Friday, January 29, 2010

A Little Local Difficulty

As January draws to a close, I at last have something to celebrate. More than few times in these hallowed pages I've mentioned the terrible fate that befell my one-time local pub, namely that it fell into the hands of a twat who succeeded in alienating all of the regulars and turned it into a dive. Having barred myself from the place a couple of years ago, I've led a life of nomadic exile, shambling from pub to pub, trying to find somewhere I feel comfortable. Having finally settled into a new drinking home, I have now learned that the proprietor of my old local - let's call him Deke, not his real name, but close enough - has finally had the decency to leave the place. Apparently he had a leaving do, to which none of us old regulars were invited. Whilst I'm given to understand that someone else has bought the lease, the place still hasn't reopened. I'm given to believe that Deke left it in such a run-down state that it requires extensive refurbishment.

Of course, even when it does reopen, there's no reason to believe that the new management will be any better than Deke. Sadly, around these parts, there seems to be a trend for old established pubs to be bought by people with no experience of the trade, and turned into bizarre 'theme' pubs, attempting to attract some kind of 'trendy' clientele which simply doesn't exist in this town. A pub quite close to my current local, for instance, was bought some months ago and renamed 'Venom' (not it's real name, but close enough -just think of a synonym for 'venom'). The new owners spent what appears to be a fair amount of money turning a traditional pub into some kind of faux Soho lounge bar. Not surprisingly, it's been a disaster. Their last attempt to attract custom was to set up an on site tattoo parlour and offer tattoos while you drink. There were no takers, obviously. So,what can we expect to see at my old local - a Wild West-themed saloon, perhaps? To be honest, I don't really care. All that matters is that Deke's reign of terror has finally ended. There is some justice in the world, after all!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Couldn't Have Put it Better Myself...

Nice to see that Dave's slick advertising bollocks still counts for nothing in some quarters. Apparently this is just one of a number of Cameron posters which have been similarly defaced in Hackney. I would say that class war is back, except that it never really went away. Sadly, it still matters very much in this country as to who your parents are and where you went to school. Money and privilege still speak volumes, it seems.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Bloody Good Thrashing

That David Cameron is utterly shameless in his pursuit of votes, isn't he? Even an old cynic like me was shocked at the way he was so quick to try and exploit that business up Doncaster-way where those two boys beat and tortured two other young lads. There he was, the verdict in the court case barely cold, using Prime Minister's Question Time to claim that this case was yet another symptom of 'broken Britain', and that such violence was far more widespread than the government wants to admit. Well, perhaps it is widespread in the kind of places Dave and his pals frequent - those private schools and gentleman's clubs are pretty big on administering beatings, I'm led to believe. The main difference between them and the Doncaster case is that people actually pay for the privilege of being abused in these institutions. Actually, that's something that has always perplexed me - people who decry bullying and violence against children are frequently prepared to send them to private schools which, traditionally, believe in the application of corporal punishment and encourage the exploitation and abuse of younger pupils by older children through the use of systems such as 'fagging'.

Indeed, it is one of the great paradoxes of our age that the very people who are apparently most outraged by such incidents involving child-on-child violence as the Doncaster business and the Jamie Bulger case, are often the very same people who advocate the re-introduction of the birch for young offenders. They also seem to be very keen on the idea of subjecting the young to brutal prison and military regimes as punishment. Above all, they denounce the rise of the 'nanny state' and 'political correctness' and nostalgically invoke the 'good old days' when policemen were allowed to give kids a 'clip round the ear' and parents could administer a 'bloody good hiding'. But Cameron shouldn't despair at what he claims is 'broken Britain'. Surely there's a great future for violent, sadistic children? I mean, if he gets into power and throws the Human Rights Act out of the window, then there is bound to be a demand for brutal policemen to beat confessions out of suspects, and torturers to get the truth out of those alleged terrorists. Happy days!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Severe Terror Warning

