Category Archives: Literature

Some American Presidents

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George Washington (1789 – 1797)
Washington was the first President of the United States and is said never to have lied through his wooden teeth. Which places him at variance with the majority of his successors, none of whom had wooden teeth but lied with great energy and imagination. As Washington was born prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the dates supplied above. For all I know, he may even still be alive and serving as an aide to the current incumbent.

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Thomas Jefferson (1801 – 1809)
Jefferson was the third President and one of the most important political figures in furthering the cause of popular music. Appointing George Clinton (b 1941) as Vice President undoubtedly gave rise to a surge in the popularity of Funk music. And the irony of his band name, Parliament Funkadelic Collective, was not lost on anyone, let me tell you.
If you are concerned that Clinton’s birth date is anachronistic, blame it on the bloody Gregorian calendar.

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Andrew Jackson (1829 – 1837)
The 7th President, Jackson is the one to blame for the formation of The Democratic Party. He’s also the first and only President to pay off the national debt. He did this by selling off hundreds of his slaves as well as his entire collection of George Clinton albums.
Jackson’s legacy is celebrated in Lonnie Donegan’s ‘The Battle of New Orleans’. Donegan, an itinerant musician, was Jackson’s Vice President from 1960 to 1964. (You know it. Gregorian lassitude once more)

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Zachary Taylor (1849 – 1850)
The 12th President was the son of plantation and slave owners. He joined the military and was soon killing hundreds of Mexicans and Native Americans. All of which made him the perfect candidate for the Presidency. However, with only a year under his belt, Congress urged action on slavery – and this caused Taylor so much consternation that he went on a nervous eating binge, so much so, that his stomach exploded in a fashionable restaurant. (It is now generally accepted that this incident was the inspiration for the Monty Python Mr Creosote sketch.)

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Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
The 16th US President, although a brilliant automotive engineer and the inventor of the Model T Lincoln, was extremely forgetful. Thought to be partly caused by hearing difficulties, (see picture) his transient amnesia resulted in him often not being able to remember where he lived. Consequently, his parents arranged for their Gettysburg address to be tattooed on his left forearm.
Lincoln’s success in the automotive industry led to a bitter rivalry with his main competitor, Henry Ford. On Good Friday, 1865, Ford invited Lincoln to his own theatre (Ford’s Theatre) where he was held down and the tattoo surgically removed. The dazed and confused Lincoln stumbled out into the Washington night, unable to remember where he lived, and was never heard from again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some English Monarchs – Part the Second

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Elizabeth 1 (1558 – 1603)
Last of the Tudor monarchs and known as The Virgin Queen due to her being an ancestor of Richard Branson. She succeeded her half-sister, Mary 1, who had died from consuming vast quantities of vodka and tomato juice in the company of the Russian ambassador.
Elizabeth wanted to extend English influence abroad and commissioned Sir Francis Drake to establish pirate radio outside the 3 mile limit. This really annoyed Philip of Spain who threatened to pull out of the Trade Agreement with England. So Elizabeth sent Drake to Cadiz to singe Philip’s bread. This really cheesed off Phil who told his admirals to launch the Armada against England. Unfortunately, things were done in such a rush that the galleons sailed without the stoppers in their bung holes and very quickly sank.
Elizabeth died without issue so they sent to Scotland for a distant rellie, Jimmy, to take over. Not such a good idea as it turned out. He had a bad attitude, razors in his boots and a passion for deep-fried Mars bars. Unforgivably, he also brought Charles 1 into the world.

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Charles 1 (1625 – 1649)
The first of the contrarian monarchs, Charles would argue with anyone about anything. He was, though, an elegant boxer and possessed a divine right. But his constant bickering and fighting were always going to lead to disaster. And so it proved when he insulted the House bully, Ollie, by calling him a ’roundhead’ (a crude reference to circumcision). This  led Parliament to order the cutting off of Charles’ moustache, an indignity from which he never recovered. The moustache is buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor alongside Henry VIII’s penis.

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George III (1760 – 1820)
The third successive George from the House of Hangover. (There are 3 movies about these monarchs – and like their subjects, each worse than the last) This George was absent-minded and managed to lose America. But he did beat Napoleon because he was reluctant to share his brandy – and when he did – passed it, incorrectly, anti-clockwise around the table. Succeeded by his son – you guessed it – George IV, of whom it was famously asked; ‘Who’s your fat friend?’

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Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901)
The only English monarch to be named after a railway station, Victoria continued the tradition of marrying a first cousin to ensure the incidence of imbecility in future generations so valued by the monarchy. She and her Consort, Prince Albert, who invented genital piercing for men, had nine children – all of whom married into other European royal families, thus ensuring that haemophilia research would always be well-funded.
Victoria’s reign was marked by the expansion of British rule and influence around the world. So much so that enormous warehouses were built to house the bounty of Empire. These buildings are called Museums.
Victoria was succeeded by her eldest son, Edward VII, who was the inspiration for JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ because he liked to have two breakfasts.

