Thursday, 28 November 2013

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

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

Why am I so happy?  I'll show you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Time for 'The State of the Dandy Nation'

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right guys, talk to you on Monday, Peace!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

You leave me bent and broken by the roadside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were the wrong bulbs...

Monday, 25 November 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 22 November 2013

Like a firm, ripe, peach

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Monday, 18 November 2013

You get me closer to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Sunday, 17 November 2013

We create them, we haunt ourselves.

So, here's a first, a blog post published at the weekend.  I mean, I don't do that,  I write the Blog, in my head on the way to work, copy it out between doing desperately important IT stuff during the morning and post it in my lunch break at work.

This should only be a short one though, it's more of an update than a full blog...

Do you remember, Last Christmas, I recounted the story about how my wonderful daughter, the Mini-Dandy met my Mother for the first time?

My Mother with the false eye, that had done her best to scar my childhood with her ocular tomfoolery?

The one who, at the time my daughter met her, had had the audacity to have died ten years previously?

Yeah, that one.

So, those of you who've read my book, Mumblings of an Irate Pangolin, (Which some clearing house is knocking out for £6.96 now, the barstewards) will know that my Mother seems to have followed us to our new house. It's taken her a number of years, but she's resurfaced.

For those of you who haven't read it, this is what page 55 has to say:


And recently, some eleven years later, although we’ve moved house, my Daughter has started complaining that she can hear whispering, as if someone were talking very quietly behind her.  The only word that she can actually make out is her own name.

She’s not particularly worried, she described the smell that sometimes accompanies the whispering to me – It’s Sandalwood by Yardley, one of my dead Mother’s favourite scents.


So, The Mini-Dandy is, in some way, in contact with the spirit of her dead Grandmother.  It's a big universe, I don't profess to know how any of it works.  But recently, it's escalated, there are hand-prints appearing, and scratches on peoples backs.

The handle on my bedroom door has been 'tried' whist I was stood next to it, I opened the door virtually instantaneously and the landing was empty, not once, but a number of times

Oh, and footsteps... Lots of footsteps... Those of you who who know me in 'the real world' will be saying stuff like 'But what about your dog? or your cat? aren't they supposed to be sensitive to that sort of thing?'  The cat's hardly in the house nowadays, unless its asleep within four feet of one of us.  And the dog?  Well, I'm not saying that He's stupid, but I've had coughing fits that I would trust more to guard my house.

We've tried 'speaking out' to her, it's not worked so far... The footsteps and the 'trying' of door handles continues.

Which is odd, because it worked last time.

Which means that this is different in some way. 

Maybe it's not even her

Friday, 15 November 2013

And we have a (politically incorrect) Winner!

You know how I said that you guys should really get involved in the Blog, by asking questions or suggesting themes or even sending in whole Blogs yourself?


Well, I did and I would prove it if I could be bothered to go back and find where I said it... But seeing as I've still got 30,000 words to write on my real book before 31st. December and I'm chronically lazy, you're going to have to take my word for it.

Anywho, someone has offered their work up to you, you baying throng, you howling horde, for your entertainment and edification.

A little background... The writer of this piece is my good friend Ian, I've known him for years and years, and he's a thoroughly splendid chap.  He does think that some of my more 'off the wall' ideas, such as re-instating the British Empire, and claiming back the colonies by force and/or unilateral use of biological weapons are a bit 'limp' and don't go far enough.

He recently moved from Old England to New England and is currently working as a sleeper agent in Her Majesties Revolutionary Pacification Army.

He was recently forced to endure an Anti-Harassment seminar (I don't think it was just him... There were other people there too, probably.) and as it was arranged by an American company, it was hideously politically correct... He had some views on some of its themes.

If you are American, then this sort of thing is normal for you, and I apologise.  (Not for any offense, implied or inferred, more in a sort of 'You're American? Really? Oh, I'm so very sorry...' kind of way.)

I'm kidding - And we kid the people we love, right?

Anyway, I'll hand you over to Ian... Enjoy!


