Archive for September 2010

No Scope for Horror

September 29, 2010

There was a TV programme on in the UK when I was very young that was not to be missed, it was called Play School. Every day they asked the question, which window will we look through today? You had a two to one chance of being correct and bragging rights all day if you were. Could this innocent game of chance have subsequently turned the country into rampant gamblers? Was Play School subversive?

Predictions and predictors are big business and everywhere. From the horrorscopes in your papers to the burgeoning gypsies that guess their way to money and laugh all the way to the bank. The fortune teller might say: red is a significant colour in your fate. Wild theories run riot and you hope for nothing more than a nose bleed. For sensible precautions you avoid revolving doors and bulls. A lucky or unlucky number is revealed to you signifying that luck or lack of it will start with this letter. Funnily, it’s always a common letter and never an X or a Z. Clearly, they make all this stuff up.

The charlatans come in many guises and will use any tool to wrench the cash from your hands. Take palm readers, they don’t even need to purchase a crystal ball all the equipment they use are in your hands. Well, they’re out of luck with me. As I’ve told you before I have no wrinkles and wrinkle free me has no lifeline to be read. The tea leaf readers are also shaken and strained to the ground by my imbibing habit. I only drink Tetley one-cup which-

A) Leafs no leafs
B) Leaves no leaves
C) Leafs no leaves
D) Leaves no leafs

(There’s a little multiple choice gamble for the Play School generation)

Some things are predictable and you don’t need Paul the octopus for these ones. At least one of the library books I hire today will have pages missing; probably the final ones, the Muse CD I buy will have a scratch on it and to fulfill the red prophecy I’ll bash my nose on a revolving door. Better luck hopefully and a win for the Mighty Glasgow Rangers in their Champions League tie tonight. I’ve said this since pre-Play School: Come on the Gers!


The Second Coming

September 20, 2010

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

The parrot cannot hear the parroteer, either. Interminably repeating the “Who’s on first base” routine in a vaudeville ventriloquist act, it plays the straight part while a stuffed ornamental parrot in its cage is the stooge.

The centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

A guy in a chicken suit wins the half marathon and abolishes Christmas. Before long all the old institutions are impeached by a wretched legion of slubberdegullions whose purges give them the name of “The Randan Parliament”.

The ceremony of innocence is drowned

All that was held to be pure and refreshing is revealed to have feet of clay. Biactol is exposed as a spot-fixer whilst cricketers sporting lip gloss are looked on with suspicion. Adult acne prevails and Miss World is cancelled due to repulsiveness.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

You know, my mother always told me not to slouch. The hunchbacked beast didn’t look were he was going and a slow moving vehicle slays him. The German/Italian axis powers have totally redeemed themselves.

In Vogue

September 19, 2010

Currently taking place is London Fashion Week, a gig that lasts from Friday 17th to Wednesday 22nd of September. This is one of the Grand Slam events for designers who constantly try to outdo one another in the outrageous stakes. Crop tops, busty dresses, swimsuits, feathers and furs- real or imagined- all attired in dazzling colours parade down the catwalk. Of course, there’s a model in them as the clothes might be loud but they can’t walk by themselves.

This haute couture industry does only cater for the well off and if you can afford one of these monstrosities, I mean delicacies you have to be selective about when to wear. For the less fortunate cheaper imitations of the basic trimmings filter down to the mass market which is a good thing and a bad thing. For ladies, there’s nothing worse than turning up at an event to see a rival with the same dress on. I often wonder what the ladies do in this situation. Do they try and re-arrange their apparel? Maybe go to the little girl’s room and hem the dress up a few inches to make a micro-dress. Tear a sleeve off and use it as a makeshift bandana. Look for a “Warning: Wet Paint” sign and rub up and down or roll over the painted surface furiously. I guess I’ll never know.

As for me, I’ve never been into designer garb. Mrs W will tell you, my clothes mantra is I’ll wear anything as long as there’s no green in it. And if the garment is semi-expensive I have to take it off when I eat as I am a clumsy eater. Fine if we’re entertaining in the house, restaurants are a bit more embarrassing. Many’s the time I’ve seen couples stare at my bare torso while they dine; lust from the women and envy from the men. (Or maybe disgust and mockery, I don’t know, I’m not a body language expert)

Looking at some of the creations on show at the Fashion extravaganza, it seems to be a success all you have to be is original. Therefore, I am thinking of starting my own clothes line (nothing to do with drying the washing) and have a few prototypes ready. Denim trousers with different coloured legs could be the future of casual clothing as we know it. And to boot, why not wear different footwear, too? Even Naomi Campbell wouldn’t trip over with odd trainer’s on, now would she? Mind you, she has two left feet.

