Saturday, March 31, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

On not having an Oyster Card

It is rare, these days, that I use this site to make an overtly political statement. Back in the early years of this blog, I showed a distinct left-wing bias, but the politics have been slowly squeezed out in favour of the more observational funny.

That is, until now.

FOUR POUNDS THIRTY? Four quid thirty for a single ticket on the London Underground?

FOUR POUNDS AND THIRTY OF THE QUEEN'S PENCE to travel a mere four (count 'em) FOUR stations, because my travel needs are so casual and so not-London-based that I don't actually possess an Oyster Card. What kind of image does this portray to visitors and tourists, eh? A rip-off, that's what.

Screw you, Boris. I hope you choke on the caviar that my FOUR POUNDS THIRTY paid for, you posh, tousel-haired NOBBER. You're supposed to be encouraging casual users onto the London Underground, not scaring them away. NOBBER.

FOUR POUNDS THIRTY? Even the station staff thought it was an outrage.

£4.30? If I didn't have a spacked ankle, I'd kick your arse.

In the interests of political balance: Other London mayoral candidates are available, and may also be nobbers.

*Takes a look at list of candidates* Yes, they are all nobbers. Best of luck, London.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I'm lovin' angles instead

I will admit right up front that I am a smug, sick bastard.

So much so, that whenever a noted celebrity shuffles off this mortal coil, I will be the first to head over to Twitter and search for the words "with the angles".

It is, I assure you, literally minutes of endless fun, watching as the grief athletes, impotent in front of their keyboard, find that they just have to say something, anything to ease their pain.

And so:

[CELEBRITY NAME] RIP You are with the angles now

May u rest with the angles [CELEBRITY NAME]

RIP [CELEBRITY NAME] I guess that God wanted his angles back :(

So sad [CELEBRITY NAME] is with the angles, playing Robbie Williams Angles RIP
Smugly, I then point out that the poor [CELEBRITY NAME] is dead, not in maths detention

This does not make me popular.

Let's here it for God and his Angles!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Another week, another business conference. Don't get me wrong, as a recovering geek I find these events incredibly interesting, and the people who send me seem to like the reports that I write.

However, one scourge that stalks these events is that of corporate buzzwords which have either entered into the world of cliche, or are otherwise completely meaningless.

I am glad to report that "low-hanging fruit" appears to have fallen out of fashion, but - sadly - there are any number of cobblers phrases just lining up to take its place. For example, these were heard in one single day's hard conferencing (get your bingo cards ready), and starting off with a few easy ones...

Going forward

Value chain

Walled gardens
And on to the hard stuff...

Baked-in contract

Elevator pitch

X is the new Y

Ten foot experience

Deep-dive review

Thought leader

Gamification layer

Unfortunately, for the last two, the conference-appointed sniper was on his tea break, and the perpetrators survived to buzzword another day.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Politicians launch a holy war on science, ends pretty much as you'd expect

There are times when you realise that political allegiance is no bar to stupidity; and that stupidity is no bar to holding office. I don't usually post on politics these days, but this is cross-party idiocy, so I'm pretty much in the clear.

Take this veritable tale of woe, in which three MPs from each of the main parties, going under the name Christians in Parliament, have written to the Advertising Standards Authority in a bid to overturn a recent ruling in which a group of god-botherers were banned from handing out leaflets which claimed the power of prayer can heal.

And I quote:

"NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY!... We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness."
These MPs are genuine people, who have been to school and everything, and have stood in actual elections and enough people have voted for them to allow them to make (cough) educated decisions about the future of the National Health Service and how our children are school. Yet, here they are writing to the advertising watchdog demanding that the ASA provides scientific proof that God CANNOT heal the sick in the middle of a shopping street in Bath.

News for you chaps: Science doesn't work that way. What you three need to provide is actual proof that your deity can heal "any sickness" through the power of prayer, have it peer-reviewed by other scientists, then book the first flight to Stockholm to pick up your Nobel Prize. The fact that nobody has actually managed this feat may tell you something.