I just completed our company's mandatory online anti-harassment training course.... What a load of old cobblers.... Of course most of it is common sense ... For example ... Don't greet colleagues of either sex by grabbing their genitals in the style of Mick 'crocodile' Dundee ...

But aside from being a ridiculous waste of 3 minutes which I could have better spent researching dirty jokes on the internet, it did get me to thinking that the laws and precedents set are all about actions and events... Rude comments, unwanted attention, provocative posters ... In the areas of gender, sexuality, genetic data, country of origin etc...

What about the situation where someone is excluded from participation, (without being aware), or more obviously are excluded from a conversation by virtue of the fact that the other team members are all speaking in a language not understood by 'the victim' (a quick note to my Dutch, Spanish, Brazilian, Thai, Malay, Swedish, Norwegian, German, (Geordie), Irish, Portuguese, Swiss and Iraqi friends and colleagues -- this is not directed at you)....

One would not know if a joke was being made at your expense, or if they agreed that 'yes' your bum really does look big in that dress, or (breaking the cussing rule) that you are a f*k1ng moron and 5h1t at your job....

Surely deliberately obfuscating your conversation by speaking in a language you know (or think) the 'victim' cannot understand (when you know everyone speaks perfect French for example) counts as 'creating a hostile working environment'?

Interesting right? So where does one draw the line? Apparently repeatedly asking someone to join you for coffee could result in a law suit in the US .... WTF?
Strangely there is no mention of things like body odor, halitosis or the highly offensive practices of spitting or 'snooking' which are considered culturally acceptable in India, the Middle East and certain parts of Bradford....

How about instead of creating a legal framework for persecution, paranoia, discrimination and litigation, we ensure everyone receives training in the immortal teachings of Bill and Ted....


.....Because 10 commandments are too hard, and most obviously discriminatory.

This is a lengthy rant by the way, so unless you are on your lunch break or in the bath perhaps, you'd better go back to browsing amusing videos of cats attacking printers or heart-wrenching puppy pleas.....

One of the questions on the aforementioned training course (scenario based) was related to provocative dressing... Let me provide some background....

Staring (repeatedly) by which I assume they mean with either desire or disgust at a colleague counts as 'creating a hostile work place'

Here is an abridged version of the 'test question'

Q: If a colleague says to you, "women who dress in a sexually provocative way deserve to be ogled and stared at, they obviously want it", what is the most appropriate response (multiple/idiot choice 1 of a possible 3)....

First of all I'm thinking 'yes, I could hear myself saying that', next thought process says ' but I know that's not the answer they want'.., third step of evaluation is that 'that's not even one of the possible answers'

The correct answer is predictably effing lame

'You shouldn't assume from the way someone dresses that they will not be offended by attention, of comments of a lewd nature' ... More 'ollocks!!!!

... But let's play this out ... (Because it's fun).....

Anna turns up to work in the morning wearing a short skirt revealing the tops if her suspenders, 4" heels, a black bra under a white blouse with the top 4 buttons undone exposing most of her cleavage, and enough makeup to qualify as a global pollution event with the UN..., you get the picture....
(Calm yourselves male readers)....

If I stare at Anna - I'm harassing her? Parts of my body that my brain can't reach are vehemently disagreeing... Just because of biology!! Surely, dressed in this way Anna can cause car crashes with a blink of her mascara laden lashes; and could probably kill a male OAP even without his glasses on from about 400 yards by just blowing him a kiss. And you -- (the man) are telling me that I am guilty of harassment, if I do nothing more than fix my eyes on her and fail to prevent my jaw from bouncing off my shoes? 'ck off!!!

You are also telling me she might have dressed that way because it projects a professional image? And there is no way that she might be seeking ANY kind of professional advantage based purely on the fact that she knows she looks devastatingly hot and the CEO has a weakness for blonds? Or that actually her main hobby is watching weak willed men walk into lamp posts? 'ollocks!!!

Hmm ok, let's try a little role reversal....

