Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Apotheosis of the Artichoke

I am clean sprouted out.

I always find the desultory interregnum between Christmas and New year a useful time to contemplate why I hate most green vegetables with a passion greater than Morrisey's penchant for gladioli, or Pamela Anderson's passion for proving that short arse Canuck birds like stuffing spacehoppers up their jumpers.

Asparagus would do, if it wasn't mostly twig. A string bean would be tolerable, if it didn't leave a stray string rotting between my top left molars. I wouldn't say no to a broad bean if it got a bit Mexican and started quaffing tequila and getting a bit stroppy.

No, broad beans aren't for me.

Nor are carrots, which may be orange but are the most pointless vegetable known to humanity.

Anyhoo, here's the Undertones, proving that Derryboys who love their spuds are vastly superior to short arse Dublin pontifcaters like Bono.

I hope you know your onions.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the night before Christmas

....and garfer is half cut. Feeling slightly less misanthropic than usual I wish all my deluded nincompoops a very happy Christmas. I hope nobody gets food poisoning from a dodgy prawn.

May the plums in your pudding prosper. In fact, if you're a male nincompoop, may your plums prosper full stop.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ten Annoying Christmassy Things

* There's always one sweet in the box with a precariously balanced almond on top. One bite and half the almond falls off and rolls under the sofa.

* Everybody hates mince pies, yet everybody feels an inexplicable urge to force them on everybody else.

* People eat After Eight mints and put the empty wrappers back in the box. These people need shooting.

* Big Issue sellers make you feel mildly guilty.

* The Queen.

* Untangling Christmas tree lights. This activity invariably involves high volume cursing and swearing. Personally I'd rather wrestle an octopus.

* Indigestion.

* Squidgy presents. These are usually provided by skinflint relatives who think that a hand knitted jumper with baggy sleeves or a pair of socks are a fair swap for being providing with copious amounts of free food and booze.

* People who think a game of 'Twister' is the perfect way to occupy Christmas Day afternoon.

* Party hats. I have no desire to look a complete twat, whatever the occasion.

Bah humbug!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Do Not Disturb

I am hotelling it at the moment, the expense of which I am defraying by Christmas shopping for items of an inconsequential and paltry nature for my nearest and dearest.

I like the anonymity provided by chain hotels, the sense of living in an enclosed bubble oblivious to workaday concerns. I am firmly convinced that should anything apocalyptic happen I will still be able to phone reception and demand that fresh towels and an extra pillow are dispatched to my room instantly.

It's not quite as good as the Manhattan hotel room where the charming Latino house maid was sensitive to my every need (and then some), but it's still acceptable.

Time is seeping through my pores, and regular meal times and the guilt of sleeping in are a distant memory.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eyeless in Gaza

My animus has been thwarted yet again. Admittedly I'm not on the verge of destitution, or even fearful of the unlikely prospect of mild deprivation, but I am irked, annoyed, and of a mind to detach a leg from one of my occasional tables and insert it forcefully up the nearest bankers rectum.

Assets apparently have no value, and consequently cannot be lent against. This is a worry, as if nothing is worth fuck all we are all comprehensively fucked.

Fucking fuckity muppets the lot of them, the shower of useless bastards.

I think I'll go for a bit of a lie down.

Yo, ho, ho, and remember to avoid Mr Micawber.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Miscellaneous Pleasures

In no particular order:

* An artfully crafted and hand rolled cheroot containing choice Virginia tobaccy.

* The Fender Telecaster

Go on, whack that plank. You know you want to.

* A poke of chips

Fuck off, they're mine.

* Glenmorangie

Imbibeable (which deserves to be a word).

* Cheesy Wotsits

They might smell like your Granddad's underpants, but they're very moreish.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Irritating Things

Blind People

For some reason blind people keep bumping into me and poking me with their sticks. Rude isn't the word.


Constantly forecasted and all we get is freezing rain.

Small Towns

There's always some knob head student claiming that it's great to be back and moaning about seeing the same old faces.


Over rated and stringy.


Used to be cool as fuck but got bloated and sold out to the Injuns.


Employ the mindless morons that narrowly avoided getting a kicking at school. I'm planning to go blind just so that I can poke mine with a pointy stick (or a taser).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Guardian reader does some Christmas shopping

I loathe spending money on other people, preferring (quite sensibly) to fortify my self worth with utilitarian purchases of a wholly justifiable nature that benefit me. I scoff at the crass materialism and wasteful consumerism that has so benighted our shallow and valueless Western cultures.

I laugh at the pallor and anxiety of recession etched faces as they stare at the 50 inch plasma TV's that should rightfully be theirs but have been capriciously snatched from them by the harsh Gods of plastic. I sneer at the wee wifeys loading up on economy concentration camp turkeys at Asda.

If only more people had been sensible about spending money they didn't have this country wouldn't be evaporating like the bubbles in my jacuzzi.

Actually, speaking of jacuzzis, I've decided to launch a special Christmas appeal in aid of myself. I want the new model with complimentary Thai bathing belles and streaming cocktails. It's not too much to ask, and I expect everybody to contribute generously.

Friday, December 12, 2008

French Letter

My French teacher was fresh out of Teacher Training College and exemplified the curvaceous big bosomed come-hitherness that is every 15 year old boys ideal of feminine perfection. It was no bloody wonder none of us could manage French pronunciation, being incapable of saying anything other than a mumbled "dunno Miss" in her pneumatic presence.

I speak very, very poor French as a result of this educational handicap. This doesn't bother me unduly as I can't see much point in being able to speak fluent Froggy. It's not as though they still rule Indochina. If they did I could swan around Hanoi in a crumpled cream linen suit and seduce oriental beauties with my Baudelaire recitations. These days the Viet birds are more likely to invite me to partake in some 'boom boom' in one of their brothels, which isn't very glamorous at all and indicative of the verbal felicity which the Americans left in their bomb strewn wake.

I'm quite satisfied not to be able to speak French as the French clearly have no intention of learning to speak English. Each to their own I say.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dentistry with Dietmar

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a German Harley Davidson riding dentist called Dietmar. Dietmar is efficient, in a brusquely Prussian manner, and does not interrupt his drilling and filling with pointless small talk.

Unfortunately Dietmar is rather out of sorts at the moment as he has acquired a drink driving conviction and is unable to live out his Easy Rider fantasies on his Harley. I have commiserated with him, and berated the idiocies of the British drink driving laws which prevent harmless Germans trundling around on their motorcycles. As such, I am one of Dietmar's favourite patients.

I recently had a prehistoric filling fall out, and having been somewhat tardy in having the matter attended to was unsure of the tooth's future. I asked Dietmar if the tooth could be saved. He replied that "I cannot save ze tooth permanently, but I can apply a temporary filling". Apparently this temporary filling should be good for five years or so, after which it will fall out and can be replaced with another temporary filling. "So it's not really temporary then?", I asked. "No", he said, "it is not temporary, but neither is it permanent".

So that's all right then.

