Michael Praetorius ✒ with the tenth act in his satirical series.

A new generation of Gaeilgeorirí

I'm learning Irish. Jean the Prod is raging ... !

We were in a pub for lunch yesterday and she heard me say to the barman, Oil have a point of Haaarp, gasúr.

What on earth are you talking about? she asked.

Whad d'ya tink ... ? I replied, Sure Oy'm after boying a point, allroight ... ?

Eh ... ? she said.

Havin the toyme of me loyfe, says I.

May we speak the King's English, please?!? snapped the crosspatch Hun.

Oy'm tellin ya dis, I said, maaark moy woards, tings an toymes is changin, loike ...

An assistant lecturer speaks

I’ve said it before, but Jean is a lucky woman. As well as sharing her home with a pot-bellied stove of musical artistry, she gets to work at least three days a week so that she can pay the household bills. My well intentioned, but rather unlucky, venture into Bulgarian real estate a few years ago means that I'm unable to contribute much, or, indeed, anything at all to our communal overheads.

To be fair, I haven't even considered getting a job, preferring to hone my Isaac Asimov, renaissance-man-type learning for an upcoming set of appearances on Mastermind. My target in each round: 31 points. That's the kind of score you get if, like me, you've sat at a desk for 30 years and done nothing but read.

I'm hoping to come up against a few teachers on my way through to the title. I mean, you have to laugh at them ... they choose the least academic, non-subjects ... usually something that involves them doing nothing other than watch TV or box sets or 'movies', or listen to pop music. So we have teacher specialists on the Vicar of Dibley, or Deep Purple ... and still they finish last, crushed especially by the general knowledge round.

The hurt look of surprise and disbelief, but never shame, on their faces as the final scores are read out says all you need to know about these dullards who, because they can stay one page ahead of thirty uninterested children, imagine themselves to be latter day Aristotles, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Step aside for the Bibliographer. First round my specialist subject will be Art; in the semi-final ... History; in the final ... Science.

It’s the biggest bastard in the country

Outed on the Nolan Show this morning ... named and shamed ... ! He was talking about some evangelical preachers who've taken over the Cornmarket and other parts of Belfast City centre. Using high powered amplifiers they can now be heard all over the place, bluntly alerting Adam and Steve that Satan has their number, etc.

Nolan pointed out at one stage that buskers kick up a lot of noise too, and might be considered by some to be just as intrusive.

In fact, he said, there's one particular guy I sometimes pass, and he just can't sing, and the racket he makes is hideous.

Now, everybody knows I can't sing, and that the racket I make is hideous, so he was obviously talking about me ... ! What a fat bastard, to publicly humiliate me like that.

Anyway, one of these preachers spied Adam and Steve holding hands, and man dear, did he let rip ... ! He roared into the mic, while they passed him, that the whole of the street faced Hell fire because of this pair of pervs perving around like that.

A man eventually rang in and proposed that the answer is simple. He said he had no issue with Adam and Steve holding hands, but since they know doing it is going to offend people, like the preacher for instance, then simply don't do it.

Right on, I said to Jean.

I mean, Protestants know they offend me by being Protestant, so why don't they just stop it ... ?

The 5th Dimension

There's a woman on TV insisting that we love our dogs too much. Jean says she is probably referring to those who put a pet's life first and prefer them to people.

What's wrong with that? I said. I hate every fucking body, and Miss Lotte Lenya is worth ten thousand times the whole bloody lot of them ...

But I will admit we need guidance. Is there a saved person out there who can clue us in on what scripture has to say on this vexing question of exactly how much we should like our dogs?

Or, better still, someone for whom religion isn't intellectually rigorous enough, or sufficiently fulfilling emotionally, or adequately ego massaging. So they designate themselves 'spiritual', under the impression that we will think this makes them deep, when, in fact, it just proclaims they're even more gullible and doolally than the softest brained 'believer'. What do the New Age crackpot advocates of abseiling for charity, and boundless positivity (or self aggrandisement as it used to be called), say about dogs?

