Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Caliban Farage

And so today Steve Bell has Nigel Farage (and his Horseless Carriage) quoting Caliban from the Tempest while drowning Cameron in a duck pond:-
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
(The Tempest Act III, Sc ii).

Just thought it worth a mention. It is quite funny.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Araucaria last Saturday

A lovely warm article in last Saturday's Guardian.  Prompted, of course, by the news that he has terminal cancer - and how he shared that news. Well worth a read.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Poem of the Week

Five Years
David Bowie

Pushing thru the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying
I heard telephones, opera house, favourite melodies
I saw boys, toys electric irons and T.V.'s
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I'd need so many people

A girl my age went off her head, hit some tiny children
If the black hadn't a-pulled her off, I think she would have killed them
A soldier with a broken arm, fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac
A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest, and a queer threw up at the sight of that

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour, drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don't think you knew you were in this song
And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk

We've got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
We've got five years, what a surprise
Five years, stuck on my eyes
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
We've got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
We've got five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, stuck on my eyes
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
Five years
Five years
Five years
Five years

Sunday, 20 January 2013


Glorious Tramp crossword on Friday, full of FAB references.  I thought it had been written tin response to the death of Gerry Anderson, but this is what Tramp says on Fifteensquared:-

I wrote this puzzle in December completely unaware that Gerry Anderson was dying. I finished the puzzle a few weeks before Christmas and was going to let it simmer for a few months before asking Lato would he be so kind to test solve and give me his comments. After doing a bit of research on Wikipedia, I realised that Thuderbirds will be 50 years old in 2014 so I thought it could get published then. Anyway, I found out that Gerry Anderson had passed away over the Christmas break and so sent the puzzle for checking and text Hugh to see if he could use the puzzle quite soon, which he agreed to.

I got the SCOTT PARKER idea ages ago and decided to keep it back for a future Thunderbirds puzzle. My original idea was to somehow put OWL+TIT+TH, or something similar (TH under “birds”), in a column of unchecked letters and then to define Thunderbirds as “show in fifth column?” or something. I spent ages trying to get this to work but had to give up as few, if any, Guardian grids have eight unchecked cells in a column. When I looked up Gerry Anderson on Wikipedia, I spotted SUPERMARIONATION and thought that might be a better idea. I managed to shoehorn in the pilots Alan, Gordon, Virgil, John, Scott; Brains and Parker and I also got in Scarlet (as in Capt) and Fireball (as in XL5). I tried for ages to get Joe 90 in but it was beyond my ability.

This contained some marvellous clues (IBIS at 7d for example and BRASSICA at 25a).

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Snowy Nunhead

Two mornings ago...

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Poem of the Week

The Old Vicarage, Grantchester
Rupert Brooke
(Café des Westens, Berlin, May 1912)

Just now the lilac is in bloom,
All before my little room;
And in my flower-beds, I think,
Smile the carnation and the pink;
And down the borders, well I know,
The poppy and the pansy blow. . .
Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through,
Beside the river make for you
A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep
Deeply above; and green and deep
The stream mysterious glides beneath,
Green as a dream and deep as death.
— Oh, damn! I know it! and I know
How the May fields all golden show,
And when the day is young and sweet,
Gild gloriously the bare feet
That run to bathe. . .Du lieber Gott!

Here am I, sweating, sick, and hot,
And there the shadowed waters fresh
Lean up to embrace the naked flesh.
Temperamentvoll German Jews
Drink beer around; — and there the dews
Are soft beneath a morn of gold.
Here tulips bloom as they are told;
Unkempt about those hedges blows
An English unofficial rose;
And there the unregulated sun
Slopes down to rest when day is done,
And wakes a vague unpunctual star,
A slippered Hesper; and there are
Meads towards Haslingfield and Coton
Where das Betreten’s not verboten.
eithe genoimen . . . would I were
In Grantchester, in Grantchester! —
Some, it may be, can get in touch
With Nature there, or Earth, or such.
And clever modern men have seen
A Faun a-peeping through the green,
And felt the Classics were not dead,
To glimpse a Naiad’s reedy head,
Or hear the Goat-foot piping low: . . .
But these are things I do not know.
I only know that you may lie
Day long and watch the Cambridge sky,
And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass,
Hear the cool lapse of hours pass,
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester. . .
Still in the dawnlit waters cool
His ghostly Lordship swims his pool,
And tries the strokes, essays the tricks,
Long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx.
Dan Chaucer hears his river still
Chatter beneath a phantom mill.
Tennyson notes, with studious eye,
How Cambridge waters hurry by . . .
And in that garden, black and white,
Creep whispers through the grass all night;
And spectral dance, before the dawn,
A hundred Vicars down the lawn;
Curates, long dust, will come and go
On lissom, clerical, printless toe;
And oft between the boughs is seen
The sly shade of a Rural Dean . . .
Till, at a shiver in the skies,
Vanishing with Satanic cries,
The prim ecclesiastic rout
Leaves but a startled sleeper-out,
Grey heavens, the first bird’s drowsy calls,
The falling house that never falls.

