Friday, August 31, 2012

Scenes From The Forest

A collection of scenes from a recent vist to the New Forest, filmed at variety of locations. Music, as ever, is from


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Sleazecast: High Strangeness

Well, here it is at last - the longest Sleazecast yet, weighing in at sixty seven minutes or so. But do I care? Hell, no! I tried doing a shorter Sleazecast last time and nobody bloody listened to it! So to Hell with you all! Actually, I'm pretty pleased with this one - much less of me just talking and more professional open source material. I'm afraid that my links sound a bit ropey due to my continued hay fever problems - I delayed recording my vocals in the hope that it would clear up, but to no avail. Nonetheless, overall the whole thing panned out pretty well, with some innovative developments. Moreover, for once the theme - all things paranormal - was actually sustained for the whole broadcast.

I have to admit that this is actually my third attempt to get this particular podcast off the ground - I twice abandoned it due to my inability to get a handle on the material or to find a suitable approach. Anyway, as ever, enough talking about the podcast - you can listen to it here:

The Sleazecast: High Strangeness

Alternatively, you can download it here as an mp3 file.

The track listing is as follows:

1. Introduction: the 1970 radio ad for supernatural Mondo Witchcraft '70 gets us in the mood.

2. Come to The Sabbat! A tune from Black Widow kicks off proceedings.

3. Doc Sleaze muses on the image of the witch through the ages.

4. Modern day witch Louise Heubner on the true nature of witchcraft and magic.

5. The Doc ponders the 1944 witchcraft trials and fakery in spiritualism.

6. Fraudulent Spiritualists - an investigation from the pages of the Library of the World's Best Mystery and Detective Stories, vol 6, courtesy of Libravox.

7. Paranormal News with Suzie Sleaze.

8. The Stockbridge Sasquatch - Doc Sleaze and guests investigate the mystery of the Hampshire Bigfoot sightings.

9. 'Space Belongs to Me, Do You Hear?' HP Lovecraft inspired sounds from The Unnameable.

10. The Flying Saucer Mystery - more musings from Doc Sleaze.

11. Alien Abduction - a medley of abductees' experiences - in their own words.

12. Conclusion.

13. Conjuration! Black Widow play us out.

OK, that's another one done and dusted! I've no idea when the next Sleazecast will be, or what it will be about. Keep watching this space!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Silly Season Strikes Again

Well, that certainly showed me, didn't it? There I was, spending every August lamenting the decline of the traditional British 'silly season' story and what happens? That's right, over the Bank Holiday weekend we had an honest to goodness silly season story splashed all over the media in form of the 'Essex Lion'. I was doubly surprised because I really thought that those 'big cats on the loose in Britain' stories had finally run their course. But no - here we had what seemed to almost be the archetypal form of the story and, best of all, the local police had clearly never heard it before as they actually responded to it! I ask you, if someone phones up and says they've just seen a lion in field, but the only 'proof' they can offer is what appears to be a blurred photograph of someone's pet cat, would you mobilise the entire police force, complete with helicopters, tranquiliser darts and all the works? Obviously not. But thank God for Essex Police, without them we'd never have had such an entertaining Bank Holiday.

Clearly, they weren't aware of the Hampshire tiger incident of a couple of years ago, when half of Hampshire Constabulary, supported by a helicopter, surrounded a tiger in a field after a tip-off from a member of the public, only to find that it was a child's stuffed toy. Whilst I know that they always have to be 'safe rather than sorry', the police in this country should have realised by now that there are no big cats living in the wild in the UK. Logic dictates that if there were, there would be physical evidence beyond blurred photos of something that might be furry. Farmers would notice cattle going missing, half-eaten cow carcasses would be littering the countryside, not to mention footprints and piles of lion/tiger shit. Instead, all we have are supposed eyewitness statements, the least reliable kind of 'evidence' you can get. I know from personal experience that memories of even recent events can be deceptive. Even within minutes of an event, our recollection of it becomes hazy and our imaginations are forced to fill in details. A couple of times I've had to give witness statements to the police and, despite having a good memory, I found that I really couldn't remember many of the details of the incidents involved, even when they had occurred less than hour before. So I'm not surprised that someone having seen a very large domestic cat from a distance, when recalling the episode unwittingly exaggerates the animal's size and appearance.

Ah well, still a few days of August to go - still time for a few UFO landings, perhaps?

