Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Not Such a Bastard After All

Every so often comes a defining moment in our lives. A moment which gives us sudden insight into inner selves, making us re-evaluate our attitudes and values. For me, one such moment occured yesterday. It came unexpectedly and involved Pot Noodle. To properly explain what happened, we have to rewind back to the end of last year, the 30th of December to be exact. This was the day that my next door neighbours did a runner, dumping most of the contents of their house in the back alley for the dustmen to collect, before driving off in their van. I don't think I'd ever exchanged more than two words with them in the year, or so, they'd lived there. Despite having a reputation for being weird, they were at least quiet, unlike previous tenants. So the house lay empty, and I awaited the arrival of yet another set of tenants (there's been a pretty high turnover since the house was put out to let). However, the owner decided to sell, so there have been a steadily decreasing stream of potential buyers (ultimately put off by the asking price, I suspect). Then, at around six thirty on Monday morning, I heard someone moving about in there. Clearly, this was far too early for buyers to be viewing the place. I then remembered seeing the previous tenant's van parked across the road the previous evening. Hearing the back door close, I rushed downstairs and looked out of the window. Sure enough the van was there and, strolling toward from the direction of the back alley, was the guy who had been renting next door until the end of December. Clearly, he still had keys and the locks hadn't been changed.

Now, my first reaction was to get in touch with the estate agents handling the sale and inform them of this outrageous transgression. After all, I reasoned, as a property owner myself, I wouldn't want squatters wandering in and out of my house. And who was to say he was the only one with keys? Before you knew it, the place could be over run with drug addled thugs burgling their way through the neighbourhood and terrorising the local population. However, during the course of Monday, I just didn't find time to contact the agents. When I got home that evening, I noticed the van was back. Later, I looked out of the window at it, only to see my former neighbour sat in the front seat forlornly eating what looked like a Pot Noodle. It was clear that he was currently homeless and, in desperation, had returned to his former home for some kind of shelter. Suddenly, I felt like a total shit and realised what a self-righteous bastard I'd been earlier. I felt even worse when, much later that night, I returned from the pub - assuming that he must have let himself into the house to sleep - to find that the van's engine was running, presumably in an attempt to keep warm as he slept. So, far from being a squatter, it seemed he wasn't even taking advantage of the property's empty status to get a reasonably warm and comfortable night's sleep. Indeed, I recalled that the main sound I'd heard from next door the previous morning had been that of running water. It seemed he was only using his key to get a wash and/or shower. What a judgemental little shit I'd been! I decided then not to say anything to the agents. He wasn't doing any harm. Besides, if the owner (who has been a pretty unscrupulous absentee landlord, reluctant to carry out repairs, according to some of the previous tenants), is too tight or too stupid to change the locks, he deserves all he gets. At the end of the day, I'm not going to kick a man when he's down. Let's face it, there can be few situations sadder than having nowhere else to go other than the house you used to live in. It must be hell, having to sit across the road from it in a van.

So there you are, thanks to a Pot Noodle, I discovered that I'm not such a bastard after all. Some embers of compassion still stir in my breast. Not that I actually feel any better as a result of my decision. The fact is that, in some ways, I actually resent the bastard for making me feel so inadequate! There's a part of me which wishes there was something more I could actually do to help him. Yet still I don't go over to that van and offer any solace. I suspect he wouldn't welcome my pity and I'd just feel like a smug git - commiserating with him om his misfortune before retreating back to my cosy warm house. Besides, my attempts to actively help people usually end badly, more often than not they're thrown back in my face. So, for now at least, I'll settle for helping through inaction. The whole situation just makes me feel so bloody sad. It simply emphasises how damned powerless I really am to really affect the lives of those most in need. Maybe the fact that the third anniversary of my father's death is fast approaching is clouding my judgement: perhaps if it was any other time of year I'd dob my former neighbour in. I'd like to think not. Anyway, he was in there again this morning, and his van's parked opposite again tonight. God knows what he's going to do when the place is finally sold. I hope he sorts himself out soon, if for no other reason so that I can go back to being a self-righteous bastard.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Feel, Or No Feel

Yes folks, it's another great idea for a TV show. Actually, it is just a title for a gameshow. I haven't actually worked out what it would be about. I suppose the obvious format would be a variation on Deal, Or No Deal, except that instead of having to guess how much money is in a particular box, contestants have to decide whether to dip their hands into the box and feel what's there. It could be a thousand pounds, or it could be a huge turd. It's all a gamble. Alternatively, there could be a set of boxes with plaster casts of celebrity whangs, buttocks, vaginas and breasts, and the contestants have to guess who they belong to by just feeling them.

