Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Celebrity Pillow Fight

Laura challenged me today to write a poem about the band Status Quo having a pillow fight (random!!), so here goes:

I'll tell you a story you probably don't know
About a band of rockers, The Status Quo.
They've made loads of records and played lots of shows
Lived like true rockstars and travelled the globe
They've trashed some hotel rooms too, these fab four
And done other celebrity stuff, to be sure.
But I have this story, so let me begin
As I tell you the tale of the Premier Inn.

Now The Quo may be fond of livin' the dream
But they're fun-loving guys at heart, so it seems.
And one thing they love just for blowing off steam
Is a pillow fight followed by bowls of ice cream.

And whenever they find themselves out on the road
In late December when it seems it might snow
Is to book themselves into a Premier Inn
And get extra pillows, and lock themselves in.

Well, after a while, they began to get bored
With fighting each other up on the top floor
And so they decided to invite other bands
And assorted celebs, to give them a hand.

They've fought against Rush and Madness and Dio
And even Duran Duran, famous for 'Rio'.
Warrant, The Wombles, Def Leppard and Dokken
and other great groups that you may have forgotten.
But I think the most memorable fight of them all
Was the night that they fought against Cannon and Ball.

It was Christmas Eve '87, with snow on the ground
That the Cannon-Ball-Quo pillow fight went down.
They were stuck in St Helens off the M62
In a Premier Inn, with nothing to do.

Rick Parfitt stood up and he said, "We need ice!
I'll pop down to the machine and be back in a trice."
Well what to his wondering eyes should appear
By the ice machine? Bobby Ball, nursing a beer.

"Eh up!" Bobby cried. "It's you, innit mate?
You're in Status Quo! Well, I think you're great!
Just wait till I tell my mate Tommy you're here!
Come over to our room, we've got loads of beer!"

Well Rick's mind started racing. He said in a flash,
"Do you guys have more pillows? We'll fight you, for cash!
Just for a bit of fun, mind. Nothing funny."
Bobby's eyes widened."Pillow fightin' fer money?
Aye, we'll do that, Rick. We do it all t' time.
When we're out on t'road, it 'elps clear t'mind."

So Rick raced back to the group's hotel suite,
and he shared the good news. They leapt to their feet
And they grabbed all their pillows and ran down the hall
To begin their great battle with Cannon and Ball.

The first blow came from Frank Rossi himself
And it sent Tommy's dentures flying up onto the shelf.
Tommy returned fire with a Memory Foam shot
And Francis' ponytail came loose from its knot.

Andy Bown let fly with his Dunelm Mill weapon
And Bobby hit the wall, saying "How did that 'appen?"
Meanwhile John Edwards deflected a blow
From Tommy "The Cannon" Cannon's Tempur Pillow.

The fight it raged on until quarter to four
When the guys, quite exhausted, lay down on the floor
And they talked and drank till the sun came up
Then slept until noon, and then got back up.

They stood up and looked at the walls and the ground
With feathers and fragments of pillow all round
Then Bobby said, "Eh up! It's Christmas Day, ya know!
Let's go 'ave some dinner next door! Let's go!"

The place next door was a Beefeater joint
They served lots of meat there (that was the point!)
They sat themselves down to a slap-up feast
Did the Quo mind paying? No, not in the least.

They were eating and drinking and talking till four
When suddenly somebody opened the door.
It was guitar gods Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi
Ball looked at Cannon and yelled "Rock on Tommy!"

The band called them over to join in their lunch
They fit right in with this pillow-fight bunch
Then they went to the studio and jammed until dawn
Then went out for ice cream and toffee popcorn.
And that was the end of this Christmastime tale
Pure rock & roll (though no-one wound up in jail)
All agreed it was surely the best Christmas ever
Though all their noses contained at least one feather
And they said that they wished they could do it again
Tommy, Bobby, Ritch, Tone, and those Status Quo men.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Unbelievables: Let it Snow? No, no, no!

The Unbelievables: Let it Snow? No, no, no!: I appreciate Michael giving me credit for being the "fashion maven" of The Unbelievables. Considering how much we've always relied on style ...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Writer's, Um... What's That Thing Called?

I am quite sure that other aspiring writers such as myself have come up against certain stumbling blocks. There will always be things that prevent you from writing. There will always be writer's block, creative logjams, and the like. There will always be missed opportunities, ideas that fell by the wayside, and procrastination. There will forever be time misused and wasted. There will be mornings where you just cannot, however hard you try, find the time to write down what it is you are trying to say. There will always be moments in life where you cannot find a quiet place to sit and think and organise you thoughts.

What there will not always be, thankfully, is times when you are surrounded by two warring siblings, a screaming baby, and a British Telecom call-center operator in India who cannot understand the basics of English, when all you can think is oh for a baseball bat, a live grenade, a stiff G&T and four pairs of hands. Oh, for the ability to clone myself so that I may placate everyone. Oh why oh why oh why oh why...  and I am glad that this is so. Because things do sometimes work out the way you want them to. BT sometimes comes out and fixes the phone. Sometimes the words flow. Sometimes there are quiet spaces in life. Sometimes you remember to jot down that idea, sit and actually write instead of farting around on Angry Birds all morning. Sometimes you know instinctively know what it is that you want to say.

Nothing is permanent. Nothing lasts forever. Children grow up and get married and leave. Then they have kids. And then the kids bug them. And then they bring the kids over to you, the grandparents, to babysit. And then those kids fight.

OK, forget what I said.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

So I'm in this grocery store, right, and I'm looking inside a display case at two limited edition DVD's, one of the band Madness in concert, the other an interview with Heaven 17. They clearly came attached to a magazine that is now defunct. The store is weird because the floor slopes upward left to right.

I walk over to a pile of boxes that are clearly meant for the trash, and in the top box, which is open, I see the magazines that the DVDs came with, mint condition, in a protective plastic sleeve. I resolve then and there to grab them, and the DVDs too, so that they are back together and worth more. Clearly these are collector's items.

I start to walk up to the back of the store where there is a cafe. I know my family are there and will assist me in my endeavours.

As I walk along one aisle I am aware that an old man in a mobility scooter is pursuing me closely, so I pick up the pace. I am almost at a run now, and as I turn right out of the end of the aisle I am rugby-tackled to the floor by none other than my son Charlie, as he looked aged about 12. (He is now currently 22). He slaps me heartily on the back and laughs. The old man in the scooter is gone.

Charlie and I head up to the cafe where my daughters Emily and Susannah are sitting with my mother and Laura. I explain to them what I have seen and want to do, whereupon Charlie says OK, but that he first has to go to the toilet. As he walks into the restrooms, he turns and says "Hasta la pasta!!" whereupon Susannah snorts with laughter, shooting chocolate milk out of her nose.

Then I wake up.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Here Come The Unbelievables

Hey folks, exciting news!

You remember a while back that my blogger friends Clark Brooks and Michael Noble and I had been throwing around silly ideas based on the pictures posted by our good friend The Kitsch Bitsch on her Facebook page, in a little post entitled Collars 'R' UsIf you can't remember that, then I shall wait patiently here while you go read.

A little while afterwards we decided that we should definitely embark upon a collaborative project of a similar ilk, but we weren't sure what form the project would take - a book, perhaps, or a webseries, but now the project has arrived, in blog (and accompanying Facebook fan page) form.

So please, if you will, head over to The Unbelievables, and its accompanying FB page, where you can comment, question, laugh and generally hang out with all the far-out poncho-wearing, moustache-preening, polyester-slacks-owning guys and follow our adventures. I thank you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Have You Read The News?

Whoever decides on the brief headlines on the SkyNews ticker that runs across the bottom of the screen needs to think to themselves: Who is going to be reading this, and will they understand it?

Today I went with my sister to King's College Hospital in London. She had a car crash four years ago and after several operations and many visits to the hospital, had her final visit to her consultant today. The visits always involve a lot of waiting around for blood tests and X-rays etc.

