We Want a Shrubbery


…and two return tickets into town please…

ni

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The Meaning of Life on Mars


At some stage between Laura Robson‘s silver medal and the heats of the men’s Kayak at Eton, the human race landed another in a series of robots on Mars to seek the answer to a question we have all asked at some time or other: “How the Buzz Aldrin can we justify spending all that money on space exploration looking for a drop of water and an interesting pebble to take home ?”

The robot is called Curiosity, though I was disappointed that my suggestion to call it “Vulgar Extravagance” was rejected by NASA, a point thumped into me one afternoon by two men sporting sunglasses and military haircuts who turned up at my doorstep to explain things.

Let’s get it all in perspective, can we ?

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.

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Get Bach


As busy as I am, I did have the odd week the other day to do a bit of browsing on the internet. This list of bogus album titles must be 35 years old and was originally seen on the outside of Monty Python’s Instant Record Collection. Some of the jokes are dated, many of their victims are now dead. Still bleedin’ funny though.

Sheffield United Sing Noel Coward
The Luton Gynaecologists Choir
Bright Lights, Soft Music, Live Goats: Ramon & Ted
Bernard Delfont Live At The Bank Next To The London Palladium
More Songs From The Goole And District Catholic River Wideners Club
I Left My Pacemaker In San Francisco – Dr De Bakery
Scottish Airs – The Hamish Mcfart Singers
John, Paul, George And Ringo – The Davenport Brothers

It’s All Over My Friend – Earl K Vomit And The Meatabolic Processes
My Way Or Else – Frank Sinatra
It’s The Fuzz Again – P.C. Ron Spendloff
Young, Gifted, Black And Furry: Ramon & Ted
Party Time, Princess “Piano” Margaret
The Horrid Brothers Kill Anyone In Sight
Beethoven’s Punk Symphony, In B Flat – “The Stinking Bastard” (Bandages Supplied)
The Wonderful Sound Of Hip Injuries
More Hip Injuries (Painfully Yours)
The Best Of Reggae Maudling – (Rastatory Label)
The Dave Clark Five’s War Speeches
Raw Power Punk Kill Blast Throttle Destroy! – Clodagh Rotten
A Man Who Once Sold Paul Mccartney A Newspaper – Live!
Give Me The Moonlight And The Goats – Ramon And Ted
A Night In Casablanca – The Everly Sisters
An Evening With Martin Bormann (And The Trio Los Paraguayos)

The Best Of The Osmonds Teeth – Vol Xi
My Brain Hurts And Other National Front Marching Songs
Hitting Ourselves With The Little Curved Bit On The End Of The Shaving Brush – Eric And The Loonies
Monty Python’s Best Sketches Beginning With ‘R’
The Best Bits Of Rolf Harris
Teach Yourself Power
Norma Shearer Whistles Duane Eddie
Nixon’s Solid Gold Denials
When The Chickens Are Asleep – Ramon And Ted
Friday Night Is Bath Night, J.P. Gumby
When We’re Apart – The Legs
The Milkman Whistles Stockhausen – ‘A’ Milkman
My Brain Hurts – The Moron Tabernacle Choir
Together Again – Frank And Ifield
Ron Simon And Geoff Garfunkel: Live From The Tennis Club Purley
Eternally Yours – The Massed Windscale Marching Scientists
Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay Again!
Me, Myself, I, Personally, Again Vol 2 – Anthony Newley
Bang Goes Boing!
Bong Bangy Bing!
Boeing Boeing (Cast Album)

I Do It My Way – Ned Sherrin
Monty Python Tries It On Again!
Pet Smells – The Beach Boys
For Love And Goats And Chickens: Ramon And Ted
The Pick Of The Best Of Some Recently Repeated Python Hits Again
Get Bach – The Best Of The Welsh Beatles
You And The Night And The Music And The Chicken: Ramon And Ted
Tom Jones Hits Frank Sinatra While Vic Damone And Mel Torme Grab Engelbert Humperdinck, At Last
Bing Is Back
Back Is Bing!
Michael Dennison & Dulcie Gray Cycle To Land’s End
Ruling Songs And Ballads – H.M. The Queen And The Jordanaires
Accountants Work Songs
I’ve Got A Beer Glass Sticking In My Head And Other Rugby Songs
Takeover Ballads: Slater-Nazi Ltd
Rastaman – Sir Kenneth Joseph (Deleted)
Every Picture Tells A Story – Britt Eckland
Atlantic Crossing – Britt Eckland
An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down – Britt Eckland
Never A Dull Moment – Britt Eckland
Gasoline Alley – Britt Eckland
Smiler – Britt Eckland
A Night On The Town – Britt Eckland
Footloose And Fancy Free – Britt Eckland
The Beatles Chauffers Live! Running Songs And Surrendering Ballads: The Massed Bands Of The Queen’s Own Cowards (Or Some Of Them)
Frank Sinatra Live At The Senate Hearings

