27.8.10

TAXI FOR WILLIAMS..?

As I cannot drive I am reliant upon buses, trains and taxi drivers to take me (approximately) where I want to go. For the most part it's fine, I get to sit and listen to my i-pod or read a book while someone else pushes buttons, presses pedals or moves the levers to release the excess steam and gasses. At least, I think that is what they do.
As I say, I can't drive.

The worst of these three methods of public transport, by an over-priced country mile, has to be the taxi driver.

Ah, where would we be without the taxi driver?
Well, probably on the phone asking where the fuck he is, only to be told he's five minutes away by a woman whose suicidal voice can barely conceal the fact that she has to talk to these chuntering fucktards on an all-too regular basis.

It's no coincidence that Martin Scorsese's most terrifyingly bleak and psychotic creation isn't one of the tiny gangsters he is famed for, but instead is a sleep deprived cabbie. There is more unadulterated shit spews forth from the mouth of the average late night cabbie than a malfunctioning industrial muckspreader.

There are a lot of good cab drivers.
I just don't seem to get them. In fact, I've got so many tales of nutzoid cab drivers I think I get woozy when I meet a competent one. For instance, there was the one who tried to kidnap me and run me over on Kirkstall Road because I accused him of overcharging me.
The minicab driver in London who, after a cursory check to see if I was a policeman, opened the armrest of his car to reveal cocaine, canabis, speed or bottled miniatures.
Then there was the Manchester cabbie who drove me to the bottom of  the recently riot-torn Cheetham Street in Salford, stopped, opened the door and said 'That's as far as I go. Good luck..!".
Oh and there was the driver who had heard me earlier on the radio saying that I'd had no tea and tried to push a half eaten fish butty through the slot in the plexi-glass where you pay while urging me to "Eat! Eat!".
There was the overly cheery chap who turned up at 5am to take me to work who informed me he hadn't beeped his horn "because I could see you in the shower.." (Cue awkward 10 min ride to work).
Or what about the one who told me that he 'doesn't pick up blacks because they..' then promptly fell asleep, no doubt bored by his own cliched racism, whilst still driving, causing me to attempt to get control of the car as we veered into oncoming traffic, only for him to wake up just in time and tell me not to touch his wheel?

However, when I have to boil it down I think there are just three types of taxi driver - the Over Familiar, The Beligerent Expert and The Thousand Yard Stare. Of these three, I do prefer The Thousand Yard Stare. He'll let me relax, drive me to where I want to go in absolute silence while his unblinking eyes pierce the rain and the darkness. He may have seen things that would freeze a man's soul, he may have even killed as recently as that day, but he won't bang on about it and he'll get you home quickly. So he can kill again. Probably.
The Over Familiar is a bit more frightening. I once got a cab to my mate Steve's and had a long chat with a cabbie because I was a bit drunk. FOUR YEARS LATER he recounted every word of that conversation, the names of my friends, their partners, where we worked.. in fact, I don't recall telling him where I wanted to go....
I was reminded of this last night when the cab driver booked to take me home from Producing the Late Show started our journey with the words 'What happened to the beard?'
I haven't had a beard since Christmas 2008.
He then went on to ask me about my work with such specific examples that I can only think he has been rooting around in my bins ahead of the urban foxes.
But the most prevelant of the cab driving sub-groups is The Beligerent Expert. His theories are based on Late Night Talk Radio, what he's heard at The Rank, his hatred of unlicensed cabs, the more vitriolic of the columnists in The Sun or The Mail, and is fuelled by a diet of Red Bull and Pringles.

It's because of The Beligerent Expert that I've had to learn the phrase 'Well, there's no club loyalty these days.. they all get paid too much...", no matter how drunk I am.

It's because of The Beligernet Expert that I have had to agree that a former colleague has a chinese wife ("I've picked him up. Bald bloke? Asian? Dead posh? He's got a chinese wife. You ask him.").

And it's because of The Beligerent Expert that I almost got a punch in the mouth when I was 18. He'd told me that 'This was a nice area before the sooties moved in..' To which I asked 'What? The puppet?'
Crazy bastard nearly took us both out at a roundabout while shouting that it was because of smartarses like me that the country was going to the dogs. Thankfully I made it home in one-piece, but was a bit narked that I'd been bollocked by a bigot and then had to pay him!

Most recently, this week in fact, I was told by my Beligerent Expert that "What I'm saying, right, is that your girlfriend might be clever, right, but women in general are stupid because their brains are too small to hold intelligence.." When asked where he'd heard this he said "It's what I've been brought up to believe". Well, I was brought up to believe in Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy but I bloody-well grew out of it.

