Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ashley Sterne Mixed Grill August 1924


Here are the August 1924 installments of Ashley Sterne's Mixed Grill republished in the Malaya Tribune.  Comparing the content details with these republishing dates, I conclude that the Malayan republishing dates must have been delayed about a month from the original publishing dates in London.  And, based on the irregularity of the republishing schedule, it appears that some of Mr. Sterne's installments failed to make their way into the Malaya Tribune, alas!

 
Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 7 August 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

The latest thing in Parisian fashions is frocks embroidered all over with triangles and other geometrical figures worked in vivid colours.  The vogue is rumoured to have been started by the protagonists of the Brighter Euclid Movement, and I shall eagerly look forward when passing through Paris next week (en route for Mudbaden, where I shall undergo my annual cure for writer's  cramp) to meeting a purple pons asinorum [literally, "bridge of asses"; a Euclidian theorum on isosceles triangles] strolling down the Champs Elysees, or witnessing a vermilion square on an orange hypotenuse sipping an absinthe in the Cafe de la Paix.

The publicity which will thus be accorded to the famous writer will, I trust, result in a revival of interest in his works.  He only wrote twelve books, but each is a masterpiece in its way, and I should like to see them far more often than I do at present in the hands of the younger generation.  The pages of Karl Marx, H.G. Wells, and other writers on social problems contain nothing more helpful or illuminating than that masterly chapter by the old Alexandrine on the Equality of Triangles which repose upon the same base and between the same parallels.

**          **          **          **          **

Are any of you interested in pearl-diving?  It is, I fear, a pastime which has hitherto not been taken up with very much enthusiasm by our menfolk owing to the expense involved in procuring the correct costume; while from a feminine point of view it has never met with favour, even among ladies of wealth, by reason of the fact that the costume does not display the figure to the best advantage.  An apparatus, however, has now been invented (I read) which does away with all the costly, cumbersome, and ungainly clothes, and consists simply of a glass mask and a cylinder of compressed air, costing a mere trifle by comparison, which can be adjusted over the most ravishing and smartly cut bathing costume without spoiling the general effect.

Thus I confidently predict that pearl-diving will henceforth rapidly become popular.  It is a much more lucrative pastime than diving for tin plates, as the diver is entitled to keep the pearls he gathers, whereas he has to return the tin plates to the attendant.

**          **          **          **          **

Owing to the recent torrential rains having proved so disastrous to first-class cricket, it is reported that several counties have approached the M.C.C. for permission to turn themselves into water polo clubs.

**          **          **          **          **

On the last occasion of your humble servant's going to Wembley the official return of the number of visitors gave the total as 154,428.  Your humble servant can readily corroborate this figure as he personally counted 154,427 who trod on your humble servant's bad corn.

**          **          **          **          **

I have much pleasure in awarding the Sterne Scholarship (tenable for one year at Borstal) to the bright schoolboy who on being asked by the visiting examiner to state what he knew about Queen Anne, answered that the ammoniated tincture was very good for the 'flu.

 **          **          **          **          **

Until recently nobody had a good word to say for chlorine gas.  It wouldn't lift a balloon, nor assist artificial respiration, nor help the dentist extract your teeth, nor illuminate nor heat your house.  It was the pariah among gases—a lazy, useless thing which did nothing but smell like a compromise between a skunk and a brick-kiln.  To-day, however, American doctors are widely prescribing sniffs of it for head-colds, and marvellously rapid cures are being effected by it.  This is good news, for hitherto the only certain cure for a head-cold has been amputation at the neck—a remedy towards which most sufferers displayed conscientious objections.  But if the once-despised and loathly chlorine can offer a less drastic cure, then let it be duly immortalised in verse:

Come, my Clorina, come!
     No more I flout you;
Let me confess that I
     Can't do without you!

What though I held you once
     A noxious vapour?
See, at your shrine I burn
     The contrite's taper.

So racked my brow with pain,
     I feel like screaming;
Red and inflamed my nose,
     And both eyes streaming;

Come, then, with healing breath,
     Belov'd Chlorina!
Succour a self-confessed,
     Remorseful sinner!

Let no revengeful thought
     Of ire assail you;
Come to my lungs, sweet gas!
     Let me inhale you!

**          **          **          **          **

I hail with joy the Postmaster-General's decision to have interiors of Home post-offices decorated in brighter colours.  Truly, as they are at present, they offer a very drab and drear appearance, and I am not surprised that postal clerks should seek to forget their lugubrious environment by surreptitiously reading Ethel M. Dell beneath the counter while the public patiently awaits their pleasure on the other side of the wire-entanglement.  I know, too, many men who have abandoned all letter-writing owing to the feeling of depression they acquire when going into a post-office to buy stamps.

