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..No Tickets to Ryde.. (IOW Pt 2)

Have you ever been to Ryde? If you have I’ll give you a couple of minutes to go to the shed and find then biggest bluntest instrument you can get your hands on. If you haven’t been there then don’t go there unless you are four Pesky Kids with a large dog driving around solving crimes in a funky multicoloured van. 

Ryde is a rare treat for a rampant piss taker like me.  It has the lot and it has nothing at all in any other department.

I see you have returned from the shed with what appears to be a rubber camping mallet…. Good… Good. Now take that mallet and repeatedly smash it into your temple until all memories of Ryde have ceased or at least blurred sufficiently. If you can’t find a hammer or similar bludgening implement try an awl or 6″ loft nail for insertion behind the ear, little ‘wiggly wig’, happy days. This is a free service I’m providing here so let’s see a bit of appreciation.

Ryde…or ‘Fuckin Ryde’ as I have christened it is beyond words but as this is a blog I’d better come up with something.

We arrive by car and get a glimpse of the delights ahead as we turn a corner towards car park 732556 (I remember the numbers as everywhere I go on the Isle I pay for parking). We alight with happy smiling faces and head towards the fabled (once more) ‘Old Town’. I’ve paid for 3 hours of parking as the plan is to mooch about a bit, soak up the history and find somewhere for lunch.

As I look up the tight winding slope of the ‘Old Town’ I am met with two aging pissheads having an argument. Seaside town drunks are a breed apart. Mostly they look like they have come from a different time and nearly all of them have lost their arses due to there being a flat rear to the jeans. There are lots of waistcoats (leather), Crocodile Dundee hats (leather) and bracelets (leather) on the seaside pisshead and a lot of swept back greased Rockabilly type haircuts. These are the common drunks, people of the soil…y’know… Bumper Car attendants looking for a frantic one behind the Wurlitzer so a new notch can be etched on the plank they sleep on. It’s top end Toffee Apple and a Goldfish in a bag stuff here. Rotten..

We’ve been here less than a minute and I’m looking for the road out. Even Jen, normally stubborn in the face of a bad choice she has made is looking rather ‘WTF’ but we battle on and head up the hill past various degrees of scrote and dog on a string Jubs and even past a rather large effort wearing what I initially thought was a woolen hat until I noticed on closer inspection was in fact matted hair.

Everyone here appears to be trollied and in posession of the kind of ‘leisure wear’ that you normally associate with a glue covered car emerging backwards out of a ‘Sports Direct’ following a high speed crash. There are bodies littering the many benches in the pedestrian areas as if they have fallen from planes such is the lean or slump. It is deeply grim with ‘Greggs’ being the top end eatery and ‘Peacocks’, a shop seemingly for blind women of an awkward gait, being the number ‘Department Store’ in the precinct if you are in the market for a shapeless spark inducing polyester blouse.

We reach the top of the ‘Old Town’ and decide to head back down via another route towards what could be described as the ‘Marina’ although I say this is the loosest possible terms.

The route back down is mostly residential but it does take us past a Bingo hall where two knitted old ladies puff away outside like steam trains and the obligatory seaside tattooist where you can walk in bollocksed and be served up instantly pissed or not.

We finally reach the bottom of this massive hill and stare directly at the majesty of Ryde Bus terminus which appears to be very popular most probably because the vehicles piling into it take you away from Ryde itself. We ignore this chance to escape, thumbs intact, and with our mouths agape mince towards the what seems to be the entertainment hub of this nightmare…. The Ryde Superbowl Bowling Alley and Laser Quest

Across the entire width of this monument to the dullest ‘sport’ on the planet (which always seems like a good idea until you start to play…there’s no escape as they have your shoes) is a Super Pub. You know the thing, a massive, souless one room effort filled with menus and chrome and joyless ‘slave’ bar staff working 12 hour shifts for peanuts and a free burger to be consumed during a 6 minute 18 second rest break out the back by the bins.

All the doors to the front are open and so the clientel has oozed out to the ‘garden’ area to the front to smoke to a professional level. There is an assortment of mobility vehicles outside complete with ‘Riders’ all on the piss (it’s barely noon) or engaging in some top level swearing in front of the many feral kids loose in the area.

It’s Hell’s pub… ‘The Beelzebub Arms’ where all you can order are non specific ‘Curries’ with packet Nann and Poppadoms, Kettle Chips and a Kronenborg / Strongbow Snakebite for £8.92.

It starts to rain and it’s excatly the kind of rain you need in this miserable hell hole….fine, fine drizzle. The rain we all say is ‘drenching’ even though most rain is drenching. The drizzle drops and the punters outside simply sit there seemingly unable to erect the umbrellas at the table due to the lack of will to exist as full Homosapiens. My eyes are drawn to one particular savage in an England shirt (Not football or rugby but something ‘These colours don’t run’ inspired) and a tattooed face glistening in the rain while chugging on a pint. Nothing will stop him from enjoying this £3.20 pint of wife beater as he’s in it for the ‘En-ger-land’ and a bag of Black Country Scratchings.

The Pavillion SuperBowl stands behind this abomination like a haunted warehouse from Scooby Doo. It’s a large delapidated building which has seen better days and brighter paint. There is no hint of joy from it other than the potential future memory of tearing off the mask of what you thought was a Killer Clown or Scarecrow to discover it is infact a disgruntled Local councillor or Candyfloss entrapenuer terrorising the locals over an unexplained grudge he had from 40 years ago.

It is gash incarnate and I will not be engaging in it. Royal Ryde, Historic Ryde the home of Melvyn Hayes, Mr Bronson, Lizard King David Icke and 24,000 other lost souls is the world centre of Jubbery.

I insist that this trip is over and to my suprise Jen concurs and so with quickening pace we arm ourselves with rudimentary weapons of mass evacuation and head back to the car almost exactly 32 minutes after we left it. Filth. The Penzance of the Isle of Wight.

As I said in the previous effort, this holiday was more about relaxation than anything else. It was never going to be high octane mentalness and so we planned on lazy days with the odd bit of explosive family competition courtesy of ‘Uno’, Pool or of course the old favourite ‘Frustration’.

I wasn’t too happy on the ‘Uno’ / ‘Frustration’ front as I usually get battered but I was fully confident in destroying my entrie family in the Pool room as a misspent youth means that any game played in the company of alcohol is my thing. Bar billiards, Pool, ‘Double Dragon’ and Darts which I am a God at….welcome to my drunken late teens where 50p on the edge of the table was King. Let the Pool begin…

The Daughter is destroyed in minutes. She doesn’t know the rules. Not. My. Problem. She is dispatched with contempt.

The Boy comes next. I’m ready, up to speed…. BANG! BANG! BANG!…. 3-0 up in 10 minutes… He’s broken which was never more proven when he fell for the old “oh… you potting that ball are you…” trick meaning he tries a different one. BOOM He’s sent back to the house with intructions to send the Mother up.

I now sit and wait to complete the sporting disassemblage of the Tribe. It’s hard but necessary if I am to be King. They need to learn by the numbers… the tough choices…Heavy is the Crown etc.

In walks Jen. She informs me that she hasn’t played pool in over 30 years….then she smiles….This is a worry. She racks up the balls incorrectly and so I intervene and with rapid speed I sort the problem and leave the 8 ball spinning in its slot like one of those pub wankers who owns their own cue and have an initialled carrying case.

After a brief recap of the rules (necessary on this occasion as her humiliation will be lessened if she thinks she has an excuse) I break off with levels of power not seen since the crane lowered Bill Werbenuik’s coffin into a baize lined abyss… The sound of white on rack is deafening but beautiful, birds scatter, car alarms go off, children scream in the ditsance…. we’re off!!

….25 minutes later I’m 5-1 down and Jen, having laughed after every victorious frame, leaves the room in silence not even looking back while I lean on the edge of the table looking at my non potted balls. Hustled by the current mother to my children. I now have nothing. In the distance I hear Jen enter the house and they all cheer…

Another holiday tradition is humiliation at the hands of the boy on the Go-Kart track. This year I feel strangely confident that I will destroy him mainly due to his supreme confidence that he will destroy me.

We head towards Wight Karting as they have supercharged thunderbastard Karts and let’s face, I need all the thrust I can get hold of if I am to beat the self-proclaimed ‘Son of Senna’.

We check in and I misread the colour coding on the jumpsuits and pick up a ‘small’ instead of ‘Extra large’ and have to face the embarrassment of a 17 year old receptionist taking it off me and replacing it with a parachute sized garment. She clearly thinks I think I’m less rotund than I am.

I take the jumpsuit and the free balaclava and gloves and the boy and I head to the cafe to wait our turn. As we are sitting there the previous race ends and some proper Essex Oafs (or is it ‘Oaves’?) and their many bleach blond offspring enter my ‘Hate Arc’. Every sentence from theie pieholes is prefixed with the work ‘Fuck’ or a derivative of it and the C-Bomb is getting extensive usuage even though the cafe currently houses a group of 12-14 year olds waiting for a junior race.

As I’m soaking up every esturay infused syllable which notably included the powerful sentence of…

” fuck me… did you see me eh? wot a wanka… what a cunt eh? piled right into your arsehole you fat fuck…”

…I notice that the Boy is eyballing me like a laser beam. Blimey Charlie, he seems well up for this I may have to reassess his destruction at my hands. We are 15 minutes from the race and his intensity is so great that he’s both gloved and balaclavered up which seems a bit unnecessary. Calm down love…

We get underway and as expected we are pitted against the Essex Boys who are all up to speed and make me look even slower than I am. The boy blasts off and is beating all but one of these cavemen and inevitably it’s the lumpy mouthy one from the cafe. As the boy is about to overtake this stroker he sees him coming and slams on the anchors taking the boy out and three other karts. The ponce would rather cause a crash than lose the lead to a 17 year old. I should have expected nothing less in reality.

We have two races and I’m sure you have guessed, and much like Wales a few years back my kart was substandard and so I fail to beat the boy not only in the races but also on any of the laps within them. I’ve never been lucky with my choice of kart but hopefully next time I will destroy him.

Of course not everything on this trip is piss taking. I genuingly love the Isle of Wight and would consider it as a venue to while away the hours in retirement. It is clean and quirky and the West of the Island where we are staying on this occasion is beautiful.

Jen and I have managed a few trips out without Dog or kids to the more cultural efforts including Farringford House where Tennyson lived which was spectacular and unbelievably peaceful which is something I will insist on when my working life is done. Not certain I want to be an old bloke in London so maybe the tranquility of West Wight would suit me.

The main issue I’ve found with the Isle of Wight this time is what seems to be a lack of care. Most hospitality venues I’ve been to have been lacking in either interest or actual supplies. Now I’m fully aware that the ‘Pingdemic’ this shithouse government triggered wiped out a lot of lorry drivers so deliveries were fewer and I’m also acutely aware of the problems with Brexit but the attitude to this appears to be a resounding ‘Unlucky…. you’re here now, what else do you want?’

I’m not a pub crawl merchant on holiday, it’s pretty much ‘destination venue’ when I go out as we are looking for a family meal so I find it pretty unnacceptable to attend 4 seperate pubs and be told there is no Guinness with barely an apology. A pubs standard tarrif is Lager, Bitter, Cider, Stout and I reckon 80% of the offered ‘stout’ is Guinness. If you drink Guinness you drink Guinness as much as the Cociane aficionado aint really dabbling in Heroin a Guinness drinker would rather slam his head in a door than drink ‘Belhaven Black’ or the repellent ‘Camden Ink’. The lack of Guinness was ridiculous.

Only one venue hit all my criteria and that was the magnificent Red Lion in Freshwater where the G was marvellous and I had the greatest Sunday lunch outside of my own house that I’ve ever had. The beef was perfectly rare, the Spuds perfectly crisp and the Cauliflower Cheese luscious. It’s a dog friendly pub with excellent staff and fantastic food ( I also had a heart stopping suet crusted beef pie which could barely contain the meat on another occasion) which I whole heartedly recommend should you be in the Freshwater area.

None of this could be said about a pub I visited in the beautiful, posh coastal village of Bembridge which I visited for lunch that we will call ‘The We’ve got nothing Inn’.

Bembridge appears to be a bit tickerty-plop and it seems essential to own either a Boat, Launch or at the very least a Kayak or some description. If you haven’t got one of these items you get looked at down the hooter but it’s not as bad as Yarmouth where the disdain for the landlubber is total. No Sea Legs, No loosely tied jumper round the shoulders, No likey.

Bembridge is lovely with some fantastic houses and a lovely coastal path along a pebbled ‘beach’. We had a nice time walking around and found this empty shop masquarading as a boozer which from the outside looked like a good idea.

We sit outside in a very well appointed covered garden. It’s funky and not conservative in keeping with the humans roaming about. I’m liking it a lot, you could say that I’m on the right side of ‘happy’…..yes….I’m happy…actually happy. I peruse the menu. My happiness increases….This is it, this is what it is like to be ‘happy’.

Over walks the owner to take my order and it would be fair to say that by the thickness of his neck and the broadness of his hands he has been on the right side of a pair of nostrils in a previous life. His face oozes violence and the fingers have rolled a million ‘snouts’ in C-Wing. I can only assume he has escaped from Parkhurst and is living on site with a room full of shooters waiting for the inevitable ‘Last Stand’ against the filth.

He opens his mouth to speak and I prepare to hurl myself to the floor to avoid the blast and stench of cordite but instead of “Open the till you fuckin’ mug!!” he asks us very politely in a gruff East End Cockney if he can get us some drinks.

” I’ll have a Guinness please” says I to which the now standard Isle of Wightean response is ‘No fuckin chance mate’. I ask him what else he has and I’m told they have Fosters (piss water) or Kronenborg (kid beater). There appears to be no other options which means my choice is near enough Vauxhall Astra or Lamborghini Huracan, a homemade burger in a bread bun cut to shape or a Five Guys, shit or chocolate etc…

There is little chance of me entertaining Fosters as it’s not 1989 but it’s 1403 hours and a couple of Kronies will have me hanging out the window of the car on the way back screaming my tits off at passers-by.

Kronenborg it is…

All of a sudden ‘Reggie’ grabs my menu like it’s the throat of a grass and slams it on the table where he explains in a soft malevolent cockney whisper that some items aren’t available.

No. Shit. Welcome to ‘The Island number 6’…

He points out that only two of the nine Pizzas, two of the five Curries and four or the six burgers are currently available. He walks away to give us time to let this sink but returns fairly sharpish with the drinks including my headache juice in a plastic pint pot. I would have been less insulted if he had shat in it and stirred it with a shitty stick.

‘Happy’ is now a distant memory….. or maybe merely a fleeting sensation…

We wait to order and some young girl rocks up with a pen and paper who instantly tells me that no pizzas are now available and basically it’s a burger of nothing so rather than walking out we went for the Double Findus, Super special, Onion Ring, BBQ skewer tower of toss (The bigger the burger the shitter it is is my rule of thumb) and obviously we regret this choice five hours later when none of us can move for stodge.

The food isn’t really the problem. The issue is the service and the ‘tough shit’ approach to it which I encountered more than once on this trip which was a shame.

Take ‘ The Needles’ which is one of the ‘premium attratctions’ on the Isle of Wight. Essentially it’s a Ski Lift to Alum Bay and a 25 minute boat ride around the the rocks themselves and little else. The complex it sits on used to have a small fairground and some stalls that small kids will love. There were Ice Creams sellers, candyfloss spinners and all that rubbish and this summer, the summer after a dead summer for a nation and the most crucial summer in British history as they have a captive audience who they can make a big impression on they blow it by having half of even this two-bob attraction closed and boarded up.

You’d think the opportunity to make a good impression with potentially a lot of people who would normally gone abroad wouldn’t have been lost on the Islanders but it seems that it may have been. I will come here again because I have a history with the place and I’m a nostalgic old tosser but not everyone is. I spoke to a great friend of mine who had similar substandard customer service issue in a high end venue up North in an area of outstanding beauty so it isn’t merely an Isle of Wight thing and so can only be misguided complacency on behalf of the British hospitality industry.

On our penultimate night we head to a lovely old building for dinner in a venue with almost fautless reviews. It’s a short walk from where we were staying and we were all looking forward to it as we’d past it on a number of occasions and it was busy and appealing.

We head down on a rare sunny evening which assists the venue as it has big windows and so the interior will be bright and airy given us hapless punters the impression that we are on holiday somewhere where the big fireball in the sky appears on a more frequent basis.

It’s nice inside, a bit like a kooky ‘All Bar One’ with some industrial shit hanging from the ceiling and high shelves filled with bottles of wine and salad dressings. The Menu is simple and was pretty much what drew us in as it only had about 6 otions which is always a good sign that they are making it fresh rather than tearing the cellophane off the top and whacking it in a microwave.

I’m reliably informed from years of watching Gordon ‘Fuckin’ Ramsey tear the hoop off multiple hapless resterauters that 60 dish menus is a sign of poor eatery and so these six simple dishes including Spanish Chipotle sausages, Harrisa Lamb, Meatballs in a mushroom sauce all served with skinny fries (which was the clincher) give it the unfussy feel you want for a good family dining experience.

The place seems to be run by some kind of International student collective. When I say ‘seems to be’ I actually mean ‘is’ as I’m greeted at the door by a ginger topknotted bearded bloke who referes to us as ‘Guys’ which is a sure sign of the Pot Noodle eating, three lectures a term brigade.

I ignore ‘guys’ and we take our seats and this Hippy takes our drinks order of a bottle of wine (Obviously there is no Guinness) and a couple of softies for the kids and we look at the menu. I’ve had a look online already and know that I want the meatballs and fries so I’m ready to go.

We are waited on by a Japanese exchange student with the communication skills of ‘Oddjob’ from Goldfinger. He can barely be heard such are his soft hushed tones but he gets the order and we settle down to so low level family chat. He is incredibly polite but not very confident and pretty inept but no matter, I appreciate waiting staff as it’s a thankless task and unless he drops my dinner or, God Forbid, the wine he’ll be getting my thanks and a tip.

Ginger Topknot then appears with this pearler:

“…Sorry Guys but I don’t think ‘Oddjob’ mentioned that we have no skinny fries tonight and so are replacing them with Roasted New Potatoes. Is that okay?..”

No mate. It is very much not ‘Okay’. It is a fuckin disgrace.

The ‘chip’ is the simplest of all the potato products and to replace it with the new Potato is to me the equivilant of serving up a plate of sick. The only thing worse than a new potato is a plain and simple boiled one which frequently appeared on my plate during the 70’s when food was incidental. To make any new potato palatable you need to encase it in butter otherwise you might as well serve up an unripe pear.

Before I get a chance to start smashing up the place Jen intervenes and tells Topknot that everything is fine and so I simply disappear into my Pinot Grigio and we get back to some family small talk while waiting for my Meatball, Custard and Jam Sponge Casserole because, let’s face it, anything could happen in the next 15 minutes.

I’m not happy about it but Meatballs and new potatoes is understandable but the bloke weeping over his menu on the table next to me is crying because he has ordered a Burger with new potatoes a combination not even a lunatic would consider during a mild famine. When that actually arrives at his table it is a sight to behold, like a cats head on the body of a stork…simply wrong. It will stay with me a long, long time.

Before our slop gets served up another family walk in where the oldest member, a frail looking old bloke is rocking a big yacthing look with three quarters lengths, boating shoes along with a baggy ribbed jumper over a polo shirt with the collar up. He’s probably too old and too light to pull this off but he looks happy enough and takes his seat.

My meal turns up and I see the offending pattatas. My face looks like that of the man who put everything on red and it came up black but I strive on and get involved with this protein and starch hybrid. It’s alright…. bit claggy but tasty none the less.

Then behind us there is a commotion…Well, more of a huge thud, the smashing of glass and the high pitched scream of a daughter of the Yachting set. The old man is down, prostrate on the floor slightly trembling with his finger outstretched pointing to the door. The room goes silent just like when a fight breaks out in a pub.

The punters are concerned for the welfare of this poor sod and all I can think about is that the new potato abomination has pushed him to this. Even the old like pomme frites and he came here for them specifically as they are all over the fuckin menu!! He has clearly made a lunge for the exit in a vain attempt to escape this hell hole, he knows that chips may be available elsewhere and we are free people living in a democracy…. free to choose…. surely we are free to leave?

But No…We’re are not free to leave. ‘Oddjob’ swoops in and picks up the old man with one huge golf ball crushing paw. He straps him to his chair, claiming it’s ‘safer’ and brings him an extra large bowl of non roasted new potatoes. He then stands over him to ensure that are consumed to a satifactory level. It’s a Gulag… A carbohydrate Gulag. Next thing I know I’ll be working here explaining that chips are off the menu but we can give you a raw potato on a stick for pudding.

The kids order puddings and I order another glass of Pinot for Dutch courage prior to fighting my way out like Rick Grimes leaving another Utopia turned bad in ‘The Walking Dead’.

In any other world the request for the delivery of the single most accessible and popular white wine, possibly, in the world would be a piece of piss for ‘Oddjob’ and Topknot but alas, no.

The wine this time is in abundance but they need my used glass to deliver it in as they are ‘running short’ in a restaurant of 30 people. I have enough wine glasses in this house to accomodate this crowd and this jub need this one….fucker don’t even rinse it, he just fills it up and slams it down in front of me. It’s the coup de grace, the turd in the water pipe, the blue plaster in the beef chow mein…. This aggression will not stand..

We get the bill (which is totally correct and reasonable) pay up and like good Englanders thank them for the magnificent food and impeccable service and leave with bellies full…. Might visit it again on another trip but will bring my own glass and a packet of McCains…

And so the holiday ends the following day with a fish and chip supper and a night of drinking all the booze that is left.

The Isle of Wight has seen me once more and it will definately see me again as I love all its idiosyncrasies, it’s just this time I felt a bit taken for granted. I got the impression that the hospitality sector here felt that because of Covid and travel restrictions it didn’t really need to try that hard as a lot of us were going to turn up regardless and just accept it.

The only problem with this strategy is that next year, with a fair wind, a lot of us will be sitting on European beaches, with Guinness, and Chips, and Pizza and no fuckin’ new potatoes…

Onwards..

Return to the Planet of the Wights (IOW Pt. 1)

We were never going abroad this year. To be fair we don’t go abroad most years but certainly not this year. The arrival of Roo the cockapoo and the lingering doubt of Covid dictated that any family trip would be within the boundaries of this isolated bitter nation way back in October when Jen trawled the intergoogles for something which would meet all of our picky requirements. After much searching Jen had 2 options. That’s not pinning it down to 2 options but simply 2 options in the whole of the country that could accomodate beast, three bedrooms and internet.

We chose the one on the Fantasy Island Planet of the Wights as we had been there before and knew of its many charms. Hmm…’Charms’…. classic 50’s inkeeping with the place itself. The accomodation was secured for a mere £25 back then as with the pandemic it could all go bent in the spewing of a few misplaced latin quotes delivered from the lying piehole of the Oaf running this shitshow disguised as a Country.

In May the eye watering, ‘no plane included’, full payment was paid in full and so we were going so long as everything was under some sort of semi-control.

This trip was never going to be action packed. It was really concieved simply to get us out of our house which we had been near enough prisioners in since March 2020 when we all went into self-isolation for 2 weeks before the country did for the first time. We love our house but we are all sick of the sight of it. Working from home sounds great and it is mostly but its very tough to do it all the time and so a balance of office and home in the future is required.

The main problem with working from home is the loneliness. Yes, you are with other people from your family but after 36 years of unfettered employment I’m used to offices where randoms appear through the door occasionally and engage in mindless conversations about the weather or football and not ones not centred on what is for dinner or putting the bins out. It’s been tough for us but it’s a lot easier than for anyone living alone, I’m not sure how anyone living alone has dealt with this mess.

In late July, with much joy, we packed up the car with Tetris levels of presicion loaded in a one year old dog, a moody 17 year old, a lovely 15 year old, a manchild and Jen, the only human in the pack worthy of responsibily and headed towards Lymington for this overseas trip on board the last bastion of 70’s culture, The Ferry.

Ferries. Is there anything more that epitomises the 1970’s? A Giant Lego brick designed by a 5 year old fuelled by Formica, Wotsits, Quavers and flat lemonade and usually filled with the kind of sad fuckers who holiday within the country they live in yet convince their kids that its ‘abroad’…..basically Me.

I’m welcomed ‘aboard’ by some chunky bloke in a tabbard and soak up the clientele. As expected it’s as rough as your hat. It’s like every lorry driver with a prison tatt decided to board this floating prison with several members of their multiple ‘on the road’ families for a Sun ‘Super Saver’ Summer Coupon Holiday. The decks reek of Old Holborn, Rive Gauche and Stella sweat with a faint whiff of Princes tinned Hot Dog Water chucked in. This aint no ‘Emerald of the Seas’ turnout this is real boating for real people who don’t like boating but like the idea of prison ships and maize based snacks.

We find a seat and commit fully to the 35 minute journey eating Quavers and a’Chicken’ and Mayo sandwiches which appear meat lump free no doubt catering for their usual passengers who are either devoid of teeth or have loose, unstuck plastic dentures. You won’t find a chewy Roast Beef and Rocket sandwich or a crisp apple on board HMPS ‘Wight King’, it’s all Tuna Mayonaise, Fanta and doughnuts.

When I enter a ferry I take a hard look at the competition. I’m looking for limps, crutches, eye patches and wrist braces. I’m looking for the lame as they will be the ones I need to get ahead of should this baby go down. There’s no point me taking on that big sporty lump or the numerous lorry drivers reading The Mail, I need the overly nourished woman with the bandaged wrist and the fat ankles. She is my target, she is in my way should we hit a rock, iceberg or heavy porpoise, she is the one I need to either go through or over (no time to go around) in order to secure a seat on the limited lifeboats. It’s unpalatable dear reader but it is fact. My survival and the survival of my tribe will depend on swift incapacitation of a number of weaker beings blocking that (*points) door. It will be the survival of the fittest…

The brick didn’t sink and so no noses were broken, no shins snapped in two and we alighted at Yarmouth intact albeit with orange Wotsit fingers and the taint of petrol.

As we roll off everything in sight is familiar as we’ve been to this island on several occasions before. It’s a nice feeling as it’s such a throwback to years gone by where we’ve all had a good time… basically we have a rough idea of what to expect although this time given the ages of the participants it won’t revolve around Adventure Parks and amusements arcades.

With effortless ease Jen drives us to our destination of Freshwater on the West side of the island locally known as ‘West Wight’. As ever Jen has secured a lovely house with everything we need including a Games room (darts board and a pool table for when the inevitable apocalyptic rain hits) in a very quite hamlet about a mile from a pub…..which is nice.

As I’m North London filth as soon as I open the door I drop the bags and instantly check the wi-fi capability to see if it meets my exacting standards. It does and so all will be fine from here on in. We take a look around our temporary home and the kids argue over which room they want. Everything is great but I notice eveything is smaller. Smaller toaster, beds, washing machine, TV, kitchen table, sofas, fridge…. the lot. It gets me thinking about if I owned a holiday home and how I would kit it out. I certainly would provide more than 5 dinner plates and a set of 6 knives and forks and the wine glasses would be big enough for a third of a bottle rather than the ones here which are more akin to shot glasses even in the tiny pixie hand of this Caveman Londoner. No matter, these are trivial complaints in what is a perfect place in a perfect spot.

And then there was the bed. I say ‘bed’ but the reality is that it is clearly some kind of ancient Wight Walker torture device specifically made to not only cripple me but to also give me the right arsehole for at least 2 hours after I wake in the morning. To say the mattress is hard would be an understatement. It has the density of an oak door although I can find no such door secreted within the limited padding. It’s a fucking mystery where all this uncomfortable is coming from because it appears flexible until you lie on it. It’s like that indestructible carbon material which is both flexible yet bone hard if used correctly. It is an absolute killer rendering me like the a stroke victim every morning with an entire dead side from ear to little toe. I wake up with a drooping eye, face down in reverse arm death position in a pool of drool. My back is destroyed within days. I imagine it’s how our Lord Jesus H Christ’s back felt just before 3rd Cohort Centurion Hammerus Maximus drove home the first nail. Unlike The Lord I am not picture perfect after three days hiding out recovering in a cave and so expect a bad back and drooping eyebrow for the duration of our stay.

Ultimately this is my fault as my bed at home is unbelievably comfortable as it’s my favourite place to be, I’ve put the work in and made it that way. Every time I go away be it Hotel, Travel Lodge, friends house or Holiday home I struggle to sleep due to the bed not being my bed. If I had a holiday home I’d put more effort into mattress management as you spend a lot of your holiday on the thing. Anyway I’m stuck with this fucker for a fortnight and need to deal with it the best I can and burning it to dust isn’t a viable option.

It is a lovely property and we all feel at home instantly apart from Roo who is panicking that her normal home has been stolen by the God of Dog. She’s spinning around the place in a frenzy looking out of the windows for her real home. The confusion is hilarious yet tragic. Thick as a Brick but loveable none the less.

The kids unpack and Jen and I head out for supplies which will mainly consist of booze and ready to eat shit. I’ve never been one for mass cooking on holiday since I saw my lunatic father attempt to purchase a hotplate in a shop in Cornwall for my Mum to cook in a beach hut. Obviously she rallied against this idea and a full scale row erupted in the shop killing the holiday stone dead in the electrical ailse of low level provincial department store. Expecting Jen or I to cook at any point isn’t on my holiday agenda.

We head into town and find the worlds greatest Co-Op which is massive like a Waitrose with all kinds of treats including an instore deli and bakery and an unreal wine selection. I stock up and with enough booze to knock me out prior to engaging with the ‘Bed of Death’ and head to any fish and chip shop we can find for dinner. A lazy first night takes place with my London Spideysense going into overdrive. The first night away always has me in a perpetual state of supreme readiness with my senses heightened in case the locals stage some kind of ‘Straw Dogs’ type intervention and I need to fight them off. Fear not sweet reader I was pumped, ready, primed. I knew where the poker was, I found a hammer and there was an escape route to the back. Bring it on toothless hoard, I’ll take you downtown to China Town in the town, downtown…etc

…Nothing happened except a fraught attempt at sleep where I was up at every bump and creak shouting ‘Come on you Fuckers!!’ while windmilling towards the front door. To be honest I’m dissapointed in the locals….Gutless or terrified? You decide…

Tennyson Down is the destination for the first expedition. Unlike previous holidays when the kids couldn’t be left alone for a second this one is much more ‘Hippy’ with the kids deciding if they fancy it or not and me saying things like ‘chillax bruv’ proving that I’m totally in line with the younger generation. I’m a great believer in the kids (post 14 years old) deciding whether they want to do something or not. The only exceptions being School work, committment to other people (I can’t stand letting people down because you just can’t be arsed) class A drugs and Armed Robbery.

I put the idea of a hike up a mountain (it’s a Hill but I’m from London) to the boy and he chooses to stay in the apartment eating shit and facetiming his girlfirend. His choice, his boredom is imminent. When I was a kid under the Great Dictator you did what you were told when you were told. Forced conversations with relatives at Christmas, attending family events without consultation, handing flowers to teachers you hated so the Old Man could look good, you just did it otherwise there were murders. I’m not being that bloke so if one of mine doesn’t fancy something trivial then fair play, they don’t have to do it. He didn’t want to do it so the other three of us and the beast headed off on the relatively short trip to the base of the mountain (slope).

Upon arriving at the car park I noticed a pub I had read about which has a great reputation for good food. It did look good and ‘dog friendly’ to boot so I’ll be in it post walk to book dinner. We head off up the slope and finally reach the top which has stunning views of Freshwater Bay. The only thing up here other than natures eye candy it a massive stone Celtic Cross in honour of Tennyson. Its quite impressive but essentially it’s a lump of rock surrounded by a wrought iron fence and so no pulses are raised although many photos that will never be viewed again are taken.

We start our descent and inevitably get lost as the straight road to destination Freshwater Bay isn’t much to Jen’s liking and so we end up ‘off road’ on a series of bridleways no-one remembers despite Jen saying ‘I remember that thicket’ or ‘there’s that stump again’. This happens a lot and you just have to go with it as the alternative is to drive your head into the trunk of the nearest Oak tree and hope you survive and wake up in a hospital closer to your holiday home than the place you are in now.

Eventually after 90 minutes lost we stumble back to the car to the strains of Jen saying ‘See? I knew where we were’. Obviously this is the equivilant of the infinite Monkeys / complete works of Shakespear analogy but unusually I let it go as my feet are bleeding and the dog is dehydrated.

We return later that night to the dog friendly pub. I’ve read the reviews and with a bit of luck they will stick us in the ‘lively vibrant bar’ as opposed to the ‘boring dining room’. As expected I take my seat in the boring dining room and soak up the lunar atmosphere. Blimey Charlie its dull. A welsh dresser and a painting being the only thing to which the eye is drawn. Bar us there’s not another living soul in the room.

I can hear laughing from the bar, hilarity, singing, fun. In here you can hear my digital watch virtually ticking or the dog breathing. This aggression will not stand. I’m about to unleash the rage and some Greebo Chick arrives and pacifies me with a decent pint of Guinness. As I sup the room fills up a bit with some classic Hampshire Conservatives in their 60’s but I’ll take it as the room needs other sentient beings to digest the dullness.

The food is very nice with Steaks perfectly cooked, Goan Seafood Curry crammed with Molluscs and the trendy triple fried chips are spot on. But what’s this? Behind me I focus in on a droning noise. It’s a stange tone and isn’t hindered by any other noise at all. It is the booming sound of the Common Tory Bore (no longer ‘Lesser spotted’ sadly).

I noted this chump on its way in. Short, Balding, white shirt with Chino’s, early 60’s. Prick. There is no need to ask if he’s a Tory as he does the classic Tory identification trick of calling The Oaf Johnson ‘Boris’ like he personally knows the stroker. It’s the international screaming claxon for ‘General Tory’ with ‘BJ’ being used by the highe level srokers within the organisation.

Its all Boris. ‘Boris said’, ‘Boris can’, ‘Boris will’, you get the sctipt. The real clincher for Tory identification though was the use of the terms ‘Starmer’ and ‘Corbyn’ in derogatory terms. ‘Starmer can’t’, ‘Starmer won’t’. He’s booming away to silence from his table. I’m facing the other way but I’m assuming that as he drones the other members of his blue rinse entourage have been whittling their tripled fried pomme frites into rudimentary belly slashing devices to end it quick through Mass Harakiri at table 2 of the Highdown Inn, Freshwater. No one is replying to this bloke as he laughs at his own jokes, not a peep as he talks about sediment movement on the coast or the erosion of the down itself. The classic toff boring his mates into potato based assisted death.

I then realise, much like I did in Cornwall a few years back, that I am once more in another Tory enclave so the bore is the norm hence the reason no one has driven a barstool into his back. Planet Wight was 56% Tory at the last election and 62% Leave in the Referrendum. An island reliant on tourism wants fuck all to do with Europe. I should stop giving these people my hard earned cash but I’m captive here now so I can only bring it down from within with rage and disdain.

We get the bill from the Greebo and after a scan of it pay the £158 which seems a bit steep but it was nice so we head off back to the Tory free sanctuary of a Tory owned second home rented out to mug Labour voters like me.

The next morning I have a nagging feeling that the bill was wrong so I retrieve it for a second look. I count down the meals and all seems well until I notice a ‘2’ next to one of the two entries marked ‘Steak’. It appears that I have been charged for 3 steaks instead of the eaten 2. The Greebo has had me over and chows down at my expense, clearly she aint the Vegetarian she oozed. I thought about complaining but the reality is that it’s my fault. It was as clear as day on the bill I just chose to be sloppy. The best way to hurt these types of pisstakers is to not go there again, write a blog about it which Seven people read and engage with a druid who will curse then into bankruptcy. We shan’t do business again but I doubt they care.

I’ve been to the Isle of Wight many times but I’ve never been to Cowes. This time around it’s Cowes Week where all the well-to-do head down to the harbour and mince about in blue shoes with brown laces and pole shirts with anchors on them so what better time to go eh?

I was expecting huge crowds in Cowes due to the ‘Regatta’ yet we drive straight in and find a parking space almost imeadiatley. Much to my suprise it’s stupidly empty and not what I expected at all although there are a lot of chinless wonders poncing about in Musto clothing or with jumpers tied loosley around the neck. We breeze along the harbour front and into the ‘old town’ which is like any other ‘old town’ in Britain, basically a mix of tired old shops or hipster heavy trendy emporiums freshly opened in an attempt to boost the local economy by appealing to a group of people the old school don’t really want there in the first place. Ryde ‘Old town’ is the exception but I’ll come to that in the next installment of this epic.

We aimlessley stroll about popping into the odd tourist based shop looking at comedy mugs or T-shirts. It’s all a bit soul destroying as I’ve seen this a thousand times before and mostly in Hastings where the in-laws lived and where one of the main attrractions is ‘Bottle Alley’ which stinks of piss and misery.

And then I see a few locals milling about the High Street. These humans aren’t what the local parish council had in mind when they promote an international regatta and so I can only assume they have escaped from some crypt or set adrift boat to make their way into the heart of Cowes to drool at us the human wallets fuelling it. There’s lots of awkward gaits and randoms ears with added underbite, bent heads and 100 yard stares, classic seaside people so the thumbs are few but the yellow fingers are many.

None of these zombies appear in the harbour where the relatively less ugly people hang out so we head towards it purposefully to increase the beauty. We get there just in time for something to happen on the boat front. ‘Something’ means nothing to me but there’s a tangible air of excitement around a starting cannon and a bloke with a loud hailer. I look towards the water hoping to sea it filled with sails in a scene reminicent or the film ‘Troy’ when Achilles and his fleet hit the beach of during the first invasion. What I get is a larger version of Ally Pally boating lake with a few two-bob launches randomly floating in circles. The cannon goes ‘Phut!’, a posh roar goes up and nothing of note happens except pure randomness on the boat front. It’s all very dull and even the professional Musto crowd seem nonplussed.

To calm ourselves down from all this excirement we head to a Mexican street food truck where we purchase some Burrittos at huge expense. We take a walk down the promenade and find a free space on the cobbled beach to eat them and enjoy the view which currenlty gives me a massive container ship. My choice of Chilli was poor. It’s basically a mush packet of vaguely mexican slop kept luke warm in a foil parcel. I’ve rarely been lucky with Burrittos and always forget to avoid the chilli option as they are always like babyfood and I’m in the middle of my life where I have the teeth capable of chomping chicken. Maybe in a few years I’ll need this Mexican milkshake in a wrap but not yet.

So Cowes ain’t for me either. I’m aware this could be me but I am me so I’ll ignore that and blame everyione else. We head back to the safety of the village and en route I realise, to my horror, that we have no booze back at the house. Dear. God.

This happened once before in Rhodes when I went to the fridge only to find sweet fuck all. I lost my shit and after a row with Jen about it where she informed me that she wasn’t my mother and I could have bought my own sweet beer we blamed the heat and moved on. Since then I have prided myself in having enough provisions to keep me nicely alight throughout any stay I make in someone elses holiday home. I direct Jen to the local Sainsburys and head in where I grab 4 beers, 4 ciders and a bottle of red and a bottle of Prosecco. There’s a lot of oldies in here and so the checkout isn’t flowing with Aldi efficiency, it’s all ‘how are you Mavis?.. is Jack’s leg better?’. I care not a jot for chit chat with checkout plums and so get irritated waiting but remind myself that this isn’t wham-bam-thank-you-shut-the-fuck-up-you-ain’t-my-mate London and simply wait my turn.

At the checkout I meet Perry who’s wearing a face shield. Nothing wrong with that, better safe than sorry, his choice etc.

I’ve always hated Perry. Sorry I should clarify at this point, not this specific ‘Perry’ but Perry in general. Perry must be one of the worst names in the history of this Planet. I knew a Perry as a kid, lazy eye, dull hair, musty, bit of a prick, you know the type. He made it impossible for all subsequent Perry’s to survive in my hate dome. This bloke standing before me waiting for me to pay my hard earned cash to keep him employed even had the gall to put the word ‘Perry’ on a name badge. This man, this strumpet, bedecked in Sainsbury’s orange is proud to be called ‘Perry’. He is Brazen, bold as brass, he’s ‘Out there’ using the moniker ‘Perry’ on a badge like it means someting. Perry Big Bollocks…

I plonk down my potential purchases before the ‘Perry’.

‘Having a party?’ Says Perry…

..War is imminent. No more talk will stop it. Winter is coming, villages burning, maniacal laughter in the distance, the distance squawk of the three eyed Raven…the lot..

‘Sorry?’ says I with all the indignation I can muster. My eye starts to twitch and I reach for my keys in my pocket…

He repeats the line (fair play…took me aback a bit….classic Perry)

Flash bastard… Perry….’Flash Perry’ they probably call him down the boozer, ‘Pel…Good old Pel’ they love him, Lovely bloke, funny, a ladies man. That’s right… Perry, flash funny fucker, the last of his line stands before me, taunting me with the badge….the throbbing badge like a finger in the eyesocket, oozing ‘Perry’….

‘Party?’ says I, ‘8 Beers and 2 bottles of wine?….Sounds like a bad party Pezzer (I didn’t say Pezzer didn’t want to rile it), No party, I’m off to the park…. I’ll probably be back later, what time do you close?’

Nish from Pel bar the sound of a receipt being printed. I take my party pack and leave.

I’ve got you Pez, I’ve got you in my sights….You Dirty, Dirty Rotter…

(fade to black)

Next time: The Horror of Ryde, collapsing old men, new potatoes, Pool Hustlers, Go-Kart oiks and the near complete lack of Guinness pushes me close to the edge….

“..Mr Nice….”

To say I am dissapointed with the Euro 2020 championships would be an understatement. It wasn’t only the end result or the mostly dull football in half filled stadiums, nor was it the constant politicising presence of the Oaf pounding the global reputation of this country to dust whilst squeezed into a shapless England top worn over his shirt. My dissapointment sits firmly at the feet and decision making of one lovely, cautious, nice man, the forever bearded, forever biege, Magic FM of football Gareth Southgate.

Now I’m sure he’s a lovely bloke, proper decent…. ‘nice’… Your Nan would love him.

He’s the Half a Lager shandy top, Prawn Cocktail, Steak (well done) Chips and Peas, Blackforest Gateaux, No cheeseboard, glass of water, No coffee (‘bit late and a bit tired’), bus home alone night out. He’s the no bunk up on the Tinder date (‘bit naughty’) PG Tips teabag 90 second brew cup of tea handed to you in a glass mug type of bloke loved by Mum’s and Dad’s who dust down an England football shirt once every 2 years when they hear “Three Lions” on the radio and then fill our pubs shouting things like ‘SHOOT!!’ when the player is 65 yards from goal. This is usually followed by ‘Why can’t he score?’

Southgate is more Bank Manager than Football Manager, he’s the deadly serious History teacher as opposed to the half pissed sweary Politics one you’ll remember 25 years after you leave school.

What he isn’t is ruthless which sadly for this country is exactly what we needed at 2004 hours on Sunday 11th July 2021 when Luke Shaw magnificently smashed in a volley breaching an Italian defence we thought we would struggle to break down. Instead of thinking ‘Blimey Charlie, what a start!!… A Brucie Bonus… Let’s rip them a new one’ Southgate appears to have ordered some kind of placid retreat.

I will come to that game later but it’s necessary that you understand where this is going so you can bale out if you don’t fancy it or wish to give him a remote cuddle while suggesting to me that ‘it’s only a game’.

This rant is not about the players, its about the tactics of a ‘Nice’ bloke that sadly left the greatest opportunity this country will ever have in its footballing life hanging in tattered rags.

The players are blameless because the modern player does what he is told. There are no Gascoigne’s, no Big Tone’s, no Hoddle’s, no Bergkamp’s, Cantona’s or even Beckham’s who would refuse to take it and grab the game and their team mates by the throat while saying “are we fuckin doing this or what?”. Those days, sadly, are over.

Now footballers are robotic racehorses, infinitly fitter but lacking a certain bite, a certain randomness for the ispirational. This became more evident during lockdown when you could hear coaches and Managers on the sidelines orchestrating things like a 15 year old with an Xbox controller. Today’s players don’t take the initiative because all they have heard from the sidelines for 18 months are the words of the coach literally telling them what to do and where to be and they have missed the encouragement or rage of the crowd which will fire them on for good or bad.

Lets go back to the beginning. Qualification.

After a ‘successful’ world cup campaign where England lost a semi final to Croatia after going one up early (sound familiar?) we began qualification against a group of nobodies where we scored 37 goals including 5 against the Czechs. We did lose one game, a dead rubber against the Czechs but by then it was ‘coming home’ large according to the press because we had we pissed it with Moldova, Bulgaria and Montenegro being put to the sword in emphatic ‘style’ albeit the style of a man who would say his favourite biscuit would be a ‘Malted Milk’ (plain, not the choclolate one….theat would be ‘madness’).

We jump forward now ignoring the pointless friendlies and Nations League to hit the Euro 2020 group straight between the eyes as we were pitted against the footballing Titans of Croatia (in decline), the Czech Republic. (crushed previously) and the Auld Enemy, The Scotch.

This group wasn’t difficult and if you believe it was then I would question your sanity. The main reason this should have been a breeze is because all the games were at home, at our stadium, at our training ground, at our well used National Team Hotel where the players would know the staff by name and close to our families. There were no fireworks in the middle of the night, no dodgy Lasagne’s, no prostitute tempations in the bar, no South American jewellers making false allegations against the skipper there was just England at home against fairly substandard opposition.

But what did we get? We got watered down Lambrini football with less cobblers that Theon Greyjoy (crowbarred Game of Thrones reference there). Home advantage was our Lionel Messi as 1966 and 1996 proved. Home advantage in any tournament is worth a goal a game in normal circumstances as the blood is up and the players ignite to appease a mostly drunken support baying for goals.

I can understand an element of trepedation against Croatia (11th in the world at the time). You always want a good start and they were runners up in the last world cup however they were well known to be on the down slope with a few of their players gone through age. I can forgive caution in the opening 20 minutes of the first game of a campaign but any professional player would normally have gauged the level of ability of the oppostion after that time and so should be rejigging the tactical approach. Problem is, as I said above, the modern player is a instruction based machine and so they stuck to a dull plan of a 1-0 win which makes ‘the plan’ the problem.

A painfully dull start but the result is acceptable given it’s the opening game but the signs of ‘The Fear’ were there and football is supposed to be fearless especially when at home.

Then came Scotland who were 48th in the world at the time of playing and have only beaten England nine times at Wembley in their history with the last time being 1991 when, ironically, they lost the overall tie as we beat them at home.

In the run up the press tried to big up the Scotch for a number of unclear reasons but mostly because they send loads of ticketless fans down for a day out in London. This approach is much like the love for the Irish who swarm in, get trollied and leave us all smiling.

Cue ‘Braveheart’ imagery and footage of busted crossbars from 1977 which was their 7th win at Wembley in Jubilee year meaning to any slightly over refreshed Scotsman that the Queen had been personally beaten much the same as they were defacto World Champions when they won 3-2 in 1967. Every Englishman is aware that this is the Scotch World Cup final and so they will piss blood trying to beat us but they are rubbish and should be treated as merely ‘plucky’ with limited ability and that only only takes you so far.

England on the other hand were widely regarded as having one of the tournaments best attacks with options in every position. In contrast Scotland had a striker of stunning ineptitude but with outstanding footballers hair and a Man United midfielder playing as a makeshift centre back.

Scotland played like a 70’s Brazil on the night compared to our timid, limp, safety first approach. Southgate appeared to have decided that the twin threats of Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes (Australian) were going to cause us trouble so we would need to defend deep and hope we could hold out for a draw. In what now appears to have been a Southgate tactical masterclass we stifled the Jocks long enough for anyone with a modicum of footballing understanding to have successfully smashed up their house to the required levels in abject frustration. Southgate had delivered. A draw against a team of dustbins. It could go down as the single greatest dissapointment of my England watching years and it killed off nearly all enthusiasm I had for this event and the side.

