Thursday, May 31, 2007


Look, global warming solved!

I'm not sure whether there are barbies and aircon units at the North Pole where the ice is melting but it's a rather cogent argument for believing that all statistics made up interpreted by scientists are total bollocks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Hello and welcome to all my lovely new antipodean friends sent here on a pointless fact-finding tour by Tim Blair. I do like to stretch out the hand of friendship every now and again, and despite their sad tendency to moan about the very people who gave them such a decent start in life, even to Australians.

So as we're not overly used to strangers round here, I've asked some of my dearest friends to help out with the arrangements. Vicus, ask them if they would like some organic tea and Abernethy biscuits, if you would be so kind (but do keep an eye on the silverware, especially the sugar tongs). Dave, the Australians are often fine and pioneering doctors; you could engage them in some conversation regarding genito-urinary problems. Mark, you can take some souvenir snaps for them to take back and play them this to make them feel at home. Dyna can mix some cocktails (for the guests to drink, mind). I'm afraid I don't have any "tinnies" in my "eskie" but I could send Jed out on the moped for "a slab" from Bargain Booze. I'm not overly familiar with Australian "beer", do you think Harp Lager will do? I'm also sorry to inform you that I have run out of lavatory paper in the guest cloakroom but my newsagent, Mr Murdoch, himself an emigré from down under, has kindly let me have several copies of The Times for a bargain price as a stop gap. He says it's already full of crap but he said he's made his fortune from selling similar to people who don't need it. I apologise for the picture of Ricky Ponting on the back of the cloakroom door, I've found it can be helpful if you've been overdoing the eggs.

Anyway, enjoy your stay, do come again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


30 years ago the Sex Pistols were less than complimentary about them, accusing them of bandwagon jumping for cash without artistry. It was a good tune and very zeitgeisty. But the Pistols went and signed with Virgin instead and formed their own nice little earner. When art and industry line up behind the tape, irony is the odds-on favourite.

EMI's style was peculiarly British. In parts staid and establishment but also with an undercurrent of revolution and bumbling invention. EMI was, probably in equal parts, both "The Man" and his nemesis.

Nemesis won. Last week, EMI effectively died with barely a whimper. Such a whimper that I wasn't even aware of it until ten minutes ago. Here is an excellent eulogy. The bit about one man being able to personally save the company is particularly timely, given that it's 40 years since one of his, and his erstwhile ex-employer's, defining moments.

I do get sentimental about this kind of thing. Like most Brits, I'm a bit EMI myself; one part is very establishment, the other sticks two fingers up to it. EMI wouldn't have been the company it was without its shareholders tolerating its rather idiosyncratic behaviour in order to produce some of the greatest popular music of the last 100 years, so comments like those of Chris Martin, biting off the hand that's been feeding him rather nicely for the past few years, stick in the craw somewhat.

Abbey Road studios will now be leveled to make way for The Sgt. Pepper sk8 park.


Yesterday England beat the West Indies at Headingly by an innings and 283 runs. It was remarkable for three things: the third heaviest win in England's test match history; the heaviest defeat the West Indies have ever suffered and it was also officially the coldest ever day in test match history. 7 degrees celsius. In three and a half weeks it's the longest day. My avatar picture was taken this time last year - I got sunburn. When May's average temperatures are published, what will the headlines be?

I don't understand global warming.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


In a shock move, 92-year-old Sir Stanley Matthews has been recalled to the England squad to face Estonia, after an absence of 50 years. His last international was against Scotland in 1957 at the age of 42.

Defending his decision, coach Steve McClaren said that despite not having been picked by Stoke City for the last 42 years, his composure on the right wing would be a big asset to the team and a major boost to the team's morale following their early exit from last year's World Cup. "The fact that The Wizard of the Dribble has been dead since 2000 has no bearing on team selection at all and I intend to give him a run-out in the first half. Stan kept himself fit and played for fun well into his 70s. He's an example to the lads in the squad. We don't believe his lack of pace will be a problem."