Hegel, eat yer heart out.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Drastic Enteritus

Being firmly convinced that decent drains and proper toilets are the hallmark of all civilized societies I tend more towards armchair travel than the real variety. Other cultures and cuisines are all very well and good, but there is little alluring about fly encircled toilet rims.

Having said that, I do like to dream about exotic destinations and the attractions they offer. I was reading up on Shanghai the other day and was pleased to note that one hotel claimed that all guests were sure to have a 'drastically good time'. I haven't had many drastically good times, so I'm sure it would prove to be an invigorating holiday.

The British economy is definitely going round the U bend, so I think we should all go out and have a drastically good time.

Britain needs drastics.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Toilet Roll Cult

"I dont need a a toilet roll, I wait until I get to work and have a dump there"

That's when I knew I had to sort myself out. I was 27 years old and still renting rooms in manky houses with malignant failed but still aspirant male careerists. It wasn't that bad a house really; the ever so posh landlady and her husband were just across the street and were clearly early adopters on the road to 'buy-to let' Nirvana.

I think it was because the rest of the residents were accountants and solicitors, Next suited Friday night kebab scoffers who had planned out their lives in accordance with the two thirds final salary scheme that would be theirs by right if they ticked all the right boxes and licked the appropriate arses.

No food other than condiments and dried pulses and pasta were kept in the kitchen. Any fool who left anything instantly edible would find it gone the next morning. It was the antithesis of communal living, where anything left unattended would be instantly snaffled and crowed over.

It was really the toilet rolls that got to me. You had to carry yours to the crapper, and make sure you left with it. I'm not sure if it was Thatcherism or Maoism, but it scarred me for life.

To this day I can't share a bathroom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Elegy on the Sad Death of Woolies

Farewell then pick 'n mix,
So much nicer than a boring Twix,
Your plastic scoop has dug its last,
The kiddies treat a daytime fast.

No more cherry lips or candy banana,
A loss of tooth decaying manna,
Plastic lids will no longer flick
To reveal a stripy chewy stick.

I salute thee noble Woolies,
Victim of fiscal heebie jeebies,
We shall not see thy like again,
Nor rummage through thy bargain bin.

W B Garfer

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Posh Git

Cor Blimey am I glad to be shot of that mentalist Yankee bint Madge. The loony cow wouldn't let me have me bangers 'n' mash wiv mushy peas coz she said they wozn't marcobotic or somefink. Couldn't even get a shag coz she spent most of 'er time in an oxygen tent or was off giving it the charitable thing in some stinkin' 'ole in Africar.

Ectually, I'm rather pleased that my ill advised marriage to that lower class gel from Michigan is over. Mater and Pater weren't happy with the union at the time, claiming (quite correctly) that blue blood shouldn't mingle with lower class Eyetie blood. She didn't even know what a fish knife was for!

I don't need her money because I'm Guy Rich Richie. You just can't buy class.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where and Why?

The Grauniad has a very useful section in its Saturday magazine where metrosexual Londoners suggest that we all move to some provincial hell hole where the air is cleaner, a blow job behind the gas works costs a fiver, and there are several local state schools in which your offspring will learn how to do sums and write in short poorly punctuated sentences.

Last weeks Shangri La was Lancaster. I haven't been to Lancaster, and although I'm sure it's very nice I have absolutely no desire to visit the place let alone live there. One of the locals opined that: "Lancaster has a healthy arts scene, lesbian community, cycling fraternity and is a stronghold of the Green party. It's full of artists and musicians, with Freehold its Latin Quarter!

I suppose it would be mildly diverting watching sandal wearing lesbo cycling groups pedalling about telling people off for using plastic carrier bags, but the novelty would probably wear off pretty quickly. Whenever anyone tells you that a town has a thriving arts scene this invariably means that the rest of the place resembles a post apocalyptic wasteland and is patrolled by squads of inebriated morons in search of arty types to kick the shit out of.

Being a sensitive soul I'm sure that Lancaster isn't the place for me. Perhaps I should try somewhere safer like Moss Side, or Toxteth.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Toad Work

Toads Revisited
by Philip Larkin

Walking around in the park
Should feel better than work:
The lake, the sunshine,
The grass to lie on,

Blurred playground noises
Beyond black-stockinged nurses -
Not a bad place to be.
Yet it doesn't suit me.

Being one of the men
You meet of an afternoon:
Palsied old step-takers,
Hare-eyed clerks with the jitters,

Waxed-fleshed out-patients
Still vague from accidents,
And characters in long coats
Deep in the litter-baskets -

All dodging the toad work
By being stupid or weak.
Think of being them!
Hearing the hours chime,

Watching the bread delivered,
The sun by clouds covered,
The children going home;
Think of being them,

Turning over their failures
By some bed of lobelias,
Nowhere to go but indoors,
Nor friends but empty chairs -

No, give me my in-tray,
My loaf-haired secretary,
My shall-I-keep-the-call-in-Sir:
What else can I answer,

When the lights come on at four
At the end of another year?
Give me your arm, old toad;
Help me down Cemetery Road.

Work is a vastly overrated activity, an unpleasant obligation rendered necessary by the need to earn money. Some people make the fatal error of imbuing their chosen 'career' with life defining qualities before promptly dropping dead on a golf course when they retire. Capitalism, with its inevitable recessions, only makes matters worse by causing much existential angst when work evaporates. Not only is the sense of self worth punctured by the loss of a job, the ensuing financial agony means that you can't even afford to be miserable in comfort.

The only solution to this hideous con trick that I can see is either to make enough money never to have to rely on a salary again, or quit the whole sordid business and live on the range of benefits which so many of the terminally bone idle seem to get by on so happily.

Personally I would be quite content to be a jet setting flaneur with a healthy private income. I'm not so keen on the idea of existing on frozen Iceland pizzas and litre bottles of cheap potent cider, but even that beats the prospect of sitting in an office with people I hate for eight hours a day.

Perhaps I need counselling to reanimate the Protestant work ethic which was briefly mine for ten minutes in 1996. I really could do with some motivational tips as I'm seriously toying with the idea of squandering everything on having a very nice time for the next five years and letting the long term future go hang.

Carpe diem and all that.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I'm so bored with the USA

Barack bleedin' Obama. Every newspaper I open has a six page spread on the big eared wunderkind and his impossibly photogenic family. Apprently he's a Frankenstein liberal cobbled together from the best bits of every successful US president from Lincoln to JFK.

OK, so he's black; but not too black. Personally I'm more impressed that the Americans are astute enough to have elected a gangly dude with big sticky out ears. Lincoln's shell likes were quite striking, and Lyndon Johnson's aural appendages virtually swept along the carpet. One wrote the Gettysburg address and the other introduced the 'Great Society'.

I'm expecting great things from bug a lugs.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Apparently we're all due to start sneezing blood and drowning in our own lung fluid any day now. I'm quite excited by this as I've always fancied strolling down the street ringing my bell and shouting 'bring out yer dead'.

