Monday, 19 January 2015

Put on your adventuring pants Matron!

Would you like to help me on a quest?

A vision quest if you will, like the bloke off of ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ used to do every time there was an episode about him. (Did you know, that Robert Beltran, the guy who played the enigmatic Native American character Chakotay in the program was in fact, half Mexican? Which just goes to show that if an ‘ethnic’ character is needed, any minority will do at a pinch.)

Anyway, back to my vision quest. Don’t worry if you’re in two minds about the use of mind expanding herbs and the ceaseless native rhythms, I’m not going to ask you to listen to Radio 1 or anything unnatural like that. I’d just like some of you to read a couple of my Blog posts.

It’s not hugely important, I’m being selfish and mercenary and I’m just trying to cheer myself up about because things have all gone a bit crappy today and it’s taking a few more muscles to smile than it does normally (Even if I am wearing a brand-new Jeff Banks shirt that makes me look a bit like a Vicar.)

The thing is, I am just 23 page-views short of hitting my completely made up and arbitrary target of 44,000 by the end of the week.

I’m not suggesting that you just go to my Blog and start reading random stuff, for that way madness lies – And most of you are borderline mental now.

So, I thought I’d give you some suggestions of a few of my favourite post that you can take a look at to cheer yourself up – They’re not my most popular ones by any means, they’re just ones I particularly like.

  1. We’ll start with ‘Pandas, the Eastern Scourge’ – where I question the very nature of our ailuropodean planet-mates and try to discover if they’re just ‘Pulling a fast one.’
  2. Then there’s ‘T-wit - who?’ – This describes the particular shortcomings of having a real, live, owl as a pet.  These are many and hugely unpleasant (Does contain a picture of the MiniDandy as a small child.)
  3. Many of you know that I love ASDA, It’s mainly because of the people you can run into there, but I also performed the only recorded Melonicide in UK History (Also contains a small ladies chest reference, no, actually, it’s a small reference to a ladies chest) – ‘Boobs, Melons and Jumper Lumps
  4. In ‘Maybe they explained it badly?’ – I expose my complete lack of technical understanding to a waiting world… Mainly of how huge, metal aeroplanes can glide through the aether with an alacrity that would easily wound an armoured badger.
  5. POWER! – It’s something we all yearn for, but do any of actually understand what it is? – I know I don’t, but I did have a go at explaining it to myself.  It didn’t go particularly well.  But judge for yourself in ‘Any way the wind blows
  6. I’m quite proud of the mixture of Terrorism and Time-Travel that I managed to ram into ‘We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity’ – Many people reposted this, but it’s not in the top-ten anymore.
  7. Now, I’m cheating here, this one is actually in the Top-Ten, but it got favourited and re-tweeted by real famous people on Twitter. ‘Pogonophilia is for everyone, even the young.’ Contains my child-like wonder about why ‘a certain kind of lady’ finds Men with Manly beards very Manly. (Warning, contains a topless, Anne Geddes style photo of me)
  8. I’m a great believer that you should wear clothes that make you happy… Wearing a kilt makes me happy (and freshens up my nethers like a man possessed) in ‘Let loose The Kraken Th'Noo’ I perform in what could be construed as a slightly racist fashion, purely so that I don’t have to wear any pants.
  9. Some of you might know that on very rare occasions, I ride custom motorcycles. The thing about doing this is that you attract the attention of other people who do the same thing.  These people tend to have lives that are just as colourful as mine, here’s a few stories about my, now sadly demised, friend Jock, ‘No, chopper as in motorcycle - And Greeks.
  10. And the last post I’m going to recommend today also has a slightly Scots flavour.  Well, I could really do a list without including at least one ‘Scots Mick’ story, could I? ‘Then SMick said that Chap was a bad word’ talks about my first trip to the wonderful riverside town of Dumfries, where I nearly got my arms torn off and single-handedly chatted up a xenophobic bouncers girlfriend… Well, I say single-handedly…

Hope you enjoy this quick look at some of my favourite posts, there are a lot more if you’re interested.  Feel free to repost them, or spam links to people you think might be interested.

In fact, I think I’d quite like that.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Are you nice? Does it hurt?

They say there are are a lot of different kinds of people in this world.  You’ve got your movers, your shakers, your couch potatoes.  Douches, heroes, thinkers, doers, readers, writers, leavers, cutters, people who like the taste of tinfoil, rappers, mappers, toe-tappers and, of course, the universally reviled hipsters.

But when it comes down to it, there are really only two types of people.

People who adopt stray cats, and people who don’t.

Now, if you know the real me, you’ll know that recently I’ve become one of the former.  Here’s a picture of her.  Her name’s Pipe.

Raggedy, isn't she?

