Up in Smoke


Since my little episode in the summer – when I hit the deck like the GB’s baton in the 400m relay – I’ve been like the Olympic Flame: never going out. Well, hardly ever. But “hardly ever going out” isn’t the end of one of my favourite jokes, so we’ll make do with never going out. Ok?

The route for the Olympic Torch has been announced this morning and, for better or worse, the good people or Dartford won’t be within either a javelin or a stone’s-throwing range of the runners and the flame. Good thing really cos The Incumbent has been practicing her aim with both. If a procession of tracksuit-clad locals and micro-celebrities were to jog past the Potting Shed, a violent salvo of objects, once destined for eBay, would be launched in their general direction. She may manage to cop someone of the stature of a Floella Benjamin or a Jim Davidson around the earhole with an old ornament, causing considerable damage.  But you can never be too sure of a direct hit, so it’s best the entourage stays well away from the neighbourhood.

Since we failed to secure even a single child’s ticket for the egg-and-spoon race, the London 2012 experience is not one to be enjoyed in our house. Coupled with my failure to get a job with the Olympic organization’s photo-team, mention of The Games is strictly verboten around here. (Although we are only assuming I didn’t get the job, me having not received a single word either way from the interviewers. Rude fvckers.)

Whenever there’s a news item about next year’s event, or Seb Coe’s beaming face appears on tv, the station is immediately switched off or over – even if it means watching another autopsy on Channel 4 (have they not got any other ideas?). The whole shambles/con (delete where applicable) over the ‘legacy’ and the football stadia, and the ‘affordable housing’ and the ticket prices has really left a nasty taste in the mouth, so we won’t be joining in the fun, if you don’t mind (I bet that’s come as a shock to you, hasn’t it?)

So no runners past the Potting Shed. No cheering-on of the torch by the farmhands. The locals at The Berchtesgaden Arms will not have the chance to wave the flag of St George in celebration of the flame’s progress. They’ll have to save their celebratory bender and Sieg Heil session until the Stephen Lawrence accused get off again.

Casting a cursory glance at the route I think I notice the joggers won’t be taking the torch around neither Tottenham nor Croydon. Probably for the best, I suppose. I think they’ve had enough of flames for a while. That bloke in the furniture shop has only just sat down after giving all those emotional news interviews. It’d be nice to give him a rest for a while.

While we’re on fire-related moans and groans: Can’t we now take this opportunity to ban fireworks altogether? It’s too early to know what really caused the horrors on the M5 at the weekend, but can we not make use of the suspicion by outlawing bonfires and fireworks once and for all? If we can prove they are harmful to the environment, I’d gladly reinforce my immaculate green-credentials in an effort to rid us all of the noise, the smoke and the smell.

It used to be that you’d only see and hear these bloody things on, or around November 5th.  In 1605 Guy (Guido) Fawkes and a bunch of his catholic mates tried to blow up Parliament. He got caught and the ‘gunpowder plot’ failed. We’ve been celebrating his capture/mourning his failure (delete where applicable) ever since. All well and good, I suppose. Most countries have a yearly festival or celebration day when the fireworks are rolled out. The French have Bastille Day, the day every year they give thanks for not being invaded by the Germans (again). Then there’s the 4th of July, commemorated by Brits the world over as the day we finally let the yanks out in the world on their own. A bit like sending an annoying spotty teenager off to college and getting the box room back. Years later he returns, now owning IBM and degree in shooting people, but the peace and quiet was nice while it lasted.

I digress.

But now we not only have to start dodging rockets and catherine wheels around 5th November, but we now have to listen to them over Christmas, New Year, Easter, Yom Kippur, Epiphany, Lent, Diwali, the  X-Factor results, Downton Abbey finales, in fact any and every single celebration that someone somewhere feels they need to enjoy. I’m all in favour of a multicultural, multi-faith country where all are welcomed and encouraged to live as diverse and existence as is possible. But why-oh-why-oh-daily-mail do all these festivities have to come with sodding fireworks ? Maurice, the rather nervous dog next door has shellshock – they now feed him on valium and St John’s Wort. There’s a pall of smoke hanging over the lower paddock, making it look like Kabul after the big beardy naughty boys have been about.

