Thursday, September 29, 2011

Careering Out Of Control

My trouble is I think I should be on television. Or, failing that, in television.

Script writing. Joke writing. Satirical gameshow panellist (obviously after downing a few stiff drinks to combat the nerves). Just something. My own office at the BBC. Next door to Steven Moffat. Eating in the Beeb canteen sat opposite Justin Fletcher. Anything.

This conviction has been growing on me for years.

When I watch a TV drama or watch people involved with them being interviewed I think to myself: that should be me, that should; I should be doing that. I’m bloody well made for it I am. It’s the kind of life I want.

But I don’t have it because it’s only come to me in the last few years that this is what I should be doing.

If it had hit me when I was 18 I would have stood more of a chance. I could have done voluntary work at the BBC. Made tea for Biddy Baxter. Polished Terry Wogan’s microphone. Demeaned myself for ten years before getting that first all-valuable foot onto the ladder...

“Oh yes, I’ve written the odd script myself, don’t you know... Care to take a look? Yes, it is rather good, isn’t it...? Just something I’ve had knocking around for the last 15 years...”

But now it’s going to be a hard slog. Upwards all the way. I’m the wrong side of 40. I’m still looking for an agent. Untried and untested despite my obvious *cough cough* talents. Even though I have actually been writing since I was 9. I have The Beatles’ Paperback Writer going round and round in my head. My (paid) work experience up to this point revolves around facilities management and maintenance contracts. It doesn’t exactly say the next Alan Bennett, does it?

I’m being tripped up by all the wrong career turnings I’ve ever taken; all the poor ‘done-for-the-convenience-of-the-moment’ decisions.

I’m still being held back by my youthful naivety – when all I wanted to do was write and so that is all I have been doing. For the last 30 odd years.

What I should have been doing was applying. Writing and trying to apply it. There’s a difference, you see?

Well, I’m not giving up.

Not yet.

I’ll make tea if I have to but, trust me BBC, I’m much better at writing it...



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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Theme Tunes

Old fashioned kid's tellyFunny how the music to certain TV shows sticks in your mind. I mean, we all have favourite ‘pop’ records. Music that provided the incidental backdrop to our first kiss, our first shag, our first civilian kill whilst piloting an Apache helicopter over Baghdad (oops, sorry, bit political; bit old news but always, always relevant).

But what about those favourite TV theme tunes that you used to hear as a kid and now remind you of happier and not-so happier times?

For me, I can’t listen to the theme tunes of Sesame Street, The Banana Splits or Hong Kong Phooey without thinking of long school summer holidays in the 1970’s. These shows seemed to be ubiquitous every summer. I don’t recall them being on at any other time of the year though surely they must have been. There was something about Sesame Street and The Banana Splits that was kind of special. I wasn’t really that aware of the world at the time. I knew America was another country but that was about it. Sesame Street and The Banana Splits made it seem a wonderfully warm and inviting place to be.

I mean, let’s face it, the American’s had all the best kids TV shows. Sorry and all that, but Rainbow and Pipkins were hardly in the same league, were they? If you pitted Big Bird and Octavia the ostrich against each other in a cage fight Big Bird would win even though he’s a hopeless pacifist. Octavia would get herself tangled up in her own strings purely down to the jerky way she half-walked half-floated over the ground.

And then there are the theme tunes that make me feel depressed.

Family Fortunes. Hart To Hart. Magnum PI.

Yes, even Magnum PI makes me feel a little bit depressed.

These shows were invariably broadcast on a Sunday evening in the 1980’s which, for me, meant school the next day. Secondary school. Big school. And not just school but “Games” first thing and that meant rugby which I absolutely loathed. And not only rugby but the horrible school communal showers afterwards which I also loathed (though am at pains to point out that nothing untoward ever happened to me in the boys’ showers at school, OK? Not ever. I’m hang-up free when it comes to nudity – just ask the young mums who visit my local park at lunchtime).

Hearing these theme tunes meant that bedtime was fast approaching and that meant sleep and a hastening of time passing. Monday morning was approaching all too quickly and the weekend was over.

And then there are the theme tunes that are truly special but for no special reason at all. Just odd slivers of memory that make no sense to anybody else but nevertheless remind you of how loved you were and how safe.

