Saturday, November 29, 2008

On Christmas Round Robin letters again again

On Christmas Round Robin letters again again

A quick addition to Thursday's none-more-smug Christmas Round Robin letter, after a specially sharpened leaflet fell out of my copy of the Radio Times* and sliced my foot in twain.

We hope you don't mind if we don't send a present this year, as it's so hard to find something suitable in this day and age. Instead, we've bought goats for the village in Bangladesh where Tabitha did her voluntary work during her gap year. In return, they had a vote, and made me their king. Which was nice.
Warning: The value of smugness may go down as well as up.

* Other listings magazines are available, but they're shit

Friday, November 28, 2008

Neither mirth nor woe, but essentially true although possibly containing traces of fiction: Night Time

Neither mirth nor woe, but essentially true although possibly containing traces of fiction: Night Time

9.15pm.

On the dot, somewhere in nineteen ninety-something.

I stride into the control room at our luxuriously-appointed headquarters and take over from Cameron, who had been in charge of the throbbing console area for the best part of twelve hours.

Sitting in front of a bank of TV monitors and receiving equipment, I'd be spending the night making sure that our particular arm of The World's Greatest News Organisation continues to be The World's Greatest News Organisation.

"Nothing to report," says Cameron, "Except they've got one of these new-fangled PCs in the News Agency department".

"Right. I might go and look at it later."

"They've left some games on it, so I'm told."

The new technology.

We were, finally, moving from a clunking great mainframe system and were slowly but surely rolling out a PC-driven production network. Less than ten years earlier, mind, we had been on typewriters, and when the news editors spiked an item, it really did end up on a big nail in the newsroom.

So. 9.15pm.

Only twelve hours to go.

The first hour would be spent organising the video and audio recordings for the following day, making sure the right thing got onto the right tape.

In these days of satellite and internet broadcasting, it is easy to forget that not so very long ago, news got around the world on scratchy shortwave radio signals. It still does, by and large, but the modern listener and viewer is spoiled by the simplicity of it all. Back then, fishing a radio signal out of the ether was an art. These days, it's an art still practiced by bearded men in sheds and whole populations for whom television and internet is unaffordable luxury.

Still, nine hours to go, and the 'old media' forerunner of this site needs tending:

"Dear Fiesta, You won't believe the incredible thing that happened to me the other day..."
Eight hours and fifty to go.

"Dear Escort, I didn't think I had a chance with the divorcee next door, but I couldn't believe my eyes when..."
And, of course, the real paydirt:

"Dear Special Interest Monthly, There I was, rubbing linseed oil into my harness, when who should knock on my door but former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher looking all hot and flustered..."
And then it is 4.25am.

I turn the page in the log and the familiar instruction glares back at me:

"0425 – BAKHTAR 12145kHz CW RX4"

Yes, that's gibberish to you. To we highly-trained control room operators, that is the cue to walk down to the Haunted News Agency Section at the other end of the building, tune a radio receiver and wait for the state-owned Afghanistan news agency to begin its morning transmission, which would spill out from a printer that may or may not still be switched on.

A glow comes from Haunted News Agency Section.

A glow that could well be some poor, dead console operator, KILLED TO DEATH in the line of duty, ready to pounce and eat my spicy brains.

I hold my breath, make the sign of the cross, and leap through the door.

"MWAAAAAAAAAAARGH!" screams the ghoul.

"MWAAAAAAAAAAARGH!" I reply, before realising it is, in fact, Cameron picking himself up off the floor.

"Now see what you've done," he eventually says, bags evident under his eyes as he basks in the glow of the PC screen, I've lost again."

"Wait... what?"

"Just ... one ... more ... game."

Exactly seven hours and ten minutes earlier, Cameron had discovered Tetris. Or, it might have been the other way around.

"Go home, mate. You're relieving me in five hours."

"Yeah, sure. Just as soon as I finish this level."

And back to the grind, and only one more trip down the haunted corridor OF DOOM before they pour me out of the building, one 15p Luncheon Voucher the richer.

"0900 – TANJUG 12212.5 kHz RX2", or to you, the Yugoslav state news agency it all its steam-powered radio telegraphic goodness.

"MWAAAAAAAAAAARGH!"

"One more go. I'll beat this bastard if it kills me."

"See you in twelve hours, guy. I'm off home."

"What... What time is it?" he gibbers, looking more dead than alive.

Twelve hours later, a day and a half after leaving the bosom of his family - who had to be informed that he was not dead in a ditch somewhere – he fled the building, and seeing multi-coloured blocks raining down from the heavens upon him, was immediately sick in a hedge.

Moral: Remember to take your screen break

TEH END (or is it?)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On Christmas round-robin letters again

On Christmas round-robin letters again

Oh, spoons - it's that time of year yet again. That time of year when those really organised people in your life send you a Christmas card. An expensive Christmas card with a not-entirely-discreet charity logo on the back, and that dreaded, neatly folded piece of paper that falls into your lap. The round robin letter.

Having electronic EXCELLENCE at my fingertips, I can't be bothered to send one of these crimes against taste to my neither-nearest-nor-dearest. I just stick it on the internet as a warning to others. Seeing as last year's effort went down rather well, I expect you'll like to know what we at Duck Mansions* have been up to in 2008...

In fact, you may wish to cut-and-paste this into your annual family Christmas message. Just change the names and - boosh! - instant smugness. It'll save sending a card. In fact, it'll save having to talk to anybody at all over the Furtive Season. Let me know how you get on.

Duck Family Newsletter 2008!!

Dear [Insert name here]!!

Whew! What a breath-taking year it's been for all of us!! Once again, we've been busy, busy, busy, and we've hardly got the time to put pen to paper!!

Once again, I've been able to flex my muscles, and despite turning forty-two this year, my four gold medals from Beijing were the talk of the front AND back pages of all the papers! They said it couldn't be done, but I managed separate golds in rowing, cycling, AND the 100m races both in the pool and on the track. The world records were a nice bonus, too, and Her Majesty was SO graceful as she handed over the CBE.

Next time, she told me, it'll be a knighthood. So I gave her a wink and said "Same time, next year, then!" and we both laughed and laughed and made a joke about the poor lollipop ladies and footballers who only get an MBE. Keep it to yourself - this kind of thing is supposed to be hush-hush!!!

