Friday, 7 December 2007


Ben Trovato writes:

The denizens of the Burrow are suffering from pre-festive seasonal stress. Mrs Malaprop and the Beadle have had a quiet wedding, and slipped away to an undisclosed destination for a Christmas honeymoon. Dame Barbara and Anticant have pottered off to Anticant's Hollow Thermal Spa to wallow in mud baths and imbibe festive fare. I am staying behind with Wooffie to keep an eye on things and enjoy a quiet Christmas in the Snug.

Normal service may or may not be resumed in the New Year. Meanwhile, have a great Yuletide, everyone.

Monday, 3 December 2007


Ben Trovato found this on the web:

If you go down to Sudan today,
You'd better not go unread.
It's good to teach in Sudan today
But safer to stay in bed.
For every mob that ever there was
Is calling out for vengeance because
The teacher has
A teddy bear called



Ben Trovato writes:

According to today's Times, Washington is awash with rumours that Condoleezza Rice is a lesbian. While I'm far more concerned with her defective mentality than with her eccentric sexuality, the really side-splitting nugget of this story is that Condi's closest woman friend, with whom she co-owns a house, is called Randy Bean!

Randy Bean and Sleazy Rice? Their issue, if any, is bound to be cross-grained.

And this is the city of DC
The home of Ms Bean and Ms Rice
Where the gossip of Bean is really quite mean
And the rumours of Rice are not nice.

[Apologies to John Collins Bossidy]

Sunday, 2 December 2007


The Great Hall of Castle Anticant. Preparations are a-swing for the Nuptial Ball in honour of MRS MALAPROP and THE BEADLE. Footmen and housemaids are busily cleaning, scrubbing, polishing, and putting up festive decorations including entwined hearts. Amid all the mêlée DAME BARBARA sits at the high table, scribbling feverishly away at a brand-new wedding ode:

“All hail to Mrs Malaprop!

The Beadle’s made her a fair cop

And after weeks of constant wheedle

She’ll soon become his Madam Beadle.

So let us cease our teasing mockings,

Stop poking fun at woollen stockings

And see her burst forth in full glory –

Her wedding gown’s another story.

She’ll put all other brides to shame

And marry with enduring fame

In shimmering tulle and lots of feathers

Which [unlike Camilla’s] brave all weathers.

The Beadle, too, in smartest best

Will wear his brand-new hat and vest;

His Best Man will be wicked Zola –

Who’s speech could not be any droller.

He plans to make his listeners squeal

With laughter as he doth reveal

The Beadle’s fury at the tricks

They played on him with LB’s knicks

Merrily fluttering in the breeze

Atop the flagpole if you please…..”

Enter BEN TROVATO, who reads the above over Dame Barbara’ s shoulder.

BEN: Do you really think this doggerel is appropriate for such a tear-jerking occasion? I shall have to cut down on the pink gin supply.

DAME: You will do nothing of the sort! You are keeping me on short commons as it is.


LRRB: El Wook has saved the day! As he was obliged to dispense with the services of the original troupe of Lewd Maidens, because of their moral unsuitability for this type of seasonal entertainment, he has hastily rung round other theatrical agencies and has located an out-of-work chorus of young ladies who are guaranteed as being ever-so-slightly shopsoiled. They will be arriving by charabanc within the next half hour, so our rehearsals will be able to proceed.

DAME: These young women sound of dubious reputation! I doubt whether they would be suitable for inclusion in one of my immortal bosom-heavers; all my heroines are virgins.

EL WOOK: Never fear, Dame Barbara. These damsels are all guaranteed virginal by Sir Richard Branson himself. Steady as a Northern Rock, he says they are.


HH: Woe is me! All the perfumes of Gordon’s Grotto will not sweeten this little paw. A dirty 5K note it clutched, but from whom I never saw. I was sleepwalking at the time. Now diabolical Dave Abrahams has murdered sleep and an Inspector Yates threatens to call….

She wanders off, distractedly, clutching someone else’s umbrella.

DAME: Oh dear! That poor young woman seems to be in distress. Ben, dear, you’d better go after her and give her a restorative cognac in the Snug.

He goes.


SS: Dame Barbara! Allow me to treat you to another pink gin.

DAME: By all means. [Shouts] Ben! Another half-dozen pink gins, please, and charge them to this gentleman’s account. Now [to SS], what can I do for you?

SS: Naturally, we at the Burrow Bugle pride ourselves on our exclusive access to the stories behind the news. We would be honoured if you would become our accredited correspondent for a blow-by-blow and under-the-cushions account of the forthcoming wedding and other festive events at Castle Anticant. We would, needless to say, remunerate you copiously in both currency and liquid form.

DAME: Like all prudent investors these days, I am no longer willing to be paid in US dollars. Euros or Venezuelan oil shares only, please.

SS: No problem, dear lady. I shall go and arrange it at once. He exits.

Enter ZOLA.

Z: Dame Barbara, I have come to rehearse to you, dear Mistress of the Revels, my Best Man’s speech in the hope that you will approve its suitability.

DAME: Please do. I am all ears [except for my mouth and nose. More pink gin pronto, Ben].

So over to Best Man Zola…..

[And it had better be good!]

Sunday, 25 November 2007


Grandpa Wolfie’s cottage in the forest. Grandpa Wolfie is entertaining El Wook and a troupe of lewd maidens, who have just arrived by spaceship. The maidens are in the throes of their Dance of the Seven Veils when Little Red Riding Boots enters.

LRRB: Lawks a mussy, Grandpa, whatever’s going on here? I traipse all through the dark and dangerous forest to relieve your solitude and bring you festive fare from the good Anticant and Dame Barbara, and what do I find? Wicked wassail with Wook!

