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!