Of course, the most extreme version could involve sex pests being put to the ultimate test, with hidden cameras seeing if they can resist groping attractive women on the tube, or in cafes and the like. An agonising choice - should they take the thousand pounds or go for a quick feel? Nipping off to a public toilet to relieve themselves with a quick one off the wrist would result in instant disqualification, unless they've done a deal with the mysterious 'Wanker', who calls them on their mobile and offers them the opportunity for a quick handy shandy before the next temptation rolls up, in exchange for a proportion of their potential prize money. The tension could be cranked up throughout the show, with girls in shorter and shorter skirts bending down right in front of contestants, virtually rubbing their lovely arses in their faces. With Noel Edmonds officiating over the whole thing and asking the crucial question - "Feel, or no feel?" - this could be a real winner.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Photographic Evidence

Have you seen the picture of the guy they've arrested for sending those letter bombs? I mean, if ever a picture shrieked 'Weirdo!', this is it! It presents such a stereotypical image of the lone weirdo who builds bombs in his bedroom, in between watching videos of the X Files and masturbating over pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar, that I'm left wondering if the press have, in any way, manipulated it. I can't believe that the poor bastard's family authorised its release (unless, of course, they hate him). From the police's point of view, it is perfect. They don't have to bother building a case now - just show that photo to the jury and you'll get a unanimous guilty verdict.

This particular suspect already gives the press everything it needs for its headlines: 'loner', 'goth', 'awkward teenager', 'lives with his mother'. All of these, and more, have already been bandied about, as if any combination of these traits automatically implies guilt. No doubt if it comes to light that as a teenager he built Airfix plastic kits of tanks and planes, this will be taken of evidence of a dangerous 'fixation on military weapons' . God help the poor schmuck if he ever constructed a model of a Tiger tank - they'll be screaming 'Nazi!' from every headline!

There must be a secret police unit somewhere dedicated to finding the most incriminating looking photo of any suspect they arrest. All those embarrassing school photos you thought you'd destroyed? They'll find a copy! I have no doubt that if I'm ever arrested they'll either come up with one of those photos of me doing drunken impressions of the Pope while on holiday in Ireland, or one of me with unkempt shoulder length hair from my student days. Either way, it would ensure a conviction!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Not in on The Joke

First off, an apology to my friend I described as 'totally unreliable' in the previous post. She has since been in touch and has, in fact, been busy moving house. Sorry. I was just wallowing in self pity as I'd been feeling slightly unwell all evening and was contemplating yet another repair bill for my car. In the end I went out for a couple of pints and felt much better. Getting to the point of this post (finally), have you ever felt that you are not 'in' on something which everybody else seems to be? I've increasingly been getting this feeling with regard to a number of current TV series. I've watched them because everyone else seems to be raving about them, but found myself simply shrugging and saying 'yeah?' The most recent instance of this has been Life on Mars. Now, I admit that as I didn't see any of the first series, coming in at the beginning of series two might well have affected my reaction to it. However, the fact is that it just didn't do anything for me. Don't get me wrong, it is clearly a very well made and acted programme. I'm not one of those people who has the urge to denounce anything popular on TV as 'crap', unless they 'discovered' it themselves. Part of the reason for my reaction might have been that I lived through 1973 (when the programme is set), and it doesn't look much like the 1973 I remember. For one thing, the cars are all wrong. There are too many 1972-73 cars on the road in it. Just as today, our roads are clogged with cars from the 1980s and 1990s, so in the early seventies the roads were still dominated by cars from the 1950s and 1960s. Also, there are too many Fords and Austin Allegros - I seem to remember there being lots and lots of Vauxhalls and Rootes Group vehicles around.

