Saturday 30 May 2009

How Insulting!

Many people have insulted me over the years. Many people still do.

I’m not talking about people who swear at me, or tell me in no uncertain terms what they think of me. I’m referring to clever little put downs that are rude but funny.

Below are some great examples of insults that I have stumbled upon while travelling in cyberspace, peppered with one or two that I have picked up from other people.

If you had brains, you’d be dangerous.

Keep talking – one day you might say something intelligent or interesting.

How do you manage to get dressed in the morning?

Don’t feel sad – there are a lot of other talentless people around.

Even stupid people think you are stupid.

If you spoke your mind you would be speechless.

Humans are meant to live and learn. You just live.

You’d be out of your depth in a puddle.

Crikey – take that bloody mask off. Oh sorry – you’re not wearing one.

Hi – I’m from Earth. Where are you from?

How did you get here? Did somebody leave a cage open?

When you fell out of the ugly tree, did you hit every branch?

100,000 sperm and you won the race?

You’re the kind of person they would use as a blueprint to build an idiot.

Calling you “stupid” would be an insult to stupid people.

Is there a village somewhere missing an idiot?

I look into your eyes and get the feeling someone else is driving.

You’re a sandwich short of a picnic.

As an outsider, what do you think of the human race?

You are living proof that man can function without a brain.

Something crossed your mind? Must have been a long and lonely journey.

Here are some insults from some of my favourite comedy shows:


"We live in an age where illness and deformity are commonplace and yet, Ploppy, you are without a doubt the most repulsive individual I have ever met. I would shake your hand but I fear it might come off."

“Yes, it's not the only thing that is "very small indeed". Your brain for example – it is so minute, Baldrick, that if a hungry cannibal cracked your head open, there wouldn't be enough to cover a small water biscuit.”

“Percy, far from being a fit consort for a Prince of the Realm, you would bore the leggings off a village idiot. You ride a horse rather less well than another horse would. Your brain would make a grain of sand look large and ungainly and the part of you that can't be mentioned, I am reliably informed by women around the Court, wouldn't be worth mentioning even if it could be. If you put on a floppy hat and a funny codpiece, you might just get by as a fool, but since you wouldn't know a joke if it got up and gave you a haircut, I doubt it.”

"The eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr Brain has long since departed, hasn't he, Percy?"

Red Dwarf:

“I can’t believe I’m doing this. Look at me – I’m disgusting. I look like you in your best clothes”

“I am Holly – the ship’s computer, with an IQ of 6000 – the same as 6000 PE teachers.”

“The mind-probe was created to detect guilt, yet in the case of Arnold Judas Rimmer the guilt it detected attaches to no crime. He held a position of little or no authority on Red Dwarf. He was a lowly grease-monkey, a nothing, a piece of sputum floating in the toilet bowl of life. Yet he could never come to terms with a lifetime of under- achievement. His absurdly inflated ego would never permit it. He's like the security guard on the front gate who considers himself head of the corporation. So, when the crew were wiped out by a nuclear accident, Arnold Rimmer accepted the blame: it was his ship, ergo his fault. I ask the court: look at this man. This man who sat and failed his astronavigation exam on no less than thirteen occasions. This sad man, this pathetic man, this joke of a man. I ask the court one key question: would the Space Corps have allowed this man ever to be in a position where he might endanger the ship? A man so petty and small-minded he would while away his evenings sewing name labels on to his ship-issue condoms? A man of such awesome stupidity, he even objects to his own defence counsel. An overzealous, trumped up little squirt, an incompetent vending-machine repairman with a Napoleon complex, who commanded as much respect and affection from his fellow crew members as Long John Silver's parrot. Who would put this man, this joke of a man, a man who couldn't outwit a used tea bag, in a position of authority where he could wipe out an entire crew? Who? Only a yoghurt. This man is not guilty of manslaughter. He's only guilty of being Arnold J. Rimmer. That is his crime. It is also his punishment. Defence rests.”

"Look, we all have something to bring to this discussion. But I think from now on the thing you should bring is silence."

Two of my favourite insults supposedly come from Winston Churchill:

Woman: Sir, you are drunk!
Churchill: And you, madam are ugly! But at least I’ll be sober in the morning.

Woman: If you were my husband I would poison your tea.
Churchill: If you were my wife I would drink it.

Finally, here is a sketch from Alexei Sayle’s TV show, which I personally think is hilarious (my warped sense of humour I’m afraid). It demonstrates the clever use of put-downs but the point is emphasized with mindless violence.

What are your favourite insults?

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Exploding Children

WARNING – if you don’t like tales of vomit and poo and babies, stop reading now.

I remember, with fondness, the first time my eldest son exploded.

It was approximately 3am in the summer of 1993. My wife had just returned from the hospital with our first son and I was lying there in bed on that first night, struggling to sleep. I am a light sleeper and the sound of a third person breathing softly in our room was a little too much noise for my level of tolerance. The light breathing of my little one started to become more agitated and louder. After a minute or two, he was crying softly.

“I’ve just fed him,” said my wife. “I think his nappy needs to be changed.”

Leaping out of bed like a hero, I said. “I will do it.”

I don’t know who I thought I was – some kind of super Dad perhaps. Dressed just in underpants (a sight that was pretty dreadful even then), I crept around the bed, picked up my new son and stumbled to the bathroom. By this time, he was crying really loudly (possibly at the sight of me in underpants). I was stunned that a creature so small could make so much noise. The more I tried to soothe him the more he screamed. His face started to turn red.

I clumsily extracted him from his babygrow and lay him onto the special plastic contraption we had bought to, apparently, make changing a nappy easy. It was perched on the bath. I knelt in front of it.

For a few seconds I actually thought I knew what I was doing. My son was facing me, his little legs kicking in front of me. I pulled the tabs on the disposable nappy and opened it up to reveal a vision of hell.

The nappy was full of a green-black substance that frankly looked alien to me. And it was sticky – boy was it sticky. For a second I thought it was alive. And the odour, though not utterly revolting was deep and menacing.

Breathing in, I went for it. I carefully wiped away as much of the foul substance as I could from his bottom and disposed of the contaminated baby wipes slowly and carefully into yet another plastic contraption we had bought. I was careful to avoid getting the green substance onto any part of my skin. I placed the final baby wipe into the contraption and turned back to my son. That’s when he exploded.

First, a huge fountain of urine spurted out of his little todger, hitting me directly on my throat. I reacted the same way that any other person would do having been hit by fresh urine for the first time; I screeched and fell backwards, clawing at my throat as the foul warm liquid ran down my bare chest.

As I fell, I was aware that the fountain was not stopping. The floor, the plastic contraption, my son and I were all covered in urine. It was relentless. How could a small baby contain so much pee? I had it in my hair – MY HAIR!!

When it finally stopped, I had to set about cleaning up the mess. I carefully cleaned the baby first, then the plastic contraption. I lay down a towel and carefully placed my now happy baby onto it. He watched with interest as I mopped up. And then he exploded again – this time from the other end.

I watched in horror as another lump of green stickiness spurted out onto the towel. In panic, I picked up my son foolishly thinking that would somehow stop the mess. It didn’t. He hadn’t finished. Not by a long way. And there was more pee as well.

By the time he had finished, I was covered in urine and green poo – and so was he. And the worst part of it was that the green crap had somehow found its way to my fingernails. MY FINGERNAILS!!!

My wife, wondering what the screeching was, came and rescued me at this point. She was surprised to find that I was the one screeching, not my son. “What are you feeding him?” I wailed. “Poo shouldn’t be THIS colour!”

