Monday, September 30, 2013

The Great IKEA Pencil Heist of 2013

"When you go to IKEA this week, don't steal any pencils," said Jane*.

And she is right – stealing pencils from IKEA is naughty, out-of-order and puts prices up.

So, I went to IKEA with my daughter to pull together some furniture for her new student digs, and made a point of not fingering any pencils or paper tape measures.

That being the case, why – when emptying out the pockets of my jacket later that evening following a successful outing that also included an IKEA Swedish meatball dinner – did no less than 12 IKEA pencils emerge?


Jane gave me THAT look.

We are getting married in less than two weeks, and I am already getting THOSE looks.

Feeling guilty at the actions of a light-fingered daughter (and like some Fagin figure, I might have encouraged this sort of thing a few years ago), I offer these ill-gotten gains to any betting shop that needs them.

Or anybody who's building a fort for a hamster.

* I might point out that Jane is never the bad guy of the piece, and acts solely as the guardian of my morals, for I have none.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Weekend Video: MONKFISH

All the Monkfish sketches from the Fast Show, together at last. Now, get your knickers on and get me a cup of tea. Sharpish.

Friday, September 27, 2013


I got this seen-it-all-before money transfer scam email the other morning:

I'm Syrian  girl a war victim refugee. I need your help urgently. My parents and brother were killed. My late father's document 18.5 Million Pounds is with me. Please assist me. I want to come over to your country. please help!
Yours sincerely
Ms. Sarina al-Khalidi

So far, so ordinary. But what makes this one different is this:

Yep, if you're not going to fall for the old easy money trick, how about giving some money to charity? And people will do this, because they are arseholes. 

Nice try, crims. Nice try.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A short visit to Southampton

Waiting for something to happen, as the song by Radiohead goes.

The man walked towards us on Southampton's main shopping street as we sat in the warm early autumn sun.

Then he stopped, looking around him, like a lonely meerkat, warily scanning the horizon for predators.

Shoppers changed their course to walk around him, as he stood there, a guilty, fearful look on his face. For he knew what would happen next.

He pissed down his trouser leg, shook the last drops free with a deft flick of the ankle and walked away.

And a lady in a wheelchair went straight through the puddle, leaving tyre marks down Bar Street*, and something nasty on her left hand.

Southampton, you are CLOWN SHOES.

* I am now told this is called "Above Bar". But will now be called Wee Street.

Monday, September 23, 2013

British Problems: Charity Bags

You know what really grinds my gears? Diving the car without using the clutch. Also:
Getting annoyed by the endless stream of plastic charity bags that come through your door.

Feeling guilty because you've run out of stuff to give to charities.

Then getting even more annoyed because they never seem to be collected when you leave them empty on your front step on the appointed day.

Then feeling even more guilty when you use them as rubbish bags.

Charities: Before one of you chaps gets lucky and ends up with a huge bag full of unused charity bags on my front doorstep, can we come to some sort of arrangement where you - like - don't bother at all?

FACT: If you laid all the unused charity bags delivered in Britain in the last year end-to-end, you will have utterly wasted your life.

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Rainbow Bridge madness

In the wake of last week's post on the Rainbow Bridge – that mawkish poem that does the rounds whenever a pet dies – I've a more disturbing trend to report.

For the uninitiated, this is what the Rainbow Bridge looks like, and I'm pretty certain you'll agree that it must be destroyed with hammers, fire, and bombs filled with rabies.

Now, because I'm (generally) a nice person, I follow an animal re-homing charity on the electric Facebook. As they deal in the main with older dogs, there are times that they have to announce the sad death of one of their charges. And so it happened the other day, and the Rainbow Bridge was rolled out along with the usual "run free, little man" guff you'd expect on these sad occasions as people hide behind euphemisms for life's inevitable ending.

And here's where is gets weird. Among the condolences was one account that actually welcomed the poor dead barker to the Rainbow Bridge.

 Let that sink in for a minute. "We welcome you to the Rainbow Bridge." Oh yes.

On closer inspection this post turned out to be (draws breath, and you should too, because I'm going to capitalise and bold the rest of the sentence) the work of a Facebook Account Written In The First Person By The Owner Of a Dead Dog.

I'll say that again: Somebody ran a Facebook account for their dog, posting in the dog's voice, and when the dog died THEY KEPT DOING IT.

Dead Dog is – according to its previous owner – whooping it up on The Rainbow Bridge, welcoming other dead dogs to The Other Side, and posting a steady stream of those motivational photos and poems that make Facebook the largest collection of tasteless fridge magnets in the world.


I'm well aware there are grief and mental issues at play here, and these people are best left alone while they work things out.


