Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ashley Sterne Mixed Grill September 1924


Here are four installments of Ashley Sterne's Mixed Grill from September 1924.


Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 6 September 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

Naturally those of my readers who are starting for their summer holidays this week-end would like to know what sort of weather to expect during the next few weeks.  I fear the prospects are not very cheering.  By courtesy of the Meteorologer Royal I have been enabled personally to examine his instruments for August.  From my inspection I gather that there is a violent motor-cyclone half-way across the Atlantic heading straight for Blackpool, where it will probably burst.  A couple of fierce isobars, which haven't had anything to eat for a month, are hiding behind one of the Outer Hebrides, and may loose off at any moment; while a typhoon has escaped from the Malay Archipelago and is clearly meditating a frontal attack on Bognor.  There is also an ugly-looking secondary depression developing over Wigan which threatens to deluge that popular health resort with water-spouts.  The behaviour of the seismograph seemed to indicate that Snowdon and Phlinlimmon will shortly be in eruption.  There will, however, be occasional bright intervals.

**          **          **          **          **

A friend of mine who owns a motor launch recently set out with a party from Ilfracombe to Lundy Island, but was unable to land his guests owing to the phenomenally rough sea.  Clearly one of those very sad cases of sick transit gloria Lundy.

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Dame Clara Butt, I read, possesses a Pekinese which sings.  Not just wow-wow-wow on the monotone, mark you, but real melodies.  So interested was I on reading the account of this animal wonder that I asked the eminent musical critic and my good friend—Dr. D. Doubleflatt, if he could offer any explanation of this remarkable precocity.

He told me that all animals have far greater musical capabilities than most people imagine, and instanced the case of a couple of piping bullfinches which he once owned.  By dint of patient training he taught one to sing correctly the part of Marguerite in "Faust"; but not content with this achievement he then proceeded to teach the other bullfinch to sing bass, with the idea of its ultimately memorising the part of Mephistopheles.  Unfortunately, however, in attempting to take a low F sharp one day the unhappy bird swallowed its tonsils, with the result that shortly afterwards it died of thrush.

**          **          **          **          **

Following upon my remarks a fortnight ago concerning the Boston bride and bridegroom who were married in tennis costume, I now read of another couple down Texas way who have given each other revolvers as wedding presents.  I rather fancy Shakespeare foresaw something of this sort when he wrote of "taking up arms against a sea of troubles."

**          **          **          **          **

We have got a new game at our club.  Some of us young bloods foregather in one of the bow windows (specially built to accommodate the Stout Set's tummies) and try to spot overseas visitors.

For the purpose of the game we have decided that:

a man wearing snub-nosed shoes and working his lower jaw is an American (scoring 1 point),

a man followed by either a Bombay duck or a mongoose is an Indian (3 points),

a man wearing a diamond tie-pin the size of a decanter-stopper is from the Cape (2 points),

a man with hearth-rugs sewn on the seams of his trousers and hat like a wedding cake is a Mexican (5 points),

a man carrying a paper umbrella and wearing a goldfish in his button-hole is a Japanese (3 points), and

a man carrying his lunch in a bottle is a Scots-Canadian (0.5 point).

The winner of the game is, of course, the player who scores the greatest number of points in a given time.  Yesterday I won the pool by scoring 12.5 points in five minutes.  No visitors passed until just on time, when I had the good fortune to spot 25 Scots-Canadians simultaneously.  They were all sharing the same taxicab.

**          **          **          **          **

The librarian of the public library which I patronise tells me that he has just received back a book which someone had retained for over three years.  I forgot to enquire the title of the book, but on thinking the matter over I strongly suspect it was one of the shorter novels of Hall Caine.

**          **          **          **          **

A MAIDEN TO HER FRECKLES

(evoked by reading in a ladies' magazine that freckles
make some plain girls look positively pretty)

Wee brown disc upon my nose,
How I cherish you!
All amongst the milk-and-rose,
You're a joy to view!
Though some think you prove unsightly,
Yet I welcome you politely.

I'd not have you fade away,
For I hold you dear;
And while on my nose you stay,
Little need I fear
That the gift of beauty's missed me,
Since you show the sun has kissed me.

**          **          **          **          **

I cull the following from the advertisement columns of an industrial paper: —

"LIVE SALESMAN wants agencies."

