As part of the marketing of the Helminthdale Brand they've put together a video bid for a portion of the thirty shillings available from A Well Known Retail Genius (not Mrs. Pouncer) to revitalise the retail environment of the town.
Here are a few stills from the video.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
As part of the marketing of the Helminthdale Brand they've put together a video bid for a portion of the thirty shillings available from A Well Known Retail Genius (not Mrs. Pouncer) to revitalise the retail environment of the town.
Monday, April 29, 2013
One of the papers this weekend ran yet another "Is Jessica Rabbit the sexiest cartoon character…" article, which is becoming almost a greater cliché than the Flintstones MILF debate. Wilma vs. Betty has become a tad tired but still goes a-rumbling on (if you need to know: Wilma, because I've got a thing about redheads). Even some twenty-somethings at work have this argument (outside Game of Thrones seasons). It's odd that we have these reactions to what are, after all, just drawings. One of my friends at school fell in love with the black lady in the Tom and Jerry cartoons because he reckoned she had a lovely singing voice and thick ankles.
I'm above this sort of nonsense, of course.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
In the scheme of things I've good a quite comfortable life: I have a job and food on the table; a house and a bed and a small warm woman; and generally speaking nobody's trying to kill me on a daily basis.
I have to remind myself of that. I feel massively burned-out at the moment. Work is work and barely worth the mention (if you're desperate to know: the workplace is utterly fucking stupid at the moment and shows no prospect of getting any better). There's only so much utter stupidity you can be exposed to on a daily basis without its starting to chip away at your self-confidence.
Not been a weekend for recharging batteries - quite a lot on this week and not much space for getting some kip and not worrying about the time.
We must be due a bank holiday soon...
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
I've just found myself standing on the doorstep shouting at The Cat I Do Not Have as she strolled down the path:
"Have you washed behind those ears? Be careful with the traffic, don't get yourself knocked down. And don't be late back in!"A chap walking down the road glanced over at me and shook his head.
"They don't listen do they? Bloody kids."
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
That nice Savannah has given me a nice award:
There is a catch: "the award comes with a small request and that is to answer the four questions listed and then to pass the award along to those bloggers who recently touched/moved/inspired YOU!"
1. If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I'd live near the sea with a decent cliff top walk nearby that allowed for a bit of decent seawatching.
2. If you could repeat any age which would it be?
I'd like the energy I had when I was about seven. And the world-weary cynicism that went with it.
3. What really scares you?
People. Seriously. En masse they terrify me. And when I think about the things they'll do "for the right thing" I get the screaming ad-dabs.
4. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
If I were to tell you I would be in breach of the terms of my being bound over to keep the peace.
"so there it is. grab the pic and the questions and then nominate another blogger or bloggers who've recently touched you! i nominate the following and really do hope they'll particpate!"Well now... not including Savannah's splendid selection (which you'll have to go and see for yourself), I'll nominate
- Pat, who is always splendid;
- dinahmow, who is fun down under;
- Libby, who makes you think a bit quietly;
- Pearl, who has more energy than is good for her;
- Macy, who I hope is loved-up and full of chocolate at the moment;
- zmkc, who makes me smile; and
- Wendy, who makes me think harder than I should do sometimes.
And when Blogger stops being such a silly sod about opening comment boxes I'll let them know they've got an award from me.
Heavens. You *all* deserve the award!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Monday, April 22, 2013
It's not been much of a Spring so far but, appendages crossed, it's at least not been all that wet. It's been cool and mostly dry-ish this past couple of weeks, which has brought out the bumblebees and the odd peacock butterfly. The damson tree, which had a shockingly bad year of it last year, is now completely awash with blossom, which I hopes bode well. The combination of bees, blossom and lack of torrential rain may result in a decent crop this Autumn.
As I wrote that last paragraph I noticed that there was a huge queen bumblebee in the kitchen. Typical. I go to the effort of putting three bumblebee nest boxes out in the garden, as yet unused, and the bloody things decide they fancy settling down under the fridge.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
I noticed that there's a new barber's next door to Uncle Fester's Diner. I have to point out here that Uncle Fester's Diner does exist and it's just down the road from Railway Cuttings. I was taken by an exchange between the owner and one of his schoolboy customers:
Child: "Are you really Uncle Fester?"
Uncle Fester lookalike: "Fuck off."I noticed that the new place was advertising "Turkish shaves." Turkish shaves? I asked The Small Object of Desire who told me that it's the proper stuff with hot towels and that. The sort of thing you see in the fillums. I have always hankered after one of those but convinced myself that they don't exist in real life. And they're doing them down the road.