Captain John Terry was unavailable for comment but target-man Wayne Rooney said that he was looking forward to meeting him and especially Lady Mila.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Popping (or "bobbing" as they say round here) in and out because I'm not at all busy. I don't know how I got there but I've been on Youtube again and it's amazing how the hours just fly past.

Outtake from QI

Another one

and another

Just look for the others.

Ta ta.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


It's Cup Final day! Huzzah!

There are far more important things going on in the world at this very moment - not least the appearance at long last of a successor in the England cricket team to this man minor deity (only as a batsman, that is. He will never have to keep to DL Underwood on a drying strip and make it look like shelling peas, so will remain forever untested) (I reckon I'm now down to just two readers who actually understand what the hell I'm going on about), but the Football Association Challenge Cup Final does merit a mention.

For my readers in the United of States this is the English equivalent of nothing you have at all! You must be very jealous. This is first and foremost because it involves a sport that most of the world is familiar with and generally understands the rules thereof; secondly because it involves long periods of sustained action that will actually be all over within 3 hours and thirdly because theoretically it involves every association football club in the country. The last one is actually very important. Yes, it is won every year by a big club but the real drama has been played out since late last year on small club grounds up and down the country as hundreds of local sides attempt to qualify for the later rounds. It still has a huge element of romance about it and it is one of the few competitions where a sporting club can justifiably say that it is all about the taking part. There are still the likes of Hereford, Yeovil, Northwich Victoria and Sutton United making the big boys take it seriously and unlike the justifiably maligned Football League Cup, a big club will often field its top line players even if it's been drawn against the Lostwithiel Post Office XI. There is nothing so ignominious as being dumped out of The Cup by a goal scored by a 37 year-old pipe fitter from Wem. It's also the one thing this totla cnut hasn't managed to buy yet.

That Corinthian spirit is evident in today's Cup Final. There's an honest and hard-grafting team of gritty Northerners, all ex-coalminers, tram drivers and welders, which once bestrode the game like a colossus, now bent on completely unsettling, for the second time this year, the unexpected recent dominance of the collection of fey manicurists and cheating part-time dog-walkers with unpronounceable names from The Kings Road, London SW. Play up and play the game chaps!

Manchester United v. Chelsea. I was born in London and raised in Kent, who on earth do think I will be calling for?

*A bit later. *Yawn* . So much for that then. England are doing well in the test match, eh?

Friday, May 18, 2007


I'm not very good at this sort of thing at all. The shameless self-publicity sort of thing I mean. Which is strange when you come to think about it because I write a blog which is in large part, about me.

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I had recently written a book. Or rather I had sort of written one in that I took somebody's words and made them into a story and filled in the gaps with lots of words of my own. It was a biography in fact. I suppose it's my book in that I own 50% of the copyright and get 50% of the royalties, so yes, I have written a book. I will be writing more in the future. Hopefully.

Actually, it was published two months ago but I have kept publicity to a minimum because Amazon are crap. Intrepid blog explorers may have noticed an extra one on my profile and been curious and investigated but it was Amazon who stopped me from making any kind of noise because they are crap.

Why are Amazon crap? Because they have a monopoly and when you have a monopoly you get sloppy and complacent and stop caring about your customers. Then you don't appear concerned when your customer complains and end up offering empty promise after useless platitude instead of explanations and apologies.

What happened is that when the publishers, very nice people called Arima, sent the details of the book to Amazon they mistakenly sent the wrong blurb. It was about the book but there was a bit about me taken from an early version of the cover which contained a joke that we ditched when we saw it didn't work very well. No worries there. We went through 8 drafts of the cover anyway, these things happen.