They banned smoking on the top deck of a bus and the left hand side of the cinema; they stopped us from riding a motorcycle without a helmet; had an amnesty on handguns; they even banned Tom&Jerry from my tv (presumably to make room for a series on human dissection on Channel 4). Surely there’s a decent case to be made against these rockets and missiles which kill, harm, mutilate and maim so many every year ? I have nothing against blowing up parliament, and happy to raise a glass to the Guido and his mates for having a pop at it. But is blowing up each other, distressing our pets and covering motorways with thick smoke really the way forward ? What if we restrict it to one huge re-enactment every year, underneath parliament, using live ammo. And hope for the best ?

Or the worst. (delete where applicable).

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A Short Moving Tale


This one is true.

My main preoccupation over the past few weeks has been knocking Railway Cuttings into shape in preparation for viewings by prospective tenants. The floors have been scrubbed, the electrics have been fixed, checked and double-checked and anything that needed mending, sticking or nailing down has been mended, stuck and nailed down. Short of a once-over with the roller and whitewash the old place is looking as near as damn it perfect. I’d rent it myself, if I didn’t already own it. Shame really, but them’s the breaks. Times are tough and needs must etc etc. The Potting Shed awaits and with the fiscal climate the way it is, moving home is the best way forward.  And as my mates Dave, Nick and Gideon never tire of telling me: We’re all in this together.

This photo has nothing to do with this story. It’s merely to remind you of your enemy. (Osborne is 2nd from right)

Thus far I’ve had 3 couples come to look at the property. The first people were very pleasant indeed. An Asian (possibly Indian) couple who looked over the place, upstairs and down, asked all the right questions, smiled, left and were never heard of again. A little bit of me wanted them to be the ones who rented my house, but I suppose I was just being a little optimistic to rent it out to the first people to come along. And anyway (I told myself later) if the first viewers had said they wanted it I would have kicked myself cos I was obviously asking far too little in rent. It’s like putting a treasured item on eBay, spending an angst-ridden hour deciding carefully on the reserve, then some git swoops in and buys it for the price you asked for. Shit.

Anyway. For a week or two no-one else rang to express any interest in my little place and so now I’m thinking I’m asking too much for the place. Shit shit. I looked online to see what the going rate for a Railway Cutting was, but it seems I’m in a bit of a niche market. It seemed that whatever the price, too high or too low, I wasn’t getting out of here in a hurry.

Then, just before Christmas, some good news. My letting agent told me that he had a couple who really liked what they saw in the ad and wanted to come by and see it the following day. Great ! It was the last business day before the holiday, but that was no problem. The place had a nice Christmassy feel about it. I had a quick hoover round, made myself a cup of coffee (they tell me the smell of fresh coffee is attractive to home-seekers) and settled down in front of Film4 to wait for the potentials to arrive. An hour or so later the doorbell rang. Up I jumped and went to the door to let them in.
“Hello, we’ve come to see the house. The letting agent sent us”
“Oh…..er…hi”. I was blushing. “Just give me two secs will you?”
I sprinted back into the lounge in search of the tv remote. I’d been watching Tora Tora Tora which in a snap judgement I decided wasn’t going to go down well with the two Japanese people on my doorstep. Remote found, crisis averted. They were very nice people too. Though they spent less than ten minutes looking around, and I pretty much knew the house wasn’t for them. But I was content in the knowledge at least I hadn’t upset them with my tv viewing habits. (And before you ask, yes I may be ignorant enough to misjudge their ethnicity but I wasn’t taking any chances.)

Christmas came and went and I was fretting about changing the price of the rent (either up or down) when today, out of the blue, the phone went. It was the agent telling me they had a couple in the office who wanted to come round right away to look at the house. I ran a duster and the mop and bucket around as well as I could, but within minutes the new viewers were at my door.

