And I Say: It’s All Right


While the world reels under the pressure of a triple-dip recession — solely caused, as we all know, by all those scrounging poor people, teachers, students, health workers and single parents— it’s sometimes difficult to find anything to smile at, especially if you happen to be sitting in a queue in an unemployment office. Waiting your turn to be told they have nothing for you is a soul-destroying pastime. In Spain it must be a worse experience then most. Unemployment is currently running at 25% and it would be very easy to interpret any light at the end of any tunnel to be, as HMHB rightly said, the light of an oncoming train.

There are some, however, who are at least trying to bring a little joy into the lives of those who have been left on the scrap heap, waiting for jobs that just aren’t there. Take this Flash Mob in Spain which a Radio Station sent over to the local Job Centre to try to cheer up people. You will be shocked to hear that I am deeply sceptical of Flash Mobs, but this lot seemed to stir things deep inside me. Not always a good thing, I know. But having heard so many appalling cover versions of Beatles tracks by mono-browed, mancunian, misery-peddlers the Gallagher Brothers, this made a nice refreshing change.

Thanks go to Simon the Strine for sharing with us.

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Thought for the Day


Having deserted t’BBC Breakfast program (eey oop, here’s t’beenees nooz) I’ve been enjoying a couple of week’s worth of The Today Program where, for reasons known only to themselves, journalists are allowed to report on the latest world events, the economic crisis, wars, famine and political intrigue, occasionally punctuated by a sports report or 20 seconds of guessing at the weather.

Icke (top right) with the BBC's first Breakfas...

The way they were. The original BBC Breakfast crew including the late, great David Icke. Whatever happened to Uncle Frank ? Dirty Boy !!!!

Spend an hour watching t’Breakfast program, then switch over to listening to the radio and you’ll think you were listening on a different day. Where, please tell me, are all the “Corn Flakes can give your child rickets” stories ? What about the “What comes first on a scone ? Jam or Cream?” exclusives ? And there’re no interviews with “last night losers on Strictly”. And thank fuck for that ! Radio 4 sticks to the stupidly crusty old news program format of bringing you the …er…news. There’s not even any vox-pops from the streets of Wigan, for christ’s sake!  When I worked for a living for the highly respectable and reputable newspapers of Fleet St, the Today program was required listening, and this was so for the best part of 30 years. Since I do sod-all nowadays I lapsed into Sian and Charlie, Bill and Suzanna’s grasp, My mind turned to mulch because of it. Well that stops here and now.

Woken up by nightmares last night, I switched on the BBC World Service in the hope that the dulcet tones of a foreign correspondent talking to me would enable me to drift off to sleep (it always used to work – especially in the office). Sadly for me the opposite happened. Some bloke who’d certainly never darkened the sweet red couch of t’BBC Salford studio, was explaining with ultimate clarity and menace what was happening and going to happen if (and when) the Greek economy threw a seven and went belly-up sausage-side.

So his tale went: the Greeks pull out of the Euro and immediately, people’s savings lose two-thirds of their value and there’s a hiatus until they sort a new currency out. If that can happen in Greece, the Spanish people will calculate that it can happen in their equally-fragile economy as well. Then the Italians, and so on, and so on…

But.

Intelligent Greeks, Spaniards and Italians will see that situation coming and they don’t wanna see their savings go down the toilet. So there’s a run on all banks as anyone with any money left at all withdraws all he has and shoves it under the mattress/missus. The economy collapses, the Euro-Zone closes due to lack of interest, Presidents Obama then Romney instigate Part II of the Marshall Plan and 30 years from now we all star in a documentary by an ageing Robert Peston explaining how poor we all were in 2012/3.

The alternative to all this, of course, is the German plan of austerity: raise the Greek taxes, cut all welfare and public expenditure for about, ooooh, ten years or so. It’ll be tough “but we put up with it when we took on East Germany andwecameoutstrongerontheotherside soyoulotbetterputuporshutupandtinkyourselfluckythatyou’renotstilloccupiedyouungreatful
littleshitsandsnywayitwasyoulotnotpayingtaxwhichstartedallofthisinthefirstplace.”

