Archive for September 2015

Of Maths and Men

September 26, 2015

Ordinarily The Royalist doesn’t have any sleeping problems. Recently -could be the cheese and beer diet, I don’t know- The Royalist (I’m picking up Bigjohn’s habit of speaking in the third person) has been suffering from slight insomnia. My remedy is not to count sheep, instead I make a mental list of all Kiss 7″ singles B-sides or I tally as many Spider-Man baddies as I can. Sometimes, in that haze like state between dozing off and sleeping I feel I’m making up new names of supervillains- I’m sure Spidey’s never fought a Grotesque Man or a Rubber Doll.

After exhausting my lists and still not off to the land of nod I figured I needed professional advice. A learned counsellor advised counting sheep. Sheesh Kebab! I’m from the city, we don’t do sheep here. Foxes we have plenty, some Irving set-free bears and a few gators in the sewers but no sheep. And why sheep? Why not count chickens, pre-hatch or otherwise? Yet, it seemed as if there was something in the counting that cured. Mathematics could solve my sleeplessness.

At breakfast, after a heavy night humming “Hot, Hot, Hotter Than Hell, She’ll burn you like the midday sun” (B-side of Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll) I counted the rice crispies in my bowl. 383. A prime Botham number.

Then I walked to the newsagent to pick up today’s copy of the Daily Asteroid. I had moved on from simple arithmetic into the triangular world of geometry. The shop was at a right angle to my house. A kind of Pythagorean Theorum was invoked when another urbanite animal passed me-

a square hippopotamus. a^2 + b^2 = c^2 ,

On my way to the park I deliberated over the probability of being run over by a car. Statistically, you are more likely to be hit by a motor than being struck by lightning yet I have been bolted by lightning many times. Without any harm, I should add, the positive Megadeth ions in my body repelled the electric charge sending the limp, lite light away with its tail between its legs. My musings were curtailed as a car splashed a puddle on the road onto me. If only I had stood a fraction either way..

At the park I fed some bread to the pterodactyls. Before I read the Asteroid it came to me that Calculus is a good name for a Spider-Man baddie. As is Algebratus and Count Vector. Further thinking involved the vexed question of  Kiss’, “Sure Know Something”. While being an A-side stateside, in the UK it was the B-side of “2000 Man”. Therefore, it was an A and a B and definitely a C-rated song. It covered all the angles.

Then I fell asleep on the bench.

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Bigjohn 2

September 18, 2015

The famous columnist for the Daily Asteroid, Bigjohn, has agreed to syndicate more of his articles for publication right here. Thanks, Bigjohn.  You have the floor.

Call the midwife or someone with a white suit

Forget Rollermania it’s all Retromania these days. Vinyl is back on the record shelves and shifting more and more units. There’s a UK top 40 vinyl chart. The indestructible CD is being destroyed by a piece of plastic. Rotary dial old style phones are available in the shops again and being lapped up by the public. Personally, Bigjohn always thought they were cumbersome and by the time the three marathon circuits of 999 was dialled the robber had got away. But the push button phone is on the slide.

The biggest comeback of all is that Old Labour are back in town. The election of the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party has brought back memories of the Trade Union days of the 70s. Bigjohn told his mum that traditional labour is here again and new Labour is no more. She was chuffed to pieces.

“Now they’ll know what it was like. Didn’t know they were born these new labourites, what with their epidurals and air and gas and all those pain relief remedies. In my day it were all hot water and towels.”

Bigjohn weighed 13lbs 9 when he were born.

A Flagging Toy

Lego must be one of the least exciting toys invented. Lacking the engineering and architectural skills of Meccano, the Lego blocks are still more popular with budding builders.

Bigjohn was forced on a family outing to LEGOLAND.  While being mildly impressed with Miniland and its depictions (in Lego form) of various cities of the world it was the Lego shop Bigjohn was there for.

Ignoring the pricey Millennium Falcon and Jurassic World models he headed straight to the interactive part of the shop. There was a table filled with Lego bricks for the customers to experiment with. Interlocking red, white and blue bricks Bigjohn made two flags depending on the rotation of the piece: the Netherlands or France. That’s the Meccano mind at work.

Celebrity Watch

At a recent dinner party held in a posh hotel Bigjohn spotted Johnny Depp at the champagne bar. Now Bigjohn is a bit of a looker even if he says so himself and he is nothing if not slow in coming forward. He ambled up to Depp and said. “It’s not often you’re the second best looking man in the room, eh Johnny boy?”

