The World According To Damien
in a World gone mad – one sane voice emerges…

Mar
07

…was the “brainchild” of the Thatcher administration, in the early Eighties – and it has WRECKED Britain.

As a reaction to the excesses of the trade unions in the Seventies, most people were all FOR it. Get private businessmen in, to sort out the UK’s moribund nationalised industries.

They ignored the naysayers, who warned that putting the nation’s transport, utilities, health, education and other public services into commercial hands would result in higher prices and reduced facilities.

And so the selling-off of Britain’s “family silver” began. Right from the start, it became obvious the naysayers had been RIGHT.

Trains began crashing – regularly. And ticket prices went through the roof. Every year, there were hose-pipe bans – while baths, toilets and washing machine became small and water-mean.

Hospitals began charging for everything and actual medics became an endangered species. Schools ran out of books… you get the picture.

Oh, there were a couple of success stories. At first, the investment in the telephone system meant street-phones WORKED – and Telecom dragged the domestic communications market out of the Thirties. But the PRICE…

And, fearing the power of the major television services (particularly the BBC – seen as being left-wing) Thatcher introduced a bill to force the companies to air independently-made programmes. This actually introduced a DIVERSITY into programming – a success story that continues today..

But once the “prime” businesses had been drained (along with the North Sea Oil revenues) Thatcher began selling off everything the government HAD – including facilities that should NEVER have fallen into commercial hands.

Like the nuclear power industry. But when the privatised version of THAT went tits-up (like locals giving birth to two-headed babies) they came up with a SOLUTION. Windscale effectively changed its name to Sellafield.

And the prison service. When prisoners began escaping from Group 4, THEY changed their name too. In fact to date, several times.

My favourite Group 4 (currently G4S) stories are…

At Birmingham – a ghastly Victorian prison – they LOST THE KEYS, resulting in all the prisoners being trapped in their cells for an entire day (perhaps they fed them hot-dog sausages through the spy-holes in the doors).

Cost of new locks and keys: over a quarter of a million quid.

Another prisoner was given leave for a weekend and went off on a two-week holiday to Minorca.

But my favourite G4S story HAS to be the one-legged prisoner who wrapped his false leg in a bandage – then when they fitted it with a monitoring device (à la “White Collar”) he simply removed the leg and hopped off to commit more crimes.

Changing names may initially convert the infamous and notorious into the innocuous – but with the gutter-press (who are happy to deflect attention from THEIR misdeeds) snapping at the heels of these clown companies, that ploy does not last for long.

But cock-ups aside, putting public services in the hands of people whose sworn duty (and in some cases, legal obligation) is to MAKE MONEY – is GUARANTEED to end badly.

Having been around for sixty years now, this writer has seen it all and he TIRES of watching the INEVITABLE occur in Britain, with monotonous regularity.

He recalls a time when walking near a street-corner, he watched two cars approach a crossroads. He noted that the driver of the vehicle in the minor road was not slowing – thus had obviously not seen the “give way” line that was buried in the major road’s camber.

Too far from either car to wave an alert, he just watched them plough into each other.

That is me and Britain, today.

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Mar
04

…you either go through it with your head held high – or hung low.

So sayeth the prophet (actually, it was my Zen alter-ego, Cornelius, in “Random Thoughts” – but he said a mouthful).

You see, in This Life, you will encounter good luck and bad – in EQUAL MEASURES.

But how you choose to DEAL with this inevitability will determine whether you are a WINNER or LOSER.

A run of BAD luck (and in a life filled with happenings, it would be a statistical anomaly if such runs did NOT occur) can easily convince you that you are CURSED – while a run of GOOD luck tends to go unnoticed.

This is in the nature of man’s thinking. For example…

I HATE Thailand: it is muggy, has poisonous snakes and scorpions, is cursed by TERMINAL bureaucracy, its roads are populated by bike-riders who have no IDEA what they are doing and its people are obsessed with money, commercially clueless and treat their animals atrociously.

I LOVE Thailand: the sun shines most days, it has cute geckos, the cops do not constantly pester motorists, there is no road rage or jealousy, its people have a high threshold of boredom and are optimistic TRIERS, furthermore they are always happy and will help you whenever they can.

So which of these statements is true? Answer: BOTH of them.

Like ALL countries and peoples, the Thais have their good points and bad. And points that some outsiders will view as bad – others will view as GOOD.

Thus it can be seen that in all of Life, you will encounter a MIX of good and bad. It is how you FOCUS on these things that decides how you will SEE them.

Dwell solely on your life’s NEGATIVE aspects and you will convince yourself that you are a loser. On the other hand, only fixate on your good fortune and you will go round with a sickening, permanent smile – and drive all around you CRAZY.

But the fact is, neither of these extremes is desirable – what you need is BALANCE.

You must accept that no matter HOW carefully you plan things, the perfidy of Fate will inevitably capsize SOME of them. But remember that on the other hand, for every affair that goes straight down the dumper – Fate will make something work right that you had not even considered.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – so said Mr Lennon. And of course, he was right. And ACCEPTING that fact will enable you to relate POSITIVELY to This Experience.

So once in a while, step OUTSIDE of yourself – look at the WIDE picture. THEN see your life for what it is: a complex conglomeration of possibilities, decisions and results – foreseeable and otherwise.

And you will discover that those results are divided EVENLY between what can reasonably be termed fortunate and unfortunate. 

But remember, luck – even the GOOD kind – will only take you so far in This Place. If what you see is a life you have driven down a BLIND ALLEY, then you will have to reverse and change DIRECTION.

However, do not panic – there is an unending supply of alternatives and only if you carry your baggage and preconceptions with you, will you fail to take advantage of them.

You only get ONE SHOT at This Existence. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to make the BEST of it.

Ultimately, life IS simply what it is: neutral, an empty canvas.

What you choose to fill it with is entirely down to YOU. Blaming FATE for your unwillingness to explore Life’s Rich Pageant is like blaming the waiter, if you order the wrong meal.

So right NOW: step BACK from your life, look at ALL of its intricate convolutions – and the results of same. Are you HAPPY? If not, WHY not? What could YOU do to improve it – or even REBOOT it?

Got it? Then DO IT!!!

Feb
26

Sometimes, you just have to SMILE at America’s efforts to “re-invent” the English language.

The latest example I saw was the titular “majoritarily”.

Of course, they mean “mostly” – but what a sweet, nonsensical word!

(Which WordPress’ SpellChecker unsurprisingly REJECTS).

Feb
24

…is currently filming in Norfolk’s legendary Jewel Of The North…

Cromer (don’t ask).

Despite having appeared in a fair number of feature films – including some as the lead – Steve Coogan has never really made the grade in the cinema.

His only significant award nod (he didn’t get it) was for “The Parole Officer” – a fairly good British film which would probably have done better IN Britain had it been called The PROBATION Officer.

It was appropriate to call it The Parole Officer in AMERICA – but it appears the producers forgot films ARE ALLOWED to have different English-language titles on opposite sides of The Pond: like “The Hot Rock” being anglicised to “How To Steal A Diamond In Four Uneasy Stages” f’rinstance.

Although that is a bad example: the producers apparently assumed we Brits would not understand that “hot” is US slang for stolen – and likewise “rock” for gemstone.

Oh, yes: and we do not get “guy” or “chick” out of context, either.

And none of us have EVER read a Donald E Westlake book.

Berks.

The irony is, the film did NOTHING in America, anyway.

And even before filming is finished, I can assure the producers of “The Alan Partridge Movie” that THEIR effort will do little better.

They might as well call it: The Alan Partridge FILM.

For more on this, hit… http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/cornelius-on-the-the-alan-partridge-movie-film-spoiler/

Feb
17

Sometimes you just HAVE to laugh.

It seems a company called “HP” (nothing to do with the sauce – although they SOUND pretty saucy) designed an “app” (short for application: programmes you can load onto your “smart” phone to enable you to do things like take a picture of someone – then hit a button and watch their face acquire werewolf hair and teeth) called the “Chubby Checker”.

Using said app, you would take a picture of a man’s feet – and it would tell you the length of his schlong (in my case, UK: 10/US: 10.5/Eur: 44 = 7″/17.8cm – make of that what you will).

But the King Of The Twist – THE Chubby Checker – is still alive and active at 71. And he did NOT see the funny – nay, HILARIOUS – side at all. So he is SUING – for half a (short, American) billion bucks!

How much he will score remains to be seen. But if the case becomes a cause célèbre, it will provide more laughs than Anthony Weiner, Hugh Grant and Jimmy Swaggart combined.

The “Chubby Checker” indeed. Haaw-haaw-HAAAAAWW!!!

laughing

Feb
16

Small things can change history – even CLOTHES – and when that occurs, the wearers are often TOTALLY unaware of how it happened.

For example, when Agnetha Fältskog chose her wardrobe for her appearance with Abba in that 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, she could not have DREAMED the reaction that the combination of her satin outfit and kidney-bean figure would stimulate (and I use the word “stimulate” advisedly).

wp Agnetha Faltskog

The next day, all over Britain, millions of men were murmuring to each other, “‘Ere, did you see that blonde bird on Eurovision last night? Cor, I would…” – and I have no doubt the same conversation was being repeated all over Europe (in other languages, of course).

Then again, Aggie’s body only STARTED Abba’s career – the fact that Sweden’s most successful export (bigger than Volvo) contained one of the top ten songwriting duos of all time was still necessary to PERPETUATE it.

A few years later, the Nolans repeated the trick. An ever-varying number of colleens in disco pants, they got men murmuring AGAIN (although few of them wanted to HEAR the girls).

wp Nolans-001

Next came Davina McCall. In her case, her killer body meant that mere JEANS were enough to ensure that millions of blokes suddenly took an interest in “Big Brother” – a TV programme they otherwise would not have watched if you had PAID them.

wp Davina McCall-001

And then there were the gold lamé hot pants that relaunched Kylie’s career. They were allegedly purchased by Kylie’s dresser in a charity shop, for fifty Australian cents. The return on THOSE (filled with the still-trim Kylie) could not have been more – if said garment had been made of ACTUAL gold.

wp Kylie Minogue

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

The latest example of this phenomenon is our titular lady – one Pippa Middleton.

Her sister Kate was set to marry the next (or possibly, the one after) King of England, in Westminster Abbey.

Now naturally, an event such as this was planned down to the finest detail. And even though the TV coverage was LIVE, the vision mixer would have had the whole thing story-boarded out.

However, something happened that NO-ONE could have foreseen.

Not wishing to be seen as trying to out-Diana Diana – who on HER Big Day sported a dress that resembled something out of a Disney production – Kate’s wedding dress was a relatively modest affair.

And so, not wishing to outdo her sister, Pippa had gone with an even SIMPLER number – a plain white satin (AGAIN, satin) sheath, with no bells or whistles.

But On The Day…

The camera set-ups at the Abbey had been straightforward – inside and outside were fully covered.

But no-one had considered the GAP between the two.

You see, while the Great West Door leads straight into the Nave – the walls of this Gothic monstrosity are several feet thick.

And it was in THIS place that it was decided the Princess-to-be would be introduced to the clergy. Thus the procession was halted for SOME TIME – before she was allowed to progress to the point inside, where the cameras could get the shot of her entrance (so to speak).

Therefore, whilst all this was happening, the TV feed maintained the outside view – which showed Pippa standing behind Kate, who was now obscured by the archway.

Unfortunately for Pippa no-one was obscuring the REAR-view of HER.

Thus for several seconds, the WORLDWIDE audience had nothing to look at but her BOTTOM – encased by the afore-mentioned plain white satin sheath, BLAZING in the sun.

wp Pippa

Which lead to history repeating itself the next day – but this time on a GLOBAL, rather than just European, scale. “Did you see the royal wedding?” “Yeah – what about that bird…”

Which is why (at the time of typing) if you Google “Pippa Middleton’s Ass” you will get over one million, eight hundred and sixty thousand search results.

Even “[same]…Arse” will glean more than a hundred and seventy thousand (so no-one is likely to read THIS piece).

And all of that just goes to show that In Life, you can do what the hell you LIKE to try to avoid the perfidy of fate – but it is the little things that will get you, every time.

So if you are going on TV and have a nice arse – wear a BARREL.

Feb
15

If you are any age – and British – you will know the name. But you will as likely not know from where. Allow me to fill you in (and I do not even know you!)

Eric’s name has appeared several times a week, every week, on your TV screen, for the last FIFTY-TWO YEARS – as the composer of the “Coronation Street” theme.

He was born way back in 1908 and was a largely unsung (no pun intended – oh, all right then) composer. He worked on many films and TV series, but finally hit gold in 1954, with the main theme from the film “Meet Mister Callaghan”.

This was a British PI movie, starring Derrick De Marney. It is now long-forgotten, but those who have seen it say it is pretty good.

However, the film’s title theme was a HUGE hit, being covered – on both sides of the Atlantic – by EVERYBODY. Well, Les Paul and Ray Martin, for a start.

Here is Semprini’s version… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYjiOBqMU4Q

At this time, he was already 46 – and would be 52 when he was commissioned to write the theme for a soap opera that studio execs thought would only last six weeks.

But debuting in December, 1960 – it is STILL RUNNING. However sadly, Eric died only six years later.

So who WAS Eric Spear?

Well, he started his career at about the age of 20, as a stage ACTOR – he even had a role in a 1956 TV movie, as the Sultan Of Morocco.

But by his late twenties, he had added another string to his bow – that of composer. From 1935 until his death, he worked on around forty films – then after 1953, he started on television.

Fifties TV series like “Strictly Personal” and “Patrol Car” benefitted from his music – plus he wrote the themes for “The Errol Flynn Theatre”, “Sword Of Freedom” and “Time Out For Peggy”.

It is also said that he contributed to the De Wolfe music library. If that is true, it means you might have unwittingly heard Eric’s work on anything from Seventies Hong Kong kung fu flicks – through Eighties porn – to a Beyoncé video.

A long way removed from those black-and-white days of British Fifties TV and films.

So, a full, forty-year career then – but today, he will forever be known as the man who composed the “Coronation Street” theme.

The piece is actually called “Lancashire Blues”. Being set in the north of England and introducing southerners to phrases like “Ee, lass”, “Ecky thoomp”, “Aye, choock” and “‘Appen ‘t will” – Eric decided to go with a brass band – they being associated with northern folk.

The original piece goes like this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNV_Hh5ZWaE

It was never released commercially, until a CD appeared in 2005. It only lasts two minutes. Those familiar with the programme will note it has a short solo trumpet intro that was never actually used on the show, where the theme sounded like THIS… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvNwpy_U_KU

Actually, that was the 1964 re-recording, from a restored version of the kinescope of the 1960 Episode One – but it is virtually the same as the original and sounds more strident on the kine, than on the CD.

The tune probably gives actor William Roache the screaming abdabs every time he hears it, since he has been in the soap since that very first episode (you can see him in that last YouTube clip) and is now the LONGEST-SERVING actor in a continuous role on TV – anywhere in the WORLD.

But that is another story – which you can read on…  http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/morpheus-on-william-roache/

Anyhay, that is about it for this dissertation on Eric Spear. Forty years of work – producing two immortal pieces – a two-minute TV theme and a quirky instrumental. But then again, some composers work their whole lives and achieve NOTHING…

[UPDATE!] I am indebted to “radioman” – who I believe WORKS at the Beeb – for the following exchange, which I have “elevated” from the comments section on this piece.

He said….

Don’t forget he also wrote the music to another soap (the first British soap?)   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grove_Family

And I replied…

I had HEARD of this programme – named after the Lime Grove studio – but, curious, I looked it up. The first episode (arguably) is on YouTube. According to IMDb, the theme (and other music) was indeed the work of Eric Spear. Like the Corry theme (“Lancashire Blues”) it too has a title – “Family Joke” – and is a jaunty piece, played by a small combo, featuring a harmonica.

I am now “promoting” this exchange to my main article, complete with a piece I just knocked up for YouTube, featuring said theme – and a picture of ME, taken just about the time “The Grove Family” first aired.

Thank you for the inspiration, sir!

And said piece can be found HERE…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8ZiIRvJYtk

This piece has been an interesting journey – and a chance to link a number of my YouTube uploads to this column!

Feb
12

Congratulations are due to Mr Affleck for carrying off two BAFTAS for “Argo” at the British Academy Film Awards.

And for showing Bradley Cooper what a BEARD looks like…

Feb
09

Horse

I hear HORSE-meat has begun turning up in British burgers, lasagna, pasties, etc.

Where does one begin?

“I’ll have a Mr Ed-burger.”

“What a nightmare.”

“My kingdom for a McDonalds.”

“Stop your nagging.”

“The last time I ate horse-meat, it gave me the trots.”

“I just shouted at a Burger King assistant – now I’m a little hoarse.”

“Maybe Gallup should do a poll on this.”

“This’ll stirrup trouble.”

“I just finished a lasagna – it gave me neigh problems.”

“Don’t saddle me with this food.”

“What’s the mane course?”

There are a million of these…

Feb
03

Who? Well, he was the guy who invented the “Etch A Sketch” and he passed a couple of weeks ago, aged 86.

The problem I can see is, if he makes it to Heaven – haloes are ROUND…

Jan
29

Thirty years ago, Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker created a spoof genre that has often been imitated, but never equalled – until now.

“Airplane!” and “Police Squad!” heralded a new style of comedy, which mixed sight-gags – some in the background – with dead-pan delivery of absurd cliché lines by famous, serious actors.

The sheer number of jokes often required several viewings to get them all.

And now, Charlie Brooker has taken that formula to the max. “A Touch Of Cloth” – a reference to the popular but tedious police procedural, “A Touch Of Frost” – crossed with what happens to people who do not make it to the bathroom in time – does to Brit cop shows what “Police Squad!” did to Quinn Martin productions.

It’s all there – background gags like the poster showing items of fruit, with the title, “Fruits Which Are Not Oranges” (a reference to the controversial drama series, “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit”) and the “Now Wash Your Hands” sign in the toilet – featuring a silhouette wearing a police helmet.

And cliché lines like, “You can’t go in there – it’s impossible!” – but John Hannah opens the door anyway – to reveal a blank wall.

Hannah was the perfect choice to head up the cast. Like Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges before him, he has played his part for real.

Created as an 85 minute movie, “A Touch Of Cloth” is split into two TV episodes. And this is genius, because this formula really only works in 40 minute segments. Go for longer and “laughter fatigue” sets in – and the audience begins to anticipate the gags.

This is intended to be the first of three such forays – the second is already in production – and I think there are still plenty of “…-cloth” gags left…

Jan
21

Being an ex-pat Brit, for the benefit of my Stateside readers I will clarify the situation in the UK: back in the Eighties, a particularly corrupt Tory government (US equivalent: Republican administration) sold off our national industries (then, anything they could lay their grubby hands on) to commercial interests – their fat-cat friends.

Yes, we too are cursed by right-wing arseholes (US: assholes).

And one such selling-off was our water and sewage industry. But where the purchasers of our communications, gas and electricity services had made a mint from them – the companies who had taken on Water And Poop soon discovered they had been LUMBERED.

Many of the systems they were now responsible for, dated back to the Victorian era and were currently falling apart. And as if that were not bad enough – in 1987, the World-wide Climate Shift arrived.

Of course, the now-commercialised Water And Poop companies were swift to divert the blame for the situation they had inherited to their consumers – charging THEM with being WASTEFUL.

And thus it was that they managed to get their buddies back in Her Majesty’s Government (whom they viewed as having screwed them in the first place) to pass laws forcing manufacturers to reduce water consumption by changing the designs of their products.

So baths got smaller, builders put SHOWERS into new properties, toilets became “dual-flush” and new washing machines only allowed a TINY amount to enter their drums. Suddenly, appliances that used water did not WORK properly.

Also, every “summer” the local governments would announce another “hose-pipe ban” – ensuring people’s carefully-tended gardens would end up resembling Arizona.

And this is the situation which still exists today – except that last year, half of Britain was under water (again) following the Wettest Year On Record (BOY, am I glad to be an EX-pat Brit) – which brings me to that titular “generosity”.

Southern Water have just announced that THIS year – there will be no hose-pipe ban.

In Britain, this is called “taking the piss”.

Jan
19

Lincoln Futura (1)

A concept car, they only ever made ONE. But even in the Fabulous Fifties, the bubble-topped beauty was too much and it never made production.

However, it did star in a movie. “It Started With A Kiss” was a rom-com/travelogue film, featuring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford, who win the car in a competition and – he having been posted to Spain – go for a drive around Europe in it.

But after this, the car – which had originally cost $250,000 – was virtually GIVEN away to George Barris, a car customiser who stuck it in his yard under a tarp, where it languished for a decade.

Then, commissioned to design the new TV Batmobile and having only a short while to complete the task, George remembered the Futura.

He cut away the wheel-arches (enclosed wheels having long gone out of fashion) took out the mid-sections of the canopy and added a red revolving light, remodeled the front and rear ends – sticking a fake jet engine in the rear – and planted three equally-fake exhaust pipes in the top of the boot.

And despite car fashions having advanced out of all recognition in the intervening ten years, the Futura had been so far ahead of its time in ’55 – it STILL looked futuristic. The fans of the TV series LOVED it.

1960s Batmobile

The original Batmobile (the converted Futura) is in a museum*.

But several fibreglass replicas of it exist today – and even one of the Futura. They also still make Sixties Batmobile toys – but of the 1955 Lincoln Futura, only a Fifties Hong Kong friction toy remains.

Of course, more than half a century on, they are as rare as unicorns. But it just so happens that when I were a wee lad, my Dad BOUGHT me one – and I still have it TODAY. You can view it here…

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwvwzb_phil-spector-s-great-wall-of-sound-in-mono_music

One last thing – who says Hong Kong toys were cheap crap? It’s over fifty years old and the friction motor STILL WORKS!

* WOW!! Now THERE’S a coincidence (in a World where millions of things happen, it’d be a statistical anomaly if a few of them did NOT coincide). I wrote the above piece YESTERDAY and STAP me if the very car I mentioned – the original ’60s Batmobile – didn’t just get sold TODAY at auction, for four-point-two million bucks!

Holy spookiness!!!

Jan
19

(Thanks to the NRA) Phil Spector will probably be in JAIL until he is EIGHTY-EIGHT. And the journey that lead him there is a California Story to beat them all.

He first hit fame with his Great Wall Of Sound. This featured over-dub upon over-dub, the whole fed through both electronic and acoustic echo-chambers. Detractors called it “schlock rock” – which, Spector being Jewish, was a racist taunt.

Despite this, his epics hit the charts on both sides of the pond – but not necessarily in unison. “River Deep-Mountain High” went top five in the UK – but did little, Stateside. This was the beginning of Phil’s problems, as he considered it the best thing he had ever done.

Credited to “Ike & Tina Turner” – Ike was not even ON it. But this was typical. ALL of Phil’s records were created by HIM – the vocalists’ names were just for the labels.

Like, half of the Crystals’ hits were actually recorded by Darlene Love and the Blossoms.

Anyhoo – the thing about Phil’s Sixties output was it was only ever intended to be heard in MONO.

This was because the “layer-cake” approach of building them up got torn apart, if they were subjected to a stereo mix. And for twenty years, they REMAINED in mono.

But, with the Sixties over, Phil was courted first by John Lennon (contrary to logic, Paul McCartney was FURIOUS when Phil added strings to the “Let It Be” album-tracks) then others.

However, these new successes were short-lived. In 1974, Phil was almost killed in a car crash.

This development sent a man already known for erratic and often violent behaviour completely over the edge. His head badly scarred from the accident, he began wearing absurd wigs. Then he produced a punk band called the Ramones. And finally, he became a recluse.

Stories about him waving guns at anyone who displeased him were rife. Then the money ran out.

At this point, he was forced to sell the rights to his Sixties catalogue. The deal included the original tapes, which had been recorded in THREE-track.

Understandably, it now being the early Eighties, the new owners of the material had them remixed for STEREO. Phil was FURIOUS – but could do nothing.

Eventually, he managed to buy back the rights, but the damage had been done. Despite now only re-releasing his early material in mono again (including the 1963 classic Christmas Album, with the original cover art) people had already heard his genius RIPPED TO PIECES.

I myself possess mint STEREO copies of the Christmas Album and a number of the Sixties singles – but am all-too-aware they just don’t sound RIGHT.

And thus it is that I have put together four of those Sixties hits in a high-dynamic MONO mix, for Dailymotion.

It’s a video site – not a constipation medicine – so if you have a sound system connected to your computer, ramp it up to ELEVEN and click on..

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwvwzb_phil-spector-s-great-wall-of-sound-in-mono_music

Jan
13

If proof were needed that the subtitle of this column is apt – trust the POLICE to supply it.

It appears the Lancashire force received a call that a drunk was wandering around with a samurai sword. They sent one of their finest to investigate.

The officer found his man and nailed him with his police-issue Taser.

Unfortunately… the Tased man turned out to be a BLIND man on his way to the pub – and the “sword” was the man’s WHITE CANE.

The police have subsequently taken away the officer’s Taser and the blind man – a two-time stroke-sufferer – is suing.

In a World where a woman gets over a hundred grand ’cause her workmates call her “massive cleavage” – and another gets a seven-figure sum from McDonalds, ’cause she burns her lips on a hot cup of McCoffee – this writer hopes the Tased blind man gets a MINT from the Keystone… sorry, Lancashire Kops.

On the bright side, at least the blind man lived in ENGLAND. If he had lived in America – he would be DEAD now.

Jan
03

…will not happen.

Every Full Moon, dancers converge from all over the World to boogie the night away on Haad Rin Beach, Ko Pha-Ngan. And as a Brit retired to Thailand more than eleven years now – many visits to Haad Rin’s monthly knees-up have failed to kill ME.

This country is like Ireland (the whole island) in the Seventies – all SORTS of aggro in the Separatist bit (Ireland: the North – here: the “Deep South”) – but perfectly peaceful elsewhere.

To get to Ko [island] Pha-Ngan, only requires you to go as far south as Surat Thani – which is WAY short of the “troubled” area. And the two sides of the dispute only target each other, keeping the aggro in their own backyard. It has RARELY spilled into Hat Yai (the “capital of the south”) and that is still WAY south of Surat Thani.

And, unlike with Bali, it has NEVER affected the trains, clubs, beaches (including Haad Rin) Bangkok, Pattaya – or ANY tourist areas. The main reason being Thailand is sh*t scared of bad publicity affecting the tourist trade and thus has TIGHT SECURITY in those areas.

Furthermore, Bangkok has been free from political problems since the Red Shirt demos of a couple of years back (if you want, you can avoid wearing plain yellow and red shirts – but as an obvious tourist, you would be okay anyway).

Elsewhere, the Preah Vihear Temple area on the Cambodian border has been a site of squabbles for years, with little squads of soldiers occasionally getting bored and popping off a round at the other side. But that is a LONG way from anywhere you will be going.

And as for the recent shooting ON Haad Rin; a Brit got stroppy with some Thai kids and discovered to his cost that Thais love American “action” movies and think guns are cool – a mistake the culprit will have MANY YEARS to reflect on, in one of Thailand’s SERIOUSLY nasty jails.

But it is best not to argue with the locals, just in case.

However, such happenings here are VERY RARE. This is the first such incident at the Full Moon Party – where around TWENTY THOUSAND tourists go to boogie EVERY MONTH – and they now hold “Half Moon” and “Dark Moon” parties too (although those are somewhat less well patronised).

Thus, over the last thirty years, around FIVE MILLION tourists have attended one of these shindigs – and so far, this guy is the ONLY one to have left in a BODY-BAG (apart from drunks who wander into the sea for a wazz and get LOST).

Furthermore, the music that started it all – TRANCE – can still be heard at Vinyl, Zoom and the Boom-Boom Bar. So GO for it!

For more, see my attempt at capturing the essence of this phenomenon, at… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hriep_-tWrk 

Dec
30

As 2012 (properly called “twenty-twelve” – not “two thousand and twelve”) slips into 2013, one inevitably reflects on where one is, in one’s life.

And being now sixty (jeez) one realises that one is now at the beginning of one’s Fourth Quarter, In This Place.

As stated elsewhere in these ramblings, the Quarters are…

0→20=growing up, 20→40=young adult, 40→60=middle-aged adult and 60→80=old fogey.

And as one of those old fogeys, I have learned everything I need to – experienced everything I want to – and achieved everything I am ever likely to. 

Now of course, we are the first generation for whom the possibility of radical life-extension achieved through science rather than myth and superstition actually EXISTS.

But for the moment, all of that can only be speculation. So for the time being, let us assume that we, those Brave Baby Boomers – are all in our LAST Quarter of existence.

So as a Generation, what have we really accomplished?

We were gonna legalise pot. Well, the first stirrings of that ARE finally happening.

We were gonna eradicate racism, sexism, sexual orientationism (? – prejudice against gays) and all sorts of other -isms.

But all we managed to do was create mass confusion, thanks to what became known as Political Correctness.

And we have not managed to do much about ageism – which is unfortunate for US, since WE are now old.

Inevitably, two of our number managed to reach the Oval Office and Number Ten. Actually FOUR – but we will draw a VEIL over George Wan… sorry, WaLker Bush and James “Gordon” Brown.

Yes, Bill Clinton and Tony “Bambi” Blair occupied those hallowed offices for eight and ten years respectively. However, in all that time they achieved little of a positive nature.

Bill was caught dallying with a chubby intern and Bambi made a long series of BAD choices.

But at least most of us BBs have managed – to some degree – to master THIS medium. And so at least our voices can be heard – MOST places.

However, when it comes to all of the greed, stupidity and bullsh*t in the World – we have managed to do little to stem THAT.

And now a brand new year approaches – 2013. Even the SOUND of it seems like science fiction. Twenty-thirteen. But it is a fact – or will be in two days from now.

So have we BBs had our chance and BLOWN it? Or is there yet time to Make A Difference?

And I do not just mean whittering on in this medium...

Dec
23

The problem with prediction is that the variables inherent in life are exponential. In other words, as events vary from those that would seem most likely, they in turn experience their own variations. Then rinse and repeat.

Thus films whose intent is to portray the future ACCURATELY, rather than simply being “what if” fantasies, have their work cut out – and are more often than not total bollocks.

Of course, the cynic would point out that provided the production’s GROSS is acceptable on its first release, who CARES how ridiculous it looks when the future era it is set in actually comes around?

Anyhoo, let us examine a few examples and see how close they came.

We begin with…

H.G. Wells’ “Things To Come” (1936)

01 Things To Come

Based on Wells’ book of just a few years earlier – and Wells himself worked closely with the filmmakers – it’s earlier passages are eerily accurate. However, as time goes by, this epic spirals into absurdity.

World War Two continues into the Fifties, then the Sixties – which features bombers that resemble Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose”, complete with umpteen propellers (in 1936, Whittle’s jet engine was still on the drawing board) – after which the planet descends into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

I will save the rest, as you might see it one day.

The point is, as time progresses, the diversion between the film’s narrative and actuality becomes – as stated in para one of this exploration – exponential.

“1941” (1979)

02 1941

Being a comedy directed by Steven Spielberg in 1979, this was not actually a prediction movie – rather a retro, “what if” one, which explores what might have happened had the Japanese launched a major offensive against Los Angles, right after Pearl Harbour.

In fact, there WERE attacks on LA in the early days of WW2, but how significant they were has remained shrouded in mystery – the authorities at the time understandably being loath to start a panic.

Anyhay, this manic movie is generally considered to be Spielberg’s “disaster” movie in more ways than one. But actually, the film made a healthy profit, won awards for its special effects and is not half as bad as its reputation paints it.

Our next look at this genre also varies somewhat from it – in that only the source novel could be thought of as being predictive. The actual film was MADE in…

“1984” (1984)

04 1984

A depressing, dour film, it was not a success – and definitely not a date movie. It was also confusing, since the dystopian future it depicted was now CONTEMPORARY – and had not happened.

George Orwell’s book had been written in 1948 and the author had simply reversed that year. It was never actually intended to be a prediction of what life would be like thirty-six years hence, rather what it COULD be like, socially, politically and practically, in the future generally.

But 1984 was not about this film. It was about Frankie Goes To Hollywood and other Eighties Techno-Pop bands. Pop’s last hurrah.

While the totalitarian state where Big Brother Watches and Security Is The New God did not exist in 1984 – we had to wait until after “9/11”, 2001 for THAT.

Which brings us inevitably to…

“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

03 2001

After decades of films featuring laughable spacecraft, mostly looking like WW2 V2 flying bombs, with scant attention to technical detail, Stanley Kubrick filmed Arthur C. Clarke’s masterpiece.

And by the ACTUAL year 2001, it all still looked pretty good. The technical details had held up comparatively well. And the traditional business suit WAS still as it had been for many decades before 1968, proving Hardy Amies had been right – while designers of futuristic film apparel for lesser sci-fi films who had gone with vari-coloured Lurex had got it horribly WRONG.

But other aspects had been bedeviled by those inevitable variables, like Pan Am having gone broke several years before – and the BBC not getting lots of digital channels until several years after.

However, the MAIN split between the film and reality was how the momentum in the space programme had plummeted, once the political goal of plopping some men on the moon had been reached.

Thus we finally arrive at…

“2012” (2009)

05 2012

Roland Emmerich’s final film in his “apocalyptic” series was based on the Mayan “prediction” that the World would come to an end on the 21st of December, 2012 (two days ago at the time of typing and we are all still here – well, at least you and I are).

In actuality, the Maya never said any such thing, but in the spirit of never letting the facts ruin a good yarn, Roland spent two hundred million dollars in digital special effects, making it happen.

And while in America (a country already steeped in paranoia) it did poorly at the box office – in The Rest Of The World it cleaned up.

Perhaps the Rest Of The World just WANTED to see California tip into the Pacific.

Nevertheless, at least as far as accuracy was concerned, it was only required to portray society as it would be THREE years in the future.

The prediction aspect was solely about Doomsday and if he had got THAT right – you and I would now be TOAST.

So let us be grateful that these cinematic dips into prognosticated destiny are simply what they are – for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

Dec
21

I’ll bet you a million pounds the World is still here tomorrow…

Dec
21

Creationists: you claim the ease with which bananas can be peeled proves Intelligent Design.

I’ll see your banana and raise you a walnut.

Dec
13

Prank phone calls have been around since Alexander Graham Bell.

And radio prank phone callouts date back at least to the Fifties – legendary DJ, Wolfman Jack, was a master of the art.

But last week, one such call ended in tragedy. Two young hosts on a local radio station in Sydney, Australia – posing as QE2 and the Windsor Wingnut – rang the hospital where Princess Kate was staying, to ask how she was doing.

Having likely been raised on “Carry On” movies on TV, the young presenters had assumed their deeply LAME impersonations would be detected immediately – and that they would be told off by a Hattie Jacques-type matron.

However, Britain is not like that anymore. These days, most hospitals employ foreign personnel in minor positions and the call was answered by a passing Asian nurse who, it being the middle of the night with the switchboard unmanned, simply passed the call to the duty nurse handling Kate.

She in turn assumed the call was kosher and began giving details of the princess, while the two hosts just “went along with it” – thinking they had unexpectedly obtained a scoop (many Australians being obsessed by Britain’s royals).

But then three days later, that passing nurse – hanged herself.

Oops.

So whose fault WAS the death?

Many said the nurse herself: she must have had “issues” to have cashed in her chips over such a trivial affair – the prank call being the straw that broke the camel’s back. But those people forget the ETHNIC dimension (possibly for PC reasons).

While such nonsense would not have affected a Westerner unduly, people from other backgrounds can, whilst their English may be conventional, possess very different values from said Westerners.

The whole business might have seemed catastrophic to Jacintha.

Also, while the hospital has claimed that no action was taken against Jacintha – who knows WHAT was said to her – or by whom?

It could be that her superior gave her an almighty roasting – and following the suicide, understandably kept shtumm. But they will now have to carry a mountain of GUILT for the rest of their lives.

Which brings us to those two hosts. One had only started with the radio station the previous day. His career is now SCREWED and like his co-host, he will DEFINITELY be carrying that mountain of guilt.

But their role in this affair is secondary. They were mere pawns in the game.

The REAL villains of this piece are the radio station and in particular, the PRODUCER of the programme.

I understand that this latest business is not the FIRST time the station has been in trouble over on-air hoaxes. Over the last fifteen years, it has had a NUMBER of “stunts” end badly – this is just the first that has resulted in a DEATH.

For those unaware of on-air hoax protocols, they are basically as follows…

To air an audio, video or audio/video recording made without the participant’s knowledge, one of the following conditions must apply:

In the case of an investigative journalistic piece, the piece must be “in the public interest” – which does NOT cover a topless princess or similar.

And in the case of a “candid camera” stunt, or ANY piece made for entertainment purposes, ALL participants must sign a waiver. The broadcaster must get clearance from EVERYONE directly involved, using a legally binding RELEASE FORM.

This last is why people’s faces in such pieces on TV are often “pixelised” – even when they are merely bystanders. A number of TV stunts have gone wrong in the past and so these days, production companies take no chances. 

Of course, obtaining such consent is expensive, difficult and time-consuming – and where a piece is time-sensitive, often impractical (the Princess was only set to be in hospital for a few days – and it was on the other side of the World).