And no, the Member for South West Devon, telling the ASA that you once had a sore hand, prayed over it, and it got better is known in science as "anecdotal evidence" and it doesn't count. "What does the ASA say about that?" you ask. I imagine the answer is "Ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaargh, you nobber."

Furthermore, I'm pretty sure that even footballer Fabrice Muamba, who you claim has made a miraculous recovery because sufficient people thought nice thoughts for him (although the Pray 4 Muamba business was good is a bringing-people-together sort of way), would actually credit the NHS doctors, nurses and ambulance crews for his survival. I think you'll find the "think nice thoughts and the bad thing will go away" device actually comes from a recent Doctor Who episode called "Last of the Time Lords". If there's anybody to thank, it's David Tennant.

I say this because this coming week I shall be having a metric fuckton of root canal work performed, and I'm not looking forward to it. However, I am reassured by the fact that the work is to be undertaken by a nice dentist called Jose with a plentiful supply of painkilling drugs; rather than a vicar and a couple of nuns praying over me while I scream blue murder.

However, if any passing Members of Parliament would care to undergo root canal treatment whilst a vicar and a couple of nuns do the old laying on of hands, I will be the first in line for tickets.

It is at times like this that we remember the one and only commandment of Holy Church of Don't Be a Dick, the religion that doesn't believe in religion: "Don't be a dick".

Enough of this pointless asshattery, you clowns. You've got a country to run.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I am at a conference, where, to my surprise, there appears to be a luxuriously-appointed Press Room for the members of Her Majesty's press, of which I count myself as a member.

There is only one other person present, and knock me down and call me Sharon, if it isn't the familiar bearded face of Jimmy Wales out of Wikipedia. I am taken somewhat aback, mainly because he isn't in his familiar website pose, for eg holding up a banner and asking for money.

I make a point of apologising to him for misquoting something he said Several years ago in a report. Generously, he does not remember, but forgives me anyway, beseeching me to get my prostrate form up off the carpet before I make the knees of my cheap, shiny suit even more cheap and shinier.

I ask him, O Great One, for an autograph, and he obliges. He is both wonderfully bearded and left-handed, like all the best people. Then, he settles down for an interview with the excellent website, which starts something like this:

Journalist: Do I call you 'founder' or 'co-founder' of Wikipedia?

Jimbo: I like to say 'founder', but other people may say otherwise.

Me: [citation needed]

Jimbo: LOL

Realising that this is the high water mark of my life, I flee

In summary: Jimmy Wales - What a guy

And by the way, Jimmy, I accidentally got your conference name tag an' I'm not ever ever going to wash my hands an' you're really great an'...


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012


I took my oldest to see popular beat combo Florence and the Machine the other week, and while impressed by Miss Andthemachine's extraordinary voice and musical talents, can confirm that their "machine" is one that fires baby hedgehogs at a dart board.

Sadly, Florence hasn't thought the whole thing through, because due to the laws of aerodynamics, hedgehogs tend to fly head first and have little or no chance of sticking to the board. And if, by chance, they do stick, the little blighters have a habit of falling off as they - oh-ho! - "Shake it out"

Earlier versions of Miss Andthemachine's machine include one that inflates penguins with helium to allow them to fly; and another that exposes goldfish to near lethal doses of Westlife.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

A bit of email etiquette

A few words of wisdom for you:

"You know when I put 'I hope this helps' at the end of an email, right?"

"Yeah, you do that all the time"

"You know it really means 'Now, fuck off'?"

"Wow, I had no idea."

"I hope this helps."

"And up yours, too"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Unexpected item in bagging area

Sainsburys. The supermarket of champions, where I have completed my selections (box of own-brand nurofen and six-pack of Twiglets) and I head for the self-service till.

"Do you have your own bags?" the friendly machine voice asks.

Yes. Yes I have.

"Please place your bag in the bagging area."

I place my bag in the bagging area.

