Whoops. Or whoopsie-daisy for the more formal amongst us. I seem to have made an error.

I was able to recognise it because I remember making one once before – 1959, I think. The things crop up every so often. In this case it was a mistaken coat of paint on a model airplane.

The plane was fine to begin with and so was the paint in the jar, but the application was done thoughtlessly – and the result showed it. A botched piece of art, without even the saving grace of a high price tag.

Mistakes are one thing, mistakes when you know the proper thing to do are another- and I did know what to do because I’d read the proper procedure and had done it before. This was careless error.

I paid for it – with a couple of hours of gnawing dissatisfaction and then a further hour of hard work scrubbing the whole mess off the model with methylated spirits. Yesterday I spent more time carefully re-coating the plane with the undercoat and then carefully spraying layer after layer of thin paint with plenty of drying time between coats. Today there will be further masking and detail painting, and tomorrow I’ll be where I could have been two days ago.

Moral? And it’s one that you can apply to every facet of life:  Do it right the first time or the last time. If you’re smart these can be the same occasion, and then you’ll have more time to do more fun things.

The Pavise of Righteousness

If you don’t know what a pavise is, Google.

When I owned a reproduction of a medieval crossbow – legally, I might add – for a good purpose – legal, I might add – I often thought of making a pavise. I have passed from this phase of hobby interest for some years but I regret not giving way to that impulse at the time. It could have been a work of art.

As it is, I might still construct one, but on a virtual basis. There is still a need to shelter from the enemy’s fury as I reload my arguments and satire. The sound of other arrows and bolts thumping into the wood of a pavise while you were winding your windlass  behind it must have been grating to the artistic sensibility – particularly if you had an expensive picture of a saint painted on the front. But it would be nothing to the distress of having those same bolts landing in you.

The basis of the medieval pavise was a stout wooden shield that could be propped onto the ground with a back-stay. It had to be thick enough to take the shots but light enough to pick up and move forward as you advanced. If you were retreating it could be abandoned. This is a pretty good capsule description of a lot of political and moral positions these days.

I shall research a strong position on most controversies and paint a pious picture on the front of my virtual pavise to indicate faith in them. I’m a little doubtful about pictures of Trump, Biden, or Xi. And not a lot more comfortable with Merkel, Morrison, or Johnson.

I refuse to paint a picture of St. Jane of Fonda on the front of anything and I don’t have enough brown paint in the workshop  to do Dusky Justin credit. And pavises were vertical rectangles with a little dome at the top – not horizontal ones. No good trying to fit Clive Palmer on one.

Besides which, it would be an arrow and bolt trap anyway…


Just Perfect

It all has to be just perfect.

Just a perfect day. Just a perfect place. Just perfect people doing perfect things with perfect possessions. Holding perfect opinions.

This is the theme of many stories and advertisements – whether they are printed or screened – and many people have taken the idea to be…well…perfect. They seek to do, be, emulate, simulate, possess, and achieve that portrayed perfection.

There is also perfection in the plant and animal world – perfect examples of genus, species, and family that express the clearest examples of anything. No flaws – no imperfections – no deviation from the norm.

You can see them in bottles in the Natural History Museum or pinned to boards in display cases…

Perfection. A key to immortality.


Adapted From The Novel Of A Different Name

With an entirely new plot. And characters that the original author would have been ashamed to think up. Now brought to you on any screen that will take it by an actor who cannot get hired by anyone else other than himself.

If you thought that ” singer-songwriter ” were the most frightening words in the English language, let me horrify you further.

” actor-director “.

Or worse…

” actor-director-producer “…with their own studio and the backing of a semi-religious organisation. Let us hope the film is about the making of sausages because with a business and artistic model like this one can certainly expect the wurst.

I am accustomed to seeing real writers lured to Holly, Dolly, or Bollywood to churn for the studios. Churn out novels, scripts, re-writes, butter, stomachs…whatever. They have long wailed their piteous complaints about it as they pocketed the cash and we’ve seen some reasonable novels and a funny movie made about it. But so far we haven’t an actor-director-producer-studio combination with the nerve to admit their sins that clearly. It needs another Spinal Tap fake doco to put the put the wunderkindern and wunderaltern in real perspective.

Or at least CGI them smooth…


” Educating The Public “

Or ” How I learned to justify my hobby by pretending it was educational “.

I am a hobbyist. At any one time I am deeply engaged in some expensive pursuit that does nothing whatever for the rest of mankind…but pleases me thoroughly. It has been model boats, ships, cars, old-fashioned firearms, dress-ups, studio photography…etc, etc, etc. No money has been made through these activities but no-one has died, either. I have largely been kept off the streets and the local retailers have benefitted.