Thus many broadcasters – particularly small ones – prefer to just let the lawyers hear the piece and if they okay it, broadcast it and hope for the best.

But in THIS case, they got the WORST.

Many celebrities have been pranked by PROFESSIONALS – comic impressionists and the like – but they are PUBLIC figures who are prepared for such nonsense.

However Jacintha was just a little nurse – a stranger in a strange land – who found herself in the middle of something that was too big for her.

Her blood is on the hands of “2Day FM” and the producer of “Hot 30” – THEY are the ones who should be in the spotlight.

Dec
05

Poor (not really: he’s RICH) old (not really: he’s six weeks younger than ME) Chuck Lorre.

Having barely recovered from the monumental, steaming pile of aggravation caused by the histrionics of his main “Two And A Half Men” star, Charlie Sheen; now the show’s titular “Half” – Angus T Jones – has gone and gotten himself RELIGION (in the form of Seventh Day Adventism – whatever THAT is).

And having declared the show to be “filth” – he says he wants OUT.

Angus T Jones - Sept 2011

Furthermore, given the show’s “adult themes” do not sit well with the followers of his new-found faith, he’s urged “his fans” not to watch it.

His FANS? WHAT fans??? Wake up and smell the roses, Angus – the only fans you have are fans of the SHOW.

You are a kid actor (barely) who got SERIOUSLY LUCKY, glomming a multi (about TWENTY, according to my reckoning) million dollar gig that guarantees you’ll never (unless you’re even more stupid than “Jake”) want for anything as long as you LIVE.

Apart from a handful of cameos, your other acting achievements are ZILCH. Back in the Sixties, Butch Patrick (who is also now my age) played Eddie Munster and then spent the rest of his life trying (and failing) to keep his “career” going. That’s YOU – after “Two And A Half Men” finally wraps.

But then HE never scored a FRACTION of the loot YOU have.

Your relevance to (and airtime on) the show has been declining year by year anyhow. But being integral to it (solely in terms of the TITLE) they were forced to keep you on – and pay you OBSCENE amounts of money for doing so. And now you SHIT on them.

Okay, I know you’re only nineteen – but from one who is WAY older and wiser, I can tell you that all of that easy money you’ve received since you were EIGHT is IMPORTANT. Money don’t buy happiness – but it certainly buys you the freedom to FIND it.

And BLOWING the chance to earn even more over “principles” is MADNESS. Even the dopey stoner you play on “Two And A Half Men” would have more sense.

In the future, you will REGRET your current idiocy. You will discover that THESE are your Golden Years – as an actor, you are right up there with the afore-mentioned Mr Patrick.

So I just hope for YOUR sake (I could give a rat’s arse) that your financial advisors manage to stop you pissing away the fortune you have made, before you REALISE that fact.

Nov
23

Being himself over six feet tall, this is an academic point for this writer – but elsewhere in these columns, he has ruminated on the excesses and just plain STUPIDS created by Political Correctness.

And a new one has impinged upon his consciousness: it appears the PC term for persons of reduced stature is dwarves (some incorrectly say dwarfs) – NOT midgets.

The reasoning behind this is that midget merely means SMALL – as in midget car – and derives from midge: a small biting insect, similar to a mosquito.

Whereas the word dwarf describes the MEDICAL CONDITION that is responsible for producing the phenomenon of said persons.

Okay, fair enough.

But what pisses off THIS journalist is that no allowance is made for normal human verbal interaction. The thing is, WORDS alone cannot wound – that only happens when the person USING them INTENDS so to do.

Inflection, body-language, VOLUME and context are the important factors – not the words.

One cannot go around taking offence at everyone who uses language “insensitively” – one needs to RESERVE one’s ire for those who MEAN to attack one.

Casual misspeaking is not the enemy – vile, primitive, bigotry IS.

People can easily convey irrational HATRED without using ANY “inappropriate” words.

And ridding the World of THAT emotion will take a LOT more than just tidying up the language…

Nov
17

An organisation is currently protesting the use of a Buddha statuette used “creatively” by Maxim magazine. Half-naked ladies posing with its sacred icon does not sit well with said organisation – the National Office of Buddhism.

I’m adding NOTHING…

Nov
08

Having just watched the twelve-hour coverage of same (even longer than the Oscars) on CNN, I noted that their commentators failed to mention two important facts.

Firstly, how the graphic of the states – once all bar ONE of the results were in – resembled an old man with his todger hanging out of his trousers. Forty-nine of said states being coloured (sorry – colORed) deep red or blue – while Florida (THEM again) was BRIGHT YELLOW.

And secondly, the MISSING statistic.

Thing is, all night they were showing the stats of the voters – and it turned out those voting for Barry Obama were mostly young, female, secular and urbanite (UK: townee) – leaving old, male, god-botherers in hee-haw (UK: hayseed) regions for Willard Romney.

Meaning those who went for Barry were America’s INTELLIGENTSIA – while those going for Willard were its slack-jawed morons.

(Not surprisingly, given that Willard was one of the very Wall Street robber-barons who landed America in the financial doo-doo it is still trying to crawl out from – while Bazza is the one man who, despite the best efforts of Congress, has done all within his limited powers to REVERSE that mess).

Perhaps Baz should impose an IQ lower-limit on America’s voters…

Oct
28

Has The Donald now completely LOST it?

Having been roundly embarrassed after handcuffing himself to a dead hooker named Birther, he now offers to donate five million bucks to a charity of Barry’s choice, if he will reveal all of his school and college records, his passport applications, his inside leg measurement, etc.

Obama should counter with HE will donate TEN million bucks to a charity of TRUMP’S choice – if HE will reveal WTF that THING is, on top of his HEAD.

Some pieces just write themselves…

Oct
16

These days, America having screwed up the billion and trillion (see  https://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/damien-on-ive-told-you-a-million-times-dont-exaggerate/ ) we can only safely use thousand and million, when we need big numbers.

But there are a whole bunch MORE out there – and TINY numbers as well. The trouble is, these SI units are METRIC and America cannot get its collective head around THAT. Hell, even us Brits have taken decades to do it – and apart from the very young, we STILL drink pints and measure our height in feet and inches.

The problem is that while decimal measures are great for scientists, our old Imperial measures RELATED to everyday life.

Like, the acre comes to us from the Middle Ages – and was the amount of land a bloke with an ox could plough in a day.

And the foot comes from WAY back and is simply the length of a (shod) human foot.

While the hundredweight (112 pounds) dates back to Medieval times and was the most a man could comfortably carry on his back (like a sack of coal). Although America has a short version of THAT, TOO – just 100 pounds.

As for pints and gallons, they get SERIOUSLY complicated – and yet again, America’s are SMALLER.

However, these days the old measures are fast disappearing in favour of the more logical, practical and CO-RELATING decimal measures (a litre of water weighs a kilogramme and occupies a thousand cubic centmetres – more or less).

But while most are familiar with mega- this and micro- that – few know the LOT. So here – for those who would like to BROADEN their descriptions of large and small quantities – they are…

Deca- = times ten (10 to the power 1 – not used much)

Hecto- = times one hundred (10 to the power 2 – likewise)

Kilo- = times one thousand (10 to the power 3)

Mega- = times one million (10 to the power 6)

Giga- = times one thousand million (10 to the power 9)

Tera- = times one million million (10 to the power 12)

And now we get SERIOUSLY big…

Peta- = times one thousand million million (10 to the power 15)

Don’t worry too much about these “powers” – the number is merely the number of ZEROS. Onward…

Exa- = times one million million million (10 to the 18)

Zetta- = times one thousand million million million (10 to the 21)

Yotta- = times one million million million million (10 to the 24)

And that is as big as you can GET. Meanwhile, going DOWN, we have…

Deci- = one tenth (ten to the power MINUS one)

Centi- = one hundredth (ten to the power minus 2)

Milli- = one thousandth (10 to the power minus 3)

Micro- = one millionth (10 to the power minus 6)

Again, the “powers” are just zeros, with “minus” indicating the number is a FRACTION. Thus “micro-” is one OVER one million.

Nano- = one thousand-millionth (10 to the minus 9)

Pico- = one million-millionth (10 to the minus 12)

And here is where we get seriously SMALL…

Femto- = one thousand-million-millionth (10 to the minus 15)

Atto- = one million-million-millionth (10 to the minus 18)

Zepto- = one thousand-million-million-millionth (10 to the minus 21)

And finally, my personal favourite…

Yocto- = one million-million-million-millionth (10 to the minus 24)

The possibilities are endless…

“Hang on a yoctosecond” or “Oi! Yoctobrain!”

If you admire a celebrity, don’t call them a megastar – call them a yottastar. Alternatively, if you’re talking about Frankie Cocozza – you have YOCTOSTAR.

So there you are: a whole RANGE of prefixes that can be tacked onto words to give PRECISE measurements, instead of silly words like gazillions or miniseries (which should have a hyphen, anyway).

And if you can’t remember ALL the prefixes, just fix these LAST two into your vocabulary: yotta – bloody BIG, yocto – incredibly TINY.

Astound your friends and confuse your enemies!

You’re welcome.

Oct
12

Women live longer than us blokes (serves ‘em right!) In the UK (despite what its lying government might say) that’s 79 for us and 82 for them.

However, life being what it is, sometimes blokes find themselves alone first. And when that happens, the more adventurous often sell up and head for the sun, sand, sea and sex of my adopted country – Thailand.

But after some time spent in those pursuits, a lot of them just buy a condo, find a mature Thai woman with kids whose husband has split, to look after them in return for an income – and settle down to a life of boozing, TV-watching and sleep.

Thus their days become a routine of waking, showering, eating, sitting in a nearby bar, drinking for hours with their peers – then going back to their condo for another shower, eat, TV and bed (it’s better than freezing in Britain).

However, in a run-down area of Bangkok, this reverie was disturbed for some. An area known as Washington Square had become dilapidated and was ripe for redevelopment – but said area was owned by a number of property companies and they could never agree on anything.

But eventually the developers managed to get their ducks in a row and within days, the whole area got torn down. Hit  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uHrvKedqXY for more.

And in that area, the phenonenonomon occurred. Given the buildings were constructed cheaply, from thin concrete slabs, it didn’t take long to level the lot – and shortly afterwards, a number of old western men were observed wandering around, dazed, in what looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, murmuring, “Where’s the Silver Dollar?” “Where’s the Cat’s Meow?” “Where’s the Texas Lone Staar?” (sic).

It is thought many of them were Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Oct
04

For years, homophobes accused Mr Fix-It of being a poof. I wonder if they are happy NOW?

Of course, the “revelations” should have surprised no-one. The fact that Seventies Pop-stars and DJs nobbed young fans at gigs and behind the scenes of Top Of The Pops in the Seventies has been common knowledge for decades.

And I can understand why. In the early Nineties, I and my then-lady were staying at a hotel in Birmingham and, arriving there in our car just as a mini-bus disgorged New Kids On The Block, were mobbed by hundreds of pubescent teens.

I laughed it off with a cry of “No autographs please” – and dodged around the boys they were THERE to see.

Later, around three in the morning, myself and my lady returned to the hotel on foot after a night at Ronnie Scott’s “annexe” club, to find a hard-core of fans holding an all-night vigil outside the front.

Fascinated by this phenomenon, we stopped to talk to the girls. The conversation was instructive. Most of the girls were there more for the companionship of their peers than the group. The LAST thing on their minds was a sexual encounter with them.

But we heard tales of a FEW girls who, by bribing roadies – got a lot CLOSER. And a few monied ones had booked INTO the hotel with that aim. Whether they had been successful we never knew.

Later, back in our room, we discussed what we had learned of this strange world. Both of us had, at some time in our lives, experienced a passion for someone which had inspired us to hold a vigil designed to place us near them, without actually providing contact.

Only if YOU have been there can you understand that – a yearning for someone who is unattainable.

However, a chilling aspect of our reflection was the realisation that an unscrupulous man staying at that hotel could definitely have taken ADVANTAGE of the situation. Some of the fans would have done ANYTHING for the promise of an “in” to our fellow hotel-guests.

The “worship” of another human being is strange enough, but when the object of the affection is a celeb, things can get more than a little flakey – people become OBSESSED with DESIRE. However, sadly the NOTION of sexual contact with an “icon” often falls way short of the REALITY – as many “groupies” will attest.

Which explains why most of those who DID get nailed by “showbiz royalty” in those halcyon days – kept QUIET about it. Their illusions having been shattered, they ended up feeling used and STUPID.

And as for the stars themselves – my brief encounter with a hundred screaming, nubile teenyboppers was VERY instructive. If, in the Seventies, I had been one of those desired persons – I would have found it VERY difficult to resist.

Over the years, every now and then, a name has popped up – Gary Glitter, John Peel, Bill Wyman, Jonathan King and now the legend that was Sir Jimmy – in connection with misdeeds with teenage girls (and occasionally, boys).

But celebs are monied – and worth money to The Business. And so ranks are CLOSED.

Only now that Savile is DEAD have details of his doings emerged.

And with the Grim Reaper beckoning many of his contemporaries, it is only a matter of time before a FLOODGATE is opened…

——————————————————————————————————————

I wrote the above piece 25 days ago – and since that time, the floodgates I spoke of have ALREADY opened.

And so I propose to EXTEND this piece, beginning with its initial comments and my replies (thus keeping things chronological).

“I met Sir Jimmy, in the seventies. But I were lucky. I were a lad. Holden McGroyne – October 13, 2012 at 8:11 am

“So is one of the people now claiming Sir Jimmy fondled them – but at the time, he was a GIRL. Although a while later he had a ‘gender reassignment’ operation – however he has not claimed that Sir Jimmy’s groping had any bearing on that decision.

“Either way, while I am no fan of kiddie-fiddlers (as an 11 year old, I remember being constantly pestered by them) I have to say that as an ex-pat Brit, I have found the various REACTIONS to the Savile saga in Britain nothing short of HILARIOUS.

“Of course, the Sun got up on its usual high horse, braying for his knighthood to be ‘revoked’ – but while that rag’s readers might be lacking in intelligence, its writers are not. They know that said knighthood died WITH him.

“And hospitals and similar organisations have been busy trying to eradicate the plaques, ward-dedications and suchlike that carry his name, thanks to his myriad charitable works.

“Then some are calling for his remains to be dug up and dumped somewhere (a lot HE’LL care – he’s DEAD).

“While the suits at Auntie are running around like headless chickens, worried they might be legally LIABLE for Sir Jimmy’s misdeeds.

“When his peers start falling off the perch and THEIR misdeeds come to light – it’s going to be a FARCE! Damien – October 14, 2012 at 10:22 am

“‘…people become OBSESSED with DESIRE…’ The reaction of religious fanatics, against such negative complications of Mother Nature’s cunning plan to keep the species going, is even worse. Anonymous – October 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm

“Apparently I now learn S’Jimmy was ‘knighted’ by Pope John-Paul 2 – now THERE’S irony! Damien – October 18, 2012 at 8:56 pm

…which brings us to NOW: the 29th of October – and events have moved on apace. Freddie Starr and the afore-mentioned Gary Glitter have been dragged into this thing – with the promise of more celebs to come.

So let us take stock of where we ARE with this saga.

The Seventies were a strange time. To one as old as this writer (60) they seem like yesterday – but they are as far away today as the Twenties were, in the Sixties.

So from one who was there (the Sixties, not the Twenties)…

In 1960, The Pill arrived. Did it herald a bold new age of sexual permissiveness? Hardly. Initially, they were only made available to MARRIED women – over 25 – who had had at least one child.

But by the Seventies, expediency had overtaken Fifties morality – and ANYONE could get it. Including underage girls (it was better for GPs to distribute them like sweets than deal with teen pregnancies).

And being a chauffeur in those days, I recall one of the effects of this thinking. There was at least ONE West End club where girls as young as TWELVE were admitted, wearing rubber fetish gear. And while celebs like Bill Wyman looked hungrily on, they danced on stage.

How was this possible? Well, the local cop shop was… [actually, I had better let that go; I do not want to piss THEM off]. And the doorman was hardly going to turn away the club’s “stock-in-trade”.

Suffice to say Bill met 13-year-old Mandy Smith there – and while their marriage did not last long, it fed the tabloids when his son from an earlier marriage got engaged to Mandy’s MUM. Had THEY married, Mandy would have been Bill’s wife AND grand-daughter-in-law (I think – even the tabloids could not work out THAT one).

Wyman was said to have bedded over 1000 girls – which brings up another aspect of the Seventies: it sat right BETWEEN the era of antibiotics that could nail any STD – and AIDS.

So against this back-drop, it is easy to see how Seventies Pop-stars and DJs were inextricably linked with pubescent girls.

However, S’Jimmy was a different case.

Now that more facts have come to light, we can see HIS story is FAR more sinister. Let us look at those facts…

One: Jimmy’s name was never romantically linked with a lady, which initially evoked questions concerning his sexuality. However, Jimmy insisted that although he applauded people who were gay, he was NOT (and given his precarious position, one can now see why he did not want to annoy ANYONE – even gays) and that his chosen vocation (a constantly touring DJ) did not permit a serious relationship. If pressed, he would boast that he had had MANY “sexual encounters”. But he never elucidated – and no-one ever came forward to qualify what those encounters involved.

Two: the only woman he DID admit to loving was his MOTHER (“The Dutchess”). Now the fact a son loves his mother does not make him Norman Bates… but still.

Three: when the fact he had been doing voluntary menial jobs (like hospital porter) at various institutions became known, he trumpeted the fact that he had been doing it for YEARS, unheralded. Very noble – but WHY?

Four: in the early Seventies, before PC was established, accusations of “inappropriate behaviour” with minors tended to get swept under the carpet.

Five: He “joked” that he hated kids (methinks he protested too much?)

Six: the most DAMNING evidence of all comes from Paul Gambuccini. He has described his impression of Savile as being like a necrophiliac – but rather than being attracted to the DEAD, he was attracted to those who, while alive, were unable to resist or report his advances.

One can easily see how this would work. While chauffeuring in the Seventies, I had a regular pickup from a “special needs” school. She was a young girl, about thirteen, who was sweet and charming – but did not SPEAK.

And as with the groupies described above – it occurred to me that an unscrupulous man could take advantage of THAT situation also.

All of which paints the picture that is now emerging: a man with a mother obsession – constantly touring the country – surrounded by adoring pubescent teens – no regular girlfriend – immerses himself in voluntary work that will bring him into contact with the DISABLED – in an era when sexual shenanigans are accepted – even encouraged.

And while the Eighties and Nineties brought PC – where children were finally BELIEVED – by that time, he had established himself as a fund-raising, do-gooding GOD. Weighed down with honours, running marathons, raising millions for charity – he had hospital wings named after him, for gawdsakes.

Who was going to go up against THAT?

Answer: NO-ONE – until after he was DEAD.

Earlier in this piece (which I am leaving as is) I made light of Savile’s misdeeds. I assumed he was simply revelling in the same sexual freedom – prevalent in those balmy days – as his contemporaries.

But if the picture that is now emerging is TRUE – and given the number and consistency of the stories, it is virtually impossible to doubt them – he was a CAD.

While others in that period merely succumbed to physical temptation with silly but willing teens, he RAVENED THE DEFENCELESS AND VULNERABLE – knowing he was untouchable. He was a MONSTER.

Savile is more usually spelled with two “L”s – “Saville” – but in his case, it is spelled correctly: SaVILE.

——————————————————————————————————————

There is another take on this issue, which can be found at… http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/morpheus-on-jimmy-savile-the-truth/

17th February, 2013

And now yet ANOTHER name has entered the story – “Coronation Street” actor, Michael Le Vell (real name: Turner).

It seems he became “a person of interest” to the police a couple of years ago – well BEFORE “Operation Yewtree” (see the “other take” above) – and thus seemingly has no relevance to this piece.

However, it would be naïve to believe that the DPP’s decision to REVIVE his case – after having DROPPED it two years ago – is NOT unrelated to the “new climate” which has been created, as a result of the S’Jimmy case.

Of course, Corry is no stranger to this kind of thing. Older readers of this piece will recall Peter Adamson, the gruff scouser who played “Len Fairclough” for over twenty years – until an accusation of kiddie-fiddling at his local swimming baths effectively ended his career.

He was ultimately cleared of those offences – but mud sticks. And from that point, he went steadily downhill. Already known as something of a “hell-raiser”, his alcohol consumption and brawling increased in inverse ratio to the work that came his way – until his finances dwindled in direct ratio to his health.

He died, PENNILESS, in 2002, aged 71 – having once been a household name.

Sep
26

So I saw this headline: “Crocs to be artificially inseminated” – and had a conversation in my head that went: “How do you artificially inseminate a crocodile?” “VERY BLOODY CAREFULLY!!!”

Sep
14

So the paps caught Kate with her baps out – oh, BOO-HOO!

If you’re going to join The Firm, you HAVE to know the RULES. Which are: you are now ROYAL!

QE2 and Phil The Bubble knew it SIXTY YEARS AGO – and in all that time, you have never seen THEM making tits of themselves.

Okay, QE2 misjudged the Diana thing. But let’s face it, if your son married unwisely – then got divorced – then his ex-wife got killed in a car-crash with her new boyfriend – what would YOUR response be?

Of course, there were the two issues that Diana was the birth-mother of the Numbers One and Two to the British Throne – and the British tabloid press had elevated her to goddess-like status (even though she was NOT the “People’s Princess” – she was POSH) resulting in the biggest outpouring of public grief since the death of Rudolf Valentino.

And so, despite protocol not allowing for the flying of the Royal flags at half-mast, she should have waived it and dived headlong into the public orgy of teeth-knashing.

But QE2 comes from Old Stock and it was not her way.

Likewise, when she’d had a bad year, describing it in her Christmas Speech as an “annus horribilis” wasn’t the smartest move, either. Not having learned Latin, most of the great unwashed assumed there was something wrong with her ARSE.

So – she is out of touch with the Common People. But what do you expect? It’s like how Phil puts his foot in it every time he talks about “foreigners”. But he’s an old right-wing reactionary, so again – what do you expect?

The fact is, aside from these blunders, QE2 and Phil have maintained the dignity required of their position – for SIX DECADES.

But the NEW Royal generation has a lot to LEARN.

If QE2 had been “common” – by now, she’d have been teabagged by a male stripper at a hen-do, got pie-eyed at the local British Legion and be addicted to Bingo, down at the local Palais.

But she’s NOT. And thus she has no idea about ANY of that.

And if her eventual replacements are going to MAINTAIN the dignity of Royal office, they had better start following her example.

In the good old days, Royals’ excesses were kept QUIET. But today, technology has spoiled all that. First it was the paps’ long lenses. And now today, even INDOOR activities are at risk. ALL rich people have little camera- and video-phones – and THIS medium enables them to put those images into the Public Domain in SECONDS. 

And so a Royal CAN’T wear a Nazi uniform at a fancy dress do – or get up to naked high-jinks in Vegas (for Royals, what happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas) – or get their norks out, to avoid tan-marks.

Or go shopping at Tesco – or enter a wet tee-shirt competition on a Club 18-30 holiday – or get stoned in an Amsterdam cafe – or do doughnuts in an empty car-park. Suchlike activities are fine for us PLEBS – but Royals are DENIED these small pleasures.

However, before we begin to feel TOO sorry for these people, let’s consider this: Royals fly aircraft and do activities we can only dream of – they visit all four corners of the World, enjoying luxury we can’t imagine – and meet celebrities you and I will NEVER meet.

Plus they will never want for ANYTHING. All of their lives, they will be surrounded by opulence: the best food, wine, entertainment, travel and accommodation.

They have ENORMOUS wealth and power. And all they have to do to MAINTAIN it is be COOL.

Start behaving like the REST of us – and they will BECOME like the rest of us. Which AIN’T so cool…

Sep
11

…is an issue that has had BOOKS written on it. Here is MY take…

Firstly, let us remember that without CONFLICT, there cannot be drama. However, that conflict does not have to be PHYSICAL – it can be intellectual.

But moviemakers today prefer BODY-counts to discussion. Ignoring the fact that a single bullet can END a decades-long life filled with experience, learning and social interaction in a SECOND, they present us with “action” films where villains are cut down like chess-pieces.

Human beings – with their loves, lives and souls – reduced to skittles.

But guns (with absurd sound-effects) and “splatterpunks” are sexier than talking heads.

And the carnage begins early: most video-games are of the “shoot-’em-up” variety. A waste, when the technology could be used to simulate FLIGHT – without a PLANE.

But this is where the arguments begin. Supporters of violence on TV and in movies point to the fact that countries like Japan have comics, video-games and movies that have always been FAR more violent than those found in say, America – and yet ACTUAL violence in Japan is MINIMAL, compared to The States.

They claim that violence in the media merely mirrors the violence in society, rather than CAUSING it.

They further claim that over previous centuries, when such media did not exist, violence in society was far worse.

They state that violence in the media is CATHARTIC – that it actually REDUCES violence in our society.

While those who take the opposite view claim that media violence – like exposure to explicit sexual material – DESENSITISES us to it.

And that while becoming desensitised to sex is harmless – as we quickly become REsensitised to it, when the occasion requires it – becoming desensitised to VIOLENCE is DANGEROUS.

They claim the constant barrage of violence INURES us to it.

And further, that whilst the explicit sex portrayed in porno movies is unrealistic – violent acts are all too EASY to perpetrate.

However, those with the opposite view claim that as with exposure to explicit sex, we RECOVER – that the effect of an action movie on our patterns of behaviour is only temporary. So long as no-one pisses us off during the first five minutes after we leave the cinema, everything will be fine.

Of course, censorship has always been seen as an attempt to limit both explicit sex AND violence. But the truth is far more complicated.

Pre-1970, it forced moviemakers to portray illegal and/or immoral acts as leading ultimately to DISASTER. Even COMEDY crooks could not be seen to “get away with it”.

But Hollywood still got away with a LOT. “Gilda” (a major 1946 feature) was DEPRAVED for its time. It was STEEPED in S&M. But by giving it an absurd cop-out ending, the studio managed to slide it past the censors.

However, one issue that would not pass the censors was anything they felt could be IMITATED, to the detriment of society.

A good example of THAT was the 1953 biker movie, “The Wild One” – featuring then-hot Marlon Brando. It did not get a UK certificate until 1967.

The fourteen-year OUTRIGHT BAN on the movie was caused not by any bits that could have been excised – but rather by the whole CONCEPT of the movie.

The plot of The Wild One (“What are you rebelling against, Johnny?” “Whaddaya got?”) centres around two biker gangs who meet up in a small American town and proceed to DOMINATE it.

Now in those post-war days, biker gangs were becoming a PROBLEM and while it was not quite what happened in The Wild One – the thinking was, supposing a biker gang cut the phone lines to a remote small town or village and just drove in? The place would be THEIRS.

And the thought of the potential resulting mayhem sent shivers down the backs of the British censors of the time – so they KILLED it.

But by the Sixties, the youth of the day had started buying CARS and the “Mods And Rockers” conflicts (vastly overstated by the tabloid press anyway) were a thing of the past.

Also, by then – The Wild One was an anachronism.

But violence never reduces in its effect. Forty-five years on, “Bonnie And Clyde” STILL has the power to shock – particularly the climax.

However, while violence taken casually COULD result in yet MORE violence – it can be shown to POSITIVE effect. For example, the rape scene at the beginning of “Death Wish” is repulsive – but it sets up the motivation for the central character to become a vigilante.

On the other hand, the violence at the END of “Witchfinder General” is an orgy of REVENGE.

Then again, what about the violence in cartoons?

It is all a matter of CONTEXT.

A good example of this was when the British censor handed down an “A” certificate for a film for which he simultaneously awarded an “X” certificate to its TRAILER (trailers had to be certified separately, as a trail for an “X” would often be shown in a “U” certificate programme).

The moviemakers were incensed: until the censor pointed out that while there were only a few minutes of violence in the actual movie – where good eventually triumphed – the trailer mostly featured action sequences and thus hit the audience with an onslaught of ferocity which had NO context whatsoever.

And thus it can be seen that the censor’s job is difficult. Constantly balancing the levels of violence with context and artistic merit – and an eye to the eventual audience.

Trying to gauge how realistic a movie can become – before it is likely to set off a feeble-minded member of that audience, to do something unspeakable. Almost everyone is capable of separating fiction from reality – but there is always the odd ONE…

However, it must be remembered that no censor really cares whether “gratuitous” violence makes our skin crawl – or triggers some looney.

Their job, as independent bodies, is merely to protect the industry from charges of running “disorderly houses” – not to protect our sensibilities. Or even our lives.

Finally, in this examination of the possible effects of violent fiction on the public comes the “psychological thriller” – which surely must be the most dangerous form of violent entertainment of all. Certainly it OUGHT to be the most iniquitous, because here the audience is invited to enter the twisted brain of a PERPETRATOR of violence.

In any drama, there must be a central character. And inevitably, we will come to consider them as the “sympathetic” character.

Which is unfortunate when they happen to be a MONSTER like Jack Carter, Norman Bates (Robert Bloch kills OFF Marion Crane half-way through) Hannibal Lecter (come on, were you REALLY rooting for Clarice Starling?) and the afore-mentioned Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, to name but five.

In fact, these last two are particularly monstrous because, like Albert DeSalvo, John Christie and Ted Bundy – they were REAL people.

In fiction, we can tell ourselves that the central character is like the boogey-man – but when monsters who actually EXISTED become the central characters of movies, we are on a slippery slope.

People actually MARRY individuals on Death Row. Would you want your daughter to do that?

So, in conclusion, this world is filled with REAL violence. And fiction has value, because it takes us OUT of that world. And fiction features drama. And drama needs conflict. And conflict often includes violence – which is what this world is filled with. Thus we are in a CYCLE.

Statistics show that violent people almost always come from violent backgrounds – and there is little we can do about that.

But every day, we feed violent imagery to those who are NOT infused with violence. Is this a good idea? But then, if they are NOT naturally violent, surely those images will not MAKE them violent?

And if that desensitisation effect really IS only temporary, where is the harm? Realistic drama cannot survive on a diet of fluffy bunnies, while the World is in turmoil.

But supposing it is NOT? By permitting violent imagery, are we allowing ourselves to become the CAUSE of that turmoil – rather than the CURE?

What is the answer? Damned if I know…

Sep
06

Who IS Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth?

Some call her Oloroso, after the fortified wine – which is described as “dark and nutty” in Wiki (I make NO comment).

But mostly she is known as “that bl*** bitch from the Trump shows” – having first appeared on “The Apprentice” – then “The Celebrity Apprentice” (her “celebrity” seemingly being that she had appeared on “The Apprentice” – then more than twenty other “reality” shows, including “The Ultimate Merger” – another Trump show).

The description seems apt (albeit monumentally racist) as on “The Celebrity Apprentice”, she locked horns with Piers Morgan – who pounded her into the ground like a tent-peg, resulting in him gaining popularity. Which was quite an achievement given that previously, HE had been the most hated celebrity around.

In fact his unpopularity became underscored when people cheered Jeremy Clarkson for BELTING him – since Jeremy is ALSO famous for being despised by many. All of which makes her TOP in that chain of unpopularity: Jeremy, Piers – then her.

But Trump seems to like her. Or maybe he just wants to stay on the right SIDE of her – she hinted she might try SUING him after an ickle bit of plaster fell on her in a building project, while filming her first appearance on “The Apprentice”.

And the recently departed Michael Clarke Duncan must have liked her too – he was her fiancé. But a couple of months after his series “The Finder” got cancelled, he suffered a heart attack.

Reports vary: one claims that Omarosa gave Michael CPR to keep him alive. However, it did not take – two months later, he succumbed.

Indeed, being close to Omarosa appears NOT to be good for your health. Her father was murdered when she was seven – and her brother was murdered just last year. Only Jerry Lee Lewis has a worse record – but then he is 76, while she is only 38.

So where does all this leave her? Well, she appears to be trying to transcend her career as a reality “star” (an oxymoron if ever there was one) by STUDYING.

She is now an ordained minister (then again, so am I – and I am an ATHEIST) and is currently trying to add a theological degree to her (according to Trump) PhD in communication.

But qualifications – real or imagined – only get you so far. At some point, if she cannot find a replacement for Michael Clarke Duncan, she will have to seek GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT.

The only proper job on her resumé (although according to People, she was “transferred” from it, due to disruptive behaviour) appears to be a spell with Al Gore, when he was Bill Clinton’s veep, as “Deputy Associate Director of Presidential Personnel” – which sounds dubious.

Was it SHE who fixed Bill up with Monica Lewinsky?!

At the beginning of this year, she announced that her talents would be applied to a new magazine called “Reality Weekly” (or weakly) – but said publication went down the dumper after just six months.

Of course, she could always go back to the Trump well and see if there is anything left there.

But whatever the future holds for Ms Manigault-Stallworth – I doubt it will be BORING.

picture © Glenn Francis, http://www.PacificProDigital.com

Sep
03

…which, since it involves big corporations and governments, is a saga of greed, incompetence and rank stupidity.

For those who don’t know, sildenafil citrate is the generic name for – a brand name that rhymes with Niagara. But since this historian has no desire to be SUED by a certain company whose name rhymes with None The Wiser, he’ll state right now that the following in no way relates to any real product, event or company. Okay?

This writer first heard about sildenafil citrate, when it was just ending its FDA trials. At that point, it didn’t HAVE a brand name. And since the FDA have to PUBLISH their findings, a friend got him the results off the Interweb (he didn’t have a computer in those days).

Whilst most of the report was technical, one didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know what “penile tumescence” meant. Your Humble Scribe realised this would be big (so to speak) – and waited for more news.

Over the next few months, it emerged that the price at the factory gates for these wonder-pills would be £4.75 (around $7.50) per pill – REGARDLESS of the SIZE – 25mg, 50mg and 100mg. Huh? What sense did THAT make?

It further emerged that 100mg would be too strong for most people (it’d make their eyes go funny) while 25mg would do little. However 50mg would – like the Third Bear’s Porridge – be just right.

This turned out to be the FIRST cock-up committed by those in charge of the discovery. Oh yes, let’s be clear on THAT. Rhymes with Niagara wasn’t INVENTED – it was stumbled upon by ACCIDENT, when None The Wiser were running clinical trials on what they hoped would be a drug to help sufferers from angina.

It didn’t work, but only when the test subjects proved reluctant to part with the unused pills did None The Wiser realize they might be ON to something!

Anyhay, apparently no-one at None The Wiser CONSIDERED that people MIGHT just think of CUTTING the 100mg sizes of their HIGH-priced wonder-pills in TWO. After a couple of YEARS had passed, they belatedly advised people NOT to – as it would affect the drug’s absorption rate (make it work FASTER – so?)

But by that time, they were far too late. EVERYONE was buying the 100 mg pills and cutting them – either using a sharp knife or a “pill-chopper” (sales of which had by then sky-rocketed). Has anyone ever SEEN a 50 or 25 mg pill?

Cock-up number two was with the MARKETING. Although to be fair to None The Wiser, it wasn’t entirely their fault. The thing is, people STILL think of drugs as being one of only TWO types. Those you take to cure an ILL – and those you score from a guy called Big Louie on a street-corner.

But of course, for some time now, there has been a THIRD category – “lifestyle drugs”. These can make you smarter, faster, hornier or hairier – whatever you need. But since all drugs have MANY effects, some medical supervision is useful (like, hairy-pills make you grow breasts).

And that was the problem for None The Wiser. Since there were few facilities for marketing these drugs, outside of the Interweb, they elected to sell rhymes with Niagara as a MEDICINE (the word appears FREQUENTLY on the patient information leaflet).

Which it really ISN’T. Sildenafil citrate merely reduces the BACK-FLOW of blood FROM the penis, like a cock-ring (which have been around for MILLENNIA – but of course, a pill is a lot less INVASIVE) and will NOT cause blood to flow INTO the penis – and is therefore USELESS as a cure for impotence.

It merely gives you more CONTROL, so that miaowing cat, or noisy party, or sudden realisation that you left your car-keys in the ignition – or any other distraction that causes you to lose your concentration on the job in hand – doesn’t cause you to lose your ERECTION.

So, rhymes with Niagara was just a very useful LIFESTYLE drug. But its discoverers understandably didn’t want their new wonder-drug consigned to the plethora of products available on the Interweb, which claim to make you lose pounds in days – or live forever – or become INVISIBLE.

Thus they went the medical route. But they botched it. In Britain, once this scribbler heard what the pills were going to retail for, he worked out that if the National Health Service issued them on prescription on DEMAND – it would cost them around £4 BILLION a year. A few months later, a newspaper (well – the Daily Mail) did the same sums and belatedly came to the same conclusion.

But there were still several months to go before the pills would be on sale, so both None The Wiser and the British government had plenty of time to work out a sensible solution to the problem. Like, given that the production cost of sildenafil citrate is PENNIES, reduce the price by 40% to the NHS – None The Wiser would STILL have made a PACKET – and then let the NHS issue them one pill per prescription charge. Simple – and the NHS would have made a packet too.

However, this simple answer didn’t occur to EITHER party and the whole business turned into a FIASCO. This reporter had a friendly doctor who gave him prescriptions for FREE – and he then haggled pharmacists down to £7 a pill. So £3.50 a pop, then.

But many others paid ABSURD prices for “consultations” with greedy quacks (three questions and a blood-pressure test – a first year medical student could do it in forty-five seconds) and even MORE absurd prices for the pills themselves.