El Wook: Have no fear, little lady, these scantily clad damsels are your new sisters, and your grandpa has agreed [for a consideration] that you shall join my roving troupe.

LRRB: Not on your Nellie! I never take my clothes off for strange men – unless they own a few diamond mines and a swathe of oil wells.

Grandpa Wolfie: But, my dear, this charming Magus has made a bargain with me that will be highly advantageous to us both. Surely you would not deny your impoverished old Grandpa a break after he has been so ignominiously ejected from his cushy job at the World Bank?

LRRB: As my Great-Aunt Eartha used to sing, I want an old-fashioned millionaire – not a clapped-out old pauper like you. Good Fairy LavenderBlue has granted my three wishes. I summon her to my aid!

Good Fairy LB materialises:

GFLB: What is it, my dear?

LLRB: You promised I would be a Queen, and stinking rich, with swarms of admirers, but now I find I have been sold willy nilly to this old mountebank and his sordid circus.

GFLB: My dear, there are many roads to one’s cherished goals, and though performing lascivious dances in nightclubs may not be the most immediately desirable, I can assure you that it has paved the way to diamond tiaras and wads of greenbacks for many a worthier wench than yourself. In this instance I fear I cannot intervene with the fate that awaits you in the harem of El Wook.

She vanishes. The lewd maidens surround LRRB and whisk her into an increasingly frenzied bacchanal, cheered on by Grandpa Wolfie and El Wook.


Meanwhile, back at Castle Anticant……But that’s Scene 5.

Saturday, 24 November 2007


Ben Trovato has been surfing the internet [again!] and has come up with the following:


A man checked into a hotel in Australia. There was a computer in his room. He decided to send an e-mail to his wife. Unfortunately he clicked on the wrong address.

Meanwhile, a friend’s widow had just returned from her husband’s funeral. She checked her e-mail, expecting to find condolences from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she fainted. Her son rushed in and found her on the floor. Then he looked at the message on the computer screen, which read:

To: My Loving Wife

Subject: I’ve Arrived

“I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now, and you’re allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

PS It’s damned hot down here!!

And, for Wook:


An old farmer had a pond in his back field which was OK for swimming. One evening he went down to see everything was alright, and heard people splashing about and laughing. As he drew nearer he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping. They retreated into the deep end of the pond, and one of them shouted “We’re not coming out until you leave!” The canny old man replied: “I didn’t come down here to watch you ladies swim or make you get out of the pond. I only came to feed my alligators.”

Thursday, 22 November 2007


ben trovato writes:

According to an article in today's Independent, the 80-year-old 'Archbishop' of an Atlanta Protestant mega-church told one of his congregation that sleeping with him was "the surest path to eternal salvation". He then proceeded to have a 14-year affair with her, and also borrowed $400,000 from her husband - a pastor at the church - to settle a suit from a member of his congregation who claimed she had been sexually assaulted by him since she was seven years old.

Now, a paternity test has revealed that the Archbishop fathered a 34-year-old son - who is now the church's head pastor! - by his brother's wife.

The Archbishop has been praised by President Bush for "his extraordinary work for God and the community".

Yes indeed! This outfit gives a whole new meaning to the Love of God. Carry on bonking and pass the collection plate......

Saturday, 17 November 2007


A gloomy forest. Little Red-faced Red Riding Boots appears, threading her way through the trees. She sees a bright light ahead of her in a clearing, and moves towards it. As she steps out into the clearing, a radiant beautifully dressed lady with a star in her hair and a magic wand appears:

Good Fairy:

“I am your fairy godmother, LavenderBlue.

I have the lousy task of overseeing you.

I don’t much like what you get up to,

But here’s three wishes I’ll make come true.”


“O Godmother, I want to be a Queen

And make my rivals sick with envy green.

I long to be so stinking rich

They’ll never dare to call me horrid bitch.

I want men at my beck and call

So life will be one endless ball.”


“All these I grant, but mark my words:

Pleasures and troubles come in herds,

And when you’ve had your bit of fun

Troubles will follow at a run”.


“Your sombre forecasts don’t dismay me –

I’m off to find a man to lay me.”

She exits in the direction of Grandpa Wolfie’s cottage. LavenderBlue shakes her head and murmurs: “Little does she know what awaits here there…..”


Ben Trovato writes:

We’re just reading a most entertaining book which would be the ideal Christmas present for anyone interested in 19th century rural history and quaint anecdotes. It’s Recollections of a Sussex Parson, by the Rev. E.B. Ellman, who was Rector of Berwick, near Lewes, for over half a century. The book is crammed full of interesting and amusing stories, and is beautifully produced in a new edition illustrated with modern woodcuts by a local artist. It’s obtainable from Mrs. L Hallums, 2 Roman Close, Bishopstone, Seaford, East Sussex BN25 2SW and costs £15 plus £3.80 postage and packing, cheques payable to ‘Berwick P.C.C’.

To give you the book’s flavour, just one of the many reminiscences is the tale of a rather grand old lady who always lunched on a mutton chop served promptly at 2 o’clock by her elderly butler, who had been in her service for thirty years. One day, as he was about to take the chop in to her, he dropped down dead. While the other servants were debating how to break the sad news to their mistress, she rang the bell violently and demanded to know where her chop was. They explained that the butler had just died. Her response was: “That is no reason why I should be kept waiting. Is there not anyone else who can bring in my chop?”


