That’s why the Editor is paid the Big Bucks.
So, in the immortal words of my old Night News Editor, as we progress “out of one shitty year, into another shitty year”, what have we learned ?
Well, we know that a 3-iron is as good at getting you at out of the rough as it is at getting your old man out of his Mercedes. Being 106 years old doesn’t preclude you from competing in international sport- as Tom Watson, Ryan Giggs and Kevin Poole have taught us (look him up!). Google Street View hasn’t become the burglars favourite tool, and they STILL haven’t been down my road.
All MP’s are wankers. Most are theives and crooks. I will never make a 50 in a competitive game of cricket. Or an uncompetitive one for that matter. Newcastle Utd and Man City are still big clubs. Apparently. I don’t want to go to work any more. There is far too much conversation in men’s toilets. It’s nearly time for me to win the Lottery (I’ll see you alright, don’t worry). Fat unattractive women can sing rather well. Rage Against the Machine can’t.
Michael Jackson didn’t die a natural death. Remember to hold that front page. We still haven’t a clue where Bin Laden is, but they’ve found the rest of his family. In general, I don’t like people. Policemen don’t like being photographed when they’re hitting people, but they do like kettles.Obama has been a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, but my poster I bought of him on ebay is not coming down. Life is better with Malcolm Tucker and without Hazel Blears
. Jade Goody will soon be beatified. Clare Balding should be. I’m not as fit as I should be, but about as fit as I thought I was. Ricky Ponting can’t win the Ashes in England., but he’ll manage it in Australia. F1 is still an interesting sport all the way up to the start of the race. Renault drivers are naughty boys. Blackheath still doesn’t have a decent boozer, but I’d like to think I contributed to the recent glut of lemons. Gordon Brown is still the PM of Great Britain (I can always Tipex that out if something happens before I go to press).
I’ve had a cold for 8 weeks in the last 52, and no matter how many channels you have to watch, there’s never anything decent on between car insurance adverts. IPL will ruin cricket as we know it. Football is already a shambles. It’s not the Chinese or the Indians, the carbon footprints or the motor cars: It’s the bankers who have fucked up the world. We want our money back.
It doesn’t matter how loathesome the BNP are, how ridiculous Nick Griffen was made to look on TV, there will STILL be stupid and nasty people who will vote for him at the polls next year. Andy Murray is a miserable bastard, but one day he’s gonna win something big. Apparently. When entering a Nepalese restaurant, plump for the mismas.
And the war won’t be over by Christmas. Or even next Christmas. Turns out they lied to us. But we knew that already, didn’t we?
May all your Christmas’s be white, and all your doughnuts turn out like fannies.
As the great Sir Terrence Wogan once said: Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. Can it really be 82 days since we last heard the shameless cries of ‘Foul’ from the Wankers of Westminster, having been caught bang-to-rights with their fingers in the till ? Let me get this right, they turn up for work once a week to get their mugs on camera on a Wednesday lunchtime, steal our money, use that money to fund their businesses and gardeners AND get 82 days off summer holiday? It’s a tough life. 82 days off ?? I’ve had shorter marriages. It only seems like yesterday that I was here ranting about Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears, and if I’m not very careful I shall start again.
It’s amazingly over 3 months since I left the magazine and started working here at The Thunderer. Christ that’s flown by. I still get that new-boy feeling every now and again, but have finally remembered the names of most of the people I work with (although in conference the other day I couldn’t think of my Editor’s name, which wasn’t a great career move). The very sad thing is they keep giving me work to do, which is not what I signed up for, but it means I never clock-watch. Well hardly ever. But the time flies by, and that’s really all we can ever ask for, isn’t it? And dirty great wads of cash. And the odd pint. And a laugh.
When I joined the Ashes hadn’t yet started, Michael Jackson had died of natural causes and Gordon Brown was quaffing heavily in the Last Chance Saloon. A 100-odd days later, Jacko’s doctor is to appear before 12 men good and true, charged with Whackicide, the Aussies have returned home, urn-less. Gordon is now standing sobbing at the back of that saloon, refusing to go home, while the cleaners mop the floor, the bar staff bottle-up and the bouncer slips his big paws round the waist of a drunk teenage girl and offers her a lift home. I bet time isn’t flying for poor old Gordon. I wonder if he ever wakes up in the morning, stares at the ceiling and thinks “Oh fuck it, I’ve had enough”. How tempting must it be to ring Cameron and say “It’s all yours, have the sodding country, see how you like it.” It can’t be far away now.
