Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tony's New Job

Yes folks, it is another one of my crappy cartoons. You'd better get used to 'em, as I'm determined to keep on plugging away until I get it right!

I must apologise for the image quality, but blogger seems to have a limit on the maximum dimensions of any picture included in a post. At some point I might set up a page over on The Sleaze to host these strips in their full glory!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

End of an Era

Well, he's gone at last. Tony Blair is once again just another backbench MP, whilst Gordon Brown settles into Ten Downing Street as the new Prime Minister. When all is said and done, have the last ten years of Blairism really been that bad? The problem is that, for their latter half, they have been overshadowed by the War in Iraq, the so-called 'War on Terror' and non-scandals like the cash-for-honours nonsense. A lot of Blair's problems stemmed from his desire to try and move the Labour party away from its traditional roots and support, and his tendency to replace ideology with religious conviction as a guiding principle. However, whilst I vehemently opposed the War in Iraq, ID cards and attempts to restrict civil liberties, I can't forget the positive aspects of his time in office: increases in NHS spending, the extension of equal rights for minority groups, the Freedom of Information Act and the Human Rights Act, to name but a few. These latter two, whilst never entirely embraced by Blair, were highly unlikely to have been introduced by a Tory government.

On an entirely personal level, the passing of the Blair administration marks another brutal reminder of the passing of the years. You see, I was on Downing Street on the day he took office, I heard his speech, I didn't quite manage to shake hands with him. I find it hard to believe that all that euphoria, hope and optimism was ten years ago now! Actually, whilst on the subject of that day, I feel I need to set the record straight, Once again today I heard a TV reporter asserting that it was all stage managed, that everybody there was a party employee and that those flags were handed out by officials. Completely untrue. Like just about everybody else there that day, I was just a member of the public who'd gone to Downing Street out of curiosity during their lunch hour (I was working in Whitehall at the time). As the new PM's arrival became imminent, the public were actually allowed onto Downing Street, I was one of the lucky ones who managed to squeeze through the gates before it filled up. The people who were waving flags, well they already had them before the gates were opened. Believe me, it was all spontaneous. I know that cynical political hacks find that hard to believe and want to rewrite history to reflect their own prejudices, but, unlike them, I was there. I know what really happened. For once in my life, I was a witness to history.

I was sad to see that today the public weren't allowed onto Downing Street when Brown arrived. I know that, in part, this is down to security concerns and, in part, is doubtless part of Brown's lower-key approach to the job. But I still think it was a pity that only the press and their soul-less cameras were there to witness history today.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Human Rights...and Wrongs

What terrible abuses of human rights are occurring daily in our country. No, I'm not talking about the detention of terror suspects without charge, the spread of surveillance or the attempt to force identity cards upon us. This is much worse - schoolchildren are being prevented from wearing jewellery to school. Jesus! What an appalling breach of their rights! Over the past week or so, the attempts of schoolgirl's father to prove that his daughter is having her human rights impinged by her school's refusal to allow her to wear a ring symbolising her commitment to some Christian chastity covenant - in line with its policy on school uniform - seems to have occupied more column inches than any of the former issues I mentioned. Apparently, by refusing to let her wear the ring, the school is infringing the girl's right to religious freedom. Actually, it isn't. Whilst the much-maligned Human Rights Act 1998 does indeed guarantee such things as freedom of expression and religious worship, the school isn't actually preventing her from following her commitment to chastity. If it was forcing her to have sex, it might be. However, all that it is doing is saying that she can't wear a ring.