Of course, that’s the argument: Greek teachers and bin men scrimping on their taxes are the ones to blame for the state of the continent’s economy. The Euro would be strong, the Banking industry would still be making fortunes if it wasn’t for all you bastard nurses and Public Sector workers borrowing what you couldn’t afford, trying to cheat the Inland Revenue and then having the balls to expect a pension at the end of it. Jesus! Those poor men at JP Morgan and such places spilt their own blood for you, some of you walking out with less than a $32 payout. How is a man supposed to live on that ?

Perhaps I’ll go back to telly where all I have to worry about in the morning is that the heavy rain has affected this years asparagus crop ?

Still. it’s not all bad news. I actually made £95 quid this week. A combination of selling Tee-shirts and predicting the odd correct score means I’m flush, for at least a couple of hours. I do have options. I could give it to The Incumbent to spend on food down at Sainsburys’. It’ll take 15 minutes to spend and £95 quid’s worth of food lasts about 3 days round here; There’s a Ralph Lauren cotton sweater at Harrods going for exactly £95 but I’m not sure they do my size (quiet at the back, please!).  I could pre-order from Amazon 11 copies of Joey Barton’s autobigraphy (and still have change for a bag of chips). Like Hitler’s Mein Kampf this will surely mostly be written (or dictated) while in incarceration. I can’t help thinking that’s not where the similarities will cease. Although, I’m told, Hitler had a good command of English unlike the captain of the Waffen QPR.

8 quid seems a lot of money to me to waste on a book by a complete arsehole, even though many buy Jeremy Clarkson’s books. Times are tough, and I should spend my cash wisely.

I’ve got it.

I am going online today to reserve a ticket on the Water Chariot to take me from Limehouse Basin to the Olympic Park. I’ll have to go on my own, though. That’s £95. London to London. One Way. I’ll have to get to Limehouse first, of course, but can you think of equal value available today ? You could probably buy the Parthenon for 95 quid.

This stuff writes itself.

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.

Goodbye-eee


According to the BBC, when I was born I was the 3,290,008,752nd person alive on earth. I dunno how they know this, but they know this. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one to be born on that particular day in history, so I don’t know how they are sure which of us is the 3,290,008,752nd, which the 3,290,008,753rd or which the 3,290,008,751st. But maybe I’m reading too much into this. Not sure. Probably not.

Anyway, by some time this morning there will be 7 billion people on the planet. It would have been a couple of hours earlier but daylight saving had to be factored in. Oh, and Jimmy Savile popped his gold lamé clogs. So every cloud.

Now, 7 billion is a big number. People are getting rather het up about it. But if you think you’re worried about it, can you imaging being John Terry knowing that the planet was becoming overrun by billions of f**cking bl**k c**ts ? Of course, when Chelsea captain John says “f**cking bl**k c**t” he means nothing by it. He’s not racist, you know ! He even led out a white and a black child mascot onto the pitch on saturday. Even touched the black kiddie. See ! Not racist in any way at all. In a modern world of 7 billion people, if you can’t call a f**cking bl**k c**t a “f**cking bl**k c**t” then what can a brain-dead, womanizing, nasty piece of sh*t, drug-dealing-family-member, thick c*nt like John supposed to do? (by the way, please don’t take that last sentence out of context. I meant nothing by it.) It’s not as if he was captain of England and supposed to set an example or anything, is it ?

Anyway, there may be a few less of “them” for John to worry about, and a few more of anyone really, if this Euro-zone business doesn’t sort itself out. Warning that unless Europe agreed with her about the Euro, German leader Angel Merkel recently said “No one should think that a further half century of peace and prosperity is assured.” Nothing warms the cockles quite like a German Chancellor predicting a European war. Sarkozy’s already told Cameron to shut up, while stating that it was a bad idea to admit Greece into the fold in the first place. This British PM won’t be waving a piece of paper around Croydon Airport this evening, predicting “peace in our time”.

