Friday, June 29, 2007


I’m a bit nonplussed by the current MFI advertising campaign.

Not that I particularly care about MFI or their marketing ethos, you understand. I mean, it’s not like I’ve ever shopped at one of their stores or even driven within a 5 mile range of one. I’ve lost count of the number of Boxing Day half price MFI sales that I’ve deliberately avoided over the years. When I’m freshly gutted up on hot turkey the last thing I want to do is shuffle around a mouldy warehouse in Erdington looking at a vast panorama of corner sofa suites and pre-built Devonshire pewter knob handle shelving units.

I mean, come on. I’ve got some taste.

Their new television adverts, however, are impinging on my psyche with some degree of success. Though not in the manner that their marketing experts had hoped for...

The catch line is that an MFI showroom is so expertly put together it’s just like being in your own home. Cue various family groups – all from the scummy end of town – having blazing rows and white trash spats against a backdrop of hastily constructed MFI furniture. The camera then pulls out as Wayne and Waynetta continue their Jerry Springer style dispute to reveal that lo! The couple aren’t in their own home at all but are in fact in an MFI warehouse looking at the wonderful array of suites and design ideas that the store has to offer. Gosh.

So much like home is MFI that the couple have plainly forgotten where they are and are carrying on like they’re in their own kitchen!

Oh ho ho. Chortle chortle.

Unfortunately the advert stops before they start hacking at each other with Stanley knives and then running upstairs to their MFI Kingsize Divan bed to start shagging each other witless like a couple of bit-part actors from Shameless.

Cos that apparently is what the average MFI customer is like.


That’s not exactly selling the store to me.

So it looks like I’ll be spending Boxing Day at home once again this year too.

Half A Sixpence. Mary Poppins. James Bond. It’ll be dire telly but better that than spending the entire afternoon watching Tracey and Kevin gouging out each other’s Marlborough scabbed eyes at MFI...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stick Witch

Feeling in a malevolent mood I deliberately watched Gillian McKeith’s new show – Three Fat Brides One Thin Dress – yesterday evening with the sole intention of taking it to task on my blog today.

Am I a sad git or what?

Anyway, as always Ms McKeith didn’t disappoint…

The thing with Gillian is… she might do health food. She might do dieting. She might do nutrition. But she sure as hell doesn’t do people. Not unless it’s to do over somebody’s already crumbling self-esteem that is.

Gillian’s emotional blitzkrieg approach gets my goat right on it’s belligerently hairy nelly. I honestly think she is rude, nasty and bitchy for the sheer hell of it. “Being cruel to be kind” is really no kind of excuse at all. Not when you are attacking someone on such a personal level in front of the entire nation. There is no need for it. It is unjustifiable. I bet Gok Wan pulls out his carefully dyed two-tone hair in absolute horror at Gillian’s Cruella antics.

I know that at the end of the day these women have agreed to appear on the programme but I’m sure a lot of their willingness to be televised is down to transient gratitude and inordinate relief when, at the end of Gillian’s 8-week regime, they find they are at last 2 stone and (more importantly) one sabre-toothed Scottish battleaxe lighter. When Gillian disappears back up her drainpipe they must all cheer and break out the stotty cakes in celebration. Awful woman!

She dares to tell them off for not loving themselves enough right after she’s landed the mother of all guilt trips upon them! I need her to see the full horror of what she’s doing to herself, says Gillian, as she presents one of the women with a coffin freshly engraved with her name. Into this she pours trifles, take-away curries and a host of other victual-based crimes that the poor woman has committed. How classy. Next she’s presenting the terrified women with beautifully wrapped mock wedding presents which, when opened, turn out to be diseased livers and clotted up hearts, etc… manky offal fresh from the butcher’s shop. Cue much heaving and gagging. But it’s all for their own good of course…

Surely there are better ways of getting someone to change their way of life than by scaring them and brow beating them into it? Gillian plainly sees herself as a God and these poor overweight women as her unworthy acolytes with which she may do anything in order to achieve the end result. What I see is a megalomaniacal dictator stomping over everybody’s feelings just to score points and ensure that her programme achieves its only selling point…

Weight loss.

