I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The refuge of a scoundrel. Pt. 2

This questionnaire aimed to check whether Powell's A Dance To The Music Of Time series of novels suited the applicant's tastes. I have widened its scope and may provide Anglo-psycho-analysis for those brave enough to respond

● If taken ill in, say, Stratford-on-Avon would you accept medical help from a hospital run on what you considered to be socialistic principles, or prefer to die?

● Do you think Shakespeare is a good or bad thing? If "Good", give three nouns, chosen for their originality, supporting this preference. If “Bad” write as much you dare.

● With a gun to your temple, would you be prepared to eat stuffed heart?

● Define, to the nearest nano-litre, the amount of vermouth in a perfect dry martini.

● What is the recommended speed (♪ = ?) for rendering La Marseillaise?

● Soccer: Vital, Intermittent, “I would rather open my veins.”

● Have you ever used the adjective "parthogenetic" verbally?

● In written form?

● Have you ever posed the question "Er, pardon me, did the Reformation come before or after the Renaissance?" in any European gallery?

NOTE: Be honest. Don't try to divine the questionnaire's intentions. Rationale and "correct" answers ina fortnight.

WIP Second Hand (47,817 words)
As Jennie and Ibanez entered the lounge Francine was struck by the way they matched each other. Both expensively dressed, he in his subtly textured Mao suit, she too in a two-piece, coloured a delicate light brown, halfway between rural and urban. How assured, how adult, they looked, moving with equal grace. While she sat awkwardly, her slung arm across her at an odd angle, her uncertainties probably evident on her spiky face. She the baby of the trio. Waiting to be ministered to by one, protected by the other. The fear latent and unspecified.


  1. pretentious crap

  2. I'm game.

    1-First, do no harm. Politics doesn't enter the picture for me, just Hippocrates' first rule. I prefer to live.

    2-Antony, Lear, Juliet

    3-Human? I've eaten beef heart before, stuffed with mushrooms and barley. No gun was involved.

    4-Soak a clean bar towel in vermouth, wring it almost dry, then wipe the inside of a martini glass, into which you pour your gin as slowly as the spirit will allow.

    5-Defiantly, furiously. What's the symbol for that?

    6-I've never watched a match. Like football, though. (Go, Ravens!)

    7, 8 and 9-No, no and no. (Wasn't the Reformation a rather dark period for art? Or, perhaps I'm just picturing all those dark Dutch paintings?)

    Okay, now what's my prize?

  3. Anglo Psych questionnaires are always multiple choice, like your photo example at the top of the post. These are much too easy.

    1. Care over death, I would want to return to the US and drive on the socialist road system again.

    a. Prolific
    b. Hair
    c. Accent

    3. Yes

    4.Depends on vessel size, general rule: 15 million

    5. .25 seconds

    6. Intermittent, only when choice is "football".

    7. No, it's not a word.

    8. Yes.

    9. No.

  4. Both: Well I preferred your responses to that of the first guy (Gotta be a guy, hasn't it?). I also wondered whether my carefully chosen word of abuse had crossed the Atlantic yet; I think it was born in the UK.

    Both of you cheated a little but that's OK. So did I. Since I'm not expecting any more responses from anyone else (everyone's too demure, and besides it's Sunday) I'm releasing the rationale and, where appropriate, the "correct" answers.

    HOSPITAL. Opting for death would have been proof positive that the responder was a member of the Tea Party and my interest would have ceased forthwith.

    THE BARD. Crow: Do you really think Lear's a good thing? Perhaps when you get to my age you won't. MikeM: Prolific's an adjective. However age may again be a factor. As I understand it kids in the UK are no longer taught what such words as adjective, participle and gerund mean. Perhaps the US also embraces this system and perhaps you're young enough to qualify. STOP PRESS: MikeM: You get half a point for your late replacement "Grammar"

    HEART. No, I wasn't talking about human hearts. This was a question intended to separate out misguidedly picky eaters. For instance, on the whole Germans (though I may have to make an exception with Rouchswalwe) get terribly worried about offal, not realising that heart provides the world's second best gravy, next to rabbit. For all I know the French do eat human hearts, they eat most things. From heart we leap (in offal terms) to kidneys and it seemed impossible to imagine that someone who baulked at kidneys fried with a little cognac would enjoy A Dance. Or care to live in the UK.

  5. Responses, etc, continued

    VERMOUTH. Both of you fail, because both of you are American. This question tests sophistication. Having blessed mamkind by inventing the dry martini Americans have taken civilisation backwards by turning it into a definition of hairy-chestedness. There is no point in coming up with joky suggestions that, in effect, dispense with the vermouth. Gin and vermouth together create a new taste; otherwise you might as well stick a teat on the end of the gin bottle. Crow also failed by ignoring the nano-litre requirement. MikeM presented me with an arithmetic problem: nano is a prefix representing a billionth (eg, 0.000 000 00X). If I relax the rules and multiply by 15m I get (I think) 0.015 - fifteen thousandths of a litre, which I find hard to envisage. The correct answer is a good deal more.

    MARSEILLAISE. This tests internationalism and, au fond, francophilia. (A Powell was very pro-French. So am I and I'm the only Anglo who counts.) Crow gets half a point for suggesting "quickly". Almost all Anglo-Saxon bands play the tune too slowly. MikeM's reponse is enigmatic. The correct answer should have provided the crotchet speed but I see I've bollixed this by putting a flag on the stick of the crotchet. Say about 80, and let's have done with it.

    SOCCER. A far cleverer question than either of you suspected. Soccer is very, very popular in the UK though not with me and not, I suspect, with A. Powell. Thus anything other than "opening veins" reveals the responder as trying to be TOO ENGLISH and to have fallen into a Machiavellian trap.

