Monday, September 29, 2003

“To The Death”

The Joe Dolce Shaddap You Face Memorial Award for the worst ever musical act is now closed. The votes (all 22445 of them) have been counted by the same company that did the US presidentail election, and now a result can be declared. There was only one way to sort the men from the boys, the crap from the crapper - full-on gladiatorial combat. Live on TV. Sponsored by Nescafe.

Prime Time...

The two men faced each other across the arena, sizing each other up, weapons at the ready. It had been a long, hellish week and only two survived, their faces smeared with blood and sweat, their once fine clothes reduced to little but rags. They had been taken from their homes at night, and found themselves in this place - sixteen of the world’s best known musical talents - and told to fight to the death. They thought it was a prank, but then they saw the crude weapons, the guards and the cattle prods, they knew it was deadly serious.

From a world where the hardest decisions of the day were what to wear and who to bring home at night, they now had to decide who to trust, who to betray, who to spare, who to kill. No servants, no cooks, no cleaners, no fawning company men. Just the sixteen of them, a barely visible crowd baying for blood behind the TV lights and a leather-clad Davina MacColl, whipping up a frenzy. She had been the first to die, and now Ant and Dec watched action replays from behind a plexi-glass screen.

Madonna and Manilow were the first to be dragged, limp and lifeless from the arena. Their bodies a bloody mess as the rest ganged up on them with surprising ferocity, Madge's pleas of "I'm not a singer! I'm an author! I'm an author!" falling on deaf ears. The alliance didn’t last for long, however. The crowd roared their approval as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s head was removed from his body. No more would the Phantom sing, as Shania Twain, Craig David, David Hasselhof and a cowering Mick Hucknell followed in quick succession, an unlikely band of fighters seeking out the weak and despatching them with ease. Mariah Carey, shrieking to the last. Ronan Keating, bludgeoned to death with a bar stool. The crowd roared, TV ratings went through the roof.

And so the magnificent seven remained. They had fought shoulder-to-shoulder, lived together in their cramped holding cells, talked about what they’d do “if they got out of here”, knowing full well that only one would make the long, final walk to freedom. They knew, the next day, they would be forced to turn on each other, betray their friends. Kill or be killed.

It was a long, bloody fight. Michael Bolton fought like a dervish, but in vain, and the Amazonian Cher hacked away at her attackers until she too succumbed. And with the crowd chanting “Die! Die! Dido! Die”, the survivors duly obliged.

And so battered and bruised, Cliff Richard’s flaming sword saw off the banshee Celine Dion, before he too was felled by a treacherous blow from behind, and just the two stood, face-to-face. Only one would walk away.

Robbie Williams. Tatooed. Cocky, Suave. A trickle of blood from his mouth.

Phil Collins. Veteran. Versatile. Ducker-and diver. Tired, bruised, but a survivor.

The nodded in recognition. The crowd went silent.

They fought. Blow followed blow. Collin’s broadsword, parrying Williams’ mighty club. Williams replying with a crunching boot to the groin. They rolled in the dirt. They screamed. They wailed. And Williams (6503 votes) fell, lifeless.

There could be only one.

All Hail Phil Collins (10008 votes), for his name is Gladiator.

The mighty. The world’s most annoying - the world’s most deadly musical star. He ascended the dais to receive his prize. His freedom. His adoring fans.

One way ticket to Uranus. The crowd roared their approval.

“And now!” shouted Ant. Or Dec. Who can tell? “To play us out, singing Unchained Melody .... Pop Idol Gareth Gates!”

They didn’t even make it to the stage door.

Edit: Well put me in a frock and call me Mandy! I forgot I had this - Phil Collins talks Nonce Sense on the infamous Brass Eye special. It's moments like that which make life worthwhile.

"Best British Bloggage"

Things are happening on the 2003 competition. Good things. Secret Squirrel things. I'll get back to you. *Taps side of nose in a knowing manner*

And speaking of dodgy popularity contests, the duck has prevailed in the Scary vs Greenfairy rumble over at Zed's place. And I only had to pimp myself on three bulletin boards.

The Scaryduck Archive

Sunday, September 28, 2003

“Scaryduck’s ‘Did You Know...?’ No. 352”

Recent scientific research has proved the existence of a taxi driver gene which genetically pre-disposes people to become taxi drivers, go out and buy a beaded seat cover, grow a fat backside and completely forget the street map of the town they have lived in for their entire lives. Examples of behaviour directly attributed to the taxi gene (all experienced by this Scaryduck Corporation researcher in various locations) are:

* Not knowing the location of the largest hotel in town, despite it being a thirty story behemoth with flashing neon sign on the roof visible for miles around (Tokyo)

* Possessing a car with only two speeds: stop and ninety miles per hour, with a radio turned up as loud as possible to drown out the screams of the passengers (Nicosia)

* Mistaking a large building site complete with cement mixers, bastard great holes in the ground and 200 hairy-arsed builders for the Sheraton hotel (Amman)

* An affinity for advanced mathematics, where the number displayed on the meter is a mere fraction of the actual fare. (Everywhere)

* Becoming “matey” with your fare, engaging them in conversation whilst driving three times round the one-way system (Winchester)

* Suddenly developing a bad back as soon as they see the size of your suitcase, instantly cured by the sight of US Dollars (Lagos)

* An irrational fear of the huge-tentacled creatures and brain-eating zombies that reside “Sarf of the River” (London)

* Mistaking the request “Take me to the Hotel Manhattan” for “Take me on a guided tour of the city until the meter shows five figures”. (Seoul)

My research continues. Can I go home now?

"Papa's got a brand new shit bag"

Yadda yadda yadda, only one day left to vote in The Joe Dolce Shaddap You Face Memorial Music Award.

The Scaryduck Archive

Saturday, September 27, 2003

“Death Disco”

The first of our minipolls this week in the Joe Dolce Music Awards. This one’s for one-hit wonders, novelty acts and performers that fall into the so-bad-they’re good category. In short - wedding disco music, and what a sorry lot they are.

* Keith Harris and Orville: One man and his fluffy duck. What’s wrong with that, then?
* Europe: The Fiiiiii-nal Countdooooooown! No. Fuck off.
* Fast Food Rockers: Just when you thought they couldn’t get any worse, some bloke dressed up as a dog comes on. And it gets worse. Sold by the shedload this summer.

*E Male: Cloned boyband. They wore rollerskates. Not even managed the status of one hit wonders, but as the worst of a bad lot, they deserve a thorough kicking.
* St Winifrid’s School Choir: Our school would have had ‘em any day, the big bunch of girls.
* Terry “Seasons in the Sun” Jacks: “We had joy, we had fun, flicking bogies at the sun”

* Cheeky Girls: Go away and only come back when you’ve grown a) talent b) breasts
* Blazin’ Squad: The non-threatening gangsta rappers that your parents warned you about. A truly flawed concept - a bunch of spotty erks trying to look “hard” and “street”, but singing icky little ballads for eight-year-old girls. High comedy, to be sure.
* Linkin Park/Limp Bizkit/Wheatus: And all the other kiddie skateboard rock clones. And Avril Lavigne, who must die. Horribly.

* Alice Deejay: And by extension anything that’s “Ibiza”, “Ayia Napa” or just “bangin’”
* Rene and Renata: I went to school with some kid who bought the UK rights to “Save Your Love”, which now brings him a reasonable income thanks to the number of times it appears on “shit songs” collections. The jammy bastard.
* Black Lace: Never made a penny out of their most annoying songs after they were ripped off by their management. Good.

