memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for November, 2012


The police are looking for this this man in connection with his last blog:


The general public is warned not to approach him directly but to get in touch with the local authorities, as he is dangerous and armed with a scathing, acerbic and mordant wit.

He has been known to use the following (banned) literary devices:

litotes, metaphor, paradox, paronomasia, periphrasis, epizeuxis, episthrophy/antistrophy, antithesis, oxymoron, cacophony, scesis onomation, assonance & alliteration, brachylogies,  anaphora, satire, irony and even sarcasm.

Sometimes he ventures trenchant and pithy observations on the Human Condition.

He quips puns & one-liners;

Cracks jokes & jibes;

Banters & jests;

He’s a wise guy.

And lastly he looks a bit creepy.

I would suggest nabbing him after lunch as he is nodding off for a post-prandial snooze in front of a TV show featuring a woman who makes her own pumpkin-jam according to special secret recipe from her village … yawn … yawn … snore … snore.

I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything till noon. That’s when it’s time for my nap.

(Bob Hope)

Quack quack

His mind is full of junk

Scraps of half-digested information

From third-hand sources

A dash of religious bigotry

Seasoned with cliché-ridden

Commonplace ideas

His understanding of

The planet and universe

Has inconceivable voids

His rare excursions

Into abstract thought invariably

Produce utterances both

Risible and ridiculous

In short he has the depth

And mental clarity of a

Small puddle in the road

And the intellectual weight

Of a poppadum.

old macdonald hat a farm

Old MacDonald had a farm

And on that farm he had a duck


With a quack quack here

And a quack quack there

Here a quack

There a quack

Everywhere a quack quack

Old MacDonald had a farm


(If there were a quacking event

In the Olympic Games

He would stand a good chance

Of representing his country).

Blame the apple

From Jessie L. Weston’s From Ritual to Romance (a copy of which I spotted on Marlon Brando’s bedside table at the end of Apocalypse Now) to Thomas Kennelly’s Blood Red, Sister Rose to that genial culture-for-the-masses concoction, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code the culture of misogyny in the Roman church runs clear like a glowing toxic beacon.

From the time when God, as an afterthought, fashioned for Adam (out of one his ribs) a female companion, there has been nothing but trouble.

He told her specifically to steer clear of the apple tree.

But did she listen?

Did she hell!

She only went and listened to the Devil, didn’t she?

She only went and listened to that snake

The subtlest beast in all the field, innit?

Go on, take a bite

It’s delicious!

You know you want to, really

So the woman bit

Into the juicy red apple

(It’s yer Original sin, innit?)

And dragged her man down with her

Typical! Nothing but trouble,

 Trouble, trouble

We blame it on the apple.

It’s the apple’s fault!


Out of kilter

The rich are getting richer

The poor are getting poorer

Something is out of kilter

Hell is other people?

L’enfers, c’est les autres

Jean-Paul Sartre was obviously having an off-day when he wrote that particular quip … I can accept Je pense donc je suis (even though I’m surrounded by evidence that refutes that proposition) but it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that Hell is other people.

I can match that by proposing that Heaven is other people as well

What a load of existentialist guff!


The last type-writer

20th November 2012

Today the last type-writer to be manufactured in Britain came off the assembly line – and can you guess where it’s going?

 Straight into a museum.

Irony of ironies!

Ever since the 18th century in Britain inventors had devised various kinds of «writing machines»

It wasn’t until Remington, then a manufacturer of sewing machines, signed an agreement with a patent holder in the 1870s that the Sholes and Glidden Type-writer was born, coining the name and the QWERTY layout that would prove so universal.

I shall miss the tap-tap-tappedy-tap-click-whirr-zing of a busy office

The plonk-plonk of the crypto novelist

In the attic

Typing out his unpublished

Work of genius

I shall miss the Dear Sir

Yours faithfully

And the Dear Mr. Jones

Yours sincerely

That comfortable pedant’s

Paradise of grammatical



It’s the End of an Era


Mr, Eliot’s peaceful Xmas

I woke one morning last month with the memory that I was in possession of a Christmas card from T.S. Eliot, in his capacity as director of the Publishing house of Faber & Faber, to my aunt Mary G. Milner as a published Faber author.

It is a rather stylish document with the cover and back designed by Barnett Freedman, the noted lithographer, illustrator and book designer, who did a lot of work for Faber.

It was the first Christmas of peace after the war – a time of paper shortage for publishers – and I suppose that Faber had decided to splash out a little.

Let’s trace the journey of this particular copy (which by the way is still in its original brown envelope – dated 15th Dec. 1945 and a little blue George XI tuppeny-happney postage stamp ).

Firstly T.S. Eliot (the great seminal modernist poet of the 20th century) conscientiously signs it and on the envelope writes out my aunt’s name & address and adds it pile of cards for the post.

On its arrival in South Yorkshire it is redirected back to London by my grandfather where he happens to know that his daughter is spending the first Christmas of peace at my parents’ gaff in Hampstead.

(Cool address, isn’t?

We had no money in those days, my mother used to say airily.

Well, I asked her once, what did you used to eat, then?

Oh, you know, just omelettes and things …)

Now let’s go back to the card: beautiful art & craft design by Barnett Freedman – very period

And on the back too.

You open it up the A3 size and best quality Faber paper and voilà, the poet’s signature (or autograph perhaps I should say).

I handle it with reverence.

And that’s it, I say to myself as I’m about to publish this onto Word Press, a nice neat little blog, of rather narrow interest admittedly but not totally without interest … but I then pause and continue my musings … what shall I do now with this piece of literary/family memorabilia? If is merely found among his things after my death, my successors might not appreciate it so much i.e. they might know/care diddly squat about early 20th century English modernist poetry.

But it’s marketable.

I might sell it on e-bay and buy one those George-Clooney-type espresso coffee machines with the proceedings.

or there again, I might not. E-bay is rather vulgar, isn’t it?

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