Corporal Ebenezer Scumme (1628 – 1677)

Ebenezer Scumme was in military service for thirty years. He never rose above the rank of Corporal. He joined the army in 1642 at the age of fourteen and served in many different regiments.

His years of experience prompted him to put down on paper (actually he couldn’t write but got Private Scrape Moulds to write it for him on pain of pain if he didn’t) how a soldier could have successful and safe career. He was once heard to say, ‘It’s only fair that I give something back in return and, truthfully, I’ll never be able to give back anywhere near as much as I took.’

Scumme was a quick learner; he was often a couple of steps ahead of the officers and sergeants in thought and cunning. By the age of twenty he was a corporal and had settled into his long and undistinguished career. He never asked for promotion to Sergeant, believing that the responsibility was too much and would cramp his activities.

Scumme was never cited for courage or bravery in action and was unrecognized by his superiors (due to his ability to be where they were not). This was a talent that he prized above all else as he felt it was essential to his ongoing successful and mostly hazard-free career. His specialised area of logistics enabled him to remain well supplied and well away from the front line.

Corporal Scumme started his career in the English Civil War. It is unclear for which side he fought, there being reports of him being seen in either uniform at one time or another. After that he mainly fought the Dutch, but also served with the navy in Jamaica during conflicts with Spain. His ship, The Founder, had problems with the rum barrels being mysteriously empty after each stop in port. Corporal Scumme denied any involvement.

While in Holland he was in charge of rations and often reported thefts of food and clothing. He always denied any involvement himself.

Ebenezer Scumme retired at age 44. He was, much to nobody’s surprise, suddenly found to be mysteriously wealthy with a mansion in rural Hampshire. He also travelled often to Jamaica where he had ‘business interests’. In 1675 he eventually moved permanently to Jamaica to live next to his large warehouse full of rum. He set up a distillery and promptly drank himself to death within two years.

The following extracts are all that remains of Corporal Scumme’s Rules of Engagement.

• Those who are first to arrive on the battlefield are insane! Those who are last to the battlefield get to pick valuables off the corpses.

• When an army is travelling, if there is hilly territory with streams and ponds or depressions overgrown with reeds, or wild forests with a luxuriant growth of plants and trees, it is imperative to search them carefully and thoroughly. These are the places you can hide when the sergeant discovers you have stolen his money.

• Those who use the military skillfully are never on the front line and do not volunteer

• By stealing equipment from your own army, you always have something to sell if the battle goes badly and you need to leave in a hurry.

• A sharp bayonet, a devious mind, and a stupid sergeant; these are the makings of a successful corporal’s career.

My Summer Stile

Glacial debris, long since forgotten,
poked through the bridle track,
jammed between two houses
on its journey from Stockton Lane
to the boundary fence,
where sat a stile,
beyond which a field,
its mature cereal stalks cut by the path,
curving away below
to the tree and the A513.

To the east, pillars of steam
held up the huge pale sky;
the lush forests of Cannock Chase
small beneath it,
Walton High School just a distraction,
a weekday necessity.
This was space
on the edge of town –
freedom; a place to breathe,
renew, a place of solitude.

I often sat here, on the fence,
in balmy evening twilight
infused with magic, a stillness
disturbed only by random
cool puffs of breeze,
relaxing muscle and mind
with the ease of a skilled masseuse;
this was my seat,
my sanctuary,
my summer stile.

20 Songs to Relax to on a Hot Summer’s Evening

It’s winter over here in Perth, so I’m thinking about summer – I put this together a few years back in another incarnation…

This is a totally self-indulgent list, but I encourage anyone who reads it to take time to listen to these tracks, with a beer in hand, and tell me they aren’t classics. Mind you if you’ve sat through them all on said evening, then your are probably snoozing in an alcohol induced sleep. So in no particular order:-

Big Log (Robert Plant) – This solo effort from the Led Zeppelin frontman captures the mood of solitary reflection and contemplation while on the road. A fine effort.

On the Beach (Chris Rea) – From the guitar master with the gravelly voice. This smooth combination of a catchy beat overlain with keyboards and a relaxing guitar riff runs for almost 7 minutes. It’s well worth the time though.

