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?"

Monday, 6 June 2016

Belinda Twaddle goes further North

  Here we see Belinda in a rare but temporary mood of dejection after her first attempts to dissuade hermaphroditic Northern slugs from mating with themselves. She ventured North of Wigan to use her method of playing Mozart arias from Cosi Fan Tutte, which of course means "Thus do all women", but the male section of each slug failed to be discouraged by mockery. Once such a slug has caught sight of its own tail it is overcome with passion for what it calls its "better half" and loses all self-restraint. Professor Ramsbottom-Thrutch was so moved by the picture of her looking touchingly small and downcast up her sloth tree that, after a brief burst of loud but manly weeping, he put back his linen handkerchief, took out his map and plotted an itinerary and master plan for her.

   His idea was that she should continue with the musical anti-sex therapy but, instead, use Don Giovanni to make the masculine parts of slugs feel they are mere Lotharios who will come to a sticky end. [I thought that was where the problem began: Ed.] In addition he enlisted - as well as slug wardens - teams of runners to take the latest news to the headquarters of the A.S.S. (anti-slug-sex) project. This system is working magnificently beyond all expectation. Northern slugs are now as celibate as the rest of the country. [The tensions in this office get through to us all: Ed]

   Naturally Doc Barbara is delighted: "Half a slug is better than a bun in the oven", she opined.
The co-ordinator of the A.S.S. project is pleased to receive the bulletins of progress.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Doc Barbara cheers Belinda Twaddle

   Firstly let me, as Editor, apologise for the asides which crept into our last article about Doc Barbara. The Chief Reporter has a new mobile device with something on it that he seems to refer to as Piri-Piri which picks up his voice and everyone's inner thoughts (although it is possible I mutter aloud when particularly frustrated). He refuses to turn it off and so I suppose we will all have to adjust. Professor Ramsbottom-Thrutch will find particular difficulty as he is prone to voice his sorrow at deeply emotional moments to avoid fits of weeping. Sometimes life on a provincial newspaper can be acutely stressful.

   Yet the good news is that we have now returned Belinda Twaddle to her normal vertical posture by explaining that there is a difference between a sloth and a slug. You will recall that she offered to assist in the attempt to prevent slug proliferation South of Wigan. We are delighted to report phenomenal success here with most slugs persuaded by peaceful means to refrain from sexual activity even after the long wet winter. Belinda heroically established a network of anti-slug-sex (A.S.S.) wardens equipped with the special apparatus she is wearing here. Her brother Bob is holding his back in agony after bending to communicate with too many slugs. [Hoist with his own trumpet, poor man: Doc Barbara]

   She found that slugs respond to music and so played them arias from Cosi Fan Tutte, thus making the females feel that their romantic activities were commonplace and vulgar. These extracts could be whistled if the wardens forgot their gadgets or can be relayed from wires such as Belinda carries with her on her helmet at all times. The opera has had the added bonus of lightening our Professor's mood: he has been seen to smile and even chortle on occasions. Belinda will soon dare to speak to him about Roman burials.

A female slug after  listening to Mozart. 
   The slugs then give up all sensations of passion and retreat to their [Where DO they live? Ed] homes in pensive but celibate mood. [I feel an outburst of racking sobs coming upon me. Professor R-T] This method has produced success everywhere but in Yorkshire. [You can tell a Yorkshire slug anywhere but you can't tell it much. Ed]
   Doc Barbara, when informed, opined, "He who laughs last has a bird in th'hand." [Clearly the mention of Yorkshire has unsettled her. Ed]

A slug warden after an exhausting spell of duty with his wired apparatus in the blue bag.
   Belinda has now decided that the enterprise can be taken beyond Wigan to the recalcitrant Northern hermaphroditic slugs. Her public-spirited determination knows no bounds. [Worse luck. When can we get back to reporting the doings of the W.U.G? and their weekly acrimonious meetings? Ed]

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Belinda Twaddle to help Doc Barbara's slug mission

   Doc Barbara has reconsidered her mission to curb the slug proliferation which has occurred after our unusually mild winter. She realised that there is little hope North of Wigan: it is virtually impossible to prevent a hermaphroditic slug from mating with itself once it has fallen in love. Her poem on geographical variations in slug libido is scientifically accurate as well as deeply emotive.

