Monday, September 17, 2012

Ashley Sterne Punch Articles Part 4

Here are the final three articles submitted by Ashley Sterne to Punch in 1914.  In searching the Project Gutenberg Punch volumes for 1916, 1917, 1919, and 1920, I did not find any other articles submitted by Ashley Sterne to Punch.  After 1914 he found other outlets for his comic writing, contributing to London Opinion, Passing Show, and Tit-bits.  His articles in these journals were often republished as comic filler in the colonial newspapers of Australia and New Zealand.

I suspect that one reason Ashley Sterne might have stopped submitting to Punch was that Punch did not provide by-lines for its humor articles.  The only way to determine the authors of specific articles was to wait until the last edition of the volume (in June or December) and check the index.  This hindered an author from developing a following. 

Vol. 147 (Jul – Dec 1914)
A Rash Assumption, p.473   [Dec 9, 1914]

A Christmas Present for the Queen, p.483  [Dec 9, 1914]
Too Much Notice, p.526  [December 23, 1914]



By Ashley Sterne


On the morning of November 27th I awoke to find my chest covered with a pretty pink pattern. It blended so well with the colour of my pyjama-jacket that for some minutes I was lost in admiration of the pleasing effect. Then it occurred to me that coming diseases cast their rashes before them, and I sprang from the bed in an agony of apprehension. I rushed to the mirror and opened my mouth to look at my tongue. There it was. I took some of it out. It looked quite healthy, so I put it back again. Then I gazed long and earnestly down my throat. It was quite hollow as usual. Next I got the clinical thermometer and sucked it for quite a long time. When I removed it I saw my temperature was about 86. Then I found I was reading it upside down and that I was only normal. I felt disappointed. After that I tried my pulse. It took me some time to locate it, but it hadn't run down; it was still going quite regularly—andante ma non troppo, two beats in the bar. I whistled "Tipperary" to it, and it kept perfect time.

But still the rash remained. It would neither get out nor get under. I felt perfectly well, and yet I knew I must be ill. I could not understand the complete absence of other symptoms.

At last a bright idea struck me. It was just possible that I might refuse food. I knew that would be a symptom. At any rate I would go down to breakfast and see. I dressed rapidly; I simply tore my clothes on to me. I shaved hastily; I literally tore the whiskers out of me. Then I tore down-stairs.

On the table was an egg. I removed the lid and looked inside. It was full of evil odours. I refused it. Then I knew for certain I was ill. I tore back to my bedroom and tore off my clothes. I unshaved. I tumbled into bed and tried hard to shiver. I tried so hard that I perspired. As I was really ill I knew that I had to get hot and cold alternately ever so many times. I did my best to live up to all the symptoms I had ever heard of. I tried to get delirious and talk nonsense, but I failed ignominiously. How I cursed my public school education!

In my extremity I even endeavoured to imagine that I saw things which were not there....

And then I saw something which really was there. It was my pin-cushion. It looked unusually crowded even for a pin-cushion, and I got out of bed to investigate the matter closer. I counted forty-five—yes, forty-five—little flags, and then memory came back to me. The previous day I had bought forty-five miniature Belgian flags at one time and another during the day. Each charming but inexperienced vendor had insisted on pinning my purchase wherever there happened to be an unoccupied space on my manly (thanks to my tailor) bosom. I remembered being conscious of a prickly sensation on each occasion, but I attributed it to rapturous thrills running about the region of my heart.

To make sure that my explanation was correct I went once again to the mirror and hastily counted my rash. There were forty-five of it!




By Ashley Sterne


A few days ago, when sitting in Committee on ways and means in the matter of Christmas presents, Joan and I made out that the extra taxes which we should be called upon to disgorge this year would amount to £3 16s. 1d.

"That's curious!" Joan remarked, comparing our calculation with some figures on another slip of paper before her. "Isn't three pounds sixteen and a penny half of seven pounds twelve and twopence?"

"It is," I admitted. "But why?"

"Because last year," said Joan, "our Christmas presents cost us exactly seven pounds twelve and twopence. In other words it means that we can only afford—owing to the extra taxes—to spend half that sum on presents this year."

I nodded.

"Well," continued Joan, "I have a splendid idea. Our folk, I know, won't expect proper presents this year. How would it be if we—"

"I know what you mean," I chimed in. "Give them half-presents! Half a lace scarf to your mother, one fur glove only to your father, afternoon-tea saucers to Aunt Emma, a Keats Calendar for 182½ days to Uncle Peter, kilt-lengths instead of dress-lengths to Cook and Phoebe, and so on, all with promissory notes for the balance attached."

"I don't mean anything of the sort," said Joan. "We shall give no half-presents. We shall give one whole present where it will be needed far more than by our relations. It will have a face-value of three pounds sixteen and a penny, but virtually it will represent a sum of seven pounds twelve and twopence."

I coughed a sceptic's cough.

"You don't believe me," said Joan. "Now, will you be content to give me, here and now, a cheque for three pounds sixteen and a penny, and credit your conscience with double that sum? Will you be willing to leave its disposal to me if I guarantee that that shall be the full extent of your liability?"

"Absolutely!" I replied with enthusiasm. "Can't you arrange to settle the rates, the electric-light bill and the coal bill on the same terms?"