The last group game was against the Czechs (43rd in the world) and the easy slayers of Scotland which was something we failed to acheive.

Up front they had the chiselled beauty of Schick who was on fire and due to the huge threat of this goalscoring Titan Southgate decided that it was probably a great idea to score early and then bore the marrow out of an excitement starved coutry as you don’t want to overdo it now do you? I mean it’s not like we’ve all been locked up for 18 months bored to tears during a pandemic. He probably thought he was doing the nation a favour to be honest, had we been anything other than a plate of turds the excitement might have become overpowering. God Bless that beareded horse face freak.

The Czech game was irrelevant anyway, another Czech dead rubber, due to the fact that we had already qualified with an impressive played 2, Won 1, Drew 1, record where we had scored one goal. This game merely cemented our place at footballs top table by adding another glorious goal to our fear indicing reputation just in time to meet Zee Chermans in the last 16, a game sure to get the Nation on it’s feet and the Press suitable frothing at the mouth.

Germany (13th in the world) rocked up at Wembley with their fearsome reputation in tatters and with an arse sniffing manager seeing out his tenure by reinstalling all the old men into his side for some classic tournament football.

I never thought we would really lose to Germany as they are pretty much a busted flush however for 75 minutes we did what we mostly do against them….. struggle. If Pickford hadn’t saved a Havertz shot we’d have been losing but you ride your luck and with 15 to go we sprang into life and killed them off either side of a Muller miss which you wouldn’t have been criticised in betting your house on him scoring.

Germany bested, demons slain, 15 minutes of form acheived after 345 minutes of utter gash. No matter, the Quarter finals against super fit Ukraine beckoned but this time we would need to travel to Rome to acheive it. The nation took a deep breathe….How could those fuckers at UEFA do this to us? We invented the game (we didn’t), The home of football is Wembley (it really is), how dare they expect us to travel to the beautiful historic city of Rome in the summer with heat ripping us from the rain at the teat of football in the London Borough of Brent famous for fuck all bar a football stadium….WE ARE ENGLAND!!… IT’S COMING HOME!!! blah blah blah….

‘Knock out’ football is odd and can throw up all kinds of anomalies as Iceland proved previously, but Ukraine (23rd in the world) were never really beating us after we got a goal. I never doubted this as a victory and anything other than a few goals would have been a disgrace so credit where it is due, this was a wholly professional performance albeit against a team which should be pretty much slaughtered by a team of our potential. Tactics spot on, performance spot on with an early strike to settle the nerves and a quick double after the break. The momentum was beginning to build because that is what it is about at tournaments, don’t spill your spongle too early but improve game on game looking for the peak at the correct time.

Much like Ukraine I was fully confident in beating Denmark (12th in the World) as they weren’t particularly special and were really driving on following the shocking collapse and heart attack of their most gifted player. This was all ‘for Christian’ which was wholly acceptable but that only takes you so far and I felt we had too much for them even after they took the lead with a decent free kick beating our too short keeper in the middle of the goal.

We bounced back and took control never really looking threatened and by the time we won a very soft Sunday league penalty which translates as a nailed on professional one, our superior fitness had worn down the Danes who were now out on their feet. ‘Game Management’ then kicked in and we comfortably controlled it until the final whistle.

So there we were, 90 minutes away from glory on our own pitch, in our own country with our own fans in the ground against Italy (10th in the world) a team who should have been buried fairly early on against Spain but had been the masters of momentum build. Nothing to really fear there on paper with old men all over the shop and a fairly dull attack and an ethos that they would almost certainly ‘park the bus’.

The four days before the final would be tense and nerve racking but in the cold light of day this was perfectly winnable and deep down we knew it…. we all knew it…

….And then, at 1900 hours on 11th July 2021 the team sheet was released and anyone with a smidgen of football knowledge realised that Southgate had not only bottled it but had announced to then opposition that he had not only shat his beige, elastic waisted sensible trousers but absolutely obliterated his M&S left side dressing sensible Y fronts in the process. It was a car crash down there with mess seeping through the zip, over the waistband and through the belt holes….. total Caramac carnage….

Of the 11 players started the match wearing the Three Roaring Lions on their shirt, 7 were born into defending. If you added in Mason Mount, a great player normally with attacking intent at club level but used as a nippy toe-in ball winner for England you had 8 defensive minded players starting the most important England football match since 1966….at Home, on our pitch in front of our pissed up filth. It was a borderline surrender…..to the Italiano’s…

It was at this point that the drinking really kicked into gear for me but my phoned ‘pinged’ with a message from ‘Our man formerly from Hong Kong’ who like me had realised that Southgate had offered formal surrender terms in the shape of a team sheet. The stroker had fully reverted to the tactics of the group stage at exactly the wrong moment killing any form and momentum created in two and a bit football matches. I felt sick.

By the time the game got underway I was nicely alight and had optimistically convinced myself that in finals anything could happen and we could wing this which for me meant we might fluke it and actually win.

How desperate is that by the way? At home, thinking we could wing it with a defensive team in a final. Rarely does anyone do this. The stakes are high and to win a football match at some point you’ll need to put the ball in the net unless yout strategy is to win on penalties from minute one. That has happened many moons back when Red Star Belgrade bored the bollocks off everyone by stifling out a fantastic Marseille team for 120 minutes live across European TV screens to deliberately eek it out on penalties much to the outrage of anyone who loved the game. It’s a high risk approach which can collapse on a mistake, a set piece, a match time penalty, a linesman error or an own goal….risky and so desperate and a sign of a team will limited confidence from the manager.

Then within 2 minutes we were winning.

A fantastic goal from all angles. Team play, cross, finish, slick Italian keeper rigid, totally bamboozled a glorious sight. The italian mystique of impenetrability had been smashed by the boot of a rotund left back ambling into their penalty area to ‘thunderbastard’ a controlled volley past the tournaments best keeper.

It. Was. On.

All we had to do was push, push, push with the upper hand for 20 to 25 minutes to force a second. Two goals and the Italians were finished because we were never letting two in to this side.

Well…. it was on for about 10 minutes where we had a little go and then retreated to the safety of our own half for the next 65 minutes before the Italians scored a scrappy goal after a truly world class save from Pickford which was lost in the explosion of a victory balloon over the country going ‘pop’.

At this point we were cattled and no spidercam footage of an team huddle was going to change that. If you have drilled into the side the mindset that one goal is enough they probably aren’t going to spark into an attacking threat after 70 or 100 minutes…. it’s over and so you better hope no one misses a penalty.

And that’s where we ended up. Not with two strikers on against too aging booked Itallian central defenders or with an aerial bombardment or Sterling and the thick ponce Greaslish running at the heart of the Italian defence, we went for a penalty shoot out and this was never more proven than when The Southgate decide to add two players specifically for penalties in national Hero ‘Rash’ and £90m Sancho.

I will never blame a player for a miss in a penalty shoot out, I will in a game but not in a shoot out. In a shoot you will inevitably have a few players that have never taken one. In a game you have your main man who picks up the ball telling everyone else to ‘fuck right off’. There is no argument whether he may have missed before or not because he is the penalty taker. I always watch penalties, I never walk out. Football is a game of error and you must see and take those errors like a true fan of the game and not by smashing up a pub or italian restaurant or a Fiat 500.

We knew Kane would score as he is quality. I knew Maguire would score because he was undoubtedly going to smash the pattern off the ball as he’s a centre half with limited ego. Pickford would need to assit us and he did. The problem was the technique of the penalties that were missed. All four, if you include the Italian one, were shuffle-shuffle-tippytoe place it after ‘giving it the eyes’. This has always fucked me off.

In recent years Abumayang did it in the last minute of a North London derby and we all went mental due to its lameness. Do your job mate, this ain’t about your haircut or your tattoos…. it’s fan based…

As a kid you are told to take a nice run up and hit it hard and low or high but always with power as its a 24 foot by 8 foot high hole and the bloke with the gloves can’t really move. Power usually wins, power and accuracy nearly always wins. Being smart looks good but this wasn’t the time to be smart it’s a time to be a professional footballer regardless of age and stick the ball in the net from 12 yards. It certainly isn’t the time to try and kid or embarrass the 6’5″ best goalkeeper in the tournament who only really has to go the right way to almost catch your weak effort.

When it ended I sat there. I wasn’t raging, I wasn’t crying, I was fairly numb. The greatest opportunity this country will ever see where they have faced literally no one of note all the way through from qualifying to the final at home had ended in failure due to a lack of ruthlessness and cobblers.

A mate of mine who I respect suggested I should be happy that Southgate had given me a final for the first time in my lifetime. I obviously pointed out that this was in the palm of our hand and the fact that it’s been 55 years since the last won shows you how rare they are. You cannot miss opportunities like that and to think that we will make it a third tournament of at least a semi final but this time in the deserts of Qatar seems fanciful. It will kick in for the rest of the nation pretty soon I reckon. Never happen again because after all the stadium break ins and the racism and the pissed blokes smashing up central London, we are never seeing another major international tournament in a thousand years.

Like I said above to me the players were blameless. These are modern players, automatons, by the numbers, ‘Yes Gaffer, Yes Gaffer’…. that is what they do, they do as they are told. They are also a lovely bunch of young men and good role models to the youth of this country so at leaset we saw something great out of it.

There are few nice winners in sport in general, in football there are less. Mourinho, Ferguson, Wenger ruthlessley efficient and never worrying about who they were playing. When Wenger started worrying about the oppo he was finished. Theses examples had the amatuer footballers mentality of ‘Let them worry about us, we won’t worry about them…. we do what we do’. Of course that is the simplistic view but Southgate worried about everything and it killed him in the end. We had a great attacking team and his own, well known caution stifled it at the key moment and I doubt I’ll ever get over it.

If I had my way there would be no more contracts for this ‘Nice Guy’.

A failed Semi final and a lost final at home tell me that no reward should be given to him but the FA will see something easy in keeping him on. He’s wholesome, bland, beige, cheap, the company man who isn’t having a frantic one with the CEO’s secretary in the store cupboard or pillfering funds into his own account. The non-football people who crop up like drinkers at Christmas and Paddy’s day filling pubs with single order beers glogging the system for us professionals loved him and won’t lie awake at night toiling over it. The amount of people telling me they ‘did well’, and were a ‘credit’ or ‘next time we’ll do it’ haven’t got a clue. This is failure, not abject failure but failure none the less and he should be replaced sharpish.

Southgate was cool under the microscope of the media post match. He’s a professional if nothing else. ‘This is on me’ he said. Yep…. it fuckin’ is mate. Unforgivable…

Second place, first loser….

…Two, Zero, Two, Zero…

In 1999 I travelled to the beautiful hamlet of Luton in the Hobbiton-like county of Bedfordshire to spend Christmas with Jen’s family.  As it was near enough the first time in a scenario where Christmas and Fine wines were to be consumed in front of people I was unfamiliar with,  I was nervous and so on my best behaviour not to smash anyone or drop the C-bomb in general conversation with ‘Hastings Grandma’ who I was aware would be in attendance.  As expected all went very well and no one was offended by me to my knowledge.

Following a lovely dinner we all retired to the ‘Parlour’ (this was ‘posh’ Luton….hard to believe I know) where we relaxed in the classic Christmas afterglow of too much food.  While I was dozing I noticed that Jen decided to put of a CD I had bought her by gravelly voiced two-bob flash in the pan Macy Gray.  You know the song, as it was the only one that made a dent in the conciousness of the nation, it was called ‘I try’ which was a sort of tedoius nothing song that you would find on a ‘Hits’ album by the chewing gum at the check out in Tesco or, more likely, Asda where some onesie clad Lambert & Butler Lottery loving lunatic would loudly declare her love for this ‘choon’ as she heard it in some Spanish meat rack when on holiday prior to a frantic one in a gutter with ‘the love of me fuckin’ life’.

The Luton tribe politely listened to this pile of arse as Jen liked it but as it droned on I noticed the faces turning as if Scrooge himself had walked in to deliver the bad news that Boxing Day was not a day off.  I scanned the room and noted various stages of sheer disgust at the noise eminating from the Tandy Stereo system but my eyes stopped on Grandma.  She had the face of a person whose finger had just popped through the toilet paper.  She looked personally offended by the ‘racket’ as if this was some form of declaration of war against the old.  A scowl appeared and then a slight twitch where the sheer hate was trying to escape.   Hastings Grandma was a lovely old lady with not a bad bone in her body but she had clearly had enough of this musical mess.  After politley enquiring as to the name of the artiste knocking out this plate of turds she uttered the now well used (in this family) phrase:

“Does it Stop?”


Does. It. Stop. The simplicity was staggering.

It did stop and we all got on with Christmas and never mentioned it again.  You know what,  I’m not sure that CD was ever played again and I’m pretty certain that somewhere in the afterlife (load of cobblers) Hastings Grandma is happy with that.

Sooooo,  2020….. Does. It. Stop.

On 9th March 2020 I stood watching ‘Supergrass’ a band of my semi youth at Ally Pally in the company of the boy, my mate and his daughter. It was a great night and fantastic parent/child moment for all of us.  Little did I know that a week later I would have been effectively under house arrest bar one day a week in the office for the next 10 months.  Now I’m not going to bang on again about the pandemic as I’ve bored you all with that and we are all in the same position of being hostages to circumstances led by Donkeys.  I will mention it in passing as part of my ongoing hate obsession against Johnson and his ‘Elk’ (moose related gags are the future) but we’ve pretty much talked that out with the exception of the new ‘variant’ which requires as much analysis as does the release of a ‘New’ Action figure with a slightly different colour hat…Same thing but a bit different.

So what else has happened?

America.  The Land of the Free finally stood up and said ‘enough’…. Well, we think they did…. no matter as much as I believe this was all above board even if it wasn’t I couldn’t give a monkey’s chuff.  The key here was to remove the lump Trump before he made a mockery of the globe and not just his own country.  You could argue that a man with no credentials, experience or any other skill to do such a job getting to that position is the greatest example of democracy ever seen….except it isn’t. 

Trump was and will never be your average ‘Joe’…he came next. Trump is just another man of privilege flexing some financial muscle in this case at the expense of the common cuntery of the country.  To be fair to Trump or more specifically the Trump Machine it gained power 4 years ago by exploiting a previously untapped source of voter, namely the dim rightwinger with no real interest in a global view and the general distrust and hatred of kitten eating Hilary who a lot of people just couldn’t stomach being in charge of the country.   It worked and as much as Trump would have loved to have won the popular voted he didn’t need it and so he targeted what he required.  A brilliantly executed plan (the only credit he should get here)  by a man who only really got involved in the first place after Obama embarrassed him at a charity dinner.   So the whole process started on a petty level and remained that way throughout.

Trump, and his robotic wife whose face said’ Have I really slept with this savage for years to be thrust into the limelight when all I want to do is nothing and spend the filthy cash’, took charge with a scowl and a grimmace and pretty much remained that way for the entire 4 years.  A joyless individual who only lived for money and power now had the ultimate power and not an actual clue about what to do with it so he just plumped up his chest, reminded people of his job title and threw his considerable weight about. 

Once again we’ve all met this type in our own jobs and so inevitably we all knew it would end in tears.  These type of bullies always lose the crowd in the end as the novelty wears off and the realisatioin that they are pretty much out of their depth and useless kicks in.  I love work bullies.  I relish the collapse and the potential for confrontation with them as the old saying is true:  Stand up to a bully and watch them disappear.  I love that bit.

Useless is one thing but Trump was dangerous, self motivated and hateful.  It was all initially funny as the promises of walls being paid for by other countries and things like ‘Space Force’ were announced but it quickly became evident that this was very, very wrong.  The problem with appointing the wrong idiot into power is that you are stuck with them until they decide they’ve had enough or they are voted out.  Anybody in the cock measuring business isn’t binning the idea of supreme power and a mandate to do almost anything they want for four years and so Trump stayed the distance albeit the minimum distance for a President not having a bullet inserted in them. Eventually the people mobilised and removed the psyhco but only because more people than ever voted and not because he lost support. 

The new El Presidente is a beige man of low charisma but politics isn’t showbiz and so with America’s reputation hanging in rags Sleepy Joe, a public servant for 47 years is the right man for now to calm shit down.  Even the little things set him apart from Trump.  He seems to be able to connect,  he looks like a man who has cried, he has been seen to laugh and smile…. he seems human.  Trump has none of that, he was just a ball of hate bulldozing himself into power through lies, mouth and money towards dictatorship.  My old man would have loved him, two peas in a hatepod.

I could take the piss out of Trump more and highlight all the funny stuff but the reality is that it isn’t really that funny in fact it’s tragic.  His appointment triggered a resurgence in hate, racism, homophobia and everything else that we spent decades trying to eradicate.  America wasted four years on a twisted, bitter meglomaniac and that is an appalling position to have put the planet in.  Everyone associated with Trump and that administration sacked, imprisioned or not should be ashamed of themselves.  With a bit of luck Law Enforcement will catch up with him as he’s not the brightest bulb and money can’t always save you as his mate Epstein found out.

The rise of the Superstar World Leader led to this country losing it’s fucking mind and allowing a proven liar (a known fact not even disputed by the man himself) through the doors of Number 10 albeit initially through the back door of internal fighting because a dour proper politician was in charge who now had a grasp on things.  Yes indeed, Mother Theresa the epitome of dull at least actually saw the stark reality before us.  The Tories knew that she would probably sell it will an element of truth and so they replaced her with a snake oil salesman who would suck in the stupid to do endorse the cunts banquest they had created….. and they signed up in large numbers.

To be fair to Johnson he wasn’t up against much in the form of Comrade Corbyn who turned out to be Labour’s greatest own goal.  We all know the story now so I won’t labour it (arf) but Corbyn got smashed as large sections of the country couldn’t stomach him and so the lying Oaf took control with a decade defining majority.

As I write this I’m listening to Johnson on the radio addressing Parliament in order to get his Brexit ‘Deal’ approved.  Clearly this will happen as Labour must back it or we have the fabled ‘No deal’ which your Hastings Fisherman (29 boats) demands as the only satisfactory outcome for them regardless or the national pain. So what do I think? I think Fuck Fish…. Literally if it’s you bag although for me it’s metaphorically.  Bollocks to the fishing industry, no country should be ruined on the back of an industry contributing so little to the overall economy.  It is simple mathmatics.  If Debenhams can be allowed to collapse with 13,000 employees then so should the fishing industry with 12,000. Never fall into the trap of believing that these muppets give single solitary fuck about a toothless, leather palmed Hastings fisherman.  The fishermen are merely a flip chart idea on the ‘car park’ sheet for ‘ if we are in the shit’…. They have simply actioned that last resort idea from Duncan in procurement.

As I was saying Johnson is currently in my earholes blustering along with his speech littered with analogies and whimsical visions of Britain in the future so vehemently that at any second I expect the few tories in the chamber to start a chorus of ‘Jerusalem’ before they all bash one out into their white handkerchiefs before waving them above their heads splattering the chamber with spongle in honour of this old Etonian ponce at the dispatch box.  Messy, Messy business the modern politics…. littered with the grubby sock destroying ‘two wears of the pants’ merchants.

Johnson is our Trump, a bluffer, a liar, a man with the promises and no ability to deliver them….all smoke and mirrors.  He then had the assembled ‘whoop’ of Tories (to be fair the only other collective noun for them I could think of was ‘bunch’ but as we all know that was taken for ‘cunts’….hmm might work) gaffawing as he took the piss out of the SNP.  This even had me, a proud believer in the Union, thinking I’d like to see an independent Scotland, Ireland and Wales.  No other country should really be saddled with the actions of this Ponce and his bevvy of Poncettes.

Like Trump he’s no longer funny but unlike Trump he thinks he is and revels in the smirk and the one liner.  At least Trump had the good grace not to lace his faux hardnut bollocks with jovial shite and went full lunatic reminding people he was ‘The President’ which is the political version of ‘Do you know who I am?’.  Say that to a bouncer and you get a swift slap as you become a story at the bar of the Bouncer Convention prior to the inevitable battering in the carpark … I was always surprised that members of the US press never pulled Trump on that,  how great would it have been to have said; “I know exactly who you are,  It’s why we are here you stroker”…. Legends as oppossed to sycophants would have been born.

Johnson’s tactic appeals to both the press and a certain type of jub in this country who see him as a ‘bloody good bloke’ in charge during a ‘tough time’ doing the best he can ‘in these unprecedented circumstances’.  Surely most people realise that any role where you claim to be the leader of a country will possibly lead to ‘unprecedented circumstances’ at some point whether that be a pandemic or potentially a war with a foreign power.  Nothing should be a shock and all eventualities inparticular biblical plagues which a lot of Tories believe in should have been ruled out.  If you need a dose of Tory fake Christianity check out Rees-Jub’s twitter which annouces the birth or Christ at Christmas 0001 hours on Christmas Day (historically incorrect) as if he had just witnessed it but I’d imagine the last time he was probably in a barn was on some Famous Five adventure holiday where ‘larks’ were high and ‘lashings of ginger beer’ wasn’t in a dominatrix dungeon just off Belgravia.

The truth is that this government is an old boys club who have no experience in running fuck all.  What they do have is a vested interest in each other and a perverse sense of loyalty to each other. It’s effectively a lower tier  Masonic Lodge run out of a Scout hut where they convince themselves that it’s all for the greater good even though the greater good is a tight knit group of individuals wearing a fancy apron with a penchant for a good paddling.

I’ll save you the misery or a rerun of COVID as we don’t need it.  We are all still living it and nothing I can say (although true to form I will say something as this lovely 2014 Rioja kicks in) will change your opinion or experience of it.  My only words will be ones of hate for the idiots calling the shots. 

It does exist and it does cause illness, trauma and death but the way it’s been dealt with is a disgrace.  The U-turns the flip flops the filling the pockets of their mates, the killing of the country through blatent mismanagement, lies and bullshit is ripe for arrest in my view. I will not forget the lost year my kids suffered due to the ineptitude of the fuckers who wanted the responsibility.  I will not forget the ‘that only applies to you’ rules nor the ‘this is your fault’ tabloids blaming us, the scum, for apparently not obeying the rules which changed hourly.  All that stuff was overblown to hide the fact that they just didn’t know what to do,  if in doubt blame the public. 

Of course the public broke the rules but not to the magnitude being published.  Do you know anyone breaking the rules to the degree in the papers?  I don’t….. but I do know that if you crush people and don’t let them use the COVID compliant places they will find alternatives to enjoy themselves while rightly reminding each other that we can fight over the pork chops in Sainsburys, cough on each other on a tube train and send our kids into the loving sticky embrace of their mates and 300 other associated families on a daily basis…. it’s not rocket science.

If the public are responsible for this it’s due to mismanagement by the government and policies which fuel confusion.  Confuse the public, lose the public but keep it simple as in ‘Hands: Face: Space’ (the only constant) and you have a chance of winning and them understanding what you are trying to acheive.  But using a stop/start strategy and lauding ‘victory’ when it hasn’t been acheived will spark off people, particularly the large swathes of thick, to start thinking that it is over.  It isn’t.  The general public need direction and instruction almost on a plate in a simple, easy to understand form. 

My job teaches you to trust no one as the public are flighty, random and prone to ignoring the fuck out of you.  Why would anyone think this is different?  The well trodden answer to this is a ‘total lockdown’ which is actually impossible.  Nurses, Teachers, Teaching assistants, Caretakers, cleaners, Train drivers, lorry drivers, Warehouse staff, Security staff, Social Workers, check out assistants, shelf stackers, Rozzers (and associated staff), Soldiers, Care Workers, Hospital ancillary staff, Bus drivers, Firefighters, Doctors, Dentists, farmers, petrol station attendants, Food processors, the bloke with the lump hammer in an abatoir, News readers, jounalists, postman (never had a postman come to my door in a mask….ever), delivery drivers, Butchers, Bakers and candlestick makers all these people will be required to leave their home to ensure we don’t all die and there is nothing more you can do. 

You could close the schools (easy for me with a 17 and 14 year old) but that means some working parents wont be able to work and will starve as the process for fast cash is hampered by Tory red tape.  Leave schools open and the kids mix and all bombburst home potentially infecting anyone who was isolating themselves dilligently for extended periods of time. The rise in infections is mainly down to the moments Johnson et al told us to carry on, go to work, go to school, eat out to help out and get the country back on track. A confusing message leading to Charlie Farley deciding it wasn’t worth trying to understand it any more. 

They called it and like the Brexiteers celebrating a ground breaking deal with the EU which is effectively akin to being given a basic Wimpy Burger after handling the Double Big Mac with extra cheese, Bacon and complimentary Gob Job behind the bins of the Maccy D’s they now must fucking own it…over to you fuckers… suck it up… this is your moment….

….sorry about that,  I got ‘The Rage’…

Anyway in this hovel 2020 was the Year of the Dog. 

Jen suggest that this blog should be called ‘Doggo Bloggo’ but as she never reads them I ignored her,  I’m my own man…..just don’t tell her for fuck sake..

In May during the early stages of this shitshow a family discussion concluded that some sort of Dog was required.  This wasn’t on a whim,  I’d wanted a dog for years and my daughter was obsessed with the idea but I would never have had a pet of that magnitude if I wasn’t able to commit to it fully.  When it was clear that COVID had changed both mine and Jen’s working lives for the foreseeable and it was apparent that we would most likely have an extended period working from tables at home it seemed a feasible prospect as my main motivation was that I didn’t get a job to leave in a cage for 8 hours a day. Any dog needed to be part of the tibe and not a 45 minute toy after work.

The search begun.  The search was mostly fruitless however my older Bruv is a bit of a dogman and knew a couple of people and soon enough Jen was in touch with a Cockapoo (it was only ever going to be a Cockapoo) breeder up country who, after some odd questions which we successfully answered we were accepted into the ‘Fur Family’…..

That’s right…. This was my world now, the world of the ‘Furball’, a future where the dog has a bandana or a bow tie and I’m in photos with it smiling like a fucking lunatic. Clearly this will never happen.  A dog is a dog and not a person, an accessory or a talking point you get bored with after the inital cuddly puppy phase,  it is forever or for how ever long it lives.  So, we’re in.  Dog World.  But the beast isn’t born yet and we have to wait, and plan.  Eventually we get the news that an litter of nine bitches is born and one will be ours.  The name chosen after much debate was ‘Roo’ as in Kanga’s kid from Winnie the Pooh.  The inital name was ‘Scout’ but the kids wouldn’t have it and I weren’t allowing ‘Poppy’ or ‘Lottie’ or some other Chelsea Tractor owning MILF name which required me to shout across a park.

It was at the point of confirmation that the madness started.  The pup was hours old and we were all thrust into a whatsapp group with all the rest of the ‘fur family’.   It. Is. Jawdropping.  Fruitloops.  Large discussions started about beds, toys, clothes (no shit) and it got worse after the pups were dished out with one particular fuckwit using this forum to ask all sorts of stuff the intergoogles could easily answer.  One particualr member of the ‘Fur Family’ (please smack me in the mouth) would post stuff like ‘She’s looking at me funny’ or the classic ‘it hasn’t eaten it’s breakfast….what’s wrong’.  A dog will eat a stick, a pine cone or it’s own shit if it’s hungry enough, not eating for 8 hours means nish. When it’s hungry it will eat the laces out of yiur boots.

A dog is not a baby.  A dog is an animal which could decide at any point to strike and rip out your windpipe.  If you treat it like a baby in two years you are either sitting on the floor as it has your chair or you are fighting it off with a broom handle as you hide behind a sofa.  The majority of this whatsapp group the dog was a baby and would be pampered accordingly.  Fuck. That.  I will never be dictated to by an animal…

….And then I saw her…

It was pretty much love at first sight if I’m being honest and I’m not soppy.  Tiny….Soooo tiny…like a large rat scuttling…snuffling….jumping….like a cartoon character.  Outstanding work.  I’m in for life. 

We pick Roo up from the breeder who has a large plot near Sheffield and after sorting the paperwork we head home.  She sleeps all the way back and as soon as we get in the house she shat on the hallway rug.  Here we go.  Over the next 12 weeks she only drops anchor in the house on 3 other occasions and now she rings a bell to go out to the garden to use the facilities.

She is a fantastic dog.  Calm, controlled (unless she’s stolen a Haribo Tangtastic then she goes nuts) and quiet.  I had all kinds of advice prior to this about the mistake I had made, how I’d be ‘up to your arse in turds’ and  how it would be ‘your dog in a week’ blah blah but in reality the only mistake made was not to have done it sooner as I feel now that I may have missed out on something.  Roo is not a child, she’s not a baby although she can be needy like one and she knows her place in the pack but she is very much one of us now and so I would fight a roaming band of itinerents should they try to steal her.  I ready and I’m handy Dermot McGillicuddy… be warned. 

Getting Roo has easily been the highlight of this shit show year along with the return of Our Man in Hong Kong but all fun was sucked out of that due to the COVID….We’ll ride again Bun and we’ll rope in a few willing souls along the way and inparticular that Crystal Palace smooth faced coiffered biker who we have both missed.  Onwards Brothers..

Four of my Rock heroes died this year.  Pete Way and Paul ‘Tonka’ Chapman from UFO finally succumb after years of legendary excess.  You get called ‘Tonka’ when the perception is that you are indestructible…  I loved the pair of them.  Neil Peart of Rush possibly the worlds most technically gifted rock drummer shockingly died with no warning.  Obviously he and a small group of people knew but to the fan base it was a massive shock as ‘The Professor’ was gone.  And of course Eddie Van Halen died…. Proper choker for me and I’m still finding it hard to believe even though he was riddled with cancer which we all knew and eventually died of a stroke.  Could still cry over Eddie and probably will tonight.

Diminutive genius Maradona died and I was stunned at the outpouring of love from this country given he had cheated us.  I worked in a pub in 1986 and I still remember thinking the TV was going out the window following the ‘Hand of God’ goal.  I was 17 years old and this was a fucking abomination….blatant cheating suddenly forgotten as 34 years had elapsed.  I forget nothing…. It’s a gift….or a curse…..Not sure yet.

Bit over it all was Covid and the isolation for all of us.  When you take a species who is free and socialises in large groups and lock them up you start to realise what it must be like to be a Chimpanzee in a pen in a Zoo….basically Grim.   Life as you knew it is over for now.  Personally I have struggled. I’m not used to a world without friends and laughing.  I’m not used to working at home for 10 months with no end in sight.  Of course it’s fantastic not spending London prices on travel or for a substandard Bacon and Egg Roll but people need people in the flesh and not in a box on a computer screen.  My Christmas holiday doesn’t end with a laugh in the office and a New Year handshake, it ends with me walking down my stairs and opening a laptop in an empty kitchen and that will be the same for a lot or people lucky enough to have the ability to work from home or indeed a job to return to.

The only problem is that the shit ain’t stopping with the Bong of a Bell and a ‘Starburst’ 150 shot barrage in the back garden,  I expect this to continue throughout next year as any promise made by the Oaf and his minions can pretty much be dismissed outright the second it leaves their lips….Spring eh?  Blimey Charlie their history of prediction screams Summer 2022 minimum.

So a year of nothing but death and misery draws to a close. The year when those with big chins and bad teeth but good eyes could flirt on the tube. Heroes and villians dead, relatives gone, friends lost (partly suprisingly but possibly inevitably) socialising a distant memory from another time…. brilliant…. we’ll never get this time back…

Hugs as ever and a better 2021 for us all, Stay safe, obey as much as possible, take personal resposibility but live as much as you can and remember if it can kill Bobby Ball and Eddie Large in the same year it can take us all..

2020…. Does it Stop?…. not quite…

Onwards,

Prison Number VH5150, C Block, HMP London

….World War ‘C’….

Gawd….

So here we are again. Another Lockdown. But this time it’s different. This time we are split in every direction possible and the idea of clapping in the street with your neighbours for any fucker is a long way off.

Fuck. That. We are broken.

World War ‘C’ is raging. It has busted the country and the walnut brains of the ‘leadership’ to such a level that all we can do now is nothing and so a whole lot of nothing is being done. If you are looking for positives I have few other than we are all doing nothing together although we are very, very alone in doing it. The only plan appears to be do nothing, meet no one, merely exist and be bombarded with visual images you neither understand or care to understand.

Have you seen ‘WALL-E’? If not, it’s a Pixar animated romp about a robot left on Earth to clean it up after we have fucked it. The surviving humans languish on a cruise spaceship waiting for better days. We are now those humans, lounging on the deck of ‘HMS Phuqtit’ having state sanctioned information rammed into our heads while we eat and get fatter and fatter waiting for a new world to appear over the horizon.

Checkmate….helpless and cattled…just floating….adrift….drinking the potato water to barely live…

* breathe…

Before I continue with this rant I should explain that I am not a conspiracy theorist. I fully believe in Coronavirus and the devestating affects of it. I therefore fully endorse this quote from genius comic book writer Alan Moore:

“The main thing I have learned about conspiracy theory, is that conspiracy theorists believe in conspiracy because that is more comforting.

The truth of the world is that it is actually chaotic. The truth is that it is not the Illuminati, or The Jewish Banking Conspiracy or the Gray Alien theory.

The truth is far more frightening. The world is rudderless”

Never has the world been more rudderless and chaotic.

This isn’t a man made War which could be stopped through a fine wine shared around a table after all the leaders realise the killing was pointless, this is nature and the unpredictability of it has crippled human thought….for now. The world, and particularly this country is just drifting along desperately trying to sort shit on a minute to minute basis.

The reality is that none of us should have expected anything less. There is no reason to believe that a scruffy haired adulterous slob with a history of weapons grade lying assisted by some of the blandest most inept people in existence should or even could have the ability to sort out a problem like we have now. Even the experts in the shape of men of science seem like bullshit merchants who can’t decide what they want with the flipping and the flopping getting more and more out of control. The lack of direction is palpable and has led to the rise in stupidity globally which in turn is causing more problems.

Once more I am appalled by the levels of stupidity before me….. and I know you’ve heard it all before from me on this very platform but the planets greatest learning machine, Homo Sapien, Human, appears to have peaked.

I am not vey well educated but I see myself as far from stupid. You may disagree with that and that is your right regardless of how wrong you are. How do I compare myself? Well, take the bloke I just heard on the radio who, when asked if he would have the vaccine, said with a straight face (well, voice, I couldn’t see his face but I assume it was in trouble with nostrills and earholes all over the place) that he wouldn’t as he believed that the pandemic was created so pharma companies could make money. The host, the sarcasticly fantastic Nicky Campbell was dumbstruck as it was clear that this plum really believed it.

The caller, ‘Richard’ from Jubville in a Potteries hamlet where a thumb is reveered was insistent that this whole pandemic across all countries with unprecedented death and economic damage to business was created by Pharmacutical companies in order to make money from vaccine sales and he wasn’t being part of it. I nearly clapped. This is what we are up against. Rank stupidity with access to telephones, social media and the ability to created children to sadly keep the thick quotas refreshed.

“The thickness is deep”.

I find myself saying this more often lately, kinda on a daily basis either out loud, in print or simply in my head as I watch another person enter Sainsburys unchallenged without a mask to float about coughing over the bananas or test the ripeness of an Avocado.

I think it on the Tube when I see some dim ponce enter the carriage with their mask under their chin otherwise they can’t stick the heart busting buttery delight of a Cinnamon swirl or a steaming polystyrene cup of their favourite overpriced cafe au lait into their pie hole.

I shout it at the TV when I’m confronted with another OAP via a ‘vox pop’ in the street who calls for more stringent measures in the form of a ‘complete lockdown’ even though they are standing in the street with no mask being interviewed while they are out shopping. A complete lockdown would mean just that and require some form of logistical genius from the Army to deliver food to everyone in their houses. No one wants that as they would then have to complain to some squaddie carrying a box of beans, chutney, powdered egg and crackers who says ‘Here’s your weekly proviosions….see you next week’. The lack of teabags (Typhoo as they are thick) would not be tolerated.

I thought it as I sat in my local curry house waiting for a takeaway for 40 minutes (best night out in 7 months) when some old codger walked in and declared “Do I need a mask?” to which I replied “Do you live on the moon?” to his perplexed face and I bellow it when I read another millionaire celebrity spout ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ from the comfort of their luxury dwelling previously serviced by now furloughed staff, bought with a bank load of cash, laced with not a care in the world other than their profile being ‘out there’ face first.

The thickness is indeed deep and is no deeper than in the good ole U S of A where ‘Freedom’ is apparently at stake.

American Freedom is apparently greater than freedom elsewhere. In this country we have freedom but we allow it to be smashed to bits and we accept it because we are polite and tend to say ‘sorry’ a lot even if we don’t mean it or even have to. Hmmm….bit harsh. We allow our freedom to be compromised for the greater good of society. The greatest example of this was during the inital lockdown when we reluctantly embraced it in most cases as the shock of the pandemic hit home. We did it as we were told it would help to limit death and assist the Superheroes of the NHS. Turns out that was also a great big fat load of bollocks as the system never reached the fabled capacity… No matter we love the NHS and they deserved the clapping as did all the other carers and public sector workers but it was partially built on cobblers.

Over the water in the ‘Land of the Free’, which has a two-party electoral system where the most popular candidate with the public doesn’t necessarily win and if you have the money and quite fancy it you can be President and not only run the country but also the worlds most powerful army without needing any experience, didn’t take as kindly to it with almost half the country refusing to even believe this ‘Goddam -muthafuckin’-freedom-hatin’-chinese-lovin’ disease existed and was really a plot by a shady group of pizza eating paedophiles to take their guns away.

This was obviously fuelled by a citrus skinned psuedo Macho man Mummy’s boy who avoided warfare on a number of occasions with various ailments from heel spurs to ‘don’t fancy it’. I won’t bore you further with Donald as I’ll do that in the end of year review but suffice to say the Land of the Free became the ‘Land of the Me’ under him and if you weren’t oozing MAGA while dressing like a ‘Call of Duty’ character you were very much a ‘pussy’ who hated the Country.

As expected all of these hard nuts refused to adhere to the use of face masks and simple tasks like washing your hands in favour of mass gatherings, shouting (lots of shouting) and weeping to the Star Spangled Banner followed by lashings of illness and death. ‘Freedom’ was at stake and so Death could wait as no ‘Ayatollah-Assahola’ soft handed Democrat was going to take that ‘Freedom’ be that in the form of being tooled up in a supermarket, killing cute placid animals and people, porch flag raising and Mommas Apple pie from them. Death didn’t wait and so like their hero Charlton Heston’s infamous ‘From my cold dead hands’ NRA Speech the outcome was very much death, to be fair it’s what they would probably have wanted.

Back in Blighty the initial Lockdown ended and the Oaf-in-Chief announcing handshakes all round with a barrel load of ‘Huzzahs!!’ on top for a jolly good effort by Charlie Farley and the ‘little people’. In reality and given this idiot’s track record these announcements should have had all off us rushing to the nearest ‘Londis’ to stock up on substandard bog roll and tinned tomatoes prior to a public driven self lockdown as no one in a position of power in this country (in a suit anyway) had a fucking clue what was happening.

Lockdown had been heralded as a success and so we were all encouraged to leave our cells and return to ‘the new normal’ which basically meant fuck off out to save the country with your household to eat a cheap dinner but try not to converse with anyone unless you have to. It was much like going on holiday in Magaluf but without the pissheads, the heat and the gutter full of chunder and soiled knickers.

The majority of the country went nuts. Well, when I say ‘nuts’ I actually mean went to the pub in an orderly fashion, used the hand sanitizer, washed their hands and sat down to be served by a member of bar staff, got a bit pissed and went home. You wouldn’t know this though as every tabloid in the country simply focused on the shitholes where control was lost and everyone in the flat roofed pub claimed either to live together or be in a ‘support bubble’….Chaos reigned according to The Daily Mail and why wouldn’t we believe them eh?

The reality was far more boring but that isn’t really newsworthy and won’t stoke up middle England and the tweed and lavender wearing blue rinse, piss stinking brigade. Every pub I visited was controlled, Covid secure and in line with what ever government guideline had been dished out that hour. I fully get that some pubs and restaurants were taking no notice but don’t punish the compliant, tackle the rule breakers like society says you should, bit difficult that in a woke, no blame culture I know but try it…it migt work.

I see this tactic in my job all the time when someone fucks up as 50 of us get an e-mail telling us not to do it again. It’s the ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Private Pyle trick of punishing everyone for the error of the individual. All that was missing was a mob of people descending on the pisstaking pubs armed with bars of soap in towels to batter the punters within while repeatedly shouting ‘GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!!! GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!!’. Actually I fully endorse this idea and have stockpiled ‘Imperial Leather’…. send me your addresses for free lumps.

During the gap between lockdowns, that now seems to be purely a seasonal blip, Johnson waxed lyrical in that new way that this shower do by talking in analogies much like I’m doing here as it’s generally a sign that you are winging it a bit.

Both he and some bloke known by the initals ‘JVT’ (always a bad sign the initial users….oozes ‘look at me’) have continued the analogy use as they have realised that the thickness might be deeper than they initially thought and if they don’t sell this shit through the prism of a ‘penalty shoot out’ (vaccine test success), ‘spare seats on a train’ (vaccine availabilty) or ‘foot on the throat of the beast’ (a flattening of the curve) then the little people won’t get it. Johnson and JVT (prick) stood at the podium like Auric Goldfinger and a scientific Oddjob laying it on the line simultaneously with a smirk and a menacing scowl. All that was missing, although it wouldn’t have been amiss, was ‘I, I, I, …err…well… err….I expect you to die’ delivered by the lumpy Oafmeister.

JVT and the other science bods all have the faces of men not ready for TV and a wider audience. Whitty looks like one of those Spitfire pilots who failed to eject fast enough as the fusilage burned and Valance has the air of an aging lothario called ‘Paddy’ who hangs around cocktail bars sniffing for fresh meat in the shape of newly widowed GILF’s. I do not doubt the expertise nor the sincerity but to really get the message across you need to use some people the public know and trust and not some stiff with dandruff and dry skin scrapings on his suit who you wouldn’t want to make you a sandwich.

It was suggested by my cousin that a good idea would have been to get Ant and Dec, Davina McCall and Stephen Fry to carry out these briefings as at least the majority of the public like and in Fry’s case particularly respect them and so some of the important stuff will make it into the generally dense Charlie Farley brain. Given the deepness of the thick on this island at present I reckon this may have been better because most people able to wipe their own arse or use rudimentary tools look at Johnson, Hancock, Raab and Gove and think: “Hold up. What does he really mean? What’s in it for him?”. The trust levels for all these Tory charlatans is in the bin and so ever time I see one telling me what to do my instant reaction is to speed off in completely the opposite direction as I assume it will be bad for this worker bee and the hive in general.

And there’s the problem. Nothing Johnson and his Organised Crime Group say can be seen as anything other than complete rubbish due to the fact that they lie on a hourly basis. They lie, twist and smirk as a natural reaction, it’s the default setting. None of them have any gravitas or sincerity. They rally to protect each other even when rules and laws stand in their way. They ignore the rule of law, both internationally and nationally and dismiss everything before them with a disdain that only a certain type of elite posesses due to the education they received and the position they see themselves holding.

They U-turn but only when under immense pressure from their own or when you can no longer avoid a fact before you. In any other life you would respect a change of decision which wasn’t working as it is seen as good management, admitting your mistakes is seen as a strength. There is no strength however in getting 12 or 13 national directives incorrect in a row requiring a change of direction. That is quite a feat and defies both logic and the balance of probabilities as you’d assume that even a monkey would press the right button once in 13 times. Even after changing path they ignore it or blame the opposition, who, having pointed it out are now accused of not being supportive towards the government….. you know…. the opposition, the Queen’s official opposition, opposing stuff.

As for the opposition it is clear that they are scared of Starmer as he can destroy Johnson at will. Starmer is an educated individual closer to the Tories than the Tories and seemingly a large section of the Labour Party would like. The issue is whether you want your Labour leader like Starmer. You might not but neither do the Tories. They want another Corbyn. They want another ‘Loony’ who they can demonise as they did last time resulting in 14 million strokers voting these numbskulls in. If you fancy preventing two decades of Tory mismanagement and corruption within this island we need to get back some form of capable opposition and I think Starmer can potentially do that. He has Johnson’s number now and when you look at the others behind him it is a very ‘thin gruel’ to quote Jacob Rees-Jub. Johnson is the best they have in terms of mass appeal and that is not due to ministerial ability but most likely because he’s ‘a bit of a laugh’.

The Tories hold all the traits of those we dislike but with extra arrogance being key to it all. They have fine tuned the Trumpian tactic of twisting the rules and the truth to suit themselves and try to get away with it by fronting it out with phrases such as ‘That’s the end of the matter’ or ‘we’ve drawn a line under this’ (which they think makes them sound in control) or they simply avoid answering the questions put to them in the first place at all. It’s the old ‘We’ve said it so it’s true’ used by the worst bosses you ever had. A failed management trick used by people mostly out of their depth. It’s similar to that boss we’ve all had who hears your idea, dismisses it and introduces it as his own with the old chestnut ‘What about this?’. Tricksters with little or any real ability running a country during the greatest health crisis it has faced in a lifetime and at a time when we decided to commit economic suicide based on the lies of the Grand Wizard currently wearing the extra pointy hat.

Their game plan is simple: We can do whatever the fuck we want and there is nothing you can do about it.

Sadly this is true at least for the next 4 years.

And so the public, and I include myself in this, have had enough. They have had enough because they no longer respect, trust or believe anything they are told because most information relayed to us has been incorrect, twisted, manipulated or crowbarred in to suit an agenda. It’s no shock to me that some parts of the country are ignoring the governmental advice with regard to coronavirus, I’ve ignore some bits of it for my own sanity and will most likely continue to do so. Like I say it’s not that I don’t believe it and its existence or even its potency to certain age groups and races, I just think that the response is disproportionate given the devastating effect it will have on the country and all the people within it for a number years after this pandemic. The catastrophe is yet to happen.

Now, before anyone on here who knows me starts to think that this is just me moaning that I can’t go out on the lash over Christmas, it isn’t that. My ‘up the pub 4 nights a week’ days are long gone. I’m 51. I go to the pub now probably twice in a single week at a push, I don’t go to the cinema as the people in them annoy me and I’d be arrested. We eat out occasionally but not excessively. I have it easy. I live in a house that they can’t take off me, we earn good money (not ‘proper money’ as an associate of mine once pointed out….fucking embarrassing that was) which has not been affected by furlough. My employer is understanding and assisted me to work from home. I have access to unlimited booze and food and every imaginable entertainment service the country has to offer. But there are other people who don’t have all this shit. The youth of this country are not only going to be saddled with the economic strife inflicted on them by a dying generation through Brexit but are now having their freedom taken from them when they have just got going. My age group have been doing the ‘rule of six’ for years. I rarely go out with more than 5 others, im happy to be waited on and will go home well before 2200 hours….piece of piss.

A year of grief for me is no biggie as I have 50 years of chaos behind me but a year for my 17 and 14 year olds is a lifetime and has had an effect on them no matter how many devices they use. That is hard for a parent to take.

I am a people person. I have worked in big office environments for years where laughing, teamwork and comaradery are essential. I have none of that now. Now I have lone remote working in a shed or at a kitchen table. I get the odd phone call but mostly I communicate through e-mail or text. It’s like being in the International Space Station without the fun of floating about a bit or the potential of being bludgeoned in your sleep by a narky Cosmonaut called ‘Alexei’ who has been taken by ‘the madness’ due to a lack of Vodka. I’m constantly invited to ‘Zoom’ drinks or ‘Teams’ meetings on the laptop but they are fake representations of humanity. Let’s face it, you’ve never been to a party or dinner at someone’s house where you all take turns in talking…. the randomness, the interuptions, the cross talk, the side conversations that become the main chat, these are the reasons we love socialising directly with people.

