Ambergris treasure trove on beach

Ambergris treasure trove on beach

One year ago today, end of the first month of the Janus project and I was struggling to find a significant headline so I ended up with four and a short verse on each.  From David Beckham to dead sea-birds – enjoy!




The Final Quartet

From the gallic charm of Paris
to the balm of Ambergris
the headlines flutter, swing and sway;
from Iceland’s reach to Devon beach
they weave their way today.


From LA where he was ‘The Man’
Beckham moved to St Germain.
Let’s hope that he regrets rien,
not another ‘also-ran’.

On Morecombe beach a man and dog found vomit of a whale,
or ‘Ambergris’ as it’s well-known in the perfume trade.
It’s worth ten thousand pounds a pound, so now it’s up for sale.
From this smelly log-like lump they’ve had their fortune made.

An Iceland maiden, oh so fair,
wanted to use her name of ‘Blaer’.
Translated it means ‘gentle breeze’.
The court rejected all her pleas.
Her mother, Bjork, then waded in,
saying “it is Icelandic, there’s no sin
in my daughter’s name, it’s real”.
Today they won, upon appeal.

Lathered in adhesive coat
that waxes wings and makes legs sore,
struggling to keep afloat,
sea-birds die on Devon shore.
Wings in waxy coat,
razorbills and guillemot
die on Devon shore.


31st January 2013

Notes:  Four small headlines today – “David Beckham joins Paris St-Germain and will play for free”;   “It’s floating gold! Dog walker finds ‘horrible smelling’ lump of sperm whale vomit worth £100,000”;   Icelandic girl wins right to be called gentle breeze”;   “Rescue for birds covered in ‘wax’ in the south west”.


Horsemeat found in beefburgers on sale in UK and Ireland

burgerOne year ago today was the start of the great horsemeat scandal in the UK.  Horse meat is actually eaten around the world and was eaten in the UK until the 1930s.  Whilst there’s no more health risk in eating horse meat than other forms of meat the story did raise the issue of fraudulent practice (these were supposed to be beefburgers) and the public debate of the squeamishness of the British diet.  There was also another little headline today in the BBC news magazine – “The Pun Conundrum”.  So I thought there could be a way of combining these two themes in this poem!


horses for courses

We’ve eaten horse, we feel remorse.
What used to gallop is now escalope,
medallion of stallion, well done or rare,
fruits de mare.

Astride them we ride them,
we pace them, we race them.
They’re skittish, we’re British.
It’s just our way, say ay or neigh
that they should stay
in fields of green not wither unseen
from stable to dining table.

We’re British.
With hand on the halter we falter
and so we lag in eating nag.
It’s quite obscene, akin to murder,
no fitting end
for man’s close friend
to be a blend
of mince in a Tesco burger.


16th January 2013 – headline from the BBC

Notes:  “Horsemeat found in beefburgers on sale in UK and Ireland”.  Horse DNA has been found in some beefburgers being sold in UK and Irish supermarkets, the Republic of Ireland’s food safety authority (FSAI) has said.  The FSAI said the meat came from two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and the Dalepak Hambleton plant in Yorkshire.  It said there was no risk to health.  The burgers were on sale in Tesco and Iceland in the UK and Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland they were on sale in Dunnes Stores, Lidl and Aldi.

Road project in Iceland delayed to protect ‘hidden’ elves

Middle Earth Elves_P1030159

Middle Earth Elves_P1030159 (Photo credit: hoyasmeg)

8 days left to the Janus project and just managed to squeeze this into a post-prandial gap in Christmas activities.  Strange how Christmas has contorted our view of the ancient Elvish race, reducing them to Santa’s helpers.  Fortunately Tolkien has helped to set the record straight and Icelanders still honour the ancient ways.  Happy Christmas everyone.


Iceland Elves

We don’t do credit to ourselves
when we demean the ancient race of Elves
by flaunting them in Christmas films.
Better by far the Lord of the Rings.

There in the Middle-Earth of Rivendell
Elrond in the Elvish kingdom dwelled
‘til Mordor’s cloying darkness hung,
tentacles of smothering darkness
to shroud and quell the Elvish tongue.

The Elves sailed north to Nordic lands,
fleeing to the grim-beard fjords and volcanic strands.
They melded into Iceland’s mystic geist
of Vulcan spumes, aurora lights
and glacial blue-stone diamond-ice.

And now they drift, kissed by feathered sighs of wind
like spectres in Icelandic mist.
Icelanders honour ancient ways,
their voices raised
against developments that desecrate and taunt
the legendary lore of Elvish haunts.



23rd December 2013 – headline from the Independent

Notes:  “Road project in Iceland delayed to protect ‘hidden’ elves.”  Humans in Iceland are standing up for the rights of elves – and not because Father Christmas works them too hard.  Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project because it might disturb the creatures’ habitat.  The activists are particularly concerned about an elf church that sits on the potential site.  The proposed highway would offer a direct route from the Alftanes peninsula, where President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer.  But the project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava

World’s Oldest Creature Is A 507-Year-Old Mollusc Named Ming… Or Was Until It Was Killed By Scientists

So we’ve done it again.  Ming the mollusc, confirmed today as the oldest living creature, had been enjoying life on the sea-bed until caught and killed in the interest of scientific research.  But what if there was more to Ming than meets the eye.  Today was also the day that the world’s greatest living cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, played his final shot.quahog clam







There I was,
lying in the sand,
minding my own business,
thinking life was grand,
when along came a net
and scooped me from my bed
driving thoughts of cricket
from my muddled head.
Sachin Tendulkar
played his parting shot today,
so says my mollusc radar
tuned in to far Bombay.
So much history
has passed me by
as I lay her contemplating
the answer to why.
Five hundred years,
cogito ergo sum;
of the wonders of the universe
am I the greatest one?
Then some mad scientist
yanked me from the sea
and laid me on a bench
in his laboratory.
He shucked me with a knife
to get a look inside,
threatening my life.
Now Ming the clam has died.

Enjoy your day, human being.
You think you’re cool
but the quahog clam’s the one that rules
the future that you’re seeing.

14th November 2013 – headline from the Huffington Post

Notes:  “World’s Oldest Creature Is A 507-Year-Old Mollusc Named Ming… Or Was Until It Was Killed By Scientists.”  It’s time to rewrite history: The world’s oldest living creature has been revealed as a 507-year-old quahog clam, or at least it was until a team of scientists managed to kill it by opening it up for analysis.  Ming the mollusc, so named after the Chinese dynasty in power when it came into being, was minding its own business on the seabed off the north coast of Iceland, when it was dredged by researchers from Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences in 2006.