Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Pencil Museum Incident


To the Pencil Museum in Keswick, home of the World's largest pencil. I have questions. 

Me: Has anybody from a rival pencil museum ever sneaked in with the world's largest pencil sharpener to take a couple of feet off your world's largest pencil so they could steal the title?

Them: No, that hasn't happened.

Me: Well, today's your lucky day!

[Brandishes huge pencil sharpener]

Them: Please leave 

Me: PENS RULE!

Them: We're calling the police

Monday, June 22, 2015

Think you've seen the new Partick Thistle mascot before?

This is "Kingsley", who needs to be destroyed with fire and sticks


But think of the kiddiewinks. Please. Think of the kiddiewinks.




Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fifty Shades of Alfred

It's completely obvious, with the release of 'Grey', that EL James is determined to kick the arse out of the Fifty Shades franchise while there is still arse to be kicked. And, to be honest, I don't blame her in the slightest. Already she's told the story from the point of view of the hapless heroine, and know she's told it from Christian Grey's perspective. What else is left?

I'm an utter book snob, so I wouldn't touch Fifty Shades with the shitty stick that's just been pulled out of Mr Grey, but it's clear there are other perspectives this entire tawdry tale can be re-told. He's a billionaire playboy. He's going to have a butler or a gentleman's gentleman, and Alfred is going to have seen everything. And he's got a tale to tell, meticulously recorded and locked in a safety deposit box in case the police come calling.

Excerpts.

"The young master has another new young lady around tonight, this one seems quite nice. Banging away like rabbits in the secret room, so I get the night off."

"He's telling her he's got unconventional tastes, and he's showed her the dungeon. She can only see the pound signs, like the rest of them. Poor thing."

"Made breakfast for Miss Anastasia. I do hope she doesn't go the same way as Miss Marina. And Miss Julia. Not to mention Miss Angelica. I think I know every pig farm in the south of England now, and quite a number of the better ones in East Anglia. Bodies are easy to get rid of if you've unlimited budget and a private garage. We've made a lot of agricultural folk very well off."

"Mr Grey seems to think that his little trysts are just between him and his young ladies, but he seems to have forgotten the thirty-seven state-of-the-art closed-circuit cameras he had installed around the penthouse, the garage, the Bat Cave, and The Other Room. I've learned so, so much under his employ. Alas, the skills are non-transferable to a man of my age." 

"Also, it is the same system of thirty-seven cameras that recorded what happened to the last Mrs Alfred. She shouldn't have come storming round complaining about my choice of employer, the hours I keep, and the secrets I know. Not while I was wrapping poor, adventure-seeking Miss Susan up in the ground sheet like a flopping red side of beef, making me do something that I came to regret upon the life of Mrs Alfred. Now Mr Grey knows my secret, and that keeps me from disclosing the secrets I know about him. If we burn, we burn together."

"Of course, he wasn't always Christian Grey. When I first came under his employ, he was Mr Bateman, fleeing from something improbable and gruesome in New York involving a chainsaw and a Phil Collins box set. Everybody in London seems to know his past, and he knows this is not an exit."

"He has asked me to procure new business cards. They're wonderfully expensive, but I've seen better."

"The bell rings. I go upstairs to the secret room. Mr Grey is having a danger wank, and wants me to release the rope at the appropriate moment. I don't want to let go of the rope, but the thought of seeking new paid employ in this city fills me with dread. I may disapprove of Mr Grey's methods, but at least he's not nouveau riche."

"When I look back on my life in my autumn years, I'll think of my years working for Mr Grey, and I'll think this: 'I saw people doing it'."

Something about a chopper. Do I have to do all the work round here?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How to smuggle a penguin onto a plane (slight return)

For the benefit of a friend who is currently penguin-spotting in South Africa, I reproduce my 2004 guide to smuggling a penguin out of the country should they feel the urge to take one home. Hope this helps, but please remember penguin-smuggling is A Bad Thing, m'kay?

The Scaryduck guide to... smuggling penguins onto airliners

It's always the same. You go on holiday, have a few drinks, and before you know it, you're faced with the problem of getting that ill-advised purchase onto the plane home. Don't sweat - you'll get Mr Flippers back home with minimal time in prison and a place on your government's "No Fly" list* if you follow our foolproof guide.

- Wear dark glasses and claim he is your guide penguin. Any attempt to harrass you is discrimination against the disabled.

- Superglue a handle to his back and insist that he is the latest line of designer handbag: "Gaultier's got one"

- "Airport security - we understand there is an illicit shipment of fish on this aircraft. Go fetch, boy!"

- "Are you stupid? Can't you see my son supports Newcastle United?"