"Unexpected item in the bagging area."

Well, excuse me while I go absolutely bloody flippy.


"You asked me to put my bag in the bagging area, I put my bag in the bagging area, then when I put my bag in the bagging area you have the front to tell me you weren't expecting a bag in the bagging area.

"Just let me put my bag in the bagging area, or I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU TO DEATH."

The self-service till wrangler saw me in my predicament, and came across to help.

"Look, all I want to do is put my bag in the bagging area, and when I put my bag in the bagging area, it tells me there's an unexpected item in the bagging area. PLEASE help me put my bag in the bagging area."

"Oh, it's always doing that," she said in a tone of voice that gave the air she was going to ask if I wanted to rub her tits too, "Would you like to rub my tits too?"

I paid for my Twiglets and left, with just one thought on my mind: "I could get 500 words out of this."

Author's note: Some of this story may be untrue.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Great Sky Meat Mystery

I open the front door to leave an empty bottle out for the milkman.

It is dark, the front path is illuminated by the street lamp, and in the distance an owl hoots.

"Hoot," it says.

The fog has lifted, and with it the ideal cover for a string of letterbox turdings I have in mind.

I look down, and there, on the path, something glistens. The glisten of fresh meat, for that is what it is. On closer inspection, it appears to be a pork chop, so I scoop it up with a tissue and drop it into the bin, in case it is the work of some sort of dog poisoning nutter.

"Oh, that's just the weird upstairs neighbour," says Jane, scotching my hope that this is the work of a caring deity, testing my lack of faith through the medium of free meat. I am infomed that she probably might be a tad on the mad side, and throws her other half's dinner out of the window. She doesn't even bother cooking it these days, I am told.

Fair enough, the price of electricity and gas is through the roof these days.

But now, I am intrigued, and make regular checks for Sky Meat. Already I have seen:

- Pork chop
- A pile of king prawns
- Half a chicken
- A crusty steak pie
- An actual beef steak
- A Pot Noodle
And the veggie option:

- A bag of oven chips
Disappointingly, I check every morning, and I am yet to blag any free sausage and bacon. It is, one hopes, only a matter of time.

Beggars can't be choosers, but I think I'll post her a shopping list, see what we get.

And the dog laughed his Ronnie Corbett laugh.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Scaryduckworth-Lewis method for rating things for excellence - 2012 Edition

Tory cuts have bitten us, and bitten HARD, and none more so than the Scaryduckworth-Lewis Method of Rating Things for Excellence list, the internet's number one at-a-glance table for rating things for excellence.

This year's compare-and-contrast list, in which any product or concept may be compared to the relative merits of female celebrities has been pared to the bone, despite full support for the Scaryduckworth-Lewis Method of Rating Things for Excellence in the LibDem election manifesto. Hang your head, Clegg.

Also, I couldn't be arsed to think up the full twenty.

The Scaryduckworth-Lewis Method of Rating Things for Excellence: 2012 Edition

1. THATCHER, probably

2 - 9. Fill in the blanks yourselves

10. Lovely, lovely Maggie Philbin. The perfectly-formed yardstick from which all female beauty and character should be measured

11 - 19. Fill in the blanks yourselves

20. Will's Hot Mum from The Inbetweeners
Let's hear it for Will's Hot Mum from The Inbetweeners!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekend Video: Turin Brakes - Painkiller

"You'll like this video," says Jane, "It's a really fantastic song. Also, it's got a sexy girl on a bicycle."


"You told me," she said, "Every day for three months."

Friday, March 16, 2012

The battle between man and inanimate object: IT HAS BEGUN

On reflection, shouting "Get into the toaster, you bready fuck", was neither going to improve the situation, nor was it the ideal start to the day. In the end, my threats came to naught, as the bread fell into the toaster, thanks to the miracles of this new-fangled "gravity".