Cameron and his mate Gideon Osborne, who clearly enjoy being outside the tent, pissing in, have announced they won’t be contributing to any further Euro bailouts. Yeah ! that’s right, chaps: Fuck Johnny Foreigner, and fuck him good, greasy little franco/woppo/dago/krauto wanker. We don’t need him or his mates. Apart from their holiday homes…and their yachts. Oh! and their trade…

So battles lines are being drawn up early. I’m glad that Sarko hasn’t lost sight of the fact it was all those Greek bin-men and teachers who got us into the shit in the first place. Bastards ! They don’t even pay tax on their €20,000-a-year job, d’you know ? What we need is to strengthen those poor banks. Don’t want them failing again, bless em.

Or should I say, “Bless ’em All”

Give Me your Tired, your Poor, your Huddled Masses


David Beckham came into this world on May 2nd 1975. By my reckoning that makes him 35 years old. When Fabio Capello told the media that Mr Beckham no longer featured in the England manager’s plans for the future, newspapers front pages and tv news bulletins went bananas. Some called it a disgrace that Golden Balls had not even received a phone call to tell him of his forced retirement, others pointed out he was a 35 year old recovering from injury and was clearly past it. On the other hand, there were those that said Beckham was sill the best crosser of a ball in the country. Then again, The Daily Express predicted that Beckham’s retirement would effect house prices.

This week Liverpool have been trying to re-sign Sami Hyypia from Bayer Leverkusen, but the Germans want to keep hold of the 36 year-old. A few weeks ago Capello thought 40 year old David James was the best goalkeeper in England. Fabio is 60-odd so we can put that down to dementia.

Paul Scholes was born on November 16th 1974. Scholes was recently awarded the man-of-the-match prize when his team Man Utd beat Chelsea at Wembley for the Community Shield, whatever that is. In a pitch-side interview after the game, Scholes was asked if there was any point Capello calling his to select him for England duty. “Probably not”, smiled the meek Scholes.

Like Scholes, Marcus Trescothick withdrew his services from his national team well before time. The brilliant opening batsmen for Somerset and England retired from international duty at the ripe old age of 31, citing manic depression and an unwillingness, nay incapability to travel, preferring to play county, not country. A good decision for him and his family, a potentially disastrous for the England team, as four years on Marcus is one of the most destructive and successful batsmen on the professional circuit, proving an old man can still play professional sport, even with two black labradors strapped to his legs.

Temporarily free of black dogs chasing me around the outfield, I again took to the field yesterday at the grand old age of 45¾. I dunno how Scholesie, Trescothickie and Beckhamie keep fit enough to run round around at the weekend, but Bealingie was more than a little fatigued after throwing down 9 overs of assorted rubbish. Both ankles, both knees and a hip were (and are) screaming out for mercy, and the fat, overripe pumpkin which passes for a head on top of my shoulders was in danger of meltdown.

The two Kiwis and one Aussie in our team were genuinely concerned as to my wellbeing. But from my position of all fours at fine leg, and between retches, I indicated I was fine and that I always looked like this. Elsewhere on the field, the two lads from Bangladesh lads were struggling to contain their amusement. Surprisingly, I’ve let my Bangladesh vocab slip of late, but by the way they were doubling up, puffing their cheeks out and pointing at me, I suspect they weren’t discussing field placements. Having said that, I understood little more of what the antipodeans were chortling about. “Here, mite, you seck?” Now what the fuck does that mean?

Our team, as you can see, is a cosmopolitan affair. It always was a rather rag-tag bunch of hack journalists, retired hacks, wannabe hacks, mates of hacks, mates of hacks’ sons. But over the past couple of years we’ve widened our net to include brothers and cousins and mates of mates of sons of hacks. Anyone really. It’s sad, as what started out as a journalists’ team can no longer raise 11 good men and true from it’s own ranks to enable us to put out a side every Saturday. Journalists get sent away on assignment, work weekends and work shifts. Sometimes the skipper would make 70 phone calls to try to raise a side, but to no avail. Hence the need for outsiders or ‘ringers’ to fill the breach.

