A live toad every morning

Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

All Provided

Stephen mentioned to me the other day that they'd just been on a cruise, complementary drinks: I knew I'd seen something on that - just found it.....
Bottle Party
'Boozers are being offered the bender of a lifetime: an alcoholiday in the sun. The special attraction is twelve hours' drinking a day, FREE! Tourists will pay £45 for the trip to the island of Majorca, and for their money they will get unlimited supplies of liquor at a three-star hotel. Tours manager Colin Woolf said: "Our 'clients will be able to drink until they fall down. "
Daily Mirror
'.
Hotel Borrachera
Playa de Palma
Majorca
38th July 1977
DEAR AUNTIE THING, Alice, tall woman, big yellow teeth,
Well, here we are at the, oops, there's a blotty, hallo Blotty!
Who's a pretty Blotty then? at the, you know, and we are all having a wonderful O God Almighty these bloody Spanish pens! THESE BLOODY SPANISH PENS! THESE STINKING BLOODY LONG-HAIRED GREASY SPANISH WOG CHEAP LOUSY ROTTEN 
Expen the scusil. Thrown pen over balcony, whee goes pen, hope it sticks in Spanish head, ha-ha, serve them right throwing Norman out of EI Wizzo Niteclub just because Norman sick on bongo, no business having bongo where people can be sick on it anyhow, how they expect Norman do Knees Up Mother Thing with six bottles of vi no sloshing about in him?
Norman lucky didn't get run over, all mad drivers, also hate dogs, don't realise thing running out of EI Wizzo on all fours is man doing brilliant impression of airedale, Norman now got tyre marks all over his nice El Wizzo tablecloth.

And what police doing banging on hotel door in small hours, anyone think it crime to borrow tablecloth, no business grabb­ing Norman either, man got perfect right to be on top of own wardrobe, paid for room didn't he? Only reasonable Norman lash out with Genuine Old Master showing Majorca at sunset. Man was desperate. As I informed magistrate, 'We did not splash three quid on priceless antique work of art just to have rotten fascist pig stick greasy head through it. ' 
Norman back now, got lice. Also had to share cell overnight with violent criminal, quantity surveyor from Wimbledon stay­ing at posh place in Palma on fourteen-day gin excursion, went mad when barman tried to close bar, bit barman's ear off. Disgusting putting my Norman in with him, Norman never ate anyone in his life.
Glad I brought up food. OhGod. 
Here I am, Auntie, back again! Where was I, oh yes, glad I mentioned food, food quite good, really, except too much paella, trouble with paella is you get shrimps in hair when face falls in it after third bottle, steak days are best except when they overcook it and you bruise your cheek. 
Went to see full bight last Monday where is my cigarette and sat in the sun with these gourds Norman bought where you have to squirt the wine into I KNOW I PUT MY BLOODY CIGARETTE DOWN SOMEWHERE where you have to squirt the wine into your mouth, only after the first couple of gourds Norman squirted it into ear of woman sitting' next to him, woman scream blue murders, Norman leap up, woman's husband leap up, sock Norman in his O JESUS AUNTIE PILLOW IS ON FIRE PILLOW IS BURNING, AUNTIE, AUNTIE, I MEAN NORMAN, NORMAN, PILLOW IS ON FIRE NORMAN. 
O GOD AUNTIE NORMAN IS ASLEEP ON LOO WITH SOMBRERO ON MUST CLOSE NOW BACK LATER. 
Back now, Auntie, it nearly dark, whole place smelling of foam. Not my fault, threw burning pillow off balcony, woman on balcony below leaning out drying hair in breeze, pillow land on head, hair flare up like chip-pan, woman shriek, people upstairs smell burning, call fire-brigade, fire-brigade come, no hydrant so attach pump to swimming pool supply, drain swimming-pool dry and find two English couples lying on bottom surrounded by bottles, police doctor say they dead two days. Funny thing, Norman wondered why conger line shorter than usual at El Wizzo last two nights.
Meanwhile man downstairs put wife's head out with fire-extinguisher, woman now not only burned bald but face all wrinkled up from chemicals and suntan fallen off, woman look like old golf ball. Husband ran upstairs, kicked in door, punched Norman in face, Norman fell off loo, now asleep in bath, so everything a bit calmer now.
Poor Norman, got black eye now to go with cauliflower ear received at bullfight after husband of woman with wine in ear sock Norman in his. Terrible blow, after that Norman see four bullfighters sticking four swords into four bulls every time he look.
Everybody know only two bulls and two bullfighters, clear as nose on thing. Two noses.
Anyway, Auntie, after bullfight met very nice English couple lying underneath charabanc, grocer from Birkenhead and lovely wife Arthur. All went out for dinner together, and Arthur danced in soup. 
Arranged to meet on beach next day, and great fun burying Norman, falling down in sea, throwing ice cream at boring Swede families, etcetera, until it was time for lunch. Invited couple back to our hotel for five or six bottles. Only when half­way through second course and Arthur asleep on butter dish that Birkenhead grocer suddenly start counting.
'What is it?' I ask him.
'What is two and one?  he reply. We think for a bit.
'Three,' I say finally.
'Thought so,' he comment. 'We never dug up Norman.' Rush back to beach, dragging Arthur by foot, Arthur's arms flailing about knocking things off tables as we cross dining-room, bloody lucky most diners asleep under tables, but one or two Germans, French, etcetera start kicking up fuss when chicken legs start falling in laps, screaming, shouting, terrible thing about foreigners, can't hold their drink. 
O GOD AUNTIE I AM SOBERING UP. IF NORMAN COMES ROUND AND FINDS ME HE WILL GO SPARE, HOLIDAY COSTING HIM FORTUNE HE SAYS, MUST DRINK TWELVE BOTTLES A DAY JUST TO BREAK EVEN, WHERE TELEPHONE, WHERE ROOM SERVICE? 
Hallo Mummie, Auntie, fat old cow, fancy giving us a wooden toast rack for a wedding present NO I DON'T BLEEDING FORGET EVEN IF IT IS TWELVE YEARS YOU FLY-BLOWN OLD RATBAG, feel a lot better now, nice bog bittle inside me, good idea having spiders walking all over the wallpaper, keep the flies off, especially green spiders, hallo green spiders wherever you are, I hope your troubles are few, all my good wishes go with you tonight, I was a spider, too, hee-hee-hee-hee-hee, O TOOTH ALMIGHTY I HAVE BROKEN A GOD ON THE BEDSIDE TABLE 
hallo norman
Norman did not want me to wake him up Auntie he has hit me with the bidet HOW DID YOU GET THE BIDET OFF THE WALL AUNTIE, NORMAN, BELOVED, HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO why are my slippers floating past? 
I have to close now Auntie, the manager has ordered a car to take us to the airport YES I AM REFERRING TO YOU YOU SWARTHY DAGO PIG I WOULDN'T STAY ANOTHER MINUTE IN YOUR BUG-RIDDEN RAT-HOLE FOR ALL THE TEA IN IN IN I DON'T KNOW WHERE SO STICK THAT UP YOUR CASTANET AND FLAP IT HAR HAR HAR 
You know what it is, Auntie, don't you, you know what it is all right, you know what it is with these bloody people, they're just a load of filthy anti-British bigots, that's what it is!
Hoping this finds you as it as it as it thing,
Your loving niece,
er,

