Saturday, May 31, 2008

Take Me To The River

I am reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion.

"What's the point?" you may ask. "Isn't it preaching to the converted?"

Well, I suppose it is, though I never had to be converted. But so what, anyway? I will read it then I will forget about it. I won't become any more of an atheist for reading it. I won't start arguing with the religious people I meet, asking them for evidence of their God.

I will not wear one of Dawkins' hoodies...

or stick a Darwin fish on my car... proclaim my atheism to the world. I don't take pride in my disbelief. I have never believed in the supernatural. So what?

I'm enjoying the book, especially the arguments for God's existence. There really are some hilarious ones, such as Pascal's wager and Stephen Unwin's Bayesian argument. Why try to justify faith?

Dawkins comes unstuck, though, with his knowledge of popular culture. He asks the question why is the Cluedo character known as the "Reverend Green" in all English speaking areas other than North America, where he is known as plain "Mr Green"?

The answer is, of course, that the Reverend Al Green would sue, not wishing to be associated with a character who bludgeons posh English twats to death with a length of lead piping in the conservatory.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beneath A Bushel No More

Though I've never watched it, as far as I can tell from reports, Britain's Got Talent consists of hula hoopers, acrobats, karate kickers, dancers, all-rounders, swing singers, opera singers, pop singers, whistlers, spoons players, gurners, teeth chatterers, cheek slappers, cooks, magicians, funny walkers, contortionists, garglers, plate spinners, pie eaters, beer drinkers, balloon shapers, bubble blowers, animal tamers, impressionists, ventriloquists, mind readers, spiritualists, hummers, buzzers, farters, spitters, archers, darts throwers, knife throwers, fire eaters, directory rippers, arse kickers, cellists, violinists, pianists, guitarists, washboard players, rappers, scratchers, strippers, pole dancers, sheep shaggers and car fuckers all competing for one place on the Royal Variety Performance, in front of the ever watchful eye of Simon Cowell.

Well good bloody luck to each and every one of them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You're Havana Laff

"Allo, Darlin'. I'm gonna laugh you into bed, I am."

Geoff: I quite fancy reading the Fidel Castro autobiography.

Betty: Will that be before or after Booky Wook?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gore Fest

The South Bank Show on Gore Vidal ends with a bit of awkwardness between the unpredictable 82 year old Vidal and the toadying jet black haired 68 year old Melvyn Bragg.

The camera lingers on Vidal for a while and as he starts to read we see pictures of the Earth in space.

He reads the longest sentence I've ever heard, from 'The Golden Age', 2000. I think this is what he says. It's a little too much for me.

"As for the human case, generations of men come and go and in eternity are no more than bacteria upon a luminous slide and the fall of a republic or the rise of empire, so significant to those involved, is not detectable upon the slide even with an interested eye to behold that steadily proliferating species which would either end in time or, with luck, become something else, since change is the nature of life and its hope."

We see Vidal read the last few lines as operatic music accompanies a still of the man himself and as the credits to the programme roll, as we cogitate in a state of awe, we hear the following voiceover...

"Sarah Ferguson's on a mission to help a family of overweight smokers in the first of a two-part documentary. Can she battle the bulge on a budget? The Duchess in Hull, new to ITV1, tomorrow night at 9. Next here, Hitler In Colour."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What The Papers Say

Yesterday's Guardian today had some truly beautiful travel writing.

"The pace of life isn't a drama here," observed my bloke, contentedly, while we slipped effortlessly from lattes to lunch at the Beach House Cafe, eating oily bruschetta and Thai cod cakes whose mint-laden mayonnaise evoked not Asia but Sunday lunch.

Truly beautiful. And the John Masefield quotes top the article off like a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands on a knickerbocker glory. And all for a mere £2,643 for seven nights in July and August. Dorset is truly God's own country.


And a fantastic full page advertisement on the back page of the Guardian Review:-

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to." Dorothy Parker

At Barclays Wealth, we have always recognised that wealth means different things to different people. We can help protect your wealth, grow it, use it and pass it on. And if, like Ms Parker, you are a passionate believer in philanthropic causes, we can even help you give it away.

What wonderful biting wit! Worthy of Mr Wilde or, dare I say it, Ms Parker herself.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Misreading Of The Day

I come downstairs, bleary-eyed. Betty has the BBC Text Music News on the tv.

"Kanye West sued over jizz samples" I read.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blue Flag. Up Arse. Stick.