  She decided to concentrate her efforts South of that latitude and try to persuade these gastropods to contain themselves, or not as the case may be - if you see what we mean. Professor Ramsbottom-Thrutch is delighted as this is his native area and he feels at one with natural creatures in Lancashire. [All this unity is getting complex and a little unseemly: Ed]

  The difficult starting point was to find slugs with which/whom to start the anti-sex propaganda but Bob Twaddle said his sister, Belinda, would be thrilled to assist. Here she is helping out.

  We did wonder why she is in this posture and eventually found the explanation. She is energetic and devoted to whatever enterprise she undertakes but, as we saw previously, tends to lose focus. One of her prime intellectual interests is philology and Bob had told her that the words "slug" and "sloth" were connected in Proto-Indo-European because of their shared sense of torpitude. [I myself am beginning to lose the will to move: Ed]

   It is amazing that Bob uttered these words since he has a phobia about polysyllables, made all the worse when he recently discovered that his parents nearly named his sister Roberta, whereas he has to make do with one phoneme. [Such psychological neuroses bedevil the office of The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece and now we have an acrobat as well: Ed]  Belinda therefore took it upon herself to imitate a sloth in her inimitable enthusiastic manner in order to form bonds with the creatures [Here we go again! Can no-one round here stay single? Ed] It may take a while for her to work her way down from Lancashire.

    When told of these developments, Doc Barbara was pleased with our speedy response: "Procrastination is the thief of jam tomorrow," she opined. Although we may seem to have diverged from our original target (and some of you may be irately contemplating slug damage in your garden at this moment) we can assure you that the matter is in hand and Belinda will soon be coming to a tree near you.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Doc Barbara on the Lancashire slug



Doc Barbara

                                                     Through Wigan runs a great divide:
                                                     The slugs down on the Southern side
                                                     Are subject (as indeed are we)
                                                     To unrequited misery 
                                                     If they can't find a loving mate.
                                                     In this pathetic, lonely state
                                                     The slug is low in self-esteem
                                                     And takes the single life to mean
                                                     It has no charm, no winning grace
                                                     No wit, charisma, no real place
                                                     Within another's heart. And yet
                                                     Above that latitude, slugs get
                                                     Erotic satisfaction, joy.

                                                    A slug is born both girl and boy:
                                                    So sturdy Northern common sense
                                                    Finds in self-love, true recompense.
                                                    It reasons thus: hermaphrodites
                                                    Need never suffer from the blights
                                                    Of jealousy, rejection, scorn.
                                                    It's foolish to remain lovelorn:
                                                    There's someone here who thinks I'm great,
                                                    Who will, always, reciprocate
                                                    My passion.  Life will be complete
                                                    If only we can make ends meet.

This poetic perception (so mellifluously expressed in our opinion) has given its author cause for soul searching as the inspiration of the Muse led to approval of slug sexuality in all its forms whereas she had been trying to moderate it. Our heroine will ponder further.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Doc Barbara and the proliferating slug

   Our visiting learned Professor, Ramsbottom-Thrutch, showed great astonishment when we told him about Doc Barbara's latest proposed exploit and was puzzled as to how he, a sociologist, could shed light on it. She has read in the papers that the mild, wet winter has caused slugs to stay awake and breed profusely.

   Doc Barbara is a believer in Nature and its harmonious ways but felt that perhaps this was a moment needing human intervention and is determined to quell their libido and return it to its usual sluggish state. The Professor finally concluded that this is an ethnoecological reaction to a sense of threat and asked us to send out Bob Twaddle, our cub reporter, to take pictures of our heroine with the aforesaid gastropod mollusc.

