Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New balls please.

Should you ever see me in the street, (and that sort of counts on you knowing who I am I suppose) what would the first thought be?

Would it be 'I say, he's reasonably tall.' or 'What a splendid beard that man has, I shall make it my life's work to become his faithful man/woman servant.' or 'What was that awful baconny smell?'

One thing it probably wouldn't be is 'That fine figure of a man there, is a natural sportsman, I should bow down before him in supplication and offer him the unfettered use of my clothing optional hot-tub.'

And that's because I'm not.  My frame is not what you'd describe as streamlined (apart from my head that is). My musculature, such as it was, has become flaccid through lack of use, and I sometimes get a bit out of breath thinking about chips.

But believe it or not, at one time, not only was I an avid sportsman who played thrice weekly, but I was captain of not one, but two top (ish) of the league sports teams at the same time.  I can virtually smell your surprise from here.

It all began around twenty-five years ago in a bar called The Old Silk Mill (As previously mentioned HERE).

I was sat there, one Saturday lunchtime, with my then girlfriend, when the landlord wandered over to the noticeboard and pinned an A4 piece of paper to it. It was the sign-up sheet for the new pool team.  Within a week or so, many names were added to this list and we went onto some limited success.  In fairness a number of the limitations we faced involved a few of the team being under the influence of certain substances that may be frowned upon in polite society.  It was a fairly regular occurrence that we would have to take nine players to a match that required seven in case someone started rocking backwards and forwards in the corner having 'shroom flashbacks and another person found themselves unable to play because the table was covered in tiny, multi-coloured horses with tusks, wearing snowshoes.

But we had some truly great players.  Our original Captain, Billy B, was a borderline psychotic, who looked like a dark haired cross between Professor Mick Aston from Timeteam and Rasputin, who would strut around the table with both his prehensile knees and eyes pointing in many different directions at once.  he mumbled to himself all the time whilst executing some truly physics defying shots and he would often turn around and laugh uncontrolably in the face of his opponent in the style of a pirate.

His sister, Louise, also played for us. It would be difficult to find two siblings that were more different in outlook (or any other email system for that matter).  Where Billy was manic, Louise was calculating.  She would look at all the balls on the table from all angles before every shot and was the closest thing to a Cyber(wo)man that I've ever seen. Fine pool player, especially where performing 'snookers' was concerned.  In fact, she only ever lost it when she made a mistake that lost her the match - Then... Well... Have you seen Bladerunner? With Harrison Ford? You know the bit where Daryl Hannah's character Pris was 'retired'? Well, that.

Louise had a female life partner (or whatever the politically correct term is this week) called Annie who was a natural pool player and a great mate who would wander around the table, taking great shot after great shot, taking multiple swigs from her pint, and bringing the generally masculinity of her opponent into question and then mercilessly barracking him until he cried.

We also had Sam, and her boyfriend Sam (Yes, it did sometimes get confusing) who we would usually try to put on in the last match, the spot usually saved for the Captains to play each other... Although it was more of a guideline than an actual rule really.  We would wait for the last player from their team to come to the table, if he was small, and seemed to be easily intimidated, Male Sam would play, and win without speaking a single word.  If he seemed to be confident, the sort of man who would have had his own cue cut from a single piece of antique wood, salvaged from the wreck of a viking longship, Female Sam would play - Not straight away of course, she would have a bit of a stretch, declare that her blouse was a bit restrictive and then look her opponent directly in the eyes whilst she slowly undid as many buttons as she needed to to let him know that she had 'forgotten' to wear a bra that day.  Then she'd win. Thinking about it, that might have technically been cheating I suppose.

Now, I'm going to stop there, because this is in danger of just turning into a list of people that I knew at the end of the 80's.  Suffice it to say that, obviously, the blindingly famous SMick was in the team, as was my other professionally Scottish friend Jock, who is, as I've mentioned before, sadly no longer with us.  Suffice it to say that it was like an outside broadcast featuring The Addams Family every time we went to a different pub to play one of our 'Away' matches.

Over a few seasons, things changed, as they so often do. old players left and new ones joined. In fact, Billy B himself left to concentrate his chemical experimentation and because I was the only one not to say 'no' when he tried to appoint a replacement Captain, I got the job.  A couple of other major things changed too.  One was that there had, for a long time, been complaints in 'The League' about sexism and misogyny, so a separate 'Ladies' league was started (Our team was Captained by my then girlfriend) and The Silk Mill changed hands, it's new owner instantly deciding that his first order of business would be to get rid of all the dirty bikers and turn the place into one of those awful, homogeneous city centre pubs with microwaved (but still described as homecooked) food.

So we moved, to The Station Inn, mentioned in the SMick story linked above, and presented them with at first two and then three ready made teams. We stayed there for many years, in fact, if you visit there to this day, you will see many of the trophies that we won still proudly displayed.

The teams continued to change, the supremely gullible Steve, joined the team that we now had to call the 'Mixed' team because:

a) It had both male and female members
b) You weren't allowed to call it the 'Men's' team, because that would be sexist.

But all this isn't exactly getting us to where I was Captain of two sports teams is it?  The emotional rollercoaster that was my love life took an excitingly depressing downturn in 1991, where my then girlfriend, and Captain of the ladies team, found solace in the arms (amongst other things) of another, as hinted at in this post HERE - So, I did what any self respecting man would do under those circumstances:

I became the Captain of the Ladies team too.

So, Thursdays and Sundays I would go to the pub, get drunk and play pool with my friends (both male and female) and on Tuesdays I would go to the pub, get drunk and watch ten girls, between eighteen and thirty, bend over a pool table for two hours.  It took my mind right off the heartbreak situation that I'd just been through I can tell you.

And for our less gentlemanly male readers, whose minds are racing with all sorts of interesting possibilities...

Yes, two, but not at the same time.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Ghost Story

Those of you who've been with The Chimping Dandy since last year will remember that around this time, I told you a ghost story, and said that it was going to become a bit of a tradition.

Well here's this year's, unlike the last one, this is made up, a fake, completely from one's imagination.

Most of it at least.



The tea was awful, but then the tea here was always awful.  He looked down into the grey-white mug and despite the milk he'd put in, he could still see the bottom. How was it possible for something that came out of a steaming kettle to be so weak and tepid? He pushed it away, disgusted.

He was alone, apart from Ranjit, the small Indian gentleman behind the counter who was busying himself by wiping the cutlery from the tray with a tea-towel.

'I was expecting it to be busier tonight,' He looked up at the man, who smiled and stopped his polishing, 'with it being Christmas Eve.'

'Yes, there are usually more people trying to hurry home.  Maybe there is not the same pressure this year? Many people do not feel so Christmassy.' He looked out into the late afternoon darkness, 'Although the rush hour has not really started yet.'

It was true, it wasn't even four O'Clock yet, but the gathering clouds were already conspiring with the winter's lack of daylight to darken the view from the station cafeteria's long windows.  He rose from his seat and looked out onto the platform.  In one direction, he could see the empty ticket office, in the other, the platform lights reflected off the steel rails as they curved away into the distance. 'Here it comes.' He announced flatly to the air, as the first blobs of the forecasted torrential rain plastered itself against the glass.  He released a deep sigh, which fogged the window and momentarily obscured his reflection.

He drew a smiley face, grinned to himself halfheartedly, and then wiped it away just as the heavy beads of condensation started to make it look as if it were crying.

Sitting down again, he asked Ranjit for another tea.  Ranjit raised an eyebrow and pointed at the mug that was already on his table. 'Ah, yes, of course.' He lifted the tea, swallowed its milk-warm load with considered indifference and gestured with the empty mug.  He smiled and shook his head. 'My wife says that one day you will turn into a mug of tea Mr Dullahan.'

He was just about to reply when the metal framed door swung open and a woman walked in, she was in her mid-forties with a once pretty face and long blonde hair, with a confused look, she stared at the ticket in her hand.

'Are you alright?'

She looked at him with reddened eyes and noticed his freshly pressed, blue serge, railway uniform, 'I'm trying to get home., I usually drive you see.'

He reached out towards her ticket, 'May I?' He made a show of reading the destination and nodded, sagely. 'You're in luck, yours is the next train at this platform. And, we are currently serving complimentary tea and coffee, as it's Christmas.' He leaned in close and whispered, 'But if I were you, I'd stick to the coffee.'

She smiled, thanked him and took back her ticket.

The door opened for a second time just as he was raising his cup to his lips.  This time it was a young man carrying a small bunch of flowers, Dullahan looked at the label on the cellophane wrapper and, as he saw the logo of a popular chain of petrol stations, he tutted quietly to himself.  'Come in sir please, you're letting the rain in. May I see your ticket?'

He shook his head, as if waking from a daydream, peered at the door and absently let go of the handle.  It swung slowly shut, the wiry plastic brush screwed to its base making curved muddy lines on the tiled floor.

