Commonplace Book

Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas.

Each commonplace book was unique to its creator's particular interests.

Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective." - From Wikipedia


The central market in Praia, the capital of Cabo Verde islands. February 2014. The drums are used to store stock overnight. The girls were playing at their parents' stall.

Lawrence Rust Hills — Dorothy Parker once remarked to him that his name made her forget all the other New Jersey suburbs.


"Delicts, which must be published in the Church, are grave and external violations against the Catholic faith or moral teaching."


Gethsemane means olive press.


Books are not made out of emotions; they are made, as Mallarmé said, out of words.


The amateur works until he can get it right. The professional works until he cannot go wrong.


Some sources erroneously credit James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, as the narrator. Roscoe Lee Browne once recalled that, early in his career, a director told him that he sounded "white", to which the actor responded, "We had a white maid."


From what we know of the internal affairs of Russia, a revolution seems highly improbable at the moment; but there is a hope of peace – and that is that Providence will do the same in Russia as it did here. - 1946. Antonio de Oliveira Salizar. 1946.


The pirates were passively courageous...(i.e. hung over.)


The Ostrogoths were from the east,

The Visigoths, the west,

But the Goths without a prefix

Are the Goths that I like best.


E. S. Turner had a gift for Betjeman pastiches, such as the one he wrote to greet

the wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, which ends like this . . .


Round the Palace in their thousands, writhing like a bag of eels,

Surge the mums from Penge and Merton, fugitives from Meals on Wheels,

Tugging at the sacred railings, trampling over helpless Japs . . .

Come on Snowdon, Beaton, Lichfield, hurry up and take your snaps!

Here they come . . . the shining sports girl, firm of seat and tart of tongue.

She will do her captain's bidding. Would that I were rich and young!

Now beside its Slumbereezees kneels a nation linked in prayer,

And a star shines over Sandhurst, God knows what it's doing there.


m.v. Wahine. Sunk in  Wellington harbour 10.04.1968. I was amomg the skeleton crew who took her from Greenock to New Zealand in 1966.
m.v. Wahine. Sunk in Wellington harbour 10.04.1968. I was amomg the skeleton crew who took her from Greenock to New Zealand in 1966.

Some like pictures of women and some likes 'orses best,

But I like pictures of ships, by Gum, and you can keep the rest,

And I don't care if it's North or South, the Trades or the China Sea,

Shortened down or everything set, close-hauled or running free;

But paint me a ship as is like a ship and that'll do for me.



Legal Gibberish:

Note the contumax in advert to subvert and the same regardant. Even the plaintiff will admit that plevin would not obtain in the case of recognizance, or, at any rate, in the defection thereof would be docketed as an endorsement pursuant, for that is the very foundation of our law of terce and perinomy. It comes, in plain words, to this: we rely on the terms general, and the reference particular, each interconnected, and certainly maintain that guaranty lies overt. That is my case. -Hilaire Belloc. The Mercy of Allah.


No American has died of old age since 1951. That was the year the government eliminated that classification on death certificates.


The trigger of death, in all cases, is lack of oxygen. Its decline may prompt muscle spasms, or the "agonal phase,"

from the Greek word agon, or contest.


Queen Victoria insisted on being buried with the bathrobe of her husband, Prince Albert, and a plaster cast of his hand.


Eighty percent of people in the United States die in a hospital.


More people commit suicide in New York City than are murdered.


It is estimated that 100 billion people have died since humans began.


From Letters to the Editor: Crisis Magazine

I was delighted to read the Manichaean ramblings of Danel Paden, director of the Catholic Vegetarian Society (“Letters,” June 2003). It confirmed my theory that fanaticism in Western society alternates between nudism and vegetarianism, both of which contradict the order of grace.

As an optimist, I happily trust that Paden confines his extreme commitments to vegetarianism. Taste is one thing; it is another thing to condemn meat eating as “evil” and permissible only “in rare and unfortunate circumstances.” Paden disagrees with no less an authority than God, Who forbids us to call any edible unworthy (Mark 7: 18-19), and Who enjoins St Peter to eat pork chops and lobster in one of my favorite revelations (Acts 10: 9-16). Does the Catholic Vegetarian Society think that our Lord was wrong to have served up fish to the 5,000, or should He have refrained from eating the Passover Lamb? When He rose from the dead and appeared in the Upper Room, He did not ask for a bowl of Cheerios, nor did He whip up a meatless omelette on the shore of Galilee.