T’was Brillig


So now that the dust has settled, now that orders in Tennants Super and Economy Toilet roll are set to go through the roof, what does it all mean ? The answer is simple: I’m shagged if I know. Gorgeous Georgie Gideon Oswald, (sorry Osborne) Our Dave and their pet Yellow Toad have decided to transform the country into a scene from to Jabberwocky, full or peasants surfs and huge piles of shit, with a 5 groat consumption charge to enter the citadel (though the Sheriff of Bonkingham decided against extending it to the west of the castle) or maybe “Oliver Twist” where former benefit claimants hold out their bowl for some more gruel to Mr Bumble (brilliantly played by Eric Pickles) who promptly tells them to “fook off”.

Personally, I’m a tad miffed that it now seems I’m to be unemployed until I’m 66, rather than 65. Oh well, you know me: mustn’t grumble. If I were French I’d be running up and down with a flare and a megaphone, knocking kepis of coppers bonces. Being British I’ll probably put the kettle on, make a nice cup of tea and see what that nice Nick Robinson has to say. It’s fair to say this former President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, ex-national chairman of the Young Conservatives, alleged Bullingdon Club member and now BBC Political Editor has done a just frankly spiffing job selling the cuts to a watching nation. And he’s hardly burst into laughter once. Well done him. When his BBC career is over he can always get himself a job on Fox News.

But however nasty Nick spins it, there’s something rotten in Denmark Hill and throughout the kingdom. The natives are revolting. Even Boris Johnson has likened the (sorry his) government’s crackdown on housing benefits for the poorest of families to ethnic cleansing. Gideon and Dave were furious. The foie gras hit the aircon but Bonkers Bonking Boris stuck to his guns. You know you’re in trouble when the Bullingdon boys start falling out. Funny, but I thought we were all in this together ? Shooting sticks and hacking jackets at twelve paces, m’lud ?

Over in Lala Land, the guvnors at The World’s Worst Airline reckon their poor passengers are getting a rotten deal. All those security checks at the airport are putting people off. Fancy asking us to take off our shoes for inspection before boarding. Whoever heard of a shoebomber ?? They’ll be asking to check our pants and printer cartridges next ! BA boss Willie Walsh also had the onion out of his handbag over the increase to Passenger Duty. “It’s unfair to our customers” was the cry. Well maybe. You could always swallow the increase, Willie.

I’d have a little more sympathy with airlines in general, and BA in particular, if their prices weren’t so high anyway, their service so shite and their guvnor such a miserable, soulless, swindling arsehole. BA have a long proud history of unfair business practice, dirty-tricks campaigns (ah! who can forget dear old Lord King?) and fisting both customers and employees whenever and however possible.

Do you get the feeling that if Willie and Louis Walsh swapped places none of us would be any the wiser? One more complete cnut on the X Factor wouldn’t notice, and think of the fun the new BA boss would have with the cabin crew during the next round of union negotiations. We’d have to throw a bucket of water over them.

Am I sounding more miserable than usual ? Well maybe. Times are tough at the moment. My regular reader in Cheltenham will realise the pictures are coming down in Railway Cuttings as the long process of making the place habitable for others begins. Calculations and ruminations over how and how much to rent out HQ will continue all week. Walls will be painted, the garden given a tidy and that suspicious-looking patch on the wall will have to be covered up. Furnished or unfurnished is just one of many questions I need to ask myself. It’d be great just to walk out and leave everything where it is. It’s gonna be a pain shipping out all the junk one collects over a few years. If I could be arsed I’d put my dvd collection on eBay. If I could be arsed. The booze collection will come with me, what’s left of it, as will the many, many unread books on the shelves.

Once the place looks vaguely decent I’ll need to decide whether to use an estate agent or go it alone. As appalling as my business acumen is, as disorganised as I am and no matter how little I know about renting out a house I can’t bring myself to deal with estate agents. I’ve not had that much luck with them in the past. I once offered to insert a FOR SALE placard into one bloke who I caught trying to drive the sign into my lawn after I’d agreed to let him sell it for me. On another occasion fisticuffs nearly broke out over a penthouse flat in Deptford. We had differed over the description of the flat he was trying to sell me. It was somewhere between “Immaculate”, as described in his literature, and a “Shit Pit” as described by me. So I’m gonna have a go on my own and see how I get on. Lots of pals who’ve been down this route are offering help and advice, so what could possibly go wrong?

So excuse the absence of my usual joie de vivre at the moment, I’ve just got a few things on my mind. Everyone has their off-days/weeks/months and this happens to be one of mine.

Mind you, compared to Ian Holloway I’m positively brimming with hilarity. You’ll know Mr Holloway is a firm favourite around here, responsible for some of the more memorable and hilarious footy quotes of recent times. But last week during the Wayne Rooney saga, things had obviously started to get on top of the normally jovial Mr Holloway.

