That pure Cane Spirit since 1848.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Re the comments from the last thing a fortnight ago. You know, the panto thing, the last article, that one down there. Below. And also your wonderful wishes for my seasonal success.
I cannot tell you all how pleasant it was to read them yesterday in the library. Not my library, it’s being remodelled right now, no, the public library. I was in Perth yesterday so I couldn’t resist it. Had to. It’s odd how attached I’ve gotten to you all. My nearest and dearest can go hang but I must check on my correspondence.

Fatmammycat your kiss is sweet. As sweet as candy. A full on fantasy etheric snog that’ll take me months to get over. Just like that time at the works do four years ago (ask Kim if you don’t believe me) when this young thing came up to me and gave me a hell of snogging. It came, if I’m honest, as a terrible shock but in a really really good way. (least said soonest mended) Come on, we’ve all done it.

SheBah, you’re right, but as Kim points out, Panto goes on almost to February. It’s the English way. Anyway, it’s all there ready for us, the photocopier, the drink, all of us in fancy dress; we know what’s going to happen. It’s like taking us all off on a Spanish holiday. The food, the lavatories, the unfinished hotel, the language, topless sunbathing, Ambre Solaire, shall I do your back? …

Sam, (a’chaileag òg phosda dhuilich)

Bliadhna Mhath Ur ! Bho’n Dotair.

Slàinte Mhath! Etc. and so on. Yer a guid hertit gurril and that’s a fact. Yer no’ bad lookin’ neither, which is always a bonus.

Pat you gave us kir and changed our lives forever. There’s nothing more to say except to send you my deepest gratitude for such an inspired concoction. The human hand is a harbinger.

Daphne I bet you can rumba like a champion. I for one would love to see it. I, by the way, am a fantastic Latin dancer especially the mamba (that’s the dirty one) and one day I feel sure we shall take the floor and show those silly Wallonians and Flems the meaning of bonding. We’d be like araldite, us. Maracas! Shake ‘em!
(FMC, I’m only flirting, It’s the season for it.)
(Daphers, am in Toulouse 15 to 18 January. Any good?)

Eryl, I have passed your succinct comments to your tutor. A distilled piece of English prose at its best. Should you receive course credits for it, I shall expect an acknowledgement. There WILL be eggnog a-plenty.

Savannah our southern belle. It’s odd to me to think of you out in nice warm air while we dodge the wet rain and flu germs. I know YOU believe, it’s the rest of the doubters that bother me.

I also see now that it was Daphne that went on about the next episodes and not SheBah. Oh me miserum! well. It’s too late to change it now, you’ll just have to sort yourselves out and that’s that!


Ps, happy new year etc, to
Bock, Knudsen (and his shrapnel), Kim, Footsy (all of them) and all the gang.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In Celebration of the Birth of The Saviour

A Yuletide Mummery !
In Three Acts.
Performed in the English Tradition

* * *
Sexual Innuendo
Grande Finale with Father Christmas and His Reindeer
(Weather Permitting)

Act one.

In which Mr Ayres persuades Mr Bananas to hold an office party.

It was a quiet time in practice, and our household equilibrium was upset with the expensive preparations of the season. Mrs Maroon had gone so far as to employ the services of a local department store who that very morning had sent round a fine strapping lad recently arrived from Poland called Stanislav, with a basket of decorations and half a pit prop festooned with fir cones. If I would leave them to it she said, they would start decorating the tree. Stan could get his magnificent balls out and she would show him where to put his firry log. And so, at a loose end, I found myself once more in Baker Street at the door of my friends, the celebrated investigator, Mr Gorilla Bananas, and his assistant Ayres.

Even here in the Great Metropolis, I mused, the Spirit of Christmas had touched all in his eternal message of hope. The cheerful beggars, (God bless yer, Guv’nor!), the barefoot urchins playing hopscotch in the snow, all rosy cheeks and wrapped up warm in coal sacks, and the red mail coach rumbling by with a fat coachman blowing his bugle on top. What a picture, I thought with a smile; perfect! I pulled the brass knob for 221 and heard the first fourteen notes of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” ring out inside the house.

Mrs Hudson was clearing away the remains of a fulsome breakfast.

“Ye’ll be coming to the soiree doctor, will ye no’? I’ve two plum puddings yonder in my pantry, soaking in brandy the noo. Dr Watson always says my duff is the sweetest he’s ever…”

The last words were lost as the kind-hearted Scottish housekeeper closed the door.

“Ah, Maroon! Thank goodness.” said the marvellous ape in welcome, “Perhaps now we’ll have a little sanity round here.”

I heard a snort, and on turning round, there was Ayres, in his corner making adjustments on a curious machine, the like of which I had never seen before.

“What’s this?” I asked.

Ayres paused, staring at me, then explained:

“It is a device for replicating documents in facsimile form using cutting edge photographic techniques.” he all but sneered. “It is for important documents. You put the document face down on this glass plate here, shut the lid, then turn this handle six times and a replica document comes out this slot here…”
“What does this do?” I asked, pointing to a short lever painted green
“Don’t touch that Maroon!” exclaimed Ayres in his worried way, but it was too late, I’d already pulled it.

There was a loud flash of magnesium followed by a theatrical puff of white smoke which poor Ayres inhaled.

“Idiot!” he coughed, and trailing wisps of vapour, he stumbled over to the sideboard for a sherry and two mince pies, to steady his nerves.

I turned the handle six times, and sure enough a sheet of paper emerged bearing the remarkable image of a human hand!

“Where’s the document?” I asked.

Gorilla Bananas, who had witnessed these proceedings from his favourite seat by the fire, slapped his knee with a chuckle and said:

“By Jove Ayres, you’ve convinced me. We shall have that party after all and Maroon, you must come. It will be like old times.”

Ayres for his part, made no comment.

Because he was eating.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

5 Harry Potter films

Things I have noticed.

Emma Thomson and the big Irish actor with the mechanical eye; by far their best performances in any film.

Ralph Fiennes as well. Very good as voldemorte. All the spells are Franglaise-Latin. Have you noticed? E.g., “speculo-repairo will repair one’s spectacles. Also as the films have gone on, the money Warner Bros. spend on effects has gone down, miserable bastards. Ron Weasley’s sister must be out of contract because she hasn’t said one word for two films and Shamus hasn’t grown a single inch in seven years. The two Weasley twins get on my nerves, as did the Chinese girl’s Glasgow accent. (that’s MY material), anyway she’s blown it by grassing off her friends. Sneak! Oh I know she was truth-potioned, but Christ, you don’t grass on your mates. If she was true Glasgow she would have known that. That quidditch game. It would make more sense if you only got thirty points for catching the golden snotter. What’s the point otherwise? A team could be played off the park and be down 140 to nothing but then catch the flying golf ball and they win the game by ten points? Real kids would go crazy apeshit at such an injustice. Rowling must never have been picked for games at her school. And what happened to Hufflepuff and Ravensclaw? A house called Ravensclaw has balls. That’s the one I’d be in. Hufflepuff? No way! If that scabby hat said Hufflepuff to me? It’s obviously the gayest house in town. And what about Draco Malfoy? In real life he’d be taken aside by the other boys and given the hammering of his life, a beating so bad that his parents would come to Hogwarts to demand an explanation and Dumbledore would give them tea and explain “just high spirited young lads, if you don’t like it, there’s a perfectly good school down the road. A Protestant school.” and that would be that. Least said soonest mended.

Alan Rickman steals every scene.

So does Hermione Granger.

Ron Weasley couldn’t act to save his life but Harry’s getting better, except that in the last one, the goblet of fire, he had a six pack which was a bit disconcerting in a fourteen year old boy-virgin who still eats liquorice and Bertie Bongo’s all-flavour beans. Quite like Michael Gambon’s Forest of Dean accent.

Monday, December 10, 2007

for the delay folks.

Got sidetracked.

I'm on the case. Truly.