   Bob was traumatised by so many polysyllables (he has never recovered from finding out that he was originally named monosyllabic Bob not Robert and has suffered from a feeling of deprivation ever since). He in turn asked if his sister Belinda could help, claiming that she is a cheerful, extrovert girl, whose only fault is a tendency to lose focus.

   This is the resulting image where we think she took the necessity to maintain focus too literally whilst becaming distracted from her main purpose in its metaphorical meaning. The Professor will investigate this phenomenon also and we will try to obtain a photograph of a slug.  (Sometimes the effort of running a local newspaper is too onerous for me. Ed.).

   We even suggested to Doc Barbara that she abandon her mission but she replied pacifically, " You can't teach your grandmother to let sleeping dogs lie" and reminded us of her poetic outburst about the sexuality of the slugs North of Wigan which we reprint elsewhere.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Professor's first finding

   Professor Ramsbottom-Thrutch (sociologist) is a cautious and scholarly man and so, before investigating the Doc Barbara phenomenon in full, he decided to consult a renowned colleague in the psychology department to delve more deeply into the inner make-up of our heroine (we all know she never wears outer make-up).  

  The psychologist reported the outcome of his tests to her and then we heard nothing. Finally, she rushed into the office of The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece several days later to tell us the result. She caught us all by surprise and so everyone was present.

   "He says I have too much super-ego, a normal ego but too little squid," she declaimed. "I have been all over Europe to track down squid or even octopus, wondering if it was such a creature commemorated for its importance in a stained glass window in France - but I eventually found some in Brixton market." It appears she ate enormous quantities before sensing that her internal mental mechanisms were unaffected - although other systems suffered.  We advised more cake in lieu.

   Our chief reporter, a man of wide learning, usually unaccountably absent when she is our topic, explained to her what he thought was the error. The picture below shows the delight of both Doc Barbara and the Professor of Sociology at the happy ending of this fabulous exploit (although he appears to be holding her back in fear that she might leap into the lake in search of more piscine delicacies. She does have a squid - sorry id - tendency to dive into water). "I thought quite early on I should have told the psychologist to stop bleating about the bush," she  opined merrily as she left. Her creative way with old sayings is proverbial.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Renowned Professor to Research Doc Barbara Phenomenon

   The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece is delighted to have received a request from a learned and globally respected Professor of Sociology. He asks if he might become Honorary Official Temporary Academic In Residence (H.O.T.A.I.R) in our town so that he can undertake vitally important research. Central to his investigation will be the Doc Barbara syndrome of attracting a large band of devoted followers, known to all generically as the DocSoc.

  The Professor is a deeply emotional man who was forced to abandon his study of Roman burial practices because he all too frequently burst into copious tears at the very thought of anyone dying. He then turned his attention to what he believed would be a happier topic: gift-giving rituals in South West Lancashire. However, he was profoundly disturbed to discover only two such and miserably concluded that generosity is not a predominant characteristic of the natives of that area. We are grateful to him and to his university of Much-Mickling-in-the-Mire for his interest in our heroine, now that she has been found safe and well.

   Yet again we were obliged to trust the initial interview with Professor Ramsbottom-Thrutch to our cub reporter, Bob Twaddle but, since his flimsy grasp of grammar and punctuation deserted him in an attack of stage fright, we are publishing the dialogue verbatim from his tape-recorder.

B.T: Welcome to ... Where are we? I can't remember!
R-T: I never know where I am - I am too vague yet important for such details.
B.T: How do you propose to conduct your study? [relief all round at Head Office that he managed a coherent question]
R-T. I shall deviate between the Frankfurt Critical Method and a Subconventional Matrix, more commonly referred to as S.M.
B.T. What drew you to this topic? [More relief]
R-T: When I heard she was missing I was overwhelmed with grief, such as I was at the passing of the late lamented P....  [Here the poor man was overcome with sobs and the interview had to be concluded]

   Our cub reporter did send a photograph of the Professor, however, though aspects of it puzzle us. The bowed head of Bob Twaddle shows his paralysing respect for the venerable gentleman.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Doc Barbara found at last

   Some of the  members of staff of The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece were sitting in the office we share with the The Brynbuga Beagle, reminiscing sadly about Doc Barbara and the more memorable exploits she achieved before her mystery disappearance. We discussed our attempts to find her and her epic history. One reporter recalled the time she was nearly arrested and another remembered vividly her concern when the frogs in her pond first refused to mate. And then there was her heroism in Paris ... Her imaginative mixed metaphors came to mind, in particular, the one that best sums her up: "I always bite the bull by the horns."