When I saw that Amazon had innocently posted the wrong bit on their sites both here and in the US, I was mithered. I didn't like it, it made me look silly. So I used the customer service email form to tell them about it. I used the same form to both sites, using the same form of words and sent at the same time. Within a couple of hours the US site had changed their details. The UK site dragged their feet. For a week. I emailed. I phoned their customer services in Ireland. Another week. And another. I had emails back. I had phone calls back all promising that they would make this very tiny change to their listing, but if I could use the following email address or phone the following number it would go to the right department and be done quicker. OK. I was told I had contacted the wrong department; I was given instructions to contact another - instructions that bore no relation to any process on the site. I was told that the changes had been made yet there was no difference. I started to tear my hair out. I began to get very angry. I told Amazon that I would not be sending anyone to the site until it was changed, losing both of us vast amounts of money. I even tried to find Jeff Bezos' email address. Then yesterday, fully two months and two days after the book was published it finally got changed. Thankyou Yvonne, somewhere in Amazon. Everyone else who works for should look to Yvonne, she's the only one there who knows how to do her job. Now I can tell people about it, which is what people do when they've written a book. Even one that isn't about blogging.

Anyway, the book is called G Strings and Curls and is about Tony. He was a teenage jazz bassist in the 40s and 50s for some very famous people and then became a hairdresser. He became very successful after a dreadful start in the business. Unless you 're some kind of jazz or dance band anorak or had your hair done on a cruise liner between 1963 and 1993, you probably won't have heard of him. But his story's a laugh, contains quite a bit of rude stuff (most of it done very tastefully) and plenty of swears (some of them not done very tastefully at all). In fact, there were so many rude bits and swears, I had to warn my Mum before she read it.

Naturally I don't expect you to rush out and buy it just because you know who wrote it. But if you do want to rush out and buy it, English people can get it here and American citizens can buy it here. In order to redeem themselves, Amazon have allowed you to read several pages. (they're not the best ones though). You may also visit the publisher's website but it's quite difficult to find it there so here's a link directly to their shopping cart.

Don't all run at once.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I'm not usually in the habit of doing this but Tennessee Jed was one of the very first people I met while doing the blog thing. He's also one of the most honest and pleasant folk I've found on the internet in the 8 years I've been on it and I'm sure many of you will be familiar with him through his comments on these pages. I know he has a soft spot for us islanders, even if he hasn't clue what we're talking about. He's a good man.

Jed's family is currently having to endure one of those awful trials of pain and terrible uncertainty that nobody ever ought to experience. If you would please, spare a few moments thought, or say a prayer if that's your thing, for him, his family and especially his daughter.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I am 200 of the post!

As if by magic, a congratulatory email has crashed into my inbox from the National Lottery. This is the National Lottery which now has its headquarters at 1a, Bexon Court Carlton Nottingham shire NG4 1SQ Essex United Kingdom. Yes, Nottingham shire in Essex. To my readers in the United of States, that is roughly the equivalent of saying Denver, Colo rado, Alaska.

The email tells me I have won 820,000 US dollars on the National Lottery. No, I am not suspicious at all, I trust everyone. Apparently the National Lottery had a prize fund of 110,000,000 US dollars to give away. No wonder the jackpots have been getting smaller over the years, they've been saving it all up to give away to people who haven't bought tickets! How charitable. And US dollars being at such a favourable exchange rate as well.

Because I am in the UK, apparently my winnings are dealt with by the National Lottery's African agent. This would appear to be more convenient for the National Lottery based in Nottingham shire, Essex. The African agent's name is Peter Martins. He has an email address too. The National Lottery has now equipped all of its agents with a yahoo email account, for convenience no doubt. Anyway, it's He has a telephone number too. (+233) 244-577 443.

I am sending Mr Martins the following email:

Dear Mr Martins. Many thanks for informing me of my win on the National Lottery. I am so glad, this will solve a lot of problems for me. Please, I am not really interested in claiming the whole amount because of the dollar/stirling exchange rate. However, I have taken the liberty of informing several of my friends, a Mr Egg, Mr Mint, Mr K. Fit and Mr F. Direct that you will be paying them a cash amount in order to clear the outstanding accounts I have with them and that they can now "call the boys off" (just our little joke, lols!). As these accounts amount to no more than say, $40,000 in total, you will be quids in, enabling you to make a sizeable charitable donation. I have passed on your details to my friends, I suspect you shall be hearing from them presently to arrange payments.

