Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year Non Resolutions

It is traditional at this time of year to come out with a list of resolutions. And over the last couple of days, surveying the blogging landscape from the crystal blue carapace of my blog-mobile, I have discovered some admirable lists. Lists of authentic resolutions from those bloggers not yet bowed down with cynicism that aspire to make the world a better place. Lists of tongue-in-cheek resolutions from those bloggers who know from bitter experience that even the easiest resolution will fall by the wayside by mid January. And then there are the cheating resolutions - or the "realistic" resolutions - lists of activities that you're going to do anyway, i.e. eat more chocolate, get to work late, skive longer lunch breaks, look at more internet porn sites.

Yeah, yeah, I've read them all.

And they're good.

But I want to do something different.

I want to compile a list of non resolutions. Things that I am definitely NOT going to do this year.

so... for your delectation then:

1) I am not going to try and forge world peace this year. It is pointless. Our politicians are too stupid and like the smell of their own duodenums too much to ever remove their heads from their butt-cracks to actually listen. Also, as a species, we are too given to rash acts of hatred and violence. World peace ain't never gonna happen, folks, until we evolve as a species. Or until aliens appear. 'Cos I guarantee nothing will unite human beings more regardless of skin colour than some bug-eyed, grey lipped, three-legged tripod from Mars stomping all over the car park at Lidl.

2) I am not going to win the Lottery. I know I'm not. It's pointless playing. But I am not going to stop. Because I am too weak, everybody else at work plays it and I don't want to be the only one stuck in the office one Monday morning because those other bastards have scooped the big one and are airing their fluffy bikini lines on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean.

3) I am not going to take up more exercise or eat healthier. I already eat pretty healthy and if my chocolate intake is perhaps a little too high for some collagen lipped quack in Heat magazine, tough titty. I don't do drugs, I don't do gambling, I don't do football. I'm entitled to a vice and as vices go chocolate is pretty damned mild.

4) I am not going to get myself out of debt. I'm just not. Until Tom starts school Karen and I are accepting of the fact that money is going to be tight if not non-existent. The best I can do is try to manage my credit cards wisely so that they keep me afloat as opposed to burying me. Is credit bad? Is credit evil? Yes. Bet your ass. But it's necessary. My deal with the devil is personal - stay out of it.

5) I am not going to stop writing. Not this blog and not my novel. I don't care how many knock-backs I get, how many rejections, I'm going to keep going. On and on. Like an eighties washing machine. There ain't no stopping. I'm here for the long haul. If any of you readers want to bail out, now's the time. See ya. Been nice and all that. Do send me a postcard from Lack-of-imagination-land. I shall stick it on my fridge and laugh when I hit the big time.

6) I am not going to compile a traditional list of 10 items. That's how mad I am. I'm crazy. I'm zany. I'm whack. Live with it. Come and get me New Year. I'm here waiting. The boxing gloves are off. Queensbury rules are for wussies.

7) I am not going to not wish you all a Happy New Year. Happy New Year. There. Done it. Give me some skin, dudes. The only way is onwards.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Victory Over Christmas

It's not like I have been deliberately at war with Christmas. Far from it. I didn't go out of my way to pick a fight or irritate it. I didn't shag its girlfriend behind its back or fence its entire DVD collection to buy drugs.

But the previous 2 Christmases have been fraught to say the least. Difficult. Compromised.

The first Christmas Tom had his MMR vaccination and the good nurse managed to time his appointment so that he had a reaction to it on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He was grouchy and grotty and we got very little sleep. Christmas Day 2008 was, therefore, an effort and exhausting. Frustrating even. Then Christmas Day 2009 Tom came down with some horrible gastro-bug which affected us all in one way or another and kept him restless during Christmas Eve night so that we spent much of Christmas Day dragging ourselves around like zombies... frustrating yet again.

I actually got to the point where I wondered if we would ever experience an illness free Christmas. I felt - in the dark corner of my mind where ridiculous thoughts are wont to multiply - that we'd been somehow cursed. Bad Christmas ju-ju. A Santa hex.

