Demention of Manacles


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Why has your loyal correspondent not done much writing, of blogs or novellas, this week?


Because your loyal and stupid correspondent has been and gone and bought himself a three-dimensional printer (for a project he can’t really talk about on here).

But he hasn’t bought just any 3-D printer. Oh no, he’s bought a cheap self-assembly, for-geeks-only Chinese clone of a high-end printer for under £100.

OK, it saves him around £600, but that’s £600 he could actually just about afford (for reasons which I can’t go into yet) and could well regain anyway with the proceeds from the project he can’t talk about, probably not ever, never.

And it causes him a lot of agonising, swearing and probably strain on his ageing (and broken) heart.

But it’s sort of assembled. It sort of switches on without going bang, and the software in Chinese has been replaced with a free download software he can understand (sort of). Maybe he’ll summon the courage to connect everything up and get all the drivers loaded and the plastic thread fed in and print some trivial shape to test it soon.

But first, he needs a long lie down. Go away.


Carmelia Spillsby’s Tonsils


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In my indefatigable quest to dig out and digitise my ‘juvenilia’ for posterity, prosperity, asperity and anything else like that, I discovered this little piece what I wrote for my kid sister, Karen, when she went into a cottage hospital in Nottingham to have her tonsils removed, c1971. I’d have been around 19, so I have no excuse.

I seem to recall that the nurses (whom I think were all nuns), found it hilarious and took copies, so my scrawl may not be the only copy in existence. Until now, when it is released into the wild of wordpress…


Carmelia Spillsby’s Tonsils

xxxLittle Carmelia Spillsby was quite glad of the change when she went into hospital. All the nurses were nice and friendly and the doctor who was going to take out her tonsils kept giving her sweets when Sister wasn’t looking. And she had plenty of books and jigsaws, jigsaws and books, and still more jigsaws to keep her happy.
xxxBut on the day of the operation, she was also glad to forget about all those endless jigsaw puzzles.
xxxThe operation was straightforward and successful. Carmelia slept through it, dreaming she was a jigsaw. The surgeon, who was as fed up with tonsils as she was with jigsaws, got the operation over quickly and efficiently, and put her tonsils in a specimen jar. Carmelia was wheeled off to her bed, where she soon woke up to see the friendly faces of the nurses smiling down at her.
xxxFor the rest of the week, cards, flowers, grapes and presents arrived from her family and school friends, as well as regular visitors. Soon Carmelia was thoroughly settled in, and of course that was just in time for her to go home again. She got dressed and off she went with her mother to catch the bus home.

xxxBut meanwhile, what about her tonsils? Left all alone in their jar, they soon became lonely and throatsick. Then they noticed that the lid on their jar had not been replaced properly. Freedom beckoned! They climbed out and then — they couldn’t believe their luck! The door to the laboratory was open.
xxxOut they crept, just in time to see Carmelia and her mother disappearing round the corner.
xxxQuickly but quietly (have you ever heard of noisy tonsils?) they followed them to the bus stop.
xxxNobody noticed them as they got on, not even the conductor, so they didn’t have to pay any fare, which was just as well as they had no money. Neither did anyone see them get off the bus and follow the Spillsbys home and up to the doorstep and into the hall.
xxxUntil Mrs Spillsby turned to close the door and looked down at the floor. There, on the lino, she saw two small red things, quivering with (though she wasn’t to know what they were quivering with) excitement.
xxx“Eurgh!” she exclaimed. Carmelia turned and looked too. Neither of them had ever seen tonsils out on their own before, so they didn’t recognise what — or whose — they were. The tonsils were just about to say, “hello; we’ve come back,” which Carmelia wouldn’t have liked much, because they’d been hurting her for months, when Mr Spillsby stamped on them and squashed them flat.
xxxCarmelia went to fetch a dustpan and brush. She helped her mother sweep them away and put them into the dustbin, and was never bothered by her tonsils again.

the end

(So how did you expect me to finish the story?!)


