Category Archives: Reflections-Awards

1936. A lovely award, and a story “Chop! Chop the head off!”

Herb of Prudentia Sit has given me the loveliest of awards! It is the Herb Thinks I’m Special Award. The award simply means that Herb “would like to have a cup of coffee with this blogger sometime”.

It does not require any questions to be answered or anything special to be done. It is simply an honor bestowed! Thank you, Herb. It is greatly greatly appreciated. Make sure you visit Herb’s blog. As a blogger he’s long in the tooth! I don’t mean he’s old – I simply mean he’s practised his blogging skills for many a year!

By way of thanks, I dedicate today’s story to Herb. Thanks Herb!

Battleaxe handed her stepson, Douglas, a machete and said “It’s all yours”.

“I’ve put up for long enough with your three pet turkeys,” said Battleaxe. “They make a terrible gobbling noise all the time, they poo everywhere, they eat too much, and worst of all you spend too much time with them when you should be doing extra school work – especially studying the History of Systemic Racism which you’re bad at. Chop off the turkeys’ heads.”

Douglas loved his turkeys. He had found the baby turkeys wandering around in the long grass on their own after their mother had been killed by a farmer’s dog. He took them home and cared for them. He called each one Gobble, Gobble, and Gobble because he couldn’t tell the difference one from the other.

How does a wicked stepmother expect an eight year old boy to chop off the heads of his three pet turkeys when they were his only friends? His father had died suddenly not long after he had rescued the baby turkeys and now he was looked after by his stepmother who was nasty and cruel and had featured in many a story by the Brothers Grimm.

“When you’ve chopped off their heads,” said spitefully foul stepmother Battleaxe, “you can cut up the firewood and sweep the yard. Then come back for more things to do on my list.”

Douglas went out and called the three turkeys. They recognized his voice. They came running. His stepmother appeared on the scene to make sure he did the job properly and didn’t cave in with scruples. Douglas raised the machete.

“One! Two! Three! Chop! Chop the head off!” screamed the wicked stepmother.

So he did.

1925. Three minutes of fame

A true story to celebrate what in New Zealand is officially the first day of Spring (although I personally don’t drink to it until the equinox on the 23rd). The story has nothing to do with Spring as such. It’s to do with the only painting I’ve ever done.

My family were never much into art. As kids we had colouring-in books, but we never painted pictures. Perhaps Mother thought that pencils were less messy than paint. I did have a collection of coloured pencils however. You would get a different shade in the mail every week, and I think I had several hundred pencils all wonderfully cataloged. I don’t recall drawing; just colouring-in.

These days I’m not averse to the occasional surreptitious colouring-in – although I have only eight colours!

Even when I was sent to boarding school (age 13) the options were between Woodwork and Art. My parents chose Woodwork – and quite frankly I was not very good at it.

Years later, when I was in the Seminary studying for the priesthood, quite a few of the students were exceptional artists. I thought I’d try my hand at water colours. I still remember painting this picture. I talked to the lady as she emerged from the canvas. I called it Lady at the market selling potatoes. Apparently I abused water colouring technique, and instead of “laying” colours I rubbed them all together in a mess. Proudly I found an old frame and hung the painting in the book-binding room where I worked – just above the guillotine!

The Seminary was a long established institution in the province. It had the largest private library and the oldest vineyard in the country. Crowds of visitors would come to the cellars to purchase wine, and there on a hill behind the cellars was a large grand building where no visitors came because it was “The Mission Seminary”. It had a mystique. It was a place seen only from a distance, with its palm trees overlooking the city. Once a year the Seminary would have “an open day”. Crowds of people would come for a peek.

“And this,” I said to a visiting lady, “is where we bind and mend the books for the library.” The lady was clearly a snob. She had a plum in her mouth; or was that a silver spoon? Grandly she stood in front of the guillotine gazing at my painting.

“I’ve seen the original of that,” she said. “In The Netherlands.”

1923. My beautiful Bubble

Everyone’s dog is special. And so is mine! Yesterday Bubble died. He was three weeks short of his fourth birthday.

In late February he began to have epileptic seizures. Medication began and was readjusted during the following months. Yesterday morning at 2.30 am he threw a fit. Fortunately he landed from his chair onto the piano, so it woke me up! Over the next ten hours he had forty or so epileptic fits. Medication provided no relief. If you’ve never seen a dog have an epileptic fit, DON’T!

He died around midday. We buried him on the lawn where he loved to sit and watch the world go by!

Below are two pictures. One is of Bubble and his best friend, the cat. The other was taken a few hours before the first of his final series of seizures, sitting at the wide-open front door in the winter sun letting those of us in the house freeze!

