Monday, 19 December 2011

Reactions to the death of Kim Jong-il

The world awoke this morning to the shock news that North Korean dictator Glorious Leader Kim Jong-il has died. Upon hearing the news Asian stock markets were plunged into turmoil, and security councils in countries the world over were convened to figure out where this would leave the North Korean dictatorship Glorious Leadership.

It also prompted comments from leaders, politicians and celebrities across the globe. Here is what some of them had to say:

Former president, George W Bush: “When I was told that King Kong was ill in North Koreastan, I almost dropped my cheeseburger. I said to Laura, 'honey, did I send a giant gorilla overseas at any point? I don't remember it, but there was that night at Mel Gibson's party, we all got a bit wasted, and you never know...'. Laura said I didn't, and that's good enough for me. Now, watch this putt”

Herman Cain: “At no point did I ever make any inappropriate suggestions or physical contact with any North Korean dictators. Just ask all the other millions of North Koreans, they'll back me up, they know I'm a standup kinda guy.”

Standing beside Mr Cain, former president Bill Clinton: "I did not have sexual realations with that dictator. Mr Jong-il. Umm, if anyone finds any stains on his shirt, it wasn't me, and ummm, you won't find any cigars lying around. Covered in lube. No siree, none at all... Ummmm... I need to make a couple of calls real quick..."

Rick Perry: “The North Korean dude died? Man, that's too bad. What was his name again... Kim.... ummmmm... the second part was Jong... I don't remember the third part of his name. Is it Kim Jong-EPA?”

Michelle Bachman: “With the death of Kim Jong-II, and the assumption of his son, Kim Jong-III we need to make sure that the conservatives of America join together to make sure that Kim Jong the 3rd doesn't allow same sex marriages, but that all North Koreans have the choice to select whatever light bulb they want.”

Former Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin: “Who?”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnston: “Well, obviously, erm, yes, the Koreans will be, well, indeed, there's a fly buzzing around in here, anyway, yes, Korea, well, what can I say, erm, as Mayor of London I need of course, to make sure that the Olympics are the best ever, and obviously, the beans of choice would be Heinz baked beans, but what was I talking about? Oh, yes, well, Korea, yes, the, erm, man, erm, leader type, Kim... Kim... ummmm, Kim.... Kardashian-il that's the man, yes, well, obviously, he's under a great deal of... oh, he died, well, that's a completely different kettle of fish”

Jeremy Kyle: “Today on my show, 'I am Kim Jong-il's illegitimate love child'. Join us as we try and get DNA samples of the late dictator to see if 15 year old Chantelle, 14 year old Chardonnay and 13 year old Babushka are the result of 3 secret laisons between Kim Jong-il and their mother, Tracy from Essex”

Glenn Beck: “It's no shock to me that Kim Jong-il is dead, after all, the democrats were out to get him just because he was clearly republican – look at the facts, he was a proponent of small government, i.e., just him, you can't get much smaller than that. Besides, Bill O'Reilly once told me that Kim Jong-il once watched one of his holiness St Ronald of Regan's movies. You can't argue with that. What really grinds my gears though is that the liberals will say “Oh, Obamacare would have saved him”. Really? Let's look at the facts, Obamacare costs money, that money could have been better spent by the states, not by the federal government, so the tea party could have decided that (we apologise to our readers, but at this point Mr Beck started foaming at the mouth, and whilst we are used to him not making any sense, we couldn't actually work out what he was saying here, other than the occasional “buy my book, it's all in there”)

Speaking from the local lunatic asylum, Mel Gibson: "He got what he deserved for going out looking like a f**king SLUT! And, you know who killed him. It was the Jews. It's all their fault. That's why no one watches my movies any more, Kim Jong-il said that all my movies were great."  (Mr Gibson did try to say more, but he was dragged back into his cell room by his 'helpers'.)

David Hasselhof: "You can thank me later. Just sit back and watch the power of my music unify the two Koreas, just as it did for Germany back in the day."

South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak: “Balls. Apparently his son is just as batshit tonto as he was. Ain't that a pisser.”

North Korean government spokesman: “We are sad today to mourn the death of our beloved leader, our inspiration and our sole reason for being, Kim Jong-il. He died after playing a round of golf, where he scored a hole in one on every hole, indeed, such was his golfing ability that he managed to play a full 18 holes in just 17 shots once. That's how good he was. Sadly, he was taken from us before his time as he was single handedly beating Godzilla, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, the 1975 Philadelphia Flyers, Hulk Hogan, Muhammed Ali, Jesus, Buddha, Vladimir Putin, the ghost of Jack the Ripper and Chuck Norris at every sport known to man, including team sports, on his own, whilst at the same time proving that he, and only he could in fact, travel faster than light, and using the tip of his penis to crush diamonds, proving that they are not, after all, the hardest substance on earth, if ya know what I'm saying, nudge nudge, wink wink.

Our glorious leader is has already taken over all heavens, and God, Apollo, Zeus, Allah, Zoroaster and all other deities now report to him. Never again will the world see a man such as him. What? His son? Shit. Yeah. Ok, Apart from his son, our new glorious leader, the world will never again see someone such as him, who was able to beat any man, machine or beast at chess, who could solve a rubiks cube in under .05 of a second, just by looking at it, who was the 9 times winner of the Tour de France (the only reason you are just finding that out is because your pathetic western press wouldn't publish the TRUTH! Apart from Fox News. Those guys are ok), who solved AIDS and cancer, neither of which exist in the glorious land of North Korea.

The legend that is Kim Jong-il will live eternally, not even death will hold him, for even from the afterlife he will continue to awe and inspire, as he has already announced that from beyond the grave, he has written the best opera ever, his latest novel “Why the Earth is Shit Without Me” is only not being published because when people read it, they will be so overawed by his majestic grasp of literature, that they would kill themselves out of despair at the knowledge that they will never be even one millionth as much of the man that he was, and indeed, still is. Even dead, Kim Jong-il is still more of a man than the rest of the human race put together.”

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Many, and the Few

Today is Armistice day, the day when we pause to refelct the sacrifice of those who gave all for their country, and who continue to make the ultimate sacrifice to this day. Regardless of your thoughts about the legalities or ethics of the wars being fought today, one can not, and should not, cast any shadow on the dedication and bravery of those who serve.

I wrote a short poem last year, it's not much of a poem, but then I'm not much of a poet. So, dedicated to all who have worn the uniforms of our armed services, past and present...  

The Many, and the Few

We stand here in silence, to pause and reflect
To think about those who deserve our respect
Those who are still in our mind and our hearts
Long after God has called them to depart

Some of them now, passed so long ago
Their memories lie where the poppies now grow
But days do not pass, but their numbers increase
The demon of war not yet ended his feast

The young and the old, the many, the few
Those who will never more feel morning's dew
Their names now inscribed on so sacred a stone
Yet still missed and loved by those left at home

So we think of our brothers, our sisters our kin
Our mothers and fathers, our own blood and skin
We see with our hearts and feel with our tears
Their memory only enhanced by the years

We remember those too, who still here remain
Their innocence lost in that hellish domain
We tend to their wounds and we comfort their cries
And see in them strength, their pain yet defies

Now on this day, we give you our word
That your deeds and actions will always be heard
With pride and with honour we whisper your name
And promise your deeds will not be in vain

Monday, 7 November 2011

Every Home (except mine) should have one...

