Vox Pop

You wanna know what’s wrong with the world? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the world! What’s wrong with the world is that the world isn’t Bafflesby!

Take my word for it. I know all about this stuff. Bafflesby born and bred, that’s me, man and boy! Never set foot outside the sound of her ancient bell tower, as it happens, and never wanted to. You can’t get lost here, see? The streets tell their own story. Witchfinder Way, Gibbet Gardens, Bedlam Bridge. You can’t move for history.

I’m like a stick of rock, I am, Bafflesby through and through. I got traditions built in. That’s what these Outcomers can’t understand. They’re not like us, are they? Smell different, for a start.

Old Barry Cade says they look different, too, but I wouldn’t know. To be honest with you, I can’t bear the sight of them. Last thing I wanna see is them curling their lips at our old ways, sneering at our customs. Forever asking the rules of Bladderball when any fule no there ain’t none! You either get it or you don’t.

Same with the Festival of the Flaming Firkin. Spot a stranger a mile away by his singed whiskers, the Old’uns used to say. Used to. Not no more. Six foot under, most of them, and their wisdoms buried with them! The good old days is gone for good. Anyone says he can bring them back gets my vote, even if he is pissing into the wind.

See that mausoleum through the mullion window? That was our old Squire, that was, bless his brutal heart! Time was when every job in town was in his pocket. If you wasn’t true-blue Bafflesby, you never got a sniff. He knew we was born to it, you see, it was in our blood. Natural aptitude, he used to say, comes with the territory. We didn’t need telling what to do, all that nonsense! Nowadays it’s all, What do I have to do?

They tell them, too. Waste of money even if they are paying them less! Back in the day we never needed no training up. Hit the ground running and – Bob’s your Uncle! – you got a job for life. Not just your life, neither, the job were yours to pass on. Keep it in the family, they used to say, and the family will keep you.

Not no more. These days the thought police are everywhere. They got to have interviews. All these Outcomers talking stuff they don’t know. Asking things. We never had to ask nothing.

Same as the Facts of Life. No one said nothing. You kept one eye open and your ear to the ground in them days, then if something arose you jumped at the chance. You don’t have to go to college to cook a pie, they used to say, may they rest in peace …

Ha, fat chance of that, they’ll all be spinning in their graves! They wouldn’t recognise the place now. All these new estates, you get lost on them, with their Anyroad Avenues and Whatchamacallit Walks. Go to the end of your street and you don’t know where the hell you are. No point asking a constable because there aren’t any. And the ones in cars don’t like you flagging them down. It’s a war-zone out there.

Worst of it is, the enemy don’t wear different uniforms. Muggers, rapists, murderers … they look just like you. Once upon a time there was just the village idiot and the old witch who used to shout things at you. You knew who they were because their jobs ran in the family. They came from a long line of idiots and witches. They just knew what to do. Now they got to have interviews. Political correctness gone mad, I call it, taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. And you can’t crack a joke without po-faced prudes breathing down your neck. Anyone who gets those creeps off my back can have my vote.

What’s wrong with the world is too many creeps. Anyone takes a sledgehammer to my back door has a surprise coming, I can tell you. Can’t tell you what it is, so don’t ask, but let’s say I’m good and ready. Fort Knox has nothing on me. Time was when you could leave your back door open in case Old Mother Hubbard came round for a cup of sugar. Now you don’t know who is outside your house trying to sell you exploding clothes-pegs  and foreign encyclopaedias. And if Ma Hubbard gets both barrels, tough!

So anyone says he’ll Bring Bafflesby Back gets my vote, even if he just wants to turn it into a theme park. He doesn’t need to change anything much, as long as he shoots his big mouth off about people I don’t like so that I can too. Time was you could say whatever you wanted. Now it’s all, button your lip in case you upset every little waif and stray in the big cruel world.

Well, losers, get used to it! The candidate who gets my vote will shoot first and ask questions later. The candidate who gets my vote will always say the first thing that pops into their head just like I do. The candidate who gets my vote will promise me the moon without waiting to commission a boring old feasibility study. And after no consideration whatsoever, I have decided that the only person worthy of my vote is me. My election campaign begins here.