As I greeted them on the threshold they shook my hand and introduced themselves.
“Hello, I’m Tomas” he said in a thick european accent. “Hi there, I’m Mike”
“Hello I’m Christianne” said the woman”
“Mike. Please, go on through”. Hmmm… Germans, I thought, how very cosmopolitan of me.

We walked through to the lounge, and only then did I remember what I’d been watching on telly. There in full view of all three of us was a particularly lavish battle scene from The Longest Day, blaring out of my tv in the corner of the room. I gave an internal shriek and bounded between them to push the off button on the remote. I’m not sure how much they saw, and I don’t even know if they cared. But I did and I do.

Tomas and Christianne were very nice indeed, and I hope I hear from them again. I have another couple coming round tomorrow. Before they arrive I’ll just ensure ITV isn’t showing The Last of the Mohicans. Well you never know do you?

.

KimAd

Anatevka


So we’re making progress. The advert is in and the dustman are on steroids.  The house has never look tidier although, to be honest, that’s no great boast. But everything is heading in the right direction, if not quite at ramming speed, then at a very jaunty pace.

As you know, Railway Cuttings is to be put up for rent as the company,  Sharp Single International Holdings (UK Ltd) seeks to consolidate its position in the market. Last week the agent came round to assess the estate. It’s a nervous time, renting your house. Will other people see it as you do ? Will they ignore all the little imperfections and those little-jobs-you-were-going-to-get-around-to-but-never-managed-to ? The door to the barn is hanging off its hinges and the mock tudor gabling atop of the east wing still needs attention for a touch of rot, but otherwise my man was quite impressed.

The drainage in the lower field is still a problem, but only the keenest of eyes would spot it. Seven of the nine bedrooms are in excellent order, he said, and of other two he said the fact that one contains a gin distilling apparatus and the other a bowling machine with practise net shouldn’t be too off-putting to prospective tenants.

“You never know, Mr B,” he chuckled “we might find an alcoholic cricket nut?”
“I doubt if there’s another one in the area” I sighed.

The duck house was, he thought, a rather charming feature and once the moat and the gravel drive had had a little de-clagging then he couldn’t see any reason why the property shouldn’t fly off the shelf. He took a couple of snaps and left me to my chores, while he contacted Country Life to negotiate an acceptable rate for a display ad, hopefully opposite the Girl with Pearls. He’s suggested putting an advert in House and Hound but I thought that would be just a little pretentious.

OscarAdvert

So for the worst part of a week now that’s what I’ve been doing : de-clagging. I read somewhere that to make your house more attractive to buyers you should remove every third item from the shelves, bookcases and kitchen. Apparently it gives the impression of space and cleanliness, a minimalist look that’s so popular these days. Hmmm ok.  I decided that I’d remove every other item on show. I’m moving out anyway so the more I remove now the less work for me later on.

Out went the stack of old newspapers I’d been keeping “just in case” (you remember newspapers, right?). Off the walls came the hat collection, gathered from around the world and my travels on eBay, and hung on hooks to cover unsightly marks, scratches or stains. But I did need to keep something on the walls – to make it look lived-in and homely- so I left hanging my display of memorabilia from the 1947 Cup Final – Charlton Athletic 1-0 Burnely (aet)- and my framed Derek Underwood jockstrap.

Hidden from sight was the, now I come to look at it, worrying-looking collection of exotic, once opened booze bottles – the type that you have a crack at late on Boxing Day when there’s nothing else left (and then hurriedly replace the stopper): Greek gin, Spanish vodka and Japanese scotch, Pink Cloves, Jamaican ouzo and grappa. Some of it donated to the cause over the years, and some collected by myself at some time, somewhere and in a some heightened state of optimism that it’d taste just as delicious as it did when that dodgy waiter served it to me during that summer holiday all those years ago. No, the bottles definitely had to be put away. Not disposed of, you understand, just hidden. Well, you never know, do you?