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Scenes From a Woodland Walk

Another rainy Bank Holiday, another film...

This one was shot on the some of the same locations as last year's 'Forest of Fear'. Unfortunately, some unforecast rain (which you can hear on the soundtrack toward the end) forced me to cut filming short. Nonetheless, I've managed to edit together the footage I did shoot into something reasonably coherent.

The music is from


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Baldometer

Like many men of my age, with rapidly thinning locks, my thoughts occasionally wander to the subject of baldness treatments. Is there really a miracle cure for hair loss? Can it really be reversed, as Shane Warne and various ex-cricketers claim on those TV adverts which show late at night on ITV4, (usually during the penultimate commercial break of the early hours repeat of The Professionals)? If I was a cynic, I'd speculate that the reason these adverts for hair loss treatment clinics are shown so late at night is that the makers hope viewers will be too tired to notice that, more often than not, the miraculous hair recoveries sported by their subjects look suspiciously like elaborate comb-overs. However, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and check out some of these 'treatments' online.

Basically, there seem to be three main categories of hair loss treatments: lotions you rub into your scalp; laser treatments and hair transplants. Do any of them work? I must admit the lotions intrigued me - could it be that simple to restore your thinning hair? Well, the answer is - no. In reality thee are some things which, when applied to the scalp, can stimulate hair growth. The catch is that it isn't permanent - you have to keep applying the expensive lotions or lose it again. A cheaper version of this are caffeine-based shampoos. But surely if they actually worked, then it would be cheaper to rub coffee grounds onto your scalp? And since when has coffee been a proven hair restorative, anyway? Likewise for laser treatments - if they stimulated hair growth, balding men would be sticking their heads in supermarket barcode readers up and down the country. Utter bollocks.

Anyway, whilst browsing one of these sites, I came across the extraordinary baldness index calculator, or, as I like to call it, the 'baldometer'. Basically, this consisted of a series of questions relating to the state of your hair and your lifestyle, from which the 'device' calculates your hair loss index. Disconcertingly, between the questions, a video of some old bloke (with a full head of silver hair) lectures you in German. Allegedly he is some kind of hair scientist. Unfortunately, people like me, who grew up on a diet of war movies and comics, white-coated German accented scientists are forever associated with unspeakable human experiments in concentration camps and developing deadly viruses to be carried in the warheads of V-2 rockets. Despite this distraction, I answered all the questions, (more or less truthfully), and was rewarded with the information that I had a baldness index of 75 years. What the Hell does that mean? That I have the hair of a 75 year old man? Because I've met 75 year old blokes with full heads of hair. Or does it mean that I'll be totally bald by the time I reach 75? Who knows. It really shouldn't come as a surprise that, like everything else connected with the hair loss treatment business, the 'baldometer' is a load of utterly meaningless bollocks.

Sadly, the only thing which might restore your hair is an expensive, painful and time-consuming surgical procedure to transplant follicles from your arse to your head. Only wealthy, vain and idiotic people like Wayne Rooney and Elton John indulge in such treatments. So, for the rest of us, I'm afraid the only option is to try and master the comb-over, (and it is surprising how quickly you can become proficient at this once the hair starts thinning). Either that, or invest in a decent wig. Of course, we could all just grow bald gracefully. Which might not be so bad - contrary to what the TV adverts tell you, baldness doesn't rob you of your manhood and render you socially unacceptable. On the contrary, just look at all those bald and proud icons of masculinity, like Sean Connery, Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas and Harry Hill. Indeed, only this evening I saw Peter Davison, (an actor I've always liked - a very nice guy and a Labour voter), on a TV programme and noted that his hair was following the same pattern of thinning as mine and he didn't look to bad, (he even pulled in the course of the programme). So if it is good enough for the fifth Doctor, it's good enough for me!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

No Respect

There are some things one just cannot let pass without comment. In this case it is some of the astonishing things being said by supporters of Julian Assange. First up we have Respect Party MP and general rent-a-quote George Galloway declaring that one of the sexual offences Assange is being accused of in Sweden doesn't constitute rape because if you have sex with a woman when she is asleep, it doesn't constitute rape. I find it extraordinary that anyone in this day and age could possibly come out with with such idiocy. Worse still, today I read a letter in a newspaper from a Galloway apologist, claiming that the MP had been misrepresented. Apparently he was merely trying to highlight how difficult it apparently is for men to be able to tell what is and isn't rape. If a woman isn't conscious then she can't give consent. Which is surely the very definition of rape. It's that simple. Even if she had previously consented to sex when conscious, it is still rape if she hasn't consented this time. How is that confusing?

