Thursday, December 29, 2005

What day is it?

I’ve never been a believer in reincarnation, but this Christmas I had the pleasure of reverting to a previous life before the vicissitudes of adolescence gained a grip.

Father Christmas is a generous and deeply perceptive individual, as my gift of a Gamecube testifies. I ripped off the wrapping to find myself presented with an obsolescent piece of technology, of interest only to the sad saps that retrieve their N64’s from the attic to have another bash at ‘The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time’. In the world of the Xbox 360 and the PSP, it was surely an insult to present anyone with this cute little toy that most retailers stopped stocking a couple of years ago.

My scepticism was short lived. The Cube was emblazoned with the legend: ‘Resident Evil 4’. I cranked the game up with the expectation of lumbering zombies annoying me while I searched for ammunition and a typewriter to save my progress. Instead I was confronted with hoards of psychotic East European residents (or perhaps they hailed from Basingstoke, it’s hard to tell) intent on ensuring my demise.

Resident Evil 4 is the best game I’ve played in years. It’s available on the Playstation, but the beauty of the Gamecube is that a Zelda game is to be released in the Spring.
Sometimes a console is worth buying just for one game. The Gamecube may be worth buying for two. I am relishing the prospect of a swansong.

Christmas Day was ace. I went for a ride on my bike, scoffed some turkey, and sat down to watch Doctor Who. It’s great being twelve.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Ghost Story for Christmas

They told me that buildings have a memory and I laughed. If that was the case, then surely the rubble tramped by countless generations of feet would grab me by the ankles and shake me.

It was after the fire that it struck me: the bare outlines of a charcoal skeleton smouldering; window frames warped, a scent of carbonised damp permeating the drizzle. The workmen had already started. There is something obscene about gaping window frames: the glass that they held shielded what was held within, observed the proper proprieties.

The upper storey had collapsed. Most of the ground floor was intact, the drawing room and public bar eerily intact. In a wasteland of charred timber the oak bar and a line of malt whiskies against a mirrored background remained much as they had been. It was wonderful. The snow drifted through the denuded rafters and fell among the candles as we imbibed; commiserating and consoling ourselves.

Room number 11 didn’t occur to me: the top storey had collapsed. The rubble lying at my feet was just so much detritus, rubble to be scooped by a digger and used as infill. The economics were straightforward; a physical loss was an immense financial gain. These old buildings cost a lot to insure, and I knew that the insurance company would offer me a wad of cash rather than incur the costs of rebuilding.

Willie told me that he’d seen her. Face down in his whisky glass he had mumbled and gesticulated, pointing into the middle distance. He was a drunken fool, a ‘Tam o Shanter’ who divined more in his glass than he did in his bank account. Everyone had laughed, mocking his credulity and ignorance: he saw vapours and apparitions where the rest of us saw road signs. We laughed, but Isobel demurred. She turned and said: “They may laugh Willie, but I know exactly what you saw”.

I dreamt it vividly: a girl falling headlong from a window, her nightdress flailing, and the crunch of bone on gravel. I didn’t see her fall, but I dream her dreams every day.

Garfer Says Yo Ho Ho!

Ma Hoose

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my vast, discerning, domestic and international readership (all 3 of them) a humongous merry Christmas.

Normal blogging service will be resumed when my cumulative hangover has subsided.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Liberte, Egalite, Bollocks.

Things that I like about the French:

  1. Croissants.

  2. Isabelle Adjani (obviously).

  3. Jules et Jim.

  4. Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday.

  5. Albert Camus.

  6. Claret.

  7. Er…. That’s about it.

Things that I dislike about the French:

  1. Scrounging farmers expecting us to subsidise them.

  2. Honking cheese.

  3. Being crap at war (WWII, Algeria, Vietnam etc).

  4. Not speaking English.

  5. Gites.

  6. Charles Asnavour.

  7. Serge Gainsborough.

  8. Meddling in Africa.

  9. Jean Marie le Pen.

  10. Pretentious films.

  11. The Foreign Legion (see 3).

  12. Stinky toilets.

  13. Overpriced Claret.

  14. Rude waiters.

  15. The Citroen 2CV.

  16. The Porn D’or.

  17. Jean Paul Sartre.

  18. Eating horses.

  19. Men carrying handbags.

  20. Not eating roast beef.

Male Models

I’m sure that we all wish Elton John and David Furnish well after their Civil Partnership ceremony today. In view of their long standing relationship it is only right and proper that they should have the opportunity to make a public declaration of their commitment to each other.

There is one aspect of their relationship about which I am rather curious. Has David, after twelve years, still not plucked up the courage to tell Elton that he has the dress sense of a total mong? For his big day, Elton chose a black satin frock coat that appeared to be about two sizes too big for him. He looked even more like an obese weeble than usual, which I am sure is not the image that he wished to convey on his big day. The garment may have been Versace, or Dolce and Gabbana, but it made Sir Elton appear a complete twat. I think it’s about time that David took him aside and had a quiet word in his ear.

I find it rather reassuring that so many rich celebrities are utterly clueless in the wardrobe department. Christine Aguilera, for example, resembles a trashwhore festooned with Christmas baubles. Then there are the professional footballers who think a black jacket, a black shirt, and a fat black tie, make a fetching combination.

The worrying thing is that the whole of chavdom takes its sartorial inspiration from these people. I think it’s about time that they took their responsibilities as yoof role models a bit more seriously, and got themselves a decent tailor. There’s no excuse for looking like a total fucktard if you can afford not to.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This Charming Man

Huckster Hoogstraten

I was gratified to learn that the repulsive psychotic Nicholas van Hoogstraten is facing damages of £10 million. He has lost the Civil action brought by the family of one of his erstwhile business associates who was brutally murdered, apparently on Hoogstraten’s orders.

He has to be one of the most repulsive individuals living in Britain. The origins of his vast wealth lie in property investments in Brighton during the late 1960’s. At that time property with sitting tenants could be purchased dirt cheap as the tenants had rights of occupancy.

Hoogstraten took considerable delight in threatening tenants with physical violence if they did not vacate the properties. Many of these people were elderly or vulnerable, not that this was of any concern to Hoogstraten. In one instance, one of his goons shoved a handkerchief smeared with human excrement into the face of a female tenant.

He regards most people as vermin, and reserves particular contempt for women and, for some bizarre reason, ramblers. He is the kind of sociopath who poses a profound danger to anyone with whom he comes in contact. Naturally he has fawning acolytes, which is not surprising given his enormous wealth.

The only good news before today’s court ruling was the confiscation of his huge estates in Zimbabwe. Hoogstraten thought that licking Robert Mugabe’s arse would prevent him suffering the same confiscation of property as the white farmers in that country. More fool him. He failed to realise that we was dealing with someone as evil as himself.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Loch Coruisk

I was reading a colour supplement on Saturday when I came across an article on a remote mountain fastness in Bhutan. One of the photographs looked strangely familiar, and I realised that it bore an uncanny resemblance to Loch Coruisk.

Loch Coruisk nestles beneath the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye. The Cuillins are undoubtedly the most spectacular mountain range in the British Isles. Composed of the hard volcanic rock gabbro, they are proper fairy tale mountains with jagged serrated peaks.

It’s hard to believe that this small island contains a landscape that is the equal of any in the world. Parts of the Alps, Himalayas, or Rockies may be spectacular on a larger scale, but in terms of sheer elemental grandeur the Cuillins stand comparison with them.

Weather permitting; I shall be visiting the Cuillins on Boxing Day. I can’t imagine a better way to work off the indulgences of Christmas, or escape the tawdry commercialism.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hotel Paradiso

I’m not particularly materialistic, but if there’s one thing I can’t abide it’s cheap hotel rooms. Hotels in Britain are a bit confusing. A two star hotel in the countryside can provide perfectly acceptable accommodation, whereas a two star hotel in a town or city centre will invariably be a dump.

What really annoys me is that that there is always a Porsche or a Jag parked round the back that belongs to the owner. They obviously manage to pay for their cars by scrimping in every possible area. Toilet paper is invariably single ply, the carpets are made out of nylon, the TV is a 14 incher with squeaky speakers, and the wallpaper is usually woodchip painted a delicate shade of nicotine magnolia.

