The Yellow Peril ?

Anyone recall that classic episode of Father Ted in which Ted is accused of racism after he is unwittingly caught making fun of the small Chinese community on Craggy Island? Only a decade or so earlier it had been acceptable to call the Chinese ‘chinks ‘ or ‘slitty-eyed’ and remark on their skin colour and droopy moustaches. Further back still, Sax Rohmer became a best-selling author with his tales of the criminal Dr Fu Manchu and Music hall artistes made jokes about opium dens, Chinese laundries and the white slave trade.

One of these artistes was Billy Bennett, who worked the halls from 1919 until his death in 1942. One of his specialities was to recite ‘ burlesque monologues ‘ –not only on the stage but also on radio—and some of the texts of these were published in booklet form for use, presumably, to keep up morale during the early years of the Second World War. These monologues were liberally laden with double entendre and barely disguised racist slurs that would prevent them from being performed today. Continue reading

Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘The Daffodil Murderer’

WRCLIT75739Found – a rather battered copy of Siegfried Sassoon’s early book The Daffodil Murderer (1913) published under the pseudonym ‘Saul Kain.’ In decent condition it has auction records like this from Bloomsbury Book Auctions in April 2009:

[Sassoon (Siegfried)], “Saul Kain”.
The Daffodil Murderer
First edition of the author’s first book not to be privately printed, pseudonymous prefatory note by “William Butler” [the poet/publisher T.W.H.Crosland], original orange-yellow wrappers printed in red, light dust-soiling and rubbing, otherwise very good, housed in an envelope with inscription in Sydney Cockerell’s autograph: “The Daffodil Murderer by Siegfried Sassoon Very Rare”, 8vo, John Richmond Ltd, 1913.
Scarce. Sassoon’s parody of The Everlasting Mercy by John Masefield, apparently written during a moment of tedium, then sent off to Edmund Gosse who in turn forwarded it to Edward Marsh, editor of the Georgian Poetry anthologies. Masefield was as impressed by the work that he hailed the then 26-year-old Sassoon as “one of England’s most brilliant rising stars”. £150

The publisher’s name  ‘John Richmond’ was itself a pseudonym for the great contrarian T WH Crosland, whose sardonic introduction, under the name ‘William Butler’ we publish here. It is so far  unknown to any digital medium. The Everlasting Mercy, the poem parodied (with some skill) can be found here.

Preface by William Butler.

I have read ‘The Daffodil Murderer’ nineteen times. It is with our doubt the finest literature we have had since Christmas. The fact that it has won the Chantrey Prize for Poetry speaks for itself. Of course, readers of this noble poem will, after wiping their eyes, wish to know something of the personality of the author. I may say at once that he resembles Shakespeare in at least one respect: that is to say, no account of him is yet to be found in ‘Who’s Who’. It is possible that in early life he was a soldier, and fought for his country on many a bloody field; but becoming tired of the military life, he retired to the country on a meagre pension and there interested himself in the rural sights and sounds and bucolic workings of the human bosom which are so admirably portrayed for us in the present pathetic ‘chef d’oeuvre’. Continue reading

Rubaiyat of a Rhode Island Red

rhodeislandred-web-2Found — a  handwritten poem in a reprint of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, a parody on the theme of chickens. It probably dates from the 1920s. There are  1000s of such tribute/ parodies, many published. This appears completely unknown …

Rubaiyat of a Rhode Island Red

Awake, for morning through the roosting shed

Has stained the dusty windows gold and red;

The weary toiler of a thousand fields

Will soon be climbing from his downy bed!

Awake! The silver buckets of the day

Are clanking and the corn is on the way – 

The early worm creeps but a laggard inch,

And lo! The bird espies her prey.

‘Neath that inverted box they call a coop 

There sits the broody with her little troop:

For them what fortune calls – the plucking shed,

The Palace – or the haying test – or Roup?

(The Palace = a famous poultry show – Roup = a disease) Continue reading

In Honour of Mr. John Betjeman – Patrick Leigh Fermor

john-betjeman-statueFound- in a copy of Nip in the Air (John Murray 1974)  a book of poems by John Betjeman this affectionate parody by the esteemed travel writer Patrick (‘Paddy’) Leigh Fermor. It is probably from a magazine (pp 379-380), possibly The London Magazine but is not archived anywhere online. It is probably from the 1970s. It deserves a place in a completist Betjeman collection and in any future collection of Fermor’s complete oeuvre.

