Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On dilemmas

On dilemmas

Hel-lo lay-dezSo, I spent genuine cash money and joined a gymnasium.

Under usual circumstances, when there's a call for a bit of minor maintenance, such as a plughole becoming blocked with the accumulated gunge of years, you go to the front desk and tell whoever is on duty there's some work that needs doing.

Eventually someone comes along with a plunger and a big stick, and, with a combination of the two, they fix the thing. Which is the kind of top-hole service you come to expect round here.

So, what to do if you fall out of the gym at some unspeakably early hour and - finding yourself just about the only person in the establishment - the following chain of woe inflicts itself on your otherwise blameless life?

a) The gents' showers being "closed for cleaning" - despite there being nary a cleaner to be seen - so you are forced, with no little guilt, to use the unoccupied ladies' facility

b) You note, to some dismay, that the drain is blocked with years of girly hair, and your shower will become a bath within a matter of minutes


c) You absent-mindedly let go with your usual, manly early morning piss-in-the-shower (because, let's face it, we all do it, don't we? Don't we?), not realising that yellow water is already lapping round your ankles

resulting in:

d) a shower tray brimming with piss that refuses to go away.

The correct answer is, of course, this: run for it.

Dave the Maintenance Guy, if you're reading this: I am so, so sorry.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On ripping the piss out of Derek Acorah

On ripping the piss out of Derek Acorah

100 per cent genuine haunted headphones. WoooOOoooOOOoo!The other week, I wrote a post on this site that ripped the piss out of stage psychics and Most Haunted's Derek Acorah in particular. There are no ghosts, no spirit world. Just dreadful stage fakery and parlour tricks.

So, yesterday evening, as I sat alone in the office writing my latest opus (a jolly exciting novel about Cornish rugger buggers, which will, with a following wind, be available to publishers and literary agents in a matter of weeks - hintussss!), I espied the merest hint of movement out of the corner of my eye.

This building is over 150 years old, but there has been a house on the site for at least 500 years. My office is in the luxuriously-appointed snooker room, which while lacking a snooker table boasts a monstrous plasma TV above the fireplace. There has been, as far as I know, little or no history of spooky goings on, but there are three graves in the grounds, the last remains of sub-editors that dared ask for a raise. There are, I should expect, no reports of ghosts mainly because of the low stupid people ratio in the place.

But there, on the desk next to mine, a pair of headphones began to rise slowly into the air of their own accord. One inch. Two, three, four inches. Then, with a rattle, the dropped back onto the table-top.

"Gneep!" I said.


At the very periphery of my vision, black figures began to swirl about me, close in, gripping me with cold, cold hands. The window rattled, the lights dimmed and behind me came a terrifying sound, and a smell as if something had died a week ago.


Yes. I was terrified.

And up on the plasma TV, a terrible, terrible vision stared back at me, mouthing soundless oaths. You're a bastard, Jeremy Paxman.

I am not making this up - there must be a logical explanation*. The latest advance in hover headphones, obviously, or an invisible midget. That'll teach me for listening to my Corrupt Uncle's downloaded music.

Bless you, Sam.

Your 100 per cent true ghost stories, plz.

* And, in retrospect, something to do with the fact that I had been awake for the best part of 21 hours

Monday, February 26, 2007

"As tits"

"As tits"

Today, I am exactly 2.79 per cent more gay than I was last Friday. There is one very good explanation, however, for the temporary increase in my camp rating, and it is this:

Holiday on Ice

Yes, dear reader, my birthday outing this year involved parting with genuine cash money and sitting in converted barn just outside Exeter with 2,000 pensioners, Brownies and *cough* special bus passengers to watch the almost-but-not-quite cream of world ice staking prancing about for two hours to "Let Me Entertain You"; while the car park was filled to overflowing with all the Protons, Kias and Rover 75s in the south west of England.

The rink, comprising the emptied incontinence bags of much of the audience frozen to a yellow sheen, glistened in front of us as Mrs Duck noticed Mrs Warboys from over the road sitting a few rows in front of us. I, of course, had completely failed to recognise her, on account of the fact that she was wearing clothes.

And so the show started, and dozens of butch young things in lycra from the Czech Republic did their skatey best to turn me into a bumsexualist, but the second the pneumatic young lady who played a lion took to the ice, I knew that they would fail. I care not that it was mostly padding, and that she was wearing a pair of skates that she could probably use to slice my head from my body without my even noticing, I now have a burning desire to resurrect my ice hockey career - abandoned at the age of six - so I can impress girls. Girls dressed in cat costumes. Cat costumes with padded lady bumps.

Yes, it was perhaps the campest thing I have ever seen in my life (and that includes a brief meeting with an orange-skinned Dale Winton), but, by God it weren't half good. And that is what worries me. Wafted out of the building on a wave of granny wee ("Ee, that's the best thing I've seen since Daniel O'Donnell"), we took ourselves home, where we took turns at throwing cushions at Philip Schofield on Dancing on Ice.

I am now hoping to offset this overdose of camp by doing something butch and manly this week. Your suggestions - in an envelope marked "I'll scratch your eyes out" - would be most appreciated.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Chunder Bandit

Mirth and Woe: Chunder Bandit

Or: On going through your entire school life as 'The Boy who once Puked in Class'

If my regular tales of mirth and woe are anything to go by, puking in class - or anywhere in school, for that matter - was a pretty regular occurrence. In truth, these episodes were relatively few and far between, and those who razzed at the sight of an explosion of blood, or the discovery of plastic bags full of half-decomposed animal innards at the back of a French class were, by and large, quite rightly excused for evacuating their systems at that particular moment in time.

Lord knows I have.

It is those who chuck their lumps for no reason at all that become branded with that awful tag. Puking in class is just about the worst thing you can ever do in front of your schoolyard peers, even worse than crying when you've been told off, pooing in your pants, or calling your teacher "Mummy".

In fact, these poor, poor people might as well get a t-shirt printed up saying "I (insert name here) chundered in Helen Davies's schoolbag just before a PE lesson, and latterly all over the cloakroom whilst trying - in vain - to find a receptacle for my rich, brown vomit, unable, as I was, to make it into the toilets on time on account of all the other people getting in my way, pointing and laughing" because that is the name they go under for the next decade or so. Also, the print on the t-shirt would have to be quite small.

