December 2


It’s Thursday evening, and because I now have three days off work it’s the beginning of a long weekend and in my head it feels like a Friday evening. I’m not exactly sure what that means, except I know I have some notion of lots of space opening up in front of me within which I have nothing to do but read and, perhaps, write. Other things may happen, but nothing is planned beyond a trip to get some food and maybe a couple of rented movies. Actually, that’s not strictly true: I’m really really looking forward to going to see Hayden at The Maze on Sunday. Otherwise, I may not get out of my pyjamas very much unless Jez comes out of the woodwork and he turns his suggestion that we go for some kind of long walk into the countryside and towards a pub into a reality rather than simply an idea. But I have lots to read in the meantime.

I also find myself spending a lot of time thinking about what’s going on here at “E&D”, as I have come to shorthand it. If it’s a Blog, then that makes me a Blogger. And I have begun to investigate the world of the Blogger and realise I am not really one of those. Not really. “E&D” is turning more and more into a web-zine, but I still really like the spontaneity of the blog, and the freedom it gives me to do…… well, to do this:

I just went to Stride. Rupert Loydell has today put a very nice mention of my pamphlet “Coral” on his blog, which I urge you to read because it will make me feel good. But, more to the point, I then took a hop over to Stride Magazine to see if there was anything new there and Rupert has reviewed a bunch of American stuff, and it’s wonderful business. He reviews a selection of books, and here are some choice quotes from his review:

Dull work wrapped in a dreadfully designed cover.


Did he really have to travel to Greece to discover what wind does to doors? Come on!


At first I flicked through these short skinny poems, sometimes almost haiku, and thought 'oh no', but returning to the book, with encouragement from blurb writers Michael Palmer and Robert Creeley, I find a clarity and precision in the work.


Absolutely appalling. Let's move on.


Already we have rearranged/disrupted words, ideas of art, faith, books, language, forgiveness, business, myth... already I am intrigued and want to read on.


These poems may be rooted in experience, experiences which ring true, but they are used as stepping stones to something else: that something being poetry rather than stories told in broken lines.


Don't get me wrong, this is neither 'difficult' nor 'experimental' poetry, but it does track the thought process, the way we flick through channels and ideas in our head, how strong emotion such as loss and grief can scramble the transmission.


…. the lines can't possibly hold all the ideas and images in, so the reader is left to do plenty of work for themselves. This is a good thing.


The blurb on the back suggests that Dick is 'dedicated to an understanding of the internal tensions of the lyric voice and the human heart'. I think this hits the nail right on the head. All of this exploratory and inventive work ultimately becomes heartfelt music for the reader...... This is great stuff.


….. (this) work is rooted in the idea of a poet telling the reader something, with little interest in how it is said. It's clunky and portentous…


Personally, I look up from these pages out of boredom, and am reminded that time is too precious to waste on being generous to this kind of nonsense.


What is so good about this is that here is someone who knows what they are talking about and knows how to say it. Loydell also knows when to admit the first take is not the right take. Sometimes you have to (must) re-read. Sometimes you have to do some work yourself. And sometimes, dear Reader, you have to say that a Poet Laureate is rubbish. But you illustrate the Why. The PL is not rubbish just because they are on top of the pile, and you resent it. I urge you to read the full review, and find out some new poetry names, not all of which you will want to remember but some of which you will.

And my point is, if I recall, that blogging lets me do this: read something, & write something, and put it here within minutes of the event and the idea. It may not always be the best idea, but at least it’s honest. But no, I am not a real blogger, I think. So in the new year, which is not far away, I’m going to be looking at rebuilding all this and turning it into a website that will allow for magazine, blog, music, visual art….. I was talking to some people at work today and Kelly said she thought I was The Eternal Teenager. I said, No. I’m The Eternal Idiot.




Oh God, I wish I'd never clicked on this link......