Some of this stuff MUST be drinkable

The first swoop through the house was pretty successful, if a little tiresome and depressing. Thanks to staying up all hours to watch the Ashes cricket in Australia (you knew I’d get to it in the end, didn’t you ?) I’ve been suffering from sleep deprivation and there are early signs of exhaustion. Usually the English are so piss-poor that after the first match I could ignore the rest of the series, but it seems that the Aussies are rather less than average this time out so I fear I shall feel like this for the next 6 weeks.

So I wasn’t in the best of condition to lug dirty great bags of rubbish to-and-from the attic to the rubbish bin outside. Poor bloody dustmen. I trudged through the house carrying two bin-liners: one for stuff for the tip, the other for eBay (they’re pretty much interchangeable), in my semi-conscious state dreaming of Australian wickets to the soundtrack of Fiddler on the Roof. I snapped myself out of my malaise. It’s not as if the Tsar’s Cossacks are running me out of my little dwelling but the Tossacks from Natwest surely will if I don’t make other arrangements soon, so moving out before the bailiffs move in is by far the best plan of action.

But nevertheless I can’t say it made for happy work. When you systematically go through each and every item in your home you find yourself dwelling over the history of it and the enjoying memories for several minutes, before stuffing it into one bag or the other. Most bits you find, of course, turn out to be complete crap and something you haven’t thought about, let alone looked at for several years. It’s a time for that good clear-out you always promised yourself, but it’s still a less-than satisfying thing to do, if for no other reason that you realise just how much useless shite you’ve accumulated over the years.

The exciting news, of course, is that the new property is taking shape. The Incumbent is, as I write, overseeing work on The Sharp Single’s new HQ down in the pretty little hamlet of Dartford. Unfortunately somehow we managed to hire the firm of Hamza and Hawking to carry out the refurbishments of the new offices and they are less than perfect. If you poke your head out of the window and listen hard you may be able to hear the squeals of pain as The Incumbent inserts a spirit level into Mr Hawking.  The Incumbent doesn’t suffer fools gladly (she makes allowances for me, bless her) and these cowboy builders obviously didn’t realise there was a new Sheriff in town. If by the end of the day they’re not strung up by their plumb-lines I shall be very surprised.

For those of you who don’t know it, Dartford is in the heart of the county of Kent in the South East of England. Set amid rolling hills of fabulous English countryside, it is famous for The Peasants’ Revolt (tick), hop fields (tick tick) and for being the main escape route out of Essex (tickety tick tick).

Inshallah,  the 2011 Sharp Single will be published from its new premises, a huge purpose-built, neo-Georgian villa complete with billiards room, a nine-hole putting green and bar. From my desk (I’ve been allocated the potting shed) I shall enjoy the grand vistas of the oast houses, apple orchards and cement works of the surrounding area which some critics aren’t already calling the most exiting and up-and-coming town east of Erith. There is, of course, ample parking.

So now I sit and I wait for the phone to ring. I imagine in a week or two there will be a long queue forming outside of people eager to rent this undes-res. I envisage scenes akin to Shallow Grave as I carefully select my first tenants. It might be fun. It could be tortuous. It will be another story.

T’was Brillig


So now that the dust has settled, now that orders in Tennants Super and Economy Toilet roll are set to go through the roof, what does it all mean ? The answer is simple: I’m shagged if I know. Gorgeous Georgie Gideon Oswald, (sorry Osborne) Our Dave and their pet Yellow Toad have decided to transform the country into a scene from to Jabberwocky, full or peasants surfs and huge piles of shit, with a 5 groat consumption charge to enter the citadel (though the Sheriff of Bonkingham decided against extending it to the west of the castle) or maybe “Oliver Twist” where former benefit claimants hold out their bowl for some more gruel to Mr Bumble (brilliantly played by Eric Pickles) who promptly tells them to “fook off”.

Personally, I’m a tad miffed that it now seems I’m to be unemployed until I’m 66, rather than 65. Oh well, you know me: mustn’t grumble. If I were French I’d be running up and down with a flare and a megaphone, knocking kepis of coppers bonces. Being British I’ll probably put the kettle on, make a nice cup of tea and see what that nice Nick Robinson has to say. It’s fair to say this former President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, ex-national chairman of the Young Conservatives, alleged Bullingdon Club member and now BBC Political Editor has done a just frankly spiffing job selling the cuts to a watching nation. And he’s hardly burst into laughter once. Well done him. When his BBC career is over he can always get himself a job on Fox News.