In Honour of Mr. John Betjeman – Patrick Leigh Fermor

Eagle-borne spread of the Authorised Version,

Beadles and bell ropes, pulpits and pews,

Sandwiches spread for a new excursion

And patum peperium under the yews!

 

Erastian peal of Established Church-bells!

(Cuckoo-chimes in Cistercian towers)

Bugloss and briny border our search. Bells

Toll the quarters and toll the hours.

 

Unscrew the thermos. Some village Hampden

Swells the sward. Fill the plastic cup

For toast to Brandon, to Scott and to Camden,

To dripstone and dogtooth, with bottoms up! Continue reading

J.B. Morton – ‘..one of the greatest English humorists of all time’

IMG_1914The Daily Express  celebrated the 80th birthday of the humorist J.B. Morton (aka ‘Beachcomber)  on 7 June 1973 with a long article and a tribute from Spike Milligan. Chesterton had described Morton as “a huge thunderous wind of elemental and essential laughter” and Evelyn Waugh wrote that he had “the greatest comic fertility of any Englishman.” He was certainly an inspiration for the Goons and subsequently Monty Python. Spike wrote:

I have met him once, though I have been a Beachcomber addict for a million years

It was a dinner the BBC gave to launch the television version of his column.

For years, when I was young back in Australia, I had collected all his stuff and stuck it in a book. I didn’t realise I had a sense of humour-myself until a discovered this man.

I didn’t know what to expect. But when he arrived he was just like his writing. There were lots of grey people there, and they did not know what to make of him. He kept launching into fantasy world. Continue reading

The Herlock Sholmes Parodies, 1915 – 1940

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The contribution of W.O.G. Lofts ( 1923 – 1997) to the history of boys’ fiction in the British periodical press is immense. ‘Bill’ Lofts, a mechanical engineer by training, but a fact-collector by inclination (why did he never enter BBC’s Mastermind ?), was also interested in detective stories. Sexton Blake and Sherlock Holmes were two creations on which his skills as an astonishingly assiduous researcher were exercised to great effect. Years spent among the riches of the British Museum Periodical Library at Colindale on projects which probably no-one else had either the energy or commitment to pursue produced what turned out to be invaluable guides to the more obscure purlieus of popular literature. One such study was The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes: a History and Bibliography, a pamphlet co-written in 1976 with the owner of the Dispatch Box Press, Jon Lellenberg, an expert in the history of Sherlock Holmes in parody and pastiche.

According to Lofts and Lellenberg, the story of the Herlock Sholmes parodies was also the story of their creator, Charles Hamilton (above)  the most prolific writer in the English language, who as the mainstay of Amalgamated Press, is estimated to have written around 72 million words in his whole career , the equivalent of a thousand full-length novels. Using the pen name ‘Peter Todd’, which was the name of a pupil at Greyfriars School, which Hamilton had dreamed up for The Magnet, Hamilton made Todd a contributor of Sherlock Holmes parodies to The Greyfriars Herald, the school’s own newspaper, which Amalgamated Press brought out as a separate publication.

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A Club for Millionaires

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Illustration by Dudley Hardy

Found in The Idler Magazine (Chatto & Windus, 1892. Volume 1, February to July. pp 109-110) this piece by regular contributor Barry Pain. The Idler was edited by Robert Barr and Jerome K Jerome. It ran from 1892-1911.

Over the years, the roster of writers who contributed to various issues was impressive: O. Henry, Mark Twain, Conan Doyle, Eden Phillpotts, Marie Corelli, Barry Pain, Israel Zangwill, Grant Allen, W. W. Jacobs, and Robert Louis Stevenson. At a single sitting, the pages took the reader from travel adventures to cultural appreciations of events in the home island nation. “The Idler‘s Club” was a standard feature of most issues. Various writers sketched out opinions in ironic and exaggerated language. This piece was found there. It was Barry Pain’s second idea in this issue – his first was that amateur dramatics would be much improved if performed in total darkness and thus they would also be able to avoid paying a licence fee…His idea for a club follows:

Barry Payn (sic) sympathises with the millionaires.