Since then I have had a major aversion to the substances that explode out of children. Sadly I have had to cope with such trauma on numerous occasions.

Around a year later, I was playing with my eldest son, this time unaware that my wife had just fed him. He loved being lifted into the air; he would whoop with delight as I raised him above my head and lower him back down.

I was sitting on the floor in the lounge lifting him up, lowering him down and lifting him up ad nauseam. He was giggling and I loved it. Unfortunately, I overdid it and he exploded.

A fountain of vomit spurted out of his mouth with such force that I almost fell backwards. It splashed out onto my T-shirt and ran down the inside onto my bare chest. It was warm, sticky and horrifically smelly. My wife came in to see what the screeching was (me again) and screamed at me: “Don’t let any of it go on the carpet”.

There I was holding a puking child, screeching like a banshee (both of us) and squeezing my legs together so that the unending fountain of vomit didn’t splash onto the carpet.

My final tale also involves vomit. Again, it was my eldest son. This time, we were in the park kicking a ball around. He was two and I was trying to train him to be the next George Best. After a while, he started whimpering.

“Are you OK?” I asked. He started crying. Like any caring father, I picked him up held him close to comfort him. And then he exploded. He threw up all over me. Once more, the foul substance found its way under my clothes and onto my naked skin. I screeched in disgust and this time there were plenty of people around to laugh at me. And they did – with gusto.

I ran to the car like a man possessed, kicking the ball as I went, carrying my screaming child and almost puking myself. People stared at me as if I were an alien. By the time I got back to the car, I had it in my hair, all over my coat and even running down my trousers. The car was a complete smelly mess. When I returned home, I had to clean up myself, my son and my car.

There have been many other tales of child explosion in my life and they have all been revolting. Thankfully, those episodes are now over as my children are both teenagers.

I’m looking forward to relating tales of their explosions when they have become mature adults.

I think I’ll wait until the day the get married.

Monday 25 May 2009

A Touch Of Grey

Well they’ve done it again: those guys from “Just For Men” have produced yet another miracle that has left me speechless with shock.

The good news is that they seem to be acknowledging the fact that grey hair does not necessarily turn a man into an ugly old codger who is repulsive to women.

The bad news is that they are still exploiting the deep innermost fears that most men have in their middle age.

I was eating a bag of crisps when I saw the commercial for the first time today and now my telly screen is covered with half-chewed potato product. Why? Because once again I ranted with a mouthful of crisps and poor Mrs PM had to endure my tirade.

“Who do these people think we are?” I yelled. “When a man becomes grey, does he bloody well lose his marbles?”

She actually agreed with me that this particular commercial was ridiculous, before making me put away my soapbox and clean the telly.

I would embed the advert into this blog to show you how utterly dreadful it is. However, I simply can’t bring myself to do it. I just can’t – it is so awful. If you are desperate, you can find it on YouTube.

Picture the scene.

A man is sitting on a psychiatrist’s chair. His hair is almost grey but there is evidence that the war against nature has not completely been lost. The narrator says:

“Sooner or later you and your grey hair will face an identity crisis”.

Now for me, the words “identity crisis” say “midlife crisis” and any man feeling inadequate will be punctured by those words.

The man in the advert morphs into two versions of himself; one has a full head of jet black hair, the other has a full head of grey hair that is pretty close to being white.

Sitting in the chair facing him is a sexy female psychiatrist who is staring at the morphed men with a professional air, and not in the least bit surprised that there are now two men in front of her.

The grey-haired version of our hero says “My hair says experience”

The black-haired version of our hero sneers and says “My hair says energy”.

At this point I said “Bleeuuurrghhhh!!!”

As with all “Just For Men” commercials, the miracle cure was then introduced:

“Touch of Grey – Best Of Both”

We then see the original semi-grey man, combing some goo into his hair and our narrator says:

“…combs away a little grey without getting rid of it all. Never too much; just right”

We then see the two men re-morph into a single man with black hair but just a little grey here and there and he says the following (please make sure that you don’t have a mouthful of food when you read this – your computer screen will never forgive you):

“Now I look like I know what I’m doing – and can still do it.”

And what of the professional female psychiatrist? Instead of running from the room, screaming about men splitting into two people and then rebonding, she turns into a fawning bimbette, obviously in awe of the mutant who has appeared in front of her.

Am I the only one who despises these kinds of advert? I’ve ranted about them before but they are getting worse. They are preying on our fears, guys. They are trying to make believe that you can mutate into a successful good looking man who only has to wink at a women to ensnare her.

It will not work. Instead of looking like a grey-haired man you will look like a muppet. Don’t believe them. If you are in the middle of a midlife crisis this is NOT what you need.

We are being exploited again, guys. There IS no elixir that will make you irresistible to women or turn you into a successful businessman.

Don’t forget – if you have wrinkles and grey hair, you will look normal. If you have wrinkles and jet black hair you will look like a goon.

Worse still, if you think that “Touch of Grey” is middle ground, then consider this scenario:

What if you run out of the goo before you have completed the job? You will end up with one side of your head black and the other side grey. You will look like this:

You be a complete arse and have to shave the whole lot off, which will age you even more and kick your self-esteem in the nuts.

Don’t go there – I implore you. Please, just grow old gracefully.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Boring Boring Premiership - Part Two

Another English Premiership season is over. Guess what? Manchester United won it again.

On 11th August 2008, I posted my predictions for the English Premier League (see it here). Guess what? I predicted that Manchester United would win it.

Now, does this make me Nostradamus? Should I go out and buy a lottery ticket for next week, knowing that I will surely win and become a millionaire?

No – of course not. Why? Because, as I said in August, the Premiership has become so predictable that even a man like me, who supports a team in the third tier of English football, can predict who will be crowned the English Champions. Furthermore, I managed to predict the top four – although I chose second and third place the wrong way round.

As for the rest of the positions, clubs like Stoke City, Wigan Athletic, Middlesborough, Fulham and Newcastle United let me down, but by and large my predictions were not too far away.

All this goes to show that I was right – the Premiership has become a boring season long spectacle. The games are exciting to watch but the result is totally predictable. There were one or two exceptions but generally that was the case.

I know for a fact that exactly the same will happen next season. There may be the odd surprise but I know that Manchester United will batter Wolves and Arsenal will destroy Sunderland.

I won’t repeat the previous post and moan again; I’ve said all I need to say.

However, what I would like to happen is for somebody somewhere to level the playing field somehow.

I look back fondly to the days when a club could come from nowhere and win the league or a cup. I remember great days when players actually played for the love of the club and not a colossal salary.

In my lifetime, Walsall, the club that has taken possession of my soul, has beaten Manchester United and Arsenal. That would not happen now, unless those clubs fielded a weakened team.

The heart of football has been wrenched out by the bony hand of corporate greed. We now see multi-millionaires throwing enormous sums of cash at the biggest clubs.

The romance of football is becoming a fading memory.

And, to be perfectly honest, it saddens me to the very core of my being. It used to be that Premiership clubs could compete with each other – now they can’t because we have a four-tiered league within a league.

It has been a sad season for true football fans and it will continue to decline as more and more millions come into the elite clubs.

I implore the governing bodies to level the playing field and do something about this. A wage cap would be a start. Getting rid of the so-called “big four” would be an alternative – if they want to play the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and AC Milan week in week out, let them do it and let the rest of us enjoy a more competitive competition.

The game I grew up with and loved is dying, dear readers, and the disease it has is incurable greed. Why else would American and Russian billionaires pump millions into clubs they know nothing about? Is it because they suddenly become Chelsea or Manchester United fans overnight? Of course it isn’t. The sport has become big business and the very soul of it is blackened as a result.

