Saturday 28 November 2009

Something's Brewing

What is more satisfying that a deep, rumbling belch?

Picture the scene; you’ve just eaten a magnificent repast in a room full of good friends and you lean back in your chair fully satisfied. As you begin your post meal chat, something stirs within.

What do you do?

Do you allow the inevitable belch to explode from your face, trying to convert it onto a song or words as it escapes your lips, allowing it to introduce itself to your friends?

Or do you cover your mouth and let the burp escape in 658 little burplets?

Or do you hold it back and allow it to brew deep within for fear of offending those in your presence?

For me, it depends on who I am with and what kind of mood I am in.

In the presence of Mrs PM and the kids I allow the belch to erupt with maximum force and maximum noise, usually trying to mould the escaping entity into a heavy metal song.

“DAAAADD!!!!” scream my young lads.

“DAAAVVEEEE!!!” screams Mrs PM before searching for a blunt object to hit me with.

“And don’t ever do that in public,” I will say. “It’s disgusting!”

I am a hypocrite because, to be honest, I hate it when other people belch in front of me. There is nothing more disgusting than bellowing in somebody’s face, which is why, in the company of friends and colleagues, I drift between “The Burp Suppressor” and the “The Burplet Generator”, stifling them until I can hold them no longer and then allowing burplets to sneak out like escaping prisoners under cover of my hand.

In some countries, however, belching is positively encouraged. In China, for example, belching is viewed upon as a massive compliment to the chef. When the burp is born, it tells the chef that he has cooked a fabulous meal and that you have thoroughly enjoyed it.

In most western countries, however, it is frowned upon and I’m certain that if I were to burp in front of the Queen at dinner I would be ostracised and my name would be splashed all over the tabloids; my bad manners and rudeness would be there for all to see as my tarnished reputation dragged through the mud for allowing a little burp to gate crash my party with Her Majesty.

And what about bottom burps (more commonly known as “farts”). These little blighters have a far worse reputation than their oral counterparts. The problem is, nobody likes them and everybody denies their existence. Like the belch, the fart can be released into the wild in a couple of ways; either you let it burst out with a triumphant fanfare or you squeeze it out gently.
The first method is only recommended for people with no shame. In polite company (or even impolite company), if a noisy fart announces its presence the person responsible is at best reprimanded and at worst hurled outside.

The second method is barely recommended; if you drop a “silent but deadly” fart then you have no choice but to get out of the fallout zone as quickly as possible, so that somebody else gets the blame. And the recommended practice is to stay utterly silent and refuse to comment. Why? Because if somebody says

“Who on EARTH did that?

Everybody else says

“He who smelt it, dealt it!”

If you then say

“But it wasn’t me!!!”

Everybody else says

“He who denied it supplied it.”

Stay silent; don’t say a single word. Of course, if there is a dog present and you feel that you have to let rip, just drift over to the dog and stand there until the fart announces its presence – then you can blame the dog.

From a personal perspective, I simply have to get out of there if I feel the ominous rumbling within. I usually make an excuse and find the nearest toilet, so that I don’t embarrass myself. It works for me but only if I haven’t had beans on toast or sprouts.

One thing has always puzzled me though – why do people deny that they fart? I can understand it if the entire room is asphyxiated by a particularly nasty one, but some people go through life giving the impression that they never ever deposit one.

Mrs PM judges a relationship on whether the people concerned have passed “the fart barrier”. She was talking to one of her friends and asked the question:

“Have you passed the fart barrier yet?”

“No,” came the reply. “I can’t fart in front of him.”

Later, she said to me “It’ll never work out.”

She was right on that particular occasion but I still don’t regard it as irrefutable proof that a relationship will fail.

Needless to say, in our relationship, the fart barrier was shattered on the first date – but I’m not saying who was responsible.

Just before I go, here are a couple of rhymes about bodily gases:

Beans, beans, are good for your heart!
The more you eat, the more you fart!
The more you fart, the better you feel,
So let's have beans for every meal!

A little gush of wind
Straight from the heart;
It tickled down my backbone
And it's also called a fart.
A fart can be useful;
It gives the body ease,
It warms the bed in winter
And suffocates the fleas.

A final note for anybody who is wrinkling their nose in disgust at the questionable contents of this post:

Don’t live in denial – everybody burps and everybody farts. Get over it.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Am I An Alien?

I think that I might be an alien.

I was browsing the internet, you know, that amazing source of all human knowledge, when I came across an article that listed the traits, suggested by “experts”, that you, as a human being, should look out for when trying to spot an alien visitor to the shores of our wonderful world.

Initially I laughed, mainly because I thought it was a joke. However, the more I read, the more worried I became. I began to question myself.