OK, I know that it is a fairly trivial criticism, but it is symptomatic of what I feel is wrong with the programme. Of course, fans would argue that such discrepancies are further evidence that it is all a fantasy on the part of the hero who is apparently in a coma in 2007, which is fair enough. I was originally going to mention the fact that whilst the 1970s police are (correctly) shown as being violent, misogynistic bigots, there didn't seem to be any evidence of corruption. However, I've now seen episode two which does address this issue. Nevertheless, it only shows one copper as being bent, whereas, in reality, graft was pretty much endemic in the police in the early 1970s. Indeed, it was generally accepted as a normal part of policing. Ultimately, whether one likes a drama series like this is just a matter of taste, but the other two programmes which have drawn a similar response from me lately fall into that nebulous category of 'satire'. Now, as one who aspires to write vaguely satirical material for the web, I always feel as if I should be kindly disposed toward other forms of satire. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case these days. Since going digital I've tried watching the Daily Show on More 4. I just sit there blank faced. I can see where it should be funny, but it just isn't doing it for me. It all seems too obvious, no subtlety or real invention. Interestingly, I used to catch the weekly 'Global Edition' sometimes on CNN, and that did sometimes amuse me. Perhaps that's the problem - the funny bits are too thinly spread when watching the show five days a week.

The other satirical programme which left me cold was BBC 4's The Thick of It. As with Life on Mars, I was perhaps at a disadvantage as the first time I saw this was with the Christmas Special, which may not have been typical. Again, like the Daily Show, I could see where I should be laughing, but the titters just never came. The gags seemed too well telegraphed and none f the characters were sympathetic. Yes, I kept thinking to myself, we know that political spin doctors are complete arseholes, where's the real blinding insight? Like the Daily Show and Life on Mars, the production couldn't be faulted on technical grounds. It was extremely well made and the performances of the actors universally excellent. But it just didn't do it for me. Maybe I'm asking too much of TV satire. Or perhaps I've changed. I really don't know. It just seems to me that most so-called 'satire' these days keeps on flogging the same old horses (and I'm guilty as charged here, myself). I yearn for fresh targets or, at the very least, some new angles on the existing ones. I do try to do this over at The Sleaze, but I'm just a very small fish in a vast ocean. At the end of the day, it could be me who is out of step. Maybe the rest of the world is more than happy with the satire it is getting?


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Yes folks, it's that time of year again, when I celebrate being another year closer to the boneyard. Actually, I think the word 'celebrate' is putting it a bit strongly. I've never been big on birthdays, although, occasionally I do try and do something vaguely celebratory. Last year, for instance, I had a few drinks with friends. This year, however, I've spent the better part of the day either lounging around in my pyjamas, listening to the swear-fest which is Derek and Clive Live or wandering around my local Virgin Megastore in search of Italian zombie/cannibal movies (although I learned long ago that it really isn't a good idea to ask them if they have a copy of Cannibal Holocaust - you get treated like something scraped off the bottom of a shoe). The best they could come up with was a couple of Lucio Fulci films.

It doesn't help this year that the friend I'd most like to see has gone awol, not even answering text messages (believe me, that's bloody serious where she's concerned). Totally unreliable. Clearly, I need more reliable friends. Mind you, in the case of this one, I probably wouldn't like her as much if she was more reliable. Anyway, not only am I a year older, but it is more or less the first anniversary of me putting Sleaze Diary together. Certainly, it was about this time last year that installed this template and made the first test posts, although the site didn't officially go live until April 2006. Time flies, eh? But getting back to those Italian horror movies - every year my elderly Great Aunt gives me £20 on my birthday, I always tell her I've spent it on something terribly worthy, like the Lives of the Saints, or Jesus of Nazareth. I feel it best that she doesn't know she's subsidising my addiction to trash cinema...


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Radio Ga Ga

It is a pity I'm so publicity shy - it seems I could have had yet another opportunity to get on air, this time on a local BBC radio station. At least that's where this latest e-mail requesting further details of one of my stories would have me believe. However, as it originated from a Yahoo mail account, I have severe doubts as to its authenticity. As far as I'm aware, all BBC employees have official corporation e-mail addresses. Anyway, for your delectation, here it is:

hi my name is xxxxxx xxxxxx from bbc xxxxxx radio.
on your website(
www.thesleaz.co.uk), i read issue 45 titled 'saints alive' which relates to a show we are doing on sunday about individuals/ organisations who do not agree with churc's taking money donations, especially television church programmes.
i wanted to trace the writer of the article in order to request a radio or studio interview with them on the show the this sunday.
i look very forward to a reply.
thank you

Clearly, I must have another site I edit in my sleep, as I don't ever recall running The Sleaz. As with all these other requests, I would have thought that the story in question (Saints Alive) is self evidently satire - the bit where a choirboy-groping priest is canonized as St John-Thomas the Priapic, patron saint of sex offenders, is surely the giveaway.