1914. Award 23: The Aqueduct Plugger Award

Just when I was beginning to doubt the existence of any sort of Higher Being, The Dumbest Blog Ever nominated me for The Adequate Blogger Award. Thank you Dumbest Blogger – it is indeed a thrill. This exemplary award was created by James of James Proclaims. Thank you, James. James not only has interesting postings but he makes pithy and/or sharp-eyed comments here and there. James thinks that answering the questions of this award is “really just a box ticking exercise”. Well James, get yourself a coffee and make yourself comfortable, because I’m about to tick (check) a few boxes regarding The Dumbest Blogger’s complex queries about the meaning of life.

Yipee!

The Dumbest Blogger’s Stupid Questions:

1. Do you like birds?

I am a bird freak – just chickens and ducks. The ducks will have to wait another time because I want to tell you about my Faverolles. Faverolles are a breed of chicken that have an extra toe on each foot. The males have gallant beards and the females have gorgeous ear muffs. They are the quintessence of what the carol Twelve Days of Christmas sings of on the third day when the gift was “Three French Hens”. Faverolles are French! I don’t have them for eggs or meat. I have them for style.

Incidentally, even one bird is a Faverolles – it still has the S on the end. Isn’t that classy? Sort of like a double small “f” starting a surname. Here is a photo of a couple of French Ladies – they are definitely a class act of ffaverolles.

Below is a photo of my rooster who was once King of the Fowl Yard. He looks vicious, but Faverolles have the loveliest of characters. So if you have little kids and you want a couple of pet chickens, get Faverolles. They are child friendly and won’t attack and claw and peck like other beastly breeds. They are a large breed although apparently there is a bantam variety. I’ve never seen the bantam variety so don’t know if they’re as child-friendly as the larger Faverolles.

This particular rooster teamed up with the dog. Every day together they would patrol the garden. No other member of the poultry establishment was allowed over the fence to scratch about. A stray hen would be chased by dog and rooster back to safer ground. The dog and the rooster were inseparable for about three years. The best of friends!

One day an up-and-coming young rooster challenged this big rooster to a fight. The big rooster came off second best. He was no longer in charge of the harem. Mortified he came into the garden to patrol with the dog, and the dog bit the big rooster’s head off.

2. What is your favourite movie?

My favourite movie is Babette’s Feast. If you haven’t seen it don’t expect an action-packed experience. It’s a couple of hours about a woman cooking dinner.

The lead character in this marvelous 1987 film is Stéphane Audran. (The film got an Oscar – if you think that’s important). It’s a brilliant movie.

I have seen this movie twice which is twice more than I have seen The Lord of the Rings. I have also seen The Dam Busters twice – back in the late 1950s – but it’s not as good as Babette’s Feast. As you can see, I’m not that big on going to the pictures. I’ve made three or four attempts to watch Gone with the Wind, the last time being just the other day after they threatened to ban it. The video began and I awoke from a deep sleep on the sofa three hours later and everyone else had gone to bed.

3. When was the last time you used a pencil?

Gosh! It must be years. These days they have medication.

When I was a kid, before the Internet and before TV, my first cousin Bert Worsnop and me (we were the same age) collected coloured pencils. You registered somewhere, and every now and again you’d get some coloured pencils in the mail. Each was a different shade. I think there was something like 180 different shades in the collection. They were fantastic. Of course they were so precious that we kept them in a cabinet and took them out simply to look at but never use.

4. What would you do for a Klondike bar?

My maternal grandmother’s brother, Uncle Herbert (Charles Herbert Lightoller – the highest in command saved off the Titanic!) joined the gold rush in Canada’s Klondike in his earlier days. No doubt it was hard work, and he unquestionably would have killed for a Klondike Bar to quench his thirst up there in that wilderness.

Charles Herbert Lightoller

To get a modern Klondike bar I would have to buy a ticket to North America because I’m not sure that they have them where I live. My passport died years ago, so no Klondike bar for me unless a Klondike bar gets mailed over. We have Eskimo Pies – although the name has recently been changed I believe to something less systemically racist.

Incidentally, I have a letter (in my possession) from Great Uncle Herbert written to my grandmother in which he says “Imagine Doreen expecting her fifth. It must be something in the weather”. That fifth was me! So I was almost famous (of Titanic fame) even before I was born.

I took my mother to see the Titanic movie and all she said at the end was “All that money and he wasn’t the slightest bit like Uncle Herbert.” (She also insisted – family tradition – that the captain of Titanic was drunk).

5. What is the biggest problem facing the human race at this moment in history?

The artistic world is ruled by rules. Publishes and marketers determine what is good and what is bad. This book won’t sell so it’s bad. AND never start a sentence with an “And”. And you use the passive voice. And… And you should do this. And you should do that. This is the way to paint and write and compose. The artist’s world can’t change the world because it’s hidebound by the world.

Anyone who steps out of the established pattern is a nobody.

It’s like lab technicians claiming to be scientists. They’re not scientists; they’re technicians. They put stuff into beakers according to how they’ve been told.

Einstein played the violin. Newton sat in the apple orchard.

Bring back creative people and stop telling everyone how things should be done! Yeah – the bees are in my bonnet.