I don't see what all the fuss is about. Given that flu pandemics usually effect city dwellers I should be safe if I decide to live in a cave and subsist on tinned sardines and cider. I may have to use my tin opener to fend off any thieving vagrants attempting to steal my stash, but you have to be tough if you want to survive.

Perhaps It'll be like The Day of the Triffids and I'll be able to hole up in a nice old farm house with some other hardy survivors. We'll drink vintage claret and listen avidly to short wave radio. A shotgun or two will come in handy, and thankfully that's just the sort of thing you tend to find in old farm houses.

Surviving appeals as there would be no excuse for not eating all the tinned and processed foods that I could lay my hands on. Booze is particularly rich in nutrients, so all cellars and sideboards would have to be thoroughly searched.

It would all be more Marx Brothers than Mad Max, and it it would certainly be more fun than worrying about the size of my overdraft.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Going, Going,...............Gorn.

I an vamoosing, pissing off to greener pastures, dancing the light fandango as I prepare to step fearlessly into the wilds of untamed Cumbria. With little more than a knapsack, a gnarled walking stick, and a bar of Kendal mint cake I will subsist on the bounty provided by mother nature. I shall drink deep of her pendulous udder as I sleep 'neath the stars and a gentle breeze ruffles my tent.

The truth, I am afraid, is rather more prosaic.

A comfortable warm cottage and lots of eating and drinking are a more realistic and desirable prospect. I shall take a few short untiring strolls, as long as there aren't any steep slopes and it isn't raining (which it will be).

I'm hoping that Julia Bradbury will be about, doing her hiking thing. Being ,as always, the perfect gentleman I shall offer to massage her weary limbs..

Which will be nice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Strange Death of Cremola Foam

I get a bit fed up with the current obsession with wholesome organic foodstuffs. Personally I'm not prepared to pay more for a carrot that has been doused in rose water and gently massaged by an oriental lady before being gently eased from the earth. It won't taste any different from a normal carrot, and I'm sure it won't be any more good for me.

If you ask me our life expectancy has been vastly increased due to the range of chemically enhanced foodstuffs which were ingested during the 1970's and 1980's. Each of us should be grateful for the role that the likes of Vesta Beef Curry and Findus Crispy Pancakes played in boosting our juvenile immune systems.

Unfortunately, due to unfathomable corporate shenanigans, the recipe for the great Cremola Foam has gone AWOL. I used to like the stuff: not that I can remember much about it apart from the Liver Salts explosive fizz that used to erupt when it came in contact with water. All I do know is that it obviously didn't contain any natural ingredients whatsoever, and was consequently a very good thing indeed.

I think I last espied a tin lurking at the back of my grandmothers larder in 1977, or thereabouts. If I recall correctly it had a faded label and a fine encrustation around the lid.

I don't think Cremola Foam was universally popular, being more common in Scotland and Northern Ireland than England, but it certainly left an indelible mark on those who ingested it. If anyone is lucky enough to find a tin behind the jam jar of assorted screws in their garden shed they are respectfully requested to send it to HM Govt Biological and Chemical Warfare Dept, Porton Down, England.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bad Losers

Johnny Frenchman has been having a moan about Agincourt again. Apparently the dastardly Eeeengleeesh were no better than war criminals, executing the flower of French knighthood when they really should have offered them prunes and custard.

It's a tough old life being a Frenchie. Let's face it, it's hard when you're rubbish at war and elect big noses and stack heeled dwarves as President. I say saucisson to them.

I'd give that Carla Bruni one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bruvvers (Boring Political Stuff)

I hate the British Labour Party with a passion. I hated the donkey jacket (middle class poseurs) clad university lefties who polluted 80's Student Unions, spouting bollocks while quaffing subsidised beer and demanding that the bar be renamed to honour Nelson Mandela. I hated the oleaginous Blair and his spurious Everyman posturings as he informed us that 'things can only get better'.

The one thing the Labour Party can be guaranteed to do is ensure that the working class remains working class. A combination of crap schools, debilitating welfare benefit culture, and a bloated public sector dependent on taxpayer largesse see to that.

Unfortunately no one likes to admit to voting Conservative, as this means you are irredeemably evil and a lick spittle for the vile capitalist overlords. If you live on the Celtic fringe you won't dare admit to voting Conservative, as this makes you a lover of the evil Thatcher (destroyer of clapped out loss making shipyards and steelworks) and could result in a severe kicking.

My real problem with the current crop of Labourites is that they haven't done an honest days work in their lives, progressing from Sociology Degrees to lecturing at glorified Polytechnics or managing Cultural Diversity Outreach Policy for local councils. Ask them what a balance sheet is and they'll think you're referring to trampolining.

Of course the Liberal Democrats (what a stupid name for a political party) are just as bad,if not worse, in this respect. As for the Tories, they appear to have been captured by a coterie of Eton and Oxbridge slimeballs who are of independent means and are clearly only interested in politics for the sake of power and self glorification.

I really think that I should be dictator. I wouldn't be a very good dictator as I don't much like telling people what to do, but at least I wouldn't make it compulsory for people to carry around a fucking card to prove who they are.

Oh, and I'd bury Coldplay alive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You will know me by the trail of my dead

Some people have phobias; I'm cool with that, but some people are so foaming at the mouth phobic about inconsequentials that they really should be bound, gagged, and chucked in the nearest canal.

This is the time of year when Mr Mousey Mouse likes to come in and play. He is annoying, I'll grant you; what with his incontinence and penchant for chewing everything to shreds. They don't bother me much, mice; I just catch or poison the little buggers. As far as I'm concerned they're just an iritating fact of life like hangovers, or politicians.

Unfortunately I had another guest from hell last week who subjected me to a tirade of abuse because a mouse had got into her house. She seemed to think that it is a policy of mine to let vermin infested houses to Joe Public. How does she expect me to stop intrepid rodents from gaining ingress? Perhaps I should erect machine gun towers and lace the boundaries with anti personnel mines.

She reported me to the Environmental Health, who laughed and marked her complaint down as 'unsubstantiated'.

Mad bint.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Consolations of Philosophy

I'm not sure if I prefer Schopenhauer or the great E L Wisty. It's a toss up between Wisty's ruminations on the evils of macism and old Schopes musings on romantic love. I'd quite like to have them both round to dinner as it would be a great privilege to witness the dialectical sparks fly as these two great minds tussled over the nature of philosophical truth.

I don't know a great deal about philosophy, but I would have made a good Epicurean as I'm fond of my grub.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Forward the Buffs!

It's official: modern music is rubbish.

I'm staring at my shelves of CDs and thinking: shall I copy this cornucopia of musical wonderfulness to my hard drive? No, I won't, because I never listen to 99% of it and I probably never will. I could put it on shuffle on my iPod I suppose, but that would be random just for the sake of it pointlessness.

I'm sure that there's lots of exciting music about, there always is. It's just that I'm increasingly of the opinion that it happens in clubs with audiences of less than one hundred people. The air will be humid with sweat, the wooden floor will resonate the bass up your spinal column, you will leave uplifted and profoundly deaf. It won't sound the same recorded. It'll sound even worse when you're standing in a large field waving a flag with 50,000 other mongs.