Luckily, I was never nicknamed "Chunder Bandit". When I chundered in the presence of schoolmates, it was at the end of a particularly hell-raising school trip accident, fuelled by bravado and an overdose of Mars Bar. I was, thankfully, excused and received a rather rousing ovation for my pains before having to go and lie down for a bit.

It was Benny.

Poor, poor Benny, who, just as everybody was getting changed for PE, ran helter-skelter through the class, mouth bulging like a hamster amok in a peanut factory, trying in vain to hold back the inevitable explosion of half-digested school dinner. It was, alas, mushy peas that day. And pink custard.

Such were the crowds of ten and eleven year olds struggling out of school uniform and into PE kits, whilst simultaneously attempting to maintain at least a parcel of modesty, he found to his cost that his route to the classroom door and the sweet, sweet sanctuary of the toilets barred. Taking a detour, it was all too late, and confirming the old adage that "You can't hold back puke", he found that no, you can't hold back puke, which cascaded in its pink-and-green glory into Helen Davies's schoolbag. She cried.

With a second wave of voms welling up inside him, Benny made one final dash for the door. He never made it, and the classroom's enthusiastically collected display of French produce received the kind of gastric comment that the UK Independence Party would have been proud of. Mrs Poulter cried.

Benny's ordeal lasted, happily for him, but a couple of years, right up to the day that Peter (spoken with tongue firmly pressed against the bottom lip) the school weird kid actually managed to vomit inside his own Wellington boots directly after a swimming lesson. One minute he was boasting how much of the swimming pool he had managed to drink whilst attempting his first ever width of the pool without being rescued, the next both of his boots were brimming with what can only be described as Brown Windsor Soup.

As these were the only footwear he actually owned, Peter (spoken with tongue firmly pressed against the bottom lip) went through his entire life known as "The Boy who once puked in his own shoes", and, at the age of forty - last seen as a low-level civil servant - he probably still is.

So, a hint to any young people who might be reading this, looking for tips in gaining that all-important respec' from your school-mates: Don't puke in your shoes. You may find yourself the subject of a certain amount of dissing.

That is all. Scaryduck: always down with the kids.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Metro. Sexual.

Metro. Sexual.

Greetings Metro readers! And congratulations for finding your way to this web page, as I am led to believe that intermanet reception isn't that hot in the lower reaches of the Bakerloo Line.

And jolly well done, as Metro is a fine, fine paper. Tons better than that London Lite rubbish, for a start, and ten times better than TheLondonPaper for its absorbent qualities in the smallest room in the house.

It's the awards season once again, and it appears that I am up for Metro & Ask's Brit Blog Awards as one of their Top of the Blogs, which may, if I am lucky, result in renewed flurries of groupies beating a path to my door. In which case, once I've let the air out of Tom Reynolds' tyres I will take on any blogger in the known universe for the Best Blog crown. Fair fight, in a darkened cellar, with pickaxes.

There will, naturally, be the usual free beer, money and sex to any of you who actually goes to the Metro site to put in a good word for me*, just to be on the safe side.

And onto business:

For the uninitiated, Thursday on this site is A Special Day - 'Special', in much the same context as 'Special Bus'. On Thursdays, I give you the choice of five of my Tales of Mirth and Woe *cough* Buy the Book *cough*, and you may vote for which one you want to see. Down there, look - click the 'Spicy Brains' link. For this, you get the warm feeling that you have contributed in some small way to Internet History, a feeling that can be best recaptured through the simple process of buying my book.

So, choose, then, from the following stories, which may or may not contain these damn fine extracts:

* Bin: "The strangest thing anybody ever said to me was this - 'I am spearheading a campaign to launch a national radio channel dedicated to 1950s Doo-Wop music. Are you with me?' Before I knew it, we'd been bought out by TalkSport, and for that I can only apologise. Sorry."

* Rubbery: "Sadly", she told me pointing to the tall, distinguished man in the photograph, "the guy in the hat is on his way to New York to bury his mother." "She'd better be dead," I replied, blowing forever my chances of seeing her naked, "or she's in for a bit of a surprise."

* Chunder Bandit: "I'll have you know," she said with an unnecessarily indignant air to her voice, "Those weren't my private gynaecological medical records. They were receipts. Receipts for services rendered."

* Doctors and Nurses: "Despite working in a newsagent, and being able to get a discount on such relish, I chose to drive two miles away on the way home and purchased pornography from a place I have never visited before or will again. And the whole time I had full access to internet porn. I don't know what possessed me."

* Timmy: "I had decided several weeks previously that every day would be a David Bowie day. Unfortunately, when the lady from the County Council's social service division turned up, I was going through a 'Bowie in Berlin' phase, kitted out in a nice just-below-the-knee-length frock with a Nazi armband. That day didn't go particularly well."

One of these quotes, I confess, is an actual exchange which took place on a discussion board I frequent, which made me laugh until a little bit of wee escaped. Can you, oh reader, guess which one it is?

* Free beer, money and sex offer open only to residents of Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, closes 19th October 1968

Also: One of my earliest memories of my sister is of the time she stabbed herself with a fork. She's still doing it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Racy Ducks (anag)

Racy Ducks (anag)

This week, I have been spending far, far too much of my time in the exceedingly sad pursuit of working out anagrams for my name.

This here website is a reasonably good start, but there's nothing like a twisted imagination and a pen-and-paper to find the real meaning behind your existence, for which you can only blame your parents.

I went years knowing that the now deceased Irish comedian Dave Allen was an anagram of "Anal Delve", and have recently discovered that our beloved prime minister goes under the alias "I'm Tory Plan B", but I have gone my entire life neither knowing nor caring of the various permutations afforded by my own name.

So, here we go - loads of screwed up bits of paper and hours of extravagant swearing later, we come up with this little lot.

