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  1. #81
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    FACE TO FACE

    It has happened at last. Professor Ovis Jopp, the lean, seven-foot-two, green-bearded ‘Sage of Trondheim’ and his foremost detractor, the five-foot-four tall, five-foot-four round, tressless ‘Swedish Savant’, Dr Terps Dunderklap have had their first meeting since childhood. What a battle! There was never much doubt that the two men so often described as the Northern Lights would put on a spectacular show, but probably few guessed correctly how events would unfold.

    Long before it took place, the encounter was attended by problems, among which was the question of venue. Jopp was unwilling to visit Sweden, while Dunderklap was adamant about not appearing in Norway. Denmark came to the rescue by offering a space in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. Then there was the issue of a moderator. Jopp proposed his old friend Sir Dudley Stroan of Cambridge. Dunderklap countered by suggesting Dr Margaret Transpond of Harvard. It was finally agreed that, as both principals were born in Holland, a Dutch person would be appropriate. The job was accepted by the renowned palaeontologist, Ruud Djestiurs of Rotterdam.

    A last-minute obstacle arose when the tee-total, non-smoking Dr Dunderklap objected to Professor Jopp’s insistence on availing himself of his well-known greengage wine and green seaweed cigars during the event. This was settled by an agreement that the gladiators would sit a minimum of four yards apart.

    Those expecting a joust in the outer realms of science were doomed to disappointment, perhaps in part because a jarring note was struck at the outset by the master of ceremonies, who said he did not anticipate difficulties, as he was accustomed to dealing with fossils. That this attempt at light-heartedness discomfited the two behemoths of badinage was clear from their body language.

    Owing to frequent audience participation, a totally accurate record of the verbal exchange that followed cannot be presented. Perhaps the best course is to recount what was audible, omitting interruptions. This is done below, as far as possible verbatim, beginning with the professor’s opening comments:

    Jopp: The Sap of Stockholm and I have exchanged words only once since our formative years. That was when he phoned my secretary, demanding words with me. I gave him two, and there are no prizes for anyone guessing which ones they were. I suppose the reason why he persists in assaulting me is that he is resentful because, to use a stellar analogy, I outshine him by several orders of magnitude. Possibly the best comparison would be to think of us as featuring in the Hertzsprung-Russell star diagram, in which I would appear in the top right-hand quadrant – the supergiants – while Dundles would be at bottom-left, among the other dwarfs. Still, even such a body must have shone at some time, so maybe it is better to be a has-been than a never-was. As I recall it, the charmless cherub did once achieve fleeting notoriety by destroying his school classroom during one of his unfailingly catastrophic experiments. Pick the bones out of that, Your Hairlessness.

    Dunderklap: This is a no-brainer, so will be about right for my supposed adversary – I cannot call him a genuine opponent, for to reach that state he would need to rise unimaginably from his present level. As for his invariably disastrous efforts in his laboratory, let me say that Jopp got the green tint in that silly beard as a result of his farcical dalliance with what he mistakenly regards as science. The visier of vacancy remains in denial, refusing to accept my superiority. Mercifully, I have to think of him only once in a while, and when doing so, I usually also call to mind the famous comment that genius involves 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Jopp has surely raised the latter figure to 100%, thus eliminating the former. By the way, I recall that his parents considered naming him Zeno, after the Greek gentleman famous for propounding paradoxes. That would have been fitting, as the riddle in this case is how Joppie managed to avail himself of the highest level of tuition, from which he emerged as a mental vacuum. My point, I think.

    Jopp: The malignant microbe excels himself. He constantly snaps at the heels of his betters – how numerous they are – but never reaches their throats. Hardly surprising, as the poor fellow’s physique precludes him from eyeball contact with anyone of normal size. When called upon to refute the assertions of this querulous quack, I also call to mind the Arabian Empty Quarter. Compared with what takes place between the ears of the poisonous pygmy, that area is a hive of activity.

