Thursday, 8 January 2009


A young girl with eyes like the fish-pools of Heshbon sits listening to her grandmother's tale of how she bought a sideboard in the popular "modernistic" style at the Wolfe & Hollander clearance sale of January 1964. Even before the denouement ("... and that is why I never use beeswax on teak") the girl stamps from the room, and the door is slammed.  I ask her why?

- Because it don't mean dick to me, she replies.  But not quietly enough.  My mother, for it is she, the lovely old harridan, the teller of the tale, takes umbrage.

-If that's how grandmothers are spoken to, it's small wonder we have all this knife-crime. Also, I see that Coates Viyella are in Receivership.

Can this terrifying gap be bridged? Whoever wrote that A Garden of Love Grows in a Grandmother's Heart needs his teeth kicking in, for I see nothing to meld these two troubled generations together. No, it is my poor peer group who find themselves in the firing line, pathetic human shields, strafed by both sides.  Of course, there is fault in both camps. My mother (Jaegar, Jean Muir, Russell & Bromley, Vidal Sassoon) squares up to my daughter (Philip Lim, tattered Annello & Davide, teeny tiny shorts, melanic beehive) as they try to reduce each other to cultural stereotypes. 

 But it is the language of youth that is most worrying, for although she has the eyes of Ruth among the alien corn, she has the larynx of Bill Sykes. And it is made worse by the time she spends with friends from Haberdashers' Aske's and Sylvia Young's, as the influence of the Great Wen works its maddening magic on the aspiring Amy Winehouses of the provinces. Politically, they know nothing, and it don't mean dick to them, anyway, but lately she has wanted to know how she should feel about the Great Atrocity being played out before us. She is impressed by Mr Miliband's call for an immediate ceasefire, for example.  Can I, she asks, simplify things for her? Because a ginger-haired student on the train back from Paddington wearing a keffiyeh called them Bad Names.
Q.  Should we take to the streets and protest, and cheer Mr Miliband to the echo?
Mrs Pouncer says:  Absolutely!  And try to work into your chant the latest Foreign Office figures that Britain exported over £18m worth of weapons to Israel in the first three months of 2008 (a sharp increase on the meagre £7m of weapon sales to Israel in the whole of 2007).  So, well done.

Q.  Should we be rubbing our eyes in amazement at the scale and fury of the Gaza onslaught?
MP:  If you like. Palestinian groups fired over 300 rockets between 19 and 27 December, ignoring Egypt's entreaties and deciding not to renew the truce.  To that extent, Israel can claim provocation.  Also, they have an election coming up, and the children of Israel tend to vote for the ones who do the most strafing.

Q. How will a ceasefire be negotiated?
MP: Fuck knows. Mr Obama is not yet President, and Mr Bush has hung so far back, just as he did in 2006 whilst waiting for Israel to deliver the knockout blow that never came. This time, everyone should pile in with all due haste.  To bring Hamas in, a ceasefire would need to include an end to Israel's blockade, relieving the suffering in Gaza and getting rid of one of Hamas's reasons for fighting.

Q. Will Mr Obama know what to do?
MP: Dunno. Can he learn from Clinton's failure is probably the better question. Clinton had Yitzhak Rabin, a visionary leader, willing to return the Golan Heights, and to negotiate directly with Arafat, and still he couldn't reign it in.

Q. What was Mark Austin doing with that chart on the News of Ten last night?
MP: Yes, wasn't it odd? It was a score-sheet to show casualties on both sides. One half expected him to say "If you don't wanna know the score, look away now".  Verily, he is the Gary Linneker of reportage.

Q. What will the rest of the world do?
MP: The international community is committed to looking the other way, and is united in its determination to do nothing.

Q. What are your thoughts on Mr Brown? He has called for the supply of arms to be stopped.
MP: Mr Brown is the greatest salesman of toffee in the history of dentistry.

