Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weekend Video: The Art Club – Let's Start Again

Declaration of interest: The Art Club are managed by my niece Charlotte, who knows a thing or three about music. 

Although, young man, you are wearing a shirt with the top button done up, but you have no intention of wearing a tie.

Friday, March 29, 2013

What's inside the Pulp Fiction briefcase?

One of the most enduring mysteries of the cinema is the question: "What – exactly – is inside the briefcase of Pulp Fiction?"

Everybody's got their own theory as to what Messrs Travolta and L Jackson are carrying around in Tarantino's cinema masterpiece, but we've finally got to the bottom of it.

Inside the Pulp Fiction briefcase is another, slightly smaller, briefcase.

And inside that slightly smaller briefcase is a 1983 copy of Escort magazine featuring "The Girls of Yeovil" as a centre-spread.

No wonder Mr L Jackson is a ball of righteous fury.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

There is no more ridiculous sight in the world than...

There is no more ridiculous sight in the world than...

...a grown man riding a BMX bike during the morning rush hour

...a grown man in a suit riding a BMX bike during the morning rush hour

...a grown man in a suit riding a child's scooter during the morning rush hour

...a grown man in a suit riding a child's scooter during the morning rush hour stopping off to have a go on a bouncy castle

...a grown man in a suit riding a child's scooter during the morning rush hour stopping off to have a go on a bouncy castle whilst proclaiming "As Ozymandias is my witness, I have no plans to lead the Conservative party"

I don't know why there's a bouncy castle by the side of the road in the morning rush hour, just go with it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Eggs: God vs Chocolate (Chocolate wins)

They say the Devil has the best tunes, and whoever "they" are, they are correct. What these people don't mention is that the Devil also has the best Easter eggs.

This time of year, the shelves are stacked with chocolate eggs made by companies that would set fire to your face and steal your bedroom furniture given half the chance. And they are the best eggs, with reams of chocolate, novelty mugs, novelty egg-cups and tons of sweets inside. The kind of egg that has small children bowking rich brown vomit all over Easter Sunday.

So, this year, Jane's parents (who are not religious in the slightest) gave us a religious Easter egg. We suspect that it is because it is Fair Trade and not made by a certain company that would set fire to your head given half the chance, rather than any misguided attempt to God Me Up.

Not being religious in the slightest, and in the face of a chocolate crisis, we ate it on the Monday before Easter. IN YOUR FACE, JESUS!

And what can you expect from this Fair Trade Jesus Egg in a crowded market of reams of chocolates, novelty mugs, novelty egg-cups and tons of sweets?

Answer: A leaflet showing a man being betrayed by his friend and subsequently executed, and the taste of disappointment.

God, if you're out there, you've got a lot of catching up to do. Next year, how about a novelty egg cup in the shape of a Grail?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Playground Pranks No: 394 – The Brown Volcano

Who remembers this from school?


Shake shake

Shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake

Ten minutes later...

Shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake

Shake shake


"Hey James – I found your can of Coke"

Monday, March 25, 2013

POLL: Which flavour of crisps is the best? (It's Salt and Vinegar)

An outrage.

I voted in a recent poll for the best flavour of crisps. The correct answer – of course – is "Salt and Vinegar".

Imagine my fury when I learned that the winning flavour was "Cheese and Onion". A sickening turn of events, I am sure you will agree.

There is only one course of action – re-run the poll on this page and use whatever means possible to ensure that THE LORD'S CHOICE of crisps (for eg, Salt and Vinegar) emerges victorious, and not some BLASPHEMY that should be destroyed WITH FIRE and the WRATH OF GOD (for eg, Prawn Cocktail).

UPDATE: And the results are in...


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Earworms of the Week

Every day, provided I remember, I'm recording my current earworm as a way of finding out how mental I might be. At the end of each week, I'm going to inflict them on you,so the you may marvel either in my good taste or my insanity.

Only one rule: No self-censorship. If a song is rubbish, or uncool, or an awful guilty pleasure, it is still going on my list. You will see my internal jukebox selections in their full naked horror.

