That pure Cane Spirit since 1848.

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.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

In one of those cataclysmic events that happen in every age; events that bring misery untold to countless generations; Pat had booked some musicians to provide entertainment in her tavern. They were the first folk band in recorded history. The bosun, a great hairy armed brute of a man called Bananas had inveigled his way into the band. With his unopposed thumbs none was better on the concertina. The ensemble was murdering “Brennan on the moor” as the captain slipped in the door.

Hennessy took in the layout as he made his way through the gloom towards the bar. As swashbuckling custom demanded, the inn was lit by rings of dripping candles set on dangerously heavy cart wheels. These had been hoisted into the rafters on ropes secured Flemish style with cleats on the wall. His shrewd eyes settled on a half dozen rough sailor types playing pinochle under just such a perilous hazard. He allowed his cruel lips to part in an enigmatic smile revealing his perfect teeth.

Setting the standard for the next 210 years, ‘The Claymores’ were taking great care not to smile or move any part of their bodies as they played. Being folk purists they understood the difference between music and pleasure, so before each song the earnest bandleader would also try and explain its significance. He was keen for the drinkers to know what had inspired every composition that they might appreciate it more, but setting their own standard for the next 210 years, the audience ignored him and continued to talk and laugh among themselves.

‘No, no, Mr Burns, I’m not that sort of girl’ squealed Ayres in the corner.
‘Call me Rabbie!’ cried the poet, making a grab for Ayres’ cabbages.
‘Naughty!’ replied the botanist, hitting the poet square in the face with her tankard.
‘I love spirit in a lassie’ was the inevitable reply as The Bard redoubled his efforts.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Aren’t hotels shit?

There are no good hotels in Scotland. There is always something that totally ruins your stay – the staff. There is a morbid slapstick to the service in a Scottish hotel that makes you want to kill yourself. As a nation we should admit right now that we can’t do it and shut all our hotels with immediate effect. They are all crap.
For me, hotels that are not untrammelled luxury are a penance. The only hotels I like to stay in now are posh foreign ones like the Frankfurter Hof. It is fabulously expensive but they accomplish that effortless comfort so elusive elsewhere. And they do it with such bland efficiency. The thought, forever unspoken, pops inevitably into one’s head, “is this how they managed their genocidal mania?” But then they treat you in such an adult way that you’d forgive them anything. You begin to wonder about fascism. You start to think; these people aren’t all bad. It creeps up on you. I loved it; every godamn Nazi minute.
Then there’s the Savoy. Talk about anal. Of course it’s my class insecurity talking, but for two grand you’d think they could put me at my ease. Everything they do for you is a fucking chore, or else it’s revealed to you in a patronising flourish. Oh look darling, running water! Even the cut flowers are shit. The arrangements are all amateurish funeral parlour floribunda disasters. And the tipping! At least have the decency to put a smile on your smarmy faces you cheap smelly bastards. The staff smells of old carpets at the Savoy.

Ayres, man of letters and ship’s botanist had been sent ahead disguised as a woman of easy virtue. As always, half the crew had advised on his wardrobe.

More rouge!
Bigger bust!

Now there weren’t no breadfruit nor guava to be ‘ad onboard, so Ayres improvised wi’ a brace o’ cabbages. An’, as is the tack in these ‘ere yarns, on his entrance to the aforementioned Clatty Pat’s Tavern, he come under the rovin’ eye of a romantic poet who were a-sittin’, scribin’ his poems, in the corner…