Friday, November 30, 2007

Unexpected Items

You know, I generally make it a point to be polite and friendly to the people working on supermarket checkouts. It's a lousy job with piss-poor pay, so why make it worse by being rude and condescending? However, today I did have cause to get bloody irritated with a cashier in Sainsbury's. It was a simple thing which pushed me over the edge - specifically being asked if, as I only had five items, I'd rather use the self-service tills, as there was no queue there. For fuck's sake! If I wanted to use the self-service tills, I would have been standing at them. I wasn't. As I pointed out, the reason there was no queue at them was because nobody wants to use them. They're shit. Every time I do see someone using them, all I hear is the infernal device telling the customer that they need to seek assistance as there was an 'unexpected item'. Well, fuck me, a psychic machine! It apparently knows what items you are going to buy and put through it!

What really pissed me off was the idea that by having fewer items I had somehow forfeited the right to be treated like a 'proper' customer! I really couldn't understand what the relative length of queues at different tills had to do with it - there was only one person in front of me. Not only that, but why would any self-respecting worker advocate the use of a self-service till? Doesn't he know that the only reason the supermarkets are trying to force these bloody things on us is so that they can cut staffing levels and maximize their already inflated profits by reducing the wage bill? But what the hell, I should have realised that there'd be trouble as soon as I clapped eyes on that cashier. He was some bloody spotty teenager with a stupid hair cut. Anyone who thinks such a style is in any way fashionable is clearly a pillock of the first order. Ultimately, using those self service tills is like wanking yourself off in a brothel - why do it yourself when you've already paid for the service?

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bollocks, Utter Bollocks and a Load of Bullshit

There really is so much bollocks in the news media these days. Take BBC Radio 1's 'exclusive' access to 'MI6', for instance. It got off to a very poor star when it stated that 'MI6' are based in a 'beige office block' in South London. For fuck's sake, we all know that it's called Vauxhall Cross and is situated next to Vauxhall station. And surely everybody knows by now that the organisation is correctly called the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Then of course, was all the bullshit around the security measures they had to go through to get in. Trust me, unless things have changed drastically since my days of working inside the Secret State, this was mainly for the benefit of the microphones. I remember once having to attend a meeting there and getting in without showing my ID, instead simply pointing to my name on the visitors list and declaring 'That's me'. Believe me, the lobby is just like that of a regular office block, reception desk, security barriers, the superannuated-looking security guards - it's all pretty innocuous. Indeed, the whole organisation is really just another civil service bureaucracy, people toiling away behind desks from nine to five (OK, ten to six in the SIS's case), producing reports and looking forward to their pensions. What really got me about these reports was the way the SIS people were so keen to play down the 'James Bond' image, yet still indulged in bollocks like the security business, and the use of voice changers to 'protect their identities'. Utter bullshit.

The other big bullshit going on is this business about the details of '25 million' people being lost Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Can you really get the full details of 25 million people onto just two CDs? I smell a conspiracy. Clearly, this is utter bollocks, a story fabricated to try and discredit the government. Amazing how it is conveniently followed-up by this business about the 'proxy' donations. Obviously the right wing press are in league with the Tories, and possibly some rogue elements within HMRC and the intelligence services to try and bring down Brown. Well, I'm on to you now! Don't forget, I know secrets, too! If you bastards don't come clean, I'm going to start divulging every dirty secret I know! Oh yes! You really don't want me to do that now, do you? Zeke Rumplewick - that name ring a bell, does it? Well, you'd better start spilling the beans, or I'll tell everybody exactly what he was doing with the First Sea Lord in the stationary cupboard on the notorious fourth floor of the Old War Office Building in 1996. Ha! Got you worried now, haven't I? OK, I know that all sounds like the demented ramblings of a lunatic, but I'm old enough to remember the days when the right wing press were full of such rantings, whenever anything potentially damaging to the then Conservative government were reported. I just thought that it was high time those of us on the left had a go. That said, I still think it's all a crock of shit...

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Modern Utopia?

