Londoners Hit by Banana Shortage

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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.

Being Screwed in ‘C’ Wing (Read All About It)


It’s probably worth reminding ourselves that the reason there are eight News of The World employees facing charges over phone hacking is that they were shopped, grassed-up or exposed by other journalists. Proper journalists. Not coppers (bent or otherwise) nor Politicians (ditto), or members of the general public, but journalists. This bunch of whistle-blowers happen to have come from The Gaurdian, but they could have come from any number of sources. Because, just as everyone at The Screws wasn’t a crook, then not every newspaper journalist is on the take (whatever the BBC may have you thinking). Not every Grauniad hack will be as white as the driven snow, and there may have been other reasons for exposing the Wapping scandal other than good, honest investigative journalism, but let us not forget that the industry shopped itself, Westminster please note.

You can extend this thought to the fact that it wasn’t only Wapping hacks that were up to no good – just that they are the first to get pinched for it. The reader might like to note that this week PC Plod revealed that two Prison officers had received payments totalling over £50,000 from The Daily Mirror and Daily Star. As mentioned here before, the shredding machines all over Fleet St have been doing overtime whilst the Inspector’s time is taken up with Murdoch titles. Only time will tell if, by the time Sue Akers and her Mukkers get to “M for Mail” or “P for People” in Glenn Mulcaire‘s address book, the evidence has somehow vanished (like an old oak table).

The conversations may well get interesting as the assorted journos in HMP-issue uniforms are locked up for the night by the very people they were throwing cash at for info about their celebrity/muslim/titillating inmates. Retribution may ensue. The News of the Screws has never been a more appropriate nickname for their paper, in so many ways.

I can’t help thinking public would never have given a toss if the enquiry had merely  revealed that the papers had been listening into the phone messages of Elton John or George Michael, going through Hugh Grant’s bins or Jordan’s drawers. That is, after all, why the average knuckle-dragger buys The Sun and The N.O.W- for the gossip stuff that they always seem to get. Fuck actors and sportsmen and singers and the like. They’re not real people. They forfeited their right to privacy the minute they…er…became good at their job (something, thankfully of which I have never been accused).

But to hack into the phone of a little blonde girl who is a possible murder victim ???? Disgusting ! It is a mark of the country’s appetite, class and taste that had the victim not been a little girl, then not only would this intrusion not have registered with the moral code of Joe Public, but the original story would never have made the front pages of the tabloids in the first place. But sadly for Milly Dowler, and latterly Andy Coulson this was not the case. The girl was just the sort of target which his papers and readers salivate about, and the whole sorry saga was somewhat inevitable.

I’ve never bought into the Kelvin McKenzie argument that “papers only print this stuff because that’s what the readers want” but I’m prepared to make an exception in this case. It’d be nice to think that the avid Screws reader realises his own part in this sorry and sordid affair. Nice to think he would, but unlikely to be true, as The Sun on Sunday‘s figures still show. More tits, more bums, more shite, more readers.
Thank god Madeleine McCann wasn’t a 6 ft tall hod carrier from Bridgend – you’d have never heard of the case. News International likes promoting these cases on its covers, and  Maddie’s plight has been thoroughly reported over the years, none more so than by The Screws. The family felt this would do their cause some good, giving them some hope and support to find their little girl. Right up until the paper published mum’s personal diaries for the Editors and the average Wayne and Waynetta to dribble over.

So do I feel and pity for these eight (on the understanding, of course, that they are all completely innocent until proven guilty) and the torrid time the police and prosecution will put them through ? No, not much. Maybe sorry that they’ve been singled out, when there are many, many others around that need their collars felt. But the overwhelming feeling is of relief that the industry ratted-out itself and showed others how it should be done. Just don’t talk to me about a self-regulating Press Complaints Commission. It clearly doesn’t work.

A British All-Conners Record


The Daily Telegraph writes:

Olympic beer to cost £7.23 a pint


Bars at the official Games venues will charge £4.80 for a small serving of London 2012 red wine. For visitors with an appetite for traditional British fare, a portion of cod and chips will set them back at least £8.

The London 2012 organisers, who published sample menus yesterday, claimed the prices were “more than comparable” to catering costs at other sporting events. An estimated 14 million meals will be served to spectators across 40 locations during the Games.