December 5


I’m awake: Is it because I’m in love again
With a girl I could not have imagined
No it’s not that: I am not in love again
I have given up on the pursuit of pain
Especially at Christmas Time when
In addition to the pain one is expected to
Buy a present also So no: I am not awake
Because I am in love although I may be
Awake because I am not in love now
But probably I am awake because
I am hungry: If this was the old days
Now might be a good time to go out
To catch something (It’s dark and they
Might not see you coming or even expect
You to be out there) but were I to go out
Now all I would catch would be a disease
And I do not want to catch a disease so:
I go to the refrigerator hunting yoghurt:
But all the yoghurt is chilly and ill-
Humoured and it is as if to eat it would
Make me also chilly and ill-humoured
Which is a disease of sorts of the mind;
But how I hear you ask can yoghurt
Be ill-humoured and all I can say is
I know what I know but it doesn’t help



December 6


In the summer, a friend introduced me to Hayden’s LP “Skyscraper National Park”. I’d never heard of Hayden or the record, but it’s a good record. Hayden Desser is a Canadian singer-songwriter in the lo-fi alt-folk melancholy/miserable tradition. On the odd occasion a song might remind you of Harvest-era Neil Young, but I suspect 2 the reason Desser is sometimes compared to Young is the Canada thing rather than anything else. Mind you, having said that, a couple of tracks have the drum and guitar sound and harmonica that reminds you of nothing if not “Out On the Weekend”. Anyway, “Skyscraper National Park” is the kind of record I play when I want to hear The Red House Painters or Sun Kil Moon but just listened to them half an hour ago so need a change. Similarly, The Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon are who I play when I need a change from Hayden. (If I want really really miserable I go for Drunk, who have taken pissed-offedness to great new holes dug at the bottom of the deepest pit. Then they go down another layer.)

Anyway, Hayden bought out a new record a few months back: “Elk-Lake Serenade”. It got good reviews, and I had half a mind to buy it when it came out but somehow it slipped through the net. Sometimes I have to avoid record shops and buy food. But I was walking home a couple of weeks back and stopped off at the door to The Maze to check the listings, and Hayden was on the list of things coming up. So, I bought a ticket, and next day I bought the LP. I’m nothing if not thorough.

I asked Mr. Belbin if he wanted to go to the gig, but he checked the music out and declared it too miserable for him. I knew it would be; he doesn’t like Bright Eyes, either. But the other Dave, at work, is a big Red House Painters fan, and we agree that miserable music is tremendously uplifting even though we don’t want it all the time, and without even bothering to listen to the records he told me to get him a ticket. He has so much faith; when we talk about this musical melancholia we are always grinning like fools.

Hayden has one of those voices that is kind of low and occasionally cracked but still seems to have a pretty good reach. At times he goes for clarity, then he mumbles as if it’s all become too much. Sometimes he sounds like he’s had a few drinks, or just woken up. He sings about the usual things: lost love, car crashes, ghosts, and an ex-girlfriend being killed by a grizzly bear. The new record has some basic arrangements using only voice and acoustic guitar, but elsewhere it brings in (not all at the same time: he isn’t Mercury Rev) steel guitar, a string section, brass, a piano and, on the one track I’m really not sure about at all, what could even be a synthesizer. Guesting on the LP are Howie Beck, who I’ve heard of but never heard, and Julie Doiron on vocals, who I’ve not only heard of but actually have some tracks downloaded from somewhere, and she’s good. Mind you, her songs are not the cheeriest, either. (Aside: I think I may have to slam Kylie on in a minute, if only to stir the air a little.) Generally, Hayden records are pretty tuneful but low-key and, yes, melancholy. First Class Melancholy. I can understand why someone might not like it. But as I said, for me, miserable lifts up the heart, sort of.

Of course, it turns out that Hayden is not a miserabilist at all. Yes, the songs are not jolly anthems. But Hayden was funny, entertaining, a pleasure to be around, and it was a great show. It is, as I’m sure you know, easy to be funny if you’re introducing a song about intruders breaking into your house while you’re upstairs working on your music and you have the headphones on, and they end up murdering you. It is also funny to know that one of your songs, which is about your pet cat wandering off each Spring to have sex, has been played in branches of Starbucks, and someone has written in to Starbucks Head Office to complain because the song, to their ears, is obviously about the artist and his friends sitting in the back yard masturbating and you don’t need that kind of thing played while you’re having your coffee.

Hayden played solo, no band: guitar and harmonica, sometimes putting the guitar to one side and playing keyboard. On one song he replaced the trumpet on the record with “mouth trumpet”, because he said he couldn’t afford to bring a trumpeter over from Canada for just one song. He’s a class act, and reminded you how good one bloke and an acoustic guitar and quality songs can be. He encored with a couple of his own songs, then ended by offering the 1audience a choice of covers: an Otis Redding song with guitar, or a Leonard Cohen song at the piano. We had to decide by the old-fashioned method of clapping and cheering for the one we wanted, and made so much noise he told us it was obvious we liked other people’s songs better than his. Of course, he played both anyway: “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” and “Famous Blue Raincoat”. The first made it clear, if it wasn’t clear already to those listening, he has a really soulful, feeling voice. Did I already say this was a great show? The music was brilliant, Hayden was a really nice bloke, and everybody smiled and laughed a lot. So much for miserable.