Pure and simple.

It’s not about the women accepting themselves or undergoing counselling to deal with the issues that have possibly lead to their unhealthy eating. The goal is weight loss. Nothing more nothing less. Oh look. They’ve all lost 5 inches from their waists in a mere 8 weeks. Job done. Mission achieved. And off Gillian trots like one of those freaky automatons from Bladerunner… onto the next fat target that needs taking down a peg or two as well as a dress size.

What annoys me most about Gillian’s programmes is that the over weight people featured on them stand no chance whatsoever. They’re set up to look fat, gormless, contemptible and infantile. Last night saw three overweight brides-in-waiting struggling to get into wedding dresses that were deliberately chosen to be too small for them. Of course they looked awful. They looked dreadful and were naturally mortified. But if I tried to get into an outfit three sizes too small for me I’d look pretty horrible too! As my wife, Karen, pointed out: if these women had been put into dresses that actually fitted them every one of them would have looked gorgeous. But that, of course, is the Gok Wan approach.

Unfortunately this was Gillian’s show. So instead of beautiful Buddha we got bombastic Beelzebub.

One last thing. Gillian smugly pointed out that obese people live 9 years less than their thinner counterparts. Hmm. But if I have to look like Gillian McKeith to gain an extra 9 years on my lifespan then I’m breaking open the lardy cakes right now…

What’s the difference between Gillian McKeith and a walking corpse?

No. I couldn’t think of anything either.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sling Yer Hook

I’ve been in the wars again.

Sadly nothing glamorous. No last stand against the howling hordes of evil. No fight to the death with a foe both despicable and admirable.

Tripping over my own feet after a midnight visit to the bathroom saw me earthing myself fingers first and then crunching down hard onto my right shoulder. For a few seconds I’d feared I’d broken some bones and experienced that awful pain that, rather than loosen your vocal chords, actually constricts them fully closed. Thus I was flapping about in silent agony like a freshly caught fish until the pain subsided.

Thankfully no broken bones (that I can tell) and my wife has sent me to work this morning with my arm expertly enfolded in the supporting embrace of a sling.

I’m striking as many heroic gestures as I can and learning to pee with one hand.

Though not at the same time obviously.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Day Of The Jekyll

Saturday nights have become a rare televisual jewel.

I suspect it won’t last long but for the time being at least Saturday nights are a night of perfectly pristine telly.

Doctor Who, Doctor Who Confidential, Jekyll and Would I Lie To You? One after the other. Wow. The Beeb has got my bland demographic neatly tucked up in the dry heart of its performance indicators and I’m more than happy for it to be there.

Doctor Who I will gloss over as I know some of my fellow bloggers will analyse and probe last night’s episode to within an inch of shattering the head of its bulbously glowing laser screwdriver. But suffice to say, the thought that the Master’s screwdriver is much bigger than the Doctor’s causes me much mirth. However, I’m sure it’s what you do with it that counts, eh, Doctor?

Would I Lie To You? sees Angus Deayton back on TV and about time too I say. Yes he’s smug. Yes he’s superior and personally unlikeable but he is funny, professional and polished and is the perfect front man for any satire-based comedy quiz. Who gives a toss who he was screwing or what he was sniffing? He was caught with his pants down, didn’t deny it, apologized and that should have been the end of it. The BBC seems to view its employees the same way that a headmistress at an all girls’ school regards its adolescently burgeoning charges. I’m not sure that’s entirely appropriate.

Hmm. Angus Deayton in a St. Trinian’s uniform…?

No. Let’s not go there.

For me the crowning glory of last night was Jekyll. James Nesbitt, though physically too slight to fill the role of Hyde properly, does however compensate for most of the missing girth with a truly mesmerizing performance. Things got much darker last night – a tangle of sub plots is slowly unravelling itself and Steven Moffat is expert enough to keep the viewer hungrily focused by constantly supplying tiny but elegantly juicy titbits. Just enough to feed the hunger but not quite to sate it… not yet at any rate… not till he’s ready.

