Thursday, 30 August 2007


The Beadle writes:

As Wooffie hadn’t appeared by breakfast time, Anticant sent me to look for him and I set off towards the town. Soon I heard a rollicking rendition of “we won’t go home till morning”, and Wooffie lurched into view, his fur cap perched rakishly over his ears and – to my great relief – Dame Barbara’s pearls still entwined around his neck.

“Hi, Beadle old thing”, he growled, “Behold the champion waltzer of them all!” He had, he claimed, carried off the first and second prize for the St Bernard and the Valeta, and ended up dancing the hokey-cokey around the town square. “It was the pearls that did it”, he said – “casting them before the swinish multitude worked better than a glass slipper. So did several glasses of champers [hic].”

He was obviously a bit above himself, so I grasped him firmly by the collar and led him back to the Burrow, where a relieved Dame Barbara greeted him warmly. He wagged his bushy tail and settled down to an overdue sleep.

Meanwhile, Judge Anticant and Miss Marple were mulling over the case of Diana’s missing marbles. Judge Anticant maintained that she never had any, or that if she did they were fakes supplied from the Phoney Pharaoh’s emporium. An offer had been received from the Naked Kayaker to assist the enquiry, and it was agreed that he should be invited to proceed with Miss Marple to Harrod’s, in order to sample the quality of the merchandise. He would, however, have to abide by the strict dress code imposed by the proprietor in order to gain entry.

Dame Barbara’s suggestion that he should disguise himself as the Fuggin’ Dook of Edinborow did not meet with Miss Marple’s approbation; she thought that someone less conspicuous, such as Santa Claus, would be preferable. As Zola has in the past been known to do stand-in Christmas runs for the jovial gift-bearer, it was decided that this would be both appropriate and economical, and a telegram was accordingly despatched to Lapland saying “Come as Santa. Bring reindeer.”

A reply is awaited.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


Mrs Malaprop writes:

Dame Barbara and Miss Marple having awoken from their slumbers, they were escorted by Anticant and Ben to the dining room, where my best culinary efforts awaited them. To commence, Potage Zola, a weird concoction of yellow peas, mint, carrots, meat, and Marmite with Guinness, which the Finnish Gordon Ramsay had assured Anticant was “delicious” and a prime favourite at his Arctic Circle NAKED KAYAKER restaurant. Judging from the quizzical looks on the ladies’ faces, Potage Zola is an acquired taste which they have not yet acquired.

To follow, Roast Best End of Elk – another Maison Zola speciality, garnished with seakale and mashed potatoes. After chewing her first mouthful for five minutes, Dame Barbara observed somewhat grimly “If this is the Best End, I have no wish to become acquainted with the Scrag End!” I hastily substituted my own speciality, lobster champagne soufflé, for her ladyship.

Finally, Knickerbocker Glory, in honour of Ms. Lavenderblue, who, I am assured by Ben and the Beadle, is always glorious with or without knickerbockers.

During the meal, Dame Barbara confided that she had abandoned her ‘72 Virgins’ project, because so many frustrated young women were bound to squabble in an unseemly manner like a bag of Kilkenny cats and she would have had to wrestle with the dialogue. She had therefore reverted to an older project, ‘The Petulant Princess’, which did not call for any imagination in plotting, as there were abundant examples to hand.

Suddenly Miss Marple, who had been sitting quietly throughout the Dame’s discourse, jumped up saying “Good heavens! Why didn’t I think of it sooner?”, and ran from the room. She soon returned, looking glum. “Wooffie has disappeared”, she cried, “and Dame Barbara’s jewel box has vanished with him.” “Do not be alarmed”, Dame Barbara responded. “Dear Wooffie is competing this evening in the annual St. Bernard’s Waltzing competition, and I promised he could wear my pearls for the event. No doubt he will bring them back safe and sound before the clock strikes midnight.”

“She has fewer doubts than I have”, murmured the Beadle.