Depp swung into Captain Jack Sparrow mode and replied. “What the devil. Hassh David Beckham turned up?”

Bigjohn walked the plank back to the Discount Bar.

It’s A Cop’s Fair

In an effort to increase funding the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) have came up with a novel idea. They are selling off some old bric-a-brac. Bigjohn seen some old Bobbies on the beat helmets and a policeman’s whistle at one of the stalls. If cops memorabilia is your thing you should head down to the Met office today. They’re calling it the Scotland Yard Sale.

Whizz on Wings

September 12, 2015

Wizz Air is planning a direct air route from Scotland to Bucharest. Before you ask, Wizz Air are nothing to do with us. The italicised statement below is direct from their website to here. This is them clattering their own trolley.

Wizz Air is a value-oriented airline that focuses on innovation all along the way of the customer journey. Our aim is to make flying affordable to the citizens of CEE, as well as to provide a new travel experience to all travellers in the EU. The latest technology is deployed to ensure that the “Wizz Air experience” is outstanding in terms of service and value for money. Wizz Air offers a ‘simple service model’, which means: ticketless travel, use of cost- and time-efficient secondary airports, single class all-leather seat configuration and catering on demand for extra payment.

Bully Beef and chips to you. There is one slight problem and it concerns the name. When it was brought to the technical head at the brain of our Numskull operation he issued a directive to sue. We fully expected to win the case and receive wooly mammoth damages. Then our Sisyphean secretary, Hillary, stopped climbing the paper mountain at the side of the blog to inform us they were formed first. Wizz Air were conceived in 2003, All the Whizz from Bizz just seems as if it’s been around since the penny dreadful days but we…are… younger. (Told you we were nowhere near middle age).

We dropped the zoot against Wizz much as they chopped the H from Whizz and things were all Beano and Dandy until a writ was brought against us by the creators of the comic character, Billy Whizz. Gee-Whizz, they said we were infringing their copyright and any more of our snash and they would send round the Bash Street Kids. We replied, we Dan Dare you. I think they forgot we had Bobby the Brontosaurus and Steg the Stegosaurus on our books. The Sailor Boy has also been known to throw a strop. Let Battle commence, we’ll be the Victor.

The war took on a second front when Whizzer and Chips joined the fray. This is going to be a long haul.

Leaving the cartoons behind the main point of this blog is that most names and slogans are trademarked/copyrighted/owned. Coming up with a brand name that is brand new is very difficult. And as we are in the process of starting a new airline ourselves the Wizz Air model has stolen our wind. To become Top Gun we have thrown a few names into the luggage compartment for consideration.

Paper Plane Air.

Whizz With an H Air.

Bizz Class.

Air We Go, Air We Go.

Fly Whizz Us.

Overrated: The Conductor

September 7, 2015

Staff shortages and rapidly increasing costs contributed to the demise of the bus conductor job. Most buses are now manned by one person where previously the driver concentrated on the road and the “clippy” took the fares. There is little debate that the conductor fulfilled a responsible position. Plainly speaking, he was needed. Contrast this with the role of a conductor in an orchestra. What’s going on there?

There’s this big band of players blaring away and in charge of the whole shebang noise is a hairy man waving a baton about. And they call this culture. Apparently, it’s his pointers and gestures that cue in all the musicians. Why is this? Don’t the violinists and violaists and the rest not know the timing or structure of the song? Don’t they practise? Re-Hearse? Is the tune that complicated they don’t know when it’s their time to string or blow or beat. What amateurs. Getting tips from the conductor is cheating. In my eyes they are not playing “live” if they need help in finding the right tempo. Live shows are prone to the odd mistake and that is what makes them more thrilling than this abomination of listening to music by numbers.

Even more amazing is the fact that after the recital the conductor gets the tiger’s share of the appaws. Are the audience crazy? This is the only guy that isn’t playing an instrument. Consider the poor bloke on the complicated surgical implement, the Oboe. He’s been blowing his boe until his lungs are as limp as a Spa Francorchamps Vettel Pirelli yet someone waving a wand and sharing his dandruff is the star. When Oboea recovers his breath he should challenge the conductor to a game of blow football. Not so classy with a straw, now are you, Hairdo?