Mrs Malaprop, as she is constantly reminding us, is a respectable woman. Now the Beadle has at long last plucked up the courage to make her an honest one. Their wedding will take place shortly before Christmas, to chime in with the Festive Season. Anticant will give the bride away, and Ben Trovato will be best man.

Dame Barbara is offering a seasonal prize - a magnum of champagne - for the best verses in celebration of this happy event, when there will be much wassailing in the Burrow. Wooffie is already choosing his new necklace to wear on this occasion, and LavenderBlue is busy with a portrait of the bride who has promised that on this unique occasion she will exchange her usual Jaeger stockings for sheen silk ones.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Dame Barbara’s Bedroom. The Crafty Chambermaid peeps out between the curtains of the four-poster:

“I am the Crafty Chambermaid
Gentlemen’s beds remain unmade
Till I’ve been well and truly laid.

“I’ve toyed with young Ben now and then
But fun with Zola is much much droller
He pants and heaves like a steam roller

Though what I find really arouses
Me is a good romp with naughty Trousers
Who sorts me out as safe as houses.…”

She is interrupted by the entrance of Dame Barbara:

“What are you saying, you foul slut?
Just keep that big mouth firmly shut
Or I will whack you in the gut!

We want no naughty dalliance here
Such goings-on will interfere
With our good name. Is that quite clear?”


“T’was but a turn of speech, dear madam
I like these guys but never had ‘em
Except in my ecstatic dreams
Where champagne flows in endless streams.

So dear Dame B pray don’t dismiss me
I swear I shall let no man kiss me.”

Dame Barbara:

“You’d better not, or fear the worst!
Unchastity is roundly cursed
In Anticant’s domain. Now go
And keep those too loose lips well pursed.

‘Tis time you journeyed through the wood –
Your grandpapa is off his food.”

The Crafty Chambermaid curtseys and exits, blowing a raspberry at Dame Barbara’s back as she does so.


The Great Hall, Castle Anticant

Enter Judge Anticant, muttering to himself:

“The Festive Season is upon us

A pantomime would be a bonus

With thrills and spills for lovers true

And spells by Fairy LavvyBlue.

I’ll get Dame Barbara to write it

And Wizard Zola to ignite it

With spicy wit and lots of booze –

A surefire winner, we can’t lose….”

Enter the Housekeeper, Dame Malaprop:

“What’s this? Anticant talking to himself?

The poor old boy’s long past the shelf!

I’d better fetch the trusty Beadle

Who knows the Master how to wheedle.

And if that fails, I’ll send for Ben –

Old Anticant likes younger men.”


“Now, Dame, tut, tut, pray don’t presume

To throw your weight around the room,

Just set to work and wield your broom.

We’ve company arriving soon,

A spaceship from the blogosphere

I’m told will very soon be here

And it will be sore heavy laden

With Ogre Wook and umpteen maiden

Ladies he describes as ‘lewd’.

I hope they’re not arriving nude!”

Enter the Castle Beadle:

“Don’t fear, Sire Anticant, for I will stop it!

Anyone naked won’t half cop it.

They will be put into the stocks

And pelted with marshmallow rocks

Until they are all moist and sticky

And then they won’t feel very tricky.

Just to ensure there is no hassle

I’ll post a notice in the castle

To warn any incoming boarder:


Exit Dame Malaprop and the Beadle. Anticant shakes his head doubtfully……

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


With the pending advent of the Christmas Season, Anticant, Dame Barbara, and Ben Trovato are deep in consultation scripting the Burrow Grand Christmas Pantomime, Anticant and the Naughty Bloggers.There will be a star-studded cast including Good Fairy LavenderBlue, Zola the Magician, Toyboy Trousers, Mad Merkin, Wicked Wookie, a punch and judy show performed by the Beadle and Mrs Malaprop, and return appearances of 'Wolfy' Wolfowitz and the Crafty Chambermaid as Little Red-faced Ridingboots. Wooffie, of course, will steal the show with his Dance of the Seven Pearlstrings.

Watch this space!

Saturday, 10 November 2007


As Emmett has raised the question of the pervasive snoopers who surround us all these days - there are no CCTV cameras in the Burrow, btw - this seems a good moment to voice my distaste at one of the most obnoxious government broadcast announcements I've ever heard. It is directed at benefit fraudsters, and tells them that they are being WATCHED and have nowhere to hide. "We will track you down", the message says; "we may even be standing next to you at this very moment".

If this squalid threat doesn't reek of Big Brother, I'll eat Dame Barbara's handbag. I have no time for benefit scroungers, and certainly wish them to be caught. But not with this creepy, spine-shivering stuff from a government agency. I grew up during WW2, when we were rightly admonished that 'careless talk costs lives' and that we should 'keep mum'. There were spivs and swindlers around then too, who were viewed disdainfully. But SNOOPERS - government or private - who spied upon and informed against their fellow-citizens were regarded with far greater contempt, as the lowest of the low in fact. That, surely, was a far healthier attitude than this brazen , bullying brag that "we know where you are, and are coming to get you".

Most of the time they don't, of course. And the culprits know they don't. So why waste public money on this STASI type stuff? It's high time this ghastly government grew up - or better still, got thrown out.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


THE BEADLE has been researching the history of his ancient office, and has come up with the following:

“Beadles’ duties varied from parish to parish and ranged from acting as a kind of parochial town crier to a position of power more akin to a village constable. In larger parishes they had overall charge of the night watchmen, setting their hours and ensuring that they turned up for duty. A typical list of tasks was:

To keep order in the parish; to prevent the lurking of beggars and vagabonds; to keep general order and to prevent youths and boys from disturbing the peace by noisy sports, playing, gaming and general mischief.