Alan Coren, The Lady From Stalingrad Mansions (a book of his Punch pieces)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Admincle

Scots Law
document giving evidence as to the existence or contents of another, missing document.

RLS - Fables

FAITH, HALF FAITH AND NO FAITH AT ALL.

In the ancient days there went three men upon pilgrimage; one was a priest, and one was a virtuous person, and the third was an old rover with his axe.
As they went, the priest spoke about the grounds of faith.
“We find the proofs of our religion in the works of nature,” said he, and beat his breast.
“That is true,” said the virtuous person.
“The peacock has a scrannel voice,” said the priest, “as has been laid down always in our books.  How cheering!” he cried, in a voice like one that wept.  “How comforting!”
“I require no such proofs,” said the virtuous person.
“Then you have no reasonable faith,” said the priest.
“Great is the right, and shall prevail!” cried the virtuous person.  “There is loyalty in my soul; be sure, there is loyalty in the mind of Odin.”
“These are but playings upon words,” returned the priest.  “A sackful of such trash is nothing to the peacock.”
Just then they passed a country farm, where there was a peacock seated on a rail; and the bird opened its mouth and sang with the voice of a nightingale.
“Where are you now?” asked the virtuous person.  “And yet this shakes not me!  Great is the truth, and shall prevail!”
“The devil fly away with that peacock!” said the priest; and he was downcast for a mile or two.
But presently they came to a shrine, where a Fakeer performed miracles.
“Ah!” said the priest, “here are the true grounds of faith.  The peacock was but an adminicle.  This is the base of our religion.”
And he beat upon his breast, and groaned like one with colic.
“Now to me,” said the virtuous person, “all this is as little to the purpose as the peacock.  I believe because I see the right is great and must prevail; and this Fakeer might carry on with his conjuring tricks till doomsday, and it would not play bluff upon a man like me.”
Now at this the Fakeer was so much incensed that his hand trembled; and, lo! in the midst of a miracle the cards fell from up his sleeve.
“Where are you now?” asked the virtuous person.  “And yet it shakes not me!”
“The devil fly away with the Fakeer!” cried the priest.  “I really do not see the good of going on with this pilgrimage.”
“Cheer up!” cried the virtuous person.  “Great is the right, and shall prevail!”
“If you are quite sure it will prevail,” says the priest.
“I pledge my word for that,” said the virtuous person.
So the other began to go on again with a better heart.
At last one came running, and told them all was lost: that the powers of darkness had besieged the Heavenly Mansions, that Odin was to die, and evil triumph.
“I have been grossly deceived,” cried the virtuous person.
“All is lost now,” said the priest.
“I wonder if it is too late to make it up with the devil?” said the virtuous person.
“Oh, I hope not,” said the priest.  “And at any rate we can but try.  But what are you doing with your axe?” says he to the rover.
“I am off to die with Odin,” said the rover.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/343/343-h/343-h.htm

