January 0003

Bitter ‘n’Twisted Jones, Competition Entries, Jasper Waterstone


Vince Darrow from Vince’s Vinyl has sent us another e-mail:

I know I promised your readers a biography of Bitter ‘n’Twisted Jones, but I haven’t got time to do that now.  What I can do is this. Just by chance, yesterday I got an original cylinder of his “Dragged Down Low Blues”. You wouldn’t believe how rare this is – if any of your readers wants it, I’m taking bids starting at $8000.  Anyway, what’s really extra-special about this is that it has the original sleeve notes with the words in it. So, completely for free, I’ll let your readers have the lyrics:


Dragged Down Low Blues, by Solomon Samuel “Bitter ‘n’ Twisted Jones.

 'Ain’t got no balls,

Ma dog bit ‘em off.

Guess I should have fed him,

But I ain’t got no dough,

So I’m singin’ those dragged down low blues again.


When I woke up this morning

All ma friends’d died

I’m so lonely

Cos I don’t know no one

So I’m singin’ those dragged down low blues again.


Floor needs sweepin’

Got a load of dustin' to do

Dirty dishes a pilin up

But I can’t be bothered

Cos I got those dragged down low blues again.


DTs bitin’ me bad

Nothin’ to drink in the house

Gotta get some booze,

But I got the shakes so bad

I won’t make the stairs

Oh Lord, I got them dragged down low blues again.


Ain’t got no woman,

Ain’t never had one

Cos ma breath is bad

An my feet, they stink

An’ I’m singin’ those dragged down low blues again.


Nothin’ to eat man

Last can of beans is in the trash

Gonna catch me a mouse or roach

An’ chew on that.

I’m singin’ those dragged down low blues again with ma mouth full.


Wanna kill myself,

But I can’t afford no rope

Guess I’m just gonna have to

Sit an live

and sing those dragged down low blues again.'


I don’t think these words have ever been published before.

Vince Darrow, Vince’s Vinyl.



We’ve received the first tranche of answers to the competition set last month. Here are the best of them:

Your passage is in early Volscian. I’m slightly surprised that you should use such an archaic transliteration, and am puzzled that it should show such marked Etruscan influences. This is an anachronism surely? I suspect that you must have invented the text yourselves. Be that as it may, I must say that I am delighted by the quality of  your composition. It appears to be an armourer’s inventory:

“Spears, left handed, infantry, five: one bent:

Nose bags, horse, canvas, cavalry, two:

Kitchen, field, ox drawn, not found in stores, believed stolen, one:

Swords, short, infantry, four hundred and sixty two.

I, Vulgus Secundus, storeman (temp. acting. illiterate) attest to the accuracy of this list, and take full and personal responsibility for the items on it. Date illegible.

Simpson Patterson, Norwich.

Sorry Simpson, but you couldn’t be more wrong! Let’s see if someone else can win the BIG PRIZE.

This is a love song from the Neeow people of Central New Guinea. Essentially it is untranslatable, but it goes something like this:


I like the shape of your head,

your arms,

your legs,

your body




Your face is fine, and you smell quite fragrant, but

your fingers are


little too long.

Please don’t sing to me, as your voice is terrible.”

I’m afraid it does lose something in the translation.

Tyler Parker, c/o International Herald Tribune, Paris


Sorry Tyler, but you’re even colder than Simpson. Now here’s a message from Dolores Florez of Bruges.


Dear Mr. Scharf.

 This passage means so much to me, and I am profoundly moved that you have published it. I have heard it throughout my life. When I was five, I heard the first fifteen words in a dream, repeated many times. This dream has been repeated many times over the years, always exactly the same. A few years later, a stranger in an underground train whispered the second sentence into my ear, and disappeared. When I was thirty two, I was looking in a mirror when every second word of the passage appeared in blue letters inside the mirror.  They appeared to be about two feet inside the mirror, and remained, shimmering, for about ten minutes. Some years ago, I visited a medium to find out where my aunt had left her property deeds. The medium turned grey, uttered the last line in a husky voice, and, when she came round, told me to go away and never return. She refused to say anything else. We also had a parrot which suddenly started to quote the entire passage. One day it escaped, and was immediately caught by an eagle owl. This was very strange in the middle of the day. Please tell me what this passage means, and where it comes from, as I’m sure it is very, very important.


Dolores, first off, I’m Dr. Scharf, and not Mr. Scharf. Secondly, I’m afraid the competition is still on. I can’t tell you until a reader has given me the correct answer, and the translation. Here’s a clue. You’re all probably assuming the text was originally written left to right. Are you sure this is correct?


This isn’t a foreign language but a code. It’s in English, and uses a simple transposition cipher, with arbitrary word breaks, and a number of meaningless characters to confuse anyone trying to decode the text. In fact, it was a message sent by one of Queen Elizabeth Tudor’s agents in Paris and can be rendered as follows:

'Ye kyng suffereth from constipation and is presently loath to leave Paris for Vincennes. A chirurgeon is in attendance upon his majestie. A barque sails from Le Havre for an unknown destination tomorrow. From Ye Black Slash.'

Martin O’Malley, Booterstown.

This is very imaginative Martin, but I’m afraid you’re even colder than the rest of the entrants. Maybe someone’ll get it right next month.




Jasper Waterstone is probably London’s most prolific marble thief. He’s a sculptor, and a bit heavy-handed with the mallet, so he needs a lot of material. Every day, you can see him leaving his house near Tooting Bec, pulling his trolley behind him. His favorite port of call is Westminster Cathedral (that’s the Catholic one, not Westminster Abbey), where he finds an empty side chapel and prizes the marble cladding off the walls using a long cold chisel. “The trick is to wear a white coat with a name badge on it, and to look as if you’re meant to be there” explains Jasper. “My name badge says ‘The Very Reverend Carlos O’Higgins’ which seems to put them off the scent”. He says he’s nearly exhausted the side chapels in the Cathedral, and doesn’t feel confident about tackling the nave, as he’d need a long ladder, and doesn’t like heights. He’s probably going to do the old reading room in the British Museum next, where the book shop now is. Carlos explains that the marble there is lovely and white, but the workmanship was really shoddy, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get the cladding off. “The BM thinks they got solid marble, but I recognize cladding when I see it, he says.” One drawback is that he’s going to have to find a new greasy spoon to have his midday cup of tea in when he’s finished prizing for the day.

Note from Ropkind Scharf: This was contributed by Frankie Burke, our London correspondent. I didn’t believe it at first, but it’s true. If you go to Westminster Cathedral, you can see a lot of the cladding has been prized off the walls! You can actually see the bricks underneath. Thanks Frankie, and sorry to have doubted you.