* William Shatner: It’s. LUCY! And. She’s. IN! The. Sky. With. DIAMONDS!
* Village People: Wedding Disco Gold.
* B-52s: Exist only to play at wedding discos. “Love Shack” is now banned under the Geneva Convention.

I’m not having a vote here, just speak your brains on this one in the Speak Your Brains section and a winner will be declared pretty sharpish. And don’t forget the main poll is still open. Vote-o!, and while you're in the voting mood, there's still work to be done in the Scary vs Green Fairy penalty shootout.

"Non-PC quiz of the Day"

How Pikey are you?

I don't normally link to these online quiz thingies, but I am disturbed to find that I'm bang to rights with thirty out of forty. However, I prefer to use the term "council" - just ask my kids Keanu and Kylie-Marie. In mitigation: we still get the Radio Times, but only because I get it for free.

“Let’s laugh at foreign people!”

No.1: Arcelik

“With an endorsement of $961 million, Arcelik is one of the top ten appliance producers in Europe.”

In the words of Finbarr Saunders: Kyak-kyak, fnarr fnarr, hoot! And while we're on the subject of Viz Comic, it is now worth buying again with another sublime episode of the Drunken Bakers, perhaps the finest comic strip about rat-arsed doughboys ever created.

"Tea News"

In a world full of war, death, doom, destruction and horror, Nicey reports on the issue that really matters: the evil of tea vending machines.


I just realised that it has been exactly one year since The Guardian Award thingie, and no sight of a 2003 competition to relieve me of my slightly tarnished crown. Still, it has been a rather marvellous year, and a big thank you to you all for the 170,000 or so hits I've had in that time (even though about 160,000 of then have been me refreshing the page).

Sod it, without The Guardian holding a best British Bloggage this year, anyone fancy running one instead? Your comments on this please, and yes, I'm serious about it. Edit: Wild says The Grauniard are still considering a 2003 competition. I'll get back to you.

Err... Happy birthday Dad. Don't sink the boat.

The Scaryduck Archive

Friday, September 26, 2003


Neil Gaiman is a national treasure, and should be kept safely in a box somewhere, where he can emerge periodically to offer us more of his wonderfully imaginative writing. I would advise you to go out RIGHT NOW, even if it's the middle of the night, and buy up his entire collection of works. Twice, just to make sure. Then, do not eat and sleep until you have read every last word. Your life will be all the better for it, I promise you (apart from the bit about dropping dead through starvation and exhaustion, but hey, nobody's perfect).

For the full scenic tour of the art of the short story, I thoroughly recommend Smoke and Mirrors. It was the second story in this collection, "Chivalry", in which an old lady finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop; and another in which a character not unlike Jonathan Ross is complicit in the mysterious disapperance of an eminent biologist during a circus performance, that sent me on a chain of thought that ended with this here short story what I wrote in which the end of the world is accidentally brought about by B-List celebrities. It is called...


The end of the world will be televised. The viewing figures, however, will be shocking.

“And now on BBC1 a change of programming. Instead of the episode of EastEnders as advertised in most TV listing publications, we shall now be bringing you live coverage from the front line at the Battle of Megiddo, where we join our chief news correspondant Kate Adie embedded with the forces of good in their battle against the armies of darkness. Then at nine-thirty, classic comedy with Only Fools and Horses.”

"The end of the world. He’d give them Armageddon alright. Armageddon with drapes, cushions and Medium Density Fibreboard. Andy had better get ready with his nailgun - somebody was going to get crucified."

Clicky coo: “Excuse me - is this the right place for the end of the world?”

Mr Gaiman has nothing to worry about.


I've been dragged, kicking and screaming into a popularity contest by Zoe My-Boyfriend-Is-A-Twat, where I am to face off - mano-a-womano - with the rather wonderful Greenfairy. All I can say on the subject is this: Vote for me. ME! ME! ME! I'm brilliant and skill, and GF smells of poop. Free beer, money and sex for every vote! Or just vote for her, even. I don't care. Much. Honestly.

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

Still plenty of time to vote for painful genital torture for Phil Collins. Hint, and indeed, hint.

The Scaryduck Archive

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

“Top Tips for Bloggers”

Call me bitter and twisted if you like, but I’m not at all pissed off that when Netguide asked the World’s Best Bloggers for their tips on writing, they never asked me. Now I’ve finished stamping round the room and have quite got over sticking pins into an effigy of Fraser, here’s my advice to the would-be blogger. Follow these simple guidelines, and you too, like me will be a world famous squillionaire webmaster, beating nubile young ladies away with a shitty stick.

* The correct pronunciation of the word “blog” is “blodge”, a shortened form of the term “web lodge”, quite literally a home page where you will spend your entire, sad little existance! Use this knowledge wisely - you are a “blodger” and proud.

* Treat your blodge as your home. Put down a big comedy mat at the front door with “Oh No! Not You Again!” on it, and set a large dog on anyone who dares cross the threshold.

* Always, always wRiTe lIkE tHiS, and dont WoRRy aBoUT tha SpELnG or pUnCtUaTioN for ThAt mAttEr - yr punters will love you 4 yr grip of l33t speak

* Update your blodge no more than once a week, if at all. Readers hate having to take in too much information, so keep it to the point. The perfect blog will have just the one entry saying “tEsT”

* Stuck for content? Why not have one of those Which [insert TV series] character/colour/mythical beast/convicted felon/sex aid are you? quizzes. The more the merrier. We love ‘em. Honest.

* Your boss, workmates, family and friends will be thrilled if you write about them, the more outrageous the better. Everybody wants to be a star, and the tale of your company’s managing director touching up a donkey is a guaranteed path to promotion. Remember - all publicity is good publicity!

* Kittens, and lots of them.

* For small-to-medium laughs, why not go to and click randomly on the “10 most recently published blogs” links, refreshing the page every now and then for another slice of red hot blodge action, which isn't crap in any way at all.

Follow these simple steps, and you too will be an internet star. Sad, lonely and friendless, but just watch that hit counter rocket!

* Don't forget to take part in The Joe Dolce Shaddap You Face Memorial Music Award!

The Scaryduck Archive

Monday, September 22, 2003

“Can’t Stop the Music”

Blummin’ hell’s teeth. I didn’t realise that so many of you shared my curse of crap music. But then, I’m probably not the only one force-fed a diet of face-less commercial radio, risk-free music television, and a music insdustry too shit scared to take any risks. This one produced so many comments, I printed them all out - all forty pages of them and separated the nominations into mainstream pap, wedding disco music, one-hit wonders and a miscellaneous so-bad-it’s-good pile. And I still can’t get the Birdie Song out of my head, and now that I’ve mentioned it, neither can you.

So, what I’m going to do is hold a main poll for the worst act ever, plus a mini-poll for the wedding disco acts. No use getting the here-today-not-quiite-gone-tomorrow shit mixed up with those whose careers have been a never-ending cavalcade of shitness. Even the great Joe Dolce had the sense to take his pile and run after keeping “Vienna” from the top spot, and thankfully he’s remained under a rock in Australia ever since, probably living off the royalties if he’s got any sense.

