Is that Pounds or Guineas ?


They tell me that, at one stage yesterday, all British national newspapers were interested in buying those photos of the Prince Harry starkers. Then ever so slowly, and one after another they dropped out. A few still published them on their websites, then gradually one-by-one they pulled them from their site. They were, apparently going for 10K a set. I don’t know if that was 10k Exclusive, English Language rights only, or as a share. Seems a lot of money to spend on a set of snaps, knowing that your rivals up the street had exactly the same set of pics.

The Sun mocks-up its own           version of those photos

Maybe it was this high price which made them pull out of the deal. Maybe it was the risk of upsetting Lord Leveson. Perhaps they didn’t want to upset The Palace or the NPA, or whoever nowadays hands out press passes to national events. We will have a couple of funerals in town coming up in the not-too-distant future, I guess, then a coronation and probably a christening or eight ? That’s a lot of monkey positions in the press pen to be giving away for the sake of a muzzy pic of some ginger pubes. Or maybe they didn’t buy the photos because they stopped and thought “Hang-on! Why don’t we respect this guy’s right to party on down. Public don’t need to see these. Stuff the pics ” ?  No, I don’t think that happened either. I do know one journal which did exactly that, but they are not in Fleet St. Anymore.

So you’re looking down the wrong end of a £10,000 deal for a set of not-very-exclusive snaps of a nude ginger bloke. Hmmm… I guess in the world of the internet, it’s rather difficult to keep anything at all exclusive. Back in the day of hard prints, analogue wires and when BBC Ceefax was the source of information 24 hours a day, it was a lot easier to find a set of exclusives.

In around 1985 I was a young freelancer selling photos generated by a very small agency to national newspapers in Fleet St. I was enjoying a beer (no, really, I was) one evening after work with a colleague when a young photographer we’d sent out a few hours earlier “to see what you can find” came and found us at the bar. He had on him a developed roll of colour transparency film which had on it various dancers/strippers, C-listers and Christopher Bigginses which a night photographing London usually threw up. Then as I got down to the end of the of the roll of film, there were two blurry frames of a bloke, who looked uncannily like Prince Andrew, walking next to a fat redhead.

A bun is awarded for anyone who can                       tell me what he was thinking of.

“Who’s that ?” I asked the snapper

“Oh that Prince Andrew and some fat redhead” (I told you it was) “I saw a royal motor outside Les Mis so I hung around to see who was in there”

These were the first photos of Prince Andrew and his latest squeeze Sarah Ferguson. They were with a Royal Bodyguard getting into a Royal Jaguar. This meant she was official. She was Andy’s “One” (if only we knew…), confirming what Buckingham Palace had been denying for weeks – that Fergie was gonna be part of the firm real soon. As odd as it must sound now, this was really big news at the time.

Being a Royalist, I immediately cut off the two frames and got a cab down to The Daily Mirror. For reasons which don’t escape me, I refused to go to Wapping and to Rupert Murdoch’s strike-bound News International (what does escape me is why I lifted that self-imposed ban to go work for those wankers later on in my career), and The Mirror was my weapon of choice.

Up to a point.

I arrived at The Mirror‘s picture desk only to find it deserted. Normally I wouldn’t care less that everyone was in “The Stab” down below (The White Hart pub, known by Mirror hacks as The Stab in the Back” – for obvious reasons), and on any other evening may have gone to join them (it was, after all, one of the reasons I wanted to be a journo in the first place) and sell them the odd snap. But this was different. I had a pic which I knew everyone would want, and I had to get it into a paper NOW. On THIS edition. I couldn’t take the risk of other photographers having captured the young couple together and selling it before I could. I certainly couldn’t wait for the Mirror Picture Desk to sober up. So I took a decision. I went off to The Daily Star.  Ooh Aah.

It wasn’t what I wanted, but I was in luck . Perhaps the Popinjay (Express Newspaper’s version of The Stab) had burnt down that night as both numbers 1&2 on the picture desk had returned from the pub, unaided, and were just about awake. I think one of them could have been mistaken for being sober. At a distance. The other, his boss (a legendary scotchman and a scotch man) could not.

“What ye got, young fella?” the boss asked.

Carefully avoiding the hot, sweet airstream of scotch & best bitter coming from his mouth, I showed him the two frames.

“It’s Andy and Sarah Ferguson at Les Miserables tonight. Our man…..”

