Monday, 28 January 2013

The (w)hole in the wall truth

Is language an adequate medium through which to laud the dazzling wonders of our Information Age? I was especially impressed last week to find that one ATM in Hertford had broadened the range of articles it dispenses beyond the mundanities of cash and balance slips into pithy, if somewhat cynical observations concerning this complex web of phenomena we call our life on earth.

On the evening in question this new service took the form of the following piece of advice:


Given that this message emanated from a multi-national corporate uber-globule (I'm sure the designation is technically correct), we must surely rule out the possibility that an apostrophe is missing from 'strangers', and therefore conclude that I was being advised to reject, without qualification, the proposition that those unknown to us can render any form of real assistance.  This, of course, places the Hertford cash facility -  as a social and moral philosopher - in opposition to such luminaries as Tennessee Williams and The Bible, but then again when did they last provide anyone with  £20.00 and a list of their most recent transactions.

I waited for some time to see if the machine might either expand upon or add to this nugget, so that I would leave further enriched in mind and spirit as well as wallet, but - although it waxed eloquent on index-tethered isa compounds and double-indemnified mortgage bonds (more or less), no further mechanical Montaigne moments occurred.  I was hoping it might have enlightened me on the paradox of light being a wave and a particle, or even advised me to 'neither a borrower nor a lender be', which would have been amusingly ironic, but alas, it was not the case.

I waved a sad farewell to my Aphoristic Trivia Machine and strode off to encounter the 16.39 to Stevenage, bristling with a new propensity to shun the assistance of anyone to whom I had not been properly introduced.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The fun they had

Let me transport you - as your environment dissolves into a combination of theremin music and dubious spiral-based special effects - back to a simpler time, some years ago.  The scene - a modestly attractive market town, nestling snugly against the unassuming verdancy of the Hertfordshire countryside.  It would be paltering with the truth to say that this place is dissimilar in most respects to Hitchin.

These were strange, primitive times, that modern Dark Age before everybody was allowed on the internet.  Your humble blogger was lodging with a close friend and, when the long winter darknesses rendered our mutual passion for cycling impractical, and being not yet able to Tweet, Facebook or virtually surf in any way, we evolved The Dictionary Game.  Just as the simplicity of the rules in chess belie the bewildering complexity of possibilities and permutations in that game, so the operating procedure for TDG only hints at the riches and excitement to which it leads.  Pick a number. Well done - you've played this before, haven't you. Since you're on a roll, pick another, and instruct your playmate to look up page x and word y in a dictionary, where x and y are those very numbers just picked.  Some preliminary parameter establishment is of course necessary, to ensure that x is not greater than z, where the latter represents the number of pages in the lexicon being used.  A further, exciting refinement becomes necessary if the mighty Shorter Oxford Dictionary (or similar) is being employed, its brace of volumes requiring a further choice between the numbers 1 and 2.

Now ask the dictionary holder to read the word specified, marvel at its exotic and surprising nature, stroke your chin in quiet thought as you explore its etymology and identify words from the same root, and strive to introduce it into popular parlance.  If the word is 'cat' (or similar) simply start again.

By far the finest word we discovered thus is poodle-faker:


  1. (slang) A man who seeks out female society, especially for social or professional advancement.
  2. (slang) A recently commissioned officer. **

which I have largely failed to make common parlance, despite employing it at every opportunity, and even sometimes accurately.

We also looked at maps.

**Thanks to Wiktionary

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Calls may be monitored and recorded

While seeking a new position in Bookland, (I rather fancy being its Ambassador, with epaulets, but am waiting for the role to be conceived of) I have been been employed in a temporary capacity as both a bookseller and a telephone market researcher.  The latter role, which involves B2B survey response solicitation (English translation available on request) has prompted me to wonder whether publishers might benefit from the same approach.

Imagine the scene. Our telephone surveyor is presented with a list of families whose quantifiable and observable consumer behaviours may indicate the presence of a fiction reader within their ranks.  A state-of-the-art computer system presents the researcher with the next telephone number, and the call is answered.   After a suitably enticing introduction, which might run thus:

Good morning or afternoon, sir or madam, my name is David.  Is it possible to speak to the novel reader in the household, please? I'm looking for just a few minutes of their time to gather some feedback on the quality and content of modern fiction. This is not a sales call, their answers will be treated with complete confidentiality and will be used by the publishing industry to to improve the quality of its characters, descriptions and narrative dynamics. Thank you.