So, here we go with the Big Boys (and girls). If you can’t see the act you nominated (or Oasis), there’s a fair-to-middling chance they’ll appear later in the week. The nominations for the Joe Dolce Shaddap You Face Memorial Music Award are:

Cher: Teetering on the edge of the Wedding Disco category, words cannot describe the sheer awfulness of her musical career. From “I’ve got you Babe” to that vocodered arse, the world would be a better place if she had taken up skiing rather than the late, lamented Sonny Bono.
Madonna: Over a twenty year career, I’ll grant her two decent tunes. Get your clothes on love, and get out.
Andrew Lloyd Webber: They gave him a seat in the House of Lords to make him go away. He didn’t.
David Hasselhof: Just read the reviews of his work on amazon. All totally genuine - I should know, I wrote one!

Mariah Carey: Why, in God’s name, why? I’m hoping for the day her breasts decide to go solo.
Sir Cliff Richard: A favourite on Popbitch, there are stories about him that could have you doing stir at Her Majesty’s Pleasure if you ever repeat them
Celine Dion: Looks like a horse. Sounds like a banshee.
Michael Bolton: The day I found “Timeless: The Classics” in my brother’s CD collection was the day I started telling everybody I was adopted

Phil Collins: Dressed in a roll-necked sweater would look like the penis that he really is. Inflicted my worst ever gig on me as part of Genesis for which he is still under sentence of death.
Shania Twain: “Man, I feel like a woman”. And that would be the only time I’d pay to see her perform.
WestlifeBoyzoneTakeThatBlue: Let’s face it, they’re the same band. You never see them in the same place at the same time. FACT!
Barry Manilow: Deserves death by Bulunga just for “Bermuda Triangle”

Craig David: Just for being continually photographed wearing a Benny Hat
Dido: Music for smug bastards who think they like music
Simply Red: Mick. Hucknall. Must. Die.
Robbie Williams: The utter, utter, utter TWUNT!

This lot to be whittled down to a final two next week, and this will be followed by a fight to the death. No, really. Gladitorial combat will be the only way to sort this thing out. Shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange if I can get ITV interested. Reality TV, that’s where it’s at these days. You know the form by now: vote hard, vote often! But most of all: Vote-o!

* Poll now closed *

The Scaryduck Archive

Sunday, September 21, 2003


Let us consider Rainbow George Weiss. George, if I may be over-familiar with his first name, stood in the recent Brent East by-election under the banner of the XAT party. For all his well-intentioned ideas about changing the world (though this does include, I should warn you, a website covered in butterflies and little balls chasing after your cursor), George polled a whole eleven votes on Thursday. Eleven. Think about that number. Legs Eleven. Onze. Elf. Undici. Once. Ten plus one.

Ten plus one. In English election law, you must secure signatures of ten eligable citizens who reside in the constituency in which you are standing for office. Presumably, these ten people will vote for you on polling day, and if you’ve got an ounce of sense in your head, you’ll remember to get off your backside and vote for yourself. That’s eleven votes in the bag without even having to try. Which brings us back to Rainbow George Weiss and his eleven votes. George mate, you can blame voter apathy all you like, or problems getting your message of a society freed from the evils of money across to the good people of Brent, but face the facts: no bugger voted for you.

Back, as they say, to the drawing board. A little lighter on the butterflies next time, I think.

"Bad Movies Poll III: The Return"

Jonathan Ross is running a bad movie poll on the BBC's Film 2003 show. What's the blummin' point? We all know that, after our own long and exhaustive search, the worst movie ever made is Apocalypse Now, don't we readers? The people have already spoken Wossy, you'll just have to live with it. Or give me a highly paid job as your gag-writer and celebrity wrangler.

"Old Jokes Home II"

Such is the Vatican's love of the Beatles, it has been decreed that when Pope John Paul eventually dies, the next pontiff will take the title Pope George Ringo.

I thang yew.

The Scaryduck Archive

Saturday, September 20, 2003

"The Duck's Revenge"

This week, we paid a very nice man to fit one of those dog flap thingies to allow our favourite cute ickle puppy Scarydog in and out of the house. That’ll learn him for eating my head.

“Royal News”

Rumours continue to circulate of a royal marriage between Britain’s Prince Charles and his main squeeze Camilla Parker-Bowles after he answered a journalist’s question, “Your Highness, how is Camilla?” with the words “Really firm, fruity and gagging for it”. Still, it’s nice to see old people happy.

"Old Jokes Home"

As a child brought up on a solid diet of Revolver, Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road - interspersed only with Neil Diamond's Twelve Greatest Hits, it's great to see a new "back to basics" version of The Beatles 'Let it Be' released in November.

Phil Spector's lavish orchestrations have been removed, and you will hear exactly how it sounded in the studio. I bet you can even smell the wacky baccy. However, with Ringo and Paul being the only two surviving members of the band, I gather it will be drum'n'bass.

Boom, and indeed, tish!

The Scaryduck Archive

Friday, September 19, 2003

“Being mainly the description of a day out discovering the history of my adoptive county, culminating in a series of gratuitous nob gags”

To the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester with Mrs Scary and the Scaryducklings in the pursuit of a day of entertainment and discovery of my adopted home county. The first (and cheapest) visit of the day was to the Roman Town House, the most complete Roman villa in the UK. All very nice, but no-one was home, and there was one hell of a mess on the carpets. Not a slave in sight, either. I packed my toga away in disgust.

Let me tell you about the town of Dorchester. My chosen locale of Weymouth and Portland may be a tad strange, but over the Ridgeway in the County Town, they do things differently.

Dorchester - winner of the Bah Humbug award for Britain’s worst Christmas lights two years in a row, its single chain of a dozen white lights rescued from a skip behind Woolies impressing the judges year after year. Effective, simple, and because of the mayor’s habit of forgetting to put 50p in the meter, damn cheap.

Dorchester - historic county town noted for its connections with the writer Thomas Hardy and the Tolpuddle Martyrs, transported to the colonies for daring to ask for a pay rise. I’ve alluded to the fact in the past that Dorchester is the town where Judge Jeffreys held his now infamous Bloody Assizes, sending more men to the gallows than any judge before or since, and that includes those shonky ones they had in Argentina. And how was this feat of judicial barbarism celebrated? In shame? In a monument to the woe of broken lives, shattered families, the blood spilled on this green, green land? Nope. The Judge Jeffreys tea-rooms. Hot and cold beverages, a selection of cakes and pastries, violent and bloody death a speciality of the house.

The museum. Ah yes. Real live dead people in cases! That’s what I paid good money to see, and that’s exactly what I got. Whole piles of dead Durotrige tribesmen slaughtered by the Romans in AD43 when Emperor-to-be Vespasian took one look at Maiden Castle and decided it was in the exact place he wanted to open a lap-dancing club and pizza restaurant. No questions asked, sneak in through the back door and perforate them until they surrender. Still, tough on the poor buggers who lived there, dug up and shoved in a glass case two thousand years later. It’s what they would have wanted. I could tell - they were smiling, even.

But it was in one of the back rooms that we hit paydirt. A badger, a snake and some mushrooms all in the same case, like they had predicted the internetweb juxtaposition years in advance. Clearly, the museum owners were trying to tell us something, so me and Scaryduck Jr did the Badger dance until Mrs Scary gave me her best "That's the last time I take you anywhere" look which my own mother had given me on a visit to the Natural History Museum some thirty years before.

But as an aspiring writer, the part of the museum I found the most interesting was that dedicated to Thomas Hardy, our county’s most famous son. These days whole swathes of the country are now named, for twee tourist purposes, after famous writers. Signs welcoming you to Hampshire now also welcome you to “Jane Austen Country”, Warwickshire is now “Shakespeare Country”, West Yorkshire is “Bronte Country”, and James "The Rats" Herbert now has a claim on most of Central London, except for Belmarsh Prison, which is now "Archer Country". Dorset, then, is Hardy Country, even though he made up all the place names as he went along. The place is positively crawling with famous Thomas Hardies, and it was an earlier Hardye who is commemorated with a rather phallic monument between Weymouth and Bridport, with free petty theft from your car while you’re there.

