Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Cassius Pugnatius Seagull

Plenty of rain, plenty of fish, plenty of opportunities for squeezing one out on Marina buildings freshly painted while the sun shines... down came the rain, and you start your squeezing all over again.

Breeding season's over for now, so I've had to look for further diversions and those human beans never disappoint. You get such a good reaction if you just hover gently over them, following them wherever they go. They may try and bamboozle you by going into one of the bogs, in which case you continue your gently sentimental hovering and resume when they reappear.

Cheers 'em up no end!

It has come to my attention that some of my smartass colleagues - to wit, Denzil and Gertie from No. 62, and Shitface from West Hill, have come across a jolly good wheeze to trap fish. It goes like this:

Hang around burger bar on the sea front.
Nick a burger from an unsuspecting tourist. 
Drop it in shallow waters.
Watch fish gather to eat it.
Catch biggest one, land on someone's car and beat fish to death for ten minutes.

Now, there's no denying that this is an engaging, productive way of utilising one's time, but I had this strangely persistent feeling that the approach had more POTENTIAL. I therefore modified it as follows:

Enter into bar on sea front.
Nick dish from counter, the one containing tips, and fly off.
Spot outdoor restaurant with best looking grub.
Drop dish of coins a few yards away from table.
Watch people gather round it.
Nick temporarily abandoned meals whilst they admire coins.
Having a quick 'blip' is optional, though you may hit six targets with only one drop using this method.

Hope you all had a great Bank Holiday weekend!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Ask Lady Violet

Dear Lady Violet,

I keep trying to discuss things with my husband, but to no avail. He just won't listen. I mean, I do try to vary my subject matter - from 'How on earth are we going to pay the mortgage on this 18th century minor stately home this month?' to 'Would you prefer leather or rubber for our "fun" outfits tonight?'

You'd think something would grab his attention, wouldn't you? But he just doesn't seem to be listening. I get no response from him at all.

My neighbours think that a private ouija board might be more effective than holding séances. Do you think the fact that he passed away fifteen years ago may have some bearing on the matter?

Yours affectionately,

Meredith Bamboo, OBE 

Lady V:

My Dear Mrs Bamboo,
I see you play the oboe. This could well be the root of your problem. Its a long accepted fact that the sound of that instrument drives the spirits of our loved ones from our hearths. Indeed, the Bishop of Glossop, the Right Reverend Alvin Stubby, a time-served spiritualist nutter if ever there was one, goes so far as to claim that the very appearance of the oboe is anathema to our dear departed.
So my advice to you is to get real and stop farting about with the Great Hereafter, flog the manor house and seek some sort of sheltered housing.

Ever yours,

Lady Vi.

P.S. Ghosts hate trombones too.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Pangolin Obituaries

Decimus Peng Wivenhoe
13th August 1820 - 12th August 2014

A well-known figure in Whitechapel during the 1860's, Decimus was a (once-)living embodiment of the expression: "Two heads are better than one."

This nineteenth-century snapshot shows him transporting "Bingo" - as his spare noggin was affectionately known - in their customary gold-plated wheelbarrow. As time and technology progressed, however, Bingo found himself housed in a succession of vehicles including a perambulator, a Sinclair C5 and a supermarket trolley. The latter was not well received at Fortnum and Mason.

Nor were they welcome at Lyons Corner House in Coventry Street, but this did not prevent them from attending:
Photo © The Tatler, October 1872
Decimus and Bingo met an unfortunate end during a circus skills course in Locksbottom.

It was Bingo who insisted they attempt a tightrope walk whilst he remained in his wheelbarrow.

In Your Garden with Ken Dibstick

Our gardening expert writes:

Now read that again. Yes. In your garden with Ken Dibstick. My original idea for title, when first persuaded to put down trowel for pen, was 'With Ken Dibstick In Your Garden'. After much scratching of wiser heads than mine on the editorial board at Pangolin Villas, I was eventually persuaded to go with the alternative formulation now adopted. No matter. Either way, I am now in receipt of a letter from reader Mr Darren Newt of Gussage St Michael in Dorset, threatening to seek a court order and warrant of arrest for trespass, should I ever be seen to set foot in his garden.

No, Mr Newt, I shall not be entering your garden, not without invitation or works contract, which will come with several pages of legal indemnity certification along with Health & Safety notices. When I say that I am with you in your garden (yours and those of many thousand other readers), that is not a statement to be taken literally. It is a figure of speech or what is known to us in the trade as a literary device. So, stay your hand, Mr Newt, and spare yourself a hefty down-payment to the legal profession in Dorset.

Now on to loftier matters.

Garden centres are jolly places these days, packed out with coffee stops, visitor amenities and every kind of play-space for the children. They make for a grand day out. Be warned, though, that in the intoxicating atmosphere of the well-appointed garden centre, it is so very easy to get carried away with purchases and to end up buying things you may later regret.