The government has conceded that it may have made a mistake when, last week, it raised the UK's terror alert to 'severe' despite admitting that there was no specific new threat. "It appears that someone might have confused the Met Office's latest severe weather warning with intelligence of an imminent terror attack," a spokesperson for Ten Downing Street admitted. "It's an easy mistake to make - the two are very similar, both full of exaggerated threats, dire, but completely unsubstantiated, warnings and lots of wild speculation." The last time such a mistake occurred was when a disclosure under 'Sarah's Law' of the whereabouts of released peadophiles in Somerset was confused with a terror alert, resulting in the notorious 2005 'Peado Alert'. "Obviously, in retrospect we realise that further checks should have been made before a county-wide warning that children in Somerset could be at increased risk of being felt up, molested or even buggered," says the spokesperson. "We did apologise at the time for the undue stress caused to parents, and to the dozen or so men attacked by lynch mobs on suspicion of being nonces."

The government maintain that the latest incident is completely different. "It's not as if there isn't any link between the weather and terrorism," claimed the spokesperson. "I mean, just look at the way that snow completely disrupted Britain. Al Qaeda couldn't have done better if they'd detonated a dirty bomb!" Indeed, some sources are claiming that recent intelligence has indicated that the cold weather could, in fact, be in cahoots with Osama bin Laden. "There are indications that they are planning further freezing assaults all across Britain," opines the spokesperson. "If they succeed in creating icy road conditions, then civilian casualties could soar into treble figures, at least!" He urged people to be on the look out for any signs of dangerous bad weather and not to be afraid to report any snowflakes they see to the proper authorities.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Political Games

Beleaguered Prime Minister Gordon Brown is hoping to regain the political initiative with a bold programme of constitutional reform, with the aim of bringing the glamour of showbusiness to the mother of Parliaments. “I want to bring Parliament into the twenty first century and tap into the pulse of popular culture,” he told Fearne Cotton during a recent Radio One interview. “It is vital that increase the appeal of politics the popularity of politicians to the 18-25 year old group. They are our future!” It is widely believed that his first target for reform will be the increasingly tired-looking Prime Minister’s Question Time.

The new Question Time will be modelled after the popular BBC TV series Shooting Stars. There will be no set running order for questions, with the House of Commons instead collectively calling down the 'Dove From Above', which will have all of that week’s prospective questions attached to it. Both sides of the House will then engage in a series of speciality rounds in order to win the right to choose a specific question from the Dove. It is proposed that these speciality rounds could include an impressions round in which members of each party would be called upon to perform their impersonations of well-known celebrities. If members of the public in the gallery can guess who the impression is of, then the right to choose a question is won. It is thought that the Labour leadership is particularly keen to include this round as Deputy Leader Harriet Harman is known to have frequently entertained her Cabinet colleagues with her amazing repertoire of impersonations - her Noddy Holder is said to be especially convincing. Harman isn't the only cabinet member with a gift for mimicry. Many senior Labour politicians fondly remember the 1998 Downing Street Christmas party at which Peter Mandelson donned one of Cherie Blair’s dresses, balanced a bowl of fruit on his head and performed a Carmen Miranda number.

According to plans drawn up by top Downing Street advisors, senior members of the main parties will adopt the guises of the popular stars of the TV series. Brown and Ed Balls will obviously be Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, with Foreign Secretary David Milliband donning a blonde wig to portray Ulrika Jonsson, whilst Tory leader David Cameron will be greasy fifties throwback Mark Lamarr. It is believed that shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague will be offered the role of George 'What Are The Scores' Daws (he’s a big baby). However, it is believed that Hague has privately been highly critical of Brown's plan, arguing that Shooting Stars is already a dated format and its use by the Government underlines just how out of touch with popular culture the Prime Minister is.

