Thursday, 24 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 24

December 24th: Finale

Yes, as all intelligent people know, day 24 is the last day of any advent calendar. If you were expecting this to continue on to a twenty-fifth day, please rest assured that I am very disappointed by your massive, massive, ignorance.

Anyway, today's idea is that, if you ever set about making an advent calendar of your ideas, make sure you have more than 23 ideas. Otherwise it will end on a bit of a damp squib, if I'm honest.

Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 23

23rd December: Film stars

It's sad but it is true: sometimes the star of your film will die whilst it is still in production. Perhaps the most famous recent example was Oliver Reed passing away during the filming of Gladiator. If this ever happens, I think that it is disrespectful to the memory of the actor to just complete their scenes with lookalikes, script changes and clever camera angles. Instead, just hire a monkey. Everyone coming to see your film will already be aware that your star had shuffled off this mortal coil, so just whack a monkey in. When you see a monkey, it will give you pause to reflect upon the deceased actor's career and particular skills, and how they were much better in their final role than a monkey might have been.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 22

December 22nd: Ice clearance

A topical idea today. The UK was visited by some wintry weather at the weekend, and it seems like a lot of council authorities have been somewhat lax in their gritting duties, particularly on lesser roads and especially on pavements. My idea is for the Grit Belt. Basically a bum bag worn on your midriff, it would contain 10-20kg of road salt and a series of holes for a steady stream of gritting in front of your feet as you walk. People unable or unwilling to use the Grit Belt could also try my Tealight Wellies, which have a candle vertically mounted to the toe of the boot, to drive off the ice with its warmth.

Monday, 21 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 21

December 21st: Electric toothbrushes

Electricity is quite a thing. In a matter of years, I reckon that the mere thought of making anything move that you could get some current to do for you will be laughable to the human race. I predict that within decades, the internet will have percolated down to some of the higher primates. Toothbrushes have not been spared this revolution, of course. I imagine toilet brushes will soon follow. However, if you are trying to lower your carbon footprint or are just in The Flintstones, a good alternative for an electric toothbrush is a bumblebee with its legs glued to a stick.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 20

December 20th: Urethrampons

I think someone should make minature tampons for men to stick up their urethra after urination, so as to prevent those unavoidable drips and drops.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 19

December 19th: Car rationalisation

A quick look outside will most likely confirm the fact that there are an awful lot of cars in the world. The vast majority of them look the same and perform fairly similarly to each other to boot, yet are made by different companies from around the world. This is a stupid waste of time, money and materials. My idea is for all the car companies to get together and decide who makes the best car in each of the classes - let's say, mini, small family, family saloon, large family estate, 4x4, sports saloon - and then, like the makers of Parmesan cheese, that company will alone be responsible for the construction and fabrication of all future models of that design. Some car companies will not like this idea, as it will turn out that they are made completely redundant by the fact that they are responsible for none of the best makes of car. However, my question to them would be whether or not being in the car manufacture business was really the right choice to begin with, seeing as they did not make especially good cars.

Friday, 18 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 18

December 18th: Hot water hats

Thanks for the inspiration for today's idea go to internet goliath Shhexy Corin, who yesterday tweeted that "hot water bottles are the future". She is quite right. Of all the old-school things which still work better than anything modern science has devised, there's a good chance the hot water bottle stands at the top of the heap, along with the potato and the old-fashioned design of citrus fruit juicer. We should celebrate them more often, especially during the winter, of course. Also good in the winter, hats. Humans lose a lot of body heat through their head, because our large brains require a lot of juice, so a good hat is crucial to staying warm when it is cold outside. My idea is to make a hot water bottle hat. This will also have the knock-on effect of strengthening the nation's neck muscles.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 17

December 17th: Sharks

It is a well-known fact that sharks represent one of the most perfectly aerodynamic shapes known to man. It is also a well-established fact that better aerodynamics means less drag, less drag means lower fuel consumption and lower fuel consumption is good for the environment. I don't think you have to be a genius to figure out the mathematics of this equation, but in case you are particularly thick, I will nevertheless spell it out. All road vehicles should be shark-shaped.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 16

December 16th: Wine

Far be it from me to criticise our supermarkets, off licences and dedicated wine merchants, but none of them have really ever grasped the motivations of the British wine consumer. Rather than lining up their bottles in sections marked by grape variety or by country of origin, all wine should be lined up in price order; left to right and from the least to the most expensive. I can't be the only person who is fed up with spending hours on their hands and knees in Sainsbury's looking for the cheapest old gut rot cooking wine they have available for my culinary purposes. Or giving as wedding presents to my enemies.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 15

December 15th: Penguins

Birds are special within the animal kingdom, not least because many of them are of those wonderful species where it is easy to tell male and female apart at a glance. Mallard ducks, for example, have a clear and separate plumage colouration indicative of sex, and they are by far from alone amongst our feathery pals. However, some of their kind are less forgiving to the casual bird sexer, as it were. My idea is that penguins should be brought into line with the mallard. Females can retain their familiar colour scheme, but I suggest males could be negatives of that - black where the female is white and vice versa. The only downside of this scheme is that it would require armies of penguin painters to get up close and personal with our fishy chums. Hardly a chore!

Monday, 14 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 14

December 14th: Pockets

Men have pockets. Women have bags. These are the general rules for carrying stuff about. Indeed, I found out recently that some commercially available women's trousers don't even HAVE pockets on them. The simple fact is that, whether they know it or not, women are missing out. My solution to society's great oversight is Nockets, which I have invented. The stick on pocket with a glue so strong you can even wear them whilst naked (hence the name). Seriously, you'd not be able to get them off again.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 13

December 13th: The rise of technology

The great irony of modern society is that the only way to publically declare that you are a Luddite is either on your blog or on Twitter. Nevertheless, the terrifying speed of development of communications and entertainment technology leaves me rather befuddled. If you'd told me, just 10 years ago, that the next mobile phone I got would most likely have the entire internet on it, I'd have told you I'd never get a mobile phone. I did, of course, such is the force for social change offered by our new trinkets. We belong to the first epoch in human history who dedicate more time to finding new ways of entertaining ourselves than we do feeding ourselves or making wheat hardier and taste like Tizer. My idea is for a moratorium to be declared on all new developments in TV, gaming and communication for five years, in order to allow people like me to catch up. Failing that, I'd like mobile phones to have a button on reading "HELP" which, when pressed, immediately dials The Samaritans and directs you to the nearest Bygones museum.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 12

December 12th: Animal names

Language is a fascinating area of study, as we all know. It can also be a barrier between us, inspiring humans to come up with various ruses such as the universal language of Esperanto. I'm not proposing anything so sweeping. However, I am well aware that in every language, there are names for all the animals and that some of them are better - more expressive of the animal in question's essence -than others. My idea, then, is to choose the best name for every animal and have a universalised set for all to use. So, the butterfly may well become a papillon (French) and the hippo could be a Flußpferd (German). However, I rather suspect that English weasels, ferrets and donkeys will remain untouched.

Friday, 11 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 11

December 11th: Climate change

Climate change is very much the topic of the day for people all over the globe, so it would be remiss of me to not try and think up an elegant solution to the growing problem. However, it is fair to say that this is quite a challenge. In the past I have rather glibly suggested that a bear could eat the excess carbon, which I STILL MAINTAIN WOULD WORK. But it seems like the time has come for a more urgent and radical solution to be found. And here it is: collect all the carbon dioxide together and fire it into space. Actually, that may not work, because space rockets are quite polluting. Give everyone their own tree and a wheelbarrow to carry it round in.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 10

December 10th: Animal Fights

Here is my idea for a TV show, called Animal Fights. Every week, a contestant has to prepare for a fight with an animal on Saturday evening's live show. The twist is that they are not told what animal it is that they will be fighting. As such, the contestants will have to prepare themselves in a broad variety of ways - mental strength as well as physical, plus psychology and in-depth research. This way, be it an adder or a kodiak bear who issues forth from behind the curtain, our protagonist will be as well-prepared as possible. With its blend of reality TV, fighting, self-betterment, educational segments and animals, this programme would tick all the boxes for 21st century TV entertainment and appeal to virtually everyone.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 9

December 9th: World Cup

Football fans amongst you may have been watching the draw for the 19th FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg last Friday evening. We now know the match schedule for the 32 qualified teams in South Africa next summer. However, you will not need to be an expert on socio-political geography to know that there are some large areas of the globe who will not be represented at the tournament. A 32 team tournament not only represents a small proportion of FIFA's 208 member nations, but from a wider perspective, the failure of China or India to qualify accounts for nearly half of the world's human population being disenfranchised! As you may have guessed, my idea is to let everyone play in the World Cup. Maybe in one giant match, last team standing wins.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 8

December 8th: Aluminium foil

Christmas is quite a foily time of the year, with many delicious foodstuffs which need to be baked in a hot oven with the modicum of protection afforded by a thin piece of metal. Indeed, so high is the demand for this miracle product, you may find yourself running out at a most inopportune moment. The solution to this is simple. Take a potato peeler and whittle some slices off a nearby car. This is particularly useful for thin foods, such as snakes or gizzards.