In the waiting area for X-rays is a wall-mounted TV that shows hospital-related messages with a SkyNews headline ticker running below. Some of the headlines were only comprehensible if you knew part of the story, for example:

Fresno Chicken Plant Shootings: Three Dead. I thought it should say three dead, coated in eleven herbs and spices and cooked to the Colonel's secret recipe. But that's because I have a sick sense of humour.

Busy campaign for Rocker - this is great if you know which Rocker they are talking about. Will Blues gamble? Darned if I know. Who are the Blues exactly? Or what?
There was also "Jack has staying targets" which not only assumes that we know who Jack is, but doesn't actually make any kind of literal sense. What is a staying target? Is Jack perhaps running a hotel for archery equipment? Or perhaps some of his hotel guests are wanted fugitives?

Then my favourite one: "Americans vote on gay marriage and marijuana". Now I know you all know what that's about, but when I first read it I thought it sounded like it was all one thing - gay marriage and marijuana, as if you had to be stoned to marry your same-sex partner. And not 'stoned' in the Biblical sense either.

But then there was one that didn't make sense any way you sliced it.

Missed opportunity indeed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Puzzler: Peter Tosh

So last time on the Puzzler, all those moons ago, I asked which reggae artist covered Chuck Berry's most well-known song?

The answer is of course former Wailer Peter Tosh, covering Johnny B. Goode.

So, next question...

Peter Tosh's third LP contains a duet with him and which rock legend?

100 Records That Shook The World, #26

The Clash

The Clash (LP)

There is so much going on in this LP, such a diversity of musical influences (which was unusual for a punk band at the time). Released in April 1977, the album was chock full of Strummer and Jones' pointed observations about British life, particularly evident in songs such as the debut single 'White Riot' (by the way, the album version is the original demo), 'Protex Blue', 'Janie Jones' and 'I'm So Bored With The USA'. The influence of reggae is here on 'Police & Thieves', a last minute addition (one of their live favourites) when they realised the album was too short, and early rock'n'roll on many others.
'Garageland' was written in response to rock critic Charles Shaar Murray's damning review of The Clash's early appearance at the Sex Pistols Screen on the Green concert - "The Clash are the kind of garage band who should be returned to the garage immediately, preferably with the engine running". It was the final track recorded for the album.

The Clash is the ultimate punk protest album. Searingly evocative of dreary late '70s Britain, but still timelessly inspiring. Jamaican reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry heard the LP in 1977 and played it to Bob Marley. Marley in turn mentioned The Clash on his track "Punky Reggae Party".


Monday, October 15, 2012

Rebel Without An Idea

OK, so you've been out and bought yourself some spray paint, you've found yourself a nice blank bit of fence, now the question remains: what to write?  What catchy little message can you leave for others to see that accurately captures the post-modern ennui of your blank generation? How can you best express those feelings of teenage angst and frustration against society as a whole?

Back To School

Careful folks, I feel a rant coming on, and this time my target is my own alma mater. Well, not just my old school, but school in general really.

There are essentially three things that annoy me about the way school works these days. The first has to do with something that as you all know is a particular passion of mine, and that is cooking.

Back in the day, it was called 'Home Economics'. we went to class and the classroom had counter-tops  ovens, a fridge, etc. just like any normal kitchen. It also had a teacher and a bunch of ingredients. You got to class, the teacher told you what you'd be cooking that day, and you got the ingredients out, weighed and measured them, followed the instructions, and hopefully came out with something resembling the item you were assigned to cook, be it the Cornish Pasty, an Easter cake (I forgot the baking powder in mine - it still tasted good though) or the infamous Open Sandwich (known to you Yanks as an Open Faced Sandwich, yet still just as pointless. See to me, a sandwich requires a top slice of bread - otherwise it's just a slice of bread with stuff on it, i.e. NOT a sandwich).

One of our young charges, Matthew, aged 12, has Cooking every Monday morning. What that means for us as parental units is that we have to make a last-minute mad dash to the grocery store on a Sunday to buy the ingredients that we don't have on hand. We would do it earlier in the week, but he usually forgets to furnish us with the ingredients list until the last minute, but that's another matter. Then in the morning, because they don't teach kids to cook and measure out their own ingredients (which blows my tiny mind - oh, and forget pastry, they just ask us to send some ready-made stuff rather than actually teaching the children to make pastry from scratch, which, let's face it, ain't that hard to do) one of us has to measure out the ingredients (I can't send a whole pack of whatever and trust that they'll measure it out there and send the rest back), find containers for all these items (which I have to again trust that I'll get back) and usually a dish to transport the finished product in, and then the poor little bugger has to try to carry all this assorted shizzle to school along with his school bag and possibly his P.E. kit. With all this to deal with, how are they supposed to instill a love of cooking in a young impressionable child? In two or three years he'll get to make choices for the subjects he wishes to study for exams - and somehow I feel that Home Ec. will not be among them.

If the powers that be decide that they have to make cutbacks in schools and say to themselves, well, let's stop providing all these ingredients for cookery lessons, what possible sense could it make to make the parents provide all the ingredients in this way? Wouldn't it make more sense for the parents to chip in a couple of quid each per week and then the teacher or someone could get the ingredients together? I gather it has been done this way before, which makes me wonder why they stopped. The larger question is this: if we are to assume (realizing of course that it's not always safe to do so) that the teachers are the ones that create the lesson plans, then why aren't the teachers, who presumably do a lot of extra work organising lessons and creating things such as documents and such on their own time, procuring the ingredients in some way? And before you start on me, realise that I was married to a teacher whose parents are both teachers and had a lot of teacher friends. I know they do a ton of extra work on their own time, a lot of them go above and beyond, and this is because teaching is a profession that only a fool would get into for the money. It's a calling, a passion, a true vocation, and any teacher who doesn't feel this way should quit right now, because you're not helping the kids.

If on the other hand, this "make-the-families-provide-the-ingredients" method of teaching cookery is something mandated by the bigwigs, if the fat cats are the ones that dictate what recipes should be taught, then I apologise to the teachers. If they are doing it because they are not being allowed to do their own thing and decide for themselves what to teach the kids to cook, then I am sorry for them, and the kids involved. It just gives me a sense of the frustration that must have been felt by Jamie Oliver when he decided to do Jamie's School Dinners, where the ignorance of kids about food was truly heartbreaking.


The next thing I find frustrating about school is the issue of vomit. I am sorry to lower the tone, but the universal mandate is this: "A kid vomits, he can't come to school for 24 hours." It has been this way for years, even back in the early 90s when I was working in a home daycare setting. A kid threw up, we couldn't have them back the next day. Hard on the parents.

See, the reason I have a hard time with this is because there are so many reasons for a person to barf that don't involve being ill. All a person would need to do is gag on a bit of sandwich, swallow a bug, or smell something revolting, among other things. Believe me, I've seen it. I remember once while working in daycare, a child walked past me while I was changing another child's diaper, and the smell was enough to make her throw up everything she'd just eaten on the spot - and we'd had spaghetti for lunch. Oy vey.
To me a better indicator of sickness would be a fever, a runny nose, a persistent cough. But a liquid laugh - no, not necessarily.

But what that means to us is if one of ours pukes in the schoolyard, he's got to come home immediately and then stay home all day the next day. Even if there's nothing obviously causing the vomit. Does that policy make sense to you?


The third and final thing that drives me absolutely bonkers about school policy is something that would never have happened when I was at school in the 70s and 80s, and that is the issue of what happens when children get into physical altercations at school.
Because Britain became mad on Health and Safety in the 90s and Noughties, we cannot possibly have one child who hits another in our midst, can we? That would not be safe. So again, instead of doing something constructive like giving these disruptive children a chance to make up for their transgressions by putting them to work on something in detention (which would require someone to supervise them, therefore costing money), no, let's send them home and say they can't come back for a whole day, make it the parent's problem, shall we? Because undoubtedly in this day and age, if you were to say hey, make the kid put on a hi-vis jacket, grab a picker and pick up litter in the schoolyard for a couple hours, then some mollycoddling parent that drives little Bobby to school in their massive SuperGasGuzzlerBastard Range Rover every day despite the fact that the little bugger only lives 500 yards away, would scream and holler about human rights violations etc. and take the school to court. And that would never do.