If he were only dead I could recommend him two: harps and coke.

**          **          **          **          **

The annual controversy is now raging with all its accustomed ferocity over the type of book to take away with us for holiday-reading.  Personally I have but little leisure for reading while on holiday.  I am far too buy collecting a bronze complexion and a vermillion neck.  But I always take a Bradshaw [Bradshaw's Railway Timetables] away with me, not merely for reference, but for desultory perusal when I can manage to secure a few spare moments.  In its way it makes just an entertaining an exciting reading as a novel.

Take the adventure of the 2.5. from London to Wolverhampton, for instance.  It hasn't started ten minutes before it runs into a solid block of ink just beyond Willesden; but apparently it suffers no damage, for it arrives at Leighton Buzzard a quarter of an hour before it started from London!  From Bletchley onwards to Rugby it runs on Saturdays only, so if you are travelling on a Monday you have four clear days in which to examine the superb works of art which decorate the walls of the Bletchley waiting-room.

And the funny part of the whole thing is that the 2.5. never gets to Wolverhampton at all!  It gets as far as Walsall, where it collides with another block of ink, and its future career is merely indicated by a hideously suggestive row of dots......

Did Edgar Allan Poe ever write anything more enthralling?

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 13 September 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

As I write the Scottish festival threatens.  On Tuesday next the perfume of the bonnie purple heather will be mingled with the odours of whiskey and haggis, while to the song of the Scotch woodcock will be added the joyous cries of "yoicks!" and "tally-ho!" uttered by the intrepid grouse-hunters when the grouse-hounds successfully unearth a bird and put it up.

In the towns, extraordinary activity will prevail from an early hour among the game-dealers, for the stock left over from last season will have to be extracted from the refrigerators, and thoroughly well thawed and massaged (to get the wrinkles out) before being despatched to the restaurants as "shot this morning—by aeroplane service from Perthshire."

Personally, I'm not much of a hand at eating grouse.  I find great difficulty in cutting one up within the small confines of my plate, and I usually end by losing it under the table.  Once, while attempting to tackle a particularly elusive bird at the Savoy, it slipped from my grasp and shot straight up into the lap of a choleric-looking Anglo-Indian colonel seated opposite me.  "Confound you, sir!" he ejaculated, testily.  "You might at least have the humanity to see that your bird is dead before you attempt to disintegrate it!"

**          **          **          **          **

I am wondering whether there is any truth in the rumour that Mr. C.B. Cochran contemplates organising a Rodeo for Ford cars next summer.  If there is (and I hope there is), I shall certainly enter mine.  I bought it as a ten-year-old for seven-and-six at a Government Disposals Board sale in 1919, but, though I have tried to tame it by consistent kindness for the last five years, it still bucks whenever I try to drive it in public.  So often have I been chucked through the wind-screen that at last I've got a glazier to cut me out a permanent exit in the glass, and so perfect has constant practice made me in doing the hole in one that I'm going to try for a job as a harlequin [acrobat] next Christmas.

**          **          **          **          **

It has been proposed to arrange a championship meeting of deaf golfers.  I hope this will materialise, as I have longed to know whether deaf golfers practise the "keep your ear on the bawl" theory.

**          **          **          **          **

The foreshores of our south and south-east coast watering-places, I hear, are so crowded with aspirants for Channel-swimming honours rehearsing that the ordinary visitors desirous of just having a plain dip are complaining that there is no room for them.  A man I know, an enthusiastic sea-bather stood in a queue at Southend for eight hours the other day, but when he eventually managed to get on to the congested beach he found that the tide had gone out.  He couldn't see it anywhere, but, reluctant to abandon his favourite pastime, he at once chartered a taxicab, and went off in search of the coy fluid.  He ultimately found it at Dungeness on the other side of the estuary.  Here he had his bathe, but owning to the dense mass of potential channel-swimmers in the water there was not room for him to stoop and duck his head, with the result that he has now got sunstroke all along his parting.

**          **          **          **          **

There is a superstition in Sweden that if a girl loves cats she will have a sunny wedding-day.  In our treacherous climate, however, it is scarcely advisable to postpone loving cats till the eve of the ceremony.