Many thanks for your generous award,

Yours etc...

Made my day that has.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


In common with 99.47% of other UK based bloggers this week I am duty bound to produce some mindless shite on the last 10 years. Tony Blair, what has he ever done for us?

Rowntrees Fruit Gums. They just don't taste the same anymore. Under Thatcher they were full to brimming with lovely tasty chemicals and they had those knobbly bits on that increased their surface area so maximising the full-on taste sensation. And there was always a red one second from the end. Now they're just made with diluted fruit juice, look like Strepsils and are only good for stripping your fillings out. Certain things were sacred, you know.

The Mighty March of Technology #1. SatNav. Look. I'll be honest. I'm a man and yes, I'll admit we don't like getting lost and (very) occasionally our superior spacial and geographic awareness lets us down. But we had maps a decade ago and we'd all done geography at school so we knew what the funny little symbols meant so we could stop and read them or even stop and ask a local (but only if we were on our own, obviously). Under Blair, every narrow lane, cul-de-sac and cliff-top footpath is now plugged by a Latvian articulated lorry full of over-ripe prawns trying to get to Basingstoke by 8am tomorrow.

Vending Machine Talent: Tone, I hold you singularly responsible for the waste of carbon that is Lily Allen. Having her dad on the same planet is bad enough but allowing him to breed was criminal. I know that strictly speaking her genesis predates the Labour administration but something should have been done to prevent her thinking she had some kind of marketable talent. Your punishment is to sit in cave in the Outer Hebrides with an iPod full of her of socially relevant public school urban-chic jaunty cod-reggae bollocks on repeat until your brain implodes.

The Mighty March of Technology #2. Teh Interwebs. Before Blair it was restricted to a couple of people in Norway talking about their Pink Floyd albums on a bulletin board. Now every witless twat with a telephone line gets to prove to the whole English-speaking world they can't spell "definitely" and there's now a 1 in 25 chance that the next email you open will feature a picture taken with a mobile telephone of a close blood relative with a parsnip up their fundament. All compelling proof that while mankind may have had the technology, it had neither the desire nor the intelligence to put a man on the moon with it after all as long as it involved wireless telecommunications. "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. Buzz, you make me ROFLMAO."

Scary industrial strength medicinals. Because your party was supported by the yapping class wasters who thought you'd be legalising their main recreational past-time so talked up a society full of pleasantly mellow dinner parties after the Arsenal game as their major entertainment, evil villains eyeing up the rather obvious main chance and potentially huge new market (as is their wont) replaced their narcotic of choice with its rather more sinister cousins. Consequently, the mildly circumspect youngster of 15 years ago sitting on a park bench laughing his tits off about an earwig crawling over his boot is now, after one toke of skunk, a paranoid schizophrenic ready to slice Mr Patel's hands off with a 14" butcher's cleaver just for a packet of Monster Munch.

The Mighty March of Technology #3. Bluetooth Headsets. Before the Blair administration took over, at least the twat on the train was actually talking into something tangible. It's one of the most unnerving things possible when the bloke next to you suddenly tells you his name's Dave and asks whether you can rearrange Brighton for Thursday.

Brussels. Still around. Successive governments have failed to deal with this blight on our society. I really thought Labour this time round would finally rid us of this evil but they've let me down badly. Will Blair's successor make amends?**

*As opposed to the Legacy (Legacy. Geddit? You know...Blair's Legacy), the decent all-round journeyman in the Subaru range that nobody really objects to, the Tribeca is a massive great wallowing 4 x 4 that will, in most cases, never see a speck of mud. If he's done one good thing, it's starting the process whereby these obscene dick-extensions will be taxed back where they belong; halfway up a Welsh mountain with a couple of prolapsed ewes bleeding all over the back seat.

**Gordon could ban cauliflower as well.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


This is part of a genuine project specification put up on Scriptlance a few minutes ago:

"The style and voice of the article should be interesting, conversational, filled with everyday language and expressions. These articles are written for middle America and you will lose points for demonstrating your use of vocabulary words found on the SAT exam. You should explain things like explaining them to a child without talking down to the reader."