Of course, many will point to my failure to capitalise upon this opportunity as further evidence that I'm just not taking this satire business seriously enough. If I wasn't such an amateur, I'd have scammed my way onto the air waves and continued the satire. I daresay they're right. I know that many other satire site owners would be wetting their pants at the opportunities with the media that I've passed up but, frankly, I've got better things to do with my time than trying to prove my intellectual superiority by misleading the gullible. That's the difference - I'm not deluding myself into believing that this is some kind of 'career' and that what pays the bills is just something I'm doing until I get that 'big break'. Sadly, real life just ain't like that!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Back Passages of Rural England

Well, I haven't been lynched by a bunch of yokels yet over my latest masterpiece over at The Sleaze - an everyday tale of rural racism entitled Darkest Devon. Still, it's early days yet. I dare say that I can look forward to anonymous messages on my answerphone saying 'Oooooaaarrr' in a menacing tone. Perhaps the tourist boards of Devon and Cornwall will blacklist me - that could cost me all of two page views a year (I only get those because of the wireless-enabled laptop they have in the mobile library - twice a year it gets close enough to the border with Somerset to get online). Still, I suppose there's plenty of time - I only posted it yesterday. Sooner or later some Devonian or Cornishman who's got a cousin with internet access will receive a carrier pigeon message about it...

Anyway, writing the story made me think again about that recent real business down in Devon when those hordes of scavengers descended on that beach to pillage cargo washed ashore from that grounded freighter. I'm still amazed by the fact that the police just stood by and did nothing for several days. I find their excuse that they simply didn't have enough police officers to control the situation a bit thin. Are they really expecting us to believe that there are only three policemen in the whole of Devon and Cornwall? Perhaps the rest of them were off-duty, plundering stuff from the containers down on the beach? Of course, if these pillagers had been a bunch of working class black youths in an inner-city area robbing a shop during a riot, they'd have been labelled looters. You can guarantee that there would be more than enough police available to beat them up. Indeed, they'd probably have been beaten up long before they'd actually robbed anywhere, before the riot, in fact. However, if you're white, middle class and on a beach in Devon, theft is not only OK, but is apparently approved of by onlooking police officers...

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Law Unto Themselves...

Apparently solicitors in my part of the world went on 'strike' for two days last week in protest at changes to the rules on Legal Aid. I wonder if anybody noticed? To be perfectly frank, I can't really say that I know much about these latest changes to entitlement to Legal Aid, but I'd guess that they'll make it more difficult for solicitors to line their pockets with public money. Not that I have a low opinion of the legal 'profession'. No, my opinion of them is rock bottom. The majority of legal practitioners I have the misfortune to deal with are, at best, idiots, at worst, incompetent idiots. What makes them particularly objectionable is the air of smug superiority that most of them affect.

Anyway, getting back to this strike: according to the local rag defendants due to appear at the magistrates' court were worried about their lack of representation. One of them was quoted as saying that he was up on charges of assault and, although he was pleading guilty, felt that he needed a solicitor to properly put his mitigating circumstances to the bench. Mitigating circumstances? What would they be: that you are a cretin? Or that your victim looked at you the wrong way? I suppose if you look at it that way you might need legal representation. However, the fact of the matter is, judging by what I've seen of our local solicitors, you'd be much better off without legal representation. All those arseholes would succeed in doing would be to get you a longer sentence. Trust me, you are better off without these bloodsuckers.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Hand of Love

Ah, Valentine's Day. That time of year when those of us who are single are made to feel like complete inadequates. The relentless day long emphasis on love and romance seems designed to make you feel like a social pariah. Particularly as you trudge wearily home to your microwaved meal for one and lonely night in front of the TV, glancing at all those couples sat in restaurants and the like, convinced that they're all secretly laughing at you. But little do they know that we sad singles also have our own private rituals for this day. For some, these involve a romantic evening in with their inflatable friend. Others amongst us, however, are somewhat more adventurous, setting up a candle lit table in our dining rooms, with a snatched photograph of the latest object of our unrequited love as the centerpiece of an elaborate heart-shaped arrangement of red roses, which we proceed to whack off over. Just to make it that little bit more romantic, I usually tie a red ribbon in a bow around my cock.