The opposition is believed to prefer a more contemporary model for Question Time, such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It is thought that Cameron is preparing a set of counter proposals under which MPs who have tabled questions will first face a preliminary quiz to establish which can complete his or her expense accounts quickest - the winner will then be quizzed by a smarmy host (possibly Tony Blair). If they get the initial answer right they will be allowed to ask their tabled question - they will then be given the chance to 'double up' and ask a supplementary question, provided they get the next answer right. A wrong answer will bring their line of questioning to a halt, and the runner-up from the preliminary round will take their place and the process start again. When the Prime Minister answers the questions posed by the contestants he will be allowed the opportunity to phone a friend or ask the Commons for help with an answer.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Nightmare at the Cinema

My desire to be a hermit was reinforced by yesterday's trip to the cinema. Why is it so bloody difficult to just buy tickets for a film? Why is there no dedicated box office? Despite having arrived in what I thought was good time for a 7:30 performance, I found myself forced to queue for what seemed an eternity whilst people not only bought tickets, but also what seemed sufficient food and drink to see them through the entire winter, let alone a two hour film. I'm guessing that a large number of the people I was queueing with, like me, just wanted to buy tickets. Popcorn sales should be at a separate counter, for God's sake. Now, I know that many of you are going to point out that I could have bought the ticket in advance, on line. Indeed, I could have. But that would have meant paying an extra fee for the privilege. It's expensive enough to see a film as it is, without being stung for trying to avoid the queues which the cinema itself artificially creates. Anyway, having finally got my ticket, I found someone sitting in my allocated seat. Much 'discussion' ensued until it turned out that they were in the wrong bloody screen! I mean, if they thought they were going to watch Avatar, didn't they think it odd that they hadn't been issued with 3-D glasses? Bloody people again!

But what of the film I finally managed to see? Well, it might well have been titled Sherlock Holmes, but I doubt very much that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have recognised any of his characters. Granted, it was set in Victorian London (very well recreated, in all its filthy glory), and it did involve a 'consulting detective' called Sherlock Holmes who, assisted by his friend Dr Watson, solves crimes which baffle the police. I'm not saying it wasn't entertaining or well made, it was. But it wasn't really a Sherlock Holmes film. That said, its attempt to reinvent Holmes as an action hero isn't as radical as the makers think. Quite a lot of the silents and early talkies featuring the character also tried to recast the character in this way. Indeed, with its plot involving an attempt by a criminal mastermind to destroy the British government, it was reminiscent of some of the World War Two set Basil Rathbone Holmes movies. Moreover, Robert Downey's choice of hat - a battered fedora - also seemed to be borrowed from the 'modernised' Rathbone films. Actually, as recently as the late 1960s there was an attempt to play Holmes as a comic strip action hero, in A Study in Terror, which even described Holmes as the 'original caped crusader' in its publicity. Getting back to Robert Downey, whilst his was an interesting and charismatic interpretation of Holmes, it didn't scream 'intellectual genius' at me. Which, after all, is what the character is meant to be. However, all-in-all it was a reasonably entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Life of Solitude

What are the rules on being a hermit? I only ask because I am again considering a life of solitude. Every so often I get to the stage where I decide that what I really need is to reduce my level of human contact to a minimum. It's not that I'm entirely misanthropic, you understand. It is just that I find that when human beings are directly involved, even the simplest transaction becomes overly complex. That's why I love the internet - I can buy things without having to deal with sales people and other customers. It's very restful and makes shopping almost pleasurable. Then there's the business of 'social interaction' and 'social pleasantries'. Frankly, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to go through these utterly meaningless rituals with colleagues and acquaintances. It's all such a waste of time and, worst of all, completely insincere on everyone's part. So I'm back to the idea of being a hermit.