Then we have the president of Ecuador - the country Assange is seeking asylum from - declaring that what Assange is accused of doing wouldn't be considered a crime in Latin America, Really? Really? This case seems to have unleashed a deep and extremely unpleasant undercurrent of misogyny, particularly in some on the left, who really should know better. The sad fact is that the people who act as figureheads for endeavors such as Wikileaks are often deeply flawed characters and not necessarily nice people. But clearly, some of Assange's supporters can't bear to countenance this and feel it necessary to defend him by trying to discredit his accusers. I can understand that. However, that they should do this in such misogynistic terms is what disturbs me. Regardless of whether or not the allegations against him have any foundation, to defend him by effectively calling into question the whole concept of rape and a woman's right to say 'no' is completely unacceptable. This 'defence' seems to take us back to a very medieval view of women, as evil succubi out to entrap and corrupt innocent men with their sexual wiles. Really, there are times I'm ashamed to be a man.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Scenes From The Beach

The first day of my holidays summed up in ninety seconds! Actually, there were various other things going on yesterday on the beach which I didn't film. The naked man for one thing. For what it is worth, there's some audio I recorded at the same time featured in the latest edition of the Overnightscape Central podcast, over at the Overnightscape Underground.

My regular reader(s) might recognise the beach as the same one featured in last year's 'Another Part of the Beach'.

Maybe this is the way I'll go with holiday videos this year: short and to the point, just giving a few brief impressions. We'll see...


Monday, August 20, 2012

Assange Exposed!

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange yesterday appeared on the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy to make a statement to the press regarding the latest developments in his attempts to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex offence charges. After denouncing the US government once more as a totalitarian regime with no regard for human rights, the Australian fugitive proceeded to unzip his flies and whip out his genitals. "See what I think of your trumped up sex charges," he shouted as he waved his genitalia at the crowd gathered beneath the balcony. "As for you William Hague - suck on my baldy man, baldy!" Following this last insult to the UK Foreign Secretary, who had threatened to misinterpret an obscure British law in order to forcibly enter the Ecuadorean embassy where Assange has been claiming asylum for the past two months, he turned around, dropped his trousers and mooned at the TV cameras.

All of which is lot more entertaining than what actually happened yesterday. Assange rolled out the usual rhetoric against his 'enemies', but still left us none the wiser about those Swedish sex allegations. I'm afraid that I have a real problem with his refusal to answer the charges. All of the stuff he and his supporters keep churning out about a conspiracy to have him extradited from Sweden to the US to be put on trial for the publishing of classified data, increasingly sound like bollocks to me. Why on earth would the US conspire with Sweden to cook up false charges against Assange in order to get him to get heir hands on him? Surely it would be easier to extradite him directly from the UK? After all, the US seems to have little trouble in gaining the extradition of assorted alleged terrorists and copyright violators from this country to stand trial in US courts. It just makes no sense. Sadly, the longer Assange tries to avoid answering the charges in a court of law, the more suspicious I become that there might be some substance to them. Also, if he wants to seek asylum, why go to the Ecuador, a country not renowned for its human rights record? Why not socialist Venezuela? Or Cuba? But worst of all, this continuing circus simply diverts attention from the real mission of Wikileaks, which isn't to boost Assange's ego, but to hold the powerful to account by exposing their misdemeanours.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

End of Term

Well, that's it. I've finished work for a few weeks and I'm now heading off to my Summer break. I say 'heading off', but, as ever, I'm not actually going away anywhere. Instead, I'll be doing my usual programme of day trips and excursions to various places of interest. I'm not sure whether I'll be plaguing you with my holiday films this year, I've done most of my regular locations to death. I'll probably record some audio, though - so don't think I've given up on podcasting yet. Anyway, the long and short of it is that updates here and at The Sleaze might be a bit patchy over the next few weeks. Regular service will be resumed in September.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Double Standards

Apparently, we're supposed to castigate alleged benefit cheats, despising them for taking tax-payers' money they aren't entitled to. Especially if they are foreign. I recently had the misfortune to see one of those awful programmes about 'Saints and Scroungers' or some such thing, where they gleefully detailed how some Nigerian fraudster ripped off the benefits system. The level of moralising was appalling, reinforcing the insidious notion of 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor. The worst bit was at the end, when some kind of benefits investigator told us, Dixon of Dock Green style, how evil benefit fraud was, claiming that further investigations had found that the Nigerian guy allegedly owned land occupied by a couple of small farms back in Nigeria. Land which they thought might have been bought with the benefit money he'd claimed. Maybe. But they couldn't prove it. Nonetheless, we should all think on that.

