Time of the Month


Had enough of Calender Girls ? Sexy Vatican Priest Calenders ? Kent Fire Brigade’s hunks, spread across each month, in various stages of undress ? Me too. For some reason, I took several wrong turnings in life and never became a producer of calenders showing dogs/babies/naked women/Cliff Richard* (delete where applicable). Walk down any high street or through any shopping mall and there is always a calender shop or stall doing a roaring trade.

Back in the day when newspapers paid me a goodly wage to find interesting things to stick in the linen, if I’d happen upon the latest illustrated offering from a rugby team, the women’s guild (including the Goole & District Catholic River Wideners’ Club) the Back Bench would love it and the sexiest photos would doubtless be included in the paper the following morning. Sighs all round. After the 138th of these you begin to get a tad jaded.

However, news reaches me of this one from our friends in Germany, and a bloody good one it is too. Now, as we all know, no-one enjoys a good laugh more than the Germans, and as if to prove it a retirement home in Essen has put together a calender showing inmates residents re-enacting scenes from famous movies. Now how much fun is that ? I tried to get in on the shoot and pose myself, but I was told that a) I am too grumpy to pass as a German; and b) I look too old for this publication (I can’t write calender any more. Apart from just then).

Gershcmittenhemmenzvitz !

ku-xlarge

“I don’t expect you to talk, Mr Bond, I expect you to …er…sorry”

1274

“Can we stop for a pee at the next gas station please ? Again.”

1057

“Saturday Afternoon Nap”

690

“Cor! missus. Those support tights are doing overtime”

4140

“What did I come up here for ?”

3147

“I’m afraid Black Forest Gateau always gives me wind”

2171

“I’ve decided against sketching you naked”

4

“It’s 106 miles to Essen, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, we’re wearing sunglasses and I will need a pee before we leave.”

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“Some Like it Fat” (rejected)

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Over There


Mr Horrible (left) prepares for his first rant on French/German soil. 1 minute into the campaign.

Can’t stop long, this morning. Gotta get moving:  6:30 Ack Emma I shall wake The Incumbent with a cup of cha, hurry her into her fatigues and we’ll be off down the road, Folkestone bound. From there we’ll plonk the jalopy onto a chuff chuff, cross the channel, hang a right and be off on our trip down into Normandy and to memory lane, just like Generals Montgomery and Bradley before. To confuse the Hun (sorry – the French) we’ll be landing in the Pas de Calais (they won’t be expecting that this time) rather than the more direct approach of our fivefathers, we will travel under the cover of sunlight (well, rainlight) and hope soon to be liaising with our two most trusted men out there.

Agents Plastered of Paris and Monsieur Horrible (A better names for a couple of Twits I’ve yet to hear) are well-known to readers of The Sharp Single and who form what we like to know as The Malaise Pocket. However, their Anglo-Saxon insight into all things garlic and Gallic has been invaluable over the past couple of years, and by way of thanks The Incumbent and I will be touring the area, handing out hilarious, quality T-shirts (at very competitive rates) and drinking as much of their booze as is possible.

If Mrs B is very lucky, she’ll get a couple more tours of D-Day beaches and war graves thrown into the mix. What a Lucky girl.

Agent Plastered blends in. With what we are unsure.

So pip pip !  See you on the other side. Just as long as my head, foot, arse and knees hold up I should be back in a week.

If not, talk amongst yourselves.

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!)


Thought for the Day


Having deserted t’BBC Breakfast program (eey oop, here’s t’beenees nooz) I’ve been enjoying a couple of week’s worth of The Today Program where, for reasons known only to themselves, journalists are allowed to report on the latest world events, the economic crisis, wars, famine and political intrigue, occasionally punctuated by a sports report or 20 seconds of guessing at the weather.

Icke (top right) with the BBC's first Breakfas...

The way they were. The original BBC Breakfast crew including the late, great David Icke. Whatever happened to Uncle Frank ? Dirty Boy !!!!

Spend an hour watching t’Breakfast program, then switch over to listening to the radio and you’ll think you were listening on a different day. Where, please tell me, are all the “Corn Flakes can give your child rickets” stories ? What about the “What comes first on a scone ? Jam or Cream?” exclusives ? And there’re no interviews with “last night losers on Strictly”. And thank fuck for that ! Radio 4 sticks to the stupidly crusty old news program format of bringing you the …er…news. There’s not even any vox-pops from the streets of Wigan, for christ’s sake!  When I worked for a living for the highly respectable and reputable newspapers of Fleet St, the Today program was required listening, and this was so for the best part of 30 years. Since I do sod-all nowadays I lapsed into Sian and Charlie, Bill and Suzanna’s grasp, My mind turned to mulch because of it. Well that stops here and now.

