How to Improve the NHS. #75: Better Childcare

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I Swear by Almighty God…


Well I suppose the time has come to stop moaning about how skint I am, get up off my arse and go get a job. That may sound a ludicrous idea in this day and age, but there seem to be a lot of jobs available at the moment, and I’ve been pondering their various merits. I wonder if I could find something to do part-time to supplement the millions I’m making out of designing T-shirts ?

Coronation Street actress Jenny McAlpine

By the way, if anyone from the BBC Newsnight Team is reading this, that last line was a joke. I’m not making millions out of T-shirts, I merely put that line in by way of a joke. I hope to include several more jokes in this piece, and hopefully much funnier ones. But please, if the rumour spreads across the internet that I’m worth a fortune due to my printing business, and you feel it would be a story worth airing, please call me to see if there is anything to the gossip. Back in the day when I worked in the journalism business, it used to be called fact-checking.

So there’s my first application off in the post : for the job of Newsnight Editor. There presumably isn’t one at the moment, and if there is I think I back myself to make a better fist (easy !) of it, being pretty sure as I am that a multi-collaborated story about systematic and widespread child abuse on BBC premises, covered up for over 40 years would probably be worth airing, whereas some bloke approaching me in the World Food aisle of Sainsburys, accusing a Tory peer of abusing him, adding “I’m pretty sure he looked a bit like that Lord McAlpine bloke, or someone…probably” might merit some further investigation before broadcasting it. D’you think?

The Renault Alpine

The Renault Alpine

As mentioned previously, The job as the new Arch Bishop of Canterbury has already gone. I was never really cut out for that anyway. Firstly, and most obviously, I’ve never been a treasurer for Enterprise Oil Plc- a post which, if you know your scripture as badly as I don’t, is spelt out in the book of Colin18:15 :- and Yea verrily, the Lord sayest unto me -“if you want a jobeth up here, mate, worketh you for ten plus one years (including Bankest Holidays) for a FTSE 100 listeth multinational, then I might consider you. And for My sake, shaveth off that beard – I’m not going down that route again” – amen.

So I clearly need to look elsewhere. Only to add that it’s nice to see the new ABC stamping his sandal down heavily on gay marriage right from the get-go. I certainly wouldn’t want to lead any church which welcomed all and understood the needs and differences of all HIM UPSTAIR’S flock. On the other hand, it may just be his way of ridding the church of paedophiles, because, as the Prime Minister has already said this week, there is a concern that this hunt for child abusers could turn into a gay witch hunt. 

Lord McAlpine and a Friend (unknown)

It’s taken a while to arrive, but I wondered how long it would take for someone to link child abuse with homosexuality. What a brilliant device to justify the non-outing of child abuse offenders. Hide behind a human rights statute which, given half a chance, Cameron and his mob would chuck out at the drop of a Top hat (and demand the right to bend over and pick it up). The BBC spent all week slating Philip Scofield for having the temerity to ask Cameron about the rumours, but not once did anyone pick up on the scandalous accusation that paedophilia is a product of homosexuality.

So there’s application No.2: Witch Hunter (Gay) General. Just point out all those gay witches to me and I’ll be on the case. A rather well-off bloke called Cliff, who drinks in my local pub (known to me as Fiscal Cliff – a joke only I enjoy) reckons statistically that “all poofs are perverts”. Who amongst us could argue with a beautiful, well constructed argument such as that ? He’s also a champion of the “all rag-heads are terrorists” school, and founder of the Dartford chapter of the “Illegal Immigrants Smell” society. It’s a real joy chatting to him, as you can image. (Note to BBC journalists that last paragraph was a joke too. It’s not a joy to speak to him)

As an aside, I was recently asked to be a driver and take the X-Factor Cheryl and her former husband Ashley up to St James’ Park for a charity gig. But I didn’t fancy it, so I turned it down. To me it seemed a bit like taking Coles to Newcastle.

sorry

An Undercover Paedophile

But I mustn’t be too hard on the Prime Minister. It is, after all, a well-known fact that if you let gays into the armed forces, they will be distracted from their task of fighting the enemy by their uncontrollable urge to shag the nearest NCO up the Tactical Retreat. It’s obvious that these degenerates blend in with normal folk, dressing and acting in a manner which makes it incredibly hard to tell them from us regular chaps.