Art and Artifice


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A thousand apologies, effendi!

I was sweltering and schlepping in Glasgow yesterday, for the annual GSA degree show. Since the iconic Mackintosh building went up in a blaze of performance art, it’s been a matter of going from the Trongate in the South East (BA art) to the Glue Factory (MFA), up beyond the M8 in Cowcaddens, via the new college building on Renfrew St (design and stuff).

So, a great day out but well-knackered by the trane back to Ed.

So here’s a few pics of scenery, artwork and installasions trouvées:

And a page of graduating Elsies …

…who can be seen on my Elsie pages at my site

Which’ll have to do for now. See ya!

No, we give you cash cash money!


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It intrigues me that all the spam I get on this blog is in response to the same three posts, namely Yog Sothoth and All That, GSOH and Last Look-In to Brexit, all from at least two years ago. So someone is sharing these as spammable targets, rather than anyone actually visiting the site to find me, even as a victim. Not even crooks want to read my shit!

I take it that most of them just want me to click or like or something to increase their presence, while a few obviously want to tempt me into some trap where my meagre monetary resources and I can be separated in exchange for two thirds of fuck all.

But they come on ever-increasing numbers — 33 this week — in a range of languages and styles, telling me where to get advice on making the site more visible, telling me it isn’t visible and I need to do this that or the other or praising the layout and asking me where I found it.

At least, in a week where I’m too busy with piddling problems (that’s problems which are trivial, not problems with urinating), they give me some easy material, presenting the first few words of each English one, in order, to make something Dave Gorman likes to call a ‘found poem’.


No, we give you cash cash money!

What’s going down, I’m new to this?
If the corpse flower had been an individual,
Players have turned down White House invites:
The combination of aquaculture and hydroponics.
I’m extremely inspired with your writing abilities;
There are few fundamental stipulations which you must fulfill
Identical day delivery out there.
House prices have declined, defaults have risen;
The third method of fish farming is named,
In today’s world, in my opinion,
No, we give you cash cash money!
The Small Loans Regulatory Board,
Replica oakley sunglasses,
Costume wigs —
Thanks for any other great post

I thank you.

Do Not Pass Go


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I thought it was time to revisit what I think of as my juvenilia, though what it says when stuff written by a twenty-eight-year-old is classed as ‘juvenile’, I don’t rightly know. Even more so when it was revised at the age of forty-two.

So I got the scanner out and linked to an online OCR site (that’s my excuse for any gobbledegook that’s survived the proof-reading) and made a start with this piece, which Yrs Trly submitted to Games and Puzzles magazine, when, in lieu of getting a life, he went to various board game clubs (a phenomenon becoming popular once more with the loser community).

It all started when I got a genuine pang of conscience while playing Monopoly and replacing a row of houses with an hotel. What about the poor bleeders I was making homeless? Why isn’t the game packaged so that their cries of despair ring out with every such development?

I told you I was a loser.

Anyway, in early 1980 I rattled off this story and submitted it to David Parlett, the then editor of G&P, and author of such bibles as The Penguin Book of Card Games. A very nice reply said that they didn’t really do fiction, however relevant. He also gave some good advice about writing and practice to loosen up my style (sadly, all ignored). He said he thought the writing felt too stilted. In a way this was a compliment, as Mr Stropley, the narrator, is a stuffy character, which by reducing our sympathy makes his ordeal funnier (it says here). But I could see that too stilted a style could alienate the common reader before it had chance to entertain.

Two years passed and there was a change of editor and editorial policy of the now struggling organ (no, this isn’t a callback to last week’s blog). I’d even been negotiating with its legendary founder, Graeme Levin, about opening a branch of his Hanway St. Games Centre in York (where I lived at the time). But it seemed that the new editor, Nicky Palmer, might be open to silly stories in his mag.

I did a bit of rewriting, taking on boad some of Parlett’s wisdom, hopefully without making Stropley much less of a prig, and sent it off.

