Google+ A Tangled Rope: 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Funny Thing

"Now, here's a funny thing," I said.

"I can see that," she replied, smiling.

I sighed. "No, not that," I said with some irritation as I refastened my trouser zip. "This."


I moved closer and opened my hand slowly and carefully.

"Aaah," she cooed, reaching out to stroke it, but - for once - my zip remained fastened. Instead, she peered at the thing in my hand. "It's very small."

"I know," I snapped. "But I am doing all the exercises with the device. Anyway, I measured it last night, and it…."

"No," she reached out a finger to stroke the contents of my hand. "This," she whispered. "It is rather small."

"Careful. It is quite delicate."

"It feels as soft as the fur on my pussy," she said in wonder.

"But I thought you said you'd shaved it all off?"

She looked up at me, her brow furrowed in puzzlement. "What?"

I glanced down at her crotch, raising an eyebrow.

"Oh. No, not that. My pussy… Sam."

It was my turn to do the puzzled look.

"Sam, my pu… my cat, remember?"

"Oh, yes. Of course," I lied.

"It is soft though."

"Well." I squirmed. "I've not been well, recently, and… well… I have had a couple of drinks, and…."

She glanced up at me, finding it difficult to tear her eyes away from my open palm. "No, I didn't mean that. I mean this." She stroked the thing resting on my open palm again.

"Oh!" she cried, suddenly. "There are two of them."

"No." I smiled. "Look closer."

"Oh, it looks like two, at first, but there's really only one of them… er… it."

The small furry creature sitting in the palm of my hand lifted both of its heads and looked at her, blinking slowly.

"What are they… er… what is it?" she asked in wonder. "Tell me."

"I thought you knew," I said.


"It's a Double Entendre, of course," I said.


Last Saturday, I was walking in the woods, when I heard a noise from behind me.


I ignored it and turned to carry on.

'Psst, hey you.'

I turned and walked back to the tree that I thought was talking to me.

A bear stepped out from behind the tree, looking around nervously. 'Hey mate,' he said. 'Have you seen the woodman?'

'You're a bear,' I said.

'Well spotted.'

'But not only do bears not talk,' I replied. 'They are no longer native to this country.'

'Tough shit mate,' the bear said, still looking around nervously. 'You're in a fairy tale now. A different bleeding reality, innit?'

'Oh shit, not another fairy tale. The doctor told me that if I laid off smoking that stuff it wouldn't happen again.'

'It's nothing to do with what you've been smoking, mate,' the bear said with an element of disgust. 'Some dozy sod's been arsing around with the whole space/time continuum whatsit. Everything's gone to buggery.' The bear sat down on a convenient tree stump. 'Take last week; they only had me - me - up the castle giving that Sleeping Beauty a kiss. Do I look like a sodding prince?'

'Well....' I said carefully, noticing the size of his claws.

'Anyway, like I said. Have you seen the woodman?'

'What do you mean the one that used to leap out from behind the trees and show the girls his chopper?'

'Naw,' the bear said. 'I can see you haven't been here for quite a while. The fairy godmother soon put a stop to that - it was ruining the whole reputation of fairy tale land that was - she banished him from the magical forest. Last I heard he'd gone into politics.' The bear spat in disgust.

'No, I haven't seen the woodman. Why do you want to know?' 'He's after us - me and my mates.'


'You've heard of Goldilocks.'

'Who hasn't,' I spluttered. 'Is she still...?'

'What, the forest bike?' The bear said.

'Well, I wouldn't put it like that,' I said. 'Anyway, I never believed those stories about her. The only time I went out with her I never even found out if she was a natural Goldie.'

'Oh, she is, she most definitely is.' The bear nodded his head wistfully.

'Anyway, what's the problem?' I said. 'The Goldilocks and the three bears story I head didn't sound too serious - as far as I recall everyone lived happily ever after.'

'Weeell....' The bear shifted uncomfortably on his stump and scratched. 'I think I might have a hair up my arse,' he said.

I took a couple of steps back. 'Yes?'

'Well, you know the Daddy Bear, Mommy Bear and Baby Bear bit?'


'Our agent's idea. She thought three male bears sharing a cottage deep in the woods, flowers around the doorway, rustic antique furniture and so on.... "Sends entirely the wrong signals," she said. We could see her point, fairy tales have been getting a declining market share ever since Watch with Mother, and since those bleeding Teletubbies stitched everything up... Well, a bear's got to eat, and we've all got families back home, y'know?'

I nodded. 'Go on....'

'Well, a bear gets lonely too, y'know... far from home. We do a bit of moonlighting on the side... black market honey. Well, these days every bit helps....' He sighed. 'Anyway, there we are all three of us hanging around one morning, reading the papers, talking about who we think'll get the England manager’s job. Y'know... just three bears with a bit of spare time on our paws....' He shifted on his stump again. 'Do bear's get piles, do you know?'

I shook my head. 'I have no idea.'

'My arse is giving me some gyp this morning,' he said. 'I think it is all this shitting in the woods.' He shifted himself again. 'Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. She came to the door, y'know - you could see she was up for it, peasant blouse unfastened right down to her... leaning on the doorjamb, you get the picture?' He shrugged. 'I mean we are normal bears, y'know... with a bear's needs... a long way from home and our families... and she was more than willing, y'know?'

'Yes.' I nodded. I knew what Goldilocks could be like when she was in the mood. Trouble was she was only in the mood on days with a 'y' in them and she could be hotter than the jam in a microwaved doughnut.

The bear could see from the look in my eyes and the submarine surfacing in my trousers that I knew what he was talking about. 'Well, you know the bit in the story about the broken furniture?'


'Well, you know one girl and three bears, a chair is not going to last long is it?'


'Or a bed come to that.'

'No.' I hesitated. 'The porridge?'

'I don't have to draw a picture, do I?' The bear said. 'Suffice to say it wasn't too hot for her to swallow, if you see what I mean?'

'Yes, right.'

The bear sighed. 'So there you are then.'

'But, what does this have to do with the woodman? He's not her father is he?'


'He's not he lover, brother husband, fiancé or anything either?'

'Oh no... let's just say he swings his chopper the other way, shall we?' The bear put his paw on his hip and fluttered his eyelids. 'Know what I mean?'

'Oh, right.'

The bear stood up, brushing down his fur. He looked over my shoulder. 'Oh, fuck! It's him. I'm off, see you.' The bear dropped down to all fours and began to run.

'But why is he after you?' I called after him.

'It was his bloody cottage and we wrecked it!' The bear called back over his shoulder. 'He's after us to pay for all the bloody damage.'

And with that, the bear was gone, with the woodman chasing after him, crashing through the thick trees. A moment later I saw the pope emerge from the trees, pulling his robes back down as he stepped back on to the path that led from the woods.

I took the other way out.

(Another one of my earliest – see here, and here for example)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Periodic Table

As most people are aware, the science we now know as chemistry grew out of what was once alchemy, a semi-mystical method of arsing about with various substances. The aim of alchemy was to bring about - by combining these various substances together - what was known as The Philosopher’s Jaffa Cake. This was rumoured to be a magical concoction of a golden sponge topped with a mystical and mysterious orange-flavoured substance, which was coated with a layer of chocolate.

Of course, many of the natural philosophers of the time boldly stated that such a concoction existing somewhere between the natural states of a biscuit or a cake without quite being either, would run counter to what they then regarded as God’s immutable laws of creation. Consequently, most of the experiments undertaken by the alchemists to attempt to create the philosophers Jaffa Cake had to be conducted in secret and the results and methods written in the alchemist’s own code.

Inevitably, not much of any real worth ever came from these early experimentations. However, one experiment intended to create the mystical orange-flavoured substance did result in the invention of marmalade, rightly acclaimed at the time of its invention (or discovery) as being the food of the gods.