    I am told that Dundie the Dismal has a laboratory. Pardon my sniggers, but he needs that like a Trappist needs a telephone. I don’t wish to make a habit of descending to his level, but as he has alluded to percentages, I can’t resist mentioning the recent findings suggesting that we humans share most of our DNA with chimpanzees. Klappers may well be unique in having chalked up the whole lot. Incidentally, he is wrong about my name. My parents were not thinking of Zeno of Elea – the paradox man – but Zeno of Citium, founder of the stoic school, and goodness knows I need all the stoicism I can muster when dealing with the puerile pest here. Also, if Dunno were right about my education and its outcome, that would be an irony, not a paradox. Another foul-up for the uncrowned king of the faux pas.

    Dunderklap: Jopples is as arrogant as ever. He has more snot than a schoolboy’s coat sleeve. I don’t wish to go over old ground, but note that he recently spent some time addressing the vanishingly small. That seems appropriate, as it is a fair reflection of his mentality. Regarding the ridiculous jopposcope he claimed to have invented, I have proved to my satisfaction that ordinary electron microscopes, if connected cleverly enough – perhaps I am alone in being able to do this – produce perfect results, while avoiding the huge distortions inherent in Jopp’s absurd device. Incidentally, I find it quite amusing that he is always telling us that he needs to make further adjustments to his various gizmos and supposed findings. He reminds me – in that respect only – of Leonardo da Vinci, in that he has more unfinished work than a convention of builders. This is just a throwaway line, of which I have many. Are we now at forty-love to me? I am losing count.

    Jopp: There is no need for the mobile misery to keep score, as the result was always a foregone conclusion. I don’t care to speak ill of the brain-dead, but if this mordant mole insists on exhuming our past differences, I cannot avoid thinking of his recent comment about the disparity between our IQs. I concede that he may be right about a difference of 250 points. If the scale goes up so far, I will accept a figure of 300 in my case. This would place Dr Dummkopf at 50, and considering that the norm is 100, that would make him a half-wit. This seems reasonable. He may have occasional synaptic flickers, but they are similar to the death throes of certain heavenly bodies, which usually shed a little light over a limited area. In case he fails to get the point, this is a compliment of sorts – goodness knows he could use one.

    Dunderklap: The mindless mountebank is always offensive. However, as he has accorded me a little backhanded flattery, I will do the same for him. When he visited California a short time ago, I referred to him as the true San Andreas Fault. I now retract that remark, as it is clear that whatever may be produced by the geological feature concerned could not cause anything like so much damage as would result from the adoption of even the least maniacal of the jopperator’s demented ideas. I accept that he is a man of letters, the first ones that occur to me being d-o-p-e. Game, set and match, is it?

    Jopp: Ah, all bitter and twisted, are we? I hardly need to defend myself against so feeble a foe, but the odd joppservation would not come amiss. It is strange to think that in his adolescence, the dunce of dunces had the makings of a physicist’s gofer, but he was deluded all along in considering himself a man of science. That was pure wishful thinking. When one considers the places where he is usually found by the media – I mean the precincts of exclusively female establishments – one cannot but regard him as an actual or a potential flasher. In fact I once sent him a dirty raincoat, but he didn’t get the message and never thanked me. I suspect that pipette is a word he associates with someone he might find in a dance hall. Frankly, I have lost patience with Dunderpate and any day now I shall drop-kick him into orbit.

    Dunderklap: My self-appointed peer – surely no-one else could classify him as such – has an ego the size of all outdoors. It would save us all much trouble if he were to take on some mundane task. Just to protect everyone, I nominate him for the job of repointing the Great Wall of China. That would allow him to develop his crazy ideas without threat to the rest of us. He is bad enough with pencil and paper, so let us hope he never lays hands on a slide rule, let alone an electronic calculator.

    Jopp: My less than learned friend – if I may corrupt the language of barristers – continues to disappoint us. He is a legend in his own mind. Having no taste for trading insults, I wonder why he abuses me so. Possibly the reason is his failure to match my feats. His first love was local astronomy. He should have stuck to that, as he has such a predilection for moonshine. Regarding his fatuous attacks on my work, I catch them like a ten-armed goalkeeper. By the way, Dumbcluck got his toy degree from one of those universities which bestow their accolades without requiring anything as inconvenient as study. I speak of Bachelors of Bunkum, Masters of Mendacity and Doctors of Dissimulation. A month’s national average income in these parts is about the going rate for the title of one’s choice.