Which is all well and good. But shouldn't we also be getting angry about those private sector firms which take huge wads of taxpayers' money to carry out public sector contracts, but don't deliver? After all, aren't they doing the same thing as benefit cheats: misrepresenting themselves in order to claim monies they aren't entitled to? Moreover, the amounts they are receiving from the government are far greater than anything claimed by benefit cheats. Obviously, our old friends G4S come to mind in this respect. How much were they paid for failing to deliver security for the Olympics? And is the government proposing to prosecute them for fraud or, more appropriately, breach of contract? But they aren't the only ones - just look at the subsidies rail operators receive from the taxpayer, despite not providing the service levels they claimed they would. No wonder Richard Branson was so pissed off at losing the West Coast rail franchise - it was a good little earner while it lasted. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that benefit fraudsters shouldn't be pursued. I just think that the same standards should be applied to big business.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Brigands of the Air Waves

Over the weekend I finally got around to watching Richard Curtis' 2009 movie about sixties pirate radio, The Boat That Rocked. Disappointing, is probably the kindest thing I can say about it. Leaving aside the film's structural problems - a complete lack of compelling narrative, a shaky sense of period, the fact that it is little more than a series of episodes involving well-known actors mainly phoning in their performances and the fact that Portland Bay is a poor substitute for the North Sea - I just felt that it was a missed opportunity. There's a great film to be made about the pirate radio boom of the 1960s, but this wasn't it. Curtis is so keen to portray the owner of 'Radio Rock' in the film, (payed by Bill Nighy as, well, the 'Bill Nighy' character), as an iconoclastic anti-authoritarian champion of free speech and rock music, that he is forced to completely falsify the historical context in which it is set. Nighy's character is shown as opposing an apparently right-wing authoritarian government composed of upper class kill joys, determined not to let the UK's airwaves be contaminated by the evil sound of rock music.

In reality, it was a Labour government, led by railwayman's son Harold Wilson, which ultimately brought in the legislation to try and close down the pirates. Admittedly, the Minister who actually framed the Maritime Offences Act, which made their activities illegal, was Tony Benn, who was actually from an aristocratic family, but he had renounced his title to pursue his socialist political ambitions. In reality, also, the owners of the pirate radio stations tended to be pretty unpleasant characters: rapacious capitalists intent upon operating outside of the law, with a single aim of making as big a profit and paying as little tax as possible. Whilst the DJs who manned the ships and sea forts where the stations were based might have been passionate about spreading the creed of rock music to the UK, their employers really couldn't have given a toss what their stations were playing, just so long as they could make money off of it. Which they sometimes did - they carried commercials and didn't always pay royalties to the artists they played. They were also often happy to take financing from whacko US religious groups in exchange for airtime. Oh, and let's not forget the support for the Tories they broadcast in the 1970 General Election campaign.

But none of this is reflected in The Boat That Rocked, where everyone on board is devoted only to the mission of playing rock music and shagging birds. The film also fails to reflect the rivalries between the various pirate stations which sometimes erupted into violence, with thugs being sent to try and evict stations from their bases on sea forts and boats. Indeed, these rivalries culminated in one pirate radio station owner shooting dead another after an altercation. Like I said, such events would have made a great movie, but unfortunately that isn't what we got, and I fear the commercial failure of The Boat That Rocked has effectively queered the pitch for the foreseeable future as far as films about pirate radio go.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Games Over

Well, I did it. I promised that for the duration of the London 2012 Olympics I wouldn't mention them here and, for once, I kept my word - Sleaze Diary remained an Olympics-free zone. It wasn't easy, I can tell you - there was so much going on around the Olympics that I was sorely tempted to mention it. But no, even if it meant posting about Terry and June repeats, because there was nothing non-Olympics related in the news to comment on, I stuck to my guns! But now it's all over, I feel free to make some comments on the whole event. From a purely personal, not to mention entirely selfish, point of view, at points during the last fortnight the Olympics, as I predicted, all but destroyed my web traffic. Visitors from the UK all but vanished. I thought that there was a bit of an upturn today, but as my main stats service stopped working (again) over an hour ago) it's difficult to tell. I know from the server logs that I'm getting visitors, but getting any details is next to impossible. I really don't know why I put up with this constant shit from this particular 'service'.

