Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Pinch

Lord knows the times are hard for everyone at the moment (though the local pawn broker seems to be doing a roaring trade) but for the Blake household the shit has finally hit the fan, disintegrated at speed and then ricocheted around at a full 4D 360 degrees and coated absolutely everything.

I’m not going to reveal the harrowing state of my finances in detail but as some of you know I was already scouting around for a 3rd job (on top of my full time local authority post and my part time web design business) to help cover the shortfall we were experiencing.

We seem to be one of those families that has fallen in-between the cracks of social welfare. We can’t afford to have Karen not working but neither can we afford to put Tom into full time child care if Karen works full time. Therefore Karen works part-time and Tom goes into childcare part time. Which we still can’t afford. But as we can’t afford the full time child care even more we’ve no choice... It’s not even a vicious circle. It’s just a vicious hole.

I’ve had no real luck with acquiring a third job so far though was offered a post at a school – cleaning – for 17.5 hours a week last week. Unfortunately it would have meant me leaving the house at 8.30am to fulfill my full time employment obligations, finishing at 5.30pm, walking 2 miles to the school and then working through until 9.30 at night 5 days a week.

I was sorely tempted as we need the money so badly.

Karen however put her foot down. Something about loving me and not wanting me in hospital with exhaustion by Christmas and on the mortuary slab with a heart attack by Easter 2010.

Thinking about it, I suppose, she had a point. I’d be half dead within a month and wouldn’t have seen much of my family for the duration – which at the end of the day is who I’m doing all this for.

So I turned it down.

But I’m now wondering whether I’ve looked at a gift horse in the mouth and bitten the hand that was offering me food.

My little web design business has effectively bitten the dust.

I had two regular clients whose commissions each month added about £200 to the family coffers. The first is an amateur photographer and I’d built him a site to showcase his work. The other had various recruitment web sites and supplied me with the bulk of my work. They had bloody good rates from me – a darn sight cheaper than anything a high street internet business would have offered them. And both were making a decent amount of money from their sites – in fact the recruitment people have bought themselves new premises and new sports cars... or so my insider mole has told me.

However it seems Mr Photographer has acquired a new friend who is Flashed up to the gills (I can’t afford to buy a book on Flash at the moment let alone go for retraining) and is happy to work for the fiscal equivalent of peanuts. This is fine. Mr Photographer is not a business, he’s an individual. It’s his prerogative. Though I am hurt that after a long association he hasn’t had the decency to actually tell me that he’s dropped me in favour of another web designer. Instead I’ve had to find out through a mutual friend who is as disappointed in his actions as I am.

What really cheeses me off though is that Mr Photographer has also sold this new cheaper web designer to my other clients who, being chancers of the highest order, have also dropped me – again without any notification or “thank you very much for your services but this is goodbye”. And given their untrustworthy business nature I’m now very doubtful that they’ll pay my last invoice – thankfully they’re only into me for £90 but it’s £90 I desperately need.

My family’s one and only lifeline has effectively been severed just to save someone else a few pounds.

I know. I know.

It’s business. I shouldn’t take it personally. It’s not like we had a binding contract.

But I am very upset by it all and am feeling rather defeated and shat on at the moment. Acquiring new business in the current climate is extremely difficult. Acquiring a client who requires regular work is virtually impossible. It’s a real rarity.

I have no idea what we’re going to do. It’s no longer a case of us having no money.

We have less than no money.

Our only hope now is my aunt’s will and a bunch of solicitors who are content to swim slowly through toffee to get it sorted out.

I only hope we can keep our heads above water until the lifeboats reach us...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

With Nobs On

With the BAFTAs out of the way we can at last move onto the REAL award ceremony. The Noblesse Oblige Awards.

(And sadly Jonathon Ross hasn’t won one of these either.)

I was nominated a couple of weeks ago by the superlative EmmaK who’s blog, Mommy Has A Headache, has tickled my fancy almost as many times as its tickled my funny bone. It was a tremendous honour to receive this award though I disappointingly noted that there was no 5 course meal, cabaret or excuse to hire a tux involved. Just the glamour and kudos of acquiring the award. However, in these days of austerity and recession I wouldn’t have been able to afford the coke or the after party hookers anyway so who’s to say it wasn’t a win-win situation after all?