It's the end of civilisation as we know it! It represents the destruction of traditional community values! Oh woe! Alas and alack! The 'clone towns' are upon us! That's all I seem to be hearing - people whingeing on about how awful it is that Britain's town centres are becoming more and more alike. Apparently the big chain stores have moved in to oust all those wonderful local shops. (You know the ones - they never stocked anything more exotic than tinned fruit and charged well over the odds for everything). But honestly, I don't know what people are complaining about - have they never read Sir Thomas More's Utopia? According to him, the perfect society would feature identical cities, each providing exactly the same amenities and services. That way there would be no necessity for people to travel anywhere - it was all the same. Not only are we heading that way with regard to shopping, but we're also getting there employment-wise, too. For professionals. distance working via phone and web increasingly eliminate the need to commute, whilst the destruction of the manufacturing sector and the advent of the 'flexible' employment market means that for the working classes there's a steady supply of locally-based low-paid casual jobs.

Now, you'd think that people, especially those middle class would-be environmentalists, would welcome such developments. Think of the massive reduction in carbon footprints if all long distance travel was eliminated. There's also a public safety aspect. By discouraging people to travel, they can instead be kept in the safely controlled environments of CCTV monitored shopping centres. Perfect safety - Utopia again! Also with fewer people travelling, terror attacks on the transport infrastructure would be less effective - Utopia! Crime too, would decline. After all, rather than being out robbing middle class people's houses, all those working class scumbags will be too busy shoplifting in those identikit town centres...

The people decrying the 'death' of traditional shops are generally well-off middle class tossers who can afford to pay for over-priced tat from twee little corner shops (just so long as their run by nice white people - God forbid we should have to deal with those Asian shop keepers). However, for the majority of less affluent working class people, the cheap and cheerful supermarkets and chain stores are a Godsend. Trust me, on the wages casual work pays, ASDA and Primark represent the pinnacle of the shopping experience. So, stop complaining you middle class bastards - we're living in a modern Utopia. Rejoice!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Searching for Optimisation

The art of headline writing is something close to my heart. I'd like to think that every so often I've come up with a catchy one either here or on The Sleaze. Unlike many other 'satire' sites, I prefer to give my stories proper titles which double as headlines, rather than just using the first line of the story, or a key word heavy phrase, as many others do. Getting to the point, I was interested to discover in last week's Guardian an article on how the Sun's journalists and sub-editors had been given training in writing 'search engine friendly' headlines which can be used on both the web and print editions of the paper. Incredibly, the orthodoxy that such headlines had to contain all the right kind of key words and phrases so as to be placed highly in searches, was repeated. Indeed, there was even spurious 'evidence' that some of the Sun's most famous headlines wouldn't place highly in 'relevant' searches. I really am surprised that such bollocks is still being peddled.

In seven and a half years or so of running The Sleaze, I've discovered, mainly through trial and error, that most of what's written about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and internet marketing is absolute cobblers. Link exchanges, banner exchanges, traffic exchanges - none of them generate significant long-term traffic. Most traffic comes from search engines or 'word of mouth' on blogs, message boards, social networking and news sites. When it comes to search engines, the important thing to remember is that the overwhelming majority of current search engines search the whole text of a web page. Just optimising the title is pointless. Much of the guff spouted on the subject of SEO assumes that you know what search terms potential visitors will use to find you and that you can optimise your site accordingly. That might be true for sites representing narrow interests or very specific products and services. However, for sites like The Sleaze, peddling satire and parody, you can't narrow down the possible search terms so easily. Not only are they going to vary from story to story, but with regard to the overall site, very few people ever search for anything as specific as 'news satire', say. The same is true of genuine news sites - or The Sun, for that matter. I've no doubt that the 'traditional' headlines 'tested' by the Guardian didn't fare well in searches using very specific terms. But that doesn't represent the reality of how most people search the web. Unfortunately, those who peddle SEO 'solutions' rely upon the fact that their potential customers don't know this. So there you are, Doc Sleaze's guide to web optimisation: don't bother, just make sure you are listed with Google and the rest will follow.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Apology

