May 20th

Gerry' blog

By mike

Dear Gerry,

     I had attended a sermon of sorts during which the vicar discussed how Mozart’s Mass in C related to the service he conducted on the Sunday.   This  was some months ago, but I recall the service is very much as you describe.

     Last Monday I saw a stage production of Paradise Lost.  This was in a theatre and drew comparisons between the theatre and a church.  It was a work in progress.          During April I attended a Catholic Mass.  It was staged in a concert hall and had been composed by Bernstein.  I think the Mass could be described as a melting pot of cultures.


May 17th

Coffee Table Book

By Mat


by brightonsauce


Another early start with my beach photography of pets.

Nothing says springtime on the sand to me more than a Springer and his owner springing, and frolicking in the early morning light.  Something about the light that captures my art egg, if you catch my drift?

Driftwood is another thing.  Driftwood gives me wood in a photographic sense.

But then people are not always as friendly as their animals.

She was maybe thirty years old on the beach.  I was chasing after her on the beach but then she started jogging so the game was over, and her Snauzer was sitting on nobody’s coffee table, or maybe under hers?

Another unsuccessful portrait was with the Labrador.

‘Can I take a discreet photograph of your puppy, sir?  I said.

‘No,’ he said, ‘I’m calling the police.’

So, I’m home now and this ‘darkroom’ I have all set up and ready is kind of useless.  Unless I can think of a different activity for a dark room?  Maybe take off these shorts, just quickly and twirl.

But then that coffee cup, I don’t know how it hooked on the handle?  It’s a gift that means I am communicating on this fuckin kindle in the dark.  Suppose I could open the curtains?

That would ruin everything.  No coffee, no clothes on, it started as such a good day.  Worse of all in less than four hours I have to get my own photopass photograph down the council office for my Poopascooter ID.  I should wear a tie, people will be looking at that photo all summer, but my wife cut my hair and she didn’t leave my flap at the front.

‘I need the fucking flap,’ I told her.

‘But you look like a monk,’ she said.

‘Now look at me!’ I kind of screamed, ‘I look like an ass, or arse.’  – it all depends on which lobe I’m utilising for my communicating.  But definitely a shiny lobe with a tie.

My God, they’ve given me a chance with the employment; did it have to be this, the Regional Seasonal Dog Mess Enforcement officer?  They lured me with the free motorbike.  I thought I’d wear leathers on Route 66.

Fight the Power,

after work.

May 15th

Giving up football

By Colin

Five years ago I wrote my very first, and ashamedly my only blog to date. The title was giving up football and that was what I intended to do. To stop following the team I had supported since my father had taken me to watch as a five year old. One comment on the blog proffered that I could do no such thing and how good it would be to see my team rise again.  We had just been relegated from the Premiere League at the time.

      Well after six seasons in the second tier we are back.  Not only are we back, but we are playing the best football I have ever witnessed at the Molineux.  We have the backing of a mega wealthy Chinese company and it seems that this time we go up to compete and not just mearly survive.  I get so excited at the prospect of Wolves being one of the top clubs in the country again (the Chinese company's ten year plan) that I fear I shall soon have to invest in some of those incontinent pants so often advertised in the loo's of motorway service stations, I think they cost under a TENA.

     I moved from my birth place to Cornwall thirty years ago, but never stopped following my beloved Wolves.  I remember my then wife saying 'Why dont you support one of the local teams now'  I almost had a Rene from Allo Allo moment.... You stupid woman!!!  For a start you canot just change your team as you change your address (with the exception of glory hunters). Plus there are no football league teams in Cornwall. The 'local' team where I live in Bude is in fact Plymouth Argyle a mere 45 miles away. Most locals seem to follow one premiereship team or another, usually the ones at the top of the league.

       I have a Barbershop in Bude and as such we have some banter about football especially on a Saturday morning.  Over the years I have come in for a fair bit of stick from the glory hunters, fair enough, I can take it.  My children, especially my son were ridiculed at school for wearing the old gold and black but stuck with it.  They are now both proud Wolves supporters and that makes my chest swell with pride.