The award works like this:

The recipient of this award is recognised for the following:

1) The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervades amongst different cultures and beliefs.
2) The Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage and offers solutions.
3) There is a clear purpose at the Blog; one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Culture and Sciences and Beliefs.
4) The Blog is refreshing and creative.
5) The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.

The Blogger who receives this award will need to perform the following steps:

1) Create a Post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.
2) The Award Conditions must be displayed at the Post.
3) Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved – preferably citing one or more older post to support.
4) The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award conditions.
5) Blogger must display the Award at any location at the Blog.

I’m not going to follow the directions to the letter (it’s just the kind of cavalier guy I am – I’m an extreme blogger after all, dudes) but I am, with great delight, going to pass on the Noblesse Oblige award to showcase the talents of a select few of my favourite bloggers. It’s a tough choice because I love all the blogs that are listed in my sidebar but, to follow EmmaK’s example (and because I’m lazy) I’m only going to pick out and honour 5. Please don’t hold it against me if you are not picked – it is just that my love for your particular blog is beyond all description and defies expression in every language.

And so the winners are:

1) Diary Of An Old Cheeser: He’s been gone for a while but now he’s back. Hopefully for good. School teacher, self-confessed Whovian and cheesy TV aficionado the Old Cheeser is a reading must for those of you who like your TV served up hot, spicy and... well, cheesy. OC has a delightfully humorous touch and a penchant for saucy commentary that would make Graham Norton blush. This blog is guaranteed to brighten anybody’s day. In fact even Gordon Brown has been known to crack one off to OC’s blog. A smile that is.

2) The Reluctant Blogger: What can I say? RB’s blog has long been a safe and comfortable online haven for me, Articulate, sensitive, expressive, thought provoking and always, always warmly humane. RB has a writing style that is welcoming and all inclusive. It’s impossible to visit merely once. You will simply have to keep going back for more. And more.

3) Magic Lantern Show: I only discovered this blog a week or two ago though I think it was more of a case that this blogger stumbled onto me and was good enough to bestow a few intriguing comments my way. My curiosity was piqued and I followed them back to the source. I’m glad I did. I’m still sussing out the blog world of Magic Lantern Show but already I’ve been dazzled by wonderful photography, incredible writing, exciting travelogues and a brilliantly eclectic selection of posts. Go check it out.

4) A Write Blog: another recent addition to my blogging canon. AWB writes posts and leaves comments that are superbly crafted and challenging and push the reader to think a little deeper. No mean feat in this age of instant electronic gratification. AWB engages the reader on so many levels... if you’ve not dropped by before now I suggest you make an appointment in your diary to head over there as soon as possible.

5) Through A Glass, Darkly: one of those blogs that makes you cry out, “where have you been all of my life?” Brother Tobias has trodden the blogging boards for a while now and it is truly an honour to have him stop by and leave a carefully considered comment or three. The man has everything: style, panache and a humble and unpretentious sense of honour and dignity. Brother T’s posts balance gracefully between worldly wise and wide eyed wonder and are never sourly cynical or dismissive. To visit this blog is to breathe the free air. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Congratulations my friends. ‘Tis an honour to pass this award onto you all. Do with it as you will.

And so, in my closing speech, it only remains for me to say that I only wish I had time and energy enough to showcase all of the blogs on my reading list. For you are all wonderful and deserving of praise and riches and I thank you all for your dedication to the blogging cause.

And now I shall virtually retire and virtually polish my virtual award, stare at my mantelpiece and think how much more attractive it is than one of those awfully kitsch BAFTAs.

And far easier to dust.

Friday, April 24, 2009


So it was St George’s Day yesterday and the whole occasion hit me as a bit of a paradox.

Firstly – unless I went around in a zombiefied state yesterday (perfectly possible) – I seem to have totally missed any notification that it was St George’s day from the news media. This seems to me to be entirely wrong. I think a little bit of national pride can be a good thing and we should justly celebrate our Englishness one day a year just as the Irish quite rightly enjoy a good rave up on St Patrick’s Day. It’s about time the English stopped mooching around in their hoodies and behaving like the cross of St George is some kind of criminal brand.

