Monday, November 30, 2009

On writing a letter to Top Gear

On writing a letter to Top Gear

Dear Top Gear

I couldn't help noticing that undertakers these days are getting to drive some really sporty-looking hearses. Like this:

Unfortunately, the poor saps in the funeral industry are limited to 5 mph and never get to have any fun in their pimped-up stiff-wagons with mega-bass sound systems and under-coffin lighting.

You should have a race. And when Hammond wipes out at a nose-bleed-erupting 27 mph, he'd oven-ready for the local crem.

Go on. DO IT. Today.

I am not mad.

Your pal, Albert O'Balsam

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Dawn of the Video Age: A Tale of Mirth and Woe

The Dawn of the Video Age: A Tale of Mirth and Woe

"I'd like to hire a video please"

"Yes, well, we've got a wide choice."

"What do you recommend?"

Our family had joined the video age with the purchase of a top-loading Panasonic VHS machine wth clunking great buttons on the front.

It had cost the best part of four hundred quid, and another forty was blown on two tapes to feed it. One was the good-but-not-brilliant Porridge movie from which I have gleaned my lifelong "Our ordeal is over" line, and the other was blank.

We immediately recorded Jaws on the E-180, and couldn't record anything else until a major pay rise funded some more blanks.

I was, then, ordered to join the corner shop's newly-formed video club and get in some top-drawer family entertainment.

"What do you recommend?"

"What are you after?"

Comedy. If there's one thing that brings a family together - and ours in particular - it is comedy.

"In which case, I've got the very film for you. It's a scream."

Friday night.

We all sat round. Family. Friends. A few guests who had never seen a VCR in operation. Solemnity mixed with a little bit of excitement, all thanks to the magic of Hollywood.

Lights down.

"Fuck you"

"Get the fuck out of here!"

"Fucking fucking fuckity fuck"

"Get the fuck out of here!"

And so on, for 105 fuck-filled minutes.

Lights back up.

A circle of family members, friends and guests, all doing very passable goldfish impressions.

In retrospect, Beverly Hills Cop was a fucking awful choice for a family movie.

"Well. That was pretty fucking poor, wasn't it?"

Elderly aunts, eh? Holding a grudge against Eddie Murphy all the way to the grave.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On gross-out

On gross-out

I hadn't felt too good.

In fact, I felt bloody awful.

Hell of a cold, nose feeling like it had a block of concrete stuck up it.

I was the very definition of “mouth-breather”, for that was just about all I could manage.

Grasping a handful of Kleenex, I decided to give it one final blow before I slammed my head in the oven door.


And out it came.

A pasta tube.

A foul-smelling pasta tube, for I hadn't eaten pasta tubes in several weeks.

What, I ask, have I done in my life for that to happen?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On contract negotiations

On contract negotiations

"Right, that's the contract agreed. We pay you three million pounds on successful completion, and your company supplies us with the computer and delivery system as set out in the requirements documentation."

"Fantastic - all we need are your signatures and the whole transaction is formalised. If you'd be so kind to sign here and...”

“Not just yet. There's one more factor to discuss.”

“Are you sure? Our legal people have been through everything with a fine-tooth comb. It's water-tight. We've jumped through all the hoops and all our ducks are in a row.”

“That's as maybe. Our company's long-standing policy on contracts of this value is to demand a hostage exchange.”

“A what?”

“Oh, it's nothing really. Business being what it is these days, we need to make sure we don't get stiffed somewhere down the line.”

“But... but... what if we refuse?”

“Yeah, they all say that. Look – just give us one of your kids, and we'll hand the blighter back relatively unscathed when you deliver on the contract.”

“And what do I get?”

“A spare room in your house in which Nigel from accounts will lodge.”

“Wait – what – who?”

“Only until our final payment clears. Fair's fair, eh?”

“And what happens – theoretically speaking – if the deal goes tits? Will I ever see Julian again?”

“Stop your worrying – you get to bring up Nigel as your own son-and-heir, while it's the kebab shop for your lad.”

“W... w... w... you don't mean *boilk*”

“Calm down man – they're always after serving staff at the Medina – he'd fit in perfectly.”

“I really don't think this hostage thing is appropriate. We may have to reconsider the whole contract in the light of this unexpected turn of events.”

