Sorting Through My Father’s Hoard # 13: Damon Runyon, Part 2: Death Pays a Social Call


First off, I’m so very thankful that this story is not in Runyonese, unlike Earthquake. I can retreat to my own writing style…which is less than nothing special, but at least it isn’t too much of a struggle to get it out into the world. Runyon was a genius and his style of writing is very hard for me to emulate.


Second off, this story was always meant to be next in line after my previous post on Damon Runyon, as the Part 1 of last time would suggest. As you might have guessed from the title, this one touched a nervy nerve, and I lost that nerve for…

…over seven months. Yikes. I’m sure Dad would argue this only demonstrates that I was clearly getting on with my life and being busy and happy, rather than getting trapped in something that made me so unhappy.

Yeah. Regardless:


Continue reading “Sorting Through My Father’s Hoard # 13: Damon Runyon, Part 2: Death Pays a Social Call”

Sorting Through My Father’s Hoard # 13: Damon Runyon, Part 1

Now it happens that I am considering what to do for my latest post on my old man’s hoard of books, since it is five years to the day since my old man hauls off to depart for other worlds and climes and leaves his ever-loving wife and daughters very lonesome, and I am naturally wanting my post to be a suitable tribute for the sad reminder. Although I know on this occasion the book I choose must not be too sad, because when I am writing the post for The Journal of A Disappointed Man I am crying in-between the typing and sometimes when I am writing the post for The Sword in the Stone I am sniffing so much I must stop typing for a long time, and even now writing this very opening paragraph I am getting teary, since even though it has already (or only) been five years, the pain does not get any less.

So I am determined that this time the subject must be a fun light-hearted book which I enjoy writing about, and what happens but I suddenly think of Damon Runyon.

Now you should know that this Damon Runyon is a very, very smart duck, who is writing for New York newspapers and covering sports and news stories over many years in the 20s and 30s and 40s. He apparently revolutionises the reporting of baseball and is heavy into boxing and gambling and shooting craps, and most importantly for my old man and for his daughters and for thousands more like us he writes plenty of poems about sports and short stories about guys and their dolls on Broadway. In fact he is writing so much about guys and their dolls that three other very smart ducks known as Frank Loesser and Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows take some of his stories – in particular The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown and Blood Pressure – and make them into a musical called Guys and Dolls, which is a show I fancy some of you hear of, and if you do not then I shall merely say you are more than somewhat deprived.

Continue reading “Sorting Through My Father’s Hoard # 13: Damon Runyon, Part 1”

Sorting Through Dad’s Hoard #12: The Sword in the Stone


Once again memory is playing tricks on me. I’m fairly certain that the Disney film version came first.

Which I don’t think I will ever be able to watch in its entirety again.

This is fairly ridiculous. I don’t think it was a film that Dad watched with us an awful lot, and I’d never associated it with him until the last few years.One could make the argument that the wise, kindly old mentor who teaches the young boy, takes him on marvellous adventures and wants so much so badly for him, only for their relationship to be lost and ended (thankfully momentarily) in a moment of anger, hurt and misunderstanding, might just possibly be relevant…

…but I hold more to the fact that this is the shitty, cheating, sly, conniving bloody thing about grief. When does it ever make sense?

Also, there’s that bit with the little squirrel girl.

Squirrel girl
If the utter heartbreak of the little squirrel girl doesn’t make you cry helplessly (or at least feel incredibly down and sick at the bitter cruelty of life) you are a barefaced liar, and you can meet me with guns at dawn.

Continue reading “Sorting Through Dad’s Hoard #12: The Sword in the Stone”

Sorting through Dad’s hoard, part 5: Saki

I couldn’t have been older than eight when Dad sat me down to read me a story. The story was called Sredni Vashtar.

The main (really only proper) character was a young, frail Edwardian boy named Conradin, living with a domineering female cousin, who seemed determined to joylessly coddle, thwart and repress him into the grave. His only consolation was a shed down at the bottom of the barren garden, which to him was a ‘playroom and a cathedral’, populated by his own imagination.

(Having read The Secret Garden, I thought I knew where this was going. Conradin even rather resembled Colin Craven.)