I’m not sure how most people are dealing with this. Those who live alone or the single mothers or just the mothers looking after kids all day must be really struggling. The isolation must be a challenge. I’m in a house with my own family and a dog (unconditional love) and I feel lonely as I’m not used to this level of restriction. The mental health resprecussions will be huge as will the fall out from all the unemployement and failed businesses effectively closed by governmental mismanagement. ‘Stay in but go out’, ‘Go to work but work at home if you can’…even the brightest bulb would struggle to follow this flip flopping and so it is no shock that rules are broken, people are confused and hope is lost. The real problems are yet to come in my view as the reprecussions of the restrictions hit home and we return to what is being called ‘the new normal’ a phrase that should illicit a hefty smash to the front teeth a second after it is delivered. I’m only interested in the normal and so I’ll be ignoring Matt Wankcock’s expectation that ‘hopefully the public will maintain social distancing long after this pandemic’. If you fancy a hug you knobber, I’m available.. call me…

For a man with little talent other than having a big mouth in a social setting and writing these streams of conciousness for my ego, oddly I seem to know a lot of talented people in both the entertainment industry and hospitality. Musicians, Shop owners, DJ’s, Publicans, Restauranters and the staff that go with all these trades. These people are the hidden heroes who make our lives happy and fun and all of them have been treated like second class citizens during this. They aren’t Police or Nurses or care workers but they exist to serve all of us and communities need these people like we need all the public service personel. Without these people we have this…. this shit… and I think I can say with confidence that we don’t want this shite any longer.

The hospitality industry listened to the truth twisters and adhered to all requests put on them from screens, hand sanitizer, table service the whole shebang… And what did it get in return?.. Shutdown. It would be fair to say that all the places that complied and had controls in place were ruined and all the places which don’t or have limited control such as supermarkets, tubes, trains, buses, schools remain open. I’ve seen people refused entry to pubs for not having a mask but if you simply fancy walking onto a bus, tube or a shop then crack on because no one is stopping you. Schools and their seemingly expendable Teachers have introduced strict protocols for pupils but at 1501 hours they all spill out and walk home together or hang about waiting to enter packed buses for the journey home effectively eliminating the effectiveness of a day seperating the kids. What can you do? The whole plan is untenable.

The only flaw I found with going out socialising was when using the track and trace app set up by the government. I entered a pub and did everything they wanted me to do. I checked in via the app, left my mask on until the table was allocated, ordered via the app and remasked to go for a wazz. Happy Days. At one point it struck me that you should really check out if you check in. I asked a member of barstaff how I checked out of the app when I was leaving.

Confused faces all round…

It appears there is no provision for checking out so if you check in at say 1700 hours and leave at 1903 hours (marginally alight on a two pint an hour pace) you remain in the pub on the app until it shuts unless a hawkeyed staff member knows you have left and actually logs it down. Then at 1916 hours Covidboy boy rocks up in the pub. Due to the sickness he is thicker than normal and so has punched his symptons into the app and left the house with those syptoms which you shouldn’t do (another flaw….if you are that way inclined why would you put the symptons in?….people can’t be trusted….said it for years). His presence sets off the Track and Trace alarms and we all get told to self isolate……even if you had left before he arrived.

I’ve used this app everywhere on purpose to see if it actually works and I’ve had nothing. This is not wholly unusal given the amount of official cases in a country of 69 million people (the odds are in your favour) and of course the app has been universally panned for not being fit for purpose but it did manage to conveniently alert not only Johnson but also Dido Harding the spanner who controls it. What are the odds eh? particularly when it was in the news for being useless….Maybe it’s programmed to only alert the useless as they are adding nothing to the workforce? You can’t write comedy like this….oh…looks like I just did…

So, how do we fix it? Fuck knows. Don’t ask me, I never wanted the power nor the massive hat with ‘PM’ written on it but what I do know is that you might stand a chance of people taking some notice of you if you didn’t batter their will into submission or you were trustworthy enough. There is currently no trust in this bunch. The Tories are incapable of trust as decades of governments have proved. They are self serving strokers who run a country like a private club where their closest associates are assisted and the non members are ignored. We are the mini cab drivers waiting in the lobby of the golf club as our shoes are the wrong colour and so not authorised to cross the threshold into the warm sanctuary of the bar with the laughing and the snacks and all the bollocks that goes with owning slacks and a Pringle tank top.

They have no track record of success in anything including this pandemic other than succesfully topping the European charts with an official number of close to 60,000 dead regardless of the restrictions they have put in place. Little they have instigated has worked. I know of no one who thinks they have succeeded or trusts them.

I hear all the ‘unprecedented situation’ stuff and that doesn’t wash much with me as other, larger countries have less death than us even with public dissent because the people at least trust and understand the decisions made and so go with it. Here it appears that it’s either incompentence ruling or a deliberate act to confuse people as they need to make it complicated so we truly don’t get it and therefore our peanut brains will simply accept it.

Chaos reigns on this rudderless ship and the crew has had enough…..time to set Captain Johnson and first mate Gove adrift with some Rum and a cheap compass however unlike Bligh he’d have sunk within three feet of the mother vessel.

I will enjoy my Christmas in a responsible way but I’m promising nothing as I know that I will not be 100% saintly. Friends, family and human interaction is essential in the dark months ahead and that should not be forgotten in a country where people can no longer die and a thermometer, the stable of any parent, appears to only register Covid-19 heat.

It’s far from compulsory that you should go out so if you don’t want to as you feel the need to protect someone, don’t go out. People will help and understand, even me…If you want to shield or are shielding I’m fully on board but if you knock on my door I’ll open it and have the Mulled Wine ready.

…Wings not Rings….

I have never liked the song ‘Jump’.  It’s a soppy, bland, synth heavy pop track and in 1984 it was a long way from the British Heavy Metal I was listening to. 

I still remember the first time I heard it though.  I was watching a ‘pop’ programme hosted by the coiffured mulleted, bearded lunatic Noel Edmonds.  Over the intro Edmonds explained who the band were had recently been paid $1,000,000.00 for a single gig which at the time was a world record.   The gig in question was the US festival which had taken place in San Bernadino, California and was reportedly attendended by 670,000 people.   To be fair it was a festival as opposed to a one band gig so that would explain the crowd but this mob headlined the prime Saturday night slot and got paid more that Bowie (Friday headliner) and the first boy band, The Clash who took the ‘let’s get away early’ Sunday night headline spot.

This factoid raised the pulses as a gig and a fee that massive must mean something so I stuck with this piece of tacky synth based fluff to see what all the fuss was about.  The track got going and it was nothing special…..and then the guitar solo kicked in.

….And in that moment my Van Halen obsession was born.

It wasn’t the song that did it.  It wasn’t the fuckin’ massive chrome drum kit, the regular Joe bass player who looked like a trailer park owner nor was it the yelping acrobatic singer with the spandex, mane and average scat singing…. It was the guitar player and it has remained only ever the guitar player. 

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen.  A diminutive Dutch-Indonesian naturalised American with a big beaming smile and rapid fire fingers…. Mr 5150.

Anyone who knows me will tell you what I am like.  I’m not big on empathy, sympathy, tolerance….I don’t suffer fools and I say what I want whether appropriate or not.  Most people have hated me at some point and I get that…. We were moulded by some half Irish Spartan leader who went in hard and heavy early doors even with his own kids.   The traits of nomal politness barely exist in my cannon. 

I could change but I reckon that would be wrong…. ‘not me’ and I’m a great believer in being me whether it’s popular of not.  I was born with a certain face, a ‘miserable fuckers face’ where many times I’ve been asked ‘What’s wrong?’ when nothing was.  My face doesn’t ooze friendly however I am utterly addicted to laughing and try to do as much of that a day as is considered sane.  Other than Guinness and Rouge laughing is my drug (no real drugs have been consumed) and so when I saw the the ‘Jump’ video and noticed the bloke  constantly  smiling and laughing I found myself drawn to him instantly as I like to see people having a good time.  He looked like a bloke enjoying himself (not like that), a bloke who would be a laugh all the time which is something I wished I looked like.  From that moment I was all in for life, I wanted to be part of the party…

Van Halen were in the Heavy Metal bracket but they weren’t really ‘Metal’.  Iron Maiden were Metal,  Judas Priest were Metal, Sabbath were Metal, Metallica were Metal.  At the time I was still listening to The Police (Miserable fuckers),  The Jam (Miserable Fucker) and Madness (Joyful Norf Landon filth)  but I had started to dip my toe into Metal due to Iron Maiden and the artwork they had on their record sleeves.  I figured if I bought the record for the cover then I might as well try out the contents.  It turned out I quite liked it so I fully intergrated myself with British Metal bands….a corner had been turned.  I had become a Man…

All British metal bands were ugly in the mid 80’s.  At the time no one knew this and bands like Def Leppard were considered ‘pretty’.  They weren’t.  They were factory workers with poor hair and teeth like a burnt down fence.  They were a grubby bunch who clearly were only employed in this music arena as most of it required minimal visual apprearence and their fans were equally as ugly and as I weren’t pulling up any trees in the good looking stakes I felt at home in Metal.  This was a time were sales ruled the world and not faces.

If you want an example of how rotten Metallers were find a picture of Diamond Head Guitarist Brian Tatler who could have easily lived under a bridge eating the odd wandering minstrel or check out the more famous Dave Murray from Iron Maiden who used to be an actual Dustman in London before realising he could play the guitar to a ludicrous level and therefore could make several bin lorries full of stinking sweaty cash.  I mean look at Lemmy,  christ alive….and then there was Girlschool, blimey Charlie, you’d think it would be difficult to get that much ugly into one group even by chance or bad luck. They were like young 80’s dinner ladies and far removed from your image of band that might get on the TV. They probably should have been playimng gigs behind the curtain with the lights off, the classic ‘faces for radio’ scenario.  All ugly, all surly, all called ‘Brian’, ‘Dave’, ‘Ronnie’, ‘Tony’, ‘Steve’, ‘Jackie’, ‘Denise’ and all obsessed with wizards, magic, darkness and death…. British Metal was never getting you a girlfriend in the 80’s unless you met a Metal Chick (preferably with some teeth) and there weren’t many of them floating about.  But they were my people…. I had found a musical home.

Van Halen were more ‘Party Rock’, they were the American equivilant of AC/DC, balls out fun….almost ballad free.   Everything was about fun and few songs were tales of yore.  They were a fun band singing about drinking, girls and having a great time.  It was ‘Goofy Rock’ in a sea of Dragons, Demons, Devils, fire and visions of Hell.  They were never serious, it was all a laugh formed around a hyper singer of poor vocal quality (although a good front man), an competent bass player whose real strength was that he could drink like a mule and he did as he was told, a fairly good drummer and an absolute God on guitar. 

Over the next few months I made it my mission to purchase the complete back catalogue as I assumed that the ‘Jump’ solo,  which had salvaged a, let’s face it, wank ‘rock’ track wasn’t going to be a one-off.  Almost instantly research revealed that it wasn’t, in fact it was very far from a one-off. 

The solo on ‘Jump’ is bog standard in Van Halen terms, ‘beige’, below par,  as is the iconic solo from ‘Beat it’ which is reveered and on the great timeline of rock moments earlier than ‘Jump’ by about 8 months.  I suppose the fact that Quincy Jones asked Eddie to do it is validation enough that he was special and that the band were suitably massive…in America anyway.  Popular doesn’t mean good….it merely means sales….

It’s hard to describe the impact Van Halen albums between 1978 and 1984 had on me from a musical perspective.  All guitar work regardless of genre was boringly compared to Eddie by me from purchase onwards.  The first six Van Halen records contain so many blistering pieces of guitar work that I’d need a much longer blog to really explain it.  Luckily I’m not going to do that as it would not only be fucking dull for you but would be fairly pointless as you don’t care.  Suffice to say it was clear from the debut album that Eddie was special and with every following album up to and including ‘1984’ (the final album of the orignal line-up) the performances got better. ‘Jump’ was clearly an attempt to conquer the charts which stateside it did and so was the ‘turd in the waterpipe’ on that album which has some of Eddie’s best work, all of which is a lot better and heavier than that mincy cobblers which appealed to a mass audience due to a fucking keyboard intro.

As I hinted, I could knock out millions of words on Van Halen but I won’t as I realise I’m the only one interested in this subject in my life.  Jen cannot believe I like them.  She has never understood it.  So count yourselves lucky that I’m not going to talk at length about Eddie’s innovative use of the Wurlitzer electric piano fed into a flanger and then a Marshall amp on ‘And the cradle will rock’ which was made to sound like a guitar riff.  Marvel at my restraint regarding the fret slide at 3:49 in ‘Mean Street’.  Revel in my lack of description of the iconic intro to ‘Hot for Teacher’ which batters ‘Jump’ to dust only to be followed in the same track by an even better solo and the ludicrous complexity of the rythmn playing in ‘I’m the one’.  I won’t even bore with the trivial nugget that their greatest song ‘Down in Flames’ wasn’t even released but was dismantled to make a couple of other classics instead, nor will I mention the stone cold fact that few bands have delivered cover versions better than Eddie reworked them. 

I won’t bang on about his philathropy not only to the public with improptu jam sessions as he simply loved playing with anyone who fancied it or the delivery of 75 signature guitars at $5,000 a pop to a music school but also to fellow musicians like Jerry Cantrell of ‘Alice in Chains’ who in the early days only had the one guitar.  When Eddie found out in a chat with him he sent a 2 guitar, 4 amps rig with a note saying: 

‘When I started nobody gave me anything.  Now I get everything for free when I’m happy to pay….. No one should have nothing….Enjoy’

Far be it from me to tell the tale of Eddie burying one of his most priceless hand made original guitars (The Bumblebee) with murdered Pantera guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell as a sign of his respect for a fellow guitarist with the Eulogy ‘Darrell was an original and an original deserves an original’.  That guitar is beyond price.

The bloke was a living genius.  He built his own guitars, created his own ‘brown’ sound, patented numerous improvements to the instrument, tweaked the inner workings of amplifiers, wrote the music, played live to an exceptional level even when stoned, pissed, ill and surrounded by lesser men. He was a master of the shredding rock guitar solo but to me he was the best rythmn guitarist in the genre. 

His rythmn playing is, in some ways, the real stuff here with some of it is being better than the solos created by others.  It was always complex rather than straight up rythmn and it flowed like a singer would sing a song.  He was to rythmn guitar what Keith Moon was to drumming in The Who.  Moon was the engine of The Who and never merely some monster providing the beat.  Moon was living the track by making his drums sing along with it.  Without Moon The Who were a Who tribute band as an integral part of the collective had gone.  A key driver in the evolution of a band had been unplugged and so the machine would never be the the same again regardless of who they got in to try and replicate it.  The same will be said about Eddie.  irreplacable.

Eddie was a relentless Guitar humanoid, a sound machine who pushed the limit of his ability until the end in a journey into what sound he could make and how he could make it.  He was famously rarely without a guitar strapped to him.  His mantra was ‘Play, Play’ Play’ as that is how you master an instrument, it has to be a life choice and more than a hobby even before you make it as a successful act.  One of my biggest regrets is never learning how to play a guitar to any level.  Given my love of guitar it seems ludicrous but I was born with tiny pixie hands….Damn you sweet baby Jeebus!!!!!

….and now Eddie is gone…..and there’s nothing we can do about it…

The reality is that this shouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone with my geekery of the great man. 

I have read, seen and listened to nearly everything about this bloke for the past 36 years.  My search history will not provide you with ‘MILF’, ‘out of control step sister’ or ‘Tena Pads’ but it will say ‘Eddie Van Halen’.  I am a sponge for info about him so was fully aware of the illness and the very likely inevitable outcome.  He’s was ill for a decade and so when it happened I was calm as it was clear from the clues in whatever you read.  The last couple of tours had shows cancelled mysteriously,  the periods of silence between tours were longer, it was staring us in the face but I didn’t really want to believe it and hoped for an announcement of somethng positive, alas, it wasn’t to be.

This isn’t Bowie though.  Bowie was shock, global shock.  Eddie dying just meant saddness as a bloke known to me as much for smiling, joy and laughter as he was for playing a guitar had gone in what appeared to be a drawn out and painful way.  I saw a photo of him a few weeks back and even though the smile was there he was unrecognisable due to the treatment.  

When David Bowie died all we really knew was that he had died.  It was simply announced to a global audience who could barely register it.  I can’t even accept Bowie is dead to this day as you only ever picture him relatively healthy.  There was no real warnings as there were prior to Eddie going,  Bowie died and the world rightly collapsed into chaos.   The saddest thing about both their deaths is when you look back at the historic photos.  Both are constantly smoking.  I’m on a Bowie Facebook forum and most of it is photos and I love photos but nearly every shot shows Bowie smoking,  it’s noticable.  Eddie was the same and as he wasn’t the lead singer a lot of shots show him smoking on stage.  Bowie was taken by Pancreatic Cancer and Eddie got mouth cancer which spread.  He tried to insist that he got it from holding a metal guitar pick in his mounth but this was clearly cobblers.  Tragic but you make your choices.

Will Eddie be remembered by me as the worlds greatest guitarist?  No… or course not.  Oddly he’s not even my favourite guitarist which will shock some people on social media who have been bombarded with photo’s of Eddie for decades by me.  Just to clarify Ritchie Blackmore is my favourite guitarist, is he the best…meh… who cares, you like what you like. The one thing all the photos of Eddie I’ve bored people to death with have in common is the joy of a man loving his work.  The happiness and the fun coupled with huge, huge ability is what I loved about Eddie.  He wasn’t born with the serious ‘Metal’ face or the need to find one, he just loved what he did.

Eddie was the King of Hard Rock guitar and the master of the flowing spellbinding pyrotechnic solo but he wasn’t the greatest guitarist in the world and couldn’t really play out of his element.  I would place Blackmore, Gibbons and Moore above him as players.  I don’t count Hendrix as he’s widely regarded as a true deity of Guitar and so it would be pointless to get involved in that discussion.  The only thing Eddie has in common with Hendrix is that he also changed the way a guitar was played but for his generation of players,  it was the next stage.

Blackmore and Moore particularly are both more eclectic in style and all round ability than Eddie.  Blackmore can play almost anything you like be it, Rock, Pop, Blues, Classical, Medieval, Lute, Mandolin or with an orchestra.  Blackmore is my man but he lacks any semblence of joy or happiness.  Nearly every photo is sullen nearly all gigs are a sulky chore where he fights himself to be better when that isn’t possible due to the level of ability he has already. At some point you ‘top out’ as Steve Vai or Satriani have proved. Blackmore’s attempts at ongoing improvement into his 70’s are admirable but some of us are paying to see it and a smile would be nice as we put you there in the first place and so we’d appreaciate an encore without him taking the piss out of both the band he formed and the public.

Eddie was the best at what he brought to the table but he wasn’t particularly great at other genres.   I recently saw footage of him on stage with Simon and Garfunkle improvising along to ‘The Sound of Silence’ and it was an excutiating mess.  His general attempts at proper Blues are amaturish and filled with metal elements and if he goes ‘Pop’ he’s generally making dated noises on synthesiser.  When Van Halen split with Roth and the Poodle Sammy Hagar took over the guitaring changed and was less incendary.  It mellowed in line with Hagar’s low rent pop writing.  Of course the odd moment of genuis burst free such as ‘Pleasure Dome’ but it was mostly two-bob general playing in a doomed attempt to be cool and popular.  Luckily we got one final Roth led album to end the career which brought us all full circle.  Even Eddie said that unless Roth was singing the fan base didn’t see it as Van Halen.  He was right of course and this was confirmed in his death when a tribute radio station only played Roth-era Van Halen tracks.


My love of Eddie was in his joy and his particular sound and tone which I can pick out at about 4-5 miles if the wind is in the right direction.  I once claimed in a pub that I could recite any metal lyric you liked word for word from beginning to end.  Obviously this kind of drunken 19 year old bollocks was bound to fail almost before the words had left my pie hole.  Within seconds I was proven wrong and so I was forced to slink off in a sulk to cry in a park alone by moonlight.    I do however reckon I know every tick and trick in Eddie’s playing now. Gawd knows how many times I’ve listened to the first six albums and watched all available bootlegs, it’s like a drug and I will continue to search out stuff I haven’t seen.

Eddie sounded like Eddie in whatever Rock song he played. There was and will only be one Eddie as the tributes and media coverage, even here where he is less known proved.  He inspired a million bouffant ponces in spandex who valiantly tried to reproduce his playing for the Hair Metal/Cock Rock genre explosion of the 80’s but nobody ever played his songs better than him, trust me, I know, I’ve seen the Steve Vai try and if he can’t then no one can.  A lot of rock and metal fans tell me that everyone can do the Van Halen stuff and that is true but not like the King and not in 1978 when it was released, that is the point that gets forgotten.  If you trawl the bootlegs you can find him doing this stuff in 1975 so he was way ahead of his time.

The final song on the last Van Halen album ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ from 2012 is ‘Beats Workin’.  As a true geek I know it as ‘Put out the lights’ from a 1978 demo session paid for by Gene Simmons of Kiss.  Like a lot of that last album it’s a reworked version of an unreleased track.  Some said ‘cop-out’ but not me,  I don’t actually think it’s unusual to do that.  If we go back to the start of this blog I should have have explained that ‘Jump’ was in fact written in the mid to late 70’s and rejected at the time by the band as they wanted a guitar sound and not a keyboard to dominate it.   Anyway, I digress, ‘Beats Workin’ ends with a sustained period of feedback as if the guitar has simply been left to hum out.  In hindsight it is a fitting last recorded track and as eerie as an epitaph as ‘The Show must go on’ by Queen which was the last track before Freddie died.  Eddie went out, on record anyways,  with the power very much on.

So goodbye to one of my Heroes, the tears have dried up so thanks for the Music, the smiling, the joyful memories and the explosive guitar which I’ll never forget…

The 5150 man, Flying Eddie,  The Lord of the Strings… x

…Mutiny on the Sofa….

A few weeks ago I had the misfortune to find myself shopping in Asda. No one deserves this especially me on a Saturday afternoon but I was forced in by proximity rather than choice. The Saturday ‘big shop’ tends to involve me these days as I have little to do on a Saturday morning and I kinda like watching people function as, well… people. Most supermarkets are horrific places to visit but Asda takes the crown for a particularly virilant strain of the human soup so I was keen to experience some hard core scumbaggery first hand.

We trundled towards the doors with our trolley and as ever I have chosen one with a dodgy wheel. I usually get a twitchy wheel but today I have chosen one with part of a carrier bag caught in it so it is acting like the break is on. Being too lazy to go and get another one I ploughed on regardless fighting the fucker around the aisles like Judah Ben-Hur after a collision in a chariot race for the next 40 minute. Once inside I am greeted with a sign that is bound to raise the spirits of even this luckless trolley grabber.

“Corona Extra, 2 x 12, 330ml bottles for £18”

Happy. Days.

There is loads of it, crates of it, untouched and unloved due to the announcement of a virus out East (not Ilford) with a similar name to this and the fear amongst the populus that anything with a similar name must induce certain death if purchased, drunk, eaten, licked, talked about or even looked at.

As I look at the ludicrously priced beer (I can never recall this being under a quid a bottle ever) I am filled with panic and concern the like of which I cannot recall in adulthood. It’s not that I believe I will be taken by the virus but more the possibilty that my trolley might not be big enough to take advantage of this moment. In a flash I am filling the trolley with boxes of this amber treat only to be thrawted by Jen who limits me to a mere 24 bottles. She’s probably right, I barely drink beer at home and judging by the amount available and the clear stupidity of the punters in this place there won’t be a run on it any time soon so there should be no panic either from being Corona Extra free or Coronavirus riddled.

We mooch about the shop buying the food for the week being avoided by other punters set on filling their trolies with ‘Frubes’ and ‘Wotsits’ due to the booze of death I have on board and once we have our fill we find the busiest and slowest checkout (my speciality) manned by what appeared to be a very pleaseant middle aged women. As an expert of conveyor belt ettiquette, I lift the 2 crates of Corona up first in order to get them scanned and and out the way and am met with a face of horror by the prevously pleasant checkout operative.

” Why are you buying that? (* points at box), you know what this is right?” she says.

I nod.

“…but you know why people aren’t buying it don’t you?..” she continues

I nod again, “..It’s because they are stupid..”

She wrinkles her nose in disgust and bleeps the boxes through barely touching them.

We have no further interaction and so Jen and I escape the shop with our IQ’s intact and our beer supply boosted.

When I told this story on my Facebook at the time it was a bit of a laugh due to the fact that this level of fuckery wasn’t wholly normal. Look at us now. I am currently self islolating and the country is in a 3 week lockdown, mostly targeting those not intelligent enough to understand why we are doing it at all.

Coronavirus. A very nasty flu like virus which primarily affects the old or those with generally serious underlying health conditions. The rest of us seem (from the information dripped out so far) to get either no symptons, mild symptons or bad symptons, basically anything can happen from nothing to death. Clearly this is a very serious unpredictable situation requiring cool heads and inspiring leadership.

Ahh…. Here’s the problem.

The wheels have come off and the mob in charge have no chief mechanic, have no effective tools and the garage down the street is shut due to a change of management. It’s not my intention to be political here but I’m afraid it will almost certainly go that way even though no party would be any better than the other given the magntiude of the crisis. Having said that it is hard to fathom how a morally bereft smirking bumbling Oaf and the ‘Megamind’ Sorcerer-in-Chief de facto leader can be trusted on any level to assist the common cuntery of this country regardless of them holding up a very large bag of cash for us all to see but not touch, open or obtain the delights within.

Even before this crisis kicked off the Tory party had failed. Years of neglect of the very organisations that will get us through any life threatening global crisis (whether war, pestulance or famine) are now coming home to roost due to policies of greed and self interest….. but enough about me, let’s start with the repsonse from the Leadership Team.

There is nothing more British than a man in an ill-fitting suit, with a mop top hair style waffling on, smirk fixed, using language only a small proportion of the nation can relate to in a wood panelled room flanked by two dour experts as decoys. When this all started Johnson was bumbling through it like the Etonian he is at a 6th form debating club. When the daily briefings started it was all bombastic soundbites and cheeky grins with the tough bits, the ‘hard yards’ as it were, being carried out by other people who I’m sure most of us welcomed as they were proven bona fida experts as oppossed to parliamentary bluffers, special advisors and, lets face it in the case of Matt Hancock vacant terrified idiots.

Initially Johnson burst out of the gate and gave it large on the ‘we will beat this together’ lecturn thumping cobblers much the same as he did with ‘Get Brexit Done’. Unlike Brexit this is an issue that will affect everyone rather than a few ‘peasants’ in a council estate in Grimsby and so Johnson needs to acheive the impossible feat of national love which is only really reserved for NHS workers, GBBO and Stephen Fry.

As the briefings went on Johnson visibly shrunk and the cheeky quips (‘Operation Last Gasp’ when talking about ventilators) disappeared as the realisation dawned that you can hoodwink some of the country on Brexit but not the majority when people start dying from a virus you know fuck all about. This was well above Johnson’s ludicrous pay grade and so he started to take more of a back seat leaving the important stuff to slicker, more believeable machines like Sunak, Vallance and Whitty.

When Johnson was in front of the camera he adopted the persona of a reluctant prefect or corridor monitor who instead of insisting chaos stopped he kind of asked politely. He did briefly forcefully ask but instantly changed it to apologetic as he looked into the camera and saw the reflection of ‘good old Boris’, the jovial knob ‘bursting with spunk’ instead of what he should be, a man leading what was once the 5th biggest economy in the world in a moment of global crisis.

As I say, Johnson left the big stuff to other people. Rishi Sunak, the Cummings appointed ‘assistant’ Chancellor was rolled out and delivered a very slick Private sector speech whilst holding up a massive stinking bag of filthy cash no one seems able to access. The bag apparently contains £330bn in unmarked bills stolen in advance from your future taxes and is greater than the GDP of the Republic of Ireland. It is a huge amount of cash but at present just a soundbite as people have started to get laid off and businesses are folding due to delaying the process of obtaining anything tangible at speed. It all sounds great in a moment of panic and to be fair the Tories will get away with it if they partially pull this off as Labour effectively don’t exist anymore regardless of the belief that their policies have been nicked. If you wear no crown you aint the King and anyway we’ve all worked with bosses who stole our ideas in front of our very eyes moments after we suggested them and we all know no one cares if you complain.

After a few days asking politely for the public to listen to him we were finally subjected to a national address which only the thick really needed.

Johnson took to the airwaves with a speech so dull that I’d be suprised if most people didn’t simply switch off or at least leave the room to put the kettle on in preparation of ‘Masterchef’ and another gurning shag macjine Greg Wallace. Johnson deleivered the bad news of ‘lockdown’ (with multiple exceptions exploitable to his Brexit mates) through a face previously only used by him when realising the public actually voted to leave the EU. He engaged the startled face with wide eyes look reminicent of Alan Partidge whenever he gets found out or shouted out by ‘Susan’ the Receptionist in the Linton Travel Lodge. My only surprise was that as the broadcasst ended and the screen faded to black we didn’t hear “…Errr….Sorry…” like like a fat Hugh Grant apologising in a Rom Com when he’s done nothing wrong but feels he has because he’s English.

So ‘Lockdown’ it is and if you don’t comply the police will have no power to do anything about it. Hardcore.

Under the new life rules you can’t have a beer in a pub but you can get on a tube train. You can’t have a haircut (what a time to be bald, they are now the Princes of this land) but you can go to Tesco’s to buy the beer you can’t get in the pub…if you can find any. You must keep a distance of 2 metres between you and other people unless they are in your household where you have unwittingly been involved in a backdoor version of ‘herd immunity’. You can leave your house to excercise but probably not a 10 mile run. You can’t have a BBQ on a council estate with a load of toothless, lottery obsessed professional smokers drinking cans of Breaker but you can join the online queue for ‘Ocado’ with 78,000 other people who also have no prospect of getting a delivery slot.

A bigger problem than the politicians is the people. This virus has highlighted the fucking state of intelligence not only in this country but in the wider world. To be fair at present I couldn’t give a Wuhan food market Monkeys about the wider world so I’ll concentrate on our good old British Bulldog, John Bull, Lovely pint of Bitter and a roast dinner spanners instead.

The levels of stupidity shown by this country since this crisis started is incredible.

Food shortages, hoarding of toilet roll (fuck knows), NHS staff being mugged, food supply trucks being firebombed, the inability not to go out in large groups. The list of the stupid is endless. I’ve been self isolating for 9 days now and I have adhered to all the rules. Of course it’s dull, of course it’s a pain in the arse but it is necessary. Luckily I’m one of these tragically dull model citizen types and so I do what I’m told. I’ve always worked, always paid my taxes, never claimed a penny, never been arrested and never been involved in a public disturbance. Turns out a lot of people don’t do this. It turns out that when it all comes on top people are selfish and greedy from top to bottom.

The hoarding in particular has been a national embarrssment. When old ladies can’t get any food because some massive Lambert and Butler fat necked savage has taken all the milk and eggs you know the world has ended. The repricing of goods in local shops must be remembered as should the big firms either sacking people or forcing them to work under these circumstances so shareholders and fat cats can still prosper.

This should be what is remembered by all of us. The strokers who took the piss. Remember them and we might actually get somewhere after all this that will be for the better. It’s not ‘entrapreneurial’, it’s taking liberties. Villians are entrapreneurs and we mostly dislike villians because they prey on the weak and the vulnerable. So if you remember nothing else in our islolated bubbles over this remember the piss takers and forget the £3.29 pint of Guinness in a Wetherspoons, forget the Lonsdale t-shirt sale in Sports Direct, stop using the local Pharmacy with the £20 Calpol and £15 hand sanitiser claiming ‘market forces’ and ‘I’m a local trader trying to earn a crust’ excuses and use somehwere else. Remember the Greed.

None of us will though. Wetherspoons will be banged out within hours of any reopening and be filled with pissed toothless oafage and if you need some jogging bottoms you’ll be heading into Ashley’s warehouses with the surly staff and fake discount labels like a shot. The local Pharmacy will get away with it and continue to thrive as we can’t be arsed to seek out the next one closest to our houses. We’re lazy and they know it.

The Government also know that the public are stupid. They know as they have to really drill it home with ludicrous rules like ‘Stay 2 metres apart’ which is clearly bollocks of the highest order. If two metres is the government stipulated distance you can guarantee that it’s really 2 feet as they have created a margin of error for those of a more challenged brain.

Due to being incarserated for 9 days I’ve soaked up as many ‘facts’ as possbile about this thing in order to come to some sort of consensus on the truth. I’ve listened to phone-ins, Governmental Briefings, Scientific briefings, chat shows, information bulletins and news specials and it would be fair to say that they have mostly said the same stuff but you do get the odd error made by an expert which strays from the party line. There was one instance inparticular relating to the 2 metre rule that hit my earholes. The expert was asked to reiterate the guidance but added the clearly unwanted sentence of ‘so long as you don’t stand talking to someone for 15 minutes within 2 metres you should be fine’. I’m not into conspiracy theories but this was a chink in the armour for me.

If you think saying this is a little bit irresponsible of me then fair enough. I’m not breaking the 2 metre rule because I’m a stickler for rules but people will. All Governments have to preach to the lowest common denominator in society and the test sample is usually the dim or the message will be lost.

This situation isn’t really that hard though is it?….or at least it shouldn’t be. What we are being asked to do is pretty basic at present:

  • Wash your hands regularly and try not to touch your face
  • Stay home where possible – make no unecessary journeys
  • Stay at least 2 metres from people outside of your household

To be fair the Government have stuck with this but it still doesn’t get through to proportions of not only this county but also around the world. I should also say that I’m aware that these 3 simple steps won’t help everyone but the majority can help those individuals who are ill or simply old by adhering to these basics so is it really too much to ask? You’d have to be pretty selfish to not be able to do follow these three instructions for an extended period of time if it could save people from suffering or dying.

In this house we are lucky. Jen and I have always been able to work from home (rarely at the same time however) and the kids are at the middle age of not needing us to entertain them nor are they loose on the streets of London yet, they are at the mid point of teenage life where you are merely poking your head out of the family home rather than having to be reigned in.

Working from home sounds great but it truly isn’t. In recent years I spend most of my days with limited contact with work colleagues as they spend there time’out there’ but I do need an office as a focal point. Mostly working from home is a brilliant option for getting a specific, concentrated task completed but it’s no place for general work as distractions are everywhere even when you are alone.

I find that I can be working away and suddenly have an overpowering urge to fill a bird feeder or perhaps repostion the bins. Another task on my patrols is checking the cupboard to see if we have enough snacks to get us through the day and if not I may need to head out to replenish the dwindling stock of ‘Rocky’ bars. The dishwasher isn’t emptying itself and those plates in the 16 year olds bedrooms won’t magically float down the stairs so I’m all over that too. As as good citizen working from home it is only right and proper that I check that ‘Homes under the Hammer’ has started and that talent vaccum and full time prick Dominic Littlewood is still employed by the BBC with my licence fee feeding both him and the many offspring he has produced to be future employed, fucking me off on daytime TV for the rest of my life. If I don’t carry out these tasks when working from home who will? I can’t risk leaving this shit to Jen as she is far to diligent and focused.

Working for home will lose it’s novelty fairly quickly in this house as we never do it simultaneously and particularly with two teenagers mooching about chucked into the mix but I see little chance of it not continuing for some time to come as it’s the easy, safe option for maintaining some form of basic societal stability in a lockdown. All you can prove when jointly working from home is the strength of your relationship as you haven’t really spent this amount of time with your partner and kids without a swimming pool, large Gin and Tonic and a fawning waiter looking for a few Euros. If you aren’t solid as a pair it will become a nightmare pretty quick I’d imagine.

The real issue in all this upheavel is the youth of this country. I feel for the younger generation. This will harm them and especially those who, like my kids, were on the cusp of venturing out to experience life in full for the first time. That has temporarily gone and so when this is over, and it will be end, we need to unleash the freedom.

Will my life change drastically? Not really. My social life has dipped to a horrific level over the last few years with only regular outings with two of my mates taking up the bulk of it. The rest of my circle are two or three times a year meet ups at best so a lockdown aint killing me too much. I’m sure we’ll all hear the old ‘we must meet up’ sentence in the wake of this but like the rats in my garden that I’m engaged in an ongong ‘working from home’ war with, we are creatures of habit and will simply lapse back into the normal partial social isolation we had before all this started soon enough. Sadly that is the life we lead and I am no different.

So we are now all isolated in our houses, trapped with resrictions unheard of outside of a Cruise Ship. We are all now pensioners on the all inclusive cruise where you see the same people everyday for meals. The garden (if you have one) is the deck where you can take short strolls and get fresh air, you have access to unlimited entertainment at your fingertips in the form of TV channels you never knew existed or even needed. The menu is on a 7-10 day rotation (subject to availability) and the bar has nothing new as you did the lot in the first 3 days at ‘sea’. Your cabin seems smaller than when you arrived and every day you are under little pressure to do anything except hurtle toward older age. There’s no point complaining because you are the Captain of your own shipwreck if you do and mutiny is pointless as you already control the fucker from the sofa. It’s a Saga holiday for the lot of us. We are trapped on the ‘Lavender of the Seas’ with only the stench of piss and digestives to revive us from an afternoon nap.

As I write this Johnson lies in a pool of his own effluent eating pizza and toast as that is all they can get under the door of his private apartments in Downing Street. I’d imagine the chances of him being able to function without his dormatory ‘Fag’ Gove dabbing his brow with a wet flannel while dropping lightly buttered toast into his mouth are slim to none. I did see a moment of sympathy for Johnson since he tested positive with ‘minor symptons’ but to me he’s in a better place than the rest of us who mostly know nothing with regard to whether we have had it, actually have it now or might get it. He’s had the test and is now under the microscope so he won’t be allowed to suffer in self isolation to the point of requiring a ventilator before he can rock up at an over burderned A&E department. As for the fact that he can’t see his pregnant girlfriend well let’s not waste any more time worrying about that as he’s spent most of his child producing life actively avoiding both the pregnant and the beings his filthy spongle created.

Prince Charles is also in the ‘Mild Symptons’ boat and like Johnson he won’t be opening a tin of beans with a rusty nail in a confined space either. When I heard that he was self-isolating at Balmoral my initial reaction was less ‘Poor sod’ and more’ lucky fucker’. There’s plenty of space for him to walk about up there, lots of food available to shoot and a long list of expendable footman willing to risk a snotting nose for a Knighthood even if its posthumous.

Rubber lipped glove puppet Gove currently seems to be the last jub standing after Hancock also fell ill. This means that he’s possibly running the country at present because I don’t believe Dominic Raab is capable or trusted to actually wash his own hands let alone insist that others comply. Gove’s first act wearing the black hanky on his head this morning was to issue what seems to have been a threat to the nation in his customary CBBC bedtime story manner that if we aren’t all good boys and girls more stringent restrictions will follow. This probably seems like a good idea given all I’ve ranted about above but as a nation we don’t respond well to threats and so this one, from the last bloke out and up over the top of a blood and guts filled trench, seems more like a challenge. To be fair I’m fully prepared for more draconian measures but like I said I’m a trained soldier prepared to follow orders. Gove needs to be careful with this one as policing such a measure will need a robust response likely to fuel the fire.

And what of the architect of Chaos hismelf? The ‘Cunt-in-Chief’ as it were, La Grand Fromage, the Professional Agitator, the Grima Wormtoungue in this Tolkeinesque story of desolation at the hands of an unseen enemy?

Where is Dominic Cummings?

From the start of the outbreak he lurked in the shadows with all the other misfits and weirdos wielding great power with absolutely no fucking responsibility. Then he arrogantly let slip with a modern verison of the fantastic Scrooge quote to ‘reduce the surplus population’ by suggesting that money and the economy is above the deaths of a few pensioners so best we crack on with. Now he sees his Sorcerers power fading as his ‘host’, the ratty haired fop, lies stricken with the virus. Upon hearing the news that Johnson was suffering from the fatal ‘mild symptons’ Cummings was seen fleeing number 10, in a run that only the non-athletic are capable of, like the Rat he is. Gone in a flash, scuttling, slithering away to ‘Castle Huge Cranium’ hopefully with his self created ‘career’ hanging in rags.

If any individual in this current human tragedy needed a dose of reality (other than Trump) in the form of the devastating ‘mild symptons’ it would be Cummings as he needs to realise that you cannot stave off a virus like this with massive self importance and an absolutely unrelenting belief in your own huge intellect and the use of ‘mind bullets’.

We all hope that this will end sooner rather than later and that it will leave us with a better planet to live on. Perhaps a place where empathy and sympathy (not two traits in my cannon to be fair) are the new human emotions. We all want a world of caring and sharing and this moment has highlighted it like no other. Of course we’ve had wars but in wars you can instantly fight back in most circumstances. This is a war without bombs, a war without sides and so we just have to do the simple stuff and help each other until it is under some sort of control.

The tradegy is that this is unlikely to change much or at all. Even in the current situation the greed is overpowering and all the promised cash to save the country isn’t free and will need to be found later. The greedy still function just like criminals will. The news were reporting yesterday from the briliant that ventilators now cost $40,000.00 dollars each instead of $25,000.00 as there is a shortage. Imagine that? Imagine ramping that up when there is a life saving need.

In this country we have seen that people would rather throw food away knowing they had it than share it. Inevitably we will now see increased flouting with regard to the social distancing rules as the ‘Fuck this shit’ society tries to break free. Looting is a distinct possibility even if you think no one would do that at present. Crime continues regardless of the situation and in most cases it grows. Shootings are still happening and are in fact rising, Gang war stabbings still happen but only some of us are aware of that. I had this conversation a few years back with regard to the Grenfall Tower tragedy when I suggested it would be exploited by fraudsters and was met with complete outrage. Those frauds are still being uncovered and people are still going to prison for it. The scum rises to the top in these situations as the good people are preoccupied with prevention and rebuild with no extra benefit other than a sense of duty to assist.

As I said earlier this is a time to remember and although we will forget the profiteering, the personal billionaires needing bail outs, the Celebrity Chefs sacking their staff, the landlords turfing people out so they can raise the rent what we must remember the heroes of all this.

Primarily remember the NHS who have been dismantled for years by numerous Governments but now selflessly put themselves in danger for us. Remember how emotional the round of applause was in your street last week. That is heartfelt stuff from the people to the people.

Remember the battered and abused shop worker, and cleaner who gets fuck all in the wage packet for proper hard graft way beyond the capability of a soft palmed old Etonian like the now almost invisible Rees-Jub locked in the kind of filthy upper class hovel these eccentric lunatics live in when they are resposible for their own hygiene.

Remember the Police, Fire Service and Paramedics underfunded and under resourced yet still out there helping us while risking their own health. No one is immune.

These people are the Heroes.

Tough, Tough times ahead I’m afraid so do your bit…Wash you hands, Stay your distance, Avoid the unecessary for a while.

So as the isolation continues and I trundle downstairs to check on whether that talentless bald plum Dominic Littlewood is invading my viewing today I find myself in the kitchen which is like a scene from a 40’s melodrama directed by Noel Coward when life was simpler.

Jen has gone full pencils-up-the-nose’wibble’ and is doing a puzzle of an idilic English village scene and Boo is making a Lemon drizzle cake. In the garden the Rat traps are set as me and my neighbour continue to wage war on vermin content in the knowledge that at some point we may be forced to roast, boil or fry them to survive. The Boy remains within his enforced cell slowly going blind but who can blame him? He now lives in a the world vividly recreated in ‘WALL:E’ where rotund fat bodies sit in chairs with screens fixed to their eyeline as that is their only form of communication. Devices and the much maligned social media now rule the world or at least for a bit and if I stop the boy using it he suddenly has no form of communication with his own generation. That is why we need to crack this as soon as possible. The youth need their youth back as it’s gone too soon for a life of adulthood.

Anyway, enough of me, I’m a busy man. I’ll be out after dark selling powdered egg, parachute silk and Woodbines behind an abandoned Wetherspoons in Putney if you fancy it…

Onwards….

.. Two, Zero, One, Nine…

Some things could or would benefit from being shorter. The last Arctic Monkeys album (2-3 seconds would have been the optimum length) and horrific quilt invading talent vaccum Warwick Davis after a failed parachute jump are just two examples. With this in mind this effort about 2019 won’t be to my usual epic proportions as I’m pretty certain most of us just want to move on from the fuckery of the last 12 months.

2019 was an absolute shocker of a year on nearly all levels for me. It had the lot. Death, uncertainty, worry, misery, poor music, savagely shit films, gloating Tories and a football team incapable of providing anything close to what could been deemed acceptable even if you were watching them over a park on a pitch without a net.

Brexit….of course…. Brexit with a twist of General Election chucked in….

2019 was the year that the country lost its fucking mind and decide that not only did it really really want Brexit but it would also trust a massive bunch of self serving strokers to deliver it even though it’s almost certainly undeliverable from the dream they were sold. Don’t give me that old ‘Remain parties won more votes’ bollocks because I the second largest party in the country was split hence the result. Britain became a microcosm of the Good Ole United States of America where truth was irrelevant and handing power to a fuckwit who might be a ‘bit of a laugh’ was a great idea. We have become the shouty drunk in a pub as a nation. The bloke who gets barred but won’t fuck off, Lager top drinking, all year round three quarter length trouser wearing, calf tattoo sporting, ‘Peaky Blinders’ hat wearing Ponce of a country.

The Tories swept to power and Brexit will happen. It’s what the people wanted. Democracy… The filthy stench of Democracy and the words the ‘people’s decision’ has been rammed down our throats for nearly four years and has resulted in half the nation walking around with smirky faces without really understanding what is about to happen. This might sound a bit arrogant but I am yet to find a Leaver who can actually tell me how this will work or how it will be delivered. All you usually get is ‘It’s done’ and ‘we have control back’. No detail is provided and if you push for it you get told to return to the previous answers or, more simply: ‘Just. Get. Brexit. Done’.

Brilliant.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson it is, the Everyman, the common Old Etonian of this perfidious Albion, working hard for the little people, a champion of democracy and loving father to Theodore Apollo, Cassia Peaches, Milo Arthur and Lara Lettice Johnson to name a few. There are other kids but Hey!! when you’ve chucked your spongle around as much as this bloke has it’s hard to recall all the names of all the webbed toed freaks you may have sired in a hotel toilet, Top hat cupboard or wine bar cloakroom.

Mental but true. The country overwhelmingly appointed a hunchbacked, mop topped, racist, compulsive liar, ‘busting with spunk’ (his own words) serial adultery to the highgest position the country has. Perfect stuff for a soon to be reborn 1950’s United Kingdom where we will wallow in self pity and xenophobia created by the hand of bitter biggotted masses living in parts of the country devoid of diversity.

The Tories didn’t even have to try too hard this time. All that was necessary was to pile on the bullshit to a bored public and goad a limp gulible Labour Party into an election thay had no chance of winning as the hordes couldn’t see themselves having a pint with the lunatic in charge of the opposition. As usual during election campaigns in this shithole the Tories circled the wagons, hid the bigger idiots like Rees-Jub and that loathsome ponce Francois and lied their way into the hearts and minds of a dissaffected nation who lapped it up. The country fancied trusting a manifesto which only promised (in the loosest sense) to restore us to our position of 2009 over a manifesto of weapons grade bollocks which no one really believed. It’s a shame because I always wanted free broadband, free parking, free travel, the brand new set of Jim Carrey phosphorescent teeth courtesy of the NHS all at the Government’s expense but this was widely rejected in favour of professional cobblers delivered by unaffected multi millionaires with smirky punchable faces.