The following is a paid presentation by, well, me. Why? Why not. I've not written anything for a while, and I thought I'd make use of the advert I wrote trying to sell something on my work's intranet. So, sit back, hold on and prepare to be dazzled...

How often do you get the chance to own a TV star? I'll tell you how often. NOT OFTEN! Well, today is your lucky day. Thanks to a combination of a clever marketing campaign, my need for car insurance, and Compare the Market coming up with the best deal, I am now the lucky owner of a fluffy meerkat, known to his friends as Yakov, to his enemies as Yakov and to those who don't know him as "who?". 

Sadly, due to a clash of personalities, a schism has developed between Yakov and I, and one of us has to leave. Given that I pay the mortgage, I'm staying, but, all is not lost, no, for verily, it means I can now offer you the chance to own your very own, mostly house trained and only semi naked plush meerkat!

Thinking about it, it's kinda messed up that they are happy to send out a meerkat wearing a shirt, tie and waistcoat, yet utterly bereft of any lower body adornments. The little guy is taking 'going commando' to the next level. So, if the thought of sharing your home with a bare-assed meerkat makes you want to curl up in a corner, rocking back and forth saying "what has been seen, cannot be unseen", then Yakov probably isn't for you. Unless you are a dab hand at making teensy-tiny little pairs of trousers, in which case, go for it. 

So, to the nitty and, if you will, the gritty. You are probably reading this thinking "well, like everyone else in the world, I'd love to own a TV star, but he's going to cost at least hundreds, if not thousands of pounds and I work at MGt, I'd have to do a couple of hours overtime to have a spare few hundred". Fear not! For such is my generosity, I am not going to ask £1,000 for Yakov, although he is indeed worth such a sum, indeed, he is worth 10 times such a sum, but, in these austere times, I know that people are looking for a deal. So, not a grand, not £500, not even £100, no, ladies, gentlemen and all those who fall into neither camp, I am going to give you this unique opportunity to own Yakov for just £25. Let me say that in words too, just in case you didn't believe the numbers. Twenty. Five. Pounds. 

Lets look at the reasons you want to own Yakov:

  • Has the easy charm of a toymaker. 
  • Won't keep you up all night chattering like some other meerkats. 
  • Doesn't eat much, indeed, doesn't eat anything which has the added bonus of meaning he doesn't poop either! 
  • Has a shirt, tie, waistcoat and glasses. 
  • If you are a single guy, think of the chat up opportunities! "Hey baby, wanna come home and see my meerkat?" You will be beating them off with the wet end of the proverbial stick with a wet end. 
  • If you are a single girl, think of the chat up opportunities! "Hey handsome, you know, I've got a meerkat at home that would love to meet you". You will have your pick of any guy in town! 
  • If you have kids who are all like "mum/dad (delete as applicable), I want a pet, I want a pet, I want a pet", then your problems are solved! You can go home and say "yo, I got you a meerkat! How's about them apples!" 

Is there a downside to owning Yakov? Apart from the butt-nakedness, none at all!!

So, what are you waiting for. Take this opportunity to not only hown a TV star, but to own a piece of history. When the fables of this age are spoken in tones of hushed reverence, chief amongst them will be the legend of the holy meerkat Yakov, and his human family. Why pass up your chance at immortality?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Brad C Nesbitt... Part 2

Part 2 is a bit shorter than I anticipated. Ok, it's a lot shorter than I anticipated. Sorry. I've not really been in a writing mood today, for a couple of reasons I won't bore you with. Anyway, Brad C Nesbitt... Part II

Later that day...
Angelina was back in her hotel suite, trying to make sense of the contract given to her by Honest Jim.  She was struggling. "Right" she said, "I've read scripts, some didn't make sense but I knew all the words, so this can't be much different". If only she knew.
A transcript of the contract reads:
"Ahm Honest Jim, you're (pit yer ain name here)_____________. You're lookin fir a wean, and ahve gto a wheen o' them, there's aye some jakey got hersel pupped efter gettin' pummeled efter a night on the buckie, so, here's the hampden:
1. Nae names, nae pack drill.  You dinne bother whur the bairn comes fae, ah dinnae bother aboot whit you cry it.
2. Nae backies - when you pit yer scrawl at the bottom o' this, that's you on the hook, ye hand ower the dosh, ye bugger aff wi it, ken.
3. Ahm no a heartless c**t, so ye hiv tae promise that yer no gawny gie the we yin the malky or that, ye'll dae whits richt, eh.
4. Ah say it as ah see it, the bairn ahve telt ye aboot is descibed tae the best o mah ability, but if ah mak a baws o it, then sorry an that, but thems the breaks eh. Mind nummer 2 - ye signs the sheet, ye taks yer chance.
5. If ye happen tae have 'lost' some key 'paperwork' for the wean, likes o burth papers, maybe a cheeky wee NI number or that, then dinnae worry, ah'm sure ahl hae 'copies' in mah secure filing system. If ye need thon, it's a few bob mare like, and ah widnae touch the middle o them till the ink dries.
6. As soon as you leave teh shop, ah dinnae ken you, you dinnae ken me, aye?
7. Breach o any o the above will result in you an yours getting malkied wi a big chib. Ahm no tryin tae pit the shitters up ye, but this here is tongs land eh, and they are heartless bast... bandits when they get the nod, eh.
Noo, when ah tell you the wean is ready to be 'collected', ah'll tell ye where and when, it's no gonny be at the shop, fir, erm, security, ken, the bairn an that, you come alone, you leave with the bairn. You gie me the sheckels, ah gie you the bundle o joy.
Signed: Honest Jim     You:____________________"
After 40 minutes of reading and trying to figure out what the hell it all meant, Jolie gave in. 'Well, what have I got to lose, I'm a celebrity, I'm Hollywood 'a' list, nothing can go wrong'.  With a flourish, she signed the paper, and called her driver to head back to Honest Jim's.
When she got there, Jim was already waiting. "Awright there doll' he said, 'hoozitgaun. Thoucht ah'd see ye back here. Right, ahve fund ye a bairn, maybe a bawhair aulder than ye'd like, but he's a sound wee thing, orphan, puir wee sowel wid hae been left tae fend fir himsel had ah no found him, so seein as he's a wee bit aulder than whit ah imagine you'd be lookin' fir, ahm guessin you'd hae been wantin' wan aboot 3 or 4? Aye, he's a wee wee bit aulder than that, ken, they dinnae call me Honest Jim for nothin', so ahm bein up front wi' yeh, noo, ah cannie say ah ken just hoo auld he is, so ah'll gie ye a discoont, noo, as ye'll have seen, ahm normally lookin fir aboot 10 monkeys, bit ah'll tell ye what, 3 grand, hoos aboot that? Tell ye whit, fir the dosh, ah'll even mak sure he's got aw his papers an that, so you can drive awa wi him the night"
Finally, Jolie thought, a word she recognised.  £3,000 was pretty cheap she had to admit, being honest, she'd had meals which cost more, so 'hey, what the hell, nothing ventured, nothing gained'.  She summoned her assistant got the money, and handed over her signed contract. Jim's eyes lit up when he saw them.  "Ken, it's a braw thing yer doin' here doll, taking a poor we mite, and givin' him a better life. If only there wiz mare like you.  Right, 10pm the night, car park at the House of Sher"
"Oh, wow, I didn't know Cher had a place in Glasgow" said Jolie.  Jim looked confused. "Aye, nae bother doll, this is the address, back car park, ah'll be in a black Ford Sierra, ah'll be the only other yin in there."
They shook hands.  The deal was done.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Brad C Nesbitt...