I like to stay in the big chain hotels. At least you can be sure of the standard of accommodation you will receive, and the staff don’t pretend to be your best friend. I like the impersonality and anonymity; there’s none of that ‘think of yourself as a guest in our home’ bollocks.

The only institution that managed to keep functioning during the siege of Sarajevo was the Holiday Inn. While the city crumbled under sniper and mortar fire, the residents sat down to three proper meals a day (even if the provenance of the meat was uncertain). That’s the whole point of chain hotels: it’s like staying in a space capsule; you are divorced from the world outside.

Some people might argue that, when abroad, this prevents you from experiencing the full richness of foreign cultures. I say bollocks to that. If I’m in Thailand, I don’t want to stay in a flophouse with a ceiling fan and cockroaches the size of an aircraft carrier scuttling across the floor. I don’t want to fall asleep listening to Nigel from Basingstoke shagging a ladyboy. Those bamboo partition walls don’t have much in the way of soundproofing.

There are some two star hotels in Scotland offering seasonal breaks over the Christmas period. If anyone fancies three nights of party games, and mingling with the elderly and eccentric in extreme discomfort, I can provide the contact numbers and addresses.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Some gormless fuckwit weird beard ecofascist was on the radio this morning moaning that the people who drape the exterior of their houses in Christmas lights are draining precious power from the national grid.

Presumably we can expect the arctic ice cap to melt instantly if this scandalous behaviour is allowed to continue. What the eco warrior has omitted to mention is that we produce a surplus of electricity during the night. All the factories and offices are closed, and most vibrators are battery powered. Electricity can’t be stored: if we don’t use it we lose it. That’s why some hydro electric power stations pump millions of gallons of water up to the top of the dam overnight.

As far as I’m concerned, people who are devoid of taste deserve a good kicking; but I’m damned if I’ll allow global warming to be used as the reason.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Charity

There’s nothing I enjoy more of a Christmas morn’ than to go out and pour a thermos flask of piping hot soup over the homeless. At this special time of year frostbitten limbs are particularly receptive to some hot scotch broth, or carrot and coriander. I can tell they are pleased because they always do a little dance to show their appreciation of my kind hearted charity.

If more people were prepared to make a public spirited gesture like this, I am sure that Britain would be a happier place. In our modern consumerist world, many people think that tossing sachets of dehydrated chicken noodle soup out of their BMW windows into shop doorways is an adequate gesture towards those less fortunate than themselves. This just shows what the world is coming to: at the very least you would think they would be able to manage a Pot Noodle or two.

As a special treat this year, I plan to collect some half eaten kebabs to distribute amongst the needy. They may be a bit congealed, but will still be full of meaty natural goodness. The chilli sauce will add a cheery festive note, and add a soupcon of merriment to what would otherwise be a bleak time of year.

I urge all of you to consider what you can do for the needy this Christmas. In our atomised, me first world, it is far too easy to take our own comfort for granted and neglect the needs of others. Just remember, there but for the grace of God go I.
Mixed dried pulses are on special offer at Asda this week. Go on, do your bit. I know you wont regret it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Skullduggery and Theft

I can’t deny it, I’m a thief; a felon with no respect or regard for the property of others. Every Christmas I sneak out with a bush saw, select a small spruce tree belonging to the Forestry Commission, and fell it.

Nobody has ever reported my theft of Crown property, which is a bloody good thing, as all the people I know locally also steal their Christmas trees. I would ask all of you who are tempted to condemn my crime outright to consider the following mitigating factors:

1) The real Christmas trees for sale at retail outlets are invariably shite. They are all
wonky and misshapen with one side bigger than the other. In short, they look crap.

2) These trees are usually at least a week old before they are sold. The pine needles
are all dried up and will fall on the carpet given the first whiff of radiator.

I know that my position is indefensible in strict legal terms, but I feel that I’ve done enough for society over the years for this slight transgression of the law to be forgivable. If it wasn’t for me paying taxes to ensure that the Government can make sure that children can’t read and write properly, and provide people with a bit of a sore leg with free cars, the whole country would fall to wrack and ruin.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Can I Have a Sick Note Doc?

There are 2.9 million people in receipt of disability benefit in Britain. I wouldn’t have the temerity to suggest that they are all work shy, scrounging bastards, but after coming across this figure a number of things occurred to me.

In the past thirty years the number of people in receipt of disability benefit has trebled. This is rather odd given the overall improvements in health standards and longevity over this period. It seems even more preposterous when one considers that all the heavy industries which were a staple of working class life thirty years ago have more or less disappeared. I’m sure that shelf stacking or working in a call centre have their hazards, but I’m pretty sure that they can’t be compared with working as a stevedore, or digging coal out of the ground.

I also think that it’s rather a strange coincidence that the figure of 2.9 million is almost identical to the number of people who were unemployed following the first Thatcher Governments decimation of manufacturing industry during the early 1980’s.

Whenever I hear Gordon Brown boasting about record levels of employment, I find myself wishing that he would announce the number of people that are classed as economically inactive. If we add up the numbers of long term unemployed, disability claimants, and single mothers, everything in the economic garden starts to look a lot less rosy.

We’re encouraged by the press to think of the ‘underclass’ as illiterate chavs and deadbeats. In reality, the underclass consists of everyone who is effectively reliant on the state for their subsistence. These people have no hope of social mobility, and have fallen out of the productively employed sector of British life. We have instances of entire families that have never worked in their lives. I know of one district of Glasgow in which one third of the populace is in receipt of disability benefit. That figure beggars belief.

It’s difficult to know what’s to be done about it. Given the general cack handedness of government, any attempt to weed out the scroungers will probably just end up persecuting people that genuinely can’t work. The spongers are wily enough to work their way around the system

Labour won’t do much about it for fear of being seen to pillory the poor, the very people whose interests they are supposedly the guarantors. The Tories may huff and puff, but ultimately they don’t give a stuff because these people have never voted for them and never will.

I feel sorry for people who are born into this cycle of supplication to the state. If your parents have no expectations, then you will have no expectations. Even the system of higher education has been buggered up to such an extent that a degree has little value. God help the people at the bottom of the heap who don’t even get to university.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Ballad of Piggy and Tazzy

I’m sure that everyone is aware of the deep affection for poetry felt by Barnsley based bloggers Piggy and Tazzy. Moved by their deep appreciation of all things poetic, I felt compelled to pen some verse in their honour.

The Ballad of Piggy and Tazzy


Piggy and Tazzy went to sea
In a beautiful pea green used condom,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Pigster looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Tazzy! O Tazzy my love,
What a beautiful Tazzy you are
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Tazzy you are!’


Tazzy said to the Pigster, ‘You elegant bumboy!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a rent boy stood
With a ring at the end of his dong,
His dong,
His dong,
With a ring at the end of his dong.


‘Dear boy, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the rent boy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the trannie who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Garfer (with apologies to Edward Lear).

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Oor Wullie

Every year since the age of ten, I have received the ‘Oor Wullie’ and ‘Broons’ annuals from Santa Claus.

I should really be reading some classic literature over the festive period, but I will take great pleasure in reading the cartoon adventures of Wullie and the Broons with a glass of malt in hand.

A Scottish institution since 1927, the Broons are an extended working class family headed by the paterfamilias of Maw and Paw. Wullie is an urchin who sits on an upturned tin bucket and is often to be found extracting big boiled sweeties from a paper bag.

Published by the estimable D C Thompson, creators of the Beano, some of the earlier editions of these annuals are quite valuable. Unfortunately when I was younger I didn’t have the foresight to keep my copies.

That’s not as bad as my father. He had the first fifty editions of the ‘50’s sci fi comic ‘Dan Dare’ safely stashed in the attic. One day my grandmother decided to have a clear out and burnt the lot. They would be worth an absolute fortune these days. I don’t think my father ever forgave her.

My father has never had much luck collecting stuff. He used to have a stash of pre 1937 shillings that were made from solid silver. When I was eight I found them in the cupboard under the stairs and spent them on sweeties. I don’t think he’s ever forgiven me either.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Groundhog Day

It is at this time of year that I always begin to feel pangs of yearning for pastures new.
There are no tourists about, and I basically have fuck all to do. This state of affairs leads to periods of wistful contemplation of foreign climes, and the allure of bright city lights and kebab shops becomes irresistible.

