1920 remembered

A galoot is dancing with a flapper at the luxurious Corona Ballroom in New York — music by Sid Stomp and his Orchestra.

Suddenly the music stops: galoot flies one way, flapper the other, at very high speed.

During the heyday of the Charleston, the Shimmy, and the Fox Trot, this was just one of many strategies for cooling ardour, dampening lust, and controlling the birth rate.

Neither the galoot (fractured skull) nor the flapper (internal bleeding) survived the incident. So you see — it worked.

Today we call it social distancing.


Big ol’ dream

In a broad slouch hat and dungerees
I made my way from Tennessee
to the red and throbbing heart of Big Ol’ World.

I’ve seen the cities and the sights
seen some good folks (and some shights),
but most of all I’ve seen my own reflection.

I should’ve stayed at home in bed,
with Shakespeare, and the rest I’ve read,
who tell me that it’s just a Big Ol’ Dream.



From early childhood, Melvyn Trib suffered from a negative self-image, until by pure chance he met Nyvlem Birt in the Hall of Mirrors, Daytona Beach, on 24 November 1935. The two became fast friends on the instant, and from that day forward, Melvyn and Nyvlem were inseparable. They married on the same day, had a son and daughter each, and both drove a Cadillac. Both enjoyed golf and movies, and agreed that Greta Garbo was over-rated.

Every year on 24 November, Melvyn and Nyvlem got together for dinner at the Peaspod Cafe, just by the Palindrome in Miami. After each annual dinner, they seemed to be energised, re-charged, and for weeks afterwards they regaled their respective wives with stories of amazing coincidences:

— You’ll never guess, Anna, but Mel bites his nails too!.

— You remember that tie you bought me last summer, the green one? Well, Ny’s got a tie too!’

That is, until their wives, acting independently, brought the affair crashing to a halt. Mel’s wife Anna threatened to sue for divorce on the grounds that her husband was ‘self-absorbed’. Ny’s wife Anna was more direct: she questioned their virility, and used some very derogatory terms. In a coda, she impugned the temperature of hell for being inadequate to deal with them.

So Mel and Ny moved in together, and never looked back, though they spent the rest of their lives reflecting.


Daily planner

I must remind old Millipede
that I won’t be here for tea:
I’m dining with the Duchess,
my car arrives at three.

I must remind old Shagpile
to put cushions underneath:
at my age being tossed about
could cost me all my teeth.

I must remind old Catflap
to fill the tyres with air:
at my age being tossed about
could cost me all my hair.

And I must remind the Duchess
I’ll be staying till next week:
at my age being talked about
is all the fun I seek.


Love in a time of virus

Oh Iris! I’m desirous
of your heaving pert bozoom!
I’ll swab your nether twemlow
with Dettol and a broom.

No more self-isolation!
I’m starting to go blind!
Come to me, my Iris,
let’s try it from behind.

Those dimpled cheeks beneath your mask,
bestir my heart to race!
though if I’m not mistaken,
you should wear it on your face.


Out to tea

‘Goodbye, cruel world!’,
said Twemlow, overwrought.’
‘It’s just my private cup of tea
— never thought that I’d get caught!’

Twemlow stood upon the bridge
and bared his manly chest,
then plunged his dagger in the cop
who tried to make arrest.

Twemlow leaped into the foam
— the sea was wild and swollen!
But all the while he tightly held
the panties he had stolen.

He crossed the sea with his cup of tea,
to the Land of Reconcillo,
where none would ever ridicule
his little peccadillo.


What the butler needs

My butler, Buttocks, came to me,
he coughed, he hemmed, he waited,
and when I’d finished Tatler

I said ‘You intoxicated?’
— Oh no M’Lud. You rang, M’Lud?

I didn’t ring.
— I heard the bell, M’Lud.

I didn’t ring.
— Ding ding, M’Lud, as clear as duty.

Time to retire?
— Oh no, M’Lud! I’m fit as a snail!

Ooze away then, Buttocks,
and wait until I hail.

I’ve sat on Buttocks all my life
— devoted, cringing chap.
He’s really quite supportive,
but sometimes needs a slap.


Pub quiz

1. What famous actor won gold at the Fox Tossing in Ulan Bator in June 1987?

2. Who said ‘Not now, Sylvia — the scallops aren’t fresh’?

3. In Palaeobathymetry, what is meant by the term ‘now and then’?

4. Who had a Number 1 hit in 1976 with ‘Always the Bridegroom, Never the Bride’?

5. If I have five stoves and two dishes, how many has Rev. Horace Carter of 13 Hanford St, London SE3?

6. Who was Head Chef at the Waldorf Hotel in Zurich during the Great Sandwich Boom of 1911?

7. Why is water so wet?

8. How many sides has an umbrella?

9. According to ‘The Ballad of Stillwater County’, how many goats did Chesapeake Nolan meet at Ottomanopotomac Bridge on his way to the courthouse in Smallweed?

10. Who was the first postman to deliver a baby?


Christmas giving

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. 

What a delightful jingle! Don’t you agree?