The beadle would also attend church as part of his duties, ensuring churchgoers were attentive to the sermon and reprimanding noisy children and adults who talked during the service. He was also a kind of latter-day traffic warden, ensuring horses and carriages did not cause problems when parked outside the church. In Sunbury, Middlesex, in 1858 the beadle was in charge of the fire engine!

Many beadles, but certainly not all, received an annual salary plus various fees. They would also receive an annual allowance for a uniform, which generally consisted of a cloak and hat. The parish would own the staff of office, which he carried on duty.

[From an article on 'Parish Officials' by Colin Waters in issue 58 of Your Family Tree magazine. Reproduced by permission.]

Friday, 2 November 2007


Anticant had a night out yesterday. Have a look in the Arena.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007



Today is LAVENDERBLUE’s birthday, and I’ve been honoured to give her a bouquet with love from all of us at the Burrow.

During our West Country travels, I learned quite a lot about the artistic temperament! Our LAVENDER has oodles of that, besides an abundance of flair and talent, as her lovely paintings attest.

These qualities were the gifts of a good fairy, or ghost, who kissed her at her birth in a Scottish castle. So when LAVENDER’s sun shines one basks warmly in its golden glow, but when the lightning strikes and the thunder booms you’d best take shelter from the storm, which is usually brief -- so thank goodness my skin, like my fur coat, is nice and thick!

Oh, yes, it’s a dog’s life, but with LAVENDERBLUE there’s always a sketch book at the ready, a meaty bone, a string of pearls, a swig of brandy, a comforting pat, and at the end of it all a hearty chuckle and another beautiful picture.

So Many Many Happy Returns, dear Ms LB, and lots of love from me and all of us at ANTICANT’s. Woof, Woof!

Sunday, 28 October 2007


For some inexplicable reason, Anticant is deluged daily with offers to enhance his manhood, though in his case it would only be locking the stable door....

But in case anyone is ever tempted to take up one of these enticing offers, here's a cautionary tale from Wired:

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- A security flaw at a website operated by the purveyors of penis-enlargement pills has provided the world with a depressing answer to the question: Who in their right mind would buy something from a spammer?

An order log left exposed at one of Amazing Internet Products' websites revealed that, over a four-week period, some 6,000 people responded to e-mail ads and placed orders for the company's Pinacle herbal supplement. Most customers ordered two bottles of the pills at a price of $50 per bottle.

Do the math and you begin to understand why spammers are willing to put up with the wrath of spam recipients, Internet service providers and federal regulators.

Since July 4, Amazing Internet Products would have grossed more than half a million dollars from, one of several sites operated by the company to hawk its penis pills.

Among the people who responded in July to Amazing's spam, which bore the subject line, "Make your penis HUGE," was the manager of a $6 billion mutual fund, who ordered two bottles of Pinacle to be shipped to his Park Avenue office in New York City. A restaurateur in Boulder, Colorado, requested four bottles. The president of a California firm that sells airplane parts and is active in the local Rotary Club gave out his American Express card number to pay for six bottles, or $300 worth, of Pinacle. The coach of an elementary school lacrosse club in Pennsylvania ordered four bottles of the pills.

Other customers included the head of a credit-repair firm, a chiropractor, a veterinarian, a landscaper and several people from the military. Numerous women also were evidently among Amazing Internet's customers.

All were evidently undaunted by the fact that Amazing's order site contained no phone number, mailing address or e-mail address for contacting the company. Nor were they seemingly concerned that their order data, including their credit card info, addresses and phone numbers, were transmitted to the site without the encryption used by most legitimate online stores.

"There was a picture on the top of the page that said, 'As Seen on TV,' and I guess that made me think it was legit," said a San Diego salesman who ordered two bottles of Pinacle in early July. The man, who asked not to be named, said he has yet to receive his pills, despite the site's promise to fill the order in five days.

A former employee of Amazing Internet Products, who requested anonymity, reported the company's tendency to expose order log files to Wired News. The file was viewable by anyone with a Web browser who truncated one of the Internet addresses published by the company.

Besides legitimate orders, Amazing Internet's log file also contained numerous complaints from spam recipients, who used the order form to register their unhappiness at the site's lack of a proper list-removal option.

Faith York, a rehabilitation counselor in Maine, left Amazing Internet a few choice words last month after an e-mail advertising Pinacle pills slipped through AOL's spam filters and landed in her 10-year-old son's inbox. In a telephone interview last week, York said she lost her temper when she discovered that neither the e-mail nor the ordering site included any means of contacting the company.

"The only way I could send them information was by making up an order, and in the spaces for address and whatnot I described my discontent at them sending my son that kind of e-mail," York said.

The registration record for the site, and the ones for the dozens of other sites used by Amazing Internet Products, provide little help in tracking down the company's owners. The domain records typically list a fictitious registrant and a post office box in Manchester, New Hampshire, along with a nonworking phone number and e-mail address.

To further throw people off its tracks, Amazing Internet and its affiliates send out their loads of junk e-mail using fake return addresses, or the real return address of an innocent third party.

But records on file with the New Hampshire secretary of state show that Braden Bournival, a 19-year-old high-school dropout who is also listed as vice president of the New Hampshire Chess Association, owns Amazing Internet Products.

Bournival refused repeated requests for interviews about his business. When approached for comment at a chess tournament in Merrimack, New Hampshire, last month, Bournival, who is a national-master-caliber player, ran away from a Wired News reporter.

The registered agent for Amazing Internet Products, Mark Wright of Manchester law firm McLane, Graf, Raulerson, & Middleton, also declined to be interviewed.

