Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ashley Sterne Mixed Grill July 1924


From July 1924 to February 1925 Ashley Sterne wrote a regular column called "Mixed Grill."  The column was a miscellany of jokes, humorous comments on current events, and light poetry.  Here are the July 1924 installments, starting with the initial advertisement.



Malaya Tribune, 12 July 1924

Mr. Ashley Sterne to Write a Special Series for the Tribune
"Mixed Grill" Twice a Week
Dish Fit for Kings

Ashley Sterne the inimitable humourist whose work appears in Punch, "Passing Show" and "London Opinion" will write a regular feature of comment, in lighter vein, for the Tribune.  This will appear with clever thumbnail illustrations twice a week commencing this week.  Whatever your favourite paper, make sure of your extra five cent copy of the Tribune by ordering it.  Other exclusive Tribune features will be announced later.

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 17 July 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

News from Wembley continues to be satisfactory.  The mud is nearly gone (most of it having been removed on the boots of the visitors), and everything in the gardens is lovely, including a Chinese restaurant where you can procure a real Chinese dinner comprising, inter alia, such delectable dishes as bird's-nest soup (duly filletted to remove superfluous feathers), shark's fins, and a Manchurian fungus, which, gourmets aver, is only comparable with the very finest brands of tawny Limburger.  Personally I have very little use for Chinese comestibles, especially when I'm expected to negotiate their consumption with chopsticks.  I get on fairly well with food which can be impaled on them, but when eating the inevitable rice, for example, I feel all the time as awkward as if I were attempting to knit a jumper out of a family of maggots.  When next I am coerced into eating rice in this manner, I shall first put in a little private practice at home with a couple of pen-holders and the bird-seed.

**          **          **          **          **

Being an ardent cricketer—I used, in my prime, to play centre-long-stop for the Clapham Goose Club—I made my way to the Kennington Oval the other day to watch those delightful performers, Obbs and Itch.  (The H is always mute in the cheaper seats, so I have omitted it for the sake of euphony.)  Affixed to the door of a timber-merchant's yard in the vicinity I saw the notice: —

CHIPS GIVEN AWAY

Passing that same door on my return journey I observed that, in the interim, some humorist had added the words:

BUT BRING YOUR OWN FISH

**          **          **          **          **

The recent Carpentier-Townley fight in Vienna, which was advertised for three months and lasted barely five minutes, seems to have created a good deal of dissatisfaction among the spectators, especially those who had paid several billion florins for their seats.  In view of the short duration of all big international glove-fights nowadays it hardly seems worthwhile to stage them, and I opine that the contests might effectively be carried out by cable, as chess matches frequently are.  The fight would then progress thus, the lead-off having previously been tossed for (also by cable):—

Bill Bucket (England): Lead to my right to your chin.

Slick Bumpsey (U.S.A.):  Yours received.  Counter with a short-arm jab.

B.B.:  Swing my left to the mark.

S.B.:  Good for youse, kid, but I guess I ducked.

B.B.:  Deliver terrific punch over heart.

S.B.:  No bye-byes for this simp!  Cut you across jaw.

B.B.:  Regret compelled to close your right eye.

S.B.:  Gee!  Some Stars! ****  But I ain't gonna...

Referee:  Time!

(End of Round 1)


By the way, I see that an eminent trainer declares that boxer fight much better immediately after a meal, a statement whose veracity I cannot vouch for, but which nevertheless inspires me to remark:

No more assailed need boxers be
By hunger or by thirst;
For it is clear thrice-armed is he
Who get his blow-out first!

**          **          **          **          **

A hen belonging to a Meopham (Kent) farmer has, I am told, laid on three successive days eggs weighing 3.5, 3.75, and 4 ozs. respectively.  If the bird can only keep up this rate of progression for a few weeks she ought to be laying foundation-stones by mid-summer.

Talking of Kent, I recently passed a suburban hostelry poetically named "The Flower of Kent" and was at once intrigued to discover what species of flora is particularly identified with that country.  On reaching home I consulted Prof. Linnaeus Leberwurst's admirable monograph on "The Taming of Wild Flowers," from which I learn that the flower of Kent is that lovely crimson-purple bloom known as the greater grog-blossom.  It is, I believe, closely related to the hop family.

**          **          **          **          **

"Jazz" spectacles, with rims to match the colour of the wearer's dress, are the latest fashion-freak of women, and I hear that there is likely to be a strike of tortoises in consequence.  For a long time past these deserving reptiles have done yeoman service for the spectacle trade, and I heartily sympathise with them on finding their vocation threatened with extinction.  With the purpose of combating what will henceforth be known as the Shell Scandal of 1924 certain enterprising tortoises have lately attempted to grow shells of fashionable shades of colour, but their efforts have not met with the success they merit; and I have to record with regret that one aged chelonian, who had been in the business man and boy, for nigh upon ninety years come next Michaelmas, perished miserably through eating arsenic in a vain endeavor to suffuse his shell with a popular shade of eau-de-Nil.

Poor old Dye-Hard!

**          **          **          **          **

"One man's meat is another man's poison," as La Rochefoucauld, or Camembert, or somebody, so sagely remarked; and in the tragedy of the tortoise I see a splendid opportunity for the chameleon.  Spectacle rims made of chameleon-skin would naturally adapt their colour to that of their surroundings, and thus the woman of fashion would need only one pair of spectacles in lieu of the half-dozen she now requires.