Talking of masturbation (which I do, almost as frequently as I commit the act, being a sad single bastard), I caught part of one of those highbrow documentaries about porn the other day - you know the sort, pretending to be a serious study of a neglected 'art form' as an excuse to show some full on shagging - which featured some 'sexologist' claiming that masturbation was now considered the purest form of sexual activity. Two thoughts crossed my mind upon hearing this. Firstly, since when have they awarded degrees in 'sexology' and can I convert my politics degree? Secondly, I thought, bloody hell, I'm a sex God in the privacy of my own home! After all these years my technique must have been honed to perfection! Getting back to the point, the reason wanking is now so highly regarded in the world of 'sexology' (or, as I like to call it, smut), is that it is entirely about the individual - there is no need to worry about satisfying your partner, or any of that inconvenient stuff. As there is only yourself to please, and the fantasy accompanying the whacking off is entirely yours, masturbation is - in theory- more likely to result in an entirely satisfying experience than other forms of sex. All of which means, surely, that is us single sad gits who are actually enjoying the best sex lives. Hah! Stick that up your red roses!


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Whatever Happened To...The Beatles?

I know, I know - two of them died, one of them married a one-legged woman and the fourth became Thomas the Tank Engine. But what if things hadn't gone quite as well for the Fab Four back in the sixties as they actually did? What if they hadn't made so much money and had been forced to pursue other careers, post-Beatles? (No, I don't count bed-ins, films like Caveman and Wings as proper careers). What if John and George hadn't met untimely ends? A lot of 'what ifs', huh? Long, long ago, in a far off post, I recounted my nightmare vision of what John Lennon might be doing if he was alive today - presenting Songs of Praise. Yes indeed, white haired and wearing a roll neck sweater (but still sporting those Granny glasses), there he'd be every Sunday afternoon, sat in his rocking chair giving us a few bars of 'Imagine' on his guitar (accompanied by Yoko on tambourine), before introducing this week's service from some church in the arsehole of England.

I have no doubt that if this had ever come to pass, we'd have seen ITV sign up Paul McCartney to host its rival God-slot offering: Highway. Out would go ex-Goon Harry Secombe blasting out 'If I ruled the World' and blowing raspberries in between reading out letters from viewers chronicling how their faith enables them to endure the appalling afflictions, illnesses and maimings inflicted upon them by God, and in would come Macca treating us to 'Let it Be' on the organ of St Paul's cathedral - with the chorus sung by hundreds of assembled school children. Every Sunday would turn into a battle of rival Christian philosophies, with John and Yoko preaching their fundamentalist vision of the teachings of Christ (all loving thy neighbour and redistributing wealth), while Paul gave us his evangelical showbiz take on the faith (all glitz and glory of God, with a few miracles thrown in).

But what of George? Clearly, the only home for him would have been Channel Four in the days when it still had some integrity. He would doubtless have ended up presenting their alternative religious programme, showcasing those less-popular (in Britain), but peace loving creeds such as Buddhism, Hare Krishna and he like. Every week's show would wind up with him having a jamming session on sitars with a bunch of Tibetan monks or Eastern mystics, in a studio foggy with the smoke of a thousand joss sticks. That just leaves Ringo. Ah, Ringo! I fear that he'd have ended up presenting something like Booze Britain on FTN or some similar scuzzy digital channel. Truth be told, it would probably be mostly composed of his own home movies, as he staggers from pub to pub around London, before collapsing in a steaming heap outside the Savoy, as he awaited his chauffeur driven Rolls Royce, (complete with built-in bar). Mind you, it would surely still be preferable to ending up as the voice of a talking railway engine...

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Monday, February 12, 2007

What Does Mr Blair Propose Doing About My Horn?