But however nasty Nick spins it, there’s something rotten in Denmark Hill and throughout the kingdom. The natives are revolting. Even Boris Johnson has likened the (sorry his) government’s crackdown on housing benefits for the poorest of families to ethnic cleansing. Gideon and Dave were furious. The foie gras hit the aircon but Bonkers Bonking Boris stuck to his guns. You know you’re in trouble when the Bullingdon boys start falling out. Funny, but I thought we were all in this together ? Shooting sticks and hacking jackets at twelve paces, m’lud ?

Over in Lala Land, the guvnors at The World’s Worst Airline reckon their poor passengers are getting a rotten deal. All those security checks at the airport are putting people off. Fancy asking us to take off our shoes for inspection before boarding. Whoever heard of a shoebomber ?? They’ll be asking to check our pants and printer cartridges next ! BA boss Willie Walsh also had the onion out of his handbag over the increase to Passenger Duty. “It’s unfair to our customers” was the cry. Well maybe. You could always swallow the increase, Willie.

I’d have a little more sympathy with airlines in general, and BA in particular, if their prices weren’t so high anyway, their service so shite and their guvnor such a miserable, soulless, swindling arsehole. BA have a long proud history of unfair business practice, dirty-tricks campaigns (ah! who can forget dear old Lord King?) and fisting both customers and employees whenever and however possible.

Do you get the feeling that if Willie and Louis Walsh swapped places none of us would be any the wiser? One more complete cnut on the X Factor wouldn’t notice, and think of the fun the new BA boss would have with the cabin crew during the next round of union negotiations. We’d have to throw a bucket of water over them.

Am I sounding more miserable than usual ? Well maybe. Times are tough at the moment. My regular reader in Cheltenham will realise the pictures are coming down in Railway Cuttings as the long process of making the place habitable for others begins. Calculations and ruminations over how and how much to rent out HQ will continue all week. Walls will be painted, the garden given a tidy and that suspicious-looking patch on the wall will have to be covered up. Furnished or unfurnished is just one of many questions I need to ask myself. It’d be great just to walk out and leave everything where it is. It’s gonna be a pain shipping out all the junk one collects over a few years. If I could be arsed I’d put my dvd collection on eBay. If I could be arsed. The booze collection will come with me, what’s left of it, as will the many, many unread books on the shelves.

Once the place looks vaguely decent I’ll need to decide whether to use an estate agent or go it alone. As appalling as my business acumen is, as disorganised as I am and no matter how little I know about renting out a house I can’t bring myself to deal with estate agents. I’ve not had that much luck with them in the past. I once offered to insert a FOR SALE placard into one bloke who I caught trying to drive the sign into my lawn after I’d agreed to let him sell it for me. On another occasion fisticuffs nearly broke out over a penthouse flat in Deptford. We had differed over the description of the flat he was trying to sell me. It was somewhere between “Immaculate”, as described in his literature, and a “Shit Pit” as described by me. So I’m gonna have a go on my own and see how I get on. Lots of pals who’ve been down this route are offering help and advice, so what could possibly go wrong?

So excuse the absence of my usual joie de vivre at the moment, I’ve just got a few things on my mind. Everyone has their off-days/weeks/months and this happens to be one of mine.

Mind you, compared to Ian Holloway I’m positively brimming with hilarity. You’ll know Mr Holloway is a firm favourite around here, responsible for some of the more memorable and hilarious footy quotes of recent times. But last week during the Wayne Rooney saga, things had obviously started to get on top of the normally jovial Mr Holloway.

I hope my house doesn’t toddle-off and do what it likes. I own it !! HOW WRONG IS THAT ?????