OK. Soapbox dispensed with.

And then on the way home from work last night I came across a huge bunch of people obviously doing the above with unrestrained gusto outside a town centre pub. And I promptly went back to wishing my fellow countrymen would spend the entire day mooching around in their hoodies and trying not to be picked up on the local CCTV cameras.

It was ugly. It was bullish. And it made me feel ashamed.

Can we English not exhibit national pride without making it look xenophobic, aggressive and something akin to football thuggery?

And what or where is this “Eng-er-land” of which they so raucously chant?

I don’t want to live in Eng-er-land!

It sounds, well to be honest, unappetizingly Neanderthal. A bit backwards and inbred. A land of beer gutted, ruddy faced pie eating brutes who discordantly sing “God Save The Queen” while at the same time giving anyone with a home counties accent a good kicking for being “a bit of a sneering toff”.

I know, I know. I’m being a snob.

Why shouldn’t the common people (of which I am one) celebrate St George’s Day the common way (10 pints of ale and a gristle pie)? After all England isn’t just about Ascot, the Boat Race and Vaughan Williams, is it? It’s also about football and darts and fish & chips. And chavs. And underage pregnancy. And Big Brother. And men who walk around shirtless at the first sign of sunshine in April in a desperate attempt to get a fast-track tan only to succeed in making themselves look like pigeon-toed irradiated sides of beef.

But for Lord’s sake, where is the sense of pride in our pride? Where is the sense of self respect? Where is the noble aspect, the aspiration? The inspiration?

Surely celebrating our national identity should be a chance to hold our heads up high – not merely to lift our beer bellies up out of the gutter while we spew several cans of Special Brew and a hastily masticated kebab down the drain?

When on earth did St George become synonymous with Bacchus? Or worse still, the BNP?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fun To Funky

The BBC managed to divide my loyalties last night.

Was it to be Heroes – now already half way through the much improved fourth series? Or was it to be the first episode of the brand new series of Ashes To Ashes?

In the end it was no contest. The twin allure of Keeley Hawes and “Gene Hunt” (possibly the finest fictional cop creation of the last 20 years) managed to knock Hayden Patisserie (or whatever her name is) and Silage into a cocked hat.

The Quattro beats the Petrellis as sure as rock beats scissors.

Apologies for those of you who don’t get this show but your loss enables the rest of us to feel smug. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Yes. My life is complete. The Gene Genie is back not only with a vengeance but also with a cracking soundtrack that featured The Human League, Duran Duran and The Thompson Twins (I used to love The Thompson Twins – it was so nice to hear them again).

Hawes’ “Alex Drake” character has been given something of a makeover – the New Wave makeup has been toned down, the perm has disappeared in favour of a flicky bob and her hot pants are now tighter than Hunt’s shoulder holster. In fact whereas a bullet from Hunt stands only a 99% chance of flooring you the arsenal Keeley is packing in those hot pants is guaranteed to a put a red blooded male on his back without fail 100% of the time and without leaving an unsightly exit wound. A definite plus for those of you who can’t afford dry cleaning bills. She can fire a few rounds in my direction any time.

Last night’s episode tipped us straight into the heart of Soho and endemic police corruption and featured a script that could cut diamonds. In turns both funny and moving it was virtually impossible to keep tabs on all the references that peppered the dialogue. But why bother even trying? Just sit back and enjoy the ride in the knowledge that the cops aren’t going to pull you over for not wearing a seatbelt and won’t bang you up for sporting a mullet. Folks, good times are here again.

It’s time to roll those jacket sleeves up, loosen that leather pencil tie and whack some Dire Straits onto the tape deck.

Welcome back to the Eighties.

Home at last!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Psychic Jam

Sauntering along to the local shops the other day I was struck by the sheer number of satellite dishes that adorn the houses – my own included though we are not connected (it came with the house and we haven’t as yet motivated ourselves sufficiently to have it removed).

And not for the first time – after all this is hardly an earth shatteringly original thought – I found myself musing on the terrifyingly large volume of radio waves that we must all spend our lives totally immersed within. TV, radio, satellite, citizen’s band, police radios, MI5 ops (they’re always hanging around outside my house) not to mention various pirate radio stations and various terrorist groups constructing vast microwave machines to fry our pituitary glands while we’re sleeping.

