The Cross-Eyed Conspirator


It’s been a long time coming, but thanks to a couple of decent orders, I have managed to gather enough cash together to take the Incumbent and myself away for a while. Very soon the beaches of southern Italy will be awash with bits of me. It’s been a few years and several stone since I Swarfega‘d my way into a pair of swimming trunks. It’s the kind of thing that could bring down the EU.

soco ad

So with just a day to go before we jet off, and thanks to the guvnor, most of our stuff has been packed away and we’re busy clearing the fridge of perishables. Today I anticipate having three fried egg sandwiches and two omelets as someone seems to have over-ordered on the egg front. With all of our nicer clothes and accessories neatly put away in suitcases, we’re wandering around the house in old or inappropriate garb. Yesterday, for example, I spent the day in a dinner jacket (which was handy because I was hungry). The Incumbent wore a morning suit so she could have the afternoon off.

Last night, while the other half took herself down to Bluewater, I took the opportunity to steal myself away down to the local for a last pint before I was pushed on to an aircraft. For the occasion I dug out from the bottom of the chest of drawers a pair of rather ill-fitting shorts (for brevity’s sake, let’s just agree that all my clothes are ill-fitting) and an early example of my ever-popular JFK T-shirt. (50 years On — available at all good stockists).

Taking a seat on a bar stool, I ordered from Glenda the usual pint of sludge and began the usual banter with the assembled old boys propping up the jump.

“Aye , Aye”, “Evening All” etc

“Working on one for you, John” I hollered at one of the gathered drinkers. He was sat on the next stool to me but I needed to shout as he was a tad mutton. John had asked if I could make a Laurel & Hardy tee for him and I was on the case. The 70 year old plasterer is rapidly becoming one of my more regular customers, him having a penchant for often wearing one my shirts while both plastering and getting plastered. I think he’s ordered four to date. And he’s paid for all of them, something of a record round here.

“Is it you that makes the T-shirts, then?” asked Colin, sat beside the aforementioned John.

“Yes, that’s me” quoth I.

Colin took a long squint at what I was wearing. JFK stared back at him through the folds in my shirt and the creases underneath my moobs. You can always tell how long Colin’s ben in the the pub by the degree at which his eyes are pointing at each other. Colin is the Ben Turpin of Dartford — especially after half a dozen pints.

Ben-Turpin-01

“Oooh I like that one” he continued. “that one of yours ?”

“Yup. In all of the colours, in all of the sizes !” I chanted happily. But answer came there none. And this was scarcely odd because it was Colin and he was on a roll.

“That’s the….the…the American President fella, aint it ?”. I’d forgotten to mention that Colin was a bit of a political animal.

“Yes, John Kennedy”, I concurred. “It’s fifty years this year that he died. You can have it in…”

I’d failed to notice that Colin hadn’t finished.

“You ought to do one with him on it, and Martin Luther King here, John Lennon here…” he was pointing to various part of his torso “…and Lady Diana there…” which apparently was somewhere around his navel.

“Diana ..?” I repeated, but it was still Colin’s turn.

“Then write ‘Assassinated’ above ’em” he announced, scrawling the imaginary headline across the top of his chest. “I’d buy one of them

“Diana..?” I repeated.

“Yeah, well, everyone knows she was killed by them.” Behind him, I noticed John roll his eyes, snort and bury is face into his pint.

“Them..?” I asked — desperately trying not to give the impression I was doubting him (a sale is, after all, a sale).

“The Government ! She slagged off the Tories on TV and I says to me mum ‘she’ll be dead in a fortnight’ and the following weekend me mum rings me up and says ‘she’s dead’ and I says ‘who’s dead’ and she says ‘Diana’s dead’ and I says ‘well fuck me I was right all along’ “.

Colin was no David Frost, but he knew a good yarn when he told one. I was loath to point out that Tony Blair was in government when Diana died was murdered.

“That’s a good point” I replied.(I’ll say anything to sell a shirt.) “I’ll have a good go at that when I get back from my holiday” I lied.

As if to confirm it to himself, Colin repeated his design to himself (and to me) several times, occasionally adding “you can put their dates below each face” and suggesting colours for the shirt.

And then he started free-forming.

“You know who they’ll get next, don’t you ?” he bellowed.

“Er….”  I dreaded to think who was next in line for Colin’s assassin’s bullet.

“Jamie Oliver !”