What a sensational idea. To conceal the fact that you are a paedophile in a children’s home by dressing up as…. a paedophile. Who on earth could have realised what he was up to ? No wonder the PM is concerned that we will be hunting down the wrong sort or paedophile  individual , and accuse any random cabinet minister person that they were either colluding with the offenders, indulging in nefarious activities with them, or simply so incompetent that they unwittingly turned a blind eye to these crimes in a bid to be popular. I can’t see that sort of admonishable behaviour ever having happened, frankly.

Unknown Man with An Undercover Paedophile

Useless Twat with An Undercover Paedophile

If the Witch Hunter job has already gone, there’s always the job of the head of the CIA to apply for. The incumbent one, David Petraeus, has just fallen on his sword after having admitted having an extra-marital affair. It’s apparently not the done thing to have the Spook-in-Chief play away from home, in case he goes all John Profumo on you and starts pillow-talking with the opposition. Petraeus is an all-American hero and the suggestion that he may have betrayed state secrets is vigorously denied by both the US Government and his lover, Mrs Edith Taliban, Hut 5, Nad-e Ali, Helmund Province. Telephone: Afghanistan 4.  (Note to the remaining members of the CIA: That last bit was a joke also. I made up her phone number. My hat size is 6 7/8, should you want to bring a canvas bag with you when you call. I also have Aspergers. Honest).

Oh fuck it. I think I’ll apply to be a Police and Crime Commissioner. By the sounds of it you’ll only need about 5 votes to get in, such is the apathy for the upcoming UK elections. In Kent, The English Democrat candidate is the wonderfully named Steve Uncles.  Here’s the opening to his website:

“Steve Uncles Kent Police & Crime Commissioner English Democrats – “More Police Catching Criminals” Born Blackheath (Traditional Kent), child hood Bexley (Traditional Kent), adult & family life Dartford (Kent), I am an English Kentishman. I have worked within public and private sectors and for 10 years ran my own business.”

Zeig Heil

(NB: I made that last bit up.)

Do you get the idea he’s from (Traditional) Kent ? I can’t read that without hearing the “We Want to be Togevva” voice in my head. I’m amazed we haven’t run over each other in the past. If I can’t beat him I might as well give up and go and make T-shirts or something.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing

Happy Talk


In the words of Supertramp: It’s Raining Again. It’s always raining. Foreigners may have this image of England always being covered in either pea-soupers or rain, but this time – even by our low standards – we’ve had rotten weather. We seem to have missed out on summer altogether this year. Winter-Spring-Autumn-Winter, that’s how 2012 will be remembered. It’s wet and it’s bloody cold too. The only few weeks of the whole summer to escape the rain was the sodding Olympics. I’m so happy.

I haven’t even had my birthday yet and it’s already Guy Fawkes weather: that time in the year when us Brits traditionally gather round the bonfire to mourn the fact that some bunch of Catholics failed to blow up The Houses of Parliament a few hundred years ago. Tradition has it that mum sits inside, sometimes in the cupboard under the stairs , comforting the dog and cupping its ears, while the kids stand in the garden watching dad and Slightly-Dodgy-Uncle Colin try to light damp fireworks.

After a several swearwords and a couple of boxes of Swan Vestas they give up, let the kids play with a few sparklers right up until one of the abandoned-cos-it’s-no-fucking-use fireworks decides to ignite itself and launch itself at an angle of 37.5° towards the house. Dad and Colin, by now a tad elephants, hit the deck like Luis Suarez on a day out in Stoke; the kids piss themselves with delight; the dog shits himself and bites mum. A good night is had by all.

A week before all this we have another in a long line of American imports to endure: Halloween night. Or more annoyingly and importantly: Trick or Treaters. Little fuckers. None of this ever took place during my formative years (and we can blame ET for the start of its popularity over here). I don’t even recall there even being Halloween cards in the shops while I was growing up (sic), just a few abortive attempts at pumpkin carving, and the odd whiff of a lit lantern here and there. Certainly no fancy-dress parades, and no banging on doors demanding sweets in lieu of forfeits or punishment.