Note: read the Guardian's review of "Elk-Lake Serenade" here




December 10


Three for today:

1. Quoted in a post at New Poetry, the late Jackson Mac Low (1922-2004)


What the maker of a manifesto does not comprehend or acknowledge is the basic unmanifestness from which and within which each manifestation takes place. It is this neglect or ignorance that calls forth repugnance when a manifesto is proclaimed or published, especially one regarding art. As if what comes to being in and as the work of art could ever be totally manifest or even manifest at all without its abiding steadfastly in the unmanifest! A work of art is a manifesto only insofar as it is its own antimanifesto.

21 June 1983
New York

2. Also quoted on the same discussion list, poet Donald Revell on John Ashbery, from the book “Range of the Possible”, edited by Tod Marshall:

People are always talking about how much Ashbery comes out of Wallace Stevens, and of course, Ashbery benefited enormously from Stevens' project. Yet I see Williams in Ashbery as much as I see Stevens. I think it's part of Ashbery's genius to understand that the inside is outside too. Part of what happens in the making of poems and the reading of poems is the understanding of one's inner life as being outside and all around you. So I don't see them as being poles at all; I see them as being orchestrations in the same moment of music. I think Ashbery daunts people in some ways because he is so accessible. They can't quite cope with a poetry that is so on the page. In a sense he is the most approachable of American poets because nothing is being concealed, and that's why I'm always astonished when people say Ashbery is a difficult poet, because he's not. He's quite the opposite. He's the most available, the most welcoming of poets I know. Everything is what it is. It's not a symbol for anything else. It's this entire exteriorization of the inward life, this humility that says there is nothing in me that didn't come from the world. It's not as if the world were some pale substitute for my splendid inner life. If I have an inner life where do you think it came from? It came from the world.

3. And, by way of an unlikely detour, in today’s Independent, an article about Throbbing Gristle:

The reappearance of Throbbing Gristle in 2004, 23 years after they split up, is something of a curiosity to many who remember their notorious presence in the late Seventies. Breaking from their separate music and art projects, the four-piece regrouped this year for a short performance in London for ticket holders of a cancelled gig at Camber Sands in June. They then reorganised that show, playing at last weekend's All Tomorrow's Parties Nightmare Before Christmas festival, curated by Jake and Dinos Chapman. That was officially TG's last ever performance, and all four members appeared for their last interview as TG at the festival before playing the show.

It was strange to find them lounging, resolutely calm, in a Camber Sands chalet, especially as their presence was anything but intimidating. The formidable Genesis P-Orridge is now a woman with a blonde bob and breasts, but that's hardly a shocking transformation for such a character. With all four members - P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Peter Christopherson - in one room, the conversation was slightly slippery…..

………. Their simple word of advice to aspiring artists is to be honest - something very few people actually manage to achieve. "And I think one of the gorgeous things about TG is that we will go from something amazingly serious and important and significant in terms of the world and life, and then do something ludicrous and absurd," adds P-Orridge.

"We take every aspect of our lives and then magnify them because it's interesting and puzzling and baffling all at once to go through each day."

the rest of this pretty long article is here





As a little addendum to "Three", I just phoned my friend John to tell him about the Throbbing Gristle article. He's a big fan of them, and Psychic TV (yay!!) .... anyway, his response was, Look, Martin, this week you've told me 2 unwelcome things about 2 of my top 3: Kevin Coyne is dead, and Throbbing Gristle are still alive. The third one of the 3 is Bob Dylan. So what's going to happen to him?

Anyway: I guess if Bob Dylan dies in the next few days, or even has a bad fall, it could be my fault. I apologise in advance.

Which reminds me: there is a story in the same Independent today about how "Like A Rolling Stone" almost was lost for ever .... I don't know if it's a true story, but the world is full of stories and this is another one.