Outstanding.

Luckily I’m a Londoner and so over the next decade of Tory rule, because Labour will need that long to remove the Comrade who still believes he won something, I can sit back with a clear conscience with my massive wages (non London perception) drinking pints of Guinness, imported so £17.90 a pint and say ‘Told you Dimwits’ while the Northern, Eastern and Western ‘Powerhouses’ enjoy the power of the phrase being used endlessley without any promised investment being realised as no opposition exists to fight their corner. They fell for that without expecting total Tory dominance…. time to suck it up Arbuthnot because these Tories ain’t too truthful. Johnson doesn’t need you now, He don’t need the ERG, The DUP or the EDL. He has the lot in the palm of Dominic Cummings scaly reptilian hand. Let the suffering begin.

As I write this on New Years Day I note that the man leading the party I voted for remains defiantly in place and is now describing himself as ‘The Resistance’. Incredible stuff from a bloke who has not only lost two elections in a row but also presided over the biggest defeat for the people’s party in multiple decades, quite a feat really given the absolute cuntery on offer from the Tories.

The Magic Grandpa remains in place and no one really knows why. Given the scale of the defeat anyone with half a brain would have gone by now and those who remain would have reassessed the strategy without thinking they had won something or ‘won the argument’. Corbyn is a stubborn relic who hasn’t actually realised that this Country is centre-right at best and Labour’s most successful leader was really a closet Tory. This election was a catastrophic failure for Labour and so a rebuild is required and not simply a continuation with a similar unlikeable, unelectable head with limp wristed dreams of nationalisation and freebies.

It is what it is. Brexit will be delivered and we’ll just have to chow down on the shite sandwich and take it because any route to stopping it has been emphatically destroyed with a majority Government of professional destructors and a public so fucked off with talking about it that they would rather engage in national mass suicide where woodbine, powerded egg and silk stocking sellers will thrive than endure any more uncertainty.

Johnson is now indestructible. He is Thor, Captain America, Thanos and Captain Marvel in one, wrapped in inappropriate loosley fitting jogging clothes sweating, lying and fucking his way to the top. Nothing can stop him.

Sleep with a stripper with public funds and get a court injuction so no one can question it? No problem.

Hide a report of Russian interference? or course you can Son!!

Lie to the Queen? No problem (I know someone wo was genuinely convinced the Queen would personally intervene on Brexit… Imagine that..)

Go on Christmas holiday to Mustique with an entourage paid for by the public? Knock yourself out, youre in charge…who gives a fuck? No one can stop you…. Just Smirk…

Johnson, a Toff embraced by the masses because he made a Party Political broadcast where he made a cup of tea, said ‘Hi’ to a strategically placed intern from a minority group and pretended to like The Clash and a Thai Curry. Expect more thumbs up, more use of ‘folks’ and ‘Guys’ while all the while he smirks and fucks and smirks and fucks his way to a few more bob in his silk lined pocket.

Good Luck strokers this is on us ‘The People’….well, some of us. But fear not sweet Remainiacs, Johnson has offered the hand of friendship by describing us as ‘equals’ on the opening day of the new decade. ‘Equals’ eh? what a cheeky fucker. Poke it Johnson, I’m better than you….

(…got an headache now….and a slight sweat on..)

Of course all the politics was depressing and ultimately boring hence the public collapse of interest, so what was positive about this year……Hmmmm…. Tricky one..

‘Fleabag’ was truly magnificent and even though it started in 2016 I only watched it last year. It was outstanding on all levels, funny, well acted, sad, brillinatly written but strangely beyond the understanding of ‘mere men’ as I was told on more than one occasion by several women online I’ve never met. Funny is funny I’m afraid and so it transcends gender, race and religon. If a noise comes flying out of the hole under my nose I’m happy. ‘Fleabag’ is 12 of the most perfect episodes of anything I’ve ever watched and if you haven’t seen it you should.

The only other great comedy of the year was the return of Alan Partridge. It wasn’t to the previous levels overall but when Coogan portrayed an Irishman lookalike being interviewed by Partridge it amplified the genius of Coogan to God-like levels. It will become a legendary comedy moment viewed for years to come.

While I’m on the subject of the Irish there was ‘The Irishman’ with almost everyone who has ever played a gangster playing a gangster. An epic tale by Scorsese but a bit long and wordy for the popcorn eating ‘Superhero’ generation, not enough cities flattened or explosions. I’m into acting rather than whether the story is realistic or whether De Niro isn’t irish enough to be the titular character. He was superb as were all the heavyweight cast. For the uninitiated De Niro has played an Irish Mafia enforcer before in ‘Goodfellas’ when he was Jimmy Conway… No one cared then and no one should care now. He’s also partially Irish in real life on his Dad’s side. There was no need for Liam Neeson to be cast in that role as he can ‘do action and is Irish’ as was suggested to me on one occasion.

Great acting was also evident in ‘Joker’ where Joachim Phoenix appeared in every scene and must be a shoe-ing for the Oscar. A dark , disturbing film with real meaning but I’d imagine some studio will fuck it up in the future by adding a flying car or some moody geezer in a cape. These were the two best films I entertained this year so not a great year for celluloid in my view.

Disapointing seems to be the key word of the year. Very little impressed during this 12 months although that may really have only have been for me and my expectations.

My biggest dissapointment may have been the complete downfall of the Arsenal. This absolute fucking car crash started in May when we decided not to turn up for a cup final where the stakes were even greater than the trophy you could win on the night. I was almost embarrased to support the club I first saw in 1975 that night. No fight, no guts, no talent, nothing.

The cardinal rule of most sport and inparticular football is that you should never set up scared of the other side. Let them worry about you. Unfortunately we were led by a bloke so cautious he could do nothing else, and with the start of the new season he continued to dismantle any fear anyone had of us. On the final occasion I saw Brighton bully as at home to laughing from the home support. This resulted in him rightly being sacked and we now find ourselves in a limbo season where the only interesting thing is the rebuild taking place. Top value as ever and at least we had the Cricket to fall back on…

As bad as it seems for us Gooners it’s even worse across North London where Spurs sullied any respect I ever had for them by employing serial prick and money Hoover Jose Mourinho who is a manager who has acheived the impossible of being hated everywhere he’s been even though he’s successful. This could only be panic by Spurs but my God, what panic it was. It was the most angry I’ve been all year which says a lot for my dislike of this punchable little tosser. For the first month of his tenure a club as historic as Spurs was referred to as ‘Jose Mourinho’s Spurs’ by national radio…. the fucking embarrassment of that eh? Bigger than the organisation, Blimey Charlie…

Anyway he’s had a bit of an effect for the Spurs and I’d imagine he’ll win them something in the 18 months he’s there before he fancies somewhere else, slags off the chairman, picks on the players and sulks his way out the building with a large sweaty wad of cash. Remember my spurs friends, his name is forever on the board showing manager’s of your club but to be fair they have a history of grubbiness towards their own support as it’s not the first time they’ve employed a manager who used to slag them off when in charge of their rivals….shoddy business indeed but if he was good elsewhere it’s certain to work right? right?…

Clearly I don’t feel too much love for 2019. In fact I feel as much love for it as I have for all the years since 2011 which only get mid range ratings interspersed with moments of greatness and mass tragedy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect grief free years but this has been a run of proper grot and given the state of the planet it’s hard to see any real end.

Anyway ignore me, I’m just whining in a post Christmas gloom as I’ve just taken down all the fairy lights and there is now no sparkle until the Spring Springs. Luckily the post Christmas booze audit reveals 13 White, 15 Red and 5 Sparkling so I can at least spend my weekends locked in the airing cupboard with a bottle opener, a straw and a torch. Fear not regular reader the only Dry January I’m likely to experience will be under an umbrella.

All is good on my Tribe’s front. I am now no longer the tallest in the cave. The Boy has shot up and continues to grump his way through the teenage years while B keeps it real with the funny…. joy and fun are her weapons. They are both great kids who cause us no problems at present so I’ll merely be proud. Jen has now assumed total control of this house following the now infamous Bose Soundlink incident and I am now a simple ‘smasher of stuff’ and a ‘maker of tea’… I know my place and so will now only attend work, make a fool of myself and wait for the moment I can retire.

Ahhh…. retire… I can but dream but as this is my head I will…

Having broken the half century barrier this year thoughts now turn to the moment I can bin the day to day and slow down. I’m now entering the final phase of my working life and I can almost see the door to greater stuff (in about a decade). Great. But even at the low number of 50 I find it harder to get up in the morning and easier to fall asleep in front of the TV. Of course some of this is due to the annual Guinness Apocalypse I subject myself to in the name friendship and the birth of our Lord Jeebus Cripes, but the feet hurt and the joints creak and the madness has started to kick in.

The other day while at home on my own making a Spaghetti Bolognese ( I can make any Mince dish you like to an outstanding level) I was opening a tin of chopped tomatoes and said aloud, to myself ‘God this is a good tin opener’. After I said it I realised I was alone. I’m finished…..it’s wet pants and the whiff of digestives, lavender and stale piss for me…..

A new decade it is. 2020, the year of clarity, the year of ‘prosperity’, the year of Brexit and the start of many years of the Johnson and his ‘Cunts Banquet’ guffawing and smirking their way to more wealth while destroying the country. The London ‘bubble’ (9 million people is a fucking big bubble) lost to a series of bubbles in the collective national bath of well used water because we were arrogant enough to think that people couldn’t possibly fall for it…. Boomshanka!!!… they did.

Some don’t understand it, some don’t care, some changed their mind after it, some fucked over their own kids for their immediate satisfaction….whatever was done is done and it’s about time we got ready for the painful outcome because there is no opposition to this, there is just a stubborn old bloke or a cast or bland unelectables with no chance of power for a minimum of 5 years calling themselves ‘The Resistance’… It’s like a bad Star Wars saga with no ‘YEEEEHAAHHH!!!” from the most unlikely spaceship in the galaxy…

I’ll leave you with this Tweet which I stole from a mate who posted it on his Facebook… You may have seen it but it is the perfect analogy for what is to come:

“Brexit will be like when that 50 year old bloke thinks leaving his wife will open up a new world of shagging 20 year olds but instead finds himself washing his pants alone in a bedsit sink”

Now if you don’t mind I need to get back to forftifying my house with barbed wire and sharpened staves before fishing a dead dog out of a puddle that I’ve been marinating it in so I can skin it, mince it and make a Lasagne, Shepherds/Cottage pie, Chilli Con Carne, Spaghetti Bolognase or any other fucking minced meat dish you like prior to watching us close the doors on sanity as we allow Johnson ultimate control of a once respected Country.

Until the next time we meet on fully paid for private broadband….. so long as we still have power….

Onwards….

…The Face that Launched a Thousand Fists….

Before I start, I should state that I stole the title for this rant from a conversation I had with a very talented bloke from out West who used it in similar circumstances that I am just about to. It is the perfect title….Thank you Mr Kane.

This blog will be shorter than the last one as clearly that was too long as the minimal views proved. A shame as it was a good one and funnier than the past few. No matter, these are moments in time of the mind of me, an idiot, so I’m not looking for too much other than you to laugh and the odd thumbs up.

So, here we are, November 2019 on the brink in the rudderless ship filled with guffawing, over fed disaster capitalists rubbing their hands….Brexit in some form is imminent via the medium of a general election.

I’ve given up insisting this won’t happen because at some point it will whether I like it or not. I, and people like me, lost.. to be fair we will all probably lose eventually. In reality the major problem of actually leaving the EU would never be overturned as democracy must rule regardless of whether we all think the question was too binary, the people ill informed or the pass threshold too low. The vote was willingly carried out without nearly all those things being considered and us, the Remainiacs, lost. We might not like it, I mean who likes defeat? and we don’t have to accept it but defeat it was and no amount of walking around Central London pissed on Prosecco gnawing on Hummus and bread sticks will change that. Don’t get me wrong, If protesting is your bag then crack on just don’t stop me getting to work, don’t smash anything up or glue yourself to anything which I might need to use or moan at me for not doing it with you. My job fills me with an aversion to public displays of disorder but if you like it happy days…. just do it nicely and don’t moan you’re tits off if the police take you away for causing a problem. That being said if I had another chance to vote thanks to your sacrifice I’ll gladly take it as voting is essential in a democracy.

All I can do now is prepare for the grief and misery, wait for the schadenfreude to hit me between the eyes and revel in the daily humiliation and struggle of the fuckers in charge. And I will do all those things with gusto while ensuring that those dear to me are ok.

As I said this effort isn’t really about Brexit specifically as that is done, this blog is about the deceit and ineptitude of those in charge, those who want the throne and one specific individual that I have a special place in hell for.

So where shall I start? All villains need reigning in so let’s go with the so-called ‘good guys’. The ‘Opposition’.

Tragically the word ‘opposition’ doesn’t really cut it when dealing with the current Labour set up. What we have with Labour is a series of internal feuds under a broad umbrella creating an organisation of weapons grade ineptitude led by a man that the few and not the many seem to think can fix the country. The chance missed to crush a government of such arrogance and recklessness is unforgivable really. Any organised opposition would have easily swept to power by now as a proper plan would have existed to oppose rather than a mish mash of dreams and aged policies. Sadly what we have is a split party and a mindset that unless you are fully paid up member then you don’t really count. This position, laid down by some pulse eating, snowflakery called ‘Momentum’ is almost exactly the same as the one used by the Tories when installing a new Prime Minister that they vehemently oppose as ‘elitism’. The hypocrisy is cloying.

I won’t get into the anti-semitism claims as I don’t know enough about it. All I will say is that racism of any sort needs to be taken seriously and those that feel aggrieved are really the ones calling the shots. As simple example of my simple comment would be to say that if Jen tells me I have upset her it’s not for me to insist that I haven’t. She’s the one feeling it.

Labour have failed the country and just like the Tories it’s the personnel that is the problem. Labour have no one really capable of grasping the imagination of a cross section of the public required to run a country. There can’t be many people out there with any time for Diane Abbot (who fell asleep in parliament during a Brexit speech recently), Tom Watson (rightly pilloried along with the Polis for believing a fantasist), Keir Starmer (loving the sound of his own voice but not really saying a lot), John McDonnell (a Paypal purchase away from a black Balaclava at any given moment) and of course the Dear Leader Comrade Corbyn, who has been standing before the dying monster of the Tory party for at least few years with a loaded gun refusing to pull the trigger. What would Kinnock, Smith, Blair or even Brown done to Cameron, May and Fuckface Johnson? They would destroyed them on all levels. Alas, Corbyn has failed to destroy anything other than the credibility of the Labour Party with swathes of the public. The reality is that the Tory party is a bigger monster than ever due mainly to a lack of cogent opposition. The Labour experiment needs to end or we’ll have to get used to Johnson or some other hateful lying Toff and none of us want that.

The Tories have excelled in the last four years. They have carried out something we thought was impossible. They have pushed the boundaries of their own cuntery to another level. None of us thought they could pull this off but they have managed it through the individuals they have chosen, the decisions they have made and so they and they alone should be applauded as none of them are up to much.

So who is supposedly running this shit show?… and who is actually running it?

Obviously near the top but clearly not at the actual top we have Johnson….that’s ‘Johnson’ not ‘Boris’. ‘Boris’ is what he wants as it makes him sound cuddly or fun or to make him a ‘bloody good bloke’. He’s none of those things. He’s a liar, an adulterer, a bluffer, in fact he’s everything you don’t want from a person in a position of power. He lies on a daily basis and has been doing so for decades and still he lives on in comfort. He is the cockroach following the apocalypse, indestructible and thriving. You have to hand it to him, 10 years ago when this jub was flapping about on ‘Have I got News for you’ and no one would have said he would have been running the country during the most serious national crisis since the war.

Johnson exists for Johnson and has done since birth. He has no love for anything other than himself. He’s been sacked for lying twice, he has children he denies are his and when in power he has used the system to protect himself most notably recently when he took out a High Court injunction to prevent the London Assembly from establishing that he gave favours to an ex-pole dancer he was hanging out the back of. He famously wrote two articles about Remaining or Leaving the EU simply to cover himself when prior to deciding to shaft his ‘Trotters Up’ mate Dave with the one that would help him more. He is devoid of loyalty, empathy, has a history of racism and homophobia. You could say he is the perfect Tory in some way, almost built in a Lab by a Mad Thatcherite Professor called Franken-Mogg but they failed in the rigid back and pristine side parting department and gave us a squat, hump backed, ratty haired Oaf with the brain of a public schoolboy… a kinda Posh Igor.

Johnson is a highly intelligent individual crammed into an unassuming body and head he moulded himself to confuse an already confused and startingly dim public. Sadly the public have mostly fallen for it but my image of him is in line with the words of the OAP from his constituency in a vox pop from Sky News:

“…Don’t talk to me about that filthy piece of toe rag…”

…And there you have it, a toe rag but not even a whole toe rag, just a piece, a piece that will eventually be inconsequential, unnecessary and not required.

When Johnson got the big job he craved so much it was always going to be funny to see who he would employ in his cabinet. He didn’t disappoint from a comedic perspective.

Immediately rewarded was old sycophantic chum Michael Gove who slithered his way to the fantastically titled post of ‘Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’ whatever the fuck that is. I can only assume that this is a ‘thank you’ for Gove oiling the plums of Johnson for decades with his smooth face and his puffy lips like a public school ‘fag’ polishing the shoes of ‘Johnson Major’ before a ruddy good rodgering in Matron’s potting shed.

Gove is the classic lame, limp wristed Tory made manifest. He has no real views of his own and leeches off more senior members with frantic nodding from the shadows. He has the ‘successful’ right wing journalist wife who regularly straps up to dominate him in the bedroom and he has a history of low level ‘I only did it to look cool’ substance abuse however judging by the ticks and twitches in the chamber those days may not be over. Gove is a small prick in a room of top end porn meat. He barely counts but might fluff up a few strokers ego’s from time to time.

There would always be a place at the top table for Rees-Mogg mainly because he is a privilege aristo with a deep hate of us Proles. However the place he got was largely ceremonial and on the face of it seems to involve simply reading out the agenda for the following days parliament. I’m sure the tosser was expecting something better than that but even this two-bob job gets the full Rees-Jub treatment with down the nose looks and long latin filled answers quoting academics, fabled parliamentarians and authors in order to deflect from the fact that he can’t provide real information as he doesn’t have the correct cabinet level of security.

There’s really only so far you can go blagging your way through life on the back of convenient upperclass Christian values where coitus is delivered in perfunctory manner with not even an accidental arse slap or jokey ‘Yeehaw!!’. At some point the stick up your arse will snap and most likely at the point where some working class bod gives you the bad news through the medium of the C-Bomb delivered from a white van or scooter. It’s at this point that you realise you maybe a lightly buttered crumpet away from a revolution where you are standing by a wall in a collarless shirt , braces exposed with your hair askew and your spectacles cracked.

Rees-Mogg is a bluffer relying heavily on status and the gravitas afforded to him through wearing his dead old man’s suits which in the true tight fisted upper class fashion have been past down through the generations complete with the DNA of a thousand knickerless kitchen staff. The truth is that when this country gets back on something approaching an even keel the Rees-Mogg’s and his rigid like will be rowed out of the positions that matter as they offer little in the way of realism.

Then we have a raft of individuals who know they would never have made it as far as a TV screen in roles normally considered reserved for ‘Government Spokesperson’ had it not been for a dearth even slightly more intelligent politicians. All of these individuals seem to have been manufactured in the same Tory lab as Johnson which struggled to obtain any more fresh brains and so had to use the slower ones.

Raab and Hancock, who could be related, have that 1000 yard stare that soldiers get when they’ve seen ‘too much shit’ or that tilted head look that a Spaniel gives you when it doesn’t understand what you mean by ‘Don’t shit on the sofa’. Thicker that turds in a bottle the pair of them and flip floppy with it proving once and for all that all politicians ain’t really in it for the people they are really only in it for themselves (yeah, yeah… I know you know this).

The thunderingly stupid are in healthy numbers in this Government. Liz Truss cruises around with the vacant look of someone who can’t quite believe she is employed let alone in a position of power and that scouse lunatic Esther McVey only still exists as an available bit of tot for a PM who clearly doesn’t own a mirror and so sees himself irresistible to a certain type of female.

Then there are the faux ‘hard men’ in the form of Andrew Bridgen and the combustible Mark Francois, two blokes who look like they were moulded from the same heap. These two are never seen in the same room together leading me to believe they are the same fused together hate ball. Francois in particular is a special type of tosser with the endlessly mentioned Territorial Army background but with the inevitable ‘flat feet’ excuse tucked in the back pocket should his mess hall services be required in ‘theatre’. These two are the ‘strongarm’ of the Tories with lots of common room level threats never to be actioned and the ability to make even the most mild mannered member of the public want to enter their fighting arcs.

At the top of the pyramid of stupidity we have Savid ‘The Hood’ Javid and the utterly delightful Priti Patel.

I’ve done Javid before so I’ll leave him this time and as he’s worked in finance and was an accountant you could argue that even though he’s a slimy ‘talk about myself in the third person’ plum he has some right in being Chancellor. He could probably do some adding up and be capable of lifting that red briefcase so in this shower of shit he’s as close to as shoe-in as you can get.

Priti is a whole different ball game. What qualifications does she have to take on the crucial Role as Home Secretary?

Her career started as an intern in the Conservative Party. She followed this up with a career in Public relations, always the mark of a person with a degree of moral flexibility. She then went to work for ‘Diageo’ the company responsible for Guinness before becoming an MP a mere 9 years ago. Now, as Home secretary she sits on the front bench with that fantastic Tory smirk developed for all occasions whether appropriate or not talking tough on crime, a subject so complex she can’t possibly comprehend. The closest Priti has come to the Polis is when she worked for the makers of Guinness which is the fuel all Polis need to do the tough job very few (and fewer under Tory rule) people want to do.

To hear Priti talk about the Polis is a thing to behold. The shite spouted in the name of manifesto pledges is truly sickening. For the Tory party to claim that they are the party of law and order is an absolute abomination given that they have removed 21,000 police and 30,000 associated staff in the last 10 years. Now we are to believe that 20,000 ‘extra’ police will be recruited , well you don’t need to be a mathematician to work this out.

A little known fact is that every month the Metropolitan Police lose over 200 police officers through natural wasted. These officers aren’t replaced and given that the Met have been promised only 1600 of the 20,000 ‘new’ officers this year they are still under resourced massively regardless of the cobblers dished out to fool the public and won’t even cover the amount retiring, resigning or leaving to go to other forces.

The Tories are great at big words prior to elections and it’s all delivered with the classic Tory smirk of which Priti Patel is now the world champion. The smirk has been deployed liberally in the last three and a half years most noticeable by professional dimwit David Davis who clearly wakes up with it fully deployed. Priti now attempts to use it to ooze weapons grade smugness although like Davis before her it could be that she is masking the fact that she is way out of her depth. The liar Johnson also deploys the smirk, unfortunately for him it is delivered moments before he lets rip with another porky as he has no control over it. The smirk is the key to a career in Conservatism and is no doubt smashed into them at University in conjunction with a dormitory pummelling.

Finally we come to the architect of the chaos of the last 4 years, The Master of the Dark Arts, the big cheese, the one and only face that launched a thousand fists, Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, the unelected professional agitator Dominic McKenzie Cummings.

To understand the rat Cummings you need to understand the sad tale of Tom McCarthy . This name probably doesn’t mean a lot to you personally but we’ve all met a ‘Tom McCarthy’ in our time. In this case he was at my school in the early to mid 1980’s.

Tom was an aloof cocky chap who was fairly active in the early years in school. He messed about, he played football, he was a fairly nondescript as we all were between the ages of 11 and 15 as we were just kids. Then when we got to 16 things changed where Tom reinvented himself as a ‘man of mystery’.

At 16 you start to branch out a bit and you break free from the shackles of parents. You become obsessed with the opposite sex, of course you may have had a ‘girlfriend’ at that point but it wasn’t particularly the norm so we were all out there frothing at the mouth.

At 16 you get the true freedom, the parties start, the social events with the dancing and cheap cider begin and you start to notice everything, the world slows and everything becomes clearer and noticeable. Being out with your own generation was the thing to do.

But not for Tom.

We’d all go to Parties or gatherings and get wasted on Strongbow or Grolsch, snog a few unsuspecting yet willing participants from the local girls school and end up in some kind of altercation resulting in some of us (* looks accusingly towards a Palace in South London) getting the snot smashed out of us. Tom was never there for most of that as Tom had been reborn differently. Tom needed mystery and impact. Tom wanted to appear from the shadows like a Lord or illusion.

Tom was a cock.

You’d leave these events in the arms of each other or if you were lucky something acceptable of the opposite sex and you’d stumble laughing around a potholed municipal car park where out of the corner of your eye you’d see a face illuminated by a freshly lit Silk Cut. In a fug of smoke Tom would appear all nonchalant and moody.

“..Hi…” he’d say in that cheeky chirpy David Essex kinda way which usually hides insecurity…

“…Hello Tom. Where have you been?”

“… (long moody pause followed by extended drag of cigarette)….Around…” the standard response…

“..Around where? Around the carpark? Nothing happens in the carpark Tom, all the action is in the party. Or do you mean round your Mum’s? Nothing happening around there mate except cups of tea and a Kimberley with a smattering of overzealous Catholicism. It’s all happening at the party and you’ve missed it again you twat..”.

Basically Tom had escaped the crazy Irish lockdown from his parents and so could only turn up once they had prayed themselves out and collapsed unconscious in a puddle of communion wine and Jesus biscuits. Prior to that he was incarcerated like ‘Carrie’, locked behind a door while his captors prayed to save his soul from eternal damnation at the hands of ‘K’ Cider and Catholic schoolgirls dripping in Rive Gauche. All he could use then was ‘the cool’.

But Tom wasn’t cool. Tom wasn’t mysterious. Tom was a cock, a cock who created an ‘I don’t give a shit’ persona of fake cool.

The problem was that at 16 or 17 ‘mystery’ just weren’t cutting it with a horde of violent, over sexed North London drunk schoolboys as they would simply tell you to shut the fuck up.

And so Tom went back into the shadows forever. I think he’s a Priest now or perhaps in prison….or something…. fuck it, I don’t know what he’s doing but I’m sure it’s nearly really ‘cool’..

Cummings is Tom. Not only is he also a massive bellend but he’s also an insecure wispy haired Rat-fink who has created a cloak of mystery to hide his own failings and problems. He’s a deflector on a grand scale.

You can tell he’s an insecure person by his clothing which tries desperately to be ‘anti establishment’ but fails miserably as we all know he’s taking a salary from a Tory government which instantly makes you ‘elite’. Cummings is ‘shabby chic’ in human form with the baggy unbuttoned shirt, the walking boots over the trousers and the carrier bag with his deadly plans within.

Cummings likes to think he’s a tough guy. He only allows himself to be interviewed on the move by panting reporters walking and talking with the Tory smirk activated. He doesn’t answer questions but instead resorts to insulting the quality of the reporting or lack of knowledge before him while quoting ‘the will of the people’ or ‘Get Brexit Done’ which is as helpful as saying you build a nuclear reactor by simply building a nuclear reactor. It’s a soundbite from a bloke who won’t be about to actually do the job, a man who can point a lot, find a loophole, chuck his weight about and shout but ultimately won’t be ‘hands on’ with the process. Not his problem just like the leave vote wasn’t his problem it was ‘the will of the people’ a will triggered by misinformation delivered and dreamt up by his massive cranium and sucked up by a gullible public.

Cummings is a modern day Rasputin. A well trodden cliche maybe but an appropriate one. He’s a conjurer and hypnotist where disinformation and trickery are King and due to the lack or any real strategy or strategist within this shambles of a government, Cummings finds himself pulling the strings of the bluffers and charlatans and like all Puppet masters he will slink off at some point to write a memoir. All this current Tory shite is from the head of Cummings. Even Johnson doesn’t have the hateful wit for these levels of fuckery. Johnson is the affable Oaf banging at the door with the Battle Axe wheras Cummings is the Grima Wormtongue whispering in the earhole telling you to smother your kids to maintain power at all costs. He is the whispering death of this country.

I had a boss like Cummings a few years back. Moody arrogant fucker who loved his position and told you who was in charge on a daily basis even though he wasn’t particularly good . When he retired after all the years of nasty and snide and lost rags he had a poorly attended leaving do and seemed shocked that the love wasn’t flowing. He now sits looking at a dusty phone that doesn’t ring convinced he was a great bloke who did the right thing and we, the people, were wrong.

This will be Cummings. He will be the same arrogant angry agitator in retirement that he is now. Some people are born nasty, some people like grief, some people love division and are hate filled and that is Cummings and it is all delivered with the Tory Smirk of a Great White Shark. Cummings appears joyless, a man happy to brood and plot, a man always looking for the chink in the armour, looking to exploit any weakness he can find. At the end he will be a man remembered for division and covert action to disrupt. Funnily enough he’d probably get on very well with my Old Man.

What Cummings actually needs is a 16 year old aggressive lapsed catholic drunk schoolboy to tell him to shut the fuck up, it could save him… or break him. I suppose it’s too much to ask that a cabinet minister might do it as they all appear frightened of him. Absolutely tragic.

So Cummings appears to have won and there has been little that any of us could have done about it because essentially our view is irrelevant unless it ultimately goes bent or fits in with the agenda of the party in power at the time. The public seem to be a small inconvenience to the Tories unless it’s possible to blame us. The Conservative Party General election tagline should read: “You are either with us or you are beneath us”. At least I’d respect the honesty if they went with it.

So where does this leave us, the people. Well, it leaves us nowhere. We have no leaders to admire we only have the arrogant, the indecisive or the unelectable.

The Tories are bred for power and aggressively crave it which should by default should exclude you from ever acquiring it.

Labour have fucked up with their experiment which will not gain the mass audience necessary. The Corbyn’s of the world have long existed in the party and get to air their view but it has little mass appeal in its undiluted form hence the lack of proper left wing Labour Governments over the years. The country doesn’t want it.

The Lib Dems have delusions of grandeur mainly because the other two parties are so inept. In some ways, who can blame them for thinking they can fill the void it’s just they are the Magic FM of parties, they are the beige slacks with the wet penny to the front. The Lib Dems are merely a reflection of most of their leaders, bland, normal, dull and unelectable.

As I write this we are moments away from the official start of a General Election Campaign triggered, ultimately, by Cummings and his quest for a no-deal Brexit. That is what the Tories want as proven by the continual position or the ERG and the trap door in the withdrawal agreement put forward to parliament and agreed by the EU.

If they win, and I suppose they must be favourites due to the lack of political firepower within the opposition as a whole, they can fix whatever agenda they like, and they will. They will push ahead with the ‘clean break’ they always really wanted one way or another and this was made clear today when they reiterated recently that there will be no extension to the transition period to leave.

No agreement, No extension, No deal. Happy days in the Shires where bloody British blokes, drink bloody British tea and dance around a maypole to the strains of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ while lamenting the loss of the Robertson’s Golliwog and a new series of ‘Till death do us part’ as the fruit and vegetables rot in their fields unpicked by the cheap European labour they haven’t realised they rely on yet.

So we have a final chance to kill off the Tories and probably Brexit if necessary. The only way to do that is to get out and vote. Don’t be one of those lazy strokers who says it doesn’t matter and then spends the next 5 years complaining that it’s all wrong. Vote for what you like but make sure you vote.

If you want the Tories out remember the lies and vote them out. I’m not suggesting for a minute that any of the other party leaders don’t lie because they do. All politicians lie as it’s in the job description but I’m certain there is more humanity and less bullshit within the others. Whatever I think of Corbyn strangely I believe he’s sincere. He’s spent long enough on the fringes not playing the centre left game to be believed but it’s just not for me and a lot of other Labour voters.

But the Tories lie to an industrial level and are devoid of the basic human emotions. Just remember the lies when one knocks on the door this year. Remember the lies and insults about Grenfell, the lies about Police numbers not being relevant to violent crime, the lies about the NHS, the lies about immigration, the lies about affordable housing, the lies about the welfare state and the lies about education. Remember that the Tories exist purely for the Tories and not the people.

Remember who benefits from a ‘No deal’ Brexit because it won’t be us unless you’ve gambled big on it. Remember the trap door in the Withdrawal Agreement that they tried to stop being scrutinised by closing down parliament. Remember Dominic Cummings an unelected paid advisor pulling the strings while saying ‘Get Brexit Done’ but providing no information on how. Remember Francois telling us the country will explode is we don’t leave nearly a week ago, oddly nothing has exploded. Remember Rees-Jubb reclining in contempt in the Houses of Parliament and Remember the use of the word ‘Humbug’ in reposte to a legitimate question about the safety of MP’s.

Remember that if we will be so much better off with a no deal exit why have we spent three and a half years trying to negotiate anything at all? The constant use of the phrase ‘will of the people’ is all a Tory bluff to make money for themselves. If it goes wrong for the country then us, the people, will be blamed as 17.4 million demanded leave and all they did was act on it in the name of democracy.

Finally remember Johnson, the serial liar who will sell this country down the river for personal fame and gain. Think of the NHS in the hands of Trump or any American President as that is really the only market they want here. Johnson will bend over and take the full length for a deal with the US as he’s willing to cut out our biggest global marketplace to do it.

So remember. Remember the Tory smirk Johnson has perfected. The smirk that the Queen saw, that his wife saw, that his girlfriend saw, that Jennifer Accuri saw over her shoulder, that the London Assembly saw and that a million bored to tears TV journalists see on a regular basis.

Remember the wasted money at the hands of one MP. Remember the £100m lost on advertising the exit date of Halloween because he would rather ‘die in a ditch’ than extend a deal he ultimately extended. Remember the Garden Bridge, a loss of £53m, remember the £300,000 loss on water cannons the even the police refused to use for ethical reasons, remember the ‘Boris Bus’ which lost £3.6m in fare evasion and a further £300m in costs after it was recalled for having no air conditioning. Remember the £24m cable car that no one uses, or the £230m of public money used to ensure that West Ham United can rent a stadium. Remember the lost Police Stations and Fire stations either closed and sold to private developers or closed to ensure the police didn’t have to make staff redundant. All this under one man in one city. A liar who cannot even be trusted by Nigel Farage (the undisputed King of Bollocks) and remember he was sacked twice by the Associated Press who lie for a living. Remember the man who disowned the children he illegitimately sired, a man whose own brother resigned on him and who his own sister denounced.

What does this tell you? Funny? No? Untrustworthy and of low moral standing? Yes…..

Just remember, we have to continue, we have to work on….he don’t. This is a game to him and at some point he’ll drift off happy and content that he ticked all his life boxes. Don’t let him do that.

So when you trudge out once more, this time in the cold, covered in tinsel and stinking of Baileys to place your ‘X’ ensure you whack it smack bang in the middle of anything other than one marked ‘Conservative’ as you will be doing the vast majority of this country a favour.

We have another go here, try not to fuck it up this time.

Onwards.

..The Undoing of a Dad: Welsh Wales (part two)..

…ahh…. sorry for the delay. Part Two of the Welsh trip requires some history to kick us off…

The first time I went to Wales was in the early 90’s on what became a ‘drinking odyssey’ with ‘Our man in Hong Kong’. He, of course, went to University in Lampeter a small place filled with ‘characters’ wheras I went to work like a fucking dog for the Post Office but after he finished we returned to vist the lovely Miss Jones (Our women in Hong Kong) who was still studying there.

We left London late afternoon and arrived just too late to use any bars on the campus so it was straight to the halls and the chaos that brought. With a future Hong Kong bound married couple off doing what normal people would do if they hadn’t seen each other for a while I was put in a room occupied by a man called ‘Dick’.

‘Dick’, as I later found out, was a big old unit and a bit of a posh boy. His bedroom consisted of a homemade four poster bed where the posts were made from purloined ‘Carpetright’ carpet spools, a poorly photocopied coat of arms signifying poshness and class and an 8″ Tarantula (dead) splayed out in a glass case. Upon arrival I found he had written me a lovely ‘Welcome Dear Boy’ note explaining the room rules including that I was on the floor and not the bed and that as he was off somewhere on the piss I should simply make myself at home. As I lay there awake waiting for the arrival of ‘Dick’ and the almost certain buggering at his Crevat Tweed Jacketed hands I prepared myself for the next day where I would be thrust into possibly drinking myself to death with OMIHK and a load of isolated students.

I woke the next morning to find ‘Dick’ asleep on his four poster fully clothed and snoring the snore of a monumentally pissed toff student. I checked myself and found that all my undergarments were in a state of non deshevelment and so concluded that not only had no buggering taken place but no interaction at all and so ‘Dick’ would live another day. I got up, tipped my hat to my Landlord, who I would undoubtedly meet later, showered and left the room….

…And then we went on the lash for 16 hours…

It was a fraught day, absolutely pissing down and cold but I was taken to an assortment of venues including one which was simply a house turned into a makeshift pub where you could sit in the living room with the old man who owned it. Throughout the day I was warned by OMIHK that under no circumstances at all should I interact with any local as I would probably die on ‘Magic Mountain’ where mouthy cockneys were mostly sacrificed to some kind of sheep faced God.

All was well on the drinking and silence front until I found myself in two awkward scenarios ultimately of OMIHK’s own making. I was blameless mostly because of the amount Brains SA floating my brain.

Firstly, if you don’t want someone as mouthy and annoying as me interacting with the locals don’t take me into a local Chinese take away and sit me next to a Welsh Mountain man in the belief that I won’t say “..Alright mate?… what you ‘avin’?…. we’re ‘avin’ noodles….”. The man of the Mountain looked at me with so much hate that I didn’t notice being hastily removed from the venue by OMIHK with two boxes of noodles.

Secondly, if you are trying to avoid confrontation in a Welsh University Union bar don’t stick the mouthy cockney who has never been to the University or played for the University Rugby team or any Rugby team in the University Rugby team shirt and more specifically one with ’69’ on the back which was obtained nefariously. I was a Welsh lamb to the slaughter albeit a willing ‘lets see who will get the arsehole Bun’ lamb who was pissed up on booze….

My appearance was spotted almost instantly in that bar as the shirt was not only not supposed to be on me but was bumble bee colours and style with a joke number on the back. Within seconds I knew it was a mistake but being me knew I couldn’t or more precisley wouldn’t change it.

….And then it spotted me….

‘G for George’ was it’s name. Big lump, big head, big back…. Loose head prop type. He sees me and comes directly at me with the raving hump. As luck would have it back in those days I was all in when it came to stranger based confrontation and seeking out unknown threat so we went nose to nose and forehead to forehead (literally) for a good 20 minutes with him describing me as a ‘prick’ (probably fair) and me pushing the boundaries of cockney herberty with multiple drops of the C-Bomb prefixed with ‘Listen You…’ whch as you all know is the Londoners go-to phrase when trying to grab the attention of partucularly difficult individuals. At the end of this macho cobblers we hugged, shared a beer and no one either died or backed down. Classic 90’s…no knives were used, just words and bold promises of violence that would probably never happen… halcyon days.

The night went on and although the memories are fewer I do recall OMIHK having an altercation with some stroker which led to him disapearing at some point only to return covered in blood. This brought out my protective ‘brothers in arms’ speech where I suggested that we hunt the fucker down and batter him as an example to the whole Uni for fucking with ‘us’ the Londoners. As it turned out the ‘blood’ was mud and OMIHK had simply fall down a mud bank while arguing with another bloke. Oddly OMIHK seems to have been punched a lot over the years and only once in my company so it can’t be wholly my fault that difficult situations happened in my fighting arc. I can only assume there is jealously with regard to his popularirty whereas my punchability is due to the hole directly below my nose.

We finished the night in some kind of drunken Uni Halls commune where ‘Dick’ held court with tales of overseas adventures shooting Tigers (not true). He turned out to be a lovely, soppy bloke who wasn’t buggering anyone let alone me particularly given the state I was in. My last memory of this top weekend was passing out in a communual toliet where I was saved by a passing Florence Nightingale who alerted Miss Jones to my predicament. I still recall Miss Jones saying ‘Get your mate out of that toilet’ and the look of disgust on the assembled crowds faces as OMIHK poured me into a sleeping bag on the floor of the House that Dick built and not a moment too soon as things were about to get proper ugly in that kharzi… proper ugly.

And so that was my first experience of Wales, almost Welshman free. The second and only other time I’ve actually been here was subject to a previous blog called ‘The Devil Rides out’ where OMIHK, the Spaniard and I went mountain biking till our arses bled and stayed in a hotel which doubled as the headquarters of the Monster Raving Looney Party which only served ring splitting curry and Bontempi based soft Rock.

My only other direct interaction with the Welsh en masse was during an early morning stand-off in a Dublin B&B when a group on the same stag weekend we were attending thought it would be funny to burst into our room and let off some fire extinguishers. We remained motionless in order to wipe out any joy they had in an overreaction on our part. As the dust settled and the embarrassing silence decame defeaning OMIHK simply said ‘Fuck off Bellends’ in a croaky hungover voice and the Welsh invasion was over in a flash with a backwards retreat and a quietly closed door.

Cockney filth 1, Welsh Mountain Men 0.

These previous Welsh visits and interactions were drunken raids or scurmishes as opposed to this full blown occupation I am now in the middle of.

This holiday was designed to be action packed. A couple years back we went to Portugal to a fantastic apartment owned by one of my associates on a luxury complex and although Jen and I are more than happy to sleep, read, listen to music and sink Gin by the pool the kids were fairly bored. A family decision was taken and it was decided that less pool and beach holidays would be taken in favour of activity based stuff. Cornwall was the testing ground last year and Wales was the where we went all ‘Launch Warm Puppy’ but little did I know that I would end up in a competion with my 15 year old son that would result in my continuing humilation at his hands.

There are many things to do in Wales. Zip wires, surfing, walking, climbing, cycling but we mostly went with speed in the form of Quads, karting and the absolutely trememdous Rigid Inflatable boat trip (we did Kayaking also but I’ll come to that later).

We started with karting as the Boy is aware that he will have a massive weight advantage due to his pre booze body and my Guinness moulded body. We head off to an indoor karting track in what turns out to be the only period of sustained rain we get in two weeks in Wales. I say ‘rain’ but I actually mean ‘sky flood’ as it is off the scale and not only coming down at pace but also sideways. Proper Shipwreck rain this, fucking awful. We pile out the car in apocalyptic scenes and get drenched in the 10 yard run to the venue which is an old aircraft hanger turned into a race track.

It’s ramshackle within and the air is heavy with two-stroke. We pay for two 25 lap races and brilliantly they keep you in your own groups rather than making it a free for all so it will only be the four of us on the track. Our two races are sandwiched between another group so it gives us a chance of a debrief between. However before ‘the off’ we have to attend a safety lecture and get kitted up. This was the beginning of my downfall…. this was the death of any mystique I held in the Boy’s head.

We get taken to a room filled with what are effectively racing jumpsuits in a variety of sizes. I’m keen to stick one of these on as Eddie Van Halen wore one on a tour in the 1980’s and I’ve never experienced the joy of a ‘onsey’ and so see it as an opportunity to boost my lack of sartorial elegance. The bloke in charge (a dashing young herbert with tattooed sleeves) dishes out the clothing and we all squeeze into them…. except me. For some reason I am handed a ‘medium’ and given the amount of Guinness I have consumed anyone with half a brain would know that this is a doomed dressing. I get the legs in. Snug but I’m guessing that is correct due to the aerodynamics required when karting. I get an arm in. The other arm flaps free like that bit of extra skin that hangs from a pre roasted chicken’s arse. There appears to be no way this arm is entering its slot due to the lack of blood flow caused by the tightness surrounding my other three limbs. Undeterred by this I force the dead appendage into it’s hole and look down to find that the velcro that would normally join the two sides of the suit in the middle are a good 5 inches apart and unlikely to meet even if I left it on and gave up drinking for the next year.

I look around and am confronted by not only my own tribe in a state of shock but also that of the tattooed herbert. I see a mirror and turn to it. My God ..I’m an odder shape than normal in this getup. The tightness of the chest has forced my arms to be thrust backwards like a strutting Mick Jagger Circa 1976. This thrusting has made my neck protrude and with the addition of skin tight legs I’m suddenly Max Wall with a bit more hair or Danny DeVito as Oswald ‘The Penguin’ Cobblepot, absolutely ludicrous.

And then the laughing started….and not only from my people but from tattooed fuckwit also. Proper laughing, big belly laughs (see what I did there?) like I’ve never seen since I met and created these three. In a fit of pique I attempted to release myself from this jumpsuit straightjacket only for it to become some kind of fire retardant Boa Constrictor trapping me further. There is no hope, I have to ask tattoos to assist me in my escape. With my arms pointing backwards I gesture for him to pull at the cuffs as I force my bulk in the other direction in the hope that I will burst free like a butterfly from a pupae. After a few efforts out I slide to become a heap on the floor and not a moment too soon as my tribe were close to death due to a lack of oxygen brought on by excessive laughing at my misfortune…. as usual.

After they sort themselves out and I am crowbarred into a larger garment we head towards the track. The boy knows he’s won already as I am a dishevelled, sweaty wreck of a man with a multi kilo weight handicap so I’m basically using these 25 laps as a training run to smash the snot out of him in the second 25 lap face-off. I’m last out of the pit no doubt as I’m considered then most handicapped in our group.

I’m behind my daughter Boo, who has never been the most action packed individual. Boo’s skills are more cerebral and humourous and so she tentatively creeps out and all I can see is the boy disapearing around the first bend like Lewis Hamilton’s long lost son. It’s over before it has begun and I’m not even out of the pits due to a child, swiftly being written out of the will, not moving quick enough.

I finally hit the track and am soon around Boo in a torrent of muffled swear words and in seconds and am on the hunt for the Boy. There’s no sign of him other than as a blur in my peripheral vision on other parts of the track and now I’m stuck behind Jen who, I’d imagine, will under no circumstances assist me in this chase. True to form she blocks me out for 2 laps and then ‘closes the door’ as I head up her inside channel (Pnarr!!) sending me crashing into a barrier. She would rather die in a karting fireball than allow me any form of victory over her and so I come to a stop and as I raise my hand for assistance I see the boy go past in another blur with laughing eyes visible in his visor…. Animal….He’s done me..

For the remainder of this race I effectively race myself using Boo as a lap marker of how quick I am going. She is driving around as if she is sight-seeing or shopping or delivering a nitroglycerine cargo over a rickerty rope bridge with a sweaty Roy Scheider who’s on the run from the filth as co-pilot (film bufftastic). In fact she’s going so slow that I’m stunned the kart hasn’t ground to a halt due to the lack of engine turnover. In true Boo style though she won’t let a lack of speed stop her having a great time and as we pass her multiple times on every occasion she smiles and waves us through in a kinda ‘Wagons Roll!!’ way…. A true comedian..

The race ends with me thinking of revenge only. The boy has battered us all and he is revelling in the glory. We retreat to the cafe area in all our gear and wait for the next race and the whole time the Boy sits impassive with the helmet on like a freshly born Baby Stig. I, of course, remove my helmet and gloves and resemble a badly drawn Worzel Gummidge such is the shit state of my hair and my cardiac red face given 20 minutes wearing a helmet… I am a shell of a man and he knows it.

Race 2 starts well for me. I’m out the trap early in a staggered start and only have to negotiate Boo who appears to be looking for a parking space in a shopping centre car park. I speed past her acknowledging her wave and smile (almost a joyous ‘Helloooo!!’) and I’m away bombing down the straight with clear road. Behind me the Boy is embrolied in a battle with his mother which could end in filicide / matricide at any moment. I can’t see this yet as I’m eating up seconds but I can hear it and it’s getting closer to me due to the extra weight I’m carrying …. Damn these beautiful beautiful legs, they have always held me back.