Eventually “copy-cat” drugs emerged. But their manufacturers followed the precedent established by None The Wiser – called them medicines and issued pills (all sizes the same price) that were still horribly expensive, thus effectively inviting purchasers to continue cutting them.

But today, now that None The Wiser’s patents have run out in many places, LEGITIMATE, professionally-manufactured GENERICS are available. In India, the 100mg sildenafil citrate pills sell for 37 rupees each. About £0.50 (80 cents). That’s 25 PENCE (40 cents) a pop.

In Thailand, yours truly gets ’em (imported from India) from a local pharmacist for £2 ($3) each – or £1 ($1.50) a pop – no prescription required. But back in Blighty and America, people are STILL being ripped off.

And it could all have been SO different. Like with the fatuous and unwinnable War On Drugs, had a little commonsense prevailed, for the last decade, people would have been able to enjoy man’s greatest technical achievement in the field of PHARMACY the way they have those in electronics, engineering and so on – CHEAPLY and FREELY.

Instead of which, the whole enterprise has been besmirched by rip-off corporations and bedevilled by bureaucratic bullshit.

It’ll be the same with genetic research, stem-cell research…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

UPDATE! I wrote the above piece YEARS ago – but it appears little has changed since.

Recently, a bloke in Britain got busted for selling “fake” rhymes with Niagara. Except the pills in question were the Indian ones I spoke of above, which are NOT FAKE – but GENERICS. There is a WORLD of difference.

“Fake” drugs are often manufactured in dismal, unsanitary conditions and contain all SORTS of crap. Whereas generics are PROPERLY and LEGITIMATELY manufactured.

And since the Indian brand name (Kamagra) was specified – I’m surprised the company did not SUE.

I further learn that supermarkets have now joined in the selling of sildenafil citrate pills – playing the role of PHARMACISTS. They do as I described above: ask a few questions and take a blood-pressure test.

But the pills they sell are still rhymes with Niagara – at only slightly less than the original highly inflated price.

So why do they not sell GENERICS? Apparently, it is because they have not been “approved”.

Now, I’m no expert on the laws regarding pharmaceuticals – but surely, if a drug is a GENERIC of a drug that has already been approved, it enjoys the same status. Right?

Only if its quality is below par, should it have a problem – which is the case with ANY generic drug.

Then there is the issue of PRESCRIPTIONS. In Britain, there are four classes of medicinal drugs: the most potent can only be issued in a hospital, while most other drugs can be issued by a pharmacist, on production of a prescription. Then there are SLIGHTLY potent drugs which can be issued off-prescription, but only under the “supervision” of a qualified pharmacist – and finally, “soft” drugs (like cold cures) that can be sold anywhere.

I’m not including “herbal remedies” – which are a whole other thing.

And of course, since sildenafil citrate is not a “controlled” drug (i.e – ILLEGAL) one can always buy them over the Interweb. Which is where the “trafficker” got it wrong. If he had bought the Indian generics and despatched them from ABROAD, he would not have run foul of British law.

However, some of his shipments might have been intercepted in the POST.

Which brings us to a “cloudy issue” – the status of ALL LEGITIMATE imported materials.

I recall that before I escaped Britain, I used to go on an annual pilgrimage to the Algarve, in Portugal – to buy my year’s supply of CIGARETTES.

Since in Britain, cigarettes are taxed at LITERALLY A THOUSAND PERCENT – many people use the 1993 Single European Act to save themselves A GRAND a year, by going abroad to buy them.

In fact, there are MANY items where purchasing them in Europe can save you a packet – like CARS. The only limitation is you cannot resell the item(s). Although with cars, I believe there is a time limit (no-one wants to drive a car for EVER – not even a VOLVO). 

However, HMG does not like its citizens avoiding (not EVADING) tax – so harasses them at every opportunity. Like the time they introduced a THIRD Customs “gate” at airports, for those who had purchased items within Europe. An obvious attempt to intimidate those purchasers.

Although, as I understand it, they dumped the idea before it had started.

Nevertheless, as with the status of sildenafil citrate, the procedures for European “personal imports” are VAGUE, to say the least.

Like with fags, you can import up to TEN THOUSAND (the 400 is just a “guideline” – it means you won’t be HASSLED by HM Customs) from within Europe. Which is a reasonable year’s supply. That’s one case, containing fifty cartons – which is five hundred packs. Over the year, around 27 cigarettes a day.

But if you are intercepted by Customs, you are “required to prove they are solely for your own use” – so how the hell do you do THAT?

If challenged, I would have pointed out the fags were FOREIGN – and thus could not be sold “over the counter” in Blighty. Further, that they were all the same brand. And that I was a smoker. And that I had no connection with any form of “distributor”. And that I only did one trip a year (although with no stamps in my passport – Europe doesn’t bother anymore – I would have had no way of proving that).

And finally, that given “black market” ciggies cost LESS than I had PAID for them – it would hardly be worth my time.

I could then have produced a few upstanding British citizens who would have been happy to declare that to the best of their knowledge and belief, I did indeed go on an annual sabbatical to buy my fags – then smoke them, over the year.

This would probably have sufficed – the only way I could have TOTALLY PROVEN my case would have been to have had a Customs officer personally ACCOMPANY and observe me for the year – hopefully, an attractive FEMALE one (if such exists).

Actually, one almost feels SYMPATHY for HM Customs – HMG has made their job IMPOSSIBLE.

Every day, thousands of PLEBS do Channel-crossings to Calais and load up with “cheap” (not so much) booze and fags – there are hypermarkets that specially cater for them. At one point, British cigarette manufacturers used to ship their products over there – so they could be brought straight BACK and resold in Britain.

But then, HMG made them label the packs “UK tax not paid” – thus driving the trade underground.

Plus Customs were given (somewhat fascist) powers to CONFISCATE vehicles that had been used for smuggling (one wonders how THAT little ploy worked out, when said vehicles had been RENTED?)

Then eventually, LEGITIMATE personal importers began REVOLTING and started taking Customs to COURT. Several cases ensued, which Customs usually LOST – at great financial cost and embarrassment to themselves.

Furthermore, an increasing number of travellers began objecting to the harassment they received from Customs – pointing out that every time they returned from a holiday, they were made to feel like criminals, when they were doing nothing WRONG.

They also pointed out that the OTHER citizens of Europe didn’t have to go through this crap every time THEY crossed a border. Indeed, some of Europe’s borders are so “casual” – you can cross one without even NOTICING.

Only in cold, eternally-wet, miserable, over-priced BRITAIN, do people have these problems.

Which is one more reason this boy is GLAD to have escaped the damn country. Here in Thailand, fags are eighty pence a pack, sildenafil citrate costs a pound a pop (no prescription) and even in the Rainy Season – it don’t rain ALL BLOODY DAY.

No wonder Thailand is known as The Land Of Smiles…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ANOTHER UPDATE! Land Of Smiles indeed. In Britain, the regulatory body for drugs is called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). And it is they who “approve” drugs (see above) which are then listed in the British Pharmacopoeia. Thus, generics generally have the letters “BP” printed after them.

So you can still buy Nurofen and pay for the brand name – or get ibuprofen BP, which is exactly the same, for considerably LESS. This is because ibuprofen long ago went out of copyright and became available for any manufacturer to produce.

But the story with sildenafil citrate is more complicated. Different countries take varying attitudes towards None The Wiser’s patents on rhymes with Niagara.

And in Britain, while the BP does not involve itself in patent issues (only the QUALITY of drugs) sildenafil citrate BP has yet to make an appearance.

BUT NOT SO IN THAILAND!

On the 17th of next month, the Thai version of the MHRA (the GPO – that’s the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation – not the General Post Office!) will launch sildenafil citrate using the brand name Sidegra (but don’t tell Sid – maybe they should have called it Thai-agra) for only 90p ($1.30) per 100 mg tablet – and importantly, just 50p (80c) for the 50 mg size – finally negating the need for that tedious CUTTING.

This will make them HALF the amount that India’s Kamagra pills cost here (after taking the import charges into account).

But what of Britain and America?

How long before Britain releases sildenafil citrate BP? And America (who have no similar organisation) at least “approve” generics?

Given the power big corporations like None The Wiser hold over their governments, this reporter would not want to hold his breath.

But luckily for Brits and Yanks, MOST people are online now. And since their Customs cannot keep up with a FRACTION of the incoming mail, their citizens are free to surf the Interweb to find the best deal they can.

Of course, there are a lot of PIRATES hiding behind the protection of said Interweb – but Kamagra have their own website and as far as this historian is aware, they are trustworthy.

And what of None The Wiser? Well, following their greed, stupidity and arrogance (issuing 25, 50 and 100 mg sizes of their pill for the SAME PRICE, thus clearly demonstrating that the cost of production for them was MINIMAL) they initially only had problems with copy-cats or “clones” (Cialis, Levitra, et al).

But thanks to THIS medium, legitimate products from beyond their reach are now flooding the western market. And with the Wall Street gangsters having given people the need to tighten their finances, many are taking advantage of that fact.

However, it is still a tragedy that for well over a decade now, those for whom this wonder drug should have been a BOON have been denied it, either financially or completely, by stupid (and generally corrupt) governments – and the company who blundered into the discovery, back in 1995.

This punter has always managed to obtain it for the lowest price possible – from ’99 to ’05: £3.50 ($5) a pop – from ’05 until now: £1 ($1.50) – and after the 17th of next month: 50p (80c). And that is with NOTHING EVER spent on “consultations” or prescriptions.

But it is sad that millions of others have not been so lucky…

Aug
17

Aging foetus, the Right Honorable William Jefferson Hague: “We have no arrangement with the United States [WE’RE AMERICA’S BITCH – THAT’S NOT AN “ARRANGEMENT”]. This is the United Kingdom fulfilling its obligations under the Extradition Act to Sweden, a close partner in so many ways [WELL, I LOVED ABBA ANYWAY], a fellow democracy [TEE-HEE!] in the European Union.

“It is as simple as that. Therefore to us it is a simple matter of carrying out our law but, as well as being simple [I MUST STOP SAYING SIMPLE – IT’S MAKING ME SOUND BLOODY SIMPLE], it is something we must do. We absolutely must fulfil our obligations under the Extradition Act. Therefore, we are determined to do so and we remain determined to do so [SHIT! I’M DOING IT AGAIN] despite the regrettable announcement that Ecuador has made today.

“There is no threat here to storm an embassy. [ARE YOU KIDDING ME? GO TO WAR WITH ECUADOR? BENNY THE POPE WOULD HAVE A FIT]

“We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom [LET’S SEE HOW THE BASTARD LIKES CASSAVA EVERY DAMN DAY] nor is there any legal basis for us to do so.” [THAT MILF, TERRI MAY, CAN FOOT THE BILL FOR THE COPS GUARDING THE EMBASSY – HMM, I WONDER IF SHE’D…]

Aug
14

Back in the Seventies, well-heeled Londoners could reach Manhattan in just three hours. Great. And now, hypersonic planes are scheduled to do the trip in just ONE hour.

But what’s the bloody point – when it takes you THREE hours to get through “security”?

This farce is yet ANOTHER example of how, since 1973, technology has marched purposefully FORWARD – while society has gone inexorably BACKWARDS.

Aug
08

My smarter brother, Morpheus has written about a number of Movie Sillies in a piece called –  http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/morpheus-on-tv-remotes-on-tv/

In it, he rambles on about dart guns that can apparently knock a man down in two seconds – safes that can be opened in a few seconds more, by anyone with a stethoscope – and various other absurdities.

But I saw one last night that made me LAUGH OUT LOUD. It was at the end of episode eight of “Alcatraz” (“The Ames Bros”) – a series which was CANCELLED after episode thirteen.

The moment occurred when jug-eared Warden Edwin James (played by jug-eared actor, Jonny Coyne) went down to his vault and swept a tarpaulin to one side to reveal a stash of thirty-six gold bricks. He then proceeded to ONE-HANDEDLY pick a brick off the top and hold it for several seconds, while gazing upon it lovingly and gently blowing the dust off.

And he did this without a HINT of STRAIN!

Which demonstrated to anyone who knows ANYTHING about gold that the props department who made the bricks, the director of the piece (Nick Copus) and Jonny himself – did NOT.

This precious metal has a number of unique properties – one of which is its WEIGHT. Or, as Auric Goldfinger describes it, “…its divine heaviness”.

Gold bricks come in various sizes, for different applications. The most common kind are like those featured in “Goldfinger” – properly called gold bars. But the ones shown in this episode of “Alcatraz” were clearly INGOTS, which are generally larger.

And these particular ingots were MUCH larger – at a conservative estimate, at least THREE TIMES larger.

Which, given that a standard gold bar weighs in at over twenty-seven pounds (to put that into perspective: a full-weight ten-pin bowling ball is only sixteen pounds) means that had the ingot the Warden was calmly holding in his hand been REAL gold – it would have weighed over EIGHTY POUNDS.

My WIFE weighs that much!

Silly.

Jul
29

Adam was heading for the gym when it happened. Having risen at his usual 05:00, he had popped down his vitamin pills, run downstairs and breakfasted on dry toast and wheat germ biscuits, washed down with his customary grapefruit juice.

And now, as the morning sun began dragging itself over the horizon, he was jogging to The Body Shop, to give himself a workout, before heading home to change for work.

Except for Adam, it was hardly work – he was a hod-carrier for a local building firm. The money was mediocre, but the job gave him the chance to keep his finely honed physique in prime condition.

Not that he needed that body to attract girls – Adam rarely looked at a girl. He was aware of just how many STDs could be picked up, when engaging in casual sex.

And so he was saving himself, for that SPECIAL girl. However, he knew that he must soon begin to seek her out. His greying hair told its own story – the time was fast approaching.

But what he did not know was on that particular morning – so was a TRUCK.

And as he hopped off the pavement opposite the gym – it HIT him, mashing his perfect body into pulp.

Although to Adam, the impact took FAR longer to experience that he could ever have imagined. He had heard that when one’s death is imminent, one’s entire life flashes before one’s eyes. And now he realised it was true.

As his head turned and he saw the truck bearing down on him, he knew he had NO time to avoid its path. And so his life began to unreel before his very eyes.

He saw the girls he had turned down – and tried to imagine what it would have been like to have gorged himself on their firm, young flesh.

He saw the steaks, bacon, chips and other delicious-smelling food he had always denied himself.

He tried to imagine what it must be like to enjoy a fine cigar. Drink a single-malt scotch. And just SLEEP – for more than his customary six hours.

And as the massive vehicle struck him and he felt his human frame succumb to its unyielding steel – he realised he was a monumental BERK.

Jul
21

James Holmes – like Michael Ryan (Hungerford) Thomas Hamilton (Dunblane) Anders Breivik (Oslo) Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine) before him – was a QUIET young man. But then, like the others, he decided to get NOISY.

One American Right-Wing Arsehole actually suggested that had there been an armed guard at the cinema, everything would have been alright. Yes, of course – a SHOOTOUT in a crowded cinema – THAT would have helped…

Naturally, these Right-To-Bear-Arms clowns will point to the fact that in Hungerford, Dunblane and Oslo, guns are hard to come by. British, Scottish and Norwegian citizens cannot just go out, sign a piece of paper and get tooled up, ready for action – a “freedom” enjoyed by most Americans.

However, this writer is a believer in statistics (sometimes) and at least in THIS case, those speak for themselves. A look at the numbers just for School Shootings is instructive…

Since 1980, the figures for MAJOR School Shooting incidents are as follows: South America, Asia and Australia combined – twelve, all of Europe – nineteen, Canada – seven and the United States of America – ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN.

But at least those Americans had their rights. Unfortunately, those rights did not extend to the two hundred and fourteen kids they KILLED.

Jul
05

Today, I noted with sadness the passing of another one of Britain’s GIANTS of comedy.

However this piece is not about the genius and geniality of Mr Sykes (there will be PLENTY of pieces about those) but rather a curious fact about probably his most famous work – “The Plank” – which is that the 1979 remake has now lost more of its contributors than the 1967 original.

The ’67 version starred Sykes, with Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Edwards and Roy Castle. And now that Eric has joined them, that quartet is no more.

It featured Jimmy Tarbuck, Anna Carteret, John Junkin, Bill Oddie, Stratford Johns, Graham Stark, Jim Dale, Hattie Jacques, Libby Morris, Ronnie Brody, Johnny Speight and Kenny Lynch – most of whom, while being somewhat long in the tooth, are still WITH us. Tarby lives – along with Anna, Oddie, Stark, Dale, Libby and Lynchy.

But those featured in the remake have been less lucky. Like its predecessor, THAT film also starred/featured Sykes, Edwards and Lynchy – along with, this time, Arthur Lowe, Lionel Blair, Henry Cooper, Harry H. Corbett, Bernard Cribbins, Robert Dorning, Diana Dors, Charlie Drake, Liza Goddard, Deryck Guyler, Charles Hawtrey, Frankie Howerd, James Hunt, Wilfred Hyde-White, Joanna Lumley, Brian Murphy, Kate O’Mara, Anne Sidney, Reg Varney and Frank Windsor – ALL of whom have passed, with the exceptions of Blair, Cribbins, Liza, Joanna, Murphy, Kate and Ann.

Now I realize the list of survivors of both movies is, coincidentally, the SAME – lucky SEVEN.

But as can be seen from the size of the two paras, the remake’s cast was much BIGGER. NO-ONE was gonna turn down the chance of working with Mr Sykes – particularly in a remake of The Plank.

And anyway, given the remake was made TWELVE YEARS later – you would have expected more cast members to have survived.

But no. They have been DECIMATED – a number passing prematurely – mostly from cancer.

However, while the remake might have been unlucky for its cast – it is MORE than lucky for US. In this miserable AGE of remakes (and sequels, “prequels” whatever) due to Hollywood having run out of IDEAS – the remake of The Plank is well worth a look.

It should be on YouTube (I failed to upload it as it was already there) and uses all of the music hall gags worked into the original – plus the ones Eric ADDED to it – and yet MORE he added to the remake. In short, it’s a masterpiece.

And the original (same as above) is worth a look too – if only to see a rare film appearance by Tommy Cooper.

Plus do not forget Sykes’ other “silent” movies – “Rhubarb”, “It’s Your Move” (both of which also featured remakes) “Mr H. Is Late” and “The Big Freeze” (I have not SEEN that one – and it is not on YouTube – but if it is half as good as the others, it must be great).

Now that Mr Sykes has been taken from us, we will not see their like again.

Jun
24

I had heard the name – then I SAW it, on a Christmas episode of  “8 Out Of 10 Cats” – but it appeared the other panelists had no more clue than I.

It spoke – or rather, whittered – in an Irish accent.

It had two things that resembled heads – but with a cornfield where the hair would usually have been.

It was dressed in a harlequin costume.

And according to Wiki, it came sixth in a talent contest …and is now worth four and a half MILLION quid.

Verily, as it says at the top of this column – The Absurd IS Now Commonplace…

Jun
12

These days, you have to be SO careful when talking of the qualities that make us who we are. It is fine when one talks about individuals – but try talking about the characteristics of an entire RACE and you are immediately likened to Hitler. Case in point…

I recently slipped the words, “Thai women make farang [Western] women look like men” into a piece on an ex-pat website – and as expected, it was immediately picked up! One guy even claimed I could not “get” a good-looking woman back in the UK.

I responded with the following:

“These days, if you highlight a genetic quality in a race you immediately get branded a Nazi and a racist. But the simple fact is that different races DO possess different qualities. Of course, everybody is an individual – and no person is “better” than any other, based on race or anything else.

“It is simply a fact that ON AVERAGE, Korean kids outperform their American counterparts, West Africans can run the pants off European Men – and Thai women are more beautiful than Western women.

“I am reminded of the story of how in Heaven, the French are the chefs, the Italians are the lovers, the British are the police, the Germans are the mechanics and the Swiss make sure everything runs on time – whereas in Hell, The British are the chefs, the Swiss are the lovers, the Germans are the police, the French are the mechanics and the Italians try to make everything run on time.

“Oh and for the record, my last girlfriend in the UK – before I escaped here – was 19 and by UK standards, GORGEOUS.” I could also have mentioned she was black – but not being a racist, I had forgotten that detail.

Racism is about HATE – while the identification of stereotypical qualities is mere commonsense. We ALL have them – and they are not SOLELY based on our race. They also include our sex, sexual orientation, age, IQ, socio-economic background (what used to be called “class”) – and our tastes, hobbies, habits and interests. Even the job we do. These things and more DEFINE who we ARE.

And an understanding of these qualities helps promote the understanding of our fellow Earth-inhabitants.

Which might one day lead to World Peace. Now, is THAT hate?

Jun
11

The singular of “lice” is “louse” – and the singular of “mice” is “mouse”.

And the word “dice” too is PLURAL. However, its singular is not “douse” – rather, it is “die” – which makes NO damn sense at all.

I realise the word “douse” is already “taken” – as in: to put out a fire.

But so too is “die” – as in: expire.

So where does this anomaly originate? Anyone?

May
27

In Britain, Russell T. Davies (“Doctor Who”, “Torchwood”) has a gay agenda.

In America, Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”, “The Newsroom”) has a liberal agenda.

Agendas are GOOD – they give writers PASSION.

That’s it.

Over and out.

May
14

…appears to be the Christians’ last desperate effort to try to win over the Agnostics. But it is deeply flawed.

Put baldly, “God Of The Gaps” is the belief that where there are gaps in scientific knowledge – there lies God.

However, it just does not fly. Of COURSE there are gaps in scientific knowledge. Many questions are unanswered – but that does not mean that they are unanswerABLE.

I have knowledge of Ipswich, Felixstowe and Woodbridge – but know nothing of Saxmundham. This is not because the town only appears every one hundred years (see Brigadoon) – rather, I have simply never BEEN there.

People need to COMMIT to a belief system. Either you believe in myths, religions and superstitions – or you believe in SCIENCE. You cannot have BOTH.

And to try to squeeze a religion into the GAPS in scientific knowledge is folly. The answers are THERE – we just have not FOUND them yet.

F’rinstance, it is now theorised that evolution happens quite quickly, in cosmic terms. Like, a species may exist relatively unchanged for tens of millions of years. But then, due to a major event – a tsunami, an earthquake, asteroid strike or massive volcanic eruption – the conditions for that animal may change.

When that occurs, it and other animals close to it in the food chain will be forced to adapt to the new conditions. Thus Natural Selection will come into play – and a species might evolve RADICALLY in just a few generations. Perhaps a mere century.

And if one does the maths, it doesn’t take long to realize that the number of “transitional” skeletons around will be one in a MILLION of those for the pre- and post-transitional variants.

Therefore, if only a few DOZEN examples of an ancient species have been dug up – the chances one of them was a tranny is infinitesimally tiny. But that does not mean they are not DOWN there. We have just not been lucky yet. And until we are, there will be a GAP in scientific knowledge.

So forget about trying to plug up the gaps in scientific knowledge with a DEITY – just keep on digging!

May
13

What do you get if you cross Big Ben, Fort Knox and the Leaning Tower of Pisa? The time, the wherewithal and the inclination. So goes the legend.

However, THIS writer has NONE of those three. So the following must be taken as a blueprint ONLY – for the Best News Service in the World.

The People’s News would do what other news services only pay lip service to – USE the New Technology. Out there, many now have the means to capture and send verbal reports, stills – even VIDEO of news.

But where can they send it? CNN and the like ASK for it – but almost never USE it. Thus most of it ends up on YouTube.

But YouTube is NOT a news service – so the result is scattergun, to say the least.

MY news service would USE the People’s material. Behind the three reporters on the desk would be the “Newsroom” – a bank of editors who, twenty-four-seven, would receive people’s reports. Seated at computers, they would ring back contributors, then edit their material for transmission.

Some material would still come from the wire services, stringers and even, when The People’s News started to make MONEY – professional reporters.

But the service would NEVER forget where it came from – and at least 50% of the output would continue to originate from The People.

The rest of the service would be very different from the mainstream media too.

The three reporters would shift one to the right, during the ad break, before every top-of-the-hour. A new guy would appear on the left seat – while the guy on the right would have gone home.

Thus at any given time, the guy on the left would be fresh, having been gathering intel from the Newsroom for the last couple of hours, while the guy in the middle would be the Anchor, having been on the desk for at least an hour – and the guy on the right would be able to refer back to earlier material, having been there the longest.

And what of those guys? Well, they would be able to comment on the news, provided said content was free from political bias. What they would NOT be permitted to do would be make a series of inane jokes and small talk – while grinning like idiots. Any jokes would have to be FUNNY.

So, what of the news itself? Well, it would be PURE news.

No weather reports – only the CURRENT state of the weather, if it was extreme.

No SPORT – sport is only news if a stand collapses.

And no FEATURES – there are plenty of other channels for those.

The top-of-the-hour would feature the main stories, for around five minutes – then more in-depth reporting on those stories, for about twenty minutes more.

However, unlike the other services, the remaining half hour would be dedicated to the SMALL stories. THOUSANDS of newsworthy events occur each day that receive scant or NO attention from the World news services. But on The People’s News, they would receive their due.

Of course if a BIG story broke, it would override all other concerns – but only while something was actually HAPPENING. Too often, news services get stuck on a “breaking story” that is now BROKEN.

And finally – graphics. One of the banes of modern news services is their LOVE of these sillies. This leads to a third of the picture area being OBSCURED by them. The graphics are there to tell us what is happening – but if they were scaled down, we would be able to SEE what was happening.

Thus on The people’s News, there would only be two small, constant graphics. The logo, top right – and a banner bottom left with just the source and location of the story running at that moment. And both would have SMALL, SKINNY lettering – in white on black – with NO BACKING.

Additionally, when a People’s News exclusive report was running, there would be a diagonal ribbon across the bottom right of the picture, upon which “The People’s News” would scroll. Like the logo and info banner, this would be small and skinny.

Services that filched TPN’s material could pixelize the ribbon, but its shape and position would give away the source.

Every report that came in from The People would be considered, but unconfirmed ones would be clearly DESCRIBED as such, to guarantee spoofs would reflect badly on the perpetrator – not TPN.

And around every bottom-of-the-hour, a warning would be broadcast telling would-be contributors NOT to take risks (either to themselves, or putting others at risk) or break any laws, while obtaining their material.

Sooner or later, someone WOULD get killed, trying to obtain material for TPN – but then, that is the risk ANY reporter takes. Around 50 to 100 professional journalists get killed every year – it comes with the territory.

But at least they would have died FOR something. To try to bring Truth to the World.

The People’s News would be the World’s only current SERIOUS news channel. The news IS serious – and would be treated with the reverence it deserves. Not as an excuse for a mediocre party.

With the New Technology a reality, the time for this service is already overdue. If someone reads this who HAS the means to introduce it – do so with my blessing. Just remember to give me one percent off the top…

May
03

…were as follows…

“Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” – Cher

“Boom Bang-A-Bang” – Lulu

“In The Air Tonight” – Phil Collins

“Killing An Arab” – The Cure

“Light My Fire” – José Feliciano

“Sailing” – Rod Stewart

“Six Months In A Leaky Boat” – Split Enz

“Walk Like An Egyptian” – The Bangles

Perhaps it’s just me, but I get the distinct impression that the puke who was told to go through the Beeb’s catalogue and ban anything that could be contentious – was taking the PISS!

Apr
29

penny jar

There are many variations on this, but the FULL, CORRECT legend goes: “If you put a penny in a jar every time you make love during the first THREE YEARS of a sexual relationship – then REMOVE one every time, AFTER that point – no matter HOW long the relationship lasts, the jar will NEVER empty.”

And in this writer’s experience, this is certainly true of his latest (and hopefully, last) relationship.

Said relationship is now in its eleventh year. At the end of the first three years, the sum in the jar would have reached around £15.65 and another five years down the line, it would have reduced by £12.53 (to save you doing the maths – that’s 2,818 times) leaving £3.12 in the (theoretical) jar.

Thus another 312 times would have dispelled the legend – at least for THIS historian.

However, this is where it gets tricky. You see, this chronicler has slowed DOWN a lot, during the last couple of years.

The thing is, he had quite a high old time of it, during his long life. His current wife (number three and last) was not his first relationship. In fact, she was not even his hundred-and-first. Before her, (literally) came around one hundred and FIVE ladies – varying from ecstatic one-night-stand couplings, through week- month- year- and several year-long relationships – and two earlier wives.

And he has no IDEA how many bonks THEY represent.

Plus he was nearly forty-nine when his current relationship began. Thus many would say that since the 2,818 bonks he subjected his current wife to, in just eight years, would statistically be enjoyed over a THIRTY-YEAR period – he should be happy with that.

But even though he is now almost sixty and largely BURNED OUT – he is not done quite yet. Those last 310 bonks – and a dispellation (yet another of his made-up words) of that LEGEND – beckon.

Therefore, given he (on paper, at least) has another twenty years In This Place – he intends to crack on regardless.

Now where did he put that sildenafil citrate…?

—————————————————————–

There is actually a very different piece that could have been written here. Except that the question of how long a sexual relationship LASTS is one which even the mighty Interweb cannot answer.

Try Google – all you will get is how long the ACT lasts.

This author loves his wife and still finds her sexually attractive. But there comes a point where, after 2,820 bonks – it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep the arousal going. Plus, at nearly sixty…

It seems like those who were less FREQUENT than we were may still bonk after DECADES of marriage. While others phase sex out, but still remain (like us) warm and cuddly towards each other.

Of course, there are thousands of books which recommend couples who are similarly depleted to begin indulging in practices designed to “spice up” their relationship. Clothes, toys, doing it in risky places – even involving other people.

Trouble is, none of these techniques work for any length of time – and some can be DISASTROUS!

Overall, this problem seems to be The Great Lie. Something many people have personal experience of – but no-one wants to TALK about. Even on the Interweb.

Perhaps this piece will stimulate discussion. Or perhaps not…

Apr
04

Back in the Sixties, the Guinness Book Of Records – then the definitive and comprehensive authority on all records – stated that the BBC had the biggest record collection in the World, being some 700,000 strong.

These days, the GBR is a shadow of its former self, having been SOLD by Guinness and since then, passed through various hands, until now all it has is lots of pictures – and details of how many gobstoppers some dick-head was able to get into his big mouth, before losing consciousness.

Thus this writer was unable to discover who currently holds the record record (sic). According to one report: in 1992, Auntie’s collection had grown to “over a million” – but after that, there is nothing. Digital appears to have killed off the whole concept of “records”.

Meanwhile, a bloke in Pittsburgh by the name of Paul Mawhinney had a climate-controlled warehouse containing over THREE million records. He ran a record business for decades and kept one copy of every record that came through his store.

But it proved to be something of an albatross around his neck. He has been trying to OFFLOAD the collection for years.

First, he sold it to a guy for 28 million bucks – but the dot-com bubble-burst screwed THAT up, so in desperation he put it onto Ebay, where he got a bid of just three million.

But then, to add insult to injury, the bidder turned out to be a crook and/or loony and/or time-waster and/or any combination of the afore-mentioned – and so that TOO went tits-up.

So he put it back onto Ebay – but then the LATEST financial crash happened.

Currently, Mr Mawhinney’s health is deteriorating, so plans are afoot to unload the whole thing into various museums and/or sound libraries.

I FEEL for Mawhinney. I too have a big record, audio- and video-tape and disk collection (although at barely 5,000, it is hardly in the same league as Auntie’s or Paul’s) and am now well-stricken in years – so a while back, I began to worry about what would happen to it when I joined my ancestors.

My solution – along with OTHER collectors – was to upload the gems onto YouTube (while doing my best to dodge their arbitrary, erratic, outdated and grossly unfair “strike” system). It took me nearly TWO YEARS to complete the project – but to date, my uploads have received around 30 MILLION hits (presently 100,000-odd a day).

So even if YouTube deletes my accounts (thus depriving themselves of SIGNIFICANT revenue) or some moronic hacker screws them up – or YouTube’s cleaner pulls the plug on the mainframe, to plug their hoover in – thirty million people have ALREADY hit my stuff. And no-one can take THAT away from me.

Therefore, my collection is now just so much plastic, as far as I am concerned. The value of records/tapes/disks is tough enough to realize when they are new – but a third of my stuff is second-hand – and another third self-recorded. AND it is located in Thailand.

Thus, unloading it before I pegged out could have ended up giving me even more headaches than Mr Mawhinney experienced.

Of course, size isn’t everything. While Paul’s collection may be three times the size of Auntie’s – the bulk of its content is AMERICAN.

Whereas the BBC has a copy of EVERY record EVER RELEASED in BRITAIN – or damn near close to it. And that includes some which she has NEVER AIRED (he typed – FINALLY getting around to the NUB of this piece).

Oh yes, while Auntie POSSESSES every record released in Britain, there are a number of “red-flagged” ones, which indicates they may NOT be aired.

Of course, she still BOUGHT them, since she could not tell what the future held – while something might not be acceptable at the time of its release, in later years attitudes might change.

And those red-flagged discs include some strange choices…

Chuck Berry’s 70s novelty hit “My Ding-A-Ling” was widely banned at the time – and in some places, still is. But (possibly to IRRITATE the self-appointed defender of public morality, Mrs Mary Shi… sorry, WHITEhouse) Auntie decided it was OKAY.

She also allowed Lena Horne’s “New Fangled Tango” to be aired – even on kids’ radio – despite its ambiguous lyric (although even after all these years, this author STILL does not know whether it is dodgy or not). One assumes Auntie figured someone with the CLASS of Ms Horne would NEVER STOOP to singing anything risqué.

Then again, many other records HAVE received red flags…

“Bellylick” (just on the TITLE) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws2Hwb2KLZ8 – EVERYTHING by “Judge Dread” – ALL versions of “Louis, Louis” (even ones where the – largely innocuous – lyrics are unintelligible) – and anything by “Doc Cox” – like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYwlbANUoxg

ALL of the above can (usually) be found on YouTube – the two URLs are leads to a couple of MINE – but hold off until you have read the rest of THIS, okay? The bit at the end, you will NOT want to miss.

Where was I? Oh, yes – Auntie’s most EMBARRASSING red-flaggers were ones which, DESPITE them having no BBC air-play, STILL reached Number One in the Pop record charts (for younger readers, Pop record charts were things compiled in the days when there was still POP).

The thing was – the BBC had a number of radio and TV shows that did a run-down (or rather, run-UP) of the week’s Top Twenty. And when the presenter reached Number One – it was hard to look/sound cool while announcing they could not PLAY it.

A prime example was Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgyAgsDo4sw  (another of my uploads). In order to HEAD OFF another fiasco, Auntie went cap in hand to FGTH’s management and asked them to issue a statement that the song’s lyrics had nothing to do with sex – then they could play it.

Said management told her to take a HIKE. They said, “Relax will be Number One next week WITH OR WITHOUT your airplay” – and of course, they were right.

But now Pop is dead. And while Auntie might trim the excesses of Lady Gaga, the naughtiness that pervaded the era of Pop has gone with it.

Even the BEATLES had a lyric that ran, “She’s a prick-teaser” – from “Day Tripper” – but were wise enough to publish “BIG teaser” as the OFFICIAL lyric (if you listen closely, you can hear Paul sing “big” and John – of course – sing “prick”).

In My Day, we had such fun watching The System try to deal with Pop promoter’s “naughty bits” – but now, all you have to do is put a “Parental Guidance…” sticker on the cover and the kids will buy (or download) the material without ever HEARING it on the RADIO (what’s radio, Dad?)

Before closing this piece, I MUST include a DESCRIPTION I found on Ebay (while researching Paul Mawhinney’s story) of a record collection that a British Rockabilly DJ was trying to sell. Dammit, he’s a better writer than I AM!

Enjoy…

“You are bidding on a collection of 50 (approx) 12” singles and LPs of crap music.

My sister found these in her attic last weekend, where they has been sat gathering dust for the last couple of decades. They used to belong to her ex-husband, who is one of the biggest arseholes ever to draw breath. I never liked the wanker, and based my initial antipathy towards him on his taste in music. Not to put too fine a point on it, he was that most contemptible form of pond life, a Jazz Funker.

This meant that as well as a sh*t taste in music, he had appalling taste in clothes too. Pringle jumpers, pleated Farrahs, shoes that looked like pasties, white socks, revolting shirts and a comical wedge-cut hairdon’t. Add to this 80s fashion horror-show a Ford Capri and Super Mario-style moustache underlining his bulbous nose, and you get an object lesson in twatdom. No wonder Northern Soul fans (and everyone else) treated the Jazz Funk fans with sneering contempt.

I couldn’t comprehend what on earth my usually sensible sister could possibly see in the pillock. In vain I pleaded with her to send him packing. My argument that his hankering for Earth Wind & Fire records and attendance at soul weekenders made him a poor choice of mate was waved away as the rantings of a callow youth. She felt my reasoning was unsound.

Reader, she married him.

He made her life miserable for a few years with his moping, moody belligerence (and playing horrendous records like these). He told her lies and generally behaved like a platinum c*nt. Then he dumped her for his mistress when my sister was four months pregnant.

It’s now nearly twenty years later and I would still like to take a meat tenderiser to his face. But his most horrendous crime, worse than wiring up my granny’s shower so it was electrically live, worse even than his infidelity or the awful way he treated my sister, was the fact that he actually liked the abomination known as Jazz Funk. Here is the evidence. What a bastard.