Image result for vote meImage: Clipart Kid


when the music’s over turn out the light

Lear, the aging king of Britain, decides to step down from the throne and divide his kingdom evenly among his three daughters. First, however, he puts his daughters through a test, asking each to tell him how much she loves him. Goneril and Regan, Lear’s older daughters, give their father flattering answers. But Cordelia, Lear’s youngest and favorite daughter, remains silent, saying that she has no words to describe how much she loves her father. Lear flies into a rage and disowns Cordelia, who flees his court.

Lear quickly learns that he made a bad decision. Goneril and Regan swiftly begin to undermine the little authority that Lear still holds. Unable to believe that his beloved daughters are betraying him, Lear slowly goes insane. He flees his daughters’ houses to wander on a heath during a great thunderstorm. With nobody left to do his bidding, he tries to command the weather:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, an germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man.

This is a tyrant who has lost power and wants everyone else to suffer for it. It seems a small step to the final days of Hitler in his Berlin bunker, still gripped by delusion, willing the destruction of the German people because they have let him down. They haven’t fought hard enough. Not a thought for the pain and sacrifice he has put them through.

Hitler is the ultimate psychopathic narcissist: it’s all about him. Yet Lear has retained some humanity and begins to realise that others are suffering too. He’s not the only one out in the cold. There are flashes of compassion and then this remarkable moment of lucid insight and empathy:

Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.

The greatness of this play is that it dares to ask the big questions, still unresolved 400 years later. Is it really every man for himself or are we somehow responsible for one another? If power corrupts, does absolute power corrupt absolutely? And should the poor be content with whatever trickles down to them from the tables of the rich?

Same old questions. But wild new questions arise which Shakespeare can hardly have meant to ask. Is the weather punishing us for ingratitude, after all? Not content with the bounty of nature, have we greedily pushed her to the edge of destruction? Our destruction, that is, and the destruction of our fellow species … nature herself will do fine without us … oh, and the ants and cockroaches!

It’s not a cheery view and recalls Jim Morrison’s cry on an old Doors track, ‘When The Music’s Over’:

What have we done to the Earth?
What have we done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her,
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn,
And tied her with fences and dragged her down.

Of course, some people don’t accept there’s a problem. Why, they ask, should we believe warnings from scientists who keep telling us they don’t have the funding to do a good job? And we have dominion over the earth, don’t we, giving us carte blanche to rip up the joint? Tell you what, honey, you sweet-talk me good and I’ll fetch you the goddam moon! I’m famous, see, I can make stuff happen …

How’s that for poetry?

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Image: funny-pictures.picphotos.net

Please Stand Well Back …

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Outside my window fireworks are exploding to mark the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot over 400 years ago, when the English parliament was saved from fiery destruction. I don’t suppose many people are celebrating that far-off event, though, and I’ll bet there aren’t many bonfires topped with effigies of the plotter Guy Fawkes. He may even be a popular hero now, for all I know, admired by those who could imagine themselves lighting the blue touch-paper to barrels of high-explosive under the modern parliament.

There is an irony that some who wanted to increase the sovereignty of our own parliament by voting to leave the EU are now furious that three high-court judges – ‘enemies of the people’ according to several pro-Brexit newspapers – have ruled that the procedure of leaving should be determined by parliament and not an unelected executive acting under the ancient and archaic crown prerogative. Divisions run deep and the fissure may widen further. Watch this space …

There’s a vacuum here as if everyone has just taken a sharp intake of air. Across the Atlantic, too, people are holding their breath before the Presidential race enters its final lap and breaks into a hell-for-leather gallop. Didn’t I once see Vladimir Putin on a horse? Wonder who he’s backing …

Hey-ho! Amidst all the hot air, I notice that the WordPress Daily Prompt is Hyperbole. I never look a gift horse in the mouth, so here is my weary contribution to the moment.