Rupert The Bear. I have this on my MP3 player. I used to watch this as a toddler at my Nan’s when we’d visit her every Wednesday. I think the show had originally been produced in the 1960’s and was probably going round the block for the fifth time when I used to watch it. Nevertheless it had me mesmerized and whenever I hear the music now I am instantly transported back to my Nan’s sitting room with the smell of beef stew wafting in from the kitchen and warm sunlight streaming in through the dining room window. I didn’t know much about the world but I knew it was all going to be OK.

*sigh*

Alas, I haven’t heard a piece of music in a long time that makes me feel that way. But it’s not the music that has changed, it’s me.

I look at my kids now – look at the TV shows they like; the ones they don’t – and wonder if they’ll have their own musical aide-mémoires when they are older.

I hope so. And I hope they’ll be for similar reasons.

Though maybe not the rugby thing. Or the showers. I could have lived without those.

Right. I’m off to the park. See you there.

Second bush on the right (that’s me).

;-)



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Monday, September 26, 2011

I Applied For A Job At MI5

Lara PulverOnce. A long time ago.

Before I was lucky enough (cough cough) to land my current job in whose warm bosomy bower I have slept peaceably for the last 13 years.

Not sure what drove me to it. I remember seeing an advert in a national newspaper announcing that “the 5” (as those of us in the know call it; those of us not referring to it as MFI) were recruiting. And further more they were recruiting non-graduates which is precisely what I was at the time.

Perhaps my life was lacking excitement. It was certainly lacking travel, a fake Russian accent and a Parker ball pen that not only transformed into a MIG fighter but had a little naked lady in the end whose clothes fell off when you turned the pen upright.

I thought, sod it, I could be a spy. I could serve Queen and country. I could take photos of top secret documents with a mini camera hidden in my cravat or my diamante cufflinks. I could sleep with loads of gorgeous foreign women and rifle their leathery attaché cases whilst they slept afterwards in post coital bliss, I could. I really could, I thought. Blimey. I’ll fill in the application form right now and send it off.

I sent it off.

I heard nothing back from MI5 but MFI offered me a job selling bedroom furniture to couples who wanted to luxuriate in post coital bliss. I suspected they were sleeper agents so I told them to go and get stuffed. Ha ha.

Thus ended my career as a top British spy.

I watch Spooks now with a personal sense of chagrin. But also, it has to be said, with a sense of smugness. Because despite the wildly comic imagineering above I know that there is nothing very glamorous about being a spy.

From what I’ve heard (and I will never reveal my sources, damned infidel of the capitalist state) The 5 are as prone to budget cuts as every other Government department. The chances of getting a nudey-lady pen is about as likely as Cameron and Clegg sucking each other’s nipples live on national television. And quite frankly if the money was available I’m sure we’d all much rather take the pen.

Real spying is tedious, dirty, lonely and more likely to drive the spy into an anorak and uber-geekiness than into the arms of a busty Russian spyess whose name is so complicated to pronounce you end up with a tongue like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s left bicep.

And yet Spooks continues to captivate me.

Even though I know they are selling the dream of MI5 rather than the reality.

I love the gadgets. I love the fact they can seemingly tap into and control everything from the internet, mobile phone networks, weather satellites and the internal wash cycle on your Zanussi washer-dryer just with a little tap of their youthful upwardly mobile index fingers. I love the moral dilemmas they go through every week; how they justify not only risking themselves but others in their quest to keep the rest of us safe. I love the pained looks they give to camera just before they do something totally immoral and inhumane. Once again with feeling, dahling, once again.

And I love the glamorous women. We’ve had Keeley Hawes. We’ve had Hermione Norris. And now we’ve got Lara Pulver. All legs, lethality and brooding brunetteness.

Marvellous.

Do I regret my application to The 5?

No.

And nor do I regret that they turned me down.

Real spies are non-descript and anonymous. They are never glamorous. They catch the Tube and the bus. They catch pneumonia and the shits from eating crap food in dodgy bedsits. They are poorly paid and over-stressed. They have to beat their consciences into submission with alcohol, narcotics or the psychological disorder of your choice.

I’m happy to employ myself in the fantasy and leave the reality to the fish and the cold sharks of society.

But just remember: I do it for you guys. To keep you safe.

Now pass me another Vimto, bartender. Shaken, not stirred.



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Friday, September 23, 2011

The Ghost Of Wayne Inglis

Looking back on it now it’s probably far more common than it felt at the time. The death of a fellow school pupil.