December 12


I was reading something on the Interweb a few days ago, and someone somewhere mentioned that A Silver Mt. Zion were, if not the most pretentious band ever, then certainly the most pretentious band ever to come out of Canada. There is something faintly absurd about the hypothesis, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. But they kind of ask for it. Every time they release a record the band name undergoes an elongation. They currently perform under the title of The Silver Mt. 2Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band. I’m sure there’s loads of meaning in the name that goes right over my head, never mind anything else. And their most recent record is called “he has left us alone but shafts of light sometimes grace the corner of our rooms”. But this is in the tradition of the band of which they are an offshoot, godspeed you black emperor! whose “lift yr. skinny fists like antennas to heaven!” is one of my favourite post-rock records (although I have to admit I don’t really know what post-rock is, and I don’t know many records that come under that heading: all I really know is there is a section in Selectadisc called “post-rock” and they’re in it.) That record is all great swathes of guitar and strings, walls of sound, samples and emotions, classical-meets-counter-culture-rock symphony -- true, the big noise is balanced by passages of quiet melody and breathtaking poise …. but it's the Big Noise that's best. Great noise. I have no idea what it’s all about, but it’s great big emotional noise. Anyways, The Silver Mt. Zion gang, who played in Nottingham last night, are led by godspeed you! frontman Efrim, and seem to be a somewhat smaller and more song-oriented version of gybe (I have picked up the lingo off the Infonet; post-rock shorthand). There’s a couple of girl violinists, a couple of guitarists, a double bass, a drummer who sometimes plays the mandolin, and a lady cellist who I didn’t know was on stage until about five minutes from the end when one of the guitarists moved to the side and there she was, sat at the back, grinning and 1celloing like a mad woman. I’d been wondering how just a couple of violins were making that deep string sound; now I knew. I love this kind of music. I’m not sure what they were singing about: I only caught about half a dozen words all evening. They included “electric chair” and “Canada”, but this lot are heart-on-your-sleeve anti-capitalist don’t shop at Walmart look what they’re doing to your town kind of people, so I guess most of it was that sort of thing. But they make great noise. Nicking something else off the Internet (and I could never write this myself) they apparently employ “descending chromaticism coupled with occasional major thirds to evoke a perpetual sadness”. I call it great big guitar and strings and thumping rhythmic noise. The Rescue Rooms was packed. For an early Sunday evening show this was pretty special. Dave from work said Nottingham must have more of a counter-culture than he’d realised.



December 14


1Tonight I’ve been to
a poetry reading.

I don’t want
to talk about it.

Forgive me.

By this stage of my poetry life I should be used to boredom and staggeringly uninteresting poems by apparently intelligent people. I should be.

Forgive me.
I shouldn’t even be talking about it.
I was in a pretty good mood earlier on.
I think I'm not any more.



December 15


1 Recently over on the New Poetry discussion list, Mike Snider raised a series of questions whose purported aim was to get “fans of John Ashbery” to explain their admiration. The discussion the questions provoked is worth looking at in its entirety; one response, by Andrew Epstein, struck me as being among the most lucid appreciations of Ashbery’s poetry I’ve come across in some 25 years of reading the poems and reading people writing about the poems. It’s reprinted here in its entirety, with Andrew’s kind permission.


I guess Mike Snider's pointed questioning (gentle baiting?) about Ashbery's work provoked me to want to defend Ashbery, or my enthusiasm for Ashbery, which I guess was his intention in the first place. As others have said, the criteria Mike throws out there for why one would call oneself a fan of a given poet seem a bit strange, almost intentionally hilarious and exaggerated -- are there really people out there who actually rush up to their friends and excitedly recite ANY poet's poems in unison? In public? Without blushing? Who weep loudly enough upon reading a poem on public transportation that passers-by notice and beg them for the name of the poet? The whole question sure feels like a loaded one, although it seems that Mike is just genuinely curious about why people might like this poet. But something about it feels designed to bring up what Martin Stannard called the tired, decades-old "Ashbery question" -- that is, the premise behind it seems to be that: a) Ashbery is mostly just a spewer of undifferentiated randomness and nonsense, b) that those who profess to like his work don't REALLY understand or enjoy what they so loudly celebrate, and c) this is proven by the fact that they couldn't name a single piece of his that sticks out in their memory, since his poems are all indistinguishable, forgettable, and incapable of producing a powerful aesthetic response. Implicitly, this line of questioning hints that being a fan of Ashbery is some kind of a sham, since it implies that when pressed, no reader of Ashbery could ever really justify their liking of his work the way a lover of Frost or Yeats or whoever could.

