Alan Titchmarsh, Alice Cooper, Baal, Babylon, Belshazzar's Feast, blobfish, Brutal Assault Tour, Bryn Terfel, C S Lewis, cosmic laugh, Cumberbatch, Donald Duck, Eurovision Song Contest, Fanny Craddock, farmor, Harry Enfield, Hatefest, James May, Kathy Burke, L'Inviti, Leipzig, Lindt cafe, Lordi, Mammon, Marduk, Meat Loaf, Mick Jagger, mormor, Nykoping, Ozzie Osborne, Pandemonium, Paradise Lost, psychrolutes micropons, reductio ad absurdam, St Augustine, Sydney Kingsford Smith, The Inferno, Transformer, Ugg slippers, Uriel, Walton
Candia Dixon-Stuart was about to encounter Sydney Kingsford Smith.
Sounds romantic, eh?
Actually, all it meant was that I was about to touch down at the New
South Wales airport.
I’d just finished reading the Weekend supplement of an Aussie
newspaper, with its very interesting article on blobfish, when the
seat belt sign was turned off and I thought I saw one of those
psychrolutes micropons thingies trying to retrieve its amorphous
cabin luggage from the overhead locker, having a guttural exchange
with the stewardess.
At first it seemed to morph into a member of that Finnish group,
LORDI, who won The Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, but then
I listened intently and discovered that it probably spoke Swedish
and had momentarily broken out of its Transformer costume.
Maybe Security wasn’t having any of it and Passport Control had
asked it to remove its latex mask, or accept consignment to the hold.
(By the way, why do all those intent on ‘shocking’ their fellows have to
resort to blasphemy and childish usurpation of religious names and
terms? I mean, one such band member is called Amen. Get your
own language, losers.)
Anyway, I was given a death-stare and didn’t see him again until Baggage
Claim, when I tried to discern his group’s name from his promotional t-
Sounds like a kid’s cartoon character. Love-a-duck! Donald Duck?!
Later I Googled their current tour. So, they are a Satanic band with ‘Evil
be thou my good’ no doubt their watchword. Yawn!
His promotional photo showed something streaming down his head as
if a seagull had perched on a municipal statue. Or was it a merde-duck?
The thing about these ageing rockers is that they seem to be frozen
in some kind of time warp. Ozzie Osborne and Mick Jagger are
Establishment now. Why keep flogging a dead horse?
Alice Cooper was aeons ago. Meat Loaf is probably past his
sell-by date. Sounds like a recipe by Fanny Craddock. Things
Even James May has had a tidy up.
And it really is poor taste to be claiming affiliation with evil when the
real stuff is being enacted all round the globe, or had been enacted in
the Lindt cafe, not so far away from the airport. It’s not about
banging your head like a toddler having a tantrum in its cot.
Of course, it could all be an act. Probably my subject is capable of being
as polite as the Harry Enfield character Kevin’s chum, played by Kathy
Burke, when speaking to someone else’s mother. Life is a stage and we
all play different parts, don’t we?
Maybe the scowling rockster went on to buy his aged granny, Inge Soda-
Stream, a nice souvenir pair of Ugg slippers- often reduced, I noticed in
Sydney shops. The devil allegedly likes a bargain, so his spawn would
hardly be averse to one. He probably made plenty Mammon at the
Melbourne gig beforehand.
I expect he did probably send his mormor/ farmor a nice postcard of the
harbour so she could put it up on the mantelpiece of her Nykoping
nursing home and tell the carers that he is such a nice boy and that he
used to relish her meatballs. Really? It seems so.
Evil always looks a bit sheepish to me. Satan had to disguise himself
as a cherub to ask directions from Uriel, in Paradise Lost. A she-devil
wouldn’t have been so reticent.
So, Marduk refers to Baal, god of Babylon. There’s been a lot of music
created about that deity. Think Belshazzar’s Feast and, if you listen
to it, I am sure you’ll find it a lot more sophisticated than anything this
Scandinavian -collective term for a gang of demons??- will produce.