Paul Deighton, chief executive of London 2012, said the organisers had “gone to great lengths” to find “high quality, tasty food that celebrates the best of Britain”.

A 330ml bottle of Heineken lager at the Games will cost £4.20, making the equivalent price of a pint £7.23. This is more than double the national average price of £3.17 for a pint of beer.

Spectators will pay £2.10 for a toasted teacake, £2.30 for a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola and £2 for a cup of tea. A family of four should be able to buy food and drinks for under £40, according to London 2012. “

They say this last bit without a hint of irony. That’ll be 40 quid on top of the four £450 tickets to watch 20 minutes of the 1m synchronized ping pong. But who the fuck cares any more? We let these robbers get away with it, as we string up our flags and bunting, wave our Union Jacks and remark “ooh hasn’t that nice Mr Coe got old since he took over the games ?”. Of course he looks old. So would you if you had to lug great wads of cash home every night, under the cover of darkness.

Let’s not worry about it. Let’s light up the barbies, sing God Save the Queen for the Jubilee and give thanks that in these harsh times of mass unemployment, crime and poverty, when more and more are driven to stealing to feed themselves and their families, when the southern half of continental Europe is about to go under, we still have a time and the tact to celebrate and wave at a woman who drives around in a solid gold coach.

Let’s shout “C’mon Ingerlund” as the Ukrainian and Polish Nazi Parties beat the shite out of football fans from ethnic backgrounds (well, anyone who isn’t Ukrainian or Polish really), and all this because Michel Platini and his Uefa mafia turn a blind eye to racism and violence within football culture, just as long as he gets his big bucks (or small Euros at the time of going to press). I do not have the data on the price of Heineken beer in Kiev.

Then when a football match breaks out on the pitch and our team loses we can slaughter Roy Hodgson for picking completely wrong 11 idiots, as there were 11 other idiots waiting at home in bed with their friend’s wives, trying to take their minds off of not being selected.

Lets sit back and enjoy the liars of the world: Blair, Cameron, Murdoch (+1), Hunt, Wade, Coulson and the rest of them squirm their way around the questions which would and should bring down the lot of them. But they won’t. You know they won’t. Come the end of Leveson, and save for a couple of minor-ish victims and sacrifices like Brooks and Coulson, the Murdoch Empire, the Fleet St rags and the British Government will still be in place and will still operate in exactly the same way.

Some people moan about it and sites like the one you are reading make a fuss about all this shit now and then, but it doesn’t really do anything or matter in any way shape or form, does it? If it mattered, more than 32% of the country would get out and vote these crooks, thieves and tramps out of office. If it mattered there would be a day of action against arseholes like Andrew Lansley, Michael Gove and Nick Clegg EVERY WEEK, not just once every winter equinox.

So enjoy the next few months. Don’t trip over the maypole or the bunting this weekend; when the football arrives, cheer and clap and the local police, the UEFA officials and the TV cameras ignore the Zeig Heil chants and the Nazi Salutes; smirk and laugh as one-by-one cabinet minister after cabinet minister lies his way out of court; stand and salute and sympathize with the judge trying to get to the bottom of this really sordid scandal, only to be left with the head of the odd PM spin doctor, or Eton old boy to show for it;

Wash that MacDonald’s Olympic burger down with your pint of Heineken. That’ll be well worth fifteen quid of anyone’s money. But not mine. I shall be spending the odd £2.60 on a pint in The Shovel then nip across the road to the chip shop, or maybe the kebab house where I can pick up a large meal for the price of a 330ml bottle of imported Olympic lager. Then I’ll nip home to see if there’s any cricket on to watch. There’s no telly in The Shovel, so it’ll be cans of Guinness on the sofa, in front of the box for me. So keep your over-priced games, your over-hyped jubilee, and your über-alles Championship.
I’ll keep my kebab and a pint. You have your Red-White-and-Blue season. I’ll be happy with my Doner Summer.

 

What Goes Around Comes Around. But Only Time Will Tell.


It’s been a roller coaster ride, an accident waiting to happen, in some cases it’s been every mother’s nightmare and lots of other clichés which journalists resort to when they can think of nothing original to write.