You can judge for yourself. Here’s what the “experts” said you should look out for when mixing with friends and co-workers. Obviously if you spot these traits in family members then in all likelihood that means you are too are an alien because you are related to them.

(1) Aliens wear weird clothes.

As I told you in my previous post, I am not a willing follower of fashion at all and if it weren’t for Mrs PM then I am unsure exactly what clothes I would wear. Fashion, in my humble opinion, is a personal thing; if somebody wants to dress in strange attire then they should be allowed to do so without anybody mocking them in any way whatsoever. Everybody everywhere tells me what to wear. When I go to work, I have to wear either a shirt or polo shirt and smart trousers (apart from Friday when I can wear jeans). When a customer appears I have to wear a suit and a tie. I’ve always questioned why this is. At weddings I also have to wear a suit, as I do at funerals and similar gatherings. Why can’t I wear a bright green T-shirt with red polka dots and a fluorescent yellow kilt at a wedding? I would love to do it, just to see the reaction.


(2) Aliens have strange eating habits.

The suggestion by the experts is that aliens may eat in a bizarre way. For example:

An alien might eat fish and chips out of a newspaper. A lot of British people do this and by the time you’ve finished the chips, your hands are as black as coal.

Aliens might be tempted to dip a sandwich in a cup of coffee before eating it.

Curious aliens may eat a tablespoon of ginger powder thinking it tastes like ginger snap biscuits. Of course, the direct consequence of that is that they will run around like a lunatic screaming “MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!!!!” for approximately three days.

Stupid aliens may ask a kebab shop proprietor if they can try a chilli while waiting to be served. Of course, when they eat the chilli they will undoubtedly mutate into a gibbering wreck, begging the laughing kebab salesman for something (anything) to take the pain away, while the other customers fall about on the floor laughing at the red-eyed banshee screaming for water.

Drunk aliens may take huge bites out of a chunk of cheese on a pub crawl thinking that beer and cheddar are a wonderful combination.

Sweet toothed aliens may eat sugar directly from the sugar bag

On their 21st birthdays, aliens might pour a bottle of vodka into an electric kettle and then drink it neat from the spout in front of their laughing friends.

As children, aliens might pour pop onto a table at a wedding and then lick it off.

I’ve done all of the above at various points in my life.


(3) Aliens have a peculiar sense of humour.

Oh dear! I have a weird imagination and therefore it follows that I have a crazy sense of humour. I laugh at stupid things. I laugh at things that are deemed “unfunny” by the faceless elite.

In the past, for example, I have howled with laughter at the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day in front of family members who are royalists. It didn’t go down too well. I still regard the Queen’s Speech as a joke to this day and refuse to watch it if I can get away with it.

A few years ago, I was watching Her Majesty’s address in front of a my ex-wife’s aunt who loves the Queen. Things didn’t start too well when auntie said “I love hearing what she’s got to say” and I replied:
“She will say “My subjects are poor and I’m rich – rich beyond my wildest dreams; rich, Rich RICH!!!! I’m loaded! I’m so rich I could buy Barbados! What a minute – I think I might already OWN Barbados!” "

Auntie glared at me and I lost control. I had a fit of hysterical laughter and family members stared at me in disbelief with thoughts of medieval torture in their minds. When the Queen started speaking I thought I was going to burst. And then she said

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis.”

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Our beloved monarch really had had a bad year, with her sons separating from their wives and Windsor Castle catching fire – but all I heard was the Latin phrase Annus Horribilis. I almost wet my trousers; I almost spilled wine over my shirt. I certainly upset auntie and other family members. In the end, I sat there giggling inanely for the rest of the day as the phrase Annus Horribilis taunted me from within.


(4) Aliens keep a handwritten or electronic diary.

I have never kept a diary, probably because it would be full of crap. However, since 2008 I have written all sorts of nonsense on this very blog. Now the question is, do you think this blog provides lots of information that an extra-terrestrial intelligence could use to judge the human race? I think it could. And I hope, as a result of this blog, an alien hunter comes down and captures some of the celebrities I’ve mentioned (like Simon Cowell, Jeremy Kyle, Paris Hilton etc.) for an alien zoo.

In fact, perhaps this blog is a set of secret instructions for aliens. Perhaps I really am an alien spy and posts about cats, bad hair, rock music, celebrities I hate, ranting, my lack of understanding of the female sex (well over half of the human race) etc. are being used for an alien invasion of the planet.


(5) Aliens misuse everyday items.

The example given is an alien may “paint his nails with tippex” or something idiotic like that. Here are some examples of items I have possibly misused:

Using a Madonna CD as a Frisbee.

Using a screwdriver to unblock the toilet.