The shed also housed Conradin’s pet hen; and, in a hutch in the corner, a large polecat-ferret that he’d bought off a friendly butcher’s boy and hid fervently from his cousin, dubbed in his hostile mind ‘The Woman’.

(Having read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, I definitely thought I knew where this was going.)

Conradin, in his loneliness and mixed fear and awe of the polecat-ferret, named it – what else but Sredni Vashtar? And proceeded to worship the animal, giving it offerings of flowers and berries, and occasionally nutmeg, believing it to be responsible for the various ailments of The Woman.

(I still thought I knew where this was going.)

The Woman noticed Conradin’s trips down to the shed, ruled them contrary to her desires, and had the hen sold. Conradin’s hate grew ever fiercer, and he prayed to Sredni-Vashtar to ‘do one thing for me’. “The thing was not specified.

(I…was curious about where this was going.) Continue reading “Sorting through Dad’s hoard, part 5: Saki”

Day 16, August 3rd – In the valley of the goats

Today was our last day of riding – I am really glad of it. My legs have been chafed by being in the saddle, and there’s a spot or two on my leg that’s been rubbed raw and which I have to take care to keep clean and sterilised, using precious plasters. Some of the horses are coming with us, including dear old Aloysius, but we will be carrying most of our necessities, food, parts of tents, with us.

For about 15km per day.


We had an interesting time while riding today; we were all a bit tired and fed up and longing to get to camp so we could ‘relax’, so Kaz suggested we play a riddle game to pass the time. We soon ran out of all the riddles we all remembered from The Hobbit. I asked one that I learned all the way back in Year Two, when I was seven: I fly like a bird and buzz like a bee; got a tail like a fish, got a hop like a flea.

Kaz asked one that puzzled us for the longest time and kept us occupied for at least a few minutes. I finally guessed the answer; would you? Poor men have it, rich men want for it, and you die if you eat it.

We’re staying in a fairly pleasant valley, with a group of gers a little way away from us and an old, tiny wooden Buddhist monastery on a nearby hill. we have to walk quite a way to get the water – always a sore point with us – but at least the ground isn’t too lumpy.20160908_195022

We are sorting out the food we’re going to take with us in the foot trek, since the buses won’t be accompanying us during this time. Leslie, Ellie and Emma have done very good jobs of organising the supplies, considering some of the messes we’ve created in the vehicles. However, we didn’t do so well when it came to fetching water. It took FOUR of us girls to bring back ONE full jerry can of water (taking it in turns) that one of the boys could have lifted easily. Which they did.

We are ashamed.

We had tomato sauce and pasta for dinner – the evening meals switch between this and chilli con carne from a can with sticky rice, with tuna thrown in for those who want it. Haven’t got tired of it yet.

In the hours after dinner, with the sun setting and we were washing our clothes and ourselves (the legs of several female trekkers needed a close shave) the locals turned their livestock loose, and several of the goats came to say hello. One goat ate a dropped biscuit wrapper – sending us into a panic attack about whether we’d poisoned it, would we have to pay for it if it died, before remembering it’s a goat, nothing can poison a goat.

In the meantime, the goat then launched an assault on Manda’s tent and tried to eat the guy ropes. We chased it away by screaming and hitting it with socks.

I haven’t spoken much about Manda. She is our translator and interpreter, about eighteen, or so she tells us. English is her third language, after Mongolian and German, so there’s no trouble in her translations. We all love her, despite her inability to put her tent up without help.

I’m sore in legs and feet from the riding, and though I enjoyed it, at the moment I feel that if I never sat on a horse again, it would be far too soon.

I only hope the remaining horses or the goats don’t eat the tents during the night.

BBC Banished, Episode 3 recap

While I do honestly love this series, this episode drives me to vulgarity on occasion. It’s how I show I care! Plus I occasionally put swear words in the mouths of the characters.

You know they were thinking them anyway.

We start as we ended the last episode, with a body. Okay, now I believe that Marston’s body/dummy is under the water; the hair’s actually moving.

