Monday, 31 December 2012

That wasn't the year that was.

Well, I suppose - As it's the last day of 2012, I should do some sort of hoitsy-toitsy review of the year... High points, low points, mid points - What trended on Twitter, how many people found the Blog interesting, how much my personal Facebook index flopped around like a halibut in a Zumba class.

But I'm not going to, I have a memory like a sieve and the few things that I can remember actually happening, I can't remember when it happened or to who and with what.

I might make some stuff up I suppose - Hey, that might work - In fact, that's what I'm going to do! A month by month guide to things that didn't happen in the last year.


An early news report from Khazakstan informed us that civilian contractors were transporting a Sperm Whale by air, using one of those huge Russian sky-hook style helicopters and an intricate system of thin straps and pullies - It turns out that the whole thing had been organised by an Italian company and the instructions had been translated from Italian to Khazakstani by the same Icelandic chap from the Dutch East Indies who writes out the instructions for Ikea. Within minutes of taking off, the poor cetacean suffered terminal garroting and fell into six neat pieces. Luckily, local villagers were able to follow some supplementary instructions, and fashion the remains into three free-standing bookcases and a very avant-garde table-lamp.


Shoppers in Sheffield, UK, were startled to find that due to an issue with autocorrect at a local advertising agency, a launch event for the BluRay release of the X-Men origin film 'Wolverine' had become a little more feral than expected. Where the original instruction had been 'Make sure the guy in the Wolverine suit gets to Meadowhall by 09:00' - It appeared on the Talent-Wrangler's iPhone as 'Make sure you release 900 live Wolverines in Meadowhall - Guy'. In the ensuing chaos, four people were bitten to death - two seriously, one by a policeman.


March will be remembered, more than anything, for the temporary repealing of the laws of conservation of momentum by the US Senate. The reason that this was a temporary change was that not much research had been done beforehand and no-one realised that this would make any form of 'Coasting' impossible - This alienated one of the largest US demographics - i.e. The 15-35 year old, itinerant, disallusioned skateboarding company director - And Google threatened to launch a class-action suit due to lost productivity at its HQ, as no-one was able to use the swings and slides.


Apple fanboys were shocked to learn that they had been taken in by a complex ruse perpetrated by Samsung. An email had been sent to anyone with an or email address, offering them the chance to take part in the new Beta Test of the printable iPhone 5. The 'dupes' queued for hours at their own home printers, after being told that the device would be launched at 00:00 on April 31st, a completely new day, that would only exist for the Apple glitterati - At 11:59 on the 30th, a print job was generated that printed out a picture of a house-brick with a smiley-face painted on it by a duck. The joke was on Samsung however, as this proved to have slightly greater functionality than the standard iPhone 5.


Plans were unveiled by NASA to recreate the original Starship Enterprise in Earth orbit. The $60 Billion dollar project stalled however, as not enough people could be found who were willing to be boarded into the walls for the entire five-year mission and operate the sliding doors whilst making the 'Shhhht' noise.


June played host to the hottest day ever recorded in the history of the known universe. It occured when an office party prank at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland went horribly wrong. A group of scientists, bored with making drinks that changed colour indicating the arousal level of the drinker, decide to see what would happen if you accelerated a shish-tikka-donner mixed kebab (with extra salad) to lightspeed. The effect was devastating, but thankfully shortlived. As the chilli sauce reached
299,792,459 m/s its quantum state changed to anti-chilli and a small, but quite fragrant sun was instantly created - raising the local temperature for Western Europe to approximately 74.2 bajillion degrees.


On the 8th. Due to an unusual weather pattern, 95% of the world's remaining 17,600 White Rhino performed The Timewarp - from Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror show. The quake produced when they all initially 'Jumped to the left' caused massive flooding in Botswana and large cracks to appear on the peak of Kilimanjaro - It's not known why the remaining 5% didn't join in, but the prevailing research shows that they were probably Mama-Mia fans.


August shall be remembered for the temporary cessation of all sporting activity on the UK mainland - Absolutely nothing competetive happened. TV programming that would normally have been sport related was replaced by re-runs of Come Dine With Me. Even conkers was outlawed. Anyone caught flouting this new ruling was taken to Sebastian Coe's underground hideout and birched ruthlessly until they'd learned their lesson.


Danish inventor Myrtryk Von Hunboltzon premiered his world-beating new invention - The Cat-a-porter, a method of instantly transmitting cats from place to place globally. Initial trials proved effective as cats of all sizes, colours and personalities were transmitted around the world. Unfortunately, it all turned out to be a massive con, as the cat that was being 'transported' was in fact, being minced by hidden equipment and not transported at all. All Von Hunboltzon had actually invented was a device for spontaneously creating cats out of thin air.


The world of Fortean Research gained another martyr in early October as Brigadier Hawksworth McTavish-Silverplib (Retd.) completed his two year stalk-fest of the Beast of Bodmin in spectacular fashion. The Brigadier, known to local Beastarians as 'Mad Dangler McTavish' due to his habit of hunting the beast a Magic-tree car air freshener tied to his genatalia to mask his scent, was believed to have cornered the animal in a disused barn. His mangled remains were discoved in various places scattered around Cornwall. He is survived by an English Springer Spaniel called Leonard.


Almost nothing of any note happened in November, the tides continued in their sploshey up-down motion, birds flew south, cheese matured and the complex system of checkes and balances that we call life continued unabated. Right up until the point where every man, woman and child who lived through the 1980's was discovered to have been some kind of pedophile or assorted rapist, sheep worrier or sodomiser. Apart from Bruce Forsythe, he was outed as a vampire and ritually staked by Tess Daley on the set of 'Strictly Come Dancing'


Hollywood news that peaked in December was centered around the revelation that Kristen Stewart, 'Star' of the Twilight films and Snow White and the Huntsman, did not actually exist. She was outed as a completely digital construct by her ex-partner Cedric Pattinson. When questioned by a representative of the Jo McCarthy Rights for Real Humans group, Pattinson admitted that he thought it strange that Stewart dissapeared every time there was a power outage at their shared apartment in East Compton, LA. However he thought that this may have been due to her childhood spent in California. It was also discovered that it was during one of these power outages that her facial expression subroutine had been deleted.

Well, there you go, a month by month list of things that didn't happen in 2012 - I hope to continue making youse guys shake your heads in mild disbelief in the new year.

Let me leave you with a quote from my good friend Pedro Vader that I think sums this year up.

'If you stick your hand right inside, and I sort of make a sawing motion like this, do you think you can feel it?'

Friday, 28 December 2012

Take me to your Lederhosen

I'm feeling self-referential this morning, so I'm going back to a subject that's close to my gizzard.

Alien Abduction...

People who know me and/or have visited Dandy Towers will appreciate that the first floor library is mainly comprised of Science Fiction books, a smattering of Horror, many, many 'Fo' dummies' books and an English to Dutch phrasebook. I like a getaway from reality to be a getaway and how much further can you getaway than to the thirteenth bifurcated throne-room of Emperor Fun'dun'kmant'ine the Socially Inept who happens to command a fleet of ten thousand gravity-powered, cloakable, Star-Killerons and is father to the shrew-gratingly beautiful F'nurk'ma'chewb'utfutnut, whose attributes are both talked about in and visible from, low orbit.

I'm not biased, I like everything from the high space opera stuff as described above to the 'It was Earth all along' shock twist in the tail, OMG I'm so original, genres. I've been reading this sort of stuff for the best part of forty years and I've read pretty much all the basic stories, and some of the not so basic ones, there can be some stuff you really have to think about, like;

Boy meets girl, girl turns out to be thousand year old alien and runs away. Girl meets other boy, boy dies bravely in intergalactic war, boy revived by enemy soldier. Spaceship turns out to be the killer, girl turns out to be the spaceship. Boy turns out to have imagined the whole thing, Both boys are the same person. Girl is one of the boys' Grandmother, but not the other's.

You see, with my training and experience, I understand all that - I mean, it helps that I wrote it, but still... You'd think I'd be immune to all the associated Sci-Fi tomfoolery. But the whole Alien Abduction stuff does tend to put the wind up me a bit - I can read about it, no problem - I've got many books full of accounts from people who claim they've been abducted, taken aboard your actual spaceship, by your actual aliens and either been viciously subjected to vicious experimentation or given a bit of a tour and had a lovely chat about the threat of impending thermonuclear war and dropped off with only an itchy sub-dermal implant to remember them by.

I think I might just be a bit gay about the idea of being being anally probed - Hang on, that might not be right, I mean I'm really not a fan of the whole idea.

You know how in the horror films, you've got the soon to be victim, running through the forest in the middle of the night, being pursued by (If it's a decent director) a half-glimpsed monster, when she comes across a rickety woodshed, forces her way inside and slams the door. She immediately feels safe, even though we've previously seen it tear a train apart using only its nipples and eyebrows. Well, you don't get that respite from alien abduction, most abductees are asleep when they're 'taken'. You might get a bright light and a wooooo-wooooo-wooooo noise if'n you're lucky, but that's about your lot until you wake up in a white room full of the little grey dudes with the big black eyes giving it the old 'This might sting a bit' routine as they plunder your nether-regions with a nuclear powered eggwhisk.

