Murphy's Lore is back - for a third series.
All 94 episodes are available here on the HebWeb.
In Episode Two, there's a bowler's run up, walking to Buskerville, Adam and Eve and a suffragette's muse, ancient misogyny and Pandora, a bog boogie, losing legs in beds, Bob all over, where to find your mPGC, an ignoble Lord, a fable for friends and a drowning boy.
The bowler's run up
Spring is busting out all over the grass verges round here. In the garden a handsome chaffinch repetitively complains "Pink!", although he can draw from ten tunes in his back catalogue when he's in the mood. One song, that starts with rapid notes and ends with a flourish, is known as 'The bowler's run up.' He'll use it to tempt a female, around the time that the new cricket season begins.
Apparently, people who walk vigorously for three hours per week are biologically 10 years younger than their more indolent contemporaries. So I've started to push the pace on my daily expeditions to Buskerville. Being on the deficit side as far as attention span goes, I'm easily distracted by litter, scenery and greetings from passers by, but I reckon I could stay focused if I had a race walker's mindset, heel and toeing it along with a fiercely determined look on my face. Unfortunately, I think the sashaying of my rear end might make me look like a Dick Emery impersonator.
At Manchester Art Gallery we admired Eve tempted, by the Yorkshire Pre-Raphaelite, John Stanhope. It depicts the moment when Eve's thirst for knowledge caused her to ignore God's warning. This fall from grace and Eve's seductive enticement of hapless Adam, has led to women getting a bad press ever since.
In pagan mythology, Mother Goddess Ninhursag created Goddess Ninti ('lady of the rib') in order to nurse and heal Enki, the God of Water. Enki decided to graze on some forbidden flowers and was cursed by Ninhursag. If this sounds familiar, guess what - the pagan version is the original tale. So it was actually Man who caused humanity's woes. Would you Adam and Eve it?
Amongst the less famous works in the collection, we were struck by 'suffragette painter' Annie Swinnerton's image of a young girl wearing armour and wings, ready to take on the world.
Where did you get that hat?
Outside the gallery, an old guy in a woolly bobble hat asked me where I got my trilby. I did a twirl and hoped that I'd bought it at some cutting edge outlet that only guys with fashion antenna in full working order would know. Then I took it off and checked the label. Mmm …
"St Michael gave it to me," I wish I'd said.
I've reread Hesiod's tale of Zeus ranting at Prometheus: "You are glad that you have outwitted me and stolen fire – a great plague on you and on men that shall be! For I will give men, as the price for fire, an evil thing in which they may all feel glad at heart - while they embrace their very own destruction!"
The 'evil thing' being women. Happily, artists have come to recognise the mysogyny in those ancient tales. Pandora, for instance, is now represented as overcome by curiosity, rather than malignant intent.
Ones and twos in loos
Responding to a call of nature, I was sitting on a clammy loo seat in one of our public toilets, when it became a pit of darkness. So I waved my arms around like a clubber at a DJ bar till light was restored. Recently, this issue of erratic luminosity has come closer to home.
As we age, men's sleep is often interrupted by trips to the toilet. In order to improve my performance in this drowsy condition, I have adopted a practice of leaning above our loo with one hand on a tiled ledge for balance, allowing my free hand to assist my aim. This strategy worked well, till PW decided that, when son or guest is in the bedroom next to the loo, I'm banned from pulling the light switch cord in case I wake them. So she has installed sensitive but silent lighting strips, which look like those phasers in Star Wars but aren't as much fun. They light up in response to movement.
Next time we had a visitor sleep over at ours, I tiptoed along the landing and was stooped over our loo at a 45 degree angle at precisely quarter to three Frank Sinatra time when I was suddenly enveloped in blackness. I took my supporting hand from the wall, wanting to wave it around in the required manner, but - momentarily forgetting the laws of gravity - I fell forward and lightly headbutted the aforementioned ledge.
PW was unimpressed next morning when I mentioned my misadventure. Apparently, I should think about all the problems women have with their plumbing of a night time when they dash to the loo. "Especially when their partners forget the 'seat down, lid up' rule."
She was in full flow, so I refrained from telling her I've actually heard women hold forth on this subject - sometimes in verse. The gist is they could have been doing somersaults on the garden trampoline if it wasn't for their lady leaks. Penises, pregnancy and prolapses often feature in these narratives.
Apart from a repeat nightmare that I once murdered someone, my dreams are mundane compared to PW's. Last week she dreamt she had three legs, had mislaid one, and was thrashing around beneath the bedclothes to find her lost limb. Jude, being a sound judge of character, dreamt his mum was feeding live mice to our cats. My nightmares have subsided; at least until I wake up and turn on The News.