'Here,' he said, thrusting the small piece of card at the railwayman. 'Never been on a train before, going to my girlfriend's house, her parents are away for Christmas.' He gave Dullahan a theatrically knowing wink, which he returned, in kind, along with his ticket.

'Help yourself to a hot drink sir, a Christmas present from... the Management.'

'Got any lager?  Been out with the lads at lunchtime, had a proper skinful, could probably fit another one in though.' His smile slowly changed to a frown of puzzlement, 'It's funny though, I don't feel as drunk as I did a minute ago.'

'I'm sorry sir, just tea and coffee although, there might be some soup, I can ask...'

But the young man had sat down and was looking closely at his ticket, his lips slowly moving as his finger traced out the few lines of words.

'Mr Dullahan sir, it's nearly time.' Ranjit was pointing at the round white plastic clock on the wall. He checked his watch, the second hand moving in exact time with the clock.

'Ladies and gentlemen, you train will be arriving at the platform directly outside in precisely five minutes, though you should all have more than enough time to finish your drinks.  Please make sure you have all of your belongings with you.' He looked at the bunch of flowers that had fallen from the table and were now lying forgotten on the floor next to the young man who was scratching his head with his ticket. Exhaling through his nose he shook his head and went back to his own table.

There was barely two minutes to go when the door opened for the last time.  There was a bustle as a young family tried to force their way through the doorway all together.  They stood for a second, shaking the rain from their bedraggled Santa hats. 'It's blowing a gale out there!' He grinned at Dullahan and offered him the four tickets, 'Could you tell me how long we have to wait?'

He took the tickets, and without even looking at them said, 'Your train will be here any second, right outside.' Gesturing at the rain-lashed platform, he offered them the traditional free hot drink and looked down at the two children who were probably both no more than five years old. 'Would you like a glass of orange?'

The little boy looked up at him seriously as if it were the most difficult question he had ever been asked, then looked at his Mother, who shrugged, then nodded with a smile. 'Yes please, can my sister have one too?'

Dullahan gave the order to Ranjit, who poured out two small beakers of juice and handed them back with a the beginnings tear in his eye.

The boy took his and immediately started to drink it thirstily. The little girl was not so keen, she held onto her soaking wet teddy bear so hard that she started to wring the rain from it, and shifted uneasily behind her Mother.

'Are you... Are you looking forward to Christmas?' Dullahan faltered, but the little girl nodded.

'We're going to see Grandma, she's not very well.' She grabbed a handful of her Mother's skirt and covered her face.

'Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.' He looked at her Father, whose face told the story of exactly how ill her Grandmother was.' He looked in his notebook, ran his finger down a list of names and smiled weakly. 'You'll be seeing her very soon, I'm sure.'

'It was raining... There was a lorry...' Whispered the man, looking down at his children through eyes filled with such love. 'I... Tried...'

'I know you did,' Sighed Dullahan quietly, as he put a gentle hand of the man's shoulder, 'but you don't need to worry about that any more, the train's here now.'

They all looked through the window, outside was a huge steam train, it's shiny black bulk almost glowing in the rain.

'All aboard.' intoned Dullahan, and he slowly lifted his arms, palms upwards.  One by one, the six passengers faded from view until he was left alone apart from Ranjit and a scant bunch of petrol station flowers.

'Cup of tea?' Offered Ranjit.  He nodded emptily and sat down to wait for his next passengers.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

But what do all 41 mean?

OK, let's get something out of the way first...

Wakka-wakka-wakka Christmas, Wakka-wakka-wakka buy my book, Wakka-wakka-wakka perfect Christmas present, Wakka-wakka-wakka probably won't be delivered before Christmas though.

Phew, glad we don't have to do that again.

Some of you will know, if you follow The Chimping Dandy on Twitter at least, that as well as working on Volume Two of The Collected Chimping Dandy (which shall be called, The Pangolin Yodels),  I'm also trying semi-desperately to finish the first volume of the ten-book series that will eventually encompass the Edward Teach stories and all of their spin-offs.

To keep myself honest, and maybe promote some interest in the Twitterverse, Since about June, I've been tweeting a context-free line every time I manage to write more than 700 words in one day and I wondered, on the way into work this morning, if they would make sense if I bunged them together in order, so here goes:


  1. Try it metal-mouth and you’ll be sucking your next recharge from the end of my boot.
  2. absolute primogeniture
  3. Can any of you dogs tell me why we aren't all dead six times over?
  4. Kill field engaged
  5. the transgressors were summarily recycled
  6. Excellency, I am a singular entity, with five hundred and twelve extremities
  7. We heard them screaming and screaming. Then the screams got quieter, and then they were gone
  8. I would also appreciate it if the slug-throwers were warmed up, I think we might be on the verge of offending some people
  9. I’ve seen most of the Aligned Races naked at one point or another soldier, but none of them keep their faces down there.
  10. If the Cloud instructed you to wait whilst it passed you to an organic operator, then it was your time to worry.
  11. However, I would lose precisely no sleep whatsoever if you ended up floating face down in the river
  12. there were always preachers, trying to convince you that the only way to avoid eternal torment was to put a coin in the slot
  13. The taxi turned around in a large, languid circle, back towards the city, gently whistling cowboy tunes as it went
  14. and then he died, slowly and painfully, covered in sores, crying for his Mother.
  15. Oh yes, he had a bag full of credits that I used to buy drugs… The good kind.
  16. If you’d lie face down for me?
  17. She drew her finger almost all of the way out, altered the angle slightly and reinserted it,the breath caught in his throat
  18. 'Silver Nitrate,’ she remarked as she spat the taste from her mouth onto the deck, ‘You need saline and a topical painkiller'
  19. let’s put this old lady back in her bed and make a start on a slightly younger model.
  20. 'It’s replacing the…’ The construct’s diminutive sensor cluster waved slowly from side to side. ‘No, installing the…’
  21. I hope that they’re geared up for an election. Because they’re going to be needing a new Station Commander.
  22. The comestible in question was being used for a purpose for which it was not originally designed.
  23. That is hardcoded into my cortex, The Baron was most insistent that that be the case.
  24. If I were to inject a massive overload at this point, would that cause a cascade event?
  25. if you want a device that can capture the heart of a sun and use it to refrigerate your drink, I can do that
  26. Happy that he looked immaculate, he left his quarters and joined Barnes on the bridge.
  27. it rose from the surface of the water, growing steadily towards them until it was a hundred feet high
  28. With regret Excellency, we do not routinely check for things that are impossible.
  29. Now, can I just stop you there Doctor? I would like you to tell me something that I do… Not… Know.
  30. whose smile had lightened to that casual grin of a psychopath watching a bag of kittens drown.
  31. we have been able to use existing virus bomb technology to improve life rather than destroy it
  32. It seems that they enjoy the feeling of its low-frequency radiation on their… bodies.
  33. Well Buller was one of the men who procured them. He had his own ideas about quality control too.
  34. Nice to see that we’re all still alive. Oh! We seem to have lost one, will you be taking his place Ma’am?
  35. I am programmed to assume this position whenever I anticipate an extended period of local stress.
  36. The young guard turned, aimed the rocket launcher at the centre of the large metal doors, and pulled the trigger
  37. a brief tangle of mechanical legs as a number of Spiders tried, unsuccessfully, to move in two directions at once
  38. The nice lady from earlier, the one who accused you of all being murderers and rapists, is waving at you.
  39. He mimed the actions of bears dancing whilst swordfighting, but stopped when he realised that she wasn't watching.
  40. Confirmed, I will launch when the indicators are green, or when you start making sense, whichever is sooner.
  41. Look into having the construct responsible for traffic control re-purposed as a fertiliser dispersal unit will you?

Ah, it seems not, no... Bugger

Well, if they manage to pique your interest then I suppose they've done their job.  Just to let you know, I already have one advance order.  It's from a young gentleman called Archimedes, who like robots and pirates. (Well, I suppose, technically, that it's from his Dad.)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

In a week and a day?.. Nope... Nothing?

I don't know if it's just me, but does this Christmas just not feel very Christmassy to you?

Fewer people seem to be doing the whole 'Traditional English Christmas' thing - Don't get me wrong, the pikeys who live on the ring-road near me have all got their retina scorching poundshop illuminations up, especially the ones who've managed to jemmy the inspection hatch off the streetlight outside their house so that they can plug them in for free.  And there's a girl in my local Tesco that's wearing a Santa hat unironically (I think she is anyway, I'd ask her, but I really can't be bothered to explain what ironically means)...

But not a Traditional Christmas, like in the old days.

I mean, how many of you are intending to have a side of Guisers in to give you a good, hard, Mummering this year? None of you? Really?  What are Old Father Christmas, Slasher and Beelzebub going to do if they're not dancing through your housing estate espousing morality tales and killing mechanical worms with big sticks?

This country's going to the dogs, Ah tells thee...