Monday, 27 August 2007

MRS MALAPROP'S DIARY - Bank Holiday Monday

Dame Barbara is in residence! As dusk approached last night, her cream-and-gold Rolls-Royce swept into the Burrow courtyard with a cheery tootle, and the Dame emerged, a vision in shocking pink and ostrich feathers, with eyelashes at least an inch long. She was escorted into the Parlour by Anticant, and I was introduced.

“Ah, Malaprop”, she said, “I am delighted you are here looking after my good friend Anticant. I heard the most complimentary things about you from my old friend the Duchess of Dither, for whom you so splendidly transformed the domestic arrangements at Crotchet Castle some years ago. I am sure you will do wonders for the Burrow, and keep that pompous Beadle on his toes”. “Thank you kindly, Ma’am, I am already doing so”, I said, dipping a curtsey. The Beadle looked A trifle morose.

Dame Barbara was soon ensconced in the Four-Poster room, and descended to the Parlour followed by her maid bearing a large reticule and a portable writing desk. “I intend to settle down here for a week”, the Dame said, “while I execute my latest oeuvre which is entitled ‘No Paradise for 72 Virgins’. So as neither to disappoint you, nor to whet your appetites, I should make it clear that the virgins remain virginal until the final paragraph – to the intense chagrin of their Arab swains. As in all my strictly moral works, there will be no ingesting or smoking of illegal substances, and no wild orgies. Indeed, there will be no tame orgies either”. “Then who on earth will bother to read such insipid stuff?” Ben Trovato muttered under his breath.

“Six large pink gins and a dish of peanuts, Ben dear”, commanded the Dame, and Ben trotted obediently off. As he did so, Wooffie trotted expectantly in. “Ah Wooffie, said Dame Barbara, “It’s time I relieved you of my cherished string of pearls. I’ve brought you a pretty cockleshell necklace instead. You will have to make do with that”. Wooffie made for the door, but the Dame was too quick for him. With surprising alacrity she interposed herself between Wooffie and the exit, and retrieved her pearls from around his neck. “There, there, good doggie”, she said, producing a large hambone from her reticule and fastening the shell necklace around Wooffie’s throat. He resignedly wagged his tail and settled down to make a closer acquaintance with the bone.

“That there Dame is a real caution”, said the Beadle, and went to answer the front door bell. The new arrival was Miss Marple, summoned by Anticant to assist in unravelling the mysterious affair of the Naked Kayaker and Ms LavenderBlue’s flying tights.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


I’m bothered about the Beadle. He’s taken to patrolling the river bank at crack of dawn and late at night, listening anxiously for sounds of plashing oars and peering anxiously into the gloom for the shadowy silhouette of a kayak. In the servants’ sitting room he nods off after meals and mutters restlessly in his sleep: “No knickers! No Knickers! By Order.” He tells me he has never recovered from the shock of finding Ms. Lavenderblue’s nether garments flying aloft from the Burrow flagpole, and fears a similar fate for my stockings. We shall see……

* * *

Anticant has instructed me to get the Guest Parlour spick and span in anticipation of a Bank Holiday visit from Dame Barbara, a distinguished romantic novelist and old friend of Anticant. From what Ben and the Beadle tell me, she is what is known as “rather a caution”, and has a weakness for pink gins, so Ben has been stocking up the Snug bar with plentiful supplies of Gordon’s and bitters. When Wooffie heard she was coming, he perked up and said he hoped she was bringing her jewel box. What can this mean?

* * *

Rummaging through the mustier recesses of the Burrow kitchen store cupboard, I unearthed sealed packets of fifty-four different brands of tea, all unopened and well beyond their use-by date. Ben says they were left by a former guest who could never make up his mind which flavour he liked best, so carried a trunkful of tea around with him. Finally he decided he preferred coffee. Men are so contrary! Not least the Beadle….