How different might it all have been for Gordon had he still had the benefit of some nasty little bastard running the show like Alastair Campbell, or even better Malcolm Tucker? Neither would have let catastrophe after catastrophe befall this government. Malcolm would never have let Gordon back out of that original, promised election last year, Alastair would have taken Hazel, Jacqui and the rest of the expenses cartel around the back and horse-whipped them. And neither would have overseen the financial crisis without at least a dozen members of the Square Mile, the FSA and the ONS being strung up by their cajones and swinging from those lollipop clocks in Canary Wharf.
How reassuring it was to see Mr Tucker back on our screens on Saturday night. Usually I steer well clear of violent, venom-spitting Scotchmen, and I’ve met a few in my time, but I can’t get enough of Malc. I only wish my anger would manifest itself into such lines as ”Did you know that 90% of household dust is made up of dead human skin, that’s what you are…to me”.
This week he had Glynn’s chair thrown away. It was one of those chairs that is supposed to give you maximum support and perfect posture- you know the ones. Got anyone in your office who sits on a large brightly-coloured beach ball instead of a chair? Bet you have. I’ve seen a few in my time. Oh for a lit cigarette or a scalpel. “But, Mike, I have a bad back and this ball really helps. And the colour matches my RSI gauntlet. There it is, next to my S.A.D. light”.
You get where I’m coming from, right?
So for the three months I’ve been here I’ve been the recipient of several emails, each one more insistent than the last, from our Health, Safety and Environment Dept informing me that I need a ‘Workdesk Assessment’. They need to make sure I am comfortable and not at risk of developing any aches and pain while at my desk. Yes: It’s Sitting on a Chair Lessons. I ignored the first two invitations. Replied that I “was fine” to the third. The fourth came by return to which I wrote “No, honestly, I’ll be ok: I’ve been sitting on chairs for years, with a 98% success rate”. Only the threat, in the fifth email, of being hauled up in front of the beak has made me relent. I am still, after all, on Double Secret Probation and I wouldn’t want to jeopardise that now, would I?
Imagine all the money large companies could save by frog-marching out of the office all the HR Depts, Occupation Health Officers and the like ? Fortunes could be saved. They do nothing for no-one, apart justifying their own existence. Nothing. “But what about all the days-off-thru-sickness we save industry ?” Cobblers: It’s the same sort of people in offices throughout the land who are habitual RSI-getters (you can spot ‘em a mile off). Nothing anyone can do will change this type. Takers and slakers, every man jack of ’em. They spend a luna month in the nurse’s office throughout the year; never get a sniffle, they get Beriberi or Green Monkey Disease, and they are lacing up their running spikes at 5:58 every afternoon and are off out the door like Usain Bolt before you can say “actually could you just give me a hand with this”. I’ve seen Occ.Health people come to desks and measure angles and distances of keyboards, monitors and, of course chairs. Next time you see them in action, just watch the face of the worker they’re attending to, forming a skiving-off strategy. “Do you suffer from pain in your wrist, shoulder blade or achilles heel while at your desk?” they’re asked. “Well, now you come to mention it I have developed quite a sore knee when I’m asked to log on, yes”. “Hmmm…thought so. You need a new chair, a foot-rest and every other Friday off with stress. That should see you all right. Also, we’ll make sure your boss doesn’t give you too much work”.
I don’t need to name these people, we know who they are and THEY know who they are. They all look the same, with interchangeable names. They’ll be one sitting near you in your office today (unless you ARE one of them, in which case you’ll be reading this from the comfort of your home sofa). Of course people get ill, we all do. Some just get ill more often than others. A good mate of mine, I won’t name him (another Jock) came limping up the office once and I thought “oh here we go, he’s either fallen off his scooter or he’s got RSI of the ankle. Manky scotch git!” Neither were true. Turns out it was gout, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. I was so glad that I wasn’t the only one feeling the effects of time on my aching body. Gout! Brilliant: traditionally associated with old men and heavy drinkers, and my mate was at least one of them. Time catches up with us all in the end.
On Thursday, I officially enter the world of late-middle agedness when I take up the company’s offer of a free flu-jab. As noted on these pages previously, I am a magnet for a cold and flu bug. Typically, I make sure I have spread it throughout the office before I go off to my sickbed. Well, I’m determined this year to nip it in the bud (or bug). I always thought that flu jabs were for the elderly or infirm, and so here I am. It’ll probably make me feel like death warmed up for the rest of the day, but I won’t be calling for a footstool, wrist-brace or truss. I shall merely sit at my desk, and when the Occ Health girls come to call, I shall merely quote Malcolm Tucker and say :”Come the fuck in, or fuck the fuck off”.