Two jets of Light & Bitter shot out of John’s nostrils. I bit a lump out of my tongue. In the nick of time The Incumbent arrived to rescue me. She picked me up off the floor and we made ready to leave. Colin was still in full flight, detailing what Jamie had done to incite the wrath of MI5, though my head was spinning and I couldn’t hear what his reasoning was. I should have asked why Jamie was for the chop, not Delia Smith, but we’d gone before I’d thought of it.

As we left Glenda was administering the last rights to John who had laughed himself to within an inch of an early death.

It seems I’ll have no need to finish that Stan & Ollie shirt.

jamie-oliver_2658123b

Advertisements

What Would Mr Yeatman Do ?


Church of England in crisis talks over resignations at St Paul’s Cathedral.

BREAKING NEWS:

Mr Yeatman has come out in favour of taxing bank transactions.

Di Day, 1st of June


The following article is dedicated to the sad old drunk who accosted me on a train yesterday…

Lady Diana Spencer, Diana Princess of Wales, The People’s Princess and all those other terms that come up in search engines would have been 50 today, June 1st. The fact that she never got to blow out the 50 candles on her birthday battenberg was due in part, we’re told, to some pissed-up Egyptian cabbie doing a Nico Rosberg into slab of concrete somewhere under Paris. I always thought the powers-at-be, to in some way hide their embarrassment of their small contribution to her demise,  may have declared her birthday a national holiday. Di Day ? Di and Dodi Day ? Di and Dodi Died Day ? I dunno, something fitting and duly respectful like that.

Anyway, it was just a thought.

Diana will be up there be kicking herself that she missed the last 14 years of Paul Scholes’ marvelous football career, though she’ll be happy to know that she also missed a long line of knee-high, studs-up lunges with his lethal hobnails. His stats speak for themselves:

  Apps       goals           legal tackles

Man Utd                                    466         102                    1*

England                                        66            14                    0

(*  U14 training. Apologised after)

He has also received 90 yellow cards during his premiership career and  was cautioned 32 times during European campaigns, making Ratko Mladic look like Trevor Brooking.

The no-longer fragrant Diana would doubtless be surprised that it’s taken 16 years to capture Mladic. “The Butcher of Bosnia”, as he is known,  is finally on his way to an International Criminal Court near you and will doubtless feel the wrath of the law when he’s up in front of the beak on killing-everyone charges in The Hague on Friday.

He shouldn’t worry himself too much. Last time he stood in front of a bunch of Dutchmen they rolled over in front of him like a Sri Lankan batting order in Cardiff. I trust there will be some suitably red-faced Dutch UN officials, burying their shamed heads in their Amstel when the Srebrenica story is re-told in it’s full gory detail. Short of supplying him with barrels of Grolsch wheels of mild cheese and the daily use of their enormous sisters there seems little more the Orange peacekeepers could have done to facilitate him.

Yes Diana would raise an eyebrow to what’s changed and what hasn’t while she’s been in that great Harrods Food Court in the sky. Her Father-in-law is still around (although surely not for much longer??),  Charlton Athletic are still in the third division (ditto), Sepp Blatter “The Taxidermist of Zurich” is still a crook (allegedly and forever and ever, amen) and STILL in charge of FIFA. Yes, honestly he is. No, I don’t believe it either.

Col Gaddafi is still an international pariah, although since you’ve been away, Di, he’s been our best mate for a while. Don’t ask me. Something to do with your old mate Tony and oil or something. Now he’s resumed to the status of Chief International Awkward Fucker but we can’t find him to blow him up. Send for Kate Adie, that’s what I always say (and always will).

If I was in charge of the hunt, I’d pop down to the local ATM cos I reckon he’ll need to draw some cash out soon. Gaddafi is skint. Potless. Broke. We’re told he invested in both The Royal Bank of Scotland and BP Oil and lost a fortune on Libya’s behalf in doing so. What a prat. Not since I spent my ill-earned cash on Lastminute.com shares has such an ill-advised investment been recorded (I’m still waiting for my first divvie).

Oh, apart from that time I bid for London Olympic 2012 tickets and got sod all back. Nothing. Not even the fucking egg-and-spoon race. Not a sorry, not even a thanks for trying. Not EVEN a “fuck off, peasant these are going to our corporate mates”. Which they most certainly are.