The various activities have always been designed to please me – and to some extent have done so – and haven’t been too injurious to the environment. They have been – in the words of the philosopher ” innocent enjoyment “. That should be the whole of it…but people being who they are, this is rarely satisfactory…we are constantly trying to justify our fun by pretending that it is educational for the public. Here’s the flaws in that:

a. It isn’t. Watching you run a toy train through a plaster landscape doesn’t make anyone smarter…unless they were primed beforehand to see a specific detail of your layout. You cannot preach to the congregation – only to the choir.

b. The general public is fed on the production of the television and at the lowest pressure of that, as it is. You cannot compete on any level of stupidity with ” Big Brother” or ” Celebrity Chef ” no matter how low you sink. Do not try.

c. Your presentation of anything is a secondhand, thirdhand, or hired hand performance. What you learned from a book – flawed as it was – will become worse when you do it. You Are essentially inbreeding information that will not improve the species.

d. The public doesn’t participate in the benefit of what you do…and there is a real, real benefit for you. They also do not participate in the expense. They are just there to jeer, and you are generally not allowed to insult back – they are the great public, after all. You can be on a hiding to nothing from the start.

So. So what to do? How do you justify your hobby?

You don’t. You tell the truth to yourself – it is a study for yourself – an intellectual pursuit – a game -a collection or workshop or encampment for you alone. You will pay for it, do it, learn from it, not learn from it, or be disgusted by it in turn. Do not try to hang anything on anyone else – good or bad. Just do it for you. You’ll appreciate it all the more.

” Unaccustomed As I Am To Public Speaking…”

You can’t beat the classics. When you hear that one you know someone is going to get the beating they deserve. It might be the speaker or it might be the audience. It’s a 50/50 bet.

And it’s a sucker bet if you don’t know the person on the podium – or know how long they are going to be allowed to speak. That intro has been the portal to public speaking hell many times before…

It’s a fraught thing, too, for the speaker if they don’t know the audience. How many of them are good listeners? How many of them are as dumb as a bag of hammers. How many of them are packing sidearms? The speaker will want to know, or at least be closer to the door than they are.

The best bet for a speaker is to be frank, honest, and brief. They need not be funny, unless they’re doing the dinner show in a Catskill resort. And the very best insurance is to present a stock speech – to have done it before. Even if the speaker doesn’t not know what the hell they’re on about, like a Presidential candidate, if they’ve said before they’ll at least recognise the rhythm of their voice…as they lie shamelessly.

And then there is the applause. Speakers often mistake tumultuous applause as evidence that the audience loves them and agrees with them. Nothing of the sort -a big round of applause may erupt for the fact that they have come to the end, shut up, and can be taken outside to be tarred and feathered.

The best accolade for a serious speech is a breathless silence during the delivery –  for a comic one it is someone going into an uncontrollable laughing jag and being carted out of the room by Security. I have observed both from a podium.

And in conclusion…

Liquid Control Interface Operation

Before you switch over to the cat’s channel, this isn’t another one of those technical manuals written by a lawyer. Nor is it bid to sell you dietary supplements. I am not even asking you to march through the streets looting and burning.

It’s just a quick note on how to control your weblog essays through liquid interfacing.

a. Column is not starting. Blog is cold. Flywheel is motionless.

Brew a pot of coffee and drink a half a cup. Dose it however you wish – sugar, milk, soy, whatever – or not. After you have downed half a cup pour more into the cup and head for the computer. Think of something that someone said last week -and it can be anything from a wonderful poem to a snarled insult. There is your topic and your flywheel is turning on caffeine and away you go.

b. Column is boring. You re-read it and even you are bored. This isn’t leftover stuff…this is re-hashed rehash. Ketchup couldn’t rescue it.

Go to the drinks cabinet and pour a half a tot. Rum, whiskey, gin, whatever. Half a tot – 30 ml. Say God Bless The Queen and down it.

By the time you get back to the computer the lid of reality will have loosened. Hopefully, just enough to let the boring escape and leave the good parts of your essay still bubbling there…because you DO have something to build from already. You were just looking at it with tired eyes.

When you have tightened it up, cleaned and polished the grammar, and inserted a slyly dirty joke, you may have the other half of the tot. With soda water.

More tots will carry you into dangerous ground. Take my advice – a friend doesn’t let a friend write drunk. They certainly don’t let them post essays drunk.

c. Column is unfinished. And it is 11:30 at night for an 8:00AM  posting. You feel like a dishrag.