But when the premises are nicely papered with designs of fruits and flowers, the woodwork picked out in gold paint, and climbing nasturtiums and crimson ramblers planted at the grilles, I quite expect there will be a tremendous boom in all kinds of postage, and out post-offices will become as popular places of rendezvous as Selfridge's or Harrod's.  Which prompts me to offer the suggestion to the P.M.G that in common with other big commercial enterprises he should hold an Annual Bargain Sale, and give his customers the opportunity to buy up old stocks of stamps and postal orders "at colossal reductions to clear."

**          **          **          **          **

A "whistling tree"—native of Barbados—has just been brought to Paris, where, if it can be acclimatised, it is intended to plant several along the boulevards.  The leaves, it appears, have small holes in them, and when the wind passes through them a dulcet whistling results.  On the authority of the world-famous botanist, Prof. Linnaeus Leberwurst of Schinklebrod, I gather that there are other trees known to arborists which give forth musical sounds—notably one, a native of the Isle of Rum, whose trunk is fitted with a squeaker, which, in a high wind, makes a noise like the bagpipes, and is frequently mistaken for a pibroch by the Rum islanders when returning home late after celebrating a nicht wi' Rabbie Burns or attending a dreeing-the-weird Cup Final.

**          **          **          **          **

The cowboys up for the Rodeo had done the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and Cleopatra's Needle, and were looking about for further excitements of a similar nature.

"Say, boys!" exclaimed one, seized with a sudden brilliant inspiration, "let's stroll along a block further and listen to Waterloo Bridge cracking!"

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 11 August 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

The cows of Great Britain will doubtless rejoice with me that measures are now before Parliament which will provide that Summer Times shall, for the future, commence on the first Sunday in April.  Hitherto the poor creature have had to yield their milk an hour earlier at very short—if any—notice, and (as a hardworking and respectable Guernsey, a mother of seven, recently confided to me) the sudden strain of producing twelve hour's of mile in eleven invariably causes some of our younger, and hence less adaptable, cows to develop cattlepsy.  Under the new arrangement, however, they will know exactly when their time is about to be curtailed, and, if they are wise, about the middle of March they will start a little Milk Sinking Fund, or a Milk Slate Club, which will enable them on the first day of Summer Time to deliver their required quota without extra effort.

**          **          **          **          **

On 30th July listeners in are promised a big noise in the shape of a performance of a composition entitled "Hyperprism" by the French composer, Edgar Varese.  The instruments to be employed, I read, include twelve drums, a set of Chinese blocks, and a contrivance which imitates the roar of a lion.  After this I shall have no hesitation in submitting to the musical director at 210 a little thing of my own entitled "Hyposulfate of Soda," which I have scored for seventeen teapots, a Thibetan praying-wheel and a machine which imitates the laugh of a hyena.

**          **          **          **          **

Those agitate people who have been frenetically writing to the papers to enquire whether broadcasting has been responsible for the extraordinarily wet weather which has recently afflicted us may be interested, now that their fears on that point have been dissipated, further to know that:
telephoning has no direct influence on the transit of Venus;
roller-skating does not materially affect the obliquity of the ecliptic;
ostrich-farming is not responsible for the variations in the course of the Gulf Stream; and pancake-tossing is not the immediate cause of earthquakes.

**          **          **          **          **

Some French engineers, engaged in sinking an Artesian well in the Sahara, have reported that a depth of 300 feet they encountered water in which they found live fish and shellfish of hitherto unknown species.  The conclusion which scientists have come to is that there is a vast underground sea or lake beneath the sands of the desert, and in this view I am happy to state that my esteemed friend, Prof. Barmion Crumpett, F.Z.S, concurs.  In a recent letter to me he informs me that, by a curious coincidence, while he was engaged last week in sinking an Artesian celery-trench in his back garden he came upon the corpse of a recently defunct dog, which at once led him to deduce that beneath his pleasaunce there were probably extensive underground kennels.  His supposition, he adds, would appear to be confirmed by the fact that he has lately observed that many of his trees have barks attached to them.

**          **          **          **          **

In a recent Count Court case a cook successfully sued her former mistress for dismissing her without notice on finding a cockroach in the soup she sent to table.  The defendant was obviously trying to live up to the letter of the old proverb, "Out you cook according to her broth."