But the problem is that this is just not a fair picture of how a pretty broad spectrum of people -- ranging from die-hard Ashbery fanatics to readers/writers of decidedly non-Ashbery poetry -- respond to Ashbery's work. I have had many conversations about Ashbery with poetry readers of various stripes, and can recall debating, on more than one occasion, which book of his is the best ("Do you really think Houseboat Days is better than The Double Dream of Spring? No way!") and distinctly remember people marvelling at the genius of particular poems. Come to think of it, just last week, before Mike's question, I was talking to a friend of mine, a well-known young poet who writes in much more traditional, formal vein, about the unspeakable greatness and brilliance of Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror and Three Poems, with this friend admitting how it simply took his breath away when he recently revisited those works again.

Although I'll admit that, for me, the later Ashbery can often leave something to be desired (and perhaps especially in the memorability department), if you are truly in search of memorable, peak Ashbery, you should return to the series of extraordinary books stretching from Some Trees (1956) to Houseboat Days (1977). There are so many excellent poems -- too many actually -- in those books to single out. But I for one am much happier living in a world that has in it poems like "Two Scenes," "The Instruction Manual," "Some Trees," "The Painter," "Our Youth," "They Dream Only of Amerca," "These Lacustrine Cities," "A Blessing in Disguise," the wonderful long poem "The Skaters," the entire volume The Double Dream of Spring ("The Task," "Soonest Mended," "Spring Rain," "Evening in the Country," etc. etc.), the 3 remarkable long prose poems of Three Poems (especially his tour-de-force, "The System"), just about every poem in the collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, "Street Musicians," "The Other Tradition," "And Ut Pictura Poesis is Her Name," "Syringa," and many many others.

Although the very basic features of Ashbery's style obviously means that his poems don't naturally lend themselves to being recited in their entirety, I remember memorizing, quite easily (and happily), the terrific, unforgettable poem "The One Thing That Can Save America" when I took an oral exam for grad school some years back, and can still recite fragments without having thought about doing so for a long time. More importantly, given the distinctive qualities of Ashbery's work, I, and many others, could recite from memory countless amazing, striking lines from so many Ashbery poems -- lines which are so often his stunning openers and closers ("These are amazing: each / joining a neighbor, as though speech / Were a still performance"; "These lacustrine cities grew out of loathing / Into something forgetful, though angry with history"; "Our Youth / of bricks -- who built it? Like some crazy balloon / When love leans on us / Its nights"; "They are preparing to begin again: / Problems, new pennant up the flagpole, / In a predicated romance"; "I tried each thing, only some were immortal and free. / Elsewhere we are as sitting in a place where sunlight / Filters down, a little at a time, / Waiting for someone to come"; "The summer demands and takes away too much, / But night, the reserved, the reticent, gives more than it takes"; "it is finally as though that thing of monstrous interest were happening in the sky / but the sun is setting and prevents you from seeing it").

Even just typing up these lines leads me to wonder: have the people who simply can't fathom why so many readers become Ashbery fans really gone back and read these poems lately? Does one really need to have a conversation about whether Ashbery is capable of writing poetry filled with rich imagery, music, the play of sound and sense, whether he is capable of writing memorable, individual poems when he writes endings like these:

I plan to stay here a little while
For these are moments only, moments of insight,
And there are reaches to be attained,
A last level of anxiety that melts
In becoming, like the pilgrim's feet.

("The Task")


For this is action, this not being sure, this careless
Preparing, sowing the seeds crooked in the furrow,
Making ready to forget, and always coming back
To the mooring of starting out, that day so long ago.

("Soonest Mended")


Our question of a place of origin hangs
Like smoke: how we picnicked in pine forests,
In coves with the water always seeping up, and left
Our trash, sperm, and excrement everywhere, smeared
On the landscape, to make of us what we could.

("Street Musicians")

At the very beginning of his first book Ashbery writes: "We see us as we truly behave: / From every corner comes a distinctive offering ... Everything has a schedule, if you can find out what it is." I've never forgotten those lines, never stopped being bothered and haunted by them, nor by many of the great Ashbery poems that were to follow. For many, many readers (on both sides of the fictive "great American poetry divide," I should add), Ashbery has again and again fashioned what Stevens called "the sounds that stick." And a lot of us are extremely grateful for that.

© Andrew Epstein, 2004



December 17


I looked about me yesterday and noticed that Christmas is almost here. More almost here than last time I looked about me. I thought perhaps something Christmassy would not come amiss at E&D, but I thought about it a couple of minutes and gave up. Christmas, after all, is only a celebration of shopping, and I have nothing astonishing to say about that. So, rather than struggle against the grain to be seasonal and charming, let me direct you to a Christmas story by “the genius that is Luke Kennard”, as one notable has called him. You can find it by clicking this link. You will find no better.