The schools surely realise that they are giving the kids what they want by doing this, don't they? They must be aware that most kids, given the choice, would rather stay home than go to school? I mean it's a no-brainer.
"Well Tommy, you can either go to school like a good boy or stay home and play on your PS3. Which one do you choose?"
"Hmm, dunno.... 's a tough one." This would never happen. It's more like,
"Well, Tommy, you punched your mate in the face. Everyone saw you do it. Have a day off, mate."

 So what exactly is the point of this ridiculous exercise? Like I said, they make it someone else's problem and save money by not having to pay someone to watch them. And then when the behaviour worsens because the children know they can get away with anything with no actual punishment, they'll blame it on their upbringing. Because if it were any other way, that would reflect badly on the quality of the school, and the board of Governors would not take that very well at all.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Let me tell you something that happened to me the other day, because it is indicative of society falling apart.

The other day we walked up to the town. This in itself is not news, or unusual. However, it was the first time since Laura gave birth that she walked for any distance, because she'd had a c-section and it was the first operation she'd ever had of any kind, so she was a little sore to say the least. But I digress. Let me get to the crux of the matter.

At a certain point I went to the pub with the stroller containing our new daughter Rosie. I can hear the collective gasp - you can take your kids to the pub now in the UK because there is a complete ban on smoking indoors. So don't fret. Rosie was OK, there was no second-hand smoke. And no, I didn't buy her a beer. But I digress. Let me get to the point here, people!

Oh, and don't worry about Laura. She had an appointment at the beauty salon (not that she needs it! God, I'm good) and I was in need of food. It was mid-afternoon and I hadn't eaten much that morning so I was ravenous. She said 'go ahead to the pub, get a bite to eat, and I'll meet you in a few minutes'. But I digress. Or do I? No, I don't, because me getting food is central to my tale of woe.

I ordered a tasty platter of the White Lion's always delicious gammon, egg and chips, which came along in due course. As I was about three bites in, a couple of young women entered the pub. No, this isn't that kind of story. I should back up and tell you that I was seated at a table directly facing the door.

These two women came in. I'd say about mid-to-late-20's, sort of semi-pretty in that Barbour-jacket-jolly-hockey-sticks-ruddy-faced-horsey-set kind of way. As they were making their way to their table one of them looked at me, then at my food, and said "Ooh, that looks good!". Then, as she was hanging her jacket on the back of the chair, turned back to me, leaned forward and extended a hand towards my plate. "You won't miss a couple of those chips!" she said in a cheeky-chummy sort of way. "YES I WILL!" I replied, pulling my plate closer towards myself. Those are my chips, dammit! I paid for them and I will protect them with my life! (They were very good, actually).

WHO DOES THAT!??!?!? Where in the world does one get the cojones to just go up to a complete stranger in a pub and start nicking food off their plate???

OK, I know I probably didn't need the chips. But I didn't know this woman, and she didn't know me. If a friend had done that, I probably would laugh and give them a couple of chips. But what sort of upbringing does one have to have had to think that it is even remotely OK to go up to chubby stranger and steal their dinner out from under their nose? What sort of childhood instilled these kind of values?

Alright, I understand that it is possible that a strange woman may be able to pull this sort of scam on a strange man if (a) the man is single and perhaps drunk and possibly even horny; and (b) the woman is in fact attractive, wearing sexy clothes, and very hungry.

But this is just yet another example of how people just don't know how to act any more. When I was young, I was raised to have these things called good manners. What happened since I was at school? A lot, apparently. Including life-skills workshops in How To Be A Rude Arsehole, evidently.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I've Been A Bit Busy

Well, folks, I find myself humbly apologising once more for neglecting my duties as regards this blog. I offer up no other excuse save the fact that I've been busy. It seems I am one of those people that never stops thinking or planning or creating, and that is compounded by my position as a person to whom shit continues to happen.

I live in a house where it is very difficult to find some space and time in which to privately think quietly and write solidly. I can go up to my laptop with the best of intentions and inevitably too much other stuff is occurring within earshot, and this distracts me. Not to mention the pitfalls of Facebook, Gmail and Angry birds that conspire to make me procrastinate. Usually by the time I get to the point where I say to myself "OK Jeff, time to get serious" I'm usually too tired to bother and end up saying to myself that I'll do it tomorrow. And it doesn't happen.

Also, many of you will know that my partner Laura just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Rosie. Spending time at the hospital does not allow one to do much blogwise, and right now Rosie is sitting in her bouncy seat nearby and making little pseudo-cranky baby grumpy noises, so I know that it is just a matter of time before I have to quit this and give her a bottle.

Transition Town Tenterden has been consuming much of my time and energy recently, as I have been trying to design a local food map to print out and hand out to people that stop by our booth on October 6th and 7th (Harvest Festival/Folk Fest weekend). I have redone this map about 7 times. I'm still not sure it's complete but I am not redoing it again (at least, not for a while).

I've also been busy moderating Tenterden Freegle.

Last but not least is work. Work is irritating because where I work it can be either feast or famine. Most evenings behind the bar are painfully slow. Occasionally I'll work a Friday night, which can be busy, or a function in the upstairs bar, which can be a nightmare of drunken young folks shouting "givvus six, no wait, seven, no wait, fourteen Jager Bombs mate and a pinta lager top!!" and people that come to the bar after we've called time and we're clearly cashing up, wanting a drink, then resort to attempted bribery when we tell them that the bar is closed. "Come on, I'll buy you a drink! I'll pay double for it!! C'mon gissa drink!"

So there you are. My life is not a dull and empty one for sure. I have a baby and a lovely woman and three lively boys and three idiotic mutts, a job with odd hours and unpredictable business, an environmental group that I spend time working on, a Yahoo group to run, lots of great ideas, and issues with laziness. So if I'm silent for weeks on end, please don't think for a second that it's because of something you did or said. I'm still here, and one of these days I'll be back on a more regular schedule.

NB: As I was typing the title to this post, my finger slipped on the last letter, causing me to hit two keys at once. It came out as I've Been A Bit Busty - and I considered keeping it like that for a moment.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oh, The Irony

Could have been said yesterday. Great example of how to say absolutely nothing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

100 Records That Shook the World, #27


Marquee Moon (LP)

Released in 1977, Television's Marquee Moon is often cited as the seminal post-punk/new wave record, largely because unlike conventional punk's three-chord thrash, Marquee Moon  is full of extended guitar improv and layered textures. Like many critically acclaimed songs and albums, it wasn't a commercial success.

The whole album is weird and different to anything else released at the time. From the front cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe to Tom Verlaine's nervous and edgy delivery, the album shimmers. The band never achieved anything more than a cult status in their native USA but were in fact more popular in the UK, thanks largely to a rave review by Nick Kent in the NME.

Many artists have cited this album as a major influence - Stephen Morris of New Order and Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode to name but two. Rolling Stone ranked it at number 128 in their '500 Greatest Albums of All Time'.



Answer: Cadillac Records

So last time on the Puzzler I asked you in which film you would find rapper and actor Mos Def portraying a real-life rock'n'roll icon? The answer is the wonderful Cadillac Records, which chronicles the rise of Chess Records and all its artists. in this movie you can find Beyonce playing Etta James, Cedric The Entertainer portraying Willie Dixon, label owner Leonard Chess played by the illustrious Adrien Brody, and Mr. Mos Def in the guise of Chuck Berry. Here's a look...

So... next question.

Which famous reggae artist famously covered Chuck Berry's most well-known song?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Weird Thoughts

Sometimes I have thoughts that, to me at least, seem normal. To other people, not so much. Like the thought I am about to lay on you hep cats and cool chicks right now.