As you'd expect, and with my pedantry detector turned up to eleven, one hundred per cent accuracy cannot be guaranteed:

The bizarre


The far too descriptive


And the enigmatic


And, of my online name


And the so-near-but-yet-so-far


Funnily enough, if you put the name "BEN ELTON" into the Anagram Server, it comes back with just one reply: "COMPLETE AND UTTER SHOVEL FACED CUNT", which is fair enough if you ask me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On Disappointment

On Disappointment

Last Friday, I found myself in that there London, meeting a nice gentleman in an office in Hammersmith. Arriving far too early, I found on a highly unauthorised tour of the establishment that the company I was visiting shared the building with the top quality public service broadcaster The Poker Channel. Naturally, I had to go in and have a look.

You can imagine my surprise, then, that I found not a hotbed of gambling, debauchery dancing girls and assorted knavery; but an office full of respectable young men and women working away at computers. NOT ONE OF THEM was playing poker, shooting craps or betting with a near neighbour on a pair of flies running up the wall. Talk about a disappointment. I bet the people who work in the Top Trumps factory play Top Trumps ALL THE TIME, and there are penalties for not having the time of your life.

Poker Channel: You're a disgrace.

But then, life is just a dreadful series of disenchantments and disillusionments strung together between brief periods of hope and anticipation.

It's like rushing in from work every evening to watch The Simpsons on Channel 4, but you know full well it's only going to be a badly animated repeat from the first series.

It's like meeting your favourite footballer, only to find they are a complete twunt. You know who you are, Paul Merson.

It's like shelling out a tenner for your favourite band's latest long-player, only to find they've become shit, and the going rate for unwanted copies on Ebay is £0.01. You know who you are, Radiohead and far too many bands I could mention.

My biggest disappointment - now that you're asking - came in the mid 1980s on my return from a rather excellent summer holiday with all my college friends, to discover that I had failed my A-Levels quite spectacularly, and that not even Essex University would have me. I then repeated the same trick exactly a year later, learning the hard way that I am not as clever as I like to think I am, and listening to ropey New Romantic bands is no substitute for actual learning when trying to pass exams.

It has, coupled with the trauma of Ultravox's 1986 album 'U-VOX' (which resulted in the further disappointment of learning that I - nor anyone else for that matter - would never have sex with Debbie Lucas), only taken the best part of twenty years to get over this.

Midge Ure: Ure a bastard.

In this world where even the likes of TV's Nick Knowles are far more successful than you'll ever be, what, then, has been your greatest disappointment? Plz to note that I will personally search out anyone who says 'This blog post' and give them a good, hard punch on the conker.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Short List of Things I Wanted for My Birthday but Didn't Get

A Short List of Things I Wanted for My Birthday but Didn't Get

I am an angry man. I am so angry I can hardly go to the toilet properly, and I have found myself quite unable to iron my own underpants. And for good reason, too.

It's not as if I left my birthday list where people couldn't see it: pages 4-14 in the Dorset Echo don't come cheap, you know. But there you go - the entire world chose to ignore this most auspicious of occasions (eclipsed only by Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il's birthday on the following day), and all I have to my name is a box of 40 PG Tips and a partially completed loyalty card for Claire's Accessories. Kim got his own atomic bomb, 50,000 tons of American fuel oil and all the virgins he can eat. Where's the justice?

Before I plan my awful revenge, here is a short list of things I wanted for my birthday but did't get.

  1. A tomato ketchup bottle in the shape of a tomato
  2. A brown sauce bottle in the shape of a ...err... forget it
  3. Egg
  4. A novelty condiment set in the shape of two pigs doing the sexussss and lucky bingo card with the words "A souvenir of Weymouth" painted across it
  5. Fiz from Coronation Street, lightly oiled*
  6. A mobile ringtone of Jade Goody saying "Shilpa Poppadom" in a fake Indian accent that sounds Welsh
  7. A nice cup of tea and a plate of chocolate digestives
  8. World Peace, and Ben Elton's head on a plate**
It's OK. I am not blaming you, dear reader, for overlooking my day, because you probably had something more important occupying your mind, such as, for example sending a tomato ketchup bottle in the sahpe of a tomato to birthday girl Jane Seymour; or exchanging humourous text messages with birthday boy Matt Groening so he can have a good laugh at his new J. Goody ringtone. I wouldn't blame you in the slightest.

So: you may now confess. What were you going to send me for my birthday, but were unable to because the Royal Mail do not accept live kangaroos?

* As part of a currently secret plan to take over the world
** World peace negotiable

Meanwhile, at Ducknews: It's Political correctness gone mad

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Hole in the Ground

Mirth and Woe: Hole in the Ground

As a youth, I went on many, many school trips. In retrospect, most of these were utterly rubbish, organised-at-the-last-minute efforts which included sojourns outside the school gates standing by the side of the road, counting cars; and a canal trip where somebody had left a lock open overnight, all the water got out and we had to walk.

I also vaguely remember a day out at London Zoo, where several members of our party actually managed to slip away from the main group and spent the afternoon wondering the streets of London. That was second year infants. We were six at the time, and the panicked look on Mrs Burton's face was a joy to behold, and the guilty parties were withheld school milk privileges for the rest of the week.

It was when we were abroad that things really went wrong.

The fools let us loose in Paris, with the merest of adult supervision. With teachers supposedly in loco parentis, it was hardly surprising to learn that they spent their entire time trying to jump into each other's beds. Which was pretty bad for Jim and myself, sharing a room with Mr Douglas an' all that. Most of our evenings, then, as responsible fourteen-year-olds, were spent in the bar next door to the hotel, knocking back beers and trying (badly) to chat up the local hairy-armpitted talent. I was on the bounce-back from failing with Andy Kite's sister, and I admit I hit the bar pretty hard. It hurts even now. Not the rejection - the lump on the side of my head.

During the day, we were carted - with a large packed lunch provided by the kitchens of no less an establishment as the Moulin Rouge naked tart joint - to some Parisian landmark, as our adults sat around smoking.

Take the Thursday of our week in Paris, for example. We were, I am forced to admit, bang out of order. But, God, it was fun:

So, when you're 14 years old and halfway up the Eiffel Tower eating your packed lunch with twenty other teenage idiots, what do you do when you see a Hollywood film crew setting up in the plaza below?

Oranges, hard-boiled eggs, they got the lot.