So I approached this Christmas with an understandable amount of caution. Especially given Karen's recent hospitalization and all the bugs and noroviruses doing the rounds at the moment. I mean we've even got bloody swine flu at the local hospital. Talk about being under siege.


It's been OK. It's been fine. I think Christmas and I may have made up (though I'm saying this quietly in case it changes its mind). It liked the aftershave I got it and, well, I made a complimentary comment about the socks it had bought me. Tom's been fine. Ben's been fine. Karen and I have been shattered but that's pretty much normal.

The house is awash with DVDs, books, Lego and a Kindle which some fabulous husband bought for his good-lady-wife this year. What it hasn't been awash with is poo or vomit or copious amounts of mucus.

And please, please, please, long may that continue. 'Cos if you're listening, Christmas, it's like John Lennon once sang: war is over.

Here's to a peaceful and healthy New Year.


Friday, December 24, 2010

A Silly Christmas Wish

If you could go back in time which period would you choose?

It’s a pub question really. I’ve been asked it many times in my life and it’s always sparked off pleasant debate between friends.

In the past I think I’ve come up with all the obvious answers: Bethlehem around 0 AD, Avalon sometime in the Dark Ages, a safe distance from Pompeii in 79 AD... I’m sure we could all pick a historical time-frame that interests us on a personal level.

Since the death of my grandfather last Christmas – the last of my much loved grandparents – more and more I have found myself wishing I could leap back in time a far more modest amount of years. I find I am drawn far more than I used to be to World War II documentaries on television. Not out of any vicarious battle lust or schoolboy interest in fighter planes and war ships... but because the period is vividly associated in my mind with my Nan and Bampap (as we called them). It was a time when they were young adults and although they’d known each other a long time at this point their romance was only in its infancy.

I have old photographs of them taken in the 1940’s. They look both like and unlike the Nan and Bampap that I came to know and love after my birth in 1969. I find myself wondering what kind of people they were at this early and traumatic period in their lives. The world at war. Their hearts full of thoughts and hopes for themselves and their families – families I was 30 years away from being part of.

I would like to look upon them in colour – rather than the old black and white / sepia prints that I have in my possession. Would I speak to them? I don’t know. What could I say? Tell them I love them; who I am? I think in reality that would be impossible to do. So bittersweet. Sometimes I imagine myself catching up with my granddad during the war... pulling him to the ground as bullets strafe overhead; giving him a knowing look as he thanked me. A silly and embarrassing fantasy.

And then I would like to come forward in time a little bit. To Christmas sometime in the mid to late 70’s. Back when I was a kid and me and my 2 sisters, my mum and my dad would spend every Christmas and Boxing Day at my Nan’s house immersed in the effortlessly warm and joyous festivities that they seemed to weave around them every year. They were a big part of my childhood and teen Christmases. Inseparable in fact. I cannot approach a Christmas now without thinking of them and remembering all those Christmases gone by.

I wish I could see them again during this time. See myself with them. See myself with my whole family all around me. I would like to whisper invisibly into my own young ear... “Cherish this, cherish this...”

This Christmas, in lieu of travelling back through time, I shall take a few moments during the mad Christmas hubbub to sit quietly with my wife and my boys and I shall cherish it with all my heart.

I do hope you all do the same with those closest to you.

Have a very merry Christmas. I wish you all the very best for 2011. Thank you all for reading this year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Scumbag, You Maggot, You Cheap Lousy Faggot

I’ll admit I’ve bashed the UK postal service somewhat on this blog over the last couple of weeks or so. I’ve accused them – though in not so many words – of being wussies in the face of a bit of snow and ice.

Then I heard from a colleague that their recent no-show-in-the-snow on Saturday was due to the fact that 3 postmen had managed to break their legs in the icy conditions. I felt, I admit, a small twinge of guilt for my hard heartedness. This colleague went on to say that the rest of the post office work force had then been sent home by their managers and informed they would receive no pay for that day.

