Diamond Dogs it Out


The scene: An office in Canary Wharf, London.

Bob Diamond: “I’m resigning”
Marcus Agius : “You can’t resign, I’m resigning. In fact I’ve already resigned”
BD: “When?”
MA: “Earlier on. Before you did, anyway !”
BD: “You never told me!”
MA: “Well do I have to tell you everything?”
BD: “Yes, frankly”
MA: “You were out hunting with old baldy Hester. Couldn’t get hold of you”
BD: “Anyway, it’s me who has to go. They’ve got me by the balls”
MA: “I thought you were gonna dog it out ? You said to me ‘fuck them, they don’t understand what we do anyway. I’ll tell the MPs on Wednesday to go fuck themselves’. That’s what you said to me”
BD: “Well I’ve been thinking. I haven’t got the balls to front this one out.”
MA: “You’re an American, for Christ’s sake ! You can’t go around admitting to anything now. You’re letting down generations. That’s not the American way.”

A Secretary buzzes through: “Stephen Hester on the line, Mr Diamond. He wants to know if you’re free for a jog around Canary Wharf at lunchtime”
BD. “Oh I need that fat fucker right now, don’t I ? Tell him to bugger off. Tell him I’m away. Tell him anything. Tell him I’m dead”

Bob and Marcus resume their chat:

BD: “Listen. I’ve got my $100 million Dollars out of this lot. I would think I’ll get a nice payoff and Gideon will sort me out, so I’m catching the first stage outta Dodge. Then I’m gonna play a hell of a lotta golf. I’m good mates with Tiger.”
MA: “I Bet you are. Oh Bollocks! What the hell am I supposed to do now ? If I’d have known you were gonna resign I’d have never jumped. I’ve up shit creek with a  poxy couple of million. Plus my payoff, of course. And my shares. Not forgetting the Christmas bonus.”
BD: “Jeeze, sorry, Bud…..Hey wait: I gottit !”
MA: “Oh Christ, what now?”
BD: “No, hear me out. I get a cab up to Regen…er…Bond Street, buy a big leather trunk in which to put all my cash, but on the way back I stop off at Downing Street (I’ll get the cabbie to park round the back) and suggest to Gideon and Davey that you come back but (and here’s the smart part) we’ll say it’s only so that you can choose my successor. You know: we’ll use the ‘we don’t want to leave the ship rudderless‘ bullshit that everyone uses. The public will lap it up”
MA: “They’ll never buy it”
BD: “Why not ?”
MA: “Well for starters, I’ve already said that I was “Truly sorry” for everything and…”
BD: “And What ???”
MA: “er…..well, I think I may have said we were guilty of an ‘unacceptable standard of behaviour’ and that the ‘buck stops with me’
BD: “Oh for Fuck’s sake, Marcus ! Why the hell did you go and do a thing like that ?”
MA: “I thought it might be for the best. Sorry, Bob”
BD “Robert
MA: “Robert, sorry. So they’re not gonna take me back now. How would it look ?”
BD: “When did you say you did all this ?”
MA: “Yesterday morning. It was all over BBC Salford and everything
BD “Hmmm…” (thinks)
“Oh Fuck it, let’s give it a shot. No one will remember that far back. What’s Nick Robinson‘s number ? He’s pretty tame…..”

How to Cock Up Like Hester


“There was a period of remorse and apology for banks and I think that period needs to be over…I really resent the fact that you refer to this as blackjack or casino banking or rogue trading,” Barclays’ Diamond Bob goes on the attack at the Treasury Select Committee, 11th Jan 2012

“The reports in the media this morning are both inaccurate and premature.” RBS denies reports of £1m-plus bonus Stephen Hester, 18th Jan 2012

(SKY NEWS) Stephen Hester is to get a bonus of almost £1m, a figure which has drawn criticism of pay deals at the taxpayer-funded institution. Stephen Hester is to get 3.6 million shares in the bank worth £963,000, along with a salary of £1.2m. RBS group chairman Sir Philip Hampton said the company was “aware of the difficulties in trying to reconcile the competing objectives of all our stakeholders”, especially on pay. RBS doesn’t deny reports of £1m-plus bonus Stephen Hester, 27th Jan 2012

“We’re well on the road to recovery. Fingers crossed all the bugs have been got out but we feel a corner has been turned…things back to normal by early next week.” RBS Stephen Hester on the, still to be fixed IT problems which has seen millions of customers’ accounts frozen. 27th June 2012
.

“Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond has admitted for the first time that the bank made a conscious decision to falsify Libor rates in order to protect the bank at the height of the financial crisis.” Left-wing tabloid rag The Daily Telegraph cranks up the pressure on Diamond Bob over his knowledge of dodgy deals within Barclays. June 28th 2012

“Barclays boss Bob Diamond says he will not resign.” Shock news in a BBC headline, June 29th 2012.

“Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds have been accused of systematically rigging financial markets in a growing international scandal which wiped billions off the value of shares in Britain’s biggest banks.” The Daily Telegraph with more good news for RBS fans and customers. June 29th 2012

Stephen Hester admits to stealing from his own granny, murdering Lady Diana, selling dodgy Olympic Tickets and starting the Second World War. Diamond Bob admits to shooting, butchering and eating Shergar. Both men say they are “determined to ride out the storm” The Sharp Single, June 31st 2012.