I could, if I made up my mind (I am a ditherer by nature), sell up, bung the money in the bank, and bugger off around the world for a couple of years. I could just about live on the interest, and come back and buy something else rather closer to the centres of civilization.

I’m suffering a bit of a ‘Groundhog Day’ syndrome at the moment. I’ve never lived in the same place for more than eight years, and next year being the ninth anniversary of my arrival here, I’m beginning to feel like it’s time to be moving on.

It would be different if life was really like Groundhog Day. I would find it rather enjoyable to relive the same day over and over, especially as there are quite a number of people I would happily punch in the face knowing that I would avoid the consequences. Of course, days filled with sybaritic self indulgence would probably pall after a while, but believe me; it would take quite a long while.

The central premise of Groundhog Day is intriguing, and I regard it as one of the finest comedies ever made. It’s one of those films that doesn’t have any central philosophy; it lets you take from it what you want. Is it an examination of man's existential predicament, or an illustration of the redemptive power of love? Who knows? You make your own mind up.

There are no groundhogs where I live, but it’s starting to feel a bit like Punxatawny.
Maybe I should pack my bags and head into the great blue yonder. Then again, my groundhog day a’int such a bad place to be, even if I don’t get to live it over and over.

Arsing arses

This is a test. When I try to view my blog I am presented with a blank screen.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Don't smoke, don't drink, what do you do?

The international beacon of medical excellence that is the NHS has come up with another wizard wheeze to save some cash. Apparently there are circumstances in which medical practitioners may be able to withhold treatment from those whose lifestyle choices may result in such treatment not being effective. There are no prizes for guessing the lifestyle choices: smoking, being a fat bastard, and drinking heavily.

It has been stressed that treatment cannot be denied solely on the basis of these three lifestyles alone. Treatment may only be denied if the lifestyles compromise the efficacy of the treatment. I’m no expert on semantics, but what precisely is the difference?

Patient: “I’m a fat porker, I smoke forty a day, and I drink 2 bottles of vodka a day.
I’ve got pains in my chest. What treatment can I get?
Doctor: “Fuck off. Next please”.

I thought that there was such a thing as the Hippocratic Oath.

I fail to see the logic in denying treatment to the very people who are propping up Government finances through excise payments on tobacco and alcohol. Let’s face it, these people don’t have a great life expectancy, and are likely to cost the NHS less in the long run than everybody else anyway.

I hate the NHS. I hate the patronising nature of a state run monopoly that treats the populace as children who should be thankful for what they get. I smoke. If I get denied treatment, I’ll pay for it privately. A lot of people don’t have that choice.
I’d opt out of the NHS entirely if I was given a tax incentive to do so; I’m sure many people would. A thriving private health sector would drag up standards in the NHS as it would very quickly become obvious what an inefficient, producer oriented, shambles it is.

Rant over. Thank you and goodnight.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

How to drive fast on drugs while having your wing wang squeezed and not spill your drink.

As we approach the season of getting bladdered and throwing up over taxi drivers, I feel duty bound to concur with the annual anti drink driving campaign. We have witnessed much carnage over the years, and it is disturbing that the number of convictions for drink driving is on the rise.

Scotland has had a long dark relationship with the bottle, but most people these days have sufficient sense not to drink and drive. The penalties in terms of a driving ban and quadrupled insurance premiums are enough to make most people think twice. Unfortunately there are some numpties who continue to think it’s worth the risk.

I live in a rural area where drink driving is, unfortunately, still prevalent. It’s quite common for some of the older geezers to have a couple of pints and a few drams before driving home. Most of the roads are single track, and cars generally can’t exceed thirty miles per hour. There are no pedestrians, so only the local sheep and the drivers themselves are at risk. The police tend to turn a blind eye, which I suppose is understandable as they have to live in the community that they police. Even so, it’s a bad thing, and they really should adopt a stricter approach.

I don’t drink and drive: never have, never will. You won’t catch me down the pub after smoking a couple of spliffs and downing some Temazepam. Oh no, I get into my car and drive as a law abiding citizen, sometimes reporting erratic drivers to the police on my mobile phone.

I think I deserve a medal.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Spot the Loony

Spot (geddit?) the Loony

The aptly named Tom Leppard, popularly known as the ‘Leopard Man’, is one of the more eccentric residents of the Isle of Skye.

An ex soldier of twenty eight years service, Tom found it impossible to relate to people in civilian life and decided to make a statement of personal identity. I can’t imagine many statements much stronger than having yourself tattooed from head to toe in order to resemble a leopard.

Tom lives by a river in a hut constructed from tree branches and forages for food. He interrupts this Gollum like existence to canoe to the nearest village once a week and collect his army pension. He earns a supplementary income by posing for photographs taken by coach loads of bewildered Japanese and American tourists.

Tom is regarded as a strange, but largely harmless soul. His appearance does, however, have a tendency to scare the shit out of small children.

Tom bears testimony to the socialisation skills that are imbued in young recruits by the British Army. Perhaps the Marines or the Paratroop Regiment should make use of Tom in some of their recruitment material; his gung ho approach to self sufficiency should prove an inspiration to all young folks, and may dissuade them from a life of substance abuse and benefit scrounging.

One can but hope.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Make mine a Seal Sandwich

More excellent news on the prospects for climate change. Apparently the flow of warm water brought to northern latitudes by the Gulf Stream has declined by 30%. Increased flows of glacial melt water into northern river systems are apparently disrupting normal current flows. Some of the Gulf Stream is diverting away from its usual course towards North West Europe and flowing towards Africa.

This will not prove completely disastrous if it persists, resulting in an average drop in mean temperatures of 1 degree Celsius over the next decade. More worryingly, if the Gulf Stream actually stops, those of us complaining of nippy mornings in wintertime Britain will shortly find ourselves queuing up for bollock warmers and thermal nipple protectors.

A 1 degree drop in temperature will just give us colder winters, with increased snowfalls. This would be no bad thing, as Scotland would develop a flourishing winter sports industry and I would be quids in. The full freeze scenario would give us a climate similar to Labrador or parts of Siberia. That would not be pleasant.

Should the worst transpire, I suppose we will have to rely on our colonial Canadian underlings for top tips on the correct approach to seal clubbing. They may even be able to provide us with a recipe for (first club your seal) barbequed cute fluffy little baby white seal cub fricassee served on a bed of boiled Inuit.

I may consider emigration to Canada. Apparently the Province of Alberta has oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia. With all those petrodollars floating around Albertans will be able to keep themselves warm and toasty, and probably won’t have to eat clubbed seal very much at all. It’s definitely worth a thought.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Pomes and Stuff

Poetry used to have a much higher profile in our society. At one time every literate household in the country would have had the collected works of Byron, Tennyson, and Keats on their bookshelves. Most people would have been able to recite at least one poem by rote, and would have been familiar with the majority of poetic forms.

There is probably more poetry written and published today than at any point in the past. Most of it just doesn’t get read. The only working poet today who is likely to be able to earn a living from their work is (famous) Seamus Heaney.

Poetry is one of the purest art forms. It requires a level of verbal exactitude and technical proficiency that is daunting. Unlike modern art, it does not allow charlatans to masquerade as creative geniuses. Bad poetry is palpably bad; doggerel verse is instantly recognisable and cannot claim any literary merit that it self evidently lacks.

There is a new website called Poetry Archive that has collected recordings of some famous poets reciting their work. I’ve always held the opinion that poetry is best read from the page; I don’t like performance poetry as I think it loses all the subtleties of which the medium is capable.

Listening to W B Yeats reciting ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, one of the most famous poems in the English language, is memorable for all the wrong reasons. I actually burst out laughing when I first heard it. Yeats may have been a poet of genius, but he was also a bit of a berk. Have a listen here; I think you’ll agree that it would be impossible to murder a superb poem as absolutely as Yeats manages.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I Went on Holiday by Mistake.

There are, as the cliché goes, some days when it would be better to stay in bed than venture into the outside world. I’m firmly of the opinion that should one calamity occur, it is better to admit defeat than to risk the possibility of further misfortunes and indignities. Tempting fate is never a good idea as the gods of malice clearly derive enjoyment from compounding disaster with discomfort.