Woken up by nightmares last night, I switched on the BBC World Service in the hope that the dulcet tones of a foreign correspondent talking to me would enable me to drift off to sleep (it always used to work – especially in the office). Sadly for me the opposite happened. Some bloke who’d certainly never darkened the sweet red couch of t’BBC Salford studio, was explaining with ultimate clarity and menace what was happening and going to happen if (and when) the Greek economy threw a seven and went belly-up sausage-side.

So his tale went: the Greeks pull out of the Euro and immediately, people’s savings lose two-thirds of their value and there’s a hiatus until they sort a new currency out. If that can happen in Greece, the Spanish people will calculate that it can happen in their equally-fragile economy as well. Then the Italians, and so on, and so on…

But.

Intelligent Greeks, Spaniards and Italians will see that situation coming and they don’t wanna see their savings go down the toilet. So there’s a run on all banks as anyone with any money left at all withdraws all he has and shoves it under the mattress/missus. The economy collapses, the Euro-Zone closes due to lack of interest, Presidents Obama then Romney instigate Part II of the Marshall Plan and 30 years from now we all star in a documentary by an ageing Robert Peston explaining how poor we all were in 2012/3.

The alternative to all this, of course, is the German plan of austerity: raise the Greek taxes, cut all welfare and public expenditure for about, ooooh, ten years or so. It’ll be tough “but we put up with it when we took on East Germany andwecameoutstrongerontheotherside soyoulotbetterputuporshutupandtinkyourselfluckythatyou’renotstilloccupiedyouungreatful
littleshitsandsnywayitwasyoulotnotpayingtaxwhichstartedallofthisinthefirstplace.”

Of course, that’s the argument: Greek teachers and bin men scrimping on their taxes are the ones to blame for the state of the continent’s economy. The Euro would be strong, the Banking industry would still be making fortunes if it wasn’t for all you bastard nurses and Public Sector workers borrowing what you couldn’t afford, trying to cheat the Inland Revenue and then having the balls to expect a pension at the end of it. Jesus! Those poor men at JP Morgan and such places spilt their own blood for you, some of you walking out with less than a $32 payout. How is a man supposed to live on that ?

Perhaps I’ll go back to telly where all I have to worry about in the morning is that the heavy rain has affected this years asparagus crop ?

Still. it’s not all bad news. I actually made £95 quid this week. A combination of selling Tee-shirts and predicting the odd correct score means I’m flush, for at least a couple of hours. I do have options. I could give it to The Incumbent to spend on food down at Sainsburys’. It’ll take 15 minutes to spend and £95 quid’s worth of food lasts about 3 days round here; There’s a Ralph Lauren cotton sweater at Harrods going for exactly £95 but I’m not sure they do my size (quiet at the back, please!).  I could pre-order from Amazon 11 copies of Joey Barton’s autobigraphy (and still have change for a bag of chips). Like Hitler’s Mein Kampf this will surely mostly be written (or dictated) while in incarceration. I can’t help thinking that’s not where the similarities will cease. Although, I’m told, Hitler had a good command of English unlike the captain of the Waffen QPR.

8 quid seems a lot of money to me to waste on a book by a complete arsehole, even though many buy Jeremy Clarkson’s books. Times are tough, and I should spend my cash wisely.

I’ve got it.

I am going online today to reserve a ticket on the Water Chariot to take me from Limehouse Basin to the Olympic Park. I’ll have to go on my own, though. That’s £95. London to London. One Way. I’ll have to get to Limehouse first, of course, but can you think of equal value available today ? You could probably buy the Parthenon for 95 quid.

This stuff writes itself.

The 1992 Committee


Ed Miliband’s getting a little full of himself for his own good. Buoyed by the local election results and the turmoil within the Tory Party, you can imagine Ed leaning across the dispatch box in the House of Commons and asking Dave Cameron “Surely you’re not the best politician to lead your party?”
“Maybe not,” DC might reply “but at least I’m the best politician in my family” (copyright Paul Collingwood).
A weak man is a short time in politics, so who can blame Mr Ed for crowing while he can? For a good few months the press and his party has been on his back, accusing him of being dull, uninspiring, distant and not his brother, but following the recent council polls, he and his adenoids feel vindicated in irritating a nation for the past couple of years. If it wasn’t for Bonking Boris, last week would have been a true disaster for the Tories, spurring on the bank-benchers to launch an immediate revolt. As it is, the win for the incumbent London Mayor merely highlights just how much more popular he is than the resident PM…er…sparking an immediate revolt among Tory back-benchers.

There’s nothing more enjoyable than watching the British GOP knock shite out of each other, fighting like cats in a sack in attempt to gain the high ground. A wave of nostalgia washed over me this morning as the late, great John Redwood took the the airwaves of T’BBC to launch version #738 of the Tory Right’s plan to get back into power (under its own steam). In re-hashing and re-launching the old battle cries of “Europe Out/Lords In/Wogs Out/Cronies In“, the former forgetful Minister for Wales reminded all listening of just why the Conservative Party hasn’t won an election in this country since 1992.

