Lost & Found


The end of another traumatic week, one way or another. Thankfully this week wasn’t all about me or the member of staff in a pub I’d abused in some way (though it’s early yet). No, this week was certainly all about The Incumbent Mrs B — the long-suffering female who’s been so lucky over the past few years to have the pleasure of living with me. If you stick your head out of the window you may be able to hear another chunk of Crimean cannon ball being filed down as they make her Victoria Cross. Nobody said it was gonna be easy, kid. And they were right. I’d like to take this opportunity here and now to apologise to The Incumbent for all the pain and sorry she has gone through on my behalf over the years, and state categorically that it won’t happen again. Not unless I get drunk tonight.

Proving that there should be an age-limit to prevent old people attempting selfies. That's Mt Vesuvius in the middle, no idea who the two people in the foreground are.

Proving that there should be an age-limit to prevent old people attempting selfies. That’s Mt Vesuvius in the background , no idea who the two people in the foreground are.

So, first some good news: the hunt for the Incumbent’s family continues. Those of you in the know will understand this house has recently become a poor man’s version of Who Do You Think You Are ?  (I’m appearing next year on BBC3’s highly successful “Why Do You Think You Are ?” where, if you can’t justify your existence, you are made to sit down and watch a whole episode of The Call Centre —a show worse than anything Jack Whitehall has come up with.**)

Our version doesn’t have a film crew, a producer or mood music; we haven’t had to fly Mrs B around the globe (I had to drive her to Feltham once); and there’s not even a visit to the British Museum or a Holocaust Memorial in sight, but I’m hoping the Beeb or even 5 might pick us up sooner or later. I won’t go into too many details here — as The Incumbent will want to tell you her story in her own words, and probably with more accuracy and clarity, but suffice to say that she’s  suddenly become the rather shocked relation of a slew of new full-sisters, half-sisters, short dogs and tall nephews and heaven knows how many other assorted family members.  Good news indeed after such a long search. However, having traced her lineage, if Nigel Farage (rhymes with garage) ever comes to power my Missus will be one of the first he’ll send back home to the continent. I do hope so anyway — as if Farage (as in marriage) and his mob get in I’m going to need somewhere to stay as I shall be packing my bags and will be on the boat right behind her. Like Kaiser Wilhelm II before me, I fancy my own place in the sun.

Mid-week she lost her favourite pen. It was a nice one, a present bought by a dear friend, and it was her favourite shopping list-writing tool. We have had the house turned upside down but cannot find it anywhere. It could have been lost anywhere between Canterbury in Kent and Feltham in Middx.:  Approx 88 miles, according to Google Maps. The pen is fitted with a tracking device, but you have to clip it to your top pocket before you can actually hear the signal it sends out. The battery on the tracker last up to 4 minutes. Some have said this is a design fault. I have poo-poohed such suggestions. Me and a chinese mate attached a microphone to a broomstick and went and sat in his rubber dinghy just off Erith Marshes, dangling the mic in the water. Oddly, nothing has turned up yet, but I’ll let you know.

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Anyway, the point of this tribute to my very own Leader of the Opposition is to wish her a very happy birthday. Sad to say, m’lady, you will never be as old as me, and don’t you enjoy telling me so ? One of us has a very significant, important and depressing birthday this year but unfortunately it’s not you. So enjoy it while you can, and as is traditional on these occasions: it’s your round. xx

 

Woman with Cake

Woman with Cake

** correct at time of going to press.

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Taking My Business Elswhere


We’ve come full circle.

From being asked, albeit politely, to leave a Harvester ‘pub’ last weekend, to barring myself from my once very favourite pub last night.

Both were completely justified.

The first incident occurred when, after and because I was on the outside of two or three bottles of house shiraz. I then decided, for better or worse, that I needed another bottle (and one for yourself). But in my excitement, haste and eagerness to replenish my glass and that of my accomplices on this Leo Sayer of Leo Sayers, I may have forgotten myself as I chivvied along the barmaid, who may or may not have been one of the worst you’ve ever seen.

Leo Sayer — All Dayer

Leo Sayer — All Dayer

I don’t like Harvester, never have done. It is a chain of foody ‘pubs’ over here and throughout good ol’ Blighty which is the very embodiment of everything I hate about modern drinking. Acres of dining tables, and occasionally tended drinking areas, or “bars” as they like to call them. They are restaurants with a beer counter attached. They are the Nigel Farage (rhymes with garage) of Holsteries. The Paul McCartney of pubs, the Mike Bushell of Boozers in which to enjoy a Sunday afternoon quaff.