2.Exodus- Blackpool 1986

September 13, 2010

To the best of my knowledge all of the following recollection is true-

There were nine of us altogether. Me, my future wife, my future brother-in-law, my future sister-in-law, my future mother-in-law, my future wife’s auntie, my future wife’s uncle and a futureless male/female couple who were friends of the uncle. Not having learned to drive at this particular juncture the uncle and friend agreed to share the driving duties on the mini-bus they had hired from their work. At six AM we headed south on a day trip to Blackpool.

The early morning ride was uneventful and with good progress we’d made it to the service station halfway there. There were picnic seats outside and we ate some sandwiches. Unbeknownst to the uncle his friend was swigging whisky from a flask on the bus and felt the effects of the alcohol as soon as he hit the outside air. A bit of a scene occurred with the non-drivers complaining that they didn’t trust this man to drive us back. Eventually so as not waste the day for everyone, the uncle said he would do all the driving thereby forgoing drinking.

Amidst this mayhem the future brother-in-law and I went eye to eye. Not in a fighting manner, it was all to do with size. You see we are the same height and we measure ourselves constantly to see if one of us has grown or shortened. It really all depends on the footwear and usually if we know we’ll be meeting, platform boots are the order of the day. On this day our statures were the same.

The atmosphere on the bus was better as we neared and arrived at Blackpool. Just as a cheer erupts on a plane when it touches down, a Glasgow roar is shouted on first sight of the Tower. It was pre-nuptially agreed that the young ones and old ones would split up and meet again later in a designated popular pub. So that left me with three of my futures. My future wife was the only one of her siblings to be romantically attached at the time and what a catch she’d caught. Me.

Firstly we looked in a few of the market stalls and then had some drinks in a run down and rough hostelry. These were the days of the afternoon closing of pubs and so at 2.30 PM we were chucked out and dusting ourselves down we headed for the amusements. I bet even Omar Sharif couldn’t win on these dodgy, fixed penny arcades. And try as I might I couldn’t claw a gonk out of the squashed soft toy machines. Now it was time for a bite to eat.

The café was filled to capacity, standing room only left, and the waitresses were working like dogs. In a nearby table two young men were chatting with two young girls, it was obvious they’d just met. Holding on tightly to a girl’s hand one of the men said.

“Look. This girl can’t leave me alone.”

And they all laughed at his good-natured bonhomie. I envisaged my future brother-in-law in the future using this routine on a potential date and getting smacked in the face with the lady’s free hand. Time was getting on and we were still not served. Using the well-worn patter of the age, my future wife said.

“C’mon. Rubber it.”

We met up with the old ones in the busy pub and had a good dance and sing-a-long. This was no nostalgia trip, it was a real 80’s night in the 80’s. Incredibly, I saw a guy I used to play football with. We started talking about all the goals we’d scored; it was a short conversation. Going back to my company I bumped into an old schoolmate and later was tapped on the shoulder by one of my dad’s neighbours. This was like the twilight Zone. Bizarre.

Darkness descended and now it was time to go north. The uncle’s friend was snoring in the back of the bus, pure lightweight if you ask me. The future mother-in-law was talking incessantly and not accepting interventions. Mother Filibuster I christened her because she could sure fill a bus. Next to the car park was a small toilet and the future brother-in-law and me excused ourselves to ease our bursting bladders brimful of bitter before the journey back. In the confined space our eyeballs were fixed to the tiles in front of us and not a word was said. Just then, stumbling drunkenly into the wrong toilet was the future sister-in-law and she laughed a huge, hearty laugh.

“Tee-hee. Now I know which one of you two is the biggest.”

The Perfect 10

September 10, 2010

Along with everything else, he was the best passer of a ball.

“I love the way he taps the ball with his toes.” A lovesick elderly female fan of Napoli from the video Napoli Corner.

The life and career of Diego Maradona for all its successes has been nothing more than tragic. And a waste. A waste in that most footballing connoisseurs lay claim that the little Argentinian would play second fiddle to his, albeit excellent counterpart, Pele. In my eyes that have seen the glory of Diego in his pomp, there is no contest.

The mighty You Tube has hundreds, nay millions, of recordings of Maradona caressing the ball in open play, dribbling effortlessly past bemused defenders and finding the killer pass or fatal goal. He was an expert on just about any situation that develops on the field. Criminally, as he himself confessed on a recent documentary, cocaine addiction ruined him and stopped him from becoming a better player. This statement is one of the saddest I’ve ever heard. A better Maradona. How good would he have been? For one thing, it would have put to bed the debate over the Greatest. For another, it has robbed us of a Miracle.

Winning the World Cup in 1986 was his greatest triumph. Completely single-handedly he destroyed some of the finest footballers of his era. Before the English deride my use of words and accuse this Northerner of gleeful merriment, unequivocally I can state that England team was one of my favourites. Indeed, six members of the 22 man squad went on to play for the real Queen’s X1.