And that's the other thing... If you'd asked a bunch of kids in the '60's to draw you an alien, you'd have got a mix of wild and wonderful pictures from two-headed parrots to octopus footed centipedes and everything in between. Do that now and the chances are you'll mostly get the picture that most of you just thought of (OK, apart from you people who misread 'AN' alien as 'THE' Alien) - You know, the little dudes with the pear shaped heads, massive black eyes and no visible genitals, known by one and all as Apple Store Employees... Erm... I mean Greys.

It's something I've been thinking about for a while, is this image being drummed into us? Are we being made ready for a big 'reveal' by a conglomeration of Western Governments? So that when the curtain is pulled aside and it turns out that we've had Zarp and Plurb from Zeta Reticulii coaching the direction of mankind's development since the Roswell crash we all just go 'Ah, right you are then'?

I read recently that according to a recent study even young babies recognise pictures of Greys as being a 'thing' rather than just an abstract shape. This brings up another two questions;

1 - Why are they able to do that?

2 - Why would anyone be doing that research?

I think we should all be desperately worried - Either that there's an alien invasion going on by stealth - Or I'm as mad as a donkey wearing lederhosen on a tightrope.

Either way, no-one's sticking anything up my butt, without at least buying me dinner first.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Bandits at 2 O'Clock! What do I do until then?

I remember it like it was yesterday (even though it was over twenty years ago). I'd launched from a small airbase on the eastern border of Finland, the one it shares with what is now Karelia - But was at the time, as far as we were concerned, just another part of the western USSR. I was flying low and slow, trying to minimise my radar signature, not easy in such a mountainous region.

The sanctioned mission was simply to destroy a train, transporting tanks and ammunition to fortify the small, but strategically important town of Onega, but, as ever, I had maxed my weapons loadout, as there were always brownie points available for hitting targets of opportunity. It took me almost an hour of flying over barren steppe to find the target, it was on an uncharted line just west of Pavlovskaya. I could just see SAM sites on the edge of the detection range of my passive radar, not close enough to bother me of course, but worth remembering all the same.

looping around to bring myself onto an intercept vector, I thumbed the weapons select switch until the AGM-65E(i) came on-line, my centre MFD showed an image of the train below and I checked the range. 20 Clicks, within range but only just, I waited for a few seconds until I'd closed to 15, rotated the stores bay open and then launched the first missile. No matter how many times you do it, the jolt of the munition dropping away and the roar as the rocket engine engages is something you never get used to.

The small screen showed me the weapon's track as it sped towards the target at over 1,000 KpH. Seeing as I wasn't paying, I thought that I'd send in another one to keep it company. I launched the second Maverick, rotated the bay closed and turned south-east, realising that the air would soon be filled with MiGs looking for payback. The first missile chose that second to hit and I saw the plume of flame, the screen changed to show the track of the second missile, just as it detonated inside what must have been the ammunition storage car, this second explosion dwarfed the first and caused the almost instantaneous derailment of the entire train.

Looking down at the battlemap, I noticed that I'd received a message from an E-3 orbiting high overhead. It seems that my secondary target had been confirmed as a Typhoon class nuclear submarine due to be launching from the repair-base at
Severodvinsk - I had to destroy it before it made it to the safety of the polar ice-cap. I set the waypoints and headed north towards the coast. As I cleared the foothills of the mountains and started across the vast swages of pine forest, I detected several mobile SAM sites blocking my way to the north, I should have known that it wouldn't be that easy.

I lost altitude again until I was skimming the treetops, knocking the powdered snow from their top branches with the vectored exhaust from the turbo-fans, I canted gently to the left and headed out over the White Sea. The missile launch alarm caught me completely by surprise, I hadn't seen a radar site come online anywhere close enough to detect me. I'll admit that I panicked, I'd become complacent after a ten completed mission streak returning a plane to base without a scratch had earned me a place in the base's Sierra Hotel... Big mistake!

The threat classification system identified the inbound as a Grail, with passive infrared guidance. That explained why I hadn't seen a SAM site come online, somewhere behind me was a Russian soldier who just happened to have a Grail-launcher with him, and no doubt a field radio. Things were going to get hotter from now on. A barrage of flares confused the rocket for long enough for me to try to get out of range, in case he had a similarly equipped friend. I knocked the throttle forward and ordered the terrain-following autopilot to hug the waves, coming around in a long, slow loop, I set course south-east again, intending to fly right down the throat of the sub-pens.

It only took a few minutes for my forward cameras to make out the base, there wasn't much to see, a collection of hardened concrete boxes descending into the water, huge steel pressure doors blocking their entrances. All except one, one door was wide open and in front of it floated the massive, 40,000 tonne bulk of the target. My radar showed SAM sites lighting up all around the docks like killer Christmas decorations and I realised that a low-altitude run might be the best way to take out the target, but it would leave me with around twenty four S-75s trying to tear chunks out of my rear end as soon as I ran for it.

I targeted the sub, and selected my single ASALM missile. As soon as I had a positive lock, I rotated the weapons bay open, pulled back on the stick and lobbed the munition into the air, over a tonne of ordinance leaving the plane changed the flight characteristics fairly sublimely and I had to fight to keep from turning turtle. As soon as I had hit vertical, I rolled the plane through 180 degrees and pulled back on the stick, pointing myself back at the base, but this time upside down. Performing (even if I say so myself) a perfect snap-roll, I targeted the four closest SAM sites and launched Mavericks, then let loose the two CSW's that I'd had the quartermaster load on a whim, I'd never used them before, not really trusting the new, so called 'Smart' weapons.

It must have taken only two or three seconds from the start of my attack to the start of my exit run, but it felt like years, everything slowed down almost to the point of stopping, I could see my MFDs refreshing themselves. And I was hammering the chaff and flare release buttons so quickly that I didn't notice the 'OUT' indicators until I was 5 Clicks south of the site.

Three SAM sites had managed to get off a shot before they'd been wiped out in the firestorm (I learned to trust Smart weapons after that) and I was out of countermeasures. There was nothing I could do but get as close to the deck as possible and hope that I could evade them until they either hit something solid or ran out of fuel. I started to jink but the missiles continued to close. This was it, there was no way out, they had three times my speed and they were seconds away from being in detonation range. I pulled hard left and realised they weren't following me... Of Course! how could I have forgotten that the S-75 was guided from the launch station, the same launch stations that were now burning piles of twisted metal.

My self-congratulation was cut short as two of the missiles detonated behind me, luckily their approach vector was too oblique to tear any major chunks out of me, but they caused some minor damage to my control surfaces and as my port engine swallowed some shrapnel, I lost thrust.

There was nothing left but to set a direct course back to base, I had virtually no weaponry left, no countermeasures, no hope of escaping using engine power or maneuverability. My only chance was to keep the plane in the air long enough to make it back over the border to Finland, it didn't matter what happened after that.

Unfortunately, a flight of MiGs had different ideas, I'd made it as far as Lake Onega, not so far from where I'd hit the train. The threat detector was solid red, the air was full of Aphids and Atolls and I made the concious decision not to spend the rest of my days in a soviet prison. The end, when it came was in a riot of alarms and bright colours and if I'm honest, the pain was more from the realisation that I wouldn't be able to get credit for the disabling blow I had dealt.

I leaned back into my chair and stared at the screen, it said 'Retry Mission?' I pressed 'N' and turned off the Amiga - I'd forgotten just how much I enjoyed playing F29 Retaliator

Monday, 24 December 2012

As the Superhero said to the Stripper

I must stop using the phrase Super-Hero, as we established a few weeks ago, my made-up superpower - The ability to stop time - can only be used for evil, at least, as far as I can think of things to do with it.

Technically, I'm a Super-Villain, and as my Daughter reminded me, Villains get the best clothes.

So the time is here, pull up a bat-winged chair, that one over there upholstered in the suspiciously beige leather with the faint tattoos on it should still be warm, top up your skull shaped goblet with 'Claret' and I'll tell you the story of the origin of The Chimping Dandy.

Our story begins in the small West-Midlands hamlet of Birmingham, in a bar - as all the best stories do, I mean, I've yet to be enthralled by a story that begins 'The best thing about where we were was that there was free beetroot'. There were a number of us, and we were approaching that stage of drunken-ness just before the 'Hold my beer and watch this' casualty-fest.

It was a stag night, so it wasn't going to end well, we had no illusions about that - In fact, one of the guests was the bride to be's ex-husband - And was, after a number of drinks 'Loaded for bear'. The sensible thing to have done at this point would have been to go somewhere and get a meal, so that we could sit down for a while, get our breath back, sober up slightly, and line our stomachs with unfeasibly spicey food. What we actually did was to find another bar, and have another drink. We repeated this downwards spiral a number of times up (and then back down) Broad Street.

Then someone uttered the magic question 'is it Naked Lady Time?' In fairness, this had always been a planned part of the evening, to the point where the groom to be, had been stitched up like a kipper by his fiancee in that she had pre-arranged for him to be man-handled (well, woman-handled) by a selection of young(ish) ladies on the stage, on a throne, with shaving cream.

After a final beer, we adjourned to either The Rocket Club, or Legs Eleven - I forget which, and for the purposes of this story, it matters not - Both of them are establishments where semi-
pulchritudinous ladies will remove 95% of their clothes for a small monetary consideration. For those who have never been to one of these establishments (or those that have told their partners this at least) I will describe the scene. The main area was a large, darkened room, decorated in early 'Poundshop Transvestite Christmas'. There was a central stage area, populated by a single chair, complete with handcuffs. This in turn was surrounded by a selection of booths with banquette seating for ten or so people each.

