Archive for June 2010

Stage Fright

June 27, 2010

One of my many interests is show business and I am an agent for two up and coming singers. It is a hard job and my duties include writing the song number on the karaoke slip and taking it up to the karaoke presenter. After the song I instigate the round of applause by clapping and cheering wildly. Hopefully, this strategy will help my tenors to get discovered.

A disastrous thing happened last night that didn’t just throw a spanner in the works it threw in a 1000 piece socket set and the kitchen sink with dirty dishes. My number one singer, Steff, got nervous and couldn’t perform.

A word about Steff before we continue. Steff is a nickname in these parts for Steven. Instead of Stevie or Steve, Steff is the moniker of choice for tough guys. The irony here is that my Steff is an all round nice guy and as dangerous as soup. As a stage name it’s not particularly groovy and I keep telling him we’ll have to change it.

“Come on Steff, the show must go on.”
“I can’t. I’m a bag of nerves.”
The Karaoke guy gave us an auctioneer’s countdown to take up the mike. But after three cajoles still Steff sat still. The crowd hissed. This was strange, Steff had sang in public hundreds of times before without showing any signs of panic. The crowd threw tomatoes. Steff’s career had gone down the drain like a dropped ten bob bit. Anxiety had got the better of him and I had some empathy for him.

Twice in my life I have had the honour of being a best man. The first time I was quite young and dictated my speech without any notes, making it up as I go along (a bit like this place). I was in a state between slightly drunk and on the way to being mostly drunk where spontaneous anecdotes and some verbal tennis with hecklers made the oration a rip-roaring success.

The last time was a few years ago. One of my mates was marrying his second wife and I prepared my speech meticulously. Nobody laughed at the first few jokes. They looked good on paper but my timing was off. Stony silence descended and stern faces stared at me; the bride’s family were a serious lot. Shakily, I stumbled through the rest of it and there was not one smile in the room.

“Cheer up Steff. I know what. We’ll fly out to Spain for a short holiday.”
“No. No. No.”
Looking completely terrified I forgot that Steff had a fear of flying. Drinking my pint I consoled myself with the fact that my other client in the stable was a great warbler. Though, I’m not happy with his stage name either. I mean, who is going to listen to someone called Elvis?

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Chibber at The Garden

June 23, 2010

(Taken from The Chibber Papers)

The cab driver was motoring in rectangles, driving from west 54th street onto 1st avenue then west 56th street, east 56th street to 2nd avenue. The cabbie told us he was a septuplet or octuplet, he couldn’t remember. He also couldn’t count for Hershey bars.

Eventually we arrived at Madison Square Gardens for a very important event. Harry Chibberson, Chibber to his friends, was about to box Mike Tyson for the Heavyweight title circa late 1987. As his manager that day and if my memory serves me correct, most of the following is true.

The pre-fight weigh in of a few days before produced its usual scuffle. Chibber was unhappy with the constant swearing of Tyson. Cus this and Cus that. All that Cussing with ladies present angered Chibber. I tried to explain to him that the Cus was for Tyson’s former trainer: Cus D’Amato. Poor Chibber, not a contender for brain of Britain.

Sitting in the changing room I was glad I wasn’t in Chibber’s shorts. Here he was about to fight the undefeated, undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world, the baddest man on the planet, the ferocious young man from Brooklyn nicknamed Kid Dynamite. Now its one thing making haggis of the unwashed benefit cheats on Royston Road, Iron Mike doesn’t have a sheep’s liver. Chibber had every right to be scared and looking at him, I wondered what was going through his mind at this minute.

“Rocky versus Aliens would make a good film, don’t you think?”

Final preparations were made before we entered the Coliseum. I offered Chibber a gum shield that he declined. He said the gum guard makes him talk funny. Trying to warn him of the dangers of breaking a jaw he was unperturbed and would rub Bonjela teething gel on his mouth if it were sore.

To the screams and taunts of the baying horde in the auditorium we were first into the ring. Harry Carpenter was ring side and he wished Chibber good luck. “Get in there, Chibber!” Dance of the Knights blared from the speakers signalling Tyson’s entrance. And now he was angry, this wasn’t his usual rap drivel welcoming music. Incandescent, he was hurling punches at various members of the mob and looked absolutely terrifying. No one would forgive Chibber throwing in the towel at this moment and he made the profound comment.

“She’s got legs that go right up to her bum.”

I surveyed Tyson before I cottoned on to what he was talking about. Chibber was eyeing up the leggie lovely ring girl.

After the preliminaries the fight got underway. Tyson started strongly with a one-two combination and a thundering left hook. These blistering hits would have weakened most men but not the ice cold Chibber and he started sledging.

“My granny can hit me harder than that.”

Tyson’s gum shielded response was unintelligible. It sounded something like this.

“Ayt. Fayt ak bampot, Cus.”

“I’ve had enough of your bad language.”