It's cases like this which help bring the Human Rights Act into disrepute and provide its enemies with ammunition. It trivialises the whole issue of human rights. It is also one of those cases which is frequently seized upon by the right to 'prove' that Christians are somehow discriminated against, whilst those of other faiths are given preferential treatment. I recall that last year a similar case in which a British Airways worker tried to claim discrimination because company policy on jewellery meant she couldn't openly display the gold cross she wore around her neck on a chain, at work, got a lot of publicity. Again, nobody was preventing her from following her faith. The company wasn't refusing to employ her because of her religion. Of course, the lie to the idea of discrimination against Christians is given by another case, in which a court ruled that a school did have the right to enforce its dress policy against a Muslim girl pupil and say that she couldn't wear traditional Islamic dress in school. Frankly, I get sick of all these religious nuts shoving their faith down my throat with their public displays of devotion to their deities. Look, I don't care if you are a devout Christian/Muslim/Jew/Hindu or whatever. That's your personal business. Indeed, the last time I looked, faith was meant to be a matter of personal conviction. You don't have to boast about it to the world. You know, I've got myself so worked up over this, I think that I'm going to launch my own court case, to establish my right not to have my lack of faith infringed by all these whackos flashing their crucifixes, hijabs and whatever at me...

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Ever Seen a Comic Strip? (Only in a Turkish Bath..)

Something a bit different today - my first effort at a comic strip, courtesy of Stripgenerator. This is a utility I'd recommend to all of you out there who - like me - are artistically challenged. The strip is basically a visual representation of a much, much earlier post, and has been enhanced slightly using paint.NET.

I'm working on a few others, which will, doubtless, appear here in due course. I've long harboured an ambition to run strips in The Sleaze, but I've never been able to persuade anyone with sufficient artistic talent to take the job on. So, I've decided to do it myself! Hopefully the quality will improve!

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cultural Imperialism

It's that time of year again, when hordes of people descend on Glastonbury for the semi-annual mudfest. This also means that we have to endure those bloody insulting TV trails for the BBC's coverage of the festival. You know the ones I mean - they feature local people, mainly middle class and middle aged going on about how the music all sounds the same from a distance, etc. Basically implying that anyone who dares offer the opinion that much modern music is shit must be an un-hip old fuddy duddy. However, the most offensive of these trails is the one they show most frequently - the one with the bloke with the thick Somerset accent going on about how "I went in back o'car" once as the result of seeing a young woman festival goer "she were topless". If this guy was being used as a representative of any group other than rural farm workers, the BBC would be accused of racial stereotyping. They seem to have gone out of their way to find the most inbred-looking yokel, with the thickest accent the could find, brandishing a glass of cider as he remonstrates about "you shouldn't do that alongside a main road". The clear subtext here is that those of us who live outside of Britain's sophisticated urban areas - principally London - are just a bunch of degenerate carrot crunchers who just can't appreciate the bohemian culture of the metropolis. Hell, we haven't even seen a topless woman before (outside page three of The Sun, obviously)! But don't worry, those nice people at the BBC are bringing us their culture in the form of Glastonbury.

There can be only one response to this: "Fuck off you pretentious ponces!" If your idea of 'culture' is spending several days wallowing in mud, shitting in holes and listening to a load of dance music, with a smattering of has-been rock 'legends', you can keep it! As for topless women, out here in the provinces, we've had fully naked women dancing around huge wicker penises, in which we burn virginal big city intruders as part of our fertility rites, for centuries now! Don't bloody come down here in your Chelsea tractors patronising us! If we're really lucky, maybe a bunch of zombie druids on their way back from the midsummer festivities at Stonehenge will descend on the Glastonbury revellers, tearing them limb from limb for no obvious reason, much in the manner of the Blind Dead Templars in those 1970s Spanish horror films. Even better, perhaps a horde of crazed local 'yokels' - foaming at the mouth after being fed rabies-infected pies by hippie festival goers as 'a joke' - will invade the festival site and pitchfork them all to death. There's the basis for a great low-budget British horror flick there. Having said that, they'd inevitably balls it up by assigning some middle class ponce as director. Anyway, getting back to the point - isn't it about time they canned those trails? I know the BBC would claim that they are merely 'ironic', but that really isn't a defence for what amounts to very offensive regional stereotyping, not to mention cultural imperialism by the middle class London media elite. Fuck off you bastards, before I set my bull on you.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ladies' Day

