Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Thought for the Day, with Justin Webly, more or less Arch of Cant


Justin here, and as I type 2014 slowly ebbs away into the past. This year will become last year and a new year, unsullied by the will of man will be upon us. “Where does all the time go?” is a question often asked in our hurly-burly lives, but do we really consider it? I mean, where DOES it go? Into some cosmic storehouse of the past? Or does it simply disappear, as the minutes I have used typing thus far have possibly done?
What would we do if we had access to the past? Would we seek to rectify mistakes? Would I drop one of the religious tunes I chose for my recent appearance on “Desert Island Discs” and select “Bat Out of Hell” instead? Given the chance, I probably would.
If, one day, by dint of techno-scientific advancement, we are able to change the past, exactly what WOULD we change, bearing in mind that the past inevitably affects the future?
However, these and other metaphysical musings must now cease as I lend a hand in organizing the Palace’s New Year celebrations. There will be hot soup and bread rolls for the homeless of course, supervised by local Police officers on the lookout for outstanding warrants.
Midnight Service is always very popular with parishioners overflowing with Festive spirit and I shall try to offer as light-hearted a sermon as possible, perhaps likening life to a game of football.
But before that we have dinner and guests chosen this year by my lady wife. The young man with the wire in his ear chose last year’s who were, in fact, all footballers. No such thing for my lady wife. At the head of the list is one Daniel Craig – a film actor, I am told, whilst slightly further down is Father Dougal O’ Houligan from our local Catholic church – something of a trencherman and spirits expert. “If ye can light it, I’ll drink it” is a typical O’Houligan bon mot. Then come some ladies whose names quite frankly do not ring a bell although one of them was pointed out by the young man with the wire in his ear as being “hot”. An ongoing medical condition perhaps. What would Jesus have thought?

I am proud to announce that our special guest this year is none other than Mr Boris Johnson, mayor, and soon to be – some would say – our next Prime Minister.

And so, with these thoughts clamouring in my head, I shall prepare a few words of greeting  for our guests, as well as putting the finishing touches to my sermon. When I confided to the young man with the wire in his ear that I sought a little levity this year, he told me a joke about a duck, a rubber glove and a fat lady. Sadly, I didn’t understand it.

A Very Happy New Year to you all.

Pip, pip,


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Services

Glossop Town has recently reintroduced the Council-funded mobile public enema facility.

Councillor Dick Trouser says, "There's no need to be bunged-up in 2015 now!"

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Thought for the Day, with Justin Webly, more or less Arch of Cant

Hullo, Justin here,

And as our most spiritual and joyous festival approaches, bringing as it does merriment with our friends and families and humble thanksgiving with fellow parishioners for the coming of the Christ-child, who, it should be noted was born “at home”, in line with the National Childbirth Trust’s message, I feel that in this, my last message to you before Christmas, I should concentrate on that season.

However, wearing my political hat, I really must give voice to my concerns about the goings-on within and around a certain democratic phenomena known to us all as UKIP. That party’s leader, one Nigel Farage attracts huge media attention. As Sam Goldwyn once said of Greta Garbo, “The camera loves him” (Miss Garbo, early in her career, did sport a small moustache). And this must surely be true of Mr Farage. He is a man of the people. He drinks, smokes, spits, swears, survives ‘plane crashes' and is doubtless excellent company at dinner parties.

Sadly though, he surrounds himself with what the young man with the wire in his ear calls “knobheads”. I myself am not familiar with the term and can only surmise it refers to bedstead manufacture.

It seems to me that despite living in an age of instant communication, GCHQ surveillance, and implied internationalism, a significant slice of the population pie would put its weight behind Mr Farage and UKIP.

Like White Vanman or not, one would think that Mr Farage’s race to parliamentary influence places him in pole position. Nevertheless, those closest to Mr Farage let him down constantly. In the last few days one of his would-be MPs has resigned after making racist and homophobic remarks, blaming strong medication for his faux pas. I find this odd. Why, like all of us, I myself have taken painkillers in the past. I was forced to rely on them for a couple of weeks after an unfortunate coming together with a drill bit during my days in the oil business. But at no time did they affect my political or spiritual stance.

Embarrassingly, another UKIP candidate, a bald gentleman in his 50s, swore undying love to an alleged would-be UKIPper – a much younger female with whom he had what can only be described as hands-on experiences.

And where does all this, and doubtless more information come from, you may ask? I do not know. What I do know is that when details of the latest UKIP resignee appeared on the BBC news, the young man with the wire in his ear punched the air and shouted, “Yes!“

Even apparently genuine UKIP joiners have very unfortunate names like “Reckless”. Dearie me.
For the record, I do not share Mr Farage’s rather limited view of mankind, but I am a fan of fair play and feel strongly that the already murky political waters are being disturbed somewhat by persons unknown. I shared my concerns with the young man with the wire in his ear. His response was surprising. He handed my lady wife and I a mobile telephone each, warned us not to use the landline, and that these two gifts were called “burners” and virtually untraceable. He then tapped the side of his nose and winked.

I prefer to regard these two telephones as Christmas gifts and, to please the young man with the wire in his ear, will use mine, despite the strange clicks it tends to make. Why even now, my lady wife is speaking on hers to Neckitt and Falldown, our wine merchants, ordering significant amounts of Christmas cheer.

Which brings me back, rather neatly I thought, to what should have been the main message of this missive – that being to God bless us, every one, and hope that you have a wonderful Christmas.

