With Apologies To Gilbert and Sullivan


It’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day, so I felt a reblog of this might be in order.

Originally posted on Kind of Lime:

September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.  Garrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


I am the very model of a modern movie buccaneer,

When playing Captain Jack, it’s like a Rolling Stone has snuck in here,

Although the script has major holes that you could drive a truck through, dear,

I know the slightly druggy stance will still advance my film career.

I’m very well acquainted, too, with characters satanical,

The whole gamut, from A to Z, from putz to puritanical,

But here I am, again, alongside extras wearing manacles

To save us all, once more, from foes impressively tyrannical

To save us all, once more, from foes impressively tyrannical!


I’m very good at slightly otherworldly folk, like Scissorhands;

My Michael Jackson made a breeze of Willy Wonka’s businessman:

I won Winona over then tattooed her on my arm, just here

I am the very model of a…

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What Do You Think Of It So Far?


Exactly 30 years ago today Eric Morecambe died. I couldn’t help wondering what the Afterlife was like after that:


SCENE: The Pearly Gates.  St Peter, dressed in traditional white robe and complete with halo, is updating a large ledger. There is a knock.


ERIC [offstage]: Anyone home?

ST PETER [somewhat testily]: Ring the bell please.

ERIC: The bell?

ST PETER: The bell to the gate. You can’t miss it. It’s a big chain with a fancy handle.

ERIC: Like Freeman, Hardy and Willis?

ST PETER: I beg your pardon?

ERIC: Why, what did you do?

ST PETER: Did you find the chain?

ERIC: I’m trying. But this long metal rope with a big knob on the end is in the way.

ST PETER: That’s the bell chain, you buffoon!

ERIC: Ah right!

 [Nothing happens for a few seconds]

ST PETER: Are you alright out there?

ERIC: Would you like me to I pull it?

ST PETER [sighing noisily]: If you wish the bell to ring, I heartily suggest you do.

ERIC: Right you are, sunshine!

[Sound effect: a toilet flushing]

ERIC: Sorry about that. It was a long walk up all those stairs. Let’s try this one…

{Sound effect: the clanging of a huge bell]

St Peter gets up, walks slowly to the gate and opens it. Eric pokes his head through the gap, waggles his glasses at the audience and looks St Peter up and down.

ERIC: Good evening, young lady. Is your father home?

ST PETER: I beg your pardon?

ERIC: No need to apologise, miss. Could you let your dad know I’m here, only it’s been a long day and I was hoping to get settled in my room before the football. You can get Match of the Day up here, can’t you?

ST PETER: Match of the Day?

ERIC: You must know it. Jimmy Hill. Big chin. David Coleman. Lots of balls. And that’s just the commentary.

ST PETER: I think you’ll find the football season is over.

ERIC [grabbing St Peter by the robes and pulling him face to face]:  Now listen here, Sonny. I signed up for the deluxe package.  Cigars. Beer. Dancing girls. And footie on tap 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  [He puts St Peter down, brushes imaginary dust from his robe, and pats the bemused saint’s cheek]  Nice halo, by the way.

ST PETER [coughs]: Erm. Thank you, I’ll see what I can do. I should be able to rustle something up.

ERIC: They can’t touch you for it, sunshine! Wahay!

ST PETER: Just for the record, what’s your name?

ERIC: John Eric Bartholomew, but you can call me “Sir”!

ST PETER: Very droll, sir.

ERIC: One last thing, how long ‘til Little Ern’s due?

ST PETER: About another 15 years.

ERIC: Only it’s his round.

ST PETER: I wouldn’t hold your breath.

ERIC: You’ve met him then!

ST PETER: Of course. Short, fat, hairy legs and you can’t see the join.

ERIC: Oi! That’s my line! [He takes a brown paper bag from his pocket] Have I shown you this one…?

[Exeunt Stage Left]

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A New Year’s reprise for my attempt at Wodehouse. The news story that inspired it is, somewhat alarmingly, true.

Originally posted on Kind of Lime:

Woman Hits Breeder With Chihuahua
A woman, angry that her new puppy had died, pushed her way into a dog breeder’s home and repeatedly hit her on the head with the dead Chihuahua, St Louis police authories report. The 33-year-old woman said she had taken the puppy to a veterinarian, who advised her it was only 4 weeks old and should be returned to its mother. But before she could return the puppy, it died.


“Ah there you are, Jeeves,” I said as the great man shimmered into the room. “Just in time, too. I have need of your grey matter.”

“Indeed, sir?”

A mask of horror shivered fleetingly across his normally impassive features.