God! I will pack, and take a train,
And get me to England once again!
For England’s the one land, I know,
Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;
And Cambridgeshire, of all England,
The shire for Men who Understand;
And of that district I prefer
The lovely hamlet Grantchester.
For Cambridge people rarely smile,
Being urban, squat, and packed with guile;
And Royston men in the far South
Are black and fierce and strange of mouth;
At Over they fling oaths at one,
And worse than oaths at Trumpington,
And Ditton girls are mean and dirty,
And there’s none in Harston under thirty,
And folks in Shelford and those parts
Have twisted lips and twisted hearts,
And Barton men make Cockney rhymes,
And Coton’s full of nameless crimes,
And things are done you’d not believe
At Madingley on Christmas Eve.
Strong men have run for miles and miles,
When one from Cherry Hinton smiles;
Strong men have blanched, and shot their wives,
Rather than send them to St Ives;
Strong men have cried like babes, bydam,
To hear what happened at Babraham.
But Grantchester! ah, Grantchester!
There’s peace and holy quiet there,
Great clouds along pacific skies,
And men and women with straight eyes,
Lithe children lovelier than a dream,
A bosky wood, a slumbrous stream,
And little kindly winds that creep
Round twilight corners, half asleep.
In Grantchester their skins are white;
They bathe by day, they bathe by night;
The women there do all they ought;
The men observe the Rules of Thought.
They love the Good; they worship Truth;
They laugh uproariously in youth;
(And when they get to feeling old,
They up and shoot themselves, I’m told) . . .

Ah God! to see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester!
To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
Unforgettable, unforgotten
River-smell, and hear the breeze
Sobbing in the little trees.
Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,
The yet unacademic stream?
Is dawn a secret shy and cold
Anadyomene, silver-gold?
And sunset still a golden sea
From Haslingfield to Madingley?
And after, ere the night is born,
Do hares come out about the corn?
Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill, under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty? and Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Oh Araucaria

Arucaria has 18 down of the 19, which is being treated with 13,15.  This puzzle was first published in the December edition of the magazine 1 Across (c) and is repeated here by kind permission.


That was the preamble to yesterday's Araucaria Cryptic in the Guardian.

18 down was a write in:- 'Cancer'.

Here is how much I managed over all (not quite all of it, as you can see).
This was so hard to do - not because the clues were extra hard - although I failed to get two solutions.  But because of the theme.

I've posted about the estimable John Graham before, of course, a number of times.  But even for this extraordinary setter, this was an extraordinary crossword (as Tramp said on the Fifteensquared discussions of this puzzle).  To use his own terminal disease as the theme was typical of him, I guess - but even so substantially disconcerting (to say the very last).  It made the National News (the 'Today' program this morning, Guardian front page) and there are, unsurprisingly, letters in today's Guardian (and lots of comments on the Web site).  According to one of the other posts on Fifteensquared he is likely to be around (and puzzling) for a while yet, which does seem good news.

I can remember (I think) the first Araucarian clue I ever solved - "Begin Description of a Dining Room", (8) (*) - in the library at school when I was new sixth-former.  I've been attempting to match the man ever since (and usually struggling).

More than most setters, there always seems to be a playful, emotional heart to many of his puzzles - they are sheer fun, pleasurable, frustrating and satisfying by turns but  rarely merely mechanical tests.

This was no exception and there are many fine clues scattered around it (see 7D and 27A).  But I have never felt so sad when doing a crossword as I did with this one yesterday.

(*) - Initiate.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Doctor Crossword 2013

Not only does November 2013 mark the 60th Anniversary of the first Dr Who, but this year it is 100 years since the first crossword.  See Paul's Web site for more info...

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Poem of the Week

Is That All There Is?
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I'll never forget the look on my father's face as he gathered me up
In his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement.
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a fire?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to the circus, the greatest show on earth.
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And as I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don't know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a circus?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Then I fell in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other's eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day, he went away. And I thought I'd die -- but I didn't.
And when I didn't I said to myself, "Is that all there is to love?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing

I know what you must be saying to yourselves.
If that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?
Oh, no. Not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment.
For I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you,
When that final moment comes and I'm breathing my lst breath, I'll be saying to myself,

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Suggs' Inheritances

Suggs Inheritance Tracks on the usual execrable Saturday morning programme on Radio4.  His choices were nearly as good as Alexei Sayles's.  Miles Davis 'Sketches of Spain' and Leiber and Stoller's 'Is That All There Is?' sung by Peggy Lee.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Bell Review

I know we are meant to do a review of the year here at TANH, but first, here is Steve Bell's.