Introduction (mainly for my overseas readership).

Rab C Nesbitt is the name of a Scottish sitcom based in Govan, Glasgow. The Rab of the title is an unemployed alcoholic delinquent, married to the long suffering 'Mary-doll', and father to two sons, Burnie (deceased) and Gash. It's a comic look at the Glaswegian underclass, and is one of the most popular shows ever produced by BBC Scotland.

When I was out with my friend Mark the other night, I happened to mention that I'd been in Glasgow during the filming of Brad Pitt's movie, and mentioned my confusion as to how it was more economically viable to turn Glasgow into a reproduction of Philadelphia. We came to the conclusion that Glasgow was picked so Angelina could go shopping for a Weegie (vaguely derogatory term for Glaswegian) orphan. That took root in my warped little mind – Brangelina adopt what they are told is an unwanted Weegie baby, only for a 20-something year old ned (Non Educated Delinquent) to turn up, Angelina not having read the adoption pack properly, because it was written in broad Scots, and she couldn't understand it.

Hilarity ensues.

Then, whilst waiting for Mark to return from the bar, the idea struck me that it could be a funny sitcom or comic strip. So, me being me, I had a quick bash at something... I'm not sure the best way to do it properly, part of me thinks a comic strip is the way to go, maybe once I've fleshed out the idea I will...

In the meantime... read on...


Brad and Angelina are recumbent in their luxurious Beverly Hills mansion, but somewhat bored. Brad is reading through a check list, when Angelina asks “what are you doing?”

Brad looks up and says “Oh, I'm just doing an inventory and also thinking about what I'm going to do next, I have some scripts to read through, there's one I like, it's a zombie thing, but it's set in Philadelphia, and we can't get a permit, and we can't go back to Vancouver, you know, after you tired to adopt what you thought was an inuit kid, turned out to be the mayor's mistresses daughter or whatever.” Angelina looks coldly at him “it was an easy mistake to make! Anyway, what are you inventorying?”. Brad goes back to his list “I'm just ticking off the kids – we have a black one, a couple of Asian ones, and a bunch of white ones, I think we have a decent selection. A latino one would be nice, but we can't go back to Mexico because of the time you....” Angelina jumped in, getting angry, “That could have happened to anyone!! How the hell was I supposed to know that midget wresting was all the rage there!” She looked over at the pictures of the kids. “All our white kids are a bit bland... They are all blonde, we need something else, something to match the drapes. Ooooooooh, I know, I watched The Simpsons the other night, they have a Scotch guy on their, Groundskeeper Cocky I think his name was, he had red hair, the drapes are maroon, we need a Scotch kid! They must all be red haired. I know all about Scotchland, they have wild haggises, and all the guys wear skirt things, you know, like you tried once, but somehow they still look like guys, and they fry everything, even their pepsi, I heard that. There's a place called Edinburg, which I think is like Pittsburgh, so it stands to reason that if that's like Pitts, then the other city... ummm... I think it's called Glass Cow, something like that anyway, that's gotta be like Philly. Call your agent”.

Brad looked up, ready to challenge her, before recognising the look in her eyes. There was no point. If he wanted sex again this side of the rapture (which, he thought at times like these, couldn't come quick enough) then he had no choice. “Ok” he sighed, “Get number 4 to get me the phone”. “Brad! They have names you know!!”. Brad looked over. “Ok, tell me the name of kid number 4?”. Angelina thought for a second. “Ok, you win this time! FOUR!!!! GET DADDY THE PHONE, we're going to Scotchland!”

Several Months Later

Glasgow is in turmoil. When the city council got a letter from a fancy Hollywood studio asking if they could essentially shut down the city centre of the biggest city in Scotland, the only question they asked was “how long fir, and how much are ye givin us, cash wise?”. Once that was sorted out, which was done in record time, it was all systems go.

With Brad safely ensconced in his trailer, Angelina went shopping. Her first, and as it would turn out, only stop was “Honest Jim's Emporium of Second Hand Children”, which was purported to be “the best place tae get yer new and used bairns”, if only by 'Honest' Jim himself. He couldn't believe his luck when Angelina Jolie turned up one day to ask for a look at the catalogue. This surprised Jim, mostly because he didn't have a catalogue, but, in the fashion of the Glaswegian wide-o that he was, he wasn't long in making up a tale to tell. “Ach, hen, I'd love tae gie you a swatch, sorry, a gander, sorry hen, ah dinnae get many Septics in here, eh, sorry, you'll no ken 'the patter', it's a bit like the pish they spout in London, the auld cockney slang and that, only oors is hunners better. So, a septic tank, is a yank, see”. Jolie was confused, but thought to herself, well, this guy is as Scotchish as I'm going to get, so I must be on to a winner” By this time, Jim's weasel mind had started to work overtime. “Aye, see what it wiz, have jist been able tae get that many bairns shifted, ye ken whit it's like, ye shift a bairn on tae some cun... erm.. couple, they are that made up, they tell their pals, so they want yin tae, then they tell aw their pals, before ye ken, yer firin' oot bairns left right and centre”. Angelina looked crestfallen. “Does that mean you don't have anything up for adoption just now? I've got my heart set on a poor Scotchish red haired orphan”. Jim scratched his chin. “Ah'll see whit ah can dae for ye. Come back here the morra and I'll sort ye somethin oot.”

The Next Day

Right on cue, Angelina wandered into Honest Jims. “Ah, Ms Jolie hen, it's your lucky day, Honest Jim has pulled oot aw the stops and ah've got ye a red haired orphan. It's a boy, he'll be ready by the end of the day, aw a need ye tae dae is hae a gander at the contract, sign yer name, hand over the dosh, and the lucky young fella is yours tae tak hame wi ye the night!”

Jolie's eyes lit up. “Can I have a look at him?”. Honest Jim looked her right in the eye and said “See, if it wiz up tae me hen, absolutely, but see, it's the Scottish parliament, they hiv this thing aboot discrimination, you might have seen something aboot it in the paper”. Angelina actually did, “Oh yeah, I read this morning that there's some kind of problem with the Rangers and the Celtics, although I thought one was a hockey team and the other a basketball team, so I don't know what that is all about”. “Aye hen, that's the hing, there's a lot of that going aboot, so the government, see, they are trying to make it hard on honest traders like my good self, I'd be all for letting you have a gander at the young fella, but then I'd be breaking the law see, at the same time they said we couldnae hae a fag in the boozer, all of a sudden we couldnae let guid folks like yersel see the bainr before hand, cause see, you might be a Rangers wumman, and the bairn might come fae a Celtic family, so then you'd be all “och, ahm no havin' a Celtic bairn”, and then cause I let you see it, then I'd get the jail for putting you in that tricky position, so ye see hen, it's aw doon tae the government”.

“Ok” said Angelina, “I kinda see where you are coming from, but hey, you advertise yourself as honest, and you are certainly Scotchish, so yeah, let me read the contract and if that's all good, I'll sign”.

Honest Jim smiled his best, gap-toothed smile. “Nae bother doll. Gie me two shakes of the old tallywhacker, I'll be right back...”


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

To sleep, perchance to dream...