If you find yourself eating a sulky meat pie that keeps harking back to the 1930's you'll know the back story.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
My dad saw a piece in the paper about these vibrating knickers, so he had to point it out to us when me and The Small Object of Desire went round for lunch.
"It's alright, I'm safe enough," my mum said. "It's not like he ever uses the 'phone."
Friday, April 19, 2013
The lady at the chip shop is a bit stressed out at the moment because one of her dogs is pregnant and is being a bit snappily hormonal. "I wish I hadn't had her done now," she said.
She had dreamed of having lots of little baby doggies roaming round the house with mummy and daddy dog looking on in loving attendance. Unfortunately he wasn't much up to it so she had to arrange for her bitch to be artificially inseminated.
"Well, it was a couple of hundred pounds cheaper than having her serviced by another pedigree dog," she explained.The problem is that it's rather more dignified than the jobs we're doing at the moment.
"Did they use a turkey baster?" asked Frog.
"Summat like," she replied.
"You mean to say that there are people going round being professional dog wankers?" I asked.
"Oh aye. That was the thing: I couldn't ask her that on the 'phone, could I? 'Hello, do you wank dogs?' I rang her up and I had to stop and think and in the end I said: 'Do you artificially inseminate dogs?' and she said: 'Well, not on my own; the dogs have something to do with it themselves.'"
"Bloody hell," said Frog.
"So I got my dog and took him round to her. 'Don't drag him across the floor!' she yelled at me. 'He's only got little legs he'll be no good with a blister on the end of it!' Not that he was much good anyway. An hour and a half it took her, just for a little teaspoonful."
"Didn't she give him a magazine to look at?"
"No, she should have done."
"That's something we need to bear in mind when they make us redundant," remarked Frog.
"What?" I asked, "Dog wankers?"
"It's a living. We could put adverts in newsagents' windows; 'Pet Owners! Does your pet need a wank? Call us now on...'"
Thursday, April 18, 2013
By the merest chance I heard the very last edition of "ITMA" being played on Radio 4 Extra the other day (Radio 4 Extra is what we have to call Radio 7 these days now we have to pretend that the BBC doesn't have more than 6 radio stations so as not to upset the Daily Mail). I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it; ITMA generally being something I admire for its craft and delivery but don't much laugh at. I'll have to hunt down some more of the later editions.
Bill Oddie was acting as Comedy Controller for a couple of hours and was working to a thesis that though he loved radio programmes like this at the time they've not aged all that well because a lot of the material would have worked better as television programmes because the performers were, essentially, variety artistes and actors doing variety acts. There's a lot to be said for this argument, particularly as his next exhibit was "Archie's the Lad!" with ventriloquist Peter Brough and his dummy Archie Andrews.
But there's also a lot to be said for the counter-argument that there's a lot of television that should have stayed on the radio. And not just because Peter Brough's lips moved. The Telly Goons are a prized part of my childhood memory but they were only ever a nineteenth-rate version of the colour and invention of the real thing on the radio. Similarly: Jimmy Clitheroe's knees. How scary were they at Saturday tea time?
And there's no way, shape or form that Round the Horne could ever have been on the television and kept much of its magic.
I'll be coming back to that...
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I suppose I should say something about the wedding, having whinged on at length about it throughout March.
Well... it was a lovely day, the food was excellent, the service was good, the bride was radiant and the groom was as happy as a dog with two tails (a cleaner version of what he said himself). The bridesmaid looked lovely (we have argued - at length - about this) and it all went very well. Good stuff. Very nice, thank you.
And the good news is that The Small Object of Desire and myself are still together despite the combination of job stresses and both of our deep-seated aversions to weddings. Personally, I don't have any objections to marriage so long as it's something you can go away and do and then come back and tell people: "guess what we did this morning" without sulks all round. If that's what you could do I think The Small Object would be a lot less averse but she'd still not be comfortable about it, not even if she were allowed to wear a Patrick Stewart onesie and Doc Martins for the doing of it.
So now we're going through a period of reaction to the stresses of the past month or two where we're all lovey and nice to each other. It's enormous fun; it would make you sick.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
One day a councillor was walking through the Town Hall when he spotted a junior member of staff playing cards at his desk. Taking the worker to task the councillor asked for an explanation. "And it had better be a good one."
And the worker said...
When I see the ace I think of this single council that we all work for. One big cock-up.
