Friday, September 28, 2007

Mirth and Woe: The Bridge

Mirth and Woe: The Bridge

Shit ground, shit teamI thought the time is right to tell this story, coinciding, as it does, with my Dad's birthday, and, of course, a certain London football club showing their lack of class. So there.

In my humblest of opinions, cheering at a football match when the wrong team scores is just about the worst thing you can do. Even worse that drunkenly nipping off a length on the lounge carpet at the vicarage. The vicar, for one, will forgive you.

Cheering the wrong team at a football match is a dreadful social faux pas that could lead to embarrassment, dirty looks, ostracism and perhaps even bovver-booted death.

I went to my first ever football match in 1974. My father and one of his colleagues - one Dr Veitch - decided that, at the age of eight, I was old enough to experience the surge of the crowd on the football terraces, and perhaps come back again and again, ensnared by The Beautiful Game.

I was, after all, a genuine football supporter having got a purple cotton tracksuit for my birthday which weighed a ton when it got wet. However, not having actually chosen a football team to support, I was putty in the hands of any likely adult who might want a go at shaping my entire future. Dr Veitch saw his chance and pounced.

They found a likely fixture - Stoke City at home - and I was taken along to see the cut and thrust of Division One football at close quarters.

In fact, thanks to the miracles of the internet, I can put and exact date on it: 27th April 1974.

A grey, drizzly spring day, where I was allowed to sit at the very front of the train all the way to London. All the grown-ups smoked, and I got envious looks from another father-and-son combination making a similar footballing journey, but getting on at Maidenhead, they were far too late for the box seat.

The match was awful. I was bored stupid within twenty minutes, and with the home crowd on the back of their poor side from early on, my old dad and Dr Veitch were beginning to regret bringing me in the first place.

Midway through the second half and with my half-time Wagon Wheel polished off and the home supporters getting a bit ugly, the inevitable happens - Stoke, who were a bit useful back in those days, score with a thirty yard screamer into the top corner.

"YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, throwing my arms into the air and getting more than a little over-excited.

"Someone shut that little bastard up," said a nearby voice as the olds did their best to quieten me down in the face of a hostile crowd that were getting progressively angrier by the second.

"Your gonna get your fuc..." started a nearby ape, pointing to the three of us, before I was dragged off the terrace by the old fella*, and watched the rest of the game in from a dark, sparsely populated corner of the now rapidly emptying terrace. The battle lost on the pitch, the local oiks were off to prepare their ambush for any luckless Stoke fans they might find.

I lived to tell the tale. A tale where I was taken by two highly qualified pathologists to stand in the Shed End at Stamford Bridge at the height of Chelsea's infamy, cheering for the wrong team.

Of course, being eight years old, I didn't realise how close I'd brought two grown men to having the seven bells kicked out of them. I am certain there was some sicking in a hedge on the way back to Paddington Station that I didn't know about.

Cured entirely of Chelsea, I never went back.

* This is, I realise, the best double entendre I have ever written. And I'm not going to change it

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Coleman’s Shopping Paradox

Coleman’s Shopping Paradox

This is the result of years of impatient research. So listen well. It could save a life.

1.1 “A woman, whilst shopping, will always buy the first item she picks up on any given shopping trip. The purchase will not be made, however, until she has eliminated every single alternative in every single shop in the vicinity. This process may take several hours, or in this new age of 24-hour shopping, up to a week.

1.2 “Any male companion that shows boredom or a lack of attentiveness at a crucial ‘What do you think?’ moment, might as go and live in a monastery, for he is not going to get it in the foreseeable future.”

2.1 “A man, whilst shopping, will always buy the first item he picks up on any given shopping trip. This process may take, in this new age of 24-hour shopping, up to fifty nano-seconds.

2.2 “Any female companion has a duty to sigh repeatedly, show enormous impatience and say ‘Just get the brown. Any size. Can we go now?’” before telling everybody in her circle of friends that she loves him so much she even goes clothes shopping for him.”

You may now nod your head, stroke your chin, and say to yourself “So true, so true”. Unless you are a no-tail, then it your womanly duty to shriek out loud and hunt me down like a dog.

On birthdays

It's is my dad's 70th birthday today. Happy birthday, Dad.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On Tasteful Thieves

On Tasteful Thieves

Jackshian writes: 'I was just reading a post (on another blog - how could you?) about a car being broken into and everything taken except the CD collection. The author says "How bad does your taste in CDs have to be for a thief to NOT steal them?" Sounds like a possible Scaryduck vote-o to me.'

Yes. Yes it does.

This has never happened to me.


I left the house one morning to find broken glass on the pavement by my car, the door ajar, yet the contents of my vehicle still more-or-less intact.

The thief had smashed the quarter-light, got into the car, rifled around a bit and found that the only thing worth stealing was my "Revenger" box - a dashboard mounted novelty that made machine gun noises when you pressed the button.

The radio/cassette, imported from my old Austin Allegro, was still there, essentially because I had wedged it in so tight it's probably still there now, at the bottom of the swamp.

My priceless New Romantic compilation cassettes went untouched, as did a nearly full bottle of de-icer.

My car at the time was a 1980 Fiat Strada.

It was - originally - red, but left out in the sun too long, it had faded to an attractive pink; while the acres of plastic that made up the rest of the car gave it a countenance so ugly that make it the Ann Noreen Widdecombe of the motoring world.

I had a car that was so awful that a thief refused to steal it.

So, what have otherwise drug- and swag-fuelled thieves left behind?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On hideous realisation

On hideous realisation

If there's one pivotal moment in my life I remember, it is this: the exact moment I realised I was never going to have sex with Debbie Lucas.

I invested years in attempting to have sex with Debbie Lucas, but naive youth that I was, it became clear that my plans were doomed to miserable failure. I should, in retrospect, have read the signs, for they were there for even the most sex-crazed teenager to see. Except me, obviously:

* It wasn't the time I took her up to Wembley Arena with front row tickets for a rather impressive pop concert (OK, it was Ultravox and it was crap), and didn't even get a peck on the cheek in return

* It wasn't the fact that I wrote her a hideously romantic teenage love letter to which she never replied, but her dad seemed to know ever last detail

* It wasn't all the times (three of them, to be exact) I would take her down the pub for a drink, which she would then polish off in five minutes and ask to be home in time for Inspector Morse

* It wasn't that I would ride my bike all the way to Henley for no reason other than to pay in a cheque for fifteen quid at the Lloyds Bank where she worked when there was a perfectly good branch within walking distance of my house, on the off chance that I might rescue her if there was an armed raid

* It wasn't that I had a months-long genuine fisticuffs-led feud with my old pal Clive over her affections. Affections which were, in retrospect, conspicuous by their absence

No. It was none of these.

