29.3.11

BIDS YOU GREETING

So that's Winter over for another year... and that's the one & only thing that George Osborne got right in his budget, he took an hour away from everyone in the UK and now it's lovely and bright.

Goodbye GMT.

Hello BST.

Mind you, as the star of 'The Thick Of It' Chris Addison noted on Twitter, "since the Coalition came to power we've all been on BS Time".

Last week's budget was the usual mix of dreariness and patronisation, a complex and soul-sapping political stock take that left everyone muttering something about a "penny off petrol" over and over again like a tramp trying to fill his Zippo.

As a non-driver I don't even know what that means and, more importantly, I don't care. Which is how the budget works. No-one gives a shit about the Greater Good they just want to hear how everything directly affects them.




 "I'm a single mum, what about my Family Tax Credits?"






"I'm a Country Gent what about my monocle and port allowance?"




"Am a Zulu. What happened to my favourite 80's girl band?"





Apart from the Zulu, no-one cares about anyone else, they basically want to know if their allowances are cut - and then after that, what has happened to booze, fags and petrol?

Hmm, take a wild guess.... No?
I'll give you a clue.

The answer, as it is EVERY SINGLE YEAR is that the price has gone UP.

It ALWAYS goes up.

I never understand the hand-wringing and wailing about Budget Day. What are people expecting? A return to those marvellous old fictional Budgets when everyone got free trifle, a bottle of gin and a go on Princess Margaret?




"Oh yes, in the olden days the Chancellor would pop 'round with a suitcase full of nylons and Hershey bars, scrub the top step, give you a crate of stout and brand new mangle . Them was proper Budget days an' no mistake, Guv.."




There's no point in moaning about the rise in petrol, you should just accept it. Every year, at around Budget time, petrol goes up. It costs lots.


It's not the luxury it once was. It's expensive because it's scarce.

You don't just find it laying about in fields.

First you have to wait millions of years for the dinosaurs and trees to break down into their component gases and fluids, then bore into the earth (sometimes after diving to the bottom of the sea), find it, pump it out, contain it, ship it, refine it, transport it...


- and usually from underneath people who don't want you to have it in the first place.

Who have guns.

Lots of guns.

It's why Wooton Bassett comes to a standstill every couple of days. 

It costs lives.

So shut the fuck up and cherish your penny.


Anyway, I hardly notice the Budget as March bleeds me dry every year regardless.

In March it is my brother's birthday, my mother's birthday, my father's birthday, my parent's anniversary, my best mate's anniversary, his sister's birthday - that gives me about a week's breathing space before it is either Easter or Mother's Day too.

Which in itself gives me a fortnight to get some money together for my beautiful tiny girlfriend's birthday.

I am forever popping into Clinton's or Paperchase or WH Smith and looking for appropriate cards for people during March. I must go through about 3 or 4 trees worth every year.

I don't mind getting the greeting cards, I rather enjoy it, especially the ones for the female friends and relatives. They have such lovely designs to choose from. Although that's a different story for my male friends and relatives.

The choice of design that sums you up as a man, regardless of age, sensibility, personality or taste, are, were and will always will be, these:
  • Fishing. 
  • 1920's Motor Racing Cars. 
  • Motorcycles.
  • A Non-Specific Trophy. 
  • The Tour De France.
  • Football. 
  • A Boat. 

Or, if you're lucky, a montage of ALL of the above. 

Always in pastel/watercolour and always with silvery-calligraphy writing.


The only exception to these are the new types of "humorously insulting" cards that tend to have a 1950's stock-photo of a serious-faced man in a suit, looking hapless, accompanied by touching, heartfelt greetings such as  

 
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANDAD. 
YOU ARE PAST IT, YOU OLD CUNT!" 

or  


"AREN'T YOU DEAD YET? 
GIVE ME YOUR HOUSE... YOU OLD CUNT!"


(Somewhere there's a greeting card executive thinking "Hmm. They're not bad..")

We also have cards for Easter, St Patrick's Day and even Pancake Day these days, alongside Mother's Day, Father's Day and even Grandparent's Day, and some of the more bitter, mealy-mouthed and tight among you will be saying "But Mr Williams, these are days invented by the Greeting Card firms to screw more money out of us. You can't approve, surely?"

And as I resist the urge to immediately do a Leslie Neilson impression, I say unto you Yes. Yes I do approve of made-up events and occasions.
Let's have more of them.

St George's Day. St Andrew's Day. St David's Day. St Helen's Day. St Pancras Day. Saint & Greavsie's Day. Saint Etienne's Day. Ladies Day. Lollipop Lady's Day. Midsummer's Day. Midsommer Murder's Day. Morse Day. Poirot Day. Sherlock Holmes' Day. Showaddywaddy-Day. Daniel Day-Lewis-Day. Simon Day.

Let's have more. More, I say!!

Because in these miserable times there are far worse people to give your money to than people who make and sell greeting cards that make your friends and families smile.


People who make and sell alcohol, petrol and tobacco for instance.


Or Royal Wedding crap......