I write this mindful of my recent dealings with a reader who contacted me for advice over problem growth outside her window. Mrs M of Scratby had, in the course of visiting a garden centre, acquired several pots from the house-plant section all containing attractive spriglets labelled Dwarf Leylandii.
They flourished on her window-sill and she planted them out. They now form an impenetrable wall around her bungalow, 89 ft tall and growing. Her only means of escape is by tunnel. These were not Dwarf Leylandii, Mrs M, but seedlings of the giant tree.

My advice to you now is to get these grubbed out fast and replace with a neat row of synthetic conifer to a height of your choosing.

Good Gardening!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

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

Justin here.

Some time ago I received a short note from one Professor R Dawkins, requesting a meeting here at the Palace. Intrigued, I asked my secretary Jocasta to make discreet enquiries as to the nature of Prof Dawkins' field of study. Immediately, the ever-present young man with the wire in his ear interjected with, “You want to watch that one, Archie. We’ve got a file on him. Goes about the place telling anybody who’ll listen that there’s no God."
Now, it won’t surprise you to know that in the course of my calling, I’ve met many people who hold such beliefs. Conversely, during my time in Banking, I knew quite a few who believed they WERE God. Consequently, it was an easy decision to take and notes were exchanged to the effect that yesterday, I had the pleasure of making Prof Dawkins' acquaintance. Upon reflection, “pleasure” is not quite the right word.
Things began badly with the young man with the wire in his ear insisting that Prof Dawkins' entourage – film crew, make-up team and four PAs - should not be admitted to my study where I thought it best to receive my visitor. Prof Dawkins' chief PA, a substantial lady called Anthea, of determined visage and wearing a badge saying “God’s an Invention” protested and attempted to barge into my inner sanctum. There was a brief flurry, Anthea being propelled swiftly backwards by the young man with the wire in his ear who waved his mysterious card in the air and shouted, “I says who goes in there, darlin’, OK?”, whilst patting the bulge in his jacket. This was indeed an unfortunate beginning, but eventually more chairs were fetched and Prof Dawkins’ group were settled in the Visitors’ Waiting Room with tea and scones.
My lady wife had insisted on being present during my meeting with the Prof, saying that he was “Quite a looker for a seventy-three year old.” And so eventually Prof Dawkins, my lady wife, the young man with the wire in his ear and I sat in expectant communion. I briefly closed my eyes in prayer, hoping for an amicable coming together of philosophies.

Sadly, this was not to be. “So what was all that about?” asked the Prof, a sarcastic tone to his question. I explained my brief prayer. “Prayer? PRAYER?" said the Prof. “Who to? WHAT to? It's all a load of mumbo-jumbo and you know it. Its all designed to control the masses. Go on, admit it!”

As I collected my thoughts in the face of such unexpected aggression, I noticed the young man with the wire in his ear lean towards the Professor and heard him whisper, “Oi. A bit more respect sunshine, or you’ll be getting a smack. OK?” Professor Dawkins did thereafter modify his tone somewhat and I was touched by the young man with the wire in his ear’s loyal intervention.  And so, I offered my answer, saying that prayer was my way of communicating with God, sometimes quickly as was now the case, or sometimes more slowly, in a period of meditation. At this, the Professor snorted, sat up very straight and said, “Well that’s utter rubbish! Have you any proof that this God you speak of HEARS you?”

At this, I had to place a restraining hand on the arm of the young man with the wire in his ear. But the Professor continued, “God’s a placebo! Don’t you see? God doesn’t really exist. God’s an invention!” At this point, the Professor became extremely agitated and began shouting things about defenestration, flesh, blood, bread, wine and virgin births. Despite the vigilance of the young man with the wire in his ear, the Professor evaded him and bounded about my study, blowing raspberries at crucifixes and shouting, “God’s a delusion!” Within seconds, however, the young man with the wire in his ear calmed the Professor down with a firm choke-hold and dragged him from the room.
My lady wife and I sat transfixed, she with her special herbal tea hardly touched and I with a barely nibbled Ginger Dunk ‘twixt finger and thumb. The stunned silence was broken by my lady wife. “Yes, passably good looking for his age," she said, then rather more sadly, I thought, “But also a complete nutter." We both laughed as the young man with the wire in his ear popped his head round the door. "They’ve gone, Archie. I chucked ‘em out," and I couldn’t help thinking that’s what Jesus would have done.

Pip, pip,


Thursday, 7 August 2014

In Your Garden

Our gardening expert writes:

Me, I've always been a straightforward kind of guy and that's how I am in the garden. None of your fancy whirly-twirly stuff, just straight lines. That's the best way to keep Nature in order and never more so than when it comes to sowing and planting.