Ayurveda Man says: Lotte, live every day as if it's your last ...

... and one day she’ll be right, I suppose.

Coming out

I can't hide who I am any longer, I told Jean.

Right, she said.

I'm two equations away from insanity, I added.

Well, who are you then, for God’s sake? she asked.

Whoever I'm pretending to be at any given moment, I replied.

Oh, said she, I thought you were going to say you're gay.

Hah ... ! I scoffed ... being gay is the easy way out. It's just for ... er ... homosexualists, as Auberon Waugh used to refer to them. But I'm talking David Hume here. He knew that the self is just a bundle of perceptions, like links in a chain. To look for a unifying self beyond those perceptions is like looking for a chain apart from the links that constitute it.

So ... ? asked Jean.

So the reason I can't hide who I am any longer, I said, is that I'm not anything ... !!

Searching for the big nudey women

Back at the QFT. Goodness, how small it all is compared to the Odeon. Even the screen ... you'd think you were watching a big television ... and with no leg room. But art requires sacrifice, so you scrunch yourself into the seat and prepare to become an operating Thetan (Tom Cruise level) of art house cinema.

Out in the Jameson Bar afterwards there's usually at least one male patron, standing there, and often wearing a pork pie hat of some kind, extemporising effortlessly to his chums on all the especially arty bits.

And earlier, before even going in, we'd passed two needle thin lads on University Square who were discussing a proposed poetry reading. I said to Jean, This is moi, babes ... my milieu ... my domain ...

Like in Moira? she asked.

No, that one's not my demesne, I replied.

Hats off to Ivy the horse ... !!

Yes, indeed. I was down the lane earlier, giving her and the foal some bread this morning. We fell into conversation, as you do. Her foal is very nervous and, when not eating bread, keeps its distance. So I've been unable to ascertain the sex, I told her.

Ivy replied that her offspring was, in fact, born without a sex, and as the birth giving horse, she fiercely eschews any notion of sexual stereotyping and enforced gender assignment.

In her view it is entirely up to the foal to identify as whatever 'they' feel comfortable with. Whether pangender, aporagender, agender, bigender, trigender, genderqueer, genderfluid, demigender, demigirl, demiboy, neutrois, polyamorous, non-binary, asexual, omnisexual, polysexual, abrosexual, androsexual, gynosexual, skoliosexual, aromantic, gender questioning, gender non-conforming, etc - Ivy says is a matter of complete indifference to her.

When I told Jean she said, Ivy has forgotten to add narcissist to that list.

Then she said that we've run out of bread again.

J K Rowling’s maleficence

I mean, I said to Jean, if these gay pervs have to go to the World Cup, surely to God its not too much to ask them to knock off the perving for a couple of weeks, as a mark of respect to the erstwhile camel-shaggers who run that desert Hell hole ... ?

Don't put that on facebook, she said.

Right, I said, but here's another thing: this last lot of mornings I've been feeling a bit queasy ... I think I might be pregnant.

Oh, she asked, are you hoping for girl, boy, or non-binary ..

And laughed transphobically ...

Poppy watch

I was busking in Armagh yesterday. Near a supermarket. I was about 30 minutes in, when an official poppy seller took up position at the supermarket door.

After a time he came over. Around my age, he was.

Do you not think we're sort of competing with each other here? he asked.

No, I said, you're poppies and I'm busking.

People hear you, he said (looking at my amp), maybe don't notice me. And if folk give once, they're maybe not minded to give again.

That's news to me, I said.

But sure I'm only here once a year, he said, you could find somewhere else just for today ... the supermarket's a good spot, plenty about the place ... And it's for a good cause ...

We couldn't reach agreement. He resumed prime position at the door.

About 15 minutes later he came over, sighed, and said, You win, but you strike me as an unthinking, ungrateful man.

