Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ashley Sterne Mixed Grill November 1924


Here are four installments of Ashley Sterne's Mixed Grill that were republished in November 1924 in Malaya [a set of states under British control, later becoming part of the independent federation of Malaysia in 1963].


Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 6 November 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

The almost indecent haste with which the youth of Great Britain discard one thing for another will cause a public scandal unless prompt measures are taken to draw their fangs and thus nip them in the bud.  I more particularly refer to the reprehensible practice of shinning footballs about before cricket has ceased.  It is tantamount to consuming the funeral bakemeats ere the old gentleman upstairs has breathed his last—a solecism which even the most case-hardened mourner would hesitate to commit.

Last Saturday afternoon, we (that is, my Club, the Battersea Bingers) were playing the concluding match of the season against the team of the local branch of the Good Tipplers' Association on our village green.  I was fielding third long-stop—my usual place—and was about to effect a catch that would have won the match for us, when some muddled oaf kicked a football just between my fountain-pen and my watch, with the result that the ball went to the boundary for four, and I went to the Ambulance-tent for artificial respiration.

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Yet another inventor claims to have discovered a process which renders glass absolutely unbreakable.  I simply won't believe it until—

(i).  my Mary Jane has had a go at it;
(ii).  a specimen has safely survived transit through our Parcel Post.

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A few weeks ago (readers will probably remember) the announcement was made that a Japanese professor had discovered a powder, made from fish, which, taken internally, would increase a person's stature.  I promptly wrote to my friend, Dr. Bulkley Stodger, the famous dietetist and Professor Erraticus of Yell University, Connectichusetts (whose biography appears this week) asking him for his observations on the matter.  Just to hand is his replay, in which he states that for years he has been experimenting, to a similar end, with a powder made from Limburger cheese.  The patient, however, is required not to swallow the powder but to smell it, the effort to escape the effluvium resulting in an elongation of the neck varying from a few inches to a couple of feet.  So successful has my friend's treatment proved that one patient, on leaving the clinique, was mistaken for an ostrich, and was much harassed by people groping beneath his coat-tails to look for plumes.  But, as the eminent medico rightly pointed out to him, he couldn't have it both ways.

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TO MY FELLOW-CITIZENS

(on reading that owing to the smoky atmosphere Londoners
suffer an average loss of 39 per cent. of sunshine)

Courage, brothers! do no grumble
That the days seem dark and drear,
And through smoky murk you stumble
While the sun above shines clear.

Every ill some compensation
Bears by Nature's just decree;
And you hour of jubilation
Shall the coming autumn see.

Though for you the sun won't soon shine
In an undiluted strain,
You shall bask in floods of moonshine
When our M.P.'s meet again!

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Brothers of the bride at a North London wedding last week were a soldier, a sailor, and a policeman.  Their presence, of course, made it practically impossible for the bridegroom to escape.

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I received quite a shock the other day.  Having nothing else in particular to do I bought a dog—one with a very long nose and very short legs—a truffle-hound I think.  On going to the Post Office to take out a license I was dreadfully disappointed to find that I didn't have to fill up a form with a number in the corner like a quadratic equation.  I had eagerly anticipated receiving Form No. 86524 (a) P. M. G. D. L. 1337 (ii), 985421, and being required to fill in something to this effect:

(1)  Name of dog (To be written in block capitals)

(2)  State if dog's parents living.  If dead, state cause of death.

(3)  Has dog ever suffered from rabies, roup, croup, staggers, glanders, rickets, clergyman's sore throat, or swine fever?

(4)  Is it strictly sober and temperate?

(5)  Has it ever had a license previously?  If so, was such license ever endorsed?

(6)  Give the names and addresses of two other dogs willing to act as references.

(7)  State precisely whether you require license merely for listening to dog, or for experimental purposes.

It was awfully tame simply handing over the money and getting a receipt.  I've got more fun out of trying to register a picture-postcard.

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At a recent fair a showman, I see, has been fined for using cokernuts [coconuts] made of lead which, it was alleged, could not be dislodged by the missiles provided.  Had he been wise to the conditions, the prosecutor might have evened matters by hurling home-made rock-cakes at the stubborn target.