Women's brains are too small to hold intelligence? Like the human brain is a bucket that we have to top-up with liquid intelligence! And that men keep their superior intelligence in a bigger bucket while women try to keep theirs from spilling out of a dainty egg cup!
If that were the case then all people with tiny heads should be locked away while Jeff Wode would be the fucking President.

I wondered what his mum or sisters do for a living, cos I'll fucking bet my eyes that it's not ferrying drunks and sarcastic bloggers around at 1am in the morning while brushing Ginster crumbs off their crotches.
But perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe women do have littler brains and therefore cannot 'hold intelligence'? In fact, wasn't it Sir Stephen Hawking who said "WOMEN ARE IDIOTS WHO CAN ONLY DO COOKING AND HAVE BABIES" (don't judge me, that's how he talks) in his book A Brief History Of Shite? You know, just before that chapter on how all Polish people drug their babies to keep them quiet in the Dole Office and his top-tips for the best way to get cider and black vomit out of the upholstery of a Vauxhall Vectra? Wasn't that him?


No.
It wasn't.
You're a fucking idiot.

And you're the reason that, twenty-two years after they were initially booked for me, I'm going to have to start taking my driving lessons.
Or, worst-case scenario, the Late Bus....


THIS RANT LOOKS PRETTIER WHEN WORDLED...

26.8.10

SILLY SEASON

I was going to write an impassioned piece about how I hate "silly season". How I hate it that non-stories get airtime on radio, tv and in the newspapers just because the 'proper journalists' who work there cannot be bothered to find real news just because their 'pet' experts or Press Officers are on holiday.

How the publsihers and editors have such little regard for their audience that rather than debunking the 'Ground Zero Mosque' non-story or explaining in depth the disastrous economic situation we're facing, they'll get people disproportionately worked up about a footballers girlfriend or a cat in a bin.

I was going to explain that the News is cyclical and therefore quite repetitive, which is why many journalists are quite jaded and feel their passion for the job gets chipped away with each passing story. Why phrases like 'our thoughts are with their families' or 'there are no survivors' or 'killed their own children before turning the gun on themselves' become used with such terrifiying regularity that I can almost excuse them taking the whole of august off and replacing the news with a two page spread of celebrities and their less-successful siblings or two unconnected pictures of Jennifer Aniston taken 20 years apart to show that she has slightly changed her appearance.

I was going to explain why that's part of the reason I don't do journalism but do like to entertain instead, and that's why it's OK for ME to do the silly stuff but that my job gets harder when EVERYBODY is being silly.

YOU DO THE NEWS REPORTING.
I'LL DO THE SILLY STUFF.

I was going to write all this.
But it's August.
It's Silly Season.


So here's a Monkey On A Bicycle.






SCARY MONSTERS SUPER FREAKS

At the time of writing this I have been awake for over 16 hours. And it's my own fault.

Yesterday, my beautiful tiny girlfriend's beautiful tiny daughter asked me to start reading her a new Roald Dahl book. She loves Roald Dahl. She loves The Twits, she loves Matilda, she loves the Giraffe The Pelly and Me, and she particularly loves The Fantastic Mr Fox. She loves The Fantastic Mr Fox so much that we now have at least 5 copies of the book in various formats as well as the DVD. When the film came out at the cinema she was so disappointed in Mr Fox's voice because it was George Clooney and not me.

IN YOUR FACE, GEORGE CLOONEY!!
Anyway, the fact is that Abbie (that's her name) loves Roald Dahl. She even loves it when I pretend I have forgotten his name and call him Ronald Dull. The problem is, I'm not sure Roald Dahl loves her. Or any child. Have you ever read any Roald Dahl?
Dear lordy!
Maybe I've become sanitised by the Disneyfication of popular children's stories but in any given Roald Dahl story there's cannibalism, murder, parents being killed (by car crash down ravines or just a random rhinocerous-eating), anima cruelty, violent crime, abduction, torture, child-neglect, I could go on...
Well, after refusing to read the Fantastic Mr Fox for the billionth time we settled on the BFG, a delightful story of murderous 50ft ogres, children being stolen from the safety of their beds and a massive military campaign inolving bondage, helicopters and starvation in a massive pit. At first she didn't like the BFG, it was too scary. "Ah," I said, all-wise an' that, "Roald Dahl stories ALWAYS start off being scary, but then they become all nice..."
Idiot.
The BFG passed without much incident, just a few jumps at the various giant voices, a few shrieks at the Fleshlumpeater trying to get her. No big deal.
So, we're fast running out of Roald Dahl books...
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, I suggest? No.
Danny Champion Of The World? No, it's for boys.
"How about The Witches?" Yay!
Because, after all, Roald Dahl stories always start off being nasty but then they....
Idiot.
Two A.M. - "MUMMY! MUMMY! THE WITCHES ARE GOING TO GET ME!"