My years spent at the fringes of the school cricket team throwing like a girl paid off instantly as I scored a direct hit with a pot of yoghurt on a rather flashy hang-glider that was to play a crucial part in the action, causing no end of abuse, and the transferral of blame onto another, entirely innocent party of schoolkids from Germany. Crew-members and cast fled for their trucks, as we fled for the exits.

We refuse to apologise. Condorman was shit.

This fiasco, though, paled into insignificance on our doomed French exchange.

On an exchange trip to France, we were taken to the local leather tannery, which stunk of shit and was littered with bits of dead cow. We were abandoned there for several hours, and I think we were expected to work, or something.

My abiding memory of that descent into hell was, on asking for the toilet, I was ushered to one of those hideous French holes-in-the-ground, where the previous occupant had missed by some considerable distance. The manky fuckers.

The next day, the miserable French girl with whom I was billetted had her old man take me to his place of work. He operated the local sewage works.

There, too, was a hole-in-the-ground toilet, where there lay a huge, reeking French turd, which had presumably been laid the night before. At the very least.

I couldn't get out fast enough, but not before the short, hairy hunchback showed me his pride and joy: a large tank full of crap, the entire output of the village for the last three months. There were possibly even some of mine in there.

*Bowk*, I said, trying to retain any semblance of composure.

But, alas, it was not over. Not by a long shot. You see, they were desperate to get some culture into us English hooligans, and drove us several hours to the south, where we arrived at the ancient walled city of Carcassonne. And indeed, they cultured us up good but the abiding memory is not of the history and architecture, but of a number of bars willing to serve alcohol to fifteen-year-old English tourists, and the further horrors of hole-in-the-ground shitters.

They were, if anything, worse than the tannery and the sewage works put together, and proof indeed that France will never produce a world-class darts player. I thought I was hardened to the things by now, but, caught short, I followed the example of my peers and pissed against the back wheel of the coach.

Mike Holden, though, was not so lucky. He had a turtle's head on, and nothing was going to stop him from taking a fateful dump. Offering him the best support we could without accusations of being a Gaylord, he found the least soiled cubicle (only three misses, and hardly any used bog paper at all), and set to work.

We waited outside for his triumphant return.

There followed, however, a sickening crash and a scream.

As one, half a dozen teenagers crammed into the toilets to witness a scene from Hell itself.

There lay Mike, trousers and pants round his ankles, soaking wet, covered in crap. Most of which, we surmised, was not his own.

"I slipped," he said.

So he had. Caked in shit, piss, and by pulling the flush handle on the way down, completely soaked through. And the smell. There's something about French cuisine that engenders the foulest turds on the planet, and popor old Mikey was covered in them.

"Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaarch!" he said, adding several pints of pissy lager to the stew.


We cleaned him up as best we could, but there was still the problem of a two hour drive back to Mazamet with a reeking schoolboy laid across the back seats of the coach.

"'E eez not gettin' on my bus," said the driver, and frankly he had a point. "Get 'eem some new clothes. Zen 'e gets on."

And that is why the police pulled us over for travelling with a naked boy. A fiasco. An utter fiasco.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Confess-o! Oh!

Confess-o! Oh!

1984: Back in the days when I was a terrible student, surviving on a mere fifteen quid a month (before beer tax), I once stole a packet of rub-down lettering from WH Smiths in Bracknell (value: 35p).

Desperate to avoid any actual revision, I decided that my physics folder desperately needed jazzing up, and the only way I could achieve this was through the addition of "S. Duck, Physics" in solid black lettering.

Loitering around the store that fateful lunchtime, I chose a fine packet of lettering from the crowded stationary department, read all the magazines, thumbed through the records, programmed the display ZX Spectrum with

20 GOTO 10
then fled to enjoy my rubby-down spoils.

And it was worth it, too. I got a Grade E.

Confession is good for the soul, so those boys and girls at the Catholic Church keep telling us.

What you don't know, however, is once you've paid your money and you're sitting in the little confess-o-booth, it's all being channeled back to the Vatican by red-hot altar boys, where the Pope's writing a book of Best Confession Anecdotes so he can go out and buy himself a new slattern.

It's all in his eyes, if you care to look closely. They make him look like the Galactic Emperor from Star Wars, and he had to pay for his slatterns, too, the Dark Side being what it is.

So, confess-me-up instead, and I promise not to blackmail you. Much.

Meanwhile: No vote-o today, because it's my birthday (I am old, if you're asking) and I fully intend to get thoroughly pissed on cheap lager. Hooray for me! *cough*AmazonWishList*cough*

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

On Bad Psychics

On Bad Psychics

The only good ghost is a ...err... yesA couple of years ago, I went to town on these pages on the televisual car crash that is Living TV's Most Haunted. If you've seen it, you'll know what I mean. Television so bad, so contrived, so mind-bendingly dreadful, you can't stop watching it, wondering that there might be the slightest chance that the whole programme might actually be real.

Of course, it is the most awful fakery, and caught off guard, the programme's makers have more or less said as much. The final straw came in a bout of production team handbags, where resident parapsychologist (a job where you can make up any old crap for the interview for all it matters, I should imagine) Ciaran O'Keeffe fed so-called medium Derek Acorah with a load of made-up names of 'ghosts', only for him to become possessed by these fictional spirits on cue, on camera, in a vain attempt to talk dirty to Yvette Fielding. Derek left in a huff shortly after, and Most Haunted, once a guilty pleasure, hasn't been the same since.

Chronicling this little tiff forged a new interest in dodgy psychics, palm readers and spiritualists and set me off in search of how they actually work. I'm particularly interested in the antics of stage psychics, such as the dreaded Acorah, who still packs 'em in at theatres up and down the country, with a fan-base that won't hear a word said against him, or they'll club you with their handbags.

It is fascinating how these shows work, and you will be unsurprised to learn that psychic ability has very little to do with it. Once on stage, the only special talent required is the ability to read a person's character quickly and with reasonable ball-park accuracy, and to think on your feet. When the audience is very much on your side, this is far easier than you'd think.