It was, I think, sometime near the end of my penultimate year at North Leamington school – so probably round 1984 – and I can remember the headmaster handing over proceedings for that morning’s assembly to Mrs Mordecai, our Hobbit-like French and Religious Education teacher. If he thought Mrs Mordecai would bring a more gentle ambience to proceedings he’d obviously never seen her in action during double French.

She delivered the news in a calm, measured, almost BBC manner.

Wayne had died at the weekend. Our sympathies went out to his parents and to his younger sister who would not be attending school this week.

And that was it.

No details. No explanation of how, why and where. Just that he’d died.

I remember feeling very shocked. Benumbed. Which struck me as odd because although Wayne was in my form we weren’t mates. We weren’t enemies either; he wasn’t that type of boy but he existed outside my tight knit circle of friends and I outside of his. He’d always come across as a little strange. Blonde and oddly Germanic looking. A neck that was slightly too long. In fact, for all he was not excessively tall, everything about him seemed slightly too long. Legs, arms and shoulders were all odd, awkward and angular. He had a smutty sense of humour that, because of the way he exercised it – huddled and whispered – seemed slightly unwholesome. He brought a key-ring into school once that, due to simple thumb operated mechanics, featured a couple that furiously copulated. He was that type of boy.

A bit strange but harmless. A bit of a joke really. But not enough to impinge much on anybody’s radar.

I can remember some of my peers laughing as we were dismissed from assembly. They found the news funny. I’d like to think it was down to shock but, no, they genuinely found it funny in that unfathomably cruel way teenagers have of misconnecting with the world and everything that isn’t actually about them personally. One girl actually voiced the opinion that she was glad he was dead because she never liked him anyway.

I through her a disgusted look but that was as far as it went. I was a shrinking violet and she didn’t care anyway.

Days later a few more details leaked out. Apparently Wayne had recently taken part in a charity parachute jump. He must have been so enamoured of the experience of floating down to earth that he’d tried to recreate the process in his bedroom with his parachute and a leap from the wardrobe. I kid you not. But for his resultant death it reads like a script from Some Mother Do ‘Ave ‘Em. Who knows if that was the true reason? We’ll never know. What was known was that Wayne was found tangled up in the parachute chords. He’d effectively hanged himself. I think the circumstances were such that it was plain it was not intentional.

It had a sobering effect on my school year for about 2 weeks. Until after the funeral, I suppose. Only his closest friends went. And then it seemed to get forgotten. We broke up for the summer holidays and when we came back we were 5th years with O levels and school leaving to look forward to. We had moved on.

Unlike Wayne. Unlike, I suspect, his parents and his sister.

I often think of Wayne now. It’s a minor sadness that nevertheless touches me deeply. I often wonder what he would have become if he had lived. What he would have done. Who he would have married. I can’t quite see him as a serious grown-up person doing a proper job at all.

In my mind he’s still playing with that blessed key-ring and giggling quietly to himself.



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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Am Turning Into Keyser Söze

Kevin Spacey as Keyser SözeYou know that iconic final scene in The Usual Suspects? The one where Keyser Söze limps off down the road and then slowly un-limps and jumps into a flashy convertible?

I feel like I am living that in reverse. I am walking down the street (looking for the flashy convertible – I’m sure I parked it around here somewhere) and am slowly commencing to limp. And the limp is becoming more and more pronounced.

I went to the doctors yesterday. The pain in my feet is increasing daily. Nasty, immovable corn. Bunions. Calluses. Toes that are folding over themselves like slugs making love. (Note to self: possibly film this for slug fetishists and make a fast (slow?) buck.)

But the entire endeavour was doomed from the start.

Going to the doctors is a lottery. The treatment you are offered is not standard. It depends on the temperament of the doctor you are seeing. As soon as I found out I was seeing Dr W my wife, Karen, groaned aloud, “But she won’t do anything.” She was right. But if I’d held out for the doctor I wanted to see I wouldn’t have got an appointment until the middle of next week and quite frankly I couldn’t wait that long (I was already starting to talk like Kevin Spacey.)

As it happens it was a bad call. I may as well have waited.