Wednesday, 22 August 2007


At a hastily convened session of the Burrow Court, Judge Anticant presiding, the complaint of Mrs Malaprop against the Burrow Muse for scribbling graffiti in the Snug was upheld.

The plaintiff said she had been shocked to read an obscene poem by the defendant on a comment thread to a story which she already considered unacceptably vulgar. If she was to continue in her post as Burrow Housekeeper, she required an assurance that such lapses of taste would not be repeated or tolerated.

In support of her case, she said that when the said graffiti had been observed by the Burrow Resident Artist, Ms Lavenderblue, the latter had fainted dead away and had required copious administrations of sal volatile and smelling salts to bring her round.

She also called in evidence Bodwyn Wook, who had confessed to perpetrating the original story but felt that the Bard’s effusions had lowered the tone of the enterprise to an unacceptable degree.

In his own defence, the Bard said that the story’s reference to squirrels had recalled to his mind the true story to which he had appended the offending doggerel. If this was deemed in bad taste, he unreservedly apologised but maintained his view that it was rib-tickling. He called as a character witness Wooffie, who wagged his tail and gave a bleary wink to the Judge.

Judge Anticant said that he deplored such a lax interpretation of the Burrow’s free speech policy, and reminded all concerned that the Burrow’s motto is “Dulce et Decorum”. He found for the plaintiff, and ordered the defendant to present her with half a dozen pairs of woollen stockings of assorted colours within three days, failing which he would be put into the stocks for six hours. He was ordered to hand over his archive to the Beadle for inspection as to suitability prior to further poetic postings.


ben trovato writes:

The following nugget from Wook is far too good to be left buried in a comment thread:

The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family.

On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Smith kissed his wife goodbye and said, "Well, I'm off now; the man should be here soon."

Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby
photographer happened to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale.

Good morning, Ma'am", he said, "I've come to...''

Oh, no need to explain," Mrs Smith cut in, embarrassed, "I've been expecting you."

"Have you really?" said the photographer. "Well, that's good. Did you know babies are my speciality?"

"Well that's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat."

After a moment she asked, blushing, "Well, where do we start?"

"Leave everything to me I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed. And sometimes the living room floor is fun. You can really spread out there."

"Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work out for Harry and me!"

"Well, Ma'am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results."

"My, that's a lot!" gasped Mrs Smith .

"Ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I'd love to be in and out in five minutes, But I'm sure you'd be disappointed with that."

"Don't I know it," said Mrs Smith quietly.

The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. " This was done on the top of a bus," he said.

"Oh my God!" Mrs Smith exclaimed.

"And these twins turned out exceptionally well - When you
consider their mother was so difficult to work with."

"She was difficult?" asked Mrs Smith.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look."

"Four and five deep?" said Mrs Smith , her eyes wide with amazement.

"Yes", the photographer replied. "And for more than three hours, too.

"The mother was constantly squealing and yelling - I could hardly concentrate, and when darkness approached I had to rush my shots.

"Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just had to pack it all in."

Mrs Smith leaned forward. "Do you mean they actually chewed on your,"

" Ma'am, they was NUTS about it.... Well, if you're ready, I'll set-up my tripod and we can get to work right away."

" Tripod?"

"Oh yes, Ma'am. I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big to be held in the hand very long."

Mrs. Smith fainted dead away.........

Monday, 20 August 2007


Anticant has been nominated a Thinking Blogger by Yankee Doodle. Read his remarks, and you will see why I am blushing.

Sunday, 19 August 2007


ben trovato writes:

A young ventriloquist is touring the clubs and one night he's doing a show in a small club in a small town in Essex.  With his dummy on his knee, he's going through his usual dumb blonde jokes when a blonde woman in the fourth row stands on her chair and starts shouting: 

'I've heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes. What makes you think you can stereotype women that way? What does the colour of a person's hair have to do with her worth as a human being? It's guys like you who keep women like me from being respected at work and in the community and from reaching our full potential as a person, because you and your kind continue to perpetuate discrimination against, not only blondes, but women in general... and all in the name of humour!'