False Tooth Economy


Ok, I had better start planning. As much as I’m enjoying a rare three-day weekend (somehow they’ve given me Bank Holiday Monday off), there’s no getting away from the fact that, come Friday, I’m gonna be unemployed…er, I mean freelance. Things have gotta change, and they’ve gotta change fast. The Incumbent is busy going through the house and sticking half of it up for sale on eBay, and I’ve started cutting down on essential items.

I reckon if I cut down on luxuries, such as food, I can still afford beer and cable tv. There is, after all, a World Cup and a couple of Test series to watch this summer. The veg and herb patch is coming along nicely, but it’ll be a few weeks off before I can start harvesting the beetroot, onions, and chillies, so I’ll have to make do with what’s already in the cupboards.

When we went to the supermarket yesterday for what could be the last monthly shop for a long time, try as I might, I couldn’t bring myself to put in the trolley ‘value mince’ or ‘economy sausages’. Lord alone knows what goes into such products, but I’d rather starve than find myself sucking on the toenails and nostrils or some generic beast the next time I make a chilli. I have a crown which has come loose in the back of my mouth. I’ve been holding out in the hope that it gets..er..better.. but you can bet your life that chewing on an economy banger is a one-way ticket to the dentist, at best. At worst it’ll end up in me sitting in trap one waiting for nature to take it’s course. I’ll then, of course, have to go through the motions.

The booze cupboard has been subject to more scrutiny than usual. There are bottles of stuff in there which I’ve been given or picked up over the years and which, in normal circumstances, I wouldn’t touch with yours. However, with a month of footy upcoming, and funds bound to be a bit squeaky, that bottle of Ouzo is looking quite appetising, as is the Bols. Have asked The Incumbent to remove the litre of Absynth lest I get a taste and start imagining England can actually win the competition.

As I write this, our fine boys are struggling to beat the titans of Japan. We’ve seen it all before. The billionaires of the English league, being shown how to play by men a lot poorer than they , and a good deal shorter to boot. Ferdinand suffering from occasional bouts of consciousness, John Terry looking like his mind’s elsewhere (probably wondering where he left his underpants) and Wayne’s getting a bit niggly with the oppo. Again.

Even Fabio is picking a fight with the Japanese manager, though in which language I know not. Young Frank has missed a penalty, and the Japanese have gifted us two own goals, one of them a brilliant header by the defender who flew in like a Zero pilot with a death wish. The crowd is comatose and I don’t blame them. I can’t watch this bag of shite for a month. It’s like pulling teeth — even loose false ones.

Oh god, now he’s brought on Heskey.

ebayadvert2.

It Is Written


Predictions.

When crap journalists can think of nothing else to write about, and editors have nothing sexy with which to fill their pages, we are left with long and exhausting lists of predictions for the coming year. Here at The Sharp Single things are no different. So read this and you need not read another til, ooh, next week I should imagine.

2010 and all that.

In January David Tennant becomes Dir Gen of the BBC, narrowly edging out the twin-bid from Mathew Horne and James Corden. It’s believed that the board said they didn’t want too much hilarity during important meetings, and yet they still plump for Tennant. Peter Andre marries himself. Katie Price explodes. Her life has gone tits-up.

The recession ends in February. Then it starts again a week later for those of us under £150,000-a-year when the government raises income tax to pay for a Champagne and Crayfish bar at the 2012 Olympic Equestrian stadium.
Following another attempted rectum-launched terrorist attack on an airliner, all passengers are now asked to remove their underpants through customs. John Prescott and Amy Winehouse are exempt. In the third week of February, due to an administrative error there is no sale on at DFS. Early march sees Hazel Blears join the Tory Party, and Peter Mandelson join the Brownies. Boris will say nothing sensible or vaguely relevant all year.
I lose 20 lbs by the end of March, in preparation to put on 25 by late June. In an astonishing turn of events, Jude Law continues to receive offers of work. In April, a virulent strain of Gnu Flu sweeps through Fleet Street and Sky News studios. Some people are almost likely to very probably have a tickly throat. The epidemic is expected to last until a proper news story breaks.