The whole thing didn't quite go to plan, as those pesky Russians tried to spoil it for me by invading Georgia, knowing FULL WELL that my peacekeeping efforts would be compromised by my efforts for Queen and Country in Beijing. Little did Vladimir Putin know that my charming wife drives just as hard a bargain, something he only found out as her cock-punch unerringly found his groin, ensuring an early Russian surrender.

Our friends in Washington were so impressed by her diplomacy that they cancelled last month's election, and appointed her as President of the United States, for life. How she's going to balance that with in her Am-Dram with Kenneth Branagh, her career as a neuro-surgeon AND running a busy home is anybody's guess!!

In the meantime, Scaryduckling has taken her GCSEs two years early, and used her new-found skills to solve the world financial crisis, by making everybody give all the money back - a solution which somehow eluded the so-called finest brains of our civilisation, and forced Alistair Darling to go on television to admit he is the King of the Gits. All this while embarking in a major stadium tour of Europe, supported by Radiohead AND a reformed Beatles!!

The lad Scaryduck Junior's also gone from strength to strength, wresting golf's Ryder Cup away from those uptight American wallahs, and posting a record-breaking round of 18 in the Open Championship. All the prize money's going to come in handy as he designs and builds the Space Shuttle replacement for NASA. He'll get his homework done as soon as he and his genetically-modified monkey butler come down from orbit!!

And as for Lucy Minogue, our darling little King Charles Cavalier – she pulled out of Crufts this year – which she has won three years in a row – in a much publicised spat over alleged cruelty in dog shows. It was her own decision, and we back her fully over her well-aimed cock-punch on the boss of the Kennel Club. We laughed and laughed!! We didn't miss the prize money, though, as she was clever enough to strike oil in our back garden whilst burying a bone – rolling back the global price of oil and solving the UK's financial woes into the bargain. Good dog!!

PHEW!!! That's just about it from us. Hope you had a good year, too. Though, frankly, we couldn't give a monkey's chuff.

Blissfully yours,

Lord S Duck of Smugsville OBE CBE VC (and bar) KFC Ph.D

* No, really. We've got a mansion each. We really are quite unbearably smug

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On watching TV and going straight to Hell

On watching TV and going straight to Hell

It's not often that I write about something that I've seen on television. This is mainly because I don't watch that much TV, and when I do it comes with the two-hour prologue of soap opera that tends to dull the senses, leading to an evening of big laughs as we cruise the shopping channels.

However, in Special Needs Pets last week, the 'Blog Fodder' bells were ringing in my head before we even got to the first advert break.

The programme was, all said and done, a testament to the love that owners will show to their pets when they fall ill, are disabled, or become too old to live a normal, happy life.

Touching, even.

And not to be laughed at. At all.

Not even the rabbit in a wheelchair. Or the cat that had to be squeezed like bagpipes to get it to go to the toilet. Or the dog that looks so much like Fred Elliot from Coronation Street that the owners have to fend off autograph hunters.

None of these.

It was, I am sad to report, the parrot on Prozac.

God, it was tragic.

A tragic tale of one bird pining for its poor, dead owner who was only in his comfy armchair because he'd been nailed there.

From "Who's a pretty boy?" to "Stone the crows, what's the bloody point?", mooching round the house listening to Leonard Cohen albums.

I LOLed.

I LOLed, fully aware that I am going to Hell.

I got a dirty look from The Keeper of the Sky Plus Box and the pointed question: "Well? What's so funny?"

I gestured toward the screen, desperately trying to form words in the face of Emo Parrot shouting expletives down the phone at the nice lady from the Samaritans, yet none would come.

"Who's a pretty boy?"

"You're going to Hell, you are."

And the obligatory "Beautiful plumage", which she didn't get.

By way of penance, I shall be driving a carload of ducks with RSI south for the winter. Orange sauce supplies notwithstanding, they may even get there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On prayer

On prayer

Oh Lordy.

The God-botherers of Weymouth have struck again.

I return to my car following an afternoon waiting in the man-seats at New Look, Marks and Spencer, Debenhams and various emporia with the word "Shoe" in their name, to find a leaflet under my windscreen wiper.

On most occasions ,it is a flyer informing the reader of the Tuesday market up on Portland, a veritable where-are-they-now of former satellite TV pitchmen, still selling their miracle cleaning products from damp, faded boxes at a substantial mark-down.

This time it is different.

A pair of hands, together in prayer.

Bless.

And the words, all in hideous red-on-yellow: "Driver in Front"

"Don't waste time in your car! Do something useful!!!" says the blurb committing at least one deadly sin against the commandments of grammar in the process.

"Pray for the driver in front, that he and his passengers may fulfil they journey and arrive home safely."

Of course, the value of prayer may go down as well as up, although I refuse to offer up any kindly thoughts to taxis, prossie-killing truckers and anyone behind the wheel of a Nissan Micra.

But, all the same, I beat down my world-weary cynicism with my stolen copy of 'The Teachings of Buddha' and thought I'd give it a go. Nothing to lose, and far cheaper than a Dashboard Jesus.

Hands together.

Eyes shut.

Purge all thoughts of ladies' bosoms from my mind.

"Our Father, who art..."

...Straight up the arse end of some old duffer in a Rover 75.

Luckily, he said it was all his fault, blinded as he was by the Heavenly Host coming down Boot Hill* for a late shop at Asda.

That's one car you owe me, Jebus.

* There really is a Boot Hill in Weymouth. Sadly, it doesn't lead to a cemetery, but more than makes up for this by spitting you out at The Boot Public House, proof that if there is a god, it is surely Bacchus.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On Christmas cheer

On Christmas cheer

This year at Christmas, we've decided – for a change – not to have a Secret Santa.

Instead, and planning ahead for the Furtive Season, we're having an office Secret Satan.

It's exactly the same as a Secret Santa, except, after the traditional drawing of names, you leave a steaming turd in your chosen colleague's desk drawer and they have to work out – using their skill and judgment – from whom it comes.

An activity, you will be pleased to hear, that is guaranteed to break the ice at the office party. You'll soon be drunkenly throwing each other down the fire escape in scat-induced rage. And laughing about it, should you survive.

