Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekend Video: Smashing Pumpkins - 1979

Weekend Video

Smashing Pumpkins - 1979

Well, this is quite good in a sounds-a-bit-like-the-Manic Street Preachers kind of way, isn't it?

Friday, July 29, 2011

The inherent sexism of store loyalty cards

The inherent sexism of store loyalty cards

So, there I was in a branch of a major chemist chain (which shall remain NAMELESS) and I became aware that the shop staff will only ask female customers if the possess a loyalty card.

I am a man. AM I NOT LOYAL?

This happened as I attempted to buy a tube of Anusol toothpaste:

Assistant: "That'll be £5.99 madam. Have you got a Boots Advantage Card?"

Customer: "Why, yes. Yes I have. It's in my purse somewhere..."
Five minutes later...

Customer: "Ah! Here it is, in my purse. Well, well."

And so it is my turn:

Assistant: "That'll be £1.99, sir"

Me: "Aren't you going to ask me if I have a Boots Advantage Card?"

Assistant: "Err.... Have you got a Boots Advantage card, sir?"

Me: "No, I have not, for my loyalty lies elsewhere."
That told her, exit stage left.

And don't get me started on the Superdrug Beauty Card. AM I NOT BEAUTIFUL?

Thursday, July 28, 2011



In these days of rolling news channels and constantly-updated news websites, there is a never-ending race to be the first to report a news story.

"BREAKING NEWS!" they shriek, letting the viewer or reader know that they are on the very cutting edge of the day's agenda, and that they have not missed a thing.

Alas, the words "BREAKING NEWS!" are overused. While they were once the sole domain of politicians resigning or the indicator that some tragedy had befallen foreign shores, "BREAKING NEWS!" now covers anything from the appearance of the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse over Downing Street to a cat getting stuck up a tree in Hertfordshire.

Worse than that, I have seen the BREAKING NEWS! Caption hours, even days, after a story has actually broken, reducing it to a mere punctuation announcing that some news story - however old - is to follow.

So, I suggest a new vocabulary for news editors which will make the news exactly 135 per cent more funner.

Yes, feel free to keep using "BREAKING NEWS!", but only when the story has actually broken.

Then, once the initial breakingness has subsided, leaving nothing but shock and surprise, how about switching over to "HOLY CRAP!", or, if space permits "DIP ME IN DOGSHIT!" in much the same way that The Onion reported on the moon landings

Other BREAKING NEWS! replacements may include:

HOLY CARP! - All your breaking news from the world of fish

SPANG! - For stories in which somebody is hit in the face with a frying pan

- Sports, the longer the "GOOOOL", the bigger the story

FOOKING FOOK! - Gorsdon Ramsay news alerts

CH-CH-CHING! or CASHBACK! - Financial news

THAR SHE BLOWS! - Reserved for made-up stories about Katie Price, Kerry Katona, or the cast of The Only Way is Essex

I am certain there are more. Help a man out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dragon's Den

Dragon's Den

Beauty is entirely subjective, so it is entirely out of order of me to comment on the looks or otherwise of new Dragons Den star Hilary Devey.

So, here's a video instead, in which one might decide for oneself.

According to her publicity bumpf, multi-millionaire entrepreneur Ms Devey "completely revolutionised pallet logisitic deliveries in the United Kingdom."

Who are we to argue, especially if by "revloutionised" she meant "replaced with winged monkeys"

The more un charitable would go as far as saying that she arrived in seven crates, and was put together by a drunk bloke on a fork-lift truck. On a Friday afternoon.

But that would be completely out of order.

Which it is.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Duck vs Tesco

Duck vs Tesco

Don't talk to me about internet shopping.

Don't you just hate it when they turn up and half your order is substituted with something else?

You wait two days for your shopping arrive and you get: "Sorry sir, we didn't have any luxury toilet paper, so we've given you ten sheets of assorted sandpaper instead."

And then they say "Is that OK?"

And you always say "YES", because even sandpaper up your bum is better than actually leaving your home and to buy bog rolls.

Who decides what you get in these cases? Is it some kind of raffle? Or a dare?

"We didn't have any organic cauliflowers, so here's [Shakes lucky eight ball] a freshly butchered mountain goat"

I reckon it's the only chance they have of being creative, so they utterly go for it.