Dreams are strange things. At least mine are. To call them abstract would be doing them a disservice. For the vast majority of the time I can't remember my dreams, I keep meaning to leave a notepad and pen at the side of my bed, but every now and again, I have a dream of such bizarre majesty that it remains imprinted upon my psyche long enough for me to remember at least the key points.

Take last night, for example. I had one of my more strange dreams. I don't remember many of the details, but unusually I do remember some. The summary would be thus:

I was in a band, and we were playing with Slayer. We had got to the end of the set, and we started playing Reign in Blood (I remember a set of stepladders being involved for some odd reason) and we were playing with such ferocity and intensity, that we essentially destroyed the planet. All was not lost, however, as we were given the chance to terraform the planet again. The next thing I remember was wandering around the planet (which was now the size of a large field), trying to find the incorporeal beings who were busy rebuilding the planet (at an enhanced pace). These beings were busy knocking together some pyramids, but were open to my ideas. Before I knew it, the planet was covered in grass and some trees were starting to sprout, and I was in negotiations with the planet next door, trying to get them to flood a field so I could use it to irrigate my planet. I don't remember much else, other than there was a giant toad which was evolving into something else, someone (I think it may have been Tom Araya from Slayer) tried to catch it, and it evolved in mid-hop, so all that was left in the other guy's hand was one giant toad leg.

I've had other strange dreams which I still remember fleeting glimpses of, such as the dream where I shaved a gorilla (a big gorilla at that!), the dream where I was elected Pope, despite telling everyone that I wasn't religious, let alone catholic, but they wouldn't listen, and then, as I was preparing for the Urbi et Orbi speech so favoured by new popes, the devil tried to break into my office at the Vatican, and I remember standing there with my papal staff, wearing the big hat and all the vestments, banging my staff on the floor as the devil tried to break the doors down, and giving it my best Gandalf-like “By the power vested in me, you shall not enter!”. I don't remember anything after that, but I'm going to assume that I defeated the devil and went on to become a great and respected pope. Can you imagine me as pope... It really doesn't bear thinking about.

The other dream I remember is probably the most interesting and thought provoking dream I can remember having. A few months ago, I woke up having had the most vivid dream I could ever recall, and the memory was in a level of detail I don't normally have. The dream started with my death, which in itself is not as unusual as people think, people often have dreams which involve the shedding of their mortal coil, psychologists and dreamologists (a word I would like to think I've just made up, but I'm sure there are people, somewhere, who refers to themselves as dreamologists) say that it refers to a desire for change, self discovery, some kind of transformation, and who knows, they may even be right. Anyway, I died, and then found myself, still recognisibly me, in a graveyard which was filled with glowing balls of light, which at first frightened me, and I tried to run away from them but was then given the knowledge (I know not how) that the lights weren't to be feared, but embraced, so I stopped running and turned around to start walking through the graveyard (which was the graveyard at Dunfermline Abbey). As I walked through, the lights moved away to let me pass, until I came to one particular light which didn't move, and I somehow knew that I was to walk into the light, which I duly did. I clearly remember the light enveloping me, and I then (in the dream) closed my eyes for what somehow felt like just a second, and an eternity at the same time. When I opened my eyes again I was in 'spirit' form and was looking at a 6 month old baby in a supermarket, the baby's dad was standing behind the pram, as it's mother was bagging groceries at the checkout. I then remember, with staggering clarity, instinctively knowing that my spirit or soul (call it what you will) was there to inhabit the body of the baby so that the circle of life could start again. I also knew instinctively that the reason I was about to merge with a 6 month old baby, was that it took 6 months after birth for the baby's neural pathways to mature to a point where they could handle having a soul. I clearly remember my incorporeal form dissolving and melting into the baby I was looking at. The baby closed it's eyes as I disappeared into it's head, and then when it opened them again, it was me looking through them, looking up at my new parents, knowing that I would never consciously remember my previous existence, but that somewhere, somehow, the me that is here at the moment, would always be there, along with all the souls which formed part of the current me.

I'm not, as I have already stated, religious, nor am I any kind of spiritual, but I remember waking up at the end of that dream with a sense of unusual calm and peace. It was the most bizarre sensation.

It certainly was different from dreams of gorilla shaving!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Unwritten Rules

It is accepted that to live in an ordered and civilised society, we need rules and regulations, laws by which we live. After all, to quote the great mage Al Murray, where would we be if we lived somewhere with no laws? That's right, France.  Not all of these rules, however, are written down, some are passed through the generations by words and deeds, some are just inherent. I shall describe some for you now.

1. Thou Shalt Not Nail Thy Best Friend's Ex or Sister

This is one of the inherent ones. It's just a no-no.  There is one, and only one exception - you may, with clear conscience sleep with your best friend's sister, if you were already sleeping with her before you became best friends, in other words, if you were introduced to your best friend by his sister, whom you were already making the beast with two backs with, that's fine. In all other circumstances, absolutely not.  There is never any instance where it is permissible to bang your best friend's ex, regardless of how long ago they were together (please note, by 'ex' I mean someone he's gone out with for a period of time, if it's just a former FANTA (one of life's great acronyms, meaning 'F**k And Never Touch Again'), then still best avoided, but permissable.

2.   Thou Shalt Not Cry at Chick Flicks

For a start, I'm going to assume that you are watching a chick flick with your other half, and even then only on the understanding that there will be a suitable naughty reward at the end of it. Anyway, yeah, don't cry.  Don't get caught into the trap of thinking "it will show her how sensitive I am", your GF doesn't want that, for sensitivity she will have her female friends, or gay male friends, no, if you cry at a chick flick (yes, even Marley and Me, which I'm lead to believe was sad, not having seen it) then you are one step away from blubbing during Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, or News at Ten. No one wants a man who cries at random TV shows.

3.  Toilet Etiquette At Work

Few people realise just how complex toilet etiquette at work really is.  There are so many rules, guidelines, things you must do, things you must never do, it would probably take an entire blog on it's own to list them all, so I will stick with the main ones.

* Location, Location, Location

Where possible, you must always leave a cubicle between you, and any other occupant. Same for urinals. If you are first in, then you must take a cubicle/urinal at the end of the row, maximising the opportunities for gap-leaving should someone else come in, for example:

|  X  |       |  Y  |       |  Z  |

If you are first in, you take position X.  If you are second in, you take position Z, and if you are 3rd, then the only permissible position left for you is Y.  Experienced toilet goes who come in to find positions X, Y and Z already filled are adept at finding ingenious ways of passing time until one of the positions becomes vacant, the true experts can make it look like the whole reason for their trip to the toilet was to check their tie was straight, pluck an imaginary stray hair from their nostrils, wash their hands, making it look like having a slash/dump, was a mere afterthought.  It is acknowledged that desperate times call for desperate measures, so, if the call of nature is more of a scream, then you may assume one of the normally prohibited positions.

* Consider Others

If you are making a sizeable deposit, or if it is a particularly vicious ring-stinger, then it is the custom to employ the technique known as a 'courtesy flush' after the first 10 minutes, thus ensuring that the noxious vapours don't disturb other patrons too much.

* No Small Talk

One of the biggest faux pas one can make in a communal lavatory is to try and engage in small talk. At no point is it acceptable to conduct a conversation within the confines of the lav.  If you are at the sink, washing your hands a cursory nod and monosyllabic grunt of acknowledgement will suffice.  It can't be stated enough that, unless it is for reason of dire emergency, invoking any kind of communication whilst in a cubicle or even worse, standing at the urinal, is one of the most cardinal of sins.