There were three types of people in the room:

Punters - Men (almost exclusively) who had come to prove their superiority over women by remaining clothed whilst the women got naked.

Strippers - Girls who had come to prove their superiority over men, by charging them £10 to watch them get slowly undressed over a three minute period.

Security - Huge (and I can't state that enough) gentlemen, usually of afro-carribean descent, who's aim in life was simply to enforce the rule that the punters and the strippers never got closer than 2" away from each other.

Like so many of my stories, some description of the clothing worn by the group may assist in your suspension of disbelief. The brief had been 'Smart to smart-casual' mainly to enable us to enter any of the myriad drinking establishments with a minimum of fuss. I had bought a new suit for the occasion, and it was silver - Now, I don't mean that it was shiney silk, at the time I was neither that rich, nor mental enough to believe a silk suit would survive the evening, no - it was made of finest rayon/polyester mix, jaquard printed to look like the sort of pattern you see under a leaky car on a rainy day. Yes, it was about 300% more vulgar than you're currently thinking that it was.

Anyway, the evening progressed much as you would expect, every few minutes a young lady would wander into our booth and say 'Dance?' Now, nine times out of ten, one of the other guys would say 'Yes' and gyrating would ensue. I am not saying that I didn't say yes myself because I was some kind of saint, or that I felt guilty to be looking at another naked lady whilst I had a wife waiting for me at home, it was purely because watching the guy next to me get a dance was free.

Now, this seemingly hadn't gone un-noticed by some members of staff and I was approached by what I can only assume, was one of the 'senior' girls - I'd seen a couple of the other girls talking to her and pointing at our group and she had seemed to have been offering advice to them.

"Hello," she said and sat down next to me.

"Hey!" I replied, in what I hoped was an off-hand, but inoffensive way.

"Don't we have anyone you like the look of?"

"Ah!, no, I see, Maybe later, I'm still making notes."


I looked around furtively, hushed my voice and said, "Look, don't tell anyone, but we're doing research for a new show on Bravo" (For those unaware, Bravo was a channel that produced 'lads' programming - it's now mutated into Dave, which just shows Top Gear repeats)

"A new show? What's it about?"

"Well, we're going to visit various strip clubs around the country, but we're going to be filming an anchor segment from one place, like a base, every week, we're still trying to decide where to use"

"Oh, I did wonder." She replied, looking me up and down.

"What did you wonder?"

"Well, we don't get many people in here dressed like that - We figured that you were 'somebody', but none of the girls recognised you. Would you be filming the girls too?"

"Well, that would be up to the management, obviously, but I was wanting to include a couple in the title sequence, we'd have to see how it went. We'd have to audition obviously"

The young lady then stood up, and without monetary assistance, proceeded to audition, for two songs. She then sat down, waved at one of the security staff and mouthed the words 'On my break' to him. He nodded with the slow surety of a Norwegian glacier and continued scanning the room for distance infractions - A drink appeared on the table in front of her, and seeing my rasied eyebrows she said;

"Don't worry, it's already paid for. You must have seen some stuff"


"Doing programs like that, is it all the same kind of 'adult' shows?"

"Yeah, mainly... Swinging, Dogging, Chimping, that kind of thing."

"Chimping? I've never heard of that. Do I want to know?"

I leaned in close, keeping the regulation 2" distance of course, and explained it to her. The look of revulsion on her face started a change in me at the subatomic level, I could feel my time-bending abilities throbbing into life, I felt empowered, and I knew that things would never be the same again.

By proving to a jaded stripper, that there were still things in this world that could disgust even her, I had become...

The Chimping Dandy!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Dzit Dit Gaii

Imagine you're going on holiday, somewhere nice and warm, Barbados or Guatamala or somewhere like that - Somewhere you need to fly to though. You buy your tickets and pack your pants and your towel, because that's all you really need in places like that, right?

Your departure date comes around, the taxi arrives and you're whisked to the airport. Upon arrival, you are calmed by soothing music, the happy smiling faces of other travellers and the carefully thought out decoration of the terminal itself. Gradiose pictures and statuary with a global, geographical theme perhaps? Aircraft through the ages? Famous people with aviation backgrounds? All things that you're quite within your rights to expect...

Not if you fly out of Denver International you aren't - On initial arrival at the airport, you are confronted by a 30' high statue of a rearing horse with glowing red eyes, the locals have entered several petitions to have it taken down, siting that it is evil - In fact, the statue actually killed it's own sculptor as it fell on him whilst it was being completed!

If you manage to make your way inside with your wits intact, passing by two gargoyles bursting out of suitcases, you come across the dedication plaque, or capstone from when the building was completed. Apart from the large, Masonic Square and Compasses in the middle, which is enough to set the consiracy nuts off all on its own (Doesn't bother me, some of the nicest people I know are Masons) it houses a time-capsule to be opened in 2094 and it has a raised dais, with a vague resemblance to a keyboard that houses a repeat of the Masonic symbol and a braille translation of the inscription. There are them that say if you press the symbols in the correct order, the door to the secret underground bunker will open.. (Did you read that in a hushed pirate voice? - You should, ir sounds much better)

There are inscriptions in the floor, including the chemical symbols for gold and silver on the side of a mine cart and the Navajo phrase 'Dzit Dit Gaii' which means 'The Mountain that is White' - The inscription 'Mt Blanca' is also repeated in various places around the terminal - A very important place in Knights Templar mythology.

But the strangest thing you'll see, in my opinion at least, are the murals - I'm not going to post them here, because they're all over the net, but I will describe a couple to you. Try to keep in mind that we're in a public space, at an international airport, in the mainland USA, not a despot's palace in an out of the way corner of what used to be the USSR or a terrorist based republic in the Middle East.

There's one that depicts a giant nazi-esque figure, wearing a gas-mask and great-coat, with a giant sword spearing the dove of peace. He's surrounded by a slew of greiving mothers holding dead babies, in the bottom corner is a poem, written by a 16 year old child who died in Auschwitz... Just what you want to see before you catch your flight to Eastern Europe. There's one where the main feature is a scene of a group mourning three people in open caskets, surrounded by extinct or nearly extinct animals whilst the rainforest burns in the background - A poigniant image, certainly - But would you display it at an airport? Yet another shows the children of the world coming together, some of them carrying a selection of swords wrapped in the flags of warring states including the Palestinian & Israeli, Indian & Pakistani and British & Irish amongst several others, standing on a fallen statue of the unidentified gas-masked villain. Strangely, some parts of the murals have been recently painted over at the request of customers...

Weird, I think you'll agree - There are other odd things about the place, for instance, from the air it bears a close resemblance to a swastika. It was paid for mainly by a private investor, to the tune of some $5 Billion. It's alleged that five pentagonal structures were built, twelve stories high and then buried and used as foundations, rather than demolished as they were not to specification. It has triple-redundant water & power systems and a ventilation systems that stretches for miles outside the airport environs. It seems to have a higher incidence of windscreen and fuselage cracks than any other airport, this has been speculated to be due to high (or possibly low) frequency pulses emanating from below the airport itself.

Of course there are more than likely perfectly reasonable explanations for all of the above, the main one being that it's posted on the Internet it's probably tosh. But do a bit of research for yourself, immerse yourself in the world of the tin-foil hat wearing brigade, see what you can find - It might keep you busy over Christmas.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

But I feel fine!

Gods-Dammit! I should have kept the Nickleback 'If today was your last day' post until today shouldn't I?

Anywho, it seems that tomorrow is the end of the World, and if it means I don't have to travel the complete length of the M42 at 10mph again, I welcome it with open arms. I got to thinking, whilst I was sat in traffic, for two hours, this morning... What form will Armageddon take?

Hollywood has given us several different possibilities - Films with deeply original names like '2012' and 'Armageddon' have covered the natural disaster angle quite extensively - We've had ELE asteroid impacts, floods, ice-ages, solar prominences & alien invasions - All the big bang endings that can be depicted with massive special CGI effects and Dolby / THX surround sound.

I'm convinced that the end will come tomorrow with a whimper, rather than a bang. The end will be gradual - I mean it'll still be fairly quick, we've got to cram it into the 24 hours after all, but it won't be all 'Ah! what's that?' Bang! *Dead*.

Below I list some possibilities that I think have a very real chance of ending the world:

The magnetic North and South poles will swap places - This will render all GPS devices non-functional causing apocaplyptic car-crashes all over the planet - The only people to survive will be iPhone 5 owners who suddenly find that AppleMaps is now correct - Unfortunately a significant proportion of these people have under developed genitals, and the remainder of the human race will slowly die out.

There will be a massive explosion of radiation from the sun which will grow ducks to the size of horses and shrink horses to the size of ducks. This will, at a stroke, wipe out global bread reserves as flocks of giant mallards decend on supermarkets and bakeries and also destroy 90% of the agrarian economies around the world as it suddenly takes 200 horses to pull a plough. It will also cause the almost instantaneous fouling of our inland fresh water supplies - I mean, ducks are pretty filthy animals to start with...

The Moon will turn out to be the egg of a giant, mutant, Star-Goat (As I have always secretly suspected) and planet earth will be grazed to the mantle whilst the uncontrollable tides boil the seas away into space.