Apparently it was Ladies' Day today as Royal Ascot. Not being part of the social set who attend such things, I really don't know much about it beyond the fact that it involves lots of women wearing incredibly silly hats. What is with those bloody hats, eh? Surely they can't be intended as serious fashion statements? They're all hideous - usually coloured livid purple or piss green. Either they are shaped to represent things like cigarettes (possibly a 'witty' protest at the looming ban on smoking in public places), horses heads, or else appear to repositories for the left overs from a green grocer's stall, or a feather duster. Why not go the whole hog and wear a gigantic representation of a dog turd on your head? Or even a giant penis, with the scrotum forming the brim? You can just imagine the sycophantic TV commentators as the Queen arrives, describing, in hushed tones, how "Her Majesty is this year sporting an arse on her head, the hairs adorning the cheeks are believed to be derived from the whiskers of the near-extinct clouded leopard". It could also spice up the bookies' annual attempts to predict what colour hat the Queen is going to wear on Ladies' Day. Instead, they could offer odds on whether she's going to be wearing an arse, a vagina or a horse's cock (with side bets on erect or flaccid) on her head.

Isn't it about time they reformed this institution? I mean, in this enlightened age, the term Ladies' Day should surely imply a day of the race meet when the emancipation of women should be celebrated. What better venue than a race course, bearing in mind the number of suffragettes who hurled themselves beneath the hooves of race horses? In fact, rather than wearing bloody stupid hats, perhaps some of these society women should show a bit of solidarity with their sisters and throw themselves under a horse? As it stands, Ladies' Day represents another vain attempt to reassert the old social order in Britain. The great, the good, the wannabees, the has beens, etc., all get a chance to raise their profile by fawning around the Queen in top hats and ludicrous dresses. Those nasty lower orders are effectively excluded because none of them are likely to own a top hat, and women are patronisingly given their own 'day' when they get to show off the things that obviously matter most to them - their hats. God give me strength! That bloody revolution can't come soon enough!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Local TV Is Still Hell

The other day my local TV news programme had the local news story to end all local news stories: coach hit by steam train on level crossing. How esoteric is that, eh? It sums up how regional TV seems always to be living forty-odd years in the past! Mind you, there's no denying that this story had it all: school children were involved (although, disappointingly, they weren't in the coach, but on the train); a rural unmanned level crossing (a favourite rallying point for local campaigns aimed at preserving the gene pool of people too stupid to be allowed behind the wheel of a car); and, of course, a steam locomotive. In a truly bizarre coda to the story, the on-the-scene reported assured all of us worried viewers at home that "the steam locomotive involved isn't the same one featured in our title sequence"! Well, thank God for that then!

Mind you, when all is said and done, this programme is still superior to its ITV equivalent. The other week that programme had a really sensationalised piece of reporting that you'd only find in a tabloid, or on local TV. Once again, it had it all. It had a public interest pretext, ostensibly being about a pensioner being told that the local NHS Trust had decided that it couldn't afford to fund a drug treatment he needed to prevent a deterioration in his sight. Now, any real news organisation would have developed the story as an interrogation of NHS spending policies and priorities, whether the needs of individual patients should be subsumed to those of the majority merely on grounds of cost, etc. But this was local TV. So, we instead were treated to entirely intrusive and gratuitous scenes of the gentleman receiving the phone call from the trust live, and his response to them of "you'd rather see me go blind then". As if this wasn't bad enough, they turned the screws even further in order to elicit the emotional response from the audience, by telling us that his wife was disabled and that if he lost his sight, he'd no longer be able to care for her. Cue tear-jerking interview with said wife.

By this time all opportunities for a serious piece on social health provision had been missed. But what the hell - who needs serious journalism when you can tug at the heart strings instead, eh? That's local TV in the twenty first century folks!


Monday, June 18, 2007

Doc Sleaze is Unwell (Again)

All I seem to do these days is make posts about the state of my health. Having seen off the tooth infection (the offending molar is due to be removed tomorrow) and suffered the consequent stomach upsets which resulted from the antibiotics, I woke up this morning to find the right hand side of my lower back gripped by indescribable pain. This was agony of an order I've never experienced before, and nothing seemed to shift it. The situation was made worse by the doctor's surgery I registered with some thirteen years ago (but haven't had cause to visit for over ten years) denying any knowledge of me as a patient. They (and every other surgery) refused to see me on 'legal grounds', until I could tell them who I was registered with! All through this farce (conducted over the phone) I was wracked with pain and sweating bucket loads. In desperation I called NHS Direct, where one f their nurses advised me that my symptoms sounded like a kidney infection or stone, and that I should see a doctor as soon as possible! After explaining my predicament, she said that the surgeries were talking nonsense and of course they could see me on an emergency basis and worry about the records later. I relayed this information to one of the surgeries involved and they reluctantly agreed to see me - but only if I came to them, regardless of my pain levels!