Using a kettle as a drinking implement (as mentioned above).


(6) Aliens constantly ask questions about customs and habits.

I’ve often wondered why certain people do certain things.

Why do people stand on a cold lonely platform in the middle of winter, armed with a notepad and pen so that they can write down the numbers on trains? And what do they do with the numbers at the end of the day?

Why do people dress up in silly costumes with bells around their ankles and dance a stupid dance clacking sticks together, calling their absurd practice “Morris Dancing”? Most people ridicule them yet they persist and carry on making arses of themselves in public.

Why do people go to churches on Sunday morning and spend hours waking up the whole of Britain by ringing the bells endlessly? I don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday.

Why do Jehovah’s witnesses refuse to listen to me when I say to them “I am a Roman Catholic and there is no way, absolutely no way that you will convert me to your religion?”. I’ve given up trying to reason with them now and I actually enjoy discussing religion with them. And to be honest, it is rewarding in its own way. I just don’t get them though and I simply can’t understand why they refuse to be told that there is no way I will ever become a Jehovah’s Witness.

Why do people spend Saturday evenings watching shows like “Strictly Come Dancing” and “I’m A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here!”. The cult of celebrity and reality television is a constant source puzzlement to me. I simply can’t understand why a huge percentage of the population of Great Britain settles down to watch this bilge when they could be doing something more constructive like trying to find a life.

Why do people confuse characters in TV shows with the actors who portray them? Seriously, there are people in the world who have done things like send Malcolm McDowell hate mail because the character he played in Star Trek: Generations was responsible for killing Captain Kirk. Note to these people – these characters are ACTORS who are just PRETENDING. The show is NOT real.


(7) Aliens often talk to themselves.

Does singing count? I’ve posted before about my unfortunate habit of breaking into song in the most opportune moments (read about it here ).

Moreover, I do tend to speak out loud when thinking about solutions to problems at work: “What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with this code?”

On a number of occasions I will suddenly bellow “YOU ABSOLUTE MORON!!!!” when I realise that I have made a very stupid mistake. I’ve had to reassure work colleagues that I am not talking about them on more than one occasion. Thankfully, these days, people are used to me.


(8) Aliens display a change of mood or physical reaction when in the presence of technology.

Being a bit of a geek, I do love to be in the presence of new gadgets and new technology. I would say that 90% of the time, my mood is positive and I am like a child with a new toy, shielding the gadget from anybody else who wants to touch it. I am also one of those idiots who pick up a gadget and naturally assume that I can make it do what it needs to do, without the need to use the manual to decode the functions. That’s a bit weird and I’ve never understood why I do it. It’s possibly because I work with technology and therefore consider myself to be one with the gadget, as if it will somehow present the operating instructions directly into my brain. Like I said – I’m a bloody idiot.


(9) Aliens are secretive about their personal life-style and home.

Well, considering the fact that I publish honest nonsense about my thoughts and actions on this very blog, I can hardly be considered secretive. There is, however, a school of thought that considers people like me to have a hidden agenda because I choose to be anonymous on the internet, shielding my inane drivel behind a Gene Simmons style mask of black and white.

My original idea behind the blog was to remain anonymous and keep my identity secret but an ill-chosen challenge to work colleagues put paid to that (read about it here).

I was mortified and disappointed because the idea of writing anonymously had massive appeal. As a result, the style of the blog changed. Nevertheless, nowadays, I actually point people I know in the direction of my blog and my original desire to remain totally anonymous has diminished. And because I am fairly honest about the things I write about I consider myself to be the opposite of secretive.

VERDICT: Maybe not alien.

(10) Aliens are always off work sick.

Phew! I am not a person for taking sick days. In fact I’m the opposite – I’m more likely to go into work ill and then return home when it is clear that I am unfit for work.

The last time I was genuinely off ill was two years ago when I caught a heavy cold and spent two days in bed feeling really sorry for myself. And for any women reading – it was NOT man flu. I was genuinely ill – honestly.

VERDICT: Not alien.


As I was writing this post I began to have serious doubts about my beginnings. The first eight characteristics can be viewed as devastating evidence of my unearthly origin. However, thankfully, the last two traits go some way to prove that I am almost certainly not an alien.

I’m slightly disappointed to be honest. When I look at myself in the mirror first thing in the morning I see a blurred reflection staring back at me and for a second I sometimes think – “Wait a minute – that is definitely NOT human!”

And then I think of all the other so-called humans on this planet and reconsider. I mean, take a look at this picture of Posh Spice and tell me she’s human.

So what do you think? Am I an alien? Moreover - are you?

Monday 16 November 2009

We Are The Goon Squad And We're Coming To Town!