Bryn Terfel was on the award-winning Walton CD in which Yours Truly sang
the L’Inviti part. I am sure he could have personally taken on all minor
demons of that particular region with a Welsh rugby tackle and could
have shown Marduk how one blast from his lungs would blow them all
off the concert stage into the pit- not necessarily The Inferno.
But, you take my point: the writing on the wall must surely come for these
guys, in spite of their Brutal Assault Tour, 2015.
The Devil steals all the best tunes and they are advertising their steel-
armored (sic) death choir, which they are going to ‘unleash‘.
Puh-lease! Have they ever attended a cathedral choir rehearsal when
the solo snippets are being assigned? They don’t know what malice is!
In that context, it is serious internecine warfare, which would reveal
any spite that Marduk would exhibit as kittenish.
They’re even going to perform a selection of what they call hymns
from their current album. They could ask Alan Titchmarsh to present
They’re going to have a Hatefest in Leipzig. Surely, it’s not that bad a
venue? Mind you, it is probably preferable to that out-dated love-in!
Sorry, guys, but I can’t take you seriously. Good is the new sexy, in
case you hadn’t heard. Everyone loves Cumberbatch et al.
As C S Lewis showed, Satan is a mere parody of God. I think he
pinched that from St Augustine- and he was a reformed
When confronted with ranting devils in Pandemonium, God actually
laughed. A cosmic laugh. And it did not reflect amusement, so much
as true power.
Laughter puts an end to debate. So, I bite my thumb at you.
Alan Titchmarsh, Alexander Armstrong, Antiques Roadshow, Boris Johnston, Bunny Campione, Bunny Guinness, Cavalier, clay pipe, Gertrude Jekyll, Grinling Gibbons, Henry Moore, herbaceous border, Inigo Jones, King Charles Spaniel, linen fold panelling, Lulu Guinness, Pointless, Pomeranian, pre-nuptial, pre-prandial, Prince William, pug, Rokeby Venus, Roundhead, Songs of Praise, Strictly, stump work, sundial, William the Conqueror
Hi! It’s Diana again. I’m still here in Suttonford. Sonia had taken us to
Ginevra’s house, as the nonagenarian was allowing Dru to use her tablet
to Google ‘ Wyvern Mote.’ (I must say that a lot more goes on here than in
Bradford-on-Avon.) That’s why I am moving back to these airts and parts,
Magda, the Eastern European carer, brought tea in for Sonia, Dru and
myself, but not for Ginevra.
She was having something a little stronger. Early in the day, I thought.
Tell me about your Aunt Augusta, she commanded Dru. I think that she and
I would have a lot in common.
You do, replied Dru, without taking her eyes off the screen. You both like
Dewlap Gin for the Discerning Grandmother.
But she isn’t a grandmother, is she? I am.
Nevertheless.. Dru’s voice trailed off and then she exclaimed excitedly:
The original earls had Wyvern Mote decorated by Inigo Jones. There’s a
photo on this site of a portrait of a rather pink and billowy-or is that ‘pillowy’?-
female called Lydia Van Druynk, who is recumbent on some kind of a divan,
like the Rokeby Venus. She’s surrounded by King Charles Spaniels.
I prefer pugs, or Pomeranians, opined Ginevra.
Dru ignored her as far as she could, considering that she was
borrowing the old girl’s tablet.
It says that the spaniels are significant, as the langorous lady, far from
being inactive, set the said dogs on a Civil War unit, thereafter influencing
and modifying the motto on the Van Druynk coat of arms, which then read:
Begone vile blusterers!
I take it she was on the side of the Cavaliers? said Sonia. I know all about
that contingent. As you recall, I have to live with one of them occupying
my attic. He doesn’t even pay me rent.
And would you call him a considerate house guest otherwise? asked Ginevra.
Not too bad, but I wish he’d take off his boots, as I can hear him pacing up
and down the length of the attic. He’s a bit of an insomniac, as I am.
I’m surprised that you haven’t exorcised him, commented Diana.