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It is state that the amount of pure ozone used in the Tube railways is one part to two million parts of air.  As a constant traveller on the Tubes may I respectfully request that any visitor to town encountering this one part of pure ozone will not sniff it all up?

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As remarked in another paragraph, this week's biography is that of—

IV.  Bulkley Stodger, M.D., M.R.C.V.S., R.S.V.P., &c.  Hatched 1852.  Received first instruction in medicine from Dr. Beucham, Dr. Gregory, Dr. Carr-Stroyle, and later, in Vienna, for Prof. Glaubersaltz.  On qualifying, determed to specialise in dietetics, and went (1882) to America to study at first hand the food-vaues of clam chowder and canvas-backed terrapin.  Accepted post of Professor Erraticus of Yell University, Connectichusetts (1884), offered him in recognition of his able monograph in defence of the pork-and-beans canning industry, published (1883) under the title, "I fear no foe in shining Armour."  Received the Order of the Bottlenosed Jellyfish, with two knobs, for his researches into the nutritive value of spearmint if left on the bedpost overnight.  Published works include The Vitaminor's Dream of Home (1892); Botulism or Bolshevism?  (1895); The Diet of Worms: A Digest of its Effect on Martin Luther (1900); Do Hericot Beans cause Varicose Veins? (1904); Do Onions cause Bunions? (1905);  Should Deans Eat Sardines? (1909); and Tasty Tit-Bits for Tired Tummies (1919).  Hobbies: haircutting and fretwork.  Club: The Porous Plasterers', Medicine Hat.

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 14 November 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

I am very gratified to think that the short poem which I addressed to oysters last May in my weekly causerie [a short essay or opinion piece charactized by humor, absurdity, and verbal acrobatics], adjuring them to put on as much fat as possible during the close season, has borne such good fruit.  The autumn crop, I learn from credible sources (including my own palate), is a very plump and luscious one, in celebration whereof I hear it rumoured that the Whitestable fishermen are proposing shortly to stew an oyster whole on the village green.  This quaint, old-world ceremony will be followed by a Battle of Lemons and Cayenne Pepper, while a congratulatory address is to be presented to the Oldest Oyster—a patriarchal old fellow with a long white beard, who well remembers the famous raid by the Walrus and the Carpenter—and the Freedom of the Bed conferred upon him.

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In an engineering periodical I read that Stockport's reservoir, holding 515 million gallons, possesses the largest earth dam in the world.  Hitherto I had always imagined that this record was held by a certain famous golf course.

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A month has elapsed since Mars was at its nearest point to the earth, and the various astronomical reports have now been collated and tabulated.  The net results, however, are distinctly disappointing, especially to those of us who had looked to the occasion to settle the vexed question of whether or not Mars is inhabited.  A report to the effect that my learned friend, Professor Starr-Studyer, had positively seen through his telescope a Martian engaged in digging a canal has not been denied.  The Professor's assistant has recently admitted that, owing to absentmindedness at the crucial moment, the venerable astronomer gazed through the wrong end of his instrument, and the object actually seen was a portrait of the late Mr. Gladstone felling a tree.

As Mars will not be within such close proximity to us for another 500 years, my next reference to this elusive planet will appear in our Special Summer Number, 2424.

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Posted from Newcastle-on-Tyne last December, a Christmas pudding has just been delivered to the consignee at Wandsworth Common.  Only three months more to wait!

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Autumn officially arrived early this last week, and it would be churlish of me to allow the Lovely Lady's advent to pass unhonoured and unsung.  Hence—

Autumn, with your tints so mellow,
You delight the artist fellow,
And inspire the poet chappy!
One in glowing colours limns you
In his rhymes both neat and happy.

Paints the artist all your charm in
Gold and purple, green and carmine,
Like the choicest old mosaics;
Sings the poet of your splendour
In iambics soft and tender.
Or in resonant trochaics.

I alas! am not artistic;
Rather, I'm materialistic;
Me, forsooth, there's no art-stuff in;
Hence to me your glad arrival
But suggest the prompt revival
Of the crumpet and the muffin!

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At a recent church bazaar in North London one of the competitions was "guessing the vicar's weight."  As a variation from the dear old game of guessing the curate's size in slippers it is very welcome.