This can be the only reason this happened to me. And I quote:

"Sorry sir, we didn't have any Sensodyne toothpaste, so we've given you a pack of Tena Lady pads instead."

I am agog.

"Is that OK?"

"Of course, it's OK. Can't you see I'm pissing myself?"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Duck vs LinkedIn: Part the Second

Duck vs LinkedIn: Part the Second

I've been trying to get out of LinkedIn, the social networking website for suits and arseholes for some time now.

I've been through the account settings on numerous occasions, clicked through the "Delete Account" mechanism, only to find - days later - a stream of LinkedIn emails in my inbox.

So, I give it one final go.

Why, they ask, as I click on Close Account yet again, do you want to leave LinkedIn?

So I resort to begging: "Just let me leave. PLEASE. I'll give you any money"

And it is done.

Then, two days later, the tell-tale ping on my Blackberry (the ponce's phone of choice) that I have new email.

Subject: LinkedIn - Updates from your connections.


Time to break out the tactical nukes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

London 2012 Storytellers: It has begun

London 2012 Storytellers: It has begun

If you're interested (and I KNOW you are), my first BT Storytellers photoblog is now live on the website:


It has words, but most of all it has lots and lots of photos, many of which spur my desire to lose a metric shedload of weight before the Games open next year, because while I was in awe of Daley Thompson, I look like Daily Pie.

And because I'm that sort of person, if you like what you see on the photoblog, click "Like". Love me, people, LOVE ME.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Supermarket sweep: A Tale of Mirth and Woe

Supermarket sweep: A Tale of Mirth and Woe

I had a weekend job at a (since closed) supermarket in Reading, and being the new boy I was often sent out into the multi-storey car park to bring back the trollies. Worst job in the world, as the lifts stunk of piss and was once propositioned by a mad old granny, causing me to flee - FLEE! - for my very life.

The only good thing it had going for it was that at 6pm every Friday night, you could stand on the roof of the car park and watch some bloke in the office block opposite shagging his cleaner over his desk.

BUT! My boss, the portly Mr Oliver, was a competitive sort, and his main competition was Sainsbury's round the corner. Sainsbury's was always packed, while our low-fi establishment was dying on its arse. But he had a plan, which he made clear to me on Saturday morning in a dark corner of the stock room:

"Scary lad - when you get the trollies today, I want you to do something else."

"What's that, Mr Oliver?"

"I want you to take every Sainsbury's trolley you can find, and hide the the bloody things"


"Extra tenner."

I hid them in the private car park in the basement, where all the tramps slept. Our not-so-super-supermarket was closed within a year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are faith healers charlatans? Part the second

Are faith healers charlatans? Part the second

So, after my brush with a roaming group of faith healers the other weekend, I decided that I should, perhaps, get up close and personal with the touchy-feely-preachy buffoons.

There they were, in the town centre of a Saturday afternoon, day-glo flags, comfy chairs, little cushions and great big beards, stalking the bit of pavement outside Nat West for victims.

I would, I decided, be one of these victims, and walked past three times - once with a pronounced limp and speaking in tongues - until I was noticed, flung into a chair, and prayed over.

Prayed, good and hard.

Now, here's a hint:

When they have quite finished their bonkers little ritual, DO NOT jump out of your seat and scream "PER-AAAAAISE THE LOOOORD!"

Neither should you run up and down shouting and dancing "HALLELUJAH! PRAISE HIM! PRAISE HIM! I CAN WALK! I CAN DANCE! PER-AAAAAISE HIM!"

This is because they will tell you to fuck off in a most unchristian manner.

And I've still got this windy bottom. Q E bloody D.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On the use of half-starved leopards in the Crown Court system. Also: Politics

On the use of half-starved leopards in the Crown Court system. Also: Politics

Show a wild animal fear, and it could be the last thing you ever do.

A half-starved leopard, for example, will detect the merest whiff of sweat from its victim, and will hunt it down like an elderly wildebeest devouring the flesh in a shower of blood, gore and freshly-butchered meat.

That is why I am suggesting that half-starved leopards - of which there are many after the politically-correct do-gooder brigade shut down all the circuses - are used in courts of law, where fear and lying cower the dock like a small, frightened cowery thing.

For example:

"Well, Mr Chavverton, we put it to you that you consumed an excess of alcohol that evening, and picked on Mr Victim at random, beating him to an inch of your life for your own depraved gratification and the chance of a knee-trembler with an easily-impressed velour-clad tart round the back of the British Legion. What do you say to that?"