Within a lap they are on me like a pisshead on a Biriani but at this stage I’m capable of holding them off with metaphorical poppadoms and ‘sundries’ in the form of superior legitimate blocking moves. This rear guard action goes on for two laps until I take the first corner after the straight really tight with a late break which forces Jen wide (Pnarr!! Pnarr!!) , shaking her off the racing line, but ends with the boy ramming me full tilt up the arse with such force that I let out an involuntary shreik of terror thankfully not audible enough for the him to hear. As I do a 360 spin I see him pass me with those visibly laughing eyes again and the raised fist of victory and I know under that helmet he is doing that ridiculous Andy Murray ‘C’mon!!’ roar that we used to see at Wimbledon usually about 8 minutes prior to another heroic defeat…. Animal… He’s done me again.

He disappears out of sight and I see the gaunt figure of the ‘Marshall’ hold a hand made sign with ‘No Bumping’ on it that the Boy politely and apologetically holds his hand up to…. Too late now fucker my authority in my own house is hanging by a thread and now you bring out the sign!!

After being dragged from a barrier for the second time I simply trundle around sulking for the rest of the race. Why me? why would you treat me this way oh King of Kings? I’m a decent bloke, I’ve never been nicked, I’ve never killed anyone or stolen anything…. why?…. why can’t you just let me have a few more years of admiration from the boy instead of the imminent derisory glances and rolled eyes across the potato waffles, sausages and beans. There is no God but there will be another race track on this holiday regardless of whether I have on this occasion been crushed to dust at the hands of a 15 year old.

After the abomination of karting (part 1) it’s time to face my greatest fear that doesn’t have 8 legs. The Sea. Conquer the sea and I can crush him ( Just so you are aware I neither conquer or crush anything on this holiday).

My problem with the the sea, all seas, any sea, is that I find it terrifying, big, wet and moving. In particular I hate dark water where I cannot see the bottom and so assume everything not visible is plotting to tear me to pieces. Sharks, Squid, Whales, Octopods, Fish, Crabs, lobsters, Jellyfish, Tuna, Herring, Gurnard, all killers, proven killers wanting my succulent flesh and bones to sustain their dominance over 80% of the planet and fuel their fanatical lust for control of the remaining 20% we cling to. When you are scared of the sea you generally stay the fuck away from it as death is assured as the beasts within can smell the fear, taste the fear, they crave THE FEAR.

It’s not a secret in this tribe that I hate the big blue, they all know it and particularly Jen who has always known it and so with this knowledge at the forefront of her mind she books a 90 minute ride on a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) around Cardigan Bay followed by, a few days later, a two and half hour Kayaking trip taking in the glory of Fishguard Harbour where I will almost certainly be killed in spectacular fashion by an awoken Kraken. The RIB has more appeal to me (it’s all relative) as I’ll be in a boat driven by an expert, a salty sea dog if you will whereas the Kayak will be controlled by a novice, a land lover, an idiot….me.

We arrive at a random dock and I see the my orange coffin being refuelled with death juice by a dashing sailor type with flowing grey hair and a beard. His co-pilot is an older squat bloke in full seafaring garb. His face oozes ‘crag’ and he’s probably only about 38 but the sea is a cruel mistress and I’d imagine he’s been in a grapple with a Sea Cow or two. As I approach my ride still clutching the Kings Shilling I notice that the wind has picked up and the sea is what we call in maritine parlance: ‘Fucking choppy’. It is without doubt over for me.

I reluctantly head towards the RIB and engage with the co-pilot who turns out to be a lovely old bloke who seems in total control meaning that I relax slightly. He suggests that those a bit worried or with small children should take the seats to the rear of the boat where the ‘bouncing’ (WTF?) is less stringent. I head towards the rear pushing babies and those in wheelchairs out of my way and the Boy heads towards the front. This triggers my inner hero / competetive Dad to respond by heading to the front with a nonchalant walk and chirpy smirk which fools most. The boy knows the score though and revels in my inner pain but at least he has the good grace to not tell the rest of the boat that I am a fraud. After a very brief safety talk which basically involved explaining to us to ‘hang on tight’ and the co-pilot’s explaining that my request for a harpoon would not be honoured we head off out to sea.

The waves are high and we get told to expect a rough ride, which isn’t always a bad thing but in this case shits the life out of me. Initially I was happy as we appeared to simply be bobbing up and down while slowly moving forward. The lack of death suddenly makes me believe that I am a cross between James Cracknell (dashing, strong, powerful) and Captain Bligh (stoic, principled, a master navigator and the only proper sailor I can name) and this sea lark is in fact a piece of piss….

….And then the twin engines kicked in……

In a massive roar of power I am thrust backwards on my bench as we bounce over waves much to the Boy’s joy and we plough forward over what seem like Tsunami height stuff which is in fact about 3 feet high. I’m clinging on for dear life convinced that at any moment I will be hurled from the boat into the open mouth of a breaching Great White. This continues for the next 90 minutes interspersed with periods of calm where we visit a cave or see the nostrils of a seal which is clearly just a scout to see where I am prior to the attack.

We finally stop for a more prolonged period to view some Dolphins, the police of the sea, leap from the water which makes the whole trip worthwhile but I am dubious of the co-pilot’s insistence that we all stand up for a better view as this is clearly a ploy to sacrifice one of us (me) to the filth of the deep thus ensuring he is untouched for another few thousand trips at £30 a punter.

After the joy of the Dolphins we head back to port at top speed on a fairly flat sea. This is the buzz, this is what makes it worth it. It doesn’t matter if my knuckle bones have split through the skin such it the intensity of my grip this is flat out ‘Top Gear’ bleached jeans, tweed jacket, casual racism, ‘give us back our borders’, torque differential blah blah blah speed and it was fantastic. I loved it and looked at the Boy as a loving father to share the thrill and he was looking at his phone and not holding on at all. Animal…. He’s done me again…..again…

We dock and I alight wobbly legged, exhilarated and crucually still alive. I ask the boy if he enjoyed it and I received the now customary expression used for anything from a mediocre hamburger to a £150m lottery win:

“..it was alright…”.

Wasting my time and hard earned cash.

Our next battle doesn’t come at sea but instead at a farm where the most humourless man alive rents us four Quad bikes at an eye watering piss taking price meaning we can spend 30 minutes racing around a dirt track. I see this as a bit of a opportuinity to regain the power as I’m aware that the Boy has never ridden one, the fact that I’ve never ridden one doesn’t even enter my mind but I’m assuming age will see me dominate him thus enabling me to take the power back.

After kitting up in some old shite and getting yet another safety briefing in this nuts Health & Safety country (no idea how I survived the 70’s and 80’s) we have to do a trial lap around a smaller track to prove that we will not kill ourselves or anyone else. We all do this with ease although Boo still appears to be out for a Sunday drive with a 100 year old brittle boned old lady holding tea in a china cup with saucer as a passenger.

I’m out on the track first and so bomb off giving it everything on this thing which is essentially a farm vehicle and create what I believe to be clear track between me and the Boy. I’m having a right old laugh on this thing as it has the same qualities as the RIB (speed and bouncability) without the clear and present threat of a giant squids beak or the bone crushing jaws or the Moray eel. There is no sign of the boy even out of the peripherals so I’m basking in imminent glory…. this is it… I wouldn’t care now if I saw his twisted wreckage embedded in a tree as I’m pissed on Dad power….I’M BACK BABY!!!!

….There is no wreckage… there is no sign of him.

And then, from nowhere I hear it… ‘Toot!! Toot!!…. Toot!! Toot!!’.

Unfuckingbelievable.

He’s all over me, right up my exhaust and he’s not only revving the thing to death but he has also discovered that his machine has a comedy horn and he’s using it to get me out of the way. My humiliation is absolute but I’m not giving in, this is a narrow track and he can’t get by unless……unless…. He gets by….. Unlike me, who is adhereing to the safety briefing like some relic from a bygone age, he has gone ‘off-road’ past me in a plume of dust and laughing.

For the remainder of my quality Quad time I am tormented by this human size bumble bee buzzing around me. He takes great pleasure in overtaking me multiple times even allowing me to overtake him so he can do it again. At one point he was in such command of the situation that he could have driven around me as I was moving forward. Animal… Done again….again…again…

I arrive back at the shed to deliver back the Quad and am met by the utterly humourless beige jub in charge. The silence between us is deafening as he is incapable of conversation without putting the recipient out cold so I strike up a bit of petrol head bants with the two-stroker.

“..Thanks..” says I as I gesture towards my ride, ” That was great fun, I must get one of these”, He pauses and eyes the machine. “Yes….They are great fun…. If you haven’t done it before…”

Brilliant. Killed the fun stone dead. No point ever doing it again. Cheers.

My only real chance of redemption lies in kayaking and as I has now conquered the sea I am right up for it so we head to Fishguard Bay where we meet ‘Kayak King’ which appears to be a student collective featuring a fresh faced sporty type, a no beard hipster in a crocodile skin cowboy hat and a rather big Scouse lump who looks like he’d be quite handy in a pub punch-up. We, and 14 other people gather around the ‘Kayak King’ van and for some reason Crocodile Dundee thinks its a good idea that us, the paying public, introduce ourselves to each other in that way they make everyone do on a shit training day in a bland room optimistically called a ‘suite’ in a low budget hotel. After getting to know Emma and Josh, Dipak and Chandra, Pete and Malcolm and many other people I have little or no interest in getting to know they dish out the kit and once again I have to squeeze my egg shaped body into some kind of unflattering costume for the kids amusement and to get in it I have to disrobe in a fucking carpark. After some heavy duty family assistance with the closing of a zip testing the limits of zip technology I am ready to go. Wet Suit, woman repellent hybrid insulated fleece, windproof jacket, lifejacket and gore-tex cap. I look like a sea mine.

I waddle towards the water and Iget into my Kayak which I am sharing with Boo who isn’t old enough for her own. I assure her that I am an expert and there is no possibility of her falling in. She’s nervous but I’m in full control…. full control at this point.

We head out to sea and as expected I am dominating the ocean and it’s many creatures. The RIB ride has seen me cast aside any fears I had and I am now effectively Aquaman without the charisma and body of Jason Mamoa. I am ripping a path through the water like a speed boat and Boo is occasionally assisting me but there’s no sign of either Jen or the Boy. Outstandingly they are struggling as their mastery of the paddle is two-bob…. the worm has turned….John Doe has the upper hand and I’m loving it. The Boy has very poor technique with the paddle whereas I am like a master with a deep plunge and pull giving me the perfect balance between efficiency and power. This is marvellous stuff and I continue to school him for the next half an hour and he ain’t liking it much but he has to take it or become Captain Bligh ( I repeat: the only proper sailor I know) in the next hour.

The guides take us around a few caves and coves and it’s great to see them and some more seal nostrils even it we are all soaking wet as it’s pissing down.

And then it happened.

This ‘Master of the Seas’ shit comes at a price and inevitably cockyness kicked in and I suddenly find that a brief miscalculation in navigation has left me, Boo and the Kayak heading straigth towards a clump of rocks which has appeared out of nowhere directly in our path. “BRACE!! BRACE!!” I shout a split second before impact and Boo is forced to laugh and scream at the same time. The next thing we know we are teetering on the rock like Moses and the Ark once the rains subsided. Boo is starting to panic at this point but I, Aquaman, believe I can get us out of this with some shifts in body weight which will simply deliver us back into the sea.

….I was wrong….

As I move the second time the Kayak shifts to the right and continues to shift to the right until both I, Boo and my horrifically my phone are submerged in the Irish sea. The only thing I promised her was that she wouldn’t get wet and now here she is, completely wet. We flap about in the water with an upturned Kayak and Boo looks a bit distressed but I have other issues way beyond saving my daughter as my phone is now exposed to sea water. I assess the situation with the speed of the SAS moments before stormimg a building and come to the swift conclusion that she knew the risks when entering a Kayak with an idiot like me, she’s wearing a life jacket and can swim whereas my phone is an innocent party to my fuckery and needs saving. Sure Boo is flapping about in a panic – who wouldn’t but she has arms and legs and can think. The phone needs me… the phone is helpless… the phone is the priority…. I can make another kid if necessary it’s fucking easy but I ain’t spending my few pennies on another phone…. God No!!

Once the phone is secure I assist Boo. She’s not happy but she’ll understand in time. The priority now is getting her back in the boat and at least start the long slow road of apology. But wait a moment…. up rocks the grinning brother who is wearing then face of a a kayaker who is not wet, a kayaker who is in control… The Boy looks down on us in the water and slightly shakes his head in disapointment that I have embarrased then family in front of stangers. He’s not wrong, the other participants on the trip look at me like I’m the worst parent in the world. Fuck them, Boo is okay and more importantly I reckon the phone will be fine.

In a fug of embarrasment (I mean, who takes a phone on a kayak?) I take up my place at the back of the group for the remainder of the trip. I’m sulking , large, and the Boy is now ahead of me riding the Kayak like a paddle board to almost total applause from the awe struck instructors and the public around us who have ventured out in boats. Any second now he’ll be doing that ‘Karate Kid’ Praying Mantis shit and my life will be over… Once more…Animal… He’s done me….again…. again…again…. and he didn’t even have to try that hard.

On our way back to port I start explaining to Boo that we are the adventures in the family. We are the ones who have faced death in the Irish sea and stared into the eye of the ‘Sharknado’, we are the two who may have grappled with ‘The Meg’ not the other two… they have simply played by the rules.

“We are like Indiana Jones and Short Round Boo…” says I, “…Crocket and Tubbs, Bodie and Doyle, Brodie and Hooper, Jack Sparrow and….”

“..Ant and Dec?” she interupts killing this attempted bonding session quicker than a Tiger shark gnawing on a baby turtle.

We agree that we will talk about this for years to come and limp back to a car park/changing room where I will burst free like a gas bloated beached Humpback from my neoprene prison next to an Ice Cream van where the proprietor eats a Chicken and Mushroom Pot Noodle…. A sadder holiday sight has rarely been seen as if trapped in an Ice Cream van in the rain it should always be a Beef and Tomato Pot Noodle and a can of Lilt.

My last opportunity to maintain any sort of gravitas in the eyes of a 15 year old comes at an outdoor, tarmac Go-Karting track at an in decline Country Fayre. It has come to this…. this shit. Once more I find myself in a shipping container squeezing my well fed frame into a boiler suit meant for a much younger and more attractive person. This raggedy affair has another velcro strip down the front and as it’s snug standing up it will inevitably pop open as soon as my arse hits the seat of the Kart like time lapse oven footage of an overfilled Souffle.

Again I’ve this race before it starts as due to the boy being under 16 it means I must ride in an underpowered junior Cart instead of a big beast. It’s over. I take up my seat in the feeble junior cart and as predicted my body decides to exit the straining velcro and I don’t even care… I’m broken, let’s get this over and done with.

I’m out on the track and part of me just wants to get the kart up to it’s maximum speed and just smash into the barrier in a ball of flame and smoke for the only glory available to me. Then we’ll see…. YOU’LL ALL SEE!!! I will merely be a memory… a clown… a family clown…. they sicken me…

I did alright beating everyone but the Boy and was suitably depressed by the speed limiter slowing me down further on the straight. Of course the Boy had no such issues and he passed me multiple times in a flash of speed and a perfectly fitted racing suit and speed demon arepdynamic helmet as opposed to my massive giant ping pong ball cracked visor shithousery wedged on my swead.

All this should have been expected of course. He’s 15, fresh, agile, young and perfect and I’m 50, broken, scarred, finished, leaky and leaden. My time will come with the Boy and with Boo and it won’t be through being ‘competetive Dad’ beating him in some kind of pointless competition. My job is to be there during the tough shit, the first heartbreak, the University years, the first punch-up and the inevitable ‘I’m invincible’ hangovers. These will be the proper experiences where I can assist and none of them require me to don skin tight garments to get a point across. There is still hope…

All hail the young!!!…We should only be advisors to the young and not dictators. And to us, the old, bring on the Soylent Green machine and the Tena suber absorbant pants for Men who can’t make it through the night.

Now it’s all very well me telling tales of my endless humiliation on these family trips at the hand of various organisms I have come across but what does it tell you about my time in Wales. The simple answer is it tells you fuck all but at least you may have laughed at my expense which is really the only point here.

I was very sad when the Welsh trip ended as it was everything I want from a holiday. I’ve sat on beaches or by pools and visited ruins aplenty both in Britain and abroad but holidays and in fact all days should really be about laughing and in particular laughing with the people you love. In Wales there was a lot of laughing and if it meant I was the catalyst for it then so be it. Laughing is the key to everything and if you cant allow yourself to be laughed at you may as well give up.

Everytime I holiday in the United Kingdom I gauge a place by a simple criteria: Would I want to live here? Well I could live in Wales and particularly Newport in Pembrokeshire (see the distinction there) which is a beautiful little town with enough things to do to keep you happy in a retirement scenario. It has some lovely places to eat and nearly all the pubs are welcoming. The Royal Oak wasn’t welcoming, The Royal Oak was a blip…

I did point out the problem with The Royal Oak to Jen in advance of us walking through the door as a illuminated sign above it read ‘Merry Christmas’ in August. True to form she ignored my advice even though this one concerned my specialities: Public Houses and the specifics of the festive period. In we pop on the orders of Jen and are imeadiately greeted with a scene of carnage that Heironymous Bosch would have been proud of.

There are kids running around out of control, there is screaming by a bunch of ‘randoms’ in the corner and a queue at the bar, well at the smaller of the two bars but crucially the one I am at. The bigger bar is half empty but full of locals being tended to by a young, giggly, buxom barmaid while we get two surly fuckers ignoring us and an aged and toothless old crone tapping her watch and telling two other punters that it’s her ‘knocking off time’ and so although behind the bar she aint serving no one never ever…

Jen insisted we come here so I sit back at a sticky table and let her deal with it which in this case appears to be indicating that we leave after 10 minutes has passed without given these fuckers a copper coin.

The Royal Oak is the absolute exception in Newport as all the other venues are excellent with great food atmospheres and friendly locals within them. Everyone else I meet is polite and you feel instantly welcome whether you be in the local Welsh Speaking pub for live sport, the butchers and gift shops or the Artisan Pizzeria serving a Leek and local cheese Pizza called ‘Land of my Fathers’ and local Ales in comedy bottles. The Golden Lion Pub has top facilities and would be great in summer and winter. The food there was lovely with the Pork and Chirzio Burger being a work of art and the Guinness perfectly pulled.

It was in the Golden Lion that I witnessed an older gentleman sneeze 17 times in a row during his dinner. At around the 10th ‘splat’ the kids fell to bits in that uncontrollable laugh where every next supressed giggle puts to you a moment closer to wetting yourself. Boo was begging for mercy at the 15th and by the time the old codger hit 17 even Jen had collapsed in a heap. There was no panic from the old girl he was with so I can only assume it’s a pre dinner Welsh ritual I was previously unaware of or she was eyeing up an insurance claim and told him that his Marie Rose Prawn Cocktail contained no Shellfish.

Everywhere we went in this part of Wales was the same. The people were Lovely and the scenery spectacular and on a par or better that anything I’ve seen around the country or in Ireland. The view from the Carningli Mountain overlooking the town was breathtaking and worth the trip alone and we were the only four people up there. I can’t believe that I never considered a coming to Wales before for a prolonged period but I’m certain I will return. Top stuff.

This is what I was looking for in a holiday, Peace and tranquility mixed with laughing, drinking and eating good food with my tribe. I don’t need the heat and I don’t need to sleep by a pool all day listening to music and drinking cocktails but apparently we are doing exactly that next year in Greece as I have absolutely no fucking control whatsoever.

So I would happily retire to somehwere like Newport once I’m done with London…however as Samuel Johnson said….

More adventure to come in ‘the big smoke’ I feel, well at least for another decade….

As you were.

Land of some Fathers: Welsh Wales (part one)

In the early noughties I worked with a very lazy man. He was a solid old lump with a bald head and a fairly large capacity for Ale. My God he was lazy. I remember one instance where the office was in a state of chaos due to the work that was in progress and I looked across to see him spinning on his chair, dangling his legs like a small child while smiling inanely. Standard stuff from him….Lazy fucker. Eventually he was moved out of the team and the last I heard he was in disgrace after being caught in what he thought was a locked, windowless office crashing one out over a Gentleman’s periodical he had acquired during the course of his enquiries. An appropriate exit for a lazy wanker (B-Boom)..

He was a Welshman.

I’ve always like the Welsh. They are passionate, seem like a lot of fun and Patriotic. Patriotism is a dirty word if you consider yourself an Englishman. It’s almost not allowed because the flag and what goes with it have been hijacked by racists and upper class arseholes with a colonialist mindset. Farage and that other oxygen thief Yaxley-Lennon spring to mind. A couple of self serving fuckers one of whom is married to a German and wanted a German passport and the other the son of Irish Immigrants who begged for US citizenship when he was scared to face the music after breaking the law. Outstanding patriotism there lads, Well. Done. I love the the Welsh for their patriotism as I love the Englishman who can be, the Irishman who will be and the Scotsman who is. (You may notice I said ‘man’ there… don’t get all het up about it snowflake, I’m just making a point, I’m fully aware that the female of the species is equally as patriotic or not).

Unfortunately English patriotism appears to be flexible. On St Patricks Day the streets of London are awash with Englishmen tentatively sipping Guinness they clearly don’t like in an attempt to harness the toenail of irishness they believe they have but at the same time most couldn’t tell you when St Georges Day is. We are a selfish mongrel, mercenary nation never more evident following the Brexit vote when staunch ‘leavers’ who want ‘change’ and ‘closed borders, and ‘less control from faceless bueracrats in Europe’ want Irish passports to ease their travel habits….. pathetic. You chose it…. fucking live with it…

Anyway, that is for another time.

So here I am. Welsh Wales.

I arrived a week ago and am having a great time. This year we managed to leave London early. This is always the plan but rarely happens as my tribe move slow even when I am ready to go. They are Sloths….and why not, It’s not a dictatorship.

We packed up the car and headed off and after one stop for some motorway ‘food’ we arrived in the quiet little village of Newport in Pembrokeshire. That’s Newport in Pembrokeshire and not the other one which I believe isn’t like this in any way but more akin to a drunken war zone or a never ending travellers wedding. This Newport is a bit ‘tickerty-plop, how’s ya cock’ with an Art gallery selling low level watercolours from local artists for £250 a go.

Holidays to me are simply about relaxation and fun and so I’m happy to go anywhere that these two things might happen. They are a time to switch off completely and if it coincides with new experiences then great but I’m happy to just chill the fuck out, soak up the locale and watch the people that I don’t normally see. I’ve never been one for seeing the sunrise over Macchu Picchu or swimming with dolphins or any of that ‘bucket list’ professional tourist shite, it’s just not my bag. If it’s yours happy days and if my holiday coincides with any event then so be it but I’m here for the sleep, the wine and the relaxation. I’m easy, I’m a whore to the lazy and it’s why I’m happy just to be out of London even if it means grey skies, wind and the odd bout or biblical rain.

We arrive in Newport early afternoon and even on an initial drive through I know I will like it. It has three pubs (all gritty) and at least four decent looking places to eat. It’s also a 5 minute walk from the beach although you don’t really come to Wales in my view to lie on a beach in the hope of a tan. From what I’ve seen Wales is a visual experience and a fantastic one at that.

The place we are staying in for the fortnight is tough to find, isolated, in the shadow of the mountain (well… big hill). It’s so hard to find that I am forced to leave the safety of a London registered vehicle and move on foot in unknown territory towards what I think might be the place. It’s not the place and after a rigid moment where a large dog runs towards me at pace I approach my first local with my nice face on which isn’t particularly nice but it will have to do.

‘Hello Local Woman’ says I, ‘I am your new King…please assist me in finding ‘Madoc Twy Bryn’, which is a local building of these parts…. Capeesh?’ (I’m paraphrasing here). I’m met with what can only be described as a ‘who the fuck is this prrick?’ pause ( I can’t emphasise the rolling ‘r’ enough here people) and so after some forced smiling on my part the lank haired farmer’s wife spews out a few words providing me with a glimpse of some random railings reminicent of a burned down fence. She points towards the lane I have come from says ‘Green Dumper’ and ‘House’ and basically expects me to fuck off in that direction which I do after a low bow of thanks…

I head down the lane and spot a green farm vehicle (presumably the ‘dumper’) followed by two outstanding stone buildings. This could be the place.

All of a sudden, from the left, an old man enters my fighting arc with his hand extended in what could be some form of Welsh Martial art… I need to act quick… heel of palm to base of hooter driving nose bone through brain or simply a handshake?…Jesus, this is a test. I go for the handshake and meet a lovely old bloke called ‘Alun’ and skulking behind a Rhododendrom bush is his soft spoken slighlty vacant wife ‘Eileen’ who is all wide eyes and maniacal smile. We vigourously shake hands in a British Isle face off and he asks me a few non threatening questions like where are we from and how was the journey…. standard operating procedure.

After these pleasantries we all enter our holiday rental which he explains is his childhood home which is a sweet factoid enhancing the old property more. Its a lovely place as expected. Jen always finds these pearlers due to extensive research but this one is pretty much bang on. In fact it is better than the website portrayed it mainly because these lovely old bods have taken the wrong photos. There’s loads of room to all hide from each other and although a bit twee (it is a welsh fishermans cottage owned by two old people) the new extension seems to be the place to chill out.

The boy interupts my tour of the property by showing me his wi-fi signal ‘Three bars in every room’ he grunts and walks away showing me three fingers explaning the power of the neet… Great… that’s the end of him. I wish the boy a great holiday and continue with the old man who is showing me how a house works.

“Now, If you get cold see”, he says “You need to turn the dial on this box in the hallway”. It’s the thermostat you fruitloop…. We hug. The old man directs Jen towards Nutty Eileen who until this moment could have been an animatronic wax work with a partially broken internal speaker.

“My wife will show you all the ladies things to do…. off you go”. Jen stiffens as if preparing to unleash a tirade or a light pummelling to his brittle bones but swiftly changes her mind in the interest of international relations and heads off with the mumbler towards a utility room where women ‘do the washing’. (Fear not ladies, I’ve been doing the washing since we got here… I’m from London and realise that if I were to talk to Jen like that I wouldn’t be nearly dead I’d be very actually dead).

I grill the old man on the local amenities and specifically the pubs within stumbling range of the building. He is positve but adds the caveat ‘London prices mind’. I assure him that’s not a problem as that is all I am used to. He moves to leave but Crazy Eileen is writing down places for us to visit with the kids. She writes the words ‘Doll Museum’ and Jen and I look at each other as we know the boy, who has few fears, is fucking terrified of wax works and dolls. This first appeared in a comical Wax works in Devon years back when he had a nervous breakdown at the sight of a model Yeti and then a particularly horific Dale Winton and continues to this day. There will be no visit to the Doll Museum unless they want it burnt down in the night.

Alun and Eileen take their leave and hand over a lovely welcoming Welsh Barm Brack with a large sticker on it stating ‘NOT GLUTEN FREE’ which leaves me only my fake alergy to nuts to use when suing them for their house should I collapse after one fruity bite. After they leave I do my usual snoop around to see if I can work how everything works or doesn’t work (I had to fix the TV) and then we head out into the wastelands in search of food.

Jen is always prepared. Wherever we go she knows what is there and tragically she knows where an Aldi is. Jen is Adli pissed and will always go to one if she can find one. The only annoying thing to her about Aldi is the lack of ‘proper butter’. There is no Lurpak there is only Norpak and she don’t do Norpak. It matters not one jot whether we don’t like ‘Jive’ bars (the paupers Twix), or whether the kids hate ‘Nutoka’ (Nutella), ‘Teddy Bear faces’ (Pom Bear crisps) or that I don’t want ‘Ouixo’ gravy granuals with me Sausage and mash, we are going to fuckin Aldi. If we didn’t have a years supply or quality tea in the house at any single moment we would only ever shop at Aldi. I’ve hated Aldi since I saw two Albanians fighting over a particulary nice Cucumber in one last Christmas as if it were some kind of magical food. I’m also irritated by the famous ‘random aisle of dreams’ where you can get a torch-cum-melon peeler and a 90 psi Air compressor for the same price. Aldi is like Del Boys lock up…. with food.

We trapse around like men (or women…gawd) on death row occasionally being allowed to add something to the overly full trolley like a Stawberry ‘Sky’ yoghurt or Reinbacher Pilsner until we reach the checkout with the ludicrously long conveyor belt straight from the Generation Game and the stupid small packing area. It is here that we have our first interaction with a random local. ‘Jill’ is on checkout three and she is chucking out the questions at the same velocity as a polis with a murderer on the rack.

We get the usual ‘strangers on the plot’ questions that you get everywhere which we deal with politely. I’m always wary of saying I’m from London as it’s usually met with a sharp intake of breath as if you have escaped from some hell that you forced to live in which is a complete fallacy as we all know where the tunnels are and can leave at any moment in the night.

All was going smoothly until I was asked if I was staying in a caravan or camping. What a fuckin Rotter. There is little chance of me camping or caravaning, I mean it has happened and I have hated it, but there is absolutely no chance of Jen entertaining it unless trees have power points and I find the acusation quite offensive given the ton of food she has scanned through. Not sure what kind of tent or caravan could house this lot. When I go on holiday I want comfort and not a damp grassy floor or a chipboard seat covered in sponge and some kind of chintz. Fuck it, I’m a snob and proud of it.

We avoid an Aldi massacre by politely explaining that we have a cottage rather than a strip of nylon or a rickerty plastic trailer reeking of damp and we make our way towards the exit and then towards a stone dwelling with a bath.

The next day after a lazy night in soaking up our new surroundings we head out to have a look about. We end up in Tenby which everyone tells me is fantastic.

Tenby is fantastic.

Let me rephrase that, Tenby looks fantastic with a beach any country would be proud of. It is a majestic expanse of sand and would look even more stunning on a brighter day. When you arrive in Tenby you have plenty of opportunity to see it and the town as you spend the first hour driving around in circles looking for somewhere to park. Your only hope appears to be if someone dies and the normal civic process has been completed then you might, just might, get the slot vacated by the deceased’s vehicle once it is removed by the authorities and before all the circling drivers swoop on it like an outtake from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’.

The time it took to find a space created ludicrous levels of expectation as to what delights were before us. Unfortunately when you get down to the nitty gritty there is nothing particularly outstanding about Tenby other than the beach itself. The usual seaside lumps are legion as well as mobility scooters where there owners are crowbarred into the tiny seats. Dogs play a large part in Tenby as do poor tattoos, toothless grins and pubs filled with cooking lager drinking goons moaning that it is £2.80 a pint and the WKD Blue isn’t cold enough. It’s all standard seaside town fayre so no one should be too shocked least of all me who has spent years in Hastings where no amount of hipster Gin or Vodka bars will eliminate the smell of piss and Lambrini from ‘bottle alley’. Most seaside towns are rough due to the nature of the punter passing through them so Tenby is no better or worse than any.

As I walk around Tenby with my pisstakers eyeballs logging down all the Orcs and trolls in my view I spot a proper munter. A squat ugly beast comes into view with ham hock calfs protruding from holiday shorts with a heavy brow, miserable face and a bad attitude. It is ‘Gimli’ made flesh but without a beard and the Axe…. rotten.

It’s me reflecred in a shop window.

Good Grief I’m ugly, I really gone to seed but in fairness I’ve never seen athletically proportioned and ooze ‘battering ram’ rather than ‘precision instument’. I really must sort myself out this Autumn. Who the fuck am I to take the piss out of anyone? well I’m all you’ve got so I will continue until some other savage rocks up.

After lunch in Tenby (inevitably some form of meat in bread) we return to base camp. As the football is on I use it as an excuse to try out the local boozer and so the boy and I head off to a local Welsh speaking hostelry to hopefully watch Chelsea get smashed to bits.

The local is very local both in distance from our accomodation and for quality of its custom. From the moment we walk in it is clear that we are not local and that England had won the Rugby earlier in the day. Tricky one. The bar area is filled with big old lumps in rugby shirts but I normally intimidating scenarios as a challenge and so tell the boy to find a suitable seat and I go straight to a small gap at the bar where I whip out a £20 note to suprised looks and the odd gasp.

I’ve already been warned of ‘London Prices’ by old man Alun but I’m guessing £20 should cover the Guinness and a pint of diet Coke and Ice unless they want some kind of John Rambo from ‘First Blood’ fallout in this small town. As I wait for the drinks to be delivered and prior to me handing over the readies I lapse into dreamy state where I imagine a ‘Heddlu de Cymru’ face off with me holed up in the gift shop with a load of hostages screaming ‘You shouldn’t have charged me £6.50 for the G man!!… you are taking the piss!! …This isn’t Camden!!!..” before I click the detonator and Newport (in Pembrokeshire) rises skyward and becomes merely a smoking bunker littered with body parts, charred leeks and half baked Welsh Cakes falling from the sky.. (cue sad outro music and poignant voice over).

‘That’ll be £5.60 please love’ says a very polite lady barkeep behind the ramp. ‘£5.60?’ says I, ‘…And a pint of diet Coke with Ice..’ I add. ‘No, No…’ she says, ‘That included the Coke’. Blimey Charlie, If Alun thinks this is London prices then I suggest he never attempts to rent anywhere in the Islington area, or even use a Pret-A-Manger for a swift Bang Bang Chicken Wrap. I later find that this pub sells decent Guinness for £3.60 a pint which is both better than any London Wetherspoons and also a London price albeit one from about 2001.

The boy and I settle in for the footy quite close to a table of very large, well pissed people speaking Welsh. It was evident early doors to me upon entering this establishment that I was one of the only punters in attendance to which the consonant isn’t an alien concept. I can’t include the boy in this as for the last 18 months he has adopted the speaking cabability of a caveman when is public with me and so simply resorts to the odd grunt, nod and tick indicating understanding in case I embarrass him in front of people he not only doesn’t know but will most likely never see again. Teenagers…What do you do eh? That’s right… you actively go out of your way to embarass them in order to snap them out of this bollocks.

I put the bargain bucket Guinness to my lips and one of the larger lumps catches my eye. This is it, I can smell my own death.

‘Are you Man United Butty?’ he asks.

Now in normal circumstances I would have seen this as some kind of challenge to both my intelligence and my manhood. It is the classic North London precursor to a roll around but there is both a size and violence gap here in our abilities so I merely adopt a comic disgsusted look and repsond with ‘No, The Arsenal’ (never just ‘Arsenal’… if you know, you know). This knocks him back, and he relays this information to the table in Welsh. After a brief pause they all start talking furously in a language akin to Charlie Brown’s teacher where I can only make out the word ‘Arsenal’ or ‘Arsehole’. There is no more local interaction today and so the boy and I simply revel in Chelsea getting smashed by a sub standard Man United.

We always take the first week of a holiday easy. I like to gauge the lay of the land if I’m in the UK, abroad it is less of an issue as you tend to just sit on a beach or by a pool. In the UK you are forced to find things to do as the weather can be a joke and no one ever really holidays here for a fortnight on a beach unless they are insane. The initial plan was to go to Snowdonia for the day to do some stuff but that was scuppered early doors when realising the vastness of the country so Snowdonia will have to be a trip for another year as a six hour round trip seemed excessive and I didn’t fancy the extra expense of more overnight accomodation. So the first week to us is to experience all the little stuff, the quick stuff and to work out where we are and what we would like to do more of in the second week.

When we arrived old man Alun warned us that we would find it hard to get out of the town on Market day due to the ‘crowds’ so we’d either have to get out early or leave town later in the afternoon. This sounds promising, a local market a stones throw from our humble cottage packed with local produce and trinkets we can inflict of friends when we return. Outstanding work.

We wait for market day with baited breath and I insist to Jen that we must get there early to soak up the majesty of cheese and pies and local beers. This will be like ‘River Cottage’ where you nod at all the locals and try huge samples of humanly killed lambs and buy chickens complete with head and feet at £25 a pop. You don’t care because it’s for the them….the locals…. the common sod of this sacred turf..’The Others’. I’m dreaming of creamy Welsh fudge (not a euphemism) and perhaps the odd ‘Lamb Oggie’ sold in a brown paper bag tied up with string or even a jar of honey made from individually named bees.

We turn the corner into ‘Market Street’, outstandingly named so me, London filth, can find it without shouting ‘Oi!! mate!! Where’s the fucking market?’ from the window or moving car to a local, and there it is….

Four stalls and a bloke playing Supermarket checkout CD traditional Jazz on a saxaphone.

Undaunted, but with a face that says ‘You cheeky fuckers’ we stride through the ‘Market’ where we walk passed other similarly confused tourists who can only say ‘Why?’ to any face willing to listen and within 90 seconds I am sitting back in the cottage being consoled by the kids. ‘They only had one cheese on sale’ I explain to bemused kids and someone had the audacity to approach me and ask if I fancied attending a Panto, a fucking Panto in August. ‘…I’d love to..’ I replied to the mug with the flyer ‘..If it were Christmas and I was 8 years old and stupid and drunk and blind and deaf…’ The effrontery was staggering.

Whilst still in market trauma Jen suggests that we go to another local pub for a quiet beer. This is Jen code telling me that I won’t be having more than two pints but after the panto incident I’m not sure I could sink more than a couple anyway. We pop out without the kids for a strategic chat at a pub which doubles as a hotel. It is possibly the tidiest pub I’ve ever seen almost spotless but strangely it doesn’t feel clinical and still manages to give off a cosy homely feel.

The pub has a covered garden and as it is a sunny day Jen and I head towards it with half a cider and a Guinness. There are only one other couple in the garden and I can see a couple of high end mountain bikes parked up next to them so they have clearly stopped off for a sniffter en route.

Jen and I sit down for a kid free chat when my ears are assaulted by a scratchy quality audio coming from the male mountain bikers phone. For some reason this plum has decided that the women he is with needs to watch a full episode of ‘Blackadder’ in a tranquil pub garden in the middle of the day on his phone. She’s watching it but she either doesn’t understand it or doesn’t find it funny. All I can see due to her sunglasses is a confused furrowed brow as she pretends to watch it while he pisses himself and says ‘…so funny…look…look..” while explaining to her the humour which as we all know is the point that you need to stop, pick up your bike and fuck off as you have made an arse of yourself. Fear not mate, we’ve all done it. Just go home, back a bag, change your name and move town so you never cross her path again because when she tells people about this it will be over for you in Newport.

I can sense the bike lady checking out the exits she’ll bomburst to once she’s slashed his tires after the video has thankfully finished. She’s already got this down as a disaster only fit for anecdotal purposes regardless of the quality of his £3,000 bike. There will be no family bike rides with the kids sired from this weirdo as this Cycling date hasn’t quite worked out to that level. She is clearly a bicycle pump downward stroke away from telling this knobber that the date is over and he needs to return to Mummy and his favourite sock sharpish but I’ll never witness that moment as Jen drags me away just as I’m drooling in anticipation of his humiliation.

Suffice to say, week one was fantastic and contrary to most weather reports we saw little rain due to the microclimate effect but it is a tad cool so no one has needed sun cream.

We end the week in a local eatery which served up something called ‘Tapas and Tunes’. Now I know what you are thinking, ‘Welsh Tapas’. Does this mean a bowl of leeks, a small piping hot glass of Brains Skull-Attack, a single lamb nose in a spicy sauce? Will it be like the infamous ‘Scottish Meze’ I was introduced to about 12 years ago in a pub in Westminster? I should probably explain this….

One winter night while drinking heavily with some colleagues in a Westminster boozer one of our associates went to the bar and returned with some nibbles in the form of Crisps (3 packets of assorted flavours), Nuts (salted and dry roasted), a bag of Pork Scratchings and three sachets of Ketchup and cheap mayonaise. He proceeded to open and splay the crisp packets on the bar before mixing the crisps themselves together. He then liberally scattered the nuts throughout the crisps and topped it off with a mound of scratchings before drizzling Ketchup and Mayonnaise all over the platter before us….

After a moment of silence and a fair amount of awe he stood back and said ‘Viola!!…A Scottish Meze…Bon Appe-fuckin-tit…’.

He was confronted with dumbstruck faces for a good 15 seconds before we all pissed ourselves and tucked in. It was the best bar snack I’ve ever had and I’ve had Oysters looking over the Atlantic in Galway. Perfection in that gallon of Guinness moment…. outstanding.

There is nothing ‘Meze’ about a Scottish Meze and there is nothing ‘ Tapas’ about ‘Tapas and Tunes’ unless you think naming a bowl of potatoes in tomato sauce constitutes ‘Patatas Bravas’ because you like to think you run a Tapas bar. The food was about as Spanish as a Marbella based cockney villian applying for a Spanish passport as it eases his travel concerns (never forget). Just because you stick it in a small bowl it don’t make it Tapas, its just random food in a small bowl. Also if you call a starter of finger food ‘The pickings’ there’s a good chance people might find it offensive or just not very edible. Thicker than shit in a bottle (Thank you Mr Franklin).

The tunes were provided by two overly nourished blokes on guitars serving up more cheese that the Tapas ‘Cheese cake’ in the form of Magic FM heavy ballads where the assembled punters are expected to join in. Yep, as you suspected this was right up my street and so I would threaten the kids with over exuberant involvement while never intending to get involved. Strangely the two players are quite handy in a ‘Steve Wright in the afternoon’ way but no one is breaking out of their agents filing system unless he needs ‘For use at a dull overly christian wedding’ so it’s Friday night ‘almost Tapas’ for these two.

We wait for a particularly suitably insipid version of the Carpenters ‘Close to You’ to finish and with our bellies only slightly fuller than Karen Carpenter’s we leave £150 lighter and week one draws to a close.

These travelogues aren’t supposed to be strictly chronological they are merely supposed to be humourous and leave you with an idea of what freakery I spot when my head isn’t filled with serious stuff like work.

In week one we covered a lot of mileage around this lovely country and we did a lot of stuff but I’ll cover that in the next effort after the completion of week two where I’ll be explaining the competetiveness a 15 year old can bring out of a grown man and the funniest restaurant allergy I’ve seen in many a year.

As you were….

…Stick ’em with the pointy end….

There was little better in my childhood than reading ‘The Hobbit’. I would set my alarm for about 0530 hours on a cold winter’s night so I could get up in the dark to read it while the rain, wind or snow pounded the windows. That was the proper setting for such a book. I was obsessed with it and to be fair I still am as I felt I was in it and its Fantasy world. It’s a cosy book filled with roaring fires and adventure and I still read it occasionally. I still have the original copy of the book I first read as I never returned it to the school library…. Basically I became the ‘Thief’ of the book, I didn’t want to to be this way but it was destiny.

From this point on I became obsessed with the genre known as ‘Fantasy’. This isn’t unusual for a 10 year old boy so at this stage I wasn’t too worried.

‘The Hobbit’ pushed me into Tolkein territory which as we all know means ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as you’ll be hard pushed to find anyone outside of pot-bellied bearded Comic Con freakery who has read anything else by him regardless of conversations about the virtues of ‘The Silmarillion’ and ‘The Father Christmas Letters’.

I first tackled LOTR’s in my early teens and quickly realised that it is really a bit of a rehash of ‘The Hobbit’. It’s a tough read initially and on that attempt I only made it through to the mid point of ‘The Two Towers’ before ‘Fuck this shit’ entered my head and I put it down. The second attempt in my early 20’s was much more successful as I worked out that you need to ignore everything in italics, as that was some sort of backstory song and anything under the extensive section marked ‘Appendices’ which accounted for almost half of ‘The Return of the King’. None of that stuff is relevant to the story in reality and unless you are the kind of prick who likes to talk about Tolkein’s ‘Third Age’ as some one did years ago to me in a pub you can rule it out of your life.

Anyway I got through it and the collective work is a worthy tome overall. The problem is that it gets more complicated as it goes on….and on….and on.. when it’s just a simple good guys versus bad guys ‘men on a misison’ tale. It also becomes more flowery in language and it progresses and veers towards a religious experience towards the end. You are a gnats chuff away from ‘Blessed are the Ring Bearers’ in some parts and fully in the ‘And lo! on a mountain up high’ area for much of the last book. However you can’t get too much of the arsehole about it as you have signed up to a 800 page effort with Wizards, Orcs, Hobbits, Dwarfs and giant Eagles who could have dealt with the problem within the first chapter rendering the rest of the book useless immeadiately.

I digress, back to ‘The Hobbit’ and my descent into the world of ‘Fantasy’….

As I said, this book opened up the fantasy genre to my pre pubecent eyeballs and I soaked up as much as I could. The problem was that outside of the printed word, Conan comics or the odd Boris Vellejo ‘Gentlemens art’ book you were struggling to get your fantasy chops and I was never going to be sitting in a scout hut playing ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ where I was forced to use my imagination in the company of the acne brigade for 72 hours with no outcome. At this time of my life ‘Star Wars’ was king and Hollywood didn’t have the budgets for special effects creating fantasy realms of multiple breeds of fantastical creatures so we got ‘Hawk the Slayer’ and the equally shit ‘Krull’ or ‘Krudd’ as it became known.

‘Hawk the Slayer’ was a particularly terrible effort mainly due to the presence of Carry-On acting vacuum Bernard Bresslaw as a giant facing off against Hollywood Titan Jack Palance who’s chewing up the scenery with the go-to villian name of ‘Voltan’. This is another tale of a man who has seen his parents killed and then is on a revenge trip against some nut job laying waste to all before him….. guess who prevails? shock….

Similarly ‘Krull’ is filled with an array of actors better than the shite it is. Alun Armstrong, Freddie Jones, Robbie Coltrane and Liam Neeson all form part of Ken Marshall’s (who the fuck?) merry band of men on a mission save a Princess played by the completely 80’s Lysette Anthony complete with massive Jon Bon Jovi barnet. Anthony went on to make low level ‘Electric Blue’ porn for Americans with lots of open mouthed gasps and thrashing heads and is occasionally seen now playing various grades of Essex Gangsters Molls in direct to DVD british Crime thrillers starring Danny Dyer and that Cockney Turkish lump whose name always evades me. The greatest thing in ‘Krull’ other that the boomerang weapon is the second fantasy appearance of Carry-On acting vaccum Bernard Bresslaw this time as a Cerebral Cyclops. The prostehtic head used was shockingly shit that was as they just seemed to give him a masssoooove forehead to accomodate the one big unmoving eye, an eye that delivered the greatest performance in the film.

Slim pickings indeed. Fantasy was in the bin until ‘Excalibur’ rocked up like an Iron Maiden album and tour in a bland period of Kraut metal. The difference with ‘Excalibur’ was that it mostly used gritty physical effects and it added some controversial sex scenes with Nescafe Coffee ad MILF Cherie Lunghi getting boffed in the woods by a now long dead TV actor. It also had Helen Mirren oozing slag sex appeal while dressed in black and Liam Neeson (again) as another rent-a-oaf killer. ‘Excalibur’ has some good deaths and some saucy moments making it the kind or VHS that all 12 year old boys need to get their hands on. ‘Excalibur’ attempted to bring the fantasy genre to the attention of adults. It didn’t. It failed but it became a cult classic and the next thing you know we are back to puppets courtesy of Jim Henson.

‘The Dark Crystal’ was physical effects heavy but made easier by using puppets instead of actual actors. All physical effects are limited and so you lose the majesty of a dragon or a giant if you use a puppet or big bloke walking around a miniature village. The worst parts of ‘The Dark Crystal’ (and there are a lot in hindsight) are the puppets. Clearly this is a fundemental problem in a fantasy epic where the main characters are speaking puppets whose lips don’t move when they speak and you never see any feet unless you get a close up which was reminicent of the the old hand shots in ‘Thunderbirds’. They also walked in that classic puppet way of bouncing up and down, proper Captain Pugwash turnout. The villians of this piece were tall long necked bird-like creatures in scratchy clothes. Looking back now they have something of the Theresa May’s about them, wizen, emotionless, power crazy but oddly more attractive and with more personality.

