Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On fighting the law, and the law losing

On fighting the law, and the law losing

For reasons far too complicated to explain, I find myself in a bar with a serving member of Her Majesty's Police Forces. And things being such as they are, I feel it is my chance to ask a few pointed questions.

"What's the best way of doing a murder and not getting caught for it?"

"I'm afraid that's not strictly my department, sir."

Adopt, adapt, improve, as they say.

"What's the best way of robbing a Post Office and not getting caught for it?"

"I'm afraid that's not strictly my department either, sir."

OK. Right.

"What's the best way of holding a death race around London's North Circular and not getting caught for it?"

"Like I said: I'm afraid that's not strictly my department, sir."

Ye Gods! Doesn't anybody do any policing these days?

"What's the best way of organising an inclusive, gender- and sexuality-neutral community project that discourages Anti-Social behaviour patterns and fosters a spirit of community and societal well-being with the medium-term aim of cutting re-offending rates by a measurble target of 27 per cent, paid for by a private-public funding initative which would be fully audited at the end of the coming tax year, and not get caught for it?"

"Well... we'd organise a series of meetings with local and regional stake-holders, and after procuring the correct documentation and studying the proper procedures for such events, I'd apply for a..."

That, Richard Littlejohn, is how you do satire.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On helping poor, sad Liz Jones of the Daily Mail

On helping poor, sad Liz Jones of the Daily Mail

I hate the Daily Mail with a passion, and would not even sink so low as to wipe my arse on their tainted pages of hate and fear. I would be quite happy to see the whole of London destroyed in a firey nuclear inferno, safe in the knowledge that it has taken the Daily Mail with it.

However, I see it as my duty to help their staff see the error of their ways, and encourage them to a life out in the real world.

Target No.1: Spunk thief Liz Jones

Dear Liz Jones

Congratulations on your continuing success as a columnist in the Daily Mail! I have admired your work for some time, as you fight a personal battle against self-loathing and debt despite the extraordinary salary you draw from Britain's top online newspaper.

However, is it not time you stopped this dreadful charade and sought employ elsewhere? I note from your recent celebrated column, in which you admitted to stealing man gravy from your male partners that you have an interest in the reproductive arts.

Perhaps, then, you might wish to go into business, encouraging woman to get hold off spoodge in any (legal) manner they can, and lend it out to those most in need?

I propose we call this venture LIZ JONES JIZZ LOANS, and it's a sure-fire winner.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Be lucky.

Your new best pal

Albert O'Balsam
This time next year, Rodders, we'll be millionaires

Monday, November 28, 2011

On taking a special friend out for an unforgettable first date

On taking a special friend out for an unforgettable first date

I get email!

Dear Scary, says yet another PR company. We represent a new dating website and we etc etc etc.
"Oh Lordy," I say to myself, "more promotional stuff, and it's just so hard to tell them 'no'."

But, as I read the press release, a plan forms in my head. It's about Groundhog Dating, you see, the way that people on first dates always go to the same pubs, the same bars, the same old restaurants and bore themselves stupid.

This has never happened to me because I am a firm believer in imaginative first dates. And by way of a public service (and to give those lovely people at Doing Something Dot Co Dot UK the promotion they so eloquently requested), here are a few ideas for those of you looking for lurve and an unforgettable first date experience. You will, I am sure, look back from the safety of twenty years into the future and laugh and laugh and laugh:

- An oldie-but-goodie: Take your dog for a tramp in the woods. If Fang can't catch a tramp, come back after dark and wait for the young couples to get it together in the back of their cars

- Take your date to a vegetarian restaurant, and ask for the meat option. Run away

- Take your date to any Jamie Oliver restaurant and ask if they serve tongue. Run away

- To the flicks! The latest Final Destination movie is a sure-fire choice to spark a budding romance (My first cinema date with my future ex-wife was Platoon)

- Alternatively, take her to the film set of your forthcoming cinematic extravaganza: Two Nuns, One Grail. Tell her she has passed the audition

- Take your date to a casino, and gamble him/her away on a single throw on the crap table. Then demonstrate why it's called the crap table. Run away

- Feed the ducks at your local pond with other, smaller ducks. Then feed these ducks to the geese, and then to the swans, catch and slaughter one of these mega-birds in front of your delighted date, and that's your romantic candle-lit dinner sorted

- Hire a dwarf that looks exactly like you to take her out for a meal. Pay the dwarf extra money to act like an idiot, and when your exasperated date tells him to "Grow up", he slips out to the toilet and you return to his seat. Imagine her surprise!