“Aha!” I exclaimed. “You have noticed!”

“Indeed, sir.”

I fixed him with an intense Wooster stare, one that would have pierced the hide of many a lesser man. “Do I detect a scintilla of disapproval in your tone, Jeeves?”

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Third Degree Burns


It’s New Year’s Eve and later, after a few snifters, we’ll no doubt be singing Auld Lang Syne. But what on Earth does it all mean? Fear not, my faithful friends! I studied Burns at school and, as my gift to you as we part with 2013, I am happy to bring you the inside dope on what was going on amid that impenetrable thicket of Scots. You’re welcome.


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?

Should we forget our old friends and not remember them?

[Note how Burns uses this tautological device to drive home his point about forgetting things. Like the thing he just said.]

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Should we forget our old friends and Old Lang Syne!

[Old Lang Syne was a teacher of mathematics at Dalrymple Parish School where Burns first learned some of the things he later forgot. At that time, of course, Old Lang Syne was Young Lang Syne, second son of the headmaster, the original Old Lang Syne. To this day the debate rages furiously among scholars as to which of the Old Lang Synes is referenced in this poem. Some have even posited that Burns was referring to both. A sort of co-Syne.]


For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

My best drinking bud, let us drink a cup of something alcoholic to the memory of Old Lang Syne.

[A cup of kindness is generally held to be a corruption of "a cup of Kidney's". Kidney's Old Peculiar Dark Ale was a perennial favourite at the Tam O'Shanter Inn, Alloway, where Burns spent many a long day between poems.]

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For certain you’ll drink several pints of Kidney’s Old Peculiar, and so will I, to the point that we will toast Old Lang Syne over and over again with little memory of having done so already.

[The device of repetition is deployed by Burns throughout the poem, capturing the essential tediousness of a conversation between two drunkards.]


We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;

Basically we’re both at that stage of inebriation where we’ve totally pissed our pants but don’t care because we’ve now moved on to the optics.

[Gowan's Fine Scotch Single Malt Whisky was another staple at the Tam O'Shanter. After a particularly heavy session on it, Burns was once moved to write an ode to a louse.]

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.

But we’ve come a long way since Old Lang Syne. Which reminds me, we must drink a toast to him.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;

We’ve been piddled in the pub all day

[The Burn was a tavern notable for being frequented by poets of all persuasions. After heavy drinking sessions a favourite line among locals was: "Aye! Burns is burned in The Burn again the noo!"]

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

And it feels like we’ve drunk an ocean of ale

Sin’ auld lang syne.

Jings! We really should drink a toast to Old Lang Syne, before we forget.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught,

For auld lang syne.

Give me your hand, my best drinking buddy, I’ve just realised that after nineteen pints of Kidney’s and a couple of bottles of Gowan’s I am feeling such friendship for you that I might very well let you stroke my manhood. After all, it’s what Old Lang Syne would have wanted. Here’s to him!


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Warped and Twisted 5



1. Some donkeys to need something in place at the top (8)
5. A pronounced police presence in the trees (5)
9. Bit of a sheep to be used as a form of defence? (7)
10. Pale daughter an ever-present among pupils at Hogwarts? (4)
12. Magnificent display and enthusiasm, but the castle’s lost: must be these unfashionable locks (9)
13. Trudge a bit around the farm tonight — ram plays alongside (5)
15. Monarch loses last relative (3)
17. Eft’s orbit around this affliction (9)
18. Goddess loses head for a time (3)
21. Pleasantly warm in the Sound but also unsound! (5)
22. I curb this madness — excessively proud (9)
25. Socially inept type: Roman Emperor, the fourth to go and be replaced by daughter (4)
26. Short promotional piece always comes after? (7)
27. I, being swallowed by a shellfish, might have to make one of these (5)
28. Year tent was ripped led to an emotional plea (8)


1. Broken arm ok but make a meal of it (5)
2. Gave PM oyster meal, but four come back in March (4)
3. Business scar? It’s symbolic. (9)
4. Some mane to make into mesh (3)
6. Vegetable bird put together for one who struts his stuff (7)
7. Stop in the middle, we hear. Nevertheless it’s long-lasting (8)
8. Asylum pyjamas? In there that’s rough! (5)
11. Netted vessel, it’s said, might lead to service (9)
14. Hot gas just used for a special gathering of engines (5,4)
16. Utterly mad inside Eastern church for one who can put it all together (8)
19. Real bat flies around the province(7)
20. Children’s magazine edition (5)
23. Do we join it? (5)
24. Armed support? That’s going to annul NATO somewhat (4)
26. School head’s off: a heavyweight (3)

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The Case of the Apparating Cat


Since ‘Sherlock’ is in the offing once more…here’s my attempt at a slice of SACD :)

Originally posted on Kind of Lime:

I find it recorded in my pocket book that it was on the night of May the Tenth, 1896, when the stairwell adjoining our Baker Street apartments was filled with the clatter of someone’s hurried approach. Holmes, who had hitherto been sunk into one of his absorbed periods of bleak introspection  — so much so, I confess, that I had half expected him to reach for the seven percent solution — roused himself enough to comment: “I wonder, Watson, what could bring a denizen of Boston to our rooms at this time of the night?”