Pip, pip,

Thursday, 11 December 2014

On This Day

Five Years Ago

Results were announced of the competition held by Dymvale Borough Council to name the new road being built for housing development at Fivetrees. The winning entry (rewarded with a week's free parking at any council car park within the borough) was 12 year old Kylie Throng, who came up with the name of New Road. There were seven other entries, including Desolation Row, Flood Meadows, Abomination Avenue and Whowantsthisanyway.

Ten Years Ago

A legal settlement involving undisclosed sums of money was reached between publishers Thorley Pieves and the award-winning writer Lydia Stobleigh, acclaimed by critics for her courageous and innovative approach to the written word. At issue had been the publication of Ms Stobleigh's ground-breaking work, a 589-page contemplation of self, written as one sentence, all in lower case and devoid of punctuation. The title of this volume should have read 'Impenetrable', but instead left the printer's and was displayed in every bookshop bearing the title 'I'm Penetrable'. This, claimed the publishers, was only a small change of text that had helped sales enormously.

Twenty Years Ago

An appreciative gathering filled the church at Fickleshole in Kent at the memorial service held to celebrate the life and work of pioneer film-maker Norman Throbbing. Warm tributes were paid to a man described as 'unique', 'one-off' and 'like no other'. Those attending were treated to a selection of the well-known pieces to come from the Throbbing Productions Studio and find a home in the BBC Interlude archive. These included Leaf Falling, Ball Rolling, and Paint Drying, along with the full, uncut version of his famous sequence Bake-Off, featuring two potatoes in a glass-fronted oven. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Cassius Pugnatius Seagull

And as December has gently morphed into winter, rather unusually for this year, ho ho ho have I had some fun. Mrs Blenkinsopp at No. 104 has been 'entertaining' a gentleman who - so my limited search reveals - is not Mr Blenkinsopp. I sat on the window sill and joined in their mournful cries. At an appropriate moment, I joined in with my famous impersonation of a machine gun. The so-called gentleman then lobbed a boot at me, which went crashing through the window and landed on a traffic warden below. 

Now how's she going to explain that to her husband. Fnaar.

I did return momentarily to make one last mournful lament before soaring orf into the bright blue yonder that is St Leonards on Sea. Fnaar.

However, it has come to the attention of we gulls that a bunch of people calling themselves 'The Kippers' will be gathering together at the Doom and Gloom (an inn, tavern or house of ill repute so called because one of the punters died whilst awaiting his pint of 'Old Dogfart' and nobody noticed. Not for a week.) 

But I digress.

What these kippers seek to do is have a quiz night where you pay a fortune to participate, and have a portion of fish and chips. Indoors. Yep, indoors. Well, what's a gull supposed to do? No rich pickings there then.

Operating a shift system (yes, that said 'shift' and nuffink else), we will be lining up along the edge of the roof and greeting these so-called kippers in our inimitable gull style; once on arrival and once on departure.

After all, we don't want this sort of useless immigrant spoiling our sea-front haunt, do we?

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Thought for the Day, from Justin Webly, more or less Arch of Cant


Justin here.                             

I write as the sounds of police sirens retreat from local high street stores towards the end of what is mysteriously dubbed “Black Friday”. A far better name would be “Greedy Friday“. As I grow older, there are lots of things I simply do not “get”. Facebook, Twitter, Strictly Come Dancing (in parts) Nigel Farage (in his entirety), food progammes, and ISIS, all of these plus certain humans’ reactions to signs proclaiming a SALE. It would seem that thousands of  usually reasonable people besiege stores well before opening times with the clear intention of seriously injuring anyone who comes between them and a 48” plasma television set (REDUCED BY A WHOPPING 30%!!). Or indeed a pop-up stainless-steel cruet set.

I have discussed this U.S. Black Friday import extensively with my lady wife and the young man with the wire in his ear. Both gazed at our mysteriously larger television receiver and agreed that the heaving, grasping, violent crowds were, in the words of the young man with the wire in his ear, “a bunch of losers”. Indeed, a substantial young woman interviewed fleetingly outside our local Debenham’s store whilst clutching one half of a paisley-patterned armchair, “Well, its not what I come in for, but maybe I’ll get the other half next year.“

Of course, all of this set me thinking. These people are indeed “losers”. But what have they lost? Pride, decency, politeness, humility? I know not. Perhaps their behaviour is inherited. Is it in our genes? Does it hark back to our primitive days when the strongest and meanest got the best bits of the brontosaurus? Is winning more important than the prize?

One thing is certain. The theme for next Sunday’s sermon has chosen itself and I will deliver it from a rather splendid stainless steel and smoked glass lectern I seem lately to have acquired.

Pip, pip,


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Difficult to Grow. Herein devised by A Grubb, under the auspices of Delinquency and Dereliction Co Ltd

This X - rated carrot shows a rare classical theme, that of the double herm, or herma. The term is normally associated with stone sculpture of the Gods, circa 1st century, such as the image below, a single-faced 'herm', or the more unusual back to back, 'double herma'. This 'carrot' variation defines one encapsulation of 'gender' with a late 20th century gentle rebuke to post - feminine aesthetics. In particular the unashamed portrayal of the 'organ grinder and his muse', into the variation 'grinder and the muse's organ'.

Suffice it to say that the colour offers a further reference to a conflict, this time of religious proportions. A conflict moreover associated with the beastliness of King William of Orange - a monarch forever given saintlike status (thus furthering the classical tradition) under the all too familiar Irish brogue 'Willy'.