The grim reaper is hammering nails into the coffin of the game I love; he has almost finished.

Friday 22 May 2009

Men Versus Women

I often generalise about women (much to Mrs PM’s disgust) and despite the criticism I stand by what I say.

Women are fundamentally different from men.

I’m not just talking about appearance (even I know that); I’m talking about outlook on life, reaction to ideas, inner thought processes, goals – just about everything in fact. Mrs PM sometimes accuses me of being sexist, but I think I’m being observant. We are different creatures.

I’d like to prove this to Mrs PM and to any other people out there who disagree with me. One item of proof is that fabulous book written about the differences between men and women:

“Men Are From Earth; Women Are From a Completely Different Galaxy in an Alternate Reality”

Once more I have trawled the internet for evidence, not only for your benefit, dear reader, but also to prove that I am correct. Here’s what I have observed and discovered:


When women get together, they basically sit and talk all night about anything and everything. What’s more they actually listen to each other and do care about what is said. They also want to know the intimate details of absolutely everything about the other females present.

When men get together, they barely talk about anything other than sport, the women they fancy or beer. The most used phrases on a lad’s night out are: “It’s your round” and “I’ll have a pint of bitter.” If a man starts talking about his innermost feelings he is ignored in favour of discussions about changes to the offside rule.


Women will quite happily sit watching a romantic comedy like “An Officer and a Gentleman” or “Dirty Dancing”. They will cry and laugh at the same time. The hero will be a hopeless romantic (barely like any real man) and will sweep the heroine off her feet at the end of the film and ride of with her into the sunset to start the happiest family in the world ever.

Men will go to see an all out action film, starring Sly Stallone, Arnie Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise (as long as it’s not a romantic movie) or preferably all of them. The movie will be thin on plot but high on explosives and will feature a plethora of gratuitous sex and violence throughout.


Women grow moustaches when they grow old.

Men grow boobs.


When a woman gets married she spends 99% of the time thinking about every aspect of the big day; the dress, the ceremony, the flowers, the meal, the romance of it all.

When a man gets married he thinks about the stag party.


When a woman calls another woman on the phone, they will discuss life, the Universe and everything for hours and hours on end.

When a man calls another man on the phone, the conversation goes something like this:

MAN1: What time are you going to the pub?

MAN2: 8 o’clock at the Red Lion.

MAN1: See you there.


The average woman owns 351 pairs of shoes.

The average man owns one pair of shoes and a pair of trainers.


Women will compliment their friends. Sometimes they mean it; sometimes they will compliment even when they are envious and think that their friends have a better outfit.

Men insult their friends constantly. Four men in a pub will call each other names like “Fatso”, “Boghead”, “Squeaky” and “Troll”.


Women have 2451 items in the bathroom cabinet. Men do not understand what 2445 of them are.

Men have six items (five if they use an electric razor).


A successful man is a high earner who makes more money than his wife can spend.

A successful woman is one who can find such a man.


A woman wants a knight in shining armour; a man who is full of romance and will carry her off to heaven in a tsunami of flowers, cuddly animals and soft music.

Men just want to have sex.


If a woman is lost, she will stop and ask the nearest person which way to go.

If a man is lost he will drive around for hours, convinced that he is on the right track; he will be oblivious to the fact that he may be driving around in circles: “I didn’t know there were THREE Houses of Parliament in London …”


Women have an infinite amount of moods depending on various combinations of external influence. Men understand none of them.

Men have three – horny, hungry and tired.


The perfect date for a woman involves the man treating her like a princess throughout the date. He will be thoughtful, complimentary, chivalrous, romantic and supportive. He will wine her, dine her, listen to her, understand her, be at one with her and be her soulmate. She will be able to confess anything to him and he will be understanding and sympathetic. He will be generous and give her gifts.

The perfect date for a man involves sport, TV, beer, stupidity, games and sex.


Women take an eon to prepare themselves for a night out, planning the outing meticulously using colour coordination to ensure that every aspect of make-up, perfume and clothing complement each other perfectly to make her the most glamorous princess in the world. This task takes hours and hours and she will change her mind and her clothing often.

Men take five minutes and care more about that first beer than their appearance.

There are many more things I can talk about, and probably will do in future posts. Do you agree with what I’ve said above? I know that most men will do but this post will be seen as controversial to women, and maybe I will be treated as a sexist pig. To be honest, I’m not. I love women and I embrace the differences – it’s what makes them interesting to me.

I still don’t understand them but I am getting there.

Monday 18 May 2009

Random Questions

I’ve just come across a blog with a load of random questions, presumably answered by the author at the request of somebody else.

I have decided to steal these questions shamefully, ruthlessly and with no remorse whatsoever and answer them myself. Why? Because I thought it might be a bit of a laugh.

Here goes:

Just drank 15 shots, what would you be doing?
I would be lying on the floor telling anybody who would listen that I loved them. Then I would probably fall unconscious.

Do you hate the last person you kissed?
Nope. I don’t kiss people I hate.

Ever licked someone's cheek or forehead?
Yes and unfortunately I still bear the scars.

When did you last throw up and where?
It was in Blackpool last summer. I was at a 30th birthday party and had been feeling off-colour all day. The party was good but I ate and drank virtually nothing. I arrived back at Mrs PM’s father’s house just in time to throw up in the bathroom. I spent the entire night doing the same and had to miss a cricket test match at Old Trafford the next day. I was most disappointed.

Have you ever flown on an airplane?
Hundreds of times.

What do you carry with you at all times?
My wallet, credit cards, keys and mobile phone.

What happened at 9:00 am today?
I was reading through a pile of emails.

Are you mean?
I can be sometimes.

Ever have a sleepover with the opposite sex?
Of course - Mrs PM is the opposite sex.

What was the last song you listened to?
Nazareth – Please Don’t Judas Me. Listen to it here ==>

Do you and your parents get along?
My dad died when I was 19. I get on reasonably well with my mother.

Do you wanna tell someone how you feel?
I always tell people how I feel – that’s why I am accused of being a ranting old grump.

Have you ever kissed anyone whose name started with a J?

What holiday is your birthday closest to?
Hallowe’en. Says a lot really.

How many different things did you drink today?
Four. Tea, decaffeinated coffee, grapefruit juice and fizzy grapefruit flavoured water.

Do you think you've changed over the past year?
Yes, definitely. The older I get, the grumpier I get but I am becoming far more confident. Beware my 50th birthday in three and a half year’s time. I will be unbearable.

Who is the last person to send you a message?
A mate asking if I wanted to see a rock band at a pub.

How old do you think you'll be when you have kids?
I have two kids already.

Do you think you'll be married in 5 years?
No. I’ve been there, done that, written about it, bought the T shirt, paid the price. I'm happy as I am.

Are you waiting for something?
Yes – that elusive lottery win so that I can leave the rat race and travel the world.

Were you happy when you woke up today?
On a Monday? Not bloody likely.

If you could change your eye color, would you?
No – Mrs PM likes my blue eyes.

What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Driving to work.

Do you like to have long hair or short hair?
Short at the moment.

Do you want a different hair style?
Bloody Hell – YES. In fact, I want a complete hair transplant. I would shave the whole lot off if Mrs PM would let me.

What was the last thing you hid?
Cat food from Jasper, our bear-sized cat. He is on a diet.

Name 3 emotions at this exact moment:
Happiness, frustration, love.

Have you ever intentionally made someone jealous?
No. I couldn’t do that.