It can’t be good for us, surely, all that static and electronic caterwauling constantly beaming its way through our genetic building blocks? I’m not sure I want my DNA modified by Chris Moyles though Jo Whiley is very welcome to run her fingers through my scintillating chromosomes.

It’s only a transient worry, I admit. I hold it only for a few seconds and then it’s gone (possibly fried out of my brain cells by Jihadi microwaves) but it does keep recurring.

How do we know that all these radio waves aren’t having an adverse effect on our emotional make-up? That we’re not being psychologically damaged?

I’d love to be able to breathe some clean, unadulterated air one day just to be able to find out. To do this I need to find somewhere that’s in a technological blind spot – literally off the radar.

Anyone got any suggestions?

(Royston Vasey doesn’t count.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Embarrassing Bodies

Believe it or not the photo above has not been Photoshopped by me; it is a genuine publicity shot for Channel 4’s new series of Embarrassing Bodies.

Karen and I caught it by accident on Wednesday night and promptly wish we hadn’t.

Now, I’m not a prude. I’ve seen my fair share of questionable acts and physical performances that would make a professional voyeur gag on his binoculars but let’s not discuss my surfing history here.

This show had Karen and I heaving.

It was grotesque. It was macabre. It was unforgivingly gynaecological. So much so I felt I ought to be wearing a pair of rubber gloves and squeezing a speculum.

The basic premise of the show is simple. Members of the public with a varying assortment of embarrassing conditions (everything from verrucas, lax sphincter muscles and prolapses of every shape, form and orifice) visit one of the show’s three doctors – on camera – to display their poorly dangly bits to all and sundry in an attempt to help the rest of us overcome any embarrassment we may feel about our own spots and blemishes. The fundamental ethos of the programme is good: don’t put up with it – grasp the nettle by the horns (or the scabs) and get it sorted out by your friendly neighbourhood doctor. Don’t let embarrassment ruin your life!


But do we really need to see a prolapsed cervix up close and personal in grindingly red HD ready Technicolor?

And the poor man having a catheter inserted down his jap-eye... was the macro lens really essential?

We just didn’t need to see it. It added nothing to the show. It enhanced my viewing pleasure not a jot except to provoke in me the same feeling of revulsion I sometimes get when I pass a butcher’s shop window early in the morning.

It was simply too much.

The programme was more like a training documentary for would-be surgeons than an inoffensive and informative programme that everyone from little Tommy to his granny could happily watch of an evening without retching up their freshly masticated oven ready meal.

Have we become so self-obsessed as a species that we now need to commission reality TV shows about our bottom malfunctions and our toe fungi in our overriding desire to probe every single avenue and biological cul-de-sac of our scatological existence?

And this was on a full hour before the 9 o’clock watershed!

No warning. No cautionary voiceover. Just wham bam here’s my spam.


To finish, my final thought is this: surely you can’t be that embarrassed if you’re prepared to let a Channel 4 technician plunge his camera mount so deeply inside you that your pelvic floor effectively doubles as a lens cap?

Embarrassing bodies my arse!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


...over at The Eds...

For Clippy Mat... try adding this code to create a link to me. Right click the link below and choose "Save target as". Then download it / open it and copy and paste the code to your blog list. Hope it works!


Monday, April 13, 2009

Burglary With Style

Robin Hood had it. The Great Train Robbers had it. Bonnie and Clyde had it in spades. Prometheus. The Artful Dodger… the list could go on.

Great thieves, ladies and gentlemen. Robbers with style. Bandits with a bit of class.

You can’t help admiring them. The guts. The arrogance. The sheer chutzpah of their endeavours.

They have now been joined by an as yet unnamed fellow from India who managed to hypnotize (yes, you read that right – HYPNOTIZE) a Mumbai jewellery store worker out of £160,000 dollars worth of loot.

Yahoo news reports it thus:

“Indian police are hunting a conman who hypnotised a Mumbai jewellery store worker before stealing 160,000 dollars worth of diamond necklaces and bracelets.