OK, I know, my posts this week have been a bit crap. I'm really sorry about that, but I've been having a pretty shitty week away from the web, out in the real world. It's difficult to remain cheery and think up subject matter for postings when the first thing you had to deal with on Monday was an attempted suicide. Trust me, slit wrists are not the ideal thing to start the week with. Quite frankly, my only real pleasure this week has come from seeing Steve McClaren's demise as England manager. All in all, it's been another one of those weeks when I've been left asking myself: "What the fuck am I doing with my life?" That aside, I promise to try and do better posting-wise next week.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Was it Wrong of Me... laugh uproariously when Scott Carson let that first Croatian goal in last night? By the time he'd conceded the second I was rolling on my living room floor in fits of uncontrollable laughter. The source of my unalloyed joy was two-fold. On the one hand, England's certain defeat after those two goals would surely mean the long overdue dismissal of Steve McClaren as manager. Indeed, he was sacked this morning, paving the way for the FA to employ somebody competent in the role. (Although, knowing the FA, they'll probably appoint Sam Allardyce instead). Secondly, as a (still estranged) Spurs fan, I was happy to see the much vaunted pretender to Paul Robinson's Number One jersey prove that he isn't fit to lace Robbo's boots, let alone be selected ahead of him for international duty.

Actually, the selection of Carson as goalie for such a crucial match summed up everything that was wrong with McClaren's approach. OK, so I can understand that, in view of Robinson's recent dip in form, there was a case for resting him. But to replace him with a keeper who had played only one international match previously was nothing short of irresponsible. Particularly bearing in mind that another, far more experienced keeper, David James - who is enjoying a great run of form with Pompey - was available. As for the decision to play only that lanky streak of piss Crouch up front, don't get me started. So, all-in-all, despite a slight pang of guilt at laughing at the England team's misfortune, I don't think it was wrong of me to react in that way. Let's face it, although failure to qualify for Euro 2008 is a disappointment, in the long-term it's for the best. We're rid of McClaren now - even if we'd qualified, any team managed by him would have embarrassed us at the finals. All we can do now is hope the FA select the next manager wisely and look forward to the 2010 World Cup.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dirty Old Men?

"GRANDFATHER CAUGHT IN INTERNET CHILD PORN STING" was roughly the headline on my local paper the other day. As I don't bother reading the dross which passes for a newspaper in this neck of the woods, I couldn't tell you what the actual content of the story was, but the image it was trying to conjure up was clear. Some dirty tramp-like figure in a threadbare dressing gown and frayed carpet slippers hunched over a flickering green-tinged monitor, cackling and grunting as he whacks off over the most depraved images possible, his false teeth in a grimy glass beside the monitor - that's what they want you to envisage. That's the summation of all evil they want to invoke. The truth was probably that the 'Grandfather' in question was some middle-class Honda-driving silver surfer, who wears sharp suits and is a member of the local golf club. Whilst the press, even at local level, want to cast everything in stark black-and-white terms, the reality is that evil is rarely obvious. Rapists and sex offenders rarely look like depraved hillbillies. Serial killers generally don't wander around cackling and waving meat cleavers. Likewise, burglars don't dress in striped shirts, wear masks and carry bags marked 'swag'. If only all miscreants followed such guidelines, crime detection rates would be through the roof.

Getting back to the original issue, the headline adorning my local paper, it is interesting how these days the media casually associates old people, children and porn. Back when I was a lad, the sight of some old bloke watching kiddies in a playground was simply an indication of a responsible grandparent keeping an eye on the kids to ensure their well-being. Nowadays, we'd have mobs of enraged parents descending on the playground screaming 'Kiddie fiddler' and kicking the shit out of the old boy. I remember in the 1970s Clive Dunn making a career out of dressing up as an old man and surrounding himself with little children singing 'Grand Dad, we love you'. Jesus Christ! He'd never get away with that now! The press would be whipping up a storm and, before you knew it, people would be painting the word 'Nonce' across the front of his house and burning their DVD boxed-sets of Dad's Army. But, back to the original point again, it really is a sad state of affairs when even our local press are resorting to peddling such sensationalist stereotypes of the old. Then again, I suppose they have to find some way of making the local news seem interesting. Face it, 'Cab Fares Hike' just isn't going to sell papers.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Our Winterval Appeal

It seems an opportune moment both to launch our annual appeal and to reaffirm our commitment to the ongoing campaign to replace Christmas with an all encompassing non-denominational twelve day mid-winter festival: Winterval. But back to The Sleaze's annual appeal. Taking a cue from Blue Peter which this year is asking its viewers to send in unwanted CDs and DVDs, which will be sold to raise money for Barnardo's young carers throughout the UK, I'm also going to ask my readers to send me in their DVDs. You know the ones I mean - the ones you can't possibly send in to a kids' TV appeal. The ones which have suddenly become too hot to have around the house now your girlfriend has moved in, the ones your mother nearly found when she was cleaning your room the other day. Those DVDs. So, instead of sending them to Blue Peter in hope of embarrassing Konnie Huq, send them to The Sleaze.