Amazing Internet leases several thousand square feet of office space at the Tower Mill Center on Bedford Street in Manchester, where, according to the former employee, Bournival's teenage sister fills padded envelopes with bottles of Pinacle and ships them off to customers.

An investigation (registration to required) last month revealed that Bournival's mentor and business partner is Davis Wolfgang Hawke, a chess expert and former neo-Nazi leader who turned to the spam business in 1999 after it became public that his father was Jewish.

By all appearances, Bournival's and Hawke's spam business is highly profitable. Amazing Internet pays a supplier around $5 per bottle of pills, and gives affiliates who send spam on its behalf about $10 per order, said the former associate. That leaves plenty of room for a tidy profit in the low-overhead spam business.

But does the stuff work? Amazing Internet's spams make this promise to Pinacle users: "Realistically, you can grow up to 3 FULL INCHES IN LENGTH."

The Federal Trade Commission said there is no proof that the pills work as advertised. But the FTC does not have the resources to press a case against such companies, according to spokesman Richard Cleland.

Earlier this year, Joe Miksch, a columnist for the Fairfield County Weekly, published a humorous account of what happened when he took Pinacle for 30 days. It went something like this: "Day one: No change. Day two: No change. Day three: No change. Days four through 30: See above."

But according to the former associate, Amazing Internet Products makes good on its enlargement guarantee, and -- poor security precautions aside -- protects customers' data.

"I don't know if the stuff works. But Brad has a weird sense of ethics. He would never use a stolen credit card, and he honors requests for refunds," he said.

To that end, one of Amazing's websites, which has since gone offline, listed a toll-free customer service number. The company's PayPal account shows two e-mail addresses.


The clocks have gone back, alas, and the long dark winter evenings are upon us. But cheer up! Here in the Snug, thanks to the tireless efforts of Ben, the Beadle, and Mrs Malaprop, the curtains are cosily drawn, logs are ablaze in the hearth, the polished brass and pewter gleams in the firelight, the candles are lit, and the bar is - as ever - well stocked.

All that's missing are the regular gossips, whose ready wit and good humour we rely on to make this a bumper season.

So roll up ladies & gents all, toss in your [polite] penn'orths, and place your orders.

Sunday, 21 October 2007


Next weekend the clocks will be put back one hour and we shall return to the long dark winter evenings with their accompanying epidemic of Seasonal Affective Disorder and upsurge of traffic accidents. As usual, we benighted islanders will be out of step with our European neighbours. Grudgingly, we shall go through the twice-yearly tedious performance of adjusting umpteen clocks, watches, and household devices.

Before the proliferation of technology, the time change used to involve maybe a couple of household clocks and a few personal watches. Not any more! At the last count, over two dozen gadgets had to be adjusted in the Burrow – an irritating and unnecessary procedure. Multiply this by the millions of items needing attention in homes and businesses throughout the land, and the wasteful economic impact of this unnecessary biannual rigmarole becomes obvious. Yet, surprisingly, there seems to be no strong demand to scrap it.

During World War Two, summer time was retained throughout the winter and the clocks were moved forward another hour, to “double summer time”, in the summer. If this was in the national interest then, it should be the practice now if it is deemed necessary to change the clocks at all, or else we should stick to summer time throughout the year.

When Anticant was growing up during the War, his family lived next door to an elderly lady who refused to conform to the clock-changing routine because, she said, it upset the birds, who didn’t perform their dawn chorus at what she considered to be the appropriate hour. So she kept her clocks an hour behind everyone else’s. A friend of ours said she lived by ‘Cuckoo Time’.

Here at the Burrow, Cuckoo Time seems a jolly good idea – except that we would prefer to keep our clocks one hour ahead of everyone else.

Joking apart, what do others think of this clock-changing business?

Thursday, 18 October 2007


The welcome return of our errant Naked Kayaker has brought great relief to his Burrow friends, who were becoming quite sick with worry over his unaccustomed silence.

Why he went offline for so long is his own private business, and it isn't for us to pry. But knowing that Zola, Anticant, and some of our other regular blogging friends suffer from ongoing health problems, we in the Burrow would like to suggest that when any of us intend to stop blogging for a while we should post a note to this effect on our own blogs so that our friends won't be having nightmare scenarios about our being at - or through - death's door.

Welcome back to the Snug, Zola! Ben is serving fee drinks all round, Mrs Malaprop has donned a brand new pair of woollen stockings, and the Beadle has promised to turn a blind eye to a little discreet knicker waving. Dame Barbara has embarked upon a new epic, Paddlers' Paradise, involving intrepid canooing and canoodling in the Arctic, polar bears, virgins marooned on ice-floes, etc. etc. Order your discount advance copy NOW!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007


It now seems that Pimpernel Zola has been hobnobbing - or nob-hopping - with two fat ladies, and is well oiled. [See his site.]

This tall tale reminds Ben of the following recent gleaning from the ether:

"A drunk is staggering down the road when two nuns are walking in the opposite direction.

As the nuns approach him they wonder which way to walk to avoid him as he staggers. The road is busy so they can't walk off the pavement, so they decide to separate, with one going each side of him.

As they pass the drunk he stops. Then after a moment he turns around, stares at the nuns, and says:

"How the f__k did she do that?"

Saturday, 13 October 2007


Since returning from his brief holiday in mid-September, Anticant has attended five outpatients' clinics at different hospitals - two for 'procedures' - and several more loom between now and Christmas [including yet another unpleasant 'procedure' at the end of this month].