Hyde had more screen time last night – which is, of course, exactly what we want. Nesbitt is pacing his portrayal of this enigma just right… animalising and unhinging him more and more by slow degrees as the plot unfolds… but also allowing him to be startlingly intelligent, both instinctively and emotionally. That for me is far more terrifying that the quick cuts of slavering canines protruding from his jaws that the show frequently peppers itself with.

Michelle Ryan is also giving good service as Katherine Reimer – she’s pitched her performance well; a university post-grad vulnerability mixed with a haughty professionalism. She’s a good foil for both Hyde’s mania and Jackman’s victimization… and her good looks add an extra frisson, I’m sure, as most of the male viewers will be half desiring Hyde to get to grips with her just so they can indulge themselves in a spot of vicarious wantonness. Dirty bleeders. This is art for God’s sake. Kindly reign yourselves in, boys. She’s not that kind of girl though Hyde is definitely that kind of boy.

The only disappointment for me is Paterson Joseph playing the part of high rolling business man Benjamin. His American accent is lame and his constant grinning makes him look like Prince’s sidekick, Jerome Benton, from Under The Cherry Moon.

That’s not good. Not good at all.

I really wish he’d just Kiss off.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

When In Rome

I like Rome.

I admit the first series took a while to grow on me – it’s hard for any production about Roman life not to fall into the clichéd honey-traps of frequent orgies, bedsheet togas, busty slave girls and butch men wearing sandals but the Beeb’s first outing last year, whilst certainly referencing all of the above, still managed to pack in loads of grit and enough punches for the whole series to successfully impinge on my psyche in a positive way.

Hell. I’m wearing a toga as I type. Tentpole Toga. Hmm. Isn’t that the name of a punk band?

Anyway last night’s episode – the first of series two – kicked off immediately where the story had ended last time. Caesar’s crumpled and knifed body lying in a pool of blood and ordure in the Senate and his followers all running for their lives.

Straight in and no messing. That’s the style I like.

Polly Walker is back as the conniving Atia and although she’s looking far more mumsy around the edges than in the last series (and that’s not a complaint by any means) she still retains enough of a predilection for casual viciousness to make her character one of the most interesting on the screen. Her heaving bosom has absolutely nothing to do with it at all. Honest.

With a pushy mother like that no wonder Octavian went on to become one of Rome’s most successful emperors.

It’s also good to see Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson back as Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo respectively. They’re both great characters and generally provide the proactive element of the show. While the Senators and the women plot and scheme Lucius and Titus are the ones who go out sword in hand and with the barest of nods lop off a few heads. Plus a few arms and legs. And feet. And anything else that might be dangling loosely. It’s not a good idea to get on their bad side. Heads will roll. Literally.

Like I said: straight in and no messing is the style I like...

Which is not to say that the artistic side of their performance and dialogue delivery is not uniformly excellent too. There is a surprisingly subtle interplay between the two characters which is oddly affecting. This despite their penchant for thuggery and gory sword work. For me they are the engine of the show. Roaring away (not so quietly) in the background, providing the fuel, the motion and inevitably the spectacular car crashes which frequently punctuate the plot development.

The cast and producers of Rome have managed to both capture the flavour of the period and to modernize it sufficiently that it seems socially and politically relevant to today. An achievement that not everyone can accomplish (the producers and writers of the Beeb’s Robin Hood take note).

Bring on the busty slave girls. I’m ready for more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Packing Some Heat

Can I just point out that ordinarily I do not belong to a Heat Magazine reading household? It’s just that yesterday, on route to the dentist to sort out her troublesome tooth, Karen stopped off at a newsagents and picked up a copy to help take her mind off the awful ordeal ahead. Then once the magazine was brought into the house and left lying around I just happened – purely by chance – to glance into it.

As expected it was infested with endless drivel about Big Brother, D list celebrities, dieting fads and stories about unfeasibly amoral housewives with a penchant for PVC and bakelite.

Ok. I made up that last bit.