“Heh. God. Had you fooled – there's no way on Earth we'd demand your son as a hostage for a contract of this magnitude...”

“Well – thank the good Lord for that. You really had me going for a minute...”

“...we'd be asking for your wife and seventeen-year-old daughter at the very least.”


"I like a man who can do business."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On tramps

On tramps

Is it just me – or don't you see tramps these days?

You know – proper tramps. Gentlemen of the road, badgering you for the price of a portion of chips and a flagon of the finest freshly-pressed scrumpy, living like kings of the road in cardboard palaces under the railway arches of our towns and cities.

Characters to a man, a far cry from the modern wino who is virtually indistinguishable from market-stall tracksuit-clad binge-drinking chav.

Their own way of life. Their own secret signals. Their own private haunts in the unwanted, crumbling quarters of town, huddled round camp fires, sharing their tales of the road.

A dying breed – where are they now?

In other news: God, it there ANOTHER kebab shop opening in town? You've got to love that smoky, cider-marinated taste of a large doner and chips.

Actually – that's not a bad idea. I hope nobody's got in before me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On The Liston-Smith Angry Scale to measure angriness

On The Liston-Smith Angry Scale to measure angriness

One of the great staples of television journalism is that of pushing a microphone into the face of an angry person – whose day has not improved since a local press photographer had them pointing at dog turds – and asking "How angry are you?"

The answer - invariably "very" – leaves the viewing public with no idea how angry they are. They might have an anger base line which is really quite angry, and the events on which they are quizzed might have made them only slightly more angry. Or, in rare cases, actually less angry than when they started but still not entirely happy.

So, the finest minds of our generation have come up with the handy Liston-Smith Angry Scale to measure angriness.

Now, when asked the question "How angry are you?" the interviewee can now reply in measured, yet dark tones "Eleven. I am eleven angry" and everybody will know you are celebrity bunny-boiler Katie Price.

The Liston-Smith Angry Scale to measure angriness

0. Not angry at all
1. Disappointed
2. Unhappy
3. Miffed
4. Dismayed
5. Irritated
6. Annoyed
7. Cross
8. Angry
9. Really angry
10. Livid
11. Furious
12. Volcanic

And, added by popular demand by people who know

13. The Silent Treatment
Those with an interest in such things will note that the Liston-Smith scale is modelled on the already existing Beaufort Scale for measuring wind speeds, with "Angry" appearing at Force Eight, where gale force winds would otherwise appear.

When approached with this news, the Met Office were said to be "Force Three Angry – Miffed".

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On selling my soul, yet again

On selling my soul, yet again

It was if an occult hand had reached down and shovelled my pockets with cold, hard cash.

For I cannot lie: those very nice people at Blinkbox have paid me cold, hard cash to say how good their movies-and-TV-on-the-internet website is.

After downloading the new Star Trek movie, the rather brilliant Mr Gaiman's Coraline and some old Doctor Who, the Blinkbox experience arrives on the Scaryduckworth-Lewis Scale of Rating Things for Excellence thussly:

"18/20. Julia Bradbury soaked and windswept after a long wet walk up a mountain" - which equates to EXCELLENT.

And I'm not saying that because they're paying me. Honest.

Oooh: Free Bottom

Friday, November 20, 2009

On the Road to HELL

On the Road to HELL

The more excellent among you may have heard me recount this tale on Radio Five's Danny Baker Show last Saturday morning. This is the full version which I planned to read out had I managed to get a word in...

Bad drivers? Don't talk to me about bad drivers!

Let me recount my trip into an actual circle of HELL. This being, as you might have already guessed, Manchester.

For reasons far too complicated to explain, I got hold of some tickets for a Man United match at Old Trafford. Away end only, you understand, supporting the poor saps who were about to get a lesson in football from the legions of darkness.

The catch being that we had to get up early and drive up from the south coast with a chap called Brian.

I'd never met him before - the whole deal was done through a mutual friend called Geoff - and he trolled up in his Ford Fiesta and we set off, him driving, me reading the map, Geoff in the back offering bad advice.

It was as we headed north that he admitted after covering only about 20 miles in the first hour: "I don't drive on motorways."


He wasn't particularly good at A-roads, either. Or taking my directions, all of which he patently ignored.