I think that translates as "My readers are morons but please don't make it obvious to them." It's almost too tempting.


A bit of freestyle memory association this morning that ended up giving me half an hour with tears of absolute joy streaming down my cheeks. I love how this stuff works.

Earlier this morning I was shelling a hard-boiled egg. This in turn reminded me of my Grandad and the way he used to crack open his brekky-eggs; meticulously cracking and peeling off the top. Which brought back the memory of the last time I stayed with Grandma and Grandad in Yeovil, at Christmas 1977. I was a moody teenager about to turn 17 a few days after Christmas and I was bored. Nothing to do with my grandparents, they were lovely, but I was doing the rebellious bit, as one does at that age. I hadn't quite got the punk thing, though. Growing up in deepest Kent we only got to experience that vicariously through the pages of "Sounds" or whatever. Anyhow, Grandad sensed my mood and we had a long chat about responsibilities but also about doing what you believed in. It wasn't a lecture; there was a good deal of understanding on both sides; we had, after all, spent quite some time together on holidays over the previous couple of years and I'm sure he saw some of his own youthfulness in me. I wish I could have spent more time getting to know him but he would succumb to a dodgy heart 13 months later, still only 72.

The unusual result of that talk was that I went into town and bought a record to cheer myself up; something I'd been meaning to do for a couple of weeks - the surprise Christmas "hit" of 1977 (it got to 27). And I played it to death over the next few days on Grandma's old record deck (which was a cool thing that looked like a briefcase with the speakers in the lid). It was this, possibly the best single ever in the whole wide world. Ever. So of course, I've now been on a YouTube frenzy, hence the tears of laughter.

It's easy to over-work the word genius, especially if it's in conjunction with someone who is so plainly nutsticks as John Otway. But he is. Here's another version of the above done in a tiny folk club, earlier this year (he does work to a loose script as other videos will bear out, but it's brilliant nonetheless). Or how about this version from TOTP? With a clearly on-edge Hairy Cornflake, not quite sure about what was going to happen - because not only had they got Otway in the studio, he was playing live, a rare honour in 1977.

I've never got round to seeing him live. He does play the Limelight here in Crewe occasionally so there's still time. And as these videos bear out, he's a consummate live performer and comedian who adores performing and revels in the interplay with the audience. Long before somebody said comedy was the new rock and roll, here was someone proving it could easily be the other way round. He's a rock and roll Tommy Cooper with timing to die for and safe in the knowledge that he's absolutely peerless at what he does. Would he have been the same if he'd been mega-successful? I don't know. He's made a career out of being a one-hit wonder (now two after his fans gave him "Bunsen Burner" as a 50th birthday present) so going global would wreck his act. Just treasure him. Gloriously brilliant eccentric.

Have a couple more classics. "House of The Rising Sun", complete with audience participation. And the already mighty "Crazy Horses", one man and his theremin adding something The Osmonds could never have envisaged.

Laugh until something falls off.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Uh, hello. My name is Richard. I am a pikey chav scummer. Probably.

Last week, while passing, I nipped in to erm...ALDI for some potatoes and a loaf. It's not unknown for the odd occasional and I remember going to them in Germany when the ex and I used to visit the in-laws several hundred years ago. Their jagdwurst was very nice. Anyway, there was only one checkout working and I baulked when I realised I was way back in the queue with my two items and that the family in front had two barrowloads of stuff. Somebody does their weekly shop in Aldi! LOLs! They were very nice people and insisted I jumped the queue.

Excellent tomato and pepper pasta sauce and a gorgeous seeded batch loaf. And S got readymixed bearnaise sauce which is probably better than anything I could make and almost impossible to get anywhere. And loads of other things. I did manage to stop her buying me a waterproof motorbike over-suit for £14. And you have to bring your own bags, which is very proper and we could use the disabled bay bang in front of the door instead of walking 50 yards like at the big shops. I'm not proud.

Who wants to win the European Cup anyway.