It was the time I went round her house one afternoon, uninvited, to find she was the only person at home. She dragged my by the hand up the stairs to her eye-peelingly pink bedroom with something "amazing" to show me.

I was so excited at the prospect of red-hot Debbie action I could barely walk. All these years of subtle courting, biding my time and... oh.

She played me a chillingly note-perfect rendition of Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You" - complete with 'boom-tiddly-tiddly-tish' backing - on a Bontempi organ and then showed me to the front door, still fully clothed, and still a virgin.

Six forty-seven on a Thursday evening it was, her bedside alarm clock could never lie. That was the exact time I realised I was never going to cover her in baby oil and squirm all over the bathroom floor in a manner befitting two consenting adults.

Defeated and reflecting on my utter wasted life, I trudged off to the pub. After several hours of stern reflection I dare say I was sick in the rather neatly clipped hedge that separates Twyford Bowling Club from the riff-raff.

Fuck you, Stevie Wonder. Fuck you.

Edit: Swept along on the Bob Dylan me-me, here's one I made earlier

Monday, September 24, 2007

On dreams

On dreams

I've been having enormously weird dreams this week. This is almost entirely due to the big slab of Gouda cheese I brought back from Amsterdam, which I've been packing away as a waxy evening snack for the last week or so.

I'll give you weird.

Last night I dreamed that the screen on my digital camera was broken. This was unfortunate because I was trying desperately to film a comedic meteor storm of rabbits in order to send the footage to You've Been Framed and claim my 250 quid. Alas, all that the screen would show was "Carry on Henry".

If my camera was only going to show Carry On movies, it might have picked one of the decent ones. I awoke, I am told by the charming Mrs Duck, shouting out the words "Harry Hill, you BASTARD!", which was a bit unfair on poor old Harry, truth be told.

The previous night, I dreamed I was on the X Factor, impressing paralysed-face judge Danni Minogue with my gyrating pelvis whilst belting out a medley of well-known football chants.

"Everton - wank wank wank!" I went, followed by a charming little number about a former Tottenham Hotspur manager to the tune of "My Old Man's a Dustman", which we on the former Arsenal North Bank like to call "David Pleat's a pervert".

With Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh doing particularly good impressions of goldfish - possibly because I am dressed like the Indian from the Village People, I round off my performance with "What do you think of Tottenham? Shit! What do you think of shit? Tottenham!"

After a brief can't-quite-believe-it pause Simon Cowell eventually breaks the silence.

"Congratulations - you're through to Boot Camp."

Then I woke up, and my pillow had gone.

I am not mad.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Brown Bread: Marcel Marceau 1923-2007

Brown Bread: Marcel Marceau 1923-2007

This autumnal Sunday morning we learned with a little sadness and a great deal of surprise of the death of the legendary mime artist Marcel Marceau.

We thought he'd been dead for years. He's been awfully quiet recently.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Strangers on a train

Mirth and Woe: Strangers on a train

I left school at the age of sixteen. Not because I particularly wanted to, but because my parents were under the impression that our school sixth form - within walking distance of our house - was rubbish, preferring to send me to a college two train rides away.

Every morning, I had to get myself by bike to Twyford station - some two miles from the house - in time for the train to Reading. Providing this train ran on time, I'd make a connection with the 08:32 to Bracknell, and I'd get into town with ten minutes to spare. Ten minutes to leg it through the dreadful concrete shopping arcade and up six flights of stairs to the Science labs.

I left three years later with a Grade D in Physics and two Grade Es in Maths and Chemistry, rather pissing on the entire Bracknell-College-Better-Than-Piggott-School-Sixth-Form argument, which had rather neglected to take into account that the school was not within 100 yards of the nearest pub, and my sodden downfall.

The whole upshot was that I qualified for free rail travel due to the distance I had to travel every day. Naturally, I kicked the arse out of it and used my pass morning, noon and night for whatever reason I could think.

The trip from Twyford to Reading only took about seven minutes, and being on a major commuter route, the trains were nearly always packed to bursting.

From Reading to Bracknell, however, it was a different story. The line hadn't seen any serious investment for years, and with Thatcher running the whole shebang, it wasn't likely to either. The trains were awful, dated antiques, an accident waiting to happen (and, at Clapham Junction, sadly, it did).

The 1950s carriages were comprised of compartments. You got in at one door, sat in a compartment of eight seats, and there was no other way out. Heaven help you if you wanted to go to the toilet. At least when I was caught short, I went out of the window like normal people. The lingering smell proved that not many others did. Or, if they tried, the wind blew it all back in.

It may be warm leaving you, but I can give you my personal testimony that it's freezing cold by the time it is blown back into your face. And the occasion I boarded a late-night train to be confronted with a huge, curled turd on the floor - too late to change compartments - will live with me forever.

These trains also meant that if you found yourself in a compartment with a nutter, you were stuck with them until the next station. The eight minutes from Wokingham to Bracknell, we mused, was just long enough to bump someone off and throw the still-twitching body into a ditch as the railway ran parallel to the motorway.

Judging by the sounds coming late-night from adjacent compartments to ours, couples were using their new-found privacy for other, bouncier pursuits.

The lucky bastards, for I was still pursuing the sexless Debbie Lucas at this point and not having bodily contact with any female flesh at all.

I must confess that these late night trips back from Bracknell and Wokingham pubs had their moments.

Lurching along on our way home one evening, the train ground to a halt at a signal just outside Reading. This was nothing new. One of my hobbies of the time was looking in through other people's windows, and this particular stretch of railway line, passing as it did along the back of a row of terrace houses in one of Reading's seedier suburbs, was perfect.

Nobody, but nobody pulled curtains along that stretch. But then, there's only so many naked men in bathrooms you can take.

We sat there, bored, for about thirty minutes, and it soon became clear that something was going on at the station that prevented our train from arriving. It later transpired that a drunk had fallen onto the line and broken his leg, and it was taking quite some time to switch off the live rail and scrape him up before he got himself killed to death.

I was not to know this, as I relieved myself out of the window.