Outrageous! The last thing anybody wants is to be a day’s pay down right before Christmas. Surely there was sorting that could be done at the office? Rounds prepped ready for Monday? The PO management are clearly heartless penny-pinching maggots thought I.

And then to top it all, all but one of my missing parcels arrived yesterday. The PO had redeemed itself. I felt a feeling of peace and goodwill pass through me. All’s well that ends well. There had been an unwarranted delay but they’d delivered the goods in the end. We’ll say no more about it. I may even throw a frozen mince pie at our postie next time I see him.

But this morning they can kiss my arse. The mince pie is going back in the box.

I sent my parents a Christmas card through the post. A normal one. Bought from a shop. I posted it over 10 days ago with a first class stamp.

Not only has it only just arrived but the buggers reckoned there was insufficient postage on it. It needed another 10p. My parents had to battle through the snow in Rotherham to collect it. And then had to pay £1.10p to have it put into their possession. The extra £1 was a “handling fee”.

Excuse me?! Am I missing something here, Royal Mail? I paid for a 1st class delivery service that I didn’t get; you – as far as I can see – mishandled my card to the extent where next day delivery was transmuted into next week delivery; the card was possibly handled less than it normally would and merely languished in a warehouse somewhere while you warmed your fingerless mittens over a brazier. And then you charge my parents £1.10 for the privilege of being the recipients of your defective pathetically lax service?

Sod you, Royal Mail! You’re a bunch of money-grabbing overly officious cock-monkeys!

Merry Christmas my arse!


Monday, December 20, 2010

The Pygmy Postmen Of Leamington Spa

Poor little blighters. It’s the weather, you see? It’s done them in. Finished them off. They’ve all gorn an’ bought it... Gone up to that little miniature world in the sky.

They were the Midland’s best kept secret. One of Leamington’s rarest breed of fauna. So rare, in fact, that I doubt that even the great David Attenborough has ever seen one, though if he ever tried to frank a letter in the main Leamington Spa Post Office he may have inadvertently stepped on one. They make a small squishing noise not unlike stepping on a Stag Beetle. Though unlike stepping on a Stag Beetle you don’t then get ear-ache from all the Stag Beetle’s mates effing and blinding at you for your carelessness.

I am of course talking about the Pygmy Postman. And while I’m at it I better throw into the mix the Tiny Taxi Driver and the Borrower Bus Driver too. ‘Cos they’ve all been affected. They all of them, to a miniature man, disappeared inexplicably from Leamington’s streets on Saturday morning.

It began with the snow. And I suspected it ended with the snow too. You see we had 3.5 inches of snow fall in Leamington Spa on Saturday. And, as I am sure you are all aware, the Pygmy Postman and his related species are only 3 inches tall.

Well, I mean, you do the maths.

I suspect the poor little buggers were swamped within the first couple of hours. Snowdrifts up to the kerbs and, in some places, clean over them! They were never going to cope. Not even with their boots borrowed from Action Man. The Bus Drivers are no doubt lying frozen solid under a garden hedge somewhere; their buses lying empty and echoing to the sound of non-existent commuters who were unable to get into town that day because of the positively Antarctic conditions that ravaged this little Spa town that I call home. The Tiny Taxi drivers I have more hope for as I suspect they are all merely snowed in to their local pub and dare not jump down from the doorstep lest they find themselves in need of a St. Bernard puppy to dig them out. No doubt they are even now swimming around a small brandy glass trying to make the best of it.

Us big people take it all for granted you see. We dig ourselves out of our homes; we haul the snow off our cars and in some cases some of us (like me) wade heel deep through the snow drifts and make our way to work under our own steam and never give a second thought for the little people who can’t do all that. The tiny people who, up to their necks in a few millimetres of snow and ice, find themselves quite literally out of their depths.

Please people, if you do nothing else for others this Christmas, can I please ask you to spare a thought for the diminutive breeds of our society? We rely on them all year round and it is only now, when times are hard and the Polar Bears are migrating as far south as Birmingham, that we realize the great all-year round service that these little guys offer us. Only when they are gone and pewling helplessly from inside their snowy tombs do we finally value them.

