Archive for the 'Things I Have Learned' Category

Wooden People

People carved out of wood by the actor Jim Broadbent, in the Royal Festival Hall, snapped by Pansy Cradledew on this day in June MMXV.




I have never given serious thought to the idea of reincarnation, and it is about time I did so. After all, we are serious people, are we not?, and we should think seriously about everything, absolutely everything, as it falls within our purview. There will be many subjects deserving of only our fleeting attention, but even those we should consider with all due seriousness. In that spirit, and in the full knowledge that the concept of reincarnation, or the transmigration of souls, is almost certainly arrant poppycock, let us see if we can winkle from it anything of significance.

In some versions of the theory, the transmigrating soul flits from species to species. This would suggest that, immediately before the glorious event that was the arrival upon earth of Mr Key, I might have been, say, a bat or a prawn or a tulip. This is a perfect example of something so foolish that our fleeting attention can fly away from it tout suite, with nary a backward glance. Like the collected written outpourings of Will Self, it can be safely tucked away and forgotten about. We gave it our serious attention, for a moment or two, and then moved on, sensibly, as sensible and serious persons do.

Of more interest is the idea that, as the spark of life is extinguished in one human corporeal being, at the very moment when life passes it makes a leap into a brand new host. Though as preposterous as the idea that I was once a tulip, this at least has a certain tidiness about it. If, for a while, we entertain the possibility of it being true, the urgent question then thumps inside our heads – who were you, Mr Key, before you were Mr Key?

I am minded to date the dawn of my existence not to the date of birth, but to the moment of conception in my mother’s womb. Unless one’s father is a precise and punctilious Walter Shandy figure, that moment is well nigh impossible to pinpoint, so the best we can do is to use informed guesswork. Counting backwards from the date of my (premature) birth, it is likely that I was conceived in the dying days of May in the Year of Our Lord MCMLVIII, or, as modern barbarians would prefer, 1958. So who shuffled off this mortal coil around that time, apart from several bats or prawns or tulips?

Three candidates present themselves – the Romanian aviator Constantin Cantacuzino, the Spanish writer Juan Ramón Jiménez, and – skipping forward slightly to the beginning of June – the American oceanographer Townsend Cromwell. The next stage of my serious research will be to immerse myself in the lives of this trio, finding out all I can, perhaps entering a fugue state. Without leaping ahead of myself, I have to say that my favourite of the three, at this stage, is the Spaniard, not so much on account of his Nobel Prize for Literature (1956), but because, judging by this photograph, his wife is wearing exactly the sort of hat I can imagine Pansy Cradledew sporting atop her lovely head.

I will keep you informed of my findings.


A Danish Pencil

Pansy Cradledew recently spent three days in rural Denmark. Upon her return, she presented me with some small gifts of Danish stationery. Among these was a pencil, along the barrel of which the following phrases are stamped:




I suspect this is probably gobbledegook rather than Danish, although there is a distinct possibility it might be Real Orghast. If any reader can tell me what it means, please do so in the Comments.

Tiny Enid And The Tentacles Of Cthulhu

Evidence has come to light that Tiny Enid, the plucky club-footed tot of this parish, may have had more in common with H. P. Lovecraft than a fondness for fascism. I am grateful to OutaSpaceman for bringing to my attention this snap, originally found on something called the “Flickr account” of one Lawrence Jones:


One Rooster, Two Ostriches

Dear Mr. Key,, writes Poppy Nisbet from her fastness in North America, There was an offer on Freecycle this morning for a “disabled rooster”. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. It read: “Offer: disabled rooster”.

Likewise, on the bird front, I found a wonderful 17th century engraving of two standing desert ostriches blowing on their eggs. After dogged persistence Google finally produced a translation of the accompanying Latin text and I learned that ostriches were believed to leave their eggs to hatch in the care of the sun and the sand. The parent birds blew “nourishing breathe” onto their offspring before, er, deserting them.

The translation given for ostrich was “Sparrow-camel”.

Tender Buttons

The other day I mentioned Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons. I feel it only right that you should be told Tender Buttons is also the name of a magnificent button shop in New York City. Last year it celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Should you find yourself in that fair city I wholeheartedly recommend you pay it a visit and buy some buttons. I did.




New Yorkers (ii)

Two more New Yorkers encountered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Two Views Of An Infant With An Apple



New Yorkers

Mr Key has returned from his brief sojourn in New York, and is gathering his wits and resting his weary limbs. Meanwhile, here is a snap of a couple of New Yorkers I encountered (in the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Coming soon – another New Yorker, the Knight of the Whisks (with whisks)!


Mr Key’s Diet

I am very grateful to Poppy Nisbet for drawing this to my attention. From this moment on, I shall be magnetizing all my food. I will let you know how things are going in a week or so.


Impish Demons

While my brainpans remain empty of words, no doubt temporarily, I must reassure you lot that I am still living and breathing, so here – courtesy of my informant Poppy Nisbet – is a fifteenth century German illustration from the Book of Revelation.


Bolsheviks & Lizard-People

Many thanks to David Thompson for bringing to our attention this letter from the correspondence columns of the Weekly Worker. What a relief to know that David Icke’s sensible insights have been taken on board by the Communist Party Alliance!

I never claimed that the future of humanity “may rest on the beneficence of extra-terrestrial reptiles.” I… referred to the reptilian control theory, which argues that for thousands of years humanity has been controlled by a reptilian race, using their mixed reptile-human genetic bloodlines, who have oppressed and exploited humans, while claiming descent from the ‘gods’ and the divine right to rule by bloodline. Ancient and modern society is obsessed with reptilian, serpent and dragon themes, possibly due to this heritage. Even the flag of Wales has a dragon on it.

Most people have closed minds, depending on the issues. Mention the possibility of aliens secretly manipulating humanity behind the scenes and the shutters come down.

Politically Incorrect Hedge Sparrows

This was commended to my attention (by R.). Now it is commended to your attention (by me).

Oh, and elsewhere Douglas Murray notes the new thought-crime of “nun-dismissal”.

Minibus Pariah

Last night I dreamed I was a passenger in a minibus. I was accompanied by several old friends from years ago and by Quakers. For reasons never explicit, everybody in the minibus thoroughly disapproved of me. My sense of this was vivid and distressing, and I was very glad to wake from it.

I told Pansy Cradledew I had had a bad dream. “I was the subject of disapproval,” I said. She laughed. “When people say they have bad dreams you expect them to say ‘I was terrified’ or something similar. But no, you were merely subject to disapproval.” She found this highly amusing.

Later I was able to reflect that things could be much worse. I learned that Auberon Waugh’s maternal grandfather was told by a foolish friend that a guaranteed cure for blindness was to have all of one’s teeth removed. He arranged for this to be done, contracted blood poisoning as a result, and died at the age of 43.

The Importance Of The Gannet

According to a six-DVD set on the subject of British Birds made by the ornithologist Paul Doherty, the gannet is “the most pointy bird to be found in Britain”.

I am indebted to Andy Martin for bringing this critically important information to my attention. Mr Martin adds: “I wish to pass a motion that the gannet be adopted as the official emblem of Pointy Town, to appear on any heraldic designs, flags, and stationery”. I think we can consider that carried, nem. con.


The gannet : exceedingly pointy