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A Nonsense Blog: The Frivolous Cake And I

The Frivolous Cake and I

Nonsense. What does it mean? Often, very little. In an interview with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, back in the mid-nineties, they were talking about a song the band had just released, the lyrics of which were quite childlike. “What does it mean?” the interviewer asked. Grohl was blindsided by the question. “Ermm … nothing.” he mumbled shyly. Then the video. “What about that green orb zipping about?” “Uh … maybe it's, like, evil, destroyed by the, uh, power of rock?” Ultimately, the song received a lot of airplay.

The provenance of the sinnlos goes back through the Beatles and Dadaists, jazz and surrealism, Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake, probably more before them. Nonsense has some superb synonyms, many of which sound like gobbledygook themselves. Tosh. Balderdash. Piffle. Codswallop.

I am very much a beginner at this, a kid nodding out to a feedback soliloquy. Well, what's the point in that? Sometimes it just sounds good, different.

“If you please, sir – what is taint-brain?” enquired Echo of the peddler.
“Why, it's bottled daftness, miss,” he replied, “nothing more.”

How to write a song in the style of sixties English psychedelia: preface the hallmarks of parochial living with adjectives of modern confectionery: the liquorice people living fruit-pastille lives, lollipop ladies 'neath opal fruit skies.

What's that? Maybe nothing, maybe something. Hopefully a scene resplendent in colour.

~ * ~

The Joy Of Silliness

“Today I am fifty-one, fifty-one! And tomorrow I shall be nineteen, nineteen!”
– Juniper-Martha Faraday Foxtrot-Brown

Playing with the boundaries of the sensible can give a little insight into the mechanics of writing. At a writers’ meetup I said to one of the guys there that when I can't think of the right word, I make one up. I might also put in the wrong word, some random thing that pops into my head and which seems to fit. The guy nodded, and backed away. We’ve not spoken since.

A little daub of nonsense can brighten up a day, make it pop. Use sparingly.

~ * ~

“What does it mean? What does it mean?”
– Anonymous

My mind is a rather cartoonish thing. All sorts of pointless gizmos reside in there. It was an issue at school; my reports said things like “would achieve higher marks if only he'd stop daydreaming”. I tried to squash it out; really, I did. I adopted the poe-faced look of the serious worker. I chin-stroked and nit-picked and went 'harrumph!’, but in the end, all that nonsense – it was just too much fun.


True nonsense is a rare and precious thing. There are few who know how to do it right, fewer still who know how to recognise it. The world has gone cynical with its reading, everything being about metaphors, symbolism and meaning, no story for the sake of story. But it is the purveyors of nonsense, who are in possession of something greater than profound knowledge of extended metaphors; they are in possession of the ability to create wonder, whimsy, and marvel. In short, they have the inherent ability to create joy.

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