Dr W looked at my feet. Not examined. Just looked. And then showed me hers by way of comparison. Seriously. She was pleasant. She was urbane. She told me I had the start of arthritis caused by the bunions. She told me these things are to be expected at my time of life (eh? I’m 42. The very meaning of life, surely?) She told me, “if we were honest there is something we all could do to help ourselves in situations like these” (what, like go to the doctors?). She recommended supportive insoles for my boots but failed to specify which type. She recommended I didn’t go on 10 mile hikes at the weekend (duh!). She recommended I invested money I don’t have into a second pair of work shoes that I could wear when my duties didn’t require me to don my toe-tectors. Basically waste half an hour each day hopping into and out of different shoes depending on what people are asking me to do.

If things got really bad, she said, she could eventually refer me to a surgeon.

If.

Cheers, doc.

She then looked at my feet again and said, “actually, maybe arthritis is too strong a word.”

What? Too useful a word maybe? ‘Cos it might have to go on my record and get acted upon? Or I might demand a note for my boss recommending light duties only? So not arthritis? Just strong pain? Oh great. Yeah. I can live with that. Strong pain, not quite arthritis yet. That makes all the difference.

And that was it.

Consultation over. Nothing that will cost the NHS any money at all – which is possibly a good thing depending on which side of the health fence you are sitting on.

I did my best to reason with her. Look, I said, if this limp continues I’m going to have to shoot my wife and kids in the face just to prove to vicious Hungarian smugglers that there is no way they can ever hurt me. Worse, I may have to piss on Gabriel Byrne.

But she just looked at me blankly and shrugged. She didn’t give a gold plated turd.

So there you go: when the heist goes wrong and you guys all get shot to shit, don’t blame me. ‘Cos I’m the poor guy who’s going to have to limp away afterwards.

And continue limping away for the rest of his life.

*Sigh*

Just remember: “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that my foot pain does not exist.”



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Monday, September 19, 2011

Dangerous Roads

Charley BoormanThe way I’m looking at it, the BBC is a bit of a bungling would-be murderer.

For the last three Sunday nights I’ve greatly enjoyed watching Dangerous Roads, a celebrity based travelogue, in which the BBC pairs up a couple of TV celebs and then sends them out in a 4x4 to some exotic part of the world that these guys could easily afford to visit on their own wages and then makes them drive several thousand kilometres along “one of the world’s most dangerous roads” in the vain hopes of killing them off in a spectacular cliff edge crash.

That the crash never happened is a testament to the safe driving style of the chosen celebs and the fact that some idiot at the BBC quite plainly didn’t think to bribe Orla Guerin to bring back a landmine from Afghanistan.

A missed opportunity, BBC! We could have been rid of the boorish Charley Boorman forever. However, in the case of the lovely Sue Perkins I am rather glad that all Orla Guerin brought back with her were some After Eight Mints and a tin of weird liquorice sweets that nobody in the office actually likes.

But the premise of the show got me thinking.

See, I have a Flip camera (or rather my wife does, but let’s not haggle over ownership issues). I have transport. An old green mountain bike.

And Leamington Spa has some of the most dangerous roads in the county.

I could make my own version of Dangerous Roads and kill off the celebrities of your choice. And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t need a hooky landmine (only one previous careful owner) to do the dispatching for me – the local flora and fauna would do that without batting an eyelid.

Here’s a quick sneak-peak at the itinerary:

After staying at one of Leamington’s many fine B&B’s your chosen celebs would mount up (one perched precariously onto the handlebars) and embark on their final journey.

The first leg would see them navigating the gum chewing wilds of Bury Road who’s broadly curving cul-de-sacs and St. George’s flag festooned garden sheds have seen many a careless traveller lost to the world – both body and soul – and, if not buried under a patio somewhere, then (a fate equally worse) married off to some 16 year old who's managed to get pregnant at the merest whiff of Lynx deodorant and who’s knowledge of foul language would make Roy Chubby Brown blush.

After that the timorous celebs must then negotiate a safe route through the competing Chav kingdoms of the Kingsway and Queensway estates who’s Burberry lined pathways have caused many a seasoned explorer to go blind and start shopping at Gap. They will need to watch out for roaming packs of hoodies, skateboarders and secondary school drop-outs who smoke like chimneys and who look like they’ve had the faces of World War I veterans grafted onto their pre-pubescent little skulls. If these savages don’t pop a cap into the asses of our erstwhile celebs then their 14 year old mothers surely will.