It seems as if the worm has turned (there’s another one) and this morning feels like the dawning of a new era (ahem). You know something of biblical proportions (ding!) has happened when The Sunday Times calls for a United States of Europe and a single currency as the only way of getting out of the mess we’re  in, thanks to Greekenomics (ping!). Honestly, yes they are. Don’t believe me ? I would say look it up online, but, of course, News International websites require a subscription. Of course they do. Do you really think you could get quality journalism like that for free? No, pop up to your local Tesco express (there’ll be one at the top of the road, I assure you) and pick yourself up a copy (for our younger readers, it looks like several dozen sheets of paper with words and photos printed on them, stacked together and folded in half, vaguely resembling one of those old book thingies. It’ll have the words The Sunday Times written on the front. And they’ll be a lot of unsold ones laying in a pile next to a similar but much smaller pile of something called The Mail on Sunday. Such is the country we live in).

When a Rupert Murdoch title starts eschewing the virtues of a single, fiscal, federal country called :”Europe” as the only way out of the mire you know two things: 1) Some big shit is about to go down and; 2) That is the view of the Sunday Times Editor and his alone and it in no way relates to any view the proprietor may or may not hold.

These ideas would, before now, be a red reg to a bull (beep!) to any right-wing eurosceptic worth his salt. The fact that The Sunday Times is the standard-bearer for your local right-wing eurosceptic makes this all the more worrying. Somehow, somewhere (probably in downtown Athens), something has hit the air-conditioning system and the resulting spray of faeces is landing in the eyes of anyone within a time zone or three.

This call for one, enormous, unified country suggests, of course that it will include every man woman, child and state in Europe, except, of course The UK and our old friends, the former owners of the Elgin Marbles. We surely will be outside the tent, pissing in (bong!), but the rest of continental Europe will be inside pissing out. And all over us. As befits our standing as the awkward bastards of the continent, we will be left with only the USA and Greece to trade with. I hope you like Retsina with your hamburger, cos that’s all there is.
( I was going to write that the Greeks do a nice line in eternal flames, but as the Olympic flame went out as soon as the British delegation arrived recently – no symbolism there – I shan’t)

But I didn’t pick up this change of tack (woop!) by reading the Sunday Times (the restraining order put in place by my doctor – banning me coming within a quarter-mile of a News International title – is still in force), no, no, no. This point of view was first put to me by Mr A Heckler (you will have read some of his nasty little comments on these very pages) while we were en route (ahooowhar) to a rugby match in Twickenham yesterday. While the rest of the passengers in our train carriage were discussing the probable outcome of the match between Ulster and Leinster (no, nor did I until recently), the big man and I were chatting about the state of the markets, economic policy and the collapse of the Euro. God! we’re a fascinating couple to be around, I can tell you.

And such was the vigour and enthusiasm with which we put across our views that we both found ourselves rather thirsty and, as soon as the train stopped at Twickers, we rushed to a nearby hostelry.

(Excuse me for diverting form the subject, but I have just had to pause to switch off the TV. Nicky Campbell‘s Sunday morning program has just started. I mis-heard his opening lines of the show when he said “Is there a difference between a cult and a religion?”. I immediately shouted to myself “Yes there is. One is worshiped in a church and the other is a failed DJ who has a sunday morning program.” It’s ok. TV’s off now. I am back).

…and relax…

Now, what I should have said to the barman was, clearly “Two pints of expensive watery Guinness please, and could you pour them into really flimsy plastic beakers for me, mate?” But not having been in this situation too often as of late, I merely said “Two pints of Guinness, mate,please”. At the drop of a hat (bingbong!), or at least far too quickly to have poured fresh, stout, our man returned with the legend “Ten Pounds, please, mate”. Almost immediately I calculated that him charging me £10 for two pints meant that they were charging £5-a-pint for one. My life passed before me, (whohoo!) I couldn’t believe my ears,(cha-ching) and the ground opened up before me (peep!).

I used what will doubtless becoming a cliché of my own: “£5 for a pint ? You robbing f*cker!”. A pal in the bar checked: A pint of Guinness (before half of Ireland arrived in town for the match) cost £3.80 in this pub. Now you might think that was a big enough markup for any pub. Clearly not. (For the record the pun was The Tup, Twickenham (pictured). Be my guest and boycott these robbing bastards. I’m sure the other boozers in town did/do the same, but this was the one I was in. W*nkers.)

