Friday, 23 December 2011


I read where this reporter had a friend who bought a turkey and it was run over twice. That beats my turkey which was only run over the once. But I never miss a chance to repeat the story at this time of the year:

I keep going back in my mind to the Christmas when I was out of work and this pal of mine said: "Don’t suppose you will be having much of a Christmas?"

I said: "If I wanted a mince pie I would have to buy it on H.P. We will be out on Xmas Day because it is warmer out than it is in the house. I have promised the kids we will go to Radio Rentals to watch the Queen's Speech through the window. Then we are going to a park to mug robins for their breadcrumbs."

"Not having a bird on The Day then?"

"Not unless I can grab one of the robins as we steal its breadcrumbs."

He said: "Why don't you nip down to the market just before it closes on Xmas Eve? They practically give birds away. Then," he said, "come to the Press Party at the Continental Cinema."

So I did. I picked up a chicken with my last fifty pence and went to the party. Where I set up a record for drinking free scotch and eating vol-au-vents that remained unbroken for many years.

Then this guest said: "Let's play rugby."

Another guest said: "We haven't got a ball."

A third guest said: "Yes, we have," and grabbed the parcel of chicken from where it had been roosting under my arm.

Everyone but me applauded the skill with which the next guest, a rather showy chap, executed a back pass with my parcel between his legs.

I was less pleased than anyone when another guest followed through with a drop kick.

It was powerful, I will say that. It sent the parcel soaring across the foyer, out into the street, over the heads of the passers-by, to drop, perfectly positioned, under the tyre of a passing bus.

They were all very apologetic. The manager of the cinema particularly. He said he hoped the parcel hadn't contained anything important. I said, no, it was just a chicken I got for tea on Boxing Night.

For the rest of the party I was a bit thoughtful, though I did manage to clock up a further freeloader's record of eighteen scotch and a round dozen vol-au-vents.

At the death the manager came up and gave me a parcel. "I hope you will accept this replacement with our apologies," he said.

It was a twelve pound turkey. Which would have been nice... but we didn't have an oven at the time, just a gas grill. So we had to cook it a leg at a time.It was a twelve pound turkey. Which would have been nice... but we didn't have an oven at the time, just a gas grill. So we had to cook it a leg at a time.


From one of my favourite writers, the incomparable Geoff Mather, comes this Xmas cheer...

Concert review from the Bangkok Post 27/08/98:

The recital last evening in the chamber music room of the Erewan Hotel by US pianist Myron Kropp can only be described by this reviewer as one of the most interesting experiences he has witnessed in a long time.

With sparse, sandy hair, a sallow complexion, and a deceptively frail looking frame, the man who has re-popularised Johann Sebastian Bach approached the Baldwin Concert Grand, bowed to the audience, and placed himself upon the stool. As 1 have mentioned before, the Baldwin Concert Grand, while basically a fine instrument needs constant attention, particularly in a climate such as Bangkok. In this humidity, the felts which separate the white keys from the black tend to swell, causing an occasional key to stick, which apparently was the case last night with the D in the second octave.

During the "Raging Storm" section of the D Minor Toccata and Fugue, Mr

Kropp must be complimented for putting up with the awkward D. However, some who attended the performance later questioned whether the awkward key justified some of the language which was heard coming from the stage during the softer passages of the fugue. During one passage, Mr Kropp turned around completely so that, whereas before his remarks had been aimed largely at the piano and were therefore somewhat muted, to his surprise and that of those in the chamber music room, he found himself addressing himself directly to the audience. But such things do happen, and the person who began to laugh deserves to be severely reprimanded for this undignified behaviour.

Unfortunately, laughter is contagious, and by the time it had subsided and the audience had regained its composure Mr Kropp appeared to be somewhat shaken. Nevertheless he swivelled himself back into position facing the piano and, leaving the fugue unfinished, commenced on the Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor. Why the concert grand piano's G key in the third octave chose that particular time to begin sticking I hesitate to guess. However, it is certainly safe to say that Mr Kropp did nothing to help matters when he began using his feet to kick the lower portion of the piano instead of operating the pedals as is generally done.

Possibly it was this jarring that caused the right front leg of the piano to buckle slightly inward, leaving the entire instrument listing at a 35-degree angle from that which is normal. A gasp went up from the audience, followed by a sigh of relief as Mr Kropp slowly rose from the stool and left the stage. A few men in the back of the room began clapping, and when Mr Kropp reappeared a few moments later it seemed he was responding to the ovation. Apparently, however, he had left to get the red-handled fire axe which was hung back stage, and began chopping at the legs of the piano.

When the weakened legs finally collapsed altogether and Mr Kropp continued to chop, it became obvious to all that he had no intention of going on with the concert. The ushers came rushing in and, with the help of the hotel manager, two Indian watchmen, and a passing police corporal, finally succeeded in disarming Mr Kropp and dragging him off the stage.


The passing of Christopher Hitchens did little for my Xmas spirit.

From the New York Times I pass on some of his invariably wise words:

On what gives life meaning:
“A life that partakes even a little of friendship, love, irony, humor, parenthood, literature, and music, and the chance to take part in battles for the liberation of others cannot be called ‘meaningless’ except if the person living it is also an existentialist and elects to call it so.” (“Hitch-22″)

On friendship:
“One melancholy lesson of advancing years is the realization that you can’t make old friends.” (Harper’s magazine, 1999)

On public speaking:
“If you can give a decent speech in public or cut any kind of figure on the podium, then you need never dine or sleep alone.” (“Hitch-22″)

On alcohol:
“On the whole, observe the same rule about gin martinis – and all gin drinks – that you would in judging female breasts: one is far too few, and three is one too many. Do try to eat the olives: they can be nutritious.” (Vanity Fair, 2003)

My friend Mike Flynn whom many will remember from Radio Wales writes;

Hi Ian

I hope you are feeling well and fully primed for the festivities.

My wife was in Tesco's yesterday and was trying to check out with three packs of aspirin and a pack of Strepsils.

It appears they are not allowed to sell you that combination. Three packs of aspirin are the limit but not with Strepsils. Or you can have three packs of Strepsils but no aspirin.

However if you want to drink yourself to death there no limit.