Thursday, February 27, 2014

Smart kid, French-style

 Dans une salle de classe la maîtresse interroge le petit Pierre:
"Pierre, 4 oiseaux se reposent sur une clôture, si tu tires sur un oiseau avec ta carabine, combien d'oiseaux reste-t-il ?"
"Zéro" répond Pierrot, "Parce que si je tire sur un oiseau, les autres vont s'enfuir en volant."
" réponse que j'attendais était trois" dit la maîtresse, "mais j'aime bien ta manière de penser."
Alors, Pierrot lève la main et dit : "J'ai une question pour vous maîtresse :
"Trois femmes sont en train de savourer des cônes MIKO, la première lèche son cône, la deuxième mord son cône et la troisième le suce, laquelle des trois est mariée ?"
La maîtresse rougit jusqu'aux oreilles et répond d'un air gêné : " ne suis pas sure. J'imagine que c'est celle qui suce le cône..."
"Non" dit Pierrot, "c'est celle qui porte une alliance, mais j'aime bien votre manière de penser.

Monday, February 17, 2014


If Diane Krall doesn't curl your toes, it ain't her fault! She does an amazing rendition of this old Blossom Dearie number, Peel Me a Grape.

The Old Scrote's Knicker Drawer

I guess it is the experience of most married men to be aware of the mystery which is their everloving's knicker drawer. You never went there, and she damned well didn't want you to. At best you caught a glimpse. Terrifying. And, again most of you married men reading this
will recall the occasion when your wife decided to have a clear-out of her knicker drawer. Again, mysterious, terrifying. You, of course, were banished from the bedroom for the duration. Clearly the drawer contained a much greater variety of bits and bobs than its name suggests, but that is enough about that. Job done, leaving a tidy drawer (one assumes) and a smug expression on the lady's face.
The reason I mention all this is that I have just had a blitz on the male equivalent: my sock drawer. Goodness, what an accumulation of tat! How can I have been such a slut over the years? Socks of every shade and shape, hole-ridden, crusty and pilled; horrible from every standpoint. The only consolation is that I found a couple of things that I had been looking for in vain over the years, including my father's ARP whistle (don't ask). Anyway, the drawer is now cleared of two-thirds of its contents, and what remains is very tidy and totally identifiable. The whole exercise gave me a fresh respect for my late wife, God bless her.
PS I don't apologise for the misleading title I gave to this piece: it was the only way I could be sure of attracting your attention.

Henley again

Recently, spurred by the phrase “bloody but unbowed” in an email from my friend Johanna, I posted the poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley from which the quote came. A second phrase “I am captain of my soul” taken from the poem was used by the Economist on the occasion of the death of Nelson Mandela. I had not heard of Henley before, so I became curious about him, and particularly why he had written such a defiant poem. It appeared in 1875, and (to quote Wikipedia) “was written as a demonstration of his resilience following the amputation of his foot due to tubercular infection.”
He is well worthreading about. Amongst other things, he was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's character, Long John Silver, in Treasure Island. Altogether, a good bloke was William Ernest Henley.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Christmas Mouse, The Sequel

50p for size comparision only: not a bribe

You all know the story of the Christmas Mouse from a few years back. I was on my own for Christmas, so decided not to put up any decorations. Three days or so before Christmas Day, I was sitting in the sitting room, when I saw a mouse emerge from down the chimney (The fireplace was unused), run along the bottom of the wall, under the door and away into the hall. I went next morning - and this is the truth - to the garden centre and bought a Christmas tree, on the grounds that I had company for the festive season, albeit nothing more congenial than a diminutive rodent with no conversation to speak of.
A few days before this Christmas gone, while watching television, I noticed a sort of bulge on the aerial cable. It moved as I approached it. It was a mouse. It ran down the cable, along the bottom of the wall, under the door and away into the hall, just as its great-great-great-etc-grandfather had done all those years ago.
I didn't see it again, but found droppings from time to time in unfortunate places: kitchen and bedroom in particular. How do you catch a mouse? Every method is unpleasant in one way or another. Well, it disappeared for a week or so and then three-four days ago, the droppings started to re-appear. Damn. Last night, making ready for bed, I noticed in the corner behind the door a small dark shape. It was so indistinct that I fetched a torch to see what it was: a walnut? a FerreroRochet? a trilobite? No, it was a mouse, nose in corner, tail outward, motionless. Dead, it seemed. I picked it up by the tail using a grabber. Immediately it began to wriggle and squeak.
I carried it, dangling on the end of the grabber, to the bedroom window and released it into the darkness. Wee sleekit cow'rin' timorous beastie. At least there is no panic in MY breastie: I am mouse-poo free again.
I hope.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Vus titzuch?

Le Président Obama fait venir le chef de la CIA et lui demande:
- Comment s’ y prennent les Juifs pour tout savoir avant nous ?
Le responsable de la CIA répond:
 - Les Juifs utilisent l’ expression suivante : "Vus titzuch?"
Et le Président de demander:
- Qu’ est-ce que cela veut dire?
- Eh bien, M. le Président, répond le Directeur de la CIA, c’est une expression yiddish, que l’on peut traduire, grosso modo, par "Quoi de neuf?". Ils s’interrogent l’un l’autre de cette manière et comme cela, ils sont au courant de tout.
Le Président décide d’ aller, incognito, vérifier par lui-même si la chose est vraie. Il se déguise en Juif orthodoxe (chapeau noir, barbe, longue redingote noire), un avion sans signe distinctif l’amène secrètement à New York, on le met à bord d’ une voiture ordinaire et on le dépose dans le quartier le plus juif de Brooklyn. Aussitôt un petit homme âgé vient traîner dans les parages. Le Président l’arrête et lui murmure à l’ oreille:
 -Vus titzuch?
Le vieil homme lui répond en chuchotant: 
- Obama est à Brooklyn.

Monday, February 03, 2014

My love is like a red red row of squiggles

My third-age friend H - and I love her dearly - has decided to learn Mandarin Chinese, both spoken and written. She couldn't really tell me why. I think it's the Mount Everest Syndrome (MES): people climb it simply because it's there.
Fortunately, as a life-long sufferer from Fluffy Kidney  Syndrome (FKS), the root cause of inertia, I have managed to avoid the likes of MES. All the same, I couldn't resist taking a peek at the peak that H has decided to climb. I watched a specimen lesson on youtube all about the five-tone system. Get your tone wrong and you could call your mother a horse.
On then, to a demo of the writing system. Here is the character for "love" and how you write it:

Doesn't look much like love, does it?

Sunday, February 02, 2014


A friend of mine described herself, after emerging from two weeks of hospital unpleasantness, as being "bloodied but unbowed". I thought, ah, must be another quotation from Shakespeare, but it isn't. Here's the poem, Invictus, from which it is taken, It is a new one on me, as is its author, William Ernest Henley.
Any ideas about the circumstances which caused him to write such a poem?

OUT of the night that covers me, 
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
  For my unconquerable soul. 
In the fell clutch of circumstance         5
  I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
  My head is bloody, but unbowed. 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
  Looms but the Horror of the shade,  10
And yet the menace of the years 
  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. 
It matters not how strait the gate, 
  How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate:  15
  I am the captain of my soul.