Alchemists however, slowly began building up an understanding of the underlying nature of these substances they experimented with. This eventually led to the discovery that some of these materials were fundamental substances, which –consequently - could not be broken down any further into constituent substances – these were later to be known as The Elements. However the precise relationships between these elements and how they became biscuits were not fully understood at the time.

The breakthrough came when Dabbler Mandolinolinolin in a sudden fit of insight in the biscuit aisle of his local supermarket about the obvious connections in the relationship between the digestive and the chocolate digestive enabled him to invent the Periodic Table of Biscuits. It was only then that the true relationships between the various forms of biscuits became apparent and explicit. For example the links between the fruit shortcake and the garibaldi were suddenly abundantly clear, as well as relationships such as the link between the rich tea biscuit and the digestive. Even the even less obvious similarities such as those between the custard cream and the Jammy Dodger, were all suddenly revealed in Mandolinolinolin’s table. Even such oddities as the Bourbon became suddenly comprehensible to the nascent chemists of the time.

The discoveries of how the various forms of biscuit were related to each other came thick and fast after that, including only 50 years later an understanding of how the Transitional biscuits such as the digestive bridged the – what was formerly thought inviolate – gap between the sweet biscuits and the cheese biscuits.

Later it was realised that beyond the naturally occurring biscuits, it was possible to create Synthetic elements and so such things as Hobnobs and other new weird and wonderful creations came about.

It is undeniably true that without Mandolinolinolin’s Periodic Table Of Biscuits, some progress would have been made on understanding the fundamental role that biscuits play in the natural world. However, it is arguable that we would not know as much as we do now about the true nature of biscuits without Dabbler Mandolinolinolin’s great insight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Can't Believe It's Not Cat Vomit

I Can't Believe It's Not Cat Vomit first appeared on our supermarket shelves only three years ago, but already an almost staple part of the 'cool' young British person's diet.

Although, ironically, I Can't Believe It's Not Cat Vomit was not first intended to be marketed as a foodstuff at all. It was originally intended as a form of fake cat vomit for sale in joke, toy and novelty shops. However it met with limited success, mainly because it did actually resemble authentic cat vomit, unlike the other wares normally sold as joke or fake vomit, faeces, body parts and so on that - in reality - fool no-one other than the gullible humourless punter who seemingly believes that such articles are in some way amusing.

Consequently, the fake cat vomit's seemingly authenticity was its downfall in the joke/novelty market as any putative purchasers of the item tended to shy away from any premises that would leave seemingly fresh cat vomit on prominent display in their shop windows. In fact, several joke and novelty item shops gave up attempting to sell the fake cat vomit after repeated visits from their local Environmental Health inspectors.

Spineboard Recalcitrant - the inventor of I Can't Believe It's Not Cat Vomit - somewhat despondently continued to search for other joke and novelty-style shops that would be attracted, rather than repelled, by the life-like veracity of his product, and, therefore, would be prepared to stock it. But he met with very limited success. However, one day, Recalcitrant happened to notice, while doing his weekly food shop at his local supermarket, such products as peanut butter, sandwich spread, chocolate spread, crab paste and other such products intended for use as sandwich fillers. Struck by the resemblance of some of these items to his own fake cat vomit, Recalcitrant came up with the idea that would revolutionise the sandwich-filler industry and drag it into the 21st Century.

Recalcitrant was initially concerned, though, that the fact that his fake cat vomit not only looked like real cat vomit, it also smelt and tasted (yes, in the interests of veracity, he did - indeed - check) like it too. This caused Recalcitrant to research various ways of making it smell and taste better, but every iteration on the basic formula he experimented with to make it more palatable removed that very strong resemblance to cat vomit that Spineboard Recalcitrant instinctively knew made other similar sandwich fillers such a success.

Just as he was tempted to give up in despair of ever realising his dream Recalcitrant was approached by Desultory Weaselcheese, head of the famous Marketing Consultants Weaselcheese, Nosedrops and Fetidbreath. Weaselcheese convinced Recalcitrant that in the world of convenience foods, and such items as sandwich fillers in particular, smell and taste are of little or no real consequence. Especially, as Weaselcheese point out, the young demographic that advertising targets is mainly made up of people who believe that being cool - while, at the same time, slightly daring - in front of their mates is far more important than any sign of good taste.

"All you need," Weaselcheese said to Recalcitrant "is an attractive jar and a cheap but memorable ad - ideally featuring some vaguely familiar celebrity who would willingly sells tins of their granny, served in Hannibal Lector's favourite sauce if it meant getting their face or voice back on the telly, even for just thirty seconds or so, and a sizeable fee."

It was at that moment that I Can't Believe It's Not Cat Vomit was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Protagonist Beetlelicker

Protagonist Beetlelicker was 'one of them'. But not a 'one of them' them. Although it was not unknown for 'one of them' to be 'one of them'. In fact, when they were discovered, the number of those that were 'one of them' that were also 'one of them' came to a fair proportion - something like three out of five.

It took quite a long time, a very long time, to discover that Beetlelicker was 'one of them'. After all, he had been to the right school and the right university. He belonged to all the right clubs. He knew all the right people and came from one of the right families. He was arrogant to the point of almost complete and utter stupidity and possessed an accent that even the Royal Family found nearly incomprehensible.

The authorities first became suspicious when an official Soviet Party newspaper published a photograph of Brezhnev on holiday at his Dacha on the Black Sea coast. The Russian leader was pictured striding out of the sea in his swimming costume while next to him was Protagonist Beetlelicker, laughing heartily as he helped the elderly man up the beach.

Beetlelicker, as is it - even now - still is common practice in the secret services, claimed he liked to take Top Secret documents on holiday with him as he had an intense dislike of the average beach-reading fare - typically espionage novels. He found such novels deeply implausible, as most of the espionage agents he knew were far too busy having sex with each other, or fiddling their expense accounts, ever to engage in anything so sordidly middle-class as actually spying on one another.

The end for Beetlelicker came in 1978 when he was discovered handing over a Top Secret dossier containing both of Great Britain's nuclear secrets to the notorious Soviet female spy chief Cliché Suckemoff as they lay in bed together, exhausted from an afternoon of frantically athletic sex. British agents burst into the Vienna hotel bedroom just as Protagonist handed the file he retrieved from under his pillow to the eager Suckemoff.

His defence of "I knew she liked a good joke." was dismissed out of hand at his trial and he was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Beetlelicker was swapped in a spy exchange between Britain and the USSR in the early 80s where the USSR offered an Unmissable-Swap-Two-Get-One Free deal, which the notoriously frugal UK PM Margaret Thatcher could not pass up, despite her well-known hatred of the unpatriotic or bearded. Beetlelicker thenceforth was given some titular make-work job deep in the heart of the Soviet Bureaucratic machine and was never heard of again.

Curiously, however, after the collapse of the Soviet Union a trawl of the KGB archives revealed that Cliché Suckemoff was in fact a double agent working for the British. Unfortunately, due to an error of her own making she had defected not to MI5 or MI6, but to MFI - the well-known , but now defunct furniture chainstore. This didn't help Britain much politically or militarily during the Cold War, but it did enable the UK to maintain its lead over the USSR in fitted-wardrobe technology that turned out to be so instrumental in the final collapse of the Soviet system a few years later.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Sermon On The Hill

Now it came to pass that the great Uttabollux Prophet, Nhigel (may his plums dangle mightily), was out having a stroll with his disciples while they were waiting for the pub to open. Nhigel had his fifteenth of his wives, Karen the Easy, with him as well as his disciples. They all sat down on top of a promontory known locally as ‘the hill’.