My holiday began with a flat car battery. My battery charger was buggered so I was delayed for an hour waiting for the man from the garage to arrive. When I finally got underway things went swimmingly until I got on the motorway just south of Glasgow.
The traffic ground to a halt and I was stuck in a three hour traffic jam caused by snow. Naturally I was totally unprepared and had neither a flask of coffee nor a Mars bar to sustain me through the tedium. At one point I had to get out of the car and piss in front of the line of traffic with only a newspaper concealing my todger from view.

When the jam finally cleared I decided to call at the next service station and get some sorely needed food. Naturally, everyone else had the same idea and by the time I got there they had run out of hot food. Five hours of starvation and all I could get was a ham sandwich and a packet of crisps.

On finally reaching my destination I headed out to a charming country pub for a proper meal. The menu looked wonderful: much creative endeavour with parmesan shavings, game chips, balsamic reductions and the like. I shouldn’t have raised my hopes. The food was utter shite.

It’s all the fault of celebrity chefs. Thanks to them every twat just out of catering college thinks that they are a culinary genius. They haven’t got a fucking clue. If they stuck to the basics of fresh, properly prepared, simple food, everyone would go home happy. Instead they make a total balls of technically difficult dishes, and serve them up with a flourish. Wankers.

The rest of my holiday was excellent. Cumbria is very pictureskew.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Electric Soup

It’s a bit presumptuous of me to devote a post to booze. With Herge Smith providing an excellent blow by blow bender account over at Angry Chimp, the indignities associated with the subject have been more or less covered.

I don’t drink whisky these days: actually, to be more precise, I don’t drink blended whisky. The common or garden blends are what you find upended on optics in bars and selling for a derisory £10 in supermarkets. Some of the better quality blends taste ok, but they are ultimately a debased product using a combination of malt and grain whisky. The lower the proportion of malt, the lower the quality of the whisky.

Whisky could only have been invented in Scotland. The combination of weeks of rain, hail, sleet and howling gales must have made the place pretty dispiriting before the advent of electric light. What better way could there possibly be to dispel the gloom than to invent an electric soup with enough volts to fell a bull elephant?

The Scottish highlander’s warrior reputation probably has its roots in whisky. The sight of a hairy arsed barbarian charging across the heather pissed up on scotch would have been enough to have Atilla the Hun cowering for mercy. Zulu warriors may have indulged in hallucinogens to get their pecker up, but they wouldn’t have stood a chance against Angus McSporran with a hip flask of scotch up his kilt.

The remarkable thing about blended scotch is that nobody under the age of forty drinks the stuff. A dram these days is usually vodka or spiced rum, whisky being regarded as a drink for old duffers with leather elbow patches. Most of the stuff gets exported overseas. This is a good thing, as Scotland is essentially exporting the roughest hangover known to humanity to those who know no better.

I drank a whole bottle of the stuff once and was confined to my bed for a full twenty four hours. It is the closest to a near death experience that I have encountered and one that I have no desire to repeat. Blended whisky leads to pissed belligerence, an atavistic desire to punch southerners, and probably the worst hangover imaginable. It doesn’t really have a lot going for it.

Single malt whisky is, however, a totally different matter. This Christmas I will imbibe a snifter of two of 18 year old MacCallan, swirling the elixir in my glass, and savouring every sip. I wouldn’t dream of getting drunk on the stuff. That would be sacrilege.

Northern Exposure

Typical British weather forecast hyperbole today. WARNING! SEVERE RISK OF DISRUPTION. Every time they forecast snow in this country I sigh, and think, no fucking chance mate.

Take today for instance. Northerly gales emanating from the polar ice cap will apparently engulf large areas of the country, and blizzard conditions will engulf northern Scotland. Here I sit in northern Scotland looking out of my window and what do I see? FLURRIES. That’s right, pathetic little snow flurries blown along on a light
breeze. The few (poor excuse for) snowflakes that make it to ground level melt instantly.

I’m going on holiday (again) tomorrow. Somehow I don’t think I’ll have to pack Ray Mears and a snow shovel in the boot of my car. The chances of having to dig a snow hole and share a few Pot Noodles with Ray as we await rescue are, frankly, remote.
I wouldn’t want to spend a night in a snow hole with Ray anyway, he probably has smelly feet. I wouldn’t mind huddling down with Uma Thurman or PJ Harvey though.
That would be most enjoyable.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

String 'em Up

Lord Stephens, ex Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, claims that he has rethought his position on the death penalty, and now feels that it should be reintroduced for the murder of police officers.

The murder of those who are employed to protect us (when they aren’t eating burgers in parked patrol cars) is obviously an emotive issue, but I fail to see why the murder of a policeman should be treated differently from that of any member of the public. Is the life of a policeman to be deemed more valuable than that of Joe Bloggs?

I’ve always been vehemently opposed to the death penalty. I don’t approach the subject from the same angle as most oppositionists. The usual arguments against the death penalty are:
1) There is always the possibility that due to a miscarriage of justice someone
innocent will be executed.
2) The possibility of a life sentence is a sufficient deterrent: there is no need for the death penalty.
Both of these arguments are ceasing to be persuasive. Improvements in forensic science, and the advent of DNA testing, mean an unsafe conviction is unlikely (if not impossible). As regards the deterrence argument, the murder rate is four times the level as when the death penalty was in force.

My opposition to the death penalty rests on the sanctity of life. This may seem perverse as the victims of murder have had their right to life violated. Surely their murderer should pay the ultimate price? I would claim that just because someone is guilty of murder doesn’t give us the right to take their life. If life is seen as sacrosanct then we should not have the right to take it under any circumstances. (I’m not getting into the argument about the right of the state to take life, that’s a separate, if linked issue).

I’m not a liberal who believes that everyone is capable of rehabilitation, or places the welfare of the offender above that of the victim. I think the practise of releasing people convicted to a life sentence for murder after ten or fifteen years is profoundly misguided. This shows contempt for the victim, and reduces the deterrence value afforded by the life sentence.

There is an argument that, as most of the population would support the reintroduction of the death penalty, a referendum should be held on the issue. One of the principles of representative parliamentary democracy is that MP’s should have a free vote on matters of personal conscience. The majority of MP’s are opposed to the death penalty. I think that their right to determine the law on this issue should be defended. Some matters are just too important to be left to the visceral sense of anger and fear that is (often justifiably) felt by the public.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Georgie Boy

It appears that George Best is on the verge of meeting his maker, although given the ‘Barney Rubble’ like resilience of the man we can’t be sure that he’s about to breathe his last.

Some people are so preternaturally gifted that it’s possible to forgive them almost anything, even if they waste much of their talent and devote an inordinate amount of their time to behaving like a total arsehole. Best didn’t entirely squander his gift, mesmerising crowds during the seven years when he displayed his footballing genius at the highest level.

We probably all know someone who, despite their myriad faults, is still ultimately loveable. They can be as unreliable and unpredictable as they like, they will still provide excellent company and generally brighten up the lives of everyone with whom they come in contact. Best was like that. The elfin grace that he displayed on the football pitch seemed to extend into his day to day existence. The friends that he made over the years generally remained friends, even if they did despair over his wayward ways.

Flawed sporting heroes are usually the most attractive. It’s their human fallibility that appeals to us, appearing as a counterweight to the privileges that their position affords them. Personally I’d much rather spend an evening with George Best than with the inarticulate David Beckham, or the cretinous, ‘Shrek’ like Wayne Rooney.

George Best was destroyed by alcohol. Interestingly, his mother didn’t take a drink until the age of forty, but still ended up dying from liver disease. I’m convinced that there must be a genetic element to alcoholism. The same genetic inheritance that produces a sporting genius can lead them into alcohol or drug dependency.

I’m too young to have seen George Best play, but my uncles did. Judging from the veneration in which they hold the man I very much doubt that we’ll see such a perfectly rounded talent again.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Slap Head

The German word ‘schadenfreude’ has no direct translation in English. It means to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others.

It’s not a very attractive trait to revel in the difficulties of others, and not one that most of us would readily admit to. If we’re honest though, I think most of us would have to admit to feeling a slight twinge of satisfaction when we hear that a celebrity has fallen flat on their face, or is suffering from an embarrassing malady.

Apparently the impossibly good looking Jude Law is gradually going bald. So concerned by his thinning locks is Law, that he has resorted to various homeopathic potions in a vain attempt to halt the inevitable. His efforts will of course be futile, and he will have to resign himself to a future as a chrome dome, or resort to wearing a rug on his bonce.