H ere
Y ou are, the luckiest
P erson who
E ver lived,
R eading the
B est poem
O n the internet.
L et that astonishing thought sink in. What could possibly go wrong?
E r …

Ha, must be able to do better than that! Suspect I’m all out of hyperbole. Wonder why

H ow can you mend
Y our wounded
P ride if not by
E recting
R ickety-rackety towers of words and
B uilding walls
O f opaque
L anguage to
E levate your amour propre?

Hmm … ah well, never mind, I do find the constraints of an acrostic oddly comforting at this peculiar time when I can’t actually think of anything constructive to say yet have a strong urge to say something. If it turns out to be useless, I can always blame the limitations of the form. And maybe it’ll be third time lucky …

H old
Y our four horses
P lease, apocalyptical
E questrians, or you’ll
R ide us down
B efore we have a chance
O f proving that
L ove really was the
E lixir of Life.

All will be well as long as we take sensible precautions against those pesky worst-case scenarios …

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The Mortimer Arms



Time to post something, methinks, but I’m all out of original ideas so here are two acrostic poems in response to the Daily Prompt … the rather appropriate Copycat.

C an’t you just strut your
O wn stuff for once, without
P arading all
Y our convoluted
C horeography
A s though it came cascading from
T he heart and not your calculating head?

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C aptain Beefheart
O nly ever sang and
P layed like himself.
Y ou
C ould fall
A sleep forever, he warned, dancing
T o the Mama Beat with the in-crowd.

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The Next Step Forward?

by Bafflesby Beacon roving reporter Watt Ware

Tongues  are wagging all over Bafflesby about the mystery construction that has been rising from the ancient dust of the now-demolished Shirehall Public Library And Theatre (SPLAT) like a phoenix from the ashes. Imagine a phoenix wearing a cool pair of shades and you might capture the soul of this new building with its opaque walls of mirror glass reflecting your own puzzled expression back at yourself.

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Donning an appropriate pair of Ray-Bans, I venture out in search of Beacon readers through streets awash with wild surmise and afloat with a thousand theories. It’s time to test the water.

SPLAT near-neighbour Ria Wynn-Doe, 74, sounds relieved. ‘Well,’ she tells me, ‘anything’s better than having a horde of undesirables peering through your lace curtains. That arty-farty place lured them in like moths. Some days it was Night of the Living Dead round here. Beads, beards and bare feet – you know the type – and half of them only in there to warm themselves up for free and gratis, thank you very much! Rest of them was most likely gawping at naked bodies and glorying in smutty dialogue at the taxpayer’s expense! And as for all those books, I’d have had a bonfire!’

Si Knightley, 19, isn’t so sure. ‘I never went in but me and my dad used to walk his dog round the Shirehall and look at all those Greek statues on the outside. Frieze, he called it. I’m not surprised because they didn’t have no clothes on. Wonder what happened to them. Do you reckon they put them in there?’ He was pointing at the new building. ‘I would of.’

In the Culled Badger the ale is flowing, along with the conversation. There’s a copy of The Bafflesby Beacon on the bar. It’s a good sign. I ask them about the new building.

‘I got a mate in the know,’ Bill de Wall, 63, tells me, ‘and he says it’s a hostel for migrants. What it is, you can’t see inside so there’s no way of knowing how many are in there. But they can see out so they’ll be able to watch our every move. Plan their operations. That’s what my mate reckons. He’s got this mate in the know, see?’

Someone else, who won’t give his name but says he isn’t Joe King, will have none of this. ‘Nah, what it is, it’s a five-star prison for famous people who’ve been done for doing bad stuff to people who aren’t famous. All these left-wing luvvies, it’s one big club, they’re all in it together. They got secret signs and all sorts. Goes right to the top, too, that’s why you never hear about it. Hush-hush, see? You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Just behind that glass they’re living in the lap of luxury and laughing because nobody can see who they really are. You can’t hear a thing but they’re laughing at you, right now!’