A British All-Conners Record


The Daily Telegraph writes:

Olympic beer to cost £7.23 a pint


Bars at the official Games venues will charge £4.80 for a small serving of London 2012 red wine. For visitors with an appetite for traditional British fare, a portion of cod and chips will set them back at least £8.

The London 2012 organisers, who published sample menus yesterday, claimed the prices were “more than comparable” to catering costs at other sporting events. An estimated 14 million meals will be served to spectators across 40 locations during the Games.

Paul Deighton, chief executive of London 2012, said the organisers had “gone to great lengths” to find “high quality, tasty food that celebrates the best of Britain”.

A 330ml bottle of Heineken lager at the Games will cost £4.20, making the equivalent price of a pint £7.23. This is more than double the national average price of £3.17 for a pint of beer.

Spectators will pay £2.10 for a toasted teacake, £2.30 for a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola and £2 for a cup of tea. A family of four should be able to buy food and drinks for under £40, according to London 2012. “

They say this last bit without a hint of irony. That’ll be 40 quid on top of the four £450 tickets to watch 20 minutes of the 1m synchronized ping pong. But who the fuck cares any more? We let these robbers get away with it, as we string up our flags and bunting, wave our Union Jacks and remark “ooh hasn’t that nice Mr Coe got old since he took over the games ?”. Of course he looks old. So would you if you had to lug great wads of cash home every night, under the cover of darkness.

Let’s not worry about it. Let’s light up the barbies, sing God Save the Queen for the Jubilee and give thanks that in these harsh times of mass unemployment, crime and poverty, when more and more are driven to stealing to feed themselves and their families, when the southern half of continental Europe is about to go under, we still have a time and the tact to celebrate and wave at a woman who drives around in a solid gold coach.

Let’s shout “C’mon Ingerlund” as the Ukrainian and Polish Nazi Parties beat the shite out of football fans from ethnic backgrounds (well, anyone who isn’t Ukrainian or Polish really), and all this because Michel Platini and his Uefa mafia turn a blind eye to racism and violence within football culture, just as long as he gets his big bucks (or small Euros at the time of going to press). I do not have the data on the price of Heineken beer in Kiev.

Then when a football match breaks out on the pitch and our team loses we can slaughter Roy Hodgson for picking completely wrong 11 idiots, as there were 11 other idiots waiting at home in bed with their friend’s wives, trying to take their minds off of not being selected.

Lets sit back and enjoy the liars of the world: Blair, Cameron, Murdoch (+1), Hunt, Wade, Coulson and the rest of them squirm their way around the questions which would and should bring down the lot of them. But they won’t. You know they won’t. Come the end of Leveson, and save for a couple of minor-ish victims and sacrifices like Brooks and Coulson, the Murdoch Empire, the Fleet St rags and the British Government will still be in place and will still operate in exactly the same way.

Some people moan about it and sites like the one you are reading make a fuss about all this shit now and then, but it doesn’t really do anything or matter in any way shape or form, does it? If it mattered, more than 32% of the country would get out and vote these crooks, thieves and tramps out of office. If it mattered there would be a day of action against arseholes like Andrew Lansley, Michael Gove and Nick Clegg EVERY WEEK, not just once every winter equinox.

So enjoy the next few months. Don’t trip over the maypole or the bunting this weekend; when the football arrives, cheer and clap and the local police, the UEFA officials and the TV cameras ignore the Zeig Heil chants and the Nazi Salutes; smirk and laugh as one-by-one cabinet minister after cabinet minister lies his way out of court; stand and salute and sympathize with the judge trying to get to the bottom of this really sordid scandal, only to be left with the head of the odd PM spin doctor, or Eton old boy to show for it;

Wash that MacDonald’s Olympic burger down with your pint of Heineken. That’ll be well worth fifteen quid of anyone’s money. But not mine. I shall be spending the odd £2.60 on a pint in The Shovel then nip across the road to the chip shop, or maybe the kebab house where I can pick up a large meal for the price of a 330ml bottle of imported Olympic lager. Then I’ll nip home to see if there’s any cricket on to watch. There’s no telly in The Shovel, so it’ll be cans of Guinness on the sofa, in front of the box for me. So keep your over-priced games, your over-hyped jubilee, and your über-alles Championship.
I’ll keep my kebab and a pint. You have your Red-White-and-Blue season. I’ll be happy with my Doner Summer.

 

What Goes Around Comes Around. But Only Time Will Tell.


It’s been a roller coaster ride, an accident waiting to happen, in some cases it’s been every mother’s nightmare and lots of other clichés which journalists resort to when they can think of nothing original to write.