The trouble is that my image of a hermit is some wild-looking guy with a huge beard who lives in a cave in the back of beyond and hasn't taken a bath in at least a decade. All of which present problems for me. Most fundamentally, I rate personal hygiene pretty highly and have always found beards pretty irritating. Then there's the cave business. This implies a complete lack of amenities and modern conveniences. Whilst I want to avoid most people, there are some I'd like to keep in touch with, and without the internet, how would I do any shopping? Look, can't I be a hermit and still live in my house, just not go out much? Or would that make me a recluse? Because I'd much rather be a hermit than a recluse. Recluse sounds slightly sinister, (implying some kind of crazy man who shoots at the post man with an air pistol and shits out of the windows), whilst hermits are usually also wise men (like Obi Wan Kenobi, for instance). It's all very confusing.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Accident Tourism

Nice to know that even natural disasters can't stop some things. Apparently cruise liners are still calling in Haiti, despite the recent earthquake there. Of course, the ships' owners defend it all by pointing out that their ships are also carrying aid shipments. Imagine how much more aid these huge vessels could carry if they weren't full of rich sightseers? But should we be surprised? After all, what could be more exciting than a spot of disaster tourism? We all love a wallow in other people's misery, don't we? How else do you explain the success of films about concentration camps, terminal illness and abject poverty? Whilst sailing out to a major disaster zone on a luxurious cruise ship, flaunting your relative wealth and good fortune at people who have just lost homes, livelihoods and families might be considered poor taste, is it any worse than visiting the scenes of gruesome murders? Those Jack the Ripper tours in Whitechapel still do good business and, let's face it, part of the frisson they create is don to the fact that we all know the Ripper's victims all lived in abject poverty and misery. But at least Jack the Ripper's crimes are safely located in the Nineteenth Century, making it somehow more acceptable to treat them as entertainment - they're heritage murders, for God's sake!

That said, it is surely only a matter of time before they start doing tours of the locations of the Yorkshire Ripper's murders - after all, most of them took place more than thirty years ago. But getting back to this disaster tourism, whilst everyone likes a good wallow in the misfortune of others, they can't all afford to go on a cruise to exotic disaster locations. So why not just organise tours of local sink estates? Participants can gawp at the poor drug addled, alcohol dependent locals, with their hordes of children living in their disgusting hovels, all from the air conditioned comfort of their luxury coaches. There could be special Saturday night tours, so that the punters can witness the pub brawls at kicking-out time. It would be a bit like visiting a safari park, I suppose. I've no doubt it would be a huge success amongst certain types of BMW-owning, upwardly mobile middle class types who work in the service industries. After all, what's the point of having the trappings of material success if you can't flaunt it at someone less fortunate? I suppose the ultimate in such misery tours would be if you could go back in time and wander around Auschwitz. Sadly, if such a thing were possible, there'd be no shortage of wealthy tourists making reservations.


Friday, January 15, 2010

No Snow...

"Not looking so clever now the temperature has risen couple of degrees, eh?" I remarked to the receding snow as I left the house this morning. It looks as if the tyranny of snow is finally over. Until the next cold spell, of course, when the country will doubtless be paralysed once again. Frankly, this thaw couldn't have come too soon for me. I'm hoping that with the retreat of the snow, I might feel a bit more creative. Not only do these low temperatures seem to freeze my brain, as all my energies seem to be diverted to trying to keep myself warm, but when the news is dominated by nothing but stories about the bloody snow, it becomes very difficult to think of anything else to write about. Mind you, the media had a Godsend in the form of a good old fashioned disaster earlier in the week, with the earthquake in Haiti. At last they had something to push snow out of the headlines. I live in hope that the coverage of people in Haiti deprived of their homes and livelihood - not to mention lives - will help people here put their 'suffering' in this cold spell into perspective.

Incredibly, so desperate was my local BBC news programme to come up with a lead story other than snow, they even managed to find a pretext to run the Haitian earthquake story. Now, whilst local news programmes are notorious for trying to find spurious links to national (and occasionally international) news stories in order to pad their bulletins, this one really astounded me. Tragic though the events in Haiti are, I hardly think the fact that various fire fighters, paramedics and other rescue workers from our region are flying out to help in the earthquake's aftermath hardly justifies co-opting the whole story for a local news magazine! Still, I daresay that next week they'll be able to drop Haiti from the local news as the cold spell's aftermath takes its toll. The media have already been gearing up for this one, hopefully noting that thawing snow could lead to flooding. You see - there really is no end to this bloody snow!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Man of Letters