Poor little soldiers of Leamington Spa. I salute you.


Friday, December 17, 2010

We Need A Hart To Hart

There is a long tradition in this country (in any country in fact that sports a Royal family) to take the p out of them, make snidey comments and satirize their many foibles. It is a healthy tradition and one that should be defended to the hilt regardless of whether you are a Royalist or an anti establishment Royalist hating Emo.

So it was with some dismay that I read that dear Miranda Hart – surely the world’s most likeable comedienne – has flown into some flak for a gag she made on Have I Got News For You last week. I actually watched the show but my recall of the offending joke is a little hazy because, to be honest, it was a pretty innocuous joke. Basically, whilst talking about the well-known and widely accepted racism of Prince Philip, Miranda made the gag that the world should move past making racist jokes and someone ought to tell that Greek twit and his Kraut wife about it.

Now, let’s be honest, it was a pretty obvious joke to make. It’s almost a given. Even me in my secret desire to be a stand-up comedian would have jumped on that kind of feed and responded with a similar line. It is a joke about the racist stereotyping used in racist jokes. I don’t think it was meant to be a racist joke about the Queen per se. Or am I the only one splitting that particular hair?

I should point out at this point that I am not a raving anti monarchist and am quite content with the Royal family’s continued existence in this country’s status quo.

Apparently 5 people complained to the BBC and a few more managed to fart themselves out of their armchairs and put finger to keyboard to offer their cholesterol marinated opinions on various internet forums.

They didn’t get the joke. They didn’t think it was funny. They thought it in poor taste, racist and that the Queen should be mollified with a strap-on wielded by Miranda Hart herself. Actually that last bit is a lie and a bit of a fantasy.

Personally I can’t see what the fuss is about. I don’t think Miranda Hart is racist and I don’t think the joke was racist. It was satirical. In truth the joke wasn’t even that funny – but only because it was so obvious. But it had to be made. It was the cymbal crash after the drum roll. The digestive after the cup of tea – ‘cos a drink is too wet without one.

Poor Miranda. There’s something quite harmless and inoffensive about her – the poor woman must be mystified by all the hoo-ha. I have to say I like Miranda Hart and my family is greatly enjoying her eponymously named sitcom, Miranda. It makes us all laugh including our 9 year old who nearly split an intercostal muscle at this week’s show despite being surely too young to get most of the jokes. She has somehow revived the sitcom ethos of the 70’s, made it cool again and exhumed the much missed ghosts of Frankie Howerd and Eric Morecambe with her asides and to-the-camera gurning.

She is a striking looking lady – easily over 6ft, and solid. A veritable shire horse of a woman. But you know what? Strangely attractive. And in an attempt to subvert a minor tradition of this blog, stick two fingers up at those poker-faced, Hitler-youth loving Royalists who can’t get their malformed senses of humour around a simple joke and strike a blow for big beautiful women everywhere I am going to make her my TV Totty Of The Week.

Miranda, you can dress up as a Nazi and pratt-fall into my lap anytime. I think you’re lovely.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

William Wallace Has Stolen Our Presents

I have in the past gloated about the ease by which one can perform online shopping, the effortlessness of one-click ordering which at this seasonal time of the year means one doesn’t have to wade through the insulated body fat and BO of thousands of fellow Christmas shoppers as they fight to grab the last Toy Story 3 DVD from off the shelves.

But it has its drawbacks. Particularly in a wussy country like the UK which describes moderate snow fall as “unprecedented” and “unexpected” despite there having being snow in some form or other for every one of my 41 years in this country and the weather forecasters actually getting their predictions uncannily accurate for this year (anyone would think there is some kind of science behind this meteorology shit).

A whole heap of presents that Karen and I have ordered through Amazon and other online shopping companies are currently stuck in a post office distribution warehouse in Fife. This despite them being ordered in the last week of November so they’d be dispatched – ha ha ha – in plenty of time for Christmas.