And my motivation? The fear that one day the music will stop.

12 March: Suede - Itstarts and ends with you
14 March: David Bowie - The stars are out tonight
15 March: Toy - My heart skips a beat
17 March: British Sea Power - Please stand up
22 March: Moby - The Day

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekend Video: Levi's Rivets (1982)

Music for this little gem by Midge Ure and Chris Cross of Ultravox. Despite the hugely positive reception, they weren't asked back for a follow-up despite the music already being written. Luckily, nothing ever goes to waste, and Rivets II emerged some time later as this:

Fans of trivia will already know that the love interest is the charming Ms Annabel Giles, the former Mrs Midge Ure and now Twitter sensation.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ant and Dec: A Spotter's Guide, again

After three years, I've sorted out with one of Ant and Dec is Ant, and which one out of Ant and Dec is Dec.

It's quite simple:

Dec is the shorter of the two and is therefore nearer the "deck".

Ant, on the other hand, has six legs, lives down a hole, and will eventually have his head bitten off by the Queen.

Got it? Good.

Let us never speak of this thing again.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Charlie "Beanso" Beans 2000-2013: A Tribute

Sad to report that our most excellent dog, Charlie "Beanso" Beans died yesterday at the age of 13. It happened so very quickly: He was off his food, but a visit to the vet revealed a large inoperable tumour which would have killed him within days, so it was best to have him put to sleep on the operating table. Such, dear friends, is the fragility of life.

Jane and I only had him for four months, and we're devastated. For the first time in years, we are without dog. Snowy died just two months ago and the place just seems so empty.

In his short time with us, Beanso went on all sort of adventures, including a trip down to Exeter by train (and a subsequent appearance on the Dogs On Trains Tumblr), a ride in a canoe, a weekend working in a bike shop (above) and a memorable Christmas holiday. He was - quite simply - the best dog I've ever had, and the happiness we got from him was immense.

Our love for him was repaid in utter disloyalty, as demonstrated by his attempts to follow other people home from his walks, or to jump into the back of any car that had a door left open. But he was still the best dog ever, and I will fight a duel with any man who says otherwise.

And this song was playing in the background when the vet broke us the awful news. It seems dreadfully appropriate, but has wrecked Stand By Me forever.

Goodbye Beanso, we shall miss you always.

Please: No bad poetry, stupid jokes or Rainbow Bridge. I'm really not up for the Rainbow Bridge.

As usual, thanks to dogs charity Oldies Club for giving us the opportunity to adopt Beanso in the first place. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Coleman's Laws of Commuting by Car

Law 0. You are going to be late. Don't try to fight it.

Law 1. No matter how early you leave, the journey time expands so you always arrive at the same time

Law 2. The lorry that nips in front of you at the end of your road will also be driving past the front door of your workplace (See Law 1)

Law 3. Traffic lights phased to allow free flow of traffic are also phased so that every light on your route will turn red just as you reach them (See Law 1)

Law 4. All other vehicles in front of you want to turn right at some point (See Law 1)

Law 5. The Highway Code is suspended during the School Run (See Law 1)

Law 6. Rat runs, short cuts and alternative routes will spit you out into the queue two cars behind your original starting point (See Law 1)

Law 7. Every other driver does not share your relaxed attitude to the rules of the road (See Law 1)

Law 8. Road works on one side of town have random effects several miles away. See also: Cars breaking down, somebody nipping into a Spar corner shop for a newspaper (See Law 1)

Law 9. Have your excuse ready.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On getting guilt-tripped into fostering a HOUND FROM HELL

We fostered a dog.

We've found adopting older dogs very rewarding, first with poor, dead Snowy and now neither poor nor dead Charlie. So it made sense to help out a dog charity with their spare canines.

So: We got a heart-rending email from a dog charity, which said they had a spare 12-year-old small dog locally THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE KEPT IN A CAGE, and asked us if we'd be prepared to take her on urgently until a permanent home could be found for her, preferably NOT IN A CAGE at the mercy of DEATH'S ICY GRIP..