  At that moment our cub reporter came in, pale with excitement - at least that is what we had to assume as he is always rendered virtually paralysed and completely incapable of utterance when overcome by powerful emotion. After many cups of strong coffee he managed to explain that a significant clue had been found which led to her whereabouts:

   This discovery of her sandals, abandoned by the side of the bath in Bath, helped our Mr Twaddle, in one of his rare outbreaks of common sense, to find her and, after several more coffees, he explained that she had tried to help a slave girl, seated nearby with a tray of make-up for her mistress. As Doc Barbara disapproves of servitude and cosmetics, though in unequal measure, since she regards make-up as a sub-section of slavery, she attempted to assist the girl to freedom but she was content with her life and refused. Perhaps she secretly likes using the various pots and potions. Doc Barbara spent many days in this endeavour, consuming one of the ample teas in the Pump Room every day (sometimes twice) before waddling home - to our immense joy.

   When we told Doc Barbara how devastated all her followers had been during her absence, she replied with an enigmatic smile: "No use crying till the fat lady sings." Such wisdom!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Search for Doc Barbara

   Here we see the detective branch of the local W.U.G. (Women's Undomesticated Group) examining the waters in Bath for any clue to Doc Barbara's whereabouts since her mysterious disappearance several days ago. When they met with no success, they alerted other bodies [unfortunate choice of words perhaps: Ed.] to search, including their sons, who are tough and persistent characters - they have had to be since their mothers are so entirely devoid of culinary or any other household accomplishments. One thought the bicycle pictured bottom right might be hers but it did look rather small even for her modest requirements.

   More worrying was this possible sighting photographed below, although the leader of the W.U.G is certain that Doc Barbara does not ride in this cavalier posture but always leans forwards alertly over her handlebars.

   We appeal to all our readers, even our rivals at The Brynbuga Beagle, to watch closely and report any information which might lead to her.

   Footnote from the Editor of The Brynbuga Beagle: Indeed we will assist in any way we can and are quite (two possible meanings there) wretched at the thought she might have come to harm. In fact we have reconsidered our scepticism and are sorry we ever doubted the fabulousness of some of her exploits. We admire her devotion to wildlife as seen in her globally acknowledged worm-training programme and her artistic efforts must be applauded in their ambition. We want her back amongst us if only to calm referendum fever as she did for the last general election.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Doc Barbara's Sensational Disappearance

   We at The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece are deeply concerned to learn that Doc Barbara has not been sighted recently, so much so that we actually sent our cub reporter to investigate, since there was no-one else available. In one of his rare episodes of efficiency, he tracked her last known movements to Bath Spa and forwarded these photos: the collage shows her arrival in the famous and elegant Pump Room where all is quiet (bottom right) until one guest (top photo) notices her arrival and alerts the orchestra who begin to play: "Hail the conquering hero comes" - note the modern tendency to de-genderisation.

   Doc Barbara then consumed all the items on the three-tier stand (she has admitted to a tendency to gluttony) holding out her little finger in genteel fashion as she drank her tea since she had already practised the appropriate aristocratic behaviour for her meeting with Prince Charles.

   After that, looking noticeably plumper, she went to visit the famous Roman baths where she was seen preparing to immerse herself in the atmosphere for a fuller experience.