Do you spend a lot of time with your parents?
Not nearly enough.

Do you flip your pillow to the cold side?

Do you sleep with one leg out from under the covers?
When Mrs PM steals the duvet, yes.

What woke you up this morning?
Radio Five Live news at 7:00 on the clock radio alarm.

How many times have you eaten sushi?
Probably about ten times. It’s OK but overrated.

What made your day today?
Watching the finale of the current season of Lost. It’s been one of those sad days...

What's something you are looking forward to in the near future?
A weekend in Amsterdam in June.

This time last year, were you single?

Are you a big fan of thunderstorms?
I love them. Next time I see one, I intend to try photographing lightning.

Do you ever think "what if" about anything?
All the time.

Who was the last person of the opposite sex you had a conversation with?
Mrs PM.

Do you think relationships are hard?
Not at all.

Has someone of the opposite sex ever told you they loved you, and meant it?
Yes. A couple of times.

Do you say hello daily?
Many times.

Are you good at giving directions?
I like to think so. Other people disagree.

If something was wrong, who is the first boy you would go to?
No idea. It depends what is wrong.

Who is the first girl you'd go to?
Mrs PM or, failing that, one of my sisters.

Do you always answer your texts?
No. I am often told off for it.

Did you sleep in past noon today?

Talked to an ex lately?
I speak to the ex-wife fairly regularly.

Do you want someone back in your life?
I’ve lost touch with a few people over the years due to my own inability to make an effort. It would be nice to see some old mates again.

Is anything annoying you right now?
Yes. British politicians claiming inappropriate and possibly illegal expenses (see my previous post).

Is this summer gonna be a good one?
It had better be – I’m sick of rain.

Are you satisfied with what you currently have in life?
Yes – apart from not having millions of pounds.

Have you ever skipped school just because you were tired?
No. I was a swot really.

Anything you would change about your life right now?
Thousands of little things but the only major thing would be a massive injection of cash from those lottery people.

Would you ever date someone who thought they knew EVERYTHING?
No. I don’t like know-it-alls.

What do the majority of people in your life call you?
Dave (or “Arse”)!

Are you texting or IMing anyone right now?

When is your pet's birthday?
Apparently two have birthdays in March and we haven’t a clue about Spike the old cuckoo-cat.

The phone rings, what is your ringtone?
The Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Listen to it here ==>

Did you go anywhere yesterday?
Yes – Tesco for the weekly shop and a curry with the in-laws.

Last time you talked to your mom?
On her birthday last week.

Where's the last place you walked to?
Apart from tramping around work today, I walked to the Indian Restaurant yesterday.

Last time you had a sleepover?
Last week – I was on a business trip to Zurich.

Do you speak another language other than English?
A little German and a little more French (see the last but one post)

What did you do last night?
Had a curry.

Whats on your schedule for tomorrow?
Work again, sadly!

Whats on your bed right now?
Jasper – he’s a lazy fat cat.

You're thinking about someone, aren't you?
At this precise moment? Myself.

That was a minor diversion from my usual nonsensical drivel. Feel free to follow my example and steal the questions for yourself. Just don’t grass me up.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Anarchy In The UK

I’ve been a little more prolific today – this is my second post of the day.

Recent events in the world, and in the UK in particular, have made me start thinking about politics – or should I say lack of politics.

First of all, we have a global economic crisis, due to the greed and arguably criminal activities of bankers; a crisis that leads to a credit crunch, increased poverty and a deep recession that is chewing away at everybody’s savings.

The Battlestar UK has been caught in the gravitational pull of a huge black hole and is drifting inexorably towards the void.

Its pilot, one Gordon Brown has tried in vain to convince all of us that he and his government are steering the UK in the direction of prosperity. I have always been sceptical of anything that comes out of a politician’s mouth; they consider themselves to be champions of the UK and on the people’s side – I have simply never believed a word of it. In my opinion most of them are liars.

There has been cock-up after cock-up after cock-up; if it wasn’t true it would be an absolute joke. I’ve looked at the Labour Party and thought to myself – is this the party I voted for? And then I’ve looked at the Conservatives, led by a man who seems to have no talent whatsoever; David Cameron. His policies are based on what he reads in the red-top tabloids – whatever is unpopular at the moment, he will adopt (no matter how absurd). And it just gets worse – as Gordon Brown’s popularity has dwindled, he has actually started to steal Cameron’s ideas. You couldn’t make it up could you?

Is there an alternative to Brown’s Labour Party or Cameron’s Conservatives? Why yes – there are the Liberal Democrats, a party led by the largely anonymous Bob – or is it Thingummy Bob? Hang on, it will come to me in a minute – ah yes! Nick Clegg.

I’ve sat and watched the news, read the newspapers and seen the government’s popularity slip towards oblivion as Cameron, who has had to do nothing, has watched his popularity rise. I mean, he has only needed to sit and smile as Labour have self-destructed.

Now, however, fate has kicked the UK in the balls yet again. Now, thanks to the Daily Telegraph, our beloved government, and most of the opposition as well, have been exposed as lying, cheating and thieving blackguards who have been fiddling expenses to line their own pockets.

Members of Parliament (MPs) are allowed to claim their out of pocket expenses, mainly due to having to live in London, potentially miles away from their constituencies. Most have purchased expensive properties in the London area and claimed expenses on those properties. But they have, quite frankly, been taking the absolute piss and claiming absurd and ridiculous payments, as well as manipulating the system to maximise their income, straight from the taxpayers, i.e. me and every other UK citizen.

Here’s a list of some of the things that caught my attention in the newspaper at the weekend:

(1) An MP who “forgot” that he had paid off his mortgage and claimed payments up to £16,000. How on earth would anybody forget that they had paid off their mortgage?
(2) Another MP who claimed £13,000 for a mortgage he had paid off.
(3) Another claimed £5,000 for furniture for THREE properties.
(4) Another MP who tried to claim £8500 for a huge plasma television set and nearly £2000 for a rug imported from New York.
(5) Small beans, I know, but another MP claimed £115 to have 25 light bulbs changed at his London home.
(6) Another claimed £2000 to have his moat cleaned. HIS BLOODY MOAT!!!
(7) Another female MP “accidentally” claimed for her husband watching a pornographic film.

You can find more here:

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. MPs have been selling homes, paid for by us, in such a way that they can avoid paying capital gains tax. Some MPs have made an absolute fortune this way at our expense; and the worst think is, that these MPs think that they have done nothing wrong. So, not only are we all suffering because of a global credit crunch and incompetence of bankers, the very people who supposed to be running the country and those who’s job it is to oppose those running the country, are ripping us off further.

There are thousands of people in the UK who are struggling to pay off their mortgage because of the recession and are in a position where they may actually lose their homes; yet here we have a bunch of thieving fat cats abusing the system to line their own pockets.

And the crowning turd in the swimming pool is the fact that the majority of them THINK THEY HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG.

What planet are these people living on?

People up and down the country are furious and absolutely livid. Even those who hate Gordon Brown must be totally disillusioned at the antics of the only viable opposition.

The definition of anarchy is:

Absence of any form of political authority.

Political disorder and confusion.

Absence of any cohesive principle, such as a common standard or purpose.

The Battlestar UK has just accelerated towards the black hole. Now is a great time to become an anarchist – I think most people in Britain are harbouring a great desire to do just that. If ordinary people such as me were to break or flout the rules in the way that some of our so called honourable MPs have done, we would be sacked from our jobs immediately and possibly prosecuted for flouting the law.