It is now 10 days to go until the big day and things are getting down to the wire. The parcels show no sign of moving. I hear rumours of the postal service being so inundated it’ll take them weeks to work through the backlog (‘cos this level of post during the Christmas period is undoubtedly unprecedented too, right?) plus as most Post Office’s these days are down to one delivery per day anything that doesn’t get delivered for that day gets taken back to the PO and left for the next day where the same thing happens over and over again... or so I’ve been told.

Now, short of invading Scotland and grabbing our parcels ourselves there is little we can do. Karen has emailed Amazon but, to be honest, once the parcels have left their distribution centre they are in the hands of the Post Office gods who in turn are at the mercy of the weather.

And there’s more snow on the way apparently – end of this week and all through Christmas.

The kids have been primed that they might not get all their presents on the day this year. They seem fine with it but, let’s be honest, getting an IOU instead of a brand spanking new PlayStation game just isn’t the same thing.

And I daresay this scenario will be a very common one up and down the country this year. We won’t be alone in our present want.

It’s saddening. Very saddening.

But mostly it’s annoying. Annoying that it takes so little for the various services of this country to breakdown and grind to a complete and utter halt.

But I guess I should be used to it by now because, let’s face it, such breakdowns in service in themselves are hardly what anyone could describe as unprecedented. The wind blows from an unexpected direction in the UK and everyone wails and takes to their beds to recover from the immense shock.

I strongly suspect that lying at the bottom of all these abandoned parcels is a very special package indeed. Something this country has long mislaid and long forgotten is missing. It’s backbone.

If William Wallace wanted to invade now he could just wait for a light drizzle of snow and walk it.

And if he can bring my presents with him when he comes he’ll be sure to receive a right royal welcome at my house.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Siege Mentality

The dust is being shaken from the ceiling beams here at Blake Towers. A battering ram is attempting to splinter the wood of the drawbridge whilst evil machinations are under way to circumvent my portcullis.

I’m manning the arrow slits and I have boiling oil on standby but I fear it is only a matter of time.

Outside, beyond my moat (replete with fishing gnomes and ornamental carp), is an army blacker and more perfidious than the entire horde of Mordor / Voldermort / X Factor (choose your own poison and insert it here):

Seasonal illness.

For the last 2 Christmases one or other of us has been ill. 2 years ago not only was Karen ill but the good nurses at the NHS conspired to give Tom his MMR jab at just the right date that his reaction to it would fall on Christmas Eve / Christmas Day. Thanks a bunch. And then last year Tom was ill again without any help from anybody except maybe the many agents of illness who, let’s be honest, it is difficult to avoid. I mean you might be one right now without even knowing it.

I’m desperately hoping for an illness free Christmas this year. A Christmas where the kids are happy not grumpy. A Christmas when Karen and I are not exhausted because we have not been up the night before tending to sick offspring.

But the signs are not good.

Karen was hospitalized last week and though she is back home she can still not be awarded a clean bill of health. Recovery from any illness at our age with 2 kids running amuck is necessarily slow and hampered. And then Ben was sick over the weekend. Literally sick. Vomit City. He did that typical kid thing of announcing he felt sick 3 or 4 times, wasting a good minute as he did so and then walked through the kitchen – past the sink which although not designed for such things is an ideal receptacle for one’s emerging stomach lining – and instead positioned himself over the nice white living room carpet. A Jackson Pollock ensured. He then stepped a couple of paces forward and added a side dish to the hall carpet. Two birds with one stone so to speak.

Tom thankfully has not been sick (and I am saying that quietly unless I tempt Fate) but has had a “runny bum”. This may be down to a spot of teething, the same bug that Ben may or not have or even another bug entirely. Who knows? There are so frigging many.

Now believe me. I am trying to count my blessings. Because there are many this Christmas (and indeed all the year round) who would be happy to be suffering from mere stomach bugs and colds. The odd bit of temporary vomiting would be light relief. I don’t know how good I’ve got it.

But for the last few months I feel like my household has been sucked up Doctor Who style into a time vortex and deposited in the middle of a Cholera epidemic.

