Thursday, 26 March 2009


You can't tell an eel he's wrong.  Primitive instinct  was devised by Nature to safeguard her creatures.  But in many cases, it succeeds in doing the exact opposite.  Every year, instinct leads millions of silver eels straight into manlaid traps.  These eels, spawned in Bermudan waters, swim to Europe, grow up in about two years and return to their birthplace to breed.  Many of them take the route round the north of Scotland, because when the migratory instinct was formed, the North Sea was dry land.  These eels could avoid the traps now laid in the North Sea if they took the English Channel route; a convenient short cut to safe deep waters.  But you can't tell an eel he's wrong.

How hideous, therefore, to apply this same logic to ourselves!  We won't be gainsaid, not even when our exploits are manifestly idiotic.  We make the same dismal mistakes, over and over again; we follow the same dreary pattern, and we learn nothing from it.   It is a sign of the times, my friends, and I fear that my generation carries a burden of guilt not visited on our dear old parents.  Consider my venerable father, for example, lately laid to rest in an earthy bed.  He went to his reward with no grimy vestment of guilt.  No; he had set out his stall in the full bloom of youthful optimism and had achieved professional success in direct proportion to the effort he put in.  And don't think that his life was narrow!  For some years he had an association with Lancelot Hogben, the father of modern Medical Statistics, and assisted on the revision of some of his reissued works.  My father was a general practitioner, but had an interest in completely incomprehensible mathspeak.  Yesterday, in an old notebook, I found the following in my father's hand: "The magical content of the number three, which has occupied a position of veneration in European culture, seems to be Semitic in origin.  Probably the worship of triangular numbers and the mystical attributes of the triangle itself in the Pythagorean culture, is traceable to the triangular symbol of the ancient Hittites, now the two triangles of Zionism".   This sort of mumbojumbo would find no seedbed in our modern life! And anyway,  which provincial GP, bestrewn with Practice Managers, and government targets and rising levels of chlamydia across all social classes, has the time to indulge in out-of-hours flimflam?  

I compare my eighteen-year-old self with my father, and the tears spring readily to my eyes.  In that glorious year, the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, my summer was divided sharply into protracted periods of idling and feverish attempts to make money.  I spent a lot of the summer on my back in Corsica,  an island-dwelling contemplative, who Just Lay There.  The rest of the time, I was engaged by two tobacco giants and required to attend sporting events  to promote the product.  Mid-July found me at Lord's for the Benson & Hedges Cup Final (Gloucestershire v Kent.  Gloucestershire won.  Fred Trueman adjudicated.  I was carried home, as per) in a vile polyester ensemble, a tiny dress that buttoned from the thigh to the neck and a golden sash with sequins.  We were encouraged to smoke like fuck, which was easy, and to engage all-comers in flirtatious conversation, which was not.  We had to sell the fags, natch, but we were also allowed to accept "gratuities", which were dependent on the level of outrageous compliments that we could pile onto the punters without gagging.  I was quite good at it.  A little girl from Leamington Spa was hopeless, however, and cried all day.  She said the men were all old enough to be her father, which was rather the point.  It still is the point.  That particular point will never change.  

My personal nadir, however, was Silverstone.  I was working for John Player, and the whole event was a cynical money-removing exercise of the first order.  We were each assigned hospitality marquees (working in pairs) and I got Elf Oil.  I am afraid I still feel shivery when I remember this terrible day, but let us just say that corporate entertainment was still in its infancy, and the rules of engagement had not been ratified.  I spent that night in Birmingham with 10 other John Player girls and we sat in a bar in stunned silence until Captain Morgan worked his magic.  By the end of September, I had bought an Anthony Price dress and a Simca.

We had to wear black and gold uniforms,  one-piece trouser suits, unbuttoned virtually to the navel, and heels.  It was prostitution of the vilest nature.  I have been listening today to Black and Gold by Sam Sparro, which is a sweet song and drives away the ghastly ghostly sounds of my Silverstone summer.

Because if you're not really here
Then the stars don't really matter
I'm filled to the top with fear
Because if you're not really here
Then I don't want to be either
I just want to be next to you
Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold.


  1. Anyone just glancing at this post will think you are a woman of nature, Mrs P - observing those wriggly little eels in their quest for survival.

    Little do they know

  2. The number three is magical: it confirms the pattern established by the first two steps. That's why so much comedy is based on the rhythm of three, comedy being fractured choreography.

    Bad luck on Silverstone. Best not to dwell on it dear.

  3. Piffle. Most people, and many dogs, can't count beyond 3, and wtf is a Simca? A simulated car? And why are you wearing Anthony Price's dress? It had better fit you better than it did him.

  4. I once knew a mathematical logician who could quite convincingly count up to eleven.

  5. Instinct once led an eel into my trap.

    A shocking tale I can't repeat in polite company.