The preparation for a 'psychic' stage show can start weeks or months before the big night. The name of the game is research, as once the word is out that Derek and Sam are visiting the Theatre Terrible in Deptford, he will be deluged with fan mail from little old ladies, hoping that he'll be in contact with "My Brian who went down in the Atlantic in 1942". Of course, Brian's spirit will oblige, and little old Elsie goes home with a warm feeling, completely forgetting she told the entire story to the man months beforehand.

Secondly, the production company will ask the box office for an audience list, as most theatres ask for names and addresses for promotional purposes. Pull out a few names from the ether, and Bob's your aunt's recently deceased lover the second he asks if there's someone with a certain surname in the house.

And then, of course, there's front of house gossip. There's nothing like sending a few flunkies out into the foyer before the show to earwig on conversations along the lines of "I hope he makes contact with Deirdre. I want to know where her jewellery went." Twenty minutes in, and Deirdre's there, and the ring's hidden in the loft. Bingo.

So: next time you feel the need to go to one of these shows, I urge you to use a bit of reverse psychology and to fuck with their heads. We've got Colin Fry coming to Weymouth in March, and at the risk of being chased out of the Pavilion Theatre by umbrella-wielding grannies, I propose the following:

* Send a bit of fake fan mail a few weeks before the event, telling him about your Brian's hideous spacehopper accident in 1973, which sent him to an early grave, along with the secret of the unique and rare Pink Oboe which has been in the family since great-great uncle Jasper took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade

* Buy some tickets in the name of Sergei Romanov just to see if there's a Russian spook in the house

* Speak loudly in the foyer about Aunt Vera's final illness in the Sudan and the whereabouts of her hollowed-out false leg containing her final will and testament which would end, for once and for all, the family row over the antique medievel erotic woodcuts
And when the spotlight miraculously falls on your seat, pretend you are French and deny all knowledge.

There are only two barriers to my cunning plan. Firstly, and here's the nub - can anyone spare twenty quid for a ticket? And secondly - it's damn near sold out already, leading, obviously, to setback number three: I don't think I could possibly sit in a hall for three hours with the stench of granny wee.

It'll take weeks to get the smell out of my clothes; and, as bad experiences go, it'd be worse than a Daniel O'Donnell concert.

Post Script: This news story made me laugh far more than is actually healthy for a man of my age: York Psychic Museum closes 'due to unforeseen circumstances'

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On Reality TV

On Reality TV

With the sewage outfall that was Celebrity Big Brother Nuremburg Rally Special now fading into hazy memory, it is, I thought, time to re-appraise the phenomenon of celebrity-based TV reality shows.

OK, I'll admit it: I'm all for this kind of programme, and for a very good reason. That reason being that they keep a certain brand of undesirable off the streets an in front of a camera where grown-ups can keep an eye on them. Otherwise, they'd be out harassing tramps with shrieks of "Do you know who I am?" and goosing bored housewives just for the merry hell of it.

My only proviso - and this is the important bit - is that when these shows talk about "sudden death elimination", they really do kill Dr Fox to death for his crimes against entertainment. I'm sure I've read this before somewhere, but it is a concept that will prove how committed to fame these people really are.

The thought of Jade Goody emerging from the Big Brother house, her face contorted like a melted owl as her body is ripped asunder by a hail of bullets fiils me with deep joys, and inspires me to plug a whole slew of celebrity death reality shows to easily impressed TV executives:

* Celebrity Knfie Throwing School
* Celebrity Brain Surgeon
* Celebrity Bomb Disposal Squad
* Celebrity Suicide Bomber (top prize: 42 virgins, or in the case of P.Hilton, her virginity back)
* Celebrity Leopard Juggler
* Celebrity Drugs Mule

And simply because he always manages to escape from these things by dint of being the presenter:

* Dale Winton Presents Celebrity Stove Graham Norton in the Face with a Variety of Large Metal Objects

We're on a roll here. Plz to suggest further Celebrity-tinted tosh.

Monday, February 12, 2007

On having an evil twin called Dave

On having an evil twin called Dave

Dave, recentlyI am often mistaken for other people. Many are the times I have been approached by complete strangers saying things like "Alright, Dave", "Good God man, I haven't seen you since Cambridge!" and, memorably, "Aren't you supposed to be in Switzerland?"

The last one wouldn't have been so bad had it not come from someone I had worked with for five years. I have, then one of those faces. Either that, or I have an evil twin who is called Dave, went to Cambridge and should be in Switzerland by now.

The worst one was when, at the age of fourteen, I was eyeballed by some spotty kid I recognised from the other school in the village, who accused me of stealing his girlfriend, some spotty teen called Monica. Girlfriend? Me? I was saving my loins for my one, true love: the curvaceous Miss Shagwell of the School Biology Department (and latterly, the centre pages of Fiesta magazine), so I damned his eyes and punched him into a hedge.

"You're dead meat Dave!" they shouted after me, as I fled for the relative safety of the butcher's shop, where I was on my weekly errand for two pounds of dog meat. Cracking butcher, that man - right up to the moment the health and safety people caught up with him.

The whole concept of having an evil twin is a bit of a disappointment, though. This is mainly because I thought that I was the evil one. I bet girlfriend-called-Monica-stealing Dave has never shat in a plastic bag, for a start; and I will wager damn good money that no Swiss floozie called Barking Mad Lorelei has demanded that he "Piss on mein tits, bitte!" either. Clearly, I am not working hard enough at the evils, and, thussly, I am open to suggestions as to how I can put one over "Dave" for once and for all.

The Duck recommends

This weekend, I have been mostly proof-reading Confessions of a Chatroom Freak, the forthcoming book by TV's Mr Biffo.

To be perfectly honest, I have had a hard time getting the job done, simply because the book has made me do many, many LOLs. In fact, I LOLed out loud on several occasions, much to the annoyance of people who were trying to watch Emmerdale, who do not appreciate a good, hearty LOL at a crucial moment in what passes for a plot.

Biffston's epic does not come out until May, so why not pre-order it now, forget all about it, and be pleasantly surprised when it plops through your letter box?

Yes. Do it. Do it NOW.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Road Rage

Mirth and Woe: Road Rage

Aye aye baldie!I loved my bike.