Law has always struck me as a rather vain individual. It’s easy to imagine the angst that he must be experiencing as he contemplates the loss of his crowning glory. I suppose that we should feel sorry for him, but I have to admit that I had a slight chuckle to myself when I heard the news.

Perhaps there is some justice in this world after all.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Born Again

I was interested to read today that there is a variety of leech that resides in the anus of the hippopotamus. This strange quirk of evolutionary biology has got me thinking.

Religious beliefs are really a bit silly; requiring levels of credulity that seem inappropriate in our age of rational thought and scientific empiricism. Our rational minds tell us that virgins do not give birth, that travelling to Mecca to walk around in circles is silly, and that the chances of being reincarnated in human form, let alone as a budgerigar, are rather slim.

Of course there always remains that element of doubt. I can’t claim to be an atheist as to my mind that requires as much faith in the impossibility of a deity as religious belief requires faith in an invisible, benevolent god. Some people believe that the propensity to believe in the numinous is hard wired into our brains and must serve some evolutionary purpose.

The belief in reincarnation is one of the fundamental tenets of Buddhism. I find the idea fairly satisfying in the sense that rebirth in a form commensurate with your actions during your life seems just. Of course I don’t believe in it, but it’s a nice idea.

I’ve decided to pay more attention to my karma, and will in future devote myself to good works (when I get round to them) and leaving complimentary comments on blogs. Behaving badly just isn’t worth the risk. If there’s anything in this reincarnation malarkey I might end up swimming around in the anal tract of a mud cavorting bloater. That wouldn’t be very nice at all.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dance With a Stranger

Following on from my last post expressing contempt for the acting profession in general, I will now proceed to undermine my argument by lauding one particular thespian.

Frankly I’m amazed that Miranda Richardson has never won an Oscar. She’s probably the most talented British actress to emerge since the war. I suppose it’s because she’s never been particularly interested in following the Hollywood route to fame and fortune. She was first choice for the role of the bunny boiler in ‘Fatal Attraction’, but turned it down because she didn’t approve of the way it portrayed women. Had she accepted, I’m sure she would have been much more convincing than Glenn Close, and garnered accolades as a consequence.

For me, her finest role was Ruth Ellis in ‘Dance with a Stranger’. She perfectly captured the brittle desperation of a woman yearning for the glamour and lifestyle from which her class debarred her. The film in general is a perfect portrayal of the seedy world of post war London nightlife, with its cast of aristocratic ne’er do wells and venal, cynical club owners. Richardson managed to convey the inexorable mental collapse of Ellis that ended with the murder of her lover.

Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain. The subsequent public outcry did much to bring about the abolition of the death penalty in Britain.

Richardson will be appearing as the vampish journalist Rita Skeeter in the new Harry Potter movie. I can’t conceive of anyone better for the role.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"You were marvellous dahling"

There are many professions in which their members spend a disproportionate amount of time contemplating their own rectums. Fashion designers, style journalists, pop starlets, and their ilk, are all partial to a spot of colonic self inspection.

The most narcissistic and self centred of the lot have to be the thespians. They have convinced themselves that the ability to stand on stage, or in front of a camera, and pretend to be somebody else is one of the highest forms of art. They try to persuade the world that they suffer many privations in their search for fame and success; chief amongst these being lying on the sofa moaning that their agent hasn’t found them any parts, and claiming dole to keep themselves in face paint and tights.

The public seems to have a perverse interest in the acting profession. No Sunday colour supplement is complete without a four page spread on some hot young thesp who is on the verge of breaking into the Hollywood A list. What newspaper editors fail to realise is that most of these people are uninteresting tits. They might scan the odd screenplay, but they spend most of their time feverishly reading the press in order to find as many mentions of their name as possible.

I don’t really care if Jude Law’s been shagging his nanny. I don’t give a monkey’s toss about Tom Cruise’s devotion to L Ron Hubbard, or Richard Gere’s audiences with the Dalai Llama. There is nothing interesting about these people. They haven’t written a screenplay, they don’t direct or produce, and they might be able to recite blank verse but they certainly can’t write it.

I know that not all thespians merit this diatribe. There are one or two worthy of note who I will probably idolise in some future post. I’m nothing if not inconsistent.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gay Whales Against the Bomb

The right to protest peacefully is an inalienable right in a liberal democracy. Only public demonstrations of a racist nature are deemed beyond the pale, and even then are usually banned on the grounds of maintaining public order rather than on the basis of the views expressed.

Personally I’ve never been much of a demonstrator. It’s not apathy, there are certainly issues about which I feel strongly, it’s just that most of the people who go on marches are sanctimonious, self righteous, twats. They are absolutely certain in their world view, and cannot conceive that any aspect of their beliefs could possibly be misguided.

There’s something about the herd nature of mass public gatherings that disturbs me. There’s an element of ‘me too ness’ about the affairs that suggests to me that most of the people involved just like the reassurance of a mass huddle with a bit of right on chanting. To be honest, I found the anti-war protesters waving ‘Not in My Name’ placards intensely irritating. There’s just something smugly self congratulatory about the phrase; as though they’re indulging in a collective back slap about their supposedly superior civilised values.

The other problem is that demonstrations are usually infiltrated by various hard left and anarchist groups that have more interest in destroying property and goading the police than any real concern with a specific issue. These fuckwits think that smashing in a MacDonald’s window strikes a massive blow against their bourgeois oppressors.

Anyone who’s been to a football match knows that crowds are perfectly capable of mass unthinking violence. I prefer to steer clear. The rational individual voice will always be preferable and more persuasive to me than a crowd chanting mindless slogans.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Healthy Eating

A ‘wit’ once claimed that to eat well In Britain one should have breakfast three times a day. They may have had a point fifty years ago when meat and three veg was king, and men the length and breadth of the nation were wont to opine that “I don’t like my grub to be mucked about with”.

Those days are thankfully long behind us, and it is possible to eat as well in Britain as anywhere else in the world. In fact, in terms of the variety of ethnic foods available, we probably lead the world (with the possible exception of New York). Our only real gripe can be the excessive cost of eating out. If restaurant dining was as sensibly priced as it is in the United States I am sure that we would do it more often.

For all the variety available to us I think it’s fair to say that most of us hold the great British fry up in great affection; although the term ‘British’ is probably too general. The English fry up is a fine beast, although rather marred by the use of fried white bread and the blasphemous use of baked beans. The Scottish fry up has a slight edge, the use of black pudding and flat sausage distinguishing it from its southern cousin. The Northern Irish fry up is the daddy of them all, a work of genius requiring minimal culinary expertise.

What distinguishes the ‘Ulster Fry’ from its stable mates is the use of fried soda and potato breads. Soda bread is made using bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast as a raising agent, a technique that produces bread with a dense but moist texture. Potato bread is a flat bread made with spuds, flour and milk. It has a firm texture with a melting centre. These breads are fried in bacon fat to produce a crispy surface with an unctuous (fave word) interior.

As one of the great cholesterol rich dishes of Western Europe, the Ulster Fry was responsible for Northern Ireland’s appallingly high rate of coronary heart disease. In the past people fried in lard, thus ensuring that arteries received a fresh furring on a regular basis. It’s not as widely consumed these days, but is still eaten as an occasional treat.

A massive Ulster Fry served with a large mug of steaming tea is the kind of breakfast that negates the need for lunch (or dinner if you’re from oop north). The breads are available from Marks and Spencer. Go on, have a blow out. I know you really want to.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Truth is Out There

Maybe it’s just me, but there does seem to be something distinctly odd looking about Stella McCartney. I suppose some people might think she has a cute peach shaped face with a dinky little nose. Personally I think she resembles one of those little ‘grey’ aliens that used to pop up on the X Files from time to time. As she is one of the progeny of Paul ‘Frog’s Chorus’ McCartney and Linda ‘beanburger’ McCartney, I suppose it would be too much to expect her to look normal.

I’ve got nothing against the girl on a personal basis; it’s just that’s she’s a member of the fashionista, probably the most irritating bunch of poseurs on the face of the planet.
These people aren’t talented tailors, oh no, they are ‘artistes’ whose creations are on a par with anything the world of fine art can produce. How else could they possibly justify charging £1,000 for a frilly blouse?