Luckily, the pain killers I'd earlier taken began to kick in in and, as the appointment approached, the pain faded away. I was eventually seen by a nurse practitioner rather than a doctor (although, frankly, she seemed far more sympathetic and better informed than most GPs I've ever encountered). After an examination and urine sample, she pretty much confirmed the phone diagnosis, that it was most probably a kidney stone, and that it should pass through my system over the next few days. In the meantime, if the pain returned I should take the pain killers, if it got worse I was to see a doctor immediately and I should drink lots of liquids to help flush it through my system. They were also going to do more tests on my urine (lucky them) and, if they found anything else wrong, they'd let me know when they were complete in a few days. Very reassuring. So there you are, dosed up on ibuprofen and waiting to piss a stone away! What a life! I've never known such a run of ill health - this is the first sick day I've taken from work since 1990! When the late Jeffrey Bernard said he was 'unwell', he generally meant that he was pissed. If only!


Saturday, June 16, 2007


So, they released Michael Barrymore after questioning him again about the murder of Stuart Lubbock. If only they'd pulled him in for crimes against entertainment. They'd have had him bang to rights on that charge. Indeed, I would have looked forward to him standing trial for that - I might have at last learned exactly what it is that Barrymore does which can be considered 'entertaining'? From what I can remember of his TV appearances, he simply used to present game shows during which he jumped around the set shout "Awright?" at contestants and audience alike, all of whom would collapse into fits of hysterics. I can only charitably assume that they used to empty the local psychiatric wards to provide audiences for those programmes. Actually, as I recall, a lot of his 'fans' seemed to be quite elderly and were probably not sure where they were anyway. The laughing was probably of the nervous variety, designed to cover up the fact that they were confused and probably incontinent. Still, if he had gone to trial (for either murder or crimes against entertainment), his lawyers could probably have got him off by ensuring the jury was packed full of OAPs.

Of course, I must emphasise here that Michael Barrymore hasn't actually been convicted of any crime. Indeed, it hasn't even been established that a crime, or even anything untoward, actually occurred at his house six years ago. I mean, who hasn't woken up the morning after a wild party to find a dead gay butcher floating in our swimming pool? It's all reminiscent of the infamous 'wild party' in the 1920s, which wrecked the career of silent comedian Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle. There a dead girl was found in the bedroom, with all sorts of rumours circulating that her internal injuries were the result of having been sexually assaulted with bottle, or even by the gargantuan Arbuckle crushing her during frenzied sex. He was never charged with her murder, though. If you substitute 'giant knock wurst' for 'bottle', it could be the Barrymore case. Mind you, the tragedy of a young man losing his life aside, the fact that the victim was a butcher and Barrymore recently 'out' as gay provided all sorts of comedic opportunities. Did he regularly supply Barrymore with a lovely piece of blue veined steak, one wonders? Or even deliver some hambone to Barrymore's back door? Stillif, Barrymore was ever to go down on a tubesteak, no, sorry, for murder or some other crime (not that he's been charged with anything, obviously), would we see a Paris Hilton-style fan campaign to have him freed? Imagine that, thousands of addled pensioners and psychiatric patients petitioning the Home Secretary. There's a thought.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bondage Beach