But I could have saved my breath, for he was off. Off an a lap of honour of the newsroom. Past the news desk (yes they had one) and the foreign…erm…reporter, past the back bench, the subs and the assorted ‘tired’ journalists and cleaning staff. He skipped, he whistled, he paused to show and tell his colleagues “Look what I got, ye bastard ye”.

Once the Scot and the scotch had settled, he agreed to pay ten thousand pounds for the photo. (What Sarah Ferguson would do nowadays for £10,000 is a story for another time). It appeared on the front page the very next day. The Mirror’s Picture editor, nicknamed “Grumpy” called me, sparrows fart. ‘Why didn’t I sell the pic to him ?’ he wanted to know. ‘Because he was in the pub’, I replied. ‘Why didn’t I call him out ?’ he demanded. ‘Because he was already well and truly out‘ I said. He didn’t speak to me for months and months after that.

As far as I know, that little photo agency of ours never did get the £10k promised to it by the pissed old fart that night at The Star. He sobered up and swore blind that he’d said FIVE not ten grand. The photographer never believed me, I don’t think. It’s all true, believe me. Over the next few weeks we did get some decent money for the pic from American, Aussie and, oddly, German rags, but nothing on the scale of what The Star (should have) paid us.

I wonder if Harry’s “mate” who took the pics of his arse will ever get paid ? It’s out there now. Everyone has it, or at least has seen it. And once everyone has seen it, who will want to buy it ? If the photos had landed in my lap today, would I have flogged them ? Probably not. When I was 21 who-was-doing-what-and-how-to-whom-and-how-often seemed really interesting to me. I’d passed my “smash the state, bring down the Monarchy” phase, but was still walking around with a press ticket metaphorically stuck in the band of my trilby”.

Not now. Now I care little for that shite. Pop and celebs interest me not.  Sod The One Show, give me the World at One. I’m into Big Gussets not Big Brother. Less X-Factor, more Ex-Lax. I’d still like the money, though.

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Tee, and Drink with Jam and Bread.


The things you find out out when starting up a new business.

For instance, I found out that I’m useless with money. Honestly, I am. Apparently The Incumbent knew this years ago, but I’ve only just found it out. I think it’s dawning on my my biz partner Rob too.
I also, I found out that there is many a website out there which seeks out the newest and bestest t-shirt companies out there and are happy to tell the world about them. One of these sites is called The Tee Gazette – a fast-moving site which constantly updates its content, delivering the best that’s out there to the t-shirt-buying community (it says here) around the world. It moves so fast that by the time some of you read this, the piece you are looking for has probably disappeared already. With no more than a dozen pleading emails, the good guys at TTG (as we now know them) agreed to feature our company within its pages. Marvellous, we thought.

So Jarred, my new mate at TTG, asked for some copy to help him write a review of our site. He asked me for the company’s origins, it’s goals, aims, and philosophy. A mission statement, as it were. I was feeling in a slightly Sharp Singlish mood when I sent over the copy, and as such didn’t really expect him to use much of it.

Well what the hell do I know ? Apart from removing my trademark typos, dear dear Jarred used the bio I’d sent him word for word. You probably can’t read the copy in the pic above, so here it is below. And a big HUSSAR and BANG ON! Goes out to Jarred at TTG. He either laughed at every word, didn’t understand any of it, or neither:

The Generic Logo Company was born in a pub in London in 2011 as a result of the marriage of the frustrated brains of Mike (late 40′s, serial agnostic,) and Rob (Half-Day Closing Wednesdays) who decided against the way people were protesting.

Both had recently given up their jobs as a Moat Polisher and a Scaffolder’s Knee-Wrencher and from where they were sitting, the art of witty protest was being suffocated by single derogatory words such as “Douchebag” or “Wanker”,  which seemed the only language teenagers either used of understood. They insisted, a witty slogan, logo or image would bring the fun back into demonstrations, the like of what had not been seen since the invention of the Molotov Cocktail or the end of the Berlin Airlift. These two reluctant adults set forth to rid the world of juvenile phrases emblazoned across the world’s chests and substitute those with a more civilized approach, forever reserving the right to resort to the words “Bum” and “Fanny” should it be absolutely editorially necessary.

The duo profess to have no party-political ties, and to distrust most in elected office. If you live in the UK it’s difficult to think otherwise. Their goals for 2012 is to see the year through without deportation or incarceration, live a non-materialistic lifestyle and make shed-loads of cash.

