Astyages's Weblog

May 12, 2011

Eyes Wide Open

Filed under: Eyes Wide Open,Uncategorized — astyages @ 1:19 pm
Tags: , ,

A poor little Jewish baby boy was born without eyelids; it’s mother and father were very distressed and asked the paediatrician what they could do. The paediatrician said, “Well, in a few days’ time you’ll be having the bris, right?” The parents nodded.

“Well…” said the medic, we could take the skin from the bris and perform a transplant – there’s no danger of rejection ’cause it’s his own skin…”

The parents looked at each other; hope began to appear in the father’s face, but the mother was still a little concerned, so she asked, “Won’t that make him a bit cockeyed?” But the paediatrician said, “No… in fact it will give him excellent foresight!”


April 22, 2011

Herbal T for 2

The old shaman finally sat down underneath a vine-strewn tree…

Hmmm, that story about the African
chief reminds me of the time I was sailing up Orinoco… on an
expedition looking for medicinal herbs and native remedies for
Harrods’ health-food department. It was impossible even to say what
country we were in when we stopped at a small village that was
located in a large clearing in the Amazon rainforest. I’d heard the
shaman there knew of some particularly potent vines and ferns; if I
was lucky, perhaps I’d be able to undergo the healing ritual and
write it up for National Geographic as a bonus.

After paying the shaman in tobacco,
hatchets and knives, I persuaded him to take me into the jungle to
find some of his famous ingredients, although he was very reluctant
to go at first… He said something about the ‘spirit of the vines’
wouldn’t like a stranger who didn’t understand the sacred nature of
the vines and the ritual desecrating the sacred part of the forest
where they were found’, or something… I finally placated him by
making lots of credulous ‘respectful’ noises and, after the gift of a
dozen extra hatchets, he finally agreed to take me.

After trudging all day through swamp
and jungle we finally came to a huge vine-strewn tree, under which
the shaman lit a small fire to boil water for the billy. Good, I
thought, I could really use a nice cuppa ‘Rosie-Lea’ right now, but
instead of putting a couple of tea-bags into the billy, he cut a
tendril from the vine which grew all over the tree and after chopping
it up on a nearby stone, as one would chop parsley, he threw this
‘tea’ into the billy. Then he started to chant over it in a querulous
voice, shaking his magic rattle over it as he uttered the

After the brew had boiled for several
minutes, he took it off the heat, and after breathing onto the brew
for a minute or so, presumably to cool it, he handed it to me.
Wordlessly,  I took it and drank it; the taste was bitter but not
unpleasant… what happened next I can scarce credit myself, for as
the shaman smoked his big cigar, I saw vines coming out of him and
wrapping themselves around the tree in a manner I can only describe
as ‘lovingly’… then I realized that the vine and the shaman were
somehow the same creature… Perhaps in my drug induced state, I was
seeing something metaphorical as if it were actually real… I don’t
really know; yet somehow I understood that this old shaman, who had
made his very existence through the power of these vines to cure
people of their ailments, had somehow become part of the vine and it
had become his spirit; ecstatically, I experienced an epiphany;
somehow the whole universe revolved around this understanding that he
and the vine were one…

Then, all of sudden I was hit by
another sudden realization… I was suffering from one of the
well-known and unfortunate side-effects of the medicinal vines; I
needed to empty my bowels… URGENTLY! I ran off into the forest and spent the
next half-hour or so there; but I’ll spare you the gory details of
what happened as soon as I found sufficient cover for my western

Suffice it to say that I was both
relieved and considerably lighter when I returned to the old shaman,
who was still attached by innumerable vines to the tree. I felt both
enlightened and yet somehow tricked at the same time by this old
magician, as the shaman asked me, “Are you feeling better now? Is
your ailment cured? And how do you feel now about the Spirit of the

In fact I did feel much better; but
this old guy had just given me the shits… quite literally! I could
not help looking him right in the eye as I said, “I’m fine, thanks
very much, but with fronds like you, who needs enemas!”


April 15, 2011

Pigs’ Psalms Competition: My Entry

Filed under: The Landlord's Prayer — astyages @ 8:04 pm

A Prayer for the Pigs’ Arms: The Landlord’s Prayer

Posted on April 14, 2011 by astyages

By Astyages

I did promise a little entry in the Pigs’ Psalms competition, didn’t I? This is actually more of a prayer than a psalm, but since a psalm is just a prayer that is sung, and since I suppose this could quite easily be sung, and since in any case I’m more impressed with content than form, I shall, without further ado, get straight to the point, without any beating around the bushes or any further preamble like some long-winded polly or other, here it is:

The Landlord’s Prayer:

Our Landlord, which art in ‘t pub,

Merv be thy name.

