Polls Apart

Don’t you hate it when you’re told what to think ? Tune into the 6 o’clock or 10 o’clock news and get bombarded with stories stoking up the ‘excitement’ in anticipation of the Olympic Games and the patriotic revelry over HMQs 60th Jubilee. Everyone’s excited, everyone’s throwing a street party/volunteering to help/ buying a ticket/wearing a funny hat cos THE WHOLE OF THE COUNTRY LOVES IT !!!!!. Really ? Come down my street, mate and test the waters. You could cut the atmosphere with a block of  lard. But there is no doubt that all of us are behind both Brenda and Seb when it comes to this year’s celebrations – well, not according to the force-fed stories the Beeb are putting out. There’s nothing like objective journalism, and this is nothing like it.

If you’ve been watching the BBC’s coverage of the London Mayoral election, you could be forgiven for thinking there were only two candidates – Bonkers Boris Johnson and Honest Ken Livingstone (and by the way, Manchester, Brimingham, Glasgow et all, you ARE interested in all this:cos the BBC TELLS you that you are, that’s why). Admittedly, between them they do make a riveting contest, albeit in the way that watching two grandmothers argue over who’s gonna look after the grandkids is riveting. Mind you, I’ve yet to hear any nan in my family call the other a “fucking liar” as Boris did to Ken after their LBC bust up this week.

With a month or so still to go, I’m sure someone will dig something up on the other one which will tip the balance at the polls, but my bet is both will distance themselves from their party leaders over in Westminster – two of the most loathed men in the kingdom. Ken and Boris are bright enough to employ that bargepole when Dave and Milibean come to town, and who can blame them ?

But there are others involved in this contest. The other coalition candidate is Pc McGarry Number 452. Brian Paddick is gay, a former policeman and Liberal Democrat. (yes I know, Monty Python’s sketch when a quiz contestants hobbies are “golf, masturbation and strangling animals” springs to mind). Paddick came out and admitted his sexuality as a way to divert attention that he was a Liberal Democrat.

As a copper, Brian was and is one of the very few not to currently be under investigation for racial abuse, or arrested for his dealings with News International. So a Copper and a LibDem. The rush of the electorate scrambling to vote for him will be deafening. Nice bum, though.

The BNP triumphantly announced that their candidate was to be  their press officer Carlos Cortiglia. The more alert of you will notice a less than British ring to his name. Carlos was born in Uruguay to parents of Italian and Spanish ancestry then moved to England in 1989, presumably on his never-ending quest to find a someone who doesn’t feel the urge to slap that face. The Nazis see his appointment as proof that the BNP are no racists. As their website puts it “So much for ‘xenophobic’!” British National Party chooses Italian for London mayor“. It certainly has already proved to be a little taxing for the knuckle-draggers in my local pub l as the regulars debate on the merits of choosing between “a bender, a wop and a commie” (I am unsure which one of these descriptions was aimed at Boris ).

UKIP seem like they’ve finally decided to call it a day and not put up a candidate for the post. At least it looks like that when you see the list of candidates. But on further investigation into Lawrence Webb reveals that, although he is standing on the ticket of “Fresh Choice for London”, he is in fact he UKIP candidate. Perhaps they thought having UKIP, BNP and LibDem on the polling card would split the Complete Cvnt vote ? (there’s also a bit of a visual clue to who he represents in some of the photos of him they’re touting about.

Then there’s the token genuinely independent candidate, Siobhan Benita, who is the daughter of an Anglo-Indian mum and Cornish dad (more issues which I’m sure Carlos and Lawrence would dearly love to chat to her about as she’s deported).

Benita has several obvious advantages over her rivals: 1) she’s a woman; 2) she’s not Ken; 3) or Boris; 4) she doesn’t look like a complete bonkeroonee crook (note I said she doesn’t look like one – I stand to be corrected) . She has been accused of playing the ‘babe’ card, but let’s be honest if you look like she does and stand next to any of the above, how can the fact that you don’t make people feel physically ill not be worth promoting.

Which brings me nicely to our final contestant, Jenny Jones, representing the Hosepipe Ban party. Somewhere in East Sussex, there’s a room full of hessian-wearing 70s throwbacks who thought picking a bona fide loony would be a good idea. Jenny wants us all to return to wearing Wode and get our water from droplets left on rose petals. It’s difficult to vote for a political party who’s policies to bring us out of recession start and end at forcing the army to wear British-made organically-grown wicker helmets. She also looks like an explosion in a Scary Spice factory, but that would be too cruel to point out.