And on the off-chance you wanna see the full review (and, of course, get your wallet out), here’s the link to the Tee Gazett page:

http://bit.ly/zMZJ3b

and their homepage

http://bit.ly/9XaN8c

 

Helps You Work, Rest and Play


It happens every so often to most of us, I suppose. I went shopping yesterday, having run out of trousers which I didn’t have to undo when I sat down. It was then I had to admit that I’d gone up a size. A year of not walking to-and-from the station, going into town, walking to work and then walking to-and-from Marks&Spencer Simply Food (this is just not any sandwich bar…) has taken it’s toll on the waistline.

Substituting endless worry and rowing with endless cups of Starbuck Latte (extra shot) and never-ending packets of Foxes Whipped Creams biscuits (Sinfully Strawberry)  has inevitably meant I’ve gone from a Grande Regular in the trouser department to a Venti Short (yes, it seems even my legs have shortened).

Yes I’ve often sat here on my Apple iMac Desk Top computer (iThink, therefore iMac) and shared with you my concerns with my weight, but this was the first tangible evidence that something has gone awry. It all came to a head, as it were, when I had a reaction to my new pills. The Docs, in their wisdom took me off Warfarin and put me onto something called Clopidogrel, which sounds more like Bill & Ben’s (BBC1, weekdays at 3.45) name for their pet spaniel than a drug, but apparently these were the pills to rid my brain of the blood clots that have been giving me all the fally-over-sicky problems.

I suffered an allergic reaction to the new course of tablets which manifested itself as a swelling. In fact several swellings. Swellings in very uncomfortable places. The only plus-side was it enabled me to use one of my very favourite one-liners on my doctor. When she (yup, she) asked me what I’d like her to do, I retorted “Take the pain away and leave the swelling”. Nothing. Not a titter.

And that’s as good as it got.

Now, when you’re starting to outgrow your jeans, and your favourite pieces of anatomy are expanding like a couple of GU After dark hot chocolate souffle  (now £2.00 @ Sainsburys ) something’s gotta give.

The chaffing was something shocking. It made sitting in my luxuriant DFS leather sofa (SALE ends Bank Hoiliday Monday)  somewhat painful. Watching your favourite shows on your Sony Bravia (Colour Like No Other) with your body held at an angle of 27 degrees in a vain attempt to easy the throbbing and the scraping from your zipper is not what I had in mind (nor indeed had The Incumbent) when we moved in together.

So, as I say, something had to happen, and three things did: New strides (size to your discretion); a return to the comfort of blood-thinning, dizziness-inducing Warfarin; and a family size tub of Sudcrem (Sooths and Protects).  Splash it all over. Or is that Brut ?

Now that things have calmed down, as it were, I return to my trawling of the news agencies and notice that the twin brains of Rio Ferdinand and Katie Price have been cleared of blatant advertising of Snickers bars on Twitter. Its the thin end of the wedge, made for financial gain and poorly disguised as genuine Tweets to their “fans” (never has the word Twits been more apt).

I suppose Rio and Katie benefited from cash payments and probably a year’s supply of Mars Inc products. There’ll be snickers coming out of Jordan’s arse, which I suspect wouldn’t be a novelty for her. Anyway, the whole practice of subliminal advertising, product placement or any breaches of the codes of the Advertising Standards Authority is surely wrong and immoral, especially when such “adverts” will be seen by the young and vulnerable.

Anyway, I’m off to drive down to town in the RAV4 (which has seen better days, to be honest) to see what I can pick up for lunch at Waitrose (Quality food, Honestly priced). It really is my favourite place and there is, of course, ample free parking.

Simples

And Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now


I think it was Nana Mouskouri who said something like “Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean the fuckers aren’t out to get you”. It’s a mantra I pretty much live my life by. Yes, I’m fully aware I am paranoid (it comes with the communist dad and the Che Guevara posters) but I also know in my heart of hearts that they are out to get me. And they’re winning.

I  woke up this morning to the news that The Halifax Building Society is to announce a rise in interest rates, pushing up the cost of mortgages for those with variable mortgages. Have a guess who I have a mortgage with ? Yes, that’s right – The Woolwich. No, not really – The Halifax Building Society. And, in the words of Jimmy Cricket, “C’mere, there’s more”:

I’ve been on a fixed-rate deal with The Halifax for several years now, getting stuffed by playing it safe with a 5% deal when the interest rates plunged. But I always kidded myself, using that phrase all us fixed-rate bods use “I always know what’s coming out of my account every month” (e.g. just about everything). My deal finished in February. I “clinched” a new, variable rate deal last week. The letter of confirmation came through yesterday.