Last year, The Incumbent and I hid behind the sofa when some herberts came to call, but were paid back with eggs being thrown at the house. I say it was herberts, it may well have been my mum and dad – they are at a funny age and I don’t ring home enough. Apparently Jimmy Savile would scare callers by wearing a scary costume, and waving about his gnarled pumpkin. I’m not sure what he did at Halloween.

(By the way, my pal Ciaran tells me that this years Guantanamo Bay’s Christmas Panto is to be Peter Pan. Apparently, Abu Hamza is chuffed to bits with the part he’s been offered.)

But enough of that.

So finally (and in reverse order) a couple of weeks before Halloween we (and when I say we, I mean I) will arrive with rather too much speed for my liking at my birthday. Though this year ‘s anniversary of my birth will not be greeted with as much dread, depression and trepidation as is the custom round these here parts. I watched the cricket yesterday, where the West Indies gave the hosts, Sri Lanka, a real pasting – as they had done to England a week or so earlier.

I am nearly 48 years old, I had a stroke last year (I may have mentioned it) and I am looking dow the wrong end of 17 stone, but if Ravi Rampaul and Johnson Charles are international cricketers, capable of being in a World Championship-winning team, then I am once more strapping myself into my lucky Bobby Tambling jockstrap, rubbing-in a tin of Ralgex into my aching body and again taking to the field of play. Put me down as “Available for Selection”, please. I might even put on some kit before the match begins.

“Do I detect a certain happiness in your demeanour, Mike?” I don’t hear you ask. Well, funny you shouldn’t ask: The reason you find me so happy-go-lucky today is that I was told this week by a consultant specialising in strokes (there’s that Mr Savile again) that I am ‘very unlikely’ (which is good enough for me) that I will have a recurrence of the explosion in my bonce which caused my original stroke. Even though I still suffer the occasional bouts of dizziness, numbness, and miserableness, this is normal and in a few years all such niggles should disappear (with the possible exception of the miserableness) and that I should feel free to lead a normal existence, think myself lucky, and stop worrying about stuff. “And for fuck’s sake cheer up, you sad bastard.”

So this is the new, happy me. Get used to it. Or fuck off.

With My Little Ukelele in My Hand


A mate of mine recently asked me if it was a recording of me singing and playing the ukelele which Sainsburys are using in their current Christmas Ad campaign. Just to put him and anyone else’s mind at ease, it isn’t.

It is, of course a song by the great George Formby, with whom I’m sure you lot are bored shitless by now, he being the subject of many a post or comment within these here pages. I didn’t start writing hit singles til well into the 1970s. This song predates that by about 30 years. But I can see what my mate meant: this song is very me. Having looked up the lyrics (well, I can’t get out much nowadays. See how you like it – stuck at home watching Grand Designs compilations all the fucking time!!!! Piss off !!), I note that his outlook on life would have fitted in quite nicely here at The Sharp Single. Reading the words and dee-dee-deeing along with the video, I find myself agreeing with nearly all he says.

See what you think. And, of course, my regards to you and yours for the festive season.

I can laugh when things ain’t funny
Ha, ha, happy-go-lucky me
Yea, I can smile when I ain’t got no money
Ha, ha, happy-go-lucky me

It may sound silly, but I don’t care
I got the moonlight, I got the sun
I got the stars above

Me and my sweetie
Well, we both share
Slappy-go-happy, happy-go-lucky love

Well, life is sweet
Whoa-ho, sweet as honey
Ha, ha, happy-go-lucky me

On the other hand, if you’re going to be like that, stick your Christmas up your arse.

Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Sousa Vieira de Oliveira


Not only a brilliant footballer, but a lot of points in Scrabble, Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Sousa Vieira de Oliveira, or just Socrates to you and me, has died. Having survived a long career of being forced to wear some of the smallest shorts in sporting history, his hobbies of smoking, drinking and fathering kids (see And Where were the Germans? previous post) finally caught up with him.

