Occasional Limericks Only #40

Still not quacking…

This is a longish one, so if you only want the limerick, just scroll to the end.

Regular readers may recall my recent sports-related injury of the is-it-or-isn’t-it-a-hernia variety (it looked like a duck and walked like a duck, but didn’t quack like a duck). The colorectal surgeon to whom I self-referred a few weeks ago wasn’t convinced that it was a hernia (no ‘bulge’ and the pain was a bit far away from where you’d expect it to be in a bloke). Consequently, she referred me for a CT scan both to check for a hernia and to eliminate any other pathology.

The CT scan results were mildly alarming. There was some apparent irregular thickening of the caecum that extended into the ileum (the ileum is the final third of the small intestine and the caecum is where the large and small intestines meet). Irregular thickening of the bowel is not a good sign apparently, so I was referred for an urgent colonoscopy to rule out anything sinister.

Fortunately, there were also some encouraging signs that indicated either a less serious cause of my pain or that any neoplasm, if present, was at an early stage. This was because the CT scan had shown that my abdominal lymph nodes were all less than 1cm long (Dr Google says that, generally, you’d be concerned if they were greater than 1.2cm in length, but less so if they were shorter than 1cm). Also, I’d not lost weight suddenly or unexpectedly, and there were no observable bloodied stools exiting my rear.

So, a colonoscopy was arranged for the week after Hogmanay. That’s not something that would normally be high on anyone’s New Year wishlist, but I have to say it was a fairly benign procedure. The good news was that my innards showed nothing of concern. Although the biopsies have yet to be examined, the consultant was pretty well convinced there was no thickening as suggested by the CT scan, but, simply, a harmless quirk of anatomy.

Once the doctor was happy that everything looked fine, I then got a guided tour of my caecum and terminal ileum courtesy of a handily placed TV screen. One of the ‘quirks’ was that the valve between the ileum and the caecum, the ileocecal valve, was ‘prominent’ (I thought it looked like a sea-squirt!). The other quirk was that the so-called mucosal folds of the large intestine were also prominent (the inner view of the large intestine reminded me of the accordian-like folds of a tumble-drier ventilation hose). As a bonus, I also got to see my appendix from the inside.

Given there was nothing found of obvious concern, I can say with hindsight that the whole process was fascinating. The consultant managed to navigate the endoscope deep into the distal end of my ileum, rounding three right-angled bends, to a total ‘depth’ of 1.6 metres. How they manage that is beyond me!

The road less travelled… (1) Terminal ileum; (2) Caecum extending to the proximal ascending colon; (3) Rectum. The little spidery thing represents the location of the ileocecal valve and the dangling appendage is the appendix.

To ensure that a complete job was done, a number of biopsies were taken at the caecum and the ileum. An open-jawed instrument was placed against the tissue, snapped shut and, literally, ripped away from the intestinal wall. (The clarity of the image that I could see was due to a ‘well-prepared bowel’, ie, two days of fasting, gallons of water drunk and two doses of Picolax on the second day coupled to a frequently visited, adjacent loo.)

I watched the biopsies in real-time, but felt nothing. That was quite weird, as I thought it might nip a bit as I was only on pain relief when they were navigating the camera to the furthest point examined. Once there, there was no apparent need for it. I’d chosen self-administered Entonox (gas and air) rather than a vein-delivered sedative; largely because my other half had rather enjoyed tripping on gas and air during childbirth!

(Some people forego any form of pain relief as, generally, you are told you may experience only mild discomfort, but as I’m a coward with a low pain threshold I chose to get high.)

Consequently, I was only loosely aware of subsequently taking part in what must have been a surreal conversation with the chatty nurse at my head end. Pre-procedure literature had warned that the gas they use to inflate the intestines for observational purposes may make me feel uncomfortable and a bit windy afterwards, so, when asked how I was going to spend the rest of the day, I think I replied: “Farting!”. I can also remember referencing the ‘blood donor’ episode of Hancock’s Half-hour for some reason, but only after ensuring that all present were aware of who he’d been and emphasising that he was only known to me through repeats of his TV show as “even I’m not that old”.

Chatty nurse also asked me what I did for a living. I replied that I was now retired from Aberdeen’s Marine Laboratory, so she let me know that she was friends with a ‘bit of a character’ who worked there. I, of course, then regaled her with some colourful anecdotes about said ‘character’. As I was tripping quite high by then, I sincerely hope that I didn’t mis-remember them or  conflate them with tales of other characterful Marine Lab staff (of which there are many).

Having successfully traduced my former colleague whilst lying on my left side, I was asked to change position onto my right side. Chatty nurse missed that manoeuvre as she had left her post for a couple of minutes and, when she returned, exclaimed “Oh, I didn’t see you change sides!”. I’m embarrassed to say that was when I compared myself to a deity: “Oh yes”, I said, “I’m like God – I move in mysterious ways!”.

The final topic of narcotically-induced conversation was the tale of ‘just a little prick, sir’ from many years ago when I’d had the snip. I think that, on this occasion, it must have been the nadir of my story-telling because as soon as I’d finished it they placed the Entonox out of my reach.