Whilst there is no way that there is ever going to be a Blue Peter market stall featuring Zoe Salmon trying to flog the likes of Anal Asian and All Hands on Dick 2: Das Butt to viewers' older brothers and pervy uncles, I can promise you that your prized wanking aids will go to a good home where they will be lovingly cared for. Whilst any donations to The Sleaze won't be used to raise money for good causes, they will make an old git very happy. Just to be clear, we don't want any DVDs classified less than 18. No Disney, no musicals, no Schwarzenegger or Stallone. By now you should know my tastes - classic porn is welcome, as is any hot girl-on-girl action. I also don't mind a bit of mild bondage, but I'm afraid gay porn isn't really my bag. I also have to admit that I find those girls with the really huge knockers a bit of a turn off - natural and modestly sized preferred. So, if you have anything which falls into these categories, please feel free to send them too:

The Sleaze Annual Appeal
3, The Bladders,
QU99 XZ0

And remember - I still have a functioning VCR, so I'm happy to accept tapes (VHS only, both NTSC and PAL) as well as DVDs.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Bootlegged Beatles

"I'd been unofficially dead for nearly fifteen years - I was getting bored, I needed to make music again," says Harold Plucker, who portrays Paul McCartney in the current Bootleg Beatles line up and has recently claimed that he actually is the real Paul McCartney. "Forming a Beatles tribute band seemed the obvious thing to do - who would ever suspect that I was impersonating myself?" Plucker/McCartney claims that back in 1966 he was finding the pressures of being a member of the world's most successful pop act too much. However, the other members of the band were reluctant to either contemplate a split, or bringing in a new member. "They were afraid that changing the line-up could alienate the fans," he recalls. "Then Brian Epstein came up with the idea of replacing me with a lookalike. It was brilliant - it meant that I could assume a new identity and escape the limelight altogether." Consequently, a suitable replacement was recruited and given extensive plastic surgery. "I carried on writing for the band until they split up," claims Plucker/McCartney. "I never wrote for my replacement when he went solo - that's all his own work." Rumours about the replacement started to circulate in the late 1960s, and wild stories that the real McCartney had died in an accident, or had even been murdered began to spread. "Those crazy stories suited me," says Plucker/McCartney. "They made it easier for me to disappear - if everyone thought I was dead, nobody would be looking for me. "

Having made the decision to form a Beatles tribute band, Plucker/McCartney now faced the task of recruiting three other members. "It seemed obvious - if we were going to achieve that authentic Beatles sound, we'd need as many of the old crew as possible," he says. "I honestly thought that John would be the most difficult to persuade, but it turned out that he was getting tired of is life with Yoko and was finding his solo career unsatisfying." Obviously, the real John Lennon couldn't play himself in a tribute band, so the ex-Beatle decided to follow his band mate's example and faked his own death. However, the other members of the band proved more difficult to recruit. "George and Ringo just weren't interested," says Plucker/McCartney. "I offered the drummer's job to Pete Best - he jumped at the chance, even though it meant having to wear a false moustache and fake nose." Finding a faux-George Harrison was more more problematic. "We auditioned hundreds of lookalikes, but they were all crap. None of them could play like George," he sighs. "Then we heard about this kid - he had a guitar-shaped stigmata on his side. Sometimes it would gently weep. We decided that was a sign." Incredibly, the new recruit proved to be a brilliant guitarist. "It was uncanny, he sounded exactly like George," says Plucker/McCartney. "John reckoned he was like the Dalai Lama, you can identify him as a true reincarnation by his birthmarks." He believes that his group represents the true spirit of the Beatles. "Just look at the crap attributed to the 'real' Beatles since we split up - those two lousy singles in the 1990s," he says dismissively. "It was clear that without the song-writing genius of Lennon and McCartney, they were nothing." In answer to the criticism that the Bootleg Beatles haven't produced any original material at all, he points out that the songs they perform represent the peak of his and Lennon's creative output: "You can't improve on perfection. The public knows that, so we keep giving them what they want - the fruit of our genius!"