Well, I suppose I’d better tell you what’s for sale, though why you would actually want to own this dreck is beyond me. It’s basically music for people who have a deep-seated hatred of music and want to inflict their pain on the world. But here goes nothing.

[he lists the singles]

I mean, Shakatak for f*cks sake. What a pr*ck. And surely he must have realised that buying anything by Shalamar would open him up to ridicule. Even those bands’ mothers couldn’t bear to listen to that stuff. I know I couldn’t. None of this is play graded, only visually. I just could not bring myself to dirty my stylus with this bollocks.

Boring stuff I grade conservatively, particularly when I don’t like the records. Don’t ask me to split this lot. You buy it, you buy all of it and pay the shipping. I’m not keeping it in my house any longer than strictly necessary. For the same reason, no returns. I don’t want it back.

Shipping in UK is £15 because the weight is approx 10kg. I’m willing to ship overseas at cost, but it’s likely to be expensive (maybe £45 in Europe) and frankly this crap isn’t worth the stamps. If you want to collect from Croydon, that’s OK but I will look at you with a contemptuous sneer as you stand in my doorway, proving by your purchase that you are tone deaf and tasteless.

Good luck, and God help you for liking this drivel.

Jude Calvert-Toulmin.”

Ha-haaaar! Classic.

Mar
24

A news item which causes one to roll on the floor laughing is rare these days – or any other days, for that matter. No news is (ever) good news.

But just once in a while…

Yesterday, Kazakhstan’s shooting team won Gold at an event held in Kuwait. But when winner Maria Dmitrienko stepped onto the podium, the national anthem played was NOT that of Kazakhstan.

In fact, it was not even a REAL ANTHEM. It was the one featured in Sasha Baron Cohen’s mockumentary film “Borat” (full title – Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan”).

The lyrics of the anthem (written by Sasha) are as follows…

“Kazakhstan greatest country in the world. All other countries are run by little girls. Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium. Other countries have inferior potassium.

“Kazakhstan home of Tinshein swimming pool. It’s length thirty meter and width six meter. Filtration system a marvel to behold. It remove 80 percent of human solid waste.

“Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan you very nice place. From Plains of Tarashek to Northern fence of Jewtown. Kazakhstan friend of all except Uzbekistan. They very nosey people with bone in their brain.

“Kazakhstan industry best in world. We invented toffee and trouser belt. Kazakhstan’s prostitutes cleanest in the region. Except of course for Turkmenistan’s.

“Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan you very nice place. From Plains of Tarashek to Norther fence of Jewtown. Come grasp the mighty penis of our leader. From junction with the testes to tip of its face!”

Needless to say, “Borat” is banned in Kazakhstan. But it is also banned in Kuwait – which begs the question of just where the hell they OBTAINED the recording in the first place??!

There will be tears before bedtime for someone…

Mar
16

…was the fourth and LAST of the “Airport” franchise, made just before “Airplane!” finished off the genre (Hollywood invariably spoofs a genre to complete it). And it was RISIBLE.

George Kennedy’s character, Joe Patroni was DEMOTED from a chief engineer to a lowly pilot – and the film contained more cockups and impracticalities than you could shake a traffic paddle at. For a list of twenty-one of them, checkout “goofs” for the film, on IMDb.

After early audiences fell about laughing, the production company hastily re-advertised the film as a COMEDY – but it was not funny enough for that, either.

Despite the success of the previous Airport outings, the film was not released in the UK for a year – thus forcing it to be retitled from “Airport ’79” to “Airport ’80”.

And when it eventually aired on television, around twenty minutes of footage deleted from the theatrical release was restored, in a vain attempt to “flesh out” the film.

But the final degradation was the Concorde used for the film was the very same one that eventually CRASHED outside Paris, killing all on board – and several more on the ground – thus effectively killing off the whole fleet. And supersonic air travel, to boot.

Mar
14

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and… Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten? Nigel Tufnel: Exactly. Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder? Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where? Marty DiBergi: I don’t know. Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere – exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven. Nigel Tufnel: Eleven – exactly. One louder. Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder? Nigel Tufnel: [long pause] These go to eleven.”

I will assume you are familiar with this exchange from Christopher Guest’s improvised cult movie, “This Is Spinal Tap” – if not, you won’t be interested in the rest of this piece!

But if you are still with me, Spinal Tap was made twenty-eight years ago and has been popular for most of that time. And yet, the idea of “volume 11” has only recently become a THING.

It started about two years ago – I heard someone being interviewed and they said they had put (such-and-such a tape) into their car stereo and pushed the volume to eleven. The remark was just a throwaway one – and I chuckled at the reference to Spinal Tap.

However, since then, I have heard at least half a dozen other people say much the same thing.

And more recently, I noticed that even the BBC have gotten into this by putting “IIIIIIIIIIII 11″ as the volume scale under all of their online players. Including on their NEWS website – which is supposed to be SERIOUS, for chrissakes!!!

Anyhoo, speaking as a retired electronics engineer, I thought it was time this joke was EXPLAINED – just in case there are some people who BELIEVE it (in the early days, there were some who thought Spinal Tap was a REAL rockumentary – including a few rock stars!)

Okay, here it is… The volume knob on ANY rock musician’s amp is connected to a potentiometer (variable resistor) which is a part of the circuitry in the front stage of said amp.

The POWER (in effect, volume) of the amp is a product of its power supply, output transistors or valves (U.S. – vacuum tubes) or both (if it is a “hybrid”) – and if the final stage involves valves, its output transformer.

The detailing on the fascia – or knobs – can be “low – med – high” or “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 (and even 11!)” or “quiet – loud – freakin’ awesome!” – or anything you damn well LIKE! It will not make ANY DIFFERENCE!!

Just four feet away from where I am typing this right now – is the amp I use to play records, in my den. Like the one featured in the movie – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuzpsO4ErOQ – it is a classic British Marshall amp (for the record, a JTM45 MK II) and I am here to tell you – IT ONLY GOES UP TO TEN!!!

Mar
07

Of the following, which is the odd one out?

Napoleon Bonaparte, Frédéric Chopin, James Stewart, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Alexander The Great, Mother Teresa, Arnold Palmer, Federico Fellini, Benazir Bhutto, Marilyn Monroe, Antonio Carlos Jobim, John Wayne, Aristotle, Franz Liszt, George Best, Igor Sikorsky, Ronald Reagan, Pierre Trudeau, Bob Hope, Guiseppe Verdi, John Lennon, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci and Robin Hood.

The answer? Of all the above people, only Marilyn Monroe does not have an airport named after her. Come on someone – it is about time…

Feb
09

Twain said, “Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.”

My most embarrassing moment occurred one lazy, Sunday afternoon, when I was about twenty. I was alone in West London (on my way to somewhere or other) and found myself walking down the steps to Gloucester Road Underground station.

For this tale to mean anything, you have to understand the geography. Gloucester Road is a Victorian cut-and-cover station.

Today, it looks like this…

…but FORTY YEARS AGO, it was SPARTAN – and on that day, CROWDED.

It being a Sunday, instead of a train popping along every couple of minutes – you had to wait more like TWENTY. And from the looks of things, a train was about due on BOTH SIDES.

As I wandered along the platform, my eyes rested on a chocolate vending machine, standing against the wall. I realised I was hungry, so checked my change. I had ONE ten pence coin.

At that moment, I heard the sound of an approaching train – coming to MY side. So hurriedly, I put the coin in the slot.

It fell straight through to the coin return tray.

Behind me, the train burst into the station.

I fumbled for the coin and went to re-insert it.

The train slowed and stopped.

I pushed the coin back into the slot. This time, it held.

The train doors opened.

I YANKED on the tray containing my desired delicacy. It refused to open. At this point, I had a decision to make – give up and jump into the train – or continue to attempt to obtain that for which I had paid.

I was HUNGRY. This machine had taken my MONEY. I wanted my CHOKKY. I yanked again.

The train doors closed and the train began to slide away.

I yanked HARDER.

The train was now sweeping past.

I pressed the coin return button and checked the coin return tray – nothing.

The train was gone.

I BASHED the coin return button. Still nothing. I returned to yanking on the tray with MY chocolate in it – then all the OTHER trays. STILL nothing. The machine LAUGHED at me.

It had taken my MONEY, given me NOTHING – and now I would have to wait TWENTY MINUTES for the next train.

So I KICKED it. Then I kicked it AGAIN. And then I kicked it SEVERAL TIMES MORE. Being constructed from sheet metal, the noise it made was COLOSSAL. But then I noticed that it carried the scars from having been kicked many times before. It occurred that others had been down this road – perhaps many. And now my FOOT was beginning to hurt.

I realised that adding an injured foot to my troubles would not help matters and so, finally admitting DEFEAT to the infernal machine, turned to sit down on an adjacent seat.

It was then that it suddenly dawned on me that while my platform was now deserted – the FIVE HUNDRED-ODD people on the opposite platform were STILL THERE.

And they had NOTHING to do – other than stare at the bloke on the platform facing them, kicking the crap out of a vending machine.

I stood there, watching a THOUSAND eyes send my image to five hundred minds – all of which shared a single thought…

VANDAL.

No chokky, no money, a twenty-minute wait – and now I had to SIT there, confronting a sea of humanity who were examining me – and finding me SADLY WANTING.

THAT was the most embarrassing moment of my life.

It would be another five HUMILIATING minutes before the train arrived to take my accusers away.

Naturally, had it happened today – things would have been different. I would have faced the throng opposite and done a ten-second soft-shoe-shuffle, followed by a Shakespearian bow. I might even have elicited a round of applause.

You see, four decades of LIFE have since passed before me, during which I have observed that EVERYONE is at LEAST as big a prat as I.

So these days, I would have to do something SPECTACULARLY stupid, to justify feeling even a PANG of embarrassment over anything I could do.

Just consider John Boehner (pronounced boner, of course) or Rick Perry – or the undisputed KING of the field – George Wan… sorry, WaLker Bush.

I’m an AMATEUR.

Jan
30

Sometimes, something just makes NO sense.

Britain is currently helmed by David Cameron and his bitch… I mean, glamorous assistant, Cleggy. Two men who are SO scrubbed, they are known in that country as Pinky And Perky.

Now for non-Brits, it should be explained that the ORIGINAL Pinky And Perky were two pig puppets who sang covers of Pop hits, from the late Fifties to the early Sixties.

They were voiced by vocalists who sang to backing tracks played at half-speed – then the tracks were played at normal speed, thus speeding up the vocal tracks to double-speed.

We were easily pleased in those days – incredibly, they even sold RECORDS.

And even MORE incredibly, they appeared on America’s Ed Sullivan Show – where they were seen by a man called Ross Bagdasarian, a producer of novelty records. Down to his last two hundred bucks, he invested a hundred and ninety of them in a tape recorder.

Tape speeds traditionally vary in doubles, so it was easy for Ross to copy the technique used by the makers of the Pinky And Perky records – and thus was born Alvin And The Chipmunks.

Bagdasarian himself played the exasperated manager of the gang of three chipmunks, on a series of records which were released in America – and eventually, the World. Including in Britain, where they were played incessantly on children’s radio.

Which is where the story SHOULD have ENDED. However, through TV cartoon series and comic books, Alvin And The Chipmunks prevailed – BARELY.

And in 2007, a MOVIE got made.

But this is where it gets WEIRD. The thing is, movies are OFTEN made for small children (both Alvin And The Chipmunks AND Pinky And Perky’s demographic is five-year-olds) but to get them into CINEMAS, the films have to appeal to their PARENTS.

Yet Alvin And The Chipmunks could only REALLY have appealed to their GRAND-parents.

And who the hell trusts their aged parents to take their kids to the movies? Letting them baby-sit in your HOUSE is one thing – but posting them off to the MOVIES with your offspring? Ridiculous.

If I had been a producer in 2006 and someone had pitched ME the concept of a live-action/computer-animation big-budget feature of Alvin And The Chipmunks – I would have given them the bum’s rush.

Yet the damn thing made a PROFIT. Budgeted at $60M, it grossed over $200M in The States – and nearly as much again, abroad.

Meaning it netted around THREE TIMES its outlay.

Not surprisingly, a sequel (or “Squeakquel”) quickly followed – it did even slightly BETTER than its predecessor.

Thus a third installment is just finishing its release. This time, the box office is slightly down – but it has still made ALMOST as much. So given Hollywood’s current malaise, a FOURTH installment is already in the pipeline.

Bonkers. I mean – who on earth GOES to these things? Are people ACTUALLY sending their kids off to the multiplex with their old Mums and Dads? Has the World gone completely MAD?

Jan
22

…because he was elected Democratically, that’s how.

The very WORD is an anathema to the members of the GOP.

Their sworn duty is to squeeze every cent they can from the POOR and give it to the obscenely RICH – which flies in the face of Democracy, given the MAJORITY of people ARE poor.

So, since in America the voting system ensures ONE vote for EACH person, regardless of sex, colour or income – how does such a party EVER manage to attain power?

The fault, ironically, lies with the voting system – which is DEMOCRATIC.

This gives the Power To The People – but unfortunately, The People are idiots.

The story is the same on both sides of The Pond. There are just TWO political parties (in Britain, the parties have managed to exclude any others by spending the last ninety years redrawing boundaries to favour themselves – thus two attempts at establishing a viable alternative party have fallen in the paddock).

In theory, one is left-wing, the other right. But during the last thirty years, Britain has adopted the AMERICAN system, where one is centre-right and the other, EXTREME right.

Socialism is now a dirty word in Britain – as Liberalism is, in the States.

Thus the choice is between a bunch of moderate morons who continually screw up – and a bunch of ignorant, sleazy, money-grabbing MFs who APPEAR to know what they are doing. But as the last three years have demonstrated – they DON’T.

So how DO the extreme right manage to get elected in the FIRST place? Well, after any long period in power, the centre-right can be guaranteed to make a dog’s breakfast of things – it’s what they DO.

At which point, along comes the extreme right party – and they promise that THIS time, they will NOT screw the poor and favour the rich. This time, things will be DIFFERENT.

And like the battered housewife whose husband promises the same thing – the battered public decide they will give them one last chance. This gives the extreme right another five years (four, in America) to asset-strip the country and further reduce public services.

After which, the public get fed up with their lords and masters taking the PISS – and vote the centre-right back in again.

This observer has witnessed this cycle all his life – but now, there is a difference. The extreme right has gone TOO FAR.

Where before, they managed to balance the books – albeit at the cost of jobs, services and the PLANET – they have monumentally FAILED at even managing THAT.

Enter, in America, the “alternatives” – the Tea Party and the “Occupy” Movement.

The problem is neither is VIABLE. The Tea Party is just another bunch of right-wing arseholes – but with the added bonus that they are completely CLUELESS – and the Occupiers are well-intentioned but unfocused.

Both lack leadership and direction. They know their country is f**ked up – but have no plan for how to unf**k it.

Britain is currently ruled by Pinky and Perky. An uneasy coalition of the afore-mentioned alternative party (who are now a spent force) and the latest edition of the extreme right. But at least Pinky – David Cameron – has POWER.

His opposite number, Stateside, has NONE. Obama cannot even SMOKE in his own OFFICE.

He is a nice guy (not a useful quality, for any POTUS) and has bent over backwards to appease the extreme right. He began using this ploy before he even gained office, in his debates with McCain. And McCain SHOWED him how ineffective it would be against the extreme right – even back then.

But Obama’s message was HOPE – and thus he continued to use the same technique once in government. And it has gotten him – and his country – NOWHERE.

The GOP are all about STIFLING hope – if it means the hopes and aspirations of the masses. Their only interest lies with the RICH.

So what can a poor boy DO?

Well – in France, in the last decade of the eighteenth century, they had the right idea. It involved tumbrils and guillotines.

However, the rich and powerful are far too clever to allow this radical, but simple solution to emerge. We live in an age where groups of ANY size are infiltrated – including their electronic communications – by the minions of the aforementioned lords and masters.

Which leaves us – nowhere.

Oh sure, we can make our voices heard. That is one of the quoted advantages of living in a Democracy – but it is ACTUALLY a DISADVANTAGE.

As the Arab Spring demonstrated – in countries where free speech is stifled, its people have to be CLEVER. If they want to effect change and get out from under government repression and corruption, they need to organise QUIETLY.

Of course, the electronic SOCIAL NETWORKS took those primitive governments by surprise. But Western governments are more savvy. Their spies are deeply entrenched in the new media.

Thus, people wishing to effect a WESTERN Spring will need to be even MORE clever.

Lotsa luck, guys…

Jan
12

Global warming causes the polar ice to melt – this raises the sea level – which will inundate most cities as they are close to the sea – except if you melt ice in water – since most is UNDER the water – it makes little difference – but then again, global DARKENING has negated much of the effect of global warming – thus the effect of global warming is far less problematic than the dangers posed by the hole in the ozone layer – although since they stopped using CFCs in fridges, that has almost repaired itself – except some scientists say it’s getting bigger – then again, all of this is negated by the increase in CO2 – which will cause the World to go up in a ball of thermal runaway, later this year – as predicted by the Mayans – except they didn’t say that at all – their calendar went in cycles and 2012 is simply the end of another cycle.

Hope that makes things clear.

Dec
31

This has nothing to do with aeroplanes (airplanes).

In America, TV movies – A.K.A. “made-for-television movies” – first began appearing in the Sixties. Television had advanced to colour (color) and its budgets were getting bigger.

However, they still were not THAT big – a famous actor once said the difference between acting in TV movies and theatrical ones became apparent when he needed guidance on how to play a scene and went to the director and asked, “How do you want it?”

If the director gave him instructions on the subtleties and style of the performance he required – it was a theatrical movie.

Whereas if he screamed, “NOW – the next set-up is waiting!” – it was a TV movie.

But in the Seventies, things changed. Whilst stand-alone TV movies still appeared – most were really PILOTS.

Every year, several dozen TV movies would emerge and for most of the audiences, that was that. But Behind The Scenes, statistics would be obtained from ratings companies and forms would be filled in by demographically-selected viewers and the next season, a number of SERIES would burst forth – based on those TV movies.

The forms they took varied, though. Some would feature the same actors, characters and situations as the TV movie had – others would feature major CHANGES – while a few might only retain the basic PREMISE of the original.

These were down to the REACTION the TV movies had received.

I recall one series that had retained all of the actors, characters and situations from its pilot – but where the pilot had been a PERIOD piece, the resulting series became CONTEMPORARY. One suspects that while audiences had liked the premise, they had had trouble identifying with the period.

Or possibly, the network chief had decided the period aspect was unnecessary – and had pointed out the COSTS of period filming.

Anyhoo, the pilot system worked well – so given the current drop in TV audience figures (thanks largely to THIS medium) and today’s DIRE financial climate, it is highly surprising the networks decided to DUMP it.

These days, series get green-lighted WITHOUT recourse to floating a pilot. Of course, they only get six episodes – then they wait for the ratings on the first three. If the numbers are favourable (favorable) the network orders seven more.

Sometimes a series TAKES OFF and they order another eighteen, to take the number to a full season. While at other times, they wait for the thirteen to finish and if they like the numbers – they order a full season NEXT year.

But this is MURDER on production companies, who are left on continuous TENTERHOOKS.

Given that today, theatrical movies are almost exclusively no-brain, FX-laden, PG-13 blockbuster remakes, sequels, prequels and video-game spinoffs aimed at KIDS – and as a result, most of the creative talent has drifted over to television and who can blame them – it is hard to understand why this manic system has supplanted the tried-and-tested tradition of PILOTS.

I mean, even SIX series episodes represent FOUR HOURS of screen time. Whereas the humble pilot runs a mere sixty-two – or at most eighty-three MINUTES – thus costing a FRACTION of the amount.

The result of this madness is that GOOD series appear, then get re-scheduled and often CANCELLED at a rate that leaves viewers’ heads spinning. And all of this at a time when they are abandoning TV in their millions to go surf THIS media.

TV executives need to RETHINK things – and one good idea would be to REVIVE the PILOT.

[In the unlikely event a TV exec actually comes across this piece: please – take a Valium, sit down and leave a comment. Tell us WHY your industry STOPPED making pilots.]

Dec
22

The Scotch are a race of people who live at the top of England.

Being that far north, the winters are long, dark and cold. So the Scotch have little to do and amuse themselves by inventing nick-nacks.

One of their inventions was a drink, which they unimaginatively named after themselves. A leading brand is Glenmiller.

The liquid gives the Scotch the DTs – thus many think they see monsters, like the Lock Ness Monster.

Every Saturday night, they go on a pilgrimage to the Glasgay Empire, where they throw things at English comics.

They are an aggressive people, as is evidenced by the celebrities who hail from there – like Jerry Sadowitz and Susan Boyle’s son, Frankie.

But luckily, they do not live very long, thanks to their diet of fried Mars Bars and haggis and chips.

[Of course, Sarah Palin would probably BELIEVE this crap!]

Dec
11

Thailand is currently going through a COLD snap. Last two days, the temperature here has dropped about seven degrees. It’s now 25 – CENTIGRADE.

I say this not to gloat, it’s actually a REAL PROBLEM – because oop north, in Chiang Mai (which is 500 miles away – like comparing Edinburgh with Bournemouth) it is SERIOUSLY COLD right now. Official disaster area, blankets needed, etc.

Thing is, this country is about as prepared for INDOOR and HEATER weather – as Britain is for SNOW. Both happen – but when they do, the people in both countries are EQUALLY dozy.

I hear Perky is finally trying to grow a pair and says he DISAGREES (ooh, there’ll be tears before bedtime) with Pinky over (belatedly) seeking to distance Britain from Europe.

The current fiasco started DECADES ago, when – after The Wall came down – the West started POURING money into the Eastern industries. Of course, they called it INVESTMENT. Then they began stretching the eastern European border until it nearly reached the STANS.

And now those turkeys have come home to roost (if I may mix metaphors – it’s my column, I’ll do what I want). Trouble is, my INCOME has to be paid in POUNDS – so Pinky had better be RIGHT.

The Tories have always been a bunch of sleazy, greedy smugbastards – conning the proles into voting for them, then making them bend over and spread their legs – but at least the c***s managed to BALANCE THE BOOKS.

One hopes Pinky will carry ON that tradition.

Of course, he need not worry what Perky thinks – THAT guy’s gonads are about as big as those on the citizens of Chiang Mai right now…

Dec
06

After having returned from fighting tyranny in Europe, British gay men found it still alive at home. During the casual sophistication of the Thirties, homosexuality was on its way to being tolerated – but the austerity of the Fifties stopped all that.

And it was during this period that Joe Meek entered adulthood. In addition to being gay, Joe was paranoid, OCD, schizophrenic and manic-depressive. He was also into spiritualism and the paranormal.

He was destined for a hard life.

However, he did have some redeeming qualities: whilst having little musical talent himself, he had a natural flair for enhancing the sounds of those who did.

This he achieved by developing a number of Heath Robinson acoustic techniques and various crude electronic devices that took the recording business by storm.

But he had a lot of difficulties to overcome, in order to do so.

The first was the fact the post-war British popular music scene was utterly dominated by four large companies – EMI, Decca, Philips and Pye. Fifties Pop music was essentially a closed shop.

For a while, Joe tried to work within this system, as a recording engineer. He mixed, among many others, hits such as Frankie Vaughan’s “Green Door” for Philips, Lonnie Donegan’s “Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O” for Pye and Humphrey Lyttelton’s “Bad Penny Blues” for Parlophone (EMI).

The reaction he got to the last of these efforts was typical of the repression he encountered during those years. By over-recording the brushes and bass, and modulating the piano, Joe turned a Trad Jazz number into something the youth of the day could relate to. But Humph was FURIOUS (although his fury cooled somewhat when the record hit the POP charts).

In 1959, he created a stereophonic New Age concept album, featuring electronic sounds, called “I Hear A New World” – but it was only partially released. New Age? Concept album? Electronic music? In 1959? Precisely. It was WAY ahead of its time.

Of course, if Joe had been born in America – instead of England’s West Country – he could have started his own independent label and been as successful as Phil Spector. But the hidebound attitudes of Fifties and early Sixties Britain throttled the life out of the man.

Nevertheless, he plugged away – recording tracks at his Holloway Road “studio” and releasing them, one at a time, on any label that would take them. The only clue to his having produced them was the legend – “An RGM Sound Recording” – somewhere on each label.

304, Holloway Road, London.

The three floors above a leather goods shop at that address formed Joe’s “studio” – the premises was, and still is, a terraced HOUSE.

The stairwells were covered in cables and the individual rooms served as recording booths – with one set aside for the mixing desk. How Joe was able to prevent traffic noise from the busy road outside ruining his recordings is still a mystery, but at least SEPARATION was not a problem.

However, conflict with neighbours – particularly his long-suffering landlady downstairs – WAS. She would bang the ceiling with a broom handle, while Joe’s response was to place speakers on the floor to INCREASE the noise he was making.

According to visiting artists, the landlady – Violet Shenton – was a sweetheart. But Joe hated her with a passion. And their relationship would not end well.

The first hit to emerge from Holloway Road was John Leyton’s “Johnny Remember Me” – written by Geoff Goddard (of whom, more later). It featured a booming vocal by John, eerie calls from an uncredited Lissa Gray and was released on Top Rank’s short-lived record label.

Its success was due in no small part to it and John Leyton being featured in a then-popular TV series called “Harpers, West One” – a soap, set in a department store.

But this was eclipsed by Joe’s next – and biggest – hit. “Telstar”.

Joe’s interest in the paranormal extended to all things extra-terrestrial – and when Telstar was launched, as the World’s first communications satellite, Joe was fascinated.

All of his life he had been interested in electronics (it is said that he built the first working TV set in his town) and his ingenuity with the science was certainly a major factor in the extraordinary records he created.

He even tried recording the dead in graveyards and a recording exists of a cat Joe found there – that he claimed spoke in tongues (although to THIS chronicler, it mostly sounds like “miaou”).

Anyhoo, Telstar inspired Joe to create his masterpiece.

“Telstar”

So many stories surround this epic that today, it is hard to separate fact from fiction – but this scribbler will try…

It seems Joe merely supplied the MELODY for Telstar. The arrangement, Clem Cattini’s brushes on the snare-drum, the key-change in the middle, etc. – ALL came from the Tornados. But Joe doubtless also supplied the sound-effects that frame the number.

Central to the piece is a Clavioline. Originally invented in 1947 as an add-on for pianos, it had first hit the Pop charts in 1953, on Frank Chacksfield’s “Little Red Monkey” (which was supposed to to be a light novelty number – but on that, the Clavioline sounds CREEPY – this scribe’s wife HATES it).

Roger LaVern was the Tornados’ keyboard player – but his organ proved not to be big enough (so to speak) for Joe. And therefore, Joe decided to add the Clavioline. However, as Roger had a gig later, in Yarmouth – Geoff Goddard subbed for him on that instrument.

The echo was allegedly obtained by setting up two tape-recorders in 304, Holloway Road’s bathroom – and using a mic attached to one, with a speaker attached to the other, the whole recording was transferred acoustically.

If true, this would certainly explain why even this historian’s MINT original copy does NOT sound as clear as any of the Tornados’ subsequent recordings.

(One story even has it that Telstar was RECORDED in the bathroom – but that appears to have been a mashing of the above story with the fact that the rooms of the premises were used as studio “elements”).

One wonders whether the ORIGINAL recording still exists, in “The Tea Chest Tapes” (of which again, more later).

Another mystery is the BASS part. Heinz was the Tornados’ official bassist – but he could barely PLAY. His guitar often had rubber placed between the strings and body to disguise that fact, by damping the sound down to an atonal thump. So did he LEARN the bass part, or did someone sub for him, too?

But whatever the truths – the fact is, Telstar became a massive World-wide hit. It was Joe’s finest moment.

However, Joe would never earn a penny from it as the composer. This was due to a French composer accusing him of plagiarism, over a piece the Frenchman had written for a 1960 film. The fact that when Telstar came out, the film had not yet been released in Britain makes it unlikely Joe had ever HEARD it.

But this (probable) coincidence kept the matter tied up in court for YEARS. It was eventually settled – in Joe’s favour – three weeks after his death.

Geoff Goddard.

Geoff COULD play – and compose. In fact, he often helped Joe out by transcribing the latter’s tunes onto sheet music. He also supplied a number of his own compositions to Joe’s canon. Some say Joe even STOLE a few from him – and others. And he played keyboards on a number of Joe’s other hits.

Also, like Joe, Geoff was interested in the paranormal and was a practising psychic.

But despite the fact he too was gay, Joe and Geoff never really got on. And after a spat, they parted: whereupon Geoff LEFT the music business – sinking into obscurity and passing unobtrusively at the age of only 62. For years, he had been working in the canteen of a local university – the students unaware of his history.

After Telstar.

Over the years he had been working, many artists had benefited from Joe’s productions – in addition to the above-mentioned, he had now recorded Screaming Lord Sutch, Mike Berry, Billy Fury, Gene Vincent, Petula Clark, George Chakiris, Mike Sarne, Freddie Starr, Tommy Steele, Jess Conrad, Anne Shelton, Shirley Bassey and a host of lesser lights, long-forgotten today.

He even encountered Tom Jones – but that also ended badly. In the early Sixties, the fashion for men’s trousers was TIGHT. And Joe’s remarks about the size of Tom’s package did not appeal to The Boy From The Valleys.

“It serves its purpose,” was Tom’s curt answer to one of Joe’s enquiries. Most gay men would have moved on after this obvious rebuff, from someone who was clearly a Ladies’ Man – but Joe continued his advances and eventually Tom lost it and WENT for him.

Having doubtless been beaten up over his proclivities before, Joe’s response was to scream like a girl and jump up onto his desk – then the mantelpiece – with an agility that took Tom aback. Shaking his head and sighing, Tom turned and walked away. He eventually got signed by Gordon Mills – who was STRAIGHT – and the rest is history.

Thus Joe needed to move FORWARD. What he badly needed was a follow-up to Telstar.

And so he composed “Globetrotter” – for which he was lucky not to receive ANOTHER accusation of plagiarism – it was VERY similar to “Venus In Blue Jeans”. However luckily, no-one seemed to notice and it made number five in the UK – but did nothing in America (Telstar had topped the charts on BOTH sides of the Atlantic).

Several more Meek-composed Tornados hits followed – “Robot”/“Life On Venus” and “The Ice Cream Man”/“Scales Of Justice” being the best (Scales Of Justice was composed by Johnny Douglas, for the film series).

But Joe grew tired of the group – all except for their bassist…

Heinz Burt.

Heinz was a young German – brought up in Britain, from age seven – who was handsome and a natural blond. And Joe LOVED him – even insisting Roger LaVern dye his naturally fair hair black to avoid clashing with him.

But, like Tom Jones, Heinz was straight. However, UNlike Tom, he was charming and naive – thus was not as forceful in rebuffing Joe’s advances. And so Joe determined to extract him from the Tornados and make him a solo singing star.

However, while Heinz was a looker – his singing talents were merely adequate. Thus the only hit he scored was a minor one – “Just Like Eddy” – written by Geoff Goddard as a tribute to Eddie Cochran. A young Richie Blackmore (destined for fame with Deep Purple) played guitar. It made number five in the UK.

(After Joe’s death, Heinz carried on in The Business – singing in pantos, naustalgia shows and occasional Tornados reformations. He died a few weeks before Geoff Goddard, aged just 57).

When Heinz failed to become a star, Joe began looking around himself. The Tornados were ailing, Screaming Lord Sutch was only a one-hit-wonder novelty act, the major record companies were still not interested in him – and the Beatles (a group he had turned DOWN a few years earlier) were leading a whole new generation.

Joe felt he was about to become obsolete. But then came…

The Honeycombs.

Featuring lady drummer Honey Lantree, the Honeycombs gave Joe his last number one hit, “Have I The Right”. Like Telstar, the stories surrounding its creation are fabled – and contradictory.

One says the THUMP that characterises the record was created by the group stamping on the stairs of 304, Holloway Road, recorded by a series of mics attached to the bannister rail by bicycle clips (THAT must have pleased Violet).

Another says Joe wrapped a moving coil mic in a towel and placed it on the bare boards of the bathroom floor and stamped his OWN foot on the floor, in time to the rhythm.

Maybe it was both. Or neither.

Whichever, the record went top ten all over the World – Joe appeared to be BACK.

However, this late entry in Joe’s canon proved to be his swansong. He continued recording tracks with the Honeycombs, but apart from a having a minor hit with “That’s The Way” in ’65 – they all fell on stony ground.

And his rants and rages became worse and more frequent – Honey Lantree was terrified of him.

Thus the Honeycombs spelled the end of an era.

Joe’s Death.

Like everything else surrounding Joe Meek, his exit is surrounded by confusion. The FACTS are that on the third of February, 1967 (the anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death) Joe’s body, along with that of his aforementioned landlady, Violet Shenton, was found at 304, Holloway Road – they had both died by shotgun blast.

Another fact was that the shotgun found at the scene belonged to Heinz Burt. At first, the police went looking for HIM.

However, they soon eliminated him from suspicion: declaring that Joe had shot Violet – then himself.

The presence of Heinz’s shotgun was explained as its having been confiscated by Joe, when he discovered Heinz was using it to go bird-shooting while on tour – a sport Joe disapproved of. He had then hidden the firearm and cartridges under his bed.

But questions remain unanswered – and are likely to continue to be, given the principals are all now deceased.

Like, was the fact the murder-suicide took place on the anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death relevant? Joe was obsessed with the singer and had often claimed to have had psychic conversations with him.

Then there was the business of Heinz’s shotgun. The police were satisfied at the time, but…

And what happened at 304, Holloway Road, to trigger (again, so to speak) the tragedy? Since there were no reported witnesses, we shall probably never know.

Joe’s Legacy.

For many years, people FORGOT Joe. But slowly, his story began to grow: from curio, through fame – to LEGEND. Books, TV docos and now, even dramatisations of his life. His recordings have been re-issued many times. Most are currently available on YouTube (some even uploaded by this writer).

And then there are “The Tea-Chest Tapes” – these have changed hands a number of times, for ever-increasing sums. They apparently include recordings that never made it to vinyl, of many of the stars Joe recorded – and some he did not (like Tom Jones and the young David Bowie).

Perhaps the original master of Telstar is in there (which could now be restored – in STEREO, if it was recorded on multi-track – and with MODERN echo added).

But while it is said they were catalogued in the Eighties, they have not yet surfaced in the public domain.

Naturally, now being fifty-odd years old, they may be commercially useless. Audio tape is quite durable if kept away from heat, humidity and magnetic fields – but fifty years is a long time.

And finally, it is cruelly ironic that within just SIX MONTHS of Joe’s expiration, three important things happened…

One: the court case concerning Telstar was (as stated above) settled in his favour. This would have restored his financial status – he was BROKE when he died.

Two: homosexuality was (sort of) legalised in the UK.

And three: The Summer Of Love happened. Pop music and culture EXPLODED. In short, the World changed – and many of the ways it changed would have suited Joe right down to the ground.

If only he had just WAITED a bit…

Nov
26

In England, people do this in one of two ways.

Usually, one person gives out a NERVOUS LAUGH – like the other just said something funny – but which is actually their way of saying they wish to END the conversation ASAP.

Failing that, they have to resort to something like: well, anyway… yeah, okay… I s’pose I’d better get on… righto… I’ll talk to you later… okay… right… talk to you later, then… byeee… byeee… byeee… you hang up… no, YOU hang up… [this can go on for hours]

Americans are more direct: Hi, Mom… Your father died… yeah? What of?… Cancer… [klunk, klunk.]

I wish I could think of an END for this bit… [klunk]

Nov
20

Last night, I dreamt I was fishing off Felixstowe Pier – when suddenly, the old piles began to creak (not MINE – those supporting the pier) and the whole construction began to list.

As is often the case with these sorts of dreams, I could not MOVE – thus I feared I would DROWN. But just at that moment, the level of the sea began to drop.

And as the sea receded into the distance, I found myself PINNED underneath the now-collapsed structure – pressed into the soft, pungent ooze.

For a while, the situation seemed merely uncomfortable – but as time went by and no-one came to my aid, I began to feel more and more pain as the wreckage settled.

Finally, I heard a rushing in my ears and realised that something was about to occur which I had sworn would never happen – I was going to succumb to pier pressure.

WOW – that was a long way to go for THAT one!

Nov
15

Rowan Atkinson’s big-screen career has – like everything else he’s done – been extraordinary.

Various roles in various movies have peppered his also-extraordinary TV career. But here, the writer wishes to concentrate on his biggest MOVIE triumphs – Mr Bean and Johnny English. Thus far, two of each.

The character of Mr Bean was dreamed up for a highly successful TV series, while Johnny English came from a series of Barclaycard TV commercials.

However, the two are very different. Mr Bean is essentially a child in a man’s body, having apparently been dropped off from a passing spacecraft – while the originally unnamed secret agent is a pompous blunderer.

Parallels have been drawn between Mr Bean and Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton – while Johnny English owes something to Sellers’ Clouseau and Nielsen’s Drebin.

But they all share one thing in common – VISUAL comedy. Indeed, parallels have also been drawn between Atkinson and Chaplin.

And that is fair enough. But Chaplin had one thing over Atkinson – success in AMERICA.