Said The Daily Telegraph:

“Socrates – who also played at the 1986 World Cup finals – was a flamboyant footballer who boasted a myriad of contradictions.

He was a qualified doctor who never gave up his enjoyment of a smoke and a drink; he was an outspoken political activist, regularly protesting against the Brazilian military junta of the 1970s and 1980s.

He once listed his heroes as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and John Lennon, fathered six children and spent his retirement penning passionate articles on politics and economics as well as sport.

Socrates won 60 caps for Brazil, scored 22 goals and was a contemporary of the great Zico.

After officially ending his playing career in 1989, he bizarrely reappeared 15 years later, at the age of 50, with Garforth Town, an amateur side in the backwoods of northern England where he featured for just 10 minutes of action.”

A bit of a bolshy bastard, who loved a gasper (this is me talking now, not The Telegraph), Dr Socrates is remembered as much as a champion of the little man and a fierce campaigner against tyranny and dictatorship as he was for his swift, elegant play, his back-heels and his marvellous goal celebrations.There’s a video on Youtube of his appearance at Garforth Town, but this is how you really wanna remember him.

In a world when all we’re left with is the dignity and charm of John Terry, the wit and wisdom of Joey Barton and the grace and sportsmanship of Robbie Savage, it’s nice to remember a time when soccer was populated with gentleman and scholars, in every sense of the word.
And shorts that cut you in half.

That’ll Bring Water to Your Eyes

MovemberGrid

Handlebar’s Water Music


(The story so far: Mike has had a stroke at the tender age of 48, and many tests ensue)

I’d had enough of this falling over shit. My Doctor had had enough of me moaning about this “I’m dizzy” bollocks. It was time for my MRI scan. What was going on up there in that alleged brain of mine ? Why did my head keep exploding, which resulted in me sitting on my arse, blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.

I washed and shaved early, trying out the Honda handlebar moustache for the for the first time. Shoehorned my ample frame into one of the few pair of trousers which I both own and still fit me. Thank Allah that my appointment came when it did – any later and they may have had to grease me up to slide me into that scanner.

The literature which the hospital had sent along with the appointment told me to leave all metal bits n pieces behind. Phones, watches, keys, belt buckles (haven’t needed one of those for a while) plates in my head and piercings in my nipples, none of these would be allowed within a UNISON picket line of the MRI scanner.

When the day came, we (I was ably accompanied by The Incumbent) arrived at the hospital, took advantage of the Costa Coffee in the foyer, then headed off for the MRI dept. We entered, gave my name and, virtually free of metallic objects, sat in the waiting room. The silence was broken after just a few minutes.

“Mr Bealing?”
“Er…yes, here” I even put my hand up like a boy at the back of the class.
The nurse looked me up and down. “Those trousers got a metal button?”
“Er, yes. yes I think they have” I replied (well after all, I had paid over fifteen quid for them at Sainsbury’s. No rubbish here, mate).
“Well they’ll have to come off. You can’t wear them in the scanner. Come with me you can change in there [points to room up the corridor], then you can come back, give your trousers to your wife (sic) and wait to be called.”

I went white. A cold sweat came over me. Although I was still able, unaided, to have put my Sainsbury’s trousers on, wearing underpants underneath them had become a bit of a luxury. My burgeoning waistline and arseline leave no room for boxer shorts. Jockeys or Y-fronts are a distant memory and so I had arrived at my local hospital a la Commando. Sans trolleys. Born Free. Without knickers.

The thought of the nurse handing me a gown to get into and me having to walk back to the waiting room with my bare arse hanging out for my fellow patients’ entertainment and enjoyment filled me with fear and dread. I shared my fears with The Incumbent who nearly imploded with laughter. I wasn’t laughing.

I followed the nurse to the changing room and was relieved to see a pair of sky blue cotton drawstring trousers hanging there. They were huge, fortunately, and I managed to slide into them. Indeed so big were they that the drawstring didn’t pull tight enough to hold them up. I had to clench wads of material with one hand, and keep my thighs and buttocks together to ensure they stayed up at a decent level, sparing my blushes.