” I say” quoth you “shall we go to the Bill Turnbull, the Sally Nugent or the Charlie Stayt for a pint ?” “Nah” comes the reply “let’s go to the Mike Bushell. It’s not a real pub, but it’ll do, don’t cha think ?”.  (You may find this odd, but that’s how the “shall we go for a pint in the Harvester” conversation  sounds in my head. I bet it does in yours too)

And I’m just like you. To save a row, you go along. After all, this time it’s definitely not all about YOU, is it ? This is not your day and you go with the flow. That’s what makes you a civilised human being, isn’t it ? Someone who people like and admire, someone who considers other people’s opinions and feelings. Even if you hate the pub you’re walking into.

In truth, I’ve always hated that pub, even when it tried to be a proper pub. Back in black&white it used to go by the name of The Rising Sun, and it was always last on our young drinkers list of places to go for an evening’s entertainment. It was huge and uninteresting, more like an pub in Essex, not one in The Garden of England, (or even in the bit I live— The Allotment of England). Huge, overrated and uninteresting, in that David-Walliams-sort-of-way. Now, apparently it still goes the name of the Rising Sun, but known to all as “The Harvey”. Or sometimes “The Bushell” (though probably only by me.)

Harvester Logo_salad-grill

But none of this by any means excuses me for what I apparently said to this person serving — or otherwise— me that afternoon. Early into that next bottle I was asked by the manager of the pub if I had a minute, was taken to a quiet corner of the bar, and was kindly asked to leave the pub as I had been rude — “in the extreme”— to the young lady behind the bar. First hand accounts are scarce and differ slightly about what happened and who said what to who(m). What seems to be clear is that, to paraphrase Sesame Street, this conversation was brought to by the letters U, T, N & C and by the words  SLOW, USELESS and YOU.

I was asked to leave on the grounds that I was “rude and tipsy”.  It was, apparently, a fair cop, guv. That was a week ago, and it took some getting over. Angst and shame. Using inappropriate language; not being able to remember saying that rude word, or indeed anything, to the barmaid; being barred from a pub, however awful, and thus having to curtail my assault on the Dartford Shiraz surplus. I have, however, gradually been able to come to terms with my actions by way of convincing myself that a) she may well have (or probably) made it all up; b) she was indeed slow and useless (though not necessarily a utnc); c) I never liked the pub anyway. If, indeed, a pub it be.

I moved on.

Mid week, I found myself in The People’s Republic of Luton having beer & sandwiches with a couple of the locals.

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Strange lot. It appears they grow up with either too much hair, or none at all. However, they do know how to run a boozer, as the chaps in The Castle pub, castle street — next to the castle (how do they come up with these names ?) illustrates. Good beer, proper, quick and attentive bar staff, no food, original decor (well, underneath the old folk music flyers there was original decor.) It restored my faith in pubs and the people therein. It was clean, well stocked, reasonable priced and catered for the beer-and-wine-drinking community as a whole.  Hairies and baldies alike.

 

Marianne Faithfull, The Salisbury Pub, London by Gered Mankowitz

Marianne Faithfull, The Salisbury Pub, London. Photo by Gered Mankowitz

Cut to yesterday afternoon when I strolled manfully through London’s Covent Garden, leading The Incumbent and two friends to my very favourite watering hole the capital has to offer. Anyone who has ever met me for a drink in London over the past 30 years will have been asked by me if “we could go to The Sailisbury, St Martin’s Lane”. In the heart of London’s Theatre Land, this is what a pub should be. Great beer, friendly staff (apart from that time one of them charged me over four quid for a pint of Peroni, but then I wasn’t very friendly either), beautiful, original features like cut glass partitions, red velvet seats and a sticky paisley carpet. Even though they serve hot food to punters, it is just my favourite pub in town, almost the world.

Or rather it was.

Since 1892 The Salisbury (or whichever name the pub went by before) has been serving beer, wine and Mars Bars to theatre-goers, revellers, drunks and Marianne Faithfull in these plush, welcoming surroundings. Yesterday, thanks to the marketing men, interior designers, painters, atmosphere-removers and parquet floor-fitters they reduced one of their punters to tears.