Apparently the government has been surprised by the response to an online petition set up on the Downing Street website. Over a million people have signed the petition calling for the government to scrap road-pricing plans. The petition is part of an experiment in 'e-government' set up by Downing Street last year, and is one of a large number currently running on the site. Cynics have tried to claim that this particular petition's spectacular levels of support is down to the road lobby's ability to mobilise relevant interest groups, and isn't necessarily indicative of wider public opinion. Nevertheless, you've got to admit that a million signatures is pretty damn impressive.

Under this experiment, you can try and petition government via the website on any subject. Well, any subject they think falls within the scope of official policy. Hearing about this on the news, I couldn't help but be reminded of the sketch on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's Derek and Clive Ad Nauseum where Clive recounts his letter-writing campaign to political leaders, asking them what they're going to do about the fact that he has the horn. Perhaps I should set up one of these petitions saying "We, the undersigned call upon the government to reveal exactly what the fuck it is they propose doing about the raging horn of Clive (currently up on charges of fucking a fireplace). He's had it for three weeks solid now and his knob aches something awful. As a taxpayer surely he's entitled to some relief from Mr Blair?" Somehow, I think they'll claim that people's horns lie outside the scope of government policy. Except, of course, where said horn is possessed by a cabinet minister. In which case he's perfectly entitled to try and quench with the aid of a secretary and an official desk.


Friday, February 09, 2007

They Don't Know They're Porn!

According to a recent survey British teenagers are becoming addicted to internet porn. Apparently a large proportion of under-sixteens view on-line pornography at least once a month. Once a month? What the hell is wrong with them? If the internet had been about when I was that age, I'd have been permanently logged on. My hard drive would have burned out as the result of the amount of porn I'd have tried to download! Jesus Christ! It would have been the answer to all of our prayers at that age - dirty pictures of naked women doing rude things delivered directly to the privacy of your bedroom, for free! No having to shuffle around local newsagents trying to look inconspicuous as you attempted to buy a copy of Big and Bouncy or Bum Biter semi-concealed inside a copy of the Nursing Times. Actually, none of us actually had the nerve to buy jazz mags - we had to salvage them from hedgerows where they'd been discarded by older sex-starved perverts.

If we were really lucky, we'd stumble across some other poor sap's stash of porno and misappropriate it for ourselves. Ah, those were the days. How well I remember combing the television schedules for anything that might contain a flash of tit and which I could legitimately get away with watching. Art programmes were always good for that sort of thing. That and serious literary adaptations. Or foreign-language films. If they were speaking French while they got their kit off, it wasn't pornography. Hammer films of that period were usually fruitful - they were going through their lesbian vampire phase. Indeed, Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde was always one you could get away with watching on the grounds that it was a serious adaptation of a literary classic - except that this time Jekyll turned into the gorgeous Martine Beswick who then took all her clothes off. The lengths we'd go to for a glimpse of a nipple, or a flash of buttocks! Nowadays kids have it on tap, and they only look at it once a month! They don't know they're porn!


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow Business

If it isn't terrorist threats, it's bird flu. There's always something the media, particularly TV news, is trying to panic us over. "We're all going to die!" seems to be the main message these days. The most recent threat to our lives has - bizarrely - been snow. As soon as the white stuff was forecast we had concerned looking newsreaders giving grave warnings of traffic chaos and massive disruption to our everyday lives. You could feel the tension mounting as they waited for the first snowfall, their panic barely contained. When it finally came, it was like the country had been invaded. There were constant reports on how far the the snow had advanced, what roads were blocked and which trains weren't running. "Don't travel unless it is absolutely necessary," urged anxious looking newscasters, as they crossed over to a front line report from some poor schmuck out in the cold. "Now over to Dick Holder in Upper Dicker. What's happening where you are Dick?" It's bloody snowing, that's what's happening! We can all see that by simply looking out of our windows! But the chaos just went on, with one radio station reporting breathlessly that Virgin Trains were running late and had now been reduced to an hourly service. Doesn't that happen every day? Most Virgin passengers were probably surprised to learn that there was even an hourly scheduled service. They'd just assumed that the trains turned up when they felt like it...