Anyway, getting back to the Olympics, it must have been hard for Daily Mail readers, seeing all those black men with Muslim names and mixed-race offspring of single mothers, who went to state schools that don't promote competitive sports, winning medals for Britain. Which, in itself, made the whole exercise worthwhile. That said, I felt there were some glaring omissions from the sports represented at the Games. There was far too much emphasis on the kind of physical prowess that few of us can ever really achieve, let alone aspire to. It needed more accessible sports, like darts, for instance. The beauty of darts is that just about anybody can play it. It doesn't require expensive training facilities (you can practice in your own home) and, best of all, professional darts players make me look physically fit. Personally, I would have loved to see the likes of the late Jocky Wilson standing on the Olympic podium, fag in one hand, pint in the other, receiving a gold medal, whilst, all the while, the likes of David Cameron banged on about the Olympic legacy of encouraging physical fitness...


Friday, August 10, 2012

The Frozen Dead

When I was a kid in the early 1970s I always wanted to see this low-budget horror flick. It always seemed to be in the late night schedules and the newspaper TV listing synopses always made it sound great: frozen Nazis, mad scientists and secret experiments. However, I never did get to watch it and it seemed to vanish from the TV schedules and never seemed to be released on VHS or DVD. But thanks to the marvels of You Tube, I've finally caught up with it.

So, was it worth the wait? Well, it certainly has frozen Nazis - hung up in a freezer cabinet wearing their uniforms, complete with Iron Crosses. It also has a former Nazi scientist trying to thaw them out in order to help build a Fourth Reich.

Sadly, things aren't going according to plan - Dr Norberg can revive their bodies, but they all seem to have suffered brain damage and are homicidal maniacs that have to be kept chained up in a dungeon. His Nazi backers aren't happy, of course. So, he plans to bring in an unsuspecting American neurosurgeon. Just to complicate things, Norberg's niece (who knows nothing of his Nazi past or current experiments), turns up with her friend at his English castle, (all good Nazi scientists operated out of them in the mid-1960s), for the holidays.

For reasons best known to himself, Norberg's assistant murders the friend, blaming it on one of the unfrozen Nazis (played by Edward Fox - I bet he doesn't list this movie on his CV). So, as you do, they decide to decapitate her and revive her head.

Which is a logical step, I suppose, as Norberg has already had some success reanimating disembodied arms. A feat which impresses the American scientist no end.

For some reason, the severed living head is now blue and, not surprisingly, has something of a downer on Norberg and company.

To cut a long story short - the film drags on interminably with lots of talky exposition scenes and sub-plots involving the niece's attempts to find what happened to her friend, the assistant's body-snatching activities and the Nazi backers' plans - the head develops a telepathic link with the zombie Nazis, driving them even more crazy, the niece and, most importantly, those severed arms. In a final conflagration, the niece discovers her uncle's secrets, the chief Nazi turns up to shoot them and, you've guessed, it, those arms throttle Norberg and the Nazi.

The film ends with the head apparently begging the niece, the American scientist and the local police inspector, (who, for no reason at all, turns up in the last reel to shoot Edward Fox, who is strangling the niece), to let her die. I say apparently, because her mumbled dialogue is completely unintelligible.

This was one of a pair of horror movies shot by Goldstar at Merton Park Studios in 1966. The other one was It!, which also used to always be in the late night TV schedules in the early 1970s and which I haven't yet caught up with. The Frozen Dead is pretty typical of its time - an imported US 'star' (Dana Andrews with a bad German accent), tacky sets and special effects and one of those strange English village settings, where nobody thinks it odd that the place is overrun with Nazis. Not surprisingly, the local police inspector seems unfazed by the bizarre events unfolding on his patch - mid-1960s country coppers were always having to deal with mad scientists (often played by Boris Karloff) operating out of the local castle, if I'm to believe the British-made B-movies of the era.

Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, The Frozen Dead is still quite amusing and, in places, even a bit creepy still. I'll have to step up my attempts to track down its companion piece: It!.