When I see the two, I think of the dual nature of the councillor's role. On the one hand they are managing the council's strategic vision. On the other hand, they represent the public, as users of the council's services. Two-faced swine.
And when I see the three I think of the politicians, the press and the statutory inspection regime. All kicking the shit out of us.
When I see the four I think of the Fantastic Four. Who'd still be waiting for the hardware to be delivered prior to take-off if this council had had anything to do with it.
The five reminds me of the number of months you you're advised have to wait for an urgent decision.
When I think of the six I think of the number of months you really have to wait for an urgent decision.
When I see the seven I think of the number of complaints received by this council each month. Well, seven of them.
When I see the eight I think of an octopus. My doctor says it's the strain of working for this council.
And when I see the nine I think of the average number of Assistant Executive Directors in a department. After the cuts.
When I see the ten I think of the ten Executive Directors. One goalie short of a team.
When I see the knave I think of Eric Pickles. For some reason or other.
When I see the queen I remember there was about one now sadly passed away.
And when I see the king I am reminded of that one great figure that influences our lives. The man who brings round the sandwiches.
So you see, my pack of cards is my Org Chart, my aide-memoire and my public administration vademecum.
And the councillor said: "Did you say something?"
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
As promised a while back, here's the first chunk of "Blibala and the Forty Thieves, "A Seasonal Nosegay by Sundry Messrs. Especially ac messpots Kevin Musgrove, spinster, and Frog Dropwort, late Queen's Own Mounted Stewart Graingers.
(It might be worth warning you at this stage that this whole farrago was written as a game of email ping-pong between the two of us while we were having a particularly trying time in the bowels of Helminthdale Central Library. Just in case you thought any of it was supposed to make sense.)
Scene One: A desert wadi
Enter two scurvy knaves, Mustapha Fagg and Mustapha Pony.
Fagg: We've been wandering the desert now for three days. Are you sure we're not lost?
Pony: No, we're not. In fact, we are nearing our destination. This is Wadi Youwantmatey, home of the forty thieves.
Fagg: But it is so desolate.
Pony: Don't be deceived... See those small streams over there?
Pony: Those small streams roll on to become the mighty Blue Nile.
Fagg: Oh, Juveniles.
Pony: That's right. And if you look over yonder -- see how the streams spread across the burning desert like some enormous hand?
Pony: But come, we have another hour's walk before we meet with our new friends.
Fagg: Are the forty thieves really as evil as their reputation would have us believe?
Pony: Of course, who do you think sold me those last two jokes?
Enter a stranger (John Hanson with a curiously unbelievable mop of black hair and a bath towel over his shoulder)
Hanson: Ho strangers! What are you doing here?
Pony: We are but poor men travelling through the desert in the hope of finding some succour.
At this point, the audience are invited for the double entendre of their choice by pressing the little button on the underside of the person sitting in front of them
Fagg: But who are you?
Hanson: I am the Red Shadow, leader of the Rifs. (takes out stratofender guitar and plays a few choice licks from the Desert Song [Bert Weedon Songbook page 47])
Enter Hank Marvin and the rest of the Shadows (minus Cliff Richard who is appearing as "Heathcliffe" at the Snetterton Arms, Aylesford). They play a medley of hits from the Sex Pistols "God Save The Drag Queen" album.
Fagg: Oh, Red Shadow, can you help us to our destination?
Hanson: Strangely, oh stranger, we are making for the same place ourselves: Wadi Youwantomakethoseyesatmefor.
Enter, with full inevitability, full chorus
Hanson: But enough of this mirth, it says here. We mustn't tarry. These are dangerous parts.
Fagg: Wouldn't they best be kept in your trousers?
Hanson: What? And live in the dark? They'd go all white and weedy.
Fagg: Is that thing supposed to glow like that?
Hanson: That is the hotline to the king of thieves.
Fagg: And that?
Hanson: That was an unfortunate accident with a camel.
Fagg: You're nuts.
Hanson: Maybe but it's rude to point.
Enter a spear carrier
Spear carrier: Red Shadow! A rider approaches.
Hanson: Oh dear, this means trouble.
Pony: Who is it?
Hanson: It is Abu Ben Dover, the Kharzi of Baghmum.
Fagg: And who is that gorgeous creature by his side?
Hanson: That's his horse.
Fagg: No, riding it.
Hanson: Oh. You have been in the desert too long, haven't you? That is his Sultana, A'Ah Gra'isi.
The Red Shadow's entourage scatter into the wings shrieking "Eh mother!"