As you all know, I occasionally like to review the odd DVD or book that I've recently seen or read. Well, a very odd DVD recently came my way - Bondage Beach. A bizarre piece of low budget Brit exploitation from the not so swinging seventies, I think this one deserves a wider audience. An attempt to parody the Beach Party films of the 1960s, Bondage Beach comes off surprisingly well, replicating the cheap and cheerful feel of the originals. Thankfully, however, it doesn’t feature beach movie veterans Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Purporting to be set in California, but actually shot on a Norfolk beach in March, the film concerns the attempts of various rival factions to win the local heat of the Romantic Restraint Monthly bondage contest. Local black-leather bondage biker gang-leader Erich Von Manacle (portrayed by Harley Limpdick in his only starring role), thinks that he is the favourite to win with his bike-chain based ties, believing that his perennial rival, surfer dude Jake Pegg (Mack Puma) is out of the running. Pegg's lost his confidence following the unfortunate demise of his girlfriend and model in the previous year’s heat. We see in flashback how Pegg had looked set to win with an amazing display of strapping which had secured his girl to his surfboard. However, he had tried to take it a stage too far when he had tried to ride the surf with her still attached to the board. Most of the film’s action follows the attempts of Von Manacle and Pegg to secure (no pun intended) the services of new girl on the beach Minnie Mink (Luanna Zaftig) as a model for the contest.

As with the original beach party movies, Bondage Beach features a multitude of cameos from minor celebrities and fading stars. Watch out for the judge in the climactic contest, she’s played by Jenna Bender who actually was the editor of Romantic Restraint Monthly at the time. You might also recognise popular porn performer Howard "Donkey Dong" Curtis as the flasher (he also had an uncredited bit in Hockey Girls' Holiday), and the old beach bum with his knob stuck in a beer can is played by the gay one from "Rod, Jane and Freddie". Keep watching right to the end and you’ll see that the peeping-tom vicar who is unmasked as a Nazi war criminal is none other than the late Arthur Askey.

Naturally, Mink eventually chooses to be Pegg's model (despite her reservations after hearing of the fate of her predecessor), Von Manacle kidnaps her in retaliation and straps her to a Harley-Davison frame in preparation for the contest. After much running around Mink is rescued by a troop of sky-diving nuns and is returned to Pegg. However, Pegg finds that Von Manacle has stolen his bondage equipment! The biker looks set to win the contest, aided by professional bondage model Loretta Blick (playing herself), and executes an amazing series of cross ties and suspensions! After dripping hot engine oil on Blick's breasts, he performs his piece de resistance - a variation on the popular " water torture" set-up using a fan-belt and petrol can. Pegg quickly improvises using mouse-traps and bulldog clips instead of nipple and pussy clamps, and astounds the judge with his inventive use of life-line and belt to strap Mink to his surfboard. Finally, Pegg performs again the feat which cost his previous girlfriend her life. This time the ping pong ball does not get jammed in the snorkel and Mink survives. Pegg is declared the winner and, after a brief struggle, Von Manacle gets his dick trapped in a mouse-trap (cue jokes about it being bated with knob cheese...).

Whilst reasonably successful, Bondage Beach never spawned a series - which was clearly the hope of producers Gamahuche. As a one-off it remains entertaining and this video release will probably provide inspiration for many home bondage enthusiasts. As a point of interest, Harley Limpdick insisted on performing the mouse-trap stunt himself. Unfortunately, his organ became gangrenous as a result and, although he recovered, it was so badly disfigured that he never performed on screen again.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Last of The Romantics?

Don't you just love those one-line episode synopses they give for the soaps in the Radio Times? There must be an art to it - the way in which they intrigue and titillate the casual reader. Take the one for yesterday's episode of Eastenders, for instance: "Bradley tries to win back Stacey with a bag of chips and a film". The images that evokes! Just what was he going to do with those chips? Still, on the basis of that synopsis, there's no doubt that Bradley is a pretty smooth operator when it comes to the ladies. A man after my own heart, actually. In my experience, all the flowers, restaurants and jewellery in the world, are no match for a portion of chips when it comes to capturing a lady's heart. In fact, you can tell a great deal from what it is they want to put on the chips. Soy sauce might indicate that they are some kind of eco-warrior, whilst curry sauce hints at fiery tempers, lager swilling and throwing up in the gutter. Maybe even a bit of a slapper (as they say in Eastenders). Mayonnaise on chips is a sure sign of the kind of weirdo to be avoided at all costs. Before you know it, she'll be boiling people's heads up in a saucepan. No, I'm a straightforward salt and vinegar man myself, when it comes to chips. If the lady in question opts for the same, I know I've found a soul mate.

