Helps You Work, Rest and Play

It happens every so often to most of us, I suppose. I went shopping yesterday, having run out of trousers which I didn’t have to undo when I sat down. It was then I had to admit that I’d gone up a size. A year of not walking to-and-from the station, going into town, walking to work and then walking to-and-from Marks&Spencer Simply Food (this is just not any sandwich bar…) has taken it’s toll on the waistline.

Substituting endless worry and rowing with endless cups of Starbuck Latte (extra shot) and never-ending packets of Foxes Whipped Creams biscuits (Sinfully Strawberry)  has inevitably meant I’ve gone from a Grande Regular in the trouser department to a Venti Short (yes, it seems even my legs have shortened).

Yes I’ve often sat here on my Apple iMac Desk Top computer (iThink, therefore iMac) and shared with you my concerns with my weight, but this was the first tangible evidence that something has gone awry. It all came to a head, as it were, when I had a reaction to my new pills. The Docs, in their wisdom took me off Warfarin and put me onto something called Clopidogrel, which sounds more like Bill & Ben’s (BBC1, weekdays at 3.45) name for their pet spaniel than a drug, but apparently these were the pills to rid my brain of the blood clots that have been giving me all the fally-over-sicky problems.

I suffered an allergic reaction to the new course of tablets which manifested itself as a swelling. In fact several swellings. Swellings in very uncomfortable places. The only plus-side was it enabled me to use one of my very favourite one-liners on my doctor. When she (yup, she) asked me what I’d like her to do, I retorted “Take the pain away and leave the swelling”. Nothing. Not a titter.

And that’s as good as it got.

Now, when you’re starting to outgrow your jeans, and your favourite pieces of anatomy are expanding like a couple of GU After dark hot chocolate souffle  (now £2.00 @ Sainsburys ) something’s gotta give.

The chaffing was something shocking. It made sitting in my luxuriant DFS leather sofa (SALE ends Bank Hoiliday Monday)  somewhat painful. Watching your favourite shows on your Sony Bravia (Colour Like No Other) with your body held at an angle of 27 degrees in a vain attempt to easy the throbbing and the scraping from your zipper is not what I had in mind (nor indeed had The Incumbent) when we moved in together.

So, as I say, something had to happen, and three things did: New strides (size to your discretion); a return to the comfort of blood-thinning, dizziness-inducing Warfarin; and a family size tub of Sudcrem (Sooths and Protects).  Splash it all over. Or is that Brut ?

Now that things have calmed down, as it were, I return to my trawling of the news agencies and notice that the twin brains of Rio Ferdinand and Katie Price have been cleared of blatant advertising of Snickers bars on Twitter. Its the thin end of the wedge, made for financial gain and poorly disguised as genuine Tweets to their “fans” (never has the word Twits been more apt).

I suppose Rio and Katie benefited from cash payments and probably a year’s supply of Mars Inc products. There’ll be snickers coming out of Jordan’s arse, which I suspect wouldn’t be a novelty for her. Anyway, the whole practice of subliminal advertising, product placement or any breaches of the codes of the Advertising Standards Authority is surely wrong and immoral, especially when such “adverts” will be seen by the young and vulnerable.

Anyway, I’m off to drive down to town in the RAV4 (which has seen better days, to be honest) to see what I can pick up for lunch at Waitrose (Quality food, Honestly priced). It really is my favourite place and there is, of course, ample free parking.


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.



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.

Don’t Read All About It

Wotcha, sorry I’m late.I just spent an hour in a line waiting for the last ever copy of The News of the World.

No, not really. But I suspect a lot did.

So farewell then etc etc … As horrible as it must be for those hundreds of poor sods, the subs, the secretaries, the IT crew, the designers, the researchers, the ad sales guys, the marketing men and, dare I say, the picture editors who were obliged to fall on their swords to save the the fragrant Rebekah Brooks, I stand before you as an ex-News International employee who can reveal (though not exclusively) that there is life after Wapping: a life of dignity and respectability, of honour and pride, a life where you can at last look yourself in the mirror because you no longer work for that bunch of nasty cnts. (and if you’re reading this, you know who you are).

