Friday, 21 April 2017

Doc Barbara embraces Tai Chi

Doc Barbara has observed sadly that people tend to back away when she advances to hug them but, undaunted, she has devoted herself to embracing Tai Chi with enthusiasm. Our fervent readers will recall her initiation into Yoga and Pilates and her bewilderment at discovering that she has some things called glutes. Now, after 2 years, the shock has diminished and she still wants to become more bendy. Tai Chi Qi Gong seems the answer and she is learning to perform the movements wearing these nifty shoes which she believes help her Chi rise from the earth and fix itself where it should.

  However, she is now in a state of trauma having been told that she has something else of which she was unaware and which is called a Dan Tien. This is located near her navel and we are printing an exclusive photograph as our Spring scoop.

  It is hard to see the relevant energy storage organ as Doc Barbara is modest and refused to take off her cardigan, dress, copious underwear and thick tights. Readers are therefore required to use their imaginations - but not too much. She is entranced by the names of the poses and likes to practise The Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg wherever she happens to be as it is improving her balance slowly. The customers in the check-out till at Asda wish it would ameliorate more speedily as she has a tendency to wobble perilously near their overloaded trolleys. When reproached, she replies that she has given up Fighting the Tiger in public areas because of the ensuing panic and that is enough sacrifice.

   Now that she is improving she wants to equip herself with some of the fetching silk pyjamas as worn by her favourite exponents of the art: Brett and Fontaine. This peerless couple performs with a background of rampant potted plants behind which they occasionally vanish for prolonged periods. During this interval, Doc Barbara invents some exercises, the best of which she has called: The Cocker Spaniel Raises One Paw a Little which Tesco has allowed her to demonstrate in their wider aisles. Less successful was: The Centipede Lifts All its Legs Simultaneously which resulted in her immediate expulsion from Sainsbury's.

  Where, you may ask, is Belinda Twaddle, her intrepid helper? When asked to accompany Doc Barbara to Waitrose to spread the word and her White Crane's Wings, Belinda decided that she would go in search of some vibrant silk pyjamas instead. Once again we fear she has gone off piste in her enthusiasm. We phoned Doc Barbara to ask her to come to the editor's office for an interview but she declined temporarily, explaining that she had both legs entwined inextricably whilst performing The Snake Creeps Low (she thinks she may have crept a tad too low and also conflated it with another posture - Beautiful Woman Crosses her Ankles Twice) but she promised to work on the issue by our next issue [My word hoard is depleted by mental overload: Ed].

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Doc Barbara buys a soup maker

  As readers of our newspaper The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece whose motto is: "All the news whether fit to print or not" - [There is not much of either round here: Ed.] are aware, Doc Barbara upholds old-fashioned values such as frugality, integrity and thick tights. At least she tries to uphold her tights but, as habits of frugality prevail, they are rather antiquated and loose and are now succumbing to the forces of gravity.
   However, she has a penchant (she would not call it that, having a tendency to xenophobia) for gadgets and followers will recall her fabulous exploits with her Whatsit - or, more precisely, her Nositwhatnot. Last week she bought a soup maker, reading that you can throw wholesome vegetables and stock into this wondrous machine, press the button and go out to exploit. [I think this word has a different meaning as a verb: Ed.]
   Bob Twaddle, our eternally cub reporter, [Grrrrr - Ed.] came round to photograph [His expensive course with his new camera has done him a fat lot of good: Ed.] and they were to meet Bob's sister, Belinda the trainee, at the bus stop once the machine was switched on.
   Doc Barbara, methodical as always, had assembled all the ingredients, one of which was coconut milk. She was suspicious of this product because of an antipathy to tins and its high price but she ascribed the latter to the costs of paying the farmers for the difficult and lengthy process of milking their coconuts. In went all the healthy vegetables [Did she check they were all healthy? Ed] but here the couple caused a hitch in the proceedings. They became so spellbound and intrigued by the workings of the soup maker and lulled by the soothingly contented sounds it made as it did its fascinating and important tasks that they sat watching it and forgot their arrangement with Belinda.
   Meanwhile, the poor girl had been growing increasingly anxious and had gone looking high and low for her friend and mentor - mostly high because of Doc Barbara's fateful love of climbing up unsuitable and unstable structures.
    You can see from this image how optimistic she remains in the face of insuperable odds [Doc Barbara IS an insuperable odd - Ed.]

Finally she decided to go to Doc Barbara's humble abode to use her telephone to warn the police [Belinda constantly forgets to charge her mobile as her mind is on higher (!) things - Ed] . She was somewhat taken aback to find her brother and heroine fixated on the soup maker and discussing the various episodes in the drama of creating their pumpkin concoction, agreeing that the penultimate pulse had them on the edge of their seats. All were reunited in harmony as they consumed it, issuing unrestrained grunts of pleasure and satisfaction. [Yet again, complaints from the neighbours - Ed.] Doc Barbara will now be influenced solely by the colours of the ingredients (she believes that red and orange peppers followed by green would give a startling traffic light effect at one point if she watches carefully enough) and their capacity for producing captivating noises off. As she opined: "If you can't stand the heat, buy a pig in a poke".