Mrs PM uses a phrase that is almost guaranteed to make my teeth itch. The phrase is:

It’s SO over!

She uses it to inform me that my ideas, dress sense, musical taste, etc. are no longer in vogue. When I play a Def Leppard song she will say “Why are you listening to 80’s rock music? It’s SO over!

When I wear my crusty old leather jacket she will say. “It’s about time you threw that away. That design is SO over!

The time she uses it most is when we go out and I decide to wear a favourite shirt that I bought a year or two ago (one that she hasn’t hidden or thrown away). I can read her mind when I come downstairs and present myself to her.

Me: What do you think?

Mrs PM: Why don’t you wear that black shirt I bought you last week?

Me: I want to wear this one. I like this shirt.

Mrs PM: But it’s SO over!

You can guarantee that the shirt will somehow find it's way into a remote part of the house - if it's lucky!!

What Mrs PM forgets, is that I am definitely not a dedicated follower of fashion. In fact, I am the complete opposite; a fashion barbarian.

I stopped actively taking in interest in clothes when I was in my mid 20’s. Sadly, the women in my life have not allowed me to pursue this course of action and have vetoed the vast majority of garments I have attempted to buy.

I remember, when I was 18, dressing up in what I thought were spectacular clothes that would have me fighting off all the young women of Walsall as they threw themselves at my amazing body. As I was about to leave the house, my younger sister said, “You’re not going out looking like THAT are you?” Needless to say, the only think thrown at me that night were drinks (as usual). What I failed to realise when I was a teenager was that no matter how trendy the outfit, I still looked like a bucket of arse on legs.

Nowadays, Mrs PM will always find time to accompany me on shopping trips if I intend to buy any item of clothing, fearing that I will buy something bland or featureless.

Mrs PM: Where are you going?

Me: I’m off to the shops. I need a pair of trousers and a couple of shirts.

Mrs PM: I’m coming with you.

Me: I thought you had to go to work.

Mrs PM: I’ll call them and tell them I can’t make it. This is far more important.

Me: But what if you get the sack?

Mrs PM: There are always other jobs.

Actually, that’s an exaggeration (though not much of one).

When Mrs PM and I moved into our first house together. I unpacked my suitcases and installed all of my clothes into the wardrobe. Within minutes, Mrs PM had made it her mission to change the way I looked. I’m sure that I was downstairs for just two minutes when I heard what I thought was a tornado in the bedroom. I went upstairs and found Mrs PM, hurling my shirts out of the wardrobe in a flurry of wind and expletives.

“What on earth were you thinking when you bought this?” she howled holding up a shirt with a look of purest malevolence.

“I bought that in 1988,” I said gulping nervously. “I love that shirt.”

“This is 1998,” she said slowly as if talking to a five year old. “THIS SHIRT IS SO OVER!”

In the next two weeks, I spent a fortune replacing the majority of my clothes, with Mrs PM standing over me like a tyrant as I tried on shirt after terrible shirt in the fitting room.

“DO NOT BUY THAT!” she would say as I held up what I thought was a fabulous T-shirt for her approval.

I often wonder whether, if left to my own devices, I would truly buy a wardrobe full of dreadful clothes.

I'm sure that I would never mutate into an eccentric weirdo wearing only wore tweed jackets and corduroy shirts. All I've ever wanted is to wear decent everyday garments that are slightly different from everybody else. I don't want to be out for an evening’s entertainment and wearing almost identical apparel to every other man in Manchester. Unfortunately, any plans I harbour in this direction have been thwarted by Mrs PM; she insists that I become a clone of sorts, dragging me to high street chains and forcing me to buy clothes that the other sheep were buying.

If you want to see a sad sight on a Saturday afternoon, just visit a shop like Burtons. You will undoubtedly see a couple come in and you will recognise them immediately. He will have a sad look of resignation on his face; his eyes will be screaming “I don’t want to be here”.

The poor man will pick up a shirt and his partner will glare at him and replace it with another that she has chosen. He will reluctantly try it on in the fitting room, while she prowls around the shop like a hungry predator, selecting other items for him before standing guard outside the fitting rooms like a benevolent dictator. Some time later the couple will leave; she will have a look of satisfaction on her face; he will wonder how he has managed to spend £350 on several items of clothing that he doesn’t even like.

I am that man. Mrs PM is that woman. And there are thousands if not millions of similar couples in Great Britain.

I may have implied that if given the freedom by Mrs PM to buy what I want, that I would look for something unique and outrageous. You would be wrong.

