Posts from 10th December 2004

Dec 04

“The Hemulen was white with ire”

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 308 views

Tove Jannson wrote two picture-books-for-moominloving-tots: Vem ska trosta knyttet? (1960) and Hur gick det sen? Boken om Mymlan, Mumintrollet och lilla My (1952). When I discovered they’d been republished (as Who Will Comfort Toffle? and The Book of Moomin, Mymble and Little My) , I got very excited (and ran out and bought em) (actually they came out in 2003 so my actually running wz a bit needless). Then I got very picky and territorial.

See they’ve been “rewritten”, and a bit of the power of such books is of course unchanging ritual: THEY NEVER CHANGE howEVER OFTEN YOU READ THEM. As you will recall when v.small you wz being read to (by a different relative than usual, say) and they GOT SOMETHING WRONG!!

Anyway the new versions are handsomely turned out, and the small-print details at the back suggest care and thought went into the reworking: a a literal translation by Silvester Mazzarella turned into verse by Sophie Hannah (“one of Britain’s best-selling poets” acc.the jacket quote; “a real star” acc.the Daily Telegraph).

But yeah, I got picky. First, the verse seemed to demand a fairly monotonous singsong, diDUMdiDUMdiDUMdiDUM. Second, if you gave into this, you find yrself having to say names with completely the wrong emphasis: “Beyond the forest, bathed in light/the air tastes fresh. The grass glows bright/The sun shines down on fields of flowers/MooMINtroll’s walked for hours and hours…” and “HeMULen, with a vacuum hose/had got some house dust up his nose/Spring cleaning (though it wasn’t Spring)/was Hemulen’s most favourite thing.” I didn’t like having to say MymBULL for Mymble, let alone T’FULL for Toffle.

What turned me round comes on the facing page to the vacuum hose lines: “She cut the tube and pulled it back/Mymble and Moonmintroll were black/with dust from head to toe. My laughed/”Blimey, the two of you look daft!’ OK, first, no one can be meant to read any way but “BLImey!’, and second: Little My gets to say “BLIMEY!”

In other words, the basic rhythm is presumably meant to be much freer, and you stress to taste. And once I realised this, I got over my peeve and started to like it: the old version at this point had a ghastly couplet along the lines of “The vacuum tube rose high’r and high’r/the hemulen was white with ire” – and I’m fairly sure either My or Mymble cursed that *other* whiskered bad-poetry standby “Fie!” at some point. Which suggests the earlier version was probably rubbish.

[innovation note: Hur gick det sen? Boken om Mymlan, Mumintrollet och lilla My – with its holes cut in the pages to barrel us through to the next bit of the story – predates B.S Johnson‘s Albert Angelo by 11 years. Hur gick det sen? means “Guess what happened next?” and Hannah makes a neat job of varying this every time (“Now guess what happens: YOU decide” – how would i not love this proposal?)]

CONCLUSION: if yr reading it to small someone else, do a bit of practice first – there are a few tongue-twistery passages


Do You SeePost a comment • 370 views

Simpsons episode where Homer writes a column spreading rumours about the neighbourhood. At the master’s desk on the freaky island there is a lava lamp, and in the lava lamp, a frog is swimming, happily (I assume).

My Hootenanny Hell

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My Hootenanny Hell

I am sure I can remember an era when TV schedulers made an effort on New Years Eve, possibly around the time I cared what was on the telly at Christmas. But perhaps I’m dreaming it – there’s no very good reason to throw money at an evening when much of the audience are out partying – make sure Big Ben bongs and that’s your lot.

It’s certain that they don’t throw money at it now. Here’s what’s on terrestrial TV as 2004 vanishes into history:

BBC1: New Year Live with Natasha Kaplinsky “and guests”. No names of guests mentioned, camera crews in Trafalgar Square and Princes Street a distinct possibility.

BBC2: Jools’ 12th Annual Hootenanny.

ITV: The Wicker Man!! “including New Year bongs” which might reduce the tension a little.

C4: Final episode of Friends, followed by final episode of Sex In The City.

C5: Abba’s Greatest Hits. This was on channel 5 at exactly the same time last year, and quite possibly the year before that too.

What’s obvious is that – unsurprisingly – it’s the commercial sector that’s thrown in the New Years towel completely. BBC1 gives the turning of the years a desultory 55 minutes (after a “risque compilation of sports-quiz blunders), leaving our pal Jools to pick up the slack, 2 hours 30 minutes of it in fact.

This year’s Hootenanny features, with horrible predictability, Jamie Cullum. Amy Winehouse is there too, Franz Ferdinand show up, and there’s “guitar legend Eric Clapton in blues mode”. The show has become a tradition and I can’t help but feel that somehow it’s responsible for every other TV channel dropping the baton with a sigh of “Leave it to Jools”. Which is a terrible situation, as the parties Jools holds have all of the bullying naffness of New Years with none of the actual good cheer and fun. Not to mention its knowingly eclectic line-ups, which seem to combine the ingredients in such a way as to make all of them taste worse. If you can sit through a Jools Holland ‘jam’ without wanting to listen to nothing but Muslimgauze records for a year then more power to you.