Pow! Bang! Banjo! Wallop! Crash! Thud! Chibber pulverised the New Yorker who must have thought it was Hogmanay. Tyson was lying concussed on the canvas with a loft of pigeons circling his head. The referee began his count.

“One-ah, two-ah…three..ah, five? No, three-ah, five-ah. Is it five?”

Chibber and I both thought we knew this ref from somewhere. He was the double of the cab driver, one of the other septuplets or Octuplets; A Waltonian family with the counting prowess of a walnut. To knock some sense into the ref’s head Chibber gave him a small jab to his skull. He collapsed like a lead balloon onto Iron Mike just as Tyson was beginning to come round and during this clinch he nibbled the ref’s ears.

A Cutting Edge

June 19, 2010

Call me Barbara, said the stunning hairdresser to her customer as she dangled her clippers over the businessman’s head whilst her elegant left breast brushed the back of his head. With this faint touch he felt overwhelming desire for this most alluring creature. The small talk revolved around Barbara’s financial woes as she struggled against the tide to make ends meet.

Make ends meet, he thought suggestively. Both of our problems could be fixed with one fell swoop, one flashing blade, one harpoon thrust. He forwarded the proposal that as he was on a business package with his firm she should visit him in his hotel room for some carnal recreation and he would foot the bill.

Instructions were meted out to Barbara to be discrete as the floor in his hotel was populated by fellow salesmen in his company. She didn’t mind but she did mind the fact that he was wearing a wedding ring. A coded knock brought Barbara into the room of the predator. Hurriedly he crammed five hundred pounds into her bag and fumbled with her blouse. Coolly she calmed him down and motioned him to a chair while speaking with a seductive voice.

“I have always wanted to cut somebody’s hair while they are harnessed.”
“But you cut my hair this morning, it doesn’t need cut.”
“It’s only a little game and I guarantee you, I will edge you into ecstasy.”

He stripped naked as she demanded. Various belts and dress ties were used to bind his hands and feet whilst a handkerchief was stuffed in his mouth. She plumped him onto the Barbara chair where he sat chained and completely at her command. The beautifully manicured Barbara unloaded scissors and trimmers from her bag and went to work on him.

She started with his head and shaved him completely bald. The bathroom door was open and he could see his reflection in the mirror where his raw head resembled a tomato that had been fighting with a tigress. He begged her to stop through gargled gobs of foam even though he was, as she promised, visibly excited. The chest was next followed by the stomach. Teasingly avoiding his middle section she tore the hairs off his toes.

Now it was time to shear his behind and she threw him off the chair onto the floor. He landed face down and groaned with a mixture of pain and pleasure, writhing with a spasm on the carpet. She knew that he had gone over the edge. Experience had told her that all men couldn’t control a bag of cement (cement © the Romans, that’s one they’ve got over the Greeks). Barbara wasn’t going to waste her chic style on his cheeks. She helped herself to the rest of the money in his wallet and was in two minds about waking up some of his companions in the adjoining rooms before she remembered her calling. She put a paper towel in his hands.

The Grand Hational

June 19, 2010

And here are the runners and riders for this years annual hat hunters chase at Wincannone.
1. Beer Can Expat Hat worn and sipped by Expat.
2. All the days of Marmot, a domesticated hat tamed by Dolores.
3. The Vendee Helicopter piloted by Jon.
4. Canary Express, sadly a non-hatter.

They’re coming up to the tape and under starter’s orders. Make mine a double, he shouts before the clerk of the course reminds him of his official duty. The starter with a long face shoehorns the hats into place and they’re off.

And the early leader is the favourite, Beer Can Expat Hat. The rider has shown adroit skill by changing the empties in her hat and continuing to consume the lager at a great gallop. What a pace she’s set! Oliver Reed and Richard Burton would have fallen under the table by now. Oh no, her limit has been reached, she’s staggering off course. No, I was wrong she’s only heading to the toilet. However, this break to powder her nose has got her disqualified.

And All the days of Marmot takes advantage by squirreling into first place. This hat is set perfectly in that it does not cover the beautiful Bo Derekesque ears of the rider. The crowd don’t know whether to watch the Marmot or the ears. Suddenly the Marmot breaks free from its cage and makes a dart for a hedge. The crowd cheer. The Marmot turns round and blows Dolores a raspberry before burrowing its way to freedom.

This leaves the Vendee Helicopter a simple flight to the finish. The strains of Ride of the Valkyries plays in the background and Jon looks to have capped off a memorable victory. He flicks a V sign to the bookmakers below who dismissed his chances. Presumably the V is for Vendee. Wait a moment, there’s a horrendous smell polluting the air forcing Jon to beat a hasty retreat. From below one of the race goers with a Canary hat is wearing Monday socks but it’s Saturday. Has he been wearing them all week? And the Hat Race has been declared void. There are no winners. Oh well, there’s always next year.