Me.

Ok, ok. I had already enjoyed a marvellous lunch up the road, and may have had a beer or eight before I walked into the place, but when I did I cried like a Dartford Barmaid who’s just been call a utnc. It may have been an over-reaction, and you may well look at the snap below and say “ooh that looks nice”, and you may or may not be correct. But truth is they still serve italian lager at over £4-a-pint, they still serve hot food which rids the place of its happy hoppy smell and replaces it with one of gravy & onions and it still attracts far to many backpacking half a shandy brigade. None of this mattered to me before, but now it does. Who gave who(m) the right to go against history and change what drinkers have been enjoying for 120 years ? WHO ?? If I wanted to drink in a Slug & Piano or an Airport Departure Lounge Bar/Wetherspoons* (delete where applicable) I WOULD HAVE GONE TO ONE. Instead I chose to introduce friends to my favourite hostelry. Now they think I like laminate flooring.

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The Incumbent, top right, puts on a brave face as The Author shoots photos through the tears, the sorrow and the pain.

So apart from crying in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of a packed pub in the middle of the West End of London, I thought I maintained my composure pretty well. I only posted my complaints on Facebook, Twitter & Beerintheevening.com and alerted the bar staff to my deep concerns— after having dried my eyes, of course — and without using the ‘U’ word once. I used words such as “Awful” “shameful” and “goodbye forever” and meant all of them. Apart from the last two as I still had a gallon of Guinness to cry into.

I now brace myself for those-in-the-know to reply to my various protests, pointing out that The Salisbury “has been altered 17 times over the last 30 years but you’ve just always been too drunk to notice”, which may or may not be accurate and true. However, I’m similar to many people: Although I don’t like Conservatives, I am very conservative. Like a lot of blokes I know, I’d go to the same pub every night of my life and drink the same pint for the rest of my days, as long as no-one changed anything. ANYTHING. I can moan about any and every aspect of the pub, from the price of a pint, to the speed of the barman/maid, the state of the loos to the state of the pickled eggs, pork scratchings and carpet. But I pay enough for a pint and drink enough of them to have an opinion, and it’s MY pub! Not yours — you fly-by-night manager who’ll be off in a couple of years to run that little B&B near Droitwich at the drop of a hat. I’ll be here, come rain-or-shine, moaning, laughing and crying at my regular spot in the corner until I decide I’ve had enough, or you decide to decorate. Or I’m politely asked to leave.

God, I bet they’ll miss me.

 

 

Hot. Drunk. Smelly.


These are momentous times:

1.GB win more medals at an Olympic Games than any Submerged Country since Atlantis won a Team Silver and two individual Bronzes in Synchronized Drowning at the Carthage Olympics of 204 BC.

sochi_hot_cool_yours

2. Meanwhile. just up the road (about 1400K) in Kiev, Government forces clash with Nationalist protestors as skirmishes and street battles turn very nasty indeed. The last time we heard of the Ukrainian Nationalist movement they were helping the Nazis butcher our Russian allies during WWII, which was good of them. I know half of Eastern Europe and the Baltics sided with Hitler, but at least most of them nowadays have the good grace to apologise for it (even if they don’t mean it). Not this mob. They’re proud of their history. Europe seem to be eager to help out and welcome in these Nazi collaborators — or the Ukraine Independence Party, as we might call them. Seems to work quite nicely.

The Ukrainian Biathlon Team unveil their New kit for Sochi 2014.

The Ukrainian Biathlon Team unveil their New kit for Sochi 2014.

3. I won £25 on the Lotto last night. (Chicken Dansak me up !)

4. Charlton beat QPR yesterday and are still in the FA Cup, at time of writing. (Yes I know this should have got top billing, but there are a couple of subscribers out there who, for reasons best known to themselves, care little for the Addicks. I know, go figure.)

Elsewhere, the Incumbent and I traveled to the newly-opened West London Everglades to visit a recently discovered branch of the family. For years now, my Leader of the Opposition has known deep down that there was someone out there, somewhere, who shared a common interest in alcohol and 80s music, and was as soppy as she was. After a long search of hostels and hospices of the English speaking world, we finally met up with Jack and Daniel, two warm-hearted, foul-mouthed, bourbon-swilling party animals, Owners & DJs at RadioFvckOffUCvnt, and now a little sister and a dirty great brother for my other half.