Don’t forget to register to vote.  Oooh! me minge.


Making Lists

(Written with numb thumbs on a blackberry. Please excuse the typos)

Ok, time for a re-think. God has bowled me a bouncer which I managed, for the most part to swerve out of the way of. Ok, it clipped me round the back of the head and I’m being patched up in the pavillioin, ready to be re-introduced into the action.

But it’s not as if I’m like those other poor sods I’ve seen over the last few days on the boundary’s edge, who’ve clearly taken a pearler straight between the eyes, or Brian Close-like straight under the heart.

I’ve had a touch. A stroke of luck, you might say.

So the list is looking like this:
Item 2. Learn to Walk.
Item 3. Cheer up you miserable bastard

Item 1. was dealt with at 6.07 this morning, as those in the Thames Estuary area who were woken by the “All Clear” siren this morning will understand.

Was moved in comedy fashion last night from Kings College to Darenth Valley Hospital. 2 young men doing poor ambulance-driver impressions turned up 4 hours late, then all but preformed 3 drive-by dumpings using me and 2 others as cadavers, throwing us from the back of their van. (I say “ambulance” drivers but on closer inspection it was a Ford Transit with the word AMBULENCE (sic) written on it in crayon.

Spruce Ward & Adam Waste

I’m now in Spruce Ward (named, I think, after a character from Batman)
But I am due to be moved any minute. I don’t mind that. I seemed to have traded my neighbour the serial soiler for a perpetual puker. They’re running out of buckets for him, poor old sod. Like I say, I’ve had it easy.

Dartford also has tvs in the rooms so there’s a good chance I’ll be able to watch the cricket tomorrow. Having missed the Open Golf and the Murdoch show yesterday that’ll be a huge bonus. That is if I’m not busy with ‘how to stand up’ lessons, or “waking slowly round the room for beginners” classes.

I’m hoping to get to what young parents call “cruising” stage” pretty quickly. Then at least I can get my own self to the loo, should I ever feel the need to go again.

Though judging by this morning’s events I feel that unlikely. I feel happier already. Number 3 may be crossed off the list soon.

Only When I Laugh

The end of day three after my stroke. Or is it day four ? Who can remember ? All I know is this illness stuff is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I’ve already had a row with a doctor over my attitude (me!), been told to get off my blackberry (good luck with that one then) and almost be judged ‘nil by mouth’ twice (again, me!).

I’ve come to the very quick decision that I’m rubbish at being a patient, but then again who is any good at it ? So I’ve decided to moan and bear it and make the worst of it. For starters, blogging on a phone is a pain in the arse as I can’t type or spell properly in the first place let alone on this thing so apologies for the worse than usual grammar.

(I pause here to take in the delicate aroma of the bed next to me being cleaned by the nurse after it’s 87 year old occupant-a serial solier- relieved himself all over it. Sorry, what’s that ? No, no trifle for me thanks all the same).

I digress.

Those who know me will recognise my symptoms: I cannot move my head about, and have a constant dreadful headache. I have slighlty slury speech, a scary stare and I cannot walk around unaided. However I now do all this all day, not just before 11pm. So there’s no need to wait til pubs chuck out to see me in my natural state. I’m in constant pain, knackered all the time and terrified I’ll stay like this forever. But I know I’ve been lucky: It’s not as if I’m like poor old sods in my ward, lost limbs or woken up Welsh or anything.

The Incumbent has been truly terrific: feeding me in my prone position with paracetamol and choccie biccies, informing all and sundry of my plight and drawing up a visitors list. Only the nearest and richest get into see me. Forget a bunch of grapes and a get well soon card. You wanna see me? You’ll need a wad of cash, a litre of gin and some large-breasted physio with you (all the better if she’s female).

Having said that, thanks go to my old mates of The Still Thoroughly Decent American Press who had flowers delivered this afternoon, beautiful and welcome that they are, and Steve the Sculptor who brilliantly brought me hard boiled eggs and nuts (and if you don’t understand that you shouldn’t be reading this).

I’ve been feeding from the Hallal menu, it being the only place around here you can get a curry: Chicken Korma, Chicken Byriani and a Lamb with Lentils number have all been eaten by me on my back with plenty of relish but not the required outcome. On my notes beside my bed it reads “B/M: no”. This is nearly day four of no B/M and it’s starting to make tears well up in my eyes. I have tended to have a b/m 4 or 5 times a day, and have so ever since I was 16 yrs old. Often against my will.