One thing led to another, the nice dog went to another home, and we were offered a completely different, larger, younger dog some fifty miles away for a week's respite care from Doggy Prison.

I say "offered", but I really mean "guilt tripped", their exact spiel being "Foster this animal OR WE WILL KILL ANOTHER HOMELESS DOG probably WITH STICKS or OTHER DOGS"

Shamed, we fostered that animal.

He hit our home like a North Korean nuclear test, and held us hostage to his every whim like a spoiled Saudi prince.

Half Jack Russell, half Pointer, half mental.

He was everywhere, and sometimes it seemed several places at once. You couldn't move without him demolishing the furniture to follow you; and poor, sweet Charlie spent the week in hiding.

He was - very deep down - a lovely dog without a vicious bone in his body who would have suited an energetic family down to the ground. Alas, I like to take dogs for a walk that do not pull your arms out of their sockets; and not dogs that bark at you like a toddler in a tantrum every ten minutes because they're hungry or bored. Or hungry and bored and not giving you a minute's peace ever because you're on a downward spiral toward your third nervous breakdown aaaaaaargh get him away from me.

After his week's holiday with us, he went back to the kennels from whence he came, where we were met by a stocky woman wearing what appeared to be chain mail. She grunted at us, and gestured that we should leave the mad dog with one of her mail-clad assistants called Emma, before showing us a limp bundle of rags.

"Here's the dog we KILLED TO DEATH so you could bring him back, YOU SELFISH BASTARDS.

"We couldn't make up our minds, so we starved all the spare dogs for a bit, and put them in the ARENA OF BLOOD until a loser was chosen by the WILL OF THE LORD.


Offered a place at the table, we made our excuses and left.

Also, I hated that mad dog's little piggy eyes, and the way that whenever you looked at him, his bumhole was always staring back at you.

Some of this might not have happened.

Reality: We quite liked him, but he was too much for two of us in a tiny flat with a nervous elderly dog. Pleased to say that a family were hoping to house him full time once they had dog-proofed their garden. Also the kennel people were nice, apart from the Comic Sans on the signs. We're not terrible, honest.

Monday, March 18, 2013

In which your author kicks another car radio to death

I've kicked another car radio to death.

I didn't mean to do it, but one think led to another, I calmly pulled over to the side of the road and kicked the car radio to death.

The thing is, I've really got to stop listening to talk radio on the way to work. I only have it on for the very start of my journey so that I can hear the traffic news and plan diversions accordingly. However, get your timing wrong, and you've got to listen to up to fifteen minutes of talk radio which ranges from broadcasting genius to calming pulling over at the side of the road and kicking the car radio to death.

So, I set off the other morning, timing all over the place and I was subjected to a phone-in talk about the vexed question surrounding horse riders on the public highway (The correct answer being 'don't drive like an enormous twat, because horse riders don't like being killed to death').

"Our next caller," said the presenter, "Is Mrs Whiny-Voice from Newbury. What's your opinion on horse riders sharing roads with cars?"

"I don't really know," said Mrs Whiny-Voice as my blood began to boil.

If you will forgive the all-caps-and-bold: SHE RANG UP A RADIO TALK SHOW TO SAY SHE DIDN'T KNOW THE ANSWER

"I don't really know," she said again, "If only more people took the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ."

Ah yes, the noted donkey rider, whose sojourn into Jerusalem resulted in a ten-mile tail-back on the Bethlehem Road.


I calmly pulled over to the side of the road, switched off the ignition, and kicked the radio to death.