And tomorrow they’re putting the rate up.

If you don’t think that’s bad luck, bad timing or even sinister you might like to bear in mind I have to pay something like 3 points above the normal cos I rent my house (you’ll remember Railway Cuttings) while I skulk in the potting shed, down here in the countryside. I do this, not because I’m a property developer, but because I haven’t had a job in close to 2 years. and the rent from my house is my salary. The Halifax won’t let you just rent out your house. You have to declare it and take our a landlord’s mortgage, a “Consent to Lease Agreement”. When I came to move out and rent out, I decided to play it fair and above-board and tell the Halifax. It is much more expensive than a regular mortgage they told me. Much more. I wasn’t happy.

“You do know, don’t you” I inquired of them “that I’m the only bloke I know who actually declares that they’re renting out their house? That I’m being punished for being honest ?” This fell on deaf eyes. Even as I was telling them, I imagined limos full of Halifax Henchmen descending on me to force me to spit out the names of these others who were not declaring their lease.

When my 4 year old fixed-rate ended (you can imagine what I paid on a deal taken out in pre-crash 2007), because of the higher payments demanded of an obvious property magnate like me, my monthly payment actually went up. (There’s a longer version to this story where I was informed by Dartford Branch that my payments would go down but apparentlywhoevertoldmethatwasmisinformedandyourpaymentswillactuallybegoingupMrBealingandwe’resorry-youweregiventhewronginformationandhere’s70quidtosaysorryeventhoughwedontadmittoanywrongdoingonourpart)

But we won’t go there. Cos I get angry about it.

SEVENTY QUID !!!

cvnts

So the small salary I get from my house lets me stretch to about a couple of packets of biscuits and a pint of milk each month. From tomorrow I’ll be deficient in the Bourbon department to the tune of one.

The author and one of his his little "runarounds".

Petrol has hit a new high too. Unleaded (I’m told, cos I never bother looking at the pumps any more) is now 137p or more per litre. It now costs nearly £80 to fill up The Incumbent’s motor. So we don’t bother any more. The 17yr old of the house has just passed his driving test too, so from 3 weeks ago were filling 2 motors. (and before you start, tree-huggers: Fuck Off.)

In an effort to boost (Ha!, boost) the sales of T-shirts from our fledgling Generic Logo Company, I have spent 3 weeks (yes honestly) on the phone and email trying to set up credit card payments. I’ve been regularly on to the host website called, I kid you not Mr Site, who are in Delhi or Mumbai or similar. I have also been on to some mob called Cardinal Commerce who are part of the Mastercard verification process and are in Ohio, USA. And I have been talking at length to Paypal, who are in Dublin. Whatever is supposed to be happening isn’t. Paypal blame Cardinal, blame Mr Site. I DON’T CARE. It’s probably me who has input something wrong. I JUST WANT IT WORKING. I have asked them all to pretend this is the first time I’ve ever set up a credit card verification arrangement across 3 continents and 13 time zones, and to pretend that this is what they do every day. No-one seemed to get my inference.

So we’re back to where we started and until these three titans of the business world get their collective arse in gear, T-shirts can only be bought if you have a Paypal account. I know this will come as a blow to most of you who had just fished-out your VISA or Mastercard from your handbags and were about to buy a rude tee from us, but you’ll need a Palpal account now. I know, it’s gutting.

But I’m not holding my breath. The contract on that pad in Cap Ferrat remains unsigned until the “business” actually sells anything.

So, in short, I’m skint (all of my spare cash having been invested in unsold t-shirts); petrol is at a record high and I need twice as much of it as I did before; and my mortgage costs 100 quid-a-month more than it did before Christmas.

But through all this I am considering voting Tory. Or LibDem. Or both, if I can.

I know.

Why? Well, it’s simple. Someone called Johnny Marr says he and the Smiths (and one can only presume this includes the Morrissey) will reform if the coalition steps down. According to the Guardian:

Johnny Marr has offered to reform the Smiths, on just one tiny condition: David Cameron‘s coalition government steps down. “How’s that?” he quipped at the NME awards. “I think the country’d be better off, don’t you?”