Buckingham Palace has strenuously denied newspaper claims that Prince Charles has consistently attempted to influence government policy over the past fifteen years - particularly with regard to conservation issues - by bombarding Ministers with letters. "It is completely untrue that His Majesty has, at any time, tried to persuade ministers to give him planning permission to build a huge wicker man near his 'model' village in Dorset," declared a spokesperson. The Palace has also denied that any of the letters recent press reports have claimed the Prince Charles sent to government Ministers have in any way been obscene or abusive. “They merely concerned government policies which impacted on certain areas of concern to the Prince, such as hunting and agriculture,” said a spokesman, who also denied that the Prince had propositioned former Education minister Estelle Morris in one letter, inviting her to “blow my hunting horn” and fondle his hard hat.

None of the letters had apparently accused former Prime Minister Tony Blair of being a “snide little git”, or described former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott as a “hypocritical fat bastard so grossly overweight he probably hasn’t seen his penis in over ten years, let alone been able to have a wank”. The spokesperson added that it was also completely untrue that the Prince had been responsible for sending several packages containing human excrement to Number Ten Downing Street since Gordon Brown took office. "He has the utmost respect for Mr Brown," they claimed. "He particularly admires the gardening work he did at Balmoral." The spokesperson conceded that the Prince might be confusing the current Prime Minister with his Great Great Grandmother's Scottish retainer John Brown. "It's an easy mistake to make," they said. "They're both Scottish and from the lower classes."

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mermaids and Monsters

Short of something to read, I found myself the other day perusing the book shelves of a local charity shop. Amongst the dog eared paperbacks I ended up buying was a near fifty year old volume which sought to explain various mythical monsters. Despite its age, this has proven to be a most fascinating read, providing highly plausible explanations for sightings of such things as mermaids and sea serpents. However, it got me to thinking as to whether there could be other explanations beyond the misidentification of seals, manatees and giant squids. Take the mermaid, a creature with the upper half of a beautiful naked woman and the lower parts of a fish, surely there could be a more basic explanation for its origins? I mean, half woman, half fish - doesn't that just seem like an attempt to make bestiality acceptable? Indeed, aren't mermaids reputed to lure mariners to their doom with their siren songs? Could it be that salty old sea dogs came up with this alluring creature to try and explain to their wives why their cocks were slimy and stinking of rotten fish, whilst their pubes were full of fish scales? "Honestly, I haven't been fucking a fish, my dear. There was this half woman, half fish creature which seduced me into her arms by magical means and had her way with me! Obviously, it was her bottom half which was fishy..."

But what of the sea serpent? Could all those sightings be down to giant squids waving their tentacles around? Personally, I can't help but feel that if you were to replace 'giant squid' with 'giant squit', we could be closer to the truth. The more I read descriptions of these legendary sea creatures, I can't help but feel that they sound suspiciously like huge floating turds. Invariably witnesses speak of seeing large dark coloured log-like things floating in the sea. Sometimes they're described as 'humped' - like several lumps of excrement floating together, perhaps? But what, I hear you cry, about all those reports of long necked creatures sticking their heads up out of the water? Well, only the other day I dropped a turd so huge it stuck at least six inches above the water. It would have sat up even higher, except that the end was bent over. This had the effect of making it resemble the Loch Ness monster - you've seen the photos: long plesiosaur-like neck and small head poking out of the water. Makes you think, eh? Of course, this explanation - highly plausible though it might be - throws up another mystery. What could possibly deposit a floater in the sea so humongous it could be mistaken for a sea monster? One for Arthur C Clarke. If he wasn't dead, that is.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Knights of Cumalot

Another 'lost classic' from my personal DVD collection - this time we visit medieval England for some puerile smut:

This has to represent pretty much the nadir of British sexploitation. Surprisingly good production values (the sets and costumes look as if they were salvaged from some higher-budget production) are undermined by a puerile script and non-existent acting. The punning (if it can be dignified with such a description) title says it all, setting the tone for the rest of the picture. The initial idea, a pornographic debasement of Sir Thomas Malory, probably seemed highly amusing one late night down at the producer’s local pub (where this movie surely must have been conceived), but in reality its all very tiresome.