Normally such a rare example would be entered into the Annual Allotment show under the 'Unusual Shaped Vegetable with Caption' category. In this case, it being felt it would be unfair to take all first prizes in this category, it is, instead, being afforded pride of place on the noticeboard in the Witness Service volunteer's room at Birmingham Crown Court.

Such a position among the numerous printed notices about 'The correct procedures when taking witnesses  into video rooms', 'Christmas lunch signing up form', and 'How to address a judge if encountered in a public toilet', is anticipated to offer the subtlety of a brick (and the colour thereof) with the rigour of the genius of everyday life, as visible day - in, day - out in any Court of Law.

Already there have been a number of requested visits by barristers, security and court staff, and even one from His Lordship (although he seemed preoccupied with a different sort of carat) to view this most unusual and significant contribution to the 'weight of the law'. There are plans to apply for Arts Council funding so that an exhibition, with this item as its centrepiece, could travel to the main Category A prisons throughout the UK as part of a series of extra mural courses given the draft title 'Killers in Ancient Rome' for selected inmates. However these plans are in their infancy at time of writing.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

In Your Garden

Our gardening expert writes:

Well, hello there. Yes, it's me again. I expect you thought I was lying dormant for the winter, gathering strength to re-appear with the first warmth of spring. But, no - for the active gardener these last few months of the year can be busier than any.

First up, there's the Big Clean to be tackled. You'll not be wanting any sign of greenness on your hard surfaces or harmful species to be overwintering and proliferating in the crevices. Damp moss and algal slime can be the cause of killer injuries on a smooth patio. So, unless you wish to place on every flagstone one of those annoying plastic yellow bollards (Slippery Surface) they have round grapes in supermarkets, now is the time to be out there with the power jets, hosing away trouble. Over the years I've developed in my garden a system of strategically placed fire hydrants, along with angled water cannon, which clears all areas of potential growth, especially when deployed with a proprietary cleansing fluid and fungicide. For best results, go for maximum power on the water, though the first time I tried this, it failed to amuse a postman rounding the corner and further adjustments caused me then to dislodge several bricks of the conservatory and a two-metre section of kitchen wall.

Once properly cleaned and cleared, your garden will be ready for winter duties, beginning with the regular detonation of fireworks to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night and to brighten up the darkening skies from August to December. Long before the last rocket has fizzled out and landed on the neighbour, it will be time to organise the outside space for a festive show of winter lights. When designing such a spectacle, it's important always to stay true to the Christmas message. And be original - which is why my design this year is all to do with shopping and penguins.

So, Season's Greetings to garden-lovers everywhere -
or, as I prefer to put it each year,
Hoe, hoe!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Pangolin Obituaries

The death has been announced of the composer, poet and eccentric Sir Hugh Gaspard-Trench. Known in the popular press as 'That Berk in the Cupboard', Gaspard-Trench did in fact spend most of his long working life in the airing cupboard of his home in Glossop, emerging occasionally for poetry readings.

The controversy caused by his epic work 'Couldn't Kick a Barn Door', in the late 20th century criticising, as it did, England's failure to beat Germany in a penalty shootout still reverberates throughout FIFA headquarters.

Sir Hugh was 128 and is survived by two daughters, Maude and Valderma, both of whom are, in the words of Sir Melvyn Bragg "As mad as a box of frogs".

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Walt Disney by Andre Lozenge, Pangolin’s Film Correspondent.

The Ed gives me some naff things to write about. I have much more important issues to address, like why do they insist on putting buttons on jeans when we’ve got zips, or why slugs crawl UP my garage wall every night? But I know he wouldn’t publish my findings on these and other important questions so I’ll discuss Walt Disney instead.

Never met him. Always seems fairly happy in pics I’ve seen and did start what is now all over us like a rash. Pixar is it called? Traditional tales given a flawless “you’d swear it was real” finish. You can see where this is going can’t you? I didn’t like “Avatar” either.

But I DID like pre-war Donald Duck – grumpy, sly, and long suffering. Funny and fallible. And I liked the animation methods he lived through, as did Mickey, Minnie and Horace Horsecollar, although I wasn’t really that keen on Mickey. He was a bit prissy and holier than thou. A bit like Frodo Baggins in the LotR film trilogy. And the book.

I suppose as soon as the computer stuck its beeping nose into animation, things started to achieve levels of perfection which are, for me, a tad boring. I did like “Up” – was that Disney? No matter, I liked it, but as much for the voices as the pictures. And I loved that French guy’s film about the cyclist – Something Rendezvous – so I’m not AGAINST computer created animation. But Disney’s always seem a bit too shiny, a bit too perfect, a bit, well a bit like Disneyworld, and who with half an ounce of healthy cynicism could spend more than five minutes in there before going completely nuts?

I have a true story about Disneyworld. It includes coarse language, so I’ll tell it. Years ago, some friends took their kids to Orlando where Mickey lives. Late in the visit they headed for one of the photocall spots dotted around the complex, where the kids can have their picture taken with Mickey using a free disposable camera. As they approached, they could hear raised voices. An argument even. In Disneyland? Surely not. A Scouse family were taking Mickey to task about which child had been first in the photo queue. Scouse Dad was pushing his tough-looking kid forward whilst Mickey was favouring a pretty little blonde pigtailed short type, saying, “Oh no – I think this little lady was first”. “My lad was ferst” shouted Scousedad. Mickey maneuvered the little girl and went into Mickeypose with her whilst her father, a very large US gent, prepared to take the pic. "Ey, ous!” shouted Scousedad to Mickey, “If dats der way it is, yer can ‘ave dis (brandishes camera) and shove it up yer arse!” Exit Team Merseyside.