Not quite Torvill & Dean. The Ed takes to the Ice (and lemon) with Jack (Daniel's upside down under the optic, just out of shot).

Not quite Torvill & Dean. The Ed takes to the Ice (and lemon) with Jack (Daniel is upside down under the optic with The Incumbent,  just out of shot. And focus).

We DJ’d, ate, sang, danced and drank the days and nights away, all weekend long. I’d been dong my very best since Christmas to shed the odd metric ton and it had been going swimmingly well up to that point. I still couldn’t get into my original Speedo Salopettes which had brought me so much success at Sarajevo ’84, but I have dropped a trouser size or two and can even button my socks up. It all went wrong last weekend. The Environment Agency called round to complain about the increased water displacement since I’d devoured that 2nd litre of gin and that extra helping of Sweet&Sour Chicken Balls.

One afternoon (I forget which) Daniel drove me to a local hostelry which was full of sad drunks, scruffy women and barmaids which ignored us. It was like being home again. We must have made for a strange couple. The Tall one (Daniel stands over 7ft 3″) ordered and drank half a diet coke (he doesn’t do beer and a litre of Bourbon was out of the question as he was my driver for the afternoon). As for the Short One, I hadn’t touched a beer this year (honest—too many carbs) and decided this was a good time to correct matters. 3 pints of Stella and 17 minutes later we were ready to go home to renew our assault on the European Chinese Takeaway Mountain, as well as assuming our position on the starting line of the the Olympic Freestyle Gin Swigging event.

It all seemed a good idea at the time.

The only thing that  could have possibly gone wrong is for more people to arrive and turn it into a party. Which, by an odd coincidence is exactly what happened. At my tender age of 49 and and 4 months, I am ill-equipped to handle a head-to-head 48 hour binge, let alone compete in a mass Gordons-and-Tonic-Fest with two of the Great Bon Viveurs of the civilised world which, as my luck would have it, was exactly who turned up to give us a hand getting drunk. More dancing, singing etc, until I ran the white flag up the pole and retired to someone’s bedroom. I still don’t know whose.

The Ed wakes up next to Daniel after 48 hours of carnage.

The Ed wakes up next to Daniel after 48 hours of carnage. HOT,SWEATY,FARTY.

As a twenty-something, then a thirty-something, I spent many a Sunday morning waking up in a strange bedroom/lounge/wardrobe, in some part of Kent or London. Everyone else having made it to their homes the previous night, but me stubbornly refusing to leave the party until the last bottle of Cizano Bianco had been finished. Now, being nearly a fifty-something, it was clear it hurt very much indeed. I woke between a big bloke and a very hot radiator. Or was it a big radiator and a very hot bloke, I am not sure. I do know I had 3rd degree burns down one side of my face from the radiator, giving me a look uncannily like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters. And I ached a lot. And I smelled. I didn’t remember drinking Gin though my eyes, but that’s what it felt like I had done.

Having delayed our departure until most of the poison had left my body, and having said our goodbyes we crept off down the M3, heading for the M25 at the speed of a 2-Man Bob which had lost it’s skii-raily-slidey things underneath (you didn’t know I was such an expert, did you?). The Incumbent, presumably acting as break man, remained in the crouched position all journey. Driving like Mr Magoo on Mogadon, I had no intention of needing her to slam on the anchors. It was an eery feeling. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven at 31 miles an hour on the M3 but you get to see so much more, if you can open your eyes. At the moment you’d get to see Sir Ben Ainslie practise for the next Americas Cup on a new lake where London used to be. I cannot have had enough to drink the night before as I still felt thirsty that morning, and all that flood water wasn’t helping.

Home at last, snuggled up warm in front of a roaring curry , we settled down for the rest of the week to watch (why???) every bit of Sochi coverage we possibly could (at least that’s how I saw it). I thought it may have been my hangover, but even now, even though I have a clear head, I still can’t work out what the Games Slogan “HOT COOL YOURS” means. Truth is there have been lots of things which have puzzled me about these Games. For starters, what are we, as a GB team, gonna do in Pyeongchang 2018 when Scotland have nicked all of our best curlers ? The world will come to an end if and when the Scotch bugger off with all our medallists, leaving us a couple of 12 yr old snowboarders and a tea-tray pusher. NO ! I will not have it. They can have the Pound, they can have the Oil, they can even have the Nuclear Submarines, but THEY’RE NOT KEEPING THE CURLERS !!.

