Did the house that Jack built come from Spain?

Or, How to cook the old lady who swallowed a fly without stooping to cannibalism. Cumulative songs (and monstrous nested stuffing recipes) in Quixote and Estebanillo González, with the grossest video you’ll see today.

Cruikshank, The progress of passion (1792).

Christmas carousels

Impossible automata for my street organ this holiday season. Featuring Georg Büchner, Ignaz Bruder, German Christmas pyramids, dancing Hasidim, Lieutenant Kijé as you’ve probably never seen it, Le Tigre, and a crustacean.

Types of (German) Christmas pyramid.

Hackney Brook restoration scheme

Iain Sinclair wrote of when “global warming rolls a warm sea [up] the course of the old Hackney Brook.” The flow’s going to be the other way. Let me explain.

Shark jumping on Wick Road near St. Dominic's Primary School following the reinstatement of Hackney Brook.

Strength to sweetness

“Lions Bible”, from 1804: 1 Kings 8:19 reads “thy son that shall come forth out of thy lions”, rather than “loins”. What would the world have been like had the Lyle’s Golden Syrup tin borne a picture of the rotting carcass of some loins with a swarm of bees? (Via a lovely guy who seems…


“All day I’ve faced, the barren waste,without a taste of… Can you see that big green tree,Where the sandwish’s running free,And it’s waiting there for you and me?” I do Cool Water with the organ, and it’s a great favourite, but the other day I made the mistake of introducing the mirage song as a…

My top 10 boxing songs

All-star bill featuring Dan Mendoza aka the fighting Jew, manly Victorians, Joe Louis and the Dixieaires at the Battle of Jericho, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, Rocky Graziano aka the Maharishi Yoghurt, Bob Dylan and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Muhammad Ali and over-reliance on computer technology, Rich Hall and the George Foreman Grill, Wesley Willis and Batman, and Ivor Cutler.

Richard Humphries' second blocks a crucial blow from Daniel Mendoza in the 1788 bout.

Clergyman > clerimang

This encourages my suspicion that dyslexic but often anagrammatic barbarisms are part of a defensive strategy, conscious or not: we must needs take from the foreign devil, but we will transform our takings to frustrate his evil intent or disguise our weakness. There is a parallel, of course, in the way we northern devil-worshippers use…