Chameleons, if you have skins, prepare to shed them now!

**          **          **          **          **

TO A PORTION OF LAMB GIVEN TO ME IN A RESTAURANT
(After Blake)

Little lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee
Oh! so frantically tough,
Camouflaged with mint sauce stuff?

Though, sweet lamb, to me you're dear—
One-and-nine a plate's not cheap—
I should awfully like to hear
Just how long you've been a sheep!

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 22 July 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

There are two very notable features about this year's Royal Academy, both of which are of a negative character.  A critic remarks on the singular absence of "problem" pictures, while I myself have noticed with much regret the scarcity of those pleasing compositions known as still-life groups.  I know a man who collects this latter type, and a glance at his dining-room walls, on which these pictures are hung, affords one the illusion that one has strayed into a Woolly West general store.

One canvas particularly excites my admiration.  It consists of a masterly delineation of a pork pie, a bassoon, the ace of spades, a bust of Gladstone, a beetle-trap, and about a couple of pounds of raw steak.  Another, of almost equal attractiveness depicts a burst pomegranate, a hip-bath, four bed-knobs, a volume of Cowper's collected works, and a bottle of Worcester sauce.

I believe it was Ruskin who said that a man couldn't live with a great work of art in his house without being the better for it, and were I the owner of either of the above pictures I feel I should grow so good and noble that I should deserve personal mention in the Beatitudes.

**          **          **          **          **

Dr. Voronoff, the monkey gland authority, lately remarked to an interviewer that he is looking forward to the time when, by means of his process of rejuvenation, human beings will be able to live as long as they desire.  I have often wondered why for the sake of securing an early settlement of the Reparations account, the learned doctor has not tried his hand at rejuvenating the German mark.

**          **          **          **          **

Only a short time ago it was the fashion among ladies to wear one coloured-glass slave-bangle on the left arm.  This was promptly followed by the wearing of one on the right arm too, and now (I hear) the craze is to wear half-a-dozen or more on each arm.  I am, in consequence, very much perturbed when I think, that if the craze continues at the same rate of geometrical progression, women's raiment, in a month or so, may consist exclusively of slave-bangles.  Then, in a spirit of emulation, men, too, I fear, will similarly revert to type, and go about arrayed in exiguous strings of shark's teeth, with quill toothpicks thrust through the cartilage of their noses, and empty bloater-paste tins embedded in the lobes of their ears.

But strongly as I deprecate this tendency to adopt savage customs, I am nevertheless forced to admit my admiration for the penurious lady who, for reasons of economy, has had a pair of stockings tattooed on her legs.  I must see if I can't get a diamond shirt-stud tattooed on my chest.

**          **          **          **          **

A police notice warns us that silvered pennies with milled edges are being passed off as half-crowns in change.  Much-worn pennies are used for the deception, as short-sighted people are not quick to detect the difference.  The "ring" of a penny, however, has quite a different sound to that of a half-crown, prompting me to add—

And this affords example how
The way of paradox most strange is:
We find that when we ring the change
Someone's already "rung the changes!"

**          **          **          **          **

The world is coming to an end yet again, this time on 24th June (according to the calculations of a Czecho-Slovakian "prophet").  I don't know whether he worked out the date with a slide-rule, a range finder, or a table of logarithms, but, whatever his method, I can't help thinking that the old boy inadvertently took away the number he first thought of when arriving at his result.  Personally, I find this constant annihilation of our planet exceedingly boring.  Since 1900 the end of the world has been predicted no fewer than 27 times, but the catastrophe has always failed to arrive as per schedule, thus causing considerable inconvenience amongst the credulous.  At that period of my life I believed all I read in the papers, and on seeing the announcement I was greatly annoyed as I had just bought a new dress suit, and had arranged, moreover, to take a girl up the river on 8th July.  I forthwith scratched the girl and sold my dress suit to an infidel at an enormous sacrifice, only to find, of course, that on the fateful day the great big world kept on turning as usual.

Anyway, those of you who have early morning appointments for 24th June next had better, as a precautionary measure, emigrate to Australia, where for several hours it will still be 23rd June when it's 24th here.

**          **          **          **          **

The unfortunate gentleman who last week fell down an oil-well in Arkansas, and was unable to extricate himself, has, I am pleased to report, at length solved his difficulties by becoming a naturalised sardine.

**          **          **          **          **

I am distress at having to record a grave breach of courtesy on the part of my fellow Londoners towards a simple-minded country visitor "up" to see the British Empire Exhibition.  Shortly after eleven o'clock last Tuesday night our visitor complained to the policeman on duty near the Nelson Monument that one of the lions guarding the plinth had snapped at him.  Instead of promptly arresting the lion, the indiscriminating constable ran the countryman in the police station, where they made him say "truly rural" and "ninety-nine," and subsequently hailed him the following morning before a coldly unsympathetic magistrate, who, on dismissing the charge with a caution, took the opportunity to deliver a few misplaced witticisms anent looking upon the wine when it was red, the chartreuse when it was green, and the whiskey when it was black-and-white.