Two cheers forward, one cheer back

I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ooh, like that

"It's not necessary to hope in order to persevere.  It's the motto of William of Orange..."
 or
"One need not hope in order to undertake, nor succeed in order to persevere."
or
"Hope is not necessary to engagement, [...] nor success to perseverance."
or
“I can undertake and persevere even without hope of success" 
and at last
"the motto ascribed (probably incorrectly, according to historians) to the House of Orange in its seemingly endless and hopeless 100 year struggle for independence from Spain: “It is not necessary to hope in order to persevere.” 

Whatever.  Fun, tho. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

A streetcar named disappointment

Saw the National Theatre film of Streetcar, with Gillian Anderson.
To begin with something not at all her fault, she's too big for the role of Blanche. When she's fighting with Stanley, I'd give her odds.
And too old - or at least her sister was too young; you couldn't really bring them together under the same roof as children, chronologically.
Other difficulties were to do with the updating to the present day.  They didn't have a feel for the shifts in class labelling.  The most striking example was that during the poker games Stanley and his mates were drinking light beer.  And at the end the sixpack that Stanley brought in was imported beer - Heineken. Implausible today; impossible to imagine then. It changes the ambience destructively.
Again, Blanche and her sister had too few common class markings; hard to believe that someone brought up in Blanche's family would wear cutoff shorts, even when a class traitor marrying beneath herself.
 And if you update the time, you bring the homosexuality subplot into difficulties; people today would react differently to the crucial revelation.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Turing Detest

A discussion at The Conversation about the historicity of The Imitation Game.
Unfortunately, the article attacks the wrong inaccuracies.
(spoilers spoilers)
Alexander and Dennison are caricatured as vain and clueless when they weren't, but then everybody else is shown as useless too.  The distortions are all in the service of showing Turing as a superman, a saviour who has to do it all by himself with no help at all from any mere mortals.
For example, at the end the film talks of how a handful of codebreakers defeated the Germans and shortened the war, when
1) Bletchley was about 7,000 strong by the end,
2) Breaking code never defeated anybody (the Poles had done it, after all; didn't help them much)
3) The war would have ended roughly on the day it did whatever had happened before that, only it would have ended with an A-Bomb on Berlin rather than one on Hiroshima.
The most irritating thing, for me, because of its implausibility within the movie, was the business with Turing getting 100,000 quid from Churchill to build a computer.  Utterly impossible.  Once they had cracked the code and built a computer - collectively, not as a magic wand trick by Turing - Turing wrote to Churchill to get more funding for Bletchley, and was successful; but that was after it had been shown that the thing worked. The movie - and how well I know this mindset - demanded that there be a pivotal scene - one scene, not two or three - where
1) the machine worked,
2) the code was cracked, and
3) everyone admits Turing was right -
and that's impossible; until the code was cracked, you couldn't justify a machine.
Again, in the film the machine's breakthrough comes when a girl in the pub tells Turing that the Germans are sometimes less than rigorous in their procedures; when in fact that was exactly how the Poles broke it, and how the early codebreakers broke it, and how (see above) the codebreakers justified their call for a machine to speed it up.
Other than pedantry, why does this matter? Because it fuels the Great Man/superhero delusion, where one person can make a critical difference and you don't need millions of soldiers to fight and die. When, in fact, you often do.

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