But one thing that did catch my eye and genuinely made me laugh was a Big Brother lookee-likee section.

There were the usual comparisons: Shabnam looking like Ken Dodd, Tracey looking like Sean Bean, etc.

But the best one of all was the revelation that Seany actually looks like Chunk from The Goonies...


I can’t wait to see his Jabba impression...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Another Novel Update

It occurred to me this morning that I haven't supplied my dear readers with a novel update for a while and people are possibly wondering if the damn thing is still in progress or lying gathering electro-magnetic dust on a hard-drive somewhere.

Well the good news is that it is still very much a work in progress. I'm chugging away at it steadily and am currently up to Chapter 8 - a grand total of 45,116 words to date.

Here, for your dubious delectation, is an extract from Chapter 6:

When I open my eyes the light has changed. The sky is the colour of luminous iron and the car has filled with the tips of long shadows. A blue light pulses somewhere from the back of my head. My eyes are blurry and sting when I rub them. I grimace as the smell of the car comes back to me. Caustic and bitter with an unpleasant twist of organic rot. I breathe in carefully through my mouth trying to bypass my nose. It’s getting dark outside. How long have I been here? I check my watch. 6.30. Christ. Cass will be home and wondering where the hell I am.

Next to me Trevor is unconscious in the driver’s seat. His head is tipped back onto the headrest and his mouth is wide open and loose looking, slightly moist around the edges. He reminds me of a drooling dog. I reach out and shake his shoulder. I’m groggy and move without any finesse. Trevor’s head jolts violently as I rattle his shoulders.

“Trevor. Trevor, it’s late. I’ve got to go.” My voice comes out in a dry rasp. I sound like I’ve spent the afternoon smoking weed. “Trevor!”

“What? What?” Trevor opens his eyes and regards me balefully. His eyes are bloodshot and red around the edges like an albino. He peers at me and frowns. It takes him a second or two to recognize me. “Mike...?” He peers in closer and then sighs. His breath smells like old mould. “Yes...” He nods. “Mike.” He looks exhausted. In the half light I can make out beads of sweat on his forehead and his hair darkened down with moisture. He rubs his face with one hand while the other remains on the book lying across his legs. It looks like a huge chunk of freshly quarried Yorkstone and Trevor a pre-Restoration peasant crushed to death for witchcraft.

“Trevor, I have to go – it’s late.” My head is spinning. How has it got so late? Where has the entire afternoon disappeared to?

Trevor nods vaguely but I see a sharpness returning to his eyes as he regards me. “Yes. Yes, of course. You may go, Mike. I’ll call in on you again soon. You’ll have the proof you need. We can discuss terms later.” He waves me off like a lord releasing a servant but I’m too out of sorts to react to it. “You go, Mike. Get yourself home. You can walk from here, I’m sure.” His head lolls back onto the headrest and I hear his breath hiss unpleasantly in and out of his throat.

“Yeah, whatever. Let’s just leave things for now, shall we?” I turn away from him, eager to be out of his presence, and reach for the door handle. I feel like a drunkard. It takes me three attempts to get the car door open and when I haul myself out I have to cling to the roof of the mini to stop myself dropping straight down onto the tarmac. My breath steams cloud patterns onto the metal roof as I labour to get air into my lungs and blood into my legs. I couldn’t feel worse if I’d sat through a long haul flight to Australia.

I stamp the blood into my feet and make an attempt to let go off the car roof. I wobble precariously for a few seconds but I don’t fall. That’s good enough for me; I’m desperate to be away. God knows what’ll be going through Cassie’s mind. I push the car door closed and without a look backwards push myself off. I aim roughly for the pavement and just about make it, my feet nudging each other like a pair of dodgems. Another drunk wending his way home. Up ahead of me, on the other side of the street, I spot an ambulance and the green and yellow uniforms of paramedics kneeling on the ground. The cold air on my face is wonderfully revitalising and I pause for a minute to suck it deep into my lungs. I feel cleansed by it and inexplicably healed. Slowly I feel the dull pressure of a gross headache lift from off the top of my skull and disappear up into the darkening ether. It’s like having a rotting mask removed by a crane. By the time I walk parallel with the ambulance I feel almost back to normal, just the running panic of being unbelievably late and the distant instinct of approaching trouble because of it.