‘Well anyway,’ Nhigel said. ‘You see, there was this bloke and he went into a pub’. Soon a crowd began to gather around to hear the wise words of Nhigel. First, he told them the Parable of the Talents. ‘Well, you see there are those like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison who have the real talent, but end up pissing it all away, and there are your dull geezers like Cliff Richard and Cilla Black who do the job but lack the flair of the others.’ Then he told them of The Good Scandinavian Plumber who came to the rescue of a poor underdressed housewife who had a problem with a blocked sink.

Then some blokes - from the massive crowd that had, by now, gathered - brought out a friend of theirs on a stretcher for Nhigel to heal.

‘What’s up with him then? He looks like a malingering bastard to me,’ the wise and compassionate Nhigel said to the man’s friends.

The sick man’s friends told Nhigel about the strange illness that the stretcher bound man suffered from. The way he would seem to be fine for most of the evening, but at closing time, on his way out of the pub he would suddenly - and inexplicably - fall to the ground in an insensible heap. The friends explained that they had tried to heal him with the traditional post-pub kebab, and even the holy curry, but to no avail.

‘Right,’ Nhigel said. Carefully placing his healing hands around the sick man’s throat, Nhigel whispered ‘Get up you idle malingering bastard. If I ever see you pretending like this I’ll kick your nuts into the middle of next week, understand?’

‘I’m healed! I’m healed!’ yelled the sick man taking up is stretcher and walking. ‘Come on, lads, I’ll get the first round in!’

‘It’s a bloody miracle,’ the former sick man’s friends cried.

The crowd had now swelled to what one of Nhigel’s disciples later claimed was about 5 thousand… at least, but police sources later estimated at 79, and a dog on a string.

‘Hang on, lads,’ said Barry the Tosser, Nhigel’s most devoted disciple, looking at his watch. ‘It’s dinner time.’

Other members of the gathered crowd began to look at their watches too. ‘I’m hungry,’ said one.

‘Me too!’

‘And me.’

Soon it seemed the whole crowd was – so they claimed - very near the point of starvation.

‘Why don’t you all sod of home and get something to eat, you dozy sods?’ said the wise and all-knowing Nhigel.

‘B… b… but we all live all the way down there,’ one of the crowd said, pointing to the housing estate at the bottom of the hill.


‘Well, it’s bloody miles away and by the time we get home it will be too late for dinner.’

‘Miles away? said Stan the Sceptical, another of Nhigel’s disciples. ‘It isn’t even one mile, a few hundred yards, if that, and all downhill.’

‘But there are no buses… or taxis, or anything,’ said a voice from the crowd. ‘And I need chips; I’ve got a medical condition.’

‘Hang on a bit love,’ said Karen the Easy to Nhigel, as she rooted about in the bottom of her cavernous handbag. Eventually she withdrew a half-empty tube of Pringles from her back and passed it to Nhigel.

Nhigel held the tube of Pringles high in the air. ‘Form a queue in front of Barry here, and we’ll share these out between you.’

‘Er… no… It’s all right, I’m not hungry now.’

‘Me neither.’

‘Nor me!’

‘Bloody hell!’ shouted Barry as the crowd – as one - all claimed to no longer be hungry at turned away to trudge back down the hill. ‘It’s another bloody miracle.’

‘Yeah,’ Nhigel said, taking one of the Pringles from the tube and looking at it for a moment before trying to feed it to a song thrush sitting on a nearby bush. The bird immediately took to the sky, leaving the crisp-like object to fall from its beak to the ground. ‘Come on, let’s go for that drink.’

The Princess and the Frog

Well, thanks a lot. That wasn't a very nice thing to do. That's the last time I invite you over to my lily pad to share a nice fresh fly - not that I suppose you'll be interested, not any more.

What upsets me most was that it was me, I saw her first. I remember it was a nice sunny day, gentle ripples on the pool, a nice breeze and the promise of many flies.

"Look over there!" I said.


"It's - unless I'm very much mistaken - a princess."

"Right," you said and hopped off.

You sat right in the middle of the path. I was sure she would just tread on you or run off screaming when she saw the horrible slimy green blob just sitting there and croaking at her. That is, until I saw what you were doing.

I doubt if she would have paid any attention to you at all if you hadn't started doing those tricks with your tongue. Catching that fly inches from her nose, then unbuttoning her dress with just the curling tip of your tongue like that. I suppose it can be come a bit frustrating being a princess, shut up in the tower all day with just a spinning wheel and an old maid for company - dreaming about knights and their long lances and princes doing heroic deeds for half the kingdom and all that.

Anyway, after she'd recovered and got her dress back on, I remember, she asked if there was anything she could do for you.

"All I want is a kiss," you said.

Well, we all know what happens once a princess kisses one of us, don't we?

There was a flash of light, a small explosion and an embarrassing puff of purple smoke (I told you not to eat so many bluebottles).

"What is that sticking out in front of you?" She said, once she had got over the fact that what was once a scaly frog was now a (almost) handsome (in a poor light) prince. She pointed down to where your codpiece was resting like a saucepan lid on a broom handle.

"Ah, that is part of the curse put upon me by the evil witch," you said. "Unless I can get a princess to kiss me there, then - at midnight - I will turn back into a frog."

I fell off my lily pad when I heard that, the bloody bare-faced cheek of it. I must admit I didn't think the daft cow would fall for it, but that's princesses for you.

I must admit I haven't seen you smile like that since the time you swallowed that dragonfly - whole - but she did bring a certain amount of enthusiasm to the job. I always wondered why the guards up at the castle called her Princess Dyson.

Anyway, after I'd clambered back up on to my lily pad, and you had reassembled your codpiece, I sat up ready and waiting. I knew you would not forget me. Me, your oldest friend. Me, who had introduced you to that sexy little minx last spawning season. If it wasn't for me you wouldn't have been the proud father of 250 healthy, bouncing tadpoles.

I knew you wouldn't forget me. Just a quick whisper in her ear: "A kiss for my oldest, dearest friend. No - there is no need for the 'special' kiss. His was a different witch." A quick peck on the cheek would have done.

I closed my eyes and puckered up - waiting.

When I opened my eyes a few seconds later, you had gone.

If you had hung around for a while, I could have told you that it wouldn't last, that it would all end in tears. I could have warned you.

Going out in a magical coach so near to midnight is just asking for it. Those mice might be all right in a straight line, but curves and underpasses and going at such a speed when the coach is turning back into a pumpkin is an accident waiting to happen. If she hadn't been wearing the glass slipper, she may even have survived the crash.

Ah well.

On the whole, life isn't so bad here. It is a bit damp on this lily pad I suppose, but there are a lot of flies, and some of those tadpoles of yours have grown up into quite pretty females.

It will soon be spawning time again.

(Another one of my earliest – see here, and here for example)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Call To End MP’s ‘Flipping’ Scam

There were calls last night for Britain’s MPs to end the culture of ‘flipping’ where they promise the electorate one thing to get elected, and then on coming to power do something either completely different or – quite often – exactly the opposite of what they’d originally promised.
‘Up until recently,’ said one leading political commentator, ‘it was always assumed by MPs that whatever they said to get elected was ‘part of the game’, and that no-one really expected them to mean what they said.’
Most political commentators say the public’s doubts about this blatant so-called ‘flipping’ began right back at the start of Del-Boy Blair’s premiership.