The great thing about it, of course, is that the wider your net the more chance of including men that can actually play the game. And this has certainly proved to be the case for us. We take no notice of nationality, creed or colour. Just as long as you can wield a bat, throw a ball and run around for a bit then you are in. If you can actually catch a ball you’ll probably be made captain. If you buy a round after the the match, Life President. Complete arses need not apply. We’ve had a couple of infiltrators but they’ve been spotted and weeded out before they could do too much damage. They’re easy enough to spot:- they don spirally caps, old school tie as a belt, play for themselves not the team, buy their own beer, drink halves – you know the sort.

So yesterday, for example, we took to the field with 2 Kiwis, 1 Aussie, 2 Bangladeshis, 5 Englishmen and a Welshman (he has to play – he’s the skipper). There’s a few more New Zealanders, Strines and a couple or Welshmen who also play regularly, making us quite a little League of Nations. And you know what ? We’ve started winning games. A lot of games. Winning a lot of games very well indeed. Yesterday we beat The Times by ten wickets. A complete stuffing. Broke my heart, well almost.

The English Cricket team is full of South African ringers at the moment and seems to be doing ok. The New Zealand All Blacks have more than their fair share of Pacific Islanders drafted in to bolster their number and no-ne seems to mind. There have been a couple 6ft 6″ ginger Antipodeans representing Japan at rugby over the years, Aussie cricketers with Afrikaans accents, assorted Africans running for Denmark at the Olympics, Canadians masquerading as British tennis players. Half the Scottish rugby team would be more at home in Dunedin than Dundee (mind you, who wouldn’t ?).

So it seems Flags of Convenience are de rigueur. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you were born, you can play for who you like, if you can demonstrate you will actually improve the national side you’re bidding for. Would Mikel Arteta be a welcome addition to the England football team ? He has apparently made himself available to Fabio Capello. He made 12 appearances for Spain, his country-of-birth, at under-21 level but none as a senior pro. You gotta believe (as he obviously does) that at 28 he’s obviously missed his chance to do so. So now he’s offering England his services. Does Fabio choose him over all the young English lads who are striving to make the grade in their own country ? Do we embrace him as one of our, as we did with Greg Rusedski, Kevin Pietersen, or Zola Budd (another Daily Mail triumph) ?

Would we be happier winning nothing with our own nationals, or winning everything (maybe) with these sporting mercenaries ? It’s all a matter of personal taste and judgement, I guess. Personally I’d rather have an old Scholes, a past-his Becks, or a Manic Marcus, than a fit-but-foreign Zola, Mikel or Kevin. But, if it’s all the same to you, I wanna keep our Aussies and Kiwis to help us stuff The Times at cricket one Saturday every summer.

My Animals and Other Families


Unlike the previous year’s week in Italy, our arrival in Mallorca passed relatively incident-free. Ok, we were stuck in the carpark for 10 minutes while I tried to locate the handbrake in the hire car (to much sniggering in the back), but once I realised it didn’t have a handbrake we made easy work of the 45 minute drive to the villa.

Within half an hour of our arrival the kids hit the water and I explored the environs. The place looked just fine: plenty of space, good size rooms, a nice big kitchen, and if the pool wasn’t exactly of Olympic proportions, it was big enough for me to join the kids for a wallow, without too much water displacement. It was a semi-secluded spot, with just one other villa over an unkept hedge which, on first examination, seemed to be unoccupied. Perfect- we could make as much noise as we liked, and there were no neighbours to complain about the noise as I beat the children.

