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Topics - Gyppo

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The Bar & Grill / Weird effect. I can imagine this as a book cover.
« on: May 11, 2021, 10:18:07 PM »
Morning sun barely peeping over the fence.  Thin red curtains.  Tomato plants on window sill silhouetted against the fabric looking like some kind of mutant trees.

I can imagine this as the cover for some apocalyptic tale.

Left click to enlarge.


Word Play / Must be getting old...
« on: May 03, 2021, 12:16:24 PM »
They say you know you're getting old when policemen start looking younger.  But what about nurses?

Mum spent quite a lot of time in and out of the eye unit in the last ten years of her life, and I noticed that most of the nurses there were small, not much more than five feet in height and correspondingly built.  When I mentioned this one of them rather triumphantly told me she was the shortest, at only four foot ten.

She said several of them 'gravitated' to the eye unit, as places became available, because it was a place where they rarely had to physically lift patients around, unlike the more general wards.  Which makes perfect sense.  (The right tool for the job.)

But none of them looked particularly child-like.  Just small, bordering on tiny.

So why did the nurse who gave me my second Covid jab on Friday look like a schoolkid on work experience?   A 'ragged urchin' bob, a straight up and down body, and tiny little trainer shod feet.

She had nurse's eyes though, calm and patient.

She was a dab-hand with the needle, as close to painless as these things ever get.  Seemed delighted when I told her this.

There's whole generation of nurses out there who are gaining 'total immersion' experience with the syringe.  Could be useful when I get really old. ;-)


The Bar & Grill / May Day Greetings
« on: May 01, 2021, 09:08:51 AM »
    May Day greetings to you all.               

    Ritual has been observed.  Home and life blessed for the coming year.

    The Padstow Song has been played , and the lumbering old man has danced the appropriate steps to get Summer off to a good start.   The inner 'Cunning Man' perked up his head, nodded approval, and then let me get on with my breakfast.

     Left click to enlarge image. 

    "Blessed be."                       

The Bar & Grill / Ambiguity at its finest.
« on: April 18, 2021, 08:43:55 PM »
Look at this, taken from a local advert.  Tell me if you can see the problem.  It's not spelling, punctuation, or grammar.

I know what they think they're saying...

The experienced upholsterers provide dependable repairs, with all work finished to a professional standard. They won't finish a task until you are pleased with the results.


It reminds me of when we had a world class speedway rider living just down the road.  A nice man to meet, off the track.  On his fan site they boosted up his world status and then said, 'Since becoming the team captain he has never failed to disappoint his fans'.


The Bar & Grill / A Proper Job
« on: April 05, 2021, 06:58:59 AM »
Proper Job

One of these days some enterprising soul is going to start advertising in writing magazines and other places where writers hang out ;-)


High Quality applicants sought now.  Worldwide opportunities.

Ever thought about becoming a plumber, or welder, or baker, or even a housewife?

Get a regular income, regular hours, no self-employed tax hassles or excessive paperwork.

Earn thousands without any previous experience.

If you can pick up a simple tool you can work.

No more wrestling with predatory editors, publishers, and half-baked ideas which are going nowhere fast.

Then get a Proper Job.

Every week thousands of impoverished writers join Proper Jobs, both on-line and locally, and learn the simple skills needed to break free from the drudgery of the unforgiving page and the relentless word count.

Join Proper Jobs.

Take off your jacket, or your skanky all-day dressing gown, or that vile purple-striped so-called leisure suit.  Roll up your sleeves and show our team of hand-picked assessors what you can do,  Don't tell, show!

One simple joining fee, a few short weeks of intensive labour, and you can throw away your word processor.  Never Look Back.

Write. phone, or Email today.  Limited places available.

Get a Proper Job.


The Bar & Grill / For those wo recall the 'good old days' at MWC...
« on: April 03, 2021, 01:05:04 PM »
One of the benefits of the near computer disaster a few weeks ago is that when I ran the backups I found things I'd almost forgotten.  Some of it wouldn't be a great loss, but some is fun to remember.