At this point the pub landlady buts in. ‘A few pints of Old Conspiracy and these monkeys start imagining the mice behind the wainscot are plotting to pinch their peanuts.’ She glances around, leans towards me and lowers her voice. ‘No, sweetheart, if you want to learn the truth you must gain access to the Dark Web and ask for Daffy Duck. Don’t laugh, there are mysterious forces in this world and far beyond her that mean to rid the galaxy of humankind and all its idiot progeny. Next thing you know, these mirror boxes will be everywhere. Today Bafflesby, Tomorrow Never Knows. By the way, despite all appearances, this is Happy Hour. You can drink three pints of Old Conspiracy for the price of one.’

I make my excuses and leave without telling them the real truth, that The Bafflesby Beacon has just signed a rental contract with the owners of MirrorBox House and will be moving in before the day is out. I don’t tell them how its unique 360 degree all-round vista will facilitate our hi-tech sight-and-sound surveillance of Bafflesby now that the phone-hacking scandal has deprived us journalists of optimum listening capability.

Or it will do once we’ve cut down all those old trees. I don’t tell them that, either. Never mind. They can read all about it here.

The Bafflesby Beacon Says …

You can rest assured, Bafflesbytes, that the ever-watchful Beacon is on your case. Now, more than ever, we will guard you against those who seek to make unwanted intrusions into your placid lives. We are primed and ready to blow the whistle at the very first sign of the enemy at your door, be they false friends or foreigners or even foraging aliens.

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 Images: pinterest.com

Stop Press: Truth Stranger Than Fiction!

The only newspaper I read is The Guardian every Saturday. I’m pretty comfortable with its broadly liberal, slightly left-of-centre viewpoint. And there’s so much to read it lasts me well into the week.

On a bus the other day I picked up a discarded copy of The Sun, a right-of-centre tabloid. I flicked through it and found myself torn between laughter and horror at its unhealthy diet of salacious gossip and prurient titillation. Not for the first time I found myself wondering whether this rag – you can’t call it a newspaper because it has little actual news or analysis – creates or simply confirms a narrowly philistine and frankly nasty mind-set in its regular readers.

Aha, I think to myself, let’s cleanse the palate with another post set in my fictional town of Bafflesby. The spoof tabloid can be called something alliterative – the Bafflesby Bullhorn, maybe, with a silly motto like ‘We Shout Louder Than You’ – and sending this garbage up will be a walk in the park …

Wrong! As screwed-up pieces of paper piled up on the carpet, it began to occur to me that this stuff is beyond satire. Who would ever believe me if my headline article was anything like the one they actually printed:


Jet perv films up BA girl’s undercarriage


A FIRST Class British Airways passenger has been arrested amid claims he used a phone to film up a stewardess’s skirt at 30,000ft.

Businessman Martyn Mennis, 61, is alleged to have pushed the handset under the 26-year-old (Continued on Page Four)

There is nothing else on the front page. I would remind you that The Sun, unlike the Bafflesby Bullhorn, is a national newspaper at a time when major domestic and international events are coming thick and fast …

One confession, though, I did change the names. Maybe I will be able to do a parody, after all, but my satirical target – The Sun – has set the bar pretty high … or should that be low? The prospect of writing it makes me feel a bit grubby. I wonder if Sun journalists feel grubby, or do they just get used to it? Perhaps they’ve all got thick skins to begin with …

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Image: ClipArtBest.com


OK, this isn’t like Houston, we have a problem … the bravery behind those words puts my little hiccup into perspective.

My little hiccup? Well, my comments are not appearing in other people’s blogs. Or rather, mostly not appearing because for some reason the occasional one shows up. One person said they had received a message from me in a foreign language with an unfamiliar script, which suggests I’ve been hijacked or whatever the word is.

I like to comment on other people’s posts. Blogging is a community activity and any support I get is contingent on any support I can give. But my side isn’t working so please bear with me until I can get to the bottom of the problem.

I’ve posted my problem on the WordPress public forum and asked Akismet to look into the possibility that I’m being treated as spam. I don’t know what more I can do, as I’m not a paying customer. Has this happened to anyone else, I wonder? I would be grateful for any advice about what may have happened and what to do next.

Life and death it ain’t, but it sure feels uncomfortable …

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