Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The ultimate revenge

Last weekend, Jane and I were down in the New Forest, celebrating the wedding of one of her former colleagues at a country hotel, and much fun was had by all. In fact, one of my favourite weddings for a long time.

I shall name no parties, Innocent, guilty or otherwise, but all was good until the tab behind the bar ran dry, and we bought our first paid round of drinks.

Me: "One whiskey and American, and two G&Ts please"

Barman: "Ice?"

Me: "Plenty in the gins, none at all in the whiskey for that is a BLASPHEMY"

Barman: "That'll be £28.20 please"

Me: "How much?"

Barman: "£28.20"

Me: "The fuck it is, what's the real price?"

But it really was £28.20, and I waved goodbye to the last three tenners out of my wallet, meaning we'd have to walk back to the B&B.

I'm not saying it clouded the whole weekend, but I took no joy punching owls until eggs came out on our visit to the New Forest Wildlife Park the following day.

So, after letting it stew for a couple of days, and shouting "TWENTY EIGHT QUID!" at anyone who might be listening, I settled for the ultimate act of revenge any man could take.

A middling TripAdvisor review.

"Beautifully appointed country hotel with wonderful amenities and attentive service. But that's all by-the-by because it's TWENTY EIGHT POUNDS for three drinks at the bar and it isn't even London."

Stick those three stars where the sun doesn't shine, Mr Hotel Manager.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


To the New Forest Safari Park, a cavalcade of signs in Comic Sans (The Font of Champions), but we are immediately grabbed by this sign:


However, there is a promise of GIANT OTTER and where do I pay my money to see the giant otter, please just take my money.

Instead, we are ushered to an area where all we can see are normal-sized otters. This is a bit of a let-down and Jane asks a keeper whether this legendary giant otter is - in fact- several normal-sized otters wearing a zip-up giant otter costume.

"No," the keeper replies, "They are not."

We believe her not.

And then...


They are here, and they are frankly massive and not half a dozen normal-sized otters in a zip-up giant otter suits. Jurassic otter. Just don't let them see you.


Oh shit.

And in case you think they're the result of a cruel medical experiment by some sort of mad scientist trying to unleash genetically designed killer otters on an unsuspecting world, here's all the evidence you need:

Designed. Not evolved. QED.

And it's not just concrete, bulletproof Jurassic otters eating your face off. It's the bunnies too.

Watch out. They're bastards.

Monday, October 19, 2015

On making Fleet in Hampshire the best place to live in the world

It's been a long time since I've written to a local paper suggesting 200-foot golden statues of Kylie Minogue for unsuspecting town centres, so I've turned to my local publication the Fleet News and Mail to rectify the situation.

Fleet Services: Major brands, and first chance for a lash outside London
Dear Sirs

Having lived in Fleet for just over three years, I feel that I am at last qualified to join the debate on what is best for this town of ours. And while there are well-meaning types trying to revive the town centre, I fear that their efforts are wasted because the town is – well – dull.

Perhaps this dullness is the feature that many people love about Fleet, but the fact that it has literally nothing to draw in the tourist pound and potential hordes of celebrity residents is holding the town back. Alan 'Howling Laud' Hope aside, the most famous person in this town is my Nissan Micra which once starred in a Specsavers advert, which is pretty poor when you consider Aldershot has somebody who dared to marry Katie Price and God preserve his poor, broken body.

So, what can we do? I have a dream. A dream driven by a cheese overdose because they've started doing Emmental in slices, but a dream none the less. And I woke up this morning and compiled a short list that the Fleet Future people might like to take on board:

You say shopping centre dying on its arse; I say potential icy battlefield
The old cafĂ© area in the Hart Centre? Flood it, freeze it and – hey presto – it's an ice rink. Extend it into the deserted Woolworths unit, and you'd have a rink big enough for an ice hockey team, and we'll be severing fingers and trading blows with top-level teams from Bracknell, Basingstoke and Guildford in no time. Granted, there are a few sharp edges that might take a kiddiewink's eye out, but you take your risks the second you strap a couple of razor sharp blades to your feet anyway. In some towns (mostly in remote parts of the West Country), nine-fingered, one-eyed children are considered lucky.

Fleet Pond. Yes, it's very nice, but it's just a big pond. Get a couple of well trusted individuals (respected TV presenters, leaders of national raving loony political parties etc) to lie about seeing the Fleet Pond Monster, and I guarantee the crowds will flock to the town. A convincing back story saying that it was disturbed from an aeons-old slumber by recent dredging operations will tip the sceptics over the edge and give the whole thing an air of Godzilla-like respectability. The possibilities are limitless: Tourist leaflets, snack bars, official merchandise, the whole nine yards. I'm reasonably good at Photoshop, so faking this will be a breeze.

