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.


Up in Smoke

Since my little episode in the summer – when I hit the deck like the GB’s baton in the 400m relay – I’ve been like the Olympic Flame: never going out. Well, hardly ever. But “hardly ever going out” isn’t the end of one of my favourite jokes, so we’ll make do with never going out. Ok?

The route for the Olympic Torch has been announced this morning and, for better or worse, the good people or Dartford won’t be within either a javelin or a stone’s-throwing range of the runners and the flame. Good thing really cos The Incumbent has been practicing her aim with both. If a procession of tracksuit-clad locals and micro-celebrities were to jog past the Potting Shed, a violent salvo of objects, once destined for eBay, would be launched in their general direction. She may manage to cop someone of the stature of a Floella Benjamin or a Jim Davidson around the earhole with an old ornament, causing considerable damage.  But you can never be too sure of a direct hit, so it’s best the entourage stays well away from the neighbourhood.

Since we failed to secure even a single child’s ticket for the egg-and-spoon race, the London 2012 experience is not one to be enjoyed in our house. Coupled with my failure to get a job with the Olympic organization’s photo-team, mention of The Games is strictly verboten around here. (Although we are only assuming I didn’t get the job, me having not received a single word either way from the interviewers. Rude fvckers.)

Whenever there’s a news item about next year’s event, or Seb Coe’s beaming face appears on tv, the station is immediately switched off or over – even if it means watching another autopsy on Channel 4 (have they not got any other ideas?). The whole shambles/con (delete where applicable) over the ‘legacy’ and the football stadia, and the ‘affordable housing’ and the ticket prices has really left a nasty taste in the mouth, so we won’t be joining in the fun, if you don’t mind (I bet that’s come as a shock to you, hasn’t it?)

So no runners past the Potting Shed. No cheering-on of the torch by the farmhands. The locals at The Berchtesgaden Arms will not have the chance to wave the flag of St George in celebration of the flame’s progress. They’ll have to save their celebratory bender and Sieg Heil session until the Stephen Lawrence accused get off again.

Casting a cursory glance at the route I think I notice the joggers won’t be taking the torch around neither Tottenham nor Croydon. Probably for the best, I suppose. I think they’ve had enough of flames for a while. That bloke in the furniture shop has only just sat down after giving all those emotional news interviews. It’d be nice to give him a rest for a while.

While we’re on fire-related moans and groans: Can’t we now take this opportunity to ban fireworks altogether? It’s too early to know what really caused the horrors on the M5 at the weekend, but can we not make use of the suspicion by outlawing bonfires and fireworks once and for all? If we can prove they are harmful to the environment, I’d gladly reinforce my immaculate green-credentials in an effort to rid us all of the noise, the smoke and the smell.

It used to be that you’d only see and hear these bloody things on, or around November 5th.  In 1605 Guy (Guido) Fawkes and a bunch of his catholic mates tried to blow up Parliament. He got caught and the ‘gunpowder plot’ failed. We’ve been celebrating his capture/mourning his failure (delete where applicable) ever since. All well and good, I suppose. Most countries have a yearly festival or celebration day when the fireworks are rolled out. The French have Bastille Day, the day every year they give thanks for not being invaded by the Germans (again). Then there’s the 4th of July, commemorated by Brits the world over as the day we finally let the yanks out in the world on their own. A bit like sending an annoying spotty teenager off to college and getting the box room back. Years later he returns, now owning IBM and degree in shooting people, but the peace and quiet was nice while it lasted.

I digress.

But now we not only have to start dodging rockets and catherine wheels around 5th November, but we now have to listen to them over Christmas, New Year, Easter, Yom Kippur, Epiphany, Lent, Diwali, the  X-Factor results, Downton Abbey finales, in fact any and every single celebration that someone somewhere feels they need to enjoy. I’m all in favour of a multicultural, multi-faith country where all are welcomed and encouraged to live as diverse and existence as is possible. But why-oh-why-oh-daily-mail do all these festivities have to come with sodding fireworks ? Maurice, the rather nervous dog next door has shellshock – they now feed him on valium and St John’s Wort. There’s a pall of smoke hanging over the lower paddock, making it look like Kabul after the big beardy naughty boys have been about.