Let's say Adam.... Who's in his mid 20's, is 6'2 and built like a brick privy, turns up to work wearing cowboy boots, chaps, a leather g-backed thong and waistcoat combo, with just a touch of eyeliner to accentuate his piercing blue eyes which complement his unruly, thick blond locks flowing down a perfectly sculpted jaw with just the right amount of stubble..... (Girl readers take a breath .... We're done...,.)
Just a couple of things..... Who the 'uck isn't going to stare at that? You think for one second he's not enjoying the attention and actively seeking it? Did Adam get out of bed this morning and say ....'oh I'm just so bored with slacks and a shirt perhaps I'll wear something more interesting today'? ....

As a once upon a time introvert, I can testify to the fact that people who do not want to draw attention to themselves do not own, rent or more importantly wear to work, 4" stiletto pumps in patent crimson, nor do they expose any more skin than is necessary to avoid suffocation....
This is true for both boys and girls,
So, people of America (and elsewhere to avoid prosecution) wake the *#%* up and smell the dunkin'... Every individual has a responsibility to dress, behave, talk, and interact in a way that is conducive to promoting the desired, appropriate responses from their colleagues and fellow get what you dress for!...
Everyone also had the right to drool, gag or take a sharp I take of breath and even stare, yes that's right have their eyes focused on something that attracts their subconscious for a prolonged period - without fear of prosecution.

Now where did I put those chaps and my spare eyeliner??

Thursday, 14 November 2013

There's something else that I miss...

I was driving to work this morning and pondering what to Blog about today. and by the time i'd got to Historical Castle Donington, I'd decided that it was either going to be about football (Because my local team has decided to re-name its stadium and people are threatening to commit suicide) or breasts (Because my fellow Blogger Tattooed Mummy just did one and I thought I'd offer the male perspective).  But try as I might, I couldn't decide which one to do, what with them both being very emotive subjects.

So, I decided to trot out another one about how things were much better in the 'Good old days' than they are now, but to combine the subjects I'd previously thought of.

Ok, so it happened more in the olden days than it does now... Involves football... And breasts... It can only be?..

(Actually, all of you people who just thought 'spit-roasting' can just leave, right now - There's no place here for people like you here, this is a family Blog.)

I am, of course, talking about streaking.  The act of taking off all/most of your clothes and making an organised public event 1000% more interesting - Often as a form of protest, but mostly to show off.  And who hasn't, if they're being completely honest, ever just wanted to remove all of their clothes in a completely inappropriate situation and then have a bit of a jog about the place? It's like, guerrilla naturism and it should be given our wholehearted support.  I mean, I can remember saying, on many occasions, 'I should like to give that young, naked, statuesque lady my wholehearted support.'


Anywho, I would probably say that the the first person to bring this time honoured tradition to my personal attention was a young lady by the name of Erica Roe at Twickenham in 1982.

Aye, she could certainly fill a policeman's helmet could young Erica
(We won 15-11 By the way - Seems that the Aussies may have gotten a little distracted)

To an impressionable fourteen year old boy, she was the very epitome of pulchritude, and the fact that she bore more than a passing resemblance to Sally James didn't hurt either.  It seems that she, and her friend Sarah Bennett (also pictured, being covered up by John Bull, with a Union Flag - Be honest, you hadn't spotted her had you? Me either.) Had gotten a little bit drunk and did it for a dare... How very British!  What's even more British is that she did it in January and it was pretty cold - Which you can see in some of the 'other' pictures that are freely available on the Internet, but it doesn't account for why the Copper is sweating...

However, because I'm a completely law abiding citizen, I must warn you that streaking is currently illegal in the UK and is covered (if you'll pardon the pun) under the Sexual Offences act and, depending on who sees you, what the circumstances are and the sense of humour quotient of the arresting officer, the punishment can range from a hearty 'Put your clothes back on and bugger off.' through, a lifetime ban on entry to the venue where you streaked, to two-years imprisonment and your name on the Sex-Offenders register... Although an £80 fine and a good, hard, quoting of the Public Order act seems to be popular at the moment.