It seems as if the worm has turned (there’s another one) and this morning feels like the dawning of a new era (ahem). You know something of biblical proportions (ding!) has happened when The Sunday Times calls for a United States of Europe and a single currency as the only way of getting out of the mess we’re  in, thanks to Greekenomics (ping!). Honestly, yes they are. Don’t believe me ? I would say look it up online, but, of course, News International websites require a subscription. Of course they do. Do you really think you could get quality journalism like that for free? No, pop up to your local Tesco express (there’ll be one at the top of the road, I assure you) and pick yourself up a copy (for our younger readers, it looks like several dozen sheets of paper with words and photos printed on them, stacked together and folded in half, vaguely resembling one of those old book thingies. It’ll have the words The Sunday Times written on the front. And they’ll be a lot of unsold ones laying in a pile next to a similar but much smaller pile of something called The Mail on Sunday. Such is the country we live in).

When a Rupert Murdoch title starts eschewing the virtues of a single, fiscal, federal country called :”Europe” as the only way out of the mire you know two things: 1) Some big shit is about to go down and; 2) That is the view of the Sunday Times Editor and his alone and it in no way relates to any view the proprietor may or may not hold.

These ideas would, before now, be a red reg to a bull (beep!) to any right-wing eurosceptic worth his salt. The fact that The Sunday Times is the standard-bearer for your local right-wing eurosceptic makes this all the more worrying. Somehow, somewhere (probably in downtown Athens), something has hit the air-conditioning system and the resulting spray of faeces is landing in the eyes of anyone within a time zone or three.

This call for one, enormous, unified country suggests, of course that it will include every man woman, child and state in Europe, except, of course The UK and our old friends, the former owners of the Elgin Marbles. We surely will be outside the tent, pissing in (bong!), but the rest of continental Europe will be inside pissing out. And all over us. As befits our standing as the awkward bastards of the continent, we will be left with only the USA and Greece to trade with. I hope you like Retsina with your hamburger, cos that’s all there is.
( I was going to write that the Greeks do a nice line in eternal flames, but as the Olympic flame went out as soon as the British delegation arrived recently – no symbolism there – I shan’t)

But I didn’t pick up this change of tack (woop!) by reading the Sunday Times (the restraining order put in place by my doctor – banning me coming within a quarter-mile of a News International title – is still in force), no, no, no. This point of view was first put to me by Mr A Heckler (you will have read some of his nasty little comments on these very pages) while we were en route (ahooowhar) to a rugby match in Twickenham yesterday. While the rest of the passengers in our train carriage were discussing the probable outcome of the match between Ulster and Leinster (no, nor did I until recently), the big man and I were chatting about the state of the markets, economic policy and the collapse of the Euro. God! we’re a fascinating couple to be around, I can tell you.

And such was the vigour and enthusiasm with which we put across our views that we both found ourselves rather thirsty and, as soon as the train stopped at Twickers, we rushed to a nearby hostelry.

(Excuse me for diverting form the subject, but I have just had to pause to switch off the TV. Nicky Campbell‘s Sunday morning program has just started. I mis-heard his opening lines of the show when he said “Is there a difference between a cult and a religion?”. I immediately shouted to myself “Yes there is. One is worshiped in a church and the other is a failed DJ who has a sunday morning program.” It’s ok. TV’s off now. I am back).

…and relax…

Now, what I should have said to the barman was, clearly “Two pints of expensive watery Guinness please, and could you pour them into really flimsy plastic beakers for me, mate?” But not having been in this situation too often as of late, I merely said “Two pints of Guinness, mate,please”. At the drop of a hat (bingbong!), or at least far too quickly to have poured fresh, stout, our man returned with the legend “Ten Pounds, please, mate”. Almost immediately I calculated that him charging me £10 for two pints meant that they were charging £5-a-pint for one. My life passed before me, (whohoo!) I couldn’t believe my ears,(cha-ching) and the ground opened up before me (peep!).

I used what will doubtless becoming a cliché of my own: “£5 for a pint ? You robbing f*cker!”. A pal in the bar checked: A pint of Guinness (before half of Ireland arrived in town for the match) cost £3.80 in this pub. Now you might think that was a big enough markup for any pub. Clearly not. (For the record the pun was The Tup, Twickenham (pictured). Be my guest and boycott these robbing bastards. I’m sure the other boozers in town did/do the same, but this was the one I was in. W*nkers.)

All day I never worked out which fans were supporting Leinster, and who were cheering for Ulster (though the replica strips the all wore could have given me a visual clue, I guess). In the stadium, one half shouted “Leinster, Leinster, Leinster,” while the rest simultaneously wailed “Ulster, Ulster,Ulster”. The result was a constant “Leulster, Leulster, Leulster” bellowed by 85,000 passionate Irishmen. Leulster may or may not be another in a long line of Irish counties I’ve never heard of, but boy, the mob we watched yesterday can sure play rugby. And they sure can drink.

I don’t know what they would have shouted when a barman charged them £5 for a pint of Guinness, and I don’t know how many Euros that converts to, but I suspect the language was blue, either in English or Gaelic. In a final act of stupidity/arrogance/sebcoeism (and you’ll read that word again here until I make it my own cliché), these 80-odd-thousand thirsty Irishmen couldn’t get a pint of Guinness in the stadium because the competition was sponsored by and named after a rival beer. Pathetic, ain’t it ?