Q.  Thank you.
MP: Mazel tov.

A horrible mess, the rift between the old and new generations.  What tragedies does it conceal, what human stories?  When I think of my poor ancestors, arriving here in dark days, and yet full of hope and optimism for the future! This is not fiction, and those will not believe it who do not understand that Israel has always given over its heart to its children.  If the elements of domestic tragedy are not here, where are they? For Israel, scattered in its wanderings and oppressed, never lost the Tables of the Law, never forgot the old things, never became deaf to the sounds of tents in the wind. But now the old men can say to their children "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways".


  1. If only supernanny would extend her brief and give all concerned a good slapping and a decade or two on the 'naughty step' we may just get somewhere .
    I for one am heartily sick of the Middle East Isreal and Africa , bulldoze the whole bally lot of them into the med.
    ***stomps off muttering***

  2. What a load of neo-biblical tosh, Mrs P, if you'll pardon me saying so. "For Israel, scattered in its wanderings and oppressed, never lost the Tables of the Law, never forgot the old things, never became deaf to the sounds of tents in the wind." As long as they weren't Arab tents, that is.

  3. Mrs. P, One of my mother's favourite sayings was "A mother's place is in the wrong". But it is a positive that your daughter considers that you might have useful information about world affairs, even if she disdains advice on fashion, etiquette and elocution. My generation, or gender, had quite other views about the older generation's opinions on the world, about which we thought ourselves infinitely better informed.

    As for The Situation, as with Ireland and Cyprus, there's precious little anyone else can do (apart from not meddling at all) until the most powerful people on both sides have exhausted themselves enough to realise they're not going to achieve their maximal ambitions but might be able to settle for something face-saving.

  4. *Blinks, and quietly waits for Mr Boyo*

  5. Tony Blaire's doing a good job as peace envoy to the Middle East though, isn't he? I expect he'll be up for the Nobel Peace Prize next year.

  6. A thought provoking post, Mrs P. Your line about Mr Brown and his incredible feats selling toffee made me laugh, the rest is all too sad.

  7. Your mother is right! It is always oil for teak, never beeswax, and remember: always discard the cloths because the oil reacts with the cotton and will set fire to your house while you are out at the pub.

    Kids, God bless them. They misinterpret support and encouragement as unqualified servitude, taking license to snarl and bitch and bite the hands that feed them. Don’t worry, it all comes out in the wash. I know; I used to be one.

    I’m glad you brought up Hamas. Now is when the friends of Israel must show their mettle. We should take some of the flak. Don’t be silent; stand up to the pub orators who have all the answers. They are anti-Semites to a man. The argument "Oh I don't know enough to comment" should always be met with the instruction to "Go and bloody well find out then!"
    That nishkeit Brown hasn’t the baitsim to condemn Hamas but he’ll take the money, oh yes. That’s the Scotch for you.

  8. Well said, Beast, for you are Bournemouth's own von Rochau, and it is a treat to hear Realpolitik used in its purest sense! As a reward, I will tell you that my mother went on to say that she had once seen a man play Chopin with THE BACKS OF HIS FINGERS at a Cabaret in old Vienna.

    Of course I pardon you, dear Daphers, for nothing is unsayable in this forum, unless it is something mean about Keith Allen, for obvious reasons. However, I have been attending Farrish's Neo-Biblical Writing Class at the Ethical Hall, West Hampstead, and I thought I was doing quite well. I didn't have you down as a cringing PC-type, though! See me, I am pro-Israel, wear fur and smoke in hotel rooms. Noblesse oblige.

    Auty puts us all to shame, as per. I agree, of course. Possibly, we are faced with a thousand year war, only half over? Old hatreds renew themselves from generation to generation, and it all seems to be conforming to the ordinary pattern of anti-colonialist insurrection. Israel claims an aim of "changing reality", so that Hamas stops firing across the border, but it would appear that the lessons of Lebanon in 2006 have not been learnt. Puts the whole Woe Over Woolworths schtick into perspective.

    Scarlet you might be waiting in vain. Boyo's maverick tendencies will doubtless come to the fore, just to spite me, and he will big up Mahmoud Abbas and say he's a Welsh, or summat.

