James Follett

Very Short Fiction

 

Quoting Jim Follett

Last update was Sunday, 22 March, 2009 9:16 AM

Quoting Jim Follett James Follett © 2008

 

1. "The speed at which lovely Valenciano girls can turn into shapeless, black-clad dumplings on legs is frightening."

2. "The underlying suggestion of 'love on the rebound' is that it's usually less discriminate than a properly managed, well-organised
affair."

3. Chopsticks are daft. A knife, fork and spoon are much more efficient tools. Although I'll concede that chopsticks are probably
okay for Chinese food which always looks as if it's already been eaten once. I always ask waiters for a knife and fork.

4. Our grandfather clock (which boring, nit-picking know-alls insist on calling a long case clock) was 50 years old when that Napoleon
chappie marched on Moscow. It has one hand -- an hour hand. In those days that was reckoned quite adequate for measuring the
passage of time. The minute hand (the hand which sweeps through 360 degrees every hour) is a new-fangled innovation whose
usefulness I question.

5. [Regarding using the French language in Canada]:Quite why anyone should prefer that frightful, heathen throat disease
of a language over English -- the language of red-blooded Englishmen and Indian waiters -- is beyond me.

I note with wry amusement that TV5, a French-Canadian TV channel, displays French subtitles over French-spoken dialogue.

6. I once attended a lecture given by Dr Dolby to the Institute of Broadcast Sound. During the Q&A session, he was asked if sound
reproduction would improve much over the next twenty years or so. He replied saying that got as good as it was ever likely to get twenty
years previously. He made his oft-repeated comment that the time had come to stop striving after the perfect blend of fine malt
whiskey and to enjoy the whiskey.

7. I had a BAD experience with my wife's Zen ipod widget last week. I've never actually listened to it although I have loaded the
thing's 20 gigabyte hard disc with literally, hundreds of plays, talks, comedies and dramas for her. Last week she urged me to use it
when I was ill. 'It'll make a change from falling asleep while reading,' she said. So I fell asleep listening to the Narnia Chronicles.

It was a rough night. Snatches of David Suchet's deep, growling voice in my ears as Islan, the lion deity, kept drifting in and out of
my consciousness, triggering disjointed and quite disturbing dreams. Dreams? Nightmares, more like. Not one but several. According to
the Zen's bar graph, I'd listened for nearly six hours before I realised what was causing my problems and switched it off. Six hours of the
hot, fetid breath and roaring pronouncements of a bloody great lion with unearthly powers sending me skating helplessly and
semi-comatose around a hellish Mobius strip of stupefying sounds.

In the morning, feeling very much worse, I resolved never to listen to the damned thing in bed again. It's where madness lies.

Books are safer; they just fall from my fingers.

8. The Quakers, of course, eschew doing it standing up. God might look down and think they were dancing.

9. My dear wife, whose name escapes me for the moment, and I agreed on the COD/10 as the reference dictionary for our games of
Scrabble. After a number of humiliating defeats, I've put my foot down with a firm hand, gone into a long sulk, and told her that I will
not play if she persists in her devious habit of using the Scrabble feature on her pocket dictionary -- a Casio based on the COD/10. I
didn't know it had a Scrabble feature until I had a surreptitious fiddle with it; I thought her frequent references to the damned thing were
because she's a crap speller.

I wouldn't mind her having a lover; that's the sort of cheating I can understand, but cheating at Scrabble is a bit near the knuckle bone.


10. Despite the English embracing many words of Norman origin when we already had decent words, the old words still survive. Just.
Cow tail soup is still called ox-tail soup; cow's tongue is still sold in butchers as ox tongue. Every year at this time of year my village
celebrates Guy Fawkes night by burning a few hundred faggots on a bonfire and roasting an ox. Which is really a big lump of cow.


11. The great English disgrace is that its mail service persist in using old-fashioned terms such as 2nd class and 1st class for letter post
services. These terms are not cool-Britannia-friendly and should be changed to economy class post and executive class post forthwith.

Why the Blair regime hasn't issued a decree (oops -- sorry: guidelines) on the matter is beyond me. They've issued them on just
about everything else.

12. I'm owned by two black-hearted, black-furred bastard sibling felines from hell who regard their ownership as one of the great
misfortunes in their multiple lives. They particularly loathe me for scrapping the CRT monitors, with their ample sprawl space and
ventilation slots, in favour of these new-fangled pat flannel monitors that a robin couldn't perch on.