IdleraMy second proposal is to establish a club for millionaires. We see suffering all around us, and it is useless to close our eyes to it. There are millionaires in our midst; and, whether we like it or not, they are out brothers and sisters. Putting it on grounds which will appeal to everyone – I mean the lowest possible grounds – we cannot afford to miss an opportunity of making a little out of them. If we explore the region of the docks, we find separate homes there for sailors of every nationality; there is even a home for lost dogs. But nowhere do we find a home for millionaires. I propose to establish a proprietary club for them, a little room with a sanded floor, where they will find that absence of luxury which they must miss so much. They will be able to get a chop or steak they; wine will not be served, but a boy will fetch them beer if they feel that they don’t want it; a large cup of cocoa will be one penny, and a small one will be half-a-crown.

I have forgotten my reason for that last regulation, but I remember that it was logical. One of the cheaper evening papers will be taken, and members of the club can have it in turn; or, if they prefer it, they can do without it. I have no wish to limit their liberty more than is absolutely necessary for their own discomfort. Everything that can done to make the place nasty will be done. I intend, for the protection of the general public, to make the club exclusive. Only millionaires will be eligible. There will be an entrance fee of a thousand guineas and an annual subscription of one hundred. The subscription, together with a statement of the place of their birth, if any, must be forwarded in advance to the proprietor. I shall be the proprietor myself. I have other proposals to make, but these are enough for the present. I may have occasion to refer to the subject again, but I make no threats.

Private Eye & ‘The New Satire’ 1963

IMG_1275Found in the short-lived early 1960s London cultural magazine Axle Quarterly (Spring 1963) in their column of complaints , rants and broadsides (‘Axle grindings’) this mild attack on the British satirical magazine Private Eye (still going strong with a circulation of 225,000). Axle is almost forgotten, it is occasionally seen being traded for modest sums on eBay, abebooks etc., It survived for 4 issues – contributors included Gavin Millar, Paul R. Joyce, David Benedictus, Michael Wolfers, Paul Overy, Roger Beardwood, Mark Beeson, Ray Gosling, Simon Raven, Tony Tanner, Richard Boston, Melvyn Bragg and Yvor Winters. This piece was anonymous.

Millions can’t be wrong aided by The Observer’s unerring flair for pursuing fads of its own creation, Private Eye’s achievement of a 65,000 circulation in just over a year is an interesting phenomenon. This is a figure comparable to that which, say, The Spectator has had to build up gradually over many decades. That Was The Week That Was has been even  more successful. It is estimated that it is watched by approximately 11 and a half  million people, or nearly a quarter of the population.

First of all why has Private Eye been so successful? It’s easy to read, of course, or rather, easy to skip through. Few read the extended written pieces like Mr. Logue’s boring True Stories. And what most people do read requires about as much effort as a Daily Express cartoon. It’s funnier, and cleverer, and more sophisticated, but all it demands is that one has skimmed the headlines and watched TV occasionally. It doesn’t require any mental effort to take it in (although it may stimulate it). 

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Proust a la Wodehouse

Marcel ProustThis the last part of a two part posting. See here for the first and the way that it was found. The photo of Proust is the jolliest I could find apart from the one before of him strumming a tennis racket. It is unlikely that both men met, although Proust was only 10 years older, as they moved in rather different worlds. Jeeves, however, may have read A la recherche du temps perdu.

Proust a la Wodehouse

Swann Upping

After one of those awful Paris soiree evenings at Madame Verdurin’s, when they play that maddening little tune which gets on your wick, I was being carted back to the old ancestral homestead, when I noticed a familiarly cove sauntering along the boulevard.

‘What ho, Swann!’ I cried. ‘Going my way? Take a pew in the dickey.’

I said I’d just returned from Deauville where I had spent days trying to lure Albertine out of her bathing machine for a splash around. Her trouble is she talks volumes and never gets anywhere. I told Swann I’d reminded her, when I could get a moan is edgeways, that, as fellow Candide said, – ‘It’s all for the best dans le meilleur des mondes possible, n’est pas? Is this the fin-de-siecle or not – wot, wot?