I was in the shower the other day, mainly because I needed a good wash, but also because when I'm in the shower I find I can actually think. It's nice and peaceful in there, and I find my mind wanders. And when it wanders, I think of things that are interesting, funny, but a bit weird. So prepare yourself.

The thought I had was this: It doesn't matter what age your computer is, if you are trying to open a web page, the more important and useful the website, the slower it is likely to load. It is a strange conspiracy that is somehow hard-wired into the inner workings of the Interwebs. There is some piece of code somewhere that ensures that Gmail will take forever to load, while Angry Birds opens in an instant, no matter whether your machine is a brand-new iMac or a steam-driven piece of crap running Windows 3.1.

Conversely, the more trivial, pointless, or pornographic the web page, then the harder it will be to close it.

Computing speed has no bearing on it. It makes not one iota of difference that you bought your brand-new top-of-the-line PC or Mac yesterday. If you're trying to close a page in a hurry for some reason - say for example your boss is about to stroll past your desk as you're surfing the Intertubes (hey, I'm not saying you do that, but some people do) then the page you have open had better be Hotmail or or something useful, because if you're watching one-legged midget stripper clowns on acid doing naughty sexy time, as soon as you click the little red X you will see popup ( after popup (You've won an iPod! This no joke! You are fo sho the 999,999th person to click on this page!!!!!!) appear, coupled with the old egg-timer icon and perhaps a little window saying Really? You want to leave this page?? Good grief man, what's wrong with you?? , all of which will be floating above the midget clowns doing naughty things to each other's naughty bits, and your employer will know that you are perhaps NOT Employee of the Month. Not only that, but the more extreme and bizarre the website, the slower the pages close. You are comparatively safe with Teen Sexpots and Horny Housewives. But get stronger than that and you are going to wait an age. Not that I look at any of that type of stuff, you understand.

But why is this? Is it just another example of the powers that be trying to embarrass us all and criminalize everything we do? Like those little anti-piracy ads they tack on the beginning of movies on DVD. You wouldn't download a car, they say. So why would you download a movie? Look, mate, here's the thing. No, we wouldn't download a car. Because it's impossible. But if it was possible, we sure as hell would! I'd have my own dealership by now.

OK. Now I need a shower.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Collars 'R' Us

A few months back a little game started among some of my Facebook buddies and myself. The instigator of this game was my girlfriend Laura, who had noticed that my friends Clark Brooks and Michael Noble aka Ruprecht had a similar warped sense of humour.

There is a website and Facebook page run by a lady calling herself The Kitsch Bitsch, and some of the photos on her Facebook page (as well as some other folks' random photos) are of a suitably cheesy '60s/'70s style. Some of these pictures are taken from old fashion catalogues and awful ads in the back of women's magazines. I forget which picture started it all, but the thing is snowballing.

You see, what Laura did was to tag us guys in one of these pictures. We then felt duty bound to make up an appropriate story to explain how and why we were in the picture, disguised and wearing awful cheap polyester clothing.
It started to sound like a bad '70s detective show. It tickled the three of us so much we decided to keep doing it. Now this may not sound like much of a game to you - but frankly, I don't care. I think it's hilarious and I'll only stop when it ceases to be so. Here, as an example of the sort of thing I am talking about, is a recent entry, with additional comments from Rick Arthur, whom I believe to be a pal of Michael's...

Rick Arthur Say hello to my little friend...
Those outfits give the wearer certain powers.
There is a reason these fashions came and went out of style. They were bullet proof, smudge proof, and stain resistant!

Michael NobleJeff? Clark? We're going to have to be a bit more on our guards about our superhero exploits. It appears Rick Arthur may be on to us. How else would he know the duds shown were "bullet proof, smudge proof, and stain resistant" ... ???

If you recall, I had first dibs on the clothing we selected for "Collars 'R' Us' ... the caper where we almost lost our crime fighting licenses. I don't remember much about this adventure as I was mesmerized at one point by my "Lawrence Welk"-flavored shirt. I do recall being bludgeoned over the head for my inattentiveness by the guys we were hired to stake out. Was it you, Jeff, who came to my rescue? Or Clark. Details may now be revealed!

Jeff Hickmott I must admit, my memory of this particular adventure is a little hazy, but that might be due to the fact that my trousers were so tight that my circulation was slowed significantly, causing me to become rather light-headed. however, I do recall that it was Clark Brooks' quick thinking that saved us both when he pointed off into the distance and yelled, "Look! Jacqueline Bisset!! In the swimsuit she wore in The Deep!" which caused enough of a distraction to enable us to make a speedy getaway. Hats off to Clark there, for sure.

Clark Brooks What's odd about that is that is not the kind of thing I'd normally be inclined to share with either of you. Or anyone else for that matter.

Michael Noble ‎... which makes it all the better of a tale ...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Puzzler: Mos Def

So last time I asked you folks where one might see the venerable Steve Cropper in a Jack Black film. The more perceptive amongst you might know that the answer was in a scene from Be Kind Rewind,  starring Mr. Black and the wonderful Mos Def as two hapless video-store clerks whose entire library gets wiped clean in some sort of freak magnetic happening, and they then decide to re-film the entire library themselves. Much hilarity ensues. Steve Cropper is to be found sitting alongside Booker T. Jones on a train, portraying themselves as fans of Fats Waller. Unfortunately there appear to be no clips of this brief cameo anywhere on the Intertubes.

So the next question...?

Which rocker has Mos Def portrayed on the big screen, and in which movie?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

100 Records that Shook The World, #28

"There's oodles of pain in the Low album. That was my first attempt to kick cocaine, so that was an awful lot of pain. And I moved to Berlin to do it. I moved out of the coke center of the world into the smack center of the world. Thankfully, I didn't have a feeling for smack, so it wasn't a threat."

It was intended to be the soundtrack for Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth, but Roeg preferred something more acoustic and folky. No matter. Bowie was kicking coke for the first time, recording in Paris with Tony Visconti producing, Brian Eno collaborating, and exploring the sounds of all those wonderful Krautrockers like Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk, all the while battling his former manager in court. The front cover, showing Bowie in profile under the word Low (a still from Man Who Fell To Earth),  was a deliberate pun about keeping a low profile. 

The end result was one of the most influential albums of the 70s, featuring the wonderful single Sound And Vision.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Naming No Names

Peruse the following newspaper pages, if you will, please.

This illustrates to me what a 'slow news week' looks like. (The Facebook page with all its comments is gone, by the way, so don't bother looking.)

I have had many interactions with Lizzie and Tyrone, and found them to be lovely people. They helped me out with some things, such as providing meeting spaces. A few things entered my mind when I read this.

  1. I don't think Lizzie and Ty posted those comments because I think they are classier than that, but even if they had - so what? No names are named, so really, who's being offended? Methinks some people may have a guilty conscience.
  2. Um, it's true! Tenterden does indeed have a 'mafia' so to speak - well, maybe mafia is the wrong terminology - a clique perhaps? But the thing is - if you are part of this clique, you don't know you are, and if you aren't, you sure as hell know who is. The members of said group are people who think that what they do is for the good of the town, but really what they do is for the good of their own bank accounts and businesses and such. They like to give the appearance of doing good and charitable works for the community, but really it's a cunning web of deceit to cover up tax write-offs etc.  and keep all the money flowing in circular fashion from one person to the next. All strictly legal and above board, you understand, but if you're not in the club, then boy are you profoundly aware of it. And if you are of any use to them, they're nice as pie to you - until you outlive your usefulness. Then they'll just blank you.
  3. True, too, that there a lot of people out there that think the world owes them something because they inhabit it. There is this peculiar sense of entitlement that seems all-pervasive in today's 'yoof'. And some people are just plain lazy. 
All I can say is, good luck to Lizzie and Tyrone, two of the nicest people I know. Hope you find good neighbours in Somerset.

