Sunday, 30 January 2011

Dials (New Improved)

New 8 dial automata that Archie has been working on for his "A" level art project.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Incredible String Band

Not a band that is or was easy to define. they were in part folk but also physceldeliac rock/pop. They defied convention in the same was as did the Mothers or The Bonzo Dog Doh Dah Band and yet thet were nothing like either. Mike Heron, Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer were the original three but their number waxed and waned with additional memebers coming and going at will. Licorice McKechnie, Rose Simpson,McKechnie, Malcolm Le Maistre, Gerard Dott, Stan Schnier, Jack Ingram,Graham Forbes, John Gilston, Bina Williamson, Lawson Dando and Claire Smith among them.
Their album titles left one scratching ones head with bemusment:

The Incredible String Band (Elektra, June 1966)
The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Elektra, July 1967)
The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (Elektra, March 1968)
Wee Tam and the Big Huge (Elektra, October 1968)
Changing Horses (Elektra, November 1969)
I Looked Up (Elektra, April 1970)
U (Double album, Elektra, October 1970)
Be Glad for the Song Has No Ending (Island, April 1971)
Relics (Elektra compilation, March 1971)
Liquid Acrobat as Regards the Air (Island, October 1971)
Earthspan (Island, October 1972)
No Ruinous Feud (Island, February 1973)
Hard Rope & Silken Twine (Island, March 1974)
Seasons They Change (Island compilation, November 1976)

I find it both odd and sad that bands like this are no longer relevant in this the 21st century. The times we live in, certainly as far as music is concerned, has regressed as it has become the plaything of impresarios and X-factor fat controllers  Mores the pity.


They were thankfully anything but normal as this little ditty illustrates.


A fIDdLing IN tHE biG weE WaM

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Yet More Comic & Curious Verse

Poems selected by J.M.Cohen

In 1959 Cliff Richard was number one in the charts with Living Doll. Was it a coincidence that the year also saw the birth of the Barbie Doll? I think not. Sadly for music, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash that year, too. But happily for poetry, this book was published. With its distinctive Penguin cover, designed by Stephen Russ, presaging the “Swinging Sixties” it is for me a veritable treasure chest of comicality, an Aladdin’s Cave of reading pleasure, a cornucopia of chuckles and as such is, in many ways, the same as, although also quite different to, its precursor The Penguin Book of Comic and Curious Verse. Unlike its older brother however, many of the poems were written specifically for the book and therefore it has a much more contemporary (as in 1959-ish) feel.

It contains moral instruction, as in this cautionary story by J.A. Lindon:
My tale begins with Junior Tom
Who made his own Atomic Bomb…

Word play: 
I asked the maid in dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone

The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone

Table manners, as in John Betjeman’s How to get on in Society:
Phone for the fish-knives, Norman,
As cook is a little unnerved…

And, in full, in all its glorious and turgid awfulness, William McGonagall’s excruciating Saving a Train:
’Twas in the year of 1869, and on the 19th of November
Which the people in
Southern Germany will long remember…

I bought my copy from a market stall for £3. A bargain. Although not quite as big a bargain as its older brother was. (See my previous entry.) Buy yourself a copy. And if by chance you already have one – take it down from the shelf, blow off the fine layer of dust and treat yourself again to some of the fine, comic and curious treasures that lie within.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


1. Of or pertaining to walking about or traveling from place to place; itinerant.
2. Of or pertaining to the philosophy taught by Aristotle (who gave his instructions while walking in the Lyceum at Athens), or to his followers.
1. One who walks about; a pedestrian; an itinerant.
2. A follower of Aristotle; an Aristotelian.

aNOtHEr dOlLop oF PUtriD PeE.

Monday, 10 January 2011


My clever son made these from re-cycled biscuit tins. I just thought I'd share it with you. Its for his "A" level art project.

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Penguin Book of Comic and Curious Verse

The Penguin Book of Comic and Curious Verse isn’t exactly an attention grabbing title. Nor is the cover very exciting, although for we older readers the distinctive pattern does bring a waft of nostalgia. And if you ignore this book you won’t actually be in peril. But this collection of poems selected by J.M.Cohen, and its younger sister, Yet More Comic and Curious Verse, is a veritable treasure chest of chuckles, an Aladdin’s Cave of comicality, a cornucopia of pleasure and er… well… it’s full of good stuff, Much of it comic and the rest, well, at the very least, curious.

There are limericks:
There was a young lady from Wantage
Of whom the town clerk took advantage
Said the borough surveyor:
Indeed you must pay ’er.
You’ve totally altered her frontage!”

Treats from Ogden Nash:
I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.
There are famous parodies such as Father William by Lewis Carroll:
“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think at your age, it is right?”
So famous is this spoof, of course, that these days it is much better known than the original.

And poems by the Grandfather of the Pun, Thomas Hood (1789 – 1845):Ben Battle was a soldier bold,
And used to war’s alarms;

But a cannon-ball took off his legs,
So he laid down his arms.
The Penguin Book of Comic and Curious Verse lives on a shelf by my bed and I often dip into it before (never after) turning out the light. The book was published in 1952 – and my version reprinted in 1958. Next time you are passing a second hand book shop, pop in, see if you can find a copy and treat yourself. Mine cost a pound from just such an establishment which I think is amazing value.