Back to the audience. Is it any wonder they clap the least talented member of the ensemble. Why are these fakes/flakes all dressed up to the ninety-niners to listen to cartoon music? As soon as I hear “classical music” I think of Tom and Jerry. Tom’s plans have backfired again and the hot iron has landed on his head turning it into an accordion. Furthermore, the humble accordion doesn’t make the cut into the orchestra final round. The Alexandrian Brothers chest expander has failed where the stupid bassoon and yawning trombone have hit the fairway.

How does one go about applying for the job of conductor or should I say, ahem, musical director? Do the interview board give you a baton and say “John Majorette”, “Conduct better than any heavy metal”, “Get with the beat, Baggy”, “Wave it like Pipeline, Oahu” . Eagerly I scour the employment pages looking for a shot at the conductor gig. My hair is long enough and I can twirl a stick; half of the people in the West coast can do this, it’s in our DNA. If I had a chance to impress the judges I would show off my freestyle conducting skills-

Flick the stick round my fingers like all good drummers do.

Switch the stick from left hand behind my neck to right hand.

Swish a Zorro Z as I carve the air.

Hold the stick two-handed, raise it over my head and then chop it right down like its an axe.

Nutmeg the Tuba player with the stick then drop a shoulder bodyswerving the cellist out the building, do a 360 turn on the triangulist, flip-flap the Harpist and end with a rainbow flick over the complete woodwind section. 

After all that I think I deserve a standing ovation because, let’s face it, all the rest is background music compared to the Maestro. But this won’t happen because the game is up for orchestral conductors. You’ve been sussed out. The finale is here. Get the bus home. There are no conductors on it, including you.

*****

What do you call a snake in charge of an orchestra? A Boa Conductor.

This conductor entered a bar in Greece. It had five seats in it. He threw one of them out. There’s only four seats in a bar.

A conductor hit himself in the eye with his stick making it bloodshot. The Francophile culture vultures in the crowd called it the Baton Rouge.

*****

Not all classical music is rubbish. This is my favourite piece.

The answer is 69 today

September 5, 2015

 

 

Farrokh Bulsara born September 5th 1946. More famously known as Freddie Mercury.

A few little known Freddie facts.

The King of stadium rock was a master at table tennis.

During one of the intervals at the Time musical, from which Freddie contributed a few tracks, Freddie sold ice-creams as one of the vendors. Once spotted by an eagle-eyed member of the public he began to throw the goodies from his cart into the audience. Freebies, all round. Generosity was his middle name. (Truthfully, pedantically, Freddie didn’t have a middle name)

Freddie could not drive. He had a chauffeur.

He would have been 69 today.

In my eyes and my ears, the Greatest of them all.

Sanctuary at the Lighthouse

September 5, 2015

Radio 666 weather report.

Wrap up, puddings. Winter warnings and a blizzard on the way. Snowy headlines will lead the papers tomorrow. Only go out unless you really need to. This is going to be the wildest evening of the year. Stay warm, stay safe.

Henry Hanratty could not have picked a worse night to taxi for a living. In this weather you’ll get plenty of fares, said his wife. What did she know? No one but the devil would be out on a night like this. All Henry was doing was wasting petrol as not a soul was walking the streets. His cab had entered a quiet stretch of road on the off chance a traveller might be needing a lift. No chance! Nothing. Nada. Zilcho. He turned his ride around and hit an icy spot on the road.

His car careered onto a lamppost and clonked out dead. Henry hit his head on the steering wheel in frustration and anger. Stuck to a pole in a polar landscape. He was a long way from home and his phone was on the blink. Why did I listen to Hanratty the harridan, he harangued himself. A stroke of luck occurred as a spot of light glistened in the vicinity. Henry was anchored in a lonely street but one lamp in a house was shining, beckoning him towards it.

He rang the doorbell and was greeted by an old man in a dressing gown.

“I  had an accident in my car and my mobile has packed up. You don’t mind if I use your phone to call my wife.” implored Henry.

The aged resident answered in a frail voice. “Of course, come on in. I’ll make you a cup of coffee. You look freezing.”

Henry was led into a living room that was comfortably modern and clean. He was surprised to see the plasma TV and luxurious settee.

“Have a seat and I’ll make that brew.” said the host.