Palmer preferred the original. He loved it and thought it would be ideal for the new look. It would be in a forthcoming issue and the fee would be rather nominal, much less than the £80 I was getting for silly articles in the computer trade press (which may well appear here one day). As if I cared. I was in a well-paid job and only wanted publishing ‘cos I was and still is a complete tart.

That issue never forthcame of course, nor did the fee. The magazine stopped struggling and died completely. But here’s what I wrote. With notes at the end, since many of the games referenced will be probably be unfamiliar to anyone under fifty. Clubs are playing very different games these days, even away from the ubiquitous hand-held shoot-em-ups. Though I suspect the Monopoly and Cluedo references will never die, whatever they do to the pieces.

Enjoy (if you can)…

Do Not Pass Go 

My alarm clock insisted that I wake and face another bright summer morning. Opening my eyes, I had cause to doubt its accuracy, since the room was but dimly lit as with the first light of dawn. Still uncertain, I went to the window and peered out between the curtains. The sun was indeed shining but my house was being shaded from its rays by a massive, silver-grey column standing in the middle of the road.

I believe I was justified in being furious. Pulling my clothes on, I rushed into the street. All was quiet and the street was empty, but for what I now saw to be a huge metal dog, towering over the whole area. I stormed indoors and rang the police.

“There’s a huge metal Scottie outside my house!”

The officer was understandably sceptical. In fact he refused to believe a word I said and made impolite comments about hoax callers. I failed utterly to convince him that I was the victim, rather than the perpetrator of a practical joke and finally he hung up on me. Exasperated, I went back outside. The dog had gone!

I concluded that I must have been hallucinating after all and turned to go indoors just as the bulldozer turned the corner. I spun round to look at it just as the lorry turned the corner.

“What on earth is going on?” I asked myself just as the mobile crane with the heavy metal ball hanging from it came into view.

“What on earth is going on?” I shouted to the lorry driver.

“We’re demolishing this row of houses, mate,” he replied as the heavy metal ball swung back.

“Hey, wait a minute! This is my house!” I cried as the heavy metal ball smashed in the front wall.

“I wouldn’t know about that, mate.”

“But you can’t just knock my house down like this,” I shouted as they just knocked my house down like that.

“Sorry mate, but I got my instructions. We’re to knock these houses down to make way for a new hotel.”

“This is ridiculous!” I raged. “I’m going to the police.”

“Please yourself, mate,” the man said and I marched up the road while my house was reduced to rubble behind me.


Even after my ordeal, the policeman at the station was still unsympathetic. Perhaps I should have left the dog out of the story, as he seemed to treat me as suitable for care in the community from the moment I mentioned it. Nonetheless and wearily, he took a handful of forms from a drawer and started filling them in with Name, Address, Inside Leg Measurement and Nature of Complaint. As we were starting on the umpteenth form a door marked CID swung open and disgorged a rotund, red-faced man in a tweed suit. He was obviously about to leave but as he saw me he stopped with a look in his eyes that I didn’t like at all.

“Aha!” he shouted suddenly, advancing menacingly and pointing his lollipop at me, “Were you or were you not at Tudor Close on the night of the 13th?”

“No. I’ve never heard of the place,” I replied.

“Don’t give me that! Sarge, got anything on this specimen?”

“Nowt sir, but he’s a rum’un all right.”

“Aha,” he said again. “I accuse you of the murder of Dr Black. I put it to you that you found him in the library all alone. You saw your chance, seized a nearby candlestick ”

The sergeant coughed politely and handed a small card to the man who studied it for a moment. He seemed puzzled but soon regained his composure and continued.

“… seized a nearby length of lead piping and beat the good Doctor to death. Then you dragged him to the top  of the cellar stairs and threw him down. Finally you escaped through the kitchen window.”

“But I’ve never even heard of …”

“Come off it son; you don’t fool Mustard of the Yard so easily. Take him away and lock him up lads.”

