A Bran Tub Of Bittybobs

Key's Cupboard

This week someone has shoved a bran tub into my cupboard. Let us see what we find in it. First, a quotation from Stanley Baldwin to cheer you up:

My inside is a mess of cold rumbling fluidity. My brain is costive. Faith is dying. Hope is dead.

Next, some notes on handwriting, taken from Jerome B Lavay’s Disputed Handwriting : An Exhaustive, Valuable, And Comprehensive Work Upon One Of The Most Important Subjects of To-day (1909):

Charlotte Brontë‘s writing seemed to have been traced with a cambric needle, and Thackeray’s writing, while marvellously neat and precise, was so small that the best of eyes were needed to read it. Likewise the writing of Captain Marryatt was so microscopic that when he was interrupted in his labours he was obliged to mark the place where he left off by sticking a pin in the paper. Napoleon’s was worse than illegible, and it is said that his letters from Germany to the Empress Josephine were at first thought to be rough maps… Byron’s handwriting was nothing more than a scrawl. The writing of Dickens was minute, and he had a habit of writing with blue ink on blue paper.

Now, an almost unbearably exciting parlour game, from My Book Of Indoor Games by Clarence Squareman (1916):

To play this game you must first decide which one of you is to be the Bird-catcher; the other players then each choose the name of a bird, but no one must choose the owl, as it is forbidden. All the players then sit in a circle with their hands on their knees, except the Bird-catcher, who stands in the centre, and tells a tale about birds, taking care to specially mention the ones he knows to have been chosen by the company. As each bird’s name is called, the owner must imitate its note as well as he can, but when the owl is named, all hands must be put behind the chairs, and remain there until the next bird’s name is mentioned. When the Bird-catcher cries “All the birds,” the players must together give their various imitations of birds. Should any player fail to give the cry when his bird is named, or forget to put his hands behind his chair, he has to change places with the Bird-catcher.

Remember, it’s not the winning that matters, but the taking part.

Finally, I must not fail to mention Lloyd George’s observation that Neville Chamberlain had “a wrong-shaped head”.

Share This Post

About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

2 thoughts on “A Bran Tub Of Bittybobs

  1. andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
    August 19, 2011 at 13:11

    Does Mr Squareman record any examples of Bird-catchers’ ‘tales about the birds’? Or perhaps Frank can give us some in a future cupboard, so that we can play along at our computers?

    (“Napoleon’s was worse than illegible, and it is said that his letters from Germany to the Empress Josephine were at first thought to be rough maps”. Ha ha!)

Comments are closed.