**          **          **          **          **

A Munich firm of glass bottle manufacturers have had so prosperous a year that they have raised the wages of their workers twenty per cent.  This in turn should result in a substantial increase in the demand for glass bottles.

**          **          **          **          **

The Post Office Guide, I note, gives "Lamb" as the official telegraphic abbreviation for Lambeth, a circumstance which leads me to think that perhaps it is just as well that Damascus is outside the administrative sphere of the G.P.O.

**          **          **          **          **

It is good news to learn that the threatened strike of laundrywomen, which has been hanging over the heads of the dwellers in my suburb like the sword of D—ocles, will probably not come off.  This, I am credibly informed, is because the iron is not yet hot, for which one must be thankful.  At the same time, I hope they'll make it hot enough to finish off my other shirt to-day, for on Monday I am starting for Mudbaden to take the waters (and anything else I can lay my hands on), and I shouldn't like to turn up at this fashionable spa looking like a tramp juggler.

Be that as it may, I don't think I should want to strike if I were a laundrywoman.  Whatever grievance I might harbour I should feel amply compensated by the pleasure afforded in wrenching off buttons, slitting up buttonholes, tearing trimming, and sorting out the garments in such a manner that they will get returned to the wrong people.  Which reminds me that the man next door has been swanking about in my tennis trousers for the last five weeks.  I haven't claimed them yet because, if I did, I should feel in honour bound to hand him over my study window-curtains.  For a long time past he tells me, his wife has been wondering what on earth has become of her two lace petticoats.

**          **          **          **          **

I regret to see that a publican has been prosecuted for selling beer which on analysis proved to have been diluted with no less than thirty per cent. of coloured water.  In comment thereon I would say to the deluded customer:—

Live and learn, be not deject!
Life is full of pitfalls,
Which we often don't suspect
Till the penal writ falls.

All things, says the proverb, lad,
Aren't of gold that glitter;
And to this I'd merely add,
All's not beer that's bitter!

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 20 September 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

I arrived at Mudbaden last Tuesday morning.  On the platform were the Mayor and Corporation, the Mace Bearer, the Nutmeg Bearer, the Sword Swallower, and Town band.  But I was much disappointed to find that they hadn't come to meet me.  They were off to unveil a new chalybeate [iron-rich mineral water] pump-room at Dischwasser, and outlying suburb.  The ticket-collector was the only individual who displayed any interest in my arrival, and he got very peevish when I inadvertently hand him, instead of my ticket, Old Furniture Series No. XVI—Jacobean Roll-top Desk.

I have placed myself under the care of the famous physician, Dr. Adam Schwindel, who created such a sensation in medical circles a short while ago by isolating the bacillus of knock-knees.  My cure, I understand, will only be of very short duration, about ten days, as the writer's cramp from which I am suffering proves on diagnosis to be of the shorthand variety (Pitman system) and the Jackson's Upright, as I had once feared.  Next Thursday, then I hope to start by the short sea-route for Switzerland.

**          **          **          **          **

The first grouse of the season to reach London, I read, fetched ten shillings each.  Intelligent birds!  The best my dog can do is to fetch my slippers.

**          **          **          **          **

In the first number of "Mixed Grill" which appeared I drew attention to the fact that this August would find the planet Mars at its nearest point to the earth.  This happy event is due to come off next Friday (22nd), when Mars will be only 34,500,000 miles distant from us.  By a singular coincidence (my friend, Prof. Starr Studyer, informs me) the earth will be precisely the same distance away from Mars.  Asked if he could offer any helpful remarks to amateur astronomers on this unique occasion, the Professor, after some minutes of profound meditation, requested me to warn them against leaning out of their windows at the moment of closest proximity.  He explained that an error of 34 or 35 million miles in astronomical calculations was a matter of common occurrence; was, in fact, thought nothing of at the works; but he would nevertheless hate to feel that through want of a word or two of caution someone might get a whack over the head from Mars' South Pole as that planet whizzed by.

**          **          **          **          **

I note that amongst the recent petitions filed in bankruptcy is one of the plumber.  Well, it is interesting at last to hear of something which a plumber will file without going back to the shop to fetch his mate.