To read about Doc Barbara's Whatsit click here. Other adventures may be found by using the search button for worms or linguistic mission - not in the same blog post.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Doc Barbara admits error

   Happy New Year to all readers of The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece and particularly to those who follow the fabulous exploits of Doc Barbara so faithfully despite all.
  Doc Barbara is an early riser but she does like to tune in to On The Farm on BBC 4  before getting up to one of her intrepid adventures. Last week she was - somewhat drowsily - listening to this refreshing emission when she heard the farmer say that he was about to clean his cows' teeth and the cheery presenter reply that the mixture had a delightful peppermint smell. Doc Barbara is well aware of modern methods in the countryside but had never realised that bovine dental hygiene was an aim. However, since she is in the middle of a dedicated project of teaching animals to talk, she thought that assisting in this work with neighbouring cows would bond her to the animals and help them chew the cud. [No-one better qualified for that! Ed] She leaped from her bed in mid-programme and set off our young assistant journalist.

 It had to be admitted that the animals seemed to lack enthusiasm for the idea as they presented Doc Barbara with distant but unaesthetic parts of their anatomy. She appealed to Belinda Twaddle for help, quite forgetting that she is a city girl and apt to confuse flora and fauna if over-stretched in her capacities.

    Rarely are our two heroines stumped in their endeavours but, on this occasion, it seemed a good idea to return home and listen again to the programme to see if there were any tips they could follow. Reluctantly packing away the electric toothbrushes, floss, paste for sensitive teeth and interdental tapes, they trudged back consoling each other with epic tales about past successes much as ancient warriors were prone to do in the Anglo-Saxon beer hall but at greater length with less alliteration and more exaggeration.
   Sitting down to iPlayer with mugs of tea and large slices of ginger cake to restore morale, they were somewhat abashed when the farmer stated that his treatment helped to prevent mastitis. Doc Barbara has invested in an ear trumpet which Belinda has agreed to carry on all their next outings.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Doc Barbara loses her new whatsit

Happy Christmas to the followers of The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece
   Some time ago - our dedicated readers will recall - Doc Barbara invented a nositwhatsit, a ribbon that fixed a pin to the wearer's posterior and induced she or he to keep walking rather than lounging and therefore perform the daily number of steps required to maintain a healthy heart.
   Since Doc Barbara has a weakness for Christmas cake and pudding with immense helpings of brandy butter (the size of the photo indicates her appetite for these delicacies and the figurine is agog in admiration) ..

He does need a trip to the optician however

she invested in a more sophisticated device which clips inside the bra or on a waistband and counts the number of steps taken - she is not prepared to show it because of her dislike of advertising. She attached this gadget inside her substantial underwear and went for a ten-mile walk. On her return the new whatsit was missing. With a heavy heart (though a healthy one) she retraced her steps gazing at the ground as she did so and apologising distractedly to the many pedestrians she knocked down and dog owners over whose leads she tripped. She was so engrossed that she said "Sorry" to 5 lampposts, one with a dog ... [Censored: Ed}.
   To no avail.  She asked Belinda Twaddle to go in search as she was expiring with exhaustion and perspiring with [We don't wish to know that: Ed.] ...  and this obliging girl did find a small and unusual object. The two of them decided it was not the original whatsit although they confused the issue by discussing what that whatsit was if not THE whatsit. To their astonishment the app on Doc Barbara's phone showed the extra mileage and the 2 of them deduced with Holmes-like rapidity that the true whatsit was still on Doc Barbara's ample person.

Thumbs up for Belinda's finding something. On this newspaper we reward endeavour not achievement. [It shows: Ed.]
  Together they decided that Doc Barbara first take off her jacket, do 100 steps and check. Hurrah - they were recorded.  She then removed her skirt: ditto. Her cardigan: the same; Her jumper: similar. Now the underskirt: phenomenon repeated.  Tights; result once again. Identical with thermal body layer. As Doc Barbara stood in her scarlet vest and interlock knickers Belinda fainted from the endeavour and - in putting her into the recovery position - [Can one ever recover from that? Ed.] - Doc Barbara's whatsit fell out of her capacious camisole.
   The pair decided to desist from further walking and refresh themselves but the ferocious and disapproving squint on the face of Father Christmas was more than they could face after their ordeal and so ...

... toodle-pip to another whatsit.


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Doc Barbara's new linguistic mission

  Doc Barbara is always on the alert for a new enterprise that will present a challenge for her many skills but also aid humanity or the animal world.
   She has recently embarked on such a quest: to teach a species the power of speech. The first step was to decide which language to instruct and, because of her innate patriotism, it had to be English. She also felt that British-reared creatures would be accustomed to the sounds of the native tongue and might take fright at the sudden introduction of a French subjunctive as do all school children. It is, after all, a relatively recent phenomenon, being one of William's many cruel impositions on the natives when he conquered us 950 years ago.
   The next step was to choose a species: her first option was the horse because she wanted to attract the attention of whole groups so that numbers of mammalian  linguists could benefit simultaneously. She commenced with a whinnying sound such as she makes involuntarily when she spots a large piece of lemon drizzle cake in a cafĂ© to consume with her mug of Mocha. [She has been banned from one patisserie: Ed]

   As you can see from the photo above, the horses initially responded well to her vocalisations but, once they realised she did not have a pocketful of equine delicacies, they resumed their grazing.
   Doc Barbara persevered and used the shouts that she felt they would recognise such as "Whoa there" but the resultant traffic jam caused her to desist. The policeman who appeared was unconvinced by her explanation and opined that some things were better left as they were. This is NOT Doc Barbara's philosophy: she feels the world is her oyster to be opened and consumed with relish, by choice piri-piri - [possibly this metaphor is getting out of hand: Ed] Yet, as she frequently states: "Every dog has its own trumpet."