- Claim you are a salesman from a skittles factory, and say it is a factory sample of a new self-righting model. That eats fish.

- Hide it inside the llama you are also smuggling on board

"Now you're telling me he can't go to the North Pole and fulfill his life's ambition"
 - "I've just won the Nobel Prize for novelty toilet brush holders. Can't you see it's a work of art?"

- Buy him a first class ticket, and continually refer to him as "Maestro"

- Pretend to be a BBC film crew from TV's Jim'll Fix It, and produce a letter saying "Dear Jim, please could you fix it for my small flightless bird to go up in a plane." (In the light of ...errr... circumstances, this one may no longer work)

- Put him inside a condom, swallow him and carry him through customs inside your stomach. Back at home, just wait for nature to do its course, et voila! (Only works for very, very, very small penguins)

- "He may look like a penguin to you chief, but he self-identifies as a first-class air passenger, you BIGOT"

Best of luck to you all. Please be aware that the penalties for penguin smuggling are severe and vary from country to country.

*No fly. Penguins. Geddit? Oh, suit yourselves.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Current ear-worm: Depeche Mode cover versions

Bear with me while I shake this headache, shivers and general malady. Here, have my current ear-worm.



No, you're welcome.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The All-New Worst Thing In The World



I've just discovered something terrible that I really like. And it really is truly awful.

I get to read an awful lot of local newspaper stories in my search for the finest photos of angry people for the general public's delight. Often – and against my better judgement - my attention wanders down to the bottom half of the page as I think to myself "Are there any decent comments to this one?"

I should know by now that the answer is almost invariably "No, you idiot", and that the comments are filled with the kind of armchair general that makes you thankful that they are not running the country.

The worst thing you can be in the eyes of the typical newspaper commenter is an "attention seeker". You may be in the papers to question the fact that the addition of rotating knives at pedestrian crossings outside schools could – when you think about it – be A Bad Thing, but to Mr Common Cence, ENGLAND, you are the worst person in the world for sticking your head over the parapet, and get a job you dole scum.

However, it has struck me that there is a lower level to this particular Hell, and it is this: Local Newspaper Commenters Who Want To Mete Out Justice.

Local Newspaper Commenters Who Want To Mete Out Justice don't trust the police or the courts. They are nothing but woolly lefties who are only in their jobs for their cushy pensions and have no idea what they're doing. The prospect of some yobbo being handed a community sentence or a fine makes them purple with fury, and – in their glorious Nigel-inspired revolution – these disrespectful curs would be clapped in irons and hung from the town bridge as a warning to others.

I've started to make a collection of some of these hopeful additions to the magistrates' bench, and you'd better hope they never get a job there.

Railway vandals: They should be rounded up, taken off the dole and put to work cleaning the sewers for a while!

Sex offender: Cut off his hands so he can't fiddle with himself, and cut off his feet so he can't leave the house

Animal cruelty: Find the guy and shoot him in the face with a crossbow I say, see how he likes it...

Joanna Lumley: We can then all line up and ask her who she going to murder first...... then we can all throw rotten tomatoes etc at her, lol.

Violent offender jailed: Lethal injection,,,, job done no more inconvenience for anybody (Note the multiple commas, always a sign of being a bit UKIP)

Young boy robbed: I'd love to pull a cheese wire as tight as I could round the base of this wankers testi-satchel.

The perennial classic: Is this a reason to bring back the birch?

More as I see them, because I'm an attention seeker.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

A Grand Day Out

Probably died of boredom, the lucky bastard
Sunday, and to one of those out-of-town shopping villages where you see all the latest designer labels, have a spot to eat, then go home clutching the results of your shopping therapy. Not so much. We bought socks and a packet of biscuits.

This one was decidedly low-rent, with all the discount shoes, discount clothes and discount everything you could ever want to see. Add this to the fact that it was next door to the local Big Boot Sale, and the whole place was crawling with middle-aged men with trousers held up with comedy braces, and small children tired and bored out of their skulls. And me. Me judging everybody and everything, because I am middle class and in my forties and that is what I do these days.

We thought it would be a nice place to go while returning some mail order things without having to pay for the postage. We might as well have gone to Basingstoke.

At least there was the restaurant. The man doing the carvery was so slow (one customer every ten minutes, we reckoned) I plumped for the jacket potato with a handful (literally) of salad, and the smallest spoon of coleslaw you ever saw in your life, served by a staff member whose "Enjoy your meal" actually came out as "Kill me now". Then to a seat under a speaker playing commercial music radio, in full view of the establishment's priceless collection of dead flies on the windowsill.

I am lucky that I have a partner who shares my views of the enforced-happiness school of retail, and we fled.