Thy License come;

Or thou wilt be done

On earth, as it is

In Holden Hill magistrates’ court.

Give us this day our daily wedgies,

And forgive us our overdue bartabs

As we forgive you for your flat ale

And watered-down whiskey

Lead us not into the temptation

Of visiting Glenda’s House of Pain,

But deliver us from every evil,

For thine is the Leasehold,

The power and the glory,

Forever and ever,


By T2


March 29, 2011

A Naval Story

Filed under: A Naval Story — astyages @ 1:35 pm

A Naval Story



First let me offer my apologies to my regular readers, who may have been expecting the next episode of ‘Virgil’s Aeneid’ to be posted last Friday; in fact although I have been trying to post this on Fridays, to keep up with Wordpress’s ‘Blog a Week’ challenge, there is no real ‘schedule’… Unforeseen circumstances kept me too busy last week, but I think I’m at least a couple of posts up on the ‘Blog a Week’ thingo, so I took a holiday; next episode will probably be this Friday, but don’t put your lifesavings on it!

We stopped at a small coastal village... (Picture courtesy of an anyonymous donor from the Pigs' Arms!)

In the meantime, I should let you all know that, as I come from a family with a long naval tradition (everyone in our family’s got navals!) here’s a Naval story my father told me, about the middle of last century… (or was it the one before?):

“I was steaming down the west coast of Africa,” my father said, “when we dropped anchor at a small coastal port; little more than a native village in a natural harbor, really… But when we went to the chief’s hut the place was a shambles; total destruction; their chief, so we were told, had just been killed in a terrible accident, so I asked the official I spoke to what had happened and he told me the whole story:

Apparently, about a year earlier, of all people, there was a ‘Dunlopillow’ salesman travelling through the region. He had stopped at the village to show the chief his wares, and the chief had been most impressed, but the latter foresaw a few problems:

‘Look here,’ he said, ‘you see how my hut is constructed: my throne of ivory and ebony weighs four and a half tons! The saplings which form the basic shell of my hut were grown around it specifically, until they reached the right height and were then brought together at the centre at the top and the walls were then thatched as per our usual custom… Now, while this gives me a magnificant hut and throne, it doesn’t leave a lot of spare room for the king-sized divan you showed me in your catalogue, no matter how much I’d love to purchase it…’

But the salesman was a resourceful fellow and was not to be put off!

‘Don’t you worry!’ He said, ‘White man’s magic can fix anything! You just sign this order form… I’ll accept payment in ivory, thank you… And I’ll deliver it as soon as possible; of course, you do realise it’ll take some time to have the bed shipped out from the UK?’

Well, the chief knew a man of his word when he saw one and this salesman had an honest face, so the chief signed the order form and the salesman went away.

True to his word, though, the salesman had come back to the village almost a year later to the day, bringing the most luxurious king-sized bed the chief – or anyone in the village – had ever seen. The chief was impressed, but still a little dubious, ‘Ah, my friend,’ he said, ‘it is every bit as wonderful as it looked in the catalogue! But have you solved the problem of where to put it?’

‘What problem?’ he said, simply, ‘We’ll just put a block and tackle in the roof and, whenever you want to lounge around on your bed, or whenever you want to go to sleep, you simply pull the throne up into the rafters and you can lay on your be underneath it! When you need the throne for official functions, it can easily be let down again and you can stack the bed on its end against one of the walls…’

Well, the chief was again most impressed with this solution, so he duly payed the balance on his account in elephants tusks and the salesman went away, having made enough on this one deal to keep him in luxury for the rest of his life…

But as luck would have it, a few weeks later… indeed, only a few days prior to our ship’s landing there, the chief was  having a bit of a sing-song with a few of his old cronies that he wanted to impress, so he had the bed down and was lounging on in total luxury while his cronies supped their beer on the floor all around him. Then, all of a sudden, there was a loud, CRACK! and one of the rafters broke; the rest of them could not bear the weight of the throne and four and a half tons of ebony and ivory came down just like so many tons of bricks, and squashed the chief flatter than you could squash a bug…

“But,” my father then said, “there’s a moral to this tale…”

“Oh,” I asked in my innocence, “What’s that?”

“People who live in grass houses,” said my father, “shouldn’t stow thrones!”


March 13, 2011

A Gag from Eric and Ernie:

Filed under: A Gag From Eric and Ernie — astyages @ 12:51 pm

Eric Morecombe and Ernie Wise used to end their shows like this: Eric would start a gag which Ernie would immediately interrupt with the shocked cry, “YOU can’t tell that one… this is a family show!” Here, for the benefit of the uninitiated, is the gag, retold for you in its entirety, by yours truly:

There were two old men, sitting in a deck-chair; one said to the other, “It’s nice out, isn’t it?” To which the other replied, “Yes, but you’d better put it away; there’s a policeman coming!”