Monday, 7 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 7

December 7th: Advent calendars

You may have noticed, loyal reader of my idea advent calendar, that this calendar runs sequentially. This is one of the things which makes it better than a conventional advent calendar, which has its doors spread around without any rhyme or reason. If I were to make an advent calendar, the doors would open in neat rows from left to right and from top to bottom. No more searching for doors! Plus, it would be pleasingly uniform, like a Big D peanut board.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 6

December 6th: Pubic hair consolidation

Evolution has produced many strange things. The proboscis monkey. The duck-billed playpus. The hammerhead shark. However, perhaps its most peculiar trick to date is the fact that human beings still grow pubic hair. The purpose of this, no-one* knows. However, it can be a problem, especially to wearers of bikinis. My wish for the next million years of human evolution is that instead of lots and lots of inch-long curlers, the human pubic hair is consolidated into one, centrally-mounted hair of about 10-20 feet. This would be easier to conceal in thong panties and also could come in very handy for escaping if you are imprisoned in a tower.

* someone might know

Saturday, 5 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 5

December 5th: Pet choice

It is always hard to lose a pet, as they become a part of the family. So, if you have an elderly or infirm pet who is coming to the end of their life, help keep a small part of them alive by letting them choose their successor. Simply put pictures of animals on the floor and wait for them to tread, sit, lie down or vomit on one of them. In the interests of science, the list of animals (which is entirely up to you otherwise) must include a shire horse.

Friday, 4 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 4

December 4th: Vases

You never know when you're going to need a vase, but I think we all know that the need for one will always arise at some point. So, here's my idea: houses to be built with fixed vases at strategically important vase points. In fact, as a part of the house's fixtures and fittings, they could also be plumbed in to the water system and be fitted with a little tap, saving two jobs. Not only would this save hundreds of thousands of vase finding hours every year, but the rather ugly prospect of empty vases scattered around your room would see plant sales rocket and homes everywhere be filled with lovely colourful flowers and bees.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 3

December 3rd: Contact details

Our society now is more interconnected than at any time in human history, thanks to advances in electronic communications and transport technology. The majority of people in the developed world now carry with them a small box of tricks in their pocket or bag containing their entire social networks, available at the touch of a button. And yet, we still behave unspeakably to one another. Being objectionable on trains. Pushing in in line. Carving people up on the roads or with supermarket trolleys. So, here's my solution. Everyone should have their mobile phone number written on a piece of card and stuck to their front and back, like a car number plate. This would make everyone accountable to one another. Even in the worst-case scenario, it would still see annoying people spending their lives answering abusive phone calls and text messages.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 2

December 2nd: Eschatology

I grew up in turbulent and parlous times, the death-throes of the Cold War frequently producing critical moments for humanity. However, I didn't know about any of that. What I was worried about was Nostradamus. By the time we got to the fateful year 2000, I was a little more relaxed about matters. You have no time for the end of days. However, the effect the whole pre-millennium tension thing had on me as a child (and beyond, let's face it, I am an anxious oaf) has made me very mindful of the impact of end time thinking on children.

My niece will be 6 and at school in 2012, the latest in a long line of landmark dates, and I'd hate to think she'll spend a single minute worrying about Mayan doomsday prophecy theories or John Cusack. So, for anyone in that position, here's my solution. Break a mirror. This will ensure you have seven years bad luck, guaranteeing you will stumble, papercut and divorce your way to 2016 at least. When, undoubtably, there will be all sorts of new prevailing theories about dates and times of the rapture. So, get plenty of mirrors. Break a dozen.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My idea advent calendar, day 1

This year sees my 30th advent and Christmas period. As such, I thought I would mark this anniversary with a unique advent calendar of my thoughts and ideas so as to demonstrate the extent of the wisdom that time has given me.

December 1st: Bodily collections

Recently it has occurred to me that, should I ever have a child (which may not be for the best, in view of the idea I'm about to relate), I would collect all its nail clippings, bogeys, ear wax, scabs, etc. in separate vessels. In recent years, I have often wondered what such a collection of my own sloughings would look like. But to start squirreling this stuff away now, however diligently I did it, would still represent an incomplete collection. As a parent, I would be able to provide this archive for my children once they became able to decide whether or not collecting their own bodily waste was something that interested them. Parenting is all about forward planning.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Farewell to Inky Jim

The story of Inky Jim Jinkers should be one known to every schoolboy in the land. It is a story of commitment, love and, in the end addiction. As tales go, it is both romantic and cautionary. By rights, Jim Jinkers should be as famous to British people as Sir Winston Churchill or Henry VIII.

Jim Jinkers was born in 1971 to Terry and Sheila Jinkers, both shepherds. Like many people of his generation, Inky Jim was of the last intake of school pupils to have an inkwell on their desk in the classroom. During a rainy lunch break early in 1977, a friend of Jinkers' made Jim a fateful dare - I dare you to drink that ink.

From that day, he was hooked. By the end, he was drinking up to 12 bottles of ink a day, but in the early stages (as is so often the case) it seemed like his ink drinking habit was manageable, sociable. The odd blue wee aside, Jim did not start to show any ill effects until his final year at university in 1992, when all his teeth fell out. A graduate position at Parker Pens in Newhaven, East Sussex, did little to help his condition. Now a helpless addict, Jim was dismissed after 18 months when he was caught mainlining ink cartridges during tea breaks.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Jim Jinkers' short life, however, was that his ink drinking drove many women away. Jinkers' lot was a lonely one, and after the death of his father in 2001, he found himself living alone and with no-one to reign in his baser drives. By 2005 Jim was bathing in ink and waking up with a shot glass of Quink on his bedside table.

Now heavily in debt and farting brown clouds, Jim Jinkers found himself on the street for the last 12 months of his life, rooting through bins for discarded ballpoint pens and licking free newspapers at the recycling dump. His growing ink blindness was what finally accounted for him, accidentally drinking a bottle of India Ink rather than his favoured water soluable brands, which turned his colon into a Rorschach Test.

There is much that we can learn from the sad, short life of Jim Jinkers. Chief amongst these lessons, surely, is that you should not drink ink.

"Inky" Jim Jinkers, 19th January 1971 - 19th November 2009.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Neville

On Saturday at tea time, I watched the end of the film Jurassic Park. One thing and another, Jurassic Park has played a notable part in my life. I saw it in the cinema when it first came out, and it became the first big summer blockbuster that everyone was talking about that I too was able to talk about. 5 years later, I studied it in excruciating depth for my Media Studies 'A' level coursework.

Yes, I did Media Studies at 'A' level. Yes, I'm aware that it's a doss subject. That is why I picked it. I got three A grades at 'A' level, so I'm not going to sit here and have you plebby scum judge me.

All of this pales into insignificance - the cinema trip, the coursework - when my old mate Neville the T. Rex appears on screen to deliver what I think is his greatest ever performance. Life can be hard for a jobbing actor who is also a T. Rex. Whilst anti-discrimination legislation guarantees him a fair chance, it's always going to be difficult to find a role for him in EastEnders or The Bill. Really, Neville has been typecast as a T. Rex. Fans of dinosaurs will also have seen him in the BBC's documentary series Walking With Dinosaurs. He was also a body double for the 1998 remake of the film Godzilla.

Some of you may be thinking, 'surely all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are female, as made plain by the plot?'. But come on, people. You're obviously the type of person who calls out to Barbara Windsor "hello Peggy!" in the street. These people are actors. Neville, who is very much at one with his sexuality (as you might expect from someone who does all his scenes naked), and understood that he had to play a female T. Rex in the film. His sympathetic portrayal has impressed a generation of film-goers. It's just a pity that the scene in which he finds out that he's missed his period was left on the cutting room floor.

Such deceptions are not uncommon in the land of film. Katherine Hepburn was played by two midgets - Ethan and Ralph - stood on the other's shoulders for the entire shooting of On Golden Pond, Hepburn dubbing her lines in afterward. In more recent years, Harrison Ford was played by a monkey in The Fugitive.

The real test of a great film is if you can put this knowledge to one side and lose yourself in the story and the characters. Jurassic Park ticks these boxes for me. But when the credits roll, it always seems right to doff one's hat to Neville, an unsung hero of modern entertainment.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Avec crudities

Let's face it, readers, like them or not, penises have played a part in all of our lives at some point. Casting aside the Freud-inspired worship of meaty wangs, it is still easy to understand why it is they represent something which has proved irresistible to the artistic community. On nearly every toilet wall, text book inside cover or biology GCSE paper, you will find images of the phallus. There is something satisfyingly primal about these adornments. And also, amusing. Amusing, that is, if you happen to be a giggly, immature child. Fortunately, I am all of these things, and as such present for your pleasure this post here today.
Early this year, five of this country's most inspirational they-were-once-young minds found themselves in each other's company of a Saturday evening. The location was a pub in Brighton. What happened next has lain dormant in a little sketchbook ever since. The contents are so potent that it's a wonder that the book has not spontaneously ignited since, but it is posterity's gain that it has not. Because what happened next was an artistic symposium of ruinous power. Five people, one pen, one pad, one cock drawing each. The rules were simple... draw a cock. There was another rule as well, actually, and that was that there was to be no premeditative pondering. These cocks had to come from the unconscious mind. Let's have a look at them.