That’s Entertainment (The Jam) – Paul Weller at his best. This track is a great reflection of urban life in the late 70’s, but also holds true for urban life today in many areas.

Last Train to Heaven (Paul Kelly & the Coloured Girls) – As well as being on the album Gossip, this mellow track can also be found on the surfing film Jungle Jetset. Paul Kelly remains a classic Australian musician.

Girls on the Avenue (Richard Clapton) – Perhaps not too well known outside Australia. An ode to girls of negotiable affection.

Maybe Tomorrow (Stereophonics) – Great stuff from these guys. Strikes the balance of melancholy with a simple chord progression.

Walking in the Sunshine (Bad Manners) – The ska boys in rare reflective mood, but intent on drinking red wine. This song has a saxophone ‘riff’ that just resonates and is, in my humble opinion, one of the best uses of the saxophone in ‘pop’.

Long Hot Summer (Style Council) – If this song doesn’t relax you, then nothing will. One of the first Style Council songs, from the summer of 1983.

Slave (James Reyne) – The Australian Crawl lead singer in solo form. A bit of late night classic to wind people down.

Every Kind of People (Robert Palmer) – The late Robert Palmer’s cover of this song from 1978 leaves you feeling laid back and tolerant of the other occupants of this planet of ours.

School (Supertramp) – Classic use of the keyboards and a song that ebbs and flows. May be not their best song, but many people will know the piano hook from the mid-section of this song.

Saturday Night (Cold Chisel) – One of Australia’s finest rock bands. Sadly not well-known outside the antipodes. This is one of many great songs. Good use of recorded sounds from a pub in the intro.

Cars and Girls (Prefab Sprout) – Under-rated and under-played, Prefab Sprout were the master of the melodic pop song. This one will take you on smooth journey.

Take it Easy (The Eagles) – One of the earliest, but one of the best songs from the Eagles. Just under three minutes of country-pop that won’t leave you bored.

La Viguela (Gotan Project) – This combination of French and Argentinean musicians will get you wanting to dance the tango, but you’ll be able to resist this and just enjoy the flow of the music, while imagining latin scenes in far away Buenos Aires.

This Too Will Pass (Rodney Crowell) – Rodney is big in the USA, I believe. I only have two CD’s but this optimistic song stands out as a country-pop classic.

In These Shoes (Kirsty MacColl) – The late Kirsty MacColl shows her sense of humour and latin musical influences on this track, which has been used extensively in advertising.

Summertime (Gerry & the Pacemakers) – What can I say about this. This cover is just silky-smooth even after all these years. Cole Porter would be proud.

Kiss Me (Sixpence None the Richer) – A short-lived band from Texas that produced a classic. I can’t remember the film that this came from, but it’s a great piece of laid-back pop.

Jamming (Bob Marley & the Wailers) – I couldn’t not have some reggae in this list, and who better than Bob Marley could I include. Jamming must be one of the best mainstream reggae tracks of all time.

Early Onset Grump

Early Onset Grump

I’m not yet fifty, not yet forty-five,
but I grumble – a lot,
see youngsters transfixed by cheap rubbish,
well, expensive rubbish,
actually.

They stare at glowing screens, oblivious,
just useless lumps of flesh
that shuffle, heads down, mumble some language,
unintelligible.
I ask you!

They have the attention spans of goldfish,
random thoughts, strange fashions,
an inflated sense of entitlement;
they’re always wanting more,
for nothing.

Yes, I suffer from Early Onset Grump, but
they’re rude, and worse than that
their young bodies don’t creak and groan like mine,
they smile and laugh a lot –
the bastards!

A short ode to dickheads!

The Incredible Penis Extension

There’s a ‘special’ set of people that inhabit my town
that make the rest of us wince and quite often frown.
They are very superficial and lacking in thought,
but they’re rolling in money, flaunting toys they have bought.

They take many forms and if you look you will see
that the fellow in front is saying ‘Hey, look at me’,
as he flaunts without shame and captures attention
with his new and improved shiny penis extension.

He doesn’t care what you think, he reckons he’s cool
but most people around think that he is a fool,
except those in the crowd who admire his persistence
and themselves are in need of some penile assistance.

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