Friday, 31 May 2013

Completely my idea

Writing - Is my latest hobby (Not for the past few days I hear you shout... You've forgotten all about your faithful daily readers haven't you, you horrible, horrible, man).

Yeah, sorry about that, I got a bit caught up in the old paying work thing... Won't let it happen again... Actually, thinking about it, I probably will, all things considered - Lot of meetings coming up in the next few weeks.  The Blog might go all sporadic, I apologise in advance, and arrears too probably, but I'll do that later.

Anyway, writing, or at least popular writing, was once described (by me) as a collection of ideas you've stolen from various better writers, changed just enough so that they can't sue you, and glued together in a slightly different order.

I mean, the chances of any one person having a completely original idea - Something you can't say 'Isn't that a bit like...' or 'Doesn't that remind you of that bit in...' is like, a bajillion to one.  I don't mean it doesn't happen, but it certainly doesn't happen very often.  I freely admit, and have stated publicly, on the Blog, that I sometimes steal ideas from successful authors and pass them off as my own.

Yes, this makes me a bad person, but I'm also good looking and funny, so you're probably going to let me off eventually.

It's difficult not to really - The book I'm writing, the agglomeration and expansion of my previously Blogged Edward Teach stories (See, I even stole that name!) is just a rehash of old tropes.  I mean, just look:

  • Airships - Jules Verne et al.
  • Ion weapons - The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Powered Armour - Robert Heinlein's Starship Toopers. (The book and cartoon, not the films)
  • Sentient Robots going a bit nuts - The Terminator series.
  • Fantasy Feudality: Anything featuring Elric by Michael Moorcock.
  • Young girl mentored by unsuitable older man - And, actually, vast swathes of the story itself: Charles Portis' True Grit.

And, as late night Rock 'n' Roll CD complilation adverts might say, 'And the list goes on'.  Have I not actually got an original thought in my head?  Well, plainly not - Apart from the eccentric 'let's all rub aardvark fat all over ourselves, dress up like herring and go to the zoo and annoy the sealions.' kinda stuff, but you couldn't do a whole book like that though - If I did, people would only say I was stealing from the stylistic musings of the acknowledged king of anapestic tetrameter, Theo Geisel.

But it's not just me, you look closely enough at any film, or book or what-have-you and you'll see themes that you've experienced elsewhere.  Admittedly, the further you go back, the more difficult it is to find them, but they're there.  Even the religious texts of the ancient religions nicked ideas from existing, more ancient, texts - S'true, do some research, it'll save you going out in this awful sunshine thing that everyone keeps raving on about.

We can trace the plagiarism back even further, Remember our old friend Urk? One of his ancestors once probably visited a cave belonging to one of his friends and saw a story painted on the wall that said 'Went to woods, fought a Arctodus Simus, kicked it's ass, went home, made a nice necklace'.  When he goes home he grabs the finger-paints and immediately draws on the wall 'Went up into the mountains, fought an entire family of Arctodus Simus, kicked their multiple asses, went home, made two necklaces and an attractive pair of bearskin flip-flops'.

Totally copied the story, but made it better - As long as he never invites that friend to his house, then Bob's your heavily brow-ridged Mother's Brother.

So, I guess I'm fairly safe, it seems that the few artists that I've blatantly nicked ideas off are either dead or in their 70's and I can run faster than both of those types of people, just about.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Right in the Ghoulies

Well, Friday was a busy day wasn't it Children?

I wrote a Blog that was a bit divisive, about a sensitive subject, from my personal viewpoint.  It went straight in at No. 2 in the most popular Blogs ever by The Chimping Dandy (Completely failing to knock the whole shattering pigeon story off the number 1 slot of course - Glad to see you guys have got your priorities straight) and helped to power May 2013 to the second most monthly pageviews ever - Only got 208 views to go to take it rocketing to the top though - there's always hope... You know what to do.

Anyway, back to normal now - Let's be a bit more inclusive, I'm going to talk about a subject that can't possibly divide people.  no-one takes it seriously - there aren't huge groups of sometimes slightly unstable types going to gatherings of like minded people, no banners, no secret handshakes, no wandering around disused buildings in the dead of night hoping to make contact with shadowy individuals. No massive amounts of senseless death.


Actually there's all of those things.

I'm talking about the paranormal and the investigation thereof.

Longtime readers will know, and dippers (What I've now decided to call people who just read odd posts every once in a while, on the toilet perhaps) might have spotted, that whenever I mention my Mother, I qualify it by saying whether she was dead or alive at the time of the particular story.

And for the few people left in the Blogoshpere who don't know why, HERE's the story of my Daughter meeting my Mother for the first time, despite the fact that she'd been dead for a number of years.

So, it would be safe to say that I believe that some spark of consciousness can continue to exist after death. I mean, it makes a certain amount of sense (to me at least) what with the whole thing about what makes us, us, being a collection of electrical impulses trapped in the 3lb of mush that we keeps stored between our ears. Maybe with the right atmospheric conditions, those impulses can get transferred into the ether - I don't know, obviously, I'm pulling this out of my butt... But it's not impossible... So little is nowadays isn't it - what with the advent of the microwave and nanotechnology and suchlike.

This also explains the traditional 'Country House' type  ghosts, those ones that are forever cursed to follow the same route they did the night they died, moaning and clanking chains and looking for their lost babies and generally making a nuisance of themselves.  Their 'spark' is released into the ether, but gets trapped by the fabric of the building - Maybe there's a certain mixture of crystals or ores in the stones that record the spark and replay it in the manner of a cheap Taiwanese VCR.

This in turn fits in well with those, oh so popular in the 1970's, ghostly legions of Roman Legionaires that wander through country pubs and what-have-you, but have the audacity to be cut off at the torso by the floor - So it looks like they're wading through the concrete.  Then the owner of the building finds out that the floor's been raised by two feet and the Legionaries are marching at the level of the old floor.

So far, so spooky, but ultimately believable - As long as you have a stretchy imagination.

In fairness, I'm not wholly convinced about the whole 'Don't realise that they're dead' type things - But I suppose, thinking about it, it's not that huge a jump.  Maybe this 'Etheric copying' (Copyright Chimping Dandy 2013) isn't foolproof, and occasionally too much, or too little of the 'spark' gets transferred - You could use that to justify the angry spirit / poltergeist thaing too I suppose.  If there's supposed to be enough of you left to hold an understandable conversation with a small child, imagine the frustration if you still 'exist' somehow, but you can't communicate with anyone - Then imagine that there's enough of you left to realise that you're going to be like that for eternity.  Doesn't bear thinking about does it?


Then we've got those people who investigate the Rum & Uncanny for fun and profit.

There used to be a group of paranormal hunter types just down the road from me, they based their shenanigens from a semi with a high walled garden and had a website that had a few pictures of them in various dark rooms (And slightly more photos of them at various social events) - But they never actually displayed anything of a really ghostly nature, despite all of their night-vision cameras and EMF scanners, allegedly they ran a good ghost tour - Which I think was very brave of them as they had to compete in the same market with the wonderful Mr Richard Felix (Of whos Father's record stall in Derby Market Hall, I am proud to say I was a regular customer - in the 80's at least - Mainly because I fancied a girl on the Fruit & Veg stall opposite, but that's another story.) and his Haunted Derby / Derby Gaol tomfoolery.

You can't think about Richard Felix, without thinking about one time most popular woman on Television, Yvette Fielding... Who is great. And, with Husband Karl, has brought Paranormal Investigation to the masses.

Who hasn't seen Most Haunted?  Really?  That many of you?  Blimey! Go Google it or something, buy a box-set of the DVDs - Maybe Series 6 - Part 2, That features my local haunted house (Elvaston Castle)

If you ever watched Living, or Sky Living or whatever it's called this week you will have seen Most Haunted, at one time it was the only decent show on the entire channel and myself and Mrs Dandy were addicts.  It had it all, night-vision, history, believers, skeptics, stone throwing, table tapping, Ouija boards, orbs, and my most favourite thing ever in the world, is the consistent, regular as clockwork, reaction of Yvette's cousin Stuart to anything that could be misconstrued as even slightly paranormal.  Things such as plumbing noises, wind, spiders, darkness and on occasion, his own digestive system, would regularly sent him into a panic that started with a stream of expletives, continued via frenzied running through darkened corridors, and usually seemed to end with him banging his head off something and having to be rushed to hospital.

Sounds like I'm taking the p*ss?

Well, I'm not - I genuinely enjoyed it - It's one of the few shows that I would completely suspend my disbelief for.  If they produced a Stuart Torevell Teddy-Bear, I would seriously consider buying one.  Especially if it had a pull-cord that made it scream and spout fruity Anglo-Saxon invective, and you could buy a head bandage for it.