She’s tiny, probably about a year old or so, and has been either mistreated, or been feral for quite a while as she has the attitude of a grumpy wood-chipper with a hair trigger.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

She latched onto my kids, specifically my son, on their way home from school about a month ago.  She was scrawny and pathetic, her coat moved of its own accord due to sheer volume of fleas and she didn’t really have the strength to do proper cat stuff like jumping or meowing loudly.

My daughter, because she’s a realist, told him that they wouldn’t be able keep the cat, because we had a cat and a dog already and also because ‘Mum & Dad are both heartless ogres.’ (and she’s right, I actually spend a lot of my time hiding behind boulders up on the moors with a stone hammer, feasting on the bone marrow of unsuspecting ramblers and the mountain rescue teams sent to find them.  It’s where we met, my wife and I. I looked at the sunlight bouncing off her knotted unibrow across a pile of sucked-dry corpses clothed only in that nice, brightly coloured, fabric that’s waterproof, but totally wicks your sweat away and thought ‘Dyamn Beeyatch! You fine!’)

He put down the kitten and started to cry, which seemingly set the kitten off and she panicked and allowed it to follow them home, across several dual-carriageways, over a level-crossing and through a ford, twice… I should probably note that this wasn’t their normal way home; I think she was trying to dissuade it.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work.

The kitten took up residence in the north formal shrubbery, between the real tennis courts and the helipad, for a day or so until we could purchase enough chemicals, pills and pastes to ensure that it didn’t pass on any dreaded lurgeys to anyone else.  And after a good couple of hours of combing, the mehsahib had dislodged, quite literally, a bin-liner full of fleas (which is now roving around the garden of its own accord, ready to chase any of us that try to escape by running away down our private beach) The worming cycle was completed, causing one unsuspecting guest to exclaim ‘Why have you fed your new cat spaghet… Oh, never mind!’ and be violently sick in my prize hydrangeas.

But not to worry, because everything’s fine now.  She’s putting weight on, OK – that’s mainly because she won’t let anyone else in the house eat, including us.  She will, and this is no word of a lie, put both her front paws on your dinner-plate and have it away with your jumbo battered-sausage before you can say, ‘You little bleeder! I’ll gut you like a fish!’

She does love ‘cuddles’ though, and will sit there and let you happily stroke her until you touch that quarter-inch square of skin that causes all four of her legs to independently swivel around and latch onto your wrist whilst she bites chunks out of the fleshy party of your thumb. (Location of this small patch of fur changes hourly, some might even say very much more often)

She’s also getting used to Morty, our occularly challenged Staffy… He can now come nearer than three feet to her before she devolves into a velociraptor and tries to tear out his eyes, which would of course, leave him much more challenged than usual.

Our other cat, Pop, can take her or leave her.  I mean, they growl, and hiss, and takes swipes at each other, but that’s pretty much standard cat behaviour isn’t it… There’s not actually been blood.

Well, there’s been blood, obviously, it’s mostly dog-blood though.  And it’s not all bad, because he now has a permanent noughts and crosses board on his muzzle that he’ll happily let you use for a biscuit.

What I’m trying to say is, erm… Well, I’m not hugely sure what I’m trying to say… If you could make something up about stray animals and being able to find enough excess affection for something that might well actually be the death of you by sitting at the top of the stairs silently in the dark, feel free to attribute it to me and imagine that it’s today’s message, OK?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

But it’s not a perfect world.

Before we go any further, let me just re-iterate that what follows is MY opinion.  You may disagree, in fact, I already know that a few of my readers hold views exactly opposite to mine and that is their right.

In fact, that’s everyone’s right.  You believe what you want to believe, it’s not my place to judge and that goes for all of us.  That is, you have an inalienable right to believe what you want to right up until the point where your beliefs start impact on me or mine in a tangible way, then we’d have a problem.

Obviously, I’m talking about yesterday’s shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine.  At around 11:00 Paris time, men entered the office, armed with AK assault rifles and proceeded to kill eleven people and injure about the same again.  The reports are varied about the details and it’s way too early to figure out what actually happened and what is pure speculation. 

Some reports say that the gunmen asked for their targets by name and then executed them, others that they entered a meeting room during an editorial meeting and started indiscriminately shooting. (which is pretty much what the AK was designed for, they’re not known for their accuracy)  Upon leaving the building they were ‘challenged’ by two police officers in a car, one of whom, Ahmed Merabet (also a Muslim, not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things) was shot, then executed with a subsequent bullet to the head.  Remember his name and the fact that he leaves behind a wife, I’m going to refer to him again briefly in a minute.

Let’s get the knee-jerk stuff out of the way now shall we?