I've decided not to listen to any more contemporary music. From now on it's the collected works of the really rather lovely Billy Chldish for me. It should take until at least 2020 to get through them all.

So that's all right then.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Down on the Farm

My paternal grand parents were farmers. I'm quite proud about this as it gives me roots in a bucolic world where TB riddled milk was sold to shoeless urchins in industrial conurbations. They didn't stick to milk, the auld folks; they were mixed farmers which meant there were honking pigs, gormless sheep, and irritating chickens pecking about industriously and completely pointlessly. They also had lots of cats, which were good for kicking if you were at a loose end.

My father had a head fit in his early forties and decided that he would inhale the family vapours and forgo his progress in academe for the delights of shovelling out vast steaming mires of cow shit in the depths of winter. Back to the simple life: lugging about bales of hay to pleasure bovine morons, acquiring an unhealthy obsession with the weather forecast, becoming decidedly masturbatory when presented with a Massey Ferguson tractor.

Happy days. Well, he lasted a year before reverting to type.

Farming is only tolerable if you are Hugh Fearnley Whittginstall (Huge Fairly Windscreen Wiper) and are an Eton and Oxbridge educated toff with a large trust fund, contacts in the meedja, and difficult hair.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The best of times and the worst of times

I once almost missed school dinner at Primary School; an older ruffian relieving of me my last ball-bearing during a crunch game of marbles and grinning as I was left bereft and inconsolable.

Thankfully a couple of older kids recognised my distress and led me to the dinner hall. I'd lost my ticket, but the dinner ladies still let me in. Everyone else had eaten and left so that was my first solo dining experience. The service was a bit amateurish, but I got the full three courses and cheered up immediately.

Who needs ball-bearings anyway? It's not as though we're all cut out to be Andrew Carnegie.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Some chairs are made for looking at, some are made for sitting in. I hate to paraphrase the late John Lennon, that arrogant deeply damaged individual, but he was right.

Narrowness: a simple seam of pure gold that has been mined and remined in search of the last elusive nugget. Seasick Steve is odd, it's almost as though he's been invented for some X Factor demographic of males who exist in permanent obeisance to Robert Johnson. It's almost too simple, too rudimentary to be valid.

But it works.

The girl in the mauve top isn't so sure. In fact, she looks positively censorious.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Imponderables for the Weekend

Why do people put prawns in fish pie? They go all rubbery and 'orrible.

Why do bankers assume they know more about people's business's than the owners do when they don't even know sweet FA about their own?

What is the point of Canada?

Why are MTV Europe proposing to honour Rick 'Ghastly' Astley? Surely it can't have anything to do with his dancing? He always looked like he was stumbling around in callipers to me.

Why do people like Bruce Springsteen? He's a calliper dancer as well, and you can't be a blue collar man of the people when you're loaded.

Why has Madonna started wearing big pants? Dead frightening.

Why am I very confused and obviously not made for these times?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Undead

I have just purchased a notebook computer from one of the undead. I don't make a habit of buying stuff from pasty faced vampires, but after a good 30 minutes spent flailing my arms and pleading for assistance from various acned bum fluff upper lipped 'sales' assistants I couldn't be choosy about who to grace with my plastic.

Computer salesmen aren't really up on the finer points of the customer/provider nexus, probably because they spent their formative years masturbating over grainy images of Pamela Anderson on low res monitors. Either that or they were too engrossed in endless online role play gaming sessions to master the intricacies of real world interaction with flesh and blood people.

Mr Moonface the Vampire obviously hadn't had a sniff of vitamin D in the last decade or so. To look unhealthier he would have to have been brought up in a cellar and fed on pork scratchings and Irn Bru. I suspect that he must have been, judging from the wide range of facial and bodily tics that he displayed.

I'm beginning to think that PC World must recruit their staff from the pool of ex mortuary attendants who have been dismissed for displaying necrophiliac tendencies. Perhaps next time I visit I'll dole out some fake tanning cream, just to drop a subtle hint.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Down in Daaaarset

Tess Durbeyfield was a cracking bird, make no mistake. Down in Dorset things got a bit depressing, what with bastard children, drunken yokel fathers, and pursed lipped church goers giving her the old heave ho.

Life's tough in RobertHardyland. I haven't been there, but the brochure looks nice.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bath or Bawth?

They've done one of those 'which is the stupidest accent in the British Isles' surveys again. They seem to have one every five minutes or so, and always conclude that people from Birmingham sound like gormless thickos. If I was from Birmingham I'd take umbrage. It's as though they hold the surveys on a regular basis to remind the Brummies that they sound like retarded morons, just so they don't start to get ideas above their station.

Personally I don't mind The Brummie accent, it's just an inoffensive droning monotone. A strong Belfast accent (once memorably described as 'like listening to a Glaswegian being strangled') is much harsher on the ear. As for Liverpudlians, they go in for a stream of conciousness gibberish which is comprehensible only to other Liverpudlians.

If you want to hear a really stupid accent you have to go to Devon, where centuries of inbreeding have not only produced a population of one eyed eunuchs but resulted in a sheep shagging yokel accent that definitively puts the hay in seed.

The Brummies should hold their heads high, they mightn't be popular as call centre recruits, but at least their speech is comprehensible. It's just a pity that they sound depressed all time. They really should hold a survey to find if suicides in Birmingham exceed the national average.

Perhaps I'll join the Samaritans and try to stop the Brummies from killing themselves. I should be able to talk them round, If I can stop myself guffawing at their accent.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Badiddlyboing Idaho

Sat quietly minding my own business (contemplating impending bankruptcy, nekkid Uma Thurman - that kind of thing) in my favourite Chinese restaurant I was somewhat perturbed when a large party of baseball cap wearing Americans burst through the doors.

They were definitely from hicksville; possibly Iowa, or North Dakota, but more probably Boise Idaho. There was much settling of bubble perms and rearrangement of baseball caps as they sat down to contemplate the menu. One of them exclaimed: "Gee, I can't believe we're about to eat Chinese in Scaaatland!.

What, I felt like asking, is so unusual about eating Chinese food in Scotland? What did they expect? Compulsory haggis and neeps? A chunk of smoked salmon served with a side order of lightly sautéed sporran? They must have been really confused when the Chinese waiter taking their order spoke with a Glaswegian accent.

I dare say it was a culturally enriching experience for them. Seeing the Loch Ness monster won't even come close when it comes to funding their store of after dinner anecdotes back home in Boise.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cash is King

I imagine that lots of people are having a quiet chortle at the vicissitudes currently being suffered by the masters of the universe as their financial fairyland dissolves. The word hubris springs to mind, and it's hard to muster much sympathy for the arrogant spendthrifts of Wall Street and the City of London.

Unfortunately it's the little people who will suffer most: the secretaries, the menial clerks, the man who sorts the post. It's worth sparing them a thought when observing the Merrill Lynch 'stampeding herd' careering into a brick wall as a consequence of greed and stupidity. The big brains have proved to be a useless bunch of shysters.

