'The time has come,' the Blogger said, 'To talk of many things: Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax — Of cabbages — and kings — And why the sea is boiling hot — And whether pigs have wings.' 'But wait a bit,' the Reader cried, 'Before you start your post, Consider customer fatigue Where some give up the ghost Whenever folk go rambling on With length their only boast.' 'Let's talk instead,' the Blogger said, 'Of what you really need: The benefit of minds like mine Is very fine indeed — Now if you're ready, Reader dear, You can begin to feed.' 'But not on you!' the Reader cried, Turning a little blue. 'To wade through half-baked tripe would be A dismal thing to do!' 'It's tit for tat,' the Blogger said, 'If I unfollow you!' 'Please yourself,' the Reader shrugged, 'It's all the same to me.' But deep inside, well, something cried: A blogger's heart, you see, While over in the Blogger dwelt A reader's sympathy. 'It seems a shame,' the Blogger said, 'To play this spiteful game, When mutual support so far Has been our climbing frame.' The Reader, oh, said nothing but Was thinking just the same! with apologies to Lewis Carroll
My mini-history of comedy music is coming to an end.
That’s not because I’ve run out of material – on the contrary, I’ve never produced so many draft posts, each with a musical comedy gem waiting for me to add some words of introduction. I just think it’s time to wind things up.
My previous post took a turn towards a harder edge of humour with satirical sideswipes at the Vietnam War (Country Joe MacDonald) and Cult Religion (Frank Zappa), so how about keeping the satire sizzling with this splendid spoof from Down Under that kicked new life into the semi-comatose novelty-song genre?
It’s also, by my standards, bang up-to-date – well, more recent than most of what I listen to! – which may improve my somewhat shabby street-cred and help me get down with the kids and stuff. So for now I’ll leave Chas & Dave and The Two Ronnies, not to mention The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band … [You just did! Ed.] … though of course I’m always open to reader requests … [So much for street-cred! Get on with it! Ed.]
Yeah, right, don’t want to alienate the younger element … future of blogging and all that … so it’s over to “New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo” for something or other hot and happening from where it’s at … [Where’s that? Ed.]
It was two years ago today that Bafflesby Borough Council – responding to the widespread perception that it was doing nothing much about anything at all – voted to hold a people’s plebiscite that posed a single, seemingly-simple question:
Are you in favour of change? Yes No (tick one only)
The result was famously close. After several recounts Bafflesby’s Returning Officer, a very weary Ida Clare, gave the victory to Yes by one vote.
In keeping with the Town Motto Better Late Than Never, Bafflesbytes then began a furious debate which – arguably – they should have conducted before the vote, about how much change they actually did want when push came to shove. Some thought lots, lots thought some and lots more thought none. The only area of agreement was that nobody trusted anybody else either to change anything or to keep it the same.
Ever happy to serve our fellow citizens, we at the Bafflesby Bugle are throwing open the pages of our publication for all and sundry to have their four-pennyworth! Not getting your point across in the pub or over the breakfast table? Bursting with big ideas? Well, friends and readers, here’s your chance to let rip!
Today’s precious print platform goes to Curio Corner proprietor and part-time local historian Luke Backwoods, who reckons we can learn a thing or two from the distant past:
My big idea is to rebuild the medieval walls that used to go right round Bafflesby. Can’t beat heritage, can you, when it comes to pulling in the tourists? You could vet them at the gate to keep out undesirables. Any of them turn up with foreign bugs you just keep them in the gatehouse till they get better.
Or say the police are looking for shoplifters in Bafflesby. Put the word out. Lockdown. Besides, building up the walls again means jobs for local people. And you could stop all these cheap memorabilia products flooding the market. Charge them tariffs when they come over the drawbridge. Plus you’d have a portcullis when things start to kick off with other places.
Improve morale no end. Peace of mind all round. Easy.
Image: Bluffton University
With a little help from online friends, I’ve figured out that the glitch in my blog-post production-line is down to disappointment with the world.
Not the natural world, of course, but the rowdy human element that threatens its stability. Crown of Creation, my arse! Oh, we know enough as a species to make things better but currently we seem hell-bent on making them worse. We resemble nothing so much as a bunch of toddlers throwing our toys out of the playpen.
I say we but too often it’s us and them as our much-vaunted global communication network splinters into weird cabals, soundproof silos and oddball obsessions. Knowledge itself is under attack, with truth obscured beneath a toxic cloud of clueless prejudice and wilful falsification. Once upon a time rules governed what was published. Nowadays, it seems, anything goes! I suspect today’s most widely-read author is named Anon.
As a matter of indisputable fact, I have just become ruler of the universe and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it …
Fake news, of course, because Donald Trump beat me to it. Probably.
As to genuine tidings, here’s an update. My loss of voice – notwithstanding this hysterical babble! – is really dismay that nothing I can possibly come up with will make a blind bit of difference. My mum’s withering comparison for something – or someone – utterly useless springs to mind: like a fart in a colander!
Come to think of it, that’s a handy descriptor for a fair few things you read on social media. Wind and hot air. Let’s hope the warming doesn’t go global … whoops, too late!
