smoked salmon and a black basque

Keith Waterhouse was a British novelist, playwright and newspaper columnist who was the youngest son of a cleaner and an alcoholic door-to-door vegetable salesman.

image found here

In 1994 one of his secretaries, referred to in his columns as his “flame-haired factotum”, gave an interview in which she claimed: “At 1pm he would expect smoked salmon sandwiches and a bottle of champagne, and I had to put on my black basque, suspenders and strippergram gear.” Her claim for unfair dismissal was settled out of court.

image found here

He was also the writer of this wry little piece

And God said unto Noah, Make thee an ark of gopher wood. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee.

image found here

And Noah said, Sign here, and leavest Thou a deposit.

And the Lord signed there, and left He a deposit.

And Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

And the Lord said unto Noah, Where is the ark, which I commanded thee to build?

And Noah said unto the Lord, I have had three carpenters off ill. The gopher wood supplier hath let me down – yea, even though the gopher wood hath been on order for nigh upon 12 months. The damp-course specialist hath not turned up. What can I do, O Lord ?

One of these Carpenters is unwell

And God said unto Noah, I want that ark finished after seven days and seven nights.

And Noah said, It will be so.

And it was not so.

And the Lord said unto Noah, What seemeth to be the trouble this time?

And Noah said unto the Lord, Mine sub-contractor hath gone bankrupt. The pitch which Thou commandest me to put on the outside and on the inside of the ark hath not arrived, and the plumber hath gone on strike.

Noah rent his garments and said, The glazier departeth on holiday to Majorcayea, even though I offerest him double time. Shem, my son, who helpeth me on the ark side of the business hath formed a pop group with his brothers Ham and Japheth. Lord, I am undone.

Book a holiday in Majorca here

And God said in his wrath, Noah, do not thou mucketh Me about. How can I destroy this earth if thou art incapable of completing the job that thou was contracted to do?

And Noah said, Lo, the contract will be fulfilled.

And Lo, it was not fulfilled.

And Noah said unto the Lord, The gopher wood is definitely in the warehouse. Verily, and the gopher wood supplier waiteth only upon his servant to find the invoices before he delivereth the gopher wood unto me.

And the Lord grew angry and said, Scrubbeth thou round the gopher wood. What about the animals? Where for example, are the giraffes?

baby giraffe found here

And Noah said unto the Lord, They are expected today

And the Lord said unto Noah, How about the unicorns?

And Noah wrung his hands and wept, saying, Lord, Lord, they are a discontinued line. Thou canst not get unicorns for love nor money.

image found here

And God said, Come thou, Noah, I have left with thee a deposit, and thou hast signed a contract. Where are the monkeys, and the bears, and the hippopotami, and the elephants, and the zebras, two of each kind?

image found here

And Noah said unto the Lord, They have been delivered unto the wrong address, but should arriveth on Friday

And God said unto Noah, Thou hast not made an ark of gopher wood, nor hast thou lined it with pitch within and with-out; and of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort hast thou failed to bring into the ark. What sayest thou, Noah?

And Noah kissed the Earth and said, Lord, Lord, thou knowest in thy wisdom what it is like with delivery dates.

And the Lord in his wisdom said, Noah, my son, I knowest. Why else dost thou think I have caused a flood to descend upon the Earth?

Melbourne Flood 1972 found here

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42 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I wonder who God used to engrave the 10 Commandments? They did it twice, you know.

    • That would be Murray’s Trophies in Philadelphia.

    • It’s hard to get good help!

  2. Red Nurse Myra…


    • That was my attempt at a trackback: it works as a link but I guess it looks like that because I wasn’t able to put a link in the post itself, I guess,

      Anyway, Happy Birthday, Nursie. x

      • Ha! No it doesn’t work as a link!

  3. The unicorns at the shore – shameful loss. Shoulda left flies and mosquitoes behind instead.

    • Agreed !

  4. What’s wrong with wearing a basque and sussies to serve smoked salmon and champers? Nothing. It’s people who serve such delicacies whilst wearing jeans and T-shirt that should be banned.