Then, with a hiss of brakes, another train pulled up alongside us. The queue for the station was so big, they were doubling up, I noted, still the recovering train-spotter.

And there, in their own eight-seat private compartment were a sporting young couple, partaking in the Acts of Venus. Acts which, by the expression on his face, were about to reach their sticky climax. His hairy arse bumped up and down rhythmically, while the young lady looked, by turns, totally drunk and bored out of her mind.

I waved.

I might have shouted a few words of encouragement.

Such as: "Wa-hey-hey!" and "Get in there, my son!"

Actions which were copied by my travelling companions and partners in drink.

They got cross.

"Any chance of sloppy seconds?"

They got raving mad.

Then, we took turns to pee out of the window at them.

They told us we were "fucking dead meat".

"By the look on her face, it looks like you already were," I said, making this particularly witty comeback from the safety of the Public Bar in the Old Devil the following night, shortly before finishing my eighth pint and bowking dry roasted peanuts into a hedge.

These days, we would have filmed it and put it on YouTube.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On the Blue Goldfish

On the Blue Goldfish

Hello! I am Scaryduck Junior and I am excellent.

You might not have heard that I started at a new school at the beginning of September. I am in Year 7 and I am now going to Secondary School and it is massive.

Luckily, my dad went to school once, and he told me about a few things I've got to look out for.

The number one thing is not to be a complete git in the first few weeks, as he says this will mark you out as a git for the rest of your school career. And he should know.

Second he told me to watch out for the Blue Goldfish, for this is a fate worse than death.

Some older boy will come up to you, he said, and ask if you've seen the Blue Goldfish. Then, said my dad, they'll flush your head down the toilet doing big LOLs as you nearly drown.

He told me not to worry, as by the time time I'm fifteen, I'll be asking new Year 7s about the Blue Goldfish myself.

So, when some Year 11 asked me if I wanted to see the Blue Goldfish, I ran away.

Later the same day, I saw the same Year 11 ask some Hufflepuff if he wanted to see the Blue Goldfish.

"Would you like to see the Blue Goldfish, Hufflepuff?" he asked.

"Yes. Yes I would, o Heir of Slytherin," he replied, or something.

Me and my friends Michael and Karem followed as he was led to the boys' toilets. There was a flush and a scream, and he came out soaking wet.

"LOLOLOL!" I said.

"Garbelans!" said the soaking Hufflepuff, "Spargle!"

"LOLOLZERS! I said, again, "Just wait until I tell my dad."

That's me boy.

On Any Other Business

Rikaitch wants the powers-that-be in television to throw all caution and public liability insurance to the wind and bring back the marvellous Takeshi's Castle.

Go on, sign his petition. You know you want to.

A swift Thursday vote-o, having finally got my act together and written some all-new mirth and woe for you. Choose, then, from the following four stories for tomorrow's story:

* Launcher: Not what you think

* The Nature Poo: Exactly what you think

* The Bridge: Guaranteed free of Ann Noreen Widdecombe

* Strangers on a Train: Cannot say the same for this

Vote! Vote me up!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On the Countryside

On the Countryside

Future square meal for the average British family of fourAs foot and mouth disease strikes the wilds of Surrey once more, we are told that - for our own well-being - the countryside is closed.


The countryside - and God alone knows I get to see enough of it on my massive petrol-guzzling commute to work - smells of poo, as does everybody who lives there. I know this for a fact, for I was once forced to live next door to the countryside, where they imported poo specially when they found out it didn't smell enough.

It can stay closed forever as far as I'm concerned.

The last time I left the safe, warm cocoon of my car in the so-called green-and-pleasant countryside I got food poisoning off pie, and was told to "Get of moi land" from some green-wellied bloke who stunk of poo, whose idea of a top-name badge for his car was "Massey Ferguson".

You would have thought that he would have welcomed the extra nutrients provided by my being sick in his hedge, but it just goes to proves there's no pleasing some people.

"But Scary!" you say, "I can see the flaw in your plan. Where will we get our food from if we close down the countryside forever? Answer me that, you dreadful petrol-headed murderer."

Ah-ha! I have an answer to that. A dead clever, very tasty answer.

The only thing the countryside is good for is roadkill. They should do away with speed limits in all rural areas, and let us mow down anything that dares to meander into the middle of the road. Rabbits, sheep, badgers, ramblers, farmers and fox-hunters alike. All game, provided that you scrape it up and eat it.

In fact, we can close down the countryside altogether (thus eliminating the risk of all this foot and mouth, blue tongue, scrapie and all the other hideous diseases that making Farming Today such a riveting listen of a morning), and the human race can live well enough off anything we can peel, ready-cooked from the radiators of our cars.

And once the Soylent Green factory's up and running, we can pave over those pesky graveyards with more windy, high-speed country lanes, freshly stocked with meat.

Arrangements will be made for vegetarians. You'll starve.

Badger pie. Om nom nom nom.

I am not mad.

Edit: The minute I get put in charge of bulldozing the countryside, the first thing I shall do is built a motorway directly to this place.

I am still not mad.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On Complaining

On Complaining

It takes a lot to get me angry, but these people have made me so cross I can barely put my clothes on in the right order. The worst threat of all I have saved for the final line of the letter.

That'll learn 'em.

Dear Sirs

You might remember me as the person who ordered a suite from you four months ago. You may also remember the large deposit we paid, which you have almost certainly spent by now.

Ring any bells? Because we'd really like to have it now.

We are told by your shop staff in your Weymouth branch that we hold the current record for your longest ever outstanding order. If this is the case, do we win a prize?

How about, say, an extra three hundred pounds off the agreed sale price, plus the extended warranty at no charge?

We would, after the chaps from Guinness have been round to verify our entry into their Book of Records, appreciate if you could make some sort of attempt to get our suite to us at some stage this month as, frankly, we are becoming quite sick of sitting on orange crates.

Having said all that, we have been hugely entertained by your endless stream of excuses whilst waiting for our order to be fulfilled.

We were particularly tickled by the fact that your Chinese suppliers were having trouble getting hold of the right colour cows; and that the ship bringing our suite from the other side of the world may actually have been attacked by Malay pirates, or even have taken a wrong turning on its way to Southampton.

In particular, we have been dazzled by your warehouseman's supremely skilled "It's in our warehouse... err... no it isn't" magic trick, a feat he has managed on no less than three occasions, rivalling David Copperfield's disappearance of the Statue of Liberty several years ago as the one-off lucky strike of a fumbling amateur.