The challenge for the gift-giver, of course, lies in nipping off a length during the lunch break without being detected by your unwitting colleagues as they sup up their pre-Christmas cheer in the White Horse over the road. Slap a label saying "Do not open until Christmas LOL" on the drawer, retire to a safe distance and Robert's your aunt's live-in lover.

As usual: Extra marks for style, control, damage and aggression.

Yeah, I know. There's this list, and he's checkin' it twice. See if I care.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Neither mirth nor woe: Friday morning

Neither mirth nor woe: Friday morning

Friday morning. Any Friday morning, in fact.

We drive past the house, and noting the lack of a parking space, spend the next twenty minutes getting further and further away, until, finally, we find somewhere to leave the car several hundred yards from our target.

We step out into the chill of the day, and finding our bearings in this unfamiliar part of town, strike out for the house. Past a school, from where the sound of Away in a Manger played on a badly-tuned piano emanates, despite being only November, soon drowned by the roar of the main road.

We look up at the house, its fa├žade obscured by a bus shelter which by night doubles as a urinal and a place to park half-digested takeaways, its once pristine frontage blackened with the years of road grime.

A hedge filled with something equally terrible and a front garden given over to dustbins, street litter and a pile of rags that may or may not be a dead tramp.

We meet him there, his suit shinier than his shoes, his smile like a hyena, hair cut by his mum, although he tells his colleagues – for he has no real friends - it's by a boutique where you have to book several weeks in advance. We note he has managed to find a parking space outside the house, for the Devil looks after his own.

He says something insincere to us, but it is, in the main, lost to the sound of forty tons of truck thundering by. I nod, pretending to hear him, knowing full well this is a fool's errand.

Then, he produces a key, unlocks the front door – once a rich, glossy green, now peeling and smeared with grey – and we step inside. In the bare hallway, the traffic is louder than on the street. White walls, tiled floor, stair rods holding down an ancient carpet that leads up to the flat we have come to inspect, the sound echoes about us, never ceasing.

At the top of the stairs is another door. It is clearly the cheapest possible from a local hardware depot, screwed into place as a property developer split a once-proud town house into shoebox-sized flats. Screwed to the door are the second-cheapest numbers from a local hardware store. 273B.

The door swings inwards to reveal a room barely big enough for the three of us to stand. Against one wall rests a bicycle which doubles as a hat stand. On the opposite wall, an open door betrays a bathroom featuring a tiny suite once clearly the property of an infants school. You could touch all four walls with your morning glory.

Despite the constant earthquake rumble of the road outside, the man drew us into the world inside his mind, that cheese-eating, I-want-to-kick-you-in-the-head grin still on his face.

"And this," said the estate agent referring to his crib sheet of lies as we struggle for breathing space, "is the dining room."

"Like fuck, it is."

Another wasted morning, for we didn't buy the flat.

Living in SIN would have to wait.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On correcting design flaws

On correcting design flaws

Dolmio's SPECIAL white sauceI couldn't help noticing the recent news story of an Australian gentleman caught pleasuring himself with a jar of pasta sauce. An Australian gentleman not only pleasuring himself with a jar of pasta sauce, but in the presence of a Jack Russell terrier.

Won't anybody, I ask, think of the puppies?

Yes, I know what you're thinking. The bloody fool. Doesn't he know the real sweet, sweet lovin' comes from a jar of medium strength Uncle Ben's Stir-in Chilli Sauce?

In fact, working in the news business as I do, rarely a day passes without some story of some fellow caught sticking his Johnson where no right-thinking member of society should and refusing to stop when the law turns up with their batons, pepper spray and tasers.

And there, I believe, there lies the design fault inherent in the penis.

The pecker, you see, spends most of its time doing nothing. Whilst coming with two uses, neither of these takes more than a few minutes a day (unless you are supremely skilled, in which case I recommend a job in the circus), so it spends much of its time just sitting there.

Waiting.

Plotting.

It gets bored.

And, like a cider-fuelled teenage hoodie, it does stuff. Stuff with jars of pasta sauce and homemade hand shandy devices.

Next time you hear about some bunch of numpties trying to get Creationism taught in schools, point out the example of the human hampton to them, and challenge them - on the 100% irrefutable evidence provided – to prove that this is the work of an Intelligent Designer.

If only there was a third use, such as a built-in FM radio, because anything can be improved with an FM radio. Then we'd all have rhythm.

Time to act like the deity of your choice. Your wang-improvement suggestions, please.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On bird-spotting

On bird-spotting

Tit. Window."'Ere, Duck, take a look at this," says my esteemed pal 'Spikes' Walker, summoning me over to where he is reading a well-known adult-oriented publication.

No, not that sort of adult-oriented publication.

It is a copy of this month's Viz Comic, opened to the latest update to Roger's Profanisaurus, the dictionary of filth.

"This one..." says the Swiss Toni-alike, pointing.

And I read:

Tit window: The opportunity, in any conversation or meeting with a young lady, to stare at her breasts whilst she is distracted by other matters. An art form that can be both challenging and rewarding.
"You disgust me," I reply, not disgusted in the slightest.

Disgusted I might have been, but Spikes has a habit of putting things into my head that refuse to leave. I cannot, for example, look at a pillow without unnatural thoughts forcing me to go and jump in the fish pond until the affected parts are soothed.

And that, I am sad to say, is exactly what happened this very weekend. A weekend where I spent an evening discussing the implications of the recent fall in the Bank of England's base lending rate with my charming wife, in the light of forthcoming changes in business terms with our current mortgage lender.

"So, according to this letter from the bank," she says, well on top of financial matters as usual, "Despite our lock-in period ending, we'll still be better off than new business customers who will be paying at least... WHAT are you doing?"

Alas, my new way of life compels me to speak with complete honesty.

"Tit window."

"And what, pray, is that?"

I tell her.

"You've been talking to Spikes Walker again, haven't you?"

"Yes. Yes I have."

"You disgust me. And when you see Spikes, tell him he disgusts me as well. And to think I had him as such a charming gentleman."

I agree, and apologise for my unacceptable behaviour, which would, in all honestly, have me flayed alive and fed to the lezzers in any council office in this once-proud Kingdom. But still...