Hang on…. what’s that….? They got stuffed in the final by the Canadians ? Oh fvck em then, let ’em go.

A Member of the English Pyeongchang Olympics  2018 Curling Team waits patiently at the West London Training rink for someone to turn the fridge on.

A Member of the English Pyeongchang Olympics 2018 Curling Team waits patiently at the West London Training rink for someone to turn on the fridge.

Also, how do you get to be an Ice Meister ? Isn’t that just the coolest job description ? “What d’you want to be when you leave school, Bealing ?”
“An Ice Meister, Sir.  Or a T-shirt printer”. (both characters exit stage left, followed by whacking and crying sound effects).

When a figure skater makes a Horlicks of his Triple Salko, or Armenia 3 decide to come down the 4-Man Bob Track (?) downside-up, the Ice Meister is sent for to assess the damage to the …er….ice. Here he comes, armed with a half-filled watering can and one of those scrapers you get a the petrol station. So when I was a kid and Dad gave me a slap for pouring kettles and kettles ful of water onto the icy pavement outside our house, in order to make a slide, I could have simply said I was a trainer Ice Meister. Another missed opportunity. When I start my Rap career (won’t be long now) The Ice Meister may well be my stage name. Or it may be my porn name. Not sure yet.

Finally, who could not have felt sympathy with the brave Japanese Speed skater who crashed/span out of the 1-Legged, 70,000 meters Blindfolded Short Track Semi Final, denying him the chance to make either the Big or the Small Final. It’s not that I feel any more sympathy for him than for anyone else who falls foul of an opponents elbow or a team-mate’s skate in this, the most exciting and random of all the sports on show. Anyone can win, anyone can lose, that’s why it’s such a fun thing to watch. No, it’s having heard the commentators shout out his name several times, especially as he concertina’d into the advertising boards, that I thought to myself that I knew exactly how he felt. Haven’t we all felt like a Sakashita at some time in our lives ? I know I did last weekend.  I suggest he has a hair-of-the-dog to make himself feel better.

Sakashita of Japan crashes out in a men's 500m short track speedskating quarterfinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo)

Sakashita of Japan crashes out in a men’s 500m short track speedskating quarterfinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo)

Didier Fookin’ Drogbah !


Why do we bother watching football ? Who out there hasn’t felt like this  on more than several occasions about their own team ?

Very sweary Geordie gets himself in a lather about the Toon. (Works perfectly too if you substitute the word Newcastle for Charlton). Things clearly ain’t going well for the Magpies from the Land of My Fathers (well, mothers to be precise). Made me smile on more than once, which is more than Charlton do.

 

Thanks Shola, but fook off !

Champion !

Greaves’ Rules: It’s Your Round Again, Mate


This’ll be the third or fourth time I have posted this, but you can’t get too much of a good thing. This follows many requests from friends and drinking buddies alike to republish these rules (and they are RULES, not suggestions), and after observing from afar some truly shocking antics of the recent crop of Beliebers, Directioners and Whovians (I’m a Whothefvckcaresvian), who have reached their 18th birthday, somehow are allowed into my pubs, and who now seem intent on making my quiet drinking time a nightmare.

I suspect my first heart attack will arrive as I’m queuing (yes, I’m British) behind 7 Coiffured Dwarfs, fiddling through their man-purses while they individually ask for a WKD and pay for one with 20 pence pieces; or if the pub does Vodka Shots or bottles of Pomegranate and Strawberry Cider ?  “You do ? Excellent! one please. How much is that ? CAN OF YOU GUYS LEND ME 38 PENCE PLEASE ?”

Back in the day when the great Bill Greaves — Friend, Ale Expert, Pub Aficionado, Journalist and Right-Hand opening Bat — composed the following, life was a lot simpler (we’re talking about the 1980s, not the 1880s, you understand). People (men, mostly) stood together, talked together, drank (beer) together and bought a round for each other. If you were 18 years old (or even 15) “this is your pint of Bitter, get that down you and it’s your round next!”. Fluorescence purple or lime green alcoholic drinks had, thankfully, not been invented yet.