But more on that Next Time!


NB: In answer to the Zulu Chief's question - According to their official website:
Bananarama were in Paris  for 3 days in March where they enjoyed a tour of the city!
On the last day, Sara and Keren took part in the famous French TV show "Les Années Bonheur" hosted by Patrick Sebastien.
The show should be aired in May on "France 2" TV channel.


What?

What??

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25.3.11

IF I WAS A RICH MAN....

I'm writing this ahead of tonight's EuroMillions lottery that has an estimated jackpot of £117 million pounds or, if you are reading this abroad, about 32 euros.

For many years I have been dead-set against the lotteries - both National & Euro - always maintaining, like all whinging liberals, that they are a tax on the poor.

However, I have decided to revise my opinion somewhat as I really fucking want £117 million pounds.

Fuck the poor.

To put that number into perspective The Daily Mirror reports that amassing such an instant fortune would make the winner (IE, me) the 570th richest person in Britain, putting your (IE, mine) personal fortune ahead of those of Rod Stewart, Phil Collins and David Bowie.

"It could be you..."
The Mirror, along with all the other lazy tabloid newspapers who have printed the press release email verbatim, then go on to provide a list of things that you (IE, Me) could get with your (IE, my) spondoolicks:

"The money would buy you 688,235 nights at a prestigious hotel, 86,346 Givenchy bags or 162,500 pairs of Alexander McQueen skull boots".

Why you would want to spend a total of 1,885 years in a hotel room filled to the brim with gaudily-designed shitty handbags by Givenchy in your 'skull-boots', whatever the hell they are, is anyone's guess. It seems to be a complete waste of money.

As much of a complete waste of a money as handing it over to those fucking dinner-ladies and bus-drivers who always seem to bloody win and then go back to work because they are bored, insisting that the jackpot hasn't changed them.

Well it would bloody well change me - and I'll tell you how....

If (IE, when) I won the Euro Lottery I would:

Jet-Ski around the EU surplus Wine Lake

Buy some chimps, dress them up in little business suits and send them to all-day meetings with my former bosses.


Buy Leeds United's Elland Road ground and then flatten it. Then I'd use the land for something useful like allotments, seeing as it already attracts so many vegetables.

Make Simon Cowell tap dance for 12 hours solid while singing "80,000 Green Bottles Sitting On A Wall" in front of a baying crowd telling him he's a cunt. See how he likes it.

Book Westminster Abbey on the 29th April, an hour before the Royal Wedding and fill the aisles with ripe brie.
"Gosh. Whiffy!"
Take all my mates to the set of TV's  Top Gear to meet the stars..


Have David Haye follow me everywhere so that he can twat anyone and everyone who feel the need to tell me to "Cheer up, it might never happen.."

Buy my Dad a peerage, so he can continue to be argumentative and cantankerous, but now in a big robe.

Force the cast of My Family to walk around Britain barefoot, apologising to anyone they meet for wasting 11 years of their fucking lives.


Melt the World Cup for scrap.

Force the BNP bankrupt and then offer them £10 million pounds if Nick Griffin can prove his racial superiority over David Haye in 10 rounds of bare-knuckle fighting. At Wembley.

Buy my beautiful tiny girlfriend those brand new tits she's had her eye on.

Hire a private detective to find the home addresses of all the teachers who told me I wouldn't amount to anything, then pay Brian Blessed to shout through a specially enhanced megaphone into their letterboxes, right throughout the night, with a list of what I've spent my massive wad on.

"HE'S EATING SWAN SANDWICHES WITH SALMA HAYEK & BEYONCE. ARE YOU? 
ARE YOU, MR LONGBOTTOM? ARE YOU??"

Eat swan sandwiches with Salma Hayek & Beyonce.

Buy a new kettle.




On the off-chance I DON'T win tonight (which is highly unlikely) I would like to remind everyone that money cannot buy you happiness....


So long as you have your health, nothing else matters
You can't take it with you.
There are no pockets in shrouds.


...and I'd like to remind my current employer what a conscientious worker I am - and take this opportunity to apologise to them for leaving a fresh turd to 'mature' in their right-hand side desk drawer over the weekend.


Money does funny things to people.


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22.3.11

TRUE FAITH

The other day, just before bathtime, my beautiful tiny girlfriend's beautiful tiny daughter asked me if I believed in God.

It was a bit of an odd moment as we hadn't even been discussing theology or religion, and had in fact just wound up a clockwork Shaun The Sheep bath toy and let it go.

Maybe she saw Shaun The Sheep paddling with his flippers and snorkel on as a metaphor for the Lamb of God, Our Saviour Jesus Christ?

After all, did he not walk among us?
Was he not born in a stable?
Didn't this clockwork Shaun also walk on the water?


No. He didn't do any of those things
He's a plastic toy we got from Tesco.
And he just sort of paddles.

Now I come to think of it, I think she was probably just trying to get out of having her hair washed.