Business is business, but if that isn’t a missed opportunity in-the-name-of competition, I don’t know what is. In the end, the bar I was queuing at even run out of the eponymous lager. In the world’s most expensive capital, we hike up our beer to glean 100s of percents in markup, then we deprive 85,000 thirsty Irish rugby fans, not only the opportunity to spend a week’s wages on one of our pints, but we also run out of the alternative too. Well done. Very well, done. Brought to you my the country that organised the ticketing for the Olympics.

It’s no wonder no-one in Europe cares if we’re inside or outside their tent.

These are my pearls of wisdom for today. The writing is on the wall. (Babumtischhh!)


And Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now


I think it was Nana Mouskouri who said something like “Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean the fuckers aren’t out to get you”. It’s a mantra I pretty much live my life by. Yes, I’m fully aware I am paranoid (it comes with the communist dad and the Che Guevara posters) but I also know in my heart of hearts that they are out to get me. And they’re winning.

I  woke up this morning to the news that The Halifax Building Society is to announce a rise in interest rates, pushing up the cost of mortgages for those with variable mortgages. Have a guess who I have a mortgage with ? Yes, that’s right – The Woolwich. No, not really – The Halifax Building Society. And, in the words of Jimmy Cricket, “C’mere, there’s more”:

I’ve been on a fixed-rate deal with The Halifax for several years now, getting stuffed by playing it safe with a 5% deal when the interest rates plunged. But I always kidded myself, using that phrase all us fixed-rate bods use “I always know what’s coming out of my account every month” (e.g. just about everything). My deal finished in February. I “clinched” a new, variable rate deal last week. The letter of confirmation came through yesterday.

And tomorrow they’re putting the rate up.

If you don’t think that’s bad luck, bad timing or even sinister you might like to bear in mind I have to pay something like 3 points above the normal cos I rent my house (you’ll remember Railway Cuttings) while I skulk in the potting shed, down here in the countryside. I do this, not because I’m a property developer, but because I haven’t had a job in close to 2 years. and the rent from my house is my salary. The Halifax won’t let you just rent out your house. You have to declare it and take our a landlord’s mortgage, a “Consent to Lease Agreement”. When I came to move out and rent out, I decided to play it fair and above-board and tell the Halifax. It is much more expensive than a regular mortgage they told me. Much more. I wasn’t happy.

“You do know, don’t you” I inquired of them “that I’m the only bloke I know who actually declares that they’re renting out their house? That I’m being punished for being honest ?” This fell on deaf eyes. Even as I was telling them, I imagined limos full of Halifax Henchmen descending on me to force me to spit out the names of these others who were not declaring their lease.

When my 4 year old fixed-rate ended (you can imagine what I paid on a deal taken out in pre-crash 2007), because of the higher payments demanded of an obvious property magnate like me, my monthly payment actually went up. (There’s a longer version to this story where I was informed by Dartford Branch that my payments would go down but apparentlywhoevertoldmethatwasmisinformedandyourpaymentswillactuallybegoingupMrBealingandwe’resorry-youweregiventhewronginformationandhere’s70quidtosaysorryeventhoughwedontadmittoanywrongdoingonourpart)

But we won’t go there. Cos I get angry about it.

SEVENTY QUID !!!

cvnts

So the small salary I get from my house lets me stretch to about a couple of packets of biscuits and a pint of milk each month. From tomorrow I’ll be deficient in the Bourbon department to the tune of one.

The author and one of his his little "runarounds".

Petrol has hit a new high too. Unleaded (I’m told, cos I never bother looking at the pumps any more) is now 137p or more per litre. It now costs nearly £80 to fill up The Incumbent’s motor. So we don’t bother any more. The 17yr old of the house has just passed his driving test too, so from 3 weeks ago were filling 2 motors. (and before you start, tree-huggers: Fuck Off.)

In an effort to boost (Ha!, boost) the sales of T-shirts from our fledgling Generic Logo Company, I have spent 3 weeks (yes honestly) on the phone and email trying to set up credit card payments. I’ve been regularly on to the host website called, I kid you not Mr Site, who are in Delhi or Mumbai or similar. I have also been on to some mob called Cardinal Commerce who are part of the Mastercard verification process and are in Ohio, USA. And I have been talking at length to Paypal, who are in Dublin. Whatever is supposed to be happening isn’t. Paypal blame Cardinal, blame Mr Site. I DON’T CARE. It’s probably me who has input something wrong. I JUST WANT IT WORKING. I have asked them all to pretend this is the first time I’ve ever set up a credit card verification arrangement across 3 continents and 13 time zones, and to pretend that this is what they do every day. No-one seemed to get my inference.

So we’re back to where we started and until these three titans of the business world get their collective arse in gear, T-shirts can only be bought if you have a Paypal account. I know this will come as a blow to most of you who had just fished-out your VISA or Mastercard from your handbags and were about to buy a rude tee from us, but you’ll need a Palpal account now. I know, it’s gutting.

But I’m not holding my breath. The contract on that pad in Cap Ferrat remains unsigned until the “business” actually sells anything.

So, in short, I’m skint (all of my spare cash having been invested in unsold t-shirts); petrol is at a record high and I need twice as much of it as I did before; and my mortgage costs 100 quid-a-month more than it did before Christmas.