The amount of IT/technological waste that companies have been stockpiling due to people not really understanding the WEEE regulations will achieve sentience, we will be subjugated and decimated by millions of suddenly self-aware DVD players that have gotten tired of having shiny discs inserted into them and want to know how we like it when they do it to us.

The hidden back-masking embedded in the REM track 'It's the End of the World as we know it' will kick in as it is played incessantly by radio stations around the world. This will turn us all into mindless zombies who... Oh.. I don't know... Shave our heads, look painfully thin and eat each other's brains, or something.

But you don't need me to tell you, after all, most of you are incredibly intelligent, or you wouldn't be reading this Blog, that the chances are we're all still going to be here on Saturday morning - I don't mean here, at my desk, in Coventry - I mean generally where all of you are now, within a few miles at least.

Unless of course, there was just some massive mix up in translation... Where some aged scientist sat in a dusty office somewhere thought the Mayan Calendar said, 'The chain will end by a huge Comet on 21/12/12' and it actually said 'Huge electrical chain Comet will cease trading on 21/12/12' - If you take into account Gregorian shift and leap years and stuff - They were bang-on.

Just as likely in fairness...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Tell Merrill to Swing Away

Has anyone got a film that effects them emotionally?

I don't mean 'I cried at the end of <Insert any film except Twilight>'

I mean from when you hear that it's on, through watching the opening titles and right up until the 'No animals were harmed in the making of this motion picture, soundtrack available on Geffen Records' message, your heart would pound and you would have feelings of excitement / fear / happiness / dread?

I would like to admit that have an unreasonable fear of the 2002 Mel Gibson vehicle - Signs, by M Night Shawaddywaddy. I don't mean I don't like to watch it, I watch it whenever it's on - It's just that I watch it from behind the sofa, with a pillow in front of my face and my fingers in my ears. And for a great portion of the film I'm actually looking at the fireplace, just underneath the TV rather than at the TV itself.

For those of you who havent seen it, it's about a Reverend, played by Aussie Mel, who loses his wife in a particularly grizzly car accident, this proves to him that God doesn't exist and he loses his faith.

(Ah, yeah, I'm going to assume that as the film's ten years old, if you were going to see it you would have done so already - So, as my fictional friend Melody Pond might say, beware *SPOILERS*)

He lives with his son (Asthmatic), his daughter (Who can't finish a whole glass of water due to some OCD-like deviancy) and his brother (Mad, but good at Baseball) on a farm in
Pennsylvania. Where they suddenly start finding crop circles. Queue alien invasion, flashbacks, tinfoil hats, Cameo by the Writer/Director (M Night Shebopaloola), fingers being cut off, messages from beyond the grave and the eventual realisation that having Asthma, OCD and being a bit mad, but good at baseball, might one day save your life, and that living with people like that can restore your faith.

Nothing there that's particularly scarey, It's no Hostel, certainly. And I don't have these feelings about any of M Night Shamalamading-dong's other films, The Sixth Sense had some 'Made me jump' moments, I'll freely admit, and Mrs Dandy worked out the twist about ten minutes into the film, as she will gleefully tell anyone who will stand still long enough. Unbreakable was, erm... Well... a bit rubbbish in fairness, even with SLJ being a major character. The Village was OK, and I didn't see the twist coming in that one either. Devil was fairly good in a 'stuck in an elavator' kinda way. And The Happening wasn't a bad flick, all considered, a decent premise and no feel-good ending - which is strange for a US made film.

Someone once suggested it was the Baby Monitor bit, where it was discovered that you could hear the aliens talking to each other with clicks and whistles using a baby monitor, but only if they were quite close. Or that it was the scene where they catch an alien on video from a kids birthday party, and it just goes about its business, not caring that it had been spotted. I understand that quite a lot of people don't like that bit.

Maybe it was the way it was depicted realistically, the whole 'This could quite easily happen' vibe you get, or I get at least. I don't know

All I do know is that it scares the willies out of me, but I really want to watch it now, I wonder if it's on?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Whistle, and She'll come to you my Girl

As Christmas has many associated traditions, I thought I'd reel some of them out in a 'Good Gods, what should I drone on about today' Kinda way.

The first one that I would like to have at is the Christmas Ghost Story. In the past, the BBC have done a cracking job of adapting the works of MR James (And others) into stories in the style of those told by the older generation, to the younger generation around open fire when the only lighting was provided by stuttering candles.

I present to you my own family Christmas Ghost story, a true account where names have not been changed, as no-one is truly innocent, are they?

it was the winter of 2002, we were a smaller family then - just the three of us. My Daughter was an accomplished talker and had quite a vivid imagination, despite only being three years old. She would often hold long conversations with her toys, posing them around a tea-service or arranging an improptue picnic for them.

Her mode of conversation was very adult, she would ask Piglet a question and politely give him time to reply, nod sagely and move to the next stuffed animal or doll, to see what their opinion on the situation was. This was the rule, rather than the exception and was thought to be quite 'cute' or even precocious by any assembled onlookers.

One afternoon, when Mrs Dandy went upstairs to collect her after her regular nap, she heard our daughter laughing and having one of her conversations, the gaps where she would normally wait for her toys to reply were slightly, but noticibly, longer. It also sounded like the toys were asking the questions, and my Daughter was the one doing the answering.

When the chat seemed to have reached it's natural conclusion, Mrs Dandy entered the room to see our daughter sat on the bed, alone. Alone in this case meaning no other toys, not the treasured Piglet or any of her other plushy inner circle.

"Who were you talking to Baby?"

"The Lady." she replied, in a completely disinterested tone.

"Which Lady?"

"Don't know, just the Lady, what's for Dinner?"

This was talked about for a couple of days as an odd occurance, but nothing really came of it and the assumption was made that 'The Lady' was an imaginary friend, based on a half remembered character from a Disney Cartoon or a Narnia book.

A few weeks later, we decided to make a photo-wall in the dining room, with family pictures from the past fifty or so years. The project took some time, with photos being printed then framed and mounted on the wall. I walked into the dining room one day to see my daughter staring at the pictures.

"Who's that?" I asked, pointing at a picture of her

"Me!" she shouted, excitedly

"OK, who's that?" I pointed at a picture of my Brother

"Unca Pete! - Who's that?" She asked, turning the game around and pointing at a picture of Mrs Dandy.

"That's Mummy!"

"Who's that?"

"That's MY Mummy" I replied, preparing to tell some stories of my youth.

"No, silly Daddy, that's The Lady!"

"Which Lady, Baby?"

"The Lady," In a tone that implied that I was quite possibly the stupidest person on the entire planet, "That comes and talks to me in my bedroom!"

I should probably explain that my Mother had died of cancer some fifteen years previously.

After some small amount of coaxing, my daughter told me that 'The Lady' regularly visited her and would ask if everone was alright and if she was happy. So far, so spooky, but that's not where the story ends.

As the identity of The Lady had now been established, a strange pall fell over the house, everyone seemed to be treading slightly lighter, a room you would normally walk through without turning on the light became a study in moving shadows and half-seen figures. Every creak of floorboards from the first floor was met with a strained silence to see if it evolved into footsteps.

As escalations go, the next 'stage' of the experience was strange, but for anyone who knew my mother, completely understandable.

My Daughter was (and still is) a reasonably sound sleeper, once she was asleep nothing short of a tactical nuclear strike would wake her up. Mrs Dandy often used 'Naptime' as a couple of hours that could be spent on housework that was otherwise difficult with a toddler in tow, such as dusting upstairs. One afternoon, she decided to try vacuuming, knowing that she wouldn't wake our daughter up.

I think she managed to use the vacuum for around fifteen seconds before it turned itself off, not at the vacuum, but at the switch on the socket. It took her some time to realise that that was what had happened as she assumed that something was loose, or the machine itself had overheated. The switch was turned back on and cleaning commenced for another few seconds until it was turned off again by the unseen hands.

My wife put down the vacuum, took a deep breath and turned to address the empty air:

"Look, Grandma Dandy, I'm not going to wake her up, everything is fine, we don't mind you visiting, but let me get on with my work"

The silence was deafening, which made the roar of the vacuum turning itself back on all the more of a shock.

After that The Lady's visits became less and less frequent, we think that she visited my Son a couple of times from things he's mentioned in conversation - But not to the extent that she did with my Daughter.

She did always say that she wanted a Grand-Daughter though.

Friday, 14 December 2012

T-wit - who?

Did you know, that it's physically impossible to move your hands wide enough apart to indicate how awesome owls are? Give it a go now - spread your hands apart as wide as you can... Is that it? No, sorry, owls are significantly more awesome than that. Probably twice as much.

They're like Birds of Prey V2.0 - I mean, your average Eagle, marvellous bird, don't get me wrong, can pick up a sheep and carry it back to the nest and feed it to its young, you don't get blackbirds doing that do you? But an owl, any old owl (with the possible exception of those tiny ones that live in holes in the ground) could do all that... Only silently - It could do it before the sheep / lizard / haddock had even woken up. One second the prey's having a lovely dream about grass or tapioca or something , the next it's torn up into chunks and being swallowed by something that looks a little bit like a transvestite zombie ET.