Where’re my bleedin tickets ?? I only wanted a couple to watch to the 1 yard air rifle and the beach pole vault. I wasn’t bidding for the whole fucking games? I spent all month ensuring there was enough cash in my account and then when yesterday’s deadline arrived : NOTHING. Nothing immediately happened. Nothing was immediately and swiftly taken from my bank. I’ve been robbed by someone not taking money from me. Apparently I’m up for some in the second ballot. SECOND BALLOT ?? What is this? fucking AV all of a sudden ? If I wanted a second ballot I would have voted for Nick Clegg (“The Scheister of Westminster”), which I most certainly didn’t.

So, you’re better off out of it Diana, I reckon.  Who’d want to be 50 in this miserable sodding world anyway? I’m looking down the wrong end of a half century and am in constant danger of losing my happy-go-luck demeanour.

Mind you, I suspect if you’d been around you might have sneaked a ticket or two for the Olympic 100 yards dash. I reckon you could have afforded it if there wasn’t room in the Harrods box. The Fuggin Fayed would have lent you the dosh I’m sure.

This Happy Breed


Happiness. It’s good to be happy, innit? With the country on the Fritz, the economy in freefall, your trusty black dog scratching at your bedroom door to persuade you to get up and face the world, and with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel (apart from the light of that oncoming train) it’s amazing what small Murphys we thank heaven for, what little ray of sunshine peaks through the clouds and lifts our hearts to cheer up our miserable fucking lives.

Take the recent romp and pomp up in Westminster Abbey. Now I like a wedding as much as the next bloke, though I’d much rather be an innocent bystander than active participant, of course. I can’t imagine flying across the world, or even hopping on a train for 40 minutes to go and celebrate the wedding of a couple whom I’d never met, nor ever likely to meet. But that’s what a million or so folk did last Friday. Unbelievable. I haven’t seen that many happy people in London since Robert Maxwell went for a dip off the back of his boat


Oops! Sorry, wrong one.


Tented villages appeared along the pavements in The Mall and Whitehall as people camped out overnight, overnight mark you, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the happy couple. Union flags (or is it Jacks?) were waved by small children and large Americans in front of the mass ranks of cameras as the world’s tv crews went in search of the happiest/daftest/fattest fans of the soon-to-be Duke and Duchess of Neasden South, or wherever it is.

So many smiling faces. So much glee. So much joy. The BBC’s Welsh anchor (subs please check) Huw Ewards (fablaas) led us through the streets of London like a fat Ralph McTell pointing out the who’s who and the where’s where of the unfolding events. He never did quite manage to explain who and why a bunch of guests were crammed into minibuses, or indeed who was in charge of the beer and sandwiches therein. Nor did he quite explain fully what an avenue of trees  was doing inside the Abbey but suggested it was “Catherine’s idea”. It was unclear whether Huw offered this as an explanation or an excuse. No matter, nothing could dim the crowd’s enthusiasm for anything and everything on this, the most British of Days.

Inside the Abbey, the mood was a little more reserved, but none-the-less joyous. Not that you’d know it from the faces of Charlie, Liz and Phil.T.Greek. They don’t do unbridled rapture, that lot, so you had to look for clues elsewhere. The cameras cut and panned from guest to guest, accompanied by Huw’s less-than-Dimbleby-esque commentary. The Incumbent and I settled down agog (or is it twogog) in front of the tv set to see who was wearing what and why. Ah there’s the Queen Mother and at least she looks like she’s enjoying herself.  There’s even a little tear in her eye, though I’m suprised she was allowed to bring a corgi with her….hang on…wait a minute.. that’s not the Queen Mum at all. She’s dead for starters. No, no, no…that’s Elton John. And that corgi’s her husband!

Souvenir Royal plate by Vic Reeves and Alan Parris. http://www.aylesfordpottery.co.uk/

Mrs Cameron looked like she had just popped out for a bottle of milk. The Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice pulled off the coup of out-uglying both the Duchess of Ming (she must never be queen) and Tara Palmer Tompkinson combined (there must surely be a by-law that prevents them being let out in public?).

Outside the hordes of happy little people waved and cheered and waved some more as if it was the happiest day of their lives and they didn’t want it to ever end. My feelings were different in just two ways. For me it was nearly over almost as soon as it begun. No sooner had the welsh commentator introduced the welsh Archbishop of Canterbury, the organist wound up the opening bars of Guide Me Oh thou Great Redeemer and the BBC quickly cut back to an interview with a welsh harpist, I found myself uncontrollably feeling for the off-switch. But I was headed off at the pass by The Incumbent who was finding the whole proceedings hilarious. Apart from wondering why they hadn’t gone the whole hog and held the wedding at Cardiff Arms Park, I had to agree. There was much mirth to be had, if you looked in the right places.