    Dunderklap: How sad that my antagonist cannot raise his game. As ever, his main handicap is lack of cerebral candlepower. I do not share his love of vilification, so with regard to our respective merits as scientists, I am content to let the public judge.

    J: And so it shall, you imposter.

    D: Humbug.

    J: Cad.

    D: Bounder.

    J: Blockhead.

    D: Ninny.

    J: Dolt.

    D: Booby.

    J: Numbskull.

    D: Jackass.

    J: Loony.

    At this point, the war of words and the attempts at mediation by the much-harried Ruud Djestiurs became unintelligible. A further confrontation seems unlikely, though the above-mentioned Ms Transpond has offered her services, on the basis that female intervention may impart a certain ameliorative influence.

    These are dark days for science.

    * * *
    Last edited by Courtjester; May 21st, 2015 at 02:12 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
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  2. #82
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    SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT

    A: You seem to be undecided, madam. Are you looking for somebody?

    B: No, I was seeking an empty seat. This is the only one. May I join you?

    A: Delighted. I always think it’s a little dreary to dine alone on long rail journeys, especially at the last sitting. Perfect timing, too. I was just about to order. Heard someone say the steak’s good, so I’ll try it. A rare one for me.

    B: I’ll have the same. Remarkable enough that these people offer so varied a menu, but the inclusion of rarities is astonishing.

    A: Er, perhaps so. Fairly comprehensive wine list, too. I suppose one should opt for burgundy, but I have a weakness for claret, so I’m going that way.

    B: Claret, you say. I’m more inclined to Bordeaux, but I will accept your choice.

    A: Excellent. One shouldn’t be too fussy. My name is Spond, Shane Spond. Let us dispense with formalities. Call me Shane.

    B: Pleased to meet you, Mr Spond. Legova, Major. I agree that we should not stand on ceremony. My forename is Puttya. You may use it.

    A: Puttya Le . . . yes. The pleasure is mutual, Major. An army officer, are you?

    B: I was for some years, but not now. The title keeps slipping out. It’s a habit. Excuse my saying this, Mr Spond, but I have a strange feeling of having come across your name somewhere, and your face seems familiar, too. But then, one sees so many dossiers and photos. No doubt I am mistaken.

    A: Most likely. I keep a low profile. Don’t believe I qualify for being on record anywhere. However, it’s funny you should say what you did. I have the oddest sensation that the same applies to both of us. It’s probably just one of those things, but somehow your appearance rings a bell, and as to names, yours has a vague resonance with me.

    B: I cannot imagine how or why. I also fly below the radar. Perhaps we’re thinking of two other people. Forgive my curiosity, Mr Spond, but you give the impression of a businessman. What line are you in?

    A: Nothing glamorous. I’m a kind of agent. Ordinary bricks and mortar stuff.

    B: Ah, construction, is it?

    A: Actually, it’s the reverse, but really quite mundane.

    B: Demolition? Fascinating. I once saw a TV programme about that. All shaped charges and dropping of lofty buildings so that they cover only their own footprints. Is that what you do?

    A: Well, you could say that I deal with bod . . . er . . . objects taller than they are wide and that covering footprints is important to me at times. However, my efforts are not very refined. You could call me an animated wrecking ball. I’m sure your work is more interesting than mine.

    B: Hardly, though I too am an agent. I deal in metal products. High-velocity things, mainly steel and lead. It’s simply a question of knowing who has something to sell and who wishes to buy it. I’m sometimes jokingly referred to as a loose cannon.

    A: Dear me. Wrecking balls and loose cannons, eh? A detached observer might regard us as a destructive pair, wouldn’t you say?

    B: Possibly, but I’m sure neither of us has anything negative in mind at present.

    A: I sincerely hope not. A laughable idea.