And in keeping with its theme of increase or gain, I’d be grateful if you’d augment the old man’s hat to the tune of a penny.

Feel free to correlate the ‘old man’s hat’ with the ‘goose’ in the jingle, specifically in terms of ‘getting fat’ (remember the theme of increase, gain, etc).

Of course, if you’re unable to comply with that request on a strictly quid pro quo basis, please be assured that a halfpenny would do, in lieu.

And if you haven’t got a halfpenny, f—k you.


An examined life

I gave my love a sublethal dose
— that was my first mistake.
My second was using tributinol
past its sell-by date.

But I do enjoy a challenge
and I’ve learned from all my loves.
Next time I will be more prepared
(memo: rubber gloves).

I’ve always been too timid,
especially in romance,
so yes,  my love, I’m grateful
for this second, final chance.

Afternoon a-swoon


Let’s see if Captain Manson
has the sense to keep his pants on
when the ladies come for tea and macaroons:

Oh there he goes again!
Captain Manson! when oh when
will you learn to stir the teapot with a spoon?

— It’s how we did it in the war,
no fancy silverware,
and it helped to galvanize the whole platoon.

The ladies aren’t impressed
by your military prowess,
now please reinstate your khaki pantaloons.

— O very well, Mein Führer,
I bow to your command
— but you didn’t say that on our honeymoon.


To a barman

Oh leave your door ajar for me,
I so adore your jars!
Oh won’t you pour a jar for me
in this, your jarry bar?

You’re barred!

But we’re so alike, you and me:
we both like me and I like both,
so won’t you bide a while with me?
I can’t abide your jarring note.

You’re BARRED!

Why come across so cross tonight,
and why be so aloof?
Why not cross the bar-room floor
and pour me a vermouth?


— I won’t leave my door ajar for you,
you’re barred from this day out!
It jars with me to look upon
your jargonizing snout.

How say you ‘jargonizing’,
my barry jarry man?
I’ve seen you bargainizing
with drug dealers and their clan.

— We have a quite extensive range
of beers and fine elixirs:
please take your time to choose one,
and I won’t charge for the mixer.

You’re such a jarry barry man,
as jarry as the rest.
And now it’s time to name the game:
a writ for your arrest.


Love songs

‘Love is all around us,
it’s all you’ll ever need.’
If anyone believes that,
I think I’m gonna heave.

Tell that to the preacher
who’s been peddling it for years;
he shouts it from the pulpit
to drown out children’s tears.

Tell that to the beldam
who’s been battered and abused.
Yes, love is all around us
— it’s a heartless, cruel excuse.


Chester Field is very old,
as old as Otto Man,
dust beshrouds old Chest O’Drawers
and Con Sole leans on old Di Van.

Patti O’Table’s looking gaunt,
as gaunt as E.Z. Chair.
Davin Port is bowed with age,
but Sy D’Board props him up with care.

There’s camaraderie in old age,
as the heartwood turns to dust.
Arm-in-armoire, on we go:
sofa, so good — but only just.


I used to dream that we would walk together
hand in hand — just once —
around the streets of my home town,
where people who knew me could see us together
and say: ‘Look who’s back! He used to be so quiet!’

I’d just carry on walking, holding your hand,
showing you the places that meant a lot to me:
my old school, the single pine tree on Cullen’s Hill,
the abandoned mill where I used to hide, to read.
It never happened, of course,
and maybe it was selfish of me.

Tourists welcome!

Imbibe the blissful eglantine
that doth bedeck the walls
of country cots and beauty spots
from Inse to Anascaul.

Then get back on your bus again
with other pleasure seekers,
who see the world through cameras
and smell of year-old sneakers.

Don’t feel you have to hurry
Oh no! The reverse!
But if you hang about too long
we’ll kick you in the erse.

Don’t feel that you’re not welcome
Oh no! Au contraire!
Just don’t annoy the locals
or you’ll fly home Coffin Air.

When doctors have kids

‘Come along, children — we’re leaving now. Malaria! Stop teasing Hepatitis and get in the car. Melanoma, gather up your things, dear. You can sit in the front with me, Polyp. You’re a big boy now, aren’t you?

Now fasten your seat belts, everyone — we don’t want cerebral haemorrhages, do we?’

— Are we there yet?

— Are we there yet?

— Are we there yet?

‘No, not yet. That would be a misdiagnosis of what may turn out to be a fairly protracted gestation period.’

— I want the toilet!

‘But I told you to go before we left Grandma’s!’

— Yes, but I’m detecting strong afferent signals in my sacral preganglionic neurons. Does that not indicate that micturition is imminent?

‘Oh alright! Polyp, hand your sister the pisspot.’


Light averse

Heavenly bodies up above,
please attend and hark:
I like your sense of duty,
but I also like the dark.

So thank you, Sun, for rising
— your timing’s really ace —
but if you don’t go back to bed
I’ll slap your stupid face.

And thank you, Moon, for rising
— your timing is top-notch —
but if you don’t put out the light,
I’ll kick you in the crotch.