The area around the pool and the barbeque had recently been swept clean and, at first glance, looked to be spick and span. However, as I wandered around I did notice a pile dust in the corner where the cleaners had neglected to dispose of it. Not to worry, I thought to myself as I reached for the dustpan and brush. Then, as I made my move to sweep up the pile, it moved. Or rather the top of the pile moved. It wasn’t dust, it was ants. Or rather it was a pile of dead ants, with a surface covering of live ones. There must have been thousands of them.

Hmmm…. I’m not squeamish about ants, but I didn’t want a colony of them, dead or alive, sharing my holiday home. With several flicks of the wrist several generations of hundreds of ant families and their ancestors were in their temporary Addis home in transit to their new home over the hedge. We spent the rest of the evening by the pool, supping the local brew, nibbling oddly and amusingly name potato-based snacks. Oliver, our 16 year old budding Gerald Durrell, searched the grounds for lizards and snakes. Thankfully he returned empty handed.

Waking early next morning, The Incumbent and I prepared ourselves for a quiet cup of tea and a peaceful breakfast by the pool while the youngsters slept off the effects of a chlorine overdose. The sun was shining, the cockerels in the surrounding farms cock-a-doodle-did each other, and two long lines of ants were marching up and down the wall near barbie. Oh sod it. I looked more closely and the floor of the verandah was teeming with the little buggers.

These critters did not enjoy a long life, it seemed to me, as half of their number were already evidently dead. Perhaps they were a particular type of ‘one-day’ ants, I wondered to myself. It made no never mind, as no sooner did one snuff it on my patio, then he was replaced by a dozen others or more. Again I burst into action with my trusty dustpan and brush, but clearly I was going to need something more to combat the attacking forces. In any event, the neighbour’s garden was beginning to resemble an ant cemetery.

Once the kids had finally woken and had breakfast we attempted to press-gang them into the car for the short trip to the beach. Oliver had found a grasshopper and was studying it intently, ignoring our pleas to get in the car. The other three were moping about at the speed only teenagers and Jamaican beach coconut sellers have mastered. Why is it so hard to move kids anywhere? All they want to do is to lay down or sit on their arses wherever they are at that particular moment. You can promise them a beautiful beach, blazing hot sun, ice cream, watersports, even free money and they still want to stay in bed til way after the sun is over the yardarm. You also know that once you arrive they won’t want to leave, taking a good hour and a half to get packed and ready for the journey home. Anyway.

On arrival we set up camp under two sunshades and the four teenagers, showing a rare display of enthusiasm, scurried off to the water. Ah! peace again, we thought. I’d hardly had time to remove my socks and sandals before Tom (the eldest of the four kids) returned from whence he swame. He’d been stung by something which had left a watch-sized welt around his wrist, much to the amusement of Ollie the part-time botanist and full-time elder-brother-annoyer. While his mother was tending to Tom’s wounds, I walked down to the shore to check on the others. I made for a magnificent sight: the sun gleaming off my baldpatch, the sweat trickling down my pale hairy skin, creating a torrent between my moobs, my swimming shorts at half-mast out of respect to the ants who’d died that morning so that we might enjoy breakfast.

Like Daniel Craig‘s grandfather I waded thigh deep into the sea, egged on by the kids, two of whom were hiding their embarrassment rather well as they watched in horror as their father’s naked upper body wobbled towards them. I stood there for a second, letting the warm, invitingly blue Mediterranean waters lap gently up against my nadgers. 29 ½ inches below the surface, something was afoot.

No sooner had I plunged my shoulders beneath the waves when “Oh you little bast..OW!!” I cried (with all the dignity I could muster). I’d been stung too. Something had taken a shine to my instep and sunk it’s teeth/claws/tentacles into my foot. It wasn’t much more painful than a nettle sting, but it was a sting nevertheless. I retreated to the sandy shore, dragging my mutilated foot behind me, like a puppet on a string. The girls followed hastily, not wanting to join the victim list. Oliver went off diving to look for sea monsters.

As Tom and I compared wounds, a middle-aged, pink and plumpish woman laying on the lounger beside us sat up.