I am sick of feeling sick. And sick of cleaning up sick.

All I want for Christmas and all I wish for mine and yours is good health, cheer and excellent spirit.

(Though a Lego set would be nice.)


Friday, December 10, 2010

HP Heaven

I’ve heard and read a lot of mixed reviews about the latest Harry Potter film. Overlong. Shouldn’t have been divided into 2. Too complicated. Over-plotted. No character development. Etc.

So it was with some trepidation that Karen and I went to see The Deathly Hallows Part 1 on Wednesday night. Trepidation because, actually, we love the Harry Potter films. All of them. And I say that with a note of defiance in my voice to those who would denigrate them. But that doesn’t mean I am going to take kindly to spending near enough £20 on a shite film.

Thankfully I spent £20 on an excellent film.

I loved it. Having read the books I can say that for me, The Deathly Hallows Part 1 was spot on. Exactly as I’d imagined it.

Overlong? No. Not at all. I would have been happy to sit through another hour.

Shouldn’t have been divided into 2? No. To make one film – even one that stretched to 3 maybe 3 and a half hours – would have meant curtailing and abridging the story horribly, pointlessly and dishonestly. It would have cheated the audience.

Too complicated? I’ve read the book so knew what was going on – so I can’t judge. But my wife, who has not read the books, found this one easier to follow than its predecessor, The Half Blood Prince.

Over plotted? Nope. Everything that was there was necessary. If anything they missed a few things out – but nothing of any importance. For example, in the book, Mr Weasley lays into Harry’s foster parents for their coldness and cruelty towards him but Dudley, their spoilt brat of a son, makes his peace with Harry and wishes him well. Given the moral overtones of the story it would have been nice to have had this scene kept in but I can see it would not have served to progress the story along so it was probably right to leave it out. There were a few other minor omissions like this but hell, you can’t fit a whole book into a film.

No character development? Hmm. This is Harry Potter guys, come on! The entire series has been about him growing up and getting to this point! Finally Harry, Hermione and Ron are standing up on their own. There is no help from Dumbledore – well, no direct help. This is Harry facing his enemies without protection – only his own skill, nerve and courage. This is him becoming a man. And for what it’s worth I thought this was a surprisingly adult film. Surprisingly scary too. And very dark... and set to get darker still. The body count is rising. The stakes are getting higher.

It was always going to be difficult to draw the first half of a story to a close and do it in a manner that is cinematically satisfying – but they managed it. The conclusion leaves you feeling cranked up and ready for the last rush of the rollercoaster to the unavoidable termination.

I loved this film. I’d be happy to go again to see it. I can’t wait for Part 2.

To be honest, if you’re not a Harry Potter fan there is no point you going to see this film and expecting to like it. If you haven’t liked the others or you’ve picked fault with them, save your money and go and see Tron. But for those of you that are Harry Potter fans I found nothing in this film that would disappoint or let you down. It serves both us and the story well.

If Part 2 maintains this standard it will be a fitting end indeed.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Weekend That Wasn't

We had a number of plans for the weekend. Nothing earth shattering or mind blowing: a little winter cleaning, a little life laundry, etc. Mainly we just wanted to get the Christmas decorations and tree up and to make an occasion of it for the kids.

Instead the weekend ended up with my youngest boy, Tom, wearing a cardboard bedpan on his head at the local hospital because to him it was not a bedpan but a cowboy hat.

How did we get there...?

Well, my wife, Karen, had been feeling rotten all last week and towards the end was too ill and too uncomfortable with stomach pain to go into work. Unfortunately there is a hell of a lot of stomach bugs going round at the moment so our local GP was not unduly concerned. By Friday, however, she'd taken a turn for the worse and the GP requested she attend the surgery before it closed for the weekend.

The last thing Karen wanted to do was get out of bed and go into the snow to be poked about by the doctor but, thank God, that is what we eventually did.

The doc wasn't happy and diagnosed, "hospital".

Now given that Karen was unable to drive because of her condition and I am unable to drive because I have never taken my test we would have been stuck indeed but instead are indebted to our neighbour and to a work friend who between them both have ferried us all around since this whole thing kicked off.