Newton, Beethoven, Einstein
If you want to employ a genius you have to put up with the hair

6. If James has 42 pieces of chocolate, and Joe has 37 pieces of chocolate, and both James and Joe give 3 pieces of chocolate to Susan, then what is the moral significance of James having 42 pieces of chocolate to begin with?

Clearly Susan had secretly given James the 42 pieces of chocolate in the first place for “favours received” – possibly one on each occasion. Bad luck, Joe. I doubt whether this snippet of unethical behaviour could be classed as having “moral significance”.

When I went to boarding school (in my teens – we weren’t rich and snobby we just lived too far from a high school so we had to go to a boarding school) a dining table sat eight students: seven plus a “table prefect”. Everyone had their set table and chair. There were about 450 students. The small daily slab of butter was in a dish on each table, undivided and uncut. Turns were taken each day to divide the butter into eight equal parts. The person doing the dividing would get the final piece – just to make sure it was divided evenly. Oh the care taken over a quarter inch butter cube!

James and Joe and Susan and others can stick their chocolate or butter where-ever. Personally, I’m off to grab an Eskimo Pie before they go the way of Gone with the Wind.

The Rules – see Question 5 above!

My Nominees:

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t nominate but I recommend. This is NOT because I’m lazy but because I’m lazy. It’s also NOT because I’m afraid of hurting those who miss out because they haven’t been nominated but because I’m afraid of hurting those who miss out because they haven’t been nominated. If I may – just this once – take the easiest way out and suggest clicking on the icons of those who give this a like. That way you’ll be taken magically to their site where there’s so much to discover!

Thanks for reading and thanks again to The Dumbest Blogger and James Proclaims.

1900. Cattlestop Theatre

Over the years, when this blog hits a round number, it deviates away from blood, gore, and murder, and plunges into an abyss of niceness and personal aspects of this and that. Today’s round story Number 1900 continues the tradition.

On the property where I currently live are three disused what we call “cattlestops”. Some countries call them cattle grids, and other countries don’t call them anything because they don’t have them. In New Zealand a cattlestop is a series of old railway lines set in concrete over a pit. The aim is to stop farm stock from crossing over from the field or house onto the road. It takes the place of a gate and saves getting in and out of the vehicle each time one needs to drive through. Of course, these days there are remote controlled automatic gates, but creating a cattlestop from old railway lines is possibly the more aesthetic option. The three on the property here are old, and gravel over time has partially filled them in.

Years (and years) ago I taught at an all-boys boarding high school (aged 13 to 18). There were about 450 boarding students and about 250 day scholars. The high school had an attached farm. There were reasons for the farm which, if I may deviate further, goes back into a history long forgotten. The high school was a Roman Catholic school. Years ago as a kid I remember seeing advertising signs:

JOB VACANCY
CATHOLICS NEED NOT APPLY

These days such a sign would be illegal and offensive to most. Back in the old days it was often difficult for Catholics to find jobs. So the Catholic school system concentrated on a “classic education” with Greek and Latin, with Agriculture thrown in for those less academic. It’s why (at least in New Zealand) there were a hugely disproportionate percentage of doctors, lawyers, judges, and farmers who were Roman Catholic. It was a way around not getting rejected for “Catholics need not apply” jobs. This was all in the dim, dark ages, and Latin and Greek have subsequently been thrown out the window in this more enlightened age; but it does account for the fact that this high school and a number of others were attached to large farms.

It also accounts for the fact that this school where I taught had a cattlestop!

One weekend, armed with help from a squad of students, I decided to convert an old army hut into a theatre. It was right next to the cattlestop. We hammered a stage into shape and hung lights. The theatre could seat about fifty. Sister Frances-Marie from a local convent arrived with rolls of black fabric and a sewing machine, and by the end of the weekend we had a brand new shining theatre, curtains and all!

Me (obviously pre-coloured photography) starting to build the theatre

We called it CATTLESTOP THEATRE! Its motto was “It might stop the cattle but it won’t stop the bull”. An enterprising student, considerably brighter than me, translated it into Latin and hung it on the theatre door. (I can’t remember the Latin).

The first performance in the theatre was a short play by Eugene Ionesco called Foursome. I had stumbled across a translation of it in a magazine and subsequently have lost all copies. (I have never found it published in a book, but if anyone knows where I can get a copy or what the name of the magazine was, please let me know! It had the repeated phrase in it throughout of “Mind the potted plants!” and the characters names were Martin, Durand, Dupont, and Pretty Lady). We charged 5 cents per entry on a Sunday afternoon, the students doing one performance after another.

A scene from Ionesco’s “Foursome”

The highlight of all theatrical occasions came the following year. Reverend Sister Mary Whoever of the local St. Mary’s High School for Girls thought it would be wonderful to have an evening of Classical theatre by the Ancient Greeks. The boys began with an abridge version of Sophocles’ Antigone. It was well received. The St. Mary’s girls followed with a scene from Aristophanes’ The Frogs. It too was well received.