To cut a long story short, the plot (such as it is) concerns the quest for the Holy Grail by the Knights of King Arthur’s round table. In this version the reason for them seeking it is to cure Queen Guinevere, who has taken to her bed with an incurable affliction - “the wound that never heals” (very subtle). Little does King Arthur know, but this affliction is actually a bad case of the clap which she has caught from his favourite knight, Sir Thrustalot (the character names give a fair idea of the level of the script). Most of the film follows of the efforts of Thrustalot and his companions to attain the Grail - basically these consist of a series of bawdy adventures involving busty farm-girls, naked witches and horses. Amongst Thrustalot’s companions are Sir Harry de Fisting (the virtuous knight who spurns the corrupting love of women but is not above giving the odd squire a “red box”) and Sir Percy (it just doesn’t get any better) who has a weapon to rival Arthur’s Excalibur. Predictably, there are many 'jokes' about pork swords and lunchbox lancers. The Grail, when it is eventually discovered, takes the form of a huge glowing phallus, which is eventually used by Thrustalot as a divine dildo to cure Guinevere. However, having cured her clap, he cannot resist the urge to give her one herself, but is caught in the act by Arthur’s nephew, the villainous Sir Mulligan de Cockwash (can it get worse? You bet it can!).

Sir Mulligan denounces Guinevere and Thrustalot, calling for their execution. Arthur refuses, exiling Thrustalot and banishing Guinevere to a nunnery. Civil war ensues and a final battle is fought between Arthur’s remaining knights and Sir Mulligan’s supporters. (But fought very cheaply as it all takes place in a thick fog, through which you can never see more than three knights at a time). Finally Arthur and Mulligan face each other one on one. Both are mortally wounded. Thrustalot turns up just in time to take the dying Arthur to the lake and throw Excalibur into the water. After Arthur’s death Thrustalot disguises himself as a nun and penetrates the Abbey - you can guess the rest.

It is hard to believe that this debased farrago was produced by Handjob, the people who gave us the excellent James Bondage series. Otherwise reliable performers fail to rise to the occasion here. Nobby Gusset, so good in the first two Bondage films, plays Thrustalot with what appears to be a fright wig and a bored expression, whilst Chucky 'Chopper' Frottager gives a truly limp performance as Sir Percy. The whole thing is just too obvious - Merlin is portrayed as a senile old queen who cavorts naked with the page boys and is bewitched by an evil fairy, whilst the Lady of the Lake’s arm reaches out of the water to grab Excalibur, but wanks Arthur off instead. Beyond puerile, this is the sort of thing which gives porno a bad name. Burn it.


Friday, January 08, 2010

An Anniversary

Apparently, I missed an anniversary, having been so preoccupied with the bloody weather. A couple of posts back I reached the eight hundred mark. I find it quite astounding that, since I started this blog a little under four years ago, I've managed to come up with enough trivia and general bollocks to fill eight hundred posts. I suppose I should say something along the lines of "here's to the next eight hundred posts", but I'm not sure I've got the energy for another eight hundred. Indeed, after spending the past few days slogging through snow, I'm afraid I don't really have the energy to turn this into a proper post. I suppose I could spend some time musing over whether or not this blog has strayed from its original concept. It's still described as being the 'Editorial Blog of The Sleaze', but does the current content still reflect this?

It could be asked as to exactly why a publication like The Sleaze even needs editorial content. Well, I can’t help but feel that publications without any kind of editorial material are basically faceless and impersonal. Whilst the overall character and style of a publication should, of course, come from the stories and articles it carries, editorial content gives it that personal touch, giving the reader some kind of impression of the personality behind the publication. But enough of my publishing philosophy. The fact is that editorials over on the main site are culled from posts made here. After all, one of the reasons I set this blog up was because I was always having ideas for editorials, but forgetting them before I got around to writing one of my infrequent editorials. Also, many of my stories appearing over on The Sleaze either appear here in draft form, or are inspired by posts made on Sleaze Diary. Which is as it should be. When I started this blog, one of my stated intentions was to try and give readers some insight into the tortured creative processes which lay behind many of the stories that appeared on The Sleaze. So, I suppose that we're still 'on message' here. There you have it - eight hundred and a bit posts and still fulfilling my original mandate. There, I think I've done enough now to pad this post out to an acceptable length...