We would, in normal circumstances, look forward to further sightings of our suite as it tours Gracelands or gets involved - somehow - with the current Iranian nuclear stand-off, but we'd much rather have it in our living room so we can sit on it with our feet on the dog.

So, sick as we are of this Premier League muppetry, please arrange delivery by the end of next week. If not, we'll be in to collect our deposit, before telling the local paper how awful you are, photographed in your car park pointing wanly at our battered orange boxes.

I remain, sirs, your loyal servant &c,

Duck (Scary)

P.S. I'm blogging this

Monday, September 17, 2007

On sniffing bicycle saddles

On sniffing bicycle saddles

Note pool of mysterious juices on target saddleAmsterdam.

City of canals, donkey pr0n, Anne Frank’s wardrobe and bikes.

Lots and lots and lots of bikes.

For the ardent sniffer of women’s bicycle saddles, this represents the greatest opportunity western Europe has to offer in pursuing this noble and highly competitive art-form.

Indeed, with the Beijing Olympics only a year away, and with the restrictive ban already in force in the traditional university sniffing grounds of Oxford and Cambridge, Amsterdam has the potential to become an essential training ground for British athletes in what will be a demonstration event at the 2008 Games.

Or does it?

While this great Dutch city draws many a novice saddle-sniffer from the UK, undoubtedly drawn in by seedy stag night trips across the North Sea and the hope of the heady aroma of sweating Dutch buttocks, the hard-core followers of the art leave frustrated and broken men from a country that offers so much, but cruelly gives so little.

The problem lies with the otherwise affable, friendly Dutch people, who, it appears, care little for the style, control, damage and aggression that British – and by God - French cyclists aim for. Sacrificing quality for quantity, there are lean pickings for the followers of the saddle-sniffing art.

There is, confusingly for the ardent sniffer, only one kind of bicycle available in the Netherlands, a model crafted from scaffolding poles and tractor parts that looks like something your granny might have ridden, had she been an East German shot-putter.

As soon as the average Dutch shows an inkling for the bicycling arts, he or she is levered onto one of these bone-shakers, last ridden by grand-pappy before his lifeless body was ground up and served to unwary smokers in an Amsterdam coffee shop, and the machine is spray-painted pink to ease identification outside any given Metro station.

Thus, when the Olympic sniffer-in-training spies a likely saddle, still damp with the sweaty exertion of the owner’s ride up the dyke, he is in the awkward position of not knowing who, exactly, last parked themselves on that particular velocipede.

Were they the pert young buttocks of some curvaceous young thing, riding serenely along the cycle-ways chatting to a friend on a mobile phone, scattering unwary pedestrians in her path; or some haggard old bloke called Dirk, on his way to muck out a sewage pipe under Centraal Station, each bump in the road playing merry hell with his already bleeding haemorrhoids?

Who can tell?

This thought alone is enough to drive any trainee athlete into a state known amongst aficionados of the sport as “bat-shit mental”.

On discovering that their intended target is indeed ridden by a nineteen-year-old muscle-bound clog carver from Gaasperplaas, the frustrated sniffer invariably reels away to be sick inna hedge, or onna dyke - whichever is nearer – before vowing never to sniff another bicycle saddle again.

And what a loss this would be to Team Britain’s hopes for Olympic gold.

There are, that warbling bint Melua tells us, nine million bicycles in Beijing. And you can bet your bottom dollar the Chinese have got crack squads out there, sniffing each and every one from morning until dusk, Olympic gold already in the bag.

No National Lottery grant can hope to keep up with that, and Lord Coe should hang his foppish head in shame.

I am not mad.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Fishing

Mirth and Woe: Fishing, and why it is shit

Pagham: As good as it getsPagham.

A post nuclear wasteland near Bognor Regis where people go to die.

Pagham is a place that is completely and utterly dull as far as the eye can see. There are dunes of rough shingle, and a few scrubby plants clinging on for dear life in the teeth of endless gales. There is a nature reserve where everything is dead; and huddled on rough, un-tarmacked roads, a small community of the near-dead that choose to live there. And nothing else.

If a tree grew there, it would only attract suicides, hanging from the lower branches, a smile on their face from the blessed relief of escaping that place.

For some reason it attracts people, presumably put off by the usual south coast tourist traps, who drive up, nose around for half an hour, and then leave, never to return.

Not my father.

Somebody told him there was fishing to be had on the beach and the inlet to Pagham Harbour, and he dragged the entire family down there on several occasions to watch The Mighty Fisherman in action.

Seaweed capital of the world. Or, to my father, world's number one beach fishing venue.

You've got to hand it to him, he was so keen on the fishing thing that he made his own tackle box with built in seat. It weighed, when full, about eighty pounds and took two people to carry the thing. Which is, in retrospect, why we were forced out of our beds on perfectly acceptable Sunday mornings to watch a grown man not catching any fish, ever.

We sat there, for hour, after dreadful hour, casting his bait into the brine, reeling it in, and then spending the next ten minutes pulling all the seaweed from his hook. Then he would cast yet again and continue the entire depressing process.

As you can imagine, sitting on a windswept beach with nothing to do but watch an ever-growing pile of seaweed is nobody's idea of fun, an ordeal made all the worse by the sight of the bright lights of Bognor Regis just a few miles down the coast.

Bugger Bognor? Bugger Pagham. There was, we discovered, one ramshackle amusement arcade. But it was a good half-an-hours walk away staffed by trainee serial killers, the result of several generations of forced in-breeding, the only pastime worth pursuing in such a desolate place.

Depressed, we trudged back to Dad's fishing spot, to find he had moved to a nearby tidal inlet where the catch of seaweed was even more spectacular. Several other fishing types had joined him, casting in their lines and drawing out crap, their bored families sitting nearby, contemplating the joys of self-immolation.

Nigel and I explored a bit, but there's only so much flat, empty, tidal mudflat that a teenager could take, so, resigned to our fates, we trudged back. And there, half hidden in a bit of scrub, we found a drop net.

It was a round hoop with a bit of fishing net stretched around it. You dropped it into the water and a cord, and hauled out whatever swum into it. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, we thought, and Nigel and I took turns at hurling the net into the water and drawing out seaweed. Lots and lots of seaweed.

If anything, we were better at catching seaweed than all the adults put together, and we weren't even using bait.