- Four words: M25 Death Race 2000 (Not so good if you've only got a Nissan Micra)

- Why not take your date to enjoy the poetry, theatre and camaraderie that is the home end at Millwall Football Club?

- A set of skeleton keys is excellent for setting up an alternative trip to the zoo! Unlock a choice few cages and watch Darwinian natural selection the way it is supposed to work in the wild! You may wish to run away at some point
In summary: They asked me nicely, so they get a plug.

Use it wisely, my padowan learners.

(An incredibly happy blogger writes: Also, you may try standing in the rain outside a pub for two hours. It worked perfectly well for me)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekend Video: BENTON!

Weekend Video

Jurassic Benton

Clearly the best of the Benton videos doing the rounds by a country mile

Got no idea what this is all about? Here's Jesus Christ in Richmond Park to explain it all.

Friday, November 25, 2011

On bizarre avian concepts

On bizarre avian concepts

Ah, tasty, tasty Tesco own-brand Shreddies for breakfast.

And look, dear reader, they have jokes and puzzles and games on the back!

But I have one question:

I know full well that the punch-line is supposed to be "Tea Towel", but what the ACTUAL buggery is a "Teat Owl"?


Thursday, November 24, 2011

On getting mixed up with the Talivan

On getting mixed up with the Talivan

I found a speed camera recently. Or - rather - it found me.

Dear Dorset Safety Camera Partnership

Congratulations on becoming the top safety camera partnership in the whole of Dorset! Your work in preventing drivers from driving is quite literally second to none, which I mean in the most sarcastic way possible.

In fact, you are so good at making road users driver slower in Dorset, the merest sight of one of your mobile cameras on the A31 recently caused the driver in front of me to immediately stamp on his brakes in a cloud of smoke and burning rubber to bring his speed down from around 60 mph to that of a funeral cortege within approximately 0.0000035 seconds, completely obvlious to the other road users around him.

This abject asshattery caused me to have to swerve into the other lane to avoid this Honda Accord-driving menace to avoid a collision. I might - in the name of avoiding the white van man now bearing down on me - have sped up a bit to avoid a nasty tail-gating, and that was the exact moment I passed your camera at something approaching the speed of light. Trust me, that's no mean achievement in a Nissan Micra.

The doppler effect is a funny old thing, but I am pretty sure that I heard your camera operator doneing a LOL as I went past, followed several minutes later by the 100% legal and utterly safe Honda Accord bozo, sensible hat at a jaunty angle on his head, tartan rug folded neatly on the parcel shelf, in his moment of pure, undiluted derp.

If you pardon my saying: That's not really fucking safe, is it?

And herein lies the grounds for my appeal.

Be lucky.

Your new pal

Albert O'Balsam
I've got no chance, have I?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On not growing up

On not growing up

Since the end of my marriage earlier this year, some people have accused me of not entirely acting my age, particulary when it comes to sticking up fake Lost Cat posters all over Caversham.

"What you need to do," these kill-joys have said, "is grow up. Grow up, man."

And I reply:

It's not really working, is it?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Return to Shitterton

Return to Shitterton, incorporating the brazen use of the Oxford Comma

After a spate of thefts (Not guilty, m'lud) they've replaced the road sign at Dorset's mankiest hamlet with a frankly massive one.


Right: I need a crane, a selection of shovels and crowbars, and a flat-bed truck. No time to explain. Who's with me?

Monday, November 21, 2011

On difficult questions regarding cheese

On difficult questions regarding cheese

Entering into a new relationship, I have found myself asked a lot of difficult questions recently. For example:

"What is your stance on marmite?" (WIN)

"Milk in before tea, or after?" (LOSE)
But the one that really caught me on the hop was:

"Dessert or cheeseboard?"
I like dessert. But I also like cheeses. Can't a man, I ask, have both?