TV reports on anything mildly threatening are nowadays getting so frenzied that I'm fully expecting to tune in and see a reporter suddenly leap up from behind his desk as he gives us the latest weather update and run around the studio waving his arms, tearing out his hair and shrieking, "Oh my God! Oh my God!" over and over again. Quite what effect all this panic is having on the viewing public isn't clear. I sometimes get the impression that the media are deliberately trying to stampede the public like frightened cattle. I suspect that, in reality, they'll all be reduced to gibbering wrecks, hiding under their dining room tables or behind sofas, too scared to look at their TVs whenever the news comes on. Still, the snow's melting now (where I am, at least) and it should all be gone by tomorrow. Not that the thaw will deter the panic mongers on our TV screens. They'll all be screaming "Flood - we're all going to drown" now, and when it freezes over night they'll be warning us of the evils of black ice and urging us "Not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary - or you'll die!"


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Ass Detective

OK people, I've got another great idea for a TV series. This time its one of those gritty US crime series. The key with all detective series is that the protagonist has to have a quirky way of solving crimes: Columbo, for instance, irritates people into confessing; the people in CSI apply science to solve mysteries; on this side of the Atlantic Inspector Morse uses rationality and drinks beer in order to catch murderers. Sometimes the quirks don't seem to have any crime-solving relevance: Frank Cannon was just fat, Miss Marple knitted a lot and Monk is obsessive-compulsive. So here's my idea - the ass detective: he solves crimes by feeling people's butts. His technique is a bit like phrenology, where you 'read' the shape of someone's head. Except he uses asses.

Basically, this guy is an ex-NYPD detective called Crackowski, or something like that, who was kicked off the force after forcing some rich kid he suspected of being a serial killer to drop his pants and bend over in the precinct house toilets, before groping his ass. In the subsequent Internal Affairs investigation it turned out that Crackowski had a collection of over two thousand polaroids of juvenile asses. Now he works freelance, hanging around the city's toilets and massage parlours, trying to get glimpses of suspected criminal asses. All the while he's determined to prove the rich kid who got him canned is really guilty. I see the part as being perfect for Dennis Franz from NYPD Blue. Let's face it, he just looks like the kind of guy you'd find groping asses in grimy back alleys.

The way I envisage it, every week the police are left baffled by some heinous crime - despite having a prime suspect, they just can't manage to get sufficient evidence to bring a case. Enter the ass detective. He finds some way of insinuating himself into the suspect's life - posing as a male prostitute, maybe - so as to get himself close to their ass. Finally he manages to get his hands on their butt, and gets the evidence he needs. Cue bare-assed car chase, bad guy caught with his pants down, case closed, roll end titles. Great, huh? Of course, if push came to shove, it could all be relocated in Britain, where it would have to be called the arse detective, and his name would probably be Phil McCavity. But I think it needs a gritty urban US setting to really work.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Fuck Folk - Again!

According to BBC2's Culture Show, the new musical rage is using medieval musical instruments to play modern folk. Excuse me whilst I lie down for a minute! This is just such an exciting development! Actually, I seem to recall that this interest in old musical instruments has been around for a while. Indeed, former Deep Purple and Rainbow axeman Ritchie Blackmore has apparently abandoned his electric guitar for a lute, tights and a pixie hat. A few years ago he even released an album (the title of which I've thankfully forgotten), on which, accompanied by Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson and his flute, he belted out some medieval-type folk bollocks. It seems obvious to me that what's needed here is some kind of folk/pop crossover, performed with archaic instruments. Maybe Blackmore and Anderson could get a minstrel band together and perform the collected hits of Britney Spears using only instruments made before 1423. All in the style of folk ballads. Trust me, it'd be a hit. Especially if you could get some half-witted radio DJ to give it a bit of airplay.

Such a crossover could open the floodgates for other pieces of musical experimentation. Perhaps Lily Allen could borrow some of the costumes from her old man's Robin Hood TV series and show that nice middle-class girls can master the language of the thirteenth century just as well as they can that of the street. She could ponce about in one of those medieval babe's gowns singing about how the sheriff has taken away the key to her chastity belt, or something. Even better, that twat from the Ordinary Boys - you know, the one who married that vacuous slapper who won Celebrity Big Brother the other year - could be persuaded to do an olde English minstrel song about the hazards of being a village idiot. Hopefully there'd be a video with him in the village stocks having shit thrown at him. At least, we'd tell him that it was for a video...