Anyway, it turns out that she knows 'all about religion' thanks to a Cbeebies programme about various different cultures and their celebrations. It's called "Let's Celebrate!" and is one of those lovely new shows that children have these days that teaches them all about tolerance, co-operation and friendship, rather than the uncontrollably violent programmes that were around when I was a kid.


Anyway, we had a little chat about Jesus (as much of a chat as you can have between a six year old and an idiot man-child) and she told me that one of her little classmates is a 'muslin', and that when she grows up she wants to be a 'muslin' because they have Eid.

There was something so terribly sweet and touching about the way she views religion - who has the nicer party clothes, food and henna patterns - that I felt quite guilty telling her that I didn't particularly believe in any of the different religions.

I'm simply not all that bothered.

At this point she got annoyed and told me there was Christian And 'Muslin' and I had to choose one of them. I chose 'Muslin' and she seemed to be happy with this and continued to play with her Shaun The Sheep.

It reminded me of years ago when many of my friends at primary school were 'muslins'. There wasn't really the fevered divisiveness you get as an adult, they were just kids who wore different clothes, ate different food and sometimes spoke a different language.

We would chase the little girls in their hijab dresses making PacMan noises (the girls being the ghosts) and it wasn't out of any kind of disrespect, it was just kids making light of something they didn't really understand.

That was as much as your tiny brain can process at that age, and yet it would appear to be a damn-sight preferable to the way many adults process information when confronted with the notion of someone being a Muslim.

For instance, look at this Charlie:


They say a little knowldege is a dangerous thing - well, no knowlege is absolutely fucking lethal.

(And by the way, EDL, stop hijacking the skinhead look again... anyone with an ounce of sense will tell you that comes from the West Indian ska and British Mod tradition. Fuck off back to wearing Brownshirts.)

But the intolerance isn't as one-sided as all that, obviously. Look at this clip. A Muslim cleric denigrates a Pakistani actress for taking part in a Big Brother style show without having seen it (as is often the way) and gets a lesson in tolerance and respect.


It is one of the most dignified things I've seen in a long time, yet it makes me sad. It makes me sad that Veena Malik has to defend herself to the extent she has when she has clearly done nothing wrong.

There's a headline in the news today that Scientists have used data from NINE countries to determine when religion will 'die' there.This news comes hot on the heels of another report that claims that almost two-thirds of Britons do not consider themselves religious.

So, looking out of the window you will forgive me for expecting scenes of apocalyptic destructive celebration as the churches are ransacked and the local Wicker Men is torn down, with Scientists in their white flowing robes dance around a huge Bunsen burner shouting "We did it! We finally killed God off!" before pushing over a nativity scene and bellowing "E=MC DEADDDDD!!!"  at it and then barking like an American talk-show audience.

A poll of 1,900 people (so far, so random) questioned by the British Humanist Association (no agenda there then?) via the 2011 Census has concluded that two thirds of Britons are, by their own admission, filthy heathens. So because 61% of less than 2,000 people can't be arsed to fill in their massive census form properly we have triumphed where the Roman Empire failed.
God has been killed-off by red-tape.

"Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough..."

Bollocks.

Given that one of the nine countries is Ireland I think we can safely say that the findings are bogus at worst, and wishful thinking at best. In reality, absolutely nothing has happened.

As for religion being killed off?
Well, it is so unutterably boring that you actually need the patience of a Saint just to read through the fucking  report .

Like the Royal Wedding, Justin Beiber & The 2012 Olympic Games, the newspapers are telling us that the Great British Public is feeling a certain amount euphoric joy at something that is only of nominal interest to a few nutjobs. It might give the snorefest that is Thought For The Day on Radio 4 a new angle for their dreary daily sermon or an upcoming Emo-band some inspiration for their troublesome follow-up single, but in reality it means nothing.

Given that there are about two dozen Facebook groups dedicated to having 'Jedi' established as a authentic religion on the Census, it would appear to me that the general public is yet again having a bit of a giggle at the pollsters expense, like when they voted Leona Lewis the most Inspirational Woman of All Time, Michael Jackson the Artist of The Millennium, Boris Johnson the Mayor of London or David Cameron the Prime Minister.

That's the thing with surveys, we're not all that bothered about the outcome, we just like a good giggle.

Scientists, or Boffins as they are always called in tabloid reports, are always claiming to have discovered something or uncovered something monumental, when in actual fact close inspection reveals that they are just cocking about. Rather than wiping out malaria, cancer, AIDS they are busying themselves with the correct formula for spreading marmalade on fucking toast.

"Are you going to cure Alzheimer's today, Professor?"
"No. I'm just going to have some marmalade on toast.."
"Where's your methodology book?"
"Shit, I'll just have to have Coco Pops instead then.."
"You could be a Crunchy Nutty Professor!"
"Fuck off, Dawkins."


These people are no more representative of science than the EDL are of the majority of English people or the Muslim cleric berating Veena Malik is of most muslims.