   Help is always nearby as she can call upon our intern, Belinda Twaddle, for support and assistance in her hour of need. Belinda has taken the slogan: "Keep calm and carry on" to heart but finds the first clause too tricky for her excitable and impulsive nature. Asked which species would be more amenable to language acquisition, she spent many hours of research and came up with an answer.

  Belinda asserts that she has induced intriguing and meaningful noises from this hippo in response to her philosophical observations (in particular, it grunted the word "mud" when asked what is the meaning of life) and the two indomitable women are set to carry on. [They really do carry on: Ed]  More research is needed, since, as Doc Barbara also points out: "Buying a pig in a haystack is the thief of time." We will keep our loyal readers informed; unlike some, we are not averse to giving a running commentary.

To read about Doc Barbara's other animal exploits such as her worm-training programme, click here. Ditto her campaign to encourage frogs to mate vigorously and frequently.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Doc Barbara and the Exploding Porridge

   Doc Barbara, without being a health fanatic, always pays due attention to her diet and exercise regimes. Recently she decided to alter her morning repast and bought a microwave oven to make nutritious porridge swiftly and easily.
   She took great care to stand back from the appliance whilst it did its important work as she has never quite rid herself of her anxiety about the direction of its waves: if they were to stray outwards, they might mistakenly cook her liver. In addition, she hid under the table exactly as she recalls doing in the War during a bombing raid and felt much safer there.
   When questioned she opined: "There is no such thing as a free omelette." Her erudite wisdom is a lesson to us all.

    However, on the first occasion, she was dismayed to find that the porridge had exploded out of its special container. This disaster confirmed her worst fears about microwaves and she once more retreated under the table to consult the Internet and Belinda Twaddle by phone about the best course of action.

  Firstly, she typed "Exploding Porridge" into the search engine and was agreeably surprised to see that expert help was immediately to hand.

    However, she had some considerable difficulty in interpreting the equation on the board with respect to her prospective breakfast but, with extreme good fortune, Belinda arrived at that moment of quandary, persuaded her to emerge from under the table and gave her the rational and scientific explanation, the fruits of her hasty research.

    Belinda had spent the brief interim contemplating porridge-like locations and had concluded, putting together all the evidence, that what is crucial to the enterprise is the RELATIVE amounts of oats and water. She and Doc Barbara tried again according to the suggested mathematics and the result was perfect - a delightful bowl of the precious substance upon which could be sprinkled cranberries to taste. As Doc Barbara summarised: "You can't step into the same river twice with a sow's ear."

Monday, 25 July 2016

Doc Barbara rejoices at Belinda's success

Prof. Ramsbottom-Thrutch is knocked emotion
  Our regular devoted followers of Doc Barbara's adventures will be acutely and sorrowfully aware that her friend, Professor Ramsbottom-Thrutch (who came to write a sociological study of her unique case) had been prone to semi-paralysing bouts of emotion. Even though social scientists should be detached from their topic, he would well up copiously when lecturing on Roman burial practices if the deceased were under 60 - or diseased.
   Clearly something had to be done and his sojourn with us at our newspaper office has done much to restore his equilibrium. Yet Belinda Twaddle decided that she could help even more.

Her solution

  Here we see her offering the Prof. a variant of immersion therapy whereby he could observe a mock burial which turned out for the best. Shortly after our cub reporter took this shot (relief all round that he didn't inter himself as well as he is not the shiniest pebble on the beach) she jumped up, since she was only lightly covered with sand, danced with joy and encouraged the Prof. to join her merriment. This he did and their joyful ritual of renewal was noted by a small but rapidly growing crowd of bemused holidaymakers.

The next step
  She then took him to a museum where she instructed him to gaze at relics of Roman burials for 2 hours until he became inured: this was so amazingly efficacious that she had difficulty dissuading him from opening the sarcophagus and entombing himself. He explained that he had misheard and thought she said "immured." (We wonder in our darker moments if he simply became so bored that he lost the will to live let alone expatiate on funeral rites in the Ancient World.)

The result
   All doubts and fears were thus put to rest (R.I.P. Anxiety) and we held a celebratory party to mark the occasion: Professor Ramsbottom-Thrutch can now return to his university post and hold forth with dry-eyed vigour on any subject, no matter how potentially distressing. The party went rather too well but we are all feeling better now. We know that he will visit us in the future and continue his valuable research into the Doc Barbara Phenomenon.

"Look, I am Pluto," cried the Prof. "Or do I mean Neptune. Who cares?"