    Yes, Dave, have you noticed how no-one has asked where Mr Tony is? It's the darndest thing. I think it's because we all appreciate the stirling work he's doing for his bank account in New York.

    Chris, you are too kind. Probably best not to think about it, though. January is a depressing month.

  9. Farrish, there you are! The Middlesex Meshuga himself! I know this is the Last Great Taboo, and no-one will be on speakers with me by tomorrow morning, but that's nothing new. My popularity waxes and wanes and will continue to do so until I learn to keep my trap shut. Bei Mir Gezunt.

  10. Thank Goodness this is turning out to be a Handy Hints blog - I've been desperate to know what to do with yellowed curtains, do ask your mother.

    And the War Thing - I think the toffee pedlar analogy is brilliant, what more needs to be said ... except that cats would make a better hash of being in charge than the current bounders

  11. Greetings Mrs P. Very happy to witness your most emphatic return and setting of all things right. I trust that you are refreshed and ready to take on all comers once more?

    Is there any possibility that you could actually wander over there and explain this to them in person?

  12. Hello Lulu! I would not dare ask my mother what to do with yellowed curtains. She'd roll her eyes and say "Do I look like a laundress? Oi Gevalt! What a question for a mother to hear! Buy new - and don't buy cheap! You buy cheap, you buy twice .." and so on, forever.

    Fammy, what are you suggesting? That a raddled old Jewish princess goes over and squares up to Hizbullah? I am sure they would welcome me with all the Qassams, Faj-3s, and BM-21s at their disposal, and crown me Carnival Queen of Askelon.

  13. They should send in Stuart Hall. Ten months into an intensive course of It's A Knockout and all sides would be too worn out to provoke a giggle let alone warfare.
    And anyone found firing a rocket/missile/mortar/air strike would be forced to go back and start the mini marathon all over again.

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  16. I deleted my previous comment and my explanation of it as I realised that I really don't understand the situation well enough and I'm too tired to get into the discussion. I'll just say that, tritely, that we used to get our Russian dance boots from Annello & Davide, and if only people could be content with dancing to express themselves.

  17. Not quick enough, though, Gadj. What you said showed that you understand the situation far better than most, even more than Scarlet, who vouchsafed that she believed Mr Clinton to have offered only three disconnected cantons on the West Bank! She then deleted her comment and mumbled something about Boyo. You people should stand by your beliefs, or we are nothing. However, and far more importantly, I do hope that your claim "we USED to get our .... from Annello & Davide ..." doesn't hide the fact that you are now purchasing inferior brands? My daughter, Joybells the dancer, once bought a pair of Farragut's Character Shoes to save money when a student, and regretted it when the sole came away in the middle of a charity gala. Why spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar?

    Kevin, thank all that is blessed for your heavenly intervention! I have waited these six months for someone, anyone, to reference IAK, mainly because I pine for Eddie Waring. Now, as you know, I can't be arsed to do many things, and one of them is finding things on You Tube. However, there exists a clip called Compilation of IAK Openings, or something like that, and it features the most howlworthy cameos, including a packed dais, becked with chrystanths, of mayors, aldermen, councillors and their lady wives, all graciously applauding Stuart Hall's incontinent ramblings. And Eddie's in there, too. Find it for me, and broadcast it, and great shall be your reward. Oh yeah, terrible about Gaza. Shocking.

  18. It's A Knock-Out! What a sporting idea for Jukebox Monday... race you Gadj... only I won't be posting till Monday... so you might beat me...

  19. Oh..Annello and Davide character shoes - a trip down memory lane.. Me and my chums used to wear them to brown. And they were brilliant - never wore out. Wasn't the shop in Covent Garden....

  20. Yep, in Covent Garden, and they were very nice, and they were scarlet (Ukrainian boots actually, I think they were). I left that group a long time ago and have had no need to buy such boots... until now, as we've just managed to get a Romanian dance class for adults (unheard of) started here.

    I certainly have feelings and opinions about the current Middle-east situation, Mrs P. - and thanks for your kind words - but I haven't actually seen enough news reports to feel sufficiently in the know. I just feel sickened.