    B: Pardon me again, but I must say you seem to be staring at me. Is something disturbing you, Mr Spond?

    A: Shane. I am the one who should be begging forgiveness. It’s just that you have striking eyes. A man could get lost in them, Major.

    B: Puttya, please. Yes, my eyes are said to be compelling. Look into them, Mr Spond. Take your time. Lose yourself. Eyes are magnetic. Eyes are entrancing. They’re rather like mirrors. What do you see in mine?

    A: Right now, the reflection of a man with two knives coming up behind me. What do you say to that, Major Legova?

    B: He also has forks and spoons, Mr Spond. He’s our waiter.

    A: Ah, I see. May I inquire where you are going, Major?

    B: Pest!

    A: Sorry, I didn’t mean to be. Just making conversation.

    B: You misunderstand me, Mr Spond. I was referring to Pest as in the second part of the Hungarian capital. Buda and Pest are really twin cities, you know.

    A: Of course. Silly of me. Maybe I was still fixated with your eyes. Noir de noir is the phrase that occurs to me, though possibly I’m thinking of French chocolate, or is it Belgian?

    B: I’m not sure, but let us pass on. Where are you going, Mr Spond?

    A: Shane, to you. I’m heading for Munich. Come to think of it, I’d better get stuck into the groceries soon – we’ll probably be there any hour now. In fact we’re slowing down. I hope I haven’t ordered too late. Where are we, Major?

    B: Puttya, Mr Spond. You’re all right for a while yet. We’re coming into a place called München. All built-up areas look the same, don’t they?

    A: Indeed they do. Thank goodness I can relax. I hate bolting my food.

    B: You can take it easy this time. May I ask what firm you are with?

    A: Oh, only a small one. It’s called Emmeyesics.

    B: Eyes again. You seem to have a thing about them.

    A: Pure coincidence. The name was computer-generated. One day there’ll be a bungle and something resembling real life will crop up. How about you?

    B: At present I’m contracted to an international charity named Sceptre – special counter-something or other. I have trouble remembering these long titles. Earlier, in my home country, I was with another bunch of do-gooders called the Konkordat for Gratuitous Benevolence. They dream up the silliest names, don’t they?

    A: Embarrassing, isn’t it? Perhaps our masters employ consultants to devise acronyms, then find words to fit the letters. I often think the whole thing verges on skulduggery.

    B: You know, it seems ridiculous, but I get the same idea now and then. An element of hocus-pocus, Mr Spond?

    A: Shane, if you will. And you’re right. Anyway, let’s put work aside and consider ourselves strangers on a train. Do you like Tchaikowsky, Major?

    B: Make it Puttya. You speak of one of my favourite compatriots. His sixth symphony is divine. And you are right, too. We’re ships that pass in the night.

    A: My own number one is Flight of the Bumblebee. How are you disposed to Ripya-Korsetoff, Major?

    B: Enthusiastically, but I think the composer you have in mind is Rimsky –

    A: Yes, of course. Slip of the tongue – Freudian perhaps.

    B: Possibly. However, I just melt at the very mention of his name, James.

    A: It’s Shane. Let’s forget Munich and get stuck in – I mean to the food, Katya.

    B: Puttya. Agreed. I’m insatiable – with regard to steak, that is. It gives strength, and who knows what the evening will hold. Bon voyage, so to speak.

    * * *
    Last edited by Courtjester; April 16th, 2016 at 07:07 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
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  3. #83
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    There will be a hiatus, we hope a brief one, in Madazine offerings. The fact is that we have quite a few more items to present, but I must confess that they were mislaid some days ago. Our reporter, Trixie Larkspur, has volunteered to ransack the building and is confident that she will bring home the bacon. Editor


    Last edited by Courtjester; May 28th, 2015 at 01:36 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  4. #84
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    Sorry to report that we are still marking time here, as our gallant Trixie Larkspur has not yet found the mislaid items mentioned our last posting. Editor
    Last edited by Courtjester; May 26th, 2015 at 02:21 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  5. #85
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    I'm pleased to report that our intrepid Trixie Larkspur has finally found the missing Madazine items. We shall start presenting them immediately, commencing with the next posting, Kleptomania. Editor.
    Last edited by Courtjester; May 26th, 2015 at 02:30 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  6. #86
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    KLEPTOMANIA

    “Excuse me, sir. I wonder if you’d care to accompany me to my office at the rear of the store?