The tricky bit, obviously, is the choice of film. A knocked off DVD of The Opening of Misty Beethoven is going to send the wrong message entirely. If you really must indulge in porn, at least try and go for something like Last Tango in Paris, which you can always pass of as an 'art movie', thereby implying a degree of sophistication on your part. But whatever you do, avoid Nine and a Half Weeks, it is guaranteed to bore both of you to death. Personally, I don't believe that you can beat a good old slice of 1980s zombie cannibal gut gruncher. They have the advantage of being relatively brief - rarely much over eighty minutes - and are ludicrous enough to be able to pass off as being 'ironic' once again implying a degree of sophistication for yourself. The post-modern fascination and occasional acclaim for such pieces of popular culture can make you seem intellectual, without appearing pretentious. (The use of a true art house move, typically three hours of bum-numbing costume drama or social realism, with subtitles, would have the opposite effect). A good alternative to the Italian zombie movie, if you want to appear a bit classier, would be any of Hammer's gothic horrors from the 1950s or 1960s. I ask you, what could be more romantic than the sight of Hazel Court's heaving bosoms as Peter Cushing leers at her in The Curse of Frankenstein? A word of caution here - try and avoid Hammer's post-1970 output which places far more emphasis on lesbian vampires. These are solitary pleasures.

So, there you have it; my fail-safe guide to wooing the modern woman. As I didn't actually see Monday's Eastenders, I haven't a clue if this worked for Bradley. But rest assured, so long as he followed my advice, he'll have won her heart for sure!

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Monday, June 11, 2007


Yes indeed, folks, I really must apologize for the lack of new posting both here and at The Sleaze. Much of this lack of activity is due to my toothache, part of it also down to British Telecom and their woefully inadequate customer service. The latter meant that an engineer didn't come out to me until Saturday, twelve days after they were meant to transfer the number over from my cable operator. Twelve days without a bloody phone! Anyway, this meant that - as they won't give specific appointment times, I had to get up at 8am on a Saturday (whilst still exhausted from my toothache and the side effects of the antibiotics I was taking) and try and stay awake until he called. To cut a long story short, he arrive just after nine and had it all sorted in just over an hour. Like an idiot, I didn't go back to bed, but stayed up, resulting in me falling asleep during the afternoon, before eventually going to bed early - having been too knackered to either work on another story for the main site, or post here.

As I mentioned before, the antibiotics I was taking for my infected tooth were also taking their toll. Now, I don't usually suffer side effects from such things. This time, however, I suffered an upset stomach for twenty four hours. I was finally back 'on solids' by Saturday evening. I also have a bad habit of making myself paranoid by reading those bloody leaflets they issue with drugs these days - the one's which list all the possible side effects and the symptoms you should be looking out for. With this particular medication, I was warned by the leaflet to seek immediate medical attention if i noticed my urine darkening. Of course, after twenty four hours of taking the antibiotics, I convinced myself that my urine was now darker than it had been the day before. A tense period of me checking the colour of successive batches of urine followed, ending only when I determined that it had now lightened and was back to normal. It was whilst carrying out this last comparison that I was struck by one of those revelatory moments. It suddenly occur ed to me that to anyone entering the house at that time, I'd seem like one of those sad individuals you see in TV documentaries - peeing into plastic bottles and holding them up to the light to see what colour my piss was.

Of course, the whole bloody thing was ridiculous. What do they mean by darkened when it comes to urine? Compared to what? Is there a colour chart? Like just about every person on this planet, my urine varies considerably in colour according to what I've been drinking. Some beers turn it dark, whereas drinking lots of water tends to send it virtually transparent. Indeed, according to a friend of mine, drinking too much cider turns your urine orange. Mind you, that's probably just her. She's weird. She goes around telling people what colour her urine is without prior provocation. Getting back to the point, they really should be a bit more specific about such things in those leaflets. It would save the likes of me wasting time examining their own piss rather than writing new stories...