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Curse of King Tut

The London exhibition of King Tutankhamen's treasures was bizarrely disrupted when its venue, the Millennium Dome, was stormed by an angry mob waving table lamps. "We wanted to use flaming torches, but the authorities at the Dome refused to let us in with them for health and safety reasons," the mob's organiser, thirty one year old Adele Slaney, later told Sleaze Diary. "And then they weren't going to let us plug the lamps in! For God's sake, we'd paid the full ticket price to get in to the bloody exhibition!" Once inside, the mob rushed toward the boy King's sarcophagus, lamps in hand. Unfortunately, many of the appliances had insufficiently long power leads, causing several of the mob to fall over as their cables became taught. Nevertheless, the remaining members of the mob were sufficiently frightening for the 4,000 year old mummy to leap up out of his sarcophagus and make a break for the exits. "We chased the bastard all the way to the Thames," Slaney gleefully relates. "He was trapped between us and the river - he started pleading, trying to play the sympathy card: 'I'm only nineteen, I was the descendant of a heretic Pharaoh who was struck from the records - is it any wonder I went off the rails?' Ha! Bloody juvenile delinquent, as if cared about his excuses! Eventually he just sank into the mud!"

Slaney claims that she was forced into taking such extraordinary action by the legendary curse of King Tutankhamen, said to afflict anybody who gazes upon his face. "As soon as I read that they were going to reveal his face, I knew there'd be trouble," she claims. "When I finally saw it, a chill went down my spine!" She claims that she saw Tutankhamen's face peering through her bedroom window one night last week. "Those mummies are notorious peeping Toms," she says. "Although you have to admire him - it was very impressive for someone of his age to be able to climb up that drain pipe." According to Slaney, no sooner had Tutankhamen's face vanished from her window, than she found her bedroom filled with a swarm of ladybirds. "It was horrible! They were buzzing and crawling everywhere - I had to suck them up in the vacuum cleaner eventually," she recalls. "I also ran outside with the vacuum cleaner, in the hope that I might be able to catch that bastard mummy. But he was long gone." The ladybirds weren't the only manifestation of the curse, as Slaney soon discovered. "I quickly developed this migraine - it went on for days, no matter what I tried," she says. "So I decided to consult my friend, who is an expert Egyptologist. Well, he's seen a lot of mummy films. Anyway, he reckoned we needed to find the Scroll of Thoth, either that or cut off the mummy's supply of Tana leaves. Failing that, we needed to organise a mob to chase the mummy into a swamp." Slaney found it surprisingly easy to recruit a mob, through the 'Sexually Harassed by a Mummy' group on Facebook. "There's no doubt that things have improved since we drove him into the mud," muses Slaney. "My headache has gone and I won £40 playing internet poker last night. Mind you, I did lose £200 in the process..."

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

School for Swearing

One of London's most notoriously foul-mouthed denizens has revealed how he has helped many of Britain's top celebrities rise to fame through his school for swearing. "Mastering the correct use of swear words is the key to media success these days," declares Declan Fook, who is well known around the capital for standing on street corners spewing abuse. "The strategic use of a 'fuck' or 'arsehole' in an interview immediately confers a degree of street-credibility, marking the user out as 'edgy' and 'dangerous'." Fook believes that training in the use of such language is essential. "The indiscriminate and gratuitous use of swearing will have the opposite effect, and simply make the user look like an ignorant moron," he says. "Just look at Gordon Ramsey." Indeed, the filthy mouthed chef is one of Fook's rare failures. "He attended a couple of classes, but thought he knew better," recalls Fook. "You can see the sorry results on TV every week - a pitifully small vocabulary of expletives. He just keeps saying 'fuck' over and over again until becomes utterly meaningless."