The Mr Bean and Johnny English movies have enjoyed extraordinary success around the World – but done ZIP in the States.

Typically, a movie that does well in what Hollywood calls the Foreign Market grosses about twice as much there – as in what it calls the Domestic Market. But not Bean and English.

Bean cost a mere US$22M to make and netted only that, in America. But the Rest Of The World netted it another NINETY-odd million (the gross being double that figure – the theatres get the other half).

Six years later (Atkinson never RUSHES things) Johnny English was released, having cost US$35M – and netted just 14 Stateside. But the Rest Of The World returned SIXTY-FIVE big ones.

Another four years and Bean’s sequel emerged, costing US$25 to produce and the US gave it just 16. While The Rest Of The World came across with ninety-two.

And now, four MORE years down the line, Johnny Reborn (featuring agents Barclay and Carte) has (so far – it’s still out there) turned US$45M into just a piddling FOUR in America – but seventy-three large elsewhere. And counting.

All of which is bizarre. Yes, the characters are British – but then, so was Chaplin. Why doesn’t America GET Atkinson?

Granted, The Rest Of The World is BOUND to love Bean – it’s great comedy, with no language barrier. And while English has dialogue, most of the COMEDY is still VISUAL.

And while many of the foreign issues of the English movies have Bean in their titles (which is a cheat, since the two characters are entirely different, but hey, you have to PROMOTE – in any case, ultimately a movie sells on its APPEAL, not its title) their success is a result of word-of-mouth. They’re FUNNY.

Here in Thailand, Britain means two things – Manchester United and Mr Bean. And this scribbler suspects the same is true elsewhere.

But over in The Land Of The Free, Rowan is still largely unknown. Of course, reportedly being worth over a hundred million quid (POUNDS, not US dollars) he may not care.

He lives a comfortable, but not ostentatious life. One wife. A couple of kids. His sole indulgence is owning and driving (and occasionally crashing) fast, expensive cars.

He is only a couple of years younger than this reporter, but wears it well – he still has HAIR.

He has campaigned for free speech in comedy. Manages to conceal a stammer by emphasising his Bs. Is by all accounts a charming if rather unassuming chap – some would even say boring.

But for over FORTY YEARS, he has turned out a brilliant, consistent body of work that should have earned him a frickin’ KNIGHTHOOD, by now. Maybe if America had understood him…

Footnote: ROWAN Bean? Yes – the name is glimpsed in his passport, in Mr Bean’s Holiday (Vacation). So now you know!

Nov
08

We all know what a thousand is – and a million. However, most people think the next multiple is the billion – but they are WRONG.

The numbers go thusly – a thousand: a one with three zeros after it – a million: six zeros – a milliard: nine – a billion: twelve – a billiard (nothing to do with the game): fifteen – a trillion: eighteen – a trilliard: twenty-one – and a quadrillion: twenty-four zeros.

After that (if absolutely necessary) you can go to a quintillion (thirty zeros) a sextillion (thirty-six) a septillion (forty-two) an octillion (forty-eight) and so on.

Simple – until the Americans got involved.

Despite the billion being perfectly content as a million million (bi- meaning TWO: as in bicycle, bisexual, bifocals, etc.) and the trillion likewise, as a million million million (tri- meaning THREE: as in tricycle, triangle, trident, etc.) they decided to CHANGE things.

It’s what they do. The rest of the World has 50Hz power, so they alone went with 60Hz. We have PAL/Secam – they have NTSC (never twice the same colour). Our AC current comes at 220 volts – theirs at 110. And it’s the same with shoe sizes, date/month, gallons, etc.

They ALWAYS have to be DIFFERENT, so they unilaterally decided to make a thousand million a billion and a million million a trillion – despite simple grammar dictating otherwise.

Thus the Orders Of Magnitude became split into Short Scale (America) and Long Scale (the rest of the World).

But America, while not being the most advanced or developed nation on Earth, IS the most powerful – thus it was not long before other countries began adopting THEIR misbegotten numbering system.

So what to do? Well – these days, the million and billion are slowly fading from use. Smart people are now only using thousand and million (at least America hasn’t mucked up THOSE).

Thus a one with nine zeros is now being described as a thousand million – rather than a billion (Short Scale). And one with twelve, a million million – rather than a billion (Long Scale) or trillion (Short Scale). It avoids confusion.

While numbers GREATER than 1,000,000,000,000 (Long billion or Short trillion) are usually only used in Science – and are thus expressed as powers anyway (i.e., the aforementioned number would be 10¹² – ten to the twelfth).

And so THIS time we can CIRCUMVENT America’s crassness. Pity we can’t do the same with all the OTHER crap we’ve inherited from them…

Oct
29

Elsewhere in these columns, this chronicler has detailed the death of original melodies, Pop music, James Bond, etc. So, now – fiction.

The problem is that these entertainments have been with us for a long time – and at some point, the writers simply HAD to run out of ideas.

Films, books, TV – in short, mass entertainment – have used up millions of creative thoughts, over the last century. And now there are few left.

And in fiction, on the rare occasion some scribe DOES have an original notion – it gets done to DEATH in pretty short order. Cases in point…

Anthony Shaffer wrote a play called “Sleuth” in 1970. This writer is not about to ruin it for you by detailing the plot. Suffice to say it is a HONEY – but has a weak third act.

Two years later, the movie emerged, starring Caine and Olivier. Then, in 2007, a remake was tried – this time with Caine playing Olivier’s part and Jude Law playing Caine’s (he played Caine’s part in the remake of “Alfie” too).

And this time, the third act was rewritten – by no less than Harold Pinter – but it still didn’t work.

In the same year, 1970, Richard Matheson wrote a short story called “Button, Button” – named after the child’s game. In it, a woman is given a box with a button in it.

All she has to do is press it and a stranger will DIE – and she will receive a large amount of money.

Inspired, no doubt, by Orson’s “cuckoo-clock” speech in “The Third Man” – this too began a long life.

First, it turned up as a 1986 “Twilight Zone” revival episode, then got expanded to a 2009 Cameron Diaz vehicle called “The Box”.

And it was finally made (WITHOUT attribution) into a British TV movie called “The Reckoning”, with Ricky Gervais’ chum in “Extras” as the woman in question – but this time, she actually has to kill the stranger HERSELF.

But again, the result was a mess – another example of a great idea stretched too thin.

One superb notion that fared better was “12:01 pm” – another short story, this time written by Richard Lupoff, in 1973.

This one concerned a man caught in a “time-bounce” (these days it would be called a time-loop) lasting just one hour.

It first surfaced on the screen in 1990, as a short-story-TV episode, in a latter-day Twilight Zone clone.

The director, Jonathan Heap, saw the potential in the concept and with Lupoff and another, wrote a TV movie based on it – but this time stretching the one-hour loop into twenty-four.

Then the idea got PINCHED and used in the theatrical movie, “Groundhog Day” (although lawyers said the concept was too “general” and a court case would be pointless).

But the point of all the above is this: all THREE plot ideas came from the early Seventies – and got done to DEATH.

And since that time, original “high-concept” story ideas have been as rare as rocking-horse doo-doo.

More recently, a mini-series called “FlashForward” – based on Robert J Sawyer’s 1999 novel – displayed another original idea: the entire population of the World simultaneously collapses for 137 seconds.

And when they come around (those who do not DIE – a two minute, seventeen second “blackout” is DANGEROUS) most recall having had dreams that seem to be a prediction of what will happen to them, six months hence.

So far, it has only hit the small screen as a mini-series – but next…?

Oct
19

In Britain, baths (in the US – tubs) used to be long enough for you to stretch out in. Today, water conservation (not required because of a lack of water – it never stops RAINING in Britain these days – but rather thanks to the commercialisation – sorry, “privatisation” of the water companies) has caused them to become as TINY as possible – squeezed in at the middle and SHORT.

But to be fair – as a method of cleaning the whole body (their original purpose) they are horribly inefficient. In addition to using up a lot of water, they use up a lot of SPACE too – both no-nos, nowadays.

Plus now, most people wash their whole bodies at least once a DAY – not once a WEEK, like they did in times of yore. Do that in a BATH and the water companies WILL wet themselves. No – SHOWERS are the only practical alternative.

And here in Thailand, all houses use the ENTIRE BATHROOM as the shower (the tiled floor gently slopes to the drain hole and you buy a giant windscreen wiper on a stick to clear the remaining water from the floor, so you don’t go base-over-apex when you go in to use the LOO).

So – baths have had their day, right? Well – NO.

Today, baths are somewhere to RELAX. To soak away the stress of daily living. To just go, “Aaaaaaah!”

You can still buy ’em: in fact re-enamelled long, Victorian models used to cost a pretty penny – until companies started making the long ones again.

And you can get ones that have bubble-makers, too (although the noise from the pump is intrusive – put it in the next room, on rubber mounts). Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!

But then, there is still all that WATER they use – plus the room they take up. And you just get relaxed, then some spoilsport wants to use the damn TOILET – to take a DUMP.

The solution? Simple. Allocate (or construct) a room as the LITERAL bathroom. Then plumb in a LONG bath – with that bubble-maker (OUTSIDE) complete with a water re-heater. Add some soft lighting, reflective music, joss-sticks and there you are. Resist peeing in it and you can reuse the water, too.

Then you will have a shower for cleaning and a bathroom for just AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

————————————————————————————————-

UPDATE!!! [added on 22nd November, 2011]

For DECADES, conservationistas have banged on about how showers SAVE WATER, right? Well, it turns out they were talking BOLLOCKS!

Their figures were based on the assumption people would have as many baths as showers (RUBBISH – they don’t have the TIME) and that they spent only five minutes in the shower.

Horsefeathers! I take around TEN minutes. And it turns out I’m not alone (I mean, not alone in taking my TIME – sadly, I’m usually alone while I’m IN there). A recent survey reveals the ACTUAL average is more like EIGHT minutes.

Add to this the far GREATER number of times people use showers, compared with the number if they were using baths – and it transpires the REDUCTION in water consumption is MINIMAL.

And those with POWER SHOWERS actually use MORE!!!

Oct
17

While early forms of The Wipe appeared in the Fifties – it was not until the Seventies that, thanks to synthetic materials, they really took off.

Like “Silly Putty” they were an invention for which there was no clear use. However, it was not long before commercial companies began suggesting some.

Initially, they were sold as Baby Wipes, Comfort Wipes – to “finish off” wiping ADULT bottoms, “Wet Wipes” – sold mainly to fast-food restaurants and “Moist Towelettes” – targeted at airlines, as an alternative to “freshen-up” towels (which were NOT disposable).

Strangely, the application for adult bottoms never really took off.

Then, when the cost was realised, airlines stopped using them, too.

And most restaurants figured they were a bit twee (plus KFC claimed their chicken was “Finger-Lickin’ Good” – a philosophy that wipes ran COUNTER to).

Thus today, they are mostly only used by mothers, for babies – and OCD types (like “Monk”) for EVERYTHING.

But while not (recently) possessing a BABY – or being majorly OCD – this historian has used ’em for YEARS.

Indeed, they ARE useful for that “finishing off” purpose listed above (although, being synthetic, they will not dissolve in septic tanks, so must be disposed of in a bin).

And thanks to their astringent quality, they also come in handy after shaving, or suffering a mild cut or graze.

Plus, having a GENTLE cleaning effect, they are useful for cleaning everything from this computer’s keyboard, through mobile phones, TV screens – you name it. They are safe on ALL plastics – thus can clean MOST of what we own today.

And one can easily buy them in a plastic box, from which one can PEEL OFF the “Baby Wipes” label. After which they become merely – Wipes. Then, for as long as the spring in the lid holds out, one buys refill packs.

I go through a pack a week…

Oct
13

I am an ex-pat Brit living, this last decade, in Thailand.

Thais habitually do some STUPID things. But then again, so do Brits.

And if one were to compile a list – the Thais would come out on TOP.

Their attitude to life is WAY more positive than MY race.

However, sometimes even the natives of The Land Of Smiles do things that make you want to KICK them. Case in point…

Many years ago, I constructed a bird-feeder. I had originally strewn bird-seed on the garden – until two LBBs (little brown birds) got nailed by a CAT. Yes, I feed birds – but not to cats.

These days cats avoid my garden, since it now contains two DOGS I rescued – but that is another story.

The bird-feeder soon became a bird-and-SQUIRREL-feeder. It turns out squirrels like bird-seed. And it turns out birds do NOT like squirrels (I think they eat their eggs) so they sit in the adjacent bush and twitter angrily, when they come to feed.

But the squirrels are cute, hanging from the tree-trunk by their back legs, craning out to nibble the seed. And they don’t eat much – or stay too long – so are welcome also.

Which brings me to the POINT of this monograph. The Thais think me MAD for spending MONEY on seed – to feed WILD birds.

But then – they CATCH wild birds and put them in cages in their gardens. And there, day after day, these poor creatures sit. Watching the World go by – from a PRISON.

Whereas MY birds (and squirrels) come and go as they PLEASE.

And it only cost me ten pence (16c) a day for their company.

So NOW who’s mad?

Sep
26

Makes you sick, doesn’t it? How no-one dares to say “Happy CHRISTMAS” in public anymore? WHY??

Well of course, it’s all down to “political correctness”. America and Britain are now “multi-cultural” – and we wouldn’t want to offend non-Christians, now would we?

And suggestions that in foreign counties, their citizens would not DREAM of dropping their equivalents of “Happy Ramadan”, “Happy Passover”, “Happy Vesak”, “Happy Pongal” or “Happy Vaisakhi” – fall on deaf ears.

“Ah, but those countries are mono-cultural.” REALLY??

The reality is that ALL countries have SEVERAL religions – the “official” one merely predominating (usually). But THAT religion’s special day is referred to PROPERLY – not as “holiday”.

And who says Britain and America are multi-cultural anyway?

During the last years that figures are available for, both Britain’s and America’s NON-Christian populations accounted for only FIVE PERCENT of their total populations.

Five percent.

One could understand the reticence of some people to talk of Christmas if that figure were fifty percent. Even thirty percent. But FIVE percent??

Furthermore, in the last UK census, a quarter of the population declared themselves to be anything from Atheist to Jedi Knights (390,000 of those – but maybe they were taking the piss).

And of the three-quarters who put Christian, it is a fair bet that had they been interviewed in depth – many would REALLY have been AGNOSTIC.

And America’s last census produced similar results (although they didn’t count Jedi Knights separately).

Fact is, for most these days, Christmas is just a CONCEPT. A time when people are NICE to each other. Give presents. Eat too much food. Drink too much alcohol. The Christian dimension was LONG ago swallowed up by Coca-Cola Santas and Toys ‘R’ Us (WordPress doesn’t DO a backwards “R”).

So why can’t we just go back to TRADITION? For once, put the politically-correct bullshit behind us and say to everyone, without fear – “Happy CHRISTMAS, mate!”

Sep
17

I just read this on BBC News (or else I wouldn’t have BELIEVED it)…

“Two US men face charges in Denver for allegedly driving around with the body of a friend after discovering him dead.

The pair bought drinks, dinner and took $400 (£253) from Jeffrey Jarrett’s bank, visiting a strip club before reporting his death, police said.

Robert Young, 43, and Mark Rubinson, 25, are charged with identity theft, criminal impersonation and abuse of a corpse.”

…I thought “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead” was just a MOVIE!!!

Sep
07

George Endfield had had enough of Las Vegas – or “Lost Wages”, as he now thought of it – his earnings had been reduced to a sum sufficient only to get him back to L.A.

But as he walked to the Greyhound bus station, he suddenly heard an eerie voice – “Go back to Las Vegas… go back to Las Vegas…”

He looked around at the nearby pedestrians – but it seemed only HE had heard the voice. He turned back towards The Strip.

As he walked past the garish lights, he heard the voice once more – “Go to Caesar’s Palace… go to Caesar’s Palace…”

He walked into the grand entrance. Now the voice said – “Play Roulette… play Roulette…”

He sat down at the Roulette table and the voice said – “Play seven red… play seven red…”

George placed his last fifty bucks – the money he had retained for his bus fare home – on seven red.

Twenty-four black came up.

The voice said – “How about that?”

    

[My name’s Damien – don’t forget to tip your waitress.]

Sep
06

So what dickhead came up with THAT? People carriers. Why not call a cup a drinks carrier? Or how about calling your wallet your money carrier?

I mean, ANY vehicle that carries more than one person is by simple DEFINITION a people carrier. A bus. A coach. A car. A motorbike with a pillion seat. Even a frickin’ TANDAM is a people carrier.

Of course what we understand from the term is what, in my day, used to be called a MINIBUS – a van with seats and windows.

And any bloke forced to buy one just to cart his immediate family around was considered to be a man with no control over his trousers.

A basic three-box CAR could carry a man, his wife and up to three children. Only a Catholic needed more.

But now we see all these damn “people carriers”. Who ARE these people with so little control – they need a frickin’ MINIBUS to transport the results of their libido?

Aug
29

The other day, Your Humble Scribe heard something that made him drop his cigarette in his lap. It seems a plane made a crash-landing and everyone survived the impact. But then, a dopey stewardess grabbed her mic and told everyone to REMAIN SEATED – and she later got a COMMENDATION for her performance during the emergency.

Now, here is a FACT: the passengers who DIE when a plane crash-lands – are the dummies who SIT THERE, waiting to be TOLD WHAT TO DO.

If THIS writer had been on that plane, he would have been at the nearest EXIT by the time it slithered to a halt – and half-way down the emergency chute before the idiot trolley-dolly had opened her mouth. And anyone attempting to stop him would now be missing TEETH.

So listen: should YOU be lucky enough to survive a crash – do NOT just sit there. Put at least five hundred yards between you and the plane IMMEDIATELY.

As any airman will tell you: if you walk (or better yet, run) away from it – it’s a LANDING!

Aug
23

…are IMPOSSIBLE to CREATE. For instance, a commercial company is currently trying to make one fly – with Jennifer Aniston – on Metacafe. However, MY first viral is on that service and she hasn’t caught up with THAT yet. My Action Squirrel still reigns supreme over JENNIFER ANISTON, for crissakes!

The funny thing is, when I first created him, I did so just for myself and a few friends. Then, when I began YouTubing, I decided to give him a go at the Big Time. He was up for three months – and ZILCH.

So I figured I’d give him a go on Metacafe – and WHAMMO!

Overnight, he got FIVE THOUSAND HITS. Then, over the next few weeks, he ramped up to a QUARTER OF A MILLION. Three months more – though slowing a bit – he still managed to pass the HALF-MILLION mark.

He’s slowed even more now – but like the Energiser Bunny, he’s still going! Currently, another six months on, he has SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND HITS – TWICE as many as Jennifer!

But then, you never know WHAT will go viral – or for how long. A number of my pieces have SHOT off – then TANKED around ten thousand.

Altogether, my one thousand, seven hundred-plus uploads have produced about twenty big-hitters (six-figure earners – between a hundred thousand and one million hits). But they are just steady PLODDERS. They’ve taken up to TWO YEARS to reach those heights.

The ones that are REALLY interesting, from the HITS standpoint (which are not really the REASON for uploading – but it IS nice when you get ’em) are the two I currently have which are heading for the TWO MILLION mark. But only ONE is truly VIRAL.

Let me elucidate (which at my age, can be dangerous) – my Pop video of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” has done very well. After (like my squirrel piece) doing ZILCH for, in this case, TWO months – it suddenly started to CLIMB. Here’s its stats…

As can clearly be seen, the piece has done well throughout the Americas and over the last eight months has done a steady linear climb to around twelve thousand hits a day – having on its way picked up nearly a million and a half hits. But it is NOT VIRAL – just a really good earner.

On the other hand, my video of Tom Mullica performing his amazing comedy magic routine where he (sort of) EATS CIGARETTES, did nada for nearly EIGHT months – then suddenly went BALLISTIC, climbing to nearly SEVENTY thousand hits a day. However, as can be seen below, it only lasted for ten weeks – having now dropped back to just EIGHT thousand-odd a day.

But DURING those ten weeks, it glommed ONE AND THREE QUARTER MILLION HITS! Look at the GRAPH! THAT is a VIRAL VIDEO!

This time, it was a hit only in NORTH America – plus Australia and Britain. The places where smoking is most rabidly demonised. One suspects the piece was a kind of PORNOGRAPHY there.

But the point is this: while something like the Tears For Fears video can last for DECADES, a true viral video is OF THE MOMENT. Like a REAL virus, it “infects” the World for a WHILE – then crashes and burns.

Although, eight thousand hits a day is still not to be sneezed at. In fact now, this uploader is fascinated to see which of them will hit the two million mark FIRST. Tom Mullica may be a quarter-million ahead, but Tears For Fears are currently getting fifty percent more hits – and RISING.

It’s a RACE, baby!

[UPDATE! It turned out to be a DAMN CLOSE one, too! Five weeks and four days later: Tears For Fears WON the race – by just SIX HOURS!]

Aug
14

I am not rich – but I live in a low-economy country – thus am an economic migrant in reverse.

And as such, I have occasionally felt slightly guilty, when taking delivery of an item from workers I KNOW could never afford the “luxuries” I possess.

Like my big, flatscreen TV – with a 250W 6-channel sound system – upon which I can view movies on DVD, in the living room, without the inconvenience of actually going to the movies.

Although in the land of my birth, the system would hardly be thought of as the height of opulence.

And like my sauna.

For me, this item is an essential and this being a hot country, is only single-skin – and thus only set me back five hundred pounds.

And as I keep it in good order, it has so far lasted me about nine years – and with continued attention, it should go on to last me for the rest of my life (on paper, about another twenty years).

Therefore, by World standards, I consider myself to be a middle-income individual. And as such, I am content. I do not envy ANYONE.

But when I recently saw GoldVish’s million-dollar diamond-encrusted MOBILE PHONE – steam came from my EARS. It had obviously been created for a Trump, Hilton or drug baron – and I wanted to reach out, seize the obscenity, dash it to the ground and jump repeatedly on it until it was SMASHED TO BITS.

“ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME?” I yelled.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I do not envy rich folks their YACHTS. If I had the bread, I might get one too. But that is different. A yacht GOES places. It houses you. The ultimate mobile home. Although if it had gold-plated taps…

The thing is, there is rich, ostentatious – and just plain SICK.

This World still has millions of people in it who cannot get enough to EAT – and then someone goes and makes a thing like THAT.

Inevitably, it reminded me of a Rolex watch I once bought. It cost me eight pounds, in Bangkok.

When I returned (THAT time) to England, I compared it with the “genuine” article, in a posh jeweller’s window. The two were identical – except theirs cost over TWO THOUSAND pounds.

It kept perfect time, however it looked a bit CAMP to me, so I GAVE IT AWAY – to a LADY.

But it got me thinking. What was the DIFFERENCE between those two watches? Well, mine probably didn’t have a thermocompensated movement – thus instead of being accurate to a second a month, it might wander off by as much as TEN seconds a month.

But then if THAT bothered me, I could always get a “radio” watch. They are accurate to GOD standard, being corrected every hour by a broadcast time-signal – yet can still be purchased for less than fifty pounds.

The thing is, in The Good Old Days, watches made by the likes of Rolex, Longines and TAG Heuer had a POINT.

While cheap and cheerful timepieces like the ubiquitous Timex would be accurate to the minute – provided you corrected them by “the pips” every night and remembered to wind them – if you wanted a serious watch – one that would wind ITSELF and kept time to within fifteen seconds a MONTH – you had to part with serious CASH for it. Fair enough.

But when “tuning fork” watches and then far cheaper and even more accurate QUARTZ ones entered the personal timekeeping arena – high-tech MECHANICAL watches had had their DAY.

Or thus it SHOULD have been, except Rolex discovered that – against all logic – there were still pseuds with more money than sense who were willing to part with shedfulls of dosh for a “classic” STATUS SYMBOL.

Okay, like P.T. Barnham once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute” – and long before that, the idiom, “A fool and his money are soon parted” was being quoted. So f*** ’em – right?

Right. But the thing that boils my onions is when, every couple of years, some SE Asian uniformed prat puts on their regular display (for The West) of a strip of seized “fake” (but perfectly serviceable) Rolex watches – and proceeds to drive a STEAM-ROLLER over them.

If I Ruled The World, I would lay down a strip of PEOPLE who had purchased “genuine” Rolex watches – and drive a steam-roller over THEM.

Aug
11

Now let me see if I have this right: Comcast now owns NBC – and NBC owns Universal – and Universal owns BMG.

So if BMG bought Comcast – would Wall Street EXPLODE?

Aug
08

…at least, it SHOULD have been.

First, let the author clear up one important point: this piece is NOT about any specific race, ethnicity, creed, religion, country or nationality.

Rather, it is about several races, ethnicities, creeds, religions – and a LARGE number of countries and nationalities.

Both in the Middle East and outside of it.

Today, most people assume civilisation began in Europe. This is because Europe is the most advanced region of our modern World.

But scholars know that the occupants of the Middle East had a head-start of several thousand years on The West.

However, they BLEW it – and were not helped by The West.

If the occupants of The Middle East – an area that grew to encompass the top of Africa, The Stans and Central Asia – had got their arses in gear, they would have had a settlement on MARS by now.

But no. Their gathering into tribes, who then spent the next ten millennia kicking the crap out of each other, have left them short of entering the TWENTIETH century – let alone the twenty-first.

And when the ancient Greeks – then the Romans – then modern Europe – overtook them, THEY hardly helped.

The colonialists exploited the Middle East – but then pulled out, just before realising the natives were sitting on top of a shit-load of OIL.

Of course, it was not really their fault. At the time they pulled out, most people did not yet own cars – and most power stations ran on COAL. Thus oil was not really a big deal.

But after WW2, it became the life-blood of Western civilisation.

And if The West had had any sense, they would have reoccupied the countries they had formerly exploited – and exploited them a whole heap MORE.

However, having “nobly” pulled out to allow their old empire regions to “prosper” – they could hardly have done so, without appearing despotic.

And so instead, they poured obscene amounts of money into the hands of the LOCAL despots who now ran the countries.

Said despots would then spend their time sitting around wondering how many new Royces and Mercs to buy that year – and how much oil money they could screw out of the Western countries, to pay for them.

They would no more have considered sharing their oil wealth with their country’s citizens than a Texas landowner would have considered sharing HIS – with his CATTLE.

And while earlier, in France, the citizens had taken matters into their own hands and parted their despots from their heads – their Middle-Eastern equivalents had been brought up to RESPECT their “betters”.

Plus, thanks to Western politicians who had grown fat on the table-scraps thrown to them by the despots, said despots were now heavily ARMED.

Thus a status quo emerged where sycophantic, but powerful Westerners protected these nouveau riche primitives – and plied them with more money than they or their families could ever spend.

But now, that money is running OUT.

And so belatedly, The West is trying to regain control of the region.

But the farcical to-ings and fro-ings of its efforts have resulted in more chaos than would have occurred if they had just manned up and retaken control of the countries, stripping them of their black gold.

And the COST of these efforts – both direct and indirect – have been PHENOMENAL.

But trying to MANAGE the region is akin to trying to stop seventeen tigers in a small cage from ripping each others’ throats out.

So what is the solution?

F***ed if I know.

Aug
02

We have all heard about live cats being thrown into boiling water and eaten, in certain parts of China. And the treatment meted out to dogs in certain areas of Korea.

And the River Of Blood “ceremony” (holocaust would be a better word) in Japan – where hundreds of dolphins are corralled into a river, then stabbed to death in a frenzy by “fishermen” (dolphins, as any moron knows, are not fish – but highly intelligent MAMMALS).

And yet this slaughter persists, year after year, in a World that we THINK of as “civilized”.

Look, I am a meat-eater, okay? So I eat bits of CATTLE – which are bred for the purpose and humanely killed. They are NOT self-aware – despite people calling them “Daisy”.

But cats and dogs – which are VERY self-aware – were bred by us as COMPANIONS. They RELY on us to treat them properly.

And while dolphins are WILD animals, they are JUST as intelligent as cats and dogs. We should NOT be eating FLIPPER.

However, recently I have noticed how our species seems to have TOTALLY given up at any pretence of caring for the other species who inhabit our planet.

Two horribly similar cases in point: a while back, I saw a video on YouTube of a bat, that had fallen into a toilet bowl. And what did the person who discovered it do? Ran off to fetch their camcorder – so they could post the result on YouTube.

At no point, did the arsehole think of fishing the poor creature OUT.

If they had been afraid of catching rabies (highly unlikely, I have handled a number of bats and none have ever bitten ME) they could have used a utensil – like a small pot, or large spoon.

And today, on BBC News, I saw some silly cow continue driving, while a snake slid back and forth across her car’s bonnet. Her schmuck of a husband immediately grabbed their camcorder…

Again, at no point did they consider SLOWING DOWN, to allow the creature to get OFF.

Eventually, the snake FELL off – but given the car was still zooming down the middle lane of a freeway, it is highly unlikely it survived the experience (snakes, most of which are not even poisonous, are DELICATE creatures – they BREAK EASILY).

But the thing that got me, in both of these cases, was the CASUAL DISREGARD for these animals’ suffering. Is this where we ARE now?

Well, not ME. For instance, Geckos are definitely NOT self-aware, but when I find one in the house, I pop a glass over them – slide a sheet of paper under it – and release them outside. Not because I do not welcome them in my house – but simply to save them getting squished behind a door, or nailed by my CAT (who knows no better).

I do this because I CARE about animals – ANY animals.

I am CIVILISED. And while humankind continues their casual dismissal of their fellow Earth-inhabitants – they will NEVER be so.

Jul
24

Loose: adjective – not tight.

Lose: verb – mislay.

Now, how hard was THAT?

Yet of all the written mistakes one sees nowadays, TRANSPOSING these two simple words appears to be the most popular – it is almost FASHIONABLE.

It is not even a GRAMMATICAL error – just a COCK-UP.

THOUSANDS of times, one has seen this stupid mistake made – including by people who SHOULD have known better.

WHY?

I blame it on lose values.

 

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Footnote: now WORDPRESS is TAKING THE PISS! Its SpellChecker RED-UNDERLINED “lose” in the above sentence and when I clicked on it, it suggested – “loose”.

WHAT???!

I actually found myself CHECKING on Wordweb – just to make sure I had not LOST MY MIND!!!

Jul
14

America’s War On Drugs…

…is a pointless waste of time and money. No-one who is intelligent AND honest would deny this. The reasons why are obvious, but for the record…

(1) Her (so far) forty-year-plus prohibition of recreational drugs has been no more successful than her fourteen-year prohibition of alcohol.

(2) As before, it has merely empowered major crime.

(3) Every time a low-level dealer or mule gets busted, a job opportunity is created which – thanks to the rewards available – will quickly be filled.

(4) Every time a major shipment is intercepted, the authorities trumpet their success. But the suppliers merely increase output to cover the “shrinkage”. And even if the bust IS significant enough to cause a temporary shortage of supply – the price is simply increased. The barons will still be able to fill the tanks of their Ferraris.

(5) Recreational drug use is a victimless crime. Its impact on society is far less damaging than the criminality that currently surrounds it.

(6) The VAST amount of money spent trying – and failing – to prevent it (cops, Customs, DEA, etc.) is MANY times what the cost would be, if the authorities simply paid to clean up the mess that legalisation would create.

(7) And that mess would be far less, if the drugs were manufactured by properly-set-up companies – instead of the back-street outfits which currently fill that role.

(8) And potential customers could be given neutral, non-judgemental “patient information” leaflets, which could explain the various substances’ pros and cons, instead of that information coming from unqualified friends – and dealers.

(9) America prides herself on FREEDOM – which means a citizen ought to be able to decide themselves, what they do with their mind and body.

(10) Which brings us to its effect on…

America’s (In-)Justice System…

When the Brave New World was first set up, its pioneers understandably wanted to create a society where cops kicking in doors with impunity would not happen. Many had just ESCAPED societies like that.

And so they came up with a system that would be FAIR to those accused of crimes.

This even extended to courts being forced to EXCLUDE evidence that was not gathered “correctly”.

However, it was not long before shyster lawyers began to EXPLOIT these “loopholes” to keep their clients out of jail. (“Since the police failed to identify themselves properly, give the murderer his gun BACK!”)

But those who could not AFFORD shysters began filling America’s jails. Nothing unusual in that. But when she instigated her current recreational drugs policy, those numbers swelled to EPIC proportions.

America now has MORE of her population incarcerated than ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. A QUARTER of the prisoners in the WORLD are behind AMERICAN BARS – which has lead to MASSIVE overpopulation of America’s prisons.

And it is this which has forced her to rethink her whole (in-)justice system.

The result? Well, today, with America’s jails no longer capable of handling their inmate numbers, most sentences get reduced – and with her courts unable to handle the “flow of traffic”, most cases get “plea-bargained” out.

This results in early releases for serious criminals – and shorter sentences for real crimes. All of which benefits American society not one jot.

So what can she do about this farcical situation? Well, the solution is surprisingly SIMPLE. She could do with recreational drugs what she did with BOOZE, back in 1933. Legalize and regulate them. Then set free all prisoners who were inside solely on drug offences, where they had committed no crimes affecting others.

In this World obsessed by money, there has been talk of TAXING recreational drugs. But this is an IRRELEVENT DIVERSION.

The BENEFITS TO SOCIETY and the MONEY SAVED by execution of this straightforward repeal would be MASSIVE – and immediate.

Cops would be able to devote their time to solving REAL crimes – the ones that DO affect society.

The DEA could go and find CONSTRUCTIVE work.

Customs could concentrate on their original duties.

America’s jail population would shrink DRASTICALLY.

And her courts could finally spend the time needed to do THEIR job properly – dispense JUSTICE.

——————–

I am taking the (for me) unprecedented step of “promoting” a comment – and its reply – to the piece itself.

“C” wrote the following…

I would be all for not arresting and jailing drug users but making all drugs legal, that is the dumbest idea I have heard in a long time.  Legal meth and heroin would put even more people in danger if becoming addicts.  The war on drugs has been unsuccessful because cops can arrest the low hanging fruit (the users or addicts) and not have to focus on the upper part of the distribution hierarchy out of fear of what the cartels would do to them if given the chance.  DEA agents have to be willing to put themselves in danger in order to get the real criminals.  People who make and distribute meth should be locked up, if you have ever had a friend or loved one who had a meth habit this would be obvious.  Pot should not be illegal at any level but you are wrong about many other drugs.  Being illegal does not stop people from using them but it is a deterrent to some and making them legal is throwing some of those people into a life of struggle against addiction.  C.

And I replied with the following…

Thank you for your comment. I don’t think we are in disagreement here. My piece was mostly about the damage the War On Drugs has done to America’s LEGAL SYSTEM. I only danced over the business of recreational drugs being illegal. I will now clarify that view.

I believe that USERS should not be any part of the legal system – however, manufacturers and suppliers SHOULD.

In my World, recreational drugs would have their blanket ban REMOVED. The reasons these bans were originally invoked are various – but they have ended up becoming a case of the government trying to stop people getting HIGH. And all that has achieved is the afore-mentioned pointless War.

What SHOULD be done is to remove users from the equation altogether and concentrate on those who manufacture and supply. But here is the difference – drugs would be treated as SUBSTANCES.

And each substance would be considered on its own MERIT. Thus drugs like cannabis and ecstacy would be considered relatively harmless and treated accordingly – while hallucinogenics like LSD would be considered more carefully – and substances like meth would be classed as POISONS and CONTINUE to be banned.

The net result of this would be that most people would be content to experiment with the less harmful drugs – which would be PROPERLY manufactured, with accompanying “patient information” – while the NASTY ones would find themselves classified along with arsenic and nitric acid.

I am not saying these measures would be easy to enforce – but they would simplify matters no end and leave the legal system – and its enforcement agencies – free to deal with the more serious aspects of the issue.

Like, number one – the cartels would find themselves downgraded from manufacturers of recreational drugs – to peddlers of POISONS. While manufacturers of “soft” drugs would become corporations who would be listed on the Stock Market – along with brewers and distillers of alcoholic drinks.

And, number two – highly addictive drugs like coke and heroin would be placed in an arena where control and regulation could reduce SOME of their more harmful effects.

It is a COMPLEX problem, for which people – as usual – require simple answers. But the simple answer of BANNING ALL recreational drugs is NOT working. It has not worked for over forty years – therefore I cannot see it working in the next forty.

Jul
09

Many years ago, I bought a bedside mains radio-alarm clock. It carried a classic British name – but was made in CHINA, “under license” – so had NOTHING to do with the British company whatsoever.

And being Chinese, first the radio conked out – then the ALARM. But I kept it, as having now retired – I had no NEED for alarms (and the radio always sounded like crap anyway – the volume pot was underrated).

But then the CLOCK fizzled out – so it was time to go shopping.

I acquired a snazzy NEW bedside mains alarm clock – STILL made in China – but this time, with a Chinese name.

Caixing. I looked them up on the Interweb, but the only Caixing in China… made WATER-PUMPS. So I’m guessing it wasn’t THEM.

Anyhoo – this new clock is a doozy. In addition to the time being displayed on four large 7SDs (with two blinking LEDs in the middle, that ALMOST line up correctly) it has smaller 7SDs for the month and date (the wrong way round – for AMERICA) and the TEMPERATURE (courtesy of a built-in thermocouple).