After retiring, the rollercoaster and controversial Diego life mirrored his playing career with its scandals and awards. His dodgy tattoos and political rantings against satanic America par for the course for one who has roots in semi-literate Latin America; all the while picking up Best Player Ever prizes “posthumously” in various polls. Health problems didn’t stop him managing the Argentine national team to the last World Cup. A naïve coach, he tried to make his side play attractive football. After all, he wasn’t a Dunga.

Whatever the future brings for the little maestro, one thing’s for sure, it won’t be dull. I wish him happiness as underneath all his foibles he seems a loyal kind of person and they’re the best kind. The documentary also threw up Diego as a would be X-factor contestant chanting a catchy wee terracing song. There’s a video with subtitles but I prefer to listen to the flow and nuances of his Spanish accent. I must admit he kicked a ball better than me, though at karaoke singing he rates an 8 out of 10; I’m a 10, naturally.

Danse Macabre Daredevil

September 4, 2010

The bursting of a thousand clouds rains down on the speeding car. After pouring Jameson down his throat, Long Hair swore at his Sat Nav. The sexy voice in the machine told him he was lost and with great vengeance and furious anger he rips the device from its pedestal. At least the radio was working and the latest three songs on The Metal Chainsaw Show playlist were-

Motorhead- (We Are) The Road Crew

Iron Maiden- Dance of Death

AC/DC- Highway to Hell

Hazed and confused in a drunken stupor he drives on through the breaking levee monsoon. Soon he is confronted by a roadworks notice and a diversion sign.
“No stop signs, speed limit, Nobody’s gonna slow me down” screamed the ghost of Bon Scott from the speakers.
Crashing through the temporary blockade the next obstacle in his path was fifteen different road working heavy vehicles stretched in a line, obviously abandoned by the waterlogged workers. Long Hair hits the brakes and takes an inch of rubber from his tyres whilst his nose squashes the windscreen framing a grotesque pose.

Reversing ten feet the demented hirsute man lurches from the motor. Two giant girders catch his eye and with superhuman strength he lays them at right angles against the first tractor forming a slope. Unmindful of the abominable weather Long Hair howls a creature of Frankenstein cry and returns to the car. A triple helping of Jameson’s fuels him up and the engine revs.

Unleashing the beast of burden of the motorway, Long Hair’s night rider rides up the ramp and is airborne. Flying over the fifteen various digging machines he suddenly realises there is no landing platform at the other end and he bumps into the ground with an almighty sonic boom. Somehow, he controls the automobile in the relentless hail and in euphoria does a series of doughnuts.

“Ha, ha, ha, beat ya,” he yells “Evel Knievel could only jump fourteen double decker buses.”

Defying God’s law of gravity, the battered old car does a wheelie and Long Hair spins away into the dark.

*As Evel as ice-cream, Knievel of the Second Best, and as the Great Ayrton Senna said. “Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose.”

From no-prizes to presents

September 1, 2010

Roars of applause greeted us on our arrival at the huge Lidl superstore. This was the venue chosen to host The Best Advertising Slogans of All-Time. With much excitement and anticipation we attended the presentation with high hopes of glory; our little ship on the edge of cyber space had been nominated in the Finance category.

A sumptuous buffet was on offer before the event including cheese and ham toasties, peanuts and flaming hot Monster Munch. We mingled amongst fellow nominees who all shared our dreams of being winners. My secretary was just glad to be out the office and away from the steep paper mountain on her desk. Yes, I took my wife out at the same time as my secretary. Who said three was a crowd?

A gong signalled the beginning of the ceremony and we sat on the wooden stools provided. The host was some unknown academic called Brian Braddock who sported a huge amulet round his neck. He fairly rifled through the categories as if he had an engagement elsewhere. The winners were-

BEVERAGES- “Sch… You know who?” – Schweppes
FOOD- “57 Varieties” – H. J. Heinz Company
HOUSEHOLD- “For hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face, with mild green Fairy Liquid” – Fairy Liquid
MOTORING- “If only everything in life was as reliabale as a Volkswagen”
TRANSPORT- “The Un-official carrier of the you-know what.” Kulula Air (very funny livery)

And then came the big one: the Finance category. All the whizz from bizz was in there with the big boys. Without blowing our trumpet too loudly, we agreed our brilliant catchphrase was a work of genius. The big envelope was opened and the winner was… “Don’t leave home without it” – American Express.

Being beaten by a plastic card was a sore one to take. Braddock had also beaten a hasty retreat, touching his amulet as he whizzed past cavorting in a costume.Wonder what bizz he’s in?

Gracious in defeat we offered our congratulations and headed home where it was champagne for the ladies and “McEwans is the best buy, the best buy, the best buy, McEwan’s is the best buyyyyyyy, the best buy….in beer.” (Should have won the beverages award) McEwans Export for me. We celebrated anyway because its JW10’s birthday. We’re one year old on the second.