‘He had been elected mainly on a promise to end the so-called ‘Tory sleaze’, but almost immediately began doing exactly the same thing himself with the Ecclestone affair, Cash-for-honours and so much more. At the time they were elected Labour also promised to look after and improve the NHS and the education system, but they are no better, if not far worse, nowadays despite all those Labour pre-election promises,’ said a broadsheet political editor. ‘Whilst in power the Labour government also made many promises they later ‘flipped’ from the immediate danger from WMD in Iraq that turned out not to exist, right through to Brown’s claim to have ‘abolished boom and bust’, and his absurd assertion – for a politician – that he has ‘a moral compass’.’
As another senior political journalist said yesterday:
It doesn’t matter what the politicians say to get elected, once they are in power they always end up pandering to the Tabloids, chasing the headlines in whatever tabloid-engineered moral panic is currently screaming for ‘something to be done’. The politicians will then do anything, anything at all, even if it contradicts all their promises and public pronouncements to give the illusion of ‘doing something’, even when they don’t have a clue what ought to be done, and – frankly – don’t care as long as it makes the nasty headlines go away.
‘It’s common practice,’ one MP complained. ‘After all the whole point is to get elected and get down to the serious business of claiming as many expenses as you can. So, anyone in their right mind is going to promise everybody everything just so they can get elected. After all these days all the decisions are made in the EU, so we can’t really do all that much anyway, except bay like demented donkeys for the TV cameras in the chamber and try to get our pictures in the media.’
Another MP remarked:
I can’t see what the problem is. The electorate are not fools; they know election promises are not to be taken seriously. The only times they are shocked are when we actually do what we promised we would do.
‘Flipping?’ One member of the public responded, ‘we’ve always known that politicians are a bunch of… flipping bastards who would willingly sell their own families into slavery for political advantage, and then claim the shipping fees back on expenses. But, I suppose – if it ever did catch on – it would be nice for them to – even occasionally – do something they’d been elected to do, if only for the novelty value.’

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Surplus Theory In Economics

One of the most contentious areas in the history of economics has been the theory of surplus toast. It has often been argued by left-leaning economists that the amount of surplus toast circulating in any economy shows that that economy is not maximizing its returns to each and every member of that society as equitably as possible. However, to those economists more to the political right this is simply not true, or to use the correct Theoretical Economics term ‘a load of bollocks’. To those economists on the right the amount of surplus toast in any economy is actually a measure of just how well that economy is doing. In fact, they argue, it is this production of so-called ‘surplus toast’ that is, indeed, the whole point of economic activity. As they so rightly argue, in the words of Nobel winning economist Mervin Friedbread ‘a life without a plentiful supply of toast is hardly living at all.’

Of course, as Lenin claimed, citing Marx, ‘under communism there will be toast aplenty for every worker – from each according to their toasting fork, toast according to their needs.’ However, despite Stalin’s later investment in massive toast engineering factories, which claimed to produce several thousand slices of toast a day to feed the heroic soviet workers, we are now all only too aware of that - in reality - the Toastski shops in every Soviet town had only bare shelves. No-one really knows, even now, how many thousands, if not millions, of rural peasants died through starvation brought about by a simple basic lack of toast. We do now know, though, that there was a thriving black market in smuggled western toasters, and how only communist party connections could ensure a supply of the vital marmalade for whatever limited amounts of toast an Eastern block citizen could acquire for themselves.

Of course, the market system is not perfect, but nothing ever is. Sometimes some people at the lower ends of society have to do without toast during some periods of their lives, while others have far more toast than they could ever butter in one lifetime. However, as economists of toast have pointed out, it is this ‘surplus’ of toast within the system that keeps the price of toast down, making it – in most cases – affordable to everyone. More to the point, it is the free market in toast that has enabled toasting technology to develop from the humble toasting fork up to the multi-slice toasters now available in most households in the free world. Furthermore, the free market system in toast has made a huge range of toastable types of bread available, along with the many, many different forms and flavours of marmalade that can now be purchased by the dedicated toast connoisseur.

In short, then, it is the free market system that has banished forever the hideous possibility of someone going through life without any toast at all, and for that we should all be grateful.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Government Announces New Scrappage Scheme

Early this morning the UK Business Secretary, Lord Mortgage, announced a new ‘Scrappage’ scheme, saying:

We have discovered a large number of MPs who we now need to get rid of rather urgently, before the public finds out just how many other fiddles we they have been getting away with. So, if there are any corrupt Third-World countries that could do with any venal mendacious jobsworths to create an illusion of democracy we will give them a few thousand quid to take these MPs off our hands, no questions asked. Oh, and we have a slightly-damaged Speaker of the House that we will to give away free to any Dictatorship that needs a parliamentary figurehead that will always put the interests of the governing classes above those of the people he purports to represent.

There are rumours that several countries have expressed an interest in importing some British ex-MPs to help train their own parliamentarians in how to become more corrupt. For example, a spokesman for the Zimbabwean government said:

We had thought we’d learnt all there was to learn from the old colonial powers about corruption in politics, but these British MPs with their fantastical expense claims just take it all to a much higher level. Now we know that not only can we continue to screw our people over, we can also claim elaborate expenses for doing it too. Amazing.

However, there has been some criticism of the scheme, especially from the EU, where a spokeswoman claimed:

Actually, these British MPs are not really all that good, as Lord Mortgage ought to know after his time here. Our European MEPs are much more efficient at hovering up expenses, freebies and other such tax-payer funded jollies, and we have a system which means they are never found out. So, if any corrupt dictatorships out there need anyone to show them how it is done, then I suggest they come visit the European Parliament soon. All expenses paid, of course.

Furthermore, one critic of the government scheme pointed out that:

The problem with the scheme is that with the current economic downturn, not many Third World governments will be able to keep these MPs in the level of expenses they are used to. For example, some poor African countries couldn’t even afford to dig the moat, let alone pay the expenses to have it cleaned.

If this ‘Scrappage’ deal does take off it could start a new trend as several banks have also expressed interest in operating a similar scheme themselves, where they offer money to other business to take in some old surplus-to-requirements bankers the banks no longer need or want.

Monday, May 18, 2009

MOD Health & Safety Concerns

With the Court of Appeal about to hand down a ruling on whether Health and Safety rules apply in battle, the MOD issued the following statement:

As it now seems that the Health and Safety Rules are about to be made applicable to the battlefield, we have ordered our battlefield lawyers to begin issuing writs and injunctions against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the various insurgency forces, including Al-Qaeda in Iraq. These writs and injunctions will be served against these various organisations for making the battlefields in those two countries injurious to the health and safety of British troops stationed there.

In Afghanistan, a British soldier, whose unit was busy cordoning off a battlefield with safety fencing and warning signs, said ‘Some of those Taliban in there,’ nodding towards the fence-off battlefield, ‘have got guns and rocket launchers. We told then to be careful, and that they could easily have someone’s eye out with one of those grenades, but they didn’t seem to listen.’

‘We have no choice,’ said the Captain commanding the unit. ‘They have just refused to listen. So, we have no choice but to send a helicopter full of lawyers armed with writs in there. Those poor Taliban sods won’t stand a chance.’ He shook his head sadly. ‘War is hell sometimes.’

Over recent weeks there have been rumours circulating in Afghanistan that crack SAS Health and Safety units have been inserted behind the Taliban lines to secretly inspect the Taliban strongholds to see if they are breaching any Health and Safety directives. A former army commander (now retired) who served in the region recently said, ‘If successful then such a strategy could close down Taliban operations over an entire region. If – for example – the Taliban were not supplying their insurgents with adequate hand-washing facilities then the high command would simply have no choice but to close down the stronghold and send all its fighters back home.’

However, a Forces spokesman refused to comment on whether such an operation was taking place. ‘I – as is normal with possible undercover operations – cannot confirm or deny any such operations are underway, as it would be a severe breach of our soldier’s right to privacy. Thank you.’

Late yesterday an Al-Qaeda spokesman confirmed that in future the organisation would insist that its operatives comply with all Health and Safety guidelines, saying:

‘From now on, we will restrict our terrorist activities to writing strongly-worded – but polite - letters of complaint to local newspapers. Furthermore, our suicide bombers have been told they can only blow themselves up in deserted disused quarries, and then only if no episodes of Doctor Who are being recoded in the immediate vicinity. Thank you, and may your God go with you.’