Hanson: Good day, oh exalted one.
Kharzi: (the late Frank Randal, who's too drunk to notice) Eeeeh, I've supped some ale toneet.
Sultana: Sally, Sally, pride of our alley, you're more than a raisin to me.
Kharzi: Oh dear, your breath smells of gin.
Sutana: I can't afford to drink Chanel No. 5.
Hanson: And what can I do for you, great Kharzi?
(The Kharzi falls off his horse, yelling: "It's my mother's birthday today!" As this isn't in the script all the other players shuffle embarrassedly while they wait for the Assistant Stage Manager to get the curtain down sharpish)
Friday, April 12, 2013
There are very many reasons why its a struggle to run a high street business in Helminthdale. Everyone's skint, for sure, which doesn't help. Helminthdale enjoyed the bleakness of the 1930s so much it never much bothered with the post-war boom. All that aside, though, one of the main reasons that the Penkridge Road has been so blighted has to be down to utility companies and transport planners. I've been working there for twenty-odd years and in that time there has not been a single year in which the town centre end of the road has been completely dug up for at least two months, with all the dirt, misery and traffic diversions that all this entails. There isn't much scope for passing trade in those circumstances. And of course, having those shops blow up after somebody fiddled the gas meters didn't help any. This past three years of tram laying during a time of severe recession has done the death to most of what was left of the high street shopping experience along the Penkridge Road. This, I feel, is a shame.
I was asked: "Why don't you do a few posts dealing with this week's big news event?" The answer, frankly, is that there is nothing I could say about the bitch that wouldn't be ungracious, divisive and ultimately futile: she's been gone a long time and we're still living with her legacy of hard-faced men doing well out of the recession.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Psychiatrists at the University of Gaberdene have determined that people agreeing with two or more of the following statements may find themselves belabouring under a lucrative clinical condition:
- When I make a pot of tea I do not have the urge to stick the tea cosy on my head, jam my arm up my jumper and start muttering: "Not tonight, Josephine!"
- When trying to be detected by a motion sensor for office lights or automatic doors I do not make jazz hands and shout: "Mammy!"
- When I see a sign saying: "To Let" I say: "Toilet."
- I don't shout: "He's behind you!" during the battlement scene in Hamlet.
- When confronted by an upturned umbrella in the bath I do not have to quell the urge to have a crap in it.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
I'm almost ashamed to think about the long list of artists and writers I swiped from in the course of a decade's worth of King of the B-Movies. (See if you can spot the self-portrait!)
And then, partway through the 1989 Christmas Special I had a bit of a do...
Monday, April 08, 2013
Now's a good time to be planting up snowdrops. One extremely good reason is that they settle in better when planted "in the green." Another is that it's a lot easier to get your planting design worked out in practice. One of the big problems with planting dry bulbs is that you soon lose track of where they were planted and you end up either accidentally digging some of them up while planting the rest or ― worse ― planting them in serried rows like some old-fashioned municipal park. When you're planting in the green the leaves stick up out of the ground and you can check what pattern, if any, you're imposing.
When I moved into Railway Cuttings I made a big bed at the end of the garden, there to plant a damson tree underplanted with hardy geraniums, bluebells and snowdrops. By and large it works quite well as all three thicken up of their own accord, self-seeding where they're happy (and they seem to be a bit giddy down there!)
There's a nice easy way to plant snowdrops in the green: stick a pade into the ground; waggle it to and fro to create a slit in the soil; drop the snowdrops into the slit, 1-3 bulbs at a time, about two inches (5cm) apart. Then stamp down the sides of the slit to settle the bulbs in the soil. Now move the spade towards the centre of the line as if to create a T-shape but before you dig the spade in, rotate it slightly so that the new slit's something between 30° and 60° from the first one. The repeat until you've run out of either snowdrops or space. Don't worry that you're occassionally going back on yourself or crossing some of the existing lines of snowdrops: in moderation this is a good thing. If you find yourself naturally gravitating towards a herringbone pattern or a Catherine wheel-like circle ask yourself how much you're bothered about it. (I'm a bit peculiar about this sort of thing and get quite bothered about it; many wouldn't see what the fuss is about.) Whatever your decision on that one, this is quite a good way of creating a fairly natural looking pattern reasonably quickly: it takes a year or two for the lines to blur but the intersections between the slits naturally form clumps almost from the start. Five or six years in and it looks like the snowdrops did all the work themselves, which is nice.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Saturday, April 06, 2013
We are going to a wedding. So far the conversation has consisted of:
- "You're not wearing that."