I should have noticed this on account of his devious plan of ignoring all road signs that said "M5 NORTH", veering off in the opposite direction as if they were sending his beloved Fiesta over a cliff.

"Turn left here," I said as Banbury disappeared very slowly in the rear-view mirror, followed by a desperate "Left... LEFT... LEFT!!!!!" as he turned right, anticipating a short-cut that would eventually resolve itself Northampton.

At three o'clock switched off the engine, got out and stretched his legs before declaring: "This is close enough."

We were alone in a car park.

A church car park.

A church car park in Coventry.

We had missed Old Trafford by a piffling 82 miles, and we turned round and headed back to Dorset.

We should be home in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On a night in the pub

On a night in the pub

"Good evening, mein host, a flagon of your finest stout ale, if you please."

"Yer what?"

"Guinness. One of Her Majesty's pints, if it pleases you."

"Oh, right."

"And, if you'd be so bold, could you direct me to the secret garden as advertised on the sign outside, for I wish to partake in the last dying rays of this autumnal sun."

"Are you trying to chat me up, gaylord?"

"What? Your secret garden - where is it located?"

"There's no way I'm showing anybody my secret garden, you great wooly wooftah."

"No.. No... The Secret Garden. The one on your sign outside. The one that says 'Secret Garden' on it."

"Oh, THAT."


"It's through there."

"But.. but.. it's an alley full of empty barrels and a dead pigeon."

"Yes. Secret Garden. Tell anybody and we break your legs."

"And a packet of helicopter flavour crisps, my good man."

"Heard it."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Star Wars FACTS

On Star Wars FACTS

Or Lordy! It's another bucket of FACTS - all 100 per cent TRUE FACTS about the galaxy's favourite movie series (and, as it turns out, gay icon). Who knew? Don't look at me, I'm just reporting the truth.

10. Popular droid and gay icon C3P0 is to be replaced in future episodes of the space saga by C4P0, who comes with a 14-inch groin attachment and realistic orifices. He also speaks all known languages, including Danish

9. Unseen footage of popular heroine and gay icon Princess Leia shows that the rebel leader's public hair is styled in her trademark "double bun". The same footage also reveals Jabba the Hutt's groin to be shaped like a shed

8. Popular villain and gay icon Darth "Geoff" Vader was based on former England opening batsman Geoffrey Boycott, who is not a gay icon by any stretch of the imagination

7. The original concept drawings for the Imperial Empire's super-weapon showed there were to be two planet-killing space stations to be called the "Death Bosoms", which were to be destroyed by popular hero and gay icon Luke Skywalker exploding his torpedo between them

6. Space port and wretched hive of scum and villainy Mos Eisley is based entirely on George Lucas's one and only visit to the BNP-voting wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Manchester

5. The costume used for seven-foot tall Wookie and gay icon Chewbacca is sourced entirely from shavings obtained from just one Central London vasectomy clinic

4. Such is his command of the force, Jedi Knight and gay icon Obi Wan Kenobi is able to poo out of anybody's bottom

3. Disappointed at being named as the worst character in the Star Wars franchise, annoyance and gay icon Jar Jar Binks is to relaunch his career starring alongside Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop XXVII

2. Film mogul and non-gay icon George Lucas will continue to churn out new versions of existing Star Wars product right up to the moment medical science allows him to buy a neck

1. Thanks to a dreadful mis-hearing at a concept meeting, 20th Century Fox was forced to junk millions of dollars worth of footage of the cartoon spin-off and gay icon Star Wars: Clown Wars

Bonus FACT: Popular droid and gay icon R2-D2 was originally created as a wanking machine in 1976 sci-fi scud movie "Star Whores". His scenes were dropped, but George Lucas liked the happy finish so much, the rest is cinematic history. Lucas also pulled the name "Hand Solo" from the same flick

Bonus Bonus FACT: The original ending to the movie series had hero and gay icon Luke Skywalker turning to the Dark Side and becoming the Imperial Empire's number one gay icon and wanking machine salesman

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On keeping up with modern technology

On keeping up with modern technology

A couple of years ago, I went round the house of some relatives, to see them sitting at the dining room table with his'n'hers laptops doing their Christmas shopping.

I laughed.

I told some other people, they laughed, and I felt a bit guilty.