Religion has been supposedly dying out for since before I was born. Church attendances are so minuscule that you can hold a sermon on a tandem these days, and the dwindling audiences have been blamed on everything from home entertainment systems to the influx of immigrants to this country over the years. Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Rastafarians, Seven Day Adventists and so on..
You know, the ones that study the WRONG religions.

The church has been said to be out of touch with the I-Pod/Playstation/LaserDisc/TomyTronic/Dansette/Wax-Cylinder generation, as its story of a resurrected love-lorn magical zombie and his rag-tag gang of underground radicals doesn't connect with new audiences.

Who wants to read about a team of men persecuted for crimes they didn't commit when we've got the A-Team?

Who cares about the tale of a mystical chosen son having to defy authority to destroy the ultimate evil when we have The Deathly Hallows coming up?
In 3D!

Jesus can't compete with that.

Obviously, I'm a cynic. I don't care which religion you do or do not believe in, in much the same way I don't care which fabric softener you prefer to use. It's completely irrelevant to me, but if it makes you feel good then fine - carry on. Just don't irritate me.

A long time ago a comedian, whose name escapes me, said that religious wars are basically about who has the best imaginary friend. As funny and as sacrilegious as you may find that sentence, it's essentially correct.

That said, science hasn't managed to kill off God in the past, either through the explanation of the Origin of The Species or carbon-dating dinosaur bones, but what it does do is throw up more questions - which is why I suppose I do prefer it to religion.

Scientists  are supposed to work with empirical data, and come to conclusions via hard-work, experiments, theory and deduction. Not take the findings of a half arsed census and deliver it as fact.

Religion claims to know the answer via Faith (or, as it is more commonly known, guesswork) which is fine, you may believe without having facts to back up your case, but just don't expect me to believe that Lenor is better than Comfort on your say so... and don't try to engage me in a theological debate because I'm not that smart and quite honestly I really don't care about the outcome.

In this way I can enjoy the ramblings of D:Ream's Dr Brian "billionsandbillionsandbillionsandbillionsofyearsold" Cox as much as the wisdom of Dr Rowan Williams. I'm as happy to see Archbishop Dr John Sentamu as I am Dr Robert Winston. All of these men have interesting and valid theories about our universe, I can simply pick and choose the ones I want to believe.


"There's only one way to settle this.. FIIIIIGHT!!!!"

I'm not an atheist, nor agnostic, I simply can't get worked up to the point of righteous ire and fury that seems to come part & parcel with being 100% convinced that you're certain you KNOW about God's Will, Plan or Thought Process, and can speak on his behalf.

Hell, I can't even guess, or would dare to presume, what my girlfriend is thinking let alone an omniscient deity. Can you imagine the shit the Pope is going to be in if he's got it all wrong??


What I'm trying to say is I hate the divisive nature of religion, and also the pomposity of certain pseudo-scientists. There are more similarities in reason and the different faiths. We should concentrate on what makes us the same rather than what makes us different.

So if my beautiful tiny girlfriend's beautiful tiny daughter grows up and decides she wants to be a 'muslin', then fine. It's her choice. She can be whatever she likes once she has looked at all her options - rather than the majority of people whose religious beliefs stem from what their parents believed when they were born.

So long as she is as kind, happy and considerate to others as she is right now I don't mind. I just want her to be happy and to respect the differences of others without judging.

After all, was it not written in the Ballad of Shaun The Sheep that "He even mucks about with those that cannot bleat..."?


Hmm.
Makes you think....

Amen.



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17.3.11

PYJAMA-DRAMA

It's amazing how fast middle-age creeps up on you.

One minute you're wearing a tanktop ironically, the next minute you're wearing a tanktop.

One minute you're listening to ELO for the kitsch value, the next minute you're just listening to ELO.

One minute you're gigging and clubbing like it's 1995, the next thing Primal Scream's Screamadelica is re-issued for it's 20th Anniversary.

How the bloody hell did that happen?


When I went to see Primal Scream back in 1994 at the Leeds T&C, Bobby Gillepsie had to be lifted off the microphone he was holding-onto-for-dear-life by a roadie, who then lifted him back onto it like the straw-doll of hair and drugs he was, right at the end for the encore.

Encore finished they picked his floppy body back off the mic-stand, carried him offstage again and presumably stored him back in the wicker toybox full of JD, coke, Rolling Stones CDs and Kate Moss's pants.

There was no suggestion of Bobby Gillespie making it to 2011.
He'd have been lucky to make it twenty to eleven that fucking night.

Yet that 'soundtrack to a generation' is celebrating it's 20th anniversary meaning that, alongside Pulp's Common People & Radiohead's OK Computer, the music that I still like to think is timeless, fresh and innovative is, to modern ears, hackneyed, old and cliched.

However, some of it IS influential. Some of the worst stuff, unfortunately.

I sometimes work on a new music show on local radio and have lost count of the number of football casuals that come swaggering in to the studios to sing some cliched acoustic dirge in the style of the Gallagher Brothers.

Not the good stuff by the Gallagher Brothers.
Not the incendiary call-to-arms stuff.
The Little James-stuff.
The Liam-stuff.

