from The Trivia Chronicle
Examiner, 21 February
‘Top Cat Hogan Denies
My mother could turn any food into an acceptable meal for a hungry family in no time. Her masterpiece was a giant omelette conjured up within half an hour of our return from the seaside. Once, coming back from buying apples at a farm, she swung the car in through the garden gate, took a short-cut across the damp lawn, and skidded. Mushrooms sprouted on the tyre marks. Next day the omelette aux champignons was followed by blackberries, picked from the hedgerows on the way home, stewed with the good bits of some rotten apples.
Only a barbarian would take a leaf out of someone else’s book.
Life to the Art
The Ursuline convent in Florence
Mobile phones are the last refuge of narcissism. You talk to yourself with enthusiasm and murmurs of love. Nobody needs to know that the line has only one end. Once you fall into the habit, you cannot get out of it. Moreover, though narcissists have only eyes for themselves, they have ears for others, and being overheard and seen is a bonus. Other people seeing and hearing you seeing and hearing yourself echoes your echo, and so on. It can go on forever. And saves on phone bills.
Outside the train station, a middle aged man arriving to take up a job in Perpignan
The kindest thing you can say about the human race is that nobody’s perfect.
A youth rushes into the church holding his mouth, makes for the nearest side-altar with candles and lights up his cigarette.
Homage to a Local Saint
I miss your brother who talks but moves so slowly it takes all morning to get to the supermarket and back.
In Saint-Malo, Brittany,
Madame hasn’t changed much in forty years. Still making the gallery play to her. Monsieur is possessed by the soul of someone dead for several generations, and knows it.
The January Disappeared
Funerals are taking place in the Church of Our Lady of Good News without posted announcements. So at all hours, and weathers (it’s been raining for weeks), you see the door open, and men in black lurking on the steps pretending not to smoke. The hearse is discreetly parked up the side. It can only be concluded that the clerk responsible for the Town Hall noticeboard is one of the deceased.
I expected a thunderbolt, but was struck by lightning.
In the Volcanic Mountains
A carpenter made redundant by a construction company shot dead the owner and his son when they were sitting down to breakfast in the local café. He had taken to walking around town dressed as a sheriff, gun and all. Two bullets each was enough. The fifth and last bullet in the hunting pistol was fired in the street and broke the window of a funeral parlour. He gave himself up.
I have noticed a pattern to crimes of passion. They tend to occur at breakfast time after a long sleepless night.
Fingering a Drug Baron
In Florianopolis, Brazil, the local drug baron has six fingers on both hands. So the police are looking for a man wearing gloves.
The cormorants have abandoned their usual cragged rock at the mouth of the harbour to shelter from an approaching storm, and at last have discovered the satisfactions of convenience foods. I see them diving around the fishing boats throwing out non-regulation stock. All food is ultimately dead. So why wait?
First, the Asian hornets invaded and reduced the bee population. Now a retired apiculturist, Michel Triquère, is being questioned by the gendarmes for stealing 158 hives.
The message in the bottle is a cork.
Fat men of a certain age and income who impose themselves on chambermaids in five-star hotels are not libertines. You have to be thin as a rake for that.
An actor hides by showing himself. Others act to hide themselves.
A face that’s like an old boot meets mine when crossing a sty. And I want to run a mile. Instead I stand back, and flute a bonjour. Airs and graces work wonders. She unlaces herself into a sweet smile.
A rich businessman called Bissonet had his Arab gardener shoot his wife, Bernadette. The gun was borrowed from his friend, the Vicomte d’Harcourt (86). The gardener’s plea was he would lose his job if he didn’t comply. His lawyer admitted his client was below average intelligence. The Vicomte’s lawyer pleaded senility. Bissonet, supported by his two fine sons, is in a state of constant fury, saying ‘I couldn’t be so stupid as to order up a job like that’. ‘Till death does us do part’ has many meanings.
Whenever I go amongst people, I ask them, ‘friend or foe?’ They have to decide.
News Item Waiting to Happen
When I see a comfortably off family on holiday together - four children, alternating boys and girls, artistic wife with long hair and the husband wearing pointy glasses but built like a labourer - I wonder when will he cut them up and bury them in the garden in binbags.
The Other Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated on French television on the eighteenth of March. Men in kilts, blue shirts and green straw hats tap-danced. A longhaired girl sang ‘Greensleeves’ with misty eyes, holding the microphone like the head of a lover. ‘Let the sky rain potatoes. Let it thunder to the tune of ‘Greensleeves’, said Falstaff. It’s a bawdy English song set to a sacred tune. Potatoes hadn’t yet reached Ireland.
Ludwig’s Oral Hygiene
Did Beethoven ever brush his teeth? The evidence from the hair suggests not, and has anyone ever seen a picture of him smiling?
A man called Aherne from Clonakilty stopped me on a zebra crossing, and said ‘Are you the author The Nicotine Cat? I’ve just read it in two nights’. Gratified, I asked him how he had recognised me. ‘My daughter lives here, and she said, ‘You can’t miss him. He’s the worst dressed man in town.' I wanted to say to him, ‘But my clothes are always clean’. Though this should be obvious. Since then I’ve been wearing my Sunday best on weekdays. In future I’m hoping I won’t be recognised.
I function with springs. I only do things when I am wound up.