  21. It was Kev's idea, actually Scarls, but do me the great service of finding the clip I'm asking for. And dedicate it to me. You know the sort of tribute I like.

    Annello and Davide are still going stroooong, Lizby, helped along the way by Amykins, who has popularised the big-toe-poking-thru-the-threadbare-satin vibe for all the young groovesters from Reading to Edgware.

    Gadj, do you TAKE the class - as in do you TEACH it? Or are you a pupil? I see you beating time with a gnarled old ebonised cane, breaking off here and there to demonstrate some intricate footwork, and possibly extemporising a bit. I see the students addressing you as Maitre, and shyly proffering gifts of new bootlaces and licorice comfits. Am I right?

  22. That's right, and Justin and Ciprian especially have to be given a helping hand as their buttock posture is never quite what it needs to be if they're going to get into the Rambert. Their radiant faun-like beauty is gift enough for me.

    Noooooo, I'm a pupil. Come on.

  23. Mrs P, I am suggesting that a raddled old Jewish princess will have a better chance than a cynical old atheist who would just tell them that there is no god and that they are all being stupid.

    Whilst one group of people feel threatened by another, there will always be war. Individuals are lovely, caring and sensitive people. Populations are aggressive, violent and psychotic.

    I prefer dogs.

  24. Dogs can be mean when they form a pack, Fammy.

  25. I know this Scarls, but dogs have yet to invent WMDs.

    And if you wave Scooby Snacks at them they all love you...

  26. Most of the worst excesses of mankind are delivered by people who take themselves too damned seriously. Reductio ad absurdum should be the order of the day.

    I'll let Scarlet do the It's A Knockout Clip. It's a corker. Which reminds me, all together now:
    The record time
    For demolishing an upright piano
    And passing the entire record
    Through a ring
    Six inches in diameter
    Is two minutes fifty seven seconds...

    (Lyrics: Guiness Book of Records 1968, Music: John Gould 1977)

  27. Oh, and I will do my best for the It's a Knockout Clip for Monday, with fitting tribute.

  28. Darling MC, always pithy, always polite.

    Gadj, well how do I KNOW? Thought you couldn't teach an old dog new tricks, anyway.

    Scarlet and Fammy, you roll up here on a Friday night, uninvited, yahooing, making little sense, when decent people are trying to get wasted. It really is beyond reason. Some of us may feel a little sick; Tommy Sheridan has just been on Celebrity Big Brother in a beige onesie. A garment like that is very unforgiving. However, re IAK clip for Monday: may I have 2 others, please? Thing is, by Monday, I shall be very antsy. I am taking the dog to be castrated, and it makes me feel uneasy. So, can I have a lovely, lovely trio of clips to make me happy: 1.It's A Knockout as detailed above (ask Kevin which one I want; he knows); 2. the trailer for Monsieur Hire 3. Amy singing Me & Mr Jones live at Porchester Hall or Isle of Wight, whichever. Thank you. I owe you.

  29. I'm reluctant to comment, as I'm an American, and therefore rather uninformed, at least compared to people who live in any other country in the world besides the U.S. (with the possible exception of Mexico). In fact, if I took out a red marker and underlined every reference in this post that I didn't have a clue about, well, that would really fuck up my computer screen.

  30. I pardon you too, Mrs P. But two sides to every story. Make the punishment fit the crime. Breaking a butterfly on a wheel. And other trite rejoinders. Shalom.

    Famulus, it has nothing to do with God, it is about land. The Scooby Snacks option is worth exploring though.

  31. If it wasn't for god, I rather hope that they would be able to share the land. I agree that I am no expert here (or anywhere really) but I do wonder if the other difference wouldn't be resolvable. Especially with the right flavour of Scooby Snack. Gotta be worth a try?

  32. [Sticks neck out.] It's one of those situations (cf. Ireland) where everyone involved has a detailed knowledge of exactly half the history, so to expect a solution along the usual lines is absurd. Nevertheless, may I trespass upon our gracious hostess's comment box to suggest something? Which is that the US gov't provide, for each of the 3.3M Palestinians, $10,000 and a green card. Cost: $33B. Result: no Palestinians within 4000 miles of Israel. Cost to benefit ratio: unlimited. [Retracts neck, hoping that head is still attached.]