**          **          **          **          **

A SAD SALAD BALLAD

(Inspired by reading that a doctor alleges that a generous
diet of lettuce is the best food to eat during a heat-wave.)

Little Willie Wenlake-Pryce,
Keen to follow his doctor's advice,
     Ate largely of lettuce, crisp and green;
Ate of it by the market bunch
For breakfast, supper, tea and lunch;
     He also ate it in between.
Day after day, week after week,
Willie had eat-waves, so to speak,
     And lettuce grew scarce in his native town
But still he ate it with ceaseless zeal—
His only food at every meal!
     Bushel by bushel he wolfed it down.
But oh! what a direful doom was his
For eating so many lettuces!
     Nobody knows quite why or how,
But (possibly through the food he ate,
Or by some heartless prank of Fate)
     Willie's become a silkworm now!

**          **          **          **          **

I spent last week-end at Mumblechump Magna on a visit to my old friend Squire Foxglove.  The village cricket team very kindly asked me to play for them in their Saturday afternoon match against Puddlethorpe Parva, and though I urged that my active cricketing days were long since past my host informed me that the invitation was always extended to any male guest of his, and that the team would feel deeply hurt if I refused.  He also told me that, as his guest, I should certainly be asked to bowl, and that I must acceded to that, too.  After some little demur I agreed; but I fear I have not left an honoured name behind me in the village.  What happened was this.  The visitors got first knock, and I was requested to open the attack.  I did so, but although I bowled without pause for six hours, I never completed my first over.  When stumps were drawn out opponents, without having hit a single ball, had scored 1,437 for no wickets—a total compiled entirely of wides.

**          **          **          **          **

The lady who was seen to leave the grocery department of the Stores the other day with a crate of eggs concealed in her umbrella, has, I hear, successfully pleaded shell-shock before the magistrate.

**          **          **          **          **

A lady writer has been deploring the fact that so few men nowadays observe the pre-war habit of wearing gloves at public dances.  Without wishing to appear either mean or ungallant, I would, however, like to say that owing to the increased cost of living and the enhanced prices of white kids few men can afford to don gloves unless their partners are prepared to produce a certificate that they are wearing fast colours.  On the other hand, I quite sympathize with the damsel who has to submit to being gripped by clumsy, clammy paws.  She must all too often feel as if her own lily hand were reposing on a pound of raw steak or a bunch of peeled bananas.  As a convenient compromise, I suggest that men should wear small paper bags on their hands.

**          **          **          **          **

The dear of lady from the country who went to Wembley specially to see Rodeo which she had heard so much about has since been heard to express her bitter disappointment that no Juliet appeared in the performance.

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 23 August 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

I am distressed to read of a strike of Venetian gondoliers as a protest against the introduction of motor launches on the Grand Canal.  My sympathies are all with the strikers, for I realise how acute their grievance must be to cause them to abandon their customary pursuit of singing tra-la-las to the music of the mandolin and playing blind man's bluff with the flower girls on the Piazza di San Marco.

Gondoliers, as I know them, are a highly respectable fraternity; picturesque, too, with their heads tied up in gaudy pudding-cloths and quoits in their ears.  It was from their ranks (my readers, may remember) that the joint rulers of Barataris were selected, and though I believe a little light kidnapping played a prominent part in the proceedings, that is the only blot I can find on an otherwise fair escutcheon.

Anyway, motor launches are quite out of place on the Grand Canal.  As soon instal try-your-weight machines in St. Peter's.  It only remains for me to offer the gondoliers my sincere condolences.

**          **          **          **          **

Consequent upon my remarks last week on the big noise I had composed and intended offering to the B.B.C. for broadcasting purposes, a correspondent writes to me suggesting that I might now suitably turn my attention to composing a big silence.  Curiously enough I have bee considering for some time past the composition of a work consisting entirely of rests.  It will of necessity have to be scored for very soft instruments, and I have provisionally decided that my orchestra shall consist of a pair of dumb-bells, a wireless harp, and a Devonshire junket.  I propose entitling my composition, "Sh!", and inscribing it to the memory of the late Dean Maitland.  [from the novel, The Silence of Dean Maitland, by Maxwell Gray]

**          **          **          **          **

Ex-America semper aliquid novi!  [From America always something new!]  In other words a Boston couple selected to wear tennis costume at their wedding.  I can only express the hope that the customary rackets and bowls will not follow.

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A famous singer asserts that beef is the best diet for operatic vocalists.  But only, I imagine, when they are singing in opera boeufa.