    “Why?”

    “Please, sir. We don’t want to make a fuss outside the premises, do we?

    “I didn’t realise we were outside them.”

    “We are. Furthermore, if you turn round, you will note that the store manager and his assistant are blocking your geta . . . er . . . proposed departure. If you’ll follow me, I’m sure this matter can be settled without undue unpleasantness. Please?”

    “ Proposed departure, eh? Nice one. All right. Obviously I can’t get out. Lead on.”

    “Here we are. Do take a seat, sir. Good. Now, perhaps you would hand me the book in the left-hand pocket of your anorak . . .. Thank you.”

    “What’s all this about?”

    “I don’t think it’s new to either of us, sir. I have reason to believe that you attempted to take this item without paying for it.”

    “Nonsense. It belongs to me. Has done for years.”

    “Then perhaps you could explain why it bears the stamp of this shop.”

    “Of course I can. I bought it here, ages ago. I’ve read it umpteen times.”

    “So, you’re familiar with its contents?”

    “Certainly. By the way, I got it from your second-hand shelf. That’s why you can see the pencilled note on the title page – ninety pence.”

    “Yes, sir. Of course, that could have been written by anybody at any time. However, supposing I accept your explanation, I assume you won’t mind a little test?”

    “I don’t seem to be in a position to mind. What kind of test?”

    “Well, let me ask you first whose face appears on the front cover?”

    “That’s Albert Einstein.”

    “Very well. Now I’ll dip in and we’ll see what happens. Here we are on page forty-three. There’s a sub-heading in italics. Can you tell me what it says.”

    “Er, forty-three. Yes. Its ‘The Great Dilemma’.”

    “Hmn. A little hesitant, but correct. Do you have a photographic memory, sir?”

    “No, I just know the book. Can’t you grasp that simple fact?”

    “No need to get excited, sir. Now, page one hundred and twenty-one. What can you tell me about this?”

    “One twenty-one eh? It’s all diagrams. No text as such. Does that get me through my A-levels?”

    “Facetiousness won’t help you, sir. Now, how about page one hundred and fifty-seven?”

    “There isn’t one. The book has a hundred and forty-two pages.”

    “Good. Now, page eighty-seven. There’s a formula. Can you recite it?”

    “No. That’s the very thing I’m wrestling with.”

    “Ah, having a little trouble with our numeracy, are we? Or is the total recall slipping? Now look, son, this isn’t my first case and probably not yours. You stole this book, right?”

    “Oh, first it’s the steely glare and ‘sir’, then it’s the wheedling tone and ‘son’. Good cop, bad cop, eh? Must be awkward, as there’s only one of you. Do you practise in a mirror?

    “Very flippant. However, this will go better if I ask the questions.”

    “Sorry, Sergeant – I’m assuming you did get beyond point duty.”

    “My past is of no concern to you, but I’ll admit to having felt a few collars in my time. However, if you intend to pursue this line, I would appreciate your avoiding references to ‘plod’ or ‘flatfoot’.”

    “I’ll try, but your provenance sticks out a mile.”

    “Now see here, son . . . er . . . sir, your attitude is doing you no good. As security manager of this store, I have wide discretionary powers to – ”

    “Hang on a minute. Manager, you say. How many staff do you have?

    “None. I’m the department.”

    “Well, well, a manager with no subordinates. Seems just a bit highfaluting, if you ask me.”

    “I didn’t ask you and audacity won’t improve your position. Anyway, you’re not threatening enough to be cheeky. Five-seven and ten stone, I’d say.”

    “About that, but I’m agile. And you seem to be going astray. I mean, your words appear to imply possible violence. Not very PC for an ex-PC. I thought you left duffing up suspects to the Special Branch or some other murky crowd.”