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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Sleepless in Suburbia

Frankly, I'm knackered today. So knackered I can't remember what the Hell I was planning to post about today. One of the reasons I'm feeling so tired is lack of sleep. For some reason, I found myself sitting up to the early hours watching two episodes of Terry and June back-to-back on ITV3. No, I don't know why I did it either. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that at the moment the only time you can watch 'proper' television programmes is outside of primetime hours. Perhaps I was feeling nostalgic for the simpler age that this creaky sitcom represented. Whatever the reason, it was more than a little disconcerting to find myself back in the middle class world of the 1980s that Terry and June inhabited. The fact is that even in 1982 (when the particular episodes I watched were made) the series was something of an anachronism. Whilst alternative comedy was rapidly taking over TV, with the likes of Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, Ben Elton and Alexie Sayle on the rise, spewing out 'four letter filth', (as the Daily Mail undoubtedly described it), BBC 1 was still giving us bumbling Carry On refugee Terry Scott's bumbling comic adventures in suburbia.

But maybe that was the secret of its success - it appealed to middle class, middle aged audiences seeking reassurance in the midst of the apparent sea of filth and Marxism unleashed by alternative comedy. Indeed, Terry and June does seem designed to reinforce the values of that demographic, conjuring up a cosy suburban world of middle managers with neighbours named Tarquin, attending Church fetes (to hilarious effect, of course) and patronising the lower classes, (represented by the likes of uppity dustmen or irritable shop assistants). It's a strange and - to twenty first century eyes - alien world, where people lived in houses full of chintzy furniture, carriage lamps and drinks cabinets full of sherry, and where they still attend church every Sunday. I'm not sure such a place ever really existed - it certainly wasn't a world I ever visited back in the 1980s, (but then my father was one of those uppity lower orders) - but I think that a lot of people back then wanted to believe that it did. The humour on display also seems curiously dated - a combination of mild lavatory humour, social embarrassment and slapstick. Most bizarre is that the target audience was clearly meant to identify with the Terry Scott character, who now comes over as a bumbling, insensitive, reactionary oaf. But then, I suppose that's still typically middle class...

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Cult of Management Bollocks

OK, so maybe I was a bit hard on that 'resilience handbook' I was on about last time. Perhaps I misrepresented the advice for dealing with workplace stress that it provided. Apparently it doesn't just advise you to smile in the face of adversity. Oh no. It also advises that you should 'be gentle with yourself'. Which sounds like advice on masturbation techniques to me. However, I suspect that they merely mean that you shouldn't be too self critical. Which highlights one of the problems with the stuff that these consultants come out with - it isn't really English. Sure, it is composed of English words, arranged into some semblance of a sentence, but it doesn't actually make sense. Deliberately, as if they actually came out with their advice in plain English, it would be obvious that you needn't have paid them for it. They're simply stating the obvious. But if they dress it up in feel good phrases and aphorisms, then managers can patronise their workforce with it, repeating it all over and over again, with a fixed smile, wide eyes and insane enthusiasm.

Which is another problem I have with the modern workplace: dealing with managers in thrall to these consultants and/or the latest management fads, is like trying to deal with Scientologists, or Moonies. To be fair, I think I prefer the Scientologists. At least their brand of insanity, sorry, belief system, is internally consistent. The evangelical zeal with which managers pursue whatever constitutes the latest management bollocks is truly disturbing. They really do treat it as a religion, its edicts to be unquestioningly followed. Every stage of implementation is treated as some kind of new divine revelation. It's even justified in quasi-religious terms, with the words 'the Chief Executive has decided we're going to implement it'. Ah! God has spoken! No other explanations for why we are being forced to follow a management regime which is effectively undermining the organisation's entire ethos and rendering the workforce inefficient and incapable of delivering any kind of customer service. But, in a classic piece of double-think, the whole process is deemed to be in the name of greater customer satisfaction. Except, of course, customer service has been redefined: what used to be called 'piss poor' is now 'acceptable', and what was 'acceptable' is now deemed to be 'inefficient'. Welcome to paradise and all hail the messiahs of bollocks!

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Monday, August 06, 2012

Smile and the World Will Kick Your Teeth In

You know, I'm definitely in the wrong business. I clearly need to set myself up as a 'consultant' and sell my dubious services to organisations. In the past I've mooted the possibility of styling myself an 'international security' or 'intelligence' consultant, on the basis that to be one of these 'experts' you should at least have some experience and knowledge of the area you specialise in. After all, I've seen a disturbing number of former colleagues from my days as an intelligence analyst popping up on TV and in the press, claiming to be 'consultants' and talking absolute bollocks. But I was wrong - you don't have to know anything about the field you consult on. Indeed, you can completely make up an entire field of expertise, then convince organisations that it is vital they pay you to give them advice on it. 'Resilience', for instance.