Why? Because I have always questioned the sanity of so-called “fashion gurus”. Like contemporary artists, they have somehow managed to persuade the rest of us that their bizarre designs are “must have” fashion items – and then they charge a fortune for them. And we, like idiots, actually pay the crazy amounts of cash they charge. Worse, they parade their peculiar designs on famous people in the hope that the rest of the sheep will follow suit.

Who decides what next year’s fashion should be? A faceless elite who laugh all the way to the bank having pulled the wool over our eyes.

And why on earth do we, like lost sheep, go out and buy these bloody things? I know why I do – partly to please Mrs PM and partly because there is no other choice – unless I choose to go to an “old man’s” shop.

These people redefine the word "eccentric" and have somehow managed to introduce a whole new language of bullshit, using phrases like “blue is the new black”, “that is so last season” and “you look FIERCE”.

Whenever I watch a fashion report on the TV, I laugh my head off. We are presented with models looking like stick insects, marching down a catwalk in front of a captive, brainwashed audience, wearing clothes that can only be described as ridiculous.

The models are not appealing at all; most men I know prefer a woman to hold onto; somebody with a bit of meat on them (as my dad used to say), not a size zero woman who is so skinny that she is almost invisible.

If you are a woman and you believe that size zero is a great target I have one piece of advice; stay a size 10 or 12. Most men love women who they can cuddle up to.

Bizarre fashions are not just restricted to women. Male models are forced to prance up and down a catwalk wearing clothes that most men would run a mile from.

If you were to put these bizarre garments on an ordinary girl or an ordinary bloke and then send them out onto your average High Street, they would be laughing stocks. People would fall over in fits of hysterical laughter.

Yet people (those with more money than sense) are quite content to spend magnificently huge amounts of money on such items and make complete fools of themselves on red carpets all over the world. A corollary of that is that ordinary people want to copy them. You may find a superstar like David Beckham, content to shave off his hair and wear a skirt but the sad thing is that other men who are mere mortals will look absolutely ridiculous.

You will never, ever, ever, ever find me wearing anything outlandish and, given the choice, I wouldn’t succumb to the latest fashion craze that most men are forced to endure by their ladies. With the greatest respect to myself, I look like the product of the union of an albino baboon and a walrus so any "decent" item of clothing makes me look like an ape in fancy dress.

Imagine what I would look like wearing anything that an icon like David Beckham would wow the crowd at a party with?

I would look like an orang-utan wearing a tent.

Take a look at some of the following items. Can you imagine a middle-aged, crazy-haired arse like me walking down to the pub wearing anything like them?

I would look like a sentient sack of sewage and, of course, I would totally refuse to wear them.

I pray that similar items do NOT become fashion because I’m sure that Mrs PM will drag me around the shops despite my protestations.

The fashion police, as misguided as they are, would almost certainly hurl me in jail for crimes against the human eye. Can you imagine fashion prison? All the inmates would probably end up wearing something by Vivienne Westwood, the woman who gave us this:

Can you imagine me wearing these? Hello! HELLO!! Are you alright? Should I call a doctor?

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Astrology For Pets

My cats are fish.

Actually, that absurd statement is slightly misleading. Allow me to clarify it; my cats, Jasper and Poppy are Piscean cats.

When we acquired our cats, from the Cat Protection League, the woman who handed them over to us (after reading us the riot act and lecturing us on how to look after cats) told us that they were born on March 16th.

Of course, I couldn’t give two hoots but Mrs PM remembers their birthday every year. Why? Beats me! If we bought them a present, they would simply ignore it anyway. However, she does appear on the morning of their birthday and sings “Happy Birthday To You” to our stunned pets.

I’ll bet you are wondering why I am telling you the star signs of my feline masters? Why would you care?

I do have a reason; the other day I stumbled across the concept of pet horoscopes.

I am not joking and I swear I am not making this up. I discovered several web sites that tell you what’s in store for your pet dog or cat based on its date of birth. When I first saw it, I honestly thought it was a complete wind up. And I laughed. Boy, did I laugh. In fact, I’m still laughing at the moment.

Are these people serious?

I don’t want to regurgitate the exact words in case I breach some bizarre copyright but here are a few personality qualities for Piscean pets:

Your Piscean cat must have a diamond studded collar.

Piscean cats are very intuitive.

Piscean dogs are very confused.

Piscean dogs love walking on the beach.

Piscean cats are had to predict and are a wandering whirlwind of fur.

Take your Piscean cat to a beauty parlour.

Piscean dogs are excellent judges of character.

Piscean dogs are accident prone.

Your Piscean cat loves water

Your Piscean pet is often ill.

Your Piscean cat lives in a fantasy world of his own and has a vivid imagination.