Performances briefly came to a halt for a cup of coffee and a cookie. Reverend Sister Mary Whoever was ecstatic! Such a wonderful cultural collaboration! Quite the best thing since the invention of the popup toaster! Such…! Quite…!

The boys, old enough and educated enough to take things into their own hands, filled the second half of the evening with scenes from Aristophanes’ The Wasps. One need not dwell on the size and placement of the wasps’ stings in the boys’ costumes, nor of the adaptation of some of Aristophanes’ more pithy double entendres. Reverend Sister and the girls left in a great haste, and thus ended the evening of wonderful cultural collaboration. A number of these students of good farming stock have ended up as excellent Classical scholars; and a number of excellent Classical scholars have ended up as farmers.

Indeed! It might stop the cattle but it won’t stop the bull! Cattlestop Theatre had a long and flourishing life, until time and weather began to rot the old army hut into oblivion. The sad part of this past memory of halcyon times is this: today one wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

1889. Award 22: Mystery at Te Popo

How wonderful to be nominated for The Mystery Blogger Award by Dumbest Blog Ever. The Dumbest Blogger ain’t as dumb as he makes out so go have a peek. He’s also going through a bit of a no-job patch, so see if you can have a read. He’s a good friend too.

Te Popo (in the title of this posting) is the name of the area where I live. It means “The Black Night”.

The award was established by Okoto Engima. She (apparently) is your everyday writer who turned her boredom, love for fashion, and passion for writing into something productive. So, being a fashion icon in my own head, I’m delighted to provide a link.

I’m meant to answer the five questions asked, and then say THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF. Of course the very things that some would want to know about me shall remain a secret. Oh! What the heck! Why not expose all? Read on!

Then I’ve got to nominate other bloggers, ask them a similar number of original things in the manner in which I was asked, and finally skedaddle off to bed.

Here are the five questions:

1. Where do UFOs come from?

Three weeks before my fourth birthday (i.e. 21 days before) my parents put a dozen eggs underneath a broody hen. I didn’t know, but they were due to hatch on my birthday. Then on my birthday eve my mother told me the hen was going to hatch out baby chickens tomorrow for my birthday. I went to the chicken coop and watched. Being on a farm I knew that babies came out of the mother’s bottom – like calves and lambs and things. I also knew that chickens came out of eggs. But how did the mother hen get her babies into the eggs after they had come out of her bottom?

I was going to solve this mystery once and for all. I watched all day, and not a thing happened. The next morning the hen had twelve chickens. I do not know how the hen puts the chickens into the eggs, and nor do I know where UFOs come from.

As an addendum to this, all twelve chicks grew into handsome over-sexed roosters, which might lead to the first of the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF towards the end of this post.

This is my faverolles rooster in my later years!

2. Do you like Mexican food?

We don’t have Taco Bell within a thousand miles of where I live, so all Mexican food has to be hand-crafted – a skill which I have developed to a high standard, especially when opening the can of kidney beans. So yes, I like Mexican food. Once, a couple of years back, the farming neighbours asked me to look after their farm for three weeks while they went away for a vacation. (They had never had such a capable neighbour before, and I said yes because they had lots of farm bikes and I was able to roar around all day on motor bikes here and there – it could have been interpreted as testosterone but it was simply post-adolescent inanity).

By way of thanks the neighbours invited me over for a meal, and we had Mexican. I was foolish enough to declare that one cannot claim to have eaten Mexican tacos properly unless one takes a freshly stuffed taco shell and eats it while jumping up and down in a white shirt on a trampoline. That’s what I had seen Mexican children do.

Some idiot actually photographed it

Who cares? The shirt was old anyway. Of course, those of you who want to see me with my shirt off will have to wait until the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF later. I don’t like to reveal everything all at once.

3. Do you believe in life after love?

I’d like to say yes to this question, but basically I’m a bad loser. I don’t know how many times I’ve fallen in love, or even fallen in infatuation. But each time when the saga is over I turn into a complete wreck. I’m trying to select an example…

Once, when all possibility of romance dissipated, approximately around one in the morning, I screwed up an entire packet of cigarettes and threw them into the fire. The nearest in-the-middle-of-the-night cigarette selling place was about two hours walk away and I didn’t have a car. By the time I got home at five o’clock it was sunrise and I was in a ripe state.

No, there’s no life after love. Or, yes, perhaps there is, but it’s a different life – I have subsequently discovered.

I know it’s confusing but this is not me. These are actually models.

4. What’s your theme song?

I’m a bit “yesterday” when it comes to choosing a theme song. I guess it would have to be the song my father banned from us playing on the (back-then) gramophone. It was the flipside of Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren’s “Goodness Gracious Me”. The song was called “We’re removing Grandpa’s grave to build the sewer”. I absolutely loved it back then (and still do). I suppose part of the appeal was that Dad had banned it and it could only be played when he was out of the house. Apart from that as a ten year old I got given a collection of recordings of music by famous composers and I thrashed Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” to death. Mum would say, “Turn that horrible music down” but I didn’t.