Weird thing that, owls are one of the few things in the animal kingdom that have ugly babies, I mean, I like owls... A lot, but you happen upon a nest of owlets when you're out for a stroll in the countryside and the whole 'Kill it with fire' instinct kicks in - They also smell incredibly bad and make a noise not unlike Satan with his Man-danglies caught in a revolving door.

We used to have a resident owl at Dandy Towers, there are photos of him on my Facebook page for my stalkers to take a look at. His name was Twist and he was frighteningly bi-polar. Incredible bird though, beautiful plumage. A European Barn Owl, who would sit, imperiously in the corner of the kitchen like a judgemental biscuit tin, watching you with his cold, dead, sharks eyes - right up until the point where he deemed you below his contempt and closed them. Ever been ignored by an owl? it does nothing for your self esteem.

This is the Owl in question, sat on the Mini-Dandy's head, some years ago

Owls are not the perfect indoor pet, they eject their waste from both ends with unpleasant speed, accuracy and regularity. They seem to void the bodily fluids of their food seperate to everything else and that is not a sight, or smell that you quickly get used to. But if you persevere, they can become merely incredibly troublesome rather than a right-royal pain in the rear.

They're nice to take out for a walk though, they'll sit on your shoulder quite happily, or more likely on your head - And you'll get a lot of attention. In fact, I once got stopped by a couple of WPCs when I was out with the owl and one of the rottweillers - Once all the coo-ing and the aww-ing had died down (It helped that the Rottie was particularly cute too) one of the uniforms turned to me and said,

'I bet you don't get mugged very often'

The owl took this as her cue to flap the short distance from my shoulder to my head, and relieve herself down the back of my neck. This did not do wonders for my already limited appeal to the opposite sex and they quickly continued on their patrol avec le grande vitesse.

If you Google the word 'Owls', pretty much every picture of a real owl that appears has an implied tag of 'Owl thinks: I will kick your ass'; and the ones that don't, look as if they suffer with some fairly severe mental retardation, this does nothing to assuage their general air of ass-kickery as they can now be filed under psychotic predators with inch long claws and no remorse.

They can do unnatural stuff too - Everyone and their rabbit knows about the whole head spinning 'round like Linda Blair watching speedway, but did you know that most of them can turn their heads upside-down too? Some of them can make one of their front toes point backwards to create inescapable double talons of tearing - Although they're not all conquering instruments of death of course, otherwise we'd all be speaking owlese and living in holes in trees - They've been given a couple of disabilities just to keep them in their place - They have no peripheral vision and their ears aren't on straight.

Despite all this, I would have one again quicker than you can stir fry a possum, this time I might have something a little bigger, maybe a Great Grey or an Eagle (Owl) - Something I could fit a saddle on, or at least have a half-suit of armour made for.

I'd call him Trevor

Thursday, 13 December 2012

That's NOT exacly what I meant, but...

'Change your material to fit your audience' they always say - Although they also say 'Cut your coat to suit your cloth' and 'Many a slip twixt cup and lip' and they may as well be Klingon for all the sense they make to me. One day, I shall hunt down these 'They' who say all these things and slap their nonsensical legs with a spikey deep-sea fish of some kind.

Anyway, material / audience... Right. There are some things you cannot say to some people - You can't say F**khead or W****r or S**t-eating Hobbit-faced slime-spewer who I would quite literally rather R*m-j*b a dead goat than talk to, to a small child who had just dropped their lollypop on the carpet.

You cannot say 'Race you!' and run off up a flight of stairs to someone suffering from a spinal injury and currently using a wheelchair (however temporarily) unless there is ample, high-speed, disabled access to the next floor up.

It is also frowned upon to call into question the cabling and electrical termination ability of our cousins from the Indian Subcontinent, unless you are a male member of the Royal family who can trace their recent parentage to the Hellenic areas.

However, the most fragile, the most pitfall strewn, the most likely vocal interaction to see you hung by the neck until you are dead is simply the one between an adult male and an adult female. There is not a single, solitary thing that one can say to the other that cannot be misconstrued as an attack on their masculinity/femininity/size/weight/length/sense of humo(u)r or general physiognomy.

Seemingly simple interrogatives such as 'Are you OK?' or 'Would you like me to do that?' are often misheard as 'What the hell's wrong with you this time, you petulant harridan' or 'For Jebus' sake will you stop fannying around with that and let someone significantly higher up the foodchain have a go'

You cannot comment that a member of the opposite sex is anything other than yoghurt-explodingly ugly unless you want your throw-away comment to be processed by your nearest and dearest's brain into the phrase 'Yes, they are a significantly more appealing sexual partner than you, and I would, should an opportunity present itself be up it (or on it) like a wombat on tepid custard'

I can virtually guarantee that everyone, male or female is nodding in agreement at this moment in time, apart from Mrs Dandy, who is thinking 'He's talking about me!' and hatching a plan to seperate me from parts of my anatomy that, which though sadly no longer functional, I still have a certain masculine attachment to.

Why do we do this? are we all so insecure? - You'll notice that I said WE there, I am just as likely to mishear 'And then Brian said...' as 'And whilst Brian was taking me roughly from behind, four other naked, priapic, men came in carrying a sign that said...' as anyone else, more so probably as my imagination is somewhat colourful compared to some.

Are we so eager to believe that our loved ones are evil that we constantly try to find the hidden meanings in what they say to us? Or is it that deep-down, we don't believe that we deserve to be loved?

Crap! we're all freaks - We should plan a yearly event, maybe one that lasts a whole month, where we take everything that anyone we supposedly trust says to us at face value. No second-guessing, no reading between the lines - We could call it, erm... Oh bugger, I don't know, something like Truthtember (only less gay-sounding) and celebrate it with cards that say things like 'Your Sister's good looking' and 'I work with someone whose shoulders are wider than yours'

I think it would be good for us all in the long run.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

What a long, strange, trip it's been.

Well, actually, no, it hasn't - I mean it's only been three weeks (and a day, for those of a more hawk-eyed persuasion) but we've smashed through the 1,000 hits ceiling. That's like an average of about 45ish hits per day!


Who'da thunk that an odd fat bloke, spouting rubbish, could make people waste their valuable time for no financial reward? Not me, certainly. I'm the Captain of the HMS Suprised, sailing out of The small South-Seas port of HaventYouLotGotAnythingBetterToDo.


Anywho, I suppose I'd better give you lot what you came for, rather than this self-congratulatory nonsence. If only I knew what it is you people actually wanted!

When I got home from work last night, there was a package waiting for me, it was some very good friends of mine who now reside in (or near at least) Boston MA. It was squidgy and soft, my first thought was that it was the possum gizzards that I'd asked them to look out for, but no.

It was a rather spiffing T-Shirt with the slogan Boba Fett for President

I was immensely pleased with this item as Mr Fett is my favourite:

  • Mandalorian
  • Sarlacc survivor
  • Star Wars character

(Thinking about it, if I'd changed the order of that list a little I could have saved me some typing - Hey, I don't pay by the character, stuff it!)

The thing is, I have no idea why he's my favourite - I mean, he wears an outfit cobbled together from a boilersuit, BMX pads and shoes that look as if they're made by Converse, he doesn't say very much in the way of pithy one-liners, every time he uses his jet-pack it always ends up with him having some wacky flight control problems and he doesn't seem to be able to shoot straight to save his life.

If you just take your view of Bubba Boba from the films then he's a bit of a loser, But then you think - The poor kid's earliest defining moment was prising his Dad's still warm head out of his helmet with a fish-slice, so I guess we should maybe cut him some slack.

I think it might be the idea of Boba Fett that I like rather than the reality (reality of a fictional character? - wheels within wheels dude!) The merchandising, the mythosaur skull logo - He's like an Intergalactic James Bond flying an orbital sander, the 'Bad' version of Han Solo.

I don't know, and it doesn't really matter. He's totally Badass

What I do know is that I'm wearing the shirt to work on Friday, before my daughter steals it and I never see it again

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

If I should die, think only this...

If anyone ever asks you, it's big and black, it looks like it's been burned, put out with dragon urine, burned again, lovingly sanded and repainted a rather fetching Baby Blue, then burned, with burning dragon urine and put out with a meat tenderising mallet. it has skulls and spikes, batwings and buckles and other, assorted things that you might find in a particularly interesting Goth girl's 'special' underwear drawer.

What am I describing? my current location of course - Death's door... I have been laid low by that most virulent of mortal agues, Columbian non returnable suppurating man-flu. I am officially dead, I am dictating today's Blog from beyond what you mere readers, would describe as 'The Grave' to a small medium (can you have a Small medium? are all mediums by their very nature, medium? - That would explain why they all wear such similar clothes.) called Gracie who just happened to be wandering past Dandy Towers as I was in the final throes of putrefaction.

Every time I cough, my lungs actually swap places.

When'ere I sneeze, I have to reel my eyes back into my skull with a handle on the side of my head, mounted for just that purpose.

To describe the inside of my head as 'Wooly' would not do justice to the 1.8 million sheep, all called Francoise, who are currently in residence within my metacortex.

If I lie down, there is a very real chance that I will drown in my own filthy, undulating ichor.

If I stand up for more than a few seconds, I feel as if I am about to fall, poleaxed, like an AT-AT that has been tripped by a virus-laden tow cable.