Off he went. The ironic thing was that I was there for nearly two hours, and I never saw anyone wearing a poppy.

Armagh. Ungrateful town.

But then I recalled that Armagh is full of Bulgarians. Very generous many of them are to buskers too. But, if you remember, in World War II they initially sided with Hitler, then when he hit the skids, they switched to the Allies. Churchill never forgave them though and in the big carve up afterwards, he was happy to hand them over to Uncle Joe.

So everyone I saw was probably a Bulgarian with a long memory.

I could have told you, Vincent

I watched that film Loving Vincent last night; a feature length animation, drawn by a team of 100 artists, apparently. It is done vividly 'in the style' of Van Gogh, and is visually altogether wonderful.

I feel a deep affinity with Vincent, not only because, like him, I have endured great suffering and mockery for the sake of my art, but also because when I go busking I often play a much simplified version of the lovely accompaniment Don McLean uses to his song, Vincent. I never attempt to sing the song; the words are just too naff.

Furthermore, it was on the CSE (before that was subsumed into GCSE) syllabus all that lifetime ago when I was an English teacher at what used to be called Portadown Technical College (the 'Tech'). Can you imagine what it was like trying to sell a line like, But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you ... to a class of hard nuts from Portydown ... ?

Is that there man singin' a fruit, sir? asked one of them.

I had long hair in those days.

Are you a fruit too, sir, like? said another.

I taught the same class History. On one occasion I remarked that while I wasn't sure if King Billy had the Pope's actual blessing before the Battle of the Boyne, I knew for sure that because of wider, European political and military manoeuvrings he had papal approval at least. A great silence fell. Then, from the back row, came a low and rather menacing voice,

You're a fuckin' liar ... it said.

Sir, I said.

Sir, it said.

But not to worry; apparently that's all behind us now. And besides, because I was teaching in a college, my official job designation was Assistant Lecturer, and I was paid on a lecturer's salary scale, a good bit more than teachers got. The lads all got their CSEs, even though some of them couldn't or wouldn't actually read or write, so I was worth the extra money.

On the subject of Bulgarians

I don't know why there are so many of them in Armagh. You can spot them in the cafés. They always have an espresso with a Coke on the side.

Many of them are extremely generous to your correspondent when he's busking. But I never forget that they are a bunch of conniving career criminals, treacherous and idle sallow skinned types, here to sponge on our benefits, overload the NHS, take our jobs, but sit on their arses all day, and kidnap Miss Lotte Lenya.

Anyway, a Bulgarian woman stopped yesterday and exclaimed, I love this music ... !

She followed through with a sizeable donation. But they're not going to buy me off.

You can stick that, I said, where the monkey sticks his nuts, you hideous, freeloading, scrounging, carpet bagging, bastard parasite.

Those weren't my exact words. My exact words were, Goodness, thank you ... that's very kind of you.

But from the cute way I said it, I could tell that she got my real message, for she immediately tried to put a brave face on it by stroking Lotte tenderly, and saying, I come to see you again too next week, beautiful girl.

And off she went somewhere to continue shoplifting.

Poetry Corner

Lines on the departure of a newsreader

So. Farewell
then Donna Traynor.

I was wondering where you'd gone
and Jean me told you were given the boot
quite some time ago.

Your catchphrase was: 'Because this is the subject of an ongoing Employment Tribunal and other legal proceedings, I am not able to respond to any questions or comments about my reasons for leaving the BBC.'

In that case,
I couldn't possibly comment either;
except to say that I, for one,
am perfectly happy
with both Tara Mills
and Catherine Morrison ...
not so much with Declan Harvey though.

Diary of a manly man

I was mowing the lawn today when one of my farmer neighbours passed.
 
Is that one of them battery mowers? he asked.

It is, I replied.

Thought so, he said, which makes you a better man than me ... !