"Shut yer maarf, I never done nuffin"
WOOOMPH! Also: A shower of blood, gore and freshly-butchered meat

Silence in court, next case please.

If successful, the plan could also be tried out in the world of politics to ensure that the highest standards of probity and honesty are maintained.

"Would the Prime Minister confirm that he knew nothing about this scandal, and that he is entirely innocent of the accusations that cover the front pages of all this morning's newspapers, except the Daily Star?"

"Why, yes. I would like to make it absolutely clear that I have never met Ms Bosoms, and on no occasion did I give her an envelope filled with used twenties from the Downing Street cake and booze fun, and..."
WOOMPH! Also: A shower of blood, gore and freshly-butchered meat

Order! Order! And a by-election.

Half-starved leopards: I think you will find they are the way forward. Jeremy Kyle, take note.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Oh, hello!"

"Oh, hello!"

There is nothing - nothing - worse than getting caught up in somebody else's in-joke. Apart, perhaps, from coming home to find Yoko Ono wiping her arse on your curtains. But getting caught up in an in-joke is nearly as bad.

And school teachers are the worst:

"Here, Coleman", said Mr Wilko hardly able to hide his mirth, "Take this message to Dr Jenkins next door."

"What message, sir?"

"This: [posh voice] 'Oh, Hello!'"

[rolls eyes] "What? Again? That's the third time today sir."

There is a knock on the door.


In walks Simon from the class next door. He looks nervous.


"Message from Dr Jenkins, sir."


"It's... It's... [posh voice] Oh, hello!"

A roar of childish laughter can be heard from the classroom down the corridor.

"You still here, Coleman?"

And they dare to call ME mad.

Monday, July 18, 2011



Millions of Harry Potter fans all over the world are sad that the epic saga of the boy wizard is now over following the release of the eighth and final movie.

But is it really all over? Could there - by chance - be some way of rebooting the series to bring back the magic in a way which is in no way a complete rip-off?

Yes. Yes there is.

Dear JK Rowling,

Congratulations on your popular Harry Potter book series! I know you are busy having money fights with Bill Gates, Richard Branson and select, non-chavvy lottery winners, so I've made a start on Book Eight for you.

Here we go:

It is eleven years after the events of the original series, and the robots in the future have decided to send another, more powerful Voldemort T1000 back in time to kill off the boy wizard Harry Potter and thus win the war.

However, the rebels have also sent back a reprogrammed Voldemort T-800 back in time to protect Harry, and they get the old gang back together again to battle this new menace.

But first, they've got to bust Hermione out of the Azkhaban mental hospital, after she woke up screaming one morning following the awful realisation that she actually married Ron Weasley.

Over to you, JK. All you've got to do is add all the Famous Five guff and you're done.

Your pal

Albert O'Balsam
This time next year, Rodders...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In which your author gets inside the Olympic Stadium

In which your author gets inside the Olympic Stadium

They don't just let any old hooligan, lolly-gagger or ne'er-do-well inside the Olympic Stadium, you know. And still, they let me in.

And Daley Thompson. DALEY THOMPSON, everybody!

It's very nice, you know. And big. Very, very big.

And what do you do when you get let inside the Olympic Stadium? Have a race, that's what.

Eat our dust Usain so-called Bolt!

More on my Flickr stream.

And even more on the BT Storytellers website, who organised the whole event, and are kindly letting me run a London 2012 photoblog on their site.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekend Video: Alistair Coleman Live at the BBC (Staff Social Club)

Weekend Video

Alistair Coleman: Live at the BBC (Staff Social Club)

Got eleven minutes to waste? Burning desire to watch a fat bloke with a bad haircut delivering perfectly average stand-up comedy? THEN YOU ARE LIVING THE DREAM

WARNING: Contains traces of poo, sheds, poo, rubber johnny machines and a fat bloke with a bad haircut delivering perfectly average stand-up comedy

Friday, July 15, 2011

On the futility of television soap operas

On the futility of television soap operas

Twenty years! Twenty years of living with a woman who made me watch Emmerdale every single night! Twenty years!

Then, my marriage on the rocks, I move to a flat where my new flatmate's guilty secret is his love of Britian's fourth favourite soap opera. Every. Single. Night. Forever.