And that's before we even start getting into the antics (if you'll pardon the pun) of Mr Derek Acorah.  Seriously, he's too easy a target even for me, but if you get bored, and want to see his greatest work, go to YouTube and search for 'Derek Acorah Mary'

Mad as a Badger... Brilliant!

I include a photograph of 'The Brown Lady' of Raynham Hall - Not only because it's one of the UK's most famous ghosts, but it makes my link have a cool 'ghostey' image when I post it to FaceBook - Hey, kids, I'm nothing if not honest... And mercenary!

Friday, 24 May 2013

One more rusty nail

There's a lot of talk about racism at the moment isn't there?

With the terrible scenes at Woolwich Barracks, I suppose it was a bit of a forgone conclusion.  It really doesn't take long for the bug-eyed mentalists on both sides of the argument to start rattling sabres and throwing tomatoes at each other.  But once either side achieves critical mass, you'd better just stand back and let them get on with it, because it becomes a self sustaining reaction.

Let's get my position fortified first before I start receiving the hate-mail.  I don't believe for a second that what happened to Drummer Lee Rigby was an organised terrorist attack, sponsored by al Qaida, al-Muhajiroun or any other 'real' terrorist/extremist organisation.

It's my personal opinion that the two chaps involved are just f*cking mental - One slightly more than the other.  And were one day sat in their lounge, throwing chips into the air and catching them in their mouths, when one gets the great idea that they could get famous by killing a squaddie.

'But why would we do that?' Asks Less Mental.

'To be famous!' Replies More Mental.

'We'll never get away with it.' Opines Less Mental.

'We'll pretend we're terrorists, the police are really hands-off with terrorists.' Says More Mental.

'But don't you have to be an Islamic type person?' Quips Less Mental, threatening to blow the whole operation.

'Your point?' Asks More Mental.

'Well, We're from Romford. And we went to your Mum's for Christmas dinner last year.  So I kind of assumed that we were Christian.' Explains Less Mental.

'Ah, got that covered, you're right, I was Christian, but I converted to Islam about ten years ago - After I bought that Cat Stevens album off of Amazon.  In fact, from now on, I want you to call me Mujaahid.'

'Mujahadeen? Isn't that those Afghan blokes, out in the desert, with the flat caps?'

'Look, stop d*cking about, let's get on with it.'

'We'll never get away with it... We'll get shot or something.'

'Nah, it'll be fine, once we say that we're Islamist terrorists, they'll all be so busy lynching Asian people that they'll forget all about two geezers from Romford, whose parents are from Nigeria.  Remember though, we'll have to completely incapacitate the soldier so that there's no chance of it being a fair fight.'

'You're really counting on a knee-jerk reaction by the whole of the British public to mask our escape?  I didn't realise you were THAT mental, they're not THAT stupid... Are they?'

S'funny though, I've not seen much backlash against Nigerians (Although I guess they were both born in the UK - Maybe we should all march on Romford with torches and pitchforks) but plenty against Muslims in general.  weird that innit?

It's like they're our go-to bad-guy...

It's snowing on the Bank-Holiday? - Blame Islam

The corner shop's run out of Old Holborne - Blame Islam

Two airliners fly into American skyscrapers - Blame the FBI/CIA

Or something.


Now the serious bit... For those of you who say that I'm making fun of the situation.  I'm not, really - The people that I'm taking the p*ss out of are the mentalist, swivel eyed. 'If you hate Britain so much then go home.' brigade.  Thing is, for most of these people, this is their home - They've never been to Nigeria or wherever their parents or even their parents' parents were from.

I'm really very sorry for the loss of Drummer Rigby, my thoughts are with his family and friends.  It's a tragic thing that never should have happened.

But don't blame Islam

Don't blame the Police

Don't blame the Government

Blame two mental guys from Romford - They're who did it, no-one else.

They're the people who killed the soldier - Whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They're the people who widowed a woman and orphaned a child.

They're the people who raped an otherwise peaceful religious text to publicise themselves and increase their infamy.


No-one else...

At all...

Not this time...

Thursday, 23 May 2013

And then it just slipped through my fingers

OK, a bit of a rarity now, I'm intentionally writing a serious Blog, with serious themes.  I'll probably work in the occasional humourous leitmotif.  But, as they say on the Discovery Channel - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Please note - As ever, these are my personal thoughts and opinions, your experiences and mileage may vary. if you have been touched by the theme of today's Blog and want to talk about it, please send an email to the usual address.

Today's theme is loss...

Every person who has ever lived has experienced loss, to a greater or lesser extent.  It's as much  a part of life as breathing or not being able to get to the remote in time to turn over when a Party Political Broadcast comes on.

There are as many different types of loss as there are scales on a pangolin.  They vary in seriousness and duration. For instance, there's what I like to call Temporary Trivial loss, characterised by the following phrases;

  • 'Have you seen my keys?'
  • 'Have you used all the shampoo you little scrote?'
  • 'Where the hell is my wallet?'

These are annoying, and frequent.  But eventually, you'll remember that you still had your keys in your hand when you made a cup of tea when you got home, so you check the fridge and there they are.  You can always buy more shampoo, even if it's the Happy Shopper stuff from the corner shop. You realise that you're looking in the right jacket, but you never bothered to check the pocket that you never, traditionally, put your wallet in.  You're sad, or annoyed, but only for a small time.

Next one up would probably be Permanent Trivial loss, where you would say things like;

  • 'Aw! I've dropped my phone down the toilet, and lost all the pictures that were on it!'
  • 'What do you mean you've lost it? My Mum gave me that!'
  • 'Do you think we left it when we moved last year?'

Thankfully, these happen less frequently. The actual stuff that gets lost on those occasions isn't usually what you actually feel bad about.  It's the memories that are associated with them. It's a weird one too, because you've not lost those memories, only the trigger that reminds you, but you've imbued those things with some of the 'spirit' of the person that they make you think of, it's like they actually contain your memories.

Our next set is the first of the serious losses, specifically Serious Physical loss. By physical loss, I mean the loss of a 'thing'. Something you can hold or lean against, or would hurt if you dropped it on your foot.  These are pretty much all characterised by thing other people say to you;

  • 'I'm sorry sir, but the bank will be forclosing on your mortgage and you have 28 days to leave what is now our house.'
  • 'We've found your car, and it's been burned out... As you freely admitted that you left it unlocked, them I'm afraid it's not covered by the insurance.'
  • 'It's all been stolen, everything I've worked for over the past fifty years!'

This is where the pain starts.  I don't know how many of you have been evicted, but it's not a pleasant experience.  It's not just the losing of a house, it's the loss of self respect, the feeling that you can't provide for your family properly.  It's a real blow and it can change your outlook permanently if you let it.

Then we get to Serious Personal loss, where you lose a part of yourself rather than something external. This covers anything from having a limb blown off by a roadside IED to coming home early and finding your wife in bed with the Iceland delivery man.  You can lose a hand, a leg, or your faith in other people.  I won't bother giving examples of things you might hear as these things are happening to you as they're usually screams and expletives.

After that I suppose is the one loss that everyone really dreads, Death... Big one this is, I don't mean your own death, although, don't get me wrong, most people aren't actively looking forward to that - But you, yourself, are not really effected by it, everyone else is.  I mean the deaths of one of your nearest and dearest.  We all experience this at one time or another.  The death of a parent, or a friend, or a family member, or that particularly terrible one, the death of a child.  All truly terrible experiences.

I lost my Mother some time ago, and at the time, because we weren't hugely close, it took a really long time to hit me, but it did eventually, and quite hard. (Until she showed up again some time later)  Then, over ten years ago, we lost a baby (before it was born) which is a very odd feeling, it's kind of a potential loss, you lose something that you never really had.  Although I must admit that my experience wasn't improved by being asked why I was upset, it didn't happen to me after all did it? It happened to my wife... And whilst I feely admit to not thinking about it every day, I do still wonder what could have been on a fairly regular basis.

Funny phrase that isn't it - Potential Loss?  I suppose you could use it to describe losing something you've never technically had, as above - Or possibly losing something in the future.  The muse behind today's Blog was unwittingly suggested by one of my many virtual friends.  In the age of the Information Superhighway, I'm sure that we all know people who we've never actual spoken to, or possibly never even met in the flesh, Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook and Instagram pull the populace together into a single digital mass like no other system in the known history of spacetime.

This young lady is no exception, I've received Tweets from her and vice-versa, we've laughed at each other's jokes and read each other's Blogs, in another time and should we be closer geographically, I'm sure that we'd all be popping to each other's houses to borrow sugar and suggest a dual-family picnic in the woods (I'll bring the Pimms) every other weekend.

But she's recently had some bad news, and she Blogged about it - So I'm fairly sure she won't mind me mentioning it to you lot, in fact, why don't you go and have a quick read now?