**          **          **          **          **

I have just learned from one of the Continental papers that a South American explorer, who has passed two years in the country of the Upper Amazon, claims to have discovered a ruined city of great antiquity containing many features similar to those found among the ruins of Ancient Egypt.  I shall be very curious to hear what comments on this discovery will be passed by that eminent Egytologist and antiquarian, Prof. Piffinger Rottenbleiter of Potzausend.  He, I know, has long held the theory that Antony and Cleopatra undertook a theatrical tour through North and South America, "starring" in Shakespeare's play called—curiously enough—by their names.  This latest discover certainly seems to lend support to the learned gentleman's contention.

**          **          **          **          **

A Temperance advocate suggests the use of ammonia instead of brandy in attacks of faintness.  No information is to hand, however, as to whether he goes so far as to suggest petrol instead of brandy for pouring over the Christmas pudding.

**          **          **          **          **

Some of the more senile readers may possibly recall that it was Prof. Rottenbleiter who, in 1872, whilst delving in the Assyrian desert to try and find the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, electrified the archaeological world by excavating the original carpet on the fold of which Byron's Assyrian came down like a wolf.  Its identity was placed beyond dispute by the simultaneous finding, underneath the said carpet, of a small but chaste cohert [?] exquisitely enamelled in purple and gold.

**          **          **          **          **

Glancing through the published list of guests at a recent fashionable wedding I noted the names of Gray, Brown, White, and Green.  I forbear to quote further.  The names of the rest of the guest may be taken as read.

**          **          **          **          **

A well-know writer has expressed the view that most modern young women are nine parts affectation to one part affection.  Hence I arise in my righteous wrath, foaming at both ears, and, brandishing my good umbrella Joyeuso about my head, declaim: —

Who is Sylvia?  what is she
     That madly I adore her,
Fav'ring her to Cecily,
     Rosalys, or Flora?

Is she loving? is she kind?
     Has she aught about her
That I settle in my mind
     I can't live without her?

Think!  her love's but one poor part,
     While nine are affectations!
Is such tithe of maiden heart
     Worth consideration?

Aye; no qualms my rapture mar,
     For I've long suspected
Sylvia's affectations are
     One and all affected!

**          **          **          **          **

I am sure that all readers who take an interest in Pullman cricket (as distinct from, and superior to, first-class cricket) will rejoice to hear that my batting average has advanced from .000 to .001.  I completed the thousandth innings of my life shortly before leaving England, and I have at last gained the coveted distinction of making a run—the first of my career.  I had some thoughts of having my run stuffed and put in a glass case, but I hear it rumoured that my Club—the Battersea Bingers—wish to give me a little souvenir of their own.  In celebration of my masterly achievement they are going to have the telegraph-board mounted in oxidised spelter, and present it to me at a congratulatory luncheon to be given at the whelk-barrow at the corner of Tottenham Court Road.

The funny part of the affair is that, strictly speaking, I never scored the run at all.  It was a leg-bye.  However, the scorers put it down as a run, and as such it must necessarily stand.

Why am I so certain (you ask) that my recorded hit was only an extra?  Well, it's like this.  So accustomed have I grown to getting out first ball that, on the occasion in question, I didn't bother to carry my bat to the wicket.

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 27 September 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

I am writing these notes this week in Switzerland, whither I have come as usual after finishing my annual cure for writer's cramp at Mudbaden.  The cramp, I am glad to say, has yielded to the mud poultices and diet of Frankfurt sausage, Limburger cheese, and pickled cauliflower prescribe for me by the consulting physician, Dr. Adam Schwindel, and hence my MSS. no longer requires to be deciphered in the editorial offices by means of the Rosetta stone and Lieber's code.

Every summer I come to Switzerland to attend the annual Yodelling Eisteddfod and to witness the celebrations connected with the milk-chocolate harvest; as also to pursue my investigations concerning the present whereabouts of the famous Swiss Family Robinson, whom I have always been anxious to meet ever since I first read of their adventures in their wonderful tropic isle.  Particularly desirous am I to ask Pa Robinson how it was that, despite the fact that the island boasted specimens of every other animal known to zoology, he discovered no giraffes there.  I can only imagine that they had taken to burrowing and adopted strictly nocturnal habits.

**          **          **          **          **

The gentleman, who on emerging from the sea on to the beach at Cape Griz-Nez last Monday claimed to have swum the Channel in the record time of seven hours, now admits that he had one foot on the bottom all the way.