Well, in a funny way he keeps me company, said Sonia. But I wish he
wouldn’t smoke all these clay pipes and leave the broken shards in my
herbaceous border. I wrote to Gardeners’ Question Time, but Bunny
Campione just said that the clay detritus probably helps with drainage.
She could have put you in touch with one of those bee keeper types and
they could have smoked him out, suggested Diana. Like the way they
fumigate greenhouses. They use a puffer thing. By the way, I think you
mean Bunny Guinness.
Sonia looked horrified. But I like my Cavalier, she protested. He’s got
attitude, as they say.
She continued, You know, I always thought these two Bunnies were the same
person- just one amazingly talented woman who knows everything about
groundwork AND stump work.
Doesn’t one of them make designer handbags as well? Ginevra chipped in.
That’s Lulu Guinness, interposed Dru, who was becoming slightly rattled,
particularly as she couldn’t afford one of these desirable accessories, yet
most of her boarders could.
I’m not criticising gardeners, clarified Sonia. Gertrude Jekyll is a bit of a
heroine of mine, but nowadays they are not of the same ilk, to use a clan
reference. I mean, Alan Titchmarsh may be compost mentis, but he simply
doesn’t have such a breadth of cultural knowledge as the two women, even if
he does present Songs of Praise, in my opinion. They could have that
programme fronted by a Singing Snowman; it’s not particularly challenging.
I don’t think it is meant to be, Diana tried to point out.
Dru tried to keep the peace. The motto proliferated onto stair newel
posts, shields on the linen fold panelling and was featured on a particularly
fine lead sundial which was regrettably stolen from The White Garden in 1995.
It was recovered three years later when some idiot brought it to an Antiques
Roadshow and one of the experts remembered its loss had been reported in a
Why was the person who brought it an idiot? asked Diana.
Because he had been the gardener at Wyvern and someone recognised
him, according to this article. He was put away for a couple of years.
Well, at least it wasn’t melted down for scrap value like some of those
Henry Moores probably have been, ventured Sonia. Where is all this
It’s from a Newspaper Archive site. The article came from ‘The Rochester
Messenger’..Hey! There’s an earlier headline from 1946 which says:
‘Missing Heir Found Safe and Well.’
Read it out, ordered Ginevra.
Dru scanned the front page. There had been a supposed accident.
Peregrine, the younger son of the estate had been thought drowned.
He’d been missing for nearly a week. Estate workers dragged the moat
and searched surrounding woodland. His mother was frantic. She had
questioned Lionel, the older boy, but there was something evasive in his
replies. He had been known to bully his ten year old sibling.
The tutor testified to the police that he had observed Lionel engaging in
what the nasty child called ‘giving the little sprog a good trouncing’ and
the teacher had endeavoured to enlighten his charge regarding his abusive
behaviour. He found the boy intractable.
Lionel even jealously tortured his mother’s favourite pet, a spaniel that was
directly descended from one of the dogs who had sent off the Roundheads and
whose life-like ancestor featured in a lozenge-shaped cameo carved by Grinling
Gibbons over the mantel in the Red Sitting Room.
Sounds like that awful boy that everyone talks about at St Birinus, Ginevra
butted in. There’s nothing new about bullying.
Dru screeched suddenly: It says that the boys’ mother had no husband to
support her in her grief, as she had been widowed. She turned to the boys’
tutor, a young man called Anthony Revelly! He seems to have saved the day.
He is called a hero.
I need a drink, said Ginevra. Let’s all have a break and you can tell us the
rest after I have had my pre-nuptial.
Prandial, corrected Diana, before she remembered that she was the guest.
Then, Yes, Dru, she advised. Let’s have a hiatus while we take all this on
Anyway, Ginevra stated. I want to watch ‘Pointless’ just now. Magda and I
always like that Armstrong chap. I wish he’d do the stupid dance though- the
one he did with his friend on his comedy programme. You’d never think that
he was related to William the Conqueror. Not when he wore a tank top.
I didn’t know they had tank tops in 1066, said Sonia. I don’t think they
even had tanks.
Somehow you’d expect someone of that stature to be able to dance more
elegantly, Ginevra persisted.
