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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You Know Nothing, Mate


There are things you just know.

During your lifetime you pick up knowledge. Stuff that is just true and there’s no row about it. You know it’s true because, not only did mum and dad tell you, your teachers told you, the tv news told you and even Hollywood told you. Stuff like “all scousers are funny”; “all cockneys are the salt of the earth (they only slaughter their own)”; “all trombone players wear sandals”; and of course “all welshmen can sing and would never ever intend to break your neck on the rugby field because they’re nice blokes and just not like that”.

These are the sort of rules, the kind of guiding principles which allow you to steer your ship of life between the shifting sands of the Bay of Uncertainty and the hard, jagged rocks of  the inlet of Oh Fuck it’s Really Happening. It’s now 47 years since people started telling me stuff. I stopped listening to most of them some years ago. Like Homer, there’s only so much I can fit into my brain before something else gets pushed out. The ravages of age, a stroke, and a life of heavy drinking, along with the distraction of the oncoming steam train of certain Alzheimer’s  severely limits the amount of new information I can take on board. Or as Terry Pratchett might put it, I’m fucked in the ‘ead.

So imagine the confusion it causes one so fragile as me, when stuff you just know is fact turns out to be untrue, at least for the sake of selling a few books at Christmas time.

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun didn’t take their own lives, shortly after making a few dodgy videos for YouTube. Not according to the  new book Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler they didn’t. No, they fled to Argentina, aided and abetted by the Yanks in exchange for Nazi rocket scientists and the information within. According to a report in this week’s The Daily Mail (and who among us could argue with them ?) Mr& Mrs Hitler legged it through Europe and escaped across the sea to South America, presumably free to go on the piss with their chums Josef Mengele, Adolf Eichmann and countless other Nazis we let get away after 1945. The couple brought up their two kids, at some stage divorced, and Mr Hilter (as he then was) finally threw a seven in 1962 at the grand old age of 73.

The Russians claim they captured what was left of the Hitlers from a bunker in Berlin in 1945. What they apparently have are the charred remains of a early version of a McDonalds Breakfast Wrap (Another Fact: These are horrible. Keep away from them and go for the Double Sausage McMuffin.)

It’s a good job Vincent Van Gogh isn’t alive today. He’d be forced to go to Gateshead (up in the frozen North somewhere) where this year’s The Emperor’s New Clothes Prize has been moved to. Presumably Londoners have finally given up pretending that “Pile of Shite in Aspic” is art, and the organisers have decided to move to the Third World in search of new mugs to jump on the “oh-but-you-dont-understand-what-art-is” bandwagon. Howay.

The aforementioned Vincent is no longer with us, of course, having topped himself in a wheat field in 1890 in northern France.

Wrong again.

The Kirk Douglas look-a-like was shot by a couple of brothers in a dispute over a stolen pistol. We know this from the new book imaginatively entitled Van Gogh: The Life (available at all good bookshops, makes the perfect gift). In their book the two American authors trash the widely-held belief that the absinthe-riddled, ginger paintist, having reached the end of his tether with a lack of sales and Anthony Quinn’s acting, took himself off and fell on his own pallet knife. (Sadly for me they make no mention of the time Gauguin asked Vincent if he’d like another canvas. “No thanks, I’ve got one ear”  Van Gogh replied. As the book doesn’t mention this, I now know it to be true.)

The fact that he was shot by a young boy, and didn’t just succumb to the inner-demons of the mad genius that he was has not only rocked the art world, with the sky-high prices of Van Gogh’s work potentially under threat (nutcases sell for more) but worse, Don McLean is having to rewrite one of his songs.

This morning the descendents of Robert Falcon Scott‘s fateful expedition to the South Pole have joined in the campaign to diss everything I thought I knew about everything. There’s a new exhibition in town showing many images, some not seen before, by the trip’s snapper Herbert Ponting (not to be confused with the Ricky Ponting, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes) which for a century have graphically shown the anguish and despair the Brits felt by narrowingly losing out to the Norwegian group led by Roald Amundsen (who’d already seen off the plucky West Germans in the semi-final). The downhearted and disheartened Limeys finally gave up their attempt to return home and were swallowed up by the icy wilderness. Amundsen and his Scandinavians went home to a heroes welcome and a recording contract.

But wait a minute, according to the British ancestors, Scott’s men were not the least bit disappointed to lose. There was, in fact, no race to the pole. There’s was a purely scientific expedition to gain knowledge of the surrounding area for King and Country, with no-one giving a toss whether Amundsen won or not. Ponting set up the most southerly branch of Pront-a-Print, charging a farthing for a photo of the pole and pony on a tee-shirt; Captain Oates left the tent and was never seen again. He is oft quoted as saying “I am just going outside and may be some time”. The end of his sentence was lost in the chill wind. What he really said was “I am just going outside and may be some time. I’ve got all this bunting and balloons to erect for when we see the Norwegians again”. In truth, Scott should not have been played on screen by John Mills but by Norman Wisdom.

So there you have it. Hitler died in 1962, just missing out missing Ronnie Biggs. Van Gogh covered up his own murder and his relationship with young boys and, just like the retreating soldiers at Dunkirk, Scott of Antarctic had nothing to be sad about. It’s a pity they didn’t make it back because The Titanic was waiting for them just off Antarctica to take them home on her second voyage.

99 years later,  a ship was moored off the coast of Libya, waiting for President Muammar Gaddafi who was due to escape on her . However, the ever-popular Dictator would not make it on board nor never get to feel the warm embrace of his old mate Tony Blair again as he died of the multiple bullet wounds he received to the back of the head while resisting arrest.

Honestly. It’s a fact !!!