Of course after all this negativity we’re left with the question of what I would like to be on TV at New Years. I’ve not quite finalised my brilliant schemes for this yet so in lieu of a conclusion I throw it open to the comments box. Just don’t let it involve Eric Clapton in blues mode.

Remember, its the thought that counts

Blog 7Post a comment • 350 views

A close friend of mine works for a financial publishing company which employs around 100 other people, all of whom are annually involved in their Office Secret Santa. As many of the employees work in separate offices, some of them have never met, jokey presents and “gentle teasing” are encouraged as a way of circumnavigating the problem of having to buy a thoughtful gift for someone you don’t know from Adam.

One particular staff member did a little digging around the intended recipient of his present, and discovered her to be an animal-loving vegetarian whose pet rabbit had just died. He then went straight to the butchers, where he bought two dead, skinned rabbits and some bunny-flavoured jerky, put them in a box, wrapped it and gave it to her.

The lady in question was so touched by the gesture that she burst into tears in the middle of the office Christmas party. History has not recorded the fate of these two employees twelve months on, but still, what a lovely fellow.

A minor but treasured harbinger of Christmas

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A minor but treasured harbinger of Christmas: the arrival of the Radio Times double issue. Comment on the Christmas schedules can wait for a Do You See post, but I still felt the same warm feeling buying a copy this lunchtime. This despite the fact that I’m going to be out most evenings between now and Christmas and any spare time will be spent watching videos or tooling about online.

The meat of the matter was always the family’s divvying up their TV viewing so as to “avoid” arguments – an S or D for Mum and Dad, then a handful of judicious teenage Ts for whatever I wanted to watch and a tide of over-ambitious As from a goggle-eyed Al. For some reason I always thought each holday would be the year when I would watch lots of Great Movies, all on at 3 AM, none ever caught. The single programme I knew was a must must must see would clash with an opera
discreetly S-branded, cue tantrums, “But you don’t even LIKE opera!” and watching it sulkily upstairs chewing on an ashen mince pie. One year Al dutifully put an A next to every morning’s Breakfast TV showing of Garfield.

Wonderful days, now gone. “There’s nothing on the box this year”, I can mutter, secretly grateful that I don’t have to make time for it.

Apparently this is bullshit

Do You SeePost a comment • 263 views

Apparently this is bullshit, but if Oliver Stone needs a scriptwriter with local knowledge… accept no substitutes.

Scratching the surface of dude

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 880 views

Scratching the surface of dude

Study of the second most flexible four letter word.


Do You SeePost a comment • 457 views


No, that would be too fucking glib. But its about time Tom Burton made a good film and even if he arses up this version of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, this day-glo trailer is already a queasy classic.

I’m Dreaming Of An Office Christmas

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 1,015 views

I’m Dreaming Of An Office Christmas

Volume I of the background CDs for the work do, with thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions.

1. THE DRIFTERS – “White Christmas”(1)
2. JACK SCOTT – “Jingle Bell Slide”(2)
3. KITTY WELLS – “Christmas Ain’t Like Christmas Anymore”(3)
4. CARLA THOMAS – “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas”(4)
5. GAYLA PEAVEY – “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”(5)
6. LITTLE JOEY FARR – “Rock And Roll Santa”(6)
7. DARLENE LOVE – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”(3),(5)
8. BILLY RAY – “Rudolf, The Red Nose Reindeer Mambo”(7)
9. BRENDA LEE – “I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus”(8)
10. YELLOWMAN – “We Wish You A Reggae Christmas”(7)
11. OSCAR McLOLLIE AND THE HONEY JUMPERS – “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus”(2)
12. THE MARCELS – “Merry Twist-mas”(7)
13. THE CADILLACS – “Rudolf, The Red Nosed Reindeer”(9)
14. JERRY COLONNA – “He’s Too Fat For The Chimney”(10)
15. THE CHRYSTALS – “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”(11)
16. JOHNNY CASH – “Blue Christmas”(3)
17. YELLOWMAN – “Santa Claus Never Comes To The Ghetto”(12)
18. THE SURFERS – “Hawaiian Santa”(7)
19. FRANK SINATRA – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”(11)
20. JAMES BROWN – “Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto”(12)
21. EARTHA KITT – “Santa Baby”(11)
22. THE SURFARIS – “A Surfer’s Christmas List”(13)
23. THE SINGING DOGS – “Jingle Bells”(13),(5)

(1)Martin sez it’s the best version, he may be right but it’s here to get things off to a surprising start.
(2)Generic rockin’ Christmas nonsense.
(3)I assume some of my co-workers will be having miserable Xmases. This is a sop.
(4)Wow, actually good Xmo song I’d not heard before.
(5)Best song ever.
(6)Generic rockin’ Christmas nonsense sung by small child. It’s all about the children.
(7)As soon as you read the title you know how this goes.
(8)Brenda Lee sounds about two on this. Touching Christmas message.
(9)Very funny spoken word intro.
(10)Rictus grin of forced glee.
(11)Just cos.
(12)Spot the obvious segue I somehow missed.
(13)Oh for gods sake.

Sleigh this sexy Santa

Blog 7Post a comment • 505 views

Sleigh this sexy Santa!