I recently travelled with a small group of friends to Islay, the island home of Scotland’s most heavily peated malt whiskies. The aim was to take some old-school B&W film photographs, take in the scenery, and enjoy some fine food.
We had also booked a whisky tasting session at the Lagavulin distillery that commenced at 10.30 on a Monday morning!
Five drams later (full measures!) you left via the distillery shop and were even offered other tastings if a particular bottle took your eye. Try not spending lots of money in that sort of alcohol-fuddled state! Marketing genius!
The cask master at our tasting pointed out that a character from the sitcom Parks and Recreation (Ron Swanson, played by Nick Offerman) often referred to Lagavulin in the show. Indeed, in one episode his character travelled to Islay and the distillery as a part of the storyline.
The Swanson character reads Burns’ poetry in that episode. But who needs Burns when you can have a limerick loosely inspired by our trip (and in recognition of women’s role in the history of whisky making – see Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey by Fred Minnick).
A young woman on Islay’s far shore Swigged drams at a Port Charlotte bar One morn by eleven, She’d sunk six or seven So here’s to that lass – Slàinte Mhath!
(For the non-Scots reading this, Slàinte Mhath is pronounced ‘slan-ja va’ and translates as ‘Good Health’. Islay is pronounced ‘eye-la’.)
(For the pedants reading this, “yes” I know that the Lagavulin distillery is close to Port Ellen and miles away from Port Charlotte, but this is a limerick, not a geography lesson, and it so happens we also sampled drams in the Port Charlotte Hotel, close to where we stayed.)
Last September I mentioned that I’d completed four years of A Limerick A Week (ALAW) and that I’d give it another year before downsizing to Occasional Limericks Only (OLO).
Well, today’s ALAW marks five years of The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent. No week was missed and, although one or two were a day or so late, there were several bonus limericks to make up for that (including today!).
I would have liked my last ALAW to be a perfect blend of clever word play, intelligent bawdiness and anapestic correctness, but although I’ve given you two to finish with, sadly neither is that…
It’ll never ever be orthodox For ‘gateaux’ to be pronounced ‘gattox’ Which just goes to show Why we don’t say ‘bolleaux’ When he’s told that his lim’ricks are ‘bollox’!
A limericist tried hard to coax A rhyme that’s so pure it invokes The most noble of verse, But his oeuvre got worse So he quit, saying “That is all folks!”
Postscript: there are two limericks that I came across over the last five years, written by others, which, I really, really, really wish I’d written myself. But I didn’t. So, with full acknowledgement that these are the work of others…
… the first, by Mick Twister (@twitmericks), uses clever word play and was contemporaneous with the event that inspired it. In this case, it needs context to be fully appreciated (see pic, below):
A Rotterdam artist’s creation Prevented a train conflagration On leaving the rail, It stopped on the whale, Which wasn’t its scheduled cetacean.
As good as that is, if I’d only ever written one limerick, I’d wish it was as clever and inventively bawdy as this one (NB, you have to pronounce the name the American way, ie, ber-NARD rather than the British way, BER-nud):
A cross-dressing monk called Bernard Dropped dead when crossing the yard. Post-mortem inspection Revealed an erection. It seems that old habits die hard!
(Author unknown to me, but I doff my cap regardless – reply in comments for credit.)
My dog, @calliebordeaux, nicked half a roast beef joint a couple of days ago and made short work of eating it all before anyone noticed.
I was a bit concerned because the joint had been wrapped in string netting and I wasn’t sure whether it would ‘pass’ naturally. (I’ve watched too many vet programmes in which dogs have had things they’d eaten surgically removed!)
I needn’t have worried. The first ‘morning after’ poop made it look as if Callie needed to be wormed as a few little bits of nematode-like string were apparent. The next ‘episode’ clearly showed the presence of netting – a parcel wrapped stool!
Anyway, it spawned a bonus limerick:
The roast that my dog ate was wrapped In netting and quite neatly packed, But the string made me fret Should I call out the vet Or just look for it each time she crapped?