The whole sorry thing is an absolute disgrace and I for one am ranting endlessly about it – and I’m not alone. The TV cameras have been out on the streets of Britain asking the people what they think and almost everybody is outraged.

We are not going to forget this. The House of Lords has been re-badged by the media as the “House of Frauds”. The worst offenders, if they are not sacked, will lose their seats in the next election for sure. In 2010, when Gordon Brown faces the people, he will suffer, as will his counterpart. The prospect of mutiny on Battlestar UK has never been more possible.

Finally, I’d like to share with you two reactions that I read today that made me laugh about all this (and I needed a laugh I will tell you):

One reader said that the British electorate must envy Ali Baba because he only had 40 thieves to deal with.

Another said that his grandfather had told him that only one man had ever entered the Houses of Parliament with honest intentions – and that was Guy Fawkes.

Mind Your Language

Fear not – this is not a post about swearing.

Instead it is a little confession about one of my regrets; my lack of fluency in another language.

I speak a very limited amount of German, a little more French and, if it were still spoken, I could get by in Latin. Sadly, for me, I was coached in these languages thirty or so years ago at school and the knowledge has been replaced by other, seemingly more important information over the years – stupid stuff like the lyrics to songs – you know what I mean.

I’ve just returned from a business trip to Zurich, a place I have visited many times before. It’s a wonderful city and the Swiss are one of the friendliest people in Europe, if not the world. In Zurich, the official language is German, although really it is Swiss German, almost a different language. I hadn’t been there for eighteen months, and had visited enough to actually start picking up snippets of German again. In those eighteen months, however, the snippets I had acquired had been replaced by yet more song lyrics.

As I was waiting in the airport to return home to Manchester, I began to reflect on the previous week. I had been working in the office, listening to the guys speaking German and then switching to English in order to accommodate me. A lot of these guys were fairly fluent in a couple of languages and I began to feel inadequate, so much so, that I started to try converse with them in very poor German. They were quite impressed that I had made the attempt but it became apparent very soon after I had uttered the first words that my vocabulary was extremely limited. I soon switched back to my native English. I was filled with disappointment.

It was so different when I was younger. At the age of 21, I left university and had the entire summer before entering into the rat race. I decided to have one last adventure and set off for a four week jaunt around Europe with two friends. At that point, my French and German were both strong enough to make myself understood and . My friends weren’t quite so good though. I nominated myself to do most of the conversing in France and they agreed. I managed to speak to Parisians in their mother tongue and could understand them too. I was filled with a feeling of pride and achievement. Alas, one of my friends, a guy called Chris, decided that he would attempt to speak French as well, a bold gesture in city like Paris if your French is not up to scratch.

Paris is a beautiful city but I have always found Parisians a little stubborn. If you walk up to a Parisian and say “Parlez-vous anglais?”, they tend to stare at you with a look of utter contempt and say “Non!”. You have to make the effort. In their eyes, you are in the capital of France therefore you must speak French. So Chris, not a shy lad, grasped the nettle and attempted to speak French as much and as often as he could. Sadly, his vocabulary then was far worse than mine is now and he frequently confused and shocked Parisians, as well as making them howl with laughter.

For example, as we were leaving Paris to head south on a train, we discovered that each carriage was absolutely full. We walked the length of the train looking for a compartment with three spaces and were just about to give up, when Chris spotted one. He opened the door and saw several old people, who stared at him with disgust (we were travelling light and probably looked a complete mess). Chris, being ever so polite but bold, gestured at the three seats and said:

“Le corridor – il pleut.”

Basically he told them that it was raining in the corridor. Some laughed at him; the rest stared at each other and said “Huh?”

I intervened and asked them if we could sit down. They reluctantly agreed but openly talked about us whilst sniggering at Chris. I understood a fair amount of what they said and they were criticizing our lack of French, even though we had at least tried.

I’ve been to Paris and other places in France on several occasions since then and have always tried to speak the language. As the years have passed, however, my ability to remember the words has diminished and I have had to resort to a pocket dictionary or a phrase book. Happily, in the last ten years my job has been made a lot easier because Mrs PM speaks French almost to fluency. She’s a little rusty these days but she can hold a decent conversation with your average French person. On a recent trip to Bordeaux, she was taking snaps for her photography course, when a woman started talking to her. The conversation was fascinating, mostly because Mrs PM was laughing and making the other woman laugh as well – not because of her poor French but because she was cracking jokes. How I envied her – I still do.

As far as German is concerened as I have said above, I have been to Zurich quite a few times over the past five years made a conscious effort to at least try to speak German outside the work environment. In the past, I have managed to ask for my room key, order food, order beer, buy train tickets and even have attempted to switch to German when talking to other people, switching to English only when I have had to. The more often I have been, the more progress I have made. Sadly, though, lack of practice makes you forget and this last trip was frustrating because I had reverted to having to ask for things in English again.

I still make an effort, whenever I visit a foreign place, even if I don’t know the language. In Moscow, for example, I learned a few choice phrases that helped me out.

“Two beers” – “два пиво “ (pronounced – “dva piva”)

“Thank you” – “Спасибо” (pronounced “spassiba”)

“Hi” – “Привет “ (pronounced “preevyet”)

I was stuck in Moscow in the middle of a harsh winter, with temperatures of minus 20 degrees and managed to find my way around the city, by learning how to pronounce the Russian alphabet. Sadly, speaking the above phrases only helped in a bar, so I ended up drunk.

Sometimes, attempting to speak a foreign language can be embarrassing (as Chris had discovered). In Beijing, I was in a restaurant with Mrs PM eating crispy duck, having had a few beers. Obviously nature had to take its course and I had no idea where the toilet was. In the end I had to ask a waiter. I waited until one of the male waiters walked past and pointed out the word "toilet" in the phrase book. He began to explain in Mandarin but I just stared at him like a lost kitten. He realised that I had no idea what he was saying and beckoned me to follow him. Feeling strangely courageous, mainly due to a little alcohol, I decided to practice the word as we walked. The phrase book had an English pronunciation for the word and I attempted to say it to him. He smiled and said the word properly. I repeated it and got it slightly wrong, so he repeated it again. This continued all the way across the restaurant when I finally pronounced it in an acceptable fashion. Just then, I noticed that a lot of people were staring at me with an ill-concealed look of mirth on their faces. I couldn't work out what was so funny. And then I realised; I had just walked across the restaurant with a Chinese waiter saying the word "toilet" very loudly and very badly and very often to him. He in turn had responded with the word "toilet". They had witnessed two grown men marching across a restaurant shouting "toilet" at each other. No wonder the patrons were laughing. Slightly embarrassed, I smiled at a couple seated next to the lavatory, pointed to the door and said "toilet" in Mandarin. I thought the woman would have a seizure. Her hand covered her mouth and she grunted and snorted, trying to give me the impression that she was choking on her food. The man stifled a laugh but nodded approvingly, simply, I hoped, because I had made an effort.

Ultimately, when we retire Mrs PM and I may want to spend a lot more time in France. If I can find the time beforehand, I will make an attempt to re-learn French to fluency. I may even have a go at improving my German. I don’t think it’s too late to try – I just need to fight another battle against my willpower and fill this particular void. I sense an oncoming war against procrastination.

Thankfully, this year our trips abroad include America and that’s a country where I can speak the language almost fluently. I need to get to grips with words like “faucet”, “sidewalk”, “diaper” and “garbage” to master the language fully.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Guitar Heroes - Ritchie Blackmore

Ritchie Blackmore is probably my very first guitar hero. In the late seventies, as my musical taste drifted towards hard rock and heavy metal, the virtuosity of Ritchie Blackmore was a beacon that drew me in.