- "That shirt doesn't go with that suit."
- "What do you think you're wearing?"
- "If you think you're going out with me wearing that waistcoat you've got another think coming."
- "She's had to invite their Elaine's lot from Bolton so don't be showing me up."
- "You don't need to wear a hat."
Friday, April 05, 2013
"King of the B-Movies" sprang by accident from the loins of The Rev. Ignatius Pubes (Mrs.) O.B.E.'s Cosy Corner a couple of years into its run and eventually came to supplant it. Whereas the Cosy Corner was sort of a topical mish-mash with a bit of an obsession for Stanley Baldwin and Muffin the Mule and its adverts for Whizzo the Wonder Duck-Whitener "King of the B-Movies" was an unholy mess of film, comics and radio references.
The basic premise of "King of the B-Movies" was that sense of being cheated when you came to watch the next episode of a Republic serial and found that far from the hero having to cheat death by inches as the car plummeted over the cliff he's gotten out, gone home and made himself a cup of tea long before the car had even started rolling down the hill. In the first few single strips there'd be a storyline of sorts, though with glaring continuity breaks between panels. When the strip became a full-pager continuity flew out of the window, with panels from entirely different stories barging in and upsetting the flow of what little storyline was going on.
This didn't last long. In fact, it didn't take long until I'd completely extinguished any continuity even within individual panels. By the time the first eight-page collection was issued my method of putting it together was to have the pages there and add art or lettering almost (but not quite) at random - sometimes an art panel with word balloons or captions left blank for future inspiration; sometimes a word balloon and/or caption just waiting for some art to be drawn around it.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Imagine my delight at seeing Annabel Clarabelle Jane
Walking her pet poodle down a country lane.
She caught my eye (I'd thrown it), she gave a saucy grin.
We tied the dog securely outside the village inn.
I went to buy some condoms and she drank a quart of gin
And the landlord went and put it on my slate.
The blaze of her eyes and the curl of her hair and
The curves and the dimples I found here and there
All in an April's day.
Her father grew tomatoes, the biggest that I've ever seen
And had a pet green budgie - Priscilla Desert Queen.
He has tattoos of ladies' loos from airports round the globe;
And keeps mousetraps in oddment scraps torn from a Papal robe;
And something rather grisly hanging from a nasal lobe
But I didn't care to take too close a look.
The blaze of her eyes and the curl of the hair and
The fun that we had when her parents weren't there
All in an April's day.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
I was mulling over the differences between our colonial cousins in the Unites States and us over here in Wonderland. I've been doing this a lot lately what with one thing or another. We get to hear about the contumelies and brouhahas of the American body politic and I've enough friends, acquaintances and colleagues over there for me to have news feeds full of their various arguments for and against one or other course of action.
Over here, we tend to forget that the United States is a foreign country. And a very different one at that. The idea that it's the same as us but bigger, or worthy somehow of being patronised as a younger sibling with lots of big ideas that could easily be transplanted over here is, of course, a nonsense. We struggle to get our heads around the Tea Party and they struggle to understand our love of socialised health care. They have the constitutional right to bear arms, we have the constitutional right to make fists in our pockets so long as we don't make a fuss about it. This last point came home to me the first time I went to visit friends in the Wild West and we went shopping. Standing in the queue for the till I glanced at the mither merchandise. Where we'd have had sweeties or chocolates or copies of "Hello" magazine ("Dame Flora Robson shows off her amazing baby bump! Exclusive pictures inside!") they were displaying shotgun cartridges and boxes of bullets.
We need to respect our differences, they're what makes the world what it is. And we need to be careful when we try to transplant ideologies from one place to another that they're both viable and appropriate in their new environment.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Well, that's Easter done and dusted and not a sign of the Easter Hamster, the wretch.
Most years the Easter Hamster can be trusted to trawl across the land bestowing chocolate teapots to all the little boys and girls who have been good throughout the year. A bit like Santa Claus with more disciplined whiskers and a cute button nose. It is a highlight of the magical year.
But not this year, and I have been colossally good: I haven't killed any library managers; I didn't send the "Fuck off you stupid bastard" email(s); and I didn't throw bricks through any of the windows. That's pretty damned good by anybody's standards. And what do I get for that? Not so much as a sniff of a chocolate teapot, I even checked in the back garden underneath the fence panels I haven't put up yet. Bastard.
I notice he drank the glass of sherry and ate the dish of sunflower seeds, though.