As I glance over to the other side of the road the crowd of onlookers part briefly and I spot the tramp from earlier this afternoon lying on his back on the pavement. His limbs are strangely twisted as if he’d thrashed violently around him as he fell. Even in the dulling light I can see the whites of his eyes glisten flatly like clammy mushrooms. One of the paramedics is calling a report through on his radio but nobody seems to be in a rush to get him on board. I take that to be a very bad sign. I shake my head dourly but without any sense of true feeling. So long, Fagin... I don’t let it touch me. I’m comfortably numb. Insulated by the after effects of some kind of inebriation. Instead I push onwards through the evening light and navigate the familiar strangeness of the streets, my heart pulsing covetously. Heading home.

Monday, June 18, 2007


After an extremely busy weekend I feel absolutely done-in. So apologies to anyone expecting a post sparkling with my usual wit and bonhomie. At the moment my eyes are gummed up with fatigue and my brain powered down with the same.

Not a pretty sight. But then I’m not much cop on a good day either.

An eventful day off on Friday saw Karen and I lunching together at a lovely Thai restaurant in Stratford, watching our boy perform in his school assembly and then hotfooting it to the cinema to see Spiderman 3... which I actually enjoyed. I used to get the Spiderman comic as a kid so Spidey always has appeal – Kirsten Dunst is just an added bonus. Mind you I wasn’t sure about her “jazz club singing” in this particular outing. Still easy on the eye often means deaf to the ear...

Saturday was taken over by a phenomenal bout of pregnancy related toothache that afflicted Karen from the outset. Cue various phone calls to NHS Direct, cue endless waiting for unsympathetic doctors to call back and refer us on somewhere else and then somewhere else and then somewhere else that referred us back to the original number. It was like some kind of tortuous dance. Once we’d jumped through enough hoops we were finally allowed to see a doctor at the hospital (by which time Karen was screaming in agony) to get some industrial strength painkillers which could dull the pain and not harm the baby.

God I love the NHS.

Sunday saw us trying to catch up on all we’d missed on Saturday – house chores, gardening chores, shopping chores and in between I did some work on a web site I’ve been commissioned to build for a local chauffeur company. Once it’s completed I will no doubt post a link to it on this ‘ere blog.

And now here I am at work on Monday wondering where the hell the weekend went.

Work is great fun today. All the bad weather last week resulted in leaks bursting forth everywhere and much warping of wood. Guess who’s having to spearhead the clean up / repair operation?


I’m in me galoshes once again.

It’s non stop glamour, my life...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Feline Fine

A “shock” ending to The F Word last night (though not that shocking really given the nature of the industry that Gordon Ramsay works in): one of Gordon’s young lambs was killed and half eaten.

So just an ordinary day at Chez Ramsay then...

Actually to be fair – and because I do actually like Mr Ramsay – poor Gordy was quite cut up about the ad hoc butchery that had befallen his beloved Charlotte (the Welsh bred lambs were named rather fittingly after Charlotte Church and Gavin Whatever-his-name-is-who-got-her-up-the-duff).

And to make matters worse Gordy’s sheep had been paddocked in the extensive and expensive grounds of Beckhingham Palace, the nouveau riche pseudo ancestral home of David Beckham and his clothes-hanger wifelet, Posh (formerly known as Spice).

Geez. If you can’t be safe in the grounds of Posh Towers where can you be?

The carcass (like Posh) was not a pretty sight – everything below the exposed ribcage (like Posh) seemed to have been stripped clean. It was odd to see someone who must be so used to chopping up cuts of meat turn almost green at the spectacle of a freshly eviscerated lamb. I guess context played a big part in it. Maybe if Charlotte had been shoved onto a sparkly white plate and garnished with a bit of parsley and mint Gordon would have been waxing lyrical about the "juicy freshness" and the "moist bloodiness" of the meat.