Who? William the Conqueror? asked Sonia.
Well, him as well, now you mention it. Mind you, Boris Johnston isn’t that
great a mover and he’s more royal than Prince William and the whole bang
shoot of them.
Boris was jiggling around at the Olympics, if my memory serves me aright.
Not a pretty sight. Mind you, some of those big ones can be light on their
feet. You see it time and again on ‘Strictly’. But I don’t think Boris would do
an appearance . I mean, who would be his partner? Poor Alyona has had
enough of the weaker candidates. It’s time she was given a winner.
Top me up, Magda!
The rest of the article would have to wait.
Alan Titchmarsh, Bank Holiday, Ben Weatherstaff, Chelsea Flower Show, Cromwell, Dadaism, Diarmuid Gavin, dogulator, Existential, FT, geometrie vegetale, Hans Arp, How To Spend It, leaf spreader, leprechaun, mauvaise foi, NGS Garden scheme, Nihilism, pension forecast, pikestaff, Poundcafe, Roundhead, Secret Garden
Depressing news. Depressing weather for the Bank Holiday. Diarmuid Gavin
even pronounced the hundredth Chelsea Flower Show unimaginative and
Chlamydia looked out at the rain-soaked patio of Costamuchamoulah
must-seen cafe. Leaves swirled around and became mulch on the
She picked up an NGS brochure which was advertising various local gardens
which were to open in Suttonford to support the Anacondas In Adversity!
charity: a cause which she and her daughter, Scheherezade, fervently
She prayed for a meteorological change while stirring her Mocha, thus
destroying its award-winning fern imprint in choco-powder.
How much had she paid for this caffeine indulgence? As much as could have
bought her three houses in Stoke-on-Trent. Really, social and even solitary
caffeine was becoming a luxury she could ill afford. If her pension forecast
was anything to go by, she would be better supporting a Poundcafe
expansion from Kirby.
She flicked through last week’s FT supplement, How To Spend It. Maybe
someone could publish a spoof version and add a final ironic Not to the title.
She picked up a less pretentious publication and started to read an article on
dogulators. This had nothing to do with the abominable practice of dogging,
but was concerned with the various means and strategies for calculating
one’s canine friend’s true age.
Clammie thought that the formula was fairly simple: multiply by seven.
Apparently, like pension forecasts, it was a lot more complicated and involved
the recognition that some breeds age at different rates and that there are
periods when the pace accelerates and then slows. No wonder she was so
confused about how her age of receipt of pension contributions kept varying
and she found it hard to focus on the ever-receding pot of gilt as it miraged
out of sight under the insubstantial rainbow of her transient life.
She would have to do some work to increase her contributions. Maybe she
could create a garden design and take it to next year’s Chelsea show? It
couldn’t be so hard to gain a gold medal. There seemed to be a plethora of
She had heard Alan Titchmarsh, no doubt irritated by Gavin’s criticisms, use the
terminological inexactitude: iconoclastic, in reference to some of the designs.
She had conjured up the image of a Cromwellian regiment of out-of-control
Roundheads smashing up garden gnomes with their pikestaffs.
Hey! What if she created a moving installation using such a – she hesitated to
adopt the over-exposed abstract noun that had broken out all over Chelsea-
using such an innovative concept? She was sure that Diarmuid would be up for
a bit of Celtic licence as long as no one smashed a fibreglass leprechaun. An
art garden would be the answer to her spiritual stagnation. No- wait!- an Arp
garden. Now she was really feeling her creative sap rise!
Yes, Hans Arp had made woodcuts of leaves and forms and had just thrown
them together at random. She could imagine sitting on that elevated bench
with Alan T, discussing her concept. She would refer to Dadaism and
geometrie vegetale and might even call the plot an Existential Garden for an
Age of Nihilism.
It would be a space where she had lost the plot! She would have at its centre
two huge sculpted dice which would turn on an axis, like swivel-headed loons.
People might have to return a six to enter; or not.
She would impress Titchmarsh by echoing Arp: My garden represents a
secret, primal meaning slumbering beneath the world of appearances.