Boom-BOOM! (He said, unashamed and unapologetic for this glorious piece of British comedy history!)


March 9, 2011

Mrs Yellow Cloud

Filed under: Mrs Yellow Cloud,Short stories and Jokes: — astyages @ 12:18 pm

Well, after the wonderful reaction I had to my little tale about Yellow Cloud, I though perhaps you’d like to hear more about him and his friends and family, so here’s another ‘Yellow Cloud’ story:

Now, Yellow Cloud had a wife called Little Honey; and Little Honey had two friends, White Dove and Laughing Water. Although the women were always the very best of friends Yellow Cloud was often amused by the petty jealousy they displayed towards each other over the smallest of matters, such as who had the best teepee and who had the finest buckskin robes…

One day Laughing Water’s husband brought her a new deerskin to cover her bed. Of course, White Dove had to go one better and so she henpecked her husband, Little Pony, into going hunting for a buffalo hide to cover her own bed; the thick woolly fleece of the buffalo was so much more comfortable than the thinner fur of a deer’s hide. But Little Honey had to go one better still… she pestered her husband into sending away to Africa for a hippopotamus hide, which she’d heard had magical powers of fertility. 

Soon after that, White Dove discovered she was pregnant and after the usual interval, she gave birth to a bouncing baby boy… Not to be outdone, Laughing Water and Little Honey also became pregnant, and eventually Laughing Water also gave birth to a healthy baby boy, but Little Honey gave birth to twins, which, she said, just goes to  prove that the sons of the squaw on the hippopotamus are equal to the sons of the squaws on the two other hides.


March 2, 2011

Yellow Cloud

Yellow Cloud was not feeling well, so he decided to visit the medicine man. The medicine man sat him down, looked deeply into his eyes, shook a rattle and hummed a song over him for a few minutes, finally ‘slapping’ his face with the feathers which were attached to the end of the rattle; then he cut a thin, metre-long strip from a piece of buffalo hide, and gave it to Yellow Cloud, saying, “Eat a bite of this every day and come back and see me when it’s all gone!”

Obediently, a little over a month later, Yellow Cloud again visited the medicine man’s teepee. When the medicine man saw him he said, “Little Big Man! My heart soars like a hawk!”

But when Yellow Cloud said, “No Grandfather! It is I… Yellow Cloud…” he said, “Oh, it is you… I remember you…” Then after an awkward moment’s silence, he said, “How are you feeling now?”

“Doctor,” said Yellow Cloud, “The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on!”

*****       *********       *****

And if you like that one, there’s more where that came from!


April 9, 2010

The Story of the Happy Buddha

Filed under: The Tale of the Happy Buddha — astyages @ 5:16 am

The Story of the Happy Buddha:




(This story was written in response to a post by ‘Silent’, a poster on the Unleashed website; Silent was hesitantly suggesting that some Buddhists can be atheists too. Here is my response; I do hope Buddhists will understand my humorous retelling of this story, and that they will not be offended by my little tale)

Silent, your position on Buddhism puts you in the more intellectual Buddhist category.  Here’s a little story, and believe it or not it’s true (more or less!):

When Buddha, after many years of sitting and meditating under the Bodhi tree, finally achieved Supreme and Ultimate Enlightenment, his followers all kept pestering him, “Master, master, please, PLEASE tell us… Just exactly what IS this Supreme and Ultimate Enlightenment?”  Buddha just laughed at their folly and their laziness, “Go and find out for yourselves!” he cried.

But his followers then thought their master didn’t love them any more and started to cry…  Eventually, after much more persuasion and many, many more tears, Buddha felt compassion for them and finally he relented and said, “Okay, look, what I’ll do is this: We’ll form a church, the Sangha, we’ll call it; and in it I’ll give you all a whole lot of rituals and chants and prayers and meditations; all designed to eventually bring you all to Supreme and Ultimate Enlightenment… provided you do everything I say and don’t get any of it wrong!”

“Thank you Master! Oh! Thank you Master!” the followers all cried, and started to shower the Buddha with all kinds of gifts… Day after day they brought their master lots of delicious foods including all manner of cakes and lollies. Many of them even gave him money; even though they were all very, very poor… They were so happy now they had a church which gave them a path to Supreme and Ultimate Enlightenment!

But after a while, as a result of all that extra tucker, the Buddha found that whereas he’d always been a fairly lean sort of bloke, he’d grown remarkably fat as a result of all the extra food.  So to get a bit of exercise, he walked off, laughing… all the way to the bank!  Then he decided he needed a holiday, so he travelled to China, where the people admired this jolly fat man and his sense of humour so much that they called him the ‘Happy Buddha’.


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