I just don't know what to think any more.

But never mind that. There's a dog that looks like Vladimir Putin.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Backwards films (and some books)

Inspired by this from the internet's Mitch Benn, I've started watching films and reading books backwards:

If you watch Star Wars backwards, it's about a kid who fixes his dad's space station, and goes to live on a farm

And here's what I've found from literally minutes of research:

If you watched the film Cloverfield backwards, it's about a giant monster that repairs a battle-damaged New York City so a bunch of yuppies can go to a party

If you read the New Testament backwards, it's about a bloke who survives a ham-fisted attempt at execution, is freed by the authorities only to go out and kill a man called Lazarus

If you read the Old Testament backwards, it's about a tribe of people that blunder into slavery in Egypt, only for God to destroy the universe in a fit of pique

If you watch Escape To Victory backwards, it's about a group of footballers that infiltrate a Nazi prison camp 

If you watch Goldfinger backwards, it's about a man who climbs in through an aircraft window, puts all the gold back into Fort Knox and saves a girl's life through the timely use of paint remover

If you watch The Terminator backwards: Woman breaks into factory and builds a medical robot that gives away all its clothes before getting sent into the future


Bulimic shark pukes up swimmers

Work that one out for yourselves

Monday, September 16, 2013

First World Problems: Not getting free stuff

You know those times when they come down your street pushing little paper bags through your door that say "Leave this bag outside tomorrow and we'll fill it with free samples of stuff"; so you leave the bag outside to get your free samples of stuff, but they never come back with their free samples of stuff, and you're sad because the bag's still on your doorstep, getting soggy in the rain, waiting forlornly for your free samples of stuff.


And this ain't the first time either. I'm still waiting for my free carton of fruit juice from three months ago.

That – my friends – is the very definition of Middle Class Angst.
And you know that somewhere there's some light-fingered ne'er-do-well necking your free carton of cranberry juice, munching on your free Special K straight out of the box, feeding the free cereal bar to their dog-onna-string and you know deep down that you want to rip out their lungs, fill them with helium and give them to a small child as a toy.

But I shall do nothing of the sort. I will just sit on the doorstep, eyeing the limp, empty paper bag, rocking back-and-forth and railing against the world over my lost breakfast cereal that I don't even like.

Here ends today's lesson on the cruel nature of the human condition.

UPDATE: A happy ending! Kellogg's saw this post and have arranged vouchers. Hooray! 

Friday, September 13, 2013


Question: How much of Prince William's head can you crop out of a photo and still know it's Prince William?

Let's find out. Here's the original...

And here's the final cut:

That's 60%, pop-pickers.

Sixty per cent of Prince William's head is waste material.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On not being called Gary. Or William, for that matter

I've written before on these pages about how I'm often mistaken for other people. I appear to have one of those faces that look like every single person on the face of the planet.

In the past, I've been repeatedly mistaken for a former colleague called Roy, to the point that several months after he left to get a job in Switzerland, I was upbraided by somebody in the staff canteen over why I wasn't actually in Switzerland, and why I had the temerity to sit there after they had contributed to my leaving present and everything.

I had to show my staff ID to prove that I wasn't Roy.

Earlier, I had once been mistaken for somebody who had stolen my accuser's girlfriend. This particular encounter only ended when his argument became unnecessarily physical and I boxed him to the ground with a single punch.

Whoever the girlfriend-stealer was (and I have a very good idea), I do not want to be him.

An illustration showing how much I am not Roy

The whole 'Aren't you supposed to be somewhere else?/It's Him! I've caught the Tilehurst poisoner!/I'm afraid your cat is dead Mr Jefferson' thing has died down over recent years, perhaps due to the fact that I've grown a beard that covers up my Mr Everyman face.

Or so I thought.

In the last week alone, I have been accused of being a Gary and a William. I am neither a Gary nor a William, neither do I look like any Garys or Williams that I know.

The only plus side was that neither of these people accused me of doing anything awful, but then, neither Gary nor William were lottery winners being chased by somebody with an oversized cardboard cheque made out to ″Bearer″.

Swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Why the Rainbow Bridge still has to be destroyed with fire

Earlier this year, amid the heartbreak of losing both of our dogs within a month, I posted on these pages gently asking well-meaning people to stop sending us the Rainbow Bridge poem.

For the uninitiated, the Rainbow Bridge is a badly-written piece of drivel that says that your dead pets are waiting for you in bountiful meadows at said bridge, where you'll both cross over into heaven. Some people, I have since learned, take this as gospel fact. Heavy on the gospel.