      Back on February 3rd (my birthday) myself, my son and dauaghter, my partner( a Welsh woman of rugby background) and a mate (Man Utd fan) and his girlfriend travelled up to see Wolves take on Sheffield Utd. It was an evening KO and a few drinks were imbibed in before heading to the stadium.  I was slightly aprehensive as I had been 'bigging up the Wolves' for months to my Man Utd mate, and I was praying for a good performance at the very least.  Well what a night, not just a good performance but a 3.0 thrashing of the blades.  My mate was impressed by the team and the stadium, it was my partners first ever football match and she loved it, and my son and daughter want to go again as soon as possible. The night was rounded off with a superb indian meal in Bridgenorth and fabtastic accomadation at my cousins B&B.  

     So as far as giving football up?  Not a chance.  We are just entering an exciting new era and I want to be part of it.


May 14th


By Mat

During the depths of recent unemployment - a submission - FAIL - to King's Cross SlamDunk poetry siesta - something something

May 13th

A neglected talent

By RichardB
In 1983, on a commission from a Japanese publisher, the novelist and critic Anthony (A Clockwork Orange) Burgess wrote a book called Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939 – A Personal Choice. Why he chose 1939 as his starting point I don't know, but what emerged was a list of the seminal novels of the mid-twentieth century. Catch-22 is in there. So are A Farewell to ArmsSaturday Night and Sunday MorningThe French Lieutenant's WomanThe Catcher in the RyeBrideshead Revisited. Just about every mid-twentieth century author of any reputation puts in an appearance.
But there is one entry which must sorely puzzle many, even most, of the people who see that list. Pavane, by Keith Roberts. What book is this? Who is Keith Roberts? And if his book is so good, why is it so little-known?
A clue to one possible reason is that prominent among those who have praised it are Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and George R R Martin. Roberts wrote mainly various forms of speculative fiction, and science-fiction has always been a bit of a poor relation. People don't take it seriously. It's the trainspotting of fiction genres. You probably don't need me to tell you that SF is about the commonest no-no on agents' lists of types of MS they won't consider.
Even so, there are one or two other works of SF on Burgess' list, but they are all better known than Pavane.
But not to me. I bought and read Pavane when it first came out in paperback. I fell in love straight away, and nearly half a century (My God!) later it remains one of my very favourite novels. I still have that first-ever paperback edition, yellowed with years, softened and worn by many re-readings, but still just about holding together in one piece.
So what is this overlooked gem?
First off, it's what is known in SF circles as a fix-up, a series of separate episodes linked together by characters and place. AndPavane isn't quite science-fiction as the term is usually understood. Like Robert Harris' much more recent bestseller Fatherland (which, however, has not been pigeonholed as SF), it is a tale of alternative history, a big what if...? Taking advantage of a nation riven by Catholic-Protestant civil war following the assassination of Elizabeth I, the Spanish Armada successfully invaded England, setting off a chain reaction in which Protestantism was wiped out all ever Europe and the whole continent came under the domination of the Catholic Church. Over the centuries since, it has kept its grip on the minds and souls of the people by suppressing or even reversing progress, both technological and social, and so we are presented with a twentieth century England in which something close to the feudal system has been reimposed, and where technology has not advanced beyond the steam age. Road haulage is by traction engine, castles and monasteries are still thriving, and communication is by semaphores on tall towers (the inspiration for Terry Pratchett's clacks: I'd lay money on it). There are still large tracts of wilderness, where wolves and wild cats survive. People still believe in the Old Ones, the Fairies, the People of the Heath. And with good reason.
Roberts' world building is a bit of a Marmite thing. Some readers find his loving detailing of obsolete and imaginary technologies tedious and complain that it gets in the way of the story; others, myself included, find the very same thing captivating, bringing the imagined world vividly to life, because he doesn't describe those technologies in a cold mechanical way but brings them alive by putting the reader right into the heads of those who use them – for example, writing of the screaming muscles of a trainee semaphore signaller after a hard test at the signal levers.
But Pavane isn't about technology, the strangeness of a re-imagined England or the politics of repression and rebellion. What it's really about, like any good novel in any genre, is people: their dreams, fears, passions, and tragedies. Its real strength is in the characters who step, living and breathing, off the page and into your heart: the road haulier whose heart is broken in love and by the inadvertent killing of his friend; the boy who dreams of becoming a signaller on the semaphore stations; the monk who, his mind turned by witnessing the horrors of the Inquisition, foments unrest by his heretical preaching; the noblewoman who provokes the first armed insurrection against Papal rule by refusing to pay an unfairly levied tax to the Church because it will cause hardship and starvation in her lands.
Its other strength is the power and grace of its prose. There are books, not many of them, that I will read and re-read, almost regardless of the content, for the sheer pleasure I get from the quality of the writing, and Pavane is one of that select few. Two brief examples, chosen more or less at random:
In the yard the puddles had crashed and tinkled under his boots, the skin of ice from the night before barely thinned.
On either side of the knoll the land stretched in long, speckled sweeps, paling in the frost smoke until until the outlines of distant hills blended with the curdled milk of the sky.
And Roberts deploys the power of that prose and of his fertile imagination in creating dramatic and moving scenes that stay with you long after you've closed the book. For my money, this is not just a great writer of science-fiction: this as a great writer, period. So why is Keith Roberts so obscure?
As if the handicap of working in a marginalised genre weren't enough, he was his own worst enemy, the archetypical difficult author. Sooner or later he'd pick a quarrel with everyone who published him, usually over royalties, and shower them with vitriolic, abusive letters, until no one would touch him except small presses run by enthusiasts of the genre and his writing. Even these ventures usually ended in tears. Until the advent of digital publishing, nearly everything he wrote was out of print and unobtainable except by scouring second-hand bookshops.
His private life seems to have followed much the same pattern. He lived alone ('in some squalor,' as someone who knew him once wrote) in a small rented flat, apparently unable to sustain lasting relationships of any kind. Particularly with women. Barmaids keep cropping up in his fiction, not only, I suspect, because he liked his beer but because the casual cameraderie of the bar-room and an arms-length chat with a girl over a bar counter were all that he could handle: friendship and romance from a safe distance. And no story of his is quite complete without a young, feisty heroine, a dream-girl conjured up from his imagination (inspired by some barmaid he'd encountered?) as a substitute for the real thing. It's a measure of Roberts' talent that he gets away with it: the results are not mawkish self-indulgence but vivid, breathing, believable characters.
And that's not all he got away with. In one of his other novels,Molly Zero, he took the huge risk of writing in present tense second person (It begins 'You're shivering inside your coat.'). I was doubtful until I started reading, when I was hooked instantly and stopped noticing within half-a-dozen pages. He even set two linked short stories in a public toilet. In Kaeti and Company, a set of linked short stories, he subverts the relationship between writer and characters, engaging in conversations with Kaeti, his heroine, between the stories, and recycling the same characters as if he were casting actors in a series of plays (hence the title).
Everything I've heard about Roberts points to him being a deeply troubled, unhappy man, but from that torment (if that's not too strong a word) emerged some wonderful writing. At least I think so. He never quite regained the heights of Pavane, which was his second published novel, but there are enough gems scattered through his works to make me eager to read anything he wrote.
Keith Roberts died in 2000 at the comparatively early age of 65, a victim of complications of MS.
Indulge me with a few minutes of your time while I leave you with a taster from Pavane. The scene is at the lowered portcullis of Corfe Castle, which in Roberts' alternative England is far from ruinous. 'This Isle' is the Isle of Purbeck.
She halted by the breach of the great gun, one hand resting on the iron. 'Well, My Lord,' she said in a low, clear voice. 'What will you have of us?'
Henry's rages were famous and spectacular; spittle flecked his beard, the standers-by heard him grind his teeth. 'Deliver me this place,' he shouted finally. And your ordnance, and yourselves. In the name of your ruler Pope John, through the authority vested in me as his lieutenant in these islands.'
She straightened her back, staring up at him through the gate. 'And in the name of Charles?' she asked cuttingly. 'For my liege ruler is my King. So it was with my father and so with me, My Lord; I took no vows before a foreign priest.'
He drew his sword, and pointed through the bars. 'That gun,' was all he could speak.
She still remained standing by the greatgun, fingers touching its breech and the wind moving in her hair. 'And if I refuse?'
He shouted again then, waving an arm; at the gesture a soldier spurred forward, lifting a bag from the pommel of his saddle. 'Then your liege-folk in this Isle pay with their homes and their property and their lives,' panted Henry, slashing at the cord that held the canvas closed. 'It'll be blood for iron, My Lady, blood for iron...' The string came free, the bag was shaken; and down before her dropped the tongues and other parts of men, cut away as was the custom of Henry's soldiers.
There was a silence that deepened. The colour drained slowly from Eleanor's face, leaving the skin chalk-pale as the fabric of her dress; indeed the more romantic of the watchers swore afterwards the blue leached from her very eyes, leaving them lambent and dead as the eyes of a corpse. She clenched her hands slowly, slowly relaxed them again; a long time she waited, leaning on the gun, while the rage blurred her sight, rose to a high mad shrilling that seemed to ring inside her brain, receded leaving her utterly cold. She swallowed; and when she spoke again every word seemed freshly chipped from ice. 'Why then,' she said, 'you must not leave us empty-handed, My Lord of Rye and Deal. Yet I fear my Growler will be a heavy load. Would not your task be lightened if his charge were sent before?' And before any of the people round her could guess her purpose or intervene she had snatched at the firing lanyard, and Growler leaped back pouring smoke while echoes clapped around the waiting hills.
May 13th