I hope my house doesn’t toddle-off and do what it likes. I own it !! HOW WRONG IS THAT ?????

Course of Life


To paraphrase Baldrick, I don’t have a cunning plan.

As wonderful as June was, as much football and cricket I watched, as much time I spent in the garden, burning me ol’ bald ‘ead and finally laying to rest the myth that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, the time has come to tout myself. All play and no work makes Mike a fat, poor boy. The answer is simple. I need to throw myself at the mercy of the few remaining employers out there and ask for a job. Due to current fiscal restraints, this doesn’t mean I’ll start taking journos and editors out for long liquid lunches, crossing their palms with lager in the hope they’ll drunkenly offer me work, as much as that approach appeals to me. No, I’ll be doing what everyone else ends up having to do: tickling-up the old CV and getting it out there.

Funny thing, a CV. For starters curriculum vitae is one of the few latin phrases I use in everyday speech (along with ad nauseam, et tu, Brute ? and the ever-popular Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant – though I don’t use that one as much as I used to). Curriculum Vitae, as any schoolboy knows, is the Latin phrase for “2 Sides of bullshit written on A4”, or “Résumé ” in American. It’s the document that causes more stress and strife to bored office workers than any other, and one that more office PAs have to type up for their colleagues in return for a cup of coffee and a bun from Starbucks at lunchtime. Statistics prove that in any one working day, 20% of newspaper workers are working on their CV. The other 80% are fiddling their expenses (one for our older readers, there).

I’ve never been one for lying about myself (on a CV anyway). The way I look at it, if I go for a job in the Commandos and my CV says I’ve been a helicopter pilot, a Navy Seal and a Ghurka, I’m likely to get found out sooner rather than later, especially when on my first mission I start crying cos I’m afraid of flying, can’t swim and faint at the sight of blood (especially my own). No, I think the trick is to be completely honest in everything you write down, just leave out all the stuff you don’t want people to find out about.

For instance, I might put down that I picture-edited the definitive newspaper pull-out on the life of Diana, Princess of Wales on the morning after her death, but may leave out the day I stuck in a photo of a Harrow schoolboy for a story lauding the young men of Eton (oh how my Editor laughed when the Headmasters of both Eton and Harrow called up to complain). On the other hand I will mention with pride last year’s Beatles supplements for which I researched and picture edited for The Times. Using many rare or unseen images of Paul, George, Ringo and the other one, these books are real collectors items. They looked fantastic and I was very happy to have worked on them and boasted the same to anyone still awake in the pub. Then again, my contribution to the same publication’s 30 Best Summer Salads will go with me to my grave.

As you get older, you find the other problem is to judge how far back in time you go. Nowadays I don’t list my education or ‘qualifications gained’. I see no possible advantage in bringing up old wounds, or taking the blame at the age of 45 for what I didn’t do at 19. No, let us not dwell on such matters. However, my first real job was at a photographic studio and agency, who’s chief photographer regularly shot Page 3 Girls and Starbirds. Oh how I hated the days I studio-assisted for him. If you’re ever 19 again, offered a similar job in a photo studio, and where you’re in charge of light meters and ice-cubes, grab it with both hands (I know I did). It was often difficult to know where to look. The first words Samantha Fox ever said to me were “Oi ! Stop looking at my fanny!”. We were on a nude shoot for a German magaine. I was quite hurt. As I’d seen every other bit of her in the British press, but never seen her nude, what was I supposed to look at ?

But the question is, although this first flash and exposure to photography obviously aroused my interest (quiet at the back !) in photography, is it relevant to my next post ? Probably not, unless I get very lucky. I had to leave that job in the end as, apart from anything else, I was going a funny shape. The beginnings of the deterioration of my eyesight can be traced back to those three-and-a-half happy years with one hand on the light meter and the other on my ha’penny.

Apart from “Professional Experience”, there’s also the section at the end of a CV which comes with the heading “Outside Interests” . Over the years I’ve realised, having had hundreds of them submitted to me, this is the part of the CV which can reveal all about the candidate, the way of separating the ‘possibles’ from the ‘improbables’.
I once advertised a vacancy on a picture desk, I needed a junior researcher with a little bit of spark and nous. One applicant, having listed her places of work, qualifications gained (cow) and universities (plural) attended listed her ‘Hobbies and Interests’ as: “Taking and developing photographs; going to photo galleries; reading photographic books”.

NO !

I put it to you, that she was either a consummate bullshit artist, or the world’s dullest woman (and I’ve known a few). Possibly both. Why would you do that ? I don’t want to work in a photographic office where the only conversation is “Ooh did you see that documentary on Diane Arbus last night ?”
“No, I was at the Tate for the exhibition of contemporary Slovakian Romany black and white photography”
“Were you ? I wanted to see that, but my Rolleiflex is on the fritz and I had to get it repaired before the deadline to World Press Photo expires”
I tell you, it can get that exciting, I’ve heard them.