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fashion World Rocked By Scandal

Perambulation Stickinsect, the famous catwalk supermodel, who once outraged the fashion world by eating three whole peas for lunch one day, yesterday caused even more controversy throughout the designer fashion industry when she claimed ‘Well, fashion… it’s all a bit silly, really, isn’t it?’

It is rumoured that when she made the statement at the influential Paris Posh Gladrags and Expensive Handbags 2009 show, several fashion designers fainted and one had to be given the kiss of life by his distraught boyfriend.

‘B… bu… but… fashion, it is the centre of the universe. Where would we be without it?’ one newspaper fashion columnist helplessly wittered while being given emergency chilled Champagne through an intravenous drip.

‘How would the proles know what to wear without us telling them?’ said Gloopy Membranes, partner of the fashion style guru team of Membranes and Vesttootight, while her business partner, Tranny Vesttootight underwent a vital face-saving Botox injection to counter the damage caused to her face by the shock.

Venal Chestwig, one of the world’s (in her own mind) leading fashion designers called for an immediate statement from the United Nations Security Council reaffirming the central role that high fashion ought to be playing in people’s lives. ‘We cannot rest’ she exclaimed tearfully, ‘while there are still starving women in Africa – probably dying of AIDS, or some other really fashionable disease – who have never owned a designer handbag. We cannot stand by and allow such a thing to happen in this day and age. It is every woman’s right, especially those too poor to feed their children, to buy more shoes than they could possibly ever wear in one lifetime.’

Meanwhile, after receiving several threats of being forced to eat a proper meal, Stickinsect is believed to have gone into hiding, fearing the damage a proper meal could do to her career.

However, a fashion model friend of Stickinsect’s, Waif Knottedstring, said ‘She only took 32 suitcases of clothes and 350 pairs of shoes when she dashed off. So we are expecting her back in a day or two.’

A long-time feminist critic of the fashion industry, Harpi Braindrain, said, later, ‘Don’t worry about it, the people in the fashion industry have the attention span of a lobotomised gnat – they’d have to really. Otherwise, having to care about the constant changing of what is in and – more importantly – out of fashion, would drive them even madder than they already are. Someone is bound to show them a shiny new handbag in a day or two, and then they’ll forget everything Stickinsect said.’

Homing Wasps

My grandfather had trained wasps.

Yes. It used to be traditional among ex-miners to have a shed out on the allotment to keep their wasps in. They used to breed them and race them - you have seen the great swarms of homing wasps on the big race days haven't you?

My grandfather, of course, was not satisfied with just breeding and racing the wasps - even the almost legendary 'Speckled-Blue Vicious Bugger' that old Stan 'Stained-vest' Megglethorpe was rumoured to have bred back at the turn of the century.

My granddad wanted a wasp that could: 'do something, instead of sitting around looking pretty like those poofy bloody show-wasps, or just bloody racing.' He wanted a wasp that could help him with his beer; a task that kept him so occupied that sometimes he did not emerge from his cellar for several days. It was only from the muffled sound of his singing that prevented us from fearing the worst during those lost days.

So, after many seasons of heart-breaking failure, he - at last - managed to breed a wasp that could carry a hop back from a field. Only one at a time, but he planned whole swarms that would leave the shed first thing in the morning. Then, using that wondrous homing ability that wasps have which enables them to locate a jam-encrusted child from the whole crowd on a beach, to seek out a hop field and then to strip whole rows of the plants before returning back to the allotment shed as dusk fell.

On the morning when he felt that his first 'hop-fetching' wasp (My grandfather had an uncanny knack for picking the apt and memorably descriptive phrase. For instance, the shed was known, wittily, as 'the shed' and the allotment as 'my allotment'. Many was the time he would leave us laughing and smiling as he said, with a straight-face, that he was 'going down the bloody cellar to get pissed'. Not, I think it is safe to say, since Oscar Wilde have these islands produced such a naturally witty man.) Anyway, it was a tense time as he and I stood watching the wasp fly off into the early morning sunlight, watching until it was less than a speck in the distance - even my grandfather with his keen wasp-racing eye, lost sight of it after what could easily have been a dozen yards.

Needless to say that seemed to be the longest day of my life. Countless cups of tea were consumed by both of us as we waited - at one point I was even sent out to buy another bag of sugar. Even with the retelling of all of my grandfather's favourite stories about how the world had been such a far better place when he was young, about how good it had been during the war and how ungrateful the younger generations were these days, time seemed to crawl slowly and cautiously. Much like, in fact, the way my grandfather himself would crawl from the cellar a few days after 'just popping down to check on the beer.'

Eventually evening came and the sun began its long slow descent towards the summer's horizon. My grandfather paced backwards and forwards along the full row of his prize-winning cabbages, pausing at each end to scan the sky with his sharp wasp-racers eye and listening intently for the telltale buzz. I stood on the step of the shed, glancing back every now and then to see if the kettle was boiling, as we waited... and waited.

"The bugger's coming back, get the tea on," my grandfather said. I still could not see or hear anything, but I trusted his word. A few moments later, I was testing to see whether the tea had stood for long enough, by seeing if the spoon would remain upright in it, when I heard the buzz, faint and distant.

Something was wrong! The buzz was not right! It sounded more like a teenager on a moped than the proud full-bodied roar of a thoroughbred racing-wasp in its prime. I raced outside to the landing window, where - it seemed - all the other wasps had gathered too.

My grandfather was there too. "Bloody fly-spray! I knew it," he said as he gazed off several feet into the setting sun. I could see it too as it flew erratically towards the shed window.

"He's not going to make it!"

Before grandfather had even finished speaking, I was racing down the row of cabbages towards where I had seen the speck tumble from the sky. When grandfather arrived, I was easing it off the cabbage leaf where it had fallen.

"Bastard!" I screamed as the wasp managed to summon the strength, from somewhere, for a final sting. I dropped the wasp and to my surprise granddad stepped forward and brought down his heavy miner's boot on the still trembling form.

"Why?" I said. "He was dying; he didn't know what he was doing. It was a reflex, nothing more." I stared up, through my tears, into my grandfather's hard and uncompromising stare.

"Once they go that way, there is no bringing them back, no saving them," he said. "Once they get the taste of stinging human flesh then that is the way they'll allus be." He turned away and trudged heavily back up the row of cabbages to the shed and a consoling cup of tea.

The ruins of his dream lay squashed and shattered at my feet. I looked down, and there, half-hidden by the deepening shadow of the cabbage leaf, was a single hop. Smiling and laughing I picked it up and ran to the shed.


(One of my earliest – see here, and here for example)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The World's Greatest Rockstar

Anthrax Goatstrangler is - arguably - the most infamous and influential rock musician still alive on the planet today. His seminal ‘difficult’ second album with his band The Electric Cost Accountants - Sausages Are Not The Only Purple Reindeers - invariably tops most of those incessant Best albums polls.

The album does seem dated - if not quaint - now, but Goatstrangler was the first rock artist to combine the beats of electro-hip-hop, Morris dancing, the lyrical complexity of Jon Anderson at his must cosmically obscure, verbose and irrelevant, and the cutting-edge musical experimentation of Chas 'n' Dave with the now-fabled knitwear of Val Doonican. Goatstrangler also has a musical virtuosity almost unknown in rock music since the great days of the washboard in the skiffle era, and is notorious as the first ever (and, so far, only) rockstar to play the electric spoons.

Anthrax Goatstrangler first came to notice as the lead electric spoons player in the seminal British retro-post-punk-blues-reggae-revival band Toasted Weasel Event. TWE were soon infamous for their three-hour jams around such perennial standards as Tea For Two, She Must Be A Lesbian and, of course, Ignite My Love Rocket, Baby, Then Stand Well Back.