“Oh dearrrr” mumbled Mickey. “OH DEAR”?? Any self respecting red blooded all-American mascot would have knocked the tar out of the interfering Scouse git, but typical of Disney’s mind-numbing niceness, all Mickey could manage was, “Oh dear”. Foghorn Leghorn would’ve hospitalized the disrespectful Brit. What Popeye might have done doesn’t bear thinking about.
So there you go – one massively influential creative corporation condemned out of hand. Why? Too much sugar, WAY too much sugar.Way too nice. 

I blame Bambi.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Thought for the Day, from Justin Webly, more or less Arch of Cant


Justin here. And as Mother Nature turns her leaf-garlanded head towards the Autumnal changes wrought by God’s almighty hand, our thoughts dwell on another year slowly approaching its end on Time’s interminable railway line.
What has this year meant to me? Have I used it well?

I suppose I can draw some satisfaction from the fact that a certain moneylending company has recently had its greedy wings clipped without my having to take up the young man with the wire in his ear’s offer to “go put the frighteners on ‘em"
In other areas I have been less successful. One in particular causes me sadness. I speak of the cruel cross-party jibes at young Mr Ed. Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition. I have met him on several occasions and whilst I would prefer him to be a practising Christian, have always found him to be polite, informed and friendly. In fact I have on more than one occasion chastised the young man with the wire in his ear for calling Mr Miliband  “Wallace”. Not being a follower of animated cartoons, I thought he was referring to the divorced wife of a long - abdicated King.
Nevertheless, jokes about Mr Miliband’s physical imperfections really must stop. Not only are they hurtful, but can affect the rest of one’s life. Why, I remember one such unfortunate from my prep school days; poor old Odd-lug Theobald who had one normal flat ear and another which stuck out at right-angles. He really suffered at the hands of cruel children, especially in cold weather when the offending appendage was flicked by every passing pupil. Eventually, upon gaining adulthood, Theobald went to live in the Arctic with a group of Inuit so that he could wear a hood at all times.
But Mr Miliband has nowhere to hide in the ruthless world of party politics. Like Michael Foot before him, he must grin and bear it. What would Jesus have done, I wonder? I do not know, but I think that Our Lord might well note that many of the reprehensible comments about Mr Miliband come from our classically handsome, dentally perfect and beautifully voiced Prime Minister. Whilst the Mayor of London has cast aspersions too, these really don’t count and belong in the pot calling the kettle drawer. But Mr Cameron, safe in the knowledge that he is the best-looking Prime Minister in political history really should know better.

Pip, pip,


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Pangolin Guide to Feet by Prof. P J Whimbrel

I am often asked about the origins of my name. Research suggests that it stems from the early 13th century Glossop whimbrel farms which failed to flourish near the town of my birth.

But I digress and must press on with an outline of the main thrusts of my latest piece of scientific enquiry into certain items most of us possess, despite those items often lacking the balletic and delicate grace of the whimbrel’s. I refer of course to feet. I have been asked by The Pangolin editor to present a brief Users’ Guide to Feet.
  1. Feet tend to occur at the end of the legs [those things which hang down from one’s bottom], unless one or more have been lost due to accident or carelessness. It is rare for humans to have more than two feet.
  2. Foot possession is often taken for granted. Foot care does not rank highly in many owners’ priorities. For example, in normal social intercourse, many feet are placed in mouths. Others are used by highly paid alleged athletes to kick balls around large fields, whilst many drivers abuse their right foot by exerting undue pressure upon the accelerator pedal.
  3. Addressing foot issues is complex. Some owners have smelly feet, a condition which is embarrassing and potentially dangerous. Research shows that on more than one occasion since records began, the complex odours emanating from smelly feet are in fact volatile, and have caused explosions in closed environments such as conference rooms. A traditional remedy has for the owners always been to sit in conference with smelly feet, or foot, poking out of the window, though this solution can make for chilly conference conditions, and alarm for passers-by. Recent tests have shown that smelly feet respond well to a brisk scrubbing with industrial strength bleach before donning a pair of PooBegone sealable, reinforced canvas socks (readily available from Amazon).
  4. Footwear. This is an extremely contentious and expensive area dominated by ruthless designers like the conveniently named Jimmy Choo. Mr Choo’s products are undoubtedly beautiful works of art, but have as much to do with the human foot as a Ming vase. But Mr Choo doesn’t care. As long as people [often women] feel the need to totter about on/in his creations, he doesn’t care.
Our carefully monitored experiments have shown that flat sandals, as worn by Jesus, are by far the most comfortable footwear. Worn with heavy woolen socks, they mark out the wearer as a rather boring person, but a COMFORTABLE boring person nonetheless. Napoleon Bonapart, Jack the Ripper and Ursula Andress were all of the sock ‘n’ sandal persuasion in private, and no-one would call them boring.

For more information, please contact Pangolin Science at the usual address.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Pangolin News Flash

A book-signing at Waterstones in Glossop caused a stir when the real writer of the best-selling cookery book, 'How to turn Chicken McNuggets back into Food', arrived at the famed emporium.

For the true author, far from being celebrity chef Suzanne Anklestrapps - as claimed by the publisher - is the ghost of local pig farmer, Josiah Pring (1932 - 2012).