They banned smoking on the top deck of a bus and the left hand side of the cinema; they stopped us from riding a motorcycle without a helmet; had an amnesty on handguns; they even banned Tom&Jerry from my tv (presumably to make room for a series on human dissection on Channel 4). Surely there’s a decent case to be made against these rockets and missiles which kill, harm, mutilate and maim so many every year ? I have nothing against blowing up parliament, and happy to raise a glass to the Guido and his mates for having a pop at it. But is blowing up each other, distressing our pets and covering motorways with thick smoke really the way forward ? What if we restrict it to one huge re-enactment every year, underneath parliament, using live ammo. And hope for the best ?

Or the worst. (delete where applicable).

Laughing in the face of Danger(mouse).


It was my own fault. I’d ignored all the omens, poo-pooed all the warnings and cocked a deaf’un to to reason. Thus, gasping for a pint after a long, exhausting Thursday, I headed down to my local for a pint-or-eight. My local pub is one of a famous chain or Oirish Pubs, it was Thursday 24th September, they were ‘celebrating’ 250 years of the birth of Arthur Guinness, yet forgetting all that I held true to my heart, I entered the establishment for refreshment.

I have previously explained my position on Guinness and Paddy’s Day and it is a measure of a) how thirsty I was and b) the lack of any other decent bars in town that I broke all my own rules. “Happy Birthday Arthur” was yet another in a long line of promotions intended to get you into a pub and drinking gallons of vitamin G. Nothing wrong in that, you might say, but then you would be wrong. Most of us don’t need encouragement to drink a lot and you just know the types who enjoy this sort of thing, who would turn up at a party celebrating the power of dysentery if there was a chance of a free pint, and dress up accordingly. My worst fears were soon realised.

My first pint was served to me by a 6ft 3″ black Leprechaun. He came complete with a green, foam, top hat, green nylon all-in-one suit and elasticated ginger beard. I know this bloke. Nice enough fella, just finishing his studies at college and wants to join the Old Bill (I’m working on him). He was the only Leprechaun behind the jump, but I noticed some of the girls serving were dressed in emerald green crushed-velvet River Dance outfits. The early signs weren’t good. But fair enough, if the boss tells you to dress up like an idiot, you dress up like an idiot, right? WRONG. There was clearly dissent in the ranks. The natives were revolting, as I witnessed when I spotted two of the older barmaids, with faces liked slapped arses, wearing their regular black shirts and trousers. They’d told the boss to stick his idea. There was tension in the air.

Or at least there probably was but I couldn’t sense or hear a bleedin thing over the noise of the pissed youth of Blackheath and the PA system spewing-out Diddly Diddly ditties at a decibel level of somewhere near an eleven. The bar was busy, very busy, and very lively for 8 o’clock on a Thursday. Most of the punters had either started early or quickly, or both. I asked The Incumbent who was chugging away on her half of Guinness, whether we’d missed a public holiday cos this lot looked as if they’d been at it all day. She mouthed some words which I couldn’t here over the din and proceeded to attack a scratch card to see if she’d won another half pint (free scratchcard with every Guinness. As we’d ordered a pint-and-a-half I suggested we got a card-and-a-half but the Leprechaun was having none of it).


I went outside to the tranquility of the street to take a phone call. Superman was having a fag with The Joker. Oh Christ! There was a fancy dress night on too. My heart sank deep into my right-handed underpants. Why can’t these fuckers just turn up to a pub like anyone else? I told my mate on the phone not to bother coming to the pub, describing it as ‘Amateur Night in Disneyland’. Returning to the house of fun, I noticed The Incumbent was clearly non-plussed. In the few moments I’d been outside, she’d had an altercation with a drunk fat woman and , in a rare display of aggression, had given her a dig in the kidneys as the awful woman had backed into her for the sixth time. We made a tactical retreat to a quiet(er) corner of the bar.

From our vantage point, and having placated the Mrs, I cast my eye over the scene before me. it was only about 8.30 but it looked more like 12.30. The bar was jumping. The Pogues had now replaced The Batchelors (I believe) on the jukebox and groups of lads, pints held aloft, eyes shut, and heads tilted back to the ceiling were shouting the wrong words to the ‘Fairytale of New York‘. “The band of the in my seedy choir were ringing Galway day…” etc. Dotted among them I spotted Batwoman ( I assumed) dancing with Dangermouse in a rhythm only a superhero could master. Both of them out of time with the music and with each other. It took me a while to realise who the second of this couple was, as at first glance it looked like a girl in a white catsuit with a large white breast on her head. Then I realised she’d pushed her foam head back off her face so the mouse’s face was pointing straight up. It therefore wasn’t a huge nipple I had spotted, but a nose. Quite disappointing really.danger