What about Frumenty? You've made a big bowl of Frumenty for Christmas Eve surely? - Did you know that You don't have to eat your Frumenty plain anymore? you can add some really great stuff to it to give it a bit of 'pep' - Nuts and honey for instance, even currants or big chunks of porpoise (for Frumenty, and other religious purposes, they're considered fish, so you can eat them on a Friday, if Christmas day is on a Saturday - Don't all thank me at once.)

Have you bought new decorations to 'jazz up' the graves of your ancestors?  Really getting into the Christmas spirit (graves? spirit? geddit?) Share the season of goodwill with your dearly departed by spending an hour or so tinseling up their headstone or planting a yew or oak tree on their gravesite so that it'll both provide you with a place to hang your festive apples (which have now evolved in baubles of course), and drink of their decomposing remains... It's what the Cir-hercle of Life is all about.  You could even do a bit of topiary and fashion the tree into a likeness of the person that it's vampirically feeding off - Although that might be a bit ghoulish, even for me.

You've ordered your goose though right? No, not Turkey, nor Turduken because they are from the Western Colonies, and therefore cannot be traditional by definition, because we only stole the land from its indigenous peoples in the early 17th Century... And in my book, anything that's been happening in a foreign country for less than 500 years can't be called a tradition in England, sorry.  Come back in fifty years, and I'll have a rethink... Possibly.

Although, you could eat Humble Pie too if you've forgotten the Goose,  I know my Yuletide's not complete without a deer's brains, heart, kidney and lungs in a savoury piecrust, swimming in ale gravy and savoured with gusto (which is a bit like piccalilli I think, but I'm not completely sure)

You have made sure that all of the presents that you've bought for your family will fit comfortably in one of their own knee-socks?  Presents under the Christmas Tree (and for that matter, Christmas trees themselves) have only been around for a couple of hundred years - they were introduced by Zee Chermans, who, on a slightly more serious note, bombed our chippy and are therefore to be reviled, although not as much as the French, obviously.

There's a bit of irony there too if you think about it... If you have bought a new XBox One for your child and it fits easily into their stocking... They should probably be out in the fresh air getting more exercise - Get them a hockey stick instead, they're perfectly designed to fit in stockings. and a slew of satsumas, and an exercise DVD.


But how will the Dandies be celebrating?

Well, the children will rise at approximately 3:00 am and cook a Full English Breakfast for their parents.  As well as the traditional breakfast fare, there will be hand-cooked minced pies, with real meat, in oblong cases (because the Baby Iesu didn't sleep in no round crib).  We will rise at 8:00 am and complain that the breakfast has gone cold, this will set the mood for the whole day.

Then we all retire to our separate rooms and delve through our stockings (there is a ten minute pause for the disappointed crying to die down) and my Father, The Grand-Dandy will arrive to preside over the Christmas Luncheon.  He will say that it is very nice, but there is too much of it, and it is different from the lunch he had on Christmas Day 1942, which will both confuse and depress him.

Children will play with their handmade wooden toys, whilst looking longingly at the tablet, mobile phone and games console adverts on the 14" black and white television that we normally hire for the occasion.

Once the Grand-Dandy has fallen asleep we will go to the top floor of Dandy Towers with our flatbows and try to get an arrow between the front spokes of any child riding their new bicycles up and down the road to show off, thus teaching them a valuable life-lesson.  There will be a prize for the highest score, providing that there are any minced pies left that is.

A two hour silence will be observed whilst I repair, alone, to the Library to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special, naked, on my 100" HD ceiling mounted, flatscreen.

The day will end with a rousing rendition of our favourite macaronic carols and the children will fight, hand to hand, for the honour of being soundly flogged before bedtime.

Ah tradition, the lifeblood of our fair country... Without it, we are nothing.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Well, technically it's a crime.

I've been a bit lax with the old Blogeroonie recently haven't I?  This is this week's first post and it's Thursday.

I blame celebrity Blogger Bennett McVeigh, The lovechild of the guy who played guitar for Fleetwood Mac that wasn't Peter Green, and Shirley Bassey, the Welsh brother of the decidedly American Oklahoma bomber and wearer of some spectacular hats.  He has been taking up my time by exercising his writing muscle and making me cry into my weak lemon drink... Thus making it weaker, and less lemony...

So, it's now it's pretty much just drink...

And there's the writing of the next book, about robots and pirates and airships, that's been taking up a lot of time too...  Got less than three weeks to get that written, so I'm going to make today's Blog a short one...

It starts in the past, as most of my memories do, and it involves Christmas, and motorcycles and alcohol.


Derby (UK), as some of you might know, was one of the hubs of the Industrial Revolution.  We had silk mills and mass produced pottery and kids dying left, right and centre of black lung.  But mostly, we had trains and train infrastructure.

There was a branch line of the Great Northern Railway in the west of the City that you can still explore, there are ghost lines and disused warehouses with rotten floors that will quite happily drop you thirty feet to the dark, rat infested cellars below...  Great place, spent a lot of time there in the mid nineties.  In fact, there're a few pictures of the place in question HERE by a chap that explored it long after these events took place.  Although, in fairness it looked exactly the same, even the toilet (The fouth picture down) was just a disused urinal, and you did your best not to miss the hole that led to... Well, into the bowels of the Earth.  Which was difficult because you had to keep your eyes closed to stop your retinas exploding from the smell.

It had everything you could ever wish for in a subterranean space, rivers of raw human waste, rats, suspiciously rusty looking water dripping from the brickwork and tree-roots coming through the ceiling.  As an extra bonus, there was no real ventilation, and as a lot of business that used 'The Arches' were connected to the motor trade, the Carbon Monoxide levels were often pretty high, as were most of the people who worked there a lot of the time.

A guy I knew, I wouldn't call him a mate really, I can't even remember his name... Might have been Trev or Terry or something like that though now I come to mention it, owned a bike breakers in one of the aforesaid arches.  He was, in the best tradition of such people, a bit 'Woooo' and a bit 'Weyyyy'

Characterised by the time that he offered me a fixer-upper 1943 Harley Davidson WL45 motorcycle for a set number of 'Goes' on my then girlfriend (To my eternal shame I did actually think about it, but she informed me that the correct answer was, in fact, 'no')

Anywho, Trev, Terry, T-Dog whatever his name was, suggested that 'The Lads' go for a Christmas Eve wander around town, starting when the pubs opened and finishing... Well, no fixed finishing time was set, as such.  We were going to start at his 'Arch' at about 10ish, have a few cans and then sally forth.  Which is what we did, except that between the 'few cans' and getting to the pub, there was a brief alcoholic interlude.

A bottle appeared, with no label on it, its contents were clear, but luminous yellowy-green... Much, I expect, like a urine sample from Dr Bruce Banner.

This wasn't it exactly... But it should have been

'I made it myself...' Said the T-Meister, which bearing in mind the analogy above, was very probably true.

I sniffed it, it was definitely vodka, but with delicate notes of halibut and primroses.  I wiped the brim on my sleeve and took a deep swig, swallowing quickly, reasoning that the less time it spent in my mouth, the better.  And it didn't taste that bad, it had the smoky aftertaste that one normally associates with french-kissing a rhinocerous, but other than that, perfectly passable.

We emptied the bottle between us and went to the pub.

It only took an hour or so for the first one of us to go blind...

My legs wandered off for a little unattended walk of their own, leaving me balanced precariously on a bench, in a beer-garden, in the snow.  Terence sat down next to me, giggling to himself, plucking imaginary butterflies from his beard.

'Dude, what was in that vodka?'

'Hmmmm? Vodka?  Skunk mate..?'

'Skunks?' I giggled to myself, wondering why it didn't have black and white stripes in that case.

'Nah-nah-nah.. Not skunks... skunk... Marry-Jew-Wana.'

I laughed uncontrollably for a while, looked at the pretty patterns in my bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, then I made my way back home, dragging myself with the only muscles that I still had control over...

My lips.

Drugs are bad kids, especially if you ingest them completely by accident.

Just say No! (No really, do, they're tremendously bad for you.)

Friday, 6 December 2013

Well, I suppose you could call it blasphemy

So, chaps and chapesses, it's the time of the month where I go all sexist and parochial.

It's the first Saturday of the month tomorrow, and regular readers will know what that means...

Tomorrow, from 10:00am till 12:00, there will be our monthly 'Dads and Kids' Totally Religion Free Super Adventure Style Saturday... (That's overselling it totally, but, you know me, I sometimes get a a bit over excited)

If you are of the male persuasion, and have a child (legally I mean, I don't suggest you pick one off the street, people aren't so forgiving of that sort of thing nowadays) or two and are within travelling distance of Derby (UK) then you should definitely come and help me eat like, a couple of pigloads of bacon.

There's loads of nice, quiet activities for the kids, Jenga, Extreme table tennis, Might be a Wii, will more than likely be a generic car racing game similar to, but not exactly the same as Scalextric, books, soft-play stuff for kids that still put random stuff in their mouths and giggle when a dog licks their faces, and all sorts of other things if we manage to dig them out.

Refreshment-wise there's toast and jam and Nutella and bacon and chilli sauce, limitless coffee, probably tea too, I'm not really sure, but it's all FREE!