But through all this I am considering voting Tory. Or LibDem. Or both, if I can.

I know.

Why? Well, it’s simple. Someone called Johnny Marr says he and the Smiths (and one can only presume this includes the Morrissey) will reform if the coalition steps down. According to the Guardian:

Johnny Marr has offered to reform the Smiths, on just one tiny condition: David Cameron‘s coalition government steps down. “How’s that?” he quipped at the NME awards. “I think the country’d be better off, don’t you?”

Now if that isn’t a good enough reason to support David Cameron, Gideon Osborn, Toady Clegg and this wonderful government’s fiscal policies, I don’t know what is.

Shred the Fred


There is a real danger, I am told, that if what the Institute of Directors is calling “anti business hysteria” continues in this country then it is more than likely that the City’s best and highest-regarded executives will leave the UK for other markets.  Former CBI Chief Digby Jones (you’ll remember him from the movie “Digby, the World’s Biggest Cvnt”) told the BBC that there was a “faint whiff of the lynch mob on the village green” about the decision to strip Fred Goodwin of his Knighthood. He too lamented and warned of the possible situation of the UK no longer being attractive to the best and brightest in the financial world.

What ? You mean we won’t be able to call on the services of fuckers like Goodwin, who almost single-handedly brought down the UK economy, got found out then fucked off to retirement with a pension bigger than the Greek national debt ? (coinciding nicely with the rest of the country’s pensions going down the Swanny.) Oh dear. Oh fuck me. No, no, you’re right. He will be a loss. Him and his ilk. Can’t we give him another knighthood ?
Sir Sir Fred has a lovely ring about it.

How’s your pension, by the way ? Alright, is it? Good. Listen, don’t feel too bad about Fred losing his Sirship. He still receives a taxpayer-funded pension of £342,500 a year for life from RBS. That’s nice of them innit? I have written to Her Maj The Queen on the occasion of the anniversary of her 60 years as our figurehead requesting she sticks her Knighthood up her arse, just as long as I can get a pension like that from the same taxpayers who unwittingly bailed out my shite company in the first place. Whether The Sharp Single will ever be state owned, I have no idea, but it certainly won’t be responsible for bringing the country to the verge of financial oozalumness. (yes, it’s a word!) And if it does, I shall certainly expect you lot to stump up cos I’m an incompetent/crooked*** bastard. (delete where applicable).

There is something quite comforting that Goodwin will forever be linked with Robert Mugabe, Anthony Blunt, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Benito Mussolini as someone who’s had his knighthood revoked. I am past caring whether this is fair or a just comparison. If I was a former RBS worker I would find it hilarious. Come to think of it, I’m not but it still is. I’d keep away from low-flying lamp posts if I were Fred.

Then there’s Stephen Hester, the next on the long, never-ending conveyor belt of this lot. The current chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, has taken home more than £11m in shares and cash since being parachuted in to run the bailed-out bank in October 2008. (All that money, all those brains but not a decent barber shop to be seen ?)

He was forced at gunpoint to return his bonus, just short of a million quid, such was the outcry from the media and politicians.  I am told, by people inside the city that this sum was “peanuts for what he did”, and that it was a “joke” that he had to give it back, when he handles huge sums of money for RBS, picking up pieces from the wreckage of the company left by (who els?) Sir Sir Fred. This is partly true.

Hester does handle huge figures. Like the 20,600 redundancies made by RBS, after it announced profits of £1.1bn profits last year. Huge figures indeed. In a country based on the old Latin motto, “Fuck You, Jack, I’m Alright” we shouldn’t be surprised at this sort of behaviour.

It was, after all, this attitude which saw Lord Snooty and his mate Gideon rise to power in the first place (and their mentor Tony Bliar was little better). But even Osborne and Cameron looked flushed in the face when they were asked about the morals of a public servant (albeit a very very well paid one) dispensing of 20,000 people due to financial meltdown caused by the stupifying errors that he and his cronies made, then taking home a million quid bung while those 20,000 people and millions like them struggle to find work in this world fucked by the banking industry which made them redundant in the first place. Even George Osborne,  EVEN GEORGE GIDEON OLIVER OSBORNE looked (I said looked, didn’t say was) too embarrassed to justify this ultimate act of arrogance.

Scare away this lot from the country ? Good. Fuck off the lot of you.

Read this BBC story this morning ?

Australia bus boss gives staff $16m sale share

Australian Ken Grenda may have sold his bus company, but his staff of almost 2,000 are smiling. Mr Grenda gave cash bonuses totalling A$15m ($16m, £10m) from proceeds of the sale to employees of his 66-year-old Melbourne-based company.

The bonuses, averaging A$8,500, were based on the length of service. Some workers received A$30,000 to A$100,000 each, Australian media reported. The company was sold to Ventura, another transport company, for A$400m. “You know we’ve got employees that stretch over 40 years, so it is a pretty nice thing to do,” Mr Grenda’s son, Scott, told ABC News.

Mr Grenda, who is also the managing director of the company, said his father was sad about selling the business and wanted to show his gratitude to the staff for their service.
A business is only as good as its people and our people are fantastic,” said the senior Mr Grenda, who has been dubbed the ”best” and ”most generous” boss in Australia.