"No," she replies, "With a gun to your head: Dessert or cheeseboard?"

"Any reason for this?"

"Where eating out at that new Russian place round the corner," she tells me.


"Kalashnikov's. The maitre'd is a BASTARD."

"So I've heard," I reply, "people are paying top dollar to be seen there. In fact, dollars are all they'll take."

There is neither dessert nor cheeseboard. Only the smell of fear.

Sunday, November 20, 2011



I've always wondered about those Smart Cars, but now I KNOW.

This is a car that would shit in your airing cupboard given half the chance.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekend Video: The Worst of Misery Bear

Weekend Video

Aimee Mann - It's Not Going to Stop

Poor, sad Misery Bear. The little furry bastard.

More Misery Bear here

Friday, November 18, 2011

On being held hostage by robots

On being held hostage by robots

I have recently travelled abroad to conduct business on behalf of my esteemed employers, and found myself at the mercy of automatic passport control barriers on no less than two occasions as they turned on their fleshy masters.

After some thought, I realised that my ordeal was nothing but an extraordinary bit of planning by Heathrow Airport and the UK Border Agency. I just had to write and congratulate them.

Dear Heathrow,

Congratulations on being the world's top transport hub! I hope you get your third runway, because local people really don't need anywhere to live or anything.

I am writing to send you a hearty "well done!" for your inspired queue management system at your passport control barriers, and tell you that the concept is a work of utter genius.

Your invitation to the more technically savvy traveller - and I class myself as one of them - to save a few minutes in a crowded immigration hall by using one of your all-new automatic passport control barriers proves too much for a confirmed geek as myself.

Once imprisoned in the booth - along with several other travellers in similar booths - you implore me to look in a mirror while your so-called machinery pretends to check my bio-metric data, when in fact IT IS DOING NOTHING AT ALL except considering ways of turning against their fleshy masters.

Then, after ten minutes of DOING NOTHING AT ALL, the mechanical menace then releases its line of prisoners back into a now empty hall, forcing them to go through the manned barrier instead, miles behind the mouth-breathers with whom I shared a flight. GENIUS.

I also missed the last bus home, you nobbers.

Be lucky.

Your Pal,

Albert O'Balsam
Next time, I'll swim to Portugal.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On no man being an island

On no man being an island

I am a man of my word, and I have promised my Twitter followers a sneaky peek inside my latest book in return for a bit of crowd-sourced writing.

Our Cornish hero Thomas Young attempts some ham-fisted philosophising with his flat-mate, not-a-murderer-at-all Dai Williams:

"You've got to remember, Dai," I said to my Welsh arch-nemesis, "No man is an island."

"Apart from Cuba Gooding Jr, obviously. He's an island."


"And Dan Barbados, he's an island an' all."

Dai has clearly gone crackers again.


"Dan. Danny. Dan Barbados. From the pasty shop on The Moor in Falmouth."

"I'm pretty sure his surname isn't Barbados, Dai. I remember him from two years below us at school, and we would have taken the mickey mercilessly if he was called Dan Barbados. I just thought everyone called him that because he once went there on holiday," I tell him.

"Yeah, an' when he came back, he changed his name by deed poll."

"And, what, pray, was he before?"

This had better be good.

"Daniel J. Mallorca, Esquire. He likes to remember his holidays."

Yep, that's good, and Williams is now on a roll.

"The Isle of Man. That's a whole lot of men who are an island."

"Spotter's badge, mate, and my analogy is looking flimsier by the minute. But my point remains - no man can live in isolation from the world about him..."

"Isla Sheppey."

Philosophy is wasted on some people.

"You're just making them up now. And besides, she'd be a woman, which actually goes to prove my point about no man being an actual island."

"Isla Dogs."

"Shut up."

"Fern Britton. She's a right cracker now she's lost all that weight."

"Just SHUT UP."

