Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Return of My Mixtape Hell - A Tale of Mirth and Woe

Some kind person has made me aware of this YouTube clip - Danny Baker reading out one of my finest tales of mirth and woe over the air on his late and much lamented BBC London show. The tale of my mixtape hell, which left me genuinely a-feared for my life.

And I'll go as far as saying that Baker is pretty much the only man on the planet who could do my 17-year-old voice any justice at all. He got the snivelling pretty much spot on.

It was - and still is - my finest hour.

And the story's true. Oh, so very true.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Put a body on the terrace: An introduction to the Lilac JA500 Glass Sauce Pot

Jane found this in a charity shop last week, and to my delight it was still there today. One pound fifty later it was mine, and I bought it for one simple reason: Because it's terrible. Really, really terrible. Look:

Any glass sauce pot that demand you commit murder is 100% worth £1.50 of your money.  (Penalties for homicide vary from country to country).

Congratulations on purchasing the Lilac JA500 Glass Sauce Pot. This durable piece of kitchenware will give you seconds of use, because - frankly - the instructions were written by somebody who speaks English as a 27th language.

"Herbs planted in spring eventually bear fragrant whiffs of joy". Who can't fail to be drawn to a glass sauce pot by these words of wisdom. Whiffs of joy is what the world is all about.

But let's take a look at the thing that cost me £1.50 in a charity shop before we delve into the real madness. Whiffs of joy isn't even the best/worst part.

That, sitting on a towel draped over the back of the sofa, is clearly a glass jam jar with a fancy, and not particularly safe, lid which stays on with a mere quarter twist. Uh-oh. And that's not even the best/worst part. That's probably the worst/worst part. When opening, there were no whiffs of joy.

All clear? Then we shall proceed with the instructions.

Is it opened with a personal status? Then carry on.

Wait... WHAT? Are they wanting me to commit murder? Will any body do? What if you haven't got a terrace - will a nice bit of garden decking do?

Emergency over, but having faced a direction tilt, I've found myself in the wrong room and I'm so confused. It's just a jar. IT'S JUST A JAR.

It's just a jar with lots and lots of warnings.

"Do not use the rough thing in ball in steel wire", which, as any historian will tell you, were Harry Houdini's somewhat prophetic last words before his infamous Escape From The Rough Thing In Ball In Steel Wire" trick claimed his life.

"A body is a glass", the motto of the Bargain Booze chain of off licences.

"The lid must be sterilizred with boiling water" - so, so close to making sense. And I'm always throwing my glass products in the washing machine. It's costing me a fortune.

And that bit about carrying it by the lid? There's the cop-out for making it so damn shit.

 WARNING: If your plans involve calefaction, seek a different product. Do NOT attempt to calefact the Lilac JA500 Glass Sauce Pot.

Please dispose of your Lilac JA500 Glass Sauce Pot thoughtfully and ethically. For example, at your local charity shop where it will give its next owner the minutes of extreme puzzlement it gave me.

If you need a body and/or a terrace, I know a chap who can help.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Here's Ron. Here's Mrs Ron. The couple have been in repeated conflict with Virgin Media because somebody keeps using their account details to watch pornography to the tune of several hundred pounds, and nobody knows who's doing it.

It's obviously not Mrs Ron.

And it can't be Ron.

So it must be somebody else.

And - of course - they went to the court of the last resort to prove their innocence. That being the Manchester Evening News.

Poor Ron, for the camera always, always lies.

He's now everywhere on Twitter as a byword for somebody who is clearly innocent, but the lying camera says something else.

Let's clear poor old Ron's name.

Ron is innocent.

Justice for Ron.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mercury Rev - Holes

A song of epic beauty from the album Deserter's Songs. Your mileage may vary (for example, if you're a miserable bastard).

You're welcome.

Monday, July 20, 2015

On the road with Travel Rabbit

Travel Rabbit likes to do a travel. Join us, dear reader, on his many and varied adventures in which he fails to be impressed by any of the world's wonders.