Well that’s his RBS job application fucked for starters. What the hell is he thinking of ?

I have to go now. There’s an angry mob outside (as opposed to that happy and content mob you hear so much about). Hold my torch for me, will you ? I need to sharpen my stake.

The Battle Cruiser


I do love a pub.

And when I say that, I don’t mean a bar, or a cafe bar. Or a restaurant with a bar where you wait while your table is prepared. I mean a pub.

While we’re at it I also don’t mean a converted high street bank. A place which used to be a very good community bank, and is now a very shite community service pub. A place where you can buy “A chicken curry and a pint for £4.99 every Tuesday”. I don’t mean a place adorned with signs announcing “Girls get Purple drinks Half price every Monday, Wednesday and third Sunday”. I mean a pub.

Sometimes a pub's so nice it merits stopping drinking and taking a picture. This is me in the perfect Hoppe in Amsterdam. And not a hot meal in sight.

A pub should generally follow several broad guidelines. A pub should be a place where one goes to meet old friends and make new ones. And drink with them. To that end, the music out of any speakers therein should be soft enough to hear yourself think and talk, loud enough to induce an argument over the singer or the song’s identity. What decent night down the boozer worth remembering didn’t have a row in it ? And an argument over music is as good a place to start as any.

Any live singer or band playing in the pub should adhere to the above decibel guidelines. If such proves impossible, the act should always remember they are playing in a public house and therefore popular, anthem-type songs, mostly over ten years old is a must. I don’t want to sit examining my pint to the strains of the garbage you composed in your garage last night. Save that for the students. Landlords should reserve just one night per week for live music. There are only so many times I want to hear/sing Sweet Caroline down the local: Once at about ten o’clock and one encore. That’s plenty. Unless I’m drunk.

Food is an important thing to consider when running a pub, and I always think a good landlord should follow this rule of thumb: There should be no food in a pub. Packets of nibbles behind the jump are permitted. But, customers, if you want to eat a meal, then make yourself a sandwich before you go out, or go to a restaurant, eat a meal, then go to the pub. Or go down the pub, have a goodly drink, then stagger into a curry house/chinese takeaway after the landlord of the pub has refused you further refreshment.

One of the more annoying sensations is trying to enjoy the happy, hoppy whiff of a well-poured pint only to have your nasal enjoyment interrupted by the odour of fish, chips, gravy and the like. This is a pub, not an eatery. If you get peckish help yourself to peanuts, pork scratchings, pickled eggs or crisps which are available, at a very competitive rate behind the bar. You’ve already rid us of the smell of a smouldering ashtray in the corner (oh, sorry mate, is that your girlfriend ?), don’t start rubbing Ralgex into the groin by putting sachets of ketchup on the table or waving a plateful of sausage ‘n’ mash at me, when I’m only interested in a pint of Light ‘n’ Bitter.

Outdoors Bad

You would think that it would be a prerequisite of owning a pub that you serve beer (or gin, if you really must) in a glass receptacle, wouldn’t you ? No such luck any more, I’m afraid. How many times have you walked up to a bar, ordered a drink only to be greeted by the dreaded phrase “you drinking that inside or out, luv?”  Who hasn’t lied at this juncture, only to be caught out by the potman when he sees you craftily swigging from your glass while standing in the garden cos your girlfriend thought “it’d be nice to drink outside”? You reluctantly hand your drinking vessel back to the glass collector who then transfers its contents into a plastic beaker. Oh, the shame of it. A 2009 United Nations report found that one of the most (some say only) catastrophic results of global warming will be a huge increase of people being forced by women to drink outside and thus being forced to slurp from plastic “glasses”.

There’s nothing like finding a lovely cold, dark pub when the sun’s blazing outside. Or a nice, cozy, warm pub when it’s freezing outside. In short, there’s nothing like finding a nice pub. We don’t go in there to get drunk, you understand? No, we go in there for the craic. Occasional drunkeness is an unfortunate by-product of enjoying the craic, but not a compulsory nor inevitable outcome. His eminence William (Bill) Greaves (see Now Then… elswhere in these pages) has informed us how to behave in such places and situations, and it is clear from his teachings that we should endeavour to conduct ourselves in a dignified way befitting a serious (and let us not forget expensive) pastime such as drinking. Right up to the time we are plastered, that is.

Indoors Good

Is it therefore too much to ask that the landlord should present to us an establishment fit and befitting of this aforementioned due respect to our favourite pasttime? These meeting holes should be places of wonderment and worship. What they shouldn’t be is reminiscent of airport departure lounges with the addition of a John Smith’s pump. We neither want nor need plastic leprechauns on the walls, rows of vodka-shots lined up on the bar or 24/7 football on the enormous tv screens in each and every corner. Take a butchers at The Salisbury, St Martin’s Lane, London (or The Harp just around the corner in Chandos Place) and you’ll see what I mean. You don’t have to be in England to find wonderful watering holes. You may struggle to find a pint of mild, but there are always corners of a foreign field which are perfect spots to while away the hours. Try The Hoppe in Amsterdam which is as close to heaven as you could possibly be without throwing a seven. It has been a bar since 1670 and they’re still wondering how or if to redecorate it! There’s Robert’s Western World in Nashville where, if you can excuse the lack of a decent beer, you can sit and listen to fantastic music while manfully trying to avoid a bourbon overdose. You will fail. It’s sensational because of and in spite of that.

