Thursday, 3 August 2017

Imperial Measurement

   From the depths of his copy of 'The Lancet' Chapman sighed emphatically and declared, 'The scientific world is plagued with sesquipedalia'.

   'You mean it persists in using long words when short words would do? How tedious', said Keats.

   Chapman pointed to an article in the magazine, 'It says here that a man, apparently ignorant of medical terminology, consulted a chiropodist rather than a urologist regarding a physical abnormality. Not knowing how to properly describe his affliction the man promptly revealed proof of his troublesome macrophallia. With astonishing insensitivity the consultant said, “But that's not a foot”, to which the hapless patient replied, “No, but it's a good eleven inches”. The poor fella; not only deformed, but humiliated'.

   'A misunderstanding that would not have occurred under the metric system', observed Keats in an effort to take his friend's mind off the injustice of it all.

   'That's true, he would have been referred to the appropriate specialist immediately'.

   'A shrink, presumably', said Keats.

   Chapman chortled, relieved that they'd managed to salvage at least a modicum of humour from such a distressing case of penile hypertrophy.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Literally Criticism

   Keats and Chapman were discussing the relative merits of various American short story writers. Seeing as they had both expressed admiration for Raymond Carver Chapman was surprised to hear his friend's impassioned condemnation of John Cheever. At the end of a lengthy tirade Keats declared, 'Cheever was a workaholic whose prodigious output took a toll on the quality of his writing. Take 'The Swimmer' for instance, I would rather read a... a...' he searched for the most tedious publication he could imagine, 'an accountancy manual'.

'So you're talking about a textbook over a Cheever', suggested Chapman, pleased with himself.

'I sometimes think you're only in this for the jokes', snapped Keats.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Golden Arches

   Keats and Chapman nursed their respective hangovers in the unforgiving glare of a McDonald's. They sat in silence, occasionally stealing glances at headlines in a neighbour's Irish Independent whose health supplement bemoaned the country's medical problems. When their order arrived and their fellow diner had lumbered away they fell to discussing, between gulps of Coca-cola and gobbets of Quarter Pounders with Cheese, diabetes mellitus.
   'It's a terrible affliction, Chapman. Scourge of the modern world'.
   'Nice name though', reflected Keats as his head began to clear.
   Chapman looked up from the discarded lettuce in his cardboard tray, 'You think? Doesn't 'diabetes' simply mean 'to pass through'? It can make you piss like a fire-hose'.
   'I was referring to its full name' replied Keats, somewhat testily. 'Mellitus' stems from 'honey-like'. It was an Englishman, Thomas Willis, that first applied it to diabetes - he tasted a patient's urine and found it sweet. His bold dégustation contributed greatly to our understanding of the disease'.
   'I suppose scientists often draw conclusions using a process of elimination', observed Chapman, before hurrying to the jacks.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Cheap Echomimesis

In an attempt to stay on the dry Keats and Chapman had spent the evening writing traditional verse into which they sought to incorporate the names of Japanese poetic forms. They read aloud their compositions, but found them disappointing and as a result the two friends were becoming irritable. Their self-enforced sobriety wasn't helping.

It was late when Keats put down his pen, cleared his throat and intoned,
'From a lofty bough
The dove bested the poet
With its own haiku'

Chapman frowned and said, 'Not bad, but the humour's a little heavy-handed'

'Unlike your use of 'tanka' in a limerick?', enquired Keats as they simultaneously reached for the Bushmills.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


   Keats and Chapman were keen birdwatchers. Furthermore, they prided themselves on their taxonomic acuity when it came to the class Aves and rarely missed an opportunity to flaunt their knowledge. Such opportunities were limited, however, as no one else solicited their often colourless explanations.
   Once, when they were plodding through the wetlands of Patagonia, their boots caked with mud, and discussing whether the name of the region really was derived from 'those of big feet', Keats spotted a large white bird swimming gracefully in the distance. Squinting through his monocular he pronounced with satisfaction, ' Coscoroba Swan'.
   'Coscoroba coscoroba',' confirmed Chapman resheathing his telescope, 'an interesting case; known as a swan, but bearing many characteristics of a goose'.
   Keats wondered aloud how his friend would categorize such an atypical waterfowl.
   'I would say it's a swan goose'.
   'What kind of an Anser is that?' asked Keats, confusingly.

Friday, 1 April 2016


As I knelt,
Gathering dust,
A harvestman drifted by,
Its transient presence,
The familiar question,
Its apparition,
An answer.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015


When calling by to see Chapman one afternoon Keats was surprised to find his friend in bed and looking forlorn. Various tablets whose packaging claimed they were good for the health were strewn around the room.

'What ails you, Chapman?'

'Difficult to say. I'd describe it as a sort of existential despair, though there must be a more exact term... '

Keats thought for a moment, 'Would taedium vitae fit the bill?'


'How about ennui?'

'No, more acute than that. Could you pass me those vitamin pills?'


'Nah, dem two over dere', replied Chapman, betraying a certain return to form.