Also, you have to remember though that not so long ago, nakedness was a major part of organised sporting events. Wrestling in the original Olympic Games for instance was originally conducted naked, covered in olive oil too... probably.  Actually, I think that this is as good a time as any, to introduce today's new word...

PLETHRON:  The length/width of a Greek Wrestling square, 100 Ancient Greek (just called Greek at the time, obviously) feet - Which, strangely was the width of the gap in the middle of an Olympic running track... Spooky!

If you'd like to picture the scene, you've got a couple of oiled-up Greek chaps, chasing each other around a 30 meter square of sand making the Zoidberg woop-woop-woop noise, trying to pin someone to the floor, I'm sure you can imagine the opportunities for junk-flappity action that this 'sport' involved.  Although don't get me wrong, it wasn't a free-for-all, there were rules... Some of which included:

  • Grasping of the Genitals is prohibited. (which is where it's different from most of you guys' standard Saturday night out I'm guessing.)
  • No gouging of the eyes or biting is allowed (see above)
  • Infractions should be punished by immediate whipping by the Referee until the undesirable behaviour is stopped.

Is anyone else really surprised that the phrase 'Homo-Erotic' is of Greek origin?


And finally, as this Blog usually comprises my thoughts and experiences, you'll all be glad to know that I, your ever-loving Blogger have, indeed, streaked myself.  It wasn't at a sporting event, because I'm not particularly 'sporty'.

It was however down a busy shopping street, in the center of my home town (Well, city technically I suppose) and was the the upshot of someone saying 'You daren't'.

It seems that 'I certainly do dare'...

Monday, 11 November 2013

No, it's just Armistice Day

I don't suppose that there was very much else I could Blog about today was there?

I'll start with a question... When did the War that we call Great War, The War to End all Wars, World War 1 and/or the 1914-1918 War finish?

Hands up if you said the 11th November 1918... No, don't be shy, you can think that, it's perfectly OK, loads of people do in fact.  But lots of people are wrong.

If you've got a war memorial near you, go and have a quick look now.  In fact, take some Brasso with you and give it a bit of a going over, but try and get there before Eleven O'Clock (Blogger's note, yes, I know this Blog doesn't come out until lunchtime), there's a possibility that there might be some people there around then, and you don't want people reporting your guerrilla polishing spree to the authorities.

What does it say the dates are?

1914-1918? - Really? Oh, that sort of took the wind out of my sails a bit if I'm honest... Although, I kind of get it, most of the memorials commemorate local people who have died, and people stopped dying en-masse in 1918 (Not everyone... Just people who were fighting in the war, otherwise the world would be even more over-populated than it is now.)

Ok, let me direct you to a particular War Memorial, the one in the Lych Gate at my local church.

It plainly says at the top, For God, King and Country 1914-1919.  Which is slightly more correct, kind of...

On the 28th. June 1919, exactly five years after Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb, assassinated Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and started the whole thing off, the Treaty of Versailles was signed which 'Ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers'

So, 1914-1919?.. Great...

But no, the treaty didn't come into effect until January 1920.

Right, so 1914-1920? Yes? Actually still no, there were a fair old number of treaties signed between the various combatants during 1920 - The combined Allies, Hungary, The Ottoman and German Empires to name a few (Did you know that the Germans even had an Empire? If they'd won World War 1 would we now have an International Death-Star instead of the International Space Station? - These are all important questions you know) But, Turkey, dear plucky little Turkey, didn't stick to the treaty that they signed, and continued to be at war with us until a separate treaty came into force in 1924.

The 1914-1918 war actually lasted from 1914-1924 then?  Well, kind of, but still no.  (You know where this is going right?)

There's a country that is famous for being late for every major military engagement that it's ever been involved in that it didn't actually start, can you guess which one I'm talking about?

