Tuesday, 28 January 2020


mr ishmael smith b. 1950 d. 2020

Mr Ishmael began this farewell post in the last days of his life, but was unable to complete it. Here are his last words:

I remember, long ago, writing a stanislav piece on order-order. A while later there was a response from a guy in Australia, saying he'd laughed so much his wife had had to call him a fucking ambulance; there were many such responses and I thought to myself, What a fine thing is this Internet, how sweet, to make strangers laugh until collapse, half a world away.

His was a voice which came and then went, stanislav's; while Snotty Brown and his ruinous crew were wicked and insane they lent themselves to satire and lampoonery, they still do; the arrival, however, of Dave the PigFucker, the Zombie, Osborne  and Nick Clegg cast a darker, humourless shadow on the public discourse, the burning of the wheelchairs and the closing of the libraries wasn't remotely funny and in any event stanislav had left, never to return; these commentaries, in which so many have kindly participated, succeeded his -what? - his antic disposition, maybe,  with a more sober, albeit splenetic and irreverent tenor. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mrs Ishmael, it's good to put a face to the wordhoard. Like the other Ishmaelites, I'm touched and grateful for the trouble you've taken here in the last few days.

Your fine Orcadian snowdrops put our rather timid Yorkshire specimens to shame.


Mike said...

Hear, hear, Mr Verge.

Bungalow Bill said...

Yes, great to see him, thank you.

mongoose said...

RIP, Mr I.

mongoose said...

BTW Mrs I, I have read about two hundred of your words and maybe two hundred thousand of Mr I's, and it is already easy for me to see how you two made it through thirty-five years. My condolences to you, ma'am.

Doug Shoulders said...

I would like to ditto the above.
I always imagined Mr I as being a bit older. I don't know what age really but just older.
Always struggled, too, to put a fizzog to the presence he was on the interweb.
I guess the cantakerousness was held for his writing.
I'm so glad he embraced the modern means of communication but retained the writing ability...which seems so lost these days in 150 word max samples.

Mrs ishmael said...

Oh, yes - your mental picture, Mr shoulders, may be not far off the mark. The photo I posted was one of my favourites of him, in younger and happier days. It is about 10 years old, I think. Still, not so different - a little less hair, a lot thinner, but essentially the same dear chap. He used to paraphrase: " Got my wife, got my dog, got my moustache. " I think he was born with that moustache, even when Freddy Mercury brought them into disrepute, he refused absolutely to shave it off. And, nope, he could give people a blogging in real life, not just in his writing!
Once again, thank you so much, Ishmaelites, for your kind and warm words.
Not just the brilliant writing, either - he laboured long into the night, not leaning on the windowsill, to find the right images to illustrate his work. The fusion of words and pictures makes his posts so fabulously, characteristically,uniquely Ishmael.

Anonymous said...

Condolences Mrs I. Thanks for your kindness re. the pictures at this time. Sorry for your loss. I am saddened as are we all.

inmate said...

If I may
A song from one of mr ishmaels fellow travellers, John Prine: That's How Every Empire Falls.
Mr. Prine sings of the Ruin our departed host so eloquently wrote of.
May God watch over you Mrs.Ishmael.

Anonymous said...


the noblest prospect said...

Thanks for all I have read and heard these past 10 years. Happy trails, Mr Smith.


Anonymous said...

Looking through the archive, as previously discussed, and there's a piece from about 10 years ago, here in the Ishmael canton, which is very much to the point(s). Type AWOL into the search box at the top left of this blogspot's front page, and you'll get a post from 19 September, 2010. The comments are worth a look, as well. (What became of that grape vine, I wonder, Mrs WOAR?)


Mrs ishmael said...

Thank you, Mr v./
Just re-read it. How prescient of him. States his views and wishes. At least he got to die at home - but we did have to go through all the dreadful stuff he described.
Truly grateful for the steer to AWOL. Honest, not invent, you people have memorised the entire canon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mrs Ishmael, I'm glad my inkling was correct. The ambiguity is bracing - on the one hand, dismissive of an actual stanislav book; on the other, equally dismissive of the "what he would have wanted" approach. I've made a little progress with a Best-Of m/s, formatting as I go so it's in the right shape for eventual upload to a DIY publishing operation. At that point, whenever we get there, the final choice of material, and the decision whether to proceed, will of course be yours alone. (I'm starting to sound pompous, but what else is new?) Anyway, time enough for that, all being well.

By the way does anyone remember if Summer With Stanislav (which ends "to be contd.") had a sequel?