Wind forward a couple of years, and our family life is thus:

- Kids told dinner is ready via Instant Messenger ("Wot is it? LOL" - "Spgtti Blgnse")

- Meals going cold while Farm Town harvesting is finished ("But I've got PINEAPPLES!")

- An outright ban on leaving posts on the Facebook wall of any family member ("News for you, Dad - you're not cool")

- Online conversations with people IN THE SAME ROOM ("Turn the telly up LOL", "It's loud enough FFS")

- Threats of actual non-duck flavoured weblogs

- Sitting at the dining room table with his'n'hers laptops doing the Christmas shopping. On Ebay. ("A++++++++++ present, will unwrap again")

I now realise our rels were not weird-cakes. They were early-adopters, years ahead of their time. And if their home is still a living lab of the future, I look forward to my Techno Sofa, just in time for the Olympics.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On crap-o-vision, again

On crap-o-vision, again


You go a whole year without anything truly, truly bad on television, and then two gems come along in a week.

And bugger my luck - I go and miss both of them.

Regular readers know that I'm a big fan of rubbish, and last year's Demons on ITV was a true turd on the otherwise white tablecloth of British television which I thought could never be beaten.

And BANG - two in a week, leaving me scrabbling around for rpeat showings and catch-up services.

The Execution of Gary Glitter - Channel Four

In 2001, Channel Four were brave enough to ignore the ouraged shrieks of the tavbloid press to air the Chris Morris Brass Eye Paedo-geddon Special, a damning indictment of the worst excesses of moral panic. Got 27 minutes to spare? Watch it all HERE

In 2009, the same network brought us The Execution of Gary Glitter, an all-singing, all-dancing mockumentray mixing fiction and genuine talking heads, speculating what might happen if we decided to stretch the neck of Britain's favourite pedalo. The usual suspects: Garry Bushell, Ann Widdecombe, kids in "paedo's are scum" T-shirts, all to a brainless music soundtrack.

I had to skip to the end just to see if it wasn't the long-awaited return of Chris Morris and all a great big joke. It wasn't. They actually meant it.

Channel Four - what have you become?

Top THAT, Rupert Murdoch.

And he did.

Michael Jackson: The Live Seance - Sky One

Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Derek Acorah takes a bunch of Jackson fans to a castle in Ireland (on account of the fact that Jacko once slept there), and attempts to make contact with the King of Pop himself.

And he does, with all-too-predictable, all-too-hilarious, all-too-disturbing results.

Look, just watch it.

The sad fact is that 600,000 people actually watched this tosh. 600,000 people who might actually live near you and have a vote in the next election.

Yeah. We're doomed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

On alien invasions

On alien invasions

They came for us during the Shipping Forecast.

As the sombre woman on Radio Four warned us of gales in Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Cromarty, Forth, Faeroes and South-East Iceland, they came out of the skies to conquer a sleeping nation.

And I saw them. I saw them coming.

"Southerly or southwesterly six to gale eight decreasing four or five, backing south-easterly five, occasionally six later."

Five twenty-two in the morning. And I drive in the dark on the main road toward Bournemouth, over the hill above Tolpuddle and down to Bere Regis.

There, around the long sweep of the dual carriageway, they came through the drizzle.

"Cyclonic five or six, becoming variable four, then becoming southerly four or five later."

Blue. White. Bright. Hanging above the road, sweeping from right-to-left as I drove toward it, right foot on the gas pedal despite knowing that I was driving relentlessly into danger.

And then…

"Northerly five to seven. Rough, occasional rain."

And then, as my wipers thrummed across the not-quite-wet-enough-to-work windscreen, another.

Just like the first, blue, white, illuminated with a deathly glow, hovering with menace just above the road, sweeping slowly across my line of vision as I headed onward, ever onward toward them.

These visitors. These invaders, menace oozing from them as they hatched their plans against humanity, alien markings becoming clear on their hulls, their intention clear. They come not in peace. They come to dominate, destroy.

I tried to scream. To call out. To reach for the hands-free. But nothing. Nothing except:

"And now the forecast for the inshore waters of Great Britain and Ireland. A new low will…"

Then, I breathe.

Keep Left signs.

We are being invaded by brain-eating aliens disguised as Keep Left signs.

You have been warned.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On plugging God

On plugging God

The Church of England, I read, is suffering from a bit of an identity crisis.