Thursday, January 07, 2010

It Just Goes On...

The bad weather, plots against Gordon Brown, Cameron talking bollocks - you name it, it just goes on, and on. Thanks to our twenty-four hour news culture's insatiable need for content, all of these things are endlessly regurgitated. Yesterday the BBC even had the audacity to fill up some of the empty space in the schedules caused by the postponement of a League Cup Semi-Final, by giving us a half hour 'News Special' on the snowy weather. Curiously enough, I already knew that we were in the grip of freezing weather - I'd been out in it all day. I can't really imagine that there was anybody in the country who hadn't noticed the inclement weather and needed to be brought up to date on it. It occurred to me, in the midst of all this madness, that about the only people who would be welcoming this prolonged cold spell would be those World War Two re-enactment weirdos. The conditions are exactly right for them to re stage the Battle of the Bulge in Hampshire or Oxfordshire.

All of which just reinforced my opinion that we give in to this weather too easily. After all, in December 1944 the German army launched a massive counter-offensive in far worse weather conditions than those we are currently experiencing, and, during the afore-mentioned military action, very nearly succeeded in derailing the Allied advance out of France and into the low countries. I'm beginning to suspect that the Germans were so easily able to sweep past US forces early in the offensive because the Americans had paid too much attention to those severe weather warnings. No doubt they'd heeded police advice to stay off the icy roads unless their journeys were essential, and had parked their Sherman tanks up at the roadside. No wonder they were unable to mount a defence in the face of hundreds of German tanks which dared to drive on untreated roads! I suppose that what we can conclude from this historical lesson is that what I need to get through this bad weather is a Tiger tank.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Snow Joke

There's nothing like whipping up a bit of a panic, is there? with more snow falling today the media have gone into overdrive, warning everyone of traffic chaos, schools having to be closed and vehicles abandoned. They're clearly hoping for a repeat of the blizzard that struck before Christmas to provide them with some much needed 'news' to pad out their bulletins. As I've mentioned before, I have the misfortune to live at the epicentre of the previous snow chaos (if the media are to be believed), so the local press and TV have been lurking around like vultures, just hoping for a repetition of the gridlocked roads and stranded travellers. Indeed, so successful have they been in stoking up the terror, that by early this evening there were reports that all over the region people had been panic-buying food, obviously fearing that they were about to be snowed in and cut off from the outside world for several weeks.

Not that anyone can blame them. After all, only a couple of weeks ago the media was full of stories of people having to abandon their cars and roam the snow choked wasteland that was once Southern England in search of food and warmth. Desperate and with no apparent hope of rescue, hundreds were forced into cannibalism in order to survive. Several commuters waiting at a bus stop in Reading were eaten by a band of roving sales reps who had been forced to abandon their company cars, for instance. The clear message coming through from the media is that this snow is evil. Yes, evil. Make no mistake, it isn't just some meteorological phenomena, rather it is a sentient being hell bent on disrupting our lives and bringing the human race to its knees. How else can you explain repeated statements along the lines of 'don't think you can beat the snow - it will beat you'? Frankly, I don't know why they don't deploy the army to fight this icy bastard. I want to see squads of soldiers on the streets, firing automatic weapons into the air to shoot down the snow flakes before they can settle on the ground. Perhaps they can shoot a few snowmen while they're about it - those sinister bastards (which seem to appear spontaneously, I've never seen one being built by human hands), are quite clearly waiting until they outnumber us before they launch an assault. But remember - shoot them in the head! That's my take on the weather situation, anyway. I'm just of to apply for a job as a local TV reporter...