If I were John Terry tonight, picking up a copy of the London Lite, I'd be so embarrassed I wouldn't know where to turn.

"He cried all night - Chelsea skipper inconsolable" screams the headline.

I'd be thinking to myself, "Why do I always behave like a spoilt child? Everyone knows a real man cries when he wins, not when he loses."

If I were John Terry today, I'd also be hanging my head in shame. Not for missing a penalty, but for my disgusting unprovoked spit at one of modern football's great players, Carlos Tevez. I'd be worried that Fabio Capello saw my act and won't pick me for England ever again.

The London Lite has got its knickers in a twist about the amount of potential money squandered by Chelsea's inability to win the Champions League.

£5m in prize money
£30m in commercial spin-offs and merchandising
£20m in media rights and sponsorship
£10m in increased tourism for London

Excuse me? Increased tourism for London? Who in their right mind is going to visit London just because one of its football teams won a match? I can see the logic of some idiots visiting London because of the Royal Family's presence (though nowhere near as many idiots as is claimed), but a football team?

What utter bullshit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Over The Hill

The past couple of weeks have thrown up a similar image to this...

...on Radio One's Big Weekend.

And something similar to this...

...on Later With Jools.

Madonna is 49. Nick Cave is 50. They were at the peak of their creativity in the 1980s. Back in those days Madonna would cavort onstage in all kinds of get ups. She was known for her raunchy, high energy act. Nick Cave was known for his wild, junkie preacher show. Seeing him live was a little unnerving, as I imagine seeing Ian Curtis was to those luckier/more hip than myself.

Now they hide behind guitars. Guitars don't look right on them. Madonna was born to cavort, hands-free. Nick Cave was born to preach, hands-free. A guitar isn't performance-viagra to the middle aged pop star. It is a crutch for a failing body. A body broken and old and withered and worn.

Making pop music is for the young. And these young compatriots of Old Nick have made the album of the year so far. Well, according to the bloke in the Guardian Guide they have. And I, trend-following wanker, find it hard to disagree. Ladies and gentlemen, Cut Copy...

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Betty says I have a reputation of being a bit of a Little Englander so I should mention what happened in Sainsbury's yesterday.

I was apoplectic with rage.

We were unloading our basket at the checkout, at the end of the conveyor belt. There was one person being served in front of us.

I looked up and from the checkout next to us, came a man and woman. At the front of OUR conveyor belt, they unloaded one basket. They then placed the divider on the belt. They then unloaded ANOTHER basket. And placed another divider on the belt. They didn't look back at us, at me looking daggers, apoplectic with rage. APOPLECTIC WITH RAGE.

The woman had a badge stuck to her jeans. "Open University" it said. What the fuck kind of education is it that promotes pushing in queues?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cleans His Teeth Ten Times A Day

The choice of dentists in our area is as follows...

1. The dentist I've had since I was a boy. He does all his own work. He checks, he scrapes, he cleans and polishes. And he fills and extracts. He's in his 60s now and I've spent the past few years going back to him with one problem after another. A young dentist should really be taking his place but he's hanging on. As it's a bit of a journey to get there and I was having more and more time off work, I thought I'd try a nearer, more convenient dentist.

2. A nearer, more convenient dentist. He does all his own work. He checks, he scrapes, he cleans and polishes. And he fills. I'm sure he'd extract if the tooth was beyond a reasonably-priced repair. He's in his 70s now and a young dentist should really be taking his place but he's hanging on. I went back to him several times in a few months with problem after problem.

3. The second nearest, but most convenient dentist as he's open from 8 a.m. I've now settled with this one. He's young and lightning quick. His check-ups last a couple of minutes. He would fill but I'm not sure if he would extract. He's probably one of the new school who like to save teeth as saving teeth generates more income. At another dentist's, my sister has just paid £400 for a cap. My new dentist doesn't scrape, clean or polish. He has a couple of dental hygienists to do that for him.

I've seen her twice. She doesn't look me in the eye. She reads her notes and puts her mask on. She lowers me down until I am horizontal (which I find uncomfortable because of my digestive problem).

"Any problems? No? Good! Using an electric toothbrush like I told you? Good! That's much better! Flossing?"

"No, but I'm using mouthwash."

"Useless. Mouthwash won't get rid of all this. Look at all this debris between your teeth."

"I once tried flossing but I wasn't very good at it. I can't get to the back teeth."