Go to the kitchen. Make a cup of cocoa with two spoons of cocoa, two spoons of sugar, and hot milk. This takes it from being mere hot chocolate to being kye.

Kye is what watchkeepers on HM ships drink to keep them awake on the bridge. It will not let them sleep, nor will it you. You will be able to finish your column and do your taxes before the sun rises. Or hunt U-boats, if the taxes are already done.

Ping… Ping… Ping…Ping…Ping-a…


The Celebrity Strip Stripped Naked

I read a number of comic strips every day – they are a wonderful antidote to the miseries of the news broadcasts. They do reflect these – comedy can be made out of tragedy. Some try harder than others…and some get it wrong.

”  Least I Could Do ” is a satirical strip detailing life from the point of view of a narcissistic young man in the USA. He has a splendid job, forgiving friends, and long-suffering relatives and partners. He is selfish, funny, and stupid from day to day.

The strip is written by one man, drawn by another, and marketed by a small team who tour comic conventions and sell all the merchandise that this sort of success produces. Normally I enjoy it and would pass most of its foibles by as legitimate humour.

Not today -The writer and the artist have conflated the service personnel of the US, Great Britain, and Canada who participated in the D-Day Normandy landings and the defeat of the Wehrmacht with the current band of political terrorists, Antifa.

Poor form, poor thinking, and poor taste. An unnecessary venture into politics by people who really should know better – the writer and the artist. They’ll sneer and jeer and start off on another smarmy theme shortly, using the comic strip character to mouth their opinions – but they have done the real WWII veterans no service  – nor have they rendered it to their poor torn country

Shame on them.

” Perth Is Boring “

We’ve all heard this one. You can substitute any other place name you like for ” Perth “. The effect would be the same; someone is unpleased with the place that they live…and wants something different.

I noted this while reading a mild debate about the erection of a public sculpture ( note: erection, not demolition…). An artist wants to sell a metal sculpture of a dinosaur to the state government – or the city council – and place it in the middle of our riverfront. Not a little sculpture , but a massive 90 metre one – and for a mere $ 1,000,000. Apparently it would draw the attention of visitors.

Frankly it should draw the attention of the taxation department, the ACCC,  and the Commissioners in Lunacy.

There are enough eye-sores in our landscape as it is – we do not need to erect more.

If people find Perth boring, it is because they are either easily bored or boring themselves. Demand for spectacle and entertainment was all very well when you could set gladiators to kill each other or lions to devour Christians. Look what great things it did for the Romans, and how well we think of them for it. You could as well demand relief of boredom by instituting the same measures as they do in Syria – artillery barrages and gas attacks. No-one bored then, eh?

Or you could address the problem of personal boredom by compelling people to undertake activities and studies that would fill their minds or develop their bodies. We did it in school and were busy instead of bored. Adults have all the world in front of them to develop and learn – boredom is laziness without even the excuse of fatigue.


Arranging Adequate Outrage

If you wish to draw attention to yourself – for commercial gain or personal pleasure – there is no better way these days than to demand that people be outraged. The way society has been carefully prepared and cocked, they are all to happy to be triggered off by something. Anything. Everything.

If you are an artist and your work is selling badly, or not at all, you would be well advised to arrange to become a victim of something. Then demand that others be distressed at your plight. Believe me, there are plenty of people out there who will be incandescent with rage about whatever you set in front of them. They would have been equally so at the sight of a tram ticket, but that is beside the point – you want their angst in a pressure vessel that can be sprayed onto the market garden in hopes of a crop of money or publicity.

If you are not particularly arty – perhaps you are a maker of water pipes or own a firm that resurfaces driveways – but still want to benefit in a commercial way from the instant publicity of a lynching or sexual misconduct allegation, you are going to have to become artful. The capture of the mob mentality is certainly possible, but you need to appeal to their best worst instincts.

Attach the name of your product to some currently popular concept. Animal kindness and/or cruelty or gender politics ( and let me tell you, their how to vote card is a steamer…), or the canonization of Che Guevara. Then complain that someone will not let you do something. Cite the vested interests or the police or the church or Woolworth’s. Cite anything at all, but get the readers to groan with the perceived injustice of it all.

Remember, every Facebook like, emoticon, share, or angry response is money in the bank. Not yours, necessarily, but someone’s. And some of it may overflow like lava onto you. It’s all hot sugar and somewhere there is a mountain of it just laughing to itself…