Man was made to eat flesh (Genesis 1: 26-31; 9: 1-6), with the exception of human flesh. I stand on record against cannibalism, whether it be inflicted upon the Mbuti Pygmies by the Congolese Army or on larger people by a maniac in Milwaukee. But I am also grateful that the benevolent father in the parable did not welcome his prodigal son home with a bowl of radishes.

Vegetarians assume an unedifying posture of detachment from the sufferings of vegetables that are mashed, stewed, diced, and shredded. In expensive restaurants, cherries are publicly burned in brandy to the applause of diners. It is not uncommon for people to submerge olives in iced gin and twist the peels of lemons. Be indignant, vegetarian, but not so selectively indignant that the bleat of the lamb and the plaintive moo of the cow drown out the whine of our brother the bean and the quiet sigh of the cauliflower.

Vegetables have reactive impulses. Were we to confine our diet to creatures that lacked sense and do not even respond to light, we could only eat Roman Catholic liturgists and liberal Democrats.

The Rev. George W. Rutler

New York City



from INCLINATIONS by Ronald Firbank.


-Rusting in Yorkshire.

-Lethe Incarnate (Name of a perfume.)

-As a man of rare weight once remarked, she was like some radiant milkmaid.

-I am marrying him for his conversation.

-"Few of us are born mellow," she declared.

-One's best work is always unwritten.

-I've an aversion for Covent Garden, I fear. One sits in a blaze of light looking eighty,

or ninety, or a hundred – as the case may be.

-January, Duchess of Dublin, and her Doxy.

- (Miss O'Collins:) "Our coachman once..."

(Miss O'Brookomore:) "No, please - I'm altogether incurious."

-He doesn't tip. He rewards.

-I'm not overfond of flowers. Gardening in the rain was one of our punishments at home.

-The very sight of a wheelbarrow quite upsets me.

-Thank you, I never touch tobacco. A cigarette with me would create a thirst. (or "mist".)

-Poor Kitty, she went to Delphi to consult the Oracle and found it had gone. You can imagine her bitterness.

-Her behaviour's getting Byzantine - more and more.

-The sound of the dinner-gong came dwindling up.

"Oh, the way they beat it!"

Miss O'Brookomore smothered a sigh.

"It might be Ramadan!" she declared.

-"I hate all ingratitude," Miss O'Brookomore observed. "In Biography, of course, one sees so much of it..."

-"Did you ever meet Max Metal?" Miss Dawkins asked.

"No, never."

"Or Nodo Vostry?"

"I don't remember him."

"Or Harry Strai?"

"I'm sure I never did!"


"In my opinion their books for girls are full of unsound advice."

-I was wandering in the Public Gardens amid blown bus tickets and autumn leaves.

-I heard the flowers scream as I picked them.

-The quietness...You can almost hear the clouds go by.

-Take your hat off and really rest.

-Holding a shell-shaped spoon Miss Dawkins explored a sauce boat as though it had been an Orient liner.

-The Farquar of Farquar.

Miss Lampascus.

Miss Elizabeth Cockduck.

-I could never go to Russia; I turn quite green in the snow.



From Amanda McKittrick Ros:


The silver trumpet sounded loud,

The angels shouted ‘Come!’

Then opened wide the Golden Gate

And in walked Mum.

                     -Ode on the Death of her Mother


Holy Moses, take a look!

Brawn and brains in every nook.

                    -Ode on Westminster Abbey.


Cockney Alphabet:

A for horses

B for mutton

C for miles

D for dentures

E for ning standard

F for vessence

G for police

H for consent

I for Vovello

J for oranges

K for teria

L for leather

M for sis

N for lope

O for wings of a dove

P for ming seals

Q for snooker

R for mo

S for midable

T for two

U for mizzam

V for la France

W for quits

X for breakfast

Y for mistress

Z for breezes



Hay for Horses

Beef or mutton

See for miles

Teeth or dentures

Evening Standard


Chief of police

Age for Consent

Ivor Novello

Jaffa oranges


Hell for leather



O for the wings of a dove

Performing seals

Queue for snooker

Half a mo(ment)

It’s formidable

Tea for two


Viva la France

Double you for quits

Eggs for breakfast

Wife or mistress

Zephyr breezes


Try to think of each poem as a letter written to an intimate friend, not always the same friend. But the letter is going to be opened by the postal authorities, and if they do not understand anything, or find it difficult to wade through, then the poem fails.          - W.H. Auden.