This serves to remind me of a little incident which I witnessed last night in a motor-bus.  A passenger who was all-too-obviously a plus-four man at elbow-lifting leant across the gangway, and with his umbrella prodded a man on the opposite seat, saying solemnly:

"Shcuse me, sir, but musht ashk you get out."

"What the blazes for?" demanded the prodded one.

"Being 'toxshicated in public ve-hic-le."

"How dare you!  I'm nothing of the sort!"

"Well, I shay you are.  I can mos' 'stinctly shee two of you!"

**          **          **          **          **

A SUPPLICATION

(On hearing that the new "simplified" income-tax
forms are even more complex than their predecessors)

Have pity, Mr. Chancellor,
Upon the luckless wight
Who slaves away to try and pay
His income-tax aright.

The previous instructions were
Obscure enough for me;
And easier far is algebra
To grasp than Schedule E.

You tax my meagre salary
Your revenues to swell;
And on my knees I pray you, please
Don't tax my brains as well!

**          **          **          **          **

I am greatly perturbed to learn from a recent official return that sleepy sickness is on the increase.  Apparently one can be afflicted with it for quite a long time without its presence being detected—one of the disease's most disturbing characteristics in the early stages.  This fact, however, serves to explain much of the inattention which the public so often encounters in Government departments.  A friend of mine once took a lease to Somerset House to be stamped, and was kept waiting at the counter for—well, sufficient to say he was clean-shaven when he went in, but emerged with a beard and whiskers like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  When a comatose clerk eventually enquired his business my friend merely said:—

"I did want this lease stamped, but it doesn't matter now i—it's expired."

For years my friend attributed that clerk's dilatoriness to sheer Governmental laziness.  He now knows the poor fellow was merely in the throes of incipient sleepy sickness.

**          **          **          **          **

The amiable fellow wearing a small cauliflower in his buttonhole, who was recently found in the offices of the Lord Chancellor enquiring at what hour the Great Seal was to be fed, has now been restored to the County Asylum.

Enquiries at the hospital have elicited the information that the man who, on learning that the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to abolish some of the McKenna Duties, remarked that he didn't imagine it would McKenna difference, is getting on as well as can be expected.

**          **          **          **          **

Some unkind things have been uttered by the musical critics a propos of two of America's newest gems of minstrelsy recently imported over here, to wit: "Do Shrimps Make Good Mothers?" and "Does the Spearmint Lose its Flavour on the Bed-Post Overnight?"  Exception has been taken to these most expressive and illuminating titles; but surely this is all for the best.  At all events, one knows what the song is all about before one buys it, which is more than we can claim for some of our home products.  The above titles afford no possible loop-hole for misunderstanding, the one being purely concerned with the question of maternal solicitude displayed by the lower crustaceae, and the other with the possible evaporation of certain essential oils when exposed to the air.

Here we are not so precise.  Somebody tells me, for example, that "The Lost Chord" and "My Dear Soul" are two songs which will suit my voice admirably, and I order them from the local tunemonger on the assumption that the former has something to do with hanging up pictures and the latter with the extortionate price of fish, only to find upon subsequent examination that—well, I needn't expatiate.

But reverting again to the two American songs, one critic, I notice, appears to be specially incensed by what he calls the absurdity of the lyrics.  But I should like to ask the highbrowed one whether he can find an American goods to beat the following British-born gem of poesy which I once heard sung in a suburban music-hall—

"Why don't you be an angel, Daddy,
Away up in the sky?
I want you to be an angel, Daddy,
Along of Mar and I."

Mr. Edmund Gosse is reported to have exclaimed on reading the above: "Browning never wrote anything approaching it."

**          **          **          **          **

Experiments have recently been made, I hear, with a new anaesthetic called hydro-chloride of dimethylamino benzoyldimethylethylcarbinol.  I am without information as to how fat its employment in surgery is likely to prove effective, but I understand that several retired Anglo-Indian colonels are learning it by heart for use on the golf course.

**          **          **          **          **

Owing to my rhyming dictionary having been lost in the spring cleaning (it isn't in the coal-box where I usually keep it, but I expect it will eventually be discovered on one of the bookshelves), there will be no poetry this week.

But stay: What about a little vers libre?  No rhymes, no reason, no meter required; only a few frothy burblings exgurgitated from a poet-soul.  As for subject, almost any old thing will do, such as the dead cat I saw yesterday floating on one of the Hampstead Heath ponds. So hand me the muffled drums and the muted triangle, and let me intone: —

A CATAFALQUE

A bloated tom-cat,
Feet in the air,
Floats
On the pond's green scum,
It's apparently lost its brick,
Otherwise
It wouldn't float,
But would suffer a sea change
Down in the mud,
All among the tadpoles
And newts,
Broken ginger-beer bottles,
Empty sardine-tins,
Monkey-nut shells,
Leaky saucepans,
Old boots,
And, possibly,
A suicide or two.
Poor Pussy!


**          **          **          **          **

Overheard at Newmarket:

"I hear Bertie Slacker has given up backing horses."

"Yes.  He says he can't possible bet and live within his wife's income."

