Hosanna in Excelcis

The toddler has discovered Christmas carols.

This is great: her health issues mean she is way behind in her language and related social skills. But she’s always responded well to music and she has picked up about half a dozen Christmas carols in the space of a week.

So we’ve been woken (she’s like her dad, an early riser: I’d assumed I would welcome this but I now see the downside) several mornings with ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ ‘Good King Wencelas’ or a sort of blend of ‘Hark the Herald Angels’ and ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.

Or ‘We Three Kings’ (also known as ‘ Star of Wonder’.)

Now, this last one is kind of interesting. I don’t know the ‘proper’ words to it: I only know the Fred Dagg version, which was done way back in 197omumble.

I’ve been running this past a lot of people – of, I guess, a broadly similar age to myself – and first I get a quizzical look as they try to think of what the real words are. Then they say, ‘yeah, me too…’

So, herewith, both versions

Fred Dagg

We three kings of Orient are
One on a tractor, two in a car
One on a scooter tooting a hooter
Following yonder star.

Ooh – Ooooh….

Star of wonder
Star of light
Star of beauty, she’ll be right
Star of glory, that’s the story
Following yonder star.

Somewhat surprisingly, no-one has Youtubed this yet. There was a video clip done of it at the time but perhaps it has long since been shredded.

The Original Version

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

There’s a heap of other verses, but we don’t need to labour the point, I feel.

A defence of materialism at Christmas….

Is here.

My favourite line is in one of the first comments:

“I’ve never understood extremists but I tend to be of the opinion that there’s nothing much that a good pie, beer and a root won’t fix.”

Ya gotta love those Aussies.

Oh, and here’s another great line from the comments boxes:

Karl Marx said “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” but I submit that’s purely because he couldn’t kick back and take in the Playboy Channel on super-size HD plasma widescreen.

That’s REAL opiate for you, Karl.

Easing back….

Eased myself back into the year from the holid…I mean, the getting-rained-on-while-staring-at-the-teev season.

A lot of people seem to have got into religious issues over the past six weeks or so. The Richard Dawkins book seems to have sparked a lot of it.

Cactus Kate kicked it off..can’t get a very good link but its at the bottom of this page; Russell Brown had a different toke, err, I mean take, here; and David Farrar had a go at the Anglican bishop’s ‘lets have a church without any religion’ approach here.

I’d do something in depth on this issue myself, but maybe another time. My only comment at this stage is that I can settle the old argument whether God is male or female.

Definitely male. There’s a passage in Isaiah which goes ‘My bowels shall sound like harp’.

Think about this for a minute. Fart jokes in the Bible?

God HAS to be a bloke.

Read good books for Christmas though. Biography of Kingsley Amis, excellent! Martin Bywater’s ‘Big Babies’ was a big disappointment. He makes some good points, about how
some aspects of modern culture is teaching people to behave like children and not take responsibility for themselves. But it reads like what it was – a newspaper column stretched out to book length. You need to go deeper for a book.

Spent some time driving along listening to National Radio’s Matinee Idle session in the afternoons, with Simon Morris and Phil O’Brien. This was excellent, not the usually predictable NatRad fare, but a lot of unusual music.

One song called ‘Atilla the Hun’ (which seem to owe a musical debt to the Kinks’ ‘Wish I Could Fly Like Superman’ but that’s by the by).

The chorus of ‘Attilla the Hun’ went

“Atilla the Hun,
Atilla the Hun
Now there was a boy who knew how to have fun.”

These are not sentiments one usually associates with National Radio.

Most places I stayed over the break had UK TV, which was often excellent. Haven’t seen ‘The Sweeney’ for years, probably since it was originally screened in the late 1970s.

It was one of those violent cop shows, although the show which really attracted a lot of people’s ire for violence was ‘Starsky and Hutch’.

‘The Sweeney’ was not criticised in the same way, even though it was just as violent. I suspect this was because (a) it had good actors (John ‘Inspector Morse’ Thaw and Dennis ‘Minder’ Waterman).

Also, it was British violence. All the difference in the world.

The teev also had re-runs of ‘Only Fools and Horses’. Now, this could be pretty hit or miss: the good bits were very good, but there was a lot of naff stuff as well.

But, given the paucity of good weather, and the lack of anything else on in the evenings, all I can say is God Bless Hookie Street.

Oh, and too many motels no longer have teapots. Come on, people! Some of us still like to start the day with a nice cup of English breakfast.

"Shared Visions of Heaven are so hard to come by"

“Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous,” L. Ron Hubbard reckoned. “If a man really wants to make a million dollars he should start his own religion”.

Onya, Ron. I reckon the guy was onto something there.

So, in case this freelance gig doesn’t keep paying the bills, I thought I’d start a religion on the side.

So I am founding the religion of the Snackers. My own title is the Big Peanut Slab. Basically Pagan, the Snackers however are not satisfied with worshiping the Golden Calf. That is for Pikers.