There would then follow a comprehensive and rigorously-structured matrix of questions, expertly assembled by crack Knowledge Engineers to solicit the maximum practical data yield.  

Sample  sections would include:

Now, thinking about the last novel you read and its principal narrator, would you say that person was:

(a) Omniscient

(b) Reasonably trustworthy

(c) Utterly unreliable

(d) Not to be touched with a barge-pole

and -

I'd like you now to consider any passages in your novel which explicitly described sexual incidents. Did you find such scenes:

(a) Moving and arousing

(b) Gratuitous, redolent of authorial wish-fulfillment, but otherwise inoffensive

(c) Unintentionally hilarious, due to the use of bizarre imagery and metaphor

(d) Seeming to relate to some species other than human, and likely to produce not insignificant physical damage if attempted in reality

and also -

I wonder if you could you tell me, with respect to the 'blurb' or 'endorsement' on the front cover of your novel, did it:

(a) Understate the sheer literary brilliance and emotional heft of the book

(b) More or less, albeit a trifle hysterically, reflect your reading experience

(c) Compare the book to two or more other writers or works in a manner which, at the time of creating the blurb, must have sounded terrifically erudite to the blurb-writer but actually resulted in evoking some kind of bizarre Frankensteinian construct, e.g. 'As if Poe were re-writing Austen with Kafka's fountain pen'

(d) sound eerily similar to the blurb written by the author of your book for the most recent novel written by the blurb-writer.

And so on.

I could have, but chose not to, prevented myself from departing with a few more literary works which are appropriate to the current weather scenario:

Frozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Icing the Body Electric
The Adventures of Sexton Flake.

I will practice that restraint.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Toll tales from a Frenchman

There is, of course, nothing worse than an undeclared vested interest (except, perhaps, for oxtail soup).  It is in recognition of this truism that I am popping a jaunty fluorescent vest onto this blog post to declare that it reviews a book published by Aurora Metro, for whom I am about to start some freelance work.  The reverse side of this lurid garment declares, with equal stridency, that the positive reaction to said book - brought to you right after this paragraph - is as veined with honesty as is a fine blue cheese with vein-like blue bits.  As a clinching argument, allow me to assert that blue cheese is much nicer than oxtail soup, which I don't eat anyway because I'm a vegetarian (probably because of the taste of oxtail soup).

The Scream by Laurent Graff, translated from the French by Cheryl Robson and Claire Alejo, is an enigmatic novella which ostensibly depicts the fable-like journey of its narrator through a world ravaged by the effects of a mysterious noise, which most of the population can hear and which torments them into fatal agony.  As the story progresses, the original of Edvard Munch's eponymous painting makes a surreal appearance, as our hero takes it on a road trip along a deserted motorway.

This kind of dream-like scenario, with elements of allegory, myth and symbolism, is not easy to do well, and the remainder bins of the world are groaning with miscarried attempts.  Graff, however, pulls the task off beautifully, and uses an intriguing setting which allows him to marry his play with symbol, mood and plot to a credible (if eccentric) narrative that is compelling in its own right.  The narrator is an attendant in a motorway toll booth, and Graff deftly describes the strange beauty, poetry and contentment that the nameless protagonist finds in this occupation.  Some of the best passages in the book, in fact, are given to the central character's descriptions of his emotional and philosophical approaches to the world: 

'I like being bored. I see it as a natural part of everyday life, a mild climate for the soul, like being in a hammock suspended in time between two palm trees.'

Graff also excels in writing about the apparently unpromising environment of a major urban road system, investing it with a beauty and strangeness in a light style that steers well clear of pretentiousness (I am ignoring the temptation to extend the driving metaphor; I hope you appreciate this restraint). There are also several arresting and amusing diversions (sorry - there I go) in the book based on incidental characters, including the gradual transformation of a policeman into a lounge singer and the hilarious but poignant story of a man obsessed with road signs.

The wider themes which emanate from the novel - about (to name a few) travel, place, reality and simulacra, suffering, art and our relationships with friends and strangers - do so with grace and subtlety, and are given a new perspective by the ending.