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Being a centenarian seems to be a very healthy profession.  All of the members of it one reads about live to be at least 100 years old, and during the past fortnight I have read in the papers of no fewer that seven centenarians who have recently celebrated three-figure birthdays.  None of them, however, claims to have danced on the eve of Waterloo, although one, a venerable Scot, claims to have danced on one New Year's Eve on the platform of St. Pancras.  Not so very long ago people who claimed to be centenarians and had not danced at the famous ball were regarded as imposters, and this naturally led to much deception.  In order to be on the safe side centenarians began to remember dancing on the eves of Sedgemoor, Crecy, Agincourt, and the First Crusade.  But it was not until one ancient worthy claimed to have danced with Helen on the eve of the Trojan war that it was ruled that all centenarians must henceforth be prepared to produce their birth-certificates on demand, or, alternatively, to allow their teeth to be examined by a veterinary surgeon.

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A roach [a common fish species in England] with two distinct mouths has been caught by a pier-angle at Brighton.  Several married women have since been heard to say hard things about the favouritism displayed by Providence towards the piscatorial kingdom.

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An esteemed contemporary has recently started a new form of competition.  It is offering prizes for "smart savings" by the children of its readers—a very dangerous action, in my opinion, for naturally a parent's idea of a "smart savings" is deplorably biased, and I fear there will be an awful lot of heart-burning.  I can well imagine the feelings of the adoring mother who, having submitted the following anecdote, subsequently finds that it hasn't even been awarded a booby prize:—"At tea yesterday afternoon my husband happened to remark on the stagnant state of the Home Railway market, when our little Eric, aged only 3 months, at once exclaimed: 'Goo-glug-goo-glug-ik-id-goo-glug!'  Wasn't it bright and ducky of him?"

I foresee angry and disappointed mothers raiding the editorial offices and demanding the Competitions Editor's left ear on a butter-dish.

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A wealthy New York banker who has just celebrated his ninetieth birthday attributes his longevity to the fact that for over fifty years he has liberally partaken of braized onions every day.  Whether or not his contention be true, nobody can accuse the aged financier of having more money than scents.

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 17 November 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

Music lovers are going to be favoured with another "big noise" very shortly.  A French composer has just completed a symphony in which, for a special effect, he uses 20 typewriters.

This, of course, is good news for the manufacturers of typewriters, but our modern composers mustn't make a habit employing typewriters in their scores to the exclusion of other equally deserving machines, else there will be more Labour trouble.  Makers of lawn-mowers, fog-signals, milk carts, blasting power, steam hammers, dentist's tools, and other merchandize productive or provocative of noise, will be agitating for fair play and no favouritism.

At the same time, I am all in favour of composers introducing into their scores articles of commerce and utility which are not ordinarily employed in orchestras.  It's so good for trade; and ere long I hope to hear of symphonies composed which will contain important parts for such things as a beehive, an aqueduct, a glass eye, and a potato pie.

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A contemporary has recently published an instructive and illuminating article on how the motor car has affected modern life.  It would be even more helpful and interesting if somebody would kindly follow this up with a picturesque account of how the motor car has affected modern death.

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It is announce that an Italian scientist has invented an instrument for weighing and measuring the living human brain.  This should supply a long-felt want.  Hitherto, we have all too often had to take a man's bare word for it that he possesses a brain.  But in future, when we shall require to fill an important appointment under Government where the possession of brains, though not absolutely obligatory, is nevertheless advisable, it will be merely necessary to (1) thrust the candidate's head through hole A; (2) depress lever B, (3) observe dial C; and (4) either retain the gentleman or throw him out.

It seems, however, that this estimable invention has not met with universal approval.  For one, my friend, Professor Barmion Crumpett, F.Z.S, is very angry about it, and loudly asserts that if ever he is required to demonstrate his efficiency in this manner he'll take the opportunity to bite the machine in a vital spot.  He has lately, he tells me, started an agitation to have the inventor boiled in nitric acid, and in order to defray the expense thereof has been inviting subscriptions.  Most of the subscriptions, however, are declining the invitation.
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Several hundreds of novels have been destroyed by a fire which broke out last week in a circulating library in South London.  Considerable interest has since been exhibited in the neighborhood as to which novel set the others alight.