I dare say that we have all, at some stage or another, been taunted by inanimate objects, and we have all retaliated by setting about them in acts of wanton and unnecessary vengeance. After all, I have dined out for years on the fact that I once threw a copy of the Da Vinci Code from a speeding train, killing it completely TO DEATH on account of the crapness printed on its pages. Take that, book, you useless paper BUMDER.

One may claim to be a rational human being, but there is nothing like the catharsis of beating something to smithereens because it has utterly failed in the simple task which it has been set. Very few experiences beat that satisfying crunch of dead vacuum cleaner on concrete, after it has been hurled from a second floor window following a tragic loss of suction; or the accidental shooting to death of a television after years of faithful service.

However, for sheer rage, my complete destruction of a desktop PC takes some beating, after a fatal disc crash led to the irreversible loss of years worth of data.

In the words of the song, I hammered in the morning, I hammered in the evening. I hammered all over this town.

A hammer hammer hammer. A hammer hammer hammer.

And it was a very big hammer, as I channelled my inner Basil Fawlty and gave it a damn good thrashing that it wouldn't forget in a hurry, if the thing still had a functioning hard drive. Which it didn't.

Then, possessing a strong social conscience (the littering of railway embankments with Dan Brown novels notwithstanding), I took what remained to the local recycling centre, in a single carrier bag.

The kind of very small carrier bag you only get in the "Six items or fewer" till at the supermarket.

There used to be a "Six items or less" till at the supermarket, but that fell victim to an unfortunate hammer attack in a completely unrelated Grammar Police incident of which we no longer speak.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On Her Majesty the Queen granting city status to several British towns

The Queen - a betting woman herself - has thumbed her nose at the bookies and named rank outsiders Chelmsford, Perth and a small, roped-off area in Wales called St Asaph as new cities as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations. In our humble opinion anybody who might have had a punt on these three romping home would have made a pretty penny and no mistake. In fact the odds on all three were son long that Paddy Power hadn't even bothered listing them. Not that we're suggesting anything. At all.

Anyway, rooting through the bins behind the offices of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, we found among the Tesco Meal Deal wrappers the official briefing paper on the winners and losers, which we summarise below. Damning reading for Reading, we think you'll find...

The winners
Congratulations to Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph on your city status. Government officials will arrive today to discuss ghetto construction

Hardly a surprise. Her Majesty's had it in for Southend ever since she threw up on the Kursaal Flyer back in the seventies after a dodgy hot dog. And nobody told her that "a quick walk down the pier and back" on a Saturday afternoon would take three hours and cause her to miss four of the ITV Seven.

I don't blame Her Majesty for her decision. She's had a downer on Reading ever since Prince Philip had a dodgy kebab down the Oxford Road in the seventies. Then there was the much-vaunted visit to the futuristic Metal Box building around the same time. Due to a misunderstanding, she was locked in an actual metal box for three hours. Never forgave the place after that. Also, she thinks Ricky Gervais is a twat.

Her Majesty has always had a downer on Bournemouth, ever since she was served a poor breakfast during a B&B stay during the 60s. She now spends her spare time writing middling-to-bad reviews for local hotels on TripAdvisor.

Her Majesty took one look at your application and said "I say, aren't people from Goole called Goolies?". Nick Clegg agreed, and that was that.

Face it, she's hated you ever since Charles decided to open his life-size Lego theme park next door in Poundbury. Also, stopped to water the corgis at a lay-by on the A35, not knowing it was well-known for another kind of "dogging". This sort of thing leaves an indelible stain that not even a World Champion Town Crier can erase.

Milton Keynes

You'll ALWAYS be a city (to any producer of a TV series that needs somewhere that looks like America, but isn't America)

Tower Hamlets
Nice try, but the clue's in the name, isn't it? City of Tower Hamlets just sounds stupid and would just confuse foreign tourists looking for somewhere quaint on their London holiday experience. Why not just hold a council vote and change to MEGA CITY ONE? I'd pay good money to visit anywhere called Mega City One.

Hardly surprising, but never in the race after "Big Sam" accidentally nutted Her Majesty in the face outside Wetherspoons.