If you're an old hand with time to kill...  A look back at the LSS Roma  Literary Loony Ship


          For what is - somewhat to my surprise - my 2000th post to this newsgroup I thought I'd do something to mark the occasion.  This evening - for one evening only and despite the fact I may not even be there in person - I have stuck enough money behind the counter at the MWC Bar for everyone who wishes to have a virtual drink.

          This uncustomary largesse is a strictly limited opportunity, so make the most of it.

          (Why not drop in and see what some of the other members look like with their guard down... See the mighty moderators letting their hair down...

          Cathy dancing on the bar in her green hat ;-)

          Carrie sleeping under the pool table with her arms affectionately clasped around a small cask of Brandy.

          But that's a mere trifle, just the late evening/early morning entertainment.

          Right now I'm really (literally) pushing the boat out

          Today, despite the weather - and at any time during the next 24 hours due to the vagaries of time zones and whenever you happen to log-on - Gyppo Enterprises will be offering trips around the bay on the LLS (Literary Loony Ship) Roma.  Whether this be the Bay of Biscay, Stokes Bay, Robin Hood's Bay near Scarborough, or even the Bay of Pigs is still uncertain.  The only certainty is that it will not be E-Bay, although plunder from the cruise may almost certainly appear there later.

          Our sturdy vessel will be sploshing her way around the coast, occasionally sailing well inland to pick up passengers where flooding permits.  So pack up your troubles, grab your Laptop, pen and paper, and oilskins, and come aboard.

          Those of you who feel skinning 'some poor innocent little oil' is somehow unkind are probably of the younger generation and don't have a bloody clue what I'm talking about.  So you can just bring your 'breathable' Goretex and Kevlar wet gear from Paramo or whoever and hope it doesn't suffocate.

          The LLS Roma was originally a three masted ship, but now only has two since the predictably named 'mizzen' went missin' whilst tied up alongside in Gosport for an ill-advised overnight stop.  No doubt one of the denizens (sorry, citizens') is, even as you read this, painting it white and stringing it with coloured lights in a pathetic attempt to emulate the lofty and elegant Spinnaker Tower a few hundred yards away across the mighty 'ravel of waters' which serves as a vital 'no go' zone between them and neighbouring Portsmouth.

          In honour of the occasion 'Jolly Roger' will be flapping wildly in the wind at the top of the mainmast.  No, not the skull and crossbones flag of that name, but a genuine screaming and terrified person of the same name.

          Roger is the normally unflappable and generally competent Bosun of the LLS Roma, but, having imbibed to excess of Woods Navy Rum last night during a sudden fit of dread at playing host to so many 'literary types', he has now gone up in the world.  (And he can damned well stay up there until he sobers up enough to once more be a useful member of the ship's company.)

          Speaking of the Ship's Company (Gyppo Enterprises Unlimited) employees of the said business will wander amongst the passengers selling various trinkets such as hand-carved wooden clothespegs, sprigs of Lucky Heather (named after a girl called Heather who had the foresight to say 'No!' to Gyppo many years ago), autographed e-books on CD, and life jackets.  Not that there is any need for the latter, as the world famous 'Fiona's Cat' has volunteered to act as Forward Lookout and ensure we don't hit anything more solid than sparkling sea spray and the Will o' The Wisp threads of crazy dreams and Wishful Thinking.

          Before we depart step briefly into the Captain's Cabin and gaze in wonder and awe at the magnificent hand-drawn charts which have been unrolled and consulted...

          The Channel of Inspiration beckons, sailing between the threatening Vortex of Verbosity, and the black rocks of Stark Reportage.  Around the edges of 'Ye Knowne Worde' are artistic imaginings and warnings doodled by laudanum crazed cartographers filling in time between inking a scant few useful lines and time to go home.  For the brave crew about to depart on what future historians may well document as Gullibles Travails these warnings may mean something...

          'Here Be Meta-Phores!'

          'The Dark 'C' of Spellinge!'

          'Ye Straits of Grammar!"

          "Ye Straights of Dire!"

          "The Depths of Dissatisfaction!"