   This is the last our cub reporter saw of her and we are now sending him on a training course entitled; "When is it acceptable for a peacetime photographer to intervene."
Editor's note: It was only when we came to filling out the application form that he revealed his first name. Until now we have always called him by his surname, Mr Twaddle, unaccountably pronounced with a short "a" as in "cat", but now we can more happily refer to him as Bob.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Doc Barbara moves up the Chain of Being

   Readers will have noted Doc Barbara's interest in invertebrates (in her worm-training programme which was hugely successful) and amphibians (in her encouragement to male frogs to perform their natural functions this spring which inexplicably failed to achieve its aims, despite help from the W.U.G) and may have wondered why she does not engage with other species.

   She is well aware that the higher animals come close to humanity in the great Chain of Being and has always been deterred from any dealing with monkeys or apes since the phrase "group of primates" always brings to her mind unwanted images of bishops in conclave (somewhat unfortunately the reverse is also the case).  However, on her recent travels, she encountered scenes of distress which she felt necessitated her help. When she saw two sheep in a muddy field, cold and wet with their wool bedraggled, she bought them substantial raincoats, intended for larger dogs and was relieved to see them much happier as a result.

   She then observed two bears struggling to carry a heavy bench - back-breaking work - and ran to ask six sturdy male passers-by for their assistance. After several minutes of bewildered consultation, they obliged and all is now well.

   Yet, did our heroine rest? She may have relaxed physically after her exertions but her mind remained active attempting to answer the existentialist questions; "Why do sheep always behave like sheep?" and: "If there are two bears in a garden does that make it a bear garden?" Truly, Doc Barbara spares herself nothing to promote public benefit.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Doc Barbara Keeps Up

   We at The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece admit that Doc Barbara has a general tendency to be retrospective, a trait that our rival reporters in The Brynbuga Beagle mention frequently with a tone we can only describe as gloating.

   We are therefore delighted to record her latest venture which is keeping pace with the bluest sky thinking in media circles. She has recently heard of the concept of genre mashing and considers this an excellent notion, combining the best in all forms of entertainment. Never one to think without action (though some feels she acts without thinking) she is now preparing to film a video entitled: "Bleak Expectations of the Zombies."

   This will be released on YouTube as soon as she can find actors willing to participate since some celebrities have inexplicably declined. She will next approach the W.U.G. (Women's Undomesticated Group) for their help despite the fact that they refuse to wear make-up. Unkind locals have commented that they will not need it in this instance.

   Here is Doc Barbara's mock-up of a possible scene but both participants have withdrawn because of vertigo.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Doc Barbara's Spring Initiative

   At this time of year Doc Barbara experiences a sense of awakening and her brain teems with new ideas. We know our readers will be fascinated by her latest plan and so we sent our cub reporter to her house to hear more. (Our chief man was engaged on a vital investigation into a meticulously planned and daring theft of a small handbag from an unattended supermarket trolley.) 

   Doc Barbara, although not a Feminist since she has a deep suspicion of words ending in "ist", nevertheless wants to promote the cause of women. She would like female gardeners to plant their borders with flowers and shrubs bearing girls' names thus introducing a bond between humans and Nature. Conversely, she would like expectant mothers to consider calling their babies (perhaps not boys, however) by the names of such plants some of which we have pictured here for inspiration: Rose; Rosemary; Holly; Lavender; Daisy; Daffodil; Primrose and Iris for example. We support her in this and with the possibilities of Lilac and even Pyrocantha but we confess to doubts about Nettle, Borage and Blanket-weed.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Doc Barbara's Morning Bewilderment

   When Doc Barbara awoke this morning she was amazed and discombobulated to see this object at the end of her bed. For one moment terror struck our heroine but her habitual sang froid soon reasserted itself. Cold rationality took over and she invoked the example of Sherlock Holmes to give herself courage and to decipher and interpret what she was seeing. 

   Fortunately her eye soon rested on her discarded leotard on a nearby chair and, in a flash of inspiration, she deduced that she had forgotten to remove her Yoga socks the night before. She had been so exhausted with the effort of wrapping her right leg round her left hip and, indeed, recalling which was which, that she had fallen asleep almost immediately. We, of this newspaper, are delighted to report that no severe after shocks have affected her and that she is on course once again for yet more exploits.