What I didn’t blab out was i’d had this call from aunt Leonie, blaring down the wrong end of her ear trumpet – ‘That blighter Swann should be drummed out of our society. It’s time, depraved nephew, you ceased lounging on that chaise-lounge – as the English call it – and took action.’ Sounding like a military band in jack-boots, marching on cobbles, she bellowed, ‘If you have any sense of honour you’ll call him out’.

No Proust takes that sort of thing standing up. Once goaded to inaction I addressed Swann from my couch, bounce on pillows. ‘Pass the madeleines’, I said ‘Never forget about remembrance of the old temps p.’

He took it like a lamb off to the proverbial what’s it. I dictated a million words without raising said bounce from said c. lounger, breaking off once a decade to allow him to nip round to Baron Charlus’s den for a dollop of what that royal chappie – the one who was King – labelled the entente cordiale. One way of putting it, wot?

Wodehouse a la Proust

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Marcel Proust on air guitar

Going through a large collection of modern Christmas cards sent to a well connected literary figure, looking for bankable names. It’s not easy because most are signed ‘John & Susan’ etc., so you have to recognise the handwriting or find a clue. Sometimes a book is mentioned or the address is given –  e.g ’Vladimir and Vera, Montreux’ (I wish!)  There are many different styles, from tiny cheap cards with robins, to elaborate, large, arty and expensive cards. Many are from charities, either bought or received for free, some are hand made, some have original photos on the front, some large classy ones from members of the House of Lords, some with round-robin annual newsletters or long catch-up messages… This one is from someone (’Noripoll’) who appears to send out a parody every year. It’s ‘Wodehouse a la Proust’, next time we will post his ‘Proust a la Wodehouse’:

Wodehouse a la Proust

Life Sentence

When Jeeves, on the morning following that reunion with Augustus Fick-Nottle, Esq., at the Drones, proffered me a phial containing one of his special life-restorers, memories came flooding back of the long journey down country lanes to Totleigh Towers during which not only the corn shimmered but Jeeves, in his inimitable manner, shimmered too, black against the black Tarmacadam, as we approached the village close to the Towers, a company, nay a caravan, of gourmet penitents come to entreat the incomparable Anatole, my aunt Dahlia’s chef, not to abscond to the kitchen of Sir Watkyn Bassett; all of us barefooted behind out slowly moving limousines, and one of us, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, Esq., on his actual knees (as was not, for him, unusual), in desperate dedication to our mission, while I, wretched Bertram, scion of the Wooster line, who had twice filched Sir Watkyn’s silver cow creamer, under pressure to complicate the plot and provoke frolicsome incidents on tops of wardrobes and up and down ladders propped against the walls of ancient, country mansions, had vividly become aware, my heart throbbing violently all the while, of a refracted light from the late evening sun gleaming upon the brass fitments of an upturned policeman’s helmet, suspended by Agustus, on Totleigh church’s simple, slender spire, from which Anatole’s unsurpassable sauce vinaigrette flowed, lava-like, down the steeple, on to the battlemented tower, thence via gargoyle (one notably resembling Sir Watkyn himself), via pipe and conduit, just clearing the clerestory but developing a tendency to ooze into the nave through a fissure, yet signifying all the while, to those who put their trust in the power of Jeeves, that the great chef would return to my aunt Dahlia’s, once the final drop of precious liquid had dribbled over a flying buttress to reach, not only its elemental origin as it were, but to come, at last, to a full stop.

Spice Girls spice labels

[raw]

Sent in by a loyal jotwatcher this useful and amusing piece about the Spice Girls and Viz the cult British comic magazine. It probably dates from about 1996. Go easy on the nutmeg!

Spice Girls spice labels

Does anyone remember that issue of Viz that appeared at a time when the Spice Girls were at the height of their fame. This particular number featured cut-out ’n’-keep labels which could be stuck onto spice jars. Aping the designs of the famous Schwartz spice bottles, there was one label for four of the Spice Girls—‘Scary Spice’ was left out for some reason.  Was I the only person who actually cut out the labels and used them? I somehow doubt it. Anyway, I’ve still got them, although they are getting a bit grubby. Each label contains a description of each of the spices, together with a recipe contributed by one of the girls.