**          **          **          **          **

I am always interested in the letters which people write to their pet daily newspapers, especially during the Silly Season, now in full song, when there is always a singular lack of topics of any but the most ephemeral interest.  My own paper, just to hand, contains a heartrending jeremiad from dear old Constant Reader, who bitterly complains that sun-bitten sufferers from red noses at the seaside have to put up with much sarcastic and ill-mannered comment from their unafflicted fellow-visitors.  Let me anoint the victim with a little balm of Gilead:—

Noses, noses all the way
Along the greenbacked sea-route!
Roman, Grecian, snub, and splay,
But all as red as beetroot;

Causing other folks to stare
Whose nibs have not changed colour,
Or, if they have, they merely bear
A hue a trifle duller.

Constant Reader, don't repine
If you a rufous nose own
We know it isn't caused by wine
Or spirits, but by ozone!

**          **          **          **          **

Talking about red noses, an American doctor has written a monograph defending the use of cosmetics, especially in summer-time when, he argues, the skin of the face needs some protection from the rays of the sun.

Hitherto I have always understood that the habit of using cosmetics was injurious; but Doc.'s monograph would appear to put an entirely different complexion upon the matter.

**          **          **          **          **

I have induced my old college chum, Dr. Feign Crank, to write yet another of his remarkable uplift talks for me, and herewith I have much pleasure in presenting my readers with an inspiring little homily entitled—

BE BIG!

Life is full of big things—big noises, big boots, big bugs, big heads and bigots.  And if you, too, would be bit you must, firstly, think big—think imperially, think continentally, think hemispherically, think solar-systematically!  If England is what she is to-day (and I feel sure she is), it is because her big men have never hesitated to think big whenever they have had big thoughts to think.

Secondly, talk big.  Assess yourself at what you think you are worth.  Don't take another man's word for it.  He is probably as big a liar as you are.

Thirdly, live big.  Take a big house at Biggleswade.  Marry a big woman (or, better still, marry two and become a bigamist), rear a big family, and keep a big dog.  Have men about you that are big.  Wear big, baggy bags.

And finally, die big.  Die of mumps, swollen head, anything big.  Leave behind you a big fortune or else big debts.  Bury yourself in Westminster Abbey, or even the Crystal Palace,which is bigger; and a big-hearted nation will mark with a big granite tombstone the grave of a durned big gink.

**          **          **          **          **

I have to tender my best thanks to the unknown friend who so kindly addressed a brace of grouse to my home last week.  Unfortunately, (writes my butler—which her name is Jemima Miggs) they arrived so badly mangled and in so advanced a stage of decomposition that she had no alternative but to send them for the use of invalids in the local infirmary.

**          **          **          **          **

The following new books have been sent me for review, but as I am at the moment suffering from snowblindness caused through eating an ice without taking the precaution to don my tinted spectacles, I am compelled to postpone detailed criticism to a more suitable opportunity: —

Shoulder of Mutton: a Romance, by Allover Onions.
Henry Ford: a Biography, by Micah Rattles.
The Bunion's Progress: by Wright Foote.
Red Phosphorus: by Lucy Fermatch.
Margarine and Lather: Poems, by May Pole.
The Sublime Porte, by Titus. A. Fidler.
Do or Dye!, by Lady Twink.
Hankerings of a Heavy Heart: by Eva Syghe.

**          **          **          **          **

A man recently committed to prison for smashing six plate-glass windows was stated by a detective to possess a positive genius for destructive crimes.  This would seem to bear out Carlyle's contention that genius is an infinite capacity for breaking panes.

**          **          **          **          **

ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS

M.I.C.E.—No; no method has yet been devised for utilising, for industrial purposes, the power generated by electric eels.

R.A.T.S.—The poet you mention was probably born on some 1st April.  He will probably die by violence on some near 5th November.

P.M.G.—Christmas puddings for Easter Island must be posted not later than Shrove Tuesday; Easter eggs for Christmas Island not later that Lifeboat Saturday.

Ronald.—A painless and reliable cure for warts is to bow three times to the new moon.

Minerva.—Yes, crochetwork necklaces are quite fashionable now.  Here is a recipe for one of the simpler designs: 1 pearl, 1 chain.

M.U.G. —If your neighbour annoys you by practising the ocarina, don't inform the police; start learning the bagpipes.



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