And just before anyone starts in on me,  this is just my lil' ol' blog here. I'm just ranting and putting in my four pennorth. As it says at the top of the page, drivel, piffle, tommyrot and suchlike.  But I know which club I'm in, and it's one I started... and anyone can join.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Bit Of A Trial

This tickled me so much that I had to share it.
A man accused of attempted murder did nothing to help his cause when he sacked his legal team and launched into a tirade of profanities against the Judge.
David Baker was appearing at the Supreme Court of Queensland charged with the attempted murder of his girlfriend after he stabbed her in the heart in 2009.
The Australian notes at the preliminary hearing, Baker was informed that he would have to represent himself as he had fired his solicitor and his barrister had resigned.
Baker told the judge, Justice Martin Daubney, that he would find new representation but the Judge dismissed this suggestion.
According to Central Queensland News this rattled Baker who said: "Don't blooming start your sh**, right, mate."
Justice Daubney, who Baker referred to as "lardarse", "fatso" and "silly old c***", was than repeatedly interrupted by Baker.
During the short hearing, Baker managed to squeeze in over 80 s**ts, f**ks and f***in's and even a few c***s for good measure.
He was later found guilty of the crime and jailed for 15 years.
Scroll down for the full court transcript...

Justice Martin Daubney: I have been informed, Mr Baker, that you wish to dispense with the services of your solicitor and as a consequence of that your barrister is also seeking leave to withdraw, which means you will be self-represented for this trial. Do you understand that?
Baker: Yes.
Justice: So you'll be representing yourself for this trial, do you understand?
Baker: No, no way in the world.
Justice: Yes, way in the world.
Baker: I'll get a new solicitor and barrister.
Justice: No, you tried that last time, Mr Baker.
Baker: Look, now listen here, mate, you don't know what you're f***ing talking about.
Justice: Now you listen to me.
Baker: Don't blooming start your sh**, right, mate.
Justice: You listen here Mr Baker.
Baker: You weren't f***ing there so don't start your crap.
Justice: Mr Baker.
Baker: Were you there?
Justice: Mr Baker.
Baker: Were you there? Were you there? No you f***ing weren't.
Justice: Mr Baker.
Baker: Because the arseholes did the wrong thing. Right? Read your f***ing paragraph or scripts, mate. Don't start putting your f***ing heavy crap on me.
Justice: Now, Mr Baker...
Baker: You can get stuffed.
Justice: ...the trial will be...
Baker: I don't give a ...
Justice: ...proceeding....
Baker: ...f***, you and your trial mate. Stick your trial up your f***ing arse. I'll go.
Justice: Sit down please Mr Baker.
Baker: No, get stuffed.
Justice: Oh, all right. Now, Mr Baker, the trial will be proceeding. There is one matter that does need to be attended to. The principal witness for the Crown in this trial is a person who has the status of a ...
Baker: I don't even know why you're f***ing talking about mate. Talk in normal lingo, language.
Justice: The complainant in respect of the count of attempted murder is a person who ...
Baker: Who are you f***ing talking about?
Justice: ... is a...
Baker: Stop talking in riddles.
Justice: ... is a protected witness under the Evidence Act and for the purposes of the trial, you will not be ...
Baker: I don't know what you're f***ing talking about.
Justice: Well, if you stop shouting at me and listen to what I'm saying you might start understand.
Baker: What do you want me to f***ing do?
Justice: What I want you to do is stop swearing at me and listen to me.
Baker: I'm not going to f***ing stop swearing at you.
Justice: All right then, it's a matter for you.
Baker: Stick your f***ing trial up your ass.
Justice: That won't be happening to me.
Baker: I couldn't give a sh** mate.
Justice: Well, that's a matter for you.
Baker: Well you can start your trial and stick it up your arse cause I'm not having anything to do with it.
Justice: Sit down.
Baker: No you get f***ed.
Justice: Sit down.
Baker: Go and get f***ed.
Justice: Sit down, please.
Baker: I'm not f***ing doing what you say. Up you.
Justice: Sit down.
Baker: You're not going to f***ing tell me I'm going to be representing meself at all. I need legal aid. I need representation and not you and or any other f***ing arseholes gonna tell me anything different.
Justice: Sit down, please.
Baker: No, get stuffed.
Justice: If you don't sit down I'll have you manacled.
Baker: You can f***ing have what you like mate.
Justice: Corrective Services could you please restrain the accused..
Baker: F*** you.
Justice: Mr Bailiff, could you ask security to attend the court please.
Baker: Do what you f***ing like. I've got no representation so that's it I'm not listening. I don't give a damn what you say .
Justice: The next people entering the court are the court security staff.
Baker: Oh, what do you want me to do? What do you want, a Mickey Mouse badge?
Justice: No.
Baker: Stick it on your fat chest? Hey? What do you want? A Mickey Mouse badge. Come on fatso, what have you got to say for that?
Baker: Oh, the mouse has gone quiet.
Justice: Security could I ask you to take up positions immediately behind the accused. If he moves from that chair you are to assist the corrective services personnel in restraining him. You are not to move, do you understand me Mr Baker.
Baker: Get f****d.
Justice: Mr Baker, because (Margaret) Revesz ...
Baker: Listen here lardarse, no f*** you. I don't give a f***ing sh** what you say.
Justice: Because Ms R...
Baker: I don't give a sh** what you f***in' say.
Justice: ... is a protected witness ...
Baker: I'm telling you now you can get f***ed. All right?
Justice: ... the law requires ...
Baker: Are you stupid or what? I don't give a sh** what you f***in' say.
Justice: ... that I arrange for you to be given free legal assistance by Legal Aid.
Baker: I don't give a f***. I couldn't give a sh** what you say. What, are you deaf?
Justice: ... for the cross-examination of that protected witness....
Baker: Hey, lard arse, can't you f***in' hear me?
Justice: ... unless you arrange for legal representation ..
Baker: What are you deaf?
Justice: ... or unless you do not want that protected witness to be cross-examined.
Baker: What the f***in' talking about, I don't know what you're f***in' talking about, lard arse.
Justice: Is there anything that you want to say in relation to me making an order ...
Baker: Yeah, I don't know what you're f***in' talking about, you silly old c***.
Justice: Thank you for that submission, in which case I order...
Baker: Well, you can f***in' order what you like.
Justice: ... that Ms R...
Baker: Order me a f***in' pizza while you're at it.
Justice: ... is a protected witness for this proceeding ...
Baker: Who gives a sh**.
Baker: Wait, what are these two f***heads doing here then if they're not f***in' representing me?
Justice: I give you leave to withdraw. Thankyou both very much for your assistance.
Baker: Yeah, piss off. F***in dogs.
Some discussion about the trial opening...
Baker: What's this f***in' opening brief and that you're talking about, lardarse?
Justice: If your opening is going to be that short then you'll want to call the complainant pretty well straight away.
Crown prosecutor: That's so, yes. I would submit the most prudent course is perhaps to allow the panel to go and then look to empanelling them tomorrow.
Justice: Yes, all right then. Now, Mr Baker, you can continue to interrupt me or you can listen to what I'm going to say.
Baker: I don't give a f***, I need representation.
Justice: No we're beyond that stage.
Baker: No, hey, listen here you f***in' stupid old c***, I've got f***in' paperwork here, if you weren't so pigheaded and using your big f***in' fat lard arse, you might have f***in' read it before you f***in' jumped the gun, eh, but no, you had your f***in' cocking mates here going on like a two bob f***in' watch. I never said anything about f***in' Don MacKenzie. I had a complaint against Ken f***in' MacKenzie, right, not my barrister. I had nothing to complain about him, it was the other f***in' prick and I wrote you a letter to f***in' explain why.
Justice: was there anything else you wanted to say to me at the moment?
Baker: Yeah, why don't you f***in' read it and see why I wanted to - what was it - blimmin' to adjourn for a while. There was a f***in' reason for it.
Justice: No, there's no adjournments, Mr Baker, you've had ...
Baker: Well, I don't give a stuff. You can't f***in' sentence me or do anything because I'm doing a plea. The thing was when I got my plea overturned last f***in' time, did you read it, why - what happened was because the barrister and solicitor stuffed up. I was putting in a complaint about Ken MacKenzie not revealing the parts I needed for my trial but you wouldn't listen.
Justice: Thankyou for that information. Now what's going to happen is this ...
Baker: I don't give a sh** what happens, anyone comes in here, I'll f***in disturb and I'll run amok.
Justice: Not in my courtroom you won't.
Baker: Hey, don't f***in' tell me I f***in' won't mate.
Justice: Not in my courtroom you won't.
Baker: You think these f***in' jokers are going to worry me? Or the screws, what are you going to f***in' do?
Justice: Whether they worry you or not is a matter for you.
Baker: What are you going to f***in' do to me.
Justice: What I'm going to do to you is tell you that your trial is starting tomorrow.
Baker: Oh no f***in' way mate.
Justice: Oh yes, your trial is starting tomorrow.
Baker: You want a f***in' bet? You want a f***in' bet? I'll tell you what, I'll make a f***in' bet, I'll make a bet with you and I tell you what, you'll lose your f***in' fat arse. I'll put myself in medical, you c***. I'll f***in' slash up or I'll do something. You don't f***in' threaten me you f***in' dog.
Justice: You can take the accused down, thank you. I'll see you tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.
Baker: no I f***in' won't, I tell you f***in' now, you f***in' lard arse.
Justice: Thank you for coming up gentleman, I'm grateful. I was actually called much worse things on the rugby paddock you know.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thank You, Young People