Then, by some amazing stroke of luck, Nigel pulled the net from the water to find: A fish.

It was, I discovered, the first fish caught in the area since the early 1950s. It was about six inches long, and an ugly face unseen on these shores until the emergence of Jade Goody onto television screens some years later.

As word of our fortune spread, fishermen literally threw their rods to the ground and ran over to see our catch.

"Jesus! It's a fish!"

"It's a whopper, alright."

"Is it dead?"

The admiration didn't last as the green monster of those who had spent several hundred pounds on fishing tackle, only to score the square root of fuck-all noted they'd been outdone by a couple of teenagers with an excitable dog.

"You… you… BASTARDS!"

"I hope it's poisonous, you terrible cults."

We never found out, for Snoopy, never one to miss out on a free meal, elbowed into the crowd, pounced like the only-one-meal-away-from-a-wolf that he was, and swallowed Spiny Dave like a tiny piscine snack.

The food chain can be a bastard if you're a very small, ugly fish.

"That's it! We're going home!" said Dad in a tone of voice that suggested that we would never return, ever, and there would be a ceremonial burning of the fishing tackle before the weekend was out.

We dragged the Great Tackle Box back to the car, piled in and hit the road for home, planning to nuke the place from orbit for the safety of those tempted to follow.

It was a mere five minutes up the road, with Bognor barely in the rear-view mirror, that this story reaches its inevitable climax.

Dog and fish do not go together.

Dog and cursed fish in a car that has been sitting in the burning sun all day are even worse.

"Oh God - the dog's gonna…"


"Stop the car!"


"I can't pull over - there's a…"



"I think he's pissed on the seat, too."

"No he hasn't. It's on me."


"Ground bait, anyone?"

We never returned to Pagham ever again.

Fishing: It is shit.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On Recycling Jimmy

On Recycling Jimmy

The rather excellent author Andy Tilley got in touch, and without hardly bribing me at all, asked if I could plug his new book. Liking our humour as dark as possible, we (and that is the royal 'we') decided to play along.

And here's something he sent me on the subject of bad taste:

‘There’s only two Andy Gorams……’

One of the Andy Gorams, and why he will never father childrenA slight exaggeration I suspect (it’s a common enough name after all and it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that there’s in fact hundreds of ‘em) but nothing particularly awesome about the claim. The reason I mention it here though is that this was the content of a simple football chant, directed at the newly signed Ranger’s goalkeeper by supporters of their arch rivals Celtic. The reason? Well, shortly after joining Rangers FC, the unfortunate (and crap anyway) Mr Goram was diagnosed as having schizophrenia. So the question is, who amongst you (and be honest here because you’re only fooling yourself) wouldn’t have raised a smile having heard ten thousand Celtic fans chanting this abuse as you munched on your meat pie during the warm up? I for one would have choked on the pastry. But is it right to make a joke about someone who has only just found out that they have a potentially life changing disease?

You know, I have absolutely no idea. I mean, what exactly are the rules here? Are there any? This question is something that, as a fiction writer who plies his trade on the darker side of comedy, I constantly have to be aware of. For example, in my first novel, Recycling Jimmy, there’s a passage in which the two heroes are dissecting the bones of a rather tasteless idea, that being suicide for profit. The discussion centres on people’s reaction to catastrophe. The whole scene is driven by the Hindenburg disaster and is at best irreverent (remember the footage of that geezer finally deciding that he couldn’t pull the big balloon back down on his own, but unfortunately waiting ‘til he was 200 foot in the air?). Of course, I’m not the first to take this subject matter and use it to underpin a gag. One of my favourite Simpson moments concerns the almost instantaneous destruction of the Duff blimp after it snags an impossibly high antenna. In this case the punch line is delivered by the crowd’s reaction.

‘Awe man, this is the worst air ship disaster ever!’ they cry.

‘Too fast, too fast!’ they complain.

I’m smiling again now. So where are the boundaries? I’ve laughed twice whilst writing this, on both occasions at some one else’s misfortune. Well, for what it’s worth (and I’m only putting this out there, I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert here) I don’t believe that there are any boundaries in subject matter; bad taste or good taste isn’t really the issue because taste is such a subjective attribute and so can’t be accounted for with any certainty, especially if your trying to write something that you hope will make people in general laugh. No, the issue here as I see it is not taste but tact. Even the funniest wise crack, if delivered with a lack of tact, will wreck a cocktail party quicker than a turd empties a swimming pool. Case in point there, and consider the following passage from a work in progress. In the scene Danny is trying to illustrate pretty much the same point as I am and he tells his friend, Sam, the following joke.

‘There’s these two scousers visiting New York, just after nine-eleven. Anyway, they end up down at ground zero watching the clean up going on. There’s a crowd there but everyone is behavin’, paying their respects an’ that, all stood in silence with their hats removed and held to their chest. Anyway, one of the scousers notices that his mate’s still got his Burberry base ball cap on so he nudges him and tells him to take it off. Well anyway, stood next to them there’s this New Yorker and he over hears them talking. He gently taps the first scouser on the shoulder and says quietly, ‘Gee, boys, I hope you don’t mind me asking but I just happened to over hear your accent there and I wondered where abouts is it you’ve come from?’. The scouser looks him up and down and then whispers back. ‘We’re from Liverpool pal’. The yank thinks for a moment but of course, he doesn’t recognise the place so he asks ‘Really? And what states that in?’ The scouser looks at ground zero then back at the Yank and says ‘Erm, pretty much the fuckin’ same as this pal.’

Now I have no doubt at all that the subject matter of this exchange could be considered wrong on many levels. There is simply nothing funny about the destruction of the twin towers or indeed the level of urban decay that Liverpool is, rightly or wrongly, renowned for. What allows this joke to exist though is its tact, and in this case I mean the frame of reference from which very emotive issues are addressed. There’s nothing nasty about the scouser’s reaction to the place or the events that happened there. Similarly, the American’s innocence excuses him from any blame in his unintentional slur about Liverpool. The result? You're safe to laugh at this one without being labelled a sicko.

Recycling Jimmy - Amazon UK - Amazon US

That is all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On Hotel Porn

On Hotel Porn

Duty trips can be described - like warfare - as long hours of boredom with brief periods of intense excitement. Only, in the main, without the excitement.

I find myself, for reasons of budget, spending long hours in hotel rooms with only CNN for company, trying to find new, legal ways to amuse myself.