Wanted: One boot-proof car radio.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekend Video: The Wedding Present - Kennedy

I've accidentally had "Crawl" as weekend video three times now. I can assure you that the Weddos do have other songs

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope Francis Facts

He's mad! He's hilarious! He's Pope Francis I, leader over over a billion Roman Catholics! Little is known about this cardinal from Argentina (apart from the whole pages about him in Wikipedia), so here's some facts if you're Pope Curious and don't know what to do:

FACT: The Argentinan Pope's favourite Star Trek captain is Jean-Luc Picard. As an odd-numbered Pope, he is acutely aware that the Odd/Even Sequels Rule applies to Pontiffs as much as it does to Star Trek movies

FACT: As a little-known priest he spent two seasons as goalkeeper for Derby County

FACT: Pope Francis has no opinion on the 1990s 'shoegaze' movement that brought us such bands as My Bloody Valentine and Ride

FACT: Pope Francis spent over £100,000 on two painful years of surgery so he could look like his comedy idol Jim Bowen. Previously, he worked as a Ronnie Barker lookalike

FACT: Pope Francis' first job at the Vatican will be to have anybody selling "Frankie Says" T-Shirts burned as blasphemers

FACT: Pope Francis once saw a nun, and had to spend the rest of the afternoon in a whisky-induced coma

FACT: Pope Francis is the voice of the Buenos Aires speaking clock

FACT: Before finding fame as the Pope, Francis gained a cult following as host of the Argentine version of "Cash in the Attic"

FACT: Pope Francis makes pin money on craft website Etsy by selling wind chimes made from old AOL discs

FACT: Pope Francis always tries to get his catchphrase "Amen, mofo" into every sermon. Listen out for it

FACT: The Pope can instantly transfer himself back to Argentina by tapping his red shoes together and saying "There's no place like home"

Let's hear it for the new Pope!

"Huh!" I hear you say, "You wouldn't say all that if the Pope was Muslamic, would you?"

Yes I would:

FACT: The Muslamic Pope is a bumface

Come and get me, Al-Qaeda

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New people at the Murder House

A flurry of activity at the house on the corner. Lights on, a car on the driveway, and shadowy figures moving about inside. It is clear: New people at the Murder House.

At least, WE call it the Murder House.

It has lain empty for as long as I've lived in Fleet - one of the most desirable addresses in the country according to the Halifax - and therefore there must be something terribly wrong with the place if the estate agents had been unable to shift it.

Some might say it was simply because it was hideously overpriced in a stagnant housing market. Obviously, they are incorrect, for there can only be one explanation: Curse-d by cold-blooded murder.

Time to introduce myself to the new neighbours, then.

"Hi! I see you've just moved in. I expect the estate agent told you about the place."

"Hello... yes ... what? What about it?"

"Ah. Right. Err... nothing. But I suppose they re-decorated and everything since. Must have taken ages to get the stains out. Not to mention the stench."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"And at least the Old Bill dug over the garden for you. Bet that came as a bit of a bonus."

"What the Devil are you saying?"

"Yes, I understand they were Satanists. Nasty business all round - you'll be getting a priest in, just in case? Very brave of you to buy the place. We'll be thinking of you next full moon."

It was at that point things got a bit surreal. Eyes glowed yellow, tongues were forked and a voice hissed "GET OUT" inside my head. I made my excuses and left.

Might leave them off the Christmas card list.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jokes I'm not yet sick enough to crack

When you're driving to work at 5.45 in the morning, your (my) brain tends to take you (me) off on flights of fancy that invariably leads to gags with you (me) are not quite sick enough to tell.

The sight of a roadside shrine to some poor unfortunate who didn't make it home led to one of these thought processes that resulted in this little one-liner in the Viz Top Tips style:

ENTREPRENEURS! Set up a flower business near to the scene of a recent fatal traffic accident. Business will boom.

Yeah, I know: Sick puppy.

BUDDING ARTISTS! Can you draw poor quality and slightly frightening versions of children's TV characters? They need a mural painter at the local hospital

Still a sick puppy

PRACTICAL JOKERS! Swap tubes of chilli paste with the Canestan at local supermarkets, then go home and wank furiously

OK, I'll stop now.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Perils Of Planning a Wedding

Up and about early the other weekend, in order to attend an event that might give us a few ideas for our coming wedding celebration (October 12th, if you didn't know).

One thing led to another and...

...holy crap. I could have sworn the lealet that came through the door said WEDDING FAYRE.