I may even put on a scotch accent.
It’s all gone a bit how’s-yer-father. Things are not how they should be, here at Railway Cuttings. Between us, the incumbent and I are managing an average of three hours sleep per night. The reasons are many and varied. For starters I have a crap mattress. I forget where I bought it, but by the feel of the springs poking though the sheet, into my left shoulder blade it would appear it came from the set of Midnight Express. My significant other has lost the use of her right arm and shoulder, and the mattress is in the frame as the chief culprit. There are other factors to consider:
Even on a pleasant, temperate night temperatures in my bedroom reach around 240 degrees (gas reg 9), but over the past several days London has been gripped by a heatwave. My bedroom has turned into an Aga. Lay down on my bed and after a couple of minutes you get to appreciate how a Pop Tart must feel during its last few in-tact moments. I tell you, it’s fucking hot. The sweat reaches Cool Hand Luke proportions. Windows need to be opened, fans need to be engaged. Sod it! I remember that I’d donated my room fan to Kate’s youngest son a few weeks ago— he was hot. Bugger. Pas de problem, windows at each end of the house are opened—get a nice breeze through. Ahhhh that’s better.
But there’s another snag: Although it’s not quite Elwood Blues‘ apartment, my house is located quite close to the local railway station—as my pet name for it implies. You don’t notice the trains during the day, nothing more than a gentle hum in the background when you’re grilling your bangers on the barbie. But lay down in bed on a hot, humid night, windows open, and it feels like you’re getting your head down at the far end of platform cinq, Gare Du Nord. They come in and out of the station about every 12½ minutes—synchronized brilliantly with the time I manage to position my body between the razor-wire springs and the boulders in my mattress, get as settled as I can, turn over the sweat-soaked pillow, and drift gently into the land of nod. The sound of the 12.21 from London Bridge sounds like that tank in the last scene of Saving Private Ryan. Terrifying.
Come here, there’s more. Once the last train (The Vomit Comet) carrying the piss-heads of South London home to their caravans has gone through, we then get treated to the heavy artillery: I don’t know what these night trains are they’re carrying, may be milk, maybe coal, maybe nuclear warheads or toxic waste for landfill, but these, slow-moving, creaking, rumbling fuckers make the window frames rattle, the half-full dishwasher dance around the kitchen floor downstairs, glasses rattling therein, and the toilet seat crash down to the closed position (yes, I know).
No matter, at least we’re not being slowly sauteed in our own perspiration. The breeze feels good, though I suspect that it’s the gentle zephyr through the window that’s also contributing to our cricked backs. It’s a price worth paying. When cricket umpires start collapsing at the wicket, as one did yesterday, you know that this global warming which we’ve all been hoping for has finally arrived. Around 4am I try another tack: BBC News24. If anything can induce sleep, surely that can? Well, in part. I drift in-and-out through the night and seem always to wake up at the same time past the hour, therefore catching the same news item, time and time again. Last night I saw brief highlights of the Ladies Singles Final at Wimbledon FOUR TIMES. I didn’t want to see it once. That can be a tad frustrating. I start getting angry with myself that I’m not asleep— which means I can’t sleep.
So I get up, go downstairs to make a cup of tea and to help the garden greet the morning sun. Kate’s been up for hours, her back pain being too much to bear (she’s watched the same report on Michael Jackson’s memorial five times since midnight). We grunt sympathetically at each other and shuffle around the house. We wait for a decent hour to start functioning properly, when we can convince ourselves that it’s not Saturday night any more, it’s actually Sunday morning. Proper conversation starts at about 7.30. and we plan our day. Nothing is open til 10 o’clock when I’ll go get the papers and some eggs from breakfast. Then perhaps a stroll before lunch, and a mass newspaper-reading session in the garden this afternoon. It’s only to delay the inevitable: going back to bed to try to catch up on sleep. If I go to bed before 10pm I’ll be wide awake by 4am, at best (British Rail allowing), so I’ll have to hold out.