My eyes relay the world to me as a series of disjointed, abstract flashes of colour and brightness that I can only make sense of by looking at them through closed eyelids.

You may mock, especially if you are of the female persuasion. But it is a serious illness to which more NHS research budget should be diverted... Possibly away from things like 'Having a bit of a tummy ache' and 'Finding out why people sometimes cry uncontrollably when they're drunk'

I suggest that an entirely new branch of medicinal research should be instigated, purely to provide ways of dealing with the symptoms of this insidious virulence. There should be clinics full of nurses who would be trained to make sure that the infectee was never without those really soft tissues that men are too manly to buy, but are really nice on your nose. They should have something approaching a Utility Belt that contains various curatives, both medicinal and otherwise, such as medicated sweets and hand-held games consoles.

(Hang on, just need a second to work out the Nurse's Uniform / Batsuit combo)




(Gonna need another couple of minutes)


Anywho, enough of my problems, I'm trying to soldier on, stiff upper lip and all that, mustn't grumble. Although now that I come to mention it, I am a little short of breath... Beads of sweat forming the outline of a hang-gliding lion on my forehead... Vision... Fading... Ears... Ringing...


Friday, 7 December 2012

Something for the Weekend?

Hands up, all those people who thought it was funny when your Ever-Lovin' Chimpster got a job at a Hairdressers? One, two, some, many - is that two people at the back or one person with both hands up? What? Oh, that's not your hand... You're very kind sir, but I'm not that way inclined.

OK, keep your hands up if you thought was even funnier when I found out that I had to work one day a year in an actual salon, with real people, who have actual hair?

And keep them up if you thought this was even funnier when you remembered I am, for all intents and purposes, bald?

Now, take a look around at all the people who still have their hands up, don't forget the one guy standing behind the pot-plant in the corner, pretending to be a... a... What the hell are you doing to that Sturgeon? put it down! No, not there!, nobody's going to want that now are they, Where the hell did you get a wheelbarrow full of butterscotch Angel Delight? - Anyway, I digress, none of you are getting Christmas cards this year, you people who put your hands down at any point? Neither are you. It's nothing personal, I'm just not sending cards this year, I'm skint.

Back to the story - I called the Salon in Derby yesterday to announce that I would be arriving first thing in the morning to 'Do my thang!' You could hear the faint smell of panic and tightening of sphincters all the way in Coventry. I put the phone down and made inappropriate jokes about my minimal amount of power over people who didn't know who I was. Then I heard a funny noise.

'What was that?'


'That noise - The Beeep-Beep noise?'

'You've had a text on your BlackBerry'

'Really? Weird'

'Never had a text before?'

'Not on my work phone, no.'

So feeling a little stupid, I read the text, it said: [Do you like Black or White coffee?] Now, you have to admit that this a strange first text for anyone to recieve. I assumed that it was from the salon, and made a mental note to pick up some milk on my way in, nothing like being prepared. Then, again, Beeep-Beep! Knowing now what this noise signified, I checked my phone, it said: [Do you like puppies?] - Never has my Flabber been more Ghasted! (c) Frankie Howerd 1973. At this point, my colleague over the other side of the office dissolved into fits of giggles, it turns out that he had remote controlled the salon's computer, and got it to send me the texts. Touche Monsieur, Touche!

So I arrived at the salon at the crack of 9:30(ish) to be told that the manager had rang in sick, and the poor stylist had no real idea what was going on.

'I'm here to help you guys out, I can do whatever you need me to'

'You're not here to spy on us and report back on all the things that we're doing wrong?'

Did I mention that I'm a terrible liar? 'No..?' I squealed, like a constipated gecko. I think there was a chance that she may have seen through my complex web of subterfuge and deceit.

'Would you like me to, erm, clean something?'

'OK, how about those shelves?'

'All those? But there must be all of about, oh, I don't know, eight of them or something'

If I'm honest, the next three hours, flew past pretty quicky, and by the time I'd finished the first shelf I had gained the trust, and if I'm honest, grudging admiration of the entire staff, of one person... With my lightning powers of calculation, I figured that the other seven shelves would take me twenty-one hours. I am not a born shelf cleanerer it seems. I decided that my further efforts should be concentrated in a purely managerial / audit capacity. I weighed up the options, balanced what I knew about the salon against what I needed to know, turned to the poor stylist that I had been torturing with my very presence and said'

'I'm going for lunch'

Lunch was a pretty grown up affair consisting of a litre of Chocolate milkshake and a slice of pizza, that took me exactly the one hour to consume *cough*

On my return to the salon, things were getting busy, real people were having real treatments done to them by qualified people who seemed to actually know what they were doing, I felt very much out of my depth.

'I'm going to pop down to the other salon, and see what I can do down there'

'Uh-huh,' said the stylist. In fairness, I could have said 'I'm going to take this tin of beans and see how long it takes me to make it boil by just staring dissapprovingly at it.' And she would have cared exactly as much.

Down I went, into a similar situation again, Different salon, different stylist, same air of 'I know you're trying to help, but will you just get out of my way and let me do what I'm good at.'

Luckily, we have three salons in Derby, so I went to the third. Here at least, I made an impact. Oh yes... Impact.

If you were to think of the four words guaranteed to chill the blood of the average person, what would they be?

You're going to die?

I'm afraid it's positive?

Yes it is loaded?

Why should I care?

I feel that I found four words that trumped all of these today... 'I'm from Head Office' - It struck fear into the very entrails of the assembled staff, brushes were dropped, jaws hit floors, customers chairs spun around uncontrollably making the Zoidberg 'Whoop-whoop-whoop' noise, all hell was, quite literally, let loose.

Do you remember the seagulls from Finding Nemo? - Instead of 'Mine!' the cry that went up from the assembled staff was 'You want the Manager!' So the manager was found, I explained who I was, we all had a great laugh as we hosed the urine out of the salon and I completed my audit, such as it was.

The rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful, I did a bit of shopping and started my weekend an hour or so earlier than usual.

All in all, not a complete waste of a day.

(Please note, there is a significant amount of artistic license used in this dramatisation, everyone I met today was great and I would have no problem spending an entire day cleaning a shelf for them sometime in the future - Whether any of them feel the same way, well you'd have to ask them)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

But, if'n I wasn't me

Even the most content of us must have sometimes thought 'I wish I had that' or 'I wish I could do that' mustn't we?

I know I have, jealousy is the engine of aspiration is it not? If we were completely happy with what we had, why would we ever try to better ourselves?

But have you ever thought 'I wish I was him (or Her - Delete as neccesary).'? Meaning that you could actually sit inside their head like a phantom marmoset and experience what they experienced, get the adulation that was meant for them but you so richly deserve. Go to the right parties, get invited to the grand openings, have intimate knowledge of the right, if slightly underweight, supermodels?


Really? It can't be just me surely... Bugger!

OK, I guess it's declaration time, I'll do that thing that they make you do at your first AA meeting (or so I've heard)...

My name's The Chimping Dandy, and when I was ten years old, I wanted to be Martin Shaw! You know, out of The Professionals
With Lewis Collins and the butler dude from Upstairs Downstairs. I swear, if you looked up the word 'Man' in a dictionary, in 1978 there would be a picture of Martin Shaw, naked to the waist, with an RPG in one hand, a half-eaten side of beef in the other and a simpering blonde curled around his feet looking up at him adoringly.
There was nothing Shaw couldn't do, he could kick his way through doors, slide over the bonnets (hoods) of 3.0s Ford Capris, kick, punch, spit and everything else that the modern (70's) man needed to be able to do.

He was a Gerd (as in ErmaGerd!) and I may have modelled my image on him for longer than was strictly neccesary. In fact, I remember a school art project where we were asked to draw a self-portrait over the holidays, and my art teacher said 'It's very good, but I didn't ask you to draw Martin Shaw' - I was also still wearing fake leather jackets and Loon Pants / Bell Bottoms well into the 80's - Which, with hindsight, could have been one of the things that crimped my chances with more fashion concious girls, or girls in general for that matter, Although...

It wore off of course, as these things so often do... I mean it's not completely gone, I don't think you can ever truly forget the first person who you wanted to go all 'Single White Female' on. Occasionally, I catch an episode of Judge John Deed, look longingly at his full head of hair and a tear comes to my eye.

I've grown out of all that now of course, one puts away Childlike things doesn't one?

Although, thinking about it, I reckon wi' a bit o' practice, ah could get clurse t' Guy Martin's accent... Aye, grew aht me sidebons, put on t' boil'rsuit - Aye, that's reet nice, When's next bert f' th' Isle o' Mann? - Smart as Y' lake.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Pandas, the Eastern Scourge

Pandas, by which I specifically mean the Giant Panda or Ailuropoda melanoleuca for the taxonomically inclined amongst us. What are they all about?

I mean, seriously - What the flip is going on with them? - A decent sized Panda weighs about the same as a small Grizzly Bear (about 25st) they've got huge teeth and claws, big enough to tear you limb from limb in a heartbeat, Yet they seem to be the sweetest natured animals on the face of the Earth - I tried (for research purposes - Try typing Angry Panda into Google, it just feels weird) to find instances of angry pandas - And could pretty much only find evidence of one pretty grumpy one called Gu-Gu who bit three people who got into his enclosure, one of whom bit him back! - I'm guessing he was only upset because he was named after the first words the zookeeper's baby said.