Now if that isn’t a good enough reason to support David Cameron, Gideon Osborn, Toady Clegg and this wonderful government’s fiscal policies, I don’t know what is.

Oh Brother, Why Art Thou So Bleedin’ Useless ?


How’s your home printer ? Ok is it? What is it? Dell? HP? Epsom? Canon? Brother ?? no, no of course it’s not a Brother. What sort of complete mug would buy one of those ??

Hello, my name’s Mike, pleased to meet you. I bought a Brother and I am that mug.

My tale is far from short or indeed sweet. An elderly couple contacted me and wanted me to restore an old print of theirs. They wanted a nice tear-free cleaned-up version of their photo, which they would present to a family member as a present. They brought it round for me, avoiding the dangers of Provisional Wing of the Post Office. It was a nice print, had a few tears here and then, would take a little work but would be well within my capabilities as a photo touch-up artist (quiet at the back).

There was one problem however, the print was A3 in size and my kit was A4. I could neither scan the nor print it. Bugger. No matter, my incumbent Hewlett Packard A4 printer was less than brilliant, and more than a little expensive and had been living on death row for some time now. My folks had offered to buy me one for my birthday (October 18th, cheques accepted only with a bankers card) but that was over a month away so I unilaterally decided to go out and buy an A3 printer. Well, if my fledgling business was gonna go anywhere, I needed the kit. It’d be a good investment.

Fuck me ! Have you seen the prices of printers ?

Trawling through the Amazons, the Maplins, the PcWorld sites etc it became clear to me that the Epson Hokey-Kokey 390 was the machine for me. All the reviewers gave it the thumbs-up for performance, stamina and technical merit, only letting itself down in the Dressage. Unfortunately, ever since the global economic crisis hit the world of home inkjet printers, they no longer offer 100% mortgages on the Epsom Hokey-Cokey 390. To get back the money I spent on the printer, I’d have to charge clients, £75.50 per print and work flat-out for 17 hours-a-day for 37 years. As I am averaging one £15 pound job every third winter equinox, I wasn’t looking to spend the equivalent of the Greek National Debt  just yet.

The more I looked for a suitable machine the more I realised that this printing lark was a bit bleedin toppy! If you have the spare £450 laying around (not to mention 80 quid for a drop of ink) then you’re in business. Otherwise, go back to Picture Editing, you lazy fat git. Perhaps I should wait for mumsie to stump-up the cash ? But I have this work to do and it has to be done this week. I made a phonecall:

“Hello, Snappy Snaps ?”
“Allo” a charmless young bloke answered
“I have an A3 print I need scanning in. Do you have a flatbed scanner?”
“Yeah, we can do that, mate”. Honestly, he said ‘mate’.
“Ah good. How much mate ?” I asked my hitherto unknown friend, fearing the worst.
“£10” came the reply. It took me by surprise.
“£10 ? That’s not too bad, I’m surprised” (told you I was surprised)

“Yes” he came again “£10 to scan it in, £4.99 to put it on a disc”
“Ah, so it’s really £14.99 then ?” (Is it me?)
“Wot ?” quoth he.
“Well, Manuel”  (cos that’s how it felt) “If you scan it in you’d have to scan it onto disc for me, wouldn’t you? Unless I pop up and look at in your office every now and then ? Would you email it to me?”
“No”
“Right, so fifteen quid it is then”

I left him to remove his socks and work out this latest of applied mathematics puzzles. With several other local outlets charging the same price, and NO-ONE offering same-day service, I sat back in my underpants, huffed and resumed browsing the web, with little expectation of finding the answer to my dilemma.

But wait… what’s this? Where did all these reviews come from?:

Oh Brother, you’re good!! (Ron Onions, Redditch);  How do they Do it for the Money ?!? (Mr R Saltpeter, Penge); and If You’re Going to buy a A3 all-in-one printer, this is the one!!! (Mrs D.G.W Chegwin, Salford)

These reviews were too good to be true. A cheap, brilliant printer and scanner which can do anything and everything and everything an Epsom or Canon machine can do at half the price. This had been lauded throughout the land by real, genuine satisfied customers who’s only connections with each other are their enthusiasm for Brother printers, their love of the explanation mark, and their rather doubtful and dubious surnames.