There are only 2 exceptions to this rule. If your trip to the cubicle has been particularly virulent, and you failed to undertake your pre-dump checks and are only noticing now that you are out of paper, then it is permissible to request some, however, this must be in the form of a general request, and not explicitly directed to the adjacent cubicle.  An example of what is permitted:

"Och, there's nae f**kin paper in here, someone fling me a roll ower the door, eh" (if the particular establishment you are visiting doesn't provide rolls, rather individual sheets, then you can say "... gawny goan shove some sheets under the door").

And, forbidden would be:

[knock on the cubicle wall] "Haw pal, you goat ony paper in there you can geez a shot of".

If the adjacent cubicle has an occupant (in line with the occupancy rules identified above) and he is addressed directly, if he is one who adheres to the laws of the loo, he will ignore your direct request.  However, any man who is in the bog and hears a general request for paper, is obliged to reply. After all, one day, it could be you.

* Eyes Front and Centre

If you are standing at a urinal and the one next to you happens to become occupied, then you must not make anything even vaguely like eye contact with the occupant - after all, he won't want to be right beside you any more than you want him to be where he is. Find a spot on the wall, at eye level and immediately in front of you and focus upon it with a stare of such intensity that there is a risk the tiles may fracture out of sheer awkwardness.

There is never, and will never be, any excuse for casting your eyes upon any part of the physiology of your unfortunate neighbour.  Even when you have finished that task in hand (so to speak!), you must shake and return the python to it's lair without casting as much as a glance anywhere other than the point on the wall which has been your focus of attention throughout. Then, when all is done, you may leave the locale of the urinal, you must turn away from your neighbour, and head straight for the sink, having picked one out and focussed upon it for the duration of the journey.

If you are stuck in the middle, and you finish first, then basically, you are screwed, it would serve you right for not adjusting the flow to do all in your power to ensure that one of your co-urinators finishes first.

* More Than 2 Shakes...

One must ensure that when shaking the old tallywhacker at the end of a shift, that one doesn't go overboard. Ideally, you want a maximum of amplitude, with a minimum of wavelength, in other words, short but vigorous! A couple of shakes should prove to be sufficient, you must be wary of being one of those who stands there for 30 seconds or more, furiously thrashing his member back and forth like he was trying to use it as a helicopter rotor.  The male rule of thumb is thus - Anything more than 2 shakes, is a w*nk!

There are rules a plenty still to come, so check back for the next instalment!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Move over Delia...

For dinner tonight, I had very nice scrambled eggs, with ham, mushroom, onion grated cheese, and spiced up a little with a healthy dose of turmeric, mixed herbs, the ubiquitous salt (sea salt, of course) and pepper, served with a salad.  Yeah, check me, healthy as shit huh!

It was very nice, although I have to be honest, and say that I was aiming for an omelette, it turned into scrambled eggs when it became clear that the whole omelettey idea wasn't quite panning out as I planned.  The last time I tried to make an omelette (as an aside, has that first 'e' always been there in omelette?? I could have sworn it was spelled omlette... maybe that's the American way (although I'm sure that's omlet - maybe I'm just getting senile)) it wound up being the consistency of something Jenson Button could have thrown on his car and driven round the track. Let's face it, the fat lad here, can't do omelettes.

I like to cook, occasionally, although as my eggy disasters demonstrate, I'm not what you'd call a culinary master. I like to blame the tiny tiny kitchen my flat has, but in reality, I'm just not a great cook, although part of me for some reason, and despite all evidence pointing to the contrary, thinks that I could be a decent cook.

I need to cook more - part of my being the size of a manatee is down to my living for years on pizza, curry, Chinese takeaways, chip shop food, basically everything that is bad for me, in portions which would have choked a horse. I have to admit, I'm finding it hard to get out of the mindset which says "ach, stuff it, I'm phoning the Spice of Life for a carry-oot", although I know it would be much better for me. Take tonight's repast - pretty healthy, ok, eggs are high in cholesterol, but there are worse things, cheese is high in fat, but I didn't have that much, the processed ham would have been better had it been something, well, something not processed, but other than that, fresh onion, fresh mushroom, cooked with a mere waft of extra virgin olive oil in the pan, and to top it all, a salad. Yeah, you read that right, salad. It may not have been what I was planning to make, but what eventually got served up was pretty tasty (if not pretty on the plate!) and I liked it.

I have a whole list of things I want to try cooking, high amongst them at the moment is Chicken Adobo, which is a Filipino dish, involving chicken, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, soy sauce, a vague concoction of spices, served on rice.  It sounds interesting, and most importantly, fairly straightforward, which is essential with me!

I do a decent attempt at a chilli, when I put my mind to it, with my (not so) secret ingredient - a glass of bourbon thrown in as it's bubbling away. I picked that tip up from a chef in a Mexican restaurant in the US.  I don't like kidney beans (the legume of Beelzebub) so I use normal haricot beans in their stead, and throw in some mushrooms to bulk it out, and generally, it's pretty darn good, although I never seem to get portions right, so any time I wind up making chilli, it tends to be what I have for dinner every night.  For the next month.

I will cook more, I have decided.  I liked making my simple meal tonight, it's inspired me to try other stuff.

I'll keep you updated!

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Gift of Quality

I've been on something of a West Wing marathon tonight.  The only DVD box set I have is The West Wing, and every now and again I'll wind up picking a few episodes and watch them.  Every time I do, I'm struck by just how well written and acted everything is.  As far as I'm concerned, it's the zenith of TV drama.  It has characters you buy into, stories which engage you, dialogue which is just fantastic, and is far and away, my favourite TV show, pretty much ever.

Watching the West Wing also makes me feel a little bit down.  Why?  Because I know I'll never create anything of that quality in my life.  It's something of a recurring theme for me, my ambitions are sadly not matched by my ability.  As I've said before in a blog, I've always had a vague idea that I'd like to be a writer, sadly, my literary skills are, at best, poor, at worst, embarrassing. I don't have the imagination of a Pratchett or Gaiman, I don't have the knack of writing witty and engaging prose of a Bryson. Sucks to be me, huh!

I have ideas all the time, I could be driving along the road and snippets of dialogue will occur to me, I could be thinking about something, or someone, and I will have imaginary conversations in my head, but somehow, when I try to write these down and then spin them into something coherent, it just doesn't happen for me.

Something similar happens when I press the button on my camera. I have ideas for grand images in my head, but somehow, when I come to take the picture, I just can't make the jump.  The effect is that reviewing my pictures tends to be an exercise in constant disappointment.

I fear, I am doomed to live a live of mediocrity. I am able to string a few words together, every now and again I get something decent, but for the vast majority of the time, my writing is bland, and very, very average.  Same with photographs, every now and again I will come up with something good (as can be seen with the photoshoot I did a couple of weeks ago, I actually got a few good shots out of it, which is something of a first for me, although that was mostly down to the model rather than me), but it's mostly very much 'meh'.

I am very jealous of those who are touched by genius, those who are able to write well, take amazing photographs, write beautiful songs. I wish I was one of them.

Sadly, I am not.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Projects, projects everywhere, and Still my Mind did Shrink...