A Briton wins the first seven races in the F1 Championship. Meanwhile, in sport, Chelsea win the Premiere League by one point from Arsenal when, in the Blues last game three late deflected off-side penalties are allowed by the ref, a Mr S.Wonder, apparently. (By the end of the year, each match will be officiated by 7 refs, 2 linesmen, a sheepdog and The Met Police.) Alex Ferguson is finally pickled and displayed in the Man Utd museum for all eternity. United appoint Victoria Beckham as their new coach.

Gordon Brown loses the election and takes his seat in the upper chamber as Lord Thankgoditsallover. Fox hunting is re-legalised by the new Tory Government, as is hanging, public masturbation and child chimney-sweeps. Charlton Athletic make the play-offs only to lose to Millwall, 3 fan deaths to 1 (Duckworth/Lewis method).
In late May, the newly-appointed Minister for War, Mr Liam Fox, announces the Government’s new big push in Afghanistan. Plans are made to enlist every first-born child from labour-voting households (that’ll teach ’em). June 16th, fifty-three women in Florida, California and St Andrews simultaneously give birth to babies of mixed-race and a smashing set of choppers. The women, all blonde, rather soiled-looking, hotel cloakroom attendants immediately sign contracts with The Mail on Sunday. Gillette sales plummet. Or soar. July 21st, a string bag full of lemons is seen being delivered to The Crown public house, Blackheath. But no ice.
By the beginning of August, after a summer of riots and general discontent, Police officers are allowed to carry machetes while on crowd-control duties. All fingerprints and DNA of police officers are removed from the system, to be replaced by those of mortgage-defaulters and lollipop ladies.
Brazil win the World Cup. By now, England have already been roasted by the West Germans, Capello is poached by Portugal and grilled by the press. Then he goes and gets smashed.
Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is seen urinating up against the Grace Gates at Lords after a particularly convivial lunch during the One Day International vrs Australia. The press dub it ‘Gategate’.
In late September after a ‘leaked’ press release it is widely reported that this year’s must-have toy for Christmas will be Mattel’s Stoat Family Fortunes (David Tennant Edition). A week later all stocks are sold out. Individual members of the Stoat family change hands on eBay for up to £300, except the very popular ‘Piper Stoat’ which you can’t get for love nor money.

In October I turn 40 years old for the seventh time running. Later that month armed police from the crack ‘Arrest Innocent People Squad’ raid a flat believed to be the HQ of a sleeper cell of Al Qaeda, responsible for the alleged underpants plot earlier in the year. Yet again, their information is found to be shoddy: Having forced their way into the premises, all they find is a derelict, uninhabited shit-hole, of no use or interest to man nor beast. And that’s not this years’ only connection with Wales: After a particularly wet autumn at Celtic Manor Golf Club, play is suspended during the foursomes on the opening day of The Ryder Cup when US player Stewart Cink’s caddy is tragically drowned while replacing a divot. Organisers pledge never to attempt to hold the event in Wales again, at any time of the year.
November 2nd and the Google Street View van finally visits my street, when it catches me stealing my next door neighbour’s wheelie bin, to replace mine which was stolen the week before
Thursday Nov 25th, Brisbane: Australia finish the first day of the first Ashes test on 431-1 (Ponting 230no, Katich 125no. Swann 1-250). Ian Botham arrested pending inquiries into an alleged incident in the bar afterwards which leaves 6 members of the Aussie press corps needing treatment. Four (empty) cases of Shiraz and a cricket stump are bagged and sent to forenics.

December: Keith Harris and Orville win Strictly Come Dancing, beating Clare Balding in the final, watched by 48 million catatonic viewers. On a visit by my children, mid-month, I resume the mantle of ‘Best Dad in the World’ – the first time I’ve held the title in 12 months. Their Christmas lists are then handed to me.
On Dec 23rd, a new supply of Piper Stoats arrive on the docks in Liverpool. Massive queues form and14 people are crushed in the ensuing riot when it’s announced sales are limited to one buyer each. Dec 29th: Mattel recall all sets of Stoat Family Fortunes due to a massive, dangerous design fault. Hundreds have been maimed by Piper’s sharp protruding teeth. Richard Branson makes an aggressive takeover bid for the company. Awaiting details of the photocall.