It's easy to forget how in the early to mid 90's Oasis were actually a breath of fresh air. It's especially easy to forget if you've heard anything of Beady Eye.

I followed Oasis for about five years, from their second gig at the Duchess of York in Leeds (with the astonishingly poor Whiteout in suppport), through the mid-range-University venues, to the Manchester Academy, to the G-Mex and on to their 3 sold-out nights at Knebworth (where I got in by selling t-shirts and sleeping in the merchandise tent), calling at all manner of odder venues in-between.

They were a great band for their time... but that time went on and on and on, mainly thanks to people like me who hadn't noticed that despite the hair loss, the paunchy bellies and the bleeding gums we weren't in our twenties any more. They were past their prime and so were we.

But that's the great thing about the sports casual look. It masks a body that's done a lot more casual than it has sport. 

Mmmm. Hot - like a Salford dole queue-hot.

(I feel really sorry for fans of The Horrors when they start to hit forty. How the fuck are you going to squeeze into women's trousers then?)

So the message of 'You gotta be yourself, you can't be no-one else..' was lost as the fans chucked away their identity and individuality to become yet another youth-tribe, dressed in a fashion that wasn't fashion. It was the uniform of the White Van Man. With shit, feathered hair.

The songs became less anthemic and more of a drooling, drawling terrace-chant, the swagger, confidence and power of Supersonic was superceded by the stumble, mumble late-night dreariness of Don't Look Back In Anger as the typical Oasis song to be played on the radio. It still is. They hit the wall with Wonderwall, hired half of Ocean Colour Scene and nothing was ever the same.

As Jim Kerr could've told him, it's all over once you've had Patsy Kensit.


That woman drains creativity.
Vaginally, it would appear.

But still they plodded on, until Liam, seeing the popularity of the novelty-pub-act-circuit decided to become his own fancy dress outfit-supplier and official tribute band.

What a way to piss off, and to piss on, your fans....

But this Blog isn't about Oasis being shit (that seam has been mined for years) nor is it about Primal Scream's anniversary or any of those Britpop bands I loved so much. It's not even about the ones I couldn't fucking stand like Denim, Menswear, Gay Dad, Northern Uproar, Heavy Stereo or Sleeper, it's about age.

It's caught up with me.

Yep, after all those years of carefully binge-drinking, eating fatty foods and smoking my little chuffing face off, the middle-aged spread is starting to happen. I'm also making the requisite middle-aged noises getting in AND out of comfy chairs (sigh - getting in, grunt - getting out) and the absolute clincher... this week I bought TWO PAIRS OF COTTON PYJAMAS FROM M&S.


Oh. That. Is. It.

Game Over.

I don't mean the t-shirts and flannel pants ones or the never-amusing Mr Men/Homer Simpson t-shirt and shorts combo. No. I mean real pyjamas. I mean the kind of pyjamas I wore as a ten year old - but made bigger.

How very Arthur Dent, as the good Doctor would say.

Two pairs as well. So I have a spare pair when one's in the wash. 
I already have the co-ordinating dressing gowns. 
(Plural.)
...and I'm seriously on the look-out for matching slippers.

Fuck's sake.


There is no coming back from buying cotton pyjamas from M&S.

So that's it. I'm preparing myself for early weekends in with my DVDs rather than out clubbing until after midnight - and do you know what? I'm fucking loving it.

I still love gigs (if there's an interval, and a seat, and some Draught on tap) but who needs nightclubs?

Nightclubs are shit.
Nightclubs have ALWAYS been shit.

I used to work in Nightclubs and Nite Scenes and they were irredeemably, depressingly, appalling shitholes. The hen-nights, stag-nights, comedy nights, 10p-A-Pint-Nights, karaoke nights, toga-parties, student nights, male strippers, female strippers, novelty acts, foam parties, smoke machines, laser shows... every night a brand new Hellish tacky, sickly, spunk, vomit and blood spattered window to open on advent calendar of misery.


From my time working at nightclubs I have seen people glassed, stabbed, punched unconscious, tear-gassed, drugged, spiked, beaten, poisoned, physically & sexually assaulted.... and just as you think it can't get any worse the DJ puts a fucking Lisa Stansfield song on.

It wasn't just the provincial Nite Spots that I went to, oh no.
I went to Raves.

Because I wanted to get laid, and for no other reason, I was briefly a part of that generation of illegal ravers who met up at Birch Services with the promise of mind-altering drugs and the Second Summer Of Love-gatherings only to end up in shit warehouses listening to a massive soundsystem blare-out the sound of a bin lorry backing into Candi Statton's house, then paying a fiver for a fucking Lucozade as some cunt covered in Vick's and sweat tries to break the Guinness World Hugging Record while waving his glowstick and blowing a referees pea-whistle in your ear.


But it soon became apparent that I wasn't going to get laid at a Rave ever. Thus, in a Eureka! moment, I realised that I fucking hated Raves.
I never even liked nightclubs.

It seems I just liked drinking past 11 O'Clock.

Not that I need to go to a nightclub ever again.
No, I have a TV.