This is cock number one. The artist was a 39-year old male Flash™ programmer. They were born in the West Midlands, an earthy and direct place which obviously had a profound effect on this cock. Look at the pressure of the penmanship and the forcefulness of the lines. This cock is a little bullet not to be messed with. Particularly worthy of note is the urethral opening, drawn with a last flourishing stroke. This is the sort of cock which inspires confidence and respect.


This is cock number two. The artist was a 30-year old female civil servant. Unlike the creator of cock one, this artist grew up in bucolic surroundings in south eastern England, which shows in the ethereal beauty and simplicity of this cock. Particularly of note here is the meatiness of the shaft in relation to its companion knackers. This is not to diminish the importance of the balls to this drawing, the left one being particularly worthy of note... fleshy and bulbous, with three distinct and proud pubes. Topped off with a linear representation of some ejaculation, this classical image of the meat and two veg proves that classical images hold that status for a good reason.

This is cock number three. The artist was a 36-year old male working in debt collection via legal means rather than the traditional car park beatings. This is a very interesting drawing indeed. From the halting lines - compare this to the first two examples' smooth, single-stroke depiction of the willy and hangers - right up to the juiciness of the ejaculate, this is a cock to be reckoned with. Its most notable characteristic, of course, is the detail given to the glans penis. Not for this artist the simple demarcation of a single line. This cock is the sort of medically accurate drawing which would proudly adorn the printed content of a biology text book, rather than its subsequent additions.

This is cock number four. The artist was a 39-year old male computer programmer. Like the previous offering, this cock is characterised by a halting line. But just as cock three, it does not diminish the effectiveness of this musket. The pubic hairs are equidistantly distributed on a taut scrotum, whilst the penis itself is drawn at an angle which leaves the viewer in no doubt as to its tumescence. This cock, too, has an exceptionally detailed glans. Whereas the previous entry would well-illustrate a medical tome, this racier entry would be well suited to a filthy lithograph.

This is cock number five. Its artist was a 28-year old male who, uniquely for this experiment was actually an artist. Perhaps this explains the florid nature of the pubic hair detail and the style-over-substance approach to the shaft. This over-ornate offering does still have much to offer, particularly in the subtle detailing on the glans and urethral opening, and the juiciness of the spunk. However, the over-intricate balls can draw the eye away from the business end a little too much.


CONCLUSION
These five cocks represent a major body of work in the ongoing art of anatomy. Each one has its own unique character and personality, and each one has much to offer the development of the genre. However, it has to be said that cock number 4 is the standout offering. Noteworthy construction, coupled to anatomical accuracy and economy of line makes this wanger a winner. A special mention, however, must go to cock number 2, the classicism of which should inspire all who see it. It is very much my favourite offering.
However, this is not a line drawn in the sand. I welcome all further offerings of cock drawings, either in the comments or by email (link at the top of the sidebar). However, I would request that anyone wishing to submit an art does not do so anonymously, because that would be a bit too weird. Also, anyone emailing photographs of their actual cock will have their details passed on to the authorities.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Pictures for sale

The wolf being firmly at my door, it's time to try and sell some pictures. There are three here, and I also take commissions, if that floats your particular boat. All prices listed are inclusive of p&p.

Boxer (10" x 10" (with a depth of 1"), acrylic on canvas, £65)
Fabio Capello (15" x 11", marker pen and watercolour on 220 gsm cartridge paper, £50)*
Darts tournament (12" x 8", pen, ink and watercolour on 220 gsm cartridge paper, £40)

* football fans may also note I also have not-quite award winning strip Shit Shot Mungo artwork available.

If you are interested in any of the above, or a bespoke creation, email me clicking here.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Genito-urinary medicine clinic

The other day, as I am prone to do, I had a brilliant idea. I was watching some tennis after lunch, but mainly having a little post-prandial nappins because I am getting old. I was awoken by a familiar foe: my own bladder. It was full of urine which I needed to expel.

Having a full bladder is no fun. Things are very tightly packed inside your cavities, so a big melon of a bladder pushes on your other squishy bits and makes you very uncomfortable. Surely humans should have evolved their way out of this problem by now?

So, instead I hitched my cart to the Intelligent Design wagon, in as much as I am very intelligent and have designed a solution. It is simple: put the bladder in the scrotum. Please admire my diagrams (click the picture for a bigger version).
It is probably worth pointing out at this stage that this is only applicable to male genito-urinary medicine. Ladies, I'm afraid you'll have to figure out your own solution. However, with all the additional bits you have rattling round in there, I'm guessing a full bladder is probably the least of your worries.

Anyway, as you can see from Figure 1, the current urinary system is fairly elegant and, most importantly, it works. But does it work smart? The answer is no. Ergonomic design principles have been disregarded, as well as your most tender assets - your cobblers - reduced to hanging exposed where any passing child or slighted woman may kick them. So, to Figure 2. As you can see, I have moved the bladder to the scrotal sac. This will free up vital space in your peritoneal cavity for that extra sausage or a slice of pie. Also, the wrinkled skin of the scrotum will allow the bladder to inflate to a good 3 or 4 litre capacity - rather than its current meek single unit - giving the busy male extra time between wees. NOT TO MENTION the additional bonus of a huge package.

Obviously, this change is not without its difficulties. The testes would have to grow accustomed to the rather darker surroundings of the renal system. Perhaps more troublesome would be man's pesky old enemy, gravity. With the bladder lower than the urethra, evacuation could prove problematic, although a spirited squeeze - akin to that of a bagpipe player - should resolve any really stubborn dregs.

The issue which needs to be most urgently addressed, however, is that I have just noticed that the bladder isn't technically connected to the urethra in any way. There's a chance that Figure 2 won't work. No, it won't. Bugger.

As you were.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Wimblemund part 2: Numbers

Yesterday, every British player bar Andrew Murray and Elena Baltacha were sent packing and the BBC helpfully pushed some footage of Anne Keothavong leaving her press conference in tears after some rotten 'quick, prod a stick in it' questions from the floor. The BBC HD channel even had an option where you could watch the replay and taste her tears as they ran down the screen. I'm not going to say that interrupting the coverage of the Murray match to show us this and then sticking it up on the website so we could all watch it again was distasteful in any way. No, in fact, I am. The BBC do a brilliant job year-in, year-out at Wimbledon, but this was prurient gutter journalism of the worst kind. Thanks, BBC.

The match which really caught my attention yesterday was the first one on Court 2. Caroline Wozniacki, who last week won Eastbourne and is the youngest woman in the top 10, beat Kimiko Date Krumm in three sets, picking up confidence all the way through as Date Krumm flagged. This is perhaps understandable. At 38 - 39 later this year - Date Krumm is the oldest person in this year's singles draw. Wimbledon fans may remember her from 1996, where in her pre-marriage incarnation as Kimiko Date she took Steffi Graf to a deciding set in the semi-final. The fascination for me was the age difference on display in yesterday's match. Date Krumm turned professional in 1989, a full year before her opponent was even born. This kind of differential is remarkable, as it would be in numerous sports. Tennis at the top level is a preserve of the young. Roger Federer, at 27, is considered a veteran whilst if you stick a pin in the ladies' singles draw you can pretty much guarantee that one of the competitors in the match you selected will have been born in the 1990s.

More notable still is the fact that Kimiko Date Krumm just returned to the circuit last year after a 12 year absence. The thing about doing this is not just the fact that when you step back out on court you'll most likely be playing someone who was in nappies when you last walked off. Tennis is run by the rankings system. It dictates your position in the draw, it even limits which events you are permitted to enter. A low-ranked player, if they are fortunate enough to qualify for a Grand Slam tournament or be given a wildcard entry by the organisers will almost certainly be rewarded with a spectacularly unwinnable first round match. You're the world number 348. You're excited to be out on Centre Court at Wimbledon, but the key thing to remember is that, after you've knocked your pipe ash out on your shoe, finished your sausage roll and fixed your racquet with sellotape, you have to play the world number 5. He's 7 foot 4. He looks like Boris Karloff and serves at 160 mph. He's taking you down to Chinatown.

Date Krumm, whose highest ranking was number 4 in late-1995 is now ranked 142. Aside from admiring the physical conditioning which she must have maintained, just as impressive is the mental strength to start slogging away again. Because the rankings hold no sentiment, they are cold, hard - and often incomprehensible - facts. Nevertheless, 142 is pretty good for someone who has been out of the system for over a decade. And it got me thinking about how to improve and extend the relevance of rankings in sport.