But maybe not so happy about the teeth marks that were plastered all over it...

Anyway, veterinary investigation didn’t rule out the possibility that Charlotte had been mauled by a “big cat”. Indeed this view was backed up by a big cat expert who just happened to be lying around Hertfordshire waiting for Gordon to call him.

Further investigation (i.e. talking to local people at the nearest watering hole) garnered loads of anecdotal evidence regarding Panther-like beasts slinking over the neighbouring fields and carrying off young bullocks and occupied people carriers in their slavering jaws... never to be seen again.

Ooh! Spooky!

Personally, given the location of Gordy’s lambs, I can think of only one big cat malnourished enough to gobble up half a live sheep and then leave its carcass totally fleeced in the middle of a Hertfordshire field...

And that’s Posh herself.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


The funniest quote from Paris Hilton over the last few days has been her observation that being in prison is like being trapped “in a cage”.

How remarkably astute.

I look forward to more daringly apt similes from Paris along the lines of: “being in prison is like being stuck behind bars” and “being in prison is like being confined to one room all day and not being allowed out to do any shopping. Or drive my car really fast.”

The one I’d most like to hear from her lips, however, runs along the lines of: “I daren’t take a shower because Vinegar Tits keeps trying to pinch my soap on a rope...”

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ragun Bow

Karen and I availed ourselves of a traditional English street service over the weekend – the good old Rag N Bone man.

After the removal of our palatial greenhouse a couple of weeks ago the garden was left with a few metallic stragglers whose rusty loitering was beginning to make the garden look extremely untidy. Swift action was called for... and it came fleet of foot on a white charger just like in the days of old.

Well. Maybe not exactly like the days of old. Today’s modern Rag N Bone man no longer employs a magnificent dray horse to pull his cart or even wields a mighty wheelbarrow with which to collect household junk. Instead our particular Rag N Bone man turned up with a huge white flatbed truck with which he merrily transported various shelving units, two old broken hoovers and a vast array of assorted mystery metal work back to his yard or wherever it is that he deposits all his hard gotten gains.

He did however have a magnificent horn (please, ladies and gentleman, please!) which sounded his approach from at least two whole blocks away. Once he entered the mouth of our street we could clearly hear the carefully enunciated call of “Ragun Bow! Ra-Bow!” and knew that our saviour was near.

The garden now looks a hell of a lot tidier but there’s still loads of work left to do... weeding, pruning, removing an old water butt....

And the water butt is going to be a job and a half. Turning on the tap to empty the damn thing I was dismayed to see nothing but a pathetic trickle dribbling out onto the path rather than the expected rush of water akin to a damn bursting.

At the current rate it’s going to take 2 weeks before the ruddy thing is empty.

Peering inside the butt I was horrified to see a thick brown soup stodgily glooping up its innards with a surface skin thick enough to land a Cherokee helicopter upon. Administrations with a space merely brought various unwholesome looking bubbles up to the surface... and a slight sense of resistance near the bottom indicated that there was something softly organic submerged somewhere in the depths of the water...

I wasn’t brave enough to find out exactly what.

Rags and bones indeed...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Mind Your Language

It was only a few days ago that I was complaining about how lank and limp the current incarnation of Big Brother was... and then suddenly we have another huge racism row to entertain us!

Well. It was hardly huge and to my mind it was hardly entertaining.

Blonde starlet-wannabe (and self confessed most intelligent person in the house), Emily Parr was ignominiously booted out of the BB house yesterday for using the N word. And I’m not talking about “norks”, “nellies” or “nipple-clamps”.

Or “Nazi”.

Were the BB bosses right to act so harshly – no mercy and no quarter offered?

I’m not sure that they were. I think there is something of the freshly converted puritan in their knee-jerk reaction. Sure the word is offensive and Emily Parr deserves to be punished for her gross stupidity in uttering it... but immediate dismissal from the house?

Surely that’s using a sledge hammer to kill a fly?