Deep Purple, at this stage, had imploded and Blackmore had created a new band called Rainbow. Both of these bands were extremely popular within my school and I began to collect their LPs, with what little cash I made from a paper round.

Chief amongst those albums was “Made In Japan”, a live recording made by Deep Purple’s unbelievable “Mark Two” line up in Tokyo and Osaka in 1972. I played the album so much that the vinyl almost melted. I became Ritchie Blackmore’s evil air guitar doppelganger as I leapt around my bedroom to the brilliant “Child In Time”, “Smoke On The Water”, “Space Truckin” and “Strange Kind Of Woman”.

I progressed onto Rainbow and continued to be an imaginary air guitarist, ripping through classic albums like “Rising” and “Long Live Rock And Roll” in my room. My father used to despair that his eldest son, now a mad haired heavy metal teenager, was leaping up and down, screaming in to the sound of music played at a volume that shook the walls.

Fast forward to 1984; a day that almost made me cry with joy - the reformation of Deep Purple with the classic “Mark Two” line up, with Ritchie, Ian Gillan, Jon Lord, Roger Glover and Ian Paice. The first album “Perfect Strangers” was a triumph as far as I was concerned. I also liked the follow up “The House Of Blue Light”.

Sadly, as brilliant a guitarist as he is, Ritchie Blackmore seems to have a streak in him that makes him very difficult to work with. Ian Gillan has been a famous casualty and their volatile relationship, although producing some classic timeless tunes, has also resulted in the initial destruction of Deep Purple at their peak and the eventual final departure of Blackmore from Deep Purple.

I was fortunate enough to see Deep Purple “Mark Two” at the Manchester Apollo in one of the last concerts before Blackmore left for good. The tension on the stage was tangible and Blackmore seemed to be so lonely there, almost as if he was playing a solo concert that happened to feature the rest of the band. I have only seen Ritchie Blackmore perform twice, and this second time was a disappointment. Sure, he played his guitar like it was part of himself, but there was something missing.

I keep thinking to myself, if only Blackmore hadn’t been so difficult, we could have had decades of Deep Purple brilliance.

Don’t get me wrong. Deep Purple are still making decent music even today. The only problem is, Blackmore is not part of the band. Instead, he has become sort of medieval mandolin player in a band called “Blackmore’s Night”, a style I can’t bring myself to like.

Despite the rollercoaster of Deep Purple, I still have nothing but the utmost admiration for Ritchie and he is still a huge hero of mine. As part of Rainbow, he produced the best rock album of the 1970’s – “Rising” – and on that album, one of the greatest rock songs of all time – “Stargazer”.

My favourite songs featuring Ritchie Blackmore are:

(1) Child In Time – Deep Purple
(2) Highway Star – Deep Purple
(3) Strange Kind Of Woman – Deep Purple
(4) Perfect Strangers – Deep Purple
(5) Space Truckin – Deep Purple
(6) Stargazer – Rainbow
(7) A Light In The Black – Rainbow
(8) Kill The King – Rainbow
(9) Spotlight Kid – Rainbow
(10) Difficult To Cure – Rainbow

His style is unique and his talent is almost immeasurable. The man was and is a true rock god. I would love to see Ritchie Blackmore abandon his medieval Renaissance folk rock and return to the axe-wielding rock guitar hero of my youth.

Finally, if you follow the link below you will find Ritchie Blackmore with the greatest Deep Purple line up performing "Child In Time" way back in 1970:

Sunday 10 May 2009

Monsters Of Mock

On Friday last week, I went to yet another rock concert. However, this wasn’t just any rock concert; it was a party celebrating the first birthday of Rock Radio, Manchester’s very own classic rock radio station.

I’ve been moaning for years about the lack of decent radio in the UK. Most of the radio stations play meaningless, featureless, bland pap. You can imagine how delighted I was to discover that a new station was being created, playing decent music and in my very own city.

I have actually started to listen to the radio again because of Rock Radio, something I am delighted about.

The web site is here:

Anyway, a mate of mine suggested we go to their first birthday party at a night club in Manchester called “The Ritz”, a place I used to go to occasionally in my youth (I may spill some stories about the place one day). The event was cleverly called “The Monsters Of Mock” because the organisers had chosen to book four tribute acts. I was a little sceptical to be honest – I prefer to see the real thing – but I thought, what the hell, it might be fun.

And it was.

The acts were:

(1) Fink Ployd (Pink Floyd)
(2) Rattle and Hum (U2)
(3) The Rolling Clones (The Rolling Stones)
(4) Limehouse Lizzy (Thin Lizzy)

We arrived at 0700 just in time to see Fink Ployd, come onto the stage. I didn’t really know what to expect to be honest but when I heard the opening notes of “In The Flesh” from “The Wall”, I knew we were in for a good time. The band belted out several classics in their set including “Money”, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Comfortably Numb”. They were superb.

Next up was Rattle and Hum. I’m not a huge fan of U2 but the band went down very well, playing songs like “Vertigo”, “Beautiful Day”, “With Or Without You” and “Pride (In The Name Of Love”.

The third band was the brilliantly named the Rolling Clones and they were very entertaining. The lead singer was particularly amusing, strutting about the stage just like Mick Jagger. I was delighted when they performed my favourite song by the Stones, “Sympathy For The Devil” and I whooped along with everybody else.

Before the final band came on, I went to the toilet and broke an unwritten man’s law – I spoke to a bloke. He asked me if I’d ever seen Limehouse Lizzy before. I told him that I hadn’t.

“You’re in for a treat,” he said. “The lead singer IS Phil Lynott; he will have the crowd in the palm of his hand”.

And he wasn’t wrong.

Limehouse Lizzy opened with “Jailbreak” and the singer sounded eerily like Phil Lynott; it was uncanny. The band belted through timeless classics like “Chinatown”, “Waiting For An Alibi”, “The Boys Are Back In Town”, “Dancing In The Moonlight”, “Emerald” and, my favourite “Killer On The Loose”.

It was the first time I had ever seen a tribute band and I really enjoyed it. Of course, I will never get the chance to see Pink Floyd or Thin Lizzy, and I doubt I will ever see the Stones or U2 so in that respect it was definitely worth it.

There are photos of the event on Rock Radio’s web site – I haven’t scrutinized the photos so there is a slight chance I may be lurking in the crowd scenes somewhere.

Thanks to Rock Radio for a surprisingly good night and here’s to many more years of decent radio.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Watch Out America - I'm Coming Over ...

Watch out America; the Plastic Mancunian is coming.

It’s been a while since Mrs PM and I have been across the pond, so we’ve decided to inflict ourselves on the United States once again. The last time I went to the States was a few years ago, when I visited Las Vegas. Mrs PM had been there for a conference and I decided to join her for an extra week. We had a fabulous time.

During that trip, Mrs PM and I flew in a helicopter for the first time. I was really excited and was absolutely fine until the helicopter pilot flew over the Hoover Dam. I took a photo of the dam but the pilot swooped in a strange direction and made my stomach lurch; consequently I had to stare at the horizon as we flew over the Grand Canyon (for fear of puking). Thankfully with the aid of a few deep breaths I recovered. Mrs PM, on the other hand, was horribly air sick. I thought she was going to throw up on a couple of occasions. Our pilot showed off his flying skills and dived over a particularly high precipice prompting Mrs PM to utter the only words she spoke on the entire trip:


The scenery was breath-taking and I was really buzzing when we flew back over Las Vegas. I don’t think Mrs PM enjoyed it too much and had to lie down for a couple of hours after we arrived back at the hotel.