Despite my protests and struggles I was manhandled into a small cell, but only an hour or so later was told I could leave if I paid £50 bail. Luckily my wallet was in my jacket so I paid up and went out into the street. The events of the morning had left me too numb and scared to argue my case any further and, realising I no longer had a home to go to, I decided to head for my brother’s home in the Midlands.

“Dynamite on the track ahead”

I noticed that my train was quite old fashioned and decided that it must have been a special run laid on for enthusiasts. I settled back in my seat and stared despondently out of the window. Soon we had left the city behind and were passing through green fields and small villages, with quaint names like Flibwich, Mintoft, Buffalo Creek …

Buffalo Creek?

The train lurched to a halt in a surprisingly arid landscape, hardly recognisable as Southern England. The other passengers fidgeted nervously and talked among themselves in hushed whispers until a guard appeared,

‘Nothing to worry about, y`all – just some dynamite on the track. Fireman’s a-shiftin’ it now and we’ll soon be movin’ on,” and he passed into the next carriage.

Everybody seemed to take this news quite calmly. Much more calmly than they took the sight of a tribe of what I believe are now termed Native Americans on horseback who attacked the train a few seconds later. A party of braves entered the carriage from one end as I ducked through a door at the other and jumped to the ground.

But not to safety. A brave on horseback had spotted me and was beginning to charge.

“Your horse has lost weight with excessive galloping”

At that instant a great cry went up and my attacker stopped in mid-charge. With great equestrian skill, he swung his horse round through 180 degrees and was knocked off it by the open door of the train, to which he had been a little too close for such a manoeuvre. He lay senseless on the ground while his more fortunate companions grouped together and rode off into the distance, crying, “Death to Custer!”, “Geronimo!” and, “Today, the Little Big Horn, tomorrow, Flibwich!”

I seemed to be the sole survivor of the raid. The brave’s horse was my only companion and my only hope of returning to civilisation. Having no idea where I was, I mounted and rode alongside the railway line into the West. Finally a town came into view and on the outskirts I read a sign directing me to the “Stables: 2 miles”.

But, not unlike myself, my steed was hungry and tired, so I was glad that the first building I came to bore the legend “Forage Merchant”. I purchased food for the horse which cost me £25 and we continued on our way until a man in a white coat accosted me.

“I’ve been watching that horse of yours,” he said. “Very good; should do well”

“Er, thank you,” I replied nervously. “In what walk of life, may one ask?”

“Not a walk. Oh, no.” He chuckled and rubbed his bony hands together. “I mean in the race of course. My card, sir.”

He handed me a small card which was totally black. I thanked him politely and began to ride off but he ran after me.

“That will be fifty pounds please,” he said breathlessly, as he strode along beside me.

“What on earth for?”

“Why, vet’s opinion, of course. And the card. Now pay up or return it. Though I must say that I’d keep it if I were you. That’s a fine steed you know.”

“If you like him that much,” I said, dismounting, “you can have him.” And with that I placed his card and the reins firmly into his hand and strode off.


My only hope now seemed to be to find a phone and contact someone in London. Back at work people would be wondering where I was. In fact, I was wondering where I was.

I soon found a kiosk and dialled the office. A rough, unfamiliar voice answered so loudly that it could be heard plainly with the receiver at arm’s length.

“Look here, Smallpiece, that story of yours is unprintable. What do you think you’re playing at man? It’s libelous, obscene even. OK, I think it’s worth following up but you’re going to have to do a rewrite. What say you redo it, leave out the donkey and we’ll get a few nude birds and a model dressed as the Bishop for some ‘reconstruction’ pics for next issue, hey?”

“Sorry, wrong number,” was the most constructive reply I could come up with.

I tried again.

“Stropley’s products, ‘ere” answered a more familiar voice.

“Smedley,” I said with a question mark.

“Yus, mate,” replied the janitor, with no more than a full stop.

“This is Mr Stropley speaking Why are you answering the phone? Where’s Miss Flintwarp?”

“She’s left sir. Said she was offered a better salary elsewhere.”

“I’d better speak to Harigalds then.”