The legendary drink, drug and groupie excesses of TWE are now the stuff of legendary legends, and some of those stories may even be almost true. Everyone, these days, knows the story of how the TWE bassist (Vas) Defrens Volegrater stayed up until almost nine-fifteen one evening, whilst on tour in Bromsgrove, almost building up the courage to ask a groupie if he could hold her hand, if only for a minute.

TWE split - due to musical differences - in the late 70s when Volegrater had the nerve to laugh at Goatstrangler's socks - calling them 'pink and girly'. Goatstrangler threw down his spoons, walked out of the rehearsal and caught the next train back to Welshpool.

Six days later, after emerging from a lemonade and cod-liver oil capsule drink and drug orgy, Goatstrangler formed The Electric Cost Accountants. In those heady days, it took only seven years, and some rather sordid blackmailing of record company executives, for TECA to get a recording contract. A few weeks later, they started out on a major world tour of Iceland's smaller and more obscure breakfast cafes.

The overwhelming indifference from the music press that greeted The Electric Cost Accountants infamous second album Sausages Are Not The Only Purple Reindeers seems hard to credit these days. Nevertheless, that was nothing compared to the indifference shown by the record buying public.

The album's reputation grew though through word of mouth (usually the words 'what the fuck is that crap you're playing?'). Therefore, by the end of the year, it had sold almost seven copies, and was unceremoniously deleted from the record company catalogue. The album therefore became an instant classic and - while, of course, remaining totally un-listenable for any sane or reasonable person - its almost-total obscurity meant the critics loved it, and it soon became the must-have album for the aspiring hipster.

Consequently - Anthrax Goatstrangler and the Electric Cost Accountants became the name for any music journalist to drop in order to demonstrate just how cool and hip they imagined they were, thus giving Sausages Are Not The Only Purple Reindeers and Anthrax Goatstrangler and the Electric Cost Accountants their now-unassailable places in the fairy tale that is rock history.

Monday, May 11, 2009

By Way Of Clarification

Now, it looks as though someone or other in the government could say something or other today about something or other. On the other hand, it is quite possible that someone from one or other of the opposition parties could also say something or other about something or other today. It is even possible that someone from outside of government, either an individual - or more likely -someone representing some group concerned with something or other will also say something about something or other.

Therefore, as soon as somebody or other says something or other about something or other, we will bring it straight to you here – as it happens, more or less. Quite possibly, the comment by someone or other could be something we feel might be significant about something or other. In which case, we will make sure that someone or other here who knows something about the subject in question can say something or other about it for you, just to help clarify just how significant whatever someone or other said about something or other actually is.

In this modern world, where it seems someone or other is always saying something or other about something or other, it can sometimes get overwhelming for the ordinary person to keep up, especially if they are busy doing something or other. Therefore, in such cases it can be quite useful for someone or other to say something or other about the something or other that someone or other has just said, in order to give some kind of context to whatever was said and who it was saying it and why it might matter.

Of course, you should always hold up to scrutiny not only the someone or other who makes the comment about something or other; you must also question why the person saying something or other about the someone or other who originally made the comment about something or other is saying what they are saying too. In many cases, it would be ideal to have someone or other to say something or other about why someone or other is saying something or other about the someone or other who made the original remark about something or other. That is where we see our role; as someone or other who can clarify just why someone or other is saying something or other about something or other.

Therefore, whenever you need someone or other to say something or other about something or other someone or other has said about something or other then this is the place to come.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Contrivances - A History (Part One)

I thought that today we would look at the almost interesting history of The Contrivances that is unless you can think of something more interesting.

Part One - The Ancients

Some archaeologists claim that the ancient Egyptians had hand-cranked ducks either pushed or pulled - the hieroglyphic evidence is unclear - by sometimes many hundreds of slaves, but this is disputed by others who claim that the duck moved of its own accord while the slaves stood around just watching - a popular entertainment of the time, I'm led to believe.

However, no serious prehistoric expert (or even any expert on prehistoric times) gives any credibility to the theory that Stonehenge* and other such constructions were used to harvest the power of the sun, or so-called 'ley-lines', for a sort of stone-age solar-powered weasel. Ironically, the ultra-modern solar-powered weasel would appear to be some form of very powerful and incomprehensible magic to those actual denizens of the Stone Age who had to make do with napped-flint powered chickens and crude wooden pedals to drive their dormice.

Of course, up until fairly recently (about 2:47 PM yesterday) it was thought that the earliest recorded Contrivance in this country was the famous water-wheel driven vole featured in the bottom left corner of the Bayeux Tapestry, just to the right of the entrails from the partially disembowelled Saxon lying nearby. The recent archaeological finds alluded to above, have now shown that in fact there were Contrivances in this country well before the Norman invasion - contrary to what contemporary sources like the Domesday book, or (as it was known at the time - Big William Ye Bastarde's Pop-Up Book of Hyse Newe Kyngdome), and so on claimed.

However, the period from the Norman invasion through the medieval period up to the Tudor period will be covered in more detail in Part Two**.


*Of course, it has now been proved beyond all reasonable doubt by the eminent archaeologist, cocaine-addict and fashion model, Waif Stickinsect, that Stonehenge is all that remains of what was originally a stone-age multi-story car park capable of providing parking spaces for upwards of 137 cars.

**You never know there might even be a Part Two someday - although, I doubt it.

Dolly the Sheep

Ah, sheep. That one sheep in particular. I always felt there was something special, unique, about Dolly even when she was just a mere lamb. The way she would look at me with those big dark brown eyes. The little ‘Baa’ of welcome when she saw me on the hillside. The way she would look away with some kind of hurt in her eyes when she saw I was wearing ‘those’ wellies and heading towards one of the older sheep.

Of course, one day she too was old enough and she saw me walking towards her wearing my special ‘romantic’ wellies. Unlike the others she did not run, she did not hide. She stood there on the brow of that windswept hillside, staring at me as she chewed on some grass. I’m sure she smiled.

Afterwards, she did not ‘baaa’ and run like all the others, she lay down beside me and rested her head in my lap, looking up at me with those eyes. Eyes that made me, would make you, regret that things like mint sauce, kebabs and chops had ever been invented. Eyes that told so much of long lonely nights on that cold bare hillside, of lonely baaing at an indifferent moon, at other sheep who just did not understand about dreams, about romance and... yes, about love.

I took her back home with me. I just had too. I could not leave my Dolly up there, not with those other sheep who just did not understand. Of course, from that day on it was all different. I no longer had to make the long trek up the cold windy hillside in my wellies. I no longer had to bear the pain of the rejection by those other sheep, the running away, the struggle with the kicking back legs and the wellies. Dolly was always there, always ready, always willing. The wellies were always there at our bedside and she would be there waiting for me on the bed.

Those early days were the happiest of my life, and - I like to think - the happiest of Dolly’s too. I would always rush back as soon as I could; a bunch of grass, or some flowers, gripped tightly in my sweating hand, always eager to see her. But those days passed, as they always do. I began to spend longer out on the farm; other sheep seemed to be looking at me in a new way, there were always fences, walls to repair. Occasionally I found myself daydreaming about roast lamb, new
potatoes and mint sauce.

She would be there always, waiting. We tried new things. I bought erotic underwear for her: lace, leather, rubber. Split-crotch panties, half a dozen peep-hole bras at once, stockings, suspenders.



I knew it was crazy. I knew it was mad and dangerous, but I just had to justify it; to the world, to myself, who knows? The beauty I saw in her, still saw in my Dolly, despite everything and the passage of time.

In some sort of reverie, I posted off the photographs.

I can still remember the look on her face when she saw those photos of herself on the Reader’s Wives page of Farmer’s Weekly. I had thought - no matter how foolishly - that she would be as excited as me.

I was wrong. So wrong. So very wrong. She just stared at the pictures for a minute or two and then turned to stare at me. Without even a single ‘baa’ of goodbye she was gone, back to the field. For the first time in months I slept alone that night, tossing and turning on that big empty bed. Every time I thought of Dolly I had to toss again.