All day I never worked out which fans were supporting Leinster, and who were cheering for Ulster (though the replica strips the all wore could have given me a visual clue, I guess). In the stadium, one half shouted “Leinster, Leinster, Leinster,” while the rest simultaneously wailed “Ulster, Ulster,Ulster”. The result was a constant “Leulster, Leulster, Leulster” bellowed by 85,000 passionate Irishmen. Leulster may or may not be another in a long line of Irish counties I’ve never heard of, but boy, the mob we watched yesterday can sure play rugby. And they sure can drink.

I don’t know what they would have shouted when a barman charged them £5 for a pint of Guinness, and I don’t know how many Euros that converts to, but I suspect the language was blue, either in English or Gaelic. In a final act of stupidity/arrogance/sebcoeism (and you’ll read that word again here until I make it my own cliché), these 80-odd-thousand thirsty Irishmen couldn’t get a pint of Guinness in the stadium because the competition was sponsored by and named after a rival beer. Pathetic, ain’t it ?

Business is business, but if that isn’t a missed opportunity in-the-name-of competition, I don’t know what is. In the end, the bar I was queuing at even run out of the eponymous lager. In the world’s most expensive capital, we hike up our beer to glean 100s of percents in markup, then we deprive 85,000 thirsty Irish rugby fans, not only the opportunity to spend a week’s wages on one of our pints, but we also run out of the alternative too. Well done. Very well, done. Brought to you my the country that organised the ticketing for the Olympics.

It’s no wonder no-one in Europe cares if we’re inside or outside their tent.

These are my pearls of wisdom for today. The writing is on the wall. (Babumtischhh!)


Who Do You think You’re Kidding?


Things are definitely changing around here, and some of them not for the best.

I took off this morning on another one of what my doctor, Mr Lansley, calls “life-extending promenades” this morning. I know he means well but I’m not sure Dr Lansley understands just how far “a half hour’s walk” is. Or, come to that, if he understands anything at all about my health. Anyway, the novelty of the yomp to the post office is wearing off already so today I decide to turn the other way into the village itself. This way is a little more interesting as I pass by or through all the hustle and bustle which country life can offer.

I therefore reach the top of the lane and turn left this time, past the school with its newly installed metal detector and courtesy black maria which the children seem to find very interesting indeed. I stand to watch several of them playing a game of Hopscotch (or HopCaledonian as they are told to call it nowadays) through and around the metal detector. I started to reminisce about my time at the school and all the lovely knife-free years I enjoyed there, before I am awakened from my daydream and shooed away by a man pointing a Taser and wearing a flak jacket in school colours. I am a mixture of embarrassed and annoyed, but in any case shuffle off in the direction of the newsagent’s and the football fields beyond.

I no longer use this newsagent. I spent years gleaning from it all the info about the outside world I could. It was a lovely sight. A lovely big sign outside reading “The Village News” above the window was flanked by smaller ones of a bygone day: The News Of the World, News Shopper and even Horse&Hound were all represented in enamel signs down the sides of the shop. Proudly and efficiently run by old Mr Turnbull and his younger wife Susanna, it was a constant source of news, gossip and entertainment.

Sadly, as in everything nowadays, the shop has had a makeover, renamed itself “T’News of T’Village” and is daubed with posters for the Yorkshire Post, Salford Sentinel, and Whippet Magazine. The shop window has been widened, the counter brought closer to the door, and there’s even a space in the background for customers to enjoy a cappuccino or a flat white, run by the serial liar Mrs Kirkwood. (Amazing they haven’t pensioned her off yet.) The company has brought in a whole new staff to help out old Bill. I went in there one Sunday afternoon and found Jack Duckworth and Seth Armstrong serving. I had not a clue what they were on about and left sharply, never to return.

Mr Turnbull takes to the streets to sell the riveting Tameside Express

For your information I now pop along to Mr Humphrys who runs the paper stand on the corner. He doesn’t carry any of the tabloids or the magazines, and is only interested in the broadsheets, but at least I can understand what he’s talking about. And he and his friend Mr Naughtie (“Naughty Naughtie”, my mum calls him) do have a laugh when one of them accidentally mispronounces Mr Jeremy Hunt‘s name.  The only alternative place to get my news from is Holmes’– the convenience store in the high street. But I fear that if the manager, Eamonn, doesn’t stop tucking into the pasties (“well, no-one else is buying them any more”) they’ll be no room for anyone to get into the shop to buy anything. Fat eejit, so ye are.