So, where to now? In terms of diagnosis, other than counting out a bowel problem, I’m back to square one. When I next see my consultant I’ll perhaps suggest a second look at the CT scan in case an apparent irregularly thickened bowel diverted the radiologist’s focus from a more benign issue that may have been present. If not that, then what?

Here’s the limerick.

A patient lay prone on his side
Thinking “Hmm, this is not dignified!”
As a doc tried to pass
A ‘scope up his ass
To a metre and a half deep inside

Postscript: a couple of days after undergoing the colonoscopy, I read a news article that referenced Whitney Houston’s song, Greatest Love of All. I couldn’t help but think it would have ended me completely if, when lying prone with an endoscope a metre and a half up mon derrière in full view of four onlookers, I’d heard her blasting out the lines:

No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity!

Occasional Limericks Only #39

Yes, chef!

Despite this year’s Christmas festivities getting off to a bright start, courtesy of the BBC’s Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert at Aberdeen’s Music Hall, things have gone downhill since.

You see, it is a modern tradition in our house that Firstborn and/or The Tall Child bake a birthday cake for the Paterfamilias (ie, me) on Christmas Eve. Well, it’s after 5pm on the 24th and not an egg has been whisked by an offspring or any flour weighed out.

Fortunately, not all is lost! After (literally) decades of trying to replicate the taste and texture of my Czech grandmother’s festive vanillekipferls (crescent biscuits), I think I’ve finally cracked it!




Here’s the limerick:

On a cold Christmas Eve this year
It’s become transparently clear
That I’ll soon have to bake
My own birthday cake
‘Cos the cooks have failed to appear!

Occasional Limericks Only #38

A light in the darkness…

A limerick for the UK’s shortest day, inspired by a night-time dog walk with Callie.

(NB the video may not appear or play in the subscriber notification; however, it should be viewable on the original blog post)

A collie went out on a lark
For to go and play ‘fetch’ in the park.
The excitable hound
Took off with a bound
After balls that lit up in the dark

Occasional Limericks Only #37

Take a bough folks!

Regular readers will recall that I usually mark this time of year with a reference to the tragic story of Lovell’s Christmas bride and a reminder to look-up my limerick from 2016 that tells the tale succinctly in five lines.

Well, I wasn’t going to remind you any more until I realised that this year, 2022, is the bicentenary of the first published version of the legend; a poem by Samuel Rogers entitled Ginevra. The song most associated with the poem, The Mistletoe Bough, appeared a few years later.

You can read Wikipedia’s version of its history here or, better still, my version here. (Be warned, Wikipedia’s entry does not contain an entertaining, cleverly thought out, humerous and insightful limerick.)

Anyway, 200 years later, I give you this…

The tale of a bride named Ginevra
Told of love lost forevra and evra,
But her story lives on
In folklore and song
And a limerick that’s an awful lot clevra!

Occasional Limericks Only #36

Bare your soul, Leonora!

Here’s a somewhat belated limerick-as-eulogy for the recently departed actor Leslie Phillips. A better thespian than the smooth and rakish image his career landed him with, he was another regular fixture on film and TV during my youth (and for decades after – including a spell voicing the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter film franchise!).

A serious actor as Falstaff in the RSC’s 1996 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Here’s the limerick…

“Oh, he-llo” he’d say, “have a drink?”
A lecherous fellow, you’d think!
Ding dong, you’re not wrong,
But now the dings gone
And expired with a nod and a wink!

Puzzled by the header to this post? It’s adapted from an exchange between Phillips’ and Liz Fraser’s characters in the film Doctor in Love.

With Liz Fraser in the kind of rôle that rather typecast him (from the film Doctor in Love)

The Doctor series of films (seven in all) was a close relation of the Carry On movie franchise; quite literally in terms of their directors as the Doctor films were directed by Ralph Thomas and the Carry Ons by his younger brother Gerald. Phillips appeared in productions of each.

Anyway, back to the header. An avid fan of the genre couldn’t fail to notice a typical Carry On moment in each of the Doctor films, and one such moment is this…

Dr. Tony Burke: Tell me about yourself. Bare your soul.
Leonora: My soul? No one’s ever asked to see that before.

(FYI my favourite Carry On moment in a Doctor film comes when Dr Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) auscultates the chesty Eva (Carol Richmond) in Doctor at Large. You can look that one up yourself – answers on a postcard to…).

Occasional Limericks Only #35

🎶And zing went the strings of my…

…inguinal ligament.🎶 Or did it?

I have learnt, sadly post hoc, that when doing ‘core’ exercises as part of one’s attempts to mitigate life’s inexorable progression to decrepitude, it is best to avoid double-leg-raises whilst lying flat on your back. I’ve since discovered they actually do little or nothing for your core, but can lead to an inguinal hernia.

Unfortunately, the instructors at my local gym appear to be as unaware of this as I was, as ’twas one of them that instructed the spin-and-abs class that I attend to do just that.

