Archive for the 'Things I Have Learned' Category

In Dubrovnik

Learning that the cathedral in Dubrovnik houses a holy relic of Christ’s nappy inspired me to write the first verse of a brand new Christmas carol.

Baby Jesus
You make me happy
In Dubrovnik
They’ve got your nappy

Readers may wish to add further verses in the Comments.

Eye Eye (Again)

Last week I went for my first appointment at the Tuesday Injection Clinic (which I think of as the Tuesday Injection Club). I learned a number of things. One, that I would be attending every fortnight, rather than every month, until at least the end of the year. Two, that the entire procedure passes off efficiently and painlessly.

But the most important lesson I have learned is that I am now armed with a stupendously effective conversational gambit. Let us imagine, just for one wild moment, that one of these days I actually get invited to a swish sophisticated cocktail party where I can lean insouciantly against a mantelpiece. Now picture various other guests approaching me to engage in conversation with what they fondly imagine will be impressive anecdotes.

Let me tell you about the time I met John F Kennedy”, would say my ex-employer Elkan Allan (were he not late and lamented). Or, “One of my blog posts was picked up by the Huffington Post”, would say my sister Rita Byrne Tull. Or it might be someone telling me they had climbed Everest, or swum the Channel, or discovered the Fab Four, or any number of thrilling facts.

And now imagine a moment of silence, while I pause and play that pause for all it’s worth, and I then say, “Well, that’s very interesting”, and then I declare, in resounding tones, “But every two weeks I have needles injected directly into my eyeballs!”

I can assure you that the effect is electrifying. I have already tried it out a few times – though sadly not in the context of a swish sophisticated cocktail party – and I can report that jaws drop, eyes boggle, and questions are fired at me. I, of course, retain an air of insouciant calm.

I tell you what, as medical issues go, this one certainly beats water-on-the-knee or mad cow disease when it comes to mopping the floor with rival anecdotists.

Irresponsible Shepherds

The problem is not the sheep. The problem is irresponsible shepherds.” Thus spake – on the radio this morning – a spokesman for the majestically-named Irresponsible Shepherding Task Force in the Forest of Dean. Apparently, that rustic paradise is riddled with irresponsible shepherds who, among sundry enormities, allow their sheep to bleat in the middle of the night.

Personally, I am not surprised to learn about outbreaks of nocturnal bleating. Sheep are highly neurasthenic creatures who spend their entire lives in a state of fretfulness and nervous tension, and as a result they rarely sleep. This is probably one reason why, as has been observed by several country persons, a sheep’s ambition in life is to die.

Kaka

Back in 2007, and then again in 2010, I wrote about Kaka. Although I did not mention it specifically, I was at the time under the impression that Kaka was a foopballer. I have now learned that Kaka is, in fact, a bird. This sheds an entirely new light on things, and I fear I must go back to the drawing-board.

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Foopball News

I must say that thus far the Euro2016 foopball tournament has proved somewhat disappointing. No commentator has yet matched the majestic observation, at the 2010 World Cup, “for a moment there, he looked like a baby gazelle who’d just plopped out of the womb”. But perhaps things are looking up. Today I have learned that the Italian defenders “are like tawny owls”.

Portal To Plovdiv

It is far too long since we turned our attention to the fair city of Plovdiv. Word reaches me, however, of the intriguing appearance of a supposed watering-hole in north London, pictured below. I say “supposed” because, reportedly, nobody has ever been seen either entering or leaving this mysterious establishment. My hunch is that it is some kind of portal to Plovdiv. Boffins are probably hard at work tweaking the complicated gubbins designed to rend asunder the laws of physics so that, on stepping through the door, one is instantly transported – teleported? – to Plovdiv itself.

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Many thanks to Max Décharné for the snap.

Park Bench

This confounded Hooting Yard hiatus has gone on long enough. My apologies for the silence. I am hoping to give my brain a good kicking to get it back on track.

Regular readers will know that the municipal park bench is a recurring motif in my prose. Imagine my unalloyed glee, then, to discover the existence of an actor and director named Park Bench. One of his films is called The Secret of Goat. These things make me extremely happy.

Tin Jaw

I was intrigued to learn that the new president of the Land Formerly Known As Burma goes by the resounding name Tin Jaw. At least, that is how the BBC pronounces Htin Kyaw on the Today programme.

Though I wish Mr Jaw no ill, past or present, I cannot help wishing that he personifies a spectacular variant of nominative determinism and that, at some point earlier in his life, he suffered a catastrophic injury to his face which led to him being surgically fitted with a tin jaw.