Been, well you don't want to know what i've been doing.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

At Culloden, the path leads to a little monument; a rough obelisk just 10 or 12 feet high. The entrance to the graves is on the left of it.

Each family has their own mass grave. They are all different sizes but similar in shape. They are long simple ovals, piled four feet high with loose stones from the hills. There is a slight overgrowth of tough grasses and gorse round the edges but it’s not invasive. Because of the lie of the land and the fact that they are different sizes, the row of graves is not straight, but follows a curve, more pronounced at the far end. Each has a rock headstone with the family name and the number of men. Our family is the first grave.

Even for Culloden, the weather was turning bad. It would neither rain nor snow nor even blow from a steady direction. We found spaces in the stones for our broom, setting them among a half dozen or so bunches already there, and anchored them in the loose cairn against the wind. We had just stepped back from doing this when two hikers appeared; walking from the far end of the row of graves.

They gave me the impression of a married couple in their thirties, hiking in the hills for an Easter break. They were certainly dressed for it. My uncle took the torch from me and put it in his other coat pocket and we stood off the path, backs to the wind, hands clasped in front of us like undertakers, watching them march towards us.

As they passed, my uncle smiled and cocked his head at them in greeting, as if to say, ‘Afternoon, fine day for a walk.’ which given the odd circumstances and his hat brim flapping in the gale, was very Uncle Charlie. They nodded back through the wind as if replying ‘Yes, a fine day, most bracing.’

“Give them a minute, then go and see if they get in that other car.”
“Whoever came up here in that car must be somewhere, go and see if it’s them.”

He moved off down to the end of the row looking for litter to pick up, as he always did. There was never any litter up here. Just once before, he had found a coke can on the path which he put it in a litter bin with great satisfaction. I went back the ten yards to the monument. It was well sheltered from the wind by a wall and I wondered about lighting a cigarette. I put my head round the entrance to look down to the carpark. The kids had gone and the hikers were putting wet cagoules and walking poles into the boot of the remaining car. I took the opportunity for a cigarette after all. I’d hardly got it lit when Charlie’s hat bobbed round the far curve of the path.

Waiting for him to come back up the line, for something to do, I scanned the other bunches of broom placed in the grave. There was one with a dried sprig of rowan complete with red berries, that caught my eye. I remembered the trees, one set in each corner of his garden, and I knew it to be Jack’s.

“It was their car.”

He took the torch out his pocket and circled our grave, shining it every now and then into the wider cracks between the big stones. I thought he was still looking for litter, perhaps cigarette ends, and thanked God that at the first sight of him coming back, I had flicked mine high into the air, to be carried off forever in the wind. He spoke to me over his shoulder.

“Are they still there?”
“Is what still there?”
“The hikers.”
“They were loading up.”

Next, he shone the light in the rough grass round the base of the pile, walking all the way round. Deciding he was happy with that, he switched the flashlight off and handed it back to me, to carry for him, - again.

He patted my shoulder.

“Let’s go, it’s bloody Baltic up here.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It must have been well after five, nearer six, when we arrived. The visitor centre was closed and there were only two other cars in the carpark. He parked into the wind and we got out to get our coats from the back of the car.

We struggled in the wind, gathering our bits and pieces together, sheltering under the tailgate which threatened to come down on us in the wind. We pulled on coats and scarves and gloves, and I noticed that Charlie slipped the small parcel inside his jacket and jammed the jiffy bag into a big overcoat pocket where it stuck out the top. All that remained was for us to take our broom and palms up to the grave and I was shuffling from foot to foot, but my uncle was still rooting in the back of the car, opening little hatches looking for something.

“What are you looking for?”

My voice sounded strange.

“A torch, it’ll get dark quick with the low cloud.”

I looked around at the surrounding hills. It was always bitter cold up here and always overcast with the smell of snow, but I thought we had a couple of hours left.

“You’ve got good eyes, is there anyone in that white car?”

I peered into the wind.

“Yeah, there’s some kids in it.”
“What about the other one?”
“No, it’s empty.”

I mistakenly thought it was vanity had prompted the question for he immediately put on a wide-brimmed canvas hat, a Tilley hat, which he fastened under his chin with broad tapes. It did not go well with the rest of his dress which was now, suddenly, very formal.

He found his big flashlight and handed it to me to carry, then shut the tailgate which slammed in the wind.

The bunches of broom shone vivid yellow in the strange light of the approaching squalls. I was worried that the wind would strip the blossom off them but they were early, tough little blooms. I had incorporated a dried thistle in my bunch along with the palm, folded into a cross. My uncle’s spray, bound tight with black ribbon, had only the simple palm cross. With the wind gusting from our left, we took the flinty path to the graves.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Jack paused for a second then advanced on my uncle. He took hold of Charlie’s arm, one hand doing the handshake while the other gripped his bicep as if testing my uncle’s strength. Charlie did the same, and they stood there shaking hands in this four-handed way. At the time it struck me as continental. The physicality. Here in a Scottish kitchen it seemed especially warm and affectionate, an embrace almost.

“I knew you’d come today, with it being Easter Sunday as well.”

My uncle nodded and indicated me with his thumb, like a hitchhiker.

“My nephew, this is him, you remember, Kenneth’s youngest.”
“Is he? Well, well. How do you do?”

Jack reached out his hand with a sudden, wide grin.

Some months before, a girl I was pursuing had introduced me to her brother as a friendly precaution. He was a roof tiler and had unnatural, hard, callused hands. So had Jack. In that childish habit young men have, I immediately put Jack under the heading: Right Hardy Bastard. And on that subject, I confess here that on Jack’s first appearance through the kitchen door, a shallow snobbery I had been indulging at university led me to believe that he might be an employee of the house. It was shameful and these years later I still wince.

He sat us at the kitchen table and without asking, poured out three glasses from a red bottle. I could smell it was rum, the old fashioned kind, like rum truffles. He put the same again of plain water in each glass and set the jug on the table. We all said cheers.

“What’s in the box: hamper from Fortnum’s?”

He meant the Campbell’s Soup box on the worktop.

“Don’t get excited, it’s just a bottle and some stuff for Hilda. Where is she?”
“She’s in town shopping.”

My uncle nodded again and for the next half hour I sat largely forgotten, feeling the rum in my circulation and comfortable in the company of the two men, old friends so at ease with each other. We had two refills each; I remember that because I was counting. Then Jack asked if we had been to the grave yet and Charlie said no, we were on our way, then he asked if we needed any broom and Charlie said no we had plenty, then they both looked out the window and a silent decision was made that we should be making tracks.

“How long are you up for?”

They had turned to face me. I composed myself to answer. As they waited, Jack started grinning again. It was a simple question, but before I could, my uncle answered for me.

“He leaves for France on Wednesday.”
“I see. Driving?”
“He’ll be stopping in Glasgow on the way.”
“I see, right.”
“Won’t you?”

It took me a second to realise that I had been asked another question. I was keen to have someone answer for me for I’d lost the inclination to speak. I somehow managed.

“Yeah, I’m going back down through Glasgow.”

We were standing now, preparing to leave. Jack bent into the cupboard under the sink and came up with a large yellow Jiffy bag and a small parcel that for some reason I took to be a book.

“Nearly forgot. Here’s that thing you asked for.”

He handed them to my uncle, who showed no surprise when I think about it, putting them both under his arm.

“Thanks Jack.”

I watched from the car as the two men said goodbye on the doorstep. I remember thinking, Christ the way they’re going on, handshaking and pawing each other, it’s like the French Resistance or something. All I got was a wave and that grin again.

We were quiet in the car, my uncle and I, heading south, it was getting dark and cold and even in the car I think we sensed the wind had changed. The heater was on and the wipers were making the odd swish as the first drops of rain hit the screen and it seemed an age till the tick-tock tick-tock of the indicator brought me out of myself in time to see the signpost, as we turned off the highway and took the lonely road, up the hill to Culloden.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The True Cross

had an uncle called Casimir who we called Charlie. There’s nothing unusual in that, all Scots have an Uncle Casimir. They are the ones who travelled and never married. Royal or Merchant Navy or sometimes with a remnant of the Imperial Service. They fetch up in rural pubs on Sunday afternoons wearing Harris jackets and cravats. Railway administrators, state veterinary people, public health types inspecting the sewers in old Kowloon. It’s their natural element.