Most of the male fashion designers are in serious need of a good slapping. Jean Paul Gaultier is a repulsive dwarf who deserves to be taken round the back of a bus shelter and given a good kicking. Calvin Klein should be pushed out of the emergency exit at 30,000 feet on the next first class flight he takes from New York to London.

I don’t buy my clothes at a charity shop, and I do appreciate a bit of good tailoring (or would if I could afford it), but I will never blow cash on designer label fashion in which I will look a complete twat.

Style’s got nothing to do with fashion. Some people have it, some people don’t. I don’t, and I don’t really care. Albert Einstein used to wear the same clothes every day: he had an identical outfit hanging in his wardrobe for each day of the week. That way he didn’t have to think about what he would wear tomorrow. Now that’s what I call genius.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Help the Aged

My local Community Council observes a long standing tradition of giving a Christmas hamper to all senior citizens over the age of seventy five. On the face of it this is an admirable altruistic gesture, displaying due regard for the privations suffered by the aged at the coldest and potentially most cheerless time of year.

I have a problem with this. It’s not that I object to helping out the needy at Christmas: the problem is that the majority of them aren’t remotely needy. They have mostly retired to this area after selling houses in the south east of England or Edinburgh. They have fat capital sums in the bank and personal pension schemes. Judging by the new cars they drive (Mercs and Jags mainly), it should be obvious to a blind man that they aren’t exactly on the breadline.

Frankly it annoys me that we continue to equate age with poverty. Nobody is proposing that we hand out hampers to people who are unemployed and genuinely in need. In rural tourist areas it is quite common for people to be on benefits during the winter as most of the work available is of a seasonal nature. I’m sure they would appreciate a half bottle of whisky, a plum pudding, and some shortbread.

I’m not a great believer in universal benefits. Surely it would be better to divert greater resources to those in the most need. That, however, leads to means testing, and we all know how loathe the elderly are to accept what they perceive as charity.

I suppose the arctic winter (fat chance) that we have been told to prepare for will kill off most of the 65-75 age group, thus reducing the Christmas hamper drain on resources to a more acceptable level in future years. If that doesn’t get them perhaps avian flu will.

Something’s got to give. If things carry on at this rate nobody will have enough money left to pamper their grasping sprogs with PSP’s and drug rehabilitation therapy. I just don’t know what the world’s coming to.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Poetic Genius

Some poetry is good, some indifferent, some atrocious, and some so utterly dreadful that it falls into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. To achieve the latter, it really has to be written by someone who is labouring under the misapprehension that the drivel they commit to paper is of true literary merit.

Britain’s best crap poet was undoubtedly the late William 'Topaz' McGonagall, poet and tragedian of Dundee. Visited by his muse quite late in life, McGonagall saw himself as a peer and equal of Tennyson and Longfellow. He was prolific in his output and produced many ‘poetic gems’, which he was fond of reciting in public houses in the Dundee area. That his poetic outpourings tended to produce hoots of derision, and the occasional pelting with fruit, from his audience did not dent his self confidence one iota.

Quoting the first and last stanzas of ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’ is enough to give an impression of the kind of shite the man was fond of inflicting on his audiences:

‘Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side by buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.’

I suppose we shouldn’t mock too much; McGonagall was a decent enough sort, who suffered much from his delusions of grandeur. A group of students at Edinburgh University sent him a spoof letter, purporting to be from an Indian Prince, awarding him the title: ‘Sir William ‘Topaz’ McGonagall, Knight of the Order of the White Elephant of Burma’. McGonagall carried this title with pride until his death. He died in poverty and was buried in a pauper’s grave in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Snooze Hound

It’s well known that Margaret Thatcher only required a maximum of three hours sleep a night. This fact, in conjunction with her blonde helmet bouffant, has long led me to believe that she was in fact an alien, sent among us to chastise us for our errant and lackadaisical ways. She certainly did plenty of chastising: just ask the coal miners, or Geoffrey Howe.

Personally, I require a minimum of seven hours sleep a night, and quite like ten when I have the opportunity. I think that I have a natural aptitude for snoozing, my flair for narcolepsy frequently displaying itself in alarm clocks flung at the bedroom wall with extreme prejudice.

I can’t be doing with these bright and cheerful ‘morning people’, the type who leap out of bed with a hearty cry of “hello trees, hello birds”. The thought of going out jogging first thing in the morning, or breaking sweat at a gym, fills me with horror. Emerging from my REM’s, I require a gentle reintroduction to the world of reality, a peaceful space before confronting the annoyances and irritations which will beset me during the course of the day. The poet Phillip Larkin described lying in bed as the light filtered into his bedroom :….”telephones crouch, getting ready to ring in locked-up offices, and all the uncaring, intricate, rented world begins to rouse”. Larkin was an arch miserabilist, but I’m definitely with him there.

Edgar Allan Poe described sleep as “those little slices of death”. Unfortunately for Edgar, he didn’t have the benefits of a 15 tog snuggle down duvet, and a teasmade. If he had, he might have thought differently.

Snooze for Britain I say. More time in bed means less of a drain on the national grid, and consequently a greener world. Anyway, why should we have to get up while it’s still dark outside? It’s downright unnatural.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Once Upon a Time in the West

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, I worked as an insurance underwriter. Well, it wasn’t all that far away; Bristol to be exact, home of ooh arr cider drinkers and posh Sloane girls flicking their blonde fringes.

I was sharing a flat with a guy from Dublin who was, to say the least, a bit of a Walter Mitty. He had an espionage fascination, and imagined that with a spot of hair gel and an Austin Reed suit he was a dead ringer for James Bond. The fact that he spoke with a broad working class Dublin accent didn’t bother him in the slightest. As far as he was concerned he had the look down to a t, and that was all that really mattered.

He was seconded to an office in Plymouth for a month, and put up in a Hilton hotel. By a strange coincidence, the Queen was due to go walkabout in Plymouth at the same time. I really should have paid heed to his interest in ‘Guns and Ammo’ magazine, and warned him that high velocity firearms and royalty did not make a happy combination. If I’d known that he had a replica automatic pistol which he liked to pose in front of the mirror with, I’d probably have had him certified.

He arrived in Plymouth with his trusty imitation sidearm and settled into the hotel. The next day he headed off to work, absent mindedly leaving his popgun lying on the bedspread. The chambermaid, not unnaturally, noticed the gun and reported the matter to the hotel management. Bells began to ring: IRISHMAN, GUN, QUEEN.

That evening, Special Branch burst through his bedroom door, trussed him up like a chicken, and bundled him off for a 48 hour interrogation under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. In addition, they arrived at our flat and proceeded to tear his bedroom apart, reading through personal mail and bank statements, and tearing the lining out of his suits in search of evidence. Funnily enough, they didn’t seem very interested in me, even though I’m originally from Belfast.

They scared the shit out of the poor guy. He was a bit of a wanker, but he was no terrorist. Word got back to his employer, and he was psychologically pressured into resignation. I know the police have to be careful about this sort of thing, but surely they must have sufficient training to realise when someone is a harmless fantasist, not a homicidal maniac.

This is what worries me about the proposals to hold terrorist suspects for 90 days without charge. If we get the wrong people, and destroy lives in the process, we are likely to alienate an entire community. That’s no way to go about winning hearts and minds.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sweet Dreams

The Eurythmics were one of the better things to emerge from the 1980’s. The majority of the electro pop produced during that era was notable for shallowness and superficiality; a vapid glittering surface concealing an empty heart.

Suggestions of androgyny had previously been the preserve of male performers like David Bowie. Annie Lennox with her short cropped hair, killer cheekbones, and sharp cut suits, brought a female perspective to the concept of gender confusion. The music the Eurythmics produced had clearly defined influences, but sounded like nothing ever heard before. An icy cold sheen overlaid a melancholy wistfulness and aching sense of loss.

One of the few vocalists to merit the term ‘Diva’, Lennox has adopted a low profile over the last decade. Her triumphant performance at Live 8 showed that her talent is intact, and that she still has one of the most remarkable voices ever to grace pop music.