So Friday night we all - me, Karen and the boys - found ourselves stuck in A&E for 5 hours while they prodded, probed, removed blood and X-rayed Karen in their attempts to form a proper diagnosis.

None of these tests went to waste. The final diagnosis was Colitis - inflammation of the colon. And severe dehydration. Severe enough that she has still been on a drip today. Thank God we went to the doctors - I think the outcome could have been far worse if we'd delayed any longer.

So that rather changed the structure of the weekend. I've been a single parent for about 3 days (and counting) and though I am coping (i.e. the boys are wearing clean clothes, eating proper meals and going to school / nursery as usual) I am frazzled to say the least. It hasn't left much room for writing or "me time" and I deeply admire those genuine single parents who manage to balance family responsibilities with responsibilities towards the self.

Karen is recovering well. I have been to see her again today and the doctors are talking of allowing her home either tomorrow or Wednesday but she is officially signed off work until next Monday. I'm off work until Wednesday - my boss has been very understanding.

The boys are fine - the oldest, Ben, has taken refuge in his DS (a coping strategy I am sure) and the youngest, Tom, has occasional sulky moments when he grabs my face, fixes me with a hard Paddington Bear stare and demands, "where's my mummy; not fair, want mummy". I think I have impressed on him that mummy will be home soon. He's been ambivalent about his trips to the hospital - no kid likes them, let's face it - but he did enjoy playing with the bedpan (unused) and that has been the light relief for this interminably long weekend.

I am praying that normal service - on all fronts - will be resumed very shortly.

P.S. To those Bloggers and Tweeters who already knew of these events and offered their support and warm wishes - a heart felt thanks.


Friday, December 03, 2010


In a Data Protection foul-up that can only be compared to an IT version of that fight you had outside the chip shop with your best mate when you were 17 I can now reveal some of the world’s most high profile secrets. Be aware that I am putting my life at risk by publishing these revelations but I feel that the truth should be known and my blogging stats should be the ones to benefit from the revelations. Just remember that for all I might make a few fast bucks selling advertising space on this blog as a consequence of the increased traffic I am the one who will have to wear a scarf over my face every time I want to buys a Mars bar from the local newsagent lest I be identified and summarily lynched.

1) Despite my sunny demeanour I secretly hate all of you and bad mouth the lot of you as soon as your backs are turned. Had someone trolling on your blog? That was me. Had someone bombard your comments box with spam selling cheap Viagra and Russian sex web sites? That was me too. Yeah, and I’m glad I did it ‘cos I know it really wound you up.

2) The above is just a cover story for the fact I love you all and secretly fantasize about sleeping with all of you – yes, you included, Rol. I have already composed a sexual shopping list individually tailored to each of you and designed to bring you all to the height of ecstatic abandon and I am going to publish it in your local newspapers next week. Oh. And email it to your mother / father / children / employer. With photos. And hair clippings.

3) All the world leaders see me as an agony uncle and regularly write to me for advice on how to deal with world matters and issues of national security. The current state of the world is all down to me. But before you start slagging me off just bear in mind that I have prevented a nuclear war from occurring on numerous occasions and single-handedly stopped a custard bomb from exploding in the heart of London last month. Yeah. You didn’t know that, did you? After encouraging Arab Leaders to get into Bugsy Malone the new weapons of choice are batter guns and custard bombs. I can also reveal that the Yanks are developing a full-fat mayonnaise grenade. Take my advice when travelling to America: arm yourself with a good salad.

4) The Yanks do not see our politicians as light weights and non-runners but rather hero worship them in an abandon that can only be described as orgiastic. In my role as diplomatic major domo I have frequently had to shoe-horn American politicians into and out of some choice English politico’s butt. It’s a dirty job but I get well paid for it. So yes. If you want to view it in those terms, I pimp out our MPs to the likes of Barack Obama and Sarah [im]Palin. I have photos on my mobile phone to prove it including one of Nick Clegg being happy-slapped by American Vice President, Joe Biden. Boy, does that man take his job title seriously.