What is happening to me? I shall let you know how I get on. Though you’ll probably hear it or smell it yourself.

Just after you start your trifle.

Enjoy your tea.

Luv u all xx

The Handy Man Can

Today I finally feel I belong. I feel my place in society is, once again, secure. I feel like I’ve been welcomed back, invited into the game that everyone else is playing. No, it’s not that I’ve got a job or as if any of my emails asking for work have even been replied to. No, I clearly need to lower my expectations on that front. What has happened is that I’ve noticed that my road, and more importantly my house, has finally been photographed by the chaps at Google Street View.

The Gamekeeper's Lodge, Railway Cuttings

Yes, just 18 months after the Sharp Single, the rest of the country, nay, world debated whether this new technology was intrusive, instructive, an aid to burglars or a gift to estate agents, Railway Cuttings is finally on the map. I think we were next on the the list after the High Street, Ulan Bator.

Go see for yourself: just tap in “Railway Cuttings, SE3” and you’ll see me wearing nothing but tight-fitting rugby shorts, watering my plants. There’s The Incumbent trimming her bush, and if you zoom in, you can see the dent on my front door which got damaged in an altercation with that door-to-door salesmen. Notice also that the window cleaner still hasn’t been.

I dunno when Google drove past in one of their funny little vans, but it can’t have been that long ago – the croquet lawn has a little straw-coloured tinge to it, the duck house is looking spick and span with it’s fresh coat of paint, and those ornamental stone meerkats are a recent edition, so the photos must have been taken within the last month. Yes the old place is looking pretty nice at the moment- both online and in real life.

Inside, I’ve had time to attend to those little jobs which I’ve been meaning to get around to for so long. Thanks to superglue, the front of the cutlery drawer no longer pulls away and drops onto my foot every time I go in search of the bottle opener (which happens more than you’d think). I no longer need to employ a shire-horse to open and shut the patio doors since I discovered the little adjustable screw at the bottom of the window, so it now glides smoothly to and fro.

That irritating bubble of paper in the lounge ceiling (evidence of a bathroom flood some years ago, I suspect) has been cut out, smoothed over and re-painted. Ok, it’s been repainted in brilliant white gloss, where the rest of the ceiling is in yellowing matt (I told you my eyes aren’t what the were) and I’m gonna have to paint the whole sodding ceiling, but it still looks better than it did. Ish.

The electrics are still a worry, of course.In the lounge I have the most pointless dimmer switch in Christendom. It’s either on or off, no inbetween. If I do try to dim the lights to create a mood the lights flicker like James Galway’s eyeballs. If you like eating your dinner in original Thomas Edison lighting, this is the place for you. Last year I decided to replace the switch, convinced as I was that the flicker was the result in faulty wiring. The result of my trip to Homebase and half and hour with my trusty screwdriver is that I have a lovely sparkly-white dimmer switch which I can have either the on, off or strobe. Didn’t make a blind bit of difference.

Elsewhere I have a double-switch which controls the kitchen and dining area, and is also linked to the dimmer in the next room. When I moved in this worked as double switches are supposed to: I could have the lights on in the kitchen, or in the dining room, or both, or neither. But having replaced the aforementioned dimmer switch, I wanted to replace the old double switch with a shiny new one too. So out came the screwdriver again, off came the old switch box, and on went the new one.


Except I must have mis-remembered how the original was wired, because I can now have the lights on in the kitchen, or in the dining room, but not both. And not neither, unless you perfect a Bletchley-Park series of combinations with the switches of the double AND the dimmer. Walk by my house when I’m going to bed, with all the lights going on and off in different permutations, and you’d think I was signaling a passing U-boat. If I have people round for a meal there a several interludes when the diners are plunged into darkness as I return to the kitchen to retrieve a serving spoon or another bottle of white from the fridge.

As with most things that are not quite right around the house, I’ve tended to leave them be, and get used to them. I did get my dad up the other week to attempt to fix the lighting situation, but after 3 hours of screwdrivers, circuit-testers and swearing at each other we gave it up as a bad job, But this week I’m gonna see a bloke, who knows a bloke, who knows a bloke (this is a bloke you know) who knows all about electrics. I shall cross his palm with tea and biscuits, and even silver if I have to, to get the bloody thing done. I’ve bought myself bucketloads of Homebase Economy Whitewash to go over the walls and ceiling, Polyfilla will sort out those couple of holes in the walls upstairs, and I will spend several lovely hours ridding my flower-beds of fox turds.