Katrina Sunil Purswami, who works at the Seres store in the upmarket Bandra West suburb, was told by the man on Saturday that he wanted to give the gems as a present and persuaded her to bring them to a nearby hotel.

"When the employee went to the hotel, the accused acted like he was the owner," senior police inspector Prakash George was quoted as saying by the Daily News and Analysis newspaper on Monday.

"As Purswami was showing him the sets, he asked her to write the details of the sets for him. He then hypnotised her and decamped with the ornaments. Purswami was left confused and could not understand what was going on."

The officer said the jeweller's store was newly opened and the owner allowed the employee to visit the hotel with the diamonds because he thought he was in line for a large sale.

Police are studying CCTV from the hotel to try to identify the conman but cameras at the shop were not working, George said.”

I think this is marvellous.

I know theft is wrong but there is just something so brilliant about this story. Nobody got hurt. I’m sure the jeweller had insurance. Property and person were not injured. I’m not advocating what has happened but, by God, I’d like to shake the thief by the hand (whilst avoiding his mesmeric gaze lest my cheap wristwatch find itself inveigled into his back pocket while I perform chicken impressions to the bemusement of all on-lookers).

I just wonder how he did it.

Did he swing a pocket watch in front of the hapless shop assistant? “I’m sorry miss, but I think my watch is skipping a second or two… could you keep a close eye on it for a minute and see what you think?”

Did he stare intensely into her eyes, soul locked to soul, and speak in a voice lower than Barry White’s gonads and impel her helplessly to do as he said?

Or did he fire lightning bolts into her from his fingertips like The Emperor from Star Wars and cackle evilly as her body, stiffened into a sub-zombie state, staggered around the room and dropped a hundred thousand pounds worth of Tom Foolery into his lap… candy from a baby style.

Most important of all: did he have a long thin moustache which he twirled wickedly before tossing his black silk cape over his shoulder and fleeing from the scene of his crime?

There is surely a great novel in this story and if I wasn’t 180,000 words into one already I’d be musing on the plot and the characters and trying to acquire an agent.

I only hope that when the police find him – as they surely will (a trail of people clucking like chickens is hard to miss) – he isn’t found with a Paul Mckenna self help book sticking out of his back pocket (along with my watch).

That would be so disappointing.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spokesperson For A Generation

Good old Parky.

Now in his 70’s he’s reached that glorious age where you think, “oh bugger it, I’ll just say whatever the hell I like and the consequences and fall out be-damned”.

I’d almost be envious except that – at just over half his age – I appear to have reached that wonderful state already.

Up until now I’ve steered clear of commenting on Jade Goody’s death because I figured my opinions wouldn’t be particularly helpful or palatable for all they’ve been passionately held. I bit my lip when the news channels gave up the whole of Mothering Sunday to eulogize Jade’s passing. I bit my lip at the comparisons with Princess Diana (WTF?)! And I ripped my tongue out by its root when live footage of Jade’s funeral cortege actually made it live onto CNN.

I mean fer Chrissake!

Her death was sad because she was so young but did she really warrant the ridiculous media circus that fogged / dogged the whole event like a miasmic melodrama?

Parky’s recent outburst encapsulates my sentiments exactly. To quote him:

"Jade Goody has her own place in the history of television and, while it's significant, it's nothing to be proud of. Her death is as sad as the death of any young person, but it's not the passing of a martyr or a saint or, God help us, Princess Di. When we clear the media smoke screen from around her death, what we're left with is a woman who came to represent all that's paltry and wretched about Britain today. She was brought up on a sink estate, as a child came to know drugs and crime, was barely educated, ignorant and puerile. Then she was projected to celebrity by Big Brother and became a media chattel to be exploited until the day she died."

Spot on, Parky. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

I never liked Jade’s media persona and though I would never have wished death upon her I do frown at her status of celebrity. It was not deserved. It was not earnt.

There are many who will no doubt see Jade Goody as a source of inspiration. Proof that even with the worst start in life you can still “make it big”.

Unfortunately I fear the lesson our young people will take from the Jade phenomenon is that you don’t need any kind of talent or hard work to become a celebrity, that somehow being a celebrity wipes the slate clean, forgives every ugly misdemeanor and glosses over every personality defect.