‘The Dark Crystal’ was essentially a kids film even though it had a few scary moments but they weren’t enough for a devotee of the genre. Fantasy in print was filled with decapitation, death, gore and amazonian women in a state of both constant peril and even more constent undress. This is what made it great when you were a kid as it was accessable violence and erotica overlooked by adults. No one took it seriously until the Austrian Oak rocked up in a pair of fur pants and no acting ability.

In 1982 and 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger thrust his ‘walnuts in a pair of tights’ body into our faces as Conan in two efforts imaginatively entitled ‘…the Barbarian’ and ‘….the Destroyer’. These two films were sandwiched between the previously mentioned ‘Dark Crystal’ and another Muppet driven Henson effort in the form of ‘Labyrinth’ where David Bowie ponced about in an 80’s metal wig as the Goblin King while not being questioned as to why he didn’t look like the other Goblins in the film.

The Conan films were a big step forward if you took the genre seriously as I did when I was 14. They were dark and bloody and ticked all the boxes previously mentioned. Arnie was particularly brilliant in the ‘Barbarian’ as he played it, as he should have done, like a barbarian killing machine. If it moved he either pummelled it or fucked it, he spoke little and acted swiftly with extreme prejudice, most things were battered and slashed and rightly so. It was also written by Hollywood bad boys John Millius and Oliver Stone which gave it a certain amount of Hollywood gravitas which hadn’t really existed in the genre before.

‘Barbarian’ had the normal story of a lunatic despot from the heroes past attempting to take over and/or kill innocent women/princesses. Standard fayre on paper but delivered with the right amount of class given the lack of special effects in the 80’s and included James Earl Jones as the shape shifting bad guy, although in he looked more like Gene Simmons from Kiss sans make-up when in mid transformation.

‘Barbarian’ is a classic of its time and has some iconic moments including the famous ‘Crush your enemies’ quote. Proper Stuff unlike the sequel two years later made at the same time that Arnie had gone global as ‘The Terminator’ when he seemingly had more power and so demanded more lines for the Barbarian. The extra lines for Arnie in that Conan film ruin it. Conan is supposed to be a controlled savage and not really a comedian or intellectual.

‘Destroyer’ is really only noticable for a fight with Pat ‘Bomber’ Roach in a room of mirrors, French screaming nutjob Grace Jones weilding a spear while wearing a jockstrap-cum-G String and the worst final monster in the history of film as it’s clearly a bloke in a rubber suit and no attempt to portyay anything else was made. Appalling shite that even peak Arnie can’t save. It effectively killed off any more Conan films (there was a TV series) until Jason Mamoa returned as the Cimmerian in 2011. Funnily enough Mamoa is much more of a Conan than Arnie as he’s a more agile size but they fucked that film up with a poor rehash of the original story so it’s best we move on.

As I said earlier after a brief sorjorn into adult level fantasy with Conan the studios returned to puppet based trash in the form of ‘Labyrinth’ with Bowie having a wale of a time in the company Jennifer Garner and a series of fuckery mainly with no legs. ‘Labyrinth’ was really just a vehicle for Bowie to have a bit of fun, it’s just froth much like ‘The Neverending Story’ noticable only for its theme tune by one time popstar and Gambuccini slop bucket Limahl. This was all trash fantasy and placed the genre back in the dark ages it usually represented. By the time we reached Ridley Scott’s ‘Legend’ with a young Tom Cruise (with his birth teeth) phaffing about against a magnificent looking Tim Curry as The Lord of Darkness the whole thing was over and we were merely left with tripe like ‘Willow’ starring talentless ‘dwarf’ (apparently I can say this) and quilt invading recurring nightmare Warwick Davis as the dimiutive ‘never saw that coming’ hero. After this we were really in ‘direct to DVD’ limbo with fantasy unless you liked granite chinned Lucy Lawless as a Warrior called ‘Xena’ and a classic 80’s coiffered faux german metal singer Kevin Sorbo as Hercules. Funnily enough these two series paved the way for what was to become the apex of the genre as a little known firm called WETA did all the SFX for these two TV catastrophe’s.

In the late 1990’s it was announced that there was to be a live action version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. A cartoon version was made but that ran out of money a book and a half in and although it was quite good it didn’t satisfy given the majesty of the source material.

Now to most people to whom sex was not an alien concept the prospect of a LOTR’s film meant little, but to us the fantasy geeks, this was about as big as it gets. LOTR’s is pretty much the dictionary description of ‘fantasy’ as it has the lot. All the cliches are evident from troubled heroes, pretty elves, grumpy dwarves (not dwarfs, Tolkein came up with ‘Dwarves’ plural), orcs, goblins, wizards… it’s basically a fantasy tick list if you were going to dabble in such a genre and all down to the amazing imagination of Tolkein and his quest to create a British mythology.

The man given the task to film this epic was Peter Jackson and most people were happy with this as we’d all seen ‘The Frighteners’ and ‘Heavenly Creatures’ and so we knew given the money he would deliver the goods.

The initial footage released was spectacular. It was as if the book had literally leapt off the page by way of magic but it wasn’t to all be fantastic. The problem with the film series is that much like the books they deteriorate with every new one as I said before. The later books suffer from ‘up its own arse’ prose and the films are killed by special effect overload in the later films. The first book and film remain the best with the story remaining almost pure with a minimum of poncitude (the books) and over the top unnecassary visuals (the films).

‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ made such a cinematic impact that even people not into fantasy liked it. It also had the greatest scenes amongst the three films with the Mines of Moria battle with the Balrog being the standout. It was so perfect it can be viewed mutiple times and you still get sucked in even if you do spot the poor piece of sped up special effects of the fleeing Fellowship. Then there was the death of Boromir which can never been forgotten mainly because of the lamest line ever to come out of professional northern and mostly killed Sean Bean’s mouth namely ‘They took the little ones!!’ which still makes me wince and want to smash the living room up. That being said his death is a perfect example of what the book was about being majestically placed on celluloid. You can hear and feel every thump as the arrows hit Bean and sense the dread from the Hobbits when they know they are captured. It is brilliantly done and bar the addition of the best fight in the film (Aragorn versus some massive Urak-Hai resulting in a tremendous beheading) it is almost as the book laid it out.

The reason ‘Fellowship’ is the best film is down to money and the lack of. All three films were shot with the actors in one shoot but a lot of the special effects were added later. As with all studios a proportion of the budget was held back just in case the first film bombed. When it didn’t they added more money and this meant that Jackson could add more special effects to ‘The Two Towers’ and subsequently ‘The Return of the King’ and in the process he effectively ruined them. Only subsequent viewings reveal this because at the time they were generally considered to be masterpieces but the reality is that the first one is pretty much perfect and the other two are OTT cartoons with only really ‘The Battle of Helms Deep’ and the appereance of Gollum cutting the mustard. These two films are brilliantly technical rather than just brilliant.

Now no one likes a smartarse less than me but I feel I can completely diss the LOTR’s as a book and film combo mainly because I’ve done the hard yards. I’ve watched it enough times in all formats including the absolutely soul destroying extended versions, listened to all three commentaries at least twice and read a recent tome about the making of it which included a wet fingered Hary Weinstein insisting a Hobbit was killed ( “Fuck Tolkein”) and the great story of Viggo Mortensson meeting Orlando Bloom for lunch in a burger bar in New Zealand where he turned up in full Aragorn garb complete with the sword which got its own seat at the table.

The other well known story about the making of the film is that Sean Connery was actively sought to play Gandalf and was offered a percentage of the gross later calculated to have worked out at $150m. Connery declined the offer claiming he ‘didn’t understand it’…. bit odd given he’d made ‘Zardoz’ where he wore a nappy and your classic ‘cum-catcher’ tache in a film that nobody understood or wanted. No Matter, McKellen stepped up and became the definitive Gandalf and we weren’t subjected to Connery talking about ‘Shauron’, ‘Sharuman’, ‘ Helmsh Deep’….. Imagine the battle with the Balrog:

‘…I am the shervant of the shacred fires, Go back to the shadowsh….. YOU SHALL NOT PASSH!!!!…. Fly you Foolsh!!!….’

To the film’s credit it is the rare beast in Hollywood as it’s a set of films that cannot be remade as it was too good initially and so any attempt to replicate it would be futile. A bit like ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ and to a lesser degree ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day off’.

No remake then, thank God, but like everything in life where there’s money Amazon have snuffled up the rights and are making a $1bn TV show surrounding Aragorn in the Stryder years the exact thing that was supposed to be a mystery within the books… Bezos will fuck this right up as no one needs it.

So that was me done with fantasy. Nothing could beat that and I threw myself into a more realistic efforts like ‘The Wire’ and ‘The Sopranos’ and even the high comedy of ‘Breaking Bad’ where I just wished everyone would die horribly. I deliberately ignored the ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of the Deathly Hallows’ gazilliology and its American counterpart ‘Percy Jackson’s and the lost Valley of Something Something’, both of these franchises are child friendly guff no matter how ‘scary’ you keep being told the latter films are. These are basically ‘jolly hockeysticks’ romps with the odd troll and fantastical animal chucked in for good measure….rubbish…

Equally bad was the charisma free ‘The Golden Compass’ with a star studded cast including monkey-man Daniel Craig, the once lovely but now a bit creepy Nicole Kidman and Eva Green who I always think looks like she needs a good bath and a hefty dinner. This ludicrous effort from the pompous pen of Philip Pullman ooze a religous undercurrent planting it firmly in the ‘young adult’ tosspot category and couldn’t be saved even with the addition of a fight between two armoured up polar bears where one has it’s jaw punched off.

Fantasy was deader than Sauron’s exploding eyeball…. but wait…

‘Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in’

…. the wise words of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in Godfather III (better than the reviews) moments before weapons grade overacting as he has a heart attack in the kitchen. This is a shockingly acted shouty scene which made me laugh aloud as Pacino goes all Charlie ‘Donkey!’ Chuck with the random words and the chest clutching. It is truly amazing how the worlds greatest living male actors can over step the mark so often when female leads get the balance right…. Frances McDormand being the finest exponant of it with barely a duff performance.

A three film version of ‘The Hobbit’ suddenly spewed out like humback chunder all over the deck of a Japanese whaling boat. A 300 page book made into a 9 hour trilogy…. Why? Why would they do this….? Obviously the answer was money, big sweaty bunches of cash in easy-to-carry bags. It was the dead cert, the moneyball, the big Kahuna…. it could not fail financially and it didn’t.

The biggest problem with ‘The Hobbit’ film is that it is a kids book and shouldn’t really translate to a massive audience. Initially I was excited as Guillermo Del Toro a visual magician of dark cinema was due to direct it. He didn’t though, Jackson reluctantly did and so it suffered from the ‘Return of the King’ syndrome of too much budget and as we all know you never give unused budget back you just get rid of it on things you don’t need or didn’t think you could do. ‘The Hobbit’ therefore became death by SFX right up to making Orlando Bloom a younger version of an ageless Elf which seems utterly pointless.

The cast did their bit when they had to but they looked nothing like the book in reality. The Dwarves were all kooky with odd beards, ticks and wanky haircuts when they were in fact simply Dwarfs in the classic ‘Snow White’ way, miserable miners with height complexes and the arsehole over a dragon. Simple.

Martin Freeman was drafted in to play Bilbo and that seemed inspired until he did what he does by way of side glances and half sentences and you feel the need to reach into the screen to give him a shake and a slap. The bloke playing Thorin simply got on my tits with the pomposity and I was glad when he died, I really was as I was fucking sick of the moaning. But the clincher was the arrival of Billy Connolly, Barry Humphries and Stephen Fry confirming that we were in celebrity tick list teritory much like ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Jub’. If you were a thespian and weren’t in it then your career was pretty much over.

By film three the title character is almost irrelevant as we are drowned in poor special effects and overblown unnecessary battle scenes. If you look closely you will see that even Jackson was bored with it as the Elf army is just the same character copied and pasted into place as opposed to LOTR’s where almost every CGI Orc had a personality of its own. The greatest scene in any of the three films of ‘The Hobbit’ is the one that the uninitiated complain about, namely the Dwarves arriving at Bag End to meet Bilbo and have dinner. This is as close to the book as the film gets, it’s a pure scene devoid of the spectacular but fantastically shot and fundemental to the main character and everything the film stands for. More of the film should have been like this.

I saw all three ‘Hobbits’ at the cinema and was thoroughly dissapointed however when I rewatched them on the small screen they came cross better as you can actually see what is going on. I warmed to it without really treating it with the reverence I hold the book in so overall a mediocre piece of eye candy.

Bizarrely my opinion in the global market of film is pretty much negligible and so we found ourselves slap bang in the grip of Fantasy once more. Dwarism was big business (see what I did there?) all of a sudden and so Sky snaffled up the rights to some mad hippy’s story of fueding families, dragons, an army of the dead, fire and ice. ‘Game of Thrones’ was upon us.

I refused to watch GOT’s for five years. I’d had enough. I was sick of all the fantasy cobblers and a British Dwarf actor haunted me in my dreams. I resisted even though I was constantly being told it was magnificent. I wasn’t having it. I was done with fantasy. I was finally an adult. I had slept with numerous women in reality….y’know… real life..

Then one afternoon in 2016 I thought I’d give it a go. I’m like that, bit random…prone to extreme switches on a whim. I was convinced it would be utter bollocks but I was at a loose end and I was keen to see Sean Bean die horribly once more. Next thing I know and I’m four episodes in and clearly I’m a ‘Stark’.

GOT’s isnt like traditional fantasy but its basically all the fantasy we ever wanted. Admittedly it is filled with massive CGI and SFX but its strength is t good source material and even better acting. It doesn’t have Tolkeinesque flowery dialogue ramping up the poncitude, it uses basic anglo Saxon more generally used in pubs up and down the country. It is gritty, funny, spectacular and more realistic than ‘Line of Duty’ which is also set in a brutal environment of snide and violence namely London. Within 5 weeks I had watched six series of it in preparation of watching the seventh ‘live’ as it were. I was instantly hooked by GOT’s because it was proper adult fantasy which incorporated all the fantasy staples (Gore, Erotica, heroes, dragons, dwarfs) required in the mind of 50 going on 13 year old fantasy geek.

The big drawer of GOT’s first series was the inclusion of the bizarrely popular Sean Bean. As Bean had played ‘Boromir’ in LOTR’s fantasy freaks were expecting something similar but instead we got the standard Sean as tortured Northerner wrestling with his own failings while oozing the hardness of a ‘brew’ strong enough to stand a spoon up in it…..basically ‘something similar’.

The money shot of the first series wasn’t the sight of a young boy being crippled after being pushed out of a tower by some bloke he catches hanging out the back of his own sister but the inevitable death of Bean who is decapitated on the orders of possible the most evil fucker in the entire programme. As we know Bean always dies in films, it must be a contractual obligation, but this one was particularly tense as you just assumed it wasn’t going to happen given the low level acting credentials of the rest of the cast including Mark’ fat bloke in The Full Monty’ Addy who did a booming impression of Brian Blessed. The beheading of Bean was the visual heroin you needed to kick start the obsession which resulted in me watching the next 70 hours of it in rapid time.

The genius of GOT’s can be summed up in one character. Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage.

If I had to pick the greatest TV character in the history of television it would be Tyrion and Dinklage was absolutely superb in the role. Every line was delivered to perfection, every look he gave was majestic and every movement was sublime. Without Dinklage as Tyrion GOT’s might have failed. Of course there were other brilliant performances within it. Charles Dance was suitably evil, Jonathan Pryce suitably scraggy, Jerome Flynn was the perfect partner in crime to Dinklage and watching the younger cast members grow in their roles was a joy and even Bean was solid but the peformance by Dinklage was worthy of any award you can think of. It is an acting masterclass where every second he is on screen is gold and every minute he isn’t you wish he was. Truly remarkable.

From a pure fantasy perspective GOT’s was delivering the goods on a weekly basis. The spectacular was common whether it be huge bloody battles where survival was impossibly possible (‘Battle of the Bastards’, ‘The Frozen lake’, ‘Hardhome’, ‘The Long night’ where the death of The Night King will stay with me for a long, long time…. it was magnificent, spectacular TV), Dragon attacks, (Kings Landing, Slavers Bay) horrific murder and toture (‘The Red Wedding’, ‘The Montain and the Viper’ which remains the single most horrific scene I have ever witnessed on film, ‘The death of Little Finger’ and the castration of Theon) it had the lot and was delivering a TV experience greater than most Hollywood blockbusters for seven and a half series.

….and that was the issue….

The eighth and final series (not season…fuck that) of GOT’s was heralded as the second coming before its release. The makers were pulling out all the stops and promised the Mother of Dragons of all endings in six feature length episodes as opposed to the 10 one hour episodes of the seven previous series. This sounded great as it would provide the viewer with a weekly cinematic experience whether we actually wanted that or not, the problem was that not much of it was any good.

The eighth series started slowly. It set the scene perfectly for a conclusion but not really the conclusion we were looking for. The peak of the last series was the third episode (‘The Long Night’) which was effectivley a 90 minute battle scene where the Army of the Dead led by The Night King attacked Winterfell but even that missed a trick as it should have been the conclusion to the entire story. The death of the Night King was superbly done but it really should have been the end and if there was a criticism it would be that it was slightly rushed and left you thinking ‘What was the point of the Army of the dead?’ as it really acheived nothing and didn’t seem to have any plan. The dead eh? fucking clueless….wasting my time….

After this series high it all went to ratshit. Clearly the writers got bored and had enough and so they simply wrapped it all up with poor editing and a stupid storyline which killed character arc’s off brutally. Daenerys ‘The breaker of chains’ Targaryen went from saviour to slaughterer in seconds because her mate was killed and the highly anticipated battle between The Mountain and the Hound was just dull. Next thing we know Jon Snow, the dullest individual in the whole programme due to a moral stance at odds with everyone else in the entire show, is exiled and the voyeur kid in the wheelchair is King. Total cobblers. They even left it on a LOTR’s happily ever after final scene…. wankers…

Now I’ve been disapointed before (Christmas 1982 when the Scalextric burnt out before Boxing day and a failed proposal in a candlelight ‘Basillica of the holy blood’ in Bruges (gawd that was a frosty weekend) stick in the hippocampus) but this was the most disapointed I’ve been since I was handed what was described as the ‘Greatest Burger in North London’ in The Angel Inn in Highgate only to find that it was a chargrilled mess in a sweet brioche bun with Bacon Jam. After two bites of that car crash I was forced to take a robust stance through the medium of weapons grade swearing with the barman who sold me it. My tirade resulted in him leaning on the bar with his head in his hands repeatedly saying ‘I don’t believe it… I don’t believe it…how could he not like it..’? How can you royally fuck up meat and bread and the most successful TV show in history unless it’s a deliberate act of rebellion or just a flippant disregard for the paying punter?

And so weeks of commitment by me (years for others) was fucked in a final 2 hours of wank conclusions from two writers who had another project lined up that they needed to start and who wouldn’t wait from the creator to finish the books so made up the end. Even the creator of the entire thing stated that he’d have ended it differently…..Scum…. Subhuman scum. I toyed with reading the books simply to see what else was ruined by the two septic ‘showrunners’ who destroyed it but quickly came to the conclusion that I’m not sure I actually have the heartbeats or the will left which would enable me to complete them.

And so once more fantasy was dead to me. I’m finished with it, it’s costume drama all the way for me from now on… if it doesn’t involve some form of pantaloon or smoking jacket I’m not interested, if Hugh Bonneville isn’t in it looking distressed as ‘war is imminent’ then it can go fuck itself. If I see one more dwarf actor other than Dinklage talking about ‘smoting ruin atop a mountain’ then I might lose it. Stay in my nightmares Warwick Davis….stay there and crawl up my naked, sweating body with your massive, flapping, probing hands but do not invade a cinema near me again….

….Dead….

Oh…one last thing. The greatest fantasy film ever made is ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’…. I’m not explaining it, just watch it… if you can’t be arsed then I can’t help you…

Onwards to Welsh Wales…. More crud soon…

…Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth…

Sitting in the Dschungel
On Nürnberger Straße
A man lost in time
Near KaDeWe
Just walking the dead
It’s always up its own arse to start a blog/rant with a quote or lyric of no relevance from some other fucker as it pretends to set out a direction for the point you are about to make.

The above is a lyric from Bowie’s ‘Where are we now?‘ and represents the most coherent verse in the entire track. Basically it is a load of bollocks but as it’s Bowie we care little and I wanted to remind you of something great before we started. Anyway, Bowie has form on the ‘talking bollocks’ front, I mean it’s not like we weren’t warned:

‘It’s on America’s tortured brow, That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow,
Now the workers have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns

Brilliant…. ‘funk to funky’ as Dave would say, a genius at work even if he is simply chucking up any kind of old toss for us to consume… a special kind of genius…

Anyway, Where are we now? as the Thin White Duke previously asked. We are nowhere and staring into an abyss of nothing led by a group of incompetent individuals, backed up by a group who just don’t care or only care about their own doctrine… ‘Rule Britannia’ indeed Mr Jones.

This blog is about the state of the nation and before I go full rant I will concede that all of this has been said and heard before (mostly and more brilliantly by Marina Hyde, although recently I’ve deliberately not read her) and better than I will lay it out however this is my view. I don’t expect you to love it or particularly loathe it and I don’t expect it to be wholly accurate so spare me the corrections if you see anything might inaccurate…. it is a humorous, caustic version of what I think. I’m not interested in ‘but what Jeremy is trying to achieve.. ‘or ‘it will all be ok in the end..’ or ‘we need to take back control’. If you want that or feel the need to say it, write your own blog… this is simply me emptying my head over your upturned faces and cackling as you wipe it off.

The only place to start is at the top. The Government.

It is hard to imagine an organisation as inept as the current Conservative party, in fact it has been quite an achievement to assemble a group of such inept individuals that someone needs applauding. The balance of probabilities dictates that you’d get a couple of half decent individuals but no…. this is the anti chaos theory mixed with utter cuntery, it is a huge massive ball of hate and arrogance injected with the DNA of a pit bull with an elastic band around the todger reeking of piss, lavender and cheap biscuits. As a group they have nothing to offer.

In a previous blog I explained that due to my parents and their horrific conservative middle England right wing attitudes I err on the side of the Labour party. But even that John Major type Tory party of my early voting years seems acceptable over this shower. Major now appears to be a political Titan, a statesman with an understanding of what might need to be done. Similarly the much derided Hestletine seems to worry more about the yoot of today than the actual people in charge and their opposite numbers.

So in their place what have we got?

The higher echelons of this Tory rabble fall into two camps:

1. Total Wankers

2. Proper Wankers.

At one end of the scale we have the Hammonds and the Javids who claim to be normal and down to earth.

Hammond has a loose history of being a moody Goth at Uni possibly because he wore a black leather jacket up the pub one night, listened to a Mission album in error and let his hair brush his collar.

Javid is the son of a Lancastrian bus driver. This is it by the way, this is peak Tory ‘edge’….. this is Tory ‘real’.

Both men are biege of personality with Hammond being a particularly dull fucker with nothing of note to offer other than the now standard Tory ‘punch my face in’ smirk owned by David Davis.

Javid has potential as a future leader but it will almost certainly be a failed attempt in a ‘no chance’ election but will give the Tories a dip into diversity which they sorely need and will cynically exploit before reverting to some kind of well buggered old Etonian who suckled at the year of ‘nana’ till he was 32.

Javid also has that ‘talking about himself in the third person’ lunacy about him which all future leaders need almost as if they are watching themselves from an elevated position such is the majesty of their leadership…

Also cramned into this end of the Tory spectrum is roly poly pseudo hard nut Mark ‘Gino’ Francois. This squinty eyed little plum is a half Italian ex territorial Army irritant and like Farage has a non British name far removed from his barely hidden racism. He’s been getting a lot TV lately which is a good thing as we all miss characters from the mind of Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Grigson.

Francois talks the talk because he thinks he should but in reality he oozes bitter little bloke living alone in shabby damp bedsit eating beans from a tin while looking forward to his evening wank into some parliamentary headed paper with a tin of Stella primed on a rickety stool.

If we didn’t have a scenario like Brexit no one would know him. He is only on the TV as he has a 25,000 majority in a pro Brexit area of Essex and so the BBC in its quest for ‘balance’ dig him out for some World War II based analogies reminding the nation that ‘us Brits’ won’t be told what to do by some ‘garlic eating surrender monkeys’ or, by the chuff of St George, ‘Fritz’.

Francois’s recent face-off with that horse faced ponce Will Self on some two bob afternoon political magazine programme was wholly embarrassing but bizarrely gave him a position of strength in the eyes his electorate. ‘He ain’t taking it’ was the cry when in reality he was simply dragging out the old Politician trick of ignoring the question and crowbarring in whatever old shit he wanted to be heard. More surprising was that Self, a megamind intellect in his own elongated head seemed thrown by it and resorted to a playground stare-out which in the international language of imminent violence is about as convincing as ‘hold me back…I’ll fuckin’ do him!!!’. Basically it means nish…. no one is getting hurt…ever.

We’ve all met a Francois. He is ‘I’m not being racist but….’ three pints of bitter and a carvery esturay filth. They used to be relatively rare but like the odd random Jackel around the feeding lions eventually they mass, grow some bollocks in groups and burst forth to feed on the lesser cuts. When this Brexit catastrofuck is over Francois will roll back under his rock never to be heard of again… which is good but also highlights the madness we are currently in.

Then we have the proper Fuckers. The public school boy Tories….. the elites, the ones we truly hate…

We could start with the leader but that would be easy so let’s start with the lower level cuntery and straight off Sir Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General.

Cox embodies almost everything hateful in the Tory party. A big loud boorish prick with a booming stentorian voice and a massive sense of self entitlement who was clearly told early he was ‘Born to Lead’ but is ultimately doomed to be killed by his own troops in a wet trench with a rusty bayonet at the hand of a simple Tommy called ‘Arbuthnot’ from a small hamlet near Blackburn.

Whenever I see this bloke I want to smash up my own house and when I hear him I feel an overpowering urge to break into my neighbours house to smash that up as well. Cox has decided to project himself as Gandalf the Grey on the bridge of Khazad Dum ordering the Balrog that it ‘shall not pass!!’. He is weirdly reminiscent of the thespian postman in 80’s classic alt comedy ‘The Young Ones’ booming out commands so even those at the back of the circle can hear him without the aid of a microphone.

Cox is that man you meet at a party who, upon finding out your name makes a point of calling you it endlessly in an act of gross over familiarity. You suffer this as you know parties end and the next time you meet he will neither remember you, your name or where you previously met.

As Attorney General Cox appears to be the bloke tasked with making our exit from the EU legally watertight (which he won’t do) but as I said earlier he is doomed to failure due to the whole Brexit process being pretty much unacheivable but he’ll take his moment in the spotlight and all he’ll really achieve is leaving his many minions with tattered eardrums.

The real poncitude of the Tory Party lies in the form of the European Research Group (ERG) which is a group of faceless public schoolboys of a certain age dressed in heavy tweed led by the previously perfectly named Minister for the 18th Century and Haunted Oxfam shop Jacob Rees-Mogg with the assistance of ‘bit of rough’ Francois.

The Mogg is fuckin’ minted but seems incapable of purchasing a suit which either fits him or is in any way fashionable. I can only assume that these volumous rags are leftovers from his father’s wardrobe and worn as tribute just like Saville and the Duchesses polyester shrouds he kept pristine…

Our first visual experience of the ERG was during a press conference after lame duck Prime Minister May delivered her withdrawal agreement. What we got was a long table of old men sitting in a line in varying stages of decreptitude with Rees-Mogg as the spokesman. Imagine that…..Jacob as the face of anything other dishing out thrashings to unkept chimney sweeps or ignorant knife grinders…

If you lined them up and presented them as the cabinet or the face of the nation revolution would surely become a viable option.

The same could be said of a line up of David Davis, Ian Duncan-Smith, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Common room fop and tuck shop assistant Michael Gove.

This mob are the comic relief normally, the team captain foil in a million episodes of ‘Have I got news for you’. If this shower was presented as the individuals to dig us out of a national disaster at any other time then even the thickest of the thick would start to panic. but at this time the ‘will of the people’ decided that they were more trustworthy than captains of industry, economists and experts.

There is nothing remotely statesman like about any of them….they are all fantasists blindly stumbling around yapping like lonely dogs hoping that they we can reinstigate steam ships for another crack at shouting at Johnny Foreigner and taking all their shit in the name of ‘Empire’ to make us great again. They are all ‘fur coat and no knickers’ as my mum would say…. bluffers…. piss takers… charlatans..

Take Esther Mcvey as an example. A former failed TV personality presenting conservative religious programmes before being called to parliament and living with a fellow parliamentarian ‘Fuck buddy’ in a publicly funded Pimlico safe house.

Once entrenched in politics she attempted to bring glamour to the house with some Jennifer Aniston type haircuts and RuPaul heels and a walk like she was in a slow motion Loreal ad.

This is all great but the main issue is that she is pretty thick and ill informed. The amount of basic errors about policy and her general lack of understanding of politics is staggering. I’ve heard her interviewed on a number of occasions and she’s mostly been destroyed on things you would basically expect her to easily answer. She battles on in the classic politicians way of basically talking about anything other than the question in a polite regional accent but is a millisecond away from the mask slipping before launching into a Scouse diatribe of bile and hate followed by robbing your house and eating out of your bin.

And so we come to the top of the tree. The supreme leader at the head of the table at this ‘Cunts Banquet’, the awkwardly awkward, elongated sloth gaited, personality vacuum that is Theresa May.

May. Mother Theresa. Maggie May, barren, empathy free, devoid of humour, unlived, field marauder, pale of face, borderline racist, lover of heels, daughter of a vicar, Trump bannister, destroyer of Police and self proclaimed ‘bloody difficult woman’.

She’s right. She’s a difficult watch, a difficult listen and probably emits a difficult odour…. most likely cheap perfume like ‘Tweed’ or something lavender based with a squirt pump and a bow.

She walks like a person recovering from having two displaced hips, its almost mechanicalas if there is a couple of gremlins within driving her forward. She is the AT-AT walker from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ lumbering on to certain doom through its own inability to move quicker. She makes bolshy prop forward Amber Rudd seem graceful of movement but on the upside Mrs May would be infinitely more useful at reaching any top shelf with her telescopic limbs so it’s not all bad.

Then there’s the voice, and the hair, and the laugh and basically the lot. She is the human embodiment of the Python sketch ‘How not to be seen’. One of my gauges of how I assess a person is would I want them to cook me an egg? I would neither want her to, see her do it or good forbid see her eat one. The egg is the benchmark… no egg, no trust babe…

On a more serious note she has almost single handedly destroyed this country through her own stubbornness and sense of duty that only she sees. She has isolated herself with her own inflexible approach to everything put before her. As home Secretary she dismantled the police and continues to do so as PM. She is responsible through these actions for the rise of knife crime and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out the correlation between less law enforcers and rising crime, its staring you in the face. But like this and Brexit she ignores facts as she is convinced she’s right and everyone else is wrong.

She was brilliantly described recently by Matthew Parris as a ‘political Death Star’ and ‘ the human embodiment of a closed door’. Outstanding stuff but with her Brexit position I see her as Don Logan from ‘Sexybeast’ particularly with her complete intransigence to anything other than the course of action taken. ‘No, No, no, no, no, no…..’. She should say to parliament ‘your just going to have to turn this opportunity yes’.

This is were the Tories are, run by a sociapath who thinks scraping mould off old jam is a thing we would be willing to do because she is prepared to for a soundbite. Well, I’m not prepared to do that. Mouldy jam goes in the bin you delusional nut job…

Moving on we have the ‘opposition’….with a glaring lower case ‘o’.

When it comes to opposition Labour are currently Spurs in the 2000’s when they were trying to deal with the Arsenal. They are Gary Docherty and Chris Armstrong against Sol Campbell and Martin Keown….. nothing is happening and the general public ain’t believing it ever is…

As I said earlier I vote Labour. This may appear shocking to some of you given my job and general abrasive personality but it’s true. The problem I have is the hijacking of a party by some radical extremists, funnily enough mirroring the Conservative party.

Labour have become so much of an unelectable joke that the public, even a public of this stupidity in general, see them as irrelevant. As of last week Labour were 10 points behind the most inept group of people to ever have power….imagine that.. the Tories are a car crash wrapped up in a clusterfuck and are still wiping the floor with Jezza and co based on trust. ‘Trust’…the public trust the Tories more than Labour. It’s almost incomprehensible. There is more trust in disaster capitalists and public schoolboys who never look further than their own breed than there is in a one trick pony like the current Labour party…. the one trick being to demand or wait out for an election even though no one has the appetite for it and they probably won’t win it with the current ‘leader’.

As with the Tories the problem is most likely the personnel, so let’s have a look.

I could start with Comrade Corbyn but that would be easy and predictable so I’ll briefly touch on a few others within this rabble.

It would be be easy to pile in on Diane Abbott, I mean Corbyn did back in the day, but it would also be unfair. I believe Abbot is simply out of her depth to a massive degree. She is pretty stupid and it can’t have gone unnoticed that she isn’t exactly front and centre when it comes to one of the high profile positions in a shadow cabinet. Even the Labour hierarchy have realised that less isn’t more, less is necessary… it’s simply easier.

She can’t even hide her stupidity through bluff and bluster like a Tory. She delivers at the despatch box and in interview as if someone is communicating with her via an earpiece which creates a slight delay and provides a stocatto deliver to questions. This may sound unbelievable but nothing is unbelievable anymore, everything is possible.

I won’t really tear into Abbott because I feel there is something not really quite right. I see nothing worthy of a 35,000 majority (which is more votes than Farage has obtained in seven failed attempts to win a seat) but clearly her constituents do so fair play to her but would you really want her to be Home Secretary? Does anyone really think she could handle a job of such importance? I doubt it.

For every Tory Cock, sorry ‘Cox’ there is an equally booming pompous arse in Labour and there is none better then Emily Thornberry.

The daughter of a UN and NATO diplomat she spent 20 years as a barrister and is currently living and working in Islington… by the way I’m still talking about a Labour MP here in case you thought I’d moved on to the ‘elite’.

Like most barristers she is big of mouth and arrogance but short on common sense. I’ve been in the company of many a Thornberry both professionally and socially and they could all do with a shake. From a professional perspective they swan in like they own the place and dish out the commands while forgetting that the ‘hard yards’ have been carried by the real grafters who put them in the room in the first place.

My first real exposure to Thornberry and her huge self importance was when she was the mouthpiece after a ‘victory’ that was a defeat. Since then she has bellowed in the house, pointed a lot across the dispatch box and generally acted like the pissed posh girlfriend of the University rugby skipper who can sink 15 pints and has a penchant for that rowing boat drinking game the egg chasers love or a game of beer pong before accommodating the rest of the team for ‘a bit of a laugh’.

She’s a blunt old instrument, a sort of posh totty ‘strongarm enforcer’ ensuring the Comrade sticks to the plan. We could probably end this whole Brexit shambles with a televised bondaged bear pit brawl between her and Francois where the winner decides the fate for the nation. I’m certain she would emerge bloodied and victorious with Francois chucked in a corner, his face a rouge mousse with his limbs snapped like twiglets moaning some shit about the army and not being ‘trained to lose’.

Another former big old unit is Tom Watson who I think it’s fair to say we all had hope for. Watson seemed to have potential but now he’s just another ineffective Labour MP who doesn’t really seem to know exactly what to do. In a time of national crisis where the opposition party seem happy to do no opposing you’d think a man of his reputation would rise to the top regardless of the so called ‘Leader’ of the party. Instead Tom has decided that Tony the Tiger on a packet of Frosties and the MacDonalds Monopoly game are his bag. This is all very noble from a former big man who was clearly ‘roomy through the hips’ but unless someone in the Labour party doesn’t actually get a grip we’ll all be eating Frosties and MacDonald as fresh produce will be scarce.

Watson seems to have the balance for me. He’s close enough to Blair to make him palatable (I recall little hate for Blair during ‘Cool Britannia’) but also to the ideals of what would be an acceptable Labour party to a mass audience. Maybe his time will come but really he should grasp it now before Labour split further and all hope is lost.

And then we come to the Stooge. The lead Comrade, the Marrow Grower, the man who always appears to be a second away from saying ‘I’ll smash your fucking face in’…. Corbyn.

I’ve always disliked this bloke and always will. ‘Old School’ they say, No one likes an old school Tory as we’ve evolved so why should he get away with it. Old school Tories have fucked this country so old school Labour would do the same.

Corbyn is a man from another age. He wants something that only a small proportion of people actually want for this country namely a socialist idyll. The reality is that most of us, from King to Pauper, want their own stuff and lots of it, everyone wants an element of ‘elite whether it’s a new TV, car, watch, bike, jacket whatever….we want the stuff. You know this anyway….it’s not a startling revelation that pure socialism didn’t work as proved by Corbyn lauded Venezuela which is now a war zone controlled by a socialist dictator clinging on to power with all the money while his people drink out of the sewer.

Regardless of all that his biggest error is his absolute apathy towards potentially the biggest crisis to hit this country since the war. He seems to care not one jot about what might happen and simply bangs on about a new election which, if he won, would undoubtedly expose his lack of any cogent plan. Just repeating ‘give me a go’ ain’t really cutting it with the public.

Bizarrely, and this may seem like an odd concept, but the role of the opposition is to oppose the Government as necessary. Corbyn doesn’t appear to be too interested in this idea and seems content to sit back and hope that a nation, historically balls deep in the right, suddenly swings massively to the left…. if this Brexit process is anything to go by the rest of the country isn’t having a cosy chat and a peppermint tea with Jezza down the allotment watching the gooseberry jam ferment, it’s moaning about ‘taking back control’ and ‘shutting our borders’ even though we are surrounded by water. Corbyn’s actions throughout this car crash have been nothing short of despicable given the part he should be playing and most remainer Labour types won’t forget it.

Finally we come to the last group of players in this tragedy… We, the people.

In my job you never trust the public even though at the most crucial time you are forced to. The public are random, skittish, prone to bollocks. They can believe nothing or everything in the delivery of a tweet. Facts are not required and sometimes decisions are made for ‘a laugh’ or a ‘change’ but once they are made they stick. That’s Democracy…… it’s overrated sometimes.

The public decided this mess, a mess given to them by one of the country’s finest ponces, they decided with a simplistic vote about a complex scenario.

The public were pissed about but a large proportion abdicated personal responsibility in actually finding out facts and instead chose personalities or personal bigotry….. not all people but a significant proportion. I say this through personal experience rather than any prejudice you think I might have. I have deliberately engaged with as many people as I can over Brexit in order to see what has made a cross section tick and it’s been quite shocking. I’ve heard everything from the mundane to the insane, I’ve heard the racist and I’ve heard the truly dim.

One of the most stupid answers I received to why someone voted to leave was that no one told him to research anything about it. I questioned how he made a decision at all without finding something out about it and was told that he basically just picked the opposite to what we had. Now this bloke is no melon, he’s a functioning individual with responsibility….just not in that moment.

I’ve also seen ardent leave voters apply for Irish Passports to give their kids ‘a chance’ even though their actions will hamper most other kids. I know of people with multiple properties abroad who voted leave to ‘take control of our borders’ while they swan across someone else’s border to collect their vast monthly rent in bespoke elite complexes in a foreign land.

Clearly I know more remainers than Brexiteers because I live in London which is Remain City Central. We fuckin love the diversity, the bureaucracy and the straight bananas as we are all minted, arrogant, unaffected and softer than an untoasted Warburton’s crumpet. But I mostly work with Leave supporters as they nearly always live in the Shires and beyond. I’ve also travelled around Britain in the last two years and the majority of people I meet are Leavers and quite solid ones at that. Because of the London Bubble you assume everyone is like you but they aren’t. There is strong support throughout England and Wales to leave and I’m not sure that has waned much in the last two and a half years.

My other belief is that demonstrations or petitions don’t work and only really add to the confusion. A million people marching is unbelievable (although the actual estimate seems to be between 312,000 to 400,000) but it’s a fraction of the people who voted to leave and as it was in the South and specifically London I’d imagine the majority of participants were most likely local to London and the South at least. I’d be interested to see what the biggest crowd outside of London protesting against Brexit is (this isn’t a test, I simply can’t be bothered to look it up).

Similarly with petitions. I think that the entire Government petitions website should be shut as it creates a sense of false hope.

The original 2nd referendum petition hit 4.2m online signatures and when it was discussed in parliament it was rebuffed with a ‘will of the people/thanks but no thanks’ response. Shock. The new Stop Article 50 petition has surpassed that with 5m signatures and it was also rebuffed with a ‘will of the people/thanks but no thanks’ response. Shock. The petitions that are effective are usually trivial.

May is immovable and Corbyn couldn’t give a fuck so collectively why would they care about a few people with the arsehole over reversing what they insist is an unfulfilled democratic vote

The other problem with petitions is they only provide one option. ‘Replay the champions league final’ that Liverpool lost last year for example got 500,000 signatures, isn’t big on options for the Manchester United fan and plays into a specific demographic much like a Brexit vote. The reality is that 5,000,000 votes, while impressive, means fuck all to anyone prepared to do anything about it. At the last general election 4,000,000 people voted for UKIP and got one MP who later decided he was independent. We all laughed over that and said ‘So what?’. It’s just a number, a number far too short of 17 odd million and so it will always be derided.

Of course the media played their part. The BBC seem adept at finding proper extremes of the voting spectrum while missing out on the ‘Charlie Farleys’ in the middle. Old people have been thrust before the cameras with what seems to be the specific remit of winding me up with comments like ‘it would be good to struggle to bond the people together’. Brilliant. I look forward to reminding my elderly neighbours of this when they are stricken with frostbite huddled around a candle eating their own rotten toes this winter. I saw an interview the other night on Sky News with some pale skinned wallflower from the Shires whose job description was ‘stockpiler’. It’s come to this….this shit.

I’m not in the game of struggling, I’ve moved on. If I think I can dish out puzzles and football socks stuffed with nuts and a tangerine at Christmas I’d better think about some form of parental protection because I’m pretty certain I could be bludgeoned to death in my sleep on Christmas night if I was to offer up such a ‘thin gruel’ (I love this expression, it’s the greatest thing that ponce Rees-Mogg has ever uttered). We should be moving forward not backwards and the chances of me coming home from work to tend to a vegetable patch are close to zero so it will be Pot Noodles and toilet water all the way.

So the people chose this path but the least you could expect was for the politicians to smoothly negotiate something worthy of all the bother……ahhhh.

All we have learnt about the capability of the shower in the chambers is that the majority are stealing a living. There has never been a real plan and even if there was you’d have no faith in anyone in a position of power delivering it.

The title of this blog is a quote from Mike Tyson at his ferocious peak…the EU have punched us in the mush and we have nothing else to offer… we have propped ourselves up as something special with all the mouth but we have no trousers to speak of.

As a remainer I think we are proper fucked and rushing headlong into ‘Mission: Certain Death’ but at least our Prime Minister stood by her guns and the leader of the opposition who is 180 degrees away from her on the protractor of ‘Bollitocks’ let her. Think how proud you will be of that while you are washing a dead rat in a puddle prior to a slow 65 hour bake over a tea light…

There appears to be no chance of flipping this. The Brexiteers have won as they grasped the reigns, winning a most likely bent vote and after nearly three years of acting all arrogant Brit in a Spanish restaurant shouting for ‘Steak and chips’ we can only hope for a poorly made ‘Patatas Bravas’ with well-done horse meat steak.

The people chose Boris, Gove, IDS, Farage, Robinson, Leadsome, Corbyn, Raab, Fox, Davis, Rees-Mogg and the Human stick insect on the Good ship ‘Sovereignty’ as we plummet over the edge of a border free flat earth eating wafer thin ham while watching mixed martial arts on a three channel TV…

Just a personal view…. as you were…

…Two, Zero, One, Eight…

“There has been too much violence, too much pain. None here are without sin. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away. Give me the pump, the oil, the gasoline, and the whole compound, and I’ll spare your lives. Just walk away; I will give you safe passage in the wasteland. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.”

Lord Humongous, Post Apocalyptic Scavenger Warlord, Mad Max 2.

Wise Words… we’ll return to this in due course…

A funny old year. Shit obviously. They are all thick with crud these days with mere flashes of good stuff, I suppose that comes with age…. the end of weddings and the start of funerals (as you can see we are off to a flyer).

2018 has been the year of the Stupid.

Now before all the Brexiteers get the hump I’m not talking about that. I’ll come on to that later. No, I’m taking proper stupid, real down in the gutter shit-ya-pants stupid. This stupid has cropped up everywhere and I’ve found it very depressing.

Now I’m no geni-arse. My education (or lack of) puts me firmly in the stupid camp…on paper. It would be fair to say I’m no rocket scientist but from what I’ve observed this year most people are fuckin’ thick because it’s easier to be stupid. When you are stupid you get away with it. You can say and do what you like because now you have a mouth due to social media and the stupid seem more likely to inflict their opinion on you whether you like it or not (I’m aware of the irony here so calm down).

This stupidity is a global disease. We all know that King Stupid controls America and he has mobilised an army of dim which get involved in everything.

I was on Twitter the other day when a tweet from my local police force brought the news of a stabbing about four miles from my house. I scrolled through the replies to this tweet to see if anyone had any other info only to find the following tweeted from an individual from California:

‘By a Muslim’

This Jub purported to be an ex soldier in the US army whose bio stated ‘Grandpa, Conservative, no longer trust FBI, DOJ or courts’. Clearly this idiot follows my local police news feed simply to spread hate. At no point in the police press release did it mention the gender, race or colour of anyone involved in the incident. Why would you be bothered enough to even comment on this stuff from another country if you didn’t want to cause hate and division?

Of course this is a small pinpoint example of the Stupid. If you want national look at our leadership (Tory or Labour) and Global, well that is a whole other story.

Trump hangs on for now…. or at least we think he hangs on. If Mueller doesn’t have something on him that will end it this could be the biggest waste of time in history. My own view is that he has him by the short and curlies but really wants to drive it home and get it right. An investigation like that should take this long as a minimum and you rarely nick the big cheese in the first instance. You nick the foot soldiers to cause disruption and distrust in the crime gang, as the net tightens you are only left with the Boss… that’s what Mueller has done. Textbook if he’s successful, a waste of time if it fails. I think it will cause so much grief that they will be forced to remove him from office but don’t expect an arrest or prison time… expect a resignation and national embarrassment.

Look at that… I’m getting involved in another country’s political problems… but unlike Californian Jub I’m merely talking to you my three readers rather than a global audience of thousands… I’m all about the controlled approach.

Late this year I decided to focus my hate laser on Trump rather than our own problems because our issues are so profoundly stupid that I lost the will to take the piss as every day I was confronted with something more ridiculous than before.

Not all the stupid in this country is Brexit related but a lot of it is just by the sheer fact that there appears to be no other relevant news other than stabbings in London.

The Brexiteer is a very sensitive soul, which is surprising given the complete belief that this is all easy and beneficial to us all so I should clarify that I’m not saying all of them are stupid. Some are stupid like some remainers are but that is really a food chain kinda thing.

I sit next to a Brexiteer who likes to call me a ‘Remoaner’. We had a frank robust conversation after this and I pointed out that I don’t call her a ‘Stupid Brexiteer’ so she should stop with the insults and simply engage in a rational debate about the subject. A rational debate was impossible as she admitted that she didn’t really understand it and due to boredom had stopped following it in the news but just wanted the government to (wait for it)… ‘Get on with it’.