I've got it into my head, that I need another project, something else to do. Despite Operation Diet 2.0 being on the go, despite my practicing for The Portraits, despite my finally picking up my camera and firing it in anger for the first time in months, the compound manner of my mind is working to persuade me that I need to do something else.

For months (actually, probably years), I've had a notion of writing and filming a short movie. As it stands it would be a very short movie, lacking as it does script, actors, or indeed, camera upon which to film.  I don't have any firm ideas for a movie, no thoughts of a plot, settings, characters or anything else, other than the desire to do it. This desire has been joined of late to make some kind of 'webumentary' (which I'm sure has to be an actual word by now, if it isn't, you read it here first, folks!) series, although again, I'm not sure what about, although I did have a vague idea that doing a 'Rough Guide to Fife' might be fun.

The idea would be to drive around Fife, go to some of the little villages which never really get mentioned (and of course, those who do) and just do a 5-10 minute piece on some interesting, and hopefully funny, facts about the place.  This idea was inspired in no small part by Anstruther. Home of the famous chippy.  Not only is Anstruther (or Ainster, if you are a local) famous for the Anstruther Fish Bar (which has been visted by royalty, Hollywood superstars and, of course, me), but it was, in the 18th century, also the home of 'The Beggar's Benison', or to give it it's full name, The Most Ancient and Most Puissant Order of the Beggar's Benison and Merryland, Anstruther. It was a gentleman's club, devoted to 'the convivial celebration of male sexuality', so in other words, a good old shaggin' club!  It had the worthies of the locale as it's members, and would meet to dine, to drink and to swap bawdy tales, review the cub stock of pornography. Remember, these were the dark days before the Internet, before VCRs, before 8mm projectors, hell, before Daguerrotypes, even (as an aside, how long do you think it was after Louis Daguerre invented his photographic process before he was round at a local girl's going "awww, come one, it'll be artistic, honest, I won't show them to anyone else, you can keep your skirt on, just whip your top off...").  The club also had "Posture Girls" who were there for the members to look at. Anyone think that look was all they did? Nah, me neither.

One of the most bizarre rituals was the initiation of new members, which involved, I'm sure amongst much else, the new initiate to be 
"...prepared in a closet, by causing his penis to be propelled to full erection. When it was thus ready, he was escorted with with four puffs of the breath-horn before the brethren and Knighthood, and was ordered by the Sovereign to place his genitals upon the Testing Platter, which was covered by a folded white napkin. The members and Knights two and two came round in a state of erection, and touched the novice tip to tip..."
Needless to say, you don't get that carry on at the local golf club!  It's these stories and anecdotes which I think are worth telling. Little snippets of history, which show some of the characters of the time. Another example would be a little known nail-maker from Easy Wemyss, who, when his livelihood was ruined by the industrialisation of the nailmaking industry, upped his family and decanted them into one of the famous Wemyss Caves in the 18th century.

The more I think about it, the more I quite like the idea. It would give me the chance to do some research, find out some interesting but pointless trivia (something which I'm sure everyone who knows me will agree, I have some kind of innate capacity for pointless trivia!), and who knows, something vaguely entertaining may come out as a result.

Anyone fancy joining me on this little venture?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

On this Day...

September 11, 2001, is a day which will resound through history, it is the 'day of infamy' of our generation.

No one will forget where they were when the attacks happened - I was in a meeting at work, which was eventually postponed so that we could go for security briefings (I worked for a defence manufacturing company at the time).  I remember watching the news on the big TV in the foyer in a stunned silence, unable, and perhaps unwilling, to believe what I was seeing.

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the US. I love visiting the US, I had a long relationship with an American girl (who is also the only one of my exes I'm still on speaking terms with), if I though I could get a visa, I'd be on a plane tomorrow.  I remember watching the news feeling in turns sad, angry, disbelieving, incredulous, a whole tumult of emotions. I knew lots of Americans, both through work, and socially, and I knew that no matter what I felt, I wouldn't be feeling a fraction of what they were going through.

It doesn't seem like 10 years ago - I remember the feelings I had driving home, I remember thinking that the world had changed.

I'm not the worlds greatest poet, I'm not even average, I'm poor at best, but every now and again, I get the desire to write something.  I've created a little tribute to the victims of that terrible day.  I wish it were better, a better and more fitting tribute to them, but sadly, my meagre talents prevent it being so.  Nonetheless, I want to give it, regardless of it's poor standard, on this day, I feel it's important to show any tribute to them.

We turn our eyes unto the heavens 
Our thoughts out to the stars
We turn our memories to who were lost
Our anger at the scars
At 8:46, the world did change

The horror played out on TV 
But some how not yet real 
Our souls filled with the eerie sound 
Of silence after destruction's peal 
At 9.03, the world did change

Reality returns, we realise what's seen 
So we stood in awe, and we stood in fear 
We asked ourselves 'why'
Thinking of those that we hold dear 
At 9.37, the world did change

We will not forget them 
Though we may not know their names 
Honour the sacrifice of all those who 
Stood tall and railed against the flames 
At 9.59, the world did change

The darkness of the world unleashed 
The evil that men do 
But a nation great was so misjudged 
For pride and courage were born anew 
At 10.03, the world did change

2977 lives were lost 
2977 no longer see the morn' 
2977 stars new in the sky 
2977 angels born 
At 10.28, the world did change

10 years have passed, both quick and slow 
What was seen that day, never forgot 
The rending of our innocence 
We'd turn back time, but we cannot 
On 9/11, the world did change
 They won't be forgotten. My thoughts to them. My thoughts to the United States of America.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

One Adventure Ends - Another Begins!

Hello blog, it's been a while! I've not been ignoring you, I've just been busy. First, there was Operation Decorate, which was hectic, but is getting there, then I had my own Royal Visit.

As readers of my FB will know, I've had friends from the USA staying with me for a few days, which has been immense. Having Ann-Marie and Susan here has been great, it's been a whole heap of fun.  They are two of the nicest, most fun people I've had the pleasure of meeting for a while.  Ladies, thank you for your company for the past few days, I've said this to you, but it bears repeating, any time you feel like coming back to Scotland, it would be my pleasure to be your host again!

Having the two ladies around has made me realise things, both about the country in which I live, and about myself.

Scotland is not without it's faults, meteorologically, socially, economically, politically, and there is a lot you could say about Scotland in a negative way, with much justification.  I was as guilty as anyone of being somewhat jaded about Scotland, and life here (and I still am), but having the girls around has made me realise that there is stuff to be positive about. It seemed like every time we crested a hill, or turned a corner, the girls would look out of the car window and be genuinely delighted with what they saw - be that from the top of the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh (which as an aside, is immense, if you get the chance, go!), as we were driving along the coast of Fife from St. Andrews, from Loch Lomond, to the convoluted journey (replete with speeding ticket, sadly!) to the Antonine Wall, they obviously loved what they were seeing, and it's impossible for that uninhibited enthusiasm not to rub off, and I started trying to look at Scotland through their eyes, which was easier in some places (such as Loch Lomond and the trail to the Antonine Wall, neither of where I'd been before) than it was in others, but it did make me think - for all it's numerous issues, Scotland does have some good points, it's got a history to rival any other, and when you look past the social issues, it actually has a culture which is the envy of countries the world over.  Look at the Fringe - people come from all over the world to perform, to watch, to just be there.  There are Scottish societies the world over, celebrating Scots history, Scots culture, the impact this tiny little country has had all over the known world.