Too poor to get your round in ? We’ll stand you a few this time, but make sure you bring some cash next week or you can sod off out of our company (it was only 40p a pint after all).

So for those of us who hark back to such happy times, and for those of you who are in desperate need of a lesson in pub etiquette, I give you (once again):

GREAVES’ RULES

1.When two or more enter the pub together, one – usually the first through the door – will begin proceedings with the words “Now then, what are we having?” He or she will then order and pay. This purchase is known as “the first round”.

2.This player, or “opener”, will remain “in the chair” while other friends or colleagues come through the door to join the round. He will remain in this benefactory role until either (a) his own glass sinks to beneath the half way mark or (b) another drinker finds himself almost bereft of his original refreshment and volunteers to “start a new round”.

3.In the absence of new arrivals, any player other than the opener may at any time inquire whether it is “the same again?” On receiving his instructions, he will then order and pay for “the second round”. (N.B. The second round is the last one to be specifically numbered. Beyond that point, nobody wishes to be reminded how many they have had and, anyway, no-one should be counting.)

“His Eminence” Greaves (right, in jacket) with the late, great Preston

“His Eminence” Greaves (right, in jacket) with the late, great Preston

4.The round acknowledges no discrimination. All players, regardless of sex, age or social status, are expected to “stand their corner”. (Pedants might like to note that we are talking here of the only “round” in the English language that also contains a “corner”.

5.Any new entrant, joining the session after its inception, is not expected to “buy himself in” but should be invited to join the round by whoever is in the chair (see Rule 2). If, however, he is greeted by silence he may either (a) buy a drink just for himself or (b) attempt to buy a round for all present. If (a) or, worse still, (b) is not acceptable to the congregation then the new entrant has been snubbed and should in future seek out more appreciative company. There is one important exception…

6.For reasons of haste or poverty, a new arrival may insist on buying his own with the words “Thanks, but I’m only popping in for one”. If he is then seen to buy more than three drinks, he will be deemed a skinflint, neither broke nor in a hurry to get home, and will be penalised for his duplicity by being ordered to buy the next round.

7.Although everyone in the group is normally required to buy at least one round before leaving, the advent of either drunkenness or closing time sometimes renders this ideal unattainable. In such circumstances, any non-paying participant will (a) have “got away with it” and (b) appoint himself “opener” at the next forgathering. However, any player who notices on arrival that the round has “got out of hand” and has no chance of reaching his turn before “the last bell”, may start a “breakaway round” by buying a drink for himself and all subsequent arrivals. This stratagem breaks the round in two, keeps the cost within manageable proportions and is the only acceptable alternative to Rule 5.

8.When a pressing engagement elsewhere precludes further involvement, it is wholly unacceptable for any player who has not yet been in the chair to buy a round in which he cannot himself be included. In such circumstances Rule 7 (a) and (b) therefore apply.

9.In the event of any one glass becoming empty, a new round must be called immediately. This should not necessarily be called by the owner of the empty glass, however, because this place the slower drinker at an unfair fund-saving advantage. (N.B. Whereas it is permissible for any member of the round to decrease the capacity of his individual order – “just a half for me, please” – the opposite does not hold good. A large whisky, for instance, may be offered by the chair but never demanded of it.)

10.Regional variations. In various parts of the country, a particular establishment will impose its own individual codicil. In one Yorkshire pub, for example, the landlord’s Jack Russell terrier expects to be included in every round. Where such amendments exist, and are properly advertised, they must be piously observed. We are, after all, talking about a religion.

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Misty Water-Coloured Memories of the Way We Was


If you ever need proof that there was, indeed, a God, you need look no further than the fascinating news story that they have unearthed a couple of very early episodes of Dr Who, which up to now had been presumed lost. Wiped. Erased. They had ceased to be. Bereft of life, they rested in peace. After transmission, the intelligentsia at the BBC decided (and, let’s face it, who could argue with them in this instance) that all traces of performances by Fraser Hinds — he of Emmerdale Farm fame— should be deleted, destroyed and copied over with episodes of Pogles’ Wood. They needed the space and this sort of tosh should make way for future, quality programing — say, Michael Bentine‘s Potty Time (it meant something different then than it does now).

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Clue: Front row, brown patterned socks, open crotch.