So I can watch The Only Way Is Essex, Take Me Out, Snog, Marry, Avoid or My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings,  and see the cretinous boys chase the tangerine girls without having to throw my shoes away afterwards.

I do hope they are facing the wrong way in a train tunnel

I can watch them abuse policemen, vomit down themselves in custody or try and steal cars to get home on various Police Camera Action programmes.


Then I can even watch their hungover arguments about the children they've drunkenly spawned on The Jeremy Kyle Show and then watch those stupid children on any of the Jamie Oliver social experiment shows.

I can also listen to Radio 1 where every song seems to be about either planning to go to a nightclub, going to a nightclub, arriving at a nightclub, how great it is to be in a nightclub or how you are a part of the fixtures and fittings of that nightclub.


"You can be the DJ I can be the dancefloor.."

What does that even mean??
You can be someone working at a job and I can be the workspace near that person?

You can be the butcher and I can be the bacon-slicer? 
You can be the binman and I can be the brown bin for garden waste?
You can be the plumber and I can be the U-bend?
IT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE.

And all these songs are sung with the wet-eyed conviction of a 12 year-old describing his non-existent sex life before putting on a deep voice to ask a passing adult to pop into the off-licence and buy him some cigarettes and a single can Kestrel.
And a Kinder Egg.

"Yeah, well I had a Panda Pop, cos it's made with Badger Beer.."

Who wants to go to a Nightclub into their forties, anyway? It's undignified and senseless.

You want to go somewhere you can enjoy the company of your friends, not scream your face off its fucking hinge asking if they want another pint of watered-down Pissenbrau Pils at £6 a fucking pop.
You want a pub when you get older, not a club.

And when you're done, at a reasonable hour, you want good quality pyjamas.
Possibly from M&S.

Don't believe me?

Look at this man.



Look at him. Drink him in.

He's what happens if you go clubbing past the age of 39.


For the love of God, man.
Go and put some bloody pyjamas on.





10.3.11

THE GREAT UNKNOWN

There are a great many unanswered questions in this life. Questions that have troubled philosophers, theologians and scientists through the ages.

Questions like - what is art?

What is the meaning of life?

What is the nature of love?

Is there an afterlife?

Who's the Daddy?

Where was Joe going with that gun in his hand?

Why is How Not To Live Your Life listed under comedy on the i-player?

Whatever happened to Chaka Demus?

And, to a lesser extent, Pliers?


But of all the unanswered questions, one stands out from ALL the rest.....


WHO THE FUCK HAS A SPARE £3,400 TO SPEND ON A PAIR OF BONE-CHINA COMMEMORATIVE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT/ ROYAL WEDDING DWARVES????


"About this product

To celebrate the marriage of HRH Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton, Royal Crown Derby have produced a very special pair of their iconic dwarves: one for the Royal Engagement (featured here) and one for the Royal Wedding . 

Exclusive to Peter Jones, only 20 pairs of these dwarves will be made, each are totally hand painted.
The Engagement Dwarf, pictured here, has rich red, black and gold clothing based on a footman's uniform. He stands on a London pavement proclaiming the happy news of the Royal Engagement of HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The front of his hat shows a picture of the engagement ring and the announcement. 

The Wedding Dwarf will feature a wedding scene at Westminster Abbey and will be available after the wedding.
History of the Derby Dwarves The Derby Dwarves are probably the most famous of all Derby figurines. They date back to the 18th Century and are modelled on two dwarf street sellers that used to parade outside London's Mansion House Theatre with advertisements posted on their large hats. Introduced by Royal Crown Derby in the late 18th Century they have been introduced to mark major national occasions ever since.
The Engagement Dwarf is 17.5cm (7") high. the Engagement Dwarf is £1,750 and is available on interest free instalments..."

SWEET BABY JESUS!! 

BRING ME MY ROUNDHEAD HELMET AND MY SHARPEST SWORD. 
WE NEED A REVOLUTION, PRONTO. 

...AND LET'S GET IT RIGHT THIS FUCKING TIME.



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8.3.11

Sing If You're Glad To Be Geek

This weekend, before we sat down to watch Superman II, my beautiful tiny girlfriend's beautiful tiny daughter came up to me with a solemn look on her beautiful tiny face.

"Mummy says you're a Greek", she said.
A Greek? 
Are you sure?
"Yes. Because you like comic-books.."

"No, love.." reassured my beautiful tiny girlfriend, ".. I said he's a geek!"

"Are you?" she asked

Yes, I said. I am.

Her little face brightened up, and she settled with me to excitedly watch Christopher Reeve "save the day". 



She was reassured. And so she should be.

There's nothing wrong with being a geek.

Not there's anything wrong with being a Greek, either, I might add. 
I really admire their innovative approach to washing up, for example. It's just that I think I would have trouble learning a whole new alphabet this late in the game.
And if I'm honest, I'm not all that keen on humous.

No, but I'm a geek alright.
From waaay back, long before 'geek-chic'. 