That influence is much larger than many, including most Scots, give it credit for. Look at some of the things Scots either invented outright, or had a key hand in.  Everyone knows about Bell's telephone, Baird's TV, Watt's steam engine, even Carnegie Steel, but fewer know about Smith's 'Wealth of Nations' (outside of economic circles anyway), that Pittsburgh was founded by William Forbes, from Dunfermline, Dunlop's pneumatic tyre, the modern seismometer, the Banks of England and France, the US Navy, ultrasound and MRI scans, the RAF and many, many more.  When you dig into it, the influence of what should, in all reality be an insignificant little land, never numbering more than about 5,000,000 inhabitants at it's peak, is astounding.

Scotland does also have some amazing architecture, some gorgeous scenery, so you know what, it's not all bad.  So, thank you ladies, for opening my eyes a bit to my home and native land!

The second mini-revelation which came as a result of my guests, was the stark realisation of just how lonely I am. I'm used to living on my own, and I'm not going to lie, I was wondering how I'd react to having to share 'my' space with not one, but two others. Well, it was great. It was a huge reminder of how much more fun life is when you are sharing it with other people. When we were out and about, we had fun, lots of laughs, and it was surprising how quickly we got into a routine of getting home, getting dinner, and settling down to find a movie which we'd then have fun watching, usually taking the piss out of some cheesy dialogue, or plot hole, or whatever. My house, for the first time, literally, in years, felt alive. It felt like a home, rather than just a collection of walls and furniture. It was a bit of a surprise to me, just how quickly I got into having them around, and just how much I enjoyed it.

So, I've made some decisions. I don't want to spend life on my own any more, so I need to make changes to have any chance of my current situation changing. First and foremost, I need to change me. A little bit mentally, but mostly physically. I'm never going to be a particularly attractive man, I'm under no illusion about that, but, I need to stop making things worse by being fat.  Last year I did ok, I lost some weight, and seemed to be getting somewhere, this year has, so far, been a disaster.  I've certainly not lost any more weight, I've more likely put some back on.  This has to change. So, I am resolved to get myself back to the gym, get back into a routine of doing cardio (and Ian, I'm going to need your help here, big fella!  I'm going to need help making sure I stay on the straight and narrow with diet and exercise!).  I want to lose at least a stone (14 lbs) by Christmas, ideally more. By next summer, I want to have lost another 4 stone (56lbs).  That's my target.  If any one wants to help and be part of my support mechanism, please feel free to let me know!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Once Upon A Time....

Everyone knows the story. Mary had a little lamb. One day, she went up the same hill Jack and Jill were so fond of, and there was some kind of disagreement.  At the time, no one really knew what went on up there, other than three people went up that hill, but only two came back down again. 
This is the story of that fateful day, as told to Humpty Dumpty, Jack's best friend, who confided in the Grand Old Duke of York, chief of police (with a force of 10,000 officers)  just before he took his own life by jumping from a wall.
What started as a day like any other, ended with tragedy.  Jack, a loner from the wrong side of the tracks, had a long history of trouble, and a police file the length of Pinnochio's nose.  Jill was a young and impressionable grade A student who lived a quiet, unassuming life in the expensive Little Star area of town. 
Looking for some excitement into her life, Jill and her friends snuck out one night to head to the bright lights of the London Bridge area, the part of town where men are men and sheep are nervous. Along side the 'Pat-a-Cake' bakeries and the famous Miss Muffet's Curds & Whey restaurant, London Bridge had a seedier side, being split between two mafia legends, George "Georgie" Porgie, and "Simple" Simon Pieman.  Don't be fooled by the nickname, there was nothing simple about this crime overlord. 
Jack had been a low level associate of Georgie for some time, and made a decent living smuggling vinegar and brown paper.  whilst Mary occasionally worked for Simon, sometimes moving illicit wool, sometimes, when times were hard, Simon would pimp her out.  It wasn't a good life, but it was all Mary knew.
Mary and Jack had known each other since they were thrown together in the tumult which followed the brutal assassination of 'Cock' Robin, who ruled the London Bridge underworld with an iron claw. Everyone knew that the assassin was that shady figure known only as 'Sparrow', but no one knew anything about him.  Immediately after the assassination, GoD York announced a curfew and his men started kettleing the crowd into zones, for their own 'protection'.  It was in one of these zones that Jack first met Mary.  They had seen each other around but never spoke until that day.  the chemistry between them was instant, and they had so much in common, both came from broken homes, both had seen the seedy underbelly of London Bridge.
For the next few weeks, Jack and Mary were inseparable. living the life of grifters, making money any way they knew how. The good times ended though, with the rise of the new crime lords, all eager to get their hands on what was left of Robin's empire. Nature abhors a vacuum they say, crime certainly does. Before long the streets of London Bridge were awash with blood. Crime was rampant, GoD York's forces were stretched to, and then past, their limits, so when two factions started to grow as they either assimilated or annihilated the opposition, the police started to turn a blind eye. Sadly for Jack and Mary their families aligned themselves with the opposite factions. In a dramatic twist of irony, worthy of Shakespeare himself (who incidentally never signed his name Shakespeare, despite there being 6 copies of his signature, no two of which spelled his name the same) Jack was a Capulet whilst Mary was a Monatgue.  As their families got drawn deeper and deeper into the underworld, Jack and Mary's relationship, which by then had already started to unravel strained to breaking point.
It is said that the day of their parting was marked by ominous portents.  In the meadow, Bo Peep, a shepherdess found that her sheep had vanished, Ma Hubbard's body was found on that day, starved to death, whilst the police found themselves investigating an infanticide. Someone had placed an unnamed child in a cradle upon the bough of a tree. The weather that day, was stormy, causing the cradle to start to rock in the tree, and it was this motion, coupled with the razor sharp blade which had been put on the cradle's feet to secure it into the tree, combined to cause a structural failure of the bough. Gravity did the rest.
As time passed, the new crime lords more or less carved up the city between them.  Each wanted to get their paws on the other half, but after the savagery of the free for all following Robin's murder, both were content to replenish their forces. For now.
Jack was a born smuggler, and before long Georgie was in control of 80% of the vinegar which hit the streets, selling for up to a sixpence a time. Georgie was a cruel drug baron though, not content with charging a sixpence for the hit, he liked to humiliate the poor addled junkies, and made them sing for it.  Eventually, he worked out a way to refine the vinegar even more, and called the new poison 'rye'. Before long the underclass of London Bridge rang to the sound of junkies singing their song of sixpence, to leave with their pockets foll of rye.
Mary never really got over Jack, and grew more and more bitter. Eventually she formed a relationship of sorts with George "Goosey" Gander, which came an an abrupt end following Gander's brutal slaying of an old man who, the court heard, annoyed Gander by refusing to say his prayers. Mark found herself alone once again.
Jill had the misfortune to bump into Jack that night as she and her friends wandered around London Bridge, wide eyed and agog at a part of the world they didn't even know existed. Speaking later, Jill's best friend Mary Contrary remarked "It was like being in another country. There were people drinking, filth everywhere, people passed out in doorways, everywhere you looked there seemed to be some sort of fight, we just weren't prepared for this". Jill was a beautiful girl, and with her clean clothes and youthful glow, she stood out more than Jack Horner's plum encrusted thumb. Mary said that she, Jill and the rest of their group were the focus of a lot of attention.
Jack could be charming when he wanted to be, and soon set his charms in motion on Jill, who had been brought up in such a sterile environment, she was easy prey for Jack.  It wasn't too long before Jill started making more and more secret trips to London Bridge, spending more and more time with Jack. One day, Jill realised that she had missed her period.  All of a sudden, her regular bouts of sickness in the morning made sense. Jill was panicked and ran to Mary's house. The two best friends talked it over. Despite Mary trying to dissuade her, Jill went to London Bridge to tell Jack the news. Jack wasn't expecting to see Jill in the daytime, but agreed to go up Duke of York hill, where Jill gave him the news.  Jack didn't know what to think. In his confusion he didn't see a shadowy shape in the undergrowth.
Jill wasn't the first girl Jack had taken up the hill (in more ways than one), and following the incarceration of Goosey, Mary decided to go up there, to try and cast her mind back to happier times. When she got there, she saw Jack with Jill and flew into a murderous rage.  She bided her time, knowing full well that Jack was of the habit of getting himself a pail of water when he was near the natural spring which gurgled at the top of the hill. When his back was turned, Mary sprang out of her hiding place, and struck Jill a merciless blow across the head with the sawn-off shepherd's staff she carried for protection. Jack heard the sound and turned to see the woman he loved, who was going to be the mother of his child lying motionless. Demented with grief and rage, Jack sprung at Mary and the two fought like wild beasts. Jack said after that it was accidental, and that he wasn't sure who was holding it, but somehow the sawn-of staff went off, hitting Mary first in the throat. then over her head. As she fell, Jack ran back to his lover, unaware that he too had been hit by the staff.  As he picked up Jill and tried to carry her down the hill again, he lost his footing, having become more and more woozy.  Dropping Jill, he fell to his knees and rolled down the hill, with Jill tumbling soon after.
Some time later, the couple were found by William "Wee Willie" Winkie, and were rushed to hospital Against all odds, both lived, and to the utter amazement of the doctors, Jill kept the baby.  She had to tell her family now, after all, her and Jack's story was going to be all over the papers. To her immense surprise, her father accepted it, and with just a mild rebuke offered Jack a job with his construction company. Jack turned out to be a gifted architect, and designed and build some of the finest houses in the land, indeed, many people were proud to say that the lived in a house that Jack built.
GoD York's policemen were marched up to the top of the hill to recover Mary's body, but when they got there, it was nowhere to be seen, so they marched down again.  York insisted on a full search, so split his forces and concentrated on the ridge which was about half way up the hill. What happened to Mary? No one ever knew.  Years passed and the story of Mary went into folklore. Some said that there was an old woman who lived just outside the city limits in a house which was a very odd shape, children calling it "the shoe", and the same some further said that she had marks on her which looked like the kind of scars you'd get from being too close to a sawn-off staff.  Was it Mary? Well... that would be telling