Then I shall contact Google and ask them to drive past again with their camera to photograph a TO LET sign in my front garden (knowing my luck the local kids will paint an ‘i’ between the two words). As no bugger seems to want to employ me (go figure) I shall just have to make my living out of my property portfolio (which currently contains one house). Street View are not due to pass by this way again for another six years but I’m sure they’d come round much sooner to rid their pages of the photo of me holding my belly in and my hose out.

Dutch Nightcaps

We made Amsterdam in good time, avoiding the chaos which was ensuing at Heathrow and Calais and arrived at the hotel in plenty of time for a sundowner or four. Entering the small lobby of our lodgings, we were greeted by two charming, smiley young women who handed us a glass of champagne and gave us the lie of the land and the tale of the tape: Help ourselves to what we wanted from the lobby bar and the room mini bar, and enjoy ourselves.

Home to the the Dutch wing of the family

Although confident that we would, I turned to notice that some of our fellow guests had an unhealthy head start on us. Three couples in particular caught the eye, partly as they were blocking the view of the bar. All six of them were heavy-boned, and were busy helping themselves to the pleasures of the drinks cabinet. All were around fifty years old. Two were clearly Brits, as they were drinking pints. There was one guy in a blazer, chinos, blue chambray shirt and a baseball cap turned backwards on his balding head. Not sure where he came from. His wife was very loud: hmmm…still no real clue.

The final pairing came from California. I only found this out later as it was all the wife spoke about, along with her diet and the “fucking French”. All this while her red-faced husband devoured bottles of Argentinian Merlot and slid down the back of the chair, quietly grinning to himself.

A nice mini bar and all that, but where are the lemons ?

Having been shown our room, had a quick swig and freshen up, we returned to the lobby, en route to seeking out a cool pint of Amstel in the many bars outside. The six juggernauts had hardly moved from their positions of earlier, though the females were now seated in lounge chairs, demolishing plates of food. We left.

A convivial stroll around the pretty town and it’s bars, following the long drive had left the pair of us a tad weary, so after two or three hours we shuffled our way back to the hotel for a nightcap. The six lobbyists had been joined by three or four other Americans, in the far corner of the room was a French couple, keeping themselves to themselves, him reading Le Monde, she watching him reading Le Monde. Finally at the concierge desk, a retired couple were demanding what the weather was going to be like tomorrow. I thought they were Dutch at first, but it turned out they were scousers. It’s the phlegm, I guess.

We took our seats in the middle of all this and, glasses charged, proceeded to people-watch and to listen in. The Yanks and the Limeys seated amongst them had been for varying lengths of time stranded in Amsterdam by the volcanic ash cloud. In between visits to the bar the Americans took turns in visiting the two pcs situated in the corner of the bar and looked for flights out of Schipol Airport, news from home or weather reports. The Brits, when it was their turn, looked at the BBC website and at railway timetables and ticket office sites. All had pretty much given up hope of leaving soon, and none were happy about it.

The chat was of insurance, California, Argentinian wine, politics, cheese, diets, then the fucking French. At that, the pleasant French couple left. They’d been chatting quietly (as far as my limited French would allow me to understand) about how much these people were drinking and eating. I have no idea what the Scousers were talking about.

The chatter continued: The hotel elevators were too slow for one woman, the bathrooms too tiny for the British glandular-case (I could clearly see why). “Oh honey” announced Mrs California, “the bathrooms are positively palatial compared to ours in fucking Paris”. Guessing that the chat wasn’t gonna improve any time soon, we retreated to our room.

The pattern repeated itself the following day. Our un-happy band of brothers and sisters were decamped in the lounge, devouring all before them, like a plague of fat, boring locusts. Morning, noon and night. The original big six were occasionally joined by other refugees of the airline ban, exchanging war-stories and escape plans. Cast your mind back to the lounge bar in The Killing Fields, with groups of various nationals marooned, awaiting the airlift, with nothing to do but wine and whine the days away. In one scene in the movie they try to fake a passport, attempting to fix the photo with urine, in lieu of proper photo-fixer. Fortunately no such drastic measures were needed here. And anyway, if there was a bottle of urine laying around, the fat Brits would have drunk it.