If you said America, and in fairness who wouldn't have said America? You can have a cookie, in this instance you're wrong, but still have a cookie, because I thought it was funny. (They signed a treaty with Germany in 1921 that ended the war for them)

I'm talking about Greece.  Greece only joined the Great War in 1917 for some fairly complex geographical reasons, and when the time came to 'Divvy-up' Eastern Europe between the allied forces with the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, they didn't sign it.  So, the war between Greece and the Ottoman Empire (or Turkey, as we like to call it now) is still ongoing, technically. But if I were you, I still wouldn't go shooting at any Turkish people you bumped into on a busy shopping street in Athens - I mean, you probably wouldn't get into a lot of trouble, but it's still generally regarded as bad-form.

So, if you wanted to take things literally, you could say that the correct date for War Memorials should be 1914 - TBA because it's still in progress.  Again, you'd be within your rights (if you were completely bloody mental that is) to take an angle-grinder and smooth out the 1918 or 1919 or 1921 on your nearest memorial and you could print out this Blog as evidence to back up your thinking.

Seriously though, don't... people get twitchy when you start mentioning defacement of national monuments, I think they can still hang you for that, or shoot you at the very least.  People would get upset at you. Even if you know the difference between 'Romanes Eunt Domus' and 'Romani Ite Domum'

But no-where near as upset as they get when you choose not to wear a poppy, especially if you're on television...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Mumblings of an Irate Pangolin

I guess it's fairly obvious what the Blog's going to be about today.

Even though many of you have gotten bored of my ceaseless plugging and pimping, (And I totally get that, it's pretty much all I've been talking about for the past month) I thought it was only fair that I should let you know that the real, live, hold it in your hand, marvel at the smoothness of the pages, paperback version of the first volume of the collected Chimping Dandy is now available for purchase via Amazon.

If you're lucky enough to live in the UK, then you can get it HERE.

If you're more of a .COM kind of person, you can get it HERE.

You can also get it direct from CreateSpace HERE (You might need to create, if you'll pardon the pun, a user for this site first though, if you don't have one already.)

You can buy it from other local Amazon sites too, in Germany and France and suchlike, but not Canada at the moment for some reason.

And if you're lucky, and if I've hit the right buttons during the publishing process, you might be able to order it in bookshops (From Barnes & Noble at least) using the ISBN Number - 978-1493560219

Local costs may vary, what with the fluctuation of the Dollar, sunspots, prevailing winds, typhoons and my need for petrol money etc. (Although in fairness, I only make just over one shiny pound sterling on each one that you guys buy.)

The significantly cheaper (but much less tactile) Kindle version is available HERE and HERE amongst other places and cleverly circumvents all that pesky waiting in for a delivery thing that makes everyone so grumpy.

I have even designed an advertising campaign for use on local radio, and possibly in public toilets.

The actual copy used in that photograph is available for sale, at a vastly inflated cost, there is a scratch and sniff panel on the back... Well, there is now anyway.

If you know someone who needs cheering up, or has recently finished the book that they would normally read on the toilet, or you just can't think of anything else to get them for Christmas then take a punt - It saves you the embarrassment of having to buy the latest Jeremy Clarkson book if nothing else.

Presuming that you do buy the paperback version (and that's a hell of a presumption, I realise) Drop me a line at and I'll send you a postal address to send your copy to, then send it in, enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a note of who you would like the copy signing to, and any ideas you might have about an inscription.  I'll do the necessary and send it straight back to you. Or just accost me in the street, whatever works best for you.

I might even buy a special pen, and/or deface your copy in some other very personal way.

I'd like to say that this will be the last you'll hear about the book, but we both know that it won't be, right?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Set time capsule to stun.

The theme for today's Blog was suggested by my good friend and Serial Internet Wrangler, Mr Richard Thorneycroft.

Imagine for a second, if you will, that you're not just the fabulously wonderful, incredibly intelligent, popular with the opposite sex person that you so obviously are.  But you're also a high-muck-a-muck in the American Atomic Energy Commission.

Part of your job is to find a rug big enough to sweep all the nuclear waste that comes into being from the nuclear power industry, or from the disassembling of nuclear weapons under.  Big task eh?  Up until the mid 1990's, this was really simple.  You loaded the waste, in leaky barrels, onto a ship.  Then that ship traveled out to an area of reasonably deep water and you just sort of threw it over the side (Well, you didn't do it yourself, that'd be silly, you'd get some local people who you didn't really mind getting cancer to do it for you)  But there was this kerfuffle about the temperature of the sea rising and mackerel being born ready smoked.