 

Some English Monarchs

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William 1 (1066 – 1087)
Bon viveur from Normandy, so incensed at the paucity of  tasty cheese across the channel, that he invaded England in order to remedy the situation. Fortunately for him and his following of lager louts, the day they arrived on the Sussex coast, the bloke in charge of the Home Guard, Harold somebody or other, was at Stamford Bridge watching an International between Denmark and Northumbria.
So William took charge, fixed the cheese situation, gave good jobs to his rellies and mates and even found time to write some lists of important stuff.  He was succeeded by his son, imaginatively named William II, (Also known as William Roofless because the Normans still hadn’t figured out how to put roofs on buildings) who, like his dad, didn’t bother with Wales.

NB  William 1 was also known as William the Concubine for reasons that remain unclear.

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Richard 1 (1189 – 1199)

Absentee landlord king who bore a striking resemblance to Sean Connery. Spent a lot of time in the Holy Land, slaughtering the locals who opposed his plans to establish a fast food franchise, The Salad Inn.  After that, he lounged around in an Austrian castle waiting for Blondie to turn up and whistle the right tune.
Succeeded by his slacker brother, John, known as Lacklustre, due to the dry, dull appearance of his hair which he could never do a thing with.

NB  Richard’s nickname ‘The Lying Heart’ is attributable to his propensity to take power naps at every opportunity. (See picture above) His last words, on 6 April 1199, were, ‘I’m just going to put my cardy on and have a lie down.’

 

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Richard III (1483 – 1485)

Top bloke. Having established his legitimate claim to a chocolate-making business in the so-called War of the Roses, Richard became President of the Yorkshire Rugby League (see picture) and also gained a reputation as a superb horseman – often jesting that he felt his horses to be more valuable than his kingdom.
But it all went wrong for Richard when his accountant, Henry Tudor, embezzled the Crown Jewels with the help of Stanley, the accounts payable clerk, and then mugged Richard in a Leicester car park when he discovered what they were up to. As he lay dying, Richard muttered the now immortal phrase, ‘Another fine mess you’ve got me into Stanley.’

NB  It’s not widely appreciated that Richard’s sobriquet, ‘Tricky Dicky’ was acquired by a far less worthy leader many years later.
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Henry VIII (1509 – 1547)

Homicidal maniac who succeeded to the throne when his lover, Catherine the Arrogant, slew his brother, Art, and his father, Henry, in a week-long ménage a trois of extreme sex and mummery. Henry later used this against Catherine and had her hung, drawn, quartered, beheaded and called lots of nasty names. Historians argue over how many wives Henry had but most of them were either murdered or paid off by his lawyer. Eventually, through misuse, all of Henry’s body parts atrophied and fell off. All that was left was a withered, blackened penis which is buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor next to Charles I’s moustache.

NB Despite everything, Henry was a gifted musician and won the 1518 Eurovision Song Contest for England with his ‘Sup Greensleeves?’

 

Braveheart – The Authorised Version

His question was impertinent
That is – it was not pertinent
But I answered it anyway, starting with a question of my own;
Maybe the question should be; Why is your hair not braided?
Do you think that what I have done is a tonsorial conceit?
Do you think that I seek admission to The Venerable Order of Hipsters?

Let me tell you that the Hipsters are not a war-like people
They will probably inherit the Earth
But my ancestors were indeed war-like. Bellicose. Martial
They were Celts, Gaels and Normans descended from Norsemen
They were Gallowglasses (Elite mercenaries. You can Google them up)
And they braided their hair for war

And my Caledonian and Hibernian forebears  fought many wars
Not just, as Mel’s Wallace did, against Edward’s armies
But later against Hanover and the Campbells
And across the Irish Sea, against Henry and John Lackland
Elizabeth, Gloriana, sent her pretty Essex
Churchill sent the fucking Black and Tans

And so I told him; It has a cultural context. Historical hubris if you like
I could have said I’m a muso and there’s an expectation….
I could have said I’m losing it on top and compensating…you know?
But the poet in my Celtic heart needs a badge of some faded glory
It needs free passage along the limbic channel to collective memory
Well, that’s my story to stick to. And it’s me that’s paying, boyo.

Splat

 

From Q to Il Papa (Fragment from an Imaginary Western)

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That’s some speech padre. But it won’t save you.
I don’t want to be saved, Manolito. Do what you have to.
That’s why I’m here. To do what I must. To finish what was started 20 years ago.
You want your revenge?
Not as simple as that, padre. Compensation, justice, release. Yes, most of all, release.
You want your release? You give me my release. The perfect deal.

His arid laugh was somehow a product of the border town’s inescapable dry heat as it echoed thinly around the adobe walls. Manolito, though, looked coolly at the old man. He had spent his pity long ago. At his core now was an implacable will – a longing to put right a great wrong. To restore some balance to this skewed and twisted part of the universe.