Needless to say, my idea is almost bewilderingly stupid as well as being totally unsustainable. However, I can't help but feel it would benefit everyone in the world if we all had a ranking. As well as being a shorthand indicator of excellence, it would give greater meaning to those men and women currently in the world top 10. There are approximately 3 billion men and 3 billion women in the world. If you're Rafael Nadal, suddenly you become the best one from a monumental field rather than an exclusive bunch of sweaty herberts. I am fabulously bad at tennis. However, I can't believe I am the only one. I reckon that, as an able-bodied adult male from Northern Europe, I could make the top 1 billion. Just thinking about that has increased my own feelings of self-worth and positivity. This system will work.

Of course, the downside of this framework will be for the poor soul ranked 3 billion. He or she will almost certainly commit suicide. Luckily, they will probably fail, such is their dazzling ineptitude. Yes, this system will bloody work!

P.S. There has been an elephant in the room throughout this post, so I had better lay my cards on the table (and mix as many metaphors as I can): Caroline Wozniacki is really beautiful. There. I said it.

P.P.S. The 7'4", big serving goliath who looks like Boris Karloff may very well be based on Argentine number 1
Juan Martin Del Potro, who bludgeoned Arnaud Clement yesterday in straight sets. He's my outside tip for the title this year, sports fans.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Wimblemund part 1: British women's tennis


There are eleven British players entered in this year's Wimbledon singles championships - five men and six women. This is a number which may also be expressed as Andrew Murray and ten other goons. However, with all the focus on Andrew Murray in the build-up to the tournament and with me being a pervert, I decided to perversely take a look at the fortunes of the British women instead.

This tends to be fairly easy on the whole. No more than a few hours work, anyway. The total capitulation of the British women is as traditional a part of Wimbledon these days as someone with a stupid hat on gurning at the big screen on Henman Hill. It is perhaps worth reflecting, then, that since the beginning of the Open era in tennis (1968, as you WELL KNOW) it is only Britain's female players - rather than their male counterparts - who have managed to make trophy engravers at the Grand Slams get their little chisel out and start wittling. For all the sweaty, frenzied, menopausal expectations thrown at poor old Tim Henman, he never made it to a Grand Slam final, whilst John Lloyd (Australian Open (December) 1977), Greg Rusedski (US Open 1997) and Andrew Murray (US Open 2008) all fell at the final hurdle. And that's your lot. Buster Mottram doesn't even get a look in.

Our lady players, on the other hand, won five Grand Slam titles between 1968 and 1977. The most famous of these was the last, probably as it is always cited as the last British singles success at Wimbledon as we all go mad, reflecting on how Jeremy Bates just made it to the 3rd round. However, Virginia Wade also won in Australia (1972) and at the US Open (1968) when both tournaments were played on grass. She is joined by Ann Jones, who won Wimbledon in 1969 and Sue "Sue Barker" Barker, who won Roland Garros in 1976. With Ann Jones also being twice a beaten Grand Slam finalist, it's really the success of Britain's women who Andrew Murray is seeking to emulate, whether or not he knows it. Does he know it? Probably not.

Virginia Wade's 1977 Wimbledon win remains, however, the last time a British woman reached a Grand Slam final, and the tail-off since then has been pretty rapid. Britain's top player these days is Anne Keothavong, the world number 51. She is joined in the draw by her four immediate subordinates: Elena Baltacha (106), Katie O'Brien (108), Mel South (129) and Georgie Stoop (185) as well as last year's Wimbledon junior champion, Laura Robson, beaten yesterday afternoon in only her second ever senior tour match by Daniela Hantuchova. Laura Robson, hereafter to be known as Flora because she looks like a Flora, played with great verve to win the first set but just couldn't keep the pace against Daniela "Jittery Lil" Hantuchova, a former top-10 player. Still, it was a mature performance by Flora. In fact, the locker room onanists had already reached the vinegar strokes before someone reminded them that Flora is still only 15 years old and that what they were doing was wrong on multiple strata.

Flora, then, is very much on the radar for the future, but in 2009 she has reassuringly kept to the framework established over the past 30 years and been knocked out in the first round. Mel South obligingly joined her late yesterday evening. Georgie Stoop, however, is putting up a disconcertingly strong fight against Vera Zvonereva, the seventh seed, having just won the second set to take it to a decider when bad light stopped them last night. Keovathong, Baltacha and O'Brien all start their campaigns today. There are 128 people in a Grand Slam singles draw, so if mathematics is any guide (it isn't) and the WTA rankings are an accurate reflection of ability in the women's game (they're not), only Keothavong will make it to the last 64 and match her best ever performance in SW19, the second round in 2008. She plays Patricia Mayr of Austria, ranked 80, second on Court 4. O'Brien and Baltacha, meanwhile, face difficult challenges in Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic and Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine, ranked 35 and 33 respectively.

The problem Britain's women really face, particularly at Wimbledon, is the schizophrenia of British tennis fans. We tend to start off with profoundly low expectations and relentless pessimism. However, should Keothavong progress again today, or Georgie Stoop pull off a huge shock against Vera Zvonereva (she of the best name in women's tennis), our thoughts will immediately turn to Virginia Wade once more. Whilst it would be wrong to blame the film Wimbledon for this, it is almost overbearingly formulaic, two stars.

Grunting news

Yesterday saw some insane grunting. The grunting day started badly, as I watched BBC Sports reporter Mike Bushell get all doe-eyed over world number 4 Elena Dementieva. In a traditional sports VT, we saw Dementieva, last year's Olympic champion, knocking a few balls about with Bushell, who used to be on BBC South Today. Yet even this rather meagre workout had her shrieking like a grilled baboon. Signs were bad for when serious play began, and duly Maria Sharapova peeled the paint off of Sue Barker's teeth. Sharapova has been, in recent years, the single outstanding maker of mammalian noises on court but her title is under threat from a 16-year old Portuguese player, Michelle Larcher de Brito. She also progressed yesterday, as Klara Zakopalova's ears fell off and caught fire on Court 17. Sharapova and Brito are in the same half of the draw. Should an unlikely semi-final match between the two materialise, I'm going to Greenland with pieces of cheese in my ears.

Could British women's lack of success be due to their relative inability to grunt, shriek and orgasm their way through their matches? It's doubtful. It's just what makes them better people. Everyone loses eventually, so it's so much nicer to do it with a modicum of decorum. In a forum. Drinking some rum. Up yer bum.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Vinegar review

Everyone loves vinegar, it is a savoury delight with almost three known uses. However, if you're like me, you will be baffled by the array of vinegars you can find in your local store's vinegar aisle. Further complicating matters, upmarket stores such as Oil & Vinegar sell speciality vinegars galore, when all a lot of us want is a cooling vinegary sip at the end of the day.

Continuing in this site's proud vein of public service, I have decided to review all the vinegars you may be confronted with in your daily life, so as to make at least one vital part of every day as trouble-free as possible.

Sarson's Malt Vinegar

The undisputed market leader for all your chip needs, Sarsons boast that 5.5 million litres of their vinegar is sloshed onto the nation's chips every year. How would it stand up to our three-point test, though?

THE CHIP TEST: Sarson's plays its trump card here. A fine chip vinegar, redolent with vinegar flavour and a vinegary nose. Our score: 10/10

THE SALAD DRESSING TEST: Malt vinegar is generally thought to be too full-bodied to make a good salad dressing, and this is no exception. Upon my Sarson's Vinaigrette making contact with my carefully prepared leafy salad, all the leaves melted down to a small pellet of cud. And then the bowl caught fire. 2/10

THE PINT OF VINEGAR TEST: Drinking a pint of Sarson's - long famous as part of the initiation ceremony for new cBeebies presenters - is an exciting experience, although not for the newcomer. The malty goodness warms the palate as the acetic acid works on your teeth. This superior flavour is particularly welcomed during the vomiting stage. 8/10

Our total for Sarson's: 20/30 a high watermark for its rivals.

NOTES: Sarson's also provide a light version of their vinegar, which fared a little worse on the chip test but a little better with the salad, plus being more forgiving for any freshman pint drinkers. Also in their range is a pickling-strength product. This absolutely marmalised the chips, atomised the salad and created a strong sense of malaise during the pint test.

Dufrais Wine Vinegar

A common sight on supermarket shelves, Dufrais lead the UK speciality vinegar market, shifting 1.5 million units per year. Most common are the white wine, red wine and cider varieties. So as to factor in all of their different qualities, we mixed them together in a big bucket.