I loved Las Vegas and we were sensible enough not to blow our savings. In fact, we broke even, thanks to Mrs PM using her luck and judgement. She won a few hundred dollars on the roulette table and walked away rather than blowing the lot.

The temperature was a tarmac-melting 45 degrees Celsius (we were there in August) and I have never been so hot in my entire life. We coped by hotel hopping. We were staying in the Monte Carlo hotel and spent our time wandering down the Strip, hopping into hotels when overcome by the heat.

Anyway, back to our forthcoming trip.

The suggestion came from Mrs PM after watching “Fringe”, a series where nasty and horrible things happen to people. For those of you that haven’t seen the series, it is basically similar to the X-Files, where a group of FBI agents investigate strange happenings in and around Boston.

“Let’s go to Boston,” said Mrs PM while watching a particularly gruesome episode that involved a creature that was a cross between a snake, a scorpion and an eagle attacking people and laying it’s eggs inside their bodies.

“So we can meet that thing?” I asked incredulously. Pointing at the creature as it was about to devour one of the heroes.

Actually, I leapt at the idea because Boston and New England is one of the places I have always wanted to visit.

We have now booked the flights and are coming over during the last week in September. We haven’t planned our itinerary yet, but the idea is, I think to spend three days in Boston and then hire a car and head off to Cape Cod for four or five days before returning home.

I’m really looking forward to it and so is Mrs PM and I am hoping to produce a huge portfolio of photos, some of which may appear on my photo blog.

Of course, we hope to be fairly flexible, so if there is anybody in the area (or elsewhere), who has any tips or recommendations for places we can visit, etc. then I will be very grateful. One thing I wouldn’t mind doing is enjoying a pint or two of Samuel Adams beer in “Cheers”. I realise that may be something that dumb tourists do, but I don’t really care.

I have to say, however, that any suggestions involving climbing up a tall structure (for me) or flying in a helicopter (for Mrs PM) will almost certainly be ignored. I am not going to allow Mrs PM to persuade me to climb anything that is higher than a three storey building (unless I am safely inside it of course).

I’m off now to try to practice saying “Fall” instead of “Autumn”.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Another British Post

Napoleon once famously said of England:

England is a nation of shopkeepers

Presumably the French dwarf was annoyed because we kicked his bottom at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Well, I think its time to tell you all a little more about Britain and I will start by categorically denying Napoleon’s claim – I am not definitely not a shopkeeper. To counter this, I’ve decided to relate a few more facts about my home country.


Britain has a monarchy; we are ruled by Queen Delia of Norwich, a woman who writes books about food. When she barks we all jump – this is known as the “Delia effect”. She once wrote a book called “How To Cook” and in that tome, she suggested that we all go and buy eggs. I still recall the fateful day when Mrs PM read the book – I returned home from work to find the fridge full of eggs.

“What’s for tea?” I said.

“Eggs,” she replied. “Delia says so.”

Now I have to say that I cannot say anything bad about Queen Delia. She loves her people. Here she is giving encouragement to her subjects:

Now, apparently she wasn't drunk; royalty don't get drunk do they?


The government of Britain is an example of a unique form of politics: idiocracy.

Our most recent Prime Ministers have been:

Margaret Thatcher – also know as “Atilla the Hen”. She was also called “The Iron Lady”, because she liked to iron clothes. She frequently did this in the House of Commons while insulting the opposition. Mrs Thatcher (or “Thatch” as she was affectionately known) single-handedly destroyed industry in England, because she didn’t like seeing pictures of dirty miners on her television screen. Such was her ego that she considered herself to be two people. When her first grand child was born, she wobbled up to the camera and said: We are a grandmother.” Now I’m sure that Atilla considered this to be a profound statement, but in reality it was because she was in fact a man - here is proof:

Following her years of dictatorship, Atilla was replaced by a robot called John Major, otherwise known as “The Grey Man”. This man was so dull that he quite literally sent everybody to sleep as soon as he opened his mouth. John Major should actually have been an accountant; how he managed to accidentally become Prime Minister is anybody’s guess. I would post a link showing a typical John Major speech but I fear you would immediately fall asleep. Here he is:

After Major bored us all to coma, we were subjected to His Royal Tonyness, Tony Blair, also known as “Tony Bliar”. Unlike his predecessor, Tony has a smile so huge that crows often get stuck in his teeth. In fact, Tony’s teeth are bigger than his head (and that is big enough):

Tony was great; Tony was cool; Tony was in a rock band. Tony can sing. He even did a duet with George W Bush:

After His Royal Tonyness came the dour Gordon Brown, our current Prime Minister, a man who has more lives than a cat. Gordon the Gopher has led the UK into recession. He has a fake smile that can scare even the bravest warrior. When I first saw him smile, I fled from the room, screaming for my Mum. Those of a nervous disposition, please DO NOT click the following (no matter how tempted you are):

He is famous for saying “No more boom and bust”. I presume he wasn’t talking about the economy when he blurted out these ill-chosen words; I guess he was talking about his expanding waistline.

Patron Saints

The patron saint of England is St George, who is also the patron saint of binge-drinkers. On one particularly boozy night, St George hallucinated and thought he saw a dragon. He promptly slayed the imaginary beast with his wooden spoon and somehow managed to convince a whole nation that he had done so.

The patron saint of Ireland is St Patrick, who is also the patron saint of Guinness drinkers. Every year, on March 17th, the whole of Great Britain goes out and gets drunk, including Queen Delia of Norwich. The video earlier in the post was filmed on March 17th.

The patron saint of Scotland is St Andrew, who is also the patron saint of monsters. Every St Andrews day, the Loch Ness Monster, or “Nessie” to her friends, crawls out of Loch Ness and shares a haggis and a pint of “heavy” with the locals.

The patron saint of Wales is St David, who is also the patron saint of rugby. Every Saturday thousands of Welshmen sing their hearts out at rugby union games throughout the country and are generally happy (mainly because they don’t have to play English teams).

Major Cities

London is the capital of England. It was discovered by the Romans, who named the place “Londinium” which is Latin for “speakers of cockney-rhyming slang”. Romans found it difficult to understand the language, which hasn’t changed in centuries. I mean, do you know what the following sentence means?

“Would you Adam and Eve it? I was having my barnet cut and I had a butchers through the window when I saw this geezer fall down the apple and pears.”

It means:

“Would you believe it? I was having a haircut and looked out of the window just in time to see a man fall down the stairs.”

People from London are called cockneys and think that Great Britain is contained with the boundaries of Greater London. Everyone else is “from the Norf”. Here's a typical cockney:

Birmingham is the second city in England. It was discovered by the Romans, who named the place “Brummigumus”, which is Latin for “speakers of a poor pseudo Black Country accent”. Again Roman’s found it difficult to understand the language in this city – it is like Black Country accent – only far less classy. Birmingham people think that their city is at the centre of the universe. In reality, the centre of the universe is just a few miles up the road, in the Black Country, at a little place called Walsall.

Manchester is the real capital of England. It was discovered by the Romans, who named the place “Mamucium”, which means “City of Paradise”. Julius Caesar declared “Mamucium” to be the true capital of the Roman Empire and decreed that only the greatest human beings in Britain would be allowed in the city; something that still stands today. Manchester is home to the crème de la crème of British citizenship; only the most intelligent and beautiful people in Great Britain are allowed within the city limits. I sneaked in twenty four years ago, through the sewage system.