Finally – the coup d'état (or, more fittingly, the coup de tete) – our beleaguered celebs, by now bemoaning their D list status and wishing they’d stayed working for hospital radio, must traverse the marauding Mad Max 3 wilderness of the Leamington Spa High Street late on a Friday night. Auntie Entity, Master-Blaster and that weird geeky guy who flies the plane and has the face of a camel... they are all here waiting for some unsuspecting ignoramus to venture too close to their fag stained clutches. Steer your bike too close to the cliff edge of alcoholism and you will plummet forever into the churning morass of the gutter far below and find yourself forever more a citizen of Bartertown. Or, as it is more commonly known around here, Battertown.

And there you go. Job done. Job’s a good ‘un.

Charley Boorman is a goner.

Easy-peasy.

So. Which celebs would you like to nominate?

The lovely Sue Perkins



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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crime Does Actually Pay

I’ve always been a good boy.

Law abiding. Head well beneath the parapet. Not a toe out of line.

When the UK riots were kicking off my first thoughts were not to rush out and help myself to a nice new pair of orange bri-nylon Nikes and an iPad but to bemoan the state of the nation’s youth and to wish our boys in blue the best of British as they marched out to meet the semi-illiterate foe, wot ‘ad taken to the streets, innit, to protest about the interest rates, the war in Afghaniswotsit and the fact that they couldn’t, like, afford to buy all them widescreen plasmas wot get shown on The Gadget Show every week, you get me, bruv?

I stayed at home in my pinstripe and my bowler hat and waved my sober umbrella in middle-class outraged fury at the scenes of wanton damage being shown on my non-widescreen, fat, cathode ray tube telly. I was a good boy.

And that’s the problem.

In my current novel (and, indeed, in my previous one) the main characters have run foul of the law. They’ve had their collars felt. I’ve had to write a police interview / interrogation scene.

And in all honesty I have absolutely no first-hand experience of how these are actually conducted at all. My only reference points are film and TV but just how accurate is it to depict suspects having plastic bags held over their heads and then being kicked around a dusty evidence room by a furious Gene Hunt? Do the police still do that? Or does that just happen in the armed forces now?

Do the police still do the old good cop / bad cop routine?

Or is it all touchy feely now – calling in a gestalt therapy counsellor, a PTSD specialist, a pedicurist and a Swedish masseuse?

My wife assures me that the police are people too and, actually, unlike the portrayal of the force on the telly, most interviews are conducted in a very conversational manner. When I asked her how she knows this she made a quick excuse about being late for a community service appointment and hotfooted it out of the house as if she had a bag of swag under each arm. Most curious.

So anyway, I’m now wishing I’d pulled a bank heist or two when I was younger. Misspent my youth a bit. Nicked the odd car. Gun ran. Grew drugs at the allotment. Defecated on the carpet at Fortnum & Masons.

I’m now looking back on the summer’s riots in the UK and wondering if I missed an opportunity there.

Not for the sake of getting a widescreen telly.

But for the sake of my writing.

I’m sure the judge would have understood.

Don’t you agree?



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Monday, September 12, 2011

Digging Dr Alice

Alice Roberts
For all I would consider myself an outdoorsy person I am well aware that what I actually mean is: I like traipsing the hills and valleys and admiring the view. I don’t as a rule relish the thought of pushing a Flymo around, laying fresh turf on clay or running my fingers through the green bushiness of a vegetable patch.

Me and trowels... we don’t have “a thing” going on.

But whenever I see Dr Alice Roberts on the telly I have a sudden and overwhelming desire to bury myself deeply into some undergrowth and root around in a dark hole to see what glorious treasures I can find. Forget the welly-boots and a stout sou’wester I’d be quite prepared to do it absolutely stark bollock naked. (Dr Alice you have only got to ask. P.S. your Lawyer was rather rude to me last Friday... you know, I don’t think he is passing on my letters to you at all).

So Friday night saw the return of Digging For Britain and more importantly the return of Dr Alice – new mum, bone expert and all round historical / archaeological pin-up. Within the space of an hour she transported us around Roman Britain and uncovered more earth than a JCB driven by a coke-head.

One of Dr Alice’s missions in life is to get young people (yes, alright, that excludes me straight away) interested in the sciences and history and proper ‘ologies. Snare ‘em young and our scientific community will be enriched for years to come, etc. She’s right too. When I was at school and it came time to choose my “options” (as they were called back then) I found I had to choose between Geography and History. I was good at both. If I’m honest I preferred History but due to a timetable ‘thing’ I could only take one of them, not both. At the time I thought Geography would have more practical applications in terms of acquiring a job so I chose Geography.

