Friday, 30 December 2011

My White Xmas

I took one of those cheap flights over the festive period, that Irish airline, not Cunni Lingus, the other one, RuinAir. Never again. I booked online, I started at eight and two hours later I was done. By then the fare had risen from £1 to £85 what with fees, fuel, oil and the captain's rum. Still it was only half what BA wanted for Malaga, which was where I wanted to go. But Riga looked pretty in the snow and the airport was only an hour from the Latvian capital. I’m a sucker for a bargain.

Airports are shopping malls with seats for eating where you may sit for a fee. Best not stay long. After an eternity the flight was called, the excitement of travel kicked in and I was on my way to the ever receding departure gate. Then the all comers race across the tarmac. I half inched a white stick so when the gun was fired I was well placed at the starting line. Twice I fell on the aircraft stairs but I was soon up and the  boot marks brushed out easily enough. The next thing was a crawl through fist fights and fallen bodies. Girls, they're such scrappers. Calm restored we went on an afternoon tour of the airport while they sold us booze, balm and bandages. A kick and a roar and we were in the air.

It's an odd thing flying, you sit motionless in a tube, time passes and you get off somewhere completely different. Meanwhile you keep yourself occupied with magazines that have nothing in them and sounds that cost a fortune. I paid for the phones but I was damned if I was going to pay for a piss. I filled a Lucozade bottle and lost it on the floor. The trolly-dolly sold it for a fiver. By then we were on our way down.

Shiver, shudder and bumpity-bump and we were skipping across the ice. The natives turned out to meet us at the foot of the stairs. In their funny fur hats they had a passing resemblance to Russian soldiers. That's when I saw the Kalashnikovs. Oops, wrong airport.

Three nights in the local Lubyanka isn’t my idea of a holiday but bread and water thrown in it cost me nothing. And just as well, eighty five quid and all I had was a bloody single. So no more RuinAir for me, this summer I'm flying Icarus Airways.

Friday, 23 December 2011

A Child's Verse & An Adult's.

Hark the horrid angels sing,
How long is a piece of string?
From one end unto the other, 
If you like go ask your mother.
Roll it in a ball and kick it, 
See if you can take a wicket,
With two chopsticks you can knit it, 
Ask your granny to unpick it.
Hark the horrid angels sing,
Has any bugger seen the string?

(copyright reserved)

There was a lady from St Bees
Who was stung on the wrist by a wasp,
When asked if it hurt
She said it did not,
A jolly good thing it wasn’t a hornet.


Friday, 16 December 2011

My Life With The Stars

A life spent in radio you'd think I'd met a fair number of famous people and you'd be right. If only I could remember who they were. Too many were politicians, who being all things to all men draw you in even as they draw away. You cannot get close. The stars do things differently, they simply adore everybody. Away from the limelight the stars have work to do, among others with work to do, which is to make them sparkle.

I once met Madonna. She was in the fish queue at Waitrose. I didn’t recognise the ill tempered squirt until she whirled round to blank the grinning counter hands. She was so surprised to see someone standing behind her she stepped back. I looked down and shrugged my shoulders, like what do you expect when you live in the public eye? Whereupon she whirled round again. She marched out with a bag of mussels under her arm. Whenever her name is mentioned you'll hear me say, 'I've seen her muscles.'

Being something of a boulevardier I pass a dozen or more famous faces in any one year, actors, writers, musicians, politicians out for a constitutional, all sorts. I see them but they don't see me. A recent find was David Attenborough, I autumn watched him in Foyle’s looking at one of his own books. He didn't buy it and neither did I. Later in Westminster station I stood ten feet from Ken Clarke and his minder. And surely that's Rich Hall in his western shirt sitting opposite me on the DLR?

Yes, I see celebrities everywhere. Why just the other day who should come down the avenue but Fulton Mackay, you know him, the disciplinarian warder from Porridge. We exchanged a few words. He was older than I remembered but his looks were plain to see, and who could forget the voice? I looked him up when I got home. Maybe I was mistaken. He died twenty years ago.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The King Dethroned

Elvis Presley - The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. You hear people say that, people deaf to Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry et al, assuming they have heard of them. The King, it’s something they've read in the papers. Clown Prince more like it.

Elvis was a country boy who wandered into Sam Phillips' Sun studios and sung a couple of songs he'd picked up from the poor blacks and whites around him. Sam liked his voice and he liked his style, he put some musicians round him and Elvis was on his way. He performed locally and wowed the girls with a naive sexual performance. Elvis the Pelvis. They stopped that.

The fakery started when Phillips sold Elvis’s contract to Colonel Tom Parker, he wasn’t a colonel, his name wasn't Parker, and he wasn't even an American. An illegal immigrant Parker dared not leave the USA, which is why Elvis did so little overseas touring. Nevertheless the fresh faced, sweet voiced boy became the biggest thing in popular music. But he was not Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Elvis made thirty terrible films and went to Vegas. He squeezed his bulk into tight white suits and sequins and performed nightly to hundreds of middle aged ladies. His repertoire was sentimental slush with a few oldies thrown in to show how dangerous he was. Spoiled he became a drug dependent dollop and died on the toilet eating a hamburger.