And how many things can you say that about nowadays?

So, if you have nothing better to do, drop in and help us celebrate.... Actually, we don't really celebrate stuff... We mostly just try to grab all the bacon before the kids get hold of it, which is a game in itself.  You could celebrate something if you want, we won't judge.

And you can also come if you're of the female persuasion, but you will have to wear a fake beard... No, Dudettes, seriously, no whiskers, no entry.  (This does not apply to the Dudes, I understand Bros, not all of you can grow facial hair as awesome as mine... For mine is the beard, the power and the glory... For ever and ever... Amen!  You should still totally come though, it's bitchin'.)

So, at 10:00am on Saturday, 7th December 2013, you should be opening the side door (They won't let us use the main door any more after that incident with the Llama and the eggwhisk... Totally the owner's fault man, I mean who brings a cuckoo clock to an eggwhisk fight?)

Side Door (You'll have to open it yourself, mind my antique studs, they're totally pointy)
St Mary's Church
Boulton Lane,
DE24 0GE

You can't miss it, it looks like a big Church.

This month, we are introducing a new game, called:

See how many times you can get tutted at... 

You see, our Dad's 'n' Kids day this month coincides with the day where the Church traditionally gets decorated ready for Christmas, so there will be people wandering around the place putting up tinsel and decorations and trees and suchlike...  I've a feeling that they're going to want to listen to festive Christmas tunes whilst they're doing it, and they're not going to enjoy constantly stepping over car-racing tracks or being hit in the ear by an Table Tennis ball (I got clipped on the back of the head last month and almost got knocked into the font - We don't call it extreme for nothing)  And that's going to be a pity, because our musical stylings are a little more 'RAWK!' and our Table Tennis is EXTREME!

So, keep score of how many times you get tutted at, bring it to me towards the end, and if you've got the highest score, you get a free cup of coffee, or some bacon if we have any left.

We literally have everything... Except a rug, which is a pity, because it would really tie the room together.


On a different note, I notice that there's an awful lot of things being said about Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on T'Internet at the moment - Both good and bad, which you'd kind of expect I guess.  But you know, for every one of him, there are a thousand other people who deserve your praise and thanks.  People who've actually done things that have touched you personally without you ever knowing them.

This is one of those people.

Henrietta Lacks 1920-1951

The chances are that you've probably never heard of Henrietta, She was a tobacco farmer in Virginia who developed cancer of the cervix and died shortly afterwards of kidney failure.  Nothing special really, didn't write any sonnets, didn't blow up any electricity pylons, didn't perform any milestone achievement in Human Rights or anything.

However, during her autopsy, some of her cancer cells were sent away and used for research, they were found to have an incredible ability.  They were immortal, and they could be easily grown.

What this meant was they could be used for the development and testing of vaccines and treatments for some of the most aggressive diseases that have ever effected mankind.  If you've been immunised against Polio, that vaccine was tested on her cells, if you know anyone who had been treated chemically for Cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinsons, Allergic Sensitivity, Leukemia, Hemophilia, Radiation or Toxic Poisoning, a female that's ever had a PAP test, or had a dog that's been vaccinated against distemper, then none of those treatments could have been developed without the specific qualities of her cells.

Her cells were the first to be cloned, opening up an entirely new field of scientific investigation, which has changed the way we currently think about 'life'  There are over 60,000 scientific papers published about the uses of her cells with around 11,000 patents filed for processes that were tested using them.

In the past sixty years, over twenty tons of her immortal cells have been produced.

The number of people that she's personally helped is literally uncountable... And we've never heard of her.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

No, it's... Oh forget it!

I had a day off yesterday, trying to use up my outstanding leave before the end of the year and all that.  Being the kind and altruistic person that I am, I offered to take my dear old Father into town so that he could start 'sorting out his affairs'

The particular affair in question yesterday was a bank account, in his name, that was money that he's been putting aside for the Mini-Dandy.  He wanted it transferred into myself and Mrs. Dandy's names, so that we could administer it when he was no longer around.  So we had to go to the bank with him and sign some forms.

Upon entering the bank, he spied the (not particularly lengthy) queue and obviously thought 'Bugger that for a lark, that woman over there at that desk, surrounded by stacks of paperwork doesn't look like she's doing anything.  I'll bet she can help.'  So he wandered over and asked the poor lady whether she was free?  She looked at him, the piles of paperwork and sighed, 'Yeah, sure, why not...' And indicated that he should take a seat.

He explained the situation to her and then looked at her expectantly.

Bank Lady: 'Erm, no,  I'm afraid we can't do that.  you'd have to close the account and re-open it in joint names.'
My Dad: 'But I was told that I could just fill in some forms and...'
BL: 'Yes, it will just mean filling in...'
MD: 'But you said I had to close the account.'
BL: 'Technically, you would, but we wouldn't actually give you the money and then you'd have to give it back to us, it'd all happen in here.' She tapped the monitor.
MD: 'I don't want to close my account, why do I need to close the account?'
BL: 'You're only allowed two names on each account sir.'
MD: 'Well, that doesn't seem right...' It was at this point that he reached across the desk, grabbed the monitor, turned it towards himself and started to say thinks like, 'I'm sure it should be in one of these menus somewhere.'

Now, I'm not sure about your local branch, but it seems that this one doesn't take kindly to their customers trying to access their banking systems, so the atmosphere went decidedly frosty from then on.

BL: 'If you would like us just to put an additional name on the account, we could do that without closing it, if that would be easier.'
MD: 'Would it be?'
BL: 'Would it be what?'
MD: 'Easier?'
BL: 'Well it's just a case of filling in this form.'
MD: 'But you said closing the account and re-opening it was just filling in a form, so I fail to see how this is easier exactly?'

A vein in the side of her head started to twitch, so I stepped in and said, 'Why not just add Mrs Dandy to the account, that'll make things easier won't it? Also, try to keep your fingers away from the nice lady's computer, I don't want to spend the rest of the week in a jail cell.'

He looked at me, then looked at the nice bank lady, resplendent in the early stages of a nervous breakdown and asked 'Can we do that? It would make things a lot easier I think.'

If you've never seen anyone trying to take their own life with a stapler, drop me a line, I'll send you the video.

We decided after that, that we should probably get some food.  Now, like food-courts all over the world, there were many different kinds of food on display.  Although i tend to go for either the curry or the chinese food.  I asked my dear, dear Father what he wanted, he had a look around the different vendors and replied, 'I don't know, what have they got?'
Me: 'There's Subway, fish and chips, pasta, baked potato, KFC, Greek, Burger King, curry, chinese food or a noodle bar.'
MD: 'What's a noodle bar?'
Me: 'It's a bar... where they sell noodles...'
MD: 'So, foreign muck then?'
Me: 'I suppose so, yes.'

I should probably explain, despite my Father flying all over the world with the RAF, he still maintains that there are only two types of food:  Things that he eats every day, and foreign muck, if you were to draw a Venn Diagram of his dietary habits, it would be two circles, about a foot apart.

MD: 'So, what are you having?'
Me: 'I'm having the Chicken Saag.' And I pointed towards the curry stall
MD: 'Is that stuff spicy?'
Me: 'Are you asking me if the curry spicy?'
MD: 'Yes, is the curry spicy?'
Me: 'Yes, traditionally, curry is spicy... You wouldn't like it.'
MD: 'Do they do anything that's not spicy?'
Me: 'Not really, no... They do rice I suppose, that's not hugely spicy.'
MD: 'No, I'll just go and get myself a burger.'

So, I got curry with the wife (and her Mother, who paid, so it was, like, all gravy and shizzle.) and then went and sat down.  My Father was there, eating fish and chips.

Me: 'I thought you wanted a burger.'
MD: 'I felt like a quarter-pounder with cheese and bacon.'
Me: 'And?'
MD: 'It's a Burger King.'

I thought, for like, a microsecond about doing the whole Vincent Vega 'Royale with cheese' shtick, but I decided against it.

Me: 'Oh, right... They just call them Bacon Double Cheeseburgers there I think.'

He looked dejectedly at his fish and chips.

MD: 'Really? Oh...'
Me: 'Still, that fish looks nice!'
MD: 'It's OK.'

We sat and ate our meals in silence for a while, then he piped up again and pointed at my curry.

MD: 'So, that's spicy then?'
Me: 'My curry? Yeah, fairly spicy.'
MD: 'Why is it green?'
Me: 'It's a Chicken Saag, Saag is the name for a curry made with leaves... This is spinach.'

He made that 'Rather you than me' eyebrow raising thing and drank his coffee, then lifted up the box that his fish and chips came in.

