Wednesday 27 April 2011

Seductio ad Absurdum

After reading von Clausewitz’s statement that “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means,” Algernon Swift’s rakish brother, Archibald, determines to try his hand at making love by other means. He calls on the virtuous Tilly and extravagantly compliments the furnishings of her sitting room. “How beautifully your curtains hang!” he exclaims. “How delicate your doilies and anti-macassars!” Tilly is unmoved. Archibald reaches boldly forward and gives the upholstered arm of an armchair a squeeze. Tilly blushes. Seizing the moment, Archibald opens his violin case and starts to play. “A skilled violinist can play the violin like it is a violin,” he mutters suavely. Tilly collapses on the floor, a trembling wreck, and holds on for dear life to the standard lamp.

Friday 22 April 2011

Great Lengths

After his adventures among the pretentious parallelograms, the insinuating squares and the tricksy triangles, Leon finds himself in a land where the only inhabitants are Lines. Here he feels at home right away: there’s no side to any of them.

(With apologies to Edwin A Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions.)

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Mavis Complains ...

That feller I was telling you about, no, not him, the one who night after night plays to full houses at the Palladium doing his stand-up routine, yes, him, well, it was all right between us in the early days, but then he started to get a bit funny.

Saturday 16 April 2011

No Hoper, No Shopper

While you were boring all around you with your exhausting bonhomie, a terrible anomie has descended on Clive. It extends even to getting the shopping. In the grocery aisle, Leon asks him “Did you write down what we need?” “No,” he replies listlessly.

Monday 11 April 2011

Two Squares

While you were talking about Fermat with a lady on the bus, Leon and Clive have both made busts of the great mathematician for the village sculpture competition. Clive feels that his expressive maquette has caught something of the character of the man, but Leon is having none of it. “Mine is a hundred times better,” he says in a calculated insult.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Stoppage no more

Algernon Swift, tired of reading insufficiently punctuated writing, invents a machine that pumps punctuation into a text. Experimentally, he sets the machine to (:) and applies it to Rebecca:

Last night: I dreamt: I went to Manderley again: It seemed to me: I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive: and for a while I could not enter: for the way was barred to me: there was a padlock and a chain upon the gate.

The result is as uncomfortable as you would expect from colonic irrigation.

(But worse is to come when Swift, turning the colon dial through ninety degrees, gets chronic diaeresis.)