Last year we witnessed sustained racially motivated attacks carried out on Shilpa Shetty over a period of several weeks – carried out by people who can said to be media au fait. They certainly should have known better. The BB bosses did very little to remedy the appalling situation that developed – too little too late at the time and, in terms of the begrudging apology that was broadcast at the start of this current series of BB, too little too late now.

The current housemates by comparison, for all they might come over all knowing and media-cool, are in fact grossly naïve and inexperienced both in relation to the fame world and to life itself. I’d argue that their level of culpability is slightly less than that of the likes of Jade Goodey, Jo O’Meara and Danielle Lloyd, the three witches of the last BB series. I’d certainly argue that in the case of Emily Parr.

Some other form of punishment would have more than sufficed. An enforced wet t-shirt contest maybe? Or to be made to re-enact the famous restaurant scene in When Harry Met Sally... but completely naked? Coupled with a very public, very large, very genuine apology of course... and maybe have her up for eviction three weeks in a row? Let the public voice their opinion on the matter.

Her instant dismissal smacks of retrograde muscle flexing. She’s picking up the tab created by the previous racism row queens.

And wiping the Big Brother boss’s shared slate clean in the process.

And that isn’t fair at all.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Demon Barber

I’ve just returned to my computer after getting my hair cut at one of Leamington Spa’s most recommended barbers, Francesco’s, in my lunch break.

Bloody hell but the guy who dealt with my hair was rough (not Francesco himself alas). Sweeney Todd just doesn’t come into it. I feel like my head has been savaged by an irradiated combine harvester driven by a rabid three-legged Alsatian high on turps.

The comb was scraped so hard across my scalp you can plant potato seeds in the furrows and my ears resemble a pair of McCoy’s crinkle cut crisps (cheese and onion flavour, thank you for asking).

Even the fluffy brush thing with which he finished off his follicle artwork was batted about like he was playing Australia in the Ashes. Six!

Wow. A haircut and an Indian head massage all in one go. Now that’s what I call service.

Thankfully his finesse with the scissors was exemplary. Bloody good job as I suspect he could have snipped the gonads off a gnat in mid flight with the ruddy things.

The man barely spoke – which normally doesn’t bother me as I like someone to concentrate when they’re swishing about my head and face with sharpened cutting devices – but he did have a weird penchant for humming the Yankee Doodle Dandy tune. Even weirder his mobile phone rang half way through and he deliberately left it unanswered just so he could listen to the ring tone...

Yes. You’ve guessed it: Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Played on a banjo no less.

As a ring tone...


I mean really!

But what about the haircut I hear you ask...


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

BB Gun

It’s just not grabbing me. Not at all,

God knows I’m not a fan of Big Brother but I admit I enjoy the debate and outrage that it usually inspires in the nation. Whether it’s a worthwhile bona fide social experiment or not is not important. I just think it does the nation good to analyse itself occasionally and pull a few skeletons out of the wardrobe for a good airing. The Shilpa-gate racism row last year was a case in point.

This year though I feel a big fat nothing.

And that’s fat as opposed to phat.

Sure, Charley is getting on everybody’s Charley’s with her constant motor-mouthed bitching and her “I’m all that” ghetto-ho posturing... but compared to other years it barely registers a 1.5 on the old BB Controversy Metre. She’s a D-list wannabe. Her sights are set so low they barely protrude above the shag-pile. Who gives a stuff?

I do find her “famous people are my friends” stance hilariously funny though. No Charley, these people – these footballers – are not your friends. They don’t come to your house or ring you up. You stalk them. You throw yourself at them. You hover, you simper and you hope against hope that your jiggling boobies get you noticed. Personally, I’d find a pair of shin-pads infinitely more interesting to look at...

Even the arrival of Ziggy has done little to up the excitement factor. Ironically, if the BB bosses were hoping to put a pigeon among the cats what they actually got was an indolent, surprisingly socially astute lion who’s incessant urbanity seems to smooth the waves around him rather than crank them up to force 10. He’s like oil on water. Slick. Too slick.

What we need is someone to strike the match.

And worst of all there’s nobody in the house that I unreservedly like. There’s nobody to pitch for or come out fighting for. I really don’t care a brass farthing about any of them.