Caratacus said...

As always with Mr Ishmael, I return to the interweb after a few days absence only to see that I have missed something very important. Very important indeed. Grateful indeed to Mrs. I for the thoughtful effort on our collective behalf.

I have lived long in this world, seen much, and am rarely moved by anything much these days; but I will confess to a small prickling of tears on reading of Mr. I's passing. He brought such pleasure to the unworthy inhabitants of Caratacus Towers, laughing immoderately one minute and seething with barely controllable anger the next when reading of yet another example of officialdom's rank stupidity. But it's the laughter I remember best, which is as it should be.

Now he is on the warrior's path and Valhalla will have to be on its mettle if it is to cope with him. I rather suspect that that hall of heroes will be improved immeasurably by his addition to the ranks.

I will raise a glass of something special this evening and read back through Mr. I's best.

Woman on a Raft said...


I was sorting out the tray of rainbow hoof polishes because Mr Screwtape, my boss, goes on all the Pride marches now. He says they are fertile recruiting grounds; full of people looking for someone to follow and make them feel special. Anyway, there was a terrible smell of burnt eggs, as if someone put a pan on to boil and forgot about it.

He came down the corridor, the stench getting stronger all the time, and threw himself at the chic doorway in the glass wall. Unfortunately, preferring an age of stout oaken doors, he can never remember where the new minimalist ones are.

He bounced off, looked baffled, and then did his David Bowie impression of a man in a glass box, having learned it off the maestro himself as he was passing through. He found the seam in the plate glass and the touch panel which recognized him, the door swooshing out of the way to let him through and then attempting to nip his tail on his way past. The door’s ambition was to catch him far enough up that he wouldn’t be able to reach the recognition plate to free himself. It’s the Governor’s little joke; he has an app which watches for that day.

“Have you let your latte go cold, Debbie?” the Boss said accusingly.
“Sorry Mr Screwtape, I’m afraid I have. I was stocktaking the emery boards”.
“Bad” he said in a voice which lacked conviction. He grabbed my caffeinated milkshake and poured it over his singed haunches. Now he smelt like a burned hairy omelette, but it probably took away some of the sting.

Woman on a Raft said...

“Debbie, how long has it been now?” he brooded, massaging his arse.
“At least eleven years, probably nearer to fifteen, Mr Screwtape, Sir.” He brought his tail round and sucked the end thoughtfully.
“For you, maybe. I’ve been here since all we had was a hide flap over the mouth of a cave. Which worked, I might add, with just the right amount of ventilation”.
“Got to move with the times, Sir”
“Absolutely. We can’t have things working properly; that would be all wrong. I invented the revolving door, you know. Won a prize for it; now they are jammed all over the universe. Bastards to clean and they cost at least four times as much to even try. But do I get any credit? I do not.”

“What did the Governor want, Sir?”
“HS2. He says it will cost a fortune and get to Birmingham ten minutes earlier, which is of no practical consequence. More of an irritation than an advantage. Also, it will soak up any money which might have got the other trains running on time. Trouble is, there is a chance of it being cancelled, so I’m off to stop that.”
“But you already got the Report to repeat the Sunk Costs Fallacy.”
“I did? I mean, I did. Read it back to me.”
I got the report up on the screen, which he peered at over my shoulder.
“The sunk cost fallacy is the means by which to persuade them to chuck good money after bad, as they’ve already spent so much. Nobody wants to admit they don’t know what the words mean, so they go along with it.”

He scratched the base of his horns which always troubled him when he was thinking. His long fingernails were stained with cold coffee and soot.
“Did I say anything about the Prime Minister? Only it is him I have to convince.”
“Yes Sir, I distinctly remember. You said he should change the name to the Boris On Your Side – (BOYS) Rail line, because it is instantly memorable and will make him famous for a hundred years."
“Right, well, best be getting on to it.”

Woman on a Raft said...

“Sir, the burning….”
“Ah yes. Well, I had an old correspondent and the Governor was disappointed that I had not been able to convert him. You know how tetchy he gets - “
The glass door hissed and slightly opened, then shut itself with snap, for no apparent reason.
“Debbie, is Huawei supplying the door recognition system?”
“Yes, I believe it is, Sir.”

He cleared his throat and carefully continued:
“Well, this Ishmael Smith stopped at the border to make the customary declarations and I went over to see if I could be of any assistance. One last try, for old time’s sake as much as anything else.”
“And you got him, Sir? “
“Don’t be ridiculous. He never was a prospect. The man kept dogs and they took one look at me and set up a frightful din. Something about the eyes and their ability to see the truth; I’ve never understood it.”