He waved away my perplexed protests with an airy explication: “Come, come, Watson. You must know that I have written a monograph on the subject of the clogs of East America. Their tenor is as unmistakeable as the sound of your wheezing cough in the October fogs. But, stay, our visitor is upon us!”

Holmes threw open the door to…

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Lest We Forget


Twelve years ago today, Mrs. Limey and I were aboard a charter flight to Crete. The journey had been largely uneventful until around an hour from landing, when the cabin crew grew suddenly and noticeably tense. They asked us, politely but firmly, to return the DVD players we had been watching, although with no explanation as to why. Clearly something was amiss.

What they knew, and we didn’t, was that 9-11 was underway.

We remained in ignorance right up until we reached our hotel room. Then, as is something of a holiday tradition, Mrs. L retired to the bathroom while I, rather than do something useful, like unpack, turned on the television to check out the exact number and nature of the available channels.

The television screen flickered into life, to reveal the unmistakeable skyline of New York. As I watched, a jet plane careened silently, as if in slow motion, into one of the Twin Towers.

“I suppose you’re watching the TV already!” came my wife’s accusatory voice from the bathroom.

“It’s some kind of disaster movie,” I reported.

“You could start unpacking, you know. We didn’t come on holiday to watch television.”

I didn’t reply. The truth had hit me that I was watching a live news programme. I sat slack-jawed as the Greek commentator babbled incomprehensibly over the arresting images, but, in reality, no commentary was necessary. What I was watching was all too clear. A passenger plane had lost control and had, tragically, dived into the heart of New York City. A massive plume of grey-white smoke was pouring skyward from a gaping wound in one of the Twin Towers.

By now my wife had emerged from the bathroom and was sitting beside me on the bed as the news programme looped the film of the crash over and over.

“Try to find an English news channel,” she urged.

As I flicked between channels, every second one depicted the now familiar cartwheeling collision of plane and tower. Eventually I found an American news channel, but it was clear that the whole world had stopped what it was doing and was watching this disaster in action, presumably with the same strange sense of surreal disbelief as me.

“…we have reports of a second plane heading towards New York…fighter jets have been scrambled as another plane is reported to have been hijacked…”

The whole truth dawned. This was no mere accident. America was under attack. Al Quaeda was making good on its frequent promises to wreak havoc on the West, and in a big way.

Needless to say, the holiday spirit was particularly hard to find that day and for days after. In cafes, bars, hotels and restaurants, people — staff, customers and passers-by alike — were glued to televisions. Where footballers would normally be squaring up to one another on a pristine green canvas, now were painted the grey-dusted survivors of the Twin Towers, stumbling through a perpetual fog of confusion, blood and twisted metal. Stories of heroism and adversity emerged hourly as we watched, literally unable to drag our eyes away from the screens; again and again the familiar giants fell, each repetition reminding us like a knife to the gut that there were real people inside whose families would never see them again.

And yet, what could have been construed as ghoulish fascination on the part of we onlookers very obviously wasn’t. My abiding memory of the shared emotion at the time is a strange, impotent empathy for the New Yorkers and, gradually, a growing respect for the infinite dignity that mostly typified their response: the small, still voices of calm, sorrowful but unbowed.

My wife and I were lucky enough to visit New York three years later. We hired a guide, a New York cabbie, who drove us around the city and told us of his experiences that day. He spoke proudly of the plans to construct a bigger, better building where the Twin Towers had been. He told us it was what the city wanted: a gesture of defiance and a refusal to be cowed. He took us to Ground Zero and let its understated eloquence speak for itself.

Looking back on 9-11, it feels now that we were all bit players in someone else’s story. On the periphery, perhaps, but touched by the events in a very real way. At that time we felt more connected, somehow, to other people, strangers in a faraway place. The pity is that it took an act of insanity to make that happen, which is why I cannot look at Syria now and abide the thought that we might stand idly by and watch a madman murder much of his population because “it isn’t our business”.

We’re all human. It’s all our business.

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