Amongst Fook's successes are self-styled comedian Russell Brand, alleged film director Guy Ritchie and songstresses Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. "Before they enrolled in my classes they were all terribly well-spoken and middle class," he claims. "Nobody in the world of popular entertainment would have taken them seriously." According to Fook, Guy Ritchie posed a particular challenge. "It took hours of personal tuition to get him to stop swearing in that posh accent of his - posh swearing just doesn't have the same impact as street swearing," he muses. "Even worse, he kept falling under the swearing influence of his wife Madonna and using the much less American pronunciations - 'ass' just doesn't have the same ring as 'arse'." Fook is particularly proud of Lily Allen. "She was just a demure private-school educated middle class girl when she came to me," he says. "But we soon had her swearing like a trooper - just like her father Keith, one of my first and best students. You wouldn't believe how posh and timid he was when I first met him!"

Swearing has become an essential skill for performers who want to reach a mass audience. "It's no use going on stage in front of an audience of inebriated students in Preston and trying to crack jokes in a public school accent - they'll just tear you apart," Fook explains. "That's precisely what happened to Russell Brand when he started in the business. He tried everything to get enough street cred to survive in stand up: cocaine, booze, the lot. All in vain. Then he came to me - once he'd learned how to cuss properly, he was away!" Swearing is the secret to populist success, Fook believes, because it allows entertainers - who are predominantly middle-class - to communicate more directly with their working class audiences. "Swearing screams 'I'm a working class geezer'," he opines, rejecting allegations that he is simply perpetuating out dated social stereotypes. "The lack of vocabulary it implies encapsulates the speech patterns of the lower orders." Fook is keen to emphasise that his school for swearing isn't exclusive to celebrities. "With increasing numbers of middle class professionals 'down shifting' and switching to trades like plumbing and cab driving, we're doing good business getting them up to speed with the right vocabulary," he claims. "Customers expect their tradesmen to eff and blind liberally, not speak like accountants or stockbrokers. It undermines their ability to feel superior to them otherwise."

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Royal Hunt of the Radish

The debate over Genetically Modified (GM) foods took an unexpected new twist recently, with allegations that members of the Royal family are involved in sinister GM-related plots. It has long be known that Prince Philip and Prince Charles take differing positions on the issue of GM foods, with the Duke of Edinburgh supporting their development, whilst his son ostensibly opposes them. According to top Royal watcher Hugh Ropley-Tossington, Prince Philip’s motives for supporting GM experiments is entirely selfish. "The Prince believes that genetically modified vegetables could replace game animals for hunting purposes," Ropley-Tossington exclusively told The Sleaze recently. "Apparently he fears that he will have hunted most animal species to extinction by the year 2009. Moreover, he believes that there would be less public outrage at him blasting apart huge mobile radishes, or flying cucumbers, than there is to him hunting down small furry animals and having them torn apart by dogs."

Prince Charles is, naturally, totally opposed to the idea of developing new species of plants solely for hunting purposes. Quite apart from the ethical questions raised by GM experiments, he allegedly finds the idea of hunting vegetables barbaric, having formed close personal relationships with many of his own plants. He has become well-known for talking to the plants he raises on his estate at Highgrove and carefully nurturing them to maturity with organic fertilizers and nutrients. However, Ropley-Tossington believes that something more sinister is going on inside the greenhouses at Highgrove. He strongly suspects that the Prince, possibly assisted by noted mad gardener Alan Titchmarsh, is busy developing new strains of "super-vegetables". Using a process of selective breeding and cross-pollination it is possible that the Prince is building an army of dangerous killer-plants, loyal only to himself. There have been several reports of strange shapes being seen moving around the greenhouses at night, and several staff have gone missing after expressing too great an interest in the Prince’s horticultural activities.

