Archive for the ‘Words’ Category


To Margret, with best wishes, Sgt. Ham

In Books,Words on April 29, 2012 by Miche


First, read this, by @BellJarred. It struck a spark with me. There’s a lot about ebooks that I love: I carry Chambers Dictionary and all of Shakespeare in my pocket every day, plus a hundred-odd texts I’ve bought from Amazon or Apple, but I retain a fondness for those physical objects called books.

BellJarred writes: “Some of my books are coffee stained and haggard because they have been on a rough journey across the world. They hold wrappers of foreign sweets, postcards, leaves, train tickets and hastily written notes in the margins.”

I have bought books, from second-hand shops, that had German train tickets and Johannesburg boarding cards tucked into them. There was one that, halfway through, had a card sayng “I have lit a candle for you at Lourdes.”

The Luck of the Bodkins, by  P. G. Wodehouse, is an enjoyable and funny book. It has a great opening sentence: “Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.”

But what I really love about my copy of this book is the dedication from Sgt. Ham to Margret.



Building a Better Belfast

In Theatre,Words on May 4, 2009 by Miche Tagged: , ,

[Something I wrote a while ago for Kabosh Theatre Co for a Titanic commemoration event. Character is a bored tour guide. Time: 2012]

Spirit of Harmony

Spirit of Harmony

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome on board for our Titanic Centenary tour. On this site just over a hundred years ago the White Star Liner R.M.S. Titanic was launched from Slip number three. She was 882 feet eight inches long and ninety-two feet wide. She had two steam reciprocating engines and one turbine engine, with a total horsepower of 51,000. She had 24 double ended boilers and 5 single ended boilers, for a total of 159 furnaces. The Titanic carried twenty lifeboats plus 3560 life belts and 49 life buoys. She also had a swimming pool, the first on a ship, plus a Turkish bath and a squash court.

The hull shell plating on Titanic was 1″ thick. The anchors weighed 31 tons in total. Over three million rivets were used in the construction of the ship, not counting six that were thrown at an unpopular foreman when his back was turned. The rudder weighed 101 tons and was made from six separate parts.

The ship was built by Harland and Wolff, which had a workforce of 14,000. Three of them were Catholic. All of them wore dunchers. Seventy-three percent ate fried soda farls at least five times a week; thirty-one per cent on any given day had jam in their piece, while only 4.2 per cent had egg and onion. Twelve per cent of those over thirty had their own teeth. They lived in humble and often insanitary conditions but had a strong community spirit. They never locked their doors except when commiting incest.

Belfast cranes

Nowadays, of course, the Titanic Quarter is a dynamic and imaginative, mixed use, city centre quarter for Belfast, providing employment for tour guides, baristas, estate agents and many more. A new dedicated berth for visiting cruise liners provides a highly attractive first impression of Belfast for tourists, delaying for up to an hour the unpleasantness of the second impression. Within the Quarter over six hundred litres of mocha latte are consumed every day. It has been estimated that all the paninis sold in a single week, if laid end to end, would stretch half way to Larne. The density of web developers per square mile is the highest in Ireland outside Rathmines. The Quarter now generates over fifty new logos and thirty-five Flash-based advertisements per week. It is estimated that by 2020, daily production of bullshit will have passed 100 cubic metres.

To celebrate the centenary of the Titanic’s launch, a massive project has been underway and is almost reaching fruition. If you look to your left you will see it just coming into view: what will, when it is complete, be a perfect symbol of the regeneration and rebirth of Belfast… the biggest cappuccino ever made. 882 feet eight inches high and ninety-two feet wide at the top. There is no truth – I repeat, no truth – in the rumour that it has been described as “undrinkable.”


The Legend of the Co-Host

In Words on July 26, 2008 by Miche

Carol Vorderman is leaving Countdown after umpty-six years. The Guardian’s report has the sub-head “Game show’s legendary co-host to quit quiz show .”


See? I am not making this up.

See? I am not making this up.


Ah, yes. In a future unimaginable to us now, when men, women and harthjiggata mutants huddle for warmth around camp fires on planets yet uncharted and wait for their dilithium crystals to recharge, they will while away the lonely night until the rise of the second sun with tales of the legendary co-hosts. They will talk of Ed “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” McMahon, of Anthea “Give us a twirl” Redfern, and of Gaby “pretending Chris Evans is funny” Roslin. But a hush will fall when the Vord is named. For she was the co-host’s co-host. The co-host who knew her seventy-five times tables; the co-host who could be in a studio with Ann Widdecombe, Paul Burrell or James Whittaker without vomiting on camera; the co-host whose picture was on everything from detox guides to Sudoku collections. She was Legend.

Catch a fucking grip, Guardian.


Literally mind-numbing

In Gadgets,Words on March 4, 2008 by Miche


I’m not sure why Amazon UK thought I’d be interested in a Powerball, but I clicked on the link to see what exactly it was. I wasn’t reassured:

Powerball is a dynamic and completely revolutionary new gyroscope that literally explodes with mind-numbing torque and inertia once you activate its internal rotor.

(Emphasis added.)

Nothing new, of course, about “literally” being misused. One of my all-time favourite Colemanballs was the snooker commentator who said:

And the audience, here at the Crucible Theatre, are literally electrified and glued to their seats.

And I remember reading that Edward Windsor, as he then styled himself, said in a documentary on the abdication crisis that George VI was “literally catapulted onto the throne.” What a pity that coronation wasn’t televised.