In Scotland, there are two major cities; Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh was discovered by Mel Gibson who promptly went to war with the English and then retreated to Edinburgh castle. Glasgow was discovered by the Romans, who named the place “Glaswegia”, which is Latin for “wearers of kilts”. Nobody outside Glasgow can understand a Glaswegian. Listen to this:

Does it make sense to you? No, it doesn't make sense to me either.

In Wales, we have Cardiff. Cardiff was discovered by the Romans, who named the place “Armus Parkus”, which is Latin for “Home of Welsh Rugby”. Cardiff is a fabulous city and I have always had a magnificent time there. On Saturday nights, the city is full of Welsh people singing in close harmony as they consume Brains Bitter. I was of course instantly recognised as an Englishman because when I sing, cats throw themselves under cars.

In Northern Ireland we have Belfast, which was discovered by the Romans. They named the city “Belfast”, which is Latin for “Home of Georgie Best”. George Best hailed from there and is one of the greatest players ever to grace the English football league. I wish George Best had been English.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. More may follow in later posts. In the meantime, if you have any questions about Great Britain, please fell free to ask me.

I may even tell you the truth next time ...

Saturday 2 May 2009

The Beast Within

In a restaurant last week, I ordered a bottle of wine. The waiter dutifully delivered a £30 bottle of rioja, opened it and poured a tiny amount into my glass. As tradition and etiquette dictate, I obediently sipped the wine to relay to the waiter whether it was acceptable or not.

It was disgusting; I stood up, spat the wine all over the waiter’s white jacket and screamed:

“This is revolting! How dare you charge £30 for this bottle of rocket fuel.”.

I snatched the bottle from the stunned waiter and poured it over his head.

I didn’t really. In fact, I didn’t even go to a restaurant last week. However, I would love to have the courage to do just that; refuse a bottle of expensive wine because the taste is not worthy of the asking price.

Furthermore, there are numerous other things I would love to do if only I had the audacity.

The beast within me needs to be totally constrained as does the mischievous imp. I long to unleash these dark sides of my personality on people who wind me up; I feel like Bruce Banner containing the Hulk within. The urge to unleash the beast and vent my fury on people who anger me is sometimes overwhelming. And sometimes I can barely contain the mischievous imp who yearns to conquer arrogance and stupidity with suitable punishments.

Here are a few examples:

(1) You see lots of men with long hair. I can appreciate that, having had long hair myself. However, when men tie their long locks into a ponytail, it makes me cringe. It may look cool to some, but I hate the style personally – and sadly, I know people who do it. And what would I love to do to these guys? Cut the bloody ponytail off and then see the look of horror on their faces when they realise what’s happened. If I did have a pair of scissors, the urge to act would be overwhelming.

(2) At a football match, when a player dives and feigns injury, i.e. cheats, all I want to do is leap over the wall and stamp on the imaginary injury and say “NOW, you’re injured you cheating scumbag!”

(3) When stuck in a conversation with the world’s biggest bore, I usually listen attentively, nodding at the appropriate times and pretend that I’m interested in the plot intricacies of Coronation Street. If I were to unleash the beast I would say:
(4) Have you ever found yourself next to a loathsome businessman on an aircraft who sticks his elbows into your ribs as he attempts to eat, drinks huge quantities of wine and ends up disturbing you every twenty minutes to go to the loo, talks inane crap peppered with business buzzwords and phrases, is rude to the stewardesses and treats them like skivvies and then falls asleep facing you, breathing his stinking wine-breath into your face whilst snoring so loudly that it drowns out the engines? Well I have and let me tell you this: all I want to do is haul that man out of his seat, frogmarch him to the toilet, crowbar his massive belly into the cubicle and shout:

(5) A female friend walks into the bar wearing the most awful outfit you have ever seen. Instead of saying:
“Wow, you look fantastic”
Don’t you sometimes want to just tell her the truth? Wouldn’t it be better to say:
“You’re dress looks like a warped garbage sack and your lipstick makes you look like a tart. Your hair's a bloody mess and your perfume is so overpowering I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve left a trail of dead cats in your wake. I’m sure it took you hours to get ready but, let me tell you this, love; I’d just go back and throw on something simple – you’d look much better.”
(6) Picture the scene; you’re at an art gallery standing in front of a work of art by a contemporary artist, described in the media as a visionary. The piece is basically a pile of bricks thrown at random and covered with various colours of paint and has random bric-brac glued to various bits of it (eggs, jelly, cat fur, dog poo, feathers, tar, broken crockery, soup, dolls furniture, used tissue, mud and bits of car). It is called something like “Adventures in the Platinum Void”.
Two art critics are standing next to you. One says:
“It’s fabulous! It captures the essence of existence in a manner that is, quite simply, breath-taking. I feel privileged to see this beautiful piece. I’m moved to tears. I am a voyeur from an existential plane. This piece is the work of genius.”
The other replies:
“I totally agree. This magnificent sculpture explains the meaning of so many philosophical taboos on a level that is deeper than the world’s best thinkers can ever imagine. The intensity of splendour is daunting; I am but a microbe in its presence. The power is overwhelming and I am wholly inadequate, yet totally enthralled.”
One of them turns to you and says:
“What do you think?”.
Wouldn’t you just love to say:
“This is total crap! The artist is a genius but only in the sense of being able to con you two pseudo intellectuals that it actually means something. I’m sure the artist is laughing all the way to the bank. You are a couple of morons with more money than sense.”

(7) Back in the restaurant, I’ve survived the wine incident and I’ve ordered the gourmet dish, described in great mouth-watering detail. The dish has a fancy French name (that probably means “dustbin slime”). The waiter, having brushed himself down and changed his jacket, presents me with my main course on a huge plate; there is barely enough to feed a gnat. The meal is so tiny that I need a microscope to see it. And I’ve paid £25 for this useless gruel. Instead of saying “Thanks!” I long to say:
“What the hell is this? How have you go the gall to charge £25 for food that would leave a goldfish demanding more?”
I’m sure he would run for cover if I threw the plate at him.

(8) You’re in a queue at the ticket office in a railway station and your train is due to depart. In front of you is a man who is so dim it’s a wonder he can get himself dressed up in the morning. He says:
“So what time’s the next train to Liverpool?” he says. “I need to get there by 5:30. It’s now 1.30 so that gives me a few hours. How long does it take? I’ve heard its 35 minutes; is that true? How much does it cost?”
Don’t you just want to grab the idiot and shout:

(9) Don’t you just want to turn up to X-Factor auditions with a large bottle of indelible ink in your pocket? Why would you do that, I hear you cry? Well, you could stand up in front of Simon Cowell and when he asks what you going to sing, simply run up to him and pour the entire contents of the bottle over his smug head.

(10) You’re in a pub with your beloved lady having a wonderfully fulfilling conversation over a pint of the landlord’s finest ale, when all of a sudden, the place fills up with young people out for the Saturday night cattle parade and the barman cranks up the background music so loudly that you can barely hear yourself think. Worse still, the music is rap, r’n’b or boy band/girl band fodder. Wouldn’t you just love to walk behind the bar, lift up the offending music machine and smash it to the floor? Even better – walk to the pub with the world’s most powerful ghetto blaster and as soon as the music is cranked up, retaliate by playing a Metallica CD at three times the volume?

I’m glad that’s off my chest. The post may make me appear to be a savage, bent on the destruction of all that annoys or irritates me but I’m not really. I can tolerate almost anything; whilst my inner turmoil in trying to contain the beast and imp within is a struggle of monumental proportions, my outward appearance is one of calm and polite acceptance – just as long as the wine tastes nice.