          "Ye (Northwest) Purple Passage!"

          "The Long Lost Podes."

          "The Kraken of Kharacter Kreation!"

          "The Eddies of Editing!"

          "The Abyss of Adverbial Additions!"

          "Ye Stagant Pool of Past Participles."

          The LLS Roma is due to sail shortly, but there is one small item of kit still lacking.  On these occasions it is traditional to fly a pennant from the foremast, but as the LLS Roma has such strong linguistic and lexicographic connections something just a little bit more special than a mere pennant is called for.
          Yes, we need a Pedant.  A robust red-handed creativity-stifling Pedant, firmly nailed to the masthead to complete the package.

          Any volunteers?


I suspect most of the regular poets will be congregating at The Tangled Branch - which sounds like a cosy little hostelry with a fig tree weaving its convoluted way around the entrance.  But if you want to give them a second outing, or if you feel a bit shy, then shove them in this thread here.

I'll kick it off for you.



Hidden deep in the frozen earth,
waiting out the harsh winter months,
as enzymic triggers cock,
ready to fire as the snow  melts.
Peeping warily, growing tall, green,
then paling in the sunlight.

Cut down by monstrous machines,
beaten with mechanical flails,
divided into useful components.

The seeds take a long sea voyage,
arriving in the English Cotswold's.
Crushed between steel rollers,
bagged and labelled,
'Canadian Classic Wholemeal'.

A road trip brings it to my home,
where it's mixed with casual expertise,
ancient and beneficial processes,
almost magical in effect,
taking place under the brown skin.
Baked according to my rules and wishes,
It now sits in my kitchen.
Three days' worth of wholemeal loaf.
So far from its Canadian roots.


How does writing thirty poems in thirty days work?  It's an odd event and having taken part a few times over the last several years I may have some useful advice for newcomers.  Some of this will be contradictory, so feel free to choose what works for you, or at least looks promising, and ignore the rest.

If you thrive on pressure then it's going to be a great stimulus.  But...

If you hate being under pressure then look at it this way.  Nobody says you have to write thirty perfectly crafted poems in the month.  Allow yourself to write some also-ran stuff, and the occasional real stinker.  But don't judge them until they're finished.

One of the main reasons for anything being unfinished is that people start picking holes in their own work before they have the whole fabric to look at. 

One of the greatest things about tackling 30/30 is this simple fact. It's impossible to write thirty bad poems in a row.  Even if you deliberately try.   The law of averages is on your side ;-)

Ask yourself what usually triggers your personal urge to write a poem.  Is it an image, an overheard comment, or just a stray thought which calls you to wrap it in words?

What is a poem?  We could argue about this forever.  This argument provides another excuse for not writing.  So for April how about just telling yourself that a poem is anything you want to call a poem.

I normally write prose, so for me a poem tends to be an image or an emotion captured in a few lines.  Rarely more than a screen full of short lines.  I tend towards what are called concrete images, descriptions based on very real objects.  Vague intangibles don't usually work for me.

But isn't the readers interpretation more important than what you write?  Yes and no.  Sometimes readers will find things in your words which you never imagined.  Sometimes the reader is a sick puppy ;-)  Now there's an idea for a poem, the feelings of the owner of an ill pup.

Returning to what works for you.

There are folks who join in every year, and generally speaking they have a personal style in that they tend to write either rhyming or non-rhyming verse.  They tend to write short or long, succinct or meandering. 

But...  Ideas come from all over the place and some ideas don't suit that poet's predominant style.  This is probably where some drop out.

Others will struggle to make it fit their style and then decide to try something different.  Same idea but expressed outside their usual comfort zone.  They'll pack that big idea into four short lines, or let it run wild like a weed and sprawl over several screens of text.  At the end of the day they may not like it, but the first draft will be complete3dfinished.


30/30 is about getting a first draft completed.  People often go back weeks later and rewrite some of their outpourings.  It's much easier to rewrite than it is to fill a blank page.