Good... Bring a tear to your eye?... Yeah, me too...

But what emotionally effected me the most wasn't the bad news itself, but in the way that the young lady in question has decided to take a deep breath and just deal with it.  If only we could all be so pragmatic.  I can guarantee that that child's going to know nothing but love from their parents and siblings alike - And in the grand scheme of things, you couldn't really wish for anything better.

So, please don't think that this Blog is all doom and gloom.  I said at the start that it's about loss, and I suppose that it might be, but the really important thing about any loss... Trivial, serious, temporary, permanent, personal, physical or even potential.  Is how you let it effect you.  You can crumble, you can bury your head in the sand, you can rail against the injustices of the world and blame everyone from the Iceland Delivery man to any particular God of your choice.  I've done all of the above at varying times in my life (Except the Delivery Driver one... I blamed someone who worked for the Software Studio that brought us Tomb Raider once, but that's another story) and do you know the commond denominator?

Not a single one of them did me any good.

The only thing that I've ever found that helps is to join our heroine above in taking a deep breath and just dealing with it.

Doesn't mean that's what I always do, but that's what always works in the end.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

He, quite literally, went 'berserk'

For the first part of this story, please feel free to read 'What a waste of good pork'

They lay, panting, against the rocks.  Behind them, all that was left of the Magus' tower was the huge rock that it had originally sat on, a few fluttering pieces of paper and the smoke from the still smouldering pigs.

'der var tæt...' Breathed Rasmus.

'Close? I'd say it was a damn site worse than close!' Exclaimed Mal, they all looked at each other and laughed.

They had only got down as far as the second floor when they were forced to jump by the accelerating magical disintegration of the blocks that made up the tower.

'Thank the Gods we were jumping onto sand.'

'Jeg ville foretrække at springe i vandet.' replied Ewald.

'Yes, jumping into water would have been even better, but there's not a lot of that around here, in case you hadn't noticed.' They all looked around, to see the unending, shifting sand in every direction, 'although, whilst we're on the subject, we'd better start heading back to the boat. Alfrun will think that we've been having a holiday.'

His new wife, Alfrun Krakensdottir, had been the head of the Kraken clan since her Father had been killed.  She was known for her beauty and her fairness, but not neccesarily for her patience.  She didn't agree that he needed to continue his Bounty-hunting, instead believing that he should be at home, defending the clan and making babies.

He recovered his leather armour and pulled the compass from his pack, pointed at the southern horizon and started to trudge towards the horizon.

It took them two days to reach the coast, as they climbed the dunes towards the landing, The Hunter held up his fist, the group stopped and knelt silently in the sand.  He sniffed the air and listened.

'Can you hear that?'

'Jeg kan ikke høre noget...'

'Exactly, a longship full of norsemen, sat on a beach, waiting for us, with enough heather ale to drown an ox.  Shouldn't we be able to hear the screams?'

'ja du har ret...'

'I know I'm right, that's why we're still alive.' He slowly craned his neck and looked over to top of the dune, down towards the ship, 'Bertrum has a green shield and a handaxe, right?'


'But he doesn't have black hair does he?'

'på, rød.'

'Then that's not Bertrum.'

They all lay along the ridge of the dune and one by one identified that none of the people stood next to the longship were actually their men.  They were wearing their clothes, but that's where the similarity ended.

'hvad skal vi gøre?'

'I tell you what we'll do...' He thought, and then thought again, and try as he might, he couldn't think of a way that they could get around twenty enemy soldiers, take the ship and get it into deep water before losing a kidney or an eyeball to an accurate arrow.  And then it hit him.

'Algot, Runar tells me that your mother entertains rabid badgers in her bed, is that true?'

Both Norsemen turned to him incedulously, 'Hvad?'

'Yes, and Ewald, Jarne says that both he and Razmus have enjoyed the charms of your sister, both together and seperately, many times, and she enjoyed it too most of the time.'

Ewald launched himself at his kinsmen, screaming, 'Du har vanæret min søster, jeg vil afskære dine testikler!'

The scream, obviously, attracted the attention of the men guarding their ship, and within seconds they were charging up the other side of the dune, all pretence at stealth thrown to the winds.

'Look, they're coming!' Yelled Mal, as he pressed the button that extended the blade of Lyssvaerd.  Immediately the berserking Norsemen saw their enemy howling towards them and forgot their ficticious petty differences and descended to meet them.

The clash as the two sides met could be heard all the way to Svalbard, or so it seemed.  Instantly the Norse warriors started to hack blindly at their foe, arms were lost to axes, hammers were dodged and Lyssvaerd flew through gaps between armour and shield with clinical precision.  In minutes they were knee-deep in gore and the berserker rage had hold of them all.

They had fought their way down the dune and across the beach, Jarne had sustained a wound to his forearm that would need attention before the day was out and Runar was bleeding from a deep cut above his eye.  Other than that they were completely unscathed. The few defenders that were left guarding the ship were easily dispatched. Algot even managed to pin one to the bow through his neck, luckily above the waterline.

As they clamboured onto the deck of the ship, the smell hit them.  It wasn't the remains of the crew, it seemed that they'd been dumped into the sea, Then they saw it, in the bilges of the boat was an oily scum, it was moving against the rolling of the sea and slowly gathering towards the bow.  As the heap grew, it took on the features of a slouched human with a pointed head and long, grasping fingers, at least eight feet high and getting taller all the time.

'hvad i al helveder er det?' gasped Razmus.

'I don't know,' Replied Mal, 'But let's see how easily it dies!'

They screamed out a battle-cry and charged towards the giant, teeth bared and weapons ready.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Just to prove that I do actually, write a Blog

OK, some of you will know that I'm currently in the process of writing a book.

It's an extension of the Edward Teach stories that I occasionally regale you with - But don't let that put you off.

I've found that it's a scary old thing, writing a book... Along with the standard 'Can I actually write a book?' and 'Will I get bored and give up and hate myself until I drink myself to death in an old bathtub on that bit of waste ground down by the gasworks?' questions that you constantly beat yourself up with, you release a second level of torture on yourself, and that goes 'But what if I can't get an agent?' and 'What if I get an agent, but no-one likes it?'

You can literally (See what I did there?) worry yourself into a premature Bisto.  It's best to just shout 'Buggrit' and let the literature flow when it will (Now do you get what I did?).

It might be rubbish, it might be twaddle, it might be the sort of high-camp space opera that would have EE 'Doc' Smith running for the air-raid shelter with a cuttlefish in both ears - But I still think we should all have a go, including myself.

So, in my constant endeavours to improve the quality of service I give to you people (my adoring readership) I decided to join a real Writers Group.

Now, before we go any further, I'd just like to assure any members of the Group that may happen to be reading this, I am not going to make the group itself, or the members that I have so far met, the subject of a full Blog post... I don't 'Do' current affairs - I'm going to wait until I can give a more in-depth view once I've been to a few more meetings.

So, why did I mention it if I wasn't going to Blog about it?

Good question... Good, good, question.  As part of my introduction to the group I said,

'Hello, I'm the Dandy and I write a daily humour Blog'

And then realised that I hadn't written a Blog today, and that struck me as rude.  So, as I'm a bit strapped for ideas (Don't judge me I've written some Flash Fiction today AND I'm going to be chunking away at the book in a sec), I thought I'd fling together a quick Top 10 Most popular Blog posts ever, as voted for by you guys, list.



Dropping three places, at Number 10 is - Waiting for God-Oh! - A fictitious treatment of a drunken, Kebab-shop conversation between two Gods about the initial construction of the Duck Billed Platypus - Caution, one of your number actually tweeted The Pope about this post (No, really, someone did... They asked for my immediate excommunication).

Straight in at Number 9 is - This is why I'm smiling, how about you? - This is quite an earnest post about making small changes in your life that have large consequences, your own, personal Butterfly Effect. (Not that bloody awful Ashton Kutcher thing - The Edward Lorenz thing)

Another new entry at Number 8 is a DogBlog - It was like the Somme, only with more protein - Four (IIRC) stories of how one of my lovable pets managed to sequester food from various sources, without the prior knowledge of it's previous owners, and all the hilarity that ensues.

Our previous Number 6, drops a place to Number 7 - An eye for an eye - Describes, in haunting detail about how my Mother (Before she died) tried to turn me into a gibbering wreck via the medium of the false eye... It is a wonder that I'm so well adjusted.

The Current Number 6 (or, more correctly, Equal Number 5) - Second contact closing fast, bearing 076 - Is a story of inclement weather, explosively defecating truck drivers, and the possible closure of the M40

Our other Equal Number 5 - A discussion of pornography, do not read - Is just that, a diatribe that explores the difference between erotica, pornography, page 3 girls, firemen and dusty old harridans.