But the 7SD that caused me problems was one marked “Week”. Now at the time I bought the thing, it was the third week in January, so it said “3” – fine.

But the next day, it said “4” – which was confusing, as it was a Thursday – and I had thought week numbers changed on MONDAY.

But then on Friday, it had changed to “5” and then the penny dropped. They meant DAY of the week. Why didn’t they just PUT “Day” on the display?

Next day, it said “6” – fine again – it was Saturday.

But when I awoke on Sunday, it said “8” – EIGHT???

Even as an Atheist, I recall “And on the seventh day He rested” (well, six days of creating takes it OUT of you – even if you’re a GOD). So what the hell was this EIGHT?

I have looked at later models of my clock as they have appeared on market stalls – and they have now changed the display to read “Day” where mine reads “Week” – but since I do not shop on Sunday (like I said – I’m RETIRED) I have no idea whether they have corrected THAT little cock-up as well.

I suspect not, since it would require the designing of a new CHIP.

But of course, this highlights the problem with Chinese goods. While WE would be happier paying a little more for cheaply made but BETTER QUALITY goods – we are out of the loop.

It is the MIDDLE MEN – buyers and wholesalers – who purchase the stuff from the factories. And since their income depends on it – they always go for the CHEAPEST alternative, to make the most PROFIT.

Thus, if a British brolly costs five pounds wholesale, even though one made in China to the same standard might only cost ONE pound, they will STILL go for the one that leaves the factory gate at 50p.

It will make them more MONEY – but you and I are the ones left getting WET when it FALLS APART!

Jun
23

A number of organisations (mostly in America) claim success in “curing” men of their homosexual desires. This author has no idea how they manage it – but suggests they try strapping them down in front of THIS PICTURE…

Jun
19

One day back in 1986, I was watching afternoon TV – when suddenly the picture broke up and a voice announced they were going over to the newsroom for a newsflash. At the time, this was unusual – so quick-thinking, I slammed a blank video-cassette into the machine and hit “record”.

What I ended up with, was one of the most POWERFUL pieces of video in my collection.

A news cameraman had been despatched to film what SHOULD have been a routine puff piece – reaction shots of the Interested Parties in the bleachers, at the latest Shuttle launch. But what he ended up filming was EXTRAORDINARY.

As the Shuttle exploded, 74 seconds in, those who were familiar with launches knew their relatives or loved ones were DEAD – however, the many people who were attending their FIRST launch initially assumed the explosion was merely separation of the vehicle’s stages.

Thus, as some faces became wreathed with PAIN – others were still in awe at the majesty of it all.

But as word of what had ACTUALLY happened began to spread through the crowd like a slow cancer – those faces too became angst-ridden.

Meanwhile, the cameraman carried on doing his JOB – scanning the crowd for reaction shots. He knew plenty of other cameras would be covering the space vehicle itself.

But here’s the thing – when his work aired on the evening news bulletins, it had been edited down to just a few seconds of STERILE CLIPS.

However – I was one of the FEW people who had his FULL, UNCUT, RAW footage – and in 2009, I uploaded it to YouTube.

I set the comments to “must be approved”, to weed the inevitable anti-American/trollish/inappropriate ones out – and have so far had over 500 acceptable comments from those who were as moved by the footage as I have always been, every time I view it (which is RARELY, as it STILL has enormous power).

The piece has so far had nearly half a million hits. And it obviously affects other people in the same way it affects me. The reason being that it represents a look into something that is rare, in this World.

Its DARK side – UNCUT. And it is THAT which moves one.

The news business has always concentrated on human tragedy, rather than just NUMBERS. This is because people can IDENTIFY with it. Stalin famously said that one death was a tragedy – a million was a statistic.

And this is demonstrated by the facts. On “9/11” three thousand people died – whereas HERE, a few years later, the Boxing Day Tsunami killed around three HUNDRED thousand. But which event got the most coverage?

While the Third World has TERRIBLE statistics (if the infant mortality rate in a Western country was HALF what it is in Africa, it would be treated as the number one priority in that country) – a donkey stuck down a well in Nuneaton becomes headline news.

At the end of the day, the prominence of the “story” is governed by the media which covers it. Unfair – but a fact of life.

Cosmically speaking, in our modern World – ALL preventable and unnatural death is a tragedy.

The little kid killed by bad water in India, the uncared-for kitten squashed by a car, the millions abused by tyrannical regimes, the thousands of gullible young men and women sent off to fight old men’s wars for them.

And a small group of brave individuals trying to push the envelope of exploration, in a vehicle comprised of thousands of components – each built by the lowest bidder.

Our reaction to these events depends largely on how the story reaches us. On rare occasions, it may be through personal experience (I once emerged unscathed from a train wreck – see elsewhere, in these chronicles) but more often it is through the medium of a cynical press or TV news outlet.

But while informing us of events – these media are also in the business of SANITIZING what we actually see.

During the Sixties’ Vietnam War, freed from the control of the DOD censors (Vietnam was a “police action” – not a war) the news services showed the TRUTH about war, to the World.

However, the World did not LIKE seeing burned babies, while eating their dinner. And so, since that time, the media have PULLED BACK from portraying the cruel realities of life in their full inglory.

And as a result, they fail to do their damn JOB.

The crowd shots at the Challenger disaster were shown as RAW FOOTAGE by CNN – in the days when that service still had TEETH – although even THEY CUT it from later bulletins, once they realised what it WAS.

And that was a PEEK into the REAL WORLD. A place where mankind is capable of GLORY – and immense STUPIDITY. Stupidity which often results in TRAGEDY.

For those who can TAKE it – here IS that peek…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd7dxmBLg48

May
30

I have always had a soft spot for Chuck Lorre.

We are both men – both writers – and were born just six weeks apart. But there, our similarities end.

Chuck has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame – I once won first prize in a road safety competition.

Chuck has written and produced six highly successful American sitcoms – I write this.

He is rich and I am poor.

But I have a foreskin – so there.

Anyhoo – Chuck has had a rough time of late – thanks to Charlie Sheen’s hyper rants and subsequent abandonment of his most popular current show, “Two And A Half Men”.

But C.B.S. was not about to give up on one of their most highly-rated shows and so has plonked Ashton Kutcher into its vacant starring role.

And THERE is Chuck’s Golden Opportunity – because “Two And A Half Men” has just ended its (slightly truncated) eighth season – and even the greatest American sitcoms of ALL TIME have rarely seen a twelfth.

Of course, an unimaginitive dolt would simply carry on the same format with the new actor – rather like “Bewitched” when Dick York busted his back and Dick Sargent became the new Darrin. No-one noticed the difference after a couple of weeks.

Ironically, Charlie Sheen got HIS sitcom break when Parkinson’s forced Michael J Fox to give up HIS starring role in THAT.

However, I cannot believe Chuck will take that option. There were plenty of other actors in the frame for Charlie’s role – but instead of going with a guy like him, they went with his antithesis – someone Arnie would call “a girlie-man.”

Therefore, while most will be expecting Season Nine to open in Charlie’s beach-house – I expect it to open with a car interior. And in that car will be Alan and Jake.

I will leave the dialogue to Chuck, but I imagine it will centre on the altercation that has just taken place between Charlie and Alan, resulting in the latter being finally ejected – with offspring – from the former’s domicile.

A few in-jokes at Mr Sheen’s expense later – and the vehicle will roll up outside a house that has been established, during the course of the conversation, as belonging to ANOTHER of Alan’s relatives.

A NEW lead character – and a new SET.

Thus in one bound we will have… A SPINOFF!!

Oh yes. Make no mistake. Historically (hysterically, even) a spinoff can last as long as the series off from which it span (I think that’s right).

And while “The Big Bang Theory” is now well established and “Mike And Molly” is doing okay – I am sure Chuck will not mind a third string to his bow. Particularly one which is already tried and tested.

Indeed, Charlie’s meltdown may have given Chuck MAJOR aggro – but it could just be the best thing that ever happened to him.

Footnote: sometimes a thing that SEEMS bad at the time can be a blessing in disguise. I am reminded of a Disney cartoon where this guy (actually, it was a duck) got a blowout. No big deal for most – except THIS guy was SUPER-LUCKY. He was MORTIFIED – until a cop turned up and warned him about the bridge that had collapsed, just around the corner he would have been driving round, had his tyre not given out. So cheer up, Chuck. Charlie may have been YOUR flat tyre (sorry, tire).

May
21

Oh dear, Ken Clarke has got himself in hot water again – for declaring there are various “degrees” of rape.

And thanks to the injustices of the past having been smothered by Political Correctness – resulting in the pendulum swinging TOO FAR, creating INVERSE injustices – there are plenty of people ready to call for his HEAD.

But is this fair? NO.

Granted, there is no such thing as COMEDY rape – unless you include the prostitute who, when a punter’s cheque bounced, said, “Damn, I just got raped again.”

But OF COURSE there are degrees of rape.

If a person jumps out of some bushes and drags a jogger into them and puts a knife to their throat and forces them to have SEX with them, then that is full-on, throw-away-the-key RAPE.

But that rarely happens.

Mostly, people get raped by someone they know.

The classic is date-rape. In the past, if a woman entered a man’s abode “unaccompanied” – she was deemed to be automatically making herself “available” to him.

And this is still true today – in PRIMITIVE societies.

But in the West, we have moved on. A woman is not available to a man until she gets into BED with him – or at least, gets her kit off. Even then, they could simply be sleeping together – LITERALLY.

However, this is where lines become blurred.

The monster in the bushes is one thing – but what about the man who is in bed with a woman, with the act in PROGRESS – and just as he is about to climax, she panics and says stop – and he does not?

And then comes the whole question of where seduction ends – and coercion begins.

But where things become a TOTAL mess is “rape within marriage” – or a relationship.

Pre-PC, rape within marriage was simply not considered. It was known that some relationships were based on dominant/submissive role-playing – and that was a game the cops did NOT want to become a part of.

Indeed, unless a woman presented with MAJOR injuries, the cops did not want to know – and even then, they were only concerned with PHYSICAL assault, not sexual.

And one can understand their point. If a man and woman are in a RELATIONSHIP, rape alone should NOT be considered. Things have come to a pretty poor pass if men and women need to take their LAWYERS to bed with them, every time they are contemplating making love.

However, there is an exception to this. If a woman has called an END to a relationship and the man comes AFTER her and forces himself on her, that IS rape – even though they have been intimate before.

But the cops need to make DAMN SURE she really HAS ended the relationship – and not just had an argument with her husband.

Recently, Julian Assange was reported for rape. And while this writer was not THERE when the acts in question took place – the reports he has read suggest that Assange’s case definitely falls into the “non-serious” category.

So while this writer never thought he would find himself agreeing on ANYTHING with Ken Clarke – on this occasion he has to concur.

Political Correctness was invented to stop serious injustices – like racial bigotry, child abuse and rape – things which, in less enlightened times, were generally swept under the carpet.

But as that pendulum swung, it created a whole slew of NEW problems. Therefore, as is generally the case with these things, a little MODERATION is needed.

As a crime, rape carries a variety of penalties – including LIFE IMPRISONMENT – hardly a fitting punishment for a date that went a bit too far.

And justice systems are far from an exact science – particularly in America.

So while a human being MUST have the right to say NO to a sexual encounter – and there need to be legal penalties to REINFORCE that right – we need to be VERY careful when APPLYING them.

May
15

Back in the late Eighties, Channel Four (UK) began a TV show called “After Dark” – a live, late-night, open-ended discussion, between eight or nine people, with a presenter or moderator.

They sat around a long, low table, in armchairs and sofas – with the background in darkness – in which the cameras unobtrusively circled.

The show eventually fizzled out, thanks in part to the night Ollie Reed turned up drunk and embarrassed himself – a situation which was exacerbated when Victor Lewis-Smith rang up, pretending he was talking for Michael Grade and demanded the programme be taken off the air.

Which in turn resulted in a farce whereby they did so, substituting a black and white documentary on coal-mining – until they discovered Grade was on his boat and they had been hoaxed. The programme then resumed.

So what has all of this got to do with comedy? Well, every week the show would tackle a different subject, with appropriate guests.

And one week, they announced that this week, the subject would be COMEDY – and the guests would be comedy performers, writers and producers.

GREAT, I thought! At last, we would get a comprehensive, SERIOUS discussion about that subject. In the past, such discussions had degenerated into wallows through comedy nostalgia – or just ended up as joke-fests, with the comics trying to outdo each other.

However, my joy was short-lived. The series’ remit included addressing any topical issues that emerged – at which time, the planned subject would be postponed. Such a topic arose, that week.

And thus, what could have been the most MEMORABLE episode of the programme was LOST – to some political issue I cannot even remember – and it NEVER arose again. Tragedy.

So now, having been for half a century a student of showbusiness in general (and comedy in particular) I propose to attempt what After Dark FAILED to provide – a serious examination of the business of HUMOUR…

I should first admit that I have no PROFESSIONAL qualifications for such an examination. I once did five minutes at an Open Mike night, without TOTALLY dying on my arse – and I also once did some business at the Whitehall Theatre (on national TV) that got a few laughs. But that is it.

However, I AM a writer (I’m writing THIS, aren’t I?) And comedy is a close relative of drama – the idiot brother, perhaps. (See?)

And so I can tell you that drama is a three-act play. The first act sets up the situation and characters. The second introduces a new wrinkle – either a character or situation that throws the status quo into disarray.

Then the situation develops until Act Three, where the piece must achieve some sort of resolution, redemption, revelation, result – or another “R” word. And ultimately, it should deliver SOME statement about the human condition – in a way which is memorable.

But there is also the TWO-act play. Here, essentially, the first two acts are compressed into one. This tends to mean that background information regarding the situation and characters is introduced AS the development takes place.

In book form, the three-act play is a novel – and the two-act play, a short story, or novella.

Which is where COMEDY comes in.

There are many forms of comedy – satire (which, using comedy, will always drive a point home FAR more effectively than HOURS of LECTURING) farce, abstract, observation, slapstick (my personal favourite) character, situation, etc.

But – not having a WEEK to write this – I will concentrate on the humble JOKE.

My favourite gag for illustrating what comedy is, is supplied by the great Phyllis Diller. It runs thus… “My husband is so dumb – he bought a pet zebra and called it Spot.”

In just FOURTEEN WORDS – you have a three-act play. Act One: set up the situation and characters – her husband is dumb. Act Two: introduce the new wrinkle and develop the story – he bought a pet zebra. And Act Three: the resolution – and called it Spot.

You see, in a joke, you are following all the rules of drama – the only difference is, in the last act you are standing the thing on its HEAD.

Having set up a conventional situation, in one or two lines, the resolution is expected to be one thing – but you deliver something else.

Indeed, in showbiz, this device is not limited to comedy. Magic, for instance, uses it too. Most illusions are not too hard for an intelligent person to work out. The entertainment comes from your expectation of one thing – but you get something else instead. Substitution tricks RELY on this principle.

But to return to gags – the best are stories which are STRIPPED DOWN to their most basic elements. We do not need to know Phyllis’ husband’s name – it is irrelevant to the joke. Furthermore, we do not need to know how or why he obtained the zebra.

The only important factor is the final SWITCH. And the best gags reserve the “joke word” for the END – preferably (like in this one) as the LAST WORD. And as a bonus here – said word is short and SPIKY.

If you have to qualify the gag by adding words AFTER the joke word, the piece loses its EDGE – in fact, comedians will often sacrifice good grammar to FORCE that joke word to last place in the punch line.

So there it is. Hardly a comprehensive exploration of the subject of humour – merely a discussion of the technique of gag construction.

But After Dark had HOURS to examine the subject – and a roster of professionals to DO so. The boring subject that replaced the rare opportunity should be roundly CURSED – along with the Channel Four prat who allowed it to take the place of what SHOULD have been a LEGENDARY NIGHT.

Damn their eyes.

May
12

These are direct quotes from CNN…

[following the completion of her trial for nicking a necklace] “Lindsay Lohan must report to jail by June 17, to begin serving a 120-day sentence…”

So – four months in an orange suit. That’s tough.

“Because of budget constraints…non-violent offenders…get 20% of their sentence.”

Oh – so she will only have to serve 24 days, then. A little over three weeks.

“Early release formulas…will likely reduce the sentence to about 14 days in jail.”

Two weeks. Still, at least the short, sharp shock in The Grey Bar Hotel will teach her a lesson.

“Lohan likely qualifies to serve her sentence in home confinement, instead of a jail cell…”

WHAT??? You mean she’s just GROUNDED for two weeks??

If I ever get a jail sentence – I hope I am living in Los Angeles.

May
11

I do not see what all the FUSS is about.

In My Day, we had to get up at the crack of dawn, then traipse to school, where we would be bored rigid with facts we cared little about, forced to drink warm, curdley milk, be ritually humiliated by sadistic sports masters, have board-rubbers thrown at us by ALL masters if we did not at least PRETEND to take notice of what they were droning on about – and get CANED if we goofed around.

We would have WELCOMED the alternative of doing a bit of stitching in a nice, warm room.

Kids today – they don’t know they’re born.

May
10

Let us get one thing clear from the start – Thai wages are around ONE-TENTH the rate earned in the West.

With that in mind – it is interesting to see what the fast food franchises’ PRICES are like, here in the Land Of Smiles.

Dairy Queen’s are quite reasonable. But I once visited a Baskin-Robbins – never again.

At least those humourless nerks at McDonalds charge somewhat less than they do back in Blighty – however, KFC do NOT.

And of late, that franchise has been garnering ATTENTION for this fact.

I AM TOLD (I don’t want the Cross-eyed Colonel coming after me with his shotgun) that the current price for a particular meal in New Zealand is 140 Baht – compared with 130, for the same meal here.

So given that chicken is dirt cheap here – and wages low – SOMEONE is making a SHIT-LOAD OF MONEY. It ain’t the Louisville Lick (this is a FRANCHISE, remember). And it CERTAINLY ain’t those staff.

(Again) I AM TOLD the wage in New Zealand is around 290 baht per hour – while here in Thailand, it is 27. Yes – twenty-seven baht per hour. (That is around 50p, British – 80c, American).

Thus, I HEAR, most employees pretty much LIVE on the chicken that is left over, when they close.

I will never again moan at an employee, when they screw up my order…

May
01

I recall an occasion when I was driving down a country lane, on my way to a show-business party.

The unfamiliar route – combined with my speed, due to my eagerness to hob-nob with celebrities – caused me to lose control of my vehicle on a sharp corner and pile into a tree.

The car was CRUSHED – but since I had been wearing a seatbelt, whilst being TRAPPED in the mangled automobile, I was relatively unscathed.

After a few minutes, a car came along. It contained Tommy Cannon, Bobby Ball and their wives – who, as it turned out, were on their way to the same party as myself. Seeing my predicament, they stopped to help.

This was YEARS before mobile phones, so Bobby and his wife drove off to look for a telephone, to ring the emergency services – leaving Tommy and his wife to help me all they could.

Which turned out to be a break for me – since it resulted in my being dragged from the wreckage by the Cannons.

My name’s Damien – don’t forget to tip your waitress!

Apr
28

For years now, anti-O’Bamas have been baying for a look at POTUS’s birth certificate.

Initially, the computer record of same was issued – but the “Birthers” were unimpressed.

So now, the FULL, ORIGINAL version has been released.

The Birthers had been convinced that even if it DID prove O’Bama was American – it would contain some other piece of information that would be embarrassing to the President.

They were right.

His mother’s name is STANLEY!

Apr
26

When WW2 started, car production in the UK ceased, to allow the factories to make bombs, tanks and planes, etc. In any case, people did not NEED cars during the war – petrol was as scarce as unicorns’ tears.

But when the argument was settled, production slowly restarted. At first Ford began production on the Ford Popular – a PRE-WAR design, that the afore-mentioned scuffle had postponed. However, it didn’t look SO odd, since there were thousands of pre-war cars that now saw the light of day for the first time in YEARS – having been put in hibernation, during the hostilities.

Of course, in America, not being in a total war situation (no-one dropped bombs on THEM) auto factories continued regardless. And despite things being tight – they continued development.

But in 1960s Britain, the streets were still littered with these pre-war relics, many of which had technology from the dark ages – cable brakes and the like.

Thus the Ministry Of Transport came up with a thing called “Ten Year Tested” – which was a VOLUNTARY scheme, to show your car was SAFE.

But it did not take long for the MOT to upgrade the scheme to MANDATORY – and shorten the period to THREE years. And THAT was the cause of the problem.

As is usual with these things, they started with good intentions – then went STUPID. At first, the MOT inspection covered brakes, suspension, tyres, steering and so on. But by the late Seventies, it was encompassing catalytic converters, windscreens – in fact just about EVERYTHING.

Cars had to practically be in SHOWROOM condition to get through the tests.

Which meant if you had a ten year old car that was worth three grand – but it needed three grand’s worth of repairs to get it through the test – it was WORTHLESS. Despite being perfectly safe and in reasonable condition.

And the situation Stateside is little better. Recently MILLIONS of reasonably good cars got TRASHED, during the “Cash For Clunkers” campaign.

But here in the Orient – things are different. I bought a ’94 Mitsu Galant Ultima in 2002 for four grand. Today, it is still worth three – despite now being SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD.

Of course, at ten years of age, it virtually fell APART – being made in Japan, where cars can only GET a test certificate if they are less than ten years old (one assumes Rolls’s and “classics” are exempt).

However, I kept getting it fixed and today, it has not given me trouble for several years.

When I escaped Blighty, I HAD intended bringing my UK car with me (in the container – it can be done) but I discovered a Thai bureaucrat had changed the rules, now making the prospect impractical.

So, since I needed wheels right up until I reached Heathrow, I sold my car for a reasonable sum – and bought a legal “banger” for seventy-five quid, which I fully intended to LEAVE in the airport car-park, with the key, documents and a note on the driver seat saying, “Free car – take it – it’s YOURS!” (In the event, a friend took it from me, having took the Tube out to the airport, to meet me).

But the thing is – the “banger” was only worth seventy five quid because it would have needed a grand’s worth of work doing to get it through its next MOT. In Thailand, the work would only have cost a couple of hundred – and then it would have been worth at least TWO GRAND!

(It was a fairly clean Vauxhall Cavalier that only needed a new non-return valve on the fuel line – a plate welding under the driver floor-pan – a new hazard flasher switch – a new radio aerial – a new battery carrier – and – but this one would have COST – a new thrust bearing for the clutch – the old one was NOISY, when the clutch was engaged).

And THAT’S the problem. While nobody wants their roads to be filled with cars that are DEATH-TRAPS – the ridiculously fierce MOT means the West constantly THROWS AWAY cars that have PLENTY of practical use left in them.

Of course, motor manufacturers would claim their cars are 99% “recyclable” – but they speak from their arseholes. Steel is plentiful and the other bits not worth saving. Plus they conveniently forget about the resources used in BUILDING the things. A big factory where they are assembled – and a host of smaller ones where the bits are made.

So thanks to that blasted MOT, every year, THOUSANDS of perfectly good cars are JUNKED. The West has become a “throwaway” society.

And it is the same with EVERYTHING.

Once upon a time, consumer electrical goods were built by hand – component by component – and cost a fortune. So there was a repair shop on every street corner. But now, they are all boxes full of printed circuit boards and are given away with Corn Flakes.

But once their extended warranties (when stores found themselves forced, by governments, to SERVICE their products for a year – they decided they might as well make some MONEY from their service departments) have run out, TVs, fridges et al  find themselves on the scrap-heap, when often only a minor repair job could have got them on their feet once more.

Before I walked away from it, I WAS a service engineer. But by the early Nineties, I was already becoming an endangered species. Now repair costs are now so high, people just throw stuff away when ANYTHING goes wrong with it.

And thanks to automation, the NEW COST of those items has never been LOWER.

BUT… this World has only so many resources – and if we do not begin to REVERSE these destructive practises, the goods we make will start to get more EXPENSIVE again – because of the rising costs of THE RESOURCES.

You heard it here first…

Apr
15

A girl walked into a pub and asked the barman for a double entendre… so he GAVE HER ONE!

(Da-da-da-daah…my name’s Damien…don’t forget to tip your waitress!)

Mar
21

The current spot of bother in Libya has brought into focus the big problem with war as it is fought today. Anyone my age (58) who has been paying attention will have realised that since the early Seventies, whilst the Quality Of Life has been going steadily down the dumper, the one thing that has improved is TECHNOLOGY.

And of course, the first people to take advantage of new tech have ALWAYS been the military. Thus today, instead of carpet bombing thousands of civilians – which puts people off the idea, when the cutting-edge news services start showing burned babies – a First World power can launch high-tech military assaults using drones and smart bombs, which arrive at their destination with pin-point accuracy, courtesy of the GPS system.

Thus an entire Second World nation’s military can lose its air cover and be rendered deaf, dumb and blind in a matter of hours, with few if any casualties suffered by the attacker – or the Second World nation’s civilians. Neat.

But then comes the PROBLEM. Because at that point, you have to send in GROUND FORCES – something America for one is a bit SHORT of. Why? Well – the recruitment methods employed, where the poor are conned into joining up, was graphically shown in Michael Moore’s film “Fahrenheit 9/11” – and then some dipstick banned SMOKING in the military, thus alienating another 20% of potential recruits – and these days, even the young have heard about PTSD.

Meanwhile, those troops America DOES possess are tied up in Iraq, sorting out the mess George Wan – sorry, WaLker Bush created. And Afghanistan, trying to win the war America would have won YEARS ago – had the same man not pulled away the resources, to try to finish the job his Pappy had started in Iraq, a couple of decades earlier.

Which is why America is sitting this one OUT. Oh sure, they will help with the TECH end of the war – but when the time comes to put personnel ON THE GROUND, Britain and France will be on their OWN.

And that will be when the REAL war starts. But it won’t be like war in the good old days – when the combatants were all dressed up in uniforms and knew who the Other Side were. No, this time they will be facing a bunch of people who all look much the SAME.

Plus they will not even have the luxury of assuming boys and women are non-combatants.

This thing could last a long, LONG time…

Mar
20

…is one of the most POINTLESS exercises of our time. And it has now been going on for some FORTY YEARS – which is longer than most REAL wars.

Pointless? Hear me out…

First, there is the whole CONCEPT of Prohibition. It has been said that a man who makes a mistake is not a fool – the man who makes no mistakes makes NOTHING – but a man who makes a mistake, then repeats his actions while expecting a different result – IS a fool.

And since, fifty years earlier, America had introduced Prohibition of alcohol – resulting in chaos, many deaths and the empowerment of organised criminals – you could be forgiven for wondering what possessed them to REPEAT that fiasco, with recreational drugs.

But repeat it they did – and four decades on, the fiasco continues.

Oh sure, every now and then, they proudly display their latest haul of confiscated product – and occasionally, an arrested drug baron.

But another baron will immediately take his place and up the output by enough to cover the ten-percent-max product the DEA manages to intercept.

And even if they DO manage to make a significant temporary dent in the supply, the barons cannot lose. A shortage on the street will simply drive up prices. The barons will still be able to afford to drive their Lambos and pay for their bimbos.

Likewise when they nail yet another “mule” – the rewards are so high, they are merely creating a job opportunity.

And what of the enormous WASTE of resources? Cops, the DEA, Customs and the Prison Service. In America, most prisoners are incarcerated – either directly or indirectly – over drugs. Indirectly, being petty crime that was only undertaken by those trying to support a VERY expensive habit.

Those who speak against legalization and regulation of recreational drugs are quick to point out that said action would result in an increase in resources needed to handle addicts. But they conveniently forget the FAR greater cost of the War.

Then what about the PUBLIC that war is directed against? If drugs were legalized and regulated, they would get “patient information” leaflets, to allow them to gain the important knowledge required to handle the substances – rather than receiving it from friends and pushers.

Furthermore, they would know the strength of said substances – which would drastically cut the number of over-doses – and be able to rest assured that the substances had been prepared in proper laboratories, not cooked up in some back-street factory where contamination was rife.

Not to mention they would no longer be at the mercy of guys trying to move them off “safe” drugs like hash and Ecstasy – to FAR more harmful (and ADDICTIVE) substances.

Again, those who favour retaining the current system (and who are SUPPORTING the drug barons) will claim that legalization and regulation would BOOST the number of users. Really?

I would counter that if you walked down the street offering passers-by FREE crack cocaine and heroin – almost all of them would tell you where to STICK them.

The average person would be more than happy to stick to hash and Ecstasy – and leave the other stuff to those desperate individuals who will get the stuff anyway.

In other words, little would change – except we would save BILLIONS in money – and our jails would have HALF the number who currently languish there.

Plus our society would be TRULY free.

Footnote: this writer lives in a land where – thanks to pressure from America – DRACONIAN drug laws exist. And since he does not need the aggravation, the strongest substance HE enjoys – is the STRAIGHT cigarette he is smoking right now. But if things were different, he would LOVE to try the hash that exists today – it is WAY stronger than that which existed in HIS day!

Mar
16

The thing that boils my bacon about Creationists is that LOADED question they always ask Darwinists – “So you believe everything in the World came about by RANDOM ACCIDENT?” – thus making US sound illogical.

NO! Darwin claimed no such thing. He developed the theory of EVOLUTION. Which is a LOGICAL PROGRESSION of events.

It is CREATIONISTS who are illogical. Whilst propounding a neat, tidy SINGLE explanation for EVERYTHING – they cheerfully overlook the fact that it’s BOLLOCKS!

The most intellectual theosophist in the World can be DEMOLISHED by any reasonably imaginative FIVE-YEAR-OLD. All the kid has to do is say – “If God made Man… who made God?”

I rest my case.

Mar
14

I hear the Iranian team – after talks – have elected to take part in the 2012 Olympics. Apparently, they had been concerned that the official Olympic logo looked like “ZION” (which is obvious bollocks – it clearly spells “ZOIR”) and wanted to continue their glorious record in the games. Last time, one of their athletes took gold in Telmequando.

This is merely the first in what promises to be a farrago of sillies concerning said logo. Apparently, an ad agency which rhymes with Wolff Olins took a YEAR to come up with the gay-looking, spiky mess and then charged FOUR HUNDRED GRAND for it.

My DOG could have designed a better logo. Tee-shirt, anyone?

Mar
11

Mensa began as a small club for egg-heads, immediately following WW2.

But when I joined (with one point to spare) in the early Nineties, its numbers had swelled to thousands.

This was due in large part to one Harold Gale, BA – whose BUSINESS acumen had resulted in umpteen new people (including THIS writer) to join up.

Sadly, this golden period in British Mensa’s history was not to last. Clive Sinclair and his cronies SACKED Harold in circumstances which many saw as having been grossly unfair.

And a number believed that Harold’s death, a short while later, may well have resulted from Mensa’s hounding of him.

But of course, Mensa Magazine reported NONE of this, preferring as ever to concentrate on its “society” pages, while its INTERESTING contributors – along with nearly half of British Mensa’s membership – slowly drifted away.

Which is a damn shame – since Mensa fills a VITAL role in British society.

The thing is, the “gifted” offspring of university professors and the like can generally expect to go through “good” schools – leading to jobs where they will continue to find themselves surrounded by those same gifted people.

But people born to AVERAGE folk, who happen – by a genetic fluke – to be born similarly gifted, are likely to grow up in standard schools, surrounded by kids who, to them – are MORONS.

And then, they will often find themselves in jobs peopled by GROWN UP morons. Those who like to do things the hard way, to look BUTCH.

And when they use their analytical skills to save time and effort, they are told in no uncertain terms they are WRONG.

And it is hard to reconcile the fact that THEY are right and everyone AROUND them is wrong – without feeling like a MEGALOMANIAC.

Which is where Mensa’s strength lies.

It brings together people whose only commonality is their high IQ. Brain-wise, they are the top two percent of humanity.

And thus, at a pub meeting, they can talk to OTHER people who will assure them that they WERE right and all their work-mates were WRONG!

When I went to these meetings, I used to wear a badge I had acquired YEARS earlier which – coincidentally – was in Mensa’s colours (black and gold) and read, “I’M SURROUNDED BY IDIOTS!”

I was persuaded to stop wearing it…

Feb
22

I love instruction manuals that contain things like, “To switch appliance on, move switch from ‘off’ position to ‘on’ position”

No shit, Sherlock. I’d NEVER have worked THAT out.

Then there are shampoo bottles…

Wow – WET my hair first.

But today I found a NEW one that beats even those. It comes from Sony and it’s printed on a “Silicone Sealant” caulking-gun refill (apparently Sony has a chemicals division).

Underneath the legend, “High Quality Silicone Rubber Base Sealant” – written in an oblong box, it says – and I SWEAR I’m not making this up – “FOR INDUSTRIAL USE ONLY: NEVER USE THIS PRODUCT FOR IMPLANTATION OR INJECTION INTO HUMAN BODIES.” End quote.

What???

It seems that Sony figure somewhere, some redneck will be watching the Miss Universe Beauty Contest (sorry – PAGEANT) and after seeing all of those contestants (sorry – PAGEANTEES) will look at his wife, remember his caulking gun and think, “Hmm – get her drunk – then a couple of small incisions with my carpet knife – why pay thousands of dollars to some clinic?”

And this is the thing. Americans are no more dumb than anyone else – probably – but they ARE highly LITIGIOUS. Only in America do companies have to etch the principle of convex driving mirrors onto each one.

It all goes back to when some bimbo successfully SUED McDonalds for a SEVEN-FIGURE-SUM after she burned her lips on one of their cups of coffee.

After THAT, you can understand their paranoia.

So the next time you see an instruction written on something, that seems to be telling you you’re an imbecile – don’t freak out. The company are not protecting you from your own stupidity – they are protecting THEMSELVES from the stupidity of the American Injustice System!

Feb
20

…is my age – but lacks my resourcefulness.

An immigrant to the West, his cardinal mistake was to go to BELFAST. He should have headed SOUTH – to the French Riviera.

Allow me to explain. He has just been JAILED for begging. He could not come up with the eighty quid fine handed down by a judge – who is obviously dumber than HIM – I mean, if the guy had eighty quid, he would not be begging, would he? And how would he come UP with that money? He would have to go out BEGGING. The words “egg” and “chicken” immediately spring to mind.

But Piotr could so easily have AVOIDED this farce if, instead of heading for the cold, wet misery of Belfast – he had headed SOUTH.

You see, thanks to an old law, begging is not only LEGAL in France – it is recognised as a PROFESSION.

And since, under the Single European Act of 1993, any European can work in any European country…

Yes, it is TRUE! Provided you beg NON-AGGRESSIVELY, you can make enough money in a morning to keep you going for the DAY, on the Riviera. And people do. And they LIVE ON THE RIVIERA!

Feb
11

…which was what the press quickly dubbed the encounter between Frostie and “Doctor” Emil Savundra.

The background was that Savundra, a Ceylonese (now Sri Lankan) businessman, black-marketeer, fraudster and general con-artist, had sold his ailing motor insurance company (it had launched with VERY low premiums – with predictable results) to its directors, just days before it collapsed, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without cover – and a large number with unpaid claims, many of whom suffered severe hardship as a result.

Things like this happen all the time, but the difference was that in 1967, Savundra was invited on Frost’s TV show to explain himself – and ACCEPTED. A supreme egotist, he figured he could best Frostie. And part of the reason he made this fatal error was he was STONED.

The thing was, he had a number of genuine ills (the only genuine things ABOUT him) and had been on pethidine – a potent morphine substitute – for years. This writer once had kidney stones and knows only too well how SERENE it makes you.

The battle of wits between Frost and Savundra was tame stuff compared to today – where such an event would be just another day at the office, for the likes of Paxman. Indeed, David was a minister’s son and had gone through the “right” schools – thus for him, politeness was the norm.

So the towering FURY he felt at Savundra’s posturing came across like mild irritation. However, in 1967, such a display on live TV was outrageous. And so the encounter became known as Trial By Television – and was widely referenced, for years afterwards.

Meanwhile, justice eventually caught up with Savundra. Shortly after the programme, he was arrested, tried, convicted and sent down for seven years. His lack of contrition lead to his incarceration in a full-on JAIL, instead of Ford Open Prison – where most white-collar criminals ended up.

The conditions there – coupled with his now chronic drug-addiction – meant he died only a few years after his release, aged just 53. His wife, who had stood by him during thirty years of double-dealing and court cases – died a few years later, aged just 57.

If you want to SEE the Frost-Savundra encounter, click – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFNQSLIpYss

Feb
10

I used to have a small computer business and one time, I managed to get a meeting with a CEO of a giant corporation, whom I hoped to pitch a new system to. If it went through, it would be worth millions.

However, on the morning of the meeting, his secretary rang to inform me that her boss had to fly to Bahrain on (more important) business – and therefore had to regretfully cancel our appointment.

Thinking quickly, I replied that I too had an important meeting (which of course, I didn’t) in New York tomorrow and would be taking the red-eye to that city, in a few hours. I suggested we could meet up at Heathrow.

It worked – and that afternoon, having shown the doorman the Queen’s portrait, I sat in the executive lounge, waiting for the CEO.

As my gaze wandered around the lounge, I noticed a VERY familiar face. It was Bill Gates, sitting alone drinking coffee. I recognised an opportunity.