Yes, that's right: resilience. I found out today that my employers have actually paid some consultant for advice on 'resilience' in the workplace. Really. They've even produced a handbook. I think, perhaps, that some elaboration is required here. The term 'resilience' is - as is often the case with consultants - being used inappropriately. What they are really talking about (in their handbook at least) is workplace stress and how, supposedly, to deal with it. Apparently, the sum total of their advice is to 'smile' when dealing with a stressful situation because 'when you smile, the whole world smiles with you.' Yup, that's it folks. Organisations are apparently paying consultants to tell them that gem of profundity. The next time I'm faced by a man waving a machete at me, (which has really happened - not in the office, obviously, but out in the field where I spend most of my working day), I'll remember to smile at him and it will, doubtless, be OK.

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Fringe Benefits

August at last! my favourite Summer month has finally arrived. Which can only mean one thing - it's that time of year when I start telling people that I'm going to spend part of my forthcoming Summer break at the Edinburgh Fringe with my one man show. Not that I actually do go to the Fringe, of course, but it's surprising how gullible some people can be. That's the beauty of the Edinburgh Fringe - everybody knows that just about anybody can and does go there, performing in pubs, cellars, even public toilets. Anything can become a venue, anybody can be a performer for a few days. Indeed, I have encountered a fellow resident of Crapchester who performed his stand-up comedy act there a couple of years ago. Having subsequently been forced to sit through part of said act as part of a captive audience in the lounge bar of the 'Ruptured Badger', the people of Edinburgh have my deepest sympathies. I can only assume his Fringe venue was a broom cupboard, as it would have been the only place he would have had a hope of selling out.

But back to my fictional one man show - what should I claim that it is about this year? The secret of selling this lie to the unwary is having a supposed show that actually sounds plausible. It's no good saying that you are doing a one man show depicting the life of Fatty Arbuckle, in which you play all the parts with a series of quick changes, for instance. It just sounds too contrived from the outset. Ideally, it should, in some way, be related to your work or some unusual life experience you've had. Such things are fertile ground for Fringe shows and many performers actually do use such a format, which will give your fictional show a feeling of veracity. Unfortunately, my work is too dull for this approach and nothing unusual ever happens to me. Which leaves The Sleaze as a possible basis for a one man show. Maybe I'll claim that I'm doing a show based on a story from the site - I Was a Sex Pest From Outer Space, perhaps? It sounds like the sort of thing you could spin a performance around. Maybe I'll go with that for my entirely non-existent Edinburgh Fringe show.


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Right Funny?

For various reasons too tedious to go into here, I recently had the misfortune to find myself looking at a self-styled 'satire' site which boasted of being a flag-bearer for 'conservative satire.' Now, leaving aside the fact that the words 'conservative' and 'satire' are surely mutually exclusive, this woe begotten site just served to underline the fact that right-wingers just don't 'get' satire. Instead of satirising their liberal targets, they just spew out a stream of bile and invective about them. There's no wit about it, no cleverness, no subtlety, no carefully constructed comic conceits. Just bile. They also don't seem to be able to discern between abuse and satire, or to be able to understand that offensiveness is not, in itself, satirical. Most depressingly, there were no 'ideas' whatsoever in this particular site's content, just rehashing of the same tired old right-wing conspiracy theories and scare stories, all served up quite uncritically.

Like many of these supposed 'conservative satire' sites, rather than producing satire from a conservative perspective, (which is actually what most of the 'establishment satire' in the UK does), it simply trots out party political propaganda. Their unwillingness to subject their own 'side' to any kind of satirical scrutiny makes them so relentlessly one-sided that they're virtually unreadable. Besides, if you are describing yourself as a 'conservative' then the odds are that you favour the status quo, which is surely antithesis to a true satirist, who are usually iconoclasts, always suspicious of vested interests and the established order. But that's the the funny thing: the right always likes to portray itself as the underdog on the rare occasions it finds itself out of power. Which, of course, is a fundamentally dishonest position. As I've noted before, satire should be in the service of the powerless and take the empowered as its primary target. Which is something the right can never do. Which, in turn, is why their attempts at satire are so bloody awful.