December 20


I’ve changed my mind about presenting a special Christmas treat here. For the past year, American poet Mark Halliday and British poet me have been collaborating on a series of short plays. They are somewhat in homage to Kenneth Koch, whose “One Thousand Avant-Garde Plays” is a book of considerable wonder. Our plays are also very good. Some of them, like Koch’s, are pretty short. One only measures about an inch and a half from the title to where it says “CURTAIN”. Others take up three whole sheets of paper. Because it is Christmas, I have chosen a play whose message is, when all is said and done, one of Peace.


(Pluvagnorn the King has summoned his Chieftains to a War Council in the throne room. All are dressed in furs and helmets.)

Pluvagnorn: What word of the enemy?

Scout: The enemy is huge. The enemy's tents are like a forest. The enemy's cavalry are like a storm. The enemy's spears glitter like a million stalks of silver asparagus.

Pluvagnorn: Fewer similes and more facts.

Scout: Let me put it this way. It's as if --

(Pluvagnorn swings his mace and renders the Scout unconscious, at best.)

Advisor: The enemy is said to number over seven thousand, my liege. However, we have the support of several tribes.

Pluvagnorn: Which tribes? What mighty chieftains will fight on our side?

Cerdic: I will, O King, with all my kinsmen.

Tewdric: And I.

(A silence falls. Pluvagnorn turns toward the other Chieftains.)

Pluvagnorn: And you, Loholt? And you, Cuneglas?

Cuneglas: We’re with you in principle, my liege, but we have one condition.

Pluvagnorn: Condition? What “condition”, pray?

Cuneglas: We want to be called by our real names. We’ve had enough of these stupid made up things salvaged out of Tolkien’s waste paper basket. They may be romantic and fantastic, but you want to try getting through daily life with them. People just don’t know how to pronounce them…

Loholt: Who’d have thought Loholt is pronounced “Lilt”, for Godsake? Or that Cuneglas is …

Cuneglas: Klaus. …. And people can’t spell them, or anything. I want to be what I was named by my mum and dad: Albert. And Loholt wants to be….

Loholt: Dorothy.

Pluvagnorn: Consider it done.

Advisor (aside to audience): Flexibility is a quality of great kings.

(Enter Second Scout, breathless)

Second Scout: My liege, the enemy has marched over Sedgemoor Hill and is now only two hundred rods from the castle!

Pluvagnorn: Rods?

Advisor: A rod is five and a half yards, my liege.

Pluvagnorn: Math hath ne'er been my cup of mead.

Advisor: The enemy, sire, is less than a mile away.

Pluvagnorn: Zounds! One of our regiments, or cohorts, or tribes -- the precise noun matters little at this juncture -- must charge the enemy immediately. Which of my Chieftains shall claim this honor?

Dorothy: Well, I guess me and Albert’ll give it a shot, seeing as how you’ve been pretty decent about our names. Let’s see. I’ve got a legion, a phalanx, a squadron, a wing and a group, two platoons, half a column, a detachment, three brigades and a troop.

Albert: And I think I can pull together sundry lancers, grenadiers, snipers, dragoons, wrestlers, pugs, doughboys, bowmen, swashbucklers and cannon fodder. All in all, it should be enough.

Dorothy: And we’ll make sure they’re well armed. We’ve got crossbows and grenades, match-locks and flint-locks, howitzers, field-pieces, grape-shot, Gatlings, pom-poms, blunderbusses, fowling-pieces, bazookas, knuckle-dusters, sub-machine guns, doodlebugs, V1s and V2s, guided missiles and hydrogen bombs.

Albert: It makes their silver asparagus look pretty sick.

Pluvagnorn: You have spoken well. Albert and Dorothy shall lead the charge against the enemy. Smite and smite. Do not forbear to smite. Meanwhile, Cerdic and Tewdric shall guard the castle.

Cerdic: Assuredly, O King.

Pluvagnorn: There must be no penetration.

Dorothy: I hear that.

Pluvagnorn: To the fray! Trumpets!

(Flourish of Trumpets. Exit all, stridingly. Sounds of battle. Then loud cheering.)

(Enter a soldier, crusty with blood but still striding.)

Soldier: This was a day when manhood was whetted and stropped. This was a day when men were of manhood and the manly were of martial bearing. Boys on this day stood on the legs of men. We who fought this day shall not forget how tall and brave, how bold --

(Soldier pauses to drink from his canteen)


© Mark Halliday & Martin Stannard, 2004