Sunday, January 31, 2010


A Tesco store in Cardiff has banned customers from wearing pyjamas while shopping.

Mother-of-two Elaine Carmody, 24, was refused custom when the policy was introduced at the St Mellons store.

Ms Carmody says she can't see how tracksuit bottoms are that different from pyjamas. She spoke to Mark Hutchings.
It is a work of comedy genius.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Modesty Forbids

Social Media provides unprecedented support for Haiti.
The Disasters Emergency Committee’s leading role in fundraising for Haiti in the last two weeks has seen hits on its website jump by 25,000%, Facebook fans increase from 800 to over 15,000 and its twitter influence to be ranked in the top 0.10% of users.
Somebody must have been doing something right.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I see a darkness

Should we let the ICA die? enquires the Thunderer. Given:
“Live arts is now almost non-existent,” says one staff member, “apart from the gay bingo night and even that’s being phased out.
I say yes.

I haven't been there for donkey's years, though I remember catching the hard to find Where the Buffalo Roam in its cinema, and am sure I have an Art Stike badge purchased from its shop somewhere.

Goodness me I'm old.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

traduttore, traditore

For the nine months that the task of translating that novel took me, I followed the Menard method. I tried to be Anthony Burgess. And, more important than that, I tried to act as if Burgess was born in Brazil and had decided to write A Clockwork Orange in Portuguese. Because that’s what it is in the end: every translation is in itself a piece of Alternate History. Every translated novel is the novel that it could have been if its original writer had been born in the country of the translator
Wow, I'd like to read that if someone could translate it back from Portuguese to English again. "This sarcasm - if I may call it such, is very unbecoming of you oh my brothers."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Fifth Pillar of Wisdom

Imagine that you are an old lady from a poor household in a town in the outskirts of Chennai city, India. All you have wanted desperately for the last year and a half is to get a title in your name for the land you own, called patta. You need this land title to serve as a collateral for a bank loan you have been hoping to borrow to finance your granddaughter’s college education.
But there has been a problem: the Revenue Department official responsible for giving out the patta has been asking you to pay a little fee for this service. That’s right, a bribe. But you are poor (you are officially assessed to be below the poverty line) and you do not have the money he wants. And the most absurd part about the scenario you find yourself in is that this is a public service that should be rendered to you free of charge in the first place. What would you do? You might conclude, as you have done for the last 1-1/2 years, that there isn’t much you can do…but wait, you just heard about a local NGO by the name of
5th Pillar and it just happened to give you a powerful ally: a zero rupee note.

Genius, though there is a precedent:
Michael Corleone: Senator? You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hello World

Hola, amigos. How's by you? I know it's been close on 38 horas since I rapped at ya.....
but I've been at helping out at DEC again.

£50 million raised now. I am humbled by the people I've met and what the folks on the ground are doing under trying circumstances.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Binge Thinking

It turns out the fall of man probably didn't begin with an apple. More likely, it was a handful of mushy figs that first led humankind astray.

Here is how the story likely began -- a prehistoric human picked up some dropped fruit from the ground and popped it unsuspectingly into his or her mouth. The first effect was nothing more than an agreeably bittersweet flavor spreading across the palate. But as alcohol entered the bloodstream, the brain started sending out a new message -- whatever that was, I want more of it!

Humankind's first encounters with alcohol in the form of fermented fruit probably occurred in just such an accidental fashion. But once they were familiar with the effect, archaeologist Patrick McGovern believes, humans stopped at nothing in their pursuit of frequent intoxication.

A secure supply of alcohol appears to have been part of the human community's basic requirements much earlier than was long believed. As early as around 9,000 years ago, long before the invention of the wheel, inhabitants of the Neolithic village Jiahu in China were brewing a type of mead with an alcohol content of 10 percent, McGovern discovered recently.
I'm very tempted to bang out some load of old rubbish claiming we have evolved to booze.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sports day

I was up early to take the Bomber to an away fixture at Guildfordians.

After that, we headed back to Whitton for a carvery lunch in the Winning Post, then strolled up the road to watch the Cardiff Blues batter the Harlequins at The Stoop.

A fine rugby day indeed. The only blot on the landscape was that I got home to discover that Stoke had dumped Arsenal out of the FA Cup.

The best we can hope for in football is that Cardiff City knock Chelsea out in the fifth round at Stamford Bridge.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pro Bono

I got tapped up to lend a hand with the DEC Haiti Appeal - which I am happy to do - so I'm off to work there for the day.

I popped in at the end of the afternoon yesterday to be shown the ropes, observed to my satisfaction that they don't waste any of the money they raise on swish offices, an discovered that today will be the first break some of them have had since the earthquake.

From my own reading (unrelated to DEC and anything the good people there have said to me) here's an article to bear in mind when you are watching the TV coverage of the disaster.

Friday, January 22, 2010

On My Tod

Gordon Ramsay was in Kerala for episode three of his "Great Escape" to India, and you can still watch it here for a few weeks.