"We had this before, with the book signing of Gertie Balloons' 'Can't Twerk, Won't Twerk'," admitted store manager Willy Stibbs. "These ghosts are all fine and co-operative-like, but being of non-corporeal form they struggle to hold the pens so necessarily for successful signing."

"We get round this by means of table-rapping and ouija boards, but there have been one or two complaints from patrons of the café when their americanas and cappuccinos took off".

Cassius Pugnatius Seagull

As the winds of Autumn blow away the crumbs and pavement pizzas of Summer, a gull has to act fast.

Bezza and me have found an ingenious way of harvesting fish, which though it requires more effort and planning, yields mega-results...

This is best practised on a warm day, and you need to spot some tourist-type eating out on the sea front. Kassa's is good, but there are others. Grab a bit of something that looks like fish food (tourists are best because of being unprepared and too shocked to resist. Also they try to eat more), and, grasping same firmly in bill, hover over the ocean's surface until you spot a shoal of fish cheerfully surfing the element. Drop fish food. They'll come and get it, whereupon...YOU SWOOP!!!

By now you will have perfected your swoop by means of practice on tourists (see above), and you can drop your catch in the courtyard garden of those handy little basement flats along the A259 before heading back for more. When you've had enough of this, and fancy a bit of sport, see if you can drop a still-wriggling fish onto the windscreen of a moving car. They slow down as they approach the speed camera and you can normally get 'em there.

Oh, how we larfffed...!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Ask Lady Violet

Dear Lady Violet

I recently took all my socks, including the red stripy one, to the launderette. They completed their wash cycle, I applied them to the dryer, they tumbled around in a friendly sort of a fashion and I retrieved them once they were properly dehydrated. Nothing remarkable in that, you might think.

However, once I'd piled them all into my shopping basket on wheels and taken them home, I observed that the red stripy one was no longer with them. Its likely location was the dryer, so I returned to the launderette. The dryer I had used was now inhabited by the washing of another customer, one who had vacated the premises leaving their laundry to fend for itself, but in amongst the tumbling apparel I could clearly perceive my sock as it completed its circular journey.

Without further ado, I opened the door, pulled out the other drying apparel and retrieved my hosiery specimen. Unfortunately, I noticed that the clothing pulled out was of an erotic nature - and its rightful owner returned to the launderette at precisely that moment. In brief (as it were), the police were called and I was required to account for myself. I was also asked some embarrassing and frankly offensive questions about the recent disappearance of a canvas liberty bodice from the washing line at No.43.

It was in vain that I protested that a one-legged traffic warden would have little use for crotchless tights. Now, wherever I go, I can sense people laughing at me. Cats and dogs in the street laugh at me. I even spotted the geraniums in the municipal flower bed having a little chortle.

What can I do to restore my standing in the community?


Jereboam Mince (78)

Lady V:

Oh my poor man. How perfectly dreadful for you! I have consulted widely about your case, especially as to the nature of a launderette. You can imagine my surprise to find that they are not the kind of four-in-hand carriage my own dear father drove in those far off days at Goosings.

But more importantly, my psychiatric contacts all agree that even given the initial disappearance of your sock, you are in fact, stark staring mad and represent a not inconsiderable danger to yourself and society at large. With this in mind, I have alerted the authorities and soon you will be carted off to a place where community singing is compulsory.

I am, 

Yours ever etc etc.

Dear Lady Violet,

I should like to hear your advice on a delicate matter. How can I insure my car against the ravages of seagulls, especially but not confined to the effect of their droppings on paintwork? Can you recommend a policy with an excess of less than £4,500? (My car's not worth that much).

Thanking you in anticipation,

Floridia Beach-Ball

Lady V:

My Dear Floridia,

Insurance companies dealing with your sort of problem appear few and far between. However, I am advised by my local mechanic, Mr Gerald Wrench - he looks after my Hispano-Suiza, Rolls, Maserati, and Bentley - that the only way of combating seagull onslaught is by collecting twigs and bits of undergrowth and cementing same to the roof of your vehicle in the form of a large birds' nest. As Mr Wrench so wryly observes, "Gulls woan't go shittin' in thir oan frunt room." Gerald is somewhat provincial.

Best wishes, etc etc

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Thought for the Day, with Justin Webly, more or less Arch of Cant

Hullo, Justin here,
By odd co-incidence – aren’t ALL coincidences odd? – I have been asked by those strange but harmless people at The Pangolin, which tolerates my thoughts from time to time, to recommend one or two books, not necessarily as “improving” reading but to be transports of delight where the written word might give us momentary escape from the world’s manifest troubles. But also, coincidentally, my lady wife has asked me to join her Ladies Reading Group. But more of that later.

My first book, “Gunfight at Comanche Bluff” by Zeke Hanrahan traces the colourful career of Django Butterworth a.k.a. “The Cactus Kid”*. This is a tale of derring-do certainly, but it also points out the ultimate futility of racial conflict. Butterworth, part Irish and part something else vies for the favours of Gloria McGillycuddy, cattle baroness and beauty. 

Unconventionally for the time, Gloria is also courted by the powerful Comanche chieftain, He-Who-Can-Pee-Furthest.This is indeed a powerful story which seeks to show that under the skin, we are all the same. (Purple Sage Publishing, £7.99).