We spent our days visiting museums, bars, shops and restaurants, buying gifts for the kids, cheese for us and tulips for the garden. Each time we returned to the hotel, more refugees had arrived, the static six, who were now experts in everything Amsterdam and Airline-related were holding both court and enormous gins.

On Wednesday morning I went down to the lobby for breakfast and realised something was wrong. Either I’d gone deaf or the Californians had left. Sure enough, the ban had been lifted and they’d flown the coop. Somewhere over the Atlantic, some poor sod was being bored shitless by a man wearing a suit and baseball cap, accompanied by his fat, frightful wife. The Brits had apparently got tickets on the train to Calais, via Burger King, then onto London. I almost punched the air in gratitude.

Our last day was spent in peace and quiet, free to wander the streets and explore the drinkeries and eateries, yet content in the knowledge that we could return laden with yet more cheese and flower bulbs to our hotel which now looked like a hotel, not a 4-star refugee camp. We enjoyed an evening meal in town, a couple of drinks in a quiet bar and returned to the lobby for one last snifter before retiring to bed. All very pleasant indeed.

We left by car the following morning having spent the oddest few days in Amsterdam. We left the little boats putt-putting along the canals, our hotel staff re-stocking the lobby bar, and we left 45 quids-worth of cheese in the our room fridge.

Dank u!

Amsterdam: Always a warm welcome


Operation Flower Market Garden

Ok: Plan B.

Not since the planning of D-Day, when the Allies poured over maps of northern Europe has so much thought gone into and effort been spent on crossing the channel. Ike, Patton and Monty, housed in top-secret bunkers, argued over the merits of the Pas-de-Calais and the Normandy beaches and had to deal with a delay in launching the attack, having to wait for a window in the weather. Theirs was a massive aerial and seabourn invasion, relying on surprise, overwhelming forces and stirring, patriotic music.

66 years later, and from an undisclosed location in London (my house), the Incumbent and I had to choose between going by air, rail or sea to our planned destination of Amsterdam. Now the weather has made up our minds for us. Our force comprises of two people in one Toyota, relying on an alarm clock radio to wake us up, and a slow puncture on the car holding out, accompanied only by Status Quo OBE on the iPod. Unlike Monty, we can’t delay our crossing: there’s is no window in the weather system, but the hotel’s already booked. Fucking Volcano.

It became increasing clear that our BA tickets would be worthless. With all air traffic in Europe grounded due to the ash cloud, the train seemed the best option of getting to Europe. But Eurostar was reporting record passenger numbers and little hope of us getting on board. So on Thursday I secured our place on a boat from Dover. As no-one travels by boat any more, I managed to book easy enough online. The ferry departs at 0800hrs (ZULU) to take us onto Dunkirk, from where we intend to drive to Holland. The first problem will, of course, occur if there are so many people with the same idea the queue starts somewhere outside Dartford.

In 1944 Kent is said to have resembled a massive car park, as the invading armies and their vehicles queued up to board the ships which would take them to ‘have a crack at Gerry’. My fear is that the roads into Dover in the morning will be in a similar, gridlocked state, as we queue to board the boat which we hope will take us to have a crack at Dutch beer and waffles.

Once safely beached in continental Europe, we hang a left and drive like the wind for the Lowlands, in our own mini-version of Operation Market Garden. Like the tanks of Irish Guards in 1944 we will have to push, push, push northeast into Holland. They were trying to secure the bridges across the Meuse River, arriving before the defending German forces defeated the stranded allied paratroopers. We’ll be trying secure a place in a Park-n-Ride car park in Amsterdam, then to the hotel before they give our room away to stranded tourists.

By the way, Michael Caine led that column of tanks (in the film anyway). He was my hero. So what the FUCK was he doing flag-waving for the Tories at the rally last week ? Turncoat. I shall never watch Zulu again (or until and unless I’m very drunk).

Boo !

Now where was I ? Ah yes, Amsterdam, for sure. I love Amsterdam. Keeping well clear of Muckystraat, which is easier to do than you might think, there’s lots of fun to be had. Good beer, proper pubs, many with proper, live music, the aforementioned waffles and of course cheese. All of which to be devoured with lashing of hot chips (yes, yes, yes, ok with mayonnaise, but you can avoid that if you are clever). If you survive that lot there’s all the museums, the Anne Frank House and, of course, the Flower Market. But I recommend lots of beer first.

On past trips (and there have been many) I have been guilty of over-indulging in all of the above, and after a particularly long and jolly evening a couple of years ago I took two hours finding my hotel after leaving a bar. I’d walked off in what I thought was the vague direction of the hotel and ended up circumnavigating the city. When I finally arrived in the lobby, how drunkly-smug with myself was I that I’d found the hotel without once having to ask for directions ? The next morning I discovered the bar was 200 yards away from my lodgings, and if I’d taken a left out of the bar, not a right I’d have been home in five minutes, wobbly legs allowing. I confess I said a rude word.

So this year, in an effort to keep me from straying too far, The Incumbent has booked a hotel which is not only a lot swisher and slicker than the hovels I’ve booked myself into in the past, but it’s also all-inclusive. For a goodly amount of Euros, the breakfast is inclusive. Drinks in the bar are included in the price. Even the mini bar in the room is all free, included in the price of the room ! It could be carnage. The chances of me wanting to leave and show the missus all the delights of Amsterdam on her first trip to the city are, at very best, minimal. A free bar and mini bar! Toblerone-me up!. If we get an upgrade to a suite we’ll have TWO to empty though, of course that may be a Fridge too Far.


Mike vrs the Volcano

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get it under control. I trust you are not in too much distress.”

These were the words of Captain Eric Moody as his 747 flew into a cloud of of volcanic dust over Indonesia in 1982. Now I’m not sure which carefully chosen phrase I would have blurted out at the top of my voice had I been on that flight, probably something along the lines of “oh bugger”. Still we need not speculate for too long, as I’m booked on a flight on Sunday to Amsterdam. Well, that’s the plan anyway. As the UK is, apparently, under it’s very own cloud of volcanic dust, it’s not clear if any flights will be taking off by then anyway. I keep looking skywards and all I can see is blue sky and sunshine, but the met office says different and the plume of ash spewing out out the Icelandic volcano has closed the whole of Britain’s airspace.

Now as you will have read here previously, I’m no great fan of flying anyway, merely getting on planes as a means to an end, but ever since I decided to show The Incumbent the delights of the home of the clog, coffee bar and tulip, this trip has been jinxed from the beginning. No sooner had the buttons on BA website been clicked to confirm our flight, their cabin crew announced a series of strikes. The first two caused chaos at the airport, and the third promised to do the same. We spent hours trying to work out alternative routes and modes of transport and decided if the threatened third round of industrial action came (due this weekend) then we’d pop onto the car ferry and drive to Amsterdam.

Only yesterday it became pretty clear that no such action was going to take place and ‘safe’ in the knowledge we would indeed be flying, booked our spot in the car park at Heathrow. When I switched on the news this morning the news of the volcanic ash cloud took a a little time to sink in, it didn’t seem real, but 12 hours later it seems that there’s a very good chance that we will, after all, be completely and absolutely buggered, grounded by this ash. They’re telling me that this invisible cloud is sitting there above us at 30,000 ft, which is where aircraft normally do their stuff (I didn’t know that, as when I’m in the air I’ve usually got my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears, having injected the required amount of scotch into my bloodstream).

Sadly, there’s nothing to be done. I’m no scientist (no, honestly, I’m not) but I don’t think you can just sail up to Iceland and turn the volcano off. Nor I suspect could you send a fleet of helicopters up to blow the cloud away. Can you imagine the frustration to someone like me when there’s really no-one to blame ? My hatred of flying is only matched for my contempt for those that run airlines. Willie Walsh seems to have ably filled the the shoes of the crook who used to run BA, Lord King, and who but his own mother would give that shyster Michael O’Leary over at Ryanair anything but a swift kick to the goolies? Then there’s Branson. I’m running out of airlines I actually feel anything but hatred for. First they steal my money in complicated, if not fraudulent online booking forms (oh, you wish to wear underpants while flying? That’s another £17.50. Sick bags are £4.10 and a stale cheese sandwich is a tenner. Have a nice flight, sir) and THEN they scare the life out of me while I’m up there. I’m sure some of their pilots are former employees at EuroDisney.

But no, I can’t blame them. This is totally the fault of that cow Mother Nature. And probably George Osborne (and why not ? I need to vent). Sadly there’s not much I can do about either of them, I will just have to wait until the volcano blows itself out, or the wind changes direction and blows the dust cloud, and Osborn is forced, on his knees, to clean out the ash from still-moving jumbo jet engines, and what’s left of him given a paupers grave in Welling Cemetery (be sure to order the flowers early).