  5. Oh! Thankyou, Nurse, for this.I’ve been chuckling over that witty ditty for close to half a century and was trying to find my original just the other day.
    And you’ve just had another candle on the cake? Happy birthday, you!

  6. ‘Do not mucketh me about’ Ha ha!

  7. Happy birthday Nursie – and as usual, we are getting all the presents!

    For a minute there, I thought one of those presents might be the advent of Corset Thursday but that was not your shapely form in the link above.

    This then begs the question: which one of you was it?

  8. Gol ding it, “Do not mucketh me about” Ha ha was going to be MY comment! That had to be my favorite line! Proof that SE and I must be sisters under the skin.

    And a very happy birthday to you, Ms Nursemyra! May you increase in loveliness and never hath a contractor waiteth upon an invoice!

  9. This reminds me of the time I spent three weeks having a new furnace installed.

  10. Following Eyeball’s lead also: a very happy birthday, ma’am.

    May all your gopherwood deliveries be timely!

  11. What an hysterical story! That was great.

    One of Charles Bukowski’s best novels is Factotum. It was the first time I encountered that word.

    If you shaved Karen and Richard Carpenter bald, they’d look exactly the same. It’s the same face 2x!

  12. I used to go round to Keith Waterhouse’s house on a Saturday afternoon. I was five at the time. (I was friends with his daughter, also five)

  13. Me thinks i like Mr. Waterhouse.

  14. Your birthday? May you eat a mountain of cake and be done with the consequences.

    Keith Waterhouse was a resident of Brighton, and described it as a place that looked as though it was permenantly helping police with their enquiries.

    Never realised Noah was an English plumber/carpenter/electrician/etc. I now understand many things

    • permanently helping police with their enquiries? That’s hysterical!

  15. Noah was the first government contractor.

  16. How does everyone else know it is your birthday? I need to keep a calendar or something. Hope you have a great one.

    • I think darling Syncy let the cat out of the bag

      • Well, one has to let cats out of bags, they just don’t like being in there, you know.

  17. So he was a bit caprine in relation to his secretary…. Hmm!

    On a separate note Here’s wishing you a very happy birthday Nursie

    • Goatish huh? I had to look that up

  18. always loved Keith Waterhouse’s writing

    even more respect for him now that I know about the champers and the black basque and suspenders

    wonder if I could get the hottie in my office to do the same? 😉

    P.S. happy birthday, NM xxx

    • Good luck with that Duncan

  19. Happy Birthday to my favorite nurse!
    I hope you have a wonderful day, N.M.!

    • And the same to Annabelle

  20. sounds like a typical government worker. amazing that we’re still here.

    happy birthday, darlin’.

  21. Well at least the wombats made it onto the ark, which, in the end, is all that matters.

    • Agreed! I love wombats so much.

  22. the unicorns must have been “Union-corns”, and were walking the picket line that day… we need more sparkle in the world, damn it!

    happy b-day! box-o-stuff from chicago, and a few bits more, winging their way toward your hemisphere!

  23. the baby giraffe is so very adorable !

  24. As long as it was served by someone in a black basque, I’d settle for a bag of Cheetos

  25. If there’s a better way for your waitress to deliver lunch than wearing a black basque, suspenders and strippergram gear I’ve yet to hear it.

  26. Figaro in ‘Barber of Seville’ describes himself as a Factotum – but he’s never in the exciting attire of the salmon-serving redhead.

    Enjoy birthdaying, treat yourself to yummy, fun things.

  27. Heehee! And Happiest of Birthdays to Thee!!!!

  28. Have a wonderful day and year! Oddly, I had just read this piece elsewhere – not sure what that means but if I hear it a third time, I might be in the market for gopher wood.

  29. Now “And God said to Noah there’s gonna be a floody floody … ” is stuck in my head.

    Birthday! *jazz hands*

  30. I would definitely read a novel about an alcoholic door-to-door vegetable salesman.

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