Indeed, it is possible that Prince Charles has already started sending his emissaries of death out to eliminate his enemies. Ropley-Tossington points out that in September Prince Philip claimed to have been attacked by two giant carrots whilst in the grounds of Balmoral - luckily he had his shotgun to hand and dispatched the marauding radicals with both barrels. The incident was hushed up at the time, with a Palace spokesman claiming that the Prince had been working too hard and that his sedative dosage had now been increased. Ropley-Tossington believes that this was the Prince of Wales' opening move in a plot to seize the throne. "He's getting impatient, waiting for the Queen to pop her clogs or abdicate," Ropley-Tossington believes. He also believes that the Prince’s selective breeding programme displays a degree of hypocrisy. "Surely selective breeding is itself a method of genetically modifying foods?" he mused.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

The Nude Effect

I've mentioned before that I use Paint.NET to handle my images both here and at The Sleaze. It's a fine application (particularly as it is free), with many great features. I especially like the effects which can be applied to images, many of these are developed by users - there's a forum you can visit where prototype versions of new effects plug-ins are demonstrated and available for download. However, there's one effect which has never been developed there - the nude effect. What I'd really like is to be able to take a photograph of a clothed woman and be able to apply an effect to it which will produce a simulation of what they would look like naked. OK, it wouldn't be 100% accurate, things like nipple type and size would have to be largely guesswork, but it would at least give you some idea of what they'd look like starkers.

You could increase the accuracy of the nude picture by including an interface where you enter variables like height, weight, waist measurement, that sort of thing. Once you've got your basic nude picture, you could toggle various features like pubic hair style, or even nipple type. I'm convinced that if they were to develop a plug in along these lines, Paint.NET would become the killer application for male PC users. It would save us so much time - we devote so much of our intellectual capacity to trying to imagine what female friends and acquaintances might look like without any clothes on, this would do it for us. All you'd need would be a full-length photo. The advent of camera phones means that obtaining such a picture need no longer be a problem - they can be taken surreptitiously. Indeed, you can now also snatch pictures of complete strangers - that woman with the great arse walking in front of you, for instance - and digitally undress them. Trust me, this one's a winner!

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Power of Dreams

I've mentioned before how much I enjoy dreaming. I especially like that state between fully waking and sleep, as you drift in and out of consciousness, in and out of dreams. Dreams are often at their most vivid during this time. Sometimes they're so vivid that they linger like a real memory. I remember that I once dreamt that Burt Reynolds had been drinking in my local. When I woke up I could remember every detail - what he'd been wearing, the exact spot he'd been standing at the bar, what he'd been drinking, what we'd talked about. For a few minutes I thought that it had actually happened. Then I came to my senses - what the hell would a Hollywood star (even Burt Reynolds) be doing in a back street pub in my town? Nevertheless, I still felt disappointed.

Most frustrating are those dreams you can't quite remember. However, some feeling stirred by them often lingers at the periphery of your consciousness after you wake up. It's like an itch you can't scratch. I remember that I once woke up feeling an incredible sense of loss, as if something wonderfully precious had slipped out of my life. But for the life of me, I couldn't recall anything of the dream which had caused this feeling. I suspect it was about a lost love, a common theme of the dreams I do remember, probably to do with one of the times I let the chance of a relationship with someone I cared deeply about slip through my fingers. Another time, I woke up crying. Again, I remember nothing of the dream behind the tears. Perhaps it was another of those lost loves. Perhaps my subconscious mind could accept that one particular relationship was never going to be, whereas my waking self persists in vainly hoping that it can happen. Who knows?

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Holy Terror

Here's a question for you - what does the Catholic church have in common with Al Qaeda? Apart from the fact that they are both organisations representing hard line religious fundamentalists. Or the fact that they're both led by fanatics. Actually that last bit might be a trifle unfair. After all, Pope Benedict was only a member of the Hitler Youth, which, as we all know (or, at least, have been told by the Vatican's propagandists), was simply like the Boy Scouts. Mind you, I don't ever remember the Scouts having an achievement badge for genocide. Or shopping your parents to the Gestapo for being ideologically unsound. There is also no truth to the story that Osama bin Laden's most prized possession is a signed photograph of Pope John Paul II, or that a naked photo of Osama was found amongst the late John Paul's effects after his death. (Obviously, all of Osama's rude bits were covered by his artfully arranged beard - he wouldn't have wanted to shock the Pope, after all. Just titillate him a bit).