In retrospect, the town motto of "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy" didn't help matters much

Hot favourite for the prize, as it is already the nation's capital for Britain's favourite pastime: squaddies and students honking up in the gutter on a Friday night. For now, Colchester will remain the nation's top town for squaddies and students honking up in the gutter on a Friday night.
Congratulations to the winners! Stick around for Her Majesty's next announcement on which of her children she likes the best. Prince Edward being a 5,000-1 outsider with the bookies.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


July 31st 1660: Up betimes, and to myne publisher Mr Murdoch post-haste with the manuscript for the book over which I have toiled this last thirty days.

It is a veritable tale of both mirth and woe, and recounts my incredible adventures o'er the first six months of this year which have seen my great'st triumph (for eg, the favour of HIS MAJESTY) and my low'st ebb (viz: getting nail'd to a tree by an enrag'd vicar). The world shall marvel at my works, except, possibly, the bits about bowk'ng rich brown vomit into hedges of which there are many.

Found Mr Murdoch expir'd from the exploding horse ague, so sold my manuscript for a groat and enjoy'd a frolick'ng night with Southwark Sally and a Rook Pie. And so to bed.

Or, in the Queen's English - my book SAMUEL PEPYS: LUST FOR GLORY is now available to buy, either in dead tree format, download and Amazon Kindle.

It's got (in no particular order) Samuel Pepys, a small dog called Lucy Minogue, zombies, a man in a fez who travels in a blue box and more sicking inna hedge than you can shake a shitty stick at. And - this is the reason it took so long to write - it is 100 per cent historically accurate.


From Paperback edition

From Electronic edition

From Amazon: Kindle Edition

Don't take my word for it, here what Sir Isaac Newton of the Royal Society has to say about this lost masterpiece:

"Thou shalt laugh. Thou shalt cry. Thou shalt hurl." - Sir Isaac Newton
And you can't get fairer than that.

Save me from poverty. Buy my book.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The great cheese dilemma

Friday night, and we are doing The Big Shop.

We are doing The Big Shop in a big shop in Fleet, where we are standing in the cheese aisle, contemplating cheese.

After much deliberation, in which we refer to the infamous Robot Wars rules ("Damage, Control, Style, Aggression") to make our choice, we are left with just two candidates. And it is the Devil's choice.

"So," says Jane, "It's either the Mature Irish Cheddar that's actually tasty and not too expensive; or ..." she gulped "...Cathedral City."

Cathedral City. It is on special offer, and thus cheaper than all the other cheeses, and therein lies the dilemma.

For one: Is it really cheese? Reading the back of the packet we find that the main ingredient is - in fact - "the tormented souls of the dead", which is never a good start when you are choosing dairy products. The second main ingredient is, ominously, "Your mum".

Secondly: Where is this enigmatic "Cathedral City" of which they speak? Our spies have returned from their global mission and found that the Cathedral City is Pyongyang in North Korea, where the state religion is a mix of ATHEISM and the works of "French Elvis" JOHNNY HALLYDAY. Hardly a world-renowned centre of cheese-based excellence.

Thirdly: Purists note that Cathedral City emerged literally weeks after the use of Napalm was banned under the Geneva Convention. Yet, every day, millions are maimed for life attempting to cook Cathedral City on toast.

So, our choice boiled down to the stark facts surrounding Cathedral City and the economics of buying another, more ethical cheese. Even Primula, which is an ABOMINATION in the eyes of THE LORD, who will make your head melt like the baddies in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

We went for the Cathedral City.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A list of famous people who are really owls

A list of famous people who are really owls, living among us like our owly overlords. These are - be aware - ACTUAL photographs, and not the kind of shoddy quality photoshopping you've come to expect from these pages.