I found this book to be a very worthy addition to the canon of very short but significant novels; it's already made friends with The Great Gatsby and is inviting The Stranger round for scones (although it's somewhat in awe of both). The Scream also stands interesting comparison to those JG Ballard tales which create a disturbing, poetic world of prose around the subjects of cars and roads, The Crash and Concrete Island.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Maxwell nous

There are certain books which transcend their status as collections of words on paper (or quantum splodges in e-space) and, like kaleidoscopes, benignly shatter and transform their reader's perspectives.  With these books, one is sent on extraordinary journeys of thought, perception and experience, and one's soul is tinged with enduring magic.  This is very much the case for me with one of last year's surprise literary best-sellers, On Poetry, by Glyn Maxwell, which I have almost finished reading (thanks to the estimable Hertfordshire library service).

The book's central theme and plea is that form is the animating essence of poetry, be it in the guise of rhyme, metre or the division of line, and that poetry without any of these elements is a pallid, lifeless imitation of the real thing. Maxwell does not scruple to observe that a great deal of contemporary, alleged poetry falls into this latter category.  The brilliance and passion of the book lies in the way that the author goes about defining and analysing poetry, cleverly using an approach which is at once basically physical and imaginatively sensitive.  On Poetry invites us to view a poem as a method of marking the blank whiteness of the paper with the shapes of black ink (an approach echoed in the strikingly minimalist cover); to examine what shapes the ink makes, how the appearance of the lines varies, and what kinds of new relationships are formed between the two.  From this point, the book goes on to explore how verse structure, rhyme, alliteration, metre and line-endings embody the voice of the poem, and how, at its best, poetry uses these techniques because they not so much clothe, or present, but enact the sentiment, thought or feeling that the poet expresses.  Maxwell's close reading of poems, especially Edward Thomas' Old Man, are both exquisite in their perception and detail and very able demonstrations of his thesis.  Maxwell invites those who proclaim that the formal approach is an outmoded or irrelevant one to consider why it is that poems employing such devices have survived, and makes an audaciously 'unpoetic' comparison to those aspects of human behaviour which have allowed us to survive as a species, yoking together evolutionary theory and poetic quality in a way that not only avoids sounding pretentious but resounds with the ring of surprising credibility.  Another very useful and well-expressed strand in the book is Maxwell's survey of the development of these formal aspects of poetry, whereby he provides an idiosyncratic and engaging potted history of European literature.

The voice of the book is never portentous; a tone of insouciant wit wafts happily alongside the passion and didacticism, and there are good and frequent humorous passages, including a series of brilliant set pieces featuring Maxwell's creative writing class, which (embellished by comic exaggeration) describe some of his ingenious methods of encouraging students to think about and create poetry in fresh and genuine ways, and to wrest said students free of the lazy or cliched response.

I am very conscious that my review - having been constructed using insufficient time and eloquence - has not only failed to do justice to, but practically blasphemed against this book and the pleasure and wonder it has given me.  I can only urge you to acquire a copy and hope that you will be as joyfully educated, enlightened and inspired as I have been to both read and write poetry with a fresh and new appetite.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Snow - thine enemy

I grew foolishly complacent yesterday, having assumed that Hertfordshire had swerved nimbly enough in a southward direction to avoid this year's snowfall, and thus inflict it on Essex.  To my horror, I woke up this morning to see a front garden like a coat of arms with a field of white against which were various confused birds rampant, (if not hopping mad).

One of the happier book jackets
Whenever the Devil's dandruff descends in this manner, I am put in mind of the second (and titular) volume in Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series.  This brilliant pentalogy (put that in your look-up matrix, Blogger spell-check) for less old readers weaves various strands of British mythology and fable into a series of adventures involving the three Drew children, who become involved in an aspect of the eternal battle between darkness and light.  Do not be daunted if this sounds like a perfect recipe for cliche, nor should your curiosity be quenched at birth either by some of the more recent book jackets inflicted upon the books (which would be bland and garish if they were much better) nor the disastrous film which took the name of the series - and the second book in particular - in vain.  Cooper's characterisation, style and - most importantly - deft manipulation of mythic and historical figures and themes, and the way she uses them as the engines of the narratives - make this a very successful, interesting and important series.  Lest you were wondering, it is the unnaturally wild and wet weather featured in this book, summoned by The Baddies (I'm sorry, The Dark Ones) which is my pretext for this reference, although I reserve the right to proselytize these works on any and all occasions.