I’ve always regretted it. Not that I didn’t come out with a good mark – I got a B. But, well, I kind of feel History would have been more up my street.

If Dr Alice had been around at the time I think I would have undoubtedly chosen History and would have studied a lot harder at Biology too (I only got a C). She would have put thoughts into my head of Roman digs, Iron Age mounds and the possibility of kneeling in the English mud for months at a time next to a velvet voiced beauty who occasionally dyes her hair red.

I would have told Mrs Abbot that she could keep her meteorological charts and her ‘fruit growing in the Vale of Evesham’ and all the other twaddle that we studied in Geography and that I have never ever used – ever – on the various states of employ I have endured over the years and I would have prepared myself for the coming of Dr Alice.

And then it would have been me on Time Team excavating all those barrows. It would have been me on Digging For Britain holding Dr Alice’s freshly lacquered rose-wood handled soil brush for her. And most of all it would have been me holding Dr Alice’s towel and bathrobe for her when she did that programme about skinny dipping, sorry, wild swimming, a year or so ago.

You hear me, North Leamington School? You and your effing Options! You ruined my life!

P.S. On a lighter note. Here is a link to a superb interview with Dr Alice conducted for the on-line show, Carpool – a superb little programme where Robert Llewellyn drives various TV celebs around from A to B and interviews them whilst filming them with on-board cameras mounted onto his dash. It's brilliant.

*sigh*

That could have been me in that car. Me. Possibly only sitting in the back, not saying very much at all, but nevertheless it could have been me.

Goddammit.



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Friday, September 09, 2011

Clapped Out

So, my celebration of all things Middle Aged and mature only lasted until Wednesday of this week.

My enjoyment of the view from the brow of the hill lasted but a transient moment before I lost my footing and found myself hurtling down the other side towards degeneracy, using my perfectly formed buttocks as a makeshift toboggan.

As said Daryl Hannah put it in Bladerunner – “accelerated decrepitude”.

How did this come to pass?

Two reasons.

The first, which due to the secrets act both official and unofficial I can’t reveal to you in any detail, has had me shifting, carrying, humping (not in a good way), erecting (ditto), deconstructing and painting pretty much constantly for the last 5 days. The first two days were a nice workout. After that it became a war of attrition which the recuperative powers of my body started to lose alarmingly. I found myself thinking, I’m 42, I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I know, I know. 42 is hardly one foot in the grave but really, when you compare yourself to twenty-something colleagues it is hard not to find oneself in a downer.

The second reason is linked to the first in the sense that the first has exacerbated the problem: painful feet. Agonizing feet. On one foot I seem to have a callus forming on the underside of my little toe. So much so I fear it is developing a hard-shell and will soon be harvested by Rick Stein for one of his Cornish seafood eateries. On the other foot I have a bugger of a corn on the side of my second-to-little toe. It is generating so much pain and heat when I walk on it that I am considering taking up fire-walking by way of achieving some kind of relief.

I am, of course, following a treatment of corn removal plasters purchased from the local chemist. Each day I pull the plaster off the corn sticks it’s head out a bit more – a bit a like a tortoise coming out of hibernation. It feels like a biggee. A deepee. So deep in fact that it reminds me of those hollow drill things that archaeologist / geo-physics people use to take core samples from the earth that go back to Iron Age ground levels. When this beauty comes out it is going to have my pre-natal stem cells perched right on the end of it and possibly a good dollop of bone marrow to boot.

In the meantime I am hobbling about so much like an old man that my wife has taken to wincing whenever she sees me – which may explain the dark sunglasses she wears whenever we are out together and the fact she usually walks on the other side of the road to me.

Ho hum.

Well, she’ll be sorry when I draw out my pension next week – she can go and buy her own surgical stockings. And if she thinks she can borrow my false teeth again to eat toffee she can just forget it. I’m going to speak to the Matron right now and demand separate rooms!

Bah humbug!



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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How To Cynically Drive Traffic To Your Blog (And Don’t Forget To Mention The F Word)

George W Bush getting jiggy with itSo after stats revealed on Monday that my most popular post ever was Sex With Nigella a few of you (yes, you; not me) suggested I write a series of Sex With... blog posts. One of you (not naming names here) even suggested that I might like to write a series of blog post about Sex With... you lot.