So, imagine this recent text exchange with the ex:

Me: "OK, when's a good time to call you and discuss something?"

: "About 7pm."

Me: "7pm? Won't you be watching Emmerdale?"

Her: "I don't watch it any more. It's gone rubbish."

If I wasn't already divorced, I'd get a divorce.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On Lulworth Cove

On Lulworth Cove

I went to Lulworth Cove recently. Seven quid fifty pence of The Queen's Pounds to park. Yeah, about that...

Dear the Lulworth Estate

As a recent visitor to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, I really ought to point out something that is missing from the whole experience.

You see, after paying £7.50 to leave my car in a field for the day, I expect - at the very least - a cavalcade of fun throughout the entire day.

Instead, there were no clowns to punch, no escalator to nowhere that claimed the lives of unsuspecting coach parties full of pensioners, and it rained for the whole afternoon. And - sadly - it wasn't even a RAIN OF PIRANHA FISH, devouring those too slow to amble to the shelter of the public toilets.

In short, Lulworth, I paid for LULz and I got no LULz.

Hardly what you'd call LUL WORTH, eh?

Sort it out you planks.

Your pal,

Albert O'Balsam
And don't get me started on Giggleswick

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A bit of an announcement

A bit of an announcement

Ladies and Gentlemen (but mostly ladies), as from 10am this morning, I am divorced. THAT IS ALL.

In other news, it's entirely amicable, so I could do without snarky and/or sympathetic comments. I dare say I will survive --- if only there was some song that could express this sentiment.

Normal service returns tomorrow

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The mouth-watering combination of pork products and fruit

The mouth-watering combination of pork products and fruit

"So," I said, as the buffet spreads out before me, "can I have one of those Pepperami sticks?"

Mmm... tasty, tasty meat-based snack.

"Oh," she said, "It's not Pepperami."

My disappointment is palpable, for there will be no tasty, tasty meat-based snack.

"It's like Pepperami," she concedes, "but fruit flavoured."

I am disgust.

"Fruit flavoured? FRUIT FLAVOURED? What fresh BLASPHEMY is this?"

She tells me. Strawberry-flavoured meat-based blasphemy.

I try some.

Sick came up. Meaty-fruity sick.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On playing to a tough crowd

On playing to a tough crowd

My former arch-nemesis Tired Dad (sorry pal, don't blame me - blame the Dalai Lama) recently noted:

"Never try to be 'witty' in a chemists'. They really don't approve."

I thoroughly concur. Whilst the use of humour on the captive audience that is the till operator in most shops can only be encouraged in order to lift these poor wretches out of the drudgery of their everyday working lives, there are some establishments which are clearly off limits.

As Mr Dad found out, the chemist shop is clearly one of these places. And, as I found to my cost, is the receptionist in my local dentist surgery. After the usual name, rank and number shenanigans, we got down to business and - so I thought - japery was in order

Me: I'd like to cancel my appointment next week

Her: Right you are

Me: I've got this meeting with Lord Coe, you see. Me and Sebby go way back

Her: (Unimpressed) Right, that's cancelled for you

Me: In fact, Bowie warned me about being a namedropper.


Me: Jagger agreed with him


Me: And the Chief Rabbi

Tough crowd, dental receptionists. Tough crowd.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Weekend Video: Lykke Li - Sadness is a Blessing

Weekend Video

Lykke Li - Sadness is a Blessing

Look, I don't know how to work this thing. Just skip to 1:40 for when the music actually starts. Or don't, even. Wow.

As Mark Radcliffe said on the electric radio the other day: "She actually means it, doesn't she?"

Friday, July 08, 2011

Book Review: Walk the Lines - The London Underground, Overground by Mark Mason

Book Review: Walk the Lines - The London Underground, Overground by Mark Mason

The package arrives. I tear it open, and head straight for page 173 via the index.

"It’s all Le Pain Quotidien, design stores called OKA, beauty salons offering Purity Facial Rituals from the Thalgo range."

Yes, it's a book about the London Underground, and the author's in Parsons Green. If you didn't know, I'm from Parsons Green, and that particular bit of the capital has gone right uphill since I left.

I fully expect any Londoner who gets their hands on the book to do exactly the same as I, before heading to the bit about their favourite football ground.

How, then, did I come to this moment?

---- Wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey ----

It is my very good friends at Random House again, asking if I'd like to review another book.