In the meantime, may I suggest some rarer works of literature appropriate to the current climatic  profile, namely:

Two Snowball Kinsmen
The White Stuff
A Place of Gritter Safety
Ploughers for Algernon

and, of course -

The Elegance of the Sledgehog.

Wrap up warm out there.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Another serving from the Twisted Spon

Christmas is of course a period steeped in fable and mythology. Leaving aside the level of literal truth or otherwise we ascribe to the nativity story, there are the fantastical elements of the St. Nicholas legends and the season's pagan references, including those which have been absorbed or repeated in some aspects of the Saviour tale.  This year however, I seem to have been more deeply surrounded than usual by the fascinating, dangerous thickets of fairy tale and myth.  

Having enjoyed the privilege of serving the reading public in a retail capacity at The Bookshop, I have not been oblivious to the considerable demand for Philip Pullman's interpretation of the Grimm stories, while I also had the pleasure there of discovering a beautiful edition of  those tales produced by Taschen. The latter selects and reproduces a series of stunning illustrations and marries them with the texts with the aesthetic and technical expertise one would expect from a leading publisher of illustrated books (see above).  Furthermore, one of my Christmas presents was Gossip from the Forest, by Sara Maitland, whose enticing subtitle is 'The tangled Roots of our Forests and Fairytales'. 

Even furthermore, I have just emerged from the mysterious and utterly absorbing world of Czech folk stories, in the form of A Bouquet, by Karel Jaromír Erben, kindly donated by Twisted Spoon Press. This collection, first published against the background of European turmoil in 1853, comprises a series of poems (translated as such) which narrate stories of piety, love, foul (including murderous) and fair deeds and miraculous occurrences. As the introduction explains, these tales acquired tremendous significance for the Czechs' re-assertion of their national identity, and, having inspired music by Dvořák, continue to be the basis of work in various media, including the stage and the small and large screens.  They are far from lacking in general appeal, however, combining as they do quite familiar tropes and themes from folk song and fairy tale (family betrayal, parental and romantic love and loss, divine intervention, supernatural visitations) with settings and elements which are more unusual, and with a penchant for violent denouements that rivals any modern horror sensibility.  Woe betide a mortal female who gives and breaks their word to a Czech merman, for example.  Nature is a key element in these tales, whether it be as a beautifully-described background:

From the west a cold wind brushes everything;
Yellowed leaves softly begin to sing.
Familiar song: every autumn they compose it,

or an active, antagonistic participant:

Razor-sharp, the grass blades cut
the poor girl's white and tender feet.
And the green fern's furling frond
is colored with her fresh blood

and there is often a specifically Christian moral lesson to be drawn, but the stories vary tremendously in their settings and incidents.  It is also interesting to see how particular activities are emphasised; spinning, for example, is used both literally and symbolically to underline the value of dutiful and productive behaviour and connection to nature, as well as being a metaphor for fate.

The outstanding piece for me is Zahor's Bed, which combines allegory, great narrative energy and lyrical description of a very high order to produce a religious fable that is at once mysterious, compelling and very moving; the kind of writing that leaves you rippling with delicious shivers of pleasure and remains pulsing in the soul for days afterwards.

It seems churlish to close with a brace of quibbles, but I felt frustrated that the brilliant, fervently intense and (literally and otherwise) dark illustrations by Alén Diviš were not more plentiful, and that those lines which worked less well in English were not subject to better editorial scrutiny.  Generally, however, Marcela Malek Sulak has performed outstandingly in this capacity, and had me murmuring with frequent pleasure at her use of rhythm, rhyme and imagery.  Neither of those points prevents this book from being a wonderful reading experience and a beautiful physical object which would grace your own bookshelves and make a perfect gift for a favoured friend.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Have you heard the one about.....

Never let it be said that the Arts Council disburses its funds with any but the most serious intentions to promote the worthiest and most significant of causes.  It is thanks to the generosity and perspicacity of this august body that the work, uniquely previewed here, of an outstanding  researcher has been able to flourish; work which will leave all of us in the land of letters considerably richer in the only currencies that ultimately endure - knowledge and insight.