On this particular trip to darkest Amsterdam, I have found that by switching rapidly between channels 11 and 14 of my ancient hotel television, I can get the briefest snatch (as it were) of the subscription smut that other, normal, single male travellers might otherwise be paying for.

Quickly enough, and you get a reasonable enough picture to raise a semi as you get to watch two movies at once and witness some bloke getting his pink oboe serviced on one channel whilst a young, excitable young lady gets shovelled from behind on another.

Alas, I can do nothing else, as I am too busy switching between the channels for all I am worth.

Then I give up, and watch The Princess Diaries II, dubbed badly into Dutch. Mmmm... Julie Andrews.

I finally surrender and return to CNN, where Pavarotti is still dead.

What I really need is a hobby of some kind.

Of course, being in Amsterdam, you could just walk the streets...

(I am told by a friend that he once rang down to the front desk to report that the smut channels weren't working. "You're the tenth person to call," said the receptionist, knowing full well that his establishment becoming a seething mass of sexual frustration, "Stand by while I reset you".)

St Ebeneezer's Day

Today is the 12th of September. The Morrisons supermarket in Weymouth is stocking "Festive Chocolate Countdown Calendars" featuring Homer Simpson ("D'oh! Ho! Ho!") in a Santa Claus hat.

This is going to be the best Christmas Walford's ever seen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On getting a result in Amsterdam

On getting a result in Amsterdam

I can, without a shadow of a doubt, lay claim to the fact that I am the only member of our party to have travelled to Amsterdam this week and got his pink oboe well and truly sucked.

Having promised solemnly on the dog's life that I would behave myself whilst working away on business, I am sad to report that one thing led to another, and - you know - these things just sort of happen in the parallel world of International Hotel.

I woke, then, in my hotel room at four in the morning to a high-pitched buzzing that betrayed the fact that I had left my window open.

Switching on the bedside lamp, my eyes soon grew accustomed to the light and settled on the unmistakable features of a smug-looking mosquito. A mosquito parked squarely on my groin, slurping greedily at my most private of private parts.

The, its bolt well and truly shot, it staggered lazily from my trouser parts, settling on my duvet for a quick smoke before returning for sloppy seconds.

So I killed it to death. Killed it to death in the most ironic manner possible - squashed flat with a copy of David Attenborough's autobiography, to leave a rather pleasing blood stain on my bedding that is certain to disgust the cleaners.

It itches.

Oh God, how it itches. But I dare not scratch the lump that threatens to grow into a second bell-end, and the night porter seems unwilling to bring me a soothing ointment for my aflamed genitals.

Fitfully, and following an Attenborough-led death frenzy around my room to finish off my attacker's buzzy friends, I returned to my sleep. And awoke, three hours later, to a familiar buzzing and a murderous itch up my bum crack.

Great. Only in Holland - Bummy mosquitos.

On A. Roddick (Dec'd)

It is a day of mourning at the throbbing headquarters of the Scaryduck Corporation, as we mark the passing of Body Shop guru Anita Roddick who died yesterday.

We owe a lot to Anita, for she was the judge on the Guardian Blog Award panel that called me "better than Jeffrey Archer" and forced a cheque for one thousand of the Queen's pounds into my hands, sentencing me to a life of writing smut.

So: God bless you, A. Roddick, wherever you are. And thanks.

Monday, September 10, 2007

On Travelling

On Travelling

I hate air travel.

This from somebody who has travelled round the world and back as part of his job as boy reporter to the world’s most excellent broadcaster.

I hate airports.

I hate flying, especially - as is the case on this trip - if your plane has propellers to make it go.

I hate all the sitting around, bored out of my skull with only CNN for company.

I hate having to ask for a receipt for everything.

And I hate taxi drivers who make me want to commit murder.

The trouble is that my body knows I hate duty trips, and comes out in sympathy. Not my whole body – just one vitally important part. You know which one it is.

My bottom.

It knows. It bides its time. And then, on the day I am travelling, it strikes.

You can guarantee that come the morning of a trip to the airport I will be squitting through the eye of a needle; and my chalfonts, otherwise benign and gentle creatures, light up like a traffic signal.

They know I will be spending the next twelve hours parked on top of them, and of course, the king-size bucket of Anusol is buried at the bottom of my suitcase.

As soon as I arrive – not a peep. I can eat barely-cooked meat from at least one named animal purchased from even the seediest of street vendors and my innards will behave impeccably. Then, a week later, as I queue for the baggage check-in for the homeward flight, they bubble up and the departure hall is exposed to an explosion of epic proportions.

I would, at this point, like to apologise to the cleaners at Amman’s King Wossname Airport. I’m certain I didn’t eat that much while I was in your country, and I was especially surprised at the tomatoes and the sweet corn. You could have simply varnished over the whole mess and claimed the walls were pebble-dashed. Sorry.

At least I got my money’s worth out of the airport departure tax, and the receipt went to good use once the paper ran out.

I know why my bottom does this. It is evil. It is hoping beyond hope that the day will come when I will be pulled to one side at the Nothing to Declare gate, as some uniformed Nazi with a knowing smile on his face snaps on the latex gloves for a bit of recreational cavity searching.

And woe upon that day, for there will be no winners.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

On Dorset Place Names

On Dorset Place Names

Dorset place names are excellent. I have decided, then, to travel to as many of the more unusually named villages and document them, Diamond Geezer style, for posterity.

No.1: Shitterton

A hamlet of no more than a dozen houses and a single street on the edge of Bere Regis. Handy for Monkey World and the Tank Museum, and the potential "Planet of the Apes" style disaster I have doucumented elsewhere on these pages.

I am told that there was a move by some easily offended old maid at County Hall to change the name of the place to 'Sitterton', but it was roundly defeated by the inhabitants. They are, it turns out, Shitterton and proud.

Coming soon: Sixpenny Cocksucker

Friday, September 07, 2007

Mirth and Woe: The Place Where You Did A Turd

Mirth and Woe: The Place Where You Did A Turd

The autumn of 2001. The world cowers at the terrorist threat of Osama bin Laden and his ilk. Our elected leaders prepare for war in Afghanistan. The Duck family is down in Dorset looking for a place to live.

One of the houses we liked the look of was in the village of Osmington, about three miles to the east of Weymouth, home of the White Horse that Anneka Rice managed to turn grey for a TV stunt. The house was at the end of a cul-de-sac overlooking rolling countryside, and was but five minutes from the beach.