The highest new entry, straight in at Number 4 is - Then I posed, and he took my picture - Where I 'accidentally' have a photoset published in a German Gay-porn / fetish magazine... Yes, you heard me right...

At Number 3 - Boobs, Melons and Jumper-Lumps - Tales of my Hi-Jinks in Asda, including the internationally acclaimed 'Running down the aisle throwing a watermelon to myself' story.

The penultimate plethora of poorly phrased pulchritude is - Barnably Wilde (Pt. 1) - My first collection of my slapstick motorcycling memories.  A collection of reasons why I should never be allowed to ride a motorcycle, or be allowed out on my own, ever.

You all know what's at Number 1 right? It's been stuck there since the beginning of February and it's lead is fairly unassailable - Thermodynamics, it's the law! - The story of my Father and the descent of a young secretary into permanent mental distress, and a bird - Don't forget the bird.

Normal service should be resumed tomorrow... Yeah, everything should be back to normal by then... I should think... Probably

Monday, 20 May 2013

He met me once y’know?

OK, back to everything being all about me.

Celebrity's a funny old thing isn't it?  You see someone on the TV or in a newspaper (For everyone under the age of 16, a Newspaper is something a bit like someone else's Facebook, but with the security settings that your Mum would use, and printed out) And they immediately become, oh... I don't know... Something 'more' than us normos.

(Actually, let me qualify... I'm not talking about A-List Hollywood Stars - They're a whole different species - Of which I have no first hand knowledge... Well, there was that time with Cheryl Tiegs in 1975, but I'm still under a gagging order on that one.)

You wander through London for instance and suddenly you're all 'Isn't that that fellah what played that bloke in that thing?' and then immediately walk into a lamp-post when you crane your neck to make sure it's actually them.

It doesn't matter if these people are complete buttocks, Blackguards of the highest order or proved to be kiddie fiddlers many years later.  At the time, these people exist on a higher plane - They're famous, and by noticing them, we can be briefly famous by association.  You can tell your friends that you saw that bloke, from that TV thing.  Then you become slightly famous yourself, so your friend who can say 'I've got a friend who bumped into that bloke what played Hitler in that thing, with the flying saucers, that was on BBC3.'

I guess, for those of you who live in the 21st. Century, it's the same as having something ReTweeted or Favourited by someone famous - It's not the same as someone replying to one of your tweets of course, that's actually like having intimate, possibly carnal knowledge of them (Did I mention Nick Knowles once replied to one of my tweets? - Great bloke, face like a badly looked after leather bag, but nonetheless, great bloke.)

Thing is, when you actually meet on of these people at an event, or in an enclosed public space and they're not 'on the clock' - The chances are, you're going to be disappointed.  Your disappointment, if you're lucky, will be because they're normal human beings.  You know, eat food when they're hungry, sit down to have a poop, that sort of thing.

If you're unlucky, it's because they believe their own hype and have started the long, hard slog up their own sphychters.

One such gentleman has interacted with the Dandy Clan on a couple of occasions.  Firstly with my dearly departed Mother, and then some time later with myself - One of Ironopolis' finest (Which doesn't bode particularly well for anyone else from Middlesbrough, but there you go.)

One Mr. Brian Howard Clough OBE


In the early 70's, my Mother was a bit of an 'organiser'.  She used to do a lot of work for the local schools and was always around where there was a cake stall to be managed or a coconut shy to attract customers to.  And on this particular occasion, they had enlisted the assistance of a local celebrity to open a school fete.

Yes, you guessed it, the quiet, understated, ex Hartlepool, Derby, Brighton, Leeds and Notts manager himself.

All went well, he did his five minutes and earned his... However much he charged for a personal appearance .. And then had a wander around the field, commenting on the shoddy amateurish nature of the stalls and how we could be making a lot more money if we employed cheap foreign labour.

Then, seemingly, my Mum started noticing kids wandering about with tears streaming down their faces -

When she finally managed to find one that could string a cogent sentence together without dissolving into inconsolable tears, she realised a confrontation was in order.

That Nice Mr Clough was sat with a line of shiney faced kids in front of him who were all waving scrappy bits of paper at him,  one by one they would get to the head of the line, walk sheepishly up to him and then start crying and run away.

She walked to the front of the line just in time to hear Le Clough say '£1 for an autograph Kid, take it or leave it.'

Now, forty years ago £1 was a decent amount of money, especially for a seven year old kid - It was probably all the money they had to spend for the whole fete.

Mother asked him what he thought he was doing, extorting money from children.  He asked her if she knew who he was and even if she didn't, could she go and get him a decent mug of tea.

Seemingly his language when she dragged him off his stool by the scruff of his neck was a joy for the sensitive ears of his young audience.  It didn't get any sweeter as she dragged him, bent almost double, to the main entrance - Pushed him through and aimed a kick that Billy Bremner would have been proud of at his retreating rear end.  And finally it faded to silence as he walked down the road to his car.


Loyal readers may remember the summer I spent building a bowling alley and chicken coup at my local pub.

One day, I was sat at the bar, on my usual stool, enjoying payment for my day's labours.  A pint of mild and a plate of tinned salmon & salad cream sandwiches.  The landlord came in and asked if I wanted another beer.  Of course, I answered in the positive, and he said that there was some stuff in the car-park paddock that needed moving into the garage.

Now, this paddock was the daytime home of Napoleon, the homicidal goose.  He and I enjoyed a somewhat laconic friendship, he left me alone and I didn't run around waving my arms in the air and squealing like a girl whilst he chased me.  But he sometimes had this look... As if he was judging your entire life, past and present, and found it wanting.

I went out of the front door, past these two guys sat on one of the benches, and walked towards the paddock.  As I got there, Napoleon started to hiss and flap his wings.  This got louder until he realised it was me, and he quietened down and went and sat in his water bowl, because he was a bit thick.

'Don't let that bloody goose out will you lad?' One of the Northern chaps shouted, as the other laughed nervously.

I looked and realised exactly who it was... The above story about my Mother immediately came to mind.  I collected the bits that needed taking to the garages, exited the paddock and left the gate open just enough so that it looked like it was still closed, but could be easily opened by a goose with a solid forehead and an attitude problem.

I waited inside the garage until, what the landlord later described as 'The bloody uproar' started.  there was frenzied honking, yells, expletives and all manner of shooing noises.

Giving myself a few minutes to regain my composure, I walked back into the carpark to see a Sociopathic goose, neck and wings stretched to their zenith, and two professional football types who looked as if they were about to play that game where you chase each other around a table.

Mr Clough shouted, with rather more panic in his voice than you'd expect from such a scary gentleman 'Lad! Put your goose away!'

To which I replied, 'Sorry mate, not my goose...' and walked back into the pub to claim my free pint.

The landlord pulled my pint and asked me what was going on outside, I said that it was just some pillock winding Napoleon up - Until they finally managed to get past him and make a break for their car and he saw them running across the carpark.

'Isn't that... Cloughie?' he said, somewhat incredulously.

'Yeah, think so... Does that mean the other one's Peter Taylor?' I asked, knowing full well that it was...

Which is funny - Because I didn't think they were supposed to be talking in 1986...

Friday, 17 May 2013

We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity

How cool would it be if you could travel back in time?

I don't mean massive, wholesale, time tourism with all the 'Treading on an ant in 4,600,462 BC wipes out the entire human race and replaces them with intelligent custard' scenarios that have been the staple of science fiction stories since 1895.

But your own, personal thing... Maybe a complicated chalk drawing that you can scribble on your basement floor, or a ring you can twist. or a pie you can eat.  But something that flings you, and whatever goods and chattels are about your person, backwards in time with stunning alacrity.

What would you do?

OK, we'll get the easy stuff out of the way first... Hands up all those people who said 'Kill Hitler when he was a child' or Pol-Pot or Bin-Laden or any one of the countless despots that have blighted our glistening little world over the past few thousand years.

Would you? would you really?  What would be the repercussions of those actions?  I agree that all those people committed terrible acts in the name of religion, or nationalism, or their own self-delusion.  But if you think of the bigger picture (and I'm not trying to be flippant) The taking up of arms against these people added something to the general good. made the world a better place.  Did it make it better than it would have been if they hadn't existed? I don't know, but I guess you could test that if you could travel in time - If it turned out worse, you could go back and stop yourself doing it...

Although that gets messy after a while with causality loops and Grandfather paradoxes being flung all over the place.

Would you ring in a bomb threat and get them to clear the World Trade Center on September 11th? - You'd save 2,606 people, presuming that they took you seriously of course - I understand that terrorists have to give a secret code word to let the security services know that it's real nowadays... Wonder who they apply to to get that?


You can imagine the phone call...

*Phone Rings* 'Hello CIA Headquarters'

'Hello, I am a terrorist, I wish to get hold of a validated I am about to commit an act of terrorism in your Sovereign Territory password please'

'Yes sir, please wait whilst I transfer you to the No I don't know why we don't just trace the call and have you shot in the head password delivery department'

*Greensleeves is played on the Stylophone*

'Hello, Giving passwords to terrorists to prove that they're real terrorists department'

'Yes, hello, I would like a password please.'

'No problem sir, Will this be for a bombing, a chemical attack or mass abduction and subsequent torture and murder of innocent children?'

'Do I have to decide now?'

'No, sir of course not, that would go against your human rights. Can I take your name?'

'Errr.. No.'

'Not a problem, address?'


'Fine, I will need the name of the organisation that you represent.'

'I'm an independent.'

'Ah... I'm afraid this line is only for members of one of the accepted terrorist groups, al-Qaeda, Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, Taliban or perhaps the Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the United Mujahideen Forces of the Caucasus for instance?'

'Ah, the last one... Yes, them.. Definitely!'

'You don't seem very sure...'

'No, my cell is definitely aligned with them, I distinctly remember, there was a memo last Thursday.'

'Well, if you say so.... The next password on the list for the SMMuSUMFC is... Erm... Courgette.'


'Yes, just ring the number you first called, before the event, give us the codeword and any details that you think we might need.'

'How much before should I call?'

'Oh, there's no hard and fast rule - Whatever you think's fair.'

'Right, thanks, bye!'

'OK, good luck!' *click*


Hoo... Digressed a bit there didn't I? - Anyway, where were we - Oh yeah... You'd just saved all those people, very good, well done, pats on the back all round.

But where do you stop?

Do you go back and try to stop them launching the Titanic and save another 1,500 lives?

Would you clear out the school at Aberfan before the 40,000 cubic meters of slurried spoil heap buried all 116 children (and 28) adults alive on the morning before half-term?

Would you steer the Exxon Valdez away from the reef and save hundreds of thousands of assorted animals?

Would you cultivate a blight-resistant strain of potato and take them to 18th Century Ireland - Another million or so saved there?

Would you go back to Dumfries in 1831 and vaccinate everyone against cholera?

Would you knit all the dinosaurs anti-asteroid crash-helmets?

Would you true believers out there stop them crucifying Iesu Christi?

Would you read the evening paper and go back and save every child that had been knocked over by a car that day?

You'd drive yourself mad, trying to right every injustice in the world - And it wouldn't make a difference... OK, it would make a difference to the people you've saved as Loren Eiseley might argue, especially if they had something of the starfish about them.

I think the world needs some injustice, without it right thinking people would have nothing to rise up against.

I think the world needs some pain, pain teaches you lessons about how to be more careful.

Could you live in a world where nothing bad ever happened?  Where would be the challenge? What would you strive for? How would you grow?

Although saying that, I don't know why I'm bothering, most of us would just go back to buy a lottery ticket with the right numbers on, win £25 million then go back 319 years to 1694, deposit it in the fledgling Bank of England and then jump straight back and collect their £204,430,510,542,395.34 (Approximately, without taking inflation into account) balance.

Or as I like to call it, completely destroying the global banking system.

We're not ready for time-travel - Not ready for all the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimeyness of it.  We'd tinker and tamper and pull away at loose bits of the very fabric of space-time until the whole thing unraveled into a big pile of super-strings on the floor of the void and you'd be sat there on your own with just an old car wheel, a supermarket trolley and a gently smoking hat to prove that the multiverse ever existed at all.

That's why I've decided to re-bury this device I found in the garden so I'm not tempted to meddle again...

I tried some stuff that didn't work, see most of the items above in fact.  But I did a lot more that did - You wouldn't believe what originally happened in Virginia on October 28th 1943... But I stopped it, you should all be very grateful.  I will quite happily accept donations about that. It would have been catastrophic...

You're welcome.

Hang on... I've got an idea... Maybe one last time... See you all soon...

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Я очень популярны в России

Firstly, another apology... Three days without a Blog!

What was I thinking?

Well, Monday and Tuesday I wholeheartedly blame on my day-job.  Lots of documentation that needed doing, lots of research, lots of boring stuff that pays the bills.

Yesterday I spent lolling in my pit until I felt strong enough to drag myself to the sofa and watch the final episode of 'American Horror Story: Asylum' (That I Sky+'d about 15 years ago) and had a bit of a cry when I realised that Mrs Dandy had deleted all the old episodes of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' that I was saving for those days when I feel like an eight year old...

(No, not like that... You maggots!)

Anywho, a mixture of various painkillers, glucose drinks and sheer bloodymindedness has seen me drag my weary old frame the fifty miles to work, on my hands and knees, so that I can waffle to you ungrateful lot about the square-root of bugger all whilst someone pays me to do something completely different. (Although, in fairness, I did send a couple of mails from my deathbed yesterday - So I class that as working from home - Guilt assuaged)

Secondly, the title of this post could probably do with some explaining.  recently, I've been getting rather more than usual hits from search engines, and not from my regular 'Things you can type into Google where the Blog is the first Hit' Twitter posts -

Today's is 'Nude Pangolin is House of Lords IT guru' by the way, just so as you know.

No, these hits are from the Russian language search engine (as I think I might have mentioned when it originally started happening).  The three search terms that they are using are 'The Doors Lock', 'The Internet Saying' and 'I Sit Here on the Verge' - These have stormed to the top of the Most popular searches ever with around 60 instances between them.

I would love to know what they're actually searching for, as I've tried doing it myself and just get a random selection of unconnected page results... Maybe someone cleverer than me can let me know - Or if you're a Russian person, whose English is better than my Russian - Which wouldn't be difficult as I'm pretty much lost after Spasibo (спасибо) - Please leave a comment as to what you're actually looking for, I'd be really appreciative.

Not... That... Appreciative. Sheesh dude, you literally have one track minds... I wouldn't even know how to do half the things you're thinking about!

If this Blog was written in real-time... There'd be a huge gap just there ^ as I've been away from my desk for the past hour 'Doing the post'

I work for a large, multinational (hairdressing) company... Who still does their post manually. five people from various sections of the office come together every fortnight, in a spirit of co-operation and harmony and take post out of pigeonholes, stuff it into a brown envelopes, stick a label on it and send it for franking...

Which is exactly why I got into IT...

Stuffing hairdressers payslips into envelopes...

You ever get the feeling that your life isn't going in completely the right direction?

Friday, 10 May 2013

This is not the worst thing you've caught me doing

CosPlay they call it, dressing up as a favourite character from a film, or TV Show, or cartoon.

It's like playing dress-up, but for adults (Using the term incredibly loosely) or for the kids of incredibly cool parents.

It's very popular at 'Cons' - Conventions where comics or sci-fi fans get together and get their collective geeks on.  Sounds perfectly horrid and a little sad to your more vanilla types doesn't it? And in fairness, a lot of it is - There are only so many 25 Stone plus men dressed in a Lycra Captain America costume that even a broadminded man like myself can stand.  And I don't know how many of you are actually Sci-Fi fans, but you're a better person than I am if you can name a single female hero or villain, that you would want to dress up as (should you be blessed with mammary glands and 'innie' reproductive organs) - that is more than a size 10-12 (UK Size) - But that doesn't stop ladies twice that size dressing up as them.

Now, before I'm torn to shreds by a frenzy of vicious estrogen-toting feminists, I'm all for empowerment, and I'm sure that every single one of these wonderful ladies has an amazing personality, is inwardly beautiful - In fairness, a lot of them are outwardly beautiful too - Skinny-bony women do nothing for me personally - But if you're going to dress up as a well known character, male or female... You'd be more believable if you were of roughly the same body-type... Just sayin... But who am I to judge, right? As long as we're all having fun and no-one (especially me) gets hurt.

OK, it's time that you all went and did a Google image search for CosPlay... Be sure to open it in another tab though, wouldn't want you getting lost.

Yeah, I know, Boobs... Especially if you pep it up a level by Googling 'CosPlay Morrigan'

But in amongst the fluff, and the hardcore Japanese Manga/Anime stuff that most of you have probably never heard of, there are some amazing works of art.   Really, these guys must spend months, or possibly even years designing and building these costumes so that they can go to an exhibition centre somewhere and have their photos taken by people who live in their parents basements.

I have an amazing amount of respect for these people, they are true artists .. I can only assume that the best of them go on to work for companies providing costumes for big-budget movies and use these 'Cons' as advertising media for their chosen (or potential) career.

Then we have the people like you and me, the people who sit looking at the pictures going 'Whoa!' and 'Wow!' and hurling superlatives about with gay abandon.  And then you think 'I wouldn't mind having a go at that'.  Now, as my good friend Kanye may have said once - 'I'm really proud of you for wanting to do that, and I'm gonna let you finish' but... Most of us really shouldn't bother.