Anyway, one April, a good few years ago now, it also being Easter Sunday, he and I were driving up to Culloden with our broom and our palms and it was getting darker by the minute but nothing would do but we must go past our turnoff and drive into Inverness to see some acquaintance of his before we went up to the grave. I like to think now that I kept any impatience to myself, but I was younger then so I probably moped, at any rate he must of noticed because he chivvied me up explaining that it was a short errand and we should have the other business of the day done in plenty time for a drink and steak pie in the pub later.

“I just want to drop in and see Jack. He’s retired now. It won’t take a minute.”

My academic year had finished at Easter and I had invited myself for a long weekend with my uncle before leaving for France with some college people for a month or two of lotus eating. At that point, those were the full extent of my plans.

On the outskirts of Inverness we pulled in to the drive of a substantial Victorian villa but rather than stop, my uncle followed the gravel driveway round the side of the house to the rear, pulling up close to the back door. He had switched off the engine and was out at the tailgate of the car rummaging in the back while I was still putting my jacket on. By the time I reached the door of the house, he had joined me with a Campbell’s Mushroom Soup box under his arm. He gave the softest of knocks on the door and walked straight in calling hello as he went.

I should explain that my uncle was an old fashioned man of the country. On my way up on the Friday night, I had collected his stores from the village shop. In the age of the supermarket carrier bag, I found a strange pleasure that here in his village, groceries were still packed loose in cardboard boxes. It was one of these boxes that he now put on the kitchen worktop just as Jack came through the other door.

Friday, November 30, 2007

y pictures today show the hellish fate that awaits any Bear Believer who enters the land of the Infidel.

a) decapitalisation with extreme prejudice using a giant CD sliding drawer

b) the body is then laid out for the dogs and crows

c) the body is packaged ready for deportation back to heathen-land post sentence

Monday, November 26, 2007

I got nothin'.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

You wanna piss?
What’s that?
You wanna piss?
No I don’t ! Thank you.
Whatabout the liedy? She wanna piss?
I’m fine thank you.
You sure? No wanna piss ?
Quite sure.
Well the lovely bambinas, THEY wanna piss!
SURE they do! They ALWAYS WANNA piss!
Right that’s it…
Pissa cake? They ALWAYS wanna pissa cake. We gorrit all. What kinda piss you wan’?

Bloody foreign waiters!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I’m sitting reading an old Pilot when by the pricking of my thumbs…

‘Dad? Can you “look at” my homework?’

‘Absolument!’ (I live for these times) ‘When’s it due back?’


(fuck) ‘Get it out then. What is it?’

An eternity as a rucksack is dragged in then rummaged through. The tension’s killing me. Edmund Hillary never had such a backpack.

‘It’s about dividing and percentage.’

‘What’s holding you up with it? Is it crossing down the remainder?’

‘Crossing down the…what’s that?’

‘It’s quite straightforward. I’ll show you, but first, we should return to first principles. Number Theory!’ (a joke)

A shadow of disappointment on the fairest of faces. His hair’s too long and curly for a tenyearold. It’s girlish. Three of his fingernails are black; what’s he been up to? He’s leaning over the table. There is no smell of woodsmoke or petrol or larceny coming off him. He points to the photocopy:

‘Em, we’ve to put the workings in the spaces.’

‘So I see’

‘Without a calculator!’

‘Precisement. That’s as it should be.’


He’s close enough for me to check the cleanliness of his ear. I bet his pockets are a disgrace. His shoes are.

‘Say you were on a desert island.’

‘That’s what Mrs Wilson said!’

‘Who’s Mrs Wilson?’

‘My teacher.’

‘What, the one with the pony tail?’

‘Why would we do percentage on an island?’

I feel almost compelled to touch the top of his nose where his frowns meet, just to see what it feels like.

‘What happened to Mrs Thompson?’

‘That was last year.’

‘If you were on a desert island there’d be no batteries for a calculator.’

‘It doesn’t need batteries. See? If you put your finger over this bit, it goes off.’

‘What happened to your fingernails?’


‘Say it [the calculator] went down with the ship. What would you do then?’ ( kids really hate a smart ass )

‘Well it’s just…numbers.’

‘Ah yes, you say that, but could you divide 576 oranges by 24 miles per hour?’


‘This first one is 576 divided by 24, so to start, we say: How many times will 24 go into 57?’


‘Cover the 4 and the 7’


His mother comes in and puts on the kettle. I stop the torture. I put on a creepy moaning voice:

‘Oh NO! The Mummy Returns!’ (his favourite film)


He’s trying not to laugh, trying to stay cross, but it’s too late. I’ve stood up with my arms out in front of me like a sleepwalker.


I grab his jumper as he runs for the door. I’ve got my arm round his neck in the death grip. I whisper in his clean ear:

‘The death grip of the Pharaoh, little one. Don’t move; your neck might snap.’

He keeps wriggling and sniggering in spite of himself. I know this sort of malarkey between us will end soon. Next year, next week.

‘Ugh, you’ve been smoking! Mum! He’s choking me! Mum!’

‘She cannot help you now.’

Recently, I am more conscious not to take these things too far, so I release him back to the hated homework. But a light bulb has come on over his head. Ping.

‘I’ll get Mum to help me.’

‘What good would she be on a desert island?’

‘She got the bonfire going.’

‘Yeah, with firelighters. I don’t think desert islands have a corner shop. Anyway I meant if you were on the island and she wasn’t.’

‘I’ll ask Mum.’

He smiles in a cheeky victorious way. Total victory. His stuff is scattered everywhere. He turns to plead his case with her. Anyone can see the answers to the first two are roots, ie 24 and 36.

‘You’ll get no help there Sunny Jim! She did history or something; so she says! Go on then, take the path of least resistance! See if I care! You’ll be back!’

Behind his back, Mum gives me The Vics. His lack of numeracy is a shocker.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Broadsword calling Danny Boy, Broadsword calling Danny Boy, come in, over?

Now, let’s say it like Richard Burton.

Right to the back of the room everyone! With me.

Brawd-sawd cawlling Danny Bhoy, Brawd-sawd cawlling Danny Bhoy, come inn, Danny Bhoy.

And rest.

Very good.

See? That’s what makes Where Eagles Dare the crackerjack film it is: the rich Welshness of Richard Burton’s bloodshot eyes. That and Clint Eastwood’s machine gun. The one with the never-ending supply of homing bullets.
The book on the other hand, is torture. One of MacLean’s worst. On paper it’s got it all. Alpine setting, treachery, Germans, even cable cars for God’s sake! You cannot beat a good cable car scene. Just thinking about a cable car scene makes me feel funny, throw in some Germans and I might faint. And yet, and yet, the book is awful. I know, I just read it.
I hid it inside the cover of “Hot Gas Flow And Other After Dinner Tales” by Mayhew [one, long, murdered, darling, later] where were we? Oh yes, where eagles dare the book discuss. Fukkit. The time the cuppa the biscuit I’m off.

Back again (buttered scone and a jammy dodger)

What it needs is some Celtic mysticism along the lines of Sam’s glen of the dead. Imagine, they make it down the mountain, they’ve blown up all the cable cars, shot all the Germans, now they’re in the bus with the snowplough crashing through roadblocks on their way to rendezvous with the escape plane, but they go up the wrong road in the dark, they follow the lighthouse beam thinking it’s a signal, they pass the standing stones…

Now THAT story’s got legs. Am I wrong? Am I wrong?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

30 Second Cinema.

Take a film break every day with Dr.(Doccy) Maroon.

The Big Lebowski [cont. perf.]

This aggression will not stand.

The old man told me to take any rug in the house.

It’s a league game, Smoke.