The Dorset museum has done a rather good job of taking his entire study and rebuilding it, book by book in its own gallery. It did, however, lack a certain je ne sais quoi, possibly due to the fact that I consider his best work to be the stuff he did with Stan Laurel. I put this to the curator and was promptly shown the door. Then he showed me the ladies’ toilets, a genuine roman lead coffin and a selection of dirty postcards. And all on an entry fee of three pounds ninety. Class.

I must confess, however, my ignorance of this son of Dorset. This came about in my most formative years, when I confused one of his most celebrated works, which went some way to earning that bronze statue at Top 'o' Town roundabout, with The Sun’s 1974 Soccer Annual for Boys. I grew up convinced that “Far from the Madding Crowd” was about a footballer's desire to get away from the big time and live the simple life in the English countryside. Easy mistake to make, and what a disappointment I was letting myself in for when I finally got round to reading it. There was nary a 70’s bubble perm on a rainy night at Stamford Bridge to be seen. “Far from the Madding Crowd” is about rugger, as any fule kno.

On the way home we visited the Cerne Giant - he of the enormous wang halfway up a hillside not six miles from Dorchester. What a disappointment, such is the perspective the best views of the Giant are to be had from the air, and without a handy helicopter, I was always going to be let down. I've read that he spent much of the nineteenth century wang-less as the Victorians covered up the mighty mallet; and that his weapon has actually grown by twenty-four feet since he was cut into the hillside, all without the help of 100% guaranteed internet offers. Speaking as a man of the world, he’s never going to satisfy anyone with that thing. It’s quality, not quantity.

The Scaryduck Archive

Thursday, September 18, 2003

“Starter for ten. Or to you, nine”

I’m not saying that TV quiz shows are dumbing down these days, but a recent edition of the usally high-brow Mastermind (top prize: a lovely vase) featured the following specialised subjects: The religious works of Rembrandt van Rijn, BBC Radio comedy 1940-1960, the fiction of Graham Greene 1938-1983 and ...err... The Manic Street Preachers.

Next week, for God’s sake, they’ve got English league football grounds, romantic literature 1789-1830, the songs of Randy Newman and the Harry Potter Films. Both Harry Potter films. Hardly taxing work for the brain if you ask me. Seeing as your typical question on the show these days seems to be “How many fingers am I holding up?”, I feel that I may stand a fair-to-middling chance with questions on my lifetime’s obsession: “Fiesta Readers’ Wives 1973-2003”.


I haven't met a genuine nutter on the train for at least two weeks now. However, joining the 1136 from Winchester today, I was accosted by a bearded idiot who cornered me with his life story and comments of utter genius ("genius", of course, meaning "certifiable" and not "really, really clever and the bestest person in the world" which is how it is used in the context of this site), which I could not allow to pass without comment.

"I am from Poland. You must travel to my country." "Not with me, mate."

"I have a bicycle. It was made in The Philippines."

"I am from Poland. We have a railway network there."

"I am from Poland. Today I am travelling to Basingstoke." The poor bastard.

"I did not know you have to buy a ticket to ride on a train. I tell them I am from Poland but they do not listen. We have a railway network there. You must travel to my country. I am fined one hundred and fifty English pounds sterling for not buying a ticket. It is crazy. I am from Poland. My bicycle is from The Philippines."

"Have you ever been in a Turkish jail?" No, hang on, I made that one up.

Tell you what, if he was a secret agent desperately trying to get a codeword out of me, he was heading for a major disappointment.

The Scaryduck Archive

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

”Ho. Ho. Ho.”

Extract from Old Bastard’s 2003 Almanack: “September 17th – St Ebeneezer’s Day. First sighting of Christmas produce in local supermarkets. (See also 26th before Easter).”

”Bullet-proof duck”

I must be the bestest person in the world ever. Apart from Mike at Stupid Bathroom, natch. Why, only yesterday, I designed and constructed a flight of steps out of concrete blocks – with absolutely no training at all in the art of bricklaying - to allow Scarydog access to the house without the aid of a step-ladder. And I hardly dropped any blocks on my fingers, dancing, swearing and screaming round the back garden in agony, at all. Even better, it’s still there this morning. Am I skill or what?

"The Curse of Celine Dion"

Thanks for the comments about the music thing. I've been away from blogginess for a few days being the bestest person ever, so there'll be a full round-up thang and a new scary story later in the week. Yes.

The Scaryduck Archive

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

“Scaryduck’s ‘Did You Know...?’ No. 355”

German motor manufacturers Volkswagen are working on an environmentally friendly car that will run on farmyard effluent. It will be known as the Dung Beetle.

The Scaryduck Archive

Monday, September 15, 2003

”The Sound of the Crowd”

Seeing as the movie poll went down so well, now is the time to run the Scary rule over the music industry. In the words of Thom Yorke “Anyone can play guitar”, and I’m pretty sure he was referring to Status Quo when he said it. Give any idiot enough encouragement, they’ll haunt your dreams with bad covers of Unchained Melody for the rest of your sorry life.

So, in this spirit of hunting down and killing former members of Hear'Say and S Club 7 wherever they may be found, it is time for your nominations for the Joe Dolce Shaddap You Face Memorial Music Award. You can blame regular reader Balders for this as he started me off on the whole trip with a throwaway comment in an e-mail a couple of months ago. So.... I’m looking for nominations for just one thing:

The Worst Musical Act in the World, Ever.

A free copy of Pan Pipe Moods XXXVII for every tenth nomination! Your reasons for your nominations would be good too, as it makes the whole process less of a number crunching exercise and more of voyage into mindless abuse; and I’ll try to keep the whole process as brief as possible to save the sanity of all of us. There is the distinct possibility that a) I may reveal the extent of my (and by association, Balders’) brief musical career and b) Bigfoot and the Groincrushers will at least win through to the final phase.

You know the form by now: Nominate-o!

By the miracles of new-fangled free Blogger Pro for everyone, I posted this on Saturday to appear on Monday. Drop me an e-mail if you can’t see this ;)

The Scaryduck Archive

Saturday, September 13, 2003

“Scaryduck’s ‘Did You Know...?’ No. 359”

Does my bum look big in this?
The classic line “Get away from her, you bitch” spoken by Sigourney Weaver during the final fight scene in the film ‘Aliens’, was in fact unscripted. The original line of dialogue, as Ripley emerges in full body armour to battle the alien queen was “Does my bum look big in this?”

"When in doubt..." 'em your referrer logs. One hundred per cent genuine search terms used to find this site, just to prove that the internet is entirely populated by manky old spunkers.

* Girly pie pounding - and why not?

* Can you take me to video porn city? - Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty

* FLUFFY KITTENS OF NUCLEAR DOOM - "Nucular" It's prnounced "Nucular". And stop shouting.

* Doctor shave Schoolboys totally naked Stories - Looks like I might have missed that episode of Jackanory.

* nude photos of undertakers having sex with the dead - Heaven forbid that they've still got their clothes on. Have people no respect?

* Picture of Elton John in duck costume - Celebrities will do anything to get noticed

* pictures of nude gay boys and men pissing in toilets - result number fifteen for this search. They must have been so disappointed.

