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The Brilliant Harold Ramis


Dr. Egon Spengler: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

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Another one bites the dust. RIP Harold Ramis.

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.

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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)

BLOUF*


Now regulars out there (and I trust at your age you are all pretty regular) will know that I am fascinated by language and its origins, development, and bastardisation, mainly by chaps from The Colonies. There is nothing I enjoy more than a quick session of word derivation, a look into Cock-er-ney rhyming slang, or the dialects of Scotchmen (formerly of this parish). Having sat through last weekend’s BAFTAs, gleefully listening to Dame Stephen Fry freely giving the Americans an English lesson and, subsequently, watching Emma Thompson’s very best Joyce Grenfell impression, whilst correcting every syllable her colonist co-stars utter in Saving Mr Banks, it has confirmed to me that I was born, at the very least, 25 years too late.

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Or maybe 25 years too early. P.L.Tavers, and indeed Mr Fry would have had a field day correcting my English, my spelling and pronounciation. This paragraph alone would have had them weeing themselves with delight. But at least my poor English is done through ignorance, and not intentionally to desecrate our mother tongue. But no-one seems to care any more, at least in the generation.

The mere utterance of the word AWSOME, to describe anything from a solar eclipse, to a recent pop music recording, a brief bout of wind or even a a preprubescent fumbling leaves me longing for the comfort afforded to me by my old service revolver. I know it’s an American thing that, somehow, our yoof have adopted but that is no excuse. Leave the Awesomeness of every living thing, event and bodily function to the Vulgarians of Vermont and the Dullard of Delaware (I nearly said the Douches of Dakota, but that would involve another of my hated, and their over employed words). You’re on the phone all the fucking time, for fuck’s sake, so please google-up a thesaurus.

When I hear Cameron, Gideon, Bliar and the like talk about how awesome things appear to be, and that it makes them LOL or maybe PMSL —they never say that, but they would be AWSOME if they could— it makes me heave (archaic word meaning “to gag or vomit”) . Stop getting down wiv da kids. You went to Eton, for christ’s sake !.

So in the same vain, it is with glee that my very new friend Suzie M delivers this short list of text speak for those of us who should know better than to pretend to be young. I hit 50 soon and I can’t even see the keypad on my phone, let alone type. But when I can persuade The Incumbent Mrs B to text for me, I shall be using some or all of the following`;

ATD = At The Doctors,
BFF = Best Friends Funeral
BTW = Bring The Wheelchair
HGBM = Had Good Bowel Movement
WTL = Wheres The Lubricant
ISMSA = I’ve Shit Myself Again
WTFMT = Where’s The Fuck My Teeth

A couple of my own:

LOL: Leaked on Leg

ARSNRIRMA:  Allain Rolland should Never Referee an International Rugby Match Again.

and

*BLOUF— Boring Lonely Old Ugly Fucker. Archaic meaning “Former Bond Dealer now French Apple Grower”.

On the Ridiculous


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Noon GMT today.

Brrrring …Brrrrring…..  (that’s my phone impersonation again)

Brrrring …Brrrrring…..Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (it’s my mobile)
Brrrring …Brrrrring…..(I have one of those “retro” rings — same one as everybody else)
Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (so I never know if it’s my phone ringing— unless I’m alone)
Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (like this morning)
Brrrring …Brr- “Hello?”

‘Hello, Mr Bealing?’ a young female Geordie voice asked

“Speaking” an old male Estuary voice replied

“It’s Virgin Media here” she announced triumphantly

“hm-hmm” (I was less than impressed. Having dealt with the English-speaking world’s joint -2nd worst Customer Services** before, I  didn’t anticipate having too much fun here).

There was a slight pause, as if she was waiting for me to either shout ‘hooray’ or hang up. Once she’d established neither was about to happen, she continued.

“I’m calling you today to discuss improvements to your landline and to see if we can provide you with better value in the service we provide to you .”

“hm-hmm”

“Would you have five minutes at the moment ?”

“Of course, I’ve been desperate to talk to you” (that may have been a fib).

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Another pause while she considered the implications of this statement.

“Oh, ok, well before we start, could you confirm for me the first two characters of you Virgin Media password?”

“I have no idea what my Virgin Media password is, I’m afraid”

“Really?” she was clearly incredulous

Really?” I emphasised. It’s not something I use often. Oh I dunno try X.A.” (regular readers will remember the name of my first pet stoat)

“Ooh, I’m afraid that doesn’t correspond to the password I have here”

“”Oh No!” I was mortified. Ish.