You know when you’re in trouble when chinless twerps like Nadine Dorries and Amanda Platell are calling you out of touch and if there’s a better blood sport to watch than the Tories fighting like a bunch of pissed wedding guests, then I’d like to see it. The Posh Boys’ honeymoon is over and they have painted themselves into a corner (easy on the metaphors, Harry). On one side they need to remain faithful to Sir Bufton Tufton of Tunbridge Wells – shooting, flogging and hanging anything that moves, but on the other thy need to give their coalition partners a good luvvie-cuddle as they try to convince the Liberals that they really are a new, warm green version of the old Right. It’s as convincing as watching Tom Cruise walking out with Katie Holmes.

As if things weren’t bad enough for Dave and Gid, then Frank goes and wins in France. A socialist hasn’t been in elected in France since Johnny Hallyday turned 80 (1981) yet the people of France have decided they no longer want the Poisoned Dwarf anymore and will try Francois Hollande for a while, especially as he’s promised to stand up against big bad Angela from Allemagne. Rather him than me.

The French people have spoken and ousted the little git. Across The Channel, however, no matter how awful Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown were for the UK, and however long Labour were in power, enough people still couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Cameron for PM. It doesn’t look good for him. I mean, I fancy myself up against Miliband. AT ANYTHING. And I’m sure you do too. But, even with the wholehearted support of The Mail, The Sun and Fox Skinning Gazette this charmless berk can still not rally enough support to attempt to lead the country out of recession without the shameless toadying support of the former Liberal Party. When you have to look to Simon Hughes, Chris Huhne and Beaker (whatever his real name is) to be electable and to get your policies through, times are indeed tough.

The Liberals appalling showing at the elections have led the wonderful Lembit Opik to call for Nick Clegg to resign. Jesus, no wonder Ed Miliband’s happy. In a few months he could be fighting a coalition of parties led by Boris Johnson and Limpet Optic. And if that doesn’t spell another 20 years of socialist government, I dunno what does.

Kaputt


It wasn’t 100 years ago today….

No this isn’t another sodding Titanic Special ( as this isn’t the BBC and there’s only so many commemorations/celebrations of a national tragedy which one can really stomach.)

No, it wasn’t 100 years ago on this very day,just nearly:  April 21st 1918 that Baron Manfred Von Richthofen – that’s The Red Baron to you – was shot down over Armiens during the first world war. There’s all sorts of controversy and mystery surrounding the exact details of his death, with many differing (you might say Anton Differing) accounts who actually fired the shots which brought The Baron down. But you could do worse than examine what the student’s friend, Wikipedia, has to say on the matter.

At the time, the Baron had been pursuing (at very low altitude) a Sopwith Camel piloted by a novice Canadian pilot, Lieutenant Wilfrid “Wop” May of No. 209 Squadron, Royal Air Force. In turn, the Baron was spotted and briefly attacked by a Camel piloted by a school friend (and flight commander) of May’s, Canadian Captain Arthur “Roy” Brown, who had to dive steeply at very high speed to intervene, and then had to climb steeply to avoid hitting the ground. Richthofen turned to avoid this attack, and then resumed his pursuit of May…. [then after he crashed to the ground] eye witness, Sergeant Ted Smout of the Australian Medical Corps, reported that Richthofen’s last word was “kaputt

So one thing seems clear, the 1st World War was full of heroes, derring-do, inappropriate nicknames and racial stereotypes. The Kraut was shot down by The Wop and uttered that he was “Kaputt” just before he snuffed if after a wizard prang. If it had been reported he’d said “Gott in Himmel” it couldn’t have been more Corking! It’s like reading a copy of The Battle Picture Library.

As kids in the UK we were brought up on this stuff – mini comic books depicting our brave boys struggle against the nasty nazis. Of course it was all pretty much concerned with WWII as the lines of good vrs evil are slightly more blurred in the first world war than in the second. Us Brits were (and some of us still are) obsessed with the fight against the Nazis and the 1939-45 affair, knowing few details of, or caring far far less about the 1914-18 conflict (the great British hero and eccentric Col A.D.Wintle, of course thought there was only one war against Germany: 1914-1945 which included a 21 year pause in the middle “while the Germans regrouped”). The Nazis are a much easier target than Kaiser Bill’s army, and as the second war is so much closer in time, we’ve tended to concentrate on that, rather than The Red Baron & Co.

There are always exceptions, of course. There are times when the whys and wherefores, the whos and the whats get mixed up. But the important thing is that no-one goes overboard and try to ignite bad feeling and relive old fights. So imagine my surprise when I discovered this little gem by the American group The Royal Guardsman. I was familiar with the song, of course, but certainly not with this performance, complete with cartoon German accents, nazi saluting and goose-stepping. Forgive and forget, they say, but I know neither if The Red Baron back in 1918 was an exponent of the straight-arm salute or the funny walk, nor whether The Royal Guardsmen should be forgiven, or simply forgotten.

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