Putting your money under the mattress has never been a good idea, but in current circumstances it may be the only method of ensuring a good nights sleep.

Cash is definitely king. I'd sleep on mine, if I had any.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Brave New World

The elderly huddle outside, cradling cigarettes in their gnarled hands as the rain sweeps under the awning. Inside the atmosphere has been drained, the winking and trilling fruit machine a forlorn paean to conviviality. Instead of a tobacco fug the air is redolent with efflatus and neat cleaning fluid.

The perfect public house has never existed: Orwell's The Moon Under Water was fictional, and even if it had existed would only have appealed to reactionary old men wearing tweed jackets with leather elbow patches. Everyone probably has their own ideal; ranging from bright modernist 'spaces' where elaborate cocktails are shaken by antipodean barmen to troglodyte taverns with booths suited to louche conspiracies.

Each to their own.

Apparently pubs are closing in record numbers, caught in the pincer movement of the smoking ban and alcohol taxes. I'm convinced that the smoking ban is the principal cause, removing the pub smell that obliterated the malodorous vapours emanating from the regulars. My nostrils can achieve a similar workout standing in a bus shelter, so why pay huge sums of money for beer at a hostelry?

Stuff is bad for us, so the legislators must legislate against stuff. Sometimes I think they're trying to force us into a clean white prison where mortality is illegal. Drop some Prozac and do your aerobics dear; you'll be healthier, fitter, happier, and you may get to live a bit longer on your meagre pension.

In Scotland they are planning to ban the display of cigarettes in newsagents. Under the counter items are illicit, and hence desirable. This should see sales soar.

We are governed by geniuses.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Rum Affair

My Bosun Higgs has been rather fractious of late. He is convinced that if we do not change course soon we will either be capsized by sea monsters or fall off the edge of the earth.

He's always been a suspicious sort, dispensing home spun wisdom and old wives tales when in his cups. I am constantly amazed by his rum fuelled loquacity, though I have to say that I am less than happy with his unhealthy interest in my cabin boy, Master Bates. Seaman Staines has informed me that on more than one occasion he has had reason to suspect that Bosun Higgs is more fond of sodomy than rum and the lash.

The bounder may well find himself at the sharp end of my cat o' nine tails, or peering at a sharks grin from the end of the plank. Standards at sea must be maintained, and I will have no hesitation in making an example of one errant crewman in order to ensure the maintenance of a happy ship.

One just can't be too careful.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Black Flowers Blossom

This really should be digitally encoded, strapped to a satellite, and blasted off to the farthest corners of the universe. There it will be swallowed by a black hole and disgorged for the enjoyment of bemused Cadbury's Smash eating aliens.

Or something.

Take from it what you will.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hail Palin!

I was most gratified to learn that after over 300 years of inexplicable obduracy the North American Colonials have finally had the good sense to choose a polite, well spoken, and erudite Englishman as a candidate for high political office.

I'm not sure about that John McCain. I've always been suspicious of men with square heads, and there's definitely a hint of the oblong about McCain's cranium. He looks like a suitable candidate for trepanning to me.

Michael Palin will make a perfect VP, restraining McCain's bellicose instincts with his self deprecating wit and debonair gentleman's distaste for ostentatious displays of military vulgarity.

Michael's influence will ensure that tea drinking is declared compulsory. He will also make daily 'God Save the Queen' sing-a-longs obligatory, and insist that any American who fails to realise that the word 'jaguar' has three syllables is encased in a straitjacket and confined to a mental institution for life.

Some semblance of sanity appears to returning in America. I just hope it lasts.

* This post is a bit wordy for MJ, so I suggest that instead of struggling to read it she feast her gaze on the penis/log displayed below. I know that she likes this sort of thing.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008





Apparently Canucks like to pig out on macaroni cheese. This is a strong point in their favour, but one completely counter weighed by their inexplicable liking for the ghastly poutine.

I can't bring myself to post a photo of this foul foodstuff, and I definitely won't be emigrating any time soon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


My Great Aunt Maggie almost married a man who was "deciding how to spend my money!": but she didn't. This was a sensible decision, a fine display of rationality that had unfortunate repercussions for both herself and my uncles.

It wasn't that big a house, but it was Georgian: nicely proportioned; with a brook, and bells for the servants. Time had settled there, and the accretions of generations expanding their demesne had leant the place a reassuring solidity: clocks ticked, cornices crumbled, the anti antimacassars had less and less call for laundering.

Maggie ended up in an annex, what one would today call a granny flat. She didn't yell and flail, she carried herself magnificently even when stooped.

It was after the Great War, and most women couldn't afford to be choosy. Maggie was, and I salute her for it. She had a look about her, which my childish self saw as malevolent witchcraft.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Pigs are intelligent creatures, I've always felt guilty about eating them. Dogs are retards in comparison; you won't find your average porker licking it's balls, or chasing the postman's van in a gormless fashion. We don't eat Fido, although by rights we should.

I wish I could desist from eating pork. Very tasty it is, but I can't help but feel a bit of a cannibal as I tuck into a nice juicy chop. I have no doubt that were I to detach an infants limb with a chainsaw and roast it with some shallots the resultant meal would be as redolent with porcine unctuousness as Mr Piggy.

It's no surprise that Pacific island cannibals used to refer to Johnny sailorman as 'longpig' as they simmered him with some fragrant herbs in a big pot. Being a white fellah they probably thought he was an exotic variety of pig anyway, so you can't really blame them.

Perhaps the war on obesity could be won by forcibly detaching beer bellies and roasting them slowly with honey and star anise. Fat tasty grub would be guaranteed for all and there would be fewer wobbly folk ambling about.

That would definitely be a hog roast to remember.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Potency of Cheap Popular Music

Top tunes don't date, they don't evolve, they don't transmogrify; they remain in the cave of their making, working the dying fall.

Here are two that, if politics and ancestral hatreds are ignored, have the shared quality of yearning.

I quite like the latter because Stu is sat beneath an early 'Liquorice Allsorts' period Francis Bacon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Roman brings home the Bacon

I was interested to learn that Russian tycoon Roman Abramovitch recently spent $86.3 million on a Francis Bacon triptych. Of course that sum of money is a measly amount to Roman, who accumulates football clubs, trophy wives, and super yachts as mere baubles to display on the mantelpiece of his inflated ego.

I wonder what it is about Bacon that attracted Roman. Was it the nihilism? Was it the anguished depictions of the human form as little more than hunks of convoluted meat? Was it the despair at the futility of the human condition? Personally I doubt that it was any of these. When it comes to art I imagine that Roman would much prefer a tableaux of swaddled babushkas cavorting in the Russian snows executed in lurid acrylics.

I doubt that it was even seen as an investment; why invest in genius when commodities dug from the earth might provide a better return? Abramovitch is typical of the new rich: an uneducated, uncultured money grubber with about as much aesthetic vision as a myopic moose. Roman buys a Bacon because he can afford to. He hangs it as he imagines that he can bask in the glow of genius, a man of substance disporting his good taste.