Osborne’s boss, Cameron, due on TV tonight appearing in the first ever live TV debate of the major party leaders. T o prepare for it, I have cleared the house of all heavy, sharp and throwable objects. I have upped my insurance on my tv and The Incumbent has emptied the liquor cabinet (well, the cupboard under the sink where I keep the booze.) I fear for my and her safety and for that of the contents of Railway Cuttings. Watching these three numpties parrot-out prepared answers to prepared and pre-supplied questions may just prompt an eruption of my own.

“Well don’t watch it, then” I hear you say. But I shall watch it because it is, as I say, the first time it’s ever happened on British TV, and also there’s something in me that believes it’s my duty to watch it. It’s clear that the party leaders only agreed to do it as part of their shameless scam to make us believe that politicians, in the wake of the expenses scandal, are now accessible, open and honest. And do you know, they actually think we believe all this cobblers? Well, why wouldn’t they ? We stood for an illegal war, our elected members stealing our money and their mates in the banking industry are still wandering around at liberty, because we’re told that Parliament will crack down on corruption in the city . We’d believe anything, wouldn’t we ? Even those of us who think we’ve rumbled them, will stroll up and put our ‘X’ next to their name come May 6th. We deserve all we get.

Some of us even believe there’s a big, black Icelandic cloud of dust stopping me going on holiday.
As long as I don’t have to get on a plane, I’ll believe anything.


Thanks a Bunch

Tuesday April 13 (15.10hrs)

Dear Interflora

Finally some evidence of life in your company. Five minutes ago (3.05pm) your courier arrived at my door, carrying my order. Clearly confused, he asked if my name was Kate. I informed him, with all the dignity I could muster, that a) my name was not Kate; b) Kate wasn’t here today as her birthday was yesterday; and c) I no longer wanted the flowers and would not be signing for them. He left, looking even more confused, though no word of apology passed his lips. Is there no-one in your organisation (sic) who suffers from odd bouts of professionalism which might lend them to contacting me and saying sorry?

My phone is charged and turned on awaiting your call.

I don’t think they’re gonna call, do you ?


Say it with Wreaths

Monday April 12th 2010

Dear Interflora

It’s been a week since I ordered from you a gift for my partner’s birthday (which is today). At 12.03 this morning you sent me an email gleefully stating that my order was on it’s way. Well, it’s 4.30pm now, 18 1/2 hours later and it’s still not here. Where is it?

Your colleague on the ‘customer service’ hotline told me the deliveries are made throughout business hours, however my partner’s birthday is almost over. Your man also told me that you only make specifically-timed deliveries in the case of funerals. Maybe I should have lied and told you she was dead, at least then she would have had a nice wreath to enjoy all day. Maybe I should have walked the half mile to the (Interflora) flower shop in the village and bought them myself this morning. But, stupidly, I wanted her to enjoy the little thrill of flowers delivered to the door.

I re-arranged the whole day so we wouldn’t miss the arrival of her present. What a mug. It doesn’t really matter if your man arrives now or not, the day’s as good as over. Thank you for ruining the day. Oh, and good luck in the recession.


Tuesday 13th April 2009

Dear Interflora

So, a day after my partner’s birthday, and a good week after I ordered her present from you, and still nothing has arrived. Not the planter, not the flowers, not a phone call offering either explanation or apology, not an email in reply to my complaint of yesterday. I suppose it’s too much to ask for my money back which you stole from me ? You are either crooks or amateurs, but more probably both.
Yours, completely and utterly cheesed off,



Tuesday April 13 (15.10hrs)

Dear Interflora

Finally some evidence of life in your company. Five minutes ago (3.05pm) your courier arrived at my door, carrying my order. Clearly confused, he asked if my name was Kate. I informed him, with all the dignity I could muster, that a) my name was not Kate; b) Kate wasn’t here today as her birthday was yesterday; and c) I no longer wanted the flowers and would not be signing for them. He left, looking even more confused, though no word of apology passed his lips. Is there no-one in your organisation (sic) who suffers from odd bouts of professionalism which might lend them to contacting me and saying sorry?

My phone is charged and turned on awaiting your call.

I don’t think they’re gonna call, do you ?


(My Reader will be staggered to learn the no phone call or email of apology was ever received. The Great British Service Industry lives on. MB)