got.

But some of us have found the education system a bit of mixed bag – some fantastic teachers, others with the inspirational qualities of a cold bowl of mushroom soup. Brilliant memories of larking around with your friends, discovering the wonders of the world you’re growing up in and seeing if it really is possible to eat three cream  crackers without a drink of water.

Then again there were always those scary incidents where you couldn’t see your essay because of the amount of red pen on it, the exam papers where you reached the end with a sigh of relief only to discover two more questions on the back and 30 seconds to answer them in, and those occasions when  the facts you thought you’d learned had simply gone on a brief tour of your brain before discovering an exit somewhere and escaping to freedom.

The good thing is that however rubbish or brilliant your school days were, you actually never stop learning. In such an amazing world, there’s always something new to discover … even if it’s the 101 different ways it’s possible to lose your TV remote …

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The cocktail stick: an appreciation

What can one make of the simple cocktail stick?

A sliver of wood, with a sharp point at each end, it can, surely, only have been invented by someone interested in making it into the Guinness Book of Records for the longest splinter on record.

Rumour has it, though, that it first made its appearance in New York around the time cocktails were invented: possible the roaring Twenties, or the wheezing Thirties, maybe even earlier, in the tubercular Teenies. Famously used for the ubiquitous maraschino cherry, it was seen as something to twirl coquettishly while twinkling over your Harvey Wallbanger, or whatever.

Now more commonly used for the humble pickled onion, its star has somehow waned, one suspects. The pickled onion has plenty to commend it – notably the sharp vinegar tang, and the first crunch when you bite into it – but it’s hardly as sophisticated as an exotic cocktail.

Other environments in which the cocktail stick has been spotted include:

1 Stuck in little sausages, or pineapple and cheese at retro Seventies parties
2 Stuck in Oranges, with small sweets skewered upon them, at church Christingle services around Christmas time
3 Er, that’s about it

Possible future uses could include:

1 Providing a cut-price bed of nails for hard-up circus performers
2 A cheap, recession-friendly mini Jack Straws game
3 As toothpicks for the risk-takers among us

A&E departments around the world probably all have tales of casualties admitted with a part or whole cocktail stick jiggling merrily in the internals somewhere, and they’re certainly sharp enough to qualify as javelins for any passing leprechauns.

More recent times have of course brought the plastic cocktail stick – multi-coloured but just as sharp.
If you have any printable experiences to relate involving cocktail sticks – do let me know.

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10 matters of key national importance

At times I worry that some of the things I write about border on the trivial. At other times I worry that I may have the gift of understatement. Most of the time, I don’t worry much at all.

But occasionally I have to set myself writing tasks.

Here are some possible subjects I may be exploring over the coming days. Or ignoring entirely.

1 Cheese and its place in the cosmos
2 Cocktail sticks: a social history
3 Why kangeroos cannot pass wind (it’s true – I saw it on QI the other day)
4 Can you get a loan from a bottle bank?
5 Are cardboard clothes just an impossible dream?
6 Where exactly is Stoke Poges?
7 Kazoos and the jazz dynamic
8 Why carpets signal the end of civilisation as we know it
9 Nectar of the gods, and the stuff the gods rejected
10 A celebration of celery

Feel free to comment if you have pearls of wisdom on these vital issues. Or just poorly considered rubbish. Comment is free, after all.

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One man went to mow

One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow. One man and his dog, went to mow a meadow.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d query the value of the dog. It would tend to scurry about, getting in the way and not generally being much use in the mowing department. Unless, of course, it was a trained mower and was able to give the man a break from time to time. It could, at a stretch, be a highly skilled mower and thus render the man’s presence pretty irrelevant.

Maybe the dog had poor eyesight and so needed the man to take him to the meadow, get him sorted with the mower and turn him round at each end. Sort of a guide dog, in reverse.

Then again, maybe he was just there because of the song. But you don’t get too many popular songs or nursery rhymes with an entirely gratuitous animal planted in it, just to make it scan, but of no relevance to the action. Hickory Dickory Dock, for instance, has the mouse in a fairly central role. Running UP the clock before, of course, running DOWN again following the striking of the hour. Hardly peripheral.

Three Blind Mice, again, features the rodents in a strongly central role – admittedly sharing some of the limelight with the farmer’s wife – but clearly not stuck in on a whim as merely hapless victims of the knife-wielding maniac with a disturbing hobby of collecting mouse tails.

Mind you, you are tempted to wonder exactly why the mice are blind, and what this adds to the scenario. “Three blind mice – see how they run”. With extreme care, one would presume, with a fair bit of bonking straight into bits of furniture. And was the farmer’s wife performing her tail removal in a carefully planned operation, rodents in hand, or wildly slashing at them as they scampered past? In which case a meat cleaver might have achieved more, you’d have thought.

One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow. One man and his mouse, went to mow a meadow. Now there’s a idea to conjure with.

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