Alas, with a pair of young children, it was totally impractical, as there is no village school with the nearest being some miles away. We didn't like the idea, even when they reached their teenage years, of having to stand on a main road, waiting for a bus, while tourists used Osmington as a race track.

The people who owned the place were a lovely elderly couple, looking to move somewhere smaller before eventually downsizing to a wooden box. They showed us the house in great detail on a tour that I thought might never end, making a real fuss of the kids.

Tea, cake, fizzy drinks, sweets: nothing was too much for them. They were either charm personified, or desperate to get rid of a house they couldn't sell.

With the afternoon fading into evening, the boy Scaryduck Junior posed a question.

"Can I use your toilet?" he asked, stuffing away his third slice of cake.

"Of course you can," the old bloke replied, "you know where it is, don't you?"

So of he went to do his business, as we got ready to leave and view the next house (which was, as it turned out, the place we eventually purchased).

We got half a mile up the road when something struck me.

"Did you remember to flush the toilet? You were pretty quick in there."

He could not tell a lie: "No."

"Was it number one or number two?"

"Number two. And it was enormous."

"Oh. God."

"Like a sea monster, it was."


"I didn't use any paper, either."

"Ah. Eww."

I put my put foot down, and fled Osmington, possibly forever.

Meanwhile, back at the house:

"Weren't they a lovely, charming family."

"Yes... yes they wer... OH MY FUCKING CHRIST!"



Osmington is now known as "The Place Where You Did A Turd", which would read much better in any tourist guide.

The village also has a rather excellent pub called The Smugglers. Or, as Mrs Duck called it in a fit of amnesia: The Bloody Sailor.

And The Bloody Sailor it will now stay, in The Place Where You Did A Turd.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

On the new rules of this blog

On the new rules of this blog

Shit, as they say, has happened, and the world must therefore change.

A fundamental change, as it happens, that will alter the very way I approach this site.

The rules of this blog have now changed, for the fragrant Mrs Duck (who I love dearly) has a brand new laptop and wireless internet connection. It is pink. The wireless is, I gather, not pink.

This means that she now has the time and - God lover her - the means, as my company secretary and all-round protector of my fragile mind, to subject these pages to the kind of rigorous quality control they have lacked for the last five-and-a-half years

There are to be new rules. Tough new rules to which I have gladly agreed, involving the painting of the summer house, and the addition of new shelves in the bedroom.

So - the new rules:

* Anything that happened before today is completely and utterly untrue

* Especially the bit about doneing a poo in the shed

* Actually, anything to do with poo. Or 'egg', which is, face it, just poo in disguise

* Anything I mentioned before today reflecting badly on the fragrant Mrs Duck (who I love dearly) is completely and utterly untrue, or if it were - by million-to-one chance - true, I have been chastised greatly and made to live in the shed for a week

* Rabbits are not, never were, and never will be bummy

* Last weekend was entirely my fault, especially the bit where the dog wiped her bottom on the door mat

* From this day forward, this site will contain nothing but educational, mature and sensible posts about everyday family life in 21st century Britain

Tomorrow's tale of Mirth and Woe, under this newly-sensible regime change will be a sensible little number entitled The Place Where You Did A Turd

So mote it be.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

On things I saw on a particularly eventful trip to work

On things I saw on a particularly eventful trip to work

Like a fool, I decided to attempt driving through Dorset in the wake of not one, but two major agricultural shows this last Monday morning. Every last tractor, fairground ride and steam traction engine in the world was in front of me, doing 10mph on roads with grass growing up the middle.

If Fred Dibnah wasn't already dead, I'd dig him up and kill him to death.

The idea of the Horseless Carriage having not quite reached this particular part of Wessex (there was, until 1987, a man who was paid genuine cash money to walk with a red flag through the streets of Weymouth in front of steaming locomotives), once every Tom, Dick and Barleymow gets their one-sheep-powered pantechnicon in front of your sleek, sexxxy 1996 Ford Escort, you are as good as stuck in Dorset for the rest of the day.

At least, then, you get a good look at the rolling countryside, as it rolls past you very, very slowly.

Things I also saw on my snail's pace crawl through the southern counties of England:

* Norbert Dentressangle - he gets everywhere, you know

* A severed arm

* Dead badger that appeared to be singing "My Way". That is, sadly, what you get if you hold an impromptu concert in the middle of the A35 during morning rush hour.

* An old lady engaged in a particularly animated conversation with a large, burgundy wheelie-bin. Heaven knows what she was saying. Almost certainly not "Where's your wheelie bin?" "I weally bin having a wank."

Rewind a bit. I eventually arrived at a roundabout notorious for its hideous accident rate, to find the emergency services scraping up after a hideous accident involving - seemingly - the remains of a MiG-23 jet fighter. There, I spotted a seen-it-all-before ambulance bloke sheepishly carrying an arm into the back of his vehicle, where he was either going to re-unite it with its former owner, or save it for his lunch.

"Mmmm.... street arm..."

So stunned was I following this epic crawl to work, that when I went to have a lunchtime haircut, I completely forgot to leer up the T-shirt arm-holes of the barbershop lady, who stunk like an ashtray into the bargain.

"Been on holiday this year?"

"To Hell. To Hell."

"That sounds nice."

I might start taking the train again. In fact, tomorrow, I will. And a plane. For I am off to that Amsterdam for a week. Arrangements have been made to deliver your regular supplies of mirth, woe and sick inna hedge.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Condensed TV: EastEnders

Condensed TV: EastEnders

And they said it couldn't be done. The entire 22 year history of television's most cheerful, friendly, gor-blimey-let's-go-for-a-knees-up-in-the-Vic long-running serial. But here it is, boiled down to its bare bones. And as you can see, nothing much has happened, to be honest.

Some people were born. Some died. Some people got called a shlaaaag and got barred from the Vic for a week. Nobody ever got a job or a washing machine, and Ian Beale got his head flushed down the toilet. Can we go home now?

EastEnders - The whole 22 years

R. Cox: Hello, I am Reg Cox, and I am excellent. I hope to have a long happy future in this new continuing drama based in TEH SQUARE and... Oh. I appear to be dead. Arse.

Arthur Fowler: Gor blimey strike a light, poor old Reg, eh?

Pauline Fowler: Never mind, love. Come and have a nice cup of tea. I am not yet bitter, twisted and wizened, and still have a touch of Miss Brahms about me. Give it twenty years or so.