I remember my experiences in "God's Own Country' with the moonshine version of toddy - a tipple made from the fermented sap of the coconut palm that can be up to 35 per cent proof that he drinks in the show - with wonder and humility

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Savour the moment

Arsenal came from two goals down to beat Bolton 4-2 and go top of the Premier League on goals scored, last night.

My camels sniff the evening and are glad.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bill McLaren RIP

"He’s like a demented ferret up a wee drainpipe."

"He’s like a raging bull with a bad head."

"That one was a bit inebriated – just like one of my golf shots."

"He kicked that ball like it were three pounds o’ haggis."

"The All Blacks that day looked like great prophets of doom."

"My goodness, that wee ball’s gone so high there’ll be snow on it when it comes down.

"He’s as quick as a trout up a burn."

"Those props are as cunning as a bag o’ weasels."

"A day out of Hawick is a day wasted."

*And it’s a try by Hika the hooker from Ngongotaha (Wales v New Zealand 1980).

"I look at Colin Meads and see a great big sheep farmer who carried the ball in his hands as though it was an orange pip."

End of an era.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Small Stakes

Chesterton: A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.

New code on alcohol sales to include ban on drinking games

Crime link as Buckfast revealed to have as much caffeine as eight colas.

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;

I will be in the pub this evening.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hobby Horses

James Parker: I’d say it’s about time that somebody did for the Catholics what Steven Beeber, in 2007’s The Heebie Jeebies at CBGB’s, did for the Jews.

Myself: Eh? I'm not convinced it's long overdue to be brutaly frank.

James Parker: Punk rock, argued Beeber, especially New York punk rock, is a Jewish thing -- in support of which contention he adduced the wit of Lenny Bruce, the poetics of Lou Reed, the dialectic of the Ramones (trust me, there was one), and the complex, fabricated libido of Blondie.

Myself: "Fabricated libido"? Did you ever see Debbie Harry on "Top of the Pops"?

James Parker: Pace Beeber, there was another socio-religious identity at work in New York’s 1970s underculture: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, like Jim Carroll and Andy Warhol, were tribally Catholic.

Myself: "As of course was sufferin’ Jack Kerouac, the grandaddy of them all, with his sacramental visions of homo viator." Why do I waste my time on this rubbish?

James Parker: And after reading Just Kids, Smith’s memoir of the life she and Mapplethorpe shared in pursuit of their respective vocations, you’ll be aware that this is something more than a coincidence.

Myself (sullenly): You appear to have crawled up your own backside; at least Mapplethorpe only ever stuck a bull-whip up his.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Back in Nagasaki

Last week brought us news of the death, at the very ripe and distinguished age of 93, of Tsutomu Yamaguchi. I had been following his career, if only from a distance, for some time. On Aug. 6, 1945, while visiting the city of Hiroshima on behalf of his employer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Yamaguchi sustained serious upper-body burns when a U.S. Air Force B-29 bomber rather jauntily named the Enola Gay dropped the world's first atomic weapon. At least 80,000 people were immediately immolated by the blast and the heat, with perhaps another 60,000 dying of their injuries in the aftermath. Yamaguchi managed to pass the first night in a shelter and then, evidently hoping for a safer and more hospitable environment, to make his painful way back to his hometown. Covering the intervening distance of 180 miles involved him in a journey of about two days, which gave him nice time to adopt an unusual vantage point for the next delivery of an atomic weapon on Nagasaki.


Saturday, January 16, 2010


Now that I'm tidying up the English language, I have decided that the word Aryan has so many and various meanings, and such a convoluted history that it has been entirely worn out.
As an adaptation of the Latin Arianus, referring to Iran, 'Aryan' has "long been in English language use". Its history as a loan word began in the late 1700s, when the word was borrowed from Sanskrit to refer to speaker of North Indian languages
Then, in the 1830s ..... , the term "Aryan" came to be used as the term for the Indo-European language group, and by extension, the speakers of those languages.

By the late 19th century, the notions of an "Aryan race" became closely linked to Nordicism, which posited Northern European racial superiority over all other peoples (including Indians). This "master race" ideal engendered both the "Aryanization" programs of Nazi Germany, in which the classification of people as "Aryan" and "non-Aryan" was most emphatically directed towards the exclusion of Jews.

Hence or otherwise establish "The Aryan Brotherhood".

Amusing as it might be to start using Aryan as an adjective for contemporary Iran , what is outlined above is too much work for three little syllables, and henceforth, I recommend that you treat this abused word with an inflexible rigour of disdain.

Beat it like a red-headed step child.

Friday, January 15, 2010


  1. separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument
  2. come or be in close contact with; stick or hold together and resist separation

Does a verb that can mean either separate or resist separation mean nothing on average?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

when it gets out of order

I can clearly remember seeing Ian Dury for the first time on the old black and white TV up in the loft and being very taken by him sticking the microphone inside his mouth and making a long tuneless hooting sound. So much for the lyrics I suppose, though I'll never forget the extraordinary first line from Plaistow Patricia echoing round the youth club some time later.