There's a video on YouTube that comes up when you search, I wouldn't bother watching it, it's pretty much a Panda barking and waving his paws at a couple of other Pandas who got too close to his pile of bamboo. If that's what goes for an 'Angry Panda' nowadays, I think they need to change the title to 'Somewhat miffed Panda coughs politley and points out what is obviously his lunch'.

Then you've got the whole bamboo thing! Pandas have huge carnivore teeth, rippey, bitey, tearey teeth for eating goats and yetis and other things you'd find in the mountains... But no, they eat bamboo which has less nutrient qualities than celery and you need a completely different set of teeth to eat it successfully. They have to eat about a tenth of their bodyweight a day, in bamboo, to get anything out of it - Where's the sense in that?

Luckily they're not completely stupid they do supplement their diet in the wild with the occasional bit of carrion and.. erm... grass and bees and stuff probably, but still, they should ideally be hiding in trees, pretending to be.. erm.. [Insert name of huge black and white thing you'd expect to find in a tree and wouldn't seem strange at all] by the side of secluded trails, dropping down on unsuspecting sherpas and eating their brains with a spoon. (Oh... Zombie Panda.. File that under 'Next Flash Fiction story ideas')

You know, in captivity, they feed them cupcakes? - Not all the time I grant you, but all the same, feeding the cutest animal in the world with the cutest food item in the world - It's amazing that anyone accidentally seeing this spectacle doesn't just explode by achieving critical cuteness. You can picture the scene -

[Chinese] 'And here ladies and gentlemen, you will see Mung Mung being fed blueberry muffins by my lovely assistant Doof Lee Chung' (Noises off: series of small, wet explosions from the direction of the crowd) 'No! it's happening again! put down the cupcakes Lee Chung... Put down the Aaarggghh!' [/Chinese] Fade to black

Oh yes, another thing that I didn't know before today... They've got thumbs (kinda) and if evolution goes their way, then it won't be long, in a geological sense, before they start to use them... I don't mean hitch-hiking their way out of the bamboo line and going for a trot down Peking High Street, I mean fashioning bamboo into swords and shields and inventing coconut powered lasers and suchlike.

And Kung-Fu Panda is a very real concern, you know how they let gorillas watch TV in the zoos to keep them entertained? What if they do the same with Pandas - They maybe already do... One day, Ping Chin Min the Panda wrangler decides that it's Bloop Bloop's birthday and he could do with a bit of cheering up, sticks on Disney's finest and before you know it, you've got 350lbs of black and white fury spinning around it's enclosure flinging cupcakes at people and playing Tenacious D guitar solos! Don't laugh guys, it's stuff like this that keeps me awake at night.

It wouldn't take much for an evil genius to make an unstoppable army of Pandas would it?

I for one, welcome our monochrome overlords with open arms. Now... Where's that cupcake recipe?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hwit, Hwisdom & Cool Hwip

OK, so I've been putting off the Nickleback post - but seeing as the amount of people visiting the blog has plummeted since we had the 'Supreme Being' talk. It's obviously time that I got a bit more mainstream and started laying into the easy targets.

Nickleback are a bunch of guys from Canada who are presumably following the Canadian teenage boys dream of finding a job that doesn't involve chopping down majestic Larch & Redwood trees, not having to work as a Paul Bunyan impersonator, staying warm and not becoming an alcoholic (or is that Finland? - I always get the two confused) - Formed by the Kroeger brothers in the '90s as a covers band and going on to meteoric success, for instance becoming the second most popular foreign band in the USA (Second only to the Beatles my friends - Let's just take a moment to digest that - Second only to the Beatles!)

They've had a couple of inoffensive hits, 'How you remind me' was one of those songs that had a chorus that crowds of drunk girls sang about their boyfriends when they got together - And eveyone thought that the video to 'Rockstar' was funny and gave the people with a small amount of RAWK! knowledge a chance to go, 'That's that bloke out of Zed-Zed Top that is!' and people with more TV knowledge to say 'That's that girl's Dad out of Bones'.

But one of their songs that I do take issue with (If we discount all the album tracks that are about strippers, oral sex and getting drunk) is the one I have detailed the lyrics of below:

It's called 'If today was your last day'

My best friend gave me the best advice

He said each day's a gift and not a given right

Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind

And try to take the path less traveled by

That first step you take is the longest stride

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late

Could you say goodbye to yesterday?

Would you live each moment like your last

Leave old pictures in the past?

Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?

What if, what if, if today was your last day?

Against the grain should be a way of life

What's worth the price is always worth the fight

Every second counts 'cause there's no second try

So live like you're never living twice

Don't take the free ride in your own life

And would you call those friends you never see?

Reminisce old memories?

Would you forgive your enemies?

And would you find that one you're dreaming of?

Swear up and down to God above

That you'd finally fall in love if today was your last day?

If today was your last day

Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?

You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars

Regardless of who you are

So do whatever it takes

'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life

Let nothing stand in your way'

Cause the hands of time are never on your side

And would you call those friends you never see?

Reminisce old memories?

Would you forgive your enemies?

And would you find that one you're dreaming of

Swear up and down to God above

That you'd finally fall in love if today was your last day?


(C) and all rights reserved Nickleback & Roadrunner Records blah-blah etc. etc.

Right - So far, so Meh! - But seriously, it's as if they just took a collection of fortune cookies, smashed them open with a hockey stick and wrote down the ensuing chaos in an exercise book - I'm reliably informed, though I haven't seen it myself that the video for the song details the journey of two young scamps with a bag full of 'Stuff' (Which I'm guessing we are supposed to think is contraband of some kind - So that we can have our misconceptions well and truly challenged at the end) that turns out to be small strips of paper with lines from the songs on them which they distribute to people and change the world for the better, the lion shall lie down with the lamb, black and white will sit side-by-side on piano keyboards etc - I wonder if these pieces of paper are the actual fortune cookie favours that helped them write the song in the first place? - In effect, the song is a Chinese meal with all the good bits taken out.

The worry is that people (mainly the hard of thinking) will take these as a deep, meaningful and genuine expressions of empowerment and not lazy, derivative claptrap.

But saying all that, They've sold 50,000,000 or so more examples of their work than I have - Maybe I should see if Simon Cowell wants to buy my completely original picture of some dogs playing poker?

* Yes, I realise that picking on Nickleback is lazy and derivative... You're stuck in a web of irony, didn't you know? - We'll get back to the funny stuff tomorrow when I've shifted this cold

Monday, 3 December 2012


In the early 90's I had my heart torn out and handed to me on a plate - Luckily, I'm a big boy and I got over it fairly quickly, with the help of massive amounts of alcohol and free Compuserve CDs. Compuserve? What's Compuserve I hear you youngsters cry.

Well, remember before Hotmail? No?.. OK, do you remember AOL CDs on the front of Games magazines? Right, excellent, we finally have a frame of reference. AOL gave you an Email address and access to the Internet, before Sky & BT and everyone and his brother were including it in monthly packages - It was rubbish, and it used to frak your PC on a regular basis, but it was pretty much all there was.

Now, imagine that, but having to pay by the minute... using a dial-up connection at 56Kbps - There was also a monthly fee, but if you uninstalled the software and re-installed it from a different CD every month, you didn't have to pay (It just meant that you had a different email address every month).

Compuserve used to filter the Internet for you, not that there was a great deal of content back in the day, but it was mainly comprised of what they called 'Forums' - Which were just posh chatrooms really, divided into different subjects and interests. I say different, they were all pretty much full of teenagers (or people pretending to be teenagers) trying to get off with each other. and Usenet Newsgroups - Which were the forerunner, I guess, of places like Tumblr and Twitter.

It was through being a part of these forums that I was introduced to the mating call of the early 90's Internetter, "A/S/L?" which of course stood for Age / Sex / Location which in turn, was shorthand for Am I commiting a federal or statutory crime by talking to you about your underwear / are you the complimentary gender that I am looking for / are you local enough for us to meet up or far enough away for your parents to not be able to kill me when it all goes horribly wrong.

And while we're here, I'd just like to state on record that, despite evidence to the contrary, I never pretended to be a precocious 14 year old girl from California called Mindy to go trolling for paedophiles... *cough* not once.

If I were to use a fishing analogy, the A/S/L is the 'bite' and then you'd have to 'play' the 'fish' until 'it' was 'tired' and could be 'landed' - The most effective, and certainly most popular method of playing with your fish would be (and I kid you not) to quote popular songs of the day to your intended paramore - I didn't recognise a lot of the lines that were being used, as they were American songs that hadn't 'broken' in the UK - But towards the end of my Compuserve years, the chorus of the Savage Garden song Truly Madly Deeply became the go-to track for reeling love-sick teens in hand over fist - It went a little like:

I want to stand with you on a mountain.
I want to bathe with you in the sea.
I want to lay like this forever.
Until the sky falls down on me

Remember it now? I never saw this fail, not a single time, never used it myself of course... That would have been immoral, and not to say a little creepy, as I would have been fast approaching 30 at the time, and therefore, positively pre-historic in comparison to everyone else there.

No, I moved to the much more sanitary newsgroups. These were like a notice board where people could post images, of anything, although the subject matter did all tend to be much of a muchness (Certainly in the alt.binaries. groups) - With pictures of young, and not so young ladies, in various states of deshabille and / or contortion - that would load, onto your 640 x 480 256 colour screen, at the rate of approximately 1 line per second... Meaning that a full screen image could take up to ten minutes to load - Just enough time to make a nice cup of tea and get control of any unnatural urges that you might be having.