In complete contrast, my second offering is non-fiction. My predecessor, Dr. Rowan Williams has put together what must be a truly definitive volume. Beautifully illustrated and written with the spiritual fervour which so defines Dr Williams, “Eyebrows of the World” is an astounding work. Long, at 2065pp, it deals with eyebrow care, eyebrow toupees, and the social stigma endured by those born with five or more eyebrows. Certainly not one for flimsy coffee tables (Hirsute Publications £104.99p).

Of course, I did attend my lady wife’s reading group (every Wednesday, 2.30pm in that little room off the Chapel vestry that nobody quite knows what to do with). As I approached, clutching the group’s chosen book, “Oh God, Do it Again!”, which I confess I hadn’t read but assumed to be a collection of personal accounts documenting experiences of Divine Interventions, I was surprised to hear somewhat raucous singing. Pushing open the door, I was further taken aback to see, in company with several rather tweedy ladies, the young man with the wire in his ear. “Archie!”, he shouted. “Take a pew. Grab a glass!” There followed one rather garbled version of “Roll Me Over in the Clover” and the beginning of something called “Eskimo Nell”. What would Jesus have done ? I made my excuses and left.



*It is worth noting that this nickname came about after a close encounter with desert plants. Butterworth always rode side-saddle.

Friday, 17 October 2014

On This Day...

Twenty Years Ago

A compact but loyal audience gathered in London's Theatre Downstairs for the final performance of Addison Voles in his one-man show And Then I Died (last appearance, that was, before embarking on a farewell tour of the UK, culminating in a West End grand finale two years on). Written, produced and performed in emphatic style by the veteran actor, the show featured every known death scene from English theatre, the last hour given over entirely to Shakespeare. A tour de force for costume and make-up, the production owed much also to the skills of two unnamed assistants who carried out more than 200 quick changes of scenery, only three of them not right for what followed. The show carried sponsorship from a well-known brand of tissue manufacturers, whose products were on sale alongside ice-creams at each of the four main intervals.

Thirty Years Ago

An out-of-court settlement was reached between Mastodon UK, manufacturers of high-powered, wall-mounted kitchen gadgets, including The Titan (eezi-turn key-spinner for cans of corned beef), and Mrs Hilda Nubbles of Much Thodding in Essex. Mastodon agreed to pay all costs necessary for re-instating the 12 ft section of kitchen wall that had rotated and then dropped out when Mrs Nubbles, following the instructions supplied, made use of her newly installed Titan. However, it was agreed that Mastodon were not liable for the cost of a new tin of corned beef, as the one in question had not been punctured and its contents remained edible 'insofar as they ever had been'.

Forty Years Ago

Parish Council members of Cockfield Parva in Suffolk were still awaiting a response from the Soviet ambassador, following the recent declaration of a nuclear-free zone around their village and the neighbouring settlement of Gruntisfold Green (but not including Cockfield Magna). They were waiting to hear back also from the US ambassador in London, but had received a postcard from the Base Commander of nearby USAF Droppingham. This bore the words 'ha' and 'ha'. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

Thought for the Day, with Justin Webly, more or less Arch of Cant

Hullo, Justin here,
Yes, I’ve seen them too, those ever-earlier references on television and in the press to Christmas. To be honest, my heart sinks when I think of the commercial traditions we all seem heir to. At the last count, I had nine electric shavers. I am not especially hirsute. My lady wife has at least 47 scarves. 
This year I am determined to celebrate the birth of Christ with the things which really matter, although even these can be fraught with difficulty. Last year’s well-intentioned Christmas Soup Kitchen, manned (and womaned) by my lady wife, myself and the young man with the wire in his ear began well enough with a sizeable queue of people far less fortunate than you or I. Sadly, some were intoxicated. Several began cavorting in the road, singing questionable versions of well-known carols, like, I am ashamed to say, “Fart the Herald Angels”. Obviously, this attracted the attention of the Police, but before they could restore some sort of order, the young man with the wire in his ear vaulted the Soup Kitchen counter and set about the noisiest, most offensive culprits using what I can only imagine is his Special Training. He had incapacitated at least half a dozen when one spotted the young man’s side arm. “Ere!” shouted the drunken reveller, “E’s filth AND ‘e’s tooled up!”
What can only be described as panic set in with those less fortunate than you or I making off hither and yon clutching hunks of brown bread and paper cups full of a rather nice vegetable soup. The local Police were very understanding, all things considered, but we were left with at least three gallons of rather nice vegetable soup.
But as ever in this household, it was onward and upward and the local children's Nativity Play loomed. How or why life’s little upsets happen, I know not, but after a near-perfect start, fighting broke out between Joseph and at least three sheep, resulting in the collapse of the set and the Baby Jesus being propelled into the front row of the audience. Naturally, anxious parents sought to rescue their little ones. They were assisted in this regard by a visiting Ambulance crew and, embarrassingly, several of the Police officers who had witnessed the Soup Kitchen debacle.

I remember seeing, whilst escorting my hysterical lady wife back to our apartment, the Baby Jesus upside down on a hastily vacated chair. I scooped him up and took him home, where, upon the removal of his swaddling clothes, he turned out to be a plastic astronaut. Food for thought. Was/is God an astronaut? We shall never know. What I do know is that we must learn from our mistakes once we work out what they were.

Pip pip!


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Pangolin Classifieds

Desperately seeking Nelson's nose, missing piece in Heritage Jigsaw (series 7), 50,000-piece (currently 49,999-piece) edition. Urgently needed. PO Box 14, Lamorna Cove, Cornwall.

Ava Gardner lookalike: our eyes met on the Northern line out of Waterloo, 5.49 pm, 6th Nov 1956. I had a new umbrella and glasses steamed up in the crush. We need to talk.
Box 549, Leamington Spa.