"HEY! Look over there!"

"Stop it. NOW."

Sometimes I disgust even myself.

Edit: I am told there is a genuine tit window at this location.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On political correctness gone mad, on acid

On political correctness gone mad, on acid

The meeting reached a crisis point as we struggled with delivering a product in the face of unwelcoming technology.

"So," says the boss, scanning the row of tense faces, "how are we going to achieve this? Smoke and Mirrors?"

"I'm afraid not," I say, rifling through a pile of papers on the conference table before settling on one particular sheet, headlined in large, urgent-looking words.

"Oh for the love of crikey – what is it now?"

"It's that memo from Health and Safety. The list of words we're not allowed to use in meetings."

"The brainstorming one, you mean?"

"Shhh..." I say, glancing at the shocked faces of colleagues across the table, "You don't know who could be listening. Thought showers, boss. Thought showers."

I lay the memo on the table for all to see. "List of words, phrases and sayings that may be discriminatory to minority groups", the large, urgent-looking words read.

About a third of the way down, in jaunty Comic Sans – the typeface of the mentally challenged – my finger rests against the offending words:

"Smoke and Mirrors – May be discriminatory toward asthmatics and vampires."

"Riiiight... And what does this work of genius suggest instead?"

"Ventolin and Non-reflective surfaces."

"OK," says the boss, barely fazed by this temporary and lunatic set-back, "Ventolin and Non-reflective surfaces it is, then. Just to make sure we're all singing from the same hymn sheet."

"Ah. Sorry, that one's out as well. In fact, the document suggests that no-one speaks at all, as ALL language will be invariably offensive to at least one minority group."

"Cock. In which case," he says, veins sticking out on his forehead in a way that suggests P45s are imminent, "I WILL PERSONALLY KILL THE NEXT MAN WHO SPEAKS."

"Or womyn."

The meeting came to an abrupt end at that point.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Condensed Films: The Omen

Condensed Films: The Omen

The scariest film in the world, starring Gregory Peck, Chancellor Gorkon out of Star Trek and Ronnie and Reggie Kray's mum in the original version - guaranteed to make you SICK WITH TERROR. All reduced down to about 800 finely-crafted words in the language of today's easily-bored Saw-obsessed youth for your safety and convenience.

If you are not SICK WITH TERROR, please apply to the usual address for a full refund.

TEH OMEN

American Ambassador: Hello. I am teh American Ambassador to London, and I am excellent. Here, have a Ferrero Rocher. Arse, I appear to have blown my brains out and killed myself TO DETH

G. Pecker: Now I am teh American Ambassador to London, and I am even more excellent that the last guy, LOL. Here, have a Ferrero Rocher Om nom nom

Mrs Ambassador: Oh, look. I have dropped a sprog

Evil satanic nuns: Yoinks! We've done the old switcheroo and now they have TEH SON OF STAN... err... SANTA... err... SATAN. LOLOLOLOLevilLOLOL

G. Peck: We shall call him Dave. Dave Satan, LOL

Mrs Ambassador: I like the sound of Damian, because that's not at all satanic

G. Peck: Dave Satan it is, then. Have a Ferrero Rocher

Dave Satan's nice, angelic nanny: ONOZ! I have been possessed by TEH DEVIL and have killed myself TO DETH

Dave Satan's evil, satanic nanny: Nothing to do with me, guv

G. Peck: You're hired. Have a Ferrero Rocher. It is curs-ed

Dave Satan's evil, satanic nanny: Curs-ed F. Rocher is FULL OF WIN

Chancellor Gorkon out of Star Trek: Hello, I am one of Britain's finest character actors and I am excellent. May I be the first to point out that your son is evil – EVIL!

G. Peck: Die in a fire, you dreadful cnt. No tasty Ferrero Rocher hazelnut-and-chocklit goodness for you, FFS

Teh 2nd Doctor Who: He's right you know. He is TEH DEVIL INCARNATE, and now I am going to hang around Bishop's Park in Fulham until I am killed TO DETH, just to prove it

Some time later

Teh 2nd Doctor Who: Any minute now, eh readers?

Some more time later

Teh 2nd Doctor Who: Ouch. Completely arse-to-tit

Mrs Ambassador: Also, the little shit's just kicked me down the stairs, FFS

Dave Satan's evil, satanic nanny: LOLOLOLOL

D. Satan: I LOled. I LOLed out loud

Teh 2nd Doctor Who: See? Evil? And can somebody get this flag pole out of my arse? It hurts to buggery, FFS

G. Peck: OK, you might have a point. Ferrero Rocher, anyone? Nom nom nom

C. Gorkon: I could have been in the diplomatic corps, you know, but for the nut allergy. Brings me out all lumpy, for it is FULL of FAIL

G. Pecker: LOL. Also - On nom nom nom

C. Gorkon: Also, the hospital where D Satan was born is completely destroyed. All who were in it are TEH DED, and people who ask too many pointed questions end up wearing their vital organs inside-out, ROFL

G. Peck: Even teh evil satanic nuns?

C. Gorkon: Peeled, dipped in salt and eaten lightly fried in a delicate parsley sauce by starving lesbians

G. Peck: No need to labour the point. *boilk* Right inna Ferrero Rocher-flavour hedge

Mrs Ambassador: ONOZ, To cap it all, I have fallen out of the hospital window. TO DETH. Damn you Dave Satan!

D. Satan: LOL

C. Gorkon: I have dug up this handy grave to find D Satan's real mother. How handy

G. Peck: So, she's a dog. A DED dog. Ken Dodd's dad's dog. Which is DED. And remember kids: Don't give chocklit to dogs, it's poisonous. Not even those wonderful, wonderful F. Rochers

C. Gorkon: Now you must kill not-your-son D Satan TO DETH with these handy, sacred knifes from the Field of Armageddon before we are eaten TO DETH by rabid, evil hell hounds. Yours for just three easy payments to the Franklin Mint

Rabid, evil hell hounds: RARF bitey bitey RAAARF. Tasty G. Peck Om nom nom

G. Peck: RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

C. Gorkon: Actually, it's ARM-A-GEDDON out of here, LOL

G. Peck: I cannot kill D Satan, cos he's FAMLEE. I hope your head falls off, or something, ROFL

C. Gorkon: ONOZ! My hed has fallen off and gone bouncy bouncy bouncy down the street. FAIL

G. Peck: LOL. Oh wait... Now I suppose I've got to kill D Satan TO DETH now

Dave Satan's evil, satanic nanny: And what time do you call this? FFS

G. Peck: It's killin' D Satan's evil, satanic nanny TO DETH time, LOL

Dave Satan's evil, satanic nanny: Not the face, plz. I've still got to do TEH KRAYS.