The Horse and the Hat

June 16, 2010

A huge sporting event started this week. It is one of horse racing’s big meetings in the calendar. The Royal Ascot fixture in Berkshire is regularly attended by members of Royalty and the aristocracy. Thoroughbred horses mingle with well bred Lords and Ladies of the nobility and it’s hard to tell which is which.

One of the delights of Royal Ascot is the varied assortment of hats on show. Wimbledon might have strawberries and cream, Forfar Athletic might have the best bridies and Bovril, for fashion stakes the Ascot ladies win hands down. Chaffing champagne and discussing Voltaire, the smart set at the race goers Vanity Fair have the looks and the brains to kill for. ‘Tis a Pity about the bird’s nest on their grey matter.

Many times I’ve thought about making my own design for a hat while going to the races. By races I mean a cold September weekend at Hamilton and not the distinguished Ascot. Therefore the hat must be resilient when faced with the elements. A saucepan with a few bricks tied and dangling from the handle would fit the bill. It could also come in handy if there’s any trouble.

This talk of hats reminded me that it’s holiday time soon. Normally I wear the boring skip caps that are popular. This time, against the wishes of my wife, I am going to invest in a Geoff Boycott hat. A refreshing change, I think, and while I’m sinking my San Miguel’s I can talk Voltaire or more likely Dan Dare with the bar man.


(Our Geoff. No looks, not much brains but what a hat!)

Anyway back to designs as its competition time at the JW10 website. You know you’ve got to be as mad as a milliner to be here and this is your chance to be a hatter. What is your invention for a suitable piece of attire for the top of your head? The most barking is the winner and multiple entries are allowed as there are no rules.
No prize, either.

Tales of The Wire: 2. Bodie

June 10, 2010

The old shopping trolley with the dodgy wheel rumbled out from the alley. Its owner, Bubbles, was trying to sell white T-shirts to the drug dealers on a west side corner. “Little” Kevin was a bit disappointed that there weren’t any in his size. The man-child in charge of this area was Preston “Bodie” Broadus and he chased off the old vagrant.

“Beat it, man. And don’t stick no hats on ‘anyone’s head ‘cos we don’t want no bugs.”

Bodie was having a bad day. He was born to be a corner boy and for years he’d worked these corners. But times were tough. He’d never had a day off, never snitched on anyone or robbed from a package and all he could see around him was an ineffectual team of poor ass muthas. They were worse than pawns.

“Little” Kevin pulled another cheeseburger from his pocket and was covered in ketchup making Bodie screw his eyes up in disgust. Oh, wherefore art thou Wallace. His number one runner, Namond, the boy responsible for where the stash is kept, could be seen from ten blocks away as his Afro hair wagged in the wind. If I had a pair of scissors, thought Bodie, I wouldn’t just cut his hair. And then things got worse.

“Fire in the hole! I mean, fire in the wire! No, I mean, fire in the alley.”

One of Bodie’s lieutenants came rushing out from the alley into the street.

“It must have been that old junkie. He’s dropped a smoke in the bin and it’s on fire.”

Bodie knew this would bring the Fire Department to his turf and then the Baltimore Police. He could do without this heat. Shaking his head he walked into the alley followed by his less than trusty crew.

“Ah’yt.” said Bodie.
“As I do everything on this corner I best fight the fire.”

With a minimum degree of effort Bodie expelled a large litre of saliva from out of the side of his face; the famous Bodie spit. It put the fire out.

Flammable Flirting

June 9, 2010

The current price of crude oil is $72.53 b/bl. That’s your latest up to date business news.

A friend of mine has found a way of dating women and it’s all to do with petrol. Any driver when not filling the tank will tell you that it is the norm to round off your filling to an easy, quick payment number; £10, £15, £20 and so on and so forth. Now if my friend spots an attractive lady teller by her lonesome in the station he deliberately pumps in an odd number; £14.71, £17.77, £19.23 and so on and so forth.

His reasoning is that this gives him plenty of scope to start a conversation and he varies his chat up lines from woman to woman. “I need a woman’s guiding hand to help me.” “When I saw you I didn’t know when to stop.” “There’s so much emptiness in my life, I need change.”

Well, I decided to give this a go. Not, of course, as dating, merely as harmless mild flirting. Eventually an opportunity arose. As I squeezed my nozzle at the station I saw this beautiful woman behind the desk and I was feeling bold. Putting £18.73 (this is my favourite number) of fuel in my car I strolled over to the garage shop.

As I neared the pay-in desk there was no one there. A minute passed and when I looked out the window I saw the beautiful woman wearing a coat and walking hand in hand with, presumably, her boyfriend.
“Hello, sailor boy.” From the back store of the shop bouncing to the till emerged the effeminate young man who cut my hair recently.
“Don’t you cut hair any more?” I asked, trying hard not to look at his pink trousers.
“The place closed because people stopped coming in, so here I am. What’s this, £18.73? And I thought I was camp.”