I'll get me coat

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Falling-Out With Heinz Cream Of Tomato Soup

My very existence is shaken. Shaken to the very core.

Dear Heinz

Congratulations on marketing the best ever thing in the world: Tinned Cream of Tomato Soup. Your Cream of Tomato Soup is indeed the soup of champions, and my kitchen cupboard is rarely without a tin.

However, I should draw your attention to your new "Squeeze and Serve" Cream of Tomato soup, which I purchased in the hope that it retains the sheer excellence of your tinned version, but without the extra expense and planetary destruction of tins.

How wrong I was.

Soup in a tube. What were you thinking?

Squeeze and Serve Cream of Tomato Soup manages to entirely lose the tinny tang that you get with the version out of a can. It is a mere shadow of the original, sitting lamely in my mug, no better than inferior efforts from thoses curs at Kn*rr and C*mb*lls of whom we never speak.

In bringing Cream of Tomato Soup down to tube-size, you have managed to extract the very innate Soupiness that made it great. Call it magic. Call it pixie dust. Call it the body of a dozy tomato picker who succumbed to the rotating blades of the tomato processing machinery, we shall never know. But it is missing from Squeeze and Serve.

In fact, I would go as far as saying that while Tinned Cream of Tomato Soup is The God Of Soups, Squeeze and Serve is nothing more than a HERESY and should be treated accordingly. For eg: KILLED with FIRE.

Please tell me that this product was a dreadful experiment that got out of hand, and those involved have been flogged around the company as per His Majesty's Articles of War.

Let's not fall out over this. I love you. We can make it up.

Albert O'Balsam.

That'll tell 'em

Sunday, March 10, 2013

In which your author goes shopping

If it's all the same with you Morrisons, I'll give the whole "Any two for £6" thing a miss this time round.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Friday, March 08, 2013

Book Review: Jason Arnopp - The Beast In The Basement

If you're a fan of well-written, tense psychological horror at – and this is the most important part – a bargain price then you can't go wrong with Beast in the Basement.

Yes, I'm absolutely certain I'm doing the author a disservice with that introduction. Jason Arnopp's novella on a disturbed writer's attempts to finish a Rowling-esque series of children's adventure books whilst coping with the sinister and eponymous Beast is a minor triumph of the genre.

Characters are kept to a necessary minimum as the reasons for the writer's paranoia unfold, and there's a genuinely shocking moment as it all unravels, ahead of a twist that made me come over all Keanu Reeves in a public place. And that's not sexy slang.

Being mindful of the author's pleas not to give too much away, I'm just going to stick my thumbs way, way up (also not sexy slang) and humbly suggest that you invest a mere £2.00 of your money on a smart, engaging read. Just do it, or Jade Nexus dies.

Speaking as a writer who has to work hard to get people to notice his books, so the same with Mr Arnopp, and he's ten times the talent I'll ever be. I'm happy to give him a plug.

Available now on Amazon for your Kindle or sort-of-Kindle device.

By the same author, and also with the official Scaryduck Seal of Approval: A Sincere Warning About The Entity in Your Home

More of this sort of thing.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Think Once. Think Twice. Think Don't Drive Your Motorbike On The Pavement

I have a theory about my drive to work, in that no matter how early I leave, traffic always conspires to make me arrive at exactly the same time. Luckily this time coincides with the canteen opening for the sale of crack cocaine.

However, this sad state of affairs means that I will sail into Reading at a speed slightly lower than that legally permitted, before spending half an hour trying to negotiated that final mile over the River Thames and up the big hill. It's frustrating, but nothing that mass murder or a nuclear winter couldn't solve.

One such crawl over Caversham Bridge was made completely EXCELLENT however, by one motorcyclist's attempts to jump the queue.

Finding both lanes of traffic at the usual standstill, he decided to resort to the one clear route to the other side of the river: Nipping in front of everybody else by driving on the pavement, like a LAWBREAKER.