Essentially you can hit the big time without lifting a ruddy finger.

Well that ain’t a lesson I want my kids to learn.

I realize I’m elitist (and proud of it) but I do sincerely believe that celebrity – like any kind of status – should be earnt and earnt by hard work, dedication and a sincere and enduring sense of vocation. I want my celebrities to be famous and lauded for things that I could not possibly do. I want them to be special and amazing.

Not famous for being gobby, uncouth and adhering to the worst of all stereotypes. Or for displaying their “kebab” on live television. Or, worst of all, showcasing their voluminous and depressing ignorance like it was something to be proud of.

I feel heart sorry for Jade’s sons. Heart sorry. That Jade, in the end, mercilessly used the media to extract every last drop of money from the ridiculous furore for the future well-being of those poor little boys is something I can completely understand and even approve of.

But the mawkish deifying of Jade Goody that the press is currently indulging in is unforgivable, shallow, insincere and just plain bad journalism.

It serves nobody. Nobody at all.

Least of all Jade’s children.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Flogging A Dead Horse

I’d like to make it clear before I launch headlong (and wallet light) into this post that the bailiffs are not currently clamouring at my door demanding I hand over my widescreen TV and set of Chippendale antique dining chairs (I sent them round to the Polish family next door).

But money – that dirtiest of words – is tighter than the proverbial gnat’s chuff at the moment.

The pinch is starting to be felt. The long shadow of debt is starting to spread its wings over us and obscure the light of the sun.

The light at the end of the tunnel – my aunt’s legacy / estate – is still, unfortunately at the end of the tunnel. The phrase “in probate” is being mooted by the family solicitor and is obviously a euphemism for “a good 6 months away from being sorted out”.

Karen and I expected this. We’ve had encounters with the phrase “in probate” before so thankfully weren’t relying on this inheritance too much.

However, we’ve got to survive until the pay-out arrives.

Hence I have begun looking and applying for a second job.

Although, technically with my web design work which is already in addition to my full time job, it’s a third job.

And with my novel writing on top [is that a job? It’s certainly bloody hard work!] it could even be considered a fourth job.

Oh and maintaining a decent family life – I mean, that’s not a job but it’s a vocation of sorts and demands time, energy and money...

So. I’m applying for a fifth job to keep the wolf from the door, the bailiff in his kennel and our creditors fat.

I do not fear for I know that a peaceful future awaits me. Wide open spaces. The occasional gunshot breaking the all encompassing silence. And the discomforting smell of glue wafting faintly over the mounds of spent carcasses.

Welcome, dear reader, to the Knacker’s Yard.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Mugged By Kindness

This is probably evidence – not that any is needed – that I am a true curmudgeon.

Picture this: I’m walking home. I need to cross a road. I pause at the kerb as I can see out of the corner of my right eye that as car is waiting to turn left across my field of progress.

Yes. I really do have a “field of progress”.

Now, rather sanely, I decide to halt forward momentum at this point. I don’t want to get into physical intimacy with a metallic object that is travelling at 20mph. Besides which he has a right of way.

The Green Cross Code Man and Tufty the squirrel would both be applauding me at this point. I’ve done the right thing, you see. All those road safety lessons as a child have paid off.

The driver however brings his vehicle to a halt and rather insistently waves me across.

I obey but instinctively feel aggrieved and annoyed. It isn’t right, you see.

The road was completely empty behind him so there was absolutely no reason for him to make a point of stopping on my account. Another two seconds and I could have crossed the road perfectly safely (if not more safely) without his flamboyant display of largesse.

He had the right of way. It’s perfectly clear: the Highway Code dictates that he should not have stopped but continued on his way.

Now, maybe I am just being ungrateful? After all, I would feel a darn sight more aggrieved if he’d mounted the pavement, motored his radiator grill right up my jacksy and then continued merrily on his way without stopping to shout even the briefest of apologies.

But I can’t get over the feeling that his gesture was more about power and superiority than kindness. I didn’t need him to stop. I felt almost bullied into crossing the road in front of him.

The danger with not following the expected codes of conduct of course is that your actions can be misinterpreted. What if his hand signal to cross the road was actually his attempt to dislodge an angry wasp from the breast pocket of his shirt? What if he was merely clearing the air after a particularly foul air biscuit (“fart” to you and me)?