Ahhh yes… ‘Get on with it’, the motto for our generation because we will all be lumped in as Brexiteers if it goes through and there’s nothing we can do with it. No one will believe you when you say they didn’t vote for this shit, we will all be regarded a big lump of Stupid globally with no personal out. It’s just a massive balls up whatever way you look at it which has convinced me and most people doing a job involving the public that they can’t really be trusted with decisions revolving around sanity, their own interest or logic.

‘Get on with it’, ‘for a change’ and ‘it’s something different’ appear to be the three most used phrases regarding this car crash because very few people have been bold enough to go down the ‘foreigners out’ route at least in my presence. To be fair this is mostly due to where I live rather than fear of me as an individual. I wonder how much Welsh farmers and Grimsby fishermen will like ‘the change’ this time next year? Bit of a laugh innit?

The reason I don’t wish to bracket all Brexiteers ‘stupid’ is because I know a few and they aren’t all stupid people. I’ll go with ‘misinformed’, ‘manipulated’ and potentially ‘lazy’ when dealing with a need for knowledge and facts. Of course not all people voting leave did it for a laugh, some genuinely believe it will work. I work with another bloke who really thinks it’s a good idea but ‘just in case’ he’s got his kids Irish Passports to ‘give them a chance’. Brilliant. In essence he doesn’t trust it to work and has shat on not only his nationality but that of an EU country. The fabled ‘have your cake and eat it’ is strong in this one.

If there was a cogent argument for Brexit other than soundbites above I could have been swayed but there isn’t.

For some reason the majority of the public (and don’t give me all that ‘those who didn’t vote would have swung it’ bollocks… they didn’t so they don’t count and if they couldn’t be arsed then they are responsible) seemed to choose a group of multi-millionaires mostly disliked by society in general. The wealth controlled by leading Brexiteers makes them immune to any scenario but for some reason the common fuckery of this country seemed to go with it in some kind of ‘Remains of the Day’ throwback to respecting the elite:

Here are the heroes of the common fuckery:

  • Aaron Banks (£250m net worth),
  • Rees-Jub (£55m)
  • Boris (£2m)
  • James Dyson (£7.8bn)
  • Farage (£2.5m)
  • Roger Daltrey (£80m)
  • Michael Caine (£60m)
  • Tim Martin (£448m)
  • Gove (£2m)
  • Yaxley-Lennon (£1m)
  • Fox (£1m)

..and of course the architect of this whole shit show Cameron whose family has an estimated £30m fortune.

It should be noted the relatively low net worth of most politicians is countered by ongoing salary and expenses… basically none of the strokers mentioned above will struggle ever as an MP gets £74k a year with a further £65k as a cabinet member.

This shower of Tory shit was believed in favour of logic and fact and they even went as far as to announce that you couldn’t trust experts. If you asked the average punter at any other time if they believed any one of these fuckers the answer would have been a resounding ‘no’ but when it came to an unachievable utopia they went for it. Well done Charlie Farley…well done..

Of course in any normal time the opposition would oppose such upper class frippery but we got nothing from the shabby millionaire across the floor because essentially he agreed with them.

Comrade Corbyn has proved to be as much as one trick pony as any Tory spouting ‘the will of the people’ and ignoring the majority of his support because they hadn’t paid for a membership card. This is akin to a football club ignoring a global fanbase in favour of the 55,000 turning up in the ground…. it makes no sense but it keeps you in the £134,000 a year seat while you do nothing but watch the country go down the tubes. Corbyn spouts utter cobblers along the lines of giving him the reigns and he can sort it out in three months when the fucker couldn’t organise two kippers on a plate.

Where will it end? Who fucking knows? Can’t possibly end with no deal as that would be catastrophic no matter what the Millionaire Ghoul Rees-Jub tells you. It takes decades to sort out trade agreements even if they are described as ‘easy’ by failed professional politicians and businessmen who build their shit in South East Asian sweatshops. Leaving with nothing is never better than staying with something…let’s face it when you leave the Looney girlfriend you’d take the Van Halen bootlegs and the cocktail shaker over fuck all if nothing else but to fuck her off.

My only job now is to assist my tribe as I can’t rely on anyone or anything else to help me or them.

On a personal note I’ve had worse years obviously but this one has been right up there for nothing special…. an eyebrow raiser and an eye opener on a number of fronts.

For years now my greatest assets have been my Achilles heel.

Reliability, Organisation, Humility

(Ignore the last one).

I’m a boringly reliable person. If I say I’m doing something or am going to be somewhere you can bet your life I will either have done it or will be there before you are. To me reliability is the key asset in friendship. If you can’t rely on someone to even get to a pub on time then what else can’t you trust them with. I’m all in and expect the same… it’s why I go all ‘Guinnessapocalypse’ in December as I’m committed to seeing those I value before the end of the year… that and I absolutely love Christmas and laughing so if you put them together I’ll be your Huckleberry…

Problem is that this year it wasn’t reciprocal with a large amount of my relatively small love arc not bothering.

We all have busy lives, even me, but if you don’t make an effort then the cracks appear….and they have appeared. This time though my trowel will remain dry and my love putty will remain arrid in its pouch. The days of me doing the running are gone, let’s see what happens now… this clown has chucked his last empty bucket until our man in Hong Kong sweeps back into Blighty triumphant…. then I’ll come out of retirement.

Strangely I had more social nights out with our man in Hong Kong and the Queen of Gin from the Emerald Isle than I did with some mates living in a 6 mile radius of my house. A particularly great hour of my year was spent with the Gin Queen in a North London boozer where I laughed almost continuously and smiled long after she left. Another great moment was meeting an antipodean princess in a coffee shop in central London…. total shock event making my day. It’s the small stuff that matters and to do that shit the effort needs to be made.

Clearly I’ve got grouchy in my piss ridden beige panted dotage but if you can’t sound off in your own blog when can you?

Friends are all to me as I have very little family so I’m sensitive to the collapse of it…bear with me, I could snap out of it at any second. Anyway you’d be disappointed if I kept my mouth shut right?….it is what it is…

What else?

The Arsenal finally managed to bin the Frenchman after what seemed like eons of mind numbing whinging from large sections of the online fanbase. In the ground there was little complaint as was proved a few years ago when you were directed to raise an A4 ‘Wenger out’ banner at some random pre agreed minute during a game. As expected about 200 bits of flappy paper were raised in an embarrassing act of defiance and we waited another 3 years for the willowy ponce to clear out his desk.

Up stepped boss eyed part time Spanish concierge Unai Emerey with his pidgin English and jet black Vampire hair. This was all fantastically refreshing and reignited my love of the game and the day out with the ever faithful philosopher. It started badly but got a lot better and now it is sputtering a bit but it’s enjoyable and expectations are low. The best thing about it is that it has fuelled the Boy’s interest as a 70 year old Frenchman weren’t cutting it. A big year ahead for the club but let’s keep it real eh?

In the summer we holidayed in England and specifically Cornwall. You probably know this as I blogged it and you might have read it (or simply pretended to in an attempt to boost my fragile ego). We had an absolutely fantastic time and I miss it desperately. I crave the solace, the slower pace, the greenery…. the lack of…. people.

Cornwall has made me realise that I can’t end my days in London as it’s a young person’s place and I want something else. Fear not dear reader, I’d imagine I’ll be here for another decade and a half but I’d like to do proper fuck all surrounded by trees rather than flats and stabbings.

So it’s Christmas and I sit with a white Rioja in my new glass watching the World Darts championship after a lovely afternoon of laughing with my neice and my ex sister in law… The cheese board has just entered the room so I might go Austrian Smoked with a water biscuit.

It’s been a great Christmas and as ever it started on the 1st of the month. I’ve put the work in and have had a good time but there is always room for improvement.

As usual Jen could not give me a clue as to what she wanted. Every year I’m given tasks to find things like a ‘phone which is also a coffee machine’ or a ‘bag which carries a laptop that isn’t a rucksack but looks like one and is a purse’. It’s almost impossible and so she ends up with trinkets rather than epics. I need fuck all. If I haven’t bought already it then I probably don’t need it. Jen sees this as a challenge and always proves me wrong by finding something I had no idea I needed which is now essential to my survival. She’s a genius.

A great but different Christmas though as the kids have now broken completely free from the shackles of Kris Kringle. Heart breaking but a new vibe fills the house, not quite the same but different…. not better. Those kid moments are fucking unreal, almost surreal and I’m glad I recorded them all. However Santa-free or not the traditions continue and will forever… my drum, my rules…

A ‘meh’ year then consisting of 5 pints of blood lost, 3 gigs attended (QOTSA, Arctics and ‘Tragedy’ the world’s #1 metal Bee Gees covers band), 18 audiobooks consumed at 15,000 plus minutes, multiple Arsenal games, gallons of Guinness sunk, 10 Facebook ‘friends’ binned (various reasons all unreasonable), 4 funerals (couldn’t do the 5th…too sad), 1 threat of legal action from my father, 3 blogs, 148km run, thousands of Facebook entries and a crack in my friend base…. and as I always say over Christmas if you didn’t see me it was your fault and not mine… I’m out there in the Guinness trenches for you…’The Others’..

As with all yearly reviews we need to look ahead to next year. What do we want? I simply want to laugh more…..and a new pair of Shure SE215 sound isolation headphones but I have low personal goals… that’s not for you…I get that. Think bigger…..

All tales of woe these days end on Brexit and this one is no different.

In three months we hit the big goodbye square on unless something with brains bursts free from the incubus of Stupid pulsing in Westminster.

I’m ready.

If I’m not eating my words as the pound notes are posted through my letter box and float down the chimney I’ll be drowning in Schadenfruede of 17.4 million as it collapses around our arseholes.

That is my moment.

I will at that point ascend the stairs to my loft lair, shave my swead, strip down and don the Lord Humongous bondage, fur pants and hockey mask (glasses on the outside) to appear to the assembled neighbours outside there burnt out ruins in an apocalyptic landscape from the flat roof above the den of my house to calm the terrified, awe struck horde below:

“Citizens of Barnetonia, today is a new day…a new dawn.

I am Lord Humongous, Warlord of the Coppetts Ward killing fields!!!

Bring me your beans and tins of Del Monte Fruit cocktail and no one will be sacrificed to the God of World Trade Organisation Rules today…

Houses 15, 17, 29, 32, and 39 are now devoid of mixedbloods… they are gone and their homes can be plundered for Vittols and pens…they loved pens, especially blue ones…

All food associated with any land outside of the extensive fishing fields of this island with impenetrable borders must be destroyed by me…. in private. Bring these items to me.

At 1802 hours the Gladiators of the Wastelands ( Pete from number 2 and Rolf from 37) will compete to the death for 7 paracetamol and a stale doughnut….bring forth the champions!!!!

BOW DOWN BEFORE ME FOR I AM YOUR GOD!!!

Oh yeah…at 1850 there will be a puppet show in the scout hut….”

2018…. over and out… rubbish….

“…’Steve’ versus the Gypsy Pirate…”

Minding my own business I was. Just a bloke sitting in a tent on a beach listening to an audiobook. Sitting in a tent due to a sun burnt leg. Just enjoying meself when..

‘BANG!’

..it happens…

A fly shoots up the nose…. right up the bugle, buzzing in panic actually in my head.

For a moment I don’t know whether to blow out or suck back sending the beast to the back of my throat.. an horrendous thought but I guessed it might be quicker than a prolonged snort and I feared the fucker was heading for my eyes on an internal road and then onwards ultimately to my brain.

I panic and fly out the tent in an almost involuntary reaction similar to a moment 20 years ago when, whilst biting on a Finger of Fudge at my desk, my insisor slipped off the chocolatey treat and pierced though the tip of my tongue. My reaction on that occasion was to stand bolt upright and remove my tie at lightning speed while my bleeding tongue flapped out my mouth thus shitting the life out of my colleagues who assume I’ve gone full nutjob from excessive data input.

I burst free of the tent into the light snorting (the right choice) until I expel the insect though my nose at speed.

It flops out on to the sand and to be fair it must be in a right mess mentally as it can’t be nice up there. But what a story for the little fella eh? King of the shitpile…

I clear my hooter and look about after being reborn into public view from the safety of my cocoon.

Poldhu Cove. Sandy with a tributary. Windy. Packed. Everything I hate in one place. But it’s what they wanted… them…’the others’.

It’s the fourth beach I’ve been on this trip and while perfectly acceptable to most easy going people I ain’t having it. The other beaches were outstanding.

This place is a flesh palace. Large quantities of white dimpled flesh can be seen. Us English are a bad visual experience on an English beach particularly in good weather… we just ain’t used to it and so look awkward on it. I’m including myself here. I’m lumpy, not great on the eye and pale and wobbly. It ain’t my bag as I look like ‘Pootle’ from the 70’s classic ‘The Flumps’. Messy.

To be fair I’m not sure what the beach answer is for me. I done them all and find it a dull experience. You have to almost take everything with you as there can be no reliance on facilities especially in the company of Jen as generally we have to find somewhere miles from any other human for the ‘solace’. Once planted up I’m usually trapped for a good 5 hours. I’m a pool man in reality.

The Cornwall beaches have been spectacular though so at least fantastic on my eyeballs with Kynance Cove being particularly brilliant if a bit frantic.

Before Podhu we went to Coverack which was the best beach or cove as it was not overcrowded and was covered in pebbles rather than camera and phone destroying sand. It’s more of a bay really with clear shallow water.

In a moment of unusual interest for this holiday the boy had researched Coverack and discovered that Kayaking is available…..meaning I will be going Kayaking. Reluctantly I head off find my canoe.

My reluctance is only because of my fear of the sea and not like my Dad who was simply reluctant to spend time with kids as somewhere a pub might be open .

I have no place being on the sea. There are things in the sea…. things I don’t like. But as a Dad you have to do shit you don’t want to like this and watching kids football without killing the other parents who know fuck about the game but expect their average kid to be the new Beckham or sitting through appalling music and ballet recitals… it’s your job, it’s what you sign up for.

We find the ‘Kayak and wind surfng centre’ which is a shed run by a salty sea dog with sense of humour all his own.

It’s £25 for the pair of us and I hand over two 20’s receiving £12.50 in change which is par for the course on this trip. We have a smart fucker here so I leave it a minute and engage in some low level communication with said ‘Captain Birdseye’ before I casually highlight his deliberate error by opening my palm and saying ‘you done me here mate’. He knew. He hands over the balance and we move on.

He takes our names and enters them into his book under the time we take out the Kayaks. I’m very clear about my name as I’ve known it for a good 48 and a half years. I even watched him write it down in clear slowly written capitals in the book with his nautical crayon. He did well given his heavy brow and pungency indicating a Cro-Magnon ability with rudimentary tools or marking instruments.

I see my plank of plastic floating nearby and as I’m tentatively entering it I hear Birdseye talking to someone called ‘Steve’ which is a bit odd as he’s looking directly at me but I assume he’s multi tasking or just has wayward inbred eyes.

Birdseye continues with the ‘Steve’ shit. I can’t see anyone vaguely Steve-like in my kayaking area so he must be talking to me. The boy is in hysterics…. he’s cottoned on.

I am now Steve.

I go with it. He’s either taking the piss or thick as a plank. I have no idea what his name is but I thank him for the kayaking advice and call him ‘Doug’. The boy and I paddle off and ‘Doug’ shouts a final tip from the harbour bookended with ‘Steve’…. ‘Cheers Brian’ says I and we head off into the bay.

We have a lovely hour on the water floating about with a ludicrous amount of jellyfish. The water is crystal clear and the boy enjoys himself which is essentially the point.

The big issue hits me six hours later when I realise my exposed legs, whilst cool from the splashes of sea water, are in fact red raw with sun burn hence my tent experience later in the week. After an hour of Dad/Son bonding we head back to port and to Birdseye’s shack.

As I near the harbour wall I (Steve) am bombarded with information from the Jub (Birdseye) seemingly to stop me sinking even though I’ve been happily afloat for an hour. “Cheers Pete” I shout and I give him the thumbs up, the international sign of ‘shut the fuck up… I understand’.

I dock the Kayak and head toward Birdseye to thank him. He calls me ‘Steve’, I call him ‘Duncan’ it was a thing we had….. “see you soon Alan” and we make our way back to the pub for a post Kayak pint…

Coverack is truly lovely and if we come to Cornwall again I’ll definitely stay here. Proper Cornwall…

Of course like all places Cornwall has its faults. There’s the usual greed from shop owners, publicans and restaurateurs which is normal in areas reliant on tourists as like multi millionaire footballers it’s a short career but in Cornwall the big ticket items like The Eden Project tend to disappoint.

The best thing about the Eden Project is the view of the Eden Project. The bubbles or ‘Bio-domes’ look inpressive from the entrance as you look down into the quarry. If you knew in advance you’d take a picture and retirn to the car as after that you’d struggle to entertain anyone there unless you like wandering around B&Q on a Sunday afternoon. Put it this way if B&Q or Homebase had a zip wire they could charge £30 for and they sold Beef Burritos you probably wouldn’t need to go to the Eden Project at all. That being said I reckon it delivers the goods if you were to see a gig there.

I love a good garden centre but I’m generally there to buy something practical like a drill or a BBQ and no matter how many Eden Project staff I asked none of them would or could direct me to ironmongery or the place they kept the fencing.

The main attraction at Eden is the sky platform in the main Bio-dome. Of course when I reach it I’m met by some oxygen thief jobsworth who tells me it is closed as it’s too hot and they will reassess it in three hours.

Nice.

The chances of me being here in three hours are solely reliant on the outbreak of a third World War or perhaps some kind of Zombie apocalypse breaking out.

“Tungsten tipped screws?” I ask “What aisle are they in?”

Nothing. Not a sausage. All I get is the public sector worker mouth breathing stare down the nose of over the glasses.

Kew Gardens it ain’t but it was a great burrito and I had a bottle of Tribute

Another massive disappointment even though I knew it would be was St Ives which was worse than I remember from my previous two visits, once as a bored child and once in bored adulthood.

St Ives is best a seen at night, optimally at two in the morning when there are no people in it because during the day it is like Oxford Street on 23rd December.

It is fucking mobbed. Not only is it banged out with tourists (like me) who randomly stop (unlike me) in the narrow streets to look at stuff they don’t want or need but every one of them seems to own a dog…..a dog you can’t see but can only trip over. It’s like an obstacle course.

The only place I can find to eat is a slightly more upmarket Wetherspoons type boozer but no matter, we are all starving and keen to get out of the river of people flowing around the central harbour.

The tribe grab a table and I head to the bar where I am served by ‘Shauna’ a pleasant overly nourished young girl who’s the most effective barmaid I’ve met. She’s dishes out the drinks and I take the massive A2 menus back to the family so they can choose some deep fried shite.

After not much deliberation the choices are made and I settle on the simplistic Fish Finger Sandwich as it would appear to be impossible to mess that up.

I don’t know a lot about cooking but I know something. A piece of battered cod in a brioche bun ain’t a fish finger sandwich unless you are wearing a waxed beard, tight trousers that don’t fit and are supping on an overpriced unpalatable craft beer.

And here is the problem. Nothing is normal anymore. Everything is twisted and tweaked to give it a contemporary edge. What happened to a sesame seed bun? Why is every burger delivered in a waxed paper wrapper and a sweet brioche bun. It’s like eating a steak in a doughnut. A fish Finger sandwich must be one of the simplist dishes known man let alone the grubby hands of any Pub franchise cook with half a brain.

I blame cow tongued Pillsbury doughboy mockney Jamie Oliver who seems incapable of opening a tin of beans and toasting some bread without calling it a ‘guerrilla artisan pulse and sourdough fusion’. Prick.

After chopping off 4 inches of fish so my dinner fits in the doughnut I chow down, wipe my mush and we leave to fight our way back through the hordes towards the place you pick up what appears to be a mobility bus returning us to a parked car 20 minutes away. ‘Park and ride’ the trigger sentence meaning ‘don’t stop here, it’s banged out’. Jen piles on the bus like a good Londoner. She’s worked out the seating / person ratio and it looks tight give the wheelchairs and crutches from the assembled mob. She’s wheeling people out the way, slashing tyres and generally chucking kids over her shoulder to get on…. top girl. We chug up the hill at below walking pace but make it before any of the lame die in transit.

St Ives is a like a pretty Penzance for the wealthy. Like the Tate Gallery it so well publicises it looks good but it is filled with nothing of note.

Cornwall is really all about the land not the trinkets of capitalism.

The Lizard Peninsula and Lands End are so naturally beautiful that they only need teashops and benches for the punters to use. You could sit there for hours and soak up the scenery and the history and I’m glad the kids did and enjoyed it.

Most impressive on the sightseeing tour of the Wild West was the Minack, an outdoor theatre carved out of the side of a cliff. The stage is tiny and is positioned at the bottom of the the cliff itself backing on to a wide expanse of ocean. The seating is literally carved into the sheer rock. It must be quite the spectical to see a play there particularly at night but as this is England that would be impossible unless you had booked it two years in advance and want a restricted view so I’ll either have to return of just dream of it. Seriously though it’s truly magnificent and I would thoroughly recommend a visit.

Anyway I’m not Judith Chalmbers so it’s best I quit the tourism blog and get back the reason I started this stuff. The character assassination of the public….the piss taking and what better place to finish than at ‘The Poncing Pony’.

I went to this local pub on five occasions over our two week stay. On every occasion ‘Jerry’, the wide mouthed Tory, was in attendance with his Chardonnay and ice.

My penultimate visit was on a Tuesday in the early evening and I only went because the kids had become fascinated with this local punter lite pub.

I go there before the kids because if it’s busy I’ll stand them down. I’m not a great believer of kids in pubs as they are adult environments but if, as I suspect, it’s near empty I’ll let them know so they can come over.

I walk in and wait at the bar to be served. I take a look about and in the prime window seat sits Jerry and the local Tory association. The table is littered with fruit juice and half pints of bitter and of course the iced white wine. Jerry sits in the middle of the throng like a white haired, loud mouthed messiah spewing forth stories of inflated harbour costs and failed bin collections. Around him the mob, reminiscent of the cast of ‘Are you being served?’ nod seriously and tap the table. This is local village stuff and me, a mere Londoner, would have no concept of the importance of self watering hanging baskets or the state of the pavement by the war memorial. One thing I’m certain of is that Jezza is the boss, when he talks window boxes get replanted or people die it’s that simple.

I turn back to the bar and see the Spinster in waiting barmaid walking in my direction with a pint. Good grief, I’ve made such an impression that this blond angel has identified my liking for Stella Artois ‘4’ a weakened version of the classic punching juice. I extend my hand, crack a cocky smile and wait for her to deliver the goods to my tiny pixie paw however she walks past me and plonks the drink down at a vacant space at the bar.

Bit rude. Could be her boss eyes….

The space is then filled by the David Essex spinster creating Boatman from the week before. He leans on the bar at his bespoke disturbing angle and is a little bit too close to me for my liking. Us Londoners like a bit of personal space and this fucker is now in my fighting / drinking arc which due to him being in it is now renamed the ‘stroker zone’.

I remain looking ahead at the bar but can feel the bloke staring at the side of my head. I turn sideways and look at him and after an uncomfortable silence I give him the traditional Cockney greeting of ‘Alright?’ which can mean ‘how are you?’ or ‘what the fuck are you looking at?’

He’s confident, I mean look at the vest, and the guns and the size of him. Look at the stubble and the David Essex barnet. He’s got it all going on for a Gypsy Pirate in a Cornish Tory Brexiteer village. I am merely a bloke with a ‘Dad bod’ looking for a swift pint before me dinner.

‘You need serving’ he says.

For a fraction of a second I prepare for a punch up. ‘Getting served’ is an old expression for receiving a good hiding but I take stock and realise that he literally means it as he gestures towards the barmaid who trots over like a good puppy to her master.

‘Please serve this man, he’s tense and needs a drink’

‘Tense?’ says I, ‘why’s that?’ and I turn to face the smirking knobber.

‘You’re drumming your fingers on the bar’

‘And mate?….I’m tapping my foot but I’m not singing a song’

We stare at each other for an awkwardly uncomfortable time before the barmaid intervenes and asks me what I would like. I turn to her and politely ask for a Stella ‘4’ and she obliges. I root for the necessary coinage and hand it over. The Gypsy Pirate ain’t done though.

‘Is that it? Bit boring..’ he says looking at the side of my head again. I take a sip and turn to face him. I smile and start to play with my phone. He’s clearly looking for a problem but as I’m just a tourist staying 20 steps from this pub I let him have his ‘big fish in a small pond moment’ and ignore him.

Jerry and the table of the dead have gone silent watching this interaction. I’d imagine when you are head of a Hamlet reliant on trade from us London mugs and the locals are keen to embarrass them you might need to take some action…. perhaps a keel hauling is in order or 100 lashes in a barn delivered by ‘Limpy Joe’ the local Oaf.

With perfect timing the kids walk in and we take a seat and play cards for a bit.

The Gypsy Pirate sits alone looking like a bit of a plum as I go to the bar to book a table for our last night in a couple of days.

The spinster in waiting barmaid does the honours for me and when she asks for my name for the booking she say ‘Jon?…wow!!! Amazing!!’.. I’m still trying to work that out…Maybe they heard I was ‘Steve’…

The last night looms and the tribe and I attend the Pony for the last time. It’s packed out and the bar is busy. There is no hint of the Gypsy Pirate but Jerry is in attendance and he smiles at me when I go to the bar. Fair enough…

We have a great meal, it’s actually better than any food I had during a two week period the previous year in Portugal and I will TripAdvisor review it appropriately.

I can rip the piss out of people as much as I like but I tip my hat to a community pub in a tiny village who delivered the goods and more for our final night.

It was a great holiday and it would bring me back to this part of Cornwall in an instant. The bad parts were the bigger places where you could almost be anywhere. I got to see me Bruv in his festive house for a few hours which was lovely and we all relaxed completely before the franticness of Autumn which is usually a busy work period.

There was the disappointment of Flambards (a sort of Margate type amusement park) but the majesty of St Michael’s Mount which the difficulty in imagining how it was built was only forgotten when I spotted a bloke with no neck married to a woman with no chin. The scenery was breathtaking and the beaches were clean with the weather mostly playing its part.

We were sad to leave but after 1300 miles, 800 photos, relentless pisstaking out of me by the kids and a 10 hour drive back I returned to the groove in my sofa happy and refreshed and prepared for the winter and ultimately Christmas.

I’m still seething from the Bacon and egg McMuffin debacle though…I’ll have that bloke in this world or the next…

“..Tales from The Poncing Pony …”

Regular readers will be fully aware that I’m not a Summer person. I’m happier in my ‘woman repelling fleece’ quaffing Rouge from a bowl before the embers of a roaring fire while snow smashes the window. However even I would be hard pushed to moan about the Summer of 2018.

Sweating… hourly. Roasting….daily. Sweltering….constantly….

This has been the best weather I can recall as an adult. Outstanding stuff if you ain’t working in it or travelling on the underground in a suit where you can feel the sweat running down your legs and you can smell the other pigs quashed in the carriage with you.

Anyway to counteract the outstanding weather we decided this year to holiday in England which will inevitably mean that I will be locked in a country cottage watching ‘Freeview’ on a blurred Grundig TV in the pissing rain while writing this shit to entertain about 8 people.

Last year we went to Portugal and stayed in a high end resort. As lovely as it was it was ludicrously expensive and essentially dull with the four of us simply frying by a pool drinking and eating. The kids were bored and so were we so a more active holiday was called for.

In keeping with the tradition of recent years this year it was right any proper that we spent our filthy lucre in England and so we headed west to what is essentially Middle Earth… Cornwall.

As a child I regularly went to Cornwall. We never went abroad, I don’t know why as money seemed freely available for the old man to ram down the throat of a number of publican but it just didn’t happen. We seemed to always go to Falmouth or Hayle or somewhere grey near the end of the country.

As an adult I’ve only been here once before. It was grey and a long way away however we dived in as I think it’s important to let the kids see this country and I’m happy to pay to promote it.

The night before the off I’m press ganged into setting off by 0600 to ‘get ahead of the traffic’. As expected I’m the only mug up at 0530 and I spend the next 3 hours waiting for the rest of my mob to sort themselves out. We finally leave with the car crammed with stuff and 4 bikes hanging off the back and we are away…. no one looks back as we all need to be out of London for a bit..

Off we trot on what turns out to be a very benign journey of about 6 hours. The only turd in the water pipe was the mouth breathing monosyllabic acne king at a drive-thru McDonald’s who thinks a Double Sausage McMuffin with Cheese and a white coffee is in fact a single Bacon McMuffin and a black coffee. This lack of care on the customer front is exactly how Nazi Germany started. I won’t forget him… I’ll remember his face forever. This aggression will not stand.

Five hours later when I’ve just about finished moaning about the McMuffin debacle we arrive at our end destination which appears to essentially be Hobbiton.

Manaccan (pronounced Ma-knack-an) is a tiny little village with about 200 residents. It has a village pub and a cafe but fuck all else other than a church which might as well be another house to my heathen eyes. All the houses have names rather than numbers and ours is no exception. No numbers tell me that we are either in the land of the wealthy or the stupid…. judging by the Range Rover’s evident I’m going for the stupidly wealthy.

To describe our accommodation as ‘twee’ would be an understatement. It’s cosy with a capital ‘C’….a bit like staying in your Nan’s house or the old 70’s fair ground favourite ‘The crooked house’.

I walk in and bang my head on the frame of the first door I walk through. I bounce up the stairs and bang my head, when I reach the main bedroom I walk in and bang my head on the frame. I do this again as I leave the room.

I’ve always considered myself to be a fine specimen of manhood but tall I ain’t and so my brain cannot deal with door frames that are 5’8″ high even after several cracks to the head. For the next 2 days I continue to smash my swead on the frames through the house and even do it twice in a 15 second burst when I enter a room to pick up and put on a cap. The Eternal struggle of man versus conditioned brain…

As I’m unloading the car I notice that the local pub is a mere 24 seconds from my front door. I’ve checked this place out online prior to arrival so I knew it was close but this is a welcome surprise as even when it inevitably rains I could be within it with out reaching a state of external moistness.

After sorting ourselves out we head over to the pub or ‘community pub’ (the locals purchased and run it themselves) for some dinner. This boozer is called ‘The New Inn’ but in keeping with its Tolkien-esque surroundings let’s call it ‘The Poncing Pony’.

A ‘Community Pub’. I should have seen it coming right? I stride all London-like into the tiny bar area which is crammed with Jubs to find the loud conversation drop considerably. I care not a jot, I’m a professional. Without saying a word it’s like I’ve pointed at the pentagram on the wall and said ‘What’s that?’ just like in that scene in ‘American Werewolf’. Shifty eyes check me out as I wait my turn and after a couple of minutes I’m served by a buck toothed, lazy eyed young girl clearly in a relationship with her cousin.

I purchase a round of drinks for a ludicrously cheap price (I’ll never be charged the same price for any drink again in this place) and I book a table for dinner.

We have an adequate meal and all seems well, the bar area is busy and the service was alright even if she did try to add the drinks I purchased in cash to the food bill. I explained to the waitress that this was incorrect with slow London malevolence and she realises her error and backs away from the table returning with the correct bill. This place will do for now…. or so I thought. (As you can imagine Dear Reader, this venue will feature prominently throughout this effort).

I’ve always preferred Cornwall over Devon. To me, Devon is pretty in a manufactured way whereas Cornwall is naturally beautiful. Manaccan epitomizes Cornwall as it is all original and the age is visible. Age oozes out of every building as my sore head will testify.

To start the week we travel to a place I spent a lot of holidays in as a child. Falmouth.

Falmouth is perfectly acceptable as a port town. Lots of shops and boats to look at, a few pubs and all the locals are wearing Musto sailing clothing. I get it. These are people of the ocean… it’s Atlantis before the disaster. My issues are all based on childhood memories.

As a kid we were constantly taken to Falmouth as the old man liked the British Legion there. We would trot up in the pissing rain and Dad would enter the Legion leaving us in the street with Mum looking over his shoulder in a ‘see you later’ kinda way. It was then down to Mum to entertain us in a town a long way from what it is today. Hard times.

It was also the place where my parents had a full blown barney in a shop over my father’s insistence on purchasing a hot plate so Mum could cook burgers from a beach hut. As expected my Mum gave him the ‘fuck off’ tablet which was taken badly by the nutjob as he saw it as a challenge to his authority. Falmouth although decent enough in this century ain’t for me as it brings on the sweats.

Then there was Penzance.

We breeze towards Penzance without a care in the world. It appears to be ‘Anytown UK ‘ from a distance but when you reach the centre it turns like a lame dog gagging on a rancid bone…. it’s rotten to its core.

We do a circuit of the area and end up in a car park to the back of what it ludicrously described as a ‘shopping centre’. The kids are hungry so we decide to stop for some form of food no doubt deep fried or made of meat blastings surrounded in pastry as I’ve seen some of the limpy residents shuffling about and fruit and veg doesn’t seem to be a priority.

I brief the kids and Jen on the raid we are about to undertake, we ‘lock and load’ and tentatively leave the safety of the car and head directly to the shopping hub like Rick Grimes in ‘The Walking Dead’ escaping from another failed utopian safehouse.

As expected there are no decent shops but a series of cut price efforts where Haribo buckets, cheap biscuits and Carling black label are prominent and at discount prizes.

Also prolific within the local female community is the forearm tattoo. There’s nothing wrong with tattoed ladies in fact it’s quite alluring but the forearm tattoo generally smacks of Holloway Prison strongarm…. particularly when paired with smoking, no teeth and a can of Stella. It’s a popular look here along with the limp, the wheelchair Goth and the bandaged arm… the lame control Penzance.

We bowl into a tourist version of Greggs for the first pasty of the holiday. It’s hard as a dog’s head and has a smattering of ‘meet’ randomly scattered within its molten innards. The Cornish spend eons telling us, the stupid non Cornish speaking masses, what constitutes a Cornish pasty and when you have one you realise that they are fairly dull heart stoppingly stodgy affairs that whether eaten in Greggs, Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s or even in a Ginsters wrapper it matters not one jot…. it is merely meant to cover your heart like a boiler blanket. They are shit.

The proper kick in the plums though was that after our purchase the toothless Rothmans experiment behind the ramp sold everything else for half price…. the London accent curse has taken hold. No matter…. we’re minted, pasties for everyone!!

As we head back to the car I realise we are walking with some locals and it strikes me that anyone passing through will see me as part of this mess…. I am one of them, I am a Penzancian to the eyes of those sharp enough to accelerate through the town rather than stop within it.

For every Penzance and Helston (meh) there is a Helford, Cadgwith, Coverack and Kyance Cove. These places are outstandingly beautiful and deserve a visit. Kyance Cove must be one of the most impressive places I’ve ever visited and Helford is so peaceful you could see yourself living there in your final year. These villages are the Cornwall you should expect.

Upon returning from Penzance Jen decided that we needed to go on a walk. Great. These ‘walks’ are infamous within the small confines of this family as Jen tends to insist they happen with no actual plan. Off you go in a flip-of-a-coin direction where you could end up lost or miles away. The kids and I do a lot of general walking but Jen doesn’t so she sees it as a necessity even though the other three of us don’t require it.

We set off from our base and immediately hit a long road heading downwards. Down at the beginning indicates a massive climb on the return normally but not in the head of my missus. She seems to think that this drop will result in a flat lovely walk. I get this a lot.

To be fair it’s a lovely first part of a walk as we discover a road which runs the length of Gweek Creek. It’s a fairly flat trot adjacent to a river with some marvellous views. This road reaches a tiny hamlet where you can dock your boat but there’s little else there bar the road out which is almost vertically up. I plead with any local I can find to see if they can find a helicopter or a sherpa but they simply laugh and point to the cemetery. We are on our own. Us and the north face of what is known to me now as ‘that fucking road’.

We start the ascent and the clouds gather.

About half way up we get light drizzle but this is just a sample of what is to come. The climb out of this village is far greater than the intrepid Jennifer had envisaged so we are spread out like an army platoon along the road when the proper rain, the Irish double penetration wetness sideways rain hits.

As you may know I’m a sucker for outdoor clothing. I’m the Gore Tex and Hyvent king. I am rarely seen without my women repellent fleece so this weather should cause no significant problems. This would be true if I were wearing the North Face tri-climate breathable waterproof/windproof jacket retailing at £170 from all good outdoor clothing retailers but that monster is hanging on a coat hook in a twee cottage three miles away. I’m currently wearing a Berghaus fleece with the absorbancy of a high quality sponge. I run to the base of a large oak tree in a country road for some low level shelter.

I am sodden. There is no hat so my freshly shorn hair makes me look bald. My glasses are steamed up and the fleece is heavy with rain so the sleeves appear to be hanging loose past my hands making me look like an escaped mental patient with a loosened straight jacket.

I wait under the tree for my lost tribe and they appear over the top of the ascent. They came more prepared than me and all three are wearing sub quality waterproof jackets with those two small, skin tight hoods completely done up revealing only the eyes and nose. They look like 3 bowling pins in human form. They meet me under the tree. We look a right mess. We stand there for 10 minutes shivering and a few cars pass by delivering the ‘Cornwall wave’ that you must reciprocate or cause some kind of local incident. A wave of this kind in London would be seen as a challenge or the opening gambit in some kind of knuckle or simply ‘taking the piss’ but here it means ‘friend’ or ‘look at those sad sodden bastards under that tree…poor fuckers’.

We return to the house in blistering sunshine. I’m so wet that I’m literally steaming from the fleece… truly horrible. I shower and change and head to The Poncing Pony for a low level pint to gather my thoughts.

I arrive to a fanfare in my head. The place is empty bar the barman and one other individual who clearly thinks he’s in charge of this village. This is it. This is the moment I start to plan the takeover. This bloke is my Balrog but I ain’t no wizard…. I’m Stryder…. the watcher…the future King.

I rock up at the bar and confidently order a flat lager as I’m all about consistency and that was the shit they slopped up previously. I then sit away from the Balrog and listen…. always listening…

He’s a big man but he’s out of shape. He oozes Tory wealth in retirement and he’s supping on a Pinot Grigio…no wait can’t be Pinot as this titan would see that as ‘too modern….too Blairite’. I’m going Chardonay and due to too many nights in the South of France he’s whacked a couple of ice cubes in it.

He’s mid 60’s with a fine head of white hair. He’s well spoken but he literally has a big mouth, almost a flip top head, and appears to be directing his conversation to some other bloke in a different village such is the gravitas of his baritone.

I eye him up. Could be ex-military. I’ve come across his type before. I was once searching a house in Bray where the owner went all ex Sandhurst authoritarian and got slaughtered on the spot by an irate Scotsman holding a search warrant (“you might think this is your house but this piece of paper says it’s mine until we leave so shut your noise”…. one of the great lines). This geezer is the sort of bloke who has his family tree on the wall with the military medals from Grandpapa in a case. Nothing wrong with that I suppose if you are a ponce.

We’ll call this bloke ‘Jerry’. It’s probably ‘Sir Jeremy St John Haverstock Arbuthnot VC’ but we’ll go with Jerry for now to keep it flowing. He’s clearly the big cheese in this small town as the barman is all reverential in his company. Jerry spouts on about boats he owns and community stuff that I couldn’t care less for but I listen as a weakness is imminent….a chink in the armour which will mean I can run this place before I leave, then we’ll see how much a flat lager will cost Jez….then we’ll only serve Pinot and Hock with no ice cubes, we’ll wipe you out son…

At Jerry’s feet lies a big black Labrador called ‘Biggles’… he’s clearly RAF without any combat. The dog has seen better days. It drools and limps about much like Jerry’s wife who has appeared in the bar for a pre dinner drink with the old fucker. She’s all pearls and a secret Gin stash in the downstairs toilet cistern. It helps with coping with the poncitude of Jerry.

Punters start to dribble in for the early session in the company of ‘The Guv’nor’.

First up we have an old bloke in cut off denims and camouflage gaiters. He’s late 50’s and is clearly a man of the soil. He orders a flat bitter and engages in some back slapping, cock measuring guffawing with Jerry about how they have probably bought this pub two times over since gaining control of it. It’s all jolly good stuff presumably for my benefit as I’m the only non local Jub in the room. The whip out pictures of boats and start some bawdy chat with a young barmaid who’s appeared from the cellar.

A couple of younger blokes turn up. These boys ooze David Essex boatmen, a ‘a girl in every lock, if it’s got a backbone I’ll do it’ types. Long hair, working vests, rugged men of the river with a twinkle in the eye. One of them is so fucking cool that he leans against the bar at a bizarre angle while gazing into the young barmaids eyes. He must have 20 years on her but this means nothing as once he’s done his dirty business she will be cast aside quicker than it takes to add the notch to the headboard of the bed on his barge. She’ll just be a rating then… nothing more, nothing less but she will be staring out along the river for the next 30 years wondering when he will return…’My pirate’ the last words uttered from the lonely spinsters lodge….tragic.

The boatmen start knocking back the flat ale like pros and Jerry ain’t liking it. You can see the officers mess disgust in his flip top head.

Boatman number one pops outside for a ‘burn’ (prison parlance I believe) and Jerry eyes him suspiciously. The smell of cigarette smoke wafts into the bar which doesn’t particularly bother me as I’ve drunk in some right shitholes back in the days when ashtrays were on tables. Jerry ain’t having it though. He forcefully demands a glass of tap water from the spinster in waiting as ‘the cigarette smoke is over powering’ and is ‘destroying’ his throat. Calm down son. He takes the water and heads out to confront the Boatman.

It then all becomes apparent to me. These Cornwall based Tory Brexiteers don’t actually want me here or anyone here. They only want locals. They don’t want the transient Boatmen, they want the village to be self sufficient. This probably was a nice local boozer but like so many in these small villages a small trigger made the locals gang up on it to get it shut. It could have been a change in owner, a change in bitter or even a change to the recipe of the Sunday roast Yorkshire pudding but as they hold the aces in the form of constant local punditry they can end it for anyone by slowly not attending. Its why it’s a low level community pub and not a proper pub.

To reinforce my theory a proper local local walks in.

She has the forearms of someone fully capable of snapping a crippled lambs neck and she’s wearing a homemade poncho which smells of hay. She must be well known as no one has told her that her teeth look like a burnt down fence and if you are going into a pub you need to buy a drink and not just turn up for a chat.

She has a right mouth on her and the locals flock to her dulcet tones. She asks the assembled punters if they have used the new Chinese restaurant in the next town. One on the gathered says he likes it and mouth talks him down with a tale of a 10 minute wait for a table resulting in her letting the owner know that if he didn’t sort it out:

‘word would get out and we could end it for you’.

These were the actual words. A microcosm of the current state of the country. Do what we want or we’ll royally fuck you and ourselves.

I nearly said something but thought I’d bide my time….5 days left to take control of this place. Either that or I’m striding toward a wicker effigy shouting ‘Jesus Christ NO!!!’

Next time I’ll be ranting about the worlds biggest garden centre and recounting the advice for ‘Steve’ from a salty sea dog.

“..The difficult 33rd blog…”

I’ve not written a blog for seven months partly due to apathy and ‘bloggers block’ but mainly because I couldn’t decide what to write it about.

I had grandiose ideas about all sorts of stuff none of it remotely interesting or funny and as ‘funny’ was the point of the thing in the first place I decided to not bother.

Initially I was going to write a blog about the magnificence of women both in general and through personal experience.

I was inspired by that story in January about the charity dinner held by ‘The Presidents Club’, an organisation which seems to be a bit of a plaything for toffee nosed tweed jacket and jeans wearing ‘Top Gear’ mouth breathers called ‘Bunty’ or ‘Nigel Sinjun Biffa III’. These are the men who can’t or won’t actually talk to women other than to request ‘bitty’ or engage in some perfunctory missionary position coitus before returning to a darkened room to write their memoirs of boarding school dormitory buggerings that made them the ‘men’ they think they are.

The event in question was exposed by a well meaning female reporter who infiltrated the waiting staff to see close up the gropings and ‘phnarr phnarr’ that occurred.

The problem was that it turned out to be a bit of a nothing story where most of the outrage came from the reporter rather than the staff in attendance who were clearly there for the money and seemingly in total control of this rabble of touchy feely strokers who are certain to to say things like ‘I could have shagged her y’know’ in the cab home when the possibility was only in their heads and more remote than your missus when you return from a stag weekend in Amsterdam.

I was going to wax lyrical about the strength of the women that I know and love and how that men are now the weaker sex resigned to beard oil, feelings, pale ale, Ed Sheeran albums, Jack Johnson wicker beach hats and jeans that don’t reach the loafers.

I’m the middle of writing this painfully earnest blog (earnestness being my most hated emotion as I always assume the deliverer is taking the piss) I noticed a Facebook post from a female friend of mine who lives abroad. This post appeared to indicate that she was in London and so in an attempt to call her bluff (as I didn’t believe it) I suggested that she meet me near where I work which is an undisclosed location near Holborn (it’s Holborn).

Within half an hour I was sitting with her in a coffee shop owned by dyslexic Brazilian serving such delights as ‘chess and picle’ sandwiches and piping hot ‘Lates’ having a lovely chat about the old times and the better times. She had called my bluff proving that she was still the funny, intelligent, magnificently gorgeous person I had met nearly 30 years ago.

We had a great half hour chat where we reminisced and caught up and just after she told me I had a ‘hard face’ (honesty, another great attribute) she asked me if I had a blog in the pipeline and so I told her of my plan to be the defender of womankind and to praise my sisters….

….it was at that second that I had a moment of clarity….

Who, and particularly the woman I intended on praising, would give an actual fuck what I thought? Why would anyone give a fuck? My arrogance was staggering.

I went home and consigned my 2,500 words draft to the ‘things that should never be made public’ file and rightly so.

Why would anyone want to know what a bloke with the body of a tin of beans, the vocabulary of a sailor with tourettes and the short fuse of a Doberman with an elastic band around the cobblers thinks about women? All the women I know are better than me on most levels excluding locations of headers I have scored and Van Halen knowledge.

I’ve reported to some outstanding women in my job who had less chips on their shoulders than the men of similar rank, my Mum was a better role model than my Dad, Jen is a stronger individual than I am and my Daughter is funnier than me. Unless there’s a war men are finished…. and even then most wars are carried out at arms length through technology and I’m certain women can press buttons in the necessary order or more importantly choose not to push them at all.

It’s over men, move on, it’s a women’s world and thats probably about right….. we blew it.

So, what to blog about?

My life supporting Arsenal and the kamikaze death dive of the arrogant Frenchman?

No one cares….. not even me…

This blog has limited viewings and is only completed to keep my brain active and to make its five followers occasionally chuckle. My opinion on the Arsenal would immediately halve my readership and would make the completed joke free effort even more or a waste of time.

What then? Ok….. standby…

This blog is about the absolute stinking shithouse that has been the last 9 years of my life.

I’m not talking for everyone, as some people have had a fuckin’ right laugh but I’ve found 40 – 49 to be a monumental catastrophe on a number of levels.

Deaths, illness, loneliness, friendships, work, social life, football, music (God the music). It stunk the place out.

(Hmmm… fear not sweet reader, these musings must have humour or I’ve failed so stay with me)

Obviously this won’t be in depth but merely a rapid ride down shit creek with a snapped paddle, a slow puncture and a half empty water canteen.

My 30’s were outstanding. Absolutely crammed with standout moments. It was the peak decade, football was great, the Arsenal were dominant, the music was legendary, I saw my mates every weekend. It was absolutely top notch and a fantastic laugh from beginning to end. My kids were born in that decade and so it’s the most memorable and importamt one to date.

I celebrated my 30th birthday with a house party where all my mates attended whereas my 40’s started with a low level effort in a pub. It was a portent of things to come. The start of the long slowdown into middle age.

The real trigger has been children.