The area into which our doughty colleague has been sweeping the beacon of understanding can roughly be described - to the lay person - as non-linear and ironic observational systems as pertaining to literature redistribution.  It is with supreme consideration and condescension, however, that the published work will be given the somewhat more demotic title of 'The Booksellers' and Librarians' Joke Book'. The first glittering entries into this tome have been long in the unearthing, and it is my undeserved privilege to unveil them here for you.

A woman walks into a bookshop and asks: 'Have you anything by Hilary Mantel?'
'Of course', replies the bookseller, 'Katherine Mansfield is just to her left.'

A man walks out of a bookshop carrying a large number of volumes, none of which has benefited from a visit to the payment point.
'I say' declares a panting bookseller who pursues him into the street; 'What gives?'
'Fear not' replies the former, 'They came from the self-help section'.

A woman walks into a bookshop.
'Ouch!' she complains; 'How embarrassing not to have noticed so large a building.'

A man walks into a library on the first working day after Easter, and asks for a particular book.
'I'm sorry' a regretful Librarian apologises; 'It's just been Lent'.

A  woman walks into a bookshop and somewhat naively enquires:
'Do you have Kindles?'
'No' replies the bookseller, 'It's just the way I'm standing'.

person of indeterminate gender walks into a bookshop and launches this dual interrogation:
'Could you remind me who wrote The Glass Bead Game, and also please apprise me of your stockholding vis a vis the author of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.' 
To which the bookseller responds, in a lilting manner:
'Hesse; we have no Al Garners.'

I would be pleased to pass on contributions of a similar quality to the researcher.

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Secret Origins of Literature #1

Thanks to a series of wholly unfeasible events, there has come into my possession the collected works of an obscure and wildly eccentric literary academic, whose identity I am pledged to maintain as an enigma.  These pieces claim to provide new and radically divergent insights into the creation and conception of various literary ideas and productions; they are humbly offered on this social platform for you to make of them what you will.

We begin in New Hampshire, in 1916, as an elderly woman and her friend are fondly examining the antics of a member of the family Bufonidae, which is hopping in a somewhat laboured manner about the former's front garden.  The latter female enquires about the nature and provenance of this creature, and receives the explanation that it was purchased from a local pet store, whose owner was able to offer a choice between this and one other such animal. The present owner's eye, however, was attracted to the animal in question by said creature's exhibition of a somewhat forlorn and awkward demeanour, almost, one might have said, as if it had been suffering from the after-effects of some inebriative experience.  On pressing the proprietor for more information, our lady had it explained to her that the animal had, somehow, appeared on the lectern at a local auction house at precisely the moment when the hammer of the presiding official, one Elizabeth Bickford, was descending upon the identical spot with not unformidable force and speed.  Miss Bickford was renowned locally for the gusto with which she delivered the blows regularly required of her by her profession, displaying a vigour in this respect which caused many a male counterpart to hang his head in awe and shame.  The poor creature had no time to engage in flight, and so received the full force of Miss Bickford's action upon its crown, whereupon it stared ahead through a glazed expression for a brief instant, before emitting a plaintive and feeble 'croak' and falling gracefully to the floor.  Its predicament was perceived by many a concerned auction-goer, among whom, as fortune would have it, was a gentlemen of the veterinary persuasion, who was able to resuscitate the stricken animal and hurry it away to his nearby practice.  The victim having responded well to a day's rest, although still sufficiently afflicted to preclude its survival in its natural milieu, our medical Samaritan thought it best to convey it to the nearest pet store, which was how its eventual owner came to make its acquaintance.

'Yes -' explained this lady to her companion, 'I had long hankered for such a creature, and on being confronted with a pair of them, I was not at first convinced of which to choose.  However, on hearing its surprising story and knowing its plight - my mind was made up.'

At this point, a poet in his early forties was wandering past, at a distance which did not quite permit the clear audibility of the woman's concluding phrase:

'I took the toad Bess gavelled.'

Friday, 4 January 2013

Things that go 'Oink' in the night

A few posts ago, I mentioned the discovery of a series from Wordsworth Editions called Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural.  Three titles from this range were delivered on Christmas Eve by St. Nicholas, whose ashen face, nervous demeanour and somewhat dilated pupils suggested that he had been sampling the wares, (purely in the interests of quality control, I imagine).  In any case, his condition was nothing that a few fortified mince pies could not reverse, and he was his archetypal blithe self again as he sped into the night.  My wife and I have now both enjoyed The Casebook of Carnacki, the Ghost Finder, by WH Hodgson, and I thought I would celebrate this rare and happy spousal coincidence of literary satisfaction with a few words about this book.