* crabstick enema - scores 920,810,000 points as a googlewhack.

Like I've always said - who needs to go searching for filth on the internet? Show a little patience, and it comes and finds you.

The Scaryduck Archive

Friday, September 12, 2003

"Piss III: The Curse of Piss"

Drink! The curse of the working classes, and I should know as I’ve mixed the two. Frequently. Back in the days between leaving colleage and finding a real job, my friends and I drunk like the proverbial fishes. Unfortunately, our local also did a rather fine range of chocolate-flavoured desserts, all served from a refrigerated cabinet mere feet away from our favourite table. It was a recipe for disaster. A good session would involve between six and eight pints of the late-lamented Eldridge Pope Royal Oak ale, a crate of dry-roasted peanuts and at least two of those gateaux that come in boxes saying “Serves Twelve”. There were six of us. In two years I put on three stone, and if I got absolutely wallopped, you could have rolled me home.

It didn’t take me long to realise that another few years of this would leave me looking like a professional darts player, shopping for clothes in places like “High and Mighty” and “Vince’s Lard Boy Emporium”, so I bravely knocked the juice and cake on the head for a bit, took up cycling and eventually restored myself to the picture of slightly chubby health that I am today.

Oh, but there were blips. Big blips. Like my last day at my first temporary job. I’d tell you about it, if I could remember what happened, but I’m pretty certain that vomit was involved. But the Big One was the Christmas party for my first real job outside the fluffy world of Her Majesty’s Civil Service. A night I would live to regret. Oh dear.

In all the time I’ve been in this job - some fourteen years at the time of writing - our department has been an all-male affair. We’ve had a whole two-and-a-half women - two genuine and rather dedicated ladies and a pre-op transexual - and the rest has been Bloke City. At one stage there were over sixty of us, a great festering pool of testosterone, locked in a compound somewhere in the South Oxfordshire countryside. And to quote Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, “Drink will find a way.” Christmas came, and Bob organised a party. In a pub.

You could tell in advance what kind of evening it was going to be. Someone had hired a minibus to get us all home. Naive young chap that I was, I thought that this was because the pub was in the middle of nowhere. All well and good - it was, but I hadn’t realised that half of my twenty quid for the sitdown meal was actually going into the world’s biggest bar tab, which we all put another tenner into on arrival.

We ate. We drunk. We arranged a good old-fashioned lock-in with the landlord. We drunk some more. Just befre midnight, a taxi came to take some of the lads for their nightshift. We drunk to their good health. And drunk some more. I think you’re getting the picture now. Drink was involved. Lots of it, and the greatest sin of them all - we mixed ale with spirits with wine with something green and even more beer. At some point (and this is always the telltale sign that you’ve gone too far), we started singing. Songs about an Eskimo called Nell and "stupid dicky-di-dildos".

It was around this point that things became blurred. I remember stumbling out into the cold night air, finding a seat on the bus, and then the torturous route home with frequent stops to let people off, either for a much needed piss, or simply because we had accidentally ended up at someone’s house. With more than a little luck, I was eventually turfed out at the end of my road, and I staggered up the two flights of stairs to my flat.

Mrs Scary hadn’t bothered to wait up. I shut the front door as quietly as I could, managing to disturb everybody in a two hundred yard radius. I fell over in the dark. I said “fuck”, realised I had said “fuck”, giggled, and realising I was giggling said “fuck” again. I went into the bedroom, where Mrs Scary was now awake and asking me if I knew what the time was. I told her I did, it was nearly one o’clock and that I “really, really, really loved her.” She was unimpressed. Some people just have no sense of humour. I fell into bed, and sickly, spinning darkness took me. For a bit.

I woke. The room was still spinning - violently so, in fact - but there were more pressing matters to attend to. Eight pints of heavy, half a bottle of wine and lord alone knows what else had gone in at one end, and now they wanted out. Quite urgently. I staggered out of bed, and eventually made it to the bathroom. Whipping out The Mighty Mallet, I let go with what was surely going to be the greatest piss of my lifetime.

My fuzzy ball of contentment lasted all of three seconds. A light came on. There was a shriek of surprise and alarm. I was not in the bathroom. Oh no. I had taken a wrong turning and I was still in the bedroom. What I had taken for the cold porcelain of the toilet was, in fact, Mrs Scary’s dressing table, now a streaming river of piss and resembling the back step of a pub at closing time.

Fair play to her, she didn’t beat me up or anything, for she knew one thing I didn’t. My Christmas presents were hidden underneath. Oh yes. So, on Christmas Day that year, I received my most prized possession ever - a signed photo of the entire 1989 title-winning Arsenal FC squad, with little yellow wrinkles round the edge. Damn you beer, why do you treat your old friend like this?

The next day, I had to go to work. They were feeling particularly generous that day, and I didn’t have to start until lunchtime, but I still sat at a workstation in the corner and did the absolute minimum that my presence required. On the way home I bought myself a catering pack of Resolve and Mrs Scary a fluffy duck called Wello. It was the least I could do.

Just before Christmas, I ran into my drinking buddies Pat and John, sipping orange juice and lemanades down the Old Devil, eyeing up the contents of the refrigerated cabinet longingly. Like me, they had sworn off drink for the week after their office Christmas parties. On the same night I had rendered Mrs Scary’s hairdryer inoperable (simultaneously solving the problem of what present to buy her) John had staggered home drunk from his party, taken a wrong turning, and pissed out of the bedroom window into the street below. Pat, on the other hand, had taken a wrong turning, gone downstairs, got hoplessly lost and was discovered by Mrs Pat relieving himself in the corner of the kitchen. Heroes to a man.

As one, we took the drinkers’ vow: “Never, ever again.” Not until the next time, anyway. Gateau was served.

The Scaryduck Archive

Thursday, September 11, 2003

“Hell Hound”

Hell Hound
Avert your eyes, those of a sensitive nature! The picture on the left shows the cute little fluffball that is Scarydog - otherwise known as The Hound From Hell - on his first meeting with your erstwhile author. As you can see, the duck’s not so scary now and has suffered a rather embarrassing puncture.

I got better, thanks.

“Mammon Latest”

You asked, and so you shall receive. The highly esteemed Weyprint do indeed do mugs, and if it’s mugs you want, it’s mugs you’re going to get. I’m getting a few quotes from them, but the mugs will probably come with this slightly sweary design, while the t-shirts will come with this here logo. If there’s a demand for penguin-flavoured merch, then speak your brains now. More news as I get it.

"A Diddly Qua Qua"

The first album I ever bought was Kings of the Wild Fronteir by Adam and the Ants. So, despite his well-publicised problems, it's great to see Adam Ant back with us for all the right reasons. He's re-recorded "Stand and Deliver", and will be taking part in a run next week to save gorillas in Rwanda. He's already raised over a thousand pounds and needs people like you to send him even more pictures of the Queen. Fair play to ya, Dandy Highwayman.

“Scaryduck’s ‘Did You Know...?’ No. 349”

Red faces all round at the Pentagon, when it was revealed that all-American icon Ronald McDonald is the seven of diamonds on the Government’s “Most Wanted Iraqis” deck of cards. No damage done, Ron will be going straight back to his old job just as soon as he’s back from Camp X-Ray.

“World Full of Nothing”

Two years ago today, tragedy gave us the chance to work together. So how the fuck did we end up here? Just read this.