With all haste, I contacted my local PcWorld to have them reserve for me in their store one of these marvels of modern science. This they did, and so it was with  an unbridled and unfounded air of optimism that The Incumbent and I strolled into the local branch to pick up my purchase.

They didn’t have the item. Yes I know they said online they did, but they didn’t, ok? Give them a break, won’t you ? They didn’t have the printer I wanted but their sister store five miles down the road did. I would pay for the purchase here, take the box of ink (the machine comes with a small amount of ‘tester ink’, a pack of the full amount is a snip at £50, it being a Value-Pack) down to the other shop to collect the printer.

We took our pack of ink and our receipt for the Brother MFCJXYZ3470P (beware of imitations) down to the good burghers at Bluewater Shopping Centre. There, after only a 30 minute wait, we picked up the printer a soon I was zooming up the A2, on my way home, then asking the resident 20 year old student indoors how the hell this bloody machine worked.

It seemed no more than two-and-a-half hours later that the box started whirring and whizzing into action and the first print was glacially edging it’s way out the front of the black plastic box in the corner. It was everything I didn’t want: It was slow, the colours were awful, the prints grainy and out of focus. All that for just £199.00 plus VAT (not forgetting the £50+VAT pack of ink). For the following four hours I sat at the screen trying all sorts of combinations of paper, ink, dots-per-inches, inputs and outputs. I must have got through 30 quid’s worth of paper in the hope of finding the right combination and computation to ensure a half-decent image.Slowly, albeit expensively, I was getting there.

Then, like Kaiser Soze, or the Welsh hope of a Rugby World Cup victory the ink disappeared. Buzzers sounded and warning lights flashed to say the ‘tester’ ink had run out.  No matter, I’d had the foresight to buy some in the first store earlier, remember?

It was the wrong ink.

They had sold me the wrong ink. I had paid for a printer they (or I) didn’t have and some ink I didn’t need.  I sat down and popped a couple of Ramipril. Remembering what me doctor told me, I refused to get angry. I went to bed and cried.

Today, from about 9am I have been searching for the correct ink. First stop was PcWorld. They refunded me for the erroneous ink, but didn’t carry the type I required. Nor did their sister shop in Bluewater, even though they sold me the printer. Ryman’s didn’t carry what I needed either, and the girl in WHSmith had never even heard of that kind of ink. I observed she too was a stranger to the bathroom and diets.

The local computer shop carried every kind of Brother ink, just not the one I wanted. A girl at John Lewis, when called, confidently informed me that they did carry the correct pack. When we arrived at the shop a boy confidently told me that they…er…didn’t. Staples had a similar difference of opinion between themselves, before agreeing they didn’t have anything for me.

As for Brother customer services, after I’d regaled them with my tale of ink shortages, a young man wondered if I’d been printing out A3 prints on my A3 printer, thus explaining why my ink ran out so quickly. I asked him which size he recommended I print out on my A3 printer.

So here I am blogging, not printing. Ink is on order from an online source . Please don’t ask me the price, but I’ve had cheaper marriages. It won’t arrive until at least tomorrow, a day after I need it. So my one job of the month thus far will be late, and probably sub-standard. I will charge the client fifteen quid for a job that has so far cost me 300. I am millimeters away from inserting my new toy into a shop assistant in Crayford.

If you’re in Tescos and see a pack of Brother ink LC1280XL for sale, do me a favour and jog on by. Don’t buy it for me. I won’t be able to afford it anyway.

Two Long Legs and a Couple of Bouncers


I’m not sure if this girl ever found out she was being filmed by a web tv company, but if she did I bet she was pretty embarrassed about lying about her averages…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

…and those shoes would chew up the wicket. I’m starting to think she isn’t a cricket fan at all.

An Old Kentish Custom


Ah! the fresh country air. As I drew back the curtains this morning I was greeted, not as I usually am with the gentle chuff chuff chuff of Network Southeast trains struggling against the wrong sort of air, but the twittering of birdies in apple trees and the sight of a milky sun gentle rising over the rolling hills of the Garden of England.

Yes, we have finally moved offices from the urban sprawl of SE London down to the leafy lanes and rural bliss of the Kent countryside. As I write I can see in the distance two shire horses being hooked up to a farmy thing as they are prepared for a long days tilling or furrowing or ploughing or whatever shirehorses do when they’re not delivering beer.

From the field just to the left of ours I hear the sounds of countryfolk mangling their wurzles or wittling their fetlocks or somesuch. In the copse to the right I assume they are engaged in clay pigeon shooting, as I can make out two men, one crouched over something while the other shouts “pull” at regular intervals.