“Sorry, sir. Mr ‘Arigalds left too sir. Got a job as Sales Manager for British Fings Limited. All the staff ‘ave gorn actually. There’s just me ‘ere at the moment — and Mrs Brunt, the tea lady.”

“Good man, Smedley. At least I can rely on you. Anyway, I can’t … ”

“Well,” he interrupted me, “I’m afraid it’s like this, sir. I’ve been offered a better job. At British Fings, sir. Mr ‘Arigalds put in a good word for me, so, er sorry, sir.”

I put the phone down, utterly shattered.

 “Take one lorry …”

There was another man waiting to use the phone. The driver of a large truck which was parked across the road and loaded with two large pyramid shaped containers. I waited for him to finish his call and asked him for a lift. He said he was taking his cargo to the docks at Newport and I’d be welcome as far as that.

The journey took us through hilly country on our way to the coast. Although it was uneventful, my companion’s conversation was no help to my anxious state of mind, with talk of frequent landslides, bandits and hold ups on blocked roads. To say the least, I was glad when we arrived at the docks and I could get out of the cab with profuse and partially sincere thanks for his kindness.

I sat on a bollard by the harbour and thought about my next move. Perhaps I could risk setting foot in a police station once more, if only to get my bearings. I got to my feet and walked towards the harbourmaster’s buildings to ask for directions.


“Hold hard there, Landlubber!” a voice boomed out suddenly. I turned and looked at the vessel I was passing. It was a fully decked old sailing ship which I had assumed to be some sort of floating museum. At the top of the gangplank stood a tall figure dressed as a pirate captain, complete with eye patch and parrot. I thought he must be seeking my custom as a tourist.

“Sorry; no time,” I called back. “Must be on my way. Got to get to London.”

“Oho, must ye now? he roared. “You b’aint going to London; you be coming with Black Jack to sail the seven seas: next stop Treasure Island.”

No, I’m afraid I must refuse your offer of a boat trip.” I called, staying remarkably polite in the circumstances. The last thing I wanted was the jaunt round the bay which I thought he was selling.

“It be no offer, ye scurvy knave” he bellowed, with less good humour than before. “This be my port and I’m claiming ye as crew! So get aboard afore I have ye dragged aboard and ye have to spend the first half o’the voyage in irons!”

He waved his hand and a number of most uncouth looking fellows appeared at his side. They didn’t look the sort to listen to reason, let alone a story about giant metal dogs, so I ran for it.

I ran faster than I had ever run  before, the shouts of the pursuing pirates ringing in my ears. I reached the countryside beyond the town and still they followed. I turned a corner and climbed over a stone wall. I crouched down behind it just in time to hear the yelling horde dash past.

I lay on my back, exhausted but relieved. Then my relief turned to despair as I thought about my situation. Then my despair tinned to stark terror as I looked into the clear blue sky. Two vast cubes were falling through space: one of them directly onto me. I just had time to make out a pattern of four large black circles on the nearest surface before everything went black.

“Move up one position”

I woke up bathed in sweat. Sunlight streamed into my room through the gap in the curtains. Outside, birds chirped and milk bottles rattled on a passing float.

I breathed a long sigh and made a mental note not to eat so many toasted cheese sandwiches during late night Formula One sessions.

Wondering what the time was, I turned to look at the clock but something else caught my eye that made me gasp in surprise.

On my bedside table, beside the clock, were a large pile of carrots – and three lettuces.

the end

(1980, revised 1982 and 1994)


The chapter headings are from the cards or other instructions drawn during the relevant boad game, marketed by Waddingtons in the UK in those days.