**          **          **          **          **

Included in a collection of lost property left on the Southern Railway and recently sold by auction were sixty sets of false teeth.  On first consideration one wonders how such articles could possible be lost unless they fall out while the victims were asleep.  I have, however, evolved a theory which, I fancy, successfully accounts for those extraordinary lapsus linguae. [slip of the tongue].  Certain portions of the Southern Railway's system are not exactly world-famous for the speed of their trains, and I can well conceive that many a middle-aged passenger wearing dentures when travelling from, say, Holborn to Dover, would, in the course of the journey enter his second childhood and cut a completely new set of natural teeth.  The retention of the false set would thus be rendered entirely superfluous.

**          **          **          **          **

At the inaugural meeting of the New Art Utility Guild one of our leading decorative artists declared that the modern man in a dress suit looks absurd in the average drawing-room.  I go still further and say that no one is better aware of, or more sincerely deplores, his appearance in evening dress than modern man himself.  In fact, so far as I am concerned, let me freely admit that—

In my little broadcloth jacket,
And my little pique vest,
And a hard-boiled shirt, good luck! it
'S awfully hard to look my best.

No one takes me for Apollo
Belvedere when thus arrayed;
For I look absurd in swallow—
Tails and trousers trimmed with braid.

Little wonder I'm not sanguine
Over modern evening dress;
For I look just like a panguine—
Nothin more and nothing less!

Panguine, I may add, is Eskimo for penguin.

**          **          **          **          **

One of our Urban District Councils (I see it reported) has refused to permit a superstitious resident to change the number of his house from 13 to 12a.  I presume, however, that the materialistic Councillors will have no objection to the superstitious one's keeping his fingers crossed, or periodically throwing salt over his left shoulder.

**          **          **          **          **

Dr. Charles Eliot, President Emeritus of Harvard University, Massachusetts, has opined that the majority of people are overfed and undernourished in consequence of relying too much upon meat, bread, and potatoes instead of milk, fruit, and raw vegetables, which are far richer in vitamines.  Upon reading this statement I at once cabled my friend, Dr. Bulkley Stodger, President Erraticus of Yell University, Connectichusetts, for his remarks.  He quite endorses his distinguished colleague's views, and informs me that for several years past he himself has subsisted entirely upon the pips of figs and raw mangelwursels, which contain nothing by vitamines.  He adds that he occasionally leaves the table feeling rather overnourished and underfed, and with a sinking sensation between his fountain-pen and his watch; in which event he swallows a cork.  But he is nevertheless persisting in his diet, and anticipates that ere long he will so far have disciplined himself as to be able to dispense with the actual process of  mastication, and to obtain his nourishment by merely looking at a vitamine in a bottle.

**          **          **          **          **

My readers will doubtless learn with regret that in certain parts of London epidemics of hay fever are furiously raging.  I encountered one unhappy sufferer in Cheapside yesterday who held up the pedestrian traffic for some minutes while he released thirty-seven sneezes straight off the reel.  So violent were his sternutations that they set the weather-vane on the spire of Bow Church spinning like a roulette wheel, and caused two pigeons sitting on the ledge of the porch to lose their balance and fall over into the outdoor offertory-box.

Why Londoners should be visited with this affliction it is hard to determine, as the quantity of hay made in the metropolis is practically negligible.  One can ramble all over Lincoln's Inn Fields or Doctors' Commons without finding a single blade of it, while no one may walk the length of the Haymarket itself without once encountering a hay-broker.  I can hence only conclude that the present epidemic has been caused by the hay which rustic visitors to the Wembley Exhibition have brought along in their whiskers. 

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 30 August 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

Legislation has been proposed, I read, to make the return halves of railway tickets available at any future date, a prospect which has suggest to me the following storyette: —

It was in 1926 that, with his fortune still to make, he brought his young bride to London.  There, by dint of unremitting toil and industry, he amassed in thirty years, a modest but sufficient competence, and in pursuance of their original plan the couple decided that they would now return to their native city to spend the evening of their days in peaceful retirement.

The day of departure came.  Their boxes stood ready packed, corded, and labelled.  Patiently the wife waited in the bare sitting-room for the cab which was to take them to the station.  Suddenly a white-faced, haggard, trembling man rushed into the room, and cried in anguish—

"Janet!  Janet!  We canna gang!  We maun bide in Battersea will we dee!  I hae lossit the wee bit return halves!"

And, weeping piteously, he tore from their luggage the Aberdeen labels.