Neither Of Us

By Dolly

A few days ago, I woke up to a blue sky. No cloud. Well, there might have been a few wisps about, but nothing of any consequence. The sun was up, and not even a hint of wind disturbed the warm air. The tree outside my window, was starting to push leaves out. I had cereal for breakfast, and ate it standing up, admiring the morning through an open window, and thought it would be a good idea to expose the bottom half of my legs to the elements with some shorts, sandals, a tee shirt, and go out in it.

So off I went. Not exactly whistling, or tum-te-tumming a happy tune, but entering into the spirit of it all. As I walked, I considered my destination. Around the area where I live there are a number of rivers, all of them clean, and unlike canals, devoid of rusty bikes, supermarket trolleys and old television sets, although I have seen one or two footballs heading downstream towards the distant sea. Besides these, there are areas where fisherman drink coffee, eat sandwiches, and generally while away the hours. These places are not exactly ponds, neither are they lakes, but a sort of an in-between. I don't know what you could call them. Plakes? Londs? Anyway, I headed towards a river with a plake near it. After the drab, wet winter of unending grey, and a spring of cold winds, I felt as though I had been transported to a different planet, absolutely bloody wonderful! I took my time, ambling along, absorbing colours, feeling the sunshine, and taking the odd photograph of nothing in particular.

Having decided that I had reached my destination, which is usually determined by not wanting to walk any further, I turned about and retraced my steps. Now, in order to reach where I live, I have to cross the road via a zebra crossing. When I reached the crossing, I stopped, and lo and behold, you could have knocked me down with a paper bag. On the other side of the crossing, I thought I saw Jeremy Corbyn, he looked straight across and thought he saw me, but when we crossed over, it was neither of us.

May 6th

A crystal view

By mike

  I was interested in Gerry’s poetic vision of the supernatural; the universe viewed from the perspective of a crystal.  Progressive politics suggest a continual expansion of universal rights. I had wondered when these would be assigned to the mineral kingdom.  I now think these rights should be included in the Labour Party manifesto.


      I had researched the life of a composer of English regimental quick marches.    There will be a military band present at the Royal Wedding at Windsor. The papers report this band is that of the Irish Guards.

     However, London has become a venue for popular music and little else gets much play.  I suspect Windsor will be no different and rock bands will provide the music.  On the other hand, massed bands often perform on prime London sites; Horse-guard’s Parade being one site and Buckingham Palace  another!

