Category: writing

Territorial twitchings

A fully-grown caddow can easily overcome and kill a chough or a magpie, but such contests are extremely rare in nature. Laplace cites only one instance (near Bruges, in 1911), and even then, experts doubt that it was really a caddow, but more likely a jackdaw, or perhaps even a burl-chough.

Of course, Laplace was known to be ‘a bit of a drinker’, and he had a whiskey nose that glowed at night, sending flocks of birds to panicked flight. He wouldn’t know a caddow from a burl-chough if they presented their business cards at the door. But I digress.

The jackdaw (Jackus dawus) is very territorial, and will defend its genetic investment to the death. In contrast, the burl-chough (Chuffus burlus) is not so tough and won’t engage in physical stough, though it has been known to mock the caddow’s tail in a good-humoured way. According to Pilbeam’s Birds of the Copse & Glade, the element “burl” in the name derives from the adjective “burly”, but this is juvenile and ridiculous.

You see, like Laplace, Pilbeam struggled for years with alcohol and drug abuse, and was often heard imitating the call of the woodspurl in the undergrowth at Balmoral. Allegations of pederasty against him were unproven at the time of his death (though there’s no smoke without fire). But I digress.

Bird fanciers are a race apart, united by a inexhaustible passion for ruffling feathers.


The right thing

I try to do the right thing
if the right thing can be done,
but knowing what the right thing is
bepuzzles everyone.

For instance, when my beldam slips
and falls in snowy weather,
should I laugh my ass off,
or run out to try and help her?

Cos if I run I might slip too,
— aye, there’s the rub! —
No, it’s best to laugh my ass off
from my seat inside the pub.

Nothing nouveau

Would you like a cooling sherbet
or a tangy ginger pop?
Just let me know your preference
before we leave the shop.

— I’d like a lemon twemlow
with a pecan glaze on top.
What chance of such a dainty
in this here common shop?

— You won’t find any twemlows here
(the shopman speaking now).
Sherbet and pop is where we stop
— twemlows is too highbrow.

— Oh let’s go elsewhere, Mater,
What an odious little man!
Let’s pootle round to Harrods
in our nouveau riche sedan.

And so la mere et fils depart
leaving shopman in perplexion:
‘Fie upon your twemlows,
and your nouveau riche confections.’


Eggs & class

Egg sandwiches are in demand
among the working classes.
I’m a salmon man, myself
— not for me the eggy gases.

Eggs are just so common,
every yokel has a yolk,
but only Scottish salmon
satisfies the arty folk.

Who dares to speak of eggs
when salmon is on offer?
Only feckless working yobs
with nothing in their coffer.


You’re the battery in my laptop,
the SIM card in my phone,
the bullet in my rifle,
and the all in all alone.

You’re the reason why I left you,
why I had to get away,
you’re the pain in my ass
that never goes away.

Move along

Move along now, hoi polloi,
there’s nothing to be seen:
the poet is composing
an Ode to Ballantine’s.

Move along, unlettered throng,
let the poet pen his song,
while you hustle with your bustle ordinaire.

Move along now, teeming masses,
rabble of the working classes,
and allow the poet to create his ode.

With your dull concerns and common cares,
you’ll never understand
why the poet has to sleep all day
with a bottle in his hand.



Let’s see if deep-fried macaroons
can tempt the bunman down.
He’s been holed up in the pantry
since he rampaged through the town.

‘Has all passion been exhausted?
Have you vented all your cream?
Must the inoffensive townsfolk
hide behind protective screens?’

— Just bring the goddam macaroons
and then I’m outta here!
And back off with the cochineal:
you’ve ruined my baking gear!

And so our tale draws to a close
(and not a jot too soon)
a tribute to the toothsomeness
of deep-fried macaroons.