“Excause me, boot have yau been stoong”. Her accent told me she was from the midlands. That and the Aston Villa tattoo on her forearm.
“Er.. yes.. I think so” I replied.
“Jelleefeesh” she declared.”There were oondreds of jelleefeesh around ere yestardie, I got stoong on me leg, loook!” She showed us a long lesion running up the length on her inner thigh, stopping just below her gusset. It was a disturbing sight, for all manner of reasons. “I got some cream for it off the loifguard over therrr. Ee’s very noice.”
We turned to look at the lifeguard station, a sort of tennis umpire’s chair with a roof on. Flying above it was a red cross flag and a yellow one which we later discovered meant “swim with caution”. The loifguard, sorry lifeguard himself was at that moment hoisting a third which had a rather crude drawing of a jellyfish on it. After saying some rather crude words of my own, myself and The Incumbent went off in search of some jellyfish sting ointment. By the time we’d returned twenty minutes later, all four of the children were back on the beach, looking bored, cold, hungry or tired, or a combination of all four. We left.

By the time we got back to the villa, Ollie’s grasshopper was but a furry black ball on the patio.. The ants had got hold of it and were feasting their tiny choppers into the poor little sod. There were noises from over the hedge. A family had moved in and were mucking around in their pool. This caused much fascination and some rather obvious spying and snooping. “Chinese” said the girls. “Scottish” declared the boys. I couldn’t be arsed to adjudicate, they were simply referred to thereafter as the McWongs.

I ordered one and all to shower before anyone made a move for the pool. As I poured myself and The Incumbent a sharpener the girls rushed into the kitchen complaining that a column of ants had invaded their dressing table and were all over everything. I put down my beer and picked up the car keys. As I left the house to go find a supermarket to buy some ant repellent, I passed Oliver in the garden, playing with his latest find ; a large blue-black bug which was crawling up his arm. If I’d had the time I might have discovered it was a cockroach, but thankfully I didn’t have time and as far as I’m concerned it was nothing more than a stag beetle. Or something.

Fed Up to the Front Teeth


BBC News:

New ‘superbug’ found in UK hospitals
By Michelle Roberts Health reporter

A new superbug that is resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics has entered UK hospitals, experts warn.
They say bacteria that make an enzyme called NDM-1 have travelled back with NHS patients who went abroad to countries like India and Pakistan for treatments such as cosmetic surgery.
Although there have only been about 50 cases identified in the UK so far, scientists fear it will go global.

Scary innit ? Well maybe. It’s August, there’s nothing to write about, so let’s scare the bejeesus out of the population and announce a new killer virus (see “Gnu Flu” in It Is Written – earlier post).

I got an infection when on holiday last week, apparently. Fortunately for me it wasn’t fatal, unless the BBC or the Daily Express tell me different. My aforementioned wobbly crown started to get even wobblier, and worse, started to ache. Infected. Now as we all know, there’s nothing worse than a toothache (if you discount nuclear war or a coalition government) and this one really did put me off my stride no matter how much Medico San Miguel I administered to the troublesome spot and surrounding areas.

For three days the pain came and went, pulsed and throbbed in the back of my mouth, often forcing me to prescribe more numbing fluid than was decent. I didn’t want to fly with toothache (I didn’t really wanna fly at all), so imagine my relief when the day before we were due to return home the pain subsided a little. Happy days. To celebrate I chose to cook a slap up meal (pizzas) for the kids, went to the fridge for the ingredients, picked up some cheese, went to tear the packet open with my teeth and promptly sheared off half of a front tooth. Bugger.

So that’s how I landed back in Blighty on Friday: swollen molar and deficient in the front tooth department to the tune of half. I was carrying a healthy tan, some undesigner stubble and a dashing, windswept look to the barnet, but had a mouth like Nanny McPhee. If I could have bitten the bullet I would have done, instead I was left to grab the bull by the balls and call my very least favourite phone number: The Dentist.