Perhaps a couple of sundowners or nightcaps later will help? I start a new job tomorrow and I’m as nervous as a Brazilian backpacker on a London Tube. Yes, perhaps a modicum of claret will chase away the nerves tonight, block out the pain of the springs, and the noise of the chuff-chuffs? But moderation is the key. Hungover, exhausted and walking hunched over like Marley’s ghost is no way to arrive on your first day of a new job.
Dunno, maybe I’ll sleep on it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was in a pub in Portsmouth. It was 1982 and I was on my first Rugby Tour, with the school first XV. On this particular evening, I decided to pop over the road to the phone box to call the then incumbent Mrs B. When she picked up the phone she was crying. “What’s up with you?” I gently inquired. “We’ve declared war on Argentina” she wept. It transpired that she was terrified that I’d get called-up. After pointing out to her that the Argentine army were hardly up to beating Our Brave Boys (“They’re hardly the bleedin’ Israelis, are they ?” I recall saying) and I saw no way that the draft would come my way, she seemed a bit cheerier, so I returned to the pub to announce to my chums that we were indeed “at war with Argentina”, for which I received a dousing in lager from my mates for telling porkies.
It seems another world away: Phone boxes, The Falklands, School trips. Mobile phones were around, but they were the size of chest-freezers and there were about four of them in the country. In that year, Channel 4 was launched, De Lorean went out of business, as did Freddie Laker. Women were protesting outside Greenham Common and Princess Di knocked out her first chavvy, William. Unemployment reached 3 million and Thatcher was in her Pomp. Colin Welland told the Academy that “The British are coming” when Chariots of Fire swept up at the Oscars.
In 1982 I looked like this
In 1982 Allan Simonsen, the 1977 European Footballer of the Year, signed for Charlton Athletic from Barcelona. We all thought that he must have made a mistake and thought he was signing for Bobby Charlton. He wouldn’t pass the ball to anyone else. They didn’t look good enough. They weren’t. Aston Villa won the European Cup (honest). Yuri Andropov led the Soviet Union, long before he became the subject of funny bar songs.
Michael Jackson, who was turning a funny colour, released Thriller and we all strutted around parties like Zombies. In 1982, if I was buying a computer, I’d buy the newly-released Commodore 64. The world mourned the death of John Belushi, Marty Feldman and Arthur Lowe. They were replaced by Jermain Defoe, LeAnn Rimes and Gavin Henson. Hardly a fair swap.The price of a pint was 62p and petrol was 159p-a-gallon. That year they completed the construction of the Thames Barrier.
In 1982 Sean Hodgson went to jail for a murder he didn’t commit. 27 years later (today, in fact) a High Court Judge quashed the conviction in the light of new DNA evidence unavailable at the time of the trial. But it also emerged that Mr Hodgson could have been released 11 years ago but for an admin cock-up. I watched open-mouthed on tv as a smiling Plod spokesman took to the steps of the High Court and said the Hampshire Police were pleased they were able to help in the legal process and secure Mr Hodgson’s release. They’re going to look into the case again.
In 1982 I didn’t trust the Old Bill or the system. They scared me. Wonder how Sean Hodgson feels ?
…Leave at your own chosen speed… as Bob Dylan once wrote. Pretty much how I feel about the upcoming residency of Michael Jackson for a proposed “50 night” stint at the O2 Arena. Those of us who reside in SE London have had enough unpleasantness with seeing the shocking spectacle of Charlton Athletic commit sporting hari kari on the football field every weekend, whithout everyone’s favourite babysitter pitching his tent in, well, a tent!. Yes. The Millenium Bivouac, as was, has witnessed enough disasters over the years since it’s inception but one feels you ain’t seen nothin’ yet when the Jackson entourage (and, what’s worse, his sad fans) roll up into town. 50 nights! FIFTY!! I’m starting a book on how many he’ll actually do before reports of that “throat infection” start to appear and he’s replaced by Gareth Gates. Now remember: rules of the sweepstake mean that ALL of him has to complete the concert. Any limbs or organs that drop off mid-Billie Jean make that performance null and void. Should save a fortune on makeup for Thriller, anyway.
If any of Mr Jackson’s party happen to read this, you could do worse than to book rooms at The Angerstein Hotel, a pub in Greenwich. It’s but a short limp to the O2, most of the locals need oxygen masks to keep going and the bar staff therin are gender-neutral. Rooms start at 27.50 (with sink) and a view of the Blackwall Tunnel Flyover. Advise keeping the window closed as the whiff from the molasses factory up the road get’s a bit rich. But then you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.