Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Stop me if you've heard this one before. A man says to a woman, would you sleep with me for a million pounds, and she says, yes, of course. So he says, would you for a fiver? And she says, no, fuck off, what do you think I am? And he says, well, I think we've established that; we're just negotiating price.

There was a lot of that sort of caper in Gstaad during my sojourn. Not out-and-out pimping, not prostitution, but much more backscratching than I've seen in the past, more cajolery, inducements, snowjobs, in short. But for why? As usual, the worldwide recession has something to do with it, and even the gorgeous old Eurotrash muttons are feeling the pinch. They still LOOK the same - all men over 40 are chiseled and burnished and wear a French interpretation of US streetwear from 1979; everything a little too new, everything a little too shiny*. They still regard Patek Philippe as de rigueur  and their invasive cosmetic dentistry  has rendered speech indistinct.  The women wear high-end designer ski kit and are completely teetotal. Moreover, some of them have flown in from LUTON! It is to die, in my view. The place still looks entrancing; the allure of the snow cannot be gainsaid, and last weekend we had knee-deep powder, even on-piste, but there is something irrefutably plebby about the visitors these days that makes someone as relentlessly international, as mindlessly loaded, as myself want to cry icicle tears of longing for the old days.

The Glenda Slag brigade was out in force: clapped-out old hacks who still turn a living from writing pisspoor captions to grainy images of hasbeens, such as my dear friend, Lord Numb. Numb was my companion throughout, and was kind enough to pay for my vacance.  Those in the know will guess his true identity if I reveal him as a well-known furrier from Swiss Cottage, which brings a nice symmetry to our association. We were papped one night at GreenGo. I was in palest chartreuse cashmere, with a creme de menthe coat and a pair of Kenneth Cole Broken Hearts in benedictine.  Numb was flushed with drink and success and we were pictured sharing a steaming pile of gefilte fish. You probably saw it.

But, home is where the heart is! On my return, how horrified I was to read of the new killer snow that has crept into my native land instead of the old-fashioned commuter-friendly stuff we had enjoyed in Switzerland.  The Scottish avalanche had claimed the lives of three stolids who hadn't heard the frozen death-blanket unfurl itself above them as they roared "Avalanche? Wot avalanche?" through their megaphone.  How hideous to have misunderstood the bleak warning Do Not Schlep About Today - Avalanche Likely! My heart goes out to all those who speed-read public information notices and who think a pair of  Clark's Pathfinders and an Oeuf Ecossais wrapped in greaseproof paper is enough to sustain them.  How I hastened to the dear old Thicket to restore my equilibrium and  to log the changes of nature, mainly floral. How I  luxuriated in the familiar sounds of birdcall and the rustling of the undergrowth as it offered itself up as a brackeny bed for the dedicated doggers who do so much to make the Thicket a place of exotica! 

January is the Gateway of the Year in the Thames Valley, and the snowdrops already hang their white lamps underfoot. A straggle of jasmine is aflame with gold, and the coltsfoot bright with yellow flowers, which appear before the leaves. Here and there, I saw the purplish butterbur flowers, and watched the yellow powder of the catkins carried on the wind.  There are a few early celandines in the grass and both the Goat willows and White willows are in flower already.  Most unusually, the red deadnettles are out. Unlike common nettles, they carry no sting.

I am having a bad time at the moment. Today I listened to Mark Ronson's cover of Stop Me over and over again. Unlike the Smiths' version, it carries no sting.

Stop me, oh stop me, stop me if you think you've heard this one before,
Who said I lied, because I never
Who said I lied, because I never
I was detained, I was restrained
I broke my spleen, and broke my knee
And then he really laid into me
Who said I lied, because I never
So I drank one and it became four
And when I fell on the floor
I drank more.
Stop me, stop me, if you think you've heard this one before.

*unlike Kev Musgrove, of course. His clothes get shinier with AGE.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


Mes chers amis

I am going away.  Gstaad beckons, as it always does, and the promise of fresh reserves of white powder can't be resisted.

Be happy! CLdeMP

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


We interrupt this broadcast to bring you live coverage of Mrs Pouncer's response to Scarlet's fitting tribute, and her acceptance of the Freedom of Datchet ... it's a truly spectacular scene ... huddled crowds lining the byways... cringing peasants, badly-dressed, some toothless ... quite a lot of balaclava helmets...flags fluttering in the breeze... children who've picked their own nosegays for the occasion ... and there's the Mayor, Claude Thirst, born free, but now in chains ... some local celebrities on the dais ...the Chuckle Brothers, the Beverley Sisters, the Mothers of Invention ... lively music from the band ... long time since I've seen a wheeled xylophone, and there's that old virtuoso, Byard, on the Duda ... "7-lettah Coked Out", one of Mrs Pouncer's favourites, often regarded as her signature tune ... the crowd surging forward like a... like a ... what have they seen... two outriders just visible outside Cash Converters ... it's Kevin Musgrove, man of letters, on his trusty Kentex 24 tricycle, and beside him Wendolina, with her wheelbarrow, a hand-lettered sign "Shop at Jackson Freres for all your Household Rekwisites" ... and just beyond them, we can see the gleaming Nissan Serena, Reading Borough Council's ceremonial car, Mr Dilo, as always, at the wheel, weaving from side to side ... an instructor from U-Pass in the passenger seat, pumping away at the dual-controls as if ... as if ... as if treading grapes ... and yes! the first glimpse of La Pouncita ... a great roar from the crowd! Some people in tears ... some kneeling in her path ... Mr Dilo narrowly avoiding a nun, there ... no, I think he clipped her wimple ... I'll hand over to Daphne Wayne-Bough to comment on the couture ...