Ha, now there’s an example of my problem. Everything, it seems, plays out on the big stage. And here am I, waiting in the wings for a walk-on part afraid of fluffing my only line and dropping my spear.
Those encouraging responses to my
cry for help previous post come back to me … start from where you are … stick to what you know … keep it short and sweet … write what makes you happy … all of them solid-gold suggestions when the currency of public discourse is so debased. A world in uproar is a good place to set your own house in order. Home truths hit hardest, they say, and shine brightest … enlightenment is the only thing denialists truly fear.
This isn’t to limit what you can write about. Reading some short stories by Herman Hesse, I learn that his childhood ambition to be a magician stemmed from a dissatisfaction with what people conventionally called ‘reality’. Later in life, by magic he came to mean the transformation of reality – the creation of a wholly new reality – in his writing. Northrop Frye observed that ‘fantasy is the normal technique for fiction writers who do not believe in the permanence or continuity of the society they belong to.’ JRR Tolkien defined fantasy as ‘the making or glimpsing of Other-worlds’ and Hesse’s stories often display the ‘arresting strangeness’, the ‘freedom from the domination of observed fact’ that Tolkien called the essential qualities of fantasy.
All of that leaves plenty of wriggle-room, I reckon. Truth doesn’t have to be mundane. The other day I was puzzling over my very young grandson’s invariably scatological response to perfectly reasonable questions like Who did you play with at nursery today? and What would you like for your dinner? Instead of admonishing him, I decided to have a little fun myself. Adopting a cod French accent, I would launch into something along these lines:
Ah yes, your words, zey take me back to zose far-off times in gay Paree – in 1923 – ze Café Royale in Montmartre – oh, such music, such dancing! – and ze most beautiful dancer of zem all, ze leetle French ballerina Pupu – what was eet we call her for short? – ah yes, Pu – and Oui we cry as her lurvely leetle dance ends Oui Oui Encore Une Fois Pupu Oui Oui …
You get the idea. It wasn’t long before my peculiar little outbursts started to do the trick. Now he gives a straight answer, more often than not. Like most audiences, he may be aware something has gone on but he won’t know exactly what …
Tombstone was a one-horse town.
This was no metaphor. Sole equine-licencee Mayor Hiram N. Firam rented out Ol’ Lightnin’ to anyone fool enough to ride her. Nervous townsfolk accepted his transport monopoly after a thousand mystery posters appeared, painting alternative scenarios of horse-manure up to their rooftops.
Several brave souls claimed the only ordure was on the posters until Judge Firam ruled that metaphor was banned under the new Plain-Speaking Ordinance, which also proscribed foreign words and public pronouncements of more than 140 characters.
When folk headed for the hills they were greeted with huge signs advertising the officially-authorised Hiram Hideout.
Tomorrow Britain votes on whether to leave or remain in the EU. The campaign hasn’t exactly been a barrel of laughs and – whatever the outcome – our battle scars will last for some time.
Here’s a wonderful spoof of the What have the Romans ever done for us? sketch in the Monty Python film Life of Brian to lighten the mood a little and remind everyone of one thing we Brits do
supremely quite well – ironic humour!
Welcome, Willkommen, Bienvenue
This brochure celebrates Bafflesby As Tourist Town Year (BATTY) and supports our bid to be included in the 2017 edition of ‘1001 Places To See Before You Die’. The publishers of this influential list – Offshaw&Gonn – confirm they won’t be changing the title, so our bid has to be better than just one of the 1001 destinations in the 2016 edition. Put another way, 1000 places can be better than Bafflesby and we’ll still get in the book. You might think there’s time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards. We couldn’t possibly comment …
We can ask a question, though. How many resorts on the Costa Helluvalotta can boast world-class crown-green bowls clubs, eh? As a much-loved Irish comedian used to say, ‘Come here, there’s more!’
Not many people know that the inner linings of this funny guy’s distinctive hats were made in Bafflesby nor that he returned the favour in a memorable appearance at the since-demolished Variety Theatre. But the town has many other claims to fame. Come here, there’s more!
Bafflesby is said to be named after the ancient king and self-proclaimed saint, Barf. Local tradition has it that St Barf’s remains are buried in one of the many caves that run beneath the town. It is believed he died after drinking bad beer. Local hostelries that celebrate the connection to this day include The Barf Tavern, The Royal Cascade, BarFly, The Crown and Bucket, Binge Inn, Hair Of The Lapdog and The King’s Head. Local hangovers are known as Barf’s Burden.
Wine Into Water
Bafflesby is renowned for what goes on after dark. The young-at-heart can groove on down to the Riverside Quarter, where swanky eateries – dine a la maison or faire le takeaway, the choice is yours – compete with pulsating nightclubs and chillout massage parlours to arouse their customers’ fickle and fading powers of attention. Feel the frisson of excitement on the streets as Barflesby’s tradition of bad beer takes its toll on patience and self-control. Fight or flight – it’s up to you!