**          **          **          **          **

A performing seal, now being exhibited in America, is stated to waltz, fetch the papers, climb a ladder, and kiss its master.  I rather fancy that at sometime or other I have read of parlour-maids who can do all these tricks.

**          **          **          **          **

Here's enterprise for you!  If you want to choose a gramaphone record at a certain famous London emporium, all you need to do is to ring up the gramaphone department, ask to hear the latest foxtrots, and then listen while they play them over to you through the 'phone.  In future, I propose to consult my doctor in this manner.  I shall ring him up, say "Ah!" ninety-nine times, cough, and finally hold the transmitter against my heart.  Doctor will listen in with his stethoscope at the other end, and then pronounce "smoker's heart with a touch of clergyman's sore throat" and prescribe a gargle.  Then, in proof that I am not actually taking the treatment and not pouring it down the sink, I shall later ring him up again, place the transmitter against my Adam's apple, and request him to listen to me going glug-glug-glug.

**          **          **          **          **

A French scientist, who has been studying the egg-productivity of poultry, claims that wine mixed with their drink-water helps hens to lay more eggs.  Perhaps; but on the other hand, it may help the hens to see more eggs than they actually laid.

**          **          **          **          **

My old college chum, Dr. Feign Crank, has once more favoured me with one of his famous tonic talks (or, as he prefers to call them, strychnine stories).  This time it is a few earnest, vital words to business men entitled:—

GO EASY

This is a generation of hurry.  Consider—what does the business man eat?  Scrambled eggs and hasty pudding.  What does he carpet his office with?  Rush matting.  What does he dress in?  Fast colours.  What does he keep in his thermometer?  Quicksilver.  What does he grow in his garden?  Speedwell.

And I ask—are all these things worth the candle?

Very rightly you ask in turn, what's the candle worth?  And I must truthfully answer, I don't know.  But are you aware that more men die of hurry every day than have ever died of lawn tennis elbow?  Think of that!

So banish hurry from your life before it becomes that insidious canker-worm which will eventually turn to Dead Sea fruit in your mouth.  Cook only over a slow fire.  Drink slow gin.  Grow Virginia creeper.  Keep slow-worms and cloths.  Use only passive verbs.

But gee, bo'! make your clerks sweat or it'll be the back door for you, you pie-can!

**          **          **          **          **

It is very comforting at this time of the year, when many of us will be making the cross-Channel voyage, to learn that a well-known doctor asserts that there is no such malady as sea-sickness.  It is, he says, purely a state of mind brought about by auto-suggestions.  In this connection allow me to quote two verses of the Choric Song from my celebrated poem, "The Zotos-Eaters":

Untaught steward, forbear to hasten
With your white-enamelled basin,

Though I'm green about the gills!
Does you skull's colossal thickness
Fend your knowing that sea-sickness

Isn't one of Nature's ills?
Learn you, then, that symptoms ghastly
Need not interest you vastly.

When your succour is declined;
For my alabaster pallour,
Mottle o'er with green and yaller,

But reflects my state of mind.

**          **          **          **          **

From a recently published book of travel I learn that in certain parts of Central Africa many native chiefs impose a tax on bachelors.  The author does not state how the tax is collected, but I imagine the Inland Revenue Inspectors force their way into the various kraals demanding of the men "your money or your wife."

**          **          **          **          **

So far (states a contemporary) the largest Thames chub taken this season is an eight-pounder.  It seems to me that either "eight" is a misprint for "eighty", or some novice who doesn't know the rules of the game is deceitfully telling the truth.

**          **          **          **          **

A real live tuatera lizard has now been added to the other attractions of the New Zealand pavilion at Wembley.  This curious reptile, which belongs to the rhynchocephalian order, i.e., "in which the ribs are one-headed, and having a interclavicle, the acetabula close, and feet ambulatory," has been known to remain motionless for so long as a fortnight without even moving its eyelids.  In this respect it would appear strangely to resemble a certain Cabinet Minister I once went to interview on the matter of whether the Geneva Convention permitted one to call no-trumps with all four suits unguarded.  I couldn't see whether his ribs were one-headed—he was too fat; but he had a lovely interclavicle, two very fine acetabula (one closed, the other wide open), and feet which I presumed were ambulatory since they were encased in spats of a fashionable cut.

He stayed quite still from 11 a.m. one Friday morning till 3 p.m. in the afternoon.  Then he woke up suddenly with a snort, mumbled something about my calling again when he was less busy, and hurried off to Chequers for the week-end.

     

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