As I passed them, Old Bill had young Charlie helping him pile up sandbags outside the door of the shop. They looked very sad. Mrs Kirkwood had her sunglasses on, so I knew it was about to rain. I put up my brolly, upped the pace to a stroll and continued up the path.

The school football pitches lay silent, save for the rustling of Ginsters Dwarf packets being blown about in the goal netting, and old Mr Fry, the omnipresent caretaker re-marking out the lines with his trusty, squeaky wheely machine. I’m sure that’s not what it’s called and that Mr Fry would take the time to tell me, at length, what its real name is, but I intentionally don’t catch his eye. I’m getting bored of him telling me everything about everything. It seems like he’s everywhere I go. And he keeps asking me to follow him. It’s creepy, I reckon. Why he doesn’t find himself a nice wife I’ll never know.

A small boy is told that Mr Moon is unable to play at the village concert.

Much excitement was to be had, apparently, up at these pitches at the weekend as two of the immigrant boys did frightfully well in their respective soccer matches. Young Fernando scored three goals. IN ONE MATCH. Putting to bed the fear had by his new PE master, Signor Baldio, that the boy needed to be fitted with calipers to sort his legs and feet out.

Over on another pitch, little Adolf Suarez also scored three times, even though parents were assured at christmas that he was to be expelled for calling some of the other boys “Schwartzers”.  His coach, Mr Kenneth Gorbals (pronounced Goebbels), sadly now blind in both eyes, did offer something by way of excuse, but no-one understood him. And on Pitch 3 John the School Bully amazed everyone by staying on the pitch for the whole of the match, and without abusing or maiming anyone. He got rather excited when he scored a goal, but his dad rushed on to the field of play and administered some pills, which he’d secreted in a little baggie down his sock. After the match ‘Bully’ was seen talking to the nurse, Mrs Bridge who seemed to be backing in to him. A lot.

It’s sad to think that in a matter of weeks the pitches and the ancient trees that surround them will be dug up and tarmacked over for use as an Olympic car park. Oh well, we all have to do our bit, I suppose. What’s hundreds of years of history and a few old Oaks when compared to ensuring the success of a corporate carve-up sports tournament ?

The Terry family takes on the Suarezes in a friendly kick about on Sunday morning.

The school’s newly-appointed Temporary Chief Coach, Mr W.O.T. Wovers (Cantab) said that he was “wery happy with all the boys he’d seen in twaining” and that he was confident in their ability to do well in the tournament this summer “especially against fwance and the Ukwaine”.

On the far side of the football pitches I could see the SBS training in the village pond. Their activity was only hampered by having to steer their boats around the Astute-class nuclear submarine which the Royal Navy have parked, sorry moored in our pond, much to the annoyance of both the ducks and the local flasher.  Sadly, since the local ARP warden, Mr Johnson, announced that our village was a prime Al Qaeda target this summer, the whole place has been a hive of activity, with varying degrees of success and popularity.

The site for the gun emplacement – originally destined to be on top of the Conservative Club – has been moved (thank the Lord) and will stand proudly, perched on top of the ICU building at the local Hospital. Mr Johnson tells us that, not only will this deter the “Mad Raghead Mullahs” from bombing our NHS hospital, but it will ensure the general security and safety of all those waiting hours in corridors to be seen by the woefully short-handed staff”. I can certainly see that no right-minded burglar would want to break into the hospital now.

A crack team of nurses abandon their posts at the gun emplacement as they
remember they’ve left an elderly patient alone with young Dr Shipman

As I turned for home, I paused for a moment and removed my cap as a funeral cortege passed by. They were burying old Mrs Blears who died suddenly and horribly in a freak razor-wire accident. She was wrapping the aforementioned wire around her chimney in an effort to dissuade the Taliban from mounting an attack on her home, when she slipped and fell through the wire to the ground. Only the wire catching her across the neck and in her mop of lovely ginger hair saved her fall. Sadly she died from the injuries sustained. Had she been rescued in time she may have lived. Apparently she hung there for four weeks before anyone noticed she’d gone. One neighbour said “I’m so relieved she’s dead: I thought I’d gone deaf”. Another was quoted as saying “Let’s just remember what she did for us and for herself and enjoy the peace and silence now she’s gone”.