So, you've got to think of something better, something longer-term using current technology.  OK, how about shooting it into space on a rocket?  Well, yes, you could. Although it's be pretty difficult to get through the current backlog AND keep up with all the new stuff being created without just having a constant stream of rockets launching 24 hours a day, which would probably knock the Earth off its axis and send us spiraling into the sun or something.  And there's the ever present danger of 'launch failure' where a 200ft high metal tube, filled with a thousand tons of rocket fuel goes *BOOM* - Imagine that with a few tons of Uranium 235 on top.  Not ideal I think you'll agree.

You could 'reprocess' the fuel in something called a Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor.  These take spent fuel from a normal reactor, use a special process (which is bloody complicated and is freely available for you to Google so I'm not going to go into it here) which generates power AND produces waste that can be used as fuel in the normal reactor again.  Brilliant! problems solved! Nuclear power becomes the most powerful form of renewable energy.  within months we're all flying around in nuclear powered Jetsons style cars and frying bacon on nuclear frying pans.  Yeah, but no.  there's a few problems with Fast Breeders.  One is that they run quite hot, so hot in fact that they actually use liquid metal to cool the reaction (OK, so some of the metals that they use melt at about 100 deg C, but still, using molten metal to cool something down... Blimey!) They're bloody expensive to build, and if there was an accident where the containment facility was compromised there would be a bang hot enough for our fiery lord Satan to comment 'Flipping heck Adolph, I'm sweating like a 1970's Radio 1 DJ in here, open a window will you?'

At a push, you could pay the Mafia to get rid of it for you... (allegedly) In the 1980's The Italian State Energy Research Agency paid a particular Mafia family to take nuclear waste and bury it in Somalia.  Which they did (allegedly) for about 20 years.  It seems that they were only found out when they got bored sailing these ships all the way to Africa and decided to just explosively scuttle the ships as soon as they were out of sight of land, just off the coast of Calabria in South Western Italy (allegedly).

So, because you're out of ideas, you bury it under the ground, like all the other cool kids do.  But then you think to yourself, 'This stuff's going to be hot for 10,000 years at the very least... How do we stop people like the guys from Time-Team just digging it up before then?'

Think about that for a second... How would you warn someone in the year 12,013AD not to dig a really deep hole where you'd buried your barrels of glowing death?  Well, you'd put a sign up wouldn't you?  A sign that would last a long time, that people could understand 10,000 years in the future.

If we go 10,000 years into the past and see what the people then have left us to look at.  Well, first of all that's the Stoneage we're looking at there.

Remember our old friend Urk, who taught us how money had no value?  Well, imagine we're in his cave and we explain the situation to him, what do you think he'd say?  After his brain had melted out of his ears that is.  He'd probably carve a representation of a lady with large breasts, because they did a lot of that back then given the chance, but if you asked him why, he'd say something like, 'That explain that there are a lot of ray-dee-ay-shuns all over place, you'll have to wear a scaly helmet and something over your dangly-bits.'  Which makes sense if you know what he means.  But you're more likely to find the little lady back in the 20th Century and go 'Huge boobs no face, obviously some kind of fertility symbol, keep digging lads!'

A paleolithic nuclear waste warning?

Which brings us to the WIPP.  In New Mexico, about 25 miles outside of the city of Carlsbad there is a deep pit where our colonial cousins have been storing their nuclear waste since the year 2000.  The acronym WIPP stands for Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and it's effectively a salt cavern, 2,000 feet under the ground created by the evaporation of a 250 million year old sea.  When they've filled it with waste they're going to cover it up and presumably dig another deep hole somewhere else, then rinse and repeat.  They're going to put a sign up to let future generations know that they shouldn't just go poking around like The Scooby Gang in an abandoned theme park.