“Would you like me to ask you other questions to confirm you identity ?”

“I know my identity”

“But I need to confirm it before we can proceed, sir”. I don’t think she shared my sense of humour.

“Ok, yes, of course, fire away”

“Good, so can you confirm the method by which you pay for your Virgin Media Services ?”

“Direct Debit”

“Yes, Correct”. I had answered a question correctly. The warm glow of pride inside me was immense. She continued, and I was on a roll,

“Now can you tell me the speed of the broadband service which you currently receive from Virgin Media.”

“Nope. I think it’s 30 ish. Or maybe 50. I know it’s about half the speed of what you lot reckon it is.”

“Er….no… that’s not quite right…so can you tell me the name of the TV package which you currently have with Virgin Media?”

“Ha !  No I can’t. No idea what you call them. I know I reduced it a month or so ago shortly after the Ashes ended. Erm…. Tall ? Grande? “

“Er, no, Mr Bealing, I’m afraid that is not the package you have with us, so I’m afraid as you’ve answered two questions incorrectly we cannot continue this conversation”

“Ok then” I tried unsuccessfully to sound disappointed. She was clearly crestfallen.

“I am really sorry, Mr Bealing, but I do need you to answer these questions of verification, otherwise I cannot help you.”

“But you called me?”

“Excuse me?”

“YOU called ME . On my mobile. For starters, why didn’t you call me on my landline? At least you’d know you were calling the right house? But I was going along fine, not aware that I needed anything Virgin Media-wise until you called me. I didn’t call YOU to ask for anything. YOU called ME ! “

“It’s a procedural thing, sir. We would have called your landline and received no answer so we called your cellphone.”

“Well no, you didn’t, but that’s by-the-by. You called me to sell me something. But because I don’t keep a note of a password I use once every other luna equinox, or know your code names for Television packages, you are prevented from selling me anything. Something wrong with your system, I reckon, don’t you?”

She’d begun to go all Westworld on my ass. “It’s a procedural thing, Mr Bealing. I need you to answer these questions of verification, otherwise I cannot help you.”

“Ok then. Byeee”. I pressed the Fuckoffthen button on my mobile. My legendarily long patience had suddenly deserted me. I was left to consider where I was before the phone call.

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Now where was I ?  Ah yes, writing a letter of complaint.

Dear Mr Branston…”

**Tied equal with RBS and Interflora, just behind the British National Party.

Customer Services


Having worked for and with more than my fair share of Americans, it always makes my blood boil when they carp on about the poor quality of British Customer Services: No Smiles; No Have a Nice Day Now Y’All Hears; No going the extra yards; No nuthin’.

So let’s put an end to the myth that us British have no idea how to treat the customer. Here’s evidence that things are improving, at least in the British Courier community:

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Makes you feel kinda proud. Even the dog at the door can’t believe it.

Missing You Already.

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Memories are Made of This.


Working from home, running one’s own highly successful clothing company gives one the access to the ample cash and leisure time necessary to be able to regularly treat the GLW to all the niceties of life and numerous nights out at the cinema to watch all this year’s Oscar-nominated movies in order to make up one’s own mind as to whose name should be revealed and the winners on the big night in Hollywood.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and you’ve got sod-all business coming your way,  you can make use of any two-for one offers on seats at the local Pictures and stick them on the ever-loving IBS credit card (and no, that’s not a typo). Or some might, I suppose, take advantage to the local hookie DVD-producer and settle down with the Missus on the couch with a bottle of Sainsbury’s own-brand vodka, a carton of orange and a tube of Pringles in front of a film which every 17.5 minutes flashes up the watermark “NOT FOR PUBLIC VIEWING. FOR ACADEMY APPROVAL ONLY).

I couldn’t bear that.

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So anyway, since we spoke on the subject last, we have managed to take in a few flicks, nominated or otherwise.  First up came Sunshine on Leith, a musical treat set in The People’s Republic of Claledonia and based, loosely around the music of The Proclaimers. Nothing bad to say about this one: it has the raw feel of The Commitments, the fun of Billy Elliot, the wit & grace of Alex Salmond (just kidding— I know those don’t exist) and the sensational soundtrack of Craig & Charlie Reid. This brought back so many happy memories for me. Not of Edinburgh (sorry, Embra), you understand—though I have spent many a wonderful wobbly weekend up there— but more clearly of the afternoon eight of us sat in a room attempting to rid a pal of a nasty ganglion on his finger.