No, the correct answer is that both Catholic priests and Al Qeada agents pose a threat to the UK's children. If we're to believe the head of Britain's Security Service, Al Qeada is busy corrupting our disaffected youth. Quite how they do this unclear. Perhaps they cruise past schools, wearing dirty raincoats as they try to tempt young children into their 'terror-mobiles' (actually a 1988 Vauxhall Carlton), rustling paper bags full of goodies under their impressionable young noses - "Want a hand grenade, little boy?" Apparently they are also using chatrooms to 'groom' young people. Again, quite how you 'groom' anyone into involvement in terrorism isn't entirely clear. Maybe the terrorists start by praising the kids' physiques ("What fine strong shoulders you have - ideal for carrying explosives"), before making suggestions for self-improvement ("A huge beard would make you seem so much more masculine - you'll so easily be pulling all the virgins in Paradise"). Next thing these kids know, they'll find themselves blowing up a branch of McDonald's ("The unholy symbol of American imperialism"). Still, it's probably better than having your balls fondled by a pervy priest...

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Fireworks Night

Ah, it's that time of year again when children can legally buy explosive devices over the counter at supermarkets. Of course, I believe that there should be greater restrictions on the sale of fireworks - children under the age of eighteen clearly can't be trusted to use them responsibly and they should only be sold to adults like me. I can devise far more inventive irresponsible uses for them than any child possibly could. Actually, I must admit that this year - despite many tempting offers in local shops - I've refrained from buying any fireworks. I thought that after last year it might be a good idea to keep a low profile - I don't think I could face another court case. Honestly, some people have no sense of humour when comes to rockets in their exhaust pipes...

All of which begs the question - are there any legitimate targets for fireworks? The possibility which immediately springs to mind is the Roman Catholic church. After all, Guy Fawkes Night is, at heart, an anti-Catholic celebration. We burn an effigy of a Catholic terrorist who tried to blow up parliament and assassinate the government as part of a Papist plot. Consequently, I think that Catholic churches should be fair game for firework attacks. I think that anyone caught firing rockets through their stained glass windows, or nailing Catherine Wheels to their doors, or even letting off bangers in the font and panicking the nuns, should be exempt from prosecution, just so long as they do it on 5th November. Obviously, if they do it any other time of year, they're just vandals.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Rogue Reporters

The past few days Channel Five have been relentlessly plugging Street Crime Live, with Donal MacIntyre. I'm still not entirely clear exactly what this programme is actually about - is that most macho of investigative reporters Donal MacIntyre (he who has endured death threats from all those criminals he has supposedly put behind bars), going out on the streets committing crimes himself? Who knows? Who cares? MacIntyre can't hold a candle to real investigative reporters, like Roger Cook. I mean, Cook didn't just get death threats - people actually beat him up. On television. Hell, it was the only thing which made The Cook Report watchable. Every week you know you could tune in and see some fat bastard having seven tons of crap beaten out of them.

That said, I think the time is ripe for a new type of consumer programme. Instead of errant service providers being dragged onto Watchdog to be brow beaten by Nicky Campbell, perhaps the intrepid TV investigator could go round and firebomb their head office. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of seeing some programme exposing, say, shoddy builders who rip off people by building them sub-standard patios, only for it to conclude with the reporter telling us that, after all that undercover work with hidden cameras and disguises, that the villain has been told off by trading standards - but has set up under a new name. I don't want justice, I want retribution. Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not talking about abducting over charging electricians, torturing them and dumping their bodies in a cess pit. That would be a bit extreme. No, just tracking them down to their houses, knocking on the door and smacking them in the face when they answer it, would be sufficient. All live on camera, of course. Even better, when they catch them on camera in one of those 'sting' operations, where the presenter dresses up as a little old lady, or something, when they expose the miscreants, the entire film crew could kick the shit out of them.

However, I couldn't really see the likes of Roger Cook or Donal MacIntyre fronting this sort of programme. Or even Nicky Campbell, for that matter. Esther Rantzen, maybe. Personally, though, my choice would be actor, documentarist and general twat about town Keith Allen. I've already written about how his handling of the despicable Westboro Baptists impressed me - he basically spent an hour spewing abuse at them. The same approach could work with rogue builders, crappy service providers and the like. Every week Keith Allen and a length of lead piping could respond to viewers' complaints by tracking the miscreants down and beating them up. All the while attempting to avoid the Child Support Agency as it tries to get him to pay maintenance to the mothers of his various illegitimate children...

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