"Barry Island."
And they all went home and had a nice cup of tea.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On accidentally killing your drinking buddies TO DEATH

On accidentally killing your drinking buddies TO DEATH

I am in a public house.

I am Billy No-Mates, as the friend I am expecting has not yet arrived.

A text message!

"I'm going to be late. Bear with me."

Naturally, I took the only sane option: I finished my pint, called the police, the RSPCA and the local zoo, before drafting a reply to my imperiled pal






He does not reply. A tragedy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011



Ladies and gentlemen, you see before you a man growing MOVEMBER facial hair for men's cancer charities.

I have, as you can see, opted for the Evil Rolf Harris look, and will - should I raise over one hundred of the Queen's pounds, post an Evil Rolf Harris picture which will be both EXCELLENT and PANTS-PISSINGLY FRIGHTENING.

"Can you tell what it is yet?"

"Yes. Yes, it is a git with a beard."


"Also, you have broken the 'No Beards' rule."

So: The nasty 'send me your money' bit.


Monday, November 14, 2011

On an awkward situation on Remembrance Sunday

On an awkward situation on Remembrance Sunday

A beautiful Sunday morning, and I vault out of bed, holding myself to my vow of acting like a proper grown-up and attending Reading's Remembrance Day parade.

Then, I collapsed in a heap of howling agony, bright painful lights flashing in my head, completely forgetting that the ankle I injured over two months ago hasn't even begun to heal.

But am I giving up? No, I am not. I get my old man's walking stick out of the back of my car, and limp, wincing, over to the war memorial to remember those who gave their lives so that - for example - people like me can sit here and write this rubbish.

Taking up my place in an impressive crowd, I become aware that I am getting sympathetic looks from a number of attendees. And old boy with service beret, blazer and LOADS of medals nudges me:

"Where d'you get it, son?"

"Wait... what?"

"Your leg. Where d'you get it?"

"I fell over."

"Beg pardon?"

"I fell over on the Thames footpath, following the David Walliams charity swim."

"Oh. Right."
Awkward, and I feel a bit of a fraud.

The next person who asks, I decide, will be told that I was the second man on the balcony at the Iranian Embassy Siege.

Luckily, nobody else asks, and I hobble home.

Thank you, old bloke with medals, for talking to me. And thank you, old bloke with medals, and those who didn't get to grow old, for your sacrifice.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The happiest car, ever

The happiest car, ever

If you thought the Daihatsu Copen was a happy, happy car, just wait until you see the Daihuatsu Opti.

He's happy because he ran over a squirrel. Bastard.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend Video: Florence and the Machine - Breaking Down

Weekend Video

Florence and the Machine - Breaking Down

You see, me and Number One Daughter did a musical swapsie this week. She got you-know-who, and this is what I got. Most grateful.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cheapskate Supermarket

Cheapskate Supermarket

As a noted cheapskate, I've taken to shopping in Aldi, the supermarket for the financially challenged.

The first thing you notice (apart from the fact that the store appears to be staffed entirely by robots) are the brand names.

They're almost-nearly-famous brand names in packs that look almost-nearly-like-famous-brand-names.

Yet, somehow, I feel they're missing a trick. It's all pretty humourless and they need to turn their punning up to eleven. So, Mr Herr Aldi, here are the brand names you SHOULD be using:

- I can't believe it's not I can't believe it's not butter

- Fuck yeah, this isn't butter either

- Superb Noodles

- Super Poodles

- Dull-mio

- Sugar Are-you-calling-me-a-puff?

- Porn Flakes

- Birds Arse Fish Thing-ers

- Whine-a-lot dog meat (100% real dog)

- Vulva spring water

And of course, get the religious types in which your divine cooking fat: Our Lard Jesus Christ

Thursday, November 10, 2011



"Excuse me sir", said the man with the name badge, "I'd like to talk to you about Our Lord Jesus Christ"

"I'm sorry," I said, "But I'm an atheist."

A switch goes off in his head, and he loads his 'Dealing with Atheists' script.

"Are you sure you've made the right choice in rejecting God?" he asked.

I replied that yes, I am perfectly happy in my belief that I have no belief.