I may not have been smiling for any of the reasons that those bedecked in red white and blue were smiling, but the whole day had for a moment distracted me from unemployment, poverty and my general chien noir malaise. If you can’t titter at a guardsman saluting mid-air as the Queen gets out of the car via the wrong door then you are dead from the neck up.

Talking of which, at time of writing we’re still yet to see the photos of Osama Bin Laden‘s corpse. Many people out there still refuse to believe that the US military finally caught up with the Al Qaeda Laeda and are demanding proof. For others, the news of his death proved too much for them and their happiness was all-too-apparent as they jumped up and down in the streets of Washington and New York, waving the Stars and Stripes (or is it strips?), merrily singing USA! USA! USA! (words & music by George and Ira Gershwin).

Wave after wave of baseball cap-wearing college student chanted and waved for any poor cameraman unlucky enough to have been given the assignment to go film them. The waving of flags (and indeed the burning of them) seems to be a pastime especially made for the cameras. Over the years the amount of US, British, Danish, Israeli, Hamas and Iraqi flags which have been waved and/or burned for the benefit of “news” organisations is really quite staggering. If the camera hadn’t been invented the flag-and-cigarette-lighter industry would be in grave peril of collapsing altogether. As it is, there were no shortage of gleeful Americans who were happy to party like it was 1994 for the benefit of CBS, FOX or the BBC. They’ll be the same ones who will shout insults and hurl abuse at the Muslims doing similar after the inevitable Al Qaeda retaliation. Ho hum. Pass me that tin hat will you, dear?

The CIA and the Whitehouse are discussing whether the pics of Bin Laden’s mashed-up body are too gruesome for public viewing. Having seen the Royal Family in their full glory last week, I doubt if the Americans have anything to frighten us.

Be Happy.

Fuckin’ ‘Ell, It’s Liz Taylor


You’d have thought that spending a life in the public eye for being a master in your chosen field would warrant you a few well-chosen lines in the national papers’ obituary columns when it came your turn to snuff it. But the Law of Sod often has one last laugh at your expense by somehow arranging to kill-off another celebrity and thus depriving you of the plaudits your time on Earth deserved.

Thus when Mother Teresa of Calcutta threw a seven, she had the misfortune to throw it during the official month of mourning afforded to that other living saint, Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of the People’s Hearts and unofficial Patron of the English Rugby Team. Old Ma Treesa didn’t get a look in. The world is only geared up to mourn one deity at a time and the aged nun missed out by a short head.

When the brilliant Ian Carmichael finally curled up his tootsies, you’d have thought he who brought us the celluloid embodiment of Bertie Wooster, who starred in the Trade Union-bashing I’m All Right Jack and thrilled us in School for Scoundrels (the funny one, not the 2006 version starring Billy Bob Thornton) would have warranted page upon page of tributes and gushing obits. Sadly for Ian, Alexander McQueen had recently shuffled off and there wasn’t enough column inches to dedicate to two geniuses [sic] at one time unfortunately and the frock-botherer prevailed.

Now I have nothing against Elizabeth Taylor. If you are a certain generation I’m sure she was the greatest thing since sliced cheese. I’ve seen a few of her movies and she was no more or less wooden than the rest of her fellow actors (I never really got Richard Burton either. How could Mark Anthony have a Welsh accent?). I know Liz won a couple of Oscars and her charity work is legendary. Fair play to her.

But did she ever take 7 wickets for 79 runs against the Australians at Sydney ? Fred Titmus did.

Did Dame Elizabeth ever take 9-52 against Cambridge University at Fenners ? Fed Titmus did.

Did Liz ever lose four toes in a freak boating accident yet the following season take 111 wickets in the season, while at the same time topping his club’s batting averages ? No she didn’t but, incredibly, Fred did that too.

Did Taylor ever open the batting for her country against the West Indies in Barbados, whilst suffering from Bells Palsey and confined to a wheelchair due to chronic gout, nevertheless scoring a half-century in 43 balls including two sixes ? No, neither did Fred, but it would have been a great story.

So while you’re ploughing though the tributes and re-runs of Liz Taylor and nestling down in your armchair to watch the seventeen hours of boredom that is Cleopatra or maybe the drivel that is National Velvet, spare a thought for Fred Titmus, a man who’s career spanned five decades, was a great all-rounder, and had a very fine song written about him.