First of all they're marking out a four mile square perimeter, marked by 25 ft high granite pillars, half a mile apart, which surround an earthen wall, 30 feet tall and 100 feet wide.  Then there'll be another perimeter of the granite pillars and finally a 15 ft square, roofless granite room, with a warning carved into the walls in multiple languages (including Navajo) with pictograms depicting stick-men running away, skulls and crossbones and bizarrely, the face of 'The Scream' by Edvard Munch... So far, so Egyptian Pharaoh.  And I don't know about you, but stuff like that would make me think 'There must be something bloody important under there, let's see what it is!'

But there are people out there who are paid to think of alternative ways to warn our descendants about the many ways that we have blighted their planet with our waste.

It's time to learn a new word kids, 'Semiotics' - It's the study of signs... Not the film with Mel Gibson that puts the willies up me, I mean like, actual metal signs, as you might see by the side of the road, that tell you things like 'Warning, Badgers for the next 1/4 mile'.

So, Nuclear Semiotics is the study of Nuclear Signage, inventing ways of telling people things that they need to know about nuclear waste in the far future.  I guess this is the epitome of thinking outside the box, we have no idea how people will communicate that far in the future, so everything is hypothetical, with means the ideas can be as mental as you like, but still be considered.  For instance:

Thomas Sebeok thinks that the best way to warn people is by word of mouth, and he suggests an 'Atomic Priesthood' based on the Catholic Church, who would pass down knowledge of these buried waste sites by word of mouth, generation after generation, through rituals and myths.

Stanislaw Lem (the chap that wrote the book Solaris, which was recently made into that hugely confusing film with George Clooney in it) had two suggestions.  One was for a series of nuclear-powered satellites that would orbit the earth, constantly transmitting warnings, the other was for details about the nuclear sites to be encoded in the DNA of plants that only grew around the sites themselves.  Of course, there's have to be some kind of sign telling you about those signs, which is where the plan falls down in a kind of 'defeating the object' way.

Francoise Bastide (Great name) Suggested that we breed special cats whose fur changes colour when they encounter radiation, then generate some kind of fairy tale about how having one of these 'Ray-Cats' with you when you go exploring can be lucky.

If these things show anything, it's that there are a lot of people with some quite serious mental health problems being given potloads of cash to have ideas whilst they're drunk and/or stoned.

But how would you do it?  After all, we're pretending that you're in charge aren't we?  Think of something good, and you might be famous for ever, but keep in mind that some of these substances will continue to emit lethal levels of radiation for ten times longer, for 100,000 years or so.  So we will need to think of a way of warning people who are as technologically advanced from us, as we are from neaderthals.

And in all honesty, would you, if you could even understand it, take any notice of a warning that a caveman gave you?

Monday, 4 November 2013

Happy Birthday Debs

It's my Sister-In-Law's Birthday today... And she knits... Happy Birthday Debs!


The day started much like the previous twelve thousand or so; the dog had been fed, the husband had been sent off to work with a package of tuna sandwiches and looking out of the kitchen window let her know that the overnight wind had done a top notch job of stripping the autumn leaves from the trees.

She pottered around, tidying a little here, dusting a little there, until the postman arrived with her cards.  There were a few more than there usually were, which brought a smile to her face and she sat lazily with a mug of tea, opening them one after another, carefully checking each one for money before arranging them on the few empty spaces she could find.

Turning on the TV, she was greeted by static, the same with the radio; the computer worked, but refused to connect to the Internet, she shook her head, sighed and picked up her knitting.  It was going to be one of 'those' days, she could tell.

The droning noise had been going on for several minutes before it broke through the repetetive 'Knit one-Purl one-Knit two together' mantra that both her lips and hands were moving to.  It sounded something like the noise that an old fashioned tin spinning top would make, a sort of mechanical whooshing noise, mixed with a low rumbling.  At first she wondered if her upstairs neighbour was re-starting his experiments to make a 'real girlfriend' from common household items, and he'd gotten around to practicing with the hoover hose, but she slowly realised that it was coming from outside.