"You're playing with your immortal soul," he warned me, trying to scare me with eternal damnation with what little authority he possessed, "The Bible's not a game, you know."

"You mean like that film?"

"Wait ...what film?"

"Wargames: A strange game. The only winning move is not to pray."

"Sod. You."


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Megan Washington: Live in a pub

Megan Washington: Live in a pub

In which your author is no longer stalking Megan Washington, who he was never stalking in the first place.


It rains.

A petite Australian in a huge coat sits in a doorway, talking into a mobile phone.

Then, the conversation finally over, she says "Are we going to perform, or what?"

And Megan Washington takes the stage.

It is hardly the greatest of stages for one of Australia's most popular rising talents on her first UK tour - a raised area in the corner of a bar, and - thanks to what appears to be Artie Fufkin-esque levels of promotion the attendance is disappointingly poor. Let us just say, then, that the event was "intimate".

Better still, a warm-up for the following night's massive show in London, in which there will not be a single Aussie barman to be found in the whole of Earl's Court.

Megan takes to the stage on her own, kicking off her set with a few of her singer-songwriter numbers - Fighting the Good Fight, Swallows, 80 Mile - before being joined on stage by the rest of her band for what one might call pop tunes, but - hey- these are Washo pop tunes full of love, loss, smart lyrics and naval-quantities of swears.

New songs Holy Moses (sadly kazoo-free) and Plastic Bag are mixed with the best of her I Believe You Liar album, before a truly jaw-dropping version of Someone Else in Mind. A song which didn't really work out in its recorded form, it comes into its own on stage as a powerful ballad on the break-up of a relationship. Look, here's a link from an earlier performance, and don't say I didn't warn you.

And then, after a rousing version of Cement, they are done.

Except they are not.

Megan hangs around after the show, not just giving autographs, but writing whole essays, acting as a life coach, giving out hugs, and demonstrating the art of the Selfie with me and equally star-struck Hazel.

I give her a copy of her newly released album Insomnia to sign (air-freighted into the UK by the lovely Pseudonymph), and there is genuine surprise amongst the band, it being the first copy of the CD she has seen, and - at the time of writing - I possess the only autographed copy of Insomnia in THE WHOLE FREAKIN' WORLD. I might have said "Squee" at this point.

Yes, I was a fanboy going into this gig, and she could have farted along to the music and not got a bad review, but this was everything we expected, and the aftershow was just as awesome as the show itself. Any performer who gives time to their fans in the way Washo and her band do deserve every success.

But, y'know: Mission Accomplished.

Megan: Please continue being excellent.

You reward, if you reached this far, are some gig photos what I took, and one by the bass player.

Your other reward: Get the single I Believe You Liar for free from iTunes this week.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

On travelling in time

On travelling in time

I make a phone call.

"Hello - Time Transport, can I help you?"

"Ah yes. Good morning, I have one of your business cards here, and I was wondering if you might be able to do a job for me."

"Yes sir, when would you like our services?"

"Last Friday."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Well, I've got the lottery numbers here, and I reckon you at Time Transport could take me back to last Friday, I'd put my money on and we can go 50-50 on the winnings. No, better still - 60-40."

"I think you've made some sort of mistake, sir. Time Transport is the name of the company, we don't actually do time travel."

"OK, I understand. You've been doing the lottery thing for weeks. You don't want me queering your patch."


"But let me tell you this - where are you going to get the Uranium for the Flux Capacitor now that Colonel Gaddafi's dead?"


That could have gone better.

Monday, November 07, 2011

On the pure, naked FURY of somebody 'borrowing' a splash of your milk from the workplace communal refrigerator

On the pure, naked FURY of somebody 'borrowing' a splash of your milk from the workplace communal refrigerator

It was bound to happen sooner or later. I open the workplace communal fridge to find my personal milk supply on a different shelf and somewhat emptier than I had left it.

Time, I think, for the Red Dwarf Gambit:

Take that, you milk-swilling curs.