Well, at last we know why there are so many graves on the beach; it’s where Johnson holds his services, since there’s as yet no church. A whole bunch of people have gathered for a funeral. Anne and Mrs. Johnson exchange glances, no doubt thinking about their previous exchange. James smirks at one particular bit of scripture being read out by Letters Molloy, “I was in prison and you did not visit me,” (very appropriate) before catching sight of a boat full of marines heading out into the bay. He frets that they might be getting close to where Marston’s body is. Tommy can’t tell if it’s that exact spot; it was pretty dark last night, after all.

Johnson starts a big speech. “Shall I tell you what I love about this place?”


(The spiders? The snakes? The heat? The fact that you don’t have an actual church yet and your graveyard is on the beach? The fact that you’re all on quarter rations? The fact that the marines are apparently entitled to the bodies of the female convicts? The fact that the guy in charge of the marines wants to hang innocent people to get everyone else to toe the line? The fact that there is the constant threat of attack by natives, even though we never see any Aboriginal people in this show? The fact that you yourself nearly had to execute a guy the day before yesterday? The list goes on and on.)

Continue reading “BBC Banished, Episode 3 recap”

Sorting through my father’s hoard, part 4: Moby Dick

Behold, The Modern Library INC edition from 1926!!!


….Iiiiiiiiii have not actually read Moby Dick. I don’t know if I plan to. I did read the Classics Illustrated comic version of it when I was about fourteen; does that count? And I will grant that it has one of the best opening lines in literature, which thousands of teenagers in the American education system have been forced to analyse:

“Call me Ishamel.”

Genius, I say.

Plus it inspired the whole theme from that film where Khan Noonien Singh simply refused to let bygones be bygones:

Cheerful stuff.

Continue reading “Sorting through my father’s hoard, part 4: Moby Dick”

Is it me, or is the Cthulhu Mythos something of a no-woman zone?

I’ve been working through the Cthulhu Mythos Mega Pack 

(if you have a Kindle download this now now now, it’s only 37p and, despite what I’m about to say, I bloody love it)

and it would appear that

  • meddling in things we ought not to wot of,
  • getting spooked by rats that, it turns out, are never rats,
  • calling up what cannot be put down,
  • mutating into fish monsters,
  • or generally just having to cope with a whole lot of tentacles,

is strictly a male affair. You can be a female in this mythos…but don’t expect to be allowed to actually narrate the story, have any real impact on it, or entertain much chance of surviving it. At least not in this selection.

I shouldn’t be too surprised, considering quite a few of the stories in this collection are ‘classics’ written by H.P. Lovecraft himself, as well as Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard. The stories written more towards the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st don’t have so much of an excuse, but pulp writing has always been very much a male province, in theory if not in actuality.

Still, I’m curious as to whether there have been any female writers inspired by the Cthulhu mythos, and what works they’ve produced.

(Goes on the hunt for the elusive female, amid the tentacles and the fish things.

No, the female Deep Ones don’t count.)

Anonymous 2011: aka Who The Hell Wrote This ****?

In honour of Shakespeare’s probable birthday – and date of death; yes, Shakespeare supposedly died on his birthday, that must have spoiled the party, ho ho, bet you never heard that joke before – I’ve decided to make up a list of my favorites when it comes to his works, both plays and films based on his plays.

However, before we get to that, I felt the need to briefly address a certain film I was recently reminded of:



Anonymous, a film released in 2011, directed by Roland Emerich and starring Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave, is based upon the

Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship.

Aka the simple theory that Shakespeare did not, in fact, write the plays for which he is so famous.

Then who did write the plays? Why, none other than Edward da Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford!

And that’s where it stops being simple; at least as far as this film is concerned.  Continue reading “Anonymous 2011: aka Who The Hell Wrote This ****?”

Sorting through my father’s hoard: Rudyard Kipling


“Now, when they ask you what you like to read, don’t mention Kipling.” Dad’s words of wisdom when I was preparing for university interviews; probably not best, he agreed, to profess admiration for he who wrote of The White Man’s Burden and Gunga Din. I love Kipling, but I’ll be the first to admit he’s politically incorrect and hasn’t exactly aged well.

Still, it must have pained Dad to have to acknowledge that Kipling has his problems, and his detractors. Not for nothing did he have a shelf filled with the man’s work:

ireland and kipling 320

Continue reading “Sorting through my father’s hoard: Rudyard Kipling”