Coal-fired 12" lawnmower, furnace door and stove-pipe chimney need some repair. Offers. Fogarty, Stoke Poges.

New home wanted for lifetime collection of used scourer pads (missing years 1947, 1963). Must be kept together. Clackett, Stoke Farthing.

Wanted: pre-war pipe-cleaners. Also ferret thongs. Tussocks, Stoke D'Abernon.

Book now: Uncle Des, clown, entertainer, children's parties, balloons. Available on day release in 4 months' time.

For sale: Napoleon's nose, Heritage Jigsaw piece. Buyer collects. McCuddy, Mainland, Orkney Islands.

Flood damage sale of stamp hinges. For further information sae to Box 105, Aberglochsoggin, Wales.

Trace your Ancestry. Reveal your Royal Lineage. Registered expert, formerly Garter Poursuivant in the College of Ordinaries, able to trace all lines back to Thangwin the Fecund, King of Mercia. Box 19c, Wolverhampton.

Pet Portraits. Your pet immortalised in oils. Stick insects a speciality. Joshua Raynolds, The Studio, Stationside, Croydon.

Need a new life? Want to break into publishing? Swap with me. Anything considered. Contact Editor of Small Ads, Pangolin Villas.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Pangolin News Flash! Terrorists threaten to publish nude photos of...

...none other than Eric Pickles!

There has been a recent spate of celebrity nude photo hacks - memorably called 'Celebgate' and the 'Fappening' - as youthful indiscretions of nubile people are waved around the web now they're famous - at least to viewers of pop videos.

However, this has taken a new and sinister turn, as photos were taken without the knowledge of the Communities Secretary as he basked on the beach with the other elephant seals in Tenerife. David Cameron et al were horrified to learn that these grotesque images were going to sully the otherwise pure waters of the web, especially given the current war on obesity.

'It took a while to find the @$$holes behind this conspiracy,' conceded a government spokesman. 'Turns out it's the EDL. They'd originally read 'Communities' as 'Communists' and are too thick to realise the difference. Their photographer is now in hiding with PTSD though, so it's not all bad news.'

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pangolin Letter to the Editor (written in green ink)

Dear Mr Wuss,
I have seen your alarmingly unhinged and sinister Pangolin Blog creation on several occasions. It has been brought to my attention by my unhinged, sinister, idle and admittedly left-wing nephew who appears determined to have me laugh at it. Obviously, I cannot do this because your blog pokes fun at people like myself who have a natural sense of social responsibility.
It is with that in mind that I must register my amazement that your organ which, according to my nephew, is viewed by millions of people worldwide every day, makes no mention of the rising tide of insurrection flowing menacingly from the Middle East. I am a retired military man. I have seen this sort of thing before. My forebears were also military men. Even my wife is a retired military man.
There was a time when uprisings were crushed simply by sending a gunboat up an appropriate river. Foreign Johnnies soon threw down their flintlocks when they saw his or her Britannic Majesty’s ensign fluttering above the dunes. Often, the skirl of the pipes and the swing of the kilt spread fear and alarm in strange places of which we know little.
So as an ex-military man and, I might add, Captain of Throbe Magna Golf Club, I urge you to use your blog to pressure our limp-wristed government into finding what few gunboats remain and to direct them forthwith up the Foreign Johnnie’s waterways.

I am,

Yours sincerely,

Major (retd) Randolph Gonad-Heaver, M.C.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Thought for the Day, with Justin Webly, more or less Arch of Cant

Justin here. Or rather, perhaps I should say “Och Aye, McWebly here!” on this, the eve of the Scots referendum vote. But I jest. By the time you scan these few words dear reader, a huge decision will have been taken.
Of course, my stance on these matters is difficult. My office extends to the whole of the still United Kingdom. In the event of Scotland gaining independence, the Scots would have to create their own Archbishop. Of what ? Largs, Dalkieth, Glasgow, Lerwick, Cromarty, Loch Ness?
I have resisted the temptation to offer my own personal opinion on this matter until now because I have to be all things to all men. And ladies. However, I feel honour bound now to speak my mind. I am sick to the back teeth of the independence craze, and the self-styled leaders of so many wrong – headed Scots. As you might imagine, I have little so-called spare time and my viewing of television programmes is limited. I quite like Antiques Roadshow and Midsomer Murders, but lately, wherever I point the blipper, the deeply irritating Mr Salmond pops up, being extraodinarily rude about anybody who disagrees with him. He was horrid to the mild-mannered Mr Darling and has shown no respect for  Her Majesty the Queen. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in the event of Scotland becoming a separate country we non-Scots must expect a fairly bleak welcome in the hillsides. Oh no. That’s Wales. But you get my drift, as the young man with the wire in his ear would say.
Whilst it's true that centuries ago we English were pretty beastly to the Scots, we have been very nice to them in the interim with our rugby players going easy in matches so that the Scots didn’t lose too badly, and allowing them to look after our nuclear submarines. An independent Scotland really will have to look to its defences. Scots paratroops leaping from planes should be shown the results of doing so whilst wearing a kilt. The updraft can be fatal.
Nevertheless, I note that my lady wife, always on David’s side against Goliath, has bought in an impressive array of health-giving drinks and chilled egg mayonnaise sandwiches to sustain herself during the (doubtless) blanket coverage of the vote. She and the young man with the wire in his ear have taken to wandering about the place whistling or humming “Scotland the Brave” and “Bonnie Annie Laurie”. And so, as I type, dear reader, I feel somewhat besieged. I also wonder that if, as the pollsters tell us, the Nos and the Yesses are too close to call, the Yesses win by a tiny majority, will there be civil war in the world’s newest country? What would Jesus have done, I ask myself....