Thank you. She is, of course, fashion's darling, but I predict flame-coloured plomberie gloves, probably backless, serge cocktail booties, and a chimney-brim bowler in gherkin green laipou, possibly with a quarter-band Belgian riffet of snatched grossgrain .. a perfectly simple dress of red satin, with gold lame godets, a Quaker collar, emphasised at the waist with tussore flounces, or simply caught up in her suspenders like last year in Lewisham ... a hash-grey coat, with a turnover of tufted flamenco, and a back-bow in elephant's-breath-beige ... as ever, understated ...

Daphne, thank you ...La Pouncita clearly visible now, standing up in the car, head and shoulders through the sun roof, acknowledging the hysterical cries of  adoration from this incontinent crowd... I really can't recall scenes like this! The welcoming party move forward, chief amongst them Miss Scarlet Blue ... Beast at her side ... Inkspot, the eminence grise ... Boyo, as usual, crouching at the foot of the stairs, gazing upwards as the Mayor's wife and daughters mount the steps .... and here she is! She is here! The howls of the crowd as she is helped from the car by her Consort, Juan Futine de Graeve on one side, and her spiritual advisor and Confessor, Farrish, the Kilburn Kolboynik, on the other ... the three of them drinking freely from a shared bottle of Luksusowa ... La Pouncita playfully taking a bump of coke there from the back of Farrish's hand! Laughter from the crowd ... they love her common touch ... some children strewing her path with Vyvanse ... she's not too proud to bend over and scoop some up for later ...and as she bends over, Inkspot presses the Cornucopia on her, the ceremonial Horn of Plenty...Barry Teeth, the People's Laureate, presenting his illuminated address ... unfortunately, it's just his house number and postcode glued to a Glo-stick ... he misunderstood the brief ... La Pouncita accepting it graciously ... Barry taking a heft of TheraBreath ... rocks La Pouncita back on her heels and delivers a huge Frenchie ... it's in the Laureate's gift, as you know ... a sedan chair cleaving through the crowds can only mean one thing ... the arrival of Autolycus ... Big Hearted Auty, as he's known in the Fajita Guild .... he opened the first TexMex takeaway in Bracknell and never looked back ... Mrs Pouncer a majority shareholder ....furious yahooing from the tea-tent ... it's the old colonial, Mr Coppens, promoting his grand cuvee Old Ma Moosejaw's Drinking-Type Wine ... a great friend of Mrs Pouncer, credited with popularising the sheared beaver...later on, he will give a demonstration of Canandian vowel-sounds to an invited audience... 

Mrs Pouncer being formally welcomed ... I can just make out her words to Scarlet ...you look like a f*****g tart, Scarls ... and to Beast ...This dais looks like the leftovers from your f*****g patio refurb you git ... Scarlet presenting a bouquet of wilted carnations from the BP garage ... she still collects Nectar points and hopes to have enough for a Camping Gaz stove by July ... but now La Pouncita grasps the microphone in her tiny fist and addresses the hushed crowd ....

Sunday, 11 January 2009


Just for January

1. Ike Perlmutter
Wotta Marvel

2. Fabio Capello
Have we met?

3. Lucian Freud
mmmm .... turps

4. Dizzee Rascal
Fix Up, Look Sharp

5. Farrish
The Muswell Hill Momzer

6. Jay McInerney
Who wouldn't?

7. Colton Parsons

8. Adrian Schiller
Hit me with your rhythm stick

9.  de Ridder of Bruges
My frisor

10. Sir Philip Green

Bubbling under: Blake Fielder-Civil, Coolio, Meir Dagan,  Kevin Musgrove

Nowheresville: Tommy Sheridan

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".

Saturday, 3 January 2009


What kind of fuckery is this? 

I have been reading Cicero and listening to Amy Winehouse. There was simply nothing else to do.

 Brief is the life given to us by nature, but the memory of life nobly resigned is everlasting. There shall therefore be erected a mass of splendid workmanship and an inscription cut; and - apostrophising the fallen soldiers - in your praise, whether men shall behold your monument or shall hear of it, never shall the language of deepest gratitude be silent. Thus, in exchange for life's mortal state, you will have gained for yourself immortality. 

Indeed. This is the kinda idea that occasionally surfaced in the minds of the Stoics and inspired Seneca to say that the gods order us to join them and plan for immortality.  But what good is it to be remembered by men? It meant nothing to Rabbi Shimeon ben Yohai, for example. To him, the great problem was time,  not space. He withdrew from the world and dedicated his life to the study of the Torah. I am dedicating a lot of my time to the study of the British National Formulary, in particular regarding mercurial diuretics. Nephrotoxicity, you see.

Happy new year, btw, and lots of love.