At the heart of the Riverside Quarter is Fossock’s Fountain, installed by Sir Henry ‘Fussy’ Fossock in 1856 to bring fresh water to the drinking classes. He was one of Bafflesby’s great colourful characters – teetotaller, evangelist, nature poet, butterfly hunter, slum landlord, slave trader, arms dealer and fondly-remembered town mayor.
Gang Aft Agley
It was also the birthplace of polymath and renaissance woman Mimi Scatterball who was described by HG Wells, after their brief love affair, as ‘quite good at everything she turned her hand to’. Who’s Who describes her as ‘artist, sculptor, playwright, poet, composer, choreographer, singer, musician, spiritualist medium and carpenter’, and adds that several one-woman shows recreating her carnal relations with the ghost of Scots poet Rabbie Burns were famous for their tiny audiences. Visit her home and marvel at hundreds of musical instruments, thousands of incomplete manuscripts and millions of unfinished pencil drawings. Blocks of wood and stone still wait in every room for the touch of hammer and chisel.
These days her grandson Giorgio lives in the family home, trying to ignore the streams of visitors who interrupt his obsessive blogging and interfere with his elaborate literary projects. To the delight of all, he has perfected the art of lobbing crumpled balls of paper into wastepaper baskets while cursing the rattle and roar of passing trains in fluent Italian.
Chuff Chuff, Me Old China!
The Bafflesby-Toffsham Railway, saved from Doctor Beeching’s chopper by a bunch of anorak-clad train-spotters, transports us back to a world of nostalgia. Experience all over again the acrid stink of coal-smoke in your clothes, the surly misdirections of peak-capped porters, the insolent curl of stale ham-sandwiches washed down with cracked cups of lightly-stewed lukewarm tea. Use your hand to wipe a hole in historic window grease and glimpse glorious passing scenery.
When you’re sick of travel or maybe travel-sick why not stop off at one of the lonely Halts along the way? Escape the stuffy air of Baffle Valley altogether by climbing steep Windy Hill to King Barf’s Column, popular local nickname for a 19th Century folly erected by Sir Kit Trayning to commemorate his failure to consummate a one-sided love-affair. Race up interior stone steps and gasp as you come upon a cracking view of three counties – when the prevailing mist allows – but watch out for descending sheep!
Not for nothing has the vista been called ‘Little Switzerland’! The prestigious PR firm Say What? who came up with the slogan a few years back certainly didn’t come cheap but we hope the extra tourism it attracts may one day help us break even on the deal.
While you’re up there, don’t miss the cave said to be the haunt of humorous highwayman Stan Dan De Leiver – real name unknown! – and his mare Gibbet. Some claim to have heard the clink of ancient coins but those spoilsport spelaeologists at Bafflesby University Museum (BUM) put it down to landslip proclivities in the overhead stratas – whatever that means!
Mimi Scatterball found the sensational scenery so distracting that she kept the curtains shut. Amusingly, she would then complain that she couldn’t see to work as her pet reptiles had eaten all the candles.
Visitors in August may be lucky enough to see The Parade of Purity, a ceremonial procession of virgins that dates back to pagan times and by tradition ends with a fertility dance. For some reason the numbers taking part in the parade have dwindled over the years. It has been decided that the next dance will be held in the church hall where it can be more easily supervised. The ceilidh band will once again be Mutual Climax.
The morning after – Barf’s Burdens permitting! – why not visit the festive fragrance of Bafflesby’s very own Wild Flower Show to witness a promiscuous profusion of nature’s endangered blooms – buttercups, daisies, dandelions, thistles, nettles and many more – delightfully displayed in a faux-natural meadow-style setting with specially-installed Sunlyte-Symulation (R). “A blaze of colour in a big tent” – Bafflesby Local User Radio (BLUR)
Town Arts and Country Crafts
Nip next door to the Ewell B Flush Art Emporium which features an ever-changing programme of exhibitions chasing while trying to lead the never-ending shifts in public taste. Upcoming shows include Replica Rooms from Reality Television, Famous Faces on Fabric (designer T shirts available) and the perennial Golfers Upmarket Fashion Fest (GUFF).
If you prefer your bric-a-brac with a rustic edge, why not pay a visit to the Bafflesby Seasonal Experience (BSE) and marvel how this once-quarantined dairy farm has turned itself around. Get up close and personal with the cutest creatures. Bet on the outcome of snail-racing or feed pages of this brochure to greedy goats – they’ll swallow anything! Try your hand at milking llamas or feeding baby creatures to our troupe of killer raptors. And your kids will love swimming with sharks in our bloodthirsty Jaws-style aquarium.
Splash Out On Yourself. Go on. You deserve it.
Way off the beaten tourist track, Bafflesby has plenty of surprises in store. You’ll be amazed at the amount of good-value accommodation, ranging from cheap and cheerful all the way down to miserly and miserable … Haha, just kidding, of course … a little taste of the local speciality, our cheery sense of humour in the face of impossible odds! Floods, ha, we’re a flood of merriment and mirth … geddit? And if you should ever weary of our relentless ribaldry, just ask a friendly Bafflesbyte to point you the hell out of town.
He’ll be only too happy to oblige.