I still get immensely excited by every note of it, and sometimes take the score to bed with me to read like a novel. But for the time being, if you’re hoping to get an insight into my excitement you may have to wait until you hear about the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF towards the end of this reflection.

Getting ready to take Stravinsky’s Rite to bed.

5. Would you rather eat rice or potatoes?

I had two great-great-great grandmothers die in the Irish Potato Famine, so it would be treachery to claim a preference for rice. Besides, I associate rice with China, and they’re not my favourites at present.

There’s so much more one can do with a potato. Rice one can boil or throw over the bride and groom at a wedding. What a waste! Imagine throwing boiled potatoes at a bride and groom. It could be the harbinger of awkward things to come, especially if the groom got bits of mashed potato on his black tuxedo.

THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF

At last we have arrived at this most revealing section. Some of you have been faithful online friends for seven or eight years, and some just a few weeks. Some know things about me that others don’t. Anyway, here are bits of me in no particular order and for no particular reason:

1. I am gay. My partner is Eric. He is French. We get on well enough. He speaks nine languages and I speak English. He uses the eight other languages when he doesn’t want me to know what he’s saying. I never chose to be gay. My five siblings are now all GREAT grandparents. Such things would have its joys and non-joys (and expenses). I have a dog and a cat. I love them nonetheless. It’s not quite the same but it’ll have to do!

2. I was a catholic priest for nearly thirty years. Those years, plus the eight years of training, were an important part of who I am. Sometimes, when people hear of my past, they say “Good on you for leaving”. I always get a little hurt by that. It was almost forty years of my life! I don’t think there was much wrong with what I did!

3. I have had a chronic heart condition for 25 years or so. Apparently I need a heart transplant but I’m not going to be given one because there’s a paucity of hearts about and I haven’t made a big enough contribution to society to be very far up the list! I said to the heart specialist when he told me that, “as long as the heart I would’ve got goes to someone younger who has a life ahead then that is fine”, and he said that no one had said that before and he burst into tears. I thought that might’ve improved my chances but it made Sweet Fanny Adams of a difference!

Anyway, it’s just as well that this wonderful award asks for only three, otherwise I’d be talking about myself all day.

I now have to ask five questions and nominate others. Well, this is the sad bit. I should’ve said it at the beginning. I don’t nominate, but I mention the blog addresses of other bloggers I follow that I like and maybe you miss out on. If I don’t mention you, know that I don’t NOT mention you to make you feel bad.

a). Passing on the flame. This is an archive of poetry translations (Medieval/Baroque/Modern/etc) from the German, by Peter Lach-Newinsky. I like this site because it exposes something to me that I wouldn’t have a clue about otherwise.

b). Observation Blogger. Lifelong learner and blogging enthusiast. Matthew is an Australian who lives in Colombia with his family. I think he’s currently in permanent lockdown – the poor bugger. He posts interesting stuff about music and things. The bits I like most are his introductions to Latin American music, singers, and songs.

c). Lisa of arlingwords blogs about a number of things, but mainly about her communal garden in Washington DC where she creates produce for the poor and gets eaten out by wild and pernicious rabbits.

d). European Origins. As a (lily) white Caucasian I enjoy Marcel’s blog and dream about my European ancestral lineage! I hope I’m allowed to…

e). Sweet Life Kitchens. Noel presents country-style cooking and baking. I like it because it gives a few ideas and shows how to cook things without a million pop-ups and ads that have now taken over recipe sites. This is good stuff!

Now I have provided no questions because these are not nominations but recommendations. But if so desired then recommended bloggers can answer the same five questions no doubt more satisfyingly than my response!

Thanks again to The Dumbest Blogger for his kindness in nominating me.

Here’s a picture of my washing to let you know that despite all I’ve said, it’s a cow of a life.

Poem 96: Self-portrait in still life

(Today there is no story, but Poem 96. This is the second “Self-portrait” poem – the first one was “Landscape” and this one is “Still Life”. This poem is probably not to everyone’s liking. I try to cover as much territory as I can and sometimes feel a bit strangled by the expectations of the occasional some. So if I don’t follow myself I end up in some quagmire of  uncreativity and consumed by self-doubt. Sorry if this didn’t make sense. For those who prefer to be warned, there is a swear word in the poem).

Today I pulled out weeds in the garden.
I don’t have a clue what the weeds are called.
I s’pose they have names.
I have a weed book (with illustrations) called
“Weeds”. All the names inside

are Latin, like Taraxacum officinal
which is just an antediluvian nomenclature for dandelion.
A friend of mine once made tea out of Taraxacum officinal and got the runs.
Yes, I have friends.

(Fa la la la la).