The Bar & Grill / Recreational pedantry: Uncomfortably true.
« on: March 27, 2021, 12:06:46 AM »
Left click to enlarge

The Bar & Grill / Happy Spring Equinox
« on: March 20, 2021, 11:52:53 AM »
On this date - theoretically at least - the day and night are the same length. 


As life gets quieter....

Bright sunshine,
bungalow windows flung open
in a surge of Spring enthusiasm,
An uninhibited old rogue,
belting out Wild Rover.

But what's happening?
Underlay and fitted carpet,
on a poured concrete floor.
Comfortable enough to be sure,
muffle the gleeful staccato rap
of the stamped chorus.

The wooden boards of the caravan floor,
or the thin lino in the house
used to echo my joie de vivre.

In retirement my life is quieter.
Guess I'll just have to sing louder.


The Bar & Grill / A smile from the archives.
« on: March 19, 2021, 09:37:40 PM »
There are certain problems in life which only a writer can face, understand, and then solve.  For example...

I spent nearly twenty minutes sat here trying to take my hat off, nearly breaking my neck in the process.  Then I realised I'd inadvertently hit the [Caps Lock] key.

A while back my lady was having trouble getting undressed for bed until we realised her [Shift Lock] was down.

And she was bitterly disappointed to realise that leaning over my shoulder and pressing the [Insert] key didn't immediately make her the centre of attention rather than what I was writing.

[Home] doesn't teleport unwanted guests back to their own residence.  (If only...)

[Alt], rather fortunately, doesn't realign your gender by 180 degrees.

[Ctrl], disappointingly,  is nowhere near as powerful as the name suggests.

[Page Up] and [Page Down] may serve some useful function in a Royal setting, but I wouldn't know.

[Pause] will sometimes cause a dyslexic cat to appear and start mauling at your keyboard.

The various arrow keys will not, under normal circumstances, turn you into a target for some crazed toxophilite.

As for the 'f' keys, they're a law unto themselves and shouldn't be mentioned in polite society.


The Bar & Grill / Just thinking...
« on: March 18, 2021, 10:09:45 PM »
...if breathing wasn't an autonomous reflex, I suspect most creative types would die young whilst deeply preoccupied ;-)


The Bar & Grill / Buggered - UPDATE
« on: March 16, 2021, 07:01:53 AM »
Currently in computer limbo.

Limping along with a rather tenuous laptop connection as my main workhorse is dead.  My son-in-law tried to fix it last night but the recovery software was taking ages to download.

Partway though his fire and rescue service pager went off.

As far as I, the luddite, can work out the download finished at about midnight with a message it had been 'unable to create the recovery software'.

After this it decided it needed to update Windows, with lots of 'please wait' messages, and then nearly every bloody programme on there as well because they were all several versions behind. rhe latest ones.

Fortunately my 'tame geek' has already volunteered to came back today and sort it all out.  This time bringing his own set of recovery tools.

More later folks, when all is back in order.


The Bar & Grill / One from the archives. Mixed genres ;-) May amuse.
« on: March 12, 2021, 11:54:10 PM »
Storytelling for kids is great, but I can't resist playing with the thought of Joe, our resident horror maestro, telling a story and getting just a little bit carried away...  (Please forgive me, Joe.)


Early one fine spring morning Pedro the rabbit was hopping merrily along through the woods.

Hop.  Hop.  Hop.  And loads more hops, but you get the picture.

All the little birds were singing.  Unfortunately they were all singing different songs so it sounded bloody awful.

'If only my friend Harry The Hawk was here' Pedro thought sadly.  'He'd soon shut them up.'

The reason Pedro was so grumpy was he'd spent the night doing Tequila Slammers with Doris the Doe, but despite her reputation as the easiest bit of tail - albeit a short fluffy one - in the forest he'd failed to score.

Suddenly the ground gave way underneath his big hoppy feet and he tumbled into a deep pit.

"Well, bless my little semi-spherical dangly bits."  Pedro sighed gently and stamped his foot - No, little girl in the front row with her hand up, I don't know which one and it doesn't really matter anyway you junior pedant - and tried to jump out of the trap, but it was no good.