MD: You can take this for your dog, I'm full.'
Me: 'OK, thanks.' - I had no intention af carrying fish scraps around for the rest of the day.
MD: 'You get a side-salad with your curry then?' and pointed at a small polystyrene tray of wilted lettuce.
Me: 'I guess, can't say that I've ever eaten it though.'
MD: 'It'd make a good sandwich.'
Me: 'What?'
MD: 'The salad, it'd make a good sandwich, with some ham or something.'
Me: 'Did you want my salad to take home?'
MD: 'Well, a sandwich is another meal, and you got the salad for free. You don't want to waste it.'  He turned to Mrs Dandy. 'Do you have anything I could put it in to take home?'
My Wife: 'Erm, no, not really.'
MD: 'Oh... Such a waste.' And he actually tutted.

So, a morning's shopping was completely re-arranged in its bags, a small paper bag was found and the side-salad was dumped reverentially into it.

We finished the food and I went to clear the table.  When I picked up the box of fish leftovers, it seemed very heavy - I opened it up and found that it was full of chips, and there was a single bite out of the fish.

Yeah... Leaving a tray of wilted lettuce is a real waste Dad... There are starving kids in Biafra dude!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Your starter for ten...

I watched the end of University Challenge last night (Stop laughing at the back, I sometimes answer as many as half a dozen questions... Sometimes - And I say 'Oh, of course it was,' many times, after the question has been answered) and whilst I was not exactly 'upset' about forgetting it was on, I certainly wished that I'd Sky+'d it because it would have provided a pretty endless stream of material for the Blog.

For those of you of a foreign disposition, University Challenge is a quiz program that pits two teams of  four university students against each other in an action-packed trial by combat / Fight to the death.  Bizarrely, one team sits directly over the other, (Sort of Hollywood Squares style for our American readers) and this leads to a plethora of bodily fluid related shenanigans. Where the 'top' team tries to put off the 'bottom' team by trying to convince them that it's raining.

As you can see in the still from the final episode of the original 1987 series, the northern universities (In this case Scumbag College, from the University of Sunderland) were often given the top row to handicap their southern opponents and obvious intellectual masters, (In this case, Footlights College, from Cambridge University) a nod to political correctness, empowerment and the provision of effective affordable education for all.  You'll notice however that there are no racial minorities represented, as this was the BBC and racial minorities were only allowed in comedy programming at the time.

Anywho, back to the episode in question. if I remember correctly, last night's show was between two Cambridge Colleges, I forget which ones, and it really doesn't matter if I'm being honest.  But there was this one chap, sat in the top-left hand corner, all alone and unloved, like the last brace of over-hung partridge in a recently repossessed butcher's shop during the Easter Holidays.  He had everything going for him that a modern male university student could wish for.  His head was, as Mike Myers once opined, 'Like an orange on a toothpick', his ears could, completely unaided, pick up Danish pornography from a badly positioned satellite floating over the opposite hemisphere of the planet and you could tell that, every time the announcer said his name, expecting him to answer a question, he copiously soiled himself.  He was that over-educated that when he purposely mis-pronounced things with such faltering confidence, It made me question whether I had been saying these things wrong for all these years.

And I remember thinking, 'That boy has never, and probably will never see, never mind put his over-sucked thumb on, a real, live naked member of his chosen distaff sex... Not without a truly staggering sum of money changing hands first at least.

So I got to thinking, because I'm notorious for thinking about things that other people, quite rightly, choose not to. 'I wonder what he does to release his tension? How does he let loose his undergraduate tadpoles? What possible thing could he think about whilst polishing his barking trombone?'

Obviously, as one does, my mind turned to paraphilia. which, as you probably know, is the word for getting aroused by things that are... How should I put it?... atypical, unusual, and downright odd - (But who am I to judge, right? To this day I'm not allowed to buy toilet brushes without being accompanied by a responsible adult) It seems that this is such a common condition, that there are different names for the different ways that these people like to get their freak on, as Missy Elliot might say.  They include, but are not limited to:

Agalmatophilia - Having an attraction to things like statues and shop mannequins, sufferers of this tend to steer clear of sculpture gardens during busy periods and cannot walk past John Lewis' at Christmas without their eyes rolling back into their heads.

Autagonistophilia - To derive carnal pleasure by appearing on stage or camera, often called 'Chronic Ant & Dec Syndrome'

Autoandrophilia - A heterosexual person of the female gender enjoying her special alone time by imagining that she is male.  So presumably claiming that the referee is blind, urinating all over the toilet floor, breaking wind from both ends simultaneously and giving herself a round of applause after the event is successfully concluded.

Autogynephilia - The polar opposite of the above, which often consists of a lorry driver called Brian from Wigan, holding a delicate glass of Chardonnay in one hand, desperately trying not to spill it on the new carpet whilst he reads the good bits of a Jilly Cooper novel and has a good, hard, think about some firemen.  Then cutting it depressingly short when he realises that he has to pick the kids up from school in ten minutes.

Autoplushophilia - Imagining ones-self as an animal, or a plush, or stuffed toy.  It seems that we finally know what the Fox says... In this case, 'Yes... Yes... Oh God... Yes... Oh, I'm so sorry, that's never happened before.'

Frotteurism - To rub yourself against a stranger... So, pretty much every tube journey I have ever taken, ever. And the reason I am on first name terms with a number of members of the British Transport Police.

Macrophilia - Having thoughts about inappropriate relationships with Giants.  Which is the main cause of men in gaberdine overcoats getting thrown out of the Fairy Tales section of bookshops, it renders any imprint of the famous British Folktale 'Jack and the Beanstalk' virtually unreadable, especially if it's printed on those thick cardboard pages... Very absorbent, thick cardboard pages are you know.

Mechanophilia - Now this is the one that tends to make its way into the gutter press with some regularity.  Popularised by a Roger Taylor track on the 1975 Queen album 'A Night at the Opera.' It's about people who are in physical love with their cars.  Well, honestly, who can blame them, a warm, welcoming exhaust pipe and all that - Who amongst us can say that they've never been tempted by that? Not at all helped by the 2003 Renault Megan advert.

Oculolinctus - Pleasuring yourself whilst thinking about, or actually, licking someone's eyeballs... And that's quite enough about that thank you very much.

Toxophilia - Arousal from, or during, the act of archery.  Well, presumably it gives you something to lean your arrows against, should you be of the male gender.

And finally (Yes, I know it's strictly out of alphabetical order, but I wanted to finish on this one, so ner!)

Pogonophilia - The completely reasonable sexual attraction towards men with beards Every woman has this, some of them just don't know it yet...

Stay classy my Chimping Dandyites,  remember, if you are touched by any of the issues raised in this Blog, please feel free to contact me at the normal address, especially if you have photographic or video evidence

(Unless it's about Oculolinctus... Then, Just... No...)

Thursday, 28 November 2013

'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the law.

I'm feeling good this morning, despite getting up before 06:00 and driving through freezing fog to work with one working headlight,  despite still having to get at least another five chapters of the new (serious) book finished in thirty-three days so that it can go to the publisher by the deadline (That's about 738 words per day fact-fans.)

Why am I so happy?  I'll show you:

What that says (although it's a bit tiddly in fairness, but if I made it any bigger it wouldn't fit, as the actress said to the bishop) is that in the last week, nine people have taken the plunge and bought real, paperback editions of the book.  Two from America, Five from the UK and two from Europe (Other) which means that currently, Mumblings of an Irate Pangolin is the 120,198th most popular book on Amazon - Now you may think that's not very impressive, but when you realise that there are about 11,000,000 real, hold it in your hands and whack a fly with it, books available on Amazon (or so I've been informed by my, admittedly slapdash and lackluster, investigation) - I'm in the top 1% of currently popular authors, along with the likes of J.K. Rowling, E.L. James and that bloke what wrote that book about that thing that everybody really liked.  So, it seems that at least nine people are going to have a wonderful Christmas.

Now, the more eagle-eyed of you will be saying 'Ah Dandy, but you said on Twitter yesterday that you'd bought a copy yourself, so that only makes it eight devilishly wonderful people who've bought a copy!' And you'd be completely right but for two, very important reasons:

  1. I bought it as a present, so it still counts.
  2. It's my Blog, I can say whatever I want and you have to believe me, especially the bits about halibut.

Along with the eighty-six forward thinking early adopters who have so far downloaded the Kindle version, that makes a grand-total of NINETY-FIVE people who are sharing the good word.

Not bad for saying that it's only been out for six weeks, and I am a complete nobody as far as the publishing world is concerned.

What does this all mean?  Well, the first thing that it means is that at least ninety-five people really shouldn't have access to the Internet, because they make bad literature choices.

But more than that, it means that if you put your mind to it, you can do pretty much anything.  Two years ago, there wasn't a person in the world who had heard of the Chimping Dandy, now I am the first hit when you Google something random like, oh, I don't know 'Loren Eiseley's time travelling Exxon Valdez potatoes' and that makes me more proud of myself than it has any right to.