No.1 and at the top of the shop: BARACK O'BARN OWL

More from the world of politics:

General Colin P. Owl

Angela Merk-owl

Valdimir Hootin

Kim Jong Owl, former leader of the axis of ev-owl
From the world of entertainment:

Simon Cow-owl (a hideous half-owl, half-bovine ABOMINATION unto the LORD)

Cher-owl Cole

Mer-owl Streep

Jools Holland New Year HOOT-enany

Owl Owl Cool J

Owl Murray, the pub landlord
From the world of murdering grannies:

Dr Har-owl Shipman
Of course, the owls didn't always have the planet to themselves, their dominance coming after a short yet bloody war with the previous masters of the Earth - the rodents, under the leadership of MOUSE TSE-TUNG

Sunday, March 11, 2012


FACT: Owls are generally lager or bitter types. Never get them onto the hard stuff. This will happen: Woe.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekend Video: Sparks - Number One Song In Heaven

I was convinced that I had done this video before. But I haven't. Probably.

In summary: Best pop musician to ever look like Hitler.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Daily Mail FACTS

The Daily Mail - the Flying Spagetti Monster help us all - is the world's most popular news website and provider of internet linkbait. Instead of thumping our chests at this dreadful state of affairs, here are some facts about the Fdaily Mail as we celebrate that unique British success story:

Founded by famed necromancer and all-found nuisance Aleistair Crowley in 1898 as a joke, the first front page read "Can Dread Cthulhu Give You Cancer?" For the first and only time in the history of the Daily Mail, the answer being "Yes"

The Mail's oft-quoted "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!" article from 1934 is often taken out of context. Instead of praising Oswald Moseley's fascists, the item by Lord Rothermere was actually in praise of Manchester United's newly-unveiled change kit

The Daily Mail website's Right Hand Column of Doom goes all the way down through the middle of the Earth, coming out the other side of the planet with stories about Australian celebrities in bikinis

On the one occasion a story accidentally appeared in the Daily Mail's Right Hand Column Of Doom which did not feature a female celebrity in a bikini, the sub-editor on that duty was dragged out, flooged and forced to change their name by deed poll to Daily Mail Reporter

According to official records, there are 27 people working at the Daily Mail who have changed their names by deed poll to Daily Mail Reporter

Laugh a minute Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn is famed for his catchphrase "You couldn't make it up", which is ironic as it's something he manages at least twice a week. THIS IS SATIRE AT WORK, PEOPLE

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre says the title has never resorted to phone hacking to obtain celebrity stories. Also on his phone messages, he's going to be late home tonight, and "God, I hate talking to answerphones" THIS IS ALSO SATIRE AT WORK, PEOPLE
Let's hear it for the Daily Mail, everybody!

Thursday, March 08, 2012


It's another day trip with Supreme Leader of the Workers' Party of Korea Kim Jong-Un, things are getting a bit dull with the endless round of pointing at things in the middle distance, and you know how these things go...

One minute you think trying out the old "Boot polish round the binocluar eye-pieces" gag on the boss will be the funniest joke in the world, then - too late - you realise he's in a bad mood because he got to McDonald's five minutes after they stopped service breakfast, and they wouldn't let him have an Egg McMuffin, even though they still had some left.

Luckily The Young General has a sense of humour after all

Happily, in lieu of the now-forgotten Egg McMuffin, the Leader of the Glorious Songun Revolution contemplates the crushing of the Thrice-Cursed Lee Myung-Bak Cabal of Traitors and Puppets in Seoul with a little something he found in the stationery cupboard

And then back to the TV studios where The Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army finally gets to launch his pet project: A remake of the classic Benny Hill Show, starring Kim Jong-un and a bevy of busty beauties, worth a thousand enemy, their chests bursting with patriotic pride as Yakety Sax plays in the background.

And home to bed.

Looking for genuine North Korea analysis? Try this fine website

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Autobiographies of the rich, famous and the slightly bonkers

Addition, 9 December: I'm getting a lot of visitors to this page in the wake of Sir Patrick Moore's death today. I should point out that this review was tossed off several months ago, and was in no way intended to drag his name and professionalism through the mud. Yes, his was one of the finest minds this country ever produced, and his life's work is his own monument. However, his autobiography stands as a testament to forthright views with which I do not agree, a point I make abundantly clear in my review. But they do not damn the man, who will be remembered with great fondness.