More pints (and scratchcards) arrived, and took their inevitable toll. I made my way though the all singing-and-dancing hoards to the back to the pub and towards the loo. The aforementioned fat pissed bird was on the on her arse on the dance floor (it’s not really a dance floor, just a space in the crowd, but such was her size and her flailing dance-technique she’d managed to clear a few square yards) and shouting obscenities to passers by. I circumnavigated her and made for the gents (or the fir, as they’re known in Oirish bars). An odd conversation was taking place.
“Why you look like Spiderman?” asked the toilet man (you know him, he charges you a quid to wash your hands)
“What?” came the annoyed response, from Superman.
“Why you dressed like Spiderman, innit?”
“I’m not fucking Spiderman, I’m SUPERman”, his eyes were narrowing, he was clearly annoyed. Then he added, oddly, “I have got Spidey-sense” he used his two fingers pointing from his eyes in mock-super-vision.”but I’m fucking SUPERman”.


“You’re the third person tonight who thought I was spiderman” he whimpered, looking down at his kit rather sadly.

Luckily, being right handed, I was able to go quickly about my business and keep out of the discussion. Re-entering the bar I realised the band had turned up. One of the regular Thursday night bookings, and they’re bloody good. Five black lads and a white bloke. They play reggae. I squeezed through the revellers as the band kicked off with “You can get it if you really want”. The Leprachaun was arm-in-arm with Captain America singing a Jimmy Cliff number.

“C’mon, we’re leaving” I announced to the other half. “This has all gotten too weird for me.”


This Sporting Life

Spring has sprung,
Da grass has riz,
I wonder where da boidies is?
Da little boids is on da wing,
Ain’t that absoid,
Da little wings is on da boid.

There’s something different about this morning. It maybe that, for the first time this year, I’m able to sit in my garden with a cup of tea without the fear of losing several digits to frostbite. It may be that the new European Champions at Rugby Union are Ireland. (4th place. FOURTH!! How d’ya like THEM leeks?). It may even be that the blue tits in my garden (no, nothing to do with the cold weather) seems to at last be taking an interest in one of the several bird boxes I nailed up over the winter months.

But no, there’s a spring in my step this morning because yesterday IT arrived, just as he promised it would. It came in the post yesterday morning (well, lunchtime—my postie likes his lie-ins nowadays) and was accompanied by a piece of paper on which he’d written “Drool Away”. “He” is my long-time pal Andrew, and “it” is my ticket for the first day of the Lords Test Match against the Australians this July. YES.

I can hear monocles flying out all over Tunbridge Wells, teacups smashing in the Garrick, and a million expletives uttered under a million breaths as a large proportion of the population come to terms with the fact that the tickets are out only a lucky few will get them.

I’ve been going to the Thursday of the Lords test with Andrew for nigh on 20 years now. Through thin and thin we’ve supported England as country after country have turned up at HQ with the press predicting they’ll be over-awed by playing at the Holy of Holys, only to teach the home side a lesson in, well, pretty much everything. I think we speak about six words to each other when we’re there, and we certainly never talk during overs. It’s heaven.

Hook THAT one, yer bastard!

Hook THAT one, yer bastard!

Supporting English cricket is not for the faint-hearted or the easily-disappointed (being a Charlton Athletic fan, you’d think I’d suffered enough unpleasantness), but addict and Addick as I am, I just can’t help myself. Imagine the thrill of seeing 2 out of the first 3 Aussie batsmen get clattered on the head when they were last here. It was hilarious beyond words. We stuck it to ’em alright. So they decided to return the compliment and rout us when it was their turn to bowl.


It happens with an almost predictable regularity but nothing can dampen the goose-bumped optimism for my team’s chances as I pass though the gates and enter the Great Place, awaiting those flanneled fools in their Green Baggies to skip down the pavilion steps. Anyone who’s been on the Nou Camp, the Augusta National, the Oval Office or the Taj Mahal must surely recognize that feeling. (In the Taj Mahal I always order the Doipaza and the Taka Dal, very tasty, and remember, they stop serving at 11.30 sharp). Twickenham is always a bit of a disappointment—it has to be the coldest , soul-less ground on earth, and oddly The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff knocks it into a cocked hat (have I mentioned that the Welsh came in 4th?).

So now the long build-up to that great day begins: There’s the Lions Squad to be announced (PLEASE DON’T TAKE THAT POWDERED PONCE HENSON), Charlton’s Oozalum season will come to it’s inevitable conclusion, and the drone of millionaires parading round an F1 track will soon be interrupting my Sunday lunchtime pint. But I have my ticket for Lords and that means cricket’s back in town, and the world seems a better place for it.