Do not pass GO
… obviously from Monopoly®, the classic property trading game.
?Cluedo, Colonel Mustard being usually one of the suspects
Dynamite &cRailroader, in which players lay track and then move small trains through the Wild West
Your Horse &cTotopoly, the horse racing game, in two sections; the training part, in which cards can be collected to give horses extra goes in the race section.
!!! Scoop! The gimmick in this game, the object of which was to fill and publish your newspaper first, was a randomizing cardboard ‘telephone’, which could see the editor praise or condemn the poor hack’s efforts.
Take one lorry … Later The Business Game, but originally Mine a Million. Players mined tiny plastic pyramids in the hills and then had to truck them down to the coast and sell them at the docks or abroad (via lorries and cargo ships).
Stropley then finds himself in the game of Ratrace, where running one’s own business is as fraught as in real life.
PIECES OF EIGHT … the classic Buccaneer, where pirate ships had to be crewed and sailed to amass the best fortune of gems, pearls or small barrels of rum
Move up one position … and the final denoument, the classic then I awoke and it was all a dream twist, for which the authorial head now hangs in shame, was a quote from a game developed by Mr Parlett himself, called Hare and Tortoise, using a novel replacement for dice, where a player chose how far to go in exchange for the energy stored in a collection of carrots and lettuces. Awake, our hero has left Waddington World, as H&T was made by Intellect Games (and later by German games giants, Ravensburger)

And there you have it (if you’re still with me, poor, tired reader). Maybe more of this rot will be dug out soon. At least with one’s early writing, one can say, I was younger then. It’s the current crap I have no excuse for.


A Little off the Top, Sir?


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What a busy week.

On Saturday I took on the mantle of Richard Burton, as First Voice in excerpts from Under Milk Wood.

I spent days tuning, breaking and buying new strings for the banjolele, I shifted all the crap from one end of the kitchen to the other, ready for the gas safety inspection. All back now… 

The annual check is the only time the area gets thoroughly cleaned. There were enough breadcrumbs under the breadbin (aka microwave) to give each of the Five Thousand a doggy-bag to take home.

But between all that, this week I ‘a’ been mostly makin’ — a video. First preparing the accompaniment using the poor man’s Sibelius 7, Noteworthy Composer (plenty good enough for my purposes, so thanks, guys). Then setting up some sort of backdrop and recording it as an OK draft at least.

So here it is. A sensitive subject, insensitively handled, I’m sure it will give offence to someone for one or more reasons.

Well, if I don’t offend nobody, I ain’t doing my job right. Looks like I’ll be offending as many as five or six people a night during the Edinburgh Fringe too: catch our show at Bar Bados on the Cowgate, 8pm nightly except Mondays.

Without further ado or any apology, except to Lionel Bart, I present via youtube:

… and the text (if you’re a glutton for punishment) can be found here (with glossary)


By Irritation Only


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It is a source of wry amusement (though not of surprise, at least to a structuralist who knows that every statement implies the possibility of its opposite and that sod’s law rules over all), that the growth of corporate ‘customer service’ departments has led to the near-extinction of the last vestiges of anything remotely worthy of the name. Indeed, dedicated ‘customer vexation’ departments couldn’t do a worse or more annoying job.

Yes, of course a department in which dedicated and well-informed bright young things answered each phone call personally within three rings and gave careful consideration to every petty query would be prohibitively expensive and counter productive, as the sparky employees would soon lose the will to live faced with endless queries about which is the ‘any’ key they’ve been asked to press and who haven’t checked that their spodulator is actually plugged in and switched on. And the cost of that would be passed on to the punters. 

But after a day in which I should have been recording a video, rehearsing Under Milk Wood and trying once more to tune a banjolele, but have instead spent ages on phone and website trying to sort out my non-functioning electricity meter, book a visit for a gas inspection and get a replacement for my tv-box remote control, I am more convinced by those who want to go off-grid, live by nature’s clock and shit like bears in the woods. That and firebomb a few offices — though that way only the poor schmucks they use to keep their customers from holding them to account for shoddy, not to say shite service would bear the brunt of my frustration.

Let’s bypass the on-going saga of utility futilities and go straight to the gas inspection. My landlord has been getting me to arrange this for him ever since he fled the country to work in Hong Kong and snorkel off some of the world’s most exotic beaches (which seems to take up most of his time, if his social media feeds are anything to go by). Every year there have been more hoops to jump through to arrange it and I think (hope) we just hit peak hoop. In previous years I think I’ve gone straight to the local firm who do the actual work and arranged with Morag that Angus will come oot next Tuesday.