But I digress.

Dear, dear Rebekah. We are told she offered her resignation to Murdoch and he refused to accept it. Tell you what, love, offer it again. Offer it again and again. Keep offering it until he accepts it.

In a secretly-recorded speech, Brooks told her (former) colleagues that within a year they would all realise why The Screws had to be shut down. How bad is this gonna get???  They have already pissed on the chips of their core readership: the hang em and flog em brigade; Mr & Mrs Castrate-Rapists; those poor families who receive the remains of their loved ones in a Union Flag-draped coffin at RAF Brize Norton. By hacking into the phones of murder victims and war casualties, the NOW have stabbed their week-in-week-out reader straight through the heart. And it’s gonna get worse than this? Jesus, RebeKAH, what the fuck have you lot done? You been funding the Taliban?  You didn’t secretly vote for Gordon Brown, did you ? Kill Diana ??
(Is it only me, by the way, who every time I see her picture I hear the phrase “lollipops, lollipops children” running though my head ?)

The Child Catcher and Rebekah. Separated at birth?

Oh well, we’ll find out soon enough, I guess. At least La Brooks will be tucked in safe and sound in her wapping great office (or is that great Wapping office?). Or maybe not. Let’s see what Rupert has to say when he arrives.The story changes by the minute and there’re sure to be many more twists in the tale, all of them minutely reported by News Int’s rivals.

There’s nothing the press enjoy more than writing about the press. And when one of their rivals gets itself in the mire, then happy, happy days. Pick up any copy of last week’s Mail or Mirror, Guardian or Telegraph and you will be overwhelmed by the stench of smugness, and self-righteousness. Just imagine ! Paying the Police for information !!!!! How disgraceful !!!

Yeah, right.

Working on one American magazine (the exact name escapes me) during the 7/7 terrorist attack story, I remember voicing my astonishment that we didn’t have a tame copper on board who’d pass us information. All very bloody frustrating. How the hell was I supposed to move our snappers into the right positions ? Rely on Sky News ? I don’t think so. Fortunately there were plenty of old pals back in the Fleet St who were on hand to help. Though heaven only knows where they were getting their info from. Maybe they were just very good at guessing.

I’m not saying anything more than a Ruby Murray and a pint changes hands when hack meets detective, but any journalist who says his paper doesn’t curry (geddittt???) favour with their local crooked plod is a fibbing rotter. Legend has it that the greater the size of your wad, the greater amount of info and help you can expect in return. Thus, those papers with the bigger budgets (I’ll leave the calculations to you) have the means to get the most info from Inspector Knacker. Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a bent coppers favourite things. Failing that a chicken dhansak and a pint of  Cobra, please.

Stick your head out of the window and listen carefully. If you can block out the mass-indignation and tut-tutting of editors, you’ll hear the unmistakeable sound of shredders going into overdrive all over Fleet Street as the red-tops and broadsheets alike get rid of the evidence, should Cameron ever get around to setting up an inquiry. I should think Murdoch jnr will be up for some sort of Queen’s Award for recycling, such will be the weight of shredded paper coming out of the back door of Wapping. But don’t ever think it’ll be any different anywhere else.

You can call for heads of the hacks who pay the Old Bill for information, or you can ask why Constable Smellie is betraying the public and releasing private and confidential details. It all stinks to high heaven to everyone, it seems, except Beckie Brooks, Rupert and sonny James Murdoch.

Many who enjoy joined-up writing won’t mourn the passing of the News of The World. A nastier, more racist, more bigoted little organ you’d be hard-pushed to find (unless you happen to be in the High St Kensington area). Doubtless The Sun on Sunday will re-employ some of those hapless buggers who lost their jobs last night, but I suspect the total aggregate cull will be in it’s hundreds. More journos looking for work. Bugger. It’s hard enough out there as it is, without having to compete with even more for that odd shift that occasionally comes up. The world can do without more unemployed scribblers, snappers, subs and subs and artists, especially when all it really needed was one ugly ginger head to roll.

Thank you and Goodbye ? How about No Thank You & Fuck Off.