The Burglar - much to my surprise - actually went to a gig on the infamous Stiff Tour.

All of which is a round about way of saying that I finally made it to the HMVCurzon, and took in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll over a glass or two of wine. It's the first great film I've seen in this new decade. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rueful Roof Full

With a geranium behind each ear and his face painted with gay cavalistic symbols, six foot eight seventeen stone police seargent Geoff Bull looked jolly convincing as he sweated and grunted through a vigorous triscutine at the Fraga Gogo Viachella.

His hot surge trousers flapped wildly over his enourmous plastic sandals as he jumped and jumped and gyrated towards a long-haired man.

"Uh, excuse me, ma'am, I have reason to believe you can turn me on." He leered suggestively.

As if by magic dozens of truncheons appeared and mercilessly thrashed him.

Poor Geoff, what a turnout for the books.

Snow melting prematurely on a roof could be a clue that the house is being used as a cannabis factory, police say.

Officers in Leicestershire are asking residents to look out for homes where roof-top snow has melted more quickly than on neighbouring buildings.

They said cannabis factories were equipped with high-level lighting, which generates a lot of heat, causing snow and ice to melt.

The force said it hoped to use the cold weather to find more factories.

Exhibit A.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Plan your UK Holiday Now!

NASA's Terra satellite shows the extent of ice and snow covering Britain is the official website for travel and tourism in the UK. Here you can look at maps, destination and city guides, book hotels and B&Bs in the UK through Britain's largest online accommodation directory, find travel and transport information as well as lots of practical travel advice.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chivalry is dead

Gauvain Micaille: Is there among you any gentleman who for the love of his lady is willing to try with me some feat of arms? If there should be any such, here I am, quite ready to sally forth completely armed and mounted, to tilt three courses with the lance, to give three blows with the battle axe, and three strokes with the dagger.

Myself: Nah, sorry mate.

Prodnose: Risk your battle axe for my battle axe? Sling yer hook!

Gauvain Micaille: Now look, you English, if there be none among you in love?

Prodnose: No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Seventy Five Years and a Day

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant sh1t to me you see

Friday, January 08, 2010

To thine own self....

What if... William Shakespeare wrote The Big Lebowski?

Mayhap the very search for sense reveals
The reason that it striketh me as most
Int’resting, yea, inspiring me to odes.
(In couplets first, and then a sonnet brave
As prologue to the tale of this the Knave.
Behold him, then, a-tumbling softly down
To pledge his love immortal to the ground.)
We stray now from fair Albion and from France
And see no Queen of bawdy songs and cheers
And in an angel's city take our chance

How did we ever live without it?

Thursday, January 07, 2010


We took the Bomber and cousins to the Cardiff Blues visit to Swansea to play the Ospreys on New Year's Day.

When the outed Gareth Thomas came on as a replacement in the second half, there was no reaction at all in terms of - um - "gayness" I suppose; no particular booing or cheering or back chat that was at all different to what would greet any other player substitution.

I have decided to neologise "prolophobia" for the chattering classes' condescending attribution of "homophobia" and any number of "anti-social" tendencies to the man and woman in the street; deficiencies which - as we all know - are rampant among ordinary working stiffs but nonexistent in the global dinner party.

So there.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Give 'em the old razzle zazen

The headline "Meditation 'should be routinely available on NHS' this morning has reminded me that the Wii Fit I got the Bomber for Christmas acutally has a Zazen game that - in essence - challenges you to sit still on the Balance Board for as long as you can. Kids seem to be too restless to do this at all, so I can kick his butt at it simply by sitting on mine.

More momentum to the NHS endorses Nintendo Wii Fit video game bandwagon it may seem.

I haven't done much with the package personally, though I did weigh myself and try out some yoga. The feedback showing you your centre of gravity and defying you to keep it still in, say, dandayamana dhanurasana results in a surprisingly challenging experience.

(The Bomber's grandma and grandad also played us at ten pin bowling on the Wii over the holiday. I never, ever expected to see either of them playing a video game, so kudos to Nintendo for that as well.)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

If Not, If Naught, If Nought.

Addressed to our elected representatives, and concerning the most recent "low dishonest decade" this:

If you can’t trim your sails to suit the weather,
If you can’t take yourchance to pass the buck,
If you can’t offer cardboard goods as leather
And then persuade the mugs to buy the muck;
If you can’t work a profitable fiddle
Or cheat the Customs when you’ve been abroad,
If you can’t wangle your returns, and diddle
The Income Tax, yet not be charged with fraud;

If you can’t learn the craft of social climbing
And damn the eyes of those who’re underneath;
If you can’t kid your friend you’re not two-timing,
Then, when it suits you, kick him in the teeth;
If you can’t run a car on public money,
Or have your lunch each day at the Savoy,
You’re going to find that life’s not at all funny,
For, take my tip, you’ll miss the bus, old boy.
In all seriousness, the only bone I can throw you from the last ten years is ..... relax, no one else understood Mulholland Drive either.