What respected TV presenter Chris Packham might look like if he were to abandon his principles and tell the world's media that he saw a huge lizard monster emerging from Fleet Pond (which he won't)
Which leads us to:

Fleet Services. Face it. This is the elephant in the room - the only thing that people know about Fleet and it's because they need the toilet. That's why the only thing we can do it celebrate it: Fleet Services Theme Park. Roller coasters, log flume, National Express coach toilet horror ride, model village showing our many, many, many restaurants. We can make this North Hampshire's answer to Peppa Pig World, with the added advantage that millions of Londoners (some of them bona fide celebrities) will have to pass through Fleets Services Theme Park to get there simply because they need the toilet.

And finally:

200-foot gold statue of Kylie Minogue. I've had the Aussie songstress in storage for the last few years after another town briefly showed interest then let me down (not naming names, but I'm looking at you Weymouth), so she's free to the first taker. There's a local connection too, because there's every chance she's driven down the M3 past Fleet on her way to more interesting places on the south coast, which makes our town the ideal place for her likeness standing athwart of the Hart Centre, naked as the day she was born. Also, the storage rental is killing me, and I've got to make space for a similar 200-foot golden likeness of her sister Dannii on the way over from China because it was too late to cancel the order.

Imagine this, only twenty times the size and without the fish lips
Yes, I know Fleet is officially the best place to live in the UK, but my four-point plan could make it even better, and should shut up the boo-boys, nay-sayers and moaning minnies for once and for all.

I am not mad.

Your pal, Albert O'Balsam

Friday, October 16, 2015

A cavalcade of James Bond FACTS!

I bloody love James Bond, but did you know...?

James Bond's hobby is wiping his arse on expensive cars while playing pocket billiards

The entry requirement for Spectre is sticking your winky in a dead pig's mouth

The entry requirement for the Double-O section is sticking a pig's winky into a dead member of Spectre's mouth
The entry requirement for Q Division is to invent a fake winky that explodes when stuck into a dead pig's mouth

"Do you know who'd make a great James Bond? Dawn French!" - If you hear anyone use this argument, you are legally obliged to run them over with a tractor

Bond is set to regenerate into his seventh official incarnation at the end of Spectre. Smart money's on Dawn French. Or Ron Weasley

Here he is again. Expensive car, fiddling with his bits through his trousers
Bond actually hates Vodka Martinis Shaken Not Stirred, but he can't drink pints on duty because it makes him need to wee every five minutes

Q is worth ten points in Scrabble, something he always mentions in the presence of M (three points)

For the love of God, man. People are watching.
The next Bond film will dump the Bond Girl in favour of a CGI cool cartoon dog called Poochy James Hound. Bond will not be having sex with James Hound, unless Ron Weasley takes on the role

Bond's eulogy for M at her funeral ("Leader, inspiration, but above all - GILF") has since been carved onto her gravestone

You think you've hidden your foul habit by draping your jacket over the target area.
Stop. Just stop.
Let's hear it for James Bond! The dirty car-frotting pervert.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Vulcan Tour hits Farnborough

To a small hill overlooking Farnborough Airport, birthplace of British aviation, to see XH558, the last surviving Vulcan bomber make a farewell flypast before she is grounded.

I've been in a Vulcan, and it is a thing of noisy, deadly beauty and a living monument to the billions of pounds poured down the toilet during the Cold War. Vulcans and Lightnings - we knew what we were doing back then, which was mostly building airframes round hugely powerful engines to see what they would do.

The Lightnings went years ago (although there's one in the FAST Museum at Farnborough), and now it's farewell to the last of the Vulcans.

And it seems like everybody and their dog is there to see it, and there is some severe camera envy. That line in the background is some of the worst parking you will ever see in your life, and there was literally a cast of thousands on the heathland. (I parked really badly somewhere else, so don't go blaming me)

And here she comes.

Closely followed by...

And there she goes.

Then everybody went home, and Farnborough Airport was left to its executive jets.

Bye bye Vulcan. You were ace. And loud. But mostly ace.

Friday, October 09, 2015

On not feeding the trolls

 It's a known maxim on the internet that you shouldn't respond to trolls. They are - by and large - terrible people who thrive on the attention that is sadly missing from their everyday lives. Do not give them the time of day, for they are really weak and damaged and probably have very small private parts.

But if you MUST engage with them, be horrbily, horribly polite. Type in Stephen Fry's voice. They hate that.

For eg:

He said: "I'm not racist, I just hate ALL muslims"

I pointed out that this was - in fact - very racist, and he might like to cease his all-caps ranting and reconsider his position. After all, this is where proper grown-ups come to talk.

