Welcome Home


I was actually at Terminal 5 when they filmed this. If you look carefully, after about 1 minute 40 in the top right hand corner you’ll see me having a row with a barman over the lack of lemons and ice.

The Peters and Lee number is great. But can they do In the Mood ? Doubt it

Advertisements

T’was Brillig


So now that the dust has settled, now that orders in Tennants Super and Economy Toilet roll are set to go through the roof, what does it all mean ? The answer is simple: I’m shagged if I know. Gorgeous Georgie Gideon Oswald, (sorry Osborne) Our Dave and their pet Yellow Toad have decided to transform the country into a scene from to Jabberwocky, full or peasants surfs and huge piles of shit, with a 5 groat consumption charge to enter the citadel (though the Sheriff of Bonkingham decided against extending it to the west of the castle) or maybe “Oliver Twist” where former benefit claimants hold out their bowl for some more gruel to Mr Bumble (brilliantly played by Eric Pickles) who promptly tells them to “fook off”.

Personally, I’m a tad miffed that it now seems I’m to be unemployed until I’m 66, rather than 65. Oh well, you know me: mustn’t grumble. If I were French I’d be running up and down with a flare and a megaphone, knocking kepis of coppers bonces. Being British I’ll probably put the kettle on, make a nice cup of tea and see what that nice Nick Robinson has to say. It’s fair to say this former President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, ex-national chairman of the Young Conservatives, alleged Bullingdon Club member and now BBC Political Editor has done a just frankly spiffing job selling the cuts to a watching nation. And he’s hardly burst into laughter once. Well done him. When his BBC career is over he can always get himself a job on Fox News.

But however nasty Nick spins it, there’s something rotten in Denmark Hill and throughout the kingdom. The natives are revolting. Even Boris Johnson has likened the (sorry his) government’s crackdown on housing benefits for the poorest of families to ethnic cleansing. Gideon and Dave were furious. The foie gras hit the aircon but Bonkers Bonking Boris stuck to his guns. You know you’re in trouble when the Bullingdon boys start falling out. Funny, but I thought we were all in this together ? Shooting sticks and hacking jackets at twelve paces, m’lud ?

Over in Lala Land, the guvnors at The World’s Worst Airline reckon their poor passengers are getting a rotten deal. All those security checks at the airport are putting people off. Fancy asking us to take off our shoes for inspection before boarding. Whoever heard of a shoebomber ?? They’ll be asking to check our pants and printer cartridges next ! BA boss Willie Walsh also had the onion out of his handbag over the increase to Passenger Duty. “It’s unfair to our customers” was the cry. Well maybe. You could always swallow the increase, Willie.

I’d have a little more sympathy with airlines in general, and BA in particular, if their prices weren’t so high anyway, their service so shite and their guvnor such a miserable, soulless, swindling arsehole. BA have a long proud history of unfair business practice, dirty-tricks campaigns (ah! who can forget dear old Lord King?) and fisting both customers and employees whenever and however possible.

Do you get the feeling that if Willie and Louis Walsh swapped places none of us would be any the wiser? One more complete cnut on the X Factor wouldn’t notice, and think of the fun the new BA boss would have with the cabin crew during the next round of union negotiations. We’d have to throw a bucket of water over them.

Am I sounding more miserable than usual ? Well maybe. Times are tough at the moment. My regular reader in Cheltenham will realise the pictures are coming down in Railway Cuttings as the long process of making the place habitable for others begins. Calculations and ruminations over how and how much to rent out HQ will continue all week. Walls will be painted, the garden given a tidy and that suspicious-looking patch on the wall will have to be covered up. Furnished or unfurnished is just one of many questions I need to ask myself. It’d be great just to walk out and leave everything where it is. It’s gonna be a pain shipping out all the junk one collects over a few years. If I could be arsed I’d put my dvd collection on eBay. If I could be arsed. The booze collection will come with me, what’s left of it, as will the many, many unread books on the shelves.