Wouldn’t you want to give the impression to your prospective employer that you’re a well-rounded, multi-faceted individual ? Someone who’ll bring a little bit of colour into the office ? Someone WHO HAS A LIFE ??? When I get to this part of the form I’m always tempted to copy Monty Python and list my interests as “golf, masturbation and strangling animals” just to see if anyone actually reads this far down. I know I do, and if I ever saw that sort of entry I would hire that person on the spot, but I suspect most just read the headlines at the top. I haven’t got the balls to test out this theory, of course. I shall probably be pretty vague and put down “Sport, movies and entertaining”. They don’t need to know what I really in my spare time, do they ?

So here I go. A day at my Mac, trying to remember what I did and when, avoiding professional disasters, bigging-up meself, as we like to say down these parts, and spreading the word that I’m back on the market, you lucky, lucky people. And hurry up with those job offers, I’m skint. Carpe Diem !

Now, here’s the job for me ! Who can I put down for a reference ?

Pity it’s in Wales.

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And Where Were The Germans?


Oh for Christ’s sake ! When is this competition gonna liven up ? They’re doing it on purpose, you know. The only sodding World Cup since 1974 that I have any chance of seeing most of, and it’s been a mixture of dullness, mediocrity and monotony. I mean, did you watch Portugal vrs The Ivory Coast? It had everything I love about soccer: Millionaire show-ponies, falling over, feigning injury and trying to cheat their way to a victory. In the end they cheated their way into a 0-0 draw. Anyway, when Drogba and Ronaldo are on the pitch, what did I really expect? Fair play?? Well, actually I did think I was in for at least a goal. Or at least an attempt on goal. Nope, all I watched was some poor ref trying to keep the lid on a particularly niggly, nasty little affair as they pulled shirts, flicked heels and rolled around like they’d been shot. Boo! You’re rubbish ! Get off !!

The more I see of these matches the less painfully woeful Eng vrs USA seems (or is that the beer talking again ?). Brazil have just taken the field against North Korea and one can only hope for either a) Brazil win by a cricket score or b) N Korea nick a shock point, or even better a win. Some hope. Brazil will probably get a last minute penalty and come out 1-0 winners. GOD this is dull. I can’t quite believe that the only side that look like they’re worth watching is The Germans (though, as I write, N Korea look like they want some).I never thought I’d write this, but Germany looked slick, fast and exciting. THE GERMANS!!!! Mind you, they were playing The Strines, who having won the toss and elected to bat, then realised,half way through the second half that they were in fact playing footy, not cricket. By the time the back four had taken their pads off it was too late. They were all out, and were lucky not to asked to follow-on.

I digress (and The North Koreans are getting better and better -32 mins gone)

I thank the gods at Virgin Media for ESPN Classic who all fortnight have been showing classic World Cup encounters from year gone by. This morning’s was 1982 Brazil vrs Italy. remember that one ? Paulo Rossi hat-trick? Zico, Falcao, Socrates? Huge beards and or haircuts, shorts cutting them in half? You must remember ! Earlier I’d watched a recent interview with Socrates who’s still alive, though you’d hardly know it to look at him. I was reminded that the Brazil Captain from that 1982 tournament smoked 40 cigarettes-a-day back then, and by the look of him, he smoked most of them though his eyes.

Ever a thinking footballer, Socrates is now a doctor of both medicine and philosophy. I can’t imagine Wayne, Christiano or Kaka following in his footsteps, or maybe they will. I neither know or care. All I care about is England look dull/crap (delete where or if applicable), Germany look exciting and talented, and to cap it all, Der Kaiser Beckenbauer has been on air telling anyone who cares to listen that English football is going backwards. And he maybe right. Can you imagine this English lot being level at 0-0 with these current Brazilians at half time, as North Korea are ? No, nor can I.

Beckenbauer. Fucking Beckenbauer! Of course he’s right, but he can still fuck off. I was racking my brain to think of an example when a German team was dull, one-paced and were drubbed. I can ‘t bring myself to watch 1966 yet again, and the Berlin 1-5 debacle is too funny to watch at my time of life. But finally, I found one. And it’ll probably be the best match I watch all week.

And it has Socrates in it too. Just not that one.

Kevin Philips Bong


Oh fuck it! I wasn’t going to, but why not ? Haven’t watched it for a while, it doesn’t do any harm, and certainly no more silly (or even slightly silly) than the BBC coverage. Fuck me! They’ve just had Sir Ben Kingsley standing next to Bruce Forsyth in an interview about the exit poll !! Jesus H Christ. So glad the BBC isn’t dumbing down ! (apologies for all the exclamation marks) (!)

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