All this makes him feel his new, octogenarian, age and is not conducive to skipping the light fantastic inside or out of the Burrow. We therefore ask our Snug 'regulars' and other friends to be patient while more energy is generated for creative invention. Even Dame Barbara is suffering from writer's block at the moment. Pink gins are at a premium.

There is still no news from Zola, who has been AWOL for over two weeks now. We trust that all is well with him, and look forward anxiously and eagerly for further tidings. Ben, the Beadle, and Wooffie would gladly sally forth bearing brandy and other comforts if they knew which direction to head in, but even Miss Marple is more clueless than usual. Only Mrs Malaprop is keeping her head above water, cossetting Anticant and the Dame and keeping a wary eye on the Crafty Chambermaid.

Monday, 8 October 2007


Zola has not been online for nearly two weeks now and his friends in the Burrow are becoming increasingly anxious as he has not responded to an email enquiring if he is OK.

Dear Zola, if you see this PLEASE post either on your own site or here, and let us know that all is well with you.

And if anyone else has news, or means of contacting Zola, please report back.

Saturday, 6 October 2007


Today I’ve been on this planet for eight decades. Survival is worth celebrating, I suppose, and a couple of years ago I didn’t think I would last this long. But I’d rather be 40 than 80, and I don’t expect to reach 90. So the question is: how best to spend the relatively brief remainder of my life?

Eric Berne, the wise ‘father’ of Transactional Analysis, once said that the most important problem every human being has is how to pass the time between being born and dying. In the wicked world we are living in, far too many people don’t have much choice in the matter, and the majority of those who can choose make what to my mind are some pretty rotten choices.

One choice I am making on this birthday is to spend less time in future on the supposedly serious blogosphere. I’m getting increasingly fed up with the ceaseless outpourings of anger, intolerance, and irrational opinion which clutter up so much blogging, and in particular the inability – or unwillingness – to follow a line of discussion through without veering off into irrelevant and intemperate rants and slanging matches. We are living through a self-tormented period when what Jung called the ‘dark shadow’ seems to have taken over the bulk of humankind, who purblindly see nothing but good in themselves and project all badness onto the supposedly demonic ‘other’.

With such almost universally one-sided views being peddled from conflicting standpoints, and so little inclination to compromise, I’ve almost given up hope of finding much constructive thinking or sensible answers on the internet [or anywhere else] to the increasingly menacing self-made plight of humanity, and reluctantly conclude that as the lunatics and thugs are well on the way to taking over the global asylum, there’s not much point in bashing my feeble brains around serious issues in the few short years I may have left to me.

Anyway, I’ve said most of what I want to say in previous posts, so anyone interested in my views can browse the Arena archive. No doubt I’ll be popping up every now and again in Anticant's Arena, but mostly I shall indulge in sheer escapism by frolicking in my Burrow, which I increasingly find a much more congenial place than the real world.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007


During the court adjournment, Ben fished this out of the internet joke pond:

A woman goes to Italy to attend a two-week company training session.

Her husband drives her to the airport and wishes her to have a good trip.

The wife answers, "Thank you honey, what would you like me to bring for you?"

The husband laughs and says, "An Italian girl!"

The woman kept quiet and left.

Two weeks later he picks her up at the airport and asks, "So, honey, how was the trip?"

"Very good, thank you."

"And, what happened to my present?"

"Which present?"

"The one I asked for - an Italian girl!!"

"Oh, that," she said, "Well, I did what I could; now we have to wait for eight months to see if it's a girl."


Wooffie lurched into the witness box, hiccupping slightly. When told by Dame Barbara to bark once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no’, he nodded blearily.

‘Now, Wooffie’, said Dame Barbara, ‘do you recognise the defendant?’. Wooffie barked once.

‘Do you trust her?’ Two barks.

‘Have you been keeping an eye on her?’ One bark.

‘Have you watched her through bedroom keyholes?’ One bark.

‘Oh, the treacherous hound!’ exclaimed the Crafty Chambermaid.

‘Did you see her rummaging under beds?’ One bark.

‘And was she concentrating on her cleaning duties?’ Two barks.

‘Did she remove any items of Miss Marple’s and Mrs Malaprop’s personal belongings?’ One bark.

Cross-examined by Miss Marple, Wooffie indicated that he had followed Dorcas into Burrowville, and had sneaked after her unobserved into the saloon bar of the Anticant Arms, where she was joined by a man who Wooffie identified as Snoopy Scribbler. Pretending to be asleep, Wooffie had seen, out of the corner of one eye, Dorcas talking into a tape recorder and then putting a large bundle of bank notes into her apron pocket.

Asked how he felt about this, Wooffie suddenly vomited and was hastily ordered by Dame Barbara to leave the witness box.

Saturday, 29 September 2007


Malaprop and Marple vs. Litefinger

His Honour Judge Anticant presiding.

The case before the Court was brought by Maria Malaprop and Jane Marple against Dorcas Litefinger for intrusion of privacy and breach of confidence.

The matter complained of was an article in the Burrow Bugle entitled “Burrow Bedroom Secrets: All is Revealed”, written by Snoopy Scribbler and reading as follows:

“Our in-house correspondent at Anticant’s Burrow, ‘BEDBUG’, informs us that unexpected possessions lurk under various Burrow counterpanes. Miss Marple, for instance, treasures a set of first editions of the Complete Works of Agatha Christie, and a set of Victorian curling tongs. Mrs Malaprop, the housekeeper, secretes under her bed a portmanteau full of ribbed woollen stockings in various shades, and a china mug inscribed “Ever thine, O Beloved, your devoted Beadle”. Under the Beadle’s bed is a heart-shaped silver frame containing a portrait of Mrs Malaprop. I have not yet had an opportunity to investigate the bedroom hoards of Anticant, Ben, or Dame Barbara, as that horrid Wooffie keeps sniffing around my ankles whenever I approach their rooms. But I shall report further in your next issue.”