Don’t say people, I’m doing business here.

My wife’s a pain in the ass, she’s always bustin’ my friggin’ haggis.

As Brandt is my witness.

I could be sitting here with just pee stains on my rug.

Brother Shamus.

No Donny, these men are nihilists, nothing to be afraid of.

Two oat sodas Gary.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

You may be interested to know that we have a trophy stove. In the same way that Mrs Maroon is a trophy wife even though we’re not married, our stove is a status symbol even though we can’t cook. Just before he put the house on the market, the previous owner installed it. Oh clever clever man. The cynical bastard never thought to fix the medieval wiring or upstairs plumbing. Sod that for a lark.
It’s not like other stoves. For a kick off, it’s English and has its own enamelled inspection man. He comes in a very smart van and wears a tie. You only get what you pay for. Jealous visitors to the kitching studiously avoid looking at it, except those who also have a trophy stove who therefore must remark on it, to show, well you know what I mean. Catholics, Etonians and Oxbridge graduates have a way of telling you within 30 minutes. Same with trophy stoves. It’s called the half hour rule.
To confirm stove ownership, the opening gambit is usually a recipe for something complicated. This never works with us because we never know what she (it’ll be the woman) is talking about. So the man, to save any conjugal abuse in the car on their way home, will come to her aid by getting technical about servicing the inlet manifold regularly. This doesn’t wash with me because I am technical. In fact I have a degree in technical from Cambridge for which I said many rosaries (Let Eton Flourish).
So it’s due an inspection for the good housekeeping seal of approval or something which means I spent last night, FRIDAY night, cleaning it with non abrasive cleaning solutions. Since we are irretrievably working class, we couldn’t have the chimney sweep going next door afterwards saying what clatty middens we were.
“That Mrs Maroon ‘ad ‘arf a pork chop stuck down ‘er diverter plate. Disgrace it was.”
Good lord no. So when he has his tea, Mrs Maroon will scorch some Marks and Sparks all butter shortbread with a blowlamp to pass it off as her own, and I shall know he has done FA because I’ve done it already, using the handy toolkit and spout brushes provided. The kitchen is now a total coup but the stove is ready. We shall eat pot noodles to keep it clean until he’s gone.

Friday, November 09, 2007

They say it might rain Tuesday.

They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard.

You human paraquat!

The airplane has crashed into the mountain.

What a piece of work is a man.

Colin’s been abducted.

The shit’s in the fan.

Yeah by a crocodile or something.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Late night on Watling Street.

Radio Scotland traffic update: a loose tarpaulin on the southbound Forth road bridge which has been causing major delays has now been removed…

Bert Scoggins pressed his heavy boot further into the wooden floor eking every horsepower from his grumbling Bedford. If he could just make the border and the A6 before nightfall. Four tons of tractor parts lashed on the back of his three tonner. Rush job. If the rozzers stopped him now… He peered through the split screen at the bridge up ahead, hypnotised by the wipers and the protesting whine of the crash box straining in third and the thought of Elsie and her tea urn waiting for him in the caff at Shap.

He’d parked overnight in a bombsite just off the Fife ring road and as he slept, a gang of motorcycle thugs employed by a rival haulier had undone all his half hitches, retied his ropes in running sheepshanks and let 2 lb of air out one of his rear wheels into the bargain.
“That’ll sort you out Granddad.” sneered Spike, the gang’s leader, “Right, let’s scarper, we’ll meet at the milkbar on the B672 just before the bypass and then we can do a ton-up down that long straight that runs outside the children’s T.B. and polio hospital.”
“That’ll wake ‘em up!” agreed Snot, revving his BSA Goldstar threateningly.

Now in the grey morning, as his grey lorry stubbornly shoved its way through the grey Scottish weather, Bert, the tough cockney ex-soldier in his ex-army lorry took a woodbine from his flying jacket and smoked it. “Blimey,” he thought, “wind’s getting up.” He never heard the tarpaulin slip its bindings, to be blown off and land catastrophically on the southbound A90 behind him, blocking a major thoroughfare and arterial route vital to the economic wellbeing of the nation.

Commuters on the bridge, panicked by the sight of 10 square yards of green canvas lying silent on the asphalt, have stopped to await emergency instructions. Luckily a dashing engineer, on his way to an important meeting takes command. To the astonishment of onlookers, he ignores the risk of getting oil on his tie and drags the tarpaulin to the side, rolls it up a bit and dumps it over the railing onto the footpath where it will no doubt wrap itself around some poor pedestrian or cyclist and suffocate them to death. As the traffic starts moving again, the dashing engineer is alarmed to see in his mirror, that the tarpaulin comes to life again, rearing up in the wind, shaking its ropes in fury at him, but the wind, ever a fickle mistress, pulls the monster over the side to a watery grave, far, far below.
“Phew!” he thinks. “That’s that.”

250 feet below, the supertanker BP Hapag Lloyd III is making its way down the Forth from Grangemouth with 200 000 tonnes of high octane aviation gasoline for light aircraft and 150 000 tonnes of ethylene gas. The Forth River Pilot has control and is pointing out the normal hazards to the vessel’s master…

Monday, November 05, 2007

Maroon Island 2.

For more than a decade every bit of me was as hard as your elbow. I weighed in at 10 stone 13. (153lbs US). Pristine I was. Solid. If he had seen me, Michelangelo would have smashed up all his statues. And stamina! At the stamina, I was just sublime. I could run with the impala.
So it was around this time one Sunday afternoon that Mrs Maroon and I were reading the aspirational supplements and I found an article on Japanese naked food eating. There’s all these pot ugly Japanese company men in well cut suits and they pay over their horrid filthy money to eat seaweed off the naked skin of some fine-boned mathematics graduate (more often than not with delicate pert breasts). The degradation is so awful on every level you can think of.
The Japanese are pathetic. Oh, on the surface everything’s all neat and tidy, but I wouldn’t mind a look in their washbags. I bet every one is all gungy with old toothpaste tubes and hairy razorblades just like ours. What mingers they are.
So anyway we had a bit of a discussion about all this and the upshot was that I was sent up the street to the shops to get strawberries and a can of Anchor whipped cream. Yep. You’re there ahead of me.
I sometimes worry that today’s young people (who invented sex) get too many of their ideas off the internet. Woe to us if they do; it’ll be the end of love as we know it. We shall be like the beasts of the field, thoughtlessly rutting for status and that most transient of empty pleasures, procreation. We will flip, just like Spock did in that episode where he sat up the tree and played his space-banjo.

Friday, November 02, 2007

So you rode upon a steamer
To the heartland of the summer

That’s the trouble with midweek drink; it gives you such optimism. Our aesthetic bar is lowered. It’s like full five senses beer goggles on steroids. Up to the bathroom for a pee and the scent of toothpaste and face creams and shampoo and so on; it’s so evocative; the world is NOT a bad place, it’s a NICE place, full of nice people, just like us. (If you’re reading this Twenty Major please be assured I would beat you at arm wrestling, left or right. I have the arms of a blacksmith). Then there is the company. No matter who they are or what weird philosophy they follow, they are the best of company for the duration. Under no circumstance shall I betray my own ethos (in all its moral perfection) but I may indulge their flawed beliefs for the hell of it.
I of course, have suddenly become The Wise Seer Of The World. It’s such a privilege, an honour; I must not misuse My Gift. If I come out of this without a fat lip I will have done well. I’m on Torres 10 and Pepsi Max. It tastes better in Spain but who’s counting?
I could snog the face off Fatmammycat right now. I bet she smells really, really good. She’s a great kisser, I just know it. I am a seer.
Don’t fight it baby, we were destined…

And you see a girl’s brown body
Dancing through the turquoise
And her footprints make you follow
Where the sky loves the sea

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kim and Eryl and Pat and Justin and Devin have started an aural entertainment over at the storytellers blog.
Terribly good. Calming, exciting, fascinating, always pleasurable.
Like, check it out man. Press the button over on the right.
That's the way.