And if you want to know why, just do a Google Image search for 'CosPlay Fails'

See, just exactly the same number of Boobs, but mostly on men.

That's what most of us would look like, I know it's what I would look like.  It leaves you with few choices.  The first, and most sensible, is to just not bother - Really, just go to the convention as yourself.  You won't have as many pictures taken of you, but in most cases that's a good thing, believe me - I know from personal experience that the camera is not always your friend.

Your second option, and it's a good option if you really, really, want to be part of the scene is:

Body Armour.

I know a couple of people who dress up as Imperial Stormtroopers an awful lot of the time, they do an awful  lot of work for charity and raise an awful lot of money, there's even a group that you can join if that's your bag, called the 501st Legion (Named for the group of Stormtroopers directly commanded by Darth Vader)

Beware though, these guys take it really seriously and will vet your costume before they allow you to join... they can be really sniffy about your armour being made up of bits from different films and everything. But still, you can play dress up and help the helpless all at the same time.  Stormtrooper armour, to an extent, can cover a multitude of sins, you can squeeze into it if you are more generously proportioned (to an extent - I mean, Jabba the Hutt might be a better bet for some of us) or you can bulk it up if you are 'A little short for a Stormtrooper'

But my favourite, the coolest of the cool, the bestest, most desirous (to me at least) Body Armoured CosPlay subject of them all... is... The one and only... Superhero's Superhero...

Iron Man

OK, first thing, forget the fancy-dress costumes.  They mostly look like onesies painted red and gold by a blind marmoset.  Instead, take a look at the fan-made, fibreglass and foam, LED studded, motorised faceplate, slabs of awesomness that you can find.

I mean... Wow! Right?

There are some talented modellers out there (all of whom that I hate - because they are so gorram talented and they have Iron Man suits) Really, really talented... Sigh!

So, I have made a decision, I am going to make myself a suit, It may take me years, I may get halfway through and give up, and it will get put in the loft and then I'll find it years later and I'll pick up the helmet and the light will catch the edge so that it looks like it's crying and then I'll carry on and I'll finish it in time for my Grandson's 6th Birthday... *breathe*... And I will be awesome!

Yes... I... Will... Be... Awesome...

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Not a concrete jungle...

Precocious, there's a word...

It means: Having developed certain abilities or proclivities at an earlier age than usual.

Or, as you or I would probably describe it... A smartarse, with proclivities - Which I guess is like a pervy smartarse, probably.

And that single sentence brings us nicely around to my youth, according to my Dear Old Mother (Whilst she was still alive) I had precocious leanings and would often spout and do things that only children can get away with.

There are a couple of stories, well more incidents really, that she used to tell, about the early 70's when I was but a mere bairn of three or four years.  They may have been embellished over time as these things often are.


There was this one time, and we were on a bus on the way to the shops. We were probably going to buy me a nice new pair of short trousers, as was the style at the time.  At one of the many stops, a nun got onto the bus.  Now, I had never seen a real, live, nun - Not even in stories, we weren't that kind of family.  I tugged on my Mother's sleeve and said,


Now, of course my Mother had seen the nun get on and knew that I would probably have something to say, but she just quietly replied,

'In a minute.'

Now this confused me, because it seemed that the only thing that she was actually busy doing was staring hard out of the window at something, so I tugged harder and repeated louder,


'In. A. Minute.'

I think that she figured she could string this out until the nun disembarked.  Unlucky...

'Mum! There's a...'

'I know!'

This was said through gritted teeth, using the tone of voice usually reserved for times when I had said, or was about to say, something I shouldn't.  So I guess I must have taken a second to review what I was about to say, decided that there was nothing wrong with it and blurted out:

'But Mum! a penguin just got on the Bus!'

Everyone within earshot thought it was extremely funny, even the Benedictine lady herself, who had presumably heard it all before.

However, we still got off at the next stop, and walked the rest of the way into town.


Another day, it wasn't the same day, ((c) Elwood Blues 1980) but it was still the early 70's. We all, as a family, went for a day-trip to the  Bellevue Zoo in Manchester (Now a housing estate I think) and had a fine old time with the animals and suchlike.

I probably need to explain that I had a reputation for wandering off and as such was required to hold my parent's hands when we in public.  I had been holding both parents hands at this particular time, so when I let go of them both at the same time, they just assumed that I was still holding onto the other one.

Zoos are great places for young kids, they don't see the cold look of desperation in all the animals eyes, or the bare patches of skin where the animal has started yanking out it's own fur as one of the first signs of a nervous disorder.

*PLEASE NOTE: Most modern Zoos are brilliant, they do great work for animal conservation and are the only way 99% of the kids that visit them will ever get to see even a small proportion of the animals that they have... But this was the 70's and Zoos in general, and Bellevue in particular at the time were little more than sideshows*

So I wandered around this wonderland for a while until I came upon what was, and still is, one of my favourite animals, A Black Rhino... Whose name happened to be Barry.  I stood gazing at him for some time and he moved forward, right up to the bars.

About this time, my parents had realised that I was lost and were frantically looking for me, a very worried looking keeper came up to them and said, in a quivery voice'

'Have you lost a little boy? about four years old?'

My parents nodded and he led them to the rhino enclosure, by which time things had 'escalated'

Onlookers would later explain how I ducked under the fence, went up to Barry and started stroking his nose.  A crowd gathered which seemed to either worry or anger my new leathery friend and he moved to back away from the bars.  So, not wanting him to go, I had raised both of my hands and clasped them around his horn.

My parents arrived to see me clasping a worried looking rhino's horn, on tiptoes.  My Mother's first instinct was to run over and grab me, but the keeper advised her that if the rhino was startled, he would throw his head back and some of me might go through the bars in the manner of a comedy potato through a tennis racket.

It took a good few minutes to coax me away from my hanging spot on Barry's hairy Horn with promises of ice-cream and crisps.  But the moment that I let go and the assembled crowd cheered, Barry threw his head back (as the keeper had predicted) and retreated to the back of his enclosure.

They bought some reins after that... For me that is... Not for Barry.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

It was like the Somme, only with more protein

Another short one for you today.

Partly because I've noticed that the average length of my Blogs is increasing, but mostly because it took me over two hours to get to work today, and I'm probably going to end up being pulled off to do something at some stage - Or at least looking like I am.

Not looking like I'm being pulled off - Not in the office... Good gracious no! How could you possibly think such a thing?


Anyway, I think it might be time for another part of the DogBlog.   You'll remember last time, gentle readers that we were discussing the antics of Saffron, the vegetarian Rottweiler that could attain Warp speed with no external assistance.

A lot of the stories about her feature food, often other peoples' food... Well I say other peoples', I mean it starts off as other peoples' and ends up being hers.

Four dogfood based stories for you today.  Hope you like them.


As has been mentioned before, I used to live quite close to the countryside, which made dog walking very pleasurable   We'd often wander up onto the farmlands, get really muddy and toddle home for a refreshing hose-down in the garden, before wrapping ourselves up in front of the fire, in a tartan car-blanket and drink cocoa until we dropped into a coma.

On this particular Sunday, we had got halfway through the toddling home part of the plan when Saff decided to try an experiment.  She reasoned that if she stopped dead, the check-chain around her neck would loosen and all she would need to do would be to step backwards, and she would be free.  She performed this maneuver successfully and had it away on her paws.  Not into the road, not off down the street like a hairy Starship Enterprise, but through the open front door of one of the houses on our Avenue.

I said something like 'Oh poop! Stop you silly dog, I shall revoke your carrot privileges if you don't stop immediately!'

Then I followed her into the house.

Have you ever walked in, unannounced, on a family, having their high-tea on a Sunday evening? A family that seem to have invited some friends round? A family that had a large selection of sandwiches and salad and other pastries on a coffee table in a kind of smorgasbord for everyone to share? A family whose very fancy repast was being noisily decimated by a muddy rottweiler?


I have... It's suprisingly peaceful - In fact, the only sound, other than that of a dog's jaws snapping open and closed repeatedly was me saying 'I'm sorry... I'm so sorry... Really, I'm really sorry...'

And a small child sobbing in the corner.


Another occasion, myself and a friend of mine (Strangely, this friend is now married to the young lady who dreams of me kicking footballs at her head) were sitting in my back garden on a glorious summers day, enjoying a casual beer or two and some nibbles.  We were sitting on folding garden chairs, you know, those aluminium deckchair things?

Anyway, we were being watched by the dog.  I use the word 'watched' here to describe a huge lump of dog, sat directly in front of the chairs, huge, fat, head some 18" from our plates, slobbering like an incontinent version of Niagara Falls.

My colleague reached down to get his beer and unthinkingly waved his plate an inch too close to her mouth.  The next few things happened almost simultaneously, I will describe them in slow-motion for clarity.

Saff launched herself at the food on the plate, within a femtosecond this was noticed and the plate pulled away and towards Dave's (for that was the gentleman's name) chest.  Unfortunately the food seeking centre of the dogs brain had fully engaged by this stage, and she changed her trajectory mid leap.  Her front paws both landed in Dave's midsection both winding him and pushing him backwards slightly.  As all his weight was now on the back leg of the chair, it folded up - trapping him with his knees up by his shoulder-blades and on the ground. His luncheon hit him in the face, closely followed by a sopping wet rottweiler mouth.

As ever in these situations, as a responsible dog-owner I laughed heartily until I actually wet myself and was unable to breathe.


This photograph, from Facebook, shows the dog we are talking about asking for some ice-cream.

Ahhh! I hear you say.  You know why you say that?  It's because you are not a petrified paperboy.

One day, much like any other day. I was preparing to go out - I can't remember whether I was intending to take the dog with me, but let's say, for the sake of argument that I was.  We were stood in the hallway (The same hallway where we locked her the time she drugged herself) and I opened the front door.

Captain Picard gave the 'Engage' command and she covered the hundred yards between the door and her chosen target in the blink of an eye, without her feet actually touching the ground.  Her target on this occasion was the paperboy, on a BMX bike, with an ice-cream (They should totally include that as one of the options in Cluedo).  Give the kid his due, despite biting his lip and shaking gently, he gave no outward signs of fear and just held his cornet up as high as he could, out of her way.

Which was great, until she, very slowly, reared up on her hind legs, stretched her neck, and bit the top off the ice-cream cone level with his fingers.  I think that it was at that point that he started crying - I did give him a pound to buy a new one though.


And finally, I thought we were all due a 'Greedy Dog gets her come-uppance' style story.

My pigeon-exploding Father, unwitting star of my most popular Blog post ever, had, and in fact still has, a thing about chocolate covered Brazil nuts.  Every Christmas and Birthday, that's the go-to present if we can't think of anything else.  Now, if you don't want to buy the poundshop ones that are covered in the same chocolate they make dog-treats out of, they can be quite expensive.  One Christmas, it was decided that we should try and make our own, so we bought a number of Brazil nuts, along with some very posh chocolate, and made some of our own.  Some... Some... That just filled a Christmas Quality Street tin.

We went out to do some last minute Christmas shopping and came back to find the empty tin on the floor, along with the dog, who was quietly moaning to herself.  The first thought that went through our heads was the old 'But chocolate is poisonous to dogs' thing... No, that's a lie, the first thought was to beat the dog to death with a broom a-la Tom and Jerry.  But we realised that there wasn't a lot we could do and we'd just have to wait and see what happened.

It didn't take long.

She was up and about in an hour or so, and dragged herself into the garden.  The mixture of nut-based roughage and upset stomach combined in a scene from the worst war/horror film ever.

Firstly, the nuts had been completely unchanged by the trip through her digestive system and were coming out whole, at speed, along with some very unpleasant plumbing type 'spattery' noises from one end, and strangled howling from the other.

Secondly, she seemed to think that the pain she was suffering was something to do with her location, so she kept walking around the garden whilst nature was taking its course.  I must admit to laughing when she got too close to the fence and they started richochetting off it.

She never ate chocolate again, in fact she'd actively shy away from it, even dog chocolate.  The next day when I went out in full NBC gear to clear it all up, it'd all disappeared... I'm guessing squirrels - Who knew that they didn't have a sense of smell?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

To me, to you

I am so, so sorry...

I read a couple of my recent Blog posts over the weekend... Aren't they long-winded?

I wander about all over the place (figuratively that is... If I wandered very far, I wouldn't be able to reach the keyboard, and you'd be denied the new, improved, edited me.) don't I?

I'm going to break one of my own unwritten rules here.  I only usually Blog about things what have happened in the dim and distany past, well, at least the previous year, usually.

But I've had a bit of a funny weekend (Good funny, not bad funny) and thought you might like to hear about it.

I've got this mate, the same mate who I was discussing bucket lists with, who does the whole 'Dig for Victory' / Good Life, allotment thing.  And seeing as I live but a hop, skip and a jump away from his house, I occasionally get a phone call (or, more likely, his wife corners Mrs Dandy in a dark alley and threatens her with a haddock until she offers my services.) saying something like:

'Dandy! I've 'found' an unattended greenhouse in someone's garden, it looks a bit disused - I think they're on holiday, bring the van'


'Can carrots be poisonous? We've had a glut, so it's all we've eaten for the past month... And the baby might have gone a bit orange!'

But this particular event started with what was billed as a 'Shed moving party'.  There was to be beer, barbecue and buggering about with garden buildings.  Now, on the day, we arrived a little bit late and missed most of the 'clearing the shed out' phase, which was nice.  I commented on just how much stuff (Well, I may have used the word crap) you could fit in an 8' x 6' shed.  Looking inside however, I realised that there was still a bit of clearance that needed doing, but it was all of the 'Been sitting there for months, on bare soil, covered in snails and spiders' stuff - and his bike - Well, his bike minus the engine, which was in one of his other sheds.  So we ejected the rest of the contents via the medium of chucking them on a big pile whilst going 'Eww-ewww-ewww!' and wiping my slimy / cobwebby hands on my good jeans.

So, we had a strategy meeting, (can of lager) trying to decide the best way to progress the project... There were three of us, and the shed was held down by a mixture of gravity, mud and bloodymindedness - Of course, we decide to just pick it up and move it.

I don't know if you've ever tried to move one of these made of tin plate, bought off the Internet, home assembles with only an allen key and a toffee hammer, garden erections but they're characterised by a few interesting features:

  1. Every single exposed metal edge is razor sharp - So sharp that if you hold your breath whilst you're inside one, you can hear a gentle buzz as oxygen molecules are sliced in half as they waft across them.
  2. There is nothing to hold on to - not a single thing - except the exposed edges (See above)
  3. The metal that it's made of has the tensile strength of a wet dog-fart, I actually put my hand through the wall at one stage (and it wasn't rusty, I just leaned on the wall, and suddenly my hand was outside)
  4. If you try and fashion hand-holds from stout rope, wherever you tie the rope to will fold up like a four-hour, made to measure Taiwanese suit (See above)

I'd like to point out at this moment, the non-combatants - i.e. the women and children, were sat at the other end of the garden offering encouragement, and definitely not jeering... At all... Much.

Our first 'lift' took the shed a total of eighteen inches before it slipped out of our hands... So we had another strategy meeting, and decided that it was Mother Nature's fault that we were failing in our appointed task - In that she had caused an apple tree to grow in the one place where we desperately needed there not to be an apple tree.  Unfortunately we were warned by my good friend's wife that there would be consequences if said tree was to be damaged.

This required thought... So we thought... Then thought some more... And an idea came to us - We decided that if we couldn't pick it up, we should roll it end over end.
So we gave that a go, very, very, briefly - We then spent a few moments bending and pulling at the shed to make it look a little bit more shedlike and a little less like Dorothy's house after the tornado.

Then we had another strategy meeting... Which ended with us deciding to shout 'buggrit' pick the bloody thing up and throw it roughly in the right direction... which we sort of did, quickly followed by further few moments of straightening of walls and roof beams.

Then we spotted that the gap it was going into wasn't big enough for it, because there was one of those Pampas Grass boles in the way - So, we had another strategy meeting and decided that what we needed to do was find the sharpest things we could and hack about at the grass until the shed just 'fit'

This degenerated into a hatchet throwing competition... Which I lost, but the apple tree that has caused us the trouble earlier on won (Won in this case characterised by it remaining standing and relatively unscathed)

We manhandled the shed into the gap mostly by swearing at it, swore at it some more until the walls were all straight and then all looked at each other trying to remember what we'd done with the doors (that we'd taken off in an effort to make it lighter)

This wasn't assisted by the two hour strategy meeting we had to celebrate...

So, if you want anything moving around in your garden, give us a call - Just make sure to get a couple of cases of strategy in, just for emergencies like...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Knock-Knock-Knocking on... Oh, next door? Right, sorry.


There's a subject worth exploring.

I don't mean the nice anthropomorphic Mr Death, one of the little men from the Village, who seemingly hasn't come about the hedge.

I mean The End, the moment your brain no longer produces electrical impulses, the bit in the medical dramas where there's that 'Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' noise and someone with an infeasibly chiseled jaw turns to a nurse who would be badger-velcroingly beautiful if only she's take her hair out of a bun and take off her glasses and says 'I'm calling it!'