Idiot. You're at work at 5am. Idiot.

You have to swap rooms now, because you scared her with the Witchy Voice, and because Roald Dahl made you tell her to be afraid of all old women wearing gloves.

And that is why I half-slept in a tiny child's bed, surrounded by cuddly toys, looking up at Disney Princesses, your honour...
And why I'm soooooooooooooo tired!

I love the little uns, though. They make me laugh. This week I've been playing in a fabulous playground in Saltaire with all three of my brilliant, beautiful, funny and wonderful nephews (although Mark is the best one), played pitch and putt with Josh and Abbie, finally met Stanley (who didn't seem all that impressed, to be honest), and got the cold shoulder from Emma's little lad Tommy on a lift home from work! Yet despite their little tantrums and strops, demands and lack of sleepies, they all acted far more maturely than some lazy, petulant, long-standing senior BBC staff.

Odd that.



Anyway, I'm on the radio tomorrow. See which one of them I let on my show.....


(Unfortunately, it's not Mark... which is a shame because he is awesome.)






THIS IS ENGLAND

Hello.
This week I went on my first holiday since 2002.

Just let that sink in.

2002 - when I went by Eurostar/coach to visit my brother who was living in the beautiful town of Rouen and had a harrowing journey back which featured loud race hatred between passengers, armed guards taking some asylum seekers off the coach and, for part of the journey, me sitting by the drivers feet holding onto a torn-off length of seat belt that was keeping the malfunctioning door closed.

Buy me a pint sometime, I'll tell you ALL about it.

But this time would be different. This time I would be going by air. I haven't been on holiday by air since late 2000, back when Bill Clinton was technically still the President of the USA and Cadbury's were selling Wispa's unironically.

On Tuesday I would be flying from the misleadingly named Robin Hood airport in Doncaster - although, to be fair to Easyjet they had got into the spirit of the place by robbing me of £3.50 for the world's tiniest snack box (contents = one small packet of hula hoop dust, a dwarf's kit-kat, a triangle of laughing cow, a shortbread button and some Mr Dog masquerading as pate). That was one thing that hadn't changed in 10 years of air travel - you still can't get anything edible once you're off the ground.

The reason I was flying from Doncaster, apart from the fact that that was where the pilot had parked the plane, was to go to Prague for my tiny girlfriend's mother's surprise 60th birthday. I'll clarify that last bit, actually, because it wasn't a surprise to my tiny girlfriend's mother that she was having a birthday. She's had a few. Regular as clockwork. So she was expecting her 60th birthday. She'd apparently been anticipating it for quite a bit.

No, the surprise bit was that she didn't know that one day after she'd landed in Prague thinking that everyone had forgotten her birthday, her two daughters, their respective partners and her grandchild would all jump out during lunch and yell "Surprise!" like a chinese builder in a racist old joke.

Well, after months of subterfuge and deception it worked like a dream. Janet was visibly moved that everyone had gone to so much effort to join her on her special day and treat her to a fabulous meal over looking St Charles' bridge that she almost stopped boozing....

Prague is very lovely. There were many amusing entertainments that we just didn't have time to take in, such as the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments, The Marionette Theatre's prodction of Don Giovanni or the Communism and Nuclear Bunker tours... I thoroughly enjoyed myself, pottering around art galleries, taking too many photographs, eating badly and taking advantage of the appalling exchange rate and ridiculous currency to the tune of many, many beers.

It was while I was shopping that I was reminded just how appalling the English are abroad. Like many people I didn't bother to learn a single word of the language of the country I was visiting and at one point even mimed what it was that I wanted in a shop (although in my defence I did stop short of behaving like my Dad who just SHOUTS slowly and PUTS-O AN-O "O" AT THE END-O OF EVERY WORD-O and thinks he is speaking fluent Spanish).

In Prague the shopkeeper selling me a postcard or a bun will try Spanish, French, German or Dutch before discovering I'm English and then politely serve me. They can flit from tongue to tongue at the drop of a chapeau, yet we treat anyone with a few languages under their belt as suspicious. Remember back when Tony Blair spoke to the French in French? The papers seemed to think he was showing off, but surely we ALL learnt french at school? Come on, you must remember Monsieur Bertillon from the Tricolor books? He was always popping down the patisserie? But we immediately forget what we've been told and sometime later we have to google babelfish for the French word for 'hat'.