CHIPS: A sophisticated and different twist, wicider vinegar on the chip provides a hearty fruit flavour and a growing sense of one's elevation up the class ladder. 5/10

SALAD: The speciality vinegar's trump card. A deliciously fragrant addition to a pile of old green bits. 10/10

PINT: The subtler flavour, compared to malt varieties, is initially welcomed by the careworn and bleeding palate, but the vomit from the wicider vinegar was particularly harsh and melted our toilet. 3/10

OVERALL: 18/30

Supermarket own-brands

For all of the choice of malt or fruit vinegars, one must also remember that for every name brand there will be another dozen supermarkets'-own varieties (I included the leftover vinegar from a chip shop's jar of pickled eggs within this test). Again, the mixing bucket came out for this one.

CHIP: Brutal 1/10

SALAD: Ruinous 2/10

PINT: Oh god 0/10

OVERALL: 3/30 - best avoided


Del Cristo Balsamic Vinegar

The king of the vinegars, Balsamic has undergone a huge growth in popularity in the past decade, with every household in the UK now owning at least 400 bottles. The range, as is so often the case, is enormous. For this test, we forewent the bucket and instead settled on the top of the range Del Cristo, retailing at £96.57 for 100 ml.

CHIP: A delightful, sweet and richly bodied sensation. Delicious. 10/10

SALAD: Another area in which balsamic vinegar excels, Del Cristo made a salad so good an angel proposed to me. 10/10

PINT: Although balsamic vinegar is a little thicker and sweeter than standard vinegars, a pint of Del Cristo (£548.77) slipped down a treat. Not only was the vomit limited to some spirited belching, the palate was suitably tickled by the sensation to suggest an accompaniment of some Nice 'n' Spicy Nik Naks, which made me puke like a horse. 9/10

OVERALL: 29/30 - a real winner

CONCLUSION: if you are looking for a really nice vinegar which is both flavoursome and versatile, look no further than Del Cristo Balsamic Vinegar!

Warning: do not attempt to drink a pint of vinegar without adult supervision.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

A unique chance to own some tat!

As my band of devotees will of course know, I have been drawing a strip for a better blog than this, twohundredpercent.net, for the last 17 weeks. It is called Shit Shot Mungo and it is about a football player called Mungo who is shit at shooting. You can find them all here.

Mungo will take a break of sorts for the next 10 weeks, the strip replaced with some other stuff I will be doing about the lives and careers of Mungo and his loyal teammates. I'm taking this opportunity to ruthlessly try and flog off the original artwork of the first 17 strips.

Each one is 24 x 20 cm in size, on a single A4-size sheet of 165 gsm white card. The first strip also features the Shit Shot Mungo header, which I then copied and pasted onto the subsequent sixteen outings. They will all be signed by me, a guarantee of authenticity and no mistake. They could be yours for £20 (inclusive of postage) each, with discounts negotiable for bulk buyers. I will do my best to keep this page updated with the ones which are still available as soon as a sale is made. Such is the nature of this sort of thing, however, I must apologise in advance if you cannot get the one you wanted.

If you are interested on owning a genuine, if minor, piece of internet history, email me by clicking on this: THIS.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Consolidation - a revolution in farts

As I'm sure you are all aware, whoever smelt it, dealt it. Whoever made the rhyme also committed the crime. However, far from this being a solipsistic post of auto-accusation regarding trumps, I confidently predict that this will be the beginning of a new era for human society. I will probably receive no credit for this, but I will know where the responsibility for this global revolution will lie and sate myself with this knowledge.

Before society collapsed and we all had to resort to trading in bark and pebbles, television was full of adverts for companies who would consolidate all of a person's individual debts into one handy, massive, monthly repayment. These days are now past, but the idea will live on. In your trousers.

The average human being produces about half a litre of gas a day, the internet helpfully informs me. It goes on to add that this is, on average, spaced out into 14 handy-sized farts. Some lucky individuals may achieve thirty or more farts a day, depending on diet, activity level and natural wit. I'm sure the more intelligent amongst you have already guessed where I am going with this, but, here's my idea. Fart consolidation. Every human being in the world will have their daily outgoings pooled into one huge, loud, smelly fart, to be done once a day. Crucially, this will be at the same time every day for everyone.

This will have two major effects. Firstly, hilarity. Imagine the sound and the smell. Once a day, the whole world would trill to the tremulous rumblings of 3 billion litres of bottom air. It would be like living next to an olden day factory when the lunch horn went off. A factory which perhaps dealt solely in the manufacture of egg salads. It would blow snow off high peaks, alter weather patterns and scare the cows. A display of unity from an otherwise disparate world. Far be it from me to suggest that everybody doing one big fart at the same time as each other would help us towards world peace, but, it would.

This theme of togetherness is continued in the second key effect. The fact the whole world tipped their hat at the same time would remove the stigma of the smelly fart. Instead of the laughter, the accusation and the pointing, human beings would instead simply embrace and congratulate one another on the wonderful malodour they had together created in a great stink tapestry.

Obviously, and as with any major social revolution, concessions will have to be made in other areas as life as we currently know it. But when we set out to break down paradigms, that is only to be expected. I fully anticipate that manufacturers of lifts, scented candles and cigarette lighters will do their best to resist these changes, whilst the people who make wallpaper, underpants and pomanders will be rushed off their feet. But this is a step for which humanity is ready. The economic model has proven itself to be too flawed to alone be a blueprint for existence. This humanistic and repugnantly accrid act will be human beings stood side-by-side, reclaiming the world for themselves and gassing half the pigeons. Let us start tomorrow. Hold in your farts. You have nothing to lose but your dignity.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Cat food - the verdict is finally in


This is Charlie. He is my cat. Charlie is 15 years old and, like anyone of his advanced years, has manky teeth. Last summer, the vet had to take half of them away.

Since then he's done battle with food, which is easily his favourite thing in the world regardless. He has suffered through sore mouth and sore gums, as well as putting us through that classic old feline standby, "I'm not eating that shit".

Quixotic even before this mouth jamboree went down, the past 8 months have seen us trying to strategically plan his meals to ensure he will eat his food. As such, I am now as expert as you can possibly be about cat food without eating the stuff. Although I did once eat a Whiskas kibble. Bone-shaped. Very bland. Don't judge me.

Anyway, here it is. Forget what the adverts tell you, this is now the final assessment of the cat food available in high-street stores across the land, written with the help of that festering, hairy, stinky tub of lard up there.

Whiskas

Very much still the market leader. Eight out of ten cats, they used to say, prefer it. Statistics prove nothing for individual cases, of course, so let's get down to brass tacks. The first thing to say about Whiskas is that it comes in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, textures and flavours. The makers are clearly hyper-aware of their demographic, as cats are picky little bastards. So, let's break it down (with a fork):

Whiskas tins (chunks in jelly)
These vast monoliths were, until the invention of the tin opener, worshipped by primitive man. Upon the invention of that vital trinket, primitive man discovered they could feed the smelly innards to up to 40 billion cats per can. If you are a mad cat lady, big tins are probably the only economical solution. If you have only one cat, it had better be a lion.
Charlie's verdict: I don't like this. When it's fresh out of the tin it is not nice. After a while it is like bits of pencil eraser in a stinky brown puddle. Do not feed this to me.

Whiskas tins (pate-style)
Like the chunks, only a more homogenous mix, less prone to separating and making the world a more unpleasant place.
Charlie's verdict: I'm going out.

Whiskas sachets
The single-serve food in a handy pouch! A revolution in cat science. These come in a dazzling array, too. However, no cat enjoys them quite as much as the free sample pack we received from Whiskas. Seemingly identical to the ones in the shops, they were laced with some deliciousness which turned the domestic cat into a vacuum cleaner which later ones just don't seem to have.
Charlie's verdict: These are nice. I particularly like the chicken in jelly one and all of the country pate range except for beef flavour. Beef flavour is disgusting. If you try and feed me beef flavour I will 'accidentally' miss in the litter tray in protest. I also don't like the gravy range. Well, I like the gravy, but I'm damned if I'm going to eat the bits floating around in it. However, Whiskas oh-so-meaty is brilliant and I want to bathe in it. Top marks.

Felix

Cats like Felix, like Felix! So says the advert, featuring the cutesy prancing of a cat who is demonstrably an animated cartoon. Charlie is not like Felix. Charlie would like to eat Felix and chase it with some Felix. Accordingly, as he gets more elderly, curmudgeonly and creaky, he seems to like Felix less and less.

Felix tins (chunks in jelly)
Like Whiskas but spelt different.
Charlie's verdict: I don't like this. When it's fresh out of the tin it is not nice. After a while it is like bits of pencil eraser in a stinky brown puddle. Do not feed this to me.

Felix sachets
Similar to the Whiskas ones, but nevertheless different. Sadly, I could probably pick Felix out from a line-up of Whiskas.
Charlie's verdict: These are alright. Feed me these when I am not expecting it. Do not try and feed me these two meals in a row or I will stink and hair this joint up in protest.

Sheba

Named after the Roman goddess of flatulence, Sheba has always angled itself towards the luxury market. However, since the crazy influx of really high-end cat food into the market in recent years, it looks increasingly less specialised. The sort of food advertised with a sprig of parsley on the cat's plate.