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Drive 55? Who, me? Pah, I mock your 55 Limits!

I have a dream. My dream may not be as noble or inspiring as Dr Luther-King's dream, but then I am not as noble or inspiring myself.   My dream is simple. I want to take 6 months of my life, and traverse the great heaving mass of contradiction and inspiration that is the USA.

I make no bones about it, I would move to the US tomorrow if I thought I could get a visa. Ever since I was a kid I've had a bizarre fascination with the US and A, to the point where I would find myself fervently twisting the dial (and for once, no, that's not a euphemism) to find the American Forces Network so that I could listen to them broadcasting a baseball game, or a football game (one of the first broadcasts I remember listening to was a Rosebowl game, I don't remember the combatants).  I don't remember when the idea to make a trans-continental road trip first occurred to me, probably during one of my trips to the US, but it was certainly reinforced by a couple of books I read - The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson, and America Unchained by Dave Gorman.  The former is a memoir (published in the mid 80s) of the Author re-creating some of the trips of his childhood having recently lost his father (my dad had died not long before I read it, which gave it a degree of poignancy with me), where he is trying to find the essence of America instilled in one town.  The latter is a journey of epic proportions where Gorman attempts to drive from coast to coast using only independent retailers, hotels, petrol (or gas) stations.  Both really reinforced how much I'd like to do that.

As I was talking to someone about it at work (again, AM - who is getting to be a bad influence on me, I mean I was all pure and innocent before she tried to corrupt me), I had a bit of spare time, so during lunch, I mapped out a theoretical map of the journey. You will see this map lovingly re-created to the left. I will be honest and say I am not sure if clicking it will give you the full size version, if not, then take my word for it, it is a thing of awe and wonder. I am aware that I've missed out a big chunk of the bible belt, as I have the two non-contiguous states, although I would like to go to Alaska at some point, and as I said to AM, I have to say that Hawaii doesn't really get me going, if I went there, it would be to see the USS Arizona memorial, otherwise I could see me getting bored.

Just in case you aren't able to see the full-size map, I start in Maine, work my way down the Eastern seaboard, a couple of days in DC (pretty much all of what I'd probably spend at the Udvar-Hazy centre (aerospace geek, remember - they have the Enola Gay, the Enterprise orbiter (which is due to be replaced by Discovery), a SR-71 Blackbird, a Hurricane, the only surviving Doenier Do335, a Concorde, a F4 Phantom (I grew up not that far from RAF Leuchars, which when I was a kid was a F4 base, so seeing (and hearing!) them zip about the sky wasn't uncommon, they still have a place in the geek part of my heart. Annoyingly, the last trip to the US I made saw me arrive at Dulles, but the one and only time I had a stopover of less than 4 hours, was the one time I wanted a massive stopover, so I had time to go to the Udvar-Hazy centre. I was so disappointed. Anyway...), then down, first major stop off would be a few days in Florida (including Kennedy Space Centre, of course), then back up inland to Nashville (actually, looking at it now, I have no idea why I decided to put a trip to Nashville in there. I hate country music), then zp back gown to Texas via New Orleans for some naked ladies (N.O.) and Tex-Mex food (TX), after a day or two in the Lone Star State, along to New Mexico, a few days in Las Cruces, then up to the Grand Canyon, a couple of days in Vegas (and of course, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas), then off to Cali, up the Western seaboard to Oregon and see if I can get some new trainers, then to one of the cities I've always had an urge to live in for some strange reason, Seattle. By then I would probably want a coffee, so I'm hoping that there would be some kind of coffee shop somewhere in Seattle. If I could get a coffee for a couple of bucks, that would be a star.

After this point, it starts to get a bit convoluted, I'd have to take the opportunity, seeing as I was so far West to pop up to Vancouver for a couple of days, before heading back, through Montana (again, no idea why... is there anything to see or do in Montana?), down to Utah (if I ever won the lottery, I'd create a hockey team in Utah, just so I could call them the Utah Saints and use "Something Good" by the band Utah Saints as their entry music. You are going to Grooveshark or Spotify to find that tune now, aren't you!), whilst in SLC I'll see if I can pick myself up a few wives, then head to Colorado and the Mile High City. After that, up to South Dakota for Mount Rushmore, then meander back east through Iowa stopping at Des Moines, if for no other reason than it's the birthplace of the aforementioned Bill Bryson, who was a major influence in the idea, then Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Columbus, Philly (for a cheesesteak) and then on to NYC, which would be the conclusion of my little jaunt.

Now, all I need to do is either win the lottery, acquire myself a rich widow who has a heart condition, or con charm someone into paying for it all for me!