Kids are great and I’d do anything for them but they become all consuming and change you and your lifestyle forever. It’s not even just you, the roll-on effect is total. You are housebound due to kids and so are your mates who have them. When you can socialise they can’t and vice versa. The bundles of joy are now in control and they can’t even speak. It takes about 14 years to free the shackles and even then you sit in restaurants in the brief moments of adulthood as a couple wondering if the kids are ok.

This, of course, isn’t the same for everyone. Normal people can rely on babysitters within their functional families. I couldn’t. My parents were engaged in a bitter war with each other and pretty much everyone else they came into contact with which included myself.

I was charged for childcare and babysitting for some reason even when my brother wasn’t and so eventually you just become resentful and don’t bother going out. I recall in 2011 only going out with Jen on our own twice that year and on the second occasion I was phoned after three hours and asked how long I was going to be…. pointless if you are staring at a clock pretending to enjoy yourself.

Now don’t get me wrong….I love kids. Kids enhance your life but in retrospect. They change your life in countless positive ways but they also have a detrimental effect on your relationship with the person you chose to have the kids with in the first place. Your relationship suffers as you are no longer a couple but become two individuals dealing with a complete change of circumstance… you lose each other in the carnage.

This isn’t a ‘woe is me’ story or a cry for help but just an example of how fuckin dull my 40’s have been through my own actions of impregnation.

I have a high proportion of friends without children and I now realise why they don’t. I’m not saying I’d want to go back in time as I’ve always wanted to have kids but their lives are infinitely better than mine.

I recall the freedom being incredible, the ability to do what you want when you want. It’s not even selfish as was once thought, it’s normal. Why would anyone really, deep down in the darkest parts of their mind want the drudgery of parenthood when they are free to properly live?

Of course the answer is the daily reward of being a parent. The smile, the laugh or the hug is enough to realise why you did choose it.

Then there’s the social aspect of parenting. In simple terms there isn’t any. Your mates with no kids socialise with your other mates with no kids, (who can blame them?) and you attempt to socialise with other people with kids but it’s almost impossible as calendars can’t be synchronised and even if you manage that, kids craving attention are still present. There is no possibility of stimulating adult conversation without some form of kid related trauma happening at some point so it makes the whole enterprise pointless and in the end you just stop arranging anything at all.

I still pop out for a beer with some hard core merchants but the great nights in pubs with Jen are seemingly long gone for now as is the ‘Band of Brothers’ you spent the previous decades creating.

Parenting is a lonely pursuit for the two parents. You and your partner have no time for each other and your mates dwindle due to circumstance. I’ve found the last 10 years a very lonely time due to an end to a vibrant social life and the inability to arrange stuff due to a lack of babysitting options and the demands of children…. maybe this is a ‘woe is me’ cry for help after all.

The other thing the 40’s brought me in spades was death, illness and misery. An absolutely fucking joyless decade in my life.

My Mother and my mother-in-law both died too early, the tramua of a seriously ill partner and three friends died (two of which were killed). Every year of my forties brought another massive personal hurdle to overcome in the head if not completely outwardly for the general public to view.

I know this happens with age and so expect it to get worse but this was the beginning of a life cycle for me and I’ve never really come to terms with any of it. I still don’t care much for remembering it, being reminded of it or talking about it in depth but I’m forever surrounded and haunted by it. It is my ghost.

I suppose I feel I’ve had my fair share for one life even though that is selfish and stupid as more tragedy will inevitably come.

So what is next, what does my 5th decade bring and will it be different? Are working and getting older all there is?

Of course not….well, I hope not.

There is always light beyond this faux middle class gloom which isn’t really gloom at all but is more the selfish, whining ramblings of a North London ponce. I have however been afflicted by the first signs of male aging.

There are many signs that age is upon you. The classic is not being able to last the night without a pee as the prostate slackens. I don’t suffer from that yet but I have reached the ‘dozing off at 9pm’ stage, the hairy pig-like ears needing constant attention stage, the ‘this drill is the problem’ phase and the purchase of the £25 Fiskars professional watering can stage for a ‘better watering experience’…..utter shit, all of it…. particularly the watering can which never worked and now sits idle like a totem of a lost decade.

Then there’s the clothing. I’ve never oozed sartorial elegance and never will mainly because I see it as irrelevant and my body won’t sign up to it. The best you’ll get from me is an ill fitting suit of maybe the ‘Dad classic’ of shirt with v-neck combo. Basically conservative candidate dull.

Outside of that, I’m usually found mincing about in the cruelly named ‘women repellent fleece’, t-shirt, jeans and some form of mountain climbing jacket for my non active, non mountain climbing life.

The greatest age definer comes in the form of denim. Jeans. At what point do you desist and jump the beige slacks train to certain death?

I’ve done all the jeans, the lot. All shapes and shades and none have fitted me due to my barrelesque carriage and hobbit legs which simply will not accomodate the hipster skinny efforts that don’t reach the ankle. I tried some skinny jeans on once, I thought the kids would die laughing. It was truly horrendous with my junk seemingly visible within them…. it scared me.

The hunt for new jeans is endless and recently culminated in me going full circle to buy ‘Wrangler’ which I assumed had been extinct since Tony Blair walked like a cowboy in the company of George ‘Dubya’ Bush in the 1990’s. Fucking ‘Wrangler’!!! No one wears these… next thing you know I’ll be wearing ‘Lee’ Jeans with a turn up, a capped sleeve t-shirt and some sort of satin finished blouson bomber jacket.

The end is nigh.

Then I engaged in the ultimate old man moment, the sign that you are on your last lap with the dangerous corner not to be taken at top speed.

It was a hot day and I was working locally to my house. I finished earlier than expected and so made my way home. I got off at bus stop which is directly outside a new low budget pub. For some reason I was drawn in to it like a pisshead looking for a chow mein.

I head that way and bowl in confidently and clock everyone as my job trained me to do.

The interior of ad hoc furniture and stainless steel doesn’t put me off and neither does the clientele which seems absolutely shitfaced at four o’clock in the afternoon and consists of men splattered in plaster and paint all drinking individually at a rollicking pace.

I am unphased by the random pensioners scattered throughout who appear to be here simply for warmth (even on a hot day), company and cheap fayre and head to the bar to peruse the options. A frosty pint of Kronenberg at a paltry £2.80 leaps out at me and the Jub behind the ramp delivers the goods.

I take a seat at a high stool near the bar with my headphones on listening to a book I’m too lazy to read in my woman repellent fleece (not a problem as no women are present) and my outward bound coat for my city based life, in my 1970’s shapeless Wrangler jeans and my top end urban rucksack containing fuck all bar an umbrella on a cloudless day and I watch the punters with a view to taking the piss out of them for my amusement.

And then it hits me.

I am one of them. I have become one of the lonely Wetherspooners even after only one visit. I have been assimilated into a world of cheap booze and low rank British curry within seconds.

This wasn’t a fact finding exercise or research, I actually chose to walk in this boozer for a beer….. on my own. I’m not waiting for a train, or killing time before meeting someone or even buying a pint to use the toilet (I won’t use a pub toilet without buying something…. it’s cheating), I seem to have walked into a pub on my own for a drink for no other reason than to have a pint. The Wetherspoon Paradox.

This is something I promised I would never do as it was the old man’s thing and therefore not my thing. I have always made drinking a social event not a solitary pursuit…. to me it’s about laughing and merriment rather than brooding, thinking and the need for booze. I have crossed the Rubicon into old age. Drinking alone with no excuse other than a taste for it is the starting point and may be for some but it aint for me. Next thing you know I’ll be standing at the bar, in a raincoat with a ball of corned beef for a nose sipping on Gold Label Barley wine complaining about everything being better ‘in my day’.

I finish the beer (I’m not completing insane), and leave. I can’t be starting all that shite yet, life must continue and be made to improve.

I see this as the culmination of the decade of dilution where you’re vibrant past is punished for having such a great time in previous decade.

As I said earlier the ‘Band of Brothers’ I was part of has effectively disbanded, through geography, parenthood and in some cases apathy to be replaced with a smaller ‘Specialist force’ operating in smaller theatres of war after work or at football matches.

This team is still gloriously effective and for that I’m grateful. Occasionally the old squad reforms for special events but it’s too infrequent for my liking and so weakens the memory of the glory it once had. An inevitable scenario maybe but I don’t have to like it.

Now this all sounds very grim and I know I sound bitter. I’m not bitter I’m just a bit sad the joy of parenthood seems to go this way, a sort of ‘Walking Dead’ lockdown where little gets in and you don’t get out much.

I wouldn’t change anything about being a parent directly to the kids other than them having to witness Jen being ill and seeing my Mum suffer, that’s was all too traumatic for small brains to take in. But if I could start again I’d insist on more fun for Jen and I as a couple as you lose each other in the job parenthood is.

The payoff of it all are the Christmas mornings or the Birthday faces and the smiles and cuddles, the school plays and the pride of watching ‘the smalls’ become people…..nothing could or has beaten those moments and nothing will. It’s a choice and we made that choice but it’s harder than you think if you havent done it, on a personal level.

And so now the 50’s loom large and I hope for a return to form. There is the possible return of a few troops from foreign fields and maybe a few sleeper cells might reappear from their entrenched nests for an airing on a few more occasions.

I will continue in my role as jester and coordinator and hopefully this new decade will be like when Stallone launched ‘The Expendables’ and new adventures suddenly opened up and extending careers untill knees creaked and the public got fucked off with the stupidity of it.

….and so another ramble ends. Next time I’ll be reporting from the South West where I’ll be taking on the Citizens of Kernow and I expect to leave dripping in tin and pasties as their King.

I’ll go with a joke I recentky saw…. seemed relevant given the length of this effort:

“A man was found guilty of planning a stream of consciousness novel.

He’s just started a 4 year sentence”

Onwards..

Two, Zero, One, Seven…Over…

2017 draws to a close. Good.

So what have we learned from lame duck of a year? Basically the years key message is that stupidity rules the planet on an industrial scale.  Whether that be Brexit, the United States, Football, work or just my life the stupid have  risen to the top.  

Now before every one loses their minds I’m not calling you stupid if you voted for Brexit.  I know very few stupid people and the ones I do know are very stupid indeed. 

If you voted Brexit then that is your right.  That is democracy even though most people now see democracy as utter bollocks and I mean even those that spout it on a daily basis and insist it is essential… except when it doesn’t suit them. I’m not happy to leave Europe but I’m happy with the vote and disagree completely with the notion of another vote just to get the result some of us want.  Blame Camrobot and not voters.
The problem I have is that no Brexiteer I know can give me a real reason as to why they wanted it.  I’ve asked the question a number of times to colleagues who were leavers and I get the tremendous replies of:

“Why not?”

“Something different”

“Fuck Europe”

“Sick of being told what to do by faceless bureaucrats”

That last one is particularly good as we are told what to do on a daily basis by those very types.

Luckily no one I know has said directly to me in a face to face scenario  “too many immigrants” which would cause an issue.  

I was listening to the radio a while back and some jub explained that he voted leave because there were too many brown faces working in Harrow hospital.  

This caller was then asked if he could point out what European country was predominantly filled with brown faces to which, or course, he had no answer.  Basically for a lot of people this is purely a race issue showing the complete lack of understanding of the referendum question. These plums have been hoodwinked by a prick like Farage himself married to an immigrant, of immigrant stock and loaded to the point of stupidity with £80k a year wage, €132k a year pension, £2m house and  £2.2m in an offshore account… a true Englishman. 

Brexit is being dealt with by the inept with the more inept waiting in the wings to step in when it goes wrong inevitably claiming they would have done it differently.  

Comrade Corbyn is as big an ponce as any Tory.  At least the Tories stick to the lust for power at any cost and the right wing agenda whereas Corbyn says nothing of note while personally disagreeing with his own parties actual position on Brexit and a number of other issues… he’s the ultimate for the few (himself and momentum) and not actually the many at all. 

My personal view is that we’ll end up worse off, isolated and struggling to find anyone happy to say they voted to leave but we will have a lovely blue passport that we can hold on to in the endless queues in foreign lands after we alight from our holiday airplanes. It might have been cheaper to issue everyone with a lovely blue passport holder and a book on shouting arrogantly in European destinations rather than actually triggering article 50.

If you think it’s bad here think of our associates over the pond who appear to be under the spell of possibly the most stupid individual ever to have the money to take over a country.

Trump. 

Even the name is comical.  A true idiot, a born and bred dimwit. In reality he should be praised for simply not pissing or shitting his pants on an hourly basis.  

His first year in power has been both hilarious and terrifying due to the massive arrogance and the truly incredible levels of stupidity.  The most recent example of this was his inability to distinguish between climate and general weather in a tweet the other night when it was cold in a city in America.
All this though isn’t his fault.  He’s just a Fuckwit with the cash and the nodding entourage basking in the shadow of his cash swollen hard-on.  The problem is the system in America which enabled this prick to rise up with no experience in a political arena he cannot possibly survive in.  Land of the Free where nothing is Free…

Partially to blame is the robotic ex model wife who happily let’s this oaf bounce on top of her with his rigid acorn for the money as it would be fuckin’ hard to accept that there is any real love or affection in there other than knowing you had access to rooms full of cash on an hourly basis.  

This is the third plastic wife to have stroked his fragile ego. Perhaps if they hadn’t he might be weeping in a lonely hotel room contemplating stringing himself up by his belt while crashing one out over a pile of hundred dollar bills rather than cutting taxes for himself and his the super rich ‘friends’. 

The other problem of course is the stupidity of the voters backing him who believe that because he is successful he must know what he is doing.  

They also believe that if he says it it must be true… his stupidity means he believes this also, in fact this very morning he claimed that he only uses social media as only he can deliver the facts due to press lies and fake news… brilliant. 

Hopefully at some point soon the lack of action and benefit for the plums who voted for him and the investigation surrounding him will see him dispatched to history in disgrace but I’m slightly losing my belief in this as it’s a dangerous game to play slowly… every day he is capable of disaster and so it’s a risk not bringing him down as quickly as possible.  This is my fear… it appears a slow game because there is no game. 

What about me eh?  How was my year?… meh… 5 out of 10 on the back of a 1 out of 10. 

It was the year of the blood letting where I had multiple pints removed due to genetics. 

All rather routine but for some reason it affected my head more than my body.  I suddenly became painfully aware of my own mortality and had a sort of mini breakdown.  Luckily this didn’t involve a thousand quids worth of tattoos, some kind of motorcycle or a new, younger model but went more along the lines of darkened rooms and meditation apps.  I’m not like this so I bit the bullet and had a few sessions in the chair… all fixed now… back to being a hard, nasty fucker.

We holidayed in Portugal as constant readers would know, but much of the year revolved around watching the kids get to the point beyond my control…. the ‘smalls’ are no longer ‘small’… they move on and all you are left with is video footage of squeaky voiced cherubs. It’s heartbreaking but inevitable and the worst part of parenting to date… the loss of the innocent.

There were some highlights.   

I relived my youth with a series of rock gigs.  The Queens of the Stone Age delivered the goods for the Boy’s first concert experience (including witnesseing a punch up) and Royal Blood and the Darkness were suitably heavy.  The best experience however, if not performance, was Hawkwind at the Roundhouse with the Eternal Champion and Lady Lynn where I have never seen so many hippies in one place in my life. Camden was swimming in patchouli, feathers and the bra less.  Men were grizzled and heads were bald but the gig was excellent.  

It didn’t start that way though. When the lights went down and a bloke in a straw hat and the head of a scarecrow shuffled on to launch into a ballad I thought the exit seemed appealing. It was reminicent of a Simple Minds gig in 1993 when they did similar and I was fully prepared to breach the stage in order to punch drummer Mel Gaynor full in the mouth for taking away the adrenalising opening salvo of any rock gig worth my attendance.

Luckily this was the calm before the hippy storm and the band then kicked in with the necessary yoof in the band to deliver a great trippy experience which I’m glad I was at. 

The following day the Eternal Champion and I went up a local hostelry with similar low expectations that I had the night before to see if the Arsenal could somehow stumble their way to a cup final victory.  Bizarrely the team turned up and delivered the goods with a rare display of fight making it the best complete weekend of the year.

Work plodded on.  Not the best year by far with some proper mercenaries joining the team with selfish greedy attitudes bringing it to a grinding halt and the public pulling out some extremely odd decisions in the name of apparent justice but as usual there were moments of mass hilarity.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot in this job.  I’m like Roy Batty in ‘Blade Runner’ without the penchant for poking out eyeballs. It has been top fun but over the last couple of years I’ve not enjoyed it so much through a number of reasons.  I’ve decided to hurl myself back into it headlong next year as if I have to turn up regular, and I do if I want to eat, then I best enjoy it.

It was always my intention to blog a memoir of the fun in my job.  I could never go down that route of slagging it off in a serious way as it is almost impossible to stay serious within it even in the most complex and serious moments it throws up.  
There have been some great stories over the years.  ‘The Readybrek’, ‘House of a thousand cats’, ‘Assualt on Kensington Tower’, ‘The Buckingham Loafer’, ‘The Sleeping Gardener’, ‘Charlie the Grass’, ‘The difficult question’, ‘The Minstrel of Catford’, ‘The Long arm of the Yard’, ‘Bad News in Hoxton’ and many more which I’ll drop in over this years blogs as and when I write them rather than in one massive story. 

To kick us off though here’s a tale from being in other people’s houses looking for stuff. Clearly there will be no specifics or names but it should give you a flavour of what these eyes have seen and why it’s the funniest and grubbiest job in the world.

There was a time when I did a lot of looking for stuff in other people’s houses.  As a team we were doing this 2 or 3 times a week and so we quickly became expert at it.  The main thing you notice in these scenarios is the filth a lot of people live in.   To be fair they tend to be caught cold and if you are anything like me you’d be frantically tidying up prior to any visit in order to maintain the charade that your house is a palace at all times.  

The other thing noticeable when in other people’s houses is the amount of sex toys present.  They are everywhere. Everyone seems to have them and age is not a barrier….all sizes, genders and colours are catered for.  Never seen so much plastic and rubber and it would make you consider purchasing shares in Duracell.

About a decade ago I was involved in a very big operation involving multiple bad guys and lots of money.  The job resulted in lots of mini jobs and so one day we find ourselves in a North London street looking through two properties that were linked by love, crime and Mother Russia.

Property number was a pit. This was the focus of the day.  It’s clear that chummy is caught cold as he is in a worse state than the flat and he’s left solid underwear strewn around a dingy bedroom…proper nutella turnout and in some cases with extra chunk.  He gets carted off and we move on.

Property number two is tidier. We enter with the owner and do the necessary initial sweep.

I enter the kitchen which is surprisingly tidy  but notice multiple dots and splashes of liquid all over the tiled floor.  On closer inspection it’s clear that its multiple blood splashes.  I walk off and inform the bloke in charge who comes in with this Russian princess.

“.. ‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello.. .what’s all this then?.. says my associate.  (to be fair he didn’t actually say this but I’m paraphrasing for comedic effect).. he points at the blood like Sherlock Holmes seconds before the big reveal….

…the Russian pauses and eyes up the haemoglobin…

“…tis dog….it is bitch…” she says…”…it bleed….from Vaginé..”

She points to the corner where we have failed to see a small horse sized menstruating Rottweiler called ‘Kong’ or ‘Titania’ or something lapping at its own, swollen “Vaginé”.

The dogs looks at us, we look at the dog and then at the owner who is on her knees attempting to mop up the ooze with a white tea towel however she is only managing to move it about in a smear, a bit like wiping your arse with that toilet paper at school that had the consistency of tracing paper… your not dealing with it so much as moving it about…

She stands after the attempted clean up and faces us with a blood soaked tea towel in her hands.  She places the rag on the worktop next to the kettle and says:

“..you have tea?..”

Six men in unison decline politely….

The public…never to be trusted. More stories in future blogs.

And so we reach the last day of the year.  A bit of a “meh” year following the sadness of last year.  That sadness never goes, it’s engrained in the core now but the memories linger in the background rather than at the front so much.  The small inexplicable triggers exist in the form of a sound or a song or a place or a taste but you just have to deal with that and remember the good bits and not the end moments.  To all those friends of mine who have lost this year I raise my glass to them…. the are only gone in the physical… be strong.

I’ve had some fantastic times in the murk this year with the greatest friends.  

An afternoon in a back street in Holborn was particularly memorable for the international turnout of Northern Ireland, Spain, Hong Kong and South London  (wherever the fuck that is). My cheeks hurt with laughing that day especially when threatening our man in Hong Kong with imminent death if he couldn’t find the pub sharpish..

I met some new people this year, reaquainted myself with some old ones and lost a couple… Sadly I wasn’t raised by the Monster to accept being called a ‘cunt’ by anyone who meant it in any way other than affectionate… a sad end to a good friendship but I’m a stubborn old fucker and insist on a certain way of behaviour within mates.  Friends are all and they don’t do that to each other…

So after 23 pints of blood out, 22 books read, 4 gigs attended, 24 Arsenal matches, 2 death wishes, 5 blogs, a realisation that I detest earnestness but love honesty and sleeping and multiple gallons of Guinness and fine wine tonight I say goodbye to 2017….

Enjoy your night and next year let’s put the stupid back in the box where it belongs.

More adventures to come…

Hugs x

…A Monster Calls….

In my head the summer ends as soon as I return to work from whatever hot climate I have laid it for a fortnight.  As a modern Dad I have another week off before the kids go back to school as Jen returns to work. My only real responsibility during this time is to make sure the kids don’t burn the house down.  

This is that week…. ‘Dad Week 2017’

This isn’t my forte, not my thing.  I love my kids more than anything but I’m little use at entertaining them.  Luckily the younger years are over.  Gone are the soft play centre nightmares, the tedious cinema visit with hordes of brats watching substandard non-Pixar animation, the herding of the cats onto public transport and the crayons in the pizzeria.  Now they entertain themselves with electronics or neighbours and my role tends to involve pointing the eating in a healthy direction.

With time on my hands I start preparing for the winter.  I know this sounds drastic but I’m a seasonal planner.  I like to be ready for all of nature’s scenarios and winter is coming regardless of the spectre of the fucking hateful ‘Indian summer’ where the coat balance is destroyed by climate change.

I start in the loft where I see if there is anything I can chuck out since last year. The loft is pushing maximum density but as usual nothing can be binned.  Everything has been deemed ‘special’ and so I am instructed to add to to the carnage with more ‘special’ items in the shape of Action Men and vehicles that no one actually ever played with.  

While I’m in the loft I reposition the winter stuff so it’s in handy reach of the door saving time should there be an emergency Halloween Party of Christmas Tree erection at short notice.  (By the way, ‘Christmas Tree erection’ is an action and not a physical state following the positioning of the final baubel). 

The loft is my responsibility as no one else will enter it as it’s dark, dirty and spider filled.  The storage is now only the eaves so you can add ‘tight’ to the adjectives,  in fact it’s tight like the tunnels under stalag 17, a real ball ache to move in.  Jen first entered the loft upon completion of its conversion into a bedroom and stated that she didn’t see what the issue was.  She avoided 10 years of semi light, dust and crud and the lottery of where you trod… joist or plasterboard?  High tension.  I once fell out of the loft hatch as I didn’t see the hole due to a landing light bring turned off by a well meaning kid saving the planet.   I am their clown.

The eaves are now like the door to the back of Argos behind which a load of shit you don’t need is stored.  I am merely the warehouseman in charge of entering the door to retrieve items that were either never required, not required now or thought long lost. Once a week I’m in there acting on some spurious request for paperwork from 2004 or a photo from 1987.  I’ve found things in there that I don’t even remember buying let alone storing.  It is out of control…

This year I have another task outside of the usual winter ‘nesting’ namely the redecoration of the boy’s bedroom.  The rules of this house are that I do destruction, clear up, storing and painting.  I don’t do preparation as it doesn’t meet the necessary standard laid down by the boss.  I can’t be trusted with prep but am expected to stand on an inappropriate ladder grasping an overfilled paint kettle while ‘cutting-in’ to a high standard which will be scrutinised in silence at a later time.  Luckily this suits me and I make light work of his room ensuring that it will be wipable throughout the ‘one sock’ years.

The main winter task in the sorting of the shed and ludicrously named ‘Summer House’ which is a bigger shed with more windows initially designed for relaxing in but now filled with crap that you need for 45 minutes a summer such as punch bags, football and kites…. y’know the other ‘special’ stuff that doesn’t fit in the loft.

Sheds are massively important in my life.  They are the hub of masculinity.  They need to be filled with weaponry you would associate with a post apocalyptic tundra overrun with the undead.  Slashing, cutting and bludgeoning weapons must be instantly accessible when the door is open.  Tools need to be in boxes similar to an 80′ architects briefcase, must be racked in descending order of height and usefulness and in some cases marked with stickers saying ‘Power drill – heavy torque’ or ‘precision sander #1’ just in case another man needs to see my electric power tool minerals.

The shelves need to be specific to garden, decorating and electrical and you must have a million screws, nails and multiple types of rawl plug none of which marry up and at least 2 saws you never use still in their cardboard sheaths.  If you don’t have this stuff whether you need it or not you are nothing.  

I have an angle grinder set, lump hammer and 12lb sledgehammer which have been used once to break up 6ft of paving.  I recently found a heat gun that has never been used and a glue gun used once incorrectly in panic.  There are socket sets for never fixing a car and wire strippers in case the electrician I employ can’t find his own as I appear to think it necessary to employ the trade and provide the tools. Madness maybe but a necessary madness. 

I’m overjoyed with this year’s set up.  It’s like the gun room Arnie has in ‘Commando’ with the electronic lock where he runs to when the hoods come for him and ‘Chenny’. It is magnificent and full proof shoukd Jen need to find anything before she returns it to the  wrong location. I am a fucking  genius when it comes to sorting shit out and she is the barometer.

I return to the house happy and triumphant and celebrate by making Spaghetti Bolognese and having a cup of tea and a biscuit. 

….And then the phone rang….

My landline rarely rings, it’s only function is the need for the intergoogles, so when it rings it can only be Jen’s 105 year old grandmother, Jen’s Dad, a cold call or chillingly my father.

I check the clock,  1614 hours.  It can only be my Dad who, for some reason has an uncanny knack of knowing when I’m off work.  Of course, I could leave this call but why should I? I live here and there is a possibility that I could be missing out on some PPI or be reminded about an accident I never had.

I pick it up and am instantly assaulted verbally.  

There’s a brief explanation as to who it is in the form of ‘it’s your Dad’ . Talking in the third person is the the classic sign of a nut-job and so he’s off to a convincing start.  I didn’t need this information as I knew it was him, the ring gave it away…the ring and my rising blood pressure and sudden need to smash up my own living room. 

After confirming his existence I ask him what he wants.   

We no longer talk as a conventional father and son would and haven’t done for about 15 years.  We usually have these short-burst violent conversations ending in extended periods of non communication. We haven’t spoken properly since about 2 weeks after the death of my mother when he was possibly the worst human on the planet at that point.  There’s been a few contenders since but he’s still in the frame but little did I know that he was about to surpass his own very high standards of cuntery on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.

‘I want my property back’ he spits….’the property you stole’.

The property in question is some old photos that my Mum gave to me prior to her death.  These pictures are all of random holidays and events and only came in to my possession as she was going to throw them out.  I suggested that she gave them to me and I would scan them so they weren’t lost forever.  They hold no real value…. but this fucker ain’t getting them as he doesn’t deserve them like he didn’t deserve my Mum.

I give him the bad news in a calm, deliberate manner  totally ignoring every urge to unleash the fury placed genetically within me from the Devil himself on the end of the phone.  In some ways I’m Hellboy.  The Spawn of The Goat yet desperate not to bring on the destruction of mankind in favour of beer, chicks and hot dogs.

He don’t like my answer much as it disobeys a direct order from the Patriarch but fuck him , I’m no longer 12. He then dishes out a torrent of abuse which if I wasn’t the recipient of I may have well clapped. 

Where shall I start?

It would appear that I have always been a ‘wanker’ or ‘pig’ who he lost control over when I was 18. At that point he reckons I started poncing off other people in order to survive.  These ‘other people’ seem to be my ex girlfriends who’s names he gets wrong and in the wrong order.  Without them I was nothing, ‘not a man’, ‘unable to survive’ as having a joint mortgage is a failing of manhood apparently.  This fucker never had a mortgage as booze was more important than bricks and mortar but no matter…we move on.

Next up I’m a liar.  No specific examples of the so-called lies are given other than everything I say now, then and in the future.  For all my failings and there are a few, lying ain’t one of them.  I’m almost too honest and made many a mistake sticking to the family motto of:

“Ní dóigh leat é, a rá”

….which roughly translated from the Gaelic is:

“Don’t think it, say it”

(For clarification we are only vaguely Irish and there is no family motto as there is no family.  I added it as a break in the misery.  If there were a family motto it would probably be ‘Shut the fuck up’ or ‘what did you say?’)

My honesty is out there.  I’ve seen experienced operatives weep from facts delivered face to face, women cringe from straight talking that would never work, children cower when things explained plainly.  If you want a straight answer to a real question I will give you it but you might not like it.  I’ve made it my business to do this since adulthood so there is no ambiguity and my words actually mean something.

Of course I’ve lied, everyone lies at some point whether it be to not hurt feelings, pretend Father Christmas is coming, that someone elses baby is beautiful, to let a waiter know that the food was lovely or thr existence of a family motto.  It’s human nature but as a rule I keep it as real as possible.

‘Liar’ is followed by the more disturbing ‘Thief’.  Hmmm….. that’s a big word.  A word worthy of a smack to the mouth…minimum.  It certainly ain’t a word you throw around for a laugh. After the word ‘Stinking’ is added to ‘Thief’ I decide to delve a little deeper to establish the nature of the alleged thievery.

Inevitably this comes down to money and the few pennies Mum managed to cobble together far enough away from the old man’s whiskey glass wielding hands and the pub we believe he was keeping afloat somewhere in North London.

There’s nothing sinister going on here.  I distributed the pennies according to the instructions I was given by my Mum as the appointed executor of the estate. At all times everyone affected was informed of the actions taken.  

But now he’s not happy and I’ve ‘filled my pockets’ and ‘stolen’ the money completely forgetting that he received a sizable chunk but has probably spent it on shit. Now he wants what was left for Mum’s grandchildren.  He explains through various insults that I have it wrong and that money is his and never meant to be given to the young for their futures and was supposed to be used for a car but as the driver of that vehicle is dead he should receive the cash.  Almost like a prize…

Luckily he is faced by a less aggressive and evil version of himself and so I simply fact blast the stroker into silence.  There is absolutely no way any money sent to the grandkids is being reallocated to him to piss down the kharzi.  I stand firm which is relatively easy and simply involves the repeat of the single word ‘No’. As I was brought up in a house of professional, stubborn, nasty fuckers of which he was King I am effectively the Sorcerers Apprentice but with added calm and so he is now floundering.

If you know me you will realise that I’m pretty on top of stuff like this and so after dealing with the funeral and all my Mum’s affairs I have a meticulous audit trail with all receipts and transfers recorded.  I actually planned for this exact moment which I predicted 14 months ago when the fake tears of this monster dried up. 

I’ve been like this for years, anal to the point of lunacy with the memory of an elephant.  

It all began when I started playing Amateur football and kept a record (initially in print) of the 676 matches, 275 goals (only 8 headers, 2 in finals), 5 red cards (3 for fighting, 2 for foul and abusive language), 6 concussions, 7 lost semi finals, 3 cup wins, 2 league titles, 2 Golden boots and one brother suspended from the club.. you get the idea.  

I’m not worried about the threat given of a police investigation into theft or a misappropriation of funds which this conversation has now descended into and he knows it and so he comes out with this pearler before hanging up the phone.  

“…I hope you die screaming….”

*click

I listen to the dialling tone for a moment before clicking the phone off.  

This is a line he used to say to my Mum during rows and arguments and he effectively got his wish with her so it cuts to the core.

This is the sort of insult that stays with you.  I’ve had all the others and due to my upbringing, combatative nature, employment and location I expect and accept them.  Not this though.  This is beyond the pale and from the lips of my father.  This is beyond human acceptability and something you could only say to someone threatening your family. 

The main thing is it was the last straw.  Why would I want myself to be associated with a person like this? And even more pressing why would I want my kids to be involved with this person because eventually he’ll be saying this stuff to them.

For years my Mum suggested the old man had a screw loose but I don’t believe that.  He has had enough professional assessment of his swead over the years to fill a medical conference and at no point has anyone said he is anything other than lucid.

What you get from my Dad is horror and the ability the crush people mentally.  He is a mind bully and always has been.  He single handedly destroyed all aspects of what could have been a slightly functional family through his own twisted mentality which is far more damaging than any slap you could ever give.

My Mum had this shit for decades and in the middle we, the sons and brothers got it, the brain washing of fear and hate.  This made us all slightly mad and uncompromising resulting in no communication and more dislike and hate of each other.  In the end my Mum almost became him with similar traits of aggression, jealousy and spite.  That was the saddest part of her death… the Mum I knew and loved was gone and was replaced by a carbon copy of the thing she disliked the most.

The death of a parent would usually bind a family together but it just made an unbearable situation worse if that was possible.  Nobody gave a fuckin inch as we were trained to never step back, it was the ultimate standoff.

I struggled badly after Mum died.  It is almost impossible to explain loss if you haven’t actually experienced it.  The simplest things become magnified into huge emotional struggles.  The lack of a phone call or birthday card, the random unwanted visit or advice on parenthood, all gone forever.  I went through a phase of seeing Mum in all kinds of places  even though that was impossible.  It’s amazing how similar old women can look when you are suffering deep grief.

In the wake of all this I was referred for Grief Counselling with a lovely Irish woman.  I was very sceptical but Jen insisted I went as she was sick of me banging on about my Dad as the issue.  I agreed as I was sick of her telling me to just ‘forget it’.

I had three sessions and it was apparent immediately that I was right and he was the issue.  Towards the end of the final session  (I decided it was the last session, an endless amount were available) she asked me if I wanted to see my Dad again to which I said ‘No’.  I waited for the big reveal, the pearl of wisdom where she would explain to me that engaging with him was the answer but to my shock she said:

“Then don’t, stop beating yourself up and move on with your own family”

Even a professional could find no positive…

The level of nastiness and hate within my Dad is incredible and seems to revolve around a belief that as he was involved in your birth he owns you forever. If I thought I would ever think that or say such a thing as he said to me this week to one of my kids I would take myself away from them forever. He thrives off it, it is the fuel that keeps him going.  But no more, this well is dry and so now there will be nothing for him from me except emptiness and the end.

Anyway, if you think that is depressing think on…. Next time I’ll be talking about The Arsenal and my association with it for 40 years and where we go after the humiliation at the hands of the Mickey Mousers…

More crud later.. .

…The Scotch, The Witch and The Barbecue…

We start the second week in Portugal with a trip to the market town of Loulé.  If I’m not walking around a market at some point on holiday I’ll assume I’ve been abducted.  This is standard operating procedure. Jen loves a market and I am merely man and therefore limply compliant and the carrier of cash.

Like heroin Loulé is very Moorish. Turrets and scimitars are everywhere.  There also seems to be a preoccupation with Cork in the form of hats, shoes and bags which is a phenomena I never knew existed.

Loulé is old school with cobbled lanes, a museum and an old church.  The main drag is a bit more modern and the food market is found in a large central building.  Outside this building sit the Bikers.  Comedy bikers rather than ‘ you looking at my old lady? I’ll stab you in the throat’ bikers.  They all own shiny hogs rather than anything you should be scared of with lots of preening and cum-catcher taches rather than a bowie knife down the back of the jeans. I brush them aside and enter the market.

Inside the market is split in two.  The first half is all chilled sherry and wine, lovely cooked ham and leather bangles while the second half is fresh fish. 

It’s 94 degrees.  I’m in a non refrigerated municipal building where dead fish are being sold.  It is humming.  It’s truly horrendous and cloying to the point of gaggery.  The boy and I make a swift exit to an adjacent outdoor market selling tat.

We breathe in the cool air and the boy leaves me to find humself a drink.  I mooch about looking at the stalls.  It’s all fairly low level but friendly enough….and then I see it…

The Witch.

Through the crowd, hunched with the lumpy spine of a cat after being hit by a car, it appears. She must be about 150 years old. She’s wearing a head scarf off kilter has a lazy eye and a rictus grin She shuffles with a walking a stick which looks like someone’s hip bone, is about three and a half feet tall and looks like a less attractive Yoda. She passes through with the crowd dispersing like a shoal of fish when breached by a Tiger shark.  She is oozing rural Portugal from every crag. It’s the kind of hick that could break a pigs neck with a stern look back in her 30’s.  She’s no longer in her 30’s, she is now as old as time and smelling like it with skin like a well worn leather chesterfield in a gentlemen’s club in Pimlico.

She saunters into my fighting arc and I go all ‘side on’ to minimise the target should she lunge for my throat. She needs my iron rich blood to feed her crispy ravagged carcas in order to survive another decade.

She wafts past and straight behind the ramp of a fruit and veg stall without anyone stopping her.  She starts to stroke and finger the produce which forces my stomach to churn…she bends forward, a feat defying gravity given the throbing hump atop her rickerty spine and I am suddenly in line to get a full view of the oldest sand sniffers I’ve ever had the misfortune to spot. These are Snoopy noses from a bygone age, piping bags after completion of a particularly elaborate wedding cake… they are empty and wouldn’t feed a hungry sparrow. 

Perhaps she has a nice personality but I’m not seeing it from the evidence so far.  She’s more likely living in a gingerbread house gnawing on the bones of long lost kids or dicing up a frog’s eye for the pot.

I spot the boy and insist we return to the relative safety of the pungent fish market and the never ending haggling Jen is engaged over some leather bangles, either that or I stay here, find a bucket of water a slay the Witch of Loulé and face incarceration in a flimsy Portuguese prison.

..Fly you fools….

The back streets of Loulé are beautiful, idyllic and are really the reason why you would visit. It’s like when you first see a Cornish fishing village and you realise that postcards are sometimes perfect depictions.  This is like that except with heat … marvellous.

Then it is beach time…..my nightmare.  I hate beaches, always have.  Messy, uncomfortable dirty places filled with over ripe people burning.  I’d rather be by a pool with a bar even if it means swimming in a the human soup that is the shared pool.  However once more my opinion is irrelevant and so I find myself loaded up like a pack horse walking on hot deep sand towards hours of misery.

It’s not very busy confirming my view that most people see this as utter shit.  A few diehards are near me, dark mahogany sunseekers soaking up the power of the fireball.

I lie on a bumpy beach towel with a dead arse and sand between my broken toes.  All four of us are huddled under two small parasols as the blistering heat too dangerous to sit directly in.  I look around and spot the cool box.  I whip out a Super Bock mini, 200ml of lifesaving man juice only to find the fucking thing is warm like tea. The cool box has failed it’s primary function and needs to be smashed and added to the plastic sea before me to choke another type of humpback.

I’ve always hated beaches. Too many shit times in the wind, rain, sun and sleet  (Blackpool). 

The worst time was in Futreventura when I was with some lunatic who loved beaches so much so that she managed to get me on a beach primarily but not exclusively for nudists.  I sat there and she lay there like a spatchcock chicken.  To disassociate myself with her I rolled over on the sunbed and was almost embedded in the junk of a rather overly nourished German woman as she bent over next to me.  It was like looking into the face-hugger pod in “Alien” seconds before the explosion of violence.  The old chestnut of a ‘badly packed kebab’ loomed large…..very large with aromavision.

You can stick beaches right up your hoop…..I’m not having it.  Of course this view wasn’t aired on the actually beach and I was forced to endure a mere 4 hours before we were released for good behaviour.

Back at the ranch we decide to eat in and use my associates BBQ from the secret ‘family cupboard’ which he has kindly given me the key for.  This Aladdin’s cave is filled with booze and supplies which I can use with instructions  that I replace what I use.  Of course I do this plus as I’m partial to the over-the-top gesture to boost my standing in society.

I get the BBQ out find it ain’t no Homebase shoddy effort made from partially flammable metal, this is a Weber.  It looks like a monster truck all shiny and robust.  I feel like a King.

We knock up some kebabs and tentatively use the beast only to find that I have forgotten to remove a part from the bottom which was simply there while it was in storage. This has now melted due to falling embers.  I have soiled his family cook out kit.  

The part in question appears to be a briquette scoop which you use if you are too scared to get your hands dirty and also appears to be completely unavailable either in Portugal or on-line.  Some bloke in Cleethorpes has one for sale for a fiver but he won’t deliver abroad as he’s from Cleethorpes and so scared of the modern postal system.

This is a quandary so we leave the apartment in order to hunt down the required scoop in an area which, to my knowledge, only has one cash machine and no post box…. I’m not optimistic.

The second BBQ retailer I stumble across is manned by a very smiley lady with perfect English.  To date I am yet to speak to anyone who actually only speaks Portuguese. I’m sure the Witch of Loulé would never have uttered a word of the Queens but I weren’t keen on an interaction that would have put me in the vicinity of her let alone her herring laced breath.

Smiley woman approaches me and seems concerned with my situation.  She knows what we need and disappears behind a door returning with the exact item I need.  She has saved me.  I pull out a stinking, sweaty wad of Euros as no amount of money will be enough to purchase this essential part of 21st  century outdoor cooking.

‘No charge’ are the beautiful words from her sweet mouth followed by ‘enjoy your holiday’. I could have hugged her.  

I’m not in to slagging off Britain with stories of overseas generosity as I love my country and see our rudeness as a thing tourists come for but this is the second time in 8 days that I’ve been taken aback in a situation that didn’t deserve assistance.  Well done the Portuguese….

This holiday has mostly been taking in from the poolside.  It was a lovely pool.  Proper rectangle rather than some odd shape to make the resort look interesting when we only want the water. The pool has a lovely bar where I have spent a great time relaxing with a beer or a cider to escape the searing heat. The pool brings a lot of ammo to my gunbarrel eyes.  

First up we have the ex cockney footballer with the two knee scars ‘proving’ he played.  He talks to anyone prepared to listen about this but he’s wary of me as my face says ‘don’t be a mug’.  At one point he walks past me on the phone and says ‘yeah I’ll triple that amount of money..’ while looking at me, winking, and mouthing ‘awight mate’.  I remain non awed as a swift kick to the scar would surely incapacitate the stroker. These are the things you learn on the amateur football pitch, not a well time tackle but simply the targeting of scars and fresh bandages to reduce the opposition to ashes.

Bullying Dad rocks up with two little kids and a wallflower wife.  He says things to the kids like ‘when my lips are moving and I’m looking at mummy you don’t interupt’.  Kids interupt. Little kids, medium kids, big kids…its a thing they do… live with it.

This bloke also has his own flippers a true sign of massive poncery unless you whip then out in a boat with an aqualung.  Grown men with flippers in a swimming pool are unacceptable.  I can only imagine the justification for this:

“..I like my flippers Angela, I need my flippers and I will be bringing my flippers so help me God…I swear it on my children’s eyes !!!!…”

Prick.  He’s also a bloke with an overly large lens on his camera which he uses to take pictures of his kids swimming which seems excessive for some Holiday snaps never to be viewed again.

Most of the nut jobs can be found at the bar. I’m at the bar.  The bar is where it’s at.  

One afternoon I’m situated directly in the middle on a high stool.  To my left is an old Welshman with a comedy nose and moustache combo.  He is alone and drinking a small beer as is the name in this bar for a half, I’m minding my own business while I sweat my cobs off with a large beer.

My holiday routine was to read, listen to music sunbathe, play with the kids in the pool (my kids) and then go to the bar to make notes to write these ramblings.  I’m not interested in in-depth conversations unless I engage with the barman who should be my only friend due a centuries old mutual assistance programme of merriment for money.

The Welshman catches my eye and intimates to the football on the TV.

“I see you are a Spurs fan”.  

I instantly put him straight and immediately regret it as the barman clearly is a fan of that rabble and now sees me as the enemy.  I inform Welshie that I am the other half of North London and I’m then forced to listen to an anecdote regarding a former Arsenal player at a golf tournamrnt that is so tedious that I nearly walk out on him mid sentence.  

I’m not a rude fucker so I smile and simply ‘zone out’ even when he enters my immediate area to whisper obscenities to enhance the story to a ‘blokey’ level.  He’s clearly short of mates and reveals his entire work and family history in a short 3 minute burst with me just nodding and randomly laughing at inappropriate moments to see if he actually gives a shit.

I am saved when a local and a Swede who appear to know him and want to talk to him come to the bar.  I am now redundant as a verbal punch bag and happily go back to watching the football.  

All three leave after the Welshman taps me on the arm and says he’ll see me ‘again’ and I politely smile and hold up a hand in a fake gesture of new found friendship…..we won’t interact again….ever.

Before the main act I’m randomly joined by some blond bloke who wants a chat.  He’s a Chelsea fan so may as well have spat directly in my face and stole my beer however I’m on holiday so keep a lid on it.  

In true newbie Chelsea fan fashion he tells me that he enjoys going to Fulham more than Chelsea instantly proving that he’s not a Chelsea supporter at all but, in fact, an idiot.  We have a frantic chat about the price of football and after a handshake he leaves me to go see his blah, blah, blah I couldn’t give a fuck, tell someone who cares…

During this conversation two bald, tattooed fuckwits enter and sit directly next to me at the bar.  Here we go….. Scotchmen..

Both these blokes are considerably over refreshed with the younger one being absolutely mangled to the point of falling off the stool and into me. I prepare for the worse…..a conversation. Here it comes preceded by a nudge…

‘…hey!!… you….Big Man!!….’

‘Big Man’ is scotch for ‘Fat Bastard’.  You know it, he knew it and I knew it. It is internationally recognised as the Celtic opening greeting when either starting a fight or avoiding one.  I put this to a friend of mine that I met up with on this trip.  He rightly pointed out that ‘Big Man’ is far better than ‘wee man’ which is only said with contempt and not a hint of fear.

I turn to my new N.E.D associate with my most arrogant London English look and note he is smiling with a few stumps visible making his tongue look like a prisoner. He points at the screen.. 

‘…yer… (points at me)….ar yer a Wist Am Cont?…’

The entire bar stiffens. The piped europop ceases… Children run….women weep…our oasis has been invaded by The Barbarians of the C-Bomb. The barman watches….

Focus and calm is required here.  ‘Begbies’ senior and junior are waiting for a response and the old one, bald, craggy and wearing massive shades, looks particularly interested in whatever I’m about to rustle up.. 

No, No, No my toothless haggis eating numbskull, I am a follower of The Arsenal Football Club from London, Seat of power and home to the ruler of your barren nation”

…something like that anyway…. 

This throws them both and I’m met with laughter and a stream of conversational vowels where the only recognisable words are ‘cont’, ‘fook’ and ‘clunge’.  

At this point the owner of the bar, a very friendly Englishmen steps in and informs these two that no swearing is allowed in the bar as there are kids floating about.  The younger one looks at me and says:

…is tha cont reet? Ama fuckin swerrin?…”

I reply in the affirmative and he says ‘cont’ again before they both leave mid pint (worst crime of the lot) explaining that they are scotch and so blameless.

A calm returns to the bar and I am once again alone with Super Bock.

You may be under the false impression that I had a bad holiday.  I didn’t, I had a fantastic holiday but you can always find fun in the public which is why I started this blog.

Portugal is a beautiful place full of friendly accommodating people and stunning beaches. The weather was the best I’d ever had abroad and my colleagues apartment and the resort it was on were both magnificent. The downside was the cost and, surprisingly, the food which were both expensive and average in equal measure. 

Now I sit at home on the edge of a return to work looking at Jen wrapped in a throw on the sofa listening to the rain smash against the window.. .

Bollocks..

More stuff in time….