Piscean cats are philanthropists

Piscean cats are full of self-sacrifice

Have I entered a crazy parallel universe? Who believes this nonsense? Am I alone in thinking that all this is the warped fantasy of a mind almost as weird as my own?

I would say words fail me but I am so incredulous that I can’t help pouring scorn on this bilge.

How on earth can Piscean cats love water? Cats absolutely detest water. This is an irrefutable fact that has been documented in many cartoons.

Are these people trying to tell me that roughly one twelfth of the cats in the world harbour a deep primeval desire to hurl themselves into the nearest river?

What utter nonsense.

As I stumbled through these predictions, I began to wonder whether cat horoscopes were restricted to the domestic variety. What about the big cats?

Can you imagine an accident prone lion? How about a panther with a vivid imagination? An intuitive lynx? Can you picture a tiger that loves a swim? A leopard who is a philanthropist, perhaps.

It is beyond belief.

Here is the horoscope for this week for Jasper and Poppy. And I say again – I am not making this up (again paraphrased):

How fantastic it is to dream about your fantasies and the plans to turn them into reality both for yourself and your loved ones. You will need your owner’s assistance but, be warned, everyone is in an extreme mood so you may fall at the first hurdle. Don’t worry about such delays as friends are anxious to deal with situations that they feel strongly about. Your turn will come. Your housemate has his own dreams and he needs to concentrate on them for the time being.

We’re talking about cats – bloody cats for crying out loud. If either of my cats could read, they too would dismiss this crap. I am certain of that. I can just imagine the cat conversation:

Jasper: Pops – have you read our horoscope.

Poppy: What’s a horoscope?

Jasper: I don’t know but I was trying to get that tight-fisted arse who blunders around our house to give me some more food, when I spotted him laughing at that computer thing he’s always messing about with.

Poppy: That scary thing, you mean?

Jasper: Everything’s scary for you. Anyway, I started to read over his shoulder and it said that I need his help to make my fantasies come true.

Poppy: You don’t mean ...

Jasper: Yes - my dream to fill this house with an endless supply of tuna fish and catnip and for that great oaf to let me sleep for 23 hours a day instead of the 20 hours I have to live with at the moment. I yearn to hunt mice in the house and consign that dog next door to the great kennel in the sky. And I want to be able to crap in the house - preferably on the oaf's bed.

Poppy: Dream on, you fat idiot. The only thing the oaf does is wobble about the house like a pink elephant, scaring me and ranting about those little people he sees on that big box in the lounge. He’s useless. He wouldn’t help you even if he could.

Jasper: That’s what I thought. Horoscopes are utter bilge aren’t they?

My star sign is Libra and apparently I’m a romantic, indecisive flirt. All this twaddle has made me wonder whether Libran cats are as indecisive as I am, or whether male Libran moggies are romantic and buy flowers for their ladyfriends. I can’t help but picture that Tom and Jerry cartoon where Tom falls in love with the beautiful she-kitty next door. I am willing to bet that Tom is a Libran cat.

Also, would a Libran cat sit there in the garden watching a bird and a mouse and consume hours of time trying to decide which one to catch? I very much doubt it – a Libran cat would probably starve to death.

I struggle to believe my own horoscope so imagine my reaction to this craziness.

I’m sure that some people assume that it is a bit of fun – and maybe it is. I certainly had fun reading these horoscopes for pets, mainly because I am certain that there are people in the world who believe that their moggy can be adversely affected by the moon rising in Uranus.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Grumpiness Is Good For You

Normally I totally ignore crap that I hear on the news or read in the paper about how something is good or bad for you. Over the years, most of my guilty pleasures have been put aside in favour of health (both physical and mental).

You find something enjoyable (like a massive burger with tons of mayo) and the experts inform you that you will keel over if you eat them all the time. Another pleasure, beer, is much maligned also. I used to be able to drink my 21 units a week with a smile on my face – now, they (those faceless buggers who are trying to rule my life with fear) tell me that I am a binge drinker if I have three pints in one evening.

I love to watch a little bit of TV – but even that is bad for my mind.

What’s worse, the number of mixed messages we get from “experts” is contradictory and changes from second to second. Take the much maligned egg:

In the 70’s - "Eat as many as you can – go to work on an egg"


Now? Eggs are a good source of protein!!

So, am I supposed to eat eggs or not?

Anyway, back to the plot - I stumbled across this link on the BBC website:

Feeling Grumpy Is Good For You

I must admit that I didn’t read the full article because the headline told me all that I needed to know. I would react in a similar way if I read headlines like:

“Eat More Cheese! You Are Guaranteed To Live To Be 150!”

“Experts Say That We Are Not Drinking Enough Beer!”

“Rock Music Is Therapeutic And Good For The Soul - Particularly If Very Loud!"