Thanks to all the cool kids and young adults for making sure we adults know how 'cool' you are, guys. We appreciate that you don't want your 'BFFs' thinking that perhaps you are somehow 'gay' because you would do something as 'gay' as putting your rubbish in the bins provided. That's so gay. By all means leave your detritus scattered in as wide an area as possible once you have finished chowing down on one of Zaffa's tasty kebabs or perhaps some Tesco sandwiches and a huge family size bottle of Tesco Summer Fruit Squash. After all, we were young once. We know what it's like when your peers may frown on your decision to tidy up after yourselves. After all, who wants to keep their shitty old town clean? Not you, that's for sure, and thanks for showing us in the best way possible. Assholes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Honey Covered Sausages

In the car, outside Tesco yesterday, waiting for my beloved to return from, er, returning an item. Killing time. We flick on the radio, my sister and I. Well, she flicks it on, but we both listen to it. It's Stevie Wonder. The track is Do I Do. It gets to the middle section, where Stevie says

Yes I got some candy kisses for your lips
Yes I got some honey suckle chocolate dripping kisses full of love for you

But what I hear is

Yes I got some candy kisses for your lips
Yes I got some honey covered sausages and kisses full of love for you

Much laughter ensues.

Excuse me, I must go to the kitchen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

100 Records That Shook The World, #29

'Nuff said.

100 Records That Shook the World, #30

New Rose

The Damned

Some people make the mistake of saying that this single was the first punk single. To be accurate, it was the first single by a British punk band. Whatever. It's just damn good.

Produced by Nick Lowe and released on October 22, 1976, it sent shockwaves through the stale music industry, soon to be picked up by the Pistols and the Clash and turned into a music revolution.

No more need be said except - enjoy.

Musical Puzzler: Spielberg

So last time on the Puzzler I asked you this question: What role did Steven Spielberg play in the film The Blues Brothers? Looks like I stumped you folks because I heard nary a whisper from any of you. But I can tell you now - his role was small yet pivotal - the Cook County Assessor's Office Clerk. Don't believe me? Just watch this!

So there you are. Brief but pivotal.

Next question! The Blues Brothers band consists primarily of members of the Stax house band, Booker T. & The M.G.'s. Guitarist Steve Cropper has made several other film appearances. In which Jack Black flick did he make a cameo appearance?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Film Noir 2

Apologies to Paul Merton.

Music: 'Dances And Dames', Kevin MacLeod,

Film Noir 1

Music: 'Dances And Dames', Kevin Macleod,

Apologies to Max Headroom.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Hairy Tale

I used to sport a goatee. I enjoyed having one, I kept it neat and tidy. I don't have one now, but you never know, I might someday go back to having one. It's the only kind of beard I would consider having, although i don't have anything against beards in general.

Except one.

A few years ago a certain English footballer married to a Spice Girl popularised the neatly trimmed two-day-growth, and completed the look with the super fit bod and the neatly trimmed hair. At around the same time an alarming trend had started among young professional men - the neat hair with the one spiky askew bit sticking out of the front or the top like an incongruous hair horn. That I could still live with.


Two or three years ago it all changed. The neat two-day's-growth became the scruffy two-day's-growth, and the one spiky bit in an otherwise neat head of hair became lots of spiky scruffy bits pointing out of the head at all angles, creating the general impression that the hipster that owned the head of hair had somehow been involved in an altercation with a gorse bush.

Now I know I talked about facial hair before in a post entitled Indie Name Of Beards, but I am not talking about your Zach Galifiananinanlkllkikkbiibiillis beard,which is the I-don't-give-a-rat's-ass beard. I'm talking about these beards:

This may look like Jake Gyllenhaal on a bad day but it is in fact Shia LaBeouf. True story.

Scruffy buggers one and all.

Guys, if you want to do facial hair right, go to the king.

And if you want the scruffy look complete with hair, go to the master.

 Need I say more?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Puzzler: Call a Cab

Last time on the Puzzler I asked you which movie featured the legendary Hi-de-Ho man Cab Calloway as a character named Curtis. I was then met with a wall of stony silence, which surprised me, because (a) Cab wasn't in that many movies; and (b) the answer is a movie that most bona fide rock fans have to have seen at least once, surely? I shall now put you out of your misery.

Cab Calloway - Minnie The Moocher (Blues... by Bodhisattva1956

It was of course The Blues Brothers, a now-legendary movie dotted with great performances from such rock originators as Sam and Dave, John Lee Hooker, James Brown and Ray Charles, among others. I don't need to tell you any more about the movie other than the fact that if you haven't seen it, then you must, immediately.

So then... the next Puzzler?

Steven Spielberg had a small role in the Blues Brothers. Whom did he portray?

100 Records That Shook The World, #31

Ramones (LP)


"For me, it blows everything else off the radio." - Robert Christgau

The rock critics of the time loved them. The label had high hopes for them. But their debut LP Ramones failed to set the charts alight. The now-iconic LP spawned two singles, Blitzkrieg Bop and I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend, neither of which dented Billboard's Hot 100.

Recorded for a paltry $6,400 and containing 14 songs, the longest of which (I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement) barely surpassed two and a half minutes, the album was full of their now-legendary stripped-down fuzz-guitar no-nonsense punk pop. Writing about the title of Blitzkrieg Bop, rock critic Steve Huey said it was "a nice encapsulation of the group's aesthetic: simple, bouncy pre-British Invasion rock & roll played at top volume and twice the speed. Blaring the same three chords for most of its duration, the song was rock at its most basic." Oh, but what a song. I defy anyone not to join in with "Hey Ho, Let's Go!"

It wasn't until the Ramones briefly toured England in 1976 that they began to see their hard work and incessant gigging pay off. On July 4th they played at the legendary Roundhouse on the same bill as The Flamin' Groovies. Members of the Sex Pistols and The Clash were there, and met them backstage. The rest, as they say, is history.




The following exchange took place today between me and an 11-year-old member of the household who wanted to be left alone to chat with pals via Facebook and BlackBerry while watching TV. I wanted to vacuum his bedroom. The light was on, the curtains drawn, it was about 11 am.