A tin jaw is perhaps not as gritty and heroic as, say, an iron jaw, but it is a fine name for a head of state.

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The Kibbo Kift Universe

John Hargrave, founder of the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, wrote an article in 1925 entitled “A Short Exposition of the Philosophical Basis of the Kibbo Kift”. It includes a passage where Hargrave insists on the “unity of the unique units of the Universe”:

teapots, chairs, mud, electric light bulbs, fingernails, hammers, steam engines, mountains, hats, shoes, needles, tram tickets, lilies, telephones, tents, dynamos, walking sticks, cow dung, churches, iron foundries, neckties, cats, human beings, steel plates, bricks and mortar, glass, sealing-wax, trees, thoughts, tables, music, flowers and flower-pots, clouds, gutter-gratings, books, food, buttons, machine guns, beads, rain, clocks, boots, ferro-concrete, eggs, sunlight, coal, stars, solar systems, slugs, pictures, maggots, wheel bolts, smells, darkness and light, collar-studs, speech, seeds, birds, bootlaces, insects, skeletons, pepper-corns, babies, Space, Time, Matter, all religions, all Spirits, all Matter(s) … all, all, are actually the ONE GREAT POWER.

This is quoted in Annebella Pollen’s book The Kindred Of The Kibbo Kift, which you will recall I recommended during the run of the 2015 Hooting Yard Advent Calendar. If you need any further persuasion to obtain a copy, please note that it has recently been acclaimed as “the most beautiful book in Switzerland”.

My Brother

Watch, listen and learn. Click on the “song” link below.

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song

Camber Rilnt

Who now remembers Camber Rilnt?

In the long ago, when I was a teenperson, Camber Rilnt was, if not quite my hero, certainly a totemic figure, one I held in awe. I pored over his name with something akin to reverence. Today, on a whim, I tapped “Camber Rilnt” into Google, and it yielded absolutely no results whatsoever. There are millions, probably billions of pages on the world wide interweb, but if Google is to be believed, Camber Rilnt appears on none of them. He has vanished down the plughole of history.

Ah! But I did find him, not once but twice, hiding in plain sight, in a manner not traceable by Google’s algorithms, but present nevertheless. Camber Rilnt lives on!

As for you lot, devoted Hooting Yardists all, do you remember Camber Rilnt? Can you track him down on the web, perhaps in places I missed? Feel free to plunge into the Comments Bath to let me know.

Self-Indulgence At Croydon In Fruit

The Oxford University Press recently published Volume VIII of its majestic Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins. The latest book – a snip at £110 – is devoted to the Diaries, Journals, and Notebooks. As a good Catholic, Hopkins kept a record of the sins he committed, and this new edition includes the previously suppressed details. We learn, for example, of frequent bouts of ”O.H.” (“old habits” – I think we can guess what that means) and of occasions when unseemly thoughts are prompted by the sight of choristers, “cart-boys”, and other young men.

But several other entries are suggestive of the fathomless depths of the poet’s sickening depravity and moral turpitude. He confesses in the privacy of his diary to “looking at and thinking of stallions” and worse, much worse, “self-indulgence at Croydon in fruit”.

How Hopkins escaped prison is one of the enduring mysteries of Victorian Jesuit literature.

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Delusions And Slurry

Just a couple of things to attend to today. First, over at Gruts, Richard Carter quotes some amusing snippets about O. Henry and Osbert Lancaster. One wants to learn much more about the latter’s father-in-law. Were the rest of his “numerous” delusions as delightfully specific as the belief that he “had crossed the Channel with Blériot”?

Second, it has occurred to me that one thing I would really, really like to do is to write a smash hit million-selling pop song about a farmyard mishap, entitled 16 Tons Of Slurry.

Kibbo Kift Diary

For those of you who followed our advent calendar with ever-mounting excitement, and have since become fanatical devotees of the Kibbo Kift, here are some dates for your appointment book. Dr Annebella Pollen, who wrote the book and curated the exhibition, has arranged a series of forthcoming events, to wit:

Wanstead Tap pub, London E7, 26 January

University of Bradford, 27 January

Kibbo Kift study day at Whitechapel Gallery, 6 February

Treadwell’s occult bookshop, London 25 February

Evening of Kibbo Kift-inspired music and art, Whitechapel Gallery, 10 March

Talk (as part of children and socialism series), Marx Memorial Library, London, 17 March

Take your totem!

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Shaman Of Snacks

This little Inuit shaman figure is designed to represent good and evil, or yin and yang, or heaven and hell, in snack-world. In one hand he holds a Twiglet, in the other a Rich Tea biscuit.

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