I walked over to his table and said, “Sir – I’m terribly sorry to bother you, but I too am in computers – obviously in a much SMALLER way than yourself – and I wondered if you could help me?”

“I’m afraid my office handles all…” he began.

“Oh no,” I replied, “It’s nothing like that. The thing is, I have a meet here in a few minutes, with a very important client – and it would SERIOUSLY help my chances if he thought I knew YOU. I realize it’s an AWFUL imposition – but it occurred to me that if, once my meeting is underway, you could pass the table and say something like “Hi Damien, how’s it going?” – it would impress the HELL out of him.”

Bill chuckled, thought for a second and said, “Okay – sounds like fun. I’ll do it.”

“Oh, thank you VERY much, Sir.” I replied.

The minutes passed and Bill glanced over at my table every now and then. I thought the whole thing was not going to happen when, to my relief, I saw the CEO enter the lounge, look around and begin heading my way.

He settled down opposite me and I began my pitch. It was obvious the businessman was unimpressed by me – but then Bill sauntered over and said, “Hi Damien, how’s things?”

Looking up, I replied, “Oh, NAFF off Gates – can’t you see I’m having a meeting?”

The above story is ENTIRELY fictitious.
Feb
09

…which, if you read the SMALL print at the end of the show (you’ll have to freeze-frame it) is paid as an “annuity” over FORTY YEARS. Or the contestant can elect to receive a “lump sum” straight away.

So what is that ACTUALLY worth?

Well – if you are a member of a dance “crew” (cringe) – not so much. Let us say you go with the forty-year deal: it takes little mathematical skill to work out the annual payment – twenty-five grand.

So even if you are a SOLO act, the annual payment is less than a mediocre wage, in America. But if you are one of, say, TEN people (assuming you go for an even split) it works out to fifty bucks a week.

And then, there is depreciation. Fifty bucks, forty years AGO – would be worth about TWO bucks today!

Okay, what if you settle for that Lump Sum? Well – again, some simple maths reveals that the ACTUAL amount you would receive would likely be less than HALF of that million dollars. Then, in America, you’d have to pay TAX on it.

However, it is not all bad news. If you do WELL on AGT, you’ll become a STAR (albeit probably signed to Simon Cowell’s record company) and could get REAL millions for your appearances.

The real bugbear in all this is how Piers Morgan keeps BANGING ON about that “million dollar prize” in the show – like it’s a BIG DEAL.

It ISN’T.

And given it is just ONE payment, on a top-rated Summer show that runs for WEEKS (the first season was only nine eps, but each year it GROWS – the last season ran for THIRTY-ONE eps) and the fact it only costs SYCO (AGT’s prod. co.) around HALF that amount – their expenditure is MINIMAL, compared with the series’ overall budget.

So why don’t they just come CLEAN and say that an appearance on the show will make you FAMOUS – and that SEVERAL appearances will make you VERY famous – and that if you WIN, you’ll be VERY, VERY famous – and pick up a prize of half-a-million bucks, to BOOT?

Feb
08

I mean the ACTUAL King’s speech. HM King George VI (I have not seen the movie yet).

Poor old George – he never expected to BE king. A sickly youth, he had been happy to languish in the shadow of his older, more virile brother, Edward.

But when George V died and Edward became King Edward VIII, it was not to last.

The official reason for Edward’s abdication after less than a year on the throne was his love for Wallis Simpson – a haughty American woman who had been once-divorced and was still married (but not for long) to her second husband.

This was NOT ON. Queens of England are supposed (in theory) to be VIRGINS when they marry the King. At a pinch, an exception may be made in the case of a WIDOW – but Wally’s two husbands were still very much alive.

Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin made such a fuss that if Edward HAD married Wally and become King – the government would have had to resign. A Constitutional Crisis, then.

But there is reason to think that there was more going on even than this. Fact was, Edward (and indeed, the whole British royal family) had German roots and were SERIOUSLY right-wing.

Thus Edward had come out strongly against war with Germany – and had a number of ties to that country. This did not sit well with the British government, who were gearing up for another jolly war with the Huns – and may well have had more to do with the pressure put upon Edward to abdicate, than his involvement with Wally Simpson.

Either way, Edward DID quit, leaving his kid brother George in charge of The Firm.

And within three years, George found himself sitting at a BBC mic, expected to declare WAR on Germany. Enter the issue of the “stammer”…

The thing was, over on the other side of The Pond, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a far more serious shortcoming. He was virtually wheelchair-bound. But the West Wing managed to CONCEAL the fact from the American public, by having him stand, supported – or sit down, during all his public appearances.

But no-one considered doing anything to conceal George’s speech impediment – which despite being classed as a stammer (which would have been bad enough) was more of a nature that made him sound permanently DRUNK.

Of course, today it would be possible to “clean up” his speech using digital technology. But in 1939, there wasn’t even recording tape.

Well actually, that is not quite true. The GERMANS had recording tape. The technology was begun in 1928 and development continued through the Thirties. Hitler used it.

But despite his German roots, George could hardly have asked BASF to supply him with some tapes – to enable the boffins to clean up his DECLARATION OF WAR against them.

And at that time, the alternatives were few. Magnetic WIRE was available – but it was impractical to edit. Likewise disc recorders.

In fact, the only practical method would have been for George to have FILMED all of his appearances, making his speeches in a chair, with his head supported from behind to prevent movement – then a good editor could have lopped out a few frames here and there, to disguise most of his vocal aberrations.

Or they could have used a voice double – Churchill did, many times, but only when he was too busy to give radio speeches in person.

However, George was the KING – and in those days, you didn’t screw around with him.

Ironically, recording tape DID finally emerge Worldwide, around 1950 – but George was nearly finished by then anyway. He died a year later, aged just 56.

Elizabeth II took over The Firm and is still there today. And if she lives as long as her Mum, she is likely to remain for another twenty years – by which time, the Windsor Wingnut will be over 80 and may well pass the reins straight to William.

But that’s another story. Meanwhile, if you would like to HEAR George VI declaring war on the boche, hit – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMlyEdjwe5M

Feb
06

Roger Moore, his diminutive brother, Dudley – and his daughter, Demi.

Robert Taylor and his sister, Elizabeth – and their son, Rip.

General John Hendrix and his brother, Jimi.

Michael Jackson and his great, great, great, great, great-grandfather, Andrew.

Jeff Beck and his son, Glenn.

Perry Como and his brother, Joshua N.

David Cameron MP and his film-maker brother, James.

Newsreader John Suchet and his actor brother, David.

Feb
02

Hey, ho – it’s award season again. Of course, they’re utter bullshit – everyone knows awards are big business and only really a popularity contest for luvvies. Indeed, members of The Academy who are WORKING often give the forms to their DRIVERS to fill in.

And only “worthy” films get nominated – thus when Sean Connery made “Goldfinger” he got NOTHING. But when he played an Irish cop (who, naturally, spoke with an Edinburgh accent) in a straight film – he walked off with Best Supporting Actor.

Would he have even been nominated, had it not been for all those Bonds? Likewise, would Woody have collected for “Annie Hall” had he not made all those great genre spoofs before? Do me a favour – it’s called “Body Of Work”.

During this year’s Globes, Ricky Gervais put the whole thing into perspective. And this writer would LOVE to see more people taking his lead.

If YOU get a nod this year, when they read out the names in your category – sit there with a fixed grin, clutching a drink. But make sure the glass is a “sugar” one – then if they give the award to some other bugger – RETAIN your cheesy grin and SQUEEZE the glass, so it SHATTERS.

Or, as the names are being read out – look confident and take out a piece of A4 (your acceptance speech) and unwrap it. Then, if the name in The Envelope isn’t yours – THROW the piece of paper up in the air and look grumpy.

Thus when they do the montage shot – at least you’ll get a LAUGH.

In the unlikely event THIS reporter ever gets an award, he will take a leaf out of the John Cleese book of How To Accept An Award. For example…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUbluE9TV88

Jan
27

It is a proven fact that most HOMOPHOBIC men are in fact GAY men who, for a variety of reasons – upbringing, religion, peer pressure – are unable to face up to the orientation of their sexuality and “over-compensate” by becoming violently anti-gay.

But it is easy to “out” these guys. Simply ask them: “If you had to spend the rest of your LIFE on a DESERT ISLAND, with just ONE MAN or ONE WOMAN for company – but the woman was the single most DISGUSTING HAG that YOU PERSONALLY could imagine – while the man was the single most GORGEOUS CREATURE that, again, YOU PERSONALLY could imagine – which would you CHOOSE?”

IF they consider the question for so much as a SECOND – you can go “Ah-HAH!!!” They have proven a point.

And the point IS: we are NONE of us 100% straight – or 100% gay, for that matter. Rather, we are a complex mix of ATTRACTIONS and REPULSIONS. I mean – I’m as straight as they come, but even I’D turn for George Clooney!

To ILLUSTRATE the point, this writer offers TWO pieces that he has recently uploaded to YouTube. The first graphically shows how even a BABE (in this case, Morwenna Banks) can STILL turn a chap RIGHT off, if… well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so click – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k9VBwxF4Eo

And to see a practical demonstration of the Desert Island Syndrome, click – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdMBudq4m24

Jan
24

“Heroes, heroes – husky men of war,

Sons of all the heroes of the war before,

We’re all heroes, up to our ear-os,

You ask the questions,

We make suggestions,

That’s what we’re heroes for.”

Wha-at? Okay; try SINGING the above to the “Hogan’s Heroes March” (if you’re old enough to remember it) – it fits, doesn’t it?

That’s because the words are the first verse of the LYRICS to the theme from the Sixties TV series “Hogan’s Heroes” – even though they were never used.

And how about all those Hammer movies where, when befanged Chris Lee appeared, the music would go “DAN-da-daaaan, DAN-da-daaaan!” That’s “DRA-cu-laaaa, DRA-cu-laaaa!”

Fact is, nearly ALL Sixties film and TV themes have lyrics. You just never HEAR most of them.

Why? Well, it started when opportunistic record producers began dragging the stars of popular TV shows (or PROPER vocalists) into recording studios for the purpose of making MONEY on the backs of said shows.

Benny from “Crossroads”, Jon Pertwee, the then-Doctor Who – they all did it. Some of these efforts even became successful. Richard Chamberlain sang “Three Stars Will Shine Tonight” (somewhat flat) to the theme from “Doctor Kildare” – Rosemary Clooney sang “The Wonderful Story Of Love” (the “Peyton Place” theme) – and so on.

Of course, there were many others that FAILED in this endeavour, so the next time you hear a popular TV or film theme (particularly from the Sixties) that HAS no lyrics you’ve ever heard – try singing the title, or lead character’s name to it.

You’ll find it usually FITS!

Jan
19

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – “24” is a COMEDY. Every year, Jack has a BAD DAY. And every year, the writers try to ramp up the absurdities from the previous year.

But the MOST absurd aspect was that for the first few years, ALL of the TVs that were in shot – including the White House ones – had Fox “News” showing.

POTUS getting his/her news from FOX??! That would be like Pinky and Perky (Cameron and Clegg) reading THE SUN!

Of course, “24” is MADE by Fox – but Fox TV (or as they like to call themselves – “the NICE Fox”).

Thus around season five, it seems they decided that while Jack’s and POTUS’s excesses were hard to believe, the idea the US government got its news from FOX was stretching credibility TOO far – so then suddenly, the TVs all had a CNN-clone logo (I think it was GNN).

Fine. Except NOW, in season eight (the last) the FOX “News” logo on all the TVs has RETURNED!!

WHY?? One can understand Fox TV’s eagerness to DISTANCE itself from the hysterical right-wing tabloid rantings of its ugly sister network – even on a show like “24” – so why go BACK?

Footnote: The WordPress Spell-checker only objected to TWO words in the above piece – GNN (it was fine with CNN – and even POTUS, the acronym for President Of The United States) – and CLEGG. But the interesting thing was – it was ALSO fine with CAMERON. TRY it yourself – WordPress ACCEPTS Cameron but REJECTS Clegg. Make of THAT what you will!

SECOND footnote: In the ABOVE footnote, it also rejected WORDPRESS (inferiority complex?) – and Cameron in UPPER-CASE! Seems to me, there’s a subtext THERE as WELL! But I’m not spell-checking THIS footnote – or I could be here all damn DAY!

Jan
09

About fifteen years ago, this reporter wrote a piece saying that in his lifetime, using stem-cell research and genetic engineering – it OUGHT to be possible to CLONE meat. GROW it, like crops.

And having been originated from a couple of cells taken from a living animal, which would then receive a pat on its back and be sent on its way – for the first time, veggies and even Vegans (Live Long And Prosper) could enjoy PROPER food.

Well, a short time ago, scientists announced they had taken the first steps to achieving that goal and had produced something that was said to taste like “wet pork”.

Now that may not sound too appetising, but remember; in the Sixties, it only took scientists TEN YEARS to go from chucking a man up into low orbit – to landing two of them on the MOON.

And so this thinker has begun looking forward. It certainly now appears that in his lifetime, it WILL be possible to eat cloned chicken, pork and beef.

But why stop there?

The same science could be extended to OTHER animals – which would mean that certain S.E. Asian peoples could finally eat dolphin, cat and dog without the rest of the World HATING them for it.

But why stop THERE?

What about HUMAN meat? Primitive tribes used to be quite happy, chomping on recently deceased relatives – or ANYONE from a neighbouring tribe. And you KNOW you’ve always wondered what human flesh TASTES like – haven’t you?

But WHY stop THERE??

How about “designer” human meat? A few cells removed (no more painless than an injection) a few papers signed and CELEBRITIES could make a FORTUNE. “Enjoying that Beyoncé-Burger?”

BUT WHY STOP THERE???

What do YOU taste like? And your opposite number? There’s no reason why the technology could not quickly become affordable for the common man. You could dine on YOURSELF. And come Christmas, send parcels of your very OWN meat to friends and relatives.

Okay. Back there, is the line – and here is ME.

Jan
02

Everyone calls them “pin numbers” and “vin numbers” – but they are WRONG.

PIN and VIN are ACRONYMS – for Personal Identification Number and Vehicle Identification Number, respectively.

Thus if one says “pin NUMBER” one is effectively saying “personal identification number number” – and it’s the same with “vin number”.

It’s like those people who call London’s “La Valbonne Club” – “THE La Valbonne Club”. “La” is French for “the” (feminine). Therefore, they are saying “The The Valbonne Club”.

And then there’s the Sahara Desert. “Sahara” is Arabic for “desert” – thus “the Sahara Desert” is “the Desert Desert”.

It should just be “PIN”, “VIN”, “La Valbonne Club” and “the Sahara”.

I need to get out more…

Dec
28

…is the cry EVERY teen has heard from their parents, since Pop Music began (around 1920).

If you were a Child Of The Sixties, your parents’ music would have been Forties Big-Band – lead by the highly commercial sound of Glenn Miller.

If your time was the Seventies, it would have been Fifties Rock ‘N’ Roll. Indeed, given the muddled musical profile of that decade, it is not surprising that Fifties R ‘N’ R made a COMEBACK of sorts – in the form of “Plastic Teds” like Gary Glitter and Mud.

Of course, if your era was the Eighties, your parents’ would have been the Sixties. However, since the Eighties was a sort of mini-rerun of the Sixties, it was likely your parents were cool with the contemporary sounds.

But if your period was the NINETIES, you must have had a weird time – since the Seventies were a MESS. They began with Prog (progressive) Rock for the discerning listeners – and GLAM Rock for the KIDS. Then Funk took over for a bit – until the decade ended with the biggest SPLIT in Pop Music since the Fifties.

While most assume Rock ‘N’ Roll DOMINATED that decade – the charts of the time tell a different story. Since old men ruled the radio networks and record companies, it was relegated to “specialist” status, while M.O.R. actually predominated.

And as the Seventies waned, a similar split occurred. Except for M.O.R. read Disco – and for Rock ‘N’ Roll, read PUNK.

This not to say the styles were SIMILAR. Fifties M.O.R. was merely light orchestral pieces with cheesy vocals, while Disco evolved from Funk and emerged from the gay discotheques of New York – and Rock ‘N’ Roll came from a merging of black Rhythm ‘N’ Blues with white Rockabilly (plus elements of Jump-Jive and Boogie thrown in for good measure) while Punk was more about fashion and anti-establishmentism than the music – which was second-rate R ‘N’ B.

Thus the music your parents claim was REAL – depends on which school of Seventies Pop they went for.

And now we are fast approaching the end of ANOTHER decade (at the time of typing, in three days time – 31/12/10 – there was no year zero) during which the kids’ parents would have berated their offspring with tales of the New Romantic sound of the early Eighties.

But what of the FUTURE? Well, over the next decade, kids can expect to hear all about the Pet Shop Boys, ABC, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, et al. But since Pop Music DIED in 1990 – what then?

The only legitimate Pop Music that existed in the Nineties was TRANCE. And it’s hard to see how parents will sell THAT to their progeny – since it was actually DANCE Music.

But since people are having kids LATER these days – or not at all – THAT problem will not occur until around 2030. If this historian is still AROUND then, he’ll get back to you…

Dec
23

…with apologies to Dave Letterman. DiggerVision cancelled his show here in Asia, to save money – so I cancelled DiggerVision, with the same result. Anyway, here goes…

(1) “This is The Music Show – our next record is 4’33” by John Cage.”

(2) “The girl was already dead, when I entered her flat.”

(3) “My satellite decoder is stuck on Fox News.”

(4) “I’ve never had sexual relations with any animal.”

(5) “Only ten more minutes to Butlins.”

(6) “I’ve never seen this ten-year-old boy in my life.”

(7) “For my Last Meal, I’d like…”

(8) “Actually, I quite enjoy Country Music.”

(9) “I need a one-way ticket to England.”

(10) “I’m a hundred years old today.”

Dec
17

Yanks always reckon the British are a bunch of stiffs (so to speak) when it comes to sex.

This despite the fact that prostitution is LEGAL in Britain – whereas in The States, you get BUSTED for it. And in Britain, you can do it at sixteen – whereas in many U.S. States, you have to wait until you are an absurd EIGHTEEN.

Well now along comes a statistic which, if it is to be believed, goes even FURTHER to destroy the Yanks’ assumptions. Apparently, the average American woman can expect to have just THREE sexual partners in a lifetime, while the average American man can expect only FIVE.

Now, quite apart from this appearing to suggest that TWO of those guys will be having sex with EACH OTHER – is the fact that statistically, a BRITISH man – and WOMAN – can expect to get through FIFTEEN TO TWENTY partners in THEIR lifetime.

As a British man of fifty-eight summers, I myself have been inside one hundred and six women – one hundred and SEVEN, if you include my mother. Let me rephrase that…

Dec
14

This one’s for just for the chaps. No man in this World is one-hundred-percent straight – or gay, for that matter. We are all a quagmire of attractions and repulsions. Turn-ons and turn-offs.

But you say, “Hold ON there – are you calling me a shirt-lifter? How DARE you!”

Well consider this, my one-hundred-percent straight friend: imagine you had to live the rest of your life on a desert island. And you had the choice of two companions. One – the sweetest, most attractive man YOU PERSONALLY could imagine. The other – the most ghastly, hairy, smelly, pustule-infested woman that again, YOU PERSONALLY could imagine. WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

The fact you have even had to CONSIDER an answer to the question proves my point!

Incidentally, Your Humble Scribe has put this one to a number of blokes over the years – and you would not BELIEVE how they’ve tried to WRIGGLE out of giving a straight (so to speak) answer. “Suppose I escaped the island?” “Could I not just kill myself?” “What if I just lived there alone?” NO! ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION!!!

Nov
21

“The Grand Old Duke Of York

He had ten thousand men

He marched them up to the top of the hill

And he marched them down again

And when they were up they were up

And when they were down they were down

And when they were only half way up

He issued them with Viagra”

Nov
11

I’ll never forget the night of the 15th October, 1987. It was the night a HURRICANE hit Britain – the size of which had not been seen for centuries (although, a few years later, it would happen again).

I was one of the few people who actually SAW it – since it occurred during the small hours of October the 16th. I was taking a late bath – and having the traditional SMALL British bathroom, had opened the window for some fresh air.

But as time went by, the fresh air got fresher. And FRESHER. The note of the wind rose. And ROSE. And… Holy crap! I thought. The bathroom curtain was now HORIZONTAL.

Towelling off, I approached the window – and saw bits of tree blowing past it. As I poked my head out, it was like poking one’s head out of the window of an Inter-City 125. This was SERIOUS wind.

I watched the havoc for a while, but eventually the note began to drop – so I repaired to bed.

In the morning, I turned on the radio in time to hear the announcer remark that Sevenoaks had now become ONEoak. He then went on to describe the catalogue of disaster that had befallen southern Britain. He finished by reading out a government recommendation to stay at HOME.

But, not wishing to piss off my lords and masters (not to mention I was curious to SEE the devastation) I rang my company. At that time, I was a service engineer and the company told me there was one job near me at Southend and that if I could reach it, that would be nice – but to take it EASY.

So off I went. The first thing I noticed, upon leaving the house, were the walls and trees that had been FLATTENED last night. There were not many cars about and it did not take long to discover why – there were trees down EVERYWHERE. Fifteen MILLION, I later learned.

After slowly picking my way around them, I eventually arrived at Southend. My abiding memory of that day was a standard, two-storey brick building which had had its entire outer wall RIPPED away, by suction. It looked like a dolls-house with the front open.

But it was about three years later before I realised this was not an isolated incident. After the Summer of ’90 had begun in late June and ended in early July, I got a hunch. I booked my ’91 holiday for the same period.

People thought I was nuts – and booked theirs for the conventional August.

Next year, I was the ONLY employee who enjoyed a SUNNY British holiday.

As those early Nineties progressed, I noticed the strange weather was not being limited to Britain. And when finally there was a twelve-month period where, EVERY month, somewhere in the World an extreme weather record that had stood “since records began” had been SMASHED – I realised Something Was Up.

I began to tell people that in my view – there had been a World-Wide Climate Shift – but I might as well have tried telling them the sky was falling. I began to understand how Galileo must have felt.

But eventually, others began to notice things had changed (when they are up to their arses in water, even BRITS wake up). Rain in deserts, mudslides where they had never happened before – the sort of things that GET noticed.

In time, questions began to be asked.

But for several years, the weathermen (despite their technology, they are as reliable as astrologers – you cannot predict the weather) trotted out their lame anecdotes of MINOR decade-shifts – and claimed people only remember extreme weather.

While the government stayed shtum about the whole business. Finally, they began saying there MIGHT have been a shift. But by that time, the TV companies had no DOUBT – and began making PROGRAMMES about it, stating it as FACT.

However, it was now SIX YEARS after THIS reporter began HIS claims (it IS nice to be able to say – “I TOLD you so!”). My only regret is I did not start WRITING until 1994 – so I have no PROOF.

But I still KNOW I was right – and it was ME who gave it its name…

The 1987 Climate Shift.

Nov
04

Californians like to think of themselves as the most ADVANCED people on the planet. Dream on, guys.

In the Sunshine State, sex is illegal until you are eighteen (three years AFTER men hit their sexual peak) prostitution is illegal (you CANNOT eradicate the World’s Oldest Profession) and they (officially) have the death penalty.

But despite these facts, California still see their society as the pinnacle of civilization and value what they see as their freedom.

Yet a few months ago, despite their second-largest city being the Gay Capital Of The World, they voted DOWN same-sex marriage.

And now, despite ALL of the truths about marijuana – AND the fact their state has more stoners than any other – they have voted down the “legalization” of THAT, TOO!

Californians (thanks to their Hollywood) still see the British as bowler-hatted STIFFS – yet in Britain, you can bonk at SIXTEEN (the highest age in Europe) prostitution is LEGAL and we got rid of the death penalty DECADES ago.

And despite its not yet having been de-criminalised in Blighty, it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to get busted for pot (unless you nick a copper’s STASH).

Therefore BRITAIN is the peak of civilization? Hardly – it is the most RETARDED country in Europe! So where does that leave bloody CALIFORNIA?

Oct
14

Once upon a time, “Made In England” and even “Made In America” MEANT something. A guarantee of QUALITY. Perhaps not the BEST quality – but you knew what you were getting. In fact, even “Made In Germany” did not guarantee TOP quality – have you tried their mobile phones? Crap. Get a Nokia.

But when the West pissed away its manufacturing base and China took over, quality became a thing of the PAST. Their workers toiled away for peanuts and were prepared to work under conditions that would have shamed the West in the FIFTIES. But there was – and is – a PROBLEM.

COMPETITION.

Let us take an example. You buy an umbrella. A British or American one (which no longer exists) would cost you the Western equivalent of fifty Yuan (I’ve no idea what a Yuan’s worth – this is just for comparison, so work with me, okay?) But a Chinese one only costs twenty Yuan.

However, the struts are not made of stainless steel and begin to rust after the brolly’s first outing, staining its fabric. Then, after a few more outings, a high wind blows it inside out and the now-weakened struts SNAP – leaving you standing there like an idiot, getting WET.

At this point, you realise you would have been happy to have paid THIRTY Yuan – if the manufacturer had used STAINLESS steel. But he DIDN’T. And therein lies the problem with Chinese goods. It is made down to a PRICE – not up to a quality.

Certainly, the Wang Kee umbrella company COULD have used stainless steel – but then the brollys would have cost him fifteen Yuan to make, instead of ten. Meaning they would have had to leave his factory gates at seventeen Yuan a unit, instead of twelve.

And the ROOT of this problem is: while this may have been fine for YOU, Mr Wang Kee is not SELLING his products to you. He is selling them to a WHOLESALER. And that guy is not going to pay seventeen Yuan a unit for brollys when the Wun Hung Lo company sell theirs for TWELVE.

Plus neither the manufacturer OR the wholesaler are there for you to YELL at, when your brolly collapses and you are left standing in the damn RAIN.

Oct
10

I see Pinky and Perky are trying to rip off every pensioner (including ME) for FIVE GRAND-odd, by putting the “retirement age” BACK a year. Their logic is people are living longer.

However, we have been paying TAXES all that time, on the PROMISE of a government pension at 65. The last time the Torybastards were in power, they tried MEANS-TESTING pensions – the logic being “rich people” didn’t need them.

But rich people would have meant anyone who had bought their own HOUSE – something the Torybastards themselves had urged people to do, a decade earlier.

Luckily, the COURTS OVERTURNED that one – pointing out that the Torybastards had a LEGAL OBLIGATION to pay pensions. But where are those courts THIS time?

Funny how (ALL) British governments aren’t in FIVE MINUTES before they start targeting the poor, the vulnerable and the PENSIONERS.

Oct
09

As it happens, I am indebted to a woman on a Bournemouth bus for the following: her conversation with her friend was overheard by a friend of MINE – and now, like the ripples in a limpid pool, it spreads outwards…

An apt name for the gentlemen in the title… PINKY AND PERKY!

This is how these things begin – PASS IT ON!!!

Oct
04

Star Movies is the DiggerVision movie channel, here in S.E. Asia. And it has an absurd, self-imposed “classification” system. I say absurd, since virtually ALL their movies are “rated” as either “cert 15” or “cert 16” (like there’s a difference) – but are actually cut LOWER than PG13!

So it was with glee that I saw they were premiering Sasha Baron Cohen’s “Brüno” at 23:25 hrs, instead of the usual 20:00 – and had given it a “cert 18”. Goody! It must SURELY be UNCUT.

While I understand the DVD has extra scenes (the film is episodic – so some bits were always going to work better than others) and a couple of sequences were cut in post (including one with references to Michael Jackson, who died just before the film’s release) the theatrical release of “Brüno” runs eighty-one minutes.

In Britain it was released in two forms: uncut, with an OFFICIAL cert 18 – and as “Brüno: Snipped” it lost two minutes to become a cert 15 (thus becoming available to the lucrative young-teen market). The two versions went out together.

The story was similar in other countries. In Australia, a few seconds were cut to get a 15 rating. In New Zealand, it was given a cert 16, uncut.

But on Star Movies, having allocated it their “cert 18” – and relegated it to nearly midnight – it only ran sixty-four minutes. They had cut it by SEVENTEEN MINUTES!

Are you KIDDING ME, Digger???

So thanks to that prat, I will now have to wait for the DVD. At least THEY are COMPLETE in S.E. Asia – even the LEGITIMATE ones. And I will be able to see all those other bits that did not QUITE work – but I suspect will STILL be funnier than most Hollywood films that CALL themselves comedies.

Sep
26

…in the World – living or dead – who would you be?

A dafter question would be hard to think of.

I mean – you’re YOU. You’re STUCK with you. If you answered with the name of a famous footballist, musician, film star, F1 driver or whoever – it merely means you ENVY them. You could never BE them.

They can play football – or an instrument – or can act – or drive a car REALLY fast. You can NOT – which is why you are just you.

If you were placed in their BODY – but retained your mind – you would not have the training, experience or talent that they have. Thus it would not be long before someone asked, “Who are you – and what have you done with (whoever)?”

And if you were placed in their body WITH their mind – then you would BE them!

Sep
24

Sequels have been around since the days of “The Great Train Robbery” – Hollywood’s first narrative movie – even though the films did not have NUMBERS. The fact the studios had their house styles, the actors their genres and most people saw a movie based on its poster – meant no-one went to an RKO picture starring Fred and Ginger, expecting it to be a gangster movie.

Likewise a musical with Warner and Bogart – or a romantic comedy with Universal and Karloff – or a sci-fi horror with MGM – or a… I think I’ve made my point.

But the Trilogy is a RECENT phenomenon – and one which carries more RISK. The idea is, having made a movie that has COINED it, you capitalise by making not ONE sequel, but TWO. Back-to-back.

The advantage of making back-to-back movies is – they save you a LOT of money.

Since the collapse of the studio system, where everything you needed was “in-house” – the writers, directors, designers, choreographers, cinematographers, stars, support-actors, extras, crew, sound-stages, props, costumes, scenery, chippies, plasterers, sparks, composers, orchestra, recording studio, stock footage, miniatures, special effects, opticals, cameras, sound equipment, lights, lighting gantries, editing suites, film-labs, back-lots, restaurant, publicity and legal departments, offices, accommodation, etc., were all on the PREMISES and exteriors were shot by second units and doubles, while the actors worked in the studio in front of “plates” (back-projected film loops) – all films have essentially been ONE-OFFS.

Thus making a movie today is primarily about ASSEMBLING all the above into a unit, where everybody and everything is there and ready to go.

Which means that making two movies SIMULTANEOUSLY is WAY cheaper than doing all of that assembling TWICE.

HOWEVER… just because a movie makes a packet, does not mean committing to TWO sequels is a good idea. While making both together might SAVE you a fortune – if they TANK, you could LOSE one.

The first time I recall this trick being performed, was after the massive success of “Back To The Future”. Two sequels were envisaged – one was a clever build on the first – the second, a major departure (a WESTERN, no less).

Since the Golden Rule Of Sequels is that the second movie must be FIFTY PERCENT BETTER than the original (as it no longer has ORIGINALITY on its side) for people to perceive it as being AS GOOD – they worked HARD on it. And to be fair, it grossed more than the third movie – although most people rate that third much HIGHER.

But it worked. The budget for the first was US$19M and it netted over 170. So they could afford to throw back 40 for the sequels. And those pushed the overall net to 379 – all three making a healthy profit.

More recently, “The Matrix” repeated the trick. The first had a budget of 63 and also netted around 170. But this time, the budget for the sequels was 150 – so if they had tanked, they would have swallowed most of the profit from the first.

However, they need not have worried. The second was a TRIUMPH – it took the originality of the first and RAMPED IT UP, making it the most successful of the three. And even though the third was a lot of talking heads in the first half – and a slew of effects in the second – it still made a fair profit, taking the overall net to around 452.

But other trilogies have not been so lucky. A sequel is already a tricky thing – gone are the days when you could just HYPE one – release it BIG over a bank holiday weekend – and sit back to count your money. These days, the fans are WISE. They use texts, the Interweb and word-of-mouth to KILL a sequel, if it is a turkey.

And if THAT happens – you may find your third movie was A Bridge Too Far!

Sep
19

Governments HATE raising taxes. But when are they going to GROW a pair and TELL PEOPLE that unless they wish to work until they DROP – their pension has to be PAID for?

Then point out that faceless government pukes managing their pension is WAY better than leaving it in the hands of fat-cat businessmen – and that either way, it will always ultimately be the PUBLIC who will have to FUND it.

So come on, political parties; suck it up and come CLEAN. Announce that if elected, you will RAISE taxes – then promise the electorate they can retire at FIFTY.

And if they are still unconvinced, point out that this measure will also ELIMINATE unemployment…

Sep
14

Peter Sellers was one of the greatest mimics, character actors and comedians who ever breathed. I once saw him being interviewed on location in France – and an old Frenchman wandered past, grumbling to himself – and Peter suddenly broke off what he was saying and did a PERFECT imitation of the old geezer.

How much of it was cod-French and actual French I do not remember – but I recall the intonation was FAULTLESS.

Of course, like all great actors, Sellers was a bundle of nerves, acute paranoia – and was a lousy chat-show guest.

However, Michael Parkinson did not know that until in 1974, Peter was booked as a guest on his show.

The man turned up – but as they were being made up, he suddenly turned to Parky and said, “I can’t go on.”

“What?” said the Yorkshireman.

“I can’t do this. I’m an actor. I NEVER go on as ME.”

“Look,” said Parky, “You’ve GOT to go on. The studio is ready – the audience is ready and I’M ready. We’ve advertised your appearance – and anyway, it’s too late to find a replacement.”

“But I do FILMS, not stage.”

“What about The Goons? You were on stage then.”

“Yeah, but I was with Harry and Spike. And I was playing CHARACTERS – loads of them. I can’t do ME.”

At this point, Parky went ballistic. He always had a Yorkshireman’s temper – the audience would see a flash of it when later, Sellers would refer to his Dad as a “right” Yorkshireman (and if you want to see Parky REALLY throwing a strop, click on http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5186653/bbc_internal_christmas_tape_79_uncensored_outtakes_etc/ – at about 8:10 in – but not now, I’m talking).

Anyhoo, Parky said, “Look – I don’t care WHO you come on as – just so long as you COME ON.”

So a production assistant took Peter to the BBC Wardrobe Department, while Parky went to start the show. Finally, someone gave him the nod that Sellers was ready and he introduced him, not knowing WHAT to expect.

What he got was Sellers – dressed in a leather greatcoat and a WW2 German “squarehead” helmet (which always got a laugh in post-war Britain). Parky himself fell about laughing – as much in relief that he now had a show, as at the apparition that had presented itself.

Peter goose-stepped around and improvised a character for a bit. Then, when he felt more at ease, threw the gear off and gave a GREAT interview.

You can find THAT at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuaN3K4AMmk – but save the thought – I’m still talking!

After this show, Peter only ever gave one more long interview. In that one, he told his anecdote about Michael Caine.

It was the one where he said that he had seen Michael telling everyone at a party who would listen various fun-factoids from The Guinness Book Of Records – and had ended his stories with “Not a lot of people know that” – doing a perfect impression of Caine.

And for years, this became a catch-phrase that haunted Mike Caine – until it got supplanted, latterly, by “You were only supposed to blow the bloody DOORS off,” from “The Italian Job” (like “No, Mr Bond… I expect you to DIE,” from “Goldfinger” – it took TIME to catch on).

Mike even gave his name to a fun-factoid book CALLED “Not A Lot Of People Know That” – with his likeness on the cover – the proceeds of which were for CHARITY.

And it is an indication of the legendary generosity of Mr Caine that it was not until after Peter’s death that Mike let the TRUTH out.

He had never SAID the phrase. The whole story was BOGUS!

Sellers had wanted to do his impression of Caine, but had no anecdote to hang it on. So, not considering that it wasn’t exactly complementary to his fellow actor, Sellers just MADE ONE UP on the spot.

But knowing the truth would hurt Peter, Mike had let it lie. Only after Sellers had passed, did he come clean.

Unfortunately, I do not HAVE that interview on VT – but now that I have finished, you are more than welcome to check out the other two clips I have left links for, above. The Parky bit is instructive – and so is the Sellers interview.

It is interesting to note that Parky avoids asking Peter ANYTHING about his film roles – and again instructive when Sellers almost VIOLENTLY points out the probable reason why: the fact he only enjoyed those moments when he was in the zone – when he NAILED a characterisation.

He declares that afterwards, he loses interest – and hints that like many actors, hated watching himself, seeing only the shortfalls, real or imagined. Thus, one suspects he had told Parky NOT to quiz him about his characters – which must have given HIM no easy task.

However, the interview is still highly revealing. Despite his obvious charm, Sellers was doubtless a hundred miles of bad road if you married him. But his artistic talents were unparalleled.

YouTube now gives you 15 minutes, so I did a neat edit of ALL the non-musical (George Formby’s era was only three decades before this interview, thus was naustalgic then – but the interview took place four decades ago, thus you would have to be in your EIGHTIES now, to recall George) non-Nazi material (a bit non-PC these days).

So NOW go watch it!

Sep
08

It is currently September the eighth, which means the shops will soon be turning our minds to the subject of Christmas. And then, the schools will force our kids to reenact that old chestnut – The Christmas Story.

But what is this story REALLY about? Let us examine it.

Joseph and his heavily pregnant wife Mary have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem – a distance of some NINETY MILES – to take part in a census. Which means that even (literally) in the year DOT, those bloody BUREAUCRATS were screwing people’s lives up.