Nearer to home there’s The Fleece in Halifax, if you catch it on the right night. You could do worse than visit my own Shovel in Dartford. A wonderful example of a tiny, well-kept drinking den. Food?  Next door, mate. There’s Henchy’s in Cork, but we don’t have enough time to discuss Irish pubs. Just pick one, you’ll like it.

And why do I go on so ? Haven’t we heard all this before ? Well that’s as maybe. But I have a particular reason for sharing my thoughts with you. After a slight hiccup in the brain department last week, it seems that I’m hurtling towards my first dry Christmas since 1979. No Shovel for me this year. No hangover on Boxing Day, trying to remember what I drunk and when. No, I’m down for lashings of tea and biscuits, with the temptation of a chocolate liqueur ever-present. It may not be as bad as it sounds. You really don’t want a hangover with a malfunctioning brain like mine. And that’s before having a stroke. The spector of repeat performance last week scared the willies out of me so for my own good I’m off the stuff for the foreseeable future.

So you’ll have to have mine for me. Take it sensibly and behave yourself. Enjoy it and enjoy whichever boozer you chose to make your own. You never know, you may end up in The Rose and Crown, swinging on the barmaid’s…er…earrings. I doubt if you’ll find George there though :

Oh, and by the way: This is a pub. Want a coffee? Fuck off to Starbucks.

Buy, Buy, Bye, Bye.


I think I must have put them all in a box which is now in the loft. I remember separating them, dividing them by type, each having their own little baggie. When we moved all my stuff out of Railway Cuttings down to The Potting Shed I’m pretty sure that they were in a box which ended up in the loft. Or the garage. Or under the stairs. Wherever it is, I want to find that box because I’m gonna need it. With the Euro’s future likely to be confined to Pathe News, episodes of QI or International Baccalaureate history exams, I’m gonna need something to spend on my next trip.

There was a bag containing Marks, one which had about thirty quid worth of Francs therein, and another with a collection of Pesetas, Drachmas, Italian lira and and Dutch Guilder. In total I reckon there’s at least 60 quid’s worth of old foreign currency,nearly enough to buy me a cup of coffee on Rue de Rivoli. How glad am I that at the time I couldn’t be bothered to hand over all my loose European change to those charities who, back in 2002, were asking for the coins “we wouldn’t need again”? At last my inertia and apathy towards helping others is paying off. Well that’s my guess anyway.

Now I know I’m only guessing, and my glass is typically half empty, but guesswork is all I’m left with as I’m no economist. No, really I’m not. I know I’m a world authority on cricket, lemons, modern art and movies, but I fall just short when it comes to economic nouse.

Not that the supposed experts know what’s gonna happen either: Tony Blair said that the collapse of the Euro would be “catastrophic” for the UK and urged all of us to get behind it. I don’t actually know how to get behind a euro, but on the other hand Tony once told me that I had 45 minutes to put on my tin hat and get to the air raid shelter before the nasty beardy-wierdies attacked. Well, as Tony’s mate George Bush once said “Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … You can’t get fooled again.” So I think it’s fair to say I won’t be heeding what Blair says. Let’s look farther afield for help:

Chancellor Merkel has indicated that Germany either receives Britain’s support for invading Belg…sorry, for economic treaty changes or Germany will go it alone, drawing a new map of Europe with Germany at it’s fore. Where does she get her ideas from ? The German Chancellor can’t stand the French President Sarkozy, which doesn’t make her a member of a particularly exclusive club, but both countries hate Britain more, and this antagonistic feeling is only second to their disgust at Greece for dropping us all in the mire, so they have common enemies: David Cameron and this week’s Greek PM, [subs: please fill in name here].

Events in Italy seem to have muddied the waters even further. Berlusconi’s finally gone, just not that very far. He’s made it clear he still intends to make a comeback (this man has the Blair-like gift of being unshakeable and unshameable), and anyway, Super Mario Monti looks like he’s in Silvio’s pocket. No measures or acts will get through the Italian Parliament without the former Milanese Media Mogul’s nod. He’s still the leader of the biggest political party in the chamber, and we have learned from past events, he’s never out of the limelight for long. Once he gets a firm grip on either power or a woman’s gusset, he’s a bugger to shake off.

If you believe (and why the hell would you?) the analysts queuing up to talk to reporters, France looks like the next in line to go tits-up. The Euro economy domino theory goes thus: If Greece goes, Italy goes. If Italy goes, France goes. If France , Britain goes, (always bearing in mind that love grows where my Rosemary goes, and nobody knows like me).