Chance points to an unknown but active principle of order and meaning
that manifests itself in the garden’s secret soul. Alan would be blown away
as if by a giant leaf vacuum. And the non-existence of any supporting
rationale would contain the ambivalence of the aforesaid appliance, as it
would contribute to a kind of chaos theory that, just like the leaf blower,
moved concepts around rather than forming them into a neat structure
and creating something useful, such as a compost heap. The leaf vacuum-
a metaphor for our time.
Secret Garden? She could place a rusting metal outline of a Ben
Weatherstaff figure leaning on a spade at its centre and a robin
could buzz around on elastic over an empty wheelchair. That might
suggest hope. On alternative days she would replace the wheelchair
with a vandalised shopping trolley, representing mauvaise foi. Brilliant!
Next year Diarmuid would not be bored, she could assure him.
(A continuation of our previous musings on Jane Austen’s eavesdroppings culled from her position beneath the floor of Winchester Cathedral.)
I see that there are to be seasonal floral displays in various churches in the Hampshire region, including St Cross. The last word on flower arranging was probably given by Alan Bennett in his Talking Heads 1 monologue, Bed Among the Lentils, about Mrs Shrubsole and the precise placement of a fir cone in her floral arrangement, Forest Murmurs.
Nevertheless, again I can imagine Jane Austen tuning into covert cathedral discussions conducted while masked by arrangements of Venus Fly Traps and burgeoning bocage.
Flower Arranger 1:
I daresay floral occupations are always desirable in girls of your girth, as a means of affording you fresh air and more exercise than you would normally take. A passion for agapanthus may be deemed somewhat amateurish, but Alan Titchmarsh may yet attend and then, who can tell where your newfound skills may lead?
Ah Pansy, you enquired as to when my grand passion first surfaced, so to speak. It developed gradually, but particularly after my first visit to my paramour’s enormous estate in Eastleigh. That is, East-leigh, as in “count-ee”; not as in “beastly.”
He is, sadly, a fit and extremely healthy older man, notwithstanding his vast cache of stocks and shares and general lack of penetration. I could endeavour to live with him, however minimal his funds, providing that I should have access to them all. I would prefer Winchester, but a villa in Sandbanks would, of course, be preferable and might prove an initial rung on the property ladder.
Yes, it would be wrong to marry for money, but foolhardy to marry without it.
How I would love to expose those furtive rummagers in designer handbags who rapidly switch off their mobiles before the bidding prayers, lest their lovers interrupt their devotions, or who use their fumbling as an avoidance technique when the offertory bags circulate.
At some of the local school services, one often hears some young prodigy, called Alethea or otherwise, make a smug, sententious remark to her doting mater. Through over- attention, the chit’s natural self-confidence has been honed into haughty assurance. Catherine Morland’s conviction still stands-ie/ that there is a violent and uncertain life which lurks under the veneer of society.
I am constantly privy to rehearsals of accomplishments and marvels of female students who all play musical instruments, achieve A*s and who compete in equine sports at the highest level. Yet, I have never heard a young lady spoken of, for the first time, without her being lauded to the Empyrean. Yet, deficiency of nature is often little assisted by education or society. A greater influence seems to be perpetrated by the expectation of property, usually acquired through trade, or, dare I suggest, a lottery ticket.
Nowadays, such nouveaux positively display themselves in society magazines, besporting themselves at various charitable functions of questionable taste. Their double-barrelled nomenclatures can scarcely be fitted into the copy without a prodigious profligacy of paper and ink.
Other self-appointed, knowledgeable women offer their medical knowledge to others, whether invited to, or not. They remind me of Lady Catherine de Burgh:
Ah, yes, my experience of the lifelong care of my valetudinarian husband has led me to recommend Echinacea during the winter months and Glucosamine throughout the year.
Their nerves command a high respect, as they have evidently been old friends with whom they have been intimately acquainted for a number of years. Truly these are women whom one cannot regard with too much deference.
And so we must leave Jane at the moment as she is a little fatigued by this peroration , but she promises to continue to amuse us on the morrow.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012