  6. The Simca was quite popular in its time...

  7. Well if you cant be a slattern during a jubilee year , when can you I ask ????

  8. Mrs Pouncer you have no shame. You have just done the impossible and gone down in my estimation.

    A Simca indeed. The very idea!

    Madame, where are your principles?

  9. Kevin, "convincingly". Quite. Logicians are the Ali Bongos of the mathematical world.

  10. I think you have your father's brains and I hope you didn't waste them too long doing those dreary corporate functions. Did you escape further education? Never too late.

  11. I thought a 'Simca' was a wedding in North London

  12. For a "These eels" the short cut by the Sleeve is dangerous !!!Des under British sailors there prowl!
    Not so stupid !!!They took another way, reaches by the Gulf Stream, they arrive on our coastal one, of there she climb back up the Garonne! Think Therefore go higher is another pair of sleeve!?

    I knew a Simca (1000) gordini carrying skirts that did not go to the ordinary one!! Sacred chassis!

  13. I stand elucidated Inky. Thanks.

    I deplore the omission of a scorecard for the match, Clarissa. Not all the lads will have a pocket Wisden.

  14. Were you 18 in 1977, Mrs P??? You could have been the big sister that I always wanted but never had! Only cads ever smoked JPS. Fascinating stuff about eels - the Kennet and Avon canal would be an even more direct route, and you could wave to them as they go by.

  15. Mes chers amis, sorry for the delay in responding. I have been doing Good Works Amongst the Needy and am still waiting for the pay-off. Anyhoo:
    Scarlawarla, thank you. I want everyone to at least TRY to learn this gorgesome song off by heart. The bit where he shrills "and if you're not really here, then I don't wanna be either" probably speaks to us all, including Sir Shred of Wheat or whatever that discredited banker is called.

    Frenchie, whaddya mean? I AM a woman of nature. You just ask Gadj. My Nature Notes - now sadly deleted - were of the highest standard. I will be reprising some of them in due course. The one where I speak of pussy willow and a broken femur is oft times regarded as my finest literary hour.

    Kevin - I absolutely agree. You and I are of An Age. Do you remember Take Your Pick with Michael Miles? Very often, Box 3 was bestowed with magical qualities by the badly dressed finalist. I clearly remember an ill-favoured man, with an obvious denture, choose Box 3 and preface it with a little song about the number 3. I think it might've been a hymn. He was from Sheffield (South Yorkshire).

  16. Those were the days, Clarissa. Back then Michael, Hughie or Wilfred would patronise nervous contestants with ill-fitting dentures and half-mast trousers and we we'd love them all. They'd be real people who did real jobs like nicking the lead off church roofs and they'd come from places like Jesmond, Wath on Dearne or Diss.

    Now they're all unlovely Kens and Barbies with jobs in the meejah or spraying people orange, living Somewhere In London that only exists in the minds of metropolitan novelists.

  17. Inky! Let me drag out the special tinkling laugh I reserve for such occasions! Why are you so peevish - and not just with me, you old curmudgeon? I had a Simca Horizon, which was an appalling auto, admittedly, but got me from A to B (Maidenhead to Battersea) and very often via C (The Last Resort, Fulham Road - a grimy dive, but I loved it). My Antony Price dress was a spiral zipped creation in cire satin. The first of many crowd-pleasers, believe me.

    Kevin, oh what folderol is this? The phallic association of the threefold figure, as of the fleur de lys, is widely accepted today.

    MJ, how disappointing that, once more, you drag this discourse, which is rooted firmly in Pythagorean doctrine, to the gutter. Also, eels are not kosher.

    Beast, it is always a pleasure. Always. However, I was never a slattern. I was a slut maybe. I was something of a slag, arguably. But a slattern - never. My personal hygiene was - is - of the highest order, and I spend more time than strictly necessary being detoxed and botoxed. As for high colonics, well! I urge a purge to all comers, as you well know.

  18. Jimmy, dear, what a slur! For me, it was a step up. My first car was a Ford Popular, no synchromesh, double-declutching from Maidenhead to Battersea. And what do you drive, then? A DeLorean DMC-12, I'll wager, with an engine so weak it couldn't pull a hobo off your sister. No offence.

    Inky, leave Kevin alone.

    Pat, I didn't escape higher education. Four years (count 'em) at the taxpayers' expense. BA in Three-Dimensional Design. Yes, I know. Pitiful.

    Dave, thank you. Glad to oblige. 1977 was an odd year cricket-wise. Remember the whole Packer brouhaha? And the weakest Australian team ever to visit these shores?