All will be judged.

Master of Nuance and scruple,

Pray for me and for all writers, living or dead:

Because there are many whose works

Are in better taste than their lives,

Because there is no end to the vanity of our calling,

Make intercession for the treason of all clerks.              -W.H. Auden. At the Grave of Henry James


Though the tough cough and hiccough plough me through,

O’er life’s rough lough my thorough course I’ll hew.

’Ough (?)


Yan tan tethera pethera pimp; Tethera lethera hovera bovera dik; Yan-a-dik tan-a-dik tethera-dik pethera-dik bumfit; Yan-a-bumfit tan-a-bumfit tethera-a-bumfit pethera-a-bumfit figgit. -Shepherds counting sheep (Cymric numerals)


Green Grow the Rushes:

One: God.

Two: the Lillywhite boys were Christ and John the Baptist.

Three: the arrivals were the three wise men, not ‘the rivals’ as often sung.

Four: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Five: the symbols at your door, was the five-pointed pentacle on the door at the Passover, or symbols on the stone, i.e. crosses on the altar-stone, the five wounds of Christ.

Six: proud waters (not walkers), the six good water-pots at Cana.

Seven: stars, i.e. star-angels of seven churches of the Apocalypse.

Eight: bold rangers were the eight human beings saved in the Ark.

Nine: bright singers, not shiners, the nine choirs of angels.

Ten: Commandments.

Eleven: apostles without Judas.

Twelve: apostles with Judas.


-Nouns of Assembly:

a cargozoon of strumpets;

a skein of wildfowl;

a ribboning of plover;

a murder of crows;

a rafter of turkeys;

an unkindness of ravens;

a pitying or dule of doves;

a blow of tulips.


-The Verbal Beauty of Medical Terms

How long ago upon the fabulous shores

Of far Lumbago, all on a summer’s day,

He and the maid Neuralgia, they twain,

Lay in a flower-crowned mead,

and garlands wove

Of gout and yellow hydrocephaly,

Dim palsies, pyorrhoea and sweet

Myopia, bluer than the summer sky,

Agues both white and red, pied common cold,

Cirrhosis, and that wan faint flower of love

The shepherds called dyspepsia…


I used to think (being deceived, like most people, by the poet) that old age came gradually and gently upon a man, like mist over the Californian mountains; instead of which it attacks one by jumps like a diseased and malignant monkey, snapping and biting and wounding with its yellow teeth. - Hilaire Belloc.


‘Poor Alfred, he’s got ’em again’ [i.e. piles].

                              -Tennyson’s doctor after reading ‘Maud’.


Zeuxis was said to have painted grapes on a boy’s head so well that the birds came and pecked them. Sir G. Kneller said that if the boy too had been well painted the birds wouldn’t have dared approach.


"Hearing a nun's confession is like being stoned to death with popcorn." -- Fulton Sheen

It was the Church that gathered the books (of the Bible) together, fixed their number, and even this wasn’t finally done till the year 378. The Church preceded the Bible and gave us the Bible. - Fulton Sheen

Infallibility, lays down nothing new; it only safeguards and explains what is old. The contents of revelation closed with the Apocalypse.

                                                                                                                                                                        - Fulton Sheen


Odd Book Titles:

The Joy of Chickens

Versailles: The View From Sweden

Re-using Old Graves

Highlights in the History of Concrete

The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition

Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification

Tattooed Mountain Women

Spoon Boxes of Dagestan

Better Never To Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence in third place.

How Green Were the Nazis?

D Di Mascio of Coventry - An Ice Cream Company of Repute, With An Interesting and Varied Fleet of Ice Cream Vans.

High Performance Stiffened Structures,

Living with Crazy Buttocks

How To Avoid Huge Ships.


Speaking to a girl who was told by an ecstatic that her father was in purgatory: " is not sure that your father has to suffer in purgatory. A great many souls endure no other suffering than the delay of their admission to heaven; and to many of them permission is given to hover in the church before the Most Holy Sacrament." - Fr. Paul of Moll 1824-1896.


Bodies are united in pleasure, but souls are united in pain.


Arthur: This is my best friend.

Gielgud: I relish the compliment.

Arthur: This is Gloria.

Gielgud: Thrilling to meet you.

Authur: Say hello Gloria.

Gloria: Hi!

Gielgud: You have a wonderful economy with words, Gloria. I look forward to your next syllable with great eagerness.