The plaintiffs called for an apology, damages, and an injunction against publication of further items emanating from ‘Bedbug’, who, they claimed, was Demure Dorcas Litefinger, aka The Crafty Chambermaid.

Judge Anticant said that as he was proprietor of the Burrow Bugle, a conflict of interest was indicated and he would therefore step down from the bench and invite Dame Barbara de Carteblanche to take his place which she accordingly did.

The first witness was the Bugle’s gossip columnist, Snoopy Scribbler. Asked to confirm the identity of ‘Bedbug’, he declined, pleading journalist’s immunity to revealing his sources. He was reprimanded by Dame Barbara and told to step down.

The next witness was the Beadle, who professed outrage that his intimate love-tokens should be revealed to the world by a saucy guttersnipe. Dame Barbara told him to moderate his language, as the identity of the offending whistleblower had not yet been ascertained.

The defendant was then called to the witness box and asked whether or not she was Bedbug. “Oh, your Dameship”, she replied, “I have never bugged a bed in my life”. “But did you write this article? Yes or No?” Dame Barbara demanded. “Well, your Honour, I don’t clearly recollect doing so” replied the Crafty Chambermaid, “but then again I cannot swear for 100 per cent. certain that I didn’t. That Mr Scribbler was plying me with champagne and I may have signed something he put in front of me without realising what it was. Can I plead diminished responsibility?” “No – you can NOT!” Dame Barbara snapped. “You will plead either guilty or not guilty.” “In that case”, said Dorcas demurely, I shall opt for jury trial.”

A special jury was empanelled, consisting of Trousers, Wook, Lavenderblue, Merkin, and Zola. They are now deliberating, and their verdict and suggestions for sentencing [if the verdict is ‘guilty’] are awaited.

Thursday, 27 September 2007


Ben found this on Ananova:


A Bosnian couple are getting divorced after finding out
they had been secretly chatting each other up online
under fake names.

Sana Klaric, 27, and husband Adnan, 32, from Zenica,
poured out their hearts to each other over their marriage
troubles, and both felt they had found their real soul

The couple met on an online chat forum while he was at
work and she in an internet cafe, and started chatting
under the names Sweetie and Prince of Joy.

They eventually decided to meet up - but there was no
happy ending when they realised what had happened.

Now they are both filing for divorce - with each accusing
the other of being unfaithful.

Sana said: "I thought I had found the love of my life.
The way this Prince of Joy spoke to me, the things he
wrote, the tenderness in every expression was something I
had never had in my marriage.

"It was amazing, we seemed to be stuck in the same kind
of miserable marriages - and how right that turned out to

"We arranged to meet outside a shop and both of us would
be carrying a single rose so we would know the other.

"When I saw my husband there with the rose and it dawned
on me what had happened I was shattered. I felt so
betrayed. I was so angry."

Adnan said: "I was so happy to have found a woman who
finally understood me. Then it turned out that I hadn't
found anyone new at all.

"To be honest I still find it hard to believe that the
person, Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things to me on
the internet, is actually the same woman I married and
who has not said a nice word to me for years."


Dame Barbara de Carteblanche comments:

"How unromantic! If they had any sense, they would have flung their arms around each other, embraced passionately, laughed heartily, said 'Where have you been all my life?' and gone off for a slap-up celebration meal. But what a plot for my next bosom-heaver......"

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


Ben found this surfing the internet. Maybe it is more suitable for the Arena, but an occasional serious note in the Burrow is in order.


Just finished a week cycle holiday along coast from Newcastle to Edinburgh, and had a few new experiences en route.

At train station in Birmingham I took a photograph of the other three I was cycling with, only to be accosted by one of the platform ticket checkers who objected to my taking a photograph on which she appeared. She claimed her religion does not allow this, and when I suggested the platform and similar CCTV was likely recording most of her working day and that she would be very much in the background of my photo the discussion got heated.

Later in the trip, one of the ladies with us took a similar group photo of three cyclists stood outside a cafe. Unfortunately there was also a group of young kids being taken along the street and they were in the background of the photo. One of the adults supervising the kids went ballistic and demanded the photo be deleted, claiming anti paedophile regulations.

In Edinburgh, sat on platform waiting for train, approached by police and had to empty the contents of our panniers under 'Stop/Search S.44(2) anti-terrorism laws of 2000'. (Brave guy, 6 days of cycling doesn't make for lots of clean socks). One of my panniers had laptop etc, so I expressed to the policeman that I'd rather not advertise publicly that I've got a few thousand quids worth of electronic gear in a fairly insecure place, and would it be possible to go somewhere less public. The request was refused.

Arrived home to discover the porch had been pilfered, not a lot of damaged and only a few boots and post nicked or damaged. Police took report over the phone but otherwise no interest.

What a bloody country.(The cycle trip was fantastic, very lucky with the weather, met some top people along the way, and managed a rare relatively keyboard free week).

Monday, 24 September 2007


Miss Marple writes:

Discreetly entering my bedroom I beheld Demure Dorcas, the Crafty Chambermaid, on her knees rummaging through the contents of my suitcase which she had dragged from under the bed. She was so absorbed in one of the Poirot mysteries by the immortal Dame Agatha Christie [from whom I learned most of what I know about sleuthing] that she only realised I was in the room when I exclaimed “Pray what does this mean?”

“Oh excuse me, Miss Marple,” the saucy hussy replied, “I was dusting under your bed when I found this fascinating masterpiece.”