The Scaryduck Archive

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

“Chants Would Be a Fine Thing”

Forget your Shakespeares, Keats and Dylan Thomases. Some of the greatest poets this nation has ever produced plied their art on the football terraces of England. But as the terraces succumb to the bulldozer and the sterile atrmosphere of the all-seater stadium, the art of the terrace chant is in danger of dying out completely. At Liverpool, there was the famous Spion Kop now featuring thousands of red plastic seats, at Chelsea the Shed has become a hotel and leisure complex and the Chicken Run at yer actual West Ham has gone to the slaughterhouse. Only Manchester United fans remain unscathed, as there are no plans to demolish Guildford just yet.

In the mid-eighties I stood with a small gang of friends at the back of the North Bank at the Arsenal. There was a certain camaraderie, a nodding acquaintance with the other regulars, such as mulleted Sid The Sexist lookalike Noddy and his gang; and Big Nose’s mob, several of whom had ordinary sized conks. We had a laugh (and if you saw the football back then, you needed a sense of humour), we traded banter, we wound up the humourless undercover police assigned to watch over us with video cameras the size of suitcases, and when it mattered, and just to prove we weren't all hooligans, we sung our hearts out for the lads.

And they were right, those social commentators, never has such inventiveness been seen in people of such limited IQ since the Great Train Robbery. Some of the songs were straight from the top of the genius pile, while others were just crass, crude and downright stupid. And bloody genius too. For example, my brother claims to have been present at the birth of this little number on an away trip to Doncaster Rovers, a ditty put together to the tune of “My Old Man’s A Dustman” to commemorate the then Spurs Manager’s habit of getting picked up by the law soliciting for the favours of young ladies:

“David Pleat’s a pervert
He’s friends with Elton John
He writes him dirty letters
And tries to get it on
But Elton’s got his rent boys
And he’s gone off pervy Pleat
So Davey gets a prostitute
And shags her in the street.”

It’s got everything. Foul and abusive language, total hatred for your local rivals, sexual deviancy, libel and just a touch of homophobia for the less politically correct. I remember five thousand Gooners and an inflatable doll belting that one out in the away end at White Hart Lane like it was yesterday. It was about the same time that Big Nose came up with a simple “question and answer” chant, where one person would lead and the rest of the crowd would follow:

Leader: “What do you think of Tottenham?”
Crowd: “Shit!”
Leader: “What do you think of shit?”
Crowd: “Tottenham!”
Leader: “Thank you.”
Crowd: “All right.”

Of course, the biggest laugh came with Noddy’s rendition of a dismal night at Oxford’s ramshackle (Ramshackle? It was like Cardboard City) Manor Ground:

Noddy: “What do you think of Tottenham?”
Crowd: “Shit!”
Noddy: “What do you think of Tottenham?”
Crowd: “Shit!”
Noddy: “What do you think of Tottenham?”
Crowd: “Shit!”
Noddy: “What do you think of Tottenham?”
Crowd: “Shit!”
Noddy: “God I hate Tottenham!”

There was nothing in the world like starting a chant and hear it pick up spead, spreading across the terrace and around the ground. The first time I managed it, I basked in an aura of smugness for the rest of the evening. We lost.

It’s a dying art though. Ask any Scouser, and he’ll regale you with tales of the ready wit of the Kop End, belting out their latest renditions of chart hits, and on one particularly foggy Saturday, “What’s the score?” to the fans at the other end of the ground. There was even an album doing the rounds of the Kop Choir, and a national competition to find the best terrace singers in the land. These days they can hardly get up a chorus of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Arsenal is no different - it’s not known as the “Highbury Library” for nothing. With stringent penalties from police and ground stewards alike against people daring to enjoy themselves at the footie, along with automated ticketing sales doing their best to keep groups of mates apart, the glory days of the football sing-song are now well and truly gone.

With this important artform in danger of fading away, I have made it my life’s mission to find these treasures a new home where they can be saved for the nation until such a time that that can be appreciated once more. Rather like the Victoria and Albert Museum, only with swearing. I doubt if the great poets or writers of any age would have come up with this kind of genius. Bacon. Orwell. Morrissey out of the Smiths (on account of him being a soft lad who’d run from the Stockport Under Eleven Boot Boys given half the chance). Kipling. Rank amateurs the lot of them. Only the late Oscar Wilde, whose love for Charlton Athletic was only equalled that of the Marquis of Queensbury’s lad, could hold a candle to the collective genius of the English football terrace of the sixties and seventies.

Consider this from an anthology of Wilde’s verse:

“The wankers Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope
The wankers Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope
The wankers Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope
And this is what he said - FUCK OFF!
Who’s that team they call the Charlton?
Who’s that team they all adore?
They’re the boys in red and white
And they’re fucking dynamite
And David Pleat’s mother, she’s a whore.”

No wonder they banged him up in Reading Nick. Elm Park never heard the like, before or since.

And, in closing, let us not forget the greatest football chant of them all - a multipurpose taunt for all occasions, which can be used both in and out of the ground. The subtle hand gesture with the flick of the wrist that only true football fans can manage, which can be used as a rule of thumb to discover if your contemporary is Of The Terraces, or merely a faker:

“You’re shit.... AAAARGH!”

You may now allow mums and aunts back into the room.

Coming Soon: Something special. Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, alternative uses for historical artifacts and a rather embarrassing End of the World, inspired by Neil Gaiman. Just as soon as I’ve written it.

The Scaryduck Archive

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

”The Price is Shite”

I’ve got a merchandise store at cafepress. There’s a link on the side-bar. Trouble is, cafepress are expensive, you the punter don’t want to shell out for a t-shirt that’s going to weigh in at fifteen quid when all the postage and packing is added up, and I only see about a pound for every shirt that’s sold. Mr Cafepress, on the other hand, is raking it in.

Now, I’ve been talking to a local printing firm, and they can turn out good quality Scary Gear at rather less than Mr Cafepress and his squillionaire buddies. And it’s even cheaper for bulk orders. I’m talking approximately ten pounds, including postage, for a t-shirt. Interested?

There’s going to be two designs – the existing “Not Scary. Not a Duck” logo one, and a new full-colour one involving penguins, which will be knocked together by myself and Scaryduck Jr this weekend.

I need to know if anyone is genuinely interested first. So, if you want to take part in this unique opportunity to own a slice of internet tat, please leave a comment below, or e-mail me.

Edit: For those of you who asked, I will accept cash (UK pounds/ US dollars/ Euros), cheques drawn on a UK bank, paypal and Amazon payments.

That is all.

The Scaryduck Archive

Sunday, September 07, 2003

“Scaryduck’s ‘Did You Know...?’ No. 360 – Sunday Blasphemy Special!”

Theological argument says that God is omnipresent - He is in all places all the time. Following that logic, this means that He’s got front row tickets for the Raymond Revue Bar for every single perfomance and knows the dark, dark secrets of Dolly Parton’s chest. On the downside, He’s also got to see Tottenham Hotspur play every Saturday. No wonder the world’s in such a mess.

The Scaryduck Archive

Friday, September 05, 2003

"You Too"

U2 - musical gods. Discuss. No need for a discussion, I had already seen the Irish foursome on two separate occasions when they announced they were to tour again. The only trouble was that while the Joshua Tree shows had all been at mega-sized stadiums - I had seen them at both Wembley in London and Cardiff Arms Park - the Zoo TV tour would be a limited number of small venues. In London it would be a two-night tenancy at Earl’s Court and nothing else. It would be, in terms of people trying to get tickets, like trying to fit a herd of elephants in the back seat of a Mini.