So much so that one of its bishops recently stated that the church 'shouldn't try to convert Marks and Spencer customers', but should instead be working to attract the easily-converted masses seen drooling in the aisles of low-rent supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl.

So far, so sane.

It is clear that the one thing organised religion needs is new brains to wash, and what better way of getting hold of them than through the drug-addled world of corporate advertising?

With new rules allowing advertisers to directly attack their competitors, and to do just about anything short of crapping through their letterboxes (it being the only language these curs understand), the way is clear for your local church to engage in a Holy War to poach knee-benders from the heathen house of blasphemy down the road.

Bearing in mind that four-letter abuse is the new black, let's get a few slogans together to help our robed betters get ahead in advertising and promote the virtues of the invisible sky zombie. As a self-confessed deity-curious atheist and serial BLASPHEMER, I feel it is nothing short of my duty:

- I can't believe it's not Buddha

- Goths, Vampires and Freaks! Free actual blood – every Sunday!

- Scientologists! Our magic sky zombie's better than your magic sky zombie

- Scientologists! Guaranteed Tom Cruise-free since 1985

- Catholics! Double your chance of a date. We've got altar girls as well!

- Mormons: Multpile mothers-in-law? You bunch of daft, slack-jawed spackers

- Soap fans! Our God's his own son. Fuck, yeah!

- Atheists! Free beer, money and sex for every new convert*
*May be a lie. We've got a book full of 'em

- Islamists! You bunch of part-timers. Brutally slaying unbelievers for 6,000 years, in ways that'll make your skin fall off like a heathen in a vat of boiling oil

- Jedis! Come to the Dark Side

And if that doesn't get them surging through the doors next Sunday, I'm afraid it's going to be Plan B. And frankly, the Women's Institute isn't going to be pleased.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On getting your hair cut

On getting your hair cut

"So, what'll it be, sir?"

"Short round the sides, long and spiky on the top. I'll have the Jedward cut, please."

"Rock-hard hair gel to keep the spikes up?"

"Oh, aye. That an' all."

Never – NEVER – joke with your barber. It can only lead to one thing: Extreme FAIL.

Can anyone recommend a decent cheap clip joint?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On lunchtime meetings

On lunchtime meetings

I love my job. I love the people with whom I work.


It's got to be said: Who keeps scheduling lunchtime meetings?

I'm a big fan of lunch, finding it useful for things like pie, cake and tea, and not useful for things like discussing Any Other Business and the "Who's going to keep the minutes" stare-out.

It has already been suggested that lunchtime meetings could be avoided with a simple refusal. However, refusal leads to your knees being nailed to the desk, which leads to anger, which leads to The Dark Side. So, I am there, Stare-out King, taking notes on a sheet of paper headed Things to do to People Who Schedule Meetings at Lunch Times.

And here it is, corrected only for spelling and the bits where I crayoned outside the lines.

Things to do to People Who Schedule Meetings at Lunch Times

1. Lock them in a room with a load of killer wasps. Get some action points out of THAT.

2. Plug them into the mains through a badly-wired power-point display. BUZZ-word bingo LOL!

3. Disembowel them with a sharpened clipboard and run their innards up the flagpole in the car park. Try running THAT up the flagpole.

4. Shut their fingers in the lift doors and send it up to the 37th floor. Try helping yourself to the fingerbuffet without having any actual fingers!

5. Wait until they're asleep, then rewire their brain using the Readers Digest Guide to Rewiring Your Home as a guide. Hope you like brainstorming, pal!

6. Stove them to death with the overhead projector and leave their body tied to the lectern pour encourager les autres - No.1 item on the agenda – Can I have your laptop?!!!

Don't get me started on meetings scheduled for a) mornings, b) afternoons or c) any other time of day not specified

I am not mad.

Monday, November 09, 2009

On Movie FACTS

On Movie FACTS

Here's a FACT: Me an' Fanton are finally getting our act together with The Big Book of Condensed Movies, which may well be ready in time for Christmas. 2010. Me = words, Him = pictures. What it needed though, is something to break up the text, and that something is FACTS.

Here are, then, some of our movie FACTS, wihich are 100% of FACT.

FACT! Legendary Disney short "Steamboat Willy" originally had an 18 Certificate and featured a man wearing dungarees coming to fix a fridge.