… that Emma Raducanu, a young, British, female tennis player has made the final of the US Tennis Open at the age of 18. No surprise, then, that the media is full of it and also speculating on the riches that await her should she keep on progressing up the world rankings.
Nevertheless, I am indebted to ‘Management’ for pointing out Forbes Magazine’s statement of the bleeding obvious that: the nine highest paid female athletes in the world are all women. Who’d have thunk it?
Juiced-up MPs and the bewhiskered nature of scientists…
I once met Austin Mitchell a former Labour MP, who died recently. He had travelled to Aberdeen’s Marine Laboratory soon after the Millennium as a member, I think, of the UK Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on some sort of fisheries fact finding mission. We met with the Committee in the afternoon after it had earlier held talks with leaders of the Scottish fish catching and processing sectors.
The Marine Lab commonly hosted such gatherings in its net store where there was room to set up display panels and examples of different fishing gears. After my presentation I meandered to the back of the room to observe the rest of the event from a distance. Soon after that I became aware of a distinctly inebriated presence sidling up to me. It was Mitchell who, in the vernacular of the day, ‘had enjoyed a good lunch’.
As the presentations continued at the front, he quietly asked me about fishery discards and what did I think of the Norwegian fishery discard ban; could such a thing work in European waters? I whispered that I’d recently reviewed the Arctic Fisheries stock assessment working group report in my guise as the UK member of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fisheries Management and told him it made clear that its catch data were quite uncertain due to unreported (illegal!) landings and an unknown quantity of discards despite the discard ban.
I explained that the true discard rate was unknown because the Norwegians had no means to measure it. Their logic seemed to be that discarding was not allowed, ergo it wouldn’t happen, ergo there was no need to monitor it (they do prosecute a handful of cases each year, but inspection and monitoring are quite different activities with differing requirements and processes).
(To be fair to the Norwegians, the discard ban is accompanied by a package of permanently or seasonally closed areas, and some real-time area closures when the likelihood of catching undersized fish or exceeding legal by-catch limits is beyond some specific threshold criteria.)
Anyway, I finished by telling Mitchell that the Norwegian scientists knew as well as I did, and as did many others, that when it came to disposing of any unwanted or illegal catches “in Arctic waters the nights are long and the waters deep!”.
Mitchell guffawed loudly and exclaimed merrily (and just as loudly) “Ah, not just a scientist, but a poet as well!”.
After that he nodded towards a couple of scientists and engineers at the front, and jovially asked “Do you have to have a beard and be bald to become a fisheries expert?”
As I also had a beard, but had not yet started to thin ‘on top’, I told him a beard was mandatory, but that baldness was optional (like integrity in politicians, but I lacked the courage to say that).
There once was a drunken MP Went to a marine lab to see If all scientists were weird And bald with a beard And they were, I’m sure he’d agree!
Postscript: I found an interesting quote on the current status of Norwegian fishery discard estimates. The relevant paper explicitly includes unknown discard rates in the estimation of total unreported landings; an acknowledgement that Norwegian fisheries and their management are not as virtuous as their sanctimonious political headlines would sometimes have us believe!
Long story short, my 93 year old mother has been stranded at my sister’s home in Europe for the best part of a year due to Covid travel restrictions.
Brexit, of course, means that Brits cannot remain within the continent’s Schengen zone for more than 90 out of any 180 consecutive days, which is why it’s a surprise to me that the Matriarch has been allowed to stay post-Brexit for 218 days (and counting).
Anyway, she has now been ‘asked’ to leave by the end of August, which is why I’ll soon be travelling south from Aberdeen to meet her at Edinburgh airport, before taking her on to Kendal and assuming residence there myself for a couple of months (or more) to help her settle back in. Fortunately, recent relaxations in the Covid guidelines mean that she will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days on her return, nor me with her.
All of which loosely (incredibly loosely) has inspired this…
There once was an expat felt thwarted When his ‘leave to remain’ wasn’t sorted And as things then got worse He soon started to curse The ba****ds that had him deported!
Postscript: Talk about ‘boomerang’ kids. Here’s me, retired yet soon to reoccupy my childhood bedroom whilst once again living with my mum. Je suis a boomerang boomer!