  19. Frenchie! Vos? Vu`? You seem to know more about the NW11 vibe than you're letting on. Biz shpeter.

    Kev, is that a Wisden in your pocket or are you just wearing one of the new octagonal waistcoats made popular by Wendy (and where are you Wendolina?) last winter. Gloucs were at one time 144 for one wicket and didn't build the huge total which looked likely, but the 237 they did score was far too much for Kent who never looked even remotely likely to reach their target. Two wickets were down for 5, and 5 for 65, only Shepherd coming in at number seven to play any sort of innings in support of Woolmer who had batted on despite disaster all around him. Hope this helps.

  20. Gadjo: thank you for doing the maths. Mrs P you could be the daughter I never had. It would have been such fun to put you in pretty smocked dresses - the boys weren't keen at all.
    I met Michael Miles with Hugie Green. I berated him for doing something which was actually done by Michael Mills and he was charming about it. Nice man.

  21. Bon !Je change mon fusil d'épaule , umsatteln , To turn one’s coat , A o întoarce ca la Ploieşti !!

    Oublier mon erreur...De commentaire !

    Il n'y a que deux sortes de personnes qui ne peuvent commettre deux fois la même erreur : les parachutistes et les jeunes filles !!!!

    Je ne suis ni l'un ni l'autre !

    Afectueusement , Mrs Pouncer

  22. Remember 1977? I do, as it happens. I got married that year. I don't remember being allowed to watch much cricket though.

  23. Dunkel und gold...

    This post has the best opening line evah! and some of the most beguiling imagery. Mrs P, you entertain as you instruct as you forewarn.


  24. Crabtree, mon brave! C'est dans les vielles marmites qu'on fait les meilleures soupes. Les anguilles ne sont pas kosher, alors.

    Kevin, I missed your penetrating comment concerning contemporary contestants on quiz shows. The drudges you describe do live on, however. I urge you to tune into Deal Or No Deal to witness a line up last glimpsed in the audience of What's My Line.

    Gadjo, yes, ok, you have worked out my advanced age. Congratters. I will agree to being your big sister; it will be a novelty as I have no brothers, and am the middle child. Now, what would you like to do first? Peer through the keyhole as my friends and I get ready for a night at the Top Ten Ballroom, Datchet, c. 1975? Demand money with menaces to keep your trap shut after witnessing something salacious? Or be discovered trying on my underwear and bleating about "a phase"? Your call.

    Pat, Gadjo has blown my cover (I was hoping to be forever 44) and I concede defeat. I was in Viyella smocked dresses (photographs prove it) in the Maidenhead years, and all went well until 1975. My dress became more and more inappropriate and there were times when my poor mother, the gorgeous old harridan, would not be seen with me. On these occasions, my father smiled, as he remembered my mama during her Juliet Greco phase (black angora, beige lipstick, cleopatra bob, and the most incongruous Melbourne squawk which completely ruined the image). I still dress with scant regard for the weather. If you would like to be my etherworld mother, I must warn you that I now have Gadj as a brother, and we are hardly Donny & Marie Osmond.

    Crabtree encore! En tout pays il y a une lieue de mauvais chemins!

    Dave, well I'm not surprised. Newly-weds should have no time for spectator sports. Remember dear old Cole Porter: "The rhythmic beat of the bridal suite in use..." (It goes on "You're the breasts of venus, you're King Kong's penis, you're .. self abuse" to the tune of You're The Top)

    Boyo, flattery will get you absolutely everywhere with me. Everywhere. However, I see that you have announced a happy event, and one which will effectively emasculate you. The birth of a son and heir is an occasion which fathers should fear. Boyo, you are now a role model: will you be found lacking? I will come to your esteemed blog with all available haste to make suitable cooing noises.

  25. I'm quite taken with the idea of Gadjo and Clarissa being the Donny and Marie of our times. Or somebody else's times. Whatever.

    Scarlet can play sax on the album and Boyo can use the new arrival as an excuse to get it airtime on Children's Hour.

  26. Dans les vielles marmites ? Les anguilles ?
    The "kashrut"( cacherouth !)et pourquoi pas avec des carottes nouvelles ?
    Votre réponse a-t-elle une connotation...cachère...kascher, heu !...Cachée ??

    Bon Dieu ! que je suis incapable d'approcher, à cent lieues près, de votre habileté !
    (Une lieue soit deux mille deux cent quatre-vingt-deux toises ,4444 mè demi !)Seulement !! La parfaite tendresse que j'ai pour vous et pour tout ce qui vous touche et au moins à dix lieues à la ronde :)

    Accrocheur le bonhomme !? Mais affectueux ;)

  27. It wasn't really me that blow your cover, sis - and I used total of 3 question marks simply because you look so young for your age. I would undoubtedly develop a crush on one your hockey friends, Big Brenda, and not just because only her shoes would fit.