Like I don’t push the comedy envelope out far enough as it is.

However, as cool and as ground breaking (cherry breaking for some of you) as this idea was I decided it would cost me loyal readers. I mean, once I’ve marked you all out of ten it’s only going to cause jealousy and chagrin.

(Yes, Rol, you scored a ten).

So now I’m thinking I ought to just play it safe. Stick to celebs and world leaders. ‘Cos let’s face it they’re all fair game and it would be quite believable that most of them at some time or other may have actually had sex with me.

In terms of politicians I have to say (and I never thought I’d ever say this) I now regret that George W Bush is no longer in power because it forever denies me the opportunity to write a post entitled Sex With Bush. Though thinking about it, it does create an opening to write a piece entitled Sex Without Bush. This would surely drive protagonists of the great depilatory debate my way and boost my stats no end.

As it is (and this is where the great blog traffic boost begins) I could at least produce blog posts with titles along the lines of Sex With Obama, Sex With Hilary Clinton, I Did Not Have Sex With Bill Clinton, Sex With Donald Rumsfeld (And His Weapon Of Mass Eruption) and not to leave out the British and European contingent: Double Teamed By David Cameron & Nick Clegg and Sex With Eric Pickles (Slap The Fat And Ride The Waves). I think I’d give Sex With Berlusconi a miss – he’d only take it as a compliment. And possibly encouragement.

Celeb wise I could easily direct my thoughts to Sex With Dr Alice Roberts (oh boy, my stats are going to go through the roof), Sex With Keeley Hawes and Sex With Alex Kingston. Just to confuse my audience I might throw in the odd curve ball too – Sex With Gene Hunt or even Sex With Jeremy Paxman.

Weirdly, Hollywood-wise nothing grabs me. The thought of Sex With Cameron Diaz or Sex With Nicole Kidman does not appeal though I might be persuaded by Sex With Natalie Portman. I daresay many of you ladies would like to see Sex With George Clooney or Sex With Daniel Craig feature rather heavily on this blog but I have to say I can only stretch my imagination so far (though girth-wise it is pretty damned impressive).

Cool. Job done. If I’m not in the blogging top twenty by the end of the week I am going to come round and screw every single one of you personally and very professionally.

Media whore?

Yup, that’s me.



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Monday, September 05, 2011

How Much Do You Love Me?

See, I would have said most of you would gladly take a passing bullet for me. The rest of you, I’m sure, would hiss appropriately at the gun man and then mourn my passing forevermore. Undying, slightly unrequited love.

But no.

It seems I’ve been fooling myself. The stats are out and (unless you are a politician) you can’t lie with the stats.

945,249th.

I’ll say that again: 945,249th.

According to domaintrakker.com that is where my blog ranks in the list of most visited web sites on the internet. I’m at the fag end of the ‘top’ 1,000,000. Not even the top 100,000. Thanks a bunch. (And thanks for the correction, Nota Bene.)

And to make it worse (worse as in more demeaning) the site estimates that I earn about $3.47 daily. In pounds that works out as about £2.15. I’m hardly going to get onto the next series of The Apprentice with that now, am I?

Most telling of all though is the top incoming anchor link to my blog (yeah, like I even know what that shit means). Sex With Nigella.

Yeah. That’s right. You might not love me but you love the thought of sex with Nigella. You love it so much you keep coming back to my blog just to get yourself off on it. I’m just a marital aid. Not even that. Nigella is the marital aid; I’m just the... what? The pimp? The guy who cleans the sheets afterwards? It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

Well, fine. Have it your way. I know my place. Just don’t expect me to come round to your place anytime soon and leave a nice cheerful comment, OK?

945,249th.

Harrumph.



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Friday, September 02, 2011

Officially Middle Aged

Karen Gillan as Amy PondThat’s it. I’m at the brow of the hill. I’m looking down at the giddy descent into old age.

The sign post that I am leaning on whilst I catch my breath says “Middle Aged”.

How do I know this?

Matt Smith told me. Steven Moffat told me. The BBC told me.

In short, Doctor Who told me.

Years ago, I would have been all over Amy Pond (played by Karen Gillan) like (to quote Sandy Cheeks from Spongebob Squarepants) ugly on an ape (Gorilla Bananas: no offense intended). She would have ignited day dreams and night dreams so hot and puerile that the script writers of The Inbetweeners would have recoiled in horror and told me to grow up. Luscious lips, long red hair, long legs and a lust-worthy Scottish accent. I mean, can you imagine anything sexier than being bossed about sexually by someone who sounds like a rebel from Balamory? I dinnae care what ye wannae doo – jus’ git doon there an’ git busy, yer filthy, dirty little Sassenach...