Either BB is growing stale or I’m growing old.

But. There is hope. As people have pointed out to me, it’s early days yet. The cat fur might yet be flying before the series grinds itself to a lip-glossed halt.

I just hope I can stay awake for that long.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Captain Grim

This is probably an unfair posting but I just can’t help it.

Part of my duties at work involve managing the small team of cleaners that maintain the cleanliness and hygiene of the building. Now before I get accused of snobbery I’d just like to point out that I did such work myself during my twenties. It’s demeaning, thankless, boring and ultimately unrewarding. However, it did allow me the freedom to write to my heart’s content for years and years without my creativity being debilitated by a stressful working life. And cleaning does have some amazing pros: you’re pretty much your own boss, there’s precious little responsibility, it’s not difficult and when your work is done you can go home, forget all about it and concentrate on the stuff that’s really important to you.

I have a tremendous amount of respect and even a little envy for anybody who cleans for a living. I really do.

So why is it that I absolutely can’t stand the cleaner where I work? I shan’t mention his name because that really wouldn’t be fair.

There is something so... spiritually desiccating about the man, it’s unbelievable. He only has to approach me and I feel my life force being sucked out of me and a dark rain cloud of gloom being inserted into the cavity it leaves. He’s a depressed and depressing vampire. Everything this man says is a lament or a tale of mundane woe. Everything. But worst of all it’s also so grovellingly accusing.

  • Steve, we’re run out of loo rolls... and it’s your fault.

  • Steve, the toilets are blocked... and it’s your fault.

  • Steve, vandals have broken the sinks and are running amok with AK-47s... and it’s your fault.


But what I hate most of all is the simple fact that this man doesn’t EVER listen to whoever he’s having a conversation with. He’ll ask the same question or make the same point eight times in a single conversation without once registering that it was responded to after the first instance. It’s maddeningly infuriating!

Steve, the toilets are blocked.

I know. The plumber is on his way.

Steve, the toilets are blocked.

Yes. The plumber has been called. He’s on his way.

Steve, the toilets are blocked.

Are you listening? The plumber is coming RIGHT NOW to deal with it.

Steve, the toilets are blocked.

Look I’m gonna shove this plunger up where the sun doesn’t shine in a minute!

Steve, the toilets are blocked...

And so on and so forth. Ad bloody infinitum.

Lastly – and this weirds me out big time – he sings to himself.

Nothing strange about that, you may think. But... he sounds like a ruddy Clanger. With a Geordie accent! I kid you not. “Bu-bu-bu-booo-boooo! Boooo-booo-bu-bu-bu-boooooo!” The corridors resound everyday to the ghostly yet faintly melodic wailing of hand-knitted children’s television show puppets from the 1970s. The toilet pans echo to their plaintive cries.

Ha-wey! These bogs are blumin blocked agen, Steve man! Is the plumber comin’..?!

It’s doing my effing head in.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

It’s A Boy. Probably.

Karen and I went for the 20 week scan at the hospital yesterday… or rather the 21 week scan in our case.

It was quite a nerve-racking ordeal as this was the point last year that we discovered the baby was dead. Hence we didn’t particularly have good associations with the process.

I’m glad to say, however, that all is very well in womb-land and baby is developing nicely. Good strong heartbeat and everything appears to be in order. Obviously there is still a way to go but so far things are looking good.

They also had a look to see if they could determine the gender (at our request). After a bit of nosying around they were pretty sure that 'baby' is a boy.

We’re dead chuffed. To tell the truth, boy or girl we don’t really care as long as they’re fit and healthy and have a penchant for winning the Lottery. Actually that last part is an optional extra. Fit and healthy will be rich enough for us.

Names… names…! Now that we know the sex we’ve been mulling over a few names.

We’ve unfortunately discounted Napoleon and Ludwig. And Anakin too, much to the chagrin of our boy, Ben.

Instead we’ve pretty much settled on Thomas Arthur. But hey, that could all change between now and October (the due date).

Enjoy the scan above. Tom wishes to say “hi”…