Before Simon Pegg made it cool.
Before Jarvis wiggled his arse at The King of Pap.
As admirable as those fine gentleman are, I can safely say I'm not jumping on any bandwaggon by being admitting my geek credentials.

With photos like this around, I can hardly deny them...


This was taken at a local miner's gala in the late 1970's. My brothers have gone for the much more dignified and socially acceptable looks of soldier and pirate respectively.
I'm Mr Spock in a wig made from a swimming cap with individual woollen strands of hair glued-on and upturned joke-shop ears... I'm about 7.

But I think my journey to Geekdom started before then, I would have been about as tiny as my beautiful tiny girlfriend's beautiful tiny daughter is now. Back then my father made the most brilliant promise to encourage me to concentrate at school...

I would recieve a brand-new comic-book every time I got through one of my colour-coded Ladybird books.

What a deal!
Within no time I had devoured the enitre Peter & Jane series, for which I got The Beano or The Dandy. 


Soon I was ploughing through the Griffin Pirate books (Greg The Green Pirate, Roderick The Red Pirate & Benjamin The Blue Pirate) a fantastic series of stories by Sheila McCullagh that were designed to speed up reading ability with exciting swashbuckling adventures.

Thus I added Whizzer & Chips, Beezer, Whoopee! Buster, Wow! Cheeky and Cor! to my expanding collection - almost bankrupting my poor Dad.


But still I wanted more.

My cousin lived up the road and he was a sports nut and he used to get a comic called Tiger which was all about sports stars, such as the native american wrestler Johnny Cougar, the enormous Scottish footballer (with a foot like a traction engine) Hot-Shot Hamish and the brilliant Formula One driver Skid Solo.


Even a sports-phobic like me couldn't resist a line-up like that!

(Although I have to admit that I really didn't take to their star-draw Roy Race of Roy Of The Rovers-fame. He was always winning and moralising and was a bit of a boring prick. I'm glad he got his foot chopped off in that helicopter crash... Oops. SPOILER ALERT!)

I soon graduated to Tornado an adventure comic but I liked the more cartoony or super-heroic stories rather than the war-stories. Even though it was the late 70's war stories were everywhere - it may have been fought in black & white but it coloured almost every aspect of my childhood. Our playtime games were about the war, our Action Men were toy warriors, our TV heroes were war veterans... to an ungrateful seven year-old it was all a bit boring.

Besides, The Incredible Hulk was on the telly every Friday evening, Batman was on every Saturday morning, Wonder Woman was on Saturday teatime and Spiderman was on every Saturday night!


As far as I was concerned, if they'd had all four of them working in the Thirties it would have all been over by Christmas.

Then something monumental happened to my little world. Tornado merged... with the mighty 2000AD.

Into my tiny life came the vastness of the unknown universe - The ABC Warriors, Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, Flesh, The Mind Of Wolfie Smith, Robo-Hunter, M.A.C.H. 1...... and best of all of these - the one I still cannot stop doodling, even now I am 40 years old - JUDGE DREDD!!


So I became a fully-fledged comic-book geek, but it turned out I wasn't the only one. Our family had another comic-book geek and this one didn't just have comics.
He had his own house full of them!

My Uncle Terry lived near the swimming baths I used to visit every weekend and he had the greatest house any little boy could ever wish to visit. It had a pool table, "Rock Em Sock Em Robots", a sit-down space-invader arcade game, a jukebox rigged to work without money, a dart board, a one-armed bandit.....


......... and a HUGE pile of vintage DC & Marvel comic books. He'd even painted a mural of Captain America and the Human Torch on the wall!!

I spent so much time at that house it is untrue...

I was also going through many of my female cousin's comics like Bunty, Jinty, Tammy, Judy & Twinkle! I knew all about the Four Mary's and The Doll's Hospital and so I was much less of an arse with the girls at school.

As my Dad was now taking on a second job (as well as concerns about my reading Twinkle) to pay for my 'habit' so I got a library card, which meant I soon discovered the graphic novel. I was hooked on the precise, minimalistic lines of Herge's Tintin and the utter joyful brilliance of Goscinny & Uderzo's Asterix The Gaul.

God! I loved comic books.

I clearly remember getting a Pinocchio book for my birthday that was beautifully illustrated - but also a Spiderman comic. The edition where the Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy!!!


Man Alive!
Pinocchio didn't stand a chance.

So the spark was there and now the flame was fully stoked. I even had my own schoolboy comic hero of my own invention - 'Ducktective', a rip off of Daffy Duck in a sailor cap and trenchcoat.  (I drew that darned duck all the time) and I read, re-read  and re-re-read all my comics and copied the artwork from my favourite artitsts:

I loved Leo (Bash St Kids, Minnie The Minx, Williy The Kid) Baxendale's Goon Show-like insanity,

Carlos (Dredd, Strntium Dog) Ezquerra's Gaudi-esque, otherwordly landscapes, 


Neal (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) Adams' beautiful, crisp lines, 


Simon (Slaine) Bisley's lush prog-rock porno oil and pastel paintings 


and everything by (my absolute favourite) Brian Bolland.