While I don't believe in such things as Instant Karma, I – and others in cars and vans around me – watched with no little joy as he over-revved trying to mount the kerb and his bike slipped out from under his leather-clad lazy bottom. One thing led to another as he grappled with the throbbing monster escaping from between his legs, and he was hurled – bollock-first – onto a concrete bollard.

I dare say his helmet visor prevented his plums being bodily ejected through his mouth. Another victory for motorcycle safety equipment.

He was fine. Eventually.

Any excuse:

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

On not falling for the old Car Park scam

So, somebody tried the old Car Park scam on me the other day.

I rolled up to the car park outside Budgens for some teabags and a packet of Rice Crispies, when a rat-face ne'er-do-well approached me.

"Scuse me, Mister," he said, "You look a good sort."

It's a lie, but I rolled with it.

"I'm s'posed to be going to a job interview," said the scruff, clearly not dressed for a job interview, "an' my car's run out of petrol. Could you give me some money?"

Heard it, and only one answer: "Bugger off."

"Look," he said, continuing with one of the oldest cons in the book, "I'll give you me gold ring."

He showed me a ring that might as well have come out of a cracker. Yeah, I'll bite.

"Let me just get you some cash. It's ...err... in the cash."

"Nice one, guv, nice one."

So, I went back to the car, and got him fifty of the Queen's Pounds. Here it is:

"What the fu... What's that?"

"Fake fifty quid for your fake ring. Now piss off."

He pissed off.

But seriously, watch out for these chancing arses. They're everywhere.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

At Last: A Use For Homeopathy

Dear Homeopathy,

My three-year-old boy was dull, lifeless and had no energy, spending whole days slumped in front of the television doing nothing.

But since I switched him over to a steady stream of homeopathic medicine in sugar pills, he's been bouncing off the walls!

In fact, he's had so many sugar pills, he's caused many thousands of pounds worth of damage to our home, in an orgy of sugar-pill fuelled destruction for which we are eternally grateful.

Please let us send you more money for those little sugary miracles!

We are certain that we wouldn't have seen such a dramatic cure from so-called "medicine", so I'll be lighting a celebratory ear candle to you all tonight!!!

Thank you homeopathy and your magic sugar pills with nothing in them!!!!

Mrs M. Easily-Led-By-Any-Old-Cobblers

"How about a cure for thirst?" says Jack on That There Twitter. And he's right. Homeopathy plus Vodka --- Drink enough and you'll forget what was wrong with you and why you've spent a small fortune on sugar pills.

Monday, March 04, 2013


Hey, everybody, I've got one of those realistic dog rugs that everybody's going on about!

 And after sharing this little boast on Twitter, it appears that Steven has one as well.

What are the chances, eh?

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Alistair Coleman Kindle Books Now Reduced

 You may be aware that I have published some books down the years.

In a moment of lunacy, I have reduced the whole lot to a mere two of your Earth Pounds on the Amazon Kindle Store.

FILL YOUR BOOTS before I change my mind.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Comic Relief: Doing Something Funny For Money

This Red Nose Day, I'll be trying for the impossible - a whole 24 hours without swearing. Not a single swear will be uttered on the day of the Scaryduck Non-Swear-A-Thon, except for permitted use of the entirely family-friendly words "tugboat", "melon-farmer" and "forget you!".

I might be a good middle class boy, but go back just a couple of generations, and my gene pool is swarming with Northern Irish ship builders and Cockneys from Cockneyland. And, to be honest, I think the Dagenham side of my personality takes over far too often and gets me into all kinds of trouble.

One of my earliest memories is being sent to my room for saying "Bugger", a punishment that did no use at all, and soon I was swearingly fluent in five different languages, thanks to a book I found teaching me to swear in ...err... five different languages.

But now, I'm asking for your help in ending this blight on my life, all through the medium of cold, hard cash. As little as £2 could help save lives in Africa, while a tenner (and I'm really excited about this one) helps at-risk British kids from getting into trouble at school

Think of the kiddiewinks, must most of all, think of my suffering, you bunch of monkey lovers.