I wouldn't want a Bacon; it's not just that there was more than a whiff of the devil about the man, it's also the horror that he depicts. His vision may have been an appropriate response to the violence and brutality of the twentieth century, but as much as I admire his visceral and startling images I certainly wouldn't want one hanging on my wall.

Call me an ignoramus if you like, but I'd much prefer this:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Credit Control

To: The BBC

The Bedford Hotel
Bognor Regis

Dear Sir,

In reply to yours of 17th January.

It seems to me that a considerable mistake, to put it politely, has been made. It was "mistakes" of this sort that caused me to tell Mr David Thomson when he first approached me to write a radio-play about Captain Kidd, that I was unwilling to undertake further work for the BBC owing to their slipshod methods of payment.

This script was only undertaken on the understanding that payment for my work would be prompt and expeditious. I returned your form to you only on completion and delivery of the script. No money was forthcoming under the terms of the contract.

On Friday last I made a special journey to Rothwell House to see the producer, who wanted some alterations made and one scene added. He assured me that if this was done the play would be definitely accepted. Mr David Thomson was present throughout the interview and will corroborate my statement.

But in view of the manner in which the matter of payment has been handled, I must be firm in requesting full payment (30 guineas) by Thursday next, or my permission to broadcast will be withheld. Of course half the fee will be forthcoming as repayment for my time and trouble. Please do not worry me with further correspondence – except a cheque for the sum stated as I'm a busy man* and detest writing letters.

Why, by the way, was your letter addressed to Bayswater Road when my telegram explicitly specified above address? Please rectify this additional error when replying to me, by cheque, this time.

Yours very truly,

J Maclaren-Ross

Some people just can't manage money. This may be due to sheer financial ineptitude, pie-in-the-sky insouciance, or an inability to recognize that a minus figure at the bottom of a bank statement is a very bad thing indeed. I can't claim to be a paragon myself in this respect, but having experienced financial misery on a number of occasions am rather more careful with my hard earned these days.

There is another class of person that spends all their money as soon as they get it, but does not allow their temporary embarrassment to compromise their lifestyle in the slightest. Friends are sponged off of, bouncing cheques are issued, and various creditors are led a merry dance in pursuit of what is rightfully theirs.

Julian Maclaren Ross was an exemplar in this field, not slow to take umbrage when payment that he felt was his due was not dispatched swiftly, but a total amnesiac when it came to paying hotel bills, boarding house landladies, or publicans who were foolish enough to allow him a bar tab.

You have to admire his style.

*in the pub.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ever wished you'd just stayed in bed?

Poor Jim Reid. All those years spent in a Scottish council house perfecting your Lower East Side Manhattan cool in front of your bedroom mirror have come to naught. Not only does the dickhead Letterman introduce you as an 'English band', he also lands you with the bass player from hell.

It's ok for William Reid, he can just gaze at his shoes and get on with his twiddly business. There's no escape for Jim, his studied 'I wear sunglasses indoors' cool is well and truly punctured by a pony tailed dork in a red jacket jumping up and down like Tigger on amphetamines.

If you watch carefully you can clearly see him making a 'you're a wanker' gesture at Tigger.

It's only rock 'n' roll boys and girls.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

1966 and all that

Having been born at the extreme fag end of the 1960's I didn't make it to San Francisco to wear some flowers in my hair. I didn't have the opportunity to drop acid with Timothy Leary, nor did I have a backstage pass to Woodstock. The nearest I got to turning on, tuning in, and dropping out was a Farleys rusk and a dummy tit.

Likewise, I missed out on Punk, being at the age where Brotherhood of Man's 'Kisses for Me' was the acme of musical cool. I didn't see the Sex Pistols at Manchester Free Trade Hall, I didn't start my own fanzine, and the nearest I got to sniffing glue was an Airfix kit.

All in all I missed out: the Smiths did provide some compensation, but the ghastly Duran Duran and assorted permed hair guitar soloists more or less ruined everything.

Of course every decade is essentially shite. As far as I can see most people in the 1960's dug coal out of the ground for a living, holidayed in Skegness, and wore nylon shirts. The food was inedible, the cars were crap, and small boys were forced to wear NHS specs and Startrite shoes. The 1960's sucked, big time.

Here's Grace Slick, who used to be a cracking bird before she got fat and old, giving her view of 1966.

The other bad thing about 1966 was England winning the World Cup, an achievement they haven't had the good grace to shut up about since.

I suppose this was OK.

Not much else was.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Cheer


I'm standing in Paphos market marvelling at the shuffling masses of British tourists leering at cheap booze, fags, and leather belts with Man Utd buckles. An acrylic silkscreen Madonna sways in the dessicated breeze, a Cypriot crone languorously scratches her arse.

It's the dryness that gets to you, the sense that your innards are a reservoir on the verge of permanent exhaustion. Everything aspires to dust, is working towards its own depletion. The power shower in the hotel still functions, the water slides are still alive with yollering children, but the air has almost surrendered.

And then a shower, a brief belligerent flurry that would delight a parched Yorkshireman's whiskers batters the stones. Everybody cheers. Not a football chant, more a communal cathartic yelp of deliverance.


Weather sets in from the west. The average will be well maintained.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Olympic Tiddlywinks

I hate all team sports with a passion. I put this antipathy down to being forced to play rugby by a perverted little games master who liked to watch our blue limbs as we skidded across the perma frost. I've equated moustachioed dwarves with sadism ever since.

I suppose individual sports aren't so bad. At least you can watch cute birds in tight lycra disport themselves gymnastically, or marvel at the girth of female shot putters thighs. To be honest I don't know why they go to all that effort to try and win a gold foil wrapped chocolate. It's not as though you can spend it or anything.

Tiddlywinks should definitely be an Olympic sport. It requires skill, dexterity, and steely eyed determination. I think I might have what it takes to represent Britain at tiddlywinks. It would be good as I could chain smoke while playing and put off the dastardly Chinese competitors by blowing smoke rings in their eyes.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Feck Off

I like to think of myself as a reasonably generous individual, always ready to lend a hand to needy souls. Unfortunately some people just take the piss and are in need of a good slapping. I'm thinking in particular of the guests a couple of years ago who booked a lodge for four and then arrived with a caravan. They seriously expected me to allow an additional three people to stay in the caravan.

Unbelievable, although I suppose I should have allowed them some points for chutzpah.

Here's some caravan hell.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dutch Cap

You can't really have a go at the Dutch because they're just so inoffensive. What is there to criticize about the culture and habits of hurdygurdymen who like 'guitar based 1970's rock music, yah!'?

Even their well known tolerance of deviants isn't an outcome of prurience or hedonism, but the manifestation of an ingrained Calvinism. Not the hair shirt and 'ban all pictures of boobies' Calvinism of your average Scots Presbyterian; rather the 'each man shall seek out his own salvation' variant. This means that you can get up to anything you want. The Dutch live in 'the low country' and have no objection whatsoever to you going down.