There are many different treatments available in the NHS for the rid of these little buggers, and they were all considered at length. However we opted for the ‘patient’s’ wrist being held down by one of our group while others in the party took it in turns to— and apologies if this gents a bit to scientific and technical for you guys— whack the cyst with a copy of a Collins Dictionary (not the travel edition) or any other heavy volume or implement we could lay our hands on. As an anaesthetic we chose Red Stripe, Gordon’s (Green) and Smirnoff Blue (a bottle of which at one stage doubled as a ganglion-whacking tool).

To take the victi patient’s mind off of all this the record of choice was 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. It was played dozens and dozens and dozens of times, at full volume and right up to the cyst was treated/the police arrived/we all passed out (perm any 2 from 3).

The song is indelibly etched into my brain because of that afternoon and I cannot hear the song without recalling that particular afternoon. Unless I think of the time when a bunch of us went up to Shepherds Bush to a Proclaimers gig and, as the boys were singing 500 Miles, the bloke next to me was punching another geezer in the earhole, while a third was trying to insert a can of Tennents Lager into him. Carnage ensued.

Happy Days.

My trip down Livvery Lane was re-awakened as we next viewed The Wolf of Wall Street the other evening. Martin Scorcese’s Gordon Gecko-meets-Goodfellas epic (a movie lasting 3 hours means at least 2 pee breaks for me nowadays). This is again a fun movie, but not fun in the way you’d want to take your auntie Enid to watch it (unless auntie Enid is into cocaine abuse, foul language and group, anal sex. I know mine is.) Leonardo Dicaprio is nominated (in my house anyway) for The Best Jack Nicholson Impression since Heath Ledger played the Joker in Batman Award, which is not a criticism, I just prefer Jack playing Jack and Leo play Leo.

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The action is relentless, each scene filled with drunkenness, drug-taking orgies and the sort of behaviour that was banned from dealing rooms weeks ago. Many of the characters in the movie reminded me of my pals in the London markets whooping it up after a long hard slog in the City in the 1980s and 1990s. They worked hard and played hard. I was privileged to be invited along to many a booze-laced session of mayhem at some dive-bar or other in the square mile. They were generous to a fault and extremely welcoming, although unlike some of the players in this movie, none of those present in London ever offered to let me snort cocaine from their sphincter.

Praise be.

And so filled with warm, nostalgic,romantic glee, (as you know I always try to be), it was with some great anticipation that I settled down to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.   My parents were card-carrying members of the Dany Kaye Fan Club and I fondly remember several Sunday afternoons in front of the TV watching the original version of this classic movie, with the brilliant Kaye having my father in stitches and therefore, by extension, me in fits of laughter too. I spent more time laughing at Dad laughing at the telly that I did laughing at the telly itself. (also explains my love of Laurel & Hardy;Buster Keaton;Dad’s Army et al).

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And BOY! what memories came flooding back with this new offering from Ben Stiller. As beautiful as this movie looks, as thoughtfully directed as it is by Stiller the Director, as funny as is Stiller the Actor, as epic a journey as our hero embarks on, and as memorable a movie-going experience this is for, I’m sure, many people, it had the teeniest little flaw for me, and I suspect many like me:

Without trying to spoil the movie, (so look away now if you don’t want to read anything about it at all) or giving away the plot too much, or even reading too much into it: the movie opens and we find the titular character working in the Photo Department of LIFE Magazine in the Time Life building, New York. Ivy League 24 year-olds have decided that this Giant of a Magazine needs to be stripped to the bollocks, dispense with the services of a huge amount of staff and be replaced by an online version. What was once a world-respected publication, produced by brilliant journalists & photographers, decent people and experienced & loyal workers will soon be an App to be shred alongside Flappy Birds and Mailonline [aren’t these two the same thing?—Ed].

Walter is plagued by snooty fuckwits, hounding him about photos and even negatives— which they plainly know woefully little about— and who he regularly fantasises about beating to a pulp with his fists, or with dirty great lumps of concrete, or ripping their heads off, or throwing him off the building into the heavy London traffic below. I mean them.  I mean New York..

Seeing my shrink first thing in the morning.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY