Thursday, 28 March 2013

I see a tall, dark stranger

Crap! is it that time already?

Better start Blogging I guess.  I could go for the whole Easter story, what the Bible actually says about it, how it's another stolen holiday that the pagans celebrated ages before Christianity was brought to England, how commercialization has ruined it. How it's a travesty...

But in fairness, I really like chocolate, so it would be a bit two faced of me.

So I sit here, on the verge of a four-day weekend pondering what to re-hash in a humourous fashion and entertain you guys with before you zoom off to Paris for the weekend (or whatever it is that you're telling your workmates you're going to do, we all know you're going to spend the days sat in a dimly lit room playing COD or FIFA, in your pants, whilst the snow falls outside like the cobwebbed cape of Thanatos himself.

So I thought long (lie) and hard (lie) about today's subject... Fortune telling.

There are many ways that people claim to be able to tell the future, there's palmistry (Reading of lines on the palms), hepatoscopy (Reading of entrails), scrying (crystal ball and water-bowl reading) and tasseography (Reading Tea Leaves - Which was a favorite of my paternal Grandmother), to name but a few.

I'm not saying it's all tosh, it could all be cockroach jugglingly true for all I know, but it's very open to abuse... And not in a good way.  In the olden days, anyone who was a bit bald, and a bit mad, and fairly greek, could set themselves up as an oracle, all it took was a bit of narcotic incence, and possibly getting someone from Handmaidens R Us to pop in on a Wednesday afternoon, wear the diaphenous clothes and wiggle about a bit. while you talked about auspicious circumstances, stars rising in the East and the lion lying down with the lamb.

So I got to thinking, I'm a bit bald, and a bit mad, and I like Greek food...

Welcome to the Grotto of Dandyissimus, newest, wisest and most accurate of the new wave of oracular prophets.  Cross my palm with coinage (but not the Euro, obviously, because that's worth less than a dog-fart in a crash helmet) and I will foretell your future with such accuracy as would blind a hamster.

You want a free trial?

Is that the marketing model that you're used to?

OK... Here goes - Some free glimpses into your future, but seeing as you buggers haven't paid me, I'm not going to tell you whose fortunes they are, or whenabouts they're going to happen.  (these are in no way just things I have overheard, or have been told in confidence)

Your husband, who loves you very much, will start living a double life.  Don't worry, he's not gay or having an affair or anything like that.  He finds himself mixing jam, drinking chocolate powder and 'space dust' and spreading it over his body with your best spatula every time you go out.  He will enjoy the feeling at first, but after a while it will become a compulsion, and his usage of it will get more and more extreme.   Things will come to a head when you notice that your toothbrush is sticky and smells of strawberries and every time he breaks wind, it crackles slightly.

An entire group of people, who currently meet under social circumstances will decide, after a celebratory night out, possibly after some kind of sporting event, to have commemorative tattoos.  These will done in ultra-violet ink and will look like random lines drawn all over their bodies.  However, when they stand in a human pyramid, naked, at a local nightclub, the silhouette of Deliah Smith 'tasting a tangy sauce' personally prepared by Heston Blumenthal will be revealed.

Two seperate people, in two wildly seperate locations will start vociferously complaining about the quality of british cheese since we joined the EEC.  MI5, intercepting their (completely seperate) emails will assume that there is some kind of lactose intolerant terrorist uprising on the way and ban the sale of Stinking Bishop and Sage Derby to anyone without a Rolls-Royce.  Questions will be asked in Parliament, which will lead to the leader of the opposition being 'outed' for running his own, black market trade in Dairylea Triangles.

Your wife will decide that her current position as your nearest and dearest, agree-er to your hair-brained schemes and backer-up of your obviously idiotic ideas is no longer enough.  She will start her own business on eBay, buying up surplus fur coats, cutting them up and sewing them back together as suits for those bloody awful sphynx hairless cats.  All will be rosy at first as all over the world people who have mistakenly bought these obscene creatures realise their mistake and buy a new coat for their hairless companions.  Then there will be a short period where sales will fall off due to an expose in the press over allergy issues and then business will boom again as she branches out into fur coats for reptiles who wish to live in arctic areas.  (P.S. she will also discover she is a lesbian and will take you for every penny you have.)

The Government will decide that to bolster the economy, they will put a tax on ducks, only privately held ducks are targeted and the bill (if you'll pardon the pun) flies through Parliament (if you'll pardon the pun) without notice by the general populace.  The next morning you will be visited by agents of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, demanding £6,000,000 pounds tax on the 20,000 ducks that you purchased from a man that you didn't realise at the time was the Speaker of the House of Lords.

And finally.

One of you out there will realise that that thing that your Aunt left you in her will, that one on the mantlepiece that you hate, but can't bring yourself to throw away, the thing that makes you feel all tingly and nauseous in equal measure.  The one with the purple stone that looks like it glows when you look at it out of the corner of your eye, is the key to the time machine that she had in her cellar.  You'll realise this just after the developer you sold her house to to make a quick buck has bulldozed it and built a housing estate on top.  You spend the rest of your life digging in peoples gardens in the darkness... You disappear one night, never to be seen again.

Happy Pascha to everyone.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Barnaby Wilde Pt 3

We've not had any motorcycling tomfoolery recently have we?  I've only got a few minutes as I'm only working a half-day (Half a day longer than I usually do shouts everyone who knows me!)


I remember once, being in a bar (The Silk Mill in Derby, for those who are/were local) when a good friend of mine, Paul came up and said,

'Can you do me a favour Dude?'

'Yeah, for you, anything mate, whaddya need?'

'There's this Chinese girl...'


'She won't leave me alone, I mean, she's nice, but... Well... She's not really my type, friend of a friend, too close, pooping on your own doorstep and soforth.'

'And what would you like me to do?'

'Well, can you scare her off?'

'And how would I do that?'

'Well, she likes the idea of the whole biker thing, and I'm currently vehicularly embarrassed.'


'So, could you take her on the back of the trike and hoon it about a bit? Put her off the whole idea?'

'Yeah, whatevs mate, just let me finish this (non alcoholic *cough*) pint.'

So I finished my pint of weak lemon drink, walked over to the table and introduced myself.

'Alright Paul, not seen you for a while, you been OK? Who's this lovely lady?'

'Awight Dandy! Yeah, fine, this is Lin (I honestly can't remember what her name was, but this will do, as it's easy to type).'

'Pleased to meet you, what you up to?'

'Well funnily enough, we were just talking about you, how your bikes got three wheels and everything, Lin wondered if she could have a look?'

So we went outside, the Silk Mill was one of those places that everyone parked their bikes outside in a line, like you see in Hollywood films, the trike was at the end of the row.  Lin looked at it and smiled (At this point I would normally type in a Wishy-Washy stylee Chinese pantomime accent, but that would be racist... And also I had a go and it was virtually unreadable, so you'll have to make it up yourself)

'It's very nice,' she said, 'It's got three seats?'

'Yeah, helps when you go shopping, or for carrying slabs of cans.'

'Are we going for a ride?'

I looked at Paul, 'If it's OK with you Mate?'

'Yeah, sure, knock yourself out!'

'You come too,' She said to Paul,

'Erm, no, I'm OK, I've been on it before,'

'No, you come, I'll put my arm around you and keep you safe.'

Now, I thought that this was embarrassing for him, but bloody funny, so I walked up and whispered, 'So, what do you want me to do?'

'OK, right, carry on with the plan...'

'If you're sure.'

I gave my lid to Lin, put on my shades (even though it was dark), threw my leg over the saddle and thumbed the starter.  Paul and Lin got on the bench seat at the back, got comfortable and He slapped me on the back.  The trike took off like a scalded cat, Lin hadn't got her feet on the pegs properly and kicked me in the armpit, which sent us swerving briefly onto the other side of the road, even over the engine I could hear Lin squealing.  We got to an island near the busy marketplace and did a couple of circuits, the right hand wheel coming off the ground a couple of times, before heading into town, past rows of kebab shops and drunken townies.

I was doing precisely the legal limit (officer) when one particularly booze addled reveler in a Fred Perry shirt, Farrah trousers and loafers stepped out into the road and put his hand out, pretending to be directing traffic.  I grabbed a great, steaming handfull of front brake, which as you can imagine did not a sausage, and we slid towards him, I didn't want to jam the rear brakes on, as the first thing that would have happened was that we'd have locked up and my passengers would have gone shooting off the front.

Now, you can't lay a trike down and swerve around things like you can on a bike, believe me, I've tried, but if it's got wide bars, you can sometimes get enough leverage to get the back end to break traction if you jam the throttle open, sometimes you can even do this when you mean to.  I just missed the guy... Just got around him... and spent the next, hectic few seconds fighting the mother of all tankslappers.

We passed the Island Rock Club (once featured in AWOL, but now a multi-storey car-park), Lin was still screaming and we got a couple of cheers and waves from the guys outside sat on their bikes drinking 20/20.  As my anal sphychter was still twitching uncontrollably, I decided that I'd had quite enough excitement for one evening, slowly pottered around the island and headed back to the pub.

I pulled up at the end of the row of bikes, paddled the trike back into her space, cut the engine and got off.
'So, how was that?' I said as I turned around,

'That was great!' replied Lin as she jumped of the seat, bouncing up and down, full of adrenaline, 'That bit where you nearly hit that guy, and when we nearly tipped over, let's go again! Paul, can we go again? Paul?... Paul!'

I looked at Paul, Now I'd never seen a dead body at the time, but I remember thinking that that's what one must look like... He was grey, his mouth was open, his eyes were staring straight ahead and his right hand was glued to the mudguard bracket.

'Want a glass of water mate?' I asked


'Or a brandy? I could run to a brandy maybe... I'll get you a brandy, Lin, here's a quid, get him a brandy will you?'

She wandered into the pub and seconds later came out clutching a tumbler of brandy.

'Here, drink this, you'll feel better.'

As he sipped, the colour started to return to his cheeks, his claw-like grip relaxed, and his jaw started to work.

'Kill.' He whispered

'Sorry Mate, what?' I leaned in closer

'Kill you.'

'What? sorry, still not getting you..'

'I'll F*cking KILL YOU!' He yelled as he launched himself out of the seat, towards my face.
The chase didn't last long, across the road, down the river, into Town, around the marketplace, took him a few minutes to calm down when we both ran out of breath,  He eventually saw the funny side... I think it was a couple of years later if I remember correctly, he ended up being the best man at my wedding.


I was in the Vic, the brilliant live music venue opposite Derby Rail Station one night, at closing time, talking to the landlady (oddly called Lin too), when her daughter wandered into the bar.

'I'm off home Mum, I might just get the last bus.'

'Ok, see you tomorrow.'

As she opened the door, we all heard the sound of the last bus driving past.  I made the 'Wah-wah-waaaaaahh!' trombone noise and necked the last of my bottle of Newkie Brown.

'You'll give her a lift home won't you Dandy?'

'Ermm... If you like,' I turned and asked, 'Where do you live?'

She told me and it turned out that it was sort of on my way home, but she was blonde, and cute and nineteenish, and her Mum ran a pub, so it could just as well have been in Yugoslavia and I would still have said yes.

'Haven't got a lid though, it might mess your hair up.'

We all trouped outside, and everyone who was still there watched her clamber onto the back of the trike, there was a massive cheer as she wrapped her arms around me, slightly tighter than was absolutely necessary  but I can't remember complaining.

We slowly pulled away and drove, very sedately down the street and stopped at the traffic lights.  She released her grip slightly just as we pulled away and ended up grabbing on to the waist adjusters of my leather as she shot backwards before managing to claw her way closer until she was pressed into my back and her arms were crossed in front of me (Did I mention I used to be a bit skinnier than I am now?)

It only took about fifteen minutes to get her home, I pulled up by the side of the road and looked at her.

'You OK?'

She nodded,

'Only, I can see all of your teeth.'

'Lips.. Dry...'


'Lips... are... Dry...'

Turns out that she'd been grinning so broadly for the entire trip that her lips had stuck to her gums and she couldn't move them.

Now I'm somewhat more worldly, and if I wasn't happily married of course, If a young, pretty, blonde, air hostess (Did I mention she was an air hostess? Or she was training to be an Air Hostess at least, or something) sits on the back of my trike and complains that her lips are dry, there are certain ways that I could remedy the situation, but at the time, I helped her off the back, watched her get her key in the door then went home.

After all, I had work in the morning...

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A space helmet for a cow?

As you all know, I don't do 'Current Affairs' or 'Recent News' or 'Things that happened this century'.  But there's an anniversary this year that definately needs a bit of national celebration.

OK, so it's not really until the 23rd of November, but it's a biggie, so you'll probably be excused for getting overexcited, starting early, and making a mess in the corner.

Doctor Who is fifty years old this year!

There isn't a person out there (whose opinion counts for anything) that doesn't love Doctor Who.  Most people have their own Doctors, often the Doctor who was in residence whilst they were growing up, I'm lucky enough to have two; Both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker (Although I was a great fan of the occasional Patrick Troughton episode) are ingrained on my subconcious as the man in my particular funny blue box.

The ongoing story of everyone's favourite 903 (approximately) year old adventurer from the planet Gallifrey, a binary star system in the constellation of Kasterborous have entertained all the members of the Dandy clan for the past 40 odd years.  It has everything, adventure, pretty girls, rugged boys, humour, horror, suspense and in the later series (2005 onwards) an awful lot of running.

Don't get me wrong, it's not universally good, for me they could have quite happily left out the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, completely as the job he did trying to channel William Hartnell was slapdash at best and at worst, jellyfish stampingly annoying and Sylvester McCoy did, in my opinion, more harm than good with his 60% Tom Baker, 30% Peter Davidson, 10% Charlie Chaplin portrayal.  And whichever of the McGanns that it was that did the 'Americanised version'... Well, the less said about that the better (I understand he was quite brilliant in the Internet / Radio / Talking book versions though) But on the whole, the new mob are great, Matt Smith does do a particularly good Patrick Troughton, unfortunately sans the penny whistle.

It has generated a selection of words that have passed into the language, most notably 'Tardis' as used by estate agents to describle bijou one bedroom leasehold flats with staggeringly expensive service charges all over London that are the size of a biscuit tin on the outside and the size of a wardrobe on the inside.

'Sonic Screwdriver' has come to mean an item of equipment used to open containers that are proving 'difficult', it can apply to hammers, prybars, big screwdrivers or angle grinders, usually used thusly:

'Oi, Shadwell, chuck us the Sonic Screwdriver... No... Not that one, the big one.'

 'Davros' can been applied to... Oh, I don't know... wheelchair bound people with a sense of humour, old people with dark tans who choose to wear fake leather jackets, or those unfortunates who have a single glowing blue eye in the centre of their wizened foreheads.

It's difficult not to use the word 'iconic' too much when you're talking about it, the enemies are all pretty iconic, Daleks, Cybermen, Silurians (both types) and their cousins the Sea Devils, Sontarans and The Master are all instantly recognisable... Well, I mean, the Master is kinda, at least in the Roger Delgado / Anthony Ainley years, but there've been almost as many Masters as there have been Doctors.

While we're on the subject, can you name all eighteen men and one woman who have played the Doctor in film or Television? (Not including body doubles or stand-ins you pedantophiles or people who might have been the Doctor) - Answer at the bottom of the page.  Don't worry if you didn't get them all, I had to look a couple from the late nineties up.

Hopefully, the adventures of the 'Raggedy Man' will continue for another fifty years so that the next generation of Dandies will be able to pick character traits to affect that will make them stand out, and I also hope that whoever takes over from Matt Smith next year will not urinate on the franchise from a great height.

Who would you want to be the next Doctor? There's not been a lot of talk about his successor as yet on t'Internet, but I'm sure everyone has an idea, maybe it's finally time for a female Doctor (although that presumably won't be the incarnation that marries Melody Pond... Although Alex Kingston has a history of playing 'open minded' characters), maybe we'll see the Ginger Doctor, or the one that doesn't have legs, Maybe the one that doesn't have legs is really Jim the Fish?

I don't know.

I know who my choice would be though...

He'd have to be suave and erudite, Well read, sarcastic, ironic, tough in a no second chances kind of way, in touch with his feminine side, able to quip, as disabling with a well turned phrase as with a stun-gun fashioned from a wind-up penguin and a bucket of butterscotch Angel Delight that smells faintly of sturgeon.

In a word...


People who've played the Doctor include:

William Hartnell, Peter Cushing (Played a human Doctor Who in the two 1960's films), Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Richard Hurndall (Played William Hartnell's Doctor in The Five Doctors), Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Rowan Atkinson, Richard E Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Joanna Lumley, (Comic Relief 1999) Mark Gatiss (Doctor Who night 1999 - Went on to write and star in several episodes), Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith

Monday, 25 March 2013

What a waste of good pork

For some history on Mal Ak'Hai the Hunter, please read We don' need no steenking dipthongs, or don't - I'm easy either way.


The hot sun beat down from the clear, blue sky. He'd stripped off most of his leather armour and was watching the tower intently from the small grove of scrub and trees that was the only shade on the entire plain.

Tror du han kan se os?' Asked Algot, the leader of his guard; Alfrun had made sure that he took reinforcements with him this time. Since their marriage two months before, they had become inseparable, she wasn't going to lose him to some stupid quest.

'Yes, I'm sure he can see us, if nothing else, these damn helmets reflect the sun like signal fires!'

The helmets that they were forced to wear had no substance, their thin metal wouldn't stop an arrow, never mind an axe, but they did stop you losing control of your own mind and slaughtering your own men if the Magus turned his attention to you.

'Ewald, Algot, you two circle around to the right, stay as low as you can, Jarne and Razmus, to the left, follow the line of the rocks, Runar...' He shook his head, not agreeing with the tactics that he was being forced to use, 'Prepare the pigs.'

They had 'liberated' the pigs two days earlier from a village baron who had too many and refused to sell his surplus. Though he would have been even less inclined if he had any idea what their fate was to be. Runar tried to calm the pigs, they were not enjoying the heat and there would be no respite for them in the few minutes of life they had left. He tied large bundles of straw to each of them and then delicately attached the vials of græsk-ild, being careful not to break the fragile class vials.

'Ready?' Mal Ak'Hai looked at Runar questioningly, almost hoping that he would say no, and that the pigs would get a reprieve.

'Ja herre, de er klar til at brænde.' The plan had been Runar's idea, and he was sure it would work.

'Very well, light them up...'

Runar nodded and applied a burning torch to the straw bundle nearest the rump of the pigs. As they realised what was happening, they started to squeal and panic, trying desperately to get away from the heat. A leather clad boot kicked them in the direction of the tower and the pigs ran. Palls of black smoke plumed from them as they crossed the scalding sand to the tower.

As they got within a hundred yards, the rain of arrows started from the top of the tower.

'Go... Go...!' Yelled the hunter, 'Stay in the smoke, but keep away from the pigs until they've done their job!'

The six men ran into the thick smoke and made their way towards the castle, eyes streaming as their lungs filled with the smell of burning pork. Despite the reduced visibility, they could still see arrow after arrow hitting the pigs, a gout of flame signalled a lucky hit on a vial of græsk-ild, which only made them run faster and created more covering smoke. They finally reached the cavernous rock that served as the foundations of the tower.

'Get Down!'

The mix of græsk-ild and rendering pig fat detonated with a deafening roar that shook loose stonework from above.

'Into the cave, now!' His five guards followed him into the burning darkness, the smell of roasting pork causing his mouth to water against his better judgement, 'Find the entrance, it must be closeby somewhere, but be carefull, I think they know we're here..'

The Norsemen grinned at each other and split into two teams, searching the twisting caverns for a way into the stronghold. It was only minutes until the sound of fighting alerted the hunter to the fact that the other team had found the entrance. They ran towards the noise and got there in time to see Rasmus swinging his battleaxe around in circles and cleaving defenders in two at the waist. Jarne picked up two more, stoved their skulls together, and threw them to the ground.

Mal drew Lyssvaerd, extended her blade and plunged it into the chest of the nearest enemy - bringing the sword up so that its burning tip exited the top of his head in a fountain of blood. His guard roared as they saw this, finally sure that their new Lord was a fighter.

'Push them back, we need to get to the tower!'

To busy to reply, the small force responded by action, redoubling their efforts and cutting down anyone that stood between them and the door. It took an age to make it to the armoured door, and as they cleared the last few guards, it started to swing closed.

'Runar! Don't let them close the door!'

Runar reached into his pocket and pulled out the last vial of græsk-ild, he hefted it to gauge its weight and then threw it through the rapidly narrowing gap. It sailed through the air, hit the doorframe and smashed. The sticky liquid spraying through the opening and finding its way to one of the wall torches.

The explosion blew the door closed and the screams of pain from behind it echoed through the cavern. As the noise died down, they tried to open it but the hinges had been bent by the force of the blast, and it took the combined strength of all of them to force it open. The scene that confronted them was a glimpse into the mouth of hell, burning, shattered bodies lined the walls and unidentifiable chunks littered the floor.

'ved Grabthar's kølle...' whispered Ewald, as he surveyed the scene.

'Up... We need to go up!' Mal rallied his troops and started to climb the stairs into the tower.

They were halfway to the top when an etherial voice echoed around the stairwell.'INVADERS... LEAVE NOW, STAY AND YOU WILL DIE HORRIBLY.'

'Yes, he definately knows that we're here.'

They encountered light resistance for the rest of their journey, the Magus having commited the majority of his forces to the defence of the cavern. At the top of the stairs there was a small anteroom, decorated with occult symbols that seemed to creep slowly across the walls and change shape as they went. Skulls of various animals languished on shelves and tables and stacks of parchment, decorated with unknowable sigils littered the floor.

'Magus! We have come for you!' Mal Ak'Hai declared, 'You will pay for your crimes...'

A low growl came from the stairs behind them, Rasmus swung his axe without turning and seperated the owners head from it's shoulders. The rest of the half dog-half lizard thing slid to the ground and bubbled into a toxic slime.

'Du bliver nødt til at gøre det bedre end det.' called Rasmus.

'I've a feeling that he can do better than that my friend,' replied the hunter, 'Else there wouldn't be such a price on his head.'

With the violence of a hurricane, the ornate door at the other side of the room flew open and a gust of wind threw them to the floor. They were held there until the gale subsided, as they rose, they saw their target silhouetted in the doorway.

'YOU WERE GIVEN A CHANCE!' The Magus bellowed, 'NOW DIE!'

He closed his eyes and made a complicated gesture with his hands.

'I'm afraid that your tricks won't work on us, we're protected,' The hunter indicated their flimsy metal helmets.


Rasmus yelled, raised his gargoyle blood caked weapon and charged at his clanmates.

'Jeg kan ikke hjælpe mig selv!' He screamed, unable to control his own actions, his helmet had been blown from his head by the wind.

Ewald ducked under the blade and brought his sword up to block it, 'Uanset hvad du vil gøre, gør det nu!' The sinews on his arms tightened as he fought to keep the dripping axe blade away from his face.

The sweat poured for the Magus' brow as the force of trying to control Rasmus started to tell on him. Mal sprung, holding the hilt of Lyssvaerd in his fist, as the Magus sensed his approach he opened his eyes and screamed. in a split second, Ewald rolled to one side, the now dazed Rasmus fell to the ground and the hunter pressed the button that released the blade.

It extended through the Magus' temple, through his skull and out of the other side; and as the light slowly faded from his eyes, he smiled. 'Run...' he whispered.

The heroes looked at each other and smiled. 'See what you can find to suppliment the bounty, we'll need to...'

The room started to shake, dust and skulls, parchment and elixirs started to fall to the ground... One by one, the stones of the tower were winking out of existence...

'Run!' Yelled Mal Ak'Hai, 'Run as if your life depended on it!'

Which, in hindsight, it did.


I wrote this as, at the weekend, my son asked me to make him, without a trace of irony, a tinfoil hat... So I did, and this is the adventure that he could have had, in another place.








Friday, 22 March 2013

Take two and call me in the morning...

I mentioned, during my essay on why health and safety can sometimes be a bit of a lifesaver, about an incident I once attended in a hospital.

As I can't really think of anything spectacular to wow you with today, I should probably go into a bit more detail about this, and some other minor incidents that happened whilst I was working for the NHS.

Not to worry you or anything, but just to let you know, the vast majority of people who work in hospitals are normal human beings, not SuperHeroes, not Angels, they don't have magic powers and they often get tired and grumpy, just like everyone else - This is important, try not to forget it. Be nice to them, it's in your interests in the long run.

I used to work at a couple of large Hospitals in Worcestershire and I would do a lot of the 'Rapid response' stuff, you know, the sort of thing where people would have yelled 'Stat' at the end of every sentence if we'd been in America.

Once, there was a problem with an MRI scanner and of course, because it had cables connected to it, IT got called, and because it was medical equipment, I got the honour of trying to fix it. Once I'd found my way to the Medical Imaging department, I found a very red Sister and a flustered looking Nurse in the control room.

'Hey, I'm Dandy from IT, you've got a problem with the MRI?'

'Yes,' Growled the Sister, 'It seemed that the PC got disconnected.'

'Disconnected?' I asked, not really liking where this was going, 'How did it get disconnected?'

'Do you really need to know?' Replied the Sister shooting a look at the cowering Nurse that would have boiled a stoat, 'Or can you just (and she did the whole air-quotes thing here) Make It Work?'

'Well, I'm no expert, but I'll have a look at it for you... Can we not get the MRI people in?'

'They're expensive, but we can if we really have to.'

'Right...' It felt good to know that I was a valued member of the team, and not just the cheaper option.

The PC that displayed the MRI results was part of the desk, and to this day I've no idea of exactly what the nurse had done. but it looked like she'd maybe tried to move the whole desk and had panicked when everything went dark. I removed the panelling and went underneath... Have you ever seen the original Raiders of the Lost Ark? The bit where Indy lands in the pit and says 'Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?' Well, that's pretty much what the space under the desk looked like, cables everywhere, big ones, small ones (but strangely, none as big as my head) - All sharing one commonality... They were disconnected.

'Are all these cables for this MRI?' I asked,

'Don't know, does it matter?'

So I spent a while, figuring out stuff, identifying other stuff, getting shocks from things until I figured out that maybe only three or four cables were actually for this bit of kit, and everything else had just been left there from previous equipment.

I crawled out, hit the main power, and everything sprang into life... No-one was more suprised than I was. The nurse, still looking quite embarrased, did a few checks and confirmed that it was working.

'Can you hang around whilst we do the first patient? Just in case anything...'

'Sets on fire?' I suggested

The look she shot me let me know that perhaps I should keep my comedy to myself.

The patient was a little old lady, complete with 1940's tweed coat and a four-wheeled shopping buggy (which they convinced her that she'd have to leave outside the MRI chamber itself, as it had a metal frame, and they didn't want it flying around poltegeist style when the switched the multi-Tesla field on) and I went and got a coffee whilst they prepped the old lady.

I guess that might need some explaining, which will also make the rest of the story a little bit more understandable. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Your body (not just yours, mine, the dog's, that girl whose backside you were staring at at the bus stop this morning) contains a lot of water, water contains Hydrogen molecules, the Hydrogen molecules contain little things called protons. Inside the donut of the MRI scanner is a bloody great electromagnet (about 750 times stronger than a fridge magnet) that they turn off and on really quickly and it makes these protons vibrate (or more correctly, resonate), then they take a picture. So you now understand why metal things behave oddly in a strong magnetic field. (Copyright - Explaining complicated things to people who really don't care - Chimping Dandy Books 2013)

By the time I'd got back, they were asking the spinster if she had any fillings or a false leg or anything to which she replied a resounding no.. Then they asked her if she was sure, which she was, and if she thought she might be pregnant. A question she treated with the contempt it deserved.

Finally they helped her onto the table and rolled her into the emitter. The nurse pressed some buttons, sighed, and rolled her back out again.

'Are you sure you aren't wearing any jewellery?'

'No dear.'

'Any piercings?'


'Not... erm... anywhere?'


The nurse went into the storecupboard and got out one of those 'wand' metal detectors that they use in court (or so I've been told *cough*) which she slowly moved around the old lady's body. When it got to her head, it beeped.

'You don't have a plate do you?'

'Pardon dear?'

'A plate, in your head, have you ever had surgery on your head?'

'Oh no, never,'

The nurse moved the wand again and it beeped by the lady's ear.

'What the?'

She looked closer and noticed a small bump on her ear, which she rubbed, and then gently scratched at, then she went to get some tweezers and some alchohol, and removed a small sleeper ear-ring... Which had been in her ear so long that the skin had grown over it, and the old lady had completely forgotten about it.

Ewwww... (The MRI scanner worked fine by the way, you don't need to worry)


The incident mentioned at the top of this post was at 'the other' hospital. We'd had a call about one of the PCs in one of the operating theatres being broken and needing to be fixed 'stat'. So I trudged halfway around the building, found the correct theatre, realised that it was 'in use', sighed, and pressed the buzzer.

An exasperated looking Nurse came to the door and said 'Yes?'

'I'm Dandy, from IT, come to look at the theatre PC, didn't realise that you were busy, shall I come back?'

'Don't know, wait there.' She turned around, closed the door, presumably scrubbed up again and rejoined her group. About five minutes later, the door opened again, this time it was a Consultant, a not particularly happy looking one from what I remember, with a PC on a trolley. He pushed the trolley towards me and said'

'Fix it, we need it!' Then he turned around, closed the door, presumably scrubbed up again, and rejoined his group.

I looked at the PC, turned it on, did a few checks, connected to the network, made sure they could get onto the Internet, saw the homepage was set to Google (This single fact alone sent a chill down my spine) and stood there looking at it... I couldn't see a single thing wrong with it, so I pressed the buzzer.

A different exasperated nurse came to the door and said 'Yes?'

'Hi, erm... I'm supposed to be fixing this PC?'


'Well, I can't see what's wrong with it,'

She rolled her eyes and said, 'Wait here, I'll check.' Then she turned around, closed the door, presumably scrubbed up again, and rejoined her group. After a few minutes, the first nurse appeared again.

'There's no sound!'


'There's no sound... The sound, it does not work.'

'The sound?'

'Yes, sound,' You know that look you reserve for when you tread, with bare feet, in dog poop that has worms in it? Well, that was how she was looking at me, 'Mr (insert Consultant's name here) doesn't work without music, no sound, no music, no surgery.'

I looked at her, she looked at me, I looked at the back of the PC, I looked at her, I held up the jack-plug coming from the back of the speakers, and plugged it into the back of the PC. There was a huge crackling noise, as it seemed the entire extent of their diagnostic process had been to turn the volume all the way up.

'Ta-dah!' I said, spreading my arms wide, 'That should work now.'

'Thank you,' whispered the nurse, begrudgingly, Then she turned around, closed the door, presumably scrubbed up again, and rejoined her group.

Remember where I said above that people who work in hospitals are normal human beings, not SuperHeroes, not Angels, they don't have magic powers and they often get tired and grumpy, just like everyone else?

Well, a few of them are right arseholes too... just like everyone else.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

When the map was pink

So, tell me this cyberspace... Where does being a proud member of your country end and being a racist Nazi begin?

(I've used the word, Nazi, quite a lot recently haven't I? Loads of times yesterday, about flying disks and suchlike... Great word, so many possible uses - Did you know it's a contraction of 'Nationalsozialismus' or the National Socialist Party? That sounds much more fluffy doesn't it, something you could really get behind?)

Anyway, back to the question in hand, I'm an anachronistic kind of guy, I like hats, I wear a beard and sideburns completely unironically, I wear silk waistcoats and regularly use a pocketwatch... You'd be quite within your rights to think that I live in the past.

In fact, you'd probably be right. Why do I do this? Well, it's obviously because the past was a better place. There was clean air and long summer days playing in the woods, you could make a bow and arrow and your Mum knew how to make jam. It wasn't all great obviously, there was slavery and quite a lot of syphilis, but that was a small price to pay for being able to go to exciting new countries and expect everyone you met once you got off the ship to be able to speak English.

Ah, there you go - You see the first warning sign right there, the expectation that we had (and still have to a large extent) that Johnny Foreigner will speeka-da-English. At the height of its 450 year history, the British Empire covered a quarter of the world and comprised a fifth of the total planetary population, the Sun quite literally, never set on it. We sailed to foreign parts, planted a flag, claimed the land for the King or Queen (delete as applicable) of the time, enslaved the natives (but we taught them English and Christianity, so technically they still owe us), spread a light smattering of syphilis and cholera, exported all their food, rinsed and repeated.

We invented stuff though, and built things. Everywhere you went there were huge copper and brass steam engines, pumping water and mining coal to keep massive copper and brass steam engines running so that they could pump water and mine coal, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera as Yul Brynner might say. There was cast iron and battleship chain and mass produced bone china - You might counter that with 'Yeah, but five year old children were being seriously maimed in woolen mills, and young boys were catching scrotum cancer from sweeping chimneys for fourteen hours a day.' And I'd look at you funny, because no-one likes to hear the words 'scrotum' and 'cancer' in the same sentance. But honestly, wouldn't you rather see children sweeping chimneys than hanging around on streetcorners with their jeans around their knees, stabbing old ladies for an out of date tin of catfood? (And by children, I mean other people's children, obviously)

We had a Navy which ruled the waves (Which there's a song about, so it must be true) and an Army which kicked ass pretty much everywhere it went, especially when their cannons and muskets were turned on people armed with sticks and lengths of rope. We didn't have all the supply problems and the 'But I'm suing the Government because my Kevin had to buy his own body armour off of eBay and it came from China and it was made of papier mache' nonesense that we have today because we would take what we needed without a second thought... Without a first thought in some cases.

Sorry? What was that you said? Rape? do you mean of the indigenous populace or the country? Both? Well, yes, I suppose there might have been a small amount of that sort of thing here and there, I mean you get a few bad apples in any expeditionary force don't you? It's not like we exterminated anybody is it? No native tribes ever got wiped out because they were a bit close to places where we could mine copper, or diamonds, or pitchblende... *cough*

The women of the Empire (which, even to me, sounds like badly written Star Wars fan-fic) were proper women, with the big hats and skirts and parasols. Demure and cosseted, they ate bon-bons from silver trays, brought to them at 3:00pm sharp by Philip, the nice dusky gentleman that they'd had brought in from Bechuanaland especially for this purpose. Most importantly, they knew their place, which was atop a pedestal, being showered with gifts and the only thing they had to do on a daily basis was to look pretty whilst their husbands got on with the very real and worthwile job of being a good Captain of Industry and not getting gout... Or syphilis...

Wouldn't it be easier if things were how they used to be? The UK being the only real world power and thus guaranteeing no global war ever again? Children gainfully employed rather than roaming the streets like feral weasles? Women being sedate and wonderful and pretty and domesticated? Johnny Foreigner doing all the simple hard work in the hotter climates? Worthy but expendable lower-class people doing all the skilled hard work in Blighty?

You know it would, deep in your heart of hearts - A better time, a more rewarding existence for all... Well all the important people like us at least. But it'd still be best to keep a few ampules of Doxycycline about your person just in case.


I'd like to finish with a few definitions, see if you can guess where they fit in:

anachronism (əˈnækrəˌnɪzəm)


1. the representation of an event, person, or thing in a historical context in which it could not have occurred or existed

2. a person or thing that belongs or seems to belong to another time: she regards the Church as an anachronism


satire (ˈsætaɪə)


1. a novel, play, entertainment, etc, in which topical issues, folly, or evil are held up to scorn by means of ridicule and irony

2. the genre constituted by such works

3. the use of ridicule, irony, etc, to create such an effect


irony 1 (ˈaɪrənɪ)

n , pl -nies

1. the humorous or mildly sarcastic use of words to imply the opposite of what they normally mean

2. an instance of this, used to draw attention to some incongruity or irrationality

3. incongruity between what is expected to be and what actually is, or a situation or result showing such incongruity

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

If only Lock & Co made tinfoil hats.

A lot of the regulars out there will know that I'm pretty odd... Actually, who am I kidding, you've only got to read any of my posts that involve the words 'Haddock' or 'Spoon' or 'Transvestite Poundshop Christmas' to realise that I'm a purveyour of the rum and uncanny...

I actively enjoy the unusual. Normal, vanilla people and situations bore me senseless. I like it when OAPs tell me that they like hardcore Jungle music, or when quiet, unassuming office girls have one too many WKDs and say 'I make ferrets wear traditional Romanian gypsy dresses and film them dancing the polka'

That doesn't happen as much as I'd like, to be honest, but the opportunity's always there.

My favourite kind of people in all the world are conspiracy theorists... They're great, mad as badgers, every man-jack of them, but great. You usually find that they're very earnest people who strongly believe in something that they have no way of proving (trying desperately not to compare them with rabid fundamentalist Religionites here) Usually involving the Government, Aliens, Aliens in the Government, Government by Aliens or Aliens, in the Government, trying to keep the fact that we are being governed by Aliens, secret.


Every heard of Vril? Well, there are them that say that it's a type of energy, ('Them' in this instance being 'crazy people') described in a book written in the late 19th Century (as a novel originally, in fairness, but soon turned into cold, hard fact, a bit like the DaVinci Code I guess), that the Nazi's used to power their flying disk aircraft that they had all over the place between the two world wars... I know, right, I can't find a photo of the sky, taken between 1912 an 1944 that isn't choc full of Nazi flying saucers - They actually have to Photoshop them out of footage of battles you know. The Roswell Crash? that wasn't aliens, it was a Nazi flying saucer, powered by Vril.

In 1947-1948, a (strangely heavily armed) flotilla of US Navy ships, Commanded by one Admiral Richard E. Byrd were sent to the Antarctic on a 'routine survey mission' and were beaten back by a strong force of Nazi soldiers, backed up by flying disks. Huge cover up, tears before bedtime and everything.

Perhaps even more strange is the fact that the popular Beef Extract foodstuff Bovril (Made by giant chemical company Unilever) Gets its name from the words 'Bovine' and 'Vril' being cleverly portmanteu'd.


HAARP is a word you will have stumbled across if you've spent any time on the Internet at all. It stands for High (f)requency Active Auroral Research Project - Cleverly the 'F' of frequency has been omitted from the acronym as No-one could say HFAARP! without sniggering. HAARP does everything, it can trigger environmental disasters, down planes, burn the sky (or, at least make it look like the sky is burning, to possibly confuse our reptillian overlords), flip the North and South poles, and last, but by no means least... Control people's minds!

OK, so it does actually exist, there are vast arrays of strangely shaped antenna in Gakona, Alaska that shoot signals into the upper atmosphere to do strange and interesting experiments. There are certainly some odd things about it, it's run by the military and they freely admit that it can, sometimes heat the sky up a little bit... Can that be good? I don't know, I'm not a scientist - Google it, you'll have loads of fun trawling through all the 'HAARP ate my hamster' stuff.


Secret Societies are a VERY popular talking point too. Everything we see, do or feel is supposedly controlled by these trans-global mega think tanks. Be they Illuminati, Opus Dei, The Bilderberg Group, various Banking Clans such as The Rothschilds and, my personal favourite, The Freemasons. Whilst it would be stupid to say that the Hyper-rich can't also be the Hyper-powerful, some of the things attributed to these groups are - Is far fetched the right word? For instance,

The Illuminati - based on a group of German free-thinkers in the late 18th Century, have joined with the Communists to infiltrate Hollywood to pave the way for The New World Order (That's another one to Google on your own time - Ain't nobody got time for dat amount of explainin').

Opus Dei, a group within the Catholic Church, mostly comprised of lay-people, are said to have death squads throughout the world (again, an idea popularised in The DaVinci Code but now taken as 'fact')

The Bilderberg Group is an invitation only, annual meeting, of some of the most powerful men in North America and Western Europe who sit around and have a good old chat about the problems that the World is facing - They're definitely not deciding future global policy and the fact that there are no members from Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa or South America is only because those people are traditionally no very good at golf... Probably.

The Rothschilds have used their financial power to fix the outcomes of wars over the past few hundred years for their own financial gain.

The Freemasons... Ah, the lovely, lovely, Freemasons... I should probably admit that I know quite a few Masons, but I am not one myself. In my personal experience they're a great bunch of guys who really know how to party.

But to the pencils up the nose, pants on the head types, they've done everything from assisting the Illuminati and the Knights Templar in various plots to take over the world, worshiping their own personal God (called Jahbulon, for those who like to pigeonhole your deities), constructing the streets of Washington DC (and probably any other city that will stand still long enough) to strict numerological and Masonic algorythms and assassinating JFK.

Oh yeah, and according to David Icke, they're part of the reptilian alien conspiracy too - As if the rest of it wasn't mad enough.


Just to finish, I'd like to say that I bear no ill-will towards people who believe any of this stuff. Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, who am I to judge? I just thought it might be a nice thing for people to trawl through the Internet for, maybe give people ideas for short stories?  The worst thing that could possibly happen is that they all turn out to be right...

Sleep tight my friends - But watch out for the communist, kitten eating, Nazi, reptile, bank owner under your bed, slipping into your dreams and sucking out all of your positive energies.


And finally, for those of you who don't understand the title of today's post, Lock & Co are the oldest, and arguably best, Hatter in the country... Possibly the world. They are credited with the invention of the Bowler/Coke hat (or Derby, if you are of a Collonial persuasion) much favoured by our own resident brick-wizard and Flash-Fictioneer, James Josiah.

Their customer list contains the great, the good and the Royal and I have received word that popular comedian Al Murray has just invested in one of their luxuriant head-coverings.

If you should ever find yourself in London, with the spare time and money, you should pop into their premises at 6. St. James' Street SW1 and make yourself a better person, well, certainly a better dressed person - which, for all intents and purposes is the same thing.

And if anyone from Lock's is reading this, and they feel like posting a new hat to Dandy Towers (for purely review purposes of course) Maybe something in a 'Stovepipe' or 'Fez', or even a linen cap as Summer is allegedly on its way, well, that would just be spiffing!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Well, that's not right, surely


It's a very dated word for an idea that seems to have become equally dated. I can guarantee most of you had a picture of a knight in armour flash into your head when you read it (Unless of course you have experienced our justice system, where you might have thought of a judge)

Hold on tight kids, I'm going in for the definition:

Definition of honour


[mass noun]
  • high respect; great esteem:his portrait hangs in the place of honour [in singular]
  • a person or thing that brings esteem:you are an honour to our profession (His, Your, etc. Honour) a title of respect or form of address given to a circuit judge, a US mayor, and (in Irish or rustic speech) any person of rank.
  • the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right:I must as a matter of honour avoid any taint of dishonesty
  • dated a woman’s chastity or her reputation for being chaste:she died defending her honour

I'm mainly talking about the third one in the list, The quality of knowing and doing what is morally right. It's easy enough you'd think - You picture a situation that requires a choice, you decide (because it's usually obvious) what the 'right' thing to do is, and do it...

Simples! As an animatronic/CGI meerkat might say, before being replaced by a dry, scenery chewing, comedian whose character supposedly has a special set of angry clothing.

Not difficult is it? Really? You make the right choice, it gives you a warm feeling inside, you can be forgiven for having a bit of a smug little grin to yourself and the world keeps spinning round the sun like it has for the past however many billion years.

But now let's do some role-playing... Imagine for a second that you're a scrote.

(Some of you will find that easier than others obviously)

And we're gonna need a situation from someone in the audience... What's that sir? Waiting in the rain for a bus with a one-legged German and an Irishman? No, that doesn't really fit our purposes, Someone buying a live duck as a present for a Latvian single mother? - Seriously? What are you people on?

Forget it, I'll make something up. Howabout, you're walking down the street behind a pensioner, she gets a real-live handkerchief out of her pocket, because they're the only people who still use them, and blows her nose. At the same time, she drops a fiver... No, no.. she drops a twenty pound note... What do you do?

Well you steal it, obviously don't you, there's no-one watching (You did remember we were roleplaying being a scrote, right?) You make it so she has to fight the cat for its food for the next week until she gets her pittance of a pension so that you can buy another thirty cans of Dreadnought lager from Mr Patel in the corner shop, who you should really hate, 'cos he's ethnic, but he's very chatty and always asks if your Mum's alright when you go in to buy Rizlas.

And the world STILL keeps spinning round the sun like it has for the past however many billion years.

Can you see where this is going? It seems to me that doing the right thing should the default setting, It's what my Dad taught me to do, it's what I teach my kids to do. But, being a dishonourable scrote is the way to make easy money, you can see why it's on the rise.

A case in point was the news story I heard on the radio on the way to work this morning. It seems a group of 'men' are wandering around the homes of the aged and infirm in the West Midlands claiming to be council appointed rat-catchers who need to check your house for.. erm.. well.. rats. They gain entry, open their toolboxes, which contain previously killed rats (in a 'here's one I hit with a hammer earlier' stylee) and declare that you've got an infestation. Then they charge you for getting rid of it.

They charged one little old lady twenty-four thousand pounds...

I'll say that again so you can ponder the enormity of it...


I mean, there must be some overheads, buying overalls and rat poison and so forth can't be cheap, but... That's obscene - Seemingly this has been going on for a while, but the 'going rate' for disposing of completely fictional, non-existant rats was about £400-£500 up until recently, and no-one particularly minded.

How much front does it actually take a pensioner's life savings? Would you have the brass neck to stand there whilst she thanks you for doing it?

No? Excellent! Well done - You are a well evolved human being and can commence telling people how brilliant you are - Go ahead, turn to the person next to you and tell them just how gecko-bleachingly wonderful you are.

But what if you answered yes? Well, I mean you wouldn't - No-one who reads this Blog could do that to another human being.

Could they?

You're all brilliant and kind and honourable. You do what's right because it's right, not for the reward, not because it's what people expect of you, but because it's what you expect of yourself, it's what makes you a valued member of society.

But you know... In the roleplay, it was only, like, £20... And I could do with a bit of a 'buffer' where the old petrol budget is concerned.

I mean, if I'd just found it lying in the street and there was nobody about, I wouldn't think twice would I?

Is there any difference? Should I really take it to the Police?

I probably should...

But I probably won't...

And I'd say that most of the rest of you wouldn't either...

Damn! We're all scrotes!

You know that person that you turned to a couple of minutes ago and told that you were great? - See what they think of you now...

I, personally, am very disappointed in us all.

Monday, 18 March 2013

So here I am once more...

I was feeling very musical this morning, which is odd, because I didn't actually listen to any music, or even stick a CD on in the car on my way to work. I did sing the Sheepy Magna song in my head, as I drove through Sheepy Magna though. It had different words this time, and I think it might be in danger of becoming a free-form sound poem, rather than your actual song. (Still sang it in a Scottish Accent though, if that helps)

I did spend some time thinking about live gigs that I've been to and bands that I've enjoyed in the past. Long time readers may have read my recollections of Monsters of Rock in 1981, where bands such as Slade, Blue Oyster Cult and AC/DC rocked out on a rainy August day and impaled themselves onto my sometimes untrustworthy memory.

Today I'd like to fast forward to 1985 (That's twenty-eight years ago kids... Before some of you were born), when I had just turned seventeen and I was full of hormones and cider, and covered in long hair (well, my head was at least) - It was also the first 'Donington' (Not, you notice 'Monsters of Rock - It had been rebranded at 'Rockin the Castle' and was advertised as a ZZ Top gig with support) I'd been to with a real live girlfriend with her own long hair and breasts and spray-on jeans, rather than a selection of skinny boys with chests like xylophones, wearing innapropriate studded wristbands and huge white Hightop baseball boots that made them look like poundshop astronauts.

I (well, I should really say 'we' I suppose, but this Blog's about my recollections,and the time we spent together didn't end particularly amicably, so from now on I'm going to say 'I', OK?) arrived on site by bus, because that is without doubt, THE most Rock-n-Roll way to arrive at any Gig, Festival, Cattle Auction or Outbreak of Infectious Disease (All of which could be used to describe Donington) that there is.

Once I'd staked out a decent spot a few hundred yards from the stage, and complained about the heat a few times, Donington stalwart and professional bottle of urine avoider, DJ Tommy Vance came on to whip the crowd up into a state of mild annoyance. Now, a lot of people have had a go at Tommy (or Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston as his Mother called him for some UnGodly reason), and broadcast, via the medium of chanting, far and wide of his imagined pleasure in solitary sexual pursuits. I remember personally commenting that there was no way that someone as old as him could know about what the 'Kids' wanted to listen to... I now appreciate that I am as old now as he was then - And I am a little embarrased. But he did more to promote Rock and Metal music than pretty much any DJ or presenter at the time, I was an avid listener of his 'Friday Rock Show' on Radio 1, as was everyone I knew at the time, and he was really, very good at dodging bottles of urine and chunks of mud that were propelled at him all the time he was on stage. Rest in Peace Tommy, you W*nk*r!

OK, so... To the music. Magnum were first on - I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't their greatest fan, they always struck me as the kind of band whose name you'd see scribbled in ballpoint pen across the back of some spotty thirteen years old's denim jacket. But I have a vague memory of them not being all that bad, although the openers always had a reputation for just being there to soak up the first barage of plastic bottles, more than for their musical value.

Then there was a bit of a break, where I finished all the alchohol I'd brought with me, until Ratt came on. I've never being a fan of Hairspray rock, and I'm sad to say that I completely ignored their set and wandered around the ground trying to buy a t-shirt that didn't have the ZZ-Top Eliminator or a hand, clutching a dagger, coming out of a toilet on it (I failed) and getting a burger (I succeeded)

I got back just in time to see this bunch of hairy, denim-clad, long haired, Californian dudes who nobody had heard of, they were OK, a bit thrashy for me at the time - I quite liked one of their tracks though, it was called 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' - They were, of course, Metallica, with a twenty-two year old Clifford Lee Burton on bass (Who was to die in a terrible tour-bus crash the following year). They're another band that I wish I'd payed more attention to at the time, as Metallica get through Bass players like Spinal Tap get through Drummers.

Next up were Bon Jovi, who also weren't particularly famous at the time. Remembering that this was (just) before Slippery When Wet was released, so the only songs I recognised were In and Out of Love and Runaway, and they were dressed like refugees from a Tom Baker era Doctor Who episode. Oddly, they headlined Monsters of Rock two years later, and played one of the greatest sets I'd ever seen there.

The sun was, whilst not exactly setting, but certainly heading for the trees when Marillion took to the stage. This band was the whole reason that I'd attended that year. I loved them, I bought all of their singles, albums, 12" EPs and would play their stuff constantly on whatever recording device was closest to hand. I knew every word to every version of every song that they ever released. They were the first band I ever saw that sounded exactly the same live as recorded.

Highlights of their set included Fish (The lead singer) asking the entire crowd of 80,000 people to 'Squash in a bit at the sides' so that he could take a photo for his Mum, as she still didnea believe that he was in a popular (prog) rock band. Fish sitting down and shouting 'Well you bloody sing it then' when the crowd started to sing Script for a Jesters Tear louder than he was, and the roar that went up, followed of course by a barrage of plastic bottles, when ZZ-Top's Eliminator car was flown over the crowd, slung under a Marlborough Cigarettes branded helicopter.

The headliners, of course, as has been mentioned on various occasions, were Texan Blues-Rockers, ZZ Top. Billy, Dusty and Frank were still riding high on the wave of their 1983 Quadruple (at the time) platinum album 'Eliminator', hence the flying car stunt. Their set was OK, I mean I liked their music and everything, but they just stood there and played... No pyro, no stunts, no nothing. Not what a seasoned Donington crowd were used to, or had come to expect. But they finished with 'Tush' my favourite song of theirs, so they redeemed themselves a little.

We all oooo-ed and Aaaaah-ed at the fireworks for a while and then found our way back to our respective car-parks... None of us aware that we had missed the best part of the entire gig, something we could have told our Grandchildren...

Secreted somewhere backstage was a fifteen year old Suzy Perry (off of the Gadget Show and F1 Coverage and stuff), and if you're a man, and the words, 'Suzy Perry' and 'Backstage' don't get your juices flowing, then you're already dead... (Note I said nothing about the whole fifteen years old thing... Not in the current climate... Hoooo no!)

Rock on my loyal followers!

Friday, 15 March 2013

But I don't even got a Belfry or nuttin'

Those of you who have access to my Facebook will have seen this little fellah's picture before :

Aren't bats brilliant? Really? They're, like, my third favourite animal after Rhinos and Pangolins. The only true flying mammal, there's none of this glidey-aboutey, jumpey from tree-to-tree nonesense. It's all about the real, hairy, flapping about using tiny muscles and wings made of skin and stuff!

Brilliant... Especially their feet... Lookit his feet!

There are two main kinds of bats in the world, there's the big fruit-eating beasties like the one in the toe-curlingly cute picture above, known scientifically as MegaBats, who weigh about the same as a bag and a half of sugar and can have a wingspan of just under six feet! And there's the ones that you see flapping about in Scooby-Doo cartoons and churchyards and the Public Park after dark (What? is it just me that sometimes wakes up in a paddling pool, illuminated only by the waxing moon and a small campfire mostly comprising empty crisp packets and some dry bread that the ducks wouldn't eat) - Actually, thinking about it, I can't really talk about that, what with the impending court case and everything. But it's these that we're going to chat about.

They fly around, from dusk onwards, filling their spiky little faces with insects and squeaking at really high frequencies and if you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't realise just how many of the little monsters there are flying just above your head.

Our local park had an organised bat walk a couple of years ago, and I took the MiniDandy out to see what it was all about, it was an OK-ish kind of way to spend a summer's evening, full of people wearing bush-gear and wearing wooly knee-socks over their trousers (even though we were on a gravel canal path and the nearest bracken was a good half-mile away) and for the first hour or so we saw a grand total of no bats whatsoever.

Suddenly ! (Actually, I'm sexing this up a bit... The word 'Suddenly!' might be gilding the lily a bit, but I don't know any other way to say it that's less boring than 'Then') the group leader's bat-detector started to make rythmic clicking noises and he said,

'That's a Noctule Bat, making his way up the river, going into town to feed'

We all looked around and saw a sky full nothing.

'OH!' he gasped, his bat detector making a series of high pitched buzzes, 'That's a couple of Pipistrelles having a disagreement over a flying beetle!'

He was really getting into his stride now.

'Can you hear how the tone changes pitch, it gets higher?' He paused and waited for us all to nod sagely as if we had any idea what he was talking about, 'That means he's closing in on his prey!'

Luckily it was a warm night, the occasional star was out, the MiniDandy was in her element, the novelty of being out on the park at dusk was enough for her and she was no-where near as... well... not exactly bored, maybe just glad that it wasn't costing us anything... as I was. Then we went around a bend in the path and the detectors that were spread throughout the group (including the one that the MiniDandy was holding) all went mental.

We looked up and the sky was full of bats, caught in the last waning crespuscular rays of the setting sun, they were wheeling and diving and zipping through gaps that were obviously way too small for them. There were hundreds, if not thousands of the skinny-winged wee buggers (in the true sense of the word, in that they eat bugs) - It would be so easy to turn the 'Gay Description' knob (LOL, I said knob!) all the way up to eleven, and start going on about 'seamless aerial ballets' and 'breathtaking displays of aerodynamic pulchritude'... But I like girls and beer, so I'll just say that it was bloody impressive.

We stood there for about half an hour until the cloud of bats dissipated, it seems that the feeding frenzy was their breakfast, and they slowly spread out all over the park to suck up insects (around 3,000 each) until the temperature dropped. We carried on down the path, catching sight of the occasional Noctule and Soprano Pipistrelle, towards the lake.

'This is where the Dauby's live,' Said our Guide, 'There's a colony of a few hundred living on the island in the middle of the lake.'

I made a joke about them being lucky to have an island, as we had to make do with a paper bag floating in a septic tank, we'd have to go to work down t'mill for fourteen hours a day, week in, week out and when we got home, our Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt...

You know that feeling you get when you wish you'd just said something in your head? - Well, I felt a little like that as our very worthy guide gave me a bit of a hard stare. I resolved to be educated silently after that.

He told us about how Daubenton's Bats pick insects off the water with their tails and flip them into their mouths (or something, in truth I was still embarrased about the whole Monty Python thing, so I wasn't really listening - but it was something like that, maybe they use a spatula, I'm not an expert) and how they often come out during the day if they get hungry. It was all very fascinating.

Eventually the evening drew to a close, we'd had a little flying display from the Dauby's and apart from another hard stare from the guide when I gave the detector back, it was a night well spent. We even bought MiniDandy her own bat-detector, which we've used a couple of times (Once as a hammer, and another time we propped a door open with it)... Good times.

I would suggest going on a batwalk to anyone who enjoys being genuinely impressed by the wonders of nature (Ooop.. better watch that knob again, take it back down to 2.7) One thing though, you might not be as lucky as us, you might only see a squirrel being taken roughly from behind by a badger, although that's still nature, in a way, and I guess it'd be a good story to tell the chaps at the pub over a medium sherry.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Why you little!...

Right then, today's topic is swearing...

Who here can honestly say that they don't feel better after a good old fashioned profanity session. I don't mean saying 'Cock' under your breath when you accidentally tread on a slug. I mean the lengthy stream of invective that you yell when you, for instance, hit yourself in the shin with a lump hammer.

The type of thing that when you've finished yelling, you're breathing heavily and looking at the floor, your blood's pumping, your ears are ringing, and the Jehova's Witnesses that have wandered into your front room because the door was open have spontaneously combusted and turned into a small pile of ash on top of a very nice and shiny briefcase.

I like to start with the word 'You' and then try to, where possible, alternate between swearing and totally unrelated words, so it would go something like:

'You **** sucking, **** strangling, **** wiper... I will **** your **** juggling, **** eater of a **** guzzling, **** faced, **** Mother... After that, I will **** all over her **** flinging, **** and **** around your, **** kneading **** of a **** house that you only got in the ****ing first place because you are a **** who can **** the **** from a **** goat who **** the **** of the **** down the **** road, who **** his own **** of a sister!'

OK, that might be a bit strong... I'd save that for shouting at a book that had just given me a papercut or something... You should hear what I said to the dog after he knocked a mug of tea over me!

(This actually happened a couple of days ago, whilst I was watching 'Paul' on Sky Movies - causing me to have to watch the rest of the film naked and sticky - I tweeted @simonpegg and told him, but he was as strangely uninterested as you'd expect a big, Hollywood star to be... Maybe I should have tried @nickjfrost he seems a lot more down to Earth)

Actually, have you seen Paul? great film, lots of very creative swearing in there, mostly from Ruth Buggs (Played by the lovely Kristen Wiig - Did you know she was in Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs, playinga character called 'Pudgy Beaver Mom' - There's something I never thought that I'd find myself typing in the daytime), Google it beeyatches - I ain't filthying up my Blogs with any innapropriate language an' shizzle just to get more page hits.

Although... Thinking about it... That might just work...

Anyway, sweariness... It really bugs me when people say "You only swear because you have a weak, limited, vocabulary!" So I usually either reply with something like... Oh, I don't know... '
Vos habent faciem et odorem mortuus porcus' or, more likely, I'll poke them in the eye and run off giggling whilst flipping them the bird with both hands. Although, oddly, I agree with them, at least about the people who are all:

'F'ing that, F'ing this, F'ing everything'

That shows no creativity, no sparkle, no wit, no grasp of the beauty of a well constructed feacal epithet... Or as they used to say when I was a lad, 'It's not big, and it's not clever.' But it can be a wonderful way of dealing with stress if you do it properly. It can create shock and awe, it can establish you as one of those people who 'tells it like it is!'

But do it wrong, even once, to the wrong person or in an inappropriate place, like Church or during a boring PowerPoint presentation at a customer's office, and you'll be marked as an insufferable cock for the rest of your natural life, and will be shunned by the nice people that you were trying to impress with your knowledge of 8th Century Anglo-Saxon cursing.

On the other hand, If you're very good at it, you can make a name for yourself, and get a huge following on Twitter. People love being sweared at on Twitter, as all of the followers of people like @MissProfanity and her friends will attest to (N.B. Please do not follow Miss Profanity, or Sweary Mary as she is sometimes called, if you are under 18, easily offended, or in fact, if you've been offended by anything ever, especially if you don't like the liberal use of the 'C' word and being told to 'go forth and multiply'.) I personally think She's bloody funny - Although I am only 13 years old on the inside.

So, go and bring sweariness to the world, my little **** faced *** swiggers!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

To sleep perchance?

I was thinking about dreams this morning on the way to work, pondering the fact that I can't remember having dreamed for a long time. I appreciate that you often can't remember what your previous night's dreams had been about, but I actually can't remember having any at all recently.

Weird... Maybe I'm overtired, or I'm so good at working out my problems during the day that my brain doesn't need to thrash them out overnight using a tiger with Noel Edmond's face or a three eyed haddock called Raymond who can play the spoons... Pity really... It'd give me some easy bones to throw to you guys.

When I do dream, it tends to be fairly sedentary stuff, real world situations, no flying or turning into an ocelot or a trifle or what-have-you. Just me doing stuff that I would do if I had the time/money/social skills. The only major oddity I can think of is that I've never dreamed about a motorcycle, but I've had many dreams that feature me riding a motorcycle.

That's due a little explanation I suppose, I dream about the act of riding, but as far as I can remember, there's never been a bike. I sort of just float there, in the starfish position, with my hands on non-existant ape-hangers and my feet on completely ficticious forward controls. In fact, I remember having one dream where I tried to ride the (non) bike on several occasions and fell on my ass every time - It transpired that it had been stolen, but I hadn't realised - I actually went to a shop (in the dream) to buy another one, I remember wheeling it (and when I say it, I mean nothing) out of the showroom.