She has recently resumed her collaboration with Dave Stewart. I’m not sure that this is a good thing; Stewart is regarded as a bit of a self indulgent joke these days. She would be much better advised to rely on her own muse and produce some solo work.
If any female British artist has the potential to match Kate Bush it is Annie Lennox.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bastard, Bastard, Bastard.

My anti virus software expired last week. Noticing that PC World had a special offer on McAffee, I thought that rather than renew my existing software I’d wait a couple of days until I got a chance to visit PC world. My PC was unprotected for two days.

Guess what; in the space of two days, two bastard programs, Online Security Center and Security Troubleshooting downloaded themselves onto my PC. They appear on the programs list, but do not appear on the uninstall list, so I can’t delete them. Even worse, they have disabled System Restore, so I can’t get rid of then that way.

I am being inundated by penis enlargement pop ups, and the bastard things have installed an icon on my tool bar that continually sticks up a balloon informing me that my computer is infested with spy ware. I have to run a virus scan after every internet session as they are downloading ad ware and trojans. This is irritating to say the least.

I’m going to have to call in my nerdhead neighbour to see if he can sort things out. In the interim, if any techheads out there can suggest anything that I can do I will be extremely grateful.

As far as I’m concerned, the pond life that develop and disseminate this kind of software should be suspended by their testicles and beaten to death with a large stick. Bastards.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Nothing gets on my tits more than people who continually talk in euphemisms; it’s as though the use of plain transparent English is somehow shameful, or would suggest they have a limited grasp of the English language. Some of my least favourite euphemisms are:

  • If he had a brain he’d be dangerous.

  • The lights are out but nobody’s in

  • Not the sharpest tool in the box.

  • About as much use as a chocolate teapot.

  • He’s had more shags/fannies/comments than you’ve had hot dinners.

  • It’s nothing but a white elephant.

The euphemism, like the cliché, began life as a genuine linguistic innovation, conjuring up a mental image that was fresh and vital. Overuse has made them the last resort of the terminally inarticulate. The English language has such a vast and varied vocabulary that it should be possible to come up with new euphemisms. Once those have been overused they can be ditched until something original comes along.

I wouldn’t advocate adopting the Yorkshire terseness that “calls a spade a spade”, or “speaks as it finds”, but I do think a bit of plain unadorned speech would be refreshing now and then.

I’ve been trying to think up an original euphemism of my own, and to be honest, it’s bloody difficult. The best that I can come up with is:

“She’s got about as much sense as a Canuck in a pair of Freakin’ Green Elf Shorts”

That’s a bit shite. If anyone can think of anything better, let me know.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Big Swinging Dicks.

The British independent nuclear deterrent, ‘Trident’, will apparently have to be decommissioned in twenty years time. A decision will have to be taken shortly regarding its replacement with modern American missile technology. At a cost of £20 billion, this is a decision with serious financial implications.

Britain likes being a nuclear power. It enables our politicians to ensure Britain’s continuing presence on the UN Security council, and gives an impression of military power which belies the extent of Britain’s actual martial strength. Of course, it’s all an exercise in smoke and mirrors. The nuclear deterrent is in no way independent; it is wholly reliant on American military and logistical support. Anyone who imagines that Britain could ever launch a nuclear strike without express American approval is living in cloud cuckoo land.

We are proposing to spend £20 billion on a technology which we can’t use without someone else’s permission. This strikes me as rather silly. It’s like buying a car when you know you won’t be allowed to drive it unless Uncle Nigel gives you the nod.

The politicians know this, but they’d much rather we didn’t. In the post cold war world there is no credible nuclear threat, and any proliferation to rogue Middle Eastern states is likely to be dealt with by the American and the Israelis. No one poses us a nuclear threat, so why do we need nuclear weapons? Should the need for a nuclear capacity exist at some indeterminate point in the future, I’m sure the capability could be acquired at short notice.

The truth is that politicians like nukes because they act as a fig leaf covering conventional military weakness. Let’s face it, the entire British army is less than half the size of the American Marine Corps alone, and our naval capacity has withered to the point where a repeat of the Falklands Campaign would be inconceivable.

Politicians don’t like to appear powerless; they like to look like big swinging dicks. That’s the real reason why £20 billion will be spent on something which we don’t need, are unlikely ever to need, and will be unable to use should we judge that the circumstances demand it. Ever get the feeling you’re being cheated?

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Glancing at my links list the other day, it occurred to me that most of the bloggers I link to are in the same age group as me. This wasn’t a deliberate decision on my part, that’s just the way things worked out. I suppose it’s understandable as your own peer group are more likely to share your interests (or in my blogroll, hatreds) than callow youths raving about their souped up Vauxhall Novas, or crumblies discussing the merits of various types of mobility scooter.

There are some exceptions to this general rule. The Merkin, Alex, Becca, Rowan and Surly Girl (see links right) where not born in the golden age from 1966 to 1972, and are consequently not part of that exceptionally gifted and extraordinarily good looking generation to which the rest of us are fortunate enough to belong. Despite their general wet behind the earness, they chip in their ha’pence worth, and are more than welcome.

Thinking about demographics more generally, I am reassured to note that by 2025 my generation will out number youthful types. As most of us have had our pensions fucked by Gordon Brown (apart from Cultural Diversity Outreach Officers in the public sector) we will have to rely on the young ‘uns to keep us adequately provided with Guinness, pole dancers, kebabs, and Tunnocks teacakes. Personally I will take great delight in voting for vast increases in taxation levels in order to ensure that I can live in the manner to which I am accustomed.

I suppose we could confine them underground, rather like the Morlocks in 'The Time Machine', only allowing them up for air to provide essential services of a manual and servile nature. Age before beauty I say. By 2025 all pensioners will be equipped with tazers. I for one will have no hesitation in zapping the gormless little twats with 50,000 volts if they get obstreporous, or have the bare faced cheek to speak out of turn.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ready, Steady, Twat.

Having been rather disrespectful (quite correctly in my view) to the (not so) great and (not so) good in recent posts, I feel that it is only right that I should lavish praise on a celebrity. Unfortunately I am not much use at ‘lavishing’, so I will have to restrict myself to bestowing some faint praise on a member of a group that I usually regard with complete and utter distaste: the celebrity chefs.

The celebrity chef seems to have taken over the airwaves. This is hardly surprising when one considers that in terms of cost, cookery programmes are on a par with shite makeover shows hosted by the likes of the ghastly Carol Smilie Smilie. Watching one episode of ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ is enough to have anyone reaching for the sick bag. Some idiot member of the public provides a celeb chef with a bag containing pitta bread, six bean sprouts, a mars bar, and a mackerel. The chef is then expected to come up with something scrumptious while the gurning Ainsley Harriot prances around in the background exclaiming “what are you like?” This has absolutely nothing to do with cookery; it is shite light entertainment that would not have looked out of place on The Generation Game circa 1974.

Gordon Ramsay, ex Rangers football player, and famously foul mouthed top chef has claimed that the show should be called ‘Ready, Steady, Twat’. This, in my view, is a very judicious and considered comment.

Ramsay is the real deal; a guy from a working class background who sees his dreams of becoming a professional footballer dashed, and responds by devoting himself to the attainment of the highest possible standards in a totally unrelated field. By all accounts he is a chef of genius. His swearing will really not be that surprising to anyone who has been inside a restaurant kitchen when everything is going arse up. He just doesn’t tone things down for the TV cameras. As for him being a bully, this is not really borne out when one considers the hordes of young chefs clamouring to work under him.

Apparently he physically ejects journalists from his premises if they have the temerity to criticize his food. Quite right too: I wouldn’t want some Lunchtime O’Booze whose taste buds have been destroyed by years of chain smoking complaining about my food.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Gorgeous George

Britain is not short of prominent public figures that are eminently punchable. The world of the D list celebrity is strewn with talentless poseurs who are principally famous for being famous, and would provide a more appropriate public service by offering up their innards for use in tins of Pedigree Chum dog food.

Our cohorts of fuckwit politicians are even worse. These people are actually elected by popular franchise, and are expected to represent and act in the best interests of their constituents. Fat chance of that: the vainglorious wankers are too engrossed with their own rectums to give a monkeys toss about the welfare of Joe public. Having their massive egos stroked in the full glare of the media is their sole motivation.