“And who told you to pry into my belongings, Miss?” I sarcastically enquired.

“One must always be on the safe side, Miss Marple”, she replied. “I was brought up to check all unopened packages for possible intruders. As my late revered great-Aunt the eccentric music hall artiste Nellie Wallace frequently used to sing:

My Mother said

Always look under the bed

Before you blow the candle out

To see if there’s a man about.

I always do

And you can make a bet

It’s never been my luck

To find a man there yet.”

“Singing disreputable ditties won’t excuse your misbehaviour, ma’am”, I retorted. “I shall summon the Beadle and have you put into the stocks until Anticant convenes a Burrow Court.“

“I shouldn’t advise it if I were you”, the wicked wench responded. “You’ll never guess what I found under Anticant’s bed. Or under the Beadle’s and Mrs Malaprop’s – not to mention Dame Barbara’s. I hardly think they would like you or anyone else to read about it in the Burrow Bugle, which I fear they will do very soon if you proceed as you propose.”

I was dumbfounded. “You are a blackmailing chit!” I exclaimed, and set off to find the Beadle.

Thursday, 20 September 2007


The cream-and-gold Roller swept under the archway purring to a stop in the Burrow courtyard and Dame Barbara emerged, followed by Anticant who was dreamily warbling:

‘Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.

So follow me, follow

To Anticant’s Hollow

And there we will wallow

In glorious mud!’

He then tottered off to his den, supported on each side by the Beadle and Mrs Malaprop, who were cheerily calling ‘Hi-de-Hi’ and ‘Ho-de-Ho’ to each other.

Dame Barbara proceeded to hold a press conference, saying she had three important announcements to make.

“First, I have decided that in future I shall be known as Dame Barbara de Carteblanche, to avoid any confusion with other best-selling Romantic novelists, living or dead.

“Second, Anticant and I are so enchanted with the Thermal Health Spa we have just been visiting that I have purchased it for his 80th birthday present, and it will accordingly be re-opening in the near future after appropriate refurbishment as ‘Anticant’s Hollow’. We shall be inviting applications for the important post of Water Beadle.

“Lastly, I am embarking upon my 954th epic, inspired by our trip. I had intended to call it Water Sporting, but as dear Ben Trovato has pointed out this might be misconstrued I have decided that its title will be Aquatic Passions. The heroine’s name – need I say? – is Undine.

“Six large pink gins please, Ben.”

Ben Trovato, who had followed Dame Barbara out of the Rolls accompanied by a primly dressed young woman with her hair scrimped back into a bun, hastened to attend to Dame Barbara’s requirements.

The young woman, he explained, was a highly qualified Crafty Chambermaid whom he had recruited from Mrs Jump’s renowned Impeccable Domestics Agency, guaranteed to supply only persons of unblemished character. Her name was Demure Dorcas.

Left alone in the courtyard, the new acquisition looked furtively around to see that she was unobserved, and then announced:

“I am the Craftiest of Chambermaids!

I’m a dab hand at getting laid

By rich old men as big as tents

Whose largesse helps me pay my rents

And buy a big Mercedes Benz.

“Dame Chastity don’t plough my furrow -

I mean to liven up the Burrow.

But better not tell Anticant

Or the old fool will start a rant

And set the Beadle on my track

With Mrs Malaprop, alack.

“I’ll have to wheedle Master Ben

And throw Wooffie a bone, so when

A likely man checks in

They’ll turn a blind eye to my sin.

If Trousers calls, or maybe Wook, or Zola,

I’ll be ready for you, guys.

- Yours, Lusty Lola.”

She then skipped saucily into the Burrow.

Meanwhile, Miss Marple was reporting to Anticant on the absence of any startling incidents during her stewardship. No inappropriate articles of clothing had been hoisted aloft on the flagpole, and no rude messages had been received. There had been only one phone call – from a hiccupping Wooffie, barking somewhat incoherently from a “divine distillery on Dartmoor”, where the superb quality of the brandy had delighted both Lavenderblue and himself so much that he had ordered two dozen barrels for the Burrow cellars.

It looks as if there are interesting times ahead at the Burrow. Watch this space!

Thursday, 6 September 2007


Next week is the Burrow staff annual holiday, so there will be no more posting in the Burrow or the Arena for a while.

Dame Barbara is wafting Anticant away in her cream-and-gold Roller to an exclusive luxury health farm in the depths of the country, where they will both be mud-bathed and otherwise cosseted and pampered to their hearts’ content.

The Beadle and Mrs Malaprop are embarking on a “getting to know you better” event at Butlin’s, Somewhere-on-the Coast. Will they share a chalet? Perhaps we shall never know…..

Wooffie has been loaned to Lavenderblue as her escort on a Westward Ho! nature trail. The original plan was for Ben Trovato to take Wooffie on a mountain rescue adventure course in the Cairngorms, but Wooffie is avid to have his portrait painted, and looked so pathetic that Dame Barbara rashly lent him her best string of pearls and waved them both goodbye – we hope only temporarily.

Ben, who is a keen student of ‘form’, has duly absorbed the Naked Kayaker’s highly instructive exposition of ‘grobbling’, and has announced his intention of going wherever destiny leads him to grobble for Crafty Housemaids. We await the results of his efforts with interest and some trepidation.

Miss Marple has kindly offered to stay behind and guard the Burrow against intruders. She Is a most trustworthy and resourceful chatelaine, and we have every confidence that her prim determined respectability – not to mention her close contact with the local constabulary - will be highly effective in deterring unwanted callers.

And so, for now, farewell……….