Once the place looks vaguely decent I’ll need to decide whether to use an estate agent or go it alone. As appalling as my business acumen is, as disorganised as I am and no matter how little I know about renting out a house I can’t bring myself to deal with estate agents. I’ve not had that much luck with them in the past. I once offered to insert a FOR SALE placard into one bloke who I caught trying to drive the sign into my lawn after I’d agreed to let him sell it for me. On another occasion fisticuffs nearly broke out over a penthouse flat in Deptford. We had differed over the description of the flat he was trying to sell me. It was somewhere between “Immaculate”, as described in his literature, and a “Shit Pit” as described by me. So I’m gonna have a go on my own and see how I get on. Lots of pals who’ve been down this route are offering help and advice, so what could possibly go wrong?

So excuse the absence of my usual joie de vivre at the moment, I’ve just got a few things on my mind. Everyone has their off-days/weeks/months and this happens to be one of mine.

Mind you, compared to Ian Holloway I’m positively brimming with hilarity. You’ll know Mr Holloway is a firm favourite around here, responsible for some of the more memorable and hilarious footy quotes of recent times. But last week during the Wayne Rooney saga, things had obviously started to get on top of the normally jovial Mr Holloway.

I hope my house doesn’t toddle-off and do what it likes. I own it !! HOW WRONG IS THAT ?????

My Kinda Town, North Londonshire Is


Well that’s that then. Unless Baldrick comes up with a cunning plan within the very near future I’m gonna have to get shot of Railway Cuttings. The place I’ve called home since I managed to get myself 30ft of rope, a set of wire-cutters and fake passport and hopped over the fence of Stalag Marriage has to go on the market. Sell it or rent it, I dunno, but I can’t afford to keep it. One week’s work since June has dug deep into the coffers and my old chums at the bank and the mortgage company are starting to get a wee bit uppity.

So I need to spruce it up for the prospective buyer or the potential tenant. Get rid of half of the of rubbish laying around the place (The Incumbent can sell it on Ebay), give the walls a lick of paint, cut the grass and start thinking about how best to advertise the place.

It’s a nice part of London to live in (if you just ignore the previous 73 posts I’ve written slagging off the place) and very handy if you wanna get to London Bridge or the West End within 20 minutes. There’s the lovely Greenwich Park and common just around the corner, good connections to the M2 and M25 motorways and some of the local pubs now serve both ice, lemons and limes. There’s a farmers’ market, a Starbucks, more curry houses than your average small village oughta, and rather nice kitchen shop.

Non-CIA spook Terry Waite lives here, as does Matt Pritchett, the brilliant Daily Telegraph cartoonist and professional Millwall fan Danny Baker. Former residents include, highwayman Dick Turpin, cook Fanny Craddock and obnoxious git Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen. Very soon I shall be added to that list of ex-inhabitants and gits.

But I think I need something that little bit extra to pull in the punters. How can I sell the area to entice the loaded gentry to part with their cash to buy my place ? Will the attraction of The Cactus Pit – our combined Tex-Mex restaurant and ‘nightclub’ (guaranteed a punch-up or a bunk-up) be enough for Hedgefund managers to rent my little gaff for a couple of years? I suspect not.

So I was listening to the car radio this morning and heard an advert for North Londonshire – the place to move, for space to move”.
“Where?????? North Londonshire ??? There’s no such place” I found myself shouting at the dashboard.
The commercial continued. “It’s closer than you think”
“What the fuck does that mean ? Closer than you think ? Closer to where ???”

I sped home to my waiting laptop, determined to find out where this place was. I was convinced in my heart the North Londonshire was a made-up place. Certain in my own mind, but not enough to bet my house on it. I remembered once having an argument with a bloke about Hoxton, a district of London I was convinced was an invention of estate agents in the 1980s. After all, the place they now call Surrey Quays was what I grew up calling Rotherhithe until in 2002 some brilliant PR man for the local property developer or boundary commission came up with a new name.

Ok, I’d been slightly wrong about Hoxton – on investigation it turns out it was mentioned in the Doomsday Book – so I needed to get home this morning and double-check that only my South Londoner ignorance had prevented me from being aware or North Londonshire. Perhaps I’d actually been there, drank there, shopped there, without actually realising it.

It didn’t take me long to find it. It even has it’s own website (northlondonshire.co.uk). I went immediately for the menu Where is North Londonshire ? It read:

Closer than you think.

Located midway between London and Birmingham, North Northamptonshire is central, cost effective and well-connected.
Towns like Corby, Kettering, Rushden and Wellingborough all benefit from superb connections by road and rail.
St Pancras International, home of the Eurostar, is less than 50 minutes by train meaning Paris and Brussels are just four hours away.
Air travel is equally convenient with Birmingham, East Midlands, Luton and Stansted airports all within reach in 90 minutes.