She hadn't even managed to move the net curtains out of the way before she heard the first scream.  It was the woman from across the road and, whilst hearing her scream was nothing new, seeing her pointing up into the sky whilst she was doing it was certainly a twist.  She craned her neck and looked up into the cloudless autumn sky, but she could see nothing.

She assumed that the screaming woman had just finally snapped, it'd been coming for a while in her opinion, what with her feral kids and the estranged alchoholic husband.  and she was just about to sit back down and concentrate on a particularly difficult double-decrease when she saw the flash from the first explosion, followed a second or so later by its sound, then the badly fitted panes of glass in her front windows rattled alarmingly.

It was then that the shadow fell over her front garden, its harshly curved edge indicating that whatever was blocking out the sun was large, and round.  Pausing only to grab a handful of the Size 6 stiletto point needles from her knitting bag and to roll up a tea-towel and wrap it around her head in the style of a bandana, she ran to the front door, took a deep breath and flung it open.

Directly above her was a giant, floating disk, about a hundred yards across.  It was barely above the rooftops and she could see movement through the brightly lit, downwards facing windows.  As she stared, a bright, red beam of light shot from the disk and destroyed the nearby multiplex cinema, the rising column of smoke matching the one already streaming from the Rolls-Royce factory just down the road.

As she watched, the disk descended, its rapidly rotating edge grinding against one of the houses further down the street until it cleared itself a space wide enough to land in.  The sudden eerie silence echoed for a few moments along the row of houses, until a large ramp opened on the vehicle and a cloud of steam, or possibly smoke, billowed out.

Then the monstrocity appeared, he was at least eight feet tall in his stocking feet.  She thought it was odd that someone who was so obviously a seasoned galactic conqueror would be wearing stockings, but years of watching Star Trek had taught her that you shouldn't judge aliens by their appearances.  He roared at the top of his lungs, brandished a wickedly sharp axe and charged at her.

At the last moment, she ducked, and the alien launched itself, axe swinging, into the space where she had been.  She stabbed upwards with the knitting needle and caught him in the chest, immediately increasing the volume of his roar and spattering herself with warm green ichor.  He careened into the previously screaming neighbour, who was squashed against her gatepost like a bug by his studded shoulderpads.  Looking down at the wooden implement sticking out of his armour in disgust, he pulled it out with a wet, sucking sound and threw it on the ground.

She heard another echoing roar from behind her, and threw two more needles, one from each hand.  The doglike squeals told her that they had both been direct hits.  She snuck a peek and saw two slightly smaller specimens clutching desperately at their eyes.  Turning her attention back to her original target, she plunged two needles, crosswise into the knot of her teatowel, and beckoned the monster forward.

He roared and charged again, oblivious to any kind of tactics and raised his axe.  She flic-flac'd her way towards him, and planted both feet into his midriff.  He fell heavily back and she landed astride him, grabbed the needles from her hair and jammed them into his ears, slapping them home with the flat of her hands.  His roar turned into a gurgle, which in turn quietened to a hiss, and the sound died with him, as his red eyes rolled back into his head.

The spinning top hum started up behind her, and the saucer lifted itself unsteadily into the air, passed over her head and disappeared into the clouds.  She realised that she'd been holding her breath,  and let it out with a long, relaxed sigh.  Examining the side of the alien's head, she wondered momentarily about retrieving her needles, but seeing the green slime that was slowly dripping from them, she thought better of it.  There would probably be more on eBay, and thinking of eBay, she picked up his axe, and dragged it across the road, its edge sparking on the tarmac.

Once she had made herself another drink, she sat down at the computer.  The Internet was working perfectly now and she logged into eBay and started to type:

As New: Space Zombie Axe, One Previous Owner, No Reserve, Buyer Collects.  Please see my previous auctions for other Space Zombie weaponry and armour.  New items listed Every Monday.

She added a couple of photographs and listed it, then searched for more needles to replace the ones she'd lost.  Although there was a week until the next scheduled attack, the Post Office could be a bit hit and miss where deliveries were concerned.