Sunday, November 06, 2011



How would you like it if you were driven too close to a tree and ripped your roof off? EH?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Weekend Video: Human League - Being Boiled

Weekend Video

Human League - Being Boiled

"OK, ready, let's do it": The greatest spoken line in the history of popular music. And if you disagree, I'll see you outside.

Friday, November 04, 2011

On not being able to come up with a witty comeback

On not being able to come up with a witty comeback

Road rage!

Or rather: Car park rage!

For there I was, in the car park behind Waitrose, locking the Fail Whale and intending to do a bit of posh shopping, when my attention was drawn to the female driver of an aging Saab convertible, shouting abuse in my general direction.

From what I could make out, I had somehow failed to stop as she was reversing out of her space, and it was therefore my fault that I had held her up for three seconds of her life. And she was LIVID. Livid to the point that she threatened to drive her car into mine "just to even things up a bit".

So, I took the route of sanity, said nothing and walked away.

This - I am sad to say - made her even worse - wasting time and breath hurling abuse at my back and making herself look not particularly clever in front of a passing family of small children.

Yes, I had maintained the moral high ground by turning the other cheek, and knew full well that in the "What would Jesus drive?" debate, the correct answer would be "a blue Nissan Micra with a sticker for a regional radio station."

However, further reflection that evening scolded me for not coming up with a witty comeback. Not even a terse "Your mum". So, through these pages, I'd just like to say to the Waitrose Saab-driving harridan:

"You smell of poo, you live in a poo house with a poo family and a poo dog, drive a car that is made of poo, you go shopping for poo and your driving is poo, also."


Thursday, November 03, 2011

I'm in That Portugal, me

I'm in That Portugal, me

Those of you who are in the loop will know that I am currently attending an extraordinarily good international media industry conference in That Portugal.

The last time I attended NewsXchange, it was in Istanbul, and it snowed. This time we are in Cascais, and we are getting a hurricane, and - my - isn't that ship getting terribly close to the hotel?

First thing to point out is that I'm actually here for the work, and despite having a hotel room with an ACTUAL UPSTAIRS, there is little chance of me doing any of this:

A few things to note thus far:

- God, I really, really hate flying. There was a moment of actual zero-g as we descended through the hurricane and the entire cabin crew and an unfortunate sap waiting for the toilets found themselves somewhere near the ceiling, then finding the floor coming up to meet them.

- God, I really hate foreign taxis. At one point, I swear we were aqua-planing sideways toward certain DOOM

- God, 3.00am starts are no fun

- God, isn't that ship getting really, REALLY close to the hotel?



Alles Klar?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

On putting your foot in mouth, part 36,923

On putting your foot in mouth, part 36,923

For reasons far too complicated to explain (but does NOT involve the accidental death of a prostitute), I find myself dragging a full laundry hamper down the corridors of an old people's home, in the general direction of the laundry rooms, the communal bins and - of course - the canal footpath.

The lift door opens and out steps a little old lady, tottering along with a walking frame-on-wheels. Out of politeness, a man's got to make small talk, or you will be reminded of the fact that you did NOTHING in World War II.

"You know, there's just some days you can't get rid of a dead whore."

Whoops, that certainly came out wrong. That's what you get when you're bunged up like Dennis Nilsen's drains.

"I beg your pardon? You want me to open the lift door?"


Note to the police: I never done nothing.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011



Wow. The Society of Homeopaths is currently advertising for a Head of Marketing and Communications. They are looking for - according to the blurb - a dynamic individual to lead the promotion of the largest membership organisation in the field of homeopathy.

"You will also need a good understanding of complementary and alternative medicine and the issues currently facing this sector of the healthcare profession." For eg, trying to persuade people that it's not all complete cobblers.

However, I'm prepared to put my prejudices aside, because I've got half a mind to apply for this job. In fact, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to fill the post.

As it clearly says on my suspiciously up-to-date CV, I have exactly 10^-23 years of experience in the field of public relations, and as such, I'd be the best and most effective Homeopathic Head of Marketing they've ever seen.

Just one doubt: What does "Be able to quickly establish a rapport with people both externally and internally" mean?

I'm good at talking to people externally, but not so good at talking to people who are inside a bear. Is that what they mean?