Yes, ma’am!

But the flames have not been ignited. I look at Amy Pond and I see the lips and the hair and the legs and I think, Christ, I hope she’s warm enough; I hope her mother sent her to work with a nice thermos flask of hot soup and one of those high fibre bars with chunks of fruit in it. She’s so young. She ought to have a chaperone on set. I hope she’s being looked after properly. I hear her accent and I hear my gran from Scotland asking me if am doing well at school and would I like another Werther’s Original?

I have reached that age when I am automatically filtering out girls like Amy Pond from my fantasy directory. I am rubber stamping her in my mind with the words Not Age Appropriate.

But more than this, what tells me most of all that I have embraced middle age is the discovery that my fires are now being ignited by the older woman. Because while Amy Pond might not be wetting my whistle, River Song (played by Alex Kingston) most definitely is. My whistle is positively drowning in wetness.

Sorry. Possibly too much info.

River Song is magnificent. River Song is sexy. Wild hair. Décolletage that could conceal an AK-47 and a few hundred spare rounds. Beautiful lips and forever arching upward eye brows. And most of all an attitude that exudes knowing confidence and a sense of being more than comfortable with herself.

Like I said: magnificent.

What sums it up best for me is after regenerating in last Saturday’s episode into the River Song we all know and love she took one look at herself and oozed, “ooh, it’s all going on down there isn’t it...? I feel so... mature.”

Mature in that second, in the way River Song enunciated it, became profoundly OK. It became sexy and desirable. It became exciting and fun. It became wicked in the very, very best way.

So yeah. I’m on the brow of the hill. And I’m leaning on that sign that says “Middle Aged”. But only as a precursor to pole dancing with it.

Does anyone care to join me?

Alex Kingston as River Song



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Thursday, September 01, 2011

You Lying Cheating Old Bag

I’m not a hard hearted uncharitable person but whenever these things get posted through my letterbox I feel a certain uprising of bile. An upsurge of suspicion and impatience. And then I invariably scoop them up and put them straight into the rubbish bin. I’ve done it for years. I don’t think I have ever filled one up and left it outside for collection.

I am, of course, talking about charity bags.

Pretty much every week some chancer who plainly can’t take a hint insists on shoving one of these tacky plastic bags through my door. They want old clothes, shoes, fetish gear, gimp masks, post amnesty assault rifles, bedsteads and Anderson Shelter manuals – basically anything; anything at all that you don’t want anymore and that you would normally Freebay onto a deserving person; anything that they can then sell on the black market in Europe and make quite a nice tidy sum for themselves thank you very much.

Because this is the disheartening truth.

Most of these so called charity bags collections are not done to alleviate the suffering of the poor but are done to inflate the bank accounts of a few dodgy individuals who believe that charity starts and ends at home. Preferably yours.

Some of the less dodgy ones do send some of the money on to the charities they claim to support but we are talking the tiniest percentage here; the smallest amount they can skim off the top. According to recent research by the British Heart Foundation we are talking as little as 5%.

And this is sad and it is wrong. I mean here I am celebrating my cynicism because it has saved me from being duped but actually that’s an appalling indictment of society. People organize a charity collection and my first reaction is to say, “yeah right, as if” and bin the collecting bag.

The people that truly lose out are, as always, the poor and the needy.

But it is the likes of you and me who are also being cheated. We’re cheated when we donate stuff and imagine that it will be going to a good home; that it will help make someone’s life a little better. That we are doing a good and useful thing. It leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth. Especially when we are all tightening out belts at the moment and these ‘charity collectors’ are making a very nice tidy living out of our cast-offs.

Karen and I have never responded to cold callers – not to sellers and not to charity workers. Not ever. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it feels mean. But our ethos has always been when we give to charity we will choose the charity for ourselves and organize the nature of the donation ourselves. It is the only way to be sure that the donation is going to the right people and not into the pockets of some muck-grubbing scheister.

So there you have it. Proof, if any were needed, that the world is as screwy as it’s ever going to get: charity and cynicism go hand-in-hand like love and marriage.

Tough love: it’s the only way.

Do give generously.



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