One of the weeds was all tanglely and sticky.
Another had roots so deep it snapped underground.
Yet another was prickly
and another slimy because of spit beetle spit.
Anyway, I couldn’t help but think –

I am a fern frond stuck in a vase in a still life painting
– not that a fern is a weed –
stuck in a vase with a couple of dowdy dead flowers,
and next to a banana.

(Fa la la la la).

I am a fern frond stuck in a vase.
I am a fern frond stuck in a vase next to a banana.
The frond reminds Mabel up the road of the most intricate lace.
But it’s the same all the way up.
It’s the same all the way down.

Everything’s the same.
It’s the same fa la la la la.

(Fa la la la fucking fa la).

Some days I feel the need to escape
the picture.

If the above link doesn’t play, then try clicking HERE!

Poem 95: Self-portrait in landscape

The landscape’s crumpled undulations
stand perhaps as some sort of metaphor.
It’s as if when god got to make me a muttering was heard:
stuff this, who cares about this one?
The blueprint was screwed up
and tossed to the ground.

You know, you know,
people snapshot it, they take pictures
of the blueprint as if it’s the beautiful thing,
and yet the scene proclaims…

(nothing really, it doesn’t matter).

The landscape’s crumpled undulations
are as green as anything; muddled as anything.
There is no old history.
There’s nothing to say the place is sacred,
this dude is home, this fellow’s holy,
this guy is worth half another look.

You know, you know,
people snapshot it, they take pictures
of the blueprint as if it’s the beautiful thing,
and yet the scene proclaims…

(nothing really, it doesn’t matter).

The landscape’s crumpled undulations
can be unravelled if anyone cares to loosen;
undo the screwed-up-ness, flatten the blueprint out.
But it’s munted, the twisted scene’s munted,
the blueprint’s screwed-up twice
and chucked to the ground.

You know, you know,
people snapshot it, they take pictures
of the blueprint as if it’s the beautiful thing,
and yet the scene proclaims…

(nothing really, it doesn’t matter).

Someday someone might pick up this bit of trash
and set it on fire.

If the above link doesn’t play, then try clicking HERE!

Award 21/Story 1872: A Blugger Award

I love awards. It’s over a year since I got an award – 9th of April 2019 at 5.19 p.m. This time I have been nominated by the Dumbest Blog Ever blogger for the Outstanding Blogger Award. I enjoy the Dumbest Blog Ever blogger’s blog and I’m sure many of you would too if you don’t already know it – but be prepared at times for a touch of the bizarre that can have layers of meaning (or not). He’s also an expert at old Greek stuff and made me read the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was also brought up on a farm with cows. Thanks N. for thinking of me.

I was never really rebellious but I was never much good at rules either, so I’ll get the rules out of the way quickly. Here they are:

• Provide a link to the creator’s original award post. (Done!)
• Answer the questions provided.
• Create 7 unique questions.
• Nominate 10 bloggers.

Now to answer the 7 questions!

Question 1: What is the meaning of life?

I have no idea what the answer to this question would be! I took Philosophy for three years in earlier days. I slept through a number of the lectures. The climax came with the final assignment. I was given the topic, “Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge”.

Bertrand Russell – “The best life is the one in which the creative impulses play the largest part.”

I didn’t have a clue what his Theory of Knowledge was about and for the assignment I drew faces of little pigs to illustrate what I thought Bertrand Russell was saying. A message came from the Professor of Philosophy. He wanted to see me. I knocked guiltily on his office door. I was in a sweat. This would be it. He would announce a failure. He would say I should never have taken the philosophy course. My three years would be brushed aside and all because of rows of little pigs’ faces.

Oink! Oink! Oink!

“Yes,” said the professor, “where did you get this information from?”

“I read the book and that’s what I came up with,” I said.

“Well,” said the Professor, “I never understood Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge until I read your essay.”

I got an A+ pass for the course. But to this day I can’t say I understand Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge, and nor do I know the meaning of life.

Question 2: How fast is too fast?

I do everything like a bull at a gate. Everyone says, “Don’t go at it like a bull at a gate,” but I can’t help it. It saves having to think and learn. For example, I sat through Algebra classes at school surreptitiously solving the theorems of Euclidean Geometry because they were more interesting. I spent Latin classes reading George Eliot novels under the desk. To this day I know few Latin words and nothing about Algebra.

If I had my life again I would take things slower. I would study Algebra step by step. “Make haste slowly” would be the motto. Or as they said in Ancient Rome: Festina lente.

Question 3: Do you believe in Karma?

Yes I believe in Karma but possibly not in the sense understood in Hinduism and Buddhism – they’re out of my cultural league so I don’t pretend to understand it. But in the sense of everyday usage – good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one’s actions – I’d go along with it. I dream of helping a little old lady across the road and being left a fortune in her will. That’s sort of what Howard Hughes did to this guy who stopped to help when Hughes got a puncture: left him millions. Whether the guy got the money in the end or not I’m not sure.

Howard Hughes – “The only time an aircraft has too much fuel on board is when it is on fire.”

