Sunday, 25 April 2010


The economy's in a shambles, as is the airline industry (we can blame Iceland for both), as is my study (should I blame Iceland for that? O, go on then.) My kitchen cupboards have been tidier - all right, they're also in a shambles. I'll skirt over the state of my sock drawer (shambles) and knicker drawer (drawers' drawer?) Do I really need to spell it out? S.H.A.M.B.L.E.S.

And guess where I was yesterday? In The Shambles - in fact, due to the crowds of people who hadn't gone to the Harrogate Flower Show, I was shambling in The Shambles - looking at the shrine of Margaret of Clitherow who was pressed to death for her faith and not buying fudge. To clarify: Margaret wasn't pressed to death for not buying fudge. I wasn't buying fudge - which was difficult as every other shop in The Shambles sold it. (I won't tell you what the shops in Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate sold.)

I apologise if you think I'm being irreverent about Margaret. In my defence, it is as nothing compared to what the junior bugs in the Foreign Office have said about the Pope recently.

Yesterday, someone told me that in ages past, The Shambles were populated with slaughtermen and butchershops: shambles were the innards of butchered beasts which tumbled bloodily onto the street and made a mess - or a right shambles. However, research suggests that a shamble was the table or bench the beast was butchered on. No matter, shambles has come to mean mess and muddle, clutter, ruin or a scene of bloodshed, carnage and great devastation.

Perhaps because the airplanes were grounded and the airline industry propelled into complete shambles, we were saved - quite literally - from complete shambles.


  1. Can I blame Iceland for the state of my study, too, please?

    Why haven't you got more followers? Go, fetch.

  2. I love the word shambolic - so much more satisfying than shamblish, shambling, shamblacious.
    This post reminds me that I once had a pig's ear at a tapas place in Madrid. It certainly explained where THAT expression came from.

  3. Did you go to the Railway Museum? You might have seen Skimbleshanks.

    There seems to be a prurient sort of video nasty interest in Margaret Clitherow. As far as I recall she was killed for putting up priests -- as if putting up priests wasn't enough of a punishment in itself. Don't get me started on priest holes.

  4. Fran - we can blame Iceland for everything at the mo'.

    Bébé - as you know, we are rather good at organising shambolic competitive poetry slams (which are somewhat light on the competitive aspect).

    Anon - no trains, just shamboling and the Minster. The enormous organ was in full swing, which was lovely.

  5. Oh! I just got why you've taken to calling me Bébé - it's the BB of Broken Biro isn't it? I thought you were being affectionate.

    Gosh - that penny dropped so slowly it was like gravity had ceased to function for a while there, eh?