Not any more.

The insurers don’t have one of those annoying, “if you are calling about a claim, press one” systems. Oh no, they have a fucking infuriating, “if you are calling about a claim, please say, ‘I am calling about a claim'” systems. Shades of the sketch with two Scotsmen screaming “Ulevun” in a speak-your-floor lift!

There was a twenty-tiny-digit number on the letter I got, telling me the inspection was due, but it didn’t say that was the account number so when the voice asked for policy number I said “don’t know”, which didn’t phase it, so, in my best re-ceived pro-nun-ci-a-tion, I gave the property address, phone number, my inside leg measurement and whatever other trivia it asked for, eventually to be asked the obvious question of what I was ringing about. From the series of options I clearly stated I was ringing to “arrange a gas inspection”, and was immediately put through to a woman who asked me when I put in my original damages claim. And then redirected me to the gas inspections department, which a human operator could have done ten minutes earlier, if it wasn’t for all that bollocks.

Once on the phone to the cheery Diane, it was plain sailing and very chatty. No, I don’t have a dog … well, I have a stuffed one, but he’s usually harmless. Diane makes note to warn fitter: ‘looney’.

Then it’s the tellybroadbandphone provider. Look online. Lots of helpful FAQs (so called because within five seconds they have you yelling, “What the FAQ would I ask that for?”) and a tree of options within options that would dwarf Darwin’s tree of life if it contained every species that ever lived. Eventually I get to ‘lost or broken tv remote’, which will have to do, though its more a case of tv remote falling to bits with old age, rather like its owner, who would quite like a modern replacement for the whole cable box, which is so old it isn’t even shown on their screen as one of the models. Not that it matters, as the best the ‘help’ system seems to do is direct me to ring 150 on my phone and press option two. Only, option two is for phone issues, not telly. But option two within option one (faults) within option one (telly) does seem more hopeful. It’s to do with telly service not working, which is as near as it gets.

And the system asks me to stop watching telly (I wasn’t) and make sure everything is plugged in (it was) while they run a remote test, which would take a few minutes (I didn’t select, I hung up).

Now this did fix my wifi issues last month so it’s not totally stupid, except in this case I know the telly box is working fine and nothing they can do remotely will be remotely useful in correcting or even identifying a bust spring in a remote and ageing remote control. Remotely.

But nothing you can press gets you straight to an operator. I’m now told that selecting “I’m thinking of switching to a new provider” can do the trick, but I fear that would only be after selecting options within options of how long I’ve been with these, why I’m not happy and so on, none of which would be the expletive-laden option I’d most like to choose.

I should just say I had been trying the other option of ‘live chat’ from the get-go, but was constantly told that the team (active 8am to 8pm on Wednesdays) was not available right now (from 10am to 2pm on this fucking Wednesday).

But do I have any faith that, even if I switched to a promising new mob, they’d be any better (or remain good value) once I was a settled customer, would be worth all the upheaval of changing router, telly box, phone line? No, I don’t.

I’ll keep tweaking the batteries and try again tomorrow.

When I’ve tuned the banjolele.

For which my shiny new carrying case arrived today, yay. I’ve even decorated it with a Woody Guthrie tribute (and parody) sticker [This machine annoys fascists, (and everybody else, actually)]. Scottish fucking Power, Homeserve, Virgin bloody media, you may be masters of irritation but I reckon I can deliver far more offence, frustration and annoyance at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer.

Bar Bados, 8pm, nightly except Mondays. You have been warned.

Spring Trickles


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Igor Stravinsky said that his ballet, Le Sacre du Printemps, was inspired by memories of the violent Russian spring that seemed to begin in an hour and was like the whole Earth cracking.

 Well, this year, more than ever, the Scottish Spring is like a shy maiden, that keeps poking her head round the door but lacks the confidence to make an entrance …

… for fucking months!