G. Peck: Oh, if you insist, FFS

Dave Satan's evil, satanic nanny: Gloik! DETH by F. Rocher, nice touch

G. Peck: Now to kill D Satan TO DETH

D Satan: ONOZ! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!

D Satan Sr: Oh, FFS. Kids, eh? Sending some of my best mad shooty police bastards right now

Mad shooty police bastards: Shooty shooty bang bang bang! We love being mad shooty bastards, best job in the world, LOL

G. Peck: Oh COCK, I am TEH DED and D SATAN stalks TEH EARTH

D Satan: Nice one lads

Mad shooty police bastards: No probs, kid. See you at Stockwell Tube

D Satan: Little bit of politics, like it

Mad shooty police bastards: Watch your lip, boy, or I'll... Oh, my head has fallen off. FAIL

D Satan: Now to take over the world, or something. LOLOLevilLOLOLOL

TEH END. Or is it? (Answer: No)

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

On woe, and the lack thereof

On woe, and the lack thereof

This week marks the point – almost seven years after I starting writing this blog – that I find myself out of ideas for a Friday Mirth and Woe story.

This means that Fridays will not necessarily be Mirth and Woe day anymore. Mirth and Woe may appear, if I am moved to write something, but I'd rather maintain the quality rather than knock off any old tripe, or even >gulp< resort to fiction.

I'm surprised I lasted this long, to be honest. But teh Duck blog will continue.

One thing I may do – if there is the demand – is to rewrite and tighten up some of the old stories with added sick inna hedge, 130% more gags and 27% more typos.

Whatever happens, I'll try to keep something special (that's SPECIAL special, not 'Special Bus' special) for the end of the week, as there are still plenty of condensed films, Pepys diaries &c still to be had.

And breathe out...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On copyright

On copyright

It has come to my attention that somebody has been copying TEH FUNNAY from these pages and passing my work off as their own elsewhere on the internet.

Stop it, you cunt.

And now, some music.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mirth and Woe: "Ye Gods!"

Mirth and Woe: "Ye Gods!"

For one roller-coaster year of my life, I worked in the headquarters of a large motor parts company.

Things were going pretty badly for them as their main competitor went from strength-to-strength, leaving us floundering in their wake. Such was the rot, one of our outlets once reported a single sale in an entire week, when it should have been tens of thousands of pounds worth.

And carrying the can for this mess was Jerry the financial director, who was roundly blamed by many for paying more attention to chasing skirt rather than doing things that companies do to stay afloat, such as selling stuff.

"Ye Gods!" said Frank, whose role in the company was never quite made clear, "We're for the chop now."

Thankfully, neither myself nor Frank - who was a heavy-set man with spectacular facial hair, who liked to say "Ye Gods!" a lot - were sacked. Me for the reason that despite being the office Pimply-Faced Youth, I was one of only two people who knew how to operate the computer system; and Frank because he had the dirt on anybody of any consequence in the company.

As the sole survivor of The Great Disc Crash of 1986, which saw shards of ceramic computer disc still embedded in crucial parts of the air conditioning, I was to stay. Singled out as the only man with the financial clout to save the business, so was Frank, who had endured months of humiliation at the hands of Jerry.

There were tears, however, as half of the girls in the accounts department were culled, for there was simply not the work for them to do. Posts were trimmed throughout the company. And then the bombshell.

"And after fifteen years of service," said the MD, "I'm sad to say that Jerry will be leaving us."

"Ye Gods!"

The old man's face hardened. The room seemed to grow darker, the MD appeared to grow by several feet, while Jerry shrunk back into a corner as the finger of blame finally found its target: "Leaving us with immediate effect".

So, after he left the company's offices for the last time - given all of two minutes' notice - I drew the short straw to clear out his desk and arrange to have personal items sent to his home. Let's see:

* Nine-inch 'Monster Kong' vibrator and several packs of AA batteries

* A large quantity of specialist gentlemen's leisure magazines, most with the word "Rubber" or "Latex" in the title

* Several items of soiled lingerie which were clearly not in his size

* The empty packing of a device called "The Intruder". Of The Intruder, there was no sign

* Half a bottle of whiskey

* His 'Little Black Book' containing brief details of every female in the building ("Julia, document archive: Bad tempered, great arse. 6 out of 10.")

* A series of polaroid photographs of both Jerry and numerous young ladies in various states of shiny undress, posed almost entirely across the huge table in the company boardroom

I could barely contain myself. I had to show somebody, and all I could see was Vera, ("Vera, office cleaner. Husband works away, randy as hell, MASSIVE tits") but that option would probably have seen me killed TO DEATH.

I gathered my spoils to my bosom, legged it down the corridor and dumped it all on Frank's desk, as he joyfully prepared to move into his new role, viz: saving our arses.

"Look what I found in Jerry's desk!"

"Ye Gods!"

Then, a pause as he examined the booty, then: "Ye Gods!"

Then: "Ye Gods! What do they see in him? He's uglier than me!"

"If you'd care to study this picture, I think they see that he is hung like a rhino."

"YE GODS!"

We stuck it in a cardboard box and discussed what - if anything - we should do. Sadly the company didn't have a black museum, so we decided that honesty was to be the best policy.

"Scary," Frank said, a heart-warming look of a man of principle on his face, "Make sure this box finds its way back to the bosom of his family."

The evil bastard.

That Tuesday afternoon, knowing Jerry was down the Red Lion drowning his sorrows and/or eyeing up the barmaid with an eye to trying her out in something black and shiny, I drove the Box to his house in my Austin Allegro, rang the doorbell and fled.

In the rear-view mirror, I saw his harridan of a wife - who had made the Christmas Party a living Hell by managing to vomit on most of those attending like a scene from The Exorcist - open the door, see the box, and pick it up.