I think that this was a secret plan by Compuserve to try and get young boys out of their bedrooms and into the fresh air... What I think actually happened was that those young boys who were too shy to quote Savage Garden lyrics to cheerleaders halfway across the world spend all their time getting the grainy, false colo(u)red images of 'Debbie, 21, from South London' to download faster.

And thus was High-Speed Broadband created.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Catholic church does not make mistakes

OK, the title is a quote from Dogma, a great movie by Kevin Smith, it was said by the character Cardinal Glick, played by George Carlin, an even greater person who is sadly no longer with us.

If you've not seen Dogma, or heard of George Carlin, then go and do some research now - In fact, go and watch as many of Kevin Smith's films as you can - They're all great, sweary, but great. When you've gone that, Google George Carlin... I'll wait, it's worth it, believe me.

Done? Good weren't they? - You know the stocky chap in the long coat and the backwards baseball cap in the films? That was your actual Kevin Smith! - Hardly a Hitchcock style cameo - But if you're gonna make great films, then I say why not star in 'em too?

Anyway, enough frivolity, I'd like to talk to you about God (was that the sound of a hundred *back* buttons being pressed?). I don't neccessarily mean your actual Judeo-Christian, Monotheistic, Capital G type god, it could be your multi armed, blue coloured one, or your elephant headed one, or any one of a thousand different deities that people have blamed stuff on for the past few thousand years.

As the more eagle-eyed of you will have spotted, I am a regular church-goer and I believe in a supreme being, I have Faith. What I don't got is Religion.

"But if that's true, why do you go to church?" I hear the four people who are still reading this say.

There are a number of reasons really, Mrs Dandy is a confirmed Anglican Religionite, and there are some nice, friendly and most of all odd people there, but mainly it's because I enjoy running the mixing desk (this is the 21st. Century people, it's not all massive organs and people going Ah-ah-aaaahhhhh in a angelic fashion now) it makes me feel like Rick Wakeman - It also gives me the chance to poke fun at the fundamentalists...

OK - That will have made some hackles rise, so let me explain what I mean by fundamentalists - I take the word to mean, someone who believes that the Bible (or any religious text pertaining to a particular belief system) is infallible, an historic record rather than a book of moral stories and hints and tips on how to live a better life.

This becomes so all-consuming to some people that they forget all about the 'Be Excellent to each Other' stuff (See, Bill & Ted, George Carlin again - Isn't it amazing how this stuff all fits together - I don't just throw this down on the page you know?) and concentrate on the 'Thou shalt not' and 'Righteous smiting of the unbeliever' stuff. In short, they get caught up in the Dogma (Oh my Gods it's like I've got a plan for this thing, right?) - The words of the text themselves rather than the meaning.

There're also people who just go to church because they want to be seen to be important, the kind of people who like to slip into everyday conversation 'So, I said to the Vicar....' They really ruffle my cassock - These are the people for whom I really hope there is an afterlife, 'cos they got a big old shock coming to them with the whole rapid downwards motion and the fire and the pitchforks and the 'Oh no it burns - freunlaven!'

On a different note, if you'll pardon the pun, there was a song sung a couple of weeks ago called 'Our God is greater' - Inoffensive little song, quite jolly and stuff. But it got me thinking, greater than what? Is it kind of a religious football chant? Should religion be so confrontational?

So what do I actually believe? Do you really care? Do I care if you care?

I believe that the state of the world we live in is not ALL down to chance - That there's a guiding influence. I'm not a creationist, I believe in evolution, but I have no problem with the idea that the evolutionary system has been pushed in a particular direction at different points in history.

I don't believe that there's neccessarily a plan for everyone, or anyone for that matter. But I do believe that there's something greater than us that on occasion, helps out - I don't mean in the 'God bless Mummy & Daddy and please can I have a Pony' way. I mean in the 'Holy Crap my brakes aren't working, we're all gonna die!' way - Although they do say that everyone becomes a believer in situations like that.

It could all be luck, I don't profess to know - It could be Aliens, Gods, Goddesses, a giant bowl of spaghetti and meatballs reaching down with his Noodley Appendages.

But as far as I'm concerned, there's something there... After all, if there wasn't there'd be times when I was just sat in the car talking to myself - And that would mean I was mad.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Deconstruction Complete

I just love Charity Shops (Thrift Stores, for my legion of American readers) - They're a veritable Alladin's cave of dead people's stuff and broken toys. My local 'shopping centre' has about seven and every time I go out to buy the ingredients for an Ocelot Stew, or Sweet and Sour Crispy Peacock I try to pop into as many as I can. I don't neccessarily want to buy anything - It's kind of like a trip to the museum, but with added mothballs.

There is nothing you can't get (OK, there are a huge number of things that you can't get, just shuddup and go with it) and if you wait in the store long enough, you will see every single consumer item that has been sold in the past hundred years or so. I've seen everything from Hello Kitty Handbags to Victorian Violet Wands on those hallowed shelves (Before you ask, no, I didn't buy it, there was too much month left at the end of the money). We all need to support these places, they can't be allowed to die out.

Don't get me wrong, for me, it's nothing to do with the Charity, for all I care the money could go straight to Albanian gangsters who live only to wallpaper their houses with kittens' eyelids. It's the whole digging through the crap aspect of it that appeals to me, a bit like you guys must feel reading this Blog... Most of the time it's all odd shoes and canteens of cutlery with all the knives missing - But occasionally you'll find an original copy of Action Comics Number 1 - In A1 condition. OK, so someone's drawn a penis on the cover in sharpie, but still..

Anywho, I was in one a few months ago, digging through a tub of naked Action-Men (GI-Joes), odd Sticklebricks and Matchbox cars that had so few wheels between them that they'd only be completely at home in Back to the Future 2, when the very worthy lady behind the counter asked;

'Are you looking for anything in particular?'

Now, I froze, because I didn't want to say, 'No, I'm just pretending to be an archaeologist' - Which was the sad truth, so I replied with the first thing that came into my head, 'I don't suppose you have any Lego do you?'

She thought for a second, she actually did that thing where you tap your index finger on your lips and look up (which I know you're all doing now, so stop it!) then said,

'No, I don't think so, but if you give me your number, I'll give you a call if some comes in'

Ok, I mean she wasn't completely unattractive in a 'Person who works in a charity shop and probably has a part share in a rescued pony' kind of way, but I couldn't take the chance that she was hitting on me, after all, I'm a married man... So, in true tabloid style, I made my excuses and left.

A week or so later, I was walking past the same shop when I saw what I thought was a first edition StarScream in the window (It turns out it wasn't) - As I was deciding whether to in, the worthy lady's face appeared and mouthed 'OO-ee God, sumly Go!' (You're doing it again... stop it!). She beckoned me into the store like Morpheous asking Neo to show him Kung-Fu and said,

'It's just come in, you can have first look!' And then she did that excited stiff handclap thing.

It took me a good few seconds to figure out what the blinking-flip she was talking about, and I still didn't twig until she brought out a cardboard box with Lego in it.

'I'm afraid it's not all Lego, but feel free to sort out what you don't want.'

So, picture the scene, avid readers, I'm sat on the floor, in a busy-ish Charity shop, sorting out a box of mixed toys that was about 80% Lego, when she came up and said,

'Let me know when you've got that one sorted and I'll bring you the next one'

Now, I did that thing where you go all slittly-eyed and look from side to side (Again? Stop it!) and said, 'There's more?'

'Yeah, a couple of small ones'

So all in all there were three decent sized boxes of Lego and a box of assorted rubbish, which I kindly re-donated to them. Quite gingerly I asked, 'And how much would you like for all these?'

'Well, I'm sorry, but Lego's quite expensive to buy isn't it, I'm afraid I can't let it go for less than £20...'

I nearly pooped an actual kitten in my rush to get out my wallet.

'Tell, you what,' I said, 'It's all in a good cause isn't it? I'll give you £25.'

You know, I think she was genuinely touched, and I desperately tried not to blurt out 'But it's worth, like £200 Muhahahahaaha!' and twirl my moustache.

So, once I'd filled out the Gift-Aid certificate - It seemed the right thing to do. I picked up the three boxes of Lego and struggled out of the shop. Now, I didn't have the car with me because the shops are only about 10 minutes walk from my house. So I had the two open boxes balanced on top of each other in front of me, and a box, with what I thought was a fairly close-fitting lid, gripped with the spare fingers of my right hand... You can guess what happened, by my usage of 'what I thought was', right?

The lid came off the box, and spewed about a kilo of lego all over the pavement. Embarrassing enough you might think, but no, it chose to let go at a traffic island, on a three lane road, at rush hour, with halted traffic.

I don't think Bono got anywhere near that amount of applause when he anounced that he had single-handedly saved the entire African population from starvation - And to get the same amount of 'Woooo!'s I would have to have been wearing a severely short skirt and little else. My face actually felt like it was about to spontaneously combust.

Was it Karma? - Would it have happened if I'd offered what some people might say was a 'fair' price?

Yeah, it probably would... Because even though they say that Karma's a bitch, she's also got a bloody good sense of humour.