**          **          **          **          **

M. Paul Poiret, the autocrat of the world of feminine fashion, who tells ladies where their waists have not to be, and decides the length of their skirts for them, has now issued a decree to the effect that they are to stop having slim ankles and grow thick ones instead.  And the poor things are terribly upset about it, for it is well known to pathologists that, though it is possible by careful overfeeding and meticulous attention to pedal exertion to make a slim ankle thick, there is no known method by which a thick ankle can be made slim again.  Women are noble creatures, and will cheerfully disfigure themselves in the great cause of fashion, so long as no permanent distortion of the body shall result.  But now for the first time they are faced with the alternative of looking like a piano for life or of earning the scorn of M. Poiret.

Personally, I hope the ladies will kick at thick ankles, as I feel that they are more shinned against than shinning, so to speak.  Moreover, if they give way on this point, the day will come when Paul will order them to grow calves in proportion.  Then there will be another rumpus, since, from time immemorial, it has been one of Society's unwritten laws that fatted calves are the inalienable prerogative of the prodigal sons.

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 25 July 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

A prominent London conductor has been emphasizing the fact that many people fail fully to appreciate modern orchestral music because they are ignorant of the timbre of the different instruments, and consequently miss much that would otherwise prove of absorbing interest to them.  As I am by way of being something of an instrumentalist myself—I play the second tambourine at the Handel Festival—it may be helpful if I briefly describe the sounds made by some of the less familiar orchestral instruments: —

The piccolo makes a noise like a cricket on the hearth;
The clarinet makes a noise like a tin-whistle with adenoids;
The oboe makes a noise like squeaky boots;
The bassoon makes a noise like a stockbroker snoring;
The double-bassoon makes a noise like a bull of Bashan;
The French horn makes a noise like sturgeon moaning for its caviar;
while the trombones, trumpets, and cornets all make bright yellow noises of varying intensity.

Next time the Royal Sussex Band is playing Rottenbosch's "Rhapsody in A Flat" (with vacant possession), may you listen to it with added enjoyment by virtue of these few hints!

**          **          **          **          **

ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS

M.U.G.—You have misunderstood the Act.  It does not compel you to marry your deceased wife's sister.
Ethel.—I cannot possibly advise you as to the best powder to use during the hot weather unless you tell whether you require tooth, nose, curry, baking, or insect.
R.A.T.S.—Gravy stains may be removed from the top of the piano with a spokeshave; bacon grease with a red-hot poker.
D. Tees.—No, I know of no institution which teaches snake-charming by correspondence.
M.U.T.T.—You are under a misapprehension.  Botticelli was a painter, not a kind of macaroni.  Hence I cannot tell you how to cook him.
D. Litt.—The author of the quotation—"The glory that was geese and the gander that was Rome"—was that famous French litterateur Comte Pate de Foie-Gras.  He married (1852) Omelette, daughter of the Marquis de Fines-Herbes.

**          **          **          **          **

Owing to the prominence recently given by many of the daily newspapers to murder and divorce cases, several leading actresses have regretfully decided to postpone losing their jewels until later in the season.

**          **          **          **          **

Large mirrors have been provided for the soldiers at Aldershot so that they can inspect themselves before going on parade.  I doubt, however, that utility of the arrangement.  As Robert Burns failed to remark, we canna see oursels as ithers, especially Sergeant-Majors, see us and the opinions of Tommy and the S.-M. as to what constitutes "good order and military discipline" are usually at variance.  During the days of my training in the ranks, after I had set up all night shaving, cutting my hair, blacking my boots, and polishing my buttons, next morning always found me holding views on my personal appearance diametrically opposed to those of S.-M.  Somehow I think that there is some peculiar kind of X-ray which emanates from the Sergeant-Major's basilisk eye, and which tarnishes buttons, stimulates the growth of the hair, and splashed mud on your boots while you wait.  In no other way can I account for the fact that my Crime Sheet (now in the Imperial War Museum), which required a special fatigue-party to carry it, consisted of over a thousand entries all exactly the same.

**          **          **          **          **

A friend of mine has recently been in hospital for a minor operation.  When I visited him he was still struggling with the aftermath of the anaesthetic.  On my enquiring how he felt, my friend replied, in feeble accent:

"When I have sensations like these, I prefer to have acquired them on whiskey!"

No, he is not a fellow-journalist.  He's an important official in the Municipality.  His brother doesn't do any work either.

**          **          **          **          **

Pausing outside a suburban theatre to read the play-bill the other day, I was delighted to find a practical application of the old motto, "Honour to whom honour is due."  After the cast and all the other functionaries had been mentioned by name, I read:—

"Typewriter used in Act I. kindly lent by the Blank Typewriter Co., Ltd.  Cigarettes smoked in Act II. supplied by the Dash Tobacco Co., Ltd."

I think, however, that the bill might have been a trifle more comprehensive, and mentioned whom the matches were by which kindled the cigarettes.  Personally, if I were responsible for drawing up a play-bill, I should go a step farther, and mention whom the stout was by which Mr. Raveling Ranter drinks in his dressing-room between the acts; as also the particular brand of cachou [throat lozenge] he hastily sucks before resuming his part.

At the same time, I would like to see this method of paying chivalrous tribute extended to other spheres of activity and I trust the day is not far distant when, at the foot of my weekly musings, you will be privileged to read:—

"Typewriter used in 'Mixed Grill' kindly supplied (on the Easy Instalment System) by Messrs. Lightly, Tappit, and Co., Mr. Ashley Sterne's braces by Hope Bros."