How come? I asked, mystified

I'm well used to operatin' tractors, he answered, and the backhoe, and the thresher and baler, and the rest of 'em, but I bet a new fangled machine like that needs some quare handlin', all them fancy switches and stuff ...

True enough, I said, when you think about it ... you need to know what you're doing or somebody could get hurt. Like, say you don't have the battery charged, she'll just sit there, and you could be pushing away and give yourself a heart attack.

Holy Jasus ... ! he gasped.

Or give her too much gutty, I said, and should your hand slip from the self-propel lever ... she stops dead and you're headfirst over the handlebar.

Man dear, he said ... you're away in the head even riskin' it.

And if you forget all about putting the key in, I added, you can end up in the funny farm, roaring your head off about why the bloody Hell she won't go ... !

Mother of God, he said, but I’ll not be gettin’ one of them fuckers ...

After I'd finished I had a beer.

The Lard giveth ...

We were watching a programme about people who weigh 600lb, and attend the clinic run by that gnomish Dr Nowzaradan guy. This episode was about a woman who is lesbian.

Surely, I said to Jean, Dr. Now should be prioritising heterosexual people ... there's bound to be a dictum somewhere in the Bible forbidding gays to have bariatric surgery followed by excess skin removal. Or, at the very least, a divinely ordained hierarchy of treatment, with gays down at the bottom of it, alongside Cain, Delilah, Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod the Great, Herod Antipas and Herodias, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Lot, the Pharisees, The Levite who abandoned his concubine, and the rest of that crowd ... If any of them ever got morbidly obese, I mean.

I had a quick look through my King James version. To my great dismay, as an ex-librarian, it has no index, so I'm none the wiser. But, as history shows, it's the kind of thing God likes to keep an eye on, so bound to be in there somewhere.

Michael Praetorius spent his working life in education and libraries. Now retired, he does a little busking in Belfast . . . when he can get a pitch. He is TPQ's fortnightly Wednesday columnist.

Joy And Fun Are Fucking Killing Me ✑ Act Ⅹ

Michael Praetorius ✒ with the tenth act in his satirical series.

A new generation of Gaeilgeorirí

I'm learning Irish. Jean the Prod is raging ... !

We were in a pub for lunch yesterday and she heard me say to the barman, Oil have a point of Haaarp, gasúr.

What on earth are you talking about? she asked.

Whad d'ya tink ... ? I replied, Sure Oy'm after boying a point, allroight ... ?

Eh ... ? she said.

Havin the toyme of me loyfe, says I.

May we speak the King's English, please?!? snapped the crosspatch Hun.

Oy'm tellin ya dis, I said, maaark moy woards, tings an toymes is changin, loike ...

An assistant lecturer speaks

I’ve said it before, but Jean is a lucky woman. As well as sharing her home with a pot-bellied stove of musical artistry, she gets to work at least three days a week so that she can pay the household bills. My well intentioned, but rather unlucky, venture into Bulgarian real estate a few years ago means that I'm unable to contribute much, or, indeed, anything at all to our communal overheads.

To be fair, I haven't even considered getting a job, preferring to hone my Isaac Asimov, renaissance-man-type learning for an upcoming set of appearances on Mastermind. My target in each round: 31 points. That's the kind of score you get if, like me, you've sat at a desk for 30 years and done nothing but read.

I'm hoping to come up against a few teachers on my way through to the title. I mean, you have to laugh at them ... they choose the least academic, non-subjects ... usually something that involves them doing nothing other than watch TV or box sets or 'movies', or listen to pop music. So we have teacher specialists on the Vicar of Dibley, or Deep Purple ... and still they finish last, crushed especially by the general knowledge round.

The hurt look of surprise and disbelief, but never shame, on their faces as the final scores are read out says all you need to know about these dullards who, because they can stay one page ahead of thirty uninterested children, imagine themselves to be latter day Aristotles, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Step aside for the Bibliographer. First round my specialist subject will be Art; in the semi-final ... History; in the final ... Science.