And so it proved. I arranged with my London-based football mate Bob to get in the queue early and take turns in line until one of us got to the front. We reckoned getting there a good two hours early would see us fine. He got there at six o’clock on the Saturday morning, and I tootled along at around nine, fully expecting to find a beaming Bob near the front, so we could just pick up our tickets and head off to the Arsenal for the afternoon’s football match. Poor deluded fools that we were!

I started at the front of the queue and scanned the faces, looking for Bob. Most of the people at the front had sleeping bags, and one or two were actually rolling up tents and lighting up camping stoves as I arrived. I followed the line along the front of the building and down the side. Then further down the side, and along the back, across the service road and behind the Earls Court 2 Exhibition Hall. There, about six miles from the front of the queue, sat Bob on a small folding stool, reading The Guardian.

“Arses,” I said.

“We’re not going to get tickets,” he said.

“Arses,” I said in agreement.

We sat around for a while, deciding what to do. A clock struck ten in the distance and the line moved forward about five feet as the ticket office doors opened.

“Did I ever tell you,” asked Bob, “that used to work here?”

No, he hadn’t.

“I’ll be right back.”

He headed over to the corner of the building that was being used as a communal toilet by the waiting thousands. And disappeared. Bloody great. Not only am I standing out in the freezing cold drizzle, but now Bob’s walked out on me. I might as well go ho...

Minutes later he was back, coming round the front of the building with a furtive smile on his face. That must have been one hell of a piss, I thought.

“Come on, we’re going,” he said quietly.


He folded up his picnic stool and headed for the tube station, me scuttling along behind him, wandering what the hell was going on. As we reached the Picadilly Line to head on up to Arsenal, he stopped, opened his wallet and pulled out four tickets for the gig. Fourth row back, centre of the aisle. Result.

“How the bloody hell did you get those?” I asked.

“Trade secret...”

He had made to go for a piss, and simply followed some stage hands through a back door. Once inside, he legged it across the hall and out into the ticket office just as the doors were opening. Four tickets and sixty quid later (I’m still trying to work this one out, as the maximum was for two tickets per customer) he walked out the front door with the goods, proving for once and for all that it sometimes pays to be a bit naughty.

As for the gig - well, I’m sure you’re expecting me to say that it was a complete disappointment, spoilt by a poor performance and crappy choice of venue. So I’m not. It was bastard brilliant, one of the most intense gigs I’ve ever seen with innovative stage design, and inspired setlist and performances that were out of this world. Sorry. Bob recorded the whole thing, if you’re interested...

And close up, that Bongo’s got a bastard huge nose.

While we’re on the subject...

My favourite U2 story is the one surrounding how the band members came to get their nicknames. It’s common knowledge that Bono Vox got his name from the sign above a hearing aid shop. However, many people believe that The Edge is so called because he has “the edge” on other guitarists. Not so, claims Mr Vox. The reason young David Evans became The Edge is simple - he’s got a square head. I should know - one of my best friends at school was called “Mallet” for exactly the same reason. He was shit at the guitar though, proving that an angular cranium is not a passport to musical talent, as anyone who’s heard Sophie Ellis-Bextor will attest.

Next week: A return to explosions, juvenile mayhem and a better than 50% chance of public nudity.

The Scaryduck Archive

Thursday, September 04, 2003

"Bunch of Arse"

Manic at the highly esteemed Bloggerheads has a simple plan.

Mr Bush is threatening to visit Airstrip One at some stage this autumn for a round of photo opportunities and manly bonding sessions with Tony Blair. Wherever George goes, the press will undoubtedly follow, looking for that perfect photo of George getting on swimmingly with Johnny Foreigner. And that's where you come in. Yes, YOU. Manic wants you to go and get your arse out in front of the world's most powerful military-industrial puppet. And I'll be right behind you. As it were.

Of course, I've got no desire to see what the inside of Wormwood Scrubs looks like, so the alternative would be to turn up with a banner bearing the word "ARSE" (and what a beautiful sight that would be on CNN), or simply write to national and local newspapers threatening to bare your pert buttocks in the name of world peace. If George decides he needs to spend the day sitting on a deckchair at Weymouth (and who wouldn't?), me and my hairy cleft will be there.

Go on, you know it makes sense. Remember our motto: An arse for an arse!

Edit: In a forthcoming TV Movie about September 11th, George W Bush will be portrayed by Timothy Bottoms. Heh.

“Scaryduck’s ‘Did You Know...?’ No. 332”

BBC Director General Greg Dyke is the long-lost brother of “Gor Blimey Mary Poppins” actor Dick Van Dyke, which goes some way to explain why Diagnosis Murder always seems to be on the television these days.

Another little known fact is that Dick Van Dyke is the inventor of the popular system which allows you to view movies on your television with a perfect picture from a small disc no more than a few inches across. Hence the name "DVD player".

"Doing the rounds"

"Grandmother used to take my mother to the circus to see the fat lady and tattooed man - now they're everywhere." - Joan Collins

The University of the Bleeding Obvious answers that all-important question - How do they make nuns?

The Scaryduck Archive

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

“A Tribute to Tribute Acts”

I often make a point of pilfering “Broadcast” and “Music Week” from the desks of my superiors, but it was a copy of “The Stage”, the publication for the committed thesbian and those of an artistic bent, found stuffed down the back of a seat on a train to Bournemouth that really opened my eyes to the realities of life on the other side of the microphone.
False Freddie
Fred. Probably.

Amongst all the fluff, the pleas for work and reviews of productions in front of three men and a dog in a village hall in Cumbernauld, I found the sad truth about the state of variety in modern Britain. To be perfectly blunt - I never realised there were so many tribute acts out there. In fact, the “Agents and Management” pages had nothing but tribute acts, with one forlorn contortionist going by the name “Rubber Ritchie” stuffed in the corner, his legs folded behind his neck in a pose you’d only find in *other* specialist magazines, begging for a booking. Jim Davidson, for all his faults, was right - variety is dying on its arse.

I’ve touched on the futility of tribute acts before when our local “music” festival turned out to be nothing but ringers and Slade who, as it turned out, were performing a tribute to themselves. In my locale, Weymouth’s top musical acts are a white Tina Turner in a fright wig and five unemployable Steps look-a-likes who have the Pavilion Theatre to themselves of a Friday night. With the karaoke crooners of Pop Idol back on our screens, the likelihood of any original acts ever appearing in our lifetime is slim to say the least. We have slipped over the tribute event horizon, and there is no going back.

So, what’s appearing at your local holiday camp or working mens’ club these days? A flip through my oilfered copy of The Stage makesfor depressing reading. Apart from the myriad Abba, Queen, Beatles and Robbie almost-lookalikes, the barrel, I’m afraid to say, is being well and truly scraped.

First up for your delight and amusement is a Rolf Harris / Dam Edna double act. Then there’s a Del-Boy who presumably comes on stage, says “Lovely Jubbly you plonkers”, collects his fee and leaves (This time next year, he’ll be a millionaire). And then there’s Kris Kenny. Mr Kenny’s professional life is spent as a tribute to Roy “Chubby” Brown. He’s fat. He wears a funny suit and a flying helmet. And I bet he swears fucking loads. But how do you do a tribute stand-up act? Do you use his old gags, or do you tell your own? One thing’s for sure, he can’t be any worse than the real thing.

Sting. Frank Sinatra. Michael Jackson. Cher. George Formby. Is there no end to this madness? Madness. There’s a Boy George clone called Keith George, a knock-about double-act called Haurel and Lardy, and some bloke in a syrup vcalled John’s Elton. Enough! I once saw an Animals tribute band that gave up halfway through their set and started doing Jam covers - a bizarre two-for-the-price-of-one evening, and both were shite.