Things will turn out right, thought Henry, and it is an experience being welcomed into a stranger’s house. This could be a tale to tell the grandchildren, he reasoned .Now relaxed, Henry wandered about the room and came upon the old man’s DVD collection. He browsed the titles. There was a certain home-made quality about the DVD cases that made our Henry quiver. The titles of the films didn’t help matters.

Smoke and two-way Mirrors.

The Prisoner that was poisoned.

Old Men that eat brains to stay young.

Beware the Light that never goes out.

“What are you doing?” The old man had came back into the room and was holding two cups of coffee.

“I was just looking at your DVD collection.” said Henry.

“Why?”

“I was just passing the time.”

“I was gone three minutes and you think it right to ransack my place.” The frail voice had been replaced by a sinister snarl.

“No…I..just..” Henry was lost for words.

“What were you going to check next? My cupboard? Do you want to see the skeletons in my cupboard? My room? My chest of drawers? Were you going to investigate my underwear drawer? “Ha, Ha, The old guy wears long Johns”. What a laugh!”

“Not at all, ” protested Henry “I wouldn’t…”

“You wouldn’t what?” The old man’s voice had raised to shouting level. “You were nosying through my DVDs and Lucifer knows what you would have done next. I invite you in, give you coffee and this is what you do. How you repay my gratitude. I have a good mind to-”

The next word was cut short as the doorbell rang. The homeowner glared at Henry before answering the door. Incredibly, another motorist had had an accident and was seeking shelter. The light in the house attracting the crashed moths. The second arrival was welcomed and offered coffee. The old man went away to make the third cup.

Henry saw a chance to escape and said to the newcomer. “Rotten weather, eh? Hey, you know what, this old guy has got some DVD collection. Why don’t you have a look?”  The rookie nodded and headed to the DVD cabinet. Henry bolted for the door and ran into the worsening storm. He’d take his chance with hypothermia and all the rest.

Midlife crisis #2: There will be blood

September 1, 2015

Midlife is, of course, the wrong thing to say. Being younger than Dorian Gray I have yet to reach an eighth never mind middle of any crisis. Nevertheless, there is a critical story to be told.

At this point in my existence I decided to become a do-gooder. Selfishness and insularity was a thing of the past. It was time for me to give something back to mankind. I had read the leaflets and spoken to others that had done it but now it was my turn to become a blood donor. With one fell swoop I would overcome my fear of needles and help someone with my donation. As midlife crisises go this was near the bottom of the Richter Scale, in the relegation zone.

The questionnaire was a breeze. Having never had a an illness or done anything peculiar in the personal, behind closed doors stakes I ticked all the boxes to be a perfect giver. Given an appointment I trained for my date with Dracula. I stopped drinking alcohol for a week to wash out impurities. I stood on my head to circulate the system. A fringe benefit of this exercise is an instant face lift when you stand up again. And I gave my veins encouragement and praise that I had heard from dog owners: good blood, good blood, That’s a good blood, c’mere blood c’mon, aww who’s a lovely blood. I even rubbed my tummy a few times.

The wretched Ratched

The day arrived and I was strapped up to the bench. A very young nurse was to perform the operation. This was pleasing on the eye as some of my co do-gooders were being administered by Nurse Ratched types. I was told there was no pain involved yet when she inserted the needle I felt a massive sting. The other patients looked relaxed, happy and pain free. I was dizzy and mentioned this to the nurse. Quick as a Flash A-AH she ejected the needle and plastered my arm to stop the impending red flood. Then my bench was tilted so that my feet were in the air. Nobody else was in this postion. I was getting a free face lift on the NHS.

After awhile I was released from my bench prison and given water and biscuits in a holding cell. To be truthful, this was the only reason I was there. I’ll do anything for free biscuits. Throughout my ordeal MrsW waited in the wings. She was sympathetic to my failed attempt at blood giving. What a wuus, she said, they’d have been better off whacking me in the nose, they might have got some blood that way. She added, she would even have offered to provide the punch.

I signed myself out and was instructed to return in six months. I went home to heal. I took off the plaster on my arm and found out what had caused all the trouble. The good looking young nurse had missed the vein! There was a needle mark beside one of the bigger veins. This wasn’t right. No wonder I was away with the fairies. They were pulling muscle and sinew and bone from me. Definitely no blood.

What caused this mistake? Was the nurse a terrible darts player? Did I move before the impact? Did MrsW deliberately bump the nurse’s elbow as she was about to penetrate? The mystery remains. And critically, so does the mark on my arm.