5) The BP oil disaster was down to me. I honestly thought building a well cap out of Lego would be a great idea. Possibly the castle motif on top with a working drawbridge weakened the structure but hey, what was I to know? I’m not a friggin’ engineer!

6) The World Cup. The Russians paid me handsomely. That’s all I’m saying. Frankly I hate football and think it a shite game. Overpaid, oversexed and now over there in the frigging ice fields. Serves ‘em right. All you footie fans travelling to Moscow...? I’m planting counter-intelligence evidence on the lot of you. Don’t waste your money on plane tickets home ‘cos you won’t be leaving. The rest of you can write to the Queen – there’s still time before the honour’s list is published.

7) I’ve wasted enough time / energy / brain cells composing this for your entertainment and to be honest I’m not sure any of you are worth it.

8) Please see no. 2. I shall be doing you all in alphabetical order. Please ensure you all shower first (and, yes, that includes you, Rol).


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Am I An Old Perv? No, Don’t Answer That

So it’s Saturday and I’ve been sucked into kid’s telly and I’m watching Dani’s House with my boys and I’m marvelling at how the girl that used to play Tracey Beaker has (seemingly overnight) blossomed into a hot young chicklet and the TV gets turned over because other household members (how dare they usurp my ownership of the remote control) have decided that 3 back-to-back episodes of Dani’s House is 2 episodes too many (hey not my fault if the BBC resorts to lazy scheduling at the weekends).

“Hey, I was watching that!” I cry.

“I’m sure you were, you old perv!” Comes the reply.

What? Old perv? Me?

I’m about to spew out the kind of retort that would have had Oscar Wilde creaming his fustian trousers when I stop short.

Am I an old pervert? Is the accusation well based?

Because suddenly I’m aware of a whole body of evidence stacked up against me, most of it (it has to be said) penned by my own hand. This here blog.

Post after post extolling the virtues of various TV stars. Katie McGrath, Alice Roberts, Lucy Griffiths, Cheryl Ladd, Emma Watson, Julia Sawalha... the list goes on and on.

The trouble is, right from a young age, I had an eye for eye candy. At 9 years of age I was heartily in love with Charlie’s Angels. All of them though Cheryl Ladd was definitely my queen bitch.

And this penchant for giving the glad eye to TV babes continued through my teen years and my lonely twenties. But it was fine back then. Acceptable. It’s what lonely guys who can’t get a girlfriend do. Er, so I’ve been told.

And then I hit my thirties and, gulp, despite getting myself all-girled-up I’m still casting a roving fantasy eye over the TV and the cinema. But hey. That’s us men for you. And, by Jove, you women too ‘cos I know from reading around the blogosphere that you lassies are also prone to a bit of butch visual confectionary.

It’s normal. And I’m at pains to point this out because it is my only defence.

But now I’ve just tiptoed into my 40s. And suddenly the balance has shifted. It’s starting to feel uncomfortable. Back when I was younger fancying a young bit of stuff on the telly was acceptable. Hell, Juliet was only a teenager and Romeo (so I’m led to believe) only in his twenties. And when I hit my thirties, well, if old goats and young lambs were acceptable to Jane Austen why should it bother me?

But now I’m in my 40’s and my 50’s are beckoning from the other side of the hill the fantasy element is beginning to become untenable. It’s beginning to verge on socially unacceptable.

And yet TV and the media are geared up to sell us sexy young things. We’re hit with it every day. It’s hard to resist.

I mean take Hermione from Harry Potter. Even Jimmy Carr makes gags about when it became acceptable to admit that you fancied her.

So. My question is: does acknowledging the beauty of much younger women make me an old perv? Should I perhaps be retraining myself to tune into eye candy of a different, much more mature sort? Should I be composing paeans to Thora Hird, Anne Widdicombe and Gillian McKeith? If I start mooning over them will that make me less of a pervert?

Or one that is far less easily understood?

Answers on the back of a lad’s mag to the usual address please...