FACT! Star Wars director George Lucas originally intended to make a cameo appearance in the original movie as the villainous Jabba the Hutt. It was only in the Special Edition when effects technology became suitably advanced that this became possible.

FACT! Stephen Spielberg originally touted smash hit adventure flick 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' as "the ultimate Jewish revenge movie". He will continue with this theme with his forthcoming feature 'Up Your Arse, Nick Griffin'.

FACT! Hollywood megastar and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is known around the world for his catchphrase "I'll be back". However, this came after a number of false starts, his original "Der Strassenbahnhaltestelle meines Onkel is volle Hunden" not capturing the imagination of movie-goers.

FACT! Restored to its original glory, the Elvis classic Jailhouse Rock now features the previously-deleted prison shower scene and the long-lost song 'Soap on a rope (Don't want it up my bunghole)'.

FACT! The original script for the smash hit Brit-com Four Weddings and a Funeral was for a public information film about the dangers of making hoax phone calls to the emergency services, to be aired late-night on BBC2, starring Hugh Grant and a Shepherds Bush slattern.

FACT! Coming next year: Titanic II – The Unsinkening. Leonardo di Caprio's back, and this time he's ANGRY

FACT! Guy Ritchie's putting the finishing touches on his latest movie offering. This time, by way of a change, it's a madcap cockney crime caper starring eminent East End actors Ray Winstone, Vinnie Jones and Wellard from EastEnders called "Shut It, You Slag"

Popular chick flick Pretty Woman is about a kerb-crawler. No, wait... that one's true.

FACT! Having run out of cromulent source material from Ian Fleming's 007 books, producers have been forced to merge several of the master's best-known titles for the next James Bond film: The Spy Who Fingered My Pussy Galore

A poll of influential critics and film directors has revealed 'S Club 7: Seeing Double' to be the greatest movie ever made, romping away from distance runners-up 'Citizen Kane', 'The Seven Samurai' and 'Shaving Ryan's Privates'. "It's S Club magic – only twice as much!" enthused Martin Scorsese.

The world's greatest dinosaur movie is based on an actual vomit-based tourist attraction on an island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides: Jura Sick Park

Saturday, November 07, 2009

On the lovely Debbie McGee

On the lovely Debbie McGee

"So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?"

Original HERE

Friday, November 06, 2009

Mirth and Woe: Making Movies

Mirth and Woe: Making Movies

"She making movies on location / But she don't know what it means" – Mark Knopfler

"This story's told in flashback / Otherwise it makes no sense" – John Foxx

"Hey! They're escaping! Stop them!"

"Halt! HALT!"

The crack of a gun, and I am falling, falling, tumbling over, falling. I hit the ground and I awake.

That dream again, and I am in a room watching my fall on a silver screen. For all that we are is a dream within a dream.

The story, flashback.

"Look what my dad's given me, cried next-door neighbour Matty, eyes wide with excitement.

It was an old, wind-up 8mm cine camera.

"We found it in the loft. There's LOADS of unused film, too."

A no-brainer of a decision – we would make a movie – an epic movie- which would be sent with all dur solemnity to Michael Rodd on BBC's Screen Test and we'd win a prize. Win a prize, and get on the telly.

At the time, Matty's dad was building a granny annexe on the side of their house, and their massive garden was a maze of trenches. There was also loads of mud, a builder's shack and a tower of scaffolding.

Our film could have only one title Bob the Builder: Lust for Glory Escape from Colditz.

A script was knocked out, and my big sister, sensing cinematic glory and a chance to get on the electric telly, knocked us about until we let her be the director. Lacking any actual acting skills (mostly decided by the fact that I looked neither English nor German), I was given the job of cameraman.

"Don't mess it up, spacker," the director told me. Oh hark at Spielberg.

Early filming went well. Matty and my brother were superb in their roles as the two men breaking out of the builders' privy prison camp, and John from down the road oozed menace as the sadistic Nazi guard.

And finally, the money shot. The final climactic scene as the airmen kill their guard, bust our of the Colditz shithouse, dodge the sentry's bullets and make their rush for freedom.

All this was to be shot from the top of the scaffolding, a beautiful panning shot taking in the majestic sweep of the prisoners' escape.


"Hey! They're escaping! Stop them!"