He stood up, having regained his composure.
“Get me a new sharp suit and a blond Boris wig to disguise the horns. I’ve got a railway to lumber – I mean, endow – the West Midlands with.”

DEBBIE, P.A. to Mr Screwtape

Bungalow Bill said...

Others will tell you what to do with the technicals, Mrs WOAR. Fucked if I know.

This is a lovely start. Fucked if I know about HS2 either. Hitchens had something on this last week saying that he loved trains but couldn't be doing with this venture because we're not as big as France or Spain.

It's the old idea of trains we love, isn't it? Adlestrop, Bradshaw, station masters, gas lamps through the mist. And so on. An idea of long ago.

Probably says a lot about our present lack. This shiny new thing will not feed us except in the way of speed and profit. Ever onwards.

Thanks for picking up the baton. It's going to be good.

Woman on a Raft said...

The problem with trains is that under honest accountancy, they never cover the cost, Mr Bill. In London, the city pays a massive subsidy to TFL, but I'd never be surprised if they gradually decided they have no need for expensive London offices and no longer wanted to pay it.

mongoose said...

And the sunk cost fallacy is even worse this time, Mrs Raft, because a great deal of the spent money isn't sunk but is afloat in the form of land assets bought, and is therefore available for resale, or for the building of libraries. It would be interesting to see an honest breakdown of the spend thus far.

One thing is for sure and it is that I would rather that it took longer to get to Birmingham.

Woman on a Raft said...

On the other hand, you can get away from it 15 minutes faster. Swings and roundabouts, Mr Mongoose. And I say this as someone who drove the Aston Expressway last year, and ended up screaming like Thomas the Cat. AAiiieeee

Mike said...

Mrs WoaR. Back to the original theme of RUIN. Nice. As for Boris, the jury's still out for me; could still be a big con. He may, repeat may, have smelt the coffee on Brexit, but HS2 doesn't bode well. "Honest" Government accountancy doesn't exist. Then there is the question of opportunity costs: if they weren't spending on HS2 they could be spending on Greta projects, or war with Ahmed, which makes HS2 look like a bargain.

Bungalow Bill said...

The jury's certainly out on Boris, Mr Mike. A complex man who doesn't appear to have any core beliefs, which is the modern way of course. His consigliere Cummings is another worry, up all night conceiving notions and envying the scientists. Where then is the soul and do they think we need one?

The climate people, wokeness, the transformers of the body; what ails them all but a distorted desire for meaning and escape? There must be gods and demons.

Anonymous said...

Seem to be making decent progress accumulating a Best Of collection. The following is from the tribute to Buster:

"When we visited Dundee on the Silv'ry Tay I could never leave Buster alone in the car; the town was full of street people, homeless junkies, guided by Want's catechism, outside not only the law but outside Decency's seer cloak, street-dwellers who might steal a little old dog and use him as the beggar's prop..."

So far I've found that his occasional (remarkably rare in fact) typos are clear and obvious, but I'm not sure what to make of that "seer cloak". Probably just me being thick. Any ideas?


Caratacus said...

Here you go Mr. V

for those of us with the second sight ...

Anonymous said...

Got it, your Majesty, and thank you. Essential clobber for when going sky-clad might not be a sensible decision, I assume, or do our Wiccan sistren make their own weather? Anyway, good news, I can leave the text as it stands, always the best option.



mongoose said...

A silver lining I had not seen, Mrs Raft, thank-you. And another thing...

We live in a time when, and for instance, I have not had a physical office space tp travel to since about 1992. We Facetime and skype and whatsapp away to our hearts' content. And we have the Trials of St Greta to consider too. Why now of all times are we about to spend such a vast amount of money that flies in the face of modern comms and business culture?

Dick the Prick said...

Dear Mrs Smith

Just turned on my cobweb computer. It's currently having a right go at me so i'm gonna have to ask a teckie type nerd. Unlike normal people, i've popped round here (this is a joke about a 10 year hard drive - no fucking problems) when i've had a spare minute and rejoiced that comedy carries us - storm Ciara is our tears too.

The cheeky bastards call it inappopriate; i've never heard anything more precise. His music as much as anything too. He showed me wonderful stuff. My hugest hugs xx

(I tried to introduce him him to dance music, pretty sure 'mute' button featured regularly)

Mrs ishmael said...

Thank you, mr dtp,very kind.