Victoria presents Basil.

There is no finer sight in a herb garden than a basil flower. Generally used to add colour a dish, Basil is completely tasteless, but compensates for this by being extremely flavourful. It can be bought in most supermarkets or stolen from posh people’s gardens.

Victoria’s recipe.
Welsh rabbit.     Place your rabbit (or hare if in season) on the toast and cover  generously with cheese. Then toast until Welsh throughout. Add Basil to taste and serve

Toast
Cheese.
Rabbit
Basil

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English translation howlers

From Funny or Die site (thanks)

From the Peter Haining Archive. These are taken from a collection compiled by Thomas Cook employees in Nottingham during the period 1987 – 95:

‘You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid ‘
Notice in Japanese hotel

‘Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar’
Announcement in Norwegian cocktail lounge.

‘The lift is being fixed. During that time we regret you will be unbearable’
Notice in a Bucharest hotel lobby.

‘The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid’
Notice in a Yugoslav hotel.

‘Our wines leave you with nothing to hope for ‘.
Swiss restaurant menu.

‘Ladies may have fit upstairs’
Outside a Hong Kong tailors

‘Special today—no ice cream’
Swiss mountain inn

‘Order your summer suit. Because of big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation’
In a Rhodes tailors.

‘We take your bag and send it in all directions’
Copenhagen airline ticket

‘Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists’
Hong Kong dentist 

[R.R.]

Schoolboy exam howlers through the ages

These were being published in books from at least the late nineteenth century. Peter Haining, most of whose archive we now hold, collected a number of them for a projected book. Here are some examples he found. The first were sent in for a prize competition of c1900, the second bunch was assembled by Charlie James from a northern comprehensive school in 1987 and the third lot of howlers has a more international flavour:

1900

Ben Johnson was the man who wrote a life of Bothwell. Bothwell was the man who murdered Mary Queen of Scots.

The fire of London, although looked on at first as a calamity, really did a great deal of good. It purified the city from the dregs of the plague and burnt down 89 churches.

Edward III would have been King of France if his mother had been a man.

When will you expect an eclipse of the sun to take place? In the night.

The sun never sets on English possessions because the sun sets in the west and our colonies are in the north, south and east.

The zebra is like the horse, only striped, and is chiefly used to illustrate the letter Z.

A primate is a Prime Minister’s wife.

The Iliad was written by Marie Corelli.

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Stella Gibbons parodies modernist poetry (1921)

Found in a  University of London College magazine from December 1921 this poem/ parody by the novelist Stella Gibbons. She was 19 at the time and had just begun a two-year Diploma in Journalism at UCL. The course had been established for ex-servicemen returning from the First World War, but attracted several women, including another future novelist - Elizabeth Bowen. After a spell as a caustic book reviewer at The Lady her first book (poetry) was published in 1930, and in 1932 her masterpiece Cold Comfort Farm appeared. This, too, was a parody (of the current 'loam and lovechild' school of rural novelists.) The writers parodied are mostly somewhat forgotten: Mary Webb, Sheila Kaye-Smith, Eden Philpotts - although D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy did not escape her mirth. In this piece modernist poets (T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound?) are mocked..

The Marshes of My Soul
(With  apologies to the latest School of Decoratively- Melancholy Introspectives.)

I.
Brackish …brackish,
The Pools of Weariness, flung in a glimmering chain
Reach the horizon.
And my thoughts, like purple parrots
Brood
In the sick, light trees 
Blowing above those shallow pools
In whorls and whorls
Noiselessly 
Printing a monotonous pattern upon the heavy air
Like watery curves upon the silken robe of a dying Mandarin.

II.
I am a peg, pinning up
Nebulous shadows of half guessed moods
Along the clothesline of "Let's-be-Clever."
Sometimes (ah - rape of the Muse by the cold fingered--) 
Doubt takes me.
I wonder
If all these mists and moods and parrots mean 
Much?
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Eviction of Adam and Eve

Found in Arrows 87 (Summer 1964, edited by Roger Ebbatson) this amusing piece about Adam and Eve. The magazine was produced by Sheffield University Union and had poems articles, graphics etc., This squib was by Peter Mottley (1935-2006) who became an actor, director and playwright.