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The London Association has been issuing some very startling and informative facts concerning objects of interest in the metropolis.  For instance, it asserts that in the foundations of Cleopatra's Needle on the Embankment are deposited a man's evening suit, a packet of hairpins, and a baby's bottle.  In the light of this intelligence one can only surmise that the foundations of our other notable monoliths likewise contain similarly interesting objects, and it would not now surprise me to learn that beneath Nelson's Column there have been immured a pair of plus fours, a box of nose-powder, and a perambulator; and in the foundations of the Monument an opera-hat, a permanent wave, and a teething-powder.

**         **          **          **

A pelican which recently escaped from a travelling menagerie was unsuccessfully tackled by five different men before a sixth effected its capture.  This is no reflection on the unsuccessful five.  Indeed, it is to their credit.  Like the majority of men, they obviously had a commendable dislike of coming before the beak.

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A prominent literary critic has been bewailing the fact that since the days of Robert Burns there has arisen no great Scots poet who has given us any true poetry written in the native dialect.

What!  Has he never heard of Ashley Angus McPibroch Sterne, of the firm of Caledonia, Sterne, and Wild, who, if he be not a Scot by birth, is at any rate three-quarters Scotch by absorption.  Let me quote you a verse or two from his celebrated poem, "The Flowerpotter's Saturday Afternoon."  On first reading it, Mr. Edmund Cosse is reported to have  said that Burns himself never wrote anything approaching it.  But judge for yourselves:

O, sonsie ga' the bannock ama'
On histie gleg and baffy;
An aiblins dree mak' muckle greo
Wi' snickle and wi' daffy.
But wha can ken the hawkie ben
Lang syne by ilka glaney?
And wha can droup the auld pint scoup
Sae weel as Bonnie Janey?

The baps maun blae, the keekin' spae
Aboon the laithfu' huchty;
And yawes maun cleg the philabeg
Frae Nairn to Auchtermuchty!
But swarty globs wi' scrimpit clobs
Nae reave the lug sae blaney,
That snowkie goops wi' mogs and snoops
Can fa' in lo'o wi' Janey!

O, crockit gang the kail alang,
And stickit gang the crottle!
And hoolie blaw the birkies braw
On drouthy steek and dottle!
Come ilka weird, come ilka feird
Wi' mony a gowling graney–
But weel or ill, through tat and till,
I'll aye be smick to Janey!

Beyond the fact that on the produce-market last night aiblins closed slightly firmer, the above poem requires no explanation.

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Carlyle's "Sartor Resartus" has been translated into Chinese.  Smith Minor, who has just received it as a school prize, states, however, that it's in Chinese already.

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A correspondent writes to ask me if I am aware that men with whiskers are more susceptible than clean-shaven men to infectious disease.  I didn't know it; but it sounds quite reasonable, and anyway it serves them right.  The letter, however, has served to inspire me with an idea.  Items of this nature are always acceptable to readers of the newspapers, and hence I have very kindly arranged to introduce a new feature this week entitled:

Things We Ought To Know

Mont Blanc is precisely 8,496 miles from Pernambuco.

If kept in captivity, pearl oysters won't sing.

In parts of Central Asia the week contains no Tuesday.  There are, however, two Wednesdays.

If there were no London, there would be no biggest city in the world.

Humming-birds have no wisdom-teeth.

A pound of feathers weighs exactly the same.

The distinction between a snake and a serpent is that the latter is spelt differently.

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 24 November 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

The latest despatches from the Feminine Fashion front brings us the disturbing tidings that once again woman's waist is to be shifted—this time to somewhere in the neighbourhood of her knees.  All I can say is that if I were a woman I should strongly protest against having my anatomy messed about like this, and should insist upon the fashion-experts keeping my waist where Nature put it.  Within my own memory it was once under the arms; now it's round the knees; and to-morrow it will be round the ankles.  In a week or so waists will be washed out altogether, and be carried in a bag suspended from the wrist.

From the male point of view these constant changes in female geography are most confusing.  When you take a girl dancing your are never certain from one day to another where her waist may have been shifted to overnight, and it's positively hateful to be coldly informed, when you go to clasp her for the first foxtrot, that her meridian has been transferred from her hips to her shoulder-blades.