I buy my paper from Mr Humphry’s I see that they’ve decided to allow drug users to represent the village in the summer sports day. That’s good. It’ll give School Bully something to do in the closed season. I did see his dad and Mr Chambers having a good old chin-wag earlier (which is strange, given Mr Chambers’ colour), but I’m sure whatever was said could be easily taken out of context.

Ok, gotta go now. Have to buy one of Mr Coe’s lottery tickets for a place in the Air Raid shelter. S’funny, I always thought there’d be a place for all of us in the shelter when the time finally came, given all the taxes we’ve paid over the years and how long we’ve lived here. Not to mention that many of us had to move out of home to allow Mr Coe to build that big bunker of his. But apparently some seats have to be reserved for special friends of Mr Coe, and their friends and their families. Which is only right, I suppose.

Jobs for the Boys and Girls.


I’ve had a few decent jobs. I’ve had a couple of bloody awful ones too. I spent a good deal of my working life at The Telegraph; then a decent amount of time in London at TIME Magazine. I spent only a few months in the employ of Rupert Murdoch, but I don’t think he misses me. He’s probably got plenty on his plate to worry about at the moment anyway. Mr Dacre doesn’t lay awake at night wondering why I only did a couple of weeks freelancing on his Daily Mail. At least I assume he doesn’t. How much time Alexander Lebedev spends wishing I was still at The Independent, only he knows. When he gets too depressed about it, he goes off and punches someone, I hear. Robert Maxwell fell off his boat before I got the chance of working for him. Pity.

So you’d think that the constant moaning and whingeing from her father might have put a young Bealing off of journalism, wouldn’t you ? Well apparently not.

If you click on the picture above you’ll see an interview with former Tory politician Ann Widdecombe, the first raft of questions being asked by my eldest daughter Lucy (bottom right hand corner of this photo) . The more observant of you will notice Lucy keeps here questions to Ann’s role in Strictly Come Dancing rather than tackle her on political issues. It’s probably for the best: Her dad, whereas he would have struggled to come up with anything coherent or relevant to ask about Strictly, would have ended up on an assault charge should he ever have had to ask Widdecombe about her “struggle against Socialism”. Probably why her dad ended up as a picture editor, rather than an interviewer. You’ll also note that Lu speaks the Queen’s English unlike her father. Another advantage she has over me.

So that’s my eldest sorted out for the future, but the job market is a precarious one. My current job of “Watching Columbo and Printing T-Shirts” is one of my favourite jobs I’ve had, it just doesn’t pay anything like I thought it might. Almost the opposite in fact. On the other hand, I’m working at a place I like (home) with people I like (my mate Rob) and the hours are pretty good.

It could be worse, I could be Andrew Strauss who’s looking particularly precarious in his job as England cricket captain, his team having lost its fourth test match in a row. There’s no disgrace losing in Sri Lanka. The conditions are brutally hot and the pitches are so different from those in England that you’d need to be a particular talent to pull off a win, especially in Galle which has the reputation of being a graveyard for English players, and in particular English bowlers.

Bealing leads off The Fleet St Exiles having taken 6-22, taking them to a
3 wickets victory against the Sri Lankan Airways XI, Galle, Sri Lanka 2005

Then again some people are luckier than others. My good mate Dave has finally ended his long wait for a permanent job by landing a plumb one on a magazine. It’s been a long wait for him and I was thrilled when he called to tell me he’s landed it. Well done, Wavey ! Then there’s rugby’s Stuart Lancaster who has just been given the job which everyone in the country (57 Old Farts aside) thought he should have been given weeks ago. The new English Rugby Coach has fought off seemingly nearly every other coach in the world for the job before the old Twats of Twickenham finally run out of South Africans to turn them down. The RFU were forced to give the job to Lancaster, something they should have done when it was clear he a) knew how to coach a rugby team and b) had no time for show ponies. Celebrity coach he ain’t. And thank fuck for that.

Andy Robinson keeps his job. Yes, really. The Scotland coach had presided over a team which last won a match in black&white but somehow managed to convice the SRFU that he’s the one for the post. Can there be another man in the country (and yes, we can still count Scotland in that) who’s luckier to be still employed ? No, not if you don’t count Francis Maude there isn’t.