No wonder Sarkozy, David Cameron and his attack-poodle George Osborne are looking nervous and sounding unusually vicious, even by their standards. Every one is blaming everyone else for the big pile of doo-doo we find ourselves in. But of course, still no-one is attacking the banks. Small businesses being refused bank loans, poor people being given huge mortgages which they could never have afforded to repay; mass redundancies and huge unemployment causing the collapse of the highs street: all these factors seem to have been forgotten.

The Brit govt blames the public sector workforce for striking in an attempt to save their pensions and pay.; the French blame Greek bin men and schoolteachers for not paying tax; the media blame the Italian citizen for voting for Berlusconi in the first place. UK finance minister Osborne has been blaming the referendum on Scottish devolution for the state of finances north of the border. Sarkozy accused Uraguay of being a tax-haven. Rare indeed for a French politician to consider tax havens as a bad thing. They’ll be coming out against extra-marital affairs next. Merkel, of course, is blaming everyone within spitting distance.

The shites are coming out, all over Europe.

Set for Life


I was watching an old episode of Frasier the other day. I happened across it by chance, luckily catching one of the 48 episodes which my cable channel broadcasts every day. Frasier is the I Love Lucy of the modern age. Wherever you are in the world, some channel somewhere is broadcasting either Frasier or Only Fools and Horses. Bloody good that they both are, I’m beginning to sync-quote them as I was apt to do with Fawlty Towers. And there are only 12 episodes in total of Basil F.  It’s bleedin’ obvious.

Anywhoo, there I was watching Dr Crane and Dr Crane argue about the younger one’s heart-bypass operation, and how he had been, quite frankly, a pain in the arse to all and sundry after the operation, telling any and all that would listen about his new perspective on life, having experienced being “clinically dead” for several seconds. His elder brother was of the opinion he was becoming a boring tit about it.

“That rings a bell”, thought I, and immediately pledged to the surrounded and listening world (just me, in reality) that I’d snap out of this feeling-sorry-for-myself bollocks, grab the bull by the balls and jolly well get on with it. Whatever “it” may turn out to be.

Then, just as I was girding my loins, stiffening my lip and pulling my massive self together, the postman dropped a bombshell through the letterbox, thankfully in a nice way – not a french satirical magazine way. I’m hoping above hope that the ABC Rowan Williams doesn’t throw anything nasty though my window just because earlier in the week I lampooned Mr Yeatman and ‘is Reverence. I’m all in favour of poking fun but the followers of Islam are not known for their humour, nor their tolerance. My flag-waving, liberal rabble-rousing and calling-to-arms suddenly hides under the table in the face of loonies with petrol bombs. I love my free speech. But you have to pick your targets, I reckon. As Frank Spencer once said: “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old,bold pilots.”**
Ditto satirical magazine editors, I reckon.

Anyway, back to my own bombshell. On opening the one letter the  postman had delivered that morning I pulled out a long piece of folded card. It was a luncheon menu from a cruise liner.

Seared scallops, poached pears, cod, lamb…the menu went on and on. It made me feel quite peckish:- well it was 10.30 in the morning and I’d only had 2 breakfasts, thus far. I started to tremble, but not because of the hunger (though that can’t have helped). No, I was trembling because I turned over the menu and there, running the length of the menu was a get well message from a legend.

Abraham Lincoln’s first draft of the Gettysburg Address was first scribbled down on a lunch napkin. There are apparently many John Lennon artworks and poems milling around which he hastily wrote down on the back of beer mats, menus or fag packets. There’s a Warhol sketch of some butterflies which is worth in the region of $30,000 and yet he knocked it out on a tissue (steady), in a couple of seconds between courses over lunch.

But all that pales into insignificance compared to what I held in my hands:

“To Mike

Get much better soon !

With Love

Bonnie Langford

It was too good to be true. In an instant I knew all my worries were over. Forget being out of work. Forget what little remains in my pension fund. Ignore the equity which Tories and the recession are audibly eroding. Let the Greeks do what they want. Have a referendum, don’t have one. I could not one tiny fuck give any more. Double-dip recession ? Pah!

A pal of mine who occasionally works on the boats had risked life and limb, camped outside Bonnie’s cabin for days, then related the plight of his old fat mate, Mike, in order to secure the most sought-after autographs in show-business (not counting that of Dustin Gee.)

When the time comes and I’m down to my my last Bobby Tambling jockstrap and quilted smoking jacket, which on their own will not pay the bills, I shall march up to Sothebys with The Langford Menu under one arm and my signed copy of The Very Best of Chas n Dave under the other, put them both up for sale and my money worries will be a thing of the past.

It is rare that one, let alone two prized items come up under the hammer and I expect intense media interest, similar to that created by Monet’s Water Lillies,   Katie Price’s autobiography I Did it All Wiv Me Tits Out, and Amy Winehouse’s yet-to-be-unearthed-by-her-father fourth album Three Large Doubles (and One for Yourself).

So I’m now thinking of stringing this illness-thingy out a little longer. If I could lay my hands on signed well-wishes from, say, Billie Piper or even Colleen Rooney then the sky is the limit.  So, ooh-err, missus, I’m having another one of me funny turns. Quick nurse! The Screens: it’s happened again.

**Purists will recognise this quote from the Some Mother’s Do Ave Em episode: Oooh Betty! Here come the Mad Mullahs