Rubbish.

We're like Bruce Willis in Fifth Element - we only speak two languages, English and bad English.

We're terrible. The Daily Mail and Littlejohn and other assorted mentalists constantly bang on about a flood of foreigners who refuse to speak OUR language, eat OUR food, wear OUR clothes and yet the English go to Majorca to eat fry-ups in Gary Lineker's brother's pub and complain that they can't get Eastenders or PG Tips or just simply decimate Ibiza every day of every year in public displays of drug-taking, drunkeness and violence.

"Ah, yes but we're helping their economy by being tourists.." Really? Can you imagine the unholy shit-fit that the Daily Mail would have if every 19 year old in Spain danced their tits off til 4am, drunk, high and then started shagging in the streets of Filey? It would be worth sending an invite to them just to see Jan Moir have a massive stroke.

Anyway, after a lovely couple of days enjoying life it was time to redress the cosmic balance by seeing which psychoid nutjob/fuckwit/mentalist would ruin the end of the week back in Blighty.
Which brings me to Pontefract.


On Saturday I had to get a bus from Pontefract to Leeds. I missed the bus and had to wait 40 mins for another. "Ah well," I thought, "I'll pop in that quiet pub and read my book".

Sweet.
Jesus.

As I walked in I saw three old men who were about as drunk as it is humanly possible to be shouting a song at the top of their croaky voices. "FUCK THEM ALL, FUCK THEM ALL, FUCK THE LONG AND THE SHORT AND THE TALL".

I kept my headphones on just in case one of them wanted to have one of those finger-jabby conversations that ends with me getting hit or being called a twat. Anyway, at this point an old slapper came in and started pirouetting, put her leg on the bar and started flirting with the old blokes who all decided to shout how and where they would have sex with her.

I drank my Guinness in 3 gulps and just as the door closed behind me I heard these words - "I'd fuck her on the bar and eat (pork) scrathings out of her crack"....

Balance restored.

Welcome home.


THIS PARTICULAR MUSING HAS BEEN 'WORDLED'
HAVE A LOOK...



CHAIRMAN OF THE BORED

Hello.
I am really quite bored.

I've done bugger-all all day.

This weekend I've decided to stay in and save a little money, so I got up early, checked my messages, watched some comedy on 4OD and the I-Player, read a few chapters of Al Franken's 'The Truth - with jokes", ate half a cheesecake, watched the Neighbour's omnibus and then pottered around listening to Lauren Laverne's excellent 6Music show. I don't know why but these days I tend not to watch or listen to anything while it is being broadcast live. Unless I'm working on it. Or presenting it. Then I'm all ears.

Oh yes.

Anyway, on this particular show there was an interview with Richard Herring about his Edinburgh show, his books, his range of ceramic hamsters, his endorsements of organic lampshades and so on, where he said something very interesting.

Richard was discussing the nature of writing a blog and how he had kept one since 2002 to keep the creative juices flowing. If you haven't read it you really should, it's very funny. (One of my favourite entries was from years ago when he came into Radio Leeds with Toby Jones on the night of the general election - not the last one, the last proper one. A very bizarre evening in which he was mistaken for an MP was followed up by him coming back the very next night as a guest on the old Martin Kelner Late Show and was subjected to a faux-French grilling by Eduoard!)

Anyway, give it a read.
http://www.richardherring.com/warmingup/


But, I digress...

I've always fancied myself as a bit of a writer, but I dislike the process. Ridiculous really. I mean, I spend ages on the laptop or writing gags at work, but never take the time to keep a journal or a diary. I do have notebooks, LOTS of them, mainly for ideas for silly radio features, cartoons, etc., and I started a children's story (the last refuge of the blinkered artist. Everyone from Madonna to Jordan has written a bloody kid's book...) but that's an ongoing epic, so I thought I'd start a semi-regular blog-type thing on here.

I have always been a good procrastinator but having a laptop at home has made me semi professional these days. I can spend hours on wikipedia reading about the origins of Judge Dredd, videos of George Carlin, music reviews, play.com, ebay, bustymidget.com, youtube and so on, so it's about time I put it to some kind of use.

Seeing as many people have commented on how much they like my regular ranty FB statuses and terrible jokes, I thought I'd try and expand on that. From now on I shall write a blog a week, sometimes more but never less. It could be anything. A film review, a recommended album, or about how I seem to be regularly plagued by the nation's fuckwits. Whatever it is I shall jot a few lines and you can tell me what you think. Let's see how long this lasts and if I have actually got anything to say....

So thank you, Richard Herring and 6Music. It's all your fault.
(Bet you wish they'd scrapped it now..)