"Why, yes. Yes I would. What's it about?"

"It's a social, historical and geographical of the capital in which..."


"This bloke's walked the entire Underground network and written about it."

"Oh, right. He must be mental. Is it any good?"

---- Wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey ----

Actually, yes. Yes it is.

Mark Mason has, for reasons that are not entirely clear, but make actually be "to write a book" walked the entire length of the nine (having no truck with the DLR and Overground imposters) London Underground lines. Along the way, he's picked up the odd few hundred pages of observations, chunks of history, trivia, and a fair few eavesdropped conversations.

Of course, this falls square into the travelogue-coming-as-the-result-of-a-pointless-challenge category, of which there are many examples of varying quality. I might be as bold to say that this falls into the high end of the genre, and rightly so.

Yes, even at 370 pages, some stations get the merest of mentions before being left in the walker's tracks, but in a challenge of this magintude that is hardly suprising. But Mason really knows how to get on the right side on this reviewer. Page 273, for example, on the Picadilly Line: "Round the corner, heading for Holloway Road, I pass Arsenal's huge new Emirates Stadium. As at Stamford Bridge on the District Line, there are tourists taking pictures, but unlike Chelsea's ground, this one has real character, a behemoth with beauty."

GOOD MAN. And on those lines alone, I urge you all to BUY THIS BOOK.

But if you're still not sold , let me tell you that it's full of fascinating stuff that you never knew you never knew. For example, you'll find out why a young Desmond Tutu wondered the streets of Golders Green, asking policemen the time; and about Karl Marx and his binge drinking shame, in with the shackles of proletariat oppression were probably well and truly puked all over, coming to the next morning, face down on Engels' floor, diced carrots in his beard.

Also, it's a book that namechecks a Johnny Cash song in its title, and if you can get away with that, you can get away with anything.

Walk the Lines is released upon an unsuspecting nation on 14th July.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Tiring of the single life

Tiring of the single life

So, I thought I'd take a look at online dating. There's some lovely people there. Lovely. But, every so often, you click on a link and...

Next big idea, please.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Green smoke coming from the kitchen

A crisis hits the bachelor pad kitchen as your humble author attempts a red-hot chili con carne, but runs - figuratively - into a brick wall.


I have, it appears, forgotten to buy the tinned tomatoes. Indeed, the only tomato-based product I have is a gallon drum of Iceland own-brand ketchup, which may or may not have been wafted within six feet of a tomato plant on its way from factory to shop.

"Why not," says my EXCELLENT flatmate, pointing out a half empty jar in the fridge, "use that? It's just tomatoes, after all."

It is a jar of Dolmio.

"Are you MAD?!" I fume, "This can only end in one thing: BLASPHEMY."

And in goes the BLASPHEMY SAUCE, and I have invented CHILI CON DOLMIO.

And hours later, as my room is filled with an explosive mixture of gasses, I mull: Is it wrong to fancy the freakishly thicked-lipped but oh-so-curvy Sophia from the Dolmio adverts?

Answer: Yes. Yes it is.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

On council estate chavs rutting away like monkeys in a zoo

On council estate chavs rutting away like monkeys in a zoo

Now that I am a single man, my flatmate and I have taken to watching the kind of quality television that all sane people interested in the socio-economic make-up should be watching, viz: The Jeremy Kyle Show.

After many, many hours of watching this pinnacle of the televisual arts*, a never-ending cavalcade of unwanted pregnancies, drugged-up unemployables, and council estate chavs rutting away like monkeys in a zoo we have come to the following conclusion:

Everything on the programme is all the fault of council estate chavs rutting away like monkeys in a zoo. And if we can stop the council estate chavs rutting away like monkeys in a zoo then we have stopped Jeremy Kyle altogether.

And here is our plan.

Everybody likes a cup of tea, and by everybody, we also mean those council estate chavs rutting away like monkeys in a zoo, who need something to drink when they're not rutting, that isn't Special Brew. And by putting bromide into teabags, then they won't feel much like rutting and may instead burn all that excess energy finding a job, or mugging old ladies.

But we don't just go putting bromide in any old tea. Oh no - it just goes in the Tesco Value tea and equivalent "I Can't Believe It's Not Quite Tea" from other equivalent budget supermarkets, so rutting is kept to a minimum.

Then, we pay a discrete visit to the Twinings factory and spike their entire supply with Viagra, so the only rutting done in this country is by clever people, like you and me. And God knows I need it.