Are Said and Cherif Kouachi psychopaths? – Yes they are.

Did they believe what they were doing was a reply to Charlie Hebdo’s repeated attacks (as they saw them) against the Muslim way of life in general and Allah/the Prophet Mohammed in particular? – Yes

Has the institute of Charlie Hebdo (i.e. its buildings and staff) suffered from attacks and threats from Radical Islamists before yesterday? – Yes, the offices were firebombed in 2011 after listing the Prophet Mohammed as its Editor in Chief and using his image on the cover in a less than complimentary way.

Were any of the gunmen previously known to be radicals? – Yes, Cherif Kouachi has been on various watchlists for around ten years, after being arrested in 2005 and imprisoned for his part in a plot to send volunteers to Iraq to fight against the US forces.

Did the Editor, Stephane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier seriously think his life was at risk? – I don’t know if he did personally, but he was assigned a Police bodyguard because other people did.

Was his bodyguard killed? – One was, one was injured according to reports.

Was this an attack by the Muslim people on innocent Christians? – No, it really wasn’t. 

Let me explain… (Again, remember this is just my opinion)

Forget for a second about Paris, and Charlie Hebdo, and Muslims.  Instead, imagine… Oh, I don’t know… A crocodile, living in the mud, by the riverbank.  It’s not a hugely nice fairy-tale crocodile, it doesn’t ‘tick’, it’s real and it eats things alive.  But crocodiles do, don’t they? They’re known for it, it happens all the time.  In fact recently it happens more and more as global growth crushes us all together and we’re living in each other’s back yards.  So, one day, a group of kids hears about this crocodile and to prove to themselves how brave and clever and modern they are, (and in the back of their minds, how cowardly and stupid and prehistoric crocodiles are) decide to go and poke it with a stick. They poke it a few times, the poking gets harder over time and eventually, the crocodile snaps at them.  In fact it chases them back to the safety of their houses, where it sits, watching them all through the night.  In the morning it’s gone, but you can see that it had been walking around in their gardens and had lain outside their bedroom windows.

Shortly after that, the pokings start again.  In fact, the pokings become stabbings.  The old crocodile realises that chasing the kids and scaring them again is pointless, it doesn’t work.  So it waits until night-time and goes back to the children’s houses and eats them. But that’s not where it stops, it eats the other people asleep in the houses too, because they’re there and the crocodile is so caught up in the moment that it feels invincible and it’s convinced that this is the only way to cure the situation in the long-term.  But someone raises the alarm and people come to help, despite the fact that there’s nothing that can be done.  They get eaten too.

All that’s left is to hunt down the crocodile and kill it, because it’s got the ‘Maneater’ label, and everyone knows it’s much easier to eat someone once you’ve already done it once.

You get it right? – It’s an allegory.  It’s not meant to be flippant and I agree that there’s never any excuse for killing someone just because you think they deserve to die.  There’s the whole due process and not being a psychotic religious radical thing to consider first.


But… would the people at Charlie Hebdo still be alive today if they hadn’t continued to ‘poke’ at Radical Islam?

Do you agree that we’re living in a radically different world than we were ten years ago?

Should you broadcast an opinion that you don’t temper with common sense? (Remembering that we come down pretty hard on people we consider to be fascists, fundamentalists and Nazis because of the offence they cause to 'our' way of life)

And lastly, should Ahmed Merabet’s wife have to live the rest of her life alone because some educated men drew some pictures that someone else didn't think were funny?

My thoughts are with the families of Charlie Hebdo employees and contributors who stood up for what they believed in until the end. Elsa Cayat, Bernard Maris, Jean Cabut, Stephane Charbonnier, Philippe Honoré, Bernard Verlhac, and Georges Wolinski.

I do not think I would have done the same.

Also with the families of Frédéric Boisseau - the office’s janitor, Franck Brinsolaro – Charb’s bodyguard, Michel Renauld – a visitor to the office, and Ahmed Merabet – a police officer executed in the street, in front of the world’s press whilst trying to do his job.

All of whom were murdered through no fault of their own.


  • In a perfect world, you would be able to say what you wanted without fear of reprisal. (as long as you remembered that it works both ways)
  • In a perfect world, religious intolerance would be a fairy story, something you added to a bedtime story to prove to your children that things like that really don’t happen.
  • In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to tell yourself that you’re not afraid to leave the house because a fundamentalist of any religion might wander into your bus-queue and detonate himself just because he thinks that you’re an infidel or a heathen or an unbeliever.
  • In a perfect world, you could wave goodbye to your kids in the morning and be 100% sure that you’ll see them again in the afternoon.
  • In a perfect world, your blood wouldn’t run cold every time you heard a siren.

Now read the title of this post again.