I dare say there was another Exorcist scene seconds later, but I was already far, far down the road.

"How'd it go?" Frank asked, as I finally showed my face back at the office.

I told him.

"Ye Gods!", which, I think, is Frank-ese for "I love it when a plan comes together".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On Countdown

On Countdown

"Durr dur de-durr-durr
De-dum de-dum a diddly-dum
Pooooooo!"
"And how many letters?"

"Five."

"Five? FIVE? I've got seven."

Worse, Scaryduckling has eight, making me look like some sort of illiterate baboon.

It's no good. I'm rubbish at Countdown.

Give me a jumble of vowels and consonants, I am completely unable to piece them together into a word of any length, and instead spend the thirty given seconds trying to go for the double word score allotted to swears.

Frankly, if the programme was all about the numbers game, I'd clear up, earning the admiration of a lightly-oiled Carol Vorderman into the bargain, while an equally lightly-oiled Susie Dent gloats in the background. But then, any woman who sits next to Gyles Brandreth – the man who put the 'dick' into Dictionary Corner – loses style marks all over the place that no amount of cunning linguistics could replace. Shiny rubber dress or no.

"Let's hear it, then."

"GLOPE"

"Glope?"

"G L O P E. Glope."

"And what's that, then?"

"It's a five-letter word."

"Meaning?"

"It's what you get when you stand too near to somebody on the Tokyo Metro."

"Oh."

"My name's Jim Davidson, I'm here all week."

"You're an idiot."

Yes. Yes, I know.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On awful company names

On awful company names

Trapped in a traffic jam on the way back from the Ice Cave the other morning, I found myself stuck behind a van.

"R & P Engineering" is said in white-on-green lettering.

After five minutes or so sitting and staring at these words, and moving barely 100 yards, a dreadful truth dawned on me.

"You! Yes, you! Your awful, awful company name spells out RAPE."

This is, on the whole, not a good thing, and clearly no laughing matter. In the present air of seething disgust that has seeped into every corner of our nation, I was on the phone to the Daily Mail within seconds to register my disapproval.

They told me to piss off.

What, indeed, a bunch of See You Next Tuesdays.

Minutes later, the veins still sticking out on my forehead like a map of the Central Line, I turn the corner to find myself behind a second van: B.J. Champion.

I didn't even realise there WAS a competition to find the world's greatest Pink Oboe players, let a lone a man prepared to drive around, bragging about it.

Having failed to get my own company registered as Alistair's Really Special Engineering, I ask, then, what other company names spell out something totally inappropriate?

I doff my hat to Del Boy and Rodney for their inspired Trotters Independent Trading and suggest:

* Peter Andre Entertainment Diversity Organisation

* Japanese Interactive Scientific Machinery

* Terry Wogan's Acrylic Ties

* North Orkney Retail Kitten Sales

I'm too lazy to think of anything better. You do it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On cut-price airlines

On cut-price airlines

Don't you just hate the way these budget airlines try to screw every last penny out of you?

"Thank you for flying QuEasyJet, and welcome to our service to within two hundred miles of Milan. If you would like a seat for this flight, deckchairs are still available from any member of the flight crew.

"Please pay close attention to the safety demonstration. Safety instructions can also be found on the information card, which is available for five pounds from flight attendants.

"In case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will be released from the space above your head. Please place the mask over your face, insert two pounds to start the flow of oxygen, and breathe normally. It is against company policy to allow two or more people to share an oxygen mask, and appropriate measures will be taken against transgressors.

"Should the aircraft ditch in water, please swipe your credit card on the reader mounted on the back of your seat to release your life jacket. There is a charge of 50p for each go on the escape slide.

"Please note that there is no smoking permitted on this aircraft, except in the smoking area that comprises rows 15 to 20. There is a smokers' surcharge of twenty pounds payable, and, for your convenience, passengers may only smoke our own brand QuEasyTabs, priced at a pound each.

"Today's captain is Gladys Bonkers of Pontypridd who has paid five hundred notes for the privilege of having a go at landing a plane on this, her 85th birthday. Gift vouchers are available.

We will be landing in Milan in approximately two hours, and connecting flights to Milan's actual airport are available at an extra supplement if you prefer not to take the three-hour taxi ride to the city centre."

Bugger that, I'll walk.

Monday, November 10, 2008

On The Stig

On The Stig

"Dad", says the boy Scaryduck Junior as another wave of inneffectual Manchester United attackers bear down on Manuel Almunia's goal.

"Not now son," I say. The lad's never quite grasped this whole football-watching thing, and his sense of timing also needs some work.

"But..." he continues, as the Arsenal's northern foes get a goal back in the 90th minute, sparking another ten of what is scientifically known as 'squeaky bum time'. "But... I know who The Stig is"

"Who?"

"The Stig. From Top Gear."

I humour him, for the memory of the recent T*tt*nh*m collapse - where, such are the standards we set ourselves, a spectacular 4-4 draw can only be seen as a crushing defeat - is still fresh in my mind, and my boot is poised to go through yet another TV screen: "Oh, go on then. Who is it?"

"Joe Pasquale."

"What? WHAT?"

I've spent the previous ninety minutes in a blissful Arsenal bubble. Nerves and a lack of beer money led me to eschew the comforts of The Old Castle for my favourite armchair, SKY Sports and all the cheesy Doritos in the world.

And how I have been rewarded. Banished are the recent nightmares of the Spuds and Stoke City. Instead, a superb team performance that sees off The Forces of Darkness.

And, at the end of all this, the true identity of The Stig.

Joe Pasquale. Everybody's favourite helium-voiced, middle-of-the-road comedian.

"So, what you're telling me lad, is that Joe Pasquale - a man not entirely known for his driving skills - is, in fact, the greatest racing driver in the world?"

"Yes. Yes I am. Think about it, Dad. You never hear him speak, do you? If I were Pasquale, I'd keep my mouth shut too if I had a top gig like that."

You've got to admit, the boy's got a point. You never see them in the same room, do you?