Our hero, whose exploits first appeared in The Idler in 1910, is a gentleman of leisure who frequently invites a quartet of friends to dinner - one of whom narrates the stories - and regales these companions with post-prandial accounts of his investigations into apparently paranormal phenomena.  These ghostly goings-on range from mysterious stabbings, through apparitions of phantom children to malign, other-worldly equine and (in the particularly unsettling final tale) porcine manifestations, and are discovered by Carnacki to be caused variously by elaborate human chicanery, genuine supernatural entities, or both. The environment favoured by Hodgson for these tales is that of a vast country estate, populated by families and friends who may be harbouring sinister intentions, and by servants who tend to flee in a huddled mass in the face of apparent mystical mischief, but who occasionally make a reluctant stand.  Imagine Downton Abbey written by Dennis Wheatley, or Scooby Doo by Julian Fellowes, for that matter.

Carnacki investigates these cases by applying a combination of Holmesian forensic and deductive techniques and his knowledge of the supernatural realms, and brings to bear a range of marvellous devices related to the non-earthly aspect of his work.  Thus the stories embody the profound fascination of this period with both the scientific / technological and the spiritual, which is one of the reasons they remain interesting and worthwhile. Another appeal to the modern reader is that these stories (and the genre of which they are among the finest examples) prefigure many later forms and trends, for example: the paranormal detective novels that are so in vogue at present; a fair amount of graphic novel work (e.g. Alan Moore's John Constantine, who became the hero of 'Hellblazer'), many children's TV series and even some aspects of steampunk (witness Carnacki's deployment of the amazing Electric Pentacle).  The best justification for the stories' continued availability, however, is that they are beautifully written.  Hodgson combines a mixture of elegant prose, droll characterisation and vivid description, especially when it comes to delineating various forms of terror and anxiety, to which his protagonist is endearingly, far from immune:

'It produced in me a temporary dazedness in which things and the horror of things became less real.  I stared at them, as a child stares out from a fast train at a quickly passing night-landscape, oddly lit by the furnaces of unknown industries.'

The supernatural lore and literature drawn on by Carnacki is sketched in with a tantalising coyness, providing just enough detail to intrigue and lend an air of (within the context) credibility.  There are constant references to the Sigsand text and the gorgeously vowel-bloated Saaamaaa Ritual, with its unfathomably powerful Unknown Last Line.  This cocktail of precision and vagueness is enhanced by references throughout the stories to the Case of the Black Veil, which is never expanded upon. It is not until the conclusion of The Hog, which features the aforesaid swine of Satan, that Carnacki does anything like flesh out his view of the nature and location of the forces against which he has battled, and the beautifully sustained tone of near-pastiche is continued as he does so.

Please read these stories, and support their estimable publisher by buying the book, several times.  Before you open it, however, do ensure your Pentacle is plugged into the mains.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Some I prepared earlier

In the spirit of newness and resolve that stalks abroad at this time of year, I thought I would post some of my own home-knitted verse today.  Having pontificated here and there on the nature and quality of great writing that doesn't reach the right-hand margin, I would not presume to attach the label 'poetry' to what lies below; but, despite their limited intention being to raise a chuckle or at least a wry smirk, these artefacts are solidly-fashioned, with reliable joints, and they're guaranteed not to leak even after repeated use.


Strong Words

Satirists work hard
In the literary gym
Pumping irony.

Heard on The Shipping Forecast

This complex system
Losing its identity
Moving to the North.

While Stocks Last

The price of Freedom,
Once eternal vigilance,
Now! Ten pounds fifty.


Is life far too short
For psuedo-Oriental
Syllable juggling?


Bawled Adam to Eve: 'I’m beguiled.
With sorrow my psyche is piled.
In a flash of despair
I have just grown aware
That I never shall have been a child.'

An angel who’s mired within
Debauchery, Evil and Sin.
Proclaims with a wince –
'I’ve been this way since
I fell off the edge of that pin.'

Said God to an archangel – 'Gosh!
Your blueprint for Hell’s utter tosh.'
So He did something weird
With the end of his beard
And invented Hieronymus Bosch.