The last job I had was as a country school librarian. It wasn’t a 40-hour week job because that would require full-time wages. It was for 37 hours so I could be paid the cheaper part-time wages. (Don’t ask me how that works). I taught music (without any resources) for 7 of those hours on librarian’s wages (which is less than 2 thirds of what a teacher gets). Suddenly a young teacher in a short skirt applied for the job of music teacher. But how to get rid of me first?

In the meantime, a mother of a student hanged herself from a tree in her garden. I was asked to play “sad mood music” at her funeral. Later to another teacher I expressed surprise that the Head Master hadn’t attended the funeral but chose to go to a rowing regatta instead. Before you knew it I was hauled into the Head Master’s office. Had I criticised the Head Master? I said I had expressed surprise. I was on my bike. That was that.

Two years later I read in the paper where the Head Master had been forced to resign; he’d been fiddling with music teachers in short skirts. Do I believe in Karma? Indeed! Have I forgiven the Head Master? Indeed I have – the wizened-up, over-sexed, inadequate, bat-festering, little twerp.

And I never found another paying job ‘cos I couldn’t get a reference from my “previous employer”.

Let’s play that again, Class.

Question 4: What’s your favorite type of jelly?

Oh my goodness! Here I am faced with a cultural dilemma. Not only am I forced to spell “favourite” without the U, I am confronted with the word “jelly”. Even though strictly speaking in New Zealand we could use the word “jelly” for a spread on toast if it’s set with pectin and strained (quince jelly for example) we usually use the word “jam” for both jam and jelly. Strictly and stickily speaking, jam has bits of pulverized fruit in it. Here, the word “Jelly” is usually reserved for what Americans call Jell-O.

I am therefore presuming that by “Jelly” in the question is meant the spread and not the dessert. Rhubarb Jelly is my favorite, for no other reason than I made a large pot of it, and dripped it through muslin cloth overnight. What a pretty sight it was in the jars catching the light! This wasn’t for eating as a spread as such. It was for painting on fruit in a dessert to make the fruit shine. It provided a wondrous glossy glow and the fruit looked even more delectable and the rhubarb jelly was without taste. If you want to be fussy, what I’ve described is not called Jelly either but Nappage. Thanks for the question, because I forgot I had made it and it’s been sitting in the back of the cupboard unused for about five years.

Question 5: What is the best mode of transportation?

A few years ago I thought I’d attend a friend’s father’s funeral and booked a flight to the city where it was. Not wanting to leave my car at the expensive, money-guzzling airport car park for several days, I asked a neighbour if he would take me to the airport in my car and then bring it back home.

”Sure,” he said. And we set out.

Towards the airport we had to pass through a busy barely two-lane really old tunnel. We were behind a slow driver. The tunnel was where the neighbour decided to pass the car in front. There was a bus and a row of cars headed straight for us. I wasn’t worried about my car. I was worried about my life.

I have never felt so safe getting onto a plane. That feeling has stayed with me. Hence the best mode of transport is out of a tunnel and into the air.

Question 6: How would you solve the world’s problems?

Don’t get me started! I probably would start with the fact that “people are not problems” they are “mysteries”. Problems get solved; mysteries get pondered. The modern world likes to turn everyone and everything into a problem; our differences are a problem, our forebears are a problem, etc. I could expand this for several pages, complete with little drawings of pigs’ faces but I shall save you the effort of having to read it.

Question 7: What’s your favorite meal?
Pancakes.
I would begin with a pancake stuffed with seafood, and then move on to lots more pancakes stuffed with various stuff.

For dessert it would be several pancakes stuffed with blueberries and lashings of whipped cream – that’s if I was dining at home. Otherwise dessert would be simply Jell-O if that’s what they serve in the coronary care unit in the hospital.

I don’t do nominations, but I do do recommendations. Here’s 10 blogs I follow, selected for no particular reason and in no particular order. Don’t feel bad if you’re left out. You’re still loved. I follow so many wonderful writers that I feel bad about selecting only ten. I reckon all these blogs are worth the time!