And now it's on the internet, it is OFFICIAL and rules out other, well-known candidates:

* Dawn French
* Baroness Thatcher
* Ken Lee
* Basil Brush

Go on, tell me: Who's NOT The Stig?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Mirth and Woe: On mental teachers

Mirth and Woe: On mental teachers

Zombie Asquith (no relation)I had the very good fortune to run into two former inmates of my old secondary school on the forums at b3ta.com this week. In fact, one of the pair was one of the more excellent fellow pupils at the establishment, and was the subject of one of the original Tales of Mirth and Woe on these very pages.

And what do pupils of any school do when they get back together again? They discuss the weird teachers. This is not difficult, because any student of this site will confirm that all of my teachers were completely barking mad. Mr Prince excepted. And possibly Miss Shagwell.

One or two, however, transcended madness, and lived in the rolling vistas of complete insanity where few men fear to tread.

Take, for example, Herbert Henry Asquith*.

Not the Liberal Prime Minister of Great War years, but a man who could easily be passed off as the stunt double for The Edge out of U2. If The Edge took to dressing up like a 1970s porn actor.

Mr Asquith was an art teacher (what else?) who never actually managed to teach us art, his lessons being long, monotone monologues on anything that happened to be on his mind. And such was the ease he could be nudged off topic, you could steer him to virtually any subject you desired.

"Sir? Have you ever painted a nude?" seemed to be a popular topic, especially when coupled with "And sir? What's the best way to draw breasts?"

Sadly, within two minutes, any instruction on the skills required to paint top-drawer norkery would be side-tracked and would segue in a ten-minute monologue of the rising price of fruit and the minute detail of his bicycle ride into work.

And, Lord, he loved his bike.

He was a militant cyclist, and rode a sizeable round trip every day to talk complete bollocks to his pupils.

And as much as he loved his bike, he hated the man who ran the bike shop in the village.

In fact, I'd go as far as saying he had a bizarre feud going on with the bloke who ran the bike shop in the village, and would often send pupils down to the shop on a letter-running errand.

"Duck," he droned to me one afternoon, "You've got a reasonably good bicycle. Take this message down to the bike shop. Be sure to wait for a reply."

I waited until I got out of the school gates before unfolding the piece of paper. There, written in Asquith's unmistakable copper-plate handwriting were the words "You're a bastard".

I took it to Hairy Peter in the village.

"It's from Mr Asquith," I said, handing him the note.

Hairy Peter – as bald as an egg and the living spit of Stirling Moss – wiped his oily hands on the front of his once-white overalls, took the note and read it with a grunt.

"Wait here," he said, and disappeared into his workshop, where the sound of drawers opening and closing could be heard, followed by a muffled scream and the word "BUGGER!"

He emerged, minutes later, nursing a bruised thumb and holding an oil-stained scrap of paper. On it was scrawled the words "Up yours".

Dutifully, I returned it to Asquith's clutches.

"So, he's going to be like that, then?" he said at length (Sooooo... Heeeeeee's...Gooooingggg...), before reaching into his desk drawer for a sheet of his most expensive vellum paper.

"F", he wrote in his best pen-and-ink, the art of calligraphy learned down the years, culminating in this very moment in his life. "U"... "C"...

...And the school bell went and I was saved.

Shortly after that I volunteered for Home Economics on the strength that was teacher was a lesbian who might teach me a thing or two. She did. CAKE.

* Name changed to protect the guilty Prime Minister


News that is only important to old people: Holy donkey poop!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Condensed Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

Condensed Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

This is all the fault of The Internet's Cliff Jones.

"What S. Duck needs to do", he said in a recent I Am Livid podcast, "is condensed Shakespeare. It would be full of WIN."

So, after going out against my will and having to read some actual works of the Bard, here it is.

Rmo & Jlt by W. Shkspr

Chorus: Two houses
Hate each others guts
And want to stick a sword
Up each others butts
A pair of star-crssd lovers
In this age of Elizabeth
Will obviously end up
Totally kill'd TO DETH

Rmo: Hello. I am Rmo, and I am EXCELLENT. Wait...what? I get killed TO DETH?

Chorus: No ...err... nothing. Just a pome what I wrote. Nothing

Mrcutio: U R a Gaylord LOL

Tblt: U R a Gaylord LOLOLOL

Mrcutio: U R a Gaylord times INFINITY, no returns. There may also be some thumb-biting

Tblt: You UTTER bummer

TEH PRINCE OF VERONA: Stop this fighting, or I will have you all KILLED TO DETH

Mrcutio: Yes boss. Plz to not kill us all TO DETH, I have a party tonight in which I hope to get Rmo laid

Tblt: You fckng arselicker

TEH PRINCE OF VERONA: God, I love being TEH PRINCE OF FCKNG VERONA. Best job in the world

Jlt: Hello, I am Juliet and I am EXCELLENT. I am also thirteen years old and therefore jailbait

Rmo: A hub a hub a hub a hub a hub hub

Mrcutio: Dude, she's thirteen

Rmo: Yeah, I'm the leader of the gang, I am

Tblt: Heh. Time to gatecrash this party, LOL

Rmo: Oh, fck off

Jlt: Oh, he's SO dishy

Rmo: Bllcks to this, I'm off to sit below this handy balcony. But sft! Wht lght frm yndr wndw brks?

Jlt: Rmo Rmo WTF art thou Rmo?

Rmo: Here 4 am I art LOL

Jlt: Oh, you is so lush

Rmo: A hub a hub a hub a hub hub

Father Lawrence: Dude, she's thirteen

Rmo: But I wuv her and want to marry her. For her mind, like

Jlt: Is married like getting a new pony?

Rmo: Yes. Yes it is

Jlt: Hooray!

Father Lawrence: Hey, I'm Catholic. We've been doing this for centuries

Rmo: Cheers, priest dood. Owe you one

Tblt: Rmo, you gr8 Gaylord, I challenge you to a fight, LOL

Rmo: Fck off, FFS, or I'll cut you wiv my flicky, innit

Mrcutio: No worries Rmo. I shall fight him for you. Oh. That hurts

Rmo: I dare say he's killed you TO DETH

Mrcutio: A plg on bth yr hses!

Rmo: A what?