  28. You've deleted your Nature Notes?? They were indeed of the highest standard - why did you do that??

  29. I am tutoring him the ways of righteousness, Mrs P. Soon he will be able to make the voorish sign.

  30. Oh Crabbers! Ce contretemps n'est pas la fin du monde; je parle tres franchement et je mets souvent les pieds dans le plat. C xxxxx

    Boyo! Poor use of your paternity leave, if you don't mind me saying. You should get upstairs quicksticks and help Mme Boyo find something that isn't covered in meconium.

    (Mrs Boyo, hello. The miracle of childbirth has been visited upon me 6 times, and on the last occasion I received an appalling phone call from the current Mayor of London, pretending to be an eminent obstetrician, rasping "how's your lochia, Mrs Pouncer?" On a lighter note, I urge you - in fine weather - to spend some time sitting alone in a small craft, on a backwater, but not to slip moorings. There is something about being attached to terra firma only by the thinnest of ties that makes detached thought easier. A punt on the Maidenhead backwater, just below the weir, is perfect. You will have a fine view of Boyo standing on Boulters Island being baited by a mute swan. Sincere felicitations btw).

  31. Kev, well ye-es, but who would we press into service as Little Jimmy, who was consistently Bad Sight Of The Week in the 70s? I suppose Inky is the obvious choice.

    Gadj, yes the Nature Notes are outski. I was beginning to bore myself, which is a bad thing. However, I MAY reprise some of them when I can't be arsed to think up a new post. Or I can do requests.

    Now, hockey. I played lacrosse at school, and not very well. Getting smacked in the mouth by a flying ball bestowed the Pouncer Pout but little else. I was THINKING of gifting the following data to Scarlet, but she has been slapdash of late and wouldn't use it wisely. The lacrosse stick is made up thus: Thong, Head, Shaft, Butt End. It is a minor foul to fiddle with the head of the stick during a game. During one match, I received a card for "Adjusting her thong during play". This sort of mud sticks, you know.

    Boyo, belatedly. My poor old Oma's arthritis was so severe that she was permanently Voorish, during the Swiss Cottage years. By Denville Hall, she was permanently holding two invisible oranges.

  32. Mrs P, I'd be glad to oblige, but others would warn you of my smouldering good looks. Rather like Maroon, only without the engineer's fingernails. I mean, I do have fingernails, but unbegrimed ones. A Pan's Person doesn't kiss just anyone, you know, not even socially.

  33. Un "plat" était une vaste étendue d'eaux basses ,"Gaffer" signifiait en provençal "patauger dans la boue" donc "Mettre les pieds dans le plat" ,c'est à ce phénomène que se réfère l'expression !!

    Je ne croit pas Ma'am que vous êtes "Gaffeuse" !!!!


    Crabbers :)

  34. Inky, Maroon's fingernails are beyond reproach. Once a week he is worked over by an expert: warm oil treatments, paraffin applications, tip renewal. He has recently undergone a new procedure for reconstruction and hardening and I have been entrusted with the application of ammonium hexafluorophosphate as and when.

  35. Crabbikins! Le monde appelle fous ceux qui ne sont pas fous de la folie commune! Love, Clarisse xxxx

  36. Crabbers, PS Do you resemble the late, great Guy Lux? I mean, Guy Lux in his prime, of course. I hope so. x

  37. J'aime beaucoup la formule : "Le monde appelle fous ceux qui ne sont pas fous de la folie commune!"
    Je suis donc un fou!

    Guy lux ,Justement ! J'ai participé à 'Intervilles' déguisé en clown et poursuivi par des vachettes déjà folles à l'époque ! It is funny, no ?
    Et ensuite Jeux sans frontières ,le choc des équipes qui ne parlaient pas la même langue ,créée par Guy Lux pour le bonheur du général De Gaulle ...! C'est fou !

    I am thus a madman !

    I love moi, I love tout l'monde...I love you Clarisse

  38. Well, at long last. A public declaration of devotion. Friends, it has been a long time coming, and it is only Crabbers, admittedly, who has probably been prodigal with his declarations, and I did have to squeeze it out of him with outrageous flattery (ref. Guy Lux), but I regard this as a triumph. All others with anything to declare should do so forthwith. The ice has been broken.

  39. Disappointing. Very. However, I am unruffled. Crabbers is a trophy, and I forgive everyone else for their craven cowardice. And anyway, I have bigger fish to fry. I am being courted by Sir Jock McCockup of the most recently discredited Scottish financial institution. You will all be baying for my patronage once you see the size of his severance package.

  40. I love that song too - you've inspired the image for my post today

  41. "All others with anything to declare should do so forthwith."

    Mein cheies gait oys!

    Uncalled for but a declaration.

  42. Lulu, I am an inspiration, aren't I? Nothing more, nothing less.

    Farrish! Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. Farshnoshket, you old Shikkar?

  43. Certainly not! Ti mir nit kayn toyves. I am as sober as a judge, and I don't mean that Australian one that Clive James was going on about.
    Poor sod.