Tod writers group
This month at the Golden Lion, we had a visit from The Stanza Poets of Clitheroe. Their theme was violence against women during lockdown. My monologue was set in the 1950s.
That's Bob All Over
From the school, she could hear an old song, and quietly, she sang along ...
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. And eyes and ...
Picture Bob's eyes...
He couldn't disguise his surprise
When he happened to greet her,
And she asked for a bob for her meter.
And then there's his ears -
Though he'd had them for years –
Heard her sobs in his bedsit above her.
And he wondered if nobody loved her.
Also Bob's nose,
That awoke from repose
When fragrances rose of breadmaking,
Although midnight's a strange time for baking.
And t' moustache on his lips,
As he drank tiny sips -
Though all t' nips that she quaffed were much neater -
When he called round to fix her old heater.
And consider Bob's chest,
Against which she pressed,
And confessed that her husband had beat her.
And Bob wondered if life would defeat her.
Also his belly...
Full of custard and jelly,
Celebrating our Queen's coronation.
When they called for 'Three cheers for our nation!'
Below that his groin...
That did briefly conjoin with her loins,
But she made him feel bad -
When she said he looked just like her dad.
So he settled for teas -
With a tray on his knees -
And a big slice of cheese and some ham.
Till t' day that she mentioned a pram.
And picture Bob's feet
As he ran down t' backstreet.
Not as fleet as her husband who caught her -
And pinned her down in t' coat Bob bought her!
And imagine Bob's hand,
Round a large rock spanned.
But she stabbed the man that she married,
With the knife that she always carried.
So what of their necks -
And where did t' rope flex?
Well, Bob smashed in t' skull
As she plunged in t' knife!
But her womb wor full –
So t' Judge spared her life.
Head, shoulders, knees and...
That song had gone round and round in her head,
Like a needle stuck in its groove...
And then she felt Bob's baby move.
The medial prefrontal cortex is inside your brow, the bit between your eyebrows and your fringe, where footballers head the ball - tucked behind there. Scientists can nowadays gauge the force of our reaction when we meet people, by monitoring the response in our mPFC. As the researchers put it, 'when we don't engage with people our brains treat them as if they are an object.'
In the 80s we used to go to a Yugoslav friendship weekend in West Burton, run by Mr Wooley, Tito's surgeon during the 2nd World War. The different ethnic groups happily engaged with each other, although our guide warned us that given half a chance they would be at each other's throats.
In The Brain (2015), David Eagleman recalls the propaganda used by Serbian news networks to spread fake stories about Croats and Bosnian Muslims attacking Serbs, in the lead up to ethnic cleansing. News networks broadcast unfounded stories including one that Muslims were 'feeding Serbian children to the hungry lions at Sarajevo zoo."
Less than a decade after the friendship weekends, over 100,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Serbians.
When Boris Johnson was Foreign Secretary he asked if he could visit MI6 HQ with his friend Evgeny. Their response has just been leaked by somone in the secret service.
"You can't bring your friend around here.
The Russians invaded Crimea!"
"Oh lore, I forgot!
But I do love his yacht …
Do you think we could make him a peer?"
Anatomy of a scandal
The bestseller by Sarah Vaughan is serialised on Neflix next month. She partly based the lead character on a conversation she had with Boris Johnson after he'd been sacked from the Shadow Cabinet in 2004 for lying about an affair. "It was the first time I'd been aware of a public figure admitting to lying and not being bothered." As it happens, the public weren't bothered either.
Fable for friends
On social media, I've noticed some socialist friends have been avoiding comment on the war in Ukraine, except to remind us of previous atrocities and invasions perpetrated by NATO forces. Why aren't they lambasting Putin for his invasion?
The Boy Bathing
A Boy was bathing in a river, and getting out of his depth, was on the point of sinking, when he saw a wayfarer come by, to whom he called out with all his might and main. The Man began to read the Boy a lecture for his foolhardiness; but the urchin cried out, "O, save me now sir! and read me the lecture afterwards."
(Aesop and other fables, Everyman, 1971)
Stubbing Wharf & Shaggy Dog Storytellers
Matt and Sally are unable to renew their tenancy with Stonegate PLC., but they won't be going far, as they already manage the Robin Hood in Pecket Well. So at least their new pub should be less threatened by deluges. Shaggy Dog Storytellers thank them both for their support over the years. Tristan and Christine were preparing to launch monthly events at Stubbing from the end of April, but they hope to announce alternative arrangements in the near future.
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