Happy 2011 to both of you

.

Boracic Park


I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need, provided I die by four o’clock this afternoon. I wish I’d said that. Actually it’s a old joke told by comedian Henny Youngman, but I know exactly what he meant. I’ve always been skint. It doesn’t matter how much I’m earning, what the economic climate is, or how good I’ve been in any given month, I’ve always been skint. Like most of us, I drink and eat my way through 10% more money each month than goes into my bank account. Towards the end of every month I start making plans and forming strategies on either how I’m gonna make it til next payday, which card I’m gonna use to pay for that meal/trip/suit/beer and/or what lie I’m gonna tell the bank manager when he makes his regular threatening call.

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All of these plans are, of course, bollox and never work, so inevitably I drift ever-further into debt month-by-month as I ply my King Cnut-like efforts to ward off the bailiffs until “that christmas bonus” (that’s one for our older readers) comes along and saves me. What a silly cnut! The age of bonuses and proper pay-rises (at least in this neck-of-the-woods) is long-gone, and just like a Labour election victory or an exciting Grand Prix, I doubt if I’ll see another one in my lifetime.

As I head towards my last pay-cheque from my current employer (we’re paid in advance) and await the first from my next (they pay in arrears) I dawns on me that next month could be a disaster, even by my fiscal fuck-up standards. There’s a voice in the back of my head telling me that I might get away with not getting the traditional bollocking from NatWest because everyone is feeling the pinch and they’ll take pity on me. The UK economy shrank by its worst rate in half a century. So did mine !! Will the bank manager excuse my ever-increasing overdraft? Fat chance. There’s another voice telling me to drink myself into oblivion and forget how potless I am. Hmmmm…. tempting.

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But it’s true: everyone is feeling the pinch. I read with interest this morning that HRH Queenie is in such dire a financial mess that she’ll be forced to eat the corgis by 2012. The government too, we’re told, can’t afford to build aircraft carriers (but they’re going to anyway) or buy the new Trident nuclear missile system (ditto). One thing’s for sure, the way that Brown and Cameron are swinging at each other over cuts, cum the next election we are all of us going to be worse off, as will be our schools, hospitals and local services— whoever gets in— but at least we can enjoy our shiny new weapons which they’ve bought with our money.

If you were feeling a bit flush earlier on in the year, doubtless you would have invested a couple of quid in Michael Jackson tickets. That was a waste of time, wasn’t it? However all is not lost: The promoters have come up with a brilliant idea: They can either give you your money back , or you don’t get your money back and they will send you the tickets you would have got— as a sort of momento ! They’ll look nice on your wall, even nicer on eBay. If all 800,000 of those who bought tickets take up this offer, the promoters AEG save paying out around £50m. Jacko is said to have owed around £100m and I’m not sure how much of the gate would go back to his estate, but the gold rush certainly seems to be well under way, thanks to his untimely demise. Ipod downloads of his back catalogue are at biblical proportions. It’s baffling.

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I’m not sure what the score is for those trying to recoup the money which they lost to Bernie Madoff, but yesterday he went down for 150 years. Is that fair? I dunno. Seems a bit steep and a tad unrealistic, but I’m sure those poor sods who he swindled will not give a toss. I suspect my bank manager is considering similar penalties for me if I don’t sort my act out . It’s alright for him, he hasn’t got to buy a round of sandwiches and several halves of lager for his leaving do. Who in their right mind holds a piss-up in the week before they get paid? I might offer to pay back my debt at £1 per-month for the next 150 years. I’m in a little recession all of my own. My GDP is in a slump. I have revised my figures and they still look bloody awful. There is still hope, however: the Royal Mint announced yesterday that there’s some 20p pieces out there without dates on them. If you find one, they’ll pay 50 quid for it. No great shakes, you might think, but someone on eBay has just sold one for over £5000 ! I just need to find ten of the buggers and I’m laughing!

But until I do, it’s my round. So what are you having? I’ve got 20 pence.

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