**          **          **          **          **

Another splendid new disease this week!  Doctors have just discovered "dancer's heart"—a malady attributed to the exertions put forth at the summons of the saxophone.  But I fancy the doctors err for once.  I can think of nothing less likely to cause engine-trouble to the heart than the gentle act of trundling a damsel backwards round the floor by means of the lingering, languid push-stroke in which we dancing men now indulge.  In the old days, when kitchen lancers were all the vogue, and our object was to band into as many people as possible and hurl our partner violently into the air, where she crashed to earth in a spinning nose-dive, I can quite understand that it was bad for the heart.  But you simply can't contract dancer's heart from shuffling slowly around like a funeral mute with ingrowing toenails.  If there be any sufferer from this ailment to-day, he has certainly not contracted it by dancing, but (I venture to suggest) by sitting out behind a shady palm, holding thumbs with his partner, and listening to her telling him that there's something about him that irresistibly reminds her of Owen Nares [a dashing stage actor].

**          **          **          **          **

Eureka! which, being interpreted, means I have found it! (or was Eureka the wife of Socrates?  But no matter.)  I refer to my rhyming dictionary, which turned up not in the coal-box, not even on the bookshelf, but in a drawer in my dressing-room, where it was pressing the knees of my flannel trousers.  So I shall be able to supply you this week with some real poetry, which rhymes at the corners, and which can be scanned without employing a theodolite and an artificial horizon.  I simply call it—

LINES

(on reading that fewer marriages than ever were contracted during the "unlucky" month of May)

Ladies all, about to marry,
You were very wise to tarry
     Till the month of May was out!
Be you ne'er so brave, so plucky,
It were really most unlucky
     Superstition's lore to flout.
"Those who wed in merry May-time
Can't look forward to a gay time
     In the matrimonial state."
And to proverb's proven true words
I would like to add a few words,
     Ere the moment be too late.
Prithee, ladies, list to reason:
May is not the only season
     Which can boast ill-fortune's ban;
There is June, Feb., March, September,
Oct., Nov., Aug,. July, December,
     April, too, and likewise Jan!

**          **          **          **          **

For the past few weeks the big railway companies have been prosecuting the Early Summer Holidays Campaign with great vigour, pointing out that those who go away early save themselves being squashed to death in overcrowded compartments and paying sums to seaside landladies which sound like a National Debt.

With this argument I heartily concur, and I sincerely trust nobody will act upon it, because they'll spoil June for me.  If everyone who read the posters took early holidays the result would simply be a transference of the Rush Season and its attendant evils from August to June.  Happily for me, however, the various Borstal institutions don't break up till the end of July, and there still exists in most families a sentimental objection to taking a summer holiday without Little Willie.

A bad attack of sea fever compelled me to go to the seaside in August last, but wild giraffes won't drag me there again at that time of year.  I paid ten guineas a week for the privilege of sleeping in the kitchen sink, with my head on a plate-rack, one foot out of the window, and the other thrust down the waste-pipe.  Later I was promoted to the coal-cellar, and slept on a mattress of Derby Brights with the gas-meter for a pillow; while the week before I left I was in comparative luxury on the top shelf of the linen-cupboard.  True, I had to be wedged into bed every night with the help of the chambermaid and a shoe-horn, and extracted in the morning by means of soft soap and pulleys, but my bed possessed an advantage uncommon in most seaside boarding-houses: I couldn't fall out of it.

**          **          **          **          **

The suspicious-looking individuals who was apprehended in Piccadilly last Tuesday night while carrying a sundial under his arm has now been released.  The police have unreservedly accepted the poor fellow's explanation that he had been obliged to pawn his wrist-watch.

**          **          **          **          **

A young wide was inspecting the design for a tombstone which a number of his fellow-townsmen wished to erect to her late husband's memory.  After reading a more than usually flattering epitaph, which extolled the deceased's merits in glowing superlatives, she was asked whether the working met with her approval.

"Er-Yes," somewhat doubtfully replied the widow, who had had training in a commercial office, "but I think it would be advisable to put 'E. and O.E.' in the left hand bottom corner!"

[NOTE: "E. and O.E" is a business contract abbreviation meaning "Errors and Omissions Excepted."]

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Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 28 July 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

Professor Pollard, of London University, has been advocating the abolition of all examinations, and it is rumoured that the schoolboys of England have arranged to present the Professor with all their cigarette-pictures as a token of the sympathy with his views.  This is in commendable contrast to their behaviour when that erudite Egyptologist Prof. Pifflinger Rottenbleiter of Potztausend, announced his discovery of one of the missing books of Euclid.  In condemnation of the learned gentleman's gross lack of tact, representatives of the chief schools assembled on Tower Green, and there publicly burned an isosceles triangle and a regular pentagon.

I wish, however, that Professor Pollard had advocated his theory a little earlier.  It might have saved me a lot of worry.  I still retain a copy of the examination paper (produced below) which plucked me for my D.Litt. degree at Clark's College in 1872.  My answers are given in brackets.