Sheba trays
Individual serving packs with a peel-back foil lid. These are mostly pate-style (after all, this is a luxury product, ambassador), although some gravy variants do exist. The most commonly available flavours seem to be yellow, orange and green. Or whatever the meat equivalent is. These look and smell the same going in and coming out.
Charlie's verdict: I am a big fan of Sheba. They fit my luxurious lifestyle. My favourite flavour is yellow, which is handy because it is the easiest to find in shops. I AM TOLD. This morning I had an orange one, which was quite nice. But then I went out.

Shop own-brand

Generally speaking, I am a complete slave to advertising and mass marketing, so rarely get shop own-brand cat food. However, we once tried these in desperation and by god, it worked. The products in question here are all of the Sheba-me-do foil tray variety.

Co-op Gourmet
Ethically sustainable socialist Sheba variant. Similarly packaged, the contents are a little less sophisticated and, duly, a little cheaper. Cats have almost no discernment, though.
Charlie's verdict: These are nice. I like the fact they are soft. I do not like the fact that the most commonly served one (chicken and salmon, folks) has great chewy lumps of chicken gristle and big solid lumps of wooden stuff. What up with that shit?

Sainsbury's

Marks and Spencer

Charlie's verdict: Like Felix pouches, I will eat these if you surprise me with them, but not as a routine. I am not an animal.

Hi-Life

Hi-Life pride themselves on being full to the brim with MEAT or FISH, rather than carrot, ash and bogeys. As such, cats like them. Or that's the theory.

Hi-Life pouches
Like a tin of sardines after a nuclear war.
Charlie's verdict: These are sometimes OK. They are full of big lumps of real sardine! But I don't like sardine.

Hi-Life Petit Pate
Tiny cans of super-fine mush. Stinky meaty mush. Stinky meaty mush for cats.
Charlie's verdict: These are awesome. They have no lumps in and I can eat them without chewing. In days past I would have just eaten the tin whole and crapped out the label later.

The final reckoning

The ultimate desert island selection must surely be Whiskas oh-so-meaty (Chicken flavour), Sheba (Chicken and turkey) and Hi-Life Petit Pate (Chicken flavour). So why is he so picky about eating actual bloody chicken these days? My advice to you if you happen to find yourself on a desert island with my cat is to chuck him in the sea and be done with it.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Drawing without prejudice

Yesterday I got my crayons out and drew away, probably with my tongue sticking out of my mouth, whilst I was watching the delights of FiveUSA's CSI Sunday. For reasons I don't understand, this always begins with an episode of Numb3rs, which baffles me to the point that I get angry about its existence. Either way, the results are there for all to see, click the thumbnail for (wallpaper-sized, in fact) full splendour.

Anyway, the importance of such absent-minded drawing without purpose came flooding back to me yesterday evening. Just look at the progress I made! No, honestly, that page there contains at least one revolutionary concept, as well as a particularly neat trench coat-wearing gent. I walloped him out in a minute or so, thanks to CSI, Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry and a lurking hitchhiker going round murdering people.

I'm not going to tell you the precise thing which has revolutionised drawing for me. Principally because I think it's pretty obvious on the page, but also because spies are probably lurking, waiting to steal my ideas.

If this hasn't put you off art forever, I still have two pictures for sale. I also hope to have some new stuff up soon. There's a link to the relevant post in my sidebar for all you collectors out there.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Yes, that's the sensible thing to do

This blog post will, I hope, serve to help me remember that the leader of the Liberal Democrats is called Nick Clegg. It has definitely reminded me that, before I saw his picture in this article, I had never seen what he looked like before.

A few points:
  1. I salute the faultless logic at play here. What this country needs to get itself out of it's worst self-imposed financial crisis in nearly 80 years is definitely political leadership from a party who've never been in power in their current guise, and who last held the top office in Britain in any form on 16th October 1922. I love this plan. I'm excited to be a part of it.
  2. Scholars of language will notice my choice of words in the first paragraph. Article, rather than "news story". It's another piece of non-news. At least let the man give the speech before you report on it, for heaven's sake.
  3. The leader of the Liberal Democrats is called Nick Clegg. Nick Clegg Nick Clegg.
  4. I don't understand economics at all. This week I have, part by accident and part by design, watched a lot of documentaries about Margaret Thatcher. Her key political legacy to the UK - whether you think it's good or bad, pinkos - was, at its core, an economic one. Her free market political thinking was intellectually justified, indeed, by the writings of the economist Friedrich von Hayek. Even in spite of this continual assault of Thatcher on my brain, I still have no idea about economics. My idea to solve the economic problems is for everyone to stop being so silly.
  5. Thatcher crushing the unions was a good thing, no matter what grubby pinkos will tell you otherwise. Especially the sort of Newsnight Review grubby pinko who have never even seen a lump of coal in their life, because they used to get their butlers to deal with it.
That ought to do it.

P.S. the sixth point may well be that sometimes I like to make deliberately controversial statements in the fifth point of a five-point list for no other reason but to get a rise out of people and in so doing amuse myself. Who knows?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Personal failings writ large

Hello. In his description of this blog on his site's link page, internet legend twohundredpercent describes this blog as "likely to be updated five times a day for a week and then not at all for two months". This is as accurate an assessment of anything that you will ever encounter. However, in the spirit of trying to break the vicious (yet sexy) cycle, I have decided to do a blog post about all the blog posts I keep meaning to do. This will serve to at least cruelly mock you with an indication of what you're missing, but at most give me a kick up the bot-bot.
  • My favourite twenty Bob Dylan songs. I have already worked out what they are.
  • My favourite albums which are 30 minutes long or less. I have not yet worked these out.
  • Stylistic cock and balls drawing 101. In this exceptional post, I plan to assess five different hastily drawn cocks which we drew in my book the other week in the pub, on the basis of their artistic and social merit.
  • Formula 1 season 2009 preview, which I should probably do on my motor racing-only blog if I can only remember where the hell it is. Equally, however, it's arguable that I don't have sufficient material for one blog, let alone several and so I should just CONSOLODATE.
  • A biography of internet celebrity Sir Sand Goblin. I just this second thought that up, but it seems to have promise.
  • Reasons I hate people complaining that I never update my blog, especially (as is usually the case) seeing as they either don't have one themselves or do but never update it. And complaining about it being substandard when I do. What am I, Proust?
Well. There's something to look forward to, eh?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Trimble Trouble

So, here's the deal. I've decided to not say anything about Britain's new cleverest person in all history™ Gail Trimble. Partially because she's clever enough to think me under the table and put a fie on my knackers. Or hoof them. But also because I don't understand all the clamour, all the snarkiness and all the farrago. It strikes me as a little unfair to give the same sort of coverage normally reserved for Jade Goody, Kerry Katona or Jordan, to a woman with enough brainpower to potentially succumb to a confused existentialist fug instead.

Personally, I think such a stellar intellectual performance should, if anything, be hushed up. If word gets out, they'll be wanting the VOTE next.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The burgeoning TV career of Piers Morgan

Like many Britons, I have managed to keep my enthusiasm for Piers Morgan in check for many, many years. However, he's become somewhat ubiquitous on telly now, with ITV1 deciding he's the ideal frontman for their most intellectually stimulating programmes, i.e. those ones with adverbs in. With his latest offering - Piers Morgan Interviews D-List Celebrities and Makes Them Cry - beginning this weekend, I thought I would take the opportunity to offer my ideas for his subsequent project.

The Road to Wigan Piers
Piers Morgan attempts to find the Greater Manchester town by driving a classic car down six British thoroughfares, meeting fascinating people on the way, before eventually finding out that the road to Wigan is the A49, off junction 25 of the M6.

Blackpool Has Three Piers
Piers Morgan spends the summer in a horse-drawn caravan in the Lancashire resort, finding things which Blackpool has no more or less than three of. Excitement ensues in episode 2 (of three) when Piers thinks he's found three food processing factories but one of them turns out to be just in Fleetwood.

Earn The Respect of Your Piers
Piers Morgan takes on the Alan Sugar role, as he judges the efforts of 12 budding national newspaper editors. Over 10 action-packed weeks, Piers guides the hopefuls through a series of weekly challenges such as: printing a ludicrously anachronistic piece of petty jingoism on the front page, and publishing a waspishly judgemental criticism of British army personnel in Iraq based on photographs which turn out to be a hoax, all in the mistaken impression that your newspaper is a weighty and substantial political player on account of the fact it doesn't print topless women on page three. Then printing a grovelling apology. Then being sacked.

Victorian Piers
Following on from the success of the BBC's Three Men in a Boat strand, Piers Morgan, along with two mates called Victor and Ian, go on a canal barge holiday around the UK proving that they are all one of the lads by lighting their farts.

Pea Ears Piers
Piers Morgan sticks a load of peas in his ears...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Historical revisionism?