Would visit again, but only as the pilot of an attack helicopter loaded with bunker-busting ordinance.

That was Sunday.

Farnham, you've let me down. You're not supposed to be shit.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Guilty pleasures, Wally Disco and the Great Universal catalogue (Pages 180-213)

Stop it. Stop it now.
We've all got guilty pleasures. Mine is early 80s New Romantic bands, and to prove it, I've just bought A Flock of Seagulls' first album on CD. Again. As guilty pleasures go, owning a copy of A Flock of Seagulls' first album on CD isn't particularly guilty in the grand scheme of things, because there are far worse things to be pleasured by in a guilty manner. At least I'm not a grown-up One Direction fan, for example, or a teenage One Direction fan.

My old friend John, now he really did have a guilty pleasure to brag about. John lived four doors down from us, and was sufficiently energetic to be dismissed as "that lout" by my father, probably because his dad habitually brought back exciting gifts from business trips to America, which were flaunted – noisily – up and down our road at all hours. We built go-karts together, skateboarded-down people's drives, had spectacular punch-ups and played football in the street, anathema to anybody interested in quiet cul-de-sac suburban living.

John's guilty pleasure was truly guilty, for he loved wally disco music. Wally Disco is a musical genre that starts with Popcorn, Agadoo and the Birdie Song, and comes home with you from a holiday in the Spanish islands, complete with all the unique dances that go with it. And John knew all the dances. It's a distinct branch of Euro-Pop that only gets played in seaside discotheques and during the breaks in play at ice hockey matches, and is characterised by some mid-European with an accordion, a tiddly-pomp beat, badly-translated shouty lyrics and a chorus that finds a corner of your brain and can only be removed by surgery. One listen while under the influence of full-fat Coca-Cola is enough to wreck your life forever, eventually resulting in a unique playlist at your funeral.

John owned them all, usually on lurid pink and green plastic picture discs, often secured on mail order as they had somehow managed to avoid the attention of British radio stations and record shops, one of the music industry's rare moments of sanity. "This one's from Ibiza," he'd say, before he and his girlfriend would launch into the stomping-on-the-spot, arms-waving dance routine as some Austrian doofus yodelled over a cheesy disco beat. The rest of us did not join in. It was John's guilty pleasure, and we took no part in it. Then he played the B-side, which was exactly the same, only worse.

As a fifteen-year-old at the time, my guilty pleasure was the Great Universal catalogue, pages 180-213. But, unlike wally disco, it's not the kind of thing you can show off in front of your friends. Other pals enjoyed fishing down at the mill pond, and at least I was above that.

The celebrated Yasmin Le Bon edition, featuring a superb selection of photographic equipment, all with easy weekly payments and doorstep delivery.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Coulrophobia

My daughter is coulrophobic. I know this because she once ran away from Ronald McDonald. And frankly, who isn't scared of clowns and their head-eating ways - I'd run away from Ronald McDonald if push came to shove. Fear of clowns is a perfectly logical phobia, as is fear of spiders, fear of crowds, and fear of walking into a shop where they are playing commercial local radio.

I've actually got a really weird phobia. Loose buttons. No, you shut up.

She's not alone in the world. One of my blog friends is so coulrophobic that when she was tapped on the shoulder by a random clown in a shopping centre, she boxed him to the ground. And not a jury in the land would dare convict.

So, winding the clock back a dozen years or so to a family holiday on the dubiously-named Devon Riviera. Our daily trips from Brixham through Paignton and on to the tourist fleshpots of Torquay where made all the more terrifying for the younglings in the back of the car by the presence of a circus big top on the sward at Paignton. There be clowns.

It was on one of these trips that we had the misfortune to be caught by the traffic lights dead opposite the Circus of Death. A van pulls out, and the darling daughter asks, in her fear, "Dad, what's in that van?"

I do not get to answer, for my son hit the jackpot with "Clowns. Head-eating clowns."

Armageddon in the back seat.

Mocking phobias is neither big nor clever, but this is a family episode that has become lore. Every bus, lorry or van after that day is carrying clowns somewhere to do their evil work. Disguised supermarket lorries - like that scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind - is their favoured mode of mass transport. Head-eating clowns. Everywhere, and I am sorry for my part in messing up my children's heads.

Back to the present, and stuck in a traffic jam while The Man makes it impossible to drive through Reading in the morning. And this is my view.


I send it to my daughter, now pushing twenty-one years old, with the hashtag to see if she is over the clown thing.

The expected reaction. She is not.

I placate her with the knowledge that I followed the curs back to their devilish headquarters and razed it to the ground. She is happy.

All is well, no heads will be eaten today. Not until the next truckload arrive from the depot.