Oh to be in Spainland, now that April’s past! Will it never be warm here for more than a day?

Oh well, Autumn in Ronda beckons; I’m kinda fond-a Ronda

How Sweet to be a Bloggerer … nibbles from my antisocial media week


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[A basefuck friend is to interview Neil Innes soon]

Gosh. Saw him at Uni with Grimms, in Leamington Spa when Off the Record came out and a few years back with the Bonzos. Great talent and Innes Book of Records was a gem of a show.

In 1973, my friend Dave (now my friend Jenny) was being driven into Manchester when he yelled, “Stop! There’s a duck!” Mike, the driver slammed the brakes on at great risk to life and limb, and Dave got out and came back with a large plastic duck on wheels. Later he cut the base off and wore the duck as a hat, à la “How Sweet to be an Idiot“.

A bunch of us were on a canal holiday in Stourbridge in the mid 70s, and all piled into a chippie for us teas. My ex-wife-to-be, Heidi, was wearing the duck as we got served, causing some amusement and bafflement. As we went outside to eat them, Dave took the bird back and wandered off. I stood with Heidi eating our fish suppers, when we were approached by a curious vision. ‘Twas a not-quite-young woman with a beehive hairdo, a near-transparent red lace blouse over a push-up black bra, a leather miniskirt over fishnet tights and six inch stilettos, accompanied by a short, squat chap in a tatty jumper and trousers. She had obeyed Hamlet’s injunction to ‘paint an inch thick’ and her false eyelashes reached us quite a while before she did.

“Where’s yer duck?” she asked the wife.

“Oh, it’s not mine, our mate’s got it now.”

“It’s not right. It’s not normal; you’re a weido,” she said in all seriousness. Her companion tried to pour oil on the waters — “they’re just young folk ‘aving a bit o’ fun”, but she got more and more worked up.

“No, it’s not right; she shouldn’t be allowed out. Yo sh’d be in Stafford, yo sh’d!”

Eventually she wandered off still muttering that Heidi should be locked up in said establishment and we spent the evening debating who actually looked the more ridiculous.

All inspired by Mr Innes.


[Some guy asked for people to fill in a survey on veganism for his studies. In the ensuing discussion someone recounted their experience of being called a murderer (which he said betrayed a lack of understanding of the legal meaning of that term) by veggie weirdos, but said if people were doing what they believed, that must be doing good…]

Is it inherently good if people do what they think is good? Probably most crimes have at least one culprit who thinks the action right. After all, Socrates said no one does evil intentionally (ie we all think our sins can be justified in some way). I think vegetarianism is ethically dubious, but most veggies seem to think they have the moral high ground.

I once told my nephew I used to be a vegan until I realised I couldn’t reconcile it with my ethical and spiritual beliefs. My sister cut in to say “you don’t have any ethical and spiritual beliefs!” I said, “exactly, so why be vegan?”

I was of course being disingenuous; I do like to think I consider such questions all the time, even though I tend to say that spirituality is an affliction of the insufficiently occupied.

I also have a character in a novel explain a lapse from vegetarianism with, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is tasty,” though I am always annoyed when people genuinely ‘justify’ being carnivores with, “but I like meat.” I like butchering small children, but it doesn’t make it right.

I think Hitler and Stalin were doing what they believed; I don’t think they made the world better, except in stmulating those who want to stop people like them doing the same again.

To be fair I think those who say meat is murder know what the legal definition is, but think that definition in being anthropocentric is inadeqaute. Of course, a standard answer is that if meat is murder, vegetarianism is genocide, as many livestock species would have to be wiped out, to release land etc.

I can’t help feeling a lot of it stems from thanatophobia.

But the debate can only be a good thing. Sadly many discussions of this topic get rather heated and angry. So far this thread is doing very well. But I agree with David Hume that philosophy is best done by convivial discussion over a bottle of wine. I suspect he’d have been less keen on social media as a platform for meaningful discourse.