I rolled up my own, now discarded strides under my arm and left the room to return to the missus in the waiting area. On the way I noticed a handily-placed WC and thought this would be a good opportunity to get rid of the tepid Primo Latte which Costa had provided me with earlier. I was due to be in the scanner for 90 minutes and I didn’t want to be caught short while I was in there. In my half-clenched, bent-over state I shuffled my way over to have a pee, carefully ensuring my arse didn’t take a peek out the back of my slacks.

There is a type of cotton (cheap chinos are made of it) which, no matter how hard, how vigorous or how many times you shake your willy after urinating, will soak up every little speck, each and every drop of pee it can and show the evidence of this so-called “willy drip” to one and all in the form of a huge dark patch around your goolie region.

I have to tell you now that these hospital trousers were made of this very same material. And I wasn’t wearing pants.

There is nothing one can do about it. 2 tiny drips had hit the cotton and were now joined together and were spreading, leaving a dark blue patch the size of a CD in the general area of my penis. Can you imagine how mortified I was ? I left the loo. Picture the scene of me, hunched up, buttocks and knees together, one hand holding the flystring of my newly-acquired blue leg ware, the other holding a perfectly good pair of Sainsburys drills in front of a big blotch of wee. With my new face fuzz I must have looked like a balding, fat Fu Manchu with a bladder complaint. Oh happy days.

As luck would have it, I was called in to be scanned way before the patch dried. I had to pass my old trousers to the still-giggling Incumbent and resorted to hiding my moist nether regions with the front tails of my shirt. I entered the scanning room.

The nurse greeted me and said the scan would be in three stages.
“And Once in Evening Dress ?” I offered, trying to be witty. And titter came there none.
“No. Head, neck and then blood flow” she informed me sternly.
“Oh, ok then”.

She then explained that I’d be in the scanner for well over an hour and it’s a really boring experience, when you “must MUST” keep your neck and head still throughout. She went on that also, as brilliant as this technology is, it’s really very noisy as the scan goes through its phases, so she popped a pair of headphones on me which act as both ear mufflers and through which they would talk to me and play music throughout the procedure- to give me something to take my mind off it.
“Is there any music you don’t want us to play ?” she asked.
“Rap or anything by Morrissey” I replied, quick as a flash (it’s a knee-jerk reaction).
A blank look came across her face. “I don’t think we’ve got anything like that anyway” she said. “What about anything you’d really like to hear?” she asked.

Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks or Old Shep by Elvis” I quipped. But by the stoney look I received, my joke had, again, fallen on deaf ears. “Classical will do” I told her. Christ, she was a tough crowd.

I climbed onto the machine bed, and lay back onto the head rest. She brought down a plastic grid over my face, and put wedges either side to prevent movement. I knew how Hannibal Lecter felt at that airport. As the bench slid half way into the machine, I lay head and shoulders inside, torso and legs al fresco. I half expected to hear John Mills or Hardy Kruger to shout “Fire One” and I’d shoot off out of the scanner, in the general direction of Orpington.

Nursey explained she needed to inject me with some chemical or other (thankfully my words not hers) in order to track my blood flow. As I lay there, wedged into in my cage I felt her pull a tourniquet around my bicep, then grab my hand in readiness for the injection.

It then dawned on me, as a chirpy Strauss waltz drifted across the airwaves, that if she was leaning down to spot a nice bulging vein in the back of my hand, her head would be a matter of inches away from my urine-soaked winkle.

“Now you might feel a little prick” she announced.

Did I ever.

Rugger Bugger


Now then, Guys and Gals: Here’s my favourite Daily Mail story of the week. Just goes to show how lucky I have been:

Burly rugby player has a stroke after freak gym accident… wakes up gay and becomes a hairdresser

When 19-stone rugby player Chris Birch suffered a stroke during a freak training accident, his family feared it would be a life-changing injury.

Yet while his recovery certainly brought about a transformation, it seems to have been in a way no one could have expected.
For when he regained consciousness, the 26-year-old – who was engaged to his girlfriend – claimed he had become gay.

Mr Birch’s astonishing change saw him break up with his fiancée, ditch his job in a bank to retrain as a hairdresser and lose eight stone in weight.
Before the accident Mr Birch, of Ystrad Mynach, South Wales, had spent his weekends watching sport and drinking with his mates.He has now moved in with his  19-year-old boyfriend.


