Sunday 18 December 2022

The Sunday Ishmael: 18/12/2022



at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
       Made my heart swell, and still it grew
       While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
       Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
       In one long yellow string I wound
       Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
       I am quite sure she felt no pain.....
And thus we sit together now,
       And all night long we have not stirred,
       And yet God has not said a word!
 Extract from Porphyria's Lover, by Robert Browning.

Nasty disease, Porphyria, hereditary, but triggered by environmental factors. If only Harry had been Hewitt's son, he'd have escaped it, for it stalks down the generations of his father's inbred family. But just look at the noses sported by King George III, Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Harry, pictured above - identical. Harry gets his gingeriness from his English Tudor ancestor, Harry the VIII, through his mother's line, 
but that nose is defo a Saxe-Coburg-Gotha nose. Looks like the family porphyria was present in James V of Scotland and his daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, both father and daughter enduring well-documented attacks that could fall within the constellation of symptoms of porphyria. It is widely accepted that George III suffered from porphyria attacks, one of which caused him to address the House as "My Lords and Peacocks"........and  passed the genetic flaw along to his great-great-granddaughter Princess Charlotte of Prussia and her daughter Princess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen. George III's great-great-great-grandson Prince William of Gloucester was reliably diagnosed with variegate porphyria.

 Porphyria causes the body to produce too much porphyrin, which is used to make heme, the part of blood that carries oxygen. It can cause chest and abdominal pain, muscle cramps, hallucinations, seizures, purple-coloured urine, or mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Onset is between ages 20 and 40. The genetic predisposition is triggered into attacks by a range of factors, which include exposure to sunlight, some medications, recreational drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol abuse, physical and emotional stress.
 So, best advice to Meghan is to remove her husband to a cold, dark country, keep him away from the cocaine, stop stressing him out  and cut her hair short, in order to avoid death by hair strangulation.

 The oddest thing to be reported this week was Mr Kayla Lemieux, a woodwork teacher in Canada, whose employers allow him to turn up to school and teach children whilst dressed like this:
The Halton District School Board suggested it would be a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code to criticize or to stop Mr Lemieux wearing the huge breast prosthetic. It has been suggested that the gentleman is  suffering from a condition known as autogynephilia, where a male is sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a woman, or an arousal fetish by performing a grotesque sexual display to children. However, a student in Mr. Lemieux' class says the giant prosthetic breasts are in fact a kind of absurdist protest against woke culture and he would regularly ‘drop redpills to his class, such as how silly gender neutral bathrooms are’. His aim is probably ‘to get fired, then sue for discrimination’.
The thought of Mr. Lemieux as a performance artist does not dispose me any more kindly towards him.

Orkney  Recipe Corner. 
Christmas is looming and the birds are all under an avian flu protection order, so it is time to consider the Christmas feasting.  I was at a Christmas event the other day when this sliced, greyish, solid, wet thing was served with lumpy school custard. "What's that then?" , I enquired. Duff. It is a sacred object in Orkney, beyond criticism. You thought Christmas pudding was bad? Food of the gods in comparison with Duff. My dining companion picked up her bowl and spooned Duff and Custard into her mouth. "This is when I miss my mum the most", she murmured, around a mouthful of DuffandCustard. "Her Duff was the best. She boiled it for days."
 Go on - have a go - tis the season to eat yourself sick, after all.
200g Plain Flour 
125g Oatmeal
150g Suet
125g Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Mixed Spice
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
3 Tbls Black Treacle
2 Eggs (Medium)
125g Currants
125g Raisins
150ml Milk

Mix all the ingredients together. Take a cloot, lay it out and  cover it thickly with floor. Form the Duff into a ball, place it in the cloot. The floor will form a skin over the duff.

Tie up the cloot around the Duff with string. Submerge it in a pan of boiling water and boil for a minimum of 4 hours. Longer, if you have a few days to spare. Keep topping up the water.

Take the Duff out of the pan of boiling water and untie it.  The flour skin will look white and fatty. Slice it up and serve with school custard.
The Duff will last 2-3 days and can be reheated or fried in butter for breakfast.
If you make two, once cooled, you can use it for Ba' practice.