Sadly, we never see such headlines but “Feeling Grumpy Is Good For You” is the closest I have seen.

Before I go on, let me reassure you, dear reader, that I am a happy person with a positive outlook on life. I wake up everyday and I feel good to be alive. I want to live a long and happy life and see and experience just about everything that is good in the world.

However, I am a grumpy old git.

I’ve often wondered why I feel so happy even when I am in the middle of an enormous rant about something I’ve seen on the news. It has puzzled me that I can stand on my soapbox and pontificate about everything that is wrong in the world with a huge grin on my face and a feeling of euphoria in my heart. My mind is cleared of all the cobwebs; ranting is a spring clean for the brain. Being grumpy is therapeutic. I’ve known this for years.

Now I know it’s true – and nobody will convince me otherwise.

Many things make me happy but being a grumpy old man is one of the more pleasurable aspects. Until now, I honestly thought that I was a walking paradox; I appear to be totally angry and depressed yet I am absolutely delighted. I used to think that I had a split brain, the two halves balancing each other out as I ranted.

As well as giving myself immense pleasure by putting the world to rights, others, bizarrely, also enjoy my grumpy monologues. Certain people wind me up on purpose, knowing exactly which buttons to push to get me started:

Ill-deserved knighthoods

Politicians lying through their teeth

Strictly Come Dancing

Office politics

The state of music in the world today

Premiership footballers

The X Factor

Chirpy morning TV presenters

Radio DJs

The list is endless.

I can enter into a world where I am King and everybody else is my subject and must listen even if they don’t want too. Some people chuckle; others roll their eyes and say “he’s off again”. Some people even ignore me.

I don’t care. Ranting soothes my soul. Grumpiness makes me feel happy. I know that sounds absurd but it is absolutely true.

Mrs PM occasionally chuckles when “I go off on one”. She will sit there and smile as I preach about the state of the world and how I would rectify the situation if I had the omnipotence I secretly desire. Sometimes I go too far and my tirade of abuse is cut short when she says something like “Shut up – for the sake of my SANITY if nothing else!!!”

And now the BBC has confirmed something that I have known deep down for years; being grumpy is good for you. It focuses the mind and sharpens my razor tongue. And I am happier as a result.

When Mrs PM reprimands me for being a grumpy old git I can now turn to here and say, with my hand on my heart:

“Grumpiness is good for me – the BBC told me so. I shall continue to rant and I shall continue to moan. The TV will not get a reprieve. You should try it some time.”

I will spread the word. I will tell people that instead of bottling up their frustrations they should let it all out and rant away. There is nothing wrong with being grumpy.

Moan to your friends. Here a few topics that push my buttons – I’ve posted about some of them already:

Starbucks opening a new coffee shop five minutes walk away from another one.

The ever increasing price of petrol.

People yelling into their mobile phones saying things like “I’m on a bus – I’ll be there in thirty minutes. I’ll call you in ten minutes just to let you know where I am.”

The one-sided scare-mongering science that makes us believe the world is going to end if we don’t switch off our lights in time.

Dreadful romantic comedies that all have the same plot.

So-called celebrities who preach to their fans – the biggest offender being Bono.

The cult of celebrity and the pointlessness of people like Paris Hilton who are famous for absolutely nothing.

Overpaid, cheating prima-donna footballers.

The ego of every single contestant on the Apprentice. One particular comment a year or two ago quite literally made me spill a cup of tea over my crotch: “I am the best salesperson in Europe” – NO YOU BLOODY WELL ARE NOT!!!!!!!

Vegetarians who preach to me about eating meat. I don’t mind vegetarians but don’t give me a hard time just because I eat pork.

Overpriced restaurants serving crap food.

Contemporary art

Business bullshit: “What do you mean STEP UP TO THE PLATE? WHAT BLOODY PLATE?”

Christmas commercials in October.

People who ask stupid questions.

Talentless celebrities who expect special treatment “just because they are Britney Spears”

Over the top political correctness – she is female therefore she is a chairwoman NOT a CHAIRPERSON

Dreadful TV commercials particularly involving celebrities saying “because you’re worth it”

Novels that are supposedly literary masterpieces but in reality are as boring as hell and are only top of the bestsellers list because nobody understands the dreary monotonous story.

Ridiculous fashion and the fact that an elite bunch of idiots are telling Mrs PM that I should wear ridiculous clothes – “It’s the fashion Dave – your clothes are SO OVER!!”

Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and any other day when I have to waste money on cards just because some faceless elite are trying to rob me of my hard earned cash.

Over the top TV commercials for new pop stars “Winky Booger’s new album – the most anticipated recording of 2009. Winky opened his soul to the world.” Winky’s music is CRAP!