The now ex-rugby player, a flanker with his local amateur reserve side, had been attempting a back flip in front of friends on a field when he fell down a grass bank, breaking his neck and suffering the stroke.…..

(continues…but I can’t be arsed to print anymore)

Poor, poor sod. He goes through all that pain and sorrow, those long uncomfortable nights in hospital, the operations and the bed-baths.  Then he wakes up and he’s still Welsh.

Breaks your heart.


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).

Just when I thought I was out..


So, how are you feeling today ? Ok ? Good. I’ve had a pretty shitty couple of weeks, to be honest, since you ask. The medication still doesn’t seem to be doing everything the docs want it to do. Still suffering from dizzy spells, the bouts of sickness are still around. All this prevents me from attending The Shovel or any of its sister boozers. It’s rather annoying, although getting annoyed is a no-no for me at the moment. As my blood pressure is higher than a astronaut’s arse the GP is concerned I’m a strong candidate for Stroke II: The Ramipril Strikes Back, so I’m under orders to take it easy and chillax, as young persons say.

I was under a shrink, to whom I was sent in a bid to calm me down and reduce the chances of my head popping off. But this shrink started to annoy me so I’ve stopped going.


It certainly wasn’t  the thought of being analyzed that phased me. A life-long Woody Allen fan, it’s always been a dream of mine to go see a headshrinker (and to play clarinet with him at Michael’s on a Monday). I fancied myself as a bit of Tony Soprano, sitting there in my triple-breasted suit, the tassles on my loafers gleaming and my hair greased back over my ever-expanding pate. But it didn’t do it for me and it didn’t last. My quack was no Lorraine Bracco. He was a bloke for a start. No, you gotta feel comfortable in front of these guys, I reckon, and I just wasn’t. Probably a personality clash. Closing my eyes and chanting OM while listening to a tape of a whale’s sphincter was enough for me, so I left.

So, without the aid of a safety pint, and without Sigmund Freud‘s help I’m supposed to let go all the things that at some stage along the line would have made me, shall we say, a tad tetchy.

I may be no Tony Soprano, but try telling that to my girth. Not walking to the station in the morning, being barred from virtually all physical exercise, and the supreme boredom of having no work coming in has led me to nibble on anything within my chubby arms reach and to me becoming rather portly. My armpits have started to chafe and the soap isn’t going as far as it used to, even though I can no longer reach half of me in the shower. The kids are gonna by me Jacamo vouchers for Christmas and The Incumbent seems keen to rotate the mattress more often than usual.

The fledgeling business seems like it desperately wants to get back into it’s shell. Hours spent tickling-up the website and mailing clubs and associations have brought very little response. Well, that’s not true. I have had plenty of responses, just very little work. I’ve had several “Where did you get my email address from ??” replies. A few “Nothing I cannot do myself” answers, and lots of “Please strike me from your mailing list, we do not associate ourselves with tradesmen” emails. You’d have thought I was selling them anthrax.

In days gone by I may well have reeled off an abusive note telling them to to fvck themselves and wishing them good luck in the recession. But the now the new me simply thanks them for their time, apologises for disrupting their mailbox and promises to delete them from any further mailouts I may or may not do.

There was one bloke, the Chairman or Chief Poohbar of the Lions of Warrington or Wilmington or Wigan or somewhere who wrote to me in such an insulting and supercilious manner, complaining that I had actually used his public email address to try to earn a couple of quid via his club members that I did indeed tell him to go fvck himself and enjoy the recession. But that was a one-off example. Honest.

Having told him, in between expletives, what and why I was doing what I was doing and that there was nothing either coorperate nor sinister about it, and that I was just an ailing old man striving to put food on the table for Tiny Tim and his frail mother, the man backtracked and wondered if, when my business got on it’s feet I might consider joining his association. I suspect this was a genuine re-assessment of the situation on his part, feeling embarrassed at his original high-handedness with me.

I told him to go fvck himself again. So maybe we should call it a two-off example. I don’t know why I haven’t tried a life in Sales before.

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