Eviction by Peter Mottley.

Dear Mr. Adam,

I am instructed by my client to serve the enclosed eviction order concerning the property you now occupy.

He feels that he is justified in this action in view of your recent behaviour, which constitutes a breach of the terms of your lease.

You will remember the Clause 4 in your lease permitted you full access to the garden on condition that you undertook 'to dress it and keep it', and that my client generously allowed you to take for your own use any of the fruits and flower which grow there. However, he specified quite plainly that you were not under any circumstances to touch the prize-winning fruit tree in the south-east corner. This clause has been broken quite blatantly by your wife, who has freely admitted taking fruit from this tree. Her excuse, that she thought it would be all right, is considered by my client to be inadequate.

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Son of the Sixties

Found - in Axle, a short lived magazine, from June 1963 this amusing and intriguing portrait of a sixties type (or archetype.) It was written  by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley the editors of the magazine. These 2 men, 23 at the time, went on to become successful pop music composers - hits included Dave Dee's Xanadu..In 1970 they even wrote a song for Elvis ('I've lost you'.)The reference to 'Dexadrin' is obscure- can find no trace of such a magazine, possibly ingested rather than read...

Son of the Sixties

Build: Tall; slim; muscular without exercise. Complexion: clear; permanently bronzed without sun or Man-tan; never sweats...Seldom laughs (but rare smiles are planned and dazzling - he was born in natural fluoride area). Hair: Black; well-combed, no dressing; styling suggests but never quite descends to more obvious fashions of the day (Frost, Como, etc.) Clothes: by John Michael and Marks and Spencer. Can wear white shirt for whole week. General appearance: Air of masculine competence cunningly offset by one or two ambiguous touches (name-bracelet, St. Christopher chain, pastel denim shirt); usual expression, mixture of Come-Hither and Come-Off-It; can appear alternately boyish and authoritative, a trump combination arousing maternal and subject feelings in women simultaneously, rendering him irresistible. Looks at best after all night party. Background: only son of fashionably separated parents (White Russian mother, Franco-Jewish father) whom he visited alternately in school holidays; discreet fostering of their sense of guilt won him ample allowance and Porsche at 18. Education: Attended Bedales where he swam on summer nights in nude and was encouraged extracurricular activities; he in turn encouraged extra martial activity of master's wife who fondly imagined she had done the seducing. Always the centre of any group, without responsibility of actual leadership...Scraped 3 G.C.E. passes and entered St. Martin's Art School where... he gained undistinguished diploma. Occupations: rejected father's suggestion that he should 'work his way up from the bottom' (in three years) in his costume jewellery business. After spell as bar steward on Azores run where he cut dashing figure in whites, found (with friend of girl friend's help) tailor-made niche as London P.R.O. for obscure but loaded mining venture in Pretoria which enables him to indulge twin ambitions of luxurious living and complete independence. Residence: From liberal expense account was able to set up basement flat in renovated Earls Court terrace, where he frequently throws lavish (but informal) parties that are unexceptionally tremendous successes and are usually raided. (But he has a way with The Law). Clubs: Discotheque, Le Gigolo, Muriel's National Film Theatre, La Poubellle, Rockingham, Ronnie Scott's (offer drinks at, but has never joined The Establishment). Takes: The Observer, Peace News, Dexadrin. Glances at: The Times, Daily Express, Izvetzia, Private Eye, Encounter, Town, Playboy, Paris-Match, Sight and Sound, his horoscope. Went through novel and poetry reading stage at 15; still studies reviews quite carefully. Listens to: Today (2nd edition), Pick of the Pops. Watches: Panorama, Tonight, Compact (for laughs and because he knows some of the cast very intimately), Points of View. Outlook: Intellectual inferiors regard him as unassumingly highbrow, while academics find his 'untouched originality' refreshing. Remarkably adaptable, is equally at home in company of Soho villains and company directors, pop singers and clergymen. Mixes everything from sex to drinks and generally likes neither straight. Believes in experience (hash-smoking, etc.) as a right rather than as anything wildly off-beat, but demands best in everything. A self-confessed dilettante, seeks to avoid type-casting; likes to confound admirers of both sexes by appearing in public with wholly atypical companions. An agnostic, takes pleasure in arguing case for Christianity and was cynical at attempts at compromise in Honest to God. Politics: Wouldn't vote in next election even if he were 21. Occasionally supports Committee of 100 demonstrations, but no longer marches ... Future: Middle-age. And then…?
(Excerpt)
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Francine Saigon parodist of Francoise Sagan