                                                        -Arthur (1981) Orion Pictures.



Pope Alexander VI revived the custom of the “Angelus” (orignally Calixtus III ) and made it obligatory for all times.


Some traveler from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of

London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul.                     - Lord Macaulay.



Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me:

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

-Carved on the Statue of Liberty since 1883.


The vice in question (pederasty) is one to which I have never been tempted, and which, indeed, I still find opaque to the imagination.

                                                                                                                                                                        – C.S.Lewis.


In 1858 Meredith’s wife (Mary Nicholl, daughter of Thomas Love Peacock) ran away with Henry Wallis, the Pre-Raphelite painter, for whose Death of Chatterton Meredith had posed.


 Nichol, was not only coarse but ‘democratic to the point of insolence’      -Robbie Burns.

 A lady’s poem: …not from the higher slopes of Parnassus, perhaps, …   - Robbie Burns.


Boys – acute detectives of humbug.


Rupert Brook died from blood-poisoning caused by a gnat bite on his lip while in transit for Gallipoli.


It is as if we are placed, when very young, at the roundabout of a great junction with highways

leading off in every direction and all signposted "LOVE".


Angels are forever draining, and digging, and planting graces in the soul, turning the brackish marshland into pleasure gardens.


I remember once walking with my father along Kensington High Street, and seeing a crowd of people gathered by a rather dark and narrow entry on the southern side of that thoroughfare. I had seen crowds before; and was quite prepared for their shouting or shoving. But I was not prepared for what happened next. In a flash a sort of ripple ran along the line and all these eccentrics went down on their knees on the public pavement.

I had never seen people play at such antics except in church; and I stopped and stared. Then I realised that a sort of little dark cab or carriage had drawn up opposite the entry; and out of it came a ghost clad in flames. Nothing in the shilling paintbox had ever spread such a conflagration of scarlet, such lakes of lake; or seemed so splendidly likely to incarnadine the multitudinous sea.

He came on with all his glowing draperies like a great crimson cloud of sunset, lifting long, frail fingers over the crowd in blessing. And then I looked at his face and was startled with a contrast; for his face was dead pale like ivory and very wrinkled and old, fitted together out of naked nerve and bone and sinew; with hollow eyes in shadow; but not ugly; having in every line the ruin of great beauty. The face was so extraordinary that for a moment I even forgot such perfectly scrumptious scarlet clothes.

We passed on; and then my father said, “Do you know who that was? That was Cardinal Manning.” Then one of his artistic hobbies returned to his abstracted and humorous mind and he said, “He’d have made his fortune as a model.” -G.K. Chesterton. Autobiography.


To represent Shaw as profane or provocatively indecent is not a matter for discussion at all; it is a disgusting criminal libel upon a particularly respectable gentleman of the middle classes, of refined tastes and somewhat puritanical views. -G.K. Chesterton.


Ravenna out-Pisas Pisa; it is a whole city of leaning towers, and to spend a day there is to lose faith in the perpendicular.


Death – Like leaving school.


I’ve never been offered a peerage, which comes as a great shock to my dog.


For truly my life was henceforth more solitary by far that it had been in the monastery for the greater the crowd amongst which you move, the greater is your lonliness, if the key to which your soul is tuned is different from theirs, if your thoughts are not their thoughts, nor your ways their ways.


Remember streakers? I wonder what happened to them. Clad now, probably, and living in Durham.


The source of the Nile is directly behind the 11th tee of the Jinga Gold Club in Kampala.


Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the \\\united States. -President Porfiro Diaz.


Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Communism is exactly the reverse.


The British Empire was born in a fit of absent mindedness.


Salvador Dali (Avida Dollars) developed a fixation that No 3 platform of the Perpignon Railway Station was the centre of the universe.


The Barcelona Poetry Festival:

3rd prize = A silver rose.

2nd prize = A golden rose.

1st prize = A real rose.


Prayer provides what music promises but can never deliver.


In a perfect world you would be taken from this place, and hanged by the neck until you were dead.


Pay off = that bit at the end of an article that refers back to something said in the body of the piece.


Slug line = the lines at the end of a movie telling of subsequent events related to thye story.


Father Edwin Gordon. R.I.P.

The Popular Fatima Prayer Book is now available in Portuguese and Spanish as well as English - each with supplementary material suitable for pilgrims from countries speaking these languages.

All available at the same price. For discounted bulk orders (more than 10 copies)email