It makes sense: what could possibly demystify drugs more than the soporific sad old hippy boredom of a Amsterdam dope cafe? As for the fat bints displaying their cellulite in shop windows, nothing could dissuade the average Joe from visiting prostitutes more.

The Dutch are also all middle class and determinedly unflashy. They might own just about everything in Europe but you won't catch them flashing Rolexes and boasting about their Bentleys.

The canals of Amsterdam may resemble the concentric circles of hell to some folk but the place gets my vote every time. As far as I can see the only drawback with being Dutch would be speaking English in a ridiculous accent. That would be a big drawback, but not as big a drawback as coming from Birmingham.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't Let's be Beastly to the Germans

Don't let's be beastly to the Germans
When the age of peace and plenty has begun.
We must send them steel and oil and coal and everything they need
For their peaceable intentions can be always guaranteed.
Let's employ with them a sort of 'strength through joy' with them,
They're better than us at honest manly fun.
Let's let them feel they're swell again and bomb us all to hell again,
But don't let's be beastly to the Hun.

Noel Coward

Jurgen the German is back in force this year. The whole country is groaning under the weight of panzer division BMW's driven by Evas and Hermans, the morning air redolent with bratwurst and sauerkraut.

I pride myself on my ability to spot a German from twenty paces. They have a very particular smart casual style, the emphasis clearly on the smart with well pressed denims and immaculate mountain jackets in lurid colours. They also all wear expensive spectacles, which I take to be a particular German fetish. It's probably a displacement for lederhosen.

Germany's somewhere we don't tend to holiday. I don't know why; it has beautiful countryside, cities with magnificent culture and architecture, and damn fine beer. I don't think it's got much to do with the war any more. We don't have to suffer the cringe factor of being the poor neighbours, and we can't use the excuse of not speaking the lingo as most Germans speak English.

I think it's probably because the Germans are too much like us. Worse than that, they're better at being us than we are: better at football, better beer drinkers, better sausage eaters, better at building cars.

Perhaps we should just declare ourselves a province of Germany. Things could only get better, and we wouldn't have to suffer being governed by Scotsmen.

It's worth a thought.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Louis MacNeice - The Sunlight on the Garden

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

Warm, innit?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gasteruption jaculator (Linnaeus, 1758)

Gasteruption jaculator is a name to conjure with: intimations of coitus interruptus abound; a hint of premature ejaculation colours the picture; indigestion raises its hand. I do like a bit of Latin me. Although not much versed in the classics, I do think that as archaic languages go it's pretty hard to beat for scientific classification purposes.

Gaster, as I will henceforth refer to this beastie, is conclusive proof that nature adores a practical joke. Just imagine that you are a giant wood wasp who has just gone to the trouble of inserting your ovipositor in a pine tree trunk. The strain, the grunting exertion leading to the deposit of a mini me larva who will dine on pine tree for up to five years before emerging to indulge in giant wood wasp whoopee fills you with satisfaction.

Along comes Gaster to spoil your party. Her ovipositir laughs in the face of your puny proboscis. She listens for juniors cheerful munching and then inserts her larva in juniors to thoroughly ruin his day. The muncher has become a munchee.

Life's a bitch, unless you're Bill Oddie.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Tingle in Your Dingle

Pain and pleasure are closely linked sensations; how else can we explain the delightful burning sensation produced by the chilli pepper? It burns, it makes your eyes water, you sweat profusely, you suffer the dreaded 'ring sting' the next morning: why do you do it?

I am a chilli addict. The things are addictive, that irresistible curry craving that overcomes me is down to the humble little birds eye chillies lurking in the balti gloop. Apparently it's all down to the body's release of endorphins, a natural opiate that has a calming effect. Feeling stressed and flushed my dear? Have a vindaloo; it may heat you up, but it'll soon cool you down.

Rather like a heroin addict, the chilli head develops resistance. Intake occurs with increasing frequency, the level of tolerable burn on an inexorable upward path. Before long you find yourself casting lustful gazes at the big daddy of the chilli universe: the Scotch Bonnet.

It's a pretty name for a malevolent bastard with enough ooomph to power a moon rocket. It looks innocuous enough, a plump little fellow that deceives the unwary into a foolish complacency. It squats in the sauce like a satisfied little toad, waiting patiently to release its evil on the taste buds.

If you really, really hate someone the best thing to do is secrete one in their sandwich or their undergarments. You will reflect on their tormented screams with pleasure for years.

A point to bear in mind is that chillies and genitalia do not make happy bedfellows. A high concentration of nerve endings jangling excruciatingly as they respond to a gentle chilli embrace is a somewhat less than pleasant experience, a pain only alleviated by dousing the effected organ with milk or yoghurt. This is unlikely to appeal to most people, unless they're Max Mosley (who isn't even slightly a Nazi at all).

Have you ever had a tingle in your dingle? I'd love to know.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Steak Frites

Being an unrepentant carnivore I take considerable delight in a nice well aged piece of rump or sirloin cooked rare and served with bernaise sauce and some frites. Being as frites are a froggy invention I should really steer clear, but I do have to admit that these crunchy matchstick chips have to be the best accompaniment to steak. The British chip cooked to perfection is a glorious beast, but in this case it must play second fiddle to the French interloper.

There's steak and there's steak: plastic packed anaemic supermarket beef; the under aged stuff from economy class butchers; and the truly glorious well marbled and aged article. If you ain't got the right stuff to begin with your steak frites won't dance the light fandango baby.

Frites (AND CHIPS) must be cut from dry, floury potatoes. Using waxy or 'all purpose' varieties is the perfect recipe for a droopy frite. The finest potato is the King Edward, although the Maris Piper makes a perfectly acceptable substitute.

The French do steak frites best, but similar can be found in New York and London if you know where to look.

Beats lentils and brown rice any time. Sorry George, I ain't ready to join the vegan sandalist brigade just yet

Monday, July 21, 2008

Old Lived in Face

The world of newspaper journalism used to be full of Lunchtime O'Boozes, their shabby suits sporting stains of indeterminate origin, their breath reeking of scotch and chicken vindaloo. Alas, their kind is extinct, killed off by the vicissitudes of Thatcher and the evil digger Rupert Murdoch.

I knew one of the old school in Bristol. He had raised bedraggledness to an art form and drove an ancient Ford Granada dangerously. Sobriety was not his strong suit, nor were morals as he would happily have shafted his grandmother for a story. I spent many an entertaining evening in the pub with him as he reminisced about serving with the Gloucesters in Korea, or shagging Sue Lawley in Cardiff.

The long liquid lunch survived for a long time after the Thatcherite enema had supposedly purged the country of such inefficiency. The weekend began at 12.30 on a Friday, the only sign that work took place in many offices a jacket draped on an empty chair.

On the whole I preferred that world; the country may have been a bit of a dump, but at least it was a good laugh as long as the beer kept flowing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Great White North

Canada is one of those places that is mind blowingly (or should that be numbingly?) big. Most of it is of course uninhabitable wilderness, home to the grizzly bear and the odd coonskin hat wearing maniac who regards temperatures of -30 as pleasantly bracing. The Canucks all live within a hundred miles of the American border. This may suggest a communal huddle of warmth and conviviality, but I suspect that the sheer distance between their cities suggests that they really don't like each other very much at all.