Actually, there were loads of bikes, and I loved them all even if they had a nasty habit of getting stolen, sold, or disappearing under the wheels of lorries. In the end, however, my best bike - something chunky and expensive by Specialized - was sold for quite a lot of money that I needed at the time, and has never been replaced, simply because I just don't have the time to get saddled up.

When I did go out on my bike, it has become increasingly clear over recent years that cars are steadily winning the battle on the roads. I've had enough near misses to last a lifetime, especially in Reading, where the council has a huge enthusiasm for bike lanes, but of the type that run out suddenly, leaving the poor bloody rider stranded in the middle of a dual carriageway, surrounded by cars doing 90mph.

Reading is, indeed a traffic hell. The town's entire transport policy appears to revolve around spending its huge roads budget as quickly as possible, mostly on new sets of traffic lights, which often appear, without explanation, overnight. Who can forget the Monday morning when drivers on one of the town's main thoroughfares suddenly came up against a dozen brand new mini roundabouts, with cars popping out of side roads that never existed the previous Friday? It was carnage.

And I used to cycle to work through this madness on a daily basis. No wonder I'm a mentalist.

So, one Saturday afternoon, I found myself cycling through Reading on one of the thoughtfully supplied bike lanes, for an evening shift at work. It had rained heavily that day, but had since brightened up into a rather pleasant Spring afternoon. Cycling in the road was proving difficult due to the large amounts of standing water, so, for once, I was pleased to be on the cycle path, glass-strewn or otherwise.

As I cycled past the Reading Rock Festival site, coming up to the Rivermead Leisure Centre I couldn't help but notice a) the large puddle in the gutter left from the recent shower and b) the open-topped sports car heading towards it with the sole purpose of drenching me head to foot. Red, throbbing, with a vein down the side, clearly a penis substitute for the bald old fella (fifty-going-on-twenty) driving it to impress his bleach blonde of a skanky girlfriend in the passenger seat.

And so it proved to be.

"Glub" I went, as a wall of filthy water reared up and covered me.

"Gotchayoucuuuuunt!" screamed Baldie as his harpy of a girlfriend laughed like the big, ugly stupid she clearly was.

But what little they knew of Reading's traffic woes. Unfortunately for them, within 400 yards they were trapped in the queue for Caversham Bridge - one of the town's more notorious bottle-necks where five approaching lanes of traffic fight for the two lanes on the bridge, with added traffic light woe. And deep joy, as I could see the fearful glances over his shoulder as I caught up with him.

I did nothing. Nothing at all.

Baldie sunk into his seat and wished he was invisible, but the sun shined off his hairless pate like a beacon.

I stopped, dismounted, and still dripping, stared at the dreadful twosome for a few seconds, eventually fixing my gaze on the Harpy.

"Fucking hell, you're ugly."

Mounting up and weaving through the queues of cars, lorries and buses and already heading into the distance, all I could hear were her shrieks of anger.

"Dave! DAVE! If you was a man you'd do something about 'im! DAVE! Kick his fahkin' teef in! DAVE!"

I hid behind Waitrose for an hour, just in case.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

On things I'm not doing any more, because I can't be arsed

On things I'm not doing any more, because I can't be arsed

A short list of things I'm not doing any more, because I can't be arsed:

* Updating the Pengor blog, as there are only so many gags you can do about fish and militant flightless birds as a bizarre allegory on the War Against Terror

* The Done a Poo blog, another bizarre allegory on the War Against Terror, now safely safely in the unwashed hands of Rik and TRT

* The House of Lies, not a bizarre allegory on anything in particular, but biting the dust mainly because - lazy dog that I am - the gags would be better suited to these pages

For example:

According to the 1967 Scud Description Act, a pornographic movie will not receive a certificate from the official censor unless it contains the line "It's so hot in here" in the first scene. Ideally, this will be said by a not unattractive young woman, who will be buck naked within seconds and playing on the pink oboe of her male suitor. Even Eskimo Igloo Orgy III, a classic of the genre, was not exempt.

This lazy streak manifests itself in today's Thursday vote-o, where the Vote-o Quote-os are sourced from all the spare crud left sitting around the House of Lies. Recycling, I think you will agree, at its finest.

Choose, then, tomorrow's story from the following all-too-familiar list:

* Road Rage: Little is known of the Fourth Wise King of the Nativity, King Eric the Forgetful who neglected to turn up at the stable altogether on the most holiest of nights. Which is just as well, as his gift of a toaster and a ten pounds Argos voucher would not have been appreciated by Joseph, who was expecting a set of golf clubs at the very least.

* Hole in the Ground: The Welsh version of the popular gameshow ‘Wheel of Fortune’ features no vowels, but allows contestants to buy an ‘L’ for 500 points. On the other hand, such is the complexity of the language, a typical edition of the Chinese version of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ lasts for 18 hours, and usually ends with one of the contestants dying of exhaustion.

* Bin: A recent US Supreme Court ruling has banned bagpipe music throughout the United States as a “cruel and unusual punishment” as laid out in the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. This overrides a previous ruling which supported the use of bagpipes in local militia forces under the constitutional “right to bear arms”.

* Rubbery: Following his death by suicide in 1994, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain has been consigned to an eternity in hell. Thursdays are particularly bad for the People’s Poet: it’s line-dancing day.

I wouldn't bother voting me up, if I were you. Complete waste of time. (Also a lie)

Slight update, considering the weather:

Yellow snow is a naturally occuring phenomenon, and is perfectly safe to eat.
'Yum', and indeed, 'Om nom nom nom'.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

On Ruining Web 2.0

On Ruining Web 2.0

There goes the neighbourhood. They'll let anybody on the internet these days.

My local rag, the Dorset Echo, now lets readers comment on stories on their website. This is, of course, a well-intentioned idea which sits well with the current "Web 2.0" trend of User Generated Content, and allows the reader direct access to the publication, irrespective of level of education or a certificate of sanity from a reputable medical professional.

But as my poor dead Mum used to say, 'It's all very well until somebody loses an eye'. And people are already beginning to kick the shit out of it. It wasn't even me that started it, for I respect my local journalists, who work for a pittance having to put up with stories of local authors plugging their books, and local wee-tinged grannies pointing at dead seagulls in the gutter.