I’ve always hated the dentist. It used to be the pain I feared, now it’s the bills. My present situation isn’t conducive to me wanting to chuck wads of cash at a dental surgeon, but needs must so off I popped to my appointment yesterday lunchtime.

“Hello there” said the doc “haven’t seen you for a while. How have you been ?”
“Well I’m in a bit of a state, to be honest” I whined.
He looked at his notes (or rather mine).
“Three years. We haven’t seen you for three years !” he sounded surprised. I don’t know why. If he’d missed me that much he could have always phoned.
“Probably why I’m in the state I’m in” I said, embarrassed, as I climbed into the chair.
“But three years ! that really is far too long”. I could see he didn’t want to let this one go.
“Yes, sorry” I was kinda hoping he’d have looked into my mouth by now. “I’ll make sure I don’t leave it so long next time. Can I tell you what’s wrong?” I proceeded to tell him the tale of the teeth, and eventually he deigned to take a peek.

A clatter of steel on enamel and the odd poke with a spike into my gums later he re-emerged into the daylight.
“Is the front one hurting you at the moment ?”
“No” (I’d already told him that)
“And how about the crown?”
“Yes” (ditto)
“Well let’s have a look at that one first then”. So saying, he re-entered the pain scene and began poking, scraping and levering.
“Does that hurt ?” he redundantly asked.
“Ot earry” I raised my eyebrows. he had both hands in my gob, what else could I do?

Emboldened by my lack of pain he set about me again. Lever, lever, scrape, tug, lever, lever. He stepped back. “You want me to numb you up ? We’re almost there”
I wiped a slight tear from the corner of my eye. I decided to be brave. “No, no, I’ll be fine”

After what seemed like an age of us tangoing around the swivel chair, him orally fisting me and me with a tight grip on his forearms, he pulled the crown from my mouth. “Hmmm…… how long ago did you have this fitted?”
“Oh about three years ago I would think” I replied, wiping the saliva from my chin.
“Where?”
“Here”
“Oh”
“Something wrong?” I wondered.
“No..no.. just it seems to have moved”
“Oh”. I didn’t know what else to say.
“Well. you have a slight infection in there and the posts seem to have separated”
“Oh”
“I’ll try to clean it up and get the posts back in, otherwise we’ll have to loose the tooth”
“Oh” (my ‘ohs’ were becoming higher and higher)

After a few more scrapes, and squirt or two of air and a smidge of suction, he returned to my mouth to reverse the process. He was now pushing in as opposed to pulling out, which in turn caused our dance routine to rotate the chair in the opposite direction. His assistant showed some pretty nifty footwork when dodging the doctor’s ankles as I swung him around the room. This clearly wasn’t going well.

After a few more verses he removed his mits, admitting defeat.
“No. No I can’t get it in” He sighed. The posts have splayed.
“Oh” (well what would you have said?).
After some further thought on the matter, he filed off one of the posts, covered the crown with cement, held me in a half nelson and AT LAST inserted the crown back into it’s rightful place.
“Now bite down” his beads of sweat was threatening to drip on my forehead. “How does that feel ?”
“A little proud” I panted through clenched teeth.
“Really? Bite again”
“Still feels proud.
“Really?”
“None of my other teeth touch. It’s not right. You sure it’s the right way round?”
“Yes, yes. Now look, ” (moving swiftly on) “bear with it and if the pain persists pop back and I’ll write you out a script for some antibiotics to get rid of the infection.”
“But I can’t bite”
“That’ll settle down” he said, almost as if he meant it. “if not I can have another bash at it next time”
Have another bash at it ?????? Which page of the Dentist’s Handbook was that phrase from ?
Whatever was going on in the back of my mouth, I still had a gaping hole in the front.
“What about my front tooth? Will it need a crown?” I inquired.
“We can discuss that next time” he smiled, de-rubbergloving himself. He’d clearly had enough.

My time was up. Between now and the next time I’d be wandering around south London with a wonky jaw and a gap in my smile, in the unlikely event I choose to employ it in the near future.

“Oh”

.