Wandering around the lanes last evening was such a different experience to that of a stroll around the ‘smoke’ of Blackheath: The sirens of the Black Maria have been replaced by the screech of rutting animals. Or teenagers, it’s difficult to tell. The whiff of Chicken Chilli Masala oozing from the kitchens of The Saffron Club curry house have been replaced by the subtle aromas of animal dung, crop fires and regurgitated cider and kebabs on the pavement by the horse trough outside the local pub, The Goat and Masturbator.

By way of a welcome the locals even staged an attempted murder, just to make me feel at home. I shall do my best to fit in. This morning I am off to the local tack shop to get kitted out in their best Jilly Cooper outfit (I already have the teeth) and this afternoon I start labrador lessons. This evening I may even venture up to the pub to try their mead, pork scratchings and see if I can’t start an argument about lemons.

In between all this I need to inform my various suppliers and business contacts of our change of address. I also need to redirect my mail, but as the odds of actually being able to logon to the Royal Mail website are about as good as being able to enjoy a Nick Cage movie I shall simply list it below. That, at least, will enable my two readers in Paris to send their ritual abuse to the correct address.

Single (Sharp) Media (UK) Ltd
The Potting Shed Behind the Haywain,
The West Orchard
Dartford
Kentshire.
D1C H3D
Tel: Southeast 14.

In Bed with Ingrid


I remember catching my first glimpse of Ingrid Pitt. Back in the early-70s I was given my first tv set which I’d be allowed to keep in my room. It was a black and white, 6 inch, (analogue, kids) metal-clad affair with a dirty great carrying handle on top. My parents had, after some lobbying from yours truly, bought it for Christmas one year with the express orders that, not only should I watch it every night between 9pm (beddie-byes time) until I could no longer keep my eyes open, but that I should thrash myself within an inch of my life while doing so, when appropriate. Well that’s how I remember it anyway.

It took me a good few months to realise that the tv came with a tiny earphone-jack which would enable me to watch The Sweeney, I CLAVDIVS or The Beguiled without giving the game away to my parents in the next door bedroom. I didn’t actually own any headphones, so guess what was on my Christmas list the following year ? That’s right – an England football shirt.

Back in those heady, sweaty days, there was no internet to amuse me, and no dvd players. The home video age was still several years away. You could buy video recorders but they were the size of Belgium and when played dimmed the street lights outside. So we were left to the whims of the tv executives who decided when and what we were to watch on a Tuesday night from the comfort of our three-piece suite or, in my case, under the blankets in bed. (A duvet was known in my house as a “continental quilt” and I’d have to wait a few years yet to get my bum under one.)

And it was through this tv that I became aware of Ingrid. This blonde, buxom bird who’s face (and often much more) was projected onto my little black and white screen during the hours of darkness. This woman was magnificent. This woman was gorgeous. She was sexy. And she seemed to be in every other movie that I managed to see.

I was only interested in two types of movie: War and Horror (note the distinction). War because, obviously, there was a lot of shooting of Germans to be had. Horror because at some stage during the 90 minutes you could guarantee that some victorian wench would end up starkers and screaming for her life as her blouse was ripped from her lithe, white flesh and she was ravaged by someone in an unconvincing werewolf outfit (where were those bloody  headphones ?). Anton Diffring was in all the war movies, Ingrid Pitt was in all the horrors. (They were both in Where Eagles Dare)

As I’d yet to experience any homo-erotic tendencies towards masculine, blue-eyed Germans (and I’m still waiting), my affections lay with Ingrid. Even if I couldn’t. And why not ? Look at the picture at the top of this story. It’s a studio still from Vampire Lovers – the erotic goth horror classic. Ingrid’s on the far left. How sexy is she ?? She didn’t squeak annoyingly like Madeline Smith and didn’t scare the bejesus out of me as did Kate O’Mara. No, Ingrid was the one for me. I spent those nights listening to her soft sensual Swedish voice (well, how was I supposed to know she was actually Polish?) and hoping that soon all her clothes would fall off. I never had to wait long, bless her.

So now sadly, at the age of 73, she has gone upstairs to meet up again with Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and the rest. Perhaps her and Anton Diffring will relive old times ? She might even let Richard Burton’s Broadsword finally meet her Danny Boy.

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