It sorted of started with the local red-hot issue - the redevelopment of the local theatre and ferry terminal, a nuclear wasteland which some locals, unaccountably hold dear because it has a ballroom. The whole thing needs replacing and one reader going under the name Leslie Crowther - not me, I hasten to add - suggested absolutely anything to fill the space, "even a sixty-storey replica of Ann Widdecombe". Red rag to a bull:

I, for one, would welcome the late Leslie Crowther's suggestion of a five hundred foot Widdy behemoth towering over the town. Just as long as they use one of her feet for the Ocean Room*.

I, alas, chickened out of mentioning the horror that may come from seeing up her skirt.

I can't leave it alone now.

When protestors daubed walls with anti-development griffiti - an act defended by another poster who saw it as the only means of expression young people have these days:

So, so true. Whenever my kids want to tell me something, they write it in foot high letters on the side of my shed, along the back wall and up the side of the house. I do wish they'd stop, but it's the only means of communication they have.

On a charitable scheme to help newly-released criminals by giving them second-hand household goods, which seemed to go down rather badly with the readership:

Is there a going rate or anything? You know:

Burglary = toaster
GBH = Plasma TV
Selling seats in the House of Lords = Mini Metro

We should be told.

I have also suggested that instead of spending a fortune on building the town a new relief road (a plan that has been on the books since before D-Day), the County Council might wish to issue us all with jet packs, powered on the hot air that all the arguing over the route has produced.

And finally, on the hare-brained scheme of running a monorail along Chesil Beach for the Olympics (the South of England's premier kite-surfing venue, the next tallest thing to the West of Chesil being New York):

I look forward to riding a monorail across the causeway when a Force Nine gale's blowing over Chesil Beach. That'll sort the men from the boys.

And: Nothing to do with me, at all.

If I wasn't already leaving, I fear I may be run out of town.

The Ohec has a long way to go before it reaches the heights of lunacy attained by the Surrey Comet, where a story on a local pigeon cull attracted clearly barking comments from all over the globe. Plagued by nutters, the Comet switched their comments off.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: find your own local paper, speak your brains and report back. Synchronize watches, and we're away!

If you feel a tad reticent about spoiling the work of your hardworking local journalists, why not try the Loony Bin or the Nut House. Sure, you'll feel dirty doing it, but the end result is something beautiful.

Well? I want to see you lot running amok through the internet like drunken swan through Sainsburys. NOW!

* The higly contentious municipal ballroom, twinned with Fallujah

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

On asking questions that need to be asked

On asking questions that need to be asked

You should know me by now. I've been writing this website for exactly five years today *cough*AmazonWishList*cough*, and you'll know that I'm never one to dodge the important issues that rule our everyday lives, never one to avoid asking those questions that need to be asked. Stuff that really matters. Especially if they are questions on the subject of bodily functions, but, for once we'll let that go by-the-by today.

Questions such as this one, which has been bugging me for ages:

Does Deirdre Barlow's reptilian neck prove she's a Star Trek alien from Cardassia Prime?

Answer: Yes. Yes it does.

More of this crap coming up in the next five years. Plz to suggest other, worthy questions that I should be answering. Consider it a public service.

Charles Bronson Quote-of-the-Day: "Everybody hated Dave Reece, because he was a grass and a thug who'd turned Queen's Evidence on a prison killing, but I quite like him. He was doing life for killing Brian Smith, the respected armed robber. Dave died in prison a few years ago. God bless you, Dave!"

Hang on - Respected armed robber? I didn't know there was a career path.

Monday, February 05, 2007

On Guilty Pleasures

On Guilty Pleasures

Bronson: Lovely fella. Lovely.On a Monday night, bored out of my mind, I head to the laundrette to wash my smalls. I can either sit there, in my scanties, watching the machine going round, or I can make my own entertainment.

Luckily, and before there were any complaints, I found a book somebody had thoughtfully left lying about: Bronson, the autobiography of Britain's most violent criminal - Micky Peterson, aka Charles Bronson.

Bronson is known as Britain's most violent criminal, a self confessed nutter with a penchant for taking hostages and ripping the roof of any establishment that may be holding him. He has been free for about three weeks of his entire adult life, during which he killed a dog in a bizarre prize-fight and committed a string of armed robberies. Still, it kept him out of the house.

Eventually jailed for life for the kidnapping of a prison officer, Bronson spends his time writing poetry, drawing, and, evidently, writing his life story. No-one would dare tell him it's crap, because your average literary critic might find it hard to write further reviews without the benefit of lungs. You needn't worry too much, because, as his official website is at pains to point out: "He has NEVER killed anyone!" But the briefest of glances of just about any page in his book proves it's not for the want of trying.

Actually, for a guy with virtually no schooling, it's not that bad, even if it reads like a particularly violent version of Eamonn Holmes' particularly awful offering. That is, if you replace the Holmesian "Needless to say I had the last laugh" at the end of any anecdote with Bronson's "I punched an kicked the hell out of him until six screws jumped on top of me". OK, it is that bad, but holds you in its grip, appalled and fascinated in equal measure.

Famous cons come and go through Bronson's tale, most notably the Kray Twins - with Ronnie writing a short intro to the book ("God bless") - and members of the notorious Richardson gang, who are described in the most glowing terms possible, despite the fact they are all doing stir in some of Britain's most secure prisons on account of all them murders they done.

After a couple of hundred pages, though, all the beatings, kidnappings and bouts of remorse all merge into one, and you could, with very little imagination write the rest of the book yourself:

"And then I met Billy 'Chopper' Hughes, who done in his girlfriend with an axe and ate her foot when the balance of his mind was upset. Lovely kid, he respected me, but had a hard time in the secure block. He died a few years ago. God bless him. When I heard, I hit a screw who got in my face, and I ended up in the block at Wandsworth again. When will I learn!!!"

Charles Bronson. Thug. Offically not a lunatic. Jailbird. Waste of my taxes. Myspace star. Lovely chap. Lovely. He had to nail this coffee table to my head, cos I disrespected him by saying that his book, is, in fact, awful. Lovely fella. God bless him.