    “Never mind that. Let’s consider the way you acquire your reading material. Does that extend to your groceries? Nick a few goodies here and there, do we?”

    “For goodness sake, I didn’t steal the wretched book. What’s amiss with you? No, don’t tell me. You’re on piecework, right? Need to get a minimum number in a given period, irrespective of guilt or innocence? Yes, that must be it.”

    “Calm down. Look, we’re not in the Dark Ages. We know that kleptomania is a disease. You’re not facing a stretch in the pokey. Well, maybe not. Just confess and we can move on.”

    “Not a chance, Sarge. Even if you start on my fingernai . . . hey, what’s that din?”

    “It’s a fire alarm. Well, this seems to be your lucky day. I’m not allowed to detain you in these circumstances. Get going, quick . . . that’s right. Oh, before you close the door, just satisfy my curiosity – no strings attached. You did it, didn’t you?”

    “Yes. Pinched it last year. Forgot it was still in my pocket. ’Bye.”

    * * *
    Last edited by Courtjester; May 26th, 2015 at 01:57 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
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  7. #87
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    Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year
    From the Madazine Team:

    Will Rider-Hawes, Editor
    Tom Bola, Sub-editor
    Trixie Larkspur, Reporter
    Meya Culper, Proof-reader
    Phyllis Tyne, Typesetter
    Bella Donner, PR Officer
    Rick O’Shea, General Admin
    Sherry Tipple, Cleaner
    Axel Griess, Occasional Contributor

    * * *

    Last edited by Courtjester; May 21st, 2015 at 02:15 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  8. #88
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    Our boss is away for a couple of days. He has a habit of noting down little episodes from his personal life and I’ve just found one of them atop the filing cabinet in his office. As I’m doing locum duty for him, I’ll slip it in here. Tom Bola, Madazine sub-editor

    RUBBER DUCK

    My wife and I normally have an almost entirely vegetarian diet, but we depart from this on Christmas Eve. For three years we had cooked chicken from the local supermarket. This time we fancied something different. There are several Chinese and Indian restaurants and take-away places within easy walking distance of us, so I picked up a menu from each of them and we drooled over the offerings, finally deciding on one of the most expensive dishes from the largest Indian establishment – £11.45 a head.

    It was a memorable occasion. Panting with anticipation, we laid out the repast, described as a Chefs Special – succulent pieces of prime duck, cooked in a delicious sauce, with rice and a selection of vegetables. The rice passed muster, but the vegetables comprised five large chunks of boiled potato, plus about an ounce of grated onion and a tomato, both raw, per portion. However, it was the duck that gave us the most entertainment.

    We sawed and tore quietly at our few bits of this alleged fowl for a few minutes before I broke the silence by remarking that it seemed like something left over from the Indian Mutiny, and that it might well have been called Gandhi’s Revenge. I also ventured the suggestion that it had possibly been supplied by the Worshipful Society of Cordwainers, or in view of the price, perhaps by Lobb of London. Picking up on the leather analogy, my better half, glumly stirring the brown sludge in which our web-footed acquaintance had been presented, countered with observations featuring the names Gucci and Prada.

    At length I concluded that we were on the wrong track with regard to texture. The only similar thing I had ever previously encountered came into my life about sixty-five years ago, when my father bought me a tiny plate of whelks from a stall in Scarborough. There were four of the creatures. The three small ones I coped with passably well, but the fourth was a monster. I chomped on it for half an hour as we walked from North Marine Drive to the south shore, then for a further hour as we sat through a brass band concert. At last I dropped it, scarcely reduced in size, into a drain. I’ve never tried to eat a whelk since then.

    Now back to our meal. Battling on, my wife asked whether we were attacking Bombay duck. I pointed out that that delicacy is a fish, and that there was nothing piscatorial about our treat, save that the description was more than slightly fishy. After about twenty minutes of gallant effort, we gave up and dumped everything we had left -most of what we started with * into the brown bin. As we are not in the habit of wasting food, this went down badly, but I think we avoided a touch of Delhi belly.