The only other real odd thing that happens to me, and I guess most other sentient life-forms in the Omniverse, is the prophetic or deja-vu dream. It's only snippets that I get, like I'll be dreaming about walking down the road, turning a corner and almost tripping over someone walking an amusing looking dog, and then a couple of weeks later, I'll be walking down the street, turn a corner and there's the dog, with the little wellies and a PVC sou'wester and the 'Please Gods kill me with a length of pipe' expression on its face, whilst the owner carries on about her business not realising what permanent emotional damage she's doing to the poor canine. Never had the lottery numbers though - not so far.

Now, scientists try to tell you that deja-vu is caused by impulses from the eyes being accidentally routed to the memory centres of your brain before being re-routed to the cognitive centres, so you see something, and think that you remember seing it before and then do that double-take, puzzled look, point your finger whilst thinking 'Hang on a second', thing that they do in low-rent comedies that have a laughter track and say 'You have been watching' at the end.

I don't believe that for a second, I think that during sleepy-time, your brain is occasionally hit by a stray Tachyon (a theoretical particle that travels faster than light) and the minute explosion of
Cherenkov radiation that's caused by it impacting a live electron in your brain causes you to remember things that haven't happened yet.

Plausible, I think you'll agree.

I also found out recently that according to current theories, all of the people that you see in your dreams are real - I mean, not real, they're dreams obviously, if they were real, physical people and you dreamed about a crowd, then your head wouldn't be big enough to hold them all and it'd like, go POP! or something and there'd be cerebrum all up the bedroom walls when you woke up.

Actually, thinking about it, your head wouldn't be big enough to hold even one physical person would it? Especially if they were wearing a big hat. Aaaaand, you probably wouldn't wake up either. Well, you might, but you might not like celery any more, or be able to smell purple and hear tartan.

But what they actually mean by that is that you haven't made any of these people up in your imagination, you've seen them all somewhere - On the bus or in a shop, you might have pointed at them in a police lineup or said 'Sorry' to them when you bumped into them whlst filming an amusing personal injury compensation lawyer advertisement.

Your brain stores their details for future reference, or for inclusion in dreams, or if they're particularly stereotypical, for thinking about when you're telling a joke that involves a little light racism.

People often dream about people they know, sometimes in unusualy situations. Sometimes it's wish fulfilment, but sometimes you'll dream about things that would make Freud do some interprative street-dance movements in his final resting place in Golders Green (OK, so he was cremated, but you know what I mean).

For instance, a friend of mine (who reads this Blog, whilst walking her dog - which doesn't as far as I know, wear wellies and a sou'wester) once had a dream about me. I know she won't mind me sharing it with you, as she posted it to her Facebook feed herself, and she requested that I write The Further Adventures of the crew of the Edward Teach (Running to FOUR episodes!) - Which I subsequently did, because she was ill in hospital (for all of you who wondered why it was called 'Les Invalides'), so she owes me one.

I'll have to paraphrase what she wrote, as I can't find it on her timeline, but the gist of it was:

"I had a dream last night about an old friend of mine, called Dandy, some of you might know him. Anyway, I was the age I am now, and he was my Dad. I had done something wrong, I don't know what, but he took me to the park for my usual punishment.

This involved him kicking footballs at my head as hard as he could until I learned my lesson, I remember that he was a very good shot."

So, on that dreamscape I'll leave you.

Remeber, dreams aren't real, they're fantasy, you shouldn't be embarrased about them, and you certainly shouldn't make decisions based on their contents.

Till tomorrow... Sweet Dreams Children...

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

If you create too much friction, the skin comes off

A long time ago, all the way back in 1996, I worked for a childrens' clothing supplier based in Nuneaton. As normal, I won't mention the name, but their logo was an apple and their stores were decorated like nurseries with pretend laminate flooring with hopscotch... erm... boards? courts? What do you call the thing you draw on the floor when you play hopscotch?

Anywho, their Head Office was decorated in the same way and it was a wonderful, jolly place, where it was a joy to work... Honestly, I really enjoyed my time there, it wasn't like having a real job at all.

There are many stories about this particular period that might be of interest to you guys, and some of them are directly below.


The HQ was quite a large building, with offices at the front, and a huge warehouse at the back, where thousands of different types of childrens clothes were stored in racks going about thirty feet up into the air. The guys who drove the forklifts would have a pick-list of daily stock that the stores needed and would wander around picking bits and bobs from here and there. The trucks that they used were very strange, in that they didn't have forks, the cab where the driver sat went up and down to reach the shelves. I'm sure there's a proper name for them.

One day, a couple of us were in the computer room, which was on a mezzanine floor, overlooking the warehouse, when we heard that noise that an AT-AT makes when it trips over a snowspeeder tow cable followed by a really loud bang.

What had happened was that one of the drivers, whose truck was fully extended as he was getting something off the top shelf, had noticed that his next pick was on the top shelf of the next set of racks. He didn't bother to drop the cab back down, as the safety instructions suggested, and had driven his truck down to the end of the row, done a u-turn to go up the next one, clipped another truck and toppled over, taking a set of racks with it. We stood there and watched as the racking fell in slow motion into the next row of racks, all of the boxes sliding off it and falling to the floor. It was like a snowdrift of baby-grows and inappropriately adult looking childrens clothes.

I commented to the warehouse manager a couple of weeks after the event.

'I know you have posters all over the place saying that you shouldn't move the trucks with the cabs extended, don't you tell them that when they start?'

'Yes, we do,' He replied, 'Unfortunately it seems that during the interview process, we don't check to see that they're clever enough to be able to eat with a fork, or able to read'


The IT department was quite large, but it was also pretty relaxed. It was one of those places where the Boss genuinely meant it when he said 'As long as the work gets done, and I don't get any complaints, then you do what you like.'

So we took him at his word, and often decamped to the beer garden of the local pub of a summers afternoon and stayed there until we got a call, or until it was time to go home. Winters days were handled in roughly the same way, except that we'd be in the bar rather than the garden. Until that is, someone bought in a hooky copy of a PC 3D shooter game called 'Descent'. The entire department was instantly hooked. It was loaded onto pretty much all of the computers in the office and eight of us at a time would take turns blowing each other up with little blocky spaceships. It started as a lunchtime timewaster, and mutated into an afternoon timewaster, then an evening timewaster... Games would often start at five in the evening and end at nine o'clock at night. Except at Christmas, when they would last all day.

We didn't let it influence our professionalism of course, not once did we ignore the phone when one of us was on a kill-streak, neither did we get the Big boss' PA to call whoever was winning at that time and ask them IT questions until we managed to pass his score. We were professionals, and we always put our customers first. As I explain below.


I had a call once, from one of the buyers, she was quite pretty and as I was 'between relationships' at the time, I'd been cultivating a relationship with her that was on the cusp of becoming... Not completely professional.

'Hi Dandy, I have an IT emergency, I need your help right now!'

'OK, what seems to be the problem.'

'I think it's my clitoris, it's not working.'

I took a deep breath, waved at my work partner, whom we all called The Shadow, who had been following my heavy-handed attempts to progress my relationship with this particular customer and put her on speakerphone, 'You say you're having problems with your clitoris?'

'Yes, I'm pushing it from side to side but nothing seems to be happening!'

'OK... Erm... Have you tried... Erm... moving it up and down?'

'No, that makes my finger feel funny, I only ever go side to side.'

'I think I need to take a look,' The Shadow gave me a thumbs up, pointed to himself - implying that he would like to attend this call too, 'where are you?'

'I'm in the front office, downstairs.'

'We'll be down in a second.'

'Both of you?'

'Yeah, if that's OK?'

'Of course, the more the merrier!'

We looked at each other, stories from Mayfair's Readers Confessions running through both our heads, slicked our hair back (This is when I still had hair) and nonchalently ran down the stairs. We paused to catch our breath before we entered the office, expecting to find her alone, in a state of undress. posed languidly on the desk.

What we actually found was a full office, with the young lady in question waving at us from the middle of it.

'Helloooo! Over here!'

We dejectedly made our way over to her, took up positions behind her shoulders and I said, 'You're having a problem with your..'

'Clitoris, yes, look...' She proceded to open her laptop and start to violently tug at the little red pointing device in the middle of the keyboard. 'See, it doesn't work.'

'You call that a clitoris?'

'Yes, why, isn't that the proper name?'

'Well, it gets called a lot of things, I've known people call it a joystick, or a nubbin, even a nipple, but never a... a...'

'A Clitoris?'

'No, I've never heard anyone call it that before, but I vow, that from now on, that's the only thing I will ever call it'

And true to my word, that is what I have called it from that very day. It makes for some interesting conversations with IBM engineers, but I have become something of an expert. So, if any of you ever need any help with yours, even if it's just to get the dust and gunk from around the edges, give me a call, I have a special tool reserved for just that purpose.