Me: "Why is the light on and the curtain drawn in broad daylight?"
Him: "Natural light sucks balls."
Me: "But natural light happens to be free, as in, we don't have to pay for it."
Him: "Well what about at night?"
Me: "Well that's what the LIGHTS ARE FOR! DOYYY!"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Protection Racket

Right now in the UK one of the news items that we constantly hear about is that of PPI, or Payment Protection Insurance. Specifically, the PPI that was 'mis-sold'. We do not have to worry about the definition of 'mis-sold' because there are literally dozens of companies that have sprung up in order to help the consumer reclaim this 'mis-sold PPI', and their adverts on the telly are so ubiquitous that we cannot help but understand the definition of 'mis-sold', because EVERY commercial contains the line 'PPI was mis-sold if you didn't want, need, or ask for it'. Apparently we the British public are so dumbed down that we need this explained to us.
So are you still confused about what PPI actually is? Read on:
 In all types of insurance some claims are accepted and some are rejected, however in the case of PPI the number of rejected claims is high compared to other types of insurance. A primary reason for this is that, as with many forms of general insurance, the insurance is not underwritten at the sales stage and is sometimes taken out by customers without careful consideration as to whether it is right for their circumstances and without careful attention to the policy eligibility conditions. Individuals who seek out and purchase a policy without advice have little recourse if and when a policy does not benefit them. However most PPI policies are not sought out by consumers and in some cases consumers claim to be unaware that they even have the insurance.
These ads are absolutely riveting. I mean, they glue you to the screen. Forget Hollywood, this is BAFTA standard stuff.

However in researching this it turns out that the above company Gladstone Brookes has been using the PPI scandal to their advantage, charging a small fee upfront (usually £50) and saying that their service is 'no win, no fee'. People have used the service, been told that they can't get their money refunded and then Gladstone Brookes refuses to hand the 50 quid back. Watch:

And now we have the case in the news recently of Lloyds Bank. Now, the more observant among you will know that I have a general distrust of banks. To me banks of all kinds have just had that same air of sleaziness about them that is usually associated with ambulance-chasing lawyers, pimps, and politicians. Now that distrust has become complete.

Earlier this month Lloyds announced it was using new powers to claw back £1.5m of earlier executive bonuses – including £580,000 from the former chief executive Eric Daniels – because of its PPI mis-selling. The company has cut annual bonuses for its 100,000 staff by less than a third to a total of £375million, with scores of senior bankers likely to receive huge payouts.

So let me get this straight - these people are still getting bonuses? OK, so they're not as big as they once were. Whoop-te-doo. They are also selling off 600 of their branches, to Co-op Bank. So what, are we supposed to feel sorry for them?

Anyhoo, it seems that companies and banks alike are using the mis-sold PPI scandal and subsequent repayments as another excuse to fleece the public, because there are so many different people out there offering to get your money back for you. This is because humans like a quick fix. If something seems like it's going to be difficult or confusing to do, and someone comes along and offers to do it for you and makes it sound like it's going to be easy, then we lazy humans will jump at the chance. Truth is, it's not that hard.

If you want to find out how to reclaim your PPI the first and only place you should go is to Martin Lewis and his website MoneySaving He's got a page specifically to tell you how to go about it, at You are welcome.

And if you keep seeing those ads on TV, it means you are watching too much daytime telly, because that's when the bulk of them are on, during Jeremy Kyle or Judge Judy. Get out in the sunshine, grow some veggies, walk in the park, whatever. But turn the bleeding telly off. Unplug the thing. Read a book. Or write a blog.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Reader's Digest

So it's been a while (again), much stuff happening in the World of Jeff, and not enough time to write it all down, and sometimes it just seems all so trivial and pointless. But I like trivia and pointless things, and so, fair reader, do you.

So what do I have to whet your whistle with today? Call it a compilation, a digest, whatever - I have a few thoughts that have been playing on my mind recently and it is time to set them down before I forget. Bullet points and all. Don't worry- there won't be a test later, but just read, ponder and enjoy.

  • I don't know about you, but I am not crazy about those moments when you are walking in town, and it's dark, and there are relatively few cars and people about, and suddenly you notice - or rather, you hear - a person of the youngish persuasion some way ahead shouting unintelligible nonsense such as 'Oowoy' or 'Ya-a-ah!' and you look to where the noise is coming from and you cannot quite work out who or what they were shouting at, because there are no other peeps in the vicinity. It tends to make me think that perhaps the person uttering these strange tribal-guttural sounds (who is invariably somewhere between pubescence and mid-twenties) is a trifle unbalanced, possibly under the influence of a controlled substance and liable to do who knows what to me should I cross his path. Of course, being a born coward, I try to pretend I didn't notice this person hailing his invisible buddy, and I casually cross the street as if that was what I was intending to do the whole time. I am also somewhat similarly intimidated when I walk along Recreation Ground Road next to the football field when the local F.C. are playing, because the spectators and players, who number about 30 in total, seem to enjoy engaging in similar shouts such as 'Ee-woah' and 'Geebarrack'.  In fact it seems to me that the entire game of football was built around a desire to holler loudly in a garbled fashion. The same logic could be applied to the songs and chants that occur at soccer matches - complete rubbish. Perhaps we should try to get these two groups together for a mass shout-a-thon? 
  • While we're on the subject of sport, and bearing in mind that I loathe, detest and out-and-out hate about ninety-nine percent of all sports, I have to say that I cannot get my head around the cricket these days. When I were nobbut a lad, back in the day, and up until I left the British Isles for 'Merca, cricket was played by two teams all dressed in white twill trousers, white shirts and white sweaters. You did not need team colours because you knew the batsmen were on one team and the fielders and bowlers were the other team. They had their team logos, very small, embroidered on their sweaters just in the breast pocket area. That was fine. They could tell each other apart - we didn't need to. We had a scoreboard and Brian Johnston commentating, "The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey" and all that. It worked. It was fine. It did not need changing. International cricket also needed no team colours because you could tell the difference between the M.C.C. and the Pakistanis or the West Indies. Fast forward twenty years and they're all wearing team colours with their names printed boldly on the back like the NFL. In One-Day Internationals, or ODI to give it its new hip 21st Century name (bear in mind here that I'm fully aware that my usage of the word hip immediately marks me out as an old geezer), even the ball is bright and luminous rather than the traditional red leather. And there's this confusing thing called Twenty20 (or is it 20Twenty? I can never remember. Stupid name anyway) which is a bit like a one-day international but shorter, with just 20 overs each. That has bright uniforms and dayglo balls as well. And the cricket-going crowds, always having been a fairly sedate bunch, are now just as bad as soccer or rugby fans with their hollering and garbled singing. Ecch. Not only that but sometimes the players carry on like footy stars too, filling the pages of the celeb-watcher mags with their sexploits. There is also this new and weird thing they do with the field. They paint logos of sponsors on the field, but all distorted and bent so that when your TV camera views it from high up in the stands it looks just as though it was flat on the page. Someone spent an awful lot of time figuring out how to do that - it's just like that thing you used to get in puzzle magazines and kids' annuals where there is something written down all stretched out, and you have to pick up the book and look at the page edge-on to see the words properly. As if we care about fucking Vodafone when we are watching the bloody cricket. I think I may have mentioned this before, but I hate sport.
  • Is it just me or does the school calendar these days do your head in? The reason I ask is that back when I was in school thirty to forty years ago, all the local schools were on the same calendar because they were all run by the same governing body, with he exception of course of private and boarding schools. All the state-run schools had the same holidays and half-terms, which made sense, because then all the parents knew that all their kids would be off school at the same time and they could make arrangements for that.  But now that we are in a progressive age with schools becoming academies, mini-schools and sixth form colleges, they no longer have to adhere to a prescribed calendar sent down from the powers that be - all they are required to do is to make it so that the school is open for at least a certain number of days per year. Now that's all well and good if your kids all attend the same school - but if some are at junior school and some are in secondary, as is the case now in my house, it means that one kid is only getting a week off for half-term, and the other two have two weeks. Which means that tomorrow morning, only one of them has to drag his butt out of bed and get dressed in his uniform while the other two blissfully snooze on. Does that seem fair to you? Because unlike a lot of adults, I actually remember what it felt like to be a kid, and if it was me, I'd say that pretty much sucks. 
  • So Whitney Houston is dead, and everyone is having their say about it. I can't say I ever liked the woman's music very much, The Bodyguard sucked major league ass, and The Preacher's Wife wasn't much better. Her tantrums and behaviour on Being Bobby Brown  made me glad I hadn't met her. There was one particular episode where I came mighty close to it. The episode where Bobby Brown, being the lovable tosspot that we all know him to be, actually had a nice idea and thought he'd treat Whitney to a day at the spa and pool at Chateau Elan near Braselton, GA, a place I have been to and eaten at a few times due to its close proximity to Gainesville and Oakwood, where I used to live. We went there one year for Mother's Day, as they do a Mom's Day brunch in the atrium which is pretty fancy. (I wasn't paying, you understand - good Gawd no). While we were there partaking of seriously expensive and quite good nommage, a couple of photogs were to be seen taking piccies of a rather animated African-American fellow wearing a hideously garish Bill Cosby cast-off who was posing and mugging for camera on the sweeping staircase. Yes, you've guessed it, it was our dear Bobster, Mister My Prerogative himself. So she must have been around, because really, why would anyone take a photo of Bobby Brown on purpose? So anyway in the episode, Whitney is ticked off with the Brown One because she couldn't believe he brought the darn kids along! Well, what an egregious oversight! The kids coming along on Mother's Day? Perish the thought! "IT'S MOTHER'S DAY." she opined. "Not Kid's Day. It's MAH DAY!" Apparently the fact that if it weren't for the fact that those kids were theirs she wouldn't actually BE a mother somehow escaped her. And that moment sort of sealed the cap on the well of dislike I had for Whitney. So right at this moment when all the radio stations (well, the really shitty ones anyway) are playing Whitney songs four times an hour and all these people are coming out of the woodwork saying what a tremendous talent she was and how she was under-appreciated in her time and the record company marketed her wrong and she was misunderstood and all that bullcrap, I just stand there and think, what a bunch of freakin' hypocrites. I am 99% certain that she had been largely written off to all but the most rabid Houston fans. C'mon, admit it. Ya know ya want to. 
  • OK, so I did own a copy of 'Saving All My Love For You'. Ya got me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mike Harding Saved My Life