I was reading a very sad yet very fascinating story on the BBC news site this lunchtime when I was interrupted by a bloody chugger, tap tap tapping at my chamber door, no less. Have the streets run out of people to persecute, forcing these wretched examples of humanity to go door-to-door? Could they not try the homeless first? "For just a small percentage of your lager money/Big Issue pay packet, you could help save deaf children from being bullied at school". "Well, as a man who has lived on the streets for five years, I'd like to first say that such a thought is deeply concerning". This is something of a digression, but still: chuggers can just bugger off.

Anyway, the BBC informed me of two things I did not know. Firstly, that at the weekend, when I was out being sophisticated and eating food, hero of our times Max Clifford revealed that the prognosis for Jade Goody's cancer is now extremely bleak, with Goody being given just months to live. Secondly, I discovered that Gordon Brown found this fact out before me, and commented on it at his regular press briefing. Jade Goody looks set, if her doctors are right, to spend her last few months as an extremely visible presence in the UK's life.

The basic fact is that this story is very sad. Goody is only 27 years old and has two young children. To her credit, she seems set to use her swansong for a massive media event marriage and other 21st Century trappings, exploiting the fact that she can command massive fees for doing so, so as to try and secure as comfortable a future as possible for her family. She should be commended for her actions.

Jade has, for better or worse depending on your opinion, very much entered the British public consciousness. It's difficult, then, to not feel sorry for her, living in one of the most unenviable situations imaginable whilst also being one of the other most unenviable situations - tabloid fame. It would be just as wrong, however, to lose sight of the fact that the root of this fame came from being swelteringly common, stupid and unpopular after her appearance on Big Brother. Subsequently embellished with a spell of being swelteringly common, stupid, unpopular and racist on Celebrity Big Brother. Since then she's been a fitness guru, a model, an A-lister, an F-lister, paparazzi fodder, a magazine columnist and a fashion icon. If we are living in the Big Brother era, where fame is seemingly handed out to the most bewildering recipient in the United Kingdom on an annual basis, Jade Goody is its flag-bearer. I predict that a state funeral will be granted any time now.

It has given me cause to reflect on the legacy of human beings, particularly those in the public eye. People who choose to remember Princess Diana's marital infidelities over the fact she was the sainted princess of all our very hearts are regularly burned in the streets. Fans of Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross beheaded at Traitor's Gate. The polarised view of the world troubles me slightly. It's rather un-British in the way it caters to a black-or-white mindset, an extremist view of the world. A return to anything resembling balance would be very nice. People do stupid things, thoughtless things, good things, smelly things, funny things, appalling things, because they are people. I personally manage to tick the majority of those boxes every single day. But it's OK, because I'm a person. People all realise that, too, even, I like to believe, the people who fill the newsstands with screaming, judgemental hyperbole every day. I just hope that when I go, I'm not remembered purely for the best thing I ever did, the worst thing I ever did or the last thing I ever did*.

* unless it involves a jet pack

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Round-up


In the relentless quest towards personal gain cunningly disguised as an attempt to revive the flagging world economy, you're always bound to forget something. The above picture is also for sale, and should have been included in yesterday's post. I've now revised that post to include its details.

In general round-up news, my friend managed to guess who the killer was in ITV1's excellent three-part scary drama Whitechapel from a one line utterance - and perhaps its intonation, let's be generous - in episode two. Whereas I, long-time Ripper case enthusiast, merely sat there pooing in my pants and sleeping with the light on. I was a combination of hugely impressed at her analytical skill and massively disappointed at my own lack of one. Anyway, despite what some knuckle-dragging TV critics might have said (although, to be honest, I have no idea as I don't read them) or any assumptions you may have made (let's face it, it's a drama, it's on ITV...), Whitechapel was excellent, I thought. If you're in the UK, you can watch it all here for the next 26 days.

Also, those of you of an entymological bent may be able to assist with a bug puzzler from last night. Upon going to bed, I removed a beetle from the carpet and ushered it out the window into the streets where the likes of him belong. I carefully trapped him twixt a jar and a piece of paper. Upon putting everything back, the whole world smelt of apples. It was actually quite a pleasant smell. If the beetle was trying to scare me off with it, it didn't work. I actually went back to see if I could find it to put it to work as an air freshener, but alas it was gone. Probably to find a big enough jar to get revenge on me.

The beetle in question was about half an inch long, clearly segmented, dark brown and with highly-distinguished flattened segments on its rearmost legs. A cursory glance at the interwebs seemed to suggest it might be a Conifer Seed Beetle, a recent immigrant to Europe from the Americas and first spotted in Britain last year in Hastings. I live about 40 miles down the coast from Hastings to the west. Could the beetle have bought a car? Or could it have been another, more commonplace, insect which also has a delicious, appley, distress fart? Help me, science!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

TV schedulers take note

There are countless channels on Freeview which, for people who for baffling reasons don't live in the UK, is our digital terrestrial TV service. I probably could count them, on a technicality. But I don't want to. I even tried to start for the sake of accuracy in this post but got bored. So, suffice to say, then, that Freeview provides enough TV channels.

Words alone cannot express the sense of moral desolation and anger I feel, therefore, when I turn on the TV and find that there is absolutely nothing worth watching. At all. Come on, people. There can't possibly be an excuse for that, surely?

If it weren't for iPlayer and its perky ITV and Channel 4 equivalents, I think I'd probably revert to a feral state and have to be talked down out of a tree by Ray Mears. If the people who run television can deal with that on their conscience, so be it.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Good news for society

Heartening news from America, as the woman who held the world record for the longest fingernails lost them following a motor accident. The nails are, it seems, beyond repair (why would you want to repair a fingernail?) but the manky woman they are attached to will seemingly make a complete recovery.

The fingernails were older than me, it seems, having been last cut in 1979. All of this pales rather against the sheer, unmitigated, mankiness of the whole thing. Aside from the fact the mere sight of a photo of them gives me the heeby-jeebies, I find their mere existence offensive to my way of life. World records are important to me. I'm a statistics-obsessed lunatic. I honestly feel that the whole concept is sullied by someone deliberately deciding to break one by the simple expedient of neglecting personal hygeine. I could, should I wish, stop wiping my bottom from my next poo onwards and break the world record for the filthiest rear end. I choose not to, on account of the fact we're trying to have a society here. This is before we even get to the thorny issue of how she went about wiping her bumhole herself.

Fingernails (and their cousins, the toenails) perplex me. Principally because I don't know how our ancestors went about cutting them. All I know is that they must have cut them. Because not cutting them makes you a manky titwitch. Further more, the Renaissance couldn't have happened if Leonardo da Vinci had 4-foot long nails. But mainly the manky titwitch thing.

Just to stress again, anyone with really long fingernails, cut your fingernails. We live in an enlightened age with wonderful tools. You manky titwitches.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Mints

I love mints. They are my favourite sweets. The other day I tried to imagine a world without mints and it was not a pleasant thought. I love mints so much I even buy the overpriced ones from WH Smiths at Brighton Station. The only mints I don't really like are Murray Mints. My favourite of all are Trebor Mint Imperials.

However, I particularly like Trebor Spearmint flavour Softmints at the moment. I've never fully understood why spearmint is represented as blue in confectionary circles, because spearmint is in fact green. Green and leafy. Spearmint softmints, though, come in a white and blue packet and the sweets are a lurid blue colour. I was disappointed that Trebor didn't also make the peppermint flavour softmints - which come in a predominantly green packet - bright green. I bought both, you see. For research purposes. Minty research.

That's really all I have to say on the subject, to be honest.

Monday, 2 February 2009

On reactions to snow

It hath snowed. As I tip-tap-type this drivel, there is 2 (two) inches (eeenches) of the white flumpy stuff laying on the ground. Which is, of course, its preferred place to lay. Oh, and yes, I did measure it specially.

Reaction to snow number 1:

Our subject here is a 10-month old female Selkirk Rex pedigree cat. This subject had never seen snow before. The reaction was a blend of wide-eyed wonderment coupled with terror. It was very cute. I would give it an 8 (eight) on the cuteness scale. And I am a tough critic.

Reaction to snow number 2:

Our subject here is a 2-year old human female. She was very excited. Dizzily so, considering that there was but a centimetre or so dusting the ground. I anticipate that she is, at this stage, going completely mental.

Reaction to snow number 3:

Our subject, a 14-year old male moggie cat, black from head to toe and, as such, with the tendency to see snow as the very antithesis of his being, looked out the window at 3.30 a.m. and thought "Oh, fuck". Never before has a domestic feline managed to convey a thought so clearly. It made me laugh, despite the fact he had woken me up at 3.30 a.m. The subject subsequently woke me up at 4.30 a.m. to reiterate his displeasure. This hardly made me laugh at all.

