Saturday 24 January 2009

The one I do know is an old joke is '...with every packet'.

Good graffiti I've just seen:

In one hand: 'Free Palestine' 
Underneath: 'I'll see what I can do.'

Apologies if this is an old chestnut that's been around since Nigel Rees was a little boy, but it's new on me. Talking of the old chestnuts, though, I recently saw a van on which someone had written in the dust on the back 'Also available in white.' So what? Well, the van was blue. I can't decide whether this was a deliberate joke, or the act of someone so conditioned to write that phrase whenever he sees a dirty van he's lost any sense of what it actually means. It's funny either way, but different kinds of funny. 

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Things I would have done differently if I had been at Obama's inauguration.

  • If I were the crowd: Not clap a prayer. 
  • If I were the BBC's commentator: Not fade down the first three or four minutes of a new composition byJohn Williams played by Yo Yo Ma, Itzhac Perlman and two others I haven't heard of but should have, in order to bring us the urgent breaking news that William Henry Harrison died a month after his inaugural speech. In 1841. And then realise this choice of anecdote is a bit on the ominous side, and bumble on that: '...that won't happen here. But what will happen is that the crowd will look to the 44th president for lyrical words... like music... music as beautiful as we're listening to now.' We're not listening to it, though. We're listening to you. 
  • If I were John Williams: Not use the above-mentioned collection of talent to play variations on 'I Am The Lord of the Dance Said He'. Was he under the impression Obama was being inaugurated into the Brownies? Or did he just run out of time?
  • If I were Barack Obama: I might have had a bit of a crafty practice of the presidential oath. 
  • If I were Aretha Franklin: Bigger bow for my hat. Much bigger.

Good speech, though, wasn't it? 

Monday 19 January 2009

Luckily, I have never said anything stupid in an unguarded moment watching TV, so this is utterly fair game.

We are watching a programme about identical triplets. The whole programme has been about identical triplets. The particular set of triplets now on screen have just been talking about how they are so identical that when they had some professional photos done, it took they themselves a few moments to tell who was whom. 

The deep thinker with whom I am watching the programme speaks:

'The one on the left looks like [our friend] Sophie.' Thoughtful pause. 'They all look a bit like Sophie.'

To paraphrase Stephen Fry, I use the word 'thoughtful' there... quite wrongly.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

The White SIGN, yes.

Fair enough. I bow to Mr. Lark's professed thirst for stories about restless (or possibly undulating) cows; and hereby remove 'The Cow That Went In And Out' from my list of badly titled things. In its place, I nominate this house:

Other names on the owner's shortlist:
  • The Blue House
  • The Round House
  • The Invisible House
  • The Underwater House
  • The House That Went In And Out.

Thursday 8 January 2009

Three terrible titles I've seen this week.

1) Title for a story in the above-mentioned 50's children's storybook: 'The Cow That Went In And Out'. (Narrowly beaten into second place: 'The Dog Who Wore A Hat')

2) Title of a biography of P.L.Travers: 'P.L.Travers - Mary Poppins She Wrote'. Yes. Punning the similar-sounding words 'Mary Poppins' and 'Murder', there. I mean, I appreciate the author has a problem, in that everyone's heard of the book, and no-one's heard of the author, but maybe the best thing would have been to be bare-faced about it, re-order the words of the title, and call it 'P.L.Travers - She Wrote Mary Poppins'. 

3) Idi Amin's title for himself when president of Uganda: 'His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.' All the fishes of the sea, eh Idi? I'd better take you seriously then. 

Sunday 4 January 2009

Selected picture captions from a 1953 children's storybook I found today.

  •         'I say, Meg! You have let me down!' he said, under cover of Father's carving.
  •          He looked and looked and looked, for Sarah was such a funny shape!
  •          Wherever he went, everyone ran away.
  •          The proud snowman said 'No, I won't lend you my warm scarf.'
  •          But one day, when dinner had been a little less filling than usual, Christopher's Mamma addressed him in a new and serious way.
  •          Mimsy Poops tilted her white bud of a chin before going out.
  •          More photographs were taken, this time with Sarah sharing the cowologist's enormous umbrella.

I didn't have time to read any of these stories, unfortunately. Some I can make an educated guess at - I don't suppose any of us are in much doubt about how the proud snowman's scarf-sharing policy worked out for him. But which of us is bold enough to claim we can predict the proposal Christopher's Mamma is about to make; or explain just how Sarah (who was such a funny shape) even came to meet a 'cowologist', let alone share his enormous umbrella?

Thursday 1 January 2009

Pieces of Advertising Material That Have Recently Annoyed Me: Part Four of at Least Three.

This is an extraordinary one. The first time I saw this billboard, I literally spluttered. Yes, spluttered, like a man who has recently employed Frank Spencer to carry out a simple manual task, and has just returned to see what sort of a fist he's made of it. Sorry about the poor quality photo, but not as sorry as I am about the poor quality advert:

All together now: Yes it is! It is absolutely Christmas if it is not Young's. In fact I would go so far as to say it's not Christmas if it is Young's. Because Young's make Scampi Kievs!

Meals that are less Christmassy than Scampi Kievs: 
  • Gruel. 
  • Chopped liver and matzoh balls 
  • Fricassee of Rudolph.
  • That's it. 
Honestly, it's bad enough watching Magners try to convince us that cider is a drink particularly associated with every single season of the year, but this is worse. What interests and appalls me about it most is: who do Young's think they're going to convince with this hoarding? Who is so titanically gullible, and also so chronically insecure about getting Christmas right that they'll see this and think 'Oh no! I had no idea! I've got the turkey, the sprouts, the pudding, the brandy butter, and the mince pies, but I haven't got any Young's Scampi Kievs to put in the children's stockings! Christmas is ruined!' Presumably someone with absolutely no conception of what Christmas is, but who is very eager to appear as if they do. Is 'Third Rock From The Sun' still going? Those guys. That's who Young's are targetting this Christmas. I hope the strategy worked out for them.