For the year or so before starting the Blog, I'd thought to myself  'People say that I write funny stuff, and draw pretty pictures.' (actually they don't, no-one's ever looked at my pictures and said that they're pretty, They've said things like "I like that", "I'm not sure what that is, but it's good" and "No, seriously Dude, take that sh*t away from me, it's freaking me out") - But it wasn't until someone asked if they could buy something that I'd done, well, in fact four somethings, all at the same time, that I came over all 'Banksy' (Now, read that again carefully to make sure you read the words 'over' and 'all' in the right order) and I started calling myself an illustrator - I still don't like using the word artist, because that's reserved for people significantly more talented than me - Which led to me getting commissioned to do a book cover for an anthology of short stories.  Which you can, and should, buy from Amazon right now - It's like 77p on Kindle and frankly it's brilliant.

What I'm trying to say is you should just 'go for it' - If you want to do something and it doesn't hurt anyone historically important, then do it.  Want to play the guitar? Learn to play the guitar.  Want to look like Gary Oldman? Save up for the plastic surgery.  Want to teach a new facial expression to Kristen Stewart? Ah... Well... there are some things that mortal man should never attempt... Think of something else.

Ooh-Ooh... Still on the 'If you're good at something, you should just do it.' thing, I think I've found someone who might be designing the cover of the next book.  They're called Drawings By Hersanmine They're local (to me at least) and I think their stuff is great, very fresh and stylish, just like all of us here.  You should definitely get them to draw your house or your pets or your vehicles (And then you can let me know how much it cost, because I haven't plucked up the courage to ask them yet)  So, yeah, look them up, engage their services and so-forth before they realise how good they are and put up their prices.

P.S. I'm thinking 'The Pangolin Yodels' for the title of the next volume... What do you think?


As it's the end of November (And I'm off tomorrow, so you're gonna get nada from me until next week unless I get really drunk.)

Time for 'The State of the Dandy Nation'

Things that people have found the Blog by Googling this month include:

Dit Dit Gaii translation - (It means 'White Mountain' in Navajo BTW)
Martin Shaw naked - (And who can blame them?)
Alien Lederhosen - (My personal favourite)
cardamon club deerby - (Spelling searcher's own)
Disconnected Goatee - (Which, if it isn't an Indie band, certainly should be)
Jeremy Clarkson book signing - (Nope, no idea)
the Jetsons watch on ebay - (Again, not a clue... I am completely clueless)

Along with the various combinations of 'The', Chimping' and 'Dandy' of course.

We've had a lot of hits from Russia and Poland this month, and more than a smattering from France, China and the Ukraine, along with the standard number from the US, UK, Germany and Cyprus. And we're running at about 25,600 page views.


Now it's time for the latest Top Ten Posts.

10: It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen - The story of my childhood torture at the hands of my Supervillain, hollow volcano dwelling, Brother.

9: Thermodynamics, it's the Law! - Slipping down another place it's one of my personal favourites about the time my Father 'sowed the seeds of madness' in a young secretary.

8. If you don't like, what you're seeing, get the funk out - This is a fairly recent tale, with pictures, about a visit to a local Custom Motorcycle show.

7. Priorities - The first of the two serious posts in the Top Ten, the story of how I dealt with my Father announcing that he has terminal Cancer.

6. You get me closer to God - A new entry this one, straight in at number 6 pretty much. About a visit to Church, that turned into a Mighty Boosh sketch.

5. You like it when I do what? - Now I don't get this, at all.  This post is just last month's 'top ten' post with a bit of a pre-amble about the book.  I mean, I don't want to sound judgemental, but you guys are weird.

4. Pogonophilia is for everyone, even the young - The first of the 400 view plus Megaposts this month is this widely read (By some quite famous people, I'll have you know) description of men with beards.  As a man, with a beard, I wholeheartedly endorse this message.

3. Learn to govern yourself, be gentle and patient - A melange of subjects in this post.  Steampunk band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, rotting dead bodies, mausoleums and the London Necropolis Railway.  Oh, and Radio 4.

2. Sabian, the Token Yank - A truly sad, but strangely beautiful post, even if I say so myself.  It's the story of a old friend of mine, who was suddenly taken ill, and tragically died a few days later.

1. No, it is not a slow news day - And here's September's Top Ten posts... Two of the top ten posts that I've ever shared are nothing more than posts detailing what the top ten posts have been in previous months... I will write a film-script and call it Top-ten-erception.

Right guys, talk to you on Monday, Peace!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

You leave me bent and broken by the roadside

As I've probably mentioned before, I drive to work.  I don't mean that I open the car door, sit down, start the engine and get to work before the heater's had time to get hot... I work in Coventry, but live in Derby.  So every day it's a 100 mile round trip, up to a couple of hours each way.  So I need a car.  I mean, I could walk, I've extolled the virtues of walking before, but I wouldn't want to do it all the time.

Keeping that in mind, imagine the sinking feeling that your friendly neighbourhood Pangolin wrangler gets when he notices a new noise coming from the Dandymobile.  Especially when that noise is that of a Briggs & Stratton powered rotary lawnmower.

'Aha!' I remember thinking, 'it seems that there is some kind of mechanical failure in the Flux Capacitor.' For I am a whiz with the old infernal combustion engine, and can identify the cause of many major failures using only my sense of smell and a bucket of goat entrails. After nursing the stricken vehicle to work and back (and noticing that the rate of petrol consumption had increased alarmingly).  I took a look under the bonnet and caressed my full and manly beard, for I have seen this done by professional engine gazers just before they have that Eureka moment.

I waited long enough for my supper to have gone cold, but nothing sprang to mind, so I returned to the warmth of my drawing room for a chocolate coated cigar and a glass of hand-squeezed weasel sherry, momentarily beaten.

I traveled to and from work for the rest of the week in a comedic 'poppety-bangity yes of course I can mow your lawn sir,' fashion until I could get to my local car spares emporium at the weekend (during the week I leave home before they are open, and get home after the inconsiderate buggers have closed you see) and requested of them a new set of sparking plugs, an air filter and some high-tension leads - Which as you know are my electrical nemesis.  The stout yeoman in the brown storekeeper's coat behind the counter asked me for my registration so that he could supply the correct parts, then tapped away at his keyboard and announced that I could have the plugs and filter now, but he'd have to order the leads and they would not be delivered until the Monday.  I sighed in resignation, took the parts I could and went home to fit them.

Problemo numero uno: The spark plugs for this particular car are the same as those used in matchbox cars, and as such require a special (for special, please substitute the words 'comically bloody tiny') spanner for their replacement, which of course I did not own.

So off we went, 'poppety-bangity-'poppety-bangity-'poppety-bangity down the road to my local purveyor of ironmongery.  Who did not carry the item.  I went to a professional seller of automotive toolery, who was out of stock, and I briefly considered going to Halfords, but I had run out of surplus internal organs to sell to raise the required money.  Eventually I remembered that there was a tool shop physically next door to where I had bought the parts... who, bless their little Chrome-Molybdenium hearts, had exactly the tool I needed, for the princely sum of £2.70.  I declared my undying love for the lady behind the counter, drove home and proceeded to change the spark plugs.

Now, luckily for me, I live less than two miles from the car-spares shop and there is pretty much one, long, straight road between them and the bijou mock-medieval mansion that is Dandy Towers... Bonus! I hear you cry.  However, there is a large, 135 year old, railway bridge on that road that is currently undergoing replacement - This is what it looks like:

Meaning that every time I need to buy a tool, or some parts, I need to go at least a mile out of my way, right past a police station driving a car that sounds like Satan's handblender and loses power going up even the mildest of inclines.

So, plugs replaced, there was no appreciable difference, but I had noticed that one was a different colour to the rest.  Three were a lovely, health brown colour and one was black and sooty and not quite right.

'Aha!' I thought again, 'that's the bugger right there.' Looking at the HT lead, I noticed a small crack. 'Hahaha! I have found the problem - I am a mechanical genius!' I declared to the Gods... (and to the bemused unwashed urchin who happened to be wandering past at the time - I shooed him away with an accurately thrown screwdriver) and made myself a celebratory mug of strong tea, as I believe is popular with the lower classes... Well, I say 'made myself', I actually requested the item from the Mehmsahib, I am still confused by the inner workings of the cookhouse, even after the extended time I campaigned in the Sudan and Rhodesia.

On the Tuesday evening, the car made another interesting noise on the way home.  I was just leaving the A50 dual carriageway when there was something of a 'clatter' I looked in the rear-view mirror, but could see nothing.  The clattering continued and I noticed bright flashes of light pluming from my rear end, much like the below picture.

As you can probably gather, my exhaust had become disconnected by all the chugging from the misfiring engine.  I secured the errant tubing with a selection of cable ties and booked it in to have it fixed.  I had the next day off work, whilst the garage fitted a new exhaust and then drove the car (still poppety-bangitying) all the way around the houses to the spares shop.

'I've come to pick up my leads.' I said to a different stout yeoman, and showed him my receipt.  He wandered around for a little while, went upstairs, then back down, then into the office, then asked everyone else if they'd seen them and came back out.

'I think we've sold them by accident.' He said - having the decency to look faintly sorry, and was not completely surprised when I slapped him across the face with my leather gloves, suggested that he re-order them and walked out without saying a further word, leaving the outside door open on purpose to reinforce my feeling of displeasure.