Spanish Stroll


Don’t you love getting sprayed with someone else’s waste product when you’re standing at a urinal ? I know I do. I was standing at the trough the other evening, resplendent in my ever-present summer shorts, when a fella came into the pub toilet to begin his business. Now I don’t know what he produced from his fly (I’m far to polite to look) but by the feel of the mist that started to cover my right leg, I suspect it was some sort of steam lance.

He was presumably in a hurry to force it out and finish quickly as he started after and finished before me then returned to the bar before I had time to zip up. I stood there, thoroughly dejected with damp leg and one moist tennis shoe. If you think it’s tough washing your shin in a pub toilet basin, try cocking that leg up to the nozzle of the hand-drier, then come up with a plausible explanation as to what you’re doing to the next bloke that comes in for a pee.

I suppose I might have pointed out the error of his ways to my urinary assailant while he was imitating a garden sprinkler, but being a lover not a fighter I didn’t want to get into a fist fight with a man who not only was a good deal larger than me (in nearly every department) and who’s fist were covered in wee.

I should have asked him what he was up to for the net week as I could do with him in my garden. We’re off for a week, taking the herberts to Spain and I need someone to water the plants while I’m away. With a natural talent such as his, my chillies, carrots and peppers would be sure to get a good watering. As it is, I am relying on my parents to pop over and administer the watering can to the veg patch, and at least that way my produce won’t have a faint lager aftertaste.

So the annual trip with the four kids has arrived and, as usual, I’m pottering around Railway Cuttings making sure I have everything I will possibly need for the holiday, and all the time taking my mind off the fact I have to get on a plane in the morning (why is there always a plane crash somewhere in the world just before I go to Gatwick?).

At the moment, the suitcase list reads (in order of importance): Medical bag; loo roll; passport; tea bags; playing cards; cribbage board; iPod; reading matter; money (if applicable); TomTom; swim shorts and clothes.

You’ll notice I have not felt the need to include a Spanish phrase book. The kids tell me that at least two of them have a working knowledge of the language, but more importantly I fear that fluent cockney, brummie and scouse are the dominant languages where we’re going. I’m less likely to use “Dos cervezas, por favor” than I will “‘scuse me mate, can you shut the fuck up?”. I’m expecting to see many more signs for Ye Olde Red Lion than I will Vino y Tapas. Fish n chips and a cup of tea are likely to be the local delicacies, rather than chorizo, paella or Rioja.

Yes, the Inglés will be there in force and I thank the little baby Jesus that we have booked a villa and pool all to ourselves so I need be nowhere near them. Last year in Italy we stumbled across very few Brits and bloody marvellous it was too. I’m not sure we’ll be so lucky this time round. So the plan (well, my plan anyway) is to spend a goodly amount of time stocking up in the local supermarket then eating and drinking ourselves stupid around the pool. Give me a German, an Italian, a Frenchman or even a Spaniard to chat to at the bar and I’ll be as happy as Larry (depending on how happy Larry is, of course), but I find it hard to embrace my compatriots as they try to Anglicise the world. Maybe I’ll pretend to be Australian ? Maybe not.

If we do find ourselves outside the confines of our villa we shall be vigilant. The first sign of a pair of Union Jack shorts on the beach and we will retreat to base camp; any Barnsley bullshit that they “don’t do a decent pint of bitter over here” will result on us leaving the premises; 18-30 holiday rep organizing foreskin-drinking contests will be kept out of sight of the children and, more importantly, me. I have very low tolerance and embarrassment levels when it comes to the English abroad and look forward to avoiding any pink, tattooed nause from Nottingham holding court in a bar and giving us his thoughts on football or motor racing.

All that aside, I’m thoroughly looking forward a week with the kids and won’t let anything detract from it. Bring on the San Miguel, the gambas pil pil and the Tortillas. Bring on the large scotches in Gatwick and bring on a smooth and scream-free flight. At least there won’t be a bloke giving me a free shower in the plane’s khazi.

Oh, Olé!