    I’m not normally a griper, but I phoned the restaurant to voice displeasure. “Goodness gracious me (or words to that effect),” said the manager. We have been selling that dish for eight years and have never had a complaint until now.”

    “I’m not surprised,” I snapped. “We’re probably the first survivors. Where do you get your duck?”

    “From the very best sources,” he said.

    “I’ll bet,” I retorted. “My guess is that you’re speaking of Goodyear or Pirelli.” That was lost on him. “I do not understand,” he replied, then the line went dead.

    * * *
    Last edited by Courtjester; May 21st, 2015 at 02:16 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
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  9. #89
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
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    TEST MATCH EXTRA SPECIAL

    We’re now able to return to Lord’s, where a resumption of play in the test match between England and Australia is imminent. Your commentators are Andrew Kipp, Tim Winter, David Smith and John Knackton. So, over to Kippers, Winters, Smithers and . . . John Knackton.

    Welcome to our BBC long wave audience. We expect a re-start in ten minutes, and perhaps it is appropriate that we have that period available to us, as we were just discussing a letter we have received from a listener in Sri Lanka. I think the best thing I can do is pass on this short, fascinating communication in full. It reads:


    Dear Gentletators


    I am a British expatriate, long resident here in Colombo and an avid follower of Test Match Special. Your recent comments concerning unusual events in cricket reminded me that I have in my files a note handed to me by my local garage owner and mechanic, Mr Roshan Bhattericharga, who received it many years ago from a mariner in Trincomalee. This document describes a number of oddities, beginning with strange dismissals. I am aware that there are various ways in which a batsman may be returned to the pavilion. However, the above-mentioned paper relates a few weird ones, not included in the standard list. First, there is the case of one Percy Whelkin of Hove, who in 1891 threw a large net over the slips and was adjudged out ‘enmeshing the field’. Second, a certain Norman Gung of Market Drayton – the non-striker at the time – was sent packing in circumstances I would prefer not to relate, the verdict being ‘handled the umpire’.


    Another case involved Yorkshireman Tom Longpiece, who scored eight runs by wedging a ball under his chin, from where it finally spilled out ahead of him to hit the stumps, producing a self-run-out. There are other odd cases, but I will note only that of Thomas Spoon of Middlesex, who in 1902 used his bat to smite the wicket-keeper in the groin, then on the head, and was deemed to have ‘hit fielder twice’.


    The fragment in my possession also refers to remarkable bowlers. One of these was Somerset paceman Alfred Twinge, whose method was to approach the bowling crease at a right-angle to the batsman, releasing the ball sideways across his chest at the last instant. Apparently, this action failed to deceive the opposition, as ‘Sidearm’ Twinge took no wickets during a one-match career in which he bowled twelve overs, conceding two-hundred and eight runs. It seems that another practitioner of the bizarre was William ‘Donkey’ Broat of Derbyshire, whose technique was to lob the ball skywards (he bowled only when the Sun was high behind him) hoping to land it on the bails. According to the note, his ‘success’ was limited to incapacitating four batsmen, all of them receiving head injuries from balls while rearing backwards in attempts to execute hooks over long leg.


    I would like to know whether any of these cases can be authenticated.


    Yours sincerely


    Malcolm Softwick


    Many thanks to our correspondent for giving us much to discuss. We shall look into this contribution as time permits, but now to more imminent matters. Play is about to continue.



    * * *
    Last edited by Courtjester; May 26th, 2015 at 01:54 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  10. #90
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
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    This is just a note to inform anyone who may be interested that I have opened a new thread, ‘Solomon Had It Easier’, comprising stories about octogenarian Embert Wimple who was coaxed out of retirement to lighten the workload of his fellow judges. You will hear about some of the cases heard by him in his last year on the bench. He was facing a formidable array of barristers in an assortment of bizarre contests. For example, you will encounter a man who was building an atom bomb at home, the operator of a tower crane using his machine to play skittles with his workmates, and a woman assaulting her husband with a frozen chicken. If that sounds interesting to you, please follow this link:

    Last edited by Courtjester; May 27th, 2015 at 01:43 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

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