On the Saturday I called in twice, the first time them could not find the part still, but 'according to the computer' it was in stock... Somewhere.  Unfortunately on this occasion I had forgotten my gloves, so I had to console myself by pointing at them and suggesting that they buck their ideas up or face a sound thrashing.

The second time, I was presented with the leads in question and an apology, which I accepted in good grace.  Until I got home to find that they had supplied the wrong ones.  To say that I was upset may be an understatement.  Some of the words that I used are banned even by Somali Pirates and I managed to turn one of the birdfeeders in the garden inside-out purely by the ungentlemanly nature of my outburst.

A WEEK LATER, after 500 miles of poppety-bangity-poppety-bangity-poppety-bangity travel up and down the M42 I managed to secure the correct leads which, when fitted, seemed to cure the 'bangity' part, but left me with a surfeit of 'poppety' noises still, along with using 25% more petrol than normal.

I steeled myself and resolved to have the car looked at by an oily professional upon my next pay-day... But then a wonderful thing happened.

One of my headlights popped.  Now, I know to the untrained eye, that may seem like a bad thing, but no... In this particular case it was the golden syrup dripping down the cleavage of an unconscious burlesque dancer, the shiny rollerskates on my suede cloak wearing, yodeling, greyhound.  Whilst I was beavering away under the bonnet to try and see how easy (or otherwise) the bulbs were to change, I moved the induction hose (the tinfoil looking affair that takes fresh-air from the dual superchargers into the air filter) and realised that not only was it not connected at either end, but it had split in the middle.  A quick application of most of a £2 roll of Asda's own-brand duct tape and normal service was (sort of) restored.

All that was required now was replacement bulbs,  I drove the three miles to the spares shop, slowing down as I drove past the police station so that I could rev my engine with impunity in their general direction.  Quoted my registration number to the very professional looking gentleman who gave me the bulbs.

They were the wrong bulbs...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Geronimo!.. Allons-y!.. Oh, For God's sake!..

So, I don't suppose there's much else that I could really blog about today is there?

On the 23rd of November 1963, at a little after a quarter past five. A television program started that was to very slightly change the way a lot of people saw the world.

Exactly fifty years, two hours and thirty-four minutes later, a special one-off, feature length episode of the same series was aired.

I'm talking of course about Countryfile, John Craven's weekly vehicle where he would wander around the English countryside trying not to accidentally kick a sheep in its smug, bleating, cud-chewing face.

LOL! - Had you there for a second didn't I? - Of course I'm not talking about Countryfile, I'm talking about Doctor Who... But you knew that, right?

I'm going to assume that you saw it, and if you didn't... Well, you're going to upset with me because this page is going to contain one or two spoilers and a couple of things that you might not know.  Talking of things that you might not know, the 50th Anniversary episode was preceded by a Webisode (is that a real word even?) Starring Who no.8 - Paul McGann, star of the 1996 TV Movie that was supposed to 'break' Doctor Who in America and it confirmed that John Hurt followed him into the role as many had speculated. But, not as The Doctor.  Instead, his character has been dubbed 'The War Doctor' and does not figure in the number system of incarnations, so Mr McGann is no.8 and Mr Eccleston is still no.9 - According to my close, personal friend, Steven Moffat at least.

So as well as the great story, there are a pan-load of links to previous episodes, I'll try to list a few of them below.

The planet where the spaceship carrying the Doctor crashes in the Webisode is called  Karn, it's a planet that Doctor no.4 Tom Baker visited before in the episode 'The Brain of Morbius' - He tangled with the witch-like Sisterhood of Karn then too and nearly ended up losing his head.  Oh, and the names that the Doctor recites before he drinks the regeneration potion are the names of the Doctor's companions that appeared in the audio-plays.

But to the anniversary episode itself.  First of all, I think that choosing to open with the original Ron Grainer / Delia Derbyshire version of the theme tune was a nice touch - Although I would have been equally happy if they'd used the remix by Orbital - Significantly trippier.

The episode opens with a huge nod to the first episode, The camera pans past the gate of the Foreman Junkyard at 76 Totters lane (where the Tardis was originally hidden) to Coal Hill School (Where the Doctor's Grandaughter went) and you can see from the sign that the Chaiman of Governors is Mr I Chesterton (or Ian Chesterton, one of Doctor no.1's original companions)

In fact, Coal Hill school is a semi-regular location in the series, as it appeared in the 1988 episode 'Remembrance of the Daleks' with Doctor no.7, Sylvester McCoy - Although in fairness, that particular episode was set just after the events of the first ever episode, so you'd expect there to be some correlation I guess.

So Clara gets a call from the Doctor and takes off to meet him on the Anti-Gravity capable motorcycle that we last saw in 'The Bells of Saint John'.

Osgood, Kate (Lethbridge) Stewart's female assistant, not only wears Doctor no.4's scarf (Now, where could she have gotten that from?) but is assumed to be UNIT Sgt. Osgood from the Doctor no.3, Jon Pertwee episode 'The Daemons' Daughter.

And her other assistant, who she talks about, but we never see, is called Malcolm - Could this be Lee Evans' character from the Easter Special 'Planet of the Dead'?

Did everyone get the 'access code' for Captain Jack's gifted Vortex Manipulator that Clara uses to break the Doctors out of the Tower of London? - 1716231163... or 17:16 on 23rd 11th '63 - The time and date of the first airing of the first episode.

There are a couple of things that tie in with Doctor No. 11, David Tennant's final episode, 'The End of Time' - His marriage to 'Good Queen Bess' as mentioned to Ood Sigma, and the fact that Gallifrey was 'taken out of time' rather than burned, so we knew what was going to happen all along, even if the Doctor didn't.

The method The Doctors used to destroy the Dalek attack force was exactly the same thing he did to trap the weeping angels in 'Blink' i.e. get them all pointed at something then move it out of the way so as they destroy each other

If you look into Doctor Who just a little bit more closely than an 'average viewer' you'll see that a lot of the episodes are choc-full of series or even world continuity, tying things together between series and Doctors.

You do have-ta kinda want to find them them though.  I'm sure there are a load more that you guys think are cool that I've completely missed.  Let me know in the comments if you've got any.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Like a firm, ripe, peach

I think that I speak for us all when I suggest that at some time, each and every one of us has been subjected to a young schoolboy's bottom.

Whether it has been due to its constant emission of noxious gasses, or its frequent companion, the loud, moist, noisome retort. Or it may be for more nefarious reasons, you may be a high muck-a-muck in the Catholic Church, or have been a Radio DJ in the 1970's for instance.

But imagine for a second that you are the wife of a 76 year old Tory Peer who made his name by noticing an Iraqi supergun and destroying the Halesowen metalwork business that had helped to build the Titanic in the process, and made his (vast amounts of) cash by working for Lloyds and various other City financial institutions.  Some of which was given back to the Conservative Party JUST before he became a Peer.


So, if you were that person, how do you think you would usually interact with young boy's bottoms?

No, that's Reverend Paul Flowers you're thinking of, he's the one with all the drugs and the bumming.* Try again...

Picture the scene, after a number of years, your husband has finally convinced you that going to watch 'The Rugger' is a respectable pastime, and not at all like being found in bed with a Supermodel on a Saturday afternoon... He has also convinced you to accompany him to 'Twickers' for all three of England's Autumn International matches on three consecutive Saturdays, despite you thinking that it's all a bit sordid and homo-erotic.  The roads are busy with plebs, going about just doing whatever it is plebs do. There was even the occasional coach full of ruddy-faced schoolboys, full of high spirits, jolly japes and jam roly-poly.

Maybe I should let David, Baron James of Blackheath (for it is indeed he), tell his wife's story from here, just as he told it to his peers (who all happen to be Peers - lol! - geddit?) in the House of Lords:

'She was totally horrified by the sight of the school buses coming down the road to Twickenham filled full of children who were indulging in a pastime I believe is called mooning.

I am not going to explain it to your lordships as we are in mixed company.

The sight of some 40 school children mooning simultaneously is not a pretty sight. She was horrified.

My wife is a youth justice officer and she watched as the police motorbikes went zooming past these kids giving them a friendly wave as they went and she said: "We have a law against this sort of thing. Why aren't they being brought into court - I would put them away for a year if I got them".'

Three thing strike me as odd about this story:
  1. I can't imagine that she's never been in the room when a young boy's hindquarters have been roughly unveiled*
  2. She wants the sentence for 'mooning' to be 12 months incarceration 
  3. England got stuffed by New Zealand (Actually, there might only be two odd things in the list)
Now, mooning has been a traditional way of cocking a snook at figures of authority for hundreds of years and is, 999 times out of a thousand taken in good humour by people who unexpectedly come across another person's bare buttocks** (as displayed by the police officers in the above story)

It just goes to show how out of touch and easily outraged some people are.  Especially odd when you consider that when news stories involving those sort of people's husbands regularly include the words 'Gold' and 'Bullion' they don't seem to get half as outraged about those.