Monday, October 29, 2007

So, like, we had that panel I was talking about. Dick’s been suspended. That’s the long and short of it. Well, he was pretty rude to that girl. And, I grassed him up anonymously. It was for my own good. Stress works in mysterious ways. Caught him in the carpark jumping on cars. So I told him. Leave it man, they’re all tossers. I had to stop him. He was making a show of himself; what’s more, he was getting near my car. It’s only a Volkswagen but a car’s a car.
Another of mine enemies; for him the war is over; he is kaput

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

For sale: Old lady with unwanted Victorian carved legs.

This week there is a worrying story about a very tall thief working in partnership with a very small thief. Police say they are pulling out all the stops in their hunt for the men. They’ve been mugging the elderly in their homes in and around the Forteviot area.

The crime page reports the audacious theft of the church organ and pipes from Saint Angela’s, Main Street, Luncarty while the Rev Julie Maguire, 24, had been on retreat in Ibiza. A hard pressed Superintendent McGlinchey said they were leaving no stone unturned.

Also from the crime page comes the disturbing tale of a drunken postman from Errol who had stolen a road roller from the new flyover on the A85 and driven it at police officers injuring one of them to his serious endangerment. During the chase, the villain had the presence of mind to jettison some vital evidence in a pile of rocks on the construction site. A spokesman for Tayside Police said it was a worrying development.

An unknown sex offender has been using the photo booth at Perth bus station to photograph his exposed private parts then leaving the resultant strip of pictures in the machine for the next hapless user of the facility to find. Police are puzzled.

The so called “Cross Word” poison pen pest is still making life a misery for the residents of Abernethy. In an effort to catch the rancid riddler, CID officers have enlisted the help of a forensic scientist with a successful history of psychotic behaviour. Police say to be on your guard if think you know who he is, as he may be dangerous and should not be approached by members of the public.

And finally, on a lighter note, the owner of a Chinese restaurant in Bridge of Earn called Brian Murray, had the winning numbers in the lottery but forgot to buy a ticket because he was so busy cooking Chinese food. However, in his distress he found his lost mother’s wedding ring in a food mixer used for mixing the Chinese food that he sells in his Chinese restaurant. As family friend, Morag O’Donnell, 37, quipped: ‘It has been a “bittersweet” week for Brian!’

Monday, October 15, 2007

When you are born here, when you are only seconds old, the midwife asks for a glass of water or something to get the bystanders out the room and while your mother is distracted, perhaps looking at all that funky stuff on the sheets, the midwife takes you aside and performs a secret pagan association on you. She shows you the lid off a shortbread tin and tells you you’re Scotch and forever will be. It’s called imprinting. At this point you start crying.

From then on we are cursed, for all our lives, to be crashing bores about our mystical land of haggis. If you let us, we’ll tell you how we invented the atom bomb and the chandelier, penicillin, the bath plug not forgetting the steamship and the soup spoon. We become as welcome as a Rechabite at a highland wedding. The Greek tragedy is that we know we do it. We just can’t stop.

If you are foreign, you may have experienced us at first hand. Let’s say you are from Milwaukee on vacation driving across the Mojave Desert to the Joshua Tree National Park. You’ve borrowed a forty foot motor home and it is running like silk. It’s a duplex on wheels is what it is. Just the open road and the wife and you’re like teenagers again; you’re both wearing Stetsons for the hell of it. Made love on the roof last night under the stars, it just happened. She really does suit that hat. Up ahead in the distance, through the shimmering light, looks a good place to stop.

“Whatdya say honey? Shall we pull over for the day?”
“You’re the driver Hank.”

You downshift early just to hear the growl of that diesel; it’s like music, makes you feel good, makes you feel like Burt Reynolds in the Bandit films. As you pull in, you can’t stop grinning. This is turning into the best trip ever. There’s a mini mart for stocking up and a gift shop selling souvenirs made out of rattlesnakes. There’s a custom Peterbuilt with polished rims in the parking lot. You must get a picture of that. They’ve got cool shaded bays where you can plug in for the night, and the rest rooms and showers are as clean as an operating theatre. Best of all, there’s a grill restaurant and a flashing neon ‘Budweiser’ because suddenly you are hungry and you’d love a beer right now. Caught up in the moment, you put on your best John Wayne voice.

“I’m gonna have me the biggest steak - smothered in onions!”
“Gotta keep your strength up hon.”
“Care to join me for a beer ma’am?”
“Don’ mind if I do, pilgrim.”

By God you swear you love her more each day. She is the best, and you are the luckiest man alive. Your appetite is rumbling out of control as you enter in search of dinner. Coming in from the desert, the interior of the grill restaurant is impressive. There is a lot of cedar and maple and oak. They haven’t skimped. It is a distillation of the Continental United States in timber. Movie starlet waitresses carry plates piled with steaks and mashed potato, pitchers of beer, frozen martinis. The room is filled with the comforting background hum of a world now replete and thinking about another glass of wine. Here is America in repose, at peace with herself. Hey, we really lucked out, finding this place. Except. At the bar, two red-faced sunburnt Scotchmen with red arms and accents are explaining to themselves how they invented the jet engine, the aeroplane, the windscreen wiper, the doorknob…

“Honey, what say we press on? It’s only 300 miles to the next stop.”
“Amen to that.”

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bret and Gemaine and Joe Pesci

Me an’ Dick were standing at the cooler yesterday and I wasn’t on good form at all at all. Must say that straight off. He’d been trying to strongarm me over some accounting disaster and I wasn’t buying it. It’s typical of the man, discussing stuff like this in public, it’s right up his Clydeside expressway, he’s got no class.
So anyway there we were, shootin’ the shit, me with a face like thunder and up comes the office asshole. You know the type. All collar and cuffs; young go-getter smartipants straight out the college thinks they know it all; thinks everyone finds them funny; buffalo briefcase with brass buckles bastard.
As I say, I wasn’t in the mood.
So we clammed up while this young office wit grinned at us and bent down to fill one of those shitty paper cones with water, but that wasn’t enough was it? Oh no, Bozo the junior executive, she just had to make a comment about us.

“You two look like ‘flight of the conchords’ standing there.”
“You saying I’ve got a big fucking nose or something?”
“Sorry? I didn’t mean…”
“My nose is offensive to you?”
“That’s not what I…”
“Because you are no fucking Rembrandt my friend.”
“I meant the TV show.”
“Go on, take a fucking hike.”
“Keep moving - while you’ve still got some fucking teeth.”

Well, off she runs to The Mekon which is what we call the MD. The union’s up in arms about it and I might have to face a panel. I’m not bothered, I’ll tell them she had the painters in or something. Nice looking girl.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not a little discord in the household the other night. We were watching some cookery programme on the TV waiting for University Challenge to come on and I made a foolish remark. I’ve met Bamber Gasgoine twice. Once officially and once coming out the tube at Euston station. He remembered, which was most gratifying. It’s the little things. Anyway, back to the discord. I cannot for the life of me remember any of the recipes except a disgusting mixture made in the liquidiser for breakfast. It had a frozen banana and instant coffee powder in it. Grue. I can’t recall the recipes because I spent the whole programme wondering what it’d be like to have good kinky sex with the presenter. It wasn’t Gordon Ramsay. Obviously sex with Gordon Ramsay would be a foul mouthed tedious affair; he’s too working class for a start. Anyway I’m mildly homophobic, Jesuit schooling you see, so I find the whole gay thing upsetting and I don’t have the social sophistication to enjoy their company. Back to the discord. I wasn’t just wondering about those few blissful seconds of the actual sex, I was taking a holistic approach. I was wondering what perfume she might be wearing, how she’d look pulling off her tight sweater, she’d probably toss her hair and turn and gaze at me over her shoulder, would she fold her jumper or just throw it on the

“What’s up? You haven’t spoken for five minutes.”
“Sorry, what? I was miles away.”
“Like cooking do you?”
“I was wondering what it’d be like to have sex with her.”