"It's a knack. Start on the front teeth first. You'll get the hang of it. Like this. Up and down. Up and down. Like you're removing glue."


"You will get the hang of it. When you pay for your visit you will purchase this special floss you cannot get in supermarkets. You will start with the front teeth. Once you have mastered the front teeth you will move to the side teeth. Up and down, up and down. Once you have mastered the side teeth you will go to the back teeth. Up and down, up and down, you will get rid of the debris. You must get rid of the debris! You must! You must! Heil Hitler!"

"Heil Hitler!"

"No, you must raise your left arm like this. Heil Hitler!"

"Heil Hitler!"

"That is much better. I will see you in three months. No longer than three months. We must eradicate this debris. Goodbye."

"Heil Hitler!"

"No, you must walk like this. Heil Hitler!"

"Heil Hitler!"

"Keep walking like this until you get the hang of it. Come on, round the room. Step and step and step, come on, lift those feet!"

"Heil Hitler!"

"Heil Hitler! Good! Keep practising!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Boris Johnson Limerick Post

Roll up! Roll up!

It's the Boris Johnson limerick post!

Let's be having your limericks about the great man in the comments section.

The man who promised to stop the rail workers from striking, who promised to rid the city of knife crime, who promised to reintroduce Routemasters, who promised to reduce your Council tax bill and give you better services, who promised to get more black men teaching black boys, who promised to plant a tree with the money he saved from scrapping the Mayor's Londoner newspaper.

Well, actually he has ditched the Londoner and planted a tree with his own bare hands.

Well, actually he didn't do any digging, just moved a bit of earth from A to B.

Anyway, here's mine...

There once was a toff with blond hair
Who had not a singular care
Whether young men were stabbed
Or their killers were nabbed
But he don't sleep at night now he's Mayor

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gordon's Grin

Well what a season that was! Comfortably mid-table right from the word "Go!"

No nail-biting last-week relegation scraps. No heart-stopping promotion play-offs. Just nice relaxing Sundays watching recordings of Sky's excellent Football First highlights. No Match of the Day, with its insufferable smugness and bias towards the teams at the top.

Congratulations to Stoke City on their promotion. Stoke are my second team and the team of the mother-in-law I never met but wish I could have. Gordon Banks' fantastic save from Geoff Hurst's penalty in the 1972 League Cup Semi-Final deserved a winner's medal. And they went on to beat Chelsea in the final. Yes, the great Chelsea with all their history and glamour.

Here's looking forward to next season. The Top Four will be broken. The Nouveaux Riches are coming to get you!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sweet Smell Of A Successful Relationship

We're talking about relationships, wondering what people's home lives are like and saying how we both thought we'd never find someone we could live with - soppy bollocks like that.

"But you can get too comfortable with someone," says Betty.

"How?" I say.

"There was this woman I used to work with. One day she said how comfortable her and her husband were in each other's company. So comfortable that when she took a bath, he often came into the bathroom, sat on the toilet and had a shit."

"Christ, that's disgusting," I say. "Did he purposely wait till she was in the bath?"

"I don't think so. He used to put a towel over his head while he did it. So he could concentrate on what he was doing."

"How could she say that in the office?"

"The strange thing was, the other women in the office didn't bat an eyelid. They were completely indifferent."

"Maybe that's the norm. Maybe we're not as close as we thought."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Madame Blavatsky

Tim has kindly set me the task to furnish you with eight facts about the phenomenon that was Madame Blavatsky. Madame Blavatsky was a real person, not to be confused with Madame Bovary who was a fictional character. But even a cursory glance at the Russian Madame's life story throws up inconsistencies and it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.

But here we go. In for a penny, in for a pound. 8 Random Facts about the great woman (at least one of which is possibly a Random Fib)...

1. Helena Blavatsky, in 1888, was the first person to use the phrase
“intelligent design” to convey her understanding of evolution. The evolution of the species was guided by an underlying purposeful intelligence in nature. So, Mr Scientist, there is no “chance” about it.

2. Madame Blavatsky was a founder of the Theosphical Society whose chief aim was to “reconcile all religions, sects and nations under a common system of ethics, based on eternal verities.” The creation, therefore, of a groovy Brotherhood of Man.

3. According to Madame Blavatsky herself, she married at 17 to a much older man, stole a horse to escape from her unhappy marriage, and remained a virgin her entire life. As a true practitioner of Theosophy should “live, if the esoteric instructions shall profit him, a life of abstinence in everything, of self-denial and strict morality, doing his duty by all men,” she seems to have done pretty well to control her sexual urges.