I woke up the next morning feeling as though I had not slept at all and feeling rather sticky too. The pile by the front door was a big surprise and - for once - the dog was not to blame. Never before had I received so much mail, nearly all of it fan mail for Dolly, forwarded from the magazine. There was a letter from them too pleading with me to arrange for Dolly to be their centrefold: ‘Sheep of the Season’.

I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to run upstairs and show Dolly all of it, and then - maybe, if we had time - the fan mail. I had a quick shower and got dressed. I ran out into the meadow looking for her. I called into the strong wind, I ran to the top of the hill. But I could not see her. Judging from the looks I got from the other sheep it seemed as though I had been condemned to the whole of the flock, heads down they moved slowly and sullenly away from me as I ran up to each
one, the question dying on my lips.

At last, I saw her, under the old oak tree at the very edge of the field. I walked slowly towards her, but she just stood and walked away.

For a few yards I tried to catch up with her, but it was no use. I turned and slowly trudged back to the farm.

For the next few weeks it was always the same; a night of tossing - waking up sticky and sad, a huge pile by the front door (only once – on the Sunday - caused by the dog); Fan mail, modelling offers, contracts and a free sample of mint sauce, a quick shower and the slow forlorn trudge up towards the old oak tree - only to see Dolly stand and walk away. I could not even get close enough to beg for forgiveness.

I remember it was a Saturday morning. One of those early autumn days when there is a touch of frost giving a certain sharpness to the air, when the dull heat of summer is on the wane and the sunlight seems to sharpen itself on the air. The leaves on the old oak tree were starting to redden and brown. I saw that Dolly was not alone under the oak tree.

I nearly turned back then, thinking that she had found someone else, someone new, someone who knew - almost instinctively - how to treat a ewe. When I moved a few yards closer, I saw she was with old Jacob. I felt a smile of relief. I knew that Jacob was no threat, not since that incident with the apprentice farm-hand several Christmases ago, an incident that made old Jacob too scared to go within a hundred yards of the holly tree, let alone even contemplate tupping.

Jacob turned his old head towards Dolly as he saw me come over the rise. As I refastened my trousers, I saw that he nodded to Dolly. She stood and stared at me. I wiped my hand on my trousers and stood waiting too, almost unable to breathe. She looked at me, around at the field and back at Old Jacob.

He nodded again and nudged at her flank with his greying nose.

As Dolly stood there, as I stood there, I looked up at old Jacob. It may have been a trick of the light, but I had the feeling he winked at me. He nudged Dolly again and she took three slow steps forward. I took one step forward and held my arms open.

Dolly ‘baaaed’ and ran towards me. I knelt down as she came towards me, her impetus knocked me over and we rolled, me holding her tight and swearing to never let her go, down to the bottom of the hill. As we rolled I cursed myself for the mistake I had made with Dolly and the mistake I had made in letting some of the cattle into that field a few days earlier.

Roll, squelch, roll, squelch.

Roll, squelch, roll, squelch.

Roll, squelch, roll, squelch.

I made a mental note to reduce the amount of roughage I was putting in the cattle feed.

We arrived back at the farmhouse. I was surprised to see that old Jacob had followed us down the hill, in his case wisely skirting past each of the cowpats. I thought about offering Dolly a bath - she was already starting to attract some of the flies over from the dog’s latest pile by the door. But she had that look in her eye.

Meekly, humbled, I followed her up the stairs. The sight of her haunches rolling under the fleece as she mounted the stairs brought back the sweet memories; I could feel the sweat breaking out on my brow and the familiar tightening of my underpants.

At the top of the stairs, something made me look down into the hallway. Jacob was there, looking up at me.

“Baaa,” he said and ambled off into the front room.

I wondered what he meant, but only for a moment. I could see Dolly in the bedroom, standing next to the bed. Sheepishly she nudged my ’romancing’ wellies with her nose. Forgetting Jacob, I rushed into the bedroom, throwing off my dung-encrusted clothes as I ran.

It was the most erotic time of my life. Never before had I experienced anything like it. Not since Old Mad Widdlepants the shepherd had first introduced me to the carnal delights of his flock when I was a mere lad of 13. If there is such a thing as heaven, it could only be a mere shadow of that time I spent on that bed with Dolly. I’m sure I saw steam rising from my wellies at one point.

A full minute and a half after leaping on that bed I fell back exhausted. Dolly licked me on the cheek. I could smell the grass on her breath. I lit a cigarette and lay back, wishing I could tell her how I felt.

I looked across at Dolly. “Baaa!” I said.

There was a strange scuffling sound and then a sharp yelp from downstairs. Sighing, I stubbed out the cigarette and took off my wellies. At the bedroom door, I turned to look back at Dolly. I almost went back to put the wellies back on.

Downstairs the dog was cowering in the corner. I looked around but there was no sign of a fresh pile. Jacob was over in the corner where I kept all my correspondence. (The pile of letters reminded me I was running low in the bathroom and I needed to take some more of Dolly’s fan mail in with me next time. It wasn’t that soft, or that long, but it was cheap and the dog was not even tempted to steal it.) There was what looked like a scrap of the dog’s hair caught on one of old Jacob’s horns. The hair seemed to be the same colour as the fur around the dog’s bollocks.

At first, I couldn’t quite make sense of what Old Jacob was doing. He was standing on the pile of modelling offers I had received for Dolly and tapping his foot at a couple that had, somehow, seemingly become dislodged from the pile. He looked up at me and ‘baaed’. I walked over to him.

“What are you trying to tell me?” I said. I felt a bit stupid, after all this was a sheep I was talking to. Mad Old Widdlepants did used to talk to his sheep, that was true, but then - that was why we called him mad.

Old Jacob just inclined his head to one side as he looked up at me. I had a sudden desire to check how much mint sauce I had in the cupboard. The moment passed and I realised what Jacob was attempting to convey to me.

“Do you reckon Dolly might be interested in this kind of thing then?”

Jacob nodded twice. I looked down at the money they were offering: £300, that was enough to spend the night with Gladys the Barmaid down at The Ewe and Wellies three hundred nights in a row. For that kind of money, she would even leave her teeth in - all three of them.

Jacob ‘baaed’. I could see he had some idea of what I was thinking.

“Of course, it will be Dolly’s money,” I said. I thought of the life she could lead, a rich young sheep in the nation’s capital, surrounded by the beautiful people, young and glamorous. I thought about the hectic nightlife; the sex, the drugs, the wild parties, pop music and gardening programmes on the TV every night.

For the first time, I was scared of losing her. The glamour of the London lights could so easily turn a young sheep’s head. What would happen to her if she fell in with the wrong crowd; the drink, the drugs and all that? What about if some pop star, some film actor fell for her? How would I be able to compete with that?


It was almost too horrible to contemplate. I could hardly bring myself to think about it, but once it was there in my mind I could not stop thinking about it, it worried at my thoughts like a dog chewing on a postman. What about if...? What about if some, some politician fell for her? How would we ever be able to bear the shame, the horror? There would be no alternative. We would have to leave the valley, change our names, start a new life somewhere. Maybe we would, if the worst came to the worst, even have to go to Wales. The horror was too much to
comprehend. I slumped down into my seat.

Eventually I looked up; Dolly was standing in the doorway. She had been for a dip and looked stunning, radiant. My underpants immediately became three sizes too small, despite the fact that I knew she was going and there was nothing, nothing at all I could do to stop her.

“So, you’ve made up your mind then?” I said.

“Baaa.” She nodded.

“You know I love you.”

“Baa, baa.”

“Isn’t there anything I can do, or say, that will make you change your mind, make you stay?”


I cursed myself for taking those photographs, for sending them off to Farmer’s Weekly. But I knew there was nothing I could do to stop her now. She looked back only once as she and Jacob left the house.