Coming up next: Mad Frankie Fraser's book. More of the same, I should think. God bless him.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Mirth and Woe - PiSS V: The Final Frontier

Mirth and Woe - PiSS V: The Final Frontier

I was born into the Dark Ages. Some twenty-five years after Adolf Hitler had given up bombing the seven shades of shit out of most of London, I was sent to a school that still resembled one of the capital's many remaining bomb sites. I was never one hundred per cent certain, then, whether the school's toilet block had no roof by design, or if it had actually fallen off many years ago and nobody had quite got round to building a new one.

So, the years I spent at Melcombe Primary School in Hammersmith were years spent at an inner city educational establishment with no roof on the bogs, with all the meteorological woe that came with it. When it froze, you would stick to the toilet seat and never get up again until the first thaw of spring. When it rained, you had to walk out of the main building, across the playground and into the crapper, where the water ran down the back of your neck while you went about your business.

At least, I thought it was water. You could never tell in that place.

You see, some of my classmates were what you might call 'uniquely talented'. Hardly what you might call stars in the classroom, they were world famous in Hammersmith for their ability to urinate extreme distances. This talent manifested itself - on a regular basis - in a superbly juvenile 'Highest Mark on the Wall' contest. It was always a rather academic exercise, because Dave always won.

Dave's dad, like many of the fathers in our school at the time (Fulham Yuppiedom being a good fifteen years away) worked at the Tate and Lyle sugar plant just round the corner. In retrospect, he must have smuggled loads of the stuff out through the main gates, as the boy appeared to be on a permanent sugar rush.

He would storm into the boys' toilets, whip his tackle out and amaze the assembled throng with his performance, say "I win", and leg it back to whichever playground football game would have him. Dave could, much to the astonishment of those of us who possessed less powerful hoses, piss right over the wall and into the girls' facilities next door.

There would invariably be a series of high-pitched screams (for Dave knew the value of spraying it about), then a short delay before the dinner ladies came bursting in mob-handed to mete out back-handed summary punishment on bare thighs, invariably belonging to all the wrong people, the main culprit having fled long, long ago.

It had to end one day, and come a December morning in 1972, I found myself in a strange, new playground in a small village in Berkshire. We had moved house.

Polehampton Junior School was proud of the fact that its toilets came with the added advantage of a roof, which probably sold the whole move-to-the-country idea to my parents, fans of top quality plumbing in educational establishments that they were.

Unfortunately, while this may have been true, this was but a temporary state of affairs, what with the facilities being housed in what can only be described as a Portakabin.

It did not take long for the school jokers and misfits to discover the advantages that this situation provided. For example, one wag found - whilst crawling underneath the temporary building to retrieve a lost football - that the whole bag of bolts had been put together rather inexpertly, and that by lying in exactly the right position, he could see up the skirt of any female that set foot inside the facilities.

It was a position greatly coveted and jealously guarded by the cognoscenti, and would be rented out to anybody who could stump up the cash. It was said that the lovely Mrs Jones wore pink knickers, a rumour borne out by subsequent observations by a crack team of primary school perverts.

Of course, it couldn't last. Somebody was going to kick the shit out of it, and that would mean but one thing: woe.

It was poor, dead Bendle. Poor, dead Bendle, his mind working in ways that normal people's didn't, found a hole in the boys' room. A hole, he found, that he could stick his cock through in a "glory hole" stylee from the end cubicle of the boys into the equivalent cubicle in the girls'. Once in position, he would wee all over whoever had the misfortune to be there at the time.

It was, he thought, a top wheeze; one that never failed to produce the most awful, heart-rending screams, and a female classmate forced to spend the afternoon's lessons in either her PE kit, or worse, something from the pikey's treasure trove - the lost property basket.

Oh yes, it was a right old laugh. A right old laugh until a soaking wet Mrs Jones - her blouse rendered partially see-through from her unimaginable ordeal - told us to stop.

Ogling Mrs Jones's partially see-through blouse (And I know what you're thinking - pink, matching set), we stopped.

But not poor, dead Bendle.

"Hey lads!" shouted poor, dead Bendle on our first swimming lesson of the new term, "There's a hole in the wall! I bet the girls can see my cock RIGHT NOW!"


Yes. Yes they could.

Duck News: Voltan's rocket launch from Sea Base Beta goes horribly wrong.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

On Terrorism and Television

On Terrorism and Television

"It's all copy-cat stuff", says the Boss, commenting on the latest not-made-up-at-all terrorist kidnap-and-execution plot foiled by the security services. "They've seen all the Ken Bigley stuff on the internet, they've seen the Spanish train bombs, and they just go out and try it for themselves. They haven't got a single original idea in their heads, the lazy sods."

Toady that I am, I couldn't agree more, and suggested some sort of militant brain-storm where, if they're going to kill us all to death, they might as well do it with a degree of originality. After all, the IRA once plotted to kidnap Princess Anne and send her back in small parcels to her mum, and now the buggers are just trying to rip them off.

"Terrorist Idol," said the boss, closely followed by the winner: "How do you solve a problem like Osama?"

So, in the same vein as the immensely tasteless Soviet, Nazi, Tourettes and Chinese TV riffs, we ask: What programme would we get if the terrorists took over television?

* Middle East Enders
* Assassination Street
* Waking the Martyred

* The X Fatwa
* My Parents are Infidels
* Harry Hill's TV Burqa

* Imam Ted
* Allah Creatures Great and Small
* Poke Her Face (because she's not wearing a veil)

* Extremist Makeover
* Palestinefeld
* Osama's do 'ave 'em

* Celebrity Fatwa Club
* How clean is your Mosque?
* Terrorist and June

The usual thanks to my fellow sick bastards at the Board of PPL for most of these suggestions, which will probably have me hiding in the same hole in the ground as Salman Rushdie.

Of course, we're not entirely biased against those wacky Islamic terror groups. And to prove it, we're handing the advert break over to the Irish Republican movement, who will do their best to prove they've renounced violence and have moved into dairy farming with their best-selling spread "I Can't Believe It's Not the Real IRA".

On that bloody awful pun, suggest-me-do.

No Thursday vote-o this week. Stallone's got yet another Rocky sequel out, so it's high time I did PiSS V: The Final Frontier. You lucky people.