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Boozed Up Britain

OK, let's get my dental problems out of the way. I saw the dentist today and he confirmed my suspicions that I've got an infected tooth. The good news is that he's put me on a course of antibiotics and the infection is already clearing up, resulting in a vast reduction in pain levels. The bad news is that the tooth is too far gone to be saved and, once the infection has gone, will have to be extracted. Not something I'm looking forward to, but it has to be done. I'm not saying I've got a phobia about dentists, but I had a very bad experience with a previous local practice (which resulted in the damage which allowed this tooth to become infected). Plus, when I was a kid, they still used gas as an anaesthetic for extractions, and I once had a 'bad trip' when under its influence. On top of all that, Doc Holliday was a dentist, and it has always disturbed me that the skills required for dentistry could so easily be transferred to gun fighting. According to Western legend, Doc had already killed nineteen men before he took part in the Gunfight at the OK Corral. What they don't mention is that he killed them in the dentist's chair...

Anyway, I seem to have strayed away from the topic I actually wanted to discuss here: alcohol abuse. Or, more accurately, government campaigns against alcohol abuse. Whilst reducing such abuse is truly a noble cause, the authorities really are going about it in a half arsed way. Take this latest proposal to label alcohol containers so as to make it easier to ascertain their alcohol content in terms of your safe weekly consumption of units. All that is going to do is make the situation worse. The habitual alcohol abuser actively seeks out the strongest beers and spirits. Why make it even easier for them to identify which brand is going to bet them most smashed, quickest? Also, it's no good adopting this nannying position and tut tutting to them over how much damage they're doing their bodies - they know they are doing themselves damage and don't care! Binge drinkers do it because they enjoy it. What got me really enraged over these proposals was hearing some recovering alcoholic on the radio praising the scheme and patronisingly telling us all about the evils of booze. We know about that already! Now, normally I have great admiration for people who have tackled their demons and managed to stay clean. It isn't easy. But this guy really pissed me off. I found myself ranting at the radio: "Just because you can't bloody handle your drink, don't assume the rest of us are just as weak willed! I know when I've had enough!" But, of course, many people don't seem to know when they've had enough.

But what alternatives are there to combat alcohol abuse? There's always that old fall back of educating people from an early age on safe drinking. But let's face it, do you really think teenagers will buy that message when they see their elders and 'betters' busy going down the pub and getting completely legless every night? What really needs to be done is address the whole drinking culture that has grown up in this country, encouraged by the tabloids, TV and magazine. When I started drinking it was see as a primarily social activity. Getting drunk was an occasional side product. Nowadays the whole point seems simply to get drunk as quickly as possible. Which explains the rise in popularity of crap, but strong, lagers. For my generation (God, I'm sounding like a right old git), beer was drunk for pleasure, emphasising qualities such as taste. Alcohol content was of secondary importance. Nowadays, it is all that matters. Maybe that's what they should do - ban draught lagers from pubs! If nothing else, it might discourage the piss head elements who currently blight lounge bars up and down the country.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Once again all my plans for posting have had to be put on hold - this time because of my raging toothache. It really is bloody agony! I can barely sleep, I can't concentrate on anything - it's just a nightmare! I'm afraid that most over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen, just don't work for me. Icepacks and using diluted TCP as mouthwash have been more effective. Anyway, I'm seeing a dentist tomorrow, so hopefully it can be sorted out in the next few days. Mind you, just finding a dentist willing to see me was a real challenge. The NHS dentist I tried told me that although they were registering new patients, they couldn't offer me an appointment until October, even after I'd told them it was urgent! Jesus Christ! So, I swallowed my principles and went to a private practice who could see me within 24 hours. It'll cost me an arm and a leg, but if it stops this pain, it will be worth every penny!