Sure, it's not a million miles from what Adolf Hitler was trying to do, but it is for the GREATER GOOD. Also, I might get laid off it, which can't be all terrible.

I am not mad.

* Actually, it's shit

Monday, July 04, 2011

Are faith healers charlatans?

Are faith healers charlatans?

This week's BBC Sunday morning religion and morality programme asked "Are faith healers charlatans?"

The answer, of course, is "Fuck yes".

Coincidentally, I was in town the previous morning, where a group of earnest men with beards, joined by a number of earnest women also with beards, had set up a row of chairs and a bunch of flappy banners, inviting passing shoppers for FREE FAITH HEALING.

I've seen these people, and people very much like them, in town centres around the south of England of a Saturday morning, in what appears to be a growing trend.

Frankly, I'd rather pay my taxes into a National Health Service that provides FREE SCIENCE-BASED HEALING, but a free show's a free show, and it wasn't long before they were laying hands on the easily-impressed in what was - and let us be perfectly clear - a one-to-one advert for their Invisible Sky Zombie who loves you enough not to kill you if you believe in him.

I think - by now - you know which side of the fence I am on.

Presently, a middle-aged man sits amongst the beards. One lay on hands, speaking to him gently, the words are not clear to the interested spectator, although he is being urged to open himself up to Our Lord etc etc. Then a second beard, closely followed by a Mrs Beard. Then the man bursts into tears, and there is much satisfaction.

They see a rescued soul.

I see a vulnerable man exploited.

They see a man healed.

I see fakery.

TV's Derren Brown saw what is quite possibly the same bunch the following day, posting on his Twitter feed: "Sadly a bunch of 'healing Christians' in Reading town centre doing the leg lengthening trick and others shown in Miracles For Sale. Sheesh"

Nothing but homeopathy for the mind, and that doesn't work either.

Update @ 9pm: I have received, as a result of this article, proper BASH AN ATHEIST abuse from a so-called Christian, because his deity is an all-forgiving deity. I feel as if I have joined some sort of exclusive club.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Weekend Video - The Farm: All Together Now

Weekend Video

The Farm: All Together Now

FACT: This record was produced by Suggs out of Madness and contains a sample of the Sid Vicious version of "My Way"

Friday, July 01, 2011

On Riot Control

On Riot Control

Another summer of cuts to public service, and that means - sooner or later - the people are going to take to the streets to vent their anger against the government.

It's sad, then, that these affairs tend to turn nasty, public property gets smashed, and perfectly innocent people get their heads cracked open by police batons. This, I am sure you will agree, will not do. Time, I think, to renew my acquaintance with Home Secretary Theresa May, after giving my silly string plans a bit of a re-think.

Dear Theresa May,

Congratulations on your latest shoe purchase! The knee-length jackboot look is so YOU.

I've written before about my plan to arm police with silly string in order to calm riots situations. However, I've taken the time to refine my plan and have come up with something that is 100 per cent guaranteed to end even the most violent of situations.

The problem: Current police tactics - kettling, baton charges and use of police horses only make people angry, and the situation more explosive. By bringing a party to the party, police can actually turn that crowd's frown upside-down and the riot will be over before it even gets a chance to begin.

The solution (1): Custard pie fights. Let those angry young people work out their aggression on each other through the tried-and-tested medium of the custard pie fight. Indeed, the police can go as far as providing the protagonists with ammunition by driving vans full of custard pies into the conflict zone and allowing events to follow their natural, messy course.

The more enterprising police force may actually use pie vending machines, recouping at least some of that expensive police overtime into the bargain, if you can keep Eric Pickles away from the nosh.

The Solution (2): Once custard pie supplies are exhausted, it's time to move in with the silly string. Everybody loves silly string, and even the most militant of crusties will forget all about smashing the capitalist military-industrial complex once the fluorescent pink stuff starts flying.

Then, move in the heavy artillery - SILLY STRING CANNONS - wait for the former rioters to be trapped in a great hardened mass of pink goo, and it's simply a matter of time moving in and arresting them all before they eat their way out.

Result: End of riot, a big party, free love, the whole nine yards.

I am not mad.

Your pal

Albert O'Balsam
There is not way on God's Earth she can ignore this letter. Mainly because it's written in six-inch high letters with green crayon.