(1)  Give some account of Piers the Ploughman.  (Mr. Piers was a ploughman.  He did quite a bit of ploughing.  He ought to have been an Examiner.  He was the original ploughman who homeward plodded his weary way.)

(2)  Name the authors of the following lines:

     (a).  A horse!  A horse!  My kingdom for a horse!  (Steve Donoghue)  [a leading English jockey]

     (b)  Hail to thee, blithe spirit!  (Johnny Walker)

     (c)  They also serve who only stand and wait.  (Mlle. Suzanne Lenglen)  [French tennis champion]

     (d)  O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt!  (G.K. Chesterton)  [stout English writer]

     (e)  Tell me where is fancy bred?  (Miss Bermaline Hovis)  [Bermaline and Hovis were brands of bread.]

     (f)  Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.  (John Drinkwater)

(3)  For what is Thomas Carlyle best known?  (Mrs. Carlyle)

(4)  Name Scott's most famous work.  (The Emulsion of Codley Veroyle)  [from the product called Scott's Emulsion of Cod Liver Oil]

(5)  State what you know of Henley.  (Top-hole place for a regatta)  [William Ernest Henley the poet confounded with Henley-on-Thames, a town hosting the Royal Regatta]

(6)  Write a short critique of the Life of Johnson.  (How can I, when you don't say whether you mean Ben, Sam, or Jack?)

**          **          **          **          **

There is to be a positive glut of cucumber this summer, I read; and it is estimated that 50,000,000 will be produced by growers in the Lea Valley alone.  In view of the strenuous crop I fancy a Cucumber-Pickers' Chanty would serve to enhearten the harvesters, and, therefore, I have very kindly written the following verses, which that distinguished composer, Mr. Cumberland, has set to music.

Sharpen up you scissors, lads, temper up your knives,
Bring along your kiddies, lads, bring along your wives;
Ripened are the cucumbers, thick and long and green,
Ready for the salmon, lads, and the glycerine;
Also for the sandwiches (tasty for your tea);
So in joyful chorus, lads, sing this strain with me: —
(Refrain.)  Let the River Lea Lumber
Its way to the Humber,
Or wherever it chooses to enter the sea;
And rise from your slumbers
And cull the cucumbers,
Whose numbers encumber the Vale of the Lea!

**          **          **          **          **

There is to be much public rejoicing in the High Street, Japan, on 1st July, for that is the day on which the Land of Spaniels, Umbrellas, Lanterns, and Rising Suns is to adopt the Metric System.  I have no official programme of the inaugural celebrations, but I understand that they are expected to last several days, and that amongst other attractions a special Feast of Decimals has been proclaimed; a goldfish is to be filletted and fried whole in the Temple of the Seven Little Sour Crab-Apples; a salute of 21 Japanese crackers will be fired from the summit of Fujiyama; while a troupe of picked geishas has been engaged to dance the hari-kiri before the Inspector of Weights and Measures.

**          **          **          **          **

A report placed before the Bermondsey Borough Council states that in a certain street containing 151 houses only one possesses a bath.  It is terrible to think that 150 families are thus put to the inconvenience of keeping the coals in the coal-cellar.

**          **          **          **          **

A long-felt want is designed to be supplied by a new organisation, now in process of formation, called the Telephone Users' Protection Association.  I am without advice as to what we telephone users are going to be protected from, but I trust that among the projected safe-guards is one to preclude our having to teach orthography to the department which answers—if you're lucky—to the name of "telegrams."  I once had occasion to 'phone a telegram to a certain Dick Page, of Weymouth—a common enough name and place—but somehow the telephonist couldn't catch it.  So, in accordance with those invaluable hints on how to use the telephone given in the Directory, I spelt the name and address by analogy as follows:

     D for DJINN.
     I    "   INEZ.
     C   "   CTENOID
     K  "    KEW.

     P for PHTHISIS
     A  "   AISLE
     G  "   GNU
     E  "    EYE

     W for WRY
     E    "   EIGHT
     Y   "    YCLEPT
     M  "    MNEMONICS
     O   "    OESOPHAGUS
     U   "    UIST.
     T   "     TCHIGORIN
     H   "     HIM

You will scarcely credit it, but even in these days of the Higher Education I had to spell it all over again in tonic sol-fa.

**          **          **          **          **

My. F.A. Mitchell Hedges, the explorer, has brought back some weird monsters of the vasty deep as a result of his investigations of the coral reefs of British Honduras, among them being a bocatoro—a fearsome beast, half alligator, half turtle.  My friend, Prof. Barmion Crumpott, F.Z.S. is delighted at this creature, as he has only once previously seen a specimen.  He was returning home from a Masonic banquet held to commemorate his installation as High Grand Artichoke of the Nightingales of Jerusalem, when he observed a bacatoro disporting itself in one of the Traflagar Square fountain-basins.  On prodding it with his umbrella the alligator-half at once sank but the turtle-half furiously attacked the Professor, and chased him down Whitehall before he managed to put the pursuer off by hiding behind a pillar-box and making a noise like an Alderman inhaling tortue claire.  [clear turtle soup]

**          **          **          **          **

A correspondent who used to beat his wife, drink copying-ink, and play the trombone, writes to tell me that since he has taken to reading "Mixed Grill" week by week he has become a changed man.  He now beats the children too; drinks chloride of lime as well; and is having lessons on the Swanee whistle; all of which is, of course, very gratifying to me.  My correspondent goes on to suggest that I might make the column an even greater instrument for good if, from time to time, I were to introduce a little of the conventional "uplift" stuff.