  33. Oh damn. I meant that the benefit to cost ratio is unlimited. Sorry.

  34. Is it too late for me to say something slightly bizarre and yet hinting at an underlying knowledge or international politics, warfare, or should I sneak back into my cave of ignorance?

  35. Hey, I said all my bits from deep within my cave of ignorance, so go for it. :-)

    The Scooby Snacks remains my idea though, so see if you can improve on that...

  36. Captain Smack, welcome. What a cheerful name you have, to be sure. However, you must not hold back. The collection of nishkeits commenting here must surely give you hope?

    Daphne, as always your bouquet hides a solid lump of common sense within its petals. Oh, and BTW, your new post is the funniest thing I have read in many a long and lonely afternoon. Everyone - rush to D's place quicksticks.

    Fammy, oh Good God, what is a Scooby Snack? Is it some wonderful mind-alterer that I haven't experienced yet? If so, please mail in padded envelope soonest.

    Wendolia, it is never to late to hint at underlying knowledge. I do it all the time. Christ, I've built a whole blog around it.

  37. Sorry, Inkermann, missed you! Your solution is ingenious and expedient. Lemme see what you're working with: yep... uh-huh...that all looks in order.
    Does Mr Obama have the unwavering principle and political discipline required to broker any kind of deal, I ask myself (but we've kinda moved on to Eddie Waring now, TBH, and it's only my co-religionist, Farrish, the Edgware Eizel, who has any strong feelings, and Boyo's keeping schtum, so, really, it's your memories of Stuart Hall we're wanting here. Always a pleasure, though).

  38. Scarlet for adults. Gadj and his conspiracy theories... deary me...

  39. Have done the 'fitting tribute' Mrs P!

  40. Stuart Hall... . A fine Borders tower house, destroyed by Dr Maroon's co-religionists in 1642, if memory serves.

    Does that help?

  41. Scarlet, thank you. Been at Trafalgar Square all day; just having a gin mojita. I'll be over lata.

    Inky - fucking Zoroastrians.

  42. Mrs P, lay off the gin, stick to vodka. If my female ancestors had known about vodka instead of gin the world would be a better place. Well, the bit of it inhabited by me, anyway.

  43. I am reminded of the siege of Jerusalem in Kingdom Of Heaven when Orlando Bloom threatens to tear down the whole bloody city and stop the madness. Orlando had just given his men this big speech about whose buildings were more sacred? and how ridiculous that let's all die to protect them!!

    Saladin thinks "Hmm better not let him do that" and admits that recapturing Jerusalem meant "Nothing and Everything"...
    which is a perfect metaphor for the eternal morass that shall prevail until...
    use you best Schwarzeneggerian accent..

    Like it or not this is the centre of world and until our Insect Alien Overlords arrive from outer space and vaporise every molecule in every Temple, Mosque, and Church on the planet, there will never be a moments Peace.

    Once the edifice-complex has been erased then Humanity can return to something more reasonable like killing each other over fresh water and mates.

  44. Thank you, Mr Coppens. I am reminded of Burt Lancaster, or was it Kirk Douglas, or even Charlton Heston, I dunno, as Moses The Lawgiver, and frankly it's a memory I could well do without. But I take your point. As always.

  45. News from the drippy drippy cave of ignorance:

    Have not the generationas exchanged one set of challenges for another, new, set of challenges? Would each generation have angsted in their own way about their own generational problems?

    My gran complained about her youngest son's wife buying a dog and moving it into the 3 bedroomed house (gran & grandad; mum and other sibblings in one bed; mums bros and his wife in 3rd room) without even asking. This was a form of lack of consideration for others, just as your story of your daughters honest comment on your grandmothers ability to engage her in mutually valuable conversation.

    Seems to me they are all challenges, different challenges, I'm not convinced that we have a worse experience in our generation, just different, possibly new...