It’s the biggest bastard in the country

Outed on the Nolan Show this morning ... named and shamed ... ! He was talking about some evangelical preachers who've taken over the Cornmarket and other parts of Belfast City centre. Using high powered amplifiers they can now be heard all over the place, bluntly alerting Adam and Steve that Satan has their number, etc.

Nolan pointed out at one stage that buskers kick up a lot of noise too, and might be considered by some to be just as intrusive.

In fact, he said, there's one particular guy I sometimes pass, and he just can't sing, and the racket he makes is hideous.

Now, everybody knows I can't sing, and that the racket I make is hideous, so he was obviously talking about me ... ! What a fat bastard, to publicly humiliate me like that.

Anyway, one of these preachers spied Adam and Steve holding hands, and man dear, did he let rip ... ! He roared into the mic, while they passed him, that the whole of the street faced Hell fire because of this pair of pervs perving around like that.

A man eventually rang in and proposed that the answer is simple. He said he had no issue with Adam and Steve holding hands, but since they know doing it is going to offend people, like the preacher for instance, then simply don't do it.

Right on, I said to Jean.

I mean, Protestants know they offend me by being Protestant, so why don't they just stop it ... ?

The 5th Dimension

There's a woman on TV insisting that we love our dogs too much. Jean says she is probably referring to those who put a pet's life first and prefer them to people.

What's wrong with that? I said. I hate every fucking body, and Miss Lotte Lenya is worth ten thousand times the whole bloody lot of them ...

But I will admit we need guidance. Is there a saved person out there who can clue us in on what scripture has to say on this vexing question of exactly how much we should like our dogs?

Or, better still, someone for whom religion isn't intellectually rigorous enough, or sufficiently fulfilling emotionally, or adequately ego massaging. So they designate themselves 'spiritual', under the impression that we will think this makes them deep, when, in fact, it just proclaims they're even more gullible and doolally than the softest brained 'believer'. What do the New Age crackpot advocates of abseiling for charity, and boundless positivity (or self aggrandisement as it used to be called), say about dogs?

Ayurveda Man says: Lotte, live every day as if it's your last ...

... and one day she’ll be right, I suppose.

Coming out

I can't hide who I am any longer, I told Jean.

Right, she said.

I'm two equations away from insanity, I added.

Well, who are you then, for God’s sake? she asked.

Whoever I'm pretending to be at any given moment, I replied.

Oh, said she, I thought you were going to say you're gay.

Hah ... ! I scoffed ... being gay is the easy way out. It's just for ... er ... homosexualists, as Auberon Waugh used to refer to them. But I'm talking David Hume here. He knew that the self is just a bundle of perceptions, like links in a chain. To look for a unifying self beyond those perceptions is like looking for a chain apart from the links that constitute it.

So ... ? asked Jean.

So the reason I can't hide who I am any longer, I said, is that I'm not anything ... !!

Searching for the big nudey women

Back at the QFT. Goodness, how small it all is compared to the Odeon. Even the screen ... you'd think you were watching a big television ... and with no leg room. But art requires sacrifice, so you scrunch yourself into the seat and prepare to become an operating Thetan (Tom Cruise level) of art house cinema.

Out in the Jameson Bar afterwards there's usually at least one male patron, standing there, and often wearing a pork pie hat of some kind, extemporising effortlessly to his chums on all the especially arty bits.

And earlier, before even going in, we'd passed two needle thin lads on University Square who were discussing a proposed poetry reading. I said to Jean, This is moi, babes ... my milieu ... my domain ...

Like in Moira? she asked.

No, that one's not my demesne, I replied.

Hats off to Ivy the horse ... !!

Yes, indeed. I was down the lane earlier, giving her and the foal some bread this morning. We fell into conversation, as you do. Her foal is very nervous and, when not eating bread, keeps its distance. So I've been unable to ascertain the sex, I told her.