Long story short, I’ve just learnt that I need a CAT scan to see whether I have to go under the knife to repair the damage those double-leg-raises did to me (a depressing tale and I’m not a happy chap!).

Interestingly (to me at least) although it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it doesn’t quack like a duck, so is it a hernia or something grander sounding like ‘athletic pubaliga’ (mea culpa, I googled my symptoms!)?

Why no quack? Well. there is none of the classic inguinal hernia ‘bulge’ associated with whatever mischief I’ve done to myself and any pain is not as low down the abdomen as would be expected (hence, I guess, the need for a CAT scan). Otherwise everything points towards non-vocal waterfowl. 

Another depressing part of the story is the waiting list for non-urgent minor surgery at NHS Grampian of around three and threequarter years. If surgery is called for then I’m going to have to fork out to have it done privately. I realise that I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do so, even if it does go against the grain for me, but what does it say about the custodianship of the NHS under successive UK governments?

Anyway, here’s the limerick…

A not-yet-decrepit old man
Said “I’ll train just as hard as I can”,
But has now to restructure
An abdominal rupture.
Seems he’s learnt that he’s not Peter Pan!

Postscript: to discount a more suspicious cause of my soreness, my medical examination involved a nitrile clad digital insertion (you can guess where).

Fortunately. nothing suspicious was found, but the process did cause my mind to wander to an old blog post that queried the meaning of some RAF banter I once came across. I’ve never fully understood it, but it still makes me laugh: An insults an insult, but a chair leg up the a**e – that’s furniture!

Occasional Limericks Only #32

You wait for a politician’s resignation…

…then three come along at once!

Ironic, isn’t it? I’d just completed an OLO that referenced Suella Braverman’s rant (as the UK’s Home Secretary) about the “coalition of chaos” that comprises, amongst others, the “Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati” of which I am a part (other than I rarely eat tofu) when she resigned and rendered it out of date – but here it is regardless…

When you’re a Guardian-reading bloke
And eat tofu, it seems that you’re woke
Said the Minister of Hate
Who wants a police state
Run by her and the right’s Herrenvolk

Anyway, both her resignation and that of Kwasi Kwarteng (the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer), have since been trumped by the resignation of Liz Truss, our erstwhile Prime Minister of 45 days, which brings me to the following question – to be answered in the form of a limerick…

What does a man with a hernia and the Tory party have in common?

There once was a man on a bus
Who made such a terrible fuss
‘Cos he’d ruptured himself,
But no end of wealth
Would make him depend on a Truss!

Occasional Limericks Only #31

…and it’s goodnight from him

With more than a nod to the newsdesk sketches from TV’s old Two Ronnies show, we have yet another ‘weird news’ article from the online Metro newspaper to inspire a limerick…

    …and here it is:

A recidivist old lag and con
Nicked the police station’s loo one fine morn.
Much to their dismay
He got clean away
And the cops said they’d nothing to go on!

Postscript: the original from Ronnie Barker…

The perfect crime was committed last night, when thieves broke into Scotland Yard and stole all the toilets. Police say they have absolutely nothing to go on.


Occasional Limericks Only #30

London calling…

So, I’ve just returned from a long weekend spent wandering the streets of London with Firstborn.

We took in a couple of shows – Mary Poppins (terrific) and Back to the Future (great effects, but no memorable songs) – and the ‘immersive’ van Gogh exhibition (interesting without ‘gripping). We dangled across the Thames on the London cable car, which was fun-but-brief…

Coming to land from the ‘Dangleway’

…and strolled around Islington and Greenwich…

Looking towards the old naval college, Canary Wharf and central London from the prime meridian at Greenwich.

…and the Spitalfields market (I can recommend the Humble Crumble stall!).


We also visited Sir Ian McKellen’s Limehouse pub, The Grapes, so that the Millennial amongst us (and lover of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) could see Gandalf’s Staff that’s exhibited behind the bar. Good pub grub and we had the best seats in the bar!

Gandalf’s Staff on display behind the bar

It is, of course, the trip to The Grapes that inspired the following…

A wizard once said with a laugh
“We sell wine by the glass or caraffe,
So why don’t you traipse
For some plonk at The Grapes
And get to play with my Staff!”

Postscript: we also went to a lot of cafés. List courtesy of Firstborn…


• Miki’s Paradise, Holloway Road, breakfast
• Minimalist cafe in islington, tea and coffee, find name
• Kipferl, Islington, lunch
• Regents Canal cafe, canal no 5? Hot drink and pastry


• Half Cup, St Barts Square, brunch
• Pangea, Spitalfields, tea
• Humble Crumble, Spitalfields, crumble
• Trade, Spitalfields, tea and pastry
• Caffe Nero off the Strand, tea
• Papa Johns, Hotel, pizza


• Dad – caffe nero St Paul’s, coffee
• The Grapes, Canning Town, lunch and sorbet
• Fratellis, across the cable car from Greenwich, tea and coffee
• Monsoon cafe, Greenwich, sandwich


• Caffe Nero, St Paul’s, tea
• Attendant Coffee, farringdon, brunch
• Black Sheep Coffee, Wembley, tea – Alice