‘Gorgeous’ George Galloway is an example of the preening political charlatan in their full repulsive glory. A moustachioed dandy in hand made Italian suits; he is an exemplar of the champagne socialist hypocrisy that sticks in everyone’s craw, regardless of their political persuasion.

Show George a political bandwagon on which he can leap and he is off like a shot. Wrapping himself in the flag of the Palestinian cause, and pontificating on western imperialism, are meat and drink to him. He even got himself a glamorous Palestinian wife to underline his full commitment to the cause.

Lots of people are anti the war in Iraq, but they don’t make inflammatory statements about the west “raping fair Arab maidens”. As a toadying acolyte of Saddam Hussein, it is hard to see how Galloway can regard himself as a champion of the average downtrodden Arab.

It now appears that Galloway has benefited from large sums of money fraudulently obtained from the UN Oil for Food Program. Of course our George was too canny to have the cash lodged in his own bank accounts, but the large sums deposited in his wife’s, and political manager's, accounts point the finger firmly in his direction. The paper trail is apparently sufficient for the US Supreme Court to charge him with perjury, an offence punishable by five years imprisonment.

Big gob Georgie is of course up for it, pleading that the US courts charge him so that he can prove his innocence before the world. I say, go for it George, when you’re found guilty they will hopefully send you to a penitentiary in Alabama which is not air conditioned, and in which the largest inmates will submit your wholly heterosexual torso to a damn good buggering. It’s the least you deserve after saluting Saddam Hussein’s “..strength, courage, and indefatigability”. What a total wanker.

NB Sorry for lack of posting recently. My motherboard went to meet its maker.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pimp My Bouffant.

I was interested to note that Jack McConnell, Scottish First Minister, and widely acclaimed Old Labour political pygmy, has been off to New York to take tea and crumpets (or coffee and bagels) with the charming and urbane Donald Trump.

The United States seems to have a remarkable aptitude for producing multi billionaire tycoons who are complete and utter twats. The nerd like Bill Gates, and suburban homebody Warren Buffet, set the bar pretty high; but good old Trumpie manages to out jump them all with ease.

The man has the most remarkable comb over, the likes of which has not been seen in Britain since the heyday of the likes of Bobby Charlton and Arthur Scargill. Pathetic attempts to cover total male pattern baldness with a few scraped over strands of hair justifiably produced much enjoyment as onlookers yelled: “get a grip you bald twat, you look absolutely fucking ridiculous”.

Trump’s tonsure is even more remarkable as he manages to produce a bouffant effect, which can presumably only be kept in place by the liberal use of industrial strength hair spray. That this bouffant is ginger only adds to the amusement his appearance provokes.

Donald has been loudly proclaiming his Scottish ancestry (his mother was from the Isle of Lewis), and has informed Jack McConnell that he wishes to bring his entrepreneurial flair to the land of the kilt and caber. The poor bastard doesn’t know what he’s letting himself in for. Unlike our American cousins, Britons have a slightly disrespectful attitude towards extremely wealthy individuals. If his first step on Scottish soil is accompanied by a gust of wind which blows his bouffant into a vertical position, he can assured that he will be the recipient of a hearty and merciless piss taking.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Uma! Uma! Uma!

Those of you who peruse the articulate outpourings of the really rather excellent blogger, Tina, over at Cakesniffers Beware, will be aware that she holds the film star Uma Thurman in high esteem.

Tina’s appreciation of the gorgeous Uma is wholly understandable. Uma is indeed a demigod of modern Hollywood, and is fully deserving of her sex on a stick status. As a wielder of a samurai sword she knows few peers, and looks most toothsome as she prances around lopping off heads whilst clad in a fetching yellow jumpsuit.

I had considered posting a photo of Uma, but have decided not to. This is purely for Tina’s own good: there is strong possibility that an unexpected sight of Uma may cause a cerebral haemorrhage, or even the inadvertent spillage of coffee on her keyboard as she swoons over the delectable Thurman curves.

Instead, I bring you Lauren Bacall; Bogart muse, and all round top tottie from an earlier epoch. In many ways she was the Uma Thurman of her era: not quite conventionally beautiful, but oozing sex appeal from every pore.

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Allo Mrs Jones, 'ows yer Bert's lumbago?".

Of all the youth subcultures to emerge in the post war period, the Mods were probably the most distinctive. They epitomised the magpie like British habit of nicking the best influences from abroad and melding them to produce something distinct.

Their clothing was inspired by fifties Italian style: think Cary Grant in ‘Roman Holiday’. They took as their musical template not the smooth processed sound of Motown, but its rougher edged, bluesier, counterpart Stax. They adopted the credo: ‘clean living in difficult circumstances’.

They evolved naturally over the years, developing their own house bands the Who and the Small Faces. Their love of dancing led to the development of a separate soul music centred in the north of England: Northern Soul.

They were the first youth group to use drugs, pills usually; not the cannabis and hallucinogens favoured by their middle class counterparts. They took speed at the weekends to enable them to stay up dancing until 4 in the morning.

They were a short lived group, emerging in 1960 and more or less disappearing by 1967. Their influence has, however, proved remarkably resilient. There was a brief Mod revival in the early 1980’s which was, frankly, a bit sad. They were just slavishly imitating their predecessors, not trying to develop anything new.

The game looked to be over. Then a pair of monobrowed Mancunian gobshites, Oasis, popped up on the Chart Show. I remember thinking at the time: Christ….those are northern Mods. Blur appeared at the same time and were, to all intents and purposes, southern Mods.

The Britpop period was short lived, and produced more style than substance. I thought that was the end of it. Then, last year, a band called Franz Ferdinand appeared out of nowhere and looked like, you guessed it, Mods. You just can’t keep them down; the cheeky cunts.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Brass Monkeys.

According to the Met Office, there is a two out of three chance that this winter will be the coldest for forty years. Changing pressure patterns will, they believe, lead to prevailing winds emanating from Siberia with associated high levels of snow fall over the entire British Isles.

This will be very unpleasant for the elderly poor, who have trouble paying to heat their homes during normal, relatively mild winters. I suppose the government will increase winter fuel payments for those most in need.

I’m hoping for plenty of snow. I love the stuff, and there has been so little over the last few years that I can hardly remember what a snow covered landscape looks like. Most people assume that Scotland gets a lot of snow. This is not the case. The warming effect of the Gulf Stream keeps our temperatures at a level were high levels of snow fall are unlikely. When it does snow, it only stays for a couple of days before melting.

If we get lots of snow this year I will dig my skis out of the attic and head for the Anoch Mor ski centre outside Fort William. I might even have a go at snowboarding.

The photograph above was taken from my front window. It should give you a good indication of why I like snow.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Yer pays yer money, yer takes yer choice.

The days of boarding house signs displaying ‘no Jews, blacks, dogs or Irish’ are thankfully long behind us. A world were such open discrimination was so commonplace as to arouse neither notice nor comment belongs to what seems an antediluvian prehistory of prejudice and contempt for those of a different race, culture or background.

Only in one respect do such attitudes linger. There is still a widespread practise of bed and breakfasts and small hotels refusing to let double bedrooms to those of a homosexual persuasion.

A case of one homophobic bed and breakfast proprietor in the Scottish Highlands has aroused the attention of the national press. It is not his attitude which is any way unusual; it is the open manner in which he expresses his views. He responds to email enquiries from homosexuals by berating them for being “bloody poofters that aren’t welcome under my roof”.

His attitude has provoked the ire of the Scottish Tourist Board, which is attempting to portray Scotland as a gay friendly destination. They rightly point out that the ‘pink pound’ can make a highly valuable contribution to the tourist economy; and that enquiries from homosexuals should be welcomed.

They are of course entirely correct. The problem is that absolutely nothing can be done about it. B&B’s are private houses: there can be no legal obligation for the proprietors to accept bookings from any source. Personally, I think that it’s really a generational thing. I’m sure that such attitudes are in decline, and that such discrimination on grounds of sexual preference will soon be a thing of the past. Those who accept bookings will prosper, develop, and inevitably push the closet bigots to the margins.

I am involved in tourism, and to be honest, I don’t care what people get up to in the privacy of their rooms. As long as they pay up and don’t wreck the gaff, I am entirely sanguine. The only activity at which I would have to draw the line would be group sex involving chickens or migratory wildfowl. With a flu pandemic apparently in the offing that would be downright irresponsible.