Now, there’s a couple of avenues worth exploring here. One: Do these tribute acts get morework than the real thing? Obviously, Jim Morrison’s career has been in a bit of a free-fall recently, what with him dying and everything, so cobble together a band, call yourself “Early Doors” and you’ll be raking it in. But this doesn’t answer our question. Does Debbie Harris get more work than Debbie Harry? One thing’s for certain from recent experience - I bet the counterfeit Blondie doesn’t dance like your drunk aunt at a wedding disco. And more to the point, does “Justin” get the real Mr Timberlake’s groupies, and can they tell the difference?

And finally, with a world gone mad, sloshing around with all these lookalikes, how long will it be bofore we see the emergence of tribute bands tributing their favourite tribute act? There’ll be swarms of them. “Abba Gold Gold - celebrating the magic of Abba Gold”, “Bjorn Again Again - ditto”, “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be that geezer with the funny teeth who did Freddie Mercury”.

Come to think of it, it’s already happened. There are whole legions of bands out there performing reasonable facsimiles of Liam and Noel Gallagher, right down to the eyebrow. And we all know that Oasis have been tributing the Beatles for years. Who wants to live forever? Society is doomed. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Try as I might, I found no Jim Davidson tribute. And we thank God for even the smallest of mercies.

The Scaryduck Archive

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

“Oh Lordy - Not Another Over-Simplified Political Post!”

The BBC is a national treasure. A national treasure that some, however, would like to see killed off, hobbled, or locked quietly in a back room where nobody can hear the screams as it has its heart ripped out.

For example, Conservative MP and culture spokeman John Whittingdale would like to see the Beeb’s awesome website more-or-less closed down along with a whole swathe of its digital services, because, as a free-market Conservative, it's doing a job that commercial organisations ought to be doing. Someone tell him the internet money-making bubble burst years ago... From the other side of the house, sour-faced culture secretary Tessa Jowell has been making unpleasant noises regarding the BBC’s forthcoming charter renewal over the Corporation’s failure to kow-tow to the government line during and after the Iraqi War. As the old saying goes, if the BBC is upsetting politicians from all sides, it must be doing something right.

As far as I’m concerned, the honourable gentleman, as a free-market Conservative is talking a big pile of bollocks to keep his chum Mr Murdoch happy. It was one of Rupert Murdoch’s henchmen, Tony Ball, of that top quality broadcaster Sky Television who suggested that the BBC should be forced to sell off its most successful shows and formats. To Sky Television, for example. And when the laughing finally died down, with the majority of the audience suspecting they’d stumbled into an Edinburgh Festival fringe production by mistake, BBC Director General Greg Dyke got up and announced that the Corporation would be making the BBC’s creative archive available to download. For free. Now that’s Public Service Broadcasting, Mr Ball. May I respectfully suggest that you go go away, sit and swivel?

“But if you don’t pay the licence fee you go to prison!” wail opponents of the BBC. “Not fair! Why do we pay for digital services when we don’t/won’t receive them?”. The same argument was heard over thirty years ago from black&white 525 line viewers when 625-line colour transmissions started. And many people who object to the licence fee are more than happy to pay thirty-eight quid a month to watch Sky, who have the cheek to force viewers watch sixteen minutes of advertisements an hour, more than any other network in the country. You don’t go to prison for watching TV, you get fined for not buying the receiver licence that is obligatory by law. Watching TV is a luxury - if you can afford a screen, you can afford to pay for the programmes being made. After all, every time you buy a product advertised on ITV, you are paying for further episodes of Heartbeat and keeping Davina MacColl on our screens. You bastards.

The BBC makes mistakes. It makes bad programmes *cough* Eldorado *cough*. They keep giving work to Dale Winton. Sometimes its news stories aren’t as fair and unbiased as the government would want them to be. But bloody hell, public service broadcasting is about making mistakes, taking risks and courting unpopularity. It’s not for some here today, and dare I say, gone tomorrow government minister, or even less so, some transient opposition spokesman to threaten freedom of speech with the lowest common denominator of the so-called free market. While the BBC gives a balanced meal, the alternative on offer is a pot noodle.

Politicians hate the kind of public broadcasting written into the BBC’s charter, and for one very big reason: control. While in many other countries, the “state broadcaster” is very much in the pocket of the government of the day, the BBC remains outside government control. Out of reach, asking difficult questions, not towing the party line. Commerical broadcasters in the UK are different. Unable to broadcast anything that may lose advertisers, all it takes is a few quiet words with a few well-connected men of industry, and Trevor McDonut’s incisive documentary “Tony Blair: Son of Satan” will never see the light of day. “Death on the Rock” marked ITV’s high water mark in current affairs journalism, a programme that reportedly had Thatcher spitting nails. Nowadays, it’s “Club Reps” and very little else.

What do you get for your money? Ten quid a month gets you BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, BBC Parliament (which fulfills the Beeb’s public service remit to the full insofar that absolutely nobody watches it), News24, two kids' channels, five national radio stations, digital radio, local radio, a monster of a website, news reporters and stringers in every corner of the globe providing the kind of coverage that other organisations can only dream of. You also get the world's most listened to international broadcaster paid for out of your taxes, so you'd hardly notice, and the Tories and NewsCorp still think the BBC is bad value for money.

Did I say bad value for money? I meant "an untouchable competitor they'd be happy to see disposed of". The BBC has survived spat with successive governments - Churchill, Thatcher, Blair - but the corporation has survived. Killing it off to enrich predatory multinationals, or simply because “free-market conservatism” doesn’t like paying for something with is actually *good* would simply be a national outrage. An advertisng-supported BBC would kill off objective reporting and programme making, and ITV, C4 and Five chiefs know damn well it would also kill them stone dead as their income would plummet. Dare I suggest there are those waiting in the wings for exactly that scenario to play out, or is my tin-foil helmet slipping? Do you really want an ITV owned entirely by a Carlton/Granada conglomerate, with the only alternative being the “Fair and Balanced” Sky? I’d rather gouge my eyeballs out with a spoon and eat them with chilli sauce. In the long run, we can just do away with programming altogether and just have channels that show nothing but adverts. You think I'm joking, right?

And frankly, I don’t think I’d be able to find a job anywhere else.

Feel free to disagree with me. Everybody else does.

(With thanks to fellow inmate Tom at and Ionicus for unwittingly prodding me toward this diatribe. After a mega writing-up session, regular swearing will resume tomorrow.)

The Scaryduck Archive

Monday, September 01, 2003

"Bon Voyage"

Any day now, two local idiots will climb on board a rather large balloon - which underwent testing in Portland Harbour not 200 yards from Scaryduck Mansions - and attempt to fly to the edge of space. Prescott and Elson, the crew of Qinetiq1, are either the Last Great Eccentric British Explorers or doomed mentallists, depending on your point of view. Good luck lads.


There appears to be a glaring error in this month's Horror-scopes. A corrected version follows.

Aquarius: Don't, whatever you do, and I'm being one hundred per cent serious here, mix quadruple whiskies, cheeseburgers and re-heated rhubarb pie. Remember what happened to Elvis.

That is all.

Except... commenting is down until at least tomorrow as the server has gone walkies. If you want me, use the e-mail wossname. Edit: temporary comments added for now. Woo and yay for the interweb.

The Scaryduck Archive