So it’s closer than you think, if you happen to be thinking in Birmingham. Very close indeed if you live in Northampton. A short stroll down the street if you’re parked 2 hours drive north of London. Just not very close at all if you happen to be in…er…London. You may find the promotional video a little misleading too. But maybe I’m missing something.

If only all the shitty London pigeons would fuck off to Northamptonshire, the capital would be a nicer place to live. However.
The video and website may well be a load of old tosh, but it gave me an idea for an advert for the New York Post:

For Rent: 2 bedroom terraced house in Manhattan suburb.

If you think you might be growing out of New York, or are just looking to make the right move, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Blackheath. There’s highly affordable quality housing offering considerable value. There are schools and education to rival anywhere in the country (or beyond). And there are career opportunities provided by leading forces in the Bangladeshi and Nepalese service community. Some of the pubs are even open til midnight !!

Relax in our beautiful ancient parkland and quiet surroundings. Visit quaint shops and three dry-cleaners (with ample parking). All this easily accessible from the lower east or west sides, with Grand Central Station, MOMA and Ground Zero Mosque just 2 minutes away (by phone) and our excellent links to both Laguardia and JFK airports, via the Old Kent Road, M4 and Heathrow (congestion charges may apply).

So why not make your new life in Blackheath, East Manhattan. SE3 ? Just 3,471 miles around the corner. Come live where the Limeys live. It’s closer than you think.

Hitler’s Bunker



What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’

Winston Churchill, speaking to the House of Commons, Westminster, London, June 18, 1940

Meanwhile, just up the road in Richmond, more stirring words…

Replace your divots, sir ! Especially that big one.

.

Biggles Flies Undone


I don’t like flying, you know this. But if I want to get anywhere I have to fly, it’s just one of those things in life that we don’t like but have to endure from time to time, like going to the dentist, driving around the M25 or watching webuyanycar.com adverts.

I hate taking off, I hate landing. I don’t much enjoy the bit in the middle. I can’t bear British Airways, dislike Virgin intensely, distrust Easyjet and outright refuse to fly with Ryanair. When I’m on board an aircraft I always keep an eye firmly fixed on the cabin staff, looking for any signs of concern or panic in their facial expression or body-language. I always listen to what the captain says over the PA system and, more importantly, how he says it. Plane skippers are clearly schooled in the act of speaking in slow, low reassuring tones, so passengers like me don’t sit in row 38 crying and fiddling with our rosaries.

So I can thank heaven for small Murphys that I don’t live in South Africa and have experienced the joys of Kulula Air. My friend Tracey sends me the below set of snaps of the livery of Kuala’s aircraft and quotes from the aircrew which I’m sure were designed to alleviate the terror of air-travel, but which might just finish me off should I ever experience them. Surely some of these are made up ? Surely ? You be the judge:

On one flight, there being no designated seat numbers flight, passengers were taking their time choosing a seat when a flight attendant announced, “People, people we’re not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!”

On another flight with a very “senior” flight attendant crew, the pilot said “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.”

On landing, the stewardess declares “Please be sure to take all of your belongings.. If you’re going to leave anything, please make sure it’s something we’d like to have.”

And more pearls of wisdom…

“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.”

“Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”

As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fella. WHOA!”

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo , a flight attendant on a flight gets on the tannoy: “Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted.”

“Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised.”

“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favourite.”

“Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines.”

“Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.”

“As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses..”

And from the pilot during his welcome message: “Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!”

Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landing in Cape Town : The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump and I know what y’all are thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendant’s fault, it was the asphalt.”

Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town , on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”

Another flight attendant’s comment on a less than perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”

An pilot once wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a “Thanks for flying our airline.” He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, “Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Why, no Ma’am,” said the pilot. “What is it?” The little old lady said,
“Did we land, or were we shot down?”

After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came on with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal..”

Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal
tube, we hope you’ll think of Kulula Airways.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.. If you can light ’em, you can smoke ’em.”

And finally…

A plane was taking off from Durban Airport . After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from Durban to Cape Town , The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight.. Now sit back and relax… OH, MY GOODNESS!” Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!” A passenger then yelled, “That’s nothing. You should see the back of mine!”