I am not mad.

Kneel before Zod

"It's just a train."

"It's just some rocks. And a small dog."

"It's just a big pond"

It's just a mahoosive pencil"

"It's just some more rocks"

"It's just the headquarters of the world's leading broadcaster"

"Now that's more like it. It's just like being in a hole"

"It's just a sign"

"It's just a deckchair"

"It's just a windmill"

"It's just a boat"

"It's just like living in a hole"

"Heh. He said Bungay"

"It's just a big house"

"It's just a tasty, tasty Little Chef Olympic Breakfast, vegetarian options available"

"It's just another building belonging to the world's leading broadcaster"

"It's just damn windy here"

"It's just a plane. It doesn't even work"

"It's just an enormous carrot"

"It's just a waterfall"
 Travel Rabbit's adventures continue.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


So, one thing led to another, and author and all-round best person on the planet JK Rowling spelled "licence" incorrectly on Twitter.

My own spelling is awful, but if there's one word that's been hammered into me through working 26 years at the BBC, it's 'licence', and I felt duty bound to correct Her Harry Potterness.

And, as if by magic...

Looks like I'm the one with the 'spells', eh readers?

Yes. Yes I am.

Current status: Human, smug, not smited by wizards.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Songs around the old camp fire

So, two weeks in the Lake District at a peaceful five-flag camp site in the shadow of the mighty Blencathra.

It offered everything the modern camper requires: a quiet shop, a toilet block, somewhere to empty your chemical lav, and internet that cost almost (but not quite) an arm and a leg.

Yes. The toilet block. It being a posh site (We had to join a club to gain access to the place, confirming my emerging old git status), somebody thought it would be a nice idea to pipe music into the toilets, the showers and the washing-up area.

It soon became clear that they only had one CD - a collection of middle of the road classics with a few Radio 2 favourites thrown in - played over and over again. There's only so many times you can listen to Walking in Memphis while taking a dump without going absolutely mental.

Several days into our ordeal by soft rock, I discovered that the CD player was in a small room marked "private" next to the gents' showers. I hatched a plan. All it needed was an Allen key, about half an hour's peace-and-quiet to remove a door and a suitable replacement disc.

Or, I could just wait for the day the cleaners accidentally left the room unlocked.
Tough on MOR music, tough on the causes of MOR music
And, thus armed with a copy of The Smurfs Go Pop, a lucky find at the Keswick Branch of Oxfam (who incurred a sharp intake of breath and not unwarranted Twitter criticism for filing Boney M under 'M'), that the plan sprung into action.

What a beautiful noise.

The next day, the middle of the road classics had returned, and the service room was tightly locked.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

So, who wants to see my holiday photos then?

Click any picture to embiggen
This years' theme is "farting about with long exposures on my camera, heaven knows I paid enough for the bloody thing".

The secondary theme is "Shoes that take three days to dry after standing around in Lake District streams".

And yes, there are many, many more. #Sorrynotsorry

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Gone fishing

I expect you're wondering why I haven't published anything for a week, and the truth is that I'm on holiday and can't be arsed. 

Not strictly true: I'm in an area of the Lake District where the mobile signal is so poor, villages advertise themselves with 'YES! We have a public phone box!' and I don't even know how they can live without full Dominos pizza coverage. 


I don't even know why I called this post 'Gone Fishing', because I hate fishing and everything it stands for (except for the part about the tasty, tasty fish, which I shall leave to the professionals). 

Still, it's a place I've never been before, and we got to witness some superb campsite shenanigans involving a drunken argument and an attempt to drive a Griswalds-sized camper van off site at 10pm in the loudest flounce off home you ever saw. 

Top flouncing indeed. 

Attempting a return to the Pencil Museum in an unconvincing Jeremy Beadle disguise tomorrow. Wish me well.