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In spite of the statements which have appeared in the newspapers, there still seems to be considerable doubt as to whether or not Professor di Martino-Fusco has found the 129 books of Livy.  Historians are earnestly hoping that he has; British schoolboys are fervently praying that he hasn't, or that, if he has, the Professor will have the sportsmanship to keep them to himself.  My readers may remember that some few months ago I drew their attention to the agitation set up by schoolboys when Professor Pifflinger Rottenbleiter, of Potztausend, announced his discovery of one of the missing books of Euclid.  What will happen when (and if) Professor di Martino-Fusco disgorges over a hundred new Latin works, of which no "crib" is available, can only be dimly surmised.  Personally, I should never be surprised to learn that the boys were getting up a petition to the Prime Minister, urging that the translation of Livy into English should be made a penal offence, and that schoolmasters breaking the law should be mulcted [fined] in very substantial damages.  Look out, then, for the Capital Livy!  [a capital levy is a tax on property]

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A well-know short-story writer has been suggesting that, in view of modern development, the Seven Wonders of the World ought to be revised.  I quite agree.  It's no good perpetuating a set of Wonders which are quite obsolete, and I hope the League of Nations, at their next shareholders' meeting, will have this important matter on the agenda-paper.  Meanwhile, I offer the following suggestions, which I trust will prove helpful:

(1)  Instead of the Pyramids, Bass's brewery;

(2)  instead of the Tomb of Mausolus, Uncle Tom's Cabin;

(3)  instead of the Temple of Diana, Mary Pickford's villa at Hollywood;

(4)  instead of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the scenic railway at Wembley;

(5)  instead of the Colossus at Rhodes, Jackie Coogan;

(6)  instead of the Statue of Jupiter Olympus, the Albert Memorial; and

(7)  instead of the Pharos at Alexandria, a bottle of pre-war whisky.

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At a recent ratepayers' meeting in a rural suburb, a speaker got so abusive that someone in the audience suggested that he should be thrown into the village horse-pond.  Though I sincerely deprecate the speaker's unruly behaviour, I nevertheless feel that there is nothing to be gained by casting our ill-bred upon the waters.

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I am delighted to read that 1924 is going to be a "vintage" year in the wine-growing industry.  I only wish somebody would inform me who or what decides whether the wine of a particular year shall be "vintage" or not.  Is there an Amalgamated Union of Black and White Grapes which settles the question, or do the wine-growers toss for it, or canvas the vines, or what?  Be that as it may, there are three certain facts about "vintage" wine which serve to differentiate it from the ordinary sort which tastes so much like copying-ink: (1) you always have to pay double for it in a restaurant; (2) it is invariably decanted behind a screen by the waiter; and (3) at least a third of it mysteriously evaporates in the process.

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Many visitors to the seaside this last summer, disappointed with the execrable weather, have been heard to remark that next year they will stay at home.  This isn't a very optimistic determination, but I think I know just how they are feeling about it.  Let me, then, with all suitable apologies to Mr. John Masefield, sum up the situation in a few verses entitled

SEAPEOPIA

I shan't go down to the seas again!
I'm sick of the running tide;
And I don't care a blow for Felixstowe,
Margate, St. Leonard's, or Ryde.

The wheel's kick and the whale's way
Don't cut any ice with me;
Nor the wind's song and the flung spray
When the temperature's forty-three.

The blown spume and the grey mist
May be all jolly fine for John;
But the blown spume plays a different tune
When you've only thin trousers on.

In short, the wind, the spray, the spume,
and the never-ending rain
Have filled my cup; I'm quite fed up,
So I shan't go down again!

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On coming unexpectedly into a fortune, a Somersetshire farmer immediately bought a linen collar—a thing he had never previously worn.  It is when his stud first rolls under the chest of drawers that he will begin to grow cynical about the advantages of wealth—or else send his valet out for a pint of studs.

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A Member of Parliament in a recent speech wherein he criticised our legislative methods concluded by describing the House of Commons  as "a mere sausage machine."  I wouldn't go so far as to say that; but I am quite prepared to admit that some of the ingredients of the present House are decidedly pawky [sly or crafty].

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A serious fire was caused in a Boston bakery the other day by a cat which knocked over a kerosene lamp.  That's the worst of these animals with nine lives: they're so frightfully extravagant with them.

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