A trip to my local library resulted in the smuggling home of one of the finest faux-autobiographies of all time: I, Partridge: We need to talk about Alan.

The net result of this borrow has been two-fold:

1. The introduction of "Farted myself awake" and "Needless to say, I had the last laugh" into my every day vocabulary, and

2. A like for borderline autobiography

So, farting myself awake the other weekend, I took myself to the Hot Librarian Zone that is Fleet Library, and came home with Patrick Moore: 80 Not Out and - the very pinnacle of bad autobiography - Eamonn Holmes: This is MY Life

The Holmes, I was told, is everything you can expect from the bloke who went to court to stop jokes being made about his weight on television. And I quote from the Amazon reviews:

This book is terrible. I have no inkling how Holmes manages to sound as irritating, pompous and egotistical on paper as he is in real life, but he somehow manages it. Avoid at all costs. If I could give zero stars I would.
In fact, it was only when I got it from the library (large print edition, as the author intended), telling the hot librarian to tick the "ironic borrow" box on my account that I realised that the "my" in "This is MY life" is capitalized and bolded.

And true to form, it was both entertaining, terrible and just a little bit dull. Needless to say, I had the last laugh

Sir Patrick Moore is one of our great national treasures, and his 2003 autobiography is - to start with - a refreshing change from the angst-filled tales of early life that usually pad out these editions. The first two pages of Moore's life are dealt with in the opening two pages, as he prefers to dwell on his professional career and personal views. And it's fascinating. Fascinating with at least one jaw-dropping moment in every chapter.

Moore is known as one who harbour unusual political views. He's staunchly anti-immigration, but anti-hunting and anti-capital punishment, so it's difficult to pigeon-hole him as a true right winger in any respect. But he sets his stall out early doors, describing the enemy in WWII as "Hitler, the Wops, The Nips and the Vichy Frogs" and carrying on from there. A chapter on his work as a novelist says that one book would never see the light of day because "there are no sex scenes... and no homosexuals". One can accept these as the words of a man very much of his time, but a later reference to the "Stephen Lawrence industry" left me genuinely outraged.

Can you forgive him? Hard to tell. The chapter in which he stood up to and mocked Northern Irish religious bigots is genuinely funny, and was a brave act back in those days.I wish I had his bravery. And his stock reply for doorstep God-botherers is also hilarious: "Sorry, I'm a druid. And a busy druid." And then he asks: "General Pinochet - was he all bad?"

But then he continually changes subjects, poses questions which he then doesn't answer, and devotes an entire chapter to newspaper misprints and funny headlines, which aren't.

Let's remember he was just one (very talented) amateur with a telescope who mapped the moon and was of immeasurable help to the world's space programmes; a superb TV presenter; and welcoming to (nearly) everybody who came knocking at his door. The measure of the man is that the good far, FAR outweighs the not so good.

So. Moore: Clearly a genius. Of his time, slightly mad, unintentional laughs.
Holmes: "Saved GMTV through non-stop Man United chat"

If anybody can get hold of the Don Estelle book (A byword for the bitter self-penned biography, currently retailing for a small fortune on Amazon), do drop me a line

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hobbies of the rich and famous

"Cheese!" says Alex James out of 1990s popular beat combo Blur in his new book 'I really fucking like cheese'.

From Primula and Dairlylea to the frightening Japanese Green Vein Godzilla (via a cautionary chapter on the napalm-like qualities of Cathedral City on toast), James really opens up on his favourite subject, first addressed in the Blur song "There's no other Whey"

"Cheese!" he says like a demented Wallace and Grommit, "Cheese cheese cheese cheese! I've got a cheese farm, which makes cheese! Cheese cheese cheese cheese!"