1. Red’s Kingdom. Phil’s blog involves photography, painting, music… anything that’s creative. And he seems to be a nice guy as well!
2. Iseult Murphy. Iseult is a horror, fantasy and science fiction author. She must be the most prolific reader on the Net and her reviews are worth the read in themselves. I believe she expressed a keenness to get murdered in one of my stories. I’m still choosing the weapon Iseult because I want it to be as exciting as your book!
3. Wandering Ambivert. Hannes lives in South Africa (I think) and his passion is photography, film, travel, nature, books… I have an expensive camera (it was a gift) and very little brain-power to use it properly. I relish the Wandering Ambivert’s postings in explaining what all the buttons are for.
4. (CALIATH). João-Maria writes in both English and Portuguese – the latter being his first tongue but you wouldn’t know it wasn’t English! I enjoy his writing because I find it challenges me not to be such a stick in the mud. I think he manipulates English in an original and creative way. It discomforts me in my prison walls!
5. Author Sarah Angleton. I’ve followed Sarah’s blog since way-back. She is a novelist and historian. On her blog Sarah usually once a week selects a tiny snippet of history, researches it, and presents it in a delightful way. You learn about interesting things you never dreamed you ever wanted to know about!
6. PowerPop… An Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture. Max gives a daily menu of stuff you heard on the radio for years and forgotten you had. But it’s with fresh eyes and fresh insight. You’ll learn things you never knew about a song – such as the one today as I write, the whispered overdub on Riders on the Storm; the overdub being the last thing Jim Morrison did before his death.
7. shakemyheadhollow. Daedalus Lex aka Gary deals with conceptual spaces: politics, philosophy, art, literature, religion, cultural history. I don’t agree with everything he thinks about, but it certainly makes you think! I find it interesting.
8. araneus1. Terry is the second oldest blogger that I follow. I don’t mean he’s old; I mean I’ve hung around his blog for a long time like a bad smell. He’s Australian and his yarns are bloody good. Of all the story-tellers around, he is the one I always say “Oh good!” when I perceive a new posting.
9. Letters from Greece. M.L. Kappa lives in Greece, when she’s home because she takes you through Greece and to art exhibitions all over the place. On top of that she’s a fabulous artist herself. Her observations on history and art are rewarding and interesting. Her blog is a delight to visit, and you get a good overview of what’s happening these days in Greece as well.
10. Harvesting Hecate. I shouldn’t say this, but Andrea is my favourite all-time blogger. Not only does she encourage others, but she can turn the simplest walk into the most beautifully crafted odyssey. The writing castes a spell; in fact, it harvests Hecate. Andrea is also the blogger I’ve followed for the longest time – so in real life she’s probably lovely too! I can’t recommend her magic enough!

Thanks once again Dumbest Blog Ever.  I owe you a whiskey, or at least a beer; and failing that a drink of good Wisconsin milk.

(Tomorrow it’s back to the regular daily story!)

1870. Quotations and Announcement

I said a day ago that this week I’d do a couple of self-indulgent postings. This is the second. It could be fun, since it will rightly never be done in real life, to pretend astonishing fame and glean quotations from various theatre plays I’ve written over the years and present them as if in a quotation anthology!

No sooner were these words out (and this is true!) than an email arrived saying that six of my poems had been selected by a publisher in Wisconsin for an international anthology! I had been invited last November to submit some poems. More about that at a later date. Thank goodness my portrait shown below had already been hung in the National Vallery otherwise I’d need to go for a more pretentious look. In fact I had a terrible time taking the selfie this morning while everyone was still asleep. I didn’t want anyone to see and think that vanity was a motivation. My right hand is on the computer mouse to press the button. What a relief I had a post-lockdown haircut yesterday. But enough about me – here’s more about me!

Famous Quotations by Cloven Ruminant
whose portrait hangs in the National Vallery

I don’t know fancy names for coffee. Just give me the stuff with the fluff on. – Café Play (1998)

It’s a great mystery – how we pass by. It’s sort of… meaningless. – River Songs (1994)

I just killed what would have become the ancestor of the first intelligent moth. – Here Legends Lie (1993)

There was no need for you to tell me that what I was doing was a waste of time. I have to do something. – Voyage in a Boat (1989)

A real man does shrimp cocktails and garlic bread. No, no. Not my Arnold. Over done. Over boiled. – Deep End (1992)

So you’ll be sitting on the veranda in the still of the evening will you, barely changed from your wedding gown, and be admiring each other’s brains? – Cloud Mother (1990)

There’s a great silence before a funeral. As if heaven waits to let them in. – Sheer Silence (1999)

Just because I say I want two budgerigars doesn’t mean to say I want two blue ones. – Café Play (1998)

It was a satire – like “King Lear”. – Zachustra (1993)

I’ll not be sitting here day after day taking all this muck from two tarts when you could be up in the rigging swinging with a sailor and doing whatever it is your profession demands. – Cloud Mother (1990)

It’s all very well for Thingy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to fall in love with Who-dacky by taking a bit of stuff but with… you think I’m wandering don’t you? – Um (1997)

There’s so little we know. About what goes on. It’s best to be guilty. – The Chimney (1996)

All straight lines in the universe are human lines – have you noticed? – and I can’t stay on a straight line. Straight lines are perfection, and I can’t be perfect. I can’t. – Secundus (1992)

I don’t want a happy marriage. I want a tragic marriage. It’s very fashionable. – Fishbone in the Blancmange (1997)

Although he was computer savvy, he died drunk, unhappy, friendless, twisted and embittered. – Weave a Web Blog (2020)not from a play but I thought I’d throw it in because it’s rather amazing to discover that it’s more than 20 years since I wrote a play. The “quotation” is not biographical!

Thanks for reading. There’s over 60 plays (I think) if anyone these days ever wants to do one!