The Idiot Saville Row Tory Cabinet Office Minister Maude emplored drivers to fill up their Jerrycans with petrol and prepare for fuel shortages due to the tanker driver’s strike and that “there are lives at stake”. Once people had Googled what a Jerrycan was (apparently not everyone’s obsessed by WWII like me), checked that there is no strike (and won’t be one for at least a fortnight, and even then, probably not) and that the tanker drivers weren’t using Mad Max II technology to threaten people’s lives and protect the remaining gasoline, everyone assumed Maude would be taken round the back by Dave and Gideon and pummeled to death with his own Jerrycan. Sadly not.

“Half a tank of unleaded and 3 lucky dips for tonight’s lottery, please mate.” – a scene from Mad Maude II: The Road Warrior

For starters, Dave was too busy telling us how much he loved Pasties, and about the hilarious incident when he recently bought a pasty on Leeds railway station from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. MMMMmmmmmmm….Yum Yum. Trouble is all the poor sods at the Leeds station branch of the West London Pasty Company lost their jobs in 2007. So all that justification by Dave, all that gettin dahn wiv da prols an da kidz was, ow u say,  a load of old bollocks.

Still, Dave’ll soon have some proper opposition in Parliament to point out all his mistakes, scandals, lies and wrong-doings. George Galloway is back in a job. Sadly, it’s true. The Big Brother Cat Impersonator is back in his job as an MP, this time by winning a by-election in Bradford West, a once Labour stronghold. George won by a landslide by campaigning on one issue: An anti-Afghan War campaign in the predominantly-muslim neighbourhoods of Bradford West. He even intimated earlier in the campaign he actually was a musilm (he isn’t really).

Just fancy that: A tv celebrity, however micro and annoying to you and me, campaigns in a Muslim area against a war seen by many to be anti-muslim, securing a 10,000 majority and WINNING a by-election in a previously Labour heartland. Now who could have predicted that ? Should anyone in Labour be brought to account for this humliation? Should Mr Millipede still be in his job ?

Humvees for Goalposts


Messi’s footwork part of anti-Syria conspiracy-TV

By Oliver Holmes REUTERS

BEIRUT, March 21 (Reuters) – Barcelona footballers don’t just have a slick passing game, they can also secretly indicate arms smuggling routes to Syria, a pro-government Syrian television channel claimed this week.

Without a hint of irony, Addounia TV superimposed a map of Syria on a screen [above) to show how Lionel Messi and his team-mates, representing smugglers, had kicked a ball, representing a weapons shipment, into Syria from Lebanon.

The subtle signals to rebels were transmitted when Barcelona played Real Madrid in December, said the channel, which is owned by a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad. It did not trouble viewers by revealing Barcelona’s motives for the exploit.

“First we see how the guns are brought from Lebanon,” the presenter comments as one player passes the ball. “Then they cross into Homs and give the weapons to other terrorists in Abu Kamal,” he added, referring to rebel strongholds in Syria.

Messi’s final flick indicates the successful handover of the weapons to their destination in eastern Syria, he said.

Bizarre it may be, but paranoid conspiracy theories are common coin in the deeply divided and conflict-ridden state.

Messi smuggling in AK47s to Homs. (AET)

This is not, of course, the first time vital messages were sent by strange means. There’s the famous case of The Daily Telegraph Crossword during the build-up to D-Day when all the codewords which were to be used in the invasion of France – Omaha, Utah, Neptune – started appearing as crossword answers in the daily newspaper.

Let’s not forget the time when The Manchester Grauniad published a free wall poster for your bedroom showing all of Montgomery’s tank movements in the run up to El Alamein, The Daily Express front page on the morning of 9/11 read “Does Flying United Airlines Give You Cancer?” and Charlton Athletic’s tactics were so close to the attck formations of  Mussolini’s Republican Guard that Churchill considered disbanding the club. Don’t believe me ? How dare you !

So before you poo poo the reuters story above, take a butchers at England’s crap running between the wickets next week in Sri Lanka and ask yourself: what are they trying to tell us ?

They may be trying to tell us that they don’t know what they are doing. Or maybe they are signalling to militants in Yemen ?

Or not.