The Council has made a good start on putting up the Ba' boards across the doors and windows in Kirkwall to prevent breakages and glass injuries.
We've had some snow, and I promised mr bungalow bill some snow pictures:

 Dopey Dumbfuck Finance Minister John Swinney defines Scots earning £31,093 as possessing broad shoulders and therefore they should pay 42% income tax. To support those earning less. The average Scottish salary  is £31,672. So he is expecting Scots earning less than the average wage to pay tax at a higher rate. He is also perfectly sanguine about job losses in local authorities, justifying his refusal to meet the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) block grant funding request by saying that local authorities need to reform themselves. He is going to spend the money he raises on the Scottish NHS - which desperately needs reforming, not more money thrown at it, and on Education - always popular, that one.  He argues that Scots enjoy the benefit of something called a Social Contract, so its ok that they are the most heavily taxed partner nation in the United Kingdom. Horrible fucking bastard.
 Next Sunday is Christmas Day, God help us, but we should be able to endure it because mr mongoose has promised us  a Christmas Crossword. Something to tackle after you lay down your knife and fork after the diseased bird and clapshot and before essaying the Duff. If you are Orcadian, of course, you will be otherwise employed, pursuing the Ba' through the streets of Kirkwall. But not if you live in Stromness, where they play a sort of tug of war with a tree.


thanks to editor mr. verge, there are now three anthologies of the collected works of ishmael smith:

Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues are all available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.
Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :

Thanks to editor mr. verge, there are now three anthologies of the collected works of ishmael smith:
Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues are all available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.
Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :
please register an account first, at This is advisable because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu Bookstore search box.  Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
Link for Hardcover :
Link for Paperback :
At checkout, try WELCOME15 in the coupon box, which (for the moment) takes 15% off the price before postage.  If this code has expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for " voucher code" and see what comes up.  
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.

Caption Contest


Mike said...

The Duff is what we as kids called Spotted Dick. With the same lumpy custard. It stuck to your ribs.

Johnny said...

I always knew it as Plum Duff: obviously a regional variation. And no, I've never tried it (nor am I ever likely to).

verge said...

Caption :

"Gee, boss, is that one of those easy-access zips for a front-loaded delivery? Gotta get me one of those bad boys..."

"Sure there'll only be time for quickies in a smart successful sassenach-free Scotland. You'll be wanting the number of my tailor, right enough."

mrs ishmael said...

Ah, mr mike, it'll be the suet sticks it to your ribs. And your arteries. Despite the deplorable diet (no vegetables that grow above the ground), the life expectancy in Orkney is the longest in Scotland.
Yes, mr johnny, a regional variant. It is also called Clootie Dumpling, because of the cloot it is boiled in. I think you are very wise not to break the habits of a lifetime.

Mike said...

"Didna tell yer a few threads back that yer nae seein' ma ginger growler. But I wouldna mind sinking ma gnashers intae mr mike's spotted dick."

mongoose said...

I turn my back for five minutes and y'all slide into gluttony and smut. And me putting in days and days of toil over your crossword. (Well, a few minutes here and there anyway.) For shame, the lot of you!

Terry Hall has died on us. The ska and punk lads don't seem to be making old bones. Gkost Town - one more time, Evensong for Terry.

verge said...

Gluttony & Smut sounds like a lost Pogues album, mr mongoose. Nicely coined.

If you really want to piss off the neighbours, ask YT for the Ghost Town drum & bass remix - a bracing abomination and no mistake.

"Bands don't play no more" makes a horrible sort of sense to those of us uneasy (as we must be, only natural after all) with what passes for new.

(Ghost Town was a great track but I think the Beat's Mirror In The Bathroom edges it, just.)

mongoose said...

Just a few years back, one of my mates, mr v, sprouted a new somehwat less senior Spanish gf. "The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn" was completely beyond her, accompanied as it was by said friend marching up and down the sitting room, along and over the chairs, shrieking along with it. Surprisingly, the relationship continues to this day.

MITB is very good too. There's no need for a contest between these great tunes.

verge said...

Quite right, mr mongoose, I was just admitting a preference - Ghost Town's middle eight always spoiled it a bit for me, though I realise this is perverse. (I was a stoner teen and anything perky, however brief, ironic or bittersweet, got my mumbling goat.)

I hope your mate's gf knows those lyrics herself by now - sounds like an ideal anniversary ritual.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit odd. Famous people die all the time. Although Terry wasn't famous really. But I stood there, a year younger, while they started it all. At the Lanch, the pub behind Broadgate whose name I forget, the place up towards Earlsdon, the ex-carpet shop in the Precinct which became some sort of music shebeen. A lifetime ago. Fuck me, I even danced. And I cannot. Don't ask me.

We had nothing. We had no prospect of ever getting or having anything. I stood one fucking terrible day in a dole queue parallel to the one my dad was standing in. UB40, name and number, papieren bitter. I swear it was the darkest day of his life. We spoke not a word on the way home.

I had seen there the punk lot and had then left to go to university. Maintenance grant was 1500 quid per year as I recall, or thereabouts. And after all that I came back to my ska ghost town with my chit to design mechanical things which no longer needed, so Mrs T told me, to be designed. And the two tone rebellion happened. Those years should be studied about what it all means. Two tones but the same tune.

mongoose said...

Sorry, forgot to sign in. That was me.

mrs ishmael said...

Thank you, mr mongoose