He didn't like my suggestion one little bit, and after a bit of a one-sided to-and-fro, suggested some violent modifications to my body, which to any reasonable person resembled punishments under Shari'ah Law. For example, the removal of one or more limbs so that I would not be able to type reasonable and polite replies in his general direction.

I told him this was a ludicrous suggestion, especially that Siri now comes with voice activation, and that I'd probably work out how to type with my nose sooner or later. I also suggested that while he might be very racist, his limb-removal service in the name of correcting people's behaviour shows that he subconsciously supported the Shari'at of the Muslim faith which he despises.
This was all too much for him, and things, sadly, went rapidly downhill from there.

Remember kids: Politeness costs nothing.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

A New Low in my Life (Episode 386)

A new low amongst many, many lows. But here I am carrying my lunch back to the office from the local Tesco Express, having loaded a sandwich, a banana and a price-reduced Hoisin Duck Sushi Taster pack into a dog poo bag which I found in my coast pocket.

An unused dog poo bag, because I'm not some sort of animal.

On this - the third day of the government's new tax on single-use plastic bags from supermarkets - I have made a substantial saving of five new pence.

I'd treat myself to something utterly luxurious, but even penny chews are probably 10p each these days.

A new low indeed.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


I just realised this photo of Wilson doing a footplant is a meme in the making. So I memed it up. Memed it up good.

You're welcome.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Friday, October 02, 2015

Harry Potter Facts!

I bloody love Harry Potter. He's ace. But did you know...?

At one point during his Hogwarts career, Potter was nothing but a badly-drawn floating head, the result of a prank by noted dickheads, the Weasley Twins

The Sorting Hat is not magical at all, and is simply Dumbledore throwing his voice. The tell-tale signs are the fact that it's actually "Bryffindor", and one first year found himself assigned to "Gottle of Geer" house.

The original challenges in the Tri-Wizard Tournament were:
  • Cancelling a LinkedIn account
  • Running through a council estate in Middlesbrough in full wizard costume shouting "I do believe in fairies, I do, I do"
  • Kicking Professor Snape up the arse

The unpublished last page of book seven reveals Harry still living under the stairs at the Dursleys at 4 Privet Drive, making up the adventures in his head to dampen the fear of Uncle Vernon's nightly visits. [It's not what you think - Uncle Vernon just wants Harry to fix his laptop because it's running so slowly with Windows 95 these days, and hardly connects to the internet and somebody obviously hacked those photos Mrs Dursley found]
Here's next year's Defence Against The Dark Arts master

The correct pronunciation of Hermione is HER-MEE-OWN. JK Rowling says she will "personally shit up" people who insist on calling her HER-MY-ONNY. "I just wish I had called her Jo," says JK, "It's so much easier to type. Like Ron."

Butter Beer is dead people. Additionally, you can fight off Death Eaters by offering them a Happy Meal

Mention Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross station and the kiddiewinks love it. But tell them about the magical place in the third cubicle down in the gents' toilets at Paddington, and you get an ASBO

The popular Nimbus 2000 broomstick has been grounded after it emerged that Nimbus falsified the diesel emissions test over a period of 20 years. The Firebolt has also lost its flight certification due to a poor safety record, leaving many wizards with no choice but to walk

Noted dickheads the Weasley Twins think Dapper Laughs is "a ledge"

Dumbledore once magicked a Hufflepuff inside out "for shits and giggles" one night in a drunken bet with Professor McGongall. They never speak of it.

SPOILER! Everybody knows that He Who Cannot Be Named used the anagram "Tom Marvolo Riddle" to disguise his true identity of "I am Lord Voldemort". However, an original name for the character was Uesless Tawt, for which there are no known anagrams

Owls are actually really shit at delivering post, especially if you run a mail order small rodent business, as noted dickheads the Weasley Twins found out to their cost

A defeated Draco Malfoy gave up magic altogether, and is now personally in charge of all UK Job Centres. Noted dickheads the Weasley Twins are his assistants

Despite his heroics that sprang from his years at Hogwarts (still a 'failing' school in its latest OFSTED report due to all the hideously twisted and painful deaths in Dark Arts classes) Harry still says his greatest feat was being winked at by a naked lady in one of the paintings in the staff lounge
In the Harry Potter universe, salt and vinegar crisps come in a yellow packet, which is a blasphemy unto all right-thinking people

Let's hear it for Harry Potter!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Hazel at 21

Me first-born is 21-years-old today, and - contrary to what you might think - it's not my style to put up embarrassing photos of the former Scaryduckling as a toddler.

So here's one of her as a grown-up.

She's currently going up and down skyscrapers in New York (a parental birthday present), so I can get away with not sending a card for a couple of days. Despite my parental input, she's turned into an intelligent and caring young person, and I'm terribly proud of her. In fact, the same goes for Adam as well.

Happy birthday, young lady.