You have no remorse for the things you taught me to do? You have no sorrow for the lives you infected? You have no shame for the betrayal of your faith?
What good is innocence if it cannot be corrupted, Manolito? Temptation is not the province of the evil. It is the justification of innocence. That’s the true meaning of the gospels. Faith is cynicism dressed up by scholars. I am only a herald of the true apocalypse. An acolyte of the Day of the Dead.

Manolito drew his pistol and pointed it at the old man.

Then you won’t need any last words?
No. Adios cocksucker.

Manolito saw the blinding light from beneath the old man’s poncho and in that final, desperate instant knew the world’s fury. Understood the anguish of the departed.

Adventures With The Briscoes Lady

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As we sat on the terrace at Versailles and watched the fountains playing,  I glanced over at Tammy. She had never looked lovelier. Or happier. The early autumn sun, as it filtered through the sparkling fountain plumes, caught the highlights in her auburn wig and gave it hints of dying embers and Oloroso sherry. She caught me looking at her and then that cupid bow smile, the tilting of her firm jaw and those sparkling eyes announced that she was about to speak.
‘It’s gorgeous, isn’t it darling? And we got 30% off the whole trip in the sale.’
I nodded my agreement, content to look into those liquid brown eyes that had captivated the hearts and minds of so many retailers and customers over the last 25 years.
We both looked up as a footman, wearing the livery of the Bourbon regime, appeared and offered Tammy the autumn season catalogues of Galeries Lafayette, Monoprix and Printemps.
‘Merci’, she frothed at the man, tossing her head gaily, causing the wig to bob and shimmer as he retreated backwards, bowing as he went. We both noticed that the servant looked somewhat confused as he walked away – peering over the terrace wall as if looking for someone – and then back at Tammy. He stood motionless for a moment, then shrugged perplexedly before disappearing to wherever such people go.
Tammy sighed deeply. ‘I should have never agreed to that bloody voice-over transplant. He knew that wasn’t me speaking. He bloody knew.’
I summoned up my best comforting smile and kissed her lightly on the lobe of her left ear. I explained to Tammy that style icons, exemplars of wholesomeness, heralds of a consumer paradise – such as herself – would inevitably carry the burden of necessary artifice in order to satisfy the cravings of the hordes of television viewers who tuned in each day just so that they might see her and hear about the latest ‘specials’.
‘That’s all very well’, she ventriloquized, ‘but I can’t even remember what my real voice sounds like – I’ve been stuck with this call centre patois for so long!’
I placed my hands against her shoulders and pressed them reassuringly. I whispered my understanding and sympathy into her ear, once more lightly kissing that delicious lobe. Her agitation eased, the flame in her cheeks abated to its usual peach hue and her breathing became more even, more measured. She was back in control.
I chose the moment to remind Tammy that tomorrow was Mombasa and that she needed a good night’s sleep before the journey. I suggested that she might like to unscrew her right leg so that I could massage her stump before she retired for the night and she gave me that sincerest of smiles that had melted the hearts of so many in the last quarter of a century.
I’m a lucky fellow.

Widow’s Walk

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I knew her as Mrs Wraith. Winsome Wraith was her name. She came in the night while I slept and saw to it that I knew of her distress. It seemed to me that her great sorrow defined her existence rather more than her Nantucket provinciality. Living on an island that the native Algonquian people  called ‘a faraway place’ was one thing – but mourning for a man, a mysterious man, who had sacrificed himself to Mishibijiw, the Water Panther, was quite another.

Walter Wraith had courted and married Winsome Coffin in the summer of 1830. Walter was a newcomer and Winsome was old money. Her ancestor, Tristram Coffin, was one of the island’s original owners. A friend of John Smith’s. But Walter had a shaman’s ways and soon convinced his bride to fund the building from live oak of a 300 ton whaler, ‘The Starbuck’ – of which he would be the master.
How do I know this? Winsome has told me of it on those many occasions while I stared up at her from my narrow bed. Stared into those spectral, eternal eyes, framed by a glowing yellow moon. Listened as she paces around the belvedere at the top of the harbourside mansion where I have been transported in my dreams. Listened as she beats her breast and cries Walter’s name. Watched as she arches her body, thrusts back her head and entreats the moon, the unforgiving sea, the dissembling breeze to return her errant husband; restore him to her arms, to her cold bed.

And then she returns. Implores me. Holds out those wasted, pitiful hands. The anguish in her voice cannot be borne. She recounts once more the story of her lost child, William. She describes Walter’s despair. His rage. How he took ‘The Starbuck’ out into the fury of a New England storm. And how she is consigned now to stand duty each night, hopelessly staring at an unyielding horizon, waiting for her love’s return. Her only companion, her dead son, William.