McPip Mcpip,


Thursday, 18 September 2014

The War on Obesity; A Scientist Speaks

The Pangolin’s Resident Scientific Adviser Dr P J Whimbrel:

Good Morning. Or Evening. Depending on where you are. In Glossop and certain parts of Birkenhead, its yesterday. Time’s a bugger isn’t it? No matter. I have been asked to say something about recent recommendations made by a Mr Andrew Burnham, MP, Shadow Health Secretary, about the food we eat and the road to obesity. I strongly suspect that Mr Burnham (5 stone 6 wet through) is not unlike my cousin, the celebrated gong soloist Pip Whimbrel who eats huge amounts, especially of raw suet, but never gains any weight. Dear Pip’s been 19 stone since he was three. You see, its all to do with something called metabolism. Or Mr Burnham’s got worms.


It may be apposite at this point to draw your attention to some very interesting research I have been conducting into the relationship between humour and weight. We took two cartoons labelled ONE and TWO (TWO referring to the second one).

We showed these cartoons to a randomly selected group of people brought together by my colleague Prof Anna Prongg who hung a sign saying “BIG HANDFULS OF FREE MONEY IN HERE” outside Pangolin’s research HQ.

The results are interesting. All the fat mouthbreathers thought cartoon ONE was hilarious. Some collapsed in blobby heaps, weeping with laughter whilst others applauded and shouted, “****ing hell! That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen since the one with the bloke and the banana skin!”. The same group were perplexed by cartoon TWO. Some tried to eat it. Others shouted, “Where’s the money, then?” But not one cracked a smile.

Conversely, the thin, rail-like members of our randomly selected group, some sporting tattoos saying “Bilderberg! Find! Kill!” dismissed cartoon ONE out of hand with shouts of, “Shameful working class parody!” and, “Ooh – er Missus, domestic violence is a crime!”

Upon being shown cartoon TWO, however, thin group members all nodded knowingly. Prof. Prongg noted at least three faint, sardonic smiles and several remarks including “Cool” ,“Wicked and, “Zebulon? What sort of a ****ing name is Zebulon?”

Sadly, at this point security had to be called as it turned out that one of the fatties was called Zebulon McHeftie.

Nevertheless, this unfortunately truncated piece of research does strongly suggest that if you like seaside postcard humour (cartoon ONE), you’re a fattie. If, on the other hand, you prefer cartoon TWO, you’re a pretentious conspiracy theorist and poor company to boot.

Thank you.

And next week, my distinguished colleague, the very lovely Prof.Anna Prongg, will tell us where all the money went.

Monday, 15 September 2014

In Your Garden

Our gardening expert writes:

I've been brought up to believe that statuary can bring a touch of class to any garden. Classical nudes are usually the best (providing they have all the right bits in the right places) and can be handy for hanging your jerkin on if things get hot while busying yourself in the undergrowth. I've got Aphrodite round the back, clutching a conch shell (which is where I keep the Slug Death). Artemis, in another corner, has a prominent right nipple on to which Mrs Dibstick hangs her bag of clothes pegs.

They're a funny lot, Greek gods and goddesses. If you're thinking of having one in to your garden, it may be worth spending just a few moments looking up details and background to see what you are getting, before you install in the shrubbery. Dionysus (or Bacchus to the Romans) was god of wine, parties, chaos, drunkenness, drugs and ecstasy, which makes him an ever popular choice for the patio. But he was also the god of wild vegetation, meaning that may not be such a wise addition to the Cotswold flagstones after all. Apollo, with his long hair and ideal physique, was, among other things, god of manly beauty. On the head of our Apollo, out the front, is where I often place my gardening cap and, I have to say, the resemblance is remarkable. But he was also god of plague.

Not everyone is interested in what happened long ago, of course, regarding it all as old hat. If that kind of person is you, then take another look at some of the latest things now available from the catalogues of garden ornaments. Statues that move! It's marvellous what they get up to these days thanks to solar power: winking cherubs, Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, flexing her come-hither finger, young Ganymede getting rather excited. It's a lovely way to transform a quiet corner and to set the neighbours talking.

Next month: easy ways to keep your garden lit to daylight levels throughout the hours of darkness, such as every responsible homeowner would wish to do.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Schoolgirl, aged ten, successfully defends against cyber-attack!

Ten-year-old schoolgirl, Maisie Tonkers, has discovered that if you spray a noxious mixture of liquid manure and washing up liquid from a Skweezy bottle, it is an effective deterrent against a cyber attack!

Any invading cybermen are instantly shrunk to the size of a Barbie doll, where they can simply be disposed of by means of a car boot sale, or eBay.
This specimen, Ashley Gronk - aged 27 in our earth-years - describes his experience.

"Well there was I, attempting world domination as is my wont on a Sunday afternoon - when all of a sudden there's this daft bint waving around a secret weapon and swearing.

I've never heard language like it. My Auntie Lucy would have been dead shocked, I tell you.

Then my world got suddenly and terrifyingly bigger. I just need to get out of this place. It's giving me warts and they'll be expecting me back for tea back home."

If you think you can help Ashley get back to Earth's twin planet, Mondas, please get in touch.