    Evidence suggests that the composer’s most popular work had not been a military march but a ‘salon’ piece.  This music genre  is seldom played today.  It was the music performed in Victorian drawing rooms.  This work is scored from anything from a piano to full orchestra.   The original theme had been composed for a zither.

        My mother had been quite enterprising and added words to the piano score of a march.  The result was then sung by a local primary school.  A tape was sent to Blue Peter but they declined the offer. My mother’s Royal Wedding march was easily the best and most appropriate work that was not sung at Lady Di’s wedding!

May 2nd

Market High

By Mat

Market High

by brightonsauce



Draft 1 pre-literature

Market High

The market hall is a fabulous Georgian pile with a vast internal space where once upon a time I deduce they sold fish.  Fish or seaweed.  And for my two penneth there is certainly room in the seaweed market for  a small trader/a boater such as myself  A dinghy stuffed with seaweed and moored at the beach.

‘Go on fatso, knock yourself out.’

Is what I envisage.  Tubby Lardon the weed addict gobbles giant facefulls of popping postule rock stickler, I dunno.  And then he burps and hands me a fiver.  In my trade the great danger is vibrating white ankle from standing in the shallows.

Anyway, fish at the market.  Well, there are not plenty more fish in the sea, so today the market sells bread and vegetables and cakes and stuff for handbags.  But it’s all cash, you see,  and artisan and terrifying human intercourse, all talking to each other, a great horror with the butcher.  There’s two butchers actually.  One butcher is lovely.  I need to go back and find Fred, and the tinkle in his eye during our conversation about mince and onions.  But with this cashless business business, most sensible folk haul the extra mile beyond the market up to McTescos and wander aisles searching for Mrs Furcoat Knickers and her favours.  But she is never there.

[Don’t read this baby, it’s literary fiction.  I would never make love to a stranger hag in a supermarket/divethrough into a freezer cabinet, thrust among frozen fish fingers and chips]

Now up at the market, it is rather desolate in December.  Only a handful of weebles wobbling in the spectacles and beige,  they are my people – but they do not know it as yet, [the] miserable buggers,  and time is tight, people.  And  I haven’t returned since my deafness confidence affliction.

I did visit at 4pm on Christmas Eve.  I roused Enoch from his attic, and said to my boy,

‘Come on laddie, Christmas Eve, we must share mince pies among homeless fellows, shower trinkets on the poor, purchase bottle of Givenchy no 7 for mother to drink.  Praise the Lord,’ I sang.

He growled and humped the pillow with his enormous genitals.  Finally, I dragged them both out of the sack.  He washed it and swallowed his coffee down,  and together we explored the wonderful and mysterious catacombs underneath the market.  A world designed for chaps such as ourselves.  A comic stall, a second hand book shop, mod clothing, records, lps of bandleaders from ’49.  A paradise, a little tired around the ears.  They maybe did deserve some customers, and what was the point of removing a pile of Warlords from here,  and piling them 100 yards down the street I began to realise.  But among those dreadful stalls of crock-shit, one single micro-business gleamed like a pearl.

‘Cowboys and Indians of The Frontier,’ estab 1973.

We rushed through the doors.   Enoch donned a headpiece, a tomahawk, and holding his tin of white lightning in my hand I reached for a Colt 45 and a sombrero.  We had not enjoyed such great pleasures since the millennium firework.  I shot him to death and I chewed my cheroot.

But yes, of course, it was quite unlike the final scene in the Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  He snapped shut his pocket watch, and there, slouched behind the till was the most disgusting and unhappy blob miserable shop-keeper and southerner I have ever witnessed in my life.

Bearded, and packaged in the distress of the 52-57 crime bracket, he pointed a stubby digit at my chest, and then he raised this finger toward the sign – ‘Do Not Touch,’ it said.

Well, I spat my cheroot to the floor.  ‘Sorry Dad,’ I said, ‘Are these quilts genuine Cherokee?’ I continued, and fingered the beads on the cabinet.

Again he pointed to his sign.