"Halt! HALT!"

"Take that, Fritz!"


The lines were spoken, the shots were fired. It was to be a silent movie.

Which was probably a good thing, as the microphone would only have picked up the sound of cameraman getting his legs tangled in the tripod, losing his balance and falling ten feet, arse-over-tit into a foot of mud.

For the record it went something like this:

"Wha... Whoa... Waaaaaaaaaaaaaargh... Whulp"


Then I was sick inna hedge.

And that was, as they say in the movie business, a wrap.

Matty's dad had the film developed. It was RUBBISH.

Rubbish apart from my bit, which rocked.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

On recycling

On recycling

To the local rubbish tip to dispose of a few items surplus to requirements, and to mooch around Cheapskates' Parade for a couple of freebies.

Clutching my ill-gotten golf bag to my chest (and discovering from a rapidly-spreading green stain why, exactly, it had been dumped in the first place), I bump into our local beat officer, PC Jackson, struggling toward the household waste skips.

There is the briefest flicker of horrified recognition as I greet him – for being identified in mufti is the greatest fear of the law enforcement officer – and I offer to help heave three large, mis-shapen black plastic sacks into the abyss.

He knows what I'm thinking.

"It's not what you're thinking," he says at length.

I raise an eyebrow, quizzically.

"I should think not," I reply, "Carved up bodies should go in with rubble and hard core."

"Ha ha ha"

"Ha ha ha"

"Ha ha"

"Ha ha ha ha ha hahahaha ha harrrrgh. No, really – it's NOT what you think."

An opportunity.

"Five hundred quid."


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On old wives tales

On old wives tales

An old wife, recentlyIn which I use SCIENCE and FACTS to debunk myths, tittle-tattle and Daily Mail columnists

No.1: "A watched kettle never boils"

What a load of garbage. A watched kettle ALWAYS boils.

In fact, I have lost count of the times (but in the region of three) that I have watched a kettle in rapt attention to see it boil merrily away in a puff of steam and a little kettle dance, before pouring out to make a lovely cup of tea.

On the other hand, SCIENCE and FACTS prove that an unwatched kettle may not reach the boil, if, for eg, there is a power cut, caused by old wives leaving their hair straighteners plugged in.

Actual EVIDENCE goes further to prove that an unwatched kettle will NEVER reach the boil if you turn you back on it for five seconds, only to find that some cur – quite possibly an old wife - has stolen it, left it in the road outside, and watched with tears of laughter streaming down her wizened old face as it is run over by a passing steamroller, leaving only a big, flat kettle shape in the road, never to boil again this side of our universe's inevitable heat death many billions or years down the line.

The shy, unassuming SCIENTIST is left with cast-iron proof of his hypothesis, but no cup of tea.

SCIENCE 1-0 Old Wives

Old Wives: Leave our precious kettles alone and get back to Naughty Over Forty, where you belong.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

On Shopping

On Shopping

Pound Shop Guy: Can I help you sir?

Me: Do you, by chance, sell Rohypnol?

Pound Shop Guy: Why, yes. Yes we do.

Me: Excellent! How much?

Pound Shop Guy: (Sigh) If I had a penny for every time somebody asked me that question, I'd have enough money to buy a gun and shoot you dead.

Me: Well? It's an emergency.

Pound Shop Guy
: 50p.

Monday, November 02, 2009

On not getting visited by TV's John and Edward, who must die

On not getting visited by TV's John and Edward, who must die

Friday. Home time. Relax time. Leave-me-alone-you-bastards time. What I don't need is...

*ding dong*

"Gooooood evening, sir!"

People who use that many 'o's in 'Good evening' are clearly marked for death, and I shall make it my business to tell them.

I flick on the porch light to find myself confronted with a pair of almost identical suited young men clutching clipboards.

Slightly too smart; slightly too much gel in their hair; slightly too many exclamation marks on their name tags; far too pleased with themselves.

They can be only one of two things – X Factor annoyances John and Edward (who must die), or...

"Gooooood evening, sir! Have you considered changing your telephone provider?"

"Thank fuck for that. I thought you were Jehovah's Witnesses


"Stop looking like Jehovah's Witnesses, you might scare people."


"Stop looking like John and Edward (who must die), you might end up dead."


"I'll sign anything. Now bugger off."