Canada tends to slip beneath the radar. Ask anyone over here who their Prime Minister is and you will receive a blank look. Even I'm not entirely sure what he looks like. There was a nondescript looking sort of bloke at the last G8 summit who might have been him; then again, it might have been a gardener who had stumbled in on affairs inadvertently.

SPOT THE HARPER No prizes awarded for identifying George (I've got one growing out of my head) Bush.

The beaver squealers are having one of their interminable recruitment drives over here at the moment. Why they should have the right to nick our brightest and best is beyond me. Oh well, I suppose we shouldn't be too hard on them as they do tend to turn up on time for wars (unlike some I could mention) and are obviously in need of a few elocution lessons.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"For you Tommy ze war is over"!

The decline in unionist sentiment in Scotland since the 1970's has less to do with oil and general Jock chippiness than the disappearance of Commando comic from the newsagent shelves. Small boys lack tales of British martial derring do to gird their loins against the Hun and hoist the stout shield of Britannia.

The really good thing about Commando was that the Americans always played a secondary role to the brave Tommy with his sten gun. Quite right to, as the chewing gum masticating oiks from Milwaukee never tire of reminding us that 'we saved you guys Limey asses'. This is obviously tosh as they didn't turn up until brave Blighty fought off the squareheads with little more than bits of old string and stripy mint humbugs.

I don't know why we bother with ASBO's and Community Service Orders. What we really need is conscription for twelve year olds to toughen the pampered little scrotes up a bit. More time spent reading back issues of Commando and less playing girly games on the Wii and posturing on Bebo would do much to reduce delinquency.

Give them guns and divide them into warring Buckfast Brigade and Tamazepam Terrier factions and let them fight it out to the death. That would give the survivors a taste for good literature and reduce youth unemployment at a stroke.

I really should stand for Parliament.

Pass the straitjacket Petunia.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Losing It

It is estimated that 750,000 people in this country suffer from dementia, principally Alzheimer's, but also its less well known but equally hideous variants. It's an ailment we prefer to shove into the background, the elephant in the living room.

My mother has Pick's Syndrome. Medical students memorize it for their exams as "Pick's disease picks off the frontal or temporal lobes but leaves the rest alone". The person I love most in the world is living a hideous inverted childhood, retreating into a mute presence, all her innate vitality vanishing into a black hopeless vacuum. Thankfully, as she is over 70 the progression is slow. Unfortunately it is also inexorable.

Empathy: a simple word for the most complex and rarely achievable human quality. My mother had it in spades and it was the solace I reached for at many times. She kept my black dog at bay and was a light that I could reach for when at my most wretched. Today, if I was killed in a car crash she wouldn't notice.

I have become a part time carer. The care I provide is subsidized by the State with the princely sum of £58 pounds per week. I have money, so that level of support isn't a problem, but as a level of payment for people of more limited means it is an utter disgrace. The cost of a care home is in excess of £500 per week, so our Government is effectively relying on familial love to prevent a burden on the State.

I do apologize if this blog sometimes seems cynical and flippant. The only thing I can offer in my defence is the netherworld that is a constant backdrop to my life. My father is elderly and the strain is killing him.

The only good aspect of the whole business is that I have finally had to become responsible, with inevitable lapses. . I can't say I like it much, but it is teaching me a few lessons that I should have learned years ago.

Only connect.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cheesy Wotsits

Everybody has guilty pleasures, secret indulgences which are kept strictly under wraps lest howls of public derision lead to complete embarassment. I'm not referring to secret sexual proclivities and fetishes here, although I'm sure MJ has a few, but to the private enjoyment of the saccharine and superficial.

I have a few of my own which I am happy to reveal in the blogosphere as nobody can point at me in public and laugh uproariously.

* Pizza Hut buffet lunches

It's pizza Gianni, but not as we know it. The average Neapolitan would projectile vomit if forced to ingest a Pizza Hut pepperoni, the very idea of a deep crust fill them with existential angst. For me it's the sheer blandness that appeals, that and the salad bowl with crunchy bacon bits drenched in thousand island dressing.

* Lees' Macaroon Bars

A sugar hit to beat all sugar hits, even Kendal mint cake. Unbelievably unhealthy but undeniably scrumptious.

* Girl Groups

There have been non cheesy girl groups like the Supremes, but for me it has to be the likes of Bananarama. The less musical talent the better, it's the jiggling and pouting that cuts the mustard.

* Popcorn Films

Independence Day, Eight Legged Freaks, Slither, et al. They have to be mindless with wooden acting and over the top effects. Art house is all very well, but a body can only take so much sub titled thought provoking artfully shot ruminations on the human condition.

* The Carpenters

I happen to believe that Karen Carpenter had one of the great soul voices and I will challenge anyone who thinks otherwise to a fist fight. This is deliciously cheesy and definitely one for the desert island.

Anyway, I'm off to read some Dostoevsky and brush up my Hegelian dialectics. If anybody has a cheesy secret pleasure please feel free to share, I'll try not to laugh.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

This being the holiday season most right thinking folk have buggered off to diego land or the far east in order to improve their skin cancer prospects. Only the poor saps like me involved in the domestic tourist trade have to stay in drizzly Blighty and attend to the whims and peccadilloes of moaning tourists.

I watch them from my living room window, departing for another days jolly while I face the dispiriting prospect of mowing their lawns. I suppose I can't complain too much as their cash is germinating in my pockets, waiting to sprout vigorously in the winter when travel and accommodation is at its cheapest.

I'm getting the wanderlust bad at the moment, and am indulging in my favourite pastime: deciding where I shall go next. This is highly pleasurable as everybody knows that the most enjoyable part of travel is the planning and anticipation.

I would like to ask you to advise where I should bugger off to next. It will be for a month, or possibly six weeks, so it ain't gonna be a long weekend in Riga or Bratislava. I've narrowed the contenders down to three seductive prospects, but being torn as to which I should allow to ravish me can't make my mind up.


No Costas. Eating cooked breakfasts with lame and halt Mancunians (no offence KAZ) in Fuengirola doesn't appeal. I'm thinking mini cruise from Portsmouth to Bilbao for a mooch about the Guggenheim and some top Basque nosh. Then it would be a leisurely peregrination around Madrid, Seville, Granada, Valencia, and Barcelona - possibly with some Balearics thrown in should time permit.


Three weeks in an apartment in Venice sounds good; nice and misty and romantic with loads of stuff to explore and no bloody tourists in St Marks Square. I quite fancy myself as a Doge. Then Genoa, Bologna and Florence. Nifty.


This one is definitely a strong contender. My bollocks might get frozen off, but Prague, Budapest, and Cracow would make up for it with their beer and dumplings. A bit of faded Austro Hungarian elegance appeals, and I relish the prospect of scoffing sachertorte in a grand hotel haunted by the ghost of the Emperor Franz Josef.

Over to you.