Sadly, copies of the offending articles were unearthed in Guinea-Bissau, or somesuch place. So the geeks and the gits of the Dr Who Brethren can sit there, cup-a-soup cradled in hand, and relive 1960s shite telly. 14 minutes of badly-restored cardboard theatre and wooden actors, but which nevertheless get us ready for the next series of BBC World’s Syndication Sensation, adverts and all. Having turned 34-and-bit yesterday, I am old enough to remember when Dr Who, Blake Seven and The Brothers were all we had to watch if we didn’t want to go and play with weird uncle Colin and his ‘finger puppets’ in the garden. No Sky TV or ITV8 for us, but at least the BBC was commercial-free and still employed professional entertainers and real journalists. (Come Dancing and David Icke apart).

(As an aside there is a house down my road which the inhabitants have hilariously named “Gallifrey” — I kid you not— complete with name plaque. I got a wee bit tiddly last night and The Incumbent had to pull me away as we walked past, lest I piddled in the garden and over the sign).

Isn’t it uncanny (if not astounding), that every time there is a new Dr Who Series in the offing, someone in Ulaanbaatar unearths an episode starring Patrick Troughton or Jon Pertwee or the like (odd that that they always leave the shows starring Sylvester McCoy buried in the attic)? Just when your mind wanders off the subject, the BBC ‘news’ announced someone’s found Tom Baker’s “original” scarf, or Paul McGann’s  long lost “talent”.  If you’ve ever watched The BBC DailyMailBreakfast Show, you’ll know what I mean: New Series Advert Masquerades as News Item. Every single sodding morning. We sit there and take it all in, like The Emperors New Clothes or the new Petshop Boys Single. I predict a riot. Some day.

dgsrugby

Rare image depicting The 1978 Dartford Hair Parting Famine. U13s Purdey Appreciation XV. Clue: Front row, early signs of obesity, small boy at side, open crotch

When I had a proper job, (they used to pay me to look at snaps, pix, photographs— ART , darling!) every 4.6 months someone would offer me snaps “never before seen” of Marilyn Monroe; Every 5 weeks I’d be shown a “new and exciting” set of pics of 1950 cars, still being used as Taxis in Havana, Cuba. But to be fair (and I’m nothing but fair) these monkeys  sorry, photographers, were only trying to earn a living. They were not to know they were the 73rd to offer the exact same thing. I’ve been offered a black & white set of images of an empty supermarket, shot in the name of “art” (I didn’t buy it), and worse was even asked once by a supposed journalist (I do hope to God she no longer exists in this space/time continuum) for “all the great photos of Diana that have never been published”. Honest, that’s what she asked me to find.  I have witnesses. She had a million ideas like this. The same person asked for a photo of “a woman breathing”. Oh ! and of a woman/model “who looks older than she actually is”. Think about that one for a while. She outlasted me at the paper.

I won’t say her name, cos it would embarrass her. Or maybe it wouldn’t. So thank, you Corinna Honan for years of chuckles over those, and all your other hilarious requests [subs- can someone edit this name out before it goes to print please. thanks] . I’ve just Googled her. She works for The Daily Mail !  Ha !  You couldn’t write this stuff. Even though I just have.

So in the spirit of not having anything to say, anything to advertise or promote (although, I do know of a sensational shop which has a thousand of ideas for Christmas gifts for all the family. More on that, here, after 9 o’clock. Now here’s Carol with an awfully bad guess at the weather) I thought I’d show you, as my 34th Birthday gift to you, from me, these two completely irrelevant photos, recently unearthed by experts in Dartford, Kent, and published today by me in Dartford…er…Kent. No angle, nothing to promote. I just found em.

Just thought I’d show them to you. Let this be a warning to younger readers. Say no to Guinness and Ginsters Pasties (whether they are made by Dwarfs, or otherwise). Resist the temptations of Tesco’s Trifle and Scrumpy Jack. Look how gorgeous I was and how I’ve ended up.

The end.

Now here’s an advert.

PoliceBox

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.

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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.

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“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.

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Absinthe Friends


trevor Roberts Beer

Pictured during the Sharp Single’s 4th Anniversary Celebrations, held at the Huhne & Gove Wine Bar, Sidcup. Mr P de Paris drinks from a glass-blown replica of the legendary ‘Nose of  Heckler’.  Interpol are distributing a description of the jacket to all schools, hospitals and border agencies. Photo—Bing Indisheaves.