I knew in that moment this man was not to be the great companion I seek in Skaboeuff. This chap was not to be my buddy and inspiration down  at the Pipe & Anchor hostelry.

We removed the garments and left his store in our underpants.  Caught in the moment, and in the festivities, I hung my suede pigskin upon his mannequin.  I am too ashamed to return.

That’s all for now.  As summer approaches, I will go find my friend again.  It was probably seasonal–affected disorder on his behalf.  The shop-keepers down there,  I considered a place among them , and my plastic spitfires might yet rule the world one day.  But that day I couldn’t see any one of the fellows making more than fifty pence a session.  I’m sure summer crowds will bring a smile to all their lips.  All the best, and to everybody.

May 1st

Unknown, Alternative Historical Facts

By Dolly




           Lientenat Colonel George Armstrong Custer         

June, 1876, and the combined tribes of the Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, Blackfeet along with some Crow and Arapaho, numbering approximately ten thousand, left their reservations, gathered and camped along the banks of the Little Big Horn and Rosebud rivers, and defied the United States Government by refusing to return, saying they’d had enough of being buggered about. They also said they were more than a little pissed off with being lied to and cheated out of their land by the white man, and insisted they weren’t moving. The government once again ordered them to return to their reservations, and once again they refused. The general feeling amongst the tribes, was along the lines of, 'if you think you’re hard enough!'………

The United States government responded by sending a column of troops under the command of Brigadier General Terry, with twelve companies of the 7th Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

Now, it is a little known fact that Custer was a keen ornithologist, and had a copy of the Boys Own Book of Birds, which he took with him everywhere he went, quite often boring the arse off fellows officers by ‘waffling on about bloody birds’, as one officer put it. He was ordered to proceed towards the Little Big Horn River.

While all this hoo-ha was going on, some of the chiefs of the combined tribes had a meeting. The subject was the 7th Cavalry, and Custer in particular, who no one seemed to like. Sitting Bull called him a ‘lying bastard’, Crazy Horse thought he was ‘an out and out twat’, and Red Horse and Rain in the Face both agreed he should ‘get his bloody hair cut and stop


poncing about trying to look like an Indian with long hair.’

It was around this

time that Two Fingers, a Northern Cheyenne chief thought he’s stick his oar in.

For students, or anyone else who might be interested in North American Indian culture, the following might be of some interest. Two Fingers was previously known as Buffalo Nose, and the reason he changed his name gives a rare insight into how Indian names were arrived at. Buffalo Nose, as he then was, was called Buffalo Nose for, well, obvious reasons if you had met him in the flesh, and noticed the size and shape of a very prominent nasal feature.

His dad, Bear Head, after pacing up and down all night outside the maternity wigwam, was called in to see the product of his loins.

‘What’s that on his face?’ he asked.

‘It’s his nose,’ said one of the midwife squaws.

‘He looks like a bloody buffalo,’ said a shocked Bear Head.

‘What are we going to call him?’ said his mum, Silly Cow.

'Buffalo Nose,' said Bear Head. 'What else?'

Anyway, Buffalo Nose had noticed that white men often insulted each other by sticking two fingers up at each other. Whatever the meaning of the two fingers gesture, and sometimes a one finger gesture, it seemed to work, as the party it was being inflicted upon became more than a little agitated, and in some instances almost homicidal. Buffalo Nose tried it on some of his friends, without much success, as they didn’t understand the meaning of the two and sometimes one finger gesture. He switched to sticking his fingers up


at the white man instead. This had an immediate effect, especially if he stuck

his tongue out at the same time, and shouted 'nah,nah,na,nah,nah!' Every white man he did it to, went red faced with rage, to such an extent, that some of them even started showing signs of epilepsy, and it didn’t matter if it was

one finger or two either, the effect was the same, which was great news for Buffalo Nose. He changed his name to Two Fingers, and told everyone he knew about it, and it started to become popular among the tribes, especially the young warriors.

‘Met him once,’ said Two Fingers, referring to Custer.

‘Yeah?’ said Crazy Horse. ‘What happened?’