People who tell me that I look unhealthy because I haven’t spent my life sunbathing.

Over-zealous Health and Safety.

That’s plenty to keep you going, if you are anything like me. In fact, it has almost certainly given me a couple of ideas for future blog posts.

See what I mean?

I want to take a leaf out of Gordon Gecko’s book. I want to inspire you all.

The Plastic Mancunian says:

Grumpiness Is Good

Happy ranting – you know it makes sense.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Remember, Remember The Fifth Of November

Robert Catesby is a lucky man; not too many people in Great Britain have heard of him.

So who is he? Or should I say: who was he?

If I mention his more infamous side-kick, you may hazard a guess. I am talking about, none other than Guy Fawkes.

The mists of wonder become clear and now just about every British person knows what I am talking about.

For those of you outside Britain, let me explain.

In 1605, Robert Catesby masterminded a fiendish plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, killing King James I and a huge number of Protestant dignitaries into the bargain.

Why? Because he was a staunch Roman Catholic at a time when Catholics saw themselves as targets for discrimination; by wiping out the King and his Protestant followers, Catesby and his men could strike a major blow and change the course of history.

Catesby handed over the responsibility of performing the deed to Guy Fawkes, who promptly managed to get caught on November 5th, 1605 before he managed to execute this monstrous act of treason. I’ll bet Catesby was a little irritated by this.

Poor Guy Fawkes was probably more than a little irritated. The Gunpowder Plot was an act of treason. Had he been alive today, Fawkes would have been imprisoned for life. However, bear in mind that this was medieval times and I can barely begin to imagine what the poor man had to go through.

First of all he was tortured. I’ve seen some of the methods for extracting information in those times and it makes me pleased that I’m alive today and not having to survive in those barbaric times. Of course, poor Guy Fawkes succumbed to the torture and blabbed the names of all his allies without a second thought. I think I would have done too if I had seen the first spike.

As a result, all were sentenced to be executed in another very nasty way; to be hanged, drawn and quartered, the punishment for treason at the time.

What does that mean?

The victim was dragged on a wooden contraption to the location of his execution, which in itself is pretty unpleasant. Upon arrival, he was led to the gallows and hanged. But it didn’t end there. While still barely alive, the condemned soul was cut down and disembowelled and castrated before watching his own body parts burned in front of him. Finally, if he was still alive at this point, his body was hacked into four quarters before finally having his head cut off and displayed on a pike.

Guy Fawkes managed to leap from the gallows before he was hanged, breaking his neck in the fall. I must admit I might have done the same had I been in his shoes.

As for Robert Catesby, he managed to evade this horrific death; he died three days after the plot was discovered, shot by soldiers in a siege – a relatively painless way to go.

Guy Fawkes is the unlucky focus for the Gunpowder Plot, and is remembered to this day. It is a tradition to commemorate the event by burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a huge bonfire every November 5th. Huge bonfires and firework displays occur the length and breadth of the country.

I remember as a child, creating an effigy of Guy Fawkes with friends, using old clothes, lots of newspaper and a very scary mask. We used to walk around with our ugly creation asking people to spare a “penny for the guy” so that we could buy fireworks or at least contribute to the firework fund. Kids today don’t tend to do this, I guess, because it makes them look as if they are begging for cash.

On 5th November, cities, towns and villages across the UK will organise bonfires and fireworks; many will take place in back gardens. Most places will stink of smoke and fireworks will explode into the night.

Unfortunately, kids these days tend to get hold of fireworks and start setting them off before the big night. There is an age limit on fireworks but it doesn’t stop kids somehow managing to acquire them. Organised events do help but I’m sure there will be a few accidents on and around the big night.

Anyway, back to the plot. Why do I consider Robert Catesby to be lucky? I guess it’s because although he was a treacherous traitor, he isn’t widely remembered whereas poor Guy Fawkes is mocked, ridiculed and burned annually because of his part in a Gunpowder plot that took place 404 years ago. I’m sure if he had succeeded, he would have been revered as a hero. Who knows?

In fact, Guy Fawkes also donated his name to the English language – the word “guy” is derived from his name. After all, if Robert Catesby had been the main figurehead, we would have been referring to you average bloke as a bob” or a “robert”.

I’ll leave you with a traditional English nursery rhyme about the Gunpowder Plot, something you may have heard in the film “V For Vendetta”, a modern take on the story, featuring a vigilante, who wears a Guy Fawkes mask, wreaking havoc in a future Britain ruled by a fascistic government.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, guy, t'was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England's overthrow.

By god's mercy he was catch'd
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!

I wonder what Guy Fawkes would think if had known how famous he would become.