Reaction to snow number 4:

Our subject this time is a 29-year old human female. It must be noted that this subject originates from a part of the world where snow is more commonplace than it is in the coastal area of Sussex. Which could be a description of Egypt, but in this case it is not. Also for consideration is the fact that I had informed the subject that her chances of being snowed-in today were laughably minimal. The subject displayed pleasure at the snow in a text message at about 8.20 a.m. this morning. The other knowledge gained - that I know three-fifths of bugger all - may well have been filed away for later reference.

Reaction to snow number 5:

Our subject, a 28-year old human male, was seen making plans to run about in the snow like a simpleton with a big grin on his massive, massive face. However, he had to write a blog post first.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

On football

Yesterday I went to a football match. You can see a properly considered review of it here. However, I would like to add that it was a terrible match. I know that ticket prices for Conference National games are centrally set, but I really do think that to charge £12 for the dirge I witnessed is pretty shameful. As more and more credit crunches up, causing the currency to inflate in your pocket like a dead dog in the noonday sun and more and more people find themselves unemployed, it's pretty easy to imagine that going to a football match will be one of the first luxuries to be cast asunder. It's likely that a lot of the clubs would suffer - some terribly - as a result of this. To this I say, good. You all bloody deserve it. Every single last one of you. I personally hope professional football in this country completely collapses and has to be rebuilt by the people who actually care about the game as opposed to the profits. The great thing about football is that it will never die off. All you need is a ball - or even something which can be used as a ball - and somewhere to play. All a big recession would do is kill off the greed. This would be a double bonus, as it would also make me laugh.

From now on, I am going to set myself a ceiling price - of say, a tenner - for the amount of money I'm willing to pay for admission to a football match. I think that's a reasonable sum. Naturally, this will leave the clubs feeling a ache of supreme indifference. However, I'll feel a lot better about everything. I would love to be able to see Brighton and Hove Albion play every week, but I'm not going to stump up £30 a time to do it. What am I getting in there? It's certainly not entertainment.

This pretty much leaves me with the Conference South and below to play with. And that's plenty. I've had much more worthwhile experiences watching a match at Sussex County League Division 2 level - which is as low as you can go in the football pyramid without having mixed-species teams playing - than I ever have anywhere else. Whisper it, but, the standard of football is really not that much different to anything you'd get except for at the very top of the best leagues in the world, a fact I don't anticipate Sky television will be revealing any time soon. Plus, you get to hear every foul swear uttered by the players, and witness the glee on the face of someone who accidentally does something skillful.

I'd like this to turn into a bigger campaign. But at the same time. I'd rather it didn't. You see, the more people who cry off the rampantly overpriced matches in the professional leagues to follow their local amateur or semi-professional clubs, the more attractive they'll become to the money men. And then I'd have to start following rugby or something. God save me from that.

Friday, 23 January 2009

On boxing

This week I have watched again the BBC's excellent four-part documentary The Fight, a series of films about the history and development of professional boxing. I love a bit of that, you know. I love the simplicity, the combativeness, the total lack of any mitigating factors - it is sport in its absolute rawest form. I love the history behind it, too - the murkiness, the characters, the contests. To top it all off, boxing has provided some of the most staggering visual images of sport since the invention of photography and the moving picture. One particular piece of film - featured in the third episode of The Fight - sees Sugar Ray Robinson leaning casually against the rope during the count to one of his many felled opponents, occasionally silhouetted by the exploding flashbulb in the opposite corner. It's extraordinary - better than anything Martin Scorcese, even, got into Raging Bull.

As such, it may be unusual to note that I never watch boxing on the telly. I have seen the odd round in the Olympics here or there, maybe. But the dawn of satellite and pay-per-view TV has really put a crimp in my style. Put simply, I'm not interested in two men called Neil with arms like knotted pipecleaners, fighting to decide who is the third-best light-welterweight in Northern Ireland. I want to see the heavyweight world championship bouts. Preferably, whilst they are happening, rather than on Sportsnight 12 days later.

This was all brought into sharp focus by the fourth part of The Fight, a brilliant 50 minutes viewing for any sports fan, concerning the 1975 Thrilla in Manilla fight bewteen the Champion, Muhammad Ali and the challenger, Joe Frazier. This is as legendary, thrilling and brutal a sporting contest as the world has ever seen, and without wishing to come over all Des Lynam, Ali won after 14 rounds. The Beeb's man at ringside was Harry Carpenter, who claimed that the world stopped to see the outcome of this bout. Now, personally I doubt this somehow. But it is indicative of the kind of unifying effect sport is able to have, if only people would let it. At a time when the Government are looking at refurbishing the list of essential sporting events to be available free-to-air, it's perhaps an indication that flexibility, rather than thoroughness, should be the key. Who knows where or from what sport the next Ali will come? But I'd hate to think I'd have to miss it because I'm a skinflint.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

On cooks

This week, I have been watching Heston Blumenthal's three-hour long advert for Little Chef and enjoying it a lot. I like Heston. Channel 4 obviously like him too, as they have recently snaffled him up on a multi-year contract to make programmes for them, just as they did for Jamie Oliver. Their cookutainment line-up is now so formidable, it's hard to see anybody else even bother to try and seriously compete with it.

One could wonder exactly why Channel 4, who are currently feeling the financial pinch to such a degree that they are cutting down on in-house production of drama series to a skeleton of their most successful products and are also contemplating mergers, would be so keen to painstakingly build up this roster of A-grade TV chefs. Well, one could wonder that up to the point that they watch UKTV Food. Because it turns out, making cookery programmes on the telly is quite an artform in itself. As an aficionado of rubbish TV, I thought I'd introduce you to some of my favourites in the exciting, buttock-clenchingly awful TV cookery programmes genre.

Tamasin's Weekends (UKTV Food)

The epically terrifying Tamasin Day-Lewis takes us on a whistle stop tour of some of the dishes she would prepare for her braying, shooting the poor in the face, everyone on horseback, jodhpury upper-middle class leisure time. Often, Day-Lewis - who is the sister of Daniel, the actor - will rope in some of her friends to help. These friends, who are usually called Arabica, Fenella or Ribenica, are then put to some serious kitchen graft by the stern Tamasin, who has the look of Tracey Emin dressed as a scarecrow and you're unlikely to want to cross. She is also a keen proponent of locally-sourced and organic produce, so her programmes will often start with her chastisement of a greengrocer at a farmer's market. The man, normally 6'5", 28 stone and with facial tattoos, is left in the foetal position as Tamasin haggles over the price of rhubarb.

Paradise Kitchen (UKTV Food)

Far from Tamasin's well-appointed country kitchen, where a fox steams merrily away in the Aga, we go to Andalucia to meet up with Gioconda Scott. The doe-eyed Gioconda is probably too sweet and innocent to realise how annoying people speaking in English but then affecting Spanish pronunciation of local words can sometimes be. However, I imagine the majority of viewers - me included - are willing to forgive this on account of the fact that Scott is without serious parallel in the ranks of People Who Look Absolutely Terrified To Be On TV. With sunny Mediterranean skies glowing off the terracotta-lined terrace, with chorizo sausages playfully swinging in the breeze, with tapas dishes heaving with a bounty of just-cooked artichokes and pimenton, Scott smashes up another mortar-load of picada whilst looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Compelling television.

Sophie Grigson's Weekends (also Sophie Grigson's Sunshine Food; Grigson) (UKTV Food)

Much less laid-back than Tamasin's weekend plans, Grigson normally spends Saturdays and Sundays running around like a blue-arsed fly. This does not mean she doesn't have time to slap out some hearty tucker, though. Oh no. She's pretty good at what she does, too - coming from a family of cookery writers gives her a solid background of knowledge, and two decades of regular TV work has honed her camera skills. No, she makes this list because she is the most resolute, militant left-hander I have ever witnessed. Gordon Ramsay and Keith Floyd are both also left handers, but niether of them use the southpaw method of wielding a huge sharp knife. It's white-knuckle chopping of the highest order. I have to also point out at this juncture that I find the fact she looks like she was drawn by Matt Groening highly off-putting.

Rick Stein's Taste of the Sea (BBC)

The programme title which allowed a generation of wags to remark, "I've heard that rumour", the Stein genre is perhaps a surprising choice for here. However, whilst I think his culinary skills are beyond reproach and his Food Heroes project is admirable, he's still just not a natural on the telly. I find him to still be a bit twitchy and nervous, as perhaps evidenced by his legendary mandolin slip-up, easily the most stomach-churning real-life injury ever suffered on TV. I also found his habitual recourse to reading poetry made me hope he choked on a bone. Luckily, Rick's early career was helped along by his insane pet Jack Russell terrier, Chalky. Chalky helped take the pressure off of Rick, all sweaty palms and blue plasters, by biting a cameraman's arsehole or jumping in the sea. However, with Chalky now passed away, I await to see how it affect's Rick's confidence on camera. I would suggest he perhaps get a parrot* and wear it on his shoulder. But that's just me.

* Or a seagull, obviously. A dirty great herring gull.

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