This strike me as a splendid idea, but, alas!  I am not an "uplift" purveyor.  I am only a poor humorist, who, if he can raise a smile on the mouth of a man with a cracked lip, considers that he does not live entirely unhonoured, though he may remain unhung.

I have, however, persuaded my old College chum, Dr. Feign Crank, to contribute a few helpful words, and these, I feel confident, will so uplift my readers that it will require an anti-aircraft gun to bring them to earth again.

**          **          **          **          **

DON'T GROUSE!
by
Dr. Feign Crank

(the man who writes for a million readers daily, none of whom reads him)

Was any man ever the better for grumbling?

Marcus Aurelius said:  Hic, Haoc, hoc, hujus, hujus, hujus!  ("Chaff, and the world chaffs with you!  Grouse, and you grouse alone!")—and his words are just as true to-day as ever they were.

Do you gain anything by grumbling because the breakfast bacon is charred to a cinder?

If jute, spelter, or crude petroleum drop a few points, does grumbling put them up?

Did grumbling ever pay the wife's dressmaker's bill?

Can grumbling stay the rate-collector's hand, or chuck the Government out?

Will grumbling alleviate the fell clutch of circumstance or protect you from the bludgeonings of chance?

Of course not.

Then play the man!  Pull up your socks!  Combat life with a stiff upper lip!  Stop senseless grumblings and swear like a trooper!  You'll feel no end better for it.

ANOTHER UPLIFT TALK BY DR. FEIGN CRANK VERY SHORTLY

**          **          **          **          **

The deluded gentleman who was found frantically pulling street fire-alarm in Oxford Street under the impression that great strength would produce a penny has now returned to Aberdeen.

**          **          **          **          **

THE HUSBAND'S APOLOGIA

(necessitated by the announcement that the recent sudden
variations in the weather caused an epidemic of
paroxysmal respiratory arrhythmia, i.e., hiccups)

Should I come home late and kick up
Row enough to break your slumber
With my loud stentorian hiccup,
Don't, I pray, dear wife, encumber
Me with unjust accusations
To the end that I've been drinking;
Nor imperil our relations
With inconsequential thinking!

Don't my loved one, wrongly chide me
For some fancied Bacchic frolic;
For I swear there's nought inside me
Of a nature alcoholic.
Banish, then, your woe abysmal!
For I'm simply struggling with mere
Symptoms know as "Paroxysmal
Respiratory arrhythmia!"

**          **          **          **          **

If there be anything in the invention of Prof. Oberth of Berlin, shooting the moon will soon cease to be a mere figure of speech conveying that we are removing our lares et penates [treasured household possessions] under cover of night, and leaving the landlord, like Lord Ullin's daughter's father, lamenting. [lamenting his runaway daughter—see the poem Lord Ullin's Daughter by Thomas Campbell]  For this savant has designed a rocket capable, he claims, of traversing the quarter-million odd miles between the earth and the moon, and hope soon to make a trial shot.

I don't know what arrangements have been made for communicating the result of the discharge, but in the event of a hit I presume the Old Man in the Moon will signify the same in the usual manner by chucking down either a cigar or nuts.

**          **          **          **          **

It was recorded a week or two ago that a sagacious cock not only flew at a would-be robber of a hen-roost, but by his lusty crowing aroused the owner, who was thus enabled to capture the marauder.

And now I read that a cock belonging to a North Country minor has successfully "sat" and hatched out two chickens.  In the circumstances, I feel that the pen of a Shelley or a Keats is required to do full justice to these notable achievements of the farmyard, but, faute de mieux, allow me to tender a couple of Chanticleer: —

Once I thought you just a cackler,
With your cockadoodledo;
But you've proved a doughty tackler,
Watch-dog, foster-mother, too.

Therefore, noble fowl, I hymn it
In rhapsodic praise of you;
For there's seemingly no limit
As to what a cockadood'll do.

**          **          **          **          **

The Lost Property Office at Scotland Yard, I learn, is so sadly congested with lost umbrellas that it is a matter of considerable difficulty to find storage-room for them all pending recovery by their owners.  May I take this opportunity to point out to chronic umbrella-losers that it is exceedingly selfish of them to lose umbrellas in such large quantities, as by their inconsiderate action they are preventing other and more valuable lost property from being accommodated.  Only last Tuesday I journeyed home on a tram with a few articles I had been purchasing—a dromedary, a traction engine, a stomach-pump, and a ton of coal—and, in a moment of temporary aberration, I left them under the seat when quitting the vehicle.  Thrice since I have been to Scotland Yard about them, only to be informed that owing to the steady influx of umbrellas many far more deserving cases—my own, no doubt, included—have had to be turned away.

**          **          **          **          **

A SONG OF GRATITUDE

(on reading the scientific journal "Discovery,"
that a year or two ago the British Government
formally annexed the South Pole)

O, some may think all statesmen
     A lazy, loafing crew,
Who never lift a finger
     Except to draw their screw;
But you are wrong who're seeking
     Our Governments to shame;
They do much good in secret,
     And blush to find it fame.