Oh, fool, fool, one hundred times fool. When o when was blunt honesty the right course with a woman? Not only had I admitted the thought but also seemed to have reached the conclusion that having given it my consideration, sex with her would be very agreeable indeed. I couldn’t hide it. It was all over my face like guilty chocolate. I followed to her bedroom and she pulled back her fluffy duvet and lay down in all her naked yearning magnificence except for the briefest pair of flimsy

“You’re still doing it!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Look at her.”
“She’s a ridiculous slapper for God’s sake.”
“Face painted up and hips like…she should know better.”
“This isn’t even about food it’s soft porn for tits like you.”
“She is a famous cook.”
“Her puddings were good everything else is shit.”
“Give us a kiss.”
“Fuck off.”

Monday, October 08, 2007

I’m not one to draw attention to myself but in recent days I’ve noticed two separate references to Achilles the Superb, the great warrior of old They’ve been rather disparaging references to be honest and I won’t dishonour the guilty parties here, but perhaps Mr Ayres and Mr Bananas aren’t quite as smart as they sometimes think. Surely by now they know how sensitive I am regarding the name Achilles.
There now. That’s that.
We’re all friends again and we’ll say no more about it.
All I’m saying is some of us carry the burden of an altogether more iconic, some would say ridiculous, nominative. Every day some of us have to see it on our credit cards, our passports (I can not return to Corfu) and drivers licences. Try talking to someone when they’re staring at your security tag, reading and re-reading your name, mouthing it silently. The so-called friends who write out your name in full for the amusement of the postman even though you’ve begged them not to.
I mean, I think we’d all agree that I’ve been pretty supportive when Kim bemoans his name; I keep telling him straight that it’s common.
My father says that Gorilla Bananas may be the best essayist since Orwell. Well, could be, but he’s never getting on the South Bank Show with a name redolent of an East End Glasgow hood.
Walk a mile in my shoes my friend.
That’s all I’m saying.
Walk that mile.

Talking about the great English essay, I often wonder how that book got on.Remember the one they put together for charity last year? Yeah, how’s that whole thing going? I wonder how they are handling all that fame. Haven’t seen it on any reading lists yet, don’t remember it on the bookshelves down the supermarket. Yeah, wonder how that’s going. Yeah.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

So Tony Ryan dies and wakes up at international arrivals.

Angel: Thank you for flying Ruin-air…
Ryan: Very funny, is this Heaven?
Angel:…we hope you had a pleasant life.
Ryan: Yeah I get it. This doesn’t look like Heaven.
Angel: It’s near Heaven.
Ryan: Is it Purgatory?
Angel: We prefer to call it Heaven South.
Ryan: God help me, it’s not Hell is it?
Angel: No, but there’s a regular bus service.
Ryan: How regular?
Angel: Every Tuesday.
Ryan: You’re splitting my sides, where am I?
Angel: Limbo.
Ryan: I didn’t know you could fly to Limbo.
Angel: Neither did your passengers.
Ryan: What I mean is; how did I get here?
Angel: Again, a question your passengers have often asked.
Ryan: Look, let me speak to your supervisor.
Angel: Did you pre-order a supervisor?
Ryan: Please, no jokes; what do I do? How do I get out?
Angel: Alas, there are no return flights.
Ryan: Well what about an onward connection?
Angel: Full scheduled fare, cash only.
Ryan: Book me on it.
Angel: Please proceed to the designated waiting area.
Ryan: What about coffee?
Angel: There’s a vending machine.
Ryan: Now we’re getting somewhere.
Angel: It only takes doubloons.
Ryan: This is Hell isn’t it?
Angel: It’s Hell North…

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

No, they justa fall aparta.

Being tagged is sweet and sour. On the one hand, you’re invited to the wedding, thanks Eryl,
on the other, it suggests you’re not grand enough to refuse. The blogging greats, the heads of our order, never reply to memes. Stuck up ratfinks. That’s right Hutton, it’s you I’m talking about.

My seven blog rules.

Rule 1. Poetry. Don’t try it. I am a poet in the Classical tradition and have often tried to elevate the dismal lives of my blogging friends via that medium. They hate it. It’s not worth it; they can set you back years; so fuck them.

Rule 2. Swearing I wish you’d been here two years ago when we all swore like Mexicans. We went straight for the ‘C’ word. It was very liberating at the time. Everything and everybody was a ‘C’. It’s tailed off, now we know that Matron isn’t going to come bursting through the door and send us all back to bed. The very best of people swear like thunder sometimes.

Rule 3. Rants. Ranting is only valid when the target is valid. For example; mentally shouting at ditzy young women with too many children in SUVs parking in supermarket carparks. That’s right dearie, OPPOSITE LOCK when reversing. Yes petal, there IS a reverse gear. REVERSE. NO NO NO you’re doing it all wrong. Don’t look at me like that, it’s your fault for having all that sex in first place. Did you actually pass a driving test? OK poppet, you’ve parked, you can open your eyes now…

Rule 4. Musings. “musings” is the most common word in the Blogosphere (after “Blogosphere” and “I” and “me”). It implies wisdom. What pearl has our sage thoughtfully abstracted for our delight? Turns out The Sage is “musing” on his latent alcoholism and the hyperbolic curves to be found on intermediate compressor blades. Big fat hairy yawn! Is that a musing or a random thought that fell into your empty head? Keep it tight, people.

Rule 5. Flaming: most bloggers hate flaming. It doesn’t bother me, I like the whole thing about blogging, I don’t want to analyse why, I just like it. I’ve always wanted a resident flamer, it sort of means you’ve arrived. That’s not an invite, it’s got to be spontaneous.

Rule 6. The Harry Hutton Double Bluff Impasse.

Personally, I think warm-hearted sarcasm is the utter pinnacle of humour but virtually no one else shares this view. A lot is lost in translation and they can’t see the clever smirk on my face so they take it seriously and fire back their own witty sarcastic comment, but because I can’t see THEIR clever smirk and they are just plain rude and offensive I feel justified in escalating with a sharper wittier retort which they totally take the wrong way the petty bastards…

Rule 7. Mortals only. The BBC and other media groups now run blogs. This is totally counter to the whole idea. To them I say: You’ve already got an infinite outlet for your crap, leave us this bit for ourselves! Go on, piss off! You just don’t get it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Killer Fact!

Top five countries by per capita beer drinking.

1. Czech Republic 278.2 pints
2. Ireland 265.4 pints
3. Germany 216.6 pints
4. Austria 188.1 pints
5. Luxemburg 177.6 pints

OK so Luxemburg’s what we maths nerds call an anomaly. Let me explain; you and three of your friends stop off in Luxemburg and have a small refreshment; before you know it you’ve totally skewed the results. That’s right numb nuts, skewed, without the ‘R’. But look at Ireland! Big respeck. In the week that Scotland tops all the BAD polls for ugliness and obesity and early death and black depression and suicidal thoughts and the low self esteem thing, Ireland’s back up there in a GOOD top five, second time in a row. See what independence does? Look and learn Scotland. I’m surprised Britain never made it. In the north of England beer is all they drink, especially at lunchtime. Remember Pie and a Pint? You can still get that in England but not up here; up here it’s Pie and a Pie. I’m ashamed to say that the lunchtime pint is no longer a Scottish institution; The roads are safer, mind.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Killer Fact!

Top five per capita baked bean consumption by country.

1. Ireland 5.6 kg
2. Britain 4.3 kg
3. New Zealand 2.3 kg
4. USA 2.0 kg
5. Australia 1.3 kg

What’s Ireland thinking about? I’ve been to Ireland once or twice and I can’t remember baked beans on the menu. In fact I can’t remember seeing an Irishman eating beans. It doesn’t ring true. Irish cuisine is that strange modern European mixture of the welcoming native traditional and the mean stateless nouvelle. It’s as if they leap frogged from the optimistic sixties to the cool dude nineties missing out the fish fingered seventies altogether. So I can’t believe they eat all these beans. There’s been a mistake. No pun. Maybe they feed them to the horses.