So, there you are (because it's your death we're talking about) lying on a slab, peaceful for the first time since you were declared an adult - Enjoying whatever afterlife you've picked for yourself, whether it be all vikings and naked ladies, or wandering about in white robes, rubbing shoulders with the great and the good of the entirety of history.

What happens to the stuff you've left behind?

The meat, the bits that look like you but really aren't you any more.

Recent traditional history has convinced everyone in the English Speaking world that they've got two choices:

You can get buried in a wooden box and eventually become wormfood, helping to fertilise the planet with the (on average) 155lbs of starstuff that we're all made from - As Elton John sing... The Cir-her-hercle of LiIiIiIife.

Or you can get cooked at gas mark 900 (1700 F) for 90 minutes, then tumbled in the Cremulator (TM) for 20 minutes until thou art dust - It's a great way to lose weight though, at the end of the process, you weigh about 5lbs.

But it's a fascinating subject, if you're into the macabre, or you're a Goth - Do a bit of research, you'll be hooked.

If you go back a bit further, you'll find that most cultures have, or in some case still do, practice the Funeral Pyre - Which is sort of like an open air cremation, whether it's on a big pile of wood a'la Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, or or on a boat, as in every viking movie ever.

In other countries, they have their own quaint little foreign ways of making sure they haven't got a dead body stinking up the place for too long (or not).

Your actual Mongolians have a practice called 'Air Sacrifice' which involves them starving a load of feral dogs, taking the corpse out into the wilderness and then giving it the old 'Off you go Fido, fill your boots' (Not that I'm implying that the Mongolians force the dogs to wear boots - they're odd, not cruel)

The Tibetans, revered by thousands of up their own sphynchter students with no experience of the real world as the most wonderfully spiritual race in the whole of the multiverse, do pretty much the same thing, but leave out the dogs... So their funeral practice essentially involves taking the body away from the village, putting it somewhere out of site, and nonchalantly wandering back whistling and saying 'Body? What Body? No idea what you're talking about me old flower.' The Maasai in Africa do the same thing - No-one ever claims that they're all spiritual and what-not do they?

The Haida people of North America / Southern Canada used to throw all the normos, like you and me into a big pit behind the village and let nature take its course.  But if you were a chief, or other important person, they would take your corpse, beat it with clubs until your bones broke sufficiently for you to fit into a small wooden box which would then get nailed to the top of a totem pole so that you could help guard the village along with all your ancestors (By ancestors, I obviously mean rotting shoeboxes of suppurating flesh)

The Vikings were great too... (Hang on, I hear you say, you've done the Vikings havent you? Up there, with the ship and the fire and the Up Helly Aa business?) Well, just think about that for a moment, if you were a traditionally seafaring race, what you wouldn't want to do was go around burning the ships every time someone popped his furry bootees.  So what they actually did was dig a hole in the shape of a boat and fill it with rocks... Not sure why, I mean it wasn't like it was in any immediate danger of floating away or anything, then put you in it with a selection of your goods and chattels - Chattels in this case including your recently gangraped and strangled wife, then they'd cover you over and do a bit of light pillaging in your honour.

The people of Kiribati, one of the Gilbert islands, East of Australia, bury their dead, just like real people do... But then after a while, they dig up the bodies, remove the skull, oil and polish it, and keep it on the shelf in the family huy as a knick-nack, whilst occasionally offering it tobacco and snacks - To date, none of the skulls has ever been reported as having partaken of these offerings.  Someone thought one had once, but it turned out to be the island's only professional ventriloquist, who is now on a shelf, in the chief's hut...

But what if you're not in a country? What if you're between countries?  What if you're on a boat?  Did you know... That any Captain of any ship of any nationality can legally perform a burial at sea. OK, only on dead people, but otherwise they're pretty much all powerful.  So how would they do it? They certainly wouldn't stick you in a coffin and then slide it over the side, you'd probably get sewn into a burlap sack with a load of rocks... As a final test of your continuing deathness, they'd put a stitch through your lip, reasoning that if that doesn't wake you up, nothing will.  I think they actually show this in that Russell Crowe film, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World, shows this in detail... Great film, you should watch it.

As yet, I understand that no-one has tried to carry this type of funeral over to the Trans-Atlantic air routes, for which long-haul pilots are quite rightly upset.

Although they'll happily shoot you into space... Or compact your ashes into a beautiful diamond for, like, £5,000

But what about me? How would I chose to be interred?

What if you could choose anything to happen to you after your metabolic processes are history, when you've dropped off the twig, kicked the bucket, shuffled off your mortal coil, run down the curtains and joined the bleedin' choir invisibule?

There was a craft-related toy in the 70's, which, unfortunately, I can't remember the name of, (I'm sure one of you knows what I mean) that let you encase household items into a clear, rubbery plastic, to make things like ugly broaches or very small paperweights.  That's what I want doing with my corpse... I'd like to be cast into a block of clear plastic, in a rugged pose, possibly something out of the Freeman's catalog's 'moustached men pointing at something in the distance' section, and then placed on a slowly rotating plinth outside a public library.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A Rose by any other name...

...Would still prick you with its thorns.
(C) Joseph M. Monks 1989.

So, what's in a name Eh?

It's how you're known to the world at large isn't it? Your given name, the one your parents give you after you're born, the one you put on job applications, can be a bit of an albatross around your neck can't it? Especially if your parents don't really think far enough ahead.

I'm sure that there are hundreds of Richard Heads in the world and any number of Josephine Kings.  Hugot Jarses are hiding under every rug and Peter Files are skulking behind every twitching curtain.

Of course, being of the male persuasion (ostensibly at least) I don't have to suffer the indignity of having a new surname foist upon me when I marry (Unless someone suggests that hateful double-barreled shenanigens, and quite frankly, I wouldn't stand for it - Unless my Surname was Baycun and my bride-to-be's was Moore, then of course I'd insist upon it, as any right thinking Englishman would).  So miss Mabel Hoskins should never get entwined with Benjamin Cable for instance.  In fact, I have a good friend who managed to saddle his wife with a married name that I consider her a saint for managing to bear on a daily basis.  If you have read the James Josiah Flash Project (and if not, why not?) You may be aware of the occasional literary outpourings of a certain Mr Nathan Spong... He married a wonderful young lady whose first name just happened to be Victoria... Told you, she's a saint...

Then we have Nicknames, often given to us at school, often cruel and often stickier than a hot octopus made of glue flavoured toffee.

Now, I was quite lucky at school, my surname is one of those that lends itself easily to just having a 'Y' stuck on the end of it, in a sort of 'Smithy' or 'Jonesy' Stylee.  And, as kids are mostly lazy, I was called that for a number of years.  Then someone replaced the 'sey' with a 'bo' so I became 'Grimbo' for a time, which always struck me as a little derogatory for some reason... One of my more well-read chums had a go at changing it to 'Grimer Wormtongue', but thankfully, he wasn't particularly successful.  My school life wasn't great...

Is it any wonder that some of us give ourselves alternative names?  You might be suprised to find out that The Chimping Dandy is not what it says on my Birth Certificate (It say Alphonse McTavish Shandytrousers-Humpleton-Grainger for those who are interested, in red marker-pen, diagonally).  A lot of people have an alternative personality for the time they spend on the Internet (weirdos like us lot mostly) They can be used to advertise your aspirations, to hide your Internet mumblings from people who know you in real life, or just so that you can pretend to be someone you're not with more money, a better career, or more interestingly dimensioned genitalia.

This is not my first Nom-de-Net you know... For an awfully long time I was a chap called LowLevel, posting on various message boards and online games.  Believe it or not, even my nickname got a nickname.  I had a number of young ladies who called me 'Ellie' (and this was a long time before the whole Anakin Skywalker / Annie debacle) And a nice Spanish lady used to refer to me as 'Lowlevelito'

I got that particular name from an old Army Buddy, who commented once about me sitting in the corner at a party, quietly listening to everything going on, he accused me of 'Low-Level intelligence gathering', and it just sort of stuck.

Then, when I worked for a popular (but again, sadly defunct) Childrens' clothing retailer, I got nicknamed 'Vet' because I'd been doing the job a while, wore a manky combat jacket a large proportion of the time and used to sit in the office sharpening a buck-knife with my tongue and claiming to all and sundry that 'I ain't got time to bleed.'

There was also one girl at a place I worked at a REALLY long time ago that called me 'Master' but that wasn't strictly a work nickname... *cough*

Anywho, picking yourself a new name is an important business - It needs to say things about you, let people know what they're getting, give a feeling of the type of interaction people they can expect...

Therefore I've decided that the pen-name that I'm going to use for my upcoming book is...

Wait for it...

Mr. Kyle D'Thrust...

You know what you're getting from a man with the name Mr. Kyle D'Thrust...