Until you tell him to shut about about bloody cheese, which he does. Eventually.

But bass-slapper James isn't the only celebrity to have an unusual hobby that keeps them from going off the rails.

TV's James Corden - North-West counties Swingball champion

Punk's Johnny Rotten - Quilting

Being weird's David Bowie - Telling people it's prounounced "Boe-ee", until they get used to it, then telling them it's "BOW-ee"

Geezerhood's Vinny Jones - Finalist in the Belgian national pinball tournament, where he lost to a deaf, dumb and blind kid

Serial granny killing's Harold Shipman - Granny killing

New Romantics' Steve Strange - The "Deltic" locomotives of the English East Coast Main Line 1961-1978. This was also his Mastermind specialist subject, in which he won his heat (but subsequently clammed up in the semi-finals on Class 47 Brush locos on the Great Western Railway)

Tennis's Andrew Murray - Mushroom growing and learning the words "Game, set and match to Federer" in as many modern languages as possible

Politics's Nick Clegg - Whatever David tells him to do for a hobby

No celebrity - as yet - has owned up to collecting Rupert the Bear annuals, widely regarded as a gateway drug to "the hard stuff". We all know what happened to Barry from EastEnders.

Monday, March 05, 2012


I started, as it often does, with a video. In this case, Doctor Who composer Murray Gold playing his "I am The Doctor" theme on the piano.

As usual, I am less impressed with the playing than I am with your man's choice of headwear. And to paraphrase the Doctor himself: "I wear a red bobble hat now. Red bobble hats are cool"

Alas, the internet's Mr Andrew Fanton says: "Booble hats aren't cool, they're WARM and SNUGGLY."

I concur. Bobble hats are EXCELLENT. However, BOOBLE hats are even better. Not only are they warm and snuggly, they are also incredibly sexy.

And, at once, others jump on the Booble Hat bandwagon, imploring me to go on Dragon's Den and pitch the idea of the Headwear that's going to sweep the nation.

They are to be the new Ugg Boots. I shall not rest until Kate Moss wears a Booble Hat.

Alas, I don't think I shall ever wear one.

I fear I may end up looking a tit.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Weekend Video: Florence and the Machine - Shake it Out

In a weekend which will be mostly spent taking daughter to see Ms AndTheMachine at the Bournemouth BIC, a song that has suddenly become an important part of the book which I am writing.

Summary: Book!

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Second Knocking of Our Lord Jesus Christ

This picture's been doing the rounds on the internet as the faithful ask "Is Jesus welcome in your house?"

Frankly, as a deity-curious atheist, the answer is a no. And we also have a strict trousers-and-no-sandals door policy which would leave Our Lord and Saviour kicking his heels out in the street

I'm pretty certain that poor, dead-yet-still-alive Jesus would be made more than welcome in some households, as this letter to a popular magazine describing a deeply religious experience proves:

Dear Fiesta, I couldn't believe my luck when Our Lord Jesus Christ came knocking asking for a cup of sugar. I'm a busty divorcee who hasn't had it in ages, but that was soon to change the second he showed me his holy spirit..."
And then...

"Oh God! Oh God!" I shouted in the throes of passion.

"That's right! Shout my name! Shout my name!"
I've been told that He's an expert on getting nailed, so this scenario isn't exactly out of the question.

So, no. Not welcome. Not even for a cup of sugar.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Press Freedom: A new twist

For years, the printed press in this country has been running amok, and it is clear that self-regulation just isn't working. And that is why we're watching the long-running Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, as we try to find a way of reigning in the worst excesses of the industry.

But, frankly, while papers are free to print what they like on their front pages, then subsequently - and months later - publish a tiny apology on page 22, nothing's going to change.

We need new ideas, and I've come up with this spunker:

That's right: Force errant newspaper editors to publish their mastheads in Comic Sans (The Font of Champions) until they're sorry.

Short of following these people home and crapping through their letterboxes (it being the only language these curs understand), it will be the only language these curs understand.

I am not mad.