No. We worship the Golden Thigh, especially the Golden Thigh of Netballers.

Advanced worshipers, such as myself, can go even higher.

We worship the Golden Handshake.

Now, this religion is still at its formative stages, but here are some initial principles:

Poverty. The desirability of poverty seems a pretty universal principle of most religions. Poverty for the followers, that is. I’ve noticed though, that religious leaders often seem to have some sort of exemption on this.

Which is why I propose to be a religious leader. All Hail the Big Peanut Slab, for I shall rain a Golden Shower of Goodness upon my followers.

Scientology in general seems to be an exception for both leaders and followers. I’m not too sure how they have managed this but I am working on it. Believe me.
Which brings us neatly to…

Modes of worship

Cash. Used or new notes, The Big Peanut Slab isn’t fussy.


Now, I’ve made a reasonably close study of this, and it’s pretty damn clear that as soon as you set up a religious order you have to start talking about sex. No religion is complete without a certain level of bossiness in this area. So here goes.

No-one is to have sex. Unless I say so. But don’t worry, I shall always allow it. I just want to know what is going on. Married or unmarried, hey, who cares.

Just gimme the goss.

This includes homosexuality, although one practice though I will not abide. Sorry, boys, but the show tunes will have to go, as will the Barbara Streisand CDs, for they are an Abomination, one which cries unto Heaven for vengeance.

I’m prepared to tolerate Abba, but only just, and only because the Sex Pistols ripped off the riff of “SOS” for “Pretty Vacant”.


The eating of shellfish…

Is bloody excellent. Bluff Oysters to be washed down with Grove Mill Chardonnay on religious holidays, or any other time the Big Peanut Slab decrees.

Avoid oysters if anyone drags you along to Valentines to partake of the smorgasbord…in fact, just avoid anyone who drags you along to Valentines. Just avoid Valentines. You don’t need that crap.

Bacon, eggs, lambs fry, strong coffee, and grapefruit juice are to be eaten on Sunday mornings. This is to commemorate the Holy Hangover of 1984, which actually lasted until 1985, for such was the pain thereof.

Modes of Dress:

You Can Leave Your Hat On (dah na nah na naH NAH!) Sorry. Big Peanut Slab has a weakness for Karaoke.

Dress is optional. Jeans are OK. I’m pretty relaxed about this sort of thing too, although some things are right out:

Walk Shorts
(especially Walk Shorts and thongs worn together)

Body piercings are an abomination and they make the Big Peanut Slab feel queasy.

A few miscellaneous rules:

That bastard who sold me the dud Hillman Hunter in 1983 to be hunted down and dismembered.

Jetski Riders are to be beaten, boiled in oil, smeared with honey and put in an anthill, hung, drawn, quartered, and asked to leave the country.

All recordings by Phil Collins, the Singing Dalek, to be melted down and made into melted Phil Collins recordings.

Spammers, be they offering investments in Nigerian gold mines, “sure fire stocks certain to rise”, or very specific bodily alteration, to be forced to listen to recordings by the aforementioned Singing Dalek for all eternity.

And finally, my Benediction and Blessing to all:

  1. Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. People will then wonder what you have been smoking.
  2. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story, even if it is usually about their mother’s uncle, not the one who moved to the Gold Coast, the other one, hadn’t seen him for ages, but he popped in the other day, “here’s trouble!” he said, and was telling us about how his property deal in Wanaka had gone…
  3. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit, and tend to spray you with spittle.
  4. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
  5. Bastards.
  6. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. But no bugger is having my Biggles books.
  7. Be Yourself.
  8. Unless you’re a total Smeghead, in which case, find someone decent to pretend to be.
  9. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
  10. Failing that, shield spirits to nurture you in sudden misfortune. Mine’s a Glenmorangie. Cheers.
  11. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Especially those ones at 2am about the shape in the corner of the bedroom. Or – are you listening, Helen? – dark imaginings about what people in Golf Clubs are saying about you.
  12. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
  13. You are a child of the universe. Try not to piss off the grown ups.

Muslims, virgins and dried fruit

I’ve just been sent another screed on the whole Islamic suicide bomber thing.

It has given me food for thought.

It touches upon the whole promise that if young Islamists become martyrs they go to paradise and get to shag 72 virgins.

It also trots out the line many of us have heard before, that there was some sort of misunderstanding and that ‘virgins’ is actually some sort of dried fruit.

Virgin – dried fruit – hey, it’s a mistake anyone could make.

It does though underline what many critics of Islam say – that it’s a very anti-women religion.

What’s in it for the women suicide bombers. I wonder? The chance to shag 72 fumbling, nervous, overheated and overexcited young men? I can see many having second thoughts.

A choice between that and 72 dried fruit and a lot of women I know would take the additional fibre.

If the dried fruit were covered in chocolate – something like those chocolate raisins Heards used to sell – it would be no contest.