Michelle Fowler: I'm pregnant, and D. Den's the father. LOL

Tucker Jenkins Fowler: And I've got the good AIDS, FFS. Thx for telling TEH SQAURE about it P. Fowler

Arthur Fowler: ONOZ! Mmmmmng! Mnnnnnng! I've gone mental, me. Mnnng! And I have been shagging a woman rather less wizened and bitter than you. Mnnnnng!

Pauline Fowler: Never mind, love. Come and have a nice cup of tea. Oh. He is dead. LOLZ

N. Cotton: Hello Ma. I am Nick Cotton and I am excellent evil. However, I am pretending I am a reformed character while I try to kill you to death for your recent bingo winnings.

D. Cotton: Just wait until Mr Popodopodopododoplous hears about this.

E. Skinner: Ooooh, me little willy! LOLZ *dies*

Pete Beale: 'Ello tweacle *dies*

D. Den: Hello. I am D. Den and I am excellent. I have just knocked up that girl who was in Grange Hill. LOL!

Angie Den: U shlaaag, D. Den!

D. Den: Shut your face, you drunken old harpy. I want a divorce. ROFL

A. Den: You cannot. I am dying. Dying of TEH CANCER!

D. Den: ONOZ!

A. Den: Only joking. LOLOLOLOL! I'm off up West.

D. Den: Oh. I have been shot.

A. Den: This calls for a knees-up in the Vic

Sharon Den: Jowly jowly shlag jowly

Bloke from Heartbeat: tinkle tinkle Every Loser Wins tinkle number one hit tinkle LOL

A. Den: Sod this, you shlaaags, I'm off to get married to B. May out of Queen. ROFFLE *dies*

G. Mitchell: Hello. I am Grunt Mitchell and I am excellent. This is my pub now, shlaaaaaag.

P. Mitchell: It is also my pub and I am buying up most of TEH SQUARE. You're barred, shlaaaaag.

B. Windsor: You tell 'em boys. It's famleeeeee. You're barred, saucy.

I. Beale: Plz to not flush my head dn teh shitta!

P. Mitchell: LOLOLZ @ I.Beale!

I. Beale: ONOZ! *gargle*

P. Mitchell: Also, I have been screwing my bruv's jowly wife. LOLZ


P. Mitchell: Ow. Now somebody has shot me. But it wasn't my bruv, even though I have been shagging his jowly wife S. Den. So much for the Best Christmas Walford's Ever Seen

Spandau Ballet Bloke: Preen preen I was in the Krays, y'know *dies*

D. Den: I am not TEH DED after all LOLZ *dies* Oh

Tucker Jenkins Fowler: Neither am I TEH DED either *dies* Oh



R. Ickeeee: Wot? I am leaving TEH SQUARE to pursue a pop career, which will flop horribly. In doing so I shall also turn down a leading role in a major Spielberg movie. And you thought Ricky was thick

F. Butcher: I wish I was TEH DED. They've got me shagging Fat Pat, who is both fat and orange. ONOZ!

F. Pat: Wobble wobble wibble shlaaaaaaag!

M. McCutcheon: This is going to be the best Christmas Walford's ever seen. Oh. I am dead, and appearing in variety.

F. Butcher: Whoops, sorry there love. *dies*

Slater Girls: Shouty shouty shlaaag famleeee shouty shouty

Little Mo Slater: whinewhinewhinewhinewhine

Little Mo Slater's Evil Scotch Husband: Arf arf arf! Oh. I am TEH DED

Little Mo Slater: Hooray! Now to marry B. Mitchell on the rebound, even though he has a face like a weasel and the most gormless man TEH SQUARE has ever seen

K. Beale: Hello! I left the series several years ago to live in South Africa. Now I am TEH DED, but here is P. Mitchell's dismal son, if things weren't depressing enough as it is. LOL

B. Mitchell: Hello Dad. I hate you. I'm off to live with I. Beale.


Bloke out of Quadrophenia: Ooooooi! Parklife! Geezer! Etc! (Actually, like Spandau Ballet bloke, I am a proper actor, and I am taking this mere mummer's role between treading the hallowed boards in Stratford in one of the Bard's masterpieces. Chin chin!)

Sonia Jackson: Hello! I am M. Fowler's wife, but now I am off to join the lezzers. LOL

M. Fowler: Phwoooooar! I mean... oh, please come back. Even though you've got a face like a melted owl, like.

S. Jackson: OK then.

M. Fowler: Hooray! Just wait until I tell my bitter and twisted hag of a mother that I've done it with a carpet muncher, LOL

P. Fowler: I'm still here and I hate you all. *dies*

P. Mitchell: Now to get married to Mad Stella, even though she's beating my turd of a son to kingdom come, and she's promised me she's not a mental

Mad Stella: I am not mad, you know. Wibble. Fruitloop! Fruitloop! *dies*

P. Mitchell: Whoops.

B. Mitchell: I hate you dad.

I. Beale: LOLOLZ @ P. Mitchell

Dot Cotton: Hello! I am still not TEH DED, and I have outlived everybody on TEH SQUARE, and I have hardly murdered anybody at all to DETH

Dirty Den: I am back again with my ZOMBIE ARMY. Braaainssssss.....

Dot Cotton: Oooh, get thee behind me Satan. *dies*


If you're asking, the other EastEnders thing I wrote is HERE.

More condense-o-films including Doctor Who, Star Wars and Pretty Woman HERE


Monday, September 03, 2007

On unfounded rumours

On unfounded rumours

I was once on the receiving end of a particularly vicious kick to the plums in the school playground.

I still twitch at the very thought of the assault by that bovver-booted buffoon, and remember vividly the taste of the playground and the hooting laughter of my peers that turned to concern when it appeared that I might actually have died.

Instead, a rumour - started by one of my best friends - went round that I'd lost a bollock as a result.

I wouldn't have minded quite so much had I not been accosted by my mother as I emerged from the bathroom one morning a few days later for an unexpected "short arm" inspection.

"Just checking they're both still there" she said.

The bollock doctor at my vasectomy kindly told me that there were indeed two there, and right up to the moment he set about them with a pair of blunt scissors, they were both fully functioning.

"Could you write that down for me, please?"

Have you ever been the victim of outrageous rumour?

Your reward: The epic EastEnders Condensed-o-TV thing. Tomorrow, like.