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Environment for Terror?

A newspaper columnist has sensationally claimed that al Qeada is not an Islamic fundamentalist terror group, but actually it is a front for a coalition of environmental and naturist groups. "It's quite obvious," ranted John Barnyard in his column in The Shite. "What have most of these so-called 'terror' attacks been aimed at, eh? Aircraft! Can't people see that the real agenda here is to scare people out of travelling by air!" According to the conservative columnist, the only winners from such a strategy are climate change campaigners and environmentalists. "They're always banging on about how excessive air travel is destroying the ozone layer and how the best way to reduce carbon emissions is to restrict it," he claims. "They've obviously failed to scare people into believing that the world will end if they continue to fly, so instead they're just going to scare people out of taking foreign holidays!" Even if the prospect of being blown out of the air by crazed suicide bombers exploding their underpants doesn't scare people out of flying, Barnyard contends, the environmentalists are hoping that increasingly stringent security measures at airports will deter them instead. "Let's face it - who wants to queue for twelve hours for a flight?" he asks. "As if that isn't deterrent enough, they're now threatening intrusive full body scans!"

Indeed, Barnyard is convinced that the full body scans are part of the naturist faction of the terror alliance's plot to impose nudism on the general population. "For decades now these freaks have failed to convince people that we should all run around completely starkers," he says. "With these full body scans, they're effectively making us all naturists by proxy! Once you step through one of those scanners, your entire body is exposed for every immigration and airport official to gawp at! It's a bloody disgrace!" The columnist has claimed that he has evidence that an unusually high proportion of Borders Agency staff are practising naturists. "The conspiracy is there for everyone to see," states the climate change denier. "It's only a small step from full body scans to insisting that everyone flies naked for security reasons - why else do you think they've now got s-called 'terrorists' using their clothes as weapons of mass destruction?" Barnyard's claims have largely been dismissed, with many critics pointing out that he had previously used his column to allege that climate change was a scam devised by the home improvement industry to increase sales of loft insulation.


Friday, January 01, 2010

A Change for the Better?

If you've been here before, it can't have escaped your attention that we've got a new template, header, etc.. Whilst I felt that a change was long overdue - and what better time to make a change than New Year - I'm still not sure that I'll be sticking with this design in the long-term. I know that this sort of layout with the content on the left and columns on the right is very popular, but my every instinct screams at me that the main content should be in the middle. We'll see. Anyway, I'm not the only one making momentous changes today - the Doctor finally regenerated from David Tennant into Matt Smith (see how I seamlessly segued into that?). To celebrate this event, I published a new Dr Who-themed story over on The Sleaze. Now, in this business, timing is everything. So I made sure that waited to post the story (which had been ready to go for a while), until just before midnight last night, knowing that the buzz about the Doctor's imminent regeneration would be building up on the web prior to this evening's screening of The End of Time (Part Two). It paid off even more spectacularly than I had hoped.

Indeed, the traffic generated by the story has only just begun to subside. So far, I've avoided the usual hate-mail from die hard fans of the series this sort of story usually generates. But I'm sure it will come. Usually their objections focus on the fact that the story isn't true. Well, no shit! What the kind of people who complain about this type of story don't seem to grasp is that such parodies are born out of love for their subjects. Trust me, I've probably been following Dr Who a bloody sight longer than most so-called 'fans'. I go back way beyond Christopher Ecclestone and Russell T Davies. I've earned the right to take the piss out of it. Not that I am taking the piss out of it really. It is the whole fan phenomena which surrounds it which I'm really aiming at. Anyway, getting back to the regeneration, whilst I'm sorry to see David Tennant go, I'm looking forward to the new series in the Spring. I've been through enough regenerations to know that no matter how good the last incarnation of the Doctor was, there's always the promise that the next will be as good, if not better. Different, of course, but possibly better. That's the point of it really, that creative change should be welcomed, as it always holds the promise of renewal and progress. So bear with me whilst I tweak these new layouts over the next few weeks!

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