‘Totally boring,’ said Two Fingers. ‘Kept waffling on about bloody birds. He even had a book on them called the Boys Own Book of Birds.’

’You’re kidding,’ said Four Horns. ‘You’re ‘aving a laugh.’

‘I kid you not,’ said Two Fingers. ‘I was trying on my new war bonnet at the time, you know, the fancy one with all the feathers. Anyway, he started rhyming off all the birds that the feathers came from, and showing me in his Boys Own Book of bloody Birds. Can you believe it? As if I didn’t know already. The bloody cheek!’

There was a lot of head shaking and tutting from the chiefs, as the story only confirmed what each one already thought of Custer.


The terrain around the Little Big Horn River in Montana is known to have high bluffs, ravines, and to undulate to such an extent that it is thought that an army could hide in one of the dips. It was here in June 1876, that


Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his entire command

perished at the hand of the combined tribes of the Sioux, Cheyenne, Blackfeet and Arapaho, in what is now known as Custer’s Last Stand.

It was here that a relief column found the remains of Custer’s command. At first, they assumed all had perished, but to their amazement,

they found one survivor, a Sergeant called Fanshaw. Unfortunately, by the look of his wounds, he wouldn’t be a survivor for much longer, and sure enough he died soon after they found him and was unable to give a full account of the battle. However, he was able to give an account of what happened in the moments before the battle commenced.

According to Sergeant Fanshaw, Custer was a bit peeved that day as he had forgotten to pack his Boy’s Own Book of Birds. However, this disappointment was offset by the thought that they were going to the Little Big Horn River, where Custer hoped to see ‘a significant amount of interesting water fowl’, as Sergeant Fanshaw quoted.

The column, led by Custer, with Sergeant Fanshaw in attendance, topped a rise and stopped, as Custer had spotted a number of birds swooping and diving. He dismounted, took out his field glasses, and began to observe the diving, swooping birds.

‘Lovely plumage sergeant,’ he said. ‘Lovely plumage. What a pity I haven’t got my Boy’s Own Book of Birds, I could have told you what they were. Come and have a look Sergeant, have a look at the lovely plumage.’

Reluctantly, the sergeant dismounted, took the field glasses, and trained them on the birds. After a few moments, he handed the glasses back.


‘Isn’t that a sight?’ said Custer, excitedly.

Sergeant Fanshaw, whether he agreed or not, nodded that it was. It was at this moment, that the Sergeant turned around in order to remount his horse, and caught sight of the massed ranks of the Indians.

‘Lovely plumage,’ repeated Custer. ‘Lovely plumage.’

‘Never mind the lovely plumage,’ said the sergeant. ‘Look at all those fucking Indians!’

‘What Indians?’ said Custer, who was facing the wrong way, and still observing the diving, swooping birds.

The sergeant tapped him on the shoulder and pointed. ‘Those Indians.’

Custer turned around. ‘Oh,’ he said, putting the field glasses to his eyes. ‘Those Indians.’


He observed them for a few minutes with his field glasses. Taking them away from his eyes, he turned to the sergeant and said, ’you know, there’s a chief down there with a war bonnet on, and I think some of the feathers are from a Lesser Spotted Ring Tailed Oozle Thingy, which is very rare, although I can’t be sure they’re from a Lesser Spotted Ring Tailed Oozle Thingy. I’ll have to write a letter to the Society of Birds when we get back. If only I had my Boy’s Own Book of Birds with me, I could tell you what bird every feather came from. What a minute, who‘s that next to Crazy Horse? Well, well, would you believe it, its that rascally scallywag Two Fingers. You know I once met him, he was called Buffalo Nose at the time, and with good reason. God, he was ugly!’

It was at this point in the narrative that Sergeant Fanshaw groaned and

grabbed the sleeve of the nearest trooper.

‘We never had a chance. They were all over us! Lovely fucking plumage he said. Lesser Spotted Ring Tailed Oozle Thingy he said, we didn’t stand a chance!’

He softly moaned and died, as his body gave one final shudder, his breath one last, rasping gasp. His eyes rolled once, and he was gone.




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