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Indecent Exposure

Apparently the American naturist movement is finding it difficult to recruit new young members. At least, according to The Guardian the other week, that is. I'm really not surprised. Let's be honest here, most of us, when we're young, only ever contemplate going to nudist beaches and colonies in the hope of glimpsing some fit birds in the buff. But, of course, it never happens. Such places turn out to be populated by middle aged exhibitionists unwittingly proving why the average human body is best kept covered up (mine included). The fact is that nowadays the young (and the not-so young) can see a plethora of beautiful naked bodies, well, just about anywhere. Just turn on the telly after the watershed and pick a channel at random. Newspapers are full of them - in the tabloids it is good honest page three smut, whilst the broadsheets hide behind the excuse of 'art' to justify showing naked women. Ultimately, there's little difference. Then there's the internet. Ah, the internet! The home of free pornography - delivered direct to your own home without the embarrassment of having to buy mucky magazines from some middle aged cashier who looks like your Auntie Joan, in W H Smiths.

My favourite bit of the Guardian article is where the naturists claim that if everyone is naked, then the sexual titillation angle is eliminated. Really? That's why most pornography features naked people, often in multiple, is it? But of course, the observer is probably fully clothed, which is what's making it sexy. Actually, the average porn user is probably only half clothed - their trousers and underpants are usually around their ankles. (Not that I speak from experience here, of course). The bottom line is that, in my opinion, naturism is simply impractical. We are just not designed to be walking around in the wild stark naked. I can't speak for the ladies here, but from a male perspective, it is difficult to think of anything more painful than getting your bollocks entangled in a bramble bush, or your scrotum stung by wasp, or your todger sunburned. Why the hell do you think that mankind started wearing clothes? From prehistory onwards, we've sought to protect our vulnerable bits with animal fur, cloth, armour or whatever. Quite apart from the protective aspect, in large parts of the world, the weather makes it impractical to be a nudist. Are the naturists really asking me to believe that they don't don wellington boots and raincoats when it rains? Do they stand around turning blue and withering in the winter snow? Of course not! Indoor nudism is about as far as you can go in this country. Indeed, if these people want to take their clothes off and wander around naked in the privacy of their own homes, that's fine by me. Just don't go around thrusting your naked genitals in my face when I'm strolling down the beach!


Friday, June 01, 2007

Was It Forty Years Ago Today..?

I wonder how many blog entries have got some variation of that for a title today? Sorry to be unoriginal, but I've had a very trying day, coming at the tail end of a very trying week. But getting back to the point - 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. Was it really forty years ago that it was released? It doesn't seem possible. I'm afraid that I can't offer any erudite insights into the album, instead, all I can offer is a personal reminiscence. I know that for many people this is an iconic album which represents a turning point in popular music, which is true. But for me, 'Sgt Pepper', along the preceding 'Strawberry Fields'/'Penny Lane' double A-side, represent my earliest musical memories. I was very young when my sister - an ardent Beatles fan to this day - bought these records when they were released. It seems to me, over the distance of memory, that she played them incessantly. That probably isn't true. Nevertheless, they were burned into my memory, became part of the soundtrack of my childhood and helped form my ideas of what popular music should be like. As regular readers both here and over at The Sleaze will know, The Beatles still exert a powerful fascination for me - they have become embedded, not just in my psyche, but popular culture, and have gained a mythic status in the process.

Like all myths, they have become open to interpretation, not just their lyrics and music, but the individuals themselves and their lives. The most extreme form of this reinterpretation has been the whole 'Paul is Dead' urban myth - something else which regular readers will know fascinates me. This has seen an obsessive poring over everything connected with the Fab Four in an attempt to 'prove' that Paul died in 1966 and was replaced by a double. As I've noted elsewhere in this blog, some of these obsessives have taken this to crazy extremes, extrapolating from Paul's supposed replacement that just about every famous person you've ever heard of has been replaced. All this from that one album. Because, after all, it was such a radical change from the Beatles' previous image and music, it had to be significant of something hadn't it? Of course, such an attitude reveals a profound ignorance of the very thing these people claim to be a fan of. Anyone who knows The Beatles knows that 'Sgt Pepper' was the culmination of their musical development. Two previous albums - 'Rubber Soul' and 'Revolver' - were clearly already moving in the direction of 'Sgt Pepper'. There was no radical shift in musical direction, just a musical evolution. But such is the stuff of myth - the facts get obscured in the mists of time. Well, I've rambled on for long enough. Really, all I wanted to say was that it seems incredible that something which is now a cherished childhood memory to me, happened so long ago.

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