In certain circles "going to the Bridge" are a euphemism for your dog dying, and in the days after both Snowy and Charlie dying, they were told to "run free". Now, I saw poor Snowy lying on the vet's table, a sight that still haunts me, and he was doing precious little running that day.

So. The weirdest part is being assailed by judgmental religious types over my Rainbow Bridge put-down, having been told several times that I'm going to Hell. I'm not one to point out that my telling me this, they're doing their own religion wrong, but my message to these people is this:

I don't mind you being religious. However, I worship one fewer deity than you and I'm fine with that. I'm also not going to Hell, because I don't believe in that either.

And the Rainbow Bridge? IT DOESN'T EXIST.

Now, I wouldn't be writing this post if it weren't for a recent comment under that particular blog post. The author makes a few points, but the one that hurt me the most was this:

"I feel sorry for their pets too. 2 dogs in 2 months? How does that happen? Hmmm"

I'll tell you how that happens.

We work with a charity that re-homes unwanted older dogs that would otherwise live out their last days in kennels, foster homes or even be destroyed.

Snowy was in his 18th year when old age finally caught up with him, and his poor heart simply gave up after a long illness.

Charlie came to us at the age of 12, and we had no idea he was already in the advanced stages of cancer. One day, soon after we lost Snowy, he was off his food. The next day he was dead.

It was like a kick in the stomach. I cried in the street. I cried on the phone to my daughter. We still miss Beanso today.

Anybody who says atheists have no compassion don't know anything about atheism. Anyone who suggests that something untoward happened to my beloved pets, isn't fit to lick the dog crap off my second best trainers. That's not me being anti-religious or lacking compassion.

That's me being human.

Friday, September 06, 2013

On getting over the hill

One of my favourite people on the internets is comedy writer musician and all-round good egg Andrea Mann. She's recently started a site called You Know You're Over 40 When... describing what it's like the moment you realise it's all downhill from here.

Having hit 40 several years ago, I can nod sagely, and add this:

You Know You're Over 40 When... You're No Longer Bullet-Proof

This is the year where my body has turned round and not-so-gently reminded me that I'm no longer a teenager. Barely a week has gone by without some sort of medical appointment, general malaise, or feeling tired. Oh, so very tired.

Old sports injuries no longer heal, and that limp's probably going to be permanent.

That tooth that needed a filling suddenly wanted a full-on root canal followed by a crown.

A bout of flu that was the worst thing I ever experienced in my life, and left me partially deaf for the best part of a month.

The painkillers for the injured foot brought on a stomach ulcer followed by gastritis.

The years of food and beer abuse and the lack of exercise manifested itself in a mild case of diabetes.

And tired. Oh, so very tired.

Yeah, you can fight back. I've joined the gym, and the weight's fallen off. The diabetes is more-or-less under control, but a raging thirst reminds you that it'll always be there, lurking in the background.

The stomach cramps will take months to go away, and every moment of culinary pleasure has to be weighed against the carnage in the toilet bowl the following morning.

There was a time you could do anything. Drink ten pints, stuff your face with takeaways, crisps and chocolate, run a half-marathon, and your body would spring back within hours.

Now, it's less of a spring and more of a crawl.

I want to be bullet-proof again.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

On wanting to be anywhere in the world that's not PC World

So I went out and bought a new laptop, my old one doing a reasonable impression of a brick. Like some sort of moron, I took myself to PC World, there being nowhere else in the Farnborough – Aldershot – Fleet Bermuda Triangle that sells computers, and was not surprised in the slightest at the following exchange.

PC World: "Would you like to buy Norton anti-virus?"

Me: "Err... no thanks. I'd rather eat my own foot."

PC World: "WHAT? You'd rather surf the internet without protection? ARE YOU MAD?"

Me: "No, I'm not a moron."

PC World: "But you'll be surfing the internet without protection. End times! Fire falling from the skies! Dogs and cats living together!"

(He might not have used such florid language)

Me: "Also, it's Windows 8. It comes with Microsoft's own anti-virus software as standard. So stop trying to sell me something I'll never need, because I am not a moron"

PC World: "Oh. Right."

Me: "In fact, just sell me the laptop and let me get out of here."

They sold me the laptop, and I got out of there feeling smug.

Then I got the thing home and the most important key on the keyboard (F5) fell off. So... back to a store where I had just insulted everybody to ask them for a replacement.

Pie has never tasted more humble.

(And credit to PC World, they were very nice about it)

Monday, September 02, 2013


If you don't watch Parks and Recreation, you will have no idea what this is about. But that's OK, you're not a cool person and we can no longer speak to each other.

How can you not be moved by that steely glare, that rich facial hair, and that "cancel all my meetings ever, or I will kill you stone dead" attitude?

RON SWANSON, everybody.