Then there’s us. 4.3 kg is about 10 tins. Now I like beans, always have. I’m common, I can’t help it, I do like a baked bean, but I don’t eat 10 tins a year. Maybe I do. It’s certainly worth thinking about.

New Zealand. Doesn’t surprise me. What else they got? Nothing to look forward to, poor little kiwis. Beans on toast is still a treat to them.

USA, well we all know their diet is the pits so I suppose the baked bean is the only proper nourishment they get, big fat lumps that they are. They think they invented them as well but we know better don’t we?

Australia, that’s a surprise, don’t know why, but you’d think they would avoid beans just on a matter of principle. They’ve got a terrible cussed nature when they’re given time to think about anything, your average Australian, but the weather’s good or so I’m told. Round the coasts. Not inland; inland it’s all flies and sand and those big long road trains driving across the desert looking for backpackers to murder. Or so I’m told.
Spanish brandy and Pepsi Max and daytime TV…

is the abyss.

I’ve had a touch of peritonitis this week, or was it impetigo, pleurisy, typhoid? Who cares I can’t remember. That’s the trouble with duvet days; sickies to you and me. You see, the working class suffer such a poverty of ambition when we phone in sick on Monday mornings that we usually blame ‘flu’ or ‘upset stomach’. What a crock. Any manager will see through that in two seconds flat. Worse is getting the wife to phone in for you. Don’t be a simp. Stand up man. Grasp the phone and tell them straight you’ve got nodular brain pus coming out your ear and you’ll be in by Wednesday afternoon once you’ve seen your doctor. Always tell them you are going to the doctor whether or not. Then, when you limp in at 2.00 pm, immediately start moaning to anyone who’ll listen about the foreignness of Britain’s GPs and how the waiting room was full of smelly addicts waiting for methadone. Remember to ask off early, “so you can get your prescription before Boots shuts.” All this adds verisimilitude to your barefaced lies; any lingering suspicions about your weekend proclivities will be expunged and your boss will reconsider his cynical nature.
It’s totally win win

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blame Kim Ayres.

nterior: English newsagents circa 1982
Sound: background level “Blaydon Races”

Enter cheery faced paperboy shoplifting (as we all did) and getting caught by sourfaced newsagent.

Cue the Geordie accent.

Paperboy: Can ah have a coupla bagsa chew-dah oot me wages?

Surely the acme of British televisual advertising.

Up there with Cadbury Smash and putting a tiger in your tank and the man on the Hovis cobbled hill on the bike with no brakes. Actually I hated that one. As a child I really loved the polar bear on the Fox’s glacier mint and the polar bear in the Cresta adverts. I must have had a thing for polar bears, although now as an adult I’d shoot one without compunction. I’d shoot it twice. In the eye. And the cubs.

These days British adverts are totally, and I do mean utterly, CRAP. The only one I like was the recent campaign for MFI where ‘ordinary’ people are seen arguing at home, as we do, then it turns out they are in an MFI showroom. Oh how I smiled at that. To be fair it was done well. I liked the teenager coming home late and the older couple in bed, they both got a snicker out me. Still, I don’t need to buy a couch right now, so bit of a wasted effort there.

Note for Americans:

Chew-dah is Tudor, a defunct potato chip manufacturer which did odd flavours like hedgehog or mint sauce, you get the picture, it was when we were unsophisticated and less concerned with image; when we took ourselves less seriously; you know, way back then.
Newspaper boy from the north east of England: May I have two bags of Tudor in advance of my remuneration?
Cadbury Smash was instant mashed potato. It was considered groovy.
Tiger in your tank was Esso gasoline. Bengal tigers were liquidised and mixed in with the fuel at the refinery.
Hovis is bread with sawdust in it that sticks in children’s throats and makes them choke.
Cresta was a soft drink that was frothy man and came in weird colors.
MFI is a discount furniture warehouse. No one knows what MFI stands for.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Careful with that axe Eugene

was wondering why we all had knives as boys. First off was the availability. Every newsagent sold them. They had them on cards hanging up beside the pipe cleaners and those red petrol capsules for lighters. There were always three types and they ranged from about four inches long down to about an inch and a half for the really small kids. They had tartan or pearl handles or they were flat and silver, though those ones were dearer. I always liked the 2 ½ inch tartan handled ones. The perfect little penknife for little hands and little pocketsies. Second, they were cheap. They only cost pennies so were easily replaced. Thirdly, people were always giving you them as small treats, like crème eggs or postal orders. I got scout knives with tin openers on them, souvenir penknives with thistles or “Bonny Scotland” written on the side and, when I was ten, a visiting American aunt gave me the first Swiss army knife anyone had ever seen. My friends and I had never heard of the Swiss army and were enthralled by the tweezers and toothpick. It was almost James Bondian. We thought the scissors were girly but admired totally the workmanship in the overall package.
There was hours of enjoyment to be had with a knife. There was knifey. Knifey is played like twister. The object is to make your opponent do the splits or fall over. We’d play knifey on any bit of grass. Also you could make a knife blade venomous by sticking it in the eye of a dead cat. We would dissect worms quite dispassionately; there was no malice in it. At the seaside we could shuck mussels for bait quick as any fishwife. If you found yourself near a tree or on a bench especially in one of those shelters where old people sit on the promenade, you would carve out your initials on it. You did it without thinking; the brave bit was inscribing “loves S.M.“ below. Mmm, Susan McMillan, my first true love. Then there was whittling. To a nine year old boy, making a pointed stick is the essence of pleasure. When just right, you took the finished stick along the shore looking for jelly fish.
I still carry a penknife. I’ve lost a couple at the airport, I keep forgetting. Talking about that, not long after 911 I was queuing up behind this old pensioner you know the type, he looked like Harry Lauder and when he emptied his pockets into the tray, he pulled out the biggest penknife I’d ever seen. It was ancient. Of course they took it off him, he was furious so they took his lighter as well, he was totally bereaved. Silly old bugger, what was he thinking?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Funny how I find myself
Alone with you

In Iceland they’ve got this outdoor swimming lake that’s heated by geo thermals. They make a big thing about it but it’s quite pongy and disappointing actually. It’s a rotten thing to say but there it is. Sorry Iceland, but it’s true isn’t it?
There used to be an outdoor pool in every British seaside town. Arbroath had a great one, a big lido affair in white art deco concrete with ice cream kiosks and changing booths with saloon doors so you could see the girls’ pants coming down past their ankles. I think the kiosks sold toffee apples and candy floss as well.
Back then a small bottle of strange pop with a straw and a packet of salt ‘n’ shake crisps kept me happy for ages.
If I got two straws, so much the better.
The Clyde resorts were sub tropical in comparison to east coast Arbroath and our crisps and pop of a higher standard. At lunch there was always water and you weren’t allowed to dip your bread in the soup. The soup was never heinz tomato although I lived in hope. After lunch I was totally unsupervised. All the kids were. You ran across the railway line to get to the beach, the piers were all working piers with no handrails or anything gay like that, the rocks were lethal so we’d fish off them, they would hire you a motor boat by the half hour, on your own at nine years old, it took all your pocket money but was totally worth it. We were always standing on broken glass or rusty nails sticking out of driftwood or getting fishhooks stuck in our arms. All boys carried knives back then. I had a sheath knife with a tartan handle that I wore scout style on my snake belt. It had Red Indians stamped into the leather sheath. I was only eight or nine but you would have to have killed me to stop me wearing it. During the day everyone had factor a half Ambre Solaire rubbed on them and at night it was calamine lotion.
At night in the hotel for dinner, you had to be on your best behaviour which meant smiling and using the cutlery properly and keeping your mouth closed and your elbows off the table and not playing with your food even if it tasted funny and not staring at any old residents. You could tell the residents because they had hp sauce on their table at breakfast. Then you might be released to the arcade for an hour and more often than not it was off to see Johnny Beatty or Jack Milroy in some variety show. We saw Andy Stewart once which was as big a deal as Led Zeppelin.
What’s all this about? I’ll just tell you. I’m having a look through the archive. I’m clearing all statistical registers. Emptying the RAM. It’s full of stuff and if I don’t have a rake through every now and then, I’ll get Alzheimer’s and I won’t have any room left for the important things like this new blade geometry which looks counter intuitive but could increase efficiency by a full percent.
Tundra! That’s the word I was looking for. Never mind why. Yeah, tundra.