Now where did I put my lucky jockstrap?

A terrifying site for any Ozzie batsman

A terrifying site for any Ozzie batsman

Michael, They Have Taken You Away

I fancy a quiet drink tonight. No, seriously I do. Well to be precise: I fancy a series of quiet drinks. But will I achieve my goal? Will I feck! Cos it’s time to wish one and all a Happy Guinness Marketing Campaign Day— the day second only to New Year’s Eve for the influx of wankers in the bars of London. You can guarantee an otherwise civilized watering hole will be full of the Amateur Brigade who have suddenly decided they can drink 3 pints of stout, and know all the words to the Field’s of Athenry, then collapse in a heap of black, drainpipe jeans and green foam hats, before you have the chance to swing a massive Dick Barton their way.
What men want: A nice quiet pub and
obedient bar staff. Photo: Jude Davis

Oh God! I hate Paddy’s Night. Not that I have anything against the Irish, far from it— they are fine people and I’ve spent many, many happy days over there, in pubs, on rugby fields, then in pubs again, (I even had my Stag weekend in Cork). A great, great country so it is. So are the people. But it’s the affect their Patron Saint seems to have on us over here that almost makes me want to give up the black stuff (almost). He may have rid Ireland of snakes, but I wish he’d rid my pub of arseholes.

In past years I have reverted to lager so that I’m not associated with the baying mob (not that I’m agin lager either). I just refuse to take part in this night of shite, made possible only by the marketing men in Dublin. Arse!
I grant you, “If One Guinness is Good for You, Think what Toucan do” was a touch of genius, but passing out green top hats and t-shirts as a bribe to drink stout is a poor imitation of a smart marketing campaign which only students and ad-sales teams fall for.

I don’t celebrate St George’s Day. I don’t celebrate St Andrew’s Day. I stay indoors during that Welsh one. I raise the odd glass on Dec 25th for Happy Birthday Jesus Day, but that’s it. The rest is just steady, year-long quiet tippling IN MODERATION (that’s the key). So who are YOU to invade my privacy and MY boozer just cos you might get a free inflatable pint? Bugger off and use your Slug and Lettuces for such malarky. I shall raise a glass to the lads in green when they trample all over the Welsh on Saturday at Cardiff. Until then, like Josef Fritzl, I shall keep my head buried in a good book.


There’s a Rat in Mi Kitchen Cabinet

There is now five times more litter in this country than in 1963. There are now more rats in the UK than people (Dwain Chambers, Peter Hain and Fred Goodwin count in each column). We’re also told that Britain now has a quarter of the world’s CCTV cameras—presumably to film the rats.

Those of us who don’t feel threatened by the cameras, nevertheless question their worth. Admittedly, they once successfully managed to follow a Brazilian backpacker from his flat to a tube station, but a fat lot of good that did him, poor sod. BUT, you can guarantee that the next time you’re in dire need of a lamp post on the way home, your urinary diversion will be captured on super-8 and be submitted as evidence against you when you’re hauled up in front of the Beak.

Surely if we spent a little less on cameras, and a little more on refuse collectors, we might create a less-threatening, Big Brother environment, get more people in work (I know, it’ll never catch on) and deprive ratty of a ready-meal.


I can’t help thinking that those who jump on the Green Lobby’s household waste-recycling bandwagon are unwittingly contributing to the problem: Most councils are reducing rubbish collection, especially from the green bins, to fortnightly collections, which gives our furry friends more time to sample the delights of last’s night’s chicken korma, or even last week’s nut roast.

Until Big Business stops pumping crap into the ozone, and producing mountains of waste the size of Wales (why is it always Wales?) we shouldn’t be guilt-tripped into helping save the planet. Lord Beaverbook did the same during the war: persuading the women of Britain to give up their pots n pans, their husbands to donate their car-tyres, and schools to dismantle their railings, all to make Spitfires and Lancasters to fight the Germans. The result? Absolutely bugger all. Not a single plane was made and no Germans slaughtered as a result (not even Edmund Blackadder’s famous “daschund with a slight limp”) But it felt like the little people were “doing their bit” for the war effort. Cobblers.

So here’s the thing: start off by forcing Fred The Shred to empty bins 3 times-a-week. No, scratch that. Dwain would do it much faster. Fred can drive the truck. I fear Peter Hain would be harder to catch. He’ll be off looking for another ship to desert with the rest of his rodenty rabble-rousers.