I suppose all of us at one time or another have turned in our darkest moments to something to help us out of our doldrums, our funk or whatever you may call it. Whether it be a song or a TV show or a book or a movie, these things we hold dear in our heads and hearts can make us feel better by simply reminding us that we are alive. Not merely alive, but ourselves.

For me, the little section of my brain that contains these items consists mainly of comedy. Comic songs, poems, monologues and standup routines, from such masters as Stephen Fry, Paul Merton, Ben Elton, Shelley Berman, Richard Jeni, Jeff Foxworthy, and even less well known exponents such as Simon Fanshawe, Kevin Day, Jeremy Hardy, Kit Hollerbach, Kip Adotta, Joe Bolster...

You may recall I told you all the story of when I was jailed for bouncing a check, for six days. When I was released, I was (for reasons that are too complicated and involved) homeless for about eight weeks, and had to live in a Salvation Army shelter, sleeping in a dorm with eight other guys. My days were a vacuum that had to be filled somehow, and I spent the majority of my time using free public computers and reading books in a library. I had no transport and so I walked everywhere, and if you know the city of Gainesville, Georgia, you will be aware that while there are sidewalks in the city centre, they tend to run out when you get to the Lakeshore Mall/Wal-Mart/ area, and you are mostly on the grass verge if you want to get to McD's or the Atlanta Bread Company. The shelter is over on Dorsey St, so it's a good long walk to most places.

During my long walks I utilised these little poems, songs and monologues to keep myself entertained. I used them also when driving anywhere and I still do recite them to myself when walking back from town at night. I'm sure if anyone hears me they think I'm a bit barmy.

Back in the 80s I knew a guy named Paul, who happened to leave behind a cassette, one side of which contained two Goon Shows, the other side a wonderful album by Northern comedian and folkie Mike Harding. I kept that tape and a decade later while living in Georgia I discovered it and put it in my car, listening to it while driving around. In fact, it was in my Toyota Corolla that the tape finally gave up the ghost, I had played it so much. But it didn't matter of course, because the LP was now in my brain. Anytime I wanted to hear it I could, because I knew it so well. The album was Mrs. 'Ardin's Kid, and the poem that I used to recite the most while walking around (and still do) was The Ballad Of Cowheel Lou. And I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that it was that that maintained my sanity in troubled times. So I just want to say a big thank you to Mike Harding. Mike - you might just have saved my life, mate.

Reproduced below are the words to The Ballad Of Cowheel Lou. Sorry I couldn't find a convenient YouTube vid of it, but if you want to buy the CD it's available from Amazon or from

Mike Harding

North Of Oldham South of Diggle, there lies a town called Mumps 
Where the tripe mines stand just by the washhouse wall 
And in that deserted town where the shacks are tumbling down 
You can hear the scabby moggies lonesome call

Years ago this town was booming when the tripe rush days were on 
And the miners they rolled in from far and near 
In the 'Sweaty Clog' saloon they were supping night and noon 
Sarsaparilla, liquorice juice and privet beer.

Now she was a good time dancing gal, any tripe miners pal 
For a bottle of Brasso she'd love you all night through 
She was rough and she was tough, she wore no vest and took black snuff 
And was known to all the lads as Cowheel Lou.

Now Lou had one special man, his name was Dangerous Albert 
He sucked Fiery Jack and camphorated oil 
He wore barbed wire combinations and slept rough on Oldham station 
And Wimpey used his dandruff for hardcore.

Now one stormy night in Mumps when the rain came down in lumps 
And the wind blew empty tins off Saddleworth Moor 
In the 'Sweaty Clog' saloon the pianola played a tune 
And Lou was sewing mudflaps on her drawers.

While a gang of tripe prospectors and a couple of tram inspectors
Were gambling all their pay on snakes and ladders 
While a pair of Huddersfield tramps were supping the oil from the lamps
And Albert was trying to kickstart the pianola.

Well, the doors busted open wide and a stranger come inside 
It was Spotty Bum McGrew the lame evangelist 
He was an hop-along bible thumper, he kept a white rat up his jumper 
And in his hand he held a tambourine.

He said " I'm looking for a man as how they call him Dangerous Albert 
I've heard as how he's known around this part." 
Well the pianola stopped its tune and a hush came on the room 
So quiet you could hear a cockroach fart.

Said the stranger, "Me and Al, we were buddies he was my pal 
In the salvation army band we both did play
'Til one night we went on booze, he ripped up me shirt and widdled in my shoes 
He blew his nose on me vest and smashed me tambourine!"

Then Albert caught his eye and the stranger gave a cry 
And leapt upon the bar with a scream of rage 
Then Albert gave a shout and whipped his weapon out 
And in his hand he held a tambourine

Now tales have been told of what took place that night 
The fiercest fight that Mumps has ever seen 
How Spotty Bum McGrew and the lover of Cowheel Lou 
Fought to the very death, each with their tambourine.

All night long they did do battle and their tambourines did rattle 
Spotty Bum's teeth went flying in the grime 
They knocked off Albert's hat and hit the landlords cat 
And stopped to suck a lemon at half time.

Now the second half got dirty as they were both feeling a bit shirty 
Spotty Bum hit Albert with his rubber leg 
Cowheel Lou could stand no more, she picked up pianola from floor 
Chucked it and killed them both stone dead.

Now north of Oldham south of Diggle, there's a broken hearted gal 
Who tends the grave so cold and so bare 
For at Clog Hill above the valley where the wind howls night and day 
Spotty Bum and dangerous Albert are buried there.

So if you go 'cross Saddleworth Moor where the wind whips up from Diggle 
And you think you hear thunder in the east 
Its not thunder 'cross those hillocks it's the ghost of those two pillocks
Knocking buggery out of each other with their tambourines.

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