They mayn't have built the houses
     They promised long ago;
Nor banished unemployment,
     Nor brought our taxes low;
Yet let us all be grateful
     That, through their enterprise,
Upon the South Pole's summit
     The flag of England flies!

**          **          **          **          **

The Texas cowboy over here for the Rodeo at Wembley, who walked into the Royal Liver Friendly Society's premises in Finsbury Square [an insurance organization] and asked for a large portion cut thick with plenty of bacon, is stated to have been extremely disappointed with the unfriendly tone of the reply which he received.

x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x


Mixed Grill  (Malaya Tribune, 31 July 1924)

By Ashley Sterne

A propos of my remarks last week on the bocatoro—the singular monster, half turtle, half alligator, which Mr. Mitchell Hedges has brought from British Honduras—my esteemed and learned friend, Prof. Barmion Crumpett, F.Z.S., writes to me endorsing my account of his adventure in Trafalgar Square, and informing me of several new hybrid animals whose peculiarities he has recently been investigating.  Particularly he mentions the peccadillo—a curious creature from British Ipecacuanhaland, half lobster, half humming-bird, which makes its home in old gum-boots, and is so timid that it is only known to venture into the open at midnight of Pancake Day; also the amontillado, a native of Portuguese Contangoland, half wombat, half giraffe, which lives in disused sentry-boxes, and feeds exclusively on Swiss roll, tomato chutney, and safety pins.

At the moment, the Professor is studying an even more complicated creature, which was captured alive outside a Soho restaurant on Derby night by that intrepid big-game hunter, Major Bloodstone-Gore.  The beast seems to combine characteristics of both the animal and vegetable kingdoms, for it is partly horse, partly dog, partly sawdust, and partly garlic.  Without definitely committing himself, my friend is nevertheless inclined to think that the creature belongs to the family of sausagia germanica.

**          **          **          **          **

From my tear-off calendar for June 28th:  PEACE TREATY SIGNED, 1919.

"Lest we forget—lest we forget."

Notwithstanding that the Peace has now been raging for five years, nobody is ever likely to forget while there still remains that relic of D.O.R.A [Defense of the Realm Act in 1914] to prohibit our buying a box of chocolates or a packet of cigarettes in a theatre after 9 p.m.

**          **          **          **          **

An enterprising firm of modistes has recently held a mannequin parade for the purpose of displaying the latest thing in ladies' bathing-costumes, thereby, I fancy, completing the mannequinisation of the entire feminine wardrobe.  I only wish that men's tailors and outfitters would inaugurate similar parades.  I have often wanted to know what the effect on a spectator is of wearing braces embroidered with forget-me-nots, or a tummy-band with "MIZPAH" [signifying a remembrance of separation] engraved upon it.  We mere men just have to blunder along anyhow, and I am certain that most of the sartorial solecisms we commit would be obviated if we were only accorded the opportunity of seeing ourselves as others see us.  At a recent glove-fight at the Albert Hall much distress was occasioned to the reporter of the Tailor and Cutter by the sight of one of the fighters appearing in shorts which lacked a permanent turn-up.

**          **          **          **          **

Talking about wasters, I see that Dr. Henry Garrett, the eminent psychologist of Columbia University, New York, has declared that the best brain-worker is the man with a small body and long limbs.  I am sure that no reader of "Mixed Grill" will be surprised to learn that I myself take a small three in waist-coats but large tens in trousers, though, apart from this fact, I hold no brief either for or against Dr. Garrett's theory.  At the same time, it is certainly a curious coincidence that practically simultaneously with the American scientist's pronunciamento a persistent rumour should have been circulated to the effect that many responsible Government officials have recently taken up stilt-walking.

**          **          **          **          **

If your hats are not already off to France, gentle readers, may I ask you to remove them in tribute to Miss Luella Watkins, U.S.A, who has recently won much honour in her own country by her long distance saxophone playing?  Luella, it appears, has just established a non-stop record by successfully completing 48 hours' continuous playing, during which she nearly wore out America's welkin [archaic word for sky, firmament, or heavens] by causing it to re-echo to 576 selections.  I have made a few rough calculations on these data, which, for the sake of such as may be interested in statistics, I tabulate below.

I compute that in the course of her performance Luella must have blown:

1143 semibreves;  [whole note]
7079 minims;  [half note]
29,415 crotchets;  [quarter note]
53,007 quavers;  [eighth note]
128,211 semiquavers;  [sixteenth note]
3,518 appoggiaturas;  [musical ornament, long grace note]
2,914 acciaccaturas;  [musical ornament, short grace note]

requiring in all for their execution some 750,000 cubic feet of wind (or, calculated on the therm system, 3,500 therms.)

The report does not state how Luella was fed during her performance, but I imagine they poured clam broth and other liquid nutrients down the bell of her saxophone, which she inhaled as she played.  Granted that this surmise is correct, the saxophone should be a far easier instrument on which to establish a record than, for example, a trombone.  One can picture the dismay of the famishing trombonist who, on receiving a pint of thick ox-tail up the spout, is unfortunately compelled by the exigence of the music to extend his instrument to its utmost limit, thereby dissipating his much-needed nourishment among his audience.

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