Ivy replied that her offspring was, in fact, born without a sex, and as the birth giving horse, she fiercely eschews any notion of sexual stereotyping and enforced gender assignment.

In her view it is entirely up to the foal to identify as whatever 'they' feel comfortable with. Whether pangender, aporagender, agender, bigender, trigender, genderqueer, genderfluid, demigender, demigirl, demiboy, neutrois, polyamorous, non-binary, asexual, omnisexual, polysexual, abrosexual, androsexual, gynosexual, skoliosexual, aromantic, gender questioning, gender non-conforming, etc - Ivy says is a matter of complete indifference to her.

When I told Jean she said, Ivy has forgotten to add narcissist to that list.

Then she said that we've run out of bread again.

J K Rowling’s maleficence

I mean, I said to Jean, if these gay pervs have to go to the World Cup, surely to God its not too much to ask them to knock off the perving for a couple of weeks, as a mark of respect to the erstwhile camel-shaggers who run that desert Hell hole ... ?

Don't put that on facebook, she said.

Right, I said, but here's another thing: this last lot of mornings I've been feeling a bit queasy ... I think I might be pregnant.

Oh, she asked, are you hoping for girl, boy, or non-binary ..

And laughed transphobically ...

Poppy watch

I was busking in Armagh yesterday. Near a supermarket. I was about 30 minutes in, when an official poppy seller took up position at the supermarket door.

After a time he came over. Around my age, he was.

Do you not think we're sort of competing with each other here? he asked.

No, I said, you're poppies and I'm busking.

People hear you, he said (looking at my amp), maybe don't notice me. And if folk give once, they're maybe not minded to give again.

That's news to me, I said.

But sure I'm only here once a year, he said, you could find somewhere else just for today ... the supermarket's a good spot, plenty about the place ... And it's for a good cause ...

We couldn't reach agreement. He resumed prime position at the door.

About 15 minutes later he came over, sighed, and said, You win, but you strike me as an unthinking, ungrateful man.

Off he went. The ironic thing was that I was there for nearly two hours, and I never saw anyone wearing a poppy.

Armagh. Ungrateful town.

But then I recalled that Armagh is full of Bulgarians. Very generous many of them are to buskers too. But, if you remember, in World War II they initially sided with Hitler, then when he hit the skids, they switched to the Allies. Churchill never forgave them though and in the big carve up afterwards, he was happy to hand them over to Uncle Joe.

So everyone I saw was probably a Bulgarian with a long memory.

I could have told you, Vincent

I watched that film Loving Vincent last night; a feature length animation, drawn by a team of 100 artists, apparently. It is done vividly 'in the style' of Van Gogh, and is visually altogether wonderful.

I feel a deep affinity with Vincent, not only because, like him, I have endured great suffering and mockery for the sake of my art, but also because when I go busking I often play a much simplified version of the lovely accompaniment Don McLean uses to his song, Vincent. I never attempt to sing the song; the words are just too naff.

Furthermore, it was on the CSE (before that was subsumed into GCSE) syllabus all that lifetime ago when I was an English teacher at what used to be called Portadown Technical College (the 'Tech'). Can you imagine what it was like trying to sell a line like, But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you ... to a class of hard nuts from Portydown ... ?

Is that there man singin' a fruit, sir? asked one of them.

I had long hair in those days.

Are you a fruit too, sir, like? said another.

I taught the same class History. On one occasion I remarked that while I wasn't sure if King Billy had the Pope's actual blessing before the Battle of the Boyne, I knew for sure that because of wider, European political and military manoeuvrings he had papal approval at least. A great silence fell. Then, from the back row, came a low and rather menacing voice,

You're a fuckin' liar ... it said.

Sir, I said.

Sir, it said.