If she were in New Zealand of course, she would have every right to be outraged, the indigenous population over there have a thing called Whakapohane which is like mooning, but it's intended to be deeply offensive and symbolises the act of giving birth.

But if you really want to illustrate the logical conclusion, the zenith, the very epitome of 'Mooning gone wrong' You have to go back to the first recorded instance of intentional mooning.  In the first century AD, the Jewish-Roman historian and Hagiographer Titus Flavius Josephus recalls an occasion where a Roman Soldier mooned a group of passing Jewish Pilgrims on their way to the Temple in Jerusalem.  There was a localised riot, which the local Roman garrison countered in their usual fashion and many hundreds (if not thousands, depending on your historical source) of people were put to the Gladius that day with extreme prejudice.


On a slightly more personal note, you'll be glad to hear that I was once involved in the planning of a public spectacle that was aimed at... Well, I'm not 100% sure what the aim was, I think it was just one of those 'Hold me beer and watch this' things - It was to take place in the small Derbyshire town of Melbourne and it went by the name 'Mmmmm' Which stood for the wonderfully alliterative: '(T)he Massed Midnight Moon (I)n Melbourne Marketplace' - I say that I took place in the planning, but I didn't say anything about being involved in the taking part.

I mean, I probably did, but I honestly can't remember, as I was very, very, drunk by about 10:30 and it was a long time ago.

If you feel that you have, in some way missed out on all these rectal hi-jinks and have not been witness to my broad, British buttocks before, please send a stamped, addressed envelope to the usual address and I will send you a photograph of my rear end by return... Well, as soon as I can find time to balance myself precariously on top of the A3 colour photocopier at least.

* Allegedly
** Sorry, couldn't resist (Which, oddly is what is normally said under those circumstances)

Monday, 18 November 2013

You get me closer to God

I've noticed a trend recently,  the Blog seems to have drifted from 'Funny and painful things what have happened in the Dandy family' to 'My personal opinion on things that don't seem to bother anyone else'

Well, it's time for that to change... For today at least, try not to have your atheism rocked to it's very foundations whilst I recount the story that I like to call:

The Micro-Dandy takes his first step towards the Kingdom of Heaven!

(No, he's not died, you can all relax)

Regular readers will know that, despite all... Well, most of us, attending church pretty much every Sunday, only 50% of the clan are actually rabid Religionites.  They are the very worshipful Mrs Dandy and the aforementioned Micro-Dandy himself.  Myself and the Mini-Dandy... Well, not so much.  She thinks that she'd probably go to church more often if it actually happened when she was awake... Possibly late on Sunday afternoon, and I just think that a lot of the dogma, waving your hands around and having to be a member of a special club gets in the way of the whole 'having faith' thing, which is a bit of a shame.

So, anywho, a couple of months ago he came to his Mother and said, 'Mother dearest, I should very much like to Baptised, please and thank-you.'  One thing I think we should probably clear up at this point.  He's eight years old and we've always promoted the thought that if you want to make an important decision that only affects you, you should be free to make that decision for yourself when you're old enough.  That's why he wasn't baptised as a baby, we wanted to wait until he made his own decision.

I don't mean things like him suddenly deciding. 'Oh, I'd love to know what it feels like to be run over by a car, I'll just jump in front of this speeding Subaru.' We're flexible and forward thinking, not bloody stupid.

So a date was arranged, and it just happened to fall on our local Vicar's last day at the church we attend, which was handy, because he'd already organised a buffet, which saved us a fortune on the catering alone.
Then some truly wonderful Godparents were found and we all went to a practice.

Oh yes, you need to practice a Christening service.  (Note: the difference between Christening and Baptism is the same as Wedding and Marriage... You get married at a Wedding, and baptised at a Christening, so now you know.)  You have to know where to stand and which bits to read off your cue-cards and when and everything - There's even a DVD to watch, not sure what it was about, I was sat with the Mini-Dandy at the back of the church wishing we'd brought some Korn to play on the soundsystem and discussing the best way to dispose of the bodyparts of the first unsuitable boyfriend that she decided to let us meet without leaving any forensic evidence.

Then everyone trouped over to the font, and Tim, the Vicar, went through a dry run... Because the font was empty... Dry run? no water in the font? Nevermind. Gods, you guys are difficult to please sometimes.

Everyone got their go at being the proud parent, handing their non existing children to the Vicar, who would mime sprinkling them with his special Holy Water and handing them back quickly before they urinated down his cassock.  Even Mrs Dandy, although the Micro-Dandy was actually there, the Vicar still mimed the whole sprinkling of Holy Water thing.  Then he asked if there were any questions.

The only hand to go up was from my dear Son, 'What do you do with the books that you record the baptism in?' He asked.  Everyone laughed, but the Vicar said that actually, that was a very good question, and then went on to explain that when they were full, they go to the County Records Office, so that people who were researching their family trees could use them.  Then the Vicar asked if there were any more questions, and only my spawn's hand went up again, there was a ripple of nervous laughter, then a sigh, and the Vicar turned questioningly to him. 'How long do you keep the books for?'  He explained that it took a number of months to fill the book, then when it was full, the Records Office kept it for ever.  My son took a breath and the Vicar added a caveat about there probably being a digital record in case the Office burned down, or there was an asteroid impact or something, because he has met my Son before.

On the way home, I explained that 'on the day' if the Vicar asked if anyone had any questions, his answer should be a very quiet 'No, thank you.'

So, last Sunday... Or yesterday if you're reading this today... As long as your particular 'today' is the 18th November 2013, was, as they say, the day.

And the families and friends of the five kids being baptised filled the church right up to the rafters... No, really, we had to load the latecomers in with pitchfoks and mallets.  I mean, there were a lot of people there to start with, what with the free buffet and everything.  But when the various families came in, it was pretty much shoulder to shoulder... Although Health and Safety regulations won't let you stand them too close together, as a lot of the 'posh' clothes that some of the people were wearing had quite a high polyester content, and if they rubbed together too much, there would have been a massive electrical discharge that could have very well killed us all.

Still, I bet the local Primark's profits went up significantly the day before. *cough*

I'm going to gloss over the people who talked all the way through the service, the people who were live-tweeting blow by blow descriptions of what everyone was wearing and the people who you just knew did the whole 'I might burst into flames if I go in there' joke to their mates before taking their seats and then giggled at the people who are there every Sunday without fail and put their hearts and souls into their own particular style of worship.  Mainly because I can see myself crossing the boundary of good taste, and getting personal, which I try not to do.

The service proceeded pretty much how the practice had done, baby was plucked from Mother's very breast, splashed with water and then carried into the Nave and shown to the congregation like Rafiki in the Lion King, there was a smattering of applause for each one in turn.

(Actually, here's another fun Church fact... You know how brides traditionally 'Walk up the aisle'? Well, actually they don't.  The aisles are the bits that are off to each side of the main set of pews, separated from the nave by a row of pillars - The proper name for it is 'the Central Passageway' - So when you get married, the bride is, for all intents and purposes, being taken up the central passageway...[Editors note: Insert comedy trombone noise here please])

When the Vicar came to the Micro-Dandy, he splashed him around the face with the old Aquam Benedictum and said, laughingly, 'Don't worry, I won't be carrying you out there and holding you up.'  To which my son replied, sharp as a razor, 'Why not? you did it for everyone else?'

(Did I mention the Vicar was mic'd up? Ah, the Vicar was mic'd up, and my son knows that in order to be heard, you must speak loudly and clearly into the mic, which he did.)

For a split second, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me, until the Vicar came into the Nave, carrying my eight year old son, and held him up to the congregation.  There was an uproarious cheer and pretty much a standing ovation.  It was great, and of course he spent those few seconds mugging uncontrollably to the crowd.

Afterwards, everyone said their goodbyes and started to filter out and the Vicar came up to me, shaking his head.  He put his hands on my shoulders and said something along the lines of, 'Gold... Absolute Baptismal comedy Gold!' and wandered off, chuckling to himself.

He got some pretty good presents too, an 'Action Bible' graphic novel, drawn in the style of a Marvel comic, a journal, for him to write his innermost thoughts in... Which will no doubt be full of Mincraft seeds and his passwords to a panoply of websites by the end of the week, and a couple of really quite splendid Nerf guns, which his new God-Parents let him shoot at their priceless ornaments with later that afternoon... Told you that they were truly wonderful didn't I?


As it's my Blog, and you can't stop me, I'd like to use the tail-end of this post to say a fond goodbye to Vicar Tim and his family, I've known these people for about thirteen years now and they're great... Should you ever bump into them you should say 'Hi' and 'Would you like a coffee? I'll pay!' - This is them, below - Just so as you recognise them.

Tim and Elaine, with their children John*, Paul**,  George*** and Ringo****

* Tom
** Ben
*** Actually called George
**** Doesn't technically exist - But still might have taken the photograph