13. I consider my greatest friend a retired Jesuit priest who lives nearby and pays me frequent visits for decent coffee and
conversation. A great guy from whom I've derived much. Everyone should befriend a Jesuit. They care and they're tremendous
repositories of wisdom. Cats don't give a toss. They're nothing but grudge-harbouring stomachs on legs. I grant that even a sleeping cat
has style which no dog can equal.

14. I've just sat spent a dismal hour sitting through the BBC TV's latest serial offering of 'Bleak House' with a feeling of mounting
dismay, thinking it can't get worse, but it did. No establishing shots so we didn't know where the hell we were as we leapt from scene to
scene, no shots were properly lit, the dialogue was garbled and not one of the amateur cameramen employed had ever heard of a dolly,
and I doubt if the director had been given a storyboard. Flash pans zips were invariably accompanied by whoosh stings. 15 episodes to
come and I shall pride myself on missing every one.

15. I can understand countries such as Zambia or Zimbabee wanting to change their names to Azania or something like that because their
United Nation staff are getting pissed off at being tail-end charlies in the canteen queue, but did those Indian chappies who decided to
change the name of Bombay to something unpronounceable give a moment's thought about the endless trouble they would cause
millions of restaurant chefs who've given the best years of their lives developing regional names for dishes?

16. I've found that prose that's easy to read, is hard to write; prose that's hard to read is easy to write.

17. I like the British Airways safety announcement that begins: "In the unlikely event of the aircraft alighting on water..."

Alighting? Gives an impression of 300 tonnes of aluminium stepping onto the water daintily like a ballerina. Also gives the impression on
the London-Glasgow shuttle that the pilot is likely to get lost.

18. Cats seem to be a repository for old place names. Siamese, Persians etc. My two siblings from hell are Bombays -- a breed that
surfaces from time to time in improbable places from improbable parentage. The Bombay has an all-black short-haired coat with an
undercoat that can appear to be slightly chocolatey in bright sunlight. The eyes are large and amber. They are vocal, unmitigated thugs,
superb night hunters, lousy swimmers..... They are Bombays.


19. My dear wife is on another pilgrimage jaunt to Rome soon leaving me in charge of the cats and her pot plants. I'll find curt
messages on little cards propped against the latter:

"IF THIS DIES SO DO YOU".

No comma after dies and yet she gets her meaning across.

GWB2FRI on the VCR was belated translated by my daughter as
meaning:

"Gardeners' World. BBC2. Fridays."

20. Most people have but one first language. A few change but it's rare. I once had to learn a couple of words of Welsh but I'm pleased
to say that I've forgotten both of them.

21. Brilliant! You've achieved half your ambition of becoming a wit.

22. How can one go through life without eating parsnips? Especially after the frosts have got to them and some of their starch has been
converted to sugar. There is no finer topping for a shepherds pie than parsnips and potatoes mashed together.

Parsnips spend a whole year in the ground, readying themselves for our delight -- no other vegetable goes to such trouble...

23. No one knows what humour is. The Oxford History of English Humorous Prose gave up trying to define it. The nearest: that which
provokes an inward smile of appreciation rather than outright laughter. Sommat like that. What they did decide is that humorous
prose is an English invention.

24. Caption writers for syndicated TV material seem to be terrified of the lovely word 'actress'. It doesn't matter if some brainless luvvess
with boobs is obviously female (or wants to be perceived as female), to the caption writers, she's an actor. Silly.

25. I'm a genuine bastard but can no longer prove it.

As a nosey kid I found my birth certificate among my mother's things and saw that wonderful word in print. I had to look up the
meaning. My short certificates were boring by comparison; they made no mention of my dodgy parentage. One of my first deeds on
becoming 21 and imagining I had the key to just about every door, was to write to our local registrar of births, deaths and marriages
requesting a copy of my original birth certificate. I wanted to enlarge it to poster size to hang on the wall as official confirmation of what
visitors had always suspected about me.

The certificate came and I was mortified to discover that that wonderful word had been omitted. I wrote again to the registrar
demanding my birthright. He replied saying that 'bastard' was no longer used and that all original certificates bearing such a term had
been destroyed and replaced. To be deprived of my birthright on the say so of a faceless official!

Bastard!
*****

Comments:

8. This quote really has nothing to do with Quote #7. It does not refer to sleep.

9. The "COD10" refers to the Concise Oxford Dictionary.

10. Faggot (British English)
Function: noun. Etymology: Middle English fagot, from Middle French.
Meaning: BUNDLE... as a bundle of sticks

11. "I'm sending it Executive Class, of course. None of this Economy nonsense for
you, m'lord."

17. Tonne, plural tonnes or tonne. 1000 kilograms. (Also known as a metric ton.)

20. Mr. Follett is part Welsh

 

 

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