At this point children I just know one of you soul-dead little logic monsters is bursting to remind me that rabbits can dig, and all Pedro needs to do is dig a sloping tunnel up through the side of the pit.  But Pedro isn't like other rabbits.  He's thick.  He's even denser than depleted uranium.  You won't know about depleted uranium yet, but don't worry it'll outlast you by several thousand years so you have a whole lifetime to learn about it.

Pedro is a story rabbit.  Even more to the point he's my story rabbit so he can only do what I want him to do.

At this point, all the birds finally start singing the same song.  Just like all those pathetic little mice in countless Disney movies.

"Why was he born so beautiful, and so unbelievably thick?
 He's stuck in a hole and he's gonna to die,
 let's hope it's not too quick."

What did you expect, sympathy?  Sympathy for a rabbit who is friends with a hawk?  Come on, use your imagination.

Suddenly a looming great shadow filled the pit and Pedro looked up.

"Oh!  Hello Mister Flesh Eating Zombie.  Could you give me a hand?"

"ooaauug" replied the Zombie, because as a species they're not renowned for their articulacy. No, geeky little boy at the back with glasses which make it look as if you have a bicycle perched on your dripping nose, articulacy doesn't mean he knows how to drive a large lorry.  Look it up!  But not until after I've finished.

The zombie rummaged in his lunch box and threw down a hand he hadn't finished earlier.

"Yukkkkkeeee" murmured Pedro, who hadn't allowed for that possibility.  But, in a flash of totally unexpected brilliance he hopped onto the hand, which was a 'big hand', like the one you're all going to give me when I finish shortly, and using the extra height and springiness managed to escape from the pit in a short burst of terror induced energy.

The trouble with fear induced energy, children, and please pay attention because this could happen to you one day, is Pedro jumped right out of his skin, which lay there at the bottom of the pit like a stuffed toy without any stuffing.  Very sad, but let's not dwell on the dark side of the tale.

"ooaauug!" shouted the Zombie, absolutely disgusted by the sight of a naked rabbit hopping frantically down the road.  There are some things that can make even a Zombie feel sick.

But Harry The Hawk, who was only Pedro's friend because he couldn't stand the feel of fur in his mouth -  which is rather like chewing a fleece jacket - swooped down from on high, and carried the stunned Pedro off to his nest where Mrs Hawk and their two greedy little hawks ripped him apart and thoroughly enjoyed their still-twitching meal.

The Zombie, still hungry and seeing a carrot Pedro had dropped in his panic, took a bite and had a few seconds to savour the unfamiliar and forbidden taste of vegetable juice before his head blew up, and scattered bone and grey brain tissue all over the place.

All the little birds, except for those who were near enough to get splattered and headed for the nearest bird bath to clean up, then burst into a joyous and unanimous song.

"Oh what a beautiful morning.
 Oh what a beautiful day.
 Harry The Hawk's full of Pedro,
 which means we can come out to play."

So, all's well that ends well, Kids.



The Bar & Grill / Feels like Spring.
« on: March 08, 2021, 11:17:10 AM »
Windows and front door open.  Back door still closed as soon as I pass through  because of garden rat(s).
But the old Polar Bear is tidying his lair.

Another stash of cardboard is going out, and the stack of 'dealt with' letters on my office shelves is being 'thinned out' and filed if necessary.  No point in having a shelf full of neatly organised correspondence folders if they're not being used.

A lot of stuff now goes out almost as soon as it arrives, and direct debits have reduced the flood of bills and reminders, but some firms still like to send a raft of advertising 'bumf' on a regular basis.  Some of this I like to look at, but it usually end up in the 'look at this later' stack.

All fun and games on a bright if still somewhat chilly day.  The water in the birdbath is still frozen, even if I'm wandering about with bare feet and a short-sleeved shirt ;-)

Back to work, cramming as much as possible into my recycling bin.

If I'm still in a spring cleaning mood after lunch I may get out the leaf-sucker and fill up the garden waste bin as well.  But that's definitely not guaranteed ;-)


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