I've even invented my own handy little gadget, the Dibstick (just £69.99 incl p&p), for help with such tasks. It's a length of wood basically (treble hinged for easy transport), with distances marked and holes drilled in different sizes at regular intervals through which to drop the seed or seedling of your choice. Never again the nightmare of crooked or unevenly spaced plantings. I write this still with soil on my knees, having just completed a quick insertion of artificial perennials into the front garden and a very neat row it is too.

Another popular item on the market is the Dibstick Deluxe (just £109.99 incl p&p), which comes with pull-out arms that lock into place at right-angles to guarantee the perfect corner. In response to popular demand I am now working on the Super Deluxe version with moveable holes that can be ratcheted into position by an ingenious system of gears.

Of course it takes all types to make an omelette. Gardeners come in every shape and size, often with the craziest of notions. Believe me, in my 47 years on the end of a spade I've seen the lot. There are folks out there who'll think nothing of tearing open a packet of seeds and just scattering these on to the ground. And there are even ones who'll do this with a sachet of 'Wildflower Mix'. Weeds, I ask you!

There's only one good place for a weed and that's under 3 ft of concrete. And, if that fails, you won't catch me napping. I'll be out there hotfoot with the old Flibstick (napalm-fired ex-Swiss Army flamethrower, also available from Dibstick Enterprises, poa).

Good Gardening!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

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

Justin here.  You know, from time to time one does feel the need to rub shoulders on a more day-to-day basis with one’s flock; one’s parishioners so to speak, here in the Great Wen. So often, my meeting with people is overlaid with ceremony and my not inconsiderable duties of office involve riding about in long cars, some sporting (the young man with the wire in his ear tells me) bullet proof glass. Until the arrival at the Palace of the aforementioned protector, with his bulging jacket and strange ear appendage, it was relatively easy for me to evade detection and join the hurly burly of London Life. I could nip out, as ‘twere, down the back stairs and over the orangery wall to exchange cheery “Gor Blimeys” with all and sundry.
Not so these days, I can tell you. It took me nigh on two hours to persuade the young man with the wire in his ear to allow me, in his company, to savour once more the manifold delights of our wonderful city. I determined to take the nearest tube (the young man with the wire in his ear says “Chube”) train, almost incognito wearing only casual slacks, sandals, a cheerful summer shirt, a light jacket, an old straw boater and my dog collar. The young man with the wire in his ear said, colourfully, “Archie, you look like a bleedin’ vicar!” Good enough for me, thought I. It has been quite some time, years in fact, since I have afforded myself such freedom so you might imagine, dear reader, my excitement.
Oh, how soon hopes, both great and small are dashed. The tube station in question seemed now to be almost completely automated. A subterranean cavern of beeps and flashing lights where computerised machines eat your tickets and steel barriers refuse you entry; where bored and glassy-eyed railway employees sigh, tut, and admit you by waving their neck cards at something or other. When once the descent into the depths was exciting, not so now. I was staggered by the seething mass of bad-mannered humanity. No-one said “Excuse me”. No-one said “Thank you.” Disembodied voices informed; “The escalator facility at Euston is not available.” The young man with the wire in his ear explained that at the Gateway to the North, “the stairs is bust.”
When, after two or three stops – actually I can’t recall exactly how many because yet another disembodied voice announcing stations was drowned out by the screeching of the train as it sped through the foetid air – the young man with the wire in his ear bundled me out on to the hopelessly crowded platform, one hand in his jacket and the other in the small of my back, I admit to huge relief.
By this time, all ten toes were seriously bruised, my straw boater had been swept from my head by a large fellow carrying what appeared to be a double bass, and I was longing for fresh air and real God- given daylight. Unannounced, the escalator had joined its brothers at Euston, and so began a long slow climb up stone steps to the surface.
After becoming stuck once again in the exit machinery which ate my ticket and refused to regurgitate – thankfully, the young man with the wire in his ear showed some sort of card to the attendant and we were ushered through a gate marked “No Entry” – we eventually emerged on to the street.
Sadly, I have to report that the awfulness of underground travel was replicated above ground. No cheery “Gor Blimeys!” there, I’m afraid. Just a seething mass of humanity, most of which had wires in its ears. Failing that, every other person was speaking loudly into a mobile telephone, or flickering their thumbs over over unseen keyboards, whilst elbowing and barging their ways to what must have been personal crisis.
Guiltily, I admit that I allowed the young man with the wire in his ear to hail a black cab to take us home. After enquiring whether I had “been in a fight, Grandad?” the driver sped us Palacewards, this after another showing of the young man with the wire in his ear’s mysterious card.
So now I sit, in guilt, wondering how Jesus would have coped, and failing to find the answer. Never again will I eschew a long car with Police outriders.

Pip, pip,