Found  - a Keystone file photo from March 9th 1963 of 16 year old  novelist Felicity Moxton. Her book Bonsoir Maitresse: a novel (Pavilion Publications, London 1963) was a parody of Francoise Sagan's bestselling 1954 novel Bonjour Tristesse. It is quite rare but looks like this (the design very much like Francoise Sagan's French paperbacks):-

The back of the press photo reads:

Only 16 years old… is the young English writer Felicity Moxton and in a short time her first book will be to get in all book-shops. Felicity is the daughter of a writer in London. Her first book has the title 'Bonsoir Maitresse' and her pseudonym is 'Francine Saigon'. Everybody can see by this title and this name, that Felicity thought to the famous French author Francoise Sagan and her book 'Bonjour Tristesse'. Felicity told a newspaper, that she wanted to make a joke about the books of Francoise Sagan. Let us see, what Felicity had to write!

There are fake reviews at the rear 'Sagan, beware' (Paris Snatch) and 'Proceeds entrancingly from one triviality to another.' (Figarifico). The fictitious former works by Francine Saigon are noted as -Un Certain Sneer, Aimez-vous Hams? and *Marvellous New Ages. The blurb reads:

What is a mistress? How does a mistress begin? How does a mistress end? Exploring this theme, Francine Saigon's new novel tells the story of a young girl's relationship with a father who is more faithful to his old mistress than his successive wives.

Written in the inimitable style which is so familiar to Saigon devotees, 'Bonsoir Maitresse' will linger in the reader's heart long after the covers are closed.

* Les Merveilleux Nuages

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Sherlock’s Watson — was he a bad doctor?

Found in The London Mystery Magazine of April/May 1951 this amusing Sherlockian poem casting doubt on Watson's medical credentials…The author 'Sagittarius' was a journalist named Olga Katzin* who wrote several humorous and satirical books, some in rhyme. A short life  is appended below. The London Mystery Magazine began in 1949 and went on into the mid 1950s. It gave its address as 221b Baker Street. Adrian Conan-Doyle (Arthur's son) 'not uncharacteristically' sued the magazine, but lost the case.

Illustrated by 'Figaro'

DOCTOR…?

Holmes left one unsolved mystery,
The case of the strange M. D.;

Was he ever qualified?

Had he anything to hide?
And why was he always free?
Facts of his previous history
Researchers fail to trace,

But there’s something queer in his medical career,
For he never had a single case.

Nobody called Dr Watson
For medical advice;
If Sherlock in a hurry asked his company in Surrey,
Watson would be ready in a trice.
No one ever seemed to worry,
When he drove to Charing Cross,
Which strengthens the suspicion that as surgeon or physician
Watson was a total loss.

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Marlowe in Abadan

Another humorous piece from the papers of  'EVOE' i.e. Punch editor E.V. Knox. A Kit Marlowe parody…

MARLOWE IN ABADAN

 "Our methods of dealing with Persia have scarcely been those of Tamburlaine the Great," I wrote; and then (remembering a recent dramatic performance) I thought "How very strange if they had been." Something, I suppose, after this sort.

Enter, from underground holes, MR. MOUSSADEK and the BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY, with great voluted swords.

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My Epigram

Some more humorous writing from the papers of E. V. Knox ('Evoe.") He was, for a while, editor of Punch (1931 - 1949) and this may have appeared there although there is no trace of it online...

MY EPIGRAM

  For long it was a fugitive dream. I would catch sight of it, as one sees, or seems to see, a wild animal far down a forest clearing, or might it be a woodland nymph or faun? Or perhaps I would trace it written in the colours of the sunset, or in the morning among the folds of mist as they cleared from the chimneys on the mountain tops.

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