4. However, according to other sources, she had several extramarital affairs and even mothered a child. So did she really live a life of abstinence?

5. She claimed to have had childhood visions in the 1830s of a tall Hindu who eventually materialised in Hyde Park and became her guru and advisor. From Hyde Park, she went to Tibet where she was trained by Theosophy masters from 1868 to 1870. She spread the theosophy message around the world till her death in 1891.

6. She was also an Eastern Star Freemason, a member of the largest fraternal organisation in the world that men and women can join. The order is open to people of all monotheistic faiths, so one wonders which god she aligned herself to in order to join up.

7. One of her followers in the 1980s was Roger Taylor of Duran Duran. Roger kept an inspirational photograph (see above) of her taped to his drum kit. Simon Le Bon and John Taylor found this most amusing and wrote a 5 minute jam called Wanking Over Madame B which can be heard on the bootleg album Duran Live In Bogota.

8. In her later years she gained employment as a circus performer and seance assistant. In no way does this discredit the seriousness in which her works are held. In no way at all.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's A Load Of Bollocks

That's it. I'm scrapping the Low GI Diet. I was so bloated this morning I was surprised nobody congratulated me on my pregnancy.

I'm going to try Prebio 7, a mixture of prebiotics and probiotics. The blurb on the packet says "Shhh...! The French Secret". Shhhit! Jolie Merde! I'll have a stomach like Ian Curtis in no time.

Monday, May 05, 2008

GI Joe, How Low Can You Go?

I never believed there was such a thing as middle aged spread. Until I went to buy some new work trousers a few weeks ago. It seems my waistline (and the waistband of the old trousers) have stretched by three inches in the past year or so.

"I'm spreading," I thought. "I've got to stop spreading NOW".

So how to cut down without feeling pangs of hunger? Not real hunger, of course. Rich, western world hunger, the feeling you get when you're used to overeating and now you've got to eat healthy portions.

My weakness isn't fat or sugar. I have a low fat, low sugar diet. My weakness is complex carbohydrates.

I can't get enough of bread and cereals.

So I was speaking to my old friend, Antony Worrall Thompson. "Wozza," I said. "How come you look so slim these days?"

Look at Wozza in the bad old days...

And Wozza now...

How did he get from being an overweight, unhappy misanthropist to a slim, happily full-of-energy-people-lover?

The Low GI Diet, that's how!

Eating slow release foods that keep you feeling fuller for longer. Throw away that Shredded Wheat, Ian Botham! Have a bowl of All Bran. Discard that wholemeal bread, Lucky Jim! Try some soya and linseed bread or a few oatcakes. Eat less, feel more satisfied and full of energy. Pour away that fruit juice! Eat real fruit. You'll be on your way to your five a day and you won't get the slumps!

That's the theory, anyway. I'm into my third day and it could be a load of bollocks but I must admit the beer I had last night gave me a sugar rush like nothing on earth. It was fucking amazing, man.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Goodbye Red Ken

Remember those early years of Thatcher? When any semblance of socialism in our national government died? So with London today.

Goodbye, Ken. I know you couldn't do much but at least I got to vote for someone I liked and who won for a few years. Now it's back to watching the others get in. Back to cold isolation.


Remember those early years of Thatcher? Remember when we bought those Kid Creole albums to take us away to another place?

I'd heartily recommend Kid Creole: Going Places The August Darnell Years 1976-1983. It's a great compilation from a fantastic period for pop music. It's alright, he doesn't sing on that many of the tracks so if you don't like his voice, get it anyway.


In other news, I've discovered this blog's the best place to find "green pin striped suit plenty of fish".

But I won't carp on about it.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Remember When This Was All Fields?

A few Saturdays ago we left the house for the town centre. As we walked up the street a group of eight nice-looking wouldn't hurt a fly young men were walking towards us. They walked up garden paths and gently posted whatever they were carrying through letterboxes. As we walked past one he smiled at us, a lovely, friendly, in love with life smile.

"I bet they're members of the Green Party," I said to Betty.

Later, when we got home, we discovered a leaflet urging us to vote Green.


Today at work we are talking about yesterday's elections.

"Did you vote?" I ask a younger colleague.

"I didn't vote but everybody I've spoken to, literally all my friends, everybody, voted for the Greens. I was speaking to Kerry this morning and she said her and Steve both voted Green too."