Mercutio: A fkng plg. Oh cock, I am TEH DED, you know

Tblt: LOL. Oh Rmo has also killed me TO DETH

Rmo: I am FULL of WIN, LOLOLOLOL

TEH PRINCE OF VERONA: Now I'm pissed off. Rmo, you are so DED. Also, dude, she's thirteen

Jlt: You think that's bad. I've got to marry the creepy Paris dude – despite being only thirteen – and I am already married to Rmo. Despite being only thirteen. It's worse than Take a Break round here.

Nursie: Never mind, bunnykins, a nice bit of nursie's milky-wilky will do you good. Wait while I pop one out

Jlt: I wish I was TEH DED so I won't have to marry ANYONE, and daddy might get me a new pony. Now that's an idea, LOLOL

Apocthrert ...err... Apocerather ...err... Chemist: Here is some POISON that probably won't kill you TO DETH

Jlt: Hot piss, what cld possibly go wrong? Ub glub glub glub

Rmo: ONOZ! Jlt is TEH DED!

Jlt: ONOZ! I have woken up and Rmo is TEH DED! I'll just have to kill myself TO DETH again

Teh Montagus: Now that our dearest children are TEH DED we have seen the error of our ways. We should celebrate the joining of our families in this tragic hour with a slap-up McDonalds blow out

Teh Crapulets: You cnt, it's Burger King or nothing

TEH PRINCE OF VERONA: The pair of silly gits are now up the shitter
Because, dude, she was thirteen and he liked Gary Glitter
And never has there been such a Tale of Mirth and Woe
As that daft bint Jlt and that pervy twunt Rmo

Next day's Verona Daily Mail headline: KNIFE CRIME TOFF IN PAEDO SUICIDE PACT

Digg my article

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On not taking more than one bottle into the shower

On not taking more than one bottle into the shower

OK, I admit it. I AM as tight as a duck's chuff.

Somebody left 5p in the vending machine? Mine. All mine.

If it's 4.20pm, you can see me at cheapskates' parade in the local supermarket buying up all the out-of-date killer yoghurts at 10p a pop.

My current toothbrush cost 13p. That's 13p for a pack of two, and it hardly has any Chinese lead paint in it, at all.

Too mean to pay out on shampoo, shower gel and – God forbid – hair conditioner, I keep a small bottle, which I top up from any bathroom that I might be passing. The resultant mix is currently a pinky-grey with little white blobs floating about.

A recent stay in a top-class Premier Inn somewhere on the South Coast of England filled my bottle to the brim with their wall-mounted Dove shower goo dispenser.

I would point out at this point that I draw the line at 50p-per-fifty-gallon-drum handwash much loved by office and motorway service washrooms. It's not that they don't work, it's the pink rash on the delicate parts. Come to think of it, that might be something to do with the toothpaste.

If I'm really clever, and visit enough bathrooms, I can fill up DOZENS of these bottles with all-in-one cleaning jism and sell them on from a market stall somewhere in south-east London. This time next year, Rodders...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

On Mr Gaiman's latest work

On Mr Gaiman's latest work

Thud.

The sound of an Amazon parcel landing on my desk. It contains a copy of The Graveyard Book by author, Hollywood mogul, greatest living Englishman and dispenser of invaluable shaving advice Neil Gaiman, a gift from one of my loyal readers.

Declaring immediately my interest in matters, viz: my months of pestering the charming Mr Gaiman until he wrote the foreword to my not-quite bestseller, it falls to me to drop everything (a pedestrian re-reading of Mr Tom Baker's hard-to-find autobiography) and give it some sort of unbiased review.

Nope. Sorry. Can't do it. I've come over all fanboy instead.

Neil (I can call you Neil, can't I?) has the gift of storytelling. He can write equally well for children and adults; and better still, he produces children's books which adults actually want to read.

This, a homage to Kipling's Jungle book – only with more dead people and fewer talking bears – Gaiman's series of interlinked short stories tells the story of the orphan Nobody Owens, brought up – as a result of stabby consequence – in a graveyard by its metabolically challenged residents.

Each chapter sees the boy Bod another year older, discovering more secrets of the world in which he lives, before a reckoning with the murderous man Jack. Other reviews use the words "charming" and "bittersweet", and who am I to argue? Top-notch illustrations, designed, I am sure, to creep the hell out of the kids.

I find half my brain shouting "Kids' book! Kids' book!" as I turn the pages, while the younger, more sensible half is replying "Who cares?" as Gaiman blurs the boundaries between adult and junior literature rather more effectively – and five hundred pages shorter - than the forced chumminess of a JK Rowling doorstop.

Available at all good bookstores, quite a few rubbish ones and probably not at all in your local branch of Blacks Camping Equipment. Alternatively, if you're feeling lazy and/or tight, you can just sit back and let Mr Gaiman read the whole thing to you.

"So", I hear you ask, "How does Mr Fanboy Duck rate this? What's the damage?"

I cast my prejudices aside like a fading soap star abandons her clothing, and get out my best rating stick. Ranking this on the Scaryduckworth-Lewis Method of Rating Things for Excellence, The Graveyard Book comes in at a highly impressive:

18/20: Billie Piper riding a space-hopper down a cobbled street

High praise, indeed.

And you can put that in the blurb for the paperback, Mr HarperCollins.

(And, also, Mr Gaiman, into the episode of Doctor Who you're not writing)

Monday, November 03, 2008

On BLASPHEMY

On BLASPHEMY

This weekend, for reasons far too complicated to explain, I found myself in the back rooms of a local church. Taking a peek in the refrigerator, to see if I could find a splash of milk to go with my plastic cup of scout hut tea, I found that our local zombie worshipers keep no less than SIX tins of squirty cream.

As a noted BLASPHEMER, who has in the past personally made Baby Jesus cry on several occasions, I ask this pertinent question: For what reason does a church need six tins of squirty cream?

Not being any great shakes with religious symbolism, I am nonetheless aware of the fact that certain branches of the faith regard the communion wafer to be – quite literally – the body of poor, dead-yet-not-dead-because-he's-excellent Jesus, while the wine becomes his blood, spilled on the cross at the time of His passion.

The communion wafers at this particular branch of the faith, one can only assume, must be the best on the planet, although the symbolism as to what the squirty cream could represent is lost on me.

The Coming of the Lord = The Wrong Answer = BLASPHEMY.

I expect He just has great birthday parties.