Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cocktail sticks - a social history

punchline

What can one make of the simple cocktail stick?
A sliver of wood, with a sharp point at each end, it can, surely, only have been invented by someone interested in making it into the Guinness Book of Records for the longest splinter on record.
Rumour has it, though, that it first made its appearance in New York around the time cocktails were invented: possible the roaring Twenties, or the wheezing Thirties, maybe even earlier, in the tubercular Teenies. Famously used for the ubiquitous maraschino cherry, it was seen as something to twirl coquettishly while twinkling over your Harvey Wallbanger, or whatever.
Now more commonly used for the humble pickled onion, its star has somehow waned one suspects. The pickled onion has plenty to commend it - notably the sharp vinegar tang, and the first crunch when you bite into it - but it's hardly as sophisticated as an exotic cocktail.
Other environments in which the cocktail stick has been spotted include:
1 Stuck in little sausages, or pineapple and cheese at parties
2 Stuck in Oranges, with small sweets skewered upon them, at church Christingle services around Christmas time
3 Er, that's about it
Possible future uses could include:
1 Involved in a cut-price bed of nails for hard-up circus performers
2 For a kind of mini Jack straws game
3 As toothpicks for the risk-takers among us
A&E departments around the world probably all have tales of casualties admitted with a part or whole cocktail stick jiggling merrily in the internals somewhere, and they're certainly sharp enough to qualify as javelins for any passing leprechauns.
More recent times have of course brought the plastic cocktail stick - multi-coloured but just as sharp.
If you have any printable experiences to relate involving cocktail sticks - do let me know.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Well, hello - glad you could wait

Clearly, one entry per year is not really in the true spirit of blogging. Blogging for the terminally lazy, perhaps, but not exactly a cutting edge series of daily (or at least weekly) observations, insights, ramblings or indeed shopping lists from the cutting edge of consciousness.
So, sorry if you've visited since last September and found nothing of note.
I can't, of course, guarantee that you won't continue to find nothing of note if you pop in regularly from now onwards.
But I am now intending to add to this a little more frequently, so there's a bit more chance you'll find something to read that prompts some kind of reaction.
Here are some possible subjects I may be exploring over the coming days. Or ignoring entirely.

1 Cheese and its place in the cosmos
2 Cocktail sticks: a social history
3 Why kangeroos cannot pass wind (it's true - I saw it on QI the other day)
4 Can you get a loan from a bottle bank?
5 Are cardboard clothes just an impossible dream?
6 Where exactly is Stoke Poges?
7 Kazoos and the jazz dynamic
8 Why carpets signal the end of civilisation as we know it
9 Nectar of the gods, and the stuff the gods rejected
10 A celebration of celery

Currently I'm working on a set of short songs that could form an interchangeable collage of musical ho-hum - random thoughts, lyrics and snatches of stupidity with vaguely singable tunes. The idea is that a set of, say, a dozen songs will take no more than 15 minutes, and be constantly evolving so that any one short song could have up to six different arrangements.

The thinking behind this is:

1 Short songs can be finished quicker
2 Many songs outstay their welcome. Or at least indulge in pointless repetition.
3 It's harder to get bored with a singer when they're only on for a brief spell
5 I find it harder to sustain intelligent lyrics over normal length songs

The whole thing is shaping up to be either an extremely interesting journey, or possible a sudden, shuddering disaster.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Alf's flyswatting


Alf was not about to surrender his European FlySwatting Championship title lightly ...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Martin's strange dream


This is a dream allegedly experienced recently by my friend Martin. We've told him to lay off the cheese, but will he listen? Anyhow, if this rings any bells with you, or you are a missing cabaret singer, write your thoughts down on a fresh mango and send it to My Dreams Are Bonkers, 37 Squashbunty Terrace, Chipping Manfully, Bucks.

Oh, and if your name is Mrs Katy Burns, it's not you, love, honest. He swears he's never met you. Or the newt.


"Mrs Katy Burns, pool cleaner at a local hotel, is missing after an incident with a Kissing Newt. She is believed to be suffering from a severe case of Kissing Newt Syndrome.

Police warn that Mrs Burns is likely to be dangerous and should not be approached by any member of the public who might see her. A police spokesperson advised that anyone who does see Mrs Burns should contact the local Newt Removal Officer who will attend the scene and remove Mrs Burns to a safe place where she will be destroyed by a controlled explosion.

It is also feared that a cabaret singer, who was due to be performing The Ballad of The Kissing Newt at the same hotel, may be similarly affected and is also missing. Of course, they could have just run off together and have created the myth of the Kissing Newt as a cover, but I don’t think so.

Anyway, the hotel pool is a filthy mess and has had to be closed, so there."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

One man went to mow

One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow. One man and his dog, went to mow a meadow. Now, I don't know about you, but I'd query the value of the dog. It would tend to scurry about, getting in the way and not generally being much use in the mowing department. Unless, of course, it was a trained mower and was able to give the man a break from time to time. It could, at a stretch, be a highly skilled mower and thus render the man's presence pretty irrelevant. Maybe the dog had poor eyesight and so needed the man to take him to the meadow, get him sorted with the mower and turn him round at each end. Sort of a guide dog, in reverse.
Then again, maybe he was just there because of the song. But you don't get too many popular songs or nursery rhymes with an entirely gratuitous animal planted in it, just to make it scan, but of no relevance to the action. Hickory Dickory Dock, for instance, has the mouse in a fairly central role. Running UP the clock before, of course, running DOWN again following the striking of the hour. Hardly peripheral.
Three Blind Mice, again, features the rodents in a strongly central role - admittedly sharing some of the limelight with the farmer's wife - but clearly not stuck in on a whim as merely hapless victims of the knife-wielding maniac with a disturbing hobby of collecting mouse tails. Mind you, you are tempted to wonder exactly why the mice are blind, and what this adds to the scenario. "Three blind mice - see how they run". With extreme care, one would presume, with a fair bit of bonking straight into bits of furniture. And was the farmer's wife performing her tail removal in a carefully planned operation, rodents in hand, or wildly slashing at them as they scampered past. In which case a meat cleaver might have achieved more, you'd have thought.
One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow. One man and his mouse, went to mow a meadow. Now there's a idea to conjure with.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Are you SURE you turned the gas off?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Confessions from the chess board


"I gargle with brake fluid," confided Molotov