"No," said Joan gravely, "my principle only applies to presents. Here's your cheque-book and here's my fountain-pen."

"What is your principle?" I asked as I meekly complied with her demand.

"What did Mr. Asquith say in 1912?" was all the answer Joan vouchsafed, so I decided to follow that eminent statesman's advice and wait and see.

*          *          *          *

When I came down to breakfast two days later Joan passed me The Times. "Read that," she said, indicating a paragraph in the "Personal" column marked in pencil.

"The Chancellor of the Exchequer," I read out, "acknowledges the receipt of two pounds and three shillings conscience-money from—"

"Oh! I've marked the wrong paragraph," exclaimed Joan. "It's the one underneath." Then I saw—

"The Hon. Treasurer of the Queen's 'Work for Women' Fund, 33, Portland Place, W., gratefully acknowledges the receipt of Treasury notes and postal orders to the value of £3 16s. 1d. forwarded by an anonymous donor."

When I looked up Joan was smiling significantly.

"Very nice," I commented, "but I see they've only acknowledged the original amount I gave you. I thought you were going to double it."

"And so I have," said Joan. "He (or she) gives twice who gives quickly."




By Ashley Sterne


I decided to go home by bus. My season-ticket had expired painlessly the previous day, and twice already that morning I had had to satisfy the curiosity of the railway officials as to my name and address. Although I had explained to them that I was on half-salary and promised to renew business relations with the company as soon as the War was over or Uncle Peter died—whichever event happened first—they simply would not listen to me, and hence my decision to adopt some other means of transport. I signalled to a bus to stop, and, as the driver, seeing my signal, at once put on his top speed, I just managed to fling myself on to the spring-board as the vehicle tore past.

I ran up to the first storey, and sat down in the front seat. Then I took out my cigarette-case and was about to light a cigarette when a printed notice caught my eye—


If the notice had been put a little less politely I should have ignored it; but I can refuse nothing to those who are kind to me, so I refrained from lighting up, and contented myself with looking round to see if there was a rear seat vacant. There wasn't. A cluster of happy, smoking faces confronted me. I turned round again, and wished I had learnt to take snuff.

"Cheer-o, Bert!" said a refined voice just behind my ear, and at the same moment a walking-stick playfully tapped the head of the young fellow sitting next to me. My neighbour faced about, kicked me on the shin, dug the point of his umbrella into my calf, knocked off my pince-nez with his newspaper, and spread himself over the back of the seat.

"'Allo, Alf!" he said. "Thought it must 've been you. Look 'ere, I want to see you—"

"Perhaps," I interrupted, "your friend would like to change places with me. Then you can scrutinise him at your ease—and mine."

"You're a sport," remarked Bert.

He spoke truly. Little did he guess he was addressing a Double-Blue—bowls and quoits. Alf and I changed places, and my attention at once became absorbed by a notice headed


I had just reached the exciting part when two girls arrived on the landing.

"There aren't two together; we shall have to divide," I heard one say.

"Excuse me," I said, rising. "Don't divide. I'll get into a single seat if you care to take this double one."

I was rewarded with the now almost obsolete formula of "Thank you," and moved a seat further back. Here I found some fresh reading material provided for me in the shape of a notice to the effect that


When I had probed its beauties to the utmost depth I again turned round to see if there was a vacant seat among the smokers. To my joy I saw one. Quickly I rose and hastened to secure it, but at the same moment the bus turned a sharp corner and I sustained a violent blow on the back of my head which left me half-stunned.

The conductor, who had just appeared on deck to collect fares, helped me to my feet. Then he rounded on me.

"Why don't you read the notices?" he said by way of peroration. "Then it wouldn't've 'appened."

"The notices?" I repeated, handing him my fare. "I've done nothing else but read notices ever since I got on this wretched reading-room. I know where I may smoke and where I may not. I know that I must beware of pickpockets, and I know that I mustn't waggle my arms over the side-rails. Further, I have read Mr. Pinkerton's personal assurance that his Pills are the Best. If I'd had more time I daresay I should have worked my passage to the notice you refer to. I haven't reached it yet."

"Look 'ere," said the conductor, thrusting me into the vacant smoker's seat and pointing with what I at first took to be a saveloy [sausage], but which upon closer inspection proved to be his fore-finger, "what does that say?—


There nar. Some of you blokes never look any farther than the end of your noses."

"Then if I had your nose," I retorted, "I should need a telescope to see even as far as that."

I was much disappointed that, just as I got to the caustic part, the exigencies of his profession demanded that he should punch six tickets in rapid succession. My repartee was consequently drowned amid a perfect carillon of bells. But meanwhile I had found another notice—


It was a friendly and sensible notice, for, to tell the truth, I was beginning to feel afraid of a bus that carried so much free literature. It could not hope to be a thoroughly reliable bus and a library at the same time. I therefore determined to forfeit several divisions of my ticket, and give my "season" one more chance. I got up and struck the bell once. As the driver didn't know it was just an ordinary passenger that struck it he pulled up immediately. I had got halfway down the staircase when somebody—it must have been that offensive conductor—gave the game away, for the bus jerked badly and started off again at a rare pace. So did I. But as I flew through the air I could not help catching a fleeting glimpse of a final advisory notice—


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