The answer is obvious.

I’d be lying under the bonnet of his car in a non-KwikFit approved position, leaking claret all over the macadam and listening to him shouting at me that he had right of way and what the hell did I think I was doing trying to cross the road in front of him?


Maybe I need to get out more?

Or less?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Jules Theft

This is probably a minority interest post so I apologize in advance but will carry on regardless.

Julia Bradbury.

Not a megastar. Not an A list UK celeb. But kind of always there. Grafting away. And in my opinion delivering some of the Beeb’s higher quality programmes. Lakeland Walks and the more recent Railway Walks spring to mind. If you’re an avid hillwalker – always out and about with your waterproofs and your mountain boots – these programmes are an invaluable source of ideas and inspiration. And if you’re a hillwalker who’s strapped for cash these shows offer the opportunity to enjoy the pastime vicariously from the comfort of your own armchair.

Julia also co-presented the Beeb’s Watchdog, a show that tracks down and grills wrong doers – particularly of the corporate kind – and gives a voice to the little man when he has been wronged.

Alas Julia disappeared from Watchdog a few weeks ago amid reports that a friend of hers in the air industry had been bunging extra air miles onto Julia’s account (either with or without her consent) as a way of doing “an old pal a favour”.

Or so rumour has it.

I don’t know the ins and outs of it and don’t rightly care. Julia immediately withdrew from Watchdog and is staying off the show until she has cleared her name.

Personally I reckon she’s innocent. Anybody who champions Wainwright has got to be a decent honest person in my opinion. Us hillwalkers have got to stick together (unless we’re actually hillwalking in which case a bit of solitude is the unstated prerequisite). She’s also a brunette. A fact sure to win my unswerving loyalty. And she has a great voice. Sort of smoky and chocolaty at the same time. That proves her innocence. No further evidence is needed.

More importantly though she’s a darn sight better looking than her Watchdog co-presenter, Nicky Campbell – a man who has no right to look so damned smug and constantly superior after presenting the God awful Wheel Of Fortune on TV in the previous century.


But I’m digressing.

My point is this: do we expect our TV presenters to be totally squeaky clean all of the time? Absolutely 100% above board and bangs to rights?

Simple logic dictates that we should but – even though I don’t doubt Julia’s innocence in this case – wouldn’t we all have accepted a few extra air miles from a friend if we had one in the commercial flight industry? Wouldn’t we accept a favour from a friend whatever industry they work in? A discount on a pine dining table? Some hardback books at cost? A few pennies off a burger (hold the mayo)?

I mean a few air miles are hardly on the same par as Angus Deayton’s much publicized coke fuelled liaisons with some of London’s finest scarlet women a decade or so ago. Or Richard Bacon’s scarlet-women-less coke fuelled adventures a year or two before that.

And it’s not like Julia is a politician, wielding power enough to change the lives of every man, woman and child in the country. Does her character need to be as pure as a saint, impervious to all attempts of bribery and corruption?

Like our actual politician’s are that anyway...

It seems to be a lot of fuss over nothing. Or am I just being biased simply because I like Julia? I admit if it was Campbell accepting a “free gratuity” from the Bell’s Whisky company I’d be calling for his head on a pole. But who wouldn’t want to see that period?


So apologies for the nature of this post once again. This post has no point other than to register my demand with the BBC that Julia Bradbury be reinstated immediately to augment my television viewing pleasure.

And to demand that Nicky Campbell’s skull be surmounted on a brass topped spike and displayed over the gatehouse of Warwick Castle (I can’t afford the train fare to see it at the Tower Of London).

To be honest, part of me thinks that this air miles baloney is just a smokescreen created by Campbell and his other Watchdog cronies anyway and Julia is currently being held hostage in the boot of Campbell’s car, her smoky, chocolaty voice brutally muffled by Campbell’s sweat stained sporran.

Scotland Yard should be informed immediately. Interpol should be alerted. A cell should be swept clean (or unclean) at Guantanamo Bay ready for Campbell’s imminent arrival.

I pay my TV license fee for emergencies of this kind and I expect to be obeyed!