But not to worry; apparently that's all behind us now. And besides, because I was teaching in a college, my official job designation was Assistant Lecturer, and I was paid on a lecturer's salary scale, a good bit more than teachers got. The lads all got their CSEs, even though some of them couldn't or wouldn't actually read or write, so I was worth the extra money.

On the subject of Bulgarians

I don't know why there are so many of them in Armagh. You can spot them in the cafés. They always have an espresso with a Coke on the side.

Many of them are extremely generous to your correspondent when he's busking. But I never forget that they are a bunch of conniving career criminals, treacherous and idle sallow skinned types, here to sponge on our benefits, overload the NHS, take our jobs, but sit on their arses all day, and kidnap Miss Lotte Lenya.

Anyway, a Bulgarian woman stopped yesterday and exclaimed, I love this music ... !

She followed through with a sizeable donation. But they're not going to buy me off.

You can stick that, I said, where the monkey sticks his nuts, you hideous, freeloading, scrounging, carpet bagging, bastard parasite.

Those weren't my exact words. My exact words were, Goodness, thank you ... that's very kind of you.

But from the cute way I said it, I could tell that she got my real message, for she immediately tried to put a brave face on it by stroking Lotte tenderly, and saying, I come to see you again too next week, beautiful girl.

And off she went somewhere to continue shoplifting.

Poetry Corner

Lines on the departure of a newsreader

So. Farewell
then Donna Traynor.

I was wondering where you'd gone
and Jean me told you were given the boot
quite some time ago.

Your catchphrase was: 'Because this is the subject of an ongoing Employment Tribunal and other legal proceedings, I am not able to respond to any questions or comments about my reasons for leaving the BBC.'

In that case,
I couldn't possibly comment either;
except to say that I, for one,
am perfectly happy
with both Tara Mills
and Catherine Morrison ...
not so much with Declan Harvey though.

Diary of a manly man

I was mowing the lawn today when one of my farmer neighbours passed.
 
Is that one of them battery mowers? he asked.

It is, I replied.

Thought so, he said, which makes you a better man than me ... !

How come? I asked, mystified

I'm well used to operatin' tractors, he answered, and the backhoe, and the thresher and baler, and the rest of 'em, but I bet a new fangled machine like that needs some quare handlin', all them fancy switches and stuff ...

True enough, I said, when you think about it ... you need to know what you're doing or somebody could get hurt. Like, say you don't have the battery charged, she'll just sit there, and you could be pushing away and give yourself a heart attack.

Holy Jasus ... ! he gasped.

Or give her too much gutty, I said, and should your hand slip from the self-propel lever ... she stops dead and you're headfirst over the handlebar.

Man dear, he said ... you're away in the head even riskin' it.

And if you forget all about putting the key in, I added, you can end up in the funny farm, roaring your head off about why the bloody Hell she won't go ... !

Mother of God, he said, but I’ll not be gettin’ one of them fuckers ...

After I'd finished I had a beer.

The Lard giveth ...

We were watching a programme about people who weigh 600lb, and attend the clinic run by that gnomish Dr Nowzaradan guy. This episode was about a woman who is lesbian.

Surely, I said to Jean, Dr. Now should be prioritising heterosexual people ... there's bound to be a dictum somewhere in the Bible forbidding gays to have bariatric surgery followed by excess skin removal. Or, at the very least, a divinely ordained hierarchy of treatment, with gays down at the bottom of it, alongside Cain, Delilah, Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod the Great, Herod Antipas and Herodias, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Lot, the Pharisees, The Levite who abandoned his concubine, and the rest of that crowd ... If any of them ever got morbidly obese, I mean.

I had a quick look through my King James version. To my great dismay, as an ex-librarian, it has no index, so I'm none the wiser. But, as history shows, it's the kind of thing God likes to keep an eye on, so bound to be in there somewhere.

Michael Praetorius spent his working life in education and libraries. Now retired, he does a little busking in Belfast . . . when he can get a pitch. He is TPQ's fortnightly Wednesday columnist.

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