The ventriloquist is embarrassed and begins to apologise, when the blonde yells, 'You stay out of this, alright?! I'm talking to that little bugger on your knee!'

Saturday, 18 August 2007


Two pairs of Mrs Malaprop's Jaeger stockings have disappeared off the Burrow washing line. Just after she missed them, there were plashing sounds from the river and the Beadle caught a glimpse of a kayak paddling hastily downstream.

A £50 reward is offered for any information leading to the return of these essential articles of ladylike apparel.

By Order

Thursday, 16 August 2007


ben trovato offers the following tit-bit as a peg for Wook to hang out one of his moralisings about baby boomers....

Little Johnny watched his daddy's car pass by the school playground and go into the woods. Curious, he followed the car and saw Daddy and Aunt Jane in a passionate embrace.

Little Johnny found this so exciting that he could not contain himself as he ran home and started to tell his mother.

"Mommy, I was at the playground and I saw Daddy's car go into the woods with Aunt Jane. I went back to look and he was giving Aunt Jane a big kiss, then he helped her take off her shirt. Then Aunt Jane helped Daddy take his pants off, then Aunt Jane........"

At this point Mommy cut him off and said, "Johnny, this is such an interesting story, suppose you save the rest of it for supper time. I want to see the look on Daddy's face when you tell it tonight."

At the dinner table, Mommy asked little Johnny to tell his story. Johnny started his story, "I was at the playground and I saw Daddy's car go into the woods with Aunt Jane. I went back to look and he was giving Aunt Jane a big kiss, then he helped her take off her shirt.Then Aunt Jane helped Daddy take his pants off, then Aunt Jane and Daddy started doing the same thing that Mommy and Uncle Bill used to do when Daddy was in the Army."


Ben Trovato writes:

Emmett [Bodwyn Wook] has kindly allowed me to reproduce this from his blog:

Watch Your Own!

[WISE Sayings, all of instructional value; and, in the right context, both attributable & useful to (ta-da!) The Sufis (and their individual students) — edited by Benny Raymond]

The priest entered his donkey in a race and it won. The priest was so pleased with the donkey that he entered in another race and it won again. The local paper read:


The bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the priest not to enter the donkey in any more races. The next day the local paper headline read:


This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the priest to get rid of the donkey. The priest decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent. The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline:


The bishop fainted deadaway. Afterward, he informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10. The next day the headlines read:


This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it out onto the prairie where it could run free. The next day the headlines read:


Alas, the bishop was buried the next day.

EDITOR Benny Raymond comments:

THE Sufi moral of this tale, first told without the newspaper-headlines as a teaching tool in moorish Spain, is that being concerned with public opinion can bring you grief and misery, and even shorten your life. This often is the unintended actual result for human institutions such as the church or the ulema, which begin with benevolent purposes and then collapse into epimethean observation and informant-behavior.

THE Noted Sufi teacher of legendary old Squawbunion County, in south-central Minnesota, Naml al-Haddad, is supposed to have said in this connection, and to a neighbor farmer sometime in the latter half of the 20th century:

“WATCH Your own ass!”

THE Phrase is an interesting variation on the contemporary cautionary phrase in the Moroccan dialect of Arabic: shef rasek, or “watch yer head!”

[Emmett R Smith

[all transcription-rights reserved

[14 August 2007]

Wednesday, 15 August 2007


A fierce argument has been raging around the Burrow dinner table over whether Angela Kelly, the Scottish postal worker who has won £35.4 million in a EuroMillions lottery draw, will really be better off because of this in the long run, and also about how the various Burrow inmates would spend it.

Ben Trovato thinks such a huge jackpot is wasted on someone who probably hasn’t the imagination to use it sensibly, or the common sense to sniff out all the sharks and shysters who will be tumbling over themselves to relieve her of it since she has been foolish enough to identify herself. If Ben had won it, he wouldn’t tell anyone and would endow a Chair at an ancient university for the Trovato Professorship of Bawdy Bardery.