Amazing.


 Anyhooo...
All of this came flooding back to me the other week as I was talking to a colleague about encouraging kids to read - his son loves the old style comic books and I was telling him that my best mate's little boy found a pack of vintage Marvel Top Trumps and he's just as addicted. We chatted a bit about the old comics, lamented that the Beano is no longer what it was and then he left as his shift was over.

A week later he brought in a pile of vintage comic books that brought it all flooding back. I finished my shift and absoltely devoured Doctor Strange, StarLord, Daredevil... then got out my own old copies of Batman, Silver Surfer, Hulk and Watchmen. I even took a few photos with my ubergeeky hipstamatic and put them on my FB page... where I got a bit of abuse.


Nothing serious, but once again I have to explain my hobby - and usually to people who don't read.

Why is it that I have to defend reading comic-books? No-one has to defend themselves when reading romantic fiction or watching westerns or liking gameshows or Whodunnits or contemporary drama or biographies or art galleries...
Comic-books got me reading, they made me appreciate art, they introduced me to historical tales, ancient myths, other cultures, politics and psychology. They turned me on to horror, crime and science fiction. They taught me what the words 'Epilogue' and 'Prologue' mean.

And one book taught me more about the holocaust than school, college or university ever did.


In any given comic-book there is humour, terror, betrayal and heroism. Comic-books teach you how to tell a story. Or at least how to be gripped by one.

I remember I once got asked by a sneery football fan why I had a Superman t-shirt on and didn't I think I should have grown out of 'all-that' by now. I asked him why he was wearing a football top and didn't he think he should have grown out of all THAT by now.
"You can't compare football to comics. Football's different.." he said.

I know.

No-one ever got their head kicked in by a bunch of lads in Spiderman t-shirts just because they were wearing a Batman t-shirt in the wrong part of town.

The police don't have to section off the station because a bunch of DC fans are getting off the train and all the town's Marvel fans have been drinking all day. 

A comic-book fan won't read his/her favourite book and then talk as if they were actually in there, taking part and somehow integral to it's outcome. Comic-book fans can tell the difference between fiction and reality. 

Yeah, football is different. Football's for idiots.

Obviously, I never said this to the football fan.
He's my brother (the pirate)... And he's a fucking headcase.

Like I said, I'm a geek.
I'm not Superman.

Anyway, what is the problem with being a geek?
Everyone is a geek these days.

  • Your phones are Star Trek's communicators made real.
  • Your car has more gadgets than the original James Bond Aston Martin.
  • The biggest films of the past 20-30 years are either comic book adaptations or are science fiction movies (that have since become comic-books.)
  • The Spiderman film franchise alone is worth more than the UK's entire film industry for the past 10 years.
  • Batman & Superman first editions have sold for over a million pounds. Apiece.

Every actor worth his salt wants to be, or has been, a comic book star - Sir Ian McKellan, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Michael Caine, Tim Roth, Terence Stamp, Christian Bale, Paul Newman, Willem Dafoe, Tom Hanks, Gary Oldman, Marlon Brando, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Robert Downey Jr, Glenn Ford...
  

Heath Ledger's performance as a comic-book villain won an Oscar, for heaven's sake.

(And not ONE of the slew of comic book films you will have almost certainly queued-up for and paid good money for will be anywhere near as good as the source material. Don't believe me? Get The Dark Knight on DVD then read The Killing Joke. Let's see whose 'Joker' stays with you, Alan Moore's or Heath Ledger's. My money's on the comic.)

So yes, I am a geek.

I'm proud to be a geek.
And you should be too.

How do I know you are one?



Well, you're reading a fucking blog.
That's pretty geeky.


Geek.




EPILOGUE:
One great thing, however, that happened as a result of my posting pics on FB is that a fella I've seen at various gigs, pubs and comedy shows in Leeds has got in touch and asked if I want to take delivery of "six or seven boxes of comics and graphic novels" while he goes travelling. And not just to babysit them, to keep them. Forever.

Six or seven boxes!

Can you imagine??

So this may be the last blog I write for a while as I see what absolute delights there are in store for me.
I can hardly wait...

LLAP



MISTER WILLIAMS RECOMMENDS:
  1. KILLING JOKE - ALAN MOORE & BRIAN BOLLAND
  2. VIOLENT CASES - NEIL GAIMAN & DAVE McKEAN
  3. BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS - FRANK MILLER
  4. WATCHMEN - ALAN MOORE & DAVE GIBSON
  5. MAUS - ART SPIEGELMAN
  6. JUDGE DREDD : THE JUDGE CHILD - JOHN WAGNER, RON SMITH, MIKE McMAHON & BRIAN BOLLAND
  7. THE SILVER SURFER - STAN LEE & MOEBUIS
  8. THE SANDMAN - NEIL GAIMAN (and various artists)
  9. SUPERMAN: RED SON - MARK MILLAR
  10. 2000AD

...and finally...

The Return of Ducktective
(as requested by Sally!)


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