According to the legend, Joe WALKED while his wife rode on a donkey – that’s some schlepp.

Then when they got to Bethlehem, there was No Room At The Inn. Well of course there wasn’t – the hotels were all occupied by others coming for that sodding CENSUS (no, the hotels were not booked up ’cause it was CHRISTMAS – THINK about it).

So poor old Mary ends up giving birth in a STABLE. It’s a wonder Jesus SURVIVED.

Then three wise guys turn up with gold and scent. Of course, the one who brought the GOLD must have felt a proper Charlie – but he got off EASY compared to JOE.

Here is a man who marries a woman, gives her a son – yet is known for the next TWO THOUSAND YEARS (and counting) as a chap who could not even manage to make LOVE with his wife – she is always referred to as The VIRGIN Mary – and further, after dragging her ninety-odd miles on an ass, when she gives birth to his son – it was not HIS.

Joseph has to be the greatest LOSER of ALL TIME.

Aug
30

I understand Hallmark Cards (“You know you’re getting old and sad – And have lived too many years – When hair stops growing on your head – And starts sprouting out your ears” – like that) own or lend their name to a number of cable and satellite channels, all over the World.

But I can only speak for the Asian version, whose demographic appears to be ageing American bimbos (they run execrable shows with people like Oprah Winfrey, Jane Seymour and Martha Stewart). The thing is, they just changed their name from The Hallmark Channel to – DIVA.

Did they really think that through?

Aug
26

Vienna, 1827.

As Ludwig lay in his closed casket, those who passed by thought they heard strange musical sounds coming from inside. They reported this to the clergy, who checked it out.

After they had listened to the eerie sounds for a few moments, one of them suddenly straightened and said, “I know what that is – it’s his Fifth Symphony – but the notes are being played BACKWARDS.”

They listened for a while longer. “Yes, that’s his Fourth, now,” said the cleric.

At this point, the officiating minister turned to the congregation and said, “There’s nothing to worry about. The sounds you heard were merely Herr Beethoven – decomposing.”

Aug
20

I have written about many things in these columns – most of which I knew a fair bit about. And when I needed extra info or confirmation of something I THOUGHT I knew about, it was all there to be found, on the Interweb.

But now I am going to have a crack (so to speak) at something about which I AND said Interweb know LITTLE – Double Yolk Eggs. Until recently, I had rarely happened upon one of these curios.

The perceived wisdom is that they only occur about one time in a THOUSAND. Indeed, a major British newspaper (well – the Daily Mail) recently ran a STORY about a woman who had bought a carton of six eggs that ALL had double yolks.

They raved that the odds were a million, million million-to-one against.

Well if that were true, the THIRTY double yolk eggs I recently purchased at my local market in Thailand – ALL of which were double yolked – give odds of one in one million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million. Or so.

Which would probably equate to all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the World.

BOLLOCKS!!!

No. OUTSIDE of the blurb from the recognised egg authorities lies anecdotal info. It seems that while COMMERCIALLY-PRODUCED eggs only give a double-yolker about once every thousand times – farm produced eggs can be MANIPULATED.

F’rinstance, there is a hatchery in India which SPECIALISES in breeding chickens that produce more than 50% double yolk eggs (100% is no good, as the eggs are not viable – two chicks trying to hatch in one shell would KILL each other).

And someone claimed WAITROSE used to sell them in six-packs, back in the SIXTIES.

Furthermore, another source said “markets in various countries” sell them. The guy who sold me my eggs BOASTED they were all double-yolkers. They are about 50% BIGGER than regular eggs – and cost 50% more. Potato – potato.

The thing is, once you organise your hens to produce a fair percentage of these oddities – they are easy to separate. You only need to shine a light through them to determine the number of yolks. One imagines you can AUTOMATE that. A conveyor belt – light – screen – some electronics – and a sort of “points” affair, to direct doubles one way and singles the other.

Supermarket eggs are unreliable here, so I get MARKET eggs. But even with those, there is always the occasional bad’un, so I float test each one. Thus I can vouch for the FRESHNESS of these giant eggs. Plus they taste GREAT. And as for health issues – I have had NO ill effects from the thirty I have already eaten.

Apart from the second HEAD I am currently growing…

Update: if you want to SEE a double-yolk egg – checkout this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf5nA4YFAic

…and THIS…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKXZvl5-8hI

Aug
11

If you see a bloke walking a Pit Bull, he must be “hard” – right? Well, no – his vicious DOG is hard. If HE was hard, he’d not need the DOG.

And if you see a man caressing a cat in his lap – “This time you die, Mr Bond!” – he too is a pussy, right? Well, again no. Show me a man who knows how to satisfy a cat and I will show you a man who knows how to satisfy a WOMAN.

And these virility symbols are not limited to men. Women get “breast augmentation” installed and some sad men think it is for THEM. But yet again, NO. Hey, fella – do you really think a woman would go through all that pain and expense for YOU?

Get REAL! Fake tits are for the benefit of OTHER WOMEN. Women see them as a symbol of THEIR power. In any case, men who actually LIKE them should get themselves a “Lonely Sailor’s Companion” (a blow-up sex doll) – they feel about the same.

And it is amazing the things people THINK are virility symbols. Like a full head of hair on an ageing Lothario. Wig-manufacturers make a FORTUNE from this fallacy. And so do the snake-oil salesmen with their “cures” for balding.

Which is ironic, since said potions give men “man-boobs” and LOWER their virility – while thinning hair is actually a SIGN of virility. Along with pot-bellies and hairy backs, it is caused by testosterone – the male HORMONE.

So, women: if you see a bald, cat-loving man with middle-age spread, standing next to a slim, dog-loving “man’s man” with a full head of hair – choose the CAT guy. He’s the BUTCH one (and he might be ME!)

Aug
01

Two months ago, this author penned TWO pieces on the British Hung Parliament. One was lower down this very column at https://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/damien-on-referenda/ – the other was on my Zen brother’s column at http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/cornelius-on-britains-corrupt-electoral-system/

BOTH of the pieces warned Cleggy to tread CAREFULLY. They pointed out that this would be his ONLY chance to CHANGE Britain’s unfair two-party system of government – one in which the two main parties have spent nearly NINETY YEARS moving the “boundaries” around, thus ensuring Britain would REMAIN a two-party state.

This writer stated that if Cleggy formed a COALITION with either party, he and his party would be SIDE-LINED – ABSORBED by the larger party – and instead, recommended a BILL-BY-BILL arrangement.

Well, now we know what happened. Having been seduced by the post of Deputy Prime Minister – a NON-job with a fancy title (he gets to stand next to Cameron, looking like a partner in a gay marriage – guess who’s the WOMAN) while certain of his gang got other, lesser posts in Cameron’s Cabinet – he BLEW IT.

Oh sure, he has the promise of a REFERENDUM (see the piece way below) – but all he gets if he wins is a meagre HALF STEP to Proportional Representation – the Alternative Vote system.

And he WON’T win.

The CATCH with the deal he thrashed out with Cameron was that the Tories will be free to campaign AGAINST the idea. And Labour (despite earlier promises to consider it) will for once join their opposite numbers in campaigning LIKEWISE.

So Cleggy hasn’t got a rat’s chance in HELL of winning that referendum vote. And when the bill crashes and burns, his already weak position will be weakened still further – he may even be forced OUT of office.

When smugbastard Cameron made his deal with Cleggy, he was no fool. He KNEW Britain will NEVER vote to change their lousy two-party system – they have had NUMEROUS opportunities to do so in the past.

This historian has the dubious distinction of RARELY being wrong when predicting BAD things and he confidently predicts that next year, Cleggy will LOSE his referendum – and with it, his one opportunity to finally break Britain FREE of its unfair two-party system – and quite possibly, his non-JOB.

Remember – you heard it here first…

Jul
18

“Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you a man without a heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you a man without a head.”

Thus goes the adage – with many variations.

The basic message is that a young person SHOULD be idealistic – but a mature person should have LEARNED from life and be more pragmatic.

In short, Liberal ideals are naïve – while only Conservative ideals are PRACTICAL.

Well – bollocks.

This writer is now fifty-seven – and is as liberal today as he was forty years ago. But someone is trying to tell him otherwise.

A recent theory has emerged which says while all of us ageing Hippies THINK we are still liberal – we have actually embraced many Conservative ideals. As we have matured, the Real World has impinged upon us, causing us – without our KNOWLEDGE – to move to the Right.

They cite personality tests where my generation have been given questionnaires – and our answers have shown many of us have – by stealth – become the very people whom, in our youth, we despised.

Well, this may have happened to SOME of my brothers and sisters – but not to THIS writer.

During these last forty years, I believe I have formed a comprehensive and balanced understanding of what makes this World tick – and it steps to the beat of a LIBERAL drummer.

For sure, Communism doesn’t work – Russia took seventy years to find THAT out.

But nor does Free Enterprise – America is finding that out NOW.

The only system that has ANY chance of saving what is left of our World is LIBERALISM.

And given that it is seen as the MIDDLE, moderate route – it ought to be a lot more POPULAR!

Jul
04

One of the many bizarrities (my word) to be seen in the United States these days is the business of “Open Carry” – namely, the practice of parading (in the UK: poncing) around public places with a FIREARM strapped to your waist.

Apparently, several states are perfectly happy for people to sit in a McDonalds, packing HEAT (in the UK: tooled up). Of course, whoa betide them should they light up a CIGARETTE – that would endanger health.

Anyhoo, the law appears to stem from the idea that only a CONCEALED weapon is likely to be used in a criminal manner.

And this anomaly results in gangs of tubby, middle-aged, shirt-in types with small penises (Republicans to a man) swanking around (no, I said SWANKING – with an ‘S’) looking like The Wild Bunch meets a firm of Independent Financial Advisors.

Last year, one even turned up at one of Barack O’Bama’s “Town Hall” meetings – THAT must have gone down well with the Secret Service. 

But as far as restaurants are concerned, given the choice between a seat next to a SMOKER or one of THOSE guys – I know which I would choose.

Jun
28

It has been a while since I did some Yank-bashing – so here goes…

America has a saying: “Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on ME.” A clumsy aphorism perhaps, but valid nonetheless.

Which makes one wonder what nitwit came up with the War On Drugs?

I mean, ninety years ago, they tried prohibiting the production, sale and use of alcoholic beverages and where did that get them? Billions of dollars wasted, umpteen people killed and injured, bursting prisons and an empowered organised crime network, that’s where.

After thirteen years, they saw the futility of their actions and REPEALED the stupid law. But did they LEARN from the experience? Of course not.

Fifty years later, they began their War On Drugs. And what has been the result of THAT? See above.

And this time, it is even worse. At least, the last time, they REALISED their folly after thirteen years. But their War On Drugs has been going on for FORTY now – with no end in sight.

Footnote: I hear Sarah Palin says she smoked marijuana – but did not like it. Could it simply be that the marijuana did not like HER?

Jun
23

I LIKE footballing. It’s short and quite exciting: how many balls can the footballist kick past the goal attendant?

But I cannot fathom why they have to run around a field for two hours first…

Jun
11

The “Happy Days” character of Arthur Fonzerelli had originally been a minor character, based loosely on John Milner in “American Graffiti” – upon which the sitcom was (also loosely) based.

But as the series progressed, due to his popularity, the character was built up – until HE became the star. At which point, the merchandising went MAD.

And yes, I admit it – for a while, I wore a “Fonzie Is Cool” badge.

If I had been a twelve-year-old girl, it would have been fine. And although this was several years prior to the “post-ironic” period (pre-post-ironic?) I could have carried it off if I had been over seventy – just as a laugh.

But I was a twenty-five-year-old man.

I am ashamed.

Jun
09

Thai cigarettes used to be virtually tax-free – thus were a TENTH of the price of those back in Britain. Now they have added some tax – but they are STILL an EIGHTH of the price.

Thus I suppose I can put up with the offensive pictures which cover half the packet on Thai ciggies – but they still annoy me.

Offensive pictures? What of? Nazis? Doggie-do? Portraits of Glenn Beck? No. They feature lurid, full-colour pictures of people who have black, red and purple innards – presumably as a result of smoking.

Serves you right, the anti-smokers would say. It’s educational. You have no RIGHT to be offended. Give UP the dreaded weed.

Hmm. But I wonder how THEY would feel if KFC buckets came with full colour pictures of bloated, morbidly-obese kids on them? Or how about pictures of blood-spattered pedestrian casualties, on the dashboards of their Toyotas?

‘Nuff said.

Jun
07

First came the shoe-bomber: and shortly afterwards, a check-in security device was announced that would blow air up underneath a traveller, to “sniff out” explosives.

Then came the underpants bomber: and another device was announced that would see through travellers’ clothing.

The thing is, these technical devices are generally invented by grown-up NERDS.

And what we have here are essentially: a device that blows a woman’s skirt up – and another which looks suspiciously like those “X-Ray Spex” from times past.

Am I the only one to see a connection here?

May
26

It has been said that many Americans these days get most of their news from Jay Leno’s nightly monologue (U.S. – monolog) and Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” – like that’s a BAD thing.

But one suspects that few realize just how valuable The Daily Show IS, as a disseminator of news.

Sure, on the surface, the show appears to be little more than a series of silly, irreverent sketches and mock-interviews, capped by a conventional interview – and hosted by a jester.

However, when one stops to ANALYZE the show, one discovers that those silly, irreverent sketches are actually brilliantly written and finely honed caustic comments on the day’s happenings.

In fact, The Daily Show carries on a tradition of political SATIRE which is HUNDREDS of years old – and whose points have FAR more staying power in the mind than any number of mere RANTS.

And having penned a fairly large number of rants in these very columns, this writer knows what he is talking about. Writing satire is damned HARD.

Then there are those interviews. Have you ever considered how much information on EVERY subject Jon Stewart must absorb, for him to be able to hold his own with guests who are generally experts in their fields?

And just look at how wide-ranging those fields are. Plus, most of them are touting doorstop-sized books. Yet Jon is able not merely to ask a list of pre-prepared questions about that person’s tome – but to expand on questions THEY raise.

In short, he manages, DAILY, to actually READ their huge books. Sure, a battery of researchers could do that for him – but ultimately, all they could give him would be bullet-points and a few scattered highlights.

For him to be as incisive as he is, he has to read them HIMSELF.

Can YOU imagine reading an entire 500-page book EVERY DAY – and then RETAINING enough of it to enable yourself to hold YOUR own with its AUTHOR for six minutes?

The irony is that Fox “News” presenters talk about Jon Stewart like he’s a buffoon – yet not one of them has a QUARTER of either his knowledge or his intelligence.

Long may Jon Stewart and The Daily Show live.

May
22

The government immediately lowers the age of retirement by five years – then every successive year, by a further year. You’re welcome.

Oh… you want more? Okay. Since the West lowered trade barriers, some thirty-five years ago, it was always inevitable that jobs would become “out-sourced” – and with automation, even more jobs would disappear. Thus, any concept of full employment became a FOLLY by 1980.

Of course, no Western government would ever admit that. They preferred to go on about New Job Creation. But the few jobs actually created were I.T. positions with nonsense names.

Therefore, the ONLY way to accommodate the ever-increasing number of unemployed is to lower the retirement age accordingly – releasing ever more jobs for school-leavers.

All right – there is one TINY problem with this solution. Unless you install gas-chambers for the retired, they will need SUPPORTING. I.e., every year, the government pension bill will rise, placing an ever-increasing tax burden on those who are doing whatever work out-sourcing and automation have left them.

But hey – I’m not an economist. The Chancellor Of The Exchequer will have to figure THAT one out. My pleasure.

STILL not enough? Well, since the genies of outsourcing and automation cannot be put back into the bottle – the problem of financing those dispossessed of employment HAS to be addressed.

The latest idea being floated by HMG is that the retirement age be RAISED – so far, from 65 to 66 – which suggests Tory-boy Cameron and his lovely new assistant Cleggy intend to follow the suggestion I made at the top of this piece – except IN REVERSE.

Naturally, Tories (who mostly have private pension plans enabling them to retire at 50 – or even earlier, if the pressure gets too much for the little darlings) will point out that life expectation has INCREASED and so the prolls’ years of toil should follow.

But as a burned-out ex-service engineer who quit the rat race at 50 himself – financed by SAVINGS – the prospect of the goalposts of State Pension receding into the distance fills this scribbler with disquiet.

You see, thanks to the World financial meltdown, his nest-egg has SHRUNK somewhat. And whilst he knew the markets go up and down in ten-year cycles and had thus taken that into account – what he had NOT reckoned on, was that the POUND would go down the crapper TOO.

Thing is, here in the Land Of Smiles, things have gotten fraught of late. But social conditions have no bearing on economic ones. When America plug-holed, things on the street were fine – it was those silly banks with their toxic sub-prime loans that did it.

Likewise here, in 1998 – the Tiger currencies went down the dumper because banks were loaning too much money to developers who had failed to ensure their developments had end-users. But again, on the street, all was jake.

And while Britain is not yet on FIRE – she has been FOUND OUT. The old dear has been shuffling papers for decades, while her economy has RUN OUT.

All of which means this chronicler has been hit TWICE – once by the drop in share values (about 35%) and AGAIN by the slide of the Western currencies against the Baht (ANOTHER 35%-odd).

Thus his personal fortune currently stands at 65% of 65% of what it was three years ago – which is (calculator out) 42.25%. That means a drop of 57.75%. In other words, his total money has TANKED by well over HALF. Boo-hoo.

Therefore, that State Pension has gone from being a bonus in his declining years – to a bloody NECESSITY. And seeing it wave bye-bye, one year at a time, is not a happy prospect.

But will it ever happen? I recall the Torybastards trying this once before. At that time, they wanted to “means-test” state pensions. Their spin was that rich people, with private pensions, did not NEED the state pension, thus it should be saved for those who did.

However, what it ACTUALLY meant was that any pensioner with ASSETS – like a house they had worked their whole lives to acquire – could have found themselves potless.

But luckily, at that time their plans were thwarted by the COURTS, who ruled that since the prolls had paid their taxes for 50 years, on the promise of a state pension at 65 – HMG had a CONTRACT to pay it, regardless.

I just hope the courts REMEMBER that PRECEDENT, when Cameron and Cleggy make their move…

May
11

As I type, the U.K. election fiasco appears to be entering its fourth quarter – and the air is thick with talk of referenda, on the electorial system.

The Labour party had it in their MANIFESTO. But as a realist/cynic, I find myself wondering if they were simply playing The Long Game.

I mean, knowing what the figures were, they could easily have been PREPARING for the scenario which has in fact unfolded.

While the arrogant Tories simply assumed they would win an outright majority.

Either way, NEITHER of the two “main” parties WANTS electoral reform – they have spent the last ninety years moving the borough boundaries around, to ensure no third party can UNSEAT them.

But now along comes CLEGGY. And it is evident that he is not about to be talked out of the ONLY chance he is ever likely to get to UPSET the ninety-year-old FIX that has kept his party and its predecessors out of government all that time.

After all, it will take MONTHS to extract Britain from the financial crapper she is in – so what difference will a few days taken repairing her electoral system make?

And as for referenda – FORGET it!

Imagine if Britain had referenda on EVERYTHING. Her people would immediately vote to bring back hanging, organise death-squads to hunt down suspected paedophiles and introduce castration (actual, not chemical) for rapists.

Then they would double the budget for health and education – while halving income tax.

Finally, they would pay for it all by cutting the defence budget to ten pounds a year.

The result of which would be that in three months, Britain would have a criminal justice system whose barbarity would make the Middle Ages look liberal in comparison – within six, she would go broke – and within nine, be run by the Russian Mafia.

In short, running a democracy along referendal (is that even a word?) lines DOES NOT WORK. Why? Because most of the population of ANY country are IDIOTS – that’s why!

The thing is, while politicians are corrupt, sleazy and evil – and pretty stupid too – they at least know how to run a country.

While… okay – do YOU think we should give Antarctica independence? Should Britain supply arms to Mgaliland? How about converting all cars to run on cow-sh*t?

Of course, all three of those questions are ridiculous (and I made UP the name Mgaliland). But then, politicians would KNOW that.

The fact is, the job of running a country has to be done by people who have SOME idea of how to DO it. While having referenda on EMOTIONAL issues that do not affect the smooth running of said country is fine, having them on political issues is SUICIDE.

If Blair had not insisted on one over the Pound, Britain would now be INFINITELY better off on the EURO – like every OTHER country in Europe (okay, right now the Euro is in the dumper too – but it is STILL better off than the POUND).

And of course, both the Tories and Labour KNOW a referendum on the electoral system is silly – but then, THIS observer suspects the only reason they are OFFERING one is that they both figure the British voters will REJECT the notion.

You see, the British have always MOANED about The System – but apart from a handful of ACTIVISTS (who the British also REJECT, as nut-jobs) they do not DO anything. They are AFRAID of anything different – anything that is outside of the familiar.

This is evidenced by the fact that in ’88 and this election, the third party were doing well – right up to election night. Whereupon, many of their supporters suddenly CHICKENED OUT and voted for one of the main parties after all.

So while Brown and Cameron are perfectly happy to OFFER Cleggy a referendum – knowing they can accuse him of anti-democracy if he refuses it – if he wants to be SURE of change, he will accept nothing less than GUARANTEED change. Through PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE.

Good luck, Cleggy.

(For more on this, hit – http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/cornelius-on-britains-corrupt-electoral-system/)

May
05

According to Ian Fleming, “The first time is happenstance – the second time is coincidence – but the third time is enemy action.”

Well, my first time was back in 1994. I had written one of my rare pieces of fiction. It was a time-travel piece, where the hero accidentally nails his grandmother and becomes his own grandfather (it could happen).

Since it was supposed to have been written in the future, I lightly peppered the story with “future-slang” terms, which I made up – one of which was “Euro”.

You see, part of the story took place in 2005 – by which time I figured a pan-European currency ought to be in place. But back in ’94, they were still discussing what it would be called.

They had just rejected one name on the grounds that it was too close to a word used for an antique French coin – and were now trying to think of an alternative. I just dreamed UP Euro.

Imagine my surprise when a year later, they announced…

My second time was in 1999. I wrote a small monograph on “Oil Of Ulay”. I questioned whether it should be pronounced “yew-lay” (as in the tree) or “ooh-lay” (as in “Ooh, Matron!”) and wondered – “What the hell IS a/an Ulay, anyway?”

A few months later, the owners changed the name to “Oil Of Olay” – leading me to write again: “Holy cow! They must have read my last piece! But why did they go with Olay? It sounds like “¡Olé!” – the thing Spanish crowds yell at a bull-fight.”

My third time came more recently. In these very columns, I stated that I was sure American film score composer Thomas Wanker was nice to animals and always washed his hands after going to the toilet – but I wanted to BE there, the first time he checked in at a hotel in Britain or Australia.

A few months later, he changed his name to Thomas Wander.

The thing is – ALL of these writings were read by, at best, only a few hundred people. So how had they had the effect they’d had? The European Union had taken my advice over the naming of the pan-European currency. A giant corporation had changed the name of a product that had been going for DECADES. And an American composer had changed his NAME.

You may say “coincidence” – but I wonder. Perhaps I AM living in a dream…

Apr
30

Just why IS it that Americans speak of socialised healthcare as a sane person would speak of genital mutilation?

Look – when it comes to healthcare, there really are only three choices. One: you pay for it as you go – fine if you are rich as Croesus. Two: you use commercial health insurance. Or three: you live in a country that has socialised healthcare – where you are given healthcare FREE, according to need and ability to use – and it is paid for out of a fund supported by taxation.

That is IT. And assuming you are NOT as rich as Mr C., it means your healthcare needs will either be evaluated by a bureaucrat or a businessman.

Now any regular reader of these ramblings will know that this observer is no admirer of bureaucrats – but he would still rather have one deciding his fate than a businessman whose prime concern – even legal obligation, if his company is a public one – is saving every penny he can, by whatever legal means are at his disposal. Stands to reason.

But of course, a system of socialised healthcare can only be as good as the amount of money made available to finance it. And even a well-financed system will STILL involve decisions being made on a need and ability to use basis – modern medicine is EXPENSIVE.

Nevertheless, every country has an amount of money it is prepared to spend on its healthcare – and THIS reporter would feel a HELL of a lot safer if it was in the hands of someone whose number one priority was NOT PROFIT.

One other thing, while we on this. It helps a lot if, when a doctor goofs up (it happens) ambulance-chasing lawyers are not waiting to sign up the aggrieved for a SUE-fest. The point is, doctors do their best – and it does not help ANY of us when half the money made available for healthcare is spent on LEGAL settlements.

Doctor, to man who presented with a gangrenous leg: “I have good news and bad news.” Man: “Give me the bad news first.” Doctor: “We cut off the wrong leg.” Man: “Damn! What’s the GOOD news?” Doctor: “Your other leg’s getting better.” DEAL with it!

Apr
15

WALK AWAY! Oh – you want more? Okay…

The thing is, the human brain REBELS after around ten years of doing the same thing day after day after day after DAY. It is UNNATURAL.

Thus while PROMOTION is normally considered important for raising one’s status and SALARY, its REAL value is more important than both of those put together – promotion means your JOB WILL CHANGE.

The old saying “A change is as good as a rest” is TRUE.

Without that ESSENTIAL change of duties, every seven years or so – people go POSTAL.

And it happens without warning – a small thing triggers it. We all know someone who one day knocked their coffee into their lap and suddenly went BALLISTIC – smashed up their office, then lay in a corner in the foetal position, sobbing uncontrollably.

Eventually, the men in the white coats came and carried them away. A few weeks later, they returned and everybody treated them GENTLY – for a week or two. Then, being human, everyone treated them the same as before.

Perhaps YOU WERE that person. If so, you will know the REST of the story. After a day or two’s observation, you were released from the hospital with a note for your doctor. He gave you some pills and signed you off from work for a couple of weeks – a month, if you were lucky.

Then you returned to work. After a bit, everyone began treating you as if you were the same as before – but you were NOT. You had been BROKEN – like a horse. You WILL NEVER be the same as before.

At this point, the casual reader will assume this writer has HAD one of these episodes. Well actually, NO – he SIDE-STEPPED it. When he realised he was headed that way – and knew that having a will as strong as his (not to mention a loose grip on reality) would result in him totally LOSING HIS SANITY – he did what he advised at the top of this dissertation – he WALKED AWAY.

But of course, not everyone is ABLE to. There are many who are too locked into their life-styles (a mortgage, a wife, several children, etc.) to contemplate dropping off the ladder and starting again. There ARE a number of stock-brokers who have become pig farmers, but most of them do not have FAMILIES – at least, not NOW.

Of course, this is why most companies and organisations HAVE The Ladder to begin with. They know that changing their employees’ jobs every few years will stop them having that meltdown.

However, not everyone WORKS for one of those companies. Many people find themselves in jobs that HAVE no Ladder – or find The Ladder being snatched from under them, when their company gets taken over by another – or “merges” – or simply “down-sizes”.

In fact these days, only by becoming a police officer or a soldier can you GUARANTEE that all-important Ladder.

This scribbler has known a NUMBER of people who have crashed (which is how he knows so much about the problem, without having actually EXPERIENCED it).

So how likely IS it that YOU will succumb?

Well, this observer is convinced that the British government, at least, is less than eager to reveal the true figures – and it is not hard to see why. If the truth became known, every time a person had a bad day at work, they would be convinced they were headed for the laughing academy – and QUIT. Britain would grind to a halt within WEEKS.

H.M.G. would much rather just accept the FINANCIAL cost of the crack-ups and IGNORE the HUMAN cost.

It is a bit like the legal age that children are allowed to be “latch-key kids” – no-one knows what it IS. Why? Because if the government set an age and PUBLICISED it, thousands of workers – particularly single-parents – would also have to quit.

In THAT case, H.M.G. would rather just tut-tut every time someone leaves their kids at home while they graft and returns to find their house a smoking ruin. It happens rarely – and when it does, they can simply blame the parent.

But I digress. The point is, I have seen three of my best friends and a relative go down this path. In fact the only close friend I have who worked for DECADES in a high-stress job WITHOUT imploding – only managed to keep going thanks to regular imbibitions of The Devil’s Dandruff.

And he was not alone. The line-workers in the U.S. car industry were ALL stoned during the Seventies. It was well known. Of course, the corporations insisted they were HEAVILY committed to stamping out drug use. But privately, they soft-pedalled – knowing if they REALLY came down against it, they would be out of business within a year.

One last thought – is it not ironic that the only two professions that still have The Ladder (the cops and the military) are considered “high-pressure” jobs – and as such, their employees can quit on full pension after only 25 years?

I mean, ALL jobs become high-pressure after the ten years – but with THOSE, you are expected to keep at it for up to FIFTY!

This reporter walked away after just twenty-five years – and has NEVER regretted it.

[UPDATE! For MORE on this, hit http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/morpheus-on-the-career-pyramid/ ].

Apr
07

For the full story on this HACK, we need to go back to 1960. For it was in this year that “The Magnificent Seven” emerged – it being a virtual remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 epic.

The young Sergio Leone decided a trick done once could be repeated – and so he found another Kurosawa movie – “Yojimbo” – and set about remaking that. He called it ”A Fistful Of Dollars”.

However, this first instalment of the “Dollars Trilogy” (about which, more later) did not reach an international audience for some time – because Leone neglected to make any kind of deal with Kurosawa.

It took a while for the dispute to be ironed out – the eventual settlement being a pile of cash paid to Kurosawa (ironically, a lot MORE cash than “Yojimbo” ever grossed).

But then, in 1965, came the second entry in the “Trilogy” – “For A Few Dollars More” – and once AGAIN there was trouble. Sergio had fallen out with the producers of “A Fistful Of Dollars” and when he released its “sequel”, they were somewhat miffed.

And so THEY sued. But since none of the “Dollars Trilogy” actually had anything in common – they LOST. Sergio was able to show that the similarity in titles was merely a piece of publicity bullshit. Despite having the same cast – the characters’ personalities, names and situations were NOT RELATED.

You see, the “Dollars Trilogy” WAS not and IS not a TRILOGY (in truth, NONE of Sergio’s movies were related to each other in ANY way – apart from his use of similar style, cinematography and the same composer, technicians and actors).

But when the wrangles were finally settled, this did not stop the publicity machine from pretending it WAS. In 1966, with the first two movies already in the can and “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” nearing completion, “A Fistful Of Dollars” finally burst upon the international scene.

Its trailer voice-over rumbled on about The Man With No Name (actually, he’s called Joe in the film) and said “This is the first movie of its kind” (it wasn’t – there had been a NUMBER of “spaghetti westerns” before Sergio entered the field – but none of them had gone international).

And six months later, following the ENORMOUS success of “A Fistful Of Dollars” (in ’66, most people were still used to traditional white hat vs black hat “cowboy” movies) the same voice rumbled that The Man With No Name (actually, he was Monco in this one) was BACK – and ended with “This is the SECOND movie of its kind – it won’t be the LAST.”

Which was hardly news, given the hype that had been emerging about “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” – unprecedented at the time, outside of the Bond saga.

At which point, we must examine Ennio Morricone’s involvement in the proceedings.

Ennio had been a CLASS-MATE of Sergio’s and had designed the score for “A Fistful Of Dollars”, based on some backing he had done for a cowboy-style country/pop record, a while earlier.

He went on to score ALL of Sergio’s movies for the next decade or so and RCA had the rights to release the “Dollars” scores internationally. Which they did – belatedly. (RCA was Italy’s leading international label – not surprising, considering who owned it).

It had been no use releasing the records in ’64 and ’65 – since no-one outside of Italy had SEEN the movies. They were the best-kept secret in showbiz (apart from Rock Hudson being gay).

But when “For A Few Dollars More” finally burst onto the international scene, RCA figured they’d better check out what they had. And they discovered that for both films, a lot of it was atonal music – with planks being slapped together, whistles and other peculiar noises.

Thus they decided to lift the BEST of BOTH scores and put them onto ONE album, with the highlights from “A Fistful Of Dollars” on one side and from “For A Few Dollars More” on the other. Then, to make sure it sold, they released it at BUDGET price.

And sell it did – by the bucket-load! EVERYONE bought it!

Which is why, when “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” emerged (no “Dollars” this time – and there was initially some confusion over who was the “Bad” and who was the “Ugly”) RCA, still stinging over what they saw as a major marketing BLUNDER, released the “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” soundtrack as ONE, FULL-PRICE album.

Although this writer WONDERS about that. Was it REALLY a blunder to release the best of those first two soundtracks on one, BUDGET-priced album? The thing is, albums were EXPENSIVE in those days – and one suspects that the profits from two full-priced albums added together might STILL have netted RCA LESS than the FORTUNE they glommed from the single, budget album.

We will never know (perhaps on a World far, far away…) but RCA were convinced they had sold the first two soundtracks CHEAPLY – and had NO intention of committing a FURTHER faux pas by releasing the main theme from “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” as a SINGLE.

So despite the fact that people were going around WHISTLING it (mostly BADLY – it’s a tricky backward-warble) if you wanted to BUY it, you had to shell out for the ALBUM. And despite its price, a number of people DID – but many could not.

Enter Hugo Montenegro (and not before TIME – this piece has his NAME as its TITLE, after all!)

Hugo was a mediocre composer of “chirpy” film and TV scores and themes – NONE of which were ever hits. But the theme from “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” was such a great piece, it was hard NOT to make it sound interesting.

And so Hugo set to work to arrange a cover version – and ended up creating the best thing he ever DID. Whether he was inspired by Morricone’s piece (a so-so musician often finds themself raising their GAME when pitted against a master) or just got lucky, we will never know. Suffice to say the record sold BIG-TIME.

Ironically, on RCA records.

Footnote: if you want to hear the piece in question, click on – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLJnxRPS6z4 – but if you want to hear the MASTER, your humble scribe put together a piece you can enjoy by clicking on – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNdT6FlOkhU

Mar
31

Drink up thee cider George, pass us round the mug

Drink up thee cider George, thy garden’s bare nigh dug

Thy cheeks been getting redder, from Charterhouse to Chedder

And there’s still more cider in the jug


CHORUS: Drink up thee cider, drink up thee cider

For tonight we’ll merry be

We’ll knock the milk churns[maids] over and roll ’em in the clover

The corn’s half cut and so be we


Drink up thee cider George, thee’s been going far

Drink up thee cider George, thee’s getting quite a star

There’s dung all o’er the ‘taters and ‘alf way up thee gaiters

And there’s still more cider in the jar


CHORUS: Drink up…


Drink up thee cider George, get up off the mat

Drink up thee cider George, put on thy gurt big hat

We’re off to Barrow Gurney, (for) to see my brother Ernie

And there’s still more cider in the vat

CHORUS: Drink up…


Drink up thee cider George, get it off thee chest

Drink up thee cider George, it’s time we had a rest

There’s nothing like good cider (if) to make thee smile grow wider

And there’s still more cider in The West


CHORUS: Drink up…


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eefdl43gGEM

Mar
29

Good and evil are only objective concepts.

I mean, supposing I’m an office-worker who’s on his way to a cafe to buy lunch. I only have a two-pound coin on me. Just enough for a sandwich, a coffee and a Kit-Kat. And then an attractive young girl buttonholes me, waves a tin under my nose and asks me if I can spare something for Children With Hairy Backs.

I have three courses of action. One – tell her I’m sorry, but I have no change (or I gave at the office, or some other excuse). Two – give her my two pounds, while letting her KNOW it’s my last cash (I’ve a season ticket to get me home and do not possess plastic) and I’m giving up my LUNCH for her. Or three – give her my lunch money and a smile and say nothing.

Now most people would say option one was the LEAST noble and three, the MOST noble. But to me, NONE were “noble”. With option one, I was brushing her off in favour of feeding myself. With two, I was forcing her approbation. And with three, I was simply trading a slightly empty feeling at around four pm for the girl’s smile.

People do stuff for a reason (or for no reason – in which case it’s a pointless act) and it always benefits THEM – albeit sometimes obliquely. Only viewed from the OUTSIDE does an act appear generous or mean – good or evil. From the point of view of the doer, it is always justifiable and simply IS.

Even someone who gives all they HAVE to charity may simply be doing so when they see how f***ed up the World is and decide they cannot LIVE with themselves unless they do everything they CAN. Thus, by their action, rather than gaining a warm fuzzy feeling inside, they are simply protecting themselves against feeling BAD.

Did Hitler wake up every morning and think, “What a bastard I am”? Of course not. He just saw himself as a strong leader with tough decisions to make. Did Mother Theresa wake up every morning and think, “What a wonderful person I am”? No again. She had a calling and just got on with it.

So there IS no SUBJECTIVE good and evil. Only the EFFECTS of our actions. So don’t feel smug next time you do something good. You’re as selfish as the rest of us! (But give the girl the money anyway).

Mar
13

The story that famous Scottish superbitch – sorry – supermodel, Naomi Campbell had belted another employee (her driver, this time) reminded me of another one.

I seem to recall that back in 2001, she was due to fly somewhere – but as was her wont, she was fashionably late, figuring the airline would HOLD the plane for one as important as she.

They didn’t. It left without her – and shortly thereafter, slammed into the World Trade Centre.

Is there such a thing as REVERSE-kismet?