Friday, September 14, 2007

As the population of the world increases, so must our individual significance diminish. Is this is a worry? In Britain we are all to be bar-coded soon. Our DNA will be databased and we will carry identity cards like in the war against the Germans and our cars are to be satellite tracked and our dogs chip and pinned and all our towns c.c.t.v.ed and our stealthy movements in the bushes monitored by heat sensitive cameras in helicopters. None of this is an imposition but it does feel like it. Most of us aren’t murderers but in a free society we’d like the option and we’d like a sporting chance.

Another worry is that it’s the wrong sort of people that are increasing. They might come here and take our jobs. They can’t have mine because foreigners aren’t clever enough but they might get jobs as functionaries of these new databases. Foreigners have no idea that the whole strength of the British administrative system is the pernicketiness of our officials. They are virtually incorruptible.
It’s not like America where you can bribe any official with a few bucks and a dolly bird (Sopranos series 2 & 4) or eastern Europe ditto or Africa don’t get me started or Spain or Italy or any hot catholic country when I think about it, or the grasping Chinese or crackpot Indians with all that karmic shit going on, or heaven forefend your Islamist Arabic hellholes where nothing works, no, in north western Europe it is our little jobsworths with the pencil moustaches and the clipboards that actually make the place worth living in.

Otherwise it’s like Brazil. Not the country but the film by Terry Gilliam, which was good but not nearly as good as Napoleon Dynamite which was the best film ever but by someone else.


Bonzo goes to Bitburg and has time for a cup of tea
as I watched it on TV
somehow it really bothered me

In the week that ex First Lady and fine actor Jane Wyman [see above], died, Thatcher our ex prime minister was invited to Downing Street for tea with the Browns. This kind of revisionist shit really kills me. Just so we don’t forget: Thatcher and Reagan were nut bars. A Labour leader talking to Thatcher sucks ass.

pick up the pieces…

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Come on down to the river of sound

In about eight weeks or so, some time in November, we,
the cul de sac of the Maroon Diaspora, shall receive the
Fall Newsletter from our west coast American relatives.
We got the first of them in 1995. It was a shock. Not only

did the world not end at Kirkintilloch but we were exposed
as chronic under achievers.
Even the document itself drew astonished gasps. The production values were slick to say the least.
American flags, embedded photos, typefaces, it had it all.
It was the American Vogue of round robins.
Well, no.
Actually it wasn’t. When we read it, we scoffed.

We scoffed in our inverted snobbery. When we read of their success in school, on vacation, in real estate, did we feel pride however vicarious?
Uh-uh, being Scotch we ripped them to shreds.

‘ I’m surprised it doesn’t play “The Star Spangled Banner” when you open it.’ We smirked.
‘ Uncle Tommy passed a kidney stone - bit like reading this newsletter.’ We sniggered.
‘ It won’t win a Pulitzer.’ We sneered. We, who couldn’t string a note for the milkman.

Most uncomfortably for us guilty Scots, it had lots of brazen little catholic references to prayer and God and being blessed.
Our shame was exposed.
At the end of an uninterrupted line of Scottish Catholics with more than our share of rebel Irish mixed in, we, that is my sister brother and I, have been secret Taoists for years.

We’d never risk our souls with protestant Calvinism,
you have to draw a line somewhere, but we’ve turned our back on Mother Church.
I remember introducing Mrs Maroon to my parents, explaining that she prefered not to follow The One True Faith.

“Good for you!” they said in wonder, ” how terribly brave.“
Paradoxically, they think the sun shines out her ass which strengthens my belief that all Scottish are atheists.
We just pretend.
Not so our Americans. They have the evidence before them. Their faith works.

In the succeeding years we have grown to love the

Fall Newsletter as much as we always loved them,
our American branch, with their patriotism and their faith
AND all that real estate.
God bless them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

For Andraste.

In one of my levels of Hell, Andraste the Rabbit Girl comes through the door and she’s into the Bruins locker room and they’re all semi naked, horsing around, having a celebration with tons of Guinness and the Pogues are playing in the corner with the Dubliners or something…
as she moves through her throng of heroes, she notices that all the players are the ones who failed her beloved Broons in some way, the bush league wannabes, the ones who miss the puck, swiping at thin air like twats, the ones who couldn’t hit a barn door, the injury prone, the druggies, the useless ones that can’t pass, block, fight, or just plain skate and should never have been permitted to put on a sacred Bruins shirt in the first place! And the good looking ones are gay and bitchy and the rest are weedy or fat and now that she’s looking, they are all like GI Joe ‘down there’, they got nothing, nada, and the Guinness is actually a fake concoction of root beer and coca cola and big mental Shane the Pogues front man has been soberised and he’s combed his hair and pressed his jeans and has perfect teeth and is singing about puppy dawgs and it’s not the actual Dubliners but a shit tribute band called the Dub-LAND-ers…

I can keep this up for weeks, Rabbit Girl.
Release my red hot chillis forthwith!

* * *

I just read “this book will save your life” by; a disjointed yet pleasing Los Angeles adventure.

have a look at this little extract.

I’m still not sure you’re not that asshole,’ the guy says to him.
‘What can I say to convince you?’
‘Very little. Do I look bad?
‘You look…rough,’ Richard says.
‘I go in phases; right now I’m in a fight with my body. Do I smell?’
‘Not from here.’
‘I’m on a deadline.’ He dips his fingers into a bag of lettuce and puts some in his mouth. ‘Greens, very good for you.’ He eats them as though he craves them, as though greens are the new candy, the new Swedish Fish. ‘Where have you been?’ he asks.

Dearest comrades, didya spot it? Didya?
For many this side of The Pond, the reference to Swedish Fish would have gone right over their heads, but not us, eh gang? And why not? Because our good friend SafeTinspector introduced them to us a year ago, that’s why not.
Truly, our corner of the Blogosphere is without peer. We are the new depository, the new Alexandria, the light of our collected knowledge shall blind the troglodytes!
When I saw the words “Swedish Fish”, my face was a picture. Talk about smug. SafeT. I salute you.

LATE UPDATE: If yer wonderin' why I ain't replyin' to all yer witty comments an' suchlike, I keeps losing Haloscan. I don't know if it's a general problem or peculiar to this machine. I've even lost the comments shortcut off the main page now.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Midnight on the Pacific and skimming through surf and flying fish, two dolphins are on their way home from a school reunion that turned into an anchovy hunt. Although the evening has gone superbly, something is evidently weighing on the mind of the female dolphin as they glide along. Something she must get off her chest:

‘I thought you said we’d leave when the moon came up?’
‘It would have been rude, we couldn’t just leave.’
‘Well you certainly couldn’t.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘You should see yourself sometimes.’
‘Oh here we go. I wondered how long it’d take.’
‘That school are my friends, you’d think for once you’d…’
‘They’re my friends too.’
‘Not any more they aren’t.’

Her lifelong mate, a dashing bull despite his age, vents in exasperation and is about to sulk when he spots an escape. He points with his nose.

‘Look, the flying fish are changing course.’
‘That’s right, change the subject.’
‘They’re heading south, I wonder if Ian and Denise are still up.’
‘Well if they are, we’re not staying all night.’
‘Race you.’
‘No, OK-1-2-3-Go!’
‘Cheat! I wasn’t ready! Come back! Start again!’

Some flexing of their eager flanks and they leave the surf, heading off over unbroken sea. And as we watch them go, our view widens and we see that the surf the dolphins were riding is the bow wave of the largest moving object on the surface of the planet.