Actually, the crossover I've always wanted to see is Motorhead doing an album of George Formby covers. The thought of Lemmy playing the electric banjo whilst banging out "Oh Mr Wu, whatever should I do?" or "When I'm cleaning windows" never fails to make me smile. I can just see him head-banging away, hair flying all over the place, shouting "Turned out nice again". He'd probably get into the 1940s period spirit by wearing a German coal-scuttle helmet and Iron Cross. Not that he's a Nazi, of course. But he does have a huge collection of WWII Nazi memorabilia. It's just a hobby. Apparently. (Actually, I once knew a guy who had a huge collection of child pornography. He wasn't a peadophile, of course. It was just a hobby. Or so he told the police when they nicked him. Not that I'm drawing any analogies with Lemmy here. I just mentioned it out of interest. I hope I've cleared that up satisfactorily. Just for legal reasons, of course). But we've strayed from the whole issue of folk music, haven't we? Basically, the point I originally intended to make was simple: no matter how they dress it up, folk is still shit. Fuck folk!


Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Return of Bird Flu

Aaaaargh! We're all going to die horribly! Yes, it's back! Bird Flu! Stand by for hysterical tabloid headlines and earnest TV reporters telling us all not to panic, whilst simultaneously stoking up the fires of fear with their footage of thousands of turkeys being slaughtered. Brace yourselves for the backlash against our feathered friends. Before you know it, police will be rounding up exotic species - kicking in the doors of their cages in midnight raids! Any migratory bird caught without a valid passport will find itself banged up in a detention aviary pending deportation to some country too poor to protest about us infecting them with avian flu viruses. Those suspected of deliberately trying to bring the virus into the UK will doubtless be banged up indefinitely in high security cages at Belmarsh, without legal representation or trial.

Still, as long the panic is directed toward birds, I don't really care. It's about time someone had a go at the little bastards. According to a spokesperson for the National Farmers' Union interviewed on BBC news about this latest bird flu outbreak at a Norfolk turkey farm, the main culprits for spreading infection are wild birds. Hopefully, this will mean open season on sparrows, thrushes, starlings and the like. Not only are wild birds the main perpetrators of bird flu, but they're also the main culprits when it comes to shitting on my car. You know, I paid £5.50 to get the car cleaned at a car wash last week - within forty eight hours the little bastards had shat all over it! Blast them out of the sky before it is too late! Strangle a pigeon today! You know it makes sense! Not only will you be protecting the country from avian flu, but you'll be keeping my car clean too!


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Competitive Spirit?

OK, I'm finally able to publicly answer a question I've been asked a few times over the past month or so - why didn't The Sleaze have an entry in the recent Humorfeed competition for best satire story of 2006? The answer is simply that, as with the 2005 competition, my decision not to participate was purely a personal choice - I wasn't 'boycotting' the competition out of dissatisfaction with the voting system, or because I didn't 'approve' of the judges, the shortlist or the winners. I've had people speculating that any or all of these were behind my decision. Sadly, for the conspiracy theorists anyway, it was nothing so dramatic - I simply don't like competitions! That's it folks! I'm just not a competitive person and I certainly don't see The Sleaze as being in competition with any other satire site. Having said that, I have no problem at all with Humorfeed organising such a competition and I'm quite happy to offer my congratulations to the winners.

So, there you are: nothing sinister, just a personal choice. At the end of the day, I suppose it just comes down to the fact that, speaking personally, I don't think it possible to say which is the 'best' satire story. Not only is it such a subjective issue, but the sites which make up Humorfeed are so diverse (one of its greatest strengths), that it is impossible to compare stories from different sites in any meaningful way. Having said that, whilst it is impossible to say which is the 'best', I certainly have opinions on the worst satire stories out there! There is just so much crap out there! Suffice to say, however, that none of it, thankfully, is on Humorfeed! I think some of my more recent posts will give a fair indication of where I think the shittiest satire is to be found! But hey, this is all in danger of getting a bit too heavy! The bottom line is that, the impossibility of actually deciding the 'best' satire story notwithstanding, the competition is just a bit of fun and shouldn't be taken too seriously.

I've waited until this year's competition was done and dusted and the winners announced before replying to some of the enquiries I've had from readers, so as not to give the impression I'm trying, in some way, to criticise the contest, or derail it. Of course, all this begs another question: will my feelings have changed by the time of next year's competition? Somehow I doubt it, but I'd never close the door on it completely!