The Beadle thought Mrs Kelly would turn out to be extremely fortunate if in the first instance she used the money to find herself a suitable husband to help her spend the rest of it. If approached, he would be willing to put himself forward as a candidate. He would then set himself up as Principal of the Bumble School of Beadleship, and was sure his new wife would not refuse pupils who asked for more.

Mrs Malaprop thought Mrs K had been foolish to advertise her new wealth. If she herself had been the winner, she would have invested it in Anticant Enterprises and established a chain of Burrows throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom.

Wooffie opened one eye and said “Buy Aspreys”. He then went back to sleep.

Anticant felt concern for Mrs Kelly, and hoped she wouldn’t get taken for a ride by Zola or the Beadle or anyone else. He felt it was quite wrong – indeed, obscene – that such vast sums should be handed out and thought there should be a jackpot upper ceiling of £½million, which was quite enough for anyone even in these inflationary times. If he was such a winner, he would use the money to promote friendship, goodwill and constructive co-operation between people all over the world. Vis-vis Mrs Malaprop’s proposal, he did not fancy turning the Burrow into a replica of McDonald’s, thanks all the same.

What do the Snug crowd think?

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


The agency notice said: “Housekeeper required by three eccentric gentlemen running ancient hostelry in Northern beauty spot. Select clientele. Robust English cooking – no fancy foreign cuisines! Immaculate references required.”

At first sight, I doubted whether the position would suit me. Accustomed as I am to serving the gentry, and in a few instances the aristocracy, the vision of being marooned with three quirky characters in the middle of nowhere, expected to do heaven knows what, was unappealing.

However, I decided to take a chance and journeyed to the Burrow, where I was welcomed by Master Ben Trovato, a jaunty young man who proudly showed me his cherished Snug Bar which he said was the focal point of the establishment, and - more hesitantly – by the smartly uniformed, sonorous Beadle, who gave me to understand that he ruled the roost at Anticant’s behest. “Not in my kitchen you don’t”, I muttered to myself.

I was then ushered into the presence of Anticant – a benign elderly cove clad in a flowery quilted dressing-gown and a smoking cap [although he doesn’t smoke], and surrounded by piles of books and several marmalade cats. At his feet reclined the biggest St. Bernard dog I have ever seen, its neck encircled not only by a collar bearing a brandy barrel but also by a rope of pearls. “This is Wooffie”, said Anticant. “He carries out numerous missions of mercy both in the snow and on other occasions, and must be kept well fed daily with prime rump steak.” “As long as it’s not MY prime rump…” I reflected.

Having satisfied Anticant and Ben as to the genuineness of my references, I was given a tour of the Burrow and decided that it was a charming old place although in need of some renovation, especially in the great kitchen, where there is an open spit fire and an ancient cast-iron range dating back to the days of good Queen Victoria. However, as there was more modern equipment in the smaller kitchen, I decided that I would give the post a month’s trial.

I have now been here three days, and so far, so good. But, just as a precaution, I have pinned up the following notice:


By Order”

Friday, 10 August 2007


The Burrow Beadle writes:

Alas, Anticant has been too poorly to take advantage of the garden during this welcome spell of sunshine, but hopes to be convalescent soon. Meanwhile, he's on a liquid [non-alcoholic] diet and Ben and I periodically mop his fevered brow.

The Snug is spruce and welcoming as usual, so gossipy visits from regulars and other friends will help to cheer Anticant up.


By Order

Monday, 6 August 2007


Having struggled for years as a modestly paid therapist, Anticant has read today's Times and seen the light.

He is about to launch the BURROW GENEROSITY THERAPY INSTITUTE for the successful treatment of miserly scrooges. Hopefully the Burrow's cashflow problems will be solved for ever......

Friday, 3 August 2007


"The rich complain that the poor want something for nothing. The rich will do anything to get everything."