(This one is quite old, as you can probably tell from the name of the sheep – one of my earliest – see here, and here for example)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The World’s Biggest Grossing Film Star

Pumpkin Dropincentre became the world’s biggest grossing film star, in the main, because of her first-ever staring role in the Hollywood blockbuster March of the Killer Death Sprouts, where she played the role of the world’s leading environmental scientist Dr Gaia Bunnykisser.

In the film, the killer death-sprouts of the title are – of course - an invention of the fascistic American military-industrial complex conspiracy. Dr. Bunnykisser realises the threat these mutant vegetables pose to the free world through her specialised knowledge of the environmental and ecological damage that these nuclear-irradiated killer death sprouts could cause, which forces her to take a stand against the forces involved in the conspiracy. It is only Bunnykisser’s specialised scientific understanding that enables her to face the threat of these evil vegetables alone with only the aid of a massive chain gun, a pair of very tight shorts and a rather skimpy top.

Anyone overly familiar with sprouts will – of course – be aware of their massive potential for atmospheric pollution. Therefore, it is her discovery of a rather large cloud of such toxic gasses that leads Dr Bunnykisser to explore the region around Area 7.14142842854285, the American Military’s most famous secret base. After a long life or death struggle against the excruciatingly poor marksmanship of the base’s guards, eventually Bunnykisser manages to destroy the entire base with a number of satisfyingly large explosions, which – surprisingly – seem to cause her little or no environmental concerns about the consequences of such a large amount of atmospheric pollution.

The success of the original film resulted in two sequels, which – despite each featuring even skimpier tops and tighter shorts than the original film - did not quite do as well at the box office. However, Dropincentre’s megastar status was assured, and remains so to this day.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Holy Tax-Inspector Immersion Day

Now, as the spring at last begins to evade the winter’s frosty claws, we must get ready for Holy Tax-Inspector Immersion Day. For now is the time to prepare the Holy Immersion Custard, so that it has time to fully mature in readiness for the great day itself.

Of course, the children will be getting excited too. Each probably already demanding to be the one to hand up the traditional Holy Tax-Inspector Immersion Day decorations, such as the withered bunch of daffodils hung upside down from the mantelpiece, the buttered goat in the hallway, the precise traditional arrangement of liquorice allsorts on the top surface of the DVD Player. No doubt, they will also be looking forward to wearing their special Holy Tax-Inspector Immersion Day outfit of bobble hat, sequined strapless bra, leather granny-bloomers and green wellies with white spats.

Over the last few years there has been a growing trend among teenagers to add a motorised twirling - and illuminated - bow tie to the traditional Holy Tax-Inspector Immersion Day costume. I - for one - can see no real harm in this. I believe that our traditional festivals must evolve with the times, or be lost forever as times change and move on.

Anyway, I must close now, as I have to oil our local bank manager in readiness for the great day itself.

Good night, and Happy Holy Tax-Inspector Immersion Day to one and all!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Trilobite Hatstand – Revolutionary Poet, Playwright And Arc-Welder

Trilobite Hatstand - the almost legendary poet, playwright and arc-welder - first met Aorta Mammary-Swelling at the gates of the world-famous Tipton shipyards. Aorta latter confessed that she was at the shipyard gates solely on the look-out for a bit of rough. This was, of course, after her in-depth analysis with Freud himself while both were briefly in Bewdley, one December afternoon, at one of the now-infamous Prolestrangler-Ankletrouser country house weekends. Freud revealed in their twenty-three and a half minute session together that Aorta - due to a previously unconscious childhood trauma where she had discovered the undergardener and the upstairs maid secretly oiling her father's stapling machine together - could achieve orgasm with a man only if he smelt faintly of oil.

Trilobite Hatstand - an Oxford graduate - had studied Marx with all the eager zealotry that only the independently-wealthy could. This bright-eyed newly-committed radical decided that it would be he who would be the champion the working classes so obviously needed, if not desired. So, he selflessly devoted himself to becoming that working-class hero, no matter what the personal cost to himself, or - if too dangerous - his valet.

To this end, Hatstand immediately turned to writing poetry, and began to seek some way of getting his hands dirty. Eventually he took up an apprenticeship in arc-welding. It was only three weeks after he took his first job as an arc-welder at the Tipton shipyards that he met Aorta, who was hanging around the shipyard gates looking for a man oily enough to get her excited.

It was love - or at least, lust - at first sight for Hatstand and Mammary-Swelling. As soon as their eyes met across the crowd of workers exiting the shipyard, they knew they were destined for each other. Joining hands in the midst of the crowd of workers, they knew their love would last forever. Not wanting to waste a moment, the two young lovers, immediately ran to Hatstand's waiting Rolls-Royce, urging the chauffer to hasten to Aorta's Tipton mansion as fast as possible.

Mammary-Swelling later confessed that they were so much in love that they could hardly wait for their servants to undress them, and - for a moment - considered the - then very daring - option of undoing their own buttons, but propriety prevailed. So, once their servants had manually assisted each of them to the necessary level of arousal, they began to make passionate love.

The very next day, however, in a fit of romantic ideological fervour, Hatstand set off to join up for the Spanish Civil War. After a few days of confusion trying to discover which was the most ideological-correct side to join, Hatstand soon found himself, and his valet, on the frontline.

Tragically, though only two weeks later - for some unknown reason, and in a seemingly devastating lapse of professional judgement - Hatstand's valet allowed his young master to attempt to lob his own hand grenades.

Hatstand's body - what bits of it they could find - along with most of the body of his valet was returned, to the family home a few weeks later.

Hatstand was buried at several places in the grounds of that house, while the remains of his devoted valet were - in line with the terms of Hatstand’s Last Will and Testament - fed to his young master's dogs.

Aorta Mammary-Swelling never really got over the loss of Hatstand, her one true love, and selflessly decided to devote the rest of her all too short life to the relief of the manual workers in the heavy industries of the West Midlands. She died only three years later, trampled to death when the iron foundry’s amateur football team she was helping relieve discovered it was almost closing time and they all suddenly needed to get to the bar for last orders.

Monday, May 04, 2009

New Sexual Offences Laws Proposed

The Home Secretary, for a modest fee (including legitimate expenses incurred), yesterday announced that the government would be bringing in new legislation to, as she put it, ‘clarify some of the new Sexual Offence laws the government plan to introduce during the current Parliamentary session.’

‘It is obvious,’ she said, after checking her expense claim for the interview, ‘that there are still some – admittedly small – areas of life we haven’t quite passed enough laws about. So, after some more research we’ve had made up, we have decided that criticising the actions or members of the government in any shape or form is quite obviously some form of weird sexual deviation. Therefore, we owe it to the hard-wanki hard working people of this great country to make sure such perverted and disgusting practices are made illegal as quickly as possible. Then, the people of this great country can carry on with their lives safe in the knowledge that we are going about claiming expenses for the hard work we pretend to do, without having the threat of being criticised by these depraved perverts hanging over us.’

‘As the Prime Minister has so recently shown,’ she continued ‘on the very, very, few occasions we do get found out for cock screwi messing it up - not that we ever do, of course – we are not afraid of apologising for our errors, especially when it all began in America, and so it is not our fault at all.’

The new law states that ‘anyone found, or even suspected of, criticising the government in any way, shape or form will be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison, have their name added to the Sex Offenders register as a weirdo perverted deviant, and have their house burned down by a rampaging mob.’

‘I think people will see these measures are just and fair,’ the Home Secretary added, while putting in an expense claim for the wear and tear to her lipstick caused by our interview. ‘After all, we are only doing what is right for this country, therefore it must follow that all those who criticise us must be perverts and deviants who shouldn’t be allowed any of the few remaining rights we haven’t had time to abolish yet. Thank you, and would you mind just signing this expense claim for me?’