    PARTHOGENETIC. On the whole A Dance is for eggheads and I, as chief immigration officer for the UK, am only inclined to admit eggheads. A zillion catholics would be astonished by MikeM's answer since the word means "virgin" as in "virgin birth". For either of you to have have said you'd used it verbally (even if you'd lied; I'm not down on liars) would have meant mega-points. Always remember the dictionary is your friend. Writing the word is kinda down-market but you'd have scored some points.

    REF/REN. Don't try and be smart, Crow. The question is not about art but about innocence. And, I fear, you've both been shafted by one of your countrymen. A smart-ass journalist from Kansas City (is that an oxymoron?) told me that overhearing this question in a European art gallery meant you were in the presence of an American. You may see this as a put-down; I don't agree. Merely being able to articulate the question would put you way ahead of most under-educated Anglos like me. So it's a double whammie. Sort of.

    I'm too exhausted to sum up. Crow gets an email as prize but on an entirely different subject.

  6. 15 million nanoliters was my best estimate of a "capful", that being the cap of the vermouth bottle.

    I found a recording of said anthem and used a stopwatch to time 8 quarter notes. 4 seconds. It was a good brisk version.

    Parthenogenetic in all the dictionaries I used.

    I took this to mean an art gallery in Europe, and so had to say no.

  7. Also typed "parthogenetic" into a google search prior to answering "yes" to #8. Megapoints due.

  8. Whoa, whoa, whoa there, hotfoot!

    How could I have cheated? I didn't even know the material, nor did I have a crib sheet with me.

    Lear is a horror story, one of the few I've liked. Most of us who aren't already mad face the probability of dementia before we die. I thought Lear was a good character in a story Poe only wishes he had written.

    I grew up in a family/culture that used everything it could from the animals it raised/hunted/caught. Offal isn't awful to me.

    Vermouth/martini - I don't drink martinis. Made up that bit. Should get a point for creativity, don't you think?

    Marseillaise: the song didn't mean anything to me until I saw Casablanca. After the scene in Rick's café where the French/French sympathizers drowned out the Nazis, I broke down and cried for a good half-hour. I was 15 years old, which may have had something to do with my reaction. That's why I say play it defiantly, with fury.

    How the heck do you get me trying to be too English with my response about soccer?

    Parthogenetic: you said to be honest, then you penalize and castigate us for being so? Had I known this was an open book quiz, perhaps I'd have answered differently, but I took the question at face value - to which the only honest answer was no. Mike deserves megapoints for typing it, and for being curious enough to look it up.

    Reformation/Renaissance: Don't have to try, Robbie. However, I was trying to remember which came first, and the use of light was a key. I was grasping.

    I love engaging in discussions with you, though there are times I feel like Alice at the Mad Hatter's table.

    Re: email. That's a cool short-short, cleverly done. More in an email.

  9. PS: over here I think tosser translates as wanker.

  10. I spent a sleepless night thinking about vermouth. And thinking about thousandths, fifteen of which become one-and-half hundredths. In volumetric terms this becomes 1½ centilitres and the standard measure for a bottle in the UK (not the US where it's based on a fraction of a gallon) is 75 centilitres, recently reduced to 70 for tax/price reasons. So that is about right, MikeM, and I touch the hem of your garment.

    I must also look sheepish with regard to parthenogenetic, especially since I have used the word (correctly, too) verbally and in written form as recently as 2013. All I can say here is it emphasises a point I made earlier in another context: revise! Revise!! REVISE !!! And do it expecting to find something wrong. I do have a physiological excuse but I'm not going to use that.

    I've been caught with my pants down and the fact that I compiled the original questions without having the slightest idea what the answers were, or should be, is also no excuse.

    Marseillaise (the best national anthem in the world - by far. Words and music). I should have used tempo and metronome to be clear. Looks as if that might be crotchet equals 120. That sounds slightly slow but probably not slow enough to irritate me or the French. The best speed (subjectively) is to be found in the Berlioz arrangement. I have a CD of that and it runs to about eight verses. Some are slow (but with fast repetitions); the fastest are absolutely exhilarating. Of course an eight-verse version is a rarity and one verse is normal. Take out your stopwatch the next time M. Hollande visits the White House; the band's tempo will tell you what Obama thinks of that embattled president.

    Crow. Lear is mad and proves it with his stupid legacy plans. I'm not sure one can apply good/bad to a mad person. Certainly the cumulative effect of watching several Lear performances (best one so far: Michael Hordern, great English actor) is depressing and VR announced after seeing it some years ago that she didn't want to see it any more. I agreed at the time but might now be prepared to see it again provided (and I think this is important) the actor is old or at least oldish.

    I love heart and I choke up at the scene in Casablanca. Soccer - knowing me you shouldn't have touched it with a barge-pole. Lying: what is truth said jesting Pilate? Bad thing to invoke Alice; the events you mention took place at a Tea Party - say no more..

    Tosser. Exactly. I can't ever remember hearing an American using it but I'm glad it's now available. One of the UK's better exports.

  11. Whoopla! Late to the party. Was waylaid by a Hobbit. Glad to read you know me well regarding hearts and such. Ja! I love the Haggis and another Burns Night is upcoming. Plus I am the great-great-granddaughter of Oma Katharina, who hunted rabbits and was admired by her granddaughter for always being fair when it came to divvying up the rabbit parts in the stew.

    Yuck. Martinis. See my recent post about the Dog's Nose cocktail for my idea of the best way to make use of gin.

    Congratulations Crow and Mike!