By then he was over the hill. It's said how one night when being driven home he saw a roadhouse holding an Elvis competition. He told his chauffeur to pull in and he would give the folks a surprise. He took part under another name and came third.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Goodbye Movember

I’ve never wanted a moustache and I don’t care for them on others. I'm told there are women who love nothing more than to be kissed by a man with a moustache. I’ll take their word for it but don't kiss me. The moustache comes in all shapes and sizes, there's Hitler’s toothbrush and Nietzche’s soup strainer, the whizzo-prang handlebars of the RAF and the boot laces worn by chinese sages. All gone. Good.

It's not widely known Der Fuhrer copied his smudge from Charlie Chaplin after seeing The Great Dictator. He hoped it would make him as popular abroad as he was at home. Groucho Marx went for a bolder version - an oblong of black grease. Any woman he kissed would have had one too - three, four .

It’s said Bulgarian men inherit their enormous black brushes from their mothers but this is a slur on the Balkan beauties. Fact is they keep them in a box and put them on when they go out. Their wives too. When I see a muslim woman peeping through Satan’s Letterbox I think at least the poor cow doesn't have to pluck her top lip. Let me digress, the wrong sex is wearing them! It’s the men and their horrible hairy beards that should be hidden from sight. See how they like it.

Until recently if you had a moustache you had to be gay. A certain type appropriated the manly look and took it for their own. Others shaved their heads and wore tight leather as well. Many still do. In the distant past when a hard looking bloke loomed out of the dark you had to be nervous. It was the same a short while back, you could be seized and kissed. Euuurgh, a moustache! 

Here's a dinner party trick. Draw a moustache on the protected side of your index finger. A Salvador Dali is good. When everyone is tight and wine bottles are rolling around the table curl your finger over your top lip and look around. It’s a killer.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Anarchy in the UK

Long time back I subscribed to an anarchist weekly called ‘Freedom’ and a theoretical monthly called ‘Anarchy’. I liked the ideas element in the monthly but found the weekly left wing nonsense. Alas in time the monthly lost its marbles the same way as the other. Curious to learn more I called in to the anarchist meetings held above The Lamb and Flag pub in Covent Garden. It was chaos, there were no rules of procedure, nothing was discussed, egomaniacs got up for no reason other than to promote themselves, everyone gossiped and squabbled, and much beer was drunk. Colourful and amusing in its own way but not inspiring. The London Collective of Anarchists couldn’t boil a three minute egg let alone lay the foundations of a new society.

The romance came to an end when their offices were burgled and the mailing lists stolen, Special Branch had taken everyone’s name and home address including my own. Alarmed I wrote to criticise their security and cancel my subscription. By return of post I received a crazed, vituperative and threatening reply. All the bile the writer had been saving up against the world was directed at me. At last he had a target.

I sent it back advising him to keep it to show his revolutionary friends as it would prove he was capable of attacking the innocent with no provocation. Bombing and mayhem was in the air and The Grosvenor Square Machine Gun Gang had just shot up the American embassy. In response he sent another mad missive in which only green and purple ink was missing.

So ended my days as an anarchist. In order to bring the correspondence to a conclusion I replied with Lord Sandwich's famous riposte. It did the trick. ‘Dear Sir, Your letter is before me, and soon it will be behind me.’

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Home Beautiful

I accidentally started to clean my sink yesterday and to my surprise discovered it wasn’t brown as I had always supposed. Then I did the plug hole which came up shining like silver. Amazing. An angel had alighted on my shoulder and I knew what it was to be house proud. There’s always something new. Encouraged I effected a similar transformation on the tiled floor, and in the process discovered the numerous marks were not holes and chipped edges as I had thought but trodden in food annealed with age. With my flabber ghasted I abandoned the Ajax and took a rest. I daren’t touch anything.

Dirty boy. But I keep my stove clean, it has a white top and I like to see it shine. I spend enough time bending over it. The same with the wash hand basin and the bath. I am also industrious with the toilet brush. Of all my wedding presents it alone has lasted. White surfaces demand to be seen. If the fridge light worked I would be in there as well.

And I vacuum the flat with every change of season whether it needs it or not. These things have to be done. I’m wall to wall carpeted and it’s fascinating to see grey turn red. Under the bed is best, fuzz and fur vanish in seconds along with a host of scuttling things. Then it’s into the machine with the sheets and pillow cases though it’s not summer yet. You can’t be too fastidious.

For light relief I periodically tidy the larder, it’s chock-a-billy with rusty tins, unreadable bottles and burst packets long forgotten, yet strangely as good to